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NORTH ST R Issue 5, Volume 27 Blue Valley North Overland Park, KS Dec. 14, 2012


enior Collin Smith spiraled into a crippling drug addiction, relapsed after rehab, and is now searching for the direction his future will take. Read his story on pages 8-9.


News • Dec. 14, 2012 • N

December News Briefs

Debate team takes first


or the past few years, the debate team has been at the top of the charts of one of the National Forensic League’s strongest high school teams, but it wasn’t until recently that the team made it to number one. Though the chart fluctuates every week, making it to the very top marked an achievement for the debate team, and sparked some excitement amongst students. The number-one spot has also gained the team some recognition: it was featured on 41 Action News in November. A reporter

from the station came to North to interviewcoach Steven Wood and student debaters about their success. The debate team was also featured in The Kansas City Star in October when student debaters were interviewed about the election. Due to the team’s national ranking, The Star reached out to the students on the team to get their perspective on the presidential debates. Though currently back to second place, the team has more state and regional competitions ahead.

Freshmen Tucker Scanlon and Mark Nail search for debate evidence. “Once you’re done with debate someone can tell you anything and you can argue against it. You feel like you can disprove fact.” Scanlon said. Photo by Daniel Traub.

Auctions for awareness

W Junior Hannah Bergwell held an art show, which included many of her own pieces, as well as the art of many other artists. All pieces got bids, some of which received bids over $100 per piece. Photo by Hayley Berger.

ith the money raised from her popular shoepainting business, junior Hannah Bergwell put together an art show Nov. 30 raising money for the Autism Speaks Foundation. The show featured Bergwell’s art, as well as the art of many other BVN students, all for sale in a silent auction. “I was really very happy with how it turned out. The number of the

people that came to support it was really great. And the whole thing was just a big success. Every single piece that was on display got a bid, so that was really exciting,” Bergwell said. The bids and donations collected at the show totalled $7,700, all of which will be donated to Autism Speaks. The show was open to everyone, including students from other schools and teachers, many of whom attended and bid on the art. Hayley Berger • Feature Editor•

[Ashley answers it all]

Student’s death stuns community, promotes change of heart


wo weeks ago, I attended the funeral of Tyler Rathbun, a Shawnee Mission East High School senior who died in an ATV accident over Thanksgiving weekend. I went to support a friend of mine who was very close to Tyler, even though I had never met him myself. I didn’t grasp how great of an impact Tyler had made on the community until I saw what might have been a thousand people fill that church. Four of Tyler’s best friends and his

brother spoke, and the tears began pouring down my face. They talked of how humble Tyler was, how his playful smirk brought a smile to everyone’s face and the joy he brought to an entire community. Alex Rathbun, Tyler’s older brother, spoke last. He brought with him some prepared remarks, but set them aside for one quote. It was from Jim Valvano, a college basketball legend who passed away from cancer in 1993. It ran: “To me, there are three things we

all should do every day... Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy...That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” It was a sad day for thousands of people across the country; but the reverend said something that changed the tone of the funeral. He said that Tyler’s death was a tragedy; it was not

“Take Jimmy V’s advice: live, think, laugh and cry.”

a good thing, but good could come out of it. This funeral was not just a celebration of Tyler’s life, but a reminder. A reminder to everyone in the church, everyone watching online, everyone impacted by this tragedy, that we are not untouchable. Tyler is proof of how far one’s kindess can reach, and his tragic story is telling of how much of a difference one kid can make. This may sound cliche, but we do take life for granted, and we really don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone. Take Jimmy V’s advice: live, think, laugh and cry. Life’s too short not to. Ashley Ruben • News Editor •

Back on the ball



• Dec. 14, 2012 • Sports

[Open House]

Players carry on basketball dynasty

old out crowds, 3-point buzzer beaters and a third place state title characterized last year’s season of boys basketball. This winter, the team is back and ready to reestablish North as a powerhouse in Kansas high school basketball. While the Mustangs have been top two in the preseason rankings, some worry that the loss of several of last year’s starters will be a barrier to the team’s success. However, varsity coach Ryan Phifer doesn’t believe this will stand in the way. “We have a new team and identity to build on this year,” Phifer said. “We have Scott Edwards, who was a starter, and Jawan Emery and Matt McHugh started several games during the year. Danny Weston, Cory Taubin and Cooper Cook all lettered as well. We’ve got a lot of those returning guys. This is a special group of kids. They work hard, and I think they understand that the opportunity [for a state title] is there.” Returning starter senior Scott Edwards also believes the team’s potential will carry it to victory. “We have a lot of team chemistry,” Edwards said. “We have seven seniors on the team this year, so our chemistry as seniors is good. In the long run, I think it’ll help us.” One aspect expected to carry over is the intense rivalry between North and BVNW. “Both teams are what everyone considers the top two teams in the state in the pre-season,” Phifer said. “Everyone’s looking at maybe the two of us battling for conference title, and also maybe being right there at the end to battle for the state title.” “[Northwest] returned four guys that got pretty good experience last year, and in the coaches’ poll they were number one in the state,” Edwards said. “They’re thought to be better than usual this year.”

Though last year’s rivalry became heated, Phifer believes the passion of fans energized players during the games. “I think that’s fun for the district; it’s fun for the area,” he said. “Those games last year were the best atmosphere you can have in high school athletics. Hopefully we can have that continued throughout the whole year.” In fact, crowd attendance and energy is a crucial element the team relies on for success. “When [the players] feed off the energy of the crowd and they see the crowd there, I think it fires them up to play even harder than they normally play,” Phifer said. Phifer’s beliefs are echoed by Edwards, who also cites the crowd atmosphere as a boost to the team’s performance. Senior shooting guard Scott Edwards sinks a 3-point shot during the first “It means everything game of the season against Olathe East. Photo by Alex Scimecca. that and continuing to build every to have a big crowd day, we’ll put ourselves in a position there and know to win the conference and hopefully you have the win our sub-state and get back to the support of the state tournament. If we continue to school behind get better every day and play every you,” Edwards game with that goal in mind, I really said. “It gets the like our chances.” team energized and makes the team “We think we have a good chance want to play harder for the students to get back to state, and even to win that came to watch us.” state,” Edwards said. “It’s gonna be a With sub-state and state goals in mind, the team is continuously trying tough road to get there and a lot of hard work, but we definitely have the to be its best. “Our goals are to be playing our best potential to win state this year.” basketball at the end of the season,” Sarah Evans • Co-Editor In Chief • Phifer said. “Hopefully if we’re doing

“We definitely have the potential to win state this year.”


