Category Archives: Opinion

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.

Year in Review: Most Influential People of 2020

By Caris Mann, ’22

Staff Writer

In a year of extraordinary times, some extraordinary people emerged to lead us.  According to Time Magazine, here are the ten most influential people of 2020:

  1. Naomi Osaka
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Osaka

Naomi Osaka is a professional tennis player from Japan. She is ranked number one in the Women’s Tennis Association and is the first Asian player with the top ranking in singles. She is currently the reigning champion of the U.S. Open. However, Osaka is not only known for her tennis skills, she is also known for her activism. At the U.S. Open, Osaka played in seven matches and during each match, she wore a mask bearing the name of an African-American killed as a result of police violence. She also refused to play a match in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back several times. She  flew to Minneapolis to protest George Floyd’s death and she has publicly stated that she is supporting the “Defund the Police” movement to redistribute money from police departments to community resources.

  1. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi
https://fortune.com/2016/03/24/black-lives-matter-great-leaders/

These three women founded the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, which protests against police brutality and racial brutality and discrimination. After the wrongful death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, the organization protested in the streets to make sure their voices were heard and that this incident of police brutality would never happen again. They were joined by celebrities such as Ariana Grande and Tyler the Creator. 

  1. Angela Merkel
https://theconversation.com/as-she-prepares-to-leave-politics-germanys-angela-merkel-has-left-her-mark-at-home-and-abroad-105957

Angela Merkel is the first woman chancellor of Germany, elected in 2005. Well known for her calm and rational personality, Merkel is able to speak her opinion and have others listen. For example, she used her educational background in the science field to convince other world leaders such as then-President George Bush that climate change was a pressing issue. When Merkel was first elected to her position, she was told that she would never last long because she was a woman and women are known for being highly emotional. She had to fight for respect from her male counterparts such as Vladimir Putin, who once brought a dog into a meeting with her because she is afraid of dogs. Merkel is expected to step down from her position later this year but she will leave behind an amazing legacy.

  1. Kamala Harris
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamala_Harris

Kamala Harris is the first woman Vice President of the United States and is the first person of Indian and Black descent in the position as well. Harris has held a number of government positions including the California State Senator, the Attorney General of California, and the District Attorney of San Francisco. She has also worked for the benefit of the LGBTQ community by banning Prop 8, a law passed in California that only legalized marriage between a man and a woman. In 2011, she opened an E-Crime unit in the California Department of Justice to stop internet crimes. In January of 2019, she began her candidacy for President, but dropped out of the race that December due to a shortage of funds. Last August, Democratic candidate Joe Biden picked Harris to be his running mate.  On January 20, 2021, Harris was officially sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States.

  1. Michaela Coel
https://www.indiewire.com/2020/07/michaela-coel-turned-down-netflix-million-dollar-offer-1234571456/

Michaela Coel is an English actress, writer, poet, and singer. In 2012, Coel wrote and starred in a play called “Chewing Gum Dreams,” where she played a 14-year-old girl named Tracey navigating through life. Then in 2014, her play became a British sitcom called “Chewing Gum,” featuring her as an actor and writer. For “Chewing Gum,” Coel received two British Academy Television Awards for Best Female Comedy Performance and for Breakthrough Talent. In 2020, she wrote, produced, codirected, and starred in a comedy-drama series called “I May Destroy You.” The show is inspired by Coel’s sexual assault experiences and has a predominately black cast. Coel wanted her show to ask questions that others wouldn’t dare ask about sexual assault and to show that sometimes, these questions had no answers. Her work was phenomenally praised and people cannot wait to see what happens in season 2.

