The Huron Emery Volume 8 Issue 4 February 2023

Page 1


Battling food insecurity:


349 million people around the world don’t have an adequate supply of food. Over 34 million people in the United States are food insecure. Every zip code in Washtenaw County experiences food insecurity. But it’s not that simple.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as the lack of access to enough healthy food to live a healthy lifestyle.

There are many factors that can lead to food insecurity like poverty, income, employment and disability. Many times, people are forced to make a decision between paying for food and paying for other essentials like medication, rent or other utility bills. Often, food is what gets sacrificed, and having limited access to food supply can be largely affected by transportation and location.

Food Gatherers, a local food bank and rescue program, is the largest anti-hunger program in Washtenaw County. They partner with 170 agencies and programs that make up their hunger relief network and distribute food out to the community. Last year, they distributed 7.3 million pounds of food, which is the equivalent of about six million meals.

Food Gatherers recently helped two of their partners secure a grant to purchase a van that they can use to deliver food to more rural areas.

“We’re actively trying to address not just the food, but also some of these root causes,” Communications Coordinator Lauren Grossman said. “Our mission is that Food Gatherers exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes.”

Another major component of food insecurity is race. According to the USDA, around 20 percent of Black-American households and 16 percent of Hispanic-American households experienced food insecurity in 2022. The national average is 10.2 percent, and the Washtenaw County average is 10.4 percent. This is in part due to the fact that Black and Hispanic neighborhoods are less likely to have as many supermarkets and grocery stores as other areas.

LGBTQ households and single parent households also experience higher rates of food insecurity.

Food Gatherers has many programs in place working towards stopping food insecurity in Washtenaw County. They put more funds into zip codes with higher food insecurity rates and are actively talking to their agency partners to find out what the needs of the community are.

They started a program called the Health Care and Food Bank Partnership Initiative in which they have partnered with healthcare professionals to increase access to healthy food by

FEATURE FEATURE PAGE 8+9 Hidden in plain sight: Youth homelessness
everywhere See FOOD INSECURITY, PAGE 9
A2 and

The ever-changing reality of school safety in Ann Arbor

Content Warning: This article contains mention of gun violence, mental health and abuse

Ann Arbor Public Schools closed down, due to reports of potential social media threats on Dec. 3, 2021, following the Oxford High School shooting.

Nearly a year later, on Nov. 29, Pioneer High School closed due to developing reports of threats made on social media.

Ten days later, on Dec. 9, Huron High School conducted a lock-out, due to threats made on social media. Both threats made at the schools were deemed to be not credible.

On Feb. 7, 2023, law enforcement and schools across Michigan received hoax calls, including Huron.

“Safety has changed tremendously, just like everyday life,” Executive Director of school safety and district operations Liz Margolis said. “Social media has taken a life and moved us into a different air of threats. A lot of students think they can say things and make things anonymously, and I can pretty much tell you that’s not working in law enforcement can determine where they’re originated from.”

The threats were deemed as not credible, though multiple schools

went under lockdown.

“The number of threats that have come into this district already in this school year is more than we advocate in a full school year,” Margolis said, prior to the hoax calls Huron received. We take every single one of them very seriously and work very closely [with AAPD].”

Social Media is a culture that Margolis doesn’t see going away.

“Social media has put in just a whole level of management for schools.”

In Margolis’ 18 years of working for AAPS, schools were never closed for a direct threat until Pioneer closed on Nov. 29.

“It causes a massive disruption for our students, our community, our staff,” Margolis said. “When we make that decision, working with law enforcement, we’re making that decision just out of pure safety. We will not say ‘oh, we think it’s okay to open,’ and we will never respond that way. I actually want students to understand is any threats made even if it was just joking will be taken extremely seriously and we will follow it out till the end.”

Schools have been going under lockdown and students are being sent home due to these non-credible threats. However, there have been 39 mass shootings in the US, as of Jan. 23, per CNN.

Ed week reported there have been six school shootings this year, and 51 school shootings with in-


Maybe it’s icy roads or a change in route, but everyone wants to know if their bus will be on time. One new app can help make solving the lack of accessible bus information for both parents and students easier.

Ann Arbor Public Schools implemented “Versatrans My Stop” on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. It’s a mobile and desktop app providing access to all bus information, whether it be the stop location

or the bus’ estimated arrival time. It’s available free on the app store, Apple or Android.

According to AAPS, 94 percent of family users were satisfied with “My Stop.”

Freshman Celia Brown rides the bus everyday.

After downloading “My Stop,” her schedule has been much easier to handle.

“I really like My Stop because it makes getting ready in the morning a lot easier,” she said. “I like knowing if there’s going to be a de-

juries or death in 2022. In addition, gun violence is now the number one cause of death among children in the United States, according to “The New York Times.”

“It’s sad, but it’s not surprising,” senior Daija Rankin said. “Our governments are really loose and there’s so much access to guns and the laws suck. Then our mental health services are terrible.”

But on Jan. 10, 2023, the state of Illinois signed assault weapons ban into law, per Gover JB Pritzker. This legislation bans weapons, protecting Illinois from the threat of gun violence.

When it comes to potential threats made at Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) the district leadership has implemented several safety measures. These measures involve staff training, working with law enforcement, monitoring

student emails and searches through security software, “Securely. ” This is a precautionary measure taken to identify any foreseeable threats.

