Some Schools Reach State Goal for Dropping Masks; HHS Not There Yet

By Paulina Leskow, ’24

Staff Writer

The year is now 2022. It has been almost two full years since our world shut down due to the coronavirus. The virus, however, has not stopped. With new variants continuing to emerge, the mask policy remains in effect in Hanover schools. Whether vaccinated or not, all students and staff must wear a mask in the school building and during sporting events. 

The new year brought about some new policies, which include the town of Hanover strongly recommending that people wear masks in common areas like restaurants. In addition, the state extended the mask mandate in schools until the end of February; it was initially set to expire in mid-January. The Centers for Disease Control has also shortened the quarantine time for asymptomatic people.

Although these are important policies, many would say the most significant one is that a school with 80 percent of students and staff fully vaccinated can go mask-free. Several schools in the surrounding area no longer require masks, including Norwell High School, Cohasset Middle School and Cohasset High School. Hanover High School is at 77 percent vaccinated, according to a recent email from Patricia Smith, the district’s director of health services. Cedar School, Center School, and Hanover Middle School vaccination rates are currently less than 60 percent, Mrs. Smith said. Once a school reaches the 80 percent mark required by the state, local officials can decide whether to drop or continue its mask mandate.

HHS students have differing opinions on masks at school.

“It would be safer to keep them on for a bit longer,” said junior Melissa Manning. “Even with everyone wearing masks, many people continue to get sick and having masks off would increase that rate of sickness.”

Another student, who asked to be anonymous, said that when enough people are vaccinated, Hanover schools should go mask-free. ”Once we hit that vaccination rate, those who received the vaccine will be protected, and those who did not can choose to either wear a mask or face the consequences of the virus,” the student said.

No matter what opinions you have about the vaccine, masks, and the coronavirus, it is always important to stay safe and help keep yourself and others healthy. The school district continues to administer pool testing and has begun at-home testing for students and staff who opt into that program.

Featured image: https://www.edweek.org/leadership/what-does-the-cdcs-new-mask-recommendation-mean-for-schools/2021/05

Drama Club Prepares One-Act for State Festival

By Callia Gilligan, ’22

Staff Writer

The Hanover High School Drama Club is alive and well and participating once again in the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild’s Drama Festival with their presentation of Badger by Don Zolidis. 

The METG Drama Festival is an annual theatrical competition. Schools gather together and each presents a 40-minute one-act piece, with just 5 minutes to put together and strike, or take down, their sets. At the end of the day, each play is scored and three winners are named. Drama Festival is a wonderful and exciting day, an event that HHS Drama annually participates in. 

In the past, HHS has presented shows such as The Scheme of the Driftless Shifter, an over-the-top comedy. In 2019, the club advanced to the semi-finals with its production of At the Bottom of Lake Missoula. Last year, due to the pandemic, the festival was moved to a virtual presentation. Hanover still participated with 4 A.M. by Johnathon Dorf, submitting a video of the performance. 

This year, with the festival returning to an in-person event scheduled for March 19th or 20th, Hanover is presenting Badger by Don Zolidis. The play focuses on four women working in a munitions factory during World War II and the challenges they face as women in the workforce. It is both a heartbreaking and uplifting story that paints a strong picture of the hardships of domestic life during the war. 

The cast is led by Sammy Burke (‘22) as Rose, Morgan Gentile (‘22) as Irene, Lauren Casey (‘22) as Grace, and Caris Mann (‘22) as Barbara. Any good show includes some romance and this play does not disappoint. Ben Manning (‘22) plays Tim, another factory worker who takes an interest in Rose, and Rose Giordani (‘22) plays Barbara’s husband, John, who is overseas fighting. The Chorus includes Erin Shea (‘23), Kendall Sherwood (‘22), Mary Longueil (‘22), Paulina Leskow (‘24), Addy Potter (‘24), Bella MacDonald (‘24) and Kaya Biunculli (‘23). The Chorus is the backbone of the show, taking on various characters and roles within the factory. 

