All posts by mwoh31

D&D Club takes off at HHS

By Matthew O’Hara

The Dungeons and Dragons Club was founded in 2016 by John Salvucci and has quickly become one of the largest clubs in Hanover High School. It boasts around 20 active members who frequently attend its weekly meetings on Thursdays from 5-7 pm. The primary function of the club is to play Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role playing game that combines creativity, strategy, and luck. The D&D Club is divided into three separate groups, with each group running its own unique campaign. These adventures can vary from slaying dragons, to rescuing characters in peril, to arresting criminals, to any sort of adventure you can think of. D&D promotes creative freedom, allowing you to make unique characters with interesting skill sets. D&D also promotes team-building and cooperation, enabling members to make new friends with people from different grades, classes and interests.

Salvucci, who is now a senior, was inspired to play D&D after listening to a podcast by Wil Wheaton, star of the movie Stand by Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Salvucci petitioned the school to allow the use the media room for the club. While the club started out small, word quickly spread and the club soon had over 20 members, more than what anyone involved expected. Salvucci says his favorite part of every meeting is when “the D&D session ends and everybody stays inside the media room to talk about all the crazy things that happened in their campaigns, forcing me to usher everyone out of the room in order to finish up on time.” As the club founder and leader, he added, “the excitement and passion that everybody has for this club is phenomenal.”

YEAR IN REVIEW: Video Games

By Matthew O’Hara

2018 was a fantastic year for gaming. A variety of releases from both new and old franchises hit the gaming community by storm. Whether it was for their story, multiplayer capability, or their art, many games received praise from both critics and players alike. While there were so many fantastic releases this year, there were a few that rose above the rest. Here is my list of the top 10  games released in 2018:

#10 Call of Duty Black Ops 4

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express.co.uk

Black Ops 4 is a new and interesting take on the Call of Duty Black Ops series. This installment of Call of Duty is more focused on multiplayer, as Black Ops 4 contains no formal campaign, and instead focuses on its zombie mode and multiplayer battles. While the lack of a formal campaign was a bit surprising to some, Black Ops 4’s variety of multiplayer modes, its zombie mode, and new battle royale mode more then make up for the absence of a campaign. The game also supports split screen, allowing you and friend to play online or offline together on the same console. Overall, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is a solid multiplayer game with immense variety that definitely deserves a spot on this list.

#9 Assassins Creed Odyssey

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store.steampowered.com

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an open world stealth action game that takes place during the Peloponnesian War.  The player takes the role of either Alexios or Kassandra, mercenary warriors whose personalities vary depending on how you play the game. While the game does have a story to it, the player is given a large amount of freedom, allowing you to explore the large and fascinating world around you. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey also has a fantastic combat system that lets you customize your character’s weapons, armor, and abilities to suit your playstyle. Overall, Assassins Creed Odyssey’s fantastic graphics, interesting story, and great combat system make it a game to remember in 2018.

#8 Monster Hunter World

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polygon.com

Monster Hunter World is an action role playing game that allows you to hunt and slay ferocious monsters. As a monster hunter, you’re tasked with going to the New World, a recently discovered land that is crowded with powerful monsters. While in the New World, you can battle a variety of beasts and monsters, each with different looks, abilities, and difficulties. After defeating a monster, you can harvest it and use the monster’s materials to craft stronger weapons and armor for yourself, allowing you to face greater challenges. Monster Hunter World also has a variety of weapons to choose from, each with a unique and interesting play style. My one critique of the game would be an underdeveloped story, which took away from the fun gameplay.  

#7 Far Cry Five

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trustedreviews.com

Far Cry Five is open world action shooter that takes place in  fictional Hope County, Montana. You play as the Deputy, a member of the Hope County sheriff’s department who tries to liberate the county from Eden’s Gate, a large and violent cult that is preparing for Judgement Day. As the Deputy, you roam around Hope County’s massive open world, freeing civilians, completing missions, and destabilizing Eden’s Gate wherever you go. The game has a large number of fun side quests to complete, which can reward the player with money.  The game also has a unique group of characters, each with their own interesting personalities and backstories. The fun that comes with Far Cry Five does not end with the story, as the game’s arcade mode lets you play on custom player-generated maps, allowing for almost infinite replayability.

#6 Celeste

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celestegame.com

Celeste is an indie platformer game that is being celebrated for its pixel art style and engaging story. In Celeste, you play as Madeline, a young woman struggling with depression as she tries to climb Celeste Mountain. Along the way she encounters numerous platforming challenges, which require you to jump and dash with speed and precision. These challenges begin to grow more difficult as you continue through the game, and the levels gain more and more hazards that can spell certain death for your character if you’re not fast enough. These levels are also accompanied by Madeline’s development as a character, as she encounters new friends and faces her own dark reflection. Overall, Celeste’s interesting and emotional narrative, fun but difficult gameplay, and beautiful pixel art style make it a game to remember.

