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

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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.”

New courses coming to 2017-18 school year

Mason High School’s course catalog is getting upgraded.

Changes in the course catalog this year include the addition of classes such as Filmmaking, Advanced Placement Comparative Government, and Engineering in our World. Assistant Principal Shanna Bumiller said courses such as Engineering in our World will give students a taste of a potential career in engineering.

“I think (many) kids are interested in going into engineering,” Bumiller said. “And we currently saw that as a gap. We don’t have an engineering course here at the high school. This is really meant to be an introductory course where kids say, ‘I want to go into engineering,’ but they really don’t know what that means, or all the fields that are in engineering. (This course would) give kids a broad survey of all the different types of engineering (and) peak their curiosity.”

Sophomore Corinne Mattingley said Filmmaking would allow students interested in video editing, writing, and acting to practice everything at one time.

“There’s an element of writing, with an element of technology, and a little bit of acting too,” Mattingley said. “So it’s kind of a combination of all three things. You can take a class where you learn how to edit videos, you can take an acting class, and you can take a writing class, but there’s not really a class where you can combine all three.”

Junior Seth Gerus said AP Comparative Government would allow students to deeply analyze America’s government and make connections about the world.

“I think it would be a great class, just so people know what’s going on in the world,” Gerus said. “So many people have so little knowledge on what’s happening outside of the U.S. and think that we live in a vacuum, but really, the U.S. is how it is because of how we interact with the rest of the world. You would not only learn about foreign governments and what goes on in their own countries, but how it affects America.”

Another change for next year pertains to AP Biology and AP Chemistry. Both of these courses next year will take up less space the students’ schedules. Bumiller said that one of the goals for this change is to make sure that only the students truly interested in science take the AP courses.

“We want students to pick (AP courses) because that’s where their passion lies,” Bumiller said. “We don’t want students to take it because it’s one and a half weighted credit, and if that causes a decrease in enrollment because kids looked at that as a pathway to increase their GPA, then so be it.”

Freshman Alishaan Ali plans to take AP Chemistry next year and he is concerned about learning the material in enough time.

“My main concern is (getting through) all of those labs,” Ali said. “And (if it is) going to become even a lot more work than it was this year.”

AP Biology teacher Elizabeth Coleman said that the AP Biology and Chemistry teachers are trying to make up with the substantial loss of time due to the course changes to make sure that the students benefit and all specific course requirements are met.

“Losing 100 minutes every week is going to be huge, because if you multiply that over the 36 weeks of the school year, that’s going to be a lot of lost time,” Coleman said. “So things have to be adjusted, and we’re working with the administration too, to see what’s best not just for students, not just for the whole building, but looking at some of the things going on that are unique to AP Bio and AP Chem.”

Coleman said that adjustments made for next year such as a proposed new schedule will help students stay more focused on each of their classes, and make their day less chaotic.

“The brain’s not really meant to stay engaged that often (seven times) throughout the day, and changing it that frequently,” Coleman said. “I’m hoping that with this change, what will be nice about it is that students can focus on a few of their classes, at least a couple days a week.”

Students awarded for work in Scholastic Art and Writing competition

These young artists have once again proven their talent on a grand scale.

The Scholastic Art and Writing awards released their 2017 art winners and this year, 38 artists from Mason High School won Gold Keys, Silver Keys, and Honorable Mentions.

Digital Image Design and Photography teacher Tina Roberts said that the number of students entered in the competition was lower than in previous years.

“(The amount of winners) was about the same,” Roberts said. “Although, I think we entered a little less this year than we have in past years.”

There are three regional awards a piece can win, and the highest scoring pieces move on to be judged nationally, Roberts said.

“Basically, there’s a gold key, a silver key, and an honorable mention,” Roberts said. “They get the key awards at the Regional level and at the National level they get the medals, and they get an actual medal. All of pieces that got gold key will then go on to national level judging.”

This is senior Emma Morrissey’s second year in the competition. She along with Lauren Fournier, Tasha Norris, and Jenny Wan earned gold keys this year. Morrissey said that she prepared long in advance and was excited to win awards again this year.

