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Editor: Kenzie Cook

Keeping your car safe this winter

A bald tire that needs to be replaced.
A bald tire that needs to be replaced.

Ah, the holiday season—perfect for family, food, and most of all, dangerous roads. While driving in the winter, it’s not very fun to be sliding all over the road, not being able to see, or even having your car breakdown. Winter in Illinois means harsh conditions on the road such as ice, snow, salt and many more hazards. Making sure your car is prepared will help you stay safe and comfortable driving.


Make sure your car’s tires are set to the proper PSI (pressure per square inch). The proper air pressure will be found in the door jam.

The tire and loading information sticker will show pressures for the front, rear, amd spare. Set to correct pressure to ensure correct tire ware
The tire and loading information sticker will show pressures for the front, rear, and spare. Set to correct pressure to ensure correct tire ware.

Check the tire for proper tread depth—to do that, or to see if its too low, take a penny and put Abe Lincoln’s head between the tread. You should not be able to see the top of his head. 

A tire with plenty of air left.
A tire with plenty of air left.
A bald tire that needs to be replaced.
A bald tire that needs to be replaced.


The most important item to keep in your car is an extra pair of warm clothes in case of an emergency. Keep bottled water and dry food, too – sometimes, you really don’t know what hazards you will come across on the road. An ice scraper is very effective in the morning and after a snowfall. Make sure to always keep at least a quarter tank of fuel in case you get stranded.


Keep up to date with oil changes and watch oil levels, coolant levels, and windshield washer fluid levels.

Proper oil height on a dipstick
Proper oil height on a dipstick
Washer fluid is important to clean your windshield
Washer fluid is important to clean your windshield

Extra helpful tips:

Use kitty litter to gain more traction under a spinning tire. Have a towing company contact ready for emergencies. Know where the nearest quick lube shop or dealership is in case you need extra air, oil, coolant, or washer fulid.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to go to Mr. Don Vath or Mr. William Loftus in the Oswego High School auto shop. And above all, remember to always buckle up and drive with caution.

Security Theater: Why you aren’t as safe as you think you are


The illusion of security is all around us and affects everyone, no matter who you are—from TSA screenings, to the password on your Twitter account. These defense measures are presented as safe and secure but in reality, the security around them is very fragile, or in some cases, non-existent. We put complete trust into the systems in place, even though we don’t really know much about the detailed problems they can entail. Here are four misconceptions about everyday safeguards that are more flawed than you may think.

1. TSA Security Checks are supposed to prevent airplane terrorism

Before Sept. 11, 2001, private companies were running Transportation Security Administration—not the government. Everything ranging from baseball bats to scissors were allowed on planes—a thought that would never come to mind in present day, since there is now an extreme amount of safety precautions. Or so we think—most of the rules set into place are not enforced, and when they are, it’s very poorly. When you’re waiting at the TSA security checkpoint at the airport, you have to take off your shoes, belts, pocketed belongings, and put any liquids (3.4 ounces and lower) in a separate bag.This seems like a lot of security for it not to work how it is supposed to. To try and show how well the TSA kept us safe, Homeland Security conducted tests in 2015 where mock weapons were put through their scanners. It didn’t go as  planned, though, when 95 percent of the time the TSA failed to identify the weapons. This shows how unreliable the system could be, which is the reality as the illusion of security could cause people to let their guard down at an airport. That does not mean that people should be terrified, but that does show that they shouldn’t think that just because security is present, they’re safe.

2. Credit/Debit Card numbers are secure in banks

Credit and debit cards are a necessity used in today’s society. They are more convenient than carrying a stack of money around with you that can be easily stolen. They are seen to be one of the most secure items that a person can have. Since all of your money is stored in a card that you can keep by your side most of the time, people think that they can’t easily be broken into. In reality though, there are websites that are dedicated specifically to buying and selling credit card numbers in bulk for prices that are sky high. These websites aren’t just on the “Dark Web,” a part of the internet where people take place in highly illegal activities, as the majority of people think.  It turns out, these domains can actually be accessed on a typical internet browser like Google Chrome or FireFox. The way that people get these credit card numbers is by hacking into banks that have very low security systems. These websites carry anywhere from 150,000 to 500,000 credit card numbers at any time, and about half of those are sold every week. At the moment, there has been added security to credit card with Electromagnetic Verification Chips, but the hackers that have these stolen credit card numbers can easily see the security measures that are put in place that are meant to stop them and can find a way around them.

