Lions' Digest Winter Issue 03 2020

lionsdigest1

DECEMBER 23, 2020

LIONS’ DIGEST

THE FEATURE MAGAZINE


MEET THE TEAM

EDITORIAL STAFF

EDITOR IN CHIEF -- ADRITA TALUKDER

BUSINESS MANAGER -- RACHEL FOSTER

GRAPHICS EDITOR -- MARISSA XU

FEATURES EDITOR -- RIJA SABEEH

OPINION EDITOR -- ELISA EDGAR

SPORTS EDITOR -- CORA BAINBRIDGE

NEWS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT -- ETHAN

JONES

CONTRIBUTORS

STAFF WRITER -- NIRANJAN ANOOP

STAFF WRITER -- ELOISE DAYRAT

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR -- GRACE JONES

STUDENT CONTRIBUTOR -- ISABELLA

CACERES

FACULTY CONTRIBUTORS -- DIRK

GRISSINGER, JEFFREY KISSELL, JILL

CAMPBELL, DARLA HART, EUGENE

RUOCCHIO, TREVOR DIETZ

PUBLICATION ADVISORS -- SARAH RITO &

SAMANTHA CORZA

CONTACT US

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CONTENTS.

LEARNING THROUGH LITERACY: THE SOCIAL JUSTICE

BOOK CLUB

Elisa Edgar

MORE THAN A TEACHER: LISA HARPSTER

Adrita Talukder & Marissa Xu

STATE HIGH TEACHERS TO THE RESCUE

Niranjan Anoop

A Q&A WITH THE BRASS RATS

Ethan Jones

WOMEN OF SPOON RIVER: A STATE HIGH (COVID)

PRODUCTION

Rija Sabeeh & Eloise Dayrat

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER: HOW TO COPE

DURING A PANDEMIC

Grace Jones

HOLIDAY RECIPE

Isabella Caceres

THE TOP TEN CHRISTMAS MOVIES TO WATCH THIS

SEASON

Rachel Foster

FROM FACULTY TO YOU

Various faculty members


04 | WINTER 2020

LEARNING THROUGH LITERACY:

THE SOCIAL JUSTICE BOOK CLUB

BY ELISA EDGAR

After a critically intense year for social justice

sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement

this summer, two teenagers in State College took

it upon themselves to promote one of the most

important steps of activism: education. This past

fall, State High and

Delta students were

invited to participate

in a book club

centered around

inequality, injustice,

and activism. Led

by junior Alanis

Walters and senior

Camilla Baumer, the

Social Justice Book

Club was created

as a community

where students could

come together and

spark discussions.

After taking a

class rooted in

social justice in her

sophomore year,

Walters was inspired

to host a book club

and take advocacy

into her own hands.

The class was Delta’s

Bridging Divides,

taught by Virginia

Squier and Lorraine

McGarry, and it made a deep impact on Walters.

Students began the course by exploring the

history of racism in America, from slavery to

mass incarceration. After a field trip to Alabama,

students were assigned to create a community

project centered around social justice that would

later be presented at a fair open to the public.

Almost immediately, a book club seemed like an

obvious answer,

given Walters’

affinity for books

as a teaching tool.

“I feel like that’s

one of the best

ways of informing

people and having

active discussions

that inspire real

change rather than

just Instagram

posts. I really want

people to engage

with this kind of

topic and I feel

like books are one

of the best ways to

fully understand

something,”

Walters said.

After hearing

about the club

from Walters’

teachers, Dr. Seria

Chatters, Director

of Equity and

Inclusivity at SCASD, approached her and offered

to help put together another one, independent

from school. This new and now completely


05 | WINTER 2020

self-led club would be held during June for the

Peer Advocates Program. Over the summer, the

book club discussed Despite the Best Intentions:

How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools by

Amanda Lewis and John Diamond. The club was

a success, and in August, Walters was approached

by Baumer for the first time, along with Dr.

Chatters and equity liaison Ashley Diaz, who

currently moderates the club. Baumer wanted to

expand the club to more of the school community.

“I really wanted to shed light on the issues within

our community and I thought a book club would

be a really great way to do that because it can

bring a lot of people who maybe aren’t already

participating in activism together,” Baumer said.

To prepare for meetings, Baumer and Walters

create discussion questions for each chapter

and during the meetings, they fill the role

of facilitating discussions. Since November,

the club has had two online meetings.

The book they’re discussing now, The New Jim

Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

by Michelle Alexander, is what Baumer and Walters

both saw as a good segway into topics of racial

justice. The six part book is a winner of multiple

awards, has become a staple anti-racism piece to

read, and is highly renowned among many for its

acute social commentary. It introduces topics such

as “preservation through transformation,” a term

used to describe how racist structures are preserved

in society through renaming and rebranding.

The New Jim Crow details the transition from

slavery, to Jim Crow laws, and now to what is the

prison industrial complex. Walters explained how

the author skillfully personalized issues such as the

criminal justice system by including testimonies

of people whose lives had been ruined by it. It

forced readers to pay attention to the issue at hand.

“It’s not something you can just ignore. Books

help make it feel like a real problem that needs

to be encountered and dealt with,” Walters said.

“Again, that’s why book discussion is my favorite

way of inspiring that kind of stuff; engaging with

text is really one of the best ways to do that.”

Walters and Baumer recognized that with the

heavy topics that come with social justice, many

difficult conversations have to take place that

can be sensitive or personal. As co-facilitators,

Walters and Baumer devised certain ground

rules to keep the atmosphere secure for everyone

involved. At the first meeting, they encouraged

participants to add to their list of ‘norms.’

“The biggest ones are that, ‘we can share what is

learned here but not what is heard here.’ That means

that if people might share their personal stories,

we can talk about the gist of what we learned from

each other but we can’t share personal recounts or

anything,” Baumer explained. “We also just want to

make sure that when we’re saying what we’re saying

we recognize our own privilege and where we came

from, so as not to discredit anyone’s experiences

because we all have different backgrounds.”

The student leaders hope that the club can help

educate members about these types of issues

and relate them to their own community.

The experience of running the club has

been just as, if not more gratifying, for the

student leaders as it has been for participants.

