Make America sane again

Frances McDaniel

This coming election will be one of the most influential elections in American history, with the potential to either continue progress started in the Obama administration and further develop America’s good standing on the global platform, or send us reeling backward to far less forgiving times in our history.

Hillary Clinton’s tasteful and impactful presentation as well as her logical, concise explanations of her plans to address the issues of our nation have won her much praise among political analysts and registered democrats alike. Meanwhile, Donald Trump appealed almost exclusively to his supporters. Despite Clinton’s clear advantage in composure and professionalism, many Americans left the debate feeling that neither candidate came out on top.

In a typical debate setting, there are multiple factors that go into deciding who won a debate, the majority of which focus not on the actual information delivered, but on the manner in which it was delivered. However, presidential debates are judged by the voters. The outcome can only be guessed at, even by experts.

The point of a presidential debate is to give our candidates a platform on which to better communicate their policies to an audience that may have previously been undecided or even supporting their opposer. It is one of their final chances to appeal to more voters before election day.

Moderated by Lester Holt, the first presidential debate alternated between professional discussion of American issues and childish squabble over who has messed up worse. Though Holt overcompensated for his republican bias by making his questions to Trump much more accusatory than his questions to Hillary, he did a pretty good job keeping them civil overall. While that is an impossible task, he did his best.

Both candidates had issues with avoiding answering the actual question so much so that oftentimes the viewer wasn’t able to recall the question they were supposed to be answering. Hillary did a slightly better job sticking to the question, yet still veered completely off topic several times. Trump was slightly more blatant in ignoring the questions, at one point answering a question about “healing the racial divide” with “…and when I look at what’s going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what’s going on throughout various parts of our country, whether it’s — I mean, I can just keep naming them all day long — we need law and order in our country” which had little to nothing to do with the question right off the bat. Most of his responses at least loosely related to the topic when he’d first start talking but his speech would corkscrew- some times more rapidly than others- into some other point entirely.

This was also a problem in the most recent debate on October 10. The best example was how, when asked by a concerned citizen about how his policies would protect America’s Muslim population from Islamophobia if he were President, he proceeded to sayWell, you’re right about Islamophobia, and that’s a shame. But one thing we have to do is we have to make sure that, because there is a problem…because you look at Orlando and you look at San Bernardino and you look at the World Trade Center. Go outside. Look at Paris. Look at that horrible — these are radical Islamic terrorists.” Not only did he seem to completely ignore her question, he gave an Islamophobic response to a question about how he’d protect his possible future citizens from Islamophobia.

However, Trump was not the only candidate having difficulty directly addressing the citizens’ perfectly valid concerns- Clinton also often lost focus. At times, both candidates were so rowdy and off-topic that it seemed more like a couple of 8th-graders vying for a position on the student council what with making petty personal attacks and such.

The focus of this second debate was dramatically shifted by the release of the controversial tape of Donald Trump talking with Billy Bush from 2005. According to the Twitter hashtag “cbsreax,” many Americans were watching solely to see how this man could possibly defend himself, and the expectation that he would do so was prevalent.  His apology came off as rushed and insincere, and turned out to be one of the most laughable- and honestly frightening- events of the evening. When asked You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” he responded with Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS.” He immediately dismissed the weight of his words by claiming them to simply be “locker room talk,” but shouldn’t that term be reserved for hormonal teenagers who are clearly just running their mouths as opposed to a (supposedly) mature 59-year-old with multiple sexual assault accusations? Possibly even more comical was his swift shift of blame as he, a man who is not exactly quiet about being an adulterer, accused Clinton of being an enabler. He basically held her accountable for the actions of her husband, as if Mr. Clinton’s adultery dragged her to the same low level of morality as Trump.

With Trump’s slightly more blatant racism than usual in the first presidential debate, the released tape, and Michelle Obama’s tear-jerking speech in New Hampshire endorsing Hillary, it appears that Clinton should have the upperhand in the election. Yet, with Trump’s supporters proving time and time again that they hold him to a standard somewhere slightly below basic human decency, they may as well be on level playing field. At this point it’s up to the electoral college to do its job and prevent the ignorant masses from electing an unfit leader.

