All it’s cracked up to be

Breathing heavily, she counts her steps across the stage, dancing gracefully in her pointe shoes. Hours in, with feet sore from blisters, a racing heartbeat and a face full of exhaustion, she prepares for the role of a lifetime, a role she has trained and worked hard for, a role that puts her center stage. 

Sophomore Helen Clark Hays practiced night after night since receiving the role of Clara in the annual Nutcracker ballet show. Her hard work culminated into four performances Dec. 6-8. 

“I [played] Clara in the Nutcracker, which is a story about her dreams,” Hays said. “She gets a nutcracker for Christmas, and in her dream he comes to life and takes her to the land of sweets. The whole story is about her time in the land of sweets.”

Playing the lead has had many ups and downs for Hays because of the hours of practice and travel.

“It’s been really tiring,” Hays said. “I’ve had to practice with everybody, so I’ve been traveling back and forth from Atlanta, Ashdown and then back to Texarkana to practice with different groups. But it all paid off.”

The role was rewarding because it not only allowed Hays to prove herself as a dancer, but it also allowed her to hone her leadership skills and mentor young dancers. 

“When I would go downstairs to check on my sister and all the dressing rooms, all these little girls would surround me and asked for my autograph and hug me and take pictures or selfies and it was just so sweet,” Hays said. “It was so fun because all these little girls look up to me, and when I’d be standing backstage waiting to go on, they’d all be over there talking to me being like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m right beside Clara!’ I just felt like a celebrity and it was fun being a role model for them.” 

Alongside the weeks of practice, Hays had to juggle Highstepper practice and schoolwork, finding herself pulled in many different directions.

“Every Sunday I would travel to Ashdown for three hours to practice with the people in the big party scene. Monday and Tuesday I had my regular ballet classes, and then I would have practice with the peppermints,” Hays said. “Then I would drive to Atlanta for four hours and then back to Texarkana for more scenes, on top of schoolwork and my highstepper practices.”

A role like this is not an easy feat, but Hays has spent a large amount of her life dedicated to dance, perfecting her skills for this moment. 

“I’ve been dancing for 13 years and this will be my eighth year in the Nutcracker, but my first year playing Clara,” Hays said. “But it’s all been worth it and [it was] so much fun getting to play Clara.”

The dedication paid off in the end when Helen received news that she landed the famed role. It was more than just getting to play Clara for her, it also meant adding to a family tradition between her and her mom.  

“This is like a really big deal for me,” Hays said. “I’ve always wanted to be Clara. Every year after the last show, my mom gives me a nutcracker. This year she gave it to me early as it’s going to be the nutcracker I’m dancing with for the actual show which was really special to me.”

Her nutcracker reception was almost compromised, however, when her father suffered a stroke a month after she auditioned for the role. 

“Well I wasn’t expecting [to receive the nutcracker early]. My dad had a stroke about a month after auditions,” Hays said. “So, life was a little crazy when we found out I was Clara, and Clara always puts on the big after party for the whole cast, so [my mom] had all of her friends over at our house and they were trying to plan the party because they wanted to get it all ready to go before Nutcracker week started.”

Despite the extra stress added to an already stressful week, Hays’ mom did not disappoint. 

“And I had just come home from practice in Ashdown on Sunday, and all of her friends were meeting us at our house, and I was going to go back and do some homework,” Hays said. “She called me into the living room and they were all sitting there and she said ‘I have something for you,’ and she gave me this box, and I knew what it was because it was the shape of all my other nutcracker boxes.”

Hays felt the pressure of the past two months build up in the last few days before the show, finally releasing when her mother gave her the soldier. There were many more cathartic moments after the show though. 

“I opened it, and it was like the nutcracker soldier,” Hays said. “[After the show ended] I was in the shower getting all the hairspray out of my hair, and I found snow in my hair from the stage, and I just cried a little bit.”  

But for Hays it’s all been worth it, from the bruised feet and tired body to the hours of rehearsal and travel. It was an unforgettable role that left Hays with the best of memories, although she still has two more years to make more. 

“Well, I know I’ll never be Clara again, because I can only be her one time, but I’ll always remember this year, just because everything was so crazy when it happened,” Hays said. “Life was just so crazy at the time, but it was the best year ever.”

Flying through the PAC

The Tiger Theatre Company is taking on new challenges in this year’s musical “Peter Pan.” In January 2020, Peter will fly through the John Thomas Theatre, Wendy will tell stories and Hook will seek revenge. Technical challenges and a cast of 90 students require intense rehearsals, but they also indicate a memorable show.

