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Wrenshall students write on issues

Wrenshall High School English teacher Ted Conover said students in his College in the Schools composition course were eager to add to local discourse. So they revised and shortened their long-form problem-solution essays on local issues into print-length editorials, and shared those with the Pine Knot News. Topics range from addressing issues in local schools, arts, athletics, all the way up to state funding and the Legislature — and we are sharing them with you this week and next. Enjoy these thought-provoking writings from Wrenshall.

Book banning

By Owen Resberg

Book banning has started to take place in every community around America, becoming a nationally controversial issue. The issue with book banning is rooted in the content of the book and those opposing it. Many books being discussed for potential banning include topics such as LGBTQ identities, race and racism, violence, and abuse (including sexual assault).

Some reasons why books involving these topics are challenged are due to parents not wanting their child to read about these real issues, not being age-appropriate, or simply because someone disagrees with the content of the book. But this leads to my point that controversial books can help people gain sympathy and eliminate prejudice because they just read the book.

A massive issue surrounding the controversial books is the lack of education as well as inability to have a discussion about LGBTQ, race, etc. People will witness a controversial section of a book and believe that’s the whole story. A solution to this is to simply read the book you are worried about.

A recent example of a book being challenged in Wrenshall is “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, as a result of a parent filing a complaint. The book is about two male penguins who are given an egg by the workers for them to raise.

According to the American Library Association, five out of the first six books that were challenged most in 2022 contained LGBTQ content. This shows how possibly many families have issues with talking about sexual orientation. In response to this, I think schools should have educators who can properly educate and enforce a policy. Ms. Chloe, the Wrenshall library media specialist, makes a point to have these conversations, having never left a discussion with a family on different pages. Ms. Chloe says “no child’s ability to read should be beyond a reasonable doubt in a school setting,” advising an open book policy.

My final suggestion is to implement a policy with a system of checks to have fair jurisdiction of the book. This could include a mandatory reading of the materials as well as a form to fill out. Obtaining multiple opinions from a diverse group of people is essential as well.

Book banning is an issue that doesn’t have to be an issue. Banning them will only make it a mystery and people love to investigate mysteries. Besides, books are meant to be read.

Owen Resberg is a senior at Wrenshall High School. He has many pets and watching movies is one of his hobbies.

Changing burnout

By Brysen Jessup

The months weigh down, the days become a dull haze. Assignments I once had a great enthusiasm for are added to the endless stack of stressors. This is the result of burnout. Usually, it doesn’t rear its ugly head until around February; but this year, for some reason, has been different. It hurts to know I cannot give the things I care about the attention that they require and deserve, but frankly I have no other choice. Something must be done, a change must be made to give our teachers and students the mental and physical rest necessary to reach and exhibit their full potential in our community.

Burnout is obviously an urgent problem, right under our noses. My solution is a four-day school week. This is not unprecedented, as it has been implemented by Two Harbors High School. According to Edweek.org, 2,100 schools in 26 states nationwide have made the switch to a four-day school week, either shaving off Monday or Friday. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, districts that have made the switch to a four-day school week average 2.5 percent in savings annually. When asked about a four-day school week, Chloe Swanson remarked, “Having that third day to rest, hang out with friends, participate in extracurricular activities would increase morale for students. That time would make it easier to show up and be focused.”

Students and staff are in search of a change. Many of us are weighed down by simply showing up and giving our all every day. This proposal could be a chance to change our schools for the better.

Brysen Jessup is a 17-year-old from Duluth. He loves to watch “The Sopranos” and read books. He has never been arrested.


By Andrew Olesen

Lately, Wrenshall has seen a drop in participation in extracurricular activities, and I think other schools in the county have been experiencing the same issue. Putting more emphasis on participation will build the school community.

Wrenshall has seen a decline in both participation and opportunities over the years. Wrenshall school board member Ben Johnson said, “Wrenshall is so small and due to our enrollment size, it is very difficult to add extracurriculars on our own.”

According to a 2009 graduate research paper written by Nikki Wilson, “Impact of Extracurricular Activities on Students,” at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, students who participate in extracurricular activities typically have higher grade point averages, fewer absences, and are more likely to be connected in school. They also benefit from learning time management skills.

Forming co-ops is a solution that seems to be something that will be expanded on in the future. “If we can find partners to work with, we can easily expand our offerings,” Johnson said.

