By: Will Bedwell
This past January Oak Grove’s Drama Department showcased its talented members at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, held this year in Atlanta, Georgia.
SETC is a recruitment process which allows students in the Southeastern United States to try out for numerous college drama programs. Suzanne Allmon, Oak Grove’s drama director of 15 years, takes any students to the conference who wish to attend. This year she took juniors Amelia Passer and Taylor Nace as well as seniors Chris Permenter and Kaz Zumbro.
Students chose to either try out in the field of tech or acting. Passer, Permenter, and Zumbro exhibited their talents in the technical field. They each were given space on a table where they could organize set and costume ideas that they would explain to recruiters from different colleges. Nace, however, chose to perform in the field of acting. She had to perform a one-minute monologue and a 30-second song, both in only one attempt.
“I was beyond nervous knowing I was auditioning for so many colleges. It was sickening, but the exhilaration it brought was awesome,” Nace said.
All four students came back extremely successful from the conference with a multitude of offers from many colleges. Some of the scholarships awarded were even in excess of $20,000. Allmon was pleased with their performances stating, “I’m very proud of them. Almost always the kids we take to SETC do exceptionally well, and the experience plus the scholarships they receive are great.” In order to witness the extreme stage talent here at Oak Grove, one can attend both the Junior Class Show and the Spring Show.
The Junior Class Show was held on March 31st with another show upcoming April 7th at 7:00 p.m. They will be performing the comedy “Questionable” by Alan Haehnel. The show, which involves all the juniors in the department, is essentially an acted-out standardized test with the audience as the test takers and is sure to provide countless laughs.
The Spring Show, to be performed at 7:00 p.m. on April 28th and 29th, is likewise a comedy entitled “A Night of Durang.” The show was written by Christopher Durang who has written many comedic pieces for the likes of both Carol Burnett and Robin Williams. The two shows can be seen by purchasing tickets from Allmon. Adult tickets cost $7 and students $5.
If these shows prove enticing to any students, auditions for the award winning Oak Grove Drama Department will be held April 18th and 21st after school. To audition one must perform a chosen monologue by Allmon, which are currently available outside the drama room door.
Tag Archives: Will Bedwell
By: Will Bedwell
By: Will Bedwell
The Strokes came to fame within a week of releasing their 2001 debut album Is This It. Critics were quick to tout them as the 21st Century’s saviors of rock ’n roll. That first album was indeed pure, bare to the bones rock, and the band influenced a whole new revolution of simple, garage rock. For likely worse, the world wanted more.
Both albums that followed the debut seemed like The Strokes, a band priding itself on being too cool to care about its image, were trying way too hard to actually be cool. Listening to Is This It, one hears five guys reciting their fun, yet not unordinary, life tales of partying hardy through multiple failed friendships and romances on the East Side of Manhattan- tales no one would mind having a chance to enjoy. Fans loved the simplicity both musically and ideologically that The Strokes stood for.
In 2006, The Strokes seemed to have given up on any plausibility of recreating the beauty found throughout their first album. After a four year hiatus, however, they are back and not in too bad of form either. The Strokes new album Angles was released recently; 10 years since their chart shattering debut. They have attempted to go back to basics while still fostering the more mature sound formed on their second and third albums. Lead Singer Julian Casablancas describes that the plan was to “get really out there but have it go full circle and sound pretty normal.” And back to normal is exactly what fans wanted after the strange artsy flop that was the band’s third album First Impressions of Earth.
The nonchalance of Casablancas’s lyrics and the band’s smooth, catchy melodies aren’t quite fully back yet, but they do certainly come close to what everyone has been waiting for. The sound is stripped down and thankfully doesn’t seem like the band attempted such a feat. The result just occurred exactly as it did at the beginning of The Strokes’s career.
