Monthly Archives: December 2016

DragonCon 2016 (Sara Hinton)

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It is said that birds of a feather flock together. Well, the same is true of nerds. And it is certainly true for those who venture out to DragonCon year after year.

Stuffed inside of four days and four nights, this convention of nerds and geeks is an incredible melting pot of superheroes, anime fans, movie lovers, and TV addicts. And for a nerd like myself, it is the best time imaginable.

The best part of any conference is the cosplay. Cosplay is dressing up as your favorite superhero and interacting with others in character for a while. This allows one to transcend the boundaries that normally divide strangers. Suddenly everyone has something in common: a love for the strange and the fantastic. Somehow the sheer nerdiness of the conference automatically connects everyone and makes them friends.

As one walks down Peach Tree Street, cosplayers and others nerds crowd the sidewalks, and the energy is contagious. Many gawk, laugh, point, and take pictures of the spectacular costumes, but no one minds. It’s what they’re there for.

There are four buildings rented for the event. One is the hall of vendors. There I met a man who crossed over Star Wars with fantasy. He engaged me in a conversation about the whether the mace of my character, Hawk Girl, would have any effect on his lightsaber. Because Hawk Girl’s mace disrupts magic, the answer was yes. This kind of conversation is normal at DragonCon.

I met actors and actresses from some of my favorite TV shows and movies. Ciara Renée, the actress who plays Hawk Girl in the T.V. show Legends of Tomorrow, was there and took a free picture with me and anyone else who dressed like her character. Every actor was genuine and kind no matter how long the lines to meet them were. The star cast for the TV show Grimm and Jason Isaacs, a.k.a. Lucius Malfoy of the Harry Potter franchise, were remarkably kind and genuine people.

They laughed and made jokes. They answered my questions, and one of them even gave me an idea of what was to come in the upcoming season. But one actor surprised me more than anyone. The lead actor of the TV show Warehouse 13 was there, Eddie McClintock. He also played a minor character in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. as a Kree warrior. When I complimented him on his role, he gave me a free autograph. That combined with a rare and usually expensive comic book for only one dollar made this one of the best trips ever.

Perspective (Anya McDaniel)

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After the Cold War, countries were split into three broad categories: first, second, and third world. The United States, along with countries such as Australia, Western Europe, and Japan, was considered a first world country. A first world country has the characteristics of being industrial, capitalistic, wealthy, and developed. It is from this category that we get the well known phrase “first world problems.”

This satirical phrase leaves inhabitants of the first world appearing awfully foolish and spoiled. The trivial frustrations of wealthy Americans appear ridiculous when compared to the far weightier problems of poorer, less developed countries. Have you ever said anything like this?

  1. “My phone keeps overheating when I’m sunbathing.”
  2. “I have to watch movies on my phone now because my tablet ran out of battery.”
  3. “I have nothing to wear!” (spoken while looking at a closet full of clothes)
  4. “The tint on my car windows isn’t dark enough.”
  5. “My bluetooth speaker won’t play my music loud enough.”

These are only a few of the complaints one might overhear in a first world country on a regular basis. If we’re not on the list, most of us can translate and find ourselves voicing similarly absurd complaints. The point is this: No matter how much comfort we obtain, we will always find something to complain about. It is the curse of human depravity, the insatiable greed lurking within the sin nature.

Therefore, next time a first world complaint comes to mind about the phone charger being in another room or losing the remote somewhere in the couch, try to remember that these menial struggles are nothing compared to the problems of a third world country.

Gratitude: Something to Keep In Mind (Gracie Eddins)

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Jen is fifteen years old. She lives in Gulu, Uganda and is still in elementary school. She is an exceptional student and has always worked hard in school. She is educated well enough to advance to secondary school; however, she does not have enough money for the tuition. Jen’s tuition is 1,000 Ugandan Shillings per semester; which is equivalent to about thirty cents US. Literally, pocket change.

