Thursday, March 21, 2013

Teen Sentenced after Texting and Driving

   February of 2011, Aaron Deveau of Massachusetts was in a motor vehicular accident resulting in the death of a father of three.  Deveau was texting and driving when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed head-on into a vehicle in the next lane.
   Twenty-three percent of people openly admit to texting while driving.  The majority of those people were teens.  Who will be the next Deveau? 
   Recently, he was sentenced to a total of four and a half years in prison serving back to back charges of Motor Vehicle Homicide and Cause of Injury.  The judge ordered Deveau to serve one year, and apologize to the man’s girlfriend and children. Deveau says that he regrets his decision to check his text messages and would change it if he could.  This was his first offense and it has led to a widespread awareness to the dangers of texting while driving.
   So the real question is, how will you use this information in your own life?  Texting and driving is a serious matter and it can lead to injury or even death.  If you really want to talk to someone so badly that you would be willing to take the risk of killing someone’s father or even going to jail, then pull over and give them a ring.  Deveau was lucky that he wasn’t killed in the accident as well.  Don’t be one of the people on commercials holding a sign of the text you sent that led to someone’s death.  This really does happen.
   Another thing to think about is that, even though you may blow this story off, the police are going to start cracking down. Deveau is only 18 years old and for the rest of his life, he will have to live with this death on his conscience.   Nobody wants to go to jail or have someone’s death on their conscience.  Prison is a horrible place to be and if it is a child you accidently kill, it could be even worse.  Think of it this way: how would you feel if the person you’re closest to was killed because someone was texting and driving?  Is it worth it?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Students abusing school with trash

By: Megan Mobley
   All of us have heard the announcements made about the trash around the school. Principal Will Hosaflook comes on the intercom and tells us that we need to pick it up or some of our prized privileges will be taken away. We always freak out about it, but he has every right to take them away if needed. That’s the way to get things done.
   Students who have community service are told to clean the school. Some of them do a good job while some of the others barely try because they think that we shouldn’t be forced to do this. However, the students are the ones who trash the school, so we should be the ones to clean it up.
   If you look at the back of the Viking statue sitting in our lobby you’ll see that garbage has been shoved in the crevices of its back. The Forestry class of ’99 made this magnificent statute for us and students decided to just trash it. There is gum all over the back, but since nobody can see it they think its ok. That is something with history and they decided to ruin it. Whoever is doing it should be ashamed of themselves.
   Then there is the gum all over the ground. Some of it is dried up, while there is the occasional new piece that nobody wants to step in, but somebody inevitably does. Nobody wants to step in the disgusting wet gum that who-knows-who had just had in their mouth. Then there is the gum that is under the desks. We reach under there and sometimes stick our fingers in a new or old piece. Either way it’s still gross. Most of the time there is a trashcan sitting three feet away but they’re just too lazy to walk over to it and throw their gum away. It’s not that hard, I promise.
   Occasionally, there are the few pieces of trash that litter our hallways. Students decide they don’t want to carry it around until they get a chance to throw it away so they just casually throw it on the ground and walk away. With about a thousand kids in the hallway at once you can’t really tell who did it. Sometimes it falls out of our lockers and we don’t notice, but any kid can pick it up. Any kid could throw it away, they just decide not to. Sometimes it’s because of the traffic in the halls and we don’t really have time to bend down and get it, but other kids do. If you’re in the back of the pack and there aren’t a bunch of kids behind you, pick it up and throw it away. You’re always near a trash can whether it’s in the hall or in a classroom, it doesn’t matter. Just pick it up.
   Senior Andrew Newhart feels that people should properly throw their trash away. He thinks that there should be more accessible trashcans or put the ones we do have in better locations. “If the mess is bad enough, then yes, they should be punished. If they throw a candy wrapper on the ground or something they should just be told to pick it up but if they throw the bag from bagged lunch on the ground then they should get a day of lunch detention,” Newhart replied when asked if we should punish them and how.
   Students have the opportunity to throw things away at all times. We shouldn’t leave trash all around the school because it makes us look bad. If you see something lying in the hallways pick it up. If you can’t throw it away right then take it with you until you can. It really isn’t that hard and it won’t take time out of your oh so busy schedules. Do something for the school that does things for you all the time, throw your trash away.

