Category Archives: Opinion

‘What Are We Doing?’

By Teddy McCrann, ’23

Staff Writer

As a rising senior at Hanover High School, the earliest memory I have of a domestic terrorist attack in the form of a school shooting is Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. That day in Connecticut, 28 people were killed at the hands of a 20-year-old shooter, the majority of them aged six or seven years old. I was 7 years old at that time, and I am now 17. In those 10 years, there have been countless school shootings in America — too many — to the extent that they have become a regular occurrence. This is a significant issue in our country. To become desensitized to these attacks against children is something that I didn’t think could happen, but welcome to America. I am not here to bash our nation because I love living here and enjoy the freedoms we are granted; however, there needs to be a change. 

On May 24, there was another school shooting , this time at Uvalde Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 18-year-old Salvador Ramos horrifically killed 19 children and two adults. This is just unfathomable, and I cannot believe that someone was capable of committing such a heinous act against defenseless kids who were just going to school on a normal Tuesday. People across the country are pushing the government to institute change and prevent this from ever happening again, even though barely anything effective has been done to restrict gun laws in the past decade. The ability to purchase a firearm, especially if it is of the semi- or full-automatic class, at the age of 18 is ridiculous. The 18-year-old brain has not finished developing; if 18-year-olds in America cannot purchase alcohol due to their brains being underdeveloped, then how can they purchase deadly weapons? Considering that the majority of the recent shootings have been committed by assailants in their late teens and early 20s, it makes sense that guns should be more restricted by age to allow further development and maturing, among other reasons. 

It is barely comprehensible that this school shooting comes just a week after the Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket attack, where an 18-year-old gunman targeted a Black community and killed 10 innocent people out of racial hate and prejudice. What is happening? The combination of these two events within such a short time proves that our society needs to make a change and actually do something about the unwarranted violence that we have experienced. The gravity of the chosen targets in these shootings is impactful; the Buffalo shooting occurred out of hate for Black Americans and extreme racism, and in Uvalde, young children were killed. This cannot keep happening in a nation that preaches “equality” and the promotion of peace, and it makes me afraid for our future.

Three of the most devastating shootings that I remember are Sandy Hook, Parkland in 2017, and now Uvalde. The fact that I can recall these events and see that nothing has been done between any of them to prevent more shootings is not something I am willing to accept. Parents of young kids in America are scared, as they think that their child’s school is next in this chain of attacks and deaths. Not only are parents scared, but students are too. What school is next? Do lockdown drills really help to ease the ominous cloud of a potential shooting? Or do they accentuate the bizarre reality we have accepted as a nation? Personally, lockdown drills have become routine and normal, which speaks volumes about the state of our nation. School is a place to learn and socialize, not somewhere to be afraid for our lives.

Speaking to fellow lawmakers the day after Uvalde, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy voiced frustration at witnessing another massacre like Sandy Hook. “What are we doing?” he implored of his colleagues. In recent years, the nation has done nothing to prevent school shootings, and this needs to stop, whether it be by enacting new gun laws or altering the process by which one obtains a firearm. I am not here to politicize the Uvalde shooting, but if something is not done about our outdated gun laws, then the future of our nation is in danger, as it has been for the past 10 years of my life.

Featured image: https://abcnews.go.com/US/student-survived-texas-school-shooting-recalls-gunman-youre/story?id=85010075

Graduating Senior Offers Tips for College Application Season

By Natalie Mowbray, ’22

Staff Writer

Although the fall of a new school year typically brings excitement and new beginnings, it can also be a time of great stress for seniors. As many of you know, this time of year sparks the beginning of the college application season. Between narrowing down lists, filling out applications and working on essays, it can seem overwhelming. As I just finished this process myself, I’m sharing some advice on how next year’s seniors can make this time of year less worrisome and more enjoyable.

For the majority of high school students, summer vacation is seen as the time of year with the least amount of responsibilities and stressors. But if you’re heading into senior year, take advantage of the opportunity that summer offers! As fall approaches, many seniors face the most rigorous course load of their entire high school career. To avoid an overlap between applications and school work, summer is a great time to get started on your application to-do list.