#5 Forza Horizon 4

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microsoft.com

Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh installment in the series, an open world racing game with a variety of cars, races and multiplayer options. With over 400 cars to choose from and the ability to create your own races with your friends, Forza Horizon 4 gives you  countless play options. On top of that, Forza Horizon 4 also includes changing seasons and weather conditions, which make no race or play session exactly alike. The sheer amount of variety and replayability makes the game a fun and memorable experience.

#4 Super Smash Bros Ultimate

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gamerant.com

Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a crossover fighting game featuring characters from different Nintendo series, along with a few from other companies. With 76 playable fighters and echo fighters with more downloadable content on the way, Super Smash Bros Ultimate has the biggest roster of the entire Super Smash Bros series. This large and unique roster is paired with 103 stages to play on, along with a variety of different game modes and activities. Super Smash Bros Ultimate also includes a new story mode, which challenges the player with unique and difficult battles. Overall, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a fantastic fighting game with tons of replayability and a fun story mode.

#3 Marvel’s Spider-Man

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playstation.com

Marvel’s Spider-Man is an action adventure game that allows players to swing through the streets of New York as the one and only Spider-Man. Set eight years after Peter Parker became the famed crime fighter, the game focuses on trying to reclaim New York City from a variety of classic foes such as Mr. Negative, Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Doctor Octopus. Along the way, Spider-Man can participate in side quests for rewards and gain new combat skills and suit abilities, which can give you the edge in later battles. The game is also accompanied by a fluent and responsive combat system that makes the game even more of a blast to play.

 

#2 God of War 4

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gamesradar.com

In God of War 4, you play as Kratos, the former Greek god of war, as he travels to ancient Norway and battles against monsters and gods from Norse mythology. In this installment of God of War, Kratos is accompanied by his son Arteus as the two embark to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife on the highest peak of the Nine Realms. Along the way, the pair encounter numerous beasts from Norse mythology such as Wulvers and Draugurs, along with Norse gods such as Baldur, Modi, and Magni. God of War 4 also includes a variety of side quests and puzzles.  This story is coupled with a fluent combat system that focuses on Kratos using his Leviathan Axe and Guardian Shield in a variety of combos and deadly abilities. Overall, God of War 4’s excellent story, combat system, and puzzles make it one of the greatest games of 2018.

#1 Red Dead Redemption 2

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variety.com

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open world action shooter developed by Rockstar Games. You play as Arthur Morgan, a sharpshooting outlaw that rides with Dutch Van Der Linde and his gang. After a failed robbery in the town of Blackwater, Dutch’s gang suffers huge losses, and is forced to flee to avoid incarceration. The game then focuses on Arthur and his fellow allies trying to rebuild the gang’s funds so they can head West and escape the law. While on this mission, Arthur is involved in train robberies, old scores, lost loves, feuding families, and an ever-changing America that wishes to destroy his way of life. As you go through the game, you get to interact with your fellow gang members and learn about their pasts and personalities, each different and interesting in their own way. Along with the game’s intriguing story, Red Dead Redemption 2 also includes a large open world and a number of side quests and activities that can give you money and special rewards. The game also includes a fast-paced combat system that focuses on swift and steady aim and using the environment as cover. Overall, Red Dead Redemption 2’s fantastic story, interesting characters, numerous side quests, and gritty combat system make it the best game of 2018.

 

Featured picture from China-briefing.com

Midterm Elections: A Political Stalemate

By Matthew O’Hara

The midterm elections raged on for weeks after the November 6th election due to voter fraud controversies in North Carolina, machine failure in Florida, and extended deadlines to accommodate a runoff election in Mississippi.

The Facts:

Overall, the midterm elections presented wins and losses for the Republican and Democratic parties. While the Republican party remained in control of the Senate with a 53 to 47 seat majority, they lost their majority in the House of Representatives. The Democrats now hold the majority of House seats with 234, while the Republicans have 198. In both House and Senate races, there were many toss up seats that could have been won by either party. Winning these seats was crucial to each party, as it could give either party the upper hand. In most of these races, the winner was decided by only a small margin. For the Senate, these toss up seats were in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Montana, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Tennessee. For the House, the toss up seats were in Florida, California, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. When the contested elections for the Senate concluded, the Republican party won the majority of the contested states 6-4 over the Democratic party. This minority in the contested states made the Democrats unable to regain the majority in the Senate, and thus remain the Senate minority. The contested elections for the House of Representatives were a very different story. The Democratic party gained 20 of the contested seats, with just seven going to the Republican party and one vote undecided. These wins allowed the Democratic party to regain control of the House of Representatives.

