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The Southern Bell
The Southern Bell

Fall 2023 Edition

200 Views | Published December 21, 2023 | Edited December 21, 2023

The Southern Bell

The Southern Bell - Writers

Interview with South's Principal Mr. Swinson

(Madeleine Fryling and Dash Alschuler-Peirce) —

Senior editors of The Southern Bell, Madeleine Fryling and Dash Alschuler-Peirce, sat down with new South principal, Mr. Swinson, to discuss his past experiences, educational philosophies, and his plans for the upcoming years. 

Dash: What is on your main agenda for the coming years? 
Mr. Swinson: It is always best that a new principal wait to hear from students, their parents/guardians, teachers, and other school stakeholders before deciding what will be on the agenda for this year and future years. There are a few initiatives that the District is currently undertaking, and my job will be to become familiar with these new initiatives so the needed work can be implemented in a way that compliments the work that teachers are already doing.     

Maddy: One special aspect of the South community is our diversity. How will you in the coming 
years emphasize and facilitate this diversity? 
Mr. Swinson: Diversity should be seen as a strength and an asset.  If it is not leveraged appropriately, learning opportunities can be wasted.  Our diversity allows us to learn from and support each other as well as offers us creative opportunities to solve complex issues.  As Principal, it will be one of many tasks that I have to inform, and educate students and the community about what the benefits of diversity. 

Dash: What catalyzed your interest in Valley Stream South? 
Mr. Swinson: I was very much attracted to Valley Stream because it reminds me of Bay Shore, the community in which I grew up, 28 exits to the east off of Southern State Parkway.  In addition, my connections to the community shared with me how wonderful the students, families, and teaching staff are in Valley Stream South HS.  All of this sparked my interest to follow up and apply for the vacant high school principal position.   

Maddy: What is your personal philosophy on teaching and how does that affect your view of the role 
of principal and administration within a school? 
Mr. Swinson: My philosophy of education is a basic principal that stems from building relations with students and their families.  The best way to appeal to anyone, especially a student is to demonstrate that you are an authentic, curious, and an interested adult in their life that cares about their development and well-being. Students won't care what you know until they know that you care.  Additionally, all students thrive to be seen, heard, and celebrated and the key is to constantly make sure South students are being showcased for their accomplishments. 

Dash: Having worked in another school district on Long Island, how does Valley Stream South 
differ from your past experiences? 
Mr.Swinson: Without question, Valley Stream uses more data and research to impact teaching and learning.  Their are many teachers that sit on various committees that assist in guiding the work that is taking place related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  I have never worked at a school where this type of meaning work is taking place.  I have also never worked in a district where the School Superintendent and BOE have shared such a committment in making sure teachers and administrators get what they need in order to carry out the diversity, equity, and inclusion work.  While the initial work could seem new, daunting, and challenging, it's work that will positively impact teaching and learning, and ultimemately good for all students.   

Maddy: How do you hope to counteract the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the quality 
of education and assist the transition back into the typical learning style? 
Mr. Swinson: There's no doubt that tremendous instructional time and learning loss took place as a result of the pandemic.  We have to get students back into a pre-pandemic rhythm and remind them of all the fun that takes place inside of our school.  We have close to 30 clubs and activities.  There is a club or activity for everone and if not, a sport.  At the same time, we are very familiar with the trauma that students have faced as a result of Covid as they may have lost a loved one.  It's quite possible these students could still be hurting and so it will be important to constantly check in with these students and their families to make sure they have what they need to be successful and affirmed in school.  

A special thank you to Mr. Swinson for taking time out of his day to partake in this interview, 
and the Southern Bell wishes him luck in the upcoming school year!

Southern Bell's Editors in Chief Give Advice for 7th Graders

(Jasmine Persaud) —

I had the chance to speak with our 2023-2024 Senior Editors in Chief: Dash Alschuler-Pierce, Fabia Khandaker, and Madeleine Fryling as they reflected on advice that they would tell the current seventh graders today!


