Category Archives: Feature

History behind Black History month

As February took its toll and ended, students look back through the month and discover new and old ideas. One many seem to have forgotten is the importance of February; it is a month chosen for the celebration and recognition of Black Americans and is well known as Black History Month.

According to, “What we now call Black History Month originated in 1926, founded by Carter
G. Woodson as Negro History Week. The month of February was selected in deference to Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln who were both born in that month.”

The importance of Frederick Douglass being born in February is that he was one of America’s top anti-slavery activist. He was born a slave, but later gained his freedom at the age of 20, escaping from his past.

He fought against the commonly know Jim Crow laws and the acts of lynching.

According to, “For 16 years, Douglass edited an influential black newspaper and achieved interna- tional fame as an orator and writer of great persuasive power. In thousands of speeches and editorials he levied an irresistible indictment against slavery and racism.”

Douglass also worked alongside former president Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Lincoln, who was head of the Union army during the war against the Con- federation (or the South), was a man of integrity and wisdom. Lincoln saw the inside of all people and forewarned those who judged others.

According to, “In 1863, President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring ‘all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.’”

However, the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation completely. Lincoln saw that this document would have to be accepted by a constitutional amendment in order to guarantee the abolishment of slavery.

“The 13th amendment, which formal- ly abolished slavery in the United States, passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the House on January 31, 1865. On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures,” said. “The necessary number of states ratified it by December 6, 1865. The 13th amendment to the United States Constitution provides that ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.’”

Student makes great achievements in singing

For eleven years and counting, Senior Rayla Garske has been focused on singing.

From singing her heart out at every opportunity given, overcoming her nerves, practicing over and over again

and giving it her all, she has made singing her official career choice.

Garske has sung in small groups, in front of family and friends, in front of small crowds and at competi- tions. She has had leads in school plays and ETC show choir competitions. She competed and won “Stow Idol” and “Ohio Idol,” performed at Cleveland sports games, which included singing the National Anthem at a Cavaliers game. She also sang in her second, fourth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh grade talent shows; in her eleventh grade musical; and now plans to sing in her twelfth grade school musicals.

Rayla Garske was born to be singer on Broadway. She dreams of making a career out of her singing, and she is completely capable of doing so.

“Rayla is awesome. She has so much talent,” senior Sean Flemmings said.

Sophomore year, Garske won her first show choir solo competition, fourth best soloist in a show, best vocalist music in Parks with Jazz Band and “Show Choir Camp of America” talent contest. In eleventh grade, she won two show choir competitions and one best soloist
in the show, Stow’s high school Talent Show and “Ohio Idol.”

To top off how incredibly talented Rayla is, she also dances, plays the flute and is very artistic. She has been singing since she was seven-years-old and in second grade.

With all of the competitions and shows Rayla has participated, she says her favorite is the Show Choir Camp talent show, “Hearing the Roar of the crowd.” She also says her best accomplishment she has achieved so far has been winning “Ohio Idol” and meeting so many new people from it.

Her plan for her future is to attend “American Dramatic Arts Academy” in Hollywood for two years. Then attend their branch in New York for two years to graduate and obtain a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. She hopes to obtain her degree and pursue a future in performing.

Rayla has accomplished so much already and still has her whole life ahead of her, filled with opportunities.

She says all that she thinks of and all that fills her once she starts singing is simply joy.

“Music and singing are what I love,” Garske said.

Rayla puts so much work into performing and the star she looks up to for her singing is Beyonce Knowles.

Although she does look up to the star, that is not the only person who keeps her going with performing an following her dreams.

“I Have a lot of support from my mom, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers and ETC family,” Garske said.

The first competition Garske ever participated in was when she was in second grade, which started her whole singing path.

“I wanted to sing in it, so I did,” Garske said. “My mom helped me find a song, which ended up being ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ by Louis Armstrong. When I sang it, people stopped to listen, and it felt right.”

She took lessons for a few months in seventh grade.

Rayla also has taught herself to play the guitar and has played the flute since fifth grade.

Rayla says she enjoys playing the flute and thought Marching Band was so much fun. She also loves to hang out with her friends, take naps, watch show choir and look up new songs to sing.

Freshman shares story about life-altering genetic deficit

Most people take their everyday skills for granted without realizing that not everyone has the same abilities.

A category of dispositions that is most commonly taken for granted is the five senses. Most people do not think about what their life would be like without one of these five senses. For freshman Owen Norris, being without one of these senses is a reality.

Norris has been declared legally blind at birth due to a genetic disease. While this is a very difficult and unfortunate condition for someone to live with, Norris still tries his best to make the most out of everything life throws at him.

Norris describes his condition as “being able to see most things, just not as clearly or as easily as most people can.”

Norris, because of the loss of the use of his vision, relies mostly on his hearing. Instead of seeing and taking notes, he has to listen to the reading of the notes aloud and usually records the teacher so he can replay it in case he misses anything.

Most tasks a normal student finds tedious or annoying, such as taking notes, is something that proves to be essential and helpful once that task cannot be done. Norris would like to be able to see and take notes and do other things of this sort, but instead, has to find ways to get these notes besides reading them.

Located in the library is a braille printer which Norris frequently uses to take tests and complete homework. Norris learned to read and write in braille when he was only in third grade.

Although everything in school is slightly more difficult for him, Norris has learned to work with his condition and still does very well.

“I think even though school is more challenging for me, I still have the same amount of stress that most students my age do,” Norris said.

