Movie Review: Steve Jobs (John Lusk)

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The movie Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle) provides an interesting view into one of the tech industry’s most influential innovators. Instead of focusing purely on Jobs’s success in the tech industry as CEO of Apple, Boyle tries to paint him as a real person instead of just a legendary inventor. To do this, it takes an interesting approach by only showing Jobs at the product launches of the original Mac, the NeXT computer, and the iMac.

Modern movies are dominated by CGI and green screens, but Steve Jobs takes a break from all that. Instead, this movie is all about conversations. The movie is full of intense dialogue between Jobs and his employees, friends, and family. It brings out the humanity in a man that many associate only with computers, iPods, and iPhones. Watching the movie gives you a glimpse inside Jobs’s true gift: his ability to force the best performance out of his people.

Most people will probably come away from the movie disenchanted with Jobs as a person. This movie shows just how stressful of an environment Jobs created by his demands. It also shows the dark side of business: how the pursuit of success can isolate one from friends and even make those same friends enemies. Jobs’s family life was a wreck and he was often brushing off his closest friends and ignoring the pleas of his employees.

In the end, the movie captures why he was so successful. In his own words, Jobs “plays the orchestra.” Anyone who wishes to find out more about the man who put the iPhone in their pocket would be entertained by this movie.

Note: This movie’s R-rating for language. 

H2O Intolerant? (Camilla Lemons)

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As expected, the first few months of the new year have been filled with talk of recipes and fitness tips for a healthy lifestyle. This year many health nuts like myself have downloaded the “Plant Nanny” on their phones and tablets. This app encourages people to stay hydrated by growing various kinds of virtual foilage. I find it fun and actually very helpful for maintaining proper hydration through the grueling spring track season.

When the app is downloaded, users enter their weight and activity level. The app then calculates the necessary amount of water they should drink in a day. Every time they drink water, they get to water a plant the same amount. Too little or too much, and the plant starts to wither and die.

This app is better for certain personalities than others. Some people download and delete it after a few days. Others, however, find that the app motivates them to drink more water. Nevertheless, everyone who downloads and uses it for a day realizes how much water is necessary to stay completely hydrated. Everyone should consider trying out this app, not just athletes. Studies show that staying fully hydrated is critical for everyone, regardless of how often they participate in exercise.

So let’s get growing.

Thus Always to Traitors (Lauren Hoaglund)

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This is the story of a betrayal so infamous, so diabolical, so preposterous, it is sure to live on through all generations. At least in my family. If you shudder at the thought of such monstrous treachery, turn back now and scroll down to read an article about a movie review or the recent senior thesis presentations. But if your heart longs to know the struggles of a poor, crippled, middle child trying to escape the grasps of her jealous and spiteful cousins and sisters, read on. You’ve been warned.

Every year my family and I go to Crested Butte, Colorado for a ski trip with our three cousins, aunt, and grandparents. And every year we have two slopes that all six grandchildren treat as race courses. At the end of the week long trip, we tally up our points from our daily competitions and declare the winner for that year.

As some of you may know, I injured my knee last year and had surgery to fix it this past May, which I had assumed would essentially destroy my hopes of winning so much as a single race. So as I went down the first course, knee brace and all, I had very low expectations. Against all odds, I dominated. And not just once. Every day on every slope, I was placing first and sending my cousins and sisters into a jealous rage.

Later in the week we were competing in a relay race in which my team was, of course, winning routinely.  As we neared the last race of the day, I suspected mischief from my competitors and thus sought the help of fellow teammates to keep me safe from malevolent family members. Unbeknownst to me, one of my teammates, my cousin John Pender (yes, that’s two first names, never a good sign), had allied himself with my sister Maddie and other cousin Jacob, who had long been envious of my winning streak. As we stood on the line, I gave John Pender who was on my left a confident head nod, thinking he had my back. Then as Maddie finally reached the end of her count down, I plunged my ski poles into the snow to propel myself forward.

As I did so, Jacob and John Pender unbuckled my skis, causing me to launch myself face first into the snow. I scrambled on the ground, wildly grabbing for my enemies’ ski, but to no avail. They were down the hill, and I was cleaning up the yardsale. My flawless winning record was ruined. I marched back to the start, reattached my skis, and began plotting my revenge.

As we got to the top of the next hill, my cousins and sisters still chuckled at their dastardly behavior. I smiled innocently, appearing to go along with the joke. Then quietly and quickly, I unclipped the left ski from John Pender’s boot, scooped it up, tucked it under my arm, and proceeded to ski down the mountain, throwing it into a nearby snowbank at the bottom.

It would be nearly impossible to describe the sublime pleasure of watching my wicked cousin wabble, swoop, and fall in a repeating pattern of clumsiness all the way down the slope.

Ah well. . . thus always to traitors.

