Middle School is located on the Toledo Campus for levels 7 and 8. Mary Brandon and Tom Strong are the classroom’s co-teachers.
WSM Middle School Sweeps Toledo Bar Essay Contest
Posted by West Side Montessori
Congratulations to West Side Montessori middle school students Claire Kohler (8th), Libby Stupica (8th),and Madalyn Vesoulis (8th), who won first, second, and third place, respectively, in the Toledo Bar Association annual Caty Armstrong Memorial Law Day Essay Contest for Division III (7th and 8th grade students). This is the fourth time in the last five years that West Side Montessori middle school students have been awarded the top three places. A WSM student has earned first place in 5 of the last 6 years.
The essay question for the 2014 essay was “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters.” The contest required a 500-word essay examining the topic of whether individuals should be required to show photo identification in order to vote, if such requirements are discriminatory, and whether there are better alternatives for maintaining the integrity of elections while still ensuring ease of access to the voting booth to all eligible people.
Below are the essays submitted to the TBA essay contest:
Protecting America’s Vote
by Claire Kohler (1st place)
Our country’s history is a long struggle of expanding voting rights to every citizen. Suffragettes and civil rights advocates fought to have access to the ballot box. The promise of the Constitution, that every person has a voice in choosing their government, must be guaranteed to all. However, today we face new problems that are limiting many people’s ability to vote. Photo identification is one such problem, and it should not be required, because it is discriminatory.
The 15th Amendment clearly states, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” This, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, made voting more accessible for every citizen. But requiring photo ID makes voting more difficult for specific groups of people who tend not to have a drivers license or state ID: senior citizens, college students, people without a stable address, low-income adults, people in large cities who don’t drive, and especially minorities. Up to 700,000 minorities would be unable to cast a ballot in the election because of the ID requirement (Senne).
Also, imposing new ID restrictions can cause unexpected complications. A judge from Texas who had voted for 52 years was not able to vote because her maiden name on her voter registration did not match her drivers license (Rhodan). She and 34% of women voters could experience similar issues, putting their ability to vote at risk (Rhodan). It would be possible for someone like an elderly woman, who may have been alive for the passage of the 19th Amendment, when women were finally allowed to vote, to suddenly be denied the right to vote for lack of a photo ID.
There is no justification to disenfranchise so many voters. There are other alternatives that make voting accessible to everyone. For example, signature comparison is a better solution. Poll workers compare the registration signature against a live signature at the time of voting. This method could eventually be done electronically and be even more accurate than photo recognition. Advocates of photo ID claim that photos are a perfect solution to prevent voter fraud and make voting easier. However, voter fraud is not actually a problem. A study from ABC News showed that out of the 197 million votes cast between 2002 and 2005, only forty people were found guilty of fraud (Bingham).
Photo identification laws are discriminatory because they affect specific groups of people. Voting is a right for everyone, not just those with a photo ID. The vote is the voice of our democracy; we must to protect that voice and keep it strong. America has come too far from the days when we excluded people’s vote because of race, gender, or class. We must not go backwards. To continue to form “a more perfect union” we need to use our American ingenuity to make voting equality a reality for all.
Photo Identification Not Necessary
by Libby Stupica (2nd place)
Laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls can exclude many citizens from voting. Specific ages groups, ethnicities, and people with lower incomes are affected. Millions of dollars are wasted creating photo IDs every year. Voting fraud is rare in America and the nation does not need more laws that hinder citizens from voting.
Approximately 30 states have passed laws requiring photo identification at the polls (The Week, Voter Identification Requirements). These laws affect both senior citizens and young adults. Eighteen percent of Americans over the age of 65 do not possess photo identification (Augustus). College students may find the requirements discriminatory as well. In Texas, college students are not even allowed to use their student IDs as voter identification (The Week). It is not right to exclude the oldest and youngest of the voting population.
