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Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

By Mrs. McHugh

My house has been compared to a zoo for all the animals we’ve brought into our lives. Stop by these days and you’ll be greeted by two dogs, two cats, and an axolotl (Google it, it’s cool!). At different points in her life, my daughter has asked for a Flemish giant rabbit – which she got – and a pony, a miniature donkey and a therapy duck – which she did not get. Needless to say, we’re a family that loves animals. But one of the biggest challenges of bringing so many pets into your lives is losing them, watching them get sick, watching them grow old, having to say goodbye. We are facing that now with our 12-year-old dog Carly.

Everyone thinks their dog is the best, but Carly truly is. A terrier mix rescued from Puerto Rico, she was a year old and already a mother when we adopted her in 2010. We had been searching for a dog for months, one that would accept hugs from my daughter, then six, without biting her face off or running away to hide. We walked by Carly’s kennel in the shelter several times looking at other dogs. Finally, in frustration that other dogs weren’t the right fit, we gave her a try. She stood calmly at the kennel gate waiting for a leash, and then let us pet and play with her in the yard. We brought her home that day. Our lives were so much richer thanks to that decision.

A lapdog from day one, Carly spoiled us as pet owners. Never a barker, chewer or jumper – unless a squirrel was in sight -Carly loved every dog and person she met. She wasn’t super playful and definitely didn’t care to play fetch, preferring more to observe from the sidelines or cuddle up to the humans. But she let my daughter dress her, carry her, and hug her for years. She put up with the cats and was kind to the rabbit. She never needed training (which made our adoption a year ago of a 16-week-old puppy a huge shock). Even when she begged for people food, she’d do it politely and calmly. How could you resist those big brown eyes?

We loved her so much, made her such a part of our lives, that my family worked for several years to get a dog park built in my town. After three years of fund-raising, rallying the community and finding grants, the Abington Dog Park opened in August 2019. Of course, imagine our surprise when Carly decided a dog park wasn’t her thing. She was 10 years old at that point, so we couldn’t really blame her. She was tolerant beyond any reasonable expectation when we brought that puppy, Natasha, home in November 2019 – when she would have been within her rights to be mad at us for bringing this loud,  unruly creature into her life. But she took it in stride, as she took everything in stride.

In December, after noticing that she was lethargic for a couple of days, we took her to the vet, who diagnosed her with cancer of the spleen. She needed emergency surgery and weeks of recovery. It was heartbreaking to see her so sick, and I’m grateful we could afford her care. Finally, she returned to her usual self – bouncing along on walks, taking up half the bed, waiting patiently for a pizza crust or a French fry. She even ran and played with the younger dogs. The vet recommended chemotherapy, and she was tolerating it well. Until earlier this week, when we noticed her wincing as she jumped off the couch or into the car. We took her to the vet, thinking she’d need some pain medicine for arthritis, but they found that cancer had spread to her liver. We started palliative care, which means medication to keep her comfortable, and will probably only have another month or so with her.

We’ve lost small animals before – cats and the rabbit – and that’s been hard, but losing Carly feels so much worse. We brought her home for my daughter’s 6th birthday. This April will be 11 years since that day. She’s grown up with my girl, who’s now a junior in high school and thinking about college.  She’s carved a huge spot in our family and in our hearts.  We’ve cried, of course. We’ve reassured ourselves that we gave her a great life, and will continue to do so until her final day. When she’s  in pain, and no longer able to enjoy life, we’ll do what needs to be done. I don’t think I’ll be able to express myself then.

Pets bring so much joy to our lives – companionship, unconditional love, exercise, security, even therapy. The downside of the package is that, someday, we have to lose them. It breaks our hearts. But I know many of us wouldn’t give up a moment we’ve had with them, despite the inevitable outcome.

Carly  has enriched my life and made me a more loving person. Because of her, I became a community activist and “dog park lady.” I found space in my heart that I didn’t know was there. The organization that rescued Carly from Puerto Rico and sent her to the Northeast Animal Shelter, where we found her, is called Save a Sato. But this “sato,” or street dog, really saved me.

