Student Council: Adopt a Family

By: Soheni and Reyna

   Adopt a family is where Student Council “adopted” 3 families from the Vernon Township Administrative Center, and then bought holiday gifts from each family’s wishlist. Then, council members went on a shopping trip to Kohl’s to purchase gifts from those lists, such as jackets, jeans, shorts, kitchenware, and purses. Next, they wrapped them in 3 different types of wrapping paper. The families chosen to be given to were families #50, #51, and #52.

   They wanted to create this activity as a fun and festive way to transition into the holiday season and spread joy to other families in our community that may not be able to afford holiday gifts for their family. At parent-teacher conferences, student council sold bowls painted by student council members and handmade pouches by Sinh Lai’s mom. They took shifts from different times of the two days of parent-teacher conferences, Thursday and Monday, to take turns selling bowls. Also, student council tried to promote the taking of the leaves of the giving tree. The giving tree was where some families took leaves from the tree and bought the items back after. The families had to turn it in on a certain due date.

    “I like Student Council because I find it to be an interesting and fun experience. I enjoy participating in this after school team, because it gives me an opportunity to help others in my community. Ms. Buffa is a organized, and creative person. I absolutely recommend it for next year, so please join!” quoted Soheni.

There’s snow place like home

By Alexis

Do you have a tradition for the holidays? A secret Santa exchange or a traditional cookie recipe? Do you make snow angels and read books in front of the fire? Many people do, there’s no other way to celebrate the holidays with your family and friends.

    When winter break rolls around, you expect at least one thing— snow. As elementary students, we ran outside at the sighting of the first flake and built snowmen, made snow angels, and went sledding. This year, there was almost no snow, but we got our snow in January. When we get older however, we need to help our moms and dads with shoveling and we need to deal with the traffic that holds up our schedules. Either way— young or old, we all need a snow day in our agenda!

    As you bake cookies or drink hot chocolate, a holiday song usually plays in the background, whether it’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey or “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel. Festivals of all sorts also encourage this kind of cheer, such as Jingle Bash. There are other festivities in Illinois as well, such as the Homewood chocolate fest and one in Chicago, the Winter Wonderfest.


Welcome! Meet the island paradise of Socotra near the country of Yemen!

Socotra is part of an archipelago of four islands. The island is only 250 km

long, however many say that this mysterious island is ‘a wonder of the world’ since it has not been touched for many centuries and holds many fascinating secrets. Places like this are not found all over the world. Places such as Socotra are rare but real. Very real.

This island is the pure definition of miracle, based upon its wide variety of animal and plant species and extravagant land features that are solely found on this island. Specifically, this extraordinary island is also rumored to have trees that have lived for over twenty million years! No one lives on the island, however tourists don’t let that fact lay them down. Some tourists have said from their travels that “the sand is so bright that you have to squint to look at it” or that “The water is so blue, that when you take a photo, it almost looks photoshopped.”

Even if the word ‘paradise’ is a fitting name for the island, another word that can be used to describe the island would be ‘treacherous’. Winds exceeds high speeds all throughout the island. The average wind speed is a whopping 39 mph on a normal basis. In fact, the trees of the island actually grow inside out to adapt to the wind. Such trees are called Dragon’s Blood Trees.

There is also a wide variety of animals living on the island. Hundreds of birds,

such as the Starling Birds, live all throughout the island, and in fact, 10 species of birds on the island are not found anywhere else. Land snails climb up the various types of trees and the Chamaeleo monachus (chameleon) roams the island freely, as the island is its species’ only home. Even some strange looking plants inhabit the island too. For instance, the Cucumber Trees (that look similarly to cucumbers poking out of the ground) and the Dragon’s Blood Trees (as mentioned above) live on the island in their own respective ways.

Socotra is very enigmatic, but gorgeous and vibrant with life at the same time.

Link to a video from Weather Channel

Opinion: Ignorance is a Choice That Devastates Others

by: Brady Rivkin

Imagine going through every second of life paranoid about being an outcast. Every move made seems to be silently condemned by your peers and you have no way of stopping the onslaught of cryptic criticism. Years upon years of this life tear at the spirit, forcing it to build a resistance with whatever it can, and it refuses to go toward normality. At the root of this complication that causes internal conflicts and social insecurity for many people is our society’s behavior. So that this complication is stopped in its tracks, the insults, bullying, and power abuse that pervade our world must become minimal. However, it is incredibly difficult to stamp out every small insult or instance of bullying because the people who act in such a horrendous way will have an alternate perception of their actions.
One of the times I witnessed this was when I was told to speak in words like a real person, implying that I am not a real person or that even though I am one, I’m not worthy of being that. The person who said it to me had a different perception, and simply wanted me to speak in words. To her, it seemed abnormal that I would not use the standard form of human communication, but I have a reason for doing so. I do not use words when no words can describe how I’m feeling. Nobody chose to understand this, and because people can be so ignorant, they stand in the way of the progress that could be made to stop the under-the-radar bullying. In order to minimize the atrocious behavior that plagues our society, we must ensure that people understand whose right it is to choose how they want to be in life. Ignorance must go!

