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: Top News Stories of 2020

By Callia Gilligan, ’22

Staff Writer

2020 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. The news cycle seemed to be one of the greatest sources of stress for the global population, with one major story after another. Here are the top 10 news stories of 2020:

  • Australian Wild Fires

A year ago in a major climate crisis, wildfires raged their way through the Australian bush, killing much of its vegetation and animals. They first started burning in July of 2019 and continued into March of 2020. Scientists believe that nearly three billion animals were affected by the fires. However, the Australian people, government, and most importantly, firefighters showed great resilience in combating such a devastating loss. 

  • Assassination of Qasem Soleimani 

On January 3rd, an American drone targeted and killed Iranian military general Quasem Soleimani near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Subsequently, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution to expel all foreign troops, while Iran moved toward abandoning the 2015 international nuclear deal. The attack greatly increased tensions between the United States, Iraq and Iran. 

  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Give Up Senior Royal Title

What came as a shock to many, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down and gave up their position as Senior Royals of England. This came less than a year after the birth of their son, Archibald. The former Duke and Duchess made it clear that they wished to give their son as normal a life as possible, shielded from the public eye and scrutiny the royal family often faces. The family then took residence in Montecito, California!

  • Trump Impeached, Acquitted 

 At the end of 2019, President Trump faced the Articles of Impeachment of Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress from House of Representatives Democrats for his actions during a phone call with the Ukrainian President. Trump became the third President to be impeached and the first to have a fully partisan impeachment, as not a single representative from the Republican party voted to convict. His Senate trial carried into 2020; however, the Senate with a Republican majority voted to acquit him, the Articles were dropped and he was not removed from office. 

  • Coronavirus and Stay-At-Home Orders

Of course, this would not be a 2020 list without mention of COVID. Outside of politics, the Coronavirus was probably the biggest news story in the early months of last year. However, it all culminated locally the week of March 13th when stay-at-home orders from almost all 50 states was officially put in place. Schools were canceled, businesses were closed and masks were required everywhere we went. For the remainder of the year, COVID-19 was the centerpiece of the news cycle.

  • George Floyd Murder and Black Lives Matter 

On May 25th in Minneapolis, an African American man named George Floyd died after a police officer suffocated him by kneeling on his neck for eight minutes. Just a few weeks earlier, video footage of the death of Muhammed Arbery, a Black man murdered by two white men while he was jogging in Georgia, came to light as well. And thus erupted mass protests in all 50 states and many other countries against racism and police brutality in America. While many reflected and educated themselves on the issues in our country during this time,  others emerged spewing extreme hate and bigotry. The long-brewing divide in this country grew worse amid many occurrences of violence. 

  • The Biden-Harris Ticket

In August, in what became a rare glimmer of hope in a difficult year, Joe Biden officially announced his Vice Presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris! The choice made Harris, a senator from California, the first woman of color to be included on a major party ticket. In April, when Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race to be the Democratic nominee for president, Biden was the presumptive nominee. However, he was officially nominated in  August during the Democratic National Convention. 

  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg Dies

The notorious RBG, a longtime justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, passed away on September 18th. The American public mourned her death. As a lawyer, Ginsberg was a champion for equality in reproductive rights, workplace discrimination, and criminal procedure. She emphasized the need for men and women to have equal rights and in the 1975 Weinberger v. Weisenfeld argued that fathers who are widowed should be entitled to the same benefits as widowed mothers. Her fight continued after her appointment to the Supreme Court during the Clinton administration. She was a beloved woman and a feminist icon. After her death, her vacancy on the Court was filled by conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett. 

  • The 2020 Presidential Election 

It dominated the news for all of 2020 – from the debates to the party conventions, to the endless political ads. But on November 3rd, Americans cast their ballots for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. For four days, the election was all anyone talked about. Due to coronavirus, many voters cast their ballots through the mail. This led to what felt like an excruciatingly long ballot-counting process. It was a very close call, resulting in recounts in Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. But on Saturday, November 7th, Democrat Joe Biden was officially declared the winner of the race. This meant vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, would be the first woman, Black and South Asian person to hold such a high office. On December 13th, electors cast their votes, certifying the election result. Joe Biden was able to flip many swing states that had voted for Donald Trump in 2016 including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan. In addition, Georgia flipped to blue (even on the Senator level after the January 6th runoff election) for the first time since 1992. Republican Donald Trump and his supporters refused to accept the results, fighting for months in courts across the country and continuing to insist the election was rigged even after the new president was inaugurated in January 2021.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine 

What felt like the longest year in existence was brought to a happy close with the hopeful news of a vaccine in the near future. In December, Pfizer announced a vaccine with a 95% efficacy and Moderna followed soon after. Almost two weeks later, the first doses were administered. While there have been some hiccups in vaccine distribution, we are all thankful to know that hopefully soon COVID will be a memory of the past!