“We are a district that really relies on practices, protocols and common sense,” Margolis said. “We are not a district that relies on the hardening of our schools. We are trying to work within the culture of our community. But also, with lots of training and practice, with our students and most importantly with our staff, just trying to put in common sense safety measures.”

Margolis receives three to five Securely notices per day.

“It really helps us

to monitor student mental health,” Margolis said. “We’ll see what students are searching and we will have counselors from in the building get with those students immediately.”

The district will know in a short period of time if students are making threats online or making certain searches.

If a student expresses harm to themselves or others, AAPS will place students through a threat assessment process and use a new RAPTOR platform. A lot of information that the

lay and what time I need to be out the door by.”

To log in, type your student ID number for the username. Passwords are the same for all students in each family, and can be found in an email sent out from Huron Announce.

You can also contact Liz Margolis at, Laura Hayman at lhayman@ or Ashanda King at asking@durhamschoolservices. com for further questions.

READ THE FULL STORY ON THEHURONEMERY.COM GRAPHIC BY ANJALI NADARAJAH THE EMERY STAFF @THEHURONEMERY EDITORAL BOARD: Ridhima Kodali 306823@ Allison Mi 403010@aaps. Tarik Fermin 409951@ ADVISER Sara-Beth Badalamente Anna Esper & Maya Fu Website Editors-In-Chief Satvika Ramanathan Website Managing Editor Daniel Lee News Editor Gina Ko Feature Editor Zain Charania & Quinn Newhouse Sports Editors Anita Gaenko Opinion Editor Elliot Dimcheff Copy Editor Jackson Pollard Photo Editor Annabelle Ye & Samantha Goldstein Design Editors Sandra Fu Social Media Editor-In-Chief Kelly Park & Anna Lee Graphic designers Melinda Mei Staff Writer Anjali Nadarajah Copy Editor Rachel Overgaard Staff Writer Jamie Tang Staff Writer Suhybe Awwad Staff Writer Andre daCosta Staff Writer Zachary Hildebrandt Staff Writer Braedon James Staff Writer Aliviya Jenkins Staff Writer Julya Mae Jones Staff Writer Samuel Kerekes Staff Writer Ashley Kim Staff Writer Jaia Lawrence Staff Writer Daniel Lee Staff Writer Robert Lynn Staff Writer Harley Orozco Staff Writer Grace Pang Staff Writer Zachary Phelps Staff Writer Armando Ramos Staff Writer Alexander Simoneau Staff Writer Sinai Sutton Staff Writer Dennis Vega Staff Writer Daishana Andrew Staff Writer Ashley Andringa Staff Writer Noor Awwad Staff Writer Andy Contreras-Trejo Staff Writer Rowan grenier Staff Writer Alexia Hawk Staff Writer Jules Heskia Staff Writer Davis Hugan Staff Writer Samara Jihad Staff Writer Summer Jihad Staff Writer Javion Kater Staff Writer Kangxin Li Staff Writer De’Venion McLilley-Bulo Staff Writer Kendrick Morning Staff Writer Leonardo Niciio Staff Writer Madeleine Pale Staff Writer Justin Pelton Staff Writer Erica Shumsky Staff Writer Berenice Venegas-Gonzalez Staff Writer Sena Yoshida Staff Writer FOLLOW OUR INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND TIKTOK
Administrators let students in the building through the security system. This perimeter door is open until 8 a.m., when the school day starts. PHOTO BY ZAIN CHARANIA
“ Safety has changed tremendously, just like everyday life.
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Trailblazing Ann Arbor Resident becomes the Wordle editor at “The New York Times”

Wordle editor

Tracy Bennett has always loved puzzles. It started with jigsaw puzzles when she was a little kid, and then she discovered word puzzles. She was accidentally introduced to the Sunday crossword in “The New York Times” when she was around 16, and the rest is history.

“The Sunday puzzle was when I first realized that puzzles could be not just a game of guessing or crossing answers, but also have a story or funny wordplay,” Bennett said. “There’s some other level that can make the experience even more pleasurable.”

Bennett, who majored in English Literature, has been in Ann Arbor since 1983 when she attended University of Michigan.

“I like that it is a college town,” she said. “So there are always younger people here. It was a really good place to raise my child. It has a lot of culture, but it’s still small enough and not overwhelming.”

Little did Bennett know that she would now be an associate editor for “The

Crossword.” She did secretarial work for a year after college, but soon found a job at Mathematical Reviews on Fourth Street in Ann Arbor.

“I loved how math works like any language,” Bennett said. “You can figure it out structurally and how it works as a language, then you can access it even if you don’t know what the numbers end up meaning, what the variables end up meaning.”

She started making crossword puzzles around 2013. Five years later, she cofounded the “Inkubator,” a crossword puzzle subscription service that sends out two to three puzzles a month, all created by women and non-binary constructors.

“Representation, both of gender and race, is a real issue in crossword puzzles right now,”

Bennett said. “There are very few

women and people of color making puzzles, so one of our goals was to try to change that and make a difference.”

In 2017, when she started submitting puzzles to places like “The New York Times,” only 13 percent of puzzles were being made by women. One of the reasons why is because all of “The Crossword” editors were men.