OP-ED: Dictionary twitter battle

Blake Vail-Rhodes

The bastardization of the English language is a hot topic among both scholars and language fanatics alike. The internet has popularized its own form of slang and writing style, which seems like a foreign language to anyone unfamiliar with the devolving grammar and poor sentence structure.

Language is not evolving, it’s devolving. Americans already speak a simplified form of english, and it is getting worse every year. The Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2015 was the crying laughing emoji, and unless the american people are suddenly using hieroglyphics as our main form of communication, that seems absolutely ridiculous.

Changing a language to cater to those who misuse it is illogical. If Merriam Webster is now changing definitions, simply because people have been misusing the word, this is truly the end of english as we know it.

Frances McDaniel

As many linguists and anyone under the age of twenty who has tried to communicate with anyone over forty knows, language is a changing, growing organism that evolves depending on its use in day-to-day speech.

Language is made to communicate with other human beings; its sole purpose is to help someone else understand your thoughts and feelings. If language as it was written hundreds of years ago can no longer help other people understand you, what is the point of abiding by its ancient rules?

‘Mad’ has been used in day-to-day speech to mean ‘angry’ for years now. Kindergarteners who are just learning how to share their feelings are taught the word “mad” with a little red angry face even though it is technically improper english.

If we didn’t adjust the rules of language based on how it’s used, we would still be using words like “thine” and “bijoux”. Sorry traditionalists, but change is necessary for progress and the people who speak the language are the ones that choose how it’s used.


Too much Dominion power

Georgia Geen


Dominion protestors in downtown Richmond, VA. Photo by

The James River has had its share
of trials with pollution throughout
its long history; unfortunately,
that story hasn’t concluded.
In April, Dominion Virginia Power
was granted a permit to release
200 million gallons of coal
treatment wastewater into the
James, from a temporary plant
in Fluvanna County. What else
could be expected from a state
that’s second in the nation for
water pollution?
The James River isn’t only a
popular recreation center for
many throughout Richmond and sur-
rounding counties, it’s also home to
a plethora of aquatic species.
Using the river as a dumping
ground for industrial waste is a bla-
tant disregard for the importance
the James River has held in Rich-
mond’s long history and that which
it continues to hold today. Before
the Civil War, Richmond was a
highly-used port city, all thanks to
the James River. The culture of the
city developed around it and this
aspect of the river should be valued.
The state of Virginia needs to
take more extensive steps to pro-
tect the James from industrial pol-
lution. When the deal was being
reached surrounding the permit to
release the wastewater, it was indi-
viduals who stood for higher regu-
lation of the levels of pollutants,
not the state. Instead of worrying
more about the profits of corpora-
tions like Dominion, Virginia needs
to find a balance between the two
Although the settlement doesn’t
restrict the levels of pollutants, it
states that Dominion must take ac-
tion once they reach a certain level.
While this seems like a reasonable
compromise, it still doesn’t change
the fact that removing pollutants
from bodies of water is oftentimes
next to impossible. For instance, af-
ter years of pollution of the Shenan-
doah River in the mid-twentieth
century, fish cannot be eaten from
a 100-mile stretch of the region.
In addition, in a statement from
the Department of Environmental
Quality, Bill Hayden stated that the
bulk of the monitoring will be the
responsibility of Dominion, not the
state. Should a private business re-
ally be trusted to monitor the pol-
lution levels in Virginia’s most im-
portant river, when less treatment
of the water is more profitable?
Members of the James River As-
sociation still feel that the pollut-
ants, including arsenic, lead and
chromium, pose a threat to citizens
in surrounding areas. Regardless
of the impact that this particular
round of pollution might have, it
poses the danger of instigating mo-
tivation from other companies to
do the same. The James River is al-
ready at a high risk of irrecoverable
damage and Dominion’s dumping
of wastewater is a step backwards
for both conservation efforts and
the City of Richmond as a whole.

