It’s no joke that “Joker” is a box office sensation with more than $900 million in receipts, making it the highest-grossing R-rated film ever.


So that means Joaquin Phoenix is the undisputed king of the Jokers, right?


Not so fast.


An informal Ville News poll of 17 students found that Heath Ledger’s Joker in the 2008 movie “The Dark Knight” tops Phoenix’s creepy portrayal.


Nine students chose Ledger as the best Joker compared to just four for Phoenix.


Jared Leto received two votes for his dark turn as the villain in the 2016 movie “Suicide Squad,” while Cesar Romero – yes, we’re dead serious, Cesar Romero – also earned two picks for his take on the Joker from the campy 1960s Batman TV show.


“Cesar Romero – he just plays it well,” said freshman Danielle McEwen.


Perhaps, but it seems the real crime in all this talk of crime capers is the absence of Jack Nicholson (1989's "Batman") from the list.


Oh well.


Story by D’emon Baggett


Thanksgiving has come early to HHS. The school’s traditional holiday feast is Thursday (Nov. 7) in the cafeteria.


Students and teachers will have plenty to fill their plates. The lunch consists of ham, turkey and dressing, spice cake, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, green beans and fruit Jell-O. 


Cafeteria Manager Lola Garret said it takes about two weeks to get all the food together.


“I had to order enough for at least 750 people,” she said.


The cafeteria staff has to arrive at 6 in the morning and start cooking by 7 to have everything ready on time.


Perhaps the best part for teachers is that the lunch is free, compliments of Principal Bob Cotter.


“The teachers work really hard,” Cotter said when asked why he picks up the tab each year. “They put so much time in, so much effort in, and some days they don’t even eat lunch. So, I figured on this day when we are giving thanks to everyone, the best way I can thank the teachers is giving them a great lunch.”


Happy Thanksgiving everyone and enjoy the special lunch!


Story by Alorah Fridley and Hannah Mailander


HHS students will perform “The Wind in the Willows” on Nov. 21, 23 and 24 in the auditorium.


An in-school show for students will be Nov. 20 during first and second blocks.


“The Wind in the Willows” is a favorite of both children and adults. The story by Kenneth Grahame is often listed among the 100 best novels.


HHS has performed the play before, but the last time was 20 years ago.


“It’s one of my husband’s favorite shows,” said theater arts teacher Laurie Kerhoulas-Brown, who will co-direct with senior Charlotte Cirves.


Tickets are $8 at the door for the public shows (7 p.m. on Nov. 21 and 23, and 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 24), and $5 for the in-school one.


Tickets for the in-school show go on sale next week and continue through the week of the performance.


The story’s themes involve loyalty and friendship. The main character, Mr. Toad, keeps landing in trouble for his “fabulous” adventures. Eventually, he finds his way back home, and his friends help him change the way he views life.


Mr. Toad is played by Mackenzie Perger, Mr. Badger by Payton Lucas, Ratty by Sara Amis and Mr. Mole by Carly Martin. All four lead actors are seniors.


Story by Kenzie Gregory, Bayley Lennord and Eva Plummer



HHS sophomore Jameson Wharton is known for his speed on the football field. Now, he is known for his big heart, too.


Each year, Jameson organizes a flag football game to raise money to fight cancer. This year’s game was Oct. 20 and generated $2,047.


“All of the money goes to the American Cancer Society,” he told The Ville News recently.


The ACS funds and conducts research, promotes prevention, and supports patients with the disease, according to the organization’s website.


Known to friends as “Jamo,” Jameson started the fundraiser when he was only 10 years old. He was living in Atlanta at the time, and his aunt had died of cancer.


Her death had such an effect on him that he decided he would do all he could to help end cancer.


His solution was “Football for the Cure,” a flag football game with each participant paying $5.


The project has taken off since it began six years ago. Several dozen people participate, including many of his HHS classmates and teammates.


“There are three age groups,” Jameson explained, “7 to 9, 10 to 13, and 14 to 18. So, there are three different tournaments going on.”


