Many HHS students just received an early Christmas gift from the Sumner County School Board.

Classes with a state-mandated End of Course test will not have a final exam under a new policy approved by the board Tuesday (Dec. 11).

The change, which was announced to HHS staff Wednesday in an email from Principal Bob Cotter, affects students in math, English, and U.S. history this semester.

“In a nutshell, EOC classes will not have an exam, and the EOC will count 15 percent” of students’ final average, Cotter said.

Non-EOC classes will still have a final exam, and it will also count 15 percent of the final average.

The school board “no longer wanted EOC kids to have an exam and an EOC that counted for such a large portion of their final grade while non-EOC classes did not,” Cotter wrote.

So next week, teachers in EOC classes can only give a test over material covered or reviewed after the EOC, and the test will count as a regular test grade instead of as a final exam.

“If you do not teach an EOC class, then the only real change is that the exam will count 15 percent,” Cotter told teachers.

Final exams are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 19 and 20).


Several schools are banning the use of cellphones in class, saying the technology has become more of a hinderance to learning than a help.


And some Sumner County teachers hope the idea catches on here.


“I would completely do away with cellphones,” said French teacher Erin Flannery. “Students can’t follow the rules.”


Indeed, a growing number of educators in the U.S. and around the world are deciding that smartphones and similar mobile devices are a major distraction that can be eliminated now that schools have enough laptop computers for students.


A quick search of news reports reveals several developments:



  • Seymour High School in Connecticut reported higher grades and more focus in the classroom since it instituted a blanket cellphone ban last year, according to an Associated Press story. The school’s principal said the staff also “immediately” noticed a difference in how students interacted with each other in the cafeteria, as well as a jump in productivity. “I’ve had students come to me and say, ‘You know I’ve never gotten so much homework done before,’” Principal Jim Freund said.
  • Many schools in Wisconsin have already banned cellphones or are considering it. Students “are not distracted anymore,” Portage High School Principal Robin Kvalo told Wisconsin Public Radio. “The phones are not their preoccupation. They know they can’t have the phones in the classroom.”
  • Schools in Alabama, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, and other states have followed suit, as have ones in Greece, France, Great Britain, Ireland and Canada. France went as far as to ban cellphones and similar mobile devices nationwide for schoolchildren ages 3 to 15, according to CNN.
  • The British newspaper The Guardian reported a study by the London School of Economics that found student test scores improved by 6.4 percent after mobile phones were banned from school grounds. The study’s authors estimated that the effect of the ban was the “equivalent of adding five days to the school year.”

In Sumner County, individual schools and teachers largely regulate cellphones at their discretion. Some HHS teachers, for instance, don’t allow them to be used at all in their classrooms while others leave it up to students to decide when they should or shouldn’t be on their phones in class.


Messages left with Sumner County schools spokesman Jeremy Johnson were not returned for this story, but HHS Principal Bob Cotter told The Ville News earlier this semester that he didn't expect a cellphone ban in Sumner County.


“If we say absolutely no cellphones, students are going to be in an uproar,” Cotter said. “Parents are going to be in an uproar too because they see cellphones as their emergency contact with their kids if something happens at school.”


HHS Spanish teacher Sarah Wolf thinks trying to ban cellphones is like trying to put “a genie back in a bottle.”


“Cellphones are a part of our lives,” said Wolf, who allows her students a short break during class to get on their phones. “You just have to help guide them to use cellphones responsibly.”


As expected, just the thought of no cellphones in school makes most students cringe.


“Oh my gosh, No!” Sergei Wright, a junior, exclaimed about the prospect of having to leave his phone at home during school.


Story by Kiya Whitlow, Isabella Logue and Brittney Towe

The HHS boys basketball team is 3-3 on the season with its next game tonight (Dec. 7) at Wilson Central. Coach Clancy Hall recently told The Ville News that he is looking for steady effort and improvement from his squad, which includes six seniors, six juniors and two sophomores. "We need to be playing our best basketball in January and February," Hall said. Below are more of the coach's thoughts.


Q: What do you expect for this season?

A: Our team expects to compete in each game by playing as hard as we can each possession.


Q: What changes do you want from last year to this year?

A: We try not to compare our teams year to year due to the fact that personnel changes each season both on our team as well as the teams we play. Our expectation of excellent attitude and effort is the same each season.


Q: How does this team compare to last year's in size?

A: Our point guard position is shorter this year but our younger kids (sophomores and juniors) are taller.


Q: Have you lost many key players from last season?

A: We graduated four seniors - each of them brought valuable attributes to our program and they will be greatly missed.


Q: Have you seen any improvement so far within practices?


A: Our team has improved little by little each practice as well as each game. Our goal will be to continue to improve through the rest of the season. We need to be playing our best basketball in January and February.


Story by Thomas Matchell and Hudson Mortimer



Christmastime is a great time to curl up on the couch with hot chocolate and a favorite holiday movie.

“I love 'The Grinch,’” said agriscience teacher Haley Gates, “but ‘Christmas Vacation’ is my ultimate favorite.”

