All posts by Jill Bernard

Senior Survey Results

by Allison Hughey/Staff Writer

What are your plans after high school?

If you are going to college, where are you going?

Most common responses and a variety:

Purdue

IU

Ball State

Ivy Tech

Indiana State

Carson Newman

Arizona State University

IUPUI

Marian

 

Do you think high school has prepared you for college or a career/job? Why or why not?

No we don’t learn any basic living things such as taxes and income and housing and we basically know that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell but not how to live a functional adult life.

I don’t know, I’m not in college yet.

Yes because I have taken AP and dual credit course with a large workload.

yes, feel qualified to enter my field of classes

Maybe, we are “college and career ready” according to school standards but there are a lot of things I don’t know how to do.

Yes, a few classes have taught me that you will not succeed if you do not work hard at what you are trying to accomplish.

A bit. I think high school may have prepared me through pushing to do the best you can at whatever it is. No half-hurting it.

Yes, because it has taught me to be responsible.

Half and half.

I think it somewhat has prepared me for college, but sometimes we sit around and do nothing in school.

What is your favorite memory during high school?

Homecoming Day is always packed with fun activities!

The first day of school freshman year and seeing how big the school was! It was crazy!

When Coach Laker was in an a really bad mood and sat in a chair at practice and it snapped in half. The whole mood of the practice changed after that for the better

Theater arts class

When a squirrel got into the electrical area and the lights went out in the whole school

Every moment in theater. We’ve had so many laughs and good moments that there’s too many to describe

The week of Homecoming is always fun. With having the picnic, the games, the activities, the school spirit, the football game itself is always so fun and really brings the school together.

lunch

Competing in the regional and state competitions for theatre

The week of Homecoming is always fun. With having the picnic, the games, the activities, the school spirit, the football game itself is always so fun and really brings the school together.

Competing in the regional and state competitions for theatre

 

What is the worst thing about being a senior and why ?

Being with people four years younger is a huge difference when one just got out of middle school and another is going into college. Just doesn’t mix well although teachers expect it to.

That there’s still assigned seats in some classes…

Well I could say a lot But in the big picture, It’s a waste of a year in your lifeline. And no one knows what to do and they rarely actually get a job in what they go to college for, so feels rushed.

School work isn’t any easier and senioritis is a real thing.

coming to school

Trying to figure out what to do for college.

Leaving behind the mass of familiar people and being put into the real world filled with strangers.

Trying to figure out what to do for college.

Leaving behind the mass of familiar people and being put into the real world filled with strangers.

Leaving all my friends.

Senioritis

What is your favorite part about being a senior ?

Getting to start fresh

You’re almost out of high school !

The half days

You’re at the top of the pyramid.

I’m so close to being done

It being my last year

All of the senior activities we get to partake in.

 

Who has given you the best advice during high school? What was it?

Madame always reminds me not to slack off and always stay on top of my work

The FACS teacher because she taught me how to make food for when I am unable to depend on my mom.

Sarge Henderson, take the minimum amount of college loans you can and don’t waste your educational opportunity.

Mr. Hudson and Mrs. Commissiong. They let me know that wherever life takes me I will always have support, and to not be afraid to take risks.

Mr. Jacobs, the Ag teacher, always told me, nothing is worse than wasted talent. This has pushed me to do the best I can in pursuing my career.

Mrs. Rosing – To be yourself and to do what you need to get through.

Jeremy Turner, the Music Secretary. There’s nothing specific but he always gives me advice about everything.

My dad has given me the best advice. He told me to “care enough to make a change and give yourself some grace from there”.The best advice I have been given during high school came from Mrs. Flask. She always told us at the beginning of second semester that we would always want senior year to be over and to be out of high school, but when it is close you will start to regret the time you spent wishing it away and not living in the moment.

Madame. “What is essential to the heart is invisible to the eye”

Mr. Oliver was a big impact of advice for me throughout high school. He told me “You can’t control the things out of your reach, but you can control how you react”. I had a tendency to want to give up when things had me down at my worst, and and Mr. Oliver was there to help pick me and up and keep going. Without those words, I wouldn’t have ever made it this far.

 

Softball heads into sectionals

by Zoe Starks/Staff Writer

The GC softball team’s record is 14-7, after beating some hard schools and staying competitive.