What do you wish you had known when you were in 7th grade?

“I wish I had known I was capable of anything.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“I wish I had known what a supportive school system South has- there are teachers and upperclassmen that are all willing and able to help students with any problem they may have.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“I wish I knew that I didn't have to be in every class with my friends to still maintain friendships. Clubs are a great space to hang out with and make new friends.” -Madeleine Fryling


Do you have any regrets about when you were in 7th grade?

“I regret not joining a sport. I never did sports because I was so busy with other things, but exercise and utilizing what the school offers in terms of athletics is super important.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“I regret not joining enough clubs in 7th grade- although I got involved later on in my time at South, I wasn't involved in 7th grade- which would have been nice to create more friends and find which activities I enjoy from a young age.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“I regret taking my homework so seriously. Homework should be used as an opportunity to practice and learn from your mistakes-- it doesn't have to be perfect!” -Madeleine Fryling


What advice would you give to a 7th grader?

“I would tell a 7th grader to start a good relationship with their guidance counselor and to take as hard of classes as possible.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“One advice I have for 7th graders is to be nice and close to your teachers. 7th grade is the foundation of your 6 year career at South and its essential to have a good support system and teachers that you can rely on.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“I would advise 7th graders to get involved in the community. Whether its through clubs, sports, community service or otherwise, getting involved in your community will not only be an enriching experience, but it will allow you to make new connections with peers and advisors, and set you up to take on future leadership positions.” -Madeleine Fryling


When you were in 7th grade, what was your biggest fear?

“My biggest fear in 7th grade was my math teacher.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“My biggest fear was using the lockers- I hated the busy hallways and I hated the process of opening my locker and having the risk of being late for class. Instead I found a way around that and didn't bring a backpack to school and instead only brought a sling bag. However, this might not work for everyone so one thing you can do is time going to your locker more efficiently.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“My biggest fear was receiving poor grades. I had overly-high expectations for what sort of grades I should be receiving and it caused me to value a made-up numeric value over my own self-efficacy and personal strengths.” -Madeleine Fryling


What did you love most about 7th grade?

“I loved that I could get good grades yet not try at all.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“I loved making friends in 7th grade. Don't be scared to say hi to the person sitting next to you- that person has the potential to be one of your closest friends for the rest of your time at South!” -Fabiha Khandaker

“I loved the newness of everything around me. Most things I was doing were things I was doing for the first time: the pep rally, lockers, clubs, 9 periods, multiple teachers, etc. Enjoy it! You will do this for the next 6 years and it will get easier but it will also get less exciting so enjoy it while it’s still all new and special!” -Madeleine Fryling


What did you dislike most about 7th grade?

“I always felt bored in 7th grade. I needed a greater challenge.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“I really disliked changing for PE in 7th grade- still hate it! However, it gets more bearable over the years as you get used to it.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“I disliked having to use a locker. I couldn't get it open and was scared to ask for help so I would often carry around all my things all day instead of storing items in my locker. As a senior, I now hope that underclassmen ask for help because I don't want people to struggle in silence when there's often such an easy solution!” -Madeleine Fryling


What would you do differently in 7th grade?

“I would have tried more. I should have fostered good student habits.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“I would've gone to more extra help sessions and gone to more clubs. I regret not being more active and always leaving at 2:43- dashing out as soon as I could.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“I would have tried to search for more volunteer and service opportunities. Giving back to the community is an important aspect of being a part of a community so I wish I would have started giving back sooner.” -Madeleine Fryling


Do you have any advice on “fitting in”?

“I would have tried to search for more volunteer and service opportunities. Giving back to the community is an important aspect of being a part of a community so I wish I would have started giving back sooner.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“You don't have to "fit in". I promise you, you will find your group of people that understand you and people that you can bind with. You will go through so many friends and friend groups in these 6 years- but don't ever feel the need to change yourself or diminish your true self.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“The goal shouldn't be to "fit in" but to make friends that accept you. If you feel like you don't fit in, you're not alone. Everyone feels at some point like they're isolated or "other", but I promise that if you put yourself out there and try to connect with others, you will find your people.” -Madeleine Fryling


Do you have any advice on managing classes?

