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
Time with family is a big theme for HHS students heading into the holiday break.
Most everyone we caught up with over the past week or so mentioned family dinners, family vacations and family visits as part of their plans.
They should have plenty of time to fit everything in - from Thursday (Dec. 20) afternoon all the way to Monday, Jan. 7.
Below is a sampling of what students shared with The Ville News about their holiday plans and traditions:
Whatever your plans, The Ville News wishes you happy holidays!
Story by Rhianna Wilson and Anela Lopez
The last place one might expect to find students during their holiday break is at school.
But for several HHS students, the school parking lot is hard to resist.
HHS Principal Bob Cotter told The Ville News that loitering and trash in the lot had become a big problem in recent years but had gotten better – until last month’s Thanksgiving break when the parking lot again became a hangout.
“I believe it is more former students, college friends coming back and getting together,” Cotter said. “I think it’s two-thirds former students and one-third of our kids.”
He’s hoping the renewed interest in the parking lot was a one-time thing and not a return to the days when he said he and former football Coach Bruce Hatfield would have to spend hours cleaning up after students.
“People would leave everything – everything,” he emphasized. “We would find alcohol, beer cans, marijuana, paraphernalia. There were lots of other things that I don’t want to go into but should not be found in a high school parking lot … it’s an embarrassment.”
And it wasn’t only trash, either. Damage was done to the visitor bleachers, and there were complaints of drag racing and other inappropriate behavior.
Police stepped up patrols and signs were posted against loitering, and the problem got better.
Senior Presley Eastwood said much of the activity these days is caused by kids using the lot as a meeting place. They might spend 15 or 20 minutes there while making plans for the evening.
“It’s a central location, so it’s a good meeting place,” Eastwood said. “Everyone knows where it is, and they’re comfortable leaving their car there.”
Eastwood used to hang out in the parking lot regularly when she was a sophomore. Back then, she said, there might be more than a dozen vehicles at a time behind the visitor bleachers with people listening to music and talking. She said she never saw anyone smoking pot or drinking alcohol.
She quit hanging out there after Cotter began telling students to stop, and she thinks most of her peers did the same. She occasionally still uses the lot as a place to meet up with friends before carpooling to an away game or to some other outing.
“When I drive by there, I don’t see as many cars as I used to,” Eastwood said.
Story by Gracie Eastman and Elana Giordani
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).