Project Title: The Health Issue
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By: darq3f

[image] quarles headQuarles an advocate for environmentalism at school, home

[image] quarles art


By Hayley Munguia

Walk into science teacher Robert Quarles’ room, and at first glance, it looks like any other science room in the school. Lab tables, desks, a chalkboard and a dry-erase board. But look closer, and you’ll see that’s not the case—a tower soon to be filled with the cocoons of future butterflies by his students, data on dry-erase board from his latest Biology lab. You may even hear the faint sound of bubbling as the water filtration process occurs for a lab his Environmental Science class is currently conducting.

Quarles sees his job as more than just a nine-to-five. He believes in teaching from experience rather than mere notes and quizzes.

Quarles’ repertoire of environmental initiatives at the school includes starting the Sierra Student Coalition, turning the school into a drop point for a community-supported agriculture farm,  and helping initiate recognition as a Green Ribbon School.

The Sierra Student Coalition is the school-sponsored branch of the Sierra Club. Most chapters are university-affiliated, but being a part of the high school equivalent gives students scholarship opportunities and a leg-up in college applications.

“A lot of students wanted to start an environmental club here,” Quarles said. “I chose the Sierra Student Coalition because I’m a member of the Sierra Club. It’s pretty neutral, whereas other environmental clubs can be more politically associated with the liberal faction. I wanted it to be a mainstream group.”

Associating the school with Johnson’s Backyard Garden, an organic community-supported agriculture farm, will affect the community overall rather than just the school.

“They’ve agreed to make the school a drop point, which means customers will buy a subscription to the farm, and every week or however long their subscription is for, the farm will come and drop that off,” Quarles said. “So everyone around Pflugerville, not just students and teachers here, will be able to subscribe and get their fruits and vegetables that way.”

As far as the Green Ribbon School recognition is concerned, Quarles said it’s merely a way for the school to be recognized for things it’s already doing.

Quarles’ dedication to environmentalism doesn’t stop once he leaves the school building. At his home (which was built with the roof facing toward the sun for easy installment of solar panels and is run entirely on wind energy), he uses natural forms of pest prevention instead of pesticides, harvests rainwater, and his bike is among his primary forms of transportation.

“Everything we do is green,” Quarles said. “Whenever we have a choice, we go with the most environmentally friendly option that we can afford. But overall, I don’t think my life’s all that different [from that of the average student or teacher]. I eat food, but it’s organic. I drink water, but it’s well-filtered and it’s good quality, clean water. I live in a house that looks just like anyone else’s—you have to look for the environmental differences. A lot of people have to be told there’s a difference.”

Despite everything he’s done and continues to do at school and at home, he believes improvements can still be made.

“I’m getting a lot of these ideas from students,” Quarles said. “One thing we’re going to try to do here is an energy audit, which is determining a fairly accurate estimation of where the school can turn off lights, do things regarding air conditioning and heating, and save money on energy costs. It’ll be through the Green Ribbon Schools program and my Environmental Science classes will probably help out with it.”

For more information on any of these initiatives, see Quarles in D100.


[image] foodfight head

[image] jackie comic

By Justin Paul

The popularity of organic foods is on the rise, but the cost of eating healthy is still high. And fast food is still immensely popular. 

Organic food sales continue to grow by 20 percent a year. At the same time, Americans who consistently choose healthy foods spend nearly 20 percent more on groceries, according to a recent study by the University of California-Davis. 

So even though the popularity and availability of organic foods is growing (roughly three quarters of conventional grocery stores carry natural or organic foods), the fast food industry is still thriving.

“I eat fast food all the time,” sophomore Tatyana Dawson said. “I started eating fast food in eighth grade.” 

Fast food retails in the United States soared 900 percent from 1978 to 2004. On any given day, one in every three adolescents eat fast food. 

“Most of the time I eat off the dollar menu,” sophomore Daniel Brown said. 

To teens, fast food has a strong attraction. The cost is affordable to anyone with $2 or $3 to spare. That kind of a deal is exceptional to those who don’t have  a consistent income. 

“I eat fast food because it is so addicting,” sophomore Daniel Brown said. 