YouTube’s Hidden Talent: Lindsey Stirling

By: Logan Moore


   Have you ever heard a violin mixed with hip hop music? YouTube is a fantastic website for showing off talented people; many times there are celebrities made from putting videos of them showing off their unique talents on YouTube. Lindsey Stirling, a 26-year-old musician from California, is no exception. Stirling is a violinist, dancer, composer, and performer all wrapped up in one person. She plays a variety of music, mixing her amazing violin skills with pop songs, hip hop, video game themes, and acoustic themes.
   Stirling has an album on iTunes that was released September 19 of last year. It has sold very well and includes all of her popular songs from her YouTube channel. Her most popular song, “Crystallize”, has over 47 million views. It mixes classical violin with dubstep, which may sound very strange. I’ve never been a fan of dubstep, but when mixed with the violin in this way I can not only handle it, but enjoy it; albeit, it’s used in small amounts.
   Not only is her music great, but so is her personality. According to her website, lindseystirlingviolin.com, her music is “a reflection of her personality,” which is definitely shown through each of her songs. She is vibrant, exciting, deep, and enthusiastic, all of which add up to a wonderful personality. She has been playing since the age of six, which has paid off after her years of practice and dedication. Her inspiration comes from composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchailkovsky, who she listened to constantly as a young girl.
   Stirling is quickly rising to fame from her YouTube channel, appearing as a finalist on “America’s Got Talent,” and performing across the globe in countries such as Italy, England, and Kenya. If you don’t know about her already, I strongly suggest finding her YouTube channel Lindseystomp and listen to a couple of songs. She is currently on a U.S. tour and traveling the country to play in music halls and theaters. Many of her performances are sold out as she moves towards Ohio in the coming week.

Art students shoot for third year win in Junior Duck Stamp

By: Tabitha Hudnall
    Every year since 1993, the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service has sponsored the Junior Duck Stamp contest. Since then it has grown massively, and students across the nation participate.
“It would be really nice to win the contest,” stated Drew Scherr who has a painting entered in the contest. “The money will help me to get out of here and start my college career.”
Zeke Freshour 2012 Duck Stamp State Winner
   There are 100 awards for each state, district, or territory. Also, there are 12 first place, 12 second place, and 12 third place winners. Up to 64 honorable mentions will be chosen. One design will be selected from the 12 first place winners, which is “Best of Show.”
   The winning piece of artwork is shrunk down and turned into a stamp that is sold across the nation. The Junior Duck Stamps are sold for $5 each. The revenue earned from these Duck Stamps is returned to states for funding of environmental and conservation education programs.
   “We have been doing the duck stamp contest since about 2000, and so far we have done great. There have been a couple students who have placed first and second, and our school has had a first place winner for the past two years at the state level,” stated art director Debbie Sisson.
   Zeke Freshour, who graduated in 2012, was a two-time Junior Duck Stamp Contest winner.

Friday, March 15, 2013

NASCAR-NRA partnership sparks debate


By:  Seth Wilson

   Texas Motor Speedway is one of the many locations for this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series, but this year it is acquiring a little bit more attention than usual.  April 13 the “NRA 500” will be held at this race track, starting debate around the country on whether the National Rifle Association should be sponsoring events such as this.
   Merely three months ago, Sandy Hook Elementary School was the location of a mass shooting that, in total, took the lives of 20 children and six adults.  The NRA’s new sponsorship leaves many wondering whether this is a little bit too soon to bring a group supporting guns into the bright lights of a nationally televised racing event.
   This is not the NRA’s first trip around the race track however; they sponsored a Nationwide race just last year, but with the families of lost children still mourning, this decision by NASCAR is a questionable one. After NASCAR made considerable donations to Sandy Hook and the families of the victims, signing a deal with the NRA seems to be a little inconsiderate.
   Many have spoken out against the partnership, including Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.  Senator Murphy in a letter to the CEO of NASCAR stated that:
   “Given the emotional state of the national conversation, I believe it would be imprudent for NASCAR to step into such a heated political debate and take sides in this debate by allowing the NRA the title role in the race.”
   The contract between the NRA and NASCAR is set for one year with an option for a second year, but a change might have to be considered if NASCAR wants to keep the public happy.

Spring sports briefs

By: Samantha Miller
 Baseball
   The baseball team is confident in their ability to work together and succeed. Practice began February 27. Their first home game is March 25.
“I think we’ll have an awesome season. We’re a very young team, with only four seniors. But, overall I think this season will be very good for us,” said Easton Berry.
           
Track and Field
   Track is undergoing new, added leadership, but expects to have a good season. This year, Michael Bright became the assistant coach both track teams.Their practices began March 2 and the first home meet is March 16.

Tennis
   The tennis team is excited for their upcoming matches.Practice began during the end of February. Their first home tennis match is April 15.

Softball
   The girls of the softball team are ready to dominate this season. Softball practice began in March. Their first scrimmage was March 9 at home versus Roane County High School. The first home game is March 13 against Parkersburg High.
“I’m really excited about this season and our upcoming game against George Washington,” said player Karly Fitzsimmons.

