The Chieftain

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–The Staff


Monthly Teacher Appreciation for MHS Teachers

Vice President of student government, Noah Carver, pitched the idea to honor MHS teachers monthly. The motive was to find more ways to show faculty how much students appreciate their roles, and the strong relationships they’ve worked to build with students. Carver posted QR codes around the school that students scanned, and they entered which teacher they felt like deserved some appreciation and the reason why. The responses were sorted by student government to ensure that the nomination had a thoughtful back story and showed that a teacher went above and beyond to help a student understand their work, or simply get through the day. For the month of February, Ms.Halsey, a sophomore and senior English teacher won. Her award was presented to her by sophomore Lily May, who nominated her because, “She is a really understanding teacher who truly believes in every student. When I have an issue with anything, I’ll discuss it with her and she makes everything better. I’ve come to realize that she wants my class to grow more independent.” The culinary club even prepared a beautifully presented mac & cheese dish with garnish, and a desert.

Carver spoke about the importance of showing teachers how much students appreciate them, “It’s important to appreciate teachers because of the amount of labor that goes into being an educator. Frequently at Target, I have witnessed teachers buying supplies out of their own pocket out of love for their students.” Congratulations to Ms.Halsey!

Sophomore Lily May giving Ms.Halsey her award. Photo by: Ashley Seldon

Winter Spirit Week 2020

Student government was able to host another five-day spirit week for February. Right after deciding to cancel the Escape Room Night, student government worked hard to make the winter spirit week and pep rally successful to make it up to the student body. For weeks, student government brainstormed a large list of themes and then spent two more meetings voting on options. Monday began with groutfit-day or “gray outfit.” Since pajama day is against school policy, Assistant Principal, Robert Alves, pitched the trendy idea.

Photos by: Senior, Kaycee Gagnier, and Grace Ramsey

Twin Tuesday was another fun day for friend groups to dress up. Students kept it more lowkey than the fall spirit week, but still wore matching t-shirts or head to toe outfits for the day. Wednesday was jersey day and people represented their favorite professional athletes or donned personal jerseys from MHS athletics. However, there was some backlash from students regarding this day because some felt as though this theme favored the athletes and some students didn’t own jerseys. Student government listened to these concerns and will probably try to pick more neutral themes for future spirit weeks. The class color and orange and black days are always popular at MHS, and that was no different this spirit week.

Participation for the winter spirit week was much lower than the fall spirit week. This could have been due to seasonal depression, a normal winter slump, or because there was no Winter Ball to generate hype for the week. Hopefully, the spring spirit week themes and warm weather excite the student body to dress up—especially the senior class because it will be their last spirit week. During the fall spirit week, participation during the week determined who would be playing in the powderpuff game, so perhaps a similar method could be implemented this spring. For anyone who has new theme ideas to pitch, student government meets on Thursdays in room 211 after school

Montville High School’s New Design Focuses on Student Wellbeing

At the end of last year, Ms. Sangermano requested a list of ideas from student government to redesign the front foyer into a space that accurately depicts student life at MHS. Walking around on the first day of school, many pointed out the new quotes hanging on the walls spreading positive juju energy, one reads, “Trust yourself you know more than you think.” The MHS community is also embracing a new motto “You Matter” to reassure all students that not only is their academic success deemed important by staff, but also their mental wellbeing.

Senior court has been revamped from once a barren area filled with hard park benches to a lounge with new bar stool seating. This not only helps seat more students comfortably in student court but also makes it feel much more like a privilege for seniors.

The new bar stool seating in senior court. Photo by: Ashley Seldon

There is also a new logo decorating banners and furniture in the building. There was once much debate over the appropriateness of having the brown Native American as the face of MHS, now the logo has been switched to a more politically correct “M” with a decorative feather.

Senior, Briana Cusello says, “The quotes really brighten up the hallway with the black ink, and the new seating is really nice.” The old trophy cases were also transferred from the front foyer to the athletic hallway creating more room to view the beautiful mural added to the school last spring.

