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

Theater students have been practicing for about two months for the school play “A-Haunting We Will Go,” and their first performance is just about here.


The play, a mystery/comedy, will open 8:45 a.m. Wednesday (Oct. 31) in a special performance for students. Public performances will be Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for the school show and $8 for the public shows.

The play is about a TV producer, Norma, who went to a hotel often as a child. She’s going back as an adult one last time before it is torn down, but she begins seeing crazy creatures magically appearing.

Juniors Carly Lancaster and Avery Howell will be switching off as Norma each night.

Senior Kyra Ankrom is directing the play with assistance from theater teacher Laurie Kerhoulas-Brown, or Mrs. KB as she’s commonly known.

Kyra has been a theater student all four years of high school and has decided to study it in college. She has a strong desire to direct, and Mrs. KB was happy to step aside and give her that opportunity.

“Kyra has done a superb job… [She] has worked extremely well with her peers in a leadership role and they in turn have shown great respect for someone new in charge. The  actors’ work has been excellent, as well,” Mrs. KB said.

Kyra’s responsibilities include casting the play, creating the stage movements, and making sure everyone knows their lines. Kyra also has worked directly with the technical director, musicians, and stagecraft class to build the set based on how she’s imagined it.

“I’m kind of like the mom of the play,” Kyra joked.

The HHS theater department puts on a straight play in the fall and a musical in the spring each year. Theater teacher Carol Ann Everson is already working on “Mary Poppins” for next semester.

Mrs. KB said the HHS productions are a great opportunity for students to experience live theater.

 “Not a lot of people get to see that in their lifetime if they’re not inclined to that,” she said, “so to be able to see a script brought to life on stage is a great opportunity, and we’re thankful that Mr. Cotter allows us to do that.”

Story by Isabella McBride

HHS’ annual canned food drive has stirred up more than donations this year.

Principal Bob Cotter sent a heated email to staff Wednesday (Oct. 24) to address a “terrible rumor” going around that some classes are not participating in the drive “because there are no incentives for students or teachers.”

“Can you believe that! I told those that have brought it to my attention that there is NO WAY that can be possible as HHS has always been satisfied with the INCENTIVE that we are helping our own community prosper!!” the principal wrote.

Cotter’s news riled some staff. Wellness teacher Stacia Dean sent a public reply in which she admonished teachers who may not be participating because of the lack of incentives.

“I am very ashamed of this email!!!,” Dean wrote. “Obviously, we have teachers in our building that have never been hungry? I HAVE BEEN HUNGRY and if you need to hear my story feel free to contact me.  

“Here is an incentive for you... how about YOU go for a weekend or even a day without eating,” she wrote, closing with, “… as you are picking up dinner tonight at your local restaurant, how about you pick up some canned food” for those less fortunate.

In an interview Thursday, Dean said the rumor “upset me tremendously.” She said everyone in the school should want to help others in need, regardless of incentives.

The HHS canned food drive began Monday and runs through Friday (Oct. 22-26). The drive helps feed people at the Samaritan Center in Hendersonville. HHS gathered 66,000 cans of food last year, and the goal is to surpass 75,000 this year. Organizers said they will not have totals for this year’s drive until Saturday.

Story by Sloane Wright, Kiya Whitlow, Isabella Logue, Brittney Towe, Brinson Martin



Criminal Justice teacher Tabitha Fitzwilson is dealing with a widespread cheating incident that involves multiple blocks of her class.

Fitzwilson said she noticed students in one block nudging each other and looking down at their phones during a recent test.

According to Fitzwilson, in preparation for the test, she had given students a study guide identical to the test. Some apparently took a picture of the study guide and passed it around, she said.

The teacher also received a tip that students in another block had cheated in the same way on the same test. When confronted, she said, several students in the block also confessed to using their phones to cheat.

Fitzwilson said she was disappointed to say the least.

 “Students aren’t really accountable for their own actions, it kind of just gets pushed under the rug, so they think they can do it,” she said.

As a result, Fitzwilson said both classes are “retaking the test until everybody gets an 80 percent or higher. So far, we have taken it three times.”

Her students also now have to place their phones in a bucket until class is over.

Story by Savannah Kane and Lillie Franks



A drug bust gone wrong turned into a week of remembrance and a way of helping students stay away from drugs and alcohol.

Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, agent who was killed in a drug bust in Mexico in the 1980s.

In honor of his fight against drugs, his friends and family wore red badges, thus leading to Red Ribbon Week, which wrapped up at HHS on Friday (Oct. 26).

HHS has been participating in the Red Ribbon Campaign since it began in 1988.

“Schools across the country recognize Red Ribbon Week" as a way to help fight against alcohol and drug abuse, said Debbie Sheets, the STARS (Students Taking A Right Stand) leader at HHS. "Our county has been really active with Red Ribbon.” 

Schools across Sumner County participate by doing activities and awareness campaigns. At HHS, there were dress-up days and STARS peer leaders, students who pledge to refrain from drugs and alcohol, visited classes around the school to share their stories of why they’ve chosen to stay alcohol and drug-free.