  1. Tsai Ing-wen
https://www.npr.org/2020/01/11/795573457/rebuking-china-taiwan-votes-to-reelect-president-tsai-ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen is the seventh president of Taiwan, elected to her position in 2016. She is well known for her intelligence and academic pursuits. She studied law and international trade and eventually became a law professor at Soochow University of Law School. She earned her PhD in law from the University of London. Ing-wen began her political affair in 1993 as the trade negotiator of World Trade Organization affairs. She also became the minister of the Mainland Affairs Council in 2000 and that year she joined the Democratic Progressive Party. She first ran for President in 2012 but was defeated by Ma Ying-jeou. However, she ran again and won in 2016. She was then reelected in 2020 in a landslide and that year she became the chair of the Democratic Progressive Party. She was able to lead her country during the pandemic and she even donated one million masks to other countries.

  1. Bong Joon Ho
https://www.vogue.com/article/bong-joon-ho-awards-season-memes-interviews

Bong Joon Ho is a Korean movie director well known for his latest film “Parasite,” about a poor family that infiltrates a wealthy family they work for. The movie was praised and well-received by critics, going on to receive four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature. It was the first foreign language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and the first time Asian writers won the screenplay award. This was seen as a step in the right direction for people to accept foreign films. Bong Joon Ho is set to direct a limited series on HBO alongside Adam McKay also entitled “Parasite” to explore other aspects of the movie that were not covered. Mark Ruffalo is rumored to star in the series.

  1. Ayushmann Khurrana
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayushmann_Khurrana

Ayushmann Khurrana is an Indian actor who is well known for challenging social norms for men in films. In the movie “Dream Girl,” he played a cross-gender actor at a call center who spoke in a female voice and attracted attention from men. In 2020, Khurrana starred in the movie “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan,” playing a gay man  trying to convince his partner’s family to accept their relationship. The movie was well received but did not do as well commercially due to the pandemic. He was also in another film called “Gulabo Sitabo” which was released on Amazon Prime and received stellar reviews. His next film, “Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui” is set to release this year.

  1. Megan Thee Stallion
https://www.vulture.com/2020/07/megan-thee-stallion-shooting-update-instagram.html

Megan Thee Stallion is an American rapper and activist. This year, she tied with Justin Bieber for the most nominations at the People’s Choice Awards and was the second highest vote-getter at the 2020 Music Awards. For the upcoming Grammys, Megan has four nominations including Best New Artist and Record of the Year for her song “Savage.” This year, she also gave a performance on “Saturday Night Live” where she gave a brief message about the importance of ending racial discrimination, black women in the arts, and Black Lives Matter. At the end of November, she released her debut album “Good News,” which is currently the number one Hip Hop album.

  1. Dr. Anthony Fauci
https://cbs4indy.com/news/national-world/report-dr-fauci-is-highest-paid-federal-employee/

The number one most influential person of 2020 was Dr. Anthony Fauci. With experience from the AIDs/HIV epidemic and Ebola, Dr. Fauci led the world during the Coronavirus pandemic. He delivered information to the public, worked to write guidelines for everyone to follow in order to keep safe, and advocated for masks and social distancing. He also helped oversee the Food and Drug Administration’s creation and distribution of the vaccine. On December 4, Joe Biden officially declared that Fauci would serve as the Chief Medical Advisor to the President.  

https://www.news18.com/photogallery/world/time-100-top-20-most-influential-people-of-2020-in-pics-2904733.html

Featured image: https://www.9news.com/article/news/nation-world/time-100-most-influential-2020/507-6e13bdc1-c67e-419a-b637-704e90f60b0a

The Pursuit of College, and the Pressure it Brings

By Callia Gilligan, ’22

Staff Writer

Most people in Hanover, Massachusetts go to college.” 

McKenzie Bottomley is currently a junior. She’s a dedicated student and athlete with the future in mind. When asked if she had ever felt pressure to attend college, she replied in a tone that indicated that the answer should have been obvious: “all the time.” 

She says that the whole of junior year is based on prepping for college and SATs. She remarked on how there is pressure to do well; “you’ve got to get the good scores to get into the schools you want.” 

