Smart Spending

by Olivia Parker

Now that most of us are old enough to have the freedom to choose where we spend our money, it’s important to trust the companies we are giving our money to. When we buy goods or services from certain brands, we are indirectly promoting the causes they support as well. For example, you could be supporting cheap labor in foreign countries, discriminatory actions, or animal testing. On the other hand, it is also good to support the brands you do agree with like female empowerment, environmental safety, and feeding the hungry. Here is some important information about select brands and companies to consider when making decisions about where to shop.

H&M and Gap – Sweatshops and racially insensitive clothing

Imagine working in a Cambodian clothing factory, sewing clothes for roughly 50 cents per hour. You are forced to work long hours in a hot room packed full of other women and children. You and other workers faint frequently and any possible strikes are shut down by authorities. You are trapped in a job that provides for your family, but will not help you escape poverty. Major clothing brands like H&M and Gap are guilty of supporting sweatshops, primarily in Cambodia, with similar conditions. These companies can sell their clothes for as little as $25 because of the outsourced cheap labor in developing countries.

In recent news, H&M has also had another press scandal concerning it’s new release of a boy’s hoodie. The serious reputation crisis emerged after the image of a small black boy modeling a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hit social media. H&M came out and explained that it was a result of internal procedures not being followed properly, but it quickly turned into a racially insensitive nightmare. The Weeknd, a musician and collaborator with H&M, recently announced he is cutting ties with the store in the wake of the incident.

Clorox – animal testing

The Clorox Company, which specializes in cleaning products, has been present in many of our homes since 1913. They have products to clean your bathroom, kitchen, wood products, and just about anywhere in your house. Since they do sell products with chemicals for cleaning and human contact, they must make sure they are safe for their consumers to use. This includes testing them for incidental and accidental reactions to skin, eyes, ingestion, and inhalation, occasionally using animals. On their website, TheCloroxCompany.com, they explain that animal testing is the last resort and used only if all other efforts to ensure safety are exhausted. However, the company is currently working towards a future where animal testing has no role in product development. They believe companies should be able to use existing data and alternative tests so animals are not involved in product-safety testing.


Abercrombie and Fitch – Weight discrimination

One type of discrimination still prevalent in the U.S. is weight discrimination.  Abercrombie & Fitch’s chief executive, Michael Jeffries, admitted that his company designed clothes no larger than size 10 to target “cool kids’’ in a 2006 interview with Salon magazine. When challenged by The National Eating Disorders Association who believed this encouraged eating disorders, like anorexia, in customers wanting to fit into their clothes, the company stayed silent. It is important to know, especially now that we buy most of our own clothes, that when you buy clothing from a store you are supporting a certain attitude put on by that store.

Clif Bar, Patagonia, and New Balance– Environmentally friendly

Here are three brands that a majority of us own and love: Clif Bar, Patagonia, and New Balance Athletics. All of these companies publicly strive to make the Earth a better place. Clif Bar and Company’s Co-owner, Kit Crawford, says the company’s goal is to create “the kind of place that makes the kind of food we’d like to eat, and that strives for a healthier, more sustainable world.” Clif Bar sources quality, mostly organic ingredients from farmers and other suppliers that uses fair labor practices. The next company on this list, Patagonia, uses recycled and environmentally friendly materials in its clothing, as well as energy and environmentally efficient stores and facilities. They also donate at least 1 percent of company sales to various grassroots environmental groups across the globe. Also, while your Patagonia is keeping you warm in the winter, it will last longer and stay out of the landfills due to the Company’s Worn Wear Program. Lastly, New Balance Athletics is changing the way the sneaker industry runs with its reduced use of harmful chemicals. It’s kind of a buzzkill to hear that your fresh pair of sneakers were made using chemicals that are hazardous to the environment, so to counteract this problem, New Balance has created a special team in their company tasked with keeping tabs on harmful chemicals used in production, and finding ways to prevent restricted substances from entering factories. These are just a few examples of companies that are making an effort to better the planet by doing their part to keep it clean.

Always– #LikeAGirl campaign

We all know the brand Always as a reliable source for feminine hygiene products. In the past three years, they have launched a campaign to empower the very people that use their products- girls. Studies show that when girls hit puberty, 80 percent of them feel the societal pressure to be perfect and never fail. This fear of failure inhibits girls from trying new things and setting big goals. Always wanted to boost a girl’s confidence at the time they need it most, when they begin the daunting journey of womanhood. Part of their campaign was a commercial in which they portray their mission to encourage girls everywhere to embrace failures as fuel to build confidence and keep going #LikeAGirl.

