Category Archives: Opinion

Teens Must Look Beyond Media’s Narrow Definition of Beauty

As an American society we are constantly being pounded with media. It is in front of us, on our laps and in our pockets. The problem with this is that we are provided with examples of what to buy, how to live, how to treat others and one of the most important, how we should look. Although this is difficult pressure for all of America, I believe that this pressure is increased for the high school population. This portion of our country is trying to find out who they are and are seriously susceptible to the media messages that are surrounding all of us. Teenagers frequently are being told what beautiful is, and this beautiful is something only attainable to a miniscule portion of the population.

dremilymassey.com
dremilymassey.com

This leaves the rest of us on the outside, with the terrible belief that whatever we have isn’t beauty. Body image can be a problem for both boys and girls, but I’m going to focus on how it affects teenage girls in particular because that’s the experience I have lived.

It truly is everywhere. On television, the pretty, thin girls play the love interest. They are the leading ladies that we root for and, quite honestly, wish we were more like. The non-supermodel girls
are typically the ones that play the quirky best friend. Sometimes they will get the leading lady role.  However, this is just about always in a comedy or a story about how the boy looked past how the girl
looked on the outside. So what’s that supposed to tell us? Our only hope of that dream guy falling for us is that he may somehow choose our plainness over the other girl’s beauty? Basically, this is just
reinforcing the idea that we are not beautiful.

In a similar manner, the fashion world has plus-sized models. These women, despite their beauty, are placed into a separate group from the other beautiful women. So separate, that they need to have their own magazines and stores. I don’t know about you, but when I walk through a mall I only see stores with skinny girls advertising clothing. It is rare that I see a store that has plus-sized models. This is once again showing teenagers the correct way to look.

I can clearly see how this is affecting the girls at Hanover High School. I frequently hear girls complaining about their (perfectly healthy) weight. Even more, I see girls questioning why they can’t look like someone else. From personal experience I can say that seeing oneself as inferior to the next girl is one of the worst and most painful ways to lower your own self-esteem. I can remember this feeling. It gives a deep pain in the back of your stomach that lasts all day. All day, through the hunger from refusing to eat lunch and it later accompanies the overwhelming guilt when lunch is made up for
with after school snacks.

Plus-size model Robyn Lawley
Plus-size model Robyn Lawley

This needs to stop and this can be stopped, thanks to plus-sized model Robyn Lawley, who is breaking many barriers by being the first curvy model to appear in several major magazines such as Vogue, GQ, and Elle. Through her work and that of several other models, including Mia Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith singer Steven and actress Liv), the media can perhaps one day change to show that there is more than one kind of beauty.

mia-tyler-01
Mia Tyler

Until that day, it is up to us teenage girls to fight against these predetermined definitions of beauty. If there is anything certain about beauty it is that it is subjective. No one has the right, or the true ability to rate the way we look. That job is up to ourselves. We need to have faith that we are absolutely, unquestionably, utterly,
stunning, because we are. I promise.

“Through The Victim’s Eyes:” Play From the Heart

Recently, as a part of my Senior Humanities project, I wrote an original play portraying what it feels like for the average kid who is bullied either on a daily basis, or to the point where he breaks and loses all rational thought. Yes, this is somewhat common among children. I have read that at least 14 percent of kids end up committing suicide because they cannot handle the animosity that comes with their bullies. Think about that for a moment. I was shocked when I read that statistic as well.

The play itself wasn’t a total burden to write, but I just felt exhausted at one point. Saying that I didn’t want to write it anymore, seeing as how it sucked almost all of my positive energy out of me. But, obviously, I didn’t let this get to me as I continued to write it. Most insults that I used for one character, I found online. And they were all incredibly hurtful. Reading them to myself before I placed them into the character’s dialogue made me sick. What was worse?

Studies show that 58 percent of bullying happens out of revenge, or the bully thinks that the victim deserves it. That made me lose a bit of sanity inside of myself, as I ranted for at least a half hour about how angry it made me. Who deserves the animosity that comes with some people? The vicious hatred? No one. But, apparently, in this world, people think that others need to be bullied. And you know what? It made me reflect as well. I was bullied before, and I never chose to do anything about it.

Yes. I have been in this sort of position. Not to where I would want to commit suicide . . . Not even close. But, to where I didn’t want to go to school? To where I hated looking at myself? Yes. Last year was the worst for me. Because I was different (and had a pretty cool low voice), people called me all types of things. Each of them made my self esteem crumble down. But then, I realized . . . What do their petty words matter to me? Absolutely nothing.