Sydney House • Sports Editor •

Looking Back


n high school, it’s easy to get caught up in the monotony of everyday life. We are focused on deadlines for assignments, upcoming tests and our plans for the weekend. As this year comes to a close, we should re-evaluate what we truly want to get out of our high school experience. North alumni share their regrets and advice on what they wish they had done in high school.


“I should have gotten better grades and studied a lot harder. Overall I wish I would have taken academics more seriously,” 2011 graduate Reid Waldman said. “I wish that I would have branched out more and made more close friends from different groups,” 2012 graduate Sarah Jurgensmeyer said. “I should have done something more adventurous and broken out of the Johnson County bubble more. I regret not taking AP chemistry. It is easier to learn in a class of 30 than in a lecture of 500 in college,” 2011 graduate Mike Widrig said.


“Take more AP classes or JCCC classes because you can save a lot of money and time in college,” 2011 graduate Andrew Borowick said. “Care less about what other people think and just do your thing. No one will care what you do after high school,” 2011 graduate Mike Widrig said. “Relax and have fun. Live in the moment,” 2010 graduate Amanda Helmker said. “You need to have the study skills that you have acquired in high school in order to succeed in college,” 2011 graduate Reid Waldman said.


November 16, 2012 issue: Shea Flanagan UCONN

04 Girls transcend lacrosse stereotypes “W Sports • Dec. 14, 2012 • N

hen I sprint down the field and dodge around my opponents who try to steal the ball away from me, I don’t even notice how exhausted I am. I just get an adrenaline rush from running down the field,” junior Emily Antonenko said. Antonenko started playing lacrosse her freshman year when lacrosse became more popular in Minnesota. But what started out as “something fun to do” turned into a passion. “I love the challenge of the game and that no play is exactly the same. I fell in love with lacrosse, and I can’t imagine not playing the sport,” Antonenko said. However, not everyone is as enthralled with lacrosse. “Many people think of lacrosse as girls just hitting each other with lacrosse sticks. They think it is less of a skills sport and that it is considered

manly,” freshman Andrea Corr said. Corr and Antonenko explain that this stereotype is false. “Lacrosse seems to be perceived this way because the media has displayed it that way,” Corr said. “Lacrosse actually involves a lot of drills and technique training. I do stick drills and practice cradling and passing often. Running is also a huge part of my training because endurance is very important,” Antonenko said. The game includes a goalie, three defenders, four midfielders and three attackers. “I usually play center field and do the faceoff at the beginning of each game and after we score; the face off is similar to a faceoff in hockey or a tipoff in basketball,” Antonenko said. Last year Antonenko, junior Elizabeth Martino, freshman Kimberly Apuzzo, and junior Molly

Adams were the only North athletes on the Blue Valley district lacrosse team that competes in the spring. “If you want to play for the district team, please come talk to me about it. There are videos online where you can learn how to cradle and pass,” Antonenko said. The team practices at the Overland Park Soccer complex and the turf football field at the DAC. The team,competes against Notre Dame De Sion, Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit North, St. Teresa’s and travels to St. Louis for a tournament to play teams outside of Kansas. “The best feeling is when I see the ball on the ground and there’s an opening for me to steal it. I love scooping the ball into my lacrosse stick and breaking out into an all out dash toward the goal,” Corr said.

Sydney House • Sports Editor •

Freshman Andrea Corr cradles the ball in her lacrosse stick while after school on the turf. Photo by Erika Brown

Athlete of the Month: Swimmer exceeds expectations


enior Forrest Wilms did not expect to love swimming when he started, but he later found that he’d stumbled upon one of his greatest passions. “I started swimming freshman year,” Wilms said. “I wanted to get in shape for baseball season, and I also just wanted to be physically fit. I heard swimming was a good sport to do.” Although baseball was his original sport of choice, Wilms quit after freshman year and decided to join a swim club team to pursue his newfound passion. “I joined Blazers after freshman year,” Wilms said. “I just wanted to do that to stay in shape throughout the season, and maybe drop a couple seconds in certain events. Club teams just keep me swimming and that’s why I like them.” His passion for the sport aside, Wilms has made an impact on the team since his first year. “Forrest doesn’t give up,” swimming coach Derek Berg said. “His freshman year he did several endurance sets

“I’ve broken a lot of personal goals,” Wilms said. “My sophomore year it was to break a minute in the 100 free, and then last year it was to be considered for state.” This year, Wilms plans on making it into the state championships, a goal predicated on years of hard Senior swim captain Forrest Wilms dedicates 27 hours a week to train for the work. swim team. Photo by Erika Brown. “Forrest isn’t somebody that really relies on actual with a lot of the varsity swimmers. ability,” Berg said. “He works hard Even though he wasn’t as fast, he for everything he gets. He started his didn’t quit, and that really stuck freshman year on a JV level and he’s out. He just had a drive and a fought his way up to where he is.” determination that was above and It was these qualities that led Berg beyond what a lot of the athletes were to make Wilms one of the swim team showing.” captains. That drive has led Wilms to push “I guess there’s pressure being himself to new heights in his captain, but it’s fun, I enjoy it,” Wilms swimming career.

said. “I mean, I feel like I have to be better than I was the previous years, but I guess I’ve put myself under that.” It’s this tendency to push himself that has impressed both the coach and his teammates. “He has my respect,” junior Logan Paul said. “Whenever he has a goal, he sets it, and he gets it. Forrest is great at what he does, he’s great at team captain, and he’s a great swimmer too.” “He has earned everything that he has gotten,” Berg said. “I think that between his work ethic and his character, [Forrest has] shown great leadership.” And it’s this leadership and determination that led Wilms to discover more about himself. “[Swimming has] definitely been a life-changing kind of thing,” Wilms said. “It taught me how to dig within myself to finish, and it taught me more about myself than I really knew.”