Honors recognized at National Honor Society ceremony


By: Jared Casto

   Being inducted into National Honor Society is one of the greatest accomplishments any student can achieve. Each year, many are considered for acceptance but only a select few are chosen.  National Honor Society members take part in activities such as Adopt-a-Family, fundraisers, and the Ripley High School blood drive. It is an honor to even be considered for induction, but being accepted is something to truly be proud of.
   The National Honor Society induction ceremony was held March 6. At this ceremony, Principal Will Hosaflook spoke about the importance and honor held inside of the Society that will be bestowed upon the new elected members. Afterwards, officers of the club including Seniors Andy Mellert, Michalia Parsons, Chad Longanacre, Tyler Bailey, and Ashley Donohew  talked about the requirements of those in the Society and what exactly it means to be a member. Assistant Principal Jeff Banton then followed by announcing the new inductees.
   New inductees include Elijah Adkins, Savanna Ashworth, Megan Bare, Kensey Bergdorf, Kaitlin Chinn, Kelsey Frampton, Jenny Gibbs, Erica Gibson, Chelsey Hager, Brittani Hancock, Dallas Hopkins, Caleb Jennings, Jarah Manns, Tegan Morris, Braxton Morrison, Kelli Poling, Anna Robinson, Alex Shamblin, Brandon Tolley, Nathan Tucker, Kacie Whitney, Sarah Williams, and Laura Wilson.
   NHS advisor Elizabeth Sayre explained the requirements for induction: “The national standards for admittance to Honor Society are so high, it is truly an honor to be inducted. Students must display not only a high grade point, but be leaders in the areas of character and service.”
   Requirements for being accepted include a 3.6 GPA and participation in service, character, and leadership areas. Initial consideration just requires the GPA, but to be elected you must be a well-rounded student. Students with a the applicable GPA will be sent applications where they detail their accomplishments in each of the three categories above. Teachers are sent ratings forms for each student on which they will rank the student according the service, character, and leadership categories. Those score are then averaged, added with the GPA, and divided by six. 

How has technology changed in high school education?

By: Leah Johnson
   Technology through the years has changed in schools. Teachers and students use ipads, and laptops for many things. We use computers, laptops for writing assignment, to do papers, to look up information for projects. Teachers use computers and other devices for grading papers and they use their computers for everything. The computers are now up to date and some teachers now have newer computers. The library now has eBooks now you can use for school work. Teachers and students now use flash drives instead of floppy disks, they have Elmo’s where you hook them up to the TV, and teachers can put their work under it so students can see it on the TV.
   Spanish teacher Samara Woods says, “I-pads and smart phones weren’t available five to ten years ago. “The overheads have changed and now are called Elmo’s.  She’s getting an apple box for her to be able to use her i-pad.
   Science teacher Maudie Moore says, “In her senior classes they use test responders to take tests so it doesn’t take up too much time. The i-pads offers more hands on/ interactions activities.”
   The newer technology is much better; it can help you study and help you pass your classes. The i-pads show examples faster to larger groups. The technology saves paper, trees, and money. It helps some students visually than lecture/ out loud, showing us how to do it instead of them telling us.
   There are a few problems with the new technology. Some teachers struggle to adapt to the new i-pads or Elmo’s. The student’s safety and security online or protecting expensive equipment. Some of the students don’t like the newer technology.

I.D. cards needed for various reasons


By:  BayleeVanKirk

   Recently the school has made us start using our I.D. cards for getting breakfast and lunch.  Many students usually disregard this because the school still gives us food.  Even if you lose your card the only thing that you really have to have it for is the library and most kids just avoid it if they lose the card.  Our librarian, Gail Benford, only makes about 100 replacement cards per year.  There are surely more people that lose them, but they do not care because they do not use them.
   “It does not really affect me in school.  I pack my own lunch and only use books from other teachers,” said junior MikaylaPursley who lost her I.D. card.
   Most students, if not all, would be fine if we got rid of the cards all together, but they do not realize that it helps with security.  Having a picture of you on something that you can carry around is proof of identification.It is good for the school to have your picture in the system to help administrators identify you and to get to know you better.  It also provides a recent picture for law enforcement if anything would happen to you.
   The school does not deny you food if you forget your card; they just make you walk around the cafeteria.  They cannot legally keep you from eating so what is the point in using them?  For one it speeds up the line by not having to take the time for secretary Anna Hannah to type all of the students’ lunch numbers in her computer.  Another is it teaches responsibility by keeping your card for a specific reason.
   The school system gives you a free card with your name, birth year, and a picture of you, and all you have to do is not lose it.  In most cases people do not lose their driver’s license, so what is the difference with the I.D. card? 
   “The card only helps when I need research for a project, I pack my own lunch so it has no other use to me,” stated senior Andrew Newhart.

Get ready for variety show

By: Lexi Martin

   The Variety Show is an opportunity for anyone in the school to show their talent. Christina Iman has put together a show for the school this year. Although there are a lot of singers there will be other talents as well. Not every year do the students get an opportunity like this to show their true talents. Getting up in front of the whole school has to be one of the most nerve-racking things a person can do.
   Senior Jacob Bignall said “They are fun and a nice opportunity to express ourselves.”
   The Variety Show will be taking place sometime during WESTEST week and it will cost either $1 or $2 to get in. You must buy a ticket for that much in order to get in. There will be eight to ten singers and they are looking for more talents. They are willing to accept anything from a skit to a magic show.  
   It would be much appreciated if everybody would come and watch the show. Watching your peers get up on stage and publicly show what they can do and give support to them is very important. From my experiences of going to the variety shows that school has offered, I have found them very entertaining.

