All posts by Anthony Soriano

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The Criminal Cost of Sexting

Whether you think sexting is a crime or not, in Chaparral schools we can be prosecuted with the sexting laws in one of two states: New Mexico or Texas.

The laws and consequences in New Mexico are as follows: intentionally possessing any obscene visual that depicts or simulates a minor performing a sexual act is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000 (4th degree felony) , intentionally distributing any obscene visual that depicts or simulates a minor performing a sexual act is punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 (3rd degree felony), intentionally causing or permitting a minor to engage in or simulate a prohibited sexual act is punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 (3rd degree felony) unless the minor is under 13 then it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $12,500 (2nd degree felony), intentionally manufacturing any obscene visual that depicts or simulates a minor performing a sexual act is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $12,500 (2nd degree felony), intentionally manufacturing any obscene visual that depicts or simulates a prohibited sexual act with a child not shown as a participant is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000 (4th degree felony), and intentionally distributing any obscene visual that depicts or simulates a prohibited sexual act with a child not shown as a participant is punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 (3rd degree felony). All of the laws and consequences listed above fall under New Mexico Code section 30-6A-1: The Sexual Exploitation of Children Act. All of the defined felonies above were found on criminaldefenselawyer.com.

In Texas, it is against the law for a minor to send an explicit picture of themselves or another minor to another minor. However, in the court of law, the sender may avoid punishment if the recipient is their boyfriend/girlfriend and they are (at most) two years apart in age (Texas Penal Code §43.261). If the image was sent to incur or harm the receiver the sender may receive additional penalties. Minors with a first time sexting conviction could receive conviction on a Class C misdemeanor charge, a fine of up to $500 and mandatory participation (with one of their parents) in an educational program about the dangers of sexting (Senate Bill 407). Texas Penal Code Title 3 Chapter 12 includes punishments for misdemeanor charges and felonies.

In Texas adults who sext with minors may be prosecuted for distributing sexual images to a minor, possessing or distributing child porn, or promoting sexual performance by a minor. All of these crimes may be charged as felonies.  An adult in possession of child pornography may receive conviction on a third degree felony charge, incarceration in prison for two to ten years, a fine of up to $10,000 and registration as a sex offender. An adult with the intent of distributing child pornography may receive a conviction on a second-degree felony charge, incarceration in prison for two to twenty years, a fine of up to $10,000 and registration as a sex offender. All fall under Texas Penal Code Title 5 Chapter 21.

Federal laws sometimes clash with state laws. Examples include: if someone from Texas goes to New Mexico with child pornography, or if an 18 year old from Texas sexts with a minor from New Mexico. Federal laws that include (but are not limited to) these examples are as follows: possessing sexually explicit photos with the intent to sell or in the act of selling on Federal property (18 U.S.C. § 1460) is punishable by a fine and/or two years in prison, mailing obscene or crime-inciting matter (18 U.S.C. § 1461) is punishable by a fine and/or up to 10 years in prison, importing or transporting obscene matters (18 U.S.C. § 1462) is punishable by a fine and/or up to 10 years in prison, mailing indecent matter on wrappers or envelopes (18 U.S.C. § 1463) is punishable by a fine and/or up to five years in prison, transporting of obscene matters for sale or distribution (18 U.S.C. § 1465) is punishable by a fine and/or up to 5 years in prison, engaging in the business of selling or transferring obscene matter (18 U.S.C. § 1466) and possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children (18 U.S.C. § 1466A) are punishable by a fine and/or up to 5 years in prison, distributing obscene material by cable or subscription television (18 U.S.C. § 1468) is punishable by a fine and/or up to two years in prison and the transfer of obscene material to minors (18 U.S.C. § 1470) is punishable by a fine and/or up to 10 years in prison.

Warning: In most states receiving a felony (at any age) makes it very difficult to get a job in any field that requires a professional license for the rest of your life.