McKenzie personally wants to attend college to enrich herself academically and meet new people but, like a lot of others, a big part of the draw is to get a job after graduation. When talking with other juniors, I learned that Elsa Little-Gill also wishes to immerse herself in a new environment and further her learning. Julia McGillivray wants to work in Environmental Science which to her, means she “almost definitely has to get a degree.” Caris Mann wants to teach, so she plans on attending college to major in English and education. Katie McGillivray wants to “extend her knowledge” and thinks that in America, “college is the best way to do that.” 

There were varying responses when these students were asked if they felt pressure to attend college. Caris said she’s personally never felt pressured because she’s always known what she’s wanted to do and, “to do that I would have to get a higher education.” McKenzie responded similarly, saying that she’s felt some pressure but never against pursuing the path she wanted. Elsa believes that the pressure comes from her family. Julia felt the pressure mostly from her parents and teachers, but “my parents also support other paths like the trades and the military,” so for that she’s grateful.

However, all these students agreed that, whatever the reason, college is the school expectation.

If you go to the Hanover High School website, under the Guidance Department, there is an entire section dedicated to college planning. There is advice for every grade, freshmen to seniors, about what they can do to begin planning for college. This is because, according to McKenzie, “in communities like ours, college is the norm.” 

Mrs. O’Neil, an HHS guidance counselor, says the college process for a student typically starts during January of a student’s junior year. “We meet in small groups and go over the basics like what to look for in a college, how to perform a college search, and how to sign up for the SATs,” she said.  Then the students work with Guidance to create their college lists, write recommendations and familiarize themselves with college application websites. Freshmen and Sophomores also work with Guidance to brainstorm ideas on what they might be interested in for post-graduation and how to explore those avenues while still in school.

“Once the college process starts, it can feel like that’s all anyone is talking about,” said Mrs. O’Neil. “It can be helpful to talk about schools you’re applying to or where you’re at in the process with friends, but sometimes it can start to feel overwhelming.”

As a community and a school, it seems like college is the expectation. We live in an affluent town. Most of our parents, teachers, and adults we interact with are college graduates themselves. There is an undercurrent that pushes our students toward that path. But is this always a bad thing? 

Many students said they were okay with the expectation. They felt that because the majority of students want to attend college, the discussion and ample resources surrounding it are helpful.

The teachers here really want to help students be prepared for the learning environment they will encounter in college, and Guidance wants to help students be prepared for the social aspects and independence that comes with taking the next educational step,” said Mrs. O’Neil. The Guidance Department is working to create better resources for post-graduation that aren’t college, like trade schools and the military.

“While I think our school culture may seem like it views going to college as the only successful post-graduation path,” said Mrs. O’Neil, “we truly believe that success can look differently for different student.” 

So, then, why does the pressure around college often feel so toxic? The answer may lie in our academics. 

Elsa said that as a student who takes a lot of Honors and AP classes, she feels that there is a lot of pressure because teachers “are like alright; you really got to do this so you can get college credit for this class.”  If you do well on an AP exam, you can potentially get credit from the college you choose to attend. AP classes are considered to be academically challenging and of a high standard, and schools are proud when they can boast of high enrollment and strong scores.

Academics in their own right have a long history of causing stress to generations of students. However, a common issue I’ve noted even in myself is the competitiveness of grades. Elsa feels that a common thought is, “how am I doing compared to everyone else?” Julia feels that, ingrained in students, there is “pressure not to fail.”

I think students tend to obtain tunnel vision when it comes to academics. The pressure, “makes you focus on one thing too much,” Elsa said. “Doing well in school for the purpose of college” is discussed often, McKenzie added. Because of the competitiveness of college applications, this leads to competitiveness within the school environment.

At our school in the sixth grade, students take a math test and, if they achieve a high score, they are placed into an accelerated math program that gives them a head start on high school math. In short, students are separated based on test scores. At age 12. 

Toward the middle of eighth grade, teachers began reminding us that we had to do well because course recommendations were coming up. If we did well in our eighth-grade classes we would be put into honors courses for ninth grade. I remember being so stressed that if I didn’t get recommended for all honors, I wasn’t going to do well in high school, and then I wasn’t going to get into college. At age 14. 