“This musical means a lot to me. Not only because it’s my senior show, but it’s also the first musical I’m stage managing which is really exciting,” stage manager Nadia Fryer said. “It’s just a high stakes and really tech heavy show that I’m really excited about.”

The rehearsal process started in November and the cast and crew is looking forward to a few months of intense rehearsals. Since everything in the musical goes with music, putting together acting, blocking and music is challenging.

“Every time I audition, I just get really nervous, especially when it’s a part that I really want. But I just tried my hardest and it really paid off. I’m very excited about the opportunity,” junior Cate Rounds, who’s cast as Peter Pan, said. “I’m going to do a lot of singing and acting up in the air, that’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The musical “Peter Pan” has had a long history since it first premiered in 1904. Over the last century it has become a high school classic, which is why so many schools have chosen to do this musical. There have also been multiple adaptations, such as the 1991 movie “Hook” or the play “Peter and the Starcatcher.”  Even though there are so many, every version is different in its own way which makes every production exciting. In fact, the director for the Tiger Theatre Company, Lisa Newton, has done “Peter Pan” before and it is still one of her favorites.

“Peter Pan is just a great musical. It has something for everyone, no matter what age you are,” Newton said.

One of the most unique aspects about the show is that it will feature a system that allows some of the characters to fly, which is a premiere for our thespians. It will be a challenge, since it has not been done before in Texas High’s theatre, but the technical director and the actors are excited for this unique opportunity.

“Nobody here is trained or certified to be flying people and that can be a potentially dangerous thing to do. So that is why we are hiring a company called FOY. They have done thousands of productions of Peter Pan all across the country,” technical director Trent Hanna said. “They set up and test their rigging hardware and train a local crew of people how to it.”                                             

Senior Addison Cross has a special connection with this musical since “Peter Pan” was a big part of her childhood. This will also be her last musical at the Tiger Theatre Company which is emotional for her after being involved in theatre for several years.

“For my fourth birthday party I dressed up as Wendy. As a kid I had this blue night gown that I would wear all the time, pretending like I was Wendy Darling just because I loved her so much,” Cross said. “So to be able to actually play her in real life is so surreal. And especially that it’s my last musical makes it so much more special.”

It is going to be a big production with a cast of almost 100 people and the first time having a fly system in the Sullivan Performing Arts Center. The cast and crew are looking forward to a total of three shows and opening night on January 24, 2020.

 “The reason people should come to see [the musical] is to see people flying in Texarkana, which is hardly ever done here and certainly not in a high school production,” Hanna said.

What are you really eating?

As soon as you get home from school, you go to the kitchen and grab a box of cereal to make an afternoon snack, but what are you really eating? Insect fragments, maggots, rodent hair and possibly fecal matter. Many people are unaware of what accidently gets mixed in with our food in the factories, such as bugs.

The average human consumes more insects than they would want to believe. According to Reader’s Digest, people usually eat about two pounds total of different insect fragments each year which is considered normal. Consuming these critters have no harmful effects on the human body.

The limit to what’s actually in our food tends to have quite a wide range of options. Some of the critters you may be consuming consist of flies, maggots, cockroaches, mites or mealworms. Sick to your stomach yet? Well, that’s not the end to the list of repulsive add-ins that are within our food. The rodent hair and rodents’ feces is what ices the cake. The FDA makes sure to keep a close watch on what exactly is put into our food and the quantity or else certain foods would be banned from the local grocery stores.

“Coming from a production standpoint, and knowing how the food industry works this isn’t surprising because when you have a large manufacturing company that produces box goods and processed food, you’re going to have [bug fragments in your food],” Culinary Arts teacher Cory House said. “There’s no way that you can control every microscopic thing that goes into food.”

Everything you buy that is deemed edible has some degree of insect parts or fecal matter inside of it, as claimed by Reader’s Digest. For instance, peanut butter can have over 120 insect fragments before it is classified as contaminated or corrupted, even if the placement of the bugs is accidental. 

Chocolate, on the other hand, tends to contain more insect fragments than many other sweets on the market. There are approximately 70 insect pieces found in average sized chocolate bar purchased at your local gas station. If you ate a chocolate bar once a week, that’s about 4,000 bug fragments added to your yearly diet, aside the insects in your other food. Let that sink in for a moment.