  • Begin writing your college essay over the summer. During the fall of senior year, you will spend your English classes editing and finalizing your essay. For the best results, come into senior year English with a pretty solid draft. You can get topic ideas and sample prompts from the Common App and writing tips from online sources such as Khan Academy.
  • The Common App opens on August 1st. Used by more than 900 colleges, the common app is a must for most students. Creating an account is straightforward and the majority of the information can be completed prior to senior year. This way, it will be faster to apply to all of your colleges. Your guidance counselor will hold senior workshops to help you complete the common application, so don’t forget to check your email!
  • Finalize your college list. To make the application season smoother, finalize which colleges you’re interested in attending. Don’t forget to include a range of schools, from those where you’re likely guaranteed admission to those that may be a reach. Although there is nothing wrong with including schools that might be out of your range, it is important to include schools that you should be admitted to and would attend. To sense which schools fall into these categories, the admission scatterplot on the platforms Naviance or Scoir will help. This data is limited to only HHS applicants which gives better and more personalized information.
  • Secure at least two letters of recommendation. One should preferably be from a STEM teacher and the other teacher should be a humanities teacher. Additionally, try to find a teacher that taught you during your junior year of high school. Although it is best to ask in person before the end of junior year, it is also acceptable to ask over the summer. Just ensure that the teacher knows your first college deadline – often. November 1st for many early applicants – so that you can apply on time.
  • Keep your grades up! It is a common misnomer that senior year grades are not important. However, poor senior grades or grades that have declined from your usual performance can negatively impact your chance at admission. Sometimes, you can be deferred from or are a borderline candidate for some colleges. Having exceptional grades during terms 1 and 2 can give you the boost needed to be accepted.

Although this portion of high school can be especially stressful, try not to be discouraged or overwhelmed. The guidance department is always available if you have questions or need help with applications. Speaking for myself, I went to guidance on numerous occasions to help me narrow down my list and write my college essays. Just remember you are not alone in this stressful task. Senior year is often cited as people’s favorite time at HHS, so don’t forget to cherish the last memories of high school while focusing on what will come next!

Featured image: https://www.collegetransitions.com/blog/college-application-season-is-here

The Gray Area of Sportsmanship: Winning at What Cost?

By Teddy McCrann, ’23

Staff Writer

In recent years, the reputation of youth sports as a fun and enjoyable experience for kids has been tarnished by overly aggressive coaches and a focus on winning at all costs. These types of coaches value performance over development and, either directly or indirectly, have influenced their players to demonstrate poor sportsmanship. An example of this type of behavior was seen in a Connecticut high school girls basketball game this past January, where Sacred Heart Academy, under coach Jason Kirck, beat their opponent by a whopping 88 points in a 92-4 win. As a result of this game, Kirck was given a one-game suspension for demonstrating poor sportsmanship and “disrespecting” the opponent, Lyman Hall High School. In my opinion, Kirck fully deserved the suspension after emphasizing the negatives of youth sports.

Many can argue that Lyman Hall High School’s team was simply not evenly matched with Sacred Heart and deserved to lose, similar to many professional sports teams that fail to perform and lose by significant margins. Although this mindset is relevant to the situation, the fact that this is youth sports and not professional provides a different outlook on the suspension of Kirck. No high school basketball score should have a point differential of 88 points, as this type of result can be avoided even if the teams are unevenly matched through a program the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference calls “Class Act.” This voluntary program educates coaches on how to manage high school games and scores in a manner that is respectful to the other team. According to Newsweek, Sacred Heart is not involved in this program. This is the first sign that supports the suspension of Kirck, as he and his program have made no effort to uphold sportsmanlike ideals and behaviors during games. 

Additionally, it was reported that Kirck and his team were still running fast breaks in the fourth quarter on long outlet passes. Fast breaks are when a basketball team “pushes” the ball up the court and increases the tempo of the game, ultimately looking to score more. At this point toward the end of the game, Sacred Heart had to have been winning by 60 or more points, which is ridiculously out of reach for the other team. Kirck had no regard for slowing the game down and respecting Lyman Hall.

