Category Archives: opinion

GC students make book recommendations

by Della Hedge/Staff Writer

These books come highly recommended from Honors English 10. 

One book I read last semester was You Say It First by Katie Conugo. This book is so good. It’s about two very different people who live in two very different states who somehow find themselves in love. They fight and make up and eventually end up together. The writing style is so good; it’s told by both characters and it’s definitely packed with twists and turns and so many different ideas.This was the first book I read by Conugo but definitely not the last. I definitely recommend this book if you like the Opposites Attract idea. -Della Hedge 

I read over the summer It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. I definitely jumped on the bandwagon and I don’t regret it at all. The way Colleen drives her writing is absolutely amazing. This starts with a teenage girl who falls in love with a boy who had to move due to family issues. She also eventually moves to get out of her toxic house and falls for a guy who she thinks is a wonderful person and he turns out to be a horrible husband. She finds out her teenage boyfriend is in the same state as her and they reconnect. This book has so many plot twists and dark turns; it keeps you interested in the whole book. -Della Hedge 

I read a book last semester that brought me to tears on multiple different occasions. It is Tilt by Ellen Hopkins. This book talks about real world issues and real teenage stories. Some ideas most authors stray away from because they are sensitive topics, but Hopkins didn’t and it was so good. Some of the topics she covers are: teen pregnancy, teen substance abuse, depression, anxiety etc. She also wrote in verse which just made the whole book better. She writes in three different points of view, and tells three very real stories. Each character has a very different story but can relate to everyone in the end. This is my favorite book I have ever read. It’s genuinely so good. -Della Hedge

I recommend Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. It’s a book with deep topics, but is very relatable in some situations. Light is being shed on things people don’t really like to talk about. Real stories that almost every teen can relate to. -Isabella Marquez

I read Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. In the book the country has different rules to keep people from being “Flawed.” It’s an interesting book that’s hard to put down with a lot of twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. -Tanessa O’Neal

I read The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. In this nonfiction book the author talks about all of his different worldly experiences. He brings you through how to understand yourself and others better. Matt Haig also lets you know it is okay to not be okay. If you need to take a moment no one should be judged for it. It has helped me learn more about how to act and treat others. -Lauren Sherman

The Christmas Riddle

by Megan Bundy/Staff Writer

The Christmas Riddle 

Photo Link:

I remember waking up in the early morning on December 25th, Christmas Day, and not hearing anything. No creature was stirring, not even a mouse, which was unusual in our rather busy house. I creaked open the door and carefully tiptoed out of my room, making sure not to disturb my parents and brothers, who at the time I assumed they were still sleeping. I peeked over the stair railing and saw it—the bright, glimmering Christmas tree, and below it a few presents just for me.

I excitedly called out at the sight before shutting my mouth with blight, whipping around carefully to see if anyone had heard my cry. But no one had stirred in response, which left me with a feeling of unease. Had they been particularly sleepy this morning? I would find out later, I thought, and with mischief I scampered down the stairs to the tree, smiling at the beauty with glee. I waited for a moment to see if any noise had come from my parents’ room, and when none had I grabbed a shiny red present and sat down. I shook it carefully, hearing a jingling of bells inside. I gave it a strange look, shook it again, and decided to open it.

My hands carefully unwrapped the bow on the present, and I set it aside to rip off the wrapping paper. After I tore it off, which the tearing of the paper was quite loud, I stopped for a minute to listen for someone, but no sound came. I looked back at the present and opened the box, seeing a pair of silver jingle bells on the bottom. They ringed again, causing me to pick them up and look at the note on the side. The note read “To find the greatest gift of all, bring these jingle bells to a one-horse open sleigh, and complete all the tasks given to you before the light of day.”

My curiosity was piqued, so I went off upstairs to grab my boots, gloves and coat, nearly knocking into my toy wooden boat. I slipped them all on and ran back downstairs again, exiting from my front door. The grandfather clock down the hall had read exactly 5:00 AM, and the sun would not be rising for at least another hour. I was determined to find the greatest gift, and I would have to use all my grit. I carefully stepped down the porch steps and walked down towards my neighborhood sidewalk, careful not to talk.

I searched around town for a one-horse open sleigh. I had found a two-horse open sleigh and even one with three, but I hadn’t found one until I saw a tree. Beside it was the sleigh I had been looking for! I raced for it happily, but saw nothing inside or beside it until I noticed a note. I grabbed it and read it, and it said “Ride back home quickly with the sleigh, and deck the halls of your rather bland abode.” I gave the note a weird look, thinking that my home must be already gorgeous enough for the holidays, but I hopped on the sleigh seat and waited for the horse to take me home. With a neigh it started off on its way.

When I had arrived back home, I thanked the horse for the ride and ran inside and through the house to our garage, looking around for a big, cardboard box with a ton of Christmas decor inside. I picked out garlands and extra little toys and trinkets to place around. I found it so strange how no one in my family had taken time this year to decorate abound. I thought that maybe the reason was from all the work my parents have been doing this season.

I carefully decorated the stair railing with green garlands with red bows and added the Christmas village to our entertainment center. I hung up some more lights around home, hoping to raise the Christmas spirit and get closer to completing my tasks. After I was done, I let out a contented sigh, but wondering if the notes were just a lie. No other note or sign had been given to me, and I was left without glee without my family’s company.

“I wish my family was here with me right now,” I told myself, sadness filling my heart. For the first time in a while, I realized how much I missed them when they weren’t around. I felt so alone. Then, the grandfather clock down the hall had chimed 6:00 AM and I saw a slimmer of sunlight appearing over the horizon out the window. Grumbly, I stumbled back up the stairs to my room, quickly falling asleep on my bed.

I woke up, some sunlight streaming through my window. I rubbed my eyes and looked outside again, seeing lots of snowfall outside with some barely noticeable horseshoe prints on the snow. Excitedly, I remembered that it was Christmas morning, and saw that it was 8:00 AM on the alarm clock next to my bed. I jumped out of bed, racing back to the stairs, but stopped at the top suddenly.

“Mom? Dad?” I called out, walking downstairs and looking around. I called out for my brothers as well, but to no response. Disappointed, I walked back over to the tree, noticing how there were more presents than earlier this morning. A small one, tucked away, caught my attention. I kneeled down and saw that it was for me, ripping it open. Inside was another note. It read “You already have the greatest gift of all.”

As soon as I finished reading the note, I heard my family open their bedroom doors and come downstairs excitedly. I turned around and smiled at their presence. 

“You’re already up!” my brother commented.

I shrugged. “I’ve been up. I went all over town trying to find the greatest Christmas gift of all!”

My dad gave me a strange look. “What do you mean? We would’ve known if you had left the house, silly. You were sound asleep this morning for sure, unless you jumped from your window!”

I tried to process this for a moment. I then concluded that I must’ve been dreaming of my adventure this morning, since finding a random horse with a sleigh by a tree would’ve been pretty strange. However, it didn’t explain the horseshoe prints this morning or the notes. I shrugged it off. “I guess I must’ve been dreaming of it!”

My whole family laughed with me about the idea, and I felt truly warm and happy the first time this holiday season.

“Let’s open up these presents!” My mom exclaimed. We all gathered around, laughing and talking, and I continued to feel the warmth in my heart, realizing that it isn’t all about the presents, the decorations, or the mood you were in. I truly did have the greatest gift of all—a loving family, just for me.

Another Amazing Day at Santa’s Workshop

by Esther Bell/Staff Writer

Photo Source:

I’m dreaming about reindeer with candy-cane horns when I am awoken by the sound of sleigh bells. My eyes pop open and I feel a smile take shape on my face. I can smell cinnamon in the air, and look out the window to see snow falling gently from the sky. Already I can feel excitement flow through me when I imagine the full day ahead of me. Honestly, it’s hard not to be excited when you’re one of Santa’s elves.

I hear my siblings, too many of them to count, getting ready in the next room. I put on my favorite red dress, eat some snickerdoodles for breakfast, then leave my room to join them in the hallway.

“Alright, listen up,” my sister Kyla, the leader of my group, says. “Santa needs 900 toy cars ready ASAP. Today, we’re doing red pickup trucks. Let’s get to work!” She turns abruptly, then leads us single-file to a large, colorful building that sits at the very center of our small town in the North Pole. We call it Santa’s Workshop.

Inside, hundreds of elves are already hard at work. I can hardly keep track of what everyone is doing. It’s always loud here, with everyone bustling about, little hammers tapping at a wide assortment of things, elves calling out greetings to each other.

Before I know it, we’ve arrived at our work table, and little pickup trucks are already being passed down to me. I am the painter of our group, so I make sure that every inch of every toy is painted, every stroke of my brush gentle and meticulous. It’s something I adore doing. After I and the other painters are done with our toys, they are placed neatly in a large pile to be inspected later today.

By the time the sleigh bells ring again, announcing lunchtime, we’ve finished 572 toy cars. Everyone stops what they’re doing, and we stream out the big wooden doors. As I approach the picnic tables that sit just outside the workshop, I see my brother Jack, and walk over to him.

“Hello!” he says brightly to me. “What are you working on today?”

“Little red pickup trucks,” I reply, and sit down at a table. “How about you?”

Jack plops himself down next to me. “Santa is having us bake gingerbread cookies for everyone as a special treat,” he says, smiling. “We’ve even decided to put everybody’s names on them. He gave us a list so we didn’t forget a single person.”

I smile back at him, then begin my lunch. We chat for a while, and soon have a large group of friends sitting around us. Eventually, we hear the bells chime again, and return to our separate tasks. I get back to work, and in no time, my group has made 900 cars.

Now comes the best part, when Santa himself arrives to inspect our creations. It’s my favorite part of every day. I hear his jolly laugh, and wait impatiently, as I always do, beside our stack of trucks, watching him in his bright red suit as he encourages the other elves on their work, calling each of them by name. I don’t know how he finds time every day to do this, but I love it.

Soon enough, Santa reaches the end of our table. He picks up one of our cars, looks at it carefully, turning it over in his hands, then turns his twinkling eyes to me. He smiles warmly. “Well done, Layni,” he says, and I can’t help beaming with pride. “It’s perfect.” He winks at me, then moves on to the next elf.

As I lie in my bed later, looking out my window at the bright, shining stars above, I smile, tucking away another amazing day into my memory to never forget, and drift off to sleep.

Saving Jingle

by Janna Hopper

Photo/Clip Art:

“Tinsel! Where in the bottom of St. Nick’s cuppa cocoa is your hat?” I wince apprehensively and stop in front of Jolly’s (my boss) office. I don’t know who named him Jolly, but I would count it as a mistake. His thick eyebrows and perpetual frown have never made him come across as the friendly type. It sure doesn’t help that he always seems to catch me with my hat off.

“I uh- I lost it, sir,” I lie. Truth is, I can’t stand the way the scratchy wool never fits over my ears properly and the stupid bell on the end never stops ringing. I hope the mice under the cupboard enjoy their new sleeping bag.

“Lost it? Again?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Fine, fine. I really don’t have time for this anyhow,” he grumbles, waving his hand at me dismissively. I really should take my cue and scurry on out of here before he changes his mind. But spending the rest of the day at my cubicle answering calls about Amazon delays isn’t all that enticing.

“Is something wrong, sir?” I pry innocently. Jolly glares up at me from his desk. Then he sighs and rubs his temples, looking worn out.

“Have you ever done any field work, Tinsel?”

“Yes, sir.” He nods slowly as the memory surfaces.

“That’s right… you were a shelf elf once, correct?”

“Yes, sir,” I agree nervously, shuffling my feet. He watches me for a few more moments before tossing me a bundle of papers.

“Good. I need you to report to mission control. One of our field agents needs backup, but everyone else is occupied with Christmas coming up so soon. Go on now, make yourself useful. Or I will have to report you for your missing hat again.”

“Thank you, sir!” I clutch the bundle of papers and rush down the halls towards mission control. A few of the other elves give me odd looks, but everyone is so frantic with preparations that no one can be bothered to stop and ask me what is happening.

At last I make it into the control room. I have missed this place. Its shimmering glass pipes transporting letters from here to there, brass machinery whirring away. Polished mahogany floors and skylights high in the ceiling. Elves work at stations all over the room, rushing about to share notes and request assistance. I used to work here. Spend my time watching for updates and then grab my suit and rush out the moment I was needed. Of course, that was before the whole incident.

“Tinsel? Is that you?” The incredulous voice comes from my left and I turn to face Carol, my old partner that would relay me information from here in mission control.

“Hey, Carol,” I greet, feeling a little shy and awkward being back here again. She doesn’t seem to care, as she rushes over and yanks me into a hug.

“I’ve missed you so much!”

“Careful,” I gasp. “You might rip the papers.” She pulls away and I offer up the bundle Jolly gave me. Carol opens and quickly reads it. By the time she is finished, her eyes are wide.

“This is serious,” she remarks. She grabs my hand and pulls me toward the far end of the room. A few heads turn our way, one in particular that I had been hoping to avoid. The hunking idiot by the name of Fruitcake. Just like that traditional food, he is hard to deal with and never seems to go away.

“Hey, babe! Miss me much?” Fuming, I try to turn around and face him, likely with my fists. Only Carol’s gentle hand stops me.

“Easy there, redhead. Fruitcake is trying to get you to react, remember? He still hasn’t got it through to his head that we control girls would rather deck him than have a chat over cocoa.”

“I’m not a control girl anymore,” I murmur. Carol places a hand on my shoulder and smiles.

“Don’t be silly, Tinsel. Once a field agent, always a field agent. That’s just how it is.” I grin and follow Carol to the pods, ignoring Fruitcake’s remarks about girls in the workplace. How he ever managed to get hired in the workshop is beyond me.

As I change into a suit and put on the proper gear, Carol prepares the pod and explains the mission to me.

“An agent named Jingle reported having a bit of trouble with his host family a few days back. Since then, he has dropped off the grid. We need you to go in and see what has happened, getting him out of there if you have to. Be on the lookout, though. I hear that part of the problem he was having is that the kids in this house are quite grabby. You don’t want the humans to touch you. Though I don’t have to remind you about that, do I?”

“I haven’t completely lost my touch,” I laugh. Carol helps me get my communicator connected and double checks that it is working. Then I am ready to go, black belt packed with gadgets and the pod fueled with its destination set.

“Good luck,” Carol tells me as she gives me one last hug. “Ring me up the moment you need something, okay?”

“Okay.” She steps back and the door to the pod slides closed. I strap myself into its singular seat and hold on tight as it launches into the air. I feel it picking up speed, flying higher and higher into the air, before the elven techno-magic kicks in. With a hiss, the door opens once again and allows me to jump into the cold night above a sleeping neighborhood. I love travel magic. Imagine having to sit through the seven hour flight needed to get here from the north pole!

The cold air stings my face as I fall, limbs spread to slow my descent. I locate the house I have been directed to and pull my parachute when I am over it. With a gentle bump, I land on the window sill and peer in through the glass as I clean up my chute. A large Christmas tree is situated in the corner of the living room. The house is glowing softly with cheerful lights and little paper snowflakes hang from the ceiling.

I pull a small, snowflake shaped disk from my belt. Attaching it to the window, I lean forward and whisper the password into its tiny microphone.

“Snow light, snow bright, let me in this house tonight.” The device shimmers and lets out a pulse. The glass ripples and I quickly step through like it is made of water. Once inside, I deactivate the disk and it falls from the window, giving me just enough time to grab it before the glass returns to normal.

I turn and scan the living room for possible problems. There is a cat tree in one corner, but blessedly no dog bed or toys. A bookshelf nearby holds lots of picture frames and bobbles. I am just about to jump to the ground and go searching for our missing elf when I hear a noise.

“Psst! Hey! Over here!” Peeking out from behind a picture of a family with three young kids is an elf wearing the classic red suit of a shelf elf. He waves at me and I use a grappling hook to quickly join him on the shelf.

“Agent Jingle?” I whisper. He nods vigorously, glancing around the room like he is worried about being caught.

“That’s me.”

“I’m ag- er. Tinsel.”

“Not an agent?” He looks at me curiously.

“I was an agent, at one point. But that’s not important. Why haven’t you been checking in? HQ is getting worried and mission control is in a panic because all the other agents are on assignment.”

“Oh yeah.” Jingle suddenly looks nervous, fearful even. “I’ve been trying to put myself in harder to reach places where the kids can’t reach me. No matter how many times their parents tell them not to, they keep trying. So I was high up on a shelf a few mornings ago. The oldest kid found me pretty quick and started trying to get me. The next youngest told him to stop and they got into a fight. They bumped the shelf and because they were so close, I couldn’t move, and… well…” It is then that I notice the bandage wrapped around his right leg. He reaches into a pocket and shows me the shattered remains of his communicator with a strained smile.

“I’m so sorry…” I murmur. His only response is a shrug. “I’ll go call this in, alright?” I walk a little ways away and lean against a dusty photo album while Jingle keeps watch. I use my communicator to reach Carol and she picks up after only a minute or so.

“Everything okay, Tin?”

“I’ve found Jingle. You were right, the kids here play rough. His communications equipment is broken and he’s been injured.”

“Then the two of you need to get back to HQ.”

“How should we do that?”

“I can have a pod sent your way. Should arrive in about a half hour or so.”

“Understood.” After cutting the transmission, I turn and walk back over to Jingle. “Mission control is sending transport our way. We shouldn’t have to wait for long.” I sit down next to him with a sigh, observing the quiet house.

“So Tinsel… how is it that you were once an agent? What happened?” I consider not answering his question. But it’s hardly a secret and he seems to be genuinely curious about it.

“I was a field agent assigned to a family of four,” I begin softly. “I know we are not supposed to get attached, but I loved those kids. They were so sweet and careful around me. However, they had an older cousin who wasn’t nearly so good. She came to visit a week before Christmas. She kept taunting them for believing that I was real, kept trying to destroy their Christmas spirit. Then one day she tried to grab me to prove her point. They did their best to protect me, but she was much older than them. And I did the one thing a field agent is never supposed to do.”

“You moved,” Jingle whispered, sounding somewhat awed.

“I couldn’t let her break their hearts like that. So yes, I moved when they could see. Not only to avoid the cousin, but so they would still believe. We didn’t have the same tech as we do now; there was no way to fix it. I went back to HQ that Christmas and was placed in a cubicle almost straight away.”

“I can’t even imagine.”

“It wasn’t ideal.” I turn and smile at him. “But it was worth it.” He is about to respond when we are interrupted by a new voice entering the room.

“Mr. Elfyyy! Where aaaaare youuuuu?” Comes a sing-song whisper as a small figure appears before the shelf. Jingle goes pale, moving as far from the edge of the shelf as quietly as he possibly can. The kid keeps searching, trying to coax Jingle out of hiding.

I check my watch. We still have a good ten minutes before our pod arrives. And we need to get outside to meet it. I silently walk over and help Jingle to his feet, lending my support as best I can. We make it to the far side of the bookshelf nearest to the window. From there, it would be a simple matter of using my grappling hook again to swing us over to the window sill. If not for the kid still searching the room.

I wait for as long as I can, until the kid is far enough away. I pull out my grappling hook and take aim. Before I can pull the trigger, a clatter comes from behind us. The kid is back by the bookshelf, knocking photos out of the way in search of us. We back as far into the corner as we can. It isn’t enough. The kid is getting closer.

Seven minutes until pod arrival,” a soft mechanical voice warns in my ear. Time to stop thinking and start acting. I press my grappling hook into Jingle’s hand. Then I run a few steps and roll away from his position. Just as I had hoped, the kid notices the movement and turns towards me instead. Grubby fingers search for me around the frame I crouch behind. Taking careful aim, I throw my snowflake-like device as hard as I can. It hits the window perfectly and emits its silent pulse.

Jingle looks at the window, then turns back to me. I gesture frantically for him to get out of here, but he shakes his head, refusing to leave. I huff with frustration and try to come up with a plan of action when the kids fingers finally brush against my arm.

The whole thing about elve’s losing their magic if you touch them is a myth. We don’t personally have magic, just a bunch of highly advanced technology (though we do borrow Christmas magic sometimes; don’t even get me started on the reindeer). Something does happen when we are touched by humans, though. We suddenly go limp, unable to move. I don’t know why, probably some ancient defense mechanism from the days before we worked for Santa Claus. So the moment the kid touches me, I collapse into a heap. No matter how I struggle, I can’t move as the kid reaches out to pull me from my hiding place.

“Tinsel!” I hear Jingle shout. Then something runs into me from behind. Jingle and I collide with the frame that has been hiding me and go flying off the edge of the shelf. An arm wraps around me with an iron grip and with a jolt we are zipping up towards the window on the cable of my grappling hook. Our landing on the window sill is far less graceful, more of a crash than a landing really. By now the kid is watching us in shocked silence with wide eyes.

“Second pouch from the left,” I manage to rasp, still unable to move. Jingle, understanding what I mean, reaches into my belt and pulls out a small orb. He swiftly pushes the red button on the top and tosses it into the room. A glittering golden gas spews from it. I hold my breath as he scoops me up and hobbles through the shimmering window. He even remembers to grab the small disk afterwards.

“Well that was eventful,” Jingle remarks as we watch the gas fill the room. It will clear after a minute or two and the kid will remember nothing from the past ten minutes. If only this had been invented back when I was in the field.

“Most fun I’ve had in a while,” I laugh, the feeling starting to return to my fingers. Jingle props me up against the window and then sits down next to me. We stare up at the sky as a dark pod falls towards us, ready to take us home.

“You handled yourself well in there,” he compliments. I smile brightly and he grins back.

“Thanks. I’ve missed this.”

“Well. This mission was such a success. Maybe we can fix that.”

“You think?” I question breathlessly.

“You fearlessly threw yourself into the fray to save a wounded agent. I couldn’t think of anyone better to be on the force, Tinsel.” I don’t know what to say as the door to the pod opens. When he helps me to my feet, I don’t know who is supporting whom as we stumble into the transport. Belatedly, I turn my communicator back on.

“All ready and aboard, Carol.”

“Good work, Tin. Everything go smoothly?” I glance over at Jingle and exchange a smile.

“Pretty much.”

“Wonderful. Hold on to your hats, guys! Time to get the two of you home.”


NBA off-season recaps, predictions for upcoming season

by Hunter Baylous/Staff Writer

If you follow the NBA you understand how impactful this NBA off-season has been: with a draft class comparable to the historic class of 2003, some unexpected trades, free agents signings, and injuries. I have compiled some of the most influential information and the under-the- radar information that could possibly affect your favorite NBA teams. 

The most important trades:

    Possibly the craziest move this offseason was the Jazz-Cavaliers trade. The trade includes the Cavs trading: Collins Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, 3 first-round picks, and 2 pick swaps, all in exchange for the 25 year old all-star Donovan Mitchell. With this trade transaction the Eastern Conference is even more stacked as five other teams are considered championship contenders. The Jazz had also traded their multiple time Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for: Malik Beasley, Patrick Beaverley, Leonardo Bolmaro, Walker Kessler, and four first round picks. Coming into this season the Utah Jazz are projected to begin intentionally losing games this season to secure good draft positions as they have acquired nine future draft picks. (Information acquired from Rudy Gobert Trade & Donovan Mitchell Trade)

    Another unexpected trade was undoubtedly the Dejounte Murray trade to Atlanta. The Spurs traded Dejounte Murray for Danilo Gallinari and three first round picks. As this trade happened many people assumed that the Atlanta Hawks would have a deep playoffs run as their star point guard, TraeYoung, is subpar at defense but an excellent shot creator and Dejounte Murray being a star player as well ,leading the San Antonio Spurs in points, assist, steals, and was 2nd in rebounding for the organization. ( Information acquired from Dejounte Murray Trade)

Free agent movement:

    Now with the Free-Agent signings the Los Angeles Clippers signed the 31 year old, five time All star, John Wall to improve their backcourt. Jalen Brunson signed a $100 million 4-year deal to join the New York Knicks, who now have a backcourt of Evan Fournier and Jalen Brunson. The center ,Christian Wood, was signed to the Dallas Mavericks after the loss of Jalen Brunson. Otto Porter Jr. , who was on the championship team Golden State Warriors, now moves to Toronto to join the Raptors. Goran Dragic, the dragon, and the elite rebounder, Andre Drummond join the Chicago Bulls. (Information acquired from John Wall signing & Free Agents Tracker)

Injuries / Returns:

    The most notable injury this off-season was the second pick of the 2022 NBA draft Chet Holmgreen, who was drafted to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chet Holmgreen suffered a Lisfranc foot injury (a foot injury where one or more metatarsal bones are displaced with a sudden force to the mid foot or arch of the foot Lisfranc Injury)during a rec game in Seattle ended his rookie season. Kawhi Leonard is expected to come back but not play at least 65 games. Jaren Jackson Jr. also suffered a foot injury described as a stress fracture and is expected to return on Christmas. Jamal Murray is also expected to return this season and has some top 50+ potential if he stays healthy this season. Finally Zion Williamson is also expected to come back and play after only playing around 85 games in his 3 season career. (Information Acquired from Basketball Injury updates and returns)

Teacher Interview:

    With all this information I’ve listed here I wanted to ask someone who was passionate about the NBA that many students may know at this school. Mr. Kevin Potter, an economics teacher, is an avid NBA fan and possibly follows the league the most out of everyone I know. Mr. Potter stated that the biggest shocker during the off-season, in his opinion, was the Rudy Gobert trade due to the value that he was traded for. As Mr. Potter said, “ I figured that Rudy would be moved, but not for that price or to this team.”  Mr. Potter also stated, “For Utah this was a dream come true. You unload a player who wanted to leave while still receiving a haul! Plus they’re now better equipped to tank for (Victor) Wembanyana.” Although it was a very surprising move, Mr. Potter believes that both teams have benefited from the trade. He also believes the Donovan Mitchell trade was a great move as they were one of the worst teams in the league; he believes his talents were wasted there. 

The Dejounte Murray trade was also a trade he was passionate about. As Mr. Potter explained, “Dejounte Murray has been one of my favorite players in the league out of UW. His defensive consistency and basketball IQ make for an almost perfect pairing with Trae Young in Atlanta.” He and some analysts believe that the Hawks are going to be dangerous later in the season as they outpace other teams and could possibly steal a round in the playoffs. Although the Hawks gave up 3 first-rounders, Mr. Potter said, “You never want to unload first round picks if you don’t need to, but I’d argue that this trade all but guarantees that those picks fall from 20-30.” With the increased star power of the Hawks, many people believe their lottery picks are to fall tremendously.

Mr. Potter was not exactly excited about the free agency movement but he did give his thoughts about it. He expects John Wall not to be super productive but said, “…he just needs to D up and be a cog in the arguably the deepest team in the NBA.” His opinion on the Jalen Brunson move was similar to other analysts saying, “I like Brunson a lot but can’t envision him as much more than a #3/4 player on a legitimate contender. I expect him to post impressive assist numbers with the volume of shoot-first players on this roster, but also expect his scoring to take a hit.”

Finally, possibly the things he was the most in depth about were the returning players and player injuries. As he said the Chet injury was possibly the most heartbreaking, as he has some serious potential to be a great defensive force and shot maker but, “Unfortunately we’ve seen how guys with this build have panned out over the last few years…” Possibly the thing he and many NBA fans are the most excited for is the return of Zion Williamson, with Zion really cutting down on the weight, and taking conditioning seriously. “People slept on the Pels last season while they quietly assembled the perfect players to compliment Zion’s downhill attacking style. Teams are going to be giving up TONS of threes doubling a driving Zion this year…” This was his main point with the return of Zion Williamson, as the young player is very dominant when it comes to attacking the painted area.

Spooky season: What causes the excitement?

By: Jeremiah Edwards/Staff Writer

The beloved Spooky Season is just around the corner and that means Americans all over the country are ready to partake and collectively feed billions of dollars into the holiday’s festivities. Digging into the roots of the holiday, Halloween dates all the way back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, more than 2000 years ago. The Celts would celebrate the end of the year by dressing up as evil spirits. This custom would be brought to America by Irish Immigrants in the 1840s who immigrated due to a potato famine. Though the modern form of the holiday, trick-or-treating, would not be set in fine print until 1927. The first use of the phrase “Trick or Treat” was used by pranksters at houses. 

This form of Halloween is one of the most popular holidays Americans celebrate. Over 60% of the population in the country does something to do with the holiday. That 60% spent billions of dollars, $10.14 billion to be exact (in 2021), was spent on costumes, decorations, candy, and even greeting cards. What’s the psychology of this? Why do people feel the need to go all out for this holiday? 

The escape from reality may be relieving, apparently consuming all the things that come with Halloween. This is different for everyone as people differ in their chemical responses to thrilling situations. When encountering these situations dopamine is released. For those who enjoy these encounters, their brain seems to lack a brake on the dopamine release, prompting them to find the thrill enjoyable. Really it’s all up to how our brain processes fear. If you’re one of those people who find joy in everything Halloween, good for you. I’m not one of those people. At least for the scary bits. The candy and costumes are great. 

The freedom of creativity and expression is something that we all crave one way or another,  whether it’s dressing up as your favorite Disney princess or decorating your house with spookiness. It’s helpful to our minds, studies show that engagement in creativity improves mental health by reducing feelings of depression and isolation. Being artistic in any way can enhance moods, reduce anxiety and stress, and alleviate burdens associated with chronic disease.

Psychologists also note another possible reason. The act of dressing up among a group of people they call it “deindividuation.” “Deindividuated individuals do not attend to their own behaviors and lack awareness of themselves as distinct entities,” wrote James Tedeschi, a State University of New York at Albany professor, in The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral and shared by the Daily Emerald. This all comes down to experiencing a new social dynamic. A decreased sense of individuality leading to a possible increase in socializing and connecting with others you wouldn’t otherwise connect with. Of course this is a change of behavior, having this sort of anonymous effect on us. This experiment, addresses three different variables of deindividuation: anonymity vs nonanonymity, alone vs group, and groups with or without a child who was made responsible for the group’s actions. Approximately 1,300 trick or treaters were given the opportunity to steal candy and money. The experiment found that significantly more stealing was observed under conditions of anonymity and in the presence of a group.

It’s safe to say that Halloween has its benefits and its one of the few times of the year where people get to collectivity, express themselves creativity, encounter situations that make them happy, and/or experience a new level of social interaction, whether its good or bad (hopefully not the latter). Halloween is so big, and has so many levels  that it’s hard to not find something enjoyable about it, even for someone who doesn’t like the horror and thrill.

Drew and McKenna Movie Challenge 2

by William McKenna/Guest Writer


# 1 Dune 2021

I have been told about how great the Dune series of books is for over 40 years and I have yet to read them and likely never will. Even when I was in the Sci-Fi book club I avoided it. Why… way too much work. Trying to keep up with the House of this and the House of that and the trade routes and the spice. I’ve seen the David Lynch version of the book from 1984. I have also seen the great documentary Jodrowsky’s Dune which I highly recommend… so I am quite aware of the Dune universe. YES I know that George Lucas was inspired by some of the things from Dune when he made Star Wars. I get it…people love Dune. People love 50 Shades of Grey and I haven’t read that either. I’m more of a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy type of person. So to each his own. I will try and enjoy the movie all the same.

The film features the dreamy Timothee Chalamet as some sort of chosen one type character who is thrust into a quest on the planet Arrakis. It’s the only planet that has the SPICE which I guess gives people super powers or something? The rest of the cast is rounded out by various cast members from the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe. Aquaman has pretty solid part as some sort of ultra tough warrior. Big surprise there. Mary Jane from Spider-Man I guess is the love interest. Never saw that coming? The cast is fine as they spout such epic lines as

“This is worm territory” and “worm time warning”. I guess there is a worm problem on planet Whatever.

The good guys are all nice looking people while the villains are bloated gross people with horrid table manners. I’ve never seen a movie where the characters who were disgusting when they eat were not the villain. The main villain is channeling his best Marlon Brando as he mumbles his lines and gobbles down squishy, sloppy, nasty food. He even looked like Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. “The Horror…The Horror.”

The problem with the film is that it is boring. The screenplay uses way too much exposition. Characters walk in the room and describe various this and that so the viewer can understand why the heck we should give a flip about the SPICE or fear the sand worms. A novel works in its own universe and often does not translate to screen. Dune is a prime example of a book that just doesn’t translate cinematically. Though Star Wars covers many similar themes it is written specifically for the screen and works great. The screenplay for Dune a is like a long walk in the desert because the story spends a long time with characters talking about the desert and walking and occasionally running around in the endless desert avoiding the giant worms.

The film has the expected cinematography and production design. The special effects look like stuff you have seen in other movies. The desert scenes are OK but the entire film is shot too dark. I kept wondering why nobody ever turned on a light. I guess space people can see in the dark.

The film ends with out any sort of climax as that has to happen in the next film. The novel is long and dense and the 2 hour 35 minute running time for the film isn’t enough time to tell the story. So I guess I will have to wait till the next film to find out why I should care about anything that happened in this film. Timothee never even rides the giant worm…oops that’s a spoiler for the next film.

The film is fine overall; it’s just not a movie that interested me. I’m still not sure what the story is really about outside of people really loving them some SPICE and be careful or you might get eaten by a giant worm.

# 2 A Taste of Honey 1961

This is a film about a school girl left to take care of herself when her mother remarries. It’s directed by Tony Richardson. This is a gritty drama for it’s time and features a bi-racial romance that would have been controversial in 1961.

Well-shot and directed the film moves along at a good pace but finds a way for the viewer to connect with the characters. Jo, played by Rita Tushingham, carries the film as she plays a 17- year-old just trying to feel loved in the little spot she occupies on the planet. She has a relationship with Jimmy who is a sailor that leads to a pregnancy. He ships out and there she is by herself to have a baby alone.

Jo quits school gets a job and befriends Geoffrey, played by Murray Melvin, who is gay which also would have been controversial in 1961. The two form a little family that brings some needed stability to Jo. Though Geoff is gay he is dedicated to Jo and is willing to marry her though they are not in love.

The stability is shattered when Jo’s mother returns after her recent marriage collapses. The mother chases off Geoff and Jo is once again trapped in the cycle of disfunction with her awful mother with the only person who cared about her gone.

The film uses upbeat childlike music throughout which is interesting as the situations the characters are in seem hopeless. Jo is a child and it works almost like an inner monologue reminding us that even though Jo is pregnant and taking care of herself…she is just a child.

Many scenes in the film feature children playing games and doing kid things. Jo is a kid herself but her situation keeps her from being in that world even though she wishes she could. Jo is frightened of the responsibility being a mother brings as she has never had any stability in her own life.

Will there be a happy ending for Jo and her child? That’s a question that is not answered as the film ends. All that is certain is that Jo is on her own just as she was when the film began.

#3 Spencer 2021

On August 31st 1997…I know exactly where I was when Princess Diana died in a tragic car crash in a tunnel in Paris. I had come in and worked a Saturday at WRTV 6. Though it was Sunday the 31st in Paris, the time difference made it only Saturday in Indianapolis. I recall clear as day just before we were going to air the producer that night, Jenny, in a voice of shock saying “Oh, my God, she’s dead!” We stayed with network from then on out. That’s an important story to keep in mind as I give my thoughts on Spencer, a movie about Princess Diana’s fictional Christmas with her awful husband and in-laws. I have no interest in royal people…I think it’s absolute nonsense. Princess Diana, on the other hand, had been a kindergarten teacher and seemed to be just a regular normal person trying to do her best every day. By her own accounts she just wanted a family and be a good mother and wife. Unfortunately, she was involved with the wrong man for that. I’m not likely to give the royal family a break in this review.

The film opens with Princess Diana, played as best she can by Kristen Stewart, arriving late for a Christmas weekend at a cold English estate. She does what she can with the accent and the immaculate style of Diana. Stewart controls every scene she is in and demands attention as it’s all happening from her point of view. It’s a tough role as Princess Diana meant so many different things to so many different people. I’m guessing nobody will ever be able to really capture how complex Princess Diana actually was but Stewart is all in on her effort.

Diana is completely aware that Prince Charles is having an affair with another woman. He even gives his lover the same gifts he gives his wife. He has no problem humiliating her. Diana is a strong but abused woman. She entered a marriage with the proper intentions but her husband did not.

The story unfolds with preposterous ceremony in a family Christmas weekend, everything so formal and lifeless. Diana was just too bright a light for the pompous, cold, dark royal family. The estate is poorly lit with centuries of old artifacts. The dinner scene with the family is so formal and soul-sucking I was hoping somebody might pass gas to lighten the mood.

The production design is top-notch. Even though it takes place in a large estate, the environment gives off a stifling claustrophobia that closes in on Diana in every scene. As soon as she enters the house she is in by all accounts a haunted house of horrors. This help set the mood for Diana’s state of mind thoughout the weekend. It’s known that Princess Diana had mental health issues intensified by her environment.

The rest of the cast fulfills their roles as best they can. The royals come off as cold, lifeless ghouls. That is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s how they exist in the story as it unfolds around Diana. The actors who play the help are the only people Diana connects with on a human level. Sally Hawkins as Maggie is Diana’s only friend and confidant and she is great in the role.

The best scenes are with Diana and her children William and Henry. Above all else Diana wanted to be a good mother and her children are the only family she has that weekend that loves her. She was suffering through it all in hopes things would work out for the children.

Scenes with Prince Charles are tense as would be expected under the circumstances. It’s a thankless role as he is truly the villain in this relationship . He keeps trying to control his wife while living as he pleases. There is simply no love. Charles goes on about doing things for the good of the country but is willing to do nothing for the good of his family.

There are lots of really good scenes as Diana begins to break free from the confines of royal life. An unapproved visit to her childhood home reminds her of her joyful youth. She simply has to be her own person. By the end of the film she gathers her children and returns to London. In a call back to an opening scene where Princess Diana pulls an old coat off a weathered scarecrow as a sort of contrast to her immaculate image, she drives past it and this time the scarecrow is dressed in her clothes. She is leaving it all behind. The film ends with Diana not knowing what her future would be. Of course I know what happens so it makes the events of the film that much sadder.

This is not a movie I would usually be interested in but Stewart is so engaging that it’s really pretty good. The directing is fine but it’s the power in Kristen Stewart’s performance that drives the film. It’s stylized and at times borders on hallucinatory but feels real at the same time. That is tough to do.

#4 Portrait of a Lady on Fire …2019

Portrait of a Lady On Fire is like any film where a painter comes to paint the portrait of a person on an island. From the start you know they are going to end up in a romantic entanglement . This film is very predictable from the very start. Marianne arrives on the island to paint the portrait of Heloise who is about to be forced into a marriage to some guy she doesn’t love. Has there ever been a movie or story been made about a beautiful young woman being forced to marry some guy by her family where the viewer is like “Yeah, this is great”?

The film is directed by Celine Sciamm. The production design and setting is spectacular and enhances the story of forbidden love that is being presented. The film is a period piece that takes place sometime in the 18th century. The women are stunning in the fashions of the day, all of which informs who the characters are and their status in the strict social structure.

The film is interesting in that it is strictly from the women’s point of view. The story is about women and the relationships they form with each other and the value society puts on them. Heloise does not want to sit for her portrait as she knows when it’s finished she will have to get married and she will have to compromise her own identity to fit social norms of the day. Marrianne also has few options as a woman of her era to be free as she would like to be as well. Over time the two women embrace their own desires and enter into a relationship. It’s not presented as something salacious or vulgar but as two people who genuinely fall in love. Though the story is very predictable and been presented in other films where usually the male painter pursues the female subject, this film focuses more on two people finding each other as people, not just objects of lust. There are many quiet moments of the women together where the attraction grows in a much more organic and fulfilling manner.

The women only have a few days together when the mother of Heloise is away from the island where they can be free. At a gathering at a bonfire with other women Heloise’s dress briefly catches fire and she appears as a phoenix for just a brief magic moment. This of course becomes the painting the title of the film comes from as it is a symbol of the fire like passion the woman have for each other. Though the fire burns only for a short time it burned brilliant like their love.

Marrianne finishes the painting as Heloise mother returns and has to leave the island. As she leaves she turns back to see Heloise in her wedding gown. This is the last time the women will be able to show how much they love each other as both know they will be less than they could be as they will now be apart.

This is not a movie I would usually seek out but it’s a cut above the painter falling in love with the subject trope. The story is completely predictable but the directing and performances rise above the basic story elements.

#5 Happy Lazzaro 2018

This is an Italian drama directed by Alice Rohrwacher and stars Adriano Tardiolo as Lazzaro. I can tell by the grit of the film that it is well shot on 16 mm film. This gives the film a strong visual presence that informs the viewer there will likely not be many funny bits in this film. The Italian village where the film is shot looks really lived in and the grain of the film enhances the environment of these characters.

The story revolves around a group of isolated people who are being swindled by a land baron to work on a farm. The story is a kind of fairy tale. The people in village are so isolated that they do not know sharecropping is illegal and they are being exploited. The story is based on something that actually happened. They are exploited and just continue about their daily lives as best they can with little hope of improving their place in the world.

Through a series of events the villagers discover they are being swindled by the land baron. Lazzaro falls off a cliff and becomes unconscious as the other villagers are rescued from servitude. Lazzaro becomes a Rip Van Winkle figure.

Time passes and Lazzaro wakes up having not aged at all. When he goes to his old village it is abandoned and run down. He finds his way to the city where all the old villagers now live. They have fallen into terrible poverty, much worse than they had in their days of servitude in their old village. Lazzaro is very confused by what is happening and wants things to be the way they were before he went into his Rip Van Winkle sleep. He is a young man lost in time as all he knows is gone and all his friends have become old or died as he has stayed young and somewhat innocent.

Lazzaro is desperate to try and return things to the way they had been before and ends up in a bank asking that the old land baron be given back his fortune so he can return to his village. The people in the bank think it’s being robbed and beat Lazzaro to death.

The film ends with a wolf maybe running through the city into woods back to the old village…this being Lazzaro’s spirit, I guess.

Not sure what the big takeaway from the story is as things go from bad to worse to dead. The film is very well-done and shows the human spirit can be crushed in more ways than one. Not even the innocence of a good-natured young man is enough to overcome unfortunate situations. A wise man once told me, “Life is a poop sandwich and each day you take another bite. “ Poor Lazzaro and his villagers had the misfortune of actually having to eat two poop sandwiches.

In closing I would like to say I have enjoyed the journey of watching these films that Drew has picked. Most are films I most likely never would have discovered. In a time where most kids his age think Jason Momoa talking to a digital fish is high art… it’s good to see a young person finding real stories to watch. It seems that for the most part Drew likes films that are kind of downers where the characters get kicked in the head a lot by the world around them. Yes, life does have a lot of hard knocks…that is for sure. But there is also a great deal of love and happiness. Perhaps pepper in a few Steve Martin comedies from time to time to offset the misery of life films.

Squishmallow review: Cute, cuddly collectibles

by Shelby Duncan/ Staff Writer

Photo Link:

Many kids are fascinated by a new collectible called “Squishmallows. ”So, I decided to write a review on them. First things first, you may be wondering what a squishmallow is. A squishmallow is a stuffed toy that comes in many unique colors, characters, and sizes. They have just about any animal you can think of in any color, or any character you may like. They are extremely soft and they have a very squishy texture.

Zozo-photo from website:

Squishmallows are used in many ways. Some are simply a young children’s toy, some are collected and displayed, and some are just to use as a pillow or a fun bedroom decoration! It’s however you’d like! I’d say many high schoolers collect them and use them to decorate. My color guard team and I like to collect them and share them with each other. 

There are also lots of different sizes and that can make a difference on how you use them. Squishmallows come in 3.5 inch (keychain), 5 inch, 7 inch, 8 inch, 11, inch, 12 inch, 13 inch, 16 inch, 20 inch, and 24 inch. Obviously if you get the small one it may be a keychain, but if you get the largest one you could use it as a big chair or pillow! So it all depends on the combinations you may pick. Although, they are discontinuing the 13 inch soon! 

Personally, I love squishmallows. There are so many and they are really fun to collect. Although, there is ONE downside to them. The price. Squishmallows definitely aren’t cheap. For one small 8 inch size, it can range from 12-18 dollars depending on where you buy it. Other sizes can go up to 50 dollars. You may ask “Is it worth it?”

Now, as an individual I think it is worth it. But, others may not think the same. Many people think stuffed animals are not fun, or just stupid. So it really just depends on the type of person you are. If you love to collect things and you love things that are soft and irreplaceable, then you might like these!

All in all, anyone can like squishmallows. No matter your age or hobbies, squishmallows can be a fun thing to have. Squishmallows are at just about every store, so if you want to check them out try finding them at your local pharmacy or supermarket. I hope you have fun “squishing!” 

Link to Photo:

‘The DNP league’: examining underwhelming end to nba regular season

by Drew C. Smith/Staff Writer

DNP is an abbreviation used in the National Basketball Association to indicate that the player it is listed with did not play in the game.

Photo Caption: Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo cheers from the bench. Antetokounmpo sat out Sunday’s game, along with the rest of Milwaukee’s starters, against the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the Bucks losing 133-115. DAVID DERMER/AP PHOTO

It was an anti-climatic final day in the National Basketball Association this past Sunday, despite the fifteen-game slate that took up the entire afternoon, including interesting match-ups between key playoff teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies, and the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves. But, the main story of the night ended up being the fact that most of these teams sat their best players and sold on the game. It relates to a much larger debate that surrounds the NBA about load-management (load-management, to clarify, is a recently coined term that essentially means “planned rest” that players often use to avoid back-to-backs and to keep them play-off ready) and star players missing games and “ruining the product.” To be fair to those who argue that, a night like Sunday is a perfect example of how load-management and sitting star players can ruin what would otherwise be an incredible end to the season; the Celtics and Grizzlies game was run on TNT, with the Grizzlies sitting their entire starting five (with exception to Ja Morant who is still recovering from an injury). 

This does not exactly represent the league in the best light to the casual viewer. But, to be fair to the teams and players who make the decision to sit out, the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs game that same Sunday night explains exactly why they choose to sit. In a meaningless game that would not affect seeding or play-in tournament contention, Luke Doncic (the Dallas Mavericks’ only all-star and an MVP candidate this year) played in the game and suffered a calf-strain that could likely put him out of the first round of the playoffs. Had he sat out, he likely would have avoided the injury and been well-rested and prepared for the Mavs’ first round matchup against the Utah Jazz. There has been much debate about whether to shorten the regular season or not for some time, with some suggesting shortening the season by ten or twelve games. 

Some have suggested much more radical changes to not only the regular season, but the playoffs. Daryl Morey, President of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, suggests shortening the regular season to fifty-eight games. “I like fifty-eight,” explained Morey on the Colin Cowherd Podcast, further dictating, “Every team plays every other team two times.” Morey has an even grander vision for the playoffs, stating, “Shorter is better. I would have it one-and-done. There’s a reason everyone tunes into every game at huge ratings in the NFL. It is literally one-and-done.” Compared to the current playoff system, that is quite a shift, and in my opinion, a shift in the wrong direction. Part of the appeal of the NBA playoffs is the seven-game series, which sees coaches and players making shifts over the course of the series and adapting to each other in a sort of chess match between the teams. 

I’m not sure shortening the season is a move in the right direction either, especially when it’s only by ten or twelve games. There are still going to be back-to-backs, there is still going to be load management, and there are still going to be nationally televised games where the all-stars are on the bench. It just happens. Teams value their superstars in the long-term much more than they value the ratings of a couple TNT or ESPN games, and I do not think they are wrong for doing so. It’s like a nice pair of all-white shoes: you only wear them occasionally, you don’t wear them when it’s muddy out, you don’t slip them on to go take out the trash, you constantly check if they have marks or stains, and you’re constantly worrying about them while you’re wearing them. Yes, it would be awesome if you could wear them all the time, but are they going to last that long if you do? Probably not.

It’s funny to think about. People look back at the careers of Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady and remark how tragic it was that their careers ended so quickly, and then turn around and call the players of today soft for sitting out of games or taking a long time to recover from injury. Hardaway played nearly every game of his career, playoffs included, before his knee blew out in the 1996-97 season. Maybe his career could have been lengthened had load management been a part of the league back then and had the Orlando Magic front office and medical staff been as protective over him as teams are over their superstars nowadays. Maybe it would have been the same, we don’t know. The point is the NBA has some of the most advanced and intelligent medical minds in the world, working constantly to maximize the league’s premier stars’ longevity, athleticism, and health. So, when they sit out a bunch of the starters on a nationally televised game, sometimes it’s just like those all-white shoes: it’s better to keep them in the box for mundane days so that you can wear them to special occasions for a long time.