It’s a horrible experience, and I commend you if you’re staying rather strong through it. No one wants to be bullied, but people think that you might deserve it.

Why did I call this a play from the heart? Well, like I said, I’ve been bullied. So, in a way, I can connect with the character in my play. Again, nowhere near committing suicide, but hating myself day after day. So, do me a favor before you bully somebody . . . Think about how much your words could really hurt someone else.

Sticks and Stones? That’s a lie. Words are etched in forever.

App Crossed Line Between Joking and Bullying

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I am sure that I am not the only student sick of it, sick of the constant lecturing on bullying.  Always, teachers, guidance counselors, and outside “specialists” having us sit together in large groups and listen to the definition of “cyber bullying,” and what it means to be a “responsible bystander.”  By now, I have begun to tune out these lectures.  This is not because I think that bullying isn’t something important to discuss, but because it has been approached in the same black and white manner since I’ve been in the third grade.  Another reason I’m turned off by these lectures is because they clearly are not working.  A few weeks ago I witnessed the biggest display of bullying that I’ve seen in all my years in Hanover schools.  Through the app Yik Yak, things were said about students that were so revolting that I cannot even discuss them now.

 Recently I had discussed this issue with Dr. Raab, who made the decision to get the police involved in the matter.  My first question for him was what, in particular, made him call the police.  He responded by saying that he wanted to be sure he could trace the posts back to the phones they came from.  This would become even more of a necessity if the situation escalated, like it did in a high school in Marblehead, Mass. There, a bomb threat posted on the website caused a school-wide evacuation.  Other schools across the country have reported bullying with the app as well. Dr. Raab wanted to be sure that this would not happen at Hanover.  Additionally, I had asked him how he felt these posts effected the environment of the school.  He said that it caused to students to become paranoid.  Paranoid that someone was posting about them or that they would be caught for what they posted. 

For me, there were several things that seriously upset me about the day this notorious yak came charging into our school.  First of all, I was disturbed by how other students reacted to the posts.  Of course, there were many who were as troubled as I was about the day’s proceedings, but I was perturbed by the number of students that thought it was merely something to laugh about.  When it was discussed in class and others could see that I was upset by it, many of them turned to me and said, “Oh my God, you need to learn how to take a joke.”  It is not a joke and this kind of viewpoint is what makes this kind of bullying a frequent thing.  As they laugh, it’s giving power to whatever insanity was posted on the feed.  Lastly, whoever wrote those kinds of things on the Yik Yak wall must not understand what it does to people when they read posts like that about themselves.  I can’t imagine them writing it if they did.  They could not have known that it would send a girl home from school crying, a girl who isn’t able to tell her mom why she’s crying because she is too ashamed to say what others are saying about her.  They definitely could not have known about the boy who would dread going to school because he knows what people are going to think as he passes by.  If they did know what they were doing, then that is a cruelty that I’m not sure I can understand.

New Year, New You: New Year’s Resolutions at HHS

When Christmas is over and the final seconds of 2013 have passed, everyone partakes in a classic tradition: the New Year’s Resolution. It is that time of year again where everyone strives to set goals for themselves to accomplish during the year ahead, and people make promises that they hope to fulfill before the next New Year’s countdown. These resolutions can contain anything from a distant dream somebody finally hopes to reach, or a simple task one wants to begin incorporating into their daily habits. Some even want to start the new year off with a new way of thinking, or by adopting a new trait that they are trying to weave into their personality. The endless ideas behind New Year’s resolutions are truly unique- they only depend on an individual’s mind, and are only limited by what we think to be the limits of possibility. New Year’s resolutions can really provide a glimpse into people’s minds, and what better way to gain insight into someone’s thoughts than asking them about their goals for the new year?

Hanover High School students gave up a variety of answers when asked about their New Year’s resolution. Jamie Knight, a freshman, said “I want to be more friendly and be more social.” Junior Sara White resolves to “do more things that make me happy.” Emily Hennessy, a sophomore, jokingly had to say, “Mine is to actually study and do my work considering my midterm grades…and get a higher score in Flappy Bird.” Bryan Connors, a junior, decided “to stop procrastinating,” a goal I’m sure many other students could relate to.

Overall, the students of Hanover High School seem to be excited for the upcoming year, whether for improving their grades or checking something off their bucket list. This new year will be a big year and I wish the best of luck to everyone and their future New Years endeavors.

Snow Days: One Senior says BRING IT ON!

