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Hillsborough High School | HHSToday.com 5000 N. Central Avenue | Tampa, Florida 33603 May/2021/volume 122/issue 3

RECORD BREAKING SEASON The Flag Football team made more wins this year than the last 10 years combined. Highlights from their final game agains Robinson, p. 15

Principal King discusses how budget cuts will effect HHS p. 4

A fake prom causes problems for administration and seniors involved p. 7

Students share their favorite songs of the spring p. 13


May 2021


Editors-in-chief Asher Montgomery Carolina Tortorelli

Social media editor Tammy Nguyen

Staff writers

Traeshan Brown, Dylan Cantrell, Sarah Ellis, Jackson Gore, Eden Kay, Isha Modha, Morissey Montgomery, Mercy Ogunsola, Rohit Ramaswamy, Isla Riddell, Kaylee Robinson, Diego Rodriguez, Meredith Yen


Jennifer McMullian

Principal Kelly King

About Content decisons are made by student editors

Membership Red & Black belongs to the Florida National and Columbia Scholastic press associations Awards

FSPA 2019-20 All-Florida and Sunshine Standout NSPA 2019-20 First Class CSPA 2018-19 Gold Medalist

Bylined columns represent

the viewpoints of their authors Phone: (813) 276-5620 Email: hhstoday@gmail.com Twitter: @HHSTodayOnline Instagram: @HHSToday Visit us online at




Letter from the Editors 2021 Graduation Information It’s finally May! And what a crazy school year it has been. Between online learning and budget cuts, we’ve all been struggling, living a day at the time, and just trying to get through this pandemic. Now, we finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Some call it “the begining of the end.” If you flip through the pages, you’ll see students getting vaccinated (page 6), seniors getting together to celebrate “From,” in hopes for a certain normalcy (page 7), and some predictions of what the next school year might look like (page 10). The distribution of vaccines brought a certain hope, that times are changing, and slowly but surely, things are going back to normal. Of course it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as we approach the end of the school year. The district crisis continues to affect teachers, as budget cuts become more prominent (page 4), and Asian hate crimes are on the rise, as we tackled in the center spread (pages 8-9). But we’re almost there! The seniors only have a few days left, the yearbook is out, the weather is reaching 90 degrees again, and summer feels closer than ever. Surely none of us expected our lives to change this much, and we did not think we would still be in this situation at this time last year. But the next year seems promising. We have grown and learned a lot this past year. Out journalism staff has worked really hard to do their bests in these difficult times, and we’re really proud of our work. We published our first newspaper of the year back in November, a magazine in January, all while trying to make the best yearbook that reflects this crazy year. Now, we bring to you the last newspaper of the 2020-2021 school year. On top of shining some light on important issues, we hope to entertain you with some of our students fashion (page 11), spring favorites (page 13), and also celebrate some of our athletic accomplishments with flag football and baseball (page 15). It’s finally the time we get to say “We made it!” and we’ll see you next year. Happy reading,

Date: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 Time: 12:00 PM Location: Florida State Fairgrounds EXPO Hall Only two guests per graduate. If you have any questions, see Ms. Fiore in room 535.

ELearners anticipate their return

With the outburst of COVID-19 in March of 2020, many public places were temporarily closed. This included restaurants, stores and schools. The majority of campuses switched over to E-learning to keep their faculty and students safe from the pandemic. One year later, many students are still learning from the comforts of their homes as the 2020-2021 school year comes to an end. However, with the success of vaccines, school districts have either had all the students return to school or they are planning for the return of their students. This can impose huge effects on online students, given that they’ve been staring at their computer screens for eight hours daily for the past school year. Despite their anxiety, some students are ready to return to campus after spending the past school year seeing their fellow students and teachers through Zoom. “After being an E-learner for a year, I’m pretty excited to be able to return with vaccines now in place. I’m also nervous because I have to adjust to the setting and I think that will be the biggest challenge. But overall, I can’t wait to be able to participate with the class and not have to worry about missing any information,” junior Megan Lucas said. “Although I’m anxious to return, I believe it’s time. With vaccines becoming more and more available, I have hopes that we will soon be on the better side of things. There are definitely pros and cons of both staying at home and returning back to school, but by next year I believe I’ll be ready,” freshman Lauren Ellis said. “I’m definitely a little scared because I’ve technically only been to the school three times, so I’m kind of worried about getting to my classes on time and everything. As far as the actual classes themselves, teachers and classmates have been very accommodating so I’m not too worried about that aspect. I am looking forward to making more friends though because it’s hard to contact people over Zoom, especially the brick and mortar kids if you can’t see them,” freshman Siona Sarkar said. There are other students who have enjoyed the online learning experience and aren’t as eager to return to campus. “I honestly love being an E-learner and I don’t think it’ll be easy transitioning back. It is way more convenient because I have to take care of my little sister while my parents work. I also got to do my schoolwork all in the comfort of my own bed,” junior Micah Arbello said. story by meredith yen

It’s not too late to buy your yearbook! Stop by 506 today! Limited supply. Get yours now before they sell out.

US Taban Chin: The Chess Master


May 2021

Sophomore Taban Chin takes a seat and clicks the Chess clock; all distractions, emotions, and unwanted thoughts must disappear immediately, or he’ll be at an immediate competitive disadvantage.


He began early, starting in first grade when him and some of his friends decided to join their school’s chess club. He fell in love with the game from the start, along with his twin brother Lane. Together they would commit themselves towards the study of the game for years and become very skilled for their age. Having each other would provide the advantage of near-daily training through casual matches which would carry on to present day. For instance, Chin won the K-12 Scholastics state championship while in fourth grade, a very impressive feat.

Chess & The Pandemic

As of recently, along with all other things good, Chin’s chess playing has been affected by the pandemic. Over-the-Board chess tournaments have been cancelled in most of Florida since the start of the shutdown and don’t look to be resuming until mid-summer. As such, most competitive chess has been played through online-blitz tournaments. Players like Chin are less likely to participate in these tournaments since they don’t impact player’s ratings. Chin notes the significance of this change, explaining that the blitz games are around five-to-ten minutes rather than over the board games that can be up to four hours in some cases. This dramatic change in the game as of late has caused Chin to join less tournaments and is thus excitingly waiting for July where he says there will be physical tournaments starting back up in Florida again. Chin’s chess career has been through a time of monumental change for the game, where because of the internet and modern media, an influx of unskilled


Mr.Baker: The Firefighter Sophomore Tabin Chin sits in front of a chess board at the Central Florida Chess Club championships in fall of 2018

players have joined the chess community. Popular shows like “Queen’s Gambit” for instance have romanticized the game to the masses and caused a huge increase in the player-base, with chess board shortages nationwide soon after its release. As the community rapidly expands, several opinions surrounding its growth have caused division. Elitist members of the chess community believe that the game should be played with the intention to become a master or grandmaster, but Chin and other like-minded players welcome everyone and anyone into the community. “Its great because more people are introduced to the game, creating bigger incentive to hold events like ‘pogchamps’ (series of online amateur chess tournaments) and casual matches between top grandmasters,” he said. The game of chess is evolving and Chin is along for the ride.


Chin has deep admiration for players of the past. Cold War-era players played with an amount of certainty believing the game had been ‘solved’ at that point in time causing for a romantic-era for the game. Chin holds players like Boris Spassky in high regard for taking on American players like Bobby Fischer in a time of international-intellectual warfare. He also has more modern admirations in players like Veselin Topalov, a Bulgarian two-time world champion.

