‘McFarland, USA’ tells inspirational true story of underdog track team

  “McFarland, USA” shows Disney’s ability to take a true story and transform it into something meaningful for viewers.

The movie opens when Jim White, played by Kevin Costner, moves with his family to the poor, largely Mexican-American town called McFarland when he loses his previous job as a football coach.

He gets a new job at McFarland High school teaching P.E. and a science class.

White learns that high school boys in McFarland have to work in the fields to support their families, and he notices that they have developed fitness from running to and from school as well as from working in the fields. He therefore decides to start a cross-country team that helps the teenagers free themselves from their difficult lives.

The team encounters many obstacles in the sport that is predominantly run mostly by wealthier white schools.

Although the film follows the predictable underdog sports movie theme, director Niki Caro still manages to keep viewers interested.

She incorporates comedy into the movie to give it the light tone of a typical Disney movie, often humorously portraying at the family and food-oriented Mexican culture.

Sub-plots within the film help to excite the audience. The movie is not entirely about the cross-country but also about the lives of the team members within the poor agricultural town.

The acting in the film is satisfactory; however, it is Kevin Costner who brings the film to life.

His sincere performance in the role of the relentlessly determined coach entertains viewers while keeping emotionally invested.

The film also includes a strong performance from Carlos Pratts, who plays Thomas, the top runner on the team. Although Pratts is not a well-known actor, his ability to put emotion into his role enhances the film.

While the plot line for the movie may not be anything outside of the typical sports film, the underlying themes of racial and economic inequality within sports shine through to differentiate it from the rest.

“McFarland, USA” is rated PG by the MPIAA for violence and harsh labor conditions.


Students represent Manchester Essex at All-State Concert

By Maura McCormick:

Junior Sara Rhuda and senior Tucker Evans took part in the All-State concert at Symphony Hall on Mar. 21.

The performance required two days of preparation. Rhuda and Evans left school early Thursday morning and practiced all day at the World Trade Center in Boston on Thursday and Friday.

According to Rhuda, the practices took all day with a few short breaks.

“The rehearsal schedule was strenuous, but our director was very understanding and gave us 20-minute breaks when he felt we needed them,” she said.

The director of the concert this year was Rollo Dilworth, a professor of choral music education and chair of the Department of Music Education and Therapy at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia. 150 of his compositions and arrangements have been published, as well as various books about choral singing.

“He is basically famous in the choral world,” Rhuda said.

Evans, who has now attended three All-States concerts, said Dilworth was his favorite conductor.

Choral director Donna O’Neill was also impressed with the director.

“Hearing high school students perform at that level under the leadership of such phenomenal talent is tremendously gratifying. I am so happy that some of our students get that opportunity,” O’Neill said.

The chorus performed five different pieces, one of which was composed by Dilworth himself.

“The repertoire was unbelievably challenging and extraordinarily well-done,” O’Neill said.

Rhuda said the music was more complex than the music she is used to in chorus class.

“There were a lot of weird rhythms and phrases that were extremely difficult and required intense focus and practice,” Rhuda said.

Evans said the more challenging music forces the group to work harder but also makes the experience more fun.

Rhuda and Evans also brought warm-ups and techniques they learned at All-States back to the high school chorus, according to O’Neill.

Rhuda said her favorite part of the experience was meeting new people with similar interests.

“Everyone at All States was extremely kind, and I felt so lucky to be able to bond with them over the fantastic music we were singing,” she said.

Upcoming choral and band events at the high school include the Spring Concert on April 16 and A Cappella Night April 27.

O’Neill stressed that she hopes to see a lot of students going out to support the chorus and Soundwaves.


Daylight saving time increases health risks, harms public safety

Daylight Saving Time may conserve energy, but its negative impacts on health and safety outweigh the benefits.

According to timeanddate.com, “The purpose of daylight saving is to save energy and make better use of daylight.”

Timeanddate.com also reports that the practice of daylight saving has been around for 100 years, and was previously intended to maximize the use of sunlight, which was more effective than candlelight.

