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Following Highlander Band: SynchroniCITY stopped short in Greenwood

Photo by Presley Vanover

Story by Gracie Vanover

This past weekend was one of the toughest marching band competitions in the nation right here in Indiana. ISSMA Regional competition at Center Grove High School in Greenwood had some of the top names like Avon and Carmel. With only 10 bands moving from this regional to semi-state, the Highlanders were in for a long night.

The band placed 11th this weekend, barely missing the chance of being in the top 10 for semi-state. However, the night was not a rough one at all. 

“I felt happy. I was excited to be back and I felt really good about how we were going to perform,” said sophomore pit member Lupe Rufing. “When we got done play I felt really good because I played so well and we sounded really good.”

Many members of the band and guard felt this was the best performance for the group to date.

“I think our performance was the best one yet. The features , solos, and notes we normally splat on were the best they have ever been,” said junior tuba player Bailey Durrett. 

With every performance there are hardships members have to face whether it be injury or the competition itself.

“I was also nervous because I knew that there [were] five national championship schools there,” said Rufing. “[But] I was glad to show everyone how good we are because we practice really hard and work together to make a good performance.”

Although band members are sad about not advancing they are ready for next season and are okay with their results.

“I’m sad we didn’t advance but I know we did the best we could have done and that the placements between all the bands were fair and we got what we deserved,” said Durrett. “Since we were so close to making it in I’m excited to see how we will do next year because we just keep getting better [each season].

The band will be performing the show two more times even without semi-state and state competition. To follow the band and find their schedules go to their website: Be sure to catch them one more time before the season’s end at Bands of America Grand National Championships on Nov. 14. 


It is time to start seeding sectionals

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

Of the sports associations I pay attention to — NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and IHSAA — IHSAA is probably the most well run. I cannot recall a time where I heard that they laid out a significant ruling on a team for next to nothing like the NCAA just did to Mary Hardin-Baylor, who recently had their 2016 championship revoked because a coach allowed a football player to use his car. 

The IHSAA rule most often criticized is the transfer rule. To explain it in one sentence, if a player wants to transfer the athletic director must sign off that he or she can play at the school they are transferring to. I do not have any problems with this rule. However, I do see three noticeable flaws in the IHSAA. 

One is that not all sports are classed and I already wrote a column about that (read here, and the other is that not all deserving athletes can make the state tournament in individual sports (read here The third is that the IHSAA does not seed team sports. 

So, it is possible that next year New Albany and Jeff could be top five or even the top two basketball teams on the state. Then, when sectionals roll around in March, if their ping pong balls roll out first, they could be playing each other on a Tuesday night in Seymour. That would be the most anticlimactic way for a game of that caliber to go down, and I think most of my readers would agree that it should not be that way. 

This year, there was an unlucky draw that affected our volleyball team a little bit. They have Providence, a top 25 volleyball team in the country, in their sectional. Providence should have had one of the byes as well as New Albany, because they beat us in the regular season. Then, we would have probably played Seymour before playing New Albany. However, we got the bye and will be facing the winner of Providence and Jennings County. Had that sectional been seeded, we probably would have gotten another shot at New Albany and maybe one more game for our seniors. 

Supporters of the blind draw would say that sometimes you just need to play with the cards you have been dealt and suck it up. However, if that is the case, some coaches could not play regular season with the intention of winning. If they had a really good team that had almost no depth, they could play their studs for a quarter, then put in the JV to avoid injuring the stars until the postseason. I am not saying I view it like this, but in the right situation it might make sense. 

As I have made clear, the solution to this is seeding. It makes sense to have the team with the best record against other sectional teams to play the worst team first and to play both games at home. Sectionals where the teams do not play each other could be a problem. However, the tournament makes could compare their records, and records against teams that teams several of the teams in the section have played. If that does not solve the problem, the IHSAA could look at total points scored and points allowed to make their seedings. 

There are a few situations where it would not make sense to just give home field to the top team, though. For example, it makes sense to play basketball sectionals at Seymour because they have one of the biggest high school gyms in the world. Those could be decided by the IHSAA and, if needed, the teams in the sectional.

Some times, the ball does role in your favor and fixes seeding on its own. Football was 3-0 in the regular season against three sectional teams that are all pretty good. So, FC gets the team with the worst record, Bedford at home and the winner of Jeff versus New Albany at home. Plus, Jeff beat New Albany in the regular season, so it makes sense that they have home field advantage against the Dogs. It should make for an interesting November at Ron Weigleb Stadium. 