“Do your homework! Stay at school and just do your homework and don't go home until it is done.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“It can be overwhelming having so many different classes so divide your study time and don't wait till last minute to study for exams or quizzes and always do your homework. The habits you build this year will aid you in the rigorous classes you will take next.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“Make a system! My system is a planner filled with important events/assignments/meetings, the date, and a little box that I can check off when I've completed it. There's no perfect system of organizing your time that works for everyone so you have to experiment a little.” -Madeleine Fryling


Do you have any advice on getting “good grades”?

“Take every opportunity possible for extra credit and do your homework. If there is an issue, email teachers formally before the assignment is due.” -Dash Alschuler-Pierce

“Take advantage of the agenda book and always plan ahead. it can be easy to burn out if you don't manage your time properly.” -Fabiha Khandaker

“You should never take a class solely because you think it will look good on a resume or will be impressive to peers. Take classes you are interested in, fit your own academic capacity, and will not put your mental health at risk. You do not need to be an expert in every subject, you just need to explore the things that interest you and focus on subjects that you plan to pursue in the future.” -Madeleine Fryling

Homecoming 2023

(Amina Radoncic) —

 With seniors in the midst of working through stressful college applications, underclassmen adjusting to the rigor of their new AP courses, and all students devoting much of their time to their clubs and sports, the middle of October gave the South community the chance to channel all their pent up energy into a week filled with festive activities; after practically two months of anticipation, South High School hosted its annual Spirit Week and Homecoming game. From Monday, the 17th of October, to that Saturday, students and faculty alike were able to participate in events and spirited activities that helped turn an otherwise stressful period of time into one filled with silly outfits, laughter, and Falcon pride.

 Spirit Week began with Career Day, and everyone made an effort to sport outfits that put their future aspirations on full display. From scrubs to suits, Monday was a chance for students to proudly show off their career paths. Teachers even poked fun at professions they could have gone into, with the language department collectively wearing Starbucks outfits! The following day was Culture Day, and the mixing pot of backgrounds that walk through the halls of South each day presented the diverse nature of the school by wearing sports jerseys with players of their nationalities, sombreros, and much more. Wednesday was a blast to the past; from flared jeans to poodle skirts, there was no question that students dressed well beyond their years in light of Decades Day. Thursday was arguably the most anticipated day of all, with students and teachers channeling their inner stereotypical parent, dressing as either a soccer mom or a barbeque dad. Finally, to conclude this year’s Spirit Week, the South community threw on outfits that pridefully displayed our school’s colors for Red and White Day.

Even though Spirit Week was officially coming to a close, that wasn’t the end of Homecoming celebrations. After a few years of being held outside due to the pandemic, pep rallies finally returned to their usual location of the gymnasium, with more spirit than ever before. There was a wide range of select and exciting performances meant to thrill the crowd, with the Senior High Marching Band, Step Squad, and teacher skit all doing exactly that. Sports teams were also presented by their captains and were cheered on by the crowds, and each grades’ banners were paraded through the gymnasium before each pep rally came to a close.

Moving on, Friday night was also a chance for students to put on their best dancing shoes and most stellar outfits for the Senior High Homecoming Dance! Lasting from 7 to 9 PM, music blasted as the attendees danced the night away while also enjoying the delicious refreshments that were offered. Before the conclusion of the night, the Senior High Homecoming Royalty was announced, with Dana Morales and Michael Hernandez being crowned before having their official slow dance in front of everyone. Upon the conclusion of the dance, students had the chance to get a night of sleep before even more rousing festivities that would take place the following day.

