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You’ve probably noticed the blue tarp draped over the HHS sign at the Cherokee Road entrance and wondered what’s up.

The sign itself will stay the same, but the grounds around it will be spruced up with new landscaping and other improvements.

“Ever since we had the sign put in, I wanted to do something around it to make it look better,” HHS Principal Bob Cotter told The Ville News.

Before the plants can go in, an irrigation system will be added.

“The reason it’s covered (with the tarp) is because we had dirt brought in, and we don’t want it to wash away with the rain,” Cotter explained. “But as soon as the irrigation is done, we’re going to landscape.”

The landscaping costs about $1,000 and the irrigation about $3,000. 

The project is expected to be finished in the next couple weeks.

By Lillian Woodward, Robyn Sherril and Miranda Heatherly

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The HHS library purchased 300 new books in September and October, with many different genres represented.

Librarian Pamela Hodgeman said the books include fiction, biography, romance, horror, fantasy and science fiction.

The books are either on display or in the cart in front of the circulation desk.

Story by Cynthia Maravilla

 

The HHS Theatre Program put on a sold-out performance of “The Wind in the Willows” for the student body Wednesday (Nov. 20) in the Taylor Swift Auditorium.

Public performances will be 7 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 21, 23 and 24) and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 24). Tickets are $8 at the door.

“The Wind in the Willows” follows the adventures of anthropomorphic animals Mole, Rat, Badger, Toad, and their friends. These characters were played by HHS seniors Carly Martin (Mole), Sara Amis (Rat), Payton Lucas (Badger) and Mackenzie Perger in the lead role of Toad. 

Students who bought a $5 ticket watched the play during 1st block and part of 2nd. 

The audience seemed to find the 90-minute show entertaining.

“My favorite part of the play was the big fight scene,” said senior Helton Porter. “It was really cool especially the Matrix part. It was amazing because I don’t know how you keep your balance.”

Junior Danny Brewington also liked the fight scene. “When the characters were fighting, that was awesome,” he said.

Sophomore William Becker enjoyed the part when Portly Otter was tackled. “That was cool,” Becker said.

It’s a fun-filled play, so don’t miss your chance to see it!

Story by Cailsey Scott & Gabriel Williams

Like many members of the HHS staff, social studies teacher Sam Gossett is on the lookout for vapers – but not for the reason you probably think.

He is offering help and anonymity to students who want to quit vaping or smoking.

“This is a program for kids who want to stop but don’t know how,” Gossett (Room 108) told The Ville News.

He said he can provide strategies to overcome nicotine cravings and to avoid the social/emotional “triggers” that often cause people to vape in the first place.

“My main goal is to just help kids stop doing something that’s bad for them,” Gossett said.

The penalty for vaping at HHS ranges from ISS to OSS and could even result in a court appearance if the offense is serious enough. But Assistant Principal Lisa Jaskot said students can go to Gossett in private and “without fear of getting in trouble.”

Gossett’s reasons for helping are personal.

“My maternal grandmother died of lung cancer when I was growing up, so dealing with a tobacco addiction is something I feel very passionate about,” he shared.

So far, students haven’t come forward, but he wants them to know that his “door is always open, every day, before school or during 3rd block, or even after school.”

There is clearly a need for help. The U.S. Surgeon General has called youth vaping an “epidemic” that could undermine decades of progress in curbing tobacco use among young people.

The Ville News recently interviewed about a dozen vapers to learn the reasons and extent of the problem. The students spoke on condition of anonymity.

The main reason most started was because their friends were doing it. It wasn’t peer pressure, necessarily, just something fun to do with friends.

“I really only vaped for popularity,” one student said. “I don’t even really like doing it.”

But in time, some confided, they felt addicted and have had trouble stopping.

Several said they vape to cope with stress from school, family, work, etc.

“I started vaping because I was stressed,” one said. “I vaped for about two months to help deal with the stress. I'm not addicted though.”

Others also described feeling “relaxed” when they vape.

“It calms me down,” one said.

The final reason students said they vaped was to wean themselves from cigarettes, chewing tobacco or marijuana. Right or wrong, they view vaping as a safer alternative with fewer legal risks.

“I started so I would get off of smoking,” one explained. “I only smoked because my life has been really hard and I needed to cope. I was extremely addicted to smoking and vaping helped me get off cigarettes.” 

Regardless of the reasons, Gossett thinks he can help. And with nothing to lose, students would seem wise to accept his offer.