“Watching these people be so passionate about

it and being able to experience a discussion

that is your doing is incredibly rewarding,”

Walters added. “That’s the best part.”

Being part of a group that strives to create positive

change in their community is meaningful to

everyone involved. Walters and Baumer have

provided an opportunity for students to engage

in important conversations that help develop

a safe and reflective school environment.


Caviar, Anyone? A painting by Lisa Harpster.


07.

MORE THAN A TEACHER:

LISA HARPSTER

BY ADRITA TALUKDER & MARISSA XU

It can be hard to think of teachers as

anything more than “teachers.” In a

normal school year, we’re in and out of their

classrooms for 90 minutes every other day, and

for many, those 90 minutes are spent staring at

the clock, waiting for the minutes to pass by. If

they’re lucky, students get the chance to crack a

few jokes with their teachers here and there. For

the especially fortunate, they get to really talk

with their teachers. Students might share a part

of themselves, and in turn, get to know a bit

about their teacher outside of the classroom. For

those who partake in these conversations, one

thing is made clear: teachers lead as rich a life

outside the classroom as students do. This

certainly rings true for Lisa Harpster, an English

as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who, when

she’s not in school, is an avid artist and local

business owner.

Even in high school, Harpster was

immersing herself in the worlds of art and ESL.

If she wasn’t painting, you’d probably find her

dancing, and when she had time, she would

volunteer in the ESL classroom for extra credit

for her World Cultures class. Her experiences in

the classroom were eye-opening.

“I just loved being around people from all

over the world, and I think I realized how

narrow my view was, and how small of a town I

was in when I started to meet more and more

people from all over the world and all different

cultures,” Harpster said.

Harpster carried her experiences from high

school with her, and when she realized she

wanted to go back to school after acting in New

York for a period of time, she had an idea of the

path she wanted to tread.

“I loved the ESL classroom and I knew I

loved art, so I knew I wanted to be either an art

teacher or an ESL teacher,” Harpster said.

Linda Barton, who had been Harpster’s

World Cultures teacher in high school,

introduced her to the Professional Development

School (PDS) intern program at Penn State. It

was Barton’s last year teaching, and after

Harpster finished the program, she filled the

position. She now teaches at State High, and

through her years of teaching, there have been a

few stand out moments that she’ll never forget.

“I got this long email from a student and it

went to me and it went to my colleague, Andy

Wilson, who teaches ESL Social Studies,”


08 | WINTER 2020

Harpster said. “He sent us a picture of the cool

food he made. He made this Mexican turkey

recipe, and he was so excited about it and proud

of it and talked about just what he learns in class

and perspectives that he’s gained from class.

When things like that happen, I know that I’m

in a pretty amazing job.”

In addition to these relationships she builds

with students, Harpster feels incredibly lucky to

see friendships form between students.

“Something else that’s actually really cool is

when I see in my classroom friendships that

form, whereas in their countries they never

would. Like their counties might be at war, or

they [practice] totally different religions that

don’t agree at all, and yet they are great friends.

And then ten years later I still see them having a

reunion together, they’ll, you know, send me a

picture on Facebook. Those I think are the big

moments that are super cool. Yeah, I feel pretty

lucky,” Harpster said.

Outside of teaching classes, the ESL

department focuses on supporting families.

Whether that’s family involvement—hosting

potlucks and game nights—or linking them with

community resources, the duties of the ESL

department extend far beyond the classroom.

“The role of an ESL teacher is kind of--you’re

definitely a language teacher but you kind of take

on almost like a cultural liaison role, with the

family often, because you’re the first ones that

they know. We often end up helping them find

an attorney, or maybe get healthcare, or find out

how to get to the dentist,” Harpster said.

When the pandemic hit, the work outside the

classroom continued. A number of the ESL

families have been disproportionately impacted

and further marginalized by the pandemic, and

the ESL department recognized the need to

support families heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Upon recognizing this need, faculty members set

out to raise money.

“We’ve raised, I mean I think we’re over

$50,000 now. We’ve been able to help with rents

and food and emergency bills and car repairs,”

Harpster said.

The pandemic impacted the ESL department

in more ways than one. Typical communitybuilding

events made to bring students, families,

and teachers together have been put on hold.

“That’s one of the saddest things, actually, we

can’t have our big potlucks in the classroom this

year. We do that every year and everyone brings

in food from their country,” commented

Harpster on the lack of family involvement

events this year due to the pandemic.

These events outside the classroom don’t

only act as a way for families to get acquainted


09 | WINTER 2020

with one another--they’re valuable

learning experiences as well. For

Harpster personally, she learned to

love a million different kinds of food

that she wouldn’t have gotten the

chance to try otherwise. But more than

that, Harpster learns valuable life

lessons from her students.

“I learn different perspectives, I

learn different ways of being a human

that I think most of us in the United

States don’t see. [...] I think I gain an

appreciation for the world that I don’t

think would be possible unless I were

someone to really seek it out. I feel

really fortunate that it happens to be

in my daily life,” Harpster said.

Not many people get the chance to

widen their world view simply through

their career, but Harpster’s position as

an ESL teacher allows her to do just

that. On top of gaining a unique

perspective through her career, the way

in which Harpster views her role as a

teacher is a bit different than one

might expect.

“I think of my role as--I hope--a

human they can look up to as being

more important than a teacher. [...] I

more hope that they can just think

that I’m a good human to be around

as opposed to a teacher,” Harpster

said.

When asked about the most

gratifying part of her job, Harpster

confidently responded, “my students.”

“They (students) come in and tell

me a story, or there’s something going

on with their family that they come in

and share with me, or they tell me a

funny thing that happened. It’s also

really cool to get to see them, to watch

them [...] after they graduate,”

Harpster said.

When talking about her students,

Harpster recalled a specific student of hers. She entered the

classroom never having before seen a computer, and has

since majored in international business and is currently

working in D.C.

“Yeah. I have pretty incredible students,” Harpster said.

In having worked so closely with the ESL students, there

are certain misconceptions that Harpster wishes to dispel.