The new mural painted in the front foyer last spring. The original design came from senior, Kaycee Gagnier. Photo by: Ashley Seldon

There is a bulletin board off to the side, with images of students from last year participating in school events that will be added to as the year goes on. The project still has work underway, there is brainstorming going on to find ways to showcase more student work in the front foyer and many students want to add another mural. The designer of the “Start Your Future Here” mural, Senior, Kaycee Gagnier has even pitched painting bathroom stall doors. More recently, a television monitor has been mounted in the front foyer to display student success and events.

The new television monitor showing birthday shoutouts. Photo by: Ashley Seldon

People of Color Shouldn’t Demand Double Standards (final oped for School of New York Times)

Yet we ask the police not to shoot, judges not to criminalize, and the government for reparations.


The original ticket prices taken from Eventbrite.com according to Digital Music News


By: Ashley Seldon

July, 18, 2019

As a biracial young adult, I understand too well what it feels like when the other side closes the door on you. I’ve had white hair salons charge me varying amounts for a flat iron service or even a simple cut just because of my thick hair texture. These guidelines are never outlined on a price board, but I shut my mouth because where I’m from, few people specialize in kinky curls. That’s only hair though. I can only imagine identifying with the lighter end of the color spectrum, and being charged double to attend a public event.

I can’t understand why when a music festival in Detroit (scheduled for Aug. 3) posted its higher ticket prices for white concert-goers it was defended by the black community. I hadn’t realized racial discrimination based on non-controllable features was being embraced by people of color (POC).

In early July, news broke out that the annual AfroFuture Fest would be charging non-POC’s double too attend the small music festival. Early bird tickets were $10 for POC and $20 for white people, while regular ticket prices were $20 and $40for “non-POCs.” Immediately the decision became contentious as many black pride activists were unbothered by the matter, while others perceived it as a double standard being set by African Americans. After alleged threats from white supremacists, the company decided to rescind the original ticket prices and instead charged whites the same amount (but advised a donation to a youth organization of color).

The organizers of the music festival explained their side to Eventbrite, “…the group says, white people, can afford tickets to any event in any city, while black and brown people cannot.” AfroFuture Youth essentially asked whites to acknowledge their privilege and create an equal playing field. On the surface, the practice was not equitable, but there were hidden, good intentions.

In attempting to create an equitable outcome through making the fest more affordable for black and brown people, the organizers have opened a Pandora’s Box– establishing a double standard. Just because we’re in the minority doesn’t mean that we should get a free pass to racially discriminate with a different pay scale.

It is wrong for us to ask one thing of the white community and then do the other. It could inspire whites to host a similar event, celebrating “white culture” (whatever that may include) and when we shout “bigotry” they’ll point their fingers at this very example. AfroFuture Fest wanted to uplift minorities (rightfully so), but it was never truly about equality for both races.

Many biracial people, like myself, feel stuck in the middle and forced to choose a side. The defining line of what constitutes as white or black in this country has blurred. Some people don’t count Meghan Markle as the first black princess or Barack Obama as the first black President. They consider them biracial. If a child had a parent of color but resembled a Caucasian person, what ticket price would apply?

Race is already complex as it is, but this policy has done more to divide the black community than provide benefits. We can’t even discuss the negative implications of charging white people higher ticket prices without being cyberbullied on Black Twitter. When rapper Tiny Jag told her fans that she would be removing herself from the event because of her values being biracial, she was immediately “cancelled” by many of her black peers who felt she was ignoring the big picture.

@ljcomaOluo via Twitter


It is important for marginalized groups to have access to events that they can identify with, especially with the growing concern of gentrification in inner cities. It is a trend that minorities are being disproportionately displaced from enjoying their own culture in their own communities.

Other ways exist to go about what AfroFuture Fest organizers were attempting to accomplish. While it is true that nationwide whites and Asians tend to make a higher income than minorities in the United States, little data prove the same for Detroit where presumably the majority of the attendees are from. However, there is a lot of data to support that the entire city as a whole, life in poverty. Detroit Free Pass reported a study released by Business Insider showing the median household income is only$26,249.


A crowd of color cheering at Essence Fest via Solomon Group

To close the financial gap, a handful of free tickets could’ve been donated to minority, low-income individuals, or honestly, all of the controversy could have been avoided if white people were excluded from the event all together. Make the festival all about minorities joining together like Essence fest, under a shared appreciation for AfroPunk music. It cancels out the threat of establishing a double standard in society.