By Sean Meehan

When it comes to snow, myself, and the rest of the Senior class, for the first time in years, are all down on our knees praying, that’s right, PRAYING for as many snow days as possible. Why, you ask? Simple, the Senior class here at HHS is the one group of individuals in the entire school district that does not have to make up any snow days, regardless of how many we may have this winter. I have waited years for this winter, and now it has arrived. In conclusion, in response to your question “What is your opinion on snow?”, I say….BRING IT ON!

snow day2
The view from Mrs. McHugh’s door on Jan.3, 2014.
Photo by Mrs. McHugh
Mrs. McHugh’s husband shovels out their driveway on Jan. 3, 2014.

Virtual High School: For Independent Students

By Calley Madison

Photo by Mrs. McHugh
Calley works on her VHS course in the library.

Here at HHS, we offer a program called “Virtual High School.” Virtual High School classes are for classes either not offered at HHS, or classes you wish to take in place of classes for school.  There are math, science, English, humanities courses and language courses. There are college level, honors and AP. In the fall, I took a course called “Career Awareness,” which helped me learn about the profession I am interested in, and soon I will be starting “Contemporary Issues in American Law and Justice.”

The class is entirely online and you get one period a day in the library to do the work, but it is not as easy as it sounds. The classes can have a wide variety of work, from barely any to an overwhelming amount, and you need to be very on task and work well with time. You see, each assignment is due by a certain day, and if you post late, points will be deducted. The assignments can be essays, group projects, discussion posts or just word searches but either way, your teachers look for the effort you put in.

If you get behind for some reason, you can let your teacher know — my VHS teacher, Mrs. Allen, gave us her e-mail, cell phone and home phone number — and you can access the course from home. Yes, the VHS website can be accessed from any computer  with just your username and password.

Your classmates are one of the most interesting parts of VHS. Your classmates can be from anywhere all around the world. I have people from Romania, Turkey, England, Washington, Florida and Massachusetts in my class. You can message these people and  learn many things about them, where they live, and how it differs from us here at HHS. You also discuss topics with them and work together on some projects.

I really enjoy taking VHS classes because I am very on-top-of-things and organized, also because it really makes me feel as if I am learning better. The VHS courses are challenging, they expect you to manage your own time, stay organized, and take tests and quizzes like real classes. I would certainly take another VHS class in the future, not because it’s a relaxed atmosphere, but simply because I learn better alone and managing all my own things on my own time.

A VHS class is not for everyone. If you are easily distracted, disorganized, and do not work well with a deadline, you’re going to feel trapped and overwhelmed. In this circumstance, risk is not always the best choice, and you should talk to the librarian, guidance counselor, and parents before trying to enroll in a class.  

Matt’s Declassified College Application Survival Guide

One day during senior year, it strikes you — the real world is drawing closer and closer. The past four years of your high school experience and all of the memories that you made throughout begin to flash before your eyes. The college process is here, and it’s time to prepare yourself; it’s application time. These are a few tips that will help you through the process, whether you’re a senior preparing for college or even a freshman who has just started high school. This is Matt’s Declassified College Application Survival Guide.

After completing my own process of sending out a few applications, visiting some colleges, researching majors, and seeking information from other sources, I can safely say that it can all be done without much stress; time management is key. With all of the stressful and time-consuming activities clogging your everyday life, it is hard to put much thought into college until the last possible moment. I understand that everyone, including the seniors, still have time to figure out what they may want their futures to entail. But I highly recommended you start as soon as possible.  My advice to you is to begin researching what you’re interested in. Begin research as early as you can, I began my research when I was a freshman. Find jobs that may interest you when you’re older, jobs that will fit who you are. The better you know yourself and what you like, the easier the college process will be. If you like helping people, you may go into a medical field. For those more sociable, business may be of interest to you. Another thing I would highly recommend is deciding what type of college best fits you. Colleges cover all sorts of different spectrums — large, small, beautiful city, beautiful campus, sports, clubs, etc. You may also want to keep in mind the distance you would be willing to go for college. For me, I wanted to stay in the New England area. Not only did I want to stay around here because it would be cheaper on travel expenses, but I also wanted to stay closer to home because I’m too much of a momma’s boy. But that’s just me, everyone is different and I want to encourage you to chase your personal college dreams.

