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School on Columbus Day: Yeah I’m Really Going to Argue a Day Off

Jackie Cope

Do we celebrate Ponce de Leon? How about Marco Polo? The countless Native-American tribes that trod this land long before any Europeans did?

No, in fact, these figures go without cities named for them, nor streets dedicated to them. (When was the last time you saw an Iroquois Avenue?). Not even a rhyme that children repeat under their breaths to figure out the year those explorers and natives arrived.

Yet, after years, we continue to discuss and focus on the polarizing, yet often celebrated, Christopher Columbus. Columbus has been hailed as a brave explorer who established America against the odds; he’s like Rocky would have been if he had been given the task of rounding a flat world. One would not believe the number of students who believe he landed on what would be United States soil. (He actually landed in the Bahamas.)

Columbus has provided a perfect example of the sobering reality of American history that we continue to learn as we grow older. The legend has outshadowed the actual man, who took natives as servants immediately, engaged in the slave trade, and overall represented a new age of imperialism.

When most people think of imperialism, I’m sure they see the image of some dictator’s army (maybe a blitzkrieg or Soviets, adorned with red stars) strolling into a primitive nation,  portrayed on old, grayscale film. But looking back, Columbus is as good of a poster child for imperialism as anyone. He was a man who expanded into unknown territory, with little regard for anyone there, seeking wealth. On his first account of his journey, Columbus focused on how he could enslave any natives he found, calling them “good servants.” Within 50 years, almost 75% of the Native-Americans he found were dead.

Why would we celebrate imperialism?

In this case, celebrate is used loosely mainly because I cannot think of anyone who dedicated his or her day off to the day of Columbus. Columbus has outgrown its use in a changing America. Columbus Day is now an organ, vestigial from a time when many students and adults didn’t question their country: it was their history, right or wrong. I do enjoy a break in October, but I feel a nagging guilt when it celebrates an opportunist who took advantage of a new land and its unfamiliar people.

Can we cram the thousands of Native Americans into one holiday? Maybe a couple cities and streets too…

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About the Contributors
Zach McCarthy, Web News
The news was a big part of Zach McCarthy’s life, and as he enters his senior year, it still is. Growing up, the news was always playing in the background, and his older brother would give him updates. But his main goal is to change the community in a positive way. Young Democrats, one of his multiple extracurricular activities, proves his love for politics. “I wanted to get into local politics because that is where the the most change happens” McCarthy said. Cold calling, a big part of Young Democrats, is when they call random numbers and convince them to change their vote. Through this he has learned that “people are people.” McCarthy also works with people ­ well, children ­ in his other extracurriculars. McCarthy writes for a blog for the library Makerspace informing families what is going on. He also works with middle and high schoolers when tutoring social studies and English.
Jackie Cope
Jackie Cope, Features Editor
Senior Jackie Cope is determined to “Make H15tory” this year,  as it is written on the windows of her car in hot pink writing. Cope is currently working on the Inklings staff as one of the features editors and is ready to bring fun, engaging, and colorful features to this year’s papers. “I am beyond excited to be in charge of features,” Cope said.  “Last year I was Opinions Editor -- still fun but I needed a change.” Some of her previous work includes a piece where she focused on the current fashion trends around Staples.  It is a prime example of everything she publishes: lively, well-researched, and thought provoking. When Cope is not reporting on pressing topics at Staples, she devotes a good amount of her time to volunteer work. This past summer, she volunteered as a teacher’s aid at Daughters Of Charity pre-school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “To put it into simple words, my job was making sure these three to five year olds didn’t kill each other,”Cope said.  “It’s total chaos -- one minute they’re laughing at something that is minorly funny and the next they trip and end up crying as if the world is coming to an end.” Aside from having to provide constant attention, Cope very much enjoys the presence of children and viewed her time working at the school as more of a fun activity rather than a job. She explained that many people would find her job as a challenging one, since she would be, “with these kids for hours on end, every day.”  However, Cope survived, “simply by treating them as funny little humans,” she said. “I loved it so much that I still find myself sharing stories about them to my friends.” Unsure of her profession for the future, whether it includes being with children or with writing, Cope is ready to leave her mark at Staples High School. “Hopefully I will know where I will be attending school for the next four years before April,” she said. “Until then, I’m going to have fun, work hard and make my own history.”  

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