Thinking Ahead: Facing the Pressure of College Choices (Pierce Moffett)

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As soon as a student takes the PSAT in tenth grade, he or she quickly becomes bombarded with different colleges attempting to get in touch with them. Everyday brings another barrage of emails, some worth reading through, many to be deleted and quickly forgotten. This adds another layer of stress to the already heavy workload that a high school student carries. The stress only increases when family members ask about one’s future.

Family holidays and vacations, at least for me, are filled with people constantly asking where I want to go to college and what I want to do with my life. This only increases my anxiety because the answer is always “I don’t know.”

Despite the amount of stress that thinking of the future brings, it can be very fruitful to start early. If you begin to get a grasp of what you might want to pursue in college earlier in your high school career, then it will bring less stress further down the road.

In fact, I just recently had the opportunity to talk with a personality counselor about some future careers I might want to pursue. That proved to be immensely helpful. Not only do I now have some ideas of what I want to do in the future, but thinking of a career can help narrow down my college options.

And now that I have slightly more confidence in the direction I might take, that barrage of emails suddenly does not seem quite so intimidating.

Tale as Old as Time (Katie Krulak)

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The legend behind the classic of Beauty and the Beast has been told for centuries. It has several book versions and has also been adapted to the screen. One of the most intricate and elegant adaptations, however, is the Broadway musical production.

In the stage production, the audience is drawn into the world of the legend, as masterful lighting and swift scene changes create village, forest, castle, and many spaces in between. Lighthearted, yet with a somber undertone, the play draws spectators into cheering for Belle’s independent spirit, wincing at the Beast’s clumsy attempts to be a gentleman, and laughing at the flirtatious antics of Lumiere, all within the space of ninety minutes.

The experience is cathartic and breathtaking, yet instructive. The show provides for a raw purging of emotions, while at the same time teaching several valuable lessons. Beauty and the Beast is a classic example of how kindness and compassion can change even the hardest heart. It reminds us that being true to yourself is far better in the long run than changing to suit the tastes of others. We are reminded that the right person will love you for who you are.

In the end light defeats darkness, and the prince and the princess get married and live happily ever after. Is this a cliché ending? Perhaps, but it’s worth it.  The story is unique and inspiring, truly a “tale as old as time.”

Expected Excellence (Jack Wilson)

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Last year, Coach Fitzgerald’s constant reminder that we were a “culture of champions” pushed our team to greatness. I can say from firsthand experience that last year’s state championship men’s soccer team expected the most from all its players. Every person on the team had a mentality focused on winning, and this was largely due to the leadership of Coach Fitzgerald. His constant encouragement and self-controlled approach propelled the team to win.

This must-win mentality was perhaps most evident in last year’s captains: Jack Stein, Michael Stanford, and John Fitzgerald. Out of their leadership, a near perfect system arose, and as a result the Westminster men won the state championship.

Although it is a new season and games will not always go as planned, there is still a rare quality about this team that most lack.  Sometimes it takes a little longer to develop, but I can tell you that with the our men’s soccer team, you can always expect excellence.

I certainly do.

The Chance to Lead. The Wisdom to Do It Right. (Hannah Price)

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Coach Poore, Westminster’s director of athletics, has evaluated the school’s various teams and identified two major problems. The first is a lack of general physical strength which is being remedied through mandatory strength training for every sport. The second is a lack of leadership within the school’s sports teams. In order to fix this second problem, Coach Poore hired Blake Thompson, Westminster parent and mental conditioning coach, to teach students about leadership. He has been attending various practices and games where he has taught in large group settings, and he has also begun teaching a leadership class.

Mr. Thompson served in the military for several years and has worked at the University of Alabama as a mental conditioning coach during summer practices. The class he is teaching at Westminster is similar to the mental conditioning he provides at the university level, although it is not nearly as intense.

Over the past few months, we have covered several different topics; but one central theme has emerged: Leading means inspiring others to follow. Leadership is a skill that some people are born with an aptitude for. However, it must be honed, and that requires intentionality. Leading is not simply yelling at your teammates until they do what you want them to do. A good leader sets an example through all of their actions and inspires others to follow them.

Now we have opportunity to lead and the wisdom to capitalize on it.

A Long Summer Road (Olivia Godfrey)

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Relief, joy, excitement: this pretty well described all members of my family on that final day of school. The adventure of a lifetime was only a car ride away. As this final day slowly approached, my father began to prepare us for the the long days driving in a cramped minivan and the nights we would spend in crowded hotel rooms. While at first I was struck with reluctance to embark on our summer excursion, I began to realize how many opportunities I would have to see some of our nation’s most famous monuments and important landmarks. This truly would be an experience I would never forget.

