Return of the Hype

Searlait Coffey


The poster above was shown at the Bowtie Cinema in Richmond. Photo by Séarlait Coffey

Ten years have passed since the final
prequel of “Star Wars: Episode III
– Revenge of the Sith” was released.
Thirty years have gone by since the
deaths of Emperor Palpatine and
Darth Vader were accompanied by the
blowing up of the second death star.
Not a single day has gone by since the
first time I saw “Star Wars: Episode
VII – The Force Awakens” and haven’t
thought about how phenomenal it was.
It was released on December 18
and has already shattered box office
records. The film surpassed the old
record holder, “Avatar,” and reached
number one in box office earnings in
America. “The Force Awakens” broke
the $760.5 million record only after
20 days after its initial release. For the
sake of perspective, it took “Avatar”
seven months to achieve its earnings.
Globally, the movie has pulled in over
$1 billion. “Avatar” remains ahead in
that aspect with a grand total of $2.78
billion. Only time will tell if “The
Force Awakens” can surpass “Avatar”
in this category.
Director J.J. Abrams delivered on
all accounts for fans everywhere. The
movie had just the right amount of
tribute to its predecessors. Fatherly
troubles were as present as ever, as
well as the need to restore balance to
an unbalanced galaxy. But what really
made the seventh installment fantastic,
was the new characters introduced
to its vast and complicated universe.
We first meet Poe Dameron (Oscar
Isaac), who is known for being the
best pilot in the resistance. Poe is easy
to like and so is his beloved jacket that
is shared with a few people throughout
the film. Isaac is a rising star in the
movie world after his exceptional performances
in “Inside Llewyn Davis”
and “Ex Machina.”
Next, Finn (John Boyega) who is
formerly known as FN-2187, becomes
a rogue Stormtrooper to free the captured
and dashing Dameron. Finn is
the character who would be a chocolate
lab in real life. Boyega brought
charm, humor and spirit to his character
that will be loved for years to
Last, but certainly not least, was the
heroine, Rey. Rey, Rey, Rey. Oh, Rey.
No one would be able to guess that
this was Daisy Ridley’s first movie
of her career. Rey is the character the
world does not deserve, but the one we
need. An un-objectified, three dimensional
and incredibly likeable female
lead. The more Rey, the better the next
two movies will be.
On to the dastardly villains. Most
formidable is the unnecessarily
masked and emo Kylo Ren (Adam
Driver). Kylo also goes by Ben Solo.
Yes, that does mean he’s Han and
Leia’s son. Kylo’s master goes by a
pretty un-formidable title: Lord Snoke
(Andy Serkis). There are several theories
circling around that claim Snoke
is really Darth Plagus, former master
of Darth Sidious.
There were a few plot holes that
would have been preferably filled
throughout the movie. For one thing,
The First Order has replaced the Galactic
Empire antagonist but there was
zero explanation surrounding their
rise to power. You’d think that after
the first saga of empirical power, that
the rebels fought so hard to destroy,
the Star Wars galaxy would try a little
harder to avoid anything similar from
happening again.
Another issue was Kylo Ren’s apparent
assumption that Darth Vader-his
grandfather and fashion idol-wanted
Kylo to finish what he started. This
doesn’t make any sense on the account
that Vader clearly regretted his actions
by saving Luke from death by sith
lightning. Not to mention the fact that
if Kylo knows so much about Vader he
would’ve heard everything about him
and known that Vader was actually
“good” after all. Nonetheless, Kylo’s
got some severe internal struggles going
on that are expected to be resolved
over the span of the next two movies.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
After so much anticipation for this
movie, it had so much to lose. Thanks
to the brilliance of Abrams and a refreshingly
superb cast, “The Force
Awakens” brought a euphoric state to
nerds like me. Episode VIII comes out
May 26, 2017, may the force be with
all of us who will be thinking of nothing
else till that day arrives.