“We found that to be the most successful thing - peers talking to peers about why they chose not to, instead of us, as adults, telling them not to," Sheets said.

Story by Kyra Hodge



HHS Principal Bob Cotter sat down for a recent interview with The Ville News and shared his thoughts on several topics, including drug testing, the new attendance policy, Juuls, and Commando Time. His edited responses are below. As we began, we couldn’t help but notice something different about him this school year, and we had to ask.


Q: You look like you have lost some weight. How much did you lose and how did you do it?

 A: Yes, I have lost weight, thank you for noticing! I needed to have it done all along, so I’ve been sticking to a certain number of carbs per meal. I've done it through portion control, less indulging, and exercise. I’ve lost 40 pounds, and I’ve gone from a 42 to a 38 waist. It’s been good, I feel good about it.


Q: Why are only student-athletes chosen for drug testing? Wouldn’t it be fairer to do random testing of all students?

A: In theory it seems like it should be that way, but it’s not. Students in a sport know upfront that they signed up for random drug testing, but as a general student you don’t expect to be randomly tested just because you are walking the halls (Mr. Cotter explained that this is a federal rule determined by federal court cases, not one set by the school, county, or state). Drug testing is not used to catch people. It’s there to give people a reason to say ‘no.’ If someone is experiencing peer pressure they can say ‘No, I want to be able to play Friday,' or 'No, I want to be a part of the team.'


Q: What is your opinion on the new attendance policy?

A: It was approved at the school board level, so I don’t have much of a say. It appears to be helping. I don’t think parents realize how much they call up here to dismiss students. We’re now judged, as a school, on attendance rate and chronic absenteeism. If you miss 10 percent of the school year, which is 18 days, you are considered chronically absent. Even if it’s a medical issue, the state only sees it as you being absent for 10 percent of the instructional time. So if you come in before 11:16 or after 11:44, it’s unexcused, unless you have a verified note (one from a doctor or a dentist – not from a parent).



Q: Are Juuls a problem at HHS, and if so, how are you dealing with it?

A: Yes, they are a problem. The punishment for being in possession of one will cause you to have ISS for three days. Next year, the punishment might increase to being an out-of-school suspension since it is a big enough problem at HHS and at the other schools in the county. Principals from all the high schools in the county are discussing this. If the punishment is changed (and Mr. Cotter said he expects this to happen), it probably won’t take effect until next school year.


Q: Why did you move Commando Time to after lunch? Has the move been successful?   

A: We were having a lot of trouble with people out of class and at the vending machines. Moving it to after lunch gives everyone the chance to go to the bathroom and to eat lunch. We were just hoping to see better results. It appears that it is helping.



Q: Why do some sports get more attention from the administration than others?

A: The TSSAA requires that there be an administrator and a pregame meeting for football, basketball and soccer. The other sports just depend on how many people attend, what time of day it is, and how many different directions the administrators are being pulled. There are five of us and lots of things going on. If TSSAA required us to be at every one of them, we would figure out a way to do it. We just try to get to as much as we can. It doesn’t have anything to do with one sport being more important than the other.


Q: Some students wonder about Advisory. What is the purpose of it, and do you see it ever going away? Do you think it is useful?

A: Advisory was designed so that every student in the building would have an adult they could connect with all four years. It also allows us to do things we may not have time to do in other ways. When scheduling needs to be done and information needs to be shared, Advisory gives us an opportunity to do it. I do not see Advisory going away because we need the extra time.


Q: What was your reaction to the ACT being canceled?

A: Frustration. Everyone puts a lot of time into it and working their schedules around it. This was the first year we were giving everyone a chance to practice testing. Grades 9-11 were given the opportunity to practice while the seniors were testing. Because the dates were moved, we had several shipping issues with the ACT which has caused extra problems for principals. Now, it’s scheduled for Oct. 30 because I didn’t feel like coming back from fall break and doing the test.



Q: Why aren’t students allowed to leave campus for lunch? Will this ever change?

A: I don’t think it will ever change. For one, Dr. Phillips, the director of schools, is not in favor of having an open campus where you can come and go at lunch. It’s a safety issue. Your parents expect you to be here at school, on campus, and us to know where you are. If your parent comes up here to check you out for a doctor’s appointment and I can’t find you, I’ve breached their trust.



Q: What is the most common reason students get in trouble?

A: IDs, believe it or not. And then, behind that, it’s tardies and out-of-area violations.



Q: Why are administrators so picky about IDs and what are the consequences for not wearing them?

A: Well, they’re about safety. With all the things that can happen in a school, we need to know who’s in the building. There are over 1,500 students in the school, and no one can possibly know each and every student. But if you’ve got an ID on, we at least know you’re supposed to be in here. Just like when adults have to have a sticker. It’s not enough to carry it, you have to have it on. If you don’t have it on, it typically is a detention, and if it becomes a repeated issue, it becomes in-school suspension because it’s considered an act of disrespect.

Story by The Ville News staff

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