Category Archives: feature

The importance of becoming “greener”

by Halle Wynn/Staff Writer

Photo: Charles Lawrence, 9, demonstrates the importance of recycling. 

Saving the planet is as easy as turning off your lights, right before you leave for a long night. Turning off your lights can not only decrease electric bills, but save energy that individuals can utilize later on. People have to understand that the planet is polluted by trash and pollution  acts at a constant rate. Mr. John Rihm, science department, provided his definition of pollution as, “any substance that is introduced into the environment that is harmful.” In addition, Ms. Rebecca Fields, science department, added, “Pollution is an overabundance of something that is natural in the system or something that is unnatural in a natural system.”

Have you ever come in contact with a green or blue bin that features a “chasing arrows” symbol that is located on the center of the bin? These are recycling bins. Recycling bins help encourage people throughout the world, to recycle their waste. In schools, these bins are positioned in every classroom and every office. When a student is handed back a paper and does not feel the need to keep it, the student should go over to the recycling box. Putting reusable papers in the trash kills more trees and injures the land that we call home. Additionally, many towns, cities, and even organizations, promote this healthy behavior by advertising slogans and signs. In example, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” is an old slogan that Rihm said is still valid.

Not only is technology one of the major priorities to humans, but technology destroys our planet from the 1970’s when the first mobile phone was produced, to this generation’s Apple’s iPhone. To that extent, when a cell phone becomes a “dinosaur” or outdated, it is trashed, which then adds to the endless pile of pollution. Ms. Candy Smith, science department, said, “Technology has added to that trash pile with outdated devices.” To prevent more pollution; Fields suggested, “educating individuals so that they are not persuaded by the misinformation that technology gives.” If America provides education about what is happening to our planet, the youth would think differently and criticize the actions that they might or might not, choose to act on. As a matter of fact, Smith also added, “The youth better realize that the trash they produce now, will be here the rest of their lives.”

Although most of America has clean water, countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cambodia, Ghana, Nepal, Pakistan, and Mexico, do not, according to a recent US News article. Water is necessary for a human being to survive. When citizens are provided with dirty water, it leads to not only diseases, but destruction as well. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, about 801,000 children younger than 5 years of age perish from diarrhea each year, mostly in developing countries. This amounts to 11% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under the age of five and means that about 2,200 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases.  If people in developed countries  were to donate just a few cents to those who are not as privileged, the world would slowly become a better place. According to Wateraid, 844 million people do not have clean drinking water and that is a big problem that could turn into an even greater conflict that could eventually wipe out third world countries.

       Furthermore, rising sea levels are currently occurring in tropical areas of our world. This increase in water is a result that is caused by global warming. In fact, Oxford Living Dictionaries defines the phrase of global warming as “a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere…” Therefore, global warming is a dangerous aspect that is surprisingly not only damaging our world, but soon destructing the earth as a whole.

Smith believes, “Very few recycle.” This worldwide issue has increased throughout the years, starting with the third-world countries such as Haiti. Looking at all the worldwide issues that individuals face in the world today, poverty and pollution are at the top of the list.

“We have to figure out a way to recycle more,” added Smith. In society today, finding more ways to save the planet seems like a difficult task to accomplish. Although this world struggles, with all the damage stationed around, a low majority of people commit their time to making the planet a better and safe place for us to live in.

Some ways that those citizens commit their time to help protecting Mother Nature include: reusing their containers, recycling their ink cartridges, buying rechargeable batteries, buying cloth bags instead of paper or plastic, donating to charity, utilizing cloth towels rather than paper towels, and purchasing recyclable items that citizens can reuse in the further future. Overall, people should contribute their time to earthly actions that could help the world and help Mother Nature become more and more healthier, each passing day. As a matter of fact, Stephen Hawking once said, “We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”

 

Source: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/publiced/earthday/what.htm

 

Band and guard groups ready for competition season

The Cold Seasons

by Aden Kropp and Matt Haggard/Staff Writers

Photo: Indoor Percussion practices for competition. 

Blaring music, a wonderful beat, and the sight of beautiful flags flying in the air. This all is happening today, just not at the same time. Winter winds, indoor percussion, and guard are all practicing extremely hard to be the very best in the world.

Winter winds consists of all instruments that you use your breath to play, hence the latter part of the title, winter winds. Jackson Sipes, 11, and a key player in the wind’s show, named “The Heist,” commented on how the season is going. “I feel the season is going great,” he says, “Compared to past seasons we are doing quite well. The show is better and all of the kids are playing better.” Winter winds are working tirelessly every Tuesday and Thursday to prepare themselves on their way to the top.