“I think when a lot of people come into contact with

somebody who is from a different culture and speaks a

different language, there’s this automatic fear and therefore

they don’t communicate with them, they don’t talk to them,

they ignore them, they don’t try to have a conversation in

any way, shape, or form. That is one major misconception

that I wish I could broadcast, is that there’s so much

brilliance inside of these minds that it’s just communicated

in a different way. [...] Difference is something to be

questioned and discomfort is something that leads to

growth. Without being uncomfortable, we just stay in our

stagnant lives,” Harpster said.

And Harpster’s life is anything but stagnant. When she’s

not teaching or organizing fundraisers, you’ll probably find

her working on her latest art project or experimenting with

different flavors for her kombucha business, Moody Culture.

Moody Culture began a little over three years ago when

Harpster’s business partner started making kombucha

himself. Harpster became one of the kombucha tasters, “and

she eventually started experimenting with and creating

different flavors. The duo then started giving the kombucha

out to friends, and they eventually found themselves selling

their kombucha at Rothrock Cafe.

Harpster focuses on flavoring, new product launches, and

designs. When Moody Culture was at Arts Fest and Pop Up


10 | WINTER 2020

Ave, she created the design for the booth.

Harpster doesn’t actually create the kombucha,

though--in her own words, “the thing that I do

not do and do not trust myself with is the

actual brewing process.”

While Harpster gets an opportunity to

pursue her love for design with Moody Culture,

she also pursues art on her own terms. Art has

always been a part of her life, and she’s

constantly experimenting with different forms

and mediums.

“I would say I’ve probably been into art my

whole life,” Harpster said. “I remember going to

coffee shops when I was in high school with my

watercolors and my acrylics. I‘ve always done

some kind of art. I also danced throughout high

school, so I think whether or not it was

performing or actually making something, it’s

always been a part of me.”

Harpster’s latest project was born out of

Moody Culture.

“[SCOBY] is a colony of bacteria and yeast

and that is what eats the sugar in kombucha

which is what causes it to ferment. So when [we

were] done with it, we were putting it into the

compost bin, and I was like, ‘this is so cool, it

just seems like you should be able to do

something cool with this,’” Harpster said.

Harpster began to make masks with the

SCOBY, and she continued to experiment with

different mediums to create new pieces.

“So [Andy Merritt] brought a painting in,

maybe over a year ago, to my coworker Andy

Wilson, and he does the acrylic pours, and I was

like ‘that’s really cool, I wonder if I could do

that on the back of my masks,’” Harpster said.

After Harpster started working with acrylics,

commissions through her Instagram, @

rawunfilteredart, and the Moody Culture

website, moodyculture.com, started to pour in.

When reflecting upon her artwork, Harpster

noted that her students directly influence her

and her art on a regular basis.

“Art is so authentic in that it just comes

from you,” Harpster said. “I do feel that in my

teaching and I value that so much in my

students, when they get to a place, a comfort

level, when they can just be themselves and

there’s not this exterior of superficial

expectation. [...] Authenticity is definitely equal

in both worlds. I guess the constant inspiration,

too. My students are a constant inspiration as is

the world and anything that I look at that I

want to make something on.”

For Harpster, the seemingly unrelated worlds

of ESL and art converged and pushed her

forward. She continues to grow as both a teacher

and an artist, and if her past is anything to go

off of, the path ahead of her looks bright.


DON’T STOP PLAYING.

THERE ARE SO

MANY THINGS

TO DO, ENDLESS

OPPORTUNITIES, AND

EVERYTHING IS A

CANVAS.


12 | WINTER 2020

STATE HIGH TEACHERS TO

THE RESCUE

BY NIRANJAN ANOOP

English teacher Jennifer Evans holding two of her four rescued kittens during a Google Meet interview.

It has become increasingly common in State

College to find stray cats outside. They may

be wandering around a neighborhood, hiding

underneath a shed or bench, or sleeping within

dense shrubbery. These animals are in serious

danger of starvation, disease, and other harsh

environmental conditions. While feral cats can

be brought to shelters like Centre County PAWS

for treatment and adoption, members of the

State College community have the ability to

help. That’s exactly what a group of teachers at

State High did.

English teacher Jennifer Evans was one of the

major players in rescuing these stray cats. She

and her boyfriend have already volunteered at

PAWS, so they have much experience in getting

stray and feral animals the care that they need.

She decided to do something about the recent

rise in the number of feral cats.

“In May, on the Facebook Greentree page,

someone posted: ‘Hey there’s a kitten wandering

outside my house. Does it belong to anyone?’”

Evans said. “So I texted Ms. Rito (English

teacher), and she said ‘I just saw, I was going to

walk down’ cause it’s only a few blocks from

her house. So, I got a box and some food and a

string, like a toy. I got in my Jeep, I had a mask

on, and I went to her house, and we went to the

area where the kitten was supposed to be.”

When they got to where the kitten was

supposed to be, they heard a faint meow coming

from a lilac bush in the surrounding area. Evans

and Rito managed to pluck out a black kitten

who Evans now owns and has named Bandy

(pictured above).

From here, Evans and Rito found Bandy’s


13 | WINTER 2020

mother and her siblings hiding in a drainage

ditch, but they couldn’t reach them. Later on,

a different set of neighbors found the kittens

living underneath their sheds, and Evans helped

them to find care.

Recently, Evans heard from former Building

Construction teacher Chris Warren, that there

was a cat and her three kittens hiding near his

house. She managed to trap them after spending

nearly three hours. Learning Support teacher

Carolyn Fries took them in to foster until they

were ready for their next steps. Additionally,

Ms. Schunk has rescued a little black kitten and

Evans has taken it upon herself to pay for its

treatment. It has yet to be adopted.

Since May, this group of teachers succeeded

in getting ten cats off the street and into homes,

and Evans now owns four of them. Finding

the cats, purchasing supplies, trapping them,

getting them treated and then finally adopted

was quite the ordeal. Without Evans and several

other teachers, it wouldn’t have been possible to

rescue these cats off of the streets.

“It’s animals for the win!” said Evans as she

described why she does what she does. “They

completely give me joy throughout this whole

scenario. It’s kind of an escape, away from all of

these things.”

Evans addressed how much of a struggle

living through the COVID-19 pandemic has

been for her. Rescuing these cats brought light

to her life, and doing such a task for the State

College community feels like a reward for her.

