The Commando’s Ryan “el niño” Oden recently accomplished one of the rarest feats in all of baseball.


The junior pitched a no-hitter in a 10-0 win over Green Hill High School at home April 14.


“My main thoughts were to keep the ball low and on the corners,” Ryan recalled of those tense final moments.


This isn’t the first time he’s tossed a no-hitter. He said his first was when he was in Little League.


Coach Mike Hendrix said pitching a no-hitter is “very rare” at all levels of baseball.


“You don’t see it every day in the MLB (Major League Baseball), in Little League or in college baseball,” Hendrix said.


“Ryan had a great performance on the mound, and threw excellent curveballs and sliders,” Hendrix remarked.


The young pitcher said he has been working hard since July to prepare for this season. Someday he hopes to wind up in the pros.


“What motivates me is that one day I will be able to afford a big house in Miami for my brothers Luis and Carlitos,” he said.


Story by Luis Arjona

If there’s one person at HHS who likes Bojangles chicken biscuits more than anyone, it’s teacher Samuel Gilbert, who has been selling biscuits almost every Wednesday for as long as any student can remember.


He started some 15 years ago, originally selling Chick-fil-A biscuits. Over the last four years, however, Gilbert has become famous for his Bojangles biscuits, which are a staple for many students.


“What would you like?”

“One spicy, please.”

“Three dollars.”

“Thank you.”


So goes a typical exchange between Gilbert and a hungry student. However, to Gilbert, who teaches Song Writing, Creative Writing, Honors English II, and Advanced Honors English II, selling chicken biscuits is about more than tradition.


“The money goes back into different things for the community and the school,” says Gilbert as he tends to another customer.


“For instance,” he explains, “in Song Writing Club, the students will write a song, but in order to get the song recorded, we have to pay someone.” 


Gilbert is a sponsor of multiple school clubs and organizations like Song Writing Club, Creative Writing Club and Noah’s Promise. 


On a recent Wednesday, Gilbert attempted to sell 200 chicken biscuits. There have been some years in which he has sold as many as 350 in one morning, but this year, with the pandemic, he estimates that he is selling about 150 biscuits per Wednesday morning.


“Selling has been harder this year," says Gilbert. "Because students have to sit in the gym in the morning, a lot of seniors and juniors just sit in their cars."


This particular morning, by 7:35 the gym had already started to fill up with students. By then, Gilbert had sold 26 biscuits in 25 minutes of sitting in the gym.


As the 7:50 dismissal bell drew closer, the pace picked up and Gilbert sold more and more biscuits. With only about 5 minutes left, he had sold almost 80. 


After reading the book Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, Gilbert says he has noticed a correlation between students who buy Cajun spicy versus regular chicken biscuits.


“It seems like there's a weird correlation,” he explains. “The people who like the regular biscuits get here early and those who like spicy get here late.”


Although he says his theory is not perfect, Gilbert thinks that “people who procrastinate and get to school late are more prone to like spicy things.”


Oddly enough, Gilbert, who is up early every Wednesday to sell his biscuits, appears an exception to his own theory.


“Cajun. My favorite biscuit is the Cajun one. "


Story by Ricki Heerdt


Cadets marching as a unit, marksmen with rifles in hand and pellets downrange, and Raiders leaping, climbing and crawling through an obstacle course: this is the organized chaos that makes up the Hendersonville Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. 


For the last four years, one man has played a big part in making the necessary changes for this chaotic group of high school cadets to become a more organized and smooth-running group. 


Lt. Col. Jeff Stone is that man. By using his experience as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps, he has been able to make the Hendersonville High School JROTC into a better program.

Fresh out of high school in 1991, a young Lt. Col. Stone came in contact with his hometown Marine Recruiter. With heavy influence from both his father and grandfather, both of whom were Marines themselves, Lt. Col. Stone signed his first contract into the Marines as an officer.

For his first four years as a Marine, the young 2nd Lt would study Criminal Justice at West Liberty in West Virginia. Of course, as with all college students, Lt. Col. Stone didn’t just hit the books. He also wrestled in college. During his four years in college, he was able to become a three time All-American.


 As he threw his graduation cap into the air, he “didn’t know college would be where he spent the longest amount of time” in his 22-year military career.


Only a few years after graduation, Lt. Col. Stone was put into one of the very many sticky situations he would face as an officer. And like anyone new to a job, he made a few mistakes along the way.

It was a stormy day in Norway. Lt. Col. Stone’s ordnance (artillery) officer, the officer in charge of his mission, had gone back to the U.S., leaving the young Lt. Col. with the task of transporting the leftover artillery and bombs to a cave where they kept equipment of the sort.


¨I thought I would be smart. I thought about taking a young Marine and have him drive it around the (lake) on these cliffs to get to the caves, but it was too snowy, too treacherous to make the drive. So I took these kids and said, ‘let’s take the ordnance on the people’s ferry.’” 


He took the artillery and bombs on the public ferry and finally got the ordnance to the cave where it would be kept. But when his Commanding Officer found out what he did, he was threatened to be fired for almost causing an international incident. 


He had been looking out for his subordinates but disregarded the safety of the civilians who surrounded them. Looking back, Lt. Col. Stone said the experience taught him to always look beyond the moment and at the bigger picture.


During his 22 years in the Marines, he wasn't alone. Along the ride with him was his wife and four sons.


 ¨Being away from family is the hardest, but it’s also the one thing that keeps you going. I missed a lot of stuff (with my sons), I missed a lot of wrestling matches, a lot of school functions but they knew what I was doing and they were able to come on some of my tours, like Japan. Coming home from Afghanistan and seeing my kids, my family, I don't consider myself an emotional guy, but when I came home, it was a pretty emotional time.” 