After an entire week of anticipation, Saturday had finally arrived and that meant that the South community would be able to truly showcase their Falcon spirit during the Homecoming game. Prior to the kickoff of the game, South clubs presented the Homecoming festival, which had been officially moved from its typical placement on a school day. Students, family, and friends were able to make their way from booth to booth, participating in activities such as ring toss while also being able to get their faces painted in preparation for the game. Afterward, the senior walk, in which parents proudly showed off their students involved in sports and the marching band, took place, as well as the announcement of who had won the banner contests, with the senior class and 8th graders being graced with recognition for the best banners! Finally, the football game finally began, and there was no question that South’s team put forth their best effort to win. Although that did not happen, it was still an invigorating event for all who attended. In short, Spirit Week and Homecoming were a success!

Spanish and Italian Heritage at South

(Fabiha Amin) —

This year South had a blast with the Spanish and Italian heritage month! The week began with the playing of traditional Spanish and Italian music in the hallways to in class educational lessons on the importance of the cultures in both country’s respective classes, South teachers created culminating and fun lessons for all!

Spanish teacher Ms. Lagrasse shared her thoughts with us, “There is so much variety in food, language, and culture everybody can find something to relate to, it really brings people together." Ms. Lagrasse even states that being kind is the number one step for integration of cultures at South, truly emphasizing our school motto: small acts of kindness make a big difference!

Spanish and Italian heritage month truly brought people together especially the South learning community! 

The Class of 2024's Class Council President

(Sasha Hicks) —

Every year new seniors come in preparing for their next life journey, college. I got the chance to talk to Arianna Perez, the class president of 2024. As the president, I asked her what inspired to run for president, her biggest challenges, finding time to study, and who and what inspired her.  

What inspired you to run for president? 
Arianna: To bring new things to the school and to make sure your class has a good education.  

What did you do as president? 
Arianna: I held fundraisers and senior nights and collaborated with the PTA.  
While talking to Arianna, I realized how important preparing for college is. Even though, I knew how hard it can be, I was enlightened to know all these aspects that you need to have to feel fully prepared for college. Majoring in biology she has plans on becoming a dentist and I asked what college she was most interested in applying. 

What college are you most interested in applying to and why? 
Arianna: I’m most interested in applying to Stonybrook University because of their great dental program.
Since college is creeping around the corner, I asked her how she was dealing with college finally being here. 

What prepared you for college? 
Arianna: AP Language class prepared me because you start your college essays early. If I didn’t started it, I wouldn’t have been where I am now.

What teachers inspire you? 
Arianna: Mrs. Hatsios, Mrs. Casella, and Mrs. Santamaria because they really push you to do your best.

What have been your biggest challenges? 
Arianna: Finding time to study and finding good study groups and friends that you can study with.

What advice would you give to the younger classmen at South studying now? 
Arianna: To start taking it seriously because everything from ninth grade on goes onto your transcript. Try to increase your grades one by one.


Talking to Arianna was truly an honor especially since she gave so many good tips that can help underclassman get to the point that she is at right now. After this reading this interview, I hope this inspired many underclassmen like me to put that work in!  

The Success of the Girls Varsity Tennis Team

(Caitlyn Gordon ) —

The girls’ varsity tennis team this year had an outstanding record and they were able to get their year placed on the girls’ tennis conference banner located in the gymnasium.  Through their constant hard  work of the team and their coach, Mr. David Richman, this season has become one that shall not be forgotten. I had the chance to speak with the captain of the team, Simar Bedi, who went into more detail about the team’s incredible success. 

What was the overall score of the team this year? 
Simar: The team’s overall score this year was 13 wins to 1 loss. 

How do you feel about the effort the team put in this year? 
Simar: I believe that the girls on the tennis team put in their hardest effort 
and strived to win, which is definitely evident through our final score.  
Additionally, there was a strong mentality that each player carried that 
pushed them to win their games. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 
Simar: I just want to add how proud I am to lead a team like this one. It has 
really grown to be a family where we can lift each other up through our 
highest and lowest moments, and no matter what the outcome of a game or 
match was, we always stuck together. I also want to thank our coach, Mr. 
David Richman, who was the reason for our success as a team.