Don’t expect a carnation of the original band, though. They now have added some electro-pop influenced keyboards which cause some tracks to shine and makesothers sound far too corny for the all black, skinny jean wearing group of long-haired, post-punk rockers. After a few listens, the fourth album begins to sound like the sophomore record the band never had. The majority of tracks stay true to their original sound with some unique new ideas and even a drum-less ballad “Calls Me Back” is thrown into the mix. There are hints of Vampire Weekend poppiness just below the surface of some songs, and a Radio Head-esque mysticism present on others. The combination makes for a very interesting, fresh record.
In the end still, The Strokes still are facing a dilemma that this album fails, like their past attempts, to shatter. The dilemma is that in 2001, The Strokes blew the lid off of dying rock ‘n roll. The passion they had, wrapped away behind dark sunglasses and cooler than thou smirks, has sense quickly faded during their continued aspirations to recreate it. The Strokes will always be judged against The Strokes, and sadly, this time the newer turn of the decade group falls short yet again. Those who love the band will enjoy the new evolution portrayed here, but the die hard original listeners hoping rock ‘n roll can be salvaged one last time will yet again be sorely disappointed.
By: Will Bedwell
The Oak Grove boys’ power lifting team has two goals left to accomplish this year: win South State, then win State. They are ready to do the work it takes to accomplish such feats. So far this season, the team, under the leadership of Coach Schraeder as well as seniors Wess Morgan and Cody Davis, have already won both power lifting meets they have attended. Their first meet was at the Hattiesburg High School Invitational towards the beginning of the season. Schraeder was very impressed with this first demonstration of the team’s power but was even more ecstatic after their performance at the Regional meet. There, they qualified 12 lifters in 11 different weight classes whom will take to South State held on March 12th at Hattiesburg High School. The top three competitors in each weight class qualify to South State, which makes the team’s performance at this Regional their best ever in the past six years that Schraeder has been head coach.
The majority of the team has been training since December. At a typical meet, each individual lifter must perform three types of lifts: squat, bench, and dead-lift. A competitor has three tries at each lift. Then the judges take the top score in each lift and add the three up to determine the winner of that weight class. At Regionals, members Shawn Anderson, Trevor Neely, John Pride, and Diamonte’ Venson all won first place in their weight classes for the Warriors.
Looking forward to South State, Coach Schraeder believes the team will win and then go on to be a formidable opponent at the State Meet. “If, at South State, we can qualify at least seven to State, then we stand in an excellent position to win,” Schraeder said. Schraeder is also quick to specify that the team’s success so far is due directly to the lifters who are volunteering to help the team train. These two young men are Knute Douglas and Chris Tran. They both won State Championships in power lifting during their high school careers and now power lift internationally. Douglas won his for Oak Grove, and Tran for St. Stanislaus High School. Super Heavyweight class (the largest class) lifter Wess “Do Work” Morgan praises both Douglas and Tran. “I’m indebted to them both. Without them I would in no way be as strong and powerful as I am now. And I’m glad I’m that way now. The whole team is glad we have grown so much under their direction, and that is what will allow us to win State,” Morgan said.
If the team continues on their winning streak, they will without a doubt have the ability to win State. Standing in their way now at South State are Hattiesburg High School and Gulfport High School. The team, however, feels confident that they can defeat both of these adversaries and they lift gigantic weights in that exact same confident way.
By: Will Bedwell
Transparency in government is a necessary part of National Sovereignty. The citizens of the U.S. deserve to know what their government is doing. This right of knowledge, however, only extends so far. There comes a point when citizens need not and do not know what the government is doing in regards to national security. The fact is that secrecy is an fundamental aspect of national security. Citizens are not told what specific military tactics are used and where certain military bases are positioned. They are not aware of this knowledge because their knowing would make it easier for enemies of the State to gain this knowledge. We are embedded deep in a war on global terror in order to defend our nation and our ally nations. If terrorists are allowed access to confidential information about our government and military actions, they become a stronger enemy and a more dangerous force both on domestic and foreign soil.
