OCPS implemented Opengate, the new metal detection security system, to bring a sense of safety and security onto school premises. Opengate was introduced to the campus on January 18. The system works to provide extra reassurance and protection within school grounds. 

OCPS announced that seven high schools were selected at random to test Opengate’s technology in an active school environment. Wekiva High School was the first to receive Opengate on December 18. Other high schools in the area, such as Lake Nona, Jones, Evans, Timber Creek, and Horizon, will get their programs launched by March. 

While some were concerned about the effects of Opengate on student punctuality, students were given passes after the tardy bell rang, so actions were put into place to ensure students were not marked tardy. 

The technology scans and screens everyone walking onto campus along with their belongings. 

The precautions put into place are to ensure that students on campus are safe from harm. Students should try to help by making sure to follow all guidelines while entering campus. Removing laptops, spiral notebooks, 3-ring binders, any metal containers/water bottles, extra chargers or devices, and umbrellas can help streamline the process. Students should also turn off any music in headphones, and keep backpacks on the center of body to not set off the metal detectors. 

However, the security system will not alarm items such as stainless steel, aluminum, or small electronics.

The technology utilized by Opengate is not new. The same technology is often found in venues, prisons, theme parks, and hospitals. Due to multiple hijacking events, metal detectors have been introduced to airports across the world, preventing future crimes. 

Opengate detects high metal threat objects such as weapons, helping to increase safety on campus by reducing the risk of shootings and dangerous items brought into the school. 

Boone is not the only school that struggles with these conflicts, if these pilot programs prove successful, it will eventually affect other schools and benefit all. 

“I don’t think [this] school specifically needs more security but the stuff that goes on around our community and other schools, it’s definitely a great addition,” Resource Officer Scott Daniels said.

The school had a soft launch on January 18 leaving students frustrated with the lines. However, after Opengate had been open for a longer period of time, the procedure has become more smooth. 

Mills Avenue, PAC, the front office, and the student parking lot will now be the only places of entry to campus. The attendance office has moved locations into the front office, and the school is opening for students to arrive at the brave head at 6:30 am to help prevent tardies. While the all other entrances open at 6:50am. 

While acknowledging these concerns is important, many find that Opengate will be a large improvement to the campus. 

Parents and staff see this as progression towards a safer community. Faculty finds Opengate to be an extra support system ensuring student and staff comfortability.

The increased sense of security also reassures that students will be held accountable for bringing prohibited items on campus. 

Administration has taken a new level of discipline when it comes to contraband found with Opengate. If a student gets alarmed walking through the detectors, they will get a second search. 

If any weapons or illegal substances are found they will be confiscated and administrators will follow code of conduct. All details are outlined in the student code of conduct.  

While the installation process has proved to come with complications, students and staff should be understanding, as everyone is figuring out the most efficient method. 

Justice for Alejandro Martinez

Justice for Alejandro Martinez

Five years after the death of Boone student Alejandro “Alex” Vargas Martinez, Deandre Florence, 23, was arrested for the murder of the 15-year-old, who was shot on his way to school December 18, 2018. 

“Losing a loved one is very painful, extremely painful,” Martinez’s aunt, Dolka Martinez said, at a recent news conference at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office of Central Operations. “Especially the way we lost Alex. They say time heals but to be honest, it does not. It’s just a patch to a broken heart. You just have to live with it.”

According to WESH 2 News, Martinez was reportedly on the phone with his mother when he was gunned down on Waldo street by Florence, 18 at the time, who was attempting to steal his cell phone. The case was under investigation for a total of five years, with Florence facing nine charges involving racketeering, robbery, and first-degree felony murder. 

Throughout the investigation Homicide Detective Brian Savelli along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office pieced together the several crimes it took to form Florence’s case. 

“Although he’s been a main suspect for years, it takes time to piece forensics, interviews and things of that nature together to come up with a good case…Robberies, commercial burglaries, stolen vehicles, things of that nature,” Savelli said.  

Former Boone principal Dusty Johns released a statement to families shortly after Martinez’s passing, “We were made aware by law enforcement that early this morning one of our students was tragically killed on the way to school. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they go through this extremely difficult time.”

Johns continued to offer parents aid in navigating the feelings of loss and grief they would be experiencing, “Students will have varied reactions to the death of a peer. Any reaction is normal in the grief process and I encourage you to openly discuss with your child their feelings and reactions.” 

