Jonathan Zimmerman

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For high school seniors, April is a time of excitement and nervousness. Not only is graduation getting closer, it is also when many find out if they’ve been accepted into the college or university of their choice. Many students study hard to score high on the SATs and participate in after school activities hoping it will give them an advantage over other applicants.

This edition of That’s History examines some of the factors involved in the college admissions process throughout history and how it has evolved into its current state.


The issue of birth control and family planning did not begin with the creation of “the pill.”  Contraception was discussed and practiced in different forms for hundreds of years. Fearing that these methods would lead to more promiscuity and possibly more unwed mothers, many states created anti-contraception laws which lasted until the 1960s. 


Rarely in politics are there issues on which both parties agree with each other. One issue this commonly happens with is gambling. In the 1960s the first modern state lottery was created in New Hampshire, signed by a Democratic governor and passed by a Republican-led congress. Currently all but seven states have some form of lottery or casino gambling.


Cell phones have become an integral part of our daily lives. While they do offer convenience, they can be detrimental and dangerous;  specifically when used while driving. Cell phone distractions have been linked to more than 2,600 deaths per year. Studies have shown that “distracted driving” is equivalent to driving while intoxicated. Many states have passed legislation limiting or prohibiting cell phone usage while driving, including Pennsylvania. 


Health care and nursing in schools began in New York with Lillian Wald in 1902, when she introduced the idea of treating sick children at school rather than sending them home. Within a year, the number of students sent home decreased by 90 percent. Other cities followed the example and the advent of school nursing had begun.


Elements of religion have been a part of organized sports for more than 100 years. While watching a sporting event it’s common to see a player point to the sky, thanking God for allowing them to score a touchdown or to hit a game winning home run. Some athletes bring their faith onto the field such as former Philadelphia Eagles player Reggie “the minister of defense” White and current Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Some athletes use their fame to promote their religious beliefs and generate controversy about whether it is appropriate to do so.


The death of Robert Champion, college student at Florida A&M University, has brought the issue of hazing and the dangers associated with it back into the mainstream. Hazing is a mostly male ritual whose proponents see as a rite of passage, sometimes with dire consequences. Since 1970, more than 100 deaths have been attributed to hazing. 


Beginning in the late 19th century, schools began teaching children the value of thrift. Teachers explained the process of how to save and demonstrated how those savings could grow with time.  School savings banks emerged that would collect and hold money for the students.  Many of these initiatives stopped after World War II.  


The Civil War is one of the most discussed topics in American history. The factors, reasons, motivations, and outcome have been talked about and debated from the dinner table to the classroom. It appears that the only definitive conclusion is that it is so multifaceted.