Highlanders to face off against rival New Albany Bulldogs

Art by Scarlett Hatton.

Story by Jadon Stoner.

In past years, the Highlanders would sprint onto the court in the Doghouse to a mixture of boos and cheers. During all 20 minutes of warm-ups, both student sections would chant back and forth, waking up their vocals for the upcoming battle ahead. When the referee throws the ball in the air and the first possession begins, side conversations disappear. Hundreds of students and thousands of other fans become fully engaged with the action on the court in the hope that their team will prevail, providing them with the ultimate bragging rights over the other.

This one-of-a-kind atmosphere will be different this year, as is almost everything in daily life. The Doghouse is a large arena, but with the COVID-19 restrictions, the number of fans allowed in will be greatly reduced. Even with these odd circumstances changing a usually very memorable game, FC looks to push past the adversity and come out with a win.

“I think we match up well. Both teams have some returning varsity players and we both have really good teams this year,” said junior forward Brady Moore.

Though it is likely that it will be a tight game, the two teams will showcase a stark contrast in styles of play due to where their strengths lie.

“We’re two different teams this year, considering we have a lot of size, and New Albany is really guard heavy, but I think our size and length can help us with that,” said senior guard Jake Heidbreder.

Junior center Wesley Celichowski identified a few areas the team will need to capitalize on in order to be successful.

“We are a larger team, so if we rebound and play good defense that should help us be successful.”

The Bulldogs already have three games under their belt. They beat 2A Clarksville by 54 points in their first game of the year and beat a very talented Bloomington South team 61-36. The team then defeated Evansville Harrison 49-31 to start the season with three wins.

Head boys’ basketball coach Todd Sturgeon recognizes the areas that New Albany has excelled in to get off to such a good start. 

“They’ve got an explosive backcourt of guys who can score the basketball and who are proven scorers. In their first couple of games a lot of other guys have made shots as well. We always know them to be an excellent defensive team and they’re looking pretty explosive offensively as well so far,” said Sturgeon.

As Sturgeon mentioned, a big part of this early success from the Bulldogs is their sharp shooting guards, putting that on display against Bloomington South where they made nine three-pointers.

“I think a big emphasis will be on keeping New Albany’s shooters from getting good looks. They have a lot of guys who can shoot it so that will be key,” said Moore.

Heidbreder agrees that guarding New Albany from beyond the arc will be critical, as well as using the aforementioned size advantage to get easy baskets.

“Some areas to emphasize before going into the game will be perimeter defense and making sure our communication is great and knowing where their shooters are. Also on offense, trying to get it into the post and play in and out that way I feel like can really benefit us,” said Heidbreder.

There are also certain things the team must do well against any team to come out with a victory, not just specifically against New Albany.

“[We] have to take care of the basketball and not turn it over against their pressure. If you do that, you’re not going to have any chance. We’ve got to be able to defend them and keep the score at a manageable point. [Against] good offensive teams you’re not going to hold them in the 30s, but we’ve got to make sure that they don’t get into the 60s,” said Sturgeon.

The Highlanders won their first game 67-62 over Castle and then defeated Clarksville 70-44 to get off to a 2-0 start.

In this early season rivalry matchup, the Highlanders feel confident they can come out of the Doghouse with a victory, as they did just two seasons ago.

“I feel that just our natural size and lengths will help us a lot against them. We need to use it to our advantage and try to get every defensive rebound and limit second chance shots while also getting our own misses. I also think it can help us be successful by guarding in the paint with active hands and using our length,” said Heidbreder.

Moore also feels that the Highlanders’ big bodies will give them the edge over New Albany.

“I think we have more size than New Albany which hopefully will give us a rebounding advantage, as well as help to provide some scoring inside for us.”

Because of the restrictions on fan capacity, this year’s game will feel a lot different than past years, and the team will have to adjust to these changes and find a way to still perform at a high level.

Sturgeon said, “Everybody’s going to have to get used to a little different environment. It’s going to be more like a travel team basketball environment with a few hundred fans instead of a few thousand fans. Obviously these games have produced some great games and tremendous fan support, so it’ll be a little different environment from that standpoint, so it’ll be interesting [to see] how teams are going to deal with that. I don’t know if that’s going to take away some home court advantage or not this year. We’ll have to see how that plays itself out.”

Students, faculty participate in holiday charity events

Art by Scarlett Hatton.

Story by Sadie Hussung and Kaitlyn Winchester.

The holiday season can be a time of gathering with family and making memories around the Christmas tree. For others, it is a time of hope for hot food and warmth from the cold. Now, more than ever, it is important to help those who need it most. There are many ways to give during the holiday season, whether it be giving to the canned food drive during school, participating in Miles for Merry Miracles, or volunteering for the Salvation Army.  