Wikileaks is a nonprofit organization which runs a main website and hundreds of mirror websites with the sole goal of global transparency in all governments. Through the use of computer hacking and the obtaining of government leaks, the website publishes secret government documents that any one with an internet connection can read. The problem with this is that both Al Qaeda and the Taliban both have internet access. This means that they are able to read and learn from these documents so they may better combat our troops in the Middle East. If these terrorist organizations gain any upper-hand in the battles we are fighting, they come one step closer to gaining the strength in order to make another terrorist attack like 9/11. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates commented on the Wikileak documents stating that, “The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are dangerous for our troops, our partners, and may well damage our relationships, military tactics, and techniques in that key part of our world.”
The leaked documents reveal not only the exact GPS locations of military bases, as well as tactics, but also the military’s methods of gathering intelligence and the names and addresses of people in the Middle East who are working alongside NATO forces. Now, terrorists can get a complete list of who is helping the United States and where to find them. The effects of this are already reverberating in the War on Terror. Now, people in the Middle East are afraid to help the U.S. out of fear that any terrorists in their neighborhood or city can simply go to WikiLeaks and find their names in order to hunt them down and kill them.
Many large news organizations print confidential government documents that they feel the American people should be aware of. They do this, however, within a journalistic standard. They are sure to censor the names and locations of people within the documents and always make sure to redact anything the U.S. government deems a danger to national security. Julian Assange, the founder and CEO of Wikileaks, has one of the worst redaction records in the world of journalism and makes no attempts to censor the documents posted on his website. He pursues journalism with no regard for the safety of anyone, and that is not journalism or a good cause. Assange claims his intentions are pure but continually threatens to release what he describes as a megaton nuclear document that will reveal thousands upon thousands of secret U.S. documents if the U.S. government attempts to take down his website.
Anyone who makes threats such as that against the U.S. is obviously an enemy of the United States. Also, after gauging the vast array of secrets already published by Wikileaks, the fact is obvious that Wikileaks poses a direct threat to the U.S. War on Terror, and in turn, to U.S. national security as a whole. An organization which does such as this is obviously one that must be stopped before more deaths are caused and more operations that protect our citizens are compromised.
By: Will Bedwell
The Golden Spirits have now been crowned the State Grand Champions in Dance for the third season in a row. At the state contest this past December, the dancers competed in four different categories: Kick, Jazz, Pom, and Hip-Hop. The judges score each team’s individual dances. Oak Grove’s scores were first place in Kick and third place in Jazz. The team’s Kick routine gave them the highest overall score at the competition and sealed the victory of their third State Championship. The team’s score for Kick routine was the highest overall score given for any dance that day, a feat all of the team’s dancers are extremely proud of.
Success was not a surprise to the dancers; they had already won a previous competition during the season in Pearl, MS. There, under the leadership of seniors Rachel Parker and Meredith Worely, the team’s 13 dancers received first place in both Jazz and Pom routines and were crowned the Grand Champions. The competitions at Pearl and at State were the only two the dancers attended, giving them a perfect season.
The team is sponsored by Anatomy and Physiology teacher Tracy Oglesby who has been with the team for six years. She works with the team for one class period a day during the fall semester. There, Oglesby helps the dancers clean and perfect their routines with one goal in mind: State Competition. While speaking about the team, Oglesby noted that each dancer had different talents and that the team as a whole relied on each of their special talents to complement each other. Many of the dancers have been practicing dance and ballet for their entire lives, so joining the dance team was a natural choice. “The girls have a real passion for dance and that shows in their performance. They enjoy what they do. That’s the key,” Oglesby said.
This enjoyment and passion goes into every one of the team’s routines. Their dances are choreographed by Glen Jenkins and Jessica Caillet who look for fun and creative routines that the dancers will love to do and do well. These dances are performed at all of the home football and basketball games to pep up the student body. The dancers now look forward to next year, with intentions not only to keep the student body’s spirit up, but also to bring home another State Championship trophy to OGHS for the fourth consecutive year.
By: Will Bedwell
Former Oak Grove baseball coach Harry Breland has no lack of awards or State Championship titles, but just this past December he was given one of the highest honors of his career. Breland was inducted into the National High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, part of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).
Being inducted into their hall of fame is no minor feat. In order to be eligible for induction a coach must win multiple regional awards, have a high career winning percentage, write a relevant article for publication, and speak at the ABCA’s national convention and be nominated by multiple school officials. All of these requirements were more than met by Breland. He won three regional awards (Mississippi’s region includes a total of 11 states) in 2003, 2004, and 2007 as well as acquired a winning percentage of 79% after 824 wins and 223 losses in his career. Then he completed the last two requirements during the past few years. Beyond just this recent honor, however, Breland’s career is one of the longest and most impressive in Warrior history.
Breland grew up in Hattiesburg and played basketball at East Travillion High School while playing baseball in summer leagues until he earned his diploma in 1962. Afterwards he went on to study at Mississippi Valley State, graduating in 1966. His first coaching job was at John Jefferson High School where he was the head basketball coach and assistant football coach. In 1971 he came to Oak Grove High School where he coached varsity baseball as well as boys’ and girls’ basketball, ninth grade baseball, and ninth grade football. Also, his involvement with the school did not stop in the realm of
sports. In addition to coaching at Oak Grove, Breland taught American Government for 22 years after receiving a Master’s Degree in Education from William Carey College.
Of all the sports Breland first came to Oak Grove to coach, he would continue to coach baseball for the longest: a stretch of 37 years. During what would become known as the “Breland Era” of Oak Grove baseball, the team won nine State Championships, at least two in every decade during the four that Breland was head coach, and 11 South State Championships. Breland believes the two strongest teams he ever coached were those in ‘79 and ‘93. The ‘93 team was ranked sixth in the nation.
A man larger than life but equally as humble, Breland claims little of the team’s glory. He credits not only the players he had the great fortune of coaching, but also the community that supported him and his team for almost 40 years and the many coaches he had the honor of working with. “Teachers, administators, and students from all of the Oak Grove schools would come to our games. We could have never done what we did without the entire Oak Grove family behind us. Kids grew up wanting to play Oak Grove baseball, and it was that spirit which led us to many victories,” Breland said.
Breland retired after winning the State Championship in 2007. The move to retire was not an easy one. Three years prior, he was diagnosed with diabetes, and coaching began taking its toll on his physical health. “I had the greatest job I could ever dream of. But, it was still very stressful and a lot of hard work. It was tough to keep going,”Breland said. Even though Breland misses coaching, he believes he made the right choice to retire while on top.
Since retirement, Breland has constantly tried to give back to the community that has supported him for so long. Beyond volunteering in the community, Breland is a Board Chairman for Pearl River Valley Economic Oppurtunity Incorporated, a non-profit group that helps both senior citizens and the community’s less fortunate. The group helps members of the community find jobs and helps them with light and air conditioning bills while providing meals to those who are facing hard times.
Before his most recent Hall of Fame induction, Breland was already a member of the National Federation of High School Associations’ Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Coaches Association Hall of Fame. This notoriety, however, has not affected Coach Breland. He can still be seen at any Oak Grove sporting event where, as always, he is cheering on his Warriors and constantly giving back to the community around him.
By: Will Bedwell
The Oak Grove boy’s basketball team witnessed a huge crowd, the likes of which had never been seen before, as they stepped onto the court for their first home game of the year. The size of the crowd had a definite effect on the players. The team had an extra jump in their step as they put on a show for the crowd that resulted in their largest win of the season; beating Presbyterian Christian School 62–29 in stunning fashion. Coach Bradley, however, was more excited with the crowd turn out than his boys’ performances, stating: “With a student section like we had that night, the boys without a doubt played harder. Home crowds equal home wins.” The team hopes to continue to have such a large turnout at home games. Assistant Coach Brian Butler was quick to stress the fact that the team isn’t just the players’ but is also the school’s: “All the guys on the team are playing for the students. It isn’t our team. It’s theirs, and they should be proud of it.”
