Month: December 2017

Reyes crowned Miss Caprock at Scholarship Pageant

Rita Reyes was crowned Miss Caprock 2018 during the 60th annual scholarship pageant at South Plains College.

The event was held on Nov. 17 in the Tom T. Hall Recording Production Studio in the Creative Arts Building on the Levelland campus.miss cap

“When they called my name, I just felt relieved,” said Reyes, who represented the Student Government Association. “I don’t remember feeling, ‘Yay, me. I won!’ It was more like, ‘OK, I can breathe.’ [The experience] was amazing.”

Daughter of Rita and Abel Reyes of Lubbock, Reyes said she hopes to use the $750 scholarship toward going to law school.

“I am thankful,” the sophomore Government major said. “The money is going towards good use. I am now one step closer to my goal.”

This is not the first time Reyes has competed in the annual Miss Caprock scholarship pageant. She represented Forrest Hall last year, advancing to the top five.

“Honestly, I thought I had a better chance at winning last year than this year,” said Reyes. “I was a lot more confident then, but [being called] was a shock.”

The contestants participate in an interview with the judges before the show, then have two outfit changes and an on-stage interview during the pageant. The pre-interview made up 50 percent of the total score. ‘After 5 Wear’ and ‘Formal Wear’ comprised 25 percent of the score, and a response to judges’ questions on-stage was the last 25 percent.

Reyes said she is passionate about the recent issues involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) act. During the onstage judges’ question, Reyes was asked about DACA, so she knew just the thing to say.

“It was like the perfect question for me,” said Reyes. “I was so knowledgeable, and I knew this one certain fact. I felt like I was really passionate about the topic.”

Miah Hernandez, 19, a sophomore Pre-Nursing major from Lamesa, received a $500 scholarship for being named first-runner up. Hernandez represented the Biology Club.

Rounding out the top five contestants for the night were: Allyssa Almager, 18, a freshman Pre-Veterinary Medicine major form Levelland who represented the Catholic Student Ministry; Tina Gonzalez, 18, a freshman Public Relations major from Lubbock who represented the Plainsman Press and Press Club; and Destiny Lyon, 18, a freshman Elementary Education major from Lenorah, who represented the SPC Cheerleaders.

Each student club or organization nominated a student to represent them in the annual pageant. Also competing were: Madison Birchfield, 20, a sophomore Radiology major from Lubbock who represented South Sue Residence Hall; Maria Isabel Botello,19, a sophomore Computer Information Systems major from Ralls who represented SPeCtra; Esmeralda Cabrera, 19, a sophomore Education major from Muleshoe who represented Phi Theta Kappa; Lizeth Elvira Doblado, 19, a freshman Forensic Science major from Pharr who represented North Sue Hall; Erin Farrell, 18, a freshman Video Production Technology major from Homer, Alaska, who represented Tubb Hall; and Nicole Glenn, 21, a sophomore General Studies major from Ropesville, who represented the Baptist Student Ministry.

Other contestants included: Ambroshia Pollard, 27, a freshman Cosmetology Major from Lubbock who represented the Cosmetology Club; Jaynearose Quisenberry, 18, a freshman Pre-Veterinary Medicine major from Seminole who represented the STAR Center; Imelda Salcido, 19, a freshman General Studies and Surgical Technology major from Muleshoe who represented the Residence Hall Association; Jessica Sanders, 23, a sophomore Biology major from Lubbock who represented Campus Ambassadors; and Kaitlyn Walden, 19, a sophomore Accounting major from Post who represented the Geology Club.

Feed Levelland Bareque event offers free food, provides for community

Feed Levelland Barbecue offers free food and relief for needy

The front yard of St. Paul Lutheran Church was filled with people, as a long line extended from the main entrance while children gathered to play games on the grass.

People came to the church for the first Feed Levelland Barbecue Fest, which offered those attending a chance to donate to non-profit organizations and to enjoy a free meal.

This event, held on Nov. 11, began with people waiting in line to receive their free to-go plate of brisket, potato salad, and beans, while their children passed the time by playing carnival games for candy. While in line, people were given the opportunity to donate to organizations that are aimed toward gathering food for the needy, such as the Hockley County Food Box, Meals on Wheels, and the SPC Food Pantry.IMG_6111

Feed Levelland is an idea that was considered for an efficient way to help the needy in Levelland, while also collecting donations to help feed others who are not local.

Amanda Ullrich, the pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, took inspiration from the barbecues the church organized in the past and added a new element to establish this event.

“When I first came, I heard people talking about the barbecue they used to have,” said Ullrich, who has been pastor at the church for three years. “We realized that people missed it. Before, a lot of the funds were to help the church, but this time we thought, ‘Let’s just give it all away.”

Ullrich described how she went to a lot of the local non-profit organizations to get flyers for the barbecue. Recognizing these different groups within the barbecue was one thing that Ullrich said she felt was important to begin arranging the event.

“My hope is not just to raise funds for these groups, but to raise awareness,” said Ullrich.

The formation of this event involved a lot of work from Ullrich and members of the church. A lot of the effort for the barbecue has gone toward preparing and serving good quality meals for the attendees.

Kristy Sanders, a member of the church who helped pass out plates of food, mentioned how preparing the food was a task that required a lot of work.

“It’s actually a multi-congregational event,” said Sanders. “The Catholic church has also helped. The meat was donated, so the men from our church prepared all of the meat and the beans as well.”

The food for this barbecue was one aspect of Feed Levelland that was not easy to provide. But before obtaining the food and ingredients for the meals, a lot was done to ensure that the event was publicized well, and that all plans were executed.

Jan Esch, a member of the church who assisted Pastor Ullrich with preparing the barbecue, described the countless duties that had to be completed to get recognition for the event.

“It’s wild and crazy,” said Esch. “We’ve planned every step. We’ve gone and asked people for money. We’ve explained to the town what’s going on.”

The donations given throughout this event are what give the members of this church a sense of fulfillment.

“The Lord blesses those who try to do his work,” said Esch.

The impact of these donations has helped the people at this event realize the value of what they are doing for the community.

Nicholas Acosta, a volunteer at Feed Levelland, said that gathering donations for the needy is something that is meaningful. Receiving assistance during difficult times is a personal experience that Acosta said he dealt with and is the reason why he notices the major impact of the donations.

“I think it’s a good cause,” said Acosta. “It means a lot to me personally to be able to come out and give families, who may not be able to afford food all the time, donations to help them eat.”

Feed Levelland offers may opportunities to help people in need and brings the Levelland community together. Thoughts on continuing this event for years to come are abundant, as many felt content with the turnout.IMG_6123

Since this was the first year for the barbecue, Pastor Ullrich said she feels it would be great to arrange this event again.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Ullrich. “It’s really brought out the best in us. I’d love to see it grow.”

The Feed Levelland Barbecue started from a desire to give to people in need. The event has created an outlet for those who want to work together to achieve something greater.

“I feel there’s been a lot of need in Texas,” said Ullrich. “This is kind of a way to give back locally.”

South Plains College joins Levelland community in Christmas celebration

For the 60th anniversary of the founding of South Plains College, Levelland’s annual Festival of Lights was hosted on campus for the first time in a community-wide celebration to welcome the season with bright lights, holiday cheer, and lots of hot cocoa.

Before the event started at 6 p.m., Dr. Gary Hudson, professor of fine arts in music, led the SPC Symphonic Band as they performed familiar Christmas melodies to kick off the event in front of the Christmas light display.

While the band performed, families were given the opportunity to take photos with Santa Claus before the event moved to the town square.

The event began as the president of South Plains College, Dr. Robin Satterwhite gave remarks on the opportunity to host the festival.

“This year, we’re doing something a bit different,” Dr. Satterwhite told the community. “This year, we have the opportunity and the privilege to enjoy our first Festival of the Lights, thanks to Levelland Main Street and the Marigolds.”

Dr. Satterwhite then thanked the many organizations that participated in the organization and service of the festival, including the Grounds and Maintainance Department of South Plains College, which spent months decorating the campus.

“I’d also like to thank all of our student groups and faculty groups that will be joining in the parade today,” Dr. Satterwhite said.

IMG_0977Before starting the parade, Dr. Satterwhite joined Rita Reyes, the newly-crowned 2017-18 Miss Caprock Pageant winner, in connecting power to the Christmas light display on the northwest side of the campus.

“This is the neatest time of the year,” Dr. Satterwhite told the Plainsman Press. “It’s the perfect opportunity that we have as a college to do something for the community. This isn’t for us; it’s for the community. Something unique and exciting for a great holiday time.”

According to Dr. Satterwhite, Levelland Main Street first suggested the college join in the community’s celebration.

“We were delighted to do it,” he said. “Really, this is just a community gathering where everyone can get involved.”

At 6:15 p.m., following the lighting ceremony, SPC faculty and student organizations, along with Levelland community organizations, started their parade floats, and headed down Magnolia Street as they made their way to the town square, where the SPC Dance Team performed.

Politicians continue struggling with climate control solution

Reducing the effects on the environment by carbon emissions has been a concern that has grown during the past few decades from a niche problem into a top priority that is heavily debated among politicians

The idea of combatting climate by reducing pollution was introduced in legislation by former President George H.W Bush, according to Drew Landry, assistant professor of government at South Plains College.

“H.W Bush came up with this idea called ‘Cap and Trade,’” Landry told the Plainsman Press in a recent interview. “Businesses that pollute would be given a cap as to how much they could pollute in a year. If they were coming out under that cap, they would trade what they had left to businesses that needed to pollute more, hence the name. It wasn’t the best idea in the world. But it was a step forward.”

According to Landry, the Republican party took issue with the Cap and Trade legislation. However, in the ‘90s, the Democratic party picked up the idea of capping pollution and it became part of the 2000 campaign.

Landry says that the political polarization of climate change comes from what organizations back political parties.

