Category Archives: Opinion

Is There Room on Library Shelves for Controversial Books?

By Teddy McCrann, ’23

Staff Writer

In recent years, a debate has resurfaced within the American public school system over the presence of “controversial” books in libraries across the nation. For years, classic books such as 1984, Lord of the Flies, and Catcher in the Rye have been pervasive in English literature classes, as they teach valuable and timely lessons on society and human interaction. It was not until the 21st century and the current wave of heavy censorship regarding children’s entertainment that books such as these were even considered to be taken off of the shelves of public schools. While many of these books do contain significant levels of profanity and mature references, they more so teach American students, high schoolers in particular, not only how to read at a more advanced level but also to become aware of societal injustices and the American reality. The question remains: are these books so controversial that they should be stripped from shelves and classrooms nationwide?

Based on a recent survey taken by CBS News, more than 1,600 books were banned from school libraries across the United States in the 2021-2022 school year alone. From Massachusetts to California, in 138 districts across 32 states in total, students were forbidden from reading certain novels that have had a significant presence in English curriculums for the past century. A specific example of one of these novels is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published in 1960 and has since become one of America’s most widely read stories focusing on the foundations and consequences of racism and prejudice within our nation. It delves into the intricacies of community living and how divided individuals can be regarding situations of morality and compassion. Lee’s novel has been banned from school libraries due to the presence of racial slurs as well as Atticus Finch’s character being perceived as a “white savior,” a theme that critics argue has roots in the imperial idea that whites, or Europeans in colonial times, can solve everyone else’s problems. Both are believed to have negative effects on students. The use of racial slurs and promoting any kind of racial supremacy holds no place in American society and its school system whatsoever; however, many believe that a novel such as To Kill a Mockingbird teaches extremely valuable lessons to students, specifically in judging someone solely based on their character and nothing else. I personally read To Kill a Mockingbird in my sophomore year English class and had no issue handling its use of slurs or mature content, although I recognize a classmate of color might be impacted differently. I greatly enjoyed the novel as we mainly focused on analyzing the characters and Lee’s various messages and themes. Nevertheless, I do believe that discussing societal issues, past and present, through a novel like this and recognizing criticisms of it is a fruitful and necessary aspect of the educational process. 

Book banning in today’s society mostly stems from parental concerns over the material that their children are exposed to in school. A significant number of books that are forbidden show similarities to To Kill a Mockingbird through the use of profanity, while others are banned due to their suggestive and mature content. Some of these books are dystopian classics, such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, while others are much more relevant today regarding LGBTQIA+ expression and celebration. An example of one of these works is a memoir written by George M. Johnson called All Boys Aren’t Blue, which focuses on racial and sexual identity and has been banned in 29 school districts due to its content. CBS has found that 41 percent of books that were banned in the 2021-2022 school year contained content on gender and sexuality, with many school officials attributing this to political pressures from state officials and parents. While many agree with these people and desire to keep school literature free from this type of material, others find that books on gender and sexual identity are good for representation of the diverse people in our society. 

The resurfacing of the debate over book banning is no surprise as recent years have brought an increase in sensitivity regarding race, gender, sexuality, and other mature topics within entertainment and especially literature. As this has reached public school systems, more and more books have been taken off the shelves of school libraries out of concern for the students’ well-being and beliefs on these sensitive subjects, even though some of these works have been embedded in American public school curriculums for the past century. While I believe people have a right to differing opinions on sensitive subjects, I have personally found that reading “controversial” novels teaches valuable lessons and also helps to lead healthy discussions on sensitivity and perspective within all aspects of our society. 

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-50-most-banned-books-in-america/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/banned-books-list-increased-schools-ban-critical-race-theory-sexuality-pen-america-report/

Top Five NH Mountains for Skiing, Snowboarding

By Paulina Leskow, ’24

Staff Writer

Winter has finally arrived, meaning that people are hitting the slopes for skiing and snowboarding. There are so many ski resorts that make up the New Hampshire Skiing region, some people may not be aware which mountain best suits their ability and preference. Here are the most popular ski resort rankings for anyone looking to hit the slopes this winter.