Senior citizens and college students are not the only ones affected by the new laws. The harsh voting laws are affecting specific groups of Americans, such as certain ethnicities and people with lower incomes. According to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, one in four African-Americans does not own any sort of government ID (The Week). This excludes 25% of a specific race from voting, which is very discriminatory. Photo IDs also discriminate against low income citizens. To get a “free” ID in South Carolina, one must first get a passport or birth certificate, which both have attached fees (The Week). There is no such thing as a free ID. The state of Missouri estimates that over $20 million will be spent to make photo IDs for citizens over the next three years (Augustus). These laws waste money and seem to target the poor and racial minorities. These factors raise suspicions about the real motives behind the laws.
While some people believe that a law requiring photo identification at the polls is made to exclude certain groups of people from voting, other people argue that the sole intention of the law is to prevent voter fraud. However, this argument is questionable considering how infrequent illegal voting is in America. Millions of Americans vote each year, but from 2002-2007 only 86 Americans were convicted of voter fraud (The Week) – an average of 14 people a year. There are already heavy fines and consequences for people who vote or try to vote illegally. Intentionally voting twice for a federal election is a third-degree felony in most states, and the punishments include five to ten years in jail and a fine up to $10,000 (Gifford). Elected officials should work to fix bigger problems instead of trying to fix virtually nonexistent ‘problems’ that have already been addressed.
Laws requiring photo identification at the polls are aimed at specific groups of citizens and are discriminatory. It is expensive for the poor to attain a photo ID. Certain age groups are targeted along with certain ethnicities, resulting in a very selective voting population. Photo identification at the polls prevents too much of the population from voting and needs to be stopped.
Photo Identification: The Correct Usage
by Madalyn Vesoulis (3rd place)
Photo identification is part of many everyday transactions in American life, including basic commerce, travel, and college acceptance. The TSA requires photo identification when individuals go through airport security, administrators require photo identification when students take standardized tests, and many stores require photo identification when customers use credit cards. But, in regard to something as important as partaking in the electoral process, photo identification is not required in every state. While, historically, some voting measures were discriminatory, as the majority stated in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder last June, times have changed and some restrictions that were considered necessary in the 1960s are no longer needed today (Shelby). Requiring photo identification at the polls is an acceptable state policy that, if done correctly, will reduce voting fraud and increase voting efficiency, without unconstitutionally limiting voter access.
The major benefit of requiring photo identification at the polls is the successful reduction of voter fraud. Voter fraud commonly occurs in states with looser identification laws, such as Minnesota, where a photo ID is not required, and voters can establish identity by simply providing a date of birth and an address (Gehring). These laws lead to situations such as the 2008 Minnesota Senate elections, in which it was discovered that they had “17,000 more ballots cast than . . . voters who voted” (Voter Fraud).
Today, there are states that have elections conducted with voter ID laws, and with no obvious discriminatory effects, including Georgia, Indiana, and Texas (Voter Identification). In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the Supreme Court held that requiring state or federal photo identification was not “unduly burdensome” on Indiana voters (Crawford, Oyez). Justice Stevens wrote: “State interests identified as justifications to vote, including deterring and detecting voter fraud, participating in a nationwide effort to improve and modernize election procedures, and safeguarding voter confidence [are] sufficiently weighty to justify, under [the] equal protection standard, any limitation imposed on voters” (Crawford, Westlaw). Requiring photo identification will necessarily reduce the potential for voting fraud and will streamline the voting process.
Photo IDs make the process of voting easier, making voting more inclusive for people to vote in a shorter time-frame. Photo IDs simplify and quicken voter verification, reducing long lines and costs because “less money would be spent on inefficient, out-dated data entry practices” (Benefits). Required photo IDs allow for voting to be all-inclusive within a limited time-frame.
All states with photo ID laws guarantee that those who do not obtain a photo ID can receive one free of charge. Von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation stated that “every state that has passed a voter ID law has also ensured that the very small percentage of individuals who do not have a photo ID can easily obtain one for free if they cannot afford one” (Voter Fraud).
In conclusion, photo ID is an acceptable policy that not only protects against corruption and ensures ease of access to all eligible people, but does so without unfairly limiting access to the polls.
Parents: Your Opinion Matters
Posted by West Side Montessori
West Side Montessori is in the process of being re-accredited by the American Montessori Society. This is a title that WSM is very proud to have as one of only five schools Ohio and of 126 schools nationally who have this special recognition!
