All posts by Samantha Seely

Humans of Etown

The subject of the article (who wishes to remain anonymous) drums on a drum practice pad in his room.

When I met him in his room, he was drumming away on a drum practice pad — rat-ta-ta-tat, ratta-tat-tat-tat, rat-ta-ta-tat — occasionally twirling the drum sticks and flipping them in his hand. He’s a secondary English education major at Elizabethtown College, who’s known since his junior year of high school that he wanted to come here.

Broken spoons

His love of drumming and percussion has been with him since he was 4-years-old, when he was given a tiny Fisher Price drum set.

“My mom was tired of me taking spoons and hitting the edge of the tables and breaking both the corners of the tables and the spoons,” he said.

From then on, drumming became one of his passions. He has ADHD, so for him, drumming is a good physical release of energy that he can channel to calm his brain.

He still remembers the joy he felt when he got his first real drum set in seventh or eighth grade. While he’d known his parents had been talking of getting one for him, he hadn’t expected to come home from school one day to find giant boxes in the living room. Immediately, he wanted to get them out.

“So I called my mom, and I didn’t know she was in a meeting at work, and I just called her like five times, and she was like, ‘For the love of god, what do you need?’” He laughed. “And I was like, ‘Can I open these boxes?’ And she was like, ‘What boxes?’ ‘The drum boxes.’ And she goes, ‘Well that was supposed to be your Christmas gift, but go for it.’”

Superhero-in-training

Although he enjoys drumming, he hopes to become a high school English teacher. A self-proclaimed English nerd, he loves not just the literature — Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is his favorite book, both because of its strong story and always-relevant lessons — but also all of the quirks and “odd little intricacies” of the language’s grammar itself.

He’s always known that he wanted to be a teacher, and pairing it with his love of English seemed natural, especially since he believes in the power of the written word to change the world.

“Through elementary school I always kind of idolized my teachers, because when you’re little you just have this vision that ‘Holy cow, this person can do anything,’” he said. “I figured that I can still kind of fulfill that wanting to be a superhero case through the role of a teacher.”

A miniature zoo

In the corner of his room are two aquariums sitting on a desk. Inside of one there’s a beta fish, a catfish, and a frog. In the other, there are two tiny fiddler crabs.

While those are the animals he has on campus, he actually has a lot more pets back at home, including two guinea pigs, a bearded dragon, two turtles, a hermit crab, and a dog. When asked which pet was his favorite, he quickly protested: “I can’t choose favorites! That’s like a parent choosing their favorite child, I refuse to answer that question.”

The funniest thing that one of his pets has ever done was when his hermit crab escaped from his cage.

“He crawled down the side of his dresser, out the hallway, through the kitchen, down a couple of stairs, up a curtain, and sat on top of wind chimes,” he said. “And when I went to open the door, he fell off the wind chimes and scared the crap out of me.”

 

As the interview came to a close, he picked his drumsticks back up again and started beating out another tune on the practice pad, skillfully spinning the sticks in his hand — rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat. In the corner of the room, his fish continued swimming in their tank. Later, he will open his laptop to work on his next paper he has due. But for now, he enjoys the time to make some music.

Humans of Etown: Kelly Armstrong

Kelly Armstrong, first-year occupational therapy major, sitting in the Schlosser lobby.

Listen to the interview with Kelly: https://soundcloud.com/samantha-seely/kelly-armstrong-interview

Transcript:

What is your name, year and major?

“I am Kelly Armstrong, I am a first year, and my major is occupational therapy.”

What is the weirdest thing that’s happened to you at Etown?

“Weirdest? Do you want me to tell you the dog peeing on a box story? We were down in the lobby, and there’s a box where you can donate books, and there was a dog in the lobby, and he wasn’t taken out, so he peed on the box and there is still a pee stain on the box.”

How did you meet your best friend?

“Fourth grade, I was neighbors with my friend Abigail, and the one time she had me over as well as my now best friend Jacqueline, and the three of us hung out and then I got to know Jacqueline more and we’ve been friends ever since like fourth grade.”
When did you know you were going to come to Etown?

“I knew when I came here on a visit and they told me about the study abroad opportunities, so I found out I could go to India and do an internship with OT while over in India, and then I also heard about all the other service trips you can take in the May term, summer term, and stuff like that. So that’s why I came here.”

