Posted in 2015-2016, Lifestyle, Travel

Float on Down

By Breanna Myers and Amelia Lowry

Every day as I walk to and from the different buildings where I have my classes, I like to look around and notice the curiosities of our downtown area. Sometimes, it’s the pedestrians with their little puppies, or the cars driving by with their windows down and loud music blaring. Sometimes, it’s the things I pass by everyday and never really take the time to consider. For example, the little float spa on the first floor of the Grand Piano building.

What was this place? Was it like a giant bath? What was this experience supposed to help with? Who would pay to float in a tank of water for an hour in the dark? Why Hagerstown? I had lots of questions. But most importantly: what was it for?

Eric Sarmiento and his family, who own and run Regenerate, were overjoyed to let us check it out and answer any questions we had. I ventured down there nearly every day for a week with questions from, “What made you decide to open up Regenerate?” to flat out, “What is it and why is it different from floating in my bathtub?” They were more than patient with my high school antics.

The story of the float spa began when Sarmiento heard from friends of floating’s power

and, once he tried it, it he was hooked. He loved that the floating experience gave him a better sense of mental clarity, along with the physically healing elements as well.

“Really, what is floating? And why am I going to spend $80 on it?” I asked cynically.

Apparently I wasn’t the only asking these questions. WHAG news did a story on Regenerate back in 2015 when they first opened and they describe it as “the latest health trend that people are doing to unwind after a long day.” The pods with their 10 inches of water saturated with 1000 pounds of epsom salt hold both mental and physical healing properties.

After so many visits, I felt at home in their calming lobby. Between aromatherapy, himalayan rock lamps, and soothing music, and even the employee’s light voices, both Amelia, a fellow BISFA writer, and I were fighting yawns every time we walked in.

Before we knew it, the day of the float had arrived. It was Earth Day, and Sarmiento greeted us with a smile as always. “You know who’s birthday it is today? Earth’s.” We just laughed nervously, wondering what the heck we were getting ourselves into.

Sarmiento opened the door to the hallway for rooms with the isolation pods, which we’d 98289_large_1.pngnever seen. It was even more mysterious than I imagined. It was completely dark, save for three closed doors, out from under which emerged glowing lights. It looked like something straight out of an 80s sci-fi film. Thankfully, no aliens came running out when Sarmiento opened the first door. Instead, there was what seemed like a large, white incubator that took up most of the room. This was a “pod.” Amelia and I stepped into the dark room, where green light was blooming from the corner. The room itself was very warm and had a very interesting earthy scent. Besides the pod, there was only a shower, and some hygienic necessities.

“So. First impressions?” Sarmiento asked. We just laughed, mumbling something about being excited. After a brief introduction to the room and how our session would go, I left Amelia in the first room and made my way to the second floating room, where the light was pink instead of green.

An hour later, I was sipping water and struggling to find equilibrium in the lobby while I waited for Amelia to emerge. Finally, she came out, hair wet and looking equal parts rejuvenated and loopy.

“How’d ya like it?” I asked.

“I died…” we all looked at her, startled. “In a good way.”

I understood where she was coming from, but it didn’t quite feel like death for me. Rather, I felt like I was enveloped in a thick, opaque fog. I could still do everything, but it all took a bit more effort. Additionally, I noticed Amelia and I were both talking slower as well, giddy on the 1,000 pounds of epsom salt we had just spent an hour in. On the way out, we ran into one of our teachers, Mrs. Taylor, and she looked at us like we had just come back from Narnia. “Where have you guys been?”

“We were trying out the float spa,” I said sluggardly.

“Woah! What was it like?” Mrs. Taylor asked.

“It felt like I was dead,” Amelia said, using her new catchphrase. “Because, you can’t feel your body ‘cause the water feels the same as the air, and everything is really dark, and even if you open your eyes it feels like they’re closed.”

“It was so freaky! I feel really… light. It’s odd,” I grinned stupidly. Mrs. Taylor laughed and walked out to her car saying something about seeing us tomorrow.

Amelia and I continued to our destinations, tripping down the sidewalk as we went along. “What were you thinking about the whole time?” Amelia asked me.

“How much I wished I wasn’t thinking anything. And how loud my breathing was. You never really notice it, ya know?”