Starting at number five is Gunstock Ski Resort. Gunstock is a four-season ski resort that offers 227 acres and 49 trails. It is located in the lake regions of New Hampshire, offering a beautiful view of Lake Winnipesaukee. Although Gunstock is a beautiful resort with amazing views and fun trails, it does have its flaws. When one comes in and starts skiing early in the morning, skiers and snowboarders experience nice, powdery snow, however, as the day goes on, the slopes become icy and dangerous to ride on. By lunchtime, riders are going down ice-filled hills with a fear of falling and bruising on the ice. All in all, Gunstock is not a bad ski experience, especially if one is willing to wake up early and head over. 

The next resort on the list is Cannon Mountain. Cannon Mountain is located near Echo Lake in central New Hampshire. This resort has some of the most beautiful mountains and snowy trails imaginable. The only problem is that these conditions are not consistent throughout the whole winter. The conditions depend on the day, and good skiing weather is very hit-or-miss in this region. If you happen to arrive at Cannon Mountain on a beautiful day with amazing conditions, you will have the time of your life riding down the mountain. 

Ranked third is Cranmore Resort. Not only is Cranmore a great place to ski and snowboard with groomed surface conditions and great views, but it also contains many amusements all yearround. In addition to skiing, one is able to ride a rollercoaster as well as take a trip on a zipline. It is a great place to visit with family and friends, and the penguin mascot can always make your day. Cranmore could be a place to go for a weekend trip, with people more interested in the thrill of amusement parks, not just skiers. 

Second on the list is Pats Peak. If you like long, scenic routes on the mountains, Pats Peak is the perfect place for you. It takes about an hour just to get down the mountain. That may seem extremely long for non-skiers, but for those passionate about the sport, this is paradise. Riding calmly through long paths freshly coated with snow sounds like the perfect getaway on a nice winter day. In addition, Pats Peak is located in Southern New Hampshire, one of the closer resorts in the region, so you don’t have to be stuck in the car for hours upon hours just to go skiing. When looking for a nice, calm ski journey, Pats Peak is just the right mountain. 

Although all of these ski resorts are pretty great places to ski or snowboard, Waterville Valley resort is by far the greatest of them all. Waterville Valley is located in the center of New Hampshire, and has a whole village revolving around the ski resort perfect for the winter, and even the summer. All of the ski routes are based upon ski level and vary in length, depending on your preferences. This mountain also introduced a new ski lift that holds six people, as opposed to the standard four-person lift. Lessons at Waterville Valley are very effective and memorable, and it is a great place to go with family, or alone. Waterville Valley is the perfect place to ski or snowboard no matter how advanced you are, and no matter if you prefer long or short trails.

HHS Ski Club: If interested in joining the newly active school ski club, please contact the author at pleskow24@hanoverschools.org

featured image: https://www.newenglandskihistory.com/NewHampshire/watervillevalley.php

‘Saw’ Movies are No Longer Cutting It

By Abbey Kinzel, ’23

Staff Writer

The Saw movie franchise has been a classic for family movie nights during the Halloween season. The first Saw movie in itself was touchy, even when it was first released to theaters. James Wan’s Saw came out in 2004, and it showed a new perspective on the genre of horror. Most of the horror movies at the time were slashers and began with the words killer, bloody or evil. Torture and traps were not a mainstay of horror since it can be hard to balance a plot and such torments. Saw movies normally center around one person or a group of people in a series of “trial traps” that will test others or themselves. However, the most recent entry strayed from this formula.

Many people consider the Saw franchise to be more in the genre of thriller than horror, and some say it’s too outrageously funny even to be considered scary. “The Saw movies don’t feel like they’re horror movies,” said senior Erin Shea. “It’s more like The Hunger Games, so it’s more thriller than horror.”