While society has become more coddled in recent years, and more people are cautious of not treating younger kids and teenagers too harshly, it is still important to allow kids to have fun while playing sports and especially important to teach beneficial life lessons in the process. Allowing your players to “disrespect” and beat down another team on the court or field is not teaching these important life lessons, and will actually inspire a whole new generation of coaches who take their jobs way too seriously. By now, Coach Kirck has served his suspension and hopefully learned from his mistake, but the debate over whether certain youth coaches take it too far will be prevalent for many years to come. 

Source: https://www.newsweek.com/high-school-basketball-coach-serves-1-game-suspension-after-team-routs-opponent-92-4-1666978

Tragedy at Astroworld

By Teddy McCrann, ’23

Staff Writer

At least 10 innocent people dead and hundreds injured: the result of chaos in Houston on Friday, November 5th at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival. The horrific sights and first-hand accounts of what went on that night are unparalleled to anything we have seen in the music industry in years, as the “surge” of the crowd left people suffocating, trampled, and in pure agony. The dead ranged in age from 9 to 27, with the youngest casualty, Ezra Blount, placed in a medically induced coma because of injuries his family believes occurred when he was trampled.  

Although Scott and his associates have offered apologies and financial support for what happened at the festival, questions still linger over whether these deaths and substantial injuries could have been prevented.

Since that nightmarish night, the public has struggled with who is truly to blame. Was it Travis Scott’s fault for failing to see his fans scream for help and continuing to perform and induce further surges? Was it the security’s fault for failing to realize what was going on just feet away from them in the crowd? Or was it the spectators’ fault for succumbing to the grasps of Scott’s “rager” influence and injuring their fellow concertgoers? I believe the blame should be attributed to Scott and the fact that he was oblivious to what was happening at his own concert. Even though at some points Scott had stopped the show due to ambulance lights and people being carried off on stretchers, he still continued to perform and wanted the crowd to make the “ground shake.” This behavior is unacceptable. Scott should have completely stopped his show in order to address the crowd, allow the injured to recieve help as quickly as possible, and prevent any casualties. 

What happened at Astroworld has some precedence. In 1979, 11 people were trampled to death at a Cincinnati concert by the Who. In 2000, nine people died at a Pearl Jam concert in Denmark. These concerts all offered “festival seating,” a practice where seats are either not reserved or are removed entirely so the crowd ends up standing shoulder-to-shoulder. To address the chaos and casualties that can occur with such seating, concert venues since then have often divided the main floor into grids; crowd size is limited in each section and security has better access when there are issues. The number of security personnel has also been increased at many shows. These measures were either not in place or not adequately enforced for Travis Scott, whose shows are known for being so high-energy they border on chaotic.

Since the tragedy of November 5th, many performers and artists have come out before their concerts to reassure the crowd that nothing close to what happened that night will be repeated. These artists care about their fans and want to prevent deaths or injuries at their shows, which indicates a promising future in concert safety.

The calamity at Astroworld will never be forgotten. While the debate over who truly is to blame may rage on, Travis Scott has felt repercussions including being removed from this year’s Coachella music festival lineup. This is a step forward in responding to his inhumane and negligent actions, and may help ensure other artists work to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Featured image: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Travis-Scott-Astroworld-victim-Danish-Baig-fiancee-16636224.php

grateful for Final(s) break

By Grace Van Duyn, ’22

Staff Writer

As HHS students entered the final stretch of the school year, one of the main topics of conversation was the issue of finals. With so many students and teachers being in and out of school due to quarantine or switching between remote and in-person learning, would the usual end-of-year exams take place? In the past, students would take two exams each morning and get dismissed after, so the last week of school would be half days. Many students liked this plan, especially since they wouldn’t have to come in for some days. Others were stressed by having to take a series of big tests to finish the year.

Recently, the administration decided to eliminate traditional final exams this year. Instead, students will follow a full-day class schedule through June 17th and have a half-day on June 18th. That being said, teachers still have the option to give their students some sort of final exam in class if they choose to do so. 

This challenging year was experienced differently by everyone in HHS, and no matter how you were impacted, it was something none of us have seen before. Many students applauded the decision to cancel finals.

“I am glad we are not having finals because I have never liked finals,” said junior Morgan Taylor. “I am so happy to finish this year on a happy and more relaxed note than usual.”

“We all deserve a break after this year,” agreed Ian Sullivan, a senior.

“It’s less stress defininitely,” added sophomore Connor Mansfield.