Knives allowed on planes again

By: Faythe Maston
   How many times have you ever walked into a secure building and forgotten you had your Swiss Army knife on you? For many of us, carrying a pocket knife is just a natural part of our daily lives that we give absolutely no thought too. This leads to many problems when visiting locations or events with high security where no “weapons”, including knives, are allowed. But recently, airports have decided to allow passengers to carry knives in their carry-on bags.
   The change in airport policy was announced March 5 to both joy and outrage at the decision. The Transportation Security Administration, TSA, announced the new change when Administrator John Pistole told the public during an aviation conference.  Many were shocked by this policy, as it will be the first time since the aftermath of September 11, 2001 that knives will be allowed on board. TSA claims the change is to help cause fewer delays at airports, as one airport recounts seizing roughly 47 knives a day over the last three months of 2012. The policy claims that you can carry on a knife with a blade smaller than 2.36 in. in length and .5 in. in width, along with certain sporting equipment such as lacrosse sticks, ski sticks, and small souvenir baseball bats. In contrast, box-cutter knives, razors, and knives with molded grips, locking blades, or fixed blades will still not be allowed on board.
   However, not everyone is so happy about the recent policy changes. Numerous flight attendants have voiced their concern, outrage, and disgust. Attendants claim that TSA is only trying to make their staffs’ lives easier, but allowing knives on planes will do nothing to make flights safer. Pistole says that these new policy changes are to keep up with other international airports, a decision which a large number of pilots have applauded him for. He also claims that plane security has enhanced since 9/11 including things such as reinforced pilot’s door to enter the cockpit. After the attack, numerous items were banned from flights, but the TSA has gradually taken items off the banned list.
   The new policies are set to take effect on April 25 and will be closely followed with international flight rules. Despite some controversy, it appears that the TSA has truly decided to lighten its iron grip on safety. Along with these changes, in January, TSA decided that it would soon abandon the use of its naked body scanners.  This came after information was revealed stating that the photos could be saved and viewed at later dates. TSA’s contract with Rapiscan Systems will end and the scanners will be out of use by June. With a number of new policy changes, who knows what TSA’s newest flight change will be?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kindles and eBooks are here!

By: Tabitha Hudnall
   The wait is over! Kindles and E-Books are now available to all students to check out in the library.
Kindles are a great way for students to read their favorite books and use some advanced technology at the same time. The Kindles have a six inch touch screen, built-in wifi, and each one has over 100 classic literature titles already downloaded to them.
   Along with this awesome technology though, there are some restrictions. In order to check out a Kindle, students must take home the User’s Agreement regarding to the rules and how to take care of the Kindle. This paper also includes any fines and must be signed by a parent, then returned to Librarian Gail Benford. Students who wish to check out a Kindle should go to the library when there is plenty of time to go through all of the procedures, like at the beginning of class or lunch. All students checking out a Kindle must participate in a Device/ebook Training session with Mrs. Benford. This is only required the first time a student checks one out. When checking out a Kindle, students must have a current ID card and cannot have any outstanding books or library fines.
   The Kindles are loaned for 21 days, including weekends, and renewals are not permitted. Students who want to check out a Kindle after returning one will be able to register on a waiting list, but there is a one-week waiting period. The chargers are not checked out with them though. Chargers are easily lost, and they are expensive, so they will be kept in the library. All of the Kindles are completely charged and inspected to make sure they are in good condition before they are checked out, and the battery lasts for a long time. If you check out a Kindle and the battery happens to die, take it to Mrs. Benford in the library and she will charge it. It can be picked back up once it is finished.
  Also, students are not able to download anything to the Kindles. If everyone were to download things onto them, then the memory would become overcrowded and there would be no room for more books. If there is an eBook on the OverDrive system a student wants to borrow, ask library staff members to load the book onto the Kindle. These borrowed books will automatically return to the library after 21 days.
   Each Kindle is kept in a case with directions on how to use them on the inside flap of the cover. Anyone who checks a Kindle out should read through these directions to make sure they are taken care of properly. When turning the kindles back in, do not put them in the drop box where the returned books go. Students who do this will receive a $5 fine. Books being tossed in will damage the Kindles. Be sure to hand them directly to library personnel to ensure their safety, and to ensure that you won’t have to pay for the broken Kindle.
   The fines for the Kindles are a lot more than that for late or lost books. There is a $1 fine for every day the Kindle is late, with a maximum fine up to $99. If the case is damaged or lost, there is a $10 replacement fee. If the Kindle is lost or broken, it costs $99 to replace it.
    If a student does not want to check out one of the Kindles, and have access to the internet on their own personal Kindle, tablet, or smartphone, they can use the library’s new websites that provide free ebook checkouts and downloads.
   One of these programs is Follet Shelf. Many students already use Follet Destiny to keep track of the books they read and even look for books they want to read. Follet Shelf has a wide array of ebooks for PC, Mac, laptop, netbook, and some select mobile devices. You must be logged into the program to look through or check out in the ebook catalog. The username for Follet Shelf is the nine digit student ID number, and the password is “rihs.”
   The other program is OverDrive, which has a huge variety of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital content. This website is better accessible to students because the program downloads ebooks and audiobooks to iPods, iPhones, iPad, Android, Kindles, Sony Readers, and other devices. Students need to have an Amazon account to have access to these ebooks and other content.
   Having this technology available to students is a great opportunity. This type of technology is becoming a part of our everyday lives, and having Kindles and eBooks give all students a chance to experience it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pi Day