Heart And Soul Events

(Jenna Zhang) —

Heart and Soul is a recently established club at South High School. Its goal is to open student’s minds and hearts to the less fortunate, as well as helping the life of ill children and their families. The Heart and Soul community inspires to help those in need and for students interested in the medical field. In this club, everyone can learn about medicine and compassion. The mission is to raise fundraisers, volunteer, and donate to local children’s hospitals, nursing homes, and animal shelters.


Everyone has several opportunities to gain experience and succeed. Heart and Soul is a club that is targeted towards medical fields. The first volunteer opportunity works with City Meals on Wheels to help make the lives of those less fortunate, so much better. The project focuses on creating greeting cards for the elderly and needy. The card purpose is to brighten someone’s day and remind others that they have not been forgotten. A simple card is enough to put a smile on someone’s face. The club’s next mission is to gather people to contribute in the HNM Food drive. Instead of saying credits, the club calls it “heart points.”

Heart and Soul is a wonderful club to contribute to and help one another.

South's Night Games

(Ekaterina Alaverdova ) —

South High School has allowed the athletes to demonstrate their wide arrangement of skills from football and soccer by holding games during the evenings with the use of newly powerful bright lights! Athletes have had a large amount of student body attend these games and provide support for their fellow Falcons. It was clear that the darkness outside did not stop the student body from cheering and supporting the athletes throughout their gameplay. Saturday Night Lights brought a huge crowd of students and parents filled with excitement to come and watch South’s football team perform. This game was specifically white-out themed, and many came in full white gear to provide motivation and encouragement for the athletes out on the field. The cheer team performed, and loud and exciting music played, which led to the crowd roaring with South spirit throughout the night as the athletes played their absolute hardest on the field!

Why Teams Chats Are Integral to School Communication

(V Frank) —

For a short period of time earlier this year, South's IT department decided to remove the Chat feature from Microsoft Teams entirely. While this only lasted a day or two, there were many differing opinions on the development. Clearly, there was a reason that the feature was shut down as it has happened before, but it is also an important way for students to communicate with teachers.

Chats on Teams were shut down due to students engaging in inappropriate behaviors on the Chat. Although this is a possibility, in my opinion, it’s better for these behaviors to be happening on Chat than if they were happening in person. On Teams inappropriate messages can be tracked and it is therefore easier to punish the students who sent these messages. Negative transactions will happen with or without Teams Chats. 

Teams Chats are very useful for both teachers and students. The Chats are a way for students to get help with work if they are not at school. They are also a way to inform teachers of things that they may want or need to know about without interrupting anyone’s day. Some teachers even encourage students to turn in material for assignments through this feature. The use of Chats is integrated into the way that some teachers teach and communicate. Chats has the right level of formality for schools when used correctly. Teams Chats are more formal than a text but less formal than an email. This leads to an enviorment where teachers can be treated with respect, but students can still speak their minds and have dialogue with their teachers, much like in person. Teams Chats are a helpful feature that make communication between teachers and students easier and faster. 

Fall 2023 Club Fair

(Nicole Belskiy ) —

South students were buzzing with excitement as they gathered around in South Hall with their friends on Tuesday September 26th at 3:15 PM for the annual Club Fair. If you don’t know what the Club Fair is, it’s an event where students get to go to South Hall to join new clubs that they think are interesting at the start of each year. Advisors and club managers set up colorful and decorative stands to attract students to view what their club is about. Club fair encourages students to find an interesting extra-curricular that they can join and go to after school with their friends.

Advisors and club memembers tried their best to convince students to join their clubs, and there were even yummy treats from certain clubs for those interested. For example, the Art Club had  art stickers related to famous art pieces and famous painters for those thinking about joining. A couple of honors societies offered lollipops for the people who read the requirements as well as Skittles and Starbursts. Overall, the Club Fair was an extremely exciting and fun time to explore and discover new and interesting clubs to consider joining!