Update: Carly passed away on March 3, 2021  

Social Media: a Double-Edged Sword for Teens

By Natalie Mowbray, ’22

Staff Writer

While the presence of social media in daily life grows, concerns about it do as well. This generation of teenagers has grown up alongside the newest lines of cell phones and tablets, and an ever-changing array of apps to entertain, inform and connect them. With the click of a button, people can play games, share videos, livestream and more with people all over the world. Although it may seem like social media is a great communication tool to connect teenagers with their peers, it can also be a troublesome device for many as well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, social media use can “negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people’s lives and peer pressure.” When behind a screen, many people can be tempted to say hurtful things and messages since there are no immediate consequences for these actions. These words can lower a teenager’s self esteem and lead to mental health problems. During a time in adolescent development in which teenagers are discovering their personality and growing mentally, online bullying can cause them to change in order to avoid being verbally attacked online.

When teenagers open up social media applications such as Instagram, they can see people posting pictures of themselves appearing to lead the “perfect lives.” Some even post digitally altered photographs of themselves using Photoshop to appear flawless to their Instagram followers. During a time in which adolescents’ bodies are growing and their lives consist mostly of school, some teens grow to resent their own bodies or the fact that their lives are not as seemingly perfect as some influencers. According to the Mayo Clinic, a small 2013 study found that older adolescents who used social media passively, such as by just viewing others’ photos, “reported declines in life satisfaction.” Although most Instagram or Snapchat posts are just glimpses of a person’s life, other users look at the posts and often feel like their own lives can’t compare.

Despite these negative aspects of social media usage, there are some benefits. For example, teens can be connected with their friends at all times, and constantly have access to educate themselves and to learn about their world. They have all of the necessary tools and information to navigate the world, and it makes learning much easier. In such a time where a pandemic prohibits people from seeing their friends and family and when school is held online, social media is a useful tool to help connect with peers and supplement learning.

A few juniors from Hanover High School shared their opinions on the ever-growing presence of social media in their lives. Molly McGlame, Kylie Campbell, and Meghan Enos cannot imagine their lives without their devices. “It is easier to communicate with friends and interact with people,” said Meghan. Kylie appreciates how easy it is to plan events and gather with her friends. “I like how simple it is to spread information quickly and efficiently to large groups of people,” she said. However, Gianna Rizzo and Sydney Patch shared that they don’t always enjoy the havoc that social media can bring into their lives. They stated that “social media can distract us for hours everyday, and divert us from getting our school work done.” 

In my opinion, social media is great whenever I want to talk to my friends or check up on other people that I haven’t spoken to in a while. But it can be too distracting when I am trying to get my schoolwork done. And when I scroll through pictures on Instagram for a while, I can start to feel as though my life is inadequate in comparison to the posts that other people make.

Whether or not social media is ultimately good or bad for teenagers, it can be said for certain that it impacts the teenage brain. According to Our Teen Brains, “the reward pathway” in the brain develops much faster in teenage brains than the other parts do. When teenagers engage with social media, it causes this center to light up and become activated. However, this is short term gratification that leads to their excitement when another person likes their posts, but also disappointment when they don’t receive enough “likes.” “Teenagers are often afraid of what others may think about what they post and don’t want to be judged in a negative light,” the website stated. “In this manner, increased social media often contributes to increased feelings of heightened anxiety and social stress.” The anxiety about what others may think of their social media posts can lead teenagers down a slippery slope.

As great as it may sound to be connected at all times, it is just as vital to learn how to disconnect sometimes and enjoy the present moment. Experts advise teens to take breaks every once in a while and disconnect from the devices and feeds. Additionally, users should remember that the lives shared on platforms such as Instagram are almost always superficial, and should not be mistaken for real life.

 

Featured image: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/which-social-networks-should-you-focus-on

 

Pet Adoptions Soar During Pandemic

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

Every year in the United States, about 3.2 million pets are adopted. At the start of March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our nation, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reported that pet adoption rates went up 58 percent. By the end of that month, adoption rates were up 85 percent. Time magazine named rescue animals as 2020’s pet of the year. People who felt isolated due to the pandemic, or who found themselves at home with time on their hands, adopted millions of dogs, cats, and other pets.

