Category Archives: Opinion

Look Back to 2014: The Evolution of “The List”

It’s been some time since I was a Christmas punk. I was a whiner and a complete brat in my formative years, a  true tinsel-time terror. I wanted this, that or whatever cheap plastic toy made in China.  My list was filled  with toys I’d end up breaking within a week (I played hard, don’t judge) and I always wanted more. Luckily, I have matured over the years and I’m no longer a whiny brat. (If I saw “kid” me, I would full force dropkick little me in the face). Thus with being a big boy now, my list has decreased to, like, some boots and a new phone. But in truth, it’s all I need. When we were kids, more equaled better, definitely quantity over quality.

When I was 14 or 15, I wanted video games and a couple of toys but most certainly not the absurd amount I once clamored for as a tiny loser. As the years went on, I mostly wanted clothes and adult stuff. Now that I’m a young strapping 18-year-old, I want very little. Which is good; I have enough things in my life that asking my parents for lots of things seems completely juvenile (I cannot stress enough how fast I would uppercut lil’ Eric) I feel the list evolves with everyone because as we are, unfortunately, destined to age, and as we do, our tastes and wants mature.

As per usual, I asked some of the fellow souls trapped in educational purgatory known as HHS what their favorite all-time holiday gifts were. Junior Sarah Powers had an interesting fave in that it was only part of the whole gift.  “There was a cow toy on a bike, and I saw the cow toy and went, ‘AHHH,  A COW TOY!’ and my parents wanted me to be happy about the bike but I wasn’t.” (I then led her to a padded room with her cow toy.)

Senior Nick Ricciarelli’s favorite gift was his Xbox when he was a young lad. “Yeah, I went pretty crazy for that.”

Senior Maya Collins’ favorite was the stuffed Minnie Mouse doll she got when she was three. She said she carried around for years and I suspect it’s still in her backpack.

My favorite response came from the mad chemist himself, Kenneth Decie. As I barged into the classroom to ask him this question, I saw that nothing had changed since I was in his class last year. The familiar smell of sulfuric acid, lithium, and red phosphorus wafted through the air. Anyway, when I asked him what gift stuck out in his mind, Mr. Decie said it was when he received the ultrasound of his son. It took me a while to mop up all the tears from the floor because that was a beautiful response. Well played, Ken, well played.

 

 

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.”

Should Attending Sports Parades be an Excused Absence?

By Drew Murphy

Since the moment the Red Sox clinched the World Series, the debate began raging among students, teachers, coaches and administrators. Should students be penalized for taking a day off for the victory parade or should it be considered an excused absence? Teachers and administrators argued the absence would be unexcused and no extra time would be given to make up work. Coaches warned that students who skipped school would be benched.

The student handbook states that an absence is excused for the following reasons:  “medical/dental appointment, funeral, court appearance or legal appointment, driver’s license, college visitation, religious holiday or at the discretion of the Principal/Associate Principal.” Another example of an excused absence is a school-sponsored field trip. Wikipedia defines a field trip as “a journey by a group of people to a place away from their normal environment.”  If you plan to be absent for any sort of reason and get permission from a parent/guardian and notify the school, the Principal/Associate Principal can make a judgement call and excuse the absence. In my opinion, planning to be absent for the celebratory parade of a professional sport team isn’t that different from being absent for any other personal matter.

When a local sports team wins the top title in its league, it shows that hard work, dedication, and commitment lead to amazing results. The classroom is not the only place that these important lessons are learned. Although we have been lucky over the last decade to see an impressive number of wins by our sports teams, we don’t know that this historical phenomena will continue. What if this parade is the last one for decades?  In a world with such violence and hate, to be able to come together as a whole community and share pure happiness and joy together is priceless. Navigating public transportation, following directions, sharing joy and camaraderie with thousands of strangers is worth more than something you might miss in the classroom for one day of school.

You don’t have to be a fan to realize the significance that sports play in our society. The number of lives that sports change is truly remarkable. You don’t have to be a fan to celebrate the success of a winning team, but you do need to see that parades represent a historical time that we are lucky enough to be present for. No matter the circumstance, sports bring us together. Now that doesn’t mean administrators have to close schools like the city of Philadelphia did in 2018 to celebrate the Eagles Super Bowl win. But they should make the right judgement call and allow students who have permission from their parents to partake in what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Featured picture from ESPN.go.com

Is Social Media Bad for Us?