When asked about whether or not it ever felt

challenging to rescue these feral cats, Evans said

it did. However, that didn’t stop her from doing

the work that she felt needed to be done, and

she’s glad that she didn’t have to do it alone.

“The challenge is outweighed by, you know,

the purpose, your goals, and your hope to do

something good for the community and the

animals involved… It’s a lot of work and hoping

that other people will be so kind as to help you

because doing it alone is tricky.”

In the future, if one ever happens to spot a

Two rescued kittens ready to be brought to a vet for treatment.

(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Evans)

stray or feral animal in our community, Evans

expressed that she’d be ready and willing to

help. Her experience in rescuing animals has

prepared her for anything she may face.

“I feel like I’ve learned so much,” Evans said.

“I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what

not to do with capturing and setting traps,

about always having some place to take the

animal before you even set the trap, so having

a plan for when you catch something. There

[are] some things that you’ll need: you need a

small space, you need the litter box, the litter,

and the food, the finances to be able to take the

animal to the vet for worming treatment, how

to give them flea baths and flea treatment, how

to tame them down… I think that there are a lot

of things that are important, mostly space and

time.”

Community members who want to play a

role in rescuing local feral animals can follow

Evans’ example by trapping them and bringing

them to a vet for treatment. If possible, donate

to or volunteer at an animal shelter like PAWS

or Pets Come First. One could always foster

pets, especially with the pandemic limiting the

amount of pets that can stay at a shelter.

Evans and her fellow teachers have truly

worked hard to rescue all of these cats. Let their

work set an example for what the community

can do for State College.


14 | WINTER 2020

in the Jazz bands and extracurricular musical

activities so that’s kind of how we met—the reason

we became a band was—Mount Nittany has this

thing every March where students can make groups

to perform at the lobby when students are coming

in for the school day, so we decided to do that, and

we decided to become a band after that.

Joshua Carlson(JC): We also got the

opportunity to play at the beginning of the 7th

and 8th grade band concerts as well, so that just

helped to kickstart it.

Where did the name come from?

If you were walking downtown at Arts Festival

last summer, you might’ve had the chance to hear

the Brass Rats playing at the square by Beaver

Avenue. A brass band made up of one 8th grader

and five State High students, the young musicians

drew quite the crowd. Several weeks ago, I had

the chance to meet them over a Google Meet and

discuss their origins, rehearsals, performances, and

much more.

How did you guys meet and ultimately get

started?

Adam Hallacher (AH): We were all in Mount

Nittany Middle school, and we all participated

JC: When we were doing Music in our Schools

Month at Mount Nittany, we said “oh shoot, we

need a name,” so I came up with “band rats” and

then I think it was Adam or Daniel who said “wait

no, we should be the Brass Rats.”

So outside of the school performances, where/

when else have you guys played?

BY ETHAN JONES

AH: Yeah, so one of our greatest influences

are the Lucky Chops, which is a brass band based

in New York City, and they go around busking,

which is playing outside and leaving out a hat

or case for people to drop money into, and


15 | WINTER 2020

we decided to do that, and it was surprisingly

successful the first time so we did it a few more

times and that’s basically our main source of

income.

JC: The first time we went busking was during

Arts Fest, and it was honestly a perfect spot, we

were right across from the Target in that little

square, and everyone was walking by. It went great.

Elijah Snyder(ES): I had busked there by

myself before and that worked out really well

for me, and it wasn’t even during Arts Fest so I

thought it would go well, and it was pretty crazy.

Arlo Nicholas(AN): When we busk we don’t

just play music but also try to implement some

choreography as well, and because it’s a pretty

open space we have a lot of leeway to do whatever

we want.

AH: A plus to that is that it can get tiring

doing the same set over and over again, so that

freedom to move around can definitely make

things more interesting.

How many times have you guys performed in

total?

JC: We’ve busked three times, plus we played

at the drama club cook off, the 7th and 8th grade

concerts, and at the High School, plus March

Music in our Schools Months, so that’s eight

performances in total.

How much has the pandemic impacted

performing?

Luca Snyder(LS): We’ve kind of paused

practices and performances for now. We ended up

doing a few socially distanced rehearsals before

school starting, but now that schools started and

cases are rising, we decided it would probably be

safer and easier if we took a pause on rehearsals

for now, but we’ll probably try to get back together

when COVID is on a pause.

If you guys were doing gigs right now would

you be playing covers, or do you have your own

stuff that you’re working on?

LS: We have some stuff that some members

have written that we work on occasionally, but the

most fun things to do are covers because they’re

songs we know, and we can jam to them while we

play them and it’s very fun. So we’ve mainly done

covers.

AH: Another thing that comes with playing

covers is that if you hear a cover of a song played

by a brass band it’s not exactly the same as it

would be if you were just listening to the original

recording, so I think covers definitely work for us

more than they would for a more standard layout

of instrumentation.

ES: So far we’ve only really performed coversin

one case, we performed a cover of another song,

so basically a cover of a cover.

JC: Like we said earlier, Lucky Chops is one

of our biggest influences and they perform a

lot of covers, so sometimes we pick a song that

worked well for them because we have very similar

instrumentation to them.

What are some more influences you guys have,

individually or as a whole?

AH: I think we’re all fans of Vulfpeck, a funk

group based in Michigan, so we like to bring a lot

of that rhythm stuff into our performances.

JC: Moon Hooch as well.

AH: That’s a trio who invented their own

genre called Cave Music which is basically blasting

into a saxophone as loud as you can.

JC: They once taped a traffic cone onto the

end of a bass saxophone to make it lower.


16 | WINTER 2020

AH: That kind of thing can be really exciting

when brought into street performances.

Do you guys include that element a lot?

ES: During rehearsals we often end up

messing around with those things. During our

performances it’s a bit more structured because we

know what we’re going to play.

Daniel Liu(DL): Sometimes when we’re

messing around we can discover how we want to

play something, like if something’s not quite right

we can tweak it and figure out how we want to

play it in the end.

JC: Adam has a loop pedal, so we’ve done a

live loop where you layer up chords and solo over

it.