While 2020 challenged us all in many ways that we were unprepared for, hope is not lost. While battling racial injustice, extreme civil unrest, and a global pandemic, we have all proved that as a society, we have the ability to persevere, through even the darkest of times.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.”

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Year in Review: Comfort is the Top Trend

By Grace Van Duyn, ’22

Staff Writer

The past year proved to be quite a unique one. Even though people had different experiences during the pandemic, I think most of us can say that we saw the cultural trends of our lives – and those of the world – change drastically. 

When schools and office buildings shut down in March 2020, we found ourselves doing all of our work online. Millions of people were meeting over video calls with teachers, bosses, friends, and family. Many of us had never heard of Zoom before and had never worked or studied remotely.  Most of us started off with great intentions of bringing our best selves to this new situation. Even though we may have gotten dressed in the first stages of zooming, it wasn’t long before a lot of us decided to stick with wearing pajamas. Comfort quickly became a priority. People who used to show up to work in formal suits had no need for those types of clothes when working remotely. In fact, stores found that pajamas sales experienced a 143% increase in 2020. Comfort was a big priority for many during 2020, and if we weren’t sleeping in blankets, we were wearing them. The Comfy was originally featured on Shark Tank in 2017, and due to its popularity – especially during 2020 – it has become one of the most successful products that has ever been on the show. There is no doubt that this cozy and one size fits all combination blanket and sweatshirt was the perfect 2020 uniform for remote work and school.

Along with trying to stay as comfortable as possible, many people wanted to eat good food. Food is a source of comfort and people were trying to find good food options while stuck at home. Instead of eating out at their favorite restaurants, more people were eating at home. People were looking for familiar and comforting foods to get them through their time in quarantine. Grubhub made a list of its top 10 most popular orders of 2020. The top five on the list were a spicy chicken sandwich, a chicken burrito bowl, chicken wings, waffle fries, and cold brew coffee. 

After getting comfortable with being comfortable all the time – and after too many takeout orders, many people next found themselves working out at home. With gyms and workout studios closed or severely restricted, people tried to find easy ways to exercise at home. People found themselves buying workout bands, weights, and even thousand dollar stationary bikes. Even people who didn’t have access to equipment found workouts on YouTube. As more people set up in-home gyms, stores across the country sold out of weights.  Bicycles were also almost impossible to find over as people tried to get outside and exercise.  

Music was another way we kept ourselves sane during this time. Some of the most listened to songs of 2020 were Blinding Lights, Dance Monkey, and Before You Go. Artists like Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, and Dua Lipa came out with multiple songs that were extremely popular during this time.

Many of us found some of our favorite songs in 2020 on the popular app called TikTok. While it became popular in 2019, the pandemic pushed people who had long resisted it into joining. Some of the top TikTok trends of 2020 were what I eat in a day, NYU quarantine meals, whipped coffee, election memes, and anything with pets. People of all ages joined in.

Sources :

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Year in Review: HHS Staff Finds New Ways to Unwind in 2020

By Ashley Stracco, ’24

Staff Writer

In the year of Coronavirus – also known as 2020 – we all had a great deal of time on our hands that we did not know what to do with. Some of us watched TikToks, reels on Instagram, and shows and movies provided by multiple streaming services. Others spent their time gaming and sleeping. Some people obtained a new skill. I, for one, started baking and cooking for my family. My specialty: banana muffins. 

Our HHS staff was no different. In between mastering remote teaching and dealing with other pandemic changes, they needed something for stress relief or entertainment. Some rediscovered a hobby they used to love, while some picked up an entirely – and sometimes surprising – new skill.