Rehearsals are already underway with the direction of Mr. Fahey and the stage management of Karen Bell (‘22) and Paulina Leskow (‘24). This play is certain to be fantastic so be sure to catch it in March as part of the 2022 METG Drama Festival!

Featured image is the 2022 METG logo designed by Jashia Sikder of Brockton High School

Thrillers Keep You Guessing Until the Big Reveal

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

With some books, being confused is part of the fun. The author drops clues and layers plot twists so you’re constantly trying to figure out what’s going on. When it’s done well, you enjoy the ride – even if your predictions were off the mark. The final reveal shocks you, entertains you and makes you go back through the book to see what you missed.

These young adult books do it really well. They can be hard to describe without spoilers, but I’ll try.

Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed is the story of Fern, a quiet working-class teen living in a community that’s a playground for the rich and famous. Floods and drought have destroyed much of the country, and there’s a huge gap between rich and poor. Fern watches and waits – for college, a boyfriend, and adventure. When teen celebrity Ivy Avila moves into town, Fern feels alive for the first time in her life. Touching on serious issues like inequality, climate change, drug addiction and sexual assault, the story is about finding and keeping your identity in a turbulent world.

In Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson, Claudia is trying to solve the disappearance of her best friend. But no one else seems to know anything about the missing teen, or they assure Claudia that everything is fine. The story highlights racism, poverty and other social issues that cause people to fall through the cracks. It also explores the impact of trauma on your heart and mind. I was confused through much of this book, but since it received good reviews, I trusted the author and stuck with it. The ending was shocking and thought-provoking.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is about a group of friends that spend summers together with their families on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Raised in privilege, the friends have few worries until one devestating summer. Cadence, the main character, reveals the story in two parts – what happened that fateful summer when she was 15 and what takes place when she returns two years later, still bearing the scars. When I finished this book, I immediately flipped back to the first page to try to see how I missed signs of the big twist. It was amazing. Family of Liars, a prequel by the same author, will be published in May.

Stories Show Scars of History, Efforts to Preserve Culture

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

Our region is rich with Native American history, but it’s all too easy to focus only on lives from the past. These recent books remind us that Native Americans still exist today, striving to preserve their cultures and cope with the scars of a turbulent past.

In The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, Daunis is a young woman whose community is wracked by drug abuse and mysterious deaths. When she agrees to help with a police investigation, she grows close to an undercover officer who is posing as a local hockey star. Soon, she feels torn between protecting her community and bringing people to justice. The story takes a little while to build as it introduces its multigenerational cast of characters and the traditions of the Ojibwe culture. The action-packed ending is worth the wait. It’s a crime thriller, family saga and cultural celebration all in one.

There, There by Tommy Orange tells the stories of a dozen different characters whose lives converge at an Oakland cultural festival. Despite their different reasons for attending – some hopeful, some scared, some ready for violence – they all share the scars of the nation’s oppressive treatment of Native Americans, which includes forced removal from ancestral lands and the erasure of culture in government-sponsored boarding schools. These scars come through as struggles with poverty, suicide, alcoholism and identity. The mix of voices telling the story is powerful and eye-opening.

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith follows Louise Wolfe, a Native American high school senior living in a largely white Kansas town. When the director of the school play shakes up the casting of their production of The Wizard of Oz, the ensuing backlash reveals long-held prejudice and divides the community. As Louise writes about the controversy for her school newspaper, she begins to fall for a fellow student. But she knows that “dating while Native” is never easy. Whose hearts will be broken before this is over?

Exploring a Dark Chapter in American History

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

Imagine if the government deemed you and your family a threat to national security. You’re told to pack what you can carry and report for relocation, not knowing if you’ll ever see your home, community or possessions again. 

