Community READ author comes to Van Buren

photo: Kaitlyn Fillhart

On Friday, March 11, author Cristina Henriquez came to Van Buren High School to talk about her novel, The Book of Unknown Americans. Seniors in Advanced Placement English and members of Books n’ Brownies attended the presentation along with students from Van Buren, Corey Rawson, and Arcadia.

Henriquez shared that she did not want to stand at the podium and talk about herself the whole time. After a short introduction about herself, she opened the floor for questions.

Senior Lena Kennedy was one of the students that asked Henriquez a question.

“What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?” Kennedy said.

Henriquez replied that you should write for yourself and don’t worry about your audience.

Senior Jordan Jones questioned why Henriquez chose to kill off an important character.

“I wanted you to feel something,” Henriquez said.

Senior Alexandria Tong asked Henriquez if she has gotten any negative backlash from people who have read the book since the plot involves immigration.

“The book is not about immigration. The point of the book is to tell the story of the immigrant,” Henriquez said.

Henriquez went on to say that when she goes to the movies, she wants to get emotionally attached to the character; the same holds true to the characters in her books. She added that when her mother read the book, she was also upset about the death of the important character.

All of the questions were not focused around her book. There was some light conversation about her family, her favorite book (Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five), and who is her favorite judge on The Voice.

After questions were answered, Henriquez signed student’s books and took pictures with anyone who wanted one.

Remembering Nancy Reagan

On March 6, 2016, former first lady Nancy Reagan (1981-1989) passed away at the age of 94. The cause of her death was reported as congestive heart failure. She will be buried next to her husband and former President of the United States Ronald Reagan, who passed away in 2004 due to pneumonia at the age of 94.

Nancy Reagan’s funeral was held at 11:00 am on Friday, March 11. Current first lady Michelle Obama was in attendance, along with former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter. Former president George W. Bush brought his wife Laura to the ceremony. Diane Sawyer, John Stamos, and Larry King were only few of the well-known names that attended the funeral.

Nancy Reagan was an aspiring actress in New York. In 1946, she starred on Broadway in Lute Song, though it was a minor role. She eventually moved out to Hollywood, where she landed a contract with MGM Studios. She starred in a few films, such as The Doctor and the Girl and Night Into Morning.

Nancy and Ronald Reagan met in the early 1950s, when they were both in the acting business. They were married on March 4, 1952, shortly after they’d first met. 15 years after their marriage, Ronald Reagan became the governor of California. While Ronald was busy governing the state, Nancy Reagan took an interest in visiting different groups of people. She spent time with veterans and the handicapped, as well as the elderly.

When her husband was elected 40th President of the United States in 1981, Nancy continued these visits with different types of people. She also joined the fight against drug use by the younger generations with her “Just Say No” program. She also took time to visit rehabilitation centers and invited people to the White House for a conference that brought worldwide attention to drug and alcohol abuse among youths. Mrs. Reagan was a member of the Girl Scouts throughout her life and earned the title of honorary President of the Girl Scouts while serving as the first lady. Nancy Reagan once said, “I am a big believer that eventually everything comes back to you. You get back what you give out.”

St. Patrick Patron of Ireland

Many of us have heard of St. Patrick. He has a widely celebrated feast day on March 17 that is filled with food, drinking, and fun. In the United States, St. Patrick’s day is often synonymous with celebrating Irish heritage. United States St. Patrick’s Day traditions include drinking, partying, parades and in Chicago, over 40 pounds of green dye is used to make the Chicago River green.

Patrick (who may have had the birth name Maewyn Succat) was born in 387 in Roman Britain to wealthy nobles. His father was a deacon and it is believed he only did this to receive tax incentives since the family was not very religious. When Patrick was 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He was assigned to be a shepherd in Mount Slemish in County Antrim. Patrick was a slave in Ireland for four to six years and during that time, he became very lonely and turned to prayer. When he was nearing the close of his captivity, he had a dream of God telling him to escape to the coast as there was a boat that would take him home to Britain. He returned home at the age of 22 and after a time he had a dream of the people of Ireland begging him to come back to them and preach about his God. He studied long and hard to become a priest and was declared Bishop of the Irish by Pope St. Celestine I, Patrick now had the tools and the will to see his goal through and bring the Irish to Catholicism. Patrick traveled and converted Ireland for 30 years. He founded many churches and monasteries and was able to merge pre-existing Celtic symbols and practices with Catholic ones to ease the transition from paganism to catholicism the most famous of these is the Celtic cross where he merged a celtic symbol with a cross. Patrick also knew the language which made his evangelization much easier. After converting almost the entire island of Ireland to Catholicism, Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, Ireland and was believed to be buried in the town of Downpatrick, County Down.

