All posts by Alex Smith

Remembering September 11th

  Zoe Castle/ Staff Writer 

Photo Credit goes to the following website:


 On September 11th, 2001, one of the worst known terrorist attacks were committed in the United States. 19 Militants who worked for the Islamic Extremist group al-Qaida hijacked four airplanes and carried out two attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the airplanes were taken over by the extremists and flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The third plane was flown into the Pentagon, right outside of Washington D.C. The fourth plane ended up crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

All together, almost 3,000 people were killed as a result of the attacks. People from all walks of life died. Citizens of 78 different countries died in World Trade Center attack alone. 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers died that day while trying to rescue others trapped inside. 

At the Pentagon, 189 people died, including 64 on Americain Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. On Flight 93, 44 people died when the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. 

This act of violence left many families without their loved ones for the rest of their lives. So why did the attack happen? The people who hijacked the planes were part of an Islamic Terrorist group from Saudi Arabia and other Arab Nations. The attack was planned and led out by the Saudi fugitive Osama Bin Laden. Allegedly, these attacks were in response to the United States support of Israel, its military presence in the Middle East, and a hatred for the west and its culture. 

Some of the hijackers had been living in the United States for more than a year and had even been taking flying lessons at American commercial flight schools that were located in Arizona and Florida. Others who accompanied then acted as the muscles of the operation and had been in the United States for less than a year. 

The terrorists had easily smuggled box cutters and pocket knives through security at three different American airports. They all boarded four morning flights that were heading to California. They chose these flights because they were loaded with lots of fuel for the long journey from the East Coast to California. 

As a result of these attacks, President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act, which helped accumulate U.S. Border and Domestic Security. This also expanded surveillance efforts to help detect potential terrorist attacks.

After the 9/11 attacks, half of U.S. Muslims find it more difficult to live in the United States, according to Pew Research Center surveys from 2017. Acts of violence against Muslims started happening immediately after 9/11, and have been happening since. In 2001, the FBI recorded that 93 anti-Muslim assaults were committed, and in 2016 the FBI recorded 127 assaults. 


Do Schools Have the Right to Ban Books?

Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

Photo Credit: from the following website

Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings. Gone with the Wind. The Catcher in the Rye. The Lord of the Flies. The Grapes of Wrath. To Kill a Mockingbird. These titles, among a plethora of others, have a prevailing characteristic: censorship. 

It is difficult to believe that in today’s day and age it is possible to be denied access to a book, but sadly this is a widespread trend. Book censorship first appeared in the early to mid-20th century and is still an issue in today’s society. The most common reasons for a book to be banned include obscene language and imagery, defamatory statements about certain groups of people, and expressing strong opinions over sensitive topics. 

The Grapes of Wrath is an example of a novel that is often a target for banning because of its profanity and vulgar terminology. A parent of a student at Cummings High School in Burlington, North Carolina said, “My son is being raised in a Christian home and this book takes the Lord’s name in vain and has all kinds of profanity in it.” (

Any mature adult can confirm that profane and vulgar vocabulary is common in today’s culture and that a book isn’t the only place to experience words like that being used. It is understandable for parents to want to shelter their children from mature words that are prevalent in books like The Grapes of Wrath, but it is absurd to ban a book for that reason when students can be exposed to those words elsewhere. 

Similarly, To Kill a Mockingbird was challenged at the middle school in Brentwood, Tennessee because the racial slurs included in the novel bolster “racial hatred, racial division, racial separation, and promotes white supremacy.” (

 The novel may seem as if it is supporting racism and white supremacy, but what must be understood is that this novel is set in the past. To Kill a Mockingbird is simply telling a coming-of-age story that talks about past issues of racism that are still relevant today. In order to correct modern issues, people need to study and understand how the issue was handled in the past so that history does not repeat itself. This book has the potential to guide society to end racial discrimination and shouldn’t be shunned because of the truth it yields. 

The Lord of the Rings, along with other works by J.R.R. Tolkien, were burned outside Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, New Mexico in 2001 for being “satanic.” Books with similar themes, such as the Harry Potter series, have also been banned for promoting witchcraft. 

