Journalism

HHS teachers and administrators aren’t exactly breathing a sigh of relief after this week’s EOC practice tests, but they do seem to be breathing a little easier.

“It went well with only minor glitches with some of the wireless devices,” Principal Bob Cotter said Thursday (Nov. 16). “Everyone did indeed get on to do their practice. We hope this holds true once every high school in the state that has block schedules gets on the servers to test.”

The state is requiring all high schools to take the End-Of-Course tests online this year, and the mandate is raising concerns about network capacity. Only two years ago, the EOC was taken online as well, and serious problems were reported across the state. Last year, school systems had a choice, and Sumner County chose to administer the high-stakes tests on paper.

Although the EOC practice run Tuesday and Wednesday went well at HHS with the computer network holding up under the strain, there is still anxiety about the actual testing that begins after Thanksgiving break.

The Ville News spoke to some teachers about the issue last week. Their edited remarks are below.

  • “I have some concerns because many of my students struggle with typing. We plan to spend time on computers getting used to the format of the test.”

  -Carmen Watts, English Department

  • “I am nervous.  Time and accuracy will be the biggest struggles.  It will be a challenge for my students to input their equations into the computer in a timely manner with the program. HHS students are very technologically oriented, so I do feel certain our scores will still be the best in the county.”

   -Heather Thomas, Math Department

  • “I think that it can make the process more efficient, but only if the technology (wifi, laptops, desktops, etc.) are up to the task. But it also might present problems for students who are not as proficient on computers and don't have the ability to type as quickly as those that had extensive experience on computers.”

     -Daniel Saylor, Social Studies Department

  • “I feel that more preparation could’ve been done; it’s not the school’s fault or the county’s fault. I don’t know if the testing company decided that we needed to take it online this year but most of my kids can’t even send an email, so I don’t know how they’re going to be expected to take a test online and to flip back and forth between the reference sheet and the questions. I don’t think it’s time yet to take the tests online, and at the very least they should not have the score count against them. It’s a lot of pressure on a student to have to figure out the computer system.”

 -Alicia Farrar, Science Department

Ready or not, Cotter said, online EOC testing is here. “I don’t really have a choice, the state says all high schools in the state of Tennessee have to do it online this year. We didn’t have to do it last year, it was a pilot and we chose not to do it. It’s just something we have to do.”

He also said school administrators have a backup plan in case the wireless system fails.

“We have a wireless plan in hopes that we can do testing in classrooms … and then we have a wired plan where we would have to displace the business department in order to use their computers the whole time we are testing.

“That’s what I don’t like about it,” the principal added, “the uncertainty of whether the wireless network can carry that many computers trying to get online at the same time.”

Cotter also warned that it will be really important for students to turn off their phones during testing times because the devices affect network capacity.

“We need people to not have their phones on,” he said.

Story by Giulia Giordani and Kelsey Dotson

The HHS boys’ basketball team began its season with a bang Tuesday, knocking off Clarksville Northeast 56-13 and raising expectations for a strong year on the court.

Next up for the Commandos is Springfield on Thursday (Nov. 16). The game is away and begins at 6 p.m.

The Ville News recently spoke with Head Coach Clancy Hall and Assistant Coach Brandon Averitte about their outlook for this year’s varsity team.

 

Q. Based on what you’ve seen so far, how do you think the season will shape up?

(Hall) - Our players have been working very hard during practice and it has paid off during our three scrimmages. The team has played well together without egos or selfishness.

(Averitte) - I think we are ready to go, this team has had different competition these last three scrimmages. Through watching them, I think we’re ready.

 

Q. How many returning seniors do you have and who are some key players you are looking forward to coaching?

(Hall) - We have five seniors (KJ Ellis, Cooper Smith, Noah Owens, Vaughn Baldwin, Alec Kirby), five juniors (Zach Morris, Matthew Dorris, Cameron Stevens, Noah Taylor, Derek Kincaid) and nine sophomores (Drew Hohenbrink, Jackson Alford, Will Batson, Issiah Chandler, Carson Cook, Owen Lampton, Jacob Newton, Andruw Stratton, Jayden Stratton). All of our players have specific roles that they must accept in order for our team to be successful. ALL of our players are key players.

(Averitte) - We only have five seniors, and we have several guys that I think will contribute this year. It’s hard to only name one person but we are excited about Cooper (senior Cooper Smith) being back at the point guard position.