Throughout the school district, the question of whether screens and social media are unhealthy for teenagers has been deemed an important topic this year. Under the slogan “Choose Presence,” the district is working to educate students and families about responsible use of social media while at the same time encouraging everyone, at least once in a while, to tune out and log off.

Earlier this month, the school administration presented the documentary Screenagers to parents and students to start a conversation about technology and to inform audiences about the dangers of spending too much time in front of screens. In the documentary, film director Delaney Ruston highlights how screens can quickly become a distraction, limiting the ability of teenagers to interact with one another and perform well at school. Today, unlike their parents, American teenagers are being raised and educated in a world where millions walk around engrossed with their cellphones and many classes have online assignments. Naturally, this results in an entirely new set of questions, dangers and opportunities in the digital age.

Personally, I think it is fair to say that there are many valid drawbacks to digitizing so much of our world. I believe that too much screen time can easily detract from the parts of life that are much more fulfilling when experienced without screens. I think that visiting my grandmother on her birthday will always be better than sending her a quick text, and I also believe that only so much can be conveyed in terms of emotion and meaningful conversation in an app. Likewise, quick access to the unlimited revenue of information that is the Internet means someone using a phone or tablet has access to both the very best and the very worst kinds of material. For this reason alone, it’s pretty scary for me to see five-and six-year-olds with their own tablets or smart phones.

I think that there is no shortage of reasons why screens might be dangerous if accessed too much or if used without mindfulness. However, I also think that technology deserves much credit for the equally long list of all that it does offer. Screens such as laptops and tablets have allowed for instantaneous research and all variety of functions available through apps. I cannot imagine how many hours a day I would lose leafing through library books to find information for research projects or essays. Likewise, I strongly believe that social media has opened doors for long-distance friendships and connections. I also have not personally noticed any significant difference in the way that my classmates interact and in the way that adults raised without cellphones communicate.

One of the reasons that I most value screens and social media is the opportunity that both offer for personal growth. In an unprecedented way, access to apps that allow teenagers express their creativity, learn more about global news, or see windows into the lives of people on social media from all over the world provides a glimpse of the world at large with one click of a button.

Ultimately, I think that we have much to learn about how to balance the digital world with the still important tangible world. However, I do not think that we have to face this issue with only fears about what could result from a world immersed in technology. Personally, I would argue that we have the power to use technology to grow our understanding of the world and ourselves in a very exciting and positive way.

Should NFL Players be Fired for Kneeling During Anthem?

If you’ve tuned in to any NFL games in the past few weeks, you’ve definitely noticed the number of players sitting or kneeling during the National Anthem. But why are they doing this?

It all started in August 2016, when the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced that he would not be standing for the National Anthem. His goal? To call attention to police violence and his opinion of injustice toward African Americans. This act caused an uproar of mixed emotions in the media and among fans. A handful of other athletes followed his lead, until this fall, when dozens of NFL players joined in.

Some players kneel, some sit, some link arms, and some don’t even leave the locker room. Since when has the NFL turned into a political podium to announce your stance on certain issues in the country? Most people want to turn on the television to watch a football game on any given night and witness two teams compete. Players are being paid to play, not to give their political views. And since when has making a political statement turned into disrespecting your country? The anthem stands for our country, and if you kneel or sit during it, you’re sending a message that you don’t like this country. If you feel the need to talk about politics, do it on your own time, not before a game on a stage where millions of people are watching.

In my opinion, the NFL should not fire players participating in this act, but they should start fining them, because it needs to end. If they fired every player who protested, an alarming number of players would lose their jobs and the NFL would be left very sparse.

This past Sunday, almost all teams protested in some way, many of them in response to President Trump’s comments of discontent with the players of the NFL. In my opinion, sports should be something you can watch where no politics are involved. People are tired of the protests. It is time for the NFL to unite as one, and resume standing for the National Anthem. We want to watch football again, not a political debate.

 

New Year’s Resolutions: Take 2

With the end of March approaching fast, what goals have you achieved since you decided to create your New Year’s resolution in January?