The electricity that daylight savings conserves, however, is cancelled out by the consequential increase in air-conditioning due to warmth later in the evening.

Even if daylight saving time saves energy in some locations, the drawbacks of losing an hour are impossible to overlook.

Daylight saving time negatively affects the quality and amount of sleep people get.

According to a study published in Neuroscience Letters, “After the transition, sleep time was shortened by 60.14 min [per day] and sleep efficiency was reduced by 10% on average.”

Till Roenberg, a researcher at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich said told ABC News that people’s bodies never fully adjust to the change.

“The circadian clock does not change to the social change,” he said.

Daylight saving time also has more serious health risks related to it than just sleep deprivation.

According to a study done by the University of Alabama, the amount of heart attacks on the Monday and Tuesday after daylight saving time increases by 10%.

Daylight saving time also causes safety problems.

It increases the number of car accidents in the time period following the switch due to drowsiness.

According to telegram.com, “The Fatal Accident Reporting System found a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after the shift.”

Accidents within the workplace that result in injury are also more frequent directly following the change.

Reliableplant.com reports that in a study performed based on U.S Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration, data showed “a 5.7% increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68 percent more work days lost to injuries [after daylight saving time.]”

In recent years more and more countries and states are choosing to end the implementation of daylight saving time.

According to National Geographic, Japan, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and most of Arizona will not be changing their clocks.


Faculty encourage females to take part in STEM classes and programs

In an effort to reduce the gap between men and women in the sciences, faculty members encourage female students to go into scientific programs and classes.

Julia Whitten, a senior who hopes to study neuroscience, said she notices that there are far fewer females in her scientific courses and programs than males.

She was the only female member of the robotics team up until this year and is the only female currently enrolled in ASR 2.

Principal Patricia Puglisi said she notices less female students in classes such as AP Physics or Computer Science.

To promote the field of science, every year a woman in a scientific profession comes and talks to students who are interested.

Puglisi said the school is partnering with Applied Materials, a manufacturing company in Gloucester, to try to encourage females to go into Engineering.

“We unfortunately had a snow day and missed the opportunity to have a panel of woman engineers come and talk about their experience in the engineering and computer science and present to students what offerings we do have here at the high school,” she said.

Puglisi hopes to reschedule this event for some time in the spring.

Science teacher Maria Burgess said she and other teachers try to demonstrate that women can be successful in scientific fields.

“In my and Ms. Everett’s classes, we particularly note the contributions of current and past woman scientists in our bio topics,” she said.

Laurel Edington, a former graduate of Manchester and biology major and chemistry minor at Colby College, said her high school teachers supported her decision to pursue science.

“They always pushed me to succeed, helped me obtain internships, and each one took the time outside of class to talk to me about my career aspirations and offered any advice or help they could,” she said.


Unusual amounts of snow warrant disposal on Singing Beach

Although it may receive criticism for its environmental harms, disposing of snow on Singing Beach in extreme cases, such as this winter, is a necessary action.

The excessive snow this year caused many problems for Manchester.

Students cannot walk to school because of covered sidewalks, causing lines of traffic to get to school in the morning. This issue has pushed the start time of school instruction back around 15 minutes most mornings.

The snow also affected commutes for residents by negatively impacting the train system and the conditions of roads.

Drivers have difficulty looking around snow banks when making turns and passing other cars on narrow snow-lined streets.

The unsafe conditions on roads also affect the safety of runners on the track team, who use the roads to train.

“[Running] is definitely more dangerous. Exiting streets and taking turns on the roads can be blind for cars, which means we have to be very careful. Running on snow also allows for slipping, which could lead to injury,” senior captain Olivia Lantz said.

Most years, the snow has been placed in the Singing Beach parking lot.

“Many times the lot has been two-thirds full or three-fourths full, with some parking still available,” Tom Kehoe, chairman of the Board of Selectmen said in an email.