“I was really excited this year,” Morrisey said. “I knew (the awards were) coming and as soon as I got home from New York, (last year’s nationals) I was like ‘I want to do this again next year,’ so I got all of my pieces together. I submitted 10 in total and four of them won (awards).”

Morrissey said that she chose pieces to submit based on results from the previous year.

“You have to think about the judges, and pieces that won last year,” Morrissey said. “They like traditional work, but they also go for the oddball style, or something that’s kind of unique or provokes thought. (There are) a lot of applications of creativity that you normally wouldn’t see.”

Arts and creativity lost in shift to STEM

Originally published in the November 18, 2016 edition of The Chronicle.

Calculators instead of clarinets, Einstein instead of Shakespeare, systems instead of sonnets. Do you see a trend here?  It seems that in the push to expose students to more science and technology related education, the result could be a decreased emphasis on art and creativity.

STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is a buzzword around the Mason City School District, but research shows that the arts provide students with a skill set that helps them excel farther academically.

Dana Arts and Cognition Consortium, a philanthropic organization conducting brain research, conducted a study in March 2008 that examined the effects of music education on attention and test scores.

The scientists took a group of 88 three to five- year-olds and collected their baseline test scores.They split the students up and engaged one group in music-related activities daily for eight weeks.They found that this group had significantly higher test scores in the non-verbal, spatial, and numeracy sections of an IQ test.

Senior Faith Kim has done Science Olympiad and taken multiple advanced science classes, and she said that the skills gained from playing the cello and making visual art has helped her to think more creatively.

“Doing art helps you to be more creative,” Kim said. “Creative thinking and problem solving, especially because those are huge aspects when you are making a piece of art, I think it transcends all subjects. Especially (with science) where problem solving and finding ways to solve your problems are a huge part of it.”

Kim said this is especially evident in physics.

“With physics, which I am taking right now, the problems that we have to do require a lot of thinking and thinking in different ways,” Kim said. “(We use) a lot of formulas to try and solve a problem, and I think being able to think creatively helps with that.”

Language Arts teacher and Speech and Debate adviser Melissa Donahue said the arts provide students with skills vital to success in STEM fields.

“Speech and debate, from an artistic standpoint, carries over to the STEM areas,” Donahue said. “I have many students that really develop analytical skills, (and) critical thinking skills, that I know you certainly would need to use in the STEM fields as well. In fact, many of the people who are in Speech and Debate or take (it) as an elective typically go on to fields like medicine or engineering.”

Even work done behind the scenes in the artistic fields prepares students for many types of careers, Donahue said.

“You may think of Speech and Debate as something that’s going to involve more of your public speaking skills and performing in front of an audience,” Donahue said. “(But) there’s a lot of behind the scenes work and preparation I would imagine a lot of science, math, (and) technology majors also use on a daily basis.”

The arts provide students with additional skill sets that they would lack with just math and science, Donahue said.

“I think it’s that idea of having that confidence or communicating in front of others,” Donahue said. “Learning the social aspect of it, beyond just the intellectual or the educational aspect of it, I think it’s that social component, and the idea to be able to empathize or sympathize with others (that) an arts education or focus is certainly going to help you excel in that area.”

While Donahue said she understands the focus on STEM, the arts are not receiving as much credit as they should be.

“(It’s) almost as if we maybe belittle an arts education,” Donahue said. “(We) think that something like Speech and Debate, or performance types of courses, or music, or art education is less important because of the big push to science and math, so in some cases, we might gloss over (the arts).”

Science teacher Joseph Schnell said there is a connection between the arts and STEM that helps stimulate more parts of the brain.

“There have been a lot of studies done that the arts, such as music, stimulate the parts of your brain that relate to STEM,” Schell said. “And I think having a wide body of knowledge allows you to make more connections than you might otherwise be able to (make).”

Such studies include one from the University of Utah in which scientists analyzed more than 1,000 brain scans of people ages seven to 29 in order to better understand lateralization: the preference to use a certain side of the brain over the other, Live Science, a science news website, said.

They analyzed more than 7,000 regions of the brain when the test subjects were at rest and concluded that on average there was an equal number of neural connections on each side of the brain. The results debunk the myth that one side of the brain is predominantly used for creativity and the other for logic.