Mr. Henderson, an English teacher, has taken up scootering and skateboarding with his family. “I’m terrible at it – truly, terrible – but I find it gives us all a good laugh together,” he said. “I’ve also been playing more video games, mostly with my daughters, with some of the pandemic time. If it goes on much longer, I’m hoping to pick up the guitar again.”

Ms. Tarkanian, a special education teacher, worked on improving her skills baking and decorating sugar cookies. “I make the cookies and royal icing from scratch and then put my skills to work.”

Mrs. Youngworth, a French teacher, started doing puzzles. ” ‘Crazy, drive you a little bit insane, all the pieces look alike’ puzzles,” she said. “I found it very calming to sit there away from a screen and sort through the colors and shapes.” The puzzles were something that everyone in the family could help with as much, or as little, as they wanted to, she explained, and they framed several to hang in the family room when they were done. “Everyone signed and dated the back as we finished each one, so we will have a record of the craziness that was 2020 piece by piece.”

Mrs. Gately, who teaches Spanish, also got hooked on puzzles. “I had forgotten how much I liked to do puzzles as a kid,” she said. “I can’t believe how it completely frees my mind from the outside world and helps me to focus on the simple task of matching shapes and designs. Very satisfying!!!  Now, we always have a puzzle in progress on a table.”

Mr. Decie, who teaches science, rediscovered a role-playing game that he enjoys called Dungeons and Dragons. Created in the 1970s, the game allows players to create characters and go on adventures, all designed by the player known as a Dungeon Master. His games often included fellow science teacher Mrs. Emerson, who also got into TikTok during the pandemic. “Watching Tiktok makes time fly by and makes me feel like all my crazy isn’t crazy,” she said. “I love the parents acting like their teens.

Guidance Secretary Mrs. Gallagher tackled a few do-it-yourself furniture painting projects. “I found these few projects a great distraction from the stress of the pandemic that I could not control,” she said. “They helped take my mind from the negative worries.”

Mr. Sprague, a special education teacher, built a treehouse for his kids.

It’s probably no surprise that Mrs. McCusker, a history teacher and former school librarian, spent her extra time during the pandemic reading. 

Ms. Johnson, a special education paraprofessional, rekindled her love of art. “Because of the pandemic, I have been able to spend more time painting and drawing,” she said. “I especially enjoy painting on beach stones and writing inspirational messages on them.” 

Ms. Rapalje, the school adjustment counselor, also enjoyed rock painting. “It is very calming and meditative,” she said.

English teacher Mrs. McDonnell used her time during quarantine to get back to yoga and take more walks. “These activities allowed me daily to mentally refresh during a stressful time,” she said. 

Baking bread and taking up cross-stitch have helped Mrs. Stukenborg, assistant principal, through the pandemic. Mrs. Parry,  a science and math teacher, also started making sourdough.

Cooking became a passion for Mrs. Coates, a history teacher. “It allowed me the opportunity to use a creative flare as well as serve up some new and delicious recipes!”

Math teacher Mrs. Thompson has been having dance parties with her 3-year-old son during quarantine. “Dancing is a hobby of mine, and I haven’t been able to dance much during the pandemic,” she said. “We talk about how to move our bodies, how different movements can portray feelings, and it’s just been so much fun for us!”

Drama director Mr. Fahey returned to writing music, plays and poetry. “It was great to get back to writing and express my ideas during a difficult time

Mr. Rodday, a special education teacher, has been riding bikes with his family. 

In an effort to cut back on screen time for her and her youngest daughter, paraprofessional Mrs. Mann began making chalk signs and other home decor items. “It is very simple and can be very relaxing,” she said.

School nurse Mrs. Davis developed the skill of contract tracing for COVID-19 – something she’s put to good use this school year.  She also helped provide for the elderly over the summer with little to no contact. 

Mrs. Nixon, a special education teacher, learned to crochet. “I always wanted to learn how, so with the additional time at home, my sister taught me.”

Creating music playlists helped special education teacher Mrs. Fraser. “When I was younger (high school/college years), I used to make playlists for family and friends and it would relieve a lot of stress.”

Mrs. Curtis, a Spanish teacher, learned how to cut men’s hair and how to do embroidery. 

Math teacher Mrs. Turocy enjoyed geocaching. “It  is like treasure hunting . . . following GPS to a location on a trail to find someone else’s ‘cache’ they hid there.”

