Monthly Archives: January 2016

Christmas: The Extended Version (Lauren Hoaglund)

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Who doesn’t want Christmas to last for more than just a day? Who doesn’t want the season to go on past a single month? We all do.

Well, good news: I have a solution.

I have a Christmas tradition of putting up and decorating my Christmas tree and listening to Christmas music in full force the week, if not the day, after Halloween to extend the tragically short Christmas season to a full two months.

Much to my surprise, when I told others about this somewhat odd practice they told me that I was ruining the season of Thanksgiving and taking the fun out of the anticipation of the Christmas season. Some even said that they could only take a certain amount of Christmas spirit and that they tired of Christmas traditions sometimes even before Christmas arrived. These critics told me that I must wait until at least the week after Thanksgiving to enjoy any kind of Christmas merriment.

This was an entirely new concept to me. How could someone tire of Christmas music or traditions? Though my family must wait to buy and decorate our two live trees that stay on the main level of our house to make sure they stay alive for Christmas day itself, I see no harm in keeping an artificial tree in my room where only I can enjoy it. Nothing makes me work harder on a paper or study harder for a test or my upcoming midterms than seeing my twinkling tree in the corner of my room. It gives me hope as I struggle through these last few weeks until the joy of Christmas and all the merriment that surrounds the season.

So quit whining, get yourself a fake tree and some cheap Christmas CDs, and let the merriment begin. . .in November!

How Jane Austen Saved My Life (Maddie Hoaglund)

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It is a truth widely acknowledged that I am not an especially social person. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t truly realize this fact until last summer.

Since I had but two years before striking out on my own, they shipped me off to an overnight running camp. At this camp, I would be forced to socialize with others for seven whole days with no viable means of escape. Fortunately for me, I managed to convince my parents that this experiment would be more likely to succeed, if I brought a worthy companion. My wonderful friend Ms. M___ shared my love of avoiding humans, and soon we were both on our way to Sewanee, Tennessee.

Upon our arrival, I noticed that this college was isolated, set in the midst of an impenetrable mountainous wilderness. Unfortunately, this would not be the last time that week I suspected the camp was a prison. Finally, the moment had come to begin this long week. Instead of socializing the other campers, Ms. M___ and I hurried up to our room and shut the door.

While trapped in our small cell, I noticed that a book had been stowed in my luggage. This was none other than the notorious summer reading novel Pride and Prejudice. Slowly lifting the book, I realized that these hundreds of pages, so dreaded back in May, would now be my salvation.

Since I had already completed the novel, I suggested to Ms. M___ that perhaps we should read aloud so that she might finish. Readily, she consented. Instead of socializing with fellow campers, we spoke only with that witty heroine, Elizabeth Bennett.

Between each meal and between each run, the characters leapt off the page and consumed our every thought. Paragraph by paragraph, an intricate romance unfolded before us. Regrettably, all good things must end and ours only lasted four days. That’s right–we read the entire novel in four days. But that left one problem. There were three days of camp left! We nearly despaired, thinking with trepidation that we might be forced to leave our cozy cell and venture into the fearsome social world fo the other campers.

Lucky for us, we discovered the six-hour BBC version of the movie!

Short Story: Ghost Road (Sara Hinton)

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I’m not strong enough to fight the creeping vines, or fix the slumping roof, or the rotting floor boards, or cracked walls. Father will have to fix those when he comes home. I wonder when he’ll be back to repair the house, so I can finally get some sleep. My hands are pale, and my frame is weak and skinny. I wonder, should get I something to eat. No, Father will be home soon, and I want to wave to him from the window like I always do.

The floor boards are creaking behind me, something thunked against the wall. I cannot see what it is. I have to watch for Father. I cannot fight the animals; I am too weak. And I cannot drive bandits away; Father took the only gun. Besides, I need to watch for Father. He will fix the house, drive off the bandits, and kill the animals for our dinner.

“Hello.”

A young voice is behind me. A young boy. I cannot look at him fully; I need to watch for Father.

“You’re pretty.”

He is so innocent.

I will not respond because I know that the Boy lies. I am too sickly to be pretty. I must wait for Father to come out of the woods, so I can wave and shout to him. The Boy is talking about his mother, his sister, and his imaginary world. I will listen to be polite, but I cannot really hear him. I’m too focused on the dirt road twisting through the woods. Someone is calling for the Boy. I think he just said good bye. He is gone. Finally.