FC has been participating in the canned food drive for six years and has provided food for many families. Spanish teacher Heather Bradley got her students to bring in just under 700 cans this year. 

Bradley said, “Especially in these times many people who are accustomed to being able to provide for their family find themselves in a difficult position. Now more than ever, our community needs support. A little help can go a long way!”

With COVID-19 in the air, it has become more difficult to receive donations for the canned food drive. Many families are struggling for themselves to provide food on the table, much less give it away. Chemistry teacher Jennifer Gohmann has participated in this event since the beginning of 2015 and has seen for herself the need for cans. 

“This year the food pantries have stated that donations are lower than they have ever been due to COVID. There is definitely a need in our community to help those that do not have enough due to various circumstances,” said Gohmann. “As a community, it is vital that we help to provide the basic necessities to those in need, especially children.”

FC’s canned food drive has brought in a lot of food for those that need more assistance in the giving season. Each year the growth for cans has progressed by teachers encouraging students with friendly competitions between each other’s classes.

“Since my first year, I came from a school that did an incredible program providing food baskets to families in need every year and we always encouraged participation with a little friendly competition,” said Bradley. “There is no reason not to have fun while helping the community. I decided to bring that idea with me and apply it to the canned food drive.” 

Another organization that FC students participate in is Miles For Merry Miracles [M4MM]. This organization partners with the Salvation Army to donate clothes, shoes, food, and toys during the holiday season. Sophomore Reagan Baker has taken part in donating her time to those in need through M4MM for six years.

“Every year during our activities, people will tell me how much our organization has helped them. Seeing them grow and eventually not needing our help anymore really helps to show just how much something little can do,” said Baker.

Every year the organization helps families provide for their children and loved ones to have a special Christmas. Junior Linde Stockton’s family participates in M4MM so that they can give back to others. 

Stockton said, “Our family helps Miles [For] Merry Miracles, usually for the marathon portion, shopping day, and the dinners for the people. Though this year, with the coronavirus, we are only able to help with the shopping day.” 

This year has been very different because of COVID-19, which has changed the way our world normally works. Many families have been impacted by the pandemic, which has left some parents without a job, and their kids without a Christmas.

According to the MM4M website, “Economic pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic will force hundreds of local parents to choose between paying rent [and] utilities and buying Christmas presents. In a typical year, we put new clothes and toys under the tree for about 400 local children who usually must go without Christmas gifts.”

Giving during this time of year can bring joy to the people receiving gifts and those donating. For Baker, not only does M4MM bring happiness to the children when they receive the donations, but for her as well. 

“My favorite memory from M4MM is probably either our shopping days or the dinners. The shopping days are so fun because I feel like this is the time we really all come together. We get so festive and we have so much fun. The people there really make it fun.” said Baker, “The dinners are amazing because that’s when we meet the angels and their families. It’s so nice to see the kids so happy and carefree and knowing that you are helping to make a difference in their life.”

During this holiday season, giving to those who are less fortunate and in need can be a great way of helping others. This year it is imperative to donate time, money, or gifts themselves. 

Bradley said, “I think paying attention to those around you is important. We have no idea what burdens others are carrying as many do not let it show when times are tough. Being kind can go a long way!”

Holiday season brings peace amidst pandemic

Art by Chloe Williams.

Story by Claire Furmall.

It is here. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has finally arrived as this year comes to a close. For many, it is endless hours of online shopping and present wrapping that will occupy them all month. The holidays can be the most peaceful and joyful time of the year. But, what about a year that has been filled with surprise events the whole year through?

Junior Tanner Brown described his peace as, “When everything is going wrong, you are not scared. You are not necessarily optimistic, but you are just okay with whatever happens.” 

Brown said that his peace has not been crucially wavered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he is simply continuing to live his life despite the world around him.

“I just find that the world is not much crazier today than it was 100 years ago, even though we think it is,” said Brown. “You know, 10 years from now, 15 years from now, we are going to laugh about this school, this pandemic, everything really. Fifteen years from now this is just going to be a footnote. That makes me calm.”

Likewise, junior Ellise Edwards said that the holidays are her favorite time of year and this season is when she is most joyful and at peace. 

“I love the holidays and I feel like there is so much peace in the holidays. Being a Christian, it is so exciting every year,” said Edwards. “Christmas is all about Jesus coming to Earth, and that is peace for me. I think that there is a lot of peace in the holiday season for me personally.” 

Edwards said that she and her family enjoy several holiday traditions together such as listening to Christmas music and being in the company of family and friends. 

“I think that just church and the holiday season and spending time with family I don’t always get to see, as well as listening to Christmas music; that just makes me so happy and it makes my life more peaceful,” said Edwards.