And, while I am mentioning football sectionals, come out and support the Highlanders on Nov. 1 against Bedford.


Fans have fallen in love with Lover

Story and Art by Scarlett Hatton

Taylor Swift’s recent album reflects her old style of music while showcasing new, unexpected elements. This experimental and care-free approach made for a diverse tracklist. From her very first self-titled record in 2006 to her newest just released, highly anticipated album Lover, Swift has been a groundbreaking artist.

Like any other title track, “Lover” represents the underlying theme of her entire album by displaying a beautiful, enduring love story. In stark contrast from her last album Reputation, this new album is a breath of fresh air. Reputation’s dark and rebellious themes have been exchanged for Lover’s light and romantic ideas. From snakes to butterflies, it shows the complete change in her personal life. Swift has been open about her past struggles with her sour reputation and struggling love life. However, her happy relationship with Joe Alwyn has switched her life around. In “Lover” she says, “My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue. All’s well that end well to end up with you.” After listening to the entire album, it is clear that Swift has a full heart and a new, positive outlook on life.

Swift’s unique ability to tell her story through songwriting is what sets apart a Taylor Swift song from that of most other artists. Truthfully, everyone is guilty of listening to her songs to find out the latest gossip, whether it is of the boyfriend she just broke up with or a new fling in her life. Swift writes her songs as the story of her life and has no shame in doing so. “It’s Nice to Have a Friend” and “Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince” bring fans back to her iconic storytelling such as her lyrics in her old albums Speak Now and Red. Because Swift writes all of her songs, each phrase is honest and sentimental to the listener. She is able to make songwriting seem so effortless yet so beautifully precise like no other.

Many of the songs from the album, such as “The Archer” introduce an 80’s style of pop music. This came as a surprise to many fans seeing that this is completely new for her. Although these songs are a new style for Swift, they have their bases in an older sound. The ’80s is famous for its dance music and synthesizer tracks. This sound appeals to the older generation, and the new generation interested in retro. Most importantly, it proves that she can embrace a variety of sounds. As Swift’s music capabilities expand, so does her audience. 

Lover does an amazing job of including diverse styles. However, not every song is for everyone. “Death By A Thousand Cuts” does not even compare with some of Swift’s better songs. Although the lyrics are beautiful and well written, the production was not. The song has too many background samples and the melody is hard to follow. In this case, the music distracted and took away from her vocals instead of adding to and enhancing them. This track had so much potential but might have been better as an acoustic.

After staying silent about political issues for so long, Swift took this new album as an opportunity to speak up about her views. During the 2016 election, spectators criticized her for not using her platform to speak out about politics. However, in 2018 Swift took to social media and said, “In the past, I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.” Not only has Swift been vocal about her views, she has also included them in her lyrics. Songs like “You Need To Calm Down” advocate for love and equality. The song says, “And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate. ‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay.” Swift was able to show her support for LGBTQ rights in a positive and tasteful way. 

“The Man” is one of the best tracks from the album. Swift wrote the song to speak out against gender inequality as she describes how her life would be different if she was a man. This song is particularly great because it points out double-standards in society with meaningful lyrics but remains a happy, pop song. She did not sacrifice the quality of her song with the message she was trying to portray. All of the songs from the album do a nice job of balancing these factors.

While many songs from the album were upbeat, some of them were real and raw. Sad songs are customary to many of her albums. In Swift’s album Speak Now, the song “Back to December” was written about her 2009 break-up. However, in Lover, she focuses on a different type of heartbreak. The song “Soon You’ll Get Better” was written for Swift’s mother who fought cancer. This album reveals serious topics that her fans might be able to relate to. By steering away from her usual breakup songs, listeners can connect with her new, mature message. 

 For the past 13 years, Swift has used her unique songwriting abilities and storytelling techniques to engage her listeners. With her new, mature era, Swift is able to become unfiltered and expand her audience. After landing her sixth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, it is safe to say that fans continue to love Lover.


  1. I Forgot That You Existed 
  2. Cruel Summer
  3. Lover
  4. The Man
  5. The Archer 
  6. I Think He Knows
  7. Miss Americana & The Heartbreaker Prince
  8. Paper Rings
  9. Cornelia Street
  10. Death By A Thousand Cuts
  11. London Boy
  12. Soon You’ll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks)
  13. False God 
  14. You Need To Calm Down 
  15. Afterglow
  16. ME! (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco)
  17. It’s Nice To Have A Friend
  18. Daylight

Lyrics: A+

Vocals: A+

Instrumental: A-

Final Grade: A

Favorite Song: The Man

Least Favorite Song: Death By A Thousand Cuts


Five things to do or watch over Fall Break

Photo by Kate Zuverink

Story by J.D. McKay

Fall break is finally here, and as is customary, I will be writing my column telling all of my readers what I will be watching and what they should be watching too. Some of them will be local high school sports. Others will be on TV. But, regardless, they will be events I will be watching and that I expect to be interesting. 

