It is February, Black History Month. A month where in many schools, students will be learning about historical black figures and events that were pivotal in making the United States what it is today. This is an amazing month, but how did it come to be?
Carter G. Woodson was the son of former slaves. He spent his childhood working in coal mines and Quarries. At nineteen years old, he entered high school, finishing in only two years. He later went on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard. As he was in school he saw how black people were not represented in books and history as they should be. He claimed that as he was in school, Black Americans were cut out of the story of shaping America in history lessons, a blatant falsehood. He became unsettled by this information, so in 1915, Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, an associate of his, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now referred to as The Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The organization was made to promote studying black history and celebrate the accomplishments of Africans Americans. In 1926, Woodson launched Negro History Week to help schools teach about important black history. Woodson chose the second week of February for his celebration because it marks the birthdays of two men who have incredibly impacted the lives of Black Americans. Those two men are Frederick Douglass, who even though he did not know his actual birthday, celebrated it on February 14 and Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is on February 12. Many mayors accepted this week in their cities until it was made a national observance as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976.
Schools today now use this month to teach about many black important figures and it’s no secret, MLK, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks get a lot of attention. This month is so much more than learning about important black figures in history. It is a way to fight the invisibility and negative imagery of black people that still exist today. In a society where black people have historically and systematically been viewed as less than, Black history months’ goal is to inspire and instill pride in the black community for generations to come. Black History Month is so much more than a month, it’s a lifestyle that is year-round. It’s a reminder that a month is not enough to educate. The attention that Black history and black people get throughout February must be year-round because it matters. So I encourage you, learn something new, support black business, stand up, and show your support not just in February, but all year.
It’s that time of year again: chorus kids running around frantically, classes getting interrupted, students and teachers alike enjoying the music that the day brings. You guessed it — it’s Singing Valentines season! Valentines Day at Cary High brings with it a tradition that dates back over 25 years, even before Mr. Yasick, our beloved chorus teacher, started teaching here. For those that don’t know, Singing Valentines is a yearly tradition at Cary High where the students of Concert Chorus form groups with their fellow class members, make arrangements of two songs, and go out and perform them to students and teachers all over the school on Valentines Day. Anyone can buy a Singing Valentine, and they go on sale on Wednesday, February 5th for 1 for $3 and 2 for $5. Almost all Concert Chorus students will have them and are more than happy to sell them to you!
An enormous amount of work behind the scenes goes into crafting and perfecting arrangements of songs in preparation for Sweetheart Serenade and Singing Valentines. In the words of senior Ian Rood, “My favorite part of the experience so far has been crafting this puzzle, making this musical puzzle with my team. We’re slowly putting the pieces together and it’s been really cool seeing them all come together.” All seven groups have been crafting their musical puzzles for what will be almost three weeks by the time Singing Valentines rolls around, putting in hours of class time and even getting together after school and on the weekends to piece together their arrangements.
Working on Singing Valentines has become an experience that many chorus kids have grown very fond of. When asked what their favorite part of Singing Valentines is, a majority said that collaborating and getting to know those in their group was one of their favorite parts. Ella Green, a senior on her third year of Singing Valentines, said that, “My favorite part of Singing Valentines is running around with my friends and just singing for everybody and (of course) missing class.” Performing their Valentines for their fellow peers and teachers is a rewarding experience, and senior Ross Bowen says it best when asked his favorite part of Singing Valentines: “I really like walking around and singing to the students. Seeing their reactions are my favorite thing because it can either be really funny or it’s kind of awkward when they’re really uncomfortable.”