Many look forward to the days of being at home with their loved ones to celebrate the holidays; however, with a crazy year such as this one, some do not get the luxury of being home. Some are still continuing their work through the holidays and pushing through as the year closes. 

Custodian Barbara Ballew said that she has continued her work as usual; however, she is more intentional about how she cleans FC for the protection of others. 

“It is what we have to do, and it does not bother me a bit to do it, to keep people safe,” said Ballew.

Ballew said that she still enjoys the company of her family and picking out presents for the holiday season. She said that one of her favorite activities that gives her joy around the holidays is visiting with family and her grandchildren.

“[I enjoy going to] see my family and cook, and buy nice stuff for the grandkids and the great-grandkids,” said Ballew. 

In contrast, the holidays have never been more stressful for many people this year. Many are quarantined or scared to leave their homes in fear of what the outside world may hold. Edwards said that she believes that anxiety levels have undoubtedly gone up this year due to everything that is currently happening. 

“This year has been really stressful for a lot of people just because, like I said, it’s literally been a rollercoaster of a year and you never know what’s going to happen, and that causes a lot of anxiety for people because so much has been out of our control,” said Edwards. 

Receptionist Kelly Crain said she believes that many people are struggling to find joy and peace this holiday season. She said that she has many remedies that she uses to cope with the stress of life; however, the most important is finding someone to talk to and communicate with about how you feel.

“Breathe deep, find things that make you relax, like playing games, or watching tv, or listening to music, walking, talking with someone; make sure you find someone to talk to,” said Crain.

Sophomore Savannah Pulliam said that she too feels anxiety levels have increased, even in her own home. She said that she and her family enjoy being in nature to decompress from pressures of life.

“I like to stay away from the news or my phone or social media, you know. Take a break from that and maybe go outside, take a walk, or be around my pets. Try to decompress from everything and try to distance yourself from whatever that is,” said Pulliam. 

Similarly, Edwards mentioned that she likes to focus on the little things when faced with the challenges of life and the holidays. She said that she strives to find something she can be thankful for and actively do for herself each day.

“I would say take this time to think about the small things in your life that need joy and do more of those things,” said Edwards. “Every single day, you should write down all the things that you did that day and write if they made you happy or if they drained you, and then think about the things that made you happy and start doing that more every day, so you’re implementing things in your life that bring you joy.”

Pulliam shared her advice on how to have a more positive outlook toward the holidays and appreciate the company of family and friends. She said that these have been trying times, but we must stick together to get through it.

“It will get better, and it has been hard on everybody, but then again, these are times to think about, you know, Thanksgiving and what you’re thankful for, and try to put others first even though it can be hard, and try to take a break from whatever is stressing you out,” said Pulliam.

Brown said he tries to focus on something that is a solid foundation. He said that if he can focus on a fact or something that is true, then he will continue to get through this time. 

“Find something that is concrete that makes you feel better. Find something that is a fact, that can’t change, that isn’t open to opinions. Something that is true just because it’s true. Something that makes you feel better and don’t forget that thing.” 

Lastly, Crain said that we must remain as a team in this struggle of joy and peace around the holidays. She said that it is not easy but we have each other to cling to and to lift each other’s spirits. 

Crain said, “…you just have to focus on, ‘We’ve made it this far, we’ll keep going.’ You’ve got to keep going because there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Music, theatre departments allowed to continue rehearsing, performing

Senior Pablo Reyes-Cardozo plays his viola during an orchestra practice on Thursday, Nov. 5 in preparation for the orchestra concert that was held on Thursday, Nov. 19. Photo by Kaylee Wheatley.

Story by Annalise Bassett and Sydney Landrum.

Editors’ Note: All information in this story is updated as of 2:36 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. 

On Friday, Nov. 20, as news spread that the performing arts department had been temporarily shut down to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, senior Alex Crampton logged into change.org. Clicking the big red “Start a Petition” button, he wrote his story and urged students, community members, and the New Albany-Floyd County school board to understand the frustrations of performing arts students. While performing arts events had been delayed, high school sports had been allowed to continue playing.

New Albany High School [NAHS]’s production of Bright Star was to be held from Friday, Nov. 20 through Sunday, Nov. 22. When New Albany-Floyd County Schools [NAFCS] announced Tuesday, Nov. 17 that the district would be switching to a fully-virtual school format, NAHS’s theatre was told to delay their production that weekend, while their basketball team was still going to be allowed to play with spectators. A petition was created on change.org, 719 people signed the petition, and the production was allowed to go on as scheduled. This petition inspired Crampton to start his own.

“Seeing the impact of the petition with New Albany High School’s production of Bright Star [prompted me to start the petition]. I was inspired…Letting athletics go on and canceling all the performing arts felt like a ‘last straw’,” said Crampton.