Another example would include pastas. Most pasta contains an estimated 225 pieces of insects per 225 grams. So every bite you take, you better be enjoying your bug bits. The reasoning behind the FDA allowing so many insect parts in pastas compared to others is due to the way the insects crawl in there in the first place. The insects that will more than likely be in your pasta are mealworms, maggots and roaches, and they simply get to the pasta through the wheat when it is still within the factories. The bugs have time to set and spread many germs within the food since the wheat sits in the factories for a couple of days.

The list continues on, from coffee beans to raisins to mushrooms. Each thing you consume by mouth has something within it you’d rather not think about eating, even dairy related products. 

As stated by Business Insider, the strawberry and cherry flavored yogurts get their special red color from dye. What they lacked in telling you was that the dye was carmine which is a natural dye that derives from the cochineal bug once it’s crushed up. Have fun digesting that information. Even though the back of the yogurt cup contains the ingredients, it’s highly doubtful you read over “carmine” in the list and realized what it was. 

The vegan community opposed the idea of using these bugs as a natural dye in yogurt. In fact, Yoplait is one of the few yogurt companies that still uses the crushed cochineal bugs but hey, maybe that’s where the flavor comes in. Dannon is also a strong believer in the use of carmine. They use it for many flavors outside the realm of strawberry and cherry such as, boysenberry and raspberry. 

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the carmine dye can cause possible allergic reactions while the plant based dyes don’t have the same effect. Carmine isn’t only within your favorite yogurts, though. You can also find lovely remnants of this bug in candies, ice cream and even cosmetics. 

“When you have food that’s being processed, there are going to be things that end up in it that you won’t know about,” House said. “And that’s why companies [sometimes] have to end up recalling goods because metal fragments from machinery malfunctioning gets into the food, plastic gets in it, and so insect fragments are just the nature of the business, which is horrible because you expect the food you buy to be 100% pure, but that’s definitely not the case.”

Although the bugs in our food may sound like a huge ordeal for certain people, Chef House seems to disagree on certain complaints. 

“It’s crazy to think the FDA can’t shut down a chicken plant for testing positive in certain bacterial strains, but if they found roaches they could,” House said. “So I feel like there are safeguards to protect us from bug fragments, but there’s things that are a bigger concern than bug fragments.”

Holly jolly season creeping closer

Christmas is a holiday that is loved and adored by most people, but in recent years, Christmas has found its way into other months, obliterating other holidays and their meanings. Seeing stores and television promote the winter holiday earlier and earlier each year has made other holidays seem like a second thought to people.

First, Christmas crept its way into November. People have seen that Christmas has already taken over Thanksgiving. Shoppers shovel food into their mouths as fast as possible to rush into the stores for Black Friday. Getting the best deal as possible on everyone’s gifts has ruined the holiday meant for people to come together and say what they are most thankful for over the years. This sacred holiday has been tarnished by the winter rush.

Now, Christmas is trying to take over October. The dear and beloved spooky season is under attack by the stressful and over commercialized holiday. October has put up a good fight, but it might be losing the battle. The scares and sharing of candy is in the process of being killed and forgotten by holiday commercials over Christmas. The seemingly innocent and happy celebration has a cold and devilish plan in mind.

In addition, people don’t seem to care about the other holidays being overrun by the holly jolly dictator. People joke and laugh wishing that it was Christmas year round, but that might not be a joke anymore. People stress and worry themselves into the ground around this holiday season, trying to make everything perfect for others and never worrying about the fate of themselves. 

Christmas has lost its meaning. It was once about doing good deeds, coming together and enjoying the happy atmosphere, but is now a selfish, commercialized and greedy season. It’s never about how the family finally gets together, but rather about who has the most presents from Old Saint Nick. Trying to push this hatefulness and stress onto people earlier than needed should be a sin.

Though, it’s not just the holiday’s fault, its people’s fault too. Industries, stores and entertainment push Christmas onto people, shoving it down their throats and choking them with holiday joy. The more Christmas there is, the more money people can make. This trick might not work on some people, but there are those who have become accustomed to the fact that Christmas advertisements come up early. 

We must make it so that Christmas is finally pushed back into its designated month of the year. There is a time for everything and Christmas can’t take that time away from the other holidays that need their own time in the spotlight. People need to recognize they are taking joy away from others instead of spreading it. Leave Christmas where it is and don’t try to use it to dominate other months for selfish reasons.