Coach Jason Stewart talked about how well he thinks the rest of the season is going to be. “Obviously, we only have two games left before sectionals. We are going to try and take these last two games as a warmup, to get ourselves ready for Monday. We will have two good opponents, Carmel and Lawrence North,” said Stewart.

Stewart explained what he wants his team to work on most before sectionals. Stewart said, “We just need to do a better job a swinging the bat, we’ve been struggling the last few games. We have the potential to do it, but our girls just need to make a few adjustments to what they are doing.”

Stewart discussed his coaching style for the season. “It was kind of lot of adjusting, and on the fly. We’ve had a lot of girls dealing with illnesses and injuries, so it’s kind of changed on a game-to-game basis,” Stewart said.

Stewart talked about the teams his feels are their biggest challenges. Stewart said, “Obviously, going into our sectionals, its Pendleton and Mt. Vernon, along with us. It’s going to be between us three. They both have really good squads, so it’s going to be a tough challenge to beat them.”

Madelyn Weidner, 12, said her goals for the season changed. “At the beginning of the season, I just wanted to work on rehab for my knee but now that I’m back I’m focusing a lot on my hitting and my mentality,” she said.

Weidner discussed what she thinks her team need to work on for the rest of the season. “We need to work on our motivation. Ten of us are seniors so we have some lack of motivation as the season is coming to an end. We also need to work on our communication on and off the field,” she said.

Weidner discussed her team’s goals. She said, “As a team, our goal is to just have fun. We want to win sectionals and have a winning record of course, but we want to make sure the underclassmen understand it’s important to enjoy what you’re doing and that the world’s not going to end if you have a bad game.”

Weidner talked about her team’s challenges throughout the season. Weidner said, “Our challenges stem from negativity and lack of accountability.”

Weidner talked about what she was looking most forward to in the season. “I am looking forward to getting to play with my friends. It’s a fun group and we all get along pretty well,” she said.

Weidner commented on what she wants to accomplish by the end of the season. “I want to accomplish just having a good, fun senior season with no drama on the team,” said Weidner.

Weidner talked about how she was mentally going to prepare for the rest of the season. Weidner said, “I am mentally preparing by just staying positive and giving as much effort I can give the team.”

Emily Francis talked about want she wants to work on the most this season. “Though our season is almost over, I personally want to continue working on staying focused each game in order to prepare for sectionals,” Francis, 12, said.

Francis discussed what she is looking forward to in the season. “I am looking forward to sectionals. Preparing for sectionals and getting ready is always fun, yet nerve wracking. The parents like to decorate the busses for us, which makes the environment fun and exciting,” said Francis.

Francis discussed her team’s goal. Francis said, “Every season our team has the goal of winning sectionals, as well as winning 20 games.”

Francis commented on what she wants to accomplish by the end of the season. Francis said, “Because this is my last season, I want to feel accomplished and satisfied with how it ends. At the end of the season I want to be able to say I put my all into every practice and every game.”

Francis talked about the challenges her and her team face during the season. “Every season is definitely a grind. With practices everyday, several games throughout the week, and tournaments or double-headers on the weekends, the team definitely gets worn out and tired. That is probably the biggest challenge we face every year. We all get physically and mentally worn down, but we help each other push through and push each other to play each game to the best of our abilities,” said Francis.

Francis discussed how she was going to mentally prepare for the rest of the season. Francis said, “For sectionals, I am mentally preparing by focusing every game and focusing on what I need to fix by that time. For the end of the season, I am mentally preparing by having fun at each game and making memories with my teammates. This year especially, the team seems to have a very special bond. We all get along and have so much fun together. Because this is my last season, I want to make the most of it and end on a happy note.”

 

Boys golf ready to wrap up season

by Morgann Couch/Staff Writer

The boys golf team has done well this season, with first against Anderson and Morristown, on April 16th and  first  at Shelbyville, on May 8. They finished fifth in the HHC.

  Their coach Mr. Russell Wiley talked about how the team has done.  He stated, “We’ve had a really good season so far, we’ve only lost a few matches and finished 3rd in a 16 team invitational earlier this year.  We also had a player win the HHC tournament which was a first for me as a coach.