While these books involve magical elements and witchcraft, they aren’t meant to encourage children to involve themselves in real-life sorcery. The books are pieces of fiction that were written strictly for the purpose of entertaining and don’t have any ulterior motives. These popular novels have themes that revolve around good defeating evil and standing up to corrupt individuals or groups. They are meant to be interpreted as entertaining books that teach children good morals and themes, and not as guides for children to learn sorcery or persuade them to become satan-worshipers. 

As a general consensus, older students and adults alike should not be deprived of the privilege of reading a certain book if they choose to do so. Parents can decide which books they deem appropriate for their children and should not control or criticize the decision of other parents to allow or deny their children the right to read a certain book. When those children grow up, they can decide for themselves if they would like to indulge in the books they were formerly banned from reading. 

What is most important is to be educated on the contents of a book. Parents and students should research about the books and read other’s reviews before judging whether or not a book would be appropriate. The age-old saying rings true evermore: never judge a book by its cover. 

Senior Superlatives

You voted, seniors, and here were the results!

Photos by Adam Bright, Zoe Castle, and Schyler Slunaker

Most Athletic

Mackenzie Polster


Noah Evanoff

Most School Spirit

Taylor Kiemeyer

Gavin Rose

Most Original

Hayden Botorff and Mary Voigt

Most Likely to Be President

Elaine Hilton

AJ Dougherty


Animal Whisperer

Megan Woods

Adam Lee

Most Opinionated

Estella Woods

Adam Lee

Most Likely to Become a Rock Star

Rowan Stewart and Ivy Rowe


Best Dressed



Most Likely to be a Doctor or Nurse

Maya Gutierrez

Nick Capen


Most Likely to Become Comedian

Lexi Rankin

Tate Helm



Girls track team sets, meets high goals

by Zoey Starks/ Staff writer

Photo Caption: Kenzie Polster, 12, performs the high jump. 

The GC girls track team is ready for their season.  Coach Reuben McCracken talked about how he thinks the season is going to go.  He said, “I am thinking based on who we have competing this year, we will have a good year. The meets we want to do well in are the county and conference meets and we should have an improved place over what we did last year.

McCracken also discussed what he thinks his team needs to work on the most this season, and he says,  “One thing I would like them to work on is doing the little things correctly. Every little thing we can do right, that is a little bit we are going to get better. It all adds up in the end.”

McCracken commented on what he is looking forward to in the season, and he said, “I am looking forward to us being better than we were last year. Several of the girls have some high goals and I am excited to see them accomplish their goals.”

Audrey Brinkruff, 10,  is one of those girls. “The one thing I want to work on the most for the season is increasing speed. I need to be able to run at a faster pace for the shorter races,” she said. “By the end of the season,  I want to have broken both the 1 mile and 2 mile records.”

On March 2, Brinkruff ran the fastest 3200 meter (2 mile) time in school history with an 11:49.03. It is an indoor record and is faster than the outdoor record by almost 10 seconds.

Brinkruff then broke the GC 1600 meter run, the mile, with a time of 5:22 on April 9.

Hannah Burkhart, 12, talked about her goals as well. “I would like to work on bettering my distances in discus this year in preparation for county, conference, and the state events such as sectionals, regionals, and, hopefully, state,” she said. “By the end of the season, my only goal is to make it to the state meet and compete there.”

McCracken talked about their team’s biggest competition. “In both county and conference, our biggest competition will be New Pal and Mt. Vernon. New Pal is a great team and we will challenge them in spots. I think we are more on a level with Mt. Vernon and it will be very competitive between us and them for second place in county and conference,” he said.

McCracken also commented on the challenges they will face during the season. “We will travel to a few meets where will be competing with some of the top teams in the state. We have to take the right approach into those meets that we can compete with them and it will make us better doing so,” he said.

Burkhart commented on the team’s attitude going into the meets. “I am looking forward to the atmosphere meet day brings to the team; it’s very energetic and the anticipation of results is contagious. I believe that the team just simply needs to work on the cocky vs. confidence debate. We can’t walk into a meet cocky or else we will fail; we must just be confident in our abilities, not obnoxious about our successes.

Brinkruff  shared what she was looking forward to this season. “I’m looking forward to warmer weather without rain or wind. One thing I think our team needs to work on is learning how to pace ourselves and finding the extent to which we can push ourselves,” she said.