Since the petition gained 500 signatures in just over eight hours, Crampton extended his petition’s goal from 500 signatures to 1000 signatures. As of 5:37 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23, Crampton reported that the petition had 744 signatures. Currently, the petition has 763 signatures. 

“I do know through Facebook and through the amount of sharing that it did end up getting to a lot of the staff and administrators at our school and New Albany,” said Crampton.

On Monday, Nov. 23, it was announced that all performing arts activities would be continuing for the time being. 

Crampton’s plan now is to keep the petition live so people can continue to sign it and show NAFCS administration how much support the performing arts has from the community. He urges students in the performing arts department to keep fighting for equal opportunities.

“Just because they are letting us be equal now doesn’t mean they can’t just take it all away in a flash. The performing arts still have to keep fighting when each new event comes up, and seeing the pattern, we will have to continue to fight for Descendants coming in the spring,” said Crampton.

According to principal Rob Willman, no practice, performance, or other event was canceled. Performing arts groups were told to delay events, not cancel them. 

“No events were ever canceled.  They were delayed.  Sports were on timeline with state competitions still on schedule,” said Willman. “After revisiting other events and activities, we thought we would put them under the same umbrella.  Those activities that have competitions coming up will be able to rehearse.”

Performing arts teachers understand that NAFCS wants to come up with a plan to allow students in their respective departments to perform and rehearse safely. Band director Harold Yankey said he believes the administration is operating under a safety-first policy.

“I think [the] administration has been cautious, and wanting to do things safety-first, of course, which is understandable. I think when they started comparing what the performing arts people are doing in comparison to what the athletics are doing, they said that it’s similar. So, I think they’re coming up with a program that allows us to safely gather to prepare for our competitions,” said Yankey.

All FC groups have been affected by cancellations and delays differently, and most have tried to make the best of the situation and grow from it. However, for some, cancellations made it difficult to have a normal season. 

Yankey said that the marching band’s season, which ended Friday, Oct. 16, was extremely different and had an interesting twist on it. Marching band’s season, which normally includes competitions all over Indiana every weekend, had no competitions and only performances at football games and one for performers’ parents.

“The competitive part of it [was] a little bit like if the athletic teams always scrimmaged against one another for the whole season, and they never went out and compared themselves to other people around and had that competitive spirit worked into it,” said Yankey.

Choir director Angela Hampton experienced setbacks when she was told that her events planned were to be delayed. Many decisions were unclear and undecided. The status of performances for both choir and handbells went back and forth on whether they were to be delayed, canceled, or unchanged. 

“The cancellation of our activities has been a roller coaster ride.  When it was first announced that we were going virtual for four weeks [on Tuesday, Nov. 17], it was announced that athletics would continue,” said Hampton. “Typically, if they are on, so are we.  Within hours of the announcement, Dr. Willman announced that even the concerts scheduled for that evening were canceled.”

Shortly after the announcement, Hampton said some concerts were rescheduled for their original times and dates, but some were not, causing confusion.

“By the end of that day, both the band and orchestra concerts for that week were back on. Choir and handbells were unclear. We were asked to provide details about scheduled rehearsals and performances.  By Friday [Nov. 20] morning, all rehearsals and performances from that day forward were canceled which meant that choir and handbells would not get to do even a live stream,” said Hampton.

At that point, Hampton said she became confused and frustrated as to if her students would get to perform. This frustration came with the cancellation of choral events that had been put on pause while other performing arts and sporting events still continued on. According to Hampton, on Monday, Nov. 23, Willman and NAFCS Associate Superintendent for high school Louis Jensen came to her office and told her they had agreed to allow choir and handbells to continue performing.

This year’s events have taken a toll on all extracurricular activities. Much uncertainty has arisen in what activities are safe to continue and what activities need guidelines and changes to be safe. For the performing arts, schedules are typically down to the minute, according to Yankey, and everything is always very planned out. This year, though, groups have had to be more flexible. 

“Everything is very, very planned out, and this year has been unsettling in the fact that many of our plans changed, [in fact,] most of our plans changed. Everybody wants to know exactly what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it, what the schedule is going to be,” said Yankey. “We’ve had to be a lot more flexible than we normally have been in the past. It just takes a lot of patience, a lot of learning, a lot of adapting, to realize that.”

Willman wants to make it clear that activities allowed to continue at this time are all following guidelines set by the Floyd County Health Department.

“The only events that have been canceled or postponed now, other than handbells, which will happen on the 10th, are sporting events. A few girls’ basketball games have been moved to later dates, a boys’ [basketball] game was canceled by the opposing team and a wrestling meet has been moved,” said Willman. “It should be noted that all of the activities going on at FC are adhering to mitigation practices consistent with [Floyd County] Health Department guidelines.”

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