Rachel Strohkorb • Staff Writer •

05 Activist opens the door to kindness “K N

• Dec. 14, 2012 • Feature

Shanahan’s devotion to doing a good deed motivated him not only to hold the door, but also to engage in conversation with the kids that walk by daily. Zoey Lidberg, a sophomore who attends Shanahan’s church and walks out through the pool entrance, said that her conversations with him have made an impact on her. “He’s the nicest kid I’ve ever met and continues to be nice despite the fact that he isn’t recognized by some,” sophomore Zoey Lidberg said. Shanahan continues his act of kindness in the hopes that he can brighten students’ days and show his appreciation for God. “If I can spend even a split second of my time and ask how their day was and tell them to have a good day, I want to do it,” Shanahan said. While the compliments and conversation came with holding the door, Shanahan didn’t realize the number of people that he could come to know from this simple gesture.

“I’m surprised by how many people know me and by the number of people that I have met from it,” Shanahan said. Shanahan’s experience of spreading kindness has led him to consider a future in the ministry. “I have thought about going into the mission field and becoming a youth minister and taking mission trips around the world to different countries to help people in poverty,” Shanahan said. Shanahan hopes to make a difference on a large scale, and feels he has already begun to make one through his devotion to God. “Alex is an amazing student striving to seek the Lord in all he does,” Overland Park Baptist minister Jonathan Lock said. “The first Bible verse that comes to mind is, ‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’”

riginal movie scripts are getting harder to find as sequels and film adaptations of books gain popularity. Movies such as “The Hunger Games” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” have received praise from critics and moviegoers alike. Less well-known, however, are the movies based on classic books. Here are three that you can see over winter break.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Dec. 14) ine years after the release of the last “Lord of the Rings” film, the first part of the prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s series is coming to theatres. “Lord of the Rings” fans Photo from anticipate the opportunity to return to another world. “I like ‘The Hobbit’ because the characters are really interesting, and the author has a good style,” freshman Miranda Deblauwe said. “‘Lord of the Rings” gets away from reality, it seeps into this fairy tale-ish smorgasbord of goodness. It’s good in itself,” junior Noah Pesquera said.

indness is like a fire, one act is enough to spark wildfire,” sophomore Alex Shanahan said. When Shanahan was a freshman, he began holding the pool entrance door for his friends every day after his seventh hour PE class. “My youth minister from Overland Park Baptist talked about finding something that you could do to

glorify God at school, and when I had seventh hour PE in that hall, I came to the realization that holding the door could be my good deed,” Shanahan said. The habit stuck even after the class ended, as Shanahan continued to hold the door for kids walking out every day after school as a way to give back to both the community and God. “I don’t care about kids’ reactions, I do it from the heart, and I do it for God,” Shanahan said. At first kids did not understand his motivation, but Shanahan said that people have come to appreciate his act of kindness. “It’s interesting to see how doing something so little for While sophomore Alex Shanahan holds the door for many students, someone can mean so sophomore Wyatt Osterhage stops and thanks him for his good deed. “All I’m trying to do is glorify God through kindness,” Shanahan said. Photo by much to him or her,” Erica Emert Shanahan said.

Sakshi Mahajan • Staff Writer •

Classic stories hit the silver screen


“Life of Pi”

(Nov. 21) ife of Pi,” by Yann Martel, tells the story of 16-yearold Piscine Molitor ("Pi") Patel, a boy who becomes stranded on Photo from a boat with a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck. “I like [“Life of Pi’s”] spiritual aspect,” social studies teacher Bill Davis said. “Pi follows several different religions, just because he loves God. Each time I read it I discover a new spiritual aspect that I hadn’t noticed before.”


“Les Misèrables” (Dec. 25)


ictor Hugo’s 1862 novel has been turned into both a musical and a film. This adaptation, however, marks the first time that the classic has become a moviemusical. Sophomores in Honors Communication Arts II can go see this movie to celebrate after they finish reading the novel for school. “I loved the book, and I’ve seen the musical and I loved that. I’m going to be crying the entire time,” sophomore Linzi Oppenheimer said. “I’ve seen ‘Les Mis’ 25 plus times in New York, London, Kansas City. It affected me so profoundly I swore to myself I would try to see it at every possible opportunity,” gifted teacher Michele Buche said. “‘Les Mis,’ to me, shows the extremes of the human

condition, the human heart at its best, the human heart at its worst. It shows in the policeman Javert how bitterness can ruin a life, and through the priest’s actions– he gave Jean Valjean undeserved mercy, and that mercy changed Jean Valjean. That mercy touches my heart. That’s what art should do, it should touch your heart and make you a better person.” Photo from


Emily Levinson • Staff Writer •


Feature • Dec. 14, 2012 • N





ith the end of the Mayan calendar, and presumably the world, in seven days, it might be time to work on your apocalypse survival plan. Rest assured; by following these simple preparation steps, you will drastically increase your chances of surviving in an apocalyptic scenario, whether the world is beset by aliens, zombies, natural disasters or anything else theorists can cook up.


Choose your new home

he best thing to do when civilization is crumbling is to get out of civilization. Having a place to run to will better your odds. Take a look at a map, and find a place with as little contact with civilization as possible. After you’ve picked your spot, purchase survival manuals for the area and study up. This isn’t school-the result of failure in this case is your ultimate demise.


Assemble your survival group

here will be people that are able to survive on their own during the apocalypse, but you probably won’t be one of them. Humans are inherently social and good at keeping each other sane, so it’s best to plan for this. Pick people with the skills to help your group survive and that you know will get along with the other group members. A group in discord is a dead group.

Miss the boat?

pocalypse hit you unprepared? Here’s some easy steps to defend your suburban residence: Turn on the taps for the upstairs bathtub/sinks. You’ll need water, and you won’t know how long it will last.

Transfer all the useful materials you can to the upstairs. Make sure you have food, a first-aid kit, and something you can defend yourself with.

Ed me

Give me love



[Berger time]

Pack and go

nce you have a group, and everyone is packed and ready, get out of there. There’s no need to wait for the apocalypse to start for you to go; once cities start crumbling, literally everyone and their halfbrother is going to be on the road. Grab your car and go while there’s still gas at the pump. And even then, make sure to plan ahead for when there isn’t gas - grab a bike and throw it in the trunk. The fuel won’t last forever.

