Despite this week’s frigid temperatures, a sure sign of spring is upon us: The HHS boys’ soccer season is about to begin with the first game at home against Father Ryan on March 12.
Coach Russ Plummer and senior players Camron O’Reilly and Max Cooper recently spoke to The Ville News. Coming off a 14-8-1 season, the three are optimistic about the new year. Their edited remarks are below.
Q What motivates you each season?
Camron: Getting to play with my friends; like me and Max have been friends for four years now. Seeing the guys get out there and just do something they love to do. Oh, and winning! Winning is definitely a motivator.
Max: Just playing for our school, that’s always fun. Seeing everybody come out makes it worth it, and I just love playing.
Q How would you compare this year’s team to last year’s?
Max: We’ve lost some players, but not really that many, and I feel like some of the younger kids have really grown. They’ve gotten much better than they were last year. I think we’ve got a really good shot this year.
Camron: Coach was talking to us in the locker room, telling us that each year the team is different, and he’s definitely right about that. Guys have matured this year; the juniors and sophomores have matured. Then our freshmen coming in always change it up.
Q.How many upperclassmen do you have this season?
Max and Camron: Five seniors and 16 juniors. The rest are freshmen and sophomores.
Q. Who is your top rival?
Camron: The one to beat is always Station Camp.
Max: They are back-to-back state champions right now, and I think our record with them is very negative right now, like in the last couple of years. It just always feels good to beat them. We beat them last year for the regional finals and it was awesome.
Q. Coach, what do you think of the effort the players have put in so far?
Coach Plummer: I’m the type of person that if you’ve known me for a long time, you’re going to put in effort. The people that don’t put in effort, they don’t stick around much. It’s not a mean or negative thing because we go back to those demands, it’s just we expect a lot. There are high expectations, there are things you’ve got to do.
Q. How close are the players on the soccer team?
Camron: Close, like a family.
Max: We do everything together. Every year, for the underclassmen that can’t drive, the older guys take them to practice. You always get closer when you take someone everywhere.
Q. Are you happy with student turnout at your games?
Coach Plummer: I think you’d always like to see more. We have a very nice facility at the park, but because we’re at the park, sometimes we don’t get the crowd we would if we were playing right here at the school. A long time ago we used to play on the football field and that was a great environment because our crowds were much bigger. Softball plays at the park, baseball plays at the park, tennis is at the park. They’re good facilities at the park, but sometimes we don’t get the environment that we want. But when it’s a big game the school does a great job supporting us.
Q. Coach, you’ve had a long and successful career (Plummer is in his 32nd year and has more than 800 victories and three state championships – 1989, 1998, 2010). Can we expect you to be at HHS another 32 years?
Coach Plummer: I want to do it as long as the program is being successful. I don’t really have a timetable. I don’t want to be called into the principal’s office and they say ‘Coach, I think you need to do something else.’ I want to make that call when the time is right, but I couldn’t tell you when that time will be.
Q. What made you want to become a coach?
Coach Plummer: It would be my high school and my college coach. Fortunately, I had a great high school mentor. He was the middle school coach when I was in middle school and he moved up to the high school when I moved up to high school, and I’ve known him for a long time. Because of the impact that he had in my life, I thought it would be nice to help impact other people's lives as well.
(Coach Plummer also credits his father and his coach at Indiana University for being influential). In college, I wasn’t good enough to play soccer, but I knew I wanted to be involved. I was around the players and coaches every day as a student manager. I could have gone to a smaller college and played, but my experiences at Indiana prepared me much better to be a coach and lead the program at HHS.
Q. How does soccer help prepare students for challenges off the field?
Max: It’s really all about your mentality going into it. You’ve got to have a good attitude because doing stuff you don’t want to do is a big part of it. You don’t always get to do what you want.
Camron: You’ve got to work well with your teammates, and that helps to prepare you for later on when you have to work well with others. You also have to communicate on the field, like you do in the workplace.
Story by The Ville News staff
The Pennies for Patients fundraising drive collected about $2,504 for cancer patients – $1,000 more than last year, agricultural teacher Amy Garrison said in a faculty email Thursday (Feb. 28).
“Every single cent counts, and each of you who participated and encouraged your class were instrumental in our effort,” wrote Garrison, who oversaw the two-week drive, which ended Wednesday. “Although we did not quite reach our lofty goal of $3,000, we still exceeded last year.”
Pennies for Patients is a national effort by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. According to the organization’s website, the program “connects schools with local blood cancer patients, provides tangible life skills to participants, and allows students to see the impact they’re making in the lives of others.”
HHS teachers received cardboard collection boxes for their rooms and encouraged their second-block students to donate.