Ms. Gates is in good company, according to a recent poll by The Ville News.

We asked 42 students to name their favorite holiday movie and received 37 responses (five Grinches grumbled that they didn’t have a favorite or that they didn’t watch Christmas movies).

The winner of the poll wasn’t much of a surprise: “Home Alone” was alone at the top with nine votes.

Below are the other films mentioned along with their vote totals. At least two, “Die Hard” and “Rent,” aren’t really Christmas movies, just set during the season. But we won’t be a Scrooge about it.

  • “The Grinch,” 7
  • “Christmas Vacation,” 7
  • “Elf,” 5
  • “Christmas Story,” 2
  • “Polar Express,” 2
  • “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” 1
  • “A Madea Christmas,” 1
  • “Die Hard,” 1
  • “Rent,” 1
  • “Jingle All the Way,” 1

Story by Brinson Martin and Sloane Wright

HHS senior Presley Eastwood has two tattoos to remember lost loved ones. One is the initials of her cousin, who passed in May, and the other is a saying her grandmother, who passed in September, always said to her.

Presley said the tattoos have helped her with her grief. Asked if she planned to get more, she said, “Yes, they are very addicting.”

Presley is among a growing number of HHS students with tattoos. HHS Nurse Sue Buckberry told The Ville News recently that she has noticed more tattoos and at younger ages.

“I’ve seen kids under 18 have tattoos,” she said. “They just keep getting younger and younger.”

In Tennessee young people under 18 cannot get a tattoo, in most cases. A teen who is at least 16 can be tattooed to cover up an existing tattoo but only with the consent of a parent or guardian, who also must be present during the procedure, according to state law.

Some neighboring states, however, have more lenient laws, and many Tennessee teens get their tattoos there. In Kentucky, for instance, anyone under 18 can get a tattoo with parental consent.

HHS senior Clarye Alderson has four tattoos: a semicolon representing suicide prevention that she got when she was just 16, a hair bow, a Norwegian symbol to always be brave, and a symbol for a car crash. Each has special significance to her.

Clarye thinks tattoos are becoming more popular because they are so meaningful. “It just depends on what you’ve gone through,” she said.

The popularity of tattoos with teens seems to mirror a lager trend among all Americans. Once a symbol of rebellion, tattoos are more accepted than they once were. The Atlantic magazine reported in 2016 that nearly one in five people in the U.S. have one, and they are even more common among Millennials, nearly 40 percent of whom have one.

It is little surprise then that young people are also drawn to them. A 2018 survey by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that 27 percent of parents of teens 16-18 years and 11 percent of parents of teens 13-15 years reported that their child had asked permission to get a tattoo, while 5 percent said that their teen had already gotten one.

HHS senior Elijah Kinsfather has three tattoos: angel wings, three roses honoring his family, and an octopus to represent his childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist. Elijah said he plans on getting many more.

Autumn Bale, also a senior, got her first tattoo when she was 18. She wanted something to mark her for adventure so she picked the symbol that Gandalf the Grey put on Bilbo Baggins’ door from her favorite book “The Hobbit.”

While tattoos can be expressive and stylish, they also can be dangerous. Buckberry, the HHS nurse, said she has had students come in with painful, infected, or sunburned tattoos. The American Academy of Pediatrics has expressed concerns and advises doctors to talk to young patients about safety.

AAP doctor Cora C. Breuner said in a related news release, “When counseling teens, I tell them to do some research and to think hard about why they want a tattoo.”

Even so, tattoos remain popular at HHS, and not just among students. Family and consumer science teacher Gianna Larson has 10 of them, including tattoos of her mother’s handwriting and her children’s initials. She got her first one at 28 and her most recent at 38.

“Tattoos are very addicting but very meaningful,” Larson said.

Story by Bella McBride and Owen McClister

Only 20 of 104 HHS students surveyed recently said they used Juuls or other vaping devices, though 75 admitted that they know someone who puffs the popular e-cigarettes.

Created by health science teacher Paul Good’s third-block class, the electronic survey collected responses from 34 freshmen, 15 sophomores, 34 juniors and 21 seniors. The results were compiled Thursday (Nov. 29).

Eighty-four students said they don’t vape, and 29 said they don’t know anyone who does.

The purpose of the survey was to gauge students’ knowledge of Juuling and other forms of vaping. The survey was taken by phone or other electronic device and required students to enter their email addresses to access it, raising questions about the data’s reliability.

Even Good was a little skeptical of the findings.

“I don’t think we will get back honest answers – unless they live under a rock,” he said the day before the data was compiled.

A lot of attention has been placed on teen vaping and its consequences. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced this year that the issue has reached “epidemic proportions” with more than 2 million middle and high school students regular users of Juuls and other e-cigarettes.

At HHS, one to three students are placed in ISS weekly for the offense, according to Assistant Principal Dr. Ron Sarver.

Story by Corrine Mitchener, Vincent Brown-Flores and Johnny Espinoza

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