Christmas is a special time of year that most Americans celebrate, whether they are religious or not. It is all about gathering with family members, exchanging gifts, and celebrating the holiday. But for those with families living in other states, the season comes with a sense of longing to see them.
“It makes me miss them more because we haven’t seen them in a really long time,” said Evan Raynor, sophomore, whose family lives far away. This is the time of year when long-distance families struggle the most because these families are thinking about how they won’t see their relatives.
“It makes it harder on family ties, especially with those that I’m close to because they get upset that I can’t see them because we [my family] already have plans with our family that is here,” said Jasmine Patterson, junior.
The formation of holiday plans involving long distance family adds stress to an already stressful holiday. “It’s stressful, especially when they come over to our house because we have to prepare everything and make it look nice because we have guests… I’d be happy, somewhat, [if family came in] because I don’t get to see them that often, but it’d also be really stressful, so there are pros and cons to it.”
The struggle is even more apparent for families in other countries, especially countries where it isn’t always safe to go and visit because of wars or anything else that could be going on. “We’re as close as possible. I miss them and I feel bad, but at the same time safety is a really big issue,” said Diego Pacheco, senior.
Not only do they miss their families, but they more than likely miss their cultural traditions.
“Usually, when I go to El Salvador, I’ll throw fireworks, and you can’t do that here. Also, you just can’t have authentic Colombian and El Salvadorian food,” said Pacheco.
“It would be hard not to see them, honestly, because that’s the time that we catch up and talk about what happened this year, and to not have that time would be rough,” said Hayden Reed, sophomore. Unlike Pacheco’s family, a lot of families, including Reed’s, are far away, but still close enough to see each other on Christmas and maybe other holidays as well.
The most important thing for both families is to try to stay in touch this holiday season.
There are a few ways to celebrate Christmas hundreds or thousands of miles apart. It may not be the same, but any attempt at celebrating the holiday with family is a valuable experience and memory. Participating in these activities show long distance family members their on your mind during this special time of the year.
“It’s kind of a routine thing, like I’m used to it. If I was closer to them, it would be a lot harder on me. But since I know that they care and they’re there for me, it doesn’t affect me as much,” said Patterson, in response to her feelings about not seeing her family.
Calendar confusion by Regan Harsa
Everyone is sad about winter break’s unforeseen shortened length, but what about this 2016-2017 first semester exam schedule?
Compared to previous years, the semester will end on a Tuesday, with second semester beginning on Wednesday. Usually students and staff receive a long weekend after exams for everyone to recuperate and update class schedules, clean out binders and book bags, and prepare for four new classes.
Due to the complicated exam schedule, the days students will participate in class exams will fall on the 18 of January through the 24 (the 24 acting as a makeup day). The day before exams start, the 17, is a regular school day that all students are required to attend. Second semester will start on the 24, the middle of the week.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is on the Monday before exams, so students have a three day weekend to study and prepare for the long week ahead. What is unfortunate is seniors have to return to school for ONE day to continue with first semester’s school day schedule.
As we all know, seniors must attend a certain number of school days to qualify for senior exemptions. Having to come for ONE day where, most likely, teachers may have a review day planned makes the day a waste for those seniors exempt. But, seniors have to come because in some cases, that day can be the difference between a warm, cozy, bed on a Wednesday and a hard school seat.
“The State says we have the last five days of the semester. It’s not Wake County and the State, it’s if we are on a block schedule we have to use the last five days to do all your testing, regardless of holidays and vacations,” said Ms. Swann, teaching coordinator.
Everyone working in student services understands the situations presented and understands time is limited when it comes to class changes, but, “They are going to work as quickly as possible,” said Swann.
First and second period and third and fourth period exams are placed earlier on the exam schedule because a bulk of the student body will take these exams over the EOCs. This will help lessen the strain placed on student services, because once the first exams are in, the administrators will work hard to adjust student schedules as needed.
“Everybody is going to have to go by the schedule they have on that first day, and then there will be some changes– so I mean there is going to be a little bit of chaos because we don’t have that day in between,” said Swann.
Students interested in a class change: DO IT NOW!