“They’re just sitting there, choosing what themes they think are appealing,” Bennett said. “So it’s naturally filtering out people who make different sorts of themes or have a different voice.”

Recently, “The New York Times” started a Diversity Fellowship where each associate puzzle editor on the team chooses someone to mentor. Now the number of puzzles being made by women is up to 30 percent.

“It is eye-opening and fun to work with new voices,” Bennett said. “The future of crosswords is the new generations that are coming in, and people aren’t going to be attracted to solving crosswords if they don’t see themselves in them.”


Two years ago, Bennett saw an opening at “The New York Times” for an associate puzzle editor.

“I just took a chance,” Bennett said. “I loved my job at Math Reviews. I was really comfortable there, and I thought I might retire there, but I thought, ‘Well, it’s now or never.’”

She was told when she was hired that “The New York Times” had her in mind to eventually be the editor of a new game. A year later, they acquired Wordle and made Bennett the editor. The game is currently set up with words to go through 2027.

Bennett spent months studying how people were reacting to the game’s daily words. Some words were offensive or ill-timed.

“Words actually do matter,” Bennett said. “And a word can have a different significance, a different effect depending on when it’s run. So I spend a lot of time studying them.”

Right now, what takes up a large majority of her time is “The Crossword.” Each week, the associate editors get around 200 crossword submissions. Bennett helps narrow them down to seven.

“We have to say no to a lot of great submissions,” Bennett said. “Sometimes there is a good idea that isn’t in a grid that we can use, but we’re willing to work with them to enhance their skills, so that they can make a good grid for a good idea.”

Currently, Wordle takes up only about 10 percent of her time, but she pours her heart into researching each word.

Not all Wordle players were thrilled about having an editor for the game, especially when it came to Bennett running a few thematic words around Thanksgiving. The publicity and scrutiny of the job can be difficult.

“That was a little bit hard on my ego,” Bennett said. “But it was just a passing blip like so much [on] social media is these days. It didn’t damage anything.”

Her family and friends have been extremely supportive, and Bennett is getting a lot of publicity and media support.

While she was out getting shoes at Mast in Ann Arbor, the associate helping her pick shoes looked up at her and said, “Oh, I just figured out who you are. You’re the Wordle lady!” Just a few years ago, Bennett didn’t think that she would be recognized in public, but she’s grateful for

this role.

“It’s a privilege to be doing what I love for a living and to be doing something that brings joy to so many people,” Bennett said. “Having spent years doing stuff that I almost love, I know everyone can’t do this. I did have a long journey, and I worked hard and earned it, but lots of people do that, and they don’t get here. So I’m just really conscious of that. It’s an incredible privilege.”

For Bennett, the best part of her job is seeing the impact that words can have.

“I love the unit of one word,” she said. “I love the power of a single word.”



possible answers


million players worldwide allowed guesses

SALET best word to start

Scan the QR code to play Wordle
Tracy Bennett has worked for The New York Times since 2020. COURTESY OF BENNETT
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ChatGPT: The future of AI, or simply rudimentary?

On the surface, modern artificial intelligence — commonly called “AI” — seems to have already started its takeover. Social media is flooded with AIgenerated images from DALL-E, deepfakes have already begun to fuel misinformation and most popular of all, ChatGPT has taken the world by storm with its realistic generations of any text content. But before you sign up and start letting the bot type your essays, you may want to understand how exactly it works.

ChatGPT is based on the artificial intelligence model GPT-3, which is one of the most sophisticated AIs available to the public. In simplest terms, the bot has been trained on a giant dataset — about 570 gigabytes — including books, articles and websites. ChatGPT creates text to answer prompts in pieces called tokens, which are a few words each. After each token, it selects the next token based on what it thinks is most likely to both answer the question and fit with the previous token. This introduces an element of

unpredictability to the responses. ChatGPT also has other, more complex mechanisms that make it possible to improve its performance over time. Since everything is based on literature created by humans, the responses sound remarkably human. However, this method of text-generation is actually easily detectable. Since ChatGPT produces the “most likely” response, a different AI that’s trained on the same data can deduce whether any piece of text was AI-generated. This isn’t a problem for mundane tasks like writing emails, advertisements and basic code. But when asked for creative work -- even writing books, poems and songs — the bot is nowhere close to replacing humans.

songwriter Nick Cave said, in an impassioned blog post against the AI.

ChatGPT is based on the artificial intelligence model GPT-3, which is one of the most sophisticated AIs available to the

“Writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche, it is the opposite.” Keep in mind that ChatGPT doesn’t really think for itself; the AI can only base its responses on what is most likely to fit, and it only knows what’s in the dataset.

The dataset itself is a huge limiting factor for ChatGPT. For one thing, there’s a cutoff around September 2020, so the bot has no way of knowing anything that happened after that cutoff.

This makes it useless for current events. Bias and misinformation present in the data can also render ChatGPT’s responses incorrect or even harmful. Finally, despite all of the data ChatGPT is trained on, all of the complex programming behind it and constant improvement through its popular usage, the AI is sometimes simply wrong. It can miss the user’s prompt entirely and even contradict itself. It can print information that sounds realistic, but upon closer inspection, is easily

disproved. ChatGPT is an incredibly useful tool, made even better by the fact that it’s easily accessible to the public, for free. There’s no harm in using it for outlines and emails. It’s a glimpse into the possible futures of AI — but as it stands, when it comes to creative work, you’re better off writing your own.