AH: When we first started out playing

we didn’t even use actual sheet music for the

arrangements—we just sort of told each other our

parts, because we mostly play pop songs so we

were able to coordinate our parts in real time. So

the messing around wasn’t always productive, but

there’s definitely benefits.

JC: It was often easier to, for example say

who’s gonna play the melody at this point, and

then assign chords to everyone, get on the piano

and figure out the key that we’re in.

Do you guys have any music out, any covers or

anything?

ES: The only music we’ve really “released”

has been on YouTube. Someone was filming

us while we were busking, and there’s also a

little homemade video, but there’s nothing on

streaming services yet.

How far do you guys see this going?

JC: We definitely want to keep rehearsing when

we can. I think there was maybe some talk of

recording something just before the pandemic, but

that kind of stopped everything.

ES: We’re just having fun. I think none of us

have really thought a lot about what we want to do

with it. It’s really fun to get together with friends

and play music for people, so we’ll just keep doing

that until it’s not fun anymore.

You can follow the Brass Rats on Instagram @

brass_rats and subscribe to them on YouTube @

Brass Rats.


WOMEN OF SPOON RIVER: A STATE

HIGH (COVID) PRODUCTION

BY RIJA SABEEH AND ELOISE DAYRAT

After months of auditions, Zoom

rehearsals, filming, and editing, the State

High Thespians are almost ready to release their

2020 fall/winter production. Unlike anything

they’ve done before, this year the troupe is

coming out with a movie: Women of Spoon River.

In being a series of monologues, the troupe

chose this project as it was a COVID-19 friendly

idea.

Thespians, much like any other extracurricular

group, has experienced difficulties in

maintaining community closeness on the same

level as pre-pandemic times. Delta senior Kyra

Muramoto explained that, “You really don’t get

the whole show bonding and stuff like that.”

Although not being in person takes away from

large scale community building, Thespians have

taken it upon themselves to find creative ways to

form ties between everyone.

“They’ve actually done a really good job with

that: We have something called mentor groups

where basically it’s led by a few seniors and then

people from all other grades. Basically you just

kind of answer weekly questions and you have

this set group of people that you can always


18.

ask questions to,” said State High junior Emily

Stoller.

The rehearsal process is a vital stepping stone

leading up to the perfect production. Due to

the state of the pandemic, rehearsals have been

modified in order to ensure COVID safety. Last

year, the group held rehearsals after school in

the school auditorium. Now, everything is done

virtually.

This year, for Women of Spoon River, Thespians

finished their rehearsals for the production

during the last week of October, and they held

them in both large and small meetings.

State High senior Anna Farris reflected on this

process. “We did Zoom rehearsals and then

coaching with groups of like two other people,”

Farris said.

This was a big change from last year, where

the cast would be able to rehearse in person,

collaborate, and build off of each other.

“We don’t get to watch each other and learn

from each other’s feedback, like in person, and

that’s really valuable,” Muramoto said.

Muramoto added that while there were negatives

to the virtual setting of rehearsals this year,

“there [are] also perks, I guess, to doing things

online: you get to see yourself, you have more

space to film yourself, and see exactly where you

can improve.”

As she commented on her last rehearsal, Farris

couldn’t help but smile.

“My last rehearsal was on Friday. I think it went

well. It was really cool because we did a full run

through and we got to see everyone doing their

monologues,” Farris said.

The costume crew, also known as “pretty crew,”

is a specialty which has had to adjust greatly

this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions and

mandates.


19.

Delta freshman Al Eburne, a member of

wardrobe design, explained what costumes

looked like for him.

“What happens is the cast members really get to

know their characters and share their vision for

them, and we kind of work to bring it to life,”

Eburne said.

They also spoke on the artistic liberties he was

able to take with this production specifically:

“It’s our job to add like a modern twist to what

is a more traditional piece and that’s always

really exciting.”

Farris commented further on the independence

that each cast member was granted, and how

creativity and collaboration were key factors in

this year’s costume design process.

“It was really much more of a partnership, I

guess, between pretty crew and each character to

come up with the costumes. Rather than how it

has been in the past where it’s more of like ‘oh,

this is my character, and pretty crew works on

it,’” she said.

While creativity is heavily encouraged, there are

limitations that come with the virtual setting.

“We would research the character. We would

research their personality and how they dress

and their class and such,” Muramoto said.

Rather than sewing costumes together

themselves, and making adjustments over long

periods of time, Thespians pulled costumes

from Penn State’s costume library.

“Sometimes we do pull costumes, depending

on the show, it’s just we used to have a lot more

freedom to make things for our costumes if we

wanted to, especially with props,” Muramoto

said.

Despite having to step over unforeseen

boundaries this year, pretty crew managed to

get their job done, and done well. Without


20.

them, the cast would be unable to bring their

characters fully to life.

The filming process for this production has

been drastically different than anything else the

Thespians have done, probably because they’ve

never filmed something before.

While talking about the filming process, State

High sophomore Madeleine Christopher spoke

on how it all started.

“I was actually the first person to film all my

stuff, so that was on Saturday the 14th (of

November) … I mean, it felt weird because I was

the only person there but it was fun to do it

even if it was just for Jill and the techies,” she

said.

Despite not having the glamour of a live

audience she’s otherwise used to, Christopher

was content in knowing she was still putting on

a show.

Similarly, Frank Liu, senior editor of the

entire production, commented on his role in

filmmaking.

“I’m editing monologues along with several

other editors, as well as helping Jill Campbell

supervise production,” Liu said.

Liu is in control of various different aspects of

the process, from directing what actors are to do

to explaining what emotions they are to portray.

Adding on to his observations of the process,

Liu noted, “[It] has been highly collaborative…

and has conscripted a lot of students that

wouldn’t necessarily work on a theater

production, including me. So that would be like

editors, musicians, sound designers, and so on.”

The editing of Women of Spoon River has been a

large bulk of the production as a whole. In the

face of the large workload, editors have found

themselves working together as they delegate and

divide the workload to finish the project.


21 | WINTER 2020

“We’re starting to get more organized because

all of the editors have assignments and a large

portion of the footage, score, and sound effects

have been compiled. Long email chains about

editing procedures and ensuring consistency

across different editors have been sent. At this

point, we’re in the thick of post-production,”

Liu said.