According to Swann, “Don’t wait until January 24 to ask for a schedule change because classes are going to be priority to the kids who failed and need to restart some things.”
The end of the semester terminating in the middle of the week causes complications, like the ones presented, but Leesville’s faculty is handling it gracefully. Exam week is a tough one in general, and this year there are a few more kinks than the Leesville staff expected, but everything will work out in the end.
Good luck to both the students and staff!
Band’s annual Winter Concert by Regan Harsa
On December 9, this evening, Leesville’s auditorium will hold the Symphonic Band for their Winter Concert. The previous night, Thursday the 8, the 9th Grade and Concert Band Concert held their concerts.
Similar to our theatre department’s tireless efforts to produce the perfect show, the Symphonic Band works hard for two months practicing for two hours a day to ensure perfect symphonic cohesion.
“We have morning rehearsal most of the time from 6:45 to 7:15, so we have a half hour in the morning, and then we have our class in the afternoon, which is an hour and a half,” said Rachel McIrvin, flute player.
Like most performances, the nerves begin to show a week before the concert’s looming date. The week before is a time to finalize and work out the kinks, and the band plays the worst during this period of time and “that really scares our band director, [Ms. Montgomery],” said McIrvin.
Most of the nerves are due to the fear of imperfection. The final week of preparation is “the week that everybody is like ‘it has to be perfect or it’s wrong and we are all going down for it’,” said McIrvin.
Past performances indicate everything comes together — the hard work pays off.
The Symphonic Band collaborates with theatre’s tech group on the lighting and other special effects that wash over the stage during the performance. Although the lighting for theater is more complex than what the band is attempting to achieve, it is fun for Josh Bryant, Crew Head of Lights.
“They’ll ask us to do special effects or stuff like that, which is always fun, getting to do more interesting stuff with the lighting,” said Bryant.
This year the band has something special planned for lighting.
The Symphonic Band has played “Still Knocked” and “Sleigh Ride” since the school’s opening in 1993 lead by Mr. Dave Albert, program founder. For the piece of “Still Knocked” or “Silent Night,” the light crew will flood the stage with blue lights making the scene “eerie but still kinda warm and Christmasy,” said McIrvin.
At the end of the song, the low reeds and the low warm voices will play a note till it dies out. Along with the last note, the lights will go out, matching the musical tone created.
Teachers can go to the show for free with their complementary staff ticket. Tickets are accessible through the band director or their business manager, Kate Conrad.
“Definitely come to the concert. Some people don’t realize how much effort and time we put into it,” said McIrvin.
New human trafficking curriculum by Isabel Daumen
In October of 2015, the North Carolina Senate passed a law stating that all students in grades 7-9 must study curriculum about human trafficking. Although the bill was passed last year, it did not go into effect until the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
At Leesville, the information will be taught in Healthful Living, a class typically taken by freshmen. The new course is administered and taught by Student Services.
Jessica Huber, who works in Student Services, has taught the course to four PE classes. Huber said, “The purpose is to educate students about what human trafficking is, as well as safety measures.”
Human trafficking is defined as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited” (Merriam-Webster). Victims are often forced into involuntary labor or sexual acts.
Because the lesson may contain subject matter that parents don’t want their children exposed to, Healthful Living teachers must send home a letter or permission slip for parents to sign. The course contains a powerpoint about human trafficking, a video, and a survey.
The course not only teaches students what qualifies as human trafficking or an unhealthy relationship, but also supplies them with methods students can use to obtain help if they feel unsafe.
Huber said, “I hope that students take away the importance of being in a relationship that [they] deserve, and they recognize signs that they’re in a relationship that might not be healthy. So I think taking those precautions to know what you want and what you deserve in life are important things.”
After the lesson, both Healthful Living teachers and members of Student Services hope that students will remember the lessons.
Huber said, “If you recognize that maybe [human trafficking] is something that you’re experiencing, or you’re in a relationship that has some characteristics that are unhealthy, you’ll know how to get support.”
Hubert reached out and helped students who felt they might be in an unhealthy relationship through a survey distributed after the class. She also provided students with a hotline to call.