South High School Social Studies Department New Teachers

(Fatima Raja and Ishrat Morium) —

New Teachers have joined the South High School Social Studies Department. We’ve interviewed, Ms. Brea, Mr. Rosenblum, and Mr. Sarro. 

What motivated you to become a Social Studies teacher?

Brea: I had a very infulential and inspiring Social Studies teacher and I was generally good at Social Studies so that was my backboard.

Rosenblum: I come from a long history of teachers in my family, and I had some really inspiring teachers in my career as a student.

Sarro: I think Social Studies is an important subject for everyone to understand for responsibility.

How do you like South so far? Is there anything you would like to change about it?

Brea: The atmosphere and the culture here is so rich and enthusiastic it makes it a special school; I would prefer a more sophisticated lunch/menu

Rosenblum: The diversity and the community here is unique and the atmosphere is positive; I would like to see teams implemented in the junior high where there would be 4 core teachers in each group.

Sarro: I love South, the staff is extremely knowledgeable, and the kids are great.

What's your favorite topic in Social Studies?

Brea: The Age of Exploration & The Gilded Age.

Rosenblum: The Renaissance.

Sarro: Ancient Civilizations & WWII.

Have you had prior education experience? If so, when, and where?

Brea: I’ve done my student teaching upstate, and I had the opportunity to work in an elementary school with 1st graders.

Rosenblum: I was a permanent substitute teacher, and I did some subbing here and there filling in for teachers for a month or so.

Sarro: I’ve had prior experience as a teacher in Long Beach.

Are you satisfied with the current curriculum? Are there any concerns or likes/dislikes?

Brea: The curriculum is well balanced, but we should focus more on certain topics as the world around is changing and it's not us against the world, it's what we can do to fix these problems.

Rosenblum: The curriculum is great, and I find our teachers do an incredible job of teaching multiple POVs and perspectives

Sarro: The curriculum itself is good but I wish it was more well-rounded to some of the lesser-known heroes in history that are equally as important


Clearly, these teachers are so sweet and have great potential in becoming an amazing addition to South! We look forward to having them for many years to come.

Student Opinion Piece: Standardized Testing

(Naomi Castang) —

Standardized testing has been used for many decades in the United States in conjunction with our schooling system. Beginning around the mid-1800s, standardized testing has been used as way determine the intelligence of children, however these tests were often biased and discriminatory towards African American students. In a book titled, A Study of American Intelligence, author Carl Brigham who was a psychologist and eugenicist, wrote African American people were, “on the low end of the racial, ethnic, and or cultural spectrum”, according to the National Education Association. He believed that during the period of desegregating schools, having White children learn with Black children would decrease the quality of education. After the publication of the book, the College Board, which still controls much of our education system today, commissioned Brigham to design the Standardized Aptitude test commonly known as the SAT.  


The origin of the test that most American high school students are forced to take, is racist and discriminatory. With that being said should students really still be taking these tests. My answer is no because it is historically unfair, stress inducing, and expensive. Additionally, if you think of all the time students could have spent studying for their regents’ level classes, that is instead wasted on prepping for the AP exams or SAT’s you might begin to realize how wasteful these tests are. In my opinion, standardized testing is a time wasting, stress inducing system only meant to hold students back. 

Barbie Movie Review

( V Frank and Nicole Belskiy ) —

The Barbie movie, directed by Gretta Gerwig and produced by (and starring) Margot Robbie, is a fun, influential, and funny movie that was released on July 31st of 2023. The movie is about the characters of “stereotypical” Barbie and Ken, their journey to the real world, the people they meet there, and the repercussions this has on Barbie Land. The movie is not just lighthearted but is also a critique of and a statement about feminism.

The movie begins in Barbie Land, a perfect world where the diverse cast of Barbies have accomplishments, run the government, and have all the jobs that men in the real world have. Barbie Land is perfect, until, when stereotypical Barbie notices some new imperfections within herself, she tries to go to the real world to fix it. The film follows this while also showing the viewers Ken’s journey of discovering himself.  

