Disney nailed it with Moana

Moana is Disney’s most recent hit. The story is about a girl who turns her head to all opposition to run to what she felt was calling her in order to save her homeland.  She later realizes that the call she was feeling was coming from within herself.

I think that everyone should watch this movie. It was inspiring to me, even as a high schooler. Maybe this is the English nerd in me talking but the symbolism in the movie was so perfectly planned to resonate with older people, and the story was expressive enough for the message to resonate with children, even if they just understood the literal meaning. The message itself was a powerful one: When you listen to your heart, you can open yourself to your unknown potential.

As teenagers I think we get so wrapped up in things like school, extra-curriculars, relationships, friendships and college, that we forget what it’s like to chase something we’re passionate about. We smirk when we think about going with your gut or listening to your heart because doing something just to try it and see where it takes us just seems too pointless. But I think that if we took some time to think about this story, we could be surprised at how much we can learn:

The movie was about a girl who wanted to  venture far out into the ocean for no reason, other than the fact that she felt like it was calling her to save her island. She was perfectly fine where she was but she wasn’t satisfied until she went as far out as she wanted to go. Once that happened, she faced obstacles and opposition from her family but ended up doing something great by fighting the obstacles and opposition. Nothing told her to go out to sea except her heart. And when she listened to it, she was able to save a whole island. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t think with your head, but remember to listen to your heart as well. What you accomplish might surprise you.


They’re afraid of me.

I don’t blame them.

The concrete walls I built

turned them away.

They take a step forward

and I launch a fireball to their face.

Why bear the burn?

It’s easier just to run.
They retreat.




What happened to their daughter?
The sweet open book

became a cold mystery right before their eyes.

So I don’t blame them.

Because I too would be afraid

of a stranger

who was once

all I had.

Ventura brings awareness to disabled community at DD Advocacy and Awareness day

Originally published on thecspn.com

Students arounds around the state of Ohio stood up to make their voices heard, and among them was an outstanding student from Mason High School.

On March 8, senior Jose’ Ventura represented Warren County at the Developmental Disability (DD) Advocacy and Awareness Day. This annual event is funded by a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC) and was held at the Ohio statehouse. At the event, the attendees spoke to senators and heard speeches from students and from Governor John Kasich.

Ventura said the purpose of the event was to make the government aware of the importance of funding services and facilities for disabled people.

“We talked to one of the (senators) about transportation for the advocacy group,” Ventura said. “(We also talked about) people who need transportation for their disabilities and medicaid waivers.”

This is Ventura’s first year going, and he said he enjoyed seeing his peers both within and outside his group.

“It was my first time, and it was awesome to be there,” Ventura said. “Each of the counties had some people there to represent them, (and) most of the people from the advocacy group that I’m in were there.”

Ventura said one thing that inspired him was hearing about how one student was able to play guitar and show that having a disability does not put a limit on what someone can do.

“There was one boy who gave a speech who also learned to play guitar and is in a band,” Ventura said. “(He played) two songs on his guitar, but he told us how he achieved getting there. He mostly did it by himself, but he also had parent (support).”

Work Study and Transition Coordinator Keri Thompson said the underlying purpose of the event is to educate the people who can help the individuals who are disabled by providing funding.

“The purpose is just to show that people with disabilities can do anything they want to do; it’s just that they may need some support to get there,” Thompson said. “And that was the whole point: To try to make sure the policy makers and the people in charge of funding realize that those policies and that money does go to do some good things.”

Thompson said she is proud of Ventura for attending and taking initiative at the conference.

“We’re very proud of Jose’ representing us there,” Thompson said. “He did a great job, and he approached Governor Kasich on his own and said, ‘Hey can I get a picture with you?’ So that’s a pretty big deal that he actually sought him out for a picture.”

Tragedy or comedy?

We just finished reading Macbeth in English, and it made me think back to reading Romeo and Juliet last year. One of the major issues we discussed in that play was whether it was a tragedy or comedy. What is interesting to me is how one piece of writing can be rightfully argued as two genres that are about as opposite as they can be. There are plenty of essays with compelling evidence for either side even today, hundreds of years later.

We prepared for this essay with sheet that listed the elements of comedy and the elements of tragedy so we could analyze the play using those to help us make our decision. I remember having a very tough time choosing because both seemed right when I was actively searching for each element.

I do want to clarify one thing: comedy doesn’t always mean laughing until you can’t breathe, especially not in Shakespeare’s time. When people argue this play as a comedy, they are not saying that it’s comparable to modern sit-coms or comedic plays of this generation. They are analyzing the play from a technical point of view. In a tragedy, something specific usually happens to the main character, and in a comedy, something different usually happens. So even if you didn’t find Romeo and Juliet a knee slapper, you can still argue it as a comedy.