Where are the pockets?

Mikayla Mason

Some things should be a guar-
anteed right. Don’t worry this
won’t get all political. Instead,
this is something everyone can
agree upon for once, and that
is the right to have practical pockets.
It seems as though men have
the delight of having cavernous
pockets attached to their pants that
provide a space to store whatever
their hearts desire. However, girls
are faced with the disappointment
of minute pockets that serve no real
purpose. Even worse are those awful fake
pockets. Why should pockets-that
have a purpose- be purely decorative?
This causes many girls to resort to
storing their possessions in their
back pockets. This raises
the risk of things plopping out of
their pockets once they take a seat.
Girls have suffered the loss of
countless notes, pens and have
been lead to the inevitable cracking
of their phones from the fall out
of the awful back pocket.
Why are we all not allowed the same
opportunity to house our beloved
items so close to us? Girls
are forced to tote a purse to store
their personal items. However boys
can have all their necessities close
at hand. What has caused this divide?
And why are girls not given the same
pocket rights? All girls want to
do is have the chance to purchase pants
that have equally as big pockets.
What’s worse is that boys’ pockets are
so much larger than girls and the
difference between is bizarre. Does
this correlate directly to the
differing view society has on men
and women? The next thing you know a
guy could pull out a frying pan from
his pocket and ask the nearest woman
to cook for him. Classic man. *shakes head*


Frances McDaniel


Freshman Becca Gill participates in silence on April 15. Photo by Frances McDaniel

This year, hundreds of students
participated in the day of silence
at Patrick Henry High School with
the consent of the administration.
Organized by a senior, this was a
student-run event. Still, participants
were met with resistance from school
board members, the Virginia Christian
Alliance, and many parents.
These people claim that their opposition
comes from a concern that the actions
of these students were disruptive,
and distracted from the learning
environment. They see this silence
as a threat to the teacher’s authority
and feel that it inhibits their ability
to teach, or that the message of
the silence is too political for the school.
There were some that did not participate
who did not have a problem with the
demonstration. Some conservative students
support the demonstration of free speech.
Silence is possibly the single least
disruptive method of passive resistance
possible. As freshman Noah Wright said,
“Don’t teachers want us to stop talking
anyway?” Simply not talking is
so little of a distraction that the
Junior Beta club full of Oak Knoll
eighth graders sponsors a
“No-Talk-Athon” as their primary
fundraiser every year. So why is it
only a problem when the silence is
tied to a less conventional message?
Every year on April 15, members
of the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisex-
ual and Transgender) community,
as well as straight cisgender allies,
choose to remain silent throughout
the day. This silence serves many
purposes and the meaning behind it
depends on whom you ask.
This silence was originally in-
tended to honor the thousands of
gay people that died during the
AIDS crisis in the 1980s, but it has
since evolved to also honor those
we have lost to suicide and hate
killings. For freshman Becca Gill,
an ally to the community and par-
ticipant in the 2016 day of silence,
it serves a deeply personal and very
meaningful purpose.
“I knew someone who was bul-
lied so much for being trans that
they killed themself,” Gill said, “I
stay silent for them. For me, the si-
lence is about forgetting yourself to
focus on honoring and remembering
others, like how we as a school had
a collective moment of silence for
the Lee-Davis crash. We use silence
because it has such a profound im-
For much of today’s LGBT+ youth,
this day is also for spreading aware-
ness of important issues that are
often overlooked, like bullying and
dramatically heightened chances of
developing mental illnesses or mood
disorders. This was popularized by
the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Edu-
cation Network (GLSEN) starting
in 1996 with a clear, concise anti-
bullying message.
The LGBT+ Day of Silence is
observed by many people whether
they have personal ties to the gay
community or not. The students
who choose to participate are fully
aware of their commitment to make
up any work they could not com-
plete without speaking and take
full responsibility for whatever low
grades they receive for classroom
While it’s understandable that
for some individuals, good grades
are the largest, most important
thing in life. However, it’s much
bigger than that.
Sra. Page Stiff, a higher level
Spanish teacher at HHS, says she
wouldn’t mind [students partici-
pating in a day of silence], claim-
ing that even though speaking is a
significant part of her class, she has
nothing against her students’ per-
sonal decisions.
In addition to that, any good stu-
dent who’s ever been sick or been
on a field trip knows that making
up a single day’s worth of work is
not that big of a deal no matter how
challenging the class is. It should
be even easier since one’s inability
to speak does not hinder one’s abil-
ity to do paperwork, which is what
makes up the majority of classwork.
Whether or not a student wants
to speak does not affect other stu-
dents’ decisions or learning envi-
ronment. It’s not about “distracting
from education”, it’s about young
people attempting to better our
world and make our community
safer for all of its people.