Seeing as Thespians has only ever done in

person productions, it’s only expected for their

editors this year to learn as they go. Liu added

on to this with the perspective of lead editor.

“Starting out, as on any project, there’s been

a lot of trial and error...but my role is kind of

digging stones out of the path will allow us to

traverse it more smoothly on this production,”

Liu said.

State High Thespians have met the everchanging,

swift pace of this year with

great resilience. By turning obstacles into

opportunities, they’ve begun a project that

otherwise may not have been considered

feasible. Women of Spoon River, as a film,

has given the cast and crew a chance to try

something new--and if it’s anything like the

rest of their work, it will be nothing short of

spectacular.

Starting Jan. 15 until the 17, you can watch

their hard work come to life alongside the rest

of State High by streaming Women of Spoon

River on ShowTix for $5. If these dates don’t

work--you’re in luck! In being a fully virtual

production, the film will be available for the

same price on-demand from Jan. 16-24 on

ShowTix.


Over the past few months,

I’ve spent a lot of time

thinking about what life was

like before the pandemic. There

were so many days I chose to

spend my time at home when

I could have been out with my

friends-- oh the irony. While I

OP-ED

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE

DISORDER: HOW TO COPE

DURING A PANDEMIC

BY GRACE JONES

was stuck at home and trying to

figure out how to adapt to this

new reality, I learned two things:

how much I depend on my

friends and how FaceTime can’t

compare to seeing someone in

person. The pandemic has taken

away moments we once took

for granted, and for those who

thrive off human connection,

digital substitutes can’t compare

to these lost moments. Still,

where there is darkness, there is

light. For many, the outdoors

have been a place of solace

throughout these difficult times,

and the changing of seasons

threatens the addition of new

problems.

Each year when the days

begin to get shorter, the weather

starts to get colder, and nightfall

comes earlier and earlier, there’s

always a dark cloud hovering

over people affected by Seasonal

Affective Disorder (SAD).

Despite SAD affecting 5% of

the U.S. adult population, it

is still a misunderstood and

misinterpreted condition. While

it shares certain similarities with

depression, seasonal depression

differs in two main aspects:

it occurs at the same time

every year and is most directly

affected by the weather. For

people suffering from SAD,

social interaction is important

in navigating the additional

stressors put on them during this

time of year.

Junior Anastasia Figart has

experienced SAD firsthand and

found that the main thing that

helped her through was being

with her friends.

“They remind me that even

though it may be gloomy, these

days are exactly like the rest and

I shouldn’t let these shadows

hold me,” Figart said.

For her and the thousands

of people that are experiencing

SAD right now, this option has


23 | WINTER 2020

been taken away. The pandemic

has trapped the majority of

us within the confines of our

house, and the little connections

that brought us together are no

longer there.

I’ve always felt like the most

important moments are the

small ones that fill our days.

Giving your favorite teacher a

high five in the hallway, sharing

your morning Dunkin’ coffee

with your friends, or even

something as simple as passing

notes back and forth in class.

All these little things brought us

closer together even if for just

a second and, for people who

struggle to find happiness due

to SAD, it’s moments like these

that can mean a lot.

For several students at State

High, these little moments

that have been taken away have

made a big difference. Junior

James Dobson, who has been

experiencing SAD since he was

13, shared that COVID-19 just

heightened the feeling that he

was already experiencing.

“The cabin fever definitely

elevated it to an extent,” Dobson

said. “Staying inside with this

constant fear of going outside

made things so much worse.”

As we continue to stay in

remote learning, we spend eight

or more hours a day staring at

a screen. While the strain of

remote learning is undeniable,

the remote format can offer

a moment of relief for those

struggling with SAD. Dobson

found that being virtual allowed

him to fill more of his day with

things that bring him happiness.

“It was definitely helpful

because it allows me to do other

things that make me feel a little

better about the situation,”

Dobson said.

It’s especially important to

check in on your friends now.

Since SCASD is fully remote, it’s

quite easy for students to hide

from their peers and teachers.

Symptoms that might start to

show in school can be hidden

now that students are learning

from behind a screen. Although

being virtual can give some relief

in a tough moment, it can make

it too easy for students to act like

they’re fine.

For those who feel like they’re

struggling or developing SAD,

students shared tips that they’ve

found helpful.

Dobson recommends that you

try to do things that still make

you happy but follow COVID

regulations.

“Take a long walk and listen

to music, take a warm bath, and

treat yourself with love--or at

least try to,” Dobson said.

Figart encourages students to

engage in wellness activities.

“Meditation or exercise to

help clear your mind,” Figart

said. She also shared that

planning something to look

forward to can help boost your

mood and get you excited for the

next day.

These are hard times for

everybody, so if you or anyone

you know is struggling or

feels they may be experiencing

SAD, please reach out to your

counselors, parents, friends,

and/or the SAMHSA National

Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.


PAN DE JAMÓN

RECIPE COURTESY OF ISABELLA CACERES

“Pan de Jamón is a special Venezuelan dish my family prepares each

holiday. Its origin traces to the 20th century where it was first created in

a bakery in Caracas, Venezuela. It was originally made only with ham,

but throughout the years, the dish has added in other ingredients like

nuts, raisins, and olives. While this dish can still be enjoyed fresh from

the bakeries, many families, like my own, enjoy making them in their

households for celebrations with family and friends. I hope you can

appreciate preparing and enjoying this custom with us too!”

ILLUSTRATION BY MARISSA XU


-RECIPE-

INGREDIENTS

1 TSP SUGAR

1 ½ CUPS HOT WATER

2 TBSP. YEAST

1 LITER MILK

250g UNSALTED BUTTER

½ TSP. SUGAR

1 CUP SUGAR (SEPARATE)

4.4 LBS FLOUR

3.3 LBS HAM

450 g GREEN

OLIVES(SEEDLESS)

350g RAISINS

OPTIONAL: 250g SLICED

BACON

1. In a medium bowl, put your 1 ½ cups of hot water and mix

in 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of yeast. Let it sit

covered for approximately 15 minutes.