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Packing list:

Wilderness survival manuals Survival food packs/snacks Seeds for your survival garden Detailed maps of the area A good knife Rope Layers of clothing (for warmth) Sleeping bag Lighter/matches/flint Water bottle First-aid kit Extra medical supplies Small tool kit Wait for everything to calm down before leaving. Pick a place to run to and prepare yourself for the worst.

Find a way to destroy/ barricade the stairs. Make sure no one can get to you for the next few weeks.

Rachel Strohkorb • Staff Writer •

Disclamer: This is all for fun and The North Star does not actually believe that the apocalypse will occur on December 21.


Hayley Berger • Feature Editor •

bet that headline caught your attention. Or else made you think I’m really desperate and weird; whichever. The headline actually comes from the song “Give Me Love” by British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. I’ll admit I’m a pretty big culprit of being an obnoxious fangirl. I mean, I drove to Chicago to see a band in concert and then waited in the hotel lobby for them. (Although, in my defense, their hotel was less than a two-minute walk from mine.) Then when I went to see Ed Sheeran in concert earlier this year, I was beyond star struck. I’d been listening to his music for months, and I’d found him so perfect that meeting him made me so nervous. Meeting someone you greatly admire can be nerve-wracking, but after obsessing so much, you start to question why. Author John Green once wrote, “what a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” When I met Ed, he was just a person. He was awkward and quite shy around the group of people all wanting his picture. Ed Sheeran was normal, despite his quintupleplatinum selling album in the UK. We tend to spend so much time expecting certain things of people that we lose sight of who that person actually is. Not every expectation is going to be met; in his baggy jeans and sweatshirt, you’d wouldn’t even guess he was remotely famous. And though I’ll probably be waiting outside the venue at Ed’s next concert (in 51 days) hours before the doors actually open, I’ll stop to remember the time he stopped what he was doing to try to teach my best friend how to properly high five someone.

07 Students enjoy Disney movies to relax A N

Best Hero:

“Mulan-she actually did something. She saved a whole country while other princesses just sat there,” junior Danielle London said.

s the end of the semester gets closer, many students will be looking forward to relaxing and recouping from the beginning of the year with old Disney classics like “Cinderella” and Disney Channel original movies like “Pixel Perfect”. Many find these movies almost therapeutic as they get older and their lives get more stressful. “Even if it’s an animated movie and it’s pointed toward kids, it still has a good theme and story behind it,” sophomore Judy Wang said. “They are really cute and even though they seem childish they are still relevant with their messages,” junior Allison Nocita said. Disney classics are the movies that we grew up with. Almost every movie has an underlying moral message that tends to stick with students after they’ve watched it many times over. “I liked ‘Mulan’ because it had a good message that girls shouldn’t feel inferior to guys and how there are really no differences between what

• Dec. 14, 2012 • Feature

a guy and girl can do,” junior Ilham Boda said. “All the movies show that it is better to be the good person and help people out, so I guess that’s stuck with me,” sophomore Olivia Degner said. Nocita said her favorite Disney classic is “Hercules”. “One of my favorite movies is ‘Hercules’. ‘I won’t say I’m in love’ (from the movie Hercules) is the song of my life,” Nocita said. Some students are frustrated with new Disney releases. “I think that people have already formed memories with the old movie and that it is just hard for people to connect with the newer movies,” Boda said. Disney movies provide a welcome dose of optimism to chaotic and sometimes demoralizing high school schedules. “They make me think that anything is possible because they all come out with happy endings,” Degner said.

Faryal Jafri • Online Editor •

Best Villain:


“He is evil in a way more realistic way because he’s not a witch like every other villain,” junior Brooke Bergan said.

Sophomore learns to see the world in color


uman beings all have objects, ideas and people that are important to them. People have many of these priorities in common. Luci Mosbacher has a passion for art. It’s the way she conmunicates, expresses herself and

A painting done by Mosbacher illustrates how she relates herself to the rest of the world. Generally, her paintings are done in watercolor. Photo by Erica Emert

relates to the world. Some people enjoy looking at art, others enjoy being the subjects of art. Sophomore Luci Mosbacher loves the process of creating art. Art is a way for her to convey a special message to those who view her art. “Painting is the one way I can say what I’m thinking and not get punched in the face,” Mosbacher said. Mosbacher has been painting since the beginning of middle school. Art is a way for her to release her feelings in a healthy way. “I feel like it is the only way to healthily get my feelings out without getting angry at people and stupid things,” Mosbacher said. Mosbacher said that her watercolors are different from what people would expect of normal watercolor paintings. She feels that through her paintings she can make people view life in a new way.

“The main reaction I get is misunderstanding. People with closed off-minds don’t know how to look at something at an angle,” Mosbacher said. “The bluntness of a person’s mind can overshadow a chance to find something beautiful beneath all the ugly.” Mosbacher’s favorite colors to paint with are light, bright hues of orange, blue and pink. “People who don’t know me think that I will use dark colors and paint dark figures. It’s just the opposite. I paint lightly and use colors that take something that would usually be thought dark and make it lighter,” Mosbacher said. The subjects she paints are also a reflection of her personality and lifestyle. Her paintings usually illustrate what she sees and how she feels. “When I’m finished with one of my

Sophomore Luci Mosbacher sketches an outline for her next piece. Mosbacher uses her art to make ugly objects beautiful and to make beautiful objects ugly. “When people look at my paintings they usually don’t understand them. I want people too really look at my work at a different angle than they usually would,” she said. Photo by Erica Emert

paintings I stand back and realize that some part of my life is in the painting in one way or another,” Mosbacher said.

Kristen Haug • Staff Writer •


Feature • Dec. 14, 2012 • N

Road from rehab


ate in the spring of his freshman year, senior Collin Smith was preparing to purchase his first $30 gram of marijuana. His plan was to go home, and with a pipe he had made from instructions on the Internet, smoke alone in his room. Smith promised himself that he’d only smoke once. Within minutes, Smith was in a place of ecstasy and slowed time. His spatial awareness all but disappeared while touch, taste and smell reached new levels. He smoked again and then again the next morning. From then on, Smith was searching for his next high. “I know I sound like... some sort of right winged nut, but in my experience [pot] is a gateway drug,” Smith said. “If I hadn’t smoked pot, I would have never met the individuals who introduced me to other drugs.”