Here in Massachusetts, inquiries to adopt pets have been higher than they have ever been. At the Scituate Animal Shelter (SAS), 399 pets were adopted between January 1, 2020, and February 1, 2021. While that is a little lower than past years, Amanda Eddy Baker, the shelter’s Intake and Adoptions Manager, said, “The amount of inquiries and people looking to adopt has been a record high!” 

Jamie Mackinnon, a college student at Roger Williams University, adopted a puppy named Winston in September. She already had a dog, Lola, and decided to get another during the pandemic to keep Lola company. 

Winston

“The decision was not directly COVID-related,” Mackinnon said. “But the timing worked out because my mom had been working from home during the pandemic.” 

Like many others working from home, Mackinnon’s family had the time to devote to training and caring for a new pet. They also found their new pet cheered up what could be lonely days. 

Due to COVID-19, animal shelter operations have changed a lot. SAS, for example, cannot allow visitors without an appointment, so people cannot browse for an animal that catches their eye. “We do really miss having people come in just to tour the shelter and look at the animals,” Eddy Baker said. “We hope to get back to that soon!” 

Not only has the amount of visitors changed, but the number of volunteers has gone down. In the past, the shelter would be bustling night and day with staff and volunteers, but now only one volunteer is allowed in at a time. “Our volunteers have shown incredible dedication and hard work!” Eddy Baker said. “Sometimes the kennels are full of very messy dogs or there are 20 cats who need care. That is a lot of work for one person!” 

But SAS and other shelters are making the best out of a hard time and getting a lot of animals new homes during the pandemic. Every year, SAS adopts out more cats than dogs, and that trend has continued in this unpredictable year. There is still a worry that people will have to surrender their pets once everything is back to normal. When people are not working from home any more, will there still be enough time to take care of an animal? But if such unfortunate circumstances arise, Scituate and other shelters will be there to help those animals in need.

Pet Statistics | Shelter Intake and Surrender | ASPCA

Rescue Animals Are TIME’s 2020 Pet of the Year | Time

Super Bowl Halftime Show Gets Mixed Reviews

By Grace Van Duyn, ’22

Staff Writer

Many people watch the Super Bowl just to see the halftime show, which has over the years featured memorable, if not always enjoyable, over-the-top performances. But while many appreciated and understood Super Bowl LV’s performance by the Weeknd, many people were confused by its bizarre costumes and maze-like set. The Weeknd told Variety, “ the significance of the (dancers wearing) entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrities and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated.” Super Bowl executive producer Jesse Collins explained how he and the Weeknd planned the show by saying, “instead of focusing on what we can’t do (due to the pandemic), it’s like, look at what the opportunities are because of the cards we’ve been dealt.” This same optimism is what saved the Weeknd from his difficult upbringings. 

The Weeknd, born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye in Toronto, Canada, lived in an apartment with two friends after he moved out of the house he grew up in. They shoplifted food and sold drugs in order to make enough money to survive. The Weeknd began his music career with the hope of making a small amount of money, and he has now gone on to sell award-winning albums and headline the Super Bowl. 

Even if this explanation still leaves you confused or unimpressed about his performance, we can all agree that we have been laughing at the memes and jokes about his performance. Some of the most popular memes about the Super Bowl are about the scene where the Weeknd is in the room with the mirrored walls. 