Saw (2004): It’s hard to say what category this movie falls into because it is a lot of different things. It’s gruesome and serious, but the editing makes the movie less scary and more ridiculous and laughable. Recognizable actors are Danny Glover, famous for movies like Lethal Weapon and Predator 2, and Cary Elwes, who starred in The Princess Bride and Stranger Things. The editing is on the same level as Taken 3, however Saw is just a little bit better. “2004 editing was pretty bad so it was kind of funny,” said Makenzie Conward, a senior who was encouraged to watch the original recently. During the film, I kept switching between laughing and being serious, I just couldn’t take this movie seriously for more than two minutes at a time. And for a split second, Cary Elwes’ character, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, breaks his American accent and becomes British for one word. Maybe it was the fear?! Rotten Tomatoes rates Saw as 49% on the famous tomato-meter. This is justified as this is a cool movie for its time and budget, but tries too hard to be serious.

Saw II (2005): This movie tries to be more brutal than the first one but the circumstances for the group trial are dumb and not fleshed out. The only recognizable character is actor/singer Donnie Wahlberg as Eric Matthews. There’s gore, but we learn that some of the traps are inescapable and are just glorified executions. Some of the characters are stupid and unbearable, while others that are “smart” can’t see the obvious word play of Jigsaw in the beginning of the film. Despite this criticism, the creators make a really good connection to the first movie, and present a surprise twist at the end. I felt like death when I watched this movie; it hurts to watch how uncalculated every move is. Rotten Tomatoes gives a 37% rating and I think this deserves a lower rating, like 27%. After watching this movie again recently, I feel like I needed financial compensation.

Saw III (2006): Saw III is a near direct sequel to Saw II. We pick up where we left off for 5 minutes, and then go into the actual plot of the movie. It is safe to say that most fans of the franchise consider this movie to have the dumbest main character to go through the Saw traps. In summary, and to avoid spoilers, all he does is yell at people; when he finally decides to help it’s too late, and they are already dead. He is an unbearable man to follow around for the duration of the movie and you are just hoping he dies early. And, of course, there is a “BIG” twist with the characters and some of Jigsaw’s past. But in all seriousness, it’s the kind of material a fifth grader could have pieced together halfway through the movie. In addition, we learn why some of the traps in this movie and the previous movie were inescapable. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 30% rating and I feel like this score is deserved. It is very boring and hard to follow, the protagonist is impossible to cheer for, and the traps are just “fine.”

Saw IV (2007): If you somehow skipped the first three movies, you may be wondering why they are opening up some old guy for the first 6 minutes. It’s because the Jigsaw Killer is dead and his body has been recovered. And that is only the second twist of the movie early on. There are some returning characters from past movies and the Jigsaw killings are still going on despite the original killer’s death. For the entire film, we follow Lieutenant Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) with trial traps against some random people. Daniel’s mission is to save Donnie Wahlberg, who is back as Detective Matthews. And it is revealed that one of Jigsaws’ disciples is continuing the killings for him. Rotten Tomatoes has an 18% as a rating. This rating should be a few points higher but, all in all, this movie wasn’t that great.

Saw V (2008): This film begins where the last movie left off. The audience continues to follow the newly revealed Jigsaw apprentice, who tries to kill the one person that might learn his identity. Along the way, we learn more of the original Jigsaw killer’s past and some of the apprentice’s past as well. The film presents traps placed along the way to try to stop any detectives or cops who are with the apprentice’s enemy. This movie has a slightly better story and traps than the last few, and you actually feel like you want the characters to survive. Also, a lot of the traps feel more like personal attacks than tortures meant to teach a lesson or change a moral value as we’ve seen in the previous movies. Despite all this, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a13%. I wished this film was rated higher, but it could be seen as reasonable. The movie was mediocre at best.

Saw VI (2009): This movie still follows the apprentice who had successfully killed his main threat. We also follow a man going through a trial trap who denied Jigsaw medical insurance months before he died, as well as following Jigsaw’s ex-wife who is carrying out Jigsaw’s physical will. There is not really an interesting plot line, it is like a filler episode of your favorite show, ensuring a new entry each year. It is a little boring and two of the storylines cross and start to become one toward the end of the movie. Even though this movie is rated higher than both Saw IV and Saw V, it feels boring and doesn’t add anything significant to the franchise until the very end of the film. Rotten Tomatoes rates it a 39% as a rating for this movie. This movie deserves a much lower rating, such as a 10%; it presents a sleep inducing atmosphere throughout. Again, I feel as if I need some financial compensation for this movie. I am expecting two checks in the mail in three weeks. 

