The end of the world is upon us, and you’ll only survive if you’re useful. But who gets to decide if what you can offer is important enough?
That’s the question facing 16-year-old Denise in the young adult novel On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. A comet is on track to hit Earth, causing devestation not seen since the dinosaurs were wiped off the planet. If you’re wealthy and connected, you’ve bought a spot on a “generation ship” set to colonize another planet. If you’re not – like Denise – you’ve been assigned to a temporary shelter and after a few days, you’ll be on your own.
As the impact nears, Denise and her mom stumble upon a different kind of ship, one that will take people with practical skills that will help the community survive. There are doctors, engineers, computer scientists, teachers. Denise is desperate to prove they deserve a spot. But she’s a teen with autism whose inability to read social cues or handle change often causes her problems. And her mom is struggling with drug addiction. Can they convince the ship’s community that they’re worth saving?
This science fiction thriller has some exciting action sequences, and could easily be turned into a gripping television series or movie. In fact, when it ended, I wanted a sequel so I could find out what happens next to all of the characters. The book also raises thought-provoking questions about identity and purpose. The author is autistic, so her depictions of the sensory issues and meltdowns that Denise endures are honest, accurate and valuable for those not familiar with the challenges. There are also several LGBTQ characters, including Denise’s trans sister and a lesbian couple on the ship. So in addition to being an action-packed story, it provides representation for some groups that are often sidelined or restricted to just “issue” books.
Too often, when people think of Africa, they think of it as one big place, not the dozens of individual and unique countries that make up the continent. Or maybe they come up with generic images: lions on the savannah, slave ships teeming with misery, or famine and civil war.
None of these is the full picture.
As Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said in a widely quoted TED talk, there is a danger to just one story. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete,” she said. “They make one story become the only story.”
I read a lot and consider myself pretty open-minded, but when a colleague recommended one of this author’s novels last summer, I realized that I knew very little about Africa – especially contemporary Africa. In the ensuing months, I read the book she suggested and two others that took me deep into the culture of Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. I learned that this one country alone has more stories than I ever imagined.
Some may wonder, why does it matter? Africa is so far away; it doesn’t really impact our daily lives. Of course, there’s the danger of a single story – when we know little about a country or people, we default to stereotypes, and stereotypes make it hard for us to empathize. Empathy not only makes us better people, it prepares us – in this interconnected world – for the eventual encounters we are likely to have.
Also, what is happening in Nigeria – the conflict between ethnic groups, city life versus village life, the clash of economic and social classes, climate change issues, and emigration in hopes of a better life – is taking place in a lot of countries. These issues are changing our world, and we need to know something about them.
Finally, reading about this faraway place reminds me that things such as love, family and growing up are universal. The rituals and circumstances experienced in each society may be different, but emotions and relationships are very relatable.
This review covers three books, starting with Americanah by Adichie, recommended by former HHS English teacher Mrs. Pavao. The story follows Ifemelu and Obinze, teens in love when they leave Nigeria for better opportunities. Ifemelu heads to America, where she struggles with what it means to be Black, African, and an immigrant in a country divided by race. Obinze, barred from the United States, ends up an undocumented immigrant in England. Their vastly different experiences impact their relationship and, ultimately, their ideas of identity and home. I loved how the book explored so many angles and issues, and I rooted for Ifemelu to find happiness.
Next I read The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, suggested by English teacher Mrs. Doyle. Adunni is a 14-year-old village girl who dreams of getting an education when her father promises her as the third wife of an old man. Faced with abuse in the arranged marriage, Adunni flees to the wealthy capital city. There, she finds work in the home of a cruel businesswoman and her preying husband. Adunni dreams of using her voice to improve her own situation and help other Nigerian girls. Through every heartache, she never gives up hope. I was right there with her hoping for a happy ending. Some readers may struggle with the dialect; Adunni’s English is very rough at the start of the story and improves as she grows older and more educated. But if you can stick with it, it’s worth it.