“A wide variety of options allows for more student interests to be met,” school counselor Erik Holter said. “Students don’t participate because they don’t have the means to do so. One solution could be an activities bus.” Wrenshall does not provide transportation for students who participate in extracurricular activities to travel between school and home. The lack of drivers could be solved by having an after-school study hall before the start of activities.

At the start of the year, schools should host an activities fair for the students to attend. Students have a chance to learn about the extracurricular activities and what they do from this.

Asking the students about what extracurriculars they would be interested in joining would increase participation. Having student voices speaking up about what they want makes it easier for administrators to create activities to adhere to the wants of the students.

Providing the means for the students to join extracurricular activities, and giving them the choice of what they want to do and informing them of what their school offers will increase the participation in extracurriculars and the sense of belonging in their school. I hope to see some more participation in the last half of the year and in the years to come.

Andrew Olesen is a senior at Wrenshall High School. He enjoys a good cup of hot chocolate and a nice nap here and there. He enjoys going on runs in Jay Cooke State Park and making his watch tan line as contrasting as possible. He is the youngest of three and the tallest of five. Andrew loves to spend time with nature and plans to pursue environmental science in college.

Rewarding seniors

By Elliana Lattu

I’m an A Honor Roll student who has been taking CIS classes as well as online PSEO classes since 10th grade, aside from my regular high school classes.

I entered my senior year with my 50 required high school credits met. I’ve worked hard throughout my school years to finish so many credits before entering my senior year, but I’m still required to stay at my school for all seven periods each day. This is a requirement not only at my school but also at many other local schools. Students like myself are left having to fill in their senior year with extra classes or study halls that affect their GPAs and report cards but don’t count toward graduation. Students aren’t encouraged or motivated to go above and beyond by meeting all of their required credits early because they have no need to. Not all local schools require this; some high schools in our area reward seniors who have met credit requirements and are in good standing. They allow seniors to leave for up to three hours per day. These schools feel that allowing open time in the senior’s schedule motivates students to do well and stay on track. They feel comfortable giving those seniors a more college-modeled schedule.

I thought a major concern in making this change involved the loss of funding for the school, but it was explained to me that when students are still at school half-days, it doesn’t affect funding.

I feel that schools should consider rewarding seniors who have met or almost met all of their required credits and are in good standing. I think a way to do so is by allowing them the opportunity to only attend school for half-days. Schools can consider having those seniors be involved in volunteering during some of their time away from school.

Starting the change now would create this opportunity for future seniors and be a large inspiration to want to be dedicated and put in hard work toward their education.

Elliana Lattu is a senior at Wrenshall High School. She is Wrenshall student council secretary and has been a member of the National Honor Society for three years. She is the youngest of three and enjoys spending time with her family.

On wolves

By Connar Ankrum

The outdoors has really shaped me into the person I am today. Deer hunting has been a great part of my life that I share with my family and some close friends. In recent years the deer population has decreased for a number of reasons, but the one we can manage is the wolf population. The current wolf population in Minnesota is 2,700, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR’s optimal population of wolves is between 2,200 and 3,000.

Talking to some local deer hunters, the deer have been getting pushed around and feasted on by the wolves. Clyde Ankrum, president of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s Carlton County chapter, said “I would say there are too many. They need to be managed better, but it is not the only problem. Climate and bad winters can be a big problem for deer.”

Our harsh winters are unavoidable, so we need to put our focus on things we can better control. The winter months limit the food sources for wolves, and, according to Debra Mitts Smith, in an article titled “Hungry as a Wolf. What wolves eat” and posted on the International Wolf Center website, white-tail deer are at the top of the menu.

The wolf population must be managed better. There should be 1,000 lottery tags awarded across the entire state, based on the population, to determine the number of tags in the given area. In the early 2000s, deer harvest numbers were around 215,000. Now they are closer to 150,000. However, there has also been a decrease in hunters in the woods.

Just the opportunity to go outside and get your own meat and bring it home for you to enjoy is all the reason to go out and hunt. That is why we need to do something about the declining deer population. We can’t control everything, but we can deal with the wolf population and we need a season to harvest them. I hope that my proposal will help in creating a better deer population for people to go out and enjoy.

Connar Ankrum is a senior at Wrenshall High School.

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