Elsa thinks that competitiveness is started at a young age, especially upon entering high school and being placed in honors or college preparatory classes. With class ranks and valedictorians, “students base their worth on that.” While it would be radical to eliminate GPAs and class rank altogether, in the back of students’ minds there is a nagging voice telling them that they are not good enough academically. And especially, not good enough to get into college. 

So where’s the middle ground? 

Especially in a COVID learning environment, it feels like the only thing we have is academics and planning for the future. “I know this year has been weird because we can’t be as social, but typically school is a natural place for social development,” said Mrs. O’Neil. “Group projects, sports, and clubs are all ways in which students improve their interpersonal skills. Even seeing friends in the hallway and lunch and saying hi or joking around is promoting social development.”  This year, the academic stress feels greater because there is a lot to be stressed about. 

But I don’t think that this is solely a COVID problem. I do believe that we as a school need to address the competitiveness of academics and work on ways to foster development and personal growth, especially at a young age, rather than separation and competition. 

However, because the world can never change overnight, there is a lot we can do in the meantime. When the pressure feels too great, Guidance’s recommendation is to talk about it, whether it be with a counselor, friends, family or a trusted adult at school. It is especially important for students to understand “that feeling overwhelmed by the college process is normal,” added Mrs. O’Neil. “We’re here to help with the college process, but we’re also here to talk if you’re just feeling stressed out by the process.”  Her recommendation at home is to also set boundaries with your family so they know what you feel comfortable talking about.

It’s going to be okay. This year has been SO hard for everyone,” she said. “Right now, put in as much effort as you can in school so that you can have the most choices possible for college and career planning. But please don’t forget about the other things in your life. Do activities that bring you joy and check in on your friends and family. Ask for help if you need it. We are always here to listen if you’re not sure who to talk to.”

The biggest reminder I have is that your worth is not tied to your academics, or the colleges you get into, or even whether or not you attend college. There are so many values and traits that are more important than your class rank. In the words of Mrs. O’Neil,You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to try. Trust me, you will figure out the best path for you.”

Featured Image: https://sudikoff.gseis.ucla.edu/national-survey-finds-troubling-persistent-mental-health-issues-among-college-students/

 

Reimagining Senior Year, Thanks to a Global Pandemic

By Sam Wing, ’21

Staff Writer

Ever since our freshman year of high school, we’ve been told many stories about how epic senior year will be. When you’re a senior, you’ll get to stroll the halls with confidence, be praised during your team’s Senior Night, participate in Senior Week, attend prom, and most importantly, graduate. However, in the midst of a global pandemic, many of these opportunities and traditions have been canceled. And as a result, many seniors feel as if they can no longer experience all the joys that they are finally due. 

So what now? Do we all just sit back and learn to accept that we don’t get to have a traditional senior year? Or do we learn to adapt and create new opportunities for ourselves? In my opinion, we shouldn’t let a global pandemic stop us from obtaining some joy this year. Instead, we should try to come up with new ways to celebrate our graduation year (socially distanced, of course). For any theater folks out there, we can do virtual plays via zoom, or when the weather gets warmer, do a drive-in production outside. That way, people can stay in the comfort of their cars while remaining socially distant from everyone else. For prom, instead of attending the typical huge event with your whole grade, do a small one in your backyard with a couple of friends. You’ll get to throw on that prom dress many of us bought last year, or rent that tux, and still ensure that gatherings are kept to a minimum. And for Senior Night, create a video montage of your team’s favorite moments from the season. Teams can show the video on a zoom call, so everyone can attend and eat some popcorn at the same time. 

While these alternatives don’t necessarily resemble our traditional activities, they would still give us some sense of joy. During a time where thousands of people are dying due to a deadly virus, it’s important to maintain any sort of joy in our lives. We all need to be able to feel a sense of normalcy in order to help us stay calm. That’s the least we can do for ourselves, our families, friends, and those who are currently fighting the virus. 