St. Patrick’s feast day is on March 17 and hedd is the patron saint of Ireland, Australia, Nigeria, Boston, New York, and engineers. Two of the most famous legends associated with St. Patrick are that he drove the snakes out of Ireland (which he probably didn’t as there were no snakes in Ireland prior to he being there).  This tale was probably meant to signify the driving out of evil and paganism from Ireland. The most famous legend is that to help the Irish understand the Holy Trinity he picked up a shamrock, a three leaf clover, and used it to explain that there are three persons in one God; God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. St. Patrick also created a famous prayer St. Patrick’s Breastplate;

Christ with me,Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,Christ in every eye that sees me,Christ in every ear that hears me.

St. Patrick’s feast day in Ireland is a more holy occasion, where it is a Holy Day of Obligation meaning an individual is required to go to Mass. There is now a huge St. Patrick’s day festival in Dublin to promote tourism. Common foods that are eaten of St. Patrick’s day are corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Drinking is also a common past time on St. Patrick’s day.

Today, St. Patrick’s day in the United States is more of a day to reflect on your Irish heritage then the actual saint. All over the United States there are parades, parties and celebrations of all things Irish. Almost 35 million Americans claim they are of Irish descent which is more than 7x the population of Ireland itself! Common St. Patrick’s day traditions at the University of Notre Dame are; Irish food is served and the glee club and bagpipers have concerts and there are numerous parties around campus.

Father Jim Duell of St. Patrick’s Parish in Troy, Ohio shares his favorite traditions, “I think events that highlight Irish culture, song dance and poetry are very good.”

St. Patrick is well loved for many reasons, Fr. Scott Woods of St. Michut ourselves,” Woods said. “I think Saint Patrick is so well-loved because, first of all, he is so intimately connected with the Irish people, and who doesn’t love the Irish?  Seriously though, Patrick is an example of selflessness; he returned to the people who had enslaved him, after all!  He’s a good example for us.

St. Patrick has and will always hold a special place in the hearts of the Irish no matter where they live.

On the brink of Madness

Starting on March 15, the yearly NCAA Men’s basketball March Madness tournament will begin. The tournament is a yearly spectacle that many people will devote all of their free time to watching all the games they can. This year is even more special than any recent tournament due to the fact that there isn’t really a team that is an obvious front runner. With the tournament ready to begin, many are getting their brackets ready.

Last year, the Duke Blue Devils were the champions; giving coach Mike Krzyzewski his fifth national championship. The Blue Devils have been struggling this year to even stay as a ranked team, because they have lost key players due to injury and hard loses in the final seconds of the game. With the team right now struggling to even stay at the top, they are not a favorite to win the tournament.

The favorite this year to win the tournament is Kansas. They are performing well above other teams levels, they’re ranked number one and have a famous basketball program that has won the tournament in situations like this before. With their great line-up of all around great players defiantly helps put them in the driver’s seat going in the tournament.

There are also two Big Ten teams that are given great odds to win the tournament. Indiana and Michigan State are performing exceptionally well this season. Both teams are highly ranked, both being in the top 15. Indiana, ranked 12, is considered an underdog going into the tournament, while Michigan State, ranked 2, is favorite; ranked only behind Kansas. Both teams have a great line-up of seniors that will definitely help them a lot in the tournament.

With less than a week left until the tournament begins, college sports fans are excited to see what will happen this month

High School Musical 4 in the works

Disney has officially announced that a script for a fourth High School Musical movie has been put into the works. The film is likely to debut on Disney Channel within the next year and a half. Some teenage fans are excited for the childhood nostalgia the film will bring about, but many are hesitant that the reboot won’t  hit the mark.