Last time, best time

Blood, sweat, tears, tears and more tears. Marching season is over, and with the playoffs over, under and upperclassmen cherish their last moments in the stands and on the field.

October 26 marks the day that the band lost their chances of making it to state this season. After placing 14th in the preliminary round of the competition, the band was sent back home. UIL Marching Competition for division AAAAA bands takes place every other year, so the band’s next state year won’t be until 2021. Shocked and defeated, the band went home thinking about what they were leaving behind and what was next to come.

“I’m very sad because I love marching, marching was a big part of the beginning of the school year, and now that it’s ending it’s really sad,” freshman Kaitlyn Colburn said. “I liked band a lot because it just brought a bunch of people together like a family.”

Many band members share this sentiment. A common phrase the band heard from the head director Arnie Lawson was “Band means together!” This notion gave the band a feeling of unity, one that many are sad to see go as they move forward into concert season.

“For some reason [concert season] just kinda feels like band has already ended. I feel like marching season ending is like the end of band completely, and like concert season doesn’t really count,” senior Skylar Allen said. 

The field was a place that presented many challenges over the year. With the heat at the beginning of the season came sweat and struggles, then the bone-chilling cold that crept in October. Nonetheless, the band pushed through to the other side of the practice and became closer to one another.

“At the beginning of the year, it was tough. There were a lot of people who just didn’t feel like they were really going at it as much,” Allen said. “But whenever we got to the end, we really started pushing harder, and it started to improve really fast.”

Despite all their work, they were unable to succeed at area. It came as a shock to much of the band, and many were frustrated with all their hard work only leading them to 14th place.

“It was a little tragic thinking we’d put so much effort doing the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. practices during summer band and doing so much more for marching, and I put everything I had into that show,” Allen said. “So whenever [Lawson] told us we got 14th, which was lower than [the previous state year], it was really disappointing.”

However, even through the struggles of the field and loss, the band never failed to march on and put on a show.

“I loved marching for halftime because for everyone it seemed like whenever we marching we either were really excited or really didn’t wanna do it, but we had to,” Colburn said. “It was just so fun and to know that it’s ending and the way we were in the stands supporting the football team is over [is sad].”

This year meant many different things to the band. There were triumphs, trials, and defeats. This year could be seen as a stepping stone to something greater, or just a flop to some, but nonetheless, the band remains together and proud.

“Even though we didn’t get to state, we tried our hardest and we showed that we were Texas High and Texas High can do things you wouldn’t expect,” Colburn said.

Shop with a Cop and Firefighter

Firefighters turn around the block, sounding their sirens. Kids can’t keep from smiling as they anticipate the morning that lies before them. On Dec. 3, Shop with a Cop and Firefighter was held at Target where police officers and firefighters united with children from ages 4-14 in the community to make their Christmas wishes come true. 

“It just gives us an opportunity to help with kids that may not have as good of a Christmas, and it’s a lot of fun for us too,” Nash fire chief Stephen Rogers said. “We get as much out of it as they do. We look forward to it every year, it’s something that I have done personally for as long as they’ve been doing it. It’s the season of giving anyway, so it’s nice to see that [the kids] get it too.”

Shop with a cop is an annual event that allows children that may lack access to Christmas presents to shop with police officers and firefighters at Target. They work directly with CPS for this event, where children are either recommended for Shop with a Cop or are children that CPS has previously worked with.

“It’s an amazing experience watching these kids and watching the police and fire department interact with these guys. I got to shop with Ethan, and he absolutely loves Pokemons. We got several things Pokemon, a few cars and a Nerf gun. His little brother ended up with jackets, scarves and gloves, so I think they did well,” Texarkana sports manager Ross Cowling said.

It’s awesome to think that we were able to meet some of his needs and let him know there’s others that care about him as well.”

— Ross Cowling


In the past, the children were given a budget of $120, but this year, they were given a $150 budget. Target will also be providing them with a 20 percent coupon, so technically, the kids can spend up to $180. The children are assigned to an officer and will be able to leave Target with anything inside of their price range. Also, the amount of kids participating has grown this year from 100 kids to 113. 

“The main goal of this event is to make Christmas an opportunity for some of these kids that might not otherwise have that. We were able to increase the number of kids and amount the child has to spend this year,” Public Information Officer Shawn Vaughn said. “There’s heart behind all of this. The volunteers come out here to make everything work and we raise money, which is obviously a big part of it, but having one-on-one interactions with the kids is the heart and soul of this whole endeavor.” 