Path to addiction ithin six months, Smith was introduced to hallucinogenics, which cause the user to experience hallucinations and an altered perception. Many users have also experienced terrifying “bad trips” in which extreme anxiety takes hold. These drugs became a weekly ritual and then a daily one. “I just felt like it really suited my fancy; having an ability to think deeper than a regular level, nothing served me better than that,” Smith said. “After that, I was introduced to stimulants; MDMA, methamphetamine, cocaine, I was addicted to a whole slew of stimulants.” “My life was unmanageable,” Smith said. “I never came to school. I was constantly getting high.” The effect of his drug use carried over to all aspects of his life, his grades rapidly fell and within a year his existence was devoted to seeking, purchasing and consuming narcotics. At this point his mother, aunt and cousin stepped in and informed Smith that he would be sent to a local rehabilitation facility. “I was put into Crittenton because my drug use was out of control. Crittenton is a child’s mental institution

in Raytown, Mo.,” Smith said. “I wasn’t very balanced when I went there. What I learned [there] is that short-term facilities don’t really accomplish anything. If you’re in a program for a week, you’re just gonna get out and start using again.” Smith never developed a real desire to eliminate drugs from his life at Crittendon. “I interacted on a regular basis with other kids who had drug issues and was still stuck in the mentality that when I was released I was going to continue using,” Smith said. And that was just what happened. Upon returning home from his week-long stint, he got high again. This time he was no longer hiding his drug use and another intervention was soon to come. He would be sent to a facility in Tennessee, renowned for its treatment methods.

Steps toward recovery


o keep him clean, Smith was again sent to Crittendon before traveling to Tennessee. “I remember the first time they said I was going to go there [Tennessee] I got the chills. I mean, I had never been to a place like that. I was in treatment for a week before I went. I came home for two days and immediately upon returning home I started using again,” Smith said. The facility that Smith was sent to outside Knoxville, Tenn., is called The Village and used the 12-Step Program. The program focuses on accepting that addiction is out of the person’s control. When this happens the person can learn to cope and hopefully, recover. “Actually upon getting there, the first thing I said to a professional there was, ‘You’re never going to f***ing change me with your 12-step bullshit, I think it’s just your way to manipulate people,’” Smith said. “I went in with that attitude. Going in with that mindset won’t help you at all. You’ll just be in treatment for longer.” It wasn’t long before the unconventional treatment began.


• Dec. 14, 2012 • Feature


Senior faces the future after drug treatment struggle “I’ve seen better times. I know that no matter how miserable you get... there’s always hope.” Early release “We were living in a log cabin,” Smith said, “In the cold. In the winter. For a month straight.” “It almost feels fresh in my mind. It’s weird to think about. When I’m outdoors, it’s that simple, it reminds me. The 12-step Program, I worked that. In treatment I was all for it, I bought into it,” Smith said. “I pretty much worked the system to get the hell out.” After 27 days, through his perseverance and his willingness to say what rehabilitation officials wanted to hear, Smith was released from the Tennessee treatment center. “I was the second kid in 10 years to get out in less than 30 days, so I thought that was pretty cool,” Smith said. “I was convinced I was going to be there forever.” Though he initially perceived his early release as a success, Smith said he remains in an “addiction mindset” which led him to use drugs again when he returned home. “I think I left too early. I was sober for six months, but the philosophy I’ve come to believe is that once you’re a drug addict you’re always a drug addict, whether you are using or not. I did want to be sober, and it just went to hell,” Smith said.

Where to go from here?


mith picked up one habit in treatment, however, that he still practices today: reading. The first book he picked up was “Invisible Man,” a novel of race conflict by Ralph Ellison. Smith said he connected with the novel’s narrator, whose African-American heritage is a permanent stain on his reputation and social prospects. “[I connected with the narrator of ‘Invisible Man’

because] people will just look at you and judge you,” Smith said. “I felt like as an individual going through drug treatment–it’s not a visible stain, but it stains you. It’s something you don’t forget.” Throughout his time in Tennessee, Smith continued to escape into books like H.G. Wells’s “The Invisible Man,” Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” which he is currently re-reading. He said that books helped him see past the monotony of life in rehab. “While you’re [in rehab] there’s no world outside of it,” Smith said. “You can’t look into the future. You can’t see what’s coming. It feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. At points...I wasn’t there as a person. I was lost in books. It’s an unusual feeling—to think that there’s a world outside of the one you’re stuck in.” Though some of Smith’s other hobbies, like wrestling and video games, have fallen away after his years in and out of drug treatment, he said that books have remained with him. “Books don’t have a monthly membership fee. Books are always waiting for you,” Smith said. “ A book doesn’t judge you. The fact that I can read a story and see similarities to the world that surrounds me—that’s kind of thrilling. It lets you know you’re not alone.” Beyond the pages of his favorite novels, Smith said he plans to continue his education at Johnson County Community College, though his dream – a dream he calls “unrealistic” – would be to study nuclear engineering at Kansas State University. While he’s not overly optimistic about his prospects, Smith was quick to say he hasn’t lost hope. “I’ve seen better times. I know that no matter how miserable you get, there’s always a good time waiting around the corner,” Smith said. “There’s always hope. You always have to have hope.”

photo by Erika Brown

Chris Shanklin • Staff Writer •

Jessi Glueck

• Co-Editor-In-Chief •


Entertainment • Dec. 14, 2012 • N

Actor invigorates grim dramedy


his role in “Your Sister’s Sister” is a testament to his greatness. The movie opens with the reverberations of dozens of conversations while friends gather to mourn the loss of a young man named Tom. His brother, Jack (Duplass), stands quietly in the back of the room as he listens to acquaintances eulogize Tom. The past year has been rough for Jack. He turned down his dream job and still can’t cope with the loss Jack falls for Hannah (right), the sister of his best friend Iris (center), who of his brother. realizes that she might have feelings for Jack in “Your Sister’s Sister”. Photo from Iris (Emily Blunt), Jack’s best friend, pulls him aside and suggests ver the course of the past year, that he spend time at her family’s cabin. Mark Duplass has emerged as Nestled on a secluded island, it will provide one of my favorite Hollywood double threats. Since March, he has directed him with the solitude he needs to do some real soul-searching. “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” and starred in Jack accepts the offer, but he’s in for a numerous movies including “Safety Not surprise when he arrives at the cabin to find Guaranteed” and “People Like Us”. He also Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), Iris’s sister, stars in TV’s “The League”. fresh from a breakup from her partner of The characters Duplass embodies are seven years. One night neither of them goofy, to say the least. As an actor, he has can sleep and they get drunk together. A a laid-back style that’s borderline lazy, yet hilariously awkward one-night stand ensues. endearing. His charisma is unmatchable From there, “Your Sister’s Sister” follows by most actors on the big screen today, and