 

Q. What will the play style be like this year? Will it be more up tempo, or more controlled?

(Hall) - Our players enjoy pushing the ball offensively without sacrificing decision-making or shot-selection. Defensively, we will rely on man-to-man pressure with zone defenses mixed in certain situations.

(Averitte) - Push the ball up the court, absolutely. Our goal is to ultimately make the other team tired by the fourth quarter, and we are excited about our offense this year.

 

Q. A lot of players from last year are not back this season. How do you think this will affect the team?

(Hall) - Our only concern is the five seniors, five juniors, nine sophomores, and twelve freshmen that are committed to Hendersonville basketball.

(Averitte) - As far as people who have left, our focus is on this year. Our team is a younger group but very experienced, so I am excited for this season.

 

Story by Caden Watterson, Kennedy Tilson and Helton Porter

 Horse

It was the middle of the lesson when two ponies ran out of the side door of the barn, making all of the horses go crazy, including Louie. His attention was turned to the ponies, and in his distraction he almost threw HHS junior McKenzie Collins off his back. As they came around to a stop, Collins said, “Well, this is just a typical day at the barn.”

Collins has been riding horses almost as long as she has been walking. She and  Louie, her 13-year-old thoroughbred, compete in many events together and do most of their training at Harmony Hill Farm.

“Louie and I are hunter jumpers and compete in the pre-children’s division and shows,” Collins shared.

The pair has won so many ribbons that she has lost track of the number.

 “Louie and I have been fortunate enough to place in many of the classes we are entered in at the shows. These rankings are from sixth place all the way to first place,” the 16-year-old Collins said.

The ribbons all go back to how hardworking and dedicated Collins is with Louie, said Alison Koenig, Collins’ trainer.

“McKenzie is very focused,” Koenig said. “You can tell she loves to learn and is very deliberate when you tell her to work on different tasks.”

Collins’ father, Chip Collins, also credits her success to her work ethic.

“McKenzie has a strong drive for perfection when she’s in training or in a show arena,” he said. “She’s extremely hard on herself when things don’t go as planned, and grits down, tightens up, and reworks until she and her horse get things done correctly, which shows complete dedication to her sport and the growth of her and Louie’s skills.”

Collins has loved horses for a long time, but the story of how she got hooked begins in Florida when she was only 4.

 While on a spring break visiting her great aunt, MJ King, she was taken to the show grounds where King was in the middle of her show season. The little girl got to sit on a nationally ranked show horse while at the grounds, and from that moment on she knew she had to have a horse.

Two years later, she received her own pony as a Christmas gift and began training.

Over about 12 years, Collins has shown great improvement.

“The growth McKenzie has shown has been astounding to witness,” her father said. “Her ability to take care of a large animal and teach these magnificent creatures has been one of the greatest joys her mom and I have had the pleasure to see.”

Collins’ passion for riding has only grown stronger with time, and the bond between her and Louie seems as though it could never be broken. Even when she goes through her hardest days, Louie is there to brighten her mood.

“Horseback riding is my happy place. No matter what life tosses my way, it will always provide pure joy and satisfaction,” Collins said.

Story by Kelsey Dotson

If you’re feeling under the weather, you’re not alone.

HHS nurse Sue Buckberry says that for the first time this school year she has had to send students home because of fever, often with other symptoms such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

“I’ve probably sent more kids home in the last two weeks than I have all year,” Buckberry said. “Strep is going around and some G.I. illness is going around, and I know there have been some cases of the flu, but I don’t know how many. I’ve just kind of heard that through the grapevine.”

Nationally, flu season is just getting started, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, which reports Tennessee as one of 42 states with “minimal” cases of flu-like illnesses.

“Seasonal influenza activity remained low overall in the United States but is increasing,” the CDC states on its website.

The organization says getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect against influenza, which kills about 36,000 people a year in the U.S.

Other tips to help keep from getting or spreading illness are to avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay home when you are sick; cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze; wash your hands often with soap and warm water; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and eat right and get plenty of rest.

Article by Mason Mills and Camden McClister


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Students attending Friday’s Hendersonville High JROTC Fall Ball will also be observing the 242-year birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps has been serving America since Nov. 10, 1775.

The Fall Ball, which will be at The Lighthouse event center, will follow a formal procedure that begins with the “Star Spangled Banner” followed by the “The Marines’ Hymn.”