Different organizations came together throughout the year in order to raise money to make this event possible. From donations and fundraisers to small concerts held at Scottie’s Grill, Shop with a Cop wouldn’t be possible without the help of the community. 

“Target provides funds, gift bags and different things like that for the children. Anytime you get to help someone that may not be able to help themselves at that particular time makes you feel really great,” Executive of Human Resources Robert Johnson said. “These kids are probably not always in favorable situations so seeing smiles on their faces and the gleam in their eyes when they look at the toys is amazing.”


More than a stubbed toe

Freshman Jlijah Wright was racing through his house when he rammed his toe into a pipe in the ground. What started as a stubbed toe, however, soon became a trip to the emergency room and more pain than he originally thought.

Why did you have to cut your toe off?
I had a blood clot and it got an infection, but the whole thing is not cut off, just half of it. It doesn’t hurt that bad. 

How did you get the blood clot?
I was running through my house and there was a pipe, and I hit it, like very hard. A green part started growing up on my toe. 

Did it hurt?
It really didn’t hurt that bad, it was just stinging. [The doctor] was like “Okay we’re gonna take you to the ER,” so he took me to the ER and I don’t remember anything after that. 

How did you feel when you were told you would have to get your toe amputated?
I didn’t feel too worried because I’d rather [my toe] than my whole leg because they said if the infection got worse they would have to cut half of my leg off, like from my knee down. I don’t remember it because when they did it I was asleep, and I just woke up with a wrap around my foot. 

How has your life changed?
It feels the same because half of it is gone… but they put [part of it] back after they took out the blood clot, and they stitched. So I can still walk perfectly fine, I just have to get used to it hurting. 

How did you stay so calm?
My granny, she had her whole leg cut off and I was like “That’s not nothing compared to what my granny got,” so I really wasn’t worried about it. It’s only going to hurt for a week or two, so I’ll just get over it until the pain starts going away.

Welcomed home

Samuel Hacker didn’t have a choice. Living in an abandoned house in Russia at the age of 4, he fended for himself. He didn’t have money, parents or food, but he did have his 8-year-old sister.

Samuel was too young to understand he was homeless. The only food he was familiar with was the taste of raw potatoes stolen by his sister, along with falling snowflakes that would land on his tongue.

They were soon taken away from their unkempt home and brought to an orphanage with regular meals and access to a warm fireplace that would defrost them after days of playing in the snow. The only thing he lacked was a set of parents who would vow to give him and his sister love— love he had never had before. 

To Samuel’s surprise, a family was interested in him. A husband and wife on a mission trip knew they wanted to return with two new additions to their family. Before he knew it, he and his sister boarded a plane bound for America. 

For once in Samuel’s life, he has a home to call his. When he lies under his warm covers, he often thinks of those cold nights in Russia and is reminded of how lucky he is now.

For once, he can venture to kitchen for a snack that wasn’t stolen and can eat until his stomach is full. He no longer fears hunger with those Russian nights far in his past.

For once, he can associate faces with “mom and dad.” For so long, those people remained a mystery. He wondered where they could’ve gone. Little did he know, his true mother and father would come and find him. 

Samuel now hears the three words he thought he’d never hear in return, I love you. 

Shop till you drop

The day has come: Black Friday. It’s the holiday that best embodies the spirit of giving. So grab your dearest family and friends to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season by brawling with someone over a Dyson that is only an extra 5% off. Here are some tips and tricks to survive the bloodbath that is Black Friday and come out on top.

Know Your Opponents

Everyone’s biggest competitor this year is the infamous Karen. Karen is the one awake and ready at 4:30 a.m. In her purse is a blueprint of the local Walmart supercenter. She has spent the last 364 days preparing for this moment. Her only source of nutrients for the day is pure caffeine, a venti Pike’s Place roast with an extra five shots to be exact. The reasoning behind the unholy amount of caffeine is the energy she will need to keep up with her disobedient children, Jacob and Violet. Their only purpose in life is to make someone else’s miserable. They constantly open packages and place them back on the shelves.

Wear an employee’s uniform

This way, the other employees will see you standing outside and let you in before anyone else. This is a variation of the Trojan horse strategy. Once inside, it’s your time to shine. You are free to roam the stores, as unsuspecting customers sit outside, unaware the products they have been waiting for are being mercilessly thrown into your cart. 

