MAKING IT TO THE BIG LEAGUES
Alumni share their experience on what it takes to get into an Ivy League school and if the reality matches their expectations. Illustration |
Alumni share their experience on what it takes to get into an Ivy League school and if the reality matches their expectations. Illustration |
When English teacher Sarah Bearss ﬁrst heard about ChatGPT, one thought appeared in her mind: “Oh, great.”
Released in November by OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot that can generate conversational answers to users’ questions. Utilizing an extensive knowledge base of online sources, ChatGPT attracted more than a million users just a few days after its launch. Its skills range from writing essays about Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” to writing code in Java, drawing curiosity from students and concern from teachers.
“[ I thought] ‘Another way for kids to cheat,’” Bearss said. “I think it’s really cool software, but I worry that kids are going to forget how to learn because they don’t want to do the work.”
Bearss’ concern is growing among her fellow teachers and the education community at large. Most notably, the New York City school system banned the use of ChatGPT earlier this month for fear of cheating. However, students can still access ChatGPT at home or on devices not linked to the school system, an unavoidable ﬂaw in the school’s ban. Although Seminole County has not released any information pertaining to ChatGPT, the thought of a possible ban has been on Bearss’ mind.
“We can limit their technology use in our classrooms, but when [our students] leave our room, we can’t control what they do,” Bearss said.
“[We are] trying to encourage kids to learn
to think smarter, not harder, but also encouraging original and abstract thinking because it’s the original and abstract thinking that created the AI in the ﬁrst place, and we don’t want to lose that.”
Math teacher Dan Conybear also expressed his concerns over cheating, but admitted that there is little teachers can do to prevent it.
“Calculators were advanced technology when I was in school. And it’s only changed and increased,” Conybear said. “I don’t think you can put it back in the bottle. Technology is only going to progress and we, as a society, will have to adapt to it.”
When Susan*, a senior, ﬁrst heard about ChatGPT, she decided to give it a try on her economics homework. Busy with extracurriculars and upcoming exams, Susan typed her homework problems into ChatGPT and turned it in, receiving a 100 on the assignment.
“I thought, ‘Even if I bomb all my tests, I’m still going to get an A in the class so I don’t need to put in a lot of mental energy into learning this material,’” Susan said.
Despite the massive attention AI has garnered, it still has its shortcomings. On its site, OpenAI warns ChatGPT may occasionally generate incorrect information, produce harmful instructions or biased content and have limited knowledge of the world and events after 2021.
Even the bot acknowledges its own limitations when asked, “Will robots take over the world?”
“It is important to recognize that AI is still in the early stages of development and it is unlikely that robots will be able to fully ‘take over the world’ in the near future,” ChatGPT said. “While AI has made signiﬁcant progress in recent years, it still has limitations and is not yet capable of replacing humans in many tasks.”
Currently, ChatGPT is free to all for research purposes, but will likely not remain that way due to ChatGPT’s maintenance costs. Users will most likely be required to pay a fee to use the application, a potential hindrance to students who use the bot for homework answers. For now, principal Robert Frasca hopes students will see the importance in using their own mind.
“Technology is a double-edged sword in so many ways. It’s great because it makes our life easier. But sometimes it makes us lazy,” Frasca said. “It has been a constant challenge for educators to balance the use of technology, but also making sure kids know basic skills they need to be successful.”
With the inevitable advancement of new technologies, educators like Bearss, Conybear and Frasca know they can only wait and adapt.
“I feel like we need to embrace technology. Maybe not totally, and maybe small steps at a time, but I do think it needs to be embraced because it’s the future,” Bearss said. “If we don’t embrace it, we’re just going to fall behind everybody else.”
*names changed for privacy
With more than 300 participants from schools all over the county, the Seminole County Regional Science, Math and Engineering Fair is one of the most prestigious STEM events in the Orlando area. A day-long event, students present their data on tri-folds as judges and other patrons pass by and ask questions. Participants are judged not only for the delivery of their conclusions, but also on their creativity and originality. Winning students have the chance compete at the state and international level in April and May.
For senior Lyan Ortiz-Brito, who won ﬁrst place in the Biomedical and Health Science category, winning was not the only incentive to participate. Being the only student who participated without being involved in a school-led research class, Ortiz-Brito competed for her own enjoyment.
“As someone who wants to go and be a physical therapist, it is something that I am passionate about,” Ortiz-Brito said.
Passion mixes well with personal
than last time, some aspects of the festival still caught her by surprise.
stories, as it did for Junior Anouska Seal. A few years ago, Seal’s grandma was chosen as a candidate for knee implant surgery. As her family researched the pros and cons of the surgery, they discovered that they have very high rates of infection due to antibiotic resistance. Since the problem affects millions each year, Seal chose to study antibiotic resistance and ways to combat it.
After coming up with their research questions, both Seal and Ortiz-Brito had to go through multiple rounds of paperwork to join the competition. Approval from the county board was slow to obtain, and gave students a small window of time to complete their research.
“I did my project in two weeks, but it was a lot of going to the lab every single day [and] staying until ﬁve or six to get all the work done,” Seal said.
Witha few stunning murals already under its belt, the National Art Honor Society made a return to chalk art competitions.
“We had a great time and could really take advantage of the fact that we did a mural competition back in November,” NAHS sponsor Omar Otero said. “The murals turned out beautifully.”
On Friday, NAHS attended the Creative Arts Festival at Faith Christian Academy after their success at the previous Arts for Life Festival in Winter Park, where they won ﬁrst place in the European Master Portrait chalk art imitation contest, despite never having participated in a mural competition previously.
“I would say that our success encouraged us to sign up for this one more than anything,” NAHS vice president Caitlyn Hale said. “A representative from Faith Christian Academy liked our work so much that they invited us to this competition.”
Otero and six NAHS members arrived at Faith Christian Academy at 11 a.m., leaving plenty of time to plan out their murals. Following the competition guidelines, the club created three Florida-themed murals. Hale, who worked on a landscape drawing of the Fort Myers’ pier with president Amanda Negron, said that while her group came more prepared
“We were the only public school students there, and there were at least 30 other teams,” Hale said.
Along with the Fort Myers pier, the club members also drew murals depicting orange blossoms, alligators, and a sun setting over the Everglades. According to Otero, the theme allowed the group to create murals based off of their own experiences in Florida, while the last competition, which required them to draw murals based on European works of art, did not allow them to do that.
“We didn’t take home any awards this time because there were so many teams, which we weren’t expecting,” Hale said. “But I’m still looking forward to showcasing our work at Altamonte next month.”
With piles of different patterned fabric, stufﬁng and sewing materials, the National Honor Society got to work. On Feb. 15, the club got together to provide for the kids in the Orlando Winnie Palmer Hospital’s care, putting together blankets, pillows and snoodles, small cuddle toys to keep babies comforted when in the NICU. All of the products were handmade by students, adding personalization and love to the gift.
“The purpose of the event was to create little snuggle [products], and
we’re going to donate them… just for the children in the NICU,” president Chelsea Nguyen said.
The hospital’s main specialty is maternity, but they are home to many infants born with birth defects. Many of the children here are very young and are always in need of comfort and entertainment, especially when they are separated from their parents. The club wanted to provide support, not only to the hospital, but to the babies that need care the most.
In just three hours, they were able to create over 20 blankets for both children and infants, as well as 10
pillows and 10 snoodles. The turnout was high with about 40 attendees, each required to make at least one thing.
The club focuses on bringing the members together to do important volunteer work, building students’ character and service.
Recently, the club’s sponsor Megan Thompson sent letters out to eligible students inviting them to apply, and with applications submitted early this month, the addition of new members will allow the club to partake in such events in the future once they are accepted.Grace Hilton | Staff Reporter
When senior Verona Hall first found out that African American Studies would be offered as an AP course, she was delighted. However, those hopes were dashed as the state of Florida rejected the AP African American Studies course on Monday.
“I [feel] that the history of African Americans shouldn’t be ignored [because] it is a very important part of America’s history as well,” Hall said.
With the introduction of the non-AP, honorslevel African American Studies course for the first time this year, students like Hall were looking forward to the AP course with hopes of diversity among course selection. However, it does not seem like the course will be offered any time soon.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with the Florida Department of Education, denied the AP course, citing reasons that it violated state laws and touched on topics that the state did not see fit. However, many critics argue the decision was motivated by politics instead of true educational value.
Since then, the College Board has removed some of the controversial topics in its newer version of the framework, which was released on Feb. 1. According to the College Board, the topics were “not a required part of the course framework” and are now offered as topics for a research project.
Some topic names have been changed completely, some have merged into broader topics and some parts of the coursework remain unchanged in the newer version. The FLDOE has yet to comment on the new revisions and whether or not the course will be offered for the following school year.
“We were planning on [offering the course], but obviously we take our direction from the governor, so we are not going to be able to offer that,” assistant principal Kristi Draus said.