Saw 3D (2010): This movie does the exact same thing as the last movie and picks up right where we left off, literally like an episode of a TV show. The apprentice almost dies in a trap that was made for them. They track down and try to kill the person who put them in that trap. We also follow a man who falsely claimed to have survived a Jigsaw trap, and he visits a Jigsaw victim support group, with all the other victims of Jigsaw traps, some we recognize and others we don’t. One in particular is Dr. Lawrence Gordon, who survived the first movie and criticizes the man for bringing a camera crew with him to the meeting. This man gets put through a trial trap with his wife at stake. The audience learns that there is another apprentice in the mix. This movie felt like a good end to a franchise, since it’s also called “The Final Chapter,” but as you can tell, it was not the last one. This movie feels a little bit more exciting than the previous films, but has the lowest Rotten Tomato score of all the movies at 9%. The rating makes me feel a little depressed and balances out my excitement.

Jigsaw (2017): This movie was a little unexpected when the trailer dropped and it did a bit better with ratings. A group of people are shown being killed off in a barn somewhere in the countryside, and with each person dying in the group, a new body is discovered. The police, to ease the public’s fears, say that the original Jigsaw killer is still dead and not coming back to life. So they dig up his grave and open his casket and realize that his body is missing. So I guess it is viewed as a big deal. The film revealed a brand new character who is never seen again. Even though there was a seven-year gap between the previous movie and this one, it did better in the theaters than the previous film. It has some twists and subversions that might make you question “Who is really behind the killings now?” It is a good comeback from where the franchise left off, but I don’t think people will be waiting every seven years for another Saw movie to come out and be just as good. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 39%.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021): With the story by Chris Rock, this movie makes me feel more sad than scared. The plot of the movie is that cops are being kidnapped and put into deadly traps, and Rock is a detective leading a team trying to find the killer. They make it clear that the original killer is dead and can’t be the one behind the killings; you don’t say, next thing they are going to say is the sky is blue and that grass is green. Besides Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, his father who is a retired detective, there is famous Canadian magician Chris Ramsey. The story is fine, and the traps are cool, I guess? However, the part that makes me the most sad is that, at this point in the franchise’s history, most fans only watch the movies for the new take on the traps and less for the story itself. Any future movie has to find a way to subvert people’s expectations. Rotten Tomatoes has a 37% as a rating, but I think this movie deserves better.

Saw X (2023): This is an upcoming addition to the Saw Franchise, but there is almost no news so far other than the fact that Tobin Bell, the actor who plays one of the Jigsaw killers, is reprising his role. Everyone is getting excited since it is coming out in the month of October, part of the annual Halloween season. Yet the movie hasn’t even been released yet…

Visit to Philly Reveals Charms of City Life

By Teddy McCrann, ’23

Staff Writer

This past September, I took a trip down to Pennsylvania with the main purpose of touring different colleges in and around the Philadelphia area. Initially, I was not very excited as it was a very, very long drive from Hanover and I’ve never been too fond of the hustle and bustle of life in the city. I now stand corrected. After spending a couple of days exploring Philly, I discovered that I’m actually quite fond of the city and its diversity as well as the hundreds of restaurants, shops, and historical sights it holds. It only took a small trip for my opinions to completely change, and if you’re not fond of urban life like I was, I definitely recommend giving this city, at least, a chance. 

The author poses with a Philly landmark

Walking through one of the main drags of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was definitely a highlight of the trip. Although it’s a little hectic crossing the double lanes of traffic and rotary exits, the views and atmosphere are unmatched. Lined up and down the street are graceful and vibrantly-colored flags that pay respects to the hundreds of nations of our world, which I found to complement the already welcoming atmosphere. I think this stretch of the city epitomizes one of the more famous nicknames of Philadelphia: the City of Brotherly Love. These feelings only grew stronger as I approached the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the end of the parkway and, of course, the all-mighty state of Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies, which took place in Philadelphia. The fact that the people of Philadelphia loved the Rocky movies so much that they erected a statue in their honor makes me laugh, but I also appreciate this sense of “brotherly love” that comes through in the people’s love for their city. I’ve come to realize that this love for one’s home is present in not only Philadelphia, but in many cities of our nation — especially Boston. Urban life is hectic but it definitely promotes a sense of family and community amidst such a diverse group of Americans.

