Why the Australian Bushfires Are Actually a Big Deal

By Alexis Cope

An injured koala called Paul being treated at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital (Getty images)

Australia is on fire. 

The blaze that’s big enough to see from space (yes, really–NASA even released pictures) has been burning for weeks, with no sign of stopping now, covering the nation’s entire east coast — specifically New South Wales and Queensland. The fires have so far claimed six lives, destroyed nearly 700 homes, and affected 5.1 million acres of Australian bush. It recently has been moving closer to Sydney, closing the city’s ferries and businesses and covering everything in a heavy blanket of ash and smoke. 

But that’s not all it’s doing. Australia’s native and unique wildlife, along with their habitats, are being burned right along with everything else, and koalas, in particular, are at risk because of their dependency on trees. It’s been estimated that around 2,000 koalas have been killed by the fires, and nearly 75% of their habitat destroyed. And while koalas aren’t technically listed as endangered by the Australian state, their numbers have been hit hard and dwindling for the last century, and this slew of bushfires could be the very thing that knocks down them down at last.

Over the course of 2019 species such as, among many others, the Spix Macaw, the Northern White Rhinoceros, the Golden Toad, and Zanzibar Leopard were recorded as extinct. All of these were indigenous animals, hailing from every corner of the world, from Tanzania to Costa Rica; they all played critical roles in their respective environments and food chains, acting as predators or prey or even both. Now that they’ve been wiped out, their environments have been unhinged, thrown off balance. And there is nothing we can do to bring them back.

If this same thing were to happen with koalas, another indigenous species, we would lose much more than a cute face. We’d lose an extremely important link in Australia’s delicate balance of life, altering the continent forever. Altering it in such a way it might not recover, affecting many other species living there, plants and animals alike. 

So Australia’s bushfires, while an ocean away, are actually a very big deal. There’s more at stake here than just a few trees; there are millions of trees, thousands of animals, whole ecosystems, and now even cities on the line here. 

Our world is burning. From California to the Amazon rainforest, and now Australia, our planet is being destroyed. Whether by the negligence of citizens and national leaders alike or simply because of the recent extreme draughts, it is burning.

Want to help? There’s actually quite a bit you can do. 

To help with current fires, donate money to animal refuges and wildlife hospitals helping to treat and care for the injured animals through their established GoFundMe pages and websites. Port Macquarie Koala Hospital could especially use help; the money they raise will fund koala recovery and rehabilitation. The Rescue Collective is also raising funds and beginning a goods drive to help rescue and care for other affected wildlife. 

Perhaps even more important than donating funds is acting to lower the risk of more wildfires. While it’s true that we can’t control everything that could cause another round of destructive fires, such as weather or climate or even simply other people, playing your part can and always will help. Don’t leave campfires, cigarettes, fireworks, or any kind of lit fire burning outside when you are not supervising it. Make sure you completely extinguish any flame before leaving it. Do not build a large fire when you are around trees, and especially not when you are near brush or dry grasses. 

Simply put, be responsible when using fire. We all love a good night roasting s’mores over a campfire, but we have to remember it is just that. It’s an extremely dangerous thing if not handled carefully. It’s something that, if you neglect to take care of correctly, could send the next forest up in scorching flames. 

Thanksgiving: A One-Sided Story

By Ebenezer Nkunda

What do you know about Thanksgiving?

There are always two sides to a story. However, in regards to Thanksgiving, American citizens are taught a one-sided history. The vast majority of our cultural understanding and history of thanksgiving derived directly from the perspective of white colonialists who landed close to Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620. In this version of the Thanksgiving story, the holiday commemorates the peaceful, friendly meeting of English settlers and the Algonquin tribe; celebrating with three days of feasting and thanksgiving in 1621. The version of the Thanksgiving story that is most commonly told instills an image of heroic, Christian settlers coping with the perils of the New World—and with the assistance of some friendly Natives— discovering a pathway to a new life and community.

 When nearing the time of Thanksgiving, many teachers and institutions focus in on this happy story, resulting in students crafting “Indian headdresses” out of paper and holding Thanksgiving reenactments in their lecture rooms.

Very few teachers understand that construction headdresses and  re-enactments produce a stereotype that Native Americans all wear equivalent regalia. These activities conjointly encourage young students to assume it’s okay to wear culture like they are playing dress-up, making it extremely difficult for them to understand the range and complexity of the culture of Native American tribes. They normalize the mimicry of Native wear, traditions, and culture— never understanding its religious significance.