 

Also check out these Humans of Etown stories:

Ryan Runkle

Dana Morykan

It’s time we stop pretending gun violence is a problem we can’t solve

When I texted my mother from the bus to Washington, D.C., to tell her that I was going to the March for Our Lives to join hundreds of thousands of other people to march in support of increased gun control, she called me two seconds later to tell me that guns were not the problem, and that attacking the holiest of all our nation’s laws, the Second Amendment, was not the answer.

And thus the open invitation to endlessly debate me on the issue of gun control was sent out to everyone in my family, right down to my 10-year-old brother who told me I needed to stop protesting before I got myself killed.

The truth is, I’m not really sure why people seem to think that the problem of school shootings, or even gun violence in general, has nothing to do with guns. An extensive study done by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center confirms in every way what should be obvious: more guns equal more gun deaths. The same study found that states with more restrictions on firearms had fewer homicides and suicides caused by guns, even while controlling the study for a host of other factors, such as poverty, unemployment, race, and deaths unrelated to firearms.

Listen. I totally get why people love guns. I really do. I grew up learning how to use rifles and pistols from my grandfather, and the hunting season has always been a time of celebration. It’s part of the reason why I am not advocating the complete banning of guns, or the repeal of the Second Amendment.

What I am advocating for are common sense laws, protections that can decrease the deaths and injuries caused by firearms.

These are measures like requiring universal background checks, so domestic abusers and people who have previously committed crimes cannot easily get ahold of a gun, and waiting periods to get a gun, to prevent brief impulses that result in homicide or suicide.

Measures like raising the minimum age to buy a gun, as 18 to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at a rate nearly four times higher than adults 21 and older, according to research done by Everytown for Gun Safety.

Measures like reducing magazine capacity, so that shooters will be forced to reload more often, which could buy time for victims to escape and for law enforcement to get to the scene.

Measures like banning bump stocks, which speed up the shooting rate of a gun so it acts more like an automatic weapon.

Measures like removing the current ban on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from doing research on gun control, which vastly limits the data on the effectiveness of gun control laws and which measures help decrease gun violence the most. And before you say gun violence is not a disease, neither are car crashes, another public safety matter studied by the CDC.

My mother argued that “criminals and crazies will always be able to get a gun if they really want one.” But then why do we bother banning or preventing access to other things that are dangerous, like the ingredients needed to make bombs? According to the “Los Angeles Times,” after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, it became more difficult for people to obtain the ingredients needed to make bomb, and terrorist attacks using those weapons decreased, the new weapon of choice being the far less regulated method of guns.

Sure, there’s always going to be exceptions. But if we make it so that it’s even a little more difficult to gain access to a gun, it could help. At the very least, we have to try.

Because I’m tired of hearing about the next set of children who are dead. I’m tired of hearing about 9-year-olds who volunteer to stand in front of their classmates in a school shooting because they want to protect their friends. I have never known a world where school shootings were not commonplace events. As long as I can remember, I have had drills on what to do in case there is a shooter — lights off, lock the doors, hide underneath desks and out of sight, and if that’s not enough, and if the shooter still gets in and begins to kill your friends and classmates, play dead, hold your breath, and hope that the blood and bodies around you are enough to convince them that the job here is done, hope that he moves onto the next room, the next hallway. It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t have to be.

Marches are only the beginning. Now it’s time to call our representatives and demand change. And if they refuse, we go to the polls. And we vote them out.

 

This infographic lists five facts about the state of gun violence in the United States, as well as the effectiveness of increased regulations.

High winds and teamwork factor into girls’ tennis match

Juniors Grace Tang and Chani Kotscher from South Forsyth High School’s tennis team lost 6-4, 6-1 to juniors Alyssa Jane and Natalie Greeson from West Forsyth High School on Thursday, March 9 in the doubles varsity girls’ tennis match.

The match was held outdoors on a hard court at Fowler Park in Cumming, Georgia. While the skies were clear, the wind was strong, frequently changing directions and blowing the ball off the court.

“[Kotscher and Tang have] been working on coming into the net,” South Forsyth’s coach, Shari Frankel, said. “They were doing a good job of it, but today, with the wind, they were up at the net but mis-hit it, which is fine by me as long as they keep trying to come into the net, as that’s important in doubles.”

