Category Archives: Feature

Students petition for school garden

Regular school lunches can become boring after a while and may not be as healthy as some students wish; however, these issues could disappear with the ideas of Wesley Quinn and Maddison Woodrum.

Quinn and his friend Woodrum were having a casual conversation during lunch about the quality of their food and up popped a vision. They both thought a garden within the school would be a great way to raise healthy fruits and vegetables for school lunches.

“[My friends and I] had the idea to get a garden to grow fruits and vegetables. We would [put] that into lunches, either into the existing lunches or a new branch of lunches where people could just buy these organic foods. It may be a bit more expensive, but I have talked to plenty of students and they are all like, ‘Yeah it would be better than the [stuff] we have now.’”

This garden would not only boost the organic, healthy side of lunches but would also make them less bland. “The special vegetable of the day,” or some other fancy name, could promote more excitement since the crops will come straight from what is grown at the high school.

This garden is not just some idea by two underclassmen; Quinn obtains an ambition many students lack. He has created a petition in order to prove to the administration that this garden is something worth fighting for.

Quinn and Woodrum are not the only ones in on this idea; their friends, freshmen Randi Mohr, Zach Pearson and sophomore Chase Radcliffe, are also behind this thought. The group hopes to expand the support to many teachers and the rest of the school.

“We have some backing from Joshua’s, Mrs. Dean, Mrs. Probst, even the freshmen principal liked the idea,” Quinn said. “We also got some of the janitors and Officer Smith [to like the proposal].”

One of the main people to consider would be the cafeteria workers.

“I actually think it would be a great idea. It would bring nice fresh vegetables to the building,” head of the cafeteria, Dianne Simko said. “We have an approved vendor in California, but it would be wonderful to have nice, healthy good quality product from the school.”

The petition Quinn created has close to 600 signatures when this epiphany just happened on Dec. 5. The number of names signed on the petition are growing rapidly, and the group hopes to get at least 1,000 signatures.

“Getting some signatures is the first step. Then we are going to go up to the people in power: the principals and the superintendent. We have enough signatures as it is, but I want to prove to the people in charge that [students] are really backing up this idea. We want to say that [people] love this idea.”

Although signatures are the primary step, it may be the most important; however, they also had to plan out the idea even further than just names and a garden.

One thought for the future had to consist of placement of such a garden and how they would go about year round production.

“I personally wish for it to be in the back [of the school]. We have plenty of space. We want a greenhouse style, since most of the school year is in the winter,” Quinn said.

If this greenhouse were to happen, students may question what crops would actually be planted for the lunches. The group of friends hopes to plant many different options such as cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and much more.

Another commonly asked question deals with where the money and supplies for this cause would come from. Quinn suggested fundraising, donations and volunteering to help construct and purchase the supplies needed.

Though many student could help or volunteer, they hope to form a “student run club” of sorts and Quinn’s first thought was to possibly call themselves “the Greenhouse Gardeners.”

This “club” are willing to include everyone.

“The idea is to have a main group of students who are running it but also have volunteers. If you would want to come in, please, by all means,” Quinn said. “We would love any help and it is a good thing to know how to provide for yourself.”

This is all hypothetical as of now, but still thinking ahead, there are many benefits and extensions from this garden.

“Composting was an idea a health teacher gave us, we could put food bins outside the lunch room and the cooking rooms,” Quinn said. “Another idea was, if we could get this at the high school, we could get it at Lakeview, Kimpton or even Woodland.”

There may also be extra produce, which could be canned to last longer, sold or even given to hunger shelters and the homeless.

“We could sell fresh vegetables instead of chocolate, [since] we have a big market in the community,” Simko said.

This potential club hopes to have some solid support and concrete ideas by spring, so if anyone is interested, sign the paper or brainstorm some thoughts with the group.

“Helping us out is helping out the next years [to come],” Quinn said. “If we can start this [now], then we will be helping out next year’s [students].”

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Sports traditions around the country

Many schools all the over the United States have unique sports traditions that are similar to the high school.

For instance, at C.E Jordan High School in Durham, North Carolina, their marching band takes the field at half time in halloween costumes, a tradition that started in the 1980s when homecoming fell on halloween. Even though homecoming is not always on halloween for Jordan High, the costumes  are always worn during the homecoming game.

At Cupertino High School in Cupertino, California, the water polo teams catches everyone by surprise. After their king and queen are crowned at half time, the team runs to the corner of the stadium and across the field in nothing but speedos.

West Stokes High School in King, North Carolina, has their cheerleaders do pushups for every point on the scoreboard after a touchdown. They also throw peanuts and stuffed footballs to make the crowd “Go nuts for the Cats” during boring parts of the game.

