A Feminist’s Take on Star Wars

Ms. Anna Johnson, CVC Arts Correspondent

 The seventh movie of the Science/Fantasy film series, Star Wars, hit theaters on December 18th, 2015.Directed by J.J. Abrams, it is recognizable that although the movie was enjoyable to watch, the material was recycled and all-too familiar. And although there was certainly a presence of more of the female gender in this one movie than all of the others combined, the female protagonist seems strong and interesting, but when the reader looks back, he or she realizes the girl  is all the flatness of the Jakku desert and more. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was all the thrills that watching a movie should be; however, for someone who has just recently the fourth and fifth movies of the series, it should not be totally or completely obvious that material is being recycled as to make a person feel like he or she is watching a 21st century version of a movies made thirty years ago.

Familiarly, Luke Skywalker is at the pit of the plot; actually, he has gone missing, and it seems from the moment the First Order flies in quite abruptly to the dry, desolate planet of “Jakku” that almost everyone in the Galaxy is looking for him. The only clue as to where the M.I.A. Jedi might be lies in a map, which lies in a droid, named BB-8. Once Poe Dameron (a very skilled pilot with the Resistance) hears the noise of The First Order’s ship approaching, he quickly turns to the droid to hide the map and get away as far as possible. Kylo Ren arrives with his army of Stormtroopers and Poe takes a step forward, being the only one who does so among villagers running frantically. A somewhat comical, but aggressive interrogation with Kylo demonstrates the Poe will tell the First Order nothing. Poe is taken hostage. After a brief raid, the Stormtroopers are ordered to kill the villagers. One Stormtrooper does not obey. He makes “through the white and black mask” eye contact with Kylo Ren. This disobeyer will play an important role later on.

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Misty Copeland Steps Up

Ms. Anna Johnson, CVC Arts Correspondent   

For some, dance is an activity that was pursued for a few years as a child until it was realized that the picking of noses during warm-up and overall enthusiasm were demonstrating some serious lack of interest. For others, it’s a pastime that is loved, enjoyed and pursued for years before and throughout high school and college years. For a Ms. Misty Copeland, it has been absolutely everything.

Although the now highly esteemed ballet dancer has been proclaimed the principal dancer at New York’s American Ballet Theatre, she did not start out esteemed and wonderful. Misty Copeland started from the bottom. She also started quite late for a ballet dancer; that is, she only started ballet at the age of 13. But despite being a newly crowned teen, Copeland never let her ripe ballet age stop her from working twice or three times as hard as each ballerina at the barre next to her. Her story is an inspiring, emotional one, which is worth being told.

Misty Copeland on the cover of Time Magazine

Misty Copeland on the cover of Time Magazine

Misty was one of those “starters from the bottom”. Here’s what that means. Misty was one of six siblings, all sharing one mother whom had many sadly, abusive and unhealthy relationships with men. Often, the Misty and her family didn’t have place which was home to them, motel rooms and various homes of her mother’s husbands and boyfriends became temporary places of residence. The cold, paint-scratched metal on the railings of motel balconies seems less than comforting to most, but to Misty, she found comfort in using the railings as a ballet barre. Misty spent many afternoons isolating herself from the abuse in the motel room by instead spending the time stretching herself (literally) to full potential and solace in what she found she enjoyed.

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Lax Brahs Look Forward

Ms. Megan Gannon

While many high school athletes just want a shot at a championship, CVU men’s lacrosse will take nothing less.

The CVU boys’ lacrosse team is going for their fourth championship in a row this year. For three years, they have dominated their division. They have already started gearing up to compete for the 2016 state championship.

Last year, the team struggled more than usual during the beginning of the season. The team wasn’t clicking as much as they had in the past, likely because they lost many key seniors. Similarly, this year they have lost many key defenders and some midfielders. With the potential to fill ten spots, the team could be fairly young. This could prove to be beneficial or detrimental this year depending on how well the team incorporates the new players. However, there are three four-year veterans on the team that could make it a smooth transition: Griffin DiParlo, Matt Palmer, and Dylan Schaefer.