The Future

Taban’s has set goals for his future in chess. He plans to continue his improvement in the game so that he is able to hit the ‘Master’ title before the end of Highschool. He gives advice for the players of the future. “You’re not going to find success right away, you’ll have to learn a lot of parts along the way and only then will you see gradual success,” he said. story by diego rodriguez

As the assistant department head, William Baker always greets the substitute teachers when they arrive on campus. However, on that day he had told a substitute that she could use the key for the teacher’s restroom. “During block 13 she came and very calmly told me that she believed the boys’ bathroom was on fire,” Baker said. He immediately called student affairs and told them that we might have a fire. Next, he ran down to the restroom to make sure that no one was in danger and that we didn’t need to evacuate. He put his hand on the bathroom door and saw smoke. The door handle was not hot and he opened the door and saw a trash can burning and melting. He remembered that earlier in the morning when he got to school he had seen a case of water right beside the teacher planning area which is right next door to the restroom. So he rushed in there, grabbed a few water bottles and returned to the bathroom. When he returned, Ms. Sleeter was there and helped pour a bottle of water on the fire. The fire was probably the size of the 50 gallon can garbage cans that are in the hallways. It was about two to three feet high. The can had pretty much melted to the floor. “My thoughts on it was that it might not have been the smartest thing for me to have done but I knew that if the sprinklers went off, it would destroy every computer, every piece of electronic in this building,” Baker said. He smelled like smoke for the rest of the day. He thinks his mask might’ve actually saved him because it was blocking the smoke. Pro-tip from William Baker: Always put your hand on the door to see if it’s hot. story by meredith yen graphic and photo by morissey montgomery


NEWS District crisis trickles down to HHS May 2021

Hillsborough County Schools is facing over a $100 million deficit in its budget. The district has tried to put a band-aid over this gaping wound, so to speak, through budget cuts. However, the cuts affect people who have nothing to do with it, the teachers. Superintendent Addison Davis has said as many as 1,000 positions would need to be trimmed. Hillsborough High School principal, Kelly King, is provided with scheduling guidelines and a set number of units, or teaching positions, that must be cut by the district. She then makes the decisions on what to cut. “It’s a big puzzle piece of looking at what are the specific classes, what are the specific student requests for those classes, because ultimately whatever you guys request to take is what drives the master schedule in the units, the size of the facilities, classroom space, core or non-core class, and what teacher certifications do we have,” King said. To King, a class is cost-prohibitive if it does not maximize the teacher-to-student ratio. “Let’s just say, for instance, Anatomy and Physiology only has fourteen students who want to take it. I can’t, in good faith, have that class,” she explained. The revenue ultimately comes from the state, property tax constituting the large funding source, with other programs used to supplement. The formula used by the district to distribute funding is based on the number of minutes that a student is enrolled in a class with that specific school. A student studying at Hillsborough but enrolled in a virtual or dual enrollment class would generate no funding for Hillsborough. The school also earns additional funds through the amount of AP, IB and Exceptional Student Education classes administered. Next year, the school will cut two positions for IB, and the traditional side will lose their ASL program as well as a social studies and science position. Two administrative positions will also be eliminated. It’s definitely not an ideal situation.

Principal Kelly King works in her office. The overallocation of funds on the district level requires the responsibility of cutting costs to fall to principals.

Recurring costs like teacher payrolls cannot be accounted for with Temporary funding sources like fundraising, rentals, or yearbooks. Hillsborough has an active alumni association, but they mostly collect donations. “One hand I got to be, as the principal, fiscally responsible and make sure that our classes meet what the requirements are. On the other hand, I got to recognize that when I make decisions to cut certain programs, it is going to affect some kids and some teachers,” King weighed. The school is mindful that the cuts have the least impact directly on students. In the fall, there were schedule changes in IB due to cuts, affecting both student and teachers. Hillsborough has ensured that these adjustments are equitable to both IB and traditional sides, while still maintaining the integrity of both programs. However, there are still looming concerns and speculations about the future of these budget cuts among the Hillsborough student body. Rumors circulated among students about the drama department being cut. They can be traced back to a specific article on The Times that relied on outdated information, written when more significant cuts seemed impending. By the time the article printed, it was no longer accurate. Former Hillsborough AP, Mr. Mitchell

was promoted to Tampa Bay Tech recently, and his job was not filled this year, leading to a redistribution of administrative responsibility. Teaching during a pandemic is strenuous in and of itself. Having to fill in the gaps of the budget cuts would lower an already plummeted teacher morale. “There’s a lot of stress, not knowing what’s coming next,” one teacher said anonymously. “But also, there’s talk about how the class sizes will be very big next year and that’s a lot of additional stress towards the teachers themselves, when they talk about workload, and also having to worry about meeting the same expectations that they do now in a classroom with 30+ students.” This uncertainty associated with budget cuts provides teachers with a further incentive to switch to the private sector. This idea is not unique to education- when employees sense financial insecurity, they look for an organization under less hardship, such as a teacher in a program that might suffer budget cuts. Math teacher Jason Wiggins recently transferred from Hillsborough High to Berkeley Preparatory. He partially attributes his decision to the pressures of budget cuts. “[The school was] asking teachers to do more than what is contractually required for them. I ended up doing five preps, which your contract should typically be two or


three,” he said. “It was taking a toll on me mentally, physically, it was taking a toll on my performance at work, and also taking a toll on me at home.” Schools that have a large minority demographic, such as Hillsborough High, suffer the worst effects of budget cuts, according to Wiggins. “You’re cutting fine arts program, you’re cutting trade programs which helps students who may not typically pursue a twoor four-year degree, and that to me is totally wrong,” he said. This year, funding was not withheld by the state due to an inevitable fluctuation of enrollment. But if enrollment does not return by next year, there could be additional cuts. Wiggins believes this crisis in the district stems from several layers of mismanagement, rearing its head in the wake of COVID-19. Essentially, there are too many high-level positions that seem to overlap responsibilities. There is a redundancy in having nine area superintendents, or having a secretary of math for all three levels of schooling, all of whom enjoy healthy salaries. This consequentially breeds fiscal issues, the brunt of which is borne by teachers. “The history of this county, with budget issues, has never been good,” he said. To put in perspective, Hillsborough County is the 7th-largest school district in the nation, yet Florida ranks as one of the worst states for funding public education. Obviously, change is needed. King thinks the first place to start is advocacy with the state legislature because they control the funding for Hillsborough County schools. “[The state] decides each year what the per-pupil expenditure is going to be, and so contacting representatives in the state is the most beneficial, because they need to know that people in the community value public education,” King said. story by rohit ramaswamy



May 2021


Transgender sports ban may cause more harm than good The Florida senate passed the ”Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” on April 28, which would ban transgender students from participating in school sports on the team consistent with their gender identity. This ban, specifically targeting trans girls and women, passed in the House early in April but was unable to advance in the Senate. However, Republican leaders in the Senate were recently able to amend and pass the bill. It is now being looked over for approval by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who has announced plans to sign the bill. If approved, it will force transgender girls and women in high school and college to play on male or coed sports teams. Politicians in favor of this bill have made the claim that trans women are typically stronger and have higher levels

of testosterone, making it unfair for them to compete against cisgender women. However, according to senior Heavenlee Padilla, she and her teammates on the girls flag football team would have no problem playing with or against transgender girls. “We’re all athletes and some of us are built very athletic. Some of us are bigger and stronger and some of us are smaller and faster. The thing about flag football, or any sport, is that every body type has an important effect,” said Padilla. Padilla went on to point out that trans girls are more likely to be subjected to bullying on sports teams with male students. According to the National Survey on LGBTQ mental health, more than half of the young Americans who identify as trans have seriously considered suicide as a result of bullying or harassment,

unaccepting families, feeling unsafe, and other reasons. The “Fairness is Women’s Sports Act” also permits schools to require genital inspections of students that are suspected of being trans. After this inspection of students’ “reproductive anatomy,” schools are even allowed to go so far as to have their genetic makeup and testosterone levels inspected. This affects not only transgender girls, but all female athletes. Critics argue that this section of the bill can be abused and used to target cisgender teenage girls as well. This ban is not the only thing hurting the LGBTQ+ community right now. Currently, there are hundreds of bills being introduced to state legislatures across the US, many of them attacking trans youth. So far in 2021, eight of the more than two hundred fifty bills have