Ashley Seldon to Attend The New York Times Summer Academy

    Ashley Seldon, Editor of The Chieftain, has been accepted to The New York Times Summer Academy. The Academy is a two-week summer internship for high school students who aspire to become journalists. To be accepted, Ashley had to answer essay questions, send a school transcript, a letter of recommendation, and submit a writing sample. The internship allows high school students to stay at NYU and select a course from a variety of options for different terms. Ashley will be attending the Opinion Writing Course.  We at The Chieftain are extremely proud to be represented by one of Montville’s finest students.

Ashley Seldon, Editor of The Chieftain (second from left) with ECE 1010 peers.

Opinion How White Privilege Keeps the United States Violent and Unsustainable



Westward Expansion has perpetuated white privilege into the 21st Century–redefining what it means to be racist



By: Ashley Seldon

December 10, 2018

I think everyone can agree that white privilege in the United States began the moment Christopher Columbus stole the America’s for himself, paving the way for 100 English settlers to the “New World” though it had already been home to multiple Native American tribes. Over two hundred years later, The American West and the new freedoms (and millions of hectares of land) that would come with it only added fuel to the tiny flame that would soon become white privilege in America. As the Gold Rush was making headlines nationwide as well as California debating on becoming a state, a sense of opportunity and hope for a better life spread. What many immigrants and blacks probably wished they had known prior, is that the benefits of the American West only reached a select group–white Americans. Derek Wainwright, an AP U.S. history teacher at Montville High School commented, “Almost immediately as California becomes a state and they start setting down laws, basically, all the laws were targeted for whites, they weren’t just discriminatory towards blacks but also towards Asians…and the huge influx of Hispanics. The laws were set up where whites got all the benefits and everyone else was a second-class citizen from day one.” Legislation like the Homestead Acts allowed the government to parcel out land only to whites. An often forgotten period is the “wild wild west” which Hollywood has glorified in many films and television productions. What media tends to leave out is that this is one of the few times in history blacks were treated (not perfectly) but nearly equal to whites as cowboys. Somewhere between ¼ or a ⅓ of cowboys in the west were African American. Why is this so? Wainwright says, “With the lack of government out there and the lack of legal codes [to restrict African Americans] they got some type of equality out there.” However, this was only because the United States government wasn’t established enough to keep black cowboys beneath whites. This culture of superiority plays directly into Manifest Destiny and the taking of land from Indigenous peoples. History as we know it was a series of broken government treaties and expanded land, “The story of one tribe is the story of all, varied only by difference of time and place,” as Helen Hunt Jackson wrote in her book A Century of Dishonor. Now it can be understood all of the violence between Indigenous people started by white Americans forcing for more land in order to grow more food for an increasing population.  All with the mission to self-preserve the human species, however not for people of color, but white Americans. In Daniel Quinn’s novel, Ishmael,  chapter nine offers a controversial insight on human population control. One of the main reasons humans continue to increase is the mass production of food, “‘Given an expanding food supply, any population will expand. This is true of any species, including the human,” (Quinn 136).  White Americans felt they had the right to expand west because they wanted more money in their pockets and to continue the human population. Americans claim the frontier offered the promise of new beginnings because colonists were “suffocating” on the coast and needed room to prosper economically as their own boss. No other source explains this better than Frederick Jackson Turner’s Thesis, the Significance Of The Frontier In American History. Here the “American values” we know today were established, those concepts of strength, dominance, individualism, and courage contributed to the United State’s national identity. But to what expense? The extermination of Native American tribes that were perceived as being in the way of white American progression. According to Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor,  Native Americans were perceived as a “barrier to civilization.”The fact that governments spoke of struggling to deal with Native Americans, ““…and to make suggestions as to the best methods of managing them,” (doc 129) As if Native Americans were to be moved and handled with the simplicity of an object versus being treated like humans. The freedom and opportunity from the frontier didn’t halt the idea of white superiority brought from Columbus but further perpetuated it down the timeline of American history.  