By: Chris Acampora and Kristen Plahn

Why do people all over the country choose January 1st as the day to start improving themselves? There are 365 days in a year, but as Americans, we always choose this day. Why is that? Aside from being the start of the year, the date has no significance. Research shows that 42 percent of New Year’s Resolutions end in failure. That is a lot of failure. How can we improve on our resolutions? The problem lies in the reason we created our News Year’s resolution in the first place.

New Year’s Resolution Facts

  • Every year 21 percent of Americans decide that their resolution is to lose weight and eat healthier

  • Other common resolutions include money management and spending time with family and friends

Why They Fail

The number one reason your New Year’s Resolutions fail is because you — like everyone else in America — set an unrealistic goal on an arbitrary date so other people can see that you’re improving yourself. The problem is, well, this doesn’t work!

People feel inclined to come up with New Year’s resolutions based on the fear of not having one, instead of wanting to achieve the actual goal.   They also create them in hopes of sharing them with others. The science behind this shows why this model fails. If you share your goal with another person, it is scientifically proven you’re less likely to achieve that goal. When you share your resolution with someone else, your brain gets the feeling that you get from actually achieving the goal. When you share the goal, you lose motivation because the satisfaction of the resolution has already happened. You need to show other people your goal by achieving it.

How to Make Your Resolutions Stick

Just telling others about your resolution is counterproductive, but finding someone to partner with may be your best bet. If your resolution is one you can do with a friend, then you’ll be more likely to achieve it. Your fear of not fulfilling your end of the bargain will motivate you to stick with it. You and your friend will also be able to keep tabs on each other. If your goal is to be healthy, you could be active with a friend; if your goal is to do better in school, you could start a study group. No matter your goal, finding someone to do it with will always makes it more successful and fun along the way.

Also try not to make your goal unrealistic. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If your goal is out of reach, you’ll likely feel discouraged and give up. Make sure the goal includes the steps you can take to achieve it. Being healthier isn’t very specific goal, but sticking to a healthy diet and going to bed at a certain time are concrete steps. Try to have goals that can be measured easily too, with concrete, easy- to-follow steps.

If You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again

Ok, you can admit it, your New Year’s resolution failed. Being active every day turned into once a week, and you’re sneaking a doughnut into your coffee run in the morning. But it’s not too late. Now that you know some strategies for success, try again. Pick your own arbitrary date to start working toward your goal. Maybe start a St. Patrick’s Day resolution. And instead of falling into the New Year’s Resolution trap next January, set check ins, or split one goal into multiple smaller goals. You’ll feel good about yourself when you actual succeed this time

You can meet your goal this time, we believe in you! Maybe just don’t tell anybody about it this time, ok?!

Should We Have a Therapy Dog in School?

A few weeks ago, nearly every student and teacher at Hanover High School was shocked when they saw a tiny, black goldendoodle puppy in the halls. Sophomore Siofra Carty, whose family breeds the pups, knows the joy they can bring so she asked Mr. Paquette if she could bring 8-week-old “Rosie” into school for a day. Whether a senior or freshman, tough athlete or sensitive artist, everyone was in awe and begged for a chance to hold the puppy. She was able to de-stress nearly the entire student body — and staff too. Having such a cute stress-reliever in the school made a lot of people think, can we have a therapy dog full-time?

If you’ve ever owned a puppy, you know the absurd amount of joy, happiness, and love they can bring into your life.  Dogs have the amazing ability to reduce stress, anxiety and loneliness, according to an article from Animal Planet.  Dogs also encourage exercise, improve cardiovascular health and boost your immune system. Some argue dogs help strengthen relationships, bringing strangers together or helping people break the ice.

In high school, where students and teachers are constantly stressing and dealing with tough assignments and life issues, a puppy would be a great source of happiness and love. Many colleges take advantage of animals’ calming effect during finals week, allowing their students to play with puppies to improve their moods and alleviate stress.

Sure, some people are worried about allergies, but that can be eased by bringing in certain breeds of dogs that have hair, not fur. Others fear the dogs may misbehave, but any therapy dog would have to go through rigorous training to ensure it has the right temperament for the job.

Dogs are full of all kinds of mental and physical health benefits– and we are in need! Colleges have found their pet-therapy programs to be very beneficial to their students, and even Rosie’s brief one-day visit to HHS has shown the same.

What do you guys think? Post your thoughts in the comments below.