Regenerate-Float-Saver-img.jpg“I had ‘The Great Outdoors’ playing,” Amelia said, gesturing to express the dramatic title of her “mood” music. We had been given options for the background noise beforehand, and I had picked “Gentle Rainfall” (a much less theatrical title.) “And so, the whole time I was kind of thinking about all the different places I had been outside, and it felt sort of like I was small again. Because it’s pretty easy to have that child-like sense of wonder when you’re in a little capsule.” I found myself being distracted by everything happening around me, my brain newly aware of all the extra stimulus.

I tried to refocus on Amelia, “I turned my music off right away, trying to get the ‘authentic experience’, ya know? Did you have your light on in the pod?”

“No, I turned it off as soon as I got in. I had to make sure to keep my mind away from horror-movie scenarios, because I knew that could get bad pretty fast,” Amelia said.

“I understand, I had a lot of trouble just surrendering. It was all so scary but freeing, too. I didn’t realize how much it worked until I tried to stand up, I almost fell over!” Amelia and I went our separate ways and I decided to walk home, savoring the invigorating and relaxing effects of the float.

The next day, I barreled down the steps to the first floor with my classmates as always. I glanced in, waving at Sarmiento and the other employees and smiling sheepishly as I realized just how loud and busy we all were. It was amusing to think about how just through those doors was a serene escape while we all babbled about homework and stress and everything else that comes with being a student at BISFA.

Breanna Myers is a Senior at Barbara Ingram and Amelia Lowry is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram.

Posted in 2015-2016, Travel

Violet Relaxation

By Katherine Napier

You get home from school in a bad mood, so you toss down your bags and let out a heavy sigh that alerts your parents of a rotten emotion filling your mind and chest. Your parents try to talk to you but you just storm by them, going to your room. You faceplant onto your bed and let out an agonizing scream. Your mom walks in and asks why you’re so upset and you just sit up angrily, glaring at her. She puts her hand on your shoulder and reassures you that she’s here to listen. You slowly begin to explain how awful your day was, you got into a fight with your best friend and now you aren’t talking. You got yelled at by a teacher for missing the previous day.

Your mother just sighs and tries to explain that this is just life and that’s how it works. You look at her with disbelief because she just sided with the rest of the world when she should be siding with you. You think of the next best place to go, a place she can’t follow you to— the roof. You wait for her to leave and then you slowly ease yourself off of your bed and up into the “attic”. The steep steps creak under the weight of your body and anger pushing onto them to propel you up further.

The window slides open with a slight rumble and the screen hesitantly releases itself from the latches and allows you to open it. You step out of the window, feeling the roof just right below your right foot and you plant yourself. Next, you grab the side of the window and carefully step out with your left foot (keeping your right hand on the brick side of the house). Your feet are planted firmly and now you slowly walk up the first peak of the roof, turning to see the sunset beginning. A smile manages to peek out from behind your frown. You climb to the highest point of your roof and sit down just below the place where the two slants meet.


The sky is filling with orange that blends in with the pink. The purple is blending in with the blue. The clouds are showing a contrast meant for a professional photographer to capture. You begin to focus on your breath– In. Out. In. Out. Inhaling the stress of the day. Exhaling the relief of watching the sun set behind the trees. The clouds are swirling, seeming to match the soothing of your emotions and evaporating when the anger is released from your chest. You’re tempted to let out a scream as a bird flies by, landing on the roof in front of you. You notice the beauty of seeing such a majestic creature, watching one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen.

The sunset is reflecting your emotions, you tell yourself. You’re begging yourself to just slip away, let yourself melt into your surroundings like the orange the pink blend before becoming a hot pink tangerine. Let yourself darken a tad like the purple and the blue turning into a periwinkle. This is what you live for, seeing the sunset after a long stressful day. Inhaling the stress and exhaling the relaxation of knowing you’re at peace with yourself, with the world.

Katherine Napier is a Junior at Barbara Ingram

Posted in 2015-2016, Humor

An Open Letter to Wonderbook and Video

Dear Wonderbook And Video,

It’s been awhile since I’ve been rooting through your endless, ribbed shelves of dusty paperbacks, perusing the eighties movies, and scavenging for bargain CD’s. While I do think of you sometimes, daydreaming of the overwhelming smell of old books, and glass bottles of soda, we needed this time apart. You’ve always had some evil power over me, making me want to stay for hours and hours even though you haven’t had a bathroom since I was 7, and being too awkward to go to the next store over, I’ve held my bladder at gun point so I can find just the right book every time.

