Category Archives: Commentary

A new administration calls for higher expectations

President Biden and Vice-president Harris must work to heal the deep division that exists in the United States. (Photo credit WhiteHouse.gov)

By Jessie Beck, Editorial Assistant

The inauguration of the 46th President, Joseph R. Biden, on Jan. 20, represented much more to the people of the United States than the election of a new president. The arrival of this administration has ushered our country into a new era. With goals of unity, recovery, progress, and justice at the forefront of the minds of citizens and government leaders, there is hope for the future.  Continue reading

Editorial: Lack of vital socialization skills creates harmful habits

Editorial cartoon by Ana Zrnic

By the Southwords Editorial Board

As young adults, our accountability in this social and political climate has dramatically decreased due to the shift in modes of communication. Less socialization leads to more social anxiety, stress, and isolation, thus making students less motivated to achieve their goals. Our inability to connect with others sentences us to misunderstandings, lapses of accountability, and an inability to compromise. 

Unless we take proactive steps to reverse the bad habits created in the last 11 months, this lack of connection will have a lasting and damaging impact on the future. It is important that the school helps us break these bad habits by encouraging and providing opportunities for true social engagement; however, we must also accept that, ultimately, each student is responsible for their own learning.  Continue reading

Toxic roommate selection process fuels judgment among high school seniors

By Ella Melcher, Editor-in-chief

“Random roommate” was a phrase that was commonly heard among incoming college freshmen in my parents’ generation. The norm was for incoming college freshmen to randomly be assigned to bunk with a complete stranger for an entire year, with matches determined only by a brief questionnaire essentially asking whether you’re a morning person or night owl. As I enter the realm of college decision-making, the Herculean task of finding a roommate to avoid the crazy spin-of-the-wheel fate of “going random” is my reality.

In today’s college culture, few students go completely random. The most popular option today is joining the Facebook group corresponding to your school. While I had been warned about this process from my older friends, I was not prepared for the time, energy, and willpower I would have to put into choosing the person who would be sleeping within a 6 foot radius of me next year. 

Facebook shopping for a roommate resembles using a dating app: aimless scrolling, judging others by their looks, “talking” to people, and hoping to be “chosen.” I feel like I’m on the Bachelorette, constantly vying for time with girls who seem nice and trying to determine if they are deserving of my final rose. Everyone is trying to put forth an image that is desirable to the general public, scared to show their true selves; and honestly, I don’t really blame them. Today, everyone is concerned with fitting the mold of society’s standards that many would sacrifice showing their true selves to be liked. Fear is a very powerful motivator.

When a college-bound senior creates a post, it is accompanied by a short bio and several carefully chosen pictures. Within the group, the posts of pretty, skinny girls garner hundreds of likes and comments while girls who may not fit the traditional beauty standard earn less attention. 

The process itself encourages the opposite of what we have been taught and demands quick judgements based on pictures of a persona that may not even resemble the real-life prospective roommate. University staff acknowledge that these Facebook groups are the primary platform on which students find roommates, but do they know how they work? Or maybe they just don’t care. Colleges need to be aware that these groups are full of privilege and judgement, and they fuel insecurities. It seems to me that schools could create their own platform for finding a roommate–something more welcoming and positive. 

Despite its issues, so many of us still find ourselves participating in this Facebook shopping-for-friends culture out of fear of the dreaded random roommate we have heard horror stories about: the one who steals your clothes, never goes to class and invites her boyfriend to live with you. I find myself aimlessly scrolling, wondering what people think about me, trying not to be judgmental on a platform drowning in judgement. 

So, what are college-bound students supposed to do? If random is not your thing, I suggest this: be yourself. Post pictures of the “real” you… hanging with friends, walking your dog, playing sports. Look for other authentic people. Let’s face it, it is easy to spot the less-than-genuine-posts. If we all changed the way we portray ourselves, this platform could become a more welcoming and positive place that doesn’t cause more stress than the college process already does.

With the country at a crossroads, unity is the only option

By Kristen Meyer, Editor-in-chief

Like most students, I was appalled at the events that occurred at the Capitol Building. In a few short days, I am turning 18 years old, and as I am preparing to take my place as a voting citizen, I realize that this is not the democracy I was promised during my 8th grade Constitution unit. It is blinded by our differences and ignorant to our similarities.

Partisanship is driven by the refusal to leave the comfort of one’s political bubble. It not only impedes government efficiency, but it also sentences each American to political naivete and inherent hatred for the other side. Unless we pop our bubbles and join reality, there will be little to no progress because we cannot expect change without understanding.  Continue reading

Property of the Editors: Following rules is not as easy as it seems

By Amalia Laskaris, Editor-in-chief

With the rise in cases, the pandemic has affected everyone differently. Personally, my mentality shifted to become more cautious than ever before, as my family’s health is my top priority. However, I did not want to put a halt on my life completely once the school year started. I still held the belief that I could have somewhat of a normal life while following the proper mandates.