When the time is approaching for you to begin sending out applications (either fall for early action or winter for early decision of your senior year), there are a few things you need to keep in mind: Deadlines, The Common App, Recommendations, and your college essay. The deadlines may be the most stressful aspect of the applying process, so procrastinators, take note! To find success with applications you must stay on top of deadlines at all times; colleges don’t want slackers! The common application is also very important, it is more or less your whole high school career on one application. This is the part of the applying process where you list your test scores, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, etc. This is what you will be showing colleges what you have accomplished these past few years, so don’t forget anything important! The recommendations are just a way of letting colleges know what sort of student you are from a teacher’s perspective. You have the ability to choose any teacher or coach that you think knows best what kind of student you truly are. I recommend choosing a teacher who you have shown true determination, well-maintained grades, and have participated positively in their class. The last part of the applying process is the college essay. The essay gives students the opportunity to show colleges both their writing skills and what has shaped them into who they are today. If there is a range of topics, be sure to choose one that best fits who you are as a person. Also, try not to stray very far from the topic at hand; keep your essay focused on what you are trying to prove or the change that you are trying to develop. Only add the necessary details, omitting anything that could distract from your overall purpose.

I hope these tips come in handy for anyone looking to manage the stress of applying to college! College is right around the corner for all of us so there is no better time to prepare than now. So what are you waiting for? Go do some research, visit a campus, and find out what interests you!

Changes to Pep Rally Didn’t Dampen Spirit

Leading up to this year’s annual pep rally, rumors ran rampant through the halls of Hanover High School. Students were speculating to each other about the supposed changes made by student council to the yearly rally, which has been infamous for flooding students with spirit and school pride at the end of a long, creative, and colorful spirit week. Some whispered about plans to boycott, and some mumbled about the possibility of not being allowed at the rally unless you played a sport. But regardless of whether every student was in agreement with the new changes, they all managed to give the new rally format a chance. Whether the rally was a success would be left up to the students to decide.

During years past on the day of the rally, students were encouraged to wear their class color to support their grade, and would also be sectioned off in the bleachers to sit with their coordinating classes in the gym at the end of the day. A series of events and activities would follow, participants being volunteers from each grade that would compete against each other.

This year, however, this classic routine was broken and changes were made to certain aspects. For instance, now, instead of being sectioned off by grade, students were allowed to sit wherever they wanted. In addition, the student population was encouraged to wear simply “Hanover” colors and apparel instead of their class colors. And instead of having volunteers from each grade participate in various events, seniors from each fall sports team were required to compete against each other in activities like tug-of-war and basketball knock-out.

Students at first disagreed with these changes, claiming that limiting the activities to only seniors who play fall sports is discriminatory against the students who don’t play sports. However in years past, everyone has always had a chance to participate, and nobody stepped up! Last year, I had the unfortunate experience of trying to convince my classmates to sign up for activities. There were so many spots and so very few students willing to take them! Not all freshmen were brave enough to step up and participate alongside seniors in front of the entire school, and with these new policies, they are spared from doing just that.

Though reactions may have been mixed both in anticipation to these changes and after they had been made, I personally think that these changes were much-needed and beneficial for the high school community as a whole. At the last rally, it took incredible effort on the part of the teachers to coerce the students down from the bleachers to join in the activities. But this year, the whole event went smoothly. The events segued easily one after another, with no awkward pauses in between while teachers rallied to cajole students down from the safety of the bleachers.

After the final shouts and screams as the rally fizzled to an end, students went home either satisfied or displeased with the outcome of the newly changed rally. In my perspective, the whole experience seemed much better in regards to its flow. It certainly did a great job of spreading spirit and pride through the students of HHS, demonstrated, if not by anything else, than by the echoing shouts bouncing off the gym walls as students hollered their excitement and pride for their school. The whole purpose of the rally, after all, is to bring together all of the classes as one and unite Hanover High in all of its diversity. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which class is the loudest and most vicious, nor does it matter which grade wins at tug-of-war. It’s about being brought together in all of Hanover High’s blue, gold, and white glory. And I think the rally truly did accomplish that.

 

Federal Government Shutdown

For about two weeks the Federal Government was shut down. As just about any American knows, this was due to the inability of the House of Representatives and the Senate to reach an agreement on the Federal budget. Really, it boiled down to the fact that House Republicans wanted parts of the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called Obamacare) repealed, while Senate Democrats and President Obama want to make sure it stayed on the books. In the absence of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans would only consider a budget that “defunds” (de facto repeals) segments of the Affordable Care Act that they do not like. Mainly this includes the health care exchanges and penalty for Americans not having health insurance. Also, many Republicans were mad at the fact that pre-existing health  conditions can no longer be used as a reason to deny coverage. This may be well be because they have a financial interest or political connections to insurance companies. While Republicans are certainly not alone in this conflict of interest, to let it rise above their responsibility of running the country is reprehensible. In other words, the government shutdown can be viewed merely as a political squabble gone out of control.