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Half Day the Wrong Way: Dealing with Bomb Threats

Ms. Emily Pierson

A voice calls over the loudspeaker: Students please exit the building. Do not stop to grab your things. Exit immediately. Alarms begin to chime and the whole school is in chaos. Nobody knows what is going on. Out on the baseball fields there is non-stop chatter along with confusion. Police cars rush into the parking lot, sirens echoing. Another bomb threat. A few weeks earlier, families across the country stare at their TV screens, horrified at what they were seeing. It looked like a movie, but this was real. US forces moving in on two bombers who had just committed a terrorist attack. A month earlier a city (include which city at some point) known for peace and love went up in smoke as the sounds of bombs blared through the streets. A concert hall, cafes, and restaurants.

At Champlain Valley Union High School, bomb threats have become almost routine. This school year alone there have been two bomb threats, in addition to another one last year. Three bomb threats in two years is raising questions around the CVU community.

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Vamos a la Dominicana

Ms. Emily Pierson

Traveling is an opportunity sought out by almost every human being. It gives people the chance to see different parts of the world, and exposes them to new cultures, but often times people must wait until they are far into life before getting that opportunity. At Champlain Valley Union High School, students have the very unique ability to go on school trips all over the world during their high school experience.

Every other year, students in high levels of spanish are able to apply to go on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. On this trip, students work with a local organization in the Dominican Republic and build a house from the ground up with only their hands as tools. CVU teachers, Meredith Visco and Seth Jenson, chaperone the trip, taking two weeks of their time to make it possible.


Photo by Emily Pierson

According to Malina Carroll, a CVU senior who attended the trip this year, the trip to the Dominican Republic is one of the only service trips that creates the opportunity of being completely immersed in the culture. She says, “I got to feel as if I were a part of the community, and befriended so many local people which was incredible.” When asking Mason Cohn, another senior who went on the trip this year, what his greatest takeaway was, he said, “If I had to choose, it was the realization of how much of a difference I could really make. Although we only built one house, the entire community was so thankful for our presence, and that is a feeling that is irreplaceable.”

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Teaching Vermont

Mr. Adrian Walther

I didn’t know how to respond at first.  Which is a typical response, I suppose, when someone points out something that you have become comfortable enough with to take for granted.  It takes a moment to step out of your rut, routine, your body, your perspective and to see what whoever did the pointing out is seeing.  Only then, once you have comprehended that what you experience everyday may be something novel to another, once you have completed that superimposition into another’s shoes, can you generate a response.  

“Huh,” I said, eventually, eloquently.  “I guess you’re right.  This is pretty great.”

The boy that had spoken, a quiet young man with sunshine glinting off the thick black frames of his eyeglasses and fresh mud on his skate shoes, nodded his approval at my affirmation of his remark.  

“This is awesome,” he had said as he walked through the woods with his classmates and teachers, leaves, acorns, twigs snapping under our shuffling feet.  He added that he had “never done anything like this at school before.”  The month was August, the skies were clear, and the boy had arrived in Vermont only weeks before.  It was the third day of his freshman year.  Hailing from a city ten hours south and west of the forest through which he now strolled, the boy seemed to feel and resemble a city mouse freshly transplanted into the country.  As it were, he was surrounded by twenty-four country mice, two dozen fourteen year olds, most of whom had grown up locally, all of whom had clearly done this before in school.  An observer of this youthful troupe would have noticed a subtle, though not imperceptible, difference from the young man who strode alongside me to the rest of his peers.  Maybe it was his skinnier than typical jeans, the fashionable glasses, or something less tangible that set him apart. A less than easy gait through unfamiliar territory, an apprehension, or maybe, a sense of wonder absent from the rest.

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Cotopaxi Beatdown

Mr. Justin Chapman

“No, no,” Pete said to Segundo in Spanish. “I’ve known this man for eighteen years.  He’s a tough bastard.  It’s not fitness; it’s the altitude.”

I was on my knees, leaning on my ice-ax.  Sleet, wind, and freezing rain pounded down on us. I could make out the shadows of the two men in my headlamp.  It must have been about 4 AM, with the light just coming up on the glacier, but I hadn’t had the energy to pull back the cuff of my glove to check my watch for the entire three-plus hours we’d been slowly marching uphill.

“Solo faltamos trescientos metros,” Segundo said to Pete.

One tough bastard himself, our guide Segundo said we were only 300 meters from the summit.  Another hour, he said.  On the list of the many bad-asses I’ve met in my life, Segundo is at the top of the list.  He spoke in meters while I was on my knees, trying to convert meters to feet in my head.  I’m not so quick with numbers, even in the best of circumstances.  What I now know is that we were resting there, near the top of a glacier, on the side of Ecuador’s second highest peak and the world’s tallest active volcano, Cotopaxi, at about 18,300 feet.  Since I don’t have any real mountaineering ambitions, it is likely the highest I will ever go on foot.