Tacos4life– Meal4Meal

Tacos4Life is a restaurant with a great assortment of unique and tasty taco flavors that was started in Arkansas. The quality that makes this restaurant unique is its mission to give back on the global stage through their Meal4Meal program. They have decided to help solve one of the world’s greatest problems- hunger. Tacos4Life donates the funds necessary to Feed My Starving Children to purchase one meal for every meal sold in the restaurant. They also work with organizations in countries like Honduras, Haiti, Belize, Dominican Republic, and Swaziland where children face economic and health challenges.

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A Season of Love and Preparation

By Olivia Parker

Lent is a forty day religious observance that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The tradition of Lent dates back all the way to the 4th century: people were only allowed to eat one meal a day, and there was a strict diet of no meat or fish.  As Catholics today, we are only called to abstain from meat on Fridays and to make one sacrifice throughout Lent. However, the meaning of Lent still stands the same as we take time to prepare for Jesus.

Ash Wednesday, which takes place on February 14 this year, marks the start of this solemn season of sacrifice. On this day, ashes put on our foreheads in the shape of a cross are made from the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday mass. These ashes are symbolic of our past sins, and remind us of the period of reflection and repenting ahead.  The priest marks these blessed ashes on your forehead saying “remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, something that hasn’t happened since 1945. Many see this as a happy coincidence to celebrate their love for others and Jesus. Sadly, you just might have to find a different way to celebrate this Valentine’ Day other than delicious food.

What’s Going On in the Natural State

by Olivia Parker


Arkansas cuts off relationship with “Love Locks”

The unique trend of attaching locks to bridges or public structures as a sign of love between couples has made its way to Arkansas. The trend started in Paris, France on the Pont des Arts Bridge which became a small tourist attraction until 2015 when the weight of 700,000 locks was crumbling the gates of the bridge. Love locks have also recently been removed from Arkansas Junction Bridge railings to prevent damage to the integrity of the bridge. Similar to the Pont des Arts in France, the Junction Bridge is a pedestrian and cycling link across the Arkansas River. The Junction Bridge Board stopped the love craze before it became a heavy problem by removing the current locks and preventing any future locks from being put on the bridge. Although the love locks can no longer stand the test of time on the Junction Bridge, love in Arkansas is still thriving.

A Little Christmas Cheer in the Cafeteria

Newark Elementary is blessed to have Mr. Heath as their dedicated custodian for Christmas every year. Mr. Heath has annually decorated the school’s cafeteria for Christmas so the students can have a taste of Christmas they might not see at home. Even though Mr. Heath works in a place full of constant noise from children talking, chairs clattering, and trash bags opening, he just so happens to be deaf. Mr. Heath attended the elementary school as a child and has a deep connection to Newark.  His dedication to the children shows through his hard work and compassion for the school.

Wildfires in Arkansas

The Arkansas Agriculture Department’s Forestry Commission (AFC) suppressed 103 wildfires that burned 1,805 acres over Thanksgiving break. Current dry weather and droughts have made Arkansas vulnerable to wildfires, and has also caused many burn bans across the state. 59 of Arkansas’ counties are also now under high wildfire danger. U.S. Forest Service crews are responding to wildfires currently burning within Arkansas’s National Forests in Perry and Johnson Counties, which may create smoke throughout Central Arkansas. In November alone, 196 wildfires have burned over 3,000 acres. Arkansas is on its way to another high wildfire year since 2012 when over 34,000 acres burned This year is not far behind with over 22,000 acres already burned. Please keep the firefighters and crew members fighting the wildfires in your prayers as they continue to work through the upcoming holiday season.

Christmas Spirit in Downtown Little Rock

A new tradition begins this year as Little Rock brings in a 40 foot white fir tree to Main Street. This new addition will light up the streets for the holiday season in addition to the beautiful Capitol Christmas lights and the Capitol Hotel’s gorgeous indoor tree. The tree will be decorated with hundreds of multicolored lights to hopefully attract Arkansans to the downtown area for the holiday season. During this Christmas season don’t forget to stop by and visit the new tree.

(Source: Fox16 News)

A Mount Alumna: 10 years later

By Olivia Parker


Meredith Parker is an alumna of Mount St. Mary Academy, class of 2007. Today, ten years later, Meredith is 28 years old and working as a Senior Graphics Operator at two local news stations. Meredith was the twelfth of fourteen girls in her family to attend Mount St. Mary Academy. Over the past ten years, Meredith has pursued a career in news production through graphic design and simultaneously widened her perspective of her city and grown more confident in herself.

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While in high-school, Meredith did not think of pursuing graphic design as a career, but instead was more focused on a music career. She gravitated towards more creative classes at Mount, like art and music. After high school, she attended University of Central Arkansas and decided to try out the film program. Throughout college, she started to focus less on music and more on film, photography, and graphic design. Although Mount did not offer a Broadcasting or Graphic Design class when she attended, Meredith recalled that Art and Concert Belles both fed her creativity and enhanced her artistic abilities in college. She ended up graduating UCA with a major in Digital Filmmaking and a minor in Photography and Graphic Design.