How much time has passed since the Boy came here? Maybe an hour or so. But I will wait for Father. He will be back any minute now. After all, he told me he would be back soon. No longer than three days. Has it been three days yet? No, the sun set after the boy came. It has only been one day.

The floorboards are creaking again. Maybe it is the Boy. No, this is a Young Man. I think he is my age. I can see him out of the corner of my eye. Maybe if I should look at him. No! I have to watch the road! I need to wait for Father!

“You know.”

Is he talking to me?

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a girl like you before.”

Of course you have not. No girl is as sickly as I am. Father, come home soon and case this young man way.

“Why won’t you look at me?”

Because I have to wait for Father, but I will not tell him that. Maybe if I do not speak to him he will go way. Why is he not leaving? Does he not know that I have to wait for Father? Finally, he is gone. Now I can watch for Father in peace. I think the Young Man is in the yard. He should leave before Father comes home.

I wonder what time it is? Father should be home soon. Any minute now, he will walk down that road, and I will run to him. Is the Young Man still in the yard? No, it is a Man now. He looks like he could be Father’s age. I wonder where the Young Man went? Why does the Man keep leaving then coming back? What is he doing next to my boulders! My boulders! I cannot wait to play on them with Father again. However, I cannot ask the Man what he is doing. I need to wait by the window. I hope he does not destroy the boulders. I hope Father will come and chase him away soon. Then I will run to Father like I always do. Has it been three days yet? No look the sun is setting. Father will come home tomorrow.

Is the Man coming up to the house? I hope he does not do anything to me before Father comes home. Why is yelling at me? What did I do to hurt him? I cannot run. I must wait here for Father. Otherwise, he will not know where I am. I will watch for Father and not speak to the Man. Maybe then he will go away, like the Boy and the Young Man.

Father, please come home soon. This man is scaring me.

He is gone. I wonder what made him so angry. It wasn’t me. I have only been sitting here, waiting for Father. I should get some sleep, but I cannot. Father might come home early, so I have to wait for him. I have to watch for him.

When did the sun rise? It does not matter. I have to watch for Father. He will be home any minute now! The floor boards are creaking again. Who is it this time? It is an Old Man. I cannot look at him properly. I have to watch for Father. He will be home soon. He brought a chair to sit in. Is he going to wait with me? Very well, Old Man, we will wait for Father together.

“Fifty years.”

What did he say?

“Fifty years ago today, I walked in here chasing my ball. I was only nine then, but you my window girl haven’t aged a day. Now doesn’t that just tickle your feathers.”

“Then forty three years ago, I decided you were the most beautiful creature I have ever seen! Oh, I so young and foolish. But I was determined to get you to talk to me.”

He is now saying he is the Young man! Impossible! I have only been here three days, not fifty years! Father hurry home! Please, the people are scaring me! I must be calm. He will go away, just like the others did. So I will not speak to him until he leaves or Father comes home. Father! Where are you?

“When I found out your story…I didn’t know what to think!”

Be quiet, Old Man! Father will be here soon then you will have to leave!

“It was just so sad, and I was determined to make you see the truth. I was so determined I took to yelling at you! But you just won’t tear your eyes away from the window! Even though it killed you.”

What are you talking about, Old Man? Why are you lying to me? Father will be home soon and then you will be sorry that you have scared me like this.

The old man looks surprised.

I can see the old man’s face. I have looked away from the window. I am not watching for Father! He is probably walking up the road as we speak. The road is empty. He has not come.

“So you can talk!”

Is the Old Man laughing?

“Fifty years you never said a word fifty years! HA! I finely got you to talk!”

I cannot help it. I need to speak with this man. I will watch the road, but I will listen to his words.

“What are you talking about, Old Man?”

“Well it was around the time of the Civil War.”

“Civil War? I remember Father saying something about a war when we lived in Nashville.”

“Yes, sweetheart, that was over a century ago.”

A century! I need to look at this man. He seems to be serious. I can see no deceit in his eyes. I will watch him to make sure he does not lie.

“When the Civil War got started, there was a man with a very sick daughter.”