“What makes a great song great is not its close resemblance to a recognizable work,” singer-

Be serious, people Staff Editorial: Everything should be taken more seriously

On Feb. 7, 2023, police vehicles gathered around Huron High School. Police officers walked into the school building while confusion and bewilderment were amassed through the air. The Ann Arbor Police Department received an anonymous call detailing a shooting threat at Huron.

But this anonymous call was nothing but a hoax. A SWAT call. Similar calls have been made about high schools across the state,

resulting in unnecessary lockdowns occurring and students being sent home.

According to the AAPD, the caller stated they were a teacher and said a student had shot another student. They even provided a classroom number. They revealed this through a series of Twitter posts.

Huron had already received two fake threats this school year. One was after the Oxford High School shooting, which circulated

on social media. School was closed for a day. The other, on Dec. 9, a lockout was conducted. Receiving such threats, going into lockdown or having school closures, is normalized within our society. One threat, fake or real is all it takes for there to be a lingering feeling. But it’s happened twice already at Huron, and it’s a pattern that students are accustomed to, sparking a “boy who cried wolf” situation.

The issue of “SWAT calling” is both the extraneous variable it adds to the already volatile relationship between school safety and gun violence. Though most 9-1-1 calls are traceable and albeit truthful in their claims, the power of these hoax calls is that there is very little that can be done about them.

It’s unethical and illegal for first responders to not respond as quickly as they can to any call that’s

made, but if the call was indeed fake, then the first responders are wasting time and resources that could be used to help real calls. This makes hoax calls an even deeper dilemma. It’s nearly impossible to prevent them. Even though there is an investigation on the spur of hoax calls, a few Michigan High schools received, students should take it seriously. It’s not a joke, because anything can happen to any one of us.


“We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us” — a declaration made by John Winthrop in 1630 about the Massachusetts Bay colony, newly established in the “new world” that is now the United States of America. Since its conception, Americans have viewed this land as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. American exceptionalism and this belief of inherent superiority carried through its evolution through the centuries, from the westward expansion in the 1800s prompted by ideas of Manifest Destiny, to the colonialism in the early 20th century, to the military efforts in the present day. Yet today, admist these efforts of advancement and the acquisition of power, the American dream is not what everyone experiences. Through the cracks of this facade, millions of Americans face issues like homelessness and food insecurity every day.

The unsheltered truth: Youth homelessness in A2

housing in the area.


Hidden in plain sight — sometimes you see them in parked cars. Sometimes you see them on park benches. You even see them on the streets of our very own town. Youth homelessness is on the rise.

Established in 1987, the McKinney-Vento Act is a federally funded program that’s main purpose is to assist students and families experiencing homelessness in order to support the students’ education. Each school district, in not only Michigan, but across the

entirety of the United States has at least one McKinneyVento representative to manage the distribution of the Act’s resources across the school district to students in need. Alicia Maylone, AAPS’ very own liaison and coordinator for the McKinney-Vento act, has changed the lives and advanced the education of countless youth across the Ann Arbor community. Maylone told The Huron Emery about the most common causes of homelessness that she’s experienced in her time working with AAPS, she said.

“For families experiencing homelessness, there are many underlying circumstances that can lead to having some housing instability,” Maylone said. “An example would be family dynamics. If young people aren’t getting along at home, it can lead to them leaving home or bei ng put out of home.”

There are a wide, diverse range of factors that can contribute to families experiencing homelessness, but many revolve around difficulties with income and lack of affordable

Coach Waleed Samaha has worked at Huron for a long time, but his most recent position has been General Education Social Worker, which consists of working with students who are transitioning to and returning from support programs in the district.

“Is it a bigger issue than we think? Yes,” Samaha said. “Is it adequately resourced? I think in Ann Arbor, we’re very aware. There’s a level of consciousness where we understand every child needs some kind of support, some kids need more, some kids need less. Do I think it’s overlooked? I don’t necessarily think it’s overlooked, it’s kind of like [homelessness] is there and it’s not always as present in our minds.”

According to PayScale, Ann Arbor’s cost of living is not only five percent above the national average, but also 16 percent above the national average for the cost of housing — per 2022 statistics. Ann Arbor is an objectively expensive place to live, and that makes living and maintaining stable housing a more difficult task, let alone supporting a family and children. The pandemic was even more detrimental to those struggling financially, which according to

Maylone skyrocketed the homelessness numbers in our community.

“Especially after the pandemic, families can fall further behind and have difficulty catching up with current inflation and other challenges as well. So it really has become what was already a difficult situation has just really become an even greater challenge for families especially in Washtenaw County, where we have like the 98th highest rental rate, or something like that, in the state,” Maylone said.

With an estimated 2,800 people experiencing homelessness in Washtenaw County, school counselors, social workers and teachers are doing everything they can to help support their situation, whether it be through support programs or a simple helping hand.

“Ann Arbor is a really expensive place to live in,” Samaha said. “So for a lot of times, it’s not like people come to Ann Arbor to seek homeless support or anything like that, it’s not like


establishing food insecurity screening and referral programs at primary care providers to ensure that food security is a main social determinant of health.