Alongside Singing Valentines comes one of the most fun (in my opinion) chorus concerts of the year. After many parents began to say that they never got to hear the Singing Valentines that their child put an incredible amount of work and effort into, Sweetheart Serenade was created in 2008 to showcase all of the Singing Valentines groups. This year, it takes place on February 13th. In addition to displaying the talent of the groups, Sweetheart Serenade allows for solo, duet, and/or group performances selected by the chorus officers through audition. These performances come in between Valentines groups performing, and they’ve quickly become one of my favorite parts of the evening. In the words of senior Tarra Scott, “I like the Sweetheart Serenade because I get to see everyone perform solos and stuff, which is not something that we usually get to see. Everyone’s so good, and it’s really fun to watch them do actual performances when they usually don’t.” In addition to the solos and Singing Valentines performances, the Concert Chorus performs two pieces as an ensemble to open and close the evening. This year, the pieces consist of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, originally performed by Simon and Garfunkel and “What I Did For Love” from the musical A Chorus Line.
Sweetheart Serenade also provides an opportunity for the president and vice president of chorus to have some fun, crack some jokes, and make the evening an overall enjoyable time. This year, Michael Shorb and Gwen Muncy-Champitto will get to be the emcees for the evening, the part Michael said that he is most looking forward to. He stated, “I think this year, my favorite thing will be emceeing because the emcees are always the funniest so I have to live up to that.”
Singing Valentines has become one of the experiences most looked forward to by the students of chorus, and we can’t wait to perform our songs for the students and faculty on Valentines Day! The songs chosen this year are shown below, and we encourage you to buy Singing Valentines to hear all the hard work that every group has put into their arrangements this year.
Earlier in the New Year, Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, released a surprising announcement: They plan to give up their royal titles and become financially independent. What this means is that the couple will no longer be referred to as “His or Her Royal Highness”. This news, which the couple announced on their Instagram, came as a surprise not only to the public but also to the rest of the royal family, as Harry and Meghan did not consult anyone before releasing. Even though this is unprecedented, it was always predicted that this would happen at some point.
Ever since Harry and Meghan went public with their relationship, the media relentlessly criticized Meghan; that criticism only increased after their royal wedding. Even though all royals are subject to criticism because they are in the public eye, Meghan’s was something different. She was violated constantly by the media. They would refer to her with racist remarks because she is a half-black woman and it continued after she had her son when articles came out saying she did not know how to care for a baby. Harry had expressed his feelings about the way his wife was being treated. He had already witnessed first hand how the media can ruin a person, as it did with his late mother Princess Diana.
With releasing this announcement, the couple originally wanted to become independent and still support the Queen; however, after talks with the Queen, it was not possible. They were given two options—stay with their titles and their royal duties or become entirely independent. They chose to become independent. What this means is that their new titles will be Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. They will repay the £2.4m public funds used to refurbish Frogmore House, their official residence in Windsor. They will also no longer receive public funding through the Sovereign Grant, although it will remain funded privately by Harry’s father, the Prince of Wales. Harry, who was a former soldier, will have to give up his honorary military titles, including that of captain-general of the Royal Marines, passed on to him by his grandfather, Prince Philip.
The Queen of England later released a statement expressing her approval of the couple’s decision, saying she understood why they made the decision to give up their royal titles. They will always be members of the family, but without their titles, they are no longer royals. They will no longer carry out royal duties or do royal tours. This is a complete end to their royal life.
The Superbowl. It’s the most viewed television broadcast in the United States every year, and one of the largest in the whole world. Broadcast in more than 130 countries and 30 different languages it is a highlight of the sporting world every year, uniting millions of people over one simple thing: a good game of football.
And of course commercials. It’s safe to say this is the one day that anyone is actually excited to have their show interrupted by commercials because for such a huge event, and $5.6 million for 30 seconds of air time, companies have got to make them good.
In Google’s heartfelt commercial, an elderly man reminisces over his wife’s life with the help of his Google assistant. While it’s not funny like other Google ads have been, it’s certainly a wholesome and enjoyable addition to the list.
9. “Famous Visitors”
Playing off their last Superbowl commercial, Walmart once again promoted its free grocery pickup services, only instead of famous cars, we got to see some famous flyers, including fan-favorites like the Millenium Falcon, the USS Enterprise, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
8. “Reese’s Take 5”
To introduce their newest candy bar, Reese’s aired this hilarious ad where office worker Trish doesn’t understand how her coworkers haven’t heard of the new Reese’s 5 bar. What she doesn’t seem to realize is that they have been living under a rock, were born yesterday, and are just plain clueless.
