The Hurricane Nation Online

The Official Student Newspaper of Huntingtown High School

El Nino

February 28th, 2014

By Kirsten Niosi

“Mother Nature may be forgiving this year, or next year, but eventually she’s going to come around and whack you. You’ve got to be prepared.” –Geraldo Rivera

El nino

We have seen all around the world the wonders and the destruction of nature, and it’s safe to say that you can never be completely sure of what is to come next. However, when it comes to the weather, researchers and experts have a way of attempting to predict future weather based on previous patterns. One of the methods used to accomplish this task is through the study of the La Nina and El Nino windstorms. As many of HHS Spanish students know, la niña and el niño are the Spanish words for the young girl/boy, or more traditionally “The Christ Child.” The name of this storm is not coincidently similar to these Spanish words. The name of this phenomenon is credited to a South American fisherman whose reasoning was that the winds begin during Christmas time. But can we credit the crazy cold and snowy winter we are in now to one of them?

Mr. Rigney, HHS science teacher and secret WeatherBug, says that we are currently in the El Nino wind cycle, and it does directly affects us here in Maryland. This is because these winds are associated with the ocean currents. The East and West coast are experiencing the effects of these winds because of their location near either the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. According to NASA, El Nino is scientifically “an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific” and is a crucial part of the Southern Oscillation. The Southern Oscillation is a pattern of changing the surface air pressure between the eastern and western Pacific. All of this means is that when there is high pressure in the east, there is low pressure in the west. When El Nino is taking place, it is often that the nation can experience massive amounts of snow in the winter, and during the summer, floods and hurricanes in one part of the nation while intense droughts in the other.

However, according to NOAA, “…not all El Nino’s are the same nor does the atmosphere always react in the same way from one El Nino to another.” And for this reason, Earth Scientists are still trying to discover the real cause of the winds and take part in international efforts to understand El Nino events. They can only study patterns of previous years and take into consideration what may happen next. Through their research so far, a crucial piece of information has been discovered. This is that the cold La Niña events sometimes follow El Niño events. What does this have to do with Huntingtown? This means that this cold is possibly here to stay for a while longer. Even when the wetter, snowier El Nino winds leave, the blistering old La Nina winds could be on their way. From this, senior, Nathan Bailey, says, “When I was asked if I knew about the winds, I had no idea what I was being asked. But I decided to look some information up and it turns out if these predictions are right, I’m going be buying winter clothes for WAY longer than I want to!”

Record Freeze is Deadly! (Literally)

January 15th, 2014

by Chloe O’Dell

Monday January 7, 2014, all Calvert County students dread the awful fact that school isn’t delayed or cancelled. Some students think that we should’ve had a delay or cancel. Sophomore Ayla Gurbuz comments, “There was no reason to not have school, since everyone assumed we wouldn’t. However, there were people in the beach areas who lost their power, so I think we should’ve had a delay so they could fix the power and have more time to get ready for school.” A junior added, “I definitely think we should’ve had a delay. I lost power because I live in the beach and it was awful to have to wake up and get ready. I used a flashlight to light up my bathroom in order to get ready. Everything was cold in my home, I went to bed with layers on, and I definitely wasn’t happy to go to school. It was even hard to concentrate because I was worried if I was going to have heat when I got home and I was constantly cold.” Taking a look outside in the crisp morning, the ground is frozen solid, any water turned to ice, waiting for the bus and the air seems to burn your skin, and the weather channels say it is 10 degrees outside, but it really feels like -10. The blast of cold weather is, by far, the strangest weather we’ve experienced yet and taking everyone into practical hibernation. Welcome to 2014.

This arctic-cold air is also unbelievably deadly. Since the cold front, there have been a reported nine deaths throughout the area impacted. “This particular cold is far-reaching, and most of our neighbors are experiencing the extreme conditions we are,” said the executive vice president for operations at PJM Interconnection, Michael Kormos. Along the east coast, the lowest temperature reported was in New York Central Park, reaching 4 degrees Fahrenheit and rising to 9 degrees midday; thanks to the cold breeze, the temperature felt much colder. Cleveland school were closed until Wednesday January 9th and remained below freezing to temperatures at -11 degrees Fahrenheit and breaking a 130-year record. Other state records were broken, ending their over-40 year streak.

Many people faced power outages, and even oil refiners were struck. In Oklahoma, the supply of propane faced a terrible shortage, causing the governor to declare a state of emergency and calling neighboring states to help supply them. Homeless people were brought into shelters to stay warm and alive and were given extra blankets and warm food. A Boston shelter, that usually beds 80, had a full 179 people and the place was insanely packed, but thankfully, the people were safe from the weather.