2020 Drama Festival Filled with Powerful Performances

This year, Hanover High School’s Drama Club hosted the 2020 METG Drama Festival preliminary round in February. It was an excellent and long day of superb theater!

So how does festival work? Each school that attends performs a short, one act play for a judges’ panel. The school needs to place their set in five minutes, perform their show in 40 and take down their set in another five. Once a play starts, no one can enter or leave the theater. In addition, the judges should not be able to hear the name of the school performing before the play starts.

Viewing Festival is a lot for the brain. Eight pieces of theater is a lot to comprehend. However, the day flies by and the students from different schools have a chance to interact with other “theater kids” from around the area. So what was each show like? I’ll walk you through my favorite parts of the day.

Starting off the day strong was The Clark School, from Rowley, Mass., in their production of “Lila the Werewolf” by Peter S. Beagle. In the show, the character Farrell, played by Sean Bax, deals with learning his girlfriend, Lila, played by Caroline Lucey, is a werewolf. Through the show, you meet Farrell’s friend and narrator Ben, portrayed by Christian Grant, the super of the building who’s out to get Lila (Ryan Trabulsi) and Lila’s intense mother Bernice (Rose DiNoto). The show was filled with dark humor. I really enjoyed Grant’s performance as Ben. I thought he brought a level of humor to the supernatural as well as carried the show excellently with his narration. He and Bax, who played Farrell, won awards for their stellar performance. The set design, in addition, did an excellent job of blending the supernatural and the real world together with their use of shadow puppets.

The next show of the day was “Radium Girls” by D.W. Gregory performed by Southeastern Regional Vocational High School. The story follows Grace, portrayed in this production by Colleen Wood, who unveils the mystery of why all the girls who worked at the Radium Factory are getting sick. Through lawsuits and publicity, Grace needs to make a choice between doing what is easy and doing what is right. My favorite part of this production was that all of the main characters, including the male leads, were portrayed by women. Whether or not this was done intentionally, I thought it was a great way to highlight the historic significance of this tragic event. Another excellent aspect was the set and makeup design. Their set featured an interesting use of large platforms and a large clock that continued moving throughout the whole performance to highlight the mortality of the girls. The makeup in the show was fantastic. The makeup designer did an excellent job of applying prosthetics to the girls very quickly in order to make them look more sick as the show progressed. She was, rightly so, recognized by the judges. My personal favorite performance was Coleen Malley as Arthur Roeder, the factory head. She did an excellent job of portraying the wide range of emotions and stress that Arthur experiences throughout the play. I loved her performance and so did the judges!

One of the best plays of the day, and my personal favorite, was “Monster” by Don Zolidis. Performed by Weymouth High School, Monster is centered around Mary Shelley’s 19th century writing of “Frankenstein.”  Shelley formed the idea for Frankenstein from a dream she had while competing in a ghost story competition with her friends. The play takes place during this ghost story competition at Lord Byron’s summer house in Switzerland. Whilst telling the stories, there is a “Ghost ensemble” that performs them. The play touches on experiences from Mary and Percy Shelley’s life that influenced her ideas and her writing for Frankenstein. While some of it is added for theme purposes, the story is very historically accurate. While I would love to dive into Mary’s life experience, for purposes of brevity, I recommend you watch a documentary on Mary Shelley’s life. Some of the most notable performances included the ghost ensemble; Lord Byron, played by Zach Norton; and John Polidori, played by James Harmon, who were all recognized by the judges. While she was not recognized, I thought that Abigail Huard’s portrayal of Mary was fantastic. I thought she carried the show brilliantly and was exactly how I imagined Mary to be in my head. Overall, I think what brought the show to the next level was their set design and technical effects. There were black lights and strobe lights that really set the mood of tension when the ghost stories were being told. The set was fantastic.  When the actors moved to different places, it really felt like they were moving through an old house. The show was not the most funny nor emotionally powerful of the day but, combined with the superb acting, technical effects and set, the show was one of the best.