According to school administrators, the course was planned to be offered as a pilot to schools in Seminole County, but was shortly removed after the announcement of the governor’s decisions. There is a possibility that if the revised framework for the course is accepted, the course could still be offered.
The original coursework for the class, incorporating topics like intersectionality and books
dealing with critical race theory, was released by a local Florida newspaper after the decision was officially announced. The teachings did not align with the ideas of the Stop W.O.K.E Act, also known as the Individual Freedoms Act, which would prohibit teachers from educating students about “woke” topics.
Although the FLDOE issued this decision, many educators do not feel like this was the right choice.
“Any time there’s an educational opportunity that’s missed for kids, I think that’s unfortunate,” African American Studies teacher Amy Bingham said. “[But] we as public school employees have to be in compliance.”
The students also feel that not having the class would be a missing piece in education that could have reverberating consequences in the future.
“I think there will be less people willing to learn about African American history in college because they weren’t introduced to it in high school,” Hall said.
Although AP African American Studies is no longer an option, new history courses like Holocaust Studies will provide students with a more diverse selection of courses. Despite topics that might seem similar to the denied AP course, both the Holocaust Studies and African American Studies courses are expected to continue as planned.
“We had a Holocaust education mandate before, but under Governor DeSantis, that mandate has been expanded,” history teacher Megan Thompson said.
However, given the political climate, there is concern that the classes might have more oversight than before.
“There’s been [more of] a focus on instructional materials—people might start looking at materials more closely,” Draus said.
Despite the close attention to details, there is no concern that either course will be dropped. Administrators at the school and county levels have looked to offer classes with a greater variety of viewpoints on important periods of history; however, that has been overshadowed by the refusal of the AP class. The decision gained national attention from educators and parents as well.
Although the direction of the course is not what she foresaw, Draus still has hope for the future of it.
“I’m hopeful that maybe the College Board will clarify what’s in the course and maybe that’s naive of me, but I am hopeful that there will be a change and we will be able to offer it,” Draus said.
On Feb. 11, the College Board released a statement hoping to “set the record straight” and “clear the air” surrounding the controversial matter. They expressed their firm dedication to the AP African American Studies course and the effects it will have on students. They provided a list of their faults and how they have been resolved, but also mentioned that the political commentary mentioning the course is not all true.
The College Board condemns this uninformed caricature of African American Studies.
- The College Board
“These phone calls with FDOE were absent of substance, despite [their] audacious claims of influence,” the College Board said.
In response to the statement made by the College Board, DeSantis has continued his criticism of College Board.
This College Board... nobody elected them to anything.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis
“There are probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good, or maybe even a lot better,” DeSantis said.
Since Gov. DeSantis’ rejection, the future of the course is undecided
I am hopeful that maybe there will be a change and we will be able to offer it.
- Assistant Principal Kristi Draus
Almost 70 years ago, Ray Bradbury published an ominous warning in his book “Fahrenheit 451,” describing a world in which knowledge is regarded as too dangerous for the public, and entire buildings are burned for fear of the books inside.
Stories like this seem like far-out suggestions. Entertaining, but unrealistic. However, reality for students in Florida is looking more and more like the twisted dystopia of “Fahrenheit 451.”
In case parents did not already have enough excessive power over their own child’s life, Gov. Ron DeSantis has given them the ability to control which books any student is allowed to read. Book banning, once a distant horror in a fictional book, has become a very real issue that violates the constitutional rights of authors and students.
English teacher Sarah Bearss, one of the chairs of the English department, explained that if a parent has a complaint about a book, they can bring it up with the school, which then evaluates whether the material is appropriate. If the book is successfully banned, teachers cannot have it in their classroom or recommend that students read it outside of school.
Books have been banned for being “offensive to God” and containing “witchcraft.” It is sad that society has reached a point at which witchcraft is an acceptable reason for restricting a book. Even if, despite all scientific reasoning, a child were to learn witchcraft by reading “Harry Potter,” by all means they should do so, as they could likely use those powers to solve climate change or world hunger.
Groups supporting this censorship, like Moms For Liberty, try to impose bans on anything that does not agree with their exact beliefs. Should extremist groups, who clearly are not even aware of the correct definition of “liberty,” be the ones that the public trusts to determine which books students can read?
Another main reason for banning is difficult or “explicit” topics. However, it is important for
students to be exposed to these subjects, and pretending that they do not exist will not make it true.
“Let’s Talk About It,” a book currently banned at Hagerty indefinitely, teaches teenagers about relationships and sexual identity, topics which they will undoubtedly encounter regardless whether or not they read the book. Other banned or challenged books include “offensive language” or discuss sexual assault. These subjects are important to learn about, and for many, reading a book is the most comfortable way to do so.
This is not even the true reason for many bans. Often challenged books include diverse characters or themes. A study by PEN America found that 41 percent of banned books across the U.S. in the 2021-2022 school year addressed LGBTQ+ topics, and 40 percent included main characters that were people of color.
Inclusivity is important for building a better world, and people are heading in the wrong direction by trying to remove any traces of diversity from reading material. Books are a reflection of society, and by denying these groups the ability to exist in literature, they may as well be claiming that they should not exist in real life.
Parents who are worried that their child will suffer a heart attack upon discovering people who are different from themselves can decide to restrict a book for their own child, without taking away anyone else’s choice.
In the end, the notion that all this will even actually work is laughable. Before the ban, no one even knew that these books were in the media center, but students are more likely to seek out materials that have been “forbidden”—and they are right to do so.
So go ahead and pick up a copy of “Lucky” by Alice Sebold, or “Triangles” by Ellen Hoskins, and see whether they are truly so horrifying that no student in all of Florida should be allowed to read them.
At the end of the day, it should be the student’s decision what they choose to read, and local governments should be focusing on how they can protect that freedom, instead of looking for more ways to control every bit of information that kids are exposed to. Imposing bans on media of any sort is both unconstitutional and insulting.
Ayearafter Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis passed the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, prohibiting teachers from discussing topics like race and gender in the classroom, he is waging war against education again, but this time against College Board, declaring that African American history “lacks educational value.”
After a decade of development, the College Board made AP African American Studies available nationwide, only for the course to be rejected by DeSantis on Jan. 12. The course would have covered both cultural and historical aspects of African American communities, but according to DeSantis, something about it screams “indoctrination.” The board of education may have the power to ban the AP course, but they do not have the right to deem black history as unworthy for American classrooms.
Any topic that even approaches diversity, culture and inclusivity has already been labeled by DeSantis as a form of “liberal indoctrination.” If every class were to follow his definition of indoctrination, science classes would not teach the scientific method.
Protecting the minds of American children should not mean hindering their ability to question the world around them. As a parent himself, DeSantis should want that for his child as much as any other parent would.
During a press conference on Jan. 26, the governor revealed that he banned the course because it encouraged the abolishment of the prison system and mentioned “queer theory.” After these terms were removed from the course’s official framework, they won’t ease the tension between DeSantis and the College Board.
Politicizing every aspect of the classroom politicizes students’ identities. If African American studies are controversial, are African Americans?
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As you plug in the code for your mental health Nearpod lesson in third period, you hear the groans of your peers. While the lessons have been around for a while, this year the pressure to complete the mental health modules is much larger.
Mental health has long been an issue, with Florida alone having nearly three million suffering from mental health issues. To combat these increasing numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis passed the mental health law for students in sixth through 12th grade, requiring schools to teach students about mental health. While the lessons taught may not be fun, it meets the requirements and helps those who need it.
Passed in 2019, the law requires schools to provide students with ﬁve hours of mental health lessons. With these guidelines,
Seminole County decided to create interactive presentations through Nearpod. Each lesson is designed to teach students about a certain issue, followed by resources and a couple of interactive activities. Each lesson is fast and effective, and they teach you what you need to know.
Of course, no matter what method the school board chooses to take, there will always be complaints.
Even if some think the mental health lessons are not the best, in just one year the lessons have signiﬁcantly improved. In previous years, the Nearpod lessons were something teachers only did if they had time after a lesson, but now there is a designated time carved out for mental health. It is a mandatory thing that administrators now check. This alone is a huge improvement because it makes sure it is done and lets students learn about and
how to help their own mental health.
While these mental health lessons might not seem useful for everyone, they deﬁnitely help those that might need it. Not everyone is open to sharing a struggle they might be dealing with or might not know they have a mental health illness. Through these lessons, students can determine what they can do to help themselves and get the resources they need.
Despite the possibility of other ways to teach mental health, the Nearpod lessons created by Seminole County get the job done. These lessons guarantee that students learn about mental health and get the resources they might need to help. Updates to the material have happened and will continue to happen, and while nobody will ever get excited for the mental health modules, SCPS’s solution does what it needs to do.
It is third period, the clock hits 10:40—students start to complain as the Nearpod codes are projected on the whiteboard—it is mental health time.