Challenge to Bright Futures raises concerns Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program has paved the way for scholarships for years. It has sent tons of high school students to college by allowing students to earn either 75% or 100% of tuition and fees at any Florida state university based on the students performance throughout high school. Florida senator Dennis Baxley made his case on Mar. 16 regarding a bill that would overhaul the Florida bright futures program. Bill SB86

specifically targets Bright Futures, Florida Academic Scholars and Florida Medallion Scholars. The bill would require the eligibility for state financial aid and tuition assistance to be reviewed each term and to be based on the student’s program of study. Under the proposed bill, the board of governors and the state board of education would need to approve a list of programs that they feel will lead directly to employment. These lists would be updated

annually. While students who decide to major in something not on the approved list won’t completely lose funding, they would instead receive less funding from the Bright Futures Scholarship. Afer an attempt to amend the bill when it did not pass, outcry from students, parents and teacher ultimatly caused the failure of the bill. story by Kaylee Robinson

At the college decision ceremony, Seniors Zoe Schuler and Emily Glass pick up a gift from their chosen school, The University of Florida. Many Terriers going to an instate school are relying on Bright Futures to cover the cost. photo by asher montgomery

already been enacted into law and there are ten already waiting for signatures from governors. These proposed bills include forbidding the discussion of gender, sexuality, or LGBTQIA people in classrooms, allowing discrimination against LGBTQIA people based on religious beliefs, banning trans students from the locker rooms consistent with their identities, and more. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 is second to becoming the worst year for LGBTQ+ Americans. The current record is held by 2015, with 15 anti LGBTQ bills that were enacted into law. “When is this gonna stop? We’re all humans and life is too short. Who am I to tell you what you can and can’t do? And who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?,” Padilla said. story by morissey montgomery

What has Joe Biden done so far? Cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline

211.9 million vaccine doses administered

Issued 49 executive orders

Stopped the US’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization

Reversed the Trump administration’s ban on transgender Americans from joining the military

Rejoined the 2015 Paris climate accord

Reversed the Trump administration’s restrictions on entry into the US from seven Muslim-majority countries

infographic by isla riddell



May 2021

LEFT Junior Jean Pinckney wears a sticker he got after getting his first dose of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine RIGHT Junior Sanjana Dudingalla poses next to her sister with a sign, celebrating her immunization.

Students get their COVID-19 vaccines Sanjana Dundigalla, 11

After a semester and a half of her 11th grade online, she finally felt confident going back to school. As soon as the vaccines were open to the public, junior Sanjana Dundigalla found herself at a federal vaccination center, waiting in a long line. Her parents were already vaccinated, and encouraged her to get hers too, although much of her motivation came from herself, wanting to avoid any possibility of transmitting the virus to other people. “I definitely felt relieved [getting vaccinated], because that [meant] I had an extra layer of protection,” Dundigalla said. “I don’t regret my decision to do eLearning until then because now I can go in person without the fear of giving the virus to my family or people around me.” Dundigalla says she was surprised with the efficiency of the vaccination site and feels optimistic with the immunization of the corona virus. “More people are getting vaccinated in the US and I feel like this is the beginning of the end,” she said.

Jean Pinckney, 11

Junior Jean Pinckney was able to get his first shot on March 30, before it was officially opened for 16 years-old teenagers, due to his asthma condition. Living with his grandma, he wanted to decrease any risks of possibly transmitting the virus to her, even

though she had already been vaccinated. “I was relieved there were less chances of me bringing the virus home,” Pinckney said. Pinckney said the vaccination site was very organized and although there were a lot of people, the process went very smoothly and was fairly quick. He believed the vaccine should be available to anyone who wants it. “I’m excited to not have to worry about these masks when covid is over,” he said.

Maren Crocker, 11

Thirty minutes late, Maren Crocker arrived at school on April 6th, the first day the vaccines were available to 16 year-olds. She got to the vaccination site early in the morning, knowing it would be very busy, and waited in line for over an hour. “It was definitely worth it,” Crocker said. Both of her parents were already vaccinated and very excited about her being immune. Her mom’s birthday was the day after she got vaccinated and she said “the best birthday gift was [Crocker] getting vaccinated because she doesn’t have to be as worried.” Crocker is very happy the pandemic is possibly coming to an end. “It has affected everyone in many different ways that we didn’t think it was possible over the past year, and though masks are important to prevent the spread of covid, I’m definitely tired of wearing one and glad it will be lifted soon.”

story by carolina tortorelli photos courtesy of jean pinckney and sanjana dudingalla


How to secure your shot

After over a year of uncertainty and fear, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines. As of now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available for people of 16 years-old or older, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines are available for anyone over 18 years old. In federal vaccination sites such as the Tampa Greyhound Track, walk-ups are accepted for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only. State-supported vaccination sites also accept walk-ups, including the Raymond James Stadium and the Children’s Board, where the Pfizer vaccine is available for 16 and 17 year-olds. Many pharmacies and health care locations are also providing COVID-19 vaccines through appointment only on their websites, including: CVS, Publix, Walmart, Walgreens, AdventHealth, BayCare, and more.

What to bring? • • • •

Photo ID or proof of residency, such as a utility bill, Proof of apppointment, if appointment needed Parents and legal guardians of teenagers eligible for the vaccine must be present at the time of the vaccination Consent form, obtained at the site, must be completed and signed by a guardian for minors

The vaccine is free and insurance is not required.You are asked to stay at the location for at least 15 minutes after the shot for monitoring. You should come back for your second dose 21 days after the first one, if you received the Pfizer vaccine, and 28 days if you received the Moderna one. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of those vaccines, and two weeks after the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson one. It has been recommended by the CDC that people save a digital copy of their vaccine cards. The approval of the vaccination of adolescents of 12 to 15 years old has been announced to be approved in early May. collected by carolina tortorelli

By the numbers: Vaccination Are you vaccinated?

54% SAID YES If yes, how many doses? 43% SAID ONE 57% SAID TWO If not, do you plan on it? 80%


May 2021



hhstoday.com LEFT Senior Skyler Netolicky and Junior Emily Mudra pose infront of the school before fake prom. RIGHT A group of seniors pose for a photo in front of the school. photos by tammy nguyen

Seniors “From” to celebrate graduation causes controversy

COVID-19 completely transformed the class of 2021’s junior and senior year. Due to CDC guidelines, the school was unable to host any large events-which means that the long-anticipated climax of high school life for many, Prom, was cancelled. This disappointment and lack of senior year traditions resulted in a group of seniors to plan out a “Fake Prom” which resulted in unexpected consequences. COVID-19 completely transformed the class of 2021’s junior and senior year. Last fall, students were told that pep rallies and homecoming as a whole were not possible. The big gathering would simply put too many students and their families at risk. On top of that, the spirit week that led up to homecoming lacked participation due to the very small population at school. “Something as simple as having a spirit week, dressing up before homecoming, and having prep rallies kept us going and kept us excited. When we found out we weren’t getting any of those things besides football games...there were barely any motivating factors to even attend school,” Senior Niti Modi said. Modi, who was an e-learner during the first semester of her senior year, decided to switch back to face-to-face learning in the second semester because she felt completely isolated from people and claimed that it was difficult to learn, and simply didn’t want to waste the remaining couple of months of her senior year. It initially started off as a small group of seniors who decided that they and their classmates were entitled to a big final event to celebrate their rollercoaster of a year. “We all wanted to throw ourselves a prom because we’re done with everything now. We don’t have to worry about IB exams and will only have a senior ceremony and graduation,” said Modi. After four years of constant stress, they were willing to do anything to make the most of it. The small group of seniors eventually grew into a group of about 40 students planning the 2021 Fake Prom over a group chat conversation on Snapchat.