Evan Fontaine, 12, said, “I think the season is progressing really well. A lot of us are working hard, practicing really hard.

Jenna Parsons, also 12, said, “I think the season is going really well. I’ve been in it all four years and I’ve seen, obviously, how each year goes, and I think this year we started at a higher level than we have in the past and we are still continuing to grow and get better.”

Fontaine talked about the group’s goals. “I think our goal is to keep progressing so that we don’t plateau or steadily get worse. I think our main goal is to progress and get better at the same rate with the same intentions.

 

Parsons said, “Obviously we want to win all the points and win all the shows, but like Evan said, ultimately, our goal is to get better and to grow as people and as musicians and as performers so even if we don’t win all the points we can still be growing and continuing to get better.”

Both Parsons and Fontaine mentioned their pride in their groups.

Fontaine said, “I am proud of the awareness that failure can bring, a lot of success because you can just try again, try different things to learn from your mistakes and just get better.”

Parsons said, “I’m proud of seeing how far, not only how far I’ve come in percussion but how far other people have come. I remember in my first season, obviously it was not very good, and just knowing how much I’ve grown each year. I’m really proud of that and i’m also proud of seeing how our younger members start they start out and how they grow each season, even like within one season how they start and how they finish.”

Indoor percussion has beating drums, delicate bells, and pretty much anything you use your hands to play. Dustin Brewster, 12, also thought the season is going very well. “We have a lot of exciting concepts and really talented people to work with.” They work every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to train for their show, “Watching You.” This training seems to be paying off, as they have placed first at almost every competition so far, with a minor bump in the road last Saturday. Hopefully, this trend in success will continue as they continue to improve their spectacular show.

When you see flags soaring through the air, you think of one group, guard. The Guard’s season, named “Out of the Darkness,” is having a very interesting season. They have gone to 5 or 6 shows so far, each with mixed results.

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month

by Ella Hunsinger/Staff Writer

Women’s History Week was originally discussed in 1981, when Congress passed a law proposing Women’s History Week.  This later led to recognition of Women’s History Month in 1987. The month of March focuses on empowering and celebrating women. Many schools around the world hold small celebrations to educate adolescents about the importance of this holiday and month.

The woman has played a huge part in history in all aspects of life. They have taken on careers such as U.S. Senators and Representatives, Secretaries of State, astronauts, engineers, and human rights activists. They have changed and influenced history in tremendous ways. Women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Oprah Winfrey, Jeannette Rankin (the first woman to hold a federal office), Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Obama, and Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman to fly in space) have all proven this to be true.

This month can be seen as controversial because of how and why it is celebrated. Many citizens feel strongly about this topic, and individuals might be curious to see how certain women feel about this holiday.  Lydia McIntire,11, women’s basketball player here at Greenfield Central said she felt Women’s History Month could be more acknowledge “I do not think we give this month enough recognition because I have only seen it all over social media for one day, also known as the official Women’s Day.” This has been a common statement within the community of women. Women’s History Month is relevant because it allows people to reflect on the importance of women.

The next question that has concerned many is “why is this month important/not important?” Jessica Farrell, 12, also a women’s basketball player at Greenfield Central, responded, “This is an important month because women have been through many things over the centuries and we deserve recognition for overcoming all of it.

Abby Phillips, 11, a dancer at Greenfield Central, thought we could give the issue a bigger platform. She stated that, “Social media is a good way to spread the word because it can reach a lot of people.” This was a very common response. In conclusion, Women’s History Month is an important time to celebrate the achievements and equality of not just women, but everyone. This month should be constant reminder of all the amazing things women did, and still do for the world.  

GC students provide prom dress shopping advice

by Hannah Rains/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Sarah Lucas, FCCLA vice-president of community service, inventories prom dresses for the dress drive. 

Prom dresses can get expensive. Some GC students have some suggestions on how to save money when dress shopping.  For example, FCCLA is hosting a prom dress drive March 12-16 after school and during enrichment blocks. This is for anyone that doesn’t want to spend too much money on a prom dress.  Dresses are only going to be $10.

The money that FCCLA makes from this drive will be used to purchase thread, sewing supplies and dry cleaning for FCCLA to do alterations and clean the dresses that get donated, said FCCLA vice-president of STAR events, Rayannon Overman, 12. Any donations of dresses can be dropped off at the main office.