While this election is now coming to a close, it did not go as smoothly as most Americans had hoped. This election was racked with mechanical failures, voter fraud, and controversy throughout the country. In the state of Florida, multiple mechanical failures in the voting machines led to many votes going uncounted, forcing several counties in the state to conduct a recount lasting for weeks. There were also cases of suspected voter fraud in North Carolina, after the 9th district seat for the House of Representatives was called into question. An extremely high number of absentee ballots were never returned, and reports that people claiming to be state officials went door to door collecting absentee ballots from citizens are under investigation.  The confusion and controversy in this year’s midterm elections was wide and varied. One example was when Florida Senate candidate Bill Nelson refused to concede to his opponent Rick Scott after Scott was shown to have slightly more votes than Nelson. Also, in the controversial Mississippi Senate election, when both candidates were unable to receive enough votes to declare an outright winner, they were forced to participate in a runoff election. This runoff election became even more heated with the release of a controversial comment by Republican candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith, who eventually won the seat by a comfortable margin. 

My Opinion:

With each party controlling one of the two legislative offices, I fear that we will see a period of conflict and stagnation in the government. If each party only works to shut down the other, then legislation will stall and the country will suffer with useless stalemates. The conflict between parties is one of the issues that plagues America today. Elected officials are tasked with representing the people that elected them, not just their party and everything it stands for. This singular loyalty to party over people has led some politicians to outright reject many ideas that are not in line with their party narrative. This practice has led to a deep division in America. What America needs right now is for both parties to set aside their differences and become a bipartisan Senate and House of Representatives that works for the American people. If each party tries to respectfully communicate with their counterpart instead of fighting them on every issue, America will be productive. If both parties cannot put their wants aside for the betterment of America, the country will continue to be divided and conflicted.  As Lincoln famously said, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

Mr. Brown: Dedicated Teacher, Coach & Athlete

By Matthew O’Hara

Mr. Brown teaches World History and Global Studies to Juniors and Seniors at Hanover High School. While teaching, Mr. Brown uses his charisma to combine learning and fun so as to captivate his students and make them excited to learn. This also makes his class one of the most enjoyable to be in, as his easy-going and fun personality can relieve the stress of difficult assignments. This has made him one of the most well liked and renown teachers at HHS.

After graduating from Rockland High School in 1991, Mr. Brown attended Norwich University. Mr. Brown knew he had a passion for teaching, so he majored in Elementary Education because of  his own fond memories of his kindergarten experiences. After college, he enlisted in the United States Army, an experience that would change his life and career path for years to come. Life in the army was different from life at home for Mr. Brown. Instead of helping his dad paint houses, he went into combat, and was forced to overcome his fear of heights many times when he was required to deploy mid-air from planes. While military life was difficult, Mr. Brown enjoyed the opportunity to serve as a mentor to new recruits. It was this experience that later convinced him to choose to teach high school  instead of elementary school. After returning home from the military, Mr. Brown became a wrestling coach for Rockland High School, and later taught fitness classes at Park and Rec. He became a teacher at Hanover High School in 2002.

Outside of school, Mr. Brown is a devoted father who cares for his family and enjoys attending his three kids’ school- and sports-related events.  He has a passion for exercise and fitness, renting out a building in Rockland to teach exercise classes and to train athletes. He serves as an instructor, as well as a student, at a Brazilian jiu jitsu gym in Weymouth. Mr. Brown enjoys learning under his jiu jitsu teacher Dedeco, as it gives him insight on how it feels for an athlete to practice under the mentorship of a coach. He then applies this knowledge in his own coaching. He also adheres to a 10:00 pm bedtime, so that he can get enough sleep every single night.

Mr. Brown has coached a variety of teams during his long and successful career at Hanover High School, including Lacrosse and Wrestling in his early years, and Track and Field and Cross Country today. As a coach, Mr. Brown most enjoys seeing his athletes improve each year, and has made it his mission to help every single one of his athletes achieve their personal best. During his tenure as a wrestling coach, Mr. Brown coached 10 wrestling state champions, 20 sectional champions, and one New England champion. Mr. Brown takes pride in the fact that two of his athletes have recently achieved the honor of League MVP, one for Cross Country and the other for Track and Field. Mr. Brown finds these many achievements astounding, and he is proud of his student-athletes’ hard work and dedication.

It’s evident that Mr. Brown is a hardworking and passionate teacher and coach who will do anything in his power to see his students and athletes succeed and achieve their best.