Meredith has been working at the local news stations, KARK 4 News and Fox 16 News, both owned by Nexstar Media Group Inc., for six years. She mentioned that she “still felt prepared because of my degree, even if it wasn’t in Broadcasting”. She started off in basic production by operating cameras, working the teleprompter, and operating graphics. As years went by, she transitioned to full-time Graphics Operator and now creates graphics for the show and controls them during shows. Meredith even gets the occasional graphics request from reporter friends at other stations across the country.

Working at a news station as a graphics operator is a unique job that most young students don’t think about when choosing a career. When asked for one reason why she loves her job, Meredith told us that “we get to put on a show everyday.”  Even though it is the same news show, the content is always different and this keeps each day exciting and unique. During the show, Meredith sits in the control room and helps put on the show that you see on your television. With the help of the audio man, director, teleprompter, and the producer,  the show is called, graphics are cued, and the teleprompter is run to ensure that the show goes smoothly every time. News stations are always buzzing with activity and on the lookout for breaking news and severe weather. Whether it’s creating graphics, listening to police scanners, finding a story, or filming a show, the world of news never stops.

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Between the two stations there are several airings of newscasts, two sports shows, and a political show. With all these programs, the news is constantly on air. Two stations in the same studio is actually “quite common in the news world today.”  Making sure the shows have different looks and styles is key when creating graphics. The sets of the two shows are very different from each other and are further distinguished by their graphics. Meredith said that starting off just working for Fox 16 part-time, then merging with KARK 4 caused “double the work, but helped me grow and improved my abilities.”  Her hard work and growth was acknowledged when she was voted Employee of the Month twice and the first Employee of the Year by her coworkers and superiors. Working at a news station in the control room requires you to “be flexible…the show must go on,”  especially when technical difficulties occur.

Aside from graphic design Meredith also utilizes her photography minor by maintaining photography as a hobby. She loves to check out the latest camera technology and graphics programming to keep herself up to date on advancements in the field. Recently, she has photographed weddings for friends, taken family photos, and even some senior pictures.

One of the many things she likes about graphics is that “you are never satisfied,”  it is always improving and there are endless possibilities. This is a growing career path with endless job opportunities.

From an interest in a music career to a job in graphic design, this just goes to show that “ sometimes your career will take you to places you wouldn’t have ever thought of going.”  

 

Amalie: New York, New York

By Olivia Parker, senior writer


This past summer Amalie Shollmier, class of 19’, caught a plane to the Big Apple. She took part in one of the lesser known trips at Mount, Ms. Moses’ annual trip to New York City, along with three other Mount girls and two Catholic High students. Over the course of five days, Amalie remembers eating a considerable amount of cart hot dogs, exploring Time Square, wandering through Central Park, braving the New York subway, and making memories to last a lifetime.

In order for Amalie and her friends to make it through each day, there were almost hourly stops at Starbucks to keep their energy up from all the walking. Besides coffee and hot dogs to keep her going, Amalie claims one meal from a spur of the moment Mexican restaurant “had the best chicken quesadillas of my life, I wanted to cry.”  She also learned how to walk in New York, by developing a city slicker pace and keeping eye contact to a minimum.  Although she was a pro New Yorker by day three, Amalie still got lost  in Queens; however, she safely made her way back to the group a few minutes later. The Mount group was also a frequent user of the subway to reach different parts of the city. According to Amalie “it smelled like straight foot, a sweaty gym foot, but it was a good way of transportation.”

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The smell wasn’t the only thing they encountered in the subway.  Amalie spotted Tony from the hit Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, “I didn’t say anything because I got nervous” was her excuse for missing the autograph and photo opportunity, but we will forgive her. In addition to this celebrity sighting, there were many Broadway stars seen up-close on either the stage or the streets. In one incident, Ms. Moses bumped the lead actor in Miss Saigon with a revolving door as the rest of the group stood by laughing. Their experiences with actors were much more extraordinary when the group got to see them on stage in one of the five musicals and plays they saw each night. When they saw her favorite musical, Waitress starring Sara Bareilles, Amalie says,

“I cried like three times and I don’t cry”, but “being in the presence of Corey Cott , from Bandstand, changed my life.”

When asked what was your most interesting memory she immediately said “Baguette Lady”. To make a long story short, Baguette Lady was a nickname given to a stranger the group saw on the side of the road during a tour who “pulls out a folded Panera baguette out of her black tote, danced around with it for a solid thirty seconds, folded it back, put it in her bag and walked away.” This moment would inspire inside jokes and laughs to last the whole trip.

Overall, Amalie claims New York lives up to most of the stereotypes. The city “literally never sleeps” and includes many walks of life.  This trip is 100% recommended by Amalie for upperclassmen who love theater and are looking for a personalized trip with a close-knit group. From the towering skyscrapers, to Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty, New York is a trip worth taking.