“We are hoping that many students who wouldn’t normally go to prom or that don’t want to spend a lot of money on a dress will decide to go,” said Overman. “That way we can have as many people from our class there as possible so that everyone can enjoy themselves.”

Megan Roberts, 11, typically devotes a lot of time to finding the right prom dress.

“What I look for in a prom dress when I shop is something that fits my style and that will make me feel confident,” Roberts said.  “Also, I try to avoid the color I wore the year before.”

Roberts said she would buy a vintage dress if it fit her style and was something she personally felt she would look good wearing.

“I have done a prom dress drive before at New Pal and I never find anything for me that I would really like, but I think they are a great idea for someone who cannot afford an expensive dress.”

Roberts offered another tip on saving money on prom dresses. “What I do to save the on the cost of my prom dress would be I go to stores such as Macy’s or Windsor that have cheaper dresses compared to a prom dress store,” she said.

Kate Thompson, 12, said when she shops for prom dresses, she normally looks at the color of the dress and the way it looks. Thompson said she would be interested in the prom dress drive.

“New prom dresses cost way to much money and it is only for a one night thing so why spend a lot of money on a dress I’m going to wear one time?” Thompson asked.

“A prom dress drive is a good idea because it would give you more options and probably cost way less,” said Thompson.

Greenfield elderly offer their views

by Halle Wynn/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: National Honor Society members spend time with residents of Greenfield Health Care.

The Greenfield-Central newspaper staff decided to get the inside scoop on the opinions and views of senior citizens, living in Greenfield. The young speak their minds, but what about the other views in this world? What about the elderly views? Elders feature more experience and knowledge, compared to the young. What is their opinion of the world, on the society, and all it is ‘advancements’ that have been recently occurring?

“In society today, you don’t know who has the right to state their opinion and you also don’t know who your neighbors are,” Betsy Keir, age 77, asserts passionately.

“People should have the nobility to sit down and consider everybody’s opinions. Now people go solo with the theme of it is ‘my way or the highway,’” said Dan Riley, age 68.

“Human beings are different these days, humans have different values and interests,” stated Mary Walker, age 90. Values are critical to living. They are critical, due to your values supporting the decisions that you choose to perform, both negative and positive. Recently, the world as a whole, has values that revolve around technology.  “It seems like this new generation was born with knowing how to work technology,” added Walker.

 

Driving is an art that the majority of the population, enjoys. Scott Kleine, age 72, said that “there are too many distracted drivers.” Years ago, humans did not have this type of easy transportation that people may take for granted. Most relied on riding bikes, buses, or simply walking. “Everything is so much faster. Everything around me seems to be creating speed and having a faster pace,” affirmed Norman Kleifgen, age 81.

It is interesting how things change, throughout the years. Now, the majority of citizens turn to their phones for entertainment and connections, rather than going outside to play kickball or visiting the nearest food pantry to volunteer and help the less fortunate. “Excellence could arise in different ways, when people contribute their time to helping others,” said Walker. “When people help others it shows their humanity.”

 

History is a part of our lives. History shows what and where we were made from. Different races, genders, and religions, live together in this world. Kleifgen believes, “Anytime in history when different cultures or colors are joined together, hatred composes.” Hatred has frequently been a problem in this society. “People might not know this but if we put aside all the hatred and cruelty, everyone could have the chance to succeed.”

 

In previous decades, the normal thing was for wives to clean and cook, while their husbands work and brought home the money. Now, everyone has the equal opportunity to employ themselves and have the option to nurture a family or not. In addition, anybody and everybody has an opinion about what they might or might not choose to do with their life and their career. Robert Kons, age 84, suggested, “If we did things right in the world, the world would probably come out better than what it currently is.” Kons, believes everyone should have an opinion, but sadly everybody doesn’t care enough to have an opinion. “It is up to us to make sure the world is a good place and to make sure every citizen of this world has an opinion, but even that is hard to do.”

The pros and cons of Valentine’s Day

by Ella Hunsinger/Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day has always been a two-sided holiday. For some people, it is a day to celebrate the love you have for your significant other. For others, it is just a reminder of how single they are.

I was curious to find out how couples benefited from this holiday, or if they thought this day holiday was necessary. Valentine’s Day has always been controversial, in regards to it being necessary or not. There are also several stigmas surrounding the holiday, giving it a somewhat bad reputation. Society has made this day more of a chore than a time to celebrate. Therefore, couples in relationships have to meet certain expectations that single people do not.

