The HHS Agricultural Department jumps into spring with its annual Greenhouse Sale. The Open House Preview is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 1 with the official sale starting April 10. However, students and faculty can stop by teacher Hailey Gates' room in the AG hall to purchase plants as soon as Friday (March 26). The sale will continue until all plants are sold, Gates said, but once they are gone they are gone for the year. With colorful blooms and reasonable prices, anyone can take home a plant friend!
Story and photos by Victoria Petersen
The HHS Theater Department is not letting COVID stop its production of The Addams Family; everyone involved is spending their time making sure it is both COVID-friendly and still fun for the students.
“Where normally we’d see 520 people, we’re limited to 185,” fine arts teacher Carole Everson said of restrictions on seating.
Attendees of the play will be asked to sit near family during the show to maintain social distancing.
Thursday (March 25) was to be opening night, but the premiere was moved to Friday because of severe weather. The other shows are keeping their original schedule on the 27th and 28th. The first two shows will be at 7 p.m. and the 28th show will be at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.
The cast has worked hard to pull everything together, especially since they had to deal with COVID restrictions. Due to limited ticket sales, funds are low; they’ve had to work around some complications in order to get everything done.
Freshman Madison Hickey, Pugsley’s understudy, said, “We’ve had to pull in parents that work in certain fields to make stuff for us, instead of just ordering it from some other place.” Her own father did the playbills and the posters for the show.
The cast members aren’t the only ones who are working hard, though: the stage crew has spent lots of time trying to get the sets together before the show dates. Due to budget cuts, they’ve had to modify past set pieces to make them fit.
Senior Emily Smith, the light tech, stated that “the past two musicals, ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ and ‘Mary Poppins,’ were very set-heavy, so we had a lot of different pieces.”
Because of the COVID restrictions, the production team had to get creative and use set pieces from the last two musicals to craft the pieces for The Addams Family.
Cast members' parents and connections were such a huge help with making these sets happen. They helped build sets or created the costumes. As horrible as COVID is, these people were brought together in this difficult time.
Story by Emma Yarbrough and Sophie Bolen
A senior Junior Officer Training Corps cadet is helping to fix up the Hendersonville High School JROTC compound as part of his Eagle Scouts Project.
Darryl Smith Jr. is a senior cadet in the HHS JROTC as well as an Eagle Scout with the local Boy Scouts. As a part of Eagle Scouts, Smith Jr. had to plan and execute a project of his choosing. He chose to use his project to help fix a few things around the JROTC compound with the help of his parents and other JROTC volunteers.
The work has been ongoing and is expected to be completed next month (April).
Darryl’s father, Darryl Smith Sr., was willing to make a comment on all the work that they are trying to accomplish.
“This whole wall was very beat up and had holes in it. We redid this whole wall. Outside we have made new pullup bars, as well as refurbish the old pullup bars for safety, useability and durability,” Darryl Smith Sr. explained.
“We are also re-landscaping around the memorial,” he said. “We are putting a sign up on the front of the compound, that will have the Hendersonville High School H, MCJROTC and the Marine Corps symbol. We’re also going to clean the grounds around the compound, like clean the wall outside the back bays of the compound.”
Lt. Col Jeffrey Stone, senior Marine instructor of the HHS JROTC, was glad to provide his side of the project. He commented on how these renovations and general upkeep will help better the overall atmosphere of the compound and bring up the morale of the cadets who work in the compound.
Lt. Col Stone also expressed how accommodating Darryl has been when it came to working around the set schedule of the program and making sure that everything is done to the JROTC program’s standards.
Much of this project was made possible by the hard work of JROTC volunteers and donations by 84 Lumber, Home Depot and Holy Cow Soil.
Darryl Smith Jr. said that “ 84 Lumbar gave us most of the wood, Home Depot gave us the 4 by 4’s that we needed, and then the place that gave us this wood, Holy Cow Soils, they gave us all this at cost, all of this was about 50 bucks.”