Sophomore Maeve Sullivan is taking an AP class with a late exam this year, so she’s glad she doesn’t have to worry about exams for her other classes. “I feel like I would be too stressed if I had to study for the AP test and take finals too.”

Freshman Ashley Stracco spent the first half of the year fully remote and had a big adjustment  when she returned to in-person classes. She also was grateful that finals were cancelled.

“When I came back it was like I had transferred schools for some of my classes,” she said. “If we had finals, I was going to have to learn the entire school year for all of my classes in a month. That would have been awful.”

McKenzie Bottomley, a junior, had been looking forward to a week of half days to end the school year. Since she had taken several AP classes, she wasn’t going to have many finals.

“I am happy that we don’t have finals this year. But, I am kind of bummed that we don’t get the finals schedule and have classes until the official last day,” she said.

Personally, I agree with the decision to cancel finals since students had such unpredictable and uneven learning experiences this year. I am happy that we can all get a more relaxing end to this year than we experienced at the beginning. I think that even though we won’t be studying for finals this year, there is no doubt that we have all learned so much about ourselves, our classmates, our teachers, our school, and our community this year.  

Featured image: https://explorehealthcareers.org/which-health-care-education-tests-do-you-need-to-take/

My experience with remote school

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

In this unexpected year, sometimes it feels like everything has changed, even the one thing I thought would never change – school. Instead of going back in person for the 2020-2021 school year, my classes were completely online. It was a big adjustment at first, but Virtual Academy has turned out to be a great experience for me. There have been ups and downs, but it all worked out in the end. 

About 60 students were part of Virtual Academy at the high school this year. Some, like me, started from day one, while others went remote or returned to in-person learning at different points in the year. The fully remote program used two online platforms: VHS Learning and Edgenuity. With VHS Learning, you have a teacher and classmates somewhere in the world who you work with in discussions and projects, but everything is asynchronous. You get a schedule of assignments each week and can work anytime you want as long as you meet your deadlines. Edgenuity classes are more individual and self-paced. Lessons are delivered through videos and reinforced through assignments and assessments, some graded by the system and some graded by Virtual Academy teachers. The system estimates the time needed to complete assignments, but if you fall behind one week, you can make it up the next.

Taking some classes on each platform worked really well for me. At the beginning of the year, making sure that all the assignments got done was a little difficult. But as the year went on, I got into my swing and figured out the perfect schedule for me. Each day, I made sure to do all of my classes for at least 50 minutes, with scheduled breaks throughout the day. Balancing screen time with the work I needed to get done was a struggle. I did not prefer one platform over the other, since they were both very different. With Edgenuity, I liked that I could work at my own pace, but I liked that VHS had a teacher and deadlines that kept me on track.  

One challenge for Virtual Academy students was taking AP tests. Since VHS Learning classes started a week later than usual, lining up with our mid-September return to school, the classes ran into AP testing weeks. Luckily for AP students, many assignments were exempted, so there was more time to study. AP students taking Edgenuity classes could take advantage of the flexibility that system provided; if they needed time to study, they took some time “off” from their course and made it up later.

While VHS Learning had a more rigid schedule than Edgenuity, its classes ended much earlier. Our last day for VHS classes was May 19th, giving those students a head start on a well-deserved long summer break. Edgenuity classes will run right through June 17. 

Next year, I’m excited to go back into school, and see everyone again. I have enjoyed my time in Virtual Academy, but going back to school in person will be exciting! I will miss not having as much flexibility in my schedule, and it will be a challenge going into high school for the first time as a sophomore. For me, Virtual Academy was a great decision giving me a great freshman year, but I am hopeful for an even better sophomore year!

The Comfort of the 2000s Teen Drama

By Callia Gilligan, ’22

Staff Writer

Anyone who knows me is well aware that my most recent television endeavor was watching the six seasons of Dawson’s Creek in all its teen drama glory. And I would not shut up about it.

Dawson’s Creek is all about – you guessed it – Dawson Leery and his friends from his tiny hometown of Capeside, Massachusetts. There’s Pacey, the sarcastic and self-proclaimed loser, Jen, the derelict daughter who was shipped off to Capeside from New York City; and Josephine, who everyone calls Joey,  whose dad is a convict and whose mom has passed away. Joey is also Dawson’s childhood best friend. The show follows them as they navigate their trivial teen problems and spend the majority of each episode talking about all the ways they’ll solve them. 