Here is what HHS students had to say about the show: 

“The halftime show was cool, but not as energetic as it should be for the Super Bowl.” – Anonymous   

“I thought it was cool and I liked the songs.” – Abby Van Duyn

“I thought the halftime show was very dizzy. I felt dizzy after watching it and thought the quality could have been better. I like the Weeknd’s music, but the halftime show was not nearly as good as I was expecting it to be -Anonymous 

“I thought it was boring.” – Maeve Sullivan

“I thought the Super Bowl halftime show was a little weird. I thought the way the dancers were dressed was kind of scary and I didn’t really understand why they were dressed like that. I also thought that the Weeknd could have sung a little bit better, I felt like he was a little off tune at times. Lastly I feel that he should have picked a few more better songs.” – Anonymous 

“I got bored and went to make myself a snack while it was on.”- Morgan Taylor 

“ I thought the concept was cool, but I didn’t really enjoy the music or the costumes they wore.” -Anonymous 

“I didn’t like the halftime show, I felt like it was a dud and there wasn’t much interaction with the audience as others did in the past. I think people like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars were a lot better. The Weeknd just stood there.” – Abby Smith 

“I thought it was overall good! It was a little boring and I was expecting more because it is supposed to be the biggest show of the year.”- Anonymous 

“I thought it was cool and I liked the music.” – Shannon Taylor  

Featured image: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/sc-ent-super-bowl-halftime-review-0207-20210208-ie2smv3xwbg45l6vqxc4zrhlp4-story.html

Students Voice Concerns with Back-to-School Plan

By Caris Mann, ’22

Staff Writer

On February 1st, the Hanover School Committee announced that high school students will be returning to school in person for four days a week starting March 8th. Grades K-2 were the first to make this transition, and other grades will resume between Feb. 22 and March 1. New guidelines such as desks being placed three feet apart, instead of six feet, and weekly pool testing of students will be implemented in order to accommodate the plan. The transition may require some students’ schedules to be changed to ensure there are no classes that are too large for their classroom. There are also new guidelines regarding Zoom, where teachers will no longer be required to livestream their classes for any students at home. This means students who are quarantined or have COVID will not be able to virtually attend; instead, teachers will post or send home assignments for students to complete on their own. 

Students who don’t want to return can opt into the Virtual Academy, the high school’s fully remote program. In that program, students take all of their classes through online platforms, with HHS teachers facilitating the program. The School Committee asked that parents make this decision by February 5.

In a statement released Feb. 1, School Committee Chair Leah Miller said this plan allows for “students to resume as much academic normalcy as possible in a safe environment.” The plan will be implemented safely with the help “of the collaborative support of our teachers and families along with our school health, public health, and public safety departments,” the statement continued. 

Students at HHS have formulated their own opinions about the School Committee’s decision. In a survey, The Hawk asked whether or not students wanted to return full time, if they had any concerns, and if they had any other thoughts about the plan. Most of the respondents said they do not feel comfortable returning to school full time because of the reduced social distancing and lack of Zooms for quarantining students. However, the students seemed the most upset about the fact that they were not asked their opinions about returning back. 

Do you agree or disagree with the plan, and why?

“I agree with the plan because I think kids need to get back to school for their mental health and for their education.”- Ashley Stracco, ‘24

“I disagree because the coronavirus is getting worse and by letting us go back all four days, there will be no social distancing and even more quarantines. The chances of getting COVID from being in school will also increase.”- Anonymous, ‘23

“With the corona numbers higher, I don’t think that we should go back full time.”- Jay Champagne, ‘23

“I strongly disagree with the plan to reopen on the current day chosen. I disagree because changing the schedule again will do nothing other than cause more stress, anxiety and confusion to the students and teachers.”- Anonymous, ’22

“I don’t agree with it. While I believe we should go back at some point, the carrying out of the plan doesn’t seem well thought out at all, especially because there won’t even be an option for Zooms. Kids don’t social distance outside of school, so that just means more kids who could’ve been exposed are in the building at the same time and even closer together than six feet.”- Julia McGillivray, ‘22

“I personally strongly dislike this plan. I think that largely it was pushed forward by parents who are not in school and don’t understand the students’ concern. I want so badly to go back to school and to return to some bit of normalcy, but now is just not the time. Case numbers are extremely high and sending us back after February break and after everyone has traveled and gotten together is just poor timing. I really don’t think it’s a good idea.”- Callia Gilligan, ‘22