The next show was our very own Hanover High School performing, in my opinion, the funniest show of the day, “The Scheme of the Driftless Shifter” by Carolyn Lane. This show is, as one judge put it, “an intentional trainwreck.” There was a “fight” in the audience, a disgruntled cleaning lady, fake snow, lines dropped and a man playing a dog, all while a cast is trying to perform a very serious production. This show was the epitome of hilarious. I was keeling over in my seat laughing, on the verge of tears and peeing myself. The accents, for starters – notably Ben Mannings’s Scottish accent as Henry Pompington, – really added to the idea that the cast of the show was trying to put on a very serious production and failing miserably. There were many times in the show that you thought it was ending and the curtain would close, and then a new chaotic scene would start. It was hysterical and, by far, the funniest show of the day. Elise Falvey, Maia Arbia and Peter Bell were all recognized for their performances as Petunia Pompington, the Stage Manager and the Piano Player, respectively.

Picking up after lunch was Lynnfield High School performing “Brilliant Traces” by Cindy Lou Johnson. This was a two person show! The entire show was carried by Grace Mealy as Rossanah DeLuce and Greyson Wainwright as Henry Harry. In the play, Rossanah arrived at Henry’s door in the middle of an Alaskan whiteout dressed in a wedding dress. Through the course of a couple days, the two deal with the aftermath of the situation and learn about each other. I thought that the show was very impressive. However, at times it felt to me as if it was artsy and different, and flaunted it. But, that’s more a commentary on the writing and directorial direction and not on the performance. I thought that Mealy and Wainwright did an excellent job of displaying the sudden intimacy of the characters as well as the humanity the two discover within themselves through their meeting. I thought the lighting and sound design were quite bland; however, there isn’t too much to be done with a show that is so chemistry-driven. The set design was beautiful. The cabin was very realistic and utilized angles very well to create an excellent sense of space. From an audience standpoint, the use of props allowed the show to feel natural and like you were witnessing a real tender moment between two people. Overall the show was not my favorite but a very interesting experience and an opportunity to see two fabulous student actors.

“Anybody for Tea?” by C.B. Gifford was the show performed by Notre Dame Academy. This show was about six old spinsters who start to murder each other in order to lure the “very attractive” Captain Williams (Clare Kennedy) to their house. A common compliment I’ve had for festival has been the set design. Notre Dame’s set was fabulous. The house of the old ladies felt exactly what you would expect to see in a house with six old spinsters. The lighting design was interesting because it utilized lamps on the stage, but the sound was a little bland. Overall, the show was a little too slow for me. However, the six spinsters’ performances were so accurate. Their body language and style of speaking really led me to believe they where old ladies. My favorite performance was Connaught Riley as Hildegarde Hodge who (spoiler) is the one who commits the two murders. Her confession was hysterical and added to the whimsy of the darker content. “Anybody for Tea” was not my type of show, but it was a delightful mystery and a funny performance.

Everett High School performed “Augusta & Noble” by Carlos Murillo. This show brought tears to my eyes. I could neither classify it as a comedy or drama but rather a wholesome and important story to tell. The story follows Gabi Castillo, a daughter of immigrants from Mexico who is struggling with her identity. Through a blend of dreams and the real world, Gabi learns that despite being an immigrant, she belongs here. The show was sweet and shed light on real struggles of disadvantaged immigrant families. Jhalyshka Feliciano’s performance as Gabi was beautiful and I found it very easy to sympathize with her. Feliciano was awarded for her performance. The lighting design had to be my favorite part of the show. There were parts in the show where they would be in the desert or at school, and I thought the lighting design done by Bryan de Souza really made the show come together as a whole.