There is also a feminist message that the Barbie movie is trying to convey. One way the movie does this is by mentioning that Barbie (the character) isn’t really all that feminist. It shows that the Barbies think they are saving women when, in reality, they have no impact on gender roles in actual society and might have done more harm than good. Another way this movie addresses feminist ideas is by having Gloria, the human character with nostalgia for what Barbie meant to her, talk about all the things that make being a twenty first century woman hard. She talks about how she feels there is nothing she can do without being criticized by society. This scene was very emotional and impactful for many of the people who identified with this. 

Overall, the Barbie movie has had an immense impact on popular culture this year. The soundtrack for this album remains in the top fifty albums on the Billboard Hot 200 and has been on the charts for fourteen weeks. There were also many people dressed up as characters from this movie on Halloween and there has been a resurgence in the color “Barbie pink” since the movie was announced. The impact that the Barbie movie has had is a mark of how great it is and if you want to have a fun time watching a funny and interesting movie that says things about our society, then you should watch the Barbie movie! 

The State of the Oscars

(Dash Alschuler-Pierce) —

The state of the Oscars is floundering. Already, Hollywood is falling because of streaming, the internet, and most recently, unfairly paid workers resulting in the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) going on strike. Actors have stopped working, Marvel is seeing less and less in theaters, and big blockbuster movies have pulled out of release, such as Dune: Part Two—delayed by an entire year!

However, one of the most important factors keeping Hollywood relevant are The Academy Awards, which (sometimes) celebrate the good films of the year. But just as Hollywood is falling, so are the Oscars, bringing fewer people every year, especially with the Academy’s reluctance to switch from cable to streaming platforms. Either way, many viewers see the event as rich people being given even more money than they already have, exemplifying the issues. Furthermore, long gone are the days of idolatry, with only the 85-year-old grandmothers tuning in to see a plastic Tom Cruise and a hologram Nicole Kidman projected by AMC.

However, with a fantastic summer box office, the Academy may see higher viewership this year. The Barbenheimer blast has not only rejuvenated the theaters, but possibly the award show too. This is the Academy’s time to replace the last memory of“the slap” with a box office bonanza. I, personally, am a larger Barbie fan.

Halloween Costume and History

(Alisha Akim ) —

This Year for Halloween there were all sorts of costumes! Though it was very cold outside it didn’t stop the Halloween spirit in everyone! If you’re like me, then you might wonder, where did dressing up for Halloween even come from? The custom of dressing for Halloween comes from three Celtic festivals called Samhain, Calan Gaeaf, and All Souls Day. Samhain falls on October 31st to November 1st. This is when they marked the end of the harvest season, but on this day, they believed that the barrier between the living and the dead was breaking. Calan Gaeaf falls on November 1st, it is a festival that is very similar to Samhain, they would dance around a fire and write their names on a stone. After they had put their name, they would place them around the fire. All Souls Day is to receive soul cakes, which was like Trick or Treating except with cakes. Residents would dress as animals or monsters to scare off evil spirits leading to what we do today. For Halloween we always dress as our favorite character and ask for candy around the neighborhoods of our own communities! Valley Stream South sure had spirit! 

Book Review: That Was Then, This Is Now

(Olivia Castang) —

Growing up is complicated, a pure example of this is the story, That Was Then, This Is Now, by renowned author S.E. Hinton. The book effectively captures genuine elements of the teenage experience. Moreover, the author’s realistic characterization and lack of needlessly seeking a happy ending adds a certain depth to the story. There were a few recurring themes in the book, but we’ll focus on the most prevalent. Primarily, to be young is to be invincible and later, you don’t need to hate those who have wronged you.  