For instance, with slavery, African humans were oppressed into a state of bondage, rape, punishment, separation from loved ones to work on stolen land to cultivate more cotton for the cotton kingdom. This was meant to boost the economy for the Southern slave owners  (white Americans) which benefited the North with textile mills (white Americans). During industrialism in the late 19th century, is it said that between 1882 and 1900 there were 50 strikes waged against the employment of black labor amongst unions. Instead of poor, middle-class whites and blacks working together against a common enemy (white corporate America) they continued to see color. Carl Sagan, an environmental activist and author of Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future wrote,  “Anything is better than grappling with the unbearable burden of being tiny.” That’s why white America fears the idea of one day being in the minority and out of power. This ignorance leads to neglect towards major crisis like climate change, mass incarceration, socioeconomic inequality, and media. The entire period of imperialism and expanding the empire of the United States beginning in 1870 ties into the idea that the world was made for man, something Daniel Quinn studies extensively in his book Ishmael, “The Takers [contemporary Americans] regard the world as a sort of human life-support system.” (Quinn 59).  58172-art-american-imperialism-1 The United States government (headed by primarily white men) believed they were the higher power and that all smaller countries ought to submit to their superior influence. Through their belief of privilege, the U.S. government bullied other countries like Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Panama into conforming to their agenda and following their rules when ideally they’re their own countries. Would this be the same if our government had equal representation of Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, Native Americans, and whites, I personally don’t think so.  The Civil Rights Movement is obviously one of the best examples of White America constantly needing African Americans to feel inferior so they could feel more important in the world. Look at political propaganda like the “War on Terrorism” and what it has done to instill fear in Muslim culture as well as propelling Americans to believe all Muslims ought to be perceived as a threat to the United States… There are memes


still stereotyping all Muslims as terrorists, almost two decades since the drastic 9/11 attack on the United States. Immigration has become a very heated issue across party lines, and has lead to the longest government shutdown in United States history, under president Trump. Border security along the Mexican-American border and the idea of building a wall to block immigrants seeking asylum was a major promise Trump made to his Republican base. Just last spring, everyone publicly questioned the morals behind separating immigrant parents from their children at the border. The exploitation of ICE keeping children locked in cages in these “child detention centers” also angered many. These are people looking for safety away from violent gangs back home, and then they come to the United States because of stories of opportunity and prosperity only to be met with racial hostility and the consequences of decades of white privilege. Just this past December, A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl passed away from dehydration because of the United States Border Security’s abuse towards immigrant children. Let’s not forget Trump’s executive order to deport children who have lived in America their entire lives, “dreamers”. It’s gone past the point of white men abusing positions of power, it’s crossed the line of humanity. Hispanics are all now being perceived everywhere as illegal immigrants who rape and deal drugs because of how national politics portrays them using tactics like the Caravan to scare people. All so America can remain white and so white Americans can keep their jobs. There are still white supremacists around who are pro-Nazi, misogynistic, proudly sexist and homophobic parading around in 2019 because they fear one day that their kind, the “superior” will be in the minority which is both scary and sad. However, it is a cast that lingers from Manifest Destiny in 21st century the United States. White America has continued to live life through a clouded judgment that they deserve more and should be treated better than any other marginalized group (including white women and white members of the LGBTQ community).  The fact of the matter is, the biggest threat to society today is white men . Of all the mass shootings we have had in our country, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando Nightclub, the Charleston church shooting, the Vegas shooting, Stoneman Douglas high school, and so many more they have all been done by white extremist men. Alone in 2018, there have been 307 mass shootings and the majority of the gunman were white males. In October, Robert Bowers entered a synagogue with an AR-15 yelling “All Jews must die!’ before opening fire. He killed eleven victims and injured many others. Two young African American men were lynched in 2018 at the hands of a white Oklahoma family. For anyone who denies the issue of white privilege, they need a huge wake-up call. Our world is just so much more violent when white men have privilege. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K5fbQ1-zps

And I wonder given all of this if we would still be so violent if white America didn’t act so privileged? How different would America’s history be and how different would our country look? If that precedent of Christopher Columbus stealing America or Manifest Destiny ideals hadn’t been set, then would America be so violent? Would white America feel so scared to lose its superiority? Obviously, the details of how history would’ve played out are unclear, but the point is there is a direct link between the violence in United States’ history and white men feeling privileged. Wainwright says, “I honestly look at slavery as the worst thing and the biggest mistake we’ve ever made in America, where we have an entire class of people, still to some extent today struggling to get over the history of slavery. It’s been 150 years but obviously, blacks still make less money than whites. They deal with incarceration problems at a much higher rate than whites. I don’t see how we could ever get past this slavery problem. I think it’s naive to think just because people moved out west it would end white privilege. 