By: Logan Moore         
            Every year on March 14 comes a day we celebrate pi. According to math teacher Mrs. Riffe, pi is the ratio of circle’s circumference to its diameter. Most math teachers at the school all have different Pi Day traditions. Mrs. Lough says, “Whether it be food, our decorations, our clothing, or games, there is a good chance you will see something about pi.” Mrs. Lough is celebrating Pi Day on March 15, since Fridays are more fun.
There is no real point to this celebration, other than to have some fun and look more into what pi is and how it’s used, and since there isn’t much else to say about Pi Day other than to wait for it to come, here are some fun and interesting facts about pi.
1.      Pi Day is actually a nation celebrations passed by Congress on March 9, 2009.

2.      Pi Day falls on March 14th, or 3/14. Pi is usually shortened to 3.14.

3.      Pi has been calculated to over a trillion numbers after the decimal point and it still doesn’t stop there.

4.      The symbol for pi is the 26th letter in the Greek alphabet.

5.      Pi has been studied by humans for over 4,000 years.

6.      Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day.

7.      The Bible makes a reference to pi in 1 Kings 7:23 and suggests it is nearly equal to 3.

8.      Since pi is used to calculate the circumference of a circle and is infinite, some mathematicians say it is no more correct to say a circle has an infinite number of corners than to view it as cornerless.

9.      A German mathematician, Ludolph van Ceulen, devoted his entire life to finding the first 35 decimal places of pi.

10.  If you were to print a billion decimal places of pi in normal font, it would stretch fro New York City to Kansas.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Madness of March:

NCAA looking for a new champion
By:  Baylee VanKirk
  March Madness always brings excitement in the college basketball world.  The buzz is always headlined by the chance of upsets or the top seeds winning it all.  The tournament has 68 teams with seeding from 1 to 16.  The four play-in games select teams to play in different regions for different seeds.  The championship this year will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on April 8.
  To find out which teams make the tournament, CBS has a “Selection Sunday,” which is held on March 17 this year.  The favorites to win right now are Indiana, Michigan, Duke, and Florida, with strong opposition coming from the colleges like Miami (Fl.), Gonzaga, and Michigan State.  If you watch the tournament annually, then you know that upsets are not uncommon but fun to watch and anticipate.
   Last year we saw two 2-seeds go down in the first round (Duke and Missouri) which was not expected.  We are still waiting for a 1-seed to lose in the first round, but that will likely not happen for a long time. There is too much of a difference between the first and last seeds for this to happen, but you never know! 
 Last year the dominance of the Kentucky Wildcats was too much to bear.  This year it seems that they will not even make the tournament.  With a slight chance of them actually succeeding, they could be the first consecutive champions since Florida in 2006-07.  With that unlikely to happen, we look for the powerhouses to come back like Syracuse, Kansas, and Louisville.  This year, though, a lot of mid-major teams like Saint Louis, Butler, Wichita State, and Creighton look to overtake the “Big Boys.”
 Personally the most exciting thing to do during the madness is to keep up with the brackets, competing with friends for fun or money.  Predicting the brackets is a fun pastime to get you through the troubles of school, work, and life in general.

Meth outbreaks in West Virginia


 
By: Emily Goode
 
   In West Virginia we have beautiful land and kindhearted people for the most part.  Besides these good characteristics in our state, we also have a handful of trouble in our neck of the woods.  West Virginia has a growing problem with meth.

   Over the last year, West Virginia meth labs have increased by more than 50 percent, according to drug specialist, Dan Foster.  This drug is rapidly growing and draining the people of West Virginia, which is why Foster has released the prescription “PSE” to the media.  This over the counter drug was created to relieve stress on the public health system.  It is said to help decrease the addiction to those willing to take it.

   Meth can cause major health issues such as “meth mouth”, which is when all your teeth fall out due to an abnormally dry mouth caused by the drug.  It also makes patient people become paranoid and have an abnormally destructive edge.  Hypertension and heart problems are other issues resulting from meth use according to the Narcotics Anonymous World Services.
  