And if you think going outside at 7 degrees Fahrenheit was bad enough, some literally couldn’t survive the weather. At least 9 deaths have been reported and linked to the blizzard-cold weather and snowstorms in the Midwest. This caused a large number of states to undergo cold weather advisory and wind chill warnings, being the worst it’s been in years. Among the deaths were homeless men and women, spending nights outside in the frigid cold air. Another reported were two men in Westerport, Massachusetts, while duck hunting on Tuesday when their boat capsized, dropping them into a near frozen river. The third man was rescued in time.

Luckily, we just need to get through this week. The blizzard air won’t last much longer. According to AccuWeather.com, this awful weather that impacted Southern Canada and 240 million people in the U.S. will soon be gone and the weather will return to average January weather temperatures. And if you’re a summer lover, just keep your head up for summer, while wearing tons of layers.

Scholarships

January 15th, 2014

by Kirsten Niosi

It has been proven that high school students today are under an immense amount of pressure due to the increasing competition for jobs in a worldwide market. However, most high school students experience even more stress when focusing on a much closer goal; getting into college. Colleges can be very selective and very expensive. Even students with high academic and extracurricular success do not always attend college because they cannot afford the tuition, books, and/or meal plan. However, there are opportunities for all types of students to afford college and further expand their education. Scholarships.com claims that even though it is a common belief that college scholarships and grants are only available to the most active and best test scoring students, it is not true. Scholarship searching websites such as scholarships.com and collegeboard.com offer scholarships for students who are “average”.  “Average” meaning those how obtain 70% or higher grades in all there classes and do not perform several activities in or out of school. There are scholarships for essay writing, adult students, minorities, women, business majors, education majors, journalism majors, and so much more. Many students from high schools all over the world are eligible to apply for these grants but have one major problem. They are not aware that these types of scholarships even exist.

At Huntingtown, the guidance counselors and the assistants are very helpful if you are inquiring information about local scholarships. Guidance counselor, Mrs. Gall, said, “There are many available options in financial aid when it comes to applying to colleges. Here we have an abundance of scholarships but I only see a select group of students take advantage of them. If more students were searching and applying for scholarships, more students would receive them.” If a student wanted to receive the exact requirements for specific scholarships, they would merely have to enter the guidance office and turn to the table on their right. This is where the forms are kept for all the scholarships Huntingtown has information on. There are several chances for students of all kinds even in these scholarships alone. The Burger King Scholars Program offers money to any U.S. citizen that is employed with a GPA of 2.5 or greater. Or even scholarships that require more qualifications such as the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship. However, when it comes to scholarships, the most important things are to be aware of the scholarship and applying yourself. College Board’s Scholarship say that they “offer scholarships, other financial aid and internships from more than 2,200 programs, totaling nearly $6 billion.” The opportunities are out there.

Knowing now that there are so many scholarships out there, a question arose. Did Huntingtown adequately prepare and inform students of these scholarships? To find an answer, Senior Taylor Murphy voiced her opinion, “Having spent high school here, I always felt that throughout every grade, guidance was there to help. While it does take a while to make an appointment, if you have a question about anything and everything, they are there to answer it. I had always been aware of the scholarships and websites to discover them.”

Winter Extravaganza

January 15th, 2014

By Hope Louizes

Huntingtown High School is unique from the other four schools in Calvert County for a variety of reasons, one of which being the Winter Extravaganza Concert, performed annually by the performing arts students. In addition to the nightly concert that is put on the week before Winter Break, Huntingtown’s band, orchestra, chorus, and drama departments all join together in a two part performance during the last day of school. This year, the concert took place on 20 December, with the juniors and seniors watching the morning performance and the freshman and sophomore classes attending in the afternoon.

There are many people to thank for this production, but a few most important are the directors of each department involved. Mr. Nauman is in charge of all of the bands at HHS, including the jazz band and our incredibly award-winning marching band. In all of which, every instrument from trombones to trumpets to flutes and drums are collectively coordinated by Mr. Nauman. In the orchestra department, Mrs. Moran conducts her Freshman, Advanced, and Symphony Orchestras in at least eight performances every year, including the State Festival, where the advanced and symphonic orchestras travel to the statewide competition after qualifying at the district level. She also splits her day of instruction between the students at Huntingtown and the students at Northern. The chorus director is Mr. Boyer, a highly qualified performer himself. He also conducts multiple factions, including his award winning chamber choir, the top level singers of Huntingtown High. Last but not least is the theater director, Mr. Anderson. He is the main man in every production Huntingtown puts on, including spring performances of Aida, In the Heights, this year’s upcoming version of Les Miserables, and many more. An anonymous student performer told how fun it the experience was, including how “the overall experience of working with so many people on a common goal helped me meet new friends who like the same things I do.”