And the students this year have plenty of reasons to be proud of the boy’s basketball team this year. So far the team is 6-3 and playing stronger ball than has been seen in a number of years, if ever. Two of the losses came during the championship games at early season tournaments; one to Pass Christian and the other to Harrison Central. The other loss came last week against Gulfport. Coach Bradley explained that the team just played sloppy during the first half of the game which lead to the loss. “If the team had played the whole game just as they played during the second half, we could’ve won. Sadly, we didn’t do that,” Bradley said.
The team’s focus is on the State Championship, and there is still plenty of the season left to play. First they will have to perform well at the District Tournament in January in order to qualify for the State Tournament. Doing such will not be an easy task this year. Brandon and Meridian, the strongest competition in Oak Grove’s district, are ranked first and fourth in the state, respectively. The team and coaches believe that these teams are still far from unbeatable and that if the team continues to improve every night, as they have been doing, then victory can and will be attained by the Warriors.
The style of basketball played by the boy’s basketball team is fast and aggressive. The team is relatively small in stature, but what they lack in height they more than make up for in speed, determination, and ability. Once the ball enters the court, the team believes it is their rightful property and will stop at nothing to control it. The press defense they run coupled with a fast-paced high shooting team makes for an exciting game of basketball.
One new star that has emerged this year is senior Joseph Shaw. Shaw arrived at Oak Grove this year after moving from the Mobile area. He now leads the team in scoring, putting up an average of 20 points a game. Basketball is, most certainly, not a one man sport, and the team is very well rounded. Some other high scorers are Josh Carpenter, Jamar Brewer, and Zack Barlow. Leading the team in both assists and free throw shooting is senior Nick McLendon, who when speaking about his performance, emphasizes the team effort. “When we go out on the court, everyone has his roll to play. No one player has the highest stats in everything. We all have our certain niches, and when we perform those to our best ability, we win. We always win together,” McLendon said.
The junior varsity boy’s basketball team has taken such ideals to heart under the leadership of Coach Brandon Hill, and thus far have won their first game against Gulfport. Hill believes if they play as they did that night, then they have as much potential for a victorious season as the varsity team. Hill stated, “They work together, and they work hard. That is exactly what wins games.”
This sense of cohesiveness is what the varsity team is banking on to bring home a State Championship this year–that and their fans. The team only has seven home games left this year and hopes for as large of an attendance by the student body as occurred at the game versus PCS. One more home game has even been added against Harrison Central on December 21, where the Warriors hope to gain revenge form earlier in the season. Coach Bradley’s belief is if the team continues to improve as they have on the road as well at home, then they will be a viable force during the District Tournament. “If we can win this district, then we can beat any team at state,” Bradley said. And that is just what the Warriors aim to do.
By: Will Bedwell
Many students take their senior projects far and beyond the normal community experience that is expected. This year, two students have done just that: Emily Torres and Jordan Loper. Each of their projects were unique and impactful on a scale that is rarely seen accomplished by high schoolers.
Torres’s project was to throw a Thanksgiving lunch at the Light House Rescue Mission. LHRM is a home for abused women and children run by Kenneth Thronson. Torres started her project by finding volunteers to help with serving the lunch and getting corporate sponsors to fund the lunch. To do this, she sent out flyers at her church and throughout the community. She ended up securing 70 volunteers and $1,800 in funding.
By November 20, the planned date of the lunch, rolled around Torres was ready to serve up to 300 plates of food. The food was supplied by Simple Southern Catering. The owner of which was Torres’s mentor Rhonda Walters.
Torres ended up serving 266 plates of food to over 200 people at the home. Torres said, “Seeing all of those people help each other and be helped was a blessing in and of itself.” She was very impressed with the turnout of both volunteers and members of the home to her lunch, which she admitted was very stressful to think about while she did final preparations the morning before the lunch. Torres stated that she learned much needed organization skills from the project that became the foundation of the lunch’s success. So many people ate at the lunch that the catering group almost ran out of food; proving that her project was indeed a fulfilling one for both Light House Rescue Mission’s members and their member’s stomachs.