Finally, I returned to Adichie with Half of a Yellow Sun, which senior Elsa Little-Girl raved about. This is more historical, taking place before and during a civil war in the 1960s. Conflict between different ethnic groups leads to a massacre and war, which we experience through the lives of five unique characters: a servant boy from a small village, the university professor he works for, a young woman who prefers the intellectual life to that of her upper class parents, her bold twin sister, and a white Englishman visiting the country. I had my favorite characters, but I was fascinated by how their lives intertwined. It was a compelling way to tell the story of a society torn by civil war.
Sometimes there’s a gap between what we feel we should read and what we want to read. If you fear these books may seem “meaningful” but too much work, rest assured; they’re also really good stories.
Winter is one of the most special times of the year. Many people associate winter with the holidays, no school, and warm hot chocolate by the fireplace. When others think of winter, they picture fresh powder and the mountains opening up for skiing and snowboarding. Debates over which is the better sport have been going on for decades. Some prefer whichever sport they mastered first. Others are unwilling to try the other because they have gotten used to one.
In an informal survey of about 20 HHS students, I found that more than half felt skiing was the better sport, while just 15 percent prefered snowboarding. But nearly a quarter of people surveyed couldn’t decide because they love them both.
Fans say thatboth sports offer great views from mountaintops and lots of chances to make fun memories with family and friends. And when you get going fast enough, whether on skiis or a snowboard, you can feel like you’re flying. The techniques and style of skiing and snowboarding are very different, though, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Below are some of the pros and cons for each sport:
Less equipment so easier to transport and take on and off, boots more comfortable
Easy to control falls and get back up faster
Both feet are on the board, making it easier to steer
Turning is simple and only requires the toe and the heel
Similar to skateboarding, could be easier to learn for skaters
Easy to get the hang of even at an older age
Easy to do tricks, and it looks really cool on the slopes
More difficult to maintain balance
Hard to ride on a ski lift with snowboard on, and annoying to have to unstrap and restrap the board every time you get on or off
Can get stuck in powder or snow very easily
Difficult to learn to stay up; many elbow, knee and tailbone bruises will result
Easy to maneuver, steer and control speed downhill
Easier to ride on icy patches on skis than on a snowboard.
Easier to get on and off a ski lift with skiis on
Easier to balance
Ski poles are beneficial and really fun to use.
Takes a long time to learn, and harder to pick up at an older age
Bad habits can be produced easily and are very difficult to rid of
Difficult to get back up on two feet after a fall, especially if a ski falls off
Ski boots are stiff, leading to sore muscles in the legs and bruising
Gear and lift tickets can be pretty expensive
Easy to lose control and crash if going straight down the trail
Whether you prefer skiing, snowboarding or both, it is important to stay safe on the slopes, and to have fun while the snow is still on the mountains!
Raising $40,000 for charity in seven days? That’s the goal of several Hanover High School groups who have joined for an ambitious fundraiser this holiday season.
The National Honor Society, Student Council and Class of 2025 are collaborating on the Seven Days of ‘Students as Santa’ Challenge, which officially kicks off today. Each member of these groups is tasked with getting at least 10 donors to contribute $20. The proceeds will benefit organizations distributing toys to local families, the Visiting Nurses Association, and the Hanover Food Pantry. Donations can be made to a GoFundMe campaign or given to students directly.
On the GoFundMe, donors are requested to select the school “team” they are supporting by choosing the student representative: McKenzie Bottomley for NHS, Caris Mann for Student Council and Catherine Reinhart for Class of 2025. While the event officially started today, the link went live yesterday and raised $1,000 in less than a day!
The fundraiser came together when student leaders realized the three different groups wanted to hold similar toy drives, said Mrs. Coates, who advises NHS along with Mrs. Collins. They believed, she added, that “we could make a bigger – huge, in fact – impact on local South Shore charities if we worked together.”