“No, I don’t agree at all, it was way too early to go back to school. We still have many cases in Hanover and many people are constantly quarantining. Teachers not providing zooms will also be a big problem because that will put kids weeks behind everyone else and just create a lot of stress. Also when we are in school during this hybrid model, we can’t even properly social distance six feet, but now with everyone back, we won’t be able to social distance at all. We will be mere centimeters away from other people. The CDC and medical professionals are still recommending everyone stay six to ten feet apart, but now there’s no way we can do that, especially during situations like lunch.” – Andrew Corbo,’22

“I was kind of surprised to hear that we are returning to fully in-person school. I think it will be beneficial to return to some normalcy. However, I think there are still many questions that students have about the new plan.”- Paige Dillis, ‘22

“I don’t think the plan to go back four days a week on March 8th is safe at all. Coupled with getting rid of the zoom option, it’s not fair to students. Our classes are already as full as they can be. … Band, and probably chorus as well, wouldn’t be able to have classes either. The regulations for music classes are much different than normal classes because we can’t wear proper masks while playing an instrument. We already rehearse in the auditorium and to be able to space everyone out ten feet apart and fitting up to 30-35 students in there, is a stretch. Trying to fit 65 students in there isn’t safe at all. It’s either one cohort wouldn’t be able to play for a day while the other cohort does, or the entire music department would have to wait until the spring, when there isn’t snow on the ground, to rehearse outside as a full ensemble. It’s not fair to the entire music department that because the district wants to be the first in the state to try this out, that it comes at the expense of the classes that are the only reason that some students even want to go to school anymore.”- Anonymous, ’22

“I can see why people are upset but I also think it’s a good idea to try to go back because we can’t be at home forever and we need to eventually go back and one school needs to be the first to find out if this is a possibility, so why not give it a try?”- Joseph Campo, ‘22

“I do not agree with the plan. Although it’s a nice idea in theory to go back to fully in person school, now is just not the time. Walking through the hallways, a majority of students I have talked to are all quite upset with the news for a variety of reasons. One that stands out to me is that the largest group of people in the school (the students) weren’t asked about whether or not they would feel safe going back now. Also, schedules at the school were not made for fully in-person schooling. I along with my friends, have classes that are already close to max capacity and with the addition of students from the other cohort we won’t be able to fit, let alone stay socially distanced.”- Christopher Manning, ‘22

“I don’t really agree with it for a few reasons. One is we are the town with the third most cases in Massachusetts and there are only three months left of school, so why change it?”- Anonymous, ‘22

“I would like to go back because high school isn’t just about learning, but it’s also a social outlet, and we’re missing that outlet by not being there as much as possible.”- Mike Losordo, ‘22

“Back in November, I wrote a very long email about coming back to school to our superintendent and principal of HHS. For context, from October to November my entire family tested positive for COVID-19, all except for me. During their quarantine, they were bedridden and very sick but thankfully recovered well and are okay now. Since I had tested negative multiple times, I had to quarantine another 10 days after my last exposure. My total quarantine was 24 days. This was weeks of not being in school, weeks without going to work, and weeks without leaving my room. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.  People who know me know that school is my second home. It’s where I’ve developed into my own person and found success even in the hardest times of my life. People who know me know that I, probably more than anyone, want to be at school full time again. I miss normalcy, I miss my friends and teachers. I miss the resources at our school. . . . Most of all, I miss feeling successful and accomplished and organized. However, I would give this all up, I have been giving this up, for the safety of everyone. I would rather struggle, and go through the trials and errors of remote life, which I’ve found very difficult, than potentially put the livelihood of our students and staff at risk. With the emergence of the vaccine we could be so close now to beginning the journey of healing this country, and expelling COVID-19.”- Anonymous, ‘22

“My thoughts on this is that the return back to school is being rushed. I feel like we need to wait until the vaccine goes to the teachers. I also wish that the school committee turned to the CDC guidelines that explicitly state that we need to be six feet apart.”- Anonymous, ‘22 

What are your concerns about the plan?