3. Signing Receipts is a sure confirmation of your identity

Normally, when you purchase something with a credit card, the cashier hands you a receipt that they ask you to sign that authorizes the purchase. Most people think that after the receipt is signed, it goes to the bank and is examined to see if the signature is real. Actually, when you sign a receipt, it doesn’t even go to the bank—even the cashier isn’t required to examine the signature! All the cashier has to do is make sure the receipt was signed, meaning anyone can use your credit card and sign a receipt to make a purchase while using their own signature. Even though they would be committing fraud,  a silly receipt signature isn’t going to stop them. In cases like this, the only thing a person can do is call their bank and tell them to cancel the purchase and card. However, the person committing the fraud does not receive any sort of punishment.

4. Medicine Safety Tabs are Useless

Medicine safety tabs are those annoying pieces of plastic you have to peel off before accessing a new bottle of ibuprofen or similar medicines, and have been around since the 1980s. For most people, these tabs have always been around, so we take them off the medicine bottles immediately without thinking about why they’re there. The reason behind these plastic precautions exist is because in 1982, there were a string of murders involving a serial killer in Chicago who put cyanide in Tylenol bottles. This event caused the death of seven people, ranging from young kids to adults. This threw the medicine industry and consumers into panic. These strings of murders are the reason that most, if not all medicines, have a safety tab underneath the main cap. However, this safety tab can easily be punctured, and will not stop someone from performing a similar string of murders in today’s society. Another event that was occuring at the same time as the poisoning was unintentional overdoses off of Tylenol. The recommended dosage for children is no more than four doses per 24 hours and no more than eight doses per adult. For children, the dosage amount is only half of an adults, which caused an enormous amount of accidental overdoses due to the medicine ending up in the wrong hands at the wrong time. These overdoses are another reason medical tabs were added to bottles. This may be the only aspect that has some sort of value of safety, since any tampering would be visible.

5. The Department of Homeland Security Doesn’t Protect Us From Anything

The Department of Homeland Security is a department of the government whose purpose is keep the people of the US safe from all hazards not just terrorism. The DHS is the organization that created the TSA and the alerts that get sent to your phone if someone goes missing called “Amber Alerts”. Most of the time when an Amber Alert gets sent to our phones the basic reaction is to swipe it away like it wasn’t even there. Homeland Security will say that this system has saved hundreds of missing children, but there is heavy evidence to support the contrary. Timothy Griffin, a criminologist did a study of cases between 2003 and 2006 and his evidence showed that the Amber Alert system has done absolutely nothing in the terms of returning abducted children. According to Griffin, all Amber Alerts create is fear and public panic around an extremely rare event. There are a few cases where Amber Alerts do help save people, for example in 2002 Tamara Brooks and Jacqueline Marris were kidnapped at gunpoint and because of an Amber Alert being sent out a few hours after it was reported both of the people kidnapped were returned unharmed. Yet these situations are even more rare then an Amber Alert being issued. Most of the time if a child is abducted, they’re killed within the first three hours. A majority of these Amber Alerts are sent out during that third hour since it takes time to notice a child is missing. So in most cases Amber Alerts don’t help abducted children get back to their families if anything all they do is create mass hysteria in the public. The DHS is also responsible for creating such things as surveillance systems that are supposed to be high tech but in reality are extremely low quality, putting barricades in front of buildings to stop truck bombs, but leave the loading dock protected by a plastic gate, and putting magnetic strips in driver’s licenses or bar codes on them containing your fingerprint. All of those things do absolutely nothing but either provide an illusion of security or don’t work in the way that they are intended to. The Department of Homeland security is by far the biggest culprit in the play of “Security Theatre” because everything that they have done since they were created in 2002 has done nothing but provide to the argument that security theatre is all around us.

The illusion of security is all around us, yet just because our defense measures have flaws, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t safe. Since Nov. 11 2001, other means of keeping us secure have been added to the world. This includes the increased number of air marshals on flights, the reinforced cockpit blast doors, and spreading awareness to passengers. Your credit card number might be out on the internet, but banks have put in measures to keep your money safe and catch people who commit fraud. Even though safety tabs are easy to puncture, the areas that hold these medications are usually heavily populated with cameras so . The illusion of security causes us to lower our guard and may make us less safe, but the lower security in some areas is compensated for higher security in others.