Story by Victoria Petersen and Michelle Khoury
HHS will participate in this year’s 13th Annual Middle Tennessee Regional Student Art Exhibition, which began Monday (March 22) and runs through April 9.
Sixteen pieces of artwork from HHS students were selected to be displayed during the event, which is a professional juried exhibition that extends to 26 Middle Tennessee visual art programs.
According to host Lipscomb University, the exhibit will be showcasing, “exceptional middle and high school artwork from around the region.”
Artwork of the following categories will be shown: Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Mixed Media, Ceramics, Sculpture, Computer Graphics, Photography and Video/DVD Production.
HHS artwork from all categories except for Video/DVD were included in the 16 selected pieces.
HHS will also be having its own art show during the last week of April and will be participating in the county-wide art show at Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center beginning April 9.
Story by Ricki Heardt
March Madness is back after being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, and some HHS students and teachers are thrilled.
“It is one of the best sporting events in the world,” said junior Alex Mathis. “It is a bunch of college athletes coming together to compete. It is one round elimination. That is what makes it so exciting. It’s not like the NBA where you have a seven-game series.”
Mathis likes Baylor to win it all because he says the team is “athletic and fast.”
Bradley Parsons, also a junior, thinks Loyola-Chicago will win because “their defense is so good.”
HHS basketball coach Clancy Hall said, “It’s going to be hard to bet on someone that’s not Gonzaga or Baylor.”
March Madness started back in 1939. This year’s event, which runs into the beginning of April, is in Indiana at Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium.
Story by Jack Wells and Brett Means
Keeping a large school like HHS running smoothly is a tough enough job in the best of times; toss in a worldwide pandemic and the task seems next to impossible.
“I can tell you that this has been the most challenging” of my 28 years in education, Principal Bob Cotter said in a March 3 interview with The Ville News. “I mean, literally, all summer we would write plans, we would make plans for how we would want to open the school. We would have Zoom meetings with Dr. Phillips and he would lay out information. There were times that we would write stuff and by the afternoon we were (rewriting) because new information was coming in.”
Despite the difficulties, Cotter sounded upbeat in the nearly one hour interview. He said he is looking forward to a fairly “normal” end to this school year and to an even more routine start to next year.
The questions and his edited responses are below:
With the school being so big, how has that complicated the COVID-19 situation?
Sheer numbers, you know. When you've got almost sixteen-hundred kids, it’s just a matter of, well, how do you try to social distance, how do you manage movement in the hall and that sort of thing. It’s just difficult. When we were in hybrid we probably had the ability to do as good of a job as any other time because only half of you were here. I think Sumner County Schools did a good job trying to lead us administrators, putting protocols in place at the start of the school year.
Do you personally agree with students attending school full-time, or would you rather us be in hybrid?
I’m happy with full time. I think you all need to be here together. Hybrid was a good answer to get face-to-face time, but it’s certainly not as good as being here every day with your peers and teachers. Having that ability to be face to face with each other -- I still think it’s better.
Do you believe our school has taken COVID-19 precautions correctly?
Yes, I think we have done everything we can to encourage people to do the right thing. I don't know that anyone wants to deal with putting people in ISS and calling parents and doing all that stuff because we can’t get someone in a mask. At the same time, I don't want to look at you and say, "Hey, you need to put a mask on" if you have a medical condition, which is no one’s business. So the decision was made pretty early on that we would do basically what the governor is doing -- try to put out as much information as we can and encourage everybody to do what is the right thing.
Do you expect us to stay full-time or do you think we may go back to hybrid?