 Very few teachers inform students of the massacres of Native tribes, such as that of the Pequot that occurred within the years following colonists’ arrival. Our education and culture fails to accept that English settlers robbed Algonquin graves and stole food to simply survive the first couple years on this new continent. There are a number of the explanations why Thanksgiving could be considered a complex holiday and one that every American needs  to approach with larger sensitivity. It’s necessary to understand that for many Native Americans. Thanksgiving could be a day of mourning and protest since it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression that followed. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the murder of Natives, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in the National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples. It is okay to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a holiday that has been a tradition in American culture for years, and to American citizens, is no different than any other celebration; however, just know what you are celebrating, because to our Natives peers it is not just a day. Everyday is a day of remembrance and protest of the lives and land that were taken.

Thanksgiving: Ranked

by Alexis Cope and Jack Morgenstein

Thanksgiving is a holiday unlike any other. It’s the one day a year where families and friends gather around a table, groaning under the weight of a meal that has taken hours upon hours to prepare. A meal filled with everything from marshmellowed potatoes to cranberry sauce that will stretch on into the next week, and then the next. It’s a holiday where anyone and everyone can eat anything and everything, no strings attached, no judgement. 

It’s a foodie’s heaven, and so, naturally, we two poor, humble eaters (me, Alexis, and me, Jack)have offered up our opinions on classic Thanksgiving Cuisine. Welcome the Thanksgiving Food Hall of Fame: 2019 inductees edition. 


Best Vegetable:

Candied Yams

Thanksgiving is the only time of the year where I reach for the vegetables before anything else. Even with such a contested field, one dish stands head above the rest. Candied Yams are my vegetable of choice for the Thanksgiving season. With enough sugar to kill a small cow, these yams are almost more desert than vegetables – and that’s just how I like it.

Worst Vegetable:

Green Bean Casserole

    You know that one person in your life that always butts in and won’t stop talking even though you really REALLY would rather be doing anything else? Green bean casserole is that person at the Thanksgiving table. A staple of thanksgiving since 5 billion BCE, I wish it had died alongside the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Tasting like a mix between sawdust and expired spinach, I urge my fellow author to schedule an appointment with the oral pathologist.

Best Side:

Green Bean Casserole

I absolutely love veggies and honestly almost anything savory. So, of course, the winner of my heart is the one and only green bean casserole. Made with green beans slathered in creamy mushroom sauce, topped with crunchy, crispy onions that add both a flavor and texture undertone, it’s simply delicious, just as it always has been, a fact my fellow food critic hasn’t yet been able to realize. 

Worst Side:

Collard Greens

Among the world of greens there are some winners and losers, and collard greens are definitely a loser. When you fry this cabbage all it gets is slimy, wilted, and just plain sad. You could add bacon or onions or even both, but still, this dish is on my Do Not Touch List.

Best Southern Food:


    Cornbread always hits the palette like a warm bed after a long, cold day. This icon of southern cooking is among good company at Thanksgiving. One of my favorite foods to make, cornbread is quintessential comfort food. Straight out of the oven with a crispy, golden-brown crust, cornbread is as appealing to the eyes as to the mouth. The inside is soft, crumbly and sweet. The perfect palate cleanser between dishes, you’re doing it wrong if you don’t have cornbread at your Thanksgiving meal.

Best Southern Food—Runner Up:


    A close second, buttermilk biscuits are a sure crowd pleaser at Thanksgiving. Puffy, sweet, and delicious, buttermilk biscuits are great year round. There’s no food which quite perfects an inner spongy softness the way biscuits do. Too lazy to bake your own? A quick run to Bojangles and your southern Thanksgiving meal will be well on its way.

Best Meat:


    It would be high treason to declare anything other than turkey the unequivocal best meat of Thanksgiving. It’s been the star of the show for hundreds of years. A uniquely North American bird, Turkey is chicken’s larger, better-tasting cousin. Cooked just right, juicy and soft, turkey with gravy is impossible to turn down just one more helping. Even though it’s majorly responsible for my 10 pound gain at this time of the year, turkey resoundingly wins the category of best meat.

Best Potato Dish: 

Mashed Potatoes 

Potatoes. I love ‘em. From yellow to orange to blue to white they are great, none more than the king of Thanksgiving potatoes: mashed potatoes. Not the instant kind, but the boiled, mashed, creamy, spiced and seasoned kind. They are the heart and soul of the Thanksgiving table, and let’s be real, when you run out of mashed potato leftovers, that’s when Thanksgiving really ends. 