Everyone experiences feelings of loss and grief differently, and processing those emotions can be difficult. Counselors on campus remain available to assist students. 

While nothing can truly repair Alejandro Martinez’s senseless murder,  Florence’s arrest is a small measure of justice for the Martinez family. 

Cutting Class

Skipping class has almost formed its own culture in schools, negatively impacting students’ school environment. Not only does skipping limit their education, but it also creates safety issues.  

Luckily, there are many opportunities to eliminate skipping and to do this, the focus must be on students’ needs to keep them in class.

Administrators take the issue of skipping class incredibly seriously, seeing that attendance is outlined in section 2, “Students Rights and Responsibilities” of the Orange County Public School Code of Conduct. It is made clear that students’ safety is in jeopardy when they decide to skip a class. When students put themselves in this situation, they are unaccounted for, leaving administrators and teachers in a difficult position; student safety is unknown.

Freshman Eliana Olivo said, “Students sometimes participate in unsafe activities when they skip or even just because maybe they don’t want to take a test and instead they want to hang out with friends.”

Education is also put at risk for students who constantly skip class. 

Dean Jerry Williams said, “Skipping affects students’ grades by not being able to grasp the subject content provided by the teachers. So, the overall effect of skipping is non-[productive] to the student because they’re just going to continue to miss instructional time.” 

Students who choose to skip their classes are ultimately deciding to deal with the reprecussions.

Policies outlined in the Code of Student Conduct were made to eliminate skipping and show students that their actions have consequences.

Approved on June 25, 2018, according to Orange County Public Schools Code of Student Conduct, “Class attendance and participation are critical elements of the educational process and may be taken into account in assessing academic achievement.”

Although skipping may seem like an unsolvable issue, students believe there are ways to keep their peers in class.

“I don’t think it’s about transitional time. I think it’s about improving the quality of education and making the classroom more engaging for students so they have a reason to go to class,” said freshman Huong Ho. 

While change cannot happen overnight, with the skipping policies put in place for safety as well as students’ important opinions on solving the matter, skipping can be put to an end with adherence to the code of conduct and engaging classes. 

A Final Term of Endearment

A Final Term of Endearment

Photo/Mayor Buddy Dyer/City of Orlando Website

Mayor Buddy Dyer was first elected in 2003, now he will serve his final term into 2027.

Buddy Dyer’s voice welcomes eager air travelers to Orlando, and has acted as a guide, leading the city since 2003. Dyer remains the longest-serving mayor in Orlando history, with his recent mayoral race resulting in his sixth and last term.

Dyer served as a member of the Florida Senate, eventually working as the Democratic Senate leader from 1998 to 2000, before winning the election for mayor. 

Dyer worked as mayor through COVID-19, the Pulse shooting, and nine noteworthy hurricanes since 2004.

“I think we always learn and grow from the crises that we’ve had, whether it’s Pulse or the many hurricanes that come through,” Dyer said in an interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal. 

In recent years, Dyer worked on construction projects, such as replacing the Amway Arena with the Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Center of Performing Arts, the Exploria Stadium, the renovation of Camping World Stadium, and a regional medical center area at Lake Nona.

Dyer is currently working on the expansion of transportation options such as the Brightline and SunRail, the Pulse Memorial, and the Orlando Main Streets Program. He has also worked on the creation of more than 1,500 affordable housing units. 

In the last election of his career, Dyer ran against three others, Sam Ings, Tony Vargas, and Steve Dixon, winning with 72% of votes. 

In an interview with 90.7 WMFE, Dyer said this latest tenure will be his last. 

Dyer told the reporters, he wanted to enjoy his golden years, with only a couple more projects to finish. 

“I wouldn’t say, [I’m] satisfied; I’m proud of the work that we have done, and I’m proud of this community and this city, what we are today. And I look forward to serving another four years,” Dyer said. 

A priority of the Dyer administration will be building a SunRail to the airport to improve travel. This expansion would be a part of the “Sunshine Corridor.” The new extension would run from the Orlando International Airport to the Orange Country Convention Center to South International Drive. 

The next priority will be affordable housing. Specific initiatives underway in regards to the housing issues include increasing the city’s inventory of housing by investing and forging new partnerships to develop and rehabilitate quality housing units for Orlando residents.

Efforts to improve the homeless issue began with working with regional partners to place more than 1,600 of the most vulnerable homeless residents into permanent housing. The administration has also expanded Orlando’s Bridge Housing program, which is a temporary housing solution aimed to quickly bring homeless individuals off the streets. 