This year, however, the Singing Beach parking lot is full, as well as most of the Masconomo lot. Because of this, the town was forced to place snow on Singing Beach, where the tide can wash it away.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the environmental issue with disposing of snow on the beach is that it is not just snow, but also dirt, trash, and pollutants that are swept up with it. However, the town worked to minimize this negative effect.

“The snow disposed of on the beach was clean.  There was very little salt or sand in this snow, and it had not sat long in areas where it picked up heavy metals or other contaminants from vehicles,” Carol Murray, the department of public works director, said in an email.


gymnastics cooperative team with Hamilton Wenham is preparing to improve last year’s record

The gymnastics cooperative team with Hamilton Wenham is preparing to improve last year’s record of 1-8 by at least one win.

“The season is off to a busy start,” said coach Elliot Davis.

“This year we have a lot of first-time members on the team so we hope to build a strong foundation for future seasons,” he said.

Senior Lizzie Ranger said her biggest goal for the team is to create unity and to increase participation of team members.

The junior varsity members on the team only practice and do not compete, but Ranger said they are still essential members of the team.

Ranger said she hopes the “JV kids from last year move up to varsity and get to showcase all their hard work at meets.”

“My biggest goal for us for the season is to make sure that everyone gets to compete and show off what they have learned regardless of their skill level,” she said.

Ranger’s individual goal is to “improve her records from last year.”

She said she has been working on routines and skills and is excited about displaying them this season.

Other members who are expected to excel this year are Hamilton Wenham senior captains Olivia Young and Caroline Kerringan, as well as Hamilton Wenham seniors Kirstie Keith and Phoebe Hagberg.

Students from Manchester Essex who are on the team this year had to have been on the team in previous years. The co-op is no longer open to new members.

The team’s first competition will be on January second and will take place in Winchester.

Word count: 260

Gymnastics team hopes to improve participation and better last year’s record

Manchester Essex coop with Hamilton Wenham looks to improve record


Robotics By the Sea starts season off with a win at its first competition

Robotics By the C took first place in the Savage Soccer Robotics Tournament at the Worchester Polytechnic Institute.

The tournament, which took place on Nov.15, included 48 teams total from all over New England.

The school’s team began meeting in early November to put the robot together.

Each team was given a kit of materials to use to construct the robot.

Robots had to pick up Ping-Pong balls and place them in sloped tubes. They could also lift the tube to a steeper angle.

The winner of each round had to have the highest positioned Ping-Pong ball in the tube.

Robots were rewarded with additional balls for accomplishing certain other tasks as well.

For example, if the robot placed a large cube in a certain section of the field, the team would receive an additional four balls in its tube.

If the robot knocked over the ball dispenser, the team would receive one additional ball.

Senior captain Sam Creighton described the team’s approach to the challenge.

“We decided to do it in large loads. We spent a lot of time trying to make it a very fluid design where things happened quickly but also with control,” he said.

The team chose only to focus on moving the balls to the tube, rather than using the alternative methods to gain balls.

The robot the constructed was “about the size of a sheet of paper,” according to senior captain Julia Whitten.

Whitten said alliances are a key factor in robotics competitions.

Each round consists of two alliances: the red team and the blue team. Each alliance has three teams from different schools, but in each round only two of those teams compete.

Each team is on the randomly selected alliance for the qualifier rounds. They then move on to elimination rounds, during which teams can choose new alliances.

“We’ll keep a list of robots that failed in certain rounds and robots that were less reliable to get an idea of what kind of alliance we want to form,” Whitten said.

The team also made two different robots to allow for as many people to be involved in construction as possible.

Team adviser Joseph McDonough said that getting new members more involved is one of the team’s key goals for the season.

Whitten said the tournament served as a great “introduction for the new kids.”

She said this small-scale tournament provided the perfect opportunity to teach new members how tournaments work without overwhelming them.

The Savage Soccer tournament was a smaller precursor to the final tournament of the season that the team will begin preparing for in January.