a fairly predictable path. Iris arrives at the cabin, realizes she has feelings for Jack, and Jack realizes he has feelings for her. With any other actors, I would’ve been bored with this recycled tale of a love triangle, but in Duplass’s hands, I was entertained. Along with talented stars, the movie also benefits from the scenery on San Juan island. The dark forest on a crisp winter morning and the orange hues reflecting off the lake at sunset give the movie a calming feel that is hard to duplicate. Frankly, this is a thinking man’s movie. It’s talky; there aren’t any explosive action sequences and the number of sexual references can be counted on one hand. It tackles adult themes of love versus lust in a blunt, head-on manner. There’s no dancing around the issues here. With indie dramas like “Your Sister’s Sister”, you really have to let them sink in before you criticize. You may not enjoy it upon your first viewing, but if you take the time to think about its underlying themes, you’ll realize that it’s grown on you. Plus, the movie has a rocking ending.

he beats bump in your car, the bass rattles your windows, but who is that raspy white guy rapping about embracing equality and being yourself? That’s Ben Haggerty, otherwise known as Macklemore, an up-and-coming artist born and raised in a racially divided neighborhood of Seattle. After overcoming a crippling drug addiction in 2009, Macklemore resurfaced with his debut album, “The Heist”, a collaboration with producer Ryan Lewis. “The Heist,” properly named for Macklemore and Lewis’ taking back of hip-hop, has been in the works for three years. The album lived up to its hype when it was released Oct. 9. It features a variety of tracks ranging from upbeat songs like “Can’t Hold Us” and “Thrift Shop” to slower, more serious songs like “A Wake” and “Starting Over”. Macklemore’s message on “The Heist” is refreshing. One of the most popular tracks on the album, “Thrift Shop,” teaches listeners a message that is rare to find

exactly what he’d planned on doing all along. By stepping outside of traditional hip-hop, he has brought attention to the causes and beliefs that he holds closest to him. If “The Heist” is a preview of what else is to come from the dream team of Macklemore and Lewis, listeners have a lot to look forward to.

Danny Rosenberg • Entertainment Editor •

Rapper breathes life into hip-hop



in today’s society. Macklemore’s voice rolls over the smooth saxaphone as he mocks the materialism and conformity of our culture when he brags about “savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain.” In a humorous way, Macklemore not only takes down the high-society establishment, but also empowers listeners to wear what makes them feel good without breaking the bank. The most powerful message on the album is delivered on the track “Same Love”. Growing up with two gay uncles, Macklemore has seen first hand the discrimination that homosexuals face in America today, and was inspired to speak out for gay rights in his latest album. The song tells the story of Macklemore’s coming-to-terms with the reality of inequality. A chilling, slow piano plays in the background and raises goosebumps on your arms when you hear Macklemore say, “they might not be the same, but that’s not important. No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it.” Macklemore’s rise to the top hasn’t been smooth; but his controversial lyrics have done

Ashley Ruben • News Editor •

Macklemore discusses more serious topics like gay marriage on his latest album. Photo from thecomeupshow via flickr.


It’s not just good, it’s Sonic good.

• Dec. 14, 2012


Entertainment • Dec. 14, 2012 • N


Why everyone should read


ou probably think you’ve heard it all before. For years, CA teachers have told you that reading makes you better, smarter, more successful. You nodded and smiled your way through these tirades, privately concluded that your teachers were nuts, and went back to SparkNotes. People who hate reading have a point. It seems ridiculous to spend your time poring over the meditations of some dead guy, especially when you could be playing more relevant video games. As a life-long bibliophile, I’m convinced that the CA teachers are right: that great stories teach you about the past, that reading is at the core of successful communication. But there’s another reason. That reason presented itself to me this summer in the form of a girl I met on my trip to Israel. She spoke little English, and I spoke almost no Hebrew. We had just enough vocabulary between us for her to tell me that she loved to watch plays at a theatre near her small town. I asked her which she liked best; and there in the middle of the Israeli desert, she told me that her favorite playwright was Shakespeare, whose plays she watched in translation.

Suddenly, we had something to talk about. “You like Romeo and Juliet, right? Me too! How about Macbeth?” Those old names, names I’d never thought I’d use when I studied them in CA, created common ground for us. They showed us that in spite of our differences, in some ways we weren’t so different at all. Books connect us. Shakespeare’s masterpieces can be as fascinating to Israelis as they are to Americans. Hemingway has spoken alike to people in Cuba and California and Spain. A great work of literature, even in translation or a new societal context, contains lessons and questions for every human being. And that is the single most important reason that everyone should read: because stories help us build relationships with people of other times and other places. At a time in our lives when many of us are struggling to find where we fit in, reading makes us part of a community that transcends time and space and stays with us forever. Now, if that’s not inspiration to pick up a novel over break, I don’t know what is.

Jessi Glueck

• Co-Editor in Chief •

Bust boredom with books


ou’ll be bored over break. For the luckiest, it will be layovers in airports. For most, it will be long days spent hanging around the house. Books can be fantastic boredom-busters. These picks are timeless. They’ll make you think-- and make you much less bored.

“Looking For Alaska”- John Green “Looking for Alaska” is an ingenious chronicle of teen love, high school, and all that good stuff. Alaska, the book’s ingenue, is a storm of charisma and mood swings. The narrator, ‘Pudge’, is a skinny, lovable, slightly self-absorbed dork. Every teenage guy I have forced to read this book has loved it. I have teachers who love it. “Looking for Alaska” will send you hunting for any other John Green book you can find-you won’t be disappointed.

“And The Band Played On” -Randy Shilts

No one cared until Rock Hudson died.

