Virtual Town Hall Takeaways: A Conversation with Dr. DiPaula

By Uma Ribeiro

Editor-in-Chief

Image Source: Hammond SGA

The Bear Press sat down with Hammond Principal Dr. John DiPaula through a virtual call to discuss the town hall meetings held for students on Tuesday, December 15, Thursday, December 17, and Friday, December 18 at 10:50 am. A separate town hall was held for seniors and freshmen while a joint one was held for juniors and sophomores in which students were free to ask Dr. DiPaula, administrators, and student leaders questions regarding online learning, mental health, and anything in between. About 30 seniors, 30 juniors and sophomores in total, and 3 freshmen attended the town halls.

Dr. DiPaula explained how the town hall meetings were organized. Hammond Student Government Association (SGA) President Shivani Modi opened up most town hall meetings, with SGA Treasurer Ama Stott opening one of them as well.

“Shivani [and] Ama….spoke about SGA first, and then we had our class presidents speak at each meeting. Then they turned it over to me and I shared a little bit of bullet points like when we’re coming back to school, who is making that decision, what the renovations look like…I told them they could ask me anything and I also mentioned about when athletics were going to start and pushing for other activities to happen. I told them when athletics start, I would like to have some of the other clubs and activities to be able to come together because people want fine arts and music and drama and dance and clubs and activities and robotics and government because not everyone’s an athlete, but that’s what you keep hearing about from the board, and that’s fine, but I told [students] that these are the things that are important to me and I want to make sure that happens for you guys.” 

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The Biden Administration’s Plans For Their First 100 Days In Office

By Marissa Yelenik 

Online Editor

Image Source: Los Angeles Times

As Joe Biden rears up for his inauguration on January 20, 2021, he is preparing not only his 100-day plan, but also for his cabinet members. Although many members still need to be approved by the Senate, his picks are already representative of his clear wish to have a more inclusive and diverse team than America’s executive branch has ever seen before:

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COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

A Timeline of Recent News Surrounding Vaccinations

By Melina Guth

News Editor

Image Source: Shutterstock.com

Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic and the spread of the virus. Not only will the COVID-19 vaccination help keep you from getting COVID-19, it will be a safer way to help build protection according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

As of November 24th, there are five large-scale clinical trials in progress or being planned for AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer vaccines. The following is a timeline accommodating some of the latest news surrounding the pandemic and vaccination efforts.

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COVID-friendly Ways to Make the Holidays Fun

By Halimah Kargbo

Features Editor

Navigating the Holidays During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Cedars-Sinai

Image Source: cedars-sinai.org

This year’s holiday season is different from any other. Most of the traditions that many families once enjoyed have to be adjusted due to the pandemic.

Autumn Worthington, a junior at Hammond, expressed this same sentiment, saying “This year the plans aren’t really that grand since we can’t be around large sums of people compared to like before. Before [COVID-19], I’d be going to different families’ houses and spending time with lots of people.”

Now, Hammond students and their families are celebrating the holidays either from home or within their immediate family. 

“I am staying home with my mom watching Christmas movies,” senior Talia Parchment comments. “This is different from recent years because I would be spending time with aunts and cousins as well.”

Staying safe is on everyone’s mind this season, and even more so as cases begin to surge. So, here’s a list of COVID-friendly holiday plans to consider as our winter break approaches:

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In-Depth: The Intersection of Systemic Racism and The Climate Emergency

How climate change connects to racial injustice and contributes to economic inequality, physical and mental illness, and systemic racism.

By Uma Ribeiro and Sarah Meklir

Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor

Image Source: yale.edu

Who does climate change affect the most?

People of color, specifically Black, Latinx, and Native populations, are most affected by the dangers of climate change. The origins of this can be traced back to the horrors of slavery and colonialism. The lasting effects of slavery and the removal and destruction of land from indigenous peoples led to a disruption of ecological and economic systems, and inaugurated a pattern of exploitation whose effects can still be felt today.  

Systemic racism continues to result in economic inequality which adds to the terrible and dangerous effects of climate change. Take, for instance, neighborhoods in East Baltimore City which are concrete-heavy and highly made up of Black populations, little shade exists and these neighborhoods and their residents feel the terror of climate change the most. 

As climate change worsens every day, so do the conditions in these neighborhoods, where there is insufficient access to healthcare, an absence of trees, and an abundance of row houses in which temperatures can get up to eight degrees hotter inside than outside temperatures. As reported by the Howard Center For Investigative Journalism in Code Red,  “People who live in the hottest parts of the city are more likely to be poor, to live shorter lives, and to experience higher rates of violent crime and unemployment.”