Dawson’s Creek is not the best show that I have ever seen. It isn’t even really a good show. It focuses too much on an obscure idea of soulmates when the characters are 15 years old, rather than real teen issues or the actually interesting friendships the writers have established between the teens. The characters were far too self-aware to the point where none of them were realistic. Additionally, they talked so pretentiously that asking the audience to believe that they were teenagers, let alone real people, was almost too much. 

And I noted this, several times throughout my binge-watch. But, I just couldn’t stop watching. 

In a world that is so unfamiliar right now, many of us have been using TV as a method of escape. For me, those television shows have been almost exclusively from the early 2000s. 

During quarantine, I re-watched Gilmore Girls. And then I cycled through it a total of four times. When everything was uncertain, revisiting the wacky characters of Stars Hollow as they help young mom Lorelai raise her daughter Rory was far more comforting than anything going on in the news. 

But Gilmore Girls has its own issues. By the time you reach the seventh season, Rory is unrecognizable from the sweet, book-loving, 16-year-old that we met at the beginning. Emily and Richard, Lorelai’s parents, are as stuck up as they were in season one, Lorelai has become selfish, and the townspeople’s stalker tendencies are no longer endearing. That leaves Paris, of all people – comically selfish and abrasive – as the only redeemable character. 

Yet Gilmore Girls is addicting, the same way that Dawson’s Creek was. The simplicity and “nothing really happens” style of the show is what I craved. 

Shows like One Tree Hill, The OC, 90210 and of course, Gilmore Girls and Dawson’s Creek, are some of the most famous teen dramas, and they did really well when they initially aired, continuing for six or more seasons And they do especially well on streaming services nowadays.

There could be many reasons why this is the case. Some viewers might be revisiting them out of nostalgia for the late 90s and early 2000s. But I was born in 2004, there is no nostalgia there. 

For me, what is so enjoyable about a good 2000s teen drama is its simplicity. The stakes are arguably very low in these shows but there’s enough drama to keep it interesting and engaging. One of my favorite Dawson’s Creek episodes is in season two. Dawson reads Joey’s diary and finds out that she didn’t like being a part of a movie that he was making. And then they get into an argument about how Joey wasn’t honest and Dawson invaded her privacy. That’s it. That’s the whole episode. 

In my opinion, 2000s teen dramas are the ultimate escape. If the news is too stressful or I have a lot on my plate at school, spending forty minutes watching nothing monumental really happen on the television immediately puts me in a better headspace. It’s a source of reliability when everything else isn’t. 

So, no matter how bad Gilmore Girls got towards the end, it will never not be my comfort show. 

Featured image: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/10/why-i-love-dawsons-creek-tv-bim-adewunmi

Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

By Mrs. McHugh

My house has been compared to a zoo for all the animals we’ve brought into our lives. Stop by these days and you’ll be greeted by two dogs, two cats, and an axolotl (Google it, it’s cool!). At different points in her life, my daughter has asked for a Flemish giant rabbit – which she got – and a pony, a miniature donkey and a therapy duck – which she did not get. Needless to say, we’re a family that loves animals. But one of the biggest challenges of bringing so many pets into your lives is losing them, watching them get sick, watching them grow old, having to say goodbye. We are facing that now with our 12-year-old dog Carly.

Everyone thinks their dog is the best, but Carly truly is. A terrier mix rescued from Puerto Rico, she was a year old and already a mother when we adopted her in 2010. We had been searching for a dog for months, one that would accept hugs from my daughter, then six, without biting her face off or running away to hide. We walked by Carly’s kennel in the shelter several times looking at other dogs. Finally, in frustration that other dogs weren’t the right fit, we gave her a try. She stood calmly at the kennel gate waiting for a leash, and then let us pet and play with her in the yard. We brought her home that day. Our lives were so much richer thanks to that decision.

