Tag Archives: Brooke McAfee

Columnist emphasizes importance of understanding others

By Brooke McAfee

It seems to me that people are so often caught up inside their own minds they forget to truly see other people. They may listen to the words others say and notice what is on the the exterior, but true understanding of what is going on in another’s mind frequently escapes them.This does not necessarily mean someone is uncaring– everyone has been guilty of this form of blindness. We become so entangled within the complex maze of the mind — and all the worries, excitement, and responsibilities that preoccupy us — that we forget to look for what is concealed beneath the surface of other people.

I am constantly aware of how little I truly reveal of what is going on in my mind. It is a part of my personality I have struggled with for years. When I keep my thoughts silent, misunderstanding and disinterest inevitably follow me. Yet I am equally guilty, because I often retreat too far into my mind and become distant with those around me. All it really takes is for us to listen harder and look deeper. Yet sometimes this can be the most difficult thing in the world, with all the layers of false sentiments, hidden feelings, and insecurity which often lay upon the surface.

We encounter countless numbers of people in our lives, but how many do we really get to know? Knowing a person goes beyond simply chatting with them on a daily basis. There are people I may have known on a basic level for years, but I cannot honestly say I know them. When I get to know a person, I want to learn what makes them who they are and what they think and believe, not simply the day to day events of their life, their plans for prom, or the latest gossip they have overheard. I want to understand people, rather than just be acquainted with them.

Without understanding a person, I believe we are more naturally inclined towards judgment or indifference. Perhaps the person who comes across as obnoxious only acts in such a way because they are too accustomed to being ignored, and the person with an unpleasant attitude is the victim of depression. Ignorance and misunderstanding can only lead to harm, whether intended or unintended. Compassion, which is rooted in understanding, is something we need much more of in the world.

Humans will always wish to hide their flaws and weakness, and people will always be perplexed about how to accurately express themselves. We will never fully know another’s mind, but we should certainly make efforts to do so. The people who say little often are the ones who have the most to say, and it is essential that we show interest in hearing what is on their mind, and seeing what may not be immediately obvious. If we do not make attempts to understand one another, there are many who may go through life believing they are not worth listening to. We simply need to take the time to notice what is right in front of us.

Constitutional government team places first in nationals

By Brooke McAfee

The constitutional government team experienced both a successful competition and an educational trip on their recent visit to Washington, D.C. for the We the People National Invitational. The team placed first in the high school division on April 7.

Constitutional government is a class offered first semester, but the students continued competing after the class had ended. Government teacher Suzanne Moss explained that when students take this elective, they become constitutional experts and compete at district and state level, and then they may earn the opportunity to go on to national level. Moss expressed her happiness at her students’ ranking first.

“I was just so proud of my students. Most of them I don’t even have this semester in class, and they put so much work into their opening statements and were prepared to compete,” she said.

The team, which is broken up into units of two or three students, requires extensive knowledge of the constitution and American government.

“What the students do is they prepare an opening statement that addresses a constitutional question, and then they do tons of background research to not only prepare their opening statement, but then be able to defend it,” said Moss.

The students are questioned on a variety of subjects, such as political philosophy’s impact on the founding of the United States, Lincoln’s role in the Civil War, and many others.

Senior Savannah Wormley participated in with the constitutional government team, and expressed her excitement at winning the national invitational.

“I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t. It was really exciting because all of the hard work paid off…we had such a difficult time at state… we didn’t win at state, and we were upset because we thought we had a really good team, so going up to Washington and winning was just like the ultimate satisfaction. It was the best thing that could happen.”

Wormley said it has been an inspirational experience for her, because it has given her a love for civic education and has made her think about possibly pursuing a career in politics or law. She said she also enjoyed the friendships she formed with the group.

“There was something about our team. Everyone got along. We worked so well together, and there was something about being part of a team that was really nice as well.”

Involvement with this team creates challenges such as working hard to become an expert on certain topics, according to senior Jennifer Martin.

“You need to do a lot of research. You need to read a lot of things. You really need to dig deep into stuff… you can’t just read something- you really need to think about it and be able to present it effectively.”