7. “Feed the World a Snickers”
Continuing its ad campaign that “you’re not you when you’re hungry,” Snickers’ Super Bowl commercial this year poked fun at the fact that maybe the world just needs a Snickers to fix itself—and stop babies from being named Kale.
6. “Can’t Touch This”
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of M.C. Hammer’s hit “Can’t Touch This” and to announce the release of the new Cheetos Popcorn, Cheetos once again played with the idea of the crippling power of Cheeto dust, as an ordinary man—accompanied by M.C. Hammer himself—gets out of doing all the things he doesn’t want to do.
5. “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread”
Rainn Wilson stars in Little Caesar’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial as the head of Sliced Bread Headquarters, which begins to fall into chaos as a new best thing is discovered: Little Caesars now delivers.
4. “Winona in Winona”
Winona Ryder teamed up with Squarespace to make a short film, commercials, and a website about her hometown of Winona, Wisconsin. And her perfect Winona charm made their Superbowl commercial of an awkward exchange between her and a Winona police officer priceless.
3. “Groundhog’s Day”
Bill Murray, accompanied by emotional support groundhog Punxhotany Phil, is pure gold in this rehash of his well-known movie “Groundhog’s Day” promoting the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.
2. “Life Before Alexa”
In Amazon’s newest ad, Ellen wonders what people did before they had Alexa. We get to see everyone from Al the newsboy, to Alexine, a poor messenger pigeon, as they struggle to complete the simple task. Amazon’s Alexa can do for you in a snap.
Rocket Mortgage hit the nail on the head with this year’s Super Bowl commercial. Jason Momoa opens up about what home is to him, how it’s the one place he’s free to get comfortable to be himself. The true self that is hiding beneath the wig and fake muscles is revealed—a short, skinny Momoa that can’t bench anything.
Since 2017, Americans across the nation have come together during the month of January with a common goal: the advancement and protection of women’s rights. Every week it seems there’s another push to limit a woman’s right to an abortion, another sexual assault case from Hollywood, and another politician making degrading comments about their female peers. The statistics for sexual violence against women in the United States are too high- one in three women, to be exact. Too many women are silenced from sharing their stories.
The Women’s March is a chance for women to unapologetically speak out and raise their concerns for this country. On January 26th, at Halifax Mall, speakers of all different races, religions, ages, and backgrounds talked about the discrimination against women-of-color, domestic violence, and the importance of voting. This year’s theme, “Women Protecting the Future,” is especially important, as the Primary Elections for president are upon us, and the General Election is in November. Women must take to the polls to vote for candidates who will protect their rights.
I’ve attended the March on Raleigh since 2018, and I will continue to do so. Let it be known that our generation is one of new ideas and unity: a generation of bright minds and hard-workers. I know that this year will be the year of change. The year where women will finally be heard.
January 26, 2020 was a normal Sunday, until surprising news shook the nation and the world: “Kobe Bryant is one of 9 people killed in a helicopter crash.” More surprising and heartbreaking news: “His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also victim to the crash.” The victims that died alongside Kobe and Gianna were Sarah and Payton Chester (a mother and daughter), John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, a coach for Mamba Academy, Christina Mauser, and Kobe’s captain Ara Zobayan, who had 20 years of flight experience.
Everyone knows who Kobe Bryant is. Bryant was originally drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, but forced a post-draft trade to the Lakers, saying it was the only team he would join. Bryant spent his entire 20-season basketball career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships. He retired in 2016, after scoring 60 points in his final game. His uniform numbers, 8 and 24, were both retired by the Lakers, making him the only NBA star to have two numbers retired with the same team.
Currently, the National Transportation Safety Board continues to lead an investigation that is looking into the pilot, helicopter maintenance records, and the weather conditions at the time the helicopter took off for reasons behind the accident.
