Letters from Glenwood High Project Citizen
Editor’s note: These are among letters Glenwood Springs High School students have written for Project Citizen. Not all letters we received would fit in a page, so we will run others in the coming days.
Sports fields needed
Glenwood Springs has a shortage of sports fields and we need a multisport turf field. Due to the shortage of places to play sports, there are constantly issues with scheduling, when and where to play. All outdoor sports teams in Glenwood have come into conflict with this issue before. Our policy BLAST — Build Leisure Athletic Sports Turf — is proposing a synthetic turf field of 57,600 square feet be installed in Glenwood Springs. It includes lights and portable bleachers.
The benefits of installing a turf field like the one we are proposing are endless. The cost to maintain a turf field per year is only $75,000, compared with a natural field, which costs $90,000 per year. The synthetic field can support 2,000 hours of play per year for eight-10 years. To make an equal environmental impact, a natural field could only support 400-600 hours of play per year for six to eight years. This policy provides a cheaper, better equipped field to meet the needs of athletes in our community long term, with the potential to generate revenue if a small fee is charged to use the field and lights.
If you are interested in our policy or have any questions or concerns, we invite you to visit our Facebook page, Glenwood Springs Turf Field. As a community we need to do what we can to assist our athletes, especially with the benefits of sports in our culture. Our action plan includes the opinions and ideas from our Glenwood Springs citizens.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Better drug education
Two other students and I are working on a project aiming to improve our district’s curriculum on drug prevention.
Currently at our school the way drug education is being taught is quite formal. Educators teach kids the physical long- and short-term effects that using drugs can have on one’s body and brain. They elaborate on the financial expenses associated with drug abuse, as well as the social effect that they can have on one’s life and the effect they can have on one’s education.
In order to keep kids well informed, they obtain the most recent studies and research to provide evidence behind these lessons. We found all this out by speaking with our health teacher Eric Nieslanik. We also asked him what he would like to see improved. He suggested having more hands-on experience, such as having a recovering drug addict come and speak to students about firsthand experiences with drugs and how they’ve affected his life.
Nieslanik would also like to see an improvement with hands-on experience with driving under the influence of substances. What we are proposing is a program that the state of Washington has dubbed the Social Norms Program. They’ve used this program because most students have a certain perception about the drug use that is happening in their school. Most students’ perceptions are that there is much more drug use happening among their peers than there actually is. These perceptions seem to make student believe it is OK to use drugs because the majority of their peers are.
This program aims to debunk students’ perceptions of their peers’ drug use and give them actual statistics. By doing this, students can see that the majority of students actually are not using so they have no reason to use in order to fit in or seem cool among their peers. My reason for submitting this to gain support from the community.
Support for body cameras
Police brutality has been occurring in the United States for years. After far too many incidents, from Rodney King in 1991 to Michael Brown in 2014, and the 1,199 victims in 2015 alone, the American public has restlessly been seeking justice for the victims whose killers have often gone free.
Law enforcement’s excessive use of force has sparked protests and riots across the country, including the Black Lives Matter movement and destruction of many buildings and neighborhoods in cities including Los Angeles in the ‘90s, and Ferguson, Missouri, just last year.
The fight for justice hasn’t ceased and continues to gain momentum; guilty officers need to be held accountable for their crimes. Although our officers’ jobs require huge sacrifices and occasional force to be used, the judicial protection law enforcement receives when their force is excessive is unfair and unjust.
As a group of students from Glenwood Springs High School, we’ve created a policy to address this lack of accountability in police brutality incidents. We are proposing to get body cameras for Colorado police officers to wear while they are on duty, capturing everything the officer sees and does.
Body cameras will provide accurate evidence and facts on what police officers are doing on duty and what occurs during any confrontation. The officers can wear them on the their chest, shoulders or on their glasses. It would cost about $6.1 million for a force the size of Denver Police Department to get body camera for every officer and to store all of the footage. A single camera would cost about $800, and would help the public to achieve true justice, forcing a new level of accountability on our officers.
For more information, you can visit our website at justiceforinjustice.weebly.com. We hope by gaining support for our policy we can make a difference in our community and help keep people safe throughout Colorado.
Alli Ramsey, Ben Liotta, Dylan Solano, James McMahon, Zachery Niccoli
If you think that hunger is not an issue in Colorado, you need to think again. One in seven people in Colorado is food insecure, meaning they face hunger issues and may not know when their next meal will be. In addition to this, 27 percent of food produced in America is wasted every year. This adds up to a staggering average of 35 million tons of usable food lost per year, which is equal to about $165 billion. Perfectly good and edible food is thrown away in major supermarkets and restaurants simply because it doesn’t “look nice.” This is a major problem in America and also in Colorado, and yet it does not receive nearly as much attention as it deserves.
However, there is a solution. For a project in my government class, my classmates and I are proposing a policy that will address both hunger and food waste problems in Colorado. The policy would require restaurants and supermarkets to donate edible and unused food that they would have otherwise thrown away to food banks and charities. Businesses that don’t agree to this by signing a contract will be fined.
This policy would be put into effect throughout Colorado. This would show the results more realistically than if it was only implemented in Glenwood Springs. At the state level, it will also be more manageable and less costly than if it was implemented nationwide, although this definitely is an issue that affects the whole nation. If we want to solve the hunger problem in America, we need to start somewhere small, and Colorado can be that place.
We are a group of a high school juniors looking to raise awareness about a project in our American democracy class. Seeing as it is a controversial issue in the county, as well as something we all care about, we chose fracking as our topic.
Nearly everyone in the community has encountered fracking at some point in their time in the valley. Out of the 15 Colorado counties that host hydraulic fracking wells, Garfield County is home to 15,463 (both active and abandoned), the second largest well-producing county in the state. Although our county hosts a significant amount of shale gas to drill into and financial rewards for oil and gas companies, we believe the negative impacts of fracking outweigh the benefits.
We are fortunate enough to live in a beautiful place in which our natural environment provides many opportunities for recreational activities and enjoyment. Fracking releases hundreds of toxic chemicals into the earth and air, which hurts our environment as well as degrading it with wells, pipelines and trucks.
In Garfield County, wells exist virtually in people’s backyards. This is especially a problem in Parachute, where the oil and gas development caused controversy within the community. The wells produce mass amounts of disruptive noise and smells.
As well as disruptive noises, those who live in close proximity to fracking sites are at potentially serious health risks. Seventy-five percent of chemicals released could affect skin, eyes, sensory organs and the gastrointestinal system. The Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado concluded that people living closer to fracking operations are at a greater health risk.
In order to protect our county residents and their health and safety, we propose that all oil and gas production must take place five or more miles from city limits or a home. This will limit the amount of residents negatively affected by oil and gas production.
We hope we can raise awareness about this issue and inspire change within our community.
Lauren Fleming, Jonathan Vazquez, Riley Prough, Luke Patch and Phillip Hecksel
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