With all of that being said I think it’s really interesting how a shift in perspective can turn something from a tragedy into a comedy or vice versa. If you look at the same story from a different angle, your whole perception of it can change. With some more analyzing and my love of sit-coms, I have found that this principle holds true with a lot of comedy shows today. If you take the most basic summary of the show, and say it, it can go either way. What makes these shows funny are oftentimes the delivery of the lines and the fact that the readers know it’s a comedy. Even the shows that have jokes in their scripts and are clearly funny could be argued either way at its most basic level:

Master of None– This is a Netflix comedy created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. Oftentimes, the humor in this show is created by situational humor, rather than jokes in the script. The show does cover a lot of heavy material such as racism in the media, but the reason that people find it funny and not more like a drama is because they know it’s a comedy so the look for and pay more attention to the comedic elements rather than the serious ones. With a few tweaks in production, this is one of those shows that could easily be a drama (at least the first half of the season) because the subject matter is pretty heavy and you probably would not find very many jokes if you read the script–it’s all about the way the script was delivered.

The next shows I am going to talk about don’t follow that format, but I still think it’s interesting how the one-sentence idea of the show can be read different ways, even though it is not directly related to my point about Shakespeare. Just read:

Speechless–An ABC comedy created by Scott Silveri. This is about a boy who has a mental disorder that costs him the ability to speak. The show focuses on how he lives his life without speaking, and how his family tries to help him.

The Office (American version)–An NBC comedy adapted for American TV by Greg Daniels (originally on BBC created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant). This is essentially about a boss at a paper company who desperately wants to befriend his employees and fit in with everyone at his office. Once he leaves the show, it becomes about employees living their lives at a paper company.

The Mindy Project–A formerly FOX and currently Hulu comedy created by Mindy Kaling. This show is about an Ob/Gyn who is single and desperately trying to settle down, find love, and get married.

This probably isn’t profound at all–just something that is hitting me right now. But if you read what each show is about, it does not sound like a comedy. Speechless and The Mindy Project sound like dramas, and The Office sounds sad and kind of boring (which is so hard for me to write because it is my favorite show of all time). But they are all hilarious. The Office and The Mindy Project has scripts that will make you laugh out loud because of the amount of jokes in them, and Speechless has funny scripts but a lot of what makes it funny is the stage direction and the delivery of the lines.

I even remember watching a panel discussion of The Mindy Project because I love the show, and the cast went down the line and talked about their favorite romantic comedies. I found it funny how a cast member would sometimes name a film, and someone else would argue it as a drama, because they focused on different aspects of the movies and looked for different elements of “tragedy” and comedy. The same movie, with a different perspective, can be taken in such different ways, even when we are given more than just the script. Maybe it’s just the writer in me, but I find it fascinating.


Pasta for pennies campaign continues; Nerf Madness raises money for cause

(Originally published on thecspn.com)

Forget about March madness, Nerf Madness is where everyone’s at.

On February 10, Mason students gathered in the Mason Intermediate 45 gym for National Honor Society’s annual event Nerf Madness to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Co-advisor Sheila Nimer said that this is their third year doing Nerf Madness, which was created by Connor McCormic, Jackson Brown, Sam Wendell, Dylan Bryant, Carver Nabb, and Connor Bryan.

Nimer said that this event raises money for a good cause in an interesting and fun way.

“I just think it’s a different way to get groups of people together and just another way to raise money for a great cause,” Nimer said. “Instead of asking for donations, it’s having fun, but the money goes to something near and dear to our hearts in Mason.”

NHS President Nathan Rodrigues said that they beat their turnout goal of 50 teams and beat last year’s total of $2,200.

“We had 75 teams, which is the most we’ve had ever,” Rodrigues said. “We’ve already exceeded everything we’ve done in the past, and we’re really excited about it.”

Junior Naren Singh said that he’s excited to compete with the school in a fun way after all of the work done during the school day.

“It’s a pretty big event,” Singh said. “So being able to compete in groups and having so much fun on a Friday while still doing schoolwork is pretty cool.”

Junior Lorayne Perez said that she and her friends are excited to try something new and become closer as a group.

“(We’re excited) for the new experience and to be closer and have more fun as a group,” Perez said.

Perez said that she was surprised to see that some of the people at the event were not high schoolers.

“I thought there were going to be less people,” Perez said. “I thought it was going to be just high school, so it’s a lot of people.”

Rodrigues said that he enjoys seeing the community come together and have fun while still supporting an important cause.

“My favorite part of Nerf Madness is getting to see the entire community come out and have fun while the money goes for a good cause,” Rodrigues said. “Basically anyone coming from the intermediate school all the way up to senior year (can come).”

Through determination and hardwork, bowler turns passion into successful career

For one Comet, bowling was once a mere hobby, but now, it is a career that is getting him noticed.

Junior Evan Haas is a varsity bowler on the Mason High School bowling team. Ranked second in Southwest Ohio, Haas has consistently averaged scores in the upper 200 range. Haas said family has well as his coach were big influences on his bowling career.