“It takes all of us to be able to make a difference because it isn’t just about providing food and distributing,”

Grossman said.

“Some people are surprised that there are people facing hunger in Washtenaw County.”

There are also different levels of food insecurity. Sometimes, it might be episodic, where someone might need a food pantry

or meal program once a month or once a week.

There are also people who are living paycheck to paycheck and rely on those food pantries or meal programs to fill the gaps, as well as people who rely on them as their main source of food.

“[Food insecurity affects] children, adults, seniors, veterans, students, people who are employed, people who have two jobs, people who don’t have a job,” Grossman said. “So it really isn’t limited to one type of background or situation.”

Food Gatherers also works with children and schools.

“If you’re a student and you haven’t had something to eat that day, you’re going to have a hard time focusing on school,” Grossman said. “Food insecurity can have an effect on your education outcomes.”

Huron Counselor Emily Mashal agrees with this sentiment.

“If your child’s doing a project with somebody, and the person they’re doing the project with is food insecure, that affects everybody,” she said. “We want to make sure that all students are fed.”

In February 2020, Mashal worked in partnership with Food Gatherers to open a food pantry at Huron. It was open for three weeks and then got shut down due to COVID. The food pantry reopened in the spring of 2021.

“What really irked me was that my son, who was in young fives in our public schools, had the same size

lunch as our high school students,” Mashal said. “There is no difference in portion size for a five-yearold child versus a high school student.”

Currently, the counselors’ office and the athletics department are the two open locations. In order to access them, students just need to put in their ID number, zip code, and family size in order for Food Gatherers to know how much they need to supply to the pantry.

Food Gatherers puts together specialty boxes, and every month, the pantry has 500 dollars to spend on things such as juice boxes. There are around 500 visits to the pantry a month.

Huron’s Sustainability, Animals, and Veganism (SAV) club also works a little with food insecurity in the community. In the first year of SAV, they conducted a food drive where they donated over 70 items to Food Gatherers. They are also planning to collaborate with the Huron pantry through an in-theworks vertical garden to share fresh vegetables with the community. Around the world, food insecurity is hugely problematic not just because people are struggling in their daily lives. Food insecurity makes it harder for countries to develop as well as to sustain and grow their economies. Food insecurity is also associated with a number of adverse social and health impacts. People who are food insecure are more likely to be impacted by chronic and diet-related diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as struggle with mental health. According to feedingamerica .org, a lack of healthy food in children can cause delayed development and behavioral problems.

Food insecurity is a prevalent issue, but there are also many ways for people to get involved. People can volunteer at Food Gatherer’s warehouse and at the Community Kitchen, as well as donate funds. For more information, their website is foodgatherers.

org. Other ways to help out include working at food drives or other local organizations. If someone is struggling locally with food insecurity, contact Food Gatherers at 734-761-2796 or go to foodgatherers. org/findfood. Additionally, they can call Washtenaw County’s helpline, United Way at 2-1-1. For support in multiple languages, they can call Food Bank Council of Michigan’s helpline at 1-888-544-8773.


Murder shines bright on stage

Todomate: An app that merges bonding and productivity

It all started in APUSH in my junior year, when I looked over at my friend Sarah Kim’s laptop and saw cute icons, organized checklists and calendars. “Todomate” it read. I had tried it all: paper planners, Notion, Microsoft Todo… but I instantly fell in love with Todomate’s digital format, customizable categories, and ability to assign tasks to certain days. It even had no ads. But what makes Todomate truly different from any other to-do list app wasn’t its stellar organization: it was its duality as a public planner for all your friends to see.

Todomate is an app that lets you plan out your tasks, sending a notification out to your friends every time you get something checked off your list. So, when I saw Sarah check off “Ben Franklin KCO boxes,” I found the motivation to work on them myself rather than sitting on my bed. It also helps me remember what I have to do – I still remember seeing “humanities

reading assignment”

getting checked off by a friend, allowing me to finish it on time before midnight. However, as I have seen more and more people use this app, at some point earlier this year, it lost that feeling of a to-do list and became more of a social media outlet. Sometimes I feel like the work I do doesn’t seem like much compared to the barrage of completions across my friends’ profiles. Also, I use my Todomate for homework tasks while others use theirs for events, and I’ve thought “Damn, I’m really leading a boring life.” This became especially prevalent when Todomate added a diary function, where I read fun entries while I was simply working on college applications during December. But I forgot something important: everyone on this app is extremely supportive of each other, no matter how overwhelming life gets. I find great satisfaction in completing a task, but even more so when I can

see my friends express “like” my accomplished task through the app. Since I only add people I am close with, I know for sure that these people are happy with what I am able to accomplish, and I am always really happy for my friends, too. Plus, the “mute” and “private” functions are meant to be used. Sometimes someone will really be popping off, and I used to feel somewhat guilty for wanting to mute them, but I realized no one was going to care. Don’t worry — I always unmute them and perhaps comment on their crazy math skills the next time I see them in person. I’ve been able to organize my life this year by balancing Todomate and Google Calendar, each app not getting in the way of another. With Todomate, the fact that you can only react with hearts and happy emojis are reflective of its supportive rather than pressuring nature, a culture I hope can be shared.