“My concerns are the classrooms are already filling up with one cohort. I feel that there will be too many people in a classroom at a time.”- Jay Champagne, ‘23

“No option for Zooms makes it so kids will either come to school sick because they don’t want to miss classes or kids in AP or Honors classes would miss two entire weeks of school and be expected to catch up.”- Julia McGillivray, ‘22

“My biggest concern logistically is how everyone is going to fit in the school. Hallways, classes and lunches are already full and I don’t know how some of my classes are going to fit, even at a distancing of three feet. In addition, I’m concerned about how teachers will not be required to Zoom with quarantined students. I had a concussion at the beginning of the year and missed around four days of classes and it took me about a month to catch up on all my outstanding work and learn the material I had missed in lessons. If a student is quarantined, through no fault of their own, I find it really unfair that they will be expected to teach themselves and won’t have access to lessons.”- Callia Gilligan, ‘22

“Yes, the classrooms are very small, about the size of my basement/living room, and some of my classes have up to 30 kids. It’s a terrible idea to bring all these kids back, it will cause a lot more stress and it just will not go well. “- Andrew Corbo, ‘22 

“I think one of the questions would be about how all of the students will fit in the classes while still maintaining proper social distancing. The majority of my classes are very large, so I am just curious how the guidelines will be with so many people. I think another concern would be about how students will continue to learn if they have to quarantine. Since there will be no more Zooms during the school day, I think it will be even more difficult to stay caught up in a class if a student had to quarantine.”-Paige Dillis, ‘22

“I’m concerned for the safety of our teachers, students, and staff. I already don’t feel that safe in school under the actual regulations and precautions that we’ve taken, so I know that most students, and all teachers, will not feel safe or at all comfortable with this plan. We would have to break regulations to physically fit every student in each classroom, and I know that goes directly against the Board of Health’s advice and regulations. If the district’s, specifically the school committee’s, method to having us all go back “safely” four days a week is to break regulations and go directly against the advice of actual professionals and doctors, then they clearly do not have our safety or our best interests in mind. I don’t feel comfortable putting my entire family, many of them who have health problems, at risk.” – Anonymous, ‘22

“How are lunches going to work and what about classes that have a large amount of people in them?”- Joseph Campo, ‘22

“My only concern is that the school committee is just rushing into this to look good to groups of parents who don’t want their kids to be at home anymore during the school day instead of actually thinking about the people who would be going to school in this new environment.”- Christopher Manning, ‘22

“I feel as though people are only saying they don’t agree with going back four days because they just don’t want to and not because they think it would be best to be there only two days. I think once we go back four days, people will become accustomed to it, as they already did with a two day schedule.”- Mike Losordo, ‘22

“I have quite a few concerns as to what is going to happen with the classes that are already large in size and now have to combine with the other cohort because I would not like to be taken out of my class in the middle of the year but I think that is something that they just might have to do. Also, it is really concerning that teachers will no longer hold Zooms because if we are going back, more cases are going to be inevitable but, those students will have to catch up on work after the fact rather than attending classes virtually.”- Anonymous, ‘22

“My main concerns are falling behind due to no more Zooms, having to quarantine more often, the lack of social distancing, and the higher possibility of contracting the virus. As with the Virtual Academy, I’m concerned about the level of education, learning the new programs if I do switch over, if I will still get honors and AP credit for courses I’m already taking, if I’ll be learning things that I’ve already learned, and missing out on things due to a different curriculum.”- Anonymous, ‘22

Is there anything else that you would like to say?