This is what happened to thousands of people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. While the United States had previously watched World War II from afar, the conflict now hit closer to home than ever imagined. The U.S. government turned its sights on possible spies and saboteurs within its own borders, focusing on Japanese Americans and immigrants. Some of these prisoners – referred to as internees or evacuees throughout history – were U.S. citizens. Some had lived in the country for decades, but hadn’t been allowed to become citizens because of immigration laws. Many had children born here, who were citizens no matter their parentage. Yet all were treated the same, their rights stripped from them because they looked like the enemy, imprisoned in isolated and inhospitable “internment camps” with uncertain futures.


There have been many books written about this awful chapter in American history. One of the latest, We Are Not Free by Tracy Chee, is a moving novel sharing the stories of 14 teens from one San Francisco community. What I liked about this book is that it covers many different experiences: the Americanized teen trying to make the best of life in the camps, which offer dances and sports along with barbed wire and armed guards; the young man who enlists in the Army because he believes in America despite what it’s done to his family; the conflicted youth whose parents would rather return to Japan than deal with such poor treatment; the teens who protest the harsh living conditions. With a chapter told from the point of view of each character, the reader learns a lot more about the time period than they might from their history textbooks. While there may have been some cases where people of Japanese ancestry acted as spies in the war, most families who were imprisoned were innocent victims of bigotry and fear. The chapter about a young man named Twitchy is especially powerful, based on the real experiences of Japanese-American Army units who saw some of the toughest fighting of the war.

If this topic interests you, here are a few more recommendations:

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell – While We are Not Free touches on the experience of imprisoned families facing deportation to Japan, this nonfiction book goes into much more depth. For one thing, it wasn’t just Japanese immigrants who were imprisoned in camps during World War II; there were Germans in America who were considered dangerous as well. When these immigrants – mostly men who pledged loyalty to the U.S. and were never charged with a crime – were jailed in camps, their wives and children would join them rather than struggle to survive on their own. If the men were deported, the children followed without question, even if they were born in America and therefore citizens. The author describes one such family that was sent to a Japanese city devastated by an atomic bomb; there were neither the resources nor the goodwill to welcome them and the family struggled to survive. 

Manzanar by John Armor and Peter Wright – In commentary by a journalist who covered World War II and stark black and white photographs, this nonfiction book details life in one of the largest prison camps for Japanese Americans. While the camps offered things like Boy Scout troops, dances and softball leagues, they also featured tall barbed wire fences and armed guards. Homes were crowded barracks that barely provided shelter from the harsh weather of the isolated mountain or desert regions where camps were built. Food was rationed, mail was censored, and prisoners lost hope.

Internment by Samira Ahmed – Although fiction, the premise of this story feels a little too easy to imagine. It’s the near future, and the U.S. government has imprisoned all Muslim-Americans in internment camps, including 17-year-old Layla and her family. Even though they are citizens, they are stripped of their rights and possessions and considered enemies of the state. This echoes what happened to Japanese-Americans during World War II. It also draws on the hate and fear directed at Muslims after the September 11th attacks committed by radicals in the name of their religion. This is a fast-paced, thrilling story of tolerance and reason triumphing over fear and hate. It also highlights the danger we face when we stay silent in the face of injustice.

Featured image: A Japanese internment camp in California in 1942. Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images from https://eji.org/news/history-racial-injustice-forced-internment-of-japanese-americans/

Prism Offers Story Contest for Writers, Artists

By Michael Greene, ’22

Staff Writer

Attention all HHS writers and artists!  Do you like telling creative stories?  Do you like making art?  If you do, then this is the perfect opportunity for you!  The Hanover High School literary magazine, The Prism, is holding a story prompt contest that will last until the end of January.  The contest gives students the opportunity to respond to an open-ended story prompt by either finishing the story or making unique artwork.  This year, the prompt is, “I don’t know how it happened, but it all began when …”

Once all participants have submitted, the top three winners will receive gift cards and be featured on the literary magazine’s website and in future print issues.

Happy writing!

To submit, please email theprism@hanoverstudents.org.  For any questions about the contest or the literary magazine, please contact Mr. Henderson (shenderson@hanoverschools.org) or Michael Greene (mgreene22@hanoverstudents.org).  You can also follow “The Prism” on Twitter @theprismhhs, and visit the magazine’s website at theprism.medium.com.