Oswego can’t decide on a temperature, and I’m not having it

Graphic Credit: Mack Hulke and Jamani Reed

Turkey season is here, and a downfall of temperatures have already arrived this month in Oswego—some days reaching below 20 degrees! Hopefully your turkeys weren’t covered in icicles after sitting in traffic due to the way this weather is acting.

Experiencing the major drop in temperature and weather pattern in Oswego these past few weeks has been horrific. This is the perfect time of year for an extreme change in weather to occur—not! I remember being young and experiencing the struggle of boredom at the Thanksgiving dinner table, eagerly waiting to get that game of family football going. Well, now you’re stuck inside with your Aunt Sally’s hot breath steaming up the room—all because it’s too cold to go outside. The family football game is still possible, but you might get struck with a case of hypothermia.

According to Accuweather, on Monday, Nov. 5, the high was 52 degrees Fahrenheit with a chilling low of 42 degrees. For the beginning of November, Oswego’s average high-low temperatures are typically 54 and 37 degrees Fahrenheit—cold indeed, but could be worse.

The following day, the temperatures dropped slightly with a high-low temperature of 49/36 degrees. With this weather, the beginning of the month wasn’t too bad at first. On Thursday, Nov. 8, temperatures in Oswego began to drop dramatically. The average temperature report for the second week of Nov. in Oswego is a high of 52 degrees and a low of 36 degrees. This year, those numbers have gone incognito with a high-low temperature of 38/31 degrees. BRRR!

Now, about the S word…snow. Yes, I said it. A few weeks ago, I’m sure you can remember what was scattered all across our town. Oh yes, that day when Oswego woke up—dazed and confused, only to look outside and see a winter wonderland. Snow had been falling and seemed as if it had covered every inch of the ground. And guess what? It did! On top of the silky snow, the high was only 34 degrees with the low dropping to an astounding 18 degrees. I would imagine that nobody expected that day to turn out the way it did, nor be prepared for the hazardous driving weather that came with it. All of a sudden, it started snowing and nobody knew how to drive! You don’t have to go 20 in a 45 just because of some snow, but you also don’t need to be flying down 71 like a complete maniac going 60-plus miles per hour! Ugh.

Aside from the snow, Oswego’s temperatures will be floating over the next couple of weeks with the average high temperature ranging between 25 and 50 degrees. The average low temperature for Oswego will continue to range from the mid 20’s to the low 30’s. For Thanksgiving, the reported high-low temperature was a chilling 43/33 degrees Fahrenheit, with hopes that the skies were clear for some outdoor football. Most people had to double up their coats as they made their way to the family dinner table so they could feast in comfort.

Whether or not families played football on the street or watched it from their sofas, the chilling temperatures in Oswego are here to stay. We hoped the day we stuffed our stomachs with turkey would be in warmth, unfortunately it wasn’t. Stay warm, Oswego, and have a good rest of you holiday season!


GALLERY: Our JEA Experience


From Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, I got the chance to not only spend an amazing three days in Chicago with 10 of my fellow 42Fifty students and my adviser, Ms. Sarah Hands, but I also got the chance to capture our adventure through my love of photography.

Over the three days, our team got to walk through the “Saturday Night Live” Experience at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, learn from sessions presented by experienced journalists at the Journalism Education Association Conference, and connect with one another on a more personal level.

The sixth floor of the Palmer Hilton Hotel, where we stayed,  was definitely 42Fifty’s hangout spot during the trip. The floor consisted of only offices, ballrooms, and lobbies—no guests were staying on the floor, and it was mostly vacant all three days, with the exception of a hotel worker doing a security check once in a while. The table where we all sat was where we held our daily debrief meetings, shared what we learned in our lectures, and gave ideas to improve our publication. When we were there, we also had free time. During free time, I don’t think there was a moment when we weren’t all together. Our team always wanted to do things as a group—even after bed check, we would still be talking over the phone with one another.