   Canyen Palmer, 12, stated, “The team this season as a whole group hasn’t done as good as it can be doing but we are expecting a big turn around after working out some issues that we had as individuals. The golf team has only two games left in the season before sectionals.

  Coach Wiley talked about what the team did well.  He stated, “I feel like we have a team that does a good job of being competitive and taking their improvement/practice seriously.  As a coach, the most frustrating thing to me is when a player doesn’t care very much about improving and being competitive and this group has been able to (improve and be competitive) consistently and has made them a fun group to coach.”

  Palmer felt positively about how the season has gone. “I feel that I have played well this season. I have the best score recorded this season at -1 but I’ve reached a little bit of a slump the last couple days. I’m really looking for that kick to get me going again.”

     Morgan Flanagan, 9, said that the team played “well, but we could’ve worked to have a lower score, myself included.”

  He added, “We have good teamwork and get along well.”

Wiley said “the desire to help people and the joy of watching people improve and get confidence” is what inspired him to be a coach, as well as “helping people just learn about life and learn how to overcome challenges.”

 

Effects of third shift on health

by Lilly Combs/Staff Writer

Third shift has many advantages and disadvantages.  Many families are drawn to this schedule because they can find more time to spend with their children.  However, this can have a negative impact on the social interaction of the families and it can also harm a person who is working thirds.  Jessica Combs, a third shift worker, that works as an x-ray technician at Anderson Hospital, said “ Sometimes lack of sleep makes me short tempered, which probably makes my children anxious around me.”  As you can see the children in the family get the brunt of the disadvantages.

Along with many social impacts on the families, there is also an impact on cognitive performance for the person working third shift.  “Sleep is essential for cognitive performance, especially memory consolidation,” according to ncbi.com, which is the National Center for Biotechnology Information.  Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, memory, and health in a negative way. Sleep is essential for the body to function. Combs said that even though she has been working third shift her entire career, her body is still not used to enduring sleep deprivation.  This tells you that the body will never get used to or adapt to lack of sleep.

According to Dawn Hanson, corporation nurse for Greenfield- Central, there are many physical complications that stem from lack of sleep (working third shift).  These conditions can include a higher potential for cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes, respiratory disease, and increase in inflammation. Ultimately, lack of sleep can lead to earlier death.    

Working third shift has an extensive impact on the children in the family.   Payton Wilson, 10, has a mom who works third shift as a surgical nurse. He said that he doesn’t interact with his mom as much as he would want to.   He is also very worried about the amount of sleep his mom is receiving. “She works from 8:00-8:00 every other day. When she comes home she has a 1 year old baby to take care of.  She doesn’t get the sleep that she needs to fully function,” Payton said.

According to sleepfoundation.org, which is the National Sleep Foundation, shift work disorder can increase the risk of mental health problems.  Combs said that she has noticed that more and more her positive mood is slowly deteriorating, and that she thinks she is developing mild depression.  Unfortunately, depression is common with people who work thirds. This is yet another negative impact of working third shift.

Along with effects on the person working thirds, it can also affect the place in which they are working.  “Sleepiness leads to slower reactions and interferes with decision making,” according to the National Sleep Foundation.  This can be very dangerous for the patients who are being worked on in a hospital, because some people working in hospitals are working on very little sleep.            

There are some advantages of working third shift.  “You have the opportunity to get more money, and you don’t have to work with lots of other people and there is less drama,” said Combs.  Combs said that it also eases stress at work.

Overall, the disadvantages of working third shift outweigh the advantages.  Working third shift can be very damaging to a family’s social interaction and everyday life.   Lack of sleep makes people more susceptible to viruses because their immune system is not as strong.  So, if you were planning on working third shift in the future, make sure to contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of this.  It is not worth the health problems that would stem from sleep deprivation.

   

 

Affordable Getaways in Indiana This Summer

by Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

Don’t have any trips planned for this summer? Look at our list of ten locations in Indiana that could be an ideal getaway this summer for those who don’t want to spend their entire life savings on one trip.

 

Turkey Run State Park (Featured in Cover Photo)

Turkey Run State Park is located in Marshall, Indiana, which is about an hour and a half west of Indianapolis. This park has 11 trails ranging from easy to very rugged. The main attractions are the suspension bridge and the rugged ladder trails. The entrance price is $7 per car. Book a stay at the Turkey Run State Park Inn for a weekend of hiking adventures!

