Hammond to Host First Ever LGBT-Conference in May

By: Uma Ribiero and Julia Moyer

News Editors

Thanks to the planning of Ms. Danielle DuPuis and the support of the other SAGA club sponsors, Ms. Holly, Ms. Hart, and Ms. Reisman, Hammond will be hosting its first-ever Rainbow Conference on May 15, 2020 from 12-4pm. The conference will celebrate the pride among members of Howard County with LGBT activities and resources. Students and teachers from all Howard County schools along with family members and friends are all welcome to attend the conference, which will begin with keynote speaker Mikah Meyer saying a few words in the auditorium. After that, attendees will transition from the auditorium to their three previously selected sessions. 

There are currently eighteen sessions to choose from, with panels focusing on a variety of topics, from LGBT literature, games, and dancing, to behind the scenes of the LGBT movement, activism, and experience. The conference not only gives Howard County residents a chance to celebrate their pride, but also allows for lgbt students and other members of the community to gain important resources and learn more about the LGBT-based events and activities which take place within Maryland. The conference also gives allies an opportunity to learn more about how they can support their LGBT friends and family as well. Not to mention, free pizza and snacks will be distributed to attendees, and there will be opportunities to win prizes throughout the event. 

Ms. DuPuis, who has been organizing the Rainbow Conference and gaining sponsors, commented on what inspired her to plan this event. “Over the years at SAGA meetings, students would comment how they would love to meet up with other students from other schools, and also, as a sponsor, I was kind of like “I feel pretty in-the-know about a lot of things, but I was also learning a lot of new things from students, like things that were going on around the school, and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we had a conference that could bring students from other schools here, so other LGBTQ students and their allies could meet up, get together, and meet one another and plan, but also that would inform these students as well as other educators about LGBTQ issues in and outside of the school system. I feel like it’s one of those things that you don’t know what you don’t know and the more that we bring awareness to these things, the better. For instance, I had not even heard about non-binary genders until like two years ago, so…to be able to have other teachers and educators come and not feel judged for maybe not knowing proper [LGBTQ] protocol and be able to attend these sessions that are going to be offeredthat will help them in the classroom and just in like in general, I think is going to be good.”

Hammond students are already looking forward to the conference, which is only five short months away. Sophomore Kelly Kujawa comments, “I am really excited for the rainbow conference because it provides an opportunity for members of the LGBT+ community to be surrounded by members of the Hammond and Howard County community who support them!”

Ms. DuPuis is currently looking for Hammond and other Howard County high school students to volunteer at the conference. Some students have already signed up to help session presenters at the conference. Sophomore Jordan Galeone added on, “I’m looking forward to the rainbow conference in May because of the opportunities it holds for me. I signed up to help a session presenter with their panel at it, and I’m very excited!” 

There are still volunteer spots open to help session presenters throughout the event as well as to help with set-up for the conference, and service hours will be provided if needed. 

Along with planning and preparing for the  Rainbow Conference, Ms. DuPuis is working with two interns to advertise for the event and to create an LGBT-oriented literary magazine to be distributed to conference attendees on May 15. The magazine will be filled with writing, photography, art, and more created by Howard County high school students. Rainbow Vision Literary Magazine is currently accepting submissions of all types of writing, from poetry to essays to short stories, as well as photography, art, and song lyrics, with an LGBT theme until March 1st. All allies and members of the community are encouraged to submit to the magazine. 

Be sure to follow @hcpss_pride and @rainbowvision on Instagram for important updates regarding the conference and the magazine!

Should Athletes Profit off their Image and Likeness?

By: Caleb Angus & Ekene Ezeh

Sports Editors

Viewing college sports is one of the most popular pastimes in America, and different people have different reasons for watching. Some people are simply entertained by the game, and others may watch to support their alma maters. However, while millions of people tune in every week to these games, the athletes don’t make any money off of their performances. According to the rules of the NCAA, athletes are not allowed to profit off their names and likeness. If there is an endorsement deal a company wants to give them, they can’t accept it. If there is an autograph event where they can make money and profit, they can’t go. Take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, for example. Young received a loan from a family friend so that he would be able to fly his girlfriend out to one of his games. He was promptly suspended from playing for two games. These rules were put in place by the NCAA, rules created to hold down an athletes earning power. College athletes put in countless hours of hard work and dedication towards the sport they love, so should be allowed to profit for the hard work they put in.

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Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

These college athletes may only be students, but they dedicate a lot of long hours to their craft to make themselves better. “When I think about it, college athletes put in the same amount of work as a professional athlete would,” said senior Loick Amouzou. “Athletes on the highest level do that. So I think for them not to be able to profit off the effort, time, and hard work that they’re putting in… I think it is a little crazy.” 