Ever since the 2019 mental health law was passed, students from grades 6–12 have been required to learn about mental health and its symptoms in a ﬁve–hour curriculum. In order to meet these requirements, Seminole County has assigned Nearpods to be completed two times a week during third and fourth periods. Although this curriculum meets the standards, it does not work.
The most recent statistics were taken in 2017, which makes the curriculum seem unimportant. On top of that, the marijuana lesson had statistics from Canada, not the United States.Timely information is a prominent issue, but the bigger problem is the
lack of engagement. So what can we do to ﬁx it? Make updates with relevant, interactive and student-led lessons that keep the school interested.
During the Nearpod, we are taught about mental illnesses ranging from depression to anxiety, to panic disorder, but there is other content that is not relevant to our age group. For example, psychosis is extremely rare amongst teenagers. Instead of wasting time with this information, it should be used to discuss prominent topics like drug abuse or stress in more detail.
The information is not the biggest problem. The most difﬁcult issue to tackle however, is student engagement. One solution could be making a project. Students could be put into groups and be given a topic to research. Students would be given 30 minutes in class to research. The project could be essays, PowerPoint or even TikToks created
by the students that include recent statistics and information. The last week would simply be a period of presenting the information gathered by students.
Of course, this means more work for teachers, and it will take signiﬁcant class time to complete, but this way of approaching engagement could be beneﬁcial in the long run. Students will be informed and actively process the information they are researching instead of ignoring the Nearpods and playing on their phones. If it’s not a project, the end goal still needs to be student engagement. Answering questions during a Nearpod lesson is better than nothing, but not much.
In the end, the mental health curriculum needs change, and student projects are only one possibility. Everyone agrees that mental health education is critical; the question is how do we make the state mandated time more meaningful.
Hagerty High School
3225 Lockwood Blvd.
Oviedo, FL 32765
The BluePrint is a studentproduced newspaper in which the student editors make all content decisions. The newspaper belongs to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the National Scholastic Press Association and the Florida Scholastic Press Association.
Opinions expressed within the newspaper do not represent the staff’s views as a whole, the views of Seminole County Public Schools or Hagerty High School’s administration and staff.
Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous.
News and Multimedia Editor
Ava West, Karson Cuozzo
Abigail Neal, Andrew Wilson, Joshua Krob, James Lopez, Madi
Denizard, Rachelle English, Kailey Calvo, Grace Hilton
Dylan North Adviser
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Since its origin, the United States has emphasized the importance of religious freedom—it’s the ﬁrst thing granted in the First Amendment. This country is a melting pot of different belief systems, and they are expected to coexist in peace. Even so, religious hate has been in existence as long as religion. Much of this hate is directed towards less prevalent religions in the U.S., like Islam and Judaism, but also the most prevalent religion in the United States, Christianity, is subject to this hate.
In the U.S., petty hatred against Christians has become popular on platforms like TikTok. Users often refer to God as “Sky Daddy,” calling Christianity the “Sky Daddy fan club.” At ﬁrst glance, it seems harmless, but it shines a light on a double standard. Calling Allah “Sky Daddy” would be seen as disgusting—rightfully so—and any other religion’s holy ﬁgures should be treated with the same sensitivity.
Much of the hate against Christianity stems from the idea that all Christians are homophobic, antisemitic, racist— the list goes on. Yes, fundamental Christians have been most commonly associated with attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, and that is not okay. But most Christians do not hold such bitter beliefs. Society has come a long way in terms of inclusivity, and that includes many Christians. It’s important to recognize that Christianity and most other religions are rooted in the idea of love and acceptance, not judgment toward others. Just because a few Christians are hateful does not mean that they all are, and assuming so is ignorant.
Recently, rapper Kanye West, also known as Ye, gained media attention for his anti-semitic remarks on his Twitter and in his interviews. One of the many things he said was that Jews are only concerned about proﬁts: “I just think that’s what they’re about, is making money.” When this happened, many turned to the internet saying that it’s repulsive for such a high-proﬁle ﬁgure to spread offensive ideas. Still, some small groups supported his antics, spreading the idea that “Ye was right.” The bottom line: he wasn’t. He caused damage to an entire community based on a centuries-old stereotype, and his only consequence was losing a few brand deals.
Hateful speech, like Ye’s, is not acceptable toward any religion. What’s the moral difference between the internet agreeing with Ye and others calling Christians bigots? Both are untrue and harmful. Instead of putting entire groups of people down based on preconceived notions, we should focus on ending stereotypes and taking the time to learn about individuals and what they believe. Just as we should not hate on others for their heritage and traditions, we
should not ostracize those who practice religion, including Christians.
No, Christians are not oppressed in America. No, Christians do not have it as bad as other religions. But this does not make hating on them okay. Jews should not be characterized as materialistic, and Muslims should not be called terrorists. These false narratives increase the existing hate in society that most “tolerant” people beg to get rid of. We must expand on the progress we’ve made towards inclusivity and love—not shut others down for their beliefs.
On Jan. 27 Netflix released its newest original “You People.” With big names like Eddie Murphy, who plays Akbar, and Jonah Hill who plays Ezra, the movie had high expectations, which it did not meet. The movie eventually gets repetitive, trying to get viewers to laugh with the same repetative jokes just reworded. Not only does “You People” fail to bring fresh new humor, it attempts to show the struggle with cultural differences, but never fully grasps resolving those issues.- Angelica Mendez
On Jan. 26, K-pop boy group TXT unveiled “Sugar Rush Ride,” the title track of their newest album. Marketed as a song about not wanting to grow up, “Sugar Rush Ride” delivers as promised with a light, catchy tune. However, much of the album suffers from annoying repetition, and “Sugar Rush Ride” is no exception. The “sugar rush-ush-ush” in the chorus of “the song does get irritating. Other than that, the album has fairly redeeming qualities. “Sugar Rush Ride” displays the members’ beautiful vocals and the whistle anti-drop adds a unique, hypnotic touch.- Josephine Lim
Released Jan. 27, “Diamonds and Dancefloors” is pop singer Ava Max’s second album. The album keeps listeners hooked with multiple catchy like “Million Dollar Baby” and “Sleepwalker,” . Max’s album is also full of meaning for her with each song being changed to match her feelings during a hard breakup she went through while writing. “Diamonds and Dancefloors” shows just how far Max has come from her previous album and is not one to ‘Ghost.’- Angelica Mendez
“The Last Of Us,” a TV show adapted from a video game, premiered on HBO max Jan. 15. It is an emotional, actionpacked and heart-wrenching show that viewers can not help but love. The show perfectly balances action, emotion and even comedy in a way that never feels tacky. The pacing is fast but never rushed, with the audience always getting enough information to understand, while still making them crave more. “The Last of Us” is a gripping take on humanity with six episodes out right now and episode seven being released Feb. 26.
“Missing,” released in theaters on Jan. 20 follows single mother Grace (Nia Long) who takes a trip to Columbia but did not return, making her daughter June (Storm Reid) became suspicious. June attempts to find her mother, and her skillful tactics allowed her to do many things to solve the true mystery all while at home. No matter how much one may think they know they will likely end up being shocked. Her inspiring attitude and dedication to figuring out what happened makes the story appeals to all audiences.- Jacey Judd
Released Jan. 9, “The House of Wolves” is the newest book by James Patterson and Mike Lupica. It follows a family’s grief after the death of a powerful family member. Never knowing what will happen next, each page turn will excite readers, and as the story turns violent, the mystery surrounding the family starts to unravel. Until the very last page, readers will be hooked and left wanting more. Patterson and Lupica have done it again, leaving all of the readers breathless until the end.- Aryn Overton
Released on Jan. 20, “Moonlight Sunrise” is K-pop girl group TWICE’s second all-English single. “Moonlight Sunrise” fails to capture the listener’s heart, instead ringing in their ears like a catchy yet mildly annoying earworm. The song certainly has potential to differentiate itself from other K-pop music, but its repetitive and cringy lyrics prevent it from doing so. Overall, the line “I guarantee I gotcha”—repeated throughout the song—provides a good summary of what English in K-pop sounds like: cringy, cliche, and unimaginative.- Janell Lim
In a game newly released on Jan. 30, on Steam titled “Postmouse,”users play as the main character of the story, Postmouse, a delivery mouse. The animations throughout convey the personality of each character, and tell the story perfectly. The difficulty level of the game is very low, providing a nice leisurely experience. Light exploration and beautiful scenery are major charm factors of this game. From the animation all the way to the music, every aspect of this game is high quality.- Hannah Jiang
For staying in the to-go box for about an hour, this bowl stayed nice and warm. While some bursts of flavor were missing, we were definitely not short on lettuce, even to the point where it was falling out of the bowl. Despite the bowl being one of the better options of the night, we don’t think it lived up to its price of $14.
The Tea Social: 4/10
This drink was beautiful, which made me super excited to try it. However, the tea had a chalky texture, which made it a little hard to swallow. The flavoring was on the sides of the cup, which was kind of weird, but it made the drink much more aesthetic. We think it’s just a step above mediocre.