I discussed the benefits of this holiday with a few teachers around the school, who all have a different relationship status. The first teachers I asked were Mrs. (Jill) and Mr. (Jeff) Slinker. They are a married couple with similar views on the holiday. Without Valentine’s Day, “we would be fine. There are expectations that need to be fulfilled if you are in a relationship. If you are single, the day is made to make you feel bad about yourself,” said Mrs. Slinker. Her husband, Mr. Slinker, agreed that the holiday was not necessary.

In addition to getting a married couple’s perspective, I wanted to get a better understanding of how single people might feel on this day. I decided to interview Ms. Erin Grimes and Ms. Sonja Jaggers.

“This holiday is unnecessary because we should be told that we are loved every day,” stated Grimes. However, Jaggers did not feel the same. “Valentine’s Day is absolutely necessary. It is one day set aside to love one another and show your appreciation to the ones you love. We can all benefit from this.”

Valentine’s Day is a holiday to celebrate love, but also a day for people to reflect on past and present relationships. Whether you are single, married, dating, or divorced, we could all use an extra dose of love and happiness. Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

Shakespeare Monologue Competition turns 20

By: Analicia Cass/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Aubree Brinkruff, 9, and Emma Hilton, 9, posing in their fairy costumes

Greenfield Central’s Annual Shakespeare Monologue Competition took place on Jan. 29. Mrs. Schoeff’s Gifted and Talented Language class puts on this competition every year where competitors of all grades 9-12 perform a monologue in the hopes of making it to state.

The Gifted and Talented class does extensive research overall topics in the Elizabethan Era. They write a research paper, study the lifestyle, and get a sense of life at the time. The class works for 2 months to prepare for the final show. The night of the competition, the students have costumes that represent the people, food that represents their meals, and music and dancing that represent the entertainment of the Elizabethan Era. There is a setting for actors to perform in that represents a place you are likely to see at the time. There are also fairies who run around and tease the audience as they would do in Shakespeare’s plays.

Each section of the show is managed by one student; a student will manage the food, one for the instruments, one for the singing, and so on. The leader of the vocal groups Elysabeth Davenport, 9, said: “I feel that, because of the attention to detail that went into choosing music by composers of the era, that they accurately reflected the Elizabethan Era of England.”

All performers choose and rehearse a monologue to the best of their ability. They add character and feelings to their monologues. While performing, they attempt to represent the character and all they embodied in Shakespeare’s plays. These performers have as much as 1 month and as little as two weeks to prepare themselves for the night of the competition. Before they perform their monologue, they must give a brief explanation of the play up to the point of their speech.

Megan Ward, 12, was one of the nearly 20 performers that night. “I practiced my monologue a lot.  In front of the mirror, in the car, everywhere. I think people started to get annoyed.  But my hard work paid off,” said Ward.

Judges watch and take the emotion, character, and the play up to the point of the chosen monologue into account. They are judging on the performance and ability of the actors. The judges are the most important piece of this competition, for it is them who choose who advances.

The night goes through a series of events starting with an introduction of the time, some music while the audience chooses their seat and a trumpet interlude. The performances commence and after about an hour of different monologues from different plays and unique performances, the judges head off to choose the top 3 places.

During the time that the judges are gone, the food and beverages are served, singing and instrumental representations of the time are performed, and some dancing of the people is all a part of the show. Upon the return of the judges, everyone sits and a hush falls over the audience. The third and second place winners are announced. Finally, the first place winner is announced and awarded a medal.

This year’s winner was Megan Ward. The first place winner will proceed to state, where she will perform her monologue again and also add a memorized sonnet to the performance. Ward said, “Winning this competition is amazing. It was a great experience, and I love that I get to go to state, and hopefully represent Greenfield at Nationals!  The best part will be seeing other actors bringing feedback to next year’s competitors.”

Voigt brings new energy to theatre department

by Mariam Elassal/Staff Writer

Students and teachers have been welcoming Ms. Carolyn Voigt,  the new theater and English teacher to GC. With plenty of previous experience and planning, she hopes to unite the theater program to bring  showstoppers to the GC auditorium.

After joining the theatre troupe at Greenfield-Central, Voigt loved the theatre community. “I loved the overwhelming sense of community that the department had to offer, especially since I was going through a tough time at that point in my life. Once I realized that the Theatre Education program was an option, I went for it!” She also stated that through the GC theatre program, she was able to audition for an All-State show at the Indiana State Thespian Festival, which led to the start of her work with Michael Deahn, Professor of Theatre Education at Ball State University.