While the fundraising goal is ambitious, student leaders believe it’s within reach. “It’s a large number, but we did the math and with the number of people in these groups, it seems possible,” said McKenzie Bottomley, vice president of NHS. “It’s very exciting to think we’re going to have such a big impact on the community.”
The second installment of the STEM Speaker Series, launched this fall by HHS senior Isma Saleem, focused on careers in technology and computer science. The “in-school field trip,” which took place Nov. 19, featured Matt Mastrangelo, Brian Converse and Jim Calabro.
All students at HHS should be familiar with the Aspen X2 Portal used for posting grades, attendance, and other important academic information. Matt Mastrangelo is a founder and creator of Aspen, used by countless schools around the country. Previously, he studied computer science at Northeastern University and started off as an education technology consultant. In addition to creating Aspen X2, Mr. Mastrangelo is a cofounder of Halix.io, a technology platform that helps businesses build websites, process payments and more.
Brian Converse is a software developer who creates technology to assist Hanover Schools students, parents and staff in a variety of tasks. When parents sign up for teacher conferences, for example, they’re using a program built by Mr. Converse. He earned an applied mathematics degree from SUNY Polytech Institute.
The final speaker was senior software engineer Jim Calabro. He works in the booming field of computer science at Cogo Labs in Braintree. He got his degree in computer science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was a part of the marching band there.
Isma began working with administration last year to bring in these monthly speakers, who she hopes will “give students the opportunity to find their passion.” While it can be difficult to find speakers at times, she said, she is glad that students can be introduced to unique professionals within multiple industries. In September, students heard from health care professionals. Next up, likely in January, will be careers geared toward helping people recover from injuries or illness, such as a pharmacist, nutritionist, physical therapist and sports medicine specialist.
It’s often said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And as members of the Hanover High School band felt the crisp air of a recent Friday night while standing silently in formidable formation on the field, those words rang true. There’s magic in band, and what makes it truly magical is how the HHS band has pulled through the challenge that has been COVID-19. With pride, we stand. With strength, we return.
“Please welcome back to the field, the Pride of Hanover!”
With Thanksgiving break wrapping up Autumn 2021, the marching band will finish its season with one final performance at the Hanover-Norwell football game on Thanksgiving Day. But before the band leaves in the early morning to perform that day, members will likely reflect on the hours and hours of sacrifice and strife that have led to the day’s opening notes. It all started back in March 2020, which may be scary to realize was around a year and some change ago: the era of no band.
Well, no tangible band. Band continued through remote school in spring 2020 as most of my classes did, with students turning in assignments and becoming dangerously independent. While it wasn’t the best, it was something that should be respected given the quick thinking. Our assignments from Mr. Harden focused on practicing sight-reading or even fun games like plotting a field show. However, we weren’t together, it wasn’t the same. So by the end of that year, my first of high school, I was able to see what band was like, but not get the full experience.
Coming into sophomore year, things were different, and that became clear very quickly. No band camp, and just half of the band together during outdoor classes, was a lukewarm welcome into the year, but something we took with a smile. When it got colder, our cohort moved inside to the auditorium, where there was just enough room for us with ten feet spacing. While we were spread out, we played together but we were distant. We recorded separate parts to come to a whole, played over video for virtual audiences, but we were never whole in the first place. Band 2021 was a more normal year, we had our groups, but still were stranded.
Until the calendar announced the start of the current school year, that is. This year has brought so many good opportunities. This year we were able to practice during band camp, and it was perfect. We were able to play in the band room again, together. It took what felt like ages, but we were able to perform for a crowd again with the return of Friday night football, a trip to Band Day at UMass Amherst in October, and a cabaret showcase in the HHS caf.
Our field show this year has a theme of love to it, and also a message to love life before it flies by. I believe that our show illustrates through music how we as a society can finally come together again.