  Living in areas where these drugs aren’t uncommon, we have to decide for ourselves whether we want to ruin our lives, face the possibility of death, or if we want to continue to be clean and set a better example for the younger generation.

Are you ready for ‘Judgment’?


New ‘Gears of War’ takes players back to the start of Locust War.
By: Faythe Maston
   When it comes to gaming, most gamers are torn on their opinion of video game prequels. Despite some fan backlash, Epic Games has decided to make the newest addition to the Gears of War series a prequel to the famous trilogy. This entry, named Gears of War:  Judgment, promises to give players a more in-depth look at the start of the Locust War and show the past history of series’ favorites Damon Baird and Augustus “The Cole Train” Cole. The game will be available for the Xbox 360 on March 19th and is rated M for mature.
   Gears of War: Judgment is set 14 years before the first Gears of War on Sera, an Earth-like planet, and showcases the beginning of a war between the Locust, sentient creatures that have appeared from below ground, and the COGs, the human soldiers of Sera. The game opens with the trial of the newly formed “Kilo Squad”, who is charged for treason, desertion, the theft of military technology, and cowardice during the war. “Kilo Squad” is made up of Baird, a technical engineer and the leader of the squad, Cole, a former sports star turned soldier, Sofia Hendrik, a by-the-books soldier, and Garron Paduk, a former militia man. They claim they acted to stop a large invasion of Locust and save countless lives. The game will unfold as the characters give their testimonies for their actions in the field. These testimonies will be in the form of flashbacks that the player takes part in.
   As this is the 4th Gears of War game produced by Epic Games, Epic has had time to fine-tune the classic gameplay of Gears of War while also adding new multiplayer modes, weapons, and enemies. New bonuses come in the form of “Mission Declassification”, where characters will remember certain facts about an encounter that adds an additional challenge to combat in exchange for better rewards. New weapons will be available to use in combat, while a new enemy type comes in the form of the Rager, a Locust beast who goes into a berserk state when dealt enough damage. One of the most awaited new features appears to be the new OverRun mode, a five-on-five multiplayer mode with one team playing as COG soldiers and another as Locusts. Along with these new changes comes additional difficulty, as the game is said to have a sadistic amount of Locust enemies to defeat, due to it being set at the beginning of the war.
   With the rest of the series’ success, Judgment has some large shoes to fill. The title alone will be enough for some fans to pick up the latest entry in the series. This is due to the fact the original Gears of War is said to have breathed life back into the shooter-genre and the rest of the series continued to impress gamers. With its wealth of new challenges, controls, and difficulty, Judgment looks to be a welcome addition to the famous Gears of War series. Now, we are only left to wonder how Judgment will change the way we look at the shooting genre.

Grammy 411

By: Megan Mobley
     Many artists attended the Grammys February 10th this year. For those of you who don’t really know what the Grammy’s are, they are a place for musicians to get together and receive the awards that they may or may not deserve. There are many awards but not everybody received one. Many musicians went home to celebrate while others went home and loathed those who received the thing they wanted most, at least for that night.
     The new band Fun won Best New Artist of the Year while their song, “We Are Young” won Song of the Year. Skrillex won Best Dance Recording and Best Dance/Electronica Album for, “Bangarang”. “Lonely Boy” from The Black Keys won Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. Carrie Underwood won Best Country Solo Performance for her song, “Blown Away”.
     Gotye won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for the song that seems to always be playing on the radio, “Somebody That I Used To Know. He had been running against people such as Fun, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Frank Ocean, and The Black Keys. Mumford and Sons won Album of the Year for “Babel”. Some of the songs we know from that album are, “Babel, “Lovers’ Eyes”, “Ghosts That We Knew”, and “I Will Wait”.
     Although everybody seems to know Carly Rae Jepsen’s song, “Call Me Maybe”, she did not win Best Pop Solo Performance. Adele won that award for her song, “Set Fire To The Rain”. Kelly Clarkson won Best Pop Vocal Album for “Stronger”. They don’t just celebrate the popular pop music that most teens listen to. They also celebrated classical music, opera music, instrumental, other types of music that aren’t usually known. Poèmes won for Best Classical Vocal Solo. Kurtág & Ligeti: Music For Viola won for Best Classical Instrumental Solo.
     There were many winners this year and whether we agree with who won what doesn’t matter. They have already won and there is nothing we can do about it, so we should just be happy with it and await next year. There are bound to be people who we feel shouldn’t win again. That’s just how it seems to play out.

Pope Resigning???


