The ACT retake for seniors falls during the craziness of Homecoming Week, and some say the timing couldn’t be worse.

“Thinking about what to wear on dress up days and the football game will be very distracting from the test,” said junior Emilee Sidwell. “They should do it the next week.”

To be clear, the ACT test on Tuesday (Oct. 1) is a practice run for all HHS students except seniors; the test is the real deal for seniors and counts.

Juniors won’t take the real ACT until spring.

Students can take the test, which counts heavily toward college, multiple times to try to improve their score, which is why seniors are retaking it for credit Tuesday.

Assistant Principal Nicole Jimenez, who coordinates standardized testing for HHS, said the scheduling is unfortunate but beyond her control.

“The schools didn’t actually decide the date for ACT,” Jimenez explained. “The state has two date options we can choose from and then the district chooses one of those two dates to test on. This decision was way out of HHS’ hands.”

Even so, some students are uneasy.

“Honestly, I think it’s too much” said junior Matthew Stewart. “It’s just another distraction.”

Beth Brody, the school’s Credit Recovery coordinator, said the week’s events – football game, pep rally, dress-up days, etc. – are spread out enough that they shouldn’t distract students from the test.

“I guess I don’t really see the problem,” Brody said. “Homecoming (the football game) is Friday (Oct. 4) and the ACT is Tuesday (Oct. 1). This is just a fun week, not a week to ‘relax.’ It might be an issue if the ACT was on Friday but, personally, I don't see an issue.”

Story by Corrine Mitchener

Little Shop of Horrors: The Musical is being revived at Hendersonville Performing Arts Center through Sunday (Sept. 29). The cast has worked diligently to bring this classic story to the community. Directed by Haley Sue Pearson, shows are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. 


The Ville News recently spoke with Little Shop actors Aaron Echols (Seymour) and Rachel Humphrey (Audrey). Their edited responses are below.

Q: How is the musical different from the movie? 


Echols: First, I would say….. the movie had two endings. The original ending was replaced by a lighter ending, that way you could see all the characters at the end. However, in the musical we are using the darker ending, to really set the tone of the show.


Q: What’s the best part of playing your characters? 


Humphrey: What I really like about my character Audrey, is her optimsm. Me as a person, as Rachel, I’m very much a realist. However, to dip into a character that goes through a bad situation is very aspiring.  She’s silly without trying to be, but it’s nice to dwell into a character that’s joyful.


Echols:  For Seymour, he’s really similar to Audrey, but it’s more hopeful than optimistic. He’s a character that’s trying to make a better name for himself; he doesn’t focus on his past. The one thing that really keeps him going is his love for Audrey. When they work together, he knows that he doesn’t have a chance, but the idea is what keeps him progressing.


Q: Have you two done shows here before? 


Humphrey: I have not, this is my first show at Hendersonville Performing Arts Center.


Echols: I’ve done quite a few: Little Women, Seussical, Charlie Brown, and The Grinch.


Q: Would you say you are close as a cast?


Humphrey:  Oh yea, 100 percent! We have a small cast, and when you have a small cast it’s easy to get really close.  You learn a little bit more about them everyday. 


Echols: My experience with a cast is like a family, you’re really close but when the show is over you move on. However, you know a few more people than you did before.


Q: What’s the overall tone of the show? 


Echols: Hope. I’m speaking for my character, but it’s just finding hope.


Humphrey: I think you’re right, Aaron. I would agree that there is a lot of hope. But the show is also a lesson of humans trying to control nature, and to some degree you can’t. So seeing that aspect too is interesting.


Story by Hannah Cunningham

A little friendly advice next time someone wants to shake your hand at school: Run.

An informal check of soap dispensers in bathrooms all over the building reveals that some stay empty for days.

“It’s very common in the main bathrooms. It’s kind of irritating,” sophomore Nandana Menon told The Ville News last week. “You want to wash your hands and then there’s no soap and you have to go to a different bathroom or look for other places.”

Keep in mind that most students probably don’t go to the lengths Menon does to wash her hands after using the bathroom.

Separate checks taken Tuesday and Thursday (Sept. 17 and 19) revealed that the boys’ bathrooms seem to run lower on soap than the girls’ rooms. Bathrooms in the math and marketing hallways had the least amount of soap, and dispensers that were empty on Tuesday were still empty on Thursday.

Assistant Principal Nicole Jimenez said students need to speak up when they notice that the soap dispensers are empty.

“It needs to be reported to a classroom teacher or an administrator,” she said. “Then we can get with the janitorial staff and we can make sure that they’re aware so that they can go in and refill the dispensers. We can ask them to do that as many times as needed during the day.”