That also shows through our formations for the opening song Can’t Help Falling in Love. At the start, everyone is scattered, much like the beginning of COVID life. Then as we play, we march into sections of our instruments, similar to how we were last year, together but not whole. We found a group, but not a united family. Then moments later, the small groups unite and march together with pride. Not only is it cool and a powerful moment of the show, it also has its symbolism. Now that we march together, we do so striding forward with strength. We as a band made it through a long period of confusion, and now as we prepare for the Thanksgiving game, there is a lesson I have learned: Pride is a feeling, and it’s a magic.
To view a recording of the Cabaret showcase from October 21, which features the HHS band and a variety of student talent, click here.
Brynn and Mia are 13-years-old when they’re accused of killing their best friend, Summer. The brutal ritualized murder was inspired by a fantasy story the trio was obsessed with, according to police. When lack of evidence and shoddy police work allow the girls to go free, they are outcasts in their town, considered by neighbors to be evil incarnate.
Except, they claim, they didn’t do it. And five years later, they’re determined to clear their names and find the real killer.
This is the plot of Broken Things by Lauren Oliver, a mystery/thriller that will keep you glued to the page. As the story alternates between then and now, you learn more about the victim Summer, whose years bouncing around foster homes left her troubled and turbulent. You get to know Mia and Brynn and why they were drawn to the exciting, but often toxic, friendship. You dive into the fantasy story the girls tried to recreate, both in their afterschool adventures and fan fiction they wrote together. You meet ex-boyfriends, bus drivers and other characters and wonder what role they played – if not in the murder then in the drama surrounding Summer’s final months.
The book leaves you guessing until the heartbreaking reveal. It is then that you realize that the book is not just a mystery, but a tragedy.
Not just one murder, but thirteen are at the heart of The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur. Hwani and Maewol are children when they get lost in the woods and are found, unconscious, next to the body of a dead young woman. The girls are impacted in vastly different ways and the family is torn apart. Years later, after 13 other girls are missing and presumed dead, Hwani’s detective father tries to investigate. Instead, he disappears as well. Defying the norms of a culture that require young ladies to stay hidden at home while they await marriage (it’s Korea, in the 1400s), Hwani sets out to find her father and solve the mystery of the missing girls.
While I enjoy historical fiction, I normally read books set in more recent history. I’m not usually drawn to stories of maidens and emperors. Yet the conflict at this book is timeless – girls fighting the expectations of an oppressive society – and the mystery is engaging. Whenever I thought I figured out the story, a new twist would arise.
For more mysteries, check out the Genre Lists at hhsmchugh.weebly.com
The HHS Drama Department is excited to announce that this year’s main stage musical will be Spamalot, The Musical! Spamalot is a comedic show based on the 1975 movie Monty Python and The Holy Grail, which was adapted for Broadway in 2005. This show twists the legend of Camelot and King Arthur’s journey to find the Holy Grail, a mythical cup said to grant eternal life. Arthur looks for knights who can join him on his quest, and along the way, finds groups of hysterical characters. HHS drama and music teachers – Mr. Fahey, Mr. Wade, and Mr. Harden – are looking for talented vocalists, actors, dancers, and crew members to help make this show a success!
“We chose to do Spamalot this year for a few different reasons,” Mr. Fahey said. “Spamalot has a decent size cast with flexible casting opportunities, great opportunities for technical elements, and many hilarious characters which the audience may, or may not be, familiar with. We love Monty Python and we’re very excited to bring this wacky, fun show to life this year! “
Auditions for Spamalot, The Musical will be held November 16 from 3:30-6 pm in the HHS auditorium. Callbacks will be November 17, 3:30-6 pm. Rehearsals will be Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6-8 pm and will increase as the performance date nears. Mr. Fahey expects the show will be staged in February.
For any questions or for more information, please reach out to Mr. Faherty, Mr. Wade, or Mr. Harden.