   February 11, Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Catholic Church, announced his resignation at the College of Cardinals. Benedict feels that with his current health problems and declining stability, he would not be able to adequately perform his daily duties.  His resignation date is set for February 28 after which he will remain in the Vatican for security reasons.  There will be no temporary pope for the 15-20 days it takes for a new one to be chosen which leaves them confused because, as we all know, every group needs a leader.
    Choosing a new pope will not be easy at this point in time because it has been so long since the last election for a new pope.  There are five steps in electing a new pope.  First, the Vatican summons a conclave of cardinals within 15-20 days of the resignation.  Then, cardinals under the age of 80, are sequestered within Vatican City, and each takes an oath of secrecy, swearing not to release voting information unto the people as this will cause chaos.  Next, two elections will be held each morning and afternoon which need a two-thirds majority rule to choose a winner.  Then, ballots are burned after each round with black smoke which meaning no decision and white smoke meaning a pope is chosen.  Bells accompany the white smoke to avoid confusion.  Finally, the new pope is introduced from the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square with the words “HabemusPapam” (We have a pope) and he imparts his first blessing.
   This is an unusual circumstance for many reasons:  He is the first pope to resign since Gregory XII, 600 years ago, for the first time in history an African-American candidate is in the race, and there is also a North American candidate in the running.
   Further information can be found on the news, internet, and even from a Catholic Minister.  The steps for electing a new pope are further explained at www.saratogian.com/articles/2013/02/11/news/doc51191073e82d9571314528.txt

1960's movie column

By: Lexi Martin
  The 1960’s was a time for change. When I think of that time I think of Woodstock, the Civil Rights Movement, and the war in Vietnam. Movies from that time were also transforming. Films such as “The Apartment” and “West Side Story” because it shows how people are becoming more open-minded and more acceptant in general but especially music and different races. New actors and actresses were popping into the silver screen while the classics were in the rearview. Welcome to the “Swingin’ Sixties”, a time that will always be remembered.

   There was a much wider variety of movies to pick from in this decade than the previous one. For example, you can sit down and watch “The Virgin Spring,” a title that you wouldn’t think about hearing in the innocent ‘50s. In the ‘60s you could choose from titles such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” based off the book by Harper Lee. Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” erupted onto the silver screen about a secretary in her thirties who steals a fortune from her boss and encounters a young motel land owner who is dominated by his mother. “The Graduate” proves the loss of innocence in the 60’s when Dustin Hoffman’s character had an affair with a married woman in her forties and then falls in love with her daughter. Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson!

   New actors and actresses were growing bigger and bigger. This is when you began hearing about names that are still well-known today, such as: Paul Newman, John Wayne, Natalie Wood, and Jane Fonda. Although popular names from the previous decade were still in the news (Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn), they were falling behind. 

   The 60’s were a time of originals, the ones that they adapt for remakes now. For instance, “Ocean’s Eleven” came out and they didn’t make a hundred sequels to it, it stood out on its own. The original “Planet of the Apes,” directed by Franklin J. Schaffner was by far the best version of it. “Romeo and Juliet” starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey was the first movie based on the classic romantic tragedy by William Shakespeare. “West Side Story,” starring Natalie Wood, was based on the same plot. The 1960’s was when you began hearing about James Bond through a massive amount of movies about him. “The Magnificent Seven” made its debut in 1960 and is about a suppressed Mexican village that assembles seven gunfighters to defend their homes.  These are just a few of the originals that came out in that decade.

   The 1960’s were an important time in history all around. The music and the movies were all accustomed to changing with the times, just as it has through the years, and just as it always will. Movies from the 1960’s are a wonderful new experience and one that everyone should feel.

Earth Day art show to be held in April

By: Samantha Miller

During the week of April 22, 2013, an art show will be held in honor of Earth Day. It will take place in the school library and will be free of charge to attend. All pieces on display will be eco-themed.

      “We held a similar art show right before Christmas and were excited about the number of participants. Students who don’t often look at art were having great discussions about the pieces on display. The last one was themed ‘Home and Family’,” Emily Okes said.
English teachers Okes and Kelley Adcock organized the previous show.
      “We wanted an opportunity for students to see the visual arts and the talents this school has,” Adcock stated.
Last year’s show featured both student pieces and museum prints, and this year’s will too. But, there will be more pieces collected from the student body this time around.
      “We hope to use more student art in this next show,” Okes said.

Elizabeth Knox, Junior, was one of the students whose piece was chosen to be put on display in last year’s show.
      “It made me feel really good about myself and my work because only a handful of student art was selected and mine was one of them,” Knox stated.

Earth Day takes place April 22 every year. It was founded in 1970 as a day to be educational about issues in the environment. Earth Day is now celebrated all over the world; it is occasionally extended into Earth Week – seven whole days of green awareness.