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. 

When Life is Stranger Than Fiction

By Mrs. McHugh

When schools shut down last March due to COVID-19, after I stockpiled canned goods and toilet paper,  one of the first things I did was watch Contagion. This 2011 movie, starring Matt Damon and Kate Winslet, is about a deadly pandemic that scientists are desperate to track to its source in hopes of finding a way to fight it.  And then I watched Outbreak, a 1995 movie with a similar plot.

Why would I choose these, when they so closely mirrored what was happening in real life? I’d like to think I was trying to process the scary and ever-changing news. This has happened before; a virus emerges, a cure is found, life goes on. Maybe I was looking for reassurance.

Or maybe I was just crazy.

Neither answer explains why, as the quarantine dragged on, I found myself picking up books about pandemics and plagues. There’s definitely no shortage of them, as I found when researching this article. I’ve always been drawn to dystopian fiction, stories about life after a cataclysmic event, how people go on. Often the plagues create zombies or other monsters that the remaining humans must fight. Sometimes, the true horrors come from other people. It’s the stories of resilience and endurance that draw me in. While I struggled to work from home, cut off from friends and family, afraid that a trip to the grocery store could make me sick with an illness that had terrible consequences, I guess I needed those.

Below are quick recaps of some of the books I read during the pandemic that were about a pandemic. Farther down, I list books I either read in the past or I’ve just heard good things about. If you’re like me, and looking for a story you can relate to in this crazy world, check one out.  Hopefully, someday soon, these books will be the escape from reality they were meant to be.

My Pandemic Reads

The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks – This story is about the OG pandemic, the Black Plague that hit England in the 17th century. With primitive medicine and backward ideas, villages hit by the plague would be sealed from the outside world in hopes of containing the spread of death. The main character, Anna, is a housemaid when the plague hits. But as the village reels, she discovers her talent for healing. She doesn’t just survive, she grows. Based on a true story.

Afterland by Lauren Beukes – When a mysterious virus kills most of the men in the world, a woman struggles to keep her and her son alive, and out of the clutches of a government that wants to experiment on survivors in hopes of finding a cure. Meanwhile, her sister tries to capitalize on her nephew’s potential to bring her profit.

Survivor Song by Jacob Tremblay – Set in Stoughton and the surrounding area, this story takes place over the span of a few hours in one terrible day. A new virus has emerged, similar to rabies and spread by saliva – but with a much shorter incubation period. That means hours after being bitten,  victims turn rabid and vicious to others. Hospitals are overrun, fights erupt at grocery stores and the military is trying to restore calm. When pregnant Natalie is bitten, she enlists her doctor friend on a longshot quest to get one of the few available vaccinations. If she can’t save herself, maybe she can save her baby.

Other Recommendations

Contaminated by Em Garner – Two years after a trendy diet drink spread a mysterious illness that turned victims into zombies, the government is trying to restore society.  They’ve placed shock collars on the infected “connies” that will either control them or kill them. Teenaged Velvet tries to keep her and her 10-year-old sister alive. When she learns that her mother is among the infected who are set to be put to death, Velvet risks everything to save her.

Quarantined by Lex Thomas – This four-book series explores a virus that makes children deadly to adults. When the students at McKinley School are infected, the building is quarantined under military rule. When gangs form and battle to survive, misfit David tries to keep him and his brother alive.

The Wall by Marlene Haushofer – An ordinary woman awakes one day to find there is a wall at the end of her property and everyone else has vanished. In extraordinary times, she must live by her wits – and anything she can find on her land – to survive.

Blindness  by Jose Saramago – When an epidemic of blindness hits a city, the residents show the best – and worst – of mankind.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – This story explores what it means to survive. After a mysterious flu decimates the population, a traveling band of artists, actors and musicians strives to keep humanity alive.  Others, however, see the breakdown in civilization as a chance to wield brutal power.

The Stand by Stephen King – A military experiment wipes out 99 percent of the world, and the handful of survivors must choose sides. Will they follow the kind but frail Mother Abigail or the powerful and cruel Randall Flagg? Considered to be  one of King’s finest books.