To help relieve the stress from school, Norris likes to play the guitar which he has been playing for four years now.

Norris’ mother explains that “Owen has a great ear for music. He plays keyboard and also the guitar both by ear. He loves most types of music and has enjoyed music since he was very young.”

Upon being asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Norris said he would like to be a sound engineer; however, along with this career, he wishes to prove to everyone that he can do things just as everyone else does.

Norris is unsure of where he would like to attend college, but wishes to go somewhere with good programs for music producing and sound engineering.

Norris’s mother explains the gene her son has that causes his blindness.

“The gene, NF or neurofibromatosis, which caused Owen’s loss of sight was inherited through my family. No one else  in my family has a loss of sight, however. There are two types of  Neurofibromatosis: NF1 and NF2. One can cause deafness and the other tumors and rarely sight problems,” Mrs. Norris said.

Often times Norris’s mother worries about people judging her son. Not only does this judgment come from peers but also from some adults who are afraid of getting to know a person with vision problems.

He is frustrated at times to find places where he feels that he fits in. Norris is unable to play sports which eliminates finding friends on a team.

Not being able to see as well as most of his peers and other people in general is the only world Norris has ever known; therefore, he has not had to learn to cope with his disability. He has simply learned to grow with/through his condition.

Hiking is one thing Norris and his family enjoy doing together that has also become a little trickier for them.

“When we hike now, we choose trails that are mostly clear. Our family loves being in the woods, but we are more aware of trails with tree roots and large rocks, but we work around it easily. We watch for the word ‘accessible’ now,” Norris’s mother said.

There is one person who inspires Norris the most according to his mother: his brother Matthew.

“Matthew works with the homeless in Denver at below poverty level pay himself.  Matthew’s work ethic in giving of himself regardless of whatever job needs done inspires Owen to try his hardest at school and all things he must do,” Norris’s mother said.

Norris does not want to be excluded out of anything most other kids do just because of his condition. In fact, his condition has taught him to try new things, even if he is unsure of the outcome.

While being as impaired as he is, Norris has learned to be strong and has actually benefited from his condition instead of letting it bring him or his family down.

Norris said, “ I want to prove to everyone everywhere that people with disabilities can do all the same things every other normal person is capable of doing.”

District welcomes Thomas Bratten as new superintendent

By Madelyn Williams and Ashley Sager

The district welcomes new superintendent, Thomas Bratten. On Jan. 26, Stohion members Madelyn Williams and Ashley Sager interviewed Bratten in the journalism office.

On Dec. 5,  2014, the Board of Education offered Thomas Bratten an opportunity to fill the position of former superintendent Dr. Russ Jones. Throughout the month of January, Bratten overlapped with Jones to help ensure a smooth transition for the District.

“I consider myself to be extremely blessed and grateful to be working in a school district whose expectations for excellence are so high and apparent,” Bratten said.

Bratten explained how the interview process was more of a scenario type for him, and he explained the fears he had to overcome during these interviews.

“You do as much research as you can, but you don’t the board members names yet,” Bratten said. “You don’t even know where the office is located when you go to the interview.”

“The Board interviewed 10 excellent applicants for the Superintendent’s position over the last three weeks and felt that Tom was the perfect fit for our District,” President of the Board, Fred Bonacci stated in a press release from the district. “We are confident with Tom’s background and experience, knowing that he will be able to lead our District well for many years to come. We are all very excited that he accepted our offer.”

Bratten attended the University of North Carolina where he played football, then he went to Miami University, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English Education. He has also earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Xavier University, his principal’s license from the University of Akron and his superintendent’s license from Ashland University.

Bratten entered the classroom in 1991 as an English teacher at Cincinnati Moeller High School in Cincinnati and has also taught in various other school districts. With this experience, he has a lot of  knowledge to put forth in and out of the classrooms.

Most recently, he has served as Superintendent of Salem City Schools from 2009 to 2014. Right before that he was an Assistant Principal, High School Principal and Director of Career and Technical Education for Canton Local Schools from 2000 to 2009. Over the years, Bratten has also served at Cincinnati Moeller High School, Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida, Marlington Local Schools and Louisville City Schools in a variety of positions, including English teacher, coach, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director.

Bratten is a strong advocate for kids, as well as a community leader and has a history as an outstanding educator and administrator.

“We’re going to be here unless it’s too dangerous to be,” Bratten said about snow days. “You know, there are a lot of people we talk to in the mornings. My philosophy is you always take the worst roads, and you drive those, and you base things on those because anyone can drive down Graham and be fine, but if you live on a road that has nothing but curves…and it’s nothing but ice, those are the one’s I’m concerned about.”

Bratten has a sophomore son at Missouri University who is working on a double major in materials engineering and ceramics engineering, as well as a nine year old son who attends Washington Elementary. His wife is a technology teacher in the Alliance school district where she has taught for the past 17 years.

Family time for the Bratten’s usually includes anything to do with athletics

“The nine year old keeps us plenty busy with his sports right now,” Bratten said. “I help coach his baseball team, and he plays basketball as well.”

Bratten also enjoys golfing.

“I love to golf. It is my favorite thing,” Bratten said.

Bratten roots for any teams who come from Ohio. He was raised in Cincinnati, but learned to adopt Cleveland teams when he moved up to Northeast Ohio in 1993.

“It’s a lot of heartbreak being a Cleveland fan,” Bratten jokes.

Bratten said, “I am confident that we will continue to do great things, and I cannot wait to get started. I couldn’t be prouder or happier to be a bulldog.”