Architectural and engineering design teacher Brandy McCarter’s class collected the most money, a whopping $775. The students will receive an Olive Garden meal as a reward for their generosity.
Other top classes were led by teachers Steve Stephens, $424; Emily Barker, $112; Shauna Beach, $99; and Stephanie Highsmith, $87. Their classes all will receive a pizza lunch.
Story by Alfred Allen
The HHS talent show was a hit with students Thursday (Feb. 28).
The show featured 16 acts and included singing, dancing, comedy, and even a whistled rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“It was exciting to perform for the school,” said Keaton Wilson, who danced with fellow senior Damion Chandler.
The talent show was organized by teachers Christy Brown and Lisa Baugh.
Story by Ava Craddock and Kennedy Payne
The HHS hockey team enters the next round of the state championship playoffs tonight (Feb. 20) after beating Mount Juliet 10-1 last week.
Forward Shane Pearson said the team is on a roll and confident heading into its matchup with Father Ryan at 8:40 p.m. at the Centennial Sportsplex. If HHS wins, it will advance to the semi-championships of the Predators Cup.
“Once we beat MBA (two weeks ago) it felt like nothing could stop us,” said Pearson, a freshman. “But we’ve got to stay on our game if we want to repeat that success.
“Our game strategy, generally speaking, is to be physical, put shots on net, finish our checks, and to give 100 percent,” Pearson said.
Coach Tim Rathert said the team needs to execute and to stay disciplined and committed to defense against Father Ryan.
The coach also said the players are “looking forward to finishing strong and giving their best to bring home the Preds Cup. We have 13 seniors and they really want to finish what they started.”
This year’s team has already accomplished a lot. After 18 years of trying, Rathert and his club finally got the pleasure of raising the GNASH (Greater Nashville Area Scholastic) Cup earlier this month. It was the first time the team has won the cup, which goes to the top high school team the Nashville area.
“It was awesome,” Rathert said of the accomplishment. “We have been so close so many times, and we have a great group of young men and women and it was great to see them accomplish one of the goals they set at the season.”
Story by Corrine Mitchener
The hockey team will play its most important game yet when it faces Mr. Juliet on Wednesday (Feb. 13) in the Predators Cup state competition.
The winner of the 6:30 p.m. game at Ford Ice Center in Nashville will move a step closer to a state championship.
The team advanced to the Predators Cup last week after it defeated Montgomery Bell Academy 4-3 to win the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey (GNASH) Cup. It was the first time in team history that it has won the cup, which goes to the top high school team in the Nashville area.
“It was really exciting,” said senior defenseman Jaxon Rathert, whose father, Tim Rathert, is the team’s coach. “We haven’t been to the finals in a long time. To win was even better.”
The hockey team consists of 23 players from Hendersonville, Station Camp, Beech and Merrol Hyde high schools.
This year’s squad has 16 wins, one loss and one tie. Jaxon Rathert said this team is deeper and better conditioned than in past years.
“We can play a lot further into the games instead of getting tired in the first or second period,” he said.
The Predators Cup is sponsored by the Nashville Predators professional hockey team. More than 25 teams from Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville compete in independent league play from October to February for seeding placement in the competition. The overall winner will be decided in March.
Story by Ava Heeren and Mandy Pirtle
As a youngster, Deputy Joseph B. Hutcherson didn't have to think much about what he wanted to be when he grew up. His father was a police officer and his uncle, too; police work was the family business. “From birth, I was raised to be a police officer,” Hutcherson, HHS' new School Resource Officer, told The Ville News recently. “Everything I was taught was to end up in this field.”
He started with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department in 1995 and soon moved to the Sumner County Sheriff's Department, where he has worked for 22 years. He's been a patrol officer, field training officer, traffic crash reconstructionist and - his favorite position so far - a motorcycle officer.
Hutcherson spoke to The Ville News last week about his latest assignment at HHS. His edited remarks are below.
Q. Why did you decide to become an SRO?
A. I just wanted a change. I have been a police officer for 24 years, and I just wanted something different.
Q. What is the biggest difference between this job and your other positions?
A. When you go to a call as a patrol officer, everything is out of control. People are mad and cussing. Here, I like the atmosphere. Every morning I come in and ya’ll are happy, ya’ll are excited - maybe not to go to class, but excited to see each other, to socialize with each other. I love it. I hope I get to stay.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish as SRO?
A. The main thing is I just want to be approachable. I want people to feel comfortable when they talk to me and not think I am just a cop. I want to help people when they ask questions and need help.
Hopefully, students will realize that we’re (police officers) not all (jerks). The outlook on law enforcement in today’s times is not good. A lot of it is our fault, but I hope to change that. (Deputy Hutcherson also places some blame for a negative perception of police officers on social media, which he said can mislead by showing only a small portion of what actually happened in a situation).
