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Virtual Town Hall Takeaways: A Conversation with Dr. DiPaula

By Uma Ribeiro


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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COVID-friendly Ways to Make the Holidays Fun

By Halimah Kargbo

Features Editor

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

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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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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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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

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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


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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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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Alien: Movie Review

Alien’s Influence on the World of Science Fiction and Horror

By Marissa Yelenik

Online Editor

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The 40th anniversary of Alien, a movie directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver, came up on May 25th of 2019. This prompted a theater re-release in October of 2019, and an announcement from Disney revealing an upcoming TV show for the popular film series. 

The movie was hugely influential to the world of space horror and sci-fi movies with its terror-inducing alien, strong female lead, tense atmosphere, and the iconic scene of the chest-bursting alien. At the time, many aspects of the movie were new, causing the audience to shake in fear and listen to every chord played, attempting to hear beyond the movie itself to know when the Alien would strike. 

The monumental success, innovative ideas, and new atmosphere of this movie made it extremely influential, and the 2019 running dates of October 13th, 15th, and 16th as well as the potential TV show became an even bigger deal than before.

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Gremlins: Movie Review

A Mischievous— But Cuddly Christmas Story

By Melina Guth

News Editor

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Gremlins, a film directed by Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus is a story about the mysterious mogwai and the destruction of a small town on Christmas Eve. During its release in 1984, the film made around $212.9 million at the box office. Nowadays, you’ll be able to watch Gremlins via rental or with a subscription to Prime Video, Sling TV, fuboTV, etc. You can also find Gremlins available online at Youtube or Google Play for a small fee.

We start off in Chinatown, where Randall Peltzer is looking for a very special Christmas gift to give to his son, Billy. I enjoyed the culture of this segment, where the viewer can enjoy not only the beautiful area of the city at night, but also the nostalgic look of everything in the 80s.

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Winter Athletics To Begin in January

An Update on HCPSS Sports During the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Leah Russell

Sports Editor

Image Source: The Baltimore Sun

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown all sports seasons for a loop with the out of the box solution the NBA created for their finals in a complete bubble, and the consistent testing required for NFL teams and teams in college sports to be able to continue playing games amidst the pandemic. High school sports provide a little more of a challenge logistically, which is why there have already been multiple postponements to the start of in-person sports here at Hammond High School.

“Colleges and professional teams have a lot of money and resources that high schools just do not have,” Mr. Lerner, Hammond’s Athletic Director, discusses the obstacles that Hammond faces in starting sports, compared to some of the other leagues that are well into playing, “If you look at the NBA, they were able to have a successful season because they played in a ‘bubble’ without fans and players sequestered in hotels.  In colleges, athletes can be sequestered on campus which could minimize exposure, which we do not have the ability to do at the high school level.”

Having any sort of in-person season would allow the Hammond community as a whole to have something to participate in and look forward to for students and all other community members. Mr. Lerner shares his thoughts on the virtual season, “The major benefit to a virtual season is just to have a bit of socialization and normalcy.  In addition to socialization, coaches had the opportunity to bring in guest speakers, go over some strategies, provide workouts to athletes, and just be there for them.”

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