Best Dessert: 

Apple Crisp

While pumpkin pie is the classic Thanksgiving dessert, I’d have to say that a good apple crisp can beat that any day. Apples are a favorite of mine, whether on their own, baked, or made into butter, so this was my obvious winner. And when they’re this warm, sweet, cinnamony, covered with that wonderfully crumbly top, and served with a good scoop of ice cream, who wouldn’t love this awesome dish?

Worst Dessert:

Coke Salad 

I’d never heard of this monstrosity until recently, and oh boy, it really is a monstrosity. There are way more recipes for this dish than I ever thought there’d be, and according to most of the ones I found, to make a classic cherry coke salad you will need: cherry jello, cherries, pineapple, cream cheese, coke, and sometimes pecans. Yeah, I think that list speaks for itself. 


What Holiday?

By Ria Devgon

Many people don’t know that there was a special event that happened on Sunday, October 27. This event called Diwali is celebrated by millions of people all over the world. Diwali or Deepavali is a Hindu festival of lights. This holiday is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Many Hindu’s all over the world come together with the people they love to celebrate this wonderful holiday by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes with lights and candles. 

Many other religions also celebrate this holiday. According to Britannica, “Diwali is also an important festival in Jainism. For the Jain community, the festival commemorates the passing into nirvana of Mahavira, the most recent of the Jain Tirthankaras. The lighting of the lamps is explained as a material substitute for the light of holy knowledge that was extinguished with Mahavira’s passing. Diwali is also an important festival in Jainism. For the Jain community, the festival commemorates the passing into nirvana of Mahavira, the most recent of the Jain Tirthankaras. The lighting of the lamps is explained as a material substitute for the light of holy knowledge that was extinguished with Mahavira’s passing.” 

So what’s the story of Diwali? The story told on this holiday is that there was one a prince named Rama who had a beautiful wife named Sita. There was also a terrible demon named Ravana, who had twenty arms, ten heads, and was feared throughout the land. He wanted to make Sita his wife so one day, he kidnapped her and took her away in his chariot. However, when Sita was kidnapped, she left a trail of her jewelry for Rama to follow. Rama realized that she was gone and went to follow the trail she left along with his brother, Lakshmi. While Rama and Lakshmi followed this trail, they met with the monkey king, Hanuman, who became their friend and agreed to help them find Sita. Messages were sent to all the monkeys in the world, and through them to all the bears, who set out to find Sita. After a very long search, Hanuman found Sita imprisoned on an island. Rama’s army of monkeys and bears couldn’t reach the island, so they began to build a bridge. Soon all the animals of the world, large and small, came to help. When the bridge was built, they rushed across it and fought a mighty battle. When Rama defeated the evil Ravana with a magic arrow, the whole world rejoiced. Rama and Sita began their long journey back to their land, and everybody lit oil lamps to guide them on their way and welcome them back. Ever since, people have been lighting candles to remember that light triumphs over dark and good always defeats evil.

Image result for Rama and Sita

   (Left: Rama, Right: Sita)

On November 3rd, The Hindu Society of North Carolina or the HSNC celebrated this holiday in the temple located in Morrisville, NC by having dancers all over the area come in and give dance performances for the public as well as sell food and ice cream. 

Image result for HSNC temple

They also did fireworks at night to celebrate the wonderful victory of Rama, Lakshmi, and Hanuman. They allowed the public to bring their own fireworks to join them in the celebration. 

Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival that’s also enjoyed by non-Hindu communities. Diwali is a time spent with joy and happiness all over the world. As this Diwali season ends, we always remember the lesson of the story and anticipate for next year. 

शुभ दीवाली or Happy Diwali!

The NC State Fair: Ranked

By Alexis Cope

There is nothing like the North Carolina State Fair. Let’s be honest: that rush when you walk through the little gate and see the ferris wheels twirling high above the tents, when you’re hit by the confusing and jumbled smells of ten different food vendors all at the same time, when you see those colorful, flashing lights, when you watch game winners carrying their enormous stuffed monkey on their shoulders as they walk by; there’s nothing like it. It’s like stepping into this little chaotic and fantastic bubble of a world where everyone and everything is full to bursting with that contagious energy you just can’t find anywhere else.

All’s fair in love and war, as they say. And at this fair, anything goes, especially when it comes to food. Deep fried, baked, stewed, aged, it doesn’t matter, it’s there somewhere. But, what’s the best, and what’s the worst? What wacky and wild things can you find to crunch and munch at this crazy once-a-year-here-for-a-week party?  

When I visited the NC State Fair this past week, I ate as much food as I could hold, looked at more cases of food than I think I ever have, and took so many pictures my phone ran out of space, all with the hope of compiling a list of all the outrageous things that came out of the fair this year. 