With flu season fast approaching, sounds like sound advice.

Story by Rain Adams


Freshmen have a lot to look forward when they get to high school – Friday night football games, new friends and new teachers, more freedom to come and go, and vending machines.

Yes, vending machines. Most middle schools don’t have them for students, so it is a new experience for HHS freshmen.

But 20 freshmen polled by The Ville News about the vending machines weren’t exactly thrilled with them, mainly because of the low-cal snacks they offer. Here is what students had to say:


Q&A: What would you like to see different in the vending machines?

  -”Takis”: Lizzi Wilson 

  -”Nutella on the go”: Laxmi Gaur

  -”Coffee drinks in the drink machines”: Venusa Leksono

  -”Energy drinks to keep us awake, not just zero sodas”: Drake Dyer

  -”Candy Bars”: Kristin Goodman

Q&A: What is the average amount of money that you spend on snacks/drinks per week?

$0: Eleven people 

     -”I never buy anything because it’s too expensive and there is nothing I would enjoy.”

$1: Four people

$2: Three people

    -”Usually, a drink and a snack on a Wednesday to get me through the rest of the week.”

$5: Two people

Q&A: With the amount of money that you spend per week, how often does your money get eaten by the machines?

-”All of the time, one out of five times I will actually get what I wanted out of the machine” - Lizzi Wilson

-”I’ve never had it happen,” several students answered.

- “It’s only happened once”- several others answered.

Story by Emersyn Dyer and Kayla Battista

More than 40 people have signed up for French Club this year.

French Club is a club where, instead of focusing on the French language, members focus on French culture. They do activities such as eating French food and watching French movies. 

Though they don’t have a set meeting time, they usually try to meet every other week. The first meeting was September 9, and the next is to be decided.

“We hope to do some of the same activities we’ve done last year, and some new things,” French teacher and French Club leader Erin Whitehead said. “We have had dinner outings, movies, and parties. So hopefully new and different things.”

She added that being in the club is not exclusive to people taking her class.

“They can be present members of class, they can be going to take the class, they can also not be a member of the French classes at all and just have an interest in being with French kids and culture.”

There are a lot of social benefits to joining French Club.

“You get a sense of community in this group of people with a shared interest,” Vice President Zachery LeBlanc commented. “And you get to learn more about French culture.”

Club president Elizabeth Long said, “We all get along great and have a lot of fun, despite any differences we might have outside of the club.

“I joined after taking a French class, because I enjoyed the feeling of the welcoming tight-knit community as well as the culture involved — the movies, art, literature, food— there’s a little bit for everyone to enjoy,” Long said.

Story by Rain Adams and Hannah Cunningham



The Film Club met last week (Sept. 18) for the first time this school year.

The main business was to discuss plans and expectations.

The club is designed to bring together actors, writers, videographers and others interested in film. Current HHS senior Amelia Dopp started it three years ago.

“I love film and all of its interworking parts,” Dopp said. “I knew a lot of other students who loved film and had creative potential.” 

According to the HHS Club website, the club will have its first-ever film festival in the spring.

“I’m happy to participate and see all of the films that come out of it,” Dopp said. 

Many different components of film will be represented at the festival, including editing, directing, storyboarding, and set and costume design.

Dopp, who has acted in several HHS theater productions, said she enjoys all aspects of film-making, but she is particularly fond of “the comradery on set and the bonding that happens during the hurry-up-and-wait.” 

The Film Club is looking to expand, and Dopp said all students are welcome to join.

“You can try out different aspects of creating and make some new friends along the way as well as assist in producing a product you are proud of,” she said.

Story by Andrew Maddern


HHS has many interesting clubs, but only one where members get to build and program robots.

The Robotics Club is led by information technology teacher Jeff Wilkins, who started the club two years ago.

The club focuses on building and using robots in different ways. In fact, the members participate in a big robotics competition every year.

“We do a competition called Vex Robotics,” Wilkins explained. “Vex Robotics is an international robotics competition. You order parts and pieces online for your robots, and then there are certain tasks you have to do.”

One task, for example, is programming a robot to create a tower of blocks.

The Robotics Club does have some requirements for membership.

“To be in it during Commando Time, you have had to have had a computer science or an engineering class with me,” Wilkins said, adding that members must have a certain amount of background knowledge to be able to participate in the club activities.

Story by Ryan Ray

The Lady Commandos volleyball team hopes for a big crowd Wednesday (Sept. 25) during their in-school match against White House Heritage High School.

Hendersonville has not yet beaten White House Heritage in volleyball, and a bit of animosity has arisen between the two teams.