Before the death of this gay actor from AIDS, the world was in denial. But Randy Shilts wasn’t. He followed the gritty AIDS scene for years. His work raised more awareness than any other individual’s about the growing AIDS epidemic, and this book was at the forefront. “And The Band Played On” is thick, but it’s thrilling. Shilts engages readers by telling the stories of individuals who struggled with the disease.

“Perfect”- Ellen Hopkins

This is about as gripping as poetry can get. The main characters, Sean, Cara, Kendra, and Andre, reach for impossible forms of perfection and watch their lives spiral out of control. The book is a fast read because of its poetic form. The content, though, is anything but easy. “Perfect” delves into topics like Kendra’s anorexia and Sean’s steroid use. “Perfect” beautifully expresses the darkest facets of life.

Ellie Holcomb

• Co-Editor in Chief •



Search for silver linings

ilver Linings Playbook” stars Bradley Cooper as an undiagnosed bipolar man recently released from a mental institution after nearly killing his wife’s lover. He loses his job, his house and the woman that he loves. The people around him become afraid of him. But although his world is crumbling, he stays positive as he looks for his “silver lining”, a chance to turn everything around. This man is admirable. Too often, people get weighed down by the negatives. I do. It’s easy to, especially in this ultra-competitive school. Instead of being pleased with six A’s, I fret about one B. Instead of joining a rec team and having just as much, if not more fun, you berate yourself for getting cut from the basketball program.

“Too often, we get weighed down by the negatives” Pat’s silver lining arrives in the form of Tiffany, his friend’s sister-in-law. A recent widow, she is suffering, too. The two forge a bond, and their friendship works because they’re both a little crazy. The positive effect that this relatonship has on their lives really shows. The whole movie, Pat runs in metaphorical circles, chasing his wife. All he thinks he wants is to be with her, even though everyone knows that she is done with him. His great flaw is that he continues to try to return to his wife, when he has had someone better in front of him all along. In the words of Hannah Montana, “Life's what you make it, so let’s make it rock.” Maintain a positive attitude and you’ll get your shot at a silver lining. Who knows, maybe you already have.


• NDec.• 14, 2012 Entertainment Sept. 21, •2012 • Feature

Promoting social justice across the globe It’s the thought that counts


Student travels to Africa to make a difference

Find clever gifts for every friend

his past summer senior from 8 to 1, taught second graders Deborah Klein participated French from 1:30 to 3, and made in the American Jewish school uniforms from 3:30 to 6,” h, December - the season of giving. We’re sure you’re surrounded by World Service Volunteer program Klein said. a variety of personalities, which can become confusing around the in Ghana, working with the Klein spent time studying the holidays. Fortunately, we at The North Challenging Heights organization. foundations for her service. Star have devised a practical gifting guideJewish for It was founded by a former child “We spent a lot of time talking each friend stereotype so you can put your slave in 2003 to secure a better about global poverty, unbridled generosity to use. Here’s the perfect future for atgift to give... contemplating the risk youth. The purpose of being in organization Africa and reading YOUR HIPSTER FRIEND hasure, developed a hipster friend’s acquaintances .99 AmainzoJewish all of your $8excerpts school andUrban centerOutfitters gift cards for the will get texts that looked photo by Daniel Traub. holidays, but will they have a CD of the grunting for children at global service and These obscure, whodrumming have beenof the Nilotic Maasai tribes of Tanzania?through a religious culturally immersive sounds will soothe your favorite hipster’s ears, as they’re trafficked. lens,” Klein said. probably listen to. Be “The “so sick of that post-alternative garbage” their friends The program strives prepared, however, for complaints that the Maasai sound “just like every other organization tomainstream. integrate volunteer African tribe,” or have “totally sold out to the commercial ” honors the ideals service with Jewish of preventing study and values YOUR FRIEND child traffiPREPPY cking to leave volunteers he easiest way to your preppy friend’s and promoting education. They passionate about their roles as heart is a Ralph Lauren sweater in help rehabilitate every color. What and betterreintegrate way to be the global citizens. victims of child traffi cking, ” Klein center of attention than to blend right in “I experienced first hand the said.20 identical articles of clothing also power of local people effecting with Kleinbyspent the majority owned everyone else in theofschool? With change. Through text study her time working otherfriend and volunteering, I realized my name-brand clothes,with your17 preppy can take pride the luxuries of “fraternity” volunteers to in expand a school and obligation to give back to the or “sorority” from the comfortinof highcommunity,” Klein said. Stores help out thelife local community alph Lauren school hallways. $115 R whatever ways she could. During her time in Ghana, photo by Erica Emert. “We built a school every weekday Klein noticed that the people



13 11

“I experienced firsthand the power of local people effecting change.”

Sarah Evans

• Co-Editor in Chief •



his holiday season, give your emo friend the gift of self-expression with MAC “Smolder Black” eyeliner. Help him or her connect with the struggles and oppression of their suburban teenage lifestyle with a bold, nonconformist look. Get out your camera, because “Smolder Black” is the perfect shade of despair for the forlorn, soul-searching selfies your emo friend will inevitably take in the mirror of the upscale bathroom in their parents’ house.

res $15 MAC Sto photo by ookikioo’s photostream via flickr.

Senior Deborah Klein(far left) spent time the summer working with kids in Ghana helping them learn. The people she worked with also taught her a lot. Photo courtesyof Maya Barnett.


will go to Wahington, D.C., living there were not so different fromothing Americans. says “I’m just biding my timeto meet with the founder of in thisdon’t dump” like ahow head-to-toe “People realize similar Challenging Heights who is giving ensemble collegiate wear. With we are to of other countries, it wasthis gifta, presentation to end modern your college-obsessed friend rattle offslavery. not unusual to be carrying can around the sports stats of their favorite university “We will be protesting to end a cell phone and digital camera,” with confi dence, although they have no child trafficking. I am going to Klein said. idea how the Mustangs played last night. start working with post refugee Although Klein is done with Additionally, it enables them to be a settlements in KC. This program her program in Ghana, her walking billboard for a campus that, in the Goods gect me want rt toineff commitment to volunteering best case scenario, they won’t setwith foot on has$5made 0 Dick’s Spo change in my own community,” American Jewish WorldGoService for at least eight months. team! will continue. photo by Daniel Traub. At the end of this month, Klein Sydney House