Story by Corrine Mitchener and Zach Pearson

The Commandos will likely have their hands full with Blackman’s high-powered offense in tonight’s (Nov. 15) second-round matchup of the state football playoffs.

The game is at home with kickoff at 7. The winner will advance in the playoffs while the loser will be done for the season.

“Blackman is a great team,” Assistant Coach Donald LaFleur told The Ville News this week. “They have athletes all over the field and will come prepared for us just like we’re going to be prepared for them.”

LaFleur said the Blaze (7-4 overall, 6-1 in the district) is particularly dangerous on offense with several weapons.

“They can score any time the ball is kicked to them,” he said. “Their running back is going to be extremely difficult for us to tackle if we don’t do our jobs.”

The Commandos (6-5 overall, 4-1 in the district) advanced to this round with a 59-42 victory over Cookeville last week.

LaFleur said the team has been playing its best ball of the season.

Their secret?

“Team unity,” LaFleur said, “sacrificing ego for humility and not being concerned with who gets their name in the paper. Right now, they’re just trying to win at all costs when it comes to taking on their job on the team.

“It’s nice to see that unity opposed to six or seven really good alpha-type football players who are centered around themselves,” the coach continued. “Hendersonville is centered around Hendersonville, and this team doing well.”

Tonight’s game will be another cold one with temperatures dipping to 27 degrees, so be sure to bundle up.

Story by Corrine Mitchener and Zach Pearson

Commando basketball begins Tuesday (Nov. 19) with a home game against Pearl Cohn. The team has been preparing for the season since summer. The Ville News recently spoke with Head Coach Clancy Hall about his expectations for the boys’ varsity squad. His edited remarks are below.

 

Q: What was the team’s record last year?

A: We were 15-16, but of our 16 losses last year, 12 of them were by 4 points or less. 

Q: Who will be your biggest rivals?

A: In terms of intensity it would probably be Beech (games Jan. 21 and Feb. 14), but all the teams around us are good rivals - Beech, Station Camp, Gallatin. Our whole district has good programs, but all three of those games are big games for us. 

 

Q: What changes do you plan to make from last season?

A: Last year we had only two to three guys who took the bulk of our shots offensively. This year we will have a lot more kids who can contribute in terms of it’ll be more spread around. But the main focus this year is that we are wanting to get better at finishing games in the fourth quarter. So, we really need to focus on learning how to win in the end of games, that is one of the main things that we want to change and we need to do that by putting more of an emphasis on defense, getting stops in the fourth quarter.

 

Story by Miranda Heatherly, Robyn Sherrill and Lillian Woodward

Social studies teacher Amanda Elmore estimates she throws away nearly a trash can full of paper each week. Math teacher Lesley Fisher says she probably tosses out what amounts to a 100-page spiral notebook every week, and that’s after trying to reuse every piece she can.

 

Elmore and Fisher aren’t excessive in the amount of paper they use in their classrooms; some teachers use much more. But there isn’t much they can do about it because HHS doesn’t have a recycling program.

 

That wasn’t always the case. As recently as five years ago, teachers could request a blue plastic recycling bin for their rooms. Students would collect the bins and dump them into an outside container that was then emptied by a recycling company every two or three weeks.

 

The program recycled 600 to 800 pounds of paper a year and earned about $50 for the school.

 

But then something happened. As often occurs, a few people ruined things for everyone.

 

“We couldn’t keep the trash out of the recycling bins, and then the recycling company just didn’t want to come get them because there was trash,” explained Principal Bob Cotter. “So, it was more of a headache for us than it was a benefit.”

 

Even now, Cotter said, the outside trash dumpsters end up with all kinds of stuff in them that shouldn’t be there.

 

“We have people come up now and we’re not sure what we’re going to find in these dumpsters. I’ve found mattresses and all kinds of furniture in them,” Cotter said. “People just come and throw stuff away, no matter whether it was a green recycling dumpster or a regular old trash bin.”

 

Elmore and Fisher would like to see recycling brought back to HHS because it benefits the environment.

 

Ditto for criminal justice teachers Regan Cothron and Tabitha Fitzwilson, who feel strongly enough about it that they have started a mini-recycling effort in their classrooms.

 

“I have my own recycling bin, so that way I can take it and recycle it later,” Fitzwilson said. “I even recycle at home. We have more recycling than trash.”

 

Story by Emersyn Dyer and Kayla Battista

 

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