An important part of the process to retain the accreditation is to offer an anonymous parent survey which allows families to express their opinions about our school, including our strengths and areas of improvement. Every opinion counts!
Please take a few moments to complete the specific campus – Perrysburg or Toledo – by clicking a link below to participate. Complete the general questions and then skip to the program-specific questions that pertain to each of your children. Your comments are welcome.
Perrysburg Campus Families
Toledo Campus Families
If done online, follow the directions to print off the “Thank You” page at the end of the survey, add your name, and return it to school. In doing so, you will earn two free hours of child care for your child! Your survey will still be submitted anonymously. Paper copies also are available at the front desk or you can complete an online survey using a laptop set up in the lobby.
Thank you for your continued support of West Side Montessori.
Middle School Wins Highest Point Award at Power of the Pen
Posted by West Side Montessori
West Side Montessori was the little school that won BIG at the Power of the Pen regional competition last Thursday, March 13. The two Middle School teams took first place in their respective team competitions. WSM’s combined team scores resulted in the school receiving the Highest Point Award for the top school in the region. It is the first time West Side Montessori has earned this award.
Congratulations Claire Kohler (8) and Benjamin Theis (7) for earning first place as individual writers. Other eighth level students recognized were: Maddy Vesoulis (2nd), Parker Caesar (11th), and Libby Stupica (15th). Zaynab Lazreq, a seventh level student, received 15th place. Benjamin also was recognized with a Best of the Best award for a story he wrote at the district competition in January. His story will be published in this year’s Book of Winners, showcasing the best stories from around the state of Ohio.
All the individual award winners now advance to the state competition on May 22-23 at The College of Wooster.
Congratulations to all the writers! The 8th level team includes: Parker Caesar, Claire Kohler (pictured right), C.J. Leonard, Wyatt Reynolds, Libby Stupica, and Maddy Vesoulis (left). The 7th level team includes: Hanna Ahmad, Sean Fernandez, Rachel Gorman, Zaynab Lazreq, Katherine Rex, and Benjamin Theis.
Power of the Pen is an interscholastic writing competition in its 29th year in the state of Ohio. Last week’s competition was held at Lourdes University in Sylvania. The region includes 31 schools from eight counties and is the largest in the state. However, due to last week’s weather conditions, nine schools were not able to participate.
Be sure to check out our blog beginning next week to read a few student stories !
Good Luck to Power of the Pen Teams
Posted by Middle School
Congratulations to all 12 writers on West Side Montessori’s Power of the Pen teams. For the second-straight year, everyone has qualified to write at this week’s regional competition. Power of the Pen in an interscholastic writing competition in its 29th year in the state of Ohio. The 8th level team includes: Parker Caesar, Claire Kohler, C.J. Leonard, Wyatt Reynolds, Libby Stupica, and Maddy Vesoulis. The 7th level team includes: Hanna Ahmad, Sean Fernandez, Rachel Gorman, Zaynab Lazreq, Katherine Rex, and Benjamin Theis.
Both teams will compete at the regional competition on Thursday, March 13, at Lourdes University. This event is the largest in the state with 31 schools from eight counties participating. Only 24% of writers at this week’s competition will move on to the state competition in May.
Good luck to everyone! We’re proud of you!
Time for Students to Turn Attention to Markets
Posted by West Side Montessori
Over 150 teams of middle schoolers vie for fattest portfolio after 12 weeks
By Chip Towns, Blade Business Writer
Boeing? Delta Air Lines? Spirit Airlines? Which company’s stock will take off over the next three months?
That’s what four middle-school students at Toledo’s West Side Montessori were trying to figure out last week.
Libby Stupica, Parker Caesar, Leen Yassine, and Benjamin Theis were busy on their computers, trying to pick four stocks that would do well over the next three months.
They and their classmates are competing in The Blade’s annual School Stock Contest, which gets under way this week.
Teacher Tom Strong had divided his students into six teams of four people. They will be among more than 150 teams competing in this year’s contest.
Libby, Parker, Leen, and Benjamin were putting together a diverse portfolio. They had chosen General Electric Co., Tesla Motors Inc., and American Eagle Outfitters. They were planning to add an airline stock.
Benjamin said he’d been studying Tesla and thought there was a good chance the stock price could either rise or fall substantially. He said he was willing to take a chance that the movement would be positive.