Line your shopping cart with weapons from home

I suggest wooden spoons. Any child can tell you that a wooden spoon is the scariest of all weapons. This will intimidate others and deter them from stealing your items. If that doesn’t ward off the shoppers, try a baseball bat. Most people will be full from their feast the previous day, thus they will not have the energy to run from you. This means that even if they make an escape with your item, they won’t be getting too far. Only as a last ditch effort, a desperate final attempt, should you resort to hand-to-hand combat.

Hit up the bakery

Everyone will be trying to get those discounted Keurig coffee pots, and only a fraction of them will get one. You, on the other hand, will be snagging a sweet deal with some 50-percent-off dinner rolls and coffee cakes. That’s a real winner. 

Don’t back down

If there’s something you want, go for it. Even if a cop is threatening to arrest you for beating that woman who tried to steal your Apple Watch, don’t give in. It’s most likely another shopper pretending to be a cop. 

Bring it home

Assuming your execution is flawless up until this point, you’ve likely closed in on your items of choice and are headed for the checkout. Here, with item(s) in hand, or a cart, you will want to avoid making eye contact with other patrons at all costs. On Black Friday, people resort back to their primitive ways and lose all ability to communicate in a humane manner. They will pounce at any glimmer of weakness or insecurity. 

You have survived. Now it is time for the easiest and most stress-free part of the day, the ride home. In a couple short minutes, you will be back in your home to bask in the glory of the haul you have acquired. I hope you will take into account these helpful tips. Happy shopping!

The holiday break burden

While the last teacher is home and ready to enjoy the holidays, the farthest thing from a student’s mind is the school they just left, but they are still trapped. Many students see the homework they are assigned over school breaks as a reminder that even when they are off campus and in the comfort of their homes, they are never free from the shackles of our school system.

Teachers’ intentions are noble, and their logic is understandable: if students are given extended periods of free time, it should be used productively. This is a fair stance, but quickly delving into research and reasoning regarding the topic provides a simple answer: teachers are thinking about it all wrong. 

To start, homework assigned over break shouldn’t be considered normal homework. It’s not, and the benefits of each are wildly different. It’s insensible to argue against regular homework. The benefits of less than 90 minutes of homework a night are proven by professional research. According to New York University and Duke University, this stable, reasonable amount of work encourages independence and cognition.

But that is only half the issue. A separate, equally reputable set of studies draws a fine line between what is categorized as beneficial homework and what is not. One can look at what distinguishes normal homework from what is assigned over break, and it’s clear homework over seasonal breaks falls into the second category, with its own set of disadvantages and negative side effects. This type of schoolwork actually impedes learning.

The work assigned over break rarely leads to learning, only to stress and time wasted. ”

This is especially true when considering how normal homework and the kind assigned over break are inherently different. The average day to day assignments are directly based off of what students learned in class a few hours ago and carries the assumption that students will have the opportunity for help when they return the next day. Homework assigned over break fails to offer an outlet for assistance when they don’t fully comprehend the material; they don’t have the chance to easily see their teacher the next day. This leaves those who have trouble comprehending certain material feeling helpless when they should be enjoying their break.

Often times, what is assigned itself is completely different because it is intended to be completed over a holiday. The most outstanding example is what is known as “busy work.” When assignments are excessively long or even themed around the holidays, it is no secret they will likely not lead to learning. Some will question if the work is even intended to be effective or it is known by teachers that this work yields little learning for the hours spent. 

There is a popular theory that a lot of what is assigned is done out of animosity by teachers who feel that if they have to grade papers over the break, students deserve some work, too. Whether this is or not, it isn’t enough to justify homework over break.

From this so far, we’ve established that the work assigned over break rarely leads to learning, only to stress and time wasted. 

Also, when students are on break, they travel, experience and bond with their families, so the homework that beckons students away from these opportunities to their secluded desk, are difficult to justify. The stress of these assignments or the hours they take to complete isn’t an opportunity for student growth; to the contrary, it is a hindrance.

Left to their natural devices, students would learn just as much, likely more. With easy access to educational games, informative shows and social circles, living in the 21st century is an educational experience in itself. If there was an abundance of free time during a break, like there should be, there would be a greater opportunity to take advantage of this, to visit shows or museums and engage with their families — not their textbooks. 