McCracken talked about his coaching style. “I try to keep my coaching style relaxed. I don’t want to be the type of coach that has to scream and cuss at the kids to get them to respond. I’m not perfect. I do get upset and yell. But in my mind I know that is not the most effective way to coach. My goal is for them to trust in what I am saying and respect me enough that they just do it.”

He continued, “The girls usually have a good mental focus. So long as they keep in their mind that they can’t be happy with what place they get, but continue to get better each time they compete.”


Students Compete in Book Contest

By Adam Bright/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Riley Phelps, Lucas Horsman, Mackenzie Willett, Lauren Silcox, and Lilly Ward, all 9, pose after they won third place at the Battle of the Books competition.

Emily Dickinson once said, “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away.” Battle of the Books is team competition to get students into reading. The annual Battle of the Books competition is coming up on April 17 and the team is ready.

Battle of the Books is a team competition where students read a list of books and answer questions about those books. Mackenzie Willett, 9, said, “Battle of the Books is a voluntary reading competition for grades 3-12; our library only hosts the contest for grades 8-9. The reason for Battle of the Books is to get kids to read and enjoy the books. After they read the books, they are quizzed on it; and if your team wins you get a prize. The prize for winning is a gift card and a free book.”

There are variety of books in the ten book list. Willett said, “What I like about Battle of the Books is the variety of books that are given. All of the books are from a different categories and selected for a reason, because of this you know that none of the books are going to be awful. It is so hard to pick out a good book that you  know will be interesting, but with Battle of the Books all the books are unique and interesting. As I said the books are chosen for a reason.”

Battle of the Books is very great way to get students to work to together in a group and read stories they would otherwise not read. Kelly Swain-Leswing, the Battle of the Books sponsor, said “My main objective for Battle of the Books participants is to read for enjoyment. Students are so busy with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and jobs that there is little time left for them to just sit and relax with a good book. I hope the lure of competition is an incentive for kids to set aside time to read.”

Being a five person team can cause issues for the team, though. Riley Phelps, 9, said “We have to make sure all the books have been read at least twice and within the past two months to make sure people remember it. It’s a bit challenging with only five people but I think we’re up to the challenge!”

Swain-Leswing said, “The main preparation is a lot of reading. Participants have been reading the selected books for several months and are now cramming in as much reading before the competition as they can. We do meet every Blue Friday morning during second semester to touch base as a group to see who has read which books and where our weaknesses as a team might be. However, 99% of preparing for this competition is just reading and trying to remember as many details about the books as possible. The questions posed at the competition are usually extremely detailed.”

The Battle of the Books team is very excited for their competition and are doing as much as they can to prepare. Swain-Leswing said, “My favorite part of the program is watching groups of students come together to discuss literature. There are many opportunities for kids with athletic ability to compete and show off their skills, but those who are strong academically don’t often get that opportunity. Battle of the Books allows kids to show off their academic strengths in a collaborative and fun environment.”


Cougar girls soccer on track to avenge sectional loss

by Abigail Hurst/Staff Writer 

Photo taken by Lizan Brand.

The GC girls’ soccer team has won five games out of six this season and are on track to avenge their close sectional loss from last year.

Morgan Murdoch, 10, said the girls’ work ethic is strong. “We never give up. We work for what we want.”

Kelsi McLaughlin, 9,  said the girls have improved a lot so far this season. “We pass a lot better, we move off the ball, and we talk to each other.” Murdoch also said, “I think that we have improved on looking up and knowing where we are going to pass.”

Macy Huber, 10, mentioned the team’s versatility.  “We are all bonded really well and we have so many players that can play multiple positions really well.”

Murdoch said, “We are doing awesome this year.” Huber also said, “This season I feel like we have really been working together a lot more.”

The girls’ soccer team prepares through their drills. They work diligently on shooting, scrimmaging, and on ball touches. Huber said, “Brazilians [are my favorite drill] because they really help me with my first touches on the ball.” Murdoch also said, “My favorite drill or part of practice is probably when we work on shooting and when we scrimmage.”

The soccer team’s most substantial rival is a neighboring school. Huber said, “Our biggest rival definitely has to be Mt. Vernon. They are our rival because they are another Hancock County School and we just work really had to beat them every year.”