 

Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo is located near the heart of Indianapolis. No matter how old you get, visiting the zoo never gets old. You can enjoy the interactive exhibits and shows available and view a plethora of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds, and much more. If you need something to do this summer but don’t want to travel a long distance, then consider visiting the Indianapolis Zoo.

 

Indiana Dunes

The Indiana Dunes is a national park located in northern Indiana near Charleston. Here you can enjoy the beach without having to spend thousands traveling to the coast. Other attractions include hiking trails over the dunes and a plethora of survival escape rooms. The admission is only $7 per car for a one-of-a-kind experience at the dunes.

 

Bluespring Caverns

The Bluespring Caverns are located 45 minutes south of Bloomington. Here you get the chance to board a boat and travel along an underground river through the caverns. Admission is $10 for youth aged 3-15 and $18 for adults. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to discover this peculiar underground world.

 

New Harmony Labyrinth

The New Harmony Labyrinth is 40 minutes northwest of Evansville. This maze allows you to challenge yourself while relaxing and having fun. This tourist attraction is free of charge and quick activity to partake in if you are in the area.

 

 

Exotic Feline Rescue Center

The Exotic Feline Rescue Center is half an hour east of Terre Haute. The rescue center accommodates all kinds of wild cats that can’t survive on their own in the wild. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. If you are a cat-lover, consider taking a trip to this unparalleled attraction.

 

French Lick Resort

The French Lick Resort is located about 45 minutes south of Bedford. This resort is home to two hotels with a ton of activities to partake in. Trailblazing, horseback riding, foot golf, and swimming are a few examples of the many outdoor activities available here. There are also exciting activities to do inside, such as enjoying the luxurious spa services or going bowling. If you want to enjoy a resort without leaving the comfort of Indiana, then consider staying at French Lick for a few days this summer.

 

East Race Waterway

The East Race Waterway is an artificial whitewater course located in the heart of South Bend. The course is 2,000 feet long and waves can reach heights of up to 6 feet. General admission is only $6 for three rides. Consider taking part in this recreational activity if you crave adventure, but don’t want to travel all the way to the Colorado River rapids.

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located in Speedway and is home to the Indianapolis 500. One common misconception about the track is that its only purpose is to host IndyCar and NASCAR races, but it offers much more than that. There is a museum located on the property and tours available. You can learn about the history of the track and even go inside the famous Pagoda. If your an avid racing fan, then this is the perfect excursion to take this summer.

 

Indiana Beach

Indiana Beach is a theme park located on Lake Shafer about 45 minutes north of Lafayette. It has plenty of rides and roller coasters for those who are daring enough to go on them. It also has scenic views of the lake and the forests beyond the boardwalk. If you want some adventure, consider taking a trip to Indiana Beach.

 

April brings Autism Awareness

by Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

The start of April is the beginning of a transition period from bitter cold temperatures to warm, sunlight-filled days, but another important time also kicks off on the first of April: Autism Awareness Month.

Autism Awareness Month was created to further research about autism and educate people about the disorder. Webinars, learning sessions, and fundraisers are put on during the month of April so that the public can expand their knowledge on the subject and join the movement to educate more people about the effects of the disease.

So, what is autism anyway? According to autismspeaks.org, autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. What follows is a personal story about the experiences of someone with autism.

Contrary to popular belief, autism is not a mental illness. Maureen Jackson, a Greenfield resident, 75, has a now adult son named Paul who was diagnosed with autism at age 35. “[Autism] is a neurological disease. Most people think especially because he’s going to a psychiatrist and does take medication that it’s a mental illness and it’s not, it’s biological really, like diabetes.” she said.

Mental illness, as described by mayoclinic.com, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. A mental illness is a disorder that one acquires later in life, while autism is a biological syndrome that affects a person from birth.

Understanding autism and its effects on the brain is not a simple task. There are many different types of autism; some forms are severe while other forms are hardly noticeable. “Autism is not a one-size-fits-all,” said Kathleen Burke, a special education teacher at GC. “Autism is on a spectrum… students can need little to no support or they can need significant support. It depends on the person themselves.”