A more local school, Hudson High School, also has some unique traditions.

Before each game there is a pasta dinner for the team.

When the Explorers score a touchdown, children ring the “Explorer bell.”

At the end of the season, flag boys pick the “super-fans” for next year. Explorer girls paint letters and then at the end give them away to an upcoming senior.

Another high school, Archbishop Hoban, has a quite interesting tradition.

Before Hoban plays their rival, St. Vincent-St. Mary, they spend their entire school day in complete silence. The night before that, all of the seniors stay overnight and decorate the school.

This became known as Mum Day, and it has been happening for over 50 years. It started in 1962 when Student Council wanted to do something to increase spirit, and ever since then, it stuck.

They also have a collection of cheers to do during their game, and they do spirit fingers before kickoff.

Hoban senior Emily Dunn said, “I love the traditions we have at Hoban. It unifies us as a student body and really builds spirit no matter what the scoreboard says.”

The high school does an especially good job on keeping the entire school unified before and after the games.

Student Council kept the student body involved on picking the spirit day themes for homecoming week by tweeting out ideas.

The school organized a Davenport Derby and holds  a homecoming festival filled with a parade, food trucks and games.

The band drum line plays cadences every day after school during homecoming week in a different location each day.

On other Fridays besides homecoming, sometimes there is a tailgate beforehand. There are always cadences held on Fridays near the auditorium.

Homecoming game or not, there is always something going on before football games.

During the football games, the student section chants multiple cheers, and they jump up and down on the bleachers before kickoff, much like Hoban does spirit fingers.

When the team scores, a senior boy does as many push ups as there are points on the board. This is extremely similar to the way the West Stokes High School cheerleaders do push ups.

The senior girls and boys are the only ones who lack a spot on the bleachers because they stand along the fence. They also paint letters on to themselves, much like Hudson, even though this is against dress code.

“Certain traditions exist that we try to honor. I would never debate with [these traditions]. Because it is tradition it is acceptable,” Principal DiMaruo said.

Many schools have traditions that are similar to others and some that are unique. Either way, no matter the location, all schools hold one thing in common- the unity to their team and to each other.

Elec Simon inspires students with music

Every year, the high school invites someone to speak to the students. In past years, motivational speakers have included men like Marc Elliot and Jeff Yalden, but this year was like no other.

Self-taught musician, Elec Simon, spent his morning at the high school on Thurs., Oct 16.

Simon began his journey on Broadway, performing with STOMP, a music and theatrical performance combination, when he was just at the age of 22. Simon still occasionally performs with STOMP, marking 2014 as his tenth year working with the musical program. Since then, he has branched out.

Simon travels to schools to send a message to students. He talks less about an “anti-bullying” message and more about life itself.

“[Elec] really had a great message. He made us all think about how grateful we should be for the things in our lives and made us all realize that we don’t know what a person’s situation until you really get to know them,” junior Taylor Calvert said.

Simon was inspired by tragedy. When he was 16, he received the news of his best friend’s death. While his name was unmentioned, Simon says he does these presentations in honor of his friend who was bullied into taking his own life.

“Kids are mean nowadays, and respect is the number one issue,” Simon said. “Kids are dying and committing suicide, and the kids might get picked on, and they don’t tell the teacher and the next morning they wake up and hear about that kid blowing their brains out. Treat people right. It’s that simple.”

After working with STOMP full time, Simon made a decision while at a hotel in Lima, Peru.

“I left [STOMP] on my own,” Simon said. “I was like it’s time for me to go to schools and stuff like that so that’s when I left the show because I felt I had to give back and do something to help these kids.”

Simon reaches out to students with music. It is a way to get people involved and interested in what he is saying.

“I use music as bait to pull the kids in,” Simon said. “Like with the elementary kids, it’s tough…. A lot of people can come in and do assemblies, but… how can you get the kids attention?”

People were definitely intrigued by Simon’s association with music.

“[Elec] was different than any other speaker, which made him entertaining,” sophomore Gianna Flasco said.

Simon spoke about his life, telling stories and playing music. He says everyone should smile and speak nicely to others because kindness could change their mood completely.

“There’s always going to be someone mad at the world because they’re mad at their life,” Simon said.

Most students were very pleased by the show Simon put on.

“[Elec was] by far the best speak Stow has had since I have been here,” junior Taylor Calvert said.

Listening to Simon’s message inspired many of the students in several different ways.

“I think he taught us that believing in ourselves gets us extremely far and that you need to not worry about what other people think and just be yourself,” Calvert said.

Simon hopes students will remember not to “let anyone tell you can’t do anything. You want something? Go get it.”