pasted image 0Companies aren’t developing in these inner cities because rich privileged white men want to use their corporate tax break and cheap labor overseas versus benefitting our own country’s economy. CEOS could reduce both poverty levels and crime rates in cities but it’s all about adding to their own growing pockets. pasted image 0-1

White Americans don’t only contribute to violence in the United States but also a hazardous lifestyle regarding the environment. One of the leading reasons the Earth is accelerating towards catastrophe is humans feeling privileged. Specifically, our white counterparts because let’s think about the people who benefit most from our country remaining unsustainable? Rich, white corporate America.

The people who run fossil fuel companies or farmers who produce mass agriculture tend to be white Americans. According to the diversity in corporation leadership pie chart, 73% of corporate leadership is white men and women, 21% is Asian,  3% is Hispanic, 2% is African American, and the other numbers for Native Americans or Pacific Islanders are too small to muster. Clearly, those marginalized groups hold no place of power in corporate America and therefore are not contributing to the impact these companies have on the environment.  pasted image 0-2

If people decide to live more like a Leaver as Daniel Quinn asks us to, those people lose their power on this small blue dot. Another thing Mother Culture runs, in my opinion, is money, and I don’t think oil company CEOs want to give up something that equates to power and influence in our society. Despite the fact, our Earth as Carl Sagan says is, “…a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark” people crave the idea of ruling its entirety because they believe it’ll mean ruling the Universe as the rest is unknown. The world won’t be able to progress as long as people believe money is such an important factor in their lives as well as allowing White Americans to hold these positions of power. Minorities, people of color, groups that have been oppressed (LGBTQ/women) understand how to live without privilege because they’ve been told their entire lives that they are lesser than. The Native Americans were said to be savages and needed to be wiped out to sustain the growth of white Americans. African Americans were locked into human bondage for centuries to sustain the success of white Americans to the point where Jim Crow had to be enacted,  and now mass incarceration. All Muslims had to become potential terrorist threats so white Americans felt more superior. Hispanics had to be recognized as drug dealers so white Americans could paint themselves as the perfect image of what an America should be. Environmental sustainability regarding the health of the Earth, failing, helps white America retain its status of superiority. How do we change this? Stop allowing privileged people to rise to power who don’t don’t care about the longevity of the Earth, only the short-lived benefits for their own lives. Diversity is the best way to protect every American from hate. Discussing at the UN and listing out goals for the future of the environment clearly isn’t cutting it. We need government action, and to turn our belief of superiority into a new meaning. If the United States wants to be one of the leading countries in the world, then why not try to exceed in becoming a completely sustainable country for the Earth.


Works Cited

AP Images. March for Our Lives. Vogue, Condé Nast, http://www.vogue.com/article/march-for-our-lives-when-where-get-involved.

Gast, John. “American Progress.” 1872. Wikipedia, 13 Jan. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny. Accessed 15 Jan. 2019.

Gee, Michael. “Why Aren’t Black Employees Getting More White-Collar Jobs?” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Publishing, 28 Feb. 2018, hbr.org/2018/02/why-arent-black-employees-getting-more-white-collar-jobs. Accessed 15 Jan. 2019.

Jones, Stacy. “White Men Account for 72% of Corporate Leadership at 16 of the Fortune 500 Companies.” Fortune, 9 June 2017, fortune.com/2017/06/09/white-men-senior-executives-fortune-500-companies-diversity-data/. Accessed 15 Jan. 2019.

What the United States Fought For. 1914. Weber, faculty.weber.edu/kmackay/history_1700cartoons%20imperialism.htm. Accessed 15 Jan. 2019.

Quinn, Daniel. Ishmael. 25th ed., New York, Bantam Books, 2017.

Sagan, Carl,. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. New York, Ballantine Books, 1997.

Hyser, Raymond M., and J. Chris Arndt.  Voices of the American Past: Documents in U.S. History. 3rd edition.  Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.6y7