Our JEA trip was where my classmates became more than classmates—more than just people who sit next to me for 45 minutes of my day. I got to watch my classmates’ eyes light up with passion for journalism, share meaningful conversations, and make jokes that made us laugh until there were tears in our eyes. JEA was where our classroom-setting relationships developed into sincere friendships, and our overall care for one another increased.

Capturing each aspect of those moments was overall my favorite part of the trip. Some people have said the worst part of being a photographer is that you’re in none of your photos, but in those moments of pure happiness and joy, I rarely think about being in the frame. I think about capturing others’ happiness because I already know how I’m feeling, but the real challenge is showing how they feel in a single still moment. As I’m sure my friends who went to JEA would agree, the trip was both an educational field trip as well as a personal adventure, and I was so happy I got the chance to capture “Our JEA Experience” through the lens of my camera.

The 42Fifty team stops on the walkway of Chicago to regroup on where to head next, and to take a look at the famous Chicago riverwalk view. Managing Editor Jacob Anderson cracks a joke, making the group break out into laughter.

Pictured, left to right: Charlotte Conkrite, Lizzy Sorensen, Jacob Anderson, Riah Trevino, Ms. Hands, Charlie Recchia.

”This was a big trip for us, so our energy was high,” Anderson said. “Everyone made me very happy in those moments.”

Adviser Ms. Sarah Hands leads the group in discussion and has fun with her students as well.

“I was so happy to see my students bonding with each other and growing their passion and enthusiasm for journalism,” Ms Hands said.

Managing Editor of Editorial Content Jamani Reed sits in one of the “Saturday Night Live” cast makeup chairs at the Museum of Broadcast Communications on Thursday.  

“Walking through the ‘Saturday Night Live’ experience was a huge deal for me,“ Reed said. “I have always wanted to be a part of it for as long as I could remember, so seeing the process they go through weekly made me more excited to eventually be on the show myself as a cast member or even as a host.”

At the  museum on Thursday, Entertainment Editor Charlie Recchia enjoys the set of Wayne’s World as he sits on the couch, pretending to play the guitar.  

“I felt like a part of history,” Recchia said. “Sitting on the Wayne’s World couch felt very special, as it’s one of my favorite skits.”

Walking through the museum, Blog Editor Kenzie Cook also stops for a moment on the set of Wayne’s World, laughing while lying on the couch of the set from the show “Saturday Night Live.”

“I always wondered how they set up the show, and seeing the behind the scenes really put it in perspective for me,” Cook said.

Entertainment Editor Dylan Jahnke walks into the JEA Convention on Friday,  excited to start his seminars for the day.

“I couldn’t believe it was actually happening,” Jahnke said. “It was like a dream come true to actually be doing something in the real world…that was journalist-related.”

Exploring the “haunted” Palmer House Hilton, Managing Video Editor Charlotte Conkrite vlogs the group’s ghost hunt on Thursday.

“Videotaping the trip was so much fun,” Conkrite said. “Being with that group of people…I felt I was part of something, part of a group where I fit in.”

Sports Editor Alex Mielcarz shares laughs with the team on the way to the convention on Thursday.

“The whole experience was a good one. It was very useful,” Mielcarz said. “It got me hyped up, because this is something I’m considering pursuing in life.”

A game of Jenga breaks out in the exhibition hall between the 42Fifty students.

“I learned the importance of working as a team and really communicating,” News Editor Lizzy Sorensen (pictured left) said. “The game of Jenga was just one way for us to build the team mentality within 42Fifty.”

Together at the exhibition hall, Anderson and Sorensen win as a team in Jenga.

“It was very exciting…just the people with Lizzy and everyone made me very happy,” Anderson said.

Every night, the 42Fifty team debriefs the information from the lectures on the sixth floor, which is also is where the team plays games and talks during free time.

“My overall favorite part was the down time, because we all were able to bond as a class and get to know each other more on a personal level rather than just on an educational level,” Jahnke said.

[VIDEO] Watch the 2018 Pep Assembly performances here!


0:01: Marching Band

1:43 : Choir National Anthem

2:40 : Cheer Team

4:13: Commotion

7:38: Class Games

11:29: Step Team with Math and Science Department

14:41: Mr Oswego Jacob Marcus

16:38: Dance Team

19:50: Varsity Football with Dance Team

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