The concert itself consisted of individual performances by the chorus, followed by the orchestra, then the band, and finally a short skit by the drama department. Each musical section played a few songs before the skit, which was a comedy that followed the chronicles of a lower class family and the generosity of one policeman at Christmastime. After the individual groups performed, the band, orchestra and chorus all came together to perform three songs, A Vaughan William’s Christmas, We Need A Little Christmas, and a combination of selections from the ever popular holiday movie, How The Grinch Stole Christmas (titled The Grinch Medley). Jenna McGuire, a relative watching the shows commented on “how nice it was to see both the separate and combined performances of the student body.”

The entire school came together in one event this season, including the students who worked hard on stage, the administrators who helped put on the show, and the students in the audience, showing support for the year long work their peers put into what they do, truly capturing the solidarity of the population of Huntingtown High School.

Should Standardized Tests be Standard?

January 15th, 2014

by Lyndsay Larson

            As of recently, the United States has become increasingly concerned at the level of IQ’s that a majority of students have. All the competing countries tend to have students with a higher level of understanding and intelligence. Some people feel that the solution lies in extending the school year to year-long school in which summer vacation will only be six weeks and breaks throughout the year would be extended. Many of the students at Huntingtown High School have strong feelings against year-long school. But the problem remains that kids are not taking in as much information as they need to be.

A different possible solution could be to change the testing method. In Japan, top third country, distributes exams that are one-word answers and the student has to come up with the correct answer all on his or her own.

Multiple choice is the standardized testing used in United States and it is questionable whether it really is an effective way to get students to learn the material.

It is possible that if students had to come up with the answers themselves, they would spend a lot more time studying and reviewing the topics given to them before an exam so that the information stuck into their heads much easier for later use.

Erin McPhillips, an eleventh grader who is currently an AP Biolody student, commented, “I think a better way of testing would be to connect the questions to real life applications so that people would be more thoughtful in responding.”

Another eleventh grader, also an AP Biology student, Rachel Cole, added, “I feel that standardized testing is effective only for specific subjects like Math where there is one answer. But for classes like Language or Theater there should be a different method of testing that allows more fluidity and flexibility for students to answer since questions are so abstract.”

Cole certainly has a point. Some questions are based on a matter of opinion and if it is merely multiple choice, they cannot know for sure what input should be given to answer the question. Testing in this other way would allow students to open their minds a little farther onto another level of thinking and could help them connect concepts together into actual creative and applicable substances.

The one drawback to a more thoughtful process of testing would be the time consumption. Students would have to set aside even more time for study, teachers would have a lot more to grade and everything would essentially create a lot more work for everyone. However, other countries do this and somehow are able to manage. The kids are harder workers and in the grand scheme of things, it is more important to help students learn life lessons and become hard working.

The question remains, would ridding the United States of standardize testing and replacing it with a more complex system improve the learning experience to its students or would it hinder their progress?

Autism in High School

January 15th, 2014

by Connor Kimball

Do you know anyone with autism? Do any of them go to school with you? Are a few your classmates? While people may think that they’d never see an autistic child in a public school setting, this is actually fairly common. Autism is a mental disability that can hinder someone socially, verbally, and sometimes locomotively. However, each person is affected differently, so it can be hard to pinpoint. You may not realize it, but you just might have an autistic classmate.

High School is a very active place, full of opportunity and achievement. It is also a place where social function can be important, whether its having friends or speaking in front of a crowd. This is where autistic children can begin to languish. A common characteristic of autism is the inability to make sense of facial expressions, which leads to miscommunication, and a lack of understanding a person’s intent and emotion. This can lead to classmates taking advantage of an autistic child’s inability to know of their intent. Thus, bullying can occur.

Luckily, there are school programs that help these autistic children, with something known as an IEP (Individual Education Program) which are tailored to fit the child’s needs. I used to have an IEP, which consisted of having a Neo, a kind of typing device, and extended time on important tests. The IEP’s benefits differ per person, and provides from a classroom assistant, to getting some sort of object to mess with to help you cool down.

In Huntingtown High, there are two teachers/staff members that deal with these programs. Mrs. Morton, the Senior Vice Principal, and Ms. Cleary, who has a specific class consisted of these children.  Upon speaking with them both, they agree that one major issue found between autistic children are the social interactions that are so vital to high school life.