A lapdog from day one, Carly spoiled us as pet owners. Never a barker, chewer or jumper – unless a squirrel was in sight -Carly loved every dog and person she met. She wasn’t super playful and definitely didn’t care to play fetch, preferring more to observe from the sidelines or cuddle up to the humans. But she let my daughter dress her, carry her, and hug her for years. She put up with the cats and was kind to the rabbit. She never needed training (which made our adoption a year ago of a 16-week-old puppy a huge shock). Even when she begged for people food, she’d do it politely and calmly. How could you resist those big brown eyes?

We loved her so much, made her such a part of our lives, that my family worked for several years to get a dog park built in my town. After three years of fund-raising, rallying the community and finding grants, the Abington Dog Park opened in August 2019. Of course, imagine our surprise when Carly decided a dog park wasn’t her thing. She was 10 years old at that point, so we couldn’t really blame her. She was tolerant beyond any reasonable expectation when we brought that puppy, Natasha, home in November 2019 – when she would have been within her rights to be mad at us for bringing this loud,  unruly creature into her life. But she took it in stride, as she took everything in stride.

In December, after noticing that she was lethargic for a couple of days, we took her to the vet, who diagnosed her with cancer of the spleen. She needed emergency surgery and weeks of recovery. It was heartbreaking to see her so sick, and I’m grateful we could afford her care. Finally, she returned to her usual self – bouncing along on walks, taking up half the bed, waiting patiently for a pizza crust or a French fry. She even ran and played with the younger dogs. The vet recommended chemotherapy, and she was tolerating it well. Until earlier this week, when we noticed her wincing as she jumped off the couch or into the car. We took her to the vet, thinking she’d need some pain medicine for arthritis, but they found that cancer had spread to her liver. We started palliative care, which means medication to keep her comfortable, and will probably only have another month or so with her.

We’ve lost small animals before – cats and the rabbit – and that’s been hard, but losing Carly feels so much worse. We brought her home for my daughter’s 6th birthday. This April will be 11 years since that day. She’s grown up with my girl, who’s now a junior in high school and thinking about college.  She’s carved a huge spot in our family and in our hearts.  We’ve cried, of course. We’ve reassured ourselves that we gave her a great life, and will continue to do so until her final day. When she’s  in pain, and no longer able to enjoy life, we’ll do what needs to be done. I don’t think I’ll be able to express myself then.

Pets bring so much joy to our lives – companionship, unconditional love, exercise, security, even therapy. The downside of the package is that, someday, we have to lose them. It breaks our hearts. But I know many of us wouldn’t give up a moment we’ve had with them, despite the inevitable outcome.

Carly  has enriched my life and made me a more loving person. Because of her, I became a community activist and “dog park lady.” I found space in my heart that I didn’t know was there. The organization that rescued Carly from Puerto Rico and sent her to the Northeast Animal Shelter, where we found her, is called Save a Sato. But this “sato,” or street dog, really saved me.

Update: Carly passed away on March 3, 2021  

Social Media: a Double-Edged Sword for Teens

By Natalie Mowbray, ’22

Staff Writer

While the presence of social media in daily life grows, concerns about it do as well. This generation of teenagers has grown up alongside the newest lines of cell phones and tablets, and an ever-changing array of apps to entertain, inform and connect them. With the click of a button, people can play games, share videos, livestream and more with people all over the world. Although it may seem like social media is a great communication tool to connect teenagers with their peers, it can also be a troublesome device for many as well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, social media use can “negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people’s lives and peer pressure.” When behind a screen, many people can be tempted to say hurtful things and messages since there are no immediate consequences for these actions. These words can lower a teenager’s self esteem and lead to mental health problems. During a time in adolescent development in which teenagers are discovering their personality and growing mentally, online bullying can cause them to change in order to avoid being verbally attacked online.

When teenagers open up social media applications such as Instagram, they can see people posting pictures of themselves appearing to lead the “perfect lives.” Some even post digitally altered photographs of themselves using Photoshop to appear flawless to their Instagram followers. During a time in which adolescents’ bodies are growing and their lives consist mostly of school, some teens grow to resent their own bodies or the fact that their lives are not as seemingly perfect as some influencers. According to the Mayo Clinic, a small 2013 study found that older adolescents who used social media passively, such as by just viewing others’ photos, “reported declines in life satisfaction.” Although most Instagram or Snapchat posts are just glimpses of a person’s life, other users look at the posts and often feel like their own lives can’t compare.