After finishing his career as a Marine, Lt. Col. Stone knew he wanted to teach ROTC. He had actually been planning on working as an ROTC instructor at another school before he came to HHS. When Lt. Col. Stone did finally come here, he was excited but knew he would have his work cut out for him. After the ROTC had been run so many years with two Enlisted Marines, he saw what changes he needed to make as an officer.


Some of his first thoughts as he had walked through the compound doors were of how chaotic the program was but how blessed it was with space, supplies and gear. With these blessings, Lt. Col. Stone was able to facilitate a change from Word to Google, make the program more cadet-led, and organize the program’s supplies and gear.


“The most fun thing from the Marine Corps was having young Marines,” he said.”The best part of being a Marine is the troops, training them to lead, so I knew I wanted to do character development with young people.” 


Many of his cadets who have grown with Col. in the program have great things to say about him. Senior Darryl Smith commented that “Col. has changed the program for the better in a lot of ways. He has taken away much of the clutter, both literally and mentally, and made it more proficient.”


He has also helped make fond memories for many cadets, including senior Eithan Hillis, who shared one of his first memories of Lt. Col. Stone from his freshman year - Lt. Col. Stone’s first year teaching.


“Col. woke everyone up one morning for a Raider meet at Clarkrange. He was so big, loud and kinda scary, yelling ‘Revelry, Revelry,’” Eithan recalled.


Lt. Col. Stone has no plan of leaving any time soon. He says he enjoys the job too much.

“You get to know these kids,” he remarked. “Most teachers don't get to really know their students like we get to.”


Story by Victoria Petersen

HHS students seem split on whether to wear masks now that the county’s mask mandate has been lifted.


A stroll through the halls between classes reveals more bare faces than masked ones.


“At this point, enough people have gotten the vaccine that I think school is safe,” remarked a freshman who wished to remain anonymous. He added that the COVID infection numbers are down from where they were when the school switched to a hybrid schedule.


But others remain more cautious.


“I don’t think it was safe to end the mask mandate this early; COVID is still a thing and enough people don’t have vaccinations for it to be safe,” said freshman Lacy Robinson.


Most teachers at HHS have received the vaccine, and so have some students. But not all students are eligible for the vaccine yet, and there are many who feel safe without it and have no plans to get it.


Even during the mask mandate, students seemed divided on the issue. Since the county mandate ended April 9, the number who has chosen to ‘free their faces’ has seemed to skyrocket based on simple observation.


“I mean, if the school told me to wear a mask I’d wear it, but I feel fine without it,” one student said. “So, I choose not to.”


What’s certain, though, is that COVID can still be deadly, and those who were at-risk originally have to be extra careful now that masks are no longer required.


“My parents and sister have really bad asthma. If I got it [COVID], it wouldn’t end well,” said Adrianna Gonzalez, a sophomore.


Story by Sophie Bolen and Emma Yarbrough


In 1993, when the building that is now Hendersonville High was built, a tower was erected in front to be used for the band during the summer and for the marching band season. 


That same band tower is still out there, but it is looking quite different than it has in the past, with many of the weathered gray boards replaced with new wood. 


HHS Principal Bob Cotter said the repairs are needed.


“We’ve had a couple of repairs here and there,” Cotter said, but since the tower was built it had not had any major changes to it. 


The work on the HHS band tower is part of a county-wide effort to either replace, improve or, if needed, construct towers at schools in the county.


“The county director of maintenance has all of the band towers in the entire county on a replacement schedule,” Cotter explained. “Ours was supposed to be done (last) summer, but because of COVID and getting backed up with stuff, they didn't get it completed so they are working on it now."


Four men usually work on the tower during the school day. They take a short break for lunch, and after that they are right back at it.


The project has become a welcome distraction for students as the school year winds down and the weather turns warm.


"Somtimes I get bored in history and look out the window to see," admitted junior Liza Sircy. "I don't know what they are doing out there, but I think they are making it wider."


Not exactly, but they are building new platforms. The work is expected to be done well before the band season starts in July. 


“The main poles are still structurally sound, so they are going to use those and then they are going to build us new platforms,” Cotter said.


So in the end, the tower will retain at least part of the school's past.


Story by Jessi Wilson and Isabella Swing



With prom fast approaching (Saturday, April 24th is the big night!), students will be spending money on dresses, suits, shoes, makeup, you name it. The Ville News recently spoke with art teacher Sandy Kandros and family and consumer sciences teacher Beverly Parrott about ways to save money and still look great. Their edited remarks are below.


What are some ways students could get ready for prom without spending so much money?


Kandros: I think you get your friends to do your hair, or you even skip getting your hair done. Another way is to not go to dinner. And you can save big money by not getting a limousine.


Parrott: Dresses can be found by going to consignment shops like Second Chances in White House, and you can also save by buying or borrowing dresses from friends. There are also places where you can rent prom dresses. For hair and nails, go to a local beauty school - prices are great there for a budget. Guys can get a jacket to go with pants they already have. For dinner, eat somewhere local that is not expensive or have a group of friends get together at someone’s house. Also, there is always good food at prom.


What do you think is a reasonable amount to spend for the night?


Kandros: If I were a girl going to prom, I wouldn't spend more than $150 on a dress. There are too many places you can get dresses. There have been a lot of kids who didn't spend a ton on prom. I think kids are more sensible today than they used to be.


Parrott: People think the tickets are expensive, but they’re really not because you have to pay to help make the event. This is a one-year thing for high school students, and parents are excited for their child to enjoy it, so they tend to blow a lot of money on them.


Story by Venusa Leksono and Kennede Turnage

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