“My dad is the biggest one,” Haas said. “My uncle was also a bowler, and they’re both brothers. My bowling coach now, Joe Riestenberg, is also very influential to me because of how he’s brought me up and how I’ve always talked with him, and he’s been my friend for a while.”

Haas has memories of bowling with his dad when he was younger and said those memories inspired him to continue with bowling.

“I chose bowling because my dad was bowler,” Haas said. “I’ve always gotten up on Sundays and went bowling with him ever since I was three, so I just worked my way into it and kept on practicing, and that’s why I’m here now. He taught me how to do things and how to focus, and he was really the only coach I had ever had, so I had to learn on my own.”

Through being on varsity, Haas said he has learned more about the team aspect of bowling.

“Bowling is more of a team sport than anyone ever thinks,” Haas said. “Yeah, your scores get put into a website every time you go, but you have to have the rest of your team doing well and behind your back, so you don’t have to worry about anything else, and you can eventually win.”

Haas has gotten offers from colleges to bowl. While this makes continuing his bowling career after high school a possibility, Haas said he does not know whether or not this is something he will pursue.

“I’m still deciding between bowling and baseball, but I do have an offer to bowl at Wright State University, which is number three in the country,” Haas said. “I’m still thinking about it. I’m a junior, so I still have time to really figure out what I want to do, but it’s definitely an option for me.”

Haas admitted bowling does have it’s rough patches but said that even those can be equated with learning experiences.

“My favorite (memory) would be my 300 with my team watching and cheering me on,” Haas said. “My least favorite one was (when) I bowled one of my lowest games ever as freshman, because I just didn’t know what was going on. My teammates, the seniors, helped me through (and told me) that’s not really the end of the world because I got one low score.”

To young bowlers, Haas said not to be discouraged by initial low scores or afraid to get help from people.

“Once you start, you’re not going to be a professional or anything,” Haas said. “(Your scores) are going to start off low and occasionally get higher and higher, until you’re probably pretty good. I wouldn’t be afraid to get help from anyone, because everyone’s there to help you.”

Haas said that people should not underestimate bowling, because it is more fun than it looks.

“It’s a lot more fun than everyone thinks,” Haas said. “As you get better and better, it gets more and more fun, because you can show-off a bit as you’re practicing, because no one really knows how good you are until you go and show them, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Pasta for Pennies campaign continues; collection week gears up

The school is rallying together to save lives.

National Honor Society will be raising money February 6-10 during the Pasta for Pennies Class Collections campaign. While it is only the society’s 16th year doing the fundraiser, Mason High School has been doing class collections for over 20 years. Co-advisor Barb Shuba said proceeds from the week’s competition go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for childhood cancer research.

“Everything that we generate goes back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma organization, which is to promote childhood cancer education and research, ” Shuba said. “(Class collections) pit class against class, and the winning class gets and Olive Garden luncheon. The main reason for that is that the owner of Olive Garden’s son or daughter has Leukemia, and that’s his way of giving back to the organization.”

Every year, Shuba said students and faculty donate approximately $30,000 throughout the entire Pasta for Pennies campaign. Last year, NHS was able to raise over $60,000, but almost half of the proceeds came from their Lip Dub, which brought in donations from outside sources, including other countries, but Shuba said the society will not have the Lip Dub as a source of donations this year.

Co-advisor Deedee Messer said they don’t set dollar amount goals for fundraisers like this, because they do not want to take away from its underlying purpose.

“We never have a dollar amount (goal), because we never want to focus on the money as the main reason behind what we’re doing,” Messer said. “We tell the kids that we just want all of our events to be successful, we want students to have fun that are participating in those events, and whatever dollar amount we come up with is what we come up with that year.”

Senior co-chair Sharanya Vojjala said the money from last year was able to save a life, and she hopes that the app created last year will help bring in proceeds this year.

“Last year with the money that we got, we saved one kid’s life with the money that we raised, ” Vojjala said. “This year we have an app that students can download to check their standings and download on the website. It’ll just help our school in the competition (and raise more money for)  cancer research.”

Senior Emily Wang said the Pasta for Pennies app compiles information from a server into a database and displays it so students can see where their classes and pods stand in the competition.

“The app pulls all the information from a server, and what I have to do daily is update the information for how much money each teacher or classroom raised,” Wang said. “From there, (the database) compiles the information into how much each pod makes and that kind of stuff, and the app pulls all the information from the server and shows you.”

Wang said that the competition aspect that the app adds to the fundraiser will encourage student donations.

“It does act as a motivator for people who are donating because they can see (other classes) and be like ‘Oh wait, I want to beat that class,’” Wang said. “(It’s used to help students) donate more by making it a competition.”

Vojjala said she is most excited to hear how much of an impact the proceeds will make and to see NHS members and students come together to support a good cause.

“I’m really excited because the whole school comes together for a really good cause,” Vojjala said. “It’s really great to see all these NHS members going out to each of the classrooms, and all of these kids are really excited to donate. After seeing the end result, they tell us how all the money helped people, and it’s really neat to see all of that.”