You’ve made me accumulate dozens of novels I’m sure I’m never, ever, EVER going to read. But you convinced me to buy them anyway. A Latin to Spanish dictionary! It’s only two dollars!  I keep falling to the seductive force of yet another Edgar Allan Poe short story collection because it has one story I’ve never read before, or a poem, or the cover’s just cool. But I’m done with that. I’m done with your hypnotic halls of history books, the pile of free posters I can’t help but look through. I won’t let the prospect of another brown bag sale drag me over to your place again, at least, not this year.

I know you’ll be in my life again soon enough. I won’t be able to resist your siren’s call for long, but until then, I’ll appreciate this time apart.

Nathan Retherford

Posted in 2015-2016, Lifestyle

On Dress Codes

By Maddie Sokoloski 

If only Little Red Riding Hood had a cloak that covered up her up a bit more. She shouldn’t have been tempting that wolf with all that exposed skin. If her grandmother had been wearing a ski mask to bed maybe the wolf would have been able to control himself.

With summer just around the corner and heat waves rolling in, young women across America are breaking out shorts and tank tops. Principals everywhere are blowing the dust off their trusty school handbooks getting ready to punish female students for breaking the most important rule: the dress code. Girls have begun crossing their fingers, hoping administration doesn’t punish them for “making other students uncomfortable” or “disturbing the learning process.”

dress code.jpgI hope I live to see a day when girls are not raised with the words “you are a distraction, your bra straps are disturbing the people around you” ringing in their ears. I hope there will be a time when little girls don’t feel like it’s their fault that they are victimized, when women aren’t made to feel guilty because they were “tempting him” or “showing too much skin.” It doesn’t make sense that people would defend the beasts and wolves, the abusers and rapists and denounce the girls who used to carry hope with them like a flag, who had innocence ripped out of their hands. I hope there will be a day when school districts become the safe zones they claim to be. Places where young women can go to the administration, sleeveless shirt and all, and complain about another student or, God forbid, a teacher who looks at her shoulders with the eyes of a predator. A female student should be able to tell people when they are feeling uncomfortable with other people’s actions without worrying someone will judge her or deem her “inappropriate.”

I hope, someday, there is a world where we don’t have to teach our daughters to look both ways before crossing the street, not because cars could be passing but because a predator could be following. I hope there’s a world where friends don’t have to guard each other’s drinks because men are taught how to be men and not monsters, people are taught to keep from slipping things into people’s drinks. I hope there is a world where girls can walk down the street without gripping their keys like a weapon, without knuckles whitening around hidden pocket knives, without women acutely aware of which part of their purses the pepper spray is tucked into, without old women who walk with canes or umbrellas just to have some sort of advantage if attacked. I hope that there is a world where we stop blaming young women for the actions of other people. I hope we can stop teaching our girls to throw on an extra layer because “There’s no way you’re going out dressed like that.” I hope there is a world where the victims are not blamed for the actions of attackers, where women aren’t taught that showing their shoulders or bra straps or legs or cleavage is like dangling a bone in front of a carnivore and expecting him not to attack.

It is my sincerest hope that, one day, I can send my red-cloaked daughters into the woods and the only thing I have to warn them against is dropping their baskets along the way.dress code [2].jpg

Maddie Sokoloski is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

College Sucks and Here’s Why (And Capitalism Isn’t Cool Either)


By Kaitlin Gertz 

In an age where colleges consider factors such as gender, class, race, and sexuality for admission, college isn’t discriminatory on the surface. In fact, it seems like it’s gotten more open-minded as your grade point average isn’t the only thing being weighed next to your entrance essay. So then why do the poorest cities see the highest high school dropout rates, and as a result, lower college admissions? Why do women make up the majority of college students, yet earn less once graduated? If it’s truly unbiased, then why is the percentage of students of color enrolled rising only infinitesimally in private colleges after the ruling of Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke? In this age, college can be discriminatory, even while taking strides to be more diverse.