While most senior projects deal with the human community, Jordan Loper decided that her project would benefit a totally different species: squirrels. Loper’s project consisted of reintroducing orphaned squirrels back into the wild. She chose this project due to her long time fascination with and love of wildlife. Loper has constantly worked as a volunteer for the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Preservation Society (WRAMPS) and decided to choose one of its members, Dr. Karen Rushing, as her mentor.
By the end of Loper’s project, she had successfully raised three orphaned squirrels and reintroduced them into the wild. But doing so was no easy task. Raising baby squirrels takes nine to ten weeks of constant care. Loper had to feed them puppy milk six times a day while slowly weaning them onto other foods such as cereal and walnuts as well as constantly keep them in a controlled warm environment. The squirrels for part of their youth also cannot go to the bathroom on their own but have to be stimulated by an outside force to do so.
Loper’s favorite part of the project was watching the squirrels naturally grow and observe their instincts develop. And her most stressful activity was watching after the squirrels when they were very young because they needed constant attention; not an easy task for any busy high school senior. Loper claimed the saddest part of the project was releasing them into the wild: “Letting them go was tough, but I knew that I was doing the right thing, and that I had helped them.”
Obviously each year seniors are hatching ideas for larger and more interesting projects of achievement. If students follow the leads of Emily Torres and Jordan Loper, then there is no way of knowing how strong of a positive impact senior projects will continue to have on our community and wildlife.
By: Will Bedwell
The 2010-2011 school year has seen more drastic changes than almost any other year in our school’s history.
This year the two drastic changes are the implementation of school uniforms and a new exemption policy. The disgust felt by seniors in wake of the new uniform dress code was naturally expected. The largest solace any senior can find in this new dress code is that he or she must only deal with it for one year. Those who suffer the most are lower classmen who will be stuck with uniforms for the remainder of their high school careers.
The issue that has caused even larger unrest within the senior class, though, is the new exemption policy for the Lamar County School District. Up until this year, students at OGHS looked forward to being a senior so that they could finally be exempt from both their mid-term and final exams with an 85 average. But, just a mere few weeks before mid-terms, all of the sudden, the policy had apparently been changed. To the seniors and many teachers at this school’s surprise, the great senior privilege of being exempt from mid-terms had been removed. Seniors now can only be exempt from their finals with an 85 average and no one is permitted to be exempt from mid-term exams.
This new change was implemented with absolutely no publicity. Unlike the new dress code policy where all students knew the requirements and plans that came with uniforms, this new exemption rule was not shown to any seniors. No one would have known about the change until it was discovered by one teacher and referred to the principals in order to check the new rules’ validity.
The change was made due to “rising concerns with how well students graduating from Lamar County High Schools could tackle college exams.” The belief is that when one gains more practice taking cumulative exams in high school, then he or she will do better on college exams.
This rhetoric does sound strongly conclusive. But seniors must assess the situation and see how much the new policy actually allows for more practice and if taking away of their privileges will have any impact on their college experience.
The average Oak Grove High School student, if exempt from every final exam in every class and then exempt from every senior class mid-term as well as final, will take an estimated 24 mid-term exams in high school. The new policy will give an extra eight exams during the student’s senior year. The school board’s belief that students need more than 24 exams in order to learn how to study and prepare for an exam is a slap in the face to every senior.
Taking away senior privileges for a few more practices on exams is a direct insult to any senior’s intelligence. Those who work hard enough to attain the grades in order to be exempt are students that tend to excel better in college.
Essentially, the new policy simply takes away incentives for seniors to strive to be good students.
Senior privileges have been taken away this year for no direct cause, and the result is only a downward spiral of lost incentives, damaged work ethic, and disgust for a school board that neglects student feedback.
We can only hope that these few extra exam practices will somehow keep us working hard and help us in college. I hope seniors this year and in the years to come are overly optimistic, wishful thinkers.