So, welcome to the North Carolina Food Hall of Fame: 2019 inductees edition. 


Best Fried Food:

Deep Fried Mac-n-Cheese

Who doesn’t love a good mac-n-cheese? So it’s no surprise that these little morsels won my award for best thing fried; with a golden crunchy outside and cheesy, stringy, warm inside, each bite was delicious. I’m just surprised nobody came up with this idea earlier.

Worst Fried Food:

Deep Fried Pickle

While I didn’t actually eat any of these, I did get a chance to look at one, and it was not a happy sight. Besides, who would do such a thing to a perfectly good pickle?

Best Presentation:

Bloomin’ Onion

Yes, I love onions. Yes, I love onion rings. So yes, I loved the bloomin’ onion. But forgetting about taste, it just looked super fun and exciting, not to mention it was the perfect finger food to share. 

Most Canned Food In One Spot:

The Food Preservation Competition Room

There were cases with shelves upon shelves filled with this year’s competitors in the Food Preservation competition. Delicious looking jams, jellies, relishes, and pickled fruits and vegetables were packed into little mason jars, some with winner’s ribbons stuck on top. If only I could have tasted them all.

Craziest Drink:

Muscadine Grape Slushie

Just the sound of this alone was enough to make me turn my head, and even though I wanted to try this crazy concoction, the stand had run out when I came by. Muscadines are a very southern grape, and I’d only ever seen it used in jellies, so I found this use of the fruit actually pretty interesting.

Best Crazy Flavor:

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

I love pumpkin everything – if it’s done right. And this was done right. Creamy, flavorful with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg; it was just spot on. Unfortunately, I can’t get any more of the pumpkin goodness until next year; Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream is based in Burlington.

Largest Portion:

Fresh Pumpkin Sticky Bun

This thing was enormous! It weighed at least two or  three pounds, was at least two inches tall, and slathered in some sort of pumpkin compote that was just delicious. It took four of us to make a dent in this monster of a cake, and even then we couldn’t end up finishing it. 

Largest Pumpkin(s):


Busting the scale was a beast of a pumpkin from Morgantown, West Virginia belonging to Dustin Trychta. At 1,549.5 pounds, it won by a landslide and was awarded the coveted blue ribbon. 

North Carolina:

Weighing in at 1,506.5 pounds, this year’s state winner set the new record for prodigious pumpkin plumpness. The pumpkin was grown by Danny Vester in the small town of Spring Hope. 

Pie, anyone?

Best Snack:

Kettle Corn

I’ll just say it. Popcorn covered in caramel. Makes your mouth water, doesn’t it? Rightly so, because this kettle corn was “delish.” The perfect snack to take with you as you wander around the fair. 

Best Fair Food of 2019:

Funnel Cake

All right, I admit it, I’m a sucker for a good funnel cake. But when they’re fresh and hot and covered in powdered sugar, who isn’t? Besides, fair funnel cake is like no other. Our plate of chewy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness was gone within two minutes – no joke – and was the absolutely perfect way to end my night.


Cary Students Inspired at “Paint the Page”

Megan Mersch, 11th grade

By Ruby Schweitzer

Teenagers wandered away round the beautiful gardens with easels and pencils in hand, sketching the landscape and the 19th-century architecture. The weather was sunny and warm, feeling more like spring than fall. The trees swayed slightly in the wind, creating a peaceful atmosphere that was felt by everyone outside. 

This was the scene at Paint the Page, an annual contest sponsored by the Town of Cary for young artists that took place October 6th. Students from all around Wake County were invited to tour the Page-Walker house in downtown Cary and create a work of art inspired by the building. During the tour they learned about the history of the Page-Walker house and got to see some of the original furniture that was in the house when it functioned as a hotel in the late 19th century.

Paint the Page was started by a member of the Cary Teen Council four years ago as a way to involve young people in history and the arts. Barbara Wetmore, a volunteer at the Page-Walker house who coordinated the event, says “[We’re] giving artists a venue to share their talent and hoping that some of them will remember something from here today that they didn’t know. That maybe they’ll go back and tell their friends a little bit about Cary’s history.”

Megan Mersch, a Cary High junior, says she found out about Paint the Page in her Art III class. “The [Page Walker house] was very moving and was a lively experience… It was amazing to meet other artists and showcase my talents.” She encourages other students to participate in the event next fall.

    On October 13th, the finished pieces were shown at a reception for the artists and their friends and families. The winning piece received a cash prize of $100, and five $50 Judge’s Choice awards were given out as well. The winning piece will be on display at the Page-Walker house for the rest of the year for anyone who wishes to visit a historical and creative landmark of Cary.