Additionally, this trip provided the opportunity for the students to explore Washington, D.C. and other major sites in the area.

“We saw so many things. We got a private tour from our congressman of the Capitol, we went to Mount Vernon and saw the Smithsonian…so it really was a chance to experience living history,” said Moss.

Senior Jerry Lacross said he enjoyed visiting Washington D.C. for the first time.

“I had never been before, so it was really cool to see the monuments and museums,” he said.

Martin, who had been to Washington, D.C. before, said visiting it was particularly enlightening after becoming more informed about politics and the government.

“It was awesome, because whenever I went again I knew so much about the Constitution and American politics… I knew a lot more than when I previously visited D.C.- it was a good experience,” she said.

Moss stated that this group gives students valuable skills and knowledge.

“I think it’s beneficial because students really have to know their constitutional studies and they have to not only understand it, but explain it and defend it, and pull current events that are basically pertaining to their area of study,” she said.

Martin said she loved everything about her involvement with the constitutional government team, and said it has given her knowledge that will be useful as an American citizen.

“I think the best part was that I learned so much about the Constitution and American politics and our constitutional rights, and it helped me really educate myself as a voter and a citizen.”


Pit orchestra prepares for upcoming play

By Brooke McAfee

As the auditorium fills up, the sounds of the orchestra tuning and small portions of various melodies drift to the ears of the audience. The musicians cannot be seen, hidden within the orchestra pit in front of the stage, but when the show begins, they will have a crucial role to play in the musical.

Senior Garrett Jones, who is playing bassoon and conducting three songs for the upcoming production of The Scarlet Pimpernel, explained the process of becoming involved with the pit orchestra.

“When the staff feels that these parts can be covered by students, they ask other directors who the students are they feel are appropriate for these parts, have the skill level to take them on, and have the time,” he said.

Jones said being in the pit orchestra is a unique experience.

“It is a different musical environment than anything else I’m in. No one sees you when you perform, but the performance has very high stakes. The playing is on and off, and there are people singing to it also. That is like nothing I would do anywhere else, with all my musical endeavors.”

Senior Anna Stephens, who is playing oboe and English horn in the musical said the orchestra requires plenty of personal responsibility.

“There are definitely less people than you normally experience in band, but the level of skill is not necessarily any less. In fact, sometimes it is more concentrated, I would say, and you are the only person on that part…there’s a microphone, and everything you play is heard.”

Junior Zach Rich is playing trombone and euphonium in the pit orchestra, and said he enjoys working with the theater.

“My favorite part would probably have to be seeing the show come together with all of the great actors on stage and us musicians down in the pit, it’s an awesome experience when we put it all together for the first time.”

Rich said he also enjoys the music of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and is enthusiastic about the upcoming performances.

“I really like The Scarlet Pimpernel music.  It’s gonna be hard to top Les Mis, but I am really enjoying the music as a whole…it is a fun yet challenging experience.  I am glad to be in the pit and can’t wait until the performances next week.”

Stephens said one of the challenges includes meeting the high expectations and working with professional musicians.

“They have expectations for you, the director has expectations, and theater has expectations that you will be able to play the music perfectly, like as soon as you start rehearsing, you have to be in it with your mind, step up the challenge, and just be able to play,” she said.

Other difficulties include time management and playing the music in a different setting than many student musicians are used to.

“During hell week, there’s a lot of time management challenges, but just in preparing the show…sometimes the books you get for your parts are really hard, and sometimes parts of the show are just weird with how they line up with the singers. It’s hard just because it is different. The music can be easy and yet it will still be more challenging than many of the other things I do,” said Jones.

Stephens said the experience is worth the hard work, exhaustion, and long hours of rehearsal, and her favorite part of her involvement is her love of the music.

“Even though you can’t see what’s happening, you know the story, and after playing it so many times, you just have this special musical connection with the play. Especially for me, music is very emotional and very important in my life, so it is kind of amazing to have that experience and connection with the music.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel will be playing on March 7, 8, 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m., and March 9 and 16 at 2 p.m.