The students went into planning the event knowing that safety would be a concern for a percentage of attendees. The seniors were encouraged to get vaccinated or at least have the first dosage of the COVID vaccine before attending. It was also announced in the group chat that people should stay home if before the event they felt sick or were exposed to anyone with COVID. Though, these safety measures were soon disregarded when all the plans went askew. The original plan, made by the leading event coordinator (who requested to stay anonymous), was to rent out an Airbnb house for the night’s afterparty for an exclusive amount of people. She claimed that it was to avoid trouble and keep it lowkey, but everyone in the grade was invited to take pictures and dinner. But with their luck, the seniors were notified that the booking was cancelled due to renting issues the morning of the event.

“We have been looking forward to prom since we were little and so it was just really disappointing going through senior year and all its academic difficulties with none of the fun celebrations. Seeing everyone made things feel normal for just a second” Following this unexpected change of plans, one of the seniors decided to host the afterparty at his house to prevent cancellation. With the night’s destination down, the seniors proceeded to follow through with the tradition of taking Prom pictures in front of the school near the famous clock tower and split up for their own dinner plans. During the two and a half hours of time that they took pictures, the professional photographer that was hired, led the students into the unlocked school’s auditorium

lobby without permission from administration. According to bystanders, “they literally found an unlocked door and were encouraged by the photographer to pose for pictures around the lobby room,” as told to Nguyen anonymously. The following Monday, the students who were recognized in the photos that were plastered all over social media over the weekend were called into the principal’s office to discuss the trespassing concerns. Many traditional students also expressed disappointment Monday morning towards administration because they falsely assumed that the IB students were granted permission and access to the auditorium lobby for photos. Although the students’ consequences are confidential, Principal Kelly King expresses that the upperclassmen should be aware of the expectations they must uphold and know that their inappropriate behaviors have unfavorable repercussions. “I know that nobody had ill intent, there was nothing vandalized or anything like that. We know that people behave in groups and crowds differently than they do when they’re by themselves. So, what seemed like a very innocent thing probably shouldn’t have been done in retrospect,” King said. King and administration completely understood where the seniors were coming from with their desperation for a big group gathering of the seniors. “I wish for the seniors that there could’ve been more opportunities for some of the traditional events but there are a lot of seniors being creative in finding things to do and make up for it,” said King. “We have been looking forward to prom since we were little and so it was just really disappointing going through senior year and all its academic difficulties with none of the fun celebrations. Seeing everyone made things feel normal for just a second,’ said another anonymous senior. In her opinion, the consequences were worth it for the once in the life time experience. story by tammy nguyen




May 2021

RACISM AND ITS EFFECTS IN THE MODERN WORLD Asian hate crimes are on the rise

With the rise of Covid-19 cases last March, came the rise of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. Every day, it seems, a new act of violence is being reported on. Every day, another family left heavy with grief. The losses ring through the community, reminding them that their identities are unwelcome in the States. One of the more recent shootings killed eight people, a majority of which were Asian in Atlanta. The attack caught the attention of many media outlets. Although violence towards Asians has been prevalent, this instance was a major indicator of an underlying issue within American culture itself. Asians have been granted a seat at the oppressor’s table under the condition they can be portrayed as fulfillers of the American Dream. The unspoken condition is that they must silently endure racial struggle. So with this, Americans have quietly pushed Asian racism aside while clinging to alienating stereotypes. Asia has always been seen in opposition of the West. While countries inhabited by white people are seen as pristine and habitable. The continent of Asia is perceived as a monolith of filth, where the people live in smog and dust. Anti-Asian sentiments are littered throughout American culture; a number of them are impressed on young minds during childhood. When white peers pull their eyes back, imitate the language, and twist their faces at cultural foods. Asian children are subliminally taught to abandon their culture to conform. Junior Megan Lucas recounts being embarrassed of her

Teachers’ experiences with racism Internalized biases exist in every aspect of American culture, but in school, they begin to interfere with the quality of education a child receives. Even while sitting in the same classroom, the amount of attention a child receives can vary drastically. The education system favors those who comply, who raise their hand to speak, who behave. Many times, students of color, specifically Black and Hispanic students, are

cultural foods growing up: “One time I remember bringing in Korean food and kids calling it ‘smelly.’ After that I was a lot more cautious of it. I wanted to fit in with all the other kids at school.” Although she feels more comfortable now, the experience disheartened her. An ignorant white child grows into the American adult, believing Chinese communism is the biggest threat to American democracy, spreading unsubstantiated conspiracies claiming COVID-19 was purposefully created to disempower America. From this comes racially charged phrases like “Chinavirus” or “Kung-Flu” used to instill fear in Americans. Though, hate crimes are not uncommon to the Asian community. The community’s first immigrants during the 1850s experienced the same brutality as seen today. These crimes have cultivated fear in Asian Americans. Although she hasn’t been directly impacted by the hate crimes, Sophomore Saila Roxas says “[the hate crimes] have definitely changed the environment when we go out in public. We’re a lot more aware of surroundings. My parents were thinking about getting self-defense tools like pepper spray so if something were to happen, we were prepared.” Many worry for their family members. The attacks often target older people and women. “When I’m out in more cultural areas, I don’t feel as in danger But I definitely fear for my mom and my grandparents because they can’t really defend themselves,” Lucas adds. story by isha modha

at Hillsborough told him to take chemistry “because it’s really good for engineering.” When Saligame told his teacher that he did not want to be an engineer, his teacher replied with “I’ve got a feeling that you would be really good at it.” Saligame is not alone in his experience of micro-aggressions at Hillsborough. For Stephanie Hamilton, a Black junior, micro-aggressions showed themselves in the form of comments and subtle actions made by fellow students when she was in the IB program her freshman year. “Every time we would have lunch the traditional students used to skip in our lunch. [They] were mainly black,” said Hamilton. “Because of the way I dressed and my skin color, the Assistant Princi-

pals always thought I was one of those kids.” The most blatant form of racism that Hamilton experienced was in her French class. “I used to always get ignored because at one point in time I was the only Black person in my class,” Hamilton said. While micro-aggressions may seem easy to sweep under the rug, they still affect students just as much as other forms of racism. The easiest way to avoid using micro-aggressions is by not falling captive to stereotypes and to not assume things about people. While making assumptions is natural, feeding into these assumptions and ideas about stereotypes is a changeable behavior. story by sarah ellis

expected to challenge these expectations before creating a reputation for themselves. And so teachers neglect them. Math Teacher Stephan Fabic experienced one of these instances at another school he taught at. “When you’re a white person, teaching a black classroom, the bias is there, the tone is there. They wouldn’t say the student is dumb outright but from the question, the style of the question,

the inflection, you could tell they were implying the student didn’t know how to answer the question,” he said, mentioning that the teachers would compare teaching the students to training dogs. Teachers may not act this way intentionally. Every American experiences deep rooted conditioning. However, when educating children, it’s crucial they take a personal responsibility to reform their beliefs.

Of course, teachers of color also face racial discrimination, from their coworkers and their students. Spanish Teacher Elizabeth Galan-Vega recalled a time she reprimanded a student some years back. He replied with “You don’t tell me what to do. My father is a big lawyer. The only people in my life who speak like you clean my house and take care of my yard.” story by isha modha