Opinion: America is Drowning in a Soda Crisis

In a time when obesity rates in the U.S. are skyrocketing, America needs a consistent solution. To combat one major cause of obesity in sugar intake, a beverage tax is absolutely necessary. Many have been implemented across the country, but none have been so effective as to discourage enough people from buying soda. In fact, soda prices are so low that they discourage people from buying water! The water-soda price difference should be a key part in determining the cost of soda, so I created an algorithm to base beverage regulation on.
When producing my algorithm for price regulation, I compared the price per fluid ounce of water to soda, and what I found is simplified in the following chart:


6 1-Liter Evian Water Bottles from Target Two 2-Liter Soda Bottles from a Convenience Store
Amount in Fluid Ounces 202.8 135.2 (Over one gallon)
Amount in Liters 6 4
Price $9.99 $2.79
Price per Fluid Ounce $0.05 $0.02
Sugar 0 grams 420 grams (14.7 ounces)

The chart highlights the disparity between water and soda prices, most notably that water is about 2.5 times the price of soda per fluid ounce. Water is much healthier than soda, (especially diet soda because of its artificial sugar) so I decided that in order to persuade people to choose water, the price for soda per fluid ounce should be at least more than the price of water. Thus, I had an idea for regulation that makes a minimum price of 7.5 cents per fluid ounce plus a tax of 15%.

This soda regulation is necessary because it drastically increases the price of soda, discouraging people from buying this destroyer of health. Businesses would soon refuse to sell soda, and suppliers would have no choice but to minimize soda production. At some point in this scenario, soda becomes so unpopular that it goes out of the market all together. Mission accomplished.
Despite the high cost of soda, many people could benefit from the regulation. The soda-guzzling public would have to pay less for healthcare because they do not have to deal with the damaging effects of soda, and the surplus money that they hand over to businesses would stimulate business and economic growth. The economy could stabilize itself from the new boost, and move on to industries that do not harm the American people. If this tax satisfies its objectives, other taxes and price hikes on similar products like alcohol, tobacco, and easily accessible drugs should be considered. If the “forgotten” American people outside of Washington are to be remembered, this Congress must make a commitment to their health, and in turn, cultivate endless prosperity.



Target : Expect More. Pay Less.,

Winter Break Movie Ideas!

By Audrey.
Ready, set, no work! With winter break coming, most of us are going to stay home. With our Netflix subscriptions paid, Amazon all ready to go, and Hulu purchased so we can binge our favorite shows, we can’t wait to go on break sooner. But here’s the hard part: figuring out what to watch. If you don’t want to spend your break surfing through the endless amounts of shows, movies, and documentaries, this guide is for you.

New Releases:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Can’t get enough of the Star Wars fever? Look out for the newest edition of the 8-movie saga. Join Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, and an assortment of new and old characters in a great adventure across the galaxy. The movie picks off straight after The Force Awakens (aka the 7th movie in the saga), and keeps viewers on their toes the entire time.
Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Adventure
Rated: PG-13
Haven’t Seen The Series: The entire Star Wars saga is on Amazon, and it’s free on Xfinity On Demand until New Years.
Where to Watch: It’s still in theaters, but tickets are sold on Fandango.

Based on the award-winning book by R.J. Palacio, this movie is one for the whole family. August “Auggie” Pullman is a normal kid, except for one thing: his face is not-so-normal. When he is faced with the challenge of going to school for the first time, he makes some friends and likes his classes, but will it last? This movie is a definite tear-jerker, but its positive message and happy ending overcome the sad parts.
Genre: Family
Rated: PG
Where to Watch: It’s still in theatres, but tickets are sold on Fandango.

In this animated celebration of Mexican heritage, music, and culture, a young boy named Miguel has a passion for music, despite his family’s disproving nature over the subject. Join him on his journey of self discovery packed with action, fun, and laughs.
Genre: Fantasy
Rated: PG
Where to Watch: It’s still in theaters, but tickets are sold on Fandango.

Best of 2017

Wonder Woman
This epic movie tells the backstory of Diana, a woman from a mythical world sent to help the world handle WWI. Action-packed and fast paced, this movie is a treat for any Wonder Woman, superhero, or even adventure movie fan.
Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13
Where to Watch: It’s on Amazon, Xfinity On Demand, and almost any other streaming application except for Netflix.

Beauty and the Beast
This remake of a classic brings a new, live-Action twist to an old classic. Emma Watson stars as Belle, a young woman looking for adventure outside of her small village in the 1700s. When she stumbles upon a cursed castle while looking for her missing father, she may just get what she wished for.
Genre: Fantasy
Rated: PG
Where to Watch: It’s on Amazon, Netflix, Xfinity On Demand, and almost any other streaming application.