This seems like nothing to us, but Jen has paid her own way through school and has struggled to earn this money. She has paid for her brothers and herself to complete elementary school by digging. Jen’s mother died when she was very young. A few years later, Jen’s stepmother, whom she also loved, passed away. Jen’s new stepmother verbally abuses her. “She tells me ‘You are worthless. No one loves you. We don’t need you.’ ”

Jen starts to cry and continues, “Please pray that someone will come into my life that loves me.”

Jen’s father has been an alcoholic for as long as she can remember. He is in and out of her life and beats her and her stepmother whenever he is actually home. The reason Jen cannot continue to secondary school is because her father steals all of her digging money for alcohol. Jen told us that she just keeps working so that she can continue her education, which is the most important thing to her.

And yet, despite all of Jen’s circumstances, you will still find her laughing, hysterically sometimes, with her friends during a game of fútbol on the dirt field.

Jen’s story is a reminder for us to be thankful for our education instead of complaining about school. Be grateful for the lives we are living and remember people like Jen.

Hamilton Therapy (Lauren Hoaglund)

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For the past few months I have begun to truly realize what the upperclassmen have always been complaining about. Junior year is draining me. It has left me helpless. The amount of stress that physics, calculus, philosophy, and thesis have caused me is unreal. So as everyone does when they are under stress, I have had to find a way to cope.

Now read closely, I am about to change your life. For the past two and a half months I have been completely and utterly obsessed with the Broadway musical Hamilton. It is the story of Alexander Hamilton and his struggle to create a lasting financial plan for the brand new American government. The musical follows Hamilton from the time he leaves his home in the Caribbean to go to college and join the revolution all the way to his duel and subsequent death with Aaron Burr.

Now, dear reader, I am going to share something with you that you must promise never to hold against me. Two days a week during the summer for the past four years, I have volunteered at American Village as a junior interpreter. I dress up in colonial clothes and teach children and adults about America’s struggle for freedom during the eighteenth century. So basically I am a nerd who not only studies history, but literally lives it.

Because I am both an American history nerd and Broadway musical maniac, Hamilton has been the perfect escape from my overwhelming and tear filled year thus far. If you walk into a room with me and some of my fellow classmates and Mr. Burgess or Mr. Tew, I can pretty much guarantee that we will be quoting this incredible musical. Even now I cannot listen to the last three songs without crying.

I have never gotten lost in the music of a Broadway show like I have with Hamilton. It has consumed my waking days. It reminds me to look around at how lucky I am to be alive right now. For those of you who do not understand the references imbedded in this article, drop everything and listen to Hamilton.

Now. Immediately.

Thoughts on School: Interviews with Students (Lauren Brannan)

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In the Upper School, there is a wide variety of ages ranging from seventh graders (ages twelve to thirteen) all the way to seniors (ages seventeen to eighteen). With such a wide gap, there are bound to be differences of opinion on many subjects, especially those relating to school. Because of this, I decided it would be interesting to compare different views on topics relating to school from the view of a seventh grader just coming into the Upper School and also that of a senior finishing the final year. I interviewed both students, and after asking them several questions I noticed both similarities and differences in their interviews.

To start off, when I asked a certain senior what worried her most about school, the answer was making sure work was done on time. The seventh grader, however, answered the question saying she had too much homework and was worried about making good grades. When asked what goal she had for this year, the senior answered with finishing strong, keeping up grades, and enjoying the last year. The seventh grader responded that her goal was to stay organized, have good grades, and stay on top of work.

Another question asked was how this year differed from last year so far? The senior said the biggest difference was having to think about college on top of regular work, while the seventh grader said that the biggest difference was the more relaxed, laid back atmosphere and having more freedom.

One thing both the senior and seventh grader agreed strongly on was the question of are they glad that they have gone to school at Westminster. Although both agreed receiving an education here at Westminster has its challenges, both stated that there was absolutely no question that this was the right place for them.