GRAPHIC BY KELLY PARK KELLY PARK GRAPHIC DESIGNER SANDRA FU SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 1. Senior Stevie Dumitrasc brushes on some blush in front of the mirror.
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2. Junior Alex Harris, playing lawyer Billy Flynn, constructs the perfect narrative for the press in “We Both Reached for the Gun.” 3. Full of joy, junior Selene Koremenos-Tsereblis kicks high in “Me and My Baby.” PHOTOS BY SANDRA FU

It’s no “Game of Thrones,” but it’s still great

As a “Game of Thrones” fanatic, I was ecstatic when HBO announced a return to Westeros with their new series “House of the Dragon,” based on George R.R. Martin’s novel “Fire and Blood.” From the premier in August to the finale in October, I was entertained every single week.

The show took home Best Drama TV series at the Golden Globe awards in January, beating out “Better Call Saul”, “Ozark” and “The Crown”. “House of the Dragon” takes place 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones”, covering the events of the Targaryen civil war that nearly wiped out the house in the middle of their centuries-long reign over the Seven Kingdoms. The series starts with Viserys Targaryen taking the throne after his grandfather’s death. His daughter, Rhaenyra, is his only living child. After naming Rhaenyra his heir, she stands to become the first woman to sit the Iron Throne. This controversial decision eventually blossoms into a dragon-filled civil war within House Targaryen.

The show had many positives and is about as good as a mediocre season of “Game of Thrones,” which follows way more characters, locations and storylines than “House of the Dragon.”

“House of the Dragon” follows only one family in the wide fictional world of Westeros. The characters we do have are awesome and deeply developed. Actress Emma D’Arcy is brilliant as older Rhae-nyra in episodes six through ten. Watching Viserys and his brother Daemon’s interactions in the early episodes is a treat. Viserys has arguably the best arc on the show, and Daemon goes from potential threat to Rhaenyra’s side. Another great relationship arc is the broken bond between Alicent and Rhaenyra, who go from child hood best friends to tense rivals

battling for control of the Iron Throne. Actress Emily Carey shines in showing Alicent’s growth from an innocent young girl to a protective mother vying for power. These great relationships are propped up by intense, well-written dialogue. However, the best part of “House of the Dragon” might very well be the cinematography.

The show looks incredible, especially compared to the early seasons of “Game of Thrones.”

This is likely a product of a large $20 million budget per episode. My biggest gripe with the show is the 10-year jump that takes place between episodes five and six. We go from childhood Rhaenyra and Alicent to both of them being grown with multiple children. We’re left confused, trying to figure out who the children are and making assumptions about characters based on where they were at the end of episode five. Plotlines that

we ended episode five with are flat-out abandoned and replaced with confusion that dampens their payoffs. Another critique is the smaller cast of characters, which can get stale at times. Variety in characters is something that “House of the Dragon’’ simply doesn’t offer.

As someone who will watch anything “Game of Thrones” related, I really enjoyed “House of the Dragon.” However, while it takes place in the same world as the original show, “House of the Dragon” is not “Game of Thrones.” The two are very different and brilliant in their own ways. Sadly, we have to wait until 2024 at the earliest for a second season, which will likely have an even larger budget, making for some absolutely epic battles filled with dragons and big moments that the character development in season one made possible.

“House of the Dragon” can be streamed on Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Youtube TV.

Worth the five year wait: SZA’s SOS

It had been over five years since singer SZA released her debut studio album “Ctrl”, produced by the Top Dawg Entertainment label — the label of names like Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad. The hype was real: “Ctrl” was the perfect debut album for SZA, full of passionate R&B vocals with a definite pop influence as well. As the years passed after “Ctrl”, SZA only released half a dozen songs. Then, suddenly, she announced “SOS.” On Dec. 9, 2022, it finally reached streaming services.

It’s hard to follow up an album like “Ctrl” over five years later — but SZA did just that.

“SOS” is damn near perfect in every way. From the more popfocused songs like “Kill Bill” that quickly soared up the Billboard 100, to more R&B-focused hidden gems like “Low”, “Seek and Destroy” and “Blind”, SZA proved patience is a virtue — and the wait was well worth it. This album excels as SZA goes out of her old style but also keeps a very familiar, easy-to-listen-to

sound. Songs like “Conceited” perfectly show SZA’s way to fuse a new pop-esque production with her classic R&B sound used on “Ctrl. ” It’s extremely refreshing and remains the album’s strongest feature; to try a new sound and have it work is rare in pop music.

Another strong suit with the album is the features. “SOS” is not feature-heavy, with only four features. However, all four deliver and add to the songs — unlike many albums that use features to sell an album, SZA’s feature artists all add to the songs, especially Phoebe Bridgers on “Ghost in the Machine.” Bridgers and SZA are two sides of the same coin when it comes to superior songwriting. They both delivered on the track.

Travis Scott had a pretty great feature on “Open Arms”, as well. One song

sticks out to me as my clear-cut favorite: “Seek and Destroy.” It’s lyrically about the best you can find. The “Seek and Destroy” metaphor carries throughout the song and the whole message of “SOS” in general (selfdestruction and its relation to love). If “SOS” didn’t already have a title track, this would most likely be it. Sonically, it has an addicting sound: the “I had to do it to you” repetitive hook is so catchy. If you’re looking for the perfect SZA song, look no further than “Seek and Destroy.” Finally, “SOS” hits the mark on consistency throughout the album. It’s difficult to be consistent through a 23-song album, and even though some songs are rather

sleepy and repetitive towards the end, there are no bad or even mediocre songs. They’re all good. The main complaint with long albums like “SOS” comes from the fact that quality usually falls off near the end, or they’re full of filler songs — but this is not the case for “SOS.” SZA performed a rare feat that even hugely successful albums like Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” failed to do with a long, 20+ song album — keep quality throughout.