Athletes will spend about forty hours at practice with their team. This, however, does not include the hours of private training that the athletes put in to improve their skills. Due to the hard work and dedication that college athletes put into their craft, they are able to put a great product out on the court and field, a product that people are willing to pay a pretty penny to watch firsthand. As a result, the NCAA is able to profit off these athletes, making 8 billion dollars per year as reported in 2017, while the athletes get nothing in return. But there is an argument to be made for student athletes to not profit off their likeness. 

Many believe that these student athletes do not require payment since the college scholarships that they receive for their talents are payment enough. They argue that since the players are students and they are there to learn, they should not demand compensation in return. Many will argue that these athletes are at the school to get their education, so focusing on making a profit off of their likeness will only distract them from their studies. However, this is simply unfair.

Although these athletes are students first, they are still athletes at heart and put their blood, sweat, and tears into the many sports they play. In many cases they’ve dedicated their whole lives to the particular sport they play, and deserve some sort of reward if they have a big enough presence on and off the field. Junior Ameer Abdulah agrees that players deserve to profit off themselves, stating, “I feel like college athletes should be able to make money because they’re devoting their time to play the sport that I’m assuming their good at, because they play at the college level, and since they represent the school and the school earns some sort of salary from the games, then they should get a portion of that because they’re devoting most of their time in college to play the sport for that season.” These schools cannot deny that they make thousands, if not millions of dollars off these athletes, so it is only right that the athletes should be able to do the same.

Trump’s Impeachment: It’s About Time, America

By: Anna Taché

Editorials Editor

If you have been paying attention to the news at all for the past few weeks, you’ll know that President Trump, after facing his scheduled House Judiciary hearings, has been impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and is currently in the midst of the Senate impeachment trial. Thanks to these hearings, Trump is now the third president in American history to have been impeached. To sum up what prompted these House Judiciary hearings, essentially a whistleblower claimed that last July, Trump, on a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, pressured the Ukrainian government to launch a “politically charged” investigation. Trump wanted two things: to prove that Ukraine politicians tried to sway American voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and for the Ukrainian government to investigate one of his 2020 election rivals Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had worked on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Since the allegation was made public, other witnesses have come forward to confirm the claims and the White House released a summary of the call that describes President Trump asking Ukraine for a favor. At the time of the phone call, Trump had already suspended almost $400 million in US military aid to Ukraine.

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Photo Credit: Al Jazeera

Now, because this article is an editorial, you, as the reader, are most likely expecting me to state my opinion on this subject. Well, here you go: I believe that Trump’s impeachment is well deserved. There have been multiple issues that he has caused or allegations that surround him, and I’m here to break them down for you. First of all, the Ukraine scandal: what’ caused these impeachment trials in the first place. My biggest issue with the entire situation is that Trump pressured Ukraine, which desperately needed the US’s help to fend off Russian aggression, to target citizens for his own personal gain. Not is that only just a general invasion of privacy, but the fact that Trump was willing to exploit US citizens in order to excel in the 2020 election is painfully disappointing, but honestly not surprising based on his track record.

 Although Trump was impeached based on his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, there is one important thing that I believe he should have been impeached for: the sexual misconduct allegations. The Huffington Post currently has a frequently updated article that contains a list of women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. As of October 2019, that list currently contains 25 names, including many former Miss Universe contestants, a former staff member of Trump’s presidential campaign, as well as his ex-wife, Ivana Trump. Trump, being the person that he is, has aggressively denied all of these claims, calling the victims “liars.” 

However, as of November, evidence has been discovered that links to one of the claims. Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos claimed that Trump had repeatedly touched, groped, and kissed her on multiple occasions in late 2007 and early 2008. Trump has denied these allegations, saying that he had never met her at a hotel, which is one of the claims made by Zervos. However, calendar entries and cell phone records from that time period have been released to the court, and the evidence is suggesting otherwise. The cellphone records released November 5 show that for a three-month period between 2007 and 2008, Trump had made multiple calls to Zervos, including one on December 21, 2007 at 3:02 p.m., which was 2 minutes after his flight was scheduled to land in Los Angeles. This validates Zervos’s claim that Trump had called her after he had landed in Los Angeles and asked her to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where he later sexually assaulted her. Trump’s calendar showed that he did, in fact, stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel on December 21, 2007 – the same day in which he called Zervos from the airport.