“That’s where you get a lot of the polarizing aspects of it,” he said. “Big business has conducted its own tests on it and said, ‘No. Climate change is not human-caused. It’s not affected by oil.’ Whereas the Democrats would be funded by left groups like the Sierra Club and other environmental agencies.”

According to Landry, at the time, Republicans were in favor of having clean air and clean water, but they had concerns that the job market would be affected by the change. However, Landry says that because the concerns of Republicans differ from that of the Republican party, they must be approached with the issue from a different perspective.

“You talk to them about energy dependence and energy jobs,” Landry said. “Then you have a different conversation and you can start to reach across isles that you didn’t think you could.”

In March, National Public Radio reported that Texas led the nation in wind energy as the fastest growing state in the industry, with wind turbine technician being a leading job title in the United States.

Just South of Lubbock, in Scurry County, lies one of the state’s largest producers of wind turbines, according to Landry.

These advancements toward clean energy in Texas have been possible through the Electronic Reliability Council of Texas, known as ERCOT, a non-profit, membership-based council. ERCOT provides about 90 percent of the electric power in the state. ERCOT is also known as the Texas electric power grid.

ERCOT’s wind energy produces more than 25 percent of the organization’s energy.

According to Landry, Lubbock’s main power source, Lubbock Power and Light, or LP&L hopes to work with ERCOT. He says that LP&L’s switch from the Southwest Power Pull to the Texas Grid would make it easier for the city of Lubbock to begin installing wind turbines and solar panels.

“There’s an interesting relationship between LP&L and the Lubbock City Council,” Landry said. “Their board has to have an approval from the City Council and the City Council has to approve their move to ERCOT. Then we will disconnect from the Southwest Power Pull. The Texas Public Utility Commission will have their vote in 2018.”

In the summer, the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement under the administration of President Donald Trump. The agreement was a global coalition that was meant to curb carbon emissions that contribute to our changing climate.

“He [President Trump] said it [removing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement] would help out with jobs.” Landry said. “His idea was that the more regulation you have over businesses, the less that they would be able to function. He would rather have a United States agreement.”

According to Landry, President Trump and those in his party argue that the coal and oil industries will suffer from the switch to clean energy. He says that the research that goes into measuring the effects of climate change are questioned out of skepticism.

“They criticize the findings and the methodology,” Landry said. “They criticize the whole basis of the science. With all of the stuff that is going on, I think that the Texas Public Utility Commission would have to allow for LP&L to join ESCOT.”

Annual stocking drive brings joy, gifts to childern in need

Santa’s helpers are not just elves this year.

The South Plains College Reese Center library is hosting a stocking drive for children in need for the eighth consecutive year.

“We had students working in the Reese Library that came up with the idea about eight years ago,” said Tracey Pineda, librarian at the Reese campus and  director of the stocking drive. “One of them was part of a military family, and she was involved in an organization called Project Homefront that collected toys for children in military families, and she had toys left over.  Another student suggested the extra toys be put in stockings and taken to local hospitals.”

The Library is asking students, teachers and anyone in the community to donate. They are collecting new Christmas stockings and stocking stuffers to fill more than 200 stockings.

“We will be aiming a little higher than the 200 stockings, which was our original goal.” Pineda said. “There are more children at some of the locations than before, and we have gotten a few additional requests for stockings for children in some individual families that are struggling this year. I think our stockings have made such a good impression through the years that the organizations we have delivered to before are eager for us to visit again.”

stockingstuffers.pngThe Reese Center library welcomes any SPC student to volunteer and help the library student workers and staff to help collect and stuff stockings. They are also receiving help from Texas Tech students in TRIO Student Support Services for the second consecutive year. TRIO students are first-generation college students who are looking to participate in service projects to help the community.

The stockings will be delivered to children in hospitals who won’t be home around Christmas time, including Covenant Children’s, University Medical Center, and Covenant Levelland. Stockings also will be going to children in transitional homes, such as My Father’s House, Women’s Protective Services, and The Empowerment Restoration Center. The Empowerment Restoration Center in Lubbock was founded and directed by former SPC student Janet Railey.

The children receiving these stockings will be between the age of 5 months to 17 years old, and there are sibling groups in most of these locations.

Donations are being accepted through Dec. 15, and the first delivery is scheduled for Dec. 8. Donations can be dropped off at the Levelland and Reese Center campus libraries, as well as at donation boxes located at both the Reese Center and Lubbock Center campuses.

The library is accepting a wide variety of items. The list includes: baby wipes, infant clothing, bottles, teething toys, stuffed animals, bath toys, toys for various elementary-aged boys and girls, dolls (small enough to fit into stockings), puzzles, art supplies, paperback books, snacks, school supplies, caps and scarves, hygiene products, and much more.

“It’s challenging and kind of complex,” Pineda said. “There are a lot of moving parts.  The goal is to take what we receive and prepare stockings for the children based on their ages and have enough to go around—and not just enough to barely fill the stockings, but to fill them out.  Seeing that come together is like witnessing a miracle almost.”

As donations are received, students sort through the stocking stuffers and sort them by age appropriateness. Then the stocking stuffing can begin.

“It’s fun, but a lot of work, and a little more complex than most students think at first,” Pineda said.

After students finish filling and packing up the stockings, they will be hand delivered to as many children as possible.

During the past seven years, with the help of the SPC community of students, faculty and staff, the library has been able to donate hundreds of stockings to children.

“We are eager to keep up the good reputation SPC has in the communities we serve as people who care,” said Pineda. “It’s all due to the generosity of our students, faculty and staff that it’s been possible for us to continue this long.  Sustaining the project through different challenges has kept things interesting, maybe even suspenseful at times, each year since we began.”

Board of Regents discuss local partnership in November meeting

An independent audit of the school, some student affairs updates, and a holiday partnership with the city of Levelland were some of the topics discussed during the November meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

First on the agenda was a report that was released regarding an independent financial audit of SPC.

Among some of the notable items were a few reported losses in key areas, including $3.2 million in lost property tax revenue, and the biggest operating revenue decrease was found in state grants and contracts.

Non-operating revenues were found to be down $3.8 million, largely due to the fact that most of the previous year’s funding in that area came from a grant that was not received for the current year. There is an expected increase of $212 million in the tax base for 2018, according to the report.

The full audit report is available for review by request.

For an update on the current state of student life and activites, Dr. Stan Demeritt, vice president of student affairs at SPC, was happy to report that “student life has been rocking and rolling.”

“You can quote that,” Dr. Demeritt added.

In the local community, a partnership was announced with the City of Levelland and Main Street to put on the city’s annual Festival of Lights holiday parade.

“We’ll start the lighting here,” said Dr. Demeritt. “There will be refreshments here, and then the […] lighted parade will start on this campus.”

In past, the college has had its own event, but this joint effort is a move toward further involvement in the community’s celebration.

“We’re trying to do a collaborative effort instead of having two opposing events going on at the same time,” added Dr. Demeritt. “Let’s work together as a community.”

The parade will begin at SPC, and continue down College Avenue, before turning left to the square in downtown Levelland.

Dr. Demeritt also announced the return of the tradition of the Sixth Man at SPC basketball games. The pep team has learned some of the cheers from the SPC cheerleaders, and students are reportedly enjoying the sense of enthusiasm and fun that comes along with their presence at the games.

“We now have about 30 students that have said they want to participate as a Sixth Man,” Dr. Demeritt said. “And if you’ve been to a basketball game this past week, you’ll notice that the excitement is really picked up on the students’ side.”

This month’s meeting concluded with an executive session that was not open to the press, the topic of discussion for which was reportedly property. According to SPC President Dr. Robin Satterwhite, there were to be no action items on the table during the closed session.

This type of closed meeting is provided for in Govt. Code 551.072, which states: “A governmental body may conduct a closed meeting to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person.”

Representative O’Rourke visits Lubbock on Senate campaign trail

El Paso native Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is travelling the state of Texas to make history by running for a senate seat as Democrat to replace Ted Cruz.

A United States Representative for the 16th Congressional District of Texas, O’Rourke made a stop in Lubbock at the Mae Simmons Community Center on Nov. 16, the same day he was serving as representative in Washington, D.C, to listen to constituents and answer questions.

A large part of O’Rourke’s campaign involves knocking on the doors of constituents to better understand the perspectives of voters in order to perform legislative duties that would benefit the needs of society.

As part of his Town Hall appearance, O’Rourke allowed for citizens to ask questions in the style of a forum after providing an update on his work in Washington.

“I want to listen to you,” O’Rourke addressed the audience. “I want to serve you and I want to represent you. How can I do that if I hadn’t had a chance to listen to you, and listen to what’s on your mind?”

IMG_0869O’Rourke says that his campaign has had a very successful run, despite it being founded on grassroots participation. According to Stewart Williams, the Lubbock County chair of the Democratic Party, O’Rourke’s campaign has been funded without the help of Political Action Committees, corporations or any other special interest groups.

“It’s just people,” O’Rourke said. “It’s just human beings that are driving this campaign. It is the concerns of the people of Texas that I am going to fight for when I’m in the Senate.”

O’Rourke says that when he first ran for Congress in 2012, he ran a very similar campaign founded on grassroots participation.

“I knocked on the doors of everyone I sought to represent,” he recalled. “What I learned that surprised me, to my shame, was that veterans in El Paso were having a hard time getting into the VA [Veteran Administration Center].”

O’Rourke recalls knocking on the door of a veteran and pitching his campaign. After asking what concerned the man, O’Rourke says he found out that the veteran was trying to schedule an appointment with a mental help specialist through the VA. The veteran found that the VA was completely booked and he would not be able to get an appointment for a year.

“I later learned that out of 141 mental health care clinics in the VA across the country, El Paso was ranked 141,” O’Rourke said. “Dead last. Those that serve this country and put their lives on the line come back to El Paso with post traumatic stress disorder or military sexual trauma or any other signature condition of service and combat.”

According to O’Rourke, it is estimated that, on average, 20 veterans will commit suicide as a result of not finding the proper care in time for a worsening mental disorder.

After being sworn into office to represent District 16, O’Rourke made the VA in El Paso his number one priority.

“The wait time has gone from being the worst in the country to being right at the national average,” O’Rourke said. “Our goal is to be the best in the nation. We focused on the number of  mental health care providers in the VA. We started with 68 full time in January of 2013. Just last month, we had 113. We’re opening up more appointment slots, and seeing more veterans.”

The changes O’Rourke has been a part of in the House of Representatives have inspired him to combat issues that veterans face in the Senate.

The issue that O’Rourke discovered while working on the Veteran Affairs Committee and plans to change involves the other than honorable discharge of service members. Those who have been other than honorably discharged, according to O’Rourke, are precluded by law from accessing a VA. This is part of the punishment of not having an honorable discharge.

“Part of their punishment is that they can’t get into a VA,” O’Rourke said. “Despite tens of thousands of them suffereing from PTSD and other signature conditions of service. Amidst the suicide crisis that veterans face today, they are taking their own lives at twice the rate of veterans who have an honorable discharge. This is something we clearly need to prioritize.”

According to O’Rourke, writing a bill as a Democrat in a Republican majority “is like a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it.”

After partnering with Republican Congressman Mike Coffman, the two presented ideas to each other about how they would deal with the issue facing other than honorably discharged veterans.

After forming a consensus on the bill, it was presented to the Veteran Affairs Committee. Because the process of passing a bill is tedious, many drafts die at any point in the process. A week before Veterans Day, the bill made it to the floor, where it passed with a unanimous vote, to O’Rourke’s surprise.

“It’s such an honor to be a part of Congress when it actually works,” He said. “Republicans care as much for our Vets as much as Democrats do.”

IMG_0860One of the questions O’Rourke answered was in regards to higher education. The question was asked by the father of a graduate student who had concerns about a bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives.  According to O’Rourke, the bill has the ability to bankrupt every graduate student in the nation by taxing them with a liability.

“There are headlines that say, ‘Graduate students to pay tax increase to fund tax break for the super rich in the country.’” O’Rourke began to answer. “Fifty percent of the entire 1.5 trillion taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go to the top of the top.”

According to O’Rourke, under the bill, teachers would no longer be able to deduct taxes from the money that they spend on school supplies.

“That’s just being mean,” he added. “Every teacher I’ve met does this at their own expense – buying things for the classroom to ensure that those kids will become successful, while churches and megachurches don’t pay any taxes.”

Another key issue O’Rourke is “fired up for” is the push for a wall that would span the border between the United States and Mexico. According to O’Rourke, the wall would cost approximately $25 billion to build.

“Twenty-Five billion,” O’Rourke said. “To cut off our relationship with Mexico, despite the one million jobs that are connected to the 32 million lawful crossings that take place between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The very lifeblood of this hemisphere’s binational community. The essence of what makes Texas strong and successful.”

On Aug. 8, 2015, O’Rourke, along with more than 900 other runners, took part in a 10k marathon from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez to symbolize unity between the United States and Mexico.

“The border has never been more secure and safe,” O’Rourke told the Plainsman Press in an interview. “[Trump’s proposed border wall] makes no sense whatsoever. Part of the reason we did that run is because facts alone don’t get it done. You have to persuade people with emotional arguments to help them see things in a different way.”

Helping students big reward for new Director of Health and Wellness

Story by: TINA GONZALEZ

Christopher Straface is looking forward to a change in his new role of Director of Health and Wellness.

Straface has been a counselor for six years. Graduating from Lubbock Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in counseling from Wayland Baptist University, he has a lot of experience in both fields.

“I just want to be a help and feel like it was time for a little bit of a change,” says Straface. “But I am still in my field of work doing what I usually do.”

Straface started out in ministry, but life had other plans for him. After talking to others about how helping others was important to him, he began to look at counseling.

Chris Straface“It just kind of unfolded,” Straface reflected. “I really didn’t even plan it.”

As a teenager, Straface went through hard times that also guided him into the world of counseling. His background has helped him help others.

“Once I looked back and thought about what helped me get through those times,” Straface recalls, “and it was other people that helped.”

Straface’s experience at SPC has been nothing less than great, he explains. At SPC, they really care about the students, he says.

“I enjoy working here with good people,” said Straface, who says he is passionate about helping students at SPC.

“My focus gets to be helping students daily with daily life issues that would keep them from being successful and achieving their life goals,” adds Straface.

There is a lot of support coming from Straface’s fellow coworkers to help him learn more about the Health and Wellness Office. Rebecca Sturgeon, an intern, and Linda Young, with Disability Services, have helped Straface with the transition.

  Both agreed that Straface has great experience in the counseling area and administration.

Straface says that he has many plans for the Health and Wellness Office and for students at SPC to ensure that SPC is following the laws that govern providing health services and disability services. He wants to make sure that policy lines up with those laws to make sure SPC is doing the right thing for students.

Straface has two main roles as director of Health and Wellness. One is managing the counseling services and the health services. Another role he has deals with sexual assault prevention and services for students with disabilities. He explains that the sexual assault prevention and disability services is where his main focus is.

“Specifically, we feel that the population of students really struggle coming through college,” said Straface. “We are trying to see what else we can offer and what else can be done to help students with disabilities be more successful.”

Straface explained that he takes his job and responsibilities seriously.

“They have unique needs,” said Straface, “and so we are trying to make sure that we are offering things to help them be more successful coming in and leaving college.”

For sexual assault prevention, Straface is pushing for more awareness on campus if something like that occurs and what to do. About a year ago, the Counseling Office started an intervention program to help those who need the steps to take if one was to witness sexual misconduct and to also help faculty and staff identify when a student has been through depression or sexual misconduct.

English professor adores learning from diverse students

Margaret “Buffy” Rattan is best described as a fun and dedicated parent, wife, and professor.

An instructor in English at South Plains College, Rattan was born in California, but has spent most of her life in Texas.

“I’m the only one in my family that wasn’t born in Texas,” she said. “I was pretty little when we moved back to Texas, because my dad had left college to join the Air Force.”

When Rattan moved back to Texas with her family, they lived in Canyon while her father finished his degree at West Texas A&M. But that isn’t where she grew up, or where she attended school.

“I grew up in Plainview – big city,” she said jokingly. “I started school in Plainview, and lived there through high school. Then, I came here, [SPC], and lived in Levelland to go to school.”

At SPC, Rattan does teach English, but it wasn’t until she attended college that she really got into literature.

“When I very first started here, I was going into nursing,” said Rattan. “I took anatomy and physiology, all of that kind of stuff, which I enjoyed, but then I took psychology with Dr. Skinner, who is still here. I took English classes here that I adored, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. Anatomy and physiology, I mean that’s great and all, but it’s the psychology and English, that’s what I really like.’”teach feach

Rattan didn’t graduate from SPC, but she did transfer to a university.

“I got all my basics here, then transferred to [Texas] Tech,” she said. “When I transferred, I did a major in psychology and a minor in English. My original plan was to either get a PhD in psychology or a PhD in English. But I had kids at that point, and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t have time to go to grad school.’ So, when my kids were really little, I taught preschool part-time, and I didn’t go to full-time high school teaching until they were older.”

When Rattan’s kids got a bit older, she got a job teaching English at Frenship High School.

“[I] taught at Frenship for six years,” said Rattan. “All of my kids graduated from Frenship, so we have been a part of that district for a long time.”

With all of her kids having graduated from Frenship and her no longer teaching there, Rattan says it was strange for all of them to not be going to Frenship.

“I got my master’s [degree] while I was teaching at the high school,” said Rattan. “Then I taught dual credit with South Plains, and through Angelo State, then came here, and it’s been great.”

Outside of either teaching or attending school, Rattan says she likes to bake breads and knit. But more than anything, she likes to spend time with her family.

“We like to do outdoorsy kind of stuff,” said Rattan. “We go to Palo Duro and go hiking and stuff like that as often as we can.”

Reading has also always been a big thing in Rattan’s family.

“My husband was a Spanish major, English minor, so our house has a lot of books,” said Rattan. “We read to them [her kids] from the time they were tiny babies, to way past the time that they could read on their own. Even when they were in middle school, I’d get them all on the couch and tell them ‘Let’s read a story!’ They can rattle off poems, they can say the jaberwakee poem from “Alice in Wonderland, so I was a bit of a nerdy mom.”

Her husband is in social work. Whether it be in the military, a science related major, or going into teaching, all her children are successful in what they do.

“[My] oldest one is a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps, and he is stationed at Camp Pendleton,” said Rattan.

Rattan would often visit her son when he was stationed in Colorado, and she also visited him when he was stationed in Japan.

But her oldest son isn’t the only one who has been in the military or helped her see the world.

“The second son, he spent four years in the Marine Corps, then got his under grad at [Texas] Tech in three years,” said Rattan. “He had an interview at Yale, and I went with him. Oh my gosh, it’s gorgeous. I went to some English and film lectures on the Yale campus that were open to the public.”

Rattan’s third son has also studied the sciences, but still has a little more studying to do.

“The third son has a bachelor of science in chemistry,” said Rattan. “But, he has decided to go to PA school, and there are some biology and psychology classes that he doesn’t have, that PA school requires. So, he’s going to be here next semester, getting those prerecs. So, I’m excited because we can have lunch together.”

Rattan also has two daughters currently attending Texas Tech.

“My older daughter is a junior at Tech, and she’s majoring in biochemistry, and she plans to go to medical school as well,” said Rattan. “She’s in the Women’s Leadership Institute at Tech.”

Rattan’s other daughter has decided to kind of follow in the footsteps of her mother.

“The youngest is a sophomore at Tech and she’s going to be a middle school English teacher,” said Rattan. “She is also doing some undergraduate research with little kids.”

For Rattan, there isn’t much outside of her family and literature that she enjoys doing, which is why she loves teaching.

“That all kind of wraps up together to me, and that’s part of why I love what I do,” said Rattan. “I feel like it all just fits in with who I am as a person. Because I genuinely love teaching, I love students, I love reading, I love learning new things. I learn as much from my students as they do from me. Every time they have a different perspective, they’ve been through different things. And that’s one thing that I really love about here, is that I have students of all ages, and I think that’s so cool. They have different things that they can bring to the classroom, so I really love that.”

Student elected delegate for state physical therapy association

Shelby Jan Nail plans to use her role as a delegate for the Texas Student Physical Therapy Association to promote physical therapy and help benefit future students studying the profession.

tspta girlThe South Plains College student from Zephyr, Texas, has studied at Texas Tech before coming to the Levelland campus to study physical therapy. Nail attended the TPTA annual conference at Corpus Christi on Oct. 26 – Oct. 29.

Student members of the Texas Student Physical Therapy Association elected Nail as a delegate for the program she will represent and make decisions for physical therapy students across the Texas.

The TSPTA was created for physical therapists to advance in improving the movement of health and wellness in Texas. The program has the goals to empower society by recognizing physical therapists as experts in movement and wellness, to empower the association by becoming relevant and dynamic by engaging in membership and meaningful communication, and empowering the physical therapy profession by attaining patient access for equitable payment for physical therapy services, according to the TSPTA website.

As a physical therapy associate (PTA) delegate, Nail sits on the TSPTA executive board with other physical therapy students from across Texas. As a delegate for this program, Nail will have duties to uphold for PTA students across the state by attending the House meeting and becoming involved with the association.

“This position requires my attendance at the House of Delegates meeting in New Orleans next year, said Nail. “I represent PTA students across the state of Texas.”2013_TSPTA_LogoMaster

During her time in New Orleans, she will have to meet with the House for three successive days to make decisions on issues that have far reaching implications for the association and for physical therapy professions. These meetings are executed through parliamentary procedure and address bylaws, the needs of physical therapy publicly along with the members, and reach the goals that the association wishes to meet.

Nail will be able to voice her opinion and work with the TSPTA to improve the profession for other physical therapists and patients with her delegacy. This program allows members to make decisions and amend laws dealing with the physical therapy profession and physical therapy patients. It also is important in making physical therapy relevant and how important it is for recovery.

Nail has plans to learn, advocate, and promote for the physical therapy profession. “I’m excited about the opportunity to learn,” said Nail. “This position is perfect

for advocacy, which is an important value, upheld by the PT profession.”

Nail plans to use her position to make plans that will benefit future physical therapy students and patients.

“PT is vital to patient rehabilitation, but severely underutilized,” Nail explained, “It is my responsibility, not only in this position but as a professional, to promote PT and what is best for future students to best benefit their patients.”

Nail says she hopes to use her position as a delegate to make physical therapy a better experience for people who plan to pursue this profession and for the patients.

Alum finds balance between her passions of fire fighting, photography

[Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing project in conjunction with the South Plains College Alumni Association. The project highlights former SPC students and their achievements.]

Not only does Sussan Bell follow her passion, but she also gives back to the community while doing it.

Bell owns her own photography studio, Fire Angel Photography, while also serving as the first lady firefighter for the Levelland Fire Department.

“Photography has always been one of my passions,” Bell says. “I’m an artist by trait, to be honest with you. I’ve always been able to draw and paint. When I was 3, I could draw a horse that looked like a horse, so it just evolved from there.”

Bell attended the International School of Fine Arts in 1980 earned a master’s degree in fine arts.

“I never did get a teaching certificate with that, and I wasn’t about to go back to school,” Bell recalls. “So I was always teaching art and doing substitute teaching in schools, thinking maybe I could just substitute teach in art, which I did for several years. Then when my grandkids were born, I picked up a camera. That was 16 years ago.”

Bell decided to continue her passion for photography by taking photography classes at South Plains College in 2007.

“I attended SPC 10 years ago,” Bell said. “I took all the photography classes I could, with Paul Davidson and Wes Underwood. I did not get a degree (from SPC). I just took all the classes I could to start this business.”

But it’s not just photography for Bell. She uses paintings that she’s painted herself for photo manipulations of her photos.

“Everything I use is basically stuff I’ve painted and then photographed, and then used them in the manipulations,” Bell explains. “It’s a lot of work, but it is so worth it, though. The outcome, the pieces are just absolutely amazing.”

Bell says she doesn’t just take average photos for her clients. Each of them get her best she can give.

“I always give my clients a surprise,” Bell explains. “I don’t ever just take the pictures and go, ‘here you go.’ That’s not the way I work. I always make them the best, like they were my best clients. Because that’s how you keep your clients, and you always have returning clients.”