Fully Loaded: 4/10
Our biggest concern was the redness we found inside the patty, coupled with soggy toppings. Grease was a problem throughout the whole meal, and the cheese fries were soggy and flavorless. They definitely could have been more crisp and the cheese more stringy. This meal was not worth the money, or the 10-minute wait.Nadia Knoblauch | News Editor
Thursday nights often consist of homework, calm nights in and anticipation for the weekend, but on the last Thursday of each month, Oviedo on the Park’s Food Truck
The Knot: 9.25/10
The chicken was well-seasoned and cooked—much better than the Fully Loaded burger. The marinara sauce tasted great, and there was a perfect amount of it. The garlic knot itself was crispy and had a little bit of a crunch to it, which we loved. Our only complaint is that it was a bit greasy, but it did not away from the flavor.
Thursday aims to give these boring nights a tasty spin. For their event on Jan. 26, we tried out seven of their 10 truck options. From fried sushi to garlic knot sliders, Food Truck Thursday had a variety of options, but not all lived up to our expectations.
The empanaditas were brought out in under two minutes and their beef filling stayed steamy on the car ride home. Although we found the tortilla a bit chewy, the flavor of the beef and sauce outweighed the unpleasant texture. These empanaditas are a good snack and we would definitely try them again.
Pho Wheels: 4.5/10
Sushi is one of my favorite foods, and I definitely prefer it to be cooked. The “sushi” wasn’t sushi at all — it was a circular mass of rice with a singular, tiny piece of crab in the middle. The sauce drizzled on top was quite sweet, and I think it would have paired well with more seafood, but it was out of place on this entrée.
The donuts themselves were nice and soft, but not overly chewy. The powdered sugar was not overdone, and our mouths were not left dry like they are with many grocery store donut brands. The sweetness of the donuts gave us a perfect palette cleanse, and we would both love to go back and try more of their flavors.
We found The Knot’s chicken Parmesan slider to be our favorite of the night, with The Tea Social’s taro boba being our least favorite. Overall, we felt Food Truck Thursday was a great way to spice up our night and expand our flavor palettes, but only a few trucks left a good impression on our taste buds and our wallets.
We all sit through presentations on anxiety, depression and ADHD during mandated mental health training, but most of us dismiss it, thinking it does not really apply to us. The truth is that many of our students are struggling with the labels and diagnoses we hear about but do not truly understand and it is important that we sympathize with and support these students.
Here are some stories of people in our school who are trying their best to cope with everything going on in their lives.
*All names used have been changed for privacy.
When you hear your parents shout, ‘Clean your room!’ most would reply with a grumbling ‘Okay’ or a slight argument, but that is not the reality for Charlie*. He was diagnosed with Attention Deﬁcit Disorder, depression and Oppositional Deﬁant Disorder—a mental disorder which causes the victim to be disobedient, uncooperative and even violent. Charlie began showing signs when he was only 5, suffering from uncontrollable anger and violent outbursts.
As Charlie grew older, his ODD symptoms led to severe depression. He got to the point where he was Baker Acted—detained for under 72 hours in a mental institution—on four different occasions. People can be Baker Acted by ﬁrst responders if they are believed to not be able to make rational decisions, or if they become a danger to themselves or others.
Charlie had terrible experiences at the mental institutions, including people smashing glass, getting beat up ﬁve times by other patients and watching someone kick a door and shatter his foot.
Charlie’s ODD has also caused his relationship with his family and friends to suffer greatly. Due to his outbursts and other factors caused by his ODD, ADD and depression, his girlfriend broke up with him.
“I don’t feel like I belong. I get so angry it’s hard to keep jobs, I always feel like everyone is out to get me, like I’m not worth anything,” Charlie said.
It was a normal trip to New Jersey, an annual tradition for Jane*. Until the nausea hit. Until she threw up. Until the panic attacks. What was once a vacation quickly turned into a sleepless nightmare.
“I started screaming and crying because I could not get myself to eat without throwing up,” Jane said. “It makes me feel like it is pointless to be alive or do anything during my panic attacks.”
After that week in New Jersey, she came home and planned to go to the doctor when she started to panic while trying to get in the car. She stayed home from school for a week, only leaving her bedroom to go to the bathroom or get a drink and barely eating or sleeping.
“I missed so much school work that week and it was such a pain to get back on track,” Jane said. “It felt impossible to make anything up because when I tried, I would have a panic attack about how much work I had to do.”
After this experience, she was ﬁnally able to go to the doctor, after her parents convinced her, and they diagnosed her with panic disorder and put her on Zoloft. Although the medication helped her panic attacks for some time, it was not a long term solution.
For now, Jane copes by distancing herself from other people. Although not ideal, she shuts down whenever she feels her life is going downhill and has a very hard time opening back up.
“Even though I can shut down, I still ﬁnd ways to cope with the pain,” Jane said. “I read books, take long showers, and go to the gym whenever I feel the need to get away.”
While playing his instrument in band class, Jacob* became lightheaded. He quickly set his instrument down before falling to the ground, shaking and unresponsive. The untrained eye might mistake
this episode for a seizure, but effect of extreme anxiety. Jacob will have instances doing homework at the next backwards and starts twitching.
“Everything just stops for very poor grades,” Jacob said. Jacob was diagnosed with depression at 16. His anxiety experience extreme symptoms, episodes, muscle spasms and little for his anxiety to be triggered, with these problems on a daily His ADHD and anxiety also his relationships, making it hard friends.
“Once [anxiety and the not seem much, people want to were concerned anything said. Although Jacob doesn’t he has still found ways to improve reactions, such as counseling. signiﬁcantly helped, he still struggles things pertaining to his ADHD missing social cues.
“My social life has been I don’t think there is any good back. Even though I am on the incredibly hard to get back,”
Nicole* was writing an essay something on the wall. It distracted off of her train of thought. She percent on that essay, and got worse as time went on.
Nicole was diagnosed with
My disorder got so bad that it took over my life. It was hard to see my grades drop to rock bottom and my family worrying.
When junior Alena Pezzoli ﬁrst heard about Ali’s Hope, a group working to improve teen mental health, she was eager to be a part of it.
but it was actually a side instances when he is just next thing he knows he falls twitching. for a bit and it has led to said.
with ADHD at 9 and anxiety has caused him to symptoms, including seizure-like and fainting. It takes very triggered, so Jacob deals daily basis.
also has taken a toll on hard to make and keep
“Once I started having these reactions] I lost friends friends I had really did seem to want to talk to me as people just usually didn’t talk to me because they concerned and didn’t want anything to do with me,” Jacob doesn’t take medication, improve and lessen his counseling. Though therapy has struggles with a lot of ADHD and anxiety, such as been greatly affected and good way of getting that the mend, it is going to be back,” Jacob said.
essay while she saw distracted her and threw her She ended up getting a 65 her grades and focus only
with combination ADHD
(ADHD and ADD), general anxiety and depression after her mom took her to the doctor to ﬁnd out why she could not focus.
“Having so many people not understand me as a person and always disregarding my ADHD and ADD always brings me down,” Nicole said.
Nicole bounces her legs, taps her ﬁngers, talks a mile-a-minute and gets distracted very easily due to her ADHD. This causes her to loose focus very easily and not be bale to concentrate.
“I try so hard in school but sometimes I can’t focus no matter what I do,” Nicole said. “Family and friends never understood why I could not focus until I got diagnosed. It contributes so much to my anxiety because I feel like I am never going to be good enough.”
Nicole’s doctor prescribed her Adderall, Prozac, Hydroxyzine, Brilla and vitamins to help combat her mental disorders. Although these prescriptions help her tremendously, there are still some noticeable side effects in her daily life and in her relationships.
Nicole has gathered more coping mechanisms, like sitting in a quiet room to calm down before a test, as time has gone by. Even so, her friends and family still worry about her.
“At some point, my disorder got so bad that it took over my life. It was hard to see my grades drop to rock bottom and my family worrying about me all of the time,” Nicole said.
“I liked the idea of giving students more opportunities for growth and support,” Pezzoli said.
On Jan. 26, assistant principal and club sponsor Kristi Draus met with a group of students to go over design plans and make sure the space would be comfortable for all. Eventually, Draus hopes to start initiatives, programs and events to provide students with mental health resources, including a podcast that students can relate to.
“[We want] it to be student voices, talking to students instead of grown folks thinking we know what’s best for you all the time,” Draus said.
Ali’s Hope was founded by Joe Gallagher, whose daughter Allyson committed suicide in 2007. After a student at Lake Mary committed suicide in 2019, administrators turned to the nonproﬁt organization as a way to help others suffering with mental illness.
“Ali’s Hope was instrumental to [Lake Mary] in ensuring that we had mental health support for students,” counselor Andrea Fuhrer said.
As Ali’s Hope spread across Seminole County, Hagerty jumped on board with a similar approach. Its temporary name, Wellness Club, will be a safe space for students in room 7-215 to go to during both lunches. This space will aim to serve students who might usually eat by themselves or to help them decompress before continuing with the rest of their day.