 

“Blunderbuss” should have won “Album of the Year”

By: Jared Casto

                For a while now, I have analyzed the importance of awards shows. I know which ones matter, those that do not, and which were simply created to publicize celebrities who are doing things that the mass media cares about. For example, the Oscars clearly matter and winning one is a top honor for anyone involved in a film. However, the Golden Globes do not matter and exist solely just to capitalize on the fame of popular movies and raise awareness that the Oscars will be in a few weeks.
The Grammys, what many consider to be the Oscars of music, is an award show that absolutely does not matter. It’s essentially the equivalent of MTV’s Video Music Awards, only with a trophy that is not completely ridiculous. The same undeserving and untalented “artists” are there trying to promote their latest single, only this time they are winning awards that the general public finds important. But the general public has proved again and again that they seek only what comes to them easily (such as music from the iTunes Top 100 or any horrible Top 40 radio station). In a sense, the artists at the Grammys appeal to the least common denominator and rarely challenge their audience. This is all good and well until you realize that there are musical artists out there who actually deserve to win these awards.
When considering all of this, anyone can see that the Grammys are not a measurement of talent and are instead a measurement of popularity. However, the most frustrating part about the Grammy Awards is the fact that they tease people who actually know of good music by nominating a couple artists who actually deserve it…and then making sure that they lose. For instance, I cannot understand how anyone can honestly think that Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” is better than Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” or Frank Ocean’s “channel.ORANGE,” two albums that appeared near the top of every “Best Albums of 2012” list. Though Mumford & Sons are not exactly the worst band ever, they are not entirely worthy of winning an award with a title such as “Album of the Year.” “Babel” sounds absolutely no different than 2009’s “Sigh No More,” has received very mixed reviews from critics, is musically and lyrically boring, and even more pretentious than this article (Mumford & Sons apparently think they are the saviors of music). And let’s just be honest here. Mumford & Sons never have and never will match the level of excellence that Jack White achieved in the days of The White Stripes and is currently achieving in his solo career. Notable songs from White’s “Blunderbuss” that are better than everything Mumford & Sons have ever done include “Love Interruption,” “Blunderbuss,” and “On and On and On.”
Disregarding the fact that “El Camino” is probably The Black Keys’ worst album, it was still miles ahead of “Babel” and FUN’s “Some Nights” which honestly has no place being nominated for any musical award. However, the committee who chooses the winners know nothing from “Blunderbuss” has received any Top 40 radio play and, even though there have been many popular singles from “El Camino,” it still has not made The Black Keys into a huge successful mainstream band yet. Frank Ocean’s “channel.ORANGE,” though decently popular, is much too “strange” for the committee who nominates Bruno Mars and Rihanna for awards. And they probably realized that there would be an uproar from anyone over the age of 12 if FUN’s “Some Nights” nabbed the “Album of the Year” award; thus, Mumford & Sons were the only choice.
This is just one example of how horrible the Grammy Awards are. I could honestly go through each category, choosing the artists who do not deserve to win due to their lack of talent (which is sort of my opinion, but still) and replacing them with those who actually deserve to be rewarded for their achievements. But this would be useless because the Grammys won’t change until the public opinion on what is good and what is not changes. Until then, we will see artists like Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj being rewarded for horrible pop songs that require absolutely no thought on part of the listener. These “artists” realize this and will continue exploiting the stupidity of the least common denominator and giving them exactly want they want, pure trash.

'The Americans' might alienate Americans

By: Jared Casto               

“The Americans,” a new show on FX, offers a different perspective to the U.S. and Russian conflicts that occurred during the Cold War. It’s very rare that a show focuses on the “bad guy.” A possible example of this would be “Breaking Bad,” a drama that centers on a Walter White, a chemistry teacher turned meth dealer. “The Americans” takes it a step further, giving the characters little for us to sympathize with, something that delivers an interesting dynamic but also condemns it to a probable small viewership due to the challenge it presents.
The Americans revolves around two KGB spies, Elizabeth (Keri Russell, TV’s “Felicity” and the recent “Dark Skies”) and Phillip Jennings (Matthew Rhys, TV’s “Brothers and Sisters”), stationed in American pretending to be average, suburban citizens in the early 1980’s. Throughout the first four episodes, there have been flashbacks to the main characters’ pasts in order to allow the viewer to see how they became KGB agents. In the show’s present time, Elizabeth and Phillip are shown dealing with missions, attempting to assimilate into American society while still remembering their origins, and finding time to concentrate on their children who don’t know their parents’ secret…all while living next door to Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich, “The Truman Show”), an FBI agent.
Although the show has great writing, acting, and a believable sense of realism, “The Americans” seems to be lacking in an area that I can’t really explain. The show is good by all means; maybe even great. But I’m becoming less enthused to return each week. If you’re familiar with “Mad Men,” you might know what I’m addressing. “Mad Men” is essentially a perfect show. But it’s not very exciting and can sometimes be a chore to watch. There’s also something else that really concerns me about “The Americans”…we already know how the Cold War ends.  The lack of mystery could have a largely negative effect on the show.
I’d definitely recommend catching an episode or so of “The Americans” if you have the time. I’d try to start with the pilot, which is pretty great by pilot standards. There’s a large chance that “The Americans” could eventually become something big and maybe even win an Emmy or so. But there’s also a possibility that the show could alienate its audience what with the main characters being enemies of our country, lose viewership due to disinterest, and get canceled after the first season. It will be interesting to see what becomes of it.