Underage sexting is a crime commonly committed by youth in high schools, middle schools and even some elementary schools nationwide. Chaparral High School’s newspaper, The Howler, looks to shed light on the issue by creating three different stories, one from the perspective of male students who were perpetrators or victims of sexting, one from the perspective of female students who were perpetrators or victims of sexting, and one based on New Mexico and Texas laws governing sexting by minors and sexting between a minor and an adult. The objective of the three stories is to determine the frequency of perpetrators and victims in Chaparral, to warn of the different crimes that are committed through sexting and to express the severity of each crime through possible court sentencing. Although the articles are entirely based on Chaparral schools and surrounding areas, they may be used as a starting point to warn students of the severity of sexting and the court sentences that could follow.
The creation of the three stories is based on student input and laws directly from legal sources. Each story is factually accurate meaning that when opinions are used they are intended as opinions and when facts are used they are based on reliable sources. The stories are intended to warn and not to convince but may convince when laws and consequences are highlighted.
The Howler decided to maintain student anonymity to minimize the harm that may be caused. Students were told to describe their situations regarding sexting and The Howler committed to keeping students anonymous so said students would not face legal jeopardy. Information gathered was used purely to inform our readers.

Community Service in Chaparral

As teens we have a lot of extra time and we often find we don’t have use for it. Community service is a fantastic way to use extra time and give back to your community. Chaparral may seem like the worst place to look for community service opportunities but there is plenty, and a group at Chaparral High School provides those opportunities.

FCCLA bases itself on giving students community service opportunities while also allowing students to compete at the regional, state, and national levels for competitions in the culinary arts field. Students have the choice of only doing community service and not competing, but competitions are a wonderful way to gain experience in presenting and cooking like a pro.

Community service is a great way to use extra time and FCCLA is a great club to join if you want to help your community and rack up community service hours.

Gadsden Independent School District Bond Election May Fund Chaparral Schools

Chaparral High School may be tapping into a source of income that will fix maintenance issues if voters approve Gadsden Independent School District’s (GISD) request to do so.

A GISD bond election is going to be held February 6 2018 in five different voting districts from Dessert View Elementary to Mesquite Elementary. The bond is going to fund buildings, grounds, and equipment at several Chaparral schools including Chaparral High School, Sunrise Elementary School, Desert Trail Elementary School, and Chaparral Middle School.

A bond election is basically a community’s response to a government proposal to use money on public projects. Approved bond elections provide money to fund school renovations, additions and improvements. Operating expenses such as salaries cannot be funded by bond sales.

Registered voters that are active members of the school district may vote in the bond election. Voters decide whether to accept or deny the government proposal to fund the bond sales. Road paving, and new heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) pipes are what the bonds will pay for for Chaparral High School, if voters approve the bond.

Bus drivers transit an unpaved road behind Q and R buildings in the northern section of Chaparral High School every school day; they sometimes experience the unfortunate event of students tramping through and smearing it on floors. Paving the road will solve that issue and make the road smoother and easier for bus drivers to pass through, resulting in a better passenger experience for Lobos.

Heating, venting, and air-conditioning pipes will be replaced resulting in better air quality, decreased utility costs and consistent heating and cooling inside Chaparral High School.

Travis L. Dempsey, Gadsden Independent School Districts superintendent, states that the bond sales will not raise property taxes.The money that will fund schools was approved in a Two Mil Capital Improvements Tax Levy in February 2014 and GISD is seeking re-approval in the upcoming bond election. With the re-approval of the levy, schools will have a source of funding for six years of maintenance projects.

Although the bond election is a simple act, what the bond does is a complex process which should be understood by voters so they make the best decision for Chaparral and its children.

Brain Shaking Future Making Competition

Want competition without the disgusting sweat and bad odors? Join Business Professionals of America (BPA).

Chaparral High School has a BPA group that stays after school on Tuesdays to work on competitions which earn them experience in the business field of their choice. Artistic competitions for BPA involve creating graphics, videos, and photographs for businesses. Mathematical competitions for BPA involve accounting, economic research and banking and financing. Competitions will never result in sore muscles which any sport is guaranteed to provide.