“[High school is] a lot, so we’re taking in those things and creating that space,” Draus said.
Although the space is meant to improve the wellbeing of students, Draus hopes it will also diffuse issues like bullying and discrimination.
“It doesn’t matter how successful you are academically if you’re not well as a human [being],” Draus said.
Ultimately, the group hopes to provide students with the support they need to know they are not alone and how to reach out for help. Some students come from cultures where mental health support is not highly supported, so this new program gives those students a voice.
“We want to break down the mental health stigmas at Hagerty and focus on how mental health isn’t a sign of weakness,” Pezzoli said.
Because the program is by students for students, those in charge are looking for their peers’ input on design or ideas to ﬁt the needs of everyone. The Wellness Club serves to give students a voice who never had one before.
Applying early decision seemed like Alex Tao’s best bet to get into his target school: Princeton University.
For Kirsten Trevino, Columbia University seemed like a dream with its proximity to the city and many job opportunities.
Senior Eshan Kabir found Columbia’s Core Curriculum Program, an emphasis on STEM and humanities, to be a “perfect ﬁt.”
As Sana Yooseph worked on her college applications, she had one school in mind: the University of Pennsylvania.
Over the past three years, Hagerty has produced over 5 Ivy League students, who went on to attend schools such as Columbia, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Brown and Yale. As the average Ivy acceptance rate is just above 9%, this is an achievement for a school that has only been open for 18 years.
Yooseph graduated from Hagerty in 2022 and now majors in neuroscience at UPenn on the pre-med track. After taking 21 AP classes, accumulating a 4.6 GPA and scoring a 36 on her ACT, Yooseph was academically qualiﬁed to get into her dream school, but she learned it was about more than just numbers.
“I always thought that numbers mattered the most, but the reality is that thousands of students with perfect scores apply to colleges every year,” Yooseph said.
Kabir, a current senior who will be attending Columbia University next year, found his essay to be the main focus of his application.
“Colleges want to see someone that puts their all into what they do,” Kabir said. “I had to back that up with solid writing—getting my message
across was just as important as what the message was in the ﬁrst place.”
According to collegevine.com college essays now typically count for 25% of the application, meaning high test scores do not guarantee a spot at the top schools. Although grades may no longer make or break an application, they still contribute to the admissions process, especially at Ivy League schools.
“I think at Princeton, more than two-thirds of the entire school had 4.0’s in high school,” Tao said. “I think that’s ridiculous, but that’s just how the numbers stand.”
According to Tao, Yooseph, Trevino and Kabir, extracurriculars are an impactful way to demonstrate responsibility and leadership on applications.
“If you are deciding late into your junior year you want to apply to an Ivy, it’s probably too late,” Trevino said. “You have to be ahead of the curve and plan out [your] schedule and extracurriculars freshman year, not your senior year.”
Trevino, a 2022 graduate and freshman at Columbia University, was also able to show her leadership, working on student government, Education Rocks Club and as president of the Oviedo Youth Advisory Council.
“I know people who had better grades and a higher GPA than me, but because they didn’t have any extracurriculars that broke the mold they didn’t get in,” Trevino said.
According to Kabir, activities are not only a way to improve your application, but to develop skills and relationships merely academics cannot provide.
“The friendships I’ve made have taught me valuable lessons about life that I’ll be able to carry on to my college education,” Kabir said.
The plague of “legacy” admissions, privileged ﬁnancial backgrounds and even feeder schools may bring unequal advantages and contribute to a student’s likelihood of getting into an Ivy league. According to a 2022 Forbes article, despite private school students making up only 8.5% of American high school students, they accounted for 40% of the incoming freshman classes at Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth.
“A few of my friends come from notorious feeder schools,” Tao said. “Of course, Hagerty doesn’t have any of those connections, but that’s just something you have to deal with.”
Not only do connections help some students get into these schools, but plays and hooks are present after acceptance as well.
“There is so much nepotism and networking is so important—if you don’t know the right people it’s hard to ﬁnd opportunities,” Yooseph said.
Along with connections, income also plays a factor in getting into these schools. According to a 2019 CNBC article, over 14% of Ivy League students’ households’ are in the top 1% of income. Coming from a middleclass family, Tao, who graduated in 2021 and is now majoring in math at Princeton University, not only took prestige into account when ﬁlling out applications but ﬁnancial aid options as well.
“I think ﬁnancial aid is awful, especially for my family’s income range, so I focused on private schools just because they give very generous aid,” Tao said.
Despite the common idea of an Ivy being cutthroat and rigorous, Yooseph found it to be similar to
the high school experience at ﬁrst, getting to meet and mix with new people.
“Going into Penn, I expected rigorous classes and intense competition, and that is partly true,” Yooseph said. “However, there are so many nice people who are genuinely so uplifting.”
Even with these surprising factors, the rigor of an Ivy League is still very real, but comparable to that of an AP curriculum, according to Trevino.
“It’s more workload, but there’s a lot more free time,” Trevino said. We don’t all study 24/7 and a lot of people aren’t as smart as you might assume.”
Compared to high school, Tao also noted how diversity has been a key factor in his assimilation to college life, going from a 6% Asian population to 28%.
“I don’t feel like a minority anymore on campus—I think that’s probably one of the nicest things about my experience,” Tao said.
As Ivy Leagues hold up an idea of prestige, honor and high rigor, students should remember that being at an Ivy does not simply mean one student is better than another.
“If you don’t get into an Ivy it’s not because you’re not worthy of getting in,” Trevino said. “Be willing to work hard, be humble and respect the process.”COLLEGE BOUND Alex Tao stands in front of the “Pair of Tigers” statue on Princeton’s campus. After graduating from Hagerty in 2021, Tao studies math and computer science. Photo | Alex Tao
Be willing to work hard, be humble and respect the process.
- Kirsten Trevino, class of 2022
It was Jan. 2, and most people were winding down from New Year’s, but senior Daniel Hernquist was waiting in front of CVS for his Adderall reﬁll, his thoughts far from celebratory. After calling his pharmacy, Hernquist waited on hold for two hours, and then drove there only to wait another 30 minutes in line. When he ﬁnally met with the pharmacist, the pharmacist simply apologized and told him that no CVS in Florida has Adderall.
“[The pharmacist] told me, ‘Your best bet would probably be having it mailed in from another state. Or driving around to other places with pharmacies and asking if they have it,” Hernquist said. “I was like, ‘Oh, s---, what am I gonna do?’”
Hernquist is not alone. On Oct. 12, the Federal Drug Administration announced a nationwide shortage of Adderall, the primary medication used to treat attention deﬁcit hyperactivity disorder. Three months later, the shortage continues to plague Adderall users, including junior Jenna Lopez.
“I’m starting to have more trouble in school, especially with focus,” Lopez said. “I’ve been a lot more tired and my quality of life has kind of degraded. It’s not ideal, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
According to experts like psychiatrist Grantley Ittera, the shortage was caused by a rising demand for Adderall coupled with declining supply. With an increase of nearly 20% from 2020 to 2021, the demand for Adderall has spiked. Getting a prescription also became easier in 2020, when the
U.S. government eased rules to allow Adderall prescribing during telehealth visits. Combined with worker shortages at Teva, the largest supplier for Adderall, obtaining the medication has become increasingly difﬁcult.
Ittera, who works with children and adults who have mental health concerns, recognizes the potentially dangerous effects of the Adderall shortage on patients.
“In some patients, the ability to focus is crucial for everyday activities like driving. Imagine how dangerous it would be if patients were running red lights due to not having their medications,” Ittera said.
For now, Adderall users are left to cope with withdrawal symptoms. When the shortage ﬁrst hit Hernquist, who has been taking Adderall for three years, he was left with just two pills of his regular dosage. Since his typical dose only lasts four hours, Hernquist’s stock quickly drained, leaving him to cope with life without Adderall.
“[Without Adderall] I’ll usually have a big burst of energy in the beginning of the day and then be like a total zombie for the rest of the day,”
Hernquist said. “So it kind of helps me have more consistent energy, instead of one big crash.”
Although frequent naps and caffeine helps maintain his energy, Hernquist says it is a poor substitute for Adderall.
“Caffeine helps keep me awake a little, but it’s not the same,” Hernquist said. “It’s like I’m falling asleep every second of the day. I’m not as sharp as I usually am.”
Senior Kenna Gay, who has been taking Adderall since ﬁ fth grade, experiences similar symptoms.
“It’s much harder to go through my daily life because I’ve taken it for so long. I’m very used to it,” Gay said. “I get very spacey and it’s hard to carry on conversations. It’s hard to focus in class. It’s hard to get work done. It just impedes every single function that I have.”
Luckily, Gay was able to get a reﬁll for her prescription recently, but even that stock has dwindled.