Voigt’s passion for theatre is derived from the endless possibilities to keep teaching fresh and compelling. “We could discuss the history of theatre from Ancient Greece to the Italian Renaissance, or explore how costumes were drastically different depending on the time in history. We could design our own light shows or orchestrate sound clips for production. The possibilities are endless,” Voigt said.

Voigt has performed in a total of twelve productions in the past seven years. “I have directed and assistant directed eight shows, including a few popular titles like Shrek: The Musical (performed at Burris Laboratory), Cinderella: The Musical (performed at Flat Rock River, and The Boxcar Children (Performed at Muncie Civic Theatre),” Voigt stated.

As a new teacher, Voigt has her own goals for the theater program. “My overall goal is to really unite the theater department by establishing myself as a new presence in the department while also getting to know the kids.” She is eager for the Spring Musical entitled Once Upon a Mattress which will feature eccentric characters, witty humor, dancing, and catchy tunes.

Like their teacher, students are most excited for the spring musical because it is one of the most publicized events of the year. Students and teachers are looking forward to watching the theater program evolve and expand with the help of Ms. Voigt.

 

One Acts take the stage

by Megan Schoonover/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Peyton Bousman, 12, does Abigail Martin’s hair for the “Mouth of Babes” One Act. 

    Despite the name One Acts has 4 separate acts all taking place at one show. The acts are, “Mouth of Babes”, “When God Comes for Breakfast, Don’t Burn the Toast”, “Superhero Sanitarium”, and “Just Desserts”. Every act has its own separate actors, directors, set, and story. However, every show that’s a part of One Acts is a comedy.

    Mina Dobbins, 10, who is an actor for “Mouth of Babes”, explained, “I like how each show is different. Now that sounds like an obvious answer, but I find it very interesting to hear about what my friends and classmates are working on when I’m not a part of it.”

    The “Mouth of Babes” is one of the shows in One Acts. This act is about two little boys and a little girl who are at a daycare and are plotting to overthrow the monitor. One may wonder how teenagers could pull off being toddlers but this act appears to pull it off. The main character (a 6 year old boy) is played by Mina Dobbins.

    Dobbins, 10, stated, “Well, my character is a 6 year old boy, and I’m a 15 year old girl, so there are obviously differences between my character and I. I assume I can relate to him in the way that the other characters seem to think he’s irrational, which I get a lot.”

    Elaine Hilton, 11, director for Mouth of Babes, said in regards to what she likes to focus on when directing, “When working with my actors I like to help them understand why their characters say and do what they do. This allows the actors to play the roles to the best of their ability.”

    The second show is “When God Comes for Breakfast, Don’t Burn the Toast”. In this show it is a normal occurrence for God to come to breakfast sometimes. However, things keep going wrong because the wife keeps burning the toast. But in the end things aren’t always what they seem.

    Hayden Botorff, 11, plays Harry Katzman in this act. “What I like most about my show compared to other ones is that the cast is only 3 people, so bonding and connecting is a lot easier, although getting in the way of productivity.”

    The third show is “Superhero Sanitarium”. In this act a journalist investigates happenings at an asylum where four mentally disabled men claim to be superheros.

 Cameron Going, 12, who plays Dimbulb in this act, said, “What I like most about my show is the overall goofiness of its plot. I am a goofy person at heart so I relate to it more. This show is one of the most ridiculous shows I’ve ever done. Some of the things we say and do in this show are so far in left field that I don’t think I’ve ever done I another show before.”

Due to the men claiming to be superheroes, they wear bright, colorful and interesting costumes.

    Dharma Tilley, 12, who’s in charge of costumes, said, “The shows are all present day so the costumes fairly came easily. However, each show has its own style. For example, “From the Mouths of Babes” and “Just Desserts” have costumes that reflect the different personalities of each of the characters, in “When God Comes to Breakfast, Don’t Burn the Toast” the characters are wearing pajamas most of the time, and “Superhero Sanitarium” consists of colorful tights, capes, and masks.”

    Tilley, 12, recalled, “During shows I’m mostly just nervous about a costume piece getting ruined in some way and having to find a replacement in the dark. Once an actor’s shoe broke during a show and I had to hot glue it back together as fast as possible so he didn’t miss his next entrance.”