Despite these negative aspects of social media usage, there are some benefits. For example, teens can be connected with their friends at all times, and constantly have access to educate themselves and to learn about their world. They have all of the necessary tools and information to navigate the world, and it makes learning much easier. In such a time where a pandemic prohibits people from seeing their friends and family and when school is held online, social media is a useful tool to help connect with peers and supplement learning.

A few juniors from Hanover High School shared their opinions on the ever-growing presence of social media in their lives. Molly McGlame, Kylie Campbell, and Meghan Enos cannot imagine their lives without their devices. “It is easier to communicate with friends and interact with people,” said Meghan. Kylie appreciates how easy it is to plan events and gather with her friends. “I like how simple it is to spread information quickly and efficiently to large groups of people,” she said. However, Gianna Rizzo and Sydney Patch shared that they don’t always enjoy the havoc that social media can bring into their lives. They stated that “social media can distract us for hours everyday, and divert us from getting our school work done.” 

In my opinion, social media is great whenever I want to talk to my friends or check up on other people that I haven’t spoken to in a while. But it can be too distracting when I am trying to get my schoolwork done. And when I scroll through pictures on Instagram for a while, I can start to feel as though my life is inadequate in comparison to the posts that other people make.

Whether or not social media is ultimately good or bad for teenagers, it can be said for certain that it impacts the teenage brain. According to Our Teen Brains, “the reward pathway” in the brain develops much faster in teenage brains than the other parts do. When teenagers engage with social media, it causes this center to light up and become activated. However, this is short term gratification that leads to their excitement when another person likes their posts, but also disappointment when they don’t receive enough “likes.” “Teenagers are often afraid of what others may think about what they post and don’t want to be judged in a negative light,” the website stated. “In this manner, increased social media often contributes to increased feelings of heightened anxiety and social stress.” The anxiety about what others may think of their social media posts can lead teenagers down a slippery slope.

As great as it may sound to be connected at all times, it is just as vital to learn how to disconnect sometimes and enjoy the present moment. Experts advise teens to take breaks every once in a while and disconnect from the devices and feeds. Additionally, users should remember that the lives shared on platforms such as Instagram are almost always superficial, and should not be mistaken for real life.

 

Featured image: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/which-social-networks-should-you-focus-on

 

Year In Review: What Will 2021 Bring?

By Ashley Stracco, ’24

Staff Writer

I think that everyone can agree that 2020 had some very strange and unexpected events. On social media, many have been making their random and crazy predictions for 2021, from who will be the next New England Patriots’ quarterback to what will be the hottest dance trend on TikTok. All jokes aside, students at HHS shared some of their own personal predictions:

Freshman Bodie Poirier thinks that we may not be returning to school normally until late May, if not until next year.

Freshman Paulina Leskow believes people will still have to wear masks, but more events will be able to take place and we will be prepared for whatever happens. 

Sophomore Mike DeMayo predicts that the Boston Bruins will win the Stanley Cup this year and that we will be back to normal by September. 

Sophomore Caitlyn Jordan says, “I think towards the middle of the year everything will be back to how it was before the pandemic!”

Junior Mark Mustone has a very different perspective on what will happen in 2021. “All I’m going to say is that the aliens are coming.”

Junior Mckenzie Bottomley is not sure exactly what her predictions are for 2021, but is hopeful that we will all reach some type of normalcy. But everything is still all up in the air. 

Junior Kendall Sherwood’s predictions are that the vaccine is able to be widely available by the end of summer and life will return to normal in the fall. Before that, though, the early months of 2021 will be similar to 2020 because not much has changed and we are seeing another surge of COVID-19 cases.

Senior Sean Dewitt thinks that this year will come back to normal in April or May in time for Seniors’ end-of-the-year events.

Senior Michelle Sylvester believes the pandemic will get much better in terms of social distancing. She also thinks that sports will happen in the summer and school will be fully in-person by the end of the year. 

Senior Emily Flynn hopes that in 2021, high school athletes will be allowed to play a full season (not just a half season) and that the MIAA will bring back tournaments. She knows that the possibility of this is unlikely, but because of the vaccine, she believes everything will soon go back the way it was before COVID.