During the first week of October, I took it upon myself to research some fall festivities my boyfriend and I could attend that strictly followed COVID guidelines. With everything booked, we came across Didier Farms—a pumpkin patch that claimed to be COVID friendly. As much as we kept our distance, others did not; kids were using the same sled to slide down the slide, there was no sanitation after each merry-go-round ride, and the lines for kettle corn were not socially-distanced at all. Continue reading

Commentary: Time to ‘cancel’ the negativity of Tik Tok

(Illustration by Isabel Gibson)

By Lane Pruban, Commentary Writer

We all live in the age of technology. Especially during this pandemic, our phones suck us into an endless loop of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. This pandemic has also boosted the popularity of social media app Tik Tok, allowing people to create short, entertaining videos and spread new, exciting trends; however, Tik Tok has also contributed to major societal problems for teenagers. 

In 2020, we are all about looks. From what we wear to what we eat, we obsess over this idea of a “perfect body.” Sadly, when scrolling through Tik Tok, we see men and women with toned abs and clear-skinned faces. Seeing those hourglass figures, how can we feel good about ourselves? These beautiful bodies make me view myself as less of a person and more of a shell; however, light appears at the end of the tunnel. Certain creators have started combating negative body imaging with positivity. By showing off all curves, shapes, and sizes, we can build a better community in Tik Tok.  Continue reading

Commentary: The shortcomings of the Electoral College are too significant to ignore

A map of red Republican, blue Democratic, and gray swing states in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. (Graphic by Qba0202 / CC BY 3.0)

By Christo Maheras, Commentary Writer

Election after election, we celebrate the ceremonious coloring of the states as a pillar of our democracy. Among the red and blue, Democrat and Republican, some grey swing states capture media and voter attention. State colors have long encouraged political posturing. Candidates solely focusing on the states that will bring them to the all-coveted 270 electoral college votes is one of many reasons why the Electoral College is unethical, undemocratic, and should be replaced as the means by which our nation elects its presidents.

Before explaining the shortcomings of the electoral college, one must understand its origins. The electoral college emerged as a compromise during the 1787 Constitutional Convention among other ideas such as the popular vote and the vote of Congress. It was decided that states would be designated “electors” who would award their electoral votes, equal to the number of its congressional members, based on how their states voted for president.  Continue reading

Commentary: In-person learning may not be worth the effort–or risk

(Illustration by Eden Wening)

By Dora Horaitis, Commentary Writer

Many Maine South students have asked themselves if they should attend school in-person during hybrid learning. The answer to this question depends on the person, but the tedious precautions teachers and administrators have set up coupled with general uncertainty have led many students to choose to participate in school virtually. 

Students attending in-person must follow a new routine: using hand sanitizer when entering or leaving a classroom, wiping down the desks they sit, maintaining a six-foot distance from others, and wearing a mask at all times. Students also must complete a self-certification and have their temperatures checked whenever they enter the building.

These absolutely necessary procedures bring students back in-person and keep the best interests of the students and staff in mind; however, students at home do not have to follow these procedures.  Continue reading

Editorial: We must do more to stop hate

(Illustration by Millie Diaz)

By the Southwords Editorial Board

Since the beginning of the school year, several hateful incidents, including bathroom graffiti, the hacking of the district website, and an assault, have occurred within the Maine South community. Whether the behavior is a result of the isolating pandemic or societal conflicts, any form of hate negatively reflects on the school community at large. Although the school has acted quickly in response to these incidents, to further develop a more inclusive community, students would benefit from more class discussions, curriculum reform, and student involvement and voice. 

By devoting class time to discuss pressing and possibly uncomfortable issues occurring within the school and community, teachers can transform the school’s culture. Classrooms are safe spaces for students, and these welcoming forums can not only make a student more aware of the issues, but can also inspire them to share their beliefs and experiences with others.  Continue reading

Property of the editors: Amid a pandemic, traditions matter even more

By Kristen Meyer, Editor-in-chief

My family relies on my vegan aunt to cook Thanksgiving every year. Now, you might ask why we, an Italian family, trust the most important meal of the year to someone who can’t even try the food. My short answer would be that we care more about the Christmas meal, which is carefully prepared by three-generations of my family. However, my long answer is that we value tradition that has developed over decades of a growing family. 

I never thought I would miss my aunt’s undeniably dry turkey and stuffing–until this year. Fearful of transmitting the disease to my grandmother, my family has decided to cancel our Thanksgiving traditions, like so many other families. We are staying home, making chicken instead of turkey, and taking time to appreciate that we are surviving a pandemic together.  Continue reading