One of the many historical parks closed due to Federal government shutdown.
One of the many historical parks that was closed due to Federal government shutdown.

What the shutdown meant for Americans is that the vital, often forgotten government services of which they have come to rely upon every day were unavailable for their use. The largest example of this was the National Park Service. It’s easy to forget the wealth of historical places and outdoor open spaces that the American citizen is lucky enough to use for free. There are plenty of national parks in the Boston area that were directly affected by the shutdown. One of the best examples is the Lexington and Concord park. The Battle of Lexington and Concord was arguably one of the most important battles in American history. To have it closed to a political squabble is a travesty. Not to mention the countless school field trips that have probably been rearranged last minute. Of course, the federal government was unable to pay these expenses if it did not have a budget.

However, this does not mean that the federal government was shut down entirely. “Excepted” functions, as they are called, were still in operation. “Excepted” functions were mainly ones that are important to the preservation of life or property. For example, this means that while the National Parks were closed, there was money available for security to make sure that no one went into the closed parks. In other words, it really cost money in order for the federal government to be able to save money. Also, the military was wholly unaffected by the seeming “shutdown.” Finally, and this was the part that made most Americans’ blood boil, the Health Care online exchanges opened anyway because funding for them was already appropriated in the long term federal budget. These hotly debated online exchanges are simply ways for Americans to directly compare different insurance rates in a central location. Before the implementation of these exchanges, it was sometimes impossible to receive a straight quote on the cost of health insurance. In the eyes of the Republicans, the point of the shutdown was to prevent these exchanges from being opened. That also proves the irony and general pointlessness of the shutdown. Simply put, Republican political jockeying achieved nothing at all.

Ultimately, the shutdown was truly insane when one considers all of the people who were involuntarily furloughed. While all the politicians on Capitol Hill were being paid, around a million other federal workers were not. These workers have families to support and, with no paychecks for two weeks,  had to come up with way alternate ways to make ends meet. In fact, numerous blog articles focused on how federal workers should prioritize paying their bills. While Congress did guarantee back pay when the government reopens, it did not help workers who had bills due during the shutdown. Why, in this bad economy, was it necessary to put people out of work just to make a political point? It never was. In the end, the federal government shutdown benefitted no one and really just hurt average Americans. Not members of the wealthy “one percent,” but members of the working class “99 percent.”

 

Make Memories at This Year’s Homecoming Dance!

Tis’ the season for warm sweaters, apple picking, and terrifying haunted house rides; what could be better? One simple solution to that question would be: Homecoming! As the first month of school fades to October, there is always one thing on every high school student’s mind: ‘What in the world should I wear to homecoming?’ Now, all jokes aside, this high school event is (in my opinion) the best that the school has to offer. I am a senior here at HHS and I would like to cordially invite students of all ages to this event, as it is going to be a night to remember. Even as cliché as that may sound, it’s true. This is an event that truly introduces you into the whole “High School Experience.” Whether it be meeting new friends or seeing old ones on the dance floor, there is so much that can be taken from it.

In years past homecoming has raked in a lot of kids. The exciting festivities range from not only the thrilling football game but to the wacky and crazy music that may be played.  I remember one year students cleared a circle for others to have a dance off, everyone’s jaws dropped for that one student who could break dance. Another year, everyone in the gym was swinging their arms dancing to ‘Gangnum Style.’ At other times I remember my friends and I would always be in a group dancing and having a great time. There is a lot to be taken from this dance: the memories, the superb food, the pictures, and most importantly; the dancing. What’s better than food and dancing with your friends? Now I understand homecoming isn’t for everyone, but I would suggest attending this year whether it be your first, or last year attending. If none of that has sold you, just know that I have never heard of someone regretting going to the Hanover High School homecoming.

For this event it is highly recommended for you guys to dress up in a suit and tie, or dress pants and dress shoes. For you girls, it is simply a semi-formal dress and usually heels. Before the dance begins students will be breathalyzed at the door and will be motioned to gather around the cafeteria to take pictures and meet up with friends. After, doors will open and the dance will commence. The dance usually runs about three hours, 7:30 to 10:30. In years past we have had no problems and safety has been well-maintained. The dance is a safe and friendly place where all students are welcome. So what are you waiting for? Get up and practice those dance moves! Homecoming is just around the corner!

The dance will be held on October 26th in the high school gymnasium. Tickets are on sale now and are $30! Get yours before it’s too late!