Potential modifications to STEM would be more beneficial to students, Schnell said.

“There’s been a lot of emphasis (on) trying to change from STEM to STEAM,” Schnell said. “It’s basically, science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, and including (arts) as a piece and sort of wrapping them all together. I think that is a more beneficial and worthwhile approach.”

Schnell said an understanding of one field, such as science, makes another, such as music, easier.

“They sort of feed each other,” Schnell said. “If I say that it changes pitch from high to low, that’s a change in frequency as well. It allows me to better understand what frequency means in a context that I’ve experienced before.”

Many people assume that they can only excel in one aspect of academics, Schnell said.

“I think a lot of people just identify one thing that they’re good at and they sort of shut out all the others,” Schnell said. “I don’t think that’s a great approach. A lot of times, problems that you are trying to tackle can be benefited from looking at it from a different perspective.”

An open mind will help students better see the connection between both fields, Kim said.

“Just (be) open-minded and try to see the relationships between the two because they’re everywhere,” Kim said. “I don’t think you should limit STEM and say ‘Art doesn’t go there,’ and I don’t think you should limit art by saying science can’t be involved in it.”

Exercises linked to stress relief and relaxation

Originally published in the December 16, 2016 edition of The Chronicle.

Yoga is more than trees and sun salutations.

A study done at the Ohio State University and later published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology said that yoga reduces inflammation and fatigue, as well as the risk of diseases such as heart disease and arthritis.

Senior and Yoga Club founder Nealofar Madani said that yoga has been beneficial to her in multiple ways.

“I’m noticing more flexibility (and) more balance,” Madani said. “I feel like (I have) more control and more awareness of my body, mind, and thoughts.”

Senior and former Drishtiq Yoga employee Maddy Walouke said taking up yoga can help students practice concentrating their focus on a single task.

“It’s getting harder and harder for teenagers to focus on one thing mindfully,” Walouke said. “I feel like yoga is a really good way to practice and to exercise your mind to only focus on one thing. In doing that, it can help you be more mindful in the future in other things you’re doing.”

Madani said students can use yoga to counteract daily chaos and stresses.

“Especially for students, I know that there’s so much stress because of school and AP classes and standardized tests, as well as life in general,” Madani said. “It’s a great way to release stress in a healthy way and stay positive.”

Walouke said physical contact athletes participate in yoga to safely recover from an injury.

“In my experience, a lot of people start coming to yoga because they have some sort of pain,” Walouke said. “They’re athletes, they have some sort of injury that is not allowing them to do what they need to do, and yoga is a really good tool for healing and exercising those injuries in a really safe and healthy way instead of getting back on their feet and continuing because that would make the injury worse.”

Senior football player Josh Stewart said the football team uses yoga to properly recover after games.

“With the football team, we use yoga to our advantage for recovery after games,” Stewart said. “After games, we get in there Saturday mornings and we do our lift and we do yoga. It’s just to stretch us out and get all the lactic acid out of our muscles so that way we can recover faster.”

There has been a significant reduction in muscle soreness after starting yoga, Stewart said.

“I definitely see benefits just with the amount of soreness after games,” Stewart said. “We didn’t do yoga last season and I was sore all the time. This season we started doing it Saturdays and it’s made a big difference in my level of soreness.”

Bethesda Certified Athletic Trainer Kim Joest said that yoga is beneficial to athletes because it creates more flexible muscles that can easily remove lactic acid.

“Lactic acid builds up in the muscle,” Joest said. “We always describe it as dirty water–we want to get it out. By stretching and gaining flexibility helps get that back into the system so then it can be flushed out from your body.”

Madani said it’s advantageous for beginners to start simple.

“I would definitely say to start with beginner classes and move up,” Madani said. “There are so many opportunities for yoga. Start easy; don’t push yourself. It’s really cool to build–you’ll eventually be able to do poses you never thought you could do.”

Students should make their health more of a priority and take action to maintain it, Walouke said.

“A lot of students put their health as secondary, when your health is so important,” Walkouke said. “Students should be investing more time than they already are in things like yoga. That is going to make your mind work more efficiently as well.”