However, not all work over break is doomed to be ineffective. The kind of work that is suggested for extended periods of time, casually reading out of interest, is linked to higher achievement. This is one of the few types of work that can coexist with a productive break, not detract from it. In a 2006 ThoughtCo study, reading Harry Potter was linked to higher achievement than other forms of homework. When stories concerning mythical beings and magic powers can teach students more, it’s clear there is no need for structured worksheets to learn.

What’s more frightening than the evidence suggesting this homework isn’t effective, is the argument concerning the stress it causes for teens. With constant assignments looming over them, students rarely feel they are free to enjoy their break. The book bag students wish to forget, once they are released from the confines of the American school system, keeps them unable to escape the stress of school. Whether relaxing on a beach in Florida or surrounding the Christmas tree with family, the fact buzzing in the back of students’ minds is that it will be over soon as they return to their monotonous school routines. The impending cloud of homework only reminds them of this more. 

Teachers should recognize and respond to arguments against homework over break. On a closer level, Texas High teachers and all alike should examine what they are sending home with their students and look closely to see if what they are sending is beneficial. Because as proven, it usually isn’t.

All disgruntled adolescents sent home on a holiday with a fresh packet of questions or demands for book reports would like to see their instructors question their traditional practices and judge for themselves if a time of supposed freedom deserves to be squashed by a textbook.

Knights conquer the Tigers

Storming the field to AC/DC’s Back in Black through a screen of fog, the Tigers made quite the spectacle to jumpstart their second playoff game. This particular song choice was no mistake, but a reference to the return of the Tiger’s famed all black jerseys. However, the electric atmosphere of the crowd was not enough to secure the Tigers a place at Regionals.

The Tigers lost to the Frisco Independence Knights with a final score of 45-30, ending an eventful post-game season.

After receiving the kickoff to start the first quarter, the Tigers were on track to live up to what the eye-catching entrance promised, when after a series of successful drives, Kicker Oscar Hernandez scored a successful field goal.

After the quick success of the offense, the next test fell to the Texas High defense, who maintained the team’s first quarter momentum with a fumble recovery by Jackson Halter. Finding themselves only a few short yards from a touchdown after the recovery, the Tigers took advantage of this with their first touchdown. However, Frisco Independence met the Tigers with their own touchdown, making it clear that both teams intended to make the most of the first quarter.

“[We succeeded in] effort and execution,” Head Coach Gerry Stanford said. “We continue to do what we wanted to do and the kids did a good job executing.” 

Into the second quarter, no team had the opportunity to catch their breath. Both teams kept up strong offensive momentum, kept fans on the edge of their seats, and led referees to chase their tails, yellow flag after yellow flag. As the clock counted down to halftime, Texas secured their lead even further with another touchdown, which ended up being matched by Frisco. What we saw from the Tigers kept consistent with the season they’ve had so far: a powerful start from the offense, but no shortage of penalties to hinder them. 

It the first half, Texas High was not dissuaded by their opponents strong record. The close lead of 17-14 that ended the first half made an underdog victory seem possible. From the beginning of the playoffs, a return to Grim seemed unlikely. Once this game gave the Tigers an opportunity to revisit their home stadium, the Tigers realized going far in the playoffs was actually a possibility.

“This season really showed me the potential that we have. We can go past the first round,” Junior Quarterback Rian Cellars said. “The group of kids that are [graduating] and the ones coming up senior year make me think that we can go further than the second round next year.”

But the first half is only that — a fraction of what the Tigers could expect from the night. But when the underdog unexpectedly comes out of the first half with a lead, it’s easy to say that half the battle, the one for the team’s morale, has already been won. 

“We were feeling pretty good at the end of the first half. We really thought we had it,” Cellers said. “Then we made some mistakes, we had some flags, and that cost us the game.”

When the showmanship of the band and drill team subsided to bring halftime to a close, Frisco Independence found themselves receiving in the third quarter. Independence’s Quarterback Braylon Braxton stood out as a strong player when he made quick work of turning a drive into a touchdown to give Frisco a their first glimpse of the lead they would be fighting for.

An oddity of the third quarter, but no doubt a welcome one to Tiger fans, fate and slippery fingers seemed to work in tandem to turn a punt to Independence into a Tiger recovery. This made it all too easy for a few short drives to lead to a touchdown. This pushed Texas High back into the lead. This time however, the Tigers found themselves with less breathing room than the first half graced them with, maintaining a tight lead of 23 to 21. 