“If this plan was thought out better and I felt safe, I would have agreed with it.”- Julia McGillivray, ‘22

“I appreciate the sentiment of the school but this feels rushed  and now just doesn’t feel like the right time.”- Callia Gilligan, ‘22

“The only reason we are going back so fast is because of the politics of it all. If the school committee actually cared, they would seriously consider the input of students and teachers who are actually in the schools and will be the most affected by it. But the school committee only cares about pleasing the parents because they are the largest voting block in Hanover and they want to help their reelection chances.”- Andrew Corbo, ‘22

“I think we are all trying to be optimistic about this plan, but I think we all still have a lot of questions about it too.”- Paige Dillis, ‘22

“I think that since students in other Hanover schools have already had success with going back four days, then every other school should be more than able to pull it off; especially since the high school holds students that are both physically and emotionally capable of protecting themselves during this time.”- Mike Losordo, ‘22

For more information about the new plan, please click the link below:

https://www.hanoverschools.org/district/news/return-school-plans-february-1-2021

 

 

Powerful Book Explores Racism in Quest for Better World

By Mrs. McHugh

“This is not a history book. At least, not like the ones you’re used to reading in school. The ones that feel more like a list of dates (there will be some), a declaration (definitely gotta mention that), a constitution (that too), a court case or two, and, of course, the paragraph that’s read during Black History Month (Harriet! Rosa! Martin!) . . . Instead, what this is, is a book that contains history. A history directly connected to our lives as we live them right this minute. This is a present book. A book about the here and  now.”

This declaration by author Jason Reynolds, in chapter one of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, reveals quite clearly that readers will get something unexpected. Few books promise to give you a definitive history of racism, and even if they tried, you’d probably require a dictionary, thesaurus and PhD to understand it. Not so with this book. It’s a young adult version of the 2016 book Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, author, activist and founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Kendi asked Reynolds, a fiction writer whose books include All American Boys and Long Way Down, to translate his ideas for today’s teens.

The book starts in 1415, with a chapter titled “The Story of the World’s First Racist.” Going back this far is a good reminder that Black history did not begin with slavery or the Civil Rights Movement. Black history has roots in the ancient empires of Africa including the Mali, Songhai and Great Zimbabwe. The other point this chapter drives home is that racism is deep-seated, and it’s often influenced by profit as much as hate. Racism isn’t just the thoughts or actions of an evil person, but policies that impact trade, government,  and social norms. Systemic racism is not new, and its impact on how the world has been shaped cannot be overstated. “The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, whether financially or politically,” Reynolds writes. “… it’s woven into people as much as it’s woven into policy that people adhere to and believe is truth.”

The book continues through history, shedding some new light on the causes of the American Revolution (Great Britain banned the slave trade, but the American colonies didn’t want to), the expansion of slavery, the Civil War (the first enslaved men who tried to fight for the North were sent back to the southern plantations they escaped from), Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. It discusses well-known figures – Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr.,  – as well as names that might be new to you – Angela Davis, Jack Johnson, Stokely Carmichael. It breaks down some of the mythology around the people and historical events that history textbooks have simplified over the years (for example, Rosa Parks was not just a tired old seamstress when she didn’t give up her seat on that bus).

Of particular interest to me was more recent American history, including the “War on Drugs” in the 1980s that many studies have shown led to harsher penalties for Blacks than for whites, something still represented in our prison populations today.  Another was a public school policy called No Child Left Behind in the 2000s, where schools in poor, mostly Black communities had funding pulled when they failed to meet certain standards – which caused them to fall even farther behind.

The book does an amazing job tying our history together, helping us better understand the causes and effects of racism in our country so we may better understand what’s happening in our communities today. The authors do so in a way that is conversational, engaging, and even inspiring. Their hope is that young readers, equipped with this new knowledge, will not only recognize racism, but become actively antiracist – not just bystanders in the quest for a better world, but leaders of that world.

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 
https://robbreport.com/travel/resorts/luxury-hotel-stays-benefit-australia-wildfire-relief-2892734/

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
https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/celebrity/prince-harry-meghan-markle-quit-23291307

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 
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-outbreak-who-pandemic

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 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg

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! 

https://frombehindthepen.wordpress.com/2020/06/18/__trashed-2/

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.

Featured image: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/9/20/coronavirus-which-countries-have-confirmed-cases

Year in Review: Most Influential People of 2020

By Caris Mann, ’22

Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pursuit of College, and the Pressure it Brings

By Callia Gilligan, ’22

Staff Writer

Most people in Hanover, Massachusetts go to college.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So where’s the middle ground? 

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

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

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

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

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

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