Was that me? Am I the daughter? I am sickly. I am weak. And this Old Man, he is not lying.

“He did not want to leave her for the war, so they hid in the mountains.”

“Yes! Father did bring us here. He said he did not want to kill anyone, and I said that I did not want him to kill anyone either!”

“Yes, sometimes he would have to go into town for supplies, and you would wait here by the window until he came home.”

“Yes. Oh, Father. I have to watch for him.”

The road is still empty, but Father will be home any minute and put an end to this Old Man’s lies. But, I do not think he is lying. No, he must be lying.

“Sweetheart, the last time he left you was in the dead of winter. There was a blizzard, and you died sitting next to the window.”

“You lie!”

My legs feel weak. I have to lean against the window. It will support me while I stand. But I will not leave the window. This Old Man cannot make me leave. Not one of his lies will reach my ears. Father will be home soon. Father will tell me the truth. Father will save me from this old man’s lies. But his face. It looks sad.

“I’m afraid I’m not, sweetheart. Look out the window.”

No, I will not look out the window. Not if this man wants me to. I will not see his lies. But his eyes. They look so sincere, so sad.

The road is empty. Father is not there. Where is the road? There are trees everywhere. They are in the garden, in the road, but there is no road or garden. There is only grass and trees. And where is the glass? The glass was in the window when the Old Man came in.

“Look sweetheart, at the boulders.”

The boulders. They  are covered in vines and leaves. I think a tree is growing on the largest one. That was not there when the Old Man came in. The Old Man. He is pointing at something. Is that a grave stone in front of the boulder?

“That is my grave.”

“Your father came back, sweetheart. Just like he always did. After he buried you, he left. With no more reason to stay away from the war and nothing else to live for, he ran toward it. I don’t know what happened after that. Some say he died fighting for the South, some say the North. Some say he found a new wife and settled down again. But all the stories agree on one thing. That you’re still here waiting for him.”

Father came back for me. He came back. Father came back. But I did not run to him. I did not run to him!

“I did not run.”

“You can run now.”

The Old Man, he sounds hopeful. But why does he look so sad. And what does he mean I can run now that Father is gone. Oh, I can go where Father is. But the road is gone.

“Go on, sweetheart, run to your father.”

“But the road is gone. Old Man, why are you so sad?”

“Don’t worry about the road. I’m sure you’ll find it when you’re ready.”

“Old Man, why are you sad?”

“Let’s just say I’ve been waiting for this day for too long, sweetheart.”

He is crying. Why is he crying? Is it because I will go to be with Father soon? I could introduce him to Father. Father would like this Old Man. After all, he showed me the truth, even though it was outside my own window.

“Would you like to run with me?”

“Two old ghosts moving on together? Well, why not?”

The Old Man’s hand is strong. Why would he call himself a ghost? He is very much alive. I suppose I do not really care. The road is back, and I think I see Father coming this way.

The Hydration Specialist (Will Green)

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In my eighth grade year, I attended the middle school basketball game against Moody with Weston Padgett. Playing basketball was never my thing, and, truly, I am an awful player. However, I really wanted to be involved with the team and the guys in my grade. I approached Coach Richburg pretty confident that my idea of being the waterboy was going to be shot down. Much to my surprise, Coach was all for the idea and loved having me on the team. The following week I found myself sitting on the bench with some borrowed bottles and a kitchen towel ready to serve my first game as waterboy. I got so much thrill from it that truly surprised me.

As the games went by, my love for serving and being apart of the team continued to increase more and more. I invested in a brand new set of Gatorade water bottles and carrier set, which for an eighth grade student felt pretty cool. I thought my young aspirations had all been achieved. Then unexpectedly I was asked to become the waterboy for the varsity team. I was ecstatic, but felt like my title should be upgraded just the same as my position. That day a mere waterboy became the “Westminster Knights Hydration Specialist.” Eventually, I was hired to serve all of our basketball teams. Over time, I began to build friendships with the seniors and upper classmen that I would not have had otherwise. Locker room pep talks and fans cheering us on all became something I grew to love and look forward to. There’s nothing quite like being the Hydration Specialist.

DVD Review: Interstellar (Jack Wilson)

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The movie Interstellar happens to be a well made take on a space exploration. In the film Matthew McConaughey plays Joe Cooper, the man charged with the responsibility to save dying earth from a food shortage. His mission is to find another earth­-like world in order to give Earth a shot at transferring the human population to this new world.

In most science fiction movies, the majority of viewers are lost in the science behind the film. However, Interstellar provides a clear concept of time and space. For example, when Cooper and his crew reach a planet from which a signal is coming, the movie then provides a background of time. Since they had traveled through a wormhole and been in a different dimension, time had taken on a new meaning. On one planet a single year might be the equivalent of one hour. So if one takes too long on that planet, time would be affected in other places of space.

The movie and the plot can be followed easily; the only requirement is active attention to the film. In the end, after closely following the suspense of many events, some might think Earth is left for dead. The ending will catch you off guard. It is sure to provoke plenty of questions and challenges to the mind. Interstellar creates emotion, captivates the crowd, and calls for concentration, all in the end demonstrating its power as a well made movie.

Time Management: Why It’s Worth the Work (Hannah Price)

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High school students around the world struggle to balance their busy schedules. Westminster students are no different. Between the rigorous classes, nine clubs, seven sports teams, and various artistic programs, our lives are hectic. At times it may seem impossible to balance schoolwork and extracurricular activities. However, with time management skills, it is possible to not only survive, but to thrive. Over the years, many teachers and professionals have offered their advice, and many of their tips have helped considerably.

First, plan your week. Seventh graders are given a planner, which they are required to use daily. The intent behind this is to teach students to keep track of their assignments and complete them on time from the beginning of Upper School. However, many students soon give up this habit. While it is possible to do well in school without a planner, carefully deciding when you will be able to finish an assignment is vital to your success, and using a planner is a great way to accomplish this.

Second, maximize time. While some projects and assignments will take much more time than others, it is easy to spend more time than necessary on homework. This can be caused by getting distracted while you work, disorganization, or other factors. Determine what tends to distract you and do your best to avoid this while you work. For example, I am easily distracted by other people. If I text or talk while I am doing homework, I will take twice as long to finish.

There are many other tips for managing time, but I believe that these two are some of the most important. Following these tips will not necessarily guarantee your success in school, but they can reduce your stress, improve your grades, and give the time to do the things you really enjoy.

Reign: A Grown-up Show with a Child’s Imagination (Sarah McDaniel)

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Growing up, we all loved to hear the stories of princesses stuck in towers and daring
knights on quests for their country. We imagined our living room was not merely a room, but
the castle where we lived out our days of happily-ever-afters. All too soon, our adventurous days
came to an end, and the magic faded. We traded in our magic wands and swords for textbooks
and backpacks. The living room became a living room once again.
But have no fear! We can once again experience the days of magic through a TV show
called Reign. Aired on CW, Reign is a period drama set in the 1500s, rated TV-14. It follows the
life of Mary, Queen of Scots, as she struggles to determine what is right for her country and for
her. After her father’s death, Mary’s mother has established an alliance with France by betrothing her
daughter to the Dauphin of France when she was only a year old. To protect her from the English
queen, Mary was sent to a convent to hide until she was of age to be wed. The show begins
when they English have found Mary and threatened to kill her, sending her to French court to
wed the Dauphin.
This show is very accurate as far as the events that transpire, although smaller details like
their clothes and their speech are very different. The show represents the best of medieval life:
daring sword fights and mysteries to solve, as well as romance and fancy balls and handsome men. It
has plot twists riddled throughout each of its three seasons (season three is airing now). Plus, the
soundtrack is amazing. In all, this show will bring you back to your childhood memories in a
way that still makes you feel like an adult.

Hopeless Joy: A Poem by Mackie Benson

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“Hopeless Joy”

I had once often hoped for joy

Joy had no hope for me.

I used it as a ship to sail.

It cast me in the sea.

Joy never was a friend to me.

It never had a soul

That to me gave kindness.

It was to me a toll.

Somehow I think it was mistakes

That turned my joy away.

And if my joy returns to me,

Oh, that will be the day.

If every person shared my pain,

The empty world would be distressed

As joy takes away all our strain

And – from the vast depths – we are brought.

For my joy -to me- return

Is all I pray, dear God.

In my thoughts all this will burn

Until hopeless joy renews.