“I’m trying to ration it out because
I do need it on a daily basis,” Gay said. “I’m trying to be aware of days that I would speciﬁcally need it. Like I have college auditions coming up and on those days I’d be like, ‘Okay, make sure I have some Adderall on those days that I can take.’”
According to Gay, there have been other instances when she struggled to obtain Adderall, but this has been the most prolonged drought.
“There was a time when I couldn’t get it in the spring and that actually affected my grades to the point where I had to do credit recovery because I just could not turn in my work or get anything done,” Gay said.
For many Adderall users, the shortage has made them realize their dependence on Adderall, a troubling yet inescapable fact.
“[The shortage] kind of reminded me that I’m not as capable as I want to be unless I have the extra help,” Hernquist said. “I can’t just get up and do better because my body physically can’t do that.”
Stranded in Hawaii was not how senior Sarah Braun planned to spend the new year. After leaving a luau dressed in leis and ﬂoral outﬁts, her family’s rental car got two ﬂat tires. With no cell phone connection, they were unable to get in contact with a tow truck or 911.
She left her family to use a bathroom, and two strangers approached her and asked if she wanted to come with them, so she ran back to her family’s car. Later, Braun and her brothers were told to ride with a different set of strangers to a gas station so they could call an Uber. While they were waiting, the three witnessed an armed robbery at the gas station, were questioned by the police, and ﬁnally, around 2 a.m., the group’s Uber arrived and they made it back to the hotel.
“Everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” Braun said. “It was like a movie.”
When you travel to every state and 10 different countries, you tend to have a lot of memorable stories— some crazier than others.
Braun’s family ﬁrst began their cross-country road trip because of her brothers’ love for baseball. They started visiting every Major League Baseball stadium in the country and ended up visiting 30 states. Braun’s family then decided to make it a goal to see all 50 states, which took about 10 years.
Braun has stories from every state, but her favorites include Utah because there is so much to do yearround, as well as New Mexico because of its national parks like the White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns.
“New Mexico is just special to me with it being the last state,” Braun said. “I never anticipated it to be so pretty because I feel like the state itself isn’t really talked about.”
Despite her New Year’s ﬁasco, Braun included Hawaii and Alaska in her top ﬁve as well. In Alaska, Braun felt connected to nature with Alaska’s glaciers and mountains and she loved how important their culture and traditions were to locals. In Hawaii, Braun loved the vibrant sunsets and watching volcanoes erupt from a helicopter. She loved Hawaii’s culture and their kindness to even tourists made her feel welcome on their island.
“We were greeted with so many “alohas,” shaka signs and “mahalo” that it felt as if we were being welcomed into their island,” Braun said. “Their culture is so important to them and you just don’t get that from any other state besides those two.”
With all of the places she has been, Braun has a lot of tips and tricks she has picked up, including planning ahead of time. Her family ﬁnds brochures full of things to do before they get there, buying tickets to museums or planning other excursions before their trip.
Her trip to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico was one of their activities
planned ahead of time. These caves did not compare to any other cave national parks she had been to, over 1,000 feet deep and 30 miles long.
The family enjoyed traveling so much that after they conquered the United States, they started traveling internationally. But travel outside the U.S. is very different, so the planning is also very different. Braun packs a lot lighter because theft is more common, and because of this, her family packs small bags with limited zippers or openings so it would be harder for someone to take something.
“We’ve seen so many people [that theft] has happened to, so we always play it safe with smaller bags,” Braun said.
With being to so many different places and experiencing different cultures, Braun quickly learned how different places treat tourists and how to interact in those places.
“I learned mannerisms in certain countries. In France, they aren’t polite, so if you learn some of their phrases, they tend to change their attitude towards you,” Braun said.
Although she is not ﬂuent in any other languages, she learns simple words and phrases of the most common language spoken in the country she is traveling to.
“In France, they up-charge the English menus. So [if you ask], ‘can I have this in English?’ it’s like $10 more than if you just get the menu [in French],” Braun said.
In different countries, Braun says
it is easiest to stay in a hotel in the most popular spots or in the center of a major city. This way, there is usually always someone who speaks English and they are within walking distance of everything. Her family does not usually use tour guides, unless they visit an attraction like the Colosseum where they do not know much. Walking everywhere allows Braun’s family to take things in more than if they drove.
“We’ll have like 30,000 steps in a day,” Braun said. “We just walk everywhere and it’s day on day.”
But taking so many steps is okay, especially when it led to one of her dream spots, the Eiffel Tower.
“When I saw it, it was cool, but when I saw it at night and it sparkled, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so magical,’” Braun said.
This summer, Braun plans to add 10 new countries to her list, including a few in Europe. She is most excited to travel to Iceland and Switzerland.
“I just like seeing everything,” Braun said. “Places are so different and it’s fun to see different cultures and try different foods.”
Braun’s family creates a photo album for every trip they go on. Along the way, Braun has made many memories but has also learned to not take what she has in her life for granted.
“Especially going to other countries... you don’t think how lucky you are [more] than when you visit other places,” Braun said.
By February, many New Year’s resolutions are hanging on by a thin thread and in most cases, that resolution is to go to the gym to grind for that “ideal body.” Whether it is a guy trying to bulk up or a girl trying to get an hourglass shape, everyone is working to achieve body goals, and there is one main reason everyone is working towards these highly desirable looks.
For Emily*, the trap was overexercising and falling for the online workout videos that promised results in two weeks. Workout programs like ‘Chloe Ting: two week shred challenge’ and ‘Blogilates 14-day quarantine challenge’ took over the internet during quarantine. Created by different inﬂuencers and featuring different workouts, these videos had one thing in common: they promised weight loss.
Most days, she would do an hour of cardio and an hour and a half of these popular workout videos. One of the most common ones she did was the Alexis Ren ab workout, which is a model’s go-to ab exercises that promises a quick and effective ab routine.
“I know myself and a lot of people over quarantine were kind of on this health kick, and we would all over exercise, under eat and follow all trends that we would see,” Emily said.
Emily was not alone when it came to the health-crazed quarantine year. Many people hopped onto workout plans all to work off that dreaded
The “quarantine 15” is essentially the college “freshman 15.” It stood for the additional 15 pounds everyone thought they would gain, so while the world was suffering from a global pandemic, a lot of people were worrying about that dreaded weight gain, turning to diet culture’s “quick ﬁxes” to prevent it.
“The quarantine 15 negatively affected many people, but it is just a strategy they used to make us want to buy weight prevention stuff, and we all fell for it,” Emily said. “It made me feel like I had to do all these things just not to gain a little weight.”
For Emily, the quick weight loss “remedies” were apple cider vinegar pills and the Olly probiotic and prebiotic gummies. She hoped that these two pills would help her looked toned and help her lose weight faster. But many of the “quick ﬁxes” marketed to prevent weight gain are all used to reach the ideal body goal diet culture has set up for people.
Products like apple cider vinegar vitamins, waist trainers and steroids only successfully sell because people are told they can lose weight and look a certain way by using them. According to Marketing Week, marketers know that consumers associate the goal of weight loss with failure, guilt and frustration, feelings created by diet culture’s body standards.
But over time, the excessive workout plan and quick ﬁx pills did not work for Emily and she decided to ask her mom for help. She and her mom then formed a healthier workout plan and went to the gym
together, as well as worked on ﬁxing their diets to incorporate all the nutrients they needed to be healthy without the diet pills and vitamins.
With social media feed constantly full of inﬂuencers and famous people, Sarah* started to compare herself to these people every day. From 2020 to 2022, she began to struggle with her eating. While the struggle started off small with cutting out junk food , it progressed to where she could barely eat healthy stuff.
“I just could not eat without regretting and wanting to get rid of food I ate,” Sarah said. “It got to the point where I was on vacation and got a salad, ate half then got really upset and felt guilty, [and thought] I should not have eaten that.”
As her condition worsened, she was worried that her condition was becoming an eating disorder and decided to talk to her brother, who helped her have a “social media detox.”
“He just kept checking up on me and making sure I was eating and would tell me to stay off [social media],” Sarah said. “It just kind of helped having someone to talk to, who made sure I was doing okay and made sure I was not comparing myself to others.”
Finding the perfect medium for clean eating before it gets excessive and a good amount of exercise are key to stopping diet culture.
“You have to know that what’s on the inside matters,” junior Alana Hunt said. “Appearance is not something that holds as much weight as who you are as a person and what you do with your life.”
*names changed for privacy
It made me feel like I had to do all these things just not to gain a little weight.
Social media skews students’ perspective of and justIllustration | Josephine Lim
Forsenior Kathlynn Nguyen, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival is an annual tradition. Surrounded by red traditional clothing, dancing lions and singing performances, Nguyen feels right at home.
“I like the hectic environment. It’s crazy, especially at the food stations, everyone is buying and ordering so much,” Nguyen said. “There was one time where a person ordered 10 plus drinks at once. But it’s cool, it’s like Cooking Fever in real life.”