Bell uses her studio to give back to the community as well.

“I provide a service of taking photos that parents can afford,” said Bell. “My clientele are the people that don’t normally get to go have photos taken, or have their kids’ photos taken, because they can’t afford it. And that’s what I like about it, and plus I can give back to the community that way.”unnamed

She provides services for the Main Street program in Levelland, as well as photos for the Fire Department.

She also gives back to community with the work she does for the Fire Department. Bell has been on the department for 20 years. She comes from a long line of fire fighters.

“My great grandfather was just a basic volunteer firefighter in Oklahoma,” Bell says. “My grandfather was a firefighter in the Merchant Marines, then my dad is a volunteer over in two departments in Oklahoma. And then my brother was a fire chief over in Oklahoma through his county. So I became a firefighter because I married a firefighter.”

Bell’s husband, Bobby Bell, had been on the Levelland Fire Department for 40 years, before retiring four years ago. His family started the Levelland Fire Department in 1927.

“I enjoy it because it’s a passion,” Bell adds. “It’s helping people. I became an EMT through the college (SPC). It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.”

fire-department-logoBell manages both her photography studio and fire fighting full time. She carries a pager on her at all times and goes to a fire when ever she is paged.

“I never go when I have a client,” Bell explains. “But as soon as I get through with them, I go down to the station. I’m up in the middle of the night fighting fires, and we’re out doing everything possible. That’s was I do. I thrive on the adrenaline of the Fire Department and EMS. I thrive on the photography.”

Bell hopes to be able to do both photography and fire fighting as long as possible.

“I plan on doing this as long as I possibly can because it is a fire, it’s a passion in me,” Bell says. “This (photography) will be until the day I die, because I love it. I mean, I’m constantly creating different things and making my own.”

Engineering student wants to take career interstellar

If one’s future is written in the stars, there is at least one South Plains College student with an eye turned toward the things to come.

Ethan Villa, a sophomore engineering major from Lubbock, keeps himself busy with a healthy portion of schoolwork, socializing with friends, and generally trying to make sense of the reason things are the way they are.

Villa has an underlying love for reason, whether it be understanding something motorized, such as the inner workings of machinery, or the big philosophical questions facing humanity as a whole. He is currently considering pursuing mechanical engineering as a career, but he’s not saying no to anything else that comes his way.

“I wanted to join the military as well,” Villa said. “Because my dad was a Marine. He was Special Forces. And it was probably something I was looking forward to doing too. I’m kind of debating where to go. And the musician route as well, but I think that’s more of a hobby, and just playing around really.”

He has a background in martial arts as well, having trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for more than six years.

“I haven’t trained for three years, but I want to get back into that. But it’s kind of costly.”

There’s nothing he would completely rule out, however.

“I think the most important thing is just—who cares what you do?” Villa said. “If you love doing it, just do it.”

As his primary drive for performing well in life, Villa says it’s something internal that’s so ingrained in him that it’s just second nature.

“College is just a lot of responsibility,” he explained. “It’s either you do it, or you don’t. You get a good grade, or you’re going to fail. A lot of the math classes are like that. If you don’t study, you’re going to fail.”

Villa’s future plans include transferring to Texas Tech University, where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Something Villa doesn’t believe in is the distraction of endlessly posting updates to social media.

“If you want to know, you can ask and I’ll tell you about it,” said Villa, “but I’m not going to post about it. I’m kind of old school. A lot of my family call me an old man, because I guess I just don’t follow those trends any. I use my phone to text and stuff, but not really too much.”

IMG_0926Villa has a great admiration for the Math and Engineering Department at SPC. He said he really feels connected to it. He once competed in the Robotics program, building and battling robots against other students in his classes, and he says it was one of the most fun experiences of his time on campus.

“They’re just really helpful,” Villa said. “I understand what they’re saying. If you have any questions, they’ll help you answer them. There’s a lot of tutoring. I mean, there’s just a lot of friendly people over there. If you have a question in one of your classes, they will all help each other.”

If money was no object, Villa has a pretty clear idea of what he would put his efforts into, for both himself and the people of the future.

“Honestly? I would like to work on interstellar travel,” Villa said. “I don’t focus on money. Money is nothing to me. Because the richest people have all the money in the world, but in the end, they’re always sad. Whatever I pass on, I want to see that they’re still working on it. I guess something that I can do that people keep on doing. It would be neat to go to different planets, to see what’s out there, instead of being trapped here where we are.”

Villa’s advice for future generations can be summed up in a single idea.

“Be a free thinker,” Villa said. “Free thinking and having creativity really helps the world prosper.”

“And just help each other out,” Villa added. “If you have a group of people that are going the same way, you’re not going to achieve it by yourself. You’re going to have to achieve it with some help. And that’s what I’ve learned in this program. If you try to do it all yourself, you can only go so far.”

‘Battlefront II’ excites fans with new gameplay, intersting features

In a galaxy far, far away the fate of the universe is determined by the battle of the dark side and the