2. In a separate large mixing bowl, mix 1 litre of milk and 200

grams of melted butter. Add in and mix ½ teaspoon of salt

and the remaining 1 cup of sugar.

3. In the same bowl with the milk mixture, slowly add in small

amounts of flour all the while continuing to mix. Once your

mixture reaches a non sticky uniform consistency, add in

the rested yeast and sugar mixture. After adding in the yeast,

continue to add in the leftover flour and mix until that doughlike

consistency is reached again.

4. Take the dough out of the bowl, and knead until no longer

sticky to your. Be careful not to play with it too much. After

reaching desired texture, place it in a bowl and cover the bowl

with a rag or plastic wrap. Let it rise and sit for approximately

1 hour.

5. After letting the dough rise, slice the large sample into 4 parts. Before rolling each section out, place

some flour onto your workspace to prevent stickiness. After doing so, use a pin roller to stretch the

dough into a semi-thin rectangular shape.

6. At this point, melt a small amount of butter to spread on each rectangle of dough. This improves

cooking times and allows each ingredient to stick properly. Now, place the ingredients spread evenly

on the dough platform.

7. Once you are happy with the quantity and spread of ingredients, carefully roll and tuck the dough to

create an inner spiral. Make sure the ends of the roll are tightly closed to prevent a spill of ingredients.

8. After you’re done rolling, lightly poke the roll with a fork all over to allow the air inside when it cooks

an escape and prevent bursting. Repeat steps 6-8 with each roll.

9. Use a sheet pan covered with parchment paper to place the Pan de Jamóns in order to have a nonstick

bake.

10. Preheat the oven to 385°F and, once heated, place the product in the oven. Leave to bake for 30

minutes. Make sure to check throughout on the progress of the bread.

11. Let cool, slice, and enjoy!


26 | WINTER 2020

THE TOP TEN CHRISTMAS MOVIES

TO WATCH THIS SEASON

BY RACHEL FOSTER

1. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

George Bailey has spent his entire life dedicated to Bedford Falls in order to prevent Mr. Potter, a corrupt

richman, from taking over the town. But when his uncle makes a fatal business mistake and Potter

capitalizes on that, Bailey fears that he will take the blame and contemplates death. Believing that others

will be better off with him dead, Clarence, an angel, visits him to earn his wings and show George how

meaningful his life is. It’s A Wonderful Life is the epitome of a Christmas classic. It’s a story of love,

family, and how much you can affect people without even knowing it. It embodies fully the love and

warmth of the Christmas season and what the holidays are genuinely there for.

2. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

Charlie Brown is depressed by the materialism of Christmas, and his friend Lucy suggests that he

steps up as the director of the school christmas play to rediscover the true meaning of the holiday. He

struggles to take on this role, and tries to improve his spirit by restoring a sad Christmas tree, but really

looks to his friend Linus to learn the true meaning of Christmas. Not only is its animated style so

charming, but A Charlie Brown Christmas has a really simple message: appreciate those around you and

don’t buy into the consumerism surrounding Christmas.


27 | WINTER 2020

3. HOME ALONE

The McCallister family is preparing for a holiday trip to Paris, France, but make a grave realization

as their flight departs: they left their youngest son, Kevin, at home. While he’s home alone, Kevin

unearths the schemes of two robbers, Harry and Marv, who plan to rob his house on Christmas Eve.

Armed with his own clever booby traps, Kevin must use his wits to protect the house. Home Alone is a

hilarious Christmas movie, and the silly antics of Kevin McCallister seem to never get dull. Upon first

watch and rewatch, the chase between Kevin and the burglars will never not be funny.

4. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1996)

The Grinch is heartless and despises everything about Christmas and how the Whos celebrate it.

With hatred in his heart, he disguises himself as Santa Claus and goes down to Whoville to steal their

Christmas away. With three adaptations of the story from the Dr. Seuss book, the original animated

1996 version is the best one. With fun colors and a great soundtrack, this film never disappoints. It feels

so authentic in a market that has been saturated with such similar Christmas stories.

5. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION

The Griswold family always seem to be getting themselves into some crazy situations fueled by bad luck,

and this bad luck is heightened by the arrival of their extended family for Christmas. Clark Griswold is

just trying to survive the season and make it special, and he hopes that he will receive a Christmas bonus

to make the holidays special. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a hilarious family comedy and

is easy for those who feel they have a crazy and embarrassing family to relate to. The film relies on irony

to deliver jokes, and it works magic for the film.


28 | WINTER 2020

6. A CHRISTMAS STORY

A Christmas Story is told from the point of view of a young boy named Ralphie, and follows him as he

recounts his experiences through the holiday season with his family. Throughout the film, all he wants

is to persuade his parents and Santa to get him a Red Ryder BB for Christmas. A Christmas Story is the

movie that almost everyone has playing somewhere on Christmas morning. It’s another movie that’s

a popular family tradition to watch together, and the lack of story-line, besides what it means to be a

family on Christmas, really works for the film’s structure.

7. LITTLE WOMEN (2020)

An adaption of the classic 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women follows the journey of the

March family, but more specifically Jo March, as she strives to become an important writer. Jo and her

sisters experience everything from romance to family conflict in this coming of age story. Little Women

isn’t your traditional Christmas film. It’s definitely much more cinematic, and features a star-studded

cast. The story itself is timeless, and the film creates a sense of family unique to the holiday season.

8. WHITE CHRISTMAS

Following WW2, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis leave the army to pursue a successful career in show

business. While the pair are in Florida, they meet sisters Betty and Judy Haynes, who are interested in

show business as well and have a sister act together. Instantly attracted to Judy, Phil convinces Bob to

travel up to Vermont with the pair to perform a giant show at a dying ski lodge.


29 | WINTER 2020

9. RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER

Rudolph, a reindeer living in the North Pole, has a glowing red nose and is made fun of by the other

reindeers for his deformity. Feeling like an outcast, he runs away and meets Hermey the elf and Yukon

Cornelius, a miner, and the trio escapes the North Pole. As they are being hunted by an abominable

snowman who stalks the land, they run to the Island of Misfit Toys. When a great snowstorm hits on

Christmas, Rudolph must return to the North Pole and use his nose to help Santa guide his sleigh.