Sarah Kovach, a senior, expresses this competitive nature: “I want to win against Heritage in front of the school; simple as that, really. They are going to walk in thinking it’s going to be an easy game, and I want to prove them wrong.”

The last four meetings between the two have been matches played during the regular school day with the respective student bodies watching. The rowdy atmosphere is ripe with the cheers of the students. 

The $5 tickets have been sold during lunch this week and will still be available at lunch Wednesday; athletic passes will not be taken for the game.

The match will begin after skinny block, and students will be released from their fourth-block classes.

“I’m really excited to have a good crowd and see how the team performs under the pressure of the student body watching,” says senior Dylan Mott.

The Lady Commandos look forward to their upcoming match and hope that the students do, too. 

Story by Sara Amis and Cynthia Maravilla

Column by Bridget Bireley


This week (Sept. 22-28) is known to the literary world as "Banned Books Week." According to the American Library Association (ALA), “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.”  It recognizes books in libraries and schools that have been challenged or censored for their unpopular or unorthodox views. 

Book banning is the most common form of censorship within school systems and is mainly done by concerned parents, religious organizations, and political groups.  


Although the majority of us are unaware of it, we have all most likely read a banned book before.  Popular books such as Thirteen Reasons Why and The Hate U Give were both on the ALA’s Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018. 

Other classic examples include the Harry Potter series, which was just recently banned at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville because some say the books promote witchcraft; To Kill a Mockingbird was banned for racial themes; The Color Purple for vulgarity; and Of Mice and Men for profanity.  Even some Dr. Seuss children's books have been banned because of their political themes. 

Here in Sumner County, Looking for Alaska has been "challenged" - the term for when someone attempts to have materials removed or restricted from a curriculum or library collection; when materials are removed, the term is "banned" - in recent years, according to HHS librarian Angie Woods.

The HHS library is home to many challenged and banned books.  It holds over half of the ALA’s Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books from 2000-2009 in their catalog.

In today’s society, reading a banned book is a great way to exercise our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.  In Monteiro v. Tempe Union High School District, a 1998 court case, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against banning The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn due racial tensions and racial overtones.  The court ruled “...a school board’s removal of a material from the classroom curriculum solely on the basis of its message has a powerful symbolic effect on a student or teacher’s First Amendment rights… and is, therefore, unconstitutional.” 

As U.S. citizens, we have the right to voice our opinions, regardless of the status quo. Banned books allow students to discuss prevalent social issues, express themselves, and be advocates for change.  


Not only does reading a banned book make us more productive citizens, it teaches us about the world we live in.  We cannot accept others without first learning about their situation. Books teach us to walk in someone else’s shoes and to accept their life.  It is vital that we learn about how others think and learn the importance of unique thought. Sheltering ourselves from thoughts and beliefs will have a negative impact on us in the future.  We need to know about disabilities, religions, forms of government, sexualities, and races different from our own to have a true grasp on the real world.


Many, however, argue that banned books are not suitable for school libraries.  Jamie Leigh, a writer for Punchnel’s web magazine, comprised a list of reasons why books are banned - reasons such as unpopular political views, negativity, alternate lifestyles, and racial themes.

Ban supporters are not completely absurd for wishing to protect students; it is a parent’s instinct to keep their children from what they see as threatening. Still, however inappropriate a banned book may be, many are cherished classics that deserve to be read by all.  When discussing the pros of banned books, Leigh writes, “Books teach us history in context. They teach us compassion. They teach us vocabulary, and social skills, and new ways of thinking.”

Books teach us morals that people are sometimes not capable of teaching. In her infographic, Guilia R. De Amicis illustrates reasons why some of the most beloved classics are banned.  Alice in Wonderland was banned for anthropomorphic values, meaning human characteristics were given to inhuman objects, yet it is a classic coming-of- age story that teaches the importance of finding your own identity.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou was banned for obscenity, even though it is a thought -provoking autobiography demonstrating how strength and love can overcome racism and hate.  Classic novels such as these shape society as it is known today.          

At HHS, our librarians “...try to follow the county policy.”  Librarian Pamela Hodgeman says, “You need to let everyone read and make up their mind.  What may offend one person may not offend the other. We like freedom of choice. We censor certain things; like we wouldn’t put something meant for adults in with the young adults.  We try to get a variety of what we think people at school will read; and so they can choose. We’re not trying to lead them in a certain direction.”   

To learn more about the importance of Banned Books Week, check out the ALA’s website or Banned Books Week’s twitter, @BannedBooksWeek!  Also make sure to stop by the library to check out a banned book! 

Bridget is a reporter for The Ville News              

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