The first “High School Musical” movie made it’s premiere back in 2006. Many well regarded actors such as Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale have the HSM franchise to thank for their career kickstart. The first two films in the series were exclusively made for TV while the third movie was aired on the big screen in theaters across the country.

The fourth film will feature an entirely new cast, fueling the hesitation of HSM fans. Across the internet people are rallying for Zac Efron cameos and remastered versions of classic HSM songs. There is very little information regarding other details of the movie as this announcement is brand new. Fans will just have to wait hopefully to see what Disney has in store.

The 1975 Album Review

Album: I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

Artist: The 1975

Genre: Alternative

Why listen: After almost two years, The 1975 have put out an album that is significantly shorter than the deluxe version of their last self-titled album. Though the title is longer, the album is full of quality music that is potentially pleasing to everyone’s ears. The album has its share of ballads, like The Ballad of Me and My Brain, and upbeat songs, like Love Me and This Must Be My Dream. Some songs, like The Sound, are faster and louder than their older songs, such as Woman or Menswear. Others still consist of the meaningful and heartfelt lyrics, like Nana. There’s even an acoustic song that made it on the album called She Lays Down. The 1975’s sound is influenced by drums and guitar, except for a few of the slower songs. Although some of the slow songs may have a guitar solo or a consistent beat in the background.

Songs to listen to: If I Believe You, Loving Someone, and Somebody Else.

Rating: 5/5

Photo of the week

kez“The Blanchard River Watershed Partnership is holding a rain barrel contest and Findlay High School’s Art Club is participating!” Junior, Austin Sexton explained.

“We are making rain barrels They are going to be auctioned at the competition at the mall.”

But why did the club choose rain barrels?

“Rain barrels collect rainwater and people use them to water their Gardens,” said senior Mackenzie Collins.

There are three categories; agricultural, watershed, and general, and the department decorated barrels for the general and watershed categories. The entries were picked up on Thursday and will be judged over the weekend.

Free Kesha

If you have been on social media at all these past few weeks it would be inevitable to avoid the hashtags of #FreeKesha.

The artist Kesha Rose Sebert, known by stage name Kesha has been going through a legal battle since October 2014 with her record company Sony. Specifically, her producer Dr. Luke, Lukasz Sebastian. Kesha has been pressing sexual assault on Luke for nearly two years now.

Kesha recently released a statement that said her career was manipulated by Luke and was also sexually abused by him. She claims Luke would repeatedly brag about how he likes to get girls drunk to have sex with them. He pressured her into doing illegal substances and then after gave her “sober pills” which were actually a form of gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a date rape drug.

On one occasion, Kesha said she recalled waking up naked and sore in Luke’s bed after taking some of his “sober pills”. She said she had been raped and wanted to go to the Emergency room but Luke threatened to ruin her career and family if she went public with the abuse.

Last year, Kesha went into a rehabilitation center in Illinois for an eating disorder. Which she associated with Luke’s abusive influence and his cruel treatment to her. Allegedly doctors told her being around Luke would be “life threatening” and threatening to her mental health.

However, due to her long term contract with Sony there is no loop hole to get out of the situation and away from Dr. Luke anytime soon. She will resume working with Sony until her lawsuit has come to a conclusion.

Her latest trial was scheduled to be on January 25, 2016 but was postponed due to bad weather and resumed on February 19, 2016. The judge came to the conclusion that Kesha would not be released from her record label contract with Sony. Her contract with Sony ruled that she must release 3 more albums with Luke, however the judge granted her the right to work with other producers besides Luke.

It is still unsure if Kesha will release any more albums or music soon, considering her last production was her single Timber in 2013

Fans everywhere are outraged by the verdict. There have been countless tweets since the hearing talking about how morally wrong it is to force someone to work with somone who abused them both mentally and sexually. To show their support they have started the hashtag Free Kesha. Celebrities and fans everywhere have been showing their support.

New Musical Hits the Stage

Millions of people in the United States see musical productions every year, either off or on Broadway. Starting at the end of March, there will be a new show for people to enjoy. Based off of the 2007 movie “Waitress,” the musical is already looking like a hit.

The musical first premiered in Cambridge, Massachusetts in August of 2015. The Broadway show will feature a different cast, with the lead being Jessie Mueller, who is best known for her role in Carousel as Carrie Pipperidge.