Several members of the team said they are looking forward to playing New Palestine this year. “We are looking forward to the New Palestine game the most I feel like because they have some really good players. They can play multiple positions just like some of the girls on our team,” Huber said.

Murdoch complimented the coach, Erin Clark.  Murdoch said, “ I like that she doesn’t give up on us. She pushes us because she know we can do it and she does so much for our team.”

Huber said,  “I really like her because she pushes us to our maximum potential.”

  Emily Davidson, 11, also had admiration for her coach. “She invests a lot into the team and our season, and she cares about us all individually.” Lucy Brand, 12, also said, “I love her because she is not only a really good coach, but I can talk to her on a personal level about whatever I might need.”

Huber talked about the team and their camaraderie. She said, “I love being on this team because we all work really good together, and we all work for each other so the team as a whole can succeed. I feel like we are all forming a bond that is helping us be a whole when we get on the game field.”

Brand shared her opinion about the team and their conviviality. “My favorite part about being part of the team is the friendships that have been made throughout it. I’m really happy I could end my senior season on a good note.”

Murdoch also talked about the team and their fellowship. “I like being on the team because of having the support of the girls and just having a fun season together.”  Schuyler Slunaker, 10, also said,Soccer season is my favorite season just because I feel comfortable with the team. It’s like a family with all of the players.”



lovelytheband’s newest album does not disappoint

By Kaitlyn Koehler/ Staff Writer

“Every once in a while, there is an album that makes you feel less alone,” noted Tina Roumeliotis from her Aug. 3 blog about  Finding it Hard to Smile, an album by lovelytheband, written on The Daily  lovelytheband has a way of making you feel good about yourself and your problems. The band keeps upbeat songs while also having relatable topics that people are going through. Finding it Hard to Smile is the only complete album of the band. The album was released on August 3, 2018, and consists of 16 songs, each having a different message.

There are times in your life when a song hits you hard. The song, “maybe, i’m afraid” happens to be one of those. The song deals with relationships and the struggles you face. “Maybe I’m just too good. Maybe I’ll run away. Maybe I’m over you. Maybe I shouldn’t stay. Maybe I just don’t care. Maybe I talk too much. But baby I’ll be there. Yeah, baby I’ll be there. It’s been a little hard. I’ve been a little tough. But maybe all along. I’m afraid.”  The song hits you head on with these thoughts. People often find themselves in this same situation. The message behind the song is, maybe you just don’t want to lose them.

I like that you’re broken, broken like me. Maybe that makes me a fool.” “Broken” remains one of the most popular songs of the band. The song was released in 2017 and debuted as number one on the Alternative Songs airplay chart. The song remained as number one for 9 consecutive weeks. The song has dropped to number six as of July 21st.

Roumeliotis wrote, “On the band’s debut, Finding It Hard To Smile, we’re given a glimpse into a world of hope, letdowns, pain, love, and all the little things that come along with dealing with anxiety and depression while searching for someone who can actually handle all of these things.” Roumeliotis further gives explanation of why this album is “definitely something to smile about.”

All in all, lovelytheband has shown that even through tough times, you can still rise up and become a better person. Going through breakups and depression can’t hold you back. You may have a time in your life when you feel like everything is falling apart. This band lets you know that there is always someone to help you out. There is always someone who is experiencing what you are feeling. According to the song “Emotion”, it’s ok to not be happy. It’s ok to not want to leave your room or the couch.

Finding it Hard to Smile may not be my favorite album out there, but I do have a better time enjoying the songs when I relate to them. There were some songs I liked, and there were some I did not like. “These are my friends” and “Emotion” are not what I would have expected. Listening to the other songs made me have higher hope for the whole album. These two songs, in my opinion, did not reach that level I wanted. I expected those songs to give off a happier feel, but they did not. However, the other 14 songs left me feeling a little better about the problems I face.

If I had to rate the album, I would give it a solid 7 out of 10. The upbeat music made the messages behind the album feel like life isn’t bad enough to give up. Although there were a couple songs I did not connect to, I still enjoyed the fun beat. I have high hopes for lovelytheband for the future. I will be crossing my fingers for a new album release!

Photo from,