Cross Country Teams Outpace their Opponents

By Matthew O’Hara

The Hanover Indians cross country teams have had an extremely successful season, with the boys going undefeated (8-0) and winning the Patriot League Championship. The girls have put in solid races on the way to a 4-3 record. Individual runners  also have racked up personal records all season, which they credit to their average 10 hours of training and 25 miles per week. While their training is long and tough, the cross country teams appear to love this year’s season, describing it as “the best ever” and “a lot of fun.” They also say they appreciate the support they have received from their hardworking coaches Timothy Brown and Andrew McLean and their fellow teammates.

Their final home meet on Oct. 16, in which they bested the Duxbury Dragons, exemplified the teams’ success. While tensions were high, their camaraderie and lightheartedness hyped up the runners and prepared them for the 2.5 mile course. The boys ran first, and had a fantastic race, with sophomore Chris Pacino taking first with a personal record time of 14:06. Senior Nick Courtney finished third with a time of 14:19, junior Thomas McDonough took fifth in 14:23, junior Ethan Bush was sixth in 14:47, and sophomore Sean Dewitt came in seventh at 14:51. The girls race also went exceptionally well, with senior Alyssa Nee finishing first in 17:02. Junior Audrey Wheeler came in second with a personal record time of 17:25, sophomore Kelly Taft took fourth in 18:15, and senior Jordanna Laprise finished sixth in 18:30. In addition to Pacino and Wheeler, several runners earned their PR times including sophomore Colin Jenkins, senior Nick Mirosola, junior Sean Smith, senior Joseph Petrocelli, and sophomore Talha Mehmood 

Hanover also displayed a fantastic amount of good sportsmanship, as they applauded all the runners that crossed the finish line from both the Hanover and Duxbury teams.  After the meet, the team stayed behind to clean up, chat, and take pictures with the seniors, who had just competed in their final home meet.

While dual meets against other schools have ended, the remainder of the season will include a variety of invitational meets for the teams’ top runners. Coach Brown seems optimistic about the rest of the season, and while he acknowledges the “strong opponents ahead,” he is “excited for the invitationals, because they show the improvement that the team has made all year long.” 

Photos of the XC team by DJ Meads

Featured photo courtesy of DJ Meads

Game is Tough, but Offers Countless Replay Options

By Matthew O’Hara

Divinity Original Sin II Definitive Edition is a turn-based, role-playing video game that serves as a modern spin on classic role-playing board games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Divinity II includes a variety of new maps, levels, and dialogue along with a new and improved physics engine, setting it apart and improving upon its original 2017 release for PC. Divinity II is available for the Xbox One and Playstation 4, making it more accessible for people interested in playing the game.

One of the main aspects of Divinity II is the amount of replayability and customization you can inject into your quest. You can choose your character’s appearance, class, abilities, and social background at the beginning of the quest, and can also do the same for your party members. If you do not enjoy or do not wish to use the customization options, you can choose from pre-set characters. Your actions influence the story, as the game gives you a variety of different dialogue options and decisions that change the game as you play. The story that involves the pre-set characters is about the Red Prince, a Lizardfolk fighter who was placed under arrest for studying dark magic known as sorcery. When he is thrown into captivity, he meets and forms alliances with a variety of unlikely allies that help him escape his imprisonment and accomplish his true destiny. These allies include Lohse, the cursed enchanter; Ifan Ben-Mezd, the sharpshooting wayfarer; Fane, the skeletal wizard; Beast, the destructive battlemage, and Sebille, the cunning rogue. Each of these characters has a unique personality and story that can be fleshed out in detail when completing side quests that are tailored to them. Along the way, you and your party will meet a variety of friends, foes, and monsters, each with their own unique battles and side quests for you to take part in. Each quest will yield a variety of different rewards and equipment to strengthen and level up your party so that you can progress in the main story and take on harder side quests.

While Divinity II is a very enjoyable and interesting game, it’s extremely difficult. Many of the enemies that you encounter will have more powerful skills and abilities, making you rely on strategy to survive. Divinity II also contains a variety of complicated puzzles and traps that your party must maneuver through, many of which will spell death for your characters with one wrong move. The level of difficulty is increased with the possible permanent death of your characters, forcing you to find and level up a new party member. Fortunately, Divinity II does allow you to revive your fallen characters with resurrection scrolls, but such items are rare and hard to come by. This brutal difficulty curve can be quite frustrating at times, as a simple mistake can lead to devastating consequences in the game, forcing you to reload and try again.

Overall, Divinity Original Sin II Definitive Edition is a fantastic strategy RPG, with an interesting story, diverse cast of characters, and a gigantic number of side quests that keep the game fresh and entertaining. While the game is enjoyable to play, it does cater to a specific kind of gamer, one who enjoys a challenge and strategic combat. Players who don’t fit this category will most likely become frustrated with its combat difficulty and perplexing puzzles. With these factors in mind, I give Divinity Original Sin II Definitive Edition 4.5 out of 5 stars.