One reason for the musical’s premature popularity is pop singer Sara Bareilles’ involvement. Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics for the musical, and released an album of herself singing the production’s songs this past November. The album did very well, and even landed a spot at number 10 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Chart.

The musical’s story revolves around Jenna, a waitress in a southern town who is trapped in a loveless marriage. Not far into the story, she finds out she is pregnant and she falls in love with her doctor. The rest of the plot revolves around both of her love affairs and how she handles accepting the reality of having a child.

The album’s first single, “She Used to be Mine,” received praise from multiple sources, including Entertainment Weekly, who called the song “delicate, nostalgic, and wonderfully theatrical.”

The musical is packed full of other potential Broadway hits, including songs like the upbeat and comical “When He Sees Me” and the clever “I Didn’t Plan It.”

It is a great idea to pick up Sara Bareilles’ album of songs from Waitress if you don’t want to wait until March or April to experience a great new musical like this one.

Travel to Paradise

As spring break is approaching and people are planning vacations for spring and summer, it might be hard to decide where to travel. Some places are more fun and interesting, like theme parks, while other places are more relaxing, like a small beach. When deciding where to go, here are a few places that might catch your eyes..

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake – between Polson and Kalispell, Montana
Flathead Lake in Montana is 200 square miles of crystal clear water along with 185 miles of beach along it. The lake is used for swimming, boating, waterskiing, fishing, and relaxing on top of the clear water. While at Flathead Lake, you will always be able to see the wildlife around you.

Oahu, Hawaii
Although the flight(s) may be long, once you get there you will realize it was worth the wait. The weather in the summer is very warm, but you have the option of playing in the ocean all day, which will definitely keep you cool. A popular attraction in Hawaii is the Pearl Harbor Memorial, where you can take a boat out to the actual memorial in the water. Other options for activities include taking surfing lessons, shopping, playing/watching beach volleyball, or snorkeling at the beautiful Hanuman Bay.
In Oahu, the weather was very hot, but it rained for a short amount of time each day, which cooled the air a little bit. Walking to dinner at night was very nice, the weather wasn’t as hot as it had been earlier. A restaurant I went to a few times was Jimmy Buffet’s, which was a few blocks from my hotel. The decorations there are really nice and the food was very good. My favorite thing to do was either sit by the beach or go sightseeing, especially seeing Hanuman Bay.


Siesta Key, Florida
A place just as relaxing to go with a shorter flight than Hawaii is Siesta Key in Florida, one of the top ranked beaches in the United States. There are many other things to do besides sit by the beach all day. You can go to a spa for the day, go out to eat for any meal, go hiking or biking, or go shopping. If you aren’t afraid of heights and want to try something new, you can even go parasailing. On Sunday evenings at Siesta Key Public Beach, as the sun is setting, you can join others on the beach and listen to the Siesta Key Drum Circle. It starts a little bit before the sun starts to set and goes on for hours after the sun is no longer in sight.
While in Siesta Key, I really enjoyed laying on the beach every day and sometimes getting in the ocean. The water was cool but it felt good after sitting out in the heat. I also played a few games of beach volleyball and that was very fun.

New York, New York
New York is a big city, which means big crowds of people. Times Square and the Empire State Building are mostly always crowded. There are other things to do around NYC besides hang around the crowded areas, like take a walk in Central Park, go see a play, or take carriage rides around the city. Pizza is New York’s specialty, it’s so good that you’ll want to eat it for every meal. If you don’t like pizza, though, there are many restaurants to sit down at, big and small. After you eat, you should visit Carlo’s Bakery. It isn’t the actual bakery from The Cake Boss show, but they still serve delicious cupcakes and cookies. The best time to be out is at night, at the Empire State Building, and especially in Times Square. The lights make it seem like it’s still daytime outside, plus there are many different stores to visit, like the M&M or Hershey’s store.
While there, it was very crowded and a lot of people were rushing around, bumping into other people. I was everywhere because traffic was so crazy it was probably faster to walk. Some areas smelled bad, but others were nice and calm, like Central Park. I also saw a lot of dogs while there, so that is definitely a plus. All the food I had was delicious and I think I worked it all off while I was walking. The only bad things were the smells and the crowds, especially at the top of the Empire State Building because everyone was so close together.