Fuller House Season 3
The 3rd season is out, after months of waiting! The modern spinoff of the 80’s classic Full House has received a huge fan base, and you might be the next one to join it! The show pick up about 30 years after the original show. Packed with nostalgia, jokes, and drama, this third season bring new fun—and new problems—to the Tanners. Part 2 of the season is released on December 22 of this year, which is right before break for binging.
Genre: Sitcom
Rated: TV-Y7
Haven’t Seen The Series: Season 1 AND 2 are available for you to binge.
Where to Watch: It’s only on Netflix.

Stranger Things 2
Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Will and all your favorite characters are back in the second installment of the binge-worthy Netflix original. Set 1 year after the first season, the crew is still trying to recover after the almost-death of Will Byers. Yet, is the past really gone? Is Eleven really dead? And most importantly, is the gate still there? The season dropped in October, but it’s still there to watch.
Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller
Rated: TV-14
Haven’t Seen The Series: The first season is available to binge for however long it takes you to watch it.
Where to Watch: It’s only on Netflix.

Despicable Me 3
The much-anticipated sequel to the first 2 Despicable Me movies came out this summer, and now it’s come to your favorite streaming platform. Gru, Lucy, Margo, Edith, and Agnes are back, and so is the action! With new villains for the Anti Villain League to battle, overworked Gru and Lucy need a vacation. But when a shocking letter from a brother Gru didn’t even realize he had comes in the mail, that vacation might just be overlooked, especially with Balthazar Bratt, a former 1980s child star who seeks revenge against the world, on the loose.
Genre: Action, Family, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG
Haven’t Seen The Series: The other 2 movies are available to watch on Amazon and most streaming applications besides Netflix.
Where To Watch: It’s on Amazon, Xfinity On Demand, and other streaming applications besides Netflix.

Singin’ In The Rain
This classic from the 1940’s tells a story that will delight all viewers. Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are 2 hit stars from acting in silent pictures, but when new “talking films” come around, Lina’s squeaky voice might be the end of her career. But with the help of a talented actress named Kathy, the show will go on!
Genre: Romance, Musical
Rated: G
Where to Watch: It’s on Amazon and Xfinity On Demand.

When a mysterious shark lurks around preying on the citizens of Amity Island, the mayor and a group of sailors band together to stop the evil fish. But will they be able to? Steven Spielberg brings man and nature into an epic battle that will keep you on your toes.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rated: PG
Where to Watch: It’s on Amazon and Netflix.

The Indiana Jones Movies
A skilled archaeologist named Indiana Jones must solve the most challenging puzzles in his movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Fighting for the USA against the Nazis in WWII, he continues to win over the hearts of the many generations that have helped him along his artifact-finding journeys.
Genre: Adventure, Action, Mystery
Rated: PG, PG, PG, and PG-13
Where to Watch: The movies are all free on Amazon.

Enjoy your holiday break and having fun binge-watching your favorite shows!

A Project Rebuked

by: Brady Rivkin

In schools in 2017, one would expect teachers to give projects that are clear, straightforward, and comprehensible to students so that the students have some challenge, but still can succeed if they put in the work. However, the recent science project on natural disasters did not follow this criteria. Many students, myself included, worked for over two weeks, putting in their best efforts to create concise but information packed presentations. We found plenty of data from reliable sources, each of us with well over ten, and made inferences when necessary. Despite this, we were critiqued on data interpretation even when the data was completely understandable as it was. A vivid example showed up in my project because it  included a chart explaining the wind scale, and I explained how as the wind speed increases, the hurricane category changes and the damage increases. Later, on the rubric, “What are the points of the chart” was written without explaining which chart or what it was categorized under. Shockingly, after I presented my project to Mr. Duffy and he explained what I could fix, which I did, I discovered that the methods of grading were completely vague and not focused on what we had been told to modify. Having worked independently, we were expecting to be graded differently based on our style of presentation, but we were all subject to the same square peg breaking the pegboard of circles that were our projects when we had been given the tools to create the circle peg and gave it to Mr. Duffy so that the grading would be as we expected. Two days after the first presentations, those who had presented were given their rubrics back with no explanation of why they were graded how they were. All of us want to have professional presentations, but we are not being taught how to do so. It is the teacher’s duty to establish a positive learning environment that allows students to contribute, but the current environment bars students from effectively contributing. Before we move on to anything else in the science curriculum, we must address this and create a win-win situation for all involved. If anyone involved steps back from addressing the students’ concerns, a coalition will form to address the concerns. We are coming to create change, and we will ensure that it happens.

A small but noteworthy note: I wrote this with the intent of a protest during my science class when I was to re-do my project because I would rather argue for reform that is possible than try to read Mr. Duffy’s mind, which for me, is impossible.