• Staff Writer •


Dec. 14, 2012 • N

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The North Star Editors staff Sarah Evans Jessi Glueck Ellie Holcomb News editor Ashley Ruben Sports editor Sydney House Feature editor Hayley Berger Entertainment editor Danny Rosenberg Opinion editor Mallory Bodker Online editor Faryal Jafri Photo editor Lindsay Rucker Photographers Erika Brown Austin Fultz Daniel Traub Business manager Erica Emert Staff writers Kiera Bolden Kristen Haug Emily Levinson Sakshi Mahajan Ram Sivakumar Rachel Strohkorb Illustrator Chris Shanklin Adviser Mindy Gilman

The North Star is the official publication of Blue Valley North High School, an open forum distributed to all students nine times a year. This publication may contain controversial material. Kansas law prohibits the suppression of a student publication solely because it may contain controversial matter. Blue Valley Unified School District No. 229 and its board members, officers and employees may disclaim any responsibility for the content of this publication; it is not an expression of school policy. Student authors and editors are solely responsible for the content of this publication. Letters to the editors are encouraged from students and non-students alike and should be less than 500 words. All letters must be signed and turned into room 411 at least one week prior to publication. All letters require a signature. Names will be published. The North Star reserves the right to edit with regard to libel, without changing the substance of the letter. The North Star will not publish obscene or libelous material. bvnnews. com

• Dec. 14, 2012 • Opinion


Spread holiday spirit year-round


ust the So often we find other day ourselves in small talk when I was about the newest iPhone talking with my or the cutest new clothes. friends about People almost never take the holidays, the time to simply ask I realized that how you’re feeling or how the basis of our your family is doing. conversation We need to realize that was about the our families and friends, gift aspect. This and not the newest recognition gimmick, are the things disheartened that will always remain me. The holidays a part of our lives. Years are supposed from now, that new app is to be a time of going to be outdated and togetherness and As the winter holidays approach, we are insignificant. The people family, cherishing reminded to look past the presents. Photo by who care about you now Erica Emert the intangible will still care about you, values of life. and we shouldn’t take that for granted. But I’ve also come to another Next time you find yourself striking realization: it’s not just in December up a conversation with a friend you that I find myself in conversations haven’t talked to in awhile, resist the about materialistic things; this issue is temptation to ask about how he or one that is prevalent at all times. she feels about the iPhone 5. While

it may be uncomfortable to open up and broaden our conversation topics beyond material things, powering through the awkwardness to have an actual conversation will be worth it. And it’s not just our friends we should be reconnecting with. We would be surprised to find how much we’ve lost touch with the people who live in our own home. The holiday season serves as a great reminder that there are more important aspects of life than what lies in under your Christmas tree. But this shouldn’t be the only time that we take a moment to remember this. Our overwhelming focus on material things distracts us from the people we love all the time. We should carry this resolve to cherish the people in our lives all the way through the year. Let’s try putting that at the top of our New Year’s resolutions this year.

Coming out of the gloom


urching from bed with stinging eyes and a throbbing headache: this is how my mornings began. I would go through the motions of an everyday routine. The fatigue wearing on my body. There was no excitement or joy, just numbness and an everpresent misery. The night before, I had laid motionless in bed, begging for sleep to come, only to be as disappointed as I always was. The day rolled by. Each class blurred into the next, until I could hardly distinguish one from the other. I would keep my head down. Each glance from another person reminded me of how ugly I was; how small and insignificant. I would walk through the hallways feeling utterly alone, and willed myself to hold back the tears I could barely control. The thoughts would surge through my mind as I saw the happiness of my peers, while I stood broken and isolated. “I should just kill myself ”, I would think. No one would miss me. I

was a burden to my family and friends. I could finally be free from all life’s pressures and its spiteful circumstances. I would arrive home, mutter a word to my family, then lock myself in my room. No one was there to convince me that I deserved to live, nor was there anyone to censor the thoughts that would undoubtedly return, appearing more vivid, like fog being wiped from an obscure window. “I just want to die”, I would say into the silence. My eyelids would close slowly and I would beg for sleep to come. This is what depression is. It is a disease, not the feeling of receiving a low test score or being bored. Perhaps the reason depression among adolescents is so common is that it is simply misunderstood. We live in a culture of easy fixes and an abundance of self-help books, yet we are faced with expectations for perfection, conformity and constant social pressures. There is no simple solution for depression. There is no

Mallory Bodker • Opinion Editor •

magical pill or epiphany that can mend the wound it leaves behind. Depression is a battle to be constantly fought. There is no shame in that. That is what I hope to represent. My story is greater than an individual struggle. It reflects a society that disregards depression and the suffering of its people.

Artwork by Kiera Bolden

Kiera Bolden • Staff Writer •


Dec. 14, 2012 • N

Winter musts for the holiday Try new treats

No generic gifts

Gift shopping may be the best part of your holiday, but buying generic gifts probably isn’t. Instead of buying gift cards to random department stores, take the time to pick out presents. Maybe give your musical friend the Justin Bieber “Under the Mistletoe” CD, or a Casio calculator watch for your nerdy friend.

Step out of your comfort zone. A lot of restaurants like Starbucks change their menus for the holidays (and for the hipsters), so instead of ordering the same old coffee and a bagel, try something like the Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte or gingerbread. As a challenge, try making the food on your own. Photo by Lindsay Rucker

Photo by Lindsay Rucker

Feel the beat

Have some fun

For just a few dollars, you and your friends can try out your new skating moves at Crown Center, Park Place or Carriage Club like junior Ashley House, then head over to Snow Creek for sledding and skiing. Some BVN students and staff recommend roasting marshmallows and cuddling with friends.

Photo by Sydney House

You could listen to Lil Wayne and Ke$ha pretend they can sing, or you could listen to new and exciting Christmas music. Make an iTunes or Spotify playlist filled with the classics and exclusive albums from Rod Stewart, Lady Antebellum, and Run DMC. Senior Timmy Williams scans new holiday music.

Photo by Lindsay Rucker

All of the lights...

Ram Sivakumar • Staff Writer •

It’s always fun to see the outrageous decorations your neighbors put up. If you’re bored one night, drive around the neighborhood until you find that one guy who has his whole yard set up like a flashing freak show (extra points if they have those moving inflatable animals), then take a few pictures. Photo by Sarah Evans

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