For those with severe cases of autism, understanding other people’s emotions and recognizing sarcasm does not come as easily to them as the standard person. One struggle in particular for children with autism is being able to learn in a traditional school environment.

Paul Jackson, 48, had a rough school experience due to his autism. “It was terrible. I got bullied a lot and the teachers did not understand my disability.” he said. Maureen, Paul’s mother, then explained how Paul’s teachers had the impression that he was a troublemaker. “Starting in first grade, the teachers would tell the kids to get their math books out, and he wouldn’t, and the teacher would finally realize that she had to distinguish and say ‘Class, get your math books out now. Paul, get your math book out now.’ It was like he didn’t feel like a part of the group.”

Because Paul appeared to be unengaged during class, his teachers would set up conferences to meet with his parents and the principal to correct his behavior, but because autism was virtually unknown at the time, no one knew why Paul couldn’t stay engaged in conversations and class discussions. Doctors couldn’t even connect Paul’s struggles in school to autism. Maureen said, “When Paul was in school, doctors didn’t even have a clue. Paul had one of the best-known pediatricians, certainly in the state of Indiana, and he just blew it off. He said the teacher didn’t know what she was talking about, that Paul’s quiet and he’s fine.”

Different setbacks for Paul came as he entered adulthood. Even though Paul scored extraordinarily high on the standardized tests, his inability to succeed in a classroom kept him from receiving a high school diploma. However, he overcame this hindrance and earned his General Educational Development (GED). Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only setback that he endured upon becoming an adult.

Job hunting proved to be an arduous ordeal because finding a job that suited Paul’s needs was difficult to come by. While he is much more intelligent than the average person, his lack of social skills due to his autism kept him from being getting any job higher than a position at a convenience store. Maureen said, “It’s frustrating, really frustrating, for him to be stuck in a job where he sweeps the floor and stocks the shelves, but he can’t put together and work with other people and take instructions because there is some misconnection.”

It is frustrating for people with autism to endure rejection simply because their minds work differently than most people’s minds. However, many autistic people have hidden capabilities because of the unique way their brains function. For example, some people with autism might be able to calculate math equations more swiftly than other people and they can have exceptional memories. Maureen marvels at Paul when he mentions a memory and can tell her the exact date the event took place. “He would say, ‘Do you remember when we went to Taco Bell on June the third of 1997, right after we went to the zoo? Remember that?’ and I would say no. I used to think he was making it up. I still can’t explain that, it’s weird that he would have that memory.” she said.

Because autism was an unknown disorder when Paul was a child, there wasn’t any resources available to him that would have made his school experience more enjoyable and successful. Now that autism and its effects have been researched, new resources have been discovered to help autistic students to understand the material and the emotions and feelings of the other students around them. “One method that tends to work for a lot of people is anything visual, so like visual schedules, organizational plans, planners, etc.” Burke said.

Another teaching method that works well for students with autism is having access to a quiet space, so going down to a break room or simply spending some alone time in the hallway could help soothe students that might feel overwhelmed, Burke said. Stress gets the better of everyone at some point, so having quiet areas in schools for students to calm down in is beneficial, she said.

It’s important to know that there isn’t anything wrong with people with autism; their brains are just wired differently than most people’s brains. Consider taking part in Autism Awareness Month by joining in on a seminar or webinar, donating to a fundraiser that furthers autism study, and spreading the word to others.

“I’m not crazy, I’m not retarded.” Paul said. “It’s just certain parts of my brain work different.”

 

The Wall that Heals coming to Greenfield in July

by Morgann Couch/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Juniors Rita Aguye-Cots, Anais Burgoa Zeballos, Evan Todd, Noah Dudley,  and Eliza Hawkins take a picture with  Vietnam Veterans Bob Workman,  Mitch Pendlum, Ralph Sweet, Frenchie Legere, and Doug Good who spoke to the junior class at GCHS on April 4.

November 1, 1955 is a date that some say is the beginning of the Vietnam War. Although there is still debate over when the war actually started, this date is the earliest day that qualifies soldiers who died in Vietnam for formal remembrance on the Vietnam Wall. The Vietnam war ended in 1975, with approximately 58,320 U.S. military casualties. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall displays the names of those men and women, soldiers and nurses.