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Fine Arts and Performing Arts Students Comment on Online Learning

By Isabel Sinnott

A&E Editor

Image

Since there aren’t in person events, there can’t be dance or theatre performances, and art can’t be displayed in the hallways or shown in exhibits for people to look at. Music classes as well have struggled, as playing in ensembles is not possible in the same way in this virtual world.

Dance has continued to work similarly to in person school in that combinations are still taught during class. However, sophomore Jessica Owens said that, “It’s hard to understand the combinations because some people’s camera’s mirror. We learned a whole dance and I was doing everything opposite; using my right hand when I was supposed to be using my left.”

Instead of being able to learn the combinations in the studio with other dancers, they need to have their cameras on at their homes and learn through Google Meet. This is difficult for a number of reasons; following along with an instructor through a screen for dance is far more difficult than following in person, and not all students may have the space required to move, or the equipment that would be provided in a dance studio that is needed to be able to effectively participate in class.

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Seven Samurai: Movie Review

By Eric Porco

Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Akira Kurosawa

Seven Samurai is a story that takes place in the Sengoku period of japanese history, in a time where a cycle of conflict, formed from various civil wars, left the countryside filled with bandits and lawlessness. The story centers primarily around a small village, who learn that a group of bandits plan to come to the village to pillage their next harvest, the only food and resources the village has left. The villagers, certain of their demise otherwise, decide to attempt to fight back against the bandits. In their attempt for survival, a small group of villagers set out to find Samurai, to teach them how to defend their village. The story of Seven Samurai primarily follows the attempt of the Samurai to train and protect the village, and the final confrontation that ensues. 

Seven Samurai is a great movie that stands the test of time. Despite being released in 1954, Seven Samurai is one of the most compelling movies I have seen in recent years, surprisingly somehow being more memorable than many modern stories I have experienced. Seven Samurai is a trendsetter, pretty much inventing the “Training the peaceful villagers” trope, which I’m sure pretty much every person engaged in modern entertainment has experienced through one story or another. 

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A Look Into The Dangers of Wildfires

By Hammond Green Team Members

Wildfires are unexpected and uncontrolled fires that occur in natural areas such as forests, savannas, and other wildlands. They are most common in rural areas and can spread quickly, destroying homes, killing humans and animals, devastating communities, and burning millions of acres at surprisingly fast rates.

Common on the West Coast, especially in California, wildfires frequently occur between June and September. The amount of land burned by these fires has doubled since the 1990s and is only going to worsen. Climate change is causing the United States to become hotter than ever, and with no drastic change, the rates are only going to increase. 

Several factors lead to the sparking of wildfires. First, heat, fuel, and oxygen are required for any fire to begin. The state of California has an abundance of these factors, leaving them particularly vulnerable to wildfires. Moreover, nearly 85 percent of wildfires are due to human activity. Sometimes, these are the product of discarded cigarettes, unattended campfires, burning debris, power lines falling, or even arson. 

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A Valley on Fire: A Poem

By Mrs. Joan Niland

A Valley on Fire

Every leaf shined,

those that remained,

in the fire and wine. 

Strong and undaunted,

while merciless winds

through valleys haunted.

This time of year

bears such a new world

to smell, see, and hear.

Many, sudden changes,

yet exhilarating crispness

across the mountain ranges.

A sky of blue

offers background

to bare-branched hues. 

Beauty beyond a brush

with so many is lost

for they can’t feel the hush.

–      Joan Niland

Are you an artist, photographer, writer, or someone passionate about creative work along those lines? If so, Green Team would love to feature your work in our articles, such as the poem above written by Mrs. Niland! As long as it relates to the environment, we’ll accept any form of art, including poetry, photography, and paintings! If you’re interested, add your work to this folder on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/15-98brizbnVBte2lWjVmTmCCYiy4VYg1

Die Hard: Movie Review

By Sarah Meklir

Managing Editor

Image Source: Cinema Blend

Regardless of your stance in the debate over Die Hard’s place among holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, and Home Alone, it is widely agreed that Die Hard is one of the strongest action movies of all time. 

Including such classic lines as, “yippee ki-yay mother******,” and, “if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem,” the 1988 hit is widely referenced in pop culture. Somehow, the other notable lines are even less suitable for print, but don’t let that sway you. Use your own judgement when it comes to showing this to the whole family. With intense action and fight scenes, as well as fairly prolific cursing (accompanied by an R rating), you may want to let the little kids sit this one out. 

The movie centers around John McClane (played by Bruce Willis), an officer with the NYPD, who travels to visit his wife (from whom he is currently separated) and his two children in LA for Christmas. In attempting to surprise his wife at an office Christmas party, a group of multinational criminals holds the entire building hostage while trying to steal upwards of $600 million.

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