Though many colleges have starting using holistic reviews for admissions, it still remains a numbers game, no matter how great your admissions essay is. Entrance usually s
tarts with a base SAT score, number of community service hours, GPA, and, of course, how much you can pay. The average year at a public university in-state will costStudent-Loan-cartoon-2bdrn8a a student around $9,410. The average year at a private university is more than triple that, costing around $32,405. Sure, that may sound like a lot, but if you get a job and maybe take out a small loan, you’ll end up in the clear. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case. Minimum wage jobs are the most prevalent type of jobs amongst students, but they don’t provide necessary funds. Going off of federal minimum wage requirements (keep in mind, this can vary state to state), it would take someone working 25 hours a week to completely pay off in-state tuition. Not too strenuous, until you get to how many hours you would have to work a week to pay off private university: 85. That’s twice the amount of hours of working full time, and is impossible for the average worker, let alone someone who is in college. No wonder so many people end up taking out student loans, and no wonder that in 2012, students nationwide ended up borrowing over 110 billion dollars.

It holds no candle to national debt, but certainly outweighs the student debt forty years ago. In 1970, student loan borrowing only amounted to a paltry 7.6 billion, and a lot of that has to do with minimum wage and the cost of college. For example, the minimum wage was $1.60, and with inflation rates, it would be $9.80 today; already higher than the current federal minimum wage. (But wait! There’s more!) In 1970, a year’s tuition at a public university cost $1,207, which meant it could be completely paid off by working 15 hours a week. So, while minimum wage has slowly and inconsistently been raised, the price of college has skyrocketed, making it almost impossible to afford without taking out loans.

That being said, college has become more and more necessary for obtaining better jobs, and with it, better pay. With just a bachelor’s degree, a person could earn $23,291 more than the average high school graduate. In addition to college, there has also been a lot of focus on unpaid internships to become qualified for jobs. Companies hire college students who are willing to work for little to nothing in order for the students to attain credit and work experience. After all, the more experience you have in a field, the more likely you are to get hired in it. It’s also a way for companies to take advantage of this need and use students for free labor. While unfair, many students see it as a necessity to achieve the career they want. It’s a vicious cycle.


Let’s say you’re born in a well-off family. It’s never an issue of if you will go to college, but where you will go to college. You study hard and get in, but without a scholarship. That’s not an issue. Your parents will gladly make up for the deficit and which means you can avoid taking out student loans or working minimum wage jobs. In the summer, you decide on an internship that will look good on your future resume and find out that it doesn’t pay. Again, to save you the trouble of an internship and a job at the same time, your parents either invite you back home or put up money for you to rent an apartment and buy necessities. After years of this you graduate, and thanks to your internships and your degree, you land a well-paying job. Now your kids will be born into a well-off family, and the cycle continues.

But what if you’re born into a lower-income family? Maybe you’ll go to college if you can. You might earn a small scholarship. Even in high school, you might already be working a minimum wage job to earn money for yourself or your family. Then, you study hard and get into college. Your parents can’t pay for tuition, so you take out student loans. You decide that once you graduate college and land a good job because of your degree you’ll pay off that debt. However, you’re not able to afford an unpaid internship. There’s no way to earn those extra points while also working at a paying job. So after graduation, you’re left with your loans, your degree, and your inexperience. You get a job that isn’t bad, but isn’t the best. It’s going to take you longer to pay off the student loans than you thought, and the interest keeps accumulating. You might not be poor, but you’re certainly not rich. This means your kids will go through the cycle you went through if they choose to go to college, all because you don’t have enough money.

Not having enough money is a big problem, and surprisingly, so is race. Cities like Detroit, Baltimore, and New York City are notorious for their large high school dropout rates, as well as a large population of minorities. While not indicative of a college’s racial bias, it shows that many people of color don’t even have the chance to go. Most universities don’t accept high school dropouts, after all.
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(Detroit Dropout Rate: 78%; Baltimore: 62%; New York City: 59%; U.S.: 19%)


The trend of race relating to a high dropout rate doesn’t signify that a particular minority isn’t intelligent, but rather reflects inner-city life. In fact, the trend seems to stop with New York City, where there are more white dropouts than black. When compared to the United States’ population overall, however, it shows a stark contrast between those cities and the U.S.

Is it simply that college is more biased towards those with more money and discriminatory towards minorities and the lower class? Perhaps not, and as we as a nation bring more attention to inequality as a whole, universities are more likely to change criteria even more. Who knows? One day, they might even make it free (I’m looking at you, Bernie).

Kaitlin Gertz is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram