Profile: brown details day in life of french teacher

By Alex Smith/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Madame Brown talks to Mya Wilcher, 10, about what she did over Fall Break. Photo by Alex Smith

    Teaching can be a stressful job. Madame Amanda Brown, French teacher, who has been teaching French for 18 years, talked about what makes teaching worth it. She said, “My students make it worth it. Getting to know them. Getting to see that moment where they ‘get it.’ Getting to experience them making connections between topics and subjects. Getting to laugh with them.” 

    Shaun Hughes, 10, who just started taking French this year, talked about what Madame Brown does to help him learn. He said, “She helps me learn by taking the time to individually help me get better.” Christopher O’Connor, 12, who has been taking French for the last four years, also talked about what Madame Brown does to help him learn. He said, “Madame helps me learn by understanding that I have a lot in life to focus on alongside school, so she gives me leniency.” 

Brown discussed what she wants students to learn in French class and what her number one goal is. She said, “I hope that kids leave my class with a bit wider perspective and understanding of the world as a whole.”

O’Connor commented on what Brown does to make French class fun. He said, “Madame brings her energy to class every day, and always tries to keep us engaged. That’s the most fun thing, is that it’s never boring.” Brown talked about the funniest thing to happen while teaching. She said, “I can’t think of a specific moment, but there are so many inside jokes with the classes. When you have the same group of kids for four years, it’s impossible to narrow the funny and ridiculous down.” Hughes also talked about what Brown does to make French class fun. He said, “Madame makes things fun for class by telling us funny stories about some of the different things we learn in class and by just creating an overall pleasant mood in class.”

Hughes said that his favorite thing about French with Brown is that he gets to learn so much about different cultures and different countries. O’Connor discussed his favorite thing about French with Brown. He said, “My favorite thing about French with Madame is the vibe of the classroom. All of us have been in that class with her for four years, so it’s a comfortable environment.” Brown’s favorite thing about teaching French is that she loves discussing cultural differences with her students. 

Brown talked about her least favorite thing about teaching French. She said, “I asked my French 4 class because I really couldn’t think of anything. Chris O’Connor’s contribution is ‘When someone asks you how to do something or does it wrong and you just warned someone to be careful about making that mistake or JUST taught it. That doesn’t go over well.’ Tara Powell’s,12,  contribution (in loving sarcasm) is ‘Having Chris as a student.’“ O’Connor said that his least favorite thing about French with Brown is that she’s always on them if they don’t give their best effort, that it can be frustrating, but he gets it. Hughes talked about his least favorite thing about French with Brown. He said, “I don’t really have a least favorite thing in French since I like the culture and mostly everything about it.” 

O’Connor talked about what he has learned about the French language. He said, “French is a beautiful language, but it’s a pain in the butt half the time.” Hughes also talked about what he has learned about the French language. He said, “The French language is quite difficult but like I said I get to enjoy learning about the different cultures and more about the French culture.” 

Hughes told a memorable story about Brown. He said, “Madame tells us lots of memorable stories so I don’t know which one to do but it seems like she has so much fun teaching French to students.” O’Connor also told a memorable story about Brown. He said, “Madame would let me sleep in her classroom before school when I was tired from early morning football workouts. She gave me bean bags to sleep on so I was comfortable. That was when I knew she was different.” Brown talked about a memorable moment in her teaching experience. She said, “ I teach Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) second semester of French 4. Everytime I teach Chapter 21….it’s the most memorable experience of the 4 years I have with each group.” 

Brown talked about how she keeps the kids engaged. She said, “I try to be as weird, obnoxious, and goofy as my students are (and in some cases, more). Being overly dramatic, using funny voices, telling stories … all part of my game plan.” 

Hughes talked about what he will remember the most about Brown. He said, “I will always remember her smile, her kindness, and her unique personality.” O’Connor commented on what he is going to miss about Brown when he graduates. He said, “I’ll miss how much she cares about me and all of her other students.” Brown talked about what she wants the kids to remember about her. She said, “I hope they remember me as someone who is always rooting for them.” 

Brown talked about who her mentor is. She said, “I don’t really have a mentor, per se, but I refer to Mrs. Stoeffler, Mrs. Anderson, and Mrs. Berger-Harmon as who I want to be when I grow up.”

Brown talked about her favorite lesson to do with the kids. She said, “The ‘DR MRS P VANDERTRAMP’ story, regarding French verbs, for example,  Devenir – To Become, Revenir – To Come Back, and Monter – To Climb.  (This is my favorite) because I get to draw (poorly), I get to be overly dramatic (always), and I get to talk about soccer and food and the circle of life.”

She also talked about what her favorite activity to do with the kids is. She said, “My favorite activity to do is teach the ‘Avoir Rap’.” The “Avoir Rap” is how Madame Brown teaches her students the verb “Avoir” or “To Have” in French class. Brown said about the “Avoir Rap”: “We usually have a lot of fun with it. It’s catchy. It has a lot of call and response elements to it. And it’s one of those things the students tend to remember. Plus, I get to be a TOUCH obnoxious which always makes me have fun.”

Profile: Commissiong positively influences students in JAG

by Kalei Griffin/Staff Writer

JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) director and leader Mrs Cherie Commissiong has shared and taught in many different environments throughout her career. She first began to teach at IU Bloomington. After working years with college students, she decided that she would be “more valuable” working with high school students, preparing them for “what’s next” after graduation. She takes her teaching career very seriously and puts the maximum amount of effort into everything she does. So what makes Mrs. Commissiong stand out, and how does she influence so many people?

Commissiong graduated from Ben Davis High School. She furthered her education by attending Indiana University(IU). She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She has always been intrigued by teaching and career readiness. She then began to teach at IU Bloomington for several years. During that time, she realized that she and her skills, along with her knowledge, would better help high school students rather than college students. So, in 2018, she became a high school teacher. 

Within the two years Commissiong has been teaching here at Greenfield-Central, students have grown a strong liking for her and some students have grown a special bond with her that is indescribable. “I am able to connect with Mrs. C in a way that I can’t connect with any other teacher at GC. She is such a wonderful soul and her compassion is outstanding,” says Gracie VanderMeulen, 12. 

“We are able to have ‘real conversations’ about their futures- the fears, expectations, plans, etc,” says Commissiong. Mrs. Commissiong has the ability and opportunity to connect with her students in a meaningful way. Her students are one of her top main priorities and she takes pride in making sure her students are successful and healthy, mentally and physically she said.

Mrs. Commissiong’s goal is to better students, prepare them for the real world, and to leave an impact on her students and she does just that. “Before I started attending the JAG program, I had no clue what I wanted to do after high school nor did I know how to do really anything in the real world. I’ve only been in her class for about a month and I have learned more than I have ever learned,” says Jada Conn, 11. 

Mrs. Commissiong has come a long way and has made her time here valuable. Commissiong has many goals she plans to achieve that will all contribute to one main goal.  “It is my mission to make sure my students are confident about their skills and knowledge to navigate along their journey after graduation,” she says.

History of Winter Holidays

by Aidan Bow/Staff Writer


Winter is a wonderful time of year. Many holidays occur during winter; some of the largest ones are Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. All of these holidays have a long history and are connected to many religions and cultures.

According to, the Christmas holiday began in the fourth century as a Christian holiday to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth.  According to Pew Research, 65% of Americans identify as Christian. It is not known when the actual date of Jesus’ birth was, so Pope Julius I chose December 25th as the day of celebration.  The decision behind the chosen date is believed to have started as an effort to dismiss the Pagan holiday known as the Saturnalia Festival.  Christmas had spread to Europe by 432 and was well known in England by the end of the sixth century. Christmas was originally called the Feast of the Nativity.  It is now referred to as Christmas worldwide, and is usually celebrated with a decorated pine tree, gifts and a large feast, each signifying an attribute to that time. More traditionally, the story of Santa Claus and stockings are now included in the celebrations.

There are many stories of Hanukkah, but this is the most well known.  In the year 200 BC there was a large religious rebellion between Syria and Israel.  Israel was victorious, and a Jewish Priest, Judah, called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild the altar and light the menorah. stated the menorah itself was a gold candelabrum, which stands for knowledge and creation, and was supposed to burn every night.  During this rededication of the second temple, a “miracle” was witnessed.  The menorah only had enough oil to burn for one night, but somehow, it burned for eight nights, giving them time to obtain more oil.  The Jewish sages proclaimed an eight day festival involving the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts, to celebrate this wondrous event.  Hanukkah always begins on the ninth month of the Jewish (lunar) calendar. 

Kwanzaa is a fairly new winter holiday tradition, founded in the 20th century by Dr. Maulana Karenga, in an effort to bring African Americans together as a community.  Kwanzaa is not a religious based holiday, but a cultural one.  Every family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, many celebrating Kwanzaa and Christmas together.  According to, Kwanzaa celebrations often include songs, dances, African drums, storytelling, and a large traditional meal.  Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven nights, each night starting with one of the family’s children lighting the appropriate candle on the Kinara, and discussing one of the seven principals.  There are also seven symbols, both principles and symbols are used to represent different values and concepts reflective to African culture.  At the end of the seventh day, a feast called a Karamu is held on December 31st.

You might be wondering about the city of Greenfield’s winter traditions. Brigette Cook Jones, the past president and current director of the Blue River Township Hancock County Historical Society had this to say: 

Greenfield’s residents primarily celebrated Christmas, as most families were Christians.  There were a few Jewish families, but Greenfield did not have a Synagogue and their population was not large.  Greenfield was founded in 1828, at this time, celebrations were meager with each person celebrating in their home, or attending a Christmas service at their local church.  By the 1840’s and 1850’s you would start to see the German tradition of Christmas trees in several homes.  Late local poet, James Whitcomb Riley, wrote about his home Christmas traditions, which included Christmas tree’s, stockings and Santa Clause.  By the 1920’s, Greenfield was decorated with electric lights and a tree.  A nativity scene was displayed on the courthouse lawn starting in 1957.  Over the years, Greenfield has grown many Christmas traditions and outgrown others.  Some of these traditions include, the Christmas tree lighting and parade, along with Santa’s arrival, Santa Breakfast, downtown merchant decorations, gingerbread house contests, vendors, carriage rides, drive thru light shows, holiday movies at the Rick’s theater, Christmas tours at Riley’s boyhood home, school programs, as well as most churches having a candlelit service, special dinner and even elaborate presentations that bring people in from outside of the county. Hancock County has almost 90 Christian churches in the area, so there is still a lot of Christian influence in Greenfield.

Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza all have a lot of history.  They are each special in their own way.  Everybody celebrates winter differently, and that’s okay. links

Christmas link

Hanukkah link

Kwanzaa link

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Exchange student discuss holiday customs abroad, in US

by Dylan Ramirez/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Several exchange students hold flags from their countries at the flag ceremony during the World Language Cook-Off: Joona Hinte, 11, Annika Fischer, 11, Ainara Flores Garcia, 11, Aiala Orio San Vicente, 11, Audrey Marguet, 11, and Lorenzo Pedroni, 11, and Rozalia Golen, 11.

     Greenfield Central is hosting exchange students from all over the world, from Germany, Spain, Russia, and other countries. As most know, many kids from different countries do not celebrate the same holidays as most Americans. Some of the exchange compare holidays here and at home.

Matz Schaefer, grade 1l, is a 15 year old from Germany. He said, “Back home in Germany we celebrate Christmas, Nikolaus (6th of December to celebrate a helpful man) and St. Martin on the 11th of November and Pentecost.” Schaefer said the holidays here aren’t much different when it comes to celebrating them. He and his family and most Germans come together as a family and eat a bunch of food. He said the food is a bit different. “Usually back at home we’ll eat geese and potato soup. It’s different here because we ate turkey, ham, pie, and mashed potatoes for most of the holidays we’ve had so far, like Thanksgiving,” said Schaefer. He said the holidays he’s celebrated makes him feel like a real American because he’s living the same experience and traditions just as  everyone else around him. He loves celebrating Thanksgiving and celebrating with his host family. He concluded, “I’m glad to get to celebrate these holidays with family and friends. I’d suggest to anyone to go to different countries and celebrate their holidays their way.” 

Aiala Orio San Vicente, grade 11, is from Spain. Aiaila stated that she also celebrates New Years (Los Reyes Magos), Easter (Dia de la Hispanidad), Halloween (Dia de todos los santos), and also Christmas. Vicente said celebrating the holidays are the same, just hanging with family and eating. Aialia also said that the more popular foods to eat are meat, salads, croquetas (small cakes of meat or potatoes coated in breadcrumbs  and fried), then cakes and Spanish ham during holidays. “The holidays made me feel really happy, like Thanksgiving. The most significant tradition in Spain is eating twelve grapes during the last seconds before New Years,” says Aialia. The purpose of eating twelve grapes is to lead each month of the next year full of good luck and prosperity. 

Annika Fischer, grade 11, is from Germany. She exclaimed, “I love celebrating the holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving with my host family so far. I’m excited for Christmas.” Fischer talked about the traditions and holidays she celebrates back home. She celebrates Christmas, their thanksgiving, St. Martin,etc. Thanksgiving in Germany is celebrated on the first Sunday in October. It is more of a rural event, with gatherings with food and neighbors. “The main difference between celebrating holidays here and back home is the food and how much family come from different places to come celebrate with you. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving back home,” says Annika. Annika then explained, “But besides that, the holidays here are as common and simple as the ones back home. I love being around people, it makes me feel comfortable.” Annika ended the interview with wanting to tell everyone to go out of the country at least once and try different holidays from around the world.

Profile: Functional academics teachers share their motivations, successes

by Della Hedge/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Ms. Kathleen Burke, Ms. Emily Weaver, and Ms. Courtney Majors are ready to start the day with their students.

“My biggest motivation is the students’ success,” functional academic teacher Ms. Emily Weaver said. She has always wanted to be a teacher; she was pushed to shadow a life skills teacher in high school and she knew from the minute she walked in, “I wanted to make an impact in the lives of those with disabilities.” 

“My students are my WHY. My students are the reason I wake up each morning and come to work with a smile on my face. My students are my biggest motivation to be the best teacher I can be,” Weaver said.  She can feel the difference she makes every day in her classroom. Even if it’s little things like a student asking for help for the first time or independently following their schedule. “I specifically love being able to experience when students are able to generalize a skill that was taught in class and be able to use that skill in the community,” she said. She thrives on seeing students’ successes. That’s the main thing that keeps Ms. Weaver going. 

She thinks that building relationships with the parents as well is one of the most important things in working with students. “The relationship that you build, not just with students but with their families (is important),” she said. She values her students’ families and wants to make sure that the students’ best interest is in mind. 

The effects of the COVID pandemic, especially virtual learning through technology, hit Ms. Weaver’s classroom positively and negatively. “The amount of time on technology and knowledge of supports that we have using technology has tremendously increased. I also miss using paper and pencils as well.” She has started again with the paper and pencil this year, as she eases her students back to pre-pandemic conditions. She also mentioned that the communication and engagement has decreased tremendously. “It appears that some students do not have interest in communicating and engaging with others as much as before COVID occurred,” she said. 

Ms. Weaver had many dreams and goals for her classroom. One of her goals is to focus on the end of high school. She has a lot of students graduating this year and she has to prepare them for the real world. Everyone’s life after high school is different and Ms.Weaver has to prepare them for whatever they will do. “Life after high school can look different for many people and figuring out what it looks like for each student is important as they go through high school,” Ms. Weaver said. 

Ms. Courtney Majors, one of Ms. Weaver’s co-teachers, has a very similar approach. They both keep going because of their students. “My biggest motivation is my students. I want to see them succeed and become the most successful and independent individuals they can be,” Ms. Majors said. 

Last year was Ms. Major’s first year in the classroom. She started during COVID and she persevered. “Starting to teach during COVID has made me a better and more adaptable teacher,” she said. She had to adapt and make it through the year, she said.

With her being a brand new teacher, reaching her goals is so important. She wants to focus on self-improvement to better connect with her students. “The main goal for this year is to continue forming relationships with my students and improving myself to be the best teacher I can be,” she said.

Ms. Kathleen Burke is another functional academics teacher who co-teaches with Ms. Weaver and Ms. Majors. Ms. Burke is also a co-sponsor with Ms. Weaver with a club called Peer Pals, formerly known as Best Buddies. 

“My biggest motivation to keep moving forward each day are the ladies whom I share teaching responsibilities with. We share ideas, support each other, and just have a lot of fun together doing our job,” Ms. Burke said. She keeps going for her co-workers. She shares a great deal of her life with them; she strives to be the best because of them.

“The students and daily experiences are definitely the best part of my job. I get to be involved in students’ journeys from freshman year through senior year. This is not something all teachers get to experience. This can make it even more difficult to say goodbye, but also more rewarding to see students graduate,” Ms. Burke said. She gets to see her students grow and leave. She gets to prepare them for the real world, and she loves that part of her job. 

All three teachers keep going for their students; they thrive under their students’ success. Many can agree, that is what makes a good teacher. If you have the opportunity to get to know them or their students, as you can tell from their positive comments, it will be a positive experience.

The Christmas Riddle

by Megan Bundy/Staff Writer

The Christmas Riddle 

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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

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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.”


FCCLA Winter Bazaar bonds school, community

by Mia Harr/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: FCCLA’s Connor Griffith, 10, talks to a winter bazaar customer.

The Winter bazaar was a success this year, with the booths stretching beyond the cafeteria, around the auditorium, library, and even into some of the academic halls. The booths were from local vendors selling things they made or from direct sales companies.

The winter bazaar is a craft show for people to do some shopping from some local small businesses, but it’s also the main fundraiser for FCCLA. FCCLA president Isabelle Monsma, 10, said, “The winter bazaar helps a lot with our club fees, like it makes our state fees cheaper so more people can come and it also helps with nationals if we make it there. It also helps with other field trips and community service we do.” The winter bazaar’s main goal was to raise money for the club but also to help small businesses. 

Monsma explained what to expect. “We have lots of people attending.  We have most of FCCLA coming to work, friends, family, we have lots of local vendors, the drama club, and we even have a few people who have graduated but were in FCCLA coming.” 

FCCLA runs the entire event. This year the students from FCCLA helped set up by promoting, putting up years signs, assisting vendors in their booths, they helped move and carry items, ran booths when vendors needed breaks, baked foods to sell, helped with concessions, and at the very end they cleaned up at the end. Monsma said, “FCCLA runs the whole thing. We make the food we sell and we plan the whole thing. Mrs. (Janelle) Keusch, our adviser, does a lot, thank God.”  They stayed after school Friday till 8pm to set up and went back at 6:30 am to continue setting up. Some of the main dishes from the event were homemade cinnamon rolls, pumpkin rolls, cookies, and lasagna or chicken noodle soup for lunch.  

However, there were challenges to this event.  Keusch stated, “The set up is most challenging due to the quick turnaround times at the end of the day. All the planning and prep takes so many hours to do.” 

Monsma stated, “We have a limited amount of people to work with and it’s amazing that it’s expanding but also it makes it more to manage.” There was a lot of planning and challenges that went into the winter bazaar but most say it was successful. 

Monsma was asked about the winter bazaar and her response was, “The winter bazaar is about community. Without local vendors and local shoppers we wouldn’t be able to do it. It reminds me a lot of Riley Days.  Lots of people come together and support each other.” The winter bazaar is an event that’s involved with the community and support from others. Keusch, when asked if she was excited, stated, “Of course! It is crazy busy, chaotic and fun.” Monsma was excited about the winter bazaar being a lot bigger this year. She described it as a very stressful thought but she knew all the hard work would pay off and it would be amazing. 

GC students discuss favorite holiday traditions

by Megan Bundy/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Decorating a Christmas tree is a popular holiday tradition for many. Photo by Megan Bundy

It’s that time of year again where it begins to get colder outside and the holidays are the biggest thing on people’s minds. It’s a time for family and friends to come together and get ready to end the year with joy and look forward to the next one. A special aspect of the holidays is participating in traditions with your family and friends, and G-CHS students were asked about their own holiday traditions that they celebrate.

Not surprisingly, celebrating the holidays with family and friends was a big one shared amongst the students. “The holidays are very fun for me, not just the presents or anything but just being with everyone. We usually go to my grandma’s and eat some sort of dinner, hang out and open presents,” 10th grader Bella Corsaro-Ferge said about her own traditions.

“The holidays are pretty fun for me. I enjoy the break and hanging out with friends and getting into the Christmas spirit,” Alek Plisinski, 10, said. Lynn Bye, 10, also commented, “(I) definitely prefer to hangout with friends during the holidays. With friends, plans are easier and more flexible.” It seems like a reasonable number of students at G-CHS value connection with loved ones during the holiday season. 

When the students were asked what holiday traditions they like to do, there was a plentiful variety. “My favorite holiday tradition would probably be going to Utah to visit my aunt and uncle and celebrate the holidays there with them,” Chloe Davidson, 10, said. Davidson also mentioned that she has an Advent calendar tradition. Jo Cooper, 10, said “My favorite tradition is decorating my tree. I have had it since I was a child.” Bye also added, “Playing dreidel and betting on who will win is my favorite Hanukkah tradition while my favorite Christmas tradition is watching a movie on Christmas Eve while drinking hot chocolate.” Other students have also said that decorating their Christmas tree with family or watching Christmas movies was their preferred holiday tradition. These two traditions are one of the most common ones, so it is no surprise that many students at G-CHS like to participate in them.

As the year begins to draw to a close, the holidays are reminders of what we have to be thankful for during this year. The holidays are generally a time for joy and peace as well as spending time with family and friends. 

Senior wrestlers discuss season

by Trot Scholl/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Seniors Adam Saxon and Zeke Holden are in beginning match form. Photo by Trot Scholl.

Wrestling season is here for GCHS. The wrestlers have been working very hard and are ready to show out this season. Senior Zeke Holden says, “We’ve put in a lot of work this off season and it will be fun to watch it pay off.” Senior Adam Saxon says, “I’m excited to see where senior year will take me. I’ve learned this sport for three years and I feel like I can do something if I work hard for it.

    Holden and Saxon both have goals they would like to accomplish this upcoming wrestling season. Holden states, “My goal this year is to be a state placer, I have worked really hard these past few years and have been short every year but this year my goal will be achieved.” Saxon says, “I want to win my matches, it’s a basic goal but I haven’t won many matches and I want to win most of mine this year.” Having a goal for wrestling and any sport in general is a good thing. It can help you get better and do better and you can get more enjoyment out of sport and the season by reaching those goals.

To reach your goals, you must stay focused the whole time and don’t get caught off guard. Holden states, “I am gonna keep my head on straight and be disciplined and really just stay on track and it will happen.” Saxon says “I think it’s important to pay attention to minor details and make sure you are doing everything right and put those things you learned into the matches.”

    Going into any wrestling season, your view changes every year on it. Holden says, “This is the last ride, you have to make everything count this season.” Saxon states, “The perspective has changed, this is our last year to show what you can really do if you put the work in.” Having a different view on the season could help you and give you more motivation to do better.

      To prepare for the upcoming season, wrestlers will all prepare differently for the upcoming season, but still all prepare. Holden says, “I go to a wrestling academy and train with the best coaches and the best kids in the state.” Saxon states, “I have already started watching weight so I don’t have to cut during the season, and I have started lifting and working out.” 

        Now a few weeks into the wrestling season, our wrestling team is looking good. Seniors Holden and Saxon were interviewed before the start of the season. Let’s see how their answers have changed or stayed the same from last time.

    Each senior was asked about their perspective going into the wrestling season, now into the wrestling season, has their perspective changed at all or a good amount?    Holden said, “It hasn’t really changed much, as far as I know it’s my last ride so I’m running head first at the competition.”

Saxon stated, “My perspective has stayed the same, I’m still trying to win as many matches as I can and putting everything out there.” Their perspectives haven’t changed on the season, but they have both been making great improvements and living up to their goals they made at the beginning of the season.

    Both seniors were asked last time about their work in the off-season and if it will pay off. Has their work paid off for them so far this season? Adam Saxon said, “I think the off-season has helped me, I’m not as tired and I feel like I can work on technique more than endurance.” Zeke Holden stated, “So far I haven’t been thoroughly challenged in any of my matches, but my training has definitely paid off.” Their work they have put in and out of practice has been helping them a lot and paid off for them now.

    Both seniors got asked how a few matches went, how they think not just themselves, but their team has done so far. Holden stated, “It’s been a little shaky, but the last two matches we have had, I feel like our team is really starting to come together as a family. We are there for each other every match.” Saxon said, “Personally I think I could be doing better this season, I’ve been putting in the work but I’m getting beaten in matches I should be winning. On the other hand, I think the team is doing really good right now. I feel like we have a very special group of people who can make it far this year.”