Anti-Riot law potentially threatens free speech in Florida

Micro-agressions and how to avoid them When we think of racism, the focus is normally on grandiose acts of racism. However, there’s a form of racism that all too often slips between the cracks: micro-aggressions. This term encompasses fleeting commonplace behavioral or environmental indignities against marginalized groups. To put it plainly, micro-aggressions are slights against minorities that are easy to miss. Ronan Saligame, a South Indian senior has dealt with his fair share of micro-aggressions. The most common experience for him is being asked: “Let me guess, engineering?”. “Engineering and Comp-Sci are by far the most popular majors for Indians,” Saligame said. In one instance, a teacher


photos from Black Lives Matter protests in Tampa. photos by Gianna Settimi

Sophomore Diane Esteves and her older sister didn’t tell their parents when they went to a Black Lives Matter protest over the summer. They were worried about their safety, especially because of their hispanic heritage. The group they went with had blocks of wood and cars blocking the intersection off for the demonstration. Esteves and her sister were given signs. They shouted “No Justice, No Peace” and kneeled for a moment of silence. Esteves was scared when the police came. It was a peaceful protest, but there were complaints about the traffic, so the police showed up with their speakerphones calling for dispersal and pepper spray for those who didn’t obey. She and her sister knew they had to leave as soon as possible. They watched as people were pepper sprayed and did their best to help get people rides out of the vicinity as fast as possible. She heard later from the Tampa Bay Times that one of the protestors at the protest that day was arrested. A bill recently signed into law that would increase the amount of arrests at a protests that block traffic, like the one Esteves attended. The law also expands the definition of a riot and increases penalties for taking part in a violent protest. On Monday, Apr. 19, Gov. Ron Desantis signed this ‘antiriot’ bill into law. The law addresses several aspects of protests, targetting specifically the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over the summer. In his speech at the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office before he signed the bill, Desantis mentioned several aspects of the law, referring to how it will increase punishments on actions in which “we saw in other parts of the county,” meaning the Black Lives Matter protests. Desantis mentioned that he was specifically upset about the comandeering of highways. “Just think about

it, you’re driving home from work and all of a sudden you have people shutting down a highway, and we work hard to make sure that doesnt happen in Florida,” he said. Another issue addressed in the law was the protection of monuments. Over the summer, statues of confederates, slave owners and colonizers were taken down over the summer. The anti-riot law increases penalties on people involved in taking down monuments. “You have no right to go in and topple down monuments, we are not going to let the mob win the day with that,” Desantis said. According to Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, this law is going to have no real effect on the prosecution of people who actually commit acts of violence because there are already laws in place to punish those people. Meaning, it doesnt protect anyone. In reality, “[this law is] dicouraging people from using their first amendment rights,” Warren said in an interview with the r&b. The reason for this is that there is always going to be a very real chance of a peaceful protest becoming violent, even if that was not the intention. “While you’re protesting, you shouldnt have to worry about what other people are doing,” Warren said. As a prosecutor, Warren can take a lead role in lowering the effects of the law he deemed unconstitutional. “I would encourage people not to be scared of the law and know that at least in Hillsborough County your first amendment rights will be protected,” he said. During the summer of 2020, many protesters were arrested during Black Lives Matter movement protesting the death of George Floyd. Warren excused all the charges against peaceful protesters in Hillsborough County, deciding not to put them on trial. Even with this new law criminalizing peaceful protestors in a riot, War-

ren plans on doing the same thing as before; prosecuting the people who commit acts of violence and pardoning the people who remain peaceful. He hopes that the Tampa Police department follows the same morale and chooses not to arrest peaceful protestors. According to Warren, there are many people speaking out against this law, and there is already a lawsuit filed against the law. Warren’s main message to young people hoping to protect their freedom to protest is to raise their voice anytime the government is infringing on their rights. English teacher and SGA sponsor Stephanie Zimmerman took part in a few peaceful protests over the summer. In her experiences, the police didnt interact with the crowd and visa-versa. She did hear stories however from a friend staying with her at the time who attended many of the protests held at night. Zimmerman’s friend was pepper sprayed three to four times while at these protests and she witnessed a person being hit by a car that drove into the protesters. The person hit by the car was arrested, not the driver. Events as such are supported by the new law which grants civil immunity to people who decide to drive their cars into protestors who are blocking a road. Zimmerman says she would be scared for one of her students to go out and protest with this new law in place. “I would hate for them to get arrested for having an opinion,” she said. Esteves noted that it’s a shame that people to this day still have to fight for the right to protest. “So many people fought so hard for this right and now they are just taking it away,” she said. story by Asher Montgomery



May 2021


Editorial: An unforgettable year comes with a forgettable education With the end of every year comes a period of reflection. Students think back on their favorite classes, try to forget about their least favorites, and maybe — or maybe not — study for end of year exams. Of course, it also is met with a tremendous amount of excitement. The prospect of getting to sleep in later than 7:30 a.m. and not having to go home every day just to do more work is very enticing. Like the ones before it, the end of the 2020-2021 school year is met with enthusiasm. The reasons behind the eagerness, however, are where the differences lay. This year marks the end of ‘COVID-learning’, where some attend school on campus while others join Zoom sessions to take part in their classes. Sure, this sounds manageable, and it helps to reduce the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic. But while gains may have been made when it comes to safety, education has taken a big hit. There are an abundance of factors that are a part of being able to learn properly. COVID-19 made a wreck of many of these components.

Any sense of motivation was been shot. Sometimes it was just easier to turn work in late rather than put the time in to have it completed by its original due date. Plus, since virtually all work was submitted on Canvas, late assignments seemed to be ‘more acceptable’. Teachers also seemed to be afflicted by a loss of motivation as a result of the pandemic. Because of this, the level of education received was substandard. The strain that this year has had on teachers is evident and understandable. With the district cutting jobs left and right, not only have instructors had to worry about getting their work done and teaching their classes, they also have had the possibility of losing their job looming over their heads. These stressful conditions were sure to affect the quality of their work. There were no semester exams first semester and there will not be any for the second semester, so the incentive to learn and retain information has been diminished. However, this works both ways — since it has been so difficult to focus

artwork by amelie mcleod inspired by lauren van stone’s faux magazine cover

this year and there really isn’t much being learned, the lack of exams came as a relief, as passing them seemed like a high order. IB seniors were left feeling extremely relieved with the cancellation of IB exams for similar reasons. In many classes, teachers just handed out busy work instead of teaching, since that’s easier than juggling teaching both brick-and-mortar students and e-learners. In others, teachers did try to teach but students weren’t able to stay focused. The baseline: the knowledge needed to pass IB exams simply was not there for many students. The problems did not stop here. New anxieties and difficulties were created with the birth of e-learning. For e-learners, getting one-on-one help from teachers became a task in itself. Speaking up and asking for clarification on a subject seemed impossible for some. Similarly, attending school in person came with its own baggage. As the year progressed, teachers became increasingly lax about wearing masks in class, as well as reinforcing the mask mandate for students. This of course could have been

It’s time to say bye to hybrid

Since August, the school’s been following a hybrid style of learning. Aside from safety priorities, next year the school should end this style of learning and focus their attention on ensuring that all students are caught up with their academics. While the school year is practically over and COVID-19 is still as big of a problem as it was last year, vaccines have been going out at rapid speed. Anyone over 16 can receive it, meaning that a majority of our school’s population could be vaccinated by the time next school year begins. This would not only ensure the safety of those vaccinated, other students at the school and their families. In addition, the district has eliminated 1,000 positions within the district. This means that classrooms will continue to grow in size as schools work

to consolidate classes to make up for their losses. All of this causes uncertainty as to what next school year will look like. Other counties have already been discussing the status of mandatory masks and e-learning, but the future of Hillsborough County Schools is still unknown. Lifting the mandatory mask mandate is a foreseeable option for next year because of all the vaccines being distributed. Those who are fully vaccinated should have the option to attend school unmasked, and those who have not received the vaccine or chose not to should be encouraged to continue wearing a mask until the CDC lifts the mandate for those unvaccinated. As for academics, there needs to be opportunities for those who were online to catch up to their peers who were brick-and-mortar. It’s no secret

a result of the overwhelming amount of students who refused to follow guidelines, making it nearly impossible for teachers to control mask-wearing. Instead of fighting it, some teachers may have decided to just give up. However, this also resulted in kids having to go into class with others not wearing their masks or wearing them incorrectly, making them significantly less effective. Students felt that one of the most glaring issues was the clear preference that teachers have had for brick-and-mortar students. As a result, e-learners have suffered by not getting the same level of education as their in-person student counterparts. Also, online students have had less of a voice when it comes to making decisions in class or contributing to discussions. All in all, it’s clear that e-learners got the short end of the stick. So, with the end in sight, students not only anticipate the end of the school year, they also look forward to the end of COVID-learning, Zoom logins, and a diminished quality of education.

that students online struggled to stay on level with their other classmates; often at a disadvantage due to internet issues or simply a lack of educational resources at home. Allowing previous e-learners (and even brick-and-mortar students) to attend after school or weekend tutoring sessions would help ensure that they’re on track. Teachers will also be forced to try and cram in any missed content alongside the regularly scheduled curriculum. This year’s adjusted school year brought on a big challenge for the school, but so will its repercussions. Both teachers and students will need to put forth the effort to make sure that next school year goes as smoothly as possible to ensure that the circumstances surrounding this year don’t have a detrimental effect on student education. story by isla riddell

May 2021

Its Giving...