This is not a rare claim for the average American. Researchers found that foods high in fat, salt and sugar might be physically addictive. 

So the next time you bite into a Big Mac, you may very well be on your way to an addiction.



[image] lunches headline

More fruits, vegetables added to lunch menu

[image] lunch pic


By Lilith Neal

Working toward a healthier future, the cafeteria has been incorporating more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables since last September. 

“[We’ve added] a mixture of fresh fruit daily to make sure they get a variety of vitamins,” Cafeteria Manager Rachel Silva said. 

The changes were inspired, at least in part, by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program, which aims at preventing childhood obesity.

“I still think that we have a lot of work to do,” Silva said. “We have to perfect what we are doing here so it is not wasteful and it is still appealing to the eye.”

PHS is also serving vegetarian options like fresh salads, cheese pizza and vegetable wraps.  For those with peanut allergies, the district’s food service provider uses sun butter in all its peanut products. 

“I think [the food] has improved, I don’t think you want to go back to the square pizza,” Silva said.

Even with the improvements to the menu some students are still unsatisfied with the quality of food they are getting. Others haven’t noticed the change.

“It’s all fake and greasy and gross,” junior Mackenzie Coffey said. “It’s just nasty.”

Principal Kirk Wrinkle said Coffey is not the only one who feels that way.

“When I was in school, I went back for seconds,” Wrinkle said. “Obviously we don’t have that option [because] they have to pay for seconds. I don’t know of any kid that wants to go back for seconds here. Everything I hear from kids is that it does not taste very good. 

“But on the other side of the coin, the government controls everything now. So [the district’s food service provider is] only doing what they are capable of doing based on the guidelines the government gives them.” 

With the recent budget cuts in the district, the cafeteria will not be affected. By changing the menu, Wrinkle said he thinks the cafeteria will be saving money.

In April, the school will assimilate the Pizza Hut franchise. The pizza will no longer be ordered but made fresh on campus.

“We are being sent to training, and we will be making personal pizzas,” Silva said. “[At] Hendrickson, they get the little personal pan pizzas with the little boxes. It’s really cute.”


[image] weightloss



Demystifying nutrition

A closer look at calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins

By Oliver Green

Calorie: The unit by which food, and the amount of energy a person takes in is measured. To maintain one’s weight, energy intake should equal energy expenditure. If the  energy intake is negative (if a person consumes fewer calories than he or she needs or expends) then weight loss will occur. If energy intake is positive (if a person consumes more calories than he or she needs and expends), weight gain will occur.

Proteins:  Small units called amino acids strung together in complex formations. Because proteins are complex molecules, the body takes longer to break them down. As a result, they are a much slower, longer-lasting source of energy than carbohydrates. The body needs protein to maintain and replace tissues and to function and grow. If the body is getting the calories it needs, it will not use protein for energy. If too much protein is consumed, the body breaks the protein down and stores it as fat.

Fats: Complex molecules composed of fatty acids and glycerol. The body needs fats for growth and energy. The body also uses fats to synthesize hormones and other substances needed for the body’s activities. Fats are the slowest form of energy but are the most efficient form of food. Each gram of fat supplies the body with about 9 calories:   more than twice that supplied by proteins or carbohydrates. 

Because fats are such an efficient form of energy, the body stores any excess energy as fat. The body deposits excess fat in the abdomen and under the skin to use when it needs more energy. The body may also deposit excess fat in blood vessels and within organs, where it can block blood flow and damage organs, often causing serious disorders.

Carbohydrates: Depending on the size of the molecule, carbohydrates may be simple or complex. Many forms of sugar are simple carbohydrates, such as glucose and sucrose (table sugar). They are small molecules, so they can be broken down and absorbed by the body quickly and are the fastest source of energy. They can quickly increase the level of blood glucose (blood sugar). 

Fruits, dairy products, and honey contain large amounts of simple carbohydrates, which provide the sweet taste in most candies and cakes. Complex carbohydrates are composed of long strings of simple carbohydrates. 

Because complex carbohydrates are larger molecules, they must be broken down into simple carbohydrates before they can be absorbed. Thus they tend to provide energy to the body more slowly than simple carbohydrates but still faster than protein or fat.

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