For anyone who has ever felt like a misfit, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer teaches us that our quirks

actually make us very special. The film also has fun musical numbers and is a family favorite all around.

10. ELF

Elf follows a man named Buddy who was accidentally taken to the North Pole as a baby and now

believes he is an elf. Buddy soon learns that his true father, Walter Hobbs, lives in New York City. After

discovering that his father is on the naughty list, he sets out to meet him to try and change him. Along

the way, he meets new friends, falls in love, and saves the Christmas spirit that has been lost around

the world. Despite the fact that Elf only came on the scene recently, it became a cult classic almost

overnight, with many tuning to see why it was so good. If you haven’t watched Elf, you must be living

under a rock.

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM: @lionsdigest1



31.

This year has been hard. Very hard. So incredibly

hard. All it takes is a quick look at social

media, and it becomes abundantly clear just

how much everyone is struggling right now. We’re all

dealing with the overwhelming stresses of a global

pandemic, which are only worsened by the stresses of

normal life. In the end, 2020 has been one really sucky

year.

With that said, this school year should have been just

as awful. Just like 2020, this school year should have

been a sucky, monstrous, dreadful, good-for-nothing

school year. And yet, for me, it hasn’t been.

Yes, this school year has been hard. Yes, it’s been

stressful. But, it’s also been fun. It’s been goofy. It’s been

exciting. For me, it’s been a good school year. And of all

the reasons why I’ve enjoyed this school year, there’s

one that stands above the rest: all of you, the students of

State High.

I know this isn’t how you expected your high school

experience to go. This is a major let down. You’ve had

to sacrifice so much. From the ability to be in school

with your friends, to the traditions and experiences of

normal high schoolers, you’ve made sacrifices for the

safety of your community.

And yet, you’ve stayed resilient. You’ve stayed fun.

You’ve stayed yourselves.

And for that, I’ll never be able to thank you enough.

In a year that should be remembered for the stress

and overwhelmingness of it all, I’ll forever remember

it for you: the students who make it all worth it. You

show up every day and make class fun and enjoyable.

You smile and you laugh and you make the most of this

year. You provide happiness in a year of dreariness. You

help make the stress of this year fade away.

You amaze me, State High. Every day, you make me

so proud to teach at this school. We are so incredibly

lucky to have students like you.

Thank you for being you!

Trevor Dietz


32.

Students,

It is said that teachers inspire kids. And while that

may be true, kids also inspire teachers. You are

the lifeblood of the school. You remind us that

the world does not have to be cynical. You help

us remember that life doesn’t have to always be

serious. You make us laugh. You make us pause,

reminding us about the pain of break ups. You keep

us young. And, even though we don’t understand

them or appreciate them, you keep us up-to-date

on latest trends of the world. You give us the

energy to wake up everyday to do what we do. Most

importantly, you remind us that people are the

most important thing in the world. Thanks for

inspiring us.

- Mr. Ruocchio

To all my Study Hall Students,

None of you seen to understand. I’m not locked in

here with you. You’re locked in here with ME.

Mr. Grissinger


33.

Ever since last March, fully remote and hybrid

school learning plans have thrown many

cancellations and roadblocks our way, but thanks

to you, our students, we ‘virtually’ found new

ways to carry on. When classes started this fall,

I asked my ARTsmART students to sum up

how the pandemic has affected their art form of

choice. I was surprised by the positivity shared

in response. So many students talked about the

‘new’ ways we found to not just share, but produce

performances and gallery tours online. Words like:

creative, innovative, grateful, and enlightening were

shared. Last spring, Thespians, while sad about the

cancellation of our spring musical, set aside that

disappointment to focus on a virtually produced

online Cabaret. We stayed connected by setting up

Zoom meetings and online events and activities.

We found new ways of doing things ‘together.’ This

August, students came with experience and ideas.

Teachers sought out summer workshops and ideas

as well. By putting all of our collective creativity

together we are not only sharing our art forms,

but producing new works we would not even have

considered in the past. We are coming up with

ways to include everyone, hybrid, fully remote, and

virtual. We are staying involved and learning and

creating together. While nothing is the same, new

and different is filling the gap with new challenges

and opening doors we never thought about

entering before. Our community connections are

strong and getting stronger and we are finding

that by working together, we can do so much more

than we initially thought possible. Congratulations

State High. You are amazing!

“IT’S NOT WHAT YOU

CAN’T DO, IT’S ‘HOW CAN

CREATIVE WORK-AROUNDS

OPEN UP A WHOLE NEW

WORLD?’”

Jill Campbell


34.

A note to students from your favorite fan...

I am in awe of the way the students are handling this very

difficult time. In all seriousness, my students thus far could

be the BEST I have ever had in my 31 years teaching. That

is a testament to your resolve and ability to adapt and move

forward. What you are doing is NOT easy. You all want to

come to school and be with your friends and learn, but the

pandemic has other plans. The way you all are carrying

yourselves is incredible to me. They say adversity shows your

character and we have seen yours. I think it is important to

remember that all of this is temporary and in time we will get

back to normal. I AM SO VERY PROUD OF YOU ALL!!!

You GOT this!!!

Mr. Kissell

To my past and present students,

2020 has been a year that I can’t describe adequately

with just words because I have experienced so many different

emotions. Many of those emotions are ones I am sure you

have experienced as well, such as sadness, frustration, grief,

and at times, even anger. However, the biggest takeaways from

this past year are rooted in happiness and joy. The shutdown

gave me an opportunity to slow down and take stock in what

I have and truly cherish. Even though I couldn’t spend face

to face time with family, friends, and my students, the virtual

conversations kept us connected. I even talked with people

that I had not talked to in years. I had some individual and

small group conversations with students that were real, funny,

and uplifting. I also spent more time outdoors than usual and I saw more people walking in the

neighborhood and at the local park than I had in a long time. But my biggest takeaway is that virtual

learning serves a purpose, but is no replacement for in-person learning. I miss seeing my students daily

in person, past and present. I hope that as you look back on 2020, you will choose to remember the

good times, the people that were there for you, and what or who you cherish most. My wish for you is a

safe, happy and in-person 2021!

Mrs. Hart

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