BELOW“What inspires me the most are what people say about each of my outfits, its like I feed off of the positive energy” Junior Jaszmyn Wajd said.



This year the state fair came around a little later than usual. April 22 the gates were open and the fun began. It’s a tradition for students dress to impress on the first few days of the fair. The theme this year went two different ways, some came dressed to stand out while others dressed more comfortably. BELOW “I’m inspired by others who rock any athletic apparal, I love anything that invlolves sports apparel,” Senior Chaze Wilson said.

TOP “There’s this artist Lil Baby and in one of his songs he said ‘I’m not a god I just fit the description’ and that made me think that I had to step a little bit when I went to the fair,” Senior Javon Ford said.

LEFT “Pop Smoke is my favorite rapper so I picked my style based off of him with my ripped jeans,” Senior Rashad Knoles said.

ABOVE “I found my shoes first and finding a shirt to match wasn’t that hard then, boom my fit was born,” Junior Yah’Mari McClendon said.

RIGHT“I wanted to do whats trendy and in style these days, but I also wanted to be comfortable,” Senior Chian Willson said.

ABOVE“My Grandfather really inspired my outfit for the fair, in a way I’m always paying tribute to him,” Junior Tianna Epps said. LEFT “My friends helped create my outfit actually, after I found myself liking the way brown looks against my skin” Senior Jayla Troup said.


May 2021



Rod Wave’s “Soulfly”: sad and relatable Young Thug gives other artists a chance Rodarius Green, a 22-year-old rapper who is mainly known as ‘Rod Wave’ is from St. Pete, Florida, causing him to be very popular at Hillsborough High. In his newest album released on Mar. 26, “Soulfly,” Wave talks about all his relationship troubles and how it was difficult for him to make it to the top of the rap industry. Wave has had a great 2020 with nine songs debuting on the billboard top 100 with his highest being ‘Through the Wire’ at number three. In “Soulfly” he has 19 songs and only one feature coming from Polo G. Wave refrains from doing many features because his songs are so personal, and his songs are not that long. Wave tends to story tell in his songs and Soulfly is no exception as it helps make the album more emotional. In every song, Wave is telling a story about what he has gone through. The album could also be described as deep conversation, as the emotional music helps listeners connect to the lyrics. This album is his saddest one yet as he relates to peoples struggles in each song. One recurring theme in the album and most of his songs is that he is looking for love. Although people relate to the songs, some don’t like how sad it is. “The album is to depressing to listen to” senior

Jalen Harris said. The first song released was ‘Tombstone’ and it is arguably one of the most popular songs due to its sad video. Even though it is very sad it is one of my favorite parts of the album. My favorite part of the album is how personal it is. I feel like I can connect on almost everything he says in his lyrics. When I turn on his music it makes me think about what problems I have gone through and that everything will be ok if I work hard. One of the most popular songs was OMDB (over my dead body). “When I hear OMDB I really relate to his problems and hearing the song make me feel better,” senior Rashad Knowles said. This song is an example of how Waves fans can connect because the lyrics are so relatable to what they go through. Wave stands out from other producers due to his connection to the fans in his songs as every listener can connect to something he says. “Soulfly” has been very popular since its release debuting as the number one album and will probably win album of the year due to waves style being unique and not many people making sad lyrics. review by dylan cantrell

2021 Oscars did not satisfy

The 2021 Oscars was watched by a historically small audience — a mere 9.85 million compared to 2020’s 23.6 million — but it still managed to cause an uproar amongst moviegoers and passive watchers alike. While many award shows such as the Emmy’s, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, and more were held virtually this year, the 93rd Oscars was live in person. For those unable or unwilling to attend, they could join via Zoom. The most noticeable changes were the location of the ceremony and the audience size. The Dolby Theatre, the home of the Oscars since 2001, is normally packed in with actors of all kinds come the night of the ceremony. This year, it shared the spotlight with Los Angelos’ Union Station, a significantly smaller location. The station has been featured in over 150 films. The use of two venues — plus 20 satellite locations

Jeffery Williams, better known as Young Thug, is one of the most known artists of our generation. From his witty song lyrics to his interesting choice in clothing, Thug’s image will forever be remembered. His newest album, Slime Language 2, (released Aug. 16), shows just how powerful he is in the booth. His last album, So much Fun, received positive reviews from the top of Billboard’s Hot 200 and I’m sure Slime Language 2 is not too far behind. Slime Language 2 consists of features from Future, YNW Melly, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert, Drake, Travis Scott and more mainstream artists. The album includes features from artists more underground like Unfoonk, T-Shyne, Young Kayo, and his sisters Hidoraah and Dolly White. Thugger (as he is commonly known as) specializes in taking newer and hotter underground rappers and putting their full potential out for the world to hear. This album, and most of his others, clearly shows he is doing something right. In the song My City Remix, the rapper YTB Trench takes over the song using not only his beautiful voice

all across the world — was implemented to follow COVID-19 restrictions. With the location change also came a smaller audience. This was due to social distancing requirements, but it left the building looking strangely empty. Senior Aedan Bennett, an avid movie-lover, was less than impressed with this year’s show. “In total, the ceremony was garbage,” Bennett said. “The location change and the lighting were horrible, the introductions for the nominees of each category made the ceremony so boring.” Bennett was also bothered by the presentation of Best Picture third to last rather than last. The producers decided to have the award for Best Actor presented last to make the ceremony feel more like a movie than a show — they wanted it to end with a bang. However, their efforts were futile and ended in a flop. By placing the Best Actor

but his creative writing ability. The song introduces who he is and what he has come from, its like this song is an introduction to what future fans can expect if they were to listen to his music. Young Thug also features on this song but he does not overshadow Trench with his verse. Trenches verse is filled with clever word play and memorable verses, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw some of his lyrics in someone’s Instagram caption. The most popular song on the album Ski has gained recognition from actors and other rappers who aren’t on the album. Everyone of Thuggers albums has one to two songs that get this type of recognition. The song begins with Thugger repeating the word “yea”. Thugger and is ad libs make the perfect pair, they add even more to his verses. Featured on the song is Gunna. Gunna and Thugger are like the perfect pair to be on a song. Think of salt and pepper, without those two ingredients your dish is bland and boring, Gunna and Thugger make any song even more flavorful. The album over all is a step in the right direction for Thugger and his record label YSL. If he continues searching for hot underground artists like the ones who made great impressions on the listener, in this album it’s only up from here on out. review by mercy ogunsola

award last, the producers made it seem as though the late Chadwick Boseman would be the sure winner. This was not the case. “I didn’t want Chadwick to win Best Actor over Riz [Ahmed] or Anthony Hopkins,” he said. “But the way they structured it with Best Actor presented last and inviting his widow was super disrespectful.” However, Bennett did find a silver lining in this year’s ceremony. “Honestly I’m super happy with the winners, I think all of the winners of the major categories deserved to win,” he said. Nomadland took home Best Picture, Anthony Hopkins (The Father) won Best Actor, and Frances McDormand (Nomadland) won Best Actress. story by sarah ellis

May 2021




Your Spring Favorites

Remember When by Wallows “I love this song because of the guitars and the springy feeling it has. The middle part leading up to the final chorus makes you want to blast it in your car.” - Nicholas Bowling (12)

Company by Don Toliver “I like this song because of the melody and instrumentals it has, it makes you feel calm and euphoric in a way.” - Bayron Serna Rivera (12) Full Circle by Big Sean “It’s the end of my senior year and things have come full circle. Thinking back to the start of freshman year to now makes me think of all the blessings and how aspects of my life have changed.” - Chris Rampersad (12) Serotonin by Girl in Red “This song makes me feel very hopeful about the future and hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel” - Stephany Molina (12) Brown Eyes, Brown Hair by Caleb Hearn “The song gives me some kind of confidence in myself and takes me out of reality.” - Jessica Chao (10)

“Shatter Me” is a must-read The Shatter Me series by New York Times bestselling and National Book Award nominated author, Tahereh Mafi, is an all-time favorite. The concept is intriguing yet original. The series is a dystopian sci-fi thriller split into two trilogies and a few filler books, consisting of six novels and four novellas. A novella retells the storyline from the perspective of another character.