As you can see, with a socially impairing disability, high school can be a major hindrance, causing great emotional negativity. The inability to socially function is frustrating, and only leads to more and more problems. The best way to help these students is to befriend them, and listen when they speak. Not all autistic children are to have their hands held all throughout life, though. Some need help while others don’t. I fall a bit into the latter, but this is only because of the help I’m getting.

Its sad that not all schools have a program to aid students with autism or IEPs. In these environments, they are usually sent to a school that is specifically tailored to help those who can’t function within a typical high school environment. Another large problem that can occur is caused by having staff meant to aid these students, but are not made aware of how. This can lead to, for example, putting a child inside a bag to calm him/her down. Or even put into an empty, quiet room and held there against their own will.

As you can imagine, getting children under control using those methods typically ends in a lawsuit, as it can cause traumatic damage to the child. While this may not seem like something that someone would get traumatized over, but for children with Autism or other learning disorders, being stuck into a bag or forced into an empty room without leave can be very, very disturbing.

Thankfully for us, the staff and teachers that deal with these students know exactly how to handle these students and keep them under control. This allows our students to go through their normal classes and clubs without needing assistance from teachers and/or other adults.

Vandalism: Why Does This Happen?

October 29th, 2013

by Lyndsay Larson

            The University of California recently underwent a string of vandalism which seems to have been a targeted hate crime. Late on August 25, 2013, an unknown person had smashed in a series of car windshields, shattered campus windows, and wrote a racial epithet on a chalkboard in Dutton Hall which houses the financial aid, transfers, student judicial affairs, and veteran centers.

            “Broken windows, broken buildings we can fix those. Hurtful speech in our community has a lasting, longer effect,” UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael told KCRA-TV.

Vandalism by definition is an action that involves deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property. This means that people do this on purpose to get their point across, or maybe, no point across at all. Why do people vandalize?

Dr. Jeffery Chase, a licensed clinical psychologist and psychology professor at Radford University in Radford, Virginia noted that most vandalism is committed by juveniles. He says that many times people, especially children and adolescents, will use vandalism as a way to vent any frustration or anger or any other emotion.

Chase stated, “Vandalism is basically anger. It can be a displacement, displacement in the technical sense that is that the vandals wish to do something against a more threatening object or individual, so they vent their anger on something safer.”

Basically, Chase is saying that people can be too afraid to confront the problem with others face to face. Instead of sorting it out with that person or expressing their irritation, they go and damage something that is most definitely not going to disapprove or provoke their opinions.

It can also be a form of socializing in a gang or group. They gather together and spend time goofing off. Goofing off, for them, could essentially be the damage of other property. Owners of the property are understandably irritated and displeased with the destruction of their possessions and often only think that the kids causing the damage are unknown and brutal creeps that only want to harm others.

But that really is not the case at all. A lot of kids, as Dr. Chase stated before, simply have problems in their personal lives and feel that the only way they can get their frustration off their chests is to thrust a problem into someone else’s life. Citizens tend to connect those who do vandalism, to hard-core criminals, but it could be something that is difficult to cope with.

There have been small acts of vandalism here at Huntingtown High School. An interview with Mr. Swope, the safety advocate, revealed that this school has the worst problem in the bathrooms. Often times it will be marker doodles and words written all over the stalls and the walls. Sometimes there will be scratches gouged into the stalls. Other times, the paper towel dispensers will be ripped from the wall or have cracks.

Mr. Swope said that all vandalism does is inconvenience everyone. It inconveniences the people who have to clean up the damages and the students who use the bathroom but can’t when they are shut down for fixing. Swope stated that anyone caught has no choice but has to pay for the damages.

That is not the only form of vandalism. Believe it or not, many people may be doing it without realizing it. When someone drops litter on the ground that is a form of vandalism. A lot of students also like to draw on their friends belongings thinking, “Well, my friend won’t care,” but the truth is, it can be very irritating for them. Their personal belongings now have graffiti due to careless inconsideration.

Kids may be experiencing hardships in their lives but vandalism is not the answer to solving the problem. It is not a good way to spend time with friends either. If one has something troubling, the best things to do is to find someone to discuss and confess what’s wrong. That will always get better results.

Mother Charged With Attempted Murder

October 8th, 2013

By Taylor Murphy

                We can all agree that raising a special needs child is challenging but worth the struggle, because we all want our children to succeed in life no matter what roadblocks they may face. However, this struggle can prove to be too much for some parents. Kalamazoo, MI resident Kelli Stapleton was recently charged with attempted murder for trying to kill both herself and her 14 year-old autistic daughter, Isabelle (better known in her community as Issy). This came as a complete shock not only to locals but to many members of the autism community as well.