Beginning on Jan. 22 this year, Tet, or the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, lasts for 15 days and kicks off the year of the cat in the Vietnamese zodiac. For Nguyen, that means 15 days of exchanging red envelopes, playing bau cua tôm cá, a traditional Viet dice game, and eating bánh tét, sticky rice with meat. But after all the fun and games, Nguyen remembers what this holiday really means to her.
“I love being around my family,” Nguyen said. “There’s no specific part I enjoy the most [about Tet]. If I’m with my family, everything is my favorite part.”
Radiological scientist, pilot, teacher—Adam Hayden has been defined by perseverance and opportunity.
After former Modeling and Simulation teacher Steven Martinez announced he would be stepping down to move with his family to North Carolina last semester, students have gotten to know Hayden, Martinez’s replacement.
“I feel I’ve wandered around a good bit. Most of the directions I’ve picked in life didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, and I had to go in another direction,” Hayden said.
Hayden graduated from UCF and began his career in the medical field, working as a radiologist specializing in image manipulation. When the work space became overloaded, Hayden decided to pursue other interests. Drawn to aviation, he started pilot training, but the cost was tremendous with no guarantee of a job at the end of the training.
“I decided I would not spend any more money to have a chance to get into a cockpit,” Hayden said. “There’s a point at which you say ‘For my own health, I have got to do what’s best for me.’”
Coincidentally, the contacts made in aviation led to a job at a local high school that was looking for someone with a background in aviation or
engineering. Though teaching was not his original plan, Hayden managed to make the most of it, and currently is working to be certified in Autodesk Maya, the primary software used by Mod and Sim to create 3D models.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but most of my educational difficulties came from my dyslexia. Of course, there are benefits to my spatial awareness—I can rotate things in my mind, which made Maya and aviation perfect for me,” Hayden said.
Currently, the priority is Maya certification, but the curriculum allows for much more. Hayden is interested in revitalizing some of the neglected areas of the course that were consolidated to focus on certification.
“Ideas are being thrown around like our students could take a field trip to UCF and get real hands-on experience with the subject,” Hayden said.
Hayden plans to incorporate what he has learned over the years to offer students the best setting to learn and create, offering student access to the unused 3D printer in the classroom. He is eager to start working and learning alongside his students.
“This is rich soil. We can really grow some stuff here,” Hayden said.
On the eve of the new year, Nguyen made sure to wish “chúc mung năm moi” to her family back in Vietnam.
“I used to spend New Year’s with them when I was little, but we moved so we made sure to call them to wish them a happy new year,” Nguyen said.
Although her extended family is not with her, Nguyen finds a second family in the Viet community. Her church celebrated Tet on Jan. 22 with a mass Sunday service, and hosted the Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival on Jan. 28-29.
“[The mass] was more like a gathering before the real fun starts,” Nguyen said. “I got to take a picture with the dragon, and I actually used to be absolutely terrified of dragons. I used to run away whenever I saw one [but now] they’re cool.”
Lasting from morning to night, the festival provided everything from game booths to boba to live performances. Last year, Nguyen even performed “Hello Vietnam” at the festival.
“It was fun but also super scary because it’s the biggest event in the Viet community so there were so many people,” Nguyen said.
At the end of the day, Nguyen sees the celebration of Tet as a connection to her roots.
“Since it’s such a traditional holiday, I think it’s important to keep that tradition alive in order to keep the culture alive,” Nguyen said.TAKING CHARGE Mod and Sim teacher Adam Hayden manages his sixth period class. Hayden replaced former teacher Steven Martinez, who moved to North Carolina after the first semester. Photo | Amber Ashby
Again, they were only three points from being eliminated. However, in the final round of competition, the girls pulled together and scored sixth place with no deductions, a surprising score considering the previous rounds.
The finish at nationals was important after the disappointment with the state finals result. The girls felt they were in a good position to win, but Winter Park placed higher in individual categories: tumbling, towers and crowd components.
“We had practices the day of and the day before. But once we got on the mat, things didn’t go as well as we hoped,” captain Mia Campese said.
With a second place finish at the state championships, the varsity cheer team had to stay focused for the national competition one week later in Orlando. On Feb. 12, they placed sixth against over 100 teams with a score of 92.6, three and half points out of first place in Division 1.
Beginning with the preliminary competition, they scored third in their group with a small deduction of half a point, pushing them forward to the group semifinals. Here, they placed 10th with a two point deduction, almost ending their competition. However, they continued to the overall semifinal round and placed 13th, tying with Mountain Vista High School.
“We put in our best effort, but it wasn’t our best performance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for us to take the title.”
With a goal of improving, the girls performed their routine without any point deductions in the final round at nationals, a step forward from their one point deduction at states. Along with this, they became better teammates leading up to the national competition which allowed them to perform a perfect choreography.
“We’ve improved as a team, and when we’re doing our routines full out, we can see that everybody is trying their hardest for each other and not just themselves,” captain Delaney Geiger said.
The varsity boys soccer team ended their season against Winter Park 1-0, in the district semifinal game.
Even though that was not the outcome the team wanted, many Goalkeeper Erwin Eberhardt is proud of the improvements the team has made this year, and how they all came together in the last game.
“That was probably the best game we have played. I felt that we connected and we all wanted to reach the goal of moving onto the championship,” Eberhardt said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t get the result but I am so proud of the team and how we finished.”
After 90 minutes of regulation time, 20 minutes of overtime and nine penalty kicks, girls soccer took home a huge district title Jan. 31, just three days after an upset 2-1 win against Winter Park.
Going into their district game, the team was nervous, knowing they were about to play against undefeated Timber Creek with the district title on the line—a title they had not won since 2014.
“They are such a strong team, but I also knew what our team is capable of,” left back Mallory Precord said.
In the final quarter before overtime, goalie Aryana Rosenblum tried blocking a goal that went right over her head, afraid it would be the end to the game, but she watched the ball hit the edge of the net and continue traveling out of bounds.
The first 10 minutes of overtime were a fast-paced battle between both teams, while the last 10 minutes lasted forever before the team kicked their winning penalty kicks.
During the last five minutes of overtime, Rosenblum stopped a potential goal by Timber Creek in the corner of the net.
“Toward the end, the whole team started to sort of freak out because once [the game] went into overtime we all knew eventually we’d get to the penalty kicks,” Rosenblum said.
As overtime ended both teams began preparing to kick their penalties. Timber Creek started off missing their first goal.
While the teams took turns with their penalty kicks, Megan O’Donnell, Brynn Waddell, and Olivia Cachet scored the first three penalty kicks but missed their fourth kick.
After both teams had kicked four penalty kicks each Timber Creek missed their fifth and final kick attempt and Hagerty became the winner of the district championship.
The team went on to face Creekside at home on Feb. 7 for the regional quarterfinals.
At their game against Creekside the team lost 5-0 putting an end to their season and finishing with a 11-61 overall record.Abigail Neal | Staff Reporter Karson Cuozzo | Sports Editor Senior Daimyan Diaz takes a shot at the goal. Photo | Shannon Hahn Center mid Megan O’Donnell slides past Creekside players to save the play. Photo | Sarah Hinnant Members of the medium varsity cheer team compete at the Hagerty Cheer Challenge. Photo | Sharon Sheridan
For the first time in school history, the girls basketball team won a district title on Feb. 3, beating Colonial 51-50. It was the first match up against Colonial this season, and despite a 26-1 record, Hagerty was the underdog to the visitors, who were ranked third in 7A.
This win was especially satisfying for senior Hannah Kohn, who was part of the team that lost to Colonial in last year’s district final.
“I was really happy because we played them last year in the district championship and we lost. I knew we had a good shot for a comeback this year, and honestly, this win felt like redemption,” said Kohn.
Throughout the game, Colonial and Hagerty were neck and neck, only points apart. Kohn had 29 points during the game, scoring two free throws with only four seconds left in the fourth quarter, keeping everyone on the edge of their seat.
“Those last few seconds were really nerve wracking,” said Kohn.
To prepare for this game, the team watched film of their last few games, as well as last season’s game against Colonial.
“Watching film definitely helps. We map out each game and who we’re going to guard, and how our offense will look,” said Kohn.
While focusing on the technique of how they were actually going to play, the team also focused on how they would approach this game mentally.
“I think we were especially nervous for this game because of last year’s playoff, but I knew that we would have a good chance of winning because of how we’ve been playing all season and our record,” said Kohn.
The team knew the only way they would be able to pull off a win was to keep being aggressive and competitive on the court and play how they play during normal games throughout the season.
“Stakes were definitely high and you could feel
the competitiveness on both sides. This game was definitely more physical than we’re used to, and even more aggressive than what we watched on film. That was probably the most challenging part,” said freshman Cece Hayes.
During these playoff games, Head Coach Josh Kohn has encouraged the team to continue the same prepping strategy that they’ve had all season.