Featured image: https://neilpatel.com/blog/create-facebook-contest/

HHS Alumni Reflect on Transition to College

By Grace Van Duyn, ’22

Staff Writer

As I am a senior, I am so happy to be done with my college applications, and I know many of my classmates are too. But now that many of our college applications are submitted, we have the new struggle of waiting to hear back from the schools that we applied to, which turns out to be just as hard as completing the applications themselves. In addition to wondering where I will get accepted, I also have been trying to envision how I would do at the schools where I applied. It can be hard to get a realistic picture of college in your head when people only share the good parts on social media, and schools only share the positive aspects in their brochures. One of the best things that has helped me has been talking to previous Hanover High students about their experiences. I’ve compiled the responses of a few students in hopes that their experiences can help you too.

Tim Sullivan, Northeastern sophomore, HHS class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college? 

Yes! I think that HHS has some great offerings for classes and is only expanding the opportunities, especially with VHS classes. I would encourage students to use these opportunities to try out different classes in high school. It’s totally normal to head into college not knowing what you want to do but opportunities like this in high school can help you find a direction.

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school? 

Although coming to college and having a new workload is definitely challenging, some aspects are similar to how things were set up in high school. One thing that was different for me was that in college you generally have fewer assignments that are worth a large portion of your grade, and this means that it’s really important to be prepared, especially when a test can be something like 30 percent of your grade! Like everything, the workload is an adjustment, but it’s manageable.

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I miss so much about HHS! I wish I could go back, especially before Covid, and just live a quick day in my life because I do miss it. Not to be cringey but seniors, just enjoy it! I know everyone looks forward to graduating and literally counts down the days, but this is such a great year, and you don’t want to rush it.

Question: What types of students do you think do best at Northeastern? 

“I wouldn’t say that there’s one specific type of student that would excel here over another type, but I will say that everyone has a different experience at college. It’s important to reach out to current students to get the general vibe of a school, but definitely remember that everyone’s experience is unique and go with what feels right for you when thinking about where you fit best!”

Rachel Maccarrone, Suffolk University freshman, HHS Class of 2021

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college? 

I think high school prepared me to an extent for college. Definitely prepared me socially, but college is different when you get to choose what you want to learn, and this taught me about time management and how much effort I needed to put in. Also, I would say that math was taught really well at HHS, and it prepared me for math in college.

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“The course load depends on your major at Suffolk. In high school I felt like I could manage my work more than in college.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I miss all of my friends from HHS and the fun moments. In terms of advice for seniors, I would say just make the most of it. Don’t take everything so seriously and focus on yourself.”

Question: What types of students do you think do best at Suffolk? 

“I believe that if you are hardworking in general, then you will do well anywhere. At Suffolk, you have to have a strong work ethic and confidence.”

Shannon Taylor, University of Rhode Island freshman, HHS class of 2021

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

I would say that college is a lot more about taking notes in class. At HHS I did more in- class assignments, and now at URI I have to do a lot more of my work myself. You get used to it though, and I usually get homework on Monday and most of it is due Friday or Sunday which is helpful. 

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

I feel like college is a lot of work over longer periods of time which can be overwhelming, but if you have good time management, then you will get your work done on time and can make more of your own schedule than in high school. URI also has such a pretty campus, and whenever you are stressed with work, you can always walk around and enjoy that campus which is something really nice and unique!”

Ben Lee, Merrimack College junior majoring in Business, HHS class of 2019

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

“I do think HHS prepared me well and gave me tools to succeed in college. I think teachers’ expectations in high school are somewhat skewed; they expect professors to be much less forgiving than they truly are. The first year I was in college, I found my expectations were far off from what college truly was, and that was an adjustment for me”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“I don’t find there to be a tremendous difference in workload. The big difference is in accountability. I have to do my work, they really don’t hunt you down to do it. The professors give you the tools and truly do want you to succeed and they care about you, but if you don’t want to pass the class, they don’t care nearly as much as high school teachers do.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I don’t miss high school. I enjoyed it for what it was but I think by the time I left I had grown out of HHS.”