    The last act is “Just Desserts”, and is about a crazy family. In the words of the program for One Acts “Just Desserts”, “Where there’s a will, there’s a relative. This was never truer than in the case of the late Desmond Clairborn. And greed was never better represented than in the relatives of the deceased. There’s a fast-talking nephew, a demented son and his Marilyn Monroe look-alike wife, a starchild niece and two sisters, one feisty, the other senile. This farce has more twists than a pretzel, and half the fun is watching who gets what and the other half is watching them get it.”

    Madison Sample, 10, who plays Delphine Delago in this act, comments,  “I love all of the quirky characters in “Just Desserts”. The other cast just do such an amazing job playing their parts and I hope it will be super fun to watch. Every single character is so awful that it’s comical. For example, my character, Delphine Delago, is the worst grandma in the world. She is just so uptight and rude, it’s such a fun part to play.”

   Jordan Brickler, 12, who is the director for “Just Desserts”, explained her favorite things about directing. “My favorite part about directing is creating something from nothing. All a script is, is words. You’re the one who makes it into something. You choose the actors, set, props, makeup, hair, etc.”

Every single act of One Acts was executed without a hiccup. One can tell how hard everyone works and how much work they’ve put into the entire thing.

    Sample, 10, said, “I love One Acts because it is just kind of a mess. At the beginning of the show you have no idea how this show is going to come together. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, you are an old lady sitting in your deceased brother’s living room with a cigarette in one hand and a bourbon glass in the other. I think it is amazing how the crew can create these awesome sets, how costume and makeup and hair can make you look like your character, and how everyone in the booth can provide flawless sound and lighting. I just love how every member of the crew and the cast work together to make something worth going to see.”

 

Exchange students discuss holiday traditions

by Jesse Meeks and Audrey Martin

The GC foreign exchange program started around 1994. “Every year about nine students from other countries come to Greenfield Central High School to see what our school and the United States is all about. They stay for a full school year with families from the school called ‘host families,’ said Mrs. Myra Dye from the counseling department.

The students do not all come from the same country. They are spread throughout the world. Robin Siminski, 11, for example, is from Cologne, Germany. Siminski explained his holiday traditions at home. “Our Christmas traditions start on Dec. 1. Most families have a calendar that has 24 tiny doors and on each day through the 24th you get to open one of those doors and it has chocolate or a little present behind it. On Dec. 5, the little children of Cologne put their clean shoes in front of a door or in front of a fireplace and overnight their parents put little presents and a chocolate ‘Santa Claus’ in their shoes. This is based on Saint Nicholas from Turkey who was a famous, compassionate priest.”

American Christmas traditions are a new and different experience for some exchange students. Aziza Shamyrbekova, 11, for example, is from Kyrgyzstan. In her country only about 15% of the population is Christian; the rest is Muslim. Instead of their big holiday being Christmas, their big celebration at this time of year is on New Year’s. “We have something in common with America because we also decorate a tree. It looks the same as a Christmas tree, but we don’t exchange gifts. We have a family dinner on the Dec. 31 watching New Year’s TV shows and movies until 12 AM. Once the clock hits 12, we celebrate and start to listen to the live TV program about how our president wishes good things for next year. After this, we do fireworks outside in the yard.”

Another student whose traditions are different are Lutfiye Cam. “My country (Germany) does celebrate christmas, but my family does not because of my religion. I am a Muslim, and we don’t celebrate any holidays beside New Year’s in December.”

Another example of how end-of-the-year holidays can be different between America and other countries is that in Germany, instead of saying “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” some families say, “Merry Everything and Happy Always.”  

Ignacio Molina, 11, said, “In Spain, Christmas is very different from America. We are Catholic, so we follow Catholic Christmas. We don’t have (Santa), we have the Three Magic Kings.”

In regards to what host families are doing for the holidays, It’s both similar and different. For Cam, this is her first experience of an American Christmas. “This is a very new and exciting experience for me. As far as I know we are decorating the Christmas tree, decorating the house with lights, making a gingerbread house and buying presents for each other.”

“I am very excited to be spending Christmas with my host family this year. We will be having a big family dinner and doing a gift exchange,”Shamyrbekova said.

Holidays away from home can be tough for anyone, but for exchange students being away from their culture for a year can make being away for the holidays harder. Molina was upbeat about it, though. “It’s hard being away for the holidays but when we had our first holiday this year, Thanksgiving, instead of being sad I stayed positive and thought about how it reminded me of my family.”