This wall, built in 1982, is meaningful to many people, including families and fellow veterans.  But some are unable to travel to it, so a model of the wall and an education center were built to travel around the country, beginning in 1996. This is called the Wall that Heals. On July 11-14, Greenfield will host The Wall that Heals.

With the wall coming soon, people have begun to talk about it, and excitement is rising. Ms. Lisa Kraft is a junior English teacher whose students study the Vietnam War. She commented on the wall traveling to Greenfield.

“Greenfield is in the center of Indiana, which is in the center of the US. This is a very centrally located spot,” Kraft said. “There are many veterans in this area and Greenfield is a very accessible town. Also, we are a welcoming and patriotic town as well.”

Mrs. Krysha Voelz, also a junior English teacher, said, “It is important to many because it is very important that we help heal the damage that this country did to our Vietnam Vets. By having a traveling wall, those vets who have not been able to see it in person in Washington, D.C. will be able to have the experience. This is very valuable. Anything we can do as a nation to help these men heal and to show them the value that we have for them needs to be done.”

Paul Elsbury, 11, who worked on The Things They Carried project about the Vietnam War, said learning about the Vietnam War and its veterans is important. “People should know the impact the war had (both on American soldiers and the civilians in Vietnam).”

Aaron Fish, 11, who also did the junior project, said people should know about the many men and women who lost their lives in the conflict, and the families who had to live without them.

Samuel Jennings, 11, commented on what he thought people should know about the Vietnam War. “A lot of people didn’t understand the Vietnam War in general and still don’t. Many families could bring their children to this memorial and maybe explain Vietnam to their children to help better understand America’s history. Many schools don’t even discuss Vietnam so this memorial could help to educate the public and its future.”

Alijah Lewis, 11, said it was important that the traveling Vietnam wall come to Greenfield because “there were people who sacrificed their lives to be brave enough to fight for this country. They did a lot to keep the country protected.”

The Wall that Heals is reminder that as Coach Holden used to say in class, “They go and risk their life so I don’t have to, not for me, but instead of me.”

 

Caraval: sisters’ journey in more ways than one

by Lilly Combs/Staff Writer

This book begins with two sisters who live on a tiny island ruled by their father.  They have been trapped in this kingdom for their whole lives thanks to their abusive father.  The two sisters always had a dream that they could leave their horrible island behind and go to Caraval.  Caraval is a magical once-a-year performance.

Scarlett the older sister has written to the owner of Caraval many times before but has never gotten an answer back.  Finally, a week before her wedding she gets a letter inviting her fiance, sister, and her to attend Caraval. Little do they know that this was all planned by the games master.  Scarlett worries about getting in trouble if she left the island, so she declines the offer and tells her little sister that it is not safe. Scarlett’s little sister Tella, unfortunately has a different plan.  She along with Julian drugs Scarlett and they throw her on a boat with them.

They get to Caraval and Scarlett realizes, along with Julian that Tella is missing.  They later find out that this is all part of the “fictional” game. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance, and that she shouldn’t get to caught up in the game.  Julian, Tella’s friend, sticks with Scarlett while she tries to find Tella, and win the game.

Scarlett is an unusual heroine for this historical fantasy novel.  Tella seems like the better fit for the heroine stereotype. She is strong, independent, and has a rebellious spirit.  Scarlett lacks all of these characteristics. Scarlett is proper and prim. In this story, readers can see Scarlett grow and develop stronger characteristics and independence.  

This book is about the love between two sisters and what they would do for each other.  It also deals with getting through the challenge of abuse and how to face it.

The theme in Caraval was hard to grasp; I would have liked it to be clearer.  I also wanted to see from Tella’s point of view, not just Scarlett’s. It would have been more interesting if we could see their different paths unwind at the same time.

Overall, the novel Caraval is very interesting and a good fictional read.  It is very descriptive and emotional.

 

99 Nights in Logar presents unique coming-of-age story

by Andrea Lenser

99 Nights in Logar, authored by Jamil Jan Kochai, tells the story of Marwand, a twelve-year-old child visiting his family in war-ridden Afghanistan. After spending only a couple of days in his family’s village, the tip of Marwand’s finger is bitten off by the formidable but beloved guard dog, Budabash. Marwand and his cousins, Gul, Dawood, and Zia, then vow to capture the escaped beast and return him home.