The trend right now is that we should be able to stay in school full time, based on the numbers that are used to determine that. The re-entry plan said that from 0 to 0.5 percent community spread we would be in school full-time, 0.5 to 0.99 we’d be in hybrid, and over 1.0 we’d be complete virtual. Right now, we’re down about 0.1, so we’re well within the range of being able to stay in school full-time. If that trend continues, we’ll be able to stay in school. I think Spring Break is going to be a big indicator. Every time we’ve had a surge it’s been around holidays where people get together and travel in big groups. So I think Spring Break is going to be very telling as to whether we get another one of those surges or not.
How do you expect graduation to run this year?
As of right now, I expect to go back to a normal graduation like we’ve always had - outside so long as the weather is good. Everyone that wants to can come.
How about prom? Will it also be back to normal this year?
We decided we would take prom to Bagsby Ranch. People had been asking for years “Can we go off campus, can we go off campus?” Well, the opportunity presents itself to do something different this year, so prom for the first time in many, many years is going to be off campus at Bagsby Ranch.
You said you expect prom to be fairly normal. Will that include allowing students to bring dates from other schools?
Yes, but there is always paperwork. There is always a form for you to fill out in order to bring a guest from other schools.
Will masks be required for prom?
I don’t know yet. Dr Philips will hopefully give us some answers on that. I think it will rely on if we have a spike after Spring Break.
Will we have Black and Gold Day?
Yes. If we need to have the pep rally outside, we will have it outside.
Is there anything from COVID 19 that you have learned about running the school that you plan to keep after COVID?
One thing we all agree on as administrators is the setup in the morning in the gym. Everyone has to come in and either be at breakfast or in the gym because it is much easier to manage than people being all over the building.
Did you ever think about becoming a principal when you were growing up?
No, it really wasn’t on my mind. To be honest with you, I was a pretty good student in school. When I went to Western Kentucky, I thought I wanted to go into chemistry. I always struggled with math, and when I got to Western, it just whipped my butt. And I always enjoyed history, so I changed majors. I got my history major and decided that I wanted to go into teaching. I enjoyed school as a student, my mom was involved in school a lot so that’s what I decided to do. At some point I went and got my master’s in administration, and when I did that, I thought, “Well in a few years I might want to be an assistant principal.”
Have you noticed an increase in students vaping?
If you would have asked that two years ago, I would have said it’s just blowing up. But it feels like it’s going down. We had a couple years where we were catching two to four people a week. And now, we’re not. We might get one a week or we might go two or three weeks without catching anyone.
What do you view as your most important daily contribution to the school?
I guess oversight and just trying to make sure that things run smoothly. If somebody has an issue or something they need, I try to make sure it gets handled as quickly as possible. I grew up in an era where work ethic was really important. So if something needs to be done, I just do it. Like today, I’ll give you a perfect example. Today before lunch, I was pouring water down a sewage drain in a mechanical closet because the water had dried up in it and it was letting sewer gas in the hall. You just do what you have to do sometimes. Could I have called maintenance? Yeah. But do I know how to do it? Yeah. So I did it. That’s what I mean by oversight. There are so many things that happen in the course of the day that you all don’t know anything about because it just gets handled by myself or one of the assistant principals.
What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do as a principal or educator?
Having somebody arrested, because it feels like a failure on your part. Obviously when I was at the R.T. Fisher Alternative School (Cotter was principal at R.T. Fisher for 6 years), that happened sometimes. You feel like you didn’t correct that person or give them the tools to handle a situation. But the thing you can’t do is threaten you are going to do something and not follow through with it. If I told a kid “If this doesn’t change, I am going to have to call the police” and didn’t do that, I lost all credibility if something happened the next time. So to me that was always the worst part because I felt like I had failed them.
What do you think is missing from HHS?
I think there are certain aspects of school spirit that because of COVID we have lost due to the fact that we can’t get together as groups. I think just like society, we need to be kinder to each other. We need to be more empathetic to each other because you don’t know what other people are going through. There seems to have been a general loss of that in society as a whole and, of course, everything trickles down.
Story by Ricki Heerdt, Catherine Hinkle, Victoria Petersen, and Jack Wells