Business Professionals of America also provides volunteering hours for students who want to volunteer during competitions or for Torch Awards. Torch Awards is not a competition but is instead an alternative way to go to regional, state and national competitions. To compete in Torch Awards students must work to get points for seven different categories: Leadership, Service, Cooperation, Knowledge, Friendship, Love Hope Faith,  and Patriotism. Each category has a list of jobs and students can choose which jobs they want to do based on how many points they have and how many points each job offers. Sports may never anything like torch awards unless you consider bench warming a “volunteer experience”.

Business Professionals of America has helped students gain experience in professional fields rather than on football fields where a job is almost impossible to get and for that we wish them the best in future competitions.

Weird schedule for January 24th and 25th

  1. Chaparral high school students are used to three different schedules that the school implements on different days, these three schedules will now turn into four . A new schedule is being implemented for January 24th and 25th and here’s why.

“Planning and preparation time” is what Victoria Lopez – one of Chaparral High Schools assistant principals – calls it. A time for teachers to “work as a collaborative group” and for “core departments” such as science, English and math to “work together as team”.

Lopez isn’t sure how the schedule might work since it’s never been used before but she believes it’s a “good starting point” and the planning time it provides would be beneficial down the road.

 

The Beginning of Change in Chaparral

Chaparral, New Mexico; the unrecognized town that we all have grown to accept as our living and learning environment. Most the town’s residents have no understanding of the statistics that haunt us in terms of drug use and mental health. I find it is my job to shed light on these statistics and provide you – the citizens of Chaparral – with an opportunity to change these lingering statistics from an ugly scar on our hometown to numbers we can be proud of.

The United States delivers a census via mail delivery and gathers resident statistics to determine the state of towns all over the country. The census is then sent back to the government to be published for residents to interpret. The 2010 census showed drug use and mental health statistics for Chaparral, New Mexico that some may find worrisome. Chaparral had a higher percentage of residents (25.4%) that had ever used “hard” drugs – such as cocaine and meth – than the state average for towns in New Mexico (23.3%). This statistic is not the most worrisome of the statistics, but what can be concluded is the fact that Chaparral has staggering statistics regarding illegal drug use.

Although drug statistics for Chaparral, New Mexico are worrisome, they appear mild when compared to another monster, mental health statistics. Chaparral has more people with depression, anxiety, concentration problems, communication problems, appetite issues and low-energy problems than is average for New Mexico.

Not only are these drug and mental health statistics troubling, but they let us know that our town is struggling emotionally. Chaparral is a small town, but that does not mean that we are weak. We as citizens have the power to band together to change these statistics.

Starting slow is still a start, and because of this we must work together to make changes which may work slowly but will make an enormous difference. “What can I do?” you might ask. Well, it starts with a need to make the change, and as proven by previously mentioned statistics, Chaparral needs the change. The next step is letting others know the change needs to happen, and that’s what we as a community must do.

 

Edited January 17, 2018

Trapped in a cafeteria

School lunch is an underrated portion of a high school student’s day. We work for countless hours constantly wondering what we will fill our stomachs with, and since the beginning of this school year our stomachs have avoided a queasy feeling that once made our mouths dispose of the “hearty” school lunches that were served to us in years before. Gadsden Independent School District decided to serve students better, higher quality food for the 2017-2018 school year, and The Howler has taken notice of this change. We believe this year’s lunch was an improvement over last year’s, and we could not imagine a better upgrade: until now.

News the Santa Fe New Mexican released brought up a restriction that seniors acknowledged existed at one point but over time have forgotten. We are not allowed to eat food outside of the school during lunchtime. As seniors entering adulthood we must get used to eating food that isn’t free, and we are faced with a restriction that should not be there, the closed-campus lunch policy.

Santa Fe High School has gotten rid of the closed-campus lunch policy and implemented an open-campus lunch policy with conditions. Said conditions include: being a senior over the age of 18, maintaining a 2.0 grade-point average, having less than 10 absences per year and having students ask their parents to sign a permission slip allowing said students to take advantage of the freedom.

Though the conditions might stray from allowing all students to take advantage of the open-campus lunch policy, if the policy proves to be effective, the Santa Fe district could be looking towards lifting the closed-campus lunch policy and later adjusting the conditions. The effect this might have on Chaparral High School is distant but is definitely something to watch out for in the future.