After beating Ocoee, Hagerty had a 47–39 loss in a rematch Regional semi final game against Colonial. This game continued the pattern of very physically demanding Hagerty vs. Colonial match ups. Hagerty started the game up by 9 points during the first period, but ended up being tied 35–35 with Colonial at halftime. During the third period, Hagerty did their best to make a comeback but ended up trailing by 10 at the start of the fourth period. Both coaches and players were upset at lack of calls.
“It was a hard loss. We played our best and it just didn’t go how we wanted it to. There were definitely some tough calls which didn’t make it any easier for us,” said Hayes.
The aggression on both sides was apparent, which made scoring difficult. Both teams were on the ground fighting for the ball several times throughout the game. The team gave it their all, but couldn’t continue their positive momentum throughout the entire game. Hagerty scored six points in the second quarter—off two 3s from senior Kiara Harris—and seven points in the third quarter.
“Games like those are tough. We tried our best, and you could tell how badly both teams wanted it. I’m proud of the season we had,” said Kohn.
Junior Camryn Patterson led the team with 12 points, including eight in the final period. Senior combo guard Hannah Kohn scored two three pointers, with a total of seven points.
Even though their season has come to an end, there was plenty to celebrate about the Hagerty girls basketball season. From being the district champions for the first time ever, to having a stellar 27–2 record, the Hagerty girls basketball team hopes to continue the momentum.
“I’m really looking forward to next season to improve my game. I’m excited to take the skills that Coach Kohn has taught me all year and continue practicing them next year,” said Hayes.THE KOHN METHOD Senior Hannah Kohn dribbles down the court to secure a district win. Kohn was a lead scorer in the game with 29 points. Photo | Marietta Jordan BOUNCE UP Senior Kiara Harris makes quick plays against Colonial on Feb. 3. The team beat Colonial during the district tournament,. Photo | Marietta Jordan
Kailey Calvo | Staff Reporter
I knew we had a good shot for a comeback this year, and honestly, this win felt like a redemption.
- Hannah Kohn, combo guard
With one minute left in the district championship, Hagerty led Colonial 38-34. Sweat dripped in his eyes as senior Aiden Cilladi dribbled the ball preparing for the free throw. He took a deep breath as it went in, giving Hagerty the last point needed to win the championship.
On Feb. 10, the boys varsity basketball team traveled to Colonial for the district championship game. They won 39-36, sending the team to regionals.
During halftime, Hagerty was down 27-19, but in the third quarter, Hagerty was able to pull ahead by two points. For the last two quarters of the game, the score was extremely close.
game for two years,” Barr said.
Since transferring from Oviedo High School, this was Barr’s first time playing in the district championships.
“I was really proud when we were able to cut the lead back after being behind in the second quarter,” Barr said.
“I’m happy the guys played so hard and smart— they deserved the win. The seniors were on a mission, and it made a huge difference,” Kohn said.
As their biggest goal was to be able to host regionals, the team had been working a lot on their techniques at practices. They have been doing the best they can to improve their communication and shooting skills by doing scrimmages. They also spent a lot of time watching films, going over plays and studying their opponents so that they were prepared for anything.
been waiting for another chance at this game for two years.
Senior Dawson Barr was the lead scorer with 21 points, but defense played a bigger role in the game.
This was the lowest scoring game they have had all season by eight points. According to basketball coach Josh Kohn, the defense that the team played was designed to slow Colonial down. It succeeded while also slowing Hagerty down, which made scoring tougher for both teams. Colonial did not score for the last eight minutes.
Trust between players played a large part in how they interacted on the court and the decisions they made.
“My main goal was to stay calm and play through. I’ve been waiting for another chance at this
How is coaching the girls different from coaching the guys?
“I could probably talk for an hour about this one. I mean one example is the girls had a six minute debate about what playlist to run out to for warm-ups and [the] boys just run out to whatever is playing. “
“Miscommunication was a big thing we were working on. We struggle with not communicating or talking at the wrong time and letting up an easy bucket,” power forward Adrian Garces said. The team has made sure to keep their good chemistry since the beginning, aiding them in their successful 22-5 season.
“We already had good chemistry and we all shared the ball. When one person had an off day, another could pick up the slack. We all talk and make sure we keep up our chemistry,” Garces said.
On Feb 16. Hagerty faced off against Ocoee in a Regional Quarter-Final, advancing to the regional semi final with a 60–41 win. Senior point guard Dawson Barr led the team with 22 points, with seniors Andrew Broome (11P) and Aiden Cilladli (9P) following close behind. Next, the team will compete at Evans on Feb. 21, in order to advance to the Regional Finals.
Are you going to continue coaching both teams?
“No. Back to boys only.”
How has it been coaching a kid on each team?
“In the moment –on the floor –it feels like you are coaching any player on any team or in any season. When I’m home—outside of the team—it hits me. It’s pretty cool. Surreal to be honest, especially at the same
time. Maybe even a little more special coaching Hannah as she is a senior and I’ve never been her coach before.”
When did you think the double district title could be possible?
“About two weeks before the district tournament both teams were playing well and I thought ‘Both teams are good enough to win districts’ –Honestly thinking ‘could that
really happen?’ but knowing it would be tough because of the competition.”
What’s been unexpected taking on both teams at once?
“I think overall trying to manage the schedules of all five teams in particular–varsity and JV girls as well as 9th, JV and varsity boys –That’s 50 plus student athletes and over 150 games!”
My main goal was to stay calm
- Dawson Barr, point guardALL HANDS ON DECK Adrian Garces saves a play in the district match against Colonial. The boys basketball team won in a close game 39–36. Photo | Marietta Jordan
On Jan. 21, the induction ceremony took place with alumni faculty past and present. Their achievements are listed below.James | Staff Reporter
Multiple state champions, a sixth round NFL draftee, superfans and a World Series pitcher—the inaugural class of Hagerty’s athletic Hall of Fame is an impressive group. The group included both successful athletes who have come out of Hagerty and the faculty members that laid the groundwork for the athletics at the school.
On Jan. 21, the first inaugural class of the hall of fame was inducted. The 2023 class consisted of NFL quarterback Jeff Driskel, MLB pitcher Zach Eflin, the 2013 basketball team state champions, Hagerty’s first state championship swimmer Matt Curby, assistant principal Christy Tibbits-Bryce, former principal Sam Momary, and long-time substitutes and super-fans Todd and Mike Dixon.
The concept for Hagerty’s hall of fame has been four years in the making. It took around a year to finalize the first class with the challenge mostly being validating information about the inductees’ careers.
The induction ceremony was an emotional reunion event for everyone involved from inductees and their families to previous coaches and faculty members. Each inductee was introduced by someone that had some kind of connection to them, whether that was a family member or a former coach.
This rolled into the speeches from the inductees ranging from Eflin and Curby’s short and sweet messages to long stories of Hagerty experiences
from the Dixons. Nonetheless, each speech had its own value that reflected the inductee, making each one equally as meaningful and powerful—whether that be from the laughter or the silence each speech brought.
“You kind of don’t see it when you’re in [the sport], but as I got older, it’s truly incredible the dedication that parents and teachers put in to help us do what we wanted to do and what we trained to do,” Curby said.
The Saturday night ceremony was the culmination of a week of events. On Jan. 15. baseball held an alumni game with former Hagerty players coaching faculty members during the game. The last event before the ceremony was the annual 5k which was re-branded as the Hall of Fame 5k for the induction.
The hall of fame is divided up into three pieces that all involve athletics: administrative/coach, athletes/team and a community category.
“To finally have this first class completed and the templates done is a huge relief in terms of creating the template for success for later years,” Getty said.
It remains to be seen if this will be an annual event, but future Hall of Fame events are already in the works. Hoping to induct the rest of the state champions and other impactful athletes.
To end off the emotion filled ceremony, the Dixons gave their speech which ended with Mrs. Dixon saying, “Each of you remember, a good coach can change the outcome of a game, a great coach can change the outcome of a life.”Lopez Sam Momary First principal with a career spanning 40 years Zach Eflin MLB pitcher for the Phillies in the World Series and current pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays 2013 basketball team The first and only basketball state champions in Hagerty’s history The Dixons The first inductees for the “Forever Fans” category and subtitutes since Hagerty’s opening Jeff Driskel Gatorade Florida HS Player of the year, QB for UF, Louisana Tech and the Houston Texans Matt Curby First state champion, 4X FHSSA swimming state champ, and NCAA All-American Christy Tibbits-Bryce First athletic director, Athletics AP, Seminole County and LHHS Hall of Famer ONE TO REMEMBER Athletics Director Jay Getty gives the opening speech of the ceremony. The Hall of Fame process was directed by Getty, who hopes this Hall of Fame tradition will continue on for future years. Photo | Marietta Jordan BACK HOME Alumni Randall Bruce and James Gray talk before the alumni baseball game begins. Held on Jan. 15, the alumni game was the kickoff event of alumni week, in which former Hagerty players and coaches participated. Photo | Marietta Jordan Photos | Marietta Jordan