The 17-year-old protagonist, Juliette, has been bullied for her lethal touch. The novel opens with Juliette’s imprisonment. She’s lived isolated in a mental asylum for the accidental murder of a young boy. However, the apocalyptic state of the world leads to her release. She’s to be used by the Reestablishment, the government, for war. The reader is introduced to many

Sunrise by Norah Jones “[This song] has been on repeat because it reminds me of my most memorable moments with my mom.” - Olivia Smith (11) Levitating by Dua Lipa “I really like this song because of the retro trend it follows. The catchy chorus and bass make it really fun to listen to.” - Madison Coble (11) In Bloom by Nirvana “The song just fits the spring vibes! My favorite part of the song has to be the chorus, its super catchy and the drums sound great during that part, it just puts me in a cool vibe.” - Trayvon Hightower (10) Honey by Raveena “This is my favorite song because it has such a soft and angelic tempo.” - Geyly Hernandez (11) Scaredy Cat by DPR IAN “I somewhat see myself in this song. The artist said that scaredy cat is a character that is curious about everything yet is afraid of everything. Just like me.” - Tran Nguyen (10) collected by tammy nguyen

other beautifully illustrated characters, each with a complex and enticing backstory. Mafi’s unique and poetic writing style makes Shatter Me a must read. The text is engaging and perfectly written, making it a page turning read, even for those who don’t often curl up with a book. story and photo by Eden Kay

NPR’s Tiny Desk replaces what was lost in the pandemic One evening, I sat on my couch, laptop in hand, watching Nirvana’s Unplugged from 1993. Kurt Cobain hunched over the acoustic guitar, softly singing covers of “Lake of Fire” and “Man Who Sold The World.” A friend of my moms, who noticed my unwavering fascination, told me to look up Pearl Jam’s Unplugged. Begrudgingly, I listened, but only because it was polite. I don’t know if it was Eddie Vedder’s facial expressions, or the dramatic vocals and simple drumming, but I watched that video another 20 times throughout that week. Unplugged was revolutionary in its days of popularity, being the first television broadcast performance. After the

90s, though, Unplugged fell into disrepair. Despite trying to revive it, the original awe just wasn’t there. Today’s Unplugged is definitely NPR’s Tiny Desk series. Like Unplugged, Tiny Desk fosters a human connection rather than streaming off Spotify. When COVID-19 hit and concerts were canceled, Tiny Desk replaced the intimate connection for many music lovers, including myself. The At-Home Tiny Desk series kicked off with Soccer Mommy acoustically performing tracks from her 2020 album. She maintained her signature pigtails and purple eyeshadow while simultaneously playing guitar in her living room, probably filming from her iPhone.

Tiny Desk producers embraced the daunting task they faced: entertaining the public from home. They let the artists really take the wheel, allowing them to be as creative as they’d like, to use the limited space to their advantage. No fancy stage lights or flips or fire, just an artist and their music. Most of them lived up to this role. For example, Dua Lipa, who was lightly singing in what looks like a living room in an orange studio. Lipa used December’s laxer quarantine rules to perform with her band for the first time since her tour was canceled. Her enthusiasm is present in this performance through her contagious smile. While many musicians performed with

tiny desk concerts! their band, a few artists took the opportunity to perform on their own, acoustically, providing a real stripped-down feeling, much of what Unplugged was aiming for. Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief sent her peacefulness through the screen to all of us stuck at home from her trailer parked in Joshua Tree National Park. At one point during her stirring performance, she picked up a paintbrush and began strumming her guitar with it. The camera shakes a little bit there and zooms in on her face as she begins singing. She lent me an escape ladder from the present world and I couldn’t stop watching. story and graphic by Asher Montgomery


May 2021



LEFT Senior Conrad Hunter dresses up in a maid costume to take orders for their skit that tackles the idea of people who are “super straight.” His character is supposed to appeal to the male fantasy with overly sexual acts, while ultimately he ends up leaving with the man who is unimpressed by his obscene acts. RIGHT Senior Patrick Gawienczuk salutes dramatically over sophomore Phuong Lam while performing a skit that is a commentary regarding how seriously people take American “traditions.”

OTB’s comedy show gives us social satire The On the Brink sketch comedy group usually has a live show at the end of each school year with the proceeds going to a specific charity. However, with COVID-19, they had to improvise. In place of a live show, they created an online ten-episode skit show embedded with social commentary and entertaining spoofs, made to combat the mundanity of school in a pandemic. All the proceeds from the GoFundMe go to Feeding Tampa Bay, a food rescue and distribution organization serving West Central Florida, one of the top hunger-relief organizations in the nation. “We wanted to do something that would have a direct impact on our community and those in our community who have lost their jobs.” OTB president Conrad Hunter said. This skit show not only attenuates the economic insecurities created from the pandemic, but also mental-health hardships Hillsborough students face. They have tailored specific videos to help students cope with their reality. In Episode Six, Suicide Note, a student accidently uploads a suicide note instead of the extra credit to an assignment. OTB opted to not only allude to the note, but explicitly reads the entirety of it, giving notice to genuine feelings of depression and anxiety. This stylistic choice makes it evident that the primary motive of the skit is to address the seemingly insurmountable challenges humans face. The classroom environment used in the sketch shows how school system breeds mental health issues, poking fun at the implications of grades in our society. “You know, I personally have anxiety because I could accidentally submit a picture of me in a maid costume instead of my Spanish essay. That would be awful,” Hunter laughs. “We’re trying our best to tackle some of the subjects that some people might struggle with and we want people to know that it’s normal.”

OTB also uses humor as a subtle means of addressing contemporary social trends, as well as calling to attention certain injustices in our society. In Episode Eight, Call Me by Your Shame, OTB members infiltrate an Evangelical church in the middle of a sermon. This “sermon” starts off with a few amens, and quickly transitions to the church members harassing a lesbian couple. This abrupt mood shift emphasizes the stigma imposes on gay Christians by the church, acknowledging that counter-rejection is a very prevalent issue to this day. The name of the episode is a reference to a lyric in Montero by Lil Nas X, a controversy-baiting single released recently that explores the liberation of homosexuality through satanic themes. The exaggerated dialogue from the church members in the skit parallel the unsolicited commentary that the Montero music video received from conservative listeners. “For example, [episode 1] 2021 predictions skit, we talked about how in January, we thought that nothing bad would happen with Biden’s inauguration, obviously we have the capital riots,” Hunter explained. “We try to poke fun at the major events happening in the world because things are very serious and there’s a lot of heavy undertones in today’s news media and we like to try and help people get through that a little better.” OTB utilizes “cognitive restructuring” in these sketches. Basically, they take an experience and put a twist on it so that we experience it in a completely new way. Leveraging the strengths of every member in their skit, OTB has established an inclusive environment. They have also incorporated elements from previous OTB alumni, allowing for a unique watching experience. No formal sketch comedy understanding is needed. “The thing I love about OTB is that everyone brings something to the table,” Hunter said. “The way we think of sketches it’s we’ll sit around at meetings and talk about things that we find funny, just have casual banter with