In a show of what their offense is capable of, Frisco Independence again relied on their QB to successfully score. This gave the crowd a glimpse of the strong offense they could expect to see for the rest of the night. And when Independence’s QB scored yet again, many at Grim were left wondering if the promising first half was a fluke, and questioning if the Tigers could ever gain back their previous momentum. After a dismal third quarter for Texas High, leaving them behind 35-23, the Tigers realized they would likely be forced into a game of catch up in the fourth quarter.

And the news only got worse for the Tigers from there. A third consecutive touchdown, pushed Independence into an even stronger lead. This is where Texas High’s team and fans alike experienced their darkest hour.

“I don’t think morale changed, I thought we came out and battled and just had a couple of unfortunate things happen to us,” Stanford said. “Overall, I thought our kids gave a great effort all night long and all season long.”

However this isn’t to say no ground was made during the fourth quarter. The defense remained strong, and Texas High even scored once again. But the Tigers never got back to their previous momentum, and as morale weakened, cracks in the line only got larger, allowing Independence to gain even more ground with a field goal, ending the night’s scoring at 45-30.

In the face of defeats like these, our school’s motto is “Tiger Strong”. The times when this phrase is really tested, really questioned, are times like this game’s fourth quarter. It’s hard to maintain this motto when a touchdown pushes your team off their lead. It’s even harder when an unlikely underdog is pitted against the school ranked 7th in all of Texas. But times like these, is when following this motto really counts. 

On the cold, drizzling Friday night, when touchdown after touchdown left the Tigers in a position worse than ever, Texas High proved their motto right. The crowd still packed the stands, unwilling to give up on their team. Cheer never relented in their chants. The student section was as lively as ever. And as the Texas High Band played the fight song for the last time this season, those Tigers who filled the field to sing along could be content that even when the scoreboard claims they lost, they won by remaining “Tiger Strong” and supporting their team to the end of the season.

After the confetti falls

You’ve been looking forward to this concert forever, and now the pulsing music, blinding strobe lights and searing heat of a thousand dancing bodies creates the perfect cocktail of pure exhilaration. It’s sensory overload in the best way. Adrenaline pushes your feet to keep moving even when you want to collapse, and in the heat of the moment, there is pure bliss. The music you always play through your earbuds is finally live and right in front of you. In a dramatic swell of the final song, confetti explodes above the crowd. 

But what do you do after the confetti falls? According to Urban Dictionary, post concert depression (PCD) is a term commonly used to describe the sense of emptiness felt after seeing your favorite artist perform live. After having the best time of your life, it’s easy to feel like the rest of your life could only go downhill from there. But believe it or not, there are ways to treat PCD.

  1. Preserve your tickets/ memorabiliaOne of the easiest ways to cope with PCD is to memorialize every material item that reminds you of the show. The shirt you wore waiting in line to buy tickets? Now a precious artifact. Your general admission wristband? Don’t even think about throwing that away. And your ticket stubs? They might as well be your firstborn child’s sonogram because you will keep them and frame them and show them off for the rest of you life.
  2. Look back at old photos and videosYou don’t have to mourn the past if you just stay in it! Constantly relive the best moments of your life by rewatching the shaky and low quality versions of those moments on your phone. The audio is probably more of you screaming lyrics than the actual band playing, but that just makes it more authentic.
  3. Harass the band on social mediaBombard the artist you saw live with constant tweets of “I had fun at the show!” Comment on every one of their posts with a paragraph explaining exactly why their concert was the most historically significant event of this century. Yes, they may block you, but in some small way, doesn’t that mean they noticed you?
  4. Write a newspaper story about your post concert depressionNo comment…
  5. Find a support groupUse social media to link up with others who went to the same concert you did; it’s likely they are feeling just as upset and nostalgic as you are, and you can all cry together.
  6. Post about it on your finstaAnnoy the 20 followers you have by posting selfies crying or reposting old concert videos with captions like “Missing my faves right now” and “Take me back to this day!!” They’re sure to enjoy this incessant stream of concert content, and if anyone complains, remember that some people just don’t understand how real and painful Post Concert Depression is.
  7. Buy tickets to another concertNot the cheapest choice, but the most effective by far. There’s no better way to get over PCD than simply going to another concert. Instead of mourning past memories, start a countdown for the next time you’ll get to experience the blinding lights and deafening music, and that epic moment of confetti exploding overhead.

The key to fighting post concert depression is letting go of the past and looking towards the future. You will make other great memories, and there will be other concerts. But keep this story in mind, because once that next concert comes and goes, you’ll need this list for after the confetti falls.