Gym teacher Shaun Fennell shares his secret hobby

Although many students tend to think their teachers do not have a life outside of school, often times teachers have interesting, and unexpected hobbies and talents. The majority of teachers also do not tell their students their secret passions.

Take gym teacher Shaun Fennell, for example, who plays the drums in his free time. Fennell has been playing for a while.

“I have been playing the drums on and off since I was about 5 years old,” Fennell said.

Any musician will say they have a reason or overall inspiration as to why they play music and why they chose the instrument they play. Sometimes, a musician’s inspiration is based off of personal experiences or important people in their lives.

“I started playing the drums because my dad was in a band and music was always on in my house,” Fennell said. “We had drums in our basement since the day I was born and have just always been interested in them.”

Playing an instrument is a lifelong skill. Being able to play an instrument will never be unneeded.. There will always be a need for people who can play instruments.

Fennell also said he was inspired and likes to play the drums because he “will be able to do it [his] entire life, unlike playing football or baseball.”

There are a vast amount of people who are inspired by music to express themselves, so they can express themselves. Most musicians say the only way they know how to express themselves is through playing an instrument.

“I just love that people can express themselves through music,” said Fennell.

Being in bands is common amongst musicians. When a performer is in a band, they often tend to improve often because they practice frequently.“I have never been in a band but would love to one day play at least one song live on stage. Mostly I just play as a hobby to relieve stress and have fun. A buddy of mine who plays the guitar and I have played together. We learned a couple of Metallica songs and can play them pretty good,” said Fennell.

Although being in a band is not necessary, without being in a band, someone can still be a musician and enjoy doing what you do.

Fennell also said, “I would like to eventually be in a band but it is not something that I need to do. I am satisfied just playing every now and then in my basement as a hobby.”

Some players choose to stick to a certain instrument and focus on it. While musicians can play multiple instruments, not all do.

“When I was in fifth grade I played the trumpet, but was bored with it and that’s when I first started taking drum lessons. Like I said before, the drums were always around growing up. I would hear my dad play and I just loved the sound and the beats. I never really had an interest in any other instrument,” said Fennell.

A musician’s style is the genre or type of music they play the majority of the time. Normally a musician is known for their special style that is usually unique to that specific individual and their style cannot be found anywhere else.

“My favorite thing to play is a hard rock song or just creating my own beats,” said Fennell.

Musicians’ styles are often based off their favorite band or artist, song, and genre of music they enjoy listening to. Not only do musicians get their style off of their favorite music inspirations, musicians often pick styles that fit what they like to play.

“My favorite band growing up was Metallica and Nirvana they were really big in my high school days. My favorite song of all time would have to be One by Metallica. I used to listen to only hard rock growing up. Now as an adult, I listen to many different genres and I am finding new artists that I really like. Right now I am really into Reggae Rock and just recently went to a concert to see one of my new favorite bands,” said Fennell.

The longer someone has been playing a certain instrument, and with the proper amount of practice given, the better the musician will likely be. Although the number of years been playing does not always determine how good someone is at playing that particular instrument.

“I’ve taken lessons on and off for about five years. Some when I was younger and some as an adult. Most recently was about three years ago but I had to stop because my first son was born and we started to get really busy as a family. I do plan on taking lesson [again] in the near future,” said Fennell

Even though quantity does not always mean better quality, it often relies on how much the musician practices.

“I would label myself as an okay drummer. I can play pretty much anything as long as I have the time to practice. At this point in my life, I am pretty rusty because I have not played or practiced in a few years, just because I am very busy being a father and husband,” Fennell said.

While being a musician full time and attempting to go professional takes dedication, and luck to succeed in, most musicians have a “backup” career or an average job. Most musicians work normal, everyday jobs during the week, and come home and play their instruments on the weekends.

“In order to be a professional drummer, your entire life would be playing the drums. Growing up I was interested in many different things, like sports, and did not practice or have the drive to dedicate my life to becoming a professional.” Fennell said.

Playing an instrument is not the easiest thing to do, so many admire musicians for that reason. Some students realize how difficult it is to master certain instruments, and admire Fennell for being able to play the drums as well as he does.

“I feel that it’s really cool that he is a drummer, and that means he has great upper body strength,” sophomore Andrew Rodgers said.

Students who are just finding out about Fennell’s unknown hobby are blow away and completely shocked Fennell had not told anyone about his hobby. Fennell’s students had no idea he could play the drum and they completely love it that he plays the drums.

“Fennell’s secret hobby is the most amazing thing ever. That just raises his rank on the best teacher ever chart,” sophomore Kayla Haren said.