A huge benefit of living on the East Coast is that its ties to American history run deep in the foundations of cities and towns which have been around since before the Revolutionary War. Examples of these cities are Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. After going on this trip, I think Philadelphia is possibly the most historically rich area of the entire country, aside from Washington D.C. I traversed many blocks in order to see the Liberty Bell as well as Independence Hall, which is considered the birthplace of America after the Declaration of Independence was signed there in 1776, almost 250 years ago. The fact that such large metropolises, now modernized and changing every day, are hundreds of years old and hold such historical significance to our nation really illustrates how much America has developed and achieved over the years. Cities like Philadelphia and Boston are representations of America’s accomplishments and the community-fueled foundations in which it was built upon, which I have grown to love. 

As much as I did enjoy Philadelphia, don’t worry, I’ll always be a Bostonian at heart. My exposure to the chaotic yet welcoming atmosphere of this city has changed my views on urban life in general; there is so much to offer, from local restaurants to historical landmarks. While our cities are certainly not paradises, and have socio-economic problems different from suburbs like Hanover, they are important to American identity and history. After this trip, I definitely see myself going into the city more often and, if you’ve been nervous of the hustle and bustle, maybe you can give it a chance too.

Featured image: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/pennsylvania/philadelphia

Clubs Forge Connections on Fields, in Classrooms, in Hearts

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

As a junior, I have been part of many different clubs and activities at Hanover High School. It has been fun to try out everything that I can, including writing for the newspaper and acting with the Drama Club, but the most influential part of my high school experience has been Unified Sports and Friendship Connection. These connected clubs promote the interaction of peer students with those in POST and RISE, the district’s special education programs for teens with severe disabilities.

RISE, or Reaching Independence through Support and Education, helps enrolled students build independence in academics, life skills and communications. Some students work with their teacher and paraprofessionals in a substantially separate classroom while attending elective classes with their peers. Others attend General Education classes for part of the day. POST partners with Bridgewater State  University to serve students 18-22 years old, focusing on skills to help with the transition from high school to adult life.

Since 7th grade, I have been a part of Unified Sports at Hanover High School. Being a peer in this club has been an amazing experience because all the students involved are wonderful people, always willing and excited to play. Three Thursdays a month, the group has practice for the sport of the season, which is soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and kickball in the spring. These practices prepare us for games against Unified Teams from other schools or games against the HHS staff. On the remaining Thursday of each month, most of the Unified teammates gather for Friendship Connection, where we play games indoors and do crafts. Many of the crafts are presents for staff in the school or put on display for students and visitors to see. 

Our first soccer game of the season will be on Oct. 20 on the Hanover Middle School soccer field. Fans are welcome to watch, and students are always encouraged to come play with us! The joy on players’ faces when they make a pass or score a goal is sure to bring a smile to all who watch.

To me, Unified has built so many meaningful relationships and connections with other students in our school. I feel like I have made a connection with all the students involved that has grown each time I come to practice. I am always so happy whenever I see anyone involved with this club, either in the halls at school or at our practices and meetings, and I can tell that the students, peers and teachers are always happy to see me. I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of it for so many years. It’s the thing that I look forward to the most. No matter what has happened throughout the week, I always know that Unified and Friendship Connection will put me in an amazing mood. 

Unified and Friendship Connection are always welcoming new peer members and would love to have more people join these clubs. If you are interested, practices are Thursdays from 2:30-3:30 pm, and we meet near the HHS media room. You can also contact HHS Spanish teacher Allyson Gately, who advises the clubs with Mrs. Janet Mann. The clubs hold a special place in her heart, Mrs. Gately says, “because “lifelong friendships are made.”

“The POST and RISE students bring the peer students so much joy, and vice versa,” Mrs. Gately adds. “It’s a beautiful thing to experience.”

Photos courtesy of Mrs. Gately and Mrs. Mann

‘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/