Movies at Dolores Wright Park?!

The Chaparral High School FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) group will be hosting movies at Dolores Wright Park on East Lisa Drive, every Saturday of October at 7:30 for anyone who can attend, Chaparral citizen or otherwise. FCCLA will be showing two different movies for the two remaining weeks of October. Here’s a list of the two movies.

  • Saturday, October 21st – Casper
  • Saturday, October 28th – The Nightmare Before Christmas

Movies are free, but snacks are available for purchase. Here’s a list of snacks and their prices:

  • Chicharrones – $.50
  • Hot Chocolate – $1
  • Brownie – $.75
  • 2 Cookies – $1
  • Chips – $.50
  • Honey Bun – $1
  • Capri Sun – $.50
  • Nachos – $1

 

In addition to chips:

  • Cheese – $.25
  • Valentina – $.25

What?! A NEW BLUE CRAYON?!

Coloring; the often underappreciated activity that formed most (if not all) of our childhood creative sparks; the sparks that formed wild castles and dragons; sparks that ignited fun fantasies of our childhood; the sparks that formed who we are today; sparks forged by Crayola, its scientists and its amazing crayons.

Crayola’s scientists created a new hue of blue and asked fans to decide the color’s name. Crayola is looking to replace the recently retired Dandelion crayon with this new color. Crayola looked through nearly 90,000 name submissions and narrowed it down to five names: Dreams Come Blue, Bluetiful, Moon Bliss, Reach for the Stars, and Star Spangled Blue. After fans voted among these five names, Bluetiful ended up the grand champion and will soon replace Dandelion

 

The Dream Killing Monster . . . $$$

While college is acknowledged by some people as a heavenly tunnel towards their preferred career, other people prefer a darker perspective and here’s why:

A year-long study conducted by National College Health Assessment on 17,000 students concluded that 25 percent of college students developed depression. One of the main reasons for college student depression is debt.

Debt, the antagonist on a college student’s journey to success. A conquerable monster that we must prepare to battle. An ugly beast most have challenged but about 44 million people have not defeated. A leviathan that has grown to 1.4 trillion dollars. How do I prepare for my gruesome war against debt? You might ask. In our high school, the elders who know the answer to avoiding this monster are our counselors: Ms. Armendariz, Ms. Park, Mr. Encina and Ms. Tirado.

Our counselors know this monster well and are prepared to recommend blacksmiths of prestigious ranking to help us in our journey. To learn of these blacksmiths (better known as scholarship opportunities, grants and financial aid) all we must do is ask to set up meetings with our designated counselor. Counselors are here to help us, this doesn’t mean they will fight the monster for us, it only means they will guide us towards scholarship opportunities, grants and financial aid applications which could give us just the right sword to defeat said monster.

“It’s better for the government to pay off college” says Armendariz “it’s expensive, money shouldn’t be the issue.”

“Students don’t take advantage of free money, if you want something, work for it” says Armendariz. She provides financial and test tips for students looking to enter college:

  • Keep in mind that applications for financial aid will begin on October first and that FAFSA night (a night dedicated to FAFSA application) is on a date that is to be determined but should be around October first (Opportunity for a diamond sword)
  • Students are given two waivers for college tests, one for the ACT and one for the SAT. Armendariz recommends students take advantage of waivers
  • There are two websites for preparing for the ACT and SAT https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/test-preparation/act-online-prep.html (ACT) and https://www.khanacademy.org/ (SAT)
  • Keep an eye on what GPA, ACT and SAT score your preferred college recommends
  • Get informed and do not be afraid to ask questions. Teachers and staff are here to help you. Armendariz has seen an “improvement in seniors” from last year to this year. She believes “students are more interested in college”
  • Get involved and better your relationships with people in your school community as well as the Chaparral community. Our counselors believe “it all starts with asking about organizations and getting more knowledgeable on how you can help your community.”

Even knowing these tips students will still find there is lots more you should know about when considering college. Remember to schedule appointments with your counselor (elder); they can help you reach your goals and defeat debt and other monsters you might find hidden on your journey to success.