Summer jobs, summer vacations, summer tans … HHS students and teachers have big plans for summer.
“Summer break is the best part of the year – no school, no worries, and I can sleep in and do whatever I want,” remarked freshman Jayden Boyles.
Sophomore Gracie Croyle says she will be on the lake a lot with friends and will probably squeeze in a trip to the beach.
Sydney Irons, a junior, will also be on the road. “I’m going to this cheer camp at Ole Miss, and I’m going to California and to Gatlinburg,” she said.
Others have obligations closer to home. Visual arts teacher Lisa Chreene usually works a part-time job in the summer. Algebra teacher Christopher Imber spends the time with his family.
Some students have to skip summer break altogether, or at least a part of it.
“I honestly thought I was going to have to go to summer school this year, but thankfully I as able to pull my grades up just in time,” said junior Cameron Berkers.
Not everyone was as fortunate, though. Several students will be in the Edgenuity Lab making up lost credits.
Whatever you have planned for the summer, computer teacher Jeffrey Jones offers this advice: “Summer blows by quick, enjoy it while you can.”
Story by Eja Hollis, Ava Kobus and Lesley Parrotta
Rising senior Isabella Patterson was elected student body president last week, while classmate Georgia Perry was chosen vice-president.
HHS students also elected upcoming seniors Lucy Sims for secretary and Ashley Whobrey for treasurer.
Students voted for class officers as well with the winners below. Freshmen officers will be selected in the fall.
Story by Kennedy Payne, Ava Craddock, Eja Hollis
The 2019 HHS graduation was Friday (May 17) with 361 students receiving diplomas.
Three hundred ten students – 86 percent of the class – will attend college or trade school, according to the school guidance office.
Fifty-five percent will utilize the Hope Scholarship, while 25 percent will take advantage of Tennessee Promise, the office reports.
The total scholarship amount offered to HHS students is $4.2 million.
Nine students from the Class of 2019 will enter the military.
Story by Kennedy Payne and Eja Hollis
Juuling has been an ongoing problem at HHS - and at most other high schools in America - and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
“We’re doing about all we can,” School Resource Officer Joseph Hutcherson told The Ville News recently. “The only way to really 100 percent stop it would be to pull teachers out of the classrooms during each break and place them throughout the school in their own assigned restrooms and hallways, but of course that isn’t going to happen.”
Beth Brody, who overseas detentions and suspensions, said 13 students received in-school suspension for Juuling this semester, while two repeat offenders were given out-of-school suspension.
But the SRO said those numbers barely scratch the surface.
“In my time here, we have only caught a few, but there is guaranteed four times that many or more that are doing it and getting away with it,” Hutcherson said.
Indeed, in at least one boys’ bathroom, it seems students don’t even bother to go in a stall anymore to puff on the electronic cigarettes, instead openly using the vaping devices for anyone to see.
An informal check of girls’ bathrooms last week during second block revealed at least five students Juuling.
Even if teachers were assigned hall and bathroom duty, Hucherson said, students would still find a way to vape (the devices are small and often odorless).
“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said.
Sumner County high school principals are responding with tougher penalties. Beginning next school year, students caught using Juuls or other electronic smoking devices on campus will receive immediate out-of-school suspension.
“I think we really are doing about all we can,” Hutcherson said.
Story by Savannah Vaughn and Savanah Williamson
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the arrival of hot days sets “the mad blood stirring” and stokes violence between the Montagues and Capulets.
The shift to warmer weather also appears to set HHS students on edge. Eight of the 14 out-of-school suspensions for fighting this school year occurred during the spring semester, according to school records obtained by The Ville News.
“In warm weather it seems like we have more fights,” said School Resource Officer Joseph Hutcherson, who spent 24 years as a police officer before becoming an SRO this school year. “It was the same way when I was working the road. Warm weather you have more troubles.”
As recently as last week, two girls got into a fight in the old front lobby and had to be separated by an administrator.
School officials have developed strategies for dealing with fights. Hutcherson said the best method is to try to stop them before they start, usually by reading students’ body language.
“In my line of work, you're trained to do that,” Hutcherson explained. “As soon as you come on the scene, as soon as you’re on the traffic stop, you read someone’s body language and determine whether this person is going to fight you or whether he is going to comply and be nice and be on his merry way.”
The first-year SRO added that, “I was shocked to see that most principals, assistant principals are either trained to do it or have learned to do it over the years.”
Assistant Principal Thomas Oglesby is particularly good at picking up on these non-verbal cues, according to Hutcherson.
“I’ve noticed Mr. Oglesby will do this quite a bit - if he sees a student walking in the hallway that appears mad, agitated, or depressed, I’ve always seen him stop (the student and talk with him or her), and I’ve tried to do the exact same thing.”