Q. How will you handle disciplinary issues at school, things such as vaping, drugs and fighting?
A. By charging them - every time. I guarantee that if you do it, I will charge you. I would charge my own kids (he is the father of four) if I saw them doing something like that. So I’m not going to say, ‘No, it’s okay, I know you, just don’t do it again.’ The rules are there for your safety.
Q. With everything you’ve seen during your years in law enforcement, would you encourage young people to pursue it as a career?
A. Absolutely. I hope someone in this class goes into this field. We need good people. We need officers. I love my career, it’s given me all types of opportunities. The sky’s the limit. You don’t have to be just local law enforcement, you can be federal, you can go into the military. It’s endless the possibilities you can do. You won’t make a lot of money, but if you like helping people, if you like making a difference, if you like seeing the after-effect of what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished, then law enforcement is definitely a place that you should consider.
Q. What are your interests outside of work?
A. I enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking, baseball, motorcycles (his favorite bike is a Harley-Davidson Road King) and spending time with my family.
Story by The Ville News staff
It didn’t take long for freshman Cindy Jaramillo to realize that life at HHS was going to be far different from the public charter school she’d attended in Nashville.
That school’s student body was 95 percent minority, much of it Hispanic.
“I kind of felt lonely and left out,” Cindy, who is Mexican and a native speaker, said of her first semester at HHS. “I’m not sure what type of people I should hang out with.”
Cindy’s experience is increasingly common. Though still mostly white, HHS is seeing more and more minority students.
The student body went from 2 percent minority in 1988 to 16 percent in 2016, the most recent year for which demographic figures were available from the website SchoolDigger.com.
By one estimate, the minority breakdown of HHS’ 1,500 students this school year is about 10 percent African-American, 5 percent Hispanic and 4 percent Asian or other (Native American, Pacific Islander, etc.), which puts the current minority population at around 19 percent.
The growth in Hispanic students is particularly striking, and sudden. Almost overnight, it seems, the busy hallways include pockets of kids conversing in Spanish.
“In a given semester I’d usually have one or two students who were native speakers in Spanish I that I would encourage to take upper level” classes, said Spanish teacher Jessica de Araujo Jorge. “Now, in a semester, I will have five to 10 in a class.”
Jorge offers a unique perspective. Not only has she taught at HHS for 14 years, she also graduated from the school in 2000.
“When I graduated, I might have graduated with about five or six kids that weren’t Caucasian (white),” she recalled.
As the population has changed at HHS and across the nation, so have people's attitudes nationwide.
“We’ve seen progress,” Jorge said. “People are more diverse and have been embracing diversity, but then you have small groups of people saying ‘Oh no, I don’t like this. I want to go back to the way things were.’”
The trend toward diversity is expected to continue as Middle Tennessee undergoes rapid growth, with the Nashville metropolitan area gaining about 100 people a day, according to U.S. Census figures.
Marci Butler, one of 25 teachers in Sumner County who works with students with limited English language skills, said the demand for the services she and the other ELL (English Language Learners) teachers provide is on the rise.
“Just this past fall we had to add three more teachers and are expecting to add two next year as well,” said Butler, who covers both HHS and Station Camp High.
She has a caseload of 22 students, all but eight of them at HHS.
“The language barrier can definitely make for some challenges,” Butler said. “Classes like chemistry, biology, and English it seems are most difficult. The content is hard and then adding another language … you can imagine. Classes like math where numbers are universal seem to be easier.”
This semester, Butler began a Commando Time class that helps her focus more attention on ELL students and their academic needs.
But academic needs might be easier met than social needs. While HHS has responded to the diversity with offerings like Spanish Club, Hispanic Honors Society, and the School Climate Leadership Team, some say the school can do more.
“I think the school should put more emphasis on celebrating the different cultures present at HHS,” said senior Adrian Selva, treasurer of the Spanish Club.
“Ideas for promoting diversity at our school could be maybe doing clubs for more ethnicities like Asians, African-Americans, or maybe even just a club that could be about all different ethnic backgrounds learning about each other,” Selva said. “I think that would be pretty cool.”
Some high schools offer “culture weeks” or “diversity weeks” where students dress to highlight their ethnicity or showcase ethnic foods, music and games during lunch.
HHS Principal Bob Cotter said he is open to discussions about school climate. "If there is something students would like to propose, then they just need to come sit down and talk with me about their vision."
Jorge said meaningful change takes time, at HHS and across the country.
“People who are uncomfortable will have to speak out until change happens because many people want things to stay the same,” she said. “Real change is slow.”
Story by Yvette Vargas