The book follows two teenagers, Bryon, and his adopted brother Mark. The boys are extremely close. Bryon describes Mark as the person he loves most (Hinton 51), and Bryon is stated as the only person Mark cares about (133). Regarding the aforementioned statement, S.E. Hinton writes realistically about the teenage experience, and this includes the carefree energy unique to adolescents. The teens maintain a strong desire for freedom and as a result, they express themselves by acting on impulsive urges. Mark believes that nothing bad happens to young people (113) and that Bryon should stop worrying about things so often (118).  

Along with the exhilarating freedom that the juvenile experience gives, their story also reveals some divergent ideas regarding peace, love, and hate. Primarily, the story conveys that it is safe to forgive those who have wronged you. Hate only results in a never-ending cycle of “getting even”. Bryon reaches this conclusion when he was beaten up by the Shepard brothers for Mark cutting off their sister’s hair. But Mark did this because the sister’s reckless vengeance led to Mark’s injury. Bryon realizes this is a pointless loop of bed events where no one can win. As a result, he orders Mark to not beat them up as revenge and finally end the cycle. (133)


To summarize, S.E. Hinton’s book, That Was Then, This Is Now was a thoughtful novel regarding teenage freedom and peace and more importantly, discussions of right and wrong. Overall, the author wrote this novel to make us think and succeeded with the inconclusive ending. Additionally, there are numerous themes one could take away from this book and several different ways to interpret those ideas. The story introduces the theory that sometimes, situations are more than just good or bad. There are many factors which play into a person’s behavior, and we should all be more accepting of people who are different from us.


I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to read about the complexities of maturity and morality.

Fall and Winter Trends

Destiny De Castro


Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

(Momina Ali and Arisa Aamer) —


-          1 cup warm milk

-          ½ tbsp active dry yeast

-          4 tbsp granulated sugar

-          3 cups all-purpose flour

-          1 large egg

-          2 tbsp unsalted butter

-          ½ tsp salt

Cinnamon Roll filling

-          7tbsp unsalted butter

-          ¼ granulated sugar

-          1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing

-          4 tbsp unsalted butter

-          4 oz cream cheese

-          ½ tbsp vanilla extract 

-          1 cup powdered sugar


1.             In a bowl add 1 cup warm milk and sprinkle with 1/2 Tbsp yeast. Let sit uncovered for 7 minutes at room temp. Add 1/2 cup flour, 2 Tbsp sugar and whisk until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 35-45 min 

2.             Whisk in 1 egg, sugar, melted butter, and salt

3.             add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour while blending. Add more flour 1 Tbsp at a time just until dough is no longer sticking to fingertips or the walls of the bowl as it mixes then knead/mix for 10 min. Cover with wrap and let rise at room temp 2 hours. Dough should double in size.

4.             Sprinkle a flat surface and rolling pin with flour.   Roll into even 17″x10″ rectangle. Spread butter on roll evenly.

5.             Sprinkle ¼ cup sugar an 1 tbsp cinnamon on rolls. Roll the dough up starting with one of the longer sides, keeping a tight roll. Once it's rolled up, make them into 12 even rolls.

6.             Butter sides and bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with 1 Tbsp butter and evenly space cinnamon rolls in pan, cut-side down. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (up to 18 hours). The following day, remove from refrigerator and keeping them covered, let cinnamon rolls rise at room temp 1 to 1 1/2 hours (or in a 100˚F oven for 35 min) or until puffy.

7.             Brush tops with 1 Tbsp melted butter and bake at 350˚F for 22-24 mins until rolls are light colored.                        


 Recipe by: Natashaskitchen

Eighth Grade Student Interview of South Favorites

Jameer Martin


Fall Crossword

(Faisal N) —


2. Sweet or tart drink to have in the Fall?

5. What is the other, formal word for Fall?

7. Which red fruit can you make cider with?

8. What day in the Fall do people dress up and collect candy?

9. What is Autumn's primary color? 



1. What falls from trees during this season?

3. The most popular fruit grown in the Fall?

4. Protector of the crops and fields.

6. Which animal is commonly associated with Thanksgiving?

Fall Frights Crossword Puzzle

(Madeleine Fryling) —



(Hamza Zubair) —



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