The Dyer administration has supported the efforts of community emergency shelters, ensuring that individuals experiencing homelessness have a place to sleep and their basic needs are met.

Despite many of the positive things that Dyer has done with his career, some still voice concerns. Senior Thomas Feavel is worried about Mayor Dyer “pushing an agenda [while in office].”

However, Dyer is in high regard with other officials. 

“Mayor Dyer symbolizes our commitment to inclusion and diversity, and equity in the city of Orlando. And more important than ever, we need people like him in power,” Executive Director for Hope Community Center Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet said.

Grades for Games

Grades for Games

The sound of a keyboard or toggles hitting a controller are not normally athletic sounds, but as we near the end of 2023, those sounds reflect a quickly rising sport. In a seemingly unchanging culture it’s always news when a change is made, let alone a new sport is recognized. Esports, in this case, has been newly introduced into the athletic community.

Electronic Sports are competitions held on video game platforms. Esport athletes range from elementary level students to paid video game athletes. In recent months Esports has been named an official class to be introduced next school year. The class will be counted as a sports credit, expanding the boundaries of who is considered an athlete. While critics think gaming abandons the need of physical prowess, that may not be the case.

“I believe athletes are people who use their physical abilities to get an objective or goal done as well as use their brains,” sophomore Steven Mercedes said; “pro gamers can be considered athletes because they use their strategic thinking to achieve their goal to win, but also they are using their physical skills to use the controller and hit the right buttons.”

Until recently, gaming existed as strictly a hobby, rarely mentioned in the same breath as volleyball or baseball. The key difference is the deviation in skill. While most sports have a large mental aspect, competitions are often won and lost based on who poses the more athletic squad. On the other hand, gaming is proving to be almost mainly mental, eliminating natural athleticism, evening the playing field. According to Old School Gamers, the average IQ of a top ranked league of legends player is between 115 and 120 putting them in the top 15% of the population.

Sophomore Jake Gonzalez said, “[ESports] can bring people together that, aren’t huge athletes that are six foot three, 150 pounds, it really helps bring together a good community.”

 This truth is reflected in the MVPs of the esports world. Unlike the Lebron James’ and Tom Bradys of the world, the greatest gamers in the world often represent the average athletes of America.

“This opens the door for gamers in terms of athletes because, [athletes] are people that are physically athletic and a specimens of human expression, but human expression is beyond the body, and that’s where ESports comes in. Because you get the ability to express competitive nature and strategy and focus and skills and how to hone that as a team. Or if it’s a singular game like solo game, then you hone it as a singular person, but you’re expressing competitiveness without actually needing to be a physical specimen,” future ESports teacher James Elswick said.

It has been nearly 70 years since the first video game has been unveiled to the public. While the rise of Esports has been blatant and loud, it has been coming along for decades. From Pac-Man, to Fortnite, video games have long been apart of  current society. However with the rise of Esports, video games are stepping into a new light, as a member of the sports community.

“Esports are challenging because they have a lot of time and effort they have to put into their game, spending hours practicing for a tournament, or a match,” sophomore Jalen Cruz said.

Students plan to look towards ESports next year to harness their competitive edge, and like all young athletes they will do so with big dreams. 

Like other sports athletes have the opportunity to compete professionally, not as an occupation but as a career,  “I would say if you consider archery or shooting or anything accurate with fine motor skills, a sport then you would have to consider it ESports is sport because the fine motor skills and the endurance level for what they do is very similar to archery and they endurance would also be similar to like Formula 1 long sitting with the extended periods of focus,” Elswick said. 

According to HeadphonesAddict the average professional Esport athlete makes $314,000 per year. Those are eye catching numbers for young video game enthusiasts across the country, thus the introduction of an official course across Orange County high schools.

According to Popular Mechanics the US military has been using gaming controllers for decades. BBC has reported that the design of gaming controllers makes it easier for surgeons to move through a patients virtual anatomy. Using their skills young gaming athletes can open new doors in fields beyond esports.

What will start with the simple introduction of a new sport credit class may lead to the expansion of sports communities. With the rise of ESports comes new opportunities for young gamers. ESports is not only expanding the field of sports but opening up new ways to improve society. Kids that game will have the chance to become pro athletes, surgeons, military officers, and pursue other notable careers.