How to: execut(iv)e gun control

Willie Sadler

A teary-eyed Obama spoke of his
new executive action on gun control
at a press conference on January 4.
This order is meant to make headway
on gun control by bypassing
congress. The goals of this executive
order, as stated by the White House,
are to “Keep guns out of the wrong
hands through background checks,
make our communities safer from
gun violence, increase mental health
treatment and reporting to the background
check system and shape the
future of gun safety technology.”
The executive action does more
than just increase background
checks and their effectiveness and
efficiency. It also makes all firearm
dealers, meaning people who are in
the business of selling firearms, acquire
a license and perform background
checks. This is aimed to put a
stop to the “gun-show loophole” and
internet sales. Under the action, the
FBI will hire over 230 new employees
to help process the background
checks, which will now take place
24/7. Notification to local authorities
on those attempting to illegally
purchase a gun will improve as well.
The executive order has not been
put into law and may not be for a
while. An executive order from 2014
meant to defer the deportation of
illegal immigrants has not yet been
put into law, as it is currently at a
standstill in a legal battle in the Supreme
Court. Even if this gun control
executive order goes through,
all of the current Republican candidates
that have spoken on the issue
said they would reverse the action if
Members of the GOP challenged
the latest executive action. Senator
Charles E. Grassley, the Judiciary
Committee Chairman, said he and
his colleagues are going to review
the executive order and make sure
the Second Amendment is preserved.
House Speaker Paul Ryan brought
up that the current law already requires
people who sell firearms to be
licensed. Then he stated that Obama
was just focusing on law-abiding citizens,
not criminals or terrorists.
“I think that Obama using his executive
action to enforce more gun
control is a terrible idea. I feel that
he should not be circumventing congress,
because that’s what our founding
fathers based our government
on: to make sure there are checks
and balances to keep things in
order. So, by him cir- cumventing
congress he is doing something
that should not be done. Also, I
don’t think that is going to help us
at all because the people that acquire
them don’t acquire them legally,” junior
Johnny Hutson said.
While the right heavily criticized
Obama, there was praise from the
left. In a tweet, Hillary Clinton both
applauded Obama and said the next
president should not remove the
progress. On visits to New Hampshire
and Iowa, she also said she
would further gun control if elected.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut
commented on the action, saying
that more background checks at gun
shows will lower both the number of
illegal guns sold and the number of
criminals that buy guns.
“I think that Obama’s executive
order for background checks on guns
is a good step towards bettering gun
safety and awareness in America,”
sophomore Bella Seip said.
Obama emphasized in his speech
that he understands this is not going
to stop every tragedy, but it is a step
in preventing them. He compared
it to how there are measures taken
to lower traffic accidents. Then he
called upon Congress to act on the
issue and pass new legislation, as he
can only do but so much.
A CNN/ORC poll from December
shows that the country is split on
the issue, with 48 percent for more
gun control and 51 percent opposed.
The poll also shows that support for
how Obama is handling gun policy
has dropped from 46 percent to 35
percent since 2013. Only 56 percent
of Democrats approve of his gun policy,
which is a far lower percentage
than on other issues.

Spanish club teaches tech basics

Peyton Upshaw

On Tuesday, January 12 the
Spanish club took a trip down to
the Verena Senior Living Complex
near Virginia Center Commons.
At 3:30 the club left to visit the
complex and were scheduled to
return around 5 p.m.
The mission was to travel
there and help people of older
generations learn how to use the
equipment or technology that
is accessed so commonly in the
modern world. There were eight
students that went in total and
each of them worked in a one-onone
Spanish teacher Wendy
Wadsworth said that she was
inspired to set up the trip by a
video she saw on YouTube called
“Cyber Seniors.”
Each of the members that
attended were partnered with an
adult in order to solve problems
that they wanted to learn how
to complete. Such problems
that the members had to resolve
could include but are not limited
to accessing email or Facebook.
Others assisted them with
technology such as a Kindle or
According to Sophomore
Haley Nicholson, “It was a really
cool experience because we had
the opportunity to connect two
different generations and actually
provide assistance about things we
knew.” She said “They were really
quick learners and it didn’t take
long at all for them to get the hang
of it.”
Overall the club spent about
two hours at the housing complex
to completely cover any problem
and satisfy all of their curiosity.
Nicholson also stated that they
were “quick learners” and it didn’t
take them long to catch on, but to
be sure each of them wrote down
instructions so that when they
left they would be able to do it by
themselves at a later date.
The Spanish club has also
stated that it planned on visiting
the Verena Senior Center again in
about a month. Overall this was
a great way to ensure the transfer
of knowledge between generations
that they may actually use in the
future, whereas they had not been
able to before.