During the first set, the West Forsyth team had been leading by three games with a score of 5-2, when Tang and Kotscher scored several points in a row. It seemed as though the tide was turning, and the girls’ teammates, bundled in blankets and sleeping bags against the cold, cheered them on as South won two consecutive games, bringing the score to 5-4.

From then on the court was owned by Jane and Greeson, who took home the first set before winning five consecutive games in the second set. During Kotscher’s serve, she was able to win another game for South, but West won the last game needed to win the match.

Despite the loss, the players maintained a good attitude, and recognized Jane and Greeson’s skills. In particular, West’s teamwork stood out.

“[Jane and Greeson are] good at working as a team, they balance each other out,” Kotscher said. “When they got ahead they didn’t get overconfident or let their guard down.”

“They discussed their plan together and talked things out,” Tang said. “I tend to overthink things, and if something is going wrong I feel like the world is crashing, but most of the time I can get back into the game.”

While the high winds were a major influence in the game, West’s unity compared to South’s may have been the deciding factor in the direction the game took.

“[Tang and Kotscher’s] biggest weakness is their movement on the court with each other,” Frankel said. “Grace and Chani hadn’t played together this season at all, and the dancing on the court is pretty important when it comes to doubles.”

South Forsyth won the rest of the matches at the event. In the other doubles match, Libbey Laprise (12th-grade) and Alexis Vallianatos (12th-grade) won against Nadia Duckett (11th-grade) and Fiona Finn (10th-grade) 6-2, 6-3. In the singles matches, Ashton Morrison (10th-grade) won against Shea Connelly (10th-grade) 6-2,6-0, Brooke Yarbrough (9th-grade) won against Aspyn Butler (10th-grade) 6-0, 6-1, and Bailey McDaniel (9th-grade) won against Sandy Terry (10th-grade) 6-3, 6-2.

Click here to listen to podcast.

Guest Lecture on Solving Problem of Incivility in American Democracy

Monday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m., the Center of Global Understanding and Peacemaking at Elizabethtown College hosted a guest lecture in Gibble Auditorium on conflict in today’s political climate and how to improve civility in political discourse.

The speaker for the lecture was the president of the Gettysburg Foundation, Dr. Matthew Moen. He opened the lecture by talking about the horrors of the battle of Gettysburg, before speaking of the reconciliation and unity that followed in the aftermath. Nurses had cared for the wounded of both sides, regardless of which side they had fought for.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was more than just a moving tribute to the soldiers that died — it also spoke of redemption, forgiveness, and resilience. Dr. Moen compared the words of Lincoln with the rhetoric of today’s politics.

“Consider what’s conspicuously absent from his speech: triumphalism,” Dr. Moen said in his lecture. “[Lincoln] doesn’t gloat or malign the other side, doesn’t mention victory, or either side.”

Dr. Moen noted that the next generation of citizens must earn our democracy, as generations before have done. He argued that we must look for solutions to the problems we face today. While democracy is durable, it is not guaranteed, evidenced by how in recent years the United States has gone from a “full democracy” to a  “flawed democracy,” according to The Economist’s rankings of democracies.

“Hearing him list off all of the things that have happened in America within the last year, and hearing it all within a span of a minute or two, is rather alarming,” senior Sean McCubbin said. “But I think he did a good job of presenting a more optimistic tone and a list of realistic things that we could do.”

Dr. Moen gave many suggestions on how to improve civility in our democracy. To start with, he noted things people could do on an individual level, which included finishing their education, to embrace the world’s complexity, and to have a greater sense of personal humility in their political views.

“I think colleges should be models of civil discourse,” Director of the Center of Global Understanding and Peacemaking, Dr. Kenley, said. “If we cannot have disagreements in a respectful manner on a college campus, I’m not sure it’ll happen anywhere.”

Dr. Moen’s other suggestions were directed towards Congress. They included the removal of the one-minute speeches that often begin the legislative day, having citizen commissions draw districts to remove gerrymandering, and to make a switch to a system to publicly finance elections. He also made a call for tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to do a better job policing violent content, and to consider the possibility of regulating them as media companies.

“He not only talked on the level of civilians, but on the level of politicians and corporations and even included the tech aspect, which I think is really neat,” junior Amanda Ralff said.

Dr. Moen said he doesn’t expect every solution to work, but believes experimentation is key. With so much at stake, it is important to try, and he has faith in the new generation to do just that.