Cotopaxi (19,347′) peeks through the clouds.

I also now know that I was experiencing altitude sickness, or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), and possibly hypoxia.  Whatever it’s called, my body was not cooperating with my brain due to a lack of oxygen.  While from the outside the symptoms look like intoxication — and actually felt like it — my brain was hyper-aware.  Though I was babbling incoherently, I remember perfectly the details from the trek, the dialogue between Segundo and Pete in that moment — and, ultimately, the decision to turn back.  Pete and I laughed later about the “eighteen years” line because it was so random and specific at the same time — and short a couple years.

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Ms. Katie Mahoney

Hinesburg, VT – High school students today know the feeling of the nervousness that bubbles up when you think about everything you need to do: college applications, AP’s, and resume-building. Now, college admissions offices have realized that they are not making the stress any better.

On January 20, 2016, “Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions” was released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in collaboration with the Making Caring Common project. The first of its kind, the report includes a list of 88 endorsers from various elite institutions and details the steps colleges can take to reduce the pressure to excessively achieve, create greater equality across socioeconomic classes, and foster a greater focus on the common good and helping others.


Donegan is freaking out.

Prior to the release of the report, several studies came out showing the severity of high school student stress. According to a 2014 American Psychological Association Stress in America report, teenagers today are more stressed out than adults. On a ten-point scale, teenagers reported their stress level at a 5.8, 0.7 higher than the average adult. “30 percent of teens reported feeling sad or depressed because of stress and 31 percent felt overwhelmed. Another 36 percent said that stress makes them tired and 23 percent said they’ve skipped meals because of it.” In a 2015 Born This Way Foundation study, 29% of students responded with “stressed” to the question, “How do you feel about school?” Furthermore, senior researcher, Noelle Leonard, of a 2015 report from the NYU College of Nursing noted that “school, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat – that’s what it can be for some of these students. We are concerned that students can get burned out even before they reach college.” Continue Reading

Aggression, Competitiveness, and My Best Self

Mr. Peter Langella

When I was a junior in high school at The Governor’s Academy (Byfield, MA), I played on one of the best hockey teams in the region. We had twelve guys go on to star in college, and we played against several teams with future NHLers and Olympians on their rosters.

I was our best defenseman, and so I was counted on to stop the other teams’ top forwards.

During a road game at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, my assignment was diminutive sniper Tim Graham.

Timmy and I had worked together as counselors at a few summer hockey schools several years before. We didn’t like each other. There wasn’t a reason for it, either. We just didn’t see eye to eye on anything; not even something simple like which pizza to order for our counselor’s lunch.


The game started without much pace, both teams doing a lot of dumping and chasing, feeling quietly for a place to break through. With a couple of minutes remaining in the first period, Graham collected the puck near center ice and came buzzing down my side of the rink. He faked inside before darting outside, trying to beat me wide with his quickness. I didn’t fall for it. I swept my stick-blade out, bumped the puck away from him, and took control of the black disc to turn on the offensive.

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CVU Expands International Travel Opportunities

Ms. Eleanor Moody

Champlain Valley Union High School has recently broadened already plentiful opportunities for students regarding international travel.  Starting in the fall of 2016, there will be four different trip destinations that students can embark on: The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Ecuador (more specifically, the Galapagos Islands), and finally, the England, Ireland, and Wales trip.  

The trip to the Dominican Republic is a Spanish immersion trip for two weeks at the end of February.  Coordinated by Meredith Visco and Seth Jenson, Spanish teachers at CVU, the two take 25 or so students.  Students apply in the Spring prior to the trip and then are required to attend monthly meetings starting in the Fall prior to the trip. When in the Dominican, students speak only Spanish and immerse themselves in a village while helping to construct a house.  Malina Carroll, a Senior at CVU, said that the trip was the best experience of her life because she improved her language skills by being able to communicate with the Dominicans.  She also went on to add that it opened up her world to an entirely new perspective by seeing the conditions and struggles that they live with.IMG_3788

The Haiti trip was just recently approved by the board at CVU.  Similarly to the trip to the Dominican, students who participate will do community service and immerse themselves in a new world that is very different from the United States.  Everyone is eager to discover the benefits of this trip and the results of bringing students to Haiti. Tamy Jo-Dickinson has been responsible for coordinating the trip.  

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