After the horrific accident with the basketball star on board, fans across the country paid tribute. The tweets starting pouring in. Shrines of flowers, drawings, and notes were assembled outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Kobe played during his career. Shrines were also built in his high school near Philadelphia, where it all started. Players around the NBA honored Bryant by holding the ball for 24 seconds (one of his jersey numbers) for a 24-second shot clock violation at the start of games. The Grammy Awards, which were scheduled for that day, had moments honoring Kobe’s life as well.
This news came as a shock to everyone. It awakened people to reality. The reality that life is unpredictable, unreliable, and shorter than you think. Kobe’s death affected the entire world as purple and yellow lights are lit up worldwide. It shows how much Kobe impacted people, and though he is dead, Kobe is and will continue to be a legend known across the world, with legacy that will continue to live on through generations to come.
In a year full of movies with big budgets, but low ratings, the best picture race pulls films from all over the place: a supervillain origin story holds the most nominations, two Netflix dramas are strong contenders, and a subtitled South Korean comedy-thriller-drama competes against a movie about a little boy whose imaginary best friend is Hitler. Of course, there’s also the period pieces: six out of the nine Best Picture nominees are set in the past, though how historically accurate they are varies significantly.
This year’s best director race has been tight from the start, with Martin Scorsese, Bong Joon Ho, and Sam Mendes seeming like the frontrunners since the Golden Globes, and Noah Baumbach, Quentin Tarantino, Greta Gerwig, and Pedro Almodóvar also seeming like safe choices. However, once the nominations were released, people on Twitter were quick to point out that no women were nominated for the second year in a row. Considering that many of the most highly acclaimed movies of the year were directed by women— The Farewell, Little Women, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Atlantics all have at least 95% on Rotten Tomatoes— this comes as a surprise. The acting nominations also have little diversity, with white actors receiving all but one of the nominations over stars like Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, and Awkwafina. However, Bong Joon Ho became the first ever Korean director to receive a nomination, and his film Parasite is the first Korean film to be nominated for either Best International Feature Film or Best Picture.
Other snubs were the lack of nominations for horror movies like Us, Midsommar, or The Lighthouse, though this is hardly a surprise— only six horror movies have been nominated for Best Picture out of a total 563, and The Silence of the Lambs is the only one out of those six to win. Marvel had campaigned for a Best Picture nomination for Avengers Endgame in the fall, perhaps hoping that the Academy would give it a win as a way to honor all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe the way it did with the last Lord of the Rings movie, but Joker seems to have taken the spotlight from other superhero movies. And Knives Out, with its star-studded cast and stellar reception, was only nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Frozen II was left out of the nominations for Best Animated Feature Film, despite becoming the highest-grossing animated movie ever. It’s possible that Frozen II’s lack of nominations could be because voters had assumed it was a shoe-in and voted for less popular movies like I Lost My Body. Last year it was theorized that the same thing had happened when the highly respected Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was left out of the nominations, although Frozen II does have significantly lower reviews than Won’t You Be My Neighbor? did.
After a review of other film awards shows, critic reviews, and overall popularity of the nominated movies, here are the predictions for the 2020 Oscars.
Ford v Ferrari
1917 – Predicted Winner
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Joaquin Phoenix – Predicted Winner
Actress in a Leading Role
Renée Zellweger – Predicted Winner
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Brad Pitt – Predicted Winner
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Laura Dern – Predicted Winner
Bong Joon Ho – Predicted Winner
Knives Out – Predicted Winner
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
Little Women – Predicted Winner
The Two Popes
Animated Feature Film
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Toy Story 4 – Predicted Winner
1917 – Predicted Winner
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
Little Women – Predicted Winner
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama – Predicted Winner
Documentary Short Feature
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) – Predicted Winner
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk Run Cha-Cha
Ford v Ferrari – Predicted Winner
International Feature Film
Pain and Glory
Parasite – Predicted Winner
Makeup and Hairstyling
Bombshell – Predicted Winner
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Predicted Winner
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman – Predicted Winner
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.