The joke’s on you, people of America

Mikayla Mason

April Fool’s day is the day that
the nation comes together and
pranks each other. What an idea-
that unity can be achieved over
laughs and trickery.
This day full of giggles and suc-
cessful tom foolery is the
same day that many are
tricked in to looking sil-
ly or being injured in the
Pranking is a delicate skill
as the pranker needs to be able
know how far is too far. It demands
a constant balance between being
punked in a fun manner and toe-
ing the line between insulting and
funny. However, some do not think
that feelings should be considered.
After all, feelings are for the weak.
Becca Russo knew of friend
who tricked their peers into
thinking that their house
for vacation this summer
was booked on the wrong
date. Panicked ensued and
the pranker let his friends
stew in their despair and
oblivion. Luckily when the
truth came out after the panic his
friends were not upset about it and
thought the joke was hilarious.
In this case the prank was a suc-
cess due to the gullibliness of the
prankers friends and their ability
to laugh off the joke. However some
are not that lucky and it is difficult
to get to this level of expertise.
Being the best punker is some-
thing that many strive for, including
blank. Blank is hopeful every year
to be crowned the best April fool’s
pranker and know that they truly
fooled someone. There is a divide
among prankers about what type of
prank is the best. Some feel that
pranks such as using a whoopee cushion
or making someone scream, things that
are more physical and get the best
reaction qualify as the best
prank. Others feel that more psycho-
logical or mind muddling tricks are
far superior due to the complexity
and intensity that they require.
Others feel frustrated on April
Fool’s day because no one believes
them even when they are being gen-
uine. This leads many to not like the
holiday because they are constantly
reassuring people that they are seri-
ous and struggling to convince peo-
ple. For example, this year while at
a tournament the Hanover baseball team
was subject to the suspicion that accompanies
April 1. “I immediately just thought it was
an April Fool’s joke,” Antonio Balducci said.
Even after this holiday has passed many con-
tinue to prank their friends and family,
often posting the hilarious results on
snap chat, vine or youtube for all to en-
joy. They believe that all deserve
to witness the emembarrassment and that
the victim’s humiliation.
It’s up to you to be the prankee
or the pranker, so you better watch
your back.

Earth Day efforts

Emmi Burke

“Go short-tree it’s your birthday!”
“May the Forest be with you.”
Earth day. Every year, April 22 is
set aside to honor the planet. Disney
produces movies set in far off rainforests
and grassy lands about endangered
animals that little kids love to
come and watch.
People of the world celebrate the
world for one entire day each year.
But it should be celebrated more
often than that. In fact, Earth Day
should be every day.
The Earth is our home. And every
day we take it for granted.
The recycling system has been in
place for over 40 years and yet there
is a large number of people in our
society who still refuse to recycle.
Large landfills cover fields and land
which could be used for farms and in
other productive ways.
Senior Cameron Pace has her
own opinions on how Earth can be
saved. “I never really knew there
was a national Earth Day. I think it is
kind of pointless because we should
care about the earth every day. I recycle
every day but I wish there were
more ways for society as a whole to
save the planet.”