The event is so successful that The Tennessean newspaper did a big spread on it last month with photos and text. The Board of Education will recognize Jameson at its meeting Nov. 19.


“This is a great example of the wonderful students we have at HHS,” Principal Bob Cotter said of the super sophomore.


Story by Lilian Woodward, Miranda Heatherly and Robyn Sherrill

It’s almost time for winter sports: basketball, swimming, and you guessed it - wrestling! The Ville News recently spoke with HHS wrestling coach Ralph Gabriel, who begins team practices today (Nov. 4) at 3:15 p.m. in the fieldhouse. His edited remarks are below.


Q: How can someone join the wrestling team?

A: We don’t have tryouts. I don’t cut kids, so the first day of practice is today. If you want to be on the wrestling team, just show up. You have to have your physical and all that. But as long as you show up for practices, you’ll be on the team.


Q: Are there any requirements/skills needed to be on the team?

A: Well, no.  If you want to become a good wrestler, I can make you that.  But obviously if you’re athletic it helps, but I’ll take anybody that wants to try. As long as you’re willing to work, I’ll make you better.  We compete in weight classes, so you’re going to go by a certain weight class.  It would be nice to be a little leaner than a little chunky.  If you’re lean, you have a better shot at being successful.


Q: What are practices like?

A: We practice every day except Sunday. During the week it’s 3:15 to 5, and Saturdays we usually go from 9 to 11. We do a lot of drilling. We do some running, we do wrestling, we do techniques, we do some weight training.


Q: How many people do you expect to be on the team this year?

A: I think we’ll probably have in the 30s.


Q: What do you hope to accomplish with this year’s team?

A: Well, I was brought here to rebuild the program, so my goal is to continue to make the number of wrestlers larger. We went from 6 to 25 in the last two years. We also want them to become good wrestlers. We had one state qualifier the first year and last year we had six. My goal is to get all 14 kids to state at some point. I want a state champion or a state place winner. I want to win the district, the region, and eventually the state. It’s a process. It’s not going to happen this year, but we’re going to be competitive and we’re going to keep getting better.


Q: Do you feel that wrestling gets the facilities it should? What do you think should change?

A: Wrestling requires a big mat; mats are hard to move by yourself.  It would be nice to have a place where we could practice year-round like everybody else does, and it’s hard to do that with the current setup. We’re making it work but it’d be better to have our own place, our own room.


Story by Rain Adams and Bridget Bireley

Thinking of dressing up for Halloween? Better wait until after school.


HHS policy says no masks, crazy makeup or costumes of any kind.


“Safety is the main reason,” Principal Bob Cotter told The Ville News recently.


Even so, students are looking forward to Halloween, especially this year with no class on Friday (Nov. 1).


There are plenty of fun things to do, even if you hate scary stuff.


“My mom and I usually go to the pumpkin patch together and paint pumpkins,” said freshman Reagan Tate.


Guidance counselor Michelle Nevels said she and her young sons will watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” carve pumpkins and decorate the house.


Junior Brent Rowe’s Halloween plans also involve pumpkins – and pumpkin guts.


“I’m going to my friend’s party and taking the stuff out of the pumpkin and having a fight with it,” he said.


After they clean up the mess, they’ll roast and eat the seeds.


Haunted houses are big on many Halloween lists. Junior Kyra Hodge says she’s going to one with her boyfriend.


Haunted houses may be a Halloween tradition, but they're not the only one. Here is a sampling of other spooky traditions:


  • “My parents always read a Halloween book for me and my siblings.” – sophomore Savannah Kane


  • “My family always goes trick or treating together with coordinating costumes. We also have a pumpkin-carving contest.” – sophomore Brennan King


  • “Every year, I carve a pumpkin with a neat design.” – sophomore Sydney McDaniel


  • “My family always goes to the pumpkin patch next to HHS and we take pictures and pick a pumpkin to carve.” – sophomore Carrigan Martin



Story by The Ville News staff

‘Tis the season for all things scary, and The Ville News wants to know which movies and books make you go to bed with the lights on.

Drop your picks in the basket in the library. We’ll share the results after the long Halloween weekend.