The novel takes a turn from its initial storyline when Marwand is forced to return to his family’s compound. Gul went missing in a seemingly endless maze of compounds and Dawood fell sick, so Marwand forfeited the search in hope that he and his cousins could make it home alive.

The middle portions of the book outline the various occurrences and hardships that Marwand’s family endured, such as a double engagement, an outbreak of land seasickness, and tension between family members.

Later, Marwand attends a family member’s wedding dressed as a girl in an effort to snap a photo for his cousin Gul, but is then exposed as a fake. He then escapes into the maze of compounds that nearly claimed Gul’s life. In the heart of the maze, Marwand discovers a tunnel filled with bones. He crawls in this tunnel until it opens up into a cave, where further adventures ensue.

Littered throughout the novel are stories, some true and some fiction, that reveal past mistakes and the fate of Marwand’s family. One story in particular that was never completed was the tale of Marwand’s Uncle Watak. The final part of the book is the exhaustive story of Uncle Watak, written in untranslated Pashto.

While this novel is an extraordinary example of coming-of-age literature, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Cultural elements and words unique to Afghan civilizations are common occurrences in the book, making it difficult for people of different cultures to understand and relate to the characters. On the plus side, this book teaches readers about a culture different than their own. Not every detail will be understood, but it’s the immersion in a new culture that makes this book stand out from the crowd.

 

Personality Profile: Indiana author writes murder mysteries

by Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

He won both the Western Writers of America Spur Award and the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction twice. His books have been featured on the Best Books of Indiana list and have been translated and sold worldwide in Italian and Turkish. He has been nominated for a Derringer Award and won Elmer Kelton Fiction Book of the Year. No, this isn’t just any given author. These are the accomplishments of Larry D. Sweazy, an author and indexer that lives nearby in Noblesville, Indiana.

When he was a little boy, his favorite pastime was reading. This immense love for reading eventually sparked an interest in writing. “I loved books when I was a kid because I could escape and disappear, so I wanted to at some point figure out how I could do that for other people,” he said.

While he was in middle school and then high school, he discovered his interest in writing. The first piece of writing he ever wrote was a poem in eighth grade. His teacher told him, “You know, you’re a really good writer. You should pursue this, and get better at it.” This was the beginning of a pathway that would lead to a career.

As of now, Sweazy has published 14 books, eight westerns and six mysteries. Some of his most popular books are the ones included in the Marjorie Trumaine series, which include See Also Murder, See Also Deception, and See Also Proof. Allison Lenser, a freshman, has read this trilogy and loves how diverse these books are compared to other mystery books of this era. “Each one was unique in its own way,” she said.

Lenser then went on to explain how other murder mysteries take place in modern-day cities, but the Marjorie series is set in the 1960’s on a farm. This one simple element that was altered caused these books to stand out when compared to other mystery books of this era.

A unique aspect of Sweazy’s is his rather distinct writing style. Most authors make an outline before writing and mull over details until they have created the perfect storyline. Sweazy chooses to instead immerse himself in writing and see where the story takes him. “I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants… So I kind of know what’s going to happen, but I don’t know everything. I don’t want to know everything,” he said.

Writing books isn’t the only activity that Sweazy focuses on. He is also a freelance indexer. Cheryl Lenser, a friend of Sweazy’s, also indexes books for a living. “In several of Larry’s novels, he references his other skill–indexing books. Larry has the organizational ability to keep the characters, events, and timeline in mind as he crafts his stories,” she said. Larry’s exquisite indexing skills help organize his writing so his storyline makes sense.

Aside from writing and indexing, Sweazy also reviews books for a magazine, he is on the board of directors for the Midwest Writers Workshop, and he teaches writing courses at the Indiana Writing Center. “Usually everything I do is related to writing, in one way or another… [but] I do quite a bit of other things other than write.”

Sweazy has plans in the future to write and publish more books, as well as add to his current series. He doesn’t plan on slowing down and aims to feed his craving to write for as long as he can.

“I’ve got some young adult ideas I’d like to do, or some science fiction, or some literary novels. It just depends on if I ever get to them,” he said.