Forget about easing back into school after a lazy Thanksgiving break. The End Of Course testing schedule is out, and it’s about as student-friendly as leftover cranberry sauce.


HHS freshmen with English this semester will have to take the writing portion of the high-stakes test on Monday (Nov. 26), the same morning they return from a five-day break.


Things aren’t much better for English II and U.S. history students. They take the writing portion that first week back as well, with English II testing Tuesday (Nov. 27) and U.S. history Thursday (Nov. 29), according to the schedule released to teachers this week.


The second part of those tests, the multiple-choice part, will be the following week, the week of Dec. 3. Math students test the week of Dec. 10.


Teachers are particularly anxious about that Nov. 26 test date, when students are sure to be in a Thanksgiving funk after the long stretch off.


"Testing immediately after a holiday definitely makes motivating students a challenge,” said English teacher Andrew Martin. “After a break, students are tired and have to adjust back to the school schedule which is far from ideal for such an important test.”


Martin also worries about students who are traveling for the holiday.


“There are probably students who will miss the first test or be exhausted from traveling all day before, which only adds to the difficulty and stress of testing," he said.


English Department Chair Carmen Watts said students will be ready to test as soon as they return from break “because we have all been getting them prepared” to test.


But she also said the schedule could be more favorable.


“I just think that sometimes once they have had a break and then come right in that first day and get hit with testing, it’s a little much,” Watts said. “I almost feel like we need to ease back into coming to school.”


Story by Brinson Martin, Sloane Wright and Kyra Hodge

The HHS Commandos’ season ended last week with a loss to Murfreesboro Oakland in the second round of the state football playoffs. It was the first season at the helm for head Coach James Beasley, an HHS graduate who was also a player and, later, an assistant under former Coach Bruce Hatfield. The Ville News recently spoke with Coach Beasley about his first year. His edited remarks are below.


Q. What is the biggest difference between being a head coach and an assistant coach? 

A. The biggest difference is having to worry about everything instead of having one role. I’m having to be more involved with the team.


Q. How would you describe your first season as head coach?

A. It was a good first season. I felt like we had a successful season. My goal was for the players to develop and learn to be good people and to work hard – not just for the team but for themselves.


Q. What would you identify as the high point and the low point of the season?

A. The high point was beating Gallatin 35-0. The low point was losing to Franklin 24-7, a team we should have beaten.


Q. What is the biggest lesson you learned from your first year as head coach?

A. I learned that it is harder than I thought to make sure everyone is doing their best and to keep everyone motivated.

Story by Thomas Matchell and Hudson Mortimer

Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though;   

He will not see me stopping here   

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

- From “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost


The only snowy woods in store for Sumner County this week will likely be the ones in those annoyingly early Christmas commercials.

Even so, with the first flakes of the season in the forecast Wednesday and Thursday (Nov. 14 and 15), it seems fitting to check the winter predictions for our area. Are we bound to be buried knee deep and miss weeks of school? Or will it be shorts and T-shirts for New Year’s.

As usual, it all depends on whom you ask. Back in August the Old Farmer’s Almanac called for a warm, wet winter for Middle Tennessee, only to have its rival, the Farmers' Almanac, come out a few days later and predict “teeth-chattering” cold and above-average snow.

With this year’s chilly autumn, we can all hope for the latter. The National Weather Service expects the unusually cool temps to hold for at least the next 6 to 10 days, which probably means a nippy Thanksgiving.

As for the long-term forecast, the NWS says our area will have near-normal temperatures and precipitation this winter. “Normal” for Nashville is 6 or 7 inches of snow on average – meaning some years can see more and some less. Sumner County, especially northern Sumner County, typically receives more frozen precipitation than Nashville.

Whatever winter has in store for us, the Sumner County school system should have more than enough snow days to handle it with 13 of them stockpiled.

Story by Isabella McBride


Members of the HHS Faculty Book Club have chosen their next book for discussion: “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

The club is a new feature at HHS. Earlier this year, it focused on “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, which was recently adapted into a movie.

“I think that there’s a lot going on right now in society, and it’s just a good choice because it deals with women’s rights,” Assistant Principal Lisa Jaskot said of the club’s latest selection.

“We Should All Be Feminists” is a short story that is more of an essay than a book. The work is adapted from a TEDx talk and is based on the author’s personal experiences and ideas.

Jaskot, who started the Faculty Book Club, said she hopes male faculty will not be turned off by the title. One lesson she learned from the book, Jaskot said, is that a feminist is a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

“Based on that definition, a feminist could be a man or a woman,” she said.

Story by Kyra Hodge

Hmm … 950 guests for a Thanksgiving meal of turkey and dressing, ham, two kinds of potatoes, brown gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, two types of cake, peach cobbler and fruit salad.

No problem for the women in the HHS cafeteria! They did it again Thursday (Nov. 8) for the school’s annual holiday lunch.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s well worth it,” assistant cafeteria manager Becky Heflin told The Ville News on Thursday, about an hour before the feast was to begin.