The most powerful performance of the day for me personally was “My Love Lies Frozen In the Ice” by The Dead Rabbits and performed by Boston Latin School. Like “Augusta & Noble,” I really couldn’t classify this show as either a comedy or a drama, but it was nothing like the show prior to it. The play follows Mathilde, played by Alexa Wong, as her brother Solomon (Ian Wright) and fiance Nils (Calvin Szulc) develop a balloon that will carry them to the North Pole. They then leave her behind, only to never return. This play was filled with audience interactions, improvisation and heart-wrenching moments. One of the coolest technical aspects of the show was that a large balloon was thrown into the audience as well as a small balloon that floated from the booth down to the stage. I applaud the technical crew for including such fun interactive moments and the actors improvising with the small mishaps. What made the show so powerful for me was Alexa Wong’s performance as Mathilde. She was able to clearly narrate and carry the story. She had these amazing moments of hilarity and many moments of sadness and heartbreak, all of which were delivered with clarity. She was lovable and relatable and one of my favorite performances of the day. She earned a performance award from the judges.

At the end of the day, I think all of these shows deserved to move on to the next round of competition, which was unfortunately delayed – and then cancelled – because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each was so different but equally as wonderful. The three that advanced were “Monster,” “My Love Lies Frozen In the Ice” and “Augusta & Noble.” 

Most Influential People, 2009 vs 2019

By Caris Mann

For most of us at Hanover High School, the past decade was the most instrumental of our lives so far. We grew up in this decade and grew fascinated with the trends and people we encountered. But the people we looked up to in 2009 are so different from the people we looked up to in 2019. Every year, TIME Magazine posts a list of the 100 most influential people of the year. Let’s take a look back on some of the most influential people in 2009 vs 2019.

2009

Barack Obama – President of the United States

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In 2009, Obama was voted one of the most influential political leaders of the year. Obama was inaugurated that year, taking over the presidency from George W. Bush. During that year, Obama lowered unemployment rates, expanded the children’s health care program, and won the Nobel Prize. He worked hard that year to benefit the people of the United States and forever made a lasting impression.

Brad Pitt – Actor

Image result for brad pittIt may come as a surprise to some people, but Brad Pitt was not deemed influential because of his acting. He was actually recognized under the category “Builders and Titans.” This was because of his work with the foundation he established called Make It Right. After Hurricane Katrina, Pitt created the foundation to help rebuild affordable homes for the people of New Orleans.  He also advocated for his movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” to be shot in New Orleans to show off the culture of the city. Pitt put the needs of the people of New Orleans in front of his own.

Jeff Kinney – Author

Image result for jeff kinney wimpy kidWe all know Jeff Kinney as the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. In 2009, Kinney was voted as one of the most influential artists and entertainers. Everyone relates to Kinney’s hilarious stories of Greg Heffley as he tries to navigate his way through middle school. We’ve all been there, whether it’s dealing with your annoying older brother and his stupid band or being terrified to talk to that one girl. By creating a book series that resonated, Kinney instilled a lifelong love of reading in countless young children. 

Michelle Obama – First Lady

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In 2009, Michelle Obama was voted as one of the many heroes and icons by TIME Magazine. And why not? She inspires people every day to live their best lives. She is a working mother whose goals are to better the lives of other people. In 2009, she planted the White House Kitchen Garden to encourage healthy eating within the White House. She wanted the people of the United States to commit to a healthy lifestyle in order to live a longer life. She works incredibly hard to ensure the best lifestyle of the citizens of the United States.

Connie Hedegaard – Scientist

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TIME Magazine named Connie Hedegaard as one of the most influential scientists and thinkers of 2009. Before researching this article, I had no idea who Connie Hedeguard was. But now I understand why TIME magazine loved her so much. She is a Danish politician and public intellectual who fights to end climate change. In 2009, she was picked to host the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, where she worked to come up with a global solution to climate change. She is one of the many leaders who believes that climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. 