Parker said she chose American Eagle because people will be buying spring clothes, and the company did well last spring.
Libby said she has been watching GE since last year’s contest, and she thinks it is ready to move upward.
Leen said she liked Boeing Co. because of recent news about the company and because she thinks airline stocks will do well in the spring. But she was also considering Delta Air Lines Inc. or Spirit Airlines Inc.
All of the teams have picked four stocks that are selling for at least $5 a share. Each team gets a mythical $40,000 to be divided evenly between the four stocks. They will have one chance — midway through the 12-week contest — to exchange one or more of their stocks for another stock. At the end of the contest, the team whose portfolio has grown the most will be the winner. The winning team will get $250 for the students and $250 for the school. The second-place team will receive $250 for the school, and third place gets $100 for the school. Prizes may be cash or gift certificates.
The contest is sponsored by The Blade’s Newspaper in Education program, the Taylor Automotive Family, Fifth Third Bank, and the University of Toledo, which calculates the results.
The standings will be published each Tuesday in The Blade and on www.toledoblade.com/business starting on March 11.
Fifth Third Bank experts have been visiting classrooms to teach students some of the basics of investing.
“Fifth Third Bank wants to empower people financially, and we focus our community efforts on providing people with the financial tools, knowledge, and access they need to be successful,” said Ronald Belle, senior vice president and investment advisors division executive.
“Having the ability to earn a living, to manage finances responsibly, and to save income for future goals is important to everyone. Programs like the School Stock Contest introduce students to investing and reinforces sound financial principals early. This creates a pillar that can be built upon as the child grows and learns and becomes financially empowered,” Mr. Belle said.
Mr. Strong, who teaches math and social studies to the seventh-graders and eighth-graders at West Side Montessori, said the contest helps his students in a variety of ways.
He has them graph their stocks to keep track of their highs and lows. They use their math skills to figure out how many shares of a certain stock they can buy.
“You always get that question in math: ‘Why do we need to know this?’ This is like a real-life application. They are applying what they are learning to real life.”
His teaching colleague, Mary Brandon, points out that the contest helps students realize that current events can affect companies and their stock prices.
One of their teams last year finished sixth out of 115 teams. Others finished in the middle of the pack. One finished near the bottom of the standings.
Mr. Strong said students learned last year that one stock can do severe damage to a portfolio, even if the other three do well.
Some of the West Side Montessori teams were trying to apply another lesson learned last year.
“We are trying to make [our portfolio] more diverse,” Michielle Bland said.
Her teammate Maddy Vesoulis said her team last year made the mistake of having too many apparel companies. When the industry slumped, so did the team.
Ryan Gannon said the same thing happened last year when his team chose too many food-related stocks. Last week he was studying how Nintendo Co. Ltd. had done in various three-month intervals “because that’s the time frame of the competition.”
Students had various reasons for choosing stocks.
Claire Kohler said she suggested Chipotle Mexican Grill to her teammates because she likes the company’s values, including using chicken that is raised naturally.
T.J. Fidler pushed for Nike Inc.
“I’m a very big fan of their apparel,” he said. “I think it’s nice clothing, and you see lots of sports teams have the Nike logo on their uniforms.”
Trying to pick stocks that will do well over a 12-week period is slightly different than trying to make investments that will help secure your financial future over decades.
But there are lessons to be learned.
“This is a three-month contest, and we often see the students picking stocks because they like the company or the product produced,” Fifth Third’s Mr. Belle said. “Picking stocks in real life is not entirely different from that; we should buy companies we believe in.
“The experts at Fifth Third Bank are providing some guidance to the students before they pick their stocks, and we recommend that all investors seek sound, expert advice on any investment. A trained financial adviser can provide professional guidance to build an investment portfolio specific to each individual’s long-term goals,” Mr. Belle said.
Last year, a team from Springfield High School won the contest. During the 12 weeks of the contest, its mythical $40,000 portfolio fattened to $48,622. That increase of more than 21 percent far exceeded the 4.6 percent rise in the S&P 500 and the 5 percent growth in the Dow Jones Industrial Average during the same period.
Read more at The Blade.