    Each senior got asked about what they see differently in this team we have this year. Holden said, “Our team is definitely different from last years, I think that our team is a group of young men and women that understand how you present yourself outside of wrestling matters, we have had little to no problems with behavior outside of wrestling.” Saxon stated, “The team is a family, we all chant for each other during every match, it doesn’t matter the outcome.” This wrestling team is viewed differently by wrestlers as a better behaved team and a family that supports each other.

    Only a few matches into the season and we can safely say this team is something special. We have a strong group of seniors leading the team and a team to make GCHS proud this year.

Profile: Henderson’s best teaching assets “compassion for all,” connections with students

by Madi Short/Staff Writer

A vital staff member and teacher of GCHS is William Henderson, or as some students and staff know him, Sarge. Mr. Henderson, before he ever became a teacher, was in the military, and decided after seeing the amount of soldiers who hadn’t been prepared for life out of high school, to become a teacher. “When I was in the Army, I saw so many soldiers come into the Army that were not prepared for life after graduating high school. Many of these young soldiers lacked firm, fair and consistent role models and leadership in their lives. I thought I could assist in helping the youth of our society become more prepared for life after they leave the protection of their parents’ home.”

    Mr. Henderson has many great stories and memories with other staff, including Mr. Will Bolden and Mr. Eric Robertson. When asked what was your best memory of Mr. Henderson, Mr. Robertson replied, “When he interviewed me for a job in my driver’s education office some 10 years ago.”

    Mr. Henderson’s advice to teenagers would be, “The concept of working hard is a fallacy. You should strive to work smarter. Hard working people fail every day because they do not accomplish their goal, mission, or job. Working smarter will allow you to maximize your time and allow you to find a healthy work life balance.” 

    Many people learn from Mr. Henderson, and that includes students and staff. Mr. Bolden described some of the things he learned. “I’ve learned several things from Mr. Henderson. A lot of those things stem from his direction for a new teacher: how to set up Google Classroom, structuring lessons, communication with parents and students, connecting with students, etc.” Mr. Roberson, though he did not get into detail, stated he has learned many things from Mr. Henderson, however many he couldn’t put into writing or discuss.

    Mr. Robertson, when asked what he thought Mr. Henderson’s greatest quality was, he stated, “His care and compassion for all; he truly cares about everyone.” Mr. Bolden shared a similar thinking, as he said, “Connecting with students and communication.” Another similar statement from Mr. Robertson and Mr. Bolden was when asked what their favorite thing about him was, Mr. Robertson replied, “He is so funny. His one-liners are the greatest ever.” Mr. Bolden replied, “His no nonsense approach but it’s paired with a sense of understanding and humor.” 

    Family means a lot to Mr. Henderson. When asked what his inspiration was, Mr. Henderson said, “My wife inspires me. She inspires me to be the best I can be.” The greatest advice he’d ever received was, “to marry my wife. My father gave me that advice and like most advice he gave, he wasn’t wrong.” And when asked about his greatest accomplishment, Mr. Henderson replied, “Being a father to two outstanding young men. I have held a lot of titles in my life, but none as great as Dad.”

    In addition to family, students mean a lot to Mr. Henderson as well. Mr. Henderson has learned a lot from teaching, having said, “First, my students taught me how to be a better parent (I will always be grateful for that). Also, that every student is not the same because they all have different challenges, backgrounds, and support systems. However, all students require the same four things: A positive role model, to be protected from harm, to be treated with respect, and to be loved unconditionally regardless of their faults.”

    A feeling Mr. Henderson will never forget while  teaching would be, “watching a student graduate that many thought wouldn’t and knowing you played a part in that change.”

    From the military to teaching, Mr. Henderson shared his thoughts on the difficulty of switching from one to the other. “Initially it was hard, yes, but not as hard of a transition for many of my peers who become teachers. I was fortunate enough to start my teaching career at the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Childrens Home in Knightstown where I was an Army JROTC instructor. I left the Army on Friday and started teaching on Monday and I still wore a uniform. The structure at the home was much like the military. It was a lot like training soldiers except for they had not been to basic training.”

    On another military note, Mr. Henderson, when asked if he could do anything else, what would you do, he stated, “I believe I am exactly where I am meant to be.  However, if I had to do something else, I would have become a Transitional Assistance Program Counselor for Veterans. I know how difficult it is to transition from the military. I have always had a desire to serve others, and this would allow me to assist our heroes’ transition into the next phase of life.”