In the meantime, we asked some HHS students and staff what they thought.

Freshman Skylar Smith said Slenderman really creeps her out. For fellow frosh Michael Reed, Paranormal Activity is the movie that gives him the willies.

Sophomore Alex Aliradi said Saw did it for him.

“I watched it when I was 5-years-old and it gave me nightmares,” he said.

Junior Jack Philips was terrified by The Conjuring, while senior Ashlyn Williams found Stephen King’s Pet Sematary really disturbing.

Librarian Angie Woods goes for the old favorite Friday the 13th, while librarian Pamela Hodgeman might have the perfect pick for a librarian: A Quiet Place.

“It’s a very psychological movie,” Hodgeman said of the film, which is about a family that must live in total silence to avoid being killed by mysterious creatures that hunt by sound.

Shh … quiet in the library.

Story by Leilani Boleyjack


For most, the beginning of the second nine weeks marks a fresh start. All grades start anew, and with that, many students are creating new study habits to maintain their grades or setting new goals to try to improve their marks.

Junior Hayden Norris and senior Mia Ruffra are both content with their grades for the first nine weeks, while Jade Edwards, a junior, says she is happy with “all but two of them.”

Similarly, junior Elizabeth Long wished she could have done better on one of her grades.

Several students are setting new goals for the new quarter.

“My goal is to make the basketball team and get all A’s and B’s,” freshman Vaughn Zamor shares. 

Hannah Mailander, also a freshman, says her goal is to “bring my journalism grade up, and keep my other grades up.” 

To achieve their goals, some students will be altering their study habits. 

“I’ll try to implement better time management,” Long said.

Others, such as freshman Ruby Hassan, feel confident in their current study habits.

Story by Rain Adams and Bridget Bireley


The HHS Spanish Club is inviting students to attend a Dias De Los Muertos event at Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville this Saturday (Nov. 2).

Días De Los Muertos is a celebration to honor loved ones who have passed away and to celebrate Hispanic culture.

Spanish teacher Jessica Jorge said, “Any students that are interested can come” to the 11:30 a.m. event.

Ashley Baez, a senior in the Spanish Club, said the event will be a lot of fun.

“What we do is we see the culture, how Hispanics celebrate Días De Los Muertos, and we have activities and a parade,” she said. “I think this would be perfect for the people that want to learn about Dias De Los Muertos.”

Story by Cynthia Maravilla and Gabriel Williams


Debbie Sheets, HHS STARS Counselor, sat at a table in the lunch hallway this week (Oct. 21-25) with a big plastic jar full of paper slips, a wicker basket full of bracelets and a huge poster with the names of dozens of people. 


She explained that if you pledged to be alcohol and drug free, you could write your name on a slip of paper and sign a poster to enter a raffle for a Starbucks gift card. As people would sign up, she would hand tye-dye bracelets reading “Be all you can be, drug free,” and “Believe in yourself. Do your best. Don’t give up. Stay away from drugs!”


This week, all across the nation, very similar scenes are taking place in schools.


“Red Ribbon Week is this week,” Sheets explained. “It’s a national movement to encourage young people to make good choices about alcohol and drugs.”


At HHS, a program called STARS, or Students Taking A Right Stand, heads the Red Ribbon movement. This year, the students spoke to 56 different classes about why they made the decision to be drug and alcohol free.


“One reason I choose to be drug and alcohol free is because I have had so much experience with the loss of friendships because of substance abuse,” STARS senior Emily Williams shared. “I would never want to treat someone else the way I have been treated by people who were under the influence.”


Many people told their stories. Some explained how their relationships, friendships or families were driven apart because of drugs and alcohol; some had their own lives torn apart because they used to consume them.


“It’s a really cool thing to get up in front of everybody and share your story to your peers and classmates because it might encourage them to also share,” remarked Mackenzie Perger, senior STARS leader.


STARS leaders, along with Sheets, are available to talk with and give advice to any students who may be struggling with an addiction.


Story by Sara Amis, Bailey Guy and Cailsey Scott

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