Because school had just come to a close, getting into a van and driving nine hours with an exhausted dad, a drained mom, two obnoxious teenagers, and a brother who just wanted to be glued to Mine-Craft for twenty-four hours a day was not what I would have labeled as enjoyable. However, here I was in a car for nine hours with my family; I would have to make the most of it.

Our first few days were full of driving and stopping and driving some more. I was pleasantly surprised with how well my family began adjusting to this new way of life. Hotel breakfasts as well as lunch and dinner on the road actually became exciting in an unfamiliar way.

As we travelled through plains and mountains, my eyes were opened to the beauty of the world around me. Little did I know that some of the most breathtaking pictures I had ever seen of various landscapes were ten times as astonishing in person. I cannot express in words the awe I felt while witnessing our God’s creation. I felt as though I had been placed in a painting, God being the artist. I will never be able to forget the images of creation I was so fortunate to see during those ten days of roaming the country.

I believe what made this time so significant was the combination of who I was surrounded by with the backdrop that surrounded me. Being from a family of six, one would not always expect everyone to enjoy every moment of a family trip; however, this trip was different. The unity was there. The love was there. The mutual amazement at the masterpieces we encountered brought us closer.

Being in the car for over four thousand miles is not easy. I do confess it was hard at times. But the honest truth is that the good times outweighed the bad so much that I can hardly remember a time where I wanted to go home. For the first time ever I felt a sense of peace. I was surrounded by the ones I most loved and given an opportunity of a lifetime. What more could I ask for? People have asked me if I would ever go on this adventure again. My answer? I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

High School Bucket List (Sarah McDaniel)

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You’ve seen the lists of things to do before you graduate, including taking the ACT twenty times, writing a resumé like your God’s gift to the world, or writing ten different versions of the same essay for ten different scholarship opportunities. However, high school should be about more than prepping for college. It should also be about having fun while you are still a teenager, without the responsibilities of an adult. So here is a new list.

1. Do something that scares you.
When you go to college, you will have responsibilities enough. Now is your time to go on crazy adventures. For this consummate introvert, this meant going to a crowded Keith Urban concert with my best friend. Completely worth it.

2. Take a trip with friends or family.
Road trips are a great way to get closer to friends and family. They are full of fun experiences and memories that you cannot gain doing anything else. One of my favorite memories is a trip up to the Opryland Hotel at Christmas. That night, my dad and I explored the expansive hotel, just to get lost. It was something he and I will always remember.

3. Learn a new skill.
Whether it is a new language, karate, or even just learning how to do your own laundry, learning something new that’s not academic. It will help you remember that learning really can be fun.

4. Make a time capsule.
Every adventure or experience you gain, you should set aside one thing from that trip— a photo, a postcard, whatever—that represents the trip. Then, when you are older, you can look back through them and remember all the fun times you have had. Adults tell me this is really valuable.


5. Do one thing every day that is just for you.
High school is challenging; I won’t lie. But by doing one thing every day that is just for you–not for a teacher, or coach, or parent–you will learn to relax, and this will make high school ten times more bearable. For example, I take a break after school every day where I lock myself in my room and enjoy a bag of chips and some Netflix.
Now get started. You’ve got a lot to do.


Tech Review: The iPad Pro (Heath Padgett)

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This December I purchased Apple’s brand new iPad Pro. The iPad Pro was the perfect addition to my Apple suite as it seamlessly communicates with both my iPhone and MacBook Pro. However, a serious question remains: is the iPad Pro a viable replacement for your computer?

The iPad Pro is very similar to the iPad Air except for two main differences: the screen is much larger, and it is compatible with the Apple Pencil. The screen on the iPad Pro spans 12.9 inches, which makes it nearly the size of my MacBook Pro’s 13 inch screen. This allows many of the applications to run more like a computer. For example, Safari can run full size webpages that look just like those in a Mac. There is no more need for the annoying mobile websites that limit the functionality of smaller devices. Also, the larger screen allows for a full size digital keyboard (or Apple’s Smart Keyboard attachment). I have enjoyed the digital keyboard and am able to type effectively on it even though it does not have the physical feel of an actual keyboard. If typing is important for you in purchasing such a device, I would recommend either an attachable keyboard or just going with a MacBook.

The biggest difference between the iPad Pro and a MacBook is the touch screen. The iPad Pro is complemented with the Apple Pencil which allows great creativity. The Apple Pencil is unlike most styli because it works together with the iPad to accurately sense force and tilt. This allows you to draw much more precisely and use many new techniques such as shading and proper calligraphy.

The bottom line is this: if you want a very portable, lightweight device that inspires creativity and allows for general use of typical applications, then the iPad Pro is a wonderful option. Although sometimes a real computer is necessary for more professional applications, I have consistently found myself using my iPad Pro more than my MacBook Pro. Weigh how you want to use your device, and your decision should be obvious.