What a difference a year makes.
Last year, classrooms were so cold that teachers joked about having to share them with penguins. This year, after a $7.4 million building renovation that included a new heating and cooling system, things are much cozier.
Cozier, but not perfect.
“Parts of the school are really hot and other parts are freezing,” junior Alexa Holleran observed recently.
Indeed, the temperature can seemingly swing wildly from classroom to classroom, sometimes even when the classrooms are right beside each other.
"When I turn down the thermostat in my room, it gets cold in the room next door. So they're always freezing, and I'm always burning up,” said HHS bookkeeper Lisa Lowhorn, who works in Principal Bob Cotter’s old office. “I have reported it several times, but so far nothing has changed.”
Be patient, says Cotter: "I don't think there are any problems. I think it’s a matter of getting used to the new system.”
The new system is awfully high-tech. Instead of relying on a loop of flowing water like the old one, the new one filters the air and moisturizes it to keep it cool and less humid.
Cotter is trying to address complaints. He recently took care of a hot, stuffy classroom in the English hall.
And for most HHS teachers and students, the new system is a leap over the old one.
"All our problems have been solved," said science teacher Lynne Martin, who probably still shivers at the thought of students sitting through class in coats and hats.
Article by Genevieve Corson
The HHS Theater Department will present its fall play, A Little Piece of Heaven, this week in the auditorium.
Juniors and seniors can see the show Thursday morning at 8:15, and freshmen and sophomores can watch an abridged version at 1:45. Public performances will be Thursday and Saturday nights.
Tickets are $5 for the student shows and $7 for the evening shows.
A Little Piece of Heaven tells the story of a restless biker named Michael who forms an unlikely friendship with Lily, an 87-year-old woman, while working in a curiosity shop owned by the middle-aged couple Henry and Elizabeth.
“The shop is where people find objects of great importance to them. It helps them to heal wounds in a way,” explained senior Ryan Brewer, who plays Michael, described by Brewer as a “down on his luck biker with a mysterious past,” in some of the performances (there are different casts for different performances).
“Michael and Lily are in the shop trying to find a piece of themselves,” Brewer continued, choosing his words carefully so as not to give too much of the plot away, “and Henry and Elizabeth are trying to guide them through it.”
The play runs two hours but has been shortened to one hour and three minutes for the second performance ( the 1:45 show) so the underclassmen don’t miss too much class time. The full two-hour play will be presented Thursday morning and again Thursday and Saturday nights.
Brewer and others in the play said they have been putting in at least 23 hours a week to prepare. Senior Tyler Battista, who plays an 85-year-old man named Herb in one of the casts, found his role challenging because of the comedic lines, which he said he doesn’t have much experience with.
Because of the characters’ advanced ages, the parts also involve a lot of makeup, including baby powder sprinkled in their hair to make it look gray. Of course this means that one wrong move can, as Battista joked, send up a big cloud of white powder above their heads.
The play is directed by theater arts teacher Lynn-nore Chittom, who said the young actors are eager to present the play.
“We are looking forward to two fantastic school shows this Thursday and appreciate the administration permitting us to perform for all grades,” Chittom said.
Article by Seth Griffith, Nick Kieser and Kelsey Dotson
Five HHS senior athletes committed to area colleges this week in a Signing Day ceremony.
Austin Lancaster and Meghann Stamps signed with Austin Peay State University for golf. Will Wacaser also signed with Austin Peay, but for baseball. Grant Williams signed with Middle Tennessee State University for baseball. Carleigh Short signed with Lipscomb University for basketball.
The students' families were there to witness the achievement, as well as take pictures afterwards. Several of their peers also watched the ceremony, which was Wednesday during 4th block in the gym lobby.
Article by Kelsey Dotson and Jalen Sands
NOTE: Story updates with quote from Alex Tate and details about tickets and bus trip.
The Commandos travel to Thompson’s Station on Friday (Nov. 13) to take on the undefeated Independence Eagles in the second round of the TSSAA state playoffs.
The Eagles are ranked second in the state and 47th in the nation, according to MaxPreps.com, a national high school sports website. Last week they beat Cane Ridge 49-7 at home. The Commandos beat the same Cane Ridge team 42-25 earlier this season.
"I think it will be a very good game, and we will match up," said senior Alex Tate, who plays linebacker for the Commandos. "Whoever wins this game is a probable state contender."