The 2021 Spirit Week has come and gone with great success! Thanks to the hard work of the Student Council, students were able to enjoy a great series of events Oct. 18-22, leading up to the traditional Friday night Homecoming football game!
Spirit Week started off strong with America Monday. Freshmen to seniors could be found decked out in their red, white and blue. It was a great indicator of the participation that would come throughout the week!
This year’s Tuesday theme was Hawaiian Day, and students certainly did not disappoint! Despite the cold weather, it was a tropical climate inside the school with Hawaiin shirts and leis.
On Wednesday, HHS took a trip out west with our Western Wednesday! Hanover saw many cowboy hats, boots, lassos and sheriffs arrive, transforming students into cowboys! A new theme for this year, Western Wednesday had some of the highest numbers of participants for the week.
Stay gold HHS! Thursday’s theme was Outsiders’ Day where students could dress up as either a Greaser or a Soc from S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Everywhere you looked, students were dressed in leather and jean jackets, bandanas, and even some letterman jackets for Soc representation. This was another new theme that the Student Council tried out this year with the belief that it connected everybody since it was required reading for all students at Hanover Middle School.
Blue, black, white, and yellow were the only colors seen in school on Friday for the traditional Class Color Day. After a vote taken among teachers, the senior class was awarded the prize for most school spirit and best class representation.
Continuing with Homecoming Week tradition, HHS had its annual pod decorating contest on Friday. Each class decorated a hallway of the school in the theme selected by their class representatives. The freshmen went with a baseball theme as “Fenway Freshmen.” decorating with bases, baseballs and their very own Green Monster! The sophomore class delighted as “Spaced-Out Sophomores” with astronauts and aliens covering the hallway. They even added the special touch of writing the names of the members of the Class of 2024 on golden stars. The juniors took us to the tropics with their Jungle Juniors theme. Monkeys and parrots could be found hanging from the ceiling with an abundance of green leaves covering the hallway. Finally the senior class stayed in true October fashion and decorated the senior pod as “Spooky Seniors.” The hallway was filled with Halloween decorations and was reminiscent of a haunted house. While all classes certainly did a great job, the Seniors ultimately took the win for this year’s pod decoration contest.
The Spirit Week Pep Rally, cancelled in 2020 because of COVID, made its triumphant return on Friday. This year, the rally was held outside on the turf as opposed to being in the gym. It was a fun alternative and a lot of students were fans of the change. Before the rally, the senior class gathered in the courtyard and listened to Taylor Swift’s Lovestory before running onto the turf. After the senior class made its debut, the Student Council E-board announced that the seniors had swept the Pod Decorating Contest and Most School Spirit prizes, as well as the award for the loudest cheer during the rally. Then the games began with the rock-paper-scissors hula hoop game where the underclassmen beat the upperclassmen. Next up was a new game, Dizzy Bat Penalty Kicks, where students had to spin around ten times in a circle and try to kick a soccer ball into a net guarded by varsity soccer goalies Mia Pongratz and Garrett Arnold. It was hilarious to watch when people would either fall or miss the goal entirely. The next game was dodgeball with the senior and sophomore classes vs the junior and freshmen classes. The seniors and sophomores took home the win. The final game was students vs teachers tug of war with the students ultimately winning in the end. The pep rally was a lot of fun this year with new games and excited participants.
The excitement of Spirit Week carried over into Friday’s Homecoming game against Pembroke. Band, cheerleading and football seniors were recognized for their sustained dedication over the last four years. Students continued to show their school spirit and came to the game dressed in all white. At halftime, seniors Danielle Tilden and Nick Plahn were crowned Homecoming King and Queen. The football team beat Pembroke 42 to 15 and the team celebrated with the singing of “Hey Baby.” It was an excellent game and a great end to Homecoming Week!
It had been over a year since HHS saw a Spirit Week and a Pep Rally. Overall, the week was a success with lots of participation to celebrate school spirit. Until next year!
Photos from Homecoming game and dance by Mr. Ryerson