  1. Football vs Bedford Oct. 11

This is Senior Night and a game that is starting to become a rivalry game. It is usually very close and often has a few side stories that go along with it (just ask head coach James Bragg). However, it always makes for interesting football and typically keeps fans on the edge of their seats during a close game. Plus, it is Senior Night, so come support some seniors. 

  1. Volleyball vs Jeff Oct. 3

If I am going to write this honestly — I cannot say that volleyball has had a terrific year. However, they are very young this year. They have also shown a lot of potential during most matches. They led at times and played very well against Providence, a top 25 team in the nation. If they can play like that again, a home game against Jeff should be our first big rivalry win of the season. 

  1. Girls’ soccer sectionals Oct. 8, 10, 12

This girls’ soccer team is very talented. Earlier this year, they won the Hoosier Cup tournament. They have also already defeated New Albany and Providence, so their talent is clearly showing itself on the field. Girls’ soccer sectionals have almost become a tradition at FC, and winning this year would give the seniors their fourth straight sectional championship.

  1. Virginia versus Notre Dame football Sept. 28

Here is the first non-local sporting event. However, I expect there are plenty of Notre Dame fans reading this because Notre Dame fans are everywhere. Notre Dame is very good and played one of the best teams in the country, Georgia, to a six-point loss. Virginia is ranked 18, so I expect the Irish to finally get a top 25 victory this week. 

  1. Colts versus Chiefs Oct. 6

This should be a very good football game. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the NFL, even without Andrew Luck. The Chiefs also have Patrick Mahomes, potential the best QB in the NFL. If the Colts defense shows out, they should get a tough win on the road. The Colts will definitely be looking to get their hands on the Chiefs again after being knocked out of the playoffs by them last year.

Following Highlander Band: Highlanders hustle through Lawrence Central

Photo by Brock Kennedy 

Story by Gracie Vanover

After a successful weekend at Columbus North High School, the Highlander Band set out again this past weekend to Indianapolis to battle some of the biggest bands in the nation. Facing off against top bands like Avon High School’s Marching Black and Gold proved to be a challenge, but our Highlanders pulled through with an excellent performance. 

On Saturday the band rolled into Lawrence Central High School and performed SynchroniCITY for the second time in the competitive scene. Although the competition was harder, many still had high hopes for the performance.

“Before every competition I make sure I go into it knowing no matter what happens I tried my best,” said eighth grade guard member Graysen South. “I always try and think we are gonna do pretty well but we are going against top bands so it’s sometimes hard to keep hype. I try and focus on keeping my part of the show as best as I can and worry about ranking after we perform.”

Many of the members thought this was one of the better performances of the season. 

“Overall I think we had a good performance, as always there is always room to improve,” 

said sophomore baritone Kent Vitale. “Personally I didn’t see any catastrophic failures.”

Even other bands and their spectators were blown away by the power of the Highlander 

band and their show. 

“I felt accomplished because like people we don’t know liked [our show],” said eighth 

grade mellophone Robert Munoz. “Parents of students that have new uniforms every year and usually step up due to the size and the funds of the band applauding for a band half the size makes me happy cause like it means you did something right.”

Although the band did not place in the top three of their class or win category awards 

they made great progressions in the show. 

“The sound was much much better than last week. Many people were out of tune last 

week and the front ensemble completely messed up,” said freshman percussion member Lizzie Floyd. “This week we completely changed it and blew it out of the water. The front ensemble did amazing and the winds were in time and completely in tune. It’s grown a lot and I can’t wait to see how it changes over this next week for BOA.”

Next week, the Highlanders plan introducing more props and performing the fourth movement of their show which has been highly anticipated by the band’s members. 

“[I’m] definitely [excited for] Preston’s trombone solo and the trombone feature,” said 

sophomore trumpet player Charlie Roution. “Our stopping point right now isn’t a great one but once the 4th movement is introduced the show will be 10 times better.”

This weekend the band heads to Bands of America Louisville Regional at Cardinal 

Stadium. To follow the Highlander band and their journey through ISSMA and Bands of America be sure to check back weekly. To find their performance times and information on the band you can go to their website