Ainsley Kane, Pace University sophomore majoring in health science/pre-nursing, HHS Class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

“I feel as though HHS helped me open up my shell a lot and learn how to meet new people and make connections. One thing that I expected coming into college was that I would have a tremendous amount of work and that professors wouldn’t be accommodating, which isn’t the case. I lucked out with my school and their priority for their students. I have built many connections with my professors and have been able to succeed even when I fall behind.”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“The workload itself is determined on the degree program, so as a health science major my workload mainly consists of writing research papers and studying rather than actual homework.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I think the only thing I really miss about HHS would be all the little moments I shared that I didn’t appreciate enough. One piece of advice I would give is enjoy your time in high school don’t try and grow up too fast.”

Kaitlyn Cox, Elon University sophomore majoring in finance, HHS Class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

My situation is unique in the sense that I was only at HHS for senior year and with the pandemic, that year was actually only a few months. I feel like HHS prepared me for the switch in classes with the pandemic. The asynchronous work senior year helped me prepare to handle that same work in college.”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“I have noticed a significant difference. Now that I’m taking more classes geared towards my major, the workload is significantly increasing and I spend much more time working now than I did in high school.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“My college experience has been great and I don’t find myself missing high school too much because of that. In high school, I found myself stressing over every little thing (for really no reason) and college taught me that these little things are not important in the grand scheme of things. I wish I enjoyed high school more while it lasted and not stressed out so much.”

Hope Thurston, Salem State University majoring in political science, HHS Class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college? 

“Hanover prepared me academically definitely; I feel like I already know a lot of what I am taught in several of my courses. I also had a few teachers that influenced my passion for government and politics. In terms of the “real world,” culture shock was something I struggled with because we went to an incredibly wealthy and white high school. I didn’t really feel accepted ever and there are probably a lot of students right now struggling with that. Fortunately, there are very accepting people in the real world and I’ve come to meet them and grow into a better person for myself and others.”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“My workload isn’t too different. It’s a lot more studying and a lot more work that I actually can involve myself in. Professors are understanding and very flexible. They want you to succeed and will do anything to make that happen, as if they are your parents or your close friend. It’s motivating knowing that people really want you to succeed and do well at any cost.

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I miss a few teachers, but I’m very glad that high school is over. Advice to seniors now is, it gets better and college is an amazing place.”

Featured image: Craig Warga | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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

With Apocalypse Near, Teen Fights for Survival

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian

The end of the world is upon us, and you’ll only survive if you’re useful. But who gets to decide if what you can offer is important enough?

That’s the question facing 16-year-old Denise in the young adult novel On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. A comet is on track to hit Earth, causing devestation not seen since the dinosaurs were wiped off the planet. If you’re wealthy and connected, you’ve bought a spot on a “generation ship” set to colonize another planet. If you’re not – like Denise – you’ve been assigned to a temporary shelter and after a few days, you’ll be on your own.

As the impact nears, Denise and her mom stumble upon a different kind of ship, one that will take people with practical skills that will help the community survive. There are doctors, engineers, computer scientists, teachers. Denise is desperate to prove they deserve a spot. But she’s a teen with autism whose inability to read social cues or handle change often causes her problems. And her mom is struggling with drug addiction. Can they convince the ship’s community that they’re worth saving?

This science fiction thriller has some exciting action sequences, and could easily be turned into a gripping television series or movie. In fact, when it ended, I wanted a sequel so I could find out what happens next to all of the characters. The book also raises thought-provoking questions about identity and purpose. The author is autistic, so her depictions of the sensory issues and meltdowns that Denise endures are honest, accurate and valuable for those not familiar with the challenges. There are also several LGBTQ characters, including Denise’s trans sister and a lesbian couple on the ship. So in addition to being an action-packed story, it provides representation for some groups that are often sidelined or restricted to just “issue” books.