According to abcnews.go.com, “The family is well-known in their small community of Elberta, which is near Lake Michigan and about 150 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. Matt Stapleton is the principal and football coach at nearby Frankfort High School, and local news outlets have reported about his and his wife’s challenges in raising Issy.” Kelli also authored a blog titled The Status Woe, in which she frequently recorded her family’s struggles with Issy, who has a severe case of autism. Unfortunately, Issy’s particular type of autism causes her to become violent, and according to nydailynews.com, Issy’s violent outbursts landed her mother in the hospital twice. The site went on to say that the blog postings on The Status Woe “vacillated from despair to hopefulness to just plain fed up.”

Also courtesy of nydailynews.com, “Just hours before the mother allegedly ignited both cooking grills found smoldering inside the family van, she had picked up Issy from a residential care facility where the girl had received nearly two months of intensive therapy for violent outbursts associated with her extreme autism.” It was also said that Issy’s education plans were to drastically change, which devastated both of her parents. Matt was the one who alerted police out of concern for his wife and daughter after he received a disturbing phone message from Kelli, and noticed that she, Issy, and the family van were all missing. Once police found the mother and daughter, they were each taken immediately to the nearest medical facility, and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. Currently Kelli is behind bars without bail and charged with attempted murder, and according to nydailynews.com, Issy is now “walking, talking, and smiling” after recently being taken off life-support.

While there is no excuse for an attempted murder/suicide, many people are on the fence about whether to be upset with Kelli or not. This particular blog entry titled Strong Like Saints. Right? by Jo Ashline (courtesy of mlive.com), is more sympathetic towards Kelli: “”We are told we are strong. That God chose us. That special kids go to special parents. We are commended, complimented, compared to saints. When society isn’t judging us in Target stores, it’s perching us upon dangerously high pedestals against our will, pedestals that prove wobbly on even the best of days. Oh, how we strive to appear intact, even when the threads that hold us together slowly unravel while we do our best to disguise the fraying ends. Many friends and family would be surprised to learn that sometimes, most times, we are hanging on for dear life. And this week, one of us chose to let go.” On the other hand, this excerpt from Karla’s ASD Facebook page entry (also courtesy of mlive.com), represents the harsher critics of Kelli:  “… many parents (and even non-parents) take the stance that the murders are somehow justified due to the lack of services or the pain of taking care of a special needs child. Empathy and compassion is directed to the murderer while the victim is either ignored or blamed for their own death. None of this is okay. These stories are NOT the place or the time to talk about lack of services. We all know there is a lack of services and that is not the root cause of these acts.”

No matter how you may feel about Kelli, Issy’s family asks that we all “continue to keep the focus on Isabelle’s recovery and not necessarily on the events that have brought us to this unfortunate fight for her life.” (Courtesy of nydailynews.com) Whether Kelli can be justified for her actions or not is not for me to say, but I can say that I am grateful that no loss of life occurred, and that Issy appears to be well on the road to recovery.

Protests in Turkey

June 3rd, 2013
By Nolan O’Toole

Turkey’s largest government protest in yea

(Image courtesy of CNN) Police brutality in response to protests in Turkey has caught the attention of numerous human rights groups.

(Image courtesy of CNN) Police brutality in response to protests in Turkey has caught the attention of numerous human rights groups.

rs has been going on for nearly two weeks now. Originally, this massive-scale demonstration was a small sit-in at Istanbul’s main square over the uprooting of trees in Gezi Park for construction on a replica of 19th century Ottoman barracks, which is planned to include a shopping mall. After Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered police to control the protests, thousands came to the support of the demonstrators, who were victims of police brutality. What was at first a peaceful demonstration over the uprooting of trees, quickly turned into a wide-spread rally against the authoritarian rule of Prime Minister Erdogan and the meddling of government in every part of the Turkey peoples’ lives.

End of the Death Penalty

April 23rd, 2013
Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, speaks at a rally for the end of capital punishment (image courtesy of The Washington Post).

Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, speaks at a rally for the end of capital punishment (image courtesy of The Washington Post).

By Nolan O’Toole

Capital punishment is soon to be no more in the state of Maryland. In the very near future, Governor Martin O’Malley will sign the bill that will repeal the death penalty, making it law that no defendant can be given a death sentence. In all likelihood, the five inmates currently on death row will have their sentences changed to life without the possibility of parole when Governor O’Malley signs the bill into law.