If she and manager Dawnette Jolly were nervous about

things going well, they sure didn’t show it. They glided around the kitchen showing off the neatly organized trays of food and answering reporters’ questions.

“We have 700 servings of turkey and 500 servings of ham,” Heflin said as she ladled juice over a big tray of sliced turkey.

A lot of preparation goes into a meal like this, including cleaning and bleaching equipment and surfaces, cooking all the food and slicing the turkeys and hams, and arranging everything so the lines move quickly.

“It’s a long process,” Jolly said.

About three days, in fact. The women began preparing Monday and were in the kitchen at 6 this morning to finish up.

This is by far their largest meal of the year.

It’s also one where Principal Bob Cotter picks up the tab for teachers.

“We’re going to see teachers we’ve never seen before,” Heflin joked.

Story by The Ville News staff

The HHS play “A-Haunting We Will Go” was a success with about 866 tickets sold and strong performances from the cast and crew, theater arts teacher Laurie Kerhoulas-Brown said Monday (Nov. 5).

“I’m really proud of the students and how much better they got as time went on,” said Kerhoulas-Brown, commonly known as Mrs. KB. “The stage crew also did an excellent job with the lighting.”

Less than half the tickets sold – about 365 – were for the public performances Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The rest were purchased by students for a special Halloween morning show, which was sold out.

The story was a thrilling murder-mystery with comical moments and a surprise ending.

Mrs. KB said this was the first time in many years, maybe ever, that a student directed the HHS play.

“I want to brag on my student director Kyra Ankrom,” she said. “I love the play she chose. We had looked at the play a few years ago and she liked it, so she used it.”

All four performances were memorable, but for different reasons.

“Generally, the school show is the most exciting because the crew is performing for their peers, but the last show that we do is the show where we do a senior send off at the very end,” Mrs. KB explained. “Instead of leaving the stage after curtain to go greet people, they stay on stage and say a few words about their experience in theatre and what they are going to do after they leave high school.”

Several HHS students gave the play two thumbs up.

“The actors did a phenomenal job, and it seemed like there were few to no mistakes,” said freshman Tyler McArthur. “It was funny and mysterious.”

Freshman Sam Campbell added, “The ending was unexpected, and the acting was good too.”

Sophomore Avery Petty liked the plot. “It had a good twist,” she said.

Story by Corrine Mitchener

The library has started playing movies for students to enjoy before school and at lunch time.

“We want the library to be the center of HHS and want everyone to have a place to socialize and enjoy their time,” librarian Pamela Hodgeman said of the new feature, which is free and open to all students.

Many have been enjoying the films, which are mostly selected by students. One recent morning, the Robin Williams comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire” played on the big screen.

Movie suggestions can be tweeted to the librarians @commandolibrary.

Story by Thomas Matchell, Hudson Mortimer and Elena Giordani

The Commandos take on Riverdale tonight (Nov. 2) at home in the first round of the state playoffs.

The winner of the 7 p.m. game advances to the next round of the playoffs while the loser is done for the year.

HHS, which finished the regular season with a 7-3 mark, is expected to lean heavily on senior Derek Kincaid, who enters the game with 863 rushing yards, according to The Tennessean newspaper.

Murfreesboro’s Riverdale High, which is 5-5 on the season, is led by running back Drew Smith, who has 1,246 yards with 16 rushing touchdowns, the newspaper reports.

"Riverdale is a very good football team, but if our team plays the way they are capable of playing, there is no reason" HHS can't win the game and move to the next round of the state playoffs, said history teacher and assistant football coach Jack Littlejohn.

Story by Corrine Mitchener


HHS’ annual canned food drive came up short of its goal this year with 60,584 donated items.

Last year, HHS and its feeder schools collected about 66,000 items and had hoped to surpass 75,000 this time.

Some teachers reportedly chose not to participate this year because no prizes were offered for top collectors.

All food donated during the week-long drive (Oct. 22-26) goes to the Hendersonville Samaritan Association.

Organizers said they were pleased with the results, even if donations were down.

“We would like to thank all of your for helping us make this year’s food drive a success,” business teacher Lisa Baugh wrote in an email to teachers and staff. “You are such a caring and supportive staff, and we appreciate the time you put in to help others in our community!”

Story by Bella McBride


HHS’ Sparks After School Club plans to head in a new direction following a recent book discussion meeting.

The club is planning to merge a few of its meetings with the Young Women’s Study Circle, a group sponsored by English teacher Carmen Watts.

“I think it would be good to have more diversity in Young Women’s Studies and for them to get a perspective of what it's like for women of color and how we’re similar and different,” Watts said.

She added that she would like to see the two clubs collaborate every so often with members switching back and forth between the two.

The idea came up during the last Sparks meeting, in which members met with Watts and other teachers to discuss the popular book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Sparks member Autumn Starr, a senior, said, “The meeting was great because teachers and students came together to discuss important issues.”

Story by Rianna Waters

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