Overall, SZA’s “SOS” is a brilliant reminder that good things come with patience. Filled with sharp lyricism, easy-toenjoy production and SZA’s genre-bending style, there’s no doubt that SZA has well met the heavy expectations that the album was faced with, and an enjoyable listening experience for fans of any genre.





turf fields: Helpful or harmful?

The grass isn’t always greener Keep the playing field even

Around early November, after a rise in non-contact injuries around the NFL, many players aired out frustrations. Their aim: level the playing field. Not in the metaphoric sense, in a literal sense: turf grass is still the custom for 14 of the NFL’s 30 teams despite indisputable evidence that these stadiums have a much higher rate of non-contact ankle and knee injuries.

The NFL Player Association President and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter addressed the situation in a statement.

“The players are frustratedthey just want a safe workplace,” Tretter said Other players came to his side — Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus also called out the stadiums on Twitter.

“When the 2026 FIFA World Cup comes to the US, our NFL stadiums with turf will convert to grass,” he tweeted. “Why? Because grass is a much safer playing surface. But for us, their own players, they want us to compete on inferior surfaces.”

The stats tell the same story — per UH Hospital’s studies on high school ACL tears (the most common and damaging non-contact knee injury) on turf fields vs. natural grass, these injuries were 58 percent more likely to occur on artificial turf. The main scientific explanation is that grass provides more give when the foot is planted during the running and stopping motion, which releases the cleat from the force exerted — unlike turf, which puts strain on the foot, ankle and knee during a similar motion, according to the NFLPA.

The main reason many

schools and programs use turf fields, however, is due to economics. There is much less maintenance and less funds that go into a turf field. Turf fields make up for their extremely expensive price by providing a much lower maintenance cost, practically paying up front for most of the expenses. According to Sports Field Solutions, the average turf football field installation is between $519,000 and $623,000. A hefty price, but at the cost of much less maintenance.

Turf Factory Direct reports that the yearly maintenance for a grass football field is $50,000. In the long run, many would argue a turf field wins the economic battle. However, is it worth the injury risk for many young student athletes, most of whom have not even fully developed knee muscles?

Lower body injuries are extremely detrimental to student athletes. According to, teens who suffer an ACL tear are ten times more likely to develop arthritis and often develop depression immediately after the fact. Despite overwhelming evidence of increased risk and its harm to young athletes, many schools still overlook this and choose the slight economic benefit of turf fields.

All things considered, it’s foolish and cheap to continue to overlook the evidence of turf fields, especially the impact they could potentially have on a young athlete. Schools should do better than prioritizing a minimal future economic benefit over the safety and future of their student athletes.

Despite some recent discourse within the National Football League (NFL) community, not every turf field in the United States needs a makeover. Though artificial turf grass may have some sparse flaws, turf has been proven to be more convenient, more costefficient and not nearly as harmful to athletes.

Artificial grass has some undeniable downsides, but grass fields aren’t all that perfect either. They come with a much lengthier list of restrictions in comparison to turf. While grass fields require an annual $50,000 dollars to maintain, a turf field — though more expensive — is a one-time investment.

Grass fields need pesticides and chemicals that cause heavy environmental damage, and with a football field worth of grass, that would need an astonishing amount of chemicals to maintain; eventually degrading the surrounding environment and being costineffective for a school’s yearly budgeting.

Turf fields have the advantage of longevity. According to, turf fields can typically last up to 20 years before requiring replacement. If the yearly costs of maintaining a grass field can be nearly $50,000, but a turf field can last up to 20 years with much smaller yearly costs and installation fees — the turf field comes out on top yet again as the most convenient and effective option.

Grass fields can be very unpredictable as a result of weather changes, making them much more susceptible to slipperiness due to

rain than turf fields. Though it has been speculated that ACL tears in high school athletes were more common on turf fields, regardless of the surface being played on, the likelihood of tearing an ACL skyrockets in slippery and wet conditions — conditions which are much more easily bred on grass fields than turf.

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports published a study analyzing the statistical correlation behind ACL tears in high school athletes and turf fields, the study’s results showed.

It appears that many of the most popular high school sports are some of the outliers according to the study’s data. The researchers found that in soccer, 71,877 ACLrelated injuries occurred on turf, while 104,028 ACL-related injuries transpired on grass fields. Even more interesting, between approximately 360,000-420,000 recorded ACL related injuries in high school football, an estimated 74,620 of those injuries occurred on turf, while 122,654 of those injuries occurred on grass fields.

Football is the most turfdesignated sport in the country, and the claim that turf fields are unsafe for players started at the highest level of football itself. But, based on the statistics gathered by the previously mentioned study, grass fields are actually less injury-preventative. Schools shouldn’t focus on prioritizing the maintenance of grass fields, when the benefits and convenience of turf fields are still as apparent as always.