Although Trump has consistently denied all claims made against him, and very aggressively and inappropriately might I add, the fact that 25 women have come forward saying that they have had similar encounters with Trump is a better indicator of the truth than the loaded language of President Trump. I get it – he’s our president and you wanna respect him or whatever. But when it comes to an issue as serious as sexual assault, listening to and believing the survivors is important, even when the person they’re accusing is in a position of power. Men in power taking advantage of women isn’t a new concept: we’ve seen it very recently with the cases of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, etc. So why is it so hard to believe that even our president could commit similar acts? It’s time that we, as both a country and a society, start believing victims rather than calling them liars and victim-blaming. 

So ultimately, I believe that Trump’s impeachment was very well-deserved, and in all honesty, I think he deserves more of a punishment. He has been abusing his power since he came into office, and he rarely settles out issues over anything more than a poorly-worded tweet. I believe it’s time for us, as a country, to move on from this embarrassment of a president and finally kick Trump (and Pence as well, he’s no better) out of office for good.

From Class to Club: American Sign Language Taught by Students

By: Jenna Kreh and Emma Terry

Features Editors

This 2019-2020 school year, two Hammond students have taken the initiative to start a new club. The goal of this club is for students to learn American Sign Language, a program that had the potential to become a class, but failed to find a teacher and therefore is not offered here at Hammond. This group meets every Wednesday after school in room 517, currently Mrs. Jones’ room, to go over the basics of sign language. It is a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests and learn something new!

This club was created by Sarah England, who is not fluent in ASL, but expressed an interest in it and wanted to make it more accessible to others. “I learned over the summer that they weren’t offering an ASL class at the school- they couldn’t get a teacher- and I knew a lot of people were interested in it,” Sarah explained. “They had enough people to start a class, so I wanted to start a club.” Sarah’s interest in the subject stemmed from the large differences between ASL and other languages. “You don’t realize how different American Sign Language is- it’s completely different from English- and it interested me so much and I wanted to kind of share that.”

While Sarah took an interest in the subject without a specific connection to the language, another student, Ayo Aina, did have a connection. Ayo has deaf or hard of hearing parents, leading to him learning the language and becoming fluent. Because of this, Ayo teaches the club at Hammond, and he and Sarah work together to coordinate the class.

This club is open to all students at Hammond who are interested. One student, Joseph Lee, currently has a job as a cashier and realized that learning sign language would help to improve his work experience when communicating with those that cannot speak. For these reasons, Joseph thought he would give the ASL club a try. “I decided to join because I thought it would be cool to learn about what to do in a situation where deaf or hard of hearing people can’t speak and come into a place like Starbucks,” he said. “It makes their day if the cashier knows how to sign back to them.” He also added that the club is relaxed and fun, without the stress of the class. He encouraged others to join, saying, “It’s a cool way to meet new people, and to be able to learn together when it is something that you have an interest in rather than it being mandatory like how Spanish and French are in school.”

The club is fairly new to Hammond, so there have not been many meetings so far, but Joseph has already had a very positive experience. “The two meetings so far have been where we all come in and sit down while Sarah and Ayo lead the class and go over what we learned last class and then start teaching basic ASL words and terms.” It is very low-key and fun, and there is no pressure to learn at a certain pace, creating a welcoming working environment for all students.

Hammond loves to see students taking their own initiative to start something they are passionate about, and Sarah and Ayo have done just that. It is amazing to see such passion in our students, and Hammond encourages you to find your passion and pursue it. And who knows- maybe its sign language! So come check out the ASL club next Wednesday in room 517!

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series – Are They Remaking HSM?

By: Sydney Phillips

Co-A&E Editor

When Disney unveiled that they were creating a streaming service, people had mixed opinions. Some believed that it was just a cynical attempt by  Disney to make more money, since they already own a lot in the entertainment industry. Others, like myself, however, were excited to see what new Originals Disney+ was claiming to make. One of these originals was long debated even before its release, and that was High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

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Photo Courtesy of D23

Many people expressed their frustration with Disney trying to make money off of an older franchise, and others constantly said that it would “never be as good as the original.” Once watching the show, I realized that was not the point of making this show; they aren’t trying to “remake” High School Musical, this is its own thing. Junior Skylar Shaffer agrees with this, saying, “I don’t really see it as an addition [to the franchise]. It has nothing to do with the characters Troy and Gabriella themselves.” This is where the story begins.

This series follows high schoolers who attend East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is the school where they filmed High School Musical. In the first episode, the theatre teacher, Miss Jenn, announces that the school will be putting on a production of High School Musical. This allows us to be introduced to our main characters, Ricky, played by Joshua Bassett, and Nini, played by Olivia Rodrigo. Other important characters that we follow throughout the show include Gina, EJ, Carlos, Big Red, Ashlyn, and Kourtney. 