Let’s get one thing straight, it is okay to get mad, to get completely pissed, to get freaking angry. IT IS OKAY. A few weeks, we saw the brother, Brandt Jean, of the shooting victim, Botham Jean, hug murderer Amber G-. Now, this exchange has mixed feelings, some being with it and some being totally against it. This was just another example of how black forgiveness is something we feel as if we have to do, however, think about if the opposite happened, would a white person forgive and hug a black person. It’s evident that white people have the privilege of being forgiven, but do they actually deserve it?
Since the beginning, black people have been made criminal just because of the color of their skin. From 1619 to fugitive slave laws to Jim Crow and to the current constant murder and criminalization of innocent unarmed black people. I am tired of seeing stories of people being killed when they are just playing in the park, walking home, playing video games with their nephew; I mean when will it stop. It’s constant. Black people are constantly harmed— generational harm— so please stop asking us to forgive, but at this point, it is like we are no longer being asked, but expected. Black people have the stereotype of being aggressive, so if someone does us wrong, we’re looked at closely; people are examining how and if we are going to retaliate. The forgiveness narrative is so harmful. Black people are being murdered and people are only thinking about giving hugs and being polite to the murderers. Why does the public vilify the Ferguson protesters but praise Brandt Jean? This is the system that white supremacy oversees: the oppressed are told to forgive and forget, whereas the oppressors feel good knowing that what they did was not wrong enough and that there’s no resentment towards them. Black people are not allowed to be mad, to show anger, to show the hurt caused by the systems, policies, and hands of others but it shows the unjust. It shows that something is broken, so honestly show it.
Note: All sources can be found at the bottom of this article
One of the biggest political debates today surrounds the issue of socialized healthcare, also known as medicare-for-all. With most major democratic candidates supporting the idea and most conservatives staunchly against it, the policy is guaranteed to be a major issue in the next presidential election. Before understanding the consequences of such a plan, what is socialized healthcare? Socialized healthcare, also known as single-payer health care or universalized healthcare, is a term for a policy in which the government would provide mandatory medical insurance for all its citizens through a mixture of taxation and subsidies. Many supporters claim that healthcare must be seen as a fundamental right and a socialized policy is the only way this right can be upheld. Research has shown a socialized policy is simply unimplementable as it is exorbitantly expensive.
According to the Washington Post, a single payer system would cost the US government $33 trillion by 2031. This number figures out to additional government spending of $2.8 trillion annually. It’s worth noting that the entire US budget in 2019 was $4.45 trillion. The establishment of medicare-for-all would increase the national budget by approximately 63%. This money can’t come from nowhere, and the sourcing of these funds is one of the biggest problems facing the plan. The most commonly cited plan is simply taking money from military/ defense spending. The main problem is that the US Military received less than $700 billion in 2019. If 100% of these funds went directly to funding medicare-for-all, it would foot less than a fourth of the annual bill.
In order to implement a socialized medicare plan, there is no side stepping the fact a majority would need to be paid for through increased taxes. A common plan, and one spear headed by Elizabeth Warren, is simply raising taxes on the rich. A report from the bipartisan research organization CRFB found than even if the tax rate of the top two tax brackets was raised to 100% (which is by itself impossible) there still would not be nearly enough money to fund medicare-for-all. A study from the Mercatus Center found that even if all individual AND corporate taxes in the entire country were doubled, the funds would still be insufficient to reach 2.8 billion annually. Bernie Sanders, the politician who introduced the medicare-for-all bill, has stated that “It is appropriate to acknowledge taxes would go up.” So the question is raised: are all Americans prepared to face a significant tax hike? The answer is a resounding no. According to a Gallup poll, 45% of Americans felt their taxes were too high, 48% felt they were about right, 4% felt their taxes were too low, and 3% had no opinion. With stark statistics like this, the chance of any significant tax hike being passed is extremely unlikely in a representative democracy such as ours.
As appealing as a single-payer system is, there’s no avoiding the fact that our democracy is simply unable to fund such a project. One of the most important skills in our modern political era of Twitter and “fake news” is the ability to fact check politicians. Next time a politician proposes a plan too good to be true — it probably is.