each other and usually out of that we’ll get an idea.” There are no limits to what the OTB club will joke about, even satirizing this planning process. In Episode Four, Discord call, two members of the OTB club discuss the logistics of this very skit show. They use inappropriate google searches to create a comical incongruity, juxtaposing a somewhat serious and productive discord call. This is a concept known as meta-humor, joking about the joke itself. Another example, in Episode Seven, Black Mirror, Season 7, the production team for Black Mirror brainstorm funny ideas for their seventh season. One member was chastised for suggesting a racially charged “dark humor” idea that was shot down immediately. Eventually, the team comes up with Vaccine Man, a superhero who obtains every vaccine and becomes invincible to covid. The Black Mirror brainstorming session in the skit mirrors the OTB planning session. This episode brings to question the extent of dark humor that can be used without crossing social boundaries, a matter that OTB members ask themselves repeatedly. “If you do too much dark humor, it could get offensive very easily, and especially in today’s society where so many events are happening, it is very hard to tackle some of the subjects,” Hunter said. OTB balances their dark humor with episodes featuring more upbeat and idiosyncratic comedic themes. Episode 10, MDMMA, which parodies Mixed Marital Arts league, uses the physical nature of fighting to employ slapstick comedy. This contributes to a predominantly harmless and goofy, almost disorganized, tone, which provides a stark contrast to their more socially engaging videos. “There’s been a lot going on and today’s world, so we hope just being able to sit down and watch these videos, or even just you know talking to members in the halls provides some relief,” Hunter said. story by rohit ramaswamy

May 2021



hhstoday.com Freshman Cameron Mallo swings his bat in preparation for the incoming pitch.

Flag Football’s Record Breaking Season This year, Hillsborough’s flag football team scored more wins this season than they have in their last ten seasons combined. Here are some highlights from their final game against Robinson.

Junior Tanner Jones focuses his attention on catching the approaching pitches. photos by tammy nguyen

Baseball’s Comeback

TOP Senior Laydi West rips the flag off of the other team. RIGHT Senior Larisha Lopez runs with the ball to score. BOTTOM Junior Destiny Raiford pushes past to score.

Bottom of the seventh the last inning of the game Hillsborough baseball is hitting with Junior Tanner Jones up to the plate. There is a man on second and third he needs to score them to win. Jones hits a walk off single to score the runners and win the game. This game is just an example of how the team doesn’t give up and finds ways to win games leading to a 16-9 record. The baseball team is in second place going into the district tournament. The team’s goal for the season was to win state and that has not changed. The team started hot with a 14-2 TOP Senior Michelle Wilrecord but went on a cold liams kicks the ball. streak after winning only BOTTOM Junior Justyce two out of the next nine. “We Murphy signals to her teammates that she’s open. need to work together as a team like when we got 15 wins,” Jones said. Over the past few games, the team has been flat, but it happens to every team. What matters is the team worked out of their funk with a win over Carrollwood Day School. TOP The team walks off the The team worked hard field. all season resulting in them RIGHT Freshman Layla West having a 16-win season. The runs and throws the ball to team came so close to beating her teammate. their district rival and best team in the country, Jesuit. photos by asher montgomery Their games were exciting for

the audience because it was clear that the players were having fun. “My favorite part of the year was watching the team walk the game off and to celebrate with them,” Junior Salvator Urso said. During the season there were a few heated games, but each time Hillsborough was mature and didn’t play dirty. The team had a rival with Jefferson and each time they played the games did not disappoint. Hillsborough won both regular season games against Jefferson but lost in districts to them, ending their season. Even though the season didn’t end the way they wanted it to, the team enjoyed their season and will miss it. “I’m going to miss playing with the seniors and I’m going to miss being on the field with the guys,” Junior Donald Gorgei said. The team fell short of their goal of making it to state, but all the returning players are looking forward to next season knowing they can make it farther than they did this year. “Next year I wanna come back stronger and be a better teammate and make it a fun senior year,” Gorgei said. story by dylan cantrell


May 2021



Terriers Got Talent is revived at long last

The Latino Success club held a Terriers Got Talent show on Apr. 24. It included not only covers of popular songs but also rapping, majorette dancing, a live band, and some teachers even stepped onto the field for a choreographed dance. The last talent show wasn’t too long A mural featuring victims of police shootings found in Tampa Heights. Left to right: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery. ago but “we were overdue for one,” Monphoto by morissey montgomery ica Sleeter said, the Latino Success club sponsor. “Meeting so many students I realized how much talent we have here at On Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2021, history people were awaiting results. He faces Hillsborough,” she said. “It made sense to was made in the criminal justice up to 40 years in prison, but his lack of hold another one.” system. a prior criminal record suggests he’ll Planning this event was a little stressThe death of George Floyd back in serve less time. Nevertheless, proseMay 2020 sparked widespread outrage cutors are asking for a longer sentence ful for the club, after presenting the idea when a video showing white Minnethan recommended by Minnesota state to Mr. Brooks and getting it approved, apolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, sentencing guidelines. they were later informed that due to kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly Shortly after the verdict was read, COVID-19 restrictions they could no nine minutes was released and circulat- Chauvin’s bail was revoked and he was longer hold the talent show in the audied online. This act of injustice caused remanded into police custody as he torium. The idea of having the show out a wave of protests and riots throughwas led out of the courtroom by the on the football field was then brought to out the country as many people were Hennepin County Sheriff ’s Office in infuriated and would stop at nothing to handcuffs. He is currently being held in light, which was soon approved but that wasn’t as easy either. fight for justice and racial equality. The the Administrative Control Unit in the four police officers at the scene were all Minnesota Correctional Facility—Oak “The most stressful part was the fact fired the following day. The MinnePark Heights as he awaits sentencing, that there isn’t any Wi-Fi outside,” said apolis station where Chauvin and his scheduled on June 25. Chauvin was Mrs. Sleeter. The club also thought of partners worked was destroyed and set placed in a segregated unit in fear for broadcasting the show over zoom which on fire during a protest. his safety, so he remains in solitary didn’t go as smoothly. “I had to use the The long-anticipated trial for confinement for 23 hours a day in an hotspot on my phone, that was kind of Chauvin began on Mar. 29, 2021 and isolated prison wing.

Guilty verdict reached on Floyd trial

was expected to take around a month to reach a verdict. Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd. The jury spent about 10 hours deliberating over two days and found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was read in court and broadcasted for the nation to watch live as numerous

Chauvin’s historic guilty verdict is a milestone and a turning point for the future of the criminal justice system as it’s rare that police officers are convicted, or even charged, for misconduct and use of lethal force. The conviction of a police officer for the murder of a black man during an arrest is a step in the direction towards police accountability and equal justice under the law. story by eden kay

Visit hhstoday.com for more content and an online copy Follow us on Instagram: @hhstoday Twitter: @hhstodayonline

Left to right: . The winners of the talent show pose with their trophies. Junior Briana Engrams and freshman Marqu’ona Engram perform a dance routine. Sophomore Mateo Cardona plays the drums during a performance for the Wet Heads.

annoying,” she said. Due to the fear of COVID-19, not as many people showed up as the club expected. Nevertheless, the show was still a success. At the end of the show trophies were awarded to Senior Zoe Sleeter who won third place, sophomore Christian Johnson who won second and junior Yasiel Romero who won first. Romero “I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember,” he said. “But I love singing because I can convey a message sometimes, I can see the happiness it causes in people’s lives.” Sleeter sang “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. Sleeter’s love for 80s music was inherited by her mother who would always play songs that she loved when she was Zoe’s age. “She always played 80s music so, it just felt natural to sing that song,” Sleeter said. Johnson’s rap that her performed was a tribute to someone he considers his brother who passed away last December. Johnson’s performance and intonation expressed the grief he feels. story and photos by mercy ogunsola

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Red & Black May 2021  

Red & Black May 2021  


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