In the beginning, we find out that Ricky and Nini used to date, however they broke it off over the summer. During summer, Nini went to theatre camp and met EJ, and eventually, they began dating. Now, the characters are back at school, where Ricky sees EJ and Nini together, and gets jealous. Now, Ricky was never a theatre kid, however seeing them together made him want to impress Nini so he could get her back. And what better way to do this than to audition for the school’s production of High School Musical. 

The first episode mainly introduces the characters to the viewers, and shows us the most important part: auditions for the musical. It is obvious that Ricky was trying out for Troy to win Nini back, however EJ was also trying out for Troy. Nini chose to tryout for Gabriella because her experience at the theatre camp somewhat helped her confidence, but Gina, the new multi-talented student, was also auditioning for Gabriella. Once auditions are over, the cast list was immediately posted, and Ricky and Nini were cast as Troy and Gabriella, while EJ and Gina were casted as Troy and Gabriella’s understudies. 

The entire first season follows their process leading up to the performances. In this show, we see all of the obstacles that the characters have to face, some of which teenagers can relate to. “I like how they include real world problems that high school students go through daily,” said senior Sharnay Omesh. 

Once viewing the show, anyone can see that they are not trying to remake High School Musical. This is in no way connected to the High School Musical plot, and although there have been several guest stars from the actual movies, I can safely say that this show is its own thing. There are original songs, one of which is called ‘All I want’ written and sung by Olivia Rodrigo, and this debuted on the Billboard Hot 100s charts in both the USA and Canada. 

Overall, this is a wonderful show that many students, especially those in the performing arts, can relate to or take from in a positive way. I recommend watching this show, and giving it a chance, instead of saying no because of the title. 

Why Everybody Needs to Read Fanfiction

Isabel Berry

Co-A&E Editor

For those that read fanfiction, they know that talking about their reading habits in public will earn them a sideways glance or a questioning look. Fanfiction has a certain stigma around it, and after interviewing a few students, this reporter learned a little more about why that is. For those that may not know the specifics, works of fanfiction are stories that include characters of a TV series, movies, books, etc. that are written by fans. Stories can range from light-hearted fluff to more explicit themes. The more explicit stories are what have caused such a negative stigma around fanfiction itself. 

After being asked if they knew what fanfiction was and if they would read fanfiction in a fandom they enjoy, Junior Skylar Shaffer replied, “I do know what fanfiction is and I used to read it if a friend would send me one. I think it would be more appealing if it was clear it wasn’t inappropriate, because I personally would rather not read text like that.” In order to address the latter half of Skylar’s statement, this reporter did some research. 

The two most popular fanfiction websites are Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net. They both are home to thousands of works of fanfiction and have millions of users. Archive of Our Own, commonly known as AO3, has over 2,257,000 users and over 5,552,000 works. Fanfiction.net has over 12,000,000 users and stories in over 40 languages. Archive of Our Own was created by fans in October of 2008 and is a non-profit, noncommercial archive for ‘transformative fanworks’. Fanfiction.net was actually created before AO3 in October of 1998, but Archive of Our Own soon passed it up in popularity ratings most likely because of its greater range in filters. 

On both sites there are ratings for the different types of content in each fandom. On Fanfiction.net the different ratings include K, K+, T, M, and MA. K is for audiences of 5 years of age or older, K+ is 9 and older, T is 13 and older, and M is for audiences 16 and older. MA is meant for audiences 18 and older, and is strictly forbidden on Fanfiction.net. Meaning that any work marked with MA is to be promptly removed from the site. There is a system in place for readers to report work if they do not have the proper rating, which is also utilized on AO3.

Archive of Our Own utilizes four ratings for their content, general audiences, teen and up, mature, and explicit: only suitable for adults. Archive of Our Own also has warnings that authors can put in place in order to inform readers that their content includes graphic depictions of violence, death, or that it includes explicit themes. Also, any story marked with explicit content has a secondary window that informs the reader that by clicking this work they may view adult content, and it informs them that by clicking ‘proceed’ they agree to view such content. 

So on AO3 and Fanfiction.net, content is clearly sectioned under the different ratings and by utilizing the filter options, readers can find what they want to read and avoid what they do not. Some of the most popular fandoms on AO3 and Fanfiction.net include Harry Potter, Naruto, Marvel, and Supernatural. In an interview with Sophomore Deacon Sweeting about the fanfiction stigma, he stated, “Fanfiction is seen as dirty, I don’t think that it can ever really be helped to be honest. I just think that there’s always been a stigma around it and there always will be.” So in order to attack the status quo, this reporter asked what people could do to make fanfiction more appealing to the general public and what people could do to show others that fanfiction can be good. There were many conflicting responses on what could be done, but Senior Terra O’Rourke put a positive spin on what many find appalling, “Maybe fanfiction sites can have filters so that you can choose what fandoms you like and they could have a rating system with the stories listed by what’s most liked. Think of it like this, it’s fun for some people and it’s good that some kids are writing creatively and expressing themselves. We shouldn’t bash on anyone who just genuinely enjoys it and promotes it for fun.” 