2019

Sandra Oh – Actress

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In 2019 under the “Pioneers Category,” TIME voted for Sandra Oh. Most people know Sandra as Dr. Cristina Yang on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Oh is described by TIME as a hard worker with brilliant talent. She has an energy that is unmatched when she portrays Cristina. She is also described as a perfectionist who wants every part of her craft to be just right. She puts care into her work. She is also seen as a pioneer because she had to work her way to where she is today. She had to pay to go to acting school all on her own. Her parents never wanted her to become an actress. However, she never gave up and is enjoying the success that she has earned today.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Actor

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Everyone has heard of the famous wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson. However, most people might not know that he was voted as TIME Magazine’s most influential artist of the year. According to TIME, Dwayne is an inspiration to all. He puts so much energy into the world around him. He runs a charity called “The Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation” which works to help terminally ill children. He created  his own production company where he produces TV shows. He is starring in many new blockbuster movies and it was recently announced that he will be starring in his first superhero movie. Dwayne works hard to inspire the people around him.

Greta Thunberg – Activist

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Recently,  this teen activist has come into the spotlight for her global work on climate change, earning a spot on TIME’s list at the young age of 17. She has led many climate strikes and marches including the most famous, “Skipping School for Climate Change,” where many young teens decide to skip school for a day to encourage their governments to do something about climate change. She is also famous for her influential speeches which have been delivered in front of many world leaders. Perhaps her most famous one took place at the United Nations in 2019, where she told the leaders that they may love their children but they are taking their future away from them by not attempting to fix their climate. I have a feeling that this is not the last time we will hear from Greta Thunberg and I look forward to seeing what she will do next.

Michelle Obama – Activist

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Michelle Obama was named an icon once again in 2019. Throughout the last decade, she has continued her great work in helping to better American citizens. She started the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids program to offer healthy school lunches to every child in America. She started the Reach Higher program to inspire adults to continue their education after graduating high school. She has also launched the Global Girls Alliance where she will support 1,500 girls’ education programs. Even though she may no longer be the First Lady, Michelle still works hard to better our lives each day.

Lebron James – Athlete

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Basketball star LeBron James was nominated as 2019’s Titan of the Year. While he may be a star on the court, James is also a star in the field of philanthropy. He started the Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, for disadvantaged children. James also runs his own charity called the LeBron James Family Foundation. In addition, he supports many other charities such as After School All-Stars, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Children’s Defense Fund. He has even partnered with the University of Akron to provide 2,300 scholarships beginning in 2021. The value of education is important to James and he wants to be able to spread that influence to others.

Some News Stories from 2019 will have Lasting Impact

by Grace Van Duyn

The year 2019 was full of achievements and struggles. The issues ranged from impeachment and immigration to Brexit, the college admissions scandal, and climate change. Notable events included  the fire that destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the World Cup win for the US Women’s Soccer Team. Although there were many important news stories, two that stuck out to me are the first photograph of a black hole and the devastating fires in the Amazon. The effects of these two events will be felt for years to come.

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https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1907h/

For the first time in history, astronomers captured and released a picture of a black hole. Before 2019, astronomers had struggled to find methods to take a picture of a place in space where no light could escape. A driven group of international astronomers and computer scientists worked together over the span of a decade to create technology so advanced that it could detect the faint silhouette of the black hole. Katie Bouman, a graduate student at MIT, helped to develop an algorithm that captured the image of the massive black hole. This discovery, announced last April, will be an important part of the study of astronomy in the future.

Image result for amazon rainforest firesThe Amazon rainforest fires, sparked in August, killed millions of animals, destroyed the homes of many indigenous tribes, and had a global environmental impact. This natural disaster impacted the entire world because it is the largest rainforest on Earth and is vital to all life. Experts blame these fires on increasing deforestation, trees being cut down to make room for cattle ranches or development. It could take hundreds of years for the wildlife and forests to recover.

Just a few weeks into 2020, the new year has plenty of issues and headlines of its own. So far, we have fires in Australia, conflict with Iran, the scandal in the British royal family known as Megxit, and the upcoming presidential election. As the year progresses, I hope that we are we are able to continue in our successes and address our problems. We have a whole new decade ahead of us. 

 

Featured photo: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2198937-first-ever-picture-of-a-black-hole-may-be-revealed-this-week/