Severance by Ling Ma – Candace, a millennial living in New York, practically sleepwalks through life. So she doesn’t initially notice when a plague sweeps through the city, killing everyone who doesn’t flee. When she meets a group of survivors, who promise salvation in a destination called the Facility, she must decide whether it’s safer to join them or stay on her own. This satirical novel is part science fiction, part quirky coming-of-age story.

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Mrs. Stukenborg Has Compassion Down to a Science

By Natalie Mowbray, ’22

Staff Writer

Mrs. Kelly Stukenborg has been Hanover High School’s assistant principal since October 2018. Whether they’re sent to her office or see her in the halls, students know they will be greeted by a compassionate person who clearly takes pride in our school.

Where did you grow up and attend college? 

I grew up in Weymouth, where I currently live! After high school, I attended Saint Michaels University in Vermont.

What was your college experience like? 

It was crazy! I was a biology major. Originally, I was on the Pre-Medical track and intended to become a doctor. I was very active in helping my professors with their research or working with local social agencies to help bring about social change in Burlington, Vermont.  While playing college soccer, I broke my back in two places. I had to work really hard in my coursework because I had to take a year off to recover from two surgeries to correct my fractured lower back.  I did it, though, and graduated with my class. 

What inspired you to become a teacher and later an assistant principal?

In my senior year in college, I had to teach a class on the case studies of Hippocrates and Galen (ancient Greeks).  After I taught the class, my advisor told me that I should be a teacher.  She had me teach some biology labs that year and I loved it.  After college, I went right into graduate school to get my master’s degree in biology and education at Northeastern University and then I started teaching in Brockton.  As an educator, I naturally gravitated to leadership roles and in 2006 became a science department head at North Quincy High School.  After that, I went to Weymouth High School where I was a dean for a year and then their Assistant Principal.

What classes did you teach in the past before becoming an assistant principal? I have taught biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, integrated science, and biological anthropology.

Where did you teach before coming to HHS?

 I have taught in Brockton, Quincy, and Weymouth.

What are your hobbies outside of school and what do you/your family do for fun?

I have a husband named Brian, who I met during college. I also have a daughter named Maeve, who is 18 years old, and a son named Shane, who is 16. I play in adult soccer leagues and, during the pandemic, I have taken up needlepoint.

What is your favorite part about teaching/being an assistant principal?  Helping others.

‘The Play’s The Thing’ for Mr. Fahey

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

For three years, Mr. Collin Fahey has been the technical theater and public speaking teacher at Hanover High, along with directing the HHS musicals and plays. Before Mr. Fahey was a teacher in Hanover, he taught at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. He was a part of their teaching fellow program, where he taught intro to drama and honors drama for one year. 

Born in Brockton, Mr. Fahey earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. If he couldn’t be a teacher, he said,  he would be some kind of performer or writer. “Any form of performance, really: stand up comedy; acting onstage or on camera; writing, recording and performing music,” he explained. “I’ve (also) always loved English, reading, coming up with short stories and writing poetry.”

Mr. Fahey has directed seven plays and musicals at Hanover High, but if he had to pick his favorite, he would say it was At the Bottom of Lake Missoula by Ed Monk, presented two years ago for the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG)  Festival. “It was very special, as it was my first play I directed for HHS and it was the first time HHS moved on to the semi-final round in the competition.”

Like many other things this year, the drama program has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The biggest loss for drama this year came with the cancellation of our annual fall musical,” he said. Instead, Mr. Fahey and the Drama Club have had to find creative ways to continue to spread the joy of the arts. They have, through songs and monologues presented virtually with the rest of the performing arts department in the PRISM concert and holiday showcase.

The program is also preparing for this year’s METG Festival. The annual daylong competition, which Hanover High has hosted in recent years, brings schools from around the region to compete in hopes of advancing to a state final. This year, each school’s one-act play will be filmed and submitted. The HHS Drama Club will be performing 4A.M. by Jonathan Dorf, which focuses on different students and what they do and think in the early hours of the morning. 

“Although this year has its challenges, HHS drama is up for the task and excited at the prospects!” Mr. Fahey said. “I’m incredibly proud of the work students have done thus far, and I’m extremely grateful to continue to have the opportunity to create and collaborate here at HHS!”

Mr. Fahey feels a deep connection with the students he works with.  “To all drama students, past and present,” he said. “I appreciate you all so much, don’t be a stranger!”