Hutcherson and Oglesby estimate that they have prevented “countless” confrontations this way.
Oglesby thinks many of of the fights at HHS begin with comments posted on social media.
“I think a lot of people make comments on social media that they normally would not make face-to-face. And I think that stirs some emotions,” Oglesby said.
“However,” he continued, “I feel like anytime you have a school of this size with many diverse cultures, different people, you are going to have some issues and I think that we’re tasked with trying to teach young people how to deal with those issues in a more appropriate way.”
Hutcherson has some advice for students thinking about dealing with their anger by fighting, which carries a penalty of automatic out-of-school suspension.
“It’s not worth it. You’re going to get in trouble,” he said. “The best bet if you’re having issues with someone and you are unable to solve it yourself, come talk to me, come talk to one of the principals. Nine times out of 10 we can get it resolved. A lot of times it’s just a simple miscommunication issue.”
Story by Ava Heeren and Mandy Pirtle
No matter how dedicated they are, most students miss a day of school every now and then because of illness or family commitment.
Not Emma McDaniel. The HHS senior was recognized Friday (May 10) for 13 years of perfect attendance.
“It feels really cool,” she said afterward. “In the beginning, like middle school and freshman year, I was like, ‘Oh I don’t really care about this,’ but then as I made it farther and farther, I just thought how cool that accomplishment would be. Not many people do it.”
Only one other HHS graduate in recent memory, in fact.
Principal Bob Cotter, who presented Emma with the attendance award, said the accomplishment says a lot about her.
“Obviously, it shows that Emma is dedicated to her studies and has a really strong work ethic because, you know, part of work ethic is powering through whatever you’re doing,” he told The Ville News. “And it shows other people who you are as a person.”
So, what is Emma’s secret?
“I never really get sick, like I really don’t,” she said. “I’m super healthy … so it never really became an issue.”
That doesn’t mean she was never tempted, though.
“On days where my friends wouldn’t be there, I would be like ’Oh, it’s not fair they get to miss school,’” she recalled, “and then I’d realize” how great an achievement it would be to finish with perfect attendance.
Once, Emma hurt her shoulder in cheerleading and had to wear a sling. She could have missed a day or two and no one would have thought any less of her, but she didn’t. She still came to school, still went to cheer practice, still helped her teammates from the sideline.
“Emma is a hard worker and dedicated,” said cheerleading coach and English teacher Harlie Fuqua. “She wants to do her very best and then she wants to do better than that the next day. That’s just who she is. If she got hurt, she would still push through if she thought that was what's best for the team.”
Next fall, when Emma attends the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she’ll have to find her way around campus like any other freshman, but no one should ever have to worry about her finding her way to class.
Story by Nikki Pomohaci and Alfred Allen
Many have a story about their most memorable Christmas gift. HHS teacher Brandy McCarter has one to beat all.
This past Christmas her husband gave her a home ancestry DNA kit from the company 23andMe. He knew that her curiosity about her birth father had been building for years.
“At the age of 12 or so I figured out that my biological dad wasn’t correct on my birth certificate,” she told The Ville News recently.
She received her gift early, on Nov. 28 - Black Friday - and was so excited about the possibility of finding her biological father that she took the simple home test that day.
The results arrived Dec. 28, and she was stunned. She discovered 1,068 new relatives, including her dad’s first cousin. She started digging and got in touch with the first cousin, who in turn got in touch with her father.
He took a DNA test of his own, and the results came back on Valentine’s Day: a perfect match.
“The week after (Valentine’s Day), we arranged to drive to see them, they live in another state, so we went and I got to meet my dad, my grandma, my aunt,” said McCarter, who teaches architectural and engineering design.
When she made the discovery, she recalls crying from the shock of finally finding her dad after 25 years of wondering.
“I knew that my mom got pregnant with me in the military,” she explained. “She was in bootcamp, and she was in Florida and then she was sent to Hawaii, so I knew that he was in Florida and in the military at that certain time.”
So many things about the experience are overwhelming, but she is struck that she is his only child. She also imagines what this all must be like for him.
“He has had no other children this entire time and thought he had no children at all, and then 37 years later here you have a kid, a grandchild, an entire family you knew nothing about,” she said of her father, who is now 56-years-old.
Even though she lives in a different state, McCarter intends to maintain a close relationship with her dad and with the rest of her new family. She is working out details now for another visit.
“It’s not that rare, I’m not the only one that this has happened to,” she said. “You see stories all the time on Facebook and on the news and everything about people finding an entire family, and so even if there isn’t any luck on the first hit, don’t give up because other people can be added to that database and can show up as your relatives later.”
Next Christmas, McCarter probably won’t receive as memorable a gift, but she’ll have a whole lot more people to celebrate with.
Story by Ava Heeren and Mandy Pirtle