Fanfiction is an easy way for people to creatively write stories about their favorite characters and share them with the public. Instead of shying away from fanfiction because of the societal disgrace associated with it, everyone should be pulling up AO3 or Fanfiction.net to find something to enjoy. Many forms of entertainment are considered entertaining because they allow for an escape from the real world into a story of beloved characters. Fanfiction allows young authors to take their favorite characters and give them the stories that they wish to escape to. So instead of brushing off their works as distasteful, everyone should be whipping out their phones in order to find some fanfiction that allows them to truly escape and enjoy the wonders of reading a great story. 

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Photo Credit: Keep Calm Posters

These Shining Lives: A Glowing Tribute

By: Chinaza Ezeh

Co-online Editor

Radium: an intensely radioactive metallic chemical element that occurs in combination in minute quantities in minerals (such as pitchblende or carnotite), emits alpha particles and gamma rays to form radon, and is used chiefly in the treatment of cancer and in radiographic devices.

Radium: used in the 1920s and 1930s by the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois to paint watch faces.

Radium: consumed through the mouth using the “lip, dip, paint” method by the Radium Girls, workers at the Radium Dial Company. Main focus: Catherine, Charlotte, Frances and Pearl.

Radium: made them shine.

Radium: tore them apart.

Hammond High School put on an incredibly thought provoking and heart wrenching production of These Shining Lives on November 9, 2019. The show is an incredible examination of the corruption and evil capable of manifesting in big business. In addition to that, the show is a testament to the resilience of human will, and more specifically, female will, at a time when it seemed the entire world stood against them.

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Photo Credit: Hammond Theatre

One performance that deserves recognition is that of Ali Khalid, playing the role of Tom Donahue, Catherine’s husband. It was very easy to forget that the person on-stage was a sixteen year old boy, and not a married man with two kids and a full-time job in construction. Khalid did a wonderful job of catching the humanness of Tom. The character was absolutely multi-faceted, just as people generally are. Perhaps this is a nod to the scriptwriting, but even if Tom was written this way, he could’ve easily been played in more of a one-toned manner. Instead, Khalid captured Tom’s childlike humor, honest man’s grit, flawed ill-temper, and incredible tenderness, especially when Catherine needed it the most. One of the most touching moments in the show is when Tom reassures Catherine as she lay awake, terrified: “No one on earth can hold a candle to you; no one in heaven will come close.”

A supporting character that also deserves recognition is that of Frances, played by Katie Marshall. Frances is the most conservative one among her friends, and quite lovable all the same. Marshall captures her innocence in a way that makes the audience smile, while also warming their hearts. Of course, having such a pure character makes it all the more difficult to watch them slowly fall apart. Great credit goes to Marshall for being able to make a character so endearing, it just hurts. The moment Frances learns of her diagnosis, the complete sadness that overtakes her face is overwhelmingly real, and it’s as if the only people in the room is Frances.

The element that anchored this show was the acting. It is so easy to take a serious play and do it absolutely wrong, especially in a high school setting. Yet, each actor took their role one hundred percent seriously, and it showed. It means a lot when certain lines are remembered in shows. In this one, the three that resonate the most are: “No one on earth can hold a candle to you; no one in heaven will come close”; “Every day I wonder, if today is the day I kill Rufus Reed”; and “I’d better get the damn cherry.” Each line conveys a different emotion: comfort and pain; anger; attitude (respectively). Yet, each was remembered (for me) despite their differences.

The two most notable technical elements were the lighting and the radium. The lighting was very important for determining location, as each setting was always on-stage. Yet, the move from location to location was always seamless, and it never felt like a character was simply travelling from one side of the stage to another. Lighting was also used to show the radium at two points during the show. One was in the middle, when Catherine first discovers that her hands are permanently glowing. All the lights on the stage are turned off, so the glow emitting from Catherine’s hands is stark against the black background. The other moment is at the end of the show, when all of the radium dial workers, now deceased, step forward and show their hands, a way of symbolising that even in death, even below the ground, they remain shining.

These Shining Lives is an incredible story that simultaneously wrenches your heart, makes you laugh, and educates you about American history that is often not taught in schools. Hopefully, all of the brave radium women that now rest in their graves would be honored by such a production created in their memory and honor.