Athletes of the Month


T.J. Allen

The defending 4A state champion
wrestler is getting off to a
strong start in 2016. T.J. Allen has
been dominant this year, leading
the Hawks in every meet.
The senior has wrestled 118
opponents in his four years at
Hanover High School. He got
win number 100 a few nights ago,
making him one of the most efficient
and commanding wrestlers
in the state. Win number 100 was
impressive, but there will be more
impressive wins in the future as
the Hawk will be wrestling as a
Hokie next year, a longtime goal
of Allen’s.
“When I was like 10 years old
I saw a college match on T.V. and
thought it looked really cool. I
envisioned myself doing that and
set it as my ultimate goal,” T.J.
Allen said.


Rachel Metzker

Most sophomores are not the
leading scorers of their team;
point guard Rachel Metzger is not
one of those. With an average of
14 points per game, she leads the
Hawks in scoring. Her other stats
include five steals per game and
eight rebounds per game.
This is her second year on the
team and she is already a key
player and leader. With her, three
freshman, a few sophomores and
some juniors, the young team has
a successful future ahead of them.
“My goals are to average more
points, individually and as a team.
Another thing the team and I
want is play better each day. For
the post-season, we are taking it
day by day,” Metzger said.

Girl’s basketball showing improvement

Willie Sadler

The girls basketball team didn’t see
much success last season; this season
hasn’t been that different so far. With
a record of 2-12, they haven’t had the
greatest performances this year. This is
changing though, as they improve each
and every game.
Their season did not get off to a great
start, but recently they have been gaining
momentum and picking up some
wins along the way. Their first win
was against a team that they lost to by
20 points earlier in the season, Varina.
This win showed improvement and potential
for what the team can become.
“We finally showed that we can
play tough and aggressive. We pushed
back when we got pushed and made
big shots when we needed them. We
got some important defensive stops as
well. The margin [of victory] probably
would’ve have been bigger had
we closed out the game better. We’re
still learning how to win at the end of
games. These last couple of weeks have
shown us going in the right direction
though,” coach Rohr said.
They certainly have the time to become
a great team, with a core group
of three juniors and the rest underclassmen.
One of these underclassmen, Rachel
Metzger, has shown great ability
to score and the stats show it, as she is
averaging 14 points a game. She is a key
part of the team and the leading scorer.
An important aspect the team is
lacking is experience. Since they lost
five seniors last year, four of which
who were big contributors, they don’t
have the senior leadership they used
to. The absence of senior leadership has
made some of the juniors step up and
lead the team.
“We lost a lot of leadership last year
because the seniors ran the team and
were the leaders. But, I feel like for
the most part the juniors have stepped
up and lead like we need to. Rachel,
a sophomore, stepped up too. This
helped the team along and develop,”
junior Elizabeth Ellen said.
One of the things they need to improve
upon is their shooting. This is
the team’s biggest weakness at the
moment. It is also one of the parts emphasized
at practice, so with time, the
improvement will come. Along with
shooting, the team also focuses on individual
skills, team concepts and their
upcoming game at practice. The team
concepts aspect of practice is important
for them right now, as they transition
to become a team that runs the press.
Their goals for the season are simple,
be better every game, pick up some
more wins and be able to compete in
post-season play. As the regular season
nears its end, they are picking up
momentum at just the right time to
achieve both of these goals. In the coming
seasons, they would like to become
a competitive team throughout the
regular season and into the post-season.