Huron vs. Pioneer Men’s Basketball: A rivalry in photos

1. Senior TJ Bell glides through the lane into an easy layup.

2. Junior Kendrick Morning plays tough contested defense. “It’s important to play critical defense in a game like this,” Morning said.

3. Contested by two Pioneer defenders, sophomore Macari Moore finesses a tough finish.

4. The Rats, led by sophomore Macari Moore, prepare for a rivalry duel. “It defintely feels better when you beat a rival- you just want to beat them, you know a lot of your opponents,” junior Jackson Keefer said. “Defense is what we did best- I think we only held them to 27.”

5. Anticipating a pass, sophomore Jayden Edwards plays press defense.

6. Running the point position, sophomore Macari Moore looks to make a pass to start the possession.

7. Freshman Nyzire Brown helps his teammate up after a basket.

Skyron Varsity Hockey team’s first tie of the season is with Pioneer

Skyron Varsity hockey had their first non-winning result of the season Wednesday night, tying Pioneer 2-2 even after an eight minute overtime period. This was an unbelievable game throughout that lived up to the rivalry in spades.

Skyron led 1-0 after junior forward Kendall Clavier sent a pass into the slot from behind the net, and it bounced off junior forward Audrey Wells’ foot and went into the back of the net with 2:27 to go in the first period. That score held until Pioneer tied it with under seven minutes left in the third, on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Skyron answered on the powerplay with 3:06 left in the game on an incredible

individual effort by senior Ava Heung. After having her stick tied up with a defender during a battle for the puck behind the net, Heung wrenched her stick free, and between three defenders snuck a shot into the net blocker side to give Skyron the 2-1 advantage. Then just a minute and a half later during a scrum in front of the Skyron net, Pioneer answered with the puck finding a Pioneer stick who then put it behind senior goalie Monique Dionne to tie the game at two. Where the score remained through another nine minutes of play before referees ended the game tied.

Puck luck goes both ways

After scoring the first Skyron goal bounced off a foot and went it, Pioneer got some puck luck of their own in the middle of the second period.

A Skyron wrist shot from the slot hit the corner of the post above the glove of the Pioneer goaltender. After a brief conference, referees decided that it indeed didn’t cross the line and ruled no goal. This was the best scoring chance either team had in an otherwise uneventful second period, and it proved crucial in what ended up being a tie game.

Chances galore

As they usually do, Skyron totally controlled the pace of this game throughout. They dominated possession as most of the game was spent in the Pioneer end. They pounded Pioneer with 51 shots on goal while only surrendering eight total shots through 53 minutes of play. Skyron had four powerplay chances, but they only converted on one of them.

Skyron had every chance. to win this game, but simply couldn’t get it done. Their neutral zone game was on point, but they looked out of sorts at times in the offensive end.

Maybe the best scor-

ing chance Skyron had was with five seconds left in the game, and again it was Heung who was right in the middle

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ZACH PHELPS STAFF WRITER Senior captain Ava Heung celebrates her goal with junior Khaleela Hodge PHOTO BY SANDRA FU

Not Nana Pudding


- 2-3 bags of Pepperidge Farm Chessman Cookies

- 2 cups of milk

- 5 oz box instant French vanilla pudding

- 8 oz block cream cheese, softened

- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

- 12 oz container of cool whip


1. Line bottom of 9 x 13 with 1 bag of cookies.

2. Blend milk and pudding mix with a whisk until it thickens.

3. In a separate bowl, beat cheese and sweetened con densed milk until smooth. Fold cool whip into the cream cheese mixture.

4. Combine the pudding and cream cheese mixture until smooth

5. Pour over cookies

6. Top with layer of cookies.

7. Refrigerate until cookies are soft.

*Allow at least 4 hours to chill before serving. Works great made the night before.

I feel like to me this month is to celebrate and to educate people on not only what brought us down but educating them on what lifts us up. Definitely celebrating our culture and having people understand our culture, our music, our hairstyles, our clothing. There is more to me, my African American friends and my family than just protesting about what hurt us. There’s more to us than our cries are our tears and our fear. We have a whole culture for people to look at or even reciprocate.

Rice Water’s History Knotless Box Cornrows

Around 3500 BC, the people of Namibia in southern Africa first developed box braids by using a parting method to achieve a “boxlike” look. The different lengths and sizes created an asthetic style, capable of protecting the hair ends from weather damage. Soon, the box braids spread throughout the African continent. Today, knotless box braids, an alternative to traditional box braids, have become more popular with their smoother and flatter appearance.

West Africans introduced hard-grained rice to the Americas during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, where 12.5 million Africans endured the horrific Middle Passage to the Americas. Mothers braided rice, maize or other grains into their children’s hair to help them survive the journey. Besides serving a role in survival, rice water is a coveted ingredient in hair health. Users have praised rice water, rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, for leaving their hair smoother and shinier.

Cornrows are popular in fashion shows to everyday life but few appreciate the style’s complex history. Cornrows have a history rooted in West African cultural traditions and Black ingenuity. As early as the 19th-century, cornrows symbolized status and individuality, as seen by depictions of Ethiopian warriors and kings. During American slavery, enslaved Black Americans used cornrows to transfer and create escape routes.

Recipe provided by Huron senior Zaria Dumas’ family
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