Hendersonville, 10-1 on the year, would like to have a repeat of last week, when they downed the Shelbyville Golden Eagles 43-20 to open the playoffs. The Commandos ran for 335 yards with four touchdowns, averaging 8.38 yards per carry, and passed for 111 yards on seven completions with one touchdown.
The HHS defense also played well, recording three sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery, and holding Shelbyville off the scoreboard until the second half.
Kickoff for the Independence game is at 7 p.m. The contest also will be broadcast live on WUXP MYTV30.
Tickets to the game are $8 and on sale in the front office until noon Friday.
Students who paid to ride the bus to Independence need to meet in front of the Memorial Garden by the new school entrance. The bus will leave at 4:30 and return around 11.
Article by Seth Griffith and Frankie Small (a member of the HHS football team)
Kyle Pierce, Hendersonville High’s interim School Resource Officer, has only been here a few weeks, but he has already noticed a big difference from his previous post at Madison Creek Elementary.
“In elementary school the kids are like ‘Oh, a police officer, we love him!’ In high school the teens are more like ‘Oh, a police officer, stay away from him!” Pierce told The Ville News recently.
Pierce hopes to ease some of the apprehension toward police fueled by a string of high-profile incidents that include the riots in Ferguson, Mo., and the violent arrest of a 16-year-old South Carolina student who refused to leave her desk.
“Things happen in spells,” said Pierce, a 36-year-old father of two (son, 16, and daughter, 12) who spent more than six years in the military and two years as a patrol officer with the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department before becoming a School Resource Officer last year. “Right now, police officers are not liked.”
He cautioned that with social media and today’s continuous news cycle it is easy to jump to conclusions without having all of the facts. For example, the video of the arrest of the black Columbia, S.C., student by a white School Resource Officer drew a lot of outrage after it went viral last month, yet he said there was a “30- to 40-minute buildup to a 1-minute video” that the public never saw.
“We don’t know everything that happened,” Pierce said, adding that even when police officers do make mistakes or step out of line, their actions shouldn’t tarnish an entire profession.
At HHS, Pierce seeks to build relationships with students and faculty, whether in the halls, at sporting events or in the classrooms as a speaker.
“As an SRO I get to be proactive,” he said. “I get to counteract the public perception that police officers are bad and racist. I don’t get to do that on patrol much.”
CNN reports that 43 percent of all U.S. public schools -- including 63 percent of middle and 64 percent of high schools -- had School Resource Officers on their grounds during the 2013-2014 school year. The officers supervise lunchrooms, coach sports, promote drug and alcohol awareness and offer guidance to teens.
If things go well in his 30-day interim period, Pierce will likely fill the vacancy left by longtime SRO Carl McCoy, who was promoted last month to sergeant in the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department.
While Pierce enjoyed his time at Madison Creek Elementary, he welcomes the chance to work with older students. “There’s only so much you can do at an elementary school,” he said.
Article by Kelsey Dotson, Koy Skinner and Nick Kieser
The Hendersonville High Commandos come into Friday’s home playoff game on fire, winning five of their last six and scoring more than 40 points in their last three games while only allowing 22 total combined points in that same span.
Their opponent in the first round, the Shelbyville Golden Eagles, is also coming in with confidence with a 6-4 record, winners of two of their last three games and scoring 40+ points in those victories.
“Shelbyville will be a tough team to beat,” said HHS running back Terrell Carter. “They have explosive players that can make big plays, and we have to bring our A-game, execute the game plan.”
The Commandos have a three-headed monster at the running back position with Carter, Mike Harris and Jack Towe. Carter is picking up a season average of 7.14 yards per carry and is 35 yards away from a 1,000-yard season. Harris has a 7.16 yards-per-carry average and a total of 659 yards this season, while Towe is averaging 5.43 yards per carry with 315 yards on the year.
“Number one, we have to block,” said running backs Coach Jim Miller. “Number two, hang on to the ball. If we do that, we will be successful as running backs.”
Hendersonville wrapped up its regular season last week with a 45-8 win over the Hunters Lane Warriors. They finished the regular season 9-1, with their only loss coming to the Hillsboro Burros 49-21 in week five.
The Commandos outscored their opponents 343 to 154, with their biggest win a shutout on the road against the Glencliff Colts 45-0.
“I’m proud of the way we’ve played,” said Assistant Coach Kris Bundy. “We have a special group who is really close. If we play the way we’re capable of, we have just as much of a chance as any other team.”
Friday’s game starts at 7 at Memorial Stadium at Paul Decker Field.
Article by Seth Griffith and Frankie Small (a member of the HHS football team)