Polk’s destiny to success

Zach Palmer

He was a straight A student, student
journalist of the year and a state champion.
If there was a wall of fame at Hanover,
Danny Polk would certainly be
on it.
“Danny was a student that was able
to teach himself the material. He was a
very confident student and got a 5 on
his AP Statistics exam,” teacher Allison
League said.
At the age of five, Polk, like most
kids from around Hanover, started his
sports quest. Polk, who participated in
baseball, tennis, soccer and swimming
at that age, excelled in pretty much everything.
He continued to participate
in these sports for a few years before
transitioning into a more competitive
outlet in tennis.
Tennis is a sport many would proclaim
to be for the wealthy, which
might make you presume the better
players in Richmond come from the
ritzy end of town. That’s not the case;
at least not in the mind of Polk.
“ I entered the competetive scene so
late because of baseball, but I think my
competiveness made up for it. I could
beat most of my opponents because I
wanted it more,” Polk said.
Growing up in Mechanicsville isn’t
the same as growing up in the Short
Pump or Chesterfield area, where one is
surrounded by an abundance of country
clubs and tennis professionals. Mechanicsville
is home to one small swim
and racquet club, Burkwood. Mechanicville’s
“country club” is where Polk
could be found spending many hours
during the week, practicing.
If one walked into Polk’s room, they
would find his display of trophies; too
many to count. But, there wouldn’t be
any with the words, “participation,” or
“runner up.” That’s not who he is.
“A few of the most cherished items
I have are the trophies I won, because I
did exactly that — I won them. I could
take you through the play-by-play
story that each of them encapsulates.
They’re a symbol of pride,” Polk said.
Most of his trophies come from his
childhood tennis days, when he was
able to dominate most any opponent
he faced. But his most prized item isn’t
a trophy at home on the shelf, or a
plaque on the wall; rather the ring on
his finger he earned his senior year of
high school in 2014.
Polk, in perhaps the biggest match
of his tennis career, ended Salem High
Michael Drougas’ sixty-one match win
streak in dominating fashion, 6-1, 6-2
to claim his first state championship.
“There’s no better feeling than
achieving something that you spend
years working towards,” Polk said.
Today, Polk attends Stevens Institute
of Technology in New Jersey,
where he balances his time between
academics and tennis. Polk plays at the
number two spot on the team and is
ranked twenty-fourth individually in
the North East region.
However, Polk’s love for journalism
hasn’t wavered. He still publishes
his work in the Mechanicsville Local
along with his personal blog, “The
Weekly Sports Report” which you can
find on his twitter page. Polk credits
much of his writing to former HHS and
newspaper teacher, Michael Goodrich
“Mr. GS had a huge influence on my
journalism endeavors. More than anything,
he believed in his students capabilities,”
Polk said.

Hickory Topples Hanover

Jack Proctor


Hanover wrestler Jordan Smith tries to finish off his opponent Photo by Jeff Gregory

On January 2, the HHS wrestling
team hosted the Hawk Duals. The
tournament consisted of a few high
schools from around the state including
Hickory High School, Smithfield
High School and Mountain View
High School. It was a great way for the
Hawks to kick off the new year.
Hanover came into the competition
as the heavy favorite with defending
state champion T.J. Allen. However,
in the first tournament after winter
break, a big letdown was not out of
the question, especially with the other
state champ, Tanner Lacey, gone with
an injury.
“I wasn’t too worried about the
two week break because we had a
good week of practice leading into the
Hawk Duals while everybody else was
on break. I knew that we would be
in decent shape and be ready to go,”
coach Aaron Bradley said.
The week of practice during break
paid off for the Hawks. They came in
focused on the goal that lay ahead.
From the moment the first match
started until the last match ended, Hanover
was locked in and ready to perform.
They saw much success through
the duration of the tournament.
Not surprisingly, T.J. Allen led
the way for the Hawks, defeating every
single one of his opponents. The
highly skilled and experienced senior
pinned four out of his five challengers
and defeated the last one in overtime
to claim the individual title.
Freshman Jordan Smith also contributed
largely to the Hawks’ success.
The talented first year put on a stunning
show, winning four of his five
matches with pins, the other by forfeit.
The humble freshman credits his
dominance to a partner and team that
pushes him in practice.
“I had to work harder than my opponents.
I have a good partner during
practice in Caleb Smither, who pushes
me to be better. There were some good
wrestlers in that tournament and having
a skilled partner during practice
helped me compete at a high level. I
just went out there and did what I
know how to do,” Smith said.
With two wrestlers going undefeated
the Hawks were in an ideal position
to claim victory as a team. It is undeniable
that a freshman showing up and
performing at an advanced level really
enhanced the team’s chances in this
tournament. Smith’s presence was crucial
for the Hawks.
“It was big for us. Jordan Smith
winning all of his matches and getting
pins in all of his matches was big for
the team,” coach Aaron Bradley also
Although the Hawks had two undefeated
wrestlers on the day, it was
Hickory High School who came out
on top. Hanover finished in a close second
with Smithfield High School and
Mountain View High School coming
in at third and fourth.
Despite Hanover not winning as a
team, taking second place and capturing
a couple of individual titles was not
a bad way for the Hawks to begin the
new year.

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