There will be a cake cutting with swords, and the guest of honor will receive the first piece of cake and then the oldest cadet and the youngest cadet.

The guest of honor will speak, and then there will be a ceremony known as “The Unknown Soldier” in which “we recognize all those young men and women that may have sacrificed their lives,” explained Master Sgt. Tim Clenney, a JROTC instructor.

Next, a catered dinner is served and afterward there is a DJ and dancing for two-and-a-half hours.

“It’s very formal, very structured,” said Senior Military Instructor Jeff Stone. “Things happen the exact same across all the Marine Corps.”

The Marines hold the ball overseas and even in combat zones to honor all the Marines who came before them.

Article by Aiden Gray

 

Members of the HHS Model UN Club took home several honors at the recent 2017 YMCA Model UN Conference.

HHS was one of many schools represented at the massive conference, which was at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro, Nov. 3-5. In all, about 1,000 delegates attended the event.

“It is a student conference of a mock United Nations assembly where students represent a country and present a resolution that deals with an international problem,” explained history teacher Amanda Elmore, who is HHS Model UN sponsor. “Students have an opportunity to debate and give speeches and discuss current topics of global interest.”

Several HHS students were recognized for their efforts. A resolution for Montenegro written by juniors Rossell Brewer, Jared Galbreath, Jacob Kieser, and Henry Sprouse was selected one of the top five resolutions in the entire conference.

 HHS also had two delegations awarded for Outstanding Resolutions: the delegation of France (Peter Livesay, Emily Williams, Annabella Lodge, Kara Ellis) and the delegation of Nicaragua (Delilah Davis, Adrian Selva, and Mya Swinehart).

Eight other HHS delegations passed their resolutions into the General Assembly: Cote D’Ivoire, Columbia, Angola, Mauritius, Indonesia, Egypt 2, Andorra, and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

Some HHS students also were recognized for their individual achievements by the conference staff. Receiving the Outstanding Delegate Award were Selva, Jack Wilhite, Sprouse, Jacob Kieser, Jacob Howard, Erin Eversole.

In addition, Sprouse was elected an officer for the 2018 conference. Next year, he will serve as a General Assembly Liaison.

Students said the Model UN experience was fun but challenging.

“It was pretty lit,” said sophomore Cailsey Scott.

Selva had this tip for students thinking of attending Model UN next year: “Just ask questions. Don’t be afraid.”

Elmore warned that the Model UN conference “is not for the weak of heart.”

“They should avoid being ill-prepared” she said.

Story by Kyra Hodge, Sarah Kovach, Abigail Lewis and Peter Livesay

Did somebody order a pizza? The savory smell of pizza baking has been tempting students for weeks now as the HHS cafeteria has begun offering personal pizzas for lunch.

The pizzas come as part of a $3 meal deal that also includes a fruit or vegetable and milk, and they have been a hit with students.

Head of Cafeteria Lisa Adams said she and her staff are selling 500-600 pizzas a day.

“Kids really like the cardboard box packaging over being served food on a tray,” Adams said. “We’ve seen kids buy lunch this year that we’ve never seen before. They really like the pizzas.”

Derek Kincaid, a junior, is a big fan.

“I think it’s way better than our old pizza,” Kincaid said. “It’s kind of greasy though, so I try not to eat it a lot. I ate it twice last week. But it’s definitely a good alternative to the old pizza.” (Pro tip: dab your pizza with a napkin to remove the grease!)

Students also like the portion size. “It’s warm enough to give you that warm feeling, but it’s not too filling - it’s just enough,” said sophomore Kaylee Gonzalez.

Only four schools in the county offer the new Smart Mouth-brand pizzas, which come to the school nearly oven-ready. The Sumner County Board of Education invested a lot of money to get the pizza brand here, Adams said, including installing special ovens at the schools that offer the pizzas.

According to the Smart Mouth company website, “Other companies have tried the transition to schools before, but failed because they took the processing of the dough too far. We had to keep it fresh. To do this without creating too much labor, we had to create an easy system for the preparation of the pizzas.”

What’s next for the pizzas? Starting after Thanksgiving a special “Pizza of the Day” will make its debut. The flavors will become more versatile with toppings such as veggie pizza and buffalo chicken pizzas in the works. 

Article by Bailey Guy and Carly Lancaster

 

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