Dance Marathon committees make final preparations as FCDM begins

By Brooke McAfee, Elise Kurk, and Mitchell Lockhart

As students and volunteers prepare for a long day of activities, they express their excitement for today’s Dance Marathon.

Junior Sydney Davis, who is part of the Entertainment Committee, said she is excited to how much money is raised.

“I am super excited to see our total. I am really hoping we meet our goal,” she said.

Senior Eliza Hudson is part of the Morale Committee, and it is her responsibility to get people pumped up and teach the morale dance throughout the day.

“There will be a lot of games and activities and a lot of great Riley kids stories,” she said.

Another aspect many people are excited about is the free food. It is the Dance Marathon Committee’s job to find caterers to donate food. The food will include Tumbleweed, Beef ‘O’Brady’s, Taco Bell, McDonalds, Olive Garden, and Arni’s.

“We spend months leading up the the Dance Marathon contacting different restuarants seeing if they will donate food or sell at a discounted price,” said junior Gabby Gibson, who works on the Catering Committee.

Some of the events that are scheduled include a Hunger Games event, involving Nerf guns, and the Rave Hour, featuring strobe lights and a fog machine in a darkened room.

Kerry Jones, one of the heads of the National Art Honors Society, is working at a booth where students can make items for sick children.

“We are making puppy-pals and stuffing pillows…each pillow goes to a sick kid,” she said.

Senior Sarah Henry, an entertainment and decorations executive member, said although the activities are enjoyable, it is helping the Riley children that is most rewarding.

“I can’t wait to see the whole school come together for the kids,” she said.

FCDM has just begun. Check back throughout the afternoon and evening for continual coverage.

Columnist discusses introverted characteristics

By Brooke McAfee

I am an introvert. I do not feel compelled spend my free time in the constant company of other people, but the idea of spending a few hours in solitude, reading a book or listening to music, seems to be the perfect way to unwind after a stressful week. Time spent among a crowd, exchanging mindless small talk with unfamiliar people, may seem to drag on and on for hours, but hours spent engaging in meaningful conversation among close friends cannot be wasted. And I do not see the need to fill every silent moment with my voice.

It is not that I am shy or antisocial. Introversion is simply a different way of thinking.

The main difference between an introvert and an extrovert is the way they become energized. An extrovert will find energy by exposure to people and social situations, while introverts recharge by being alone with their thoughts for a while.

Introversion is a commonly misinterpreted personality trait. Though the majority of people tend to have extroverted personalities, introverts are not abnormal whatsoever. It is ridiculous to stereotype us, because we rarely fit perfectly into a category.

We can be quite social, talkative, and vivacious, contrary to the common opinion. And just because we do not want to be around certain people all the time is not a sign of dislike. It is simply difficult for us to have prolonged exposure to socialization. To us, solitude does not have to be synonymous with the terms bored or lonely. It can be easier to feel bored or lonely in a massive crowd of people we do not feel a true connection with.

Many introverts participate in social situations with ease, and we are certainly capable of enjoying the company of people we find interesting. We can even tolerate the sort of dull, meaningless chit chat we find so excruciating, because silence is often perceived as rude or awkward, and a conversation about things that actually matter can be difficult to initiate. And around friends or family, we may be among the loudest and most talkative in the room.

But at the end of the day, we need to be alone with our thoughts, away from the chaos of the external world. Because, let’s face it, people can be exhausting.

There are many ups and downs to being an introvert. We prefer listening to frequent speaking, and we are less likely to act impulsively, preferring to thoughts before action. We can easily concentrate, especially upon matters we are passionate about.

However, with such a personality, there are many complications. We often keep our thoughts locked up inside of us, which can make it quite difficult for people to truly get to know us. Our minds and imagination might be overactive with tumultuous activity, but little escapes from the brain into speech. That’s why many introverts turn to writing as a means of expression.

Perhaps, to the extroverted mind, what I have described seems like complete misery. Yet many people simply do not understand how introverts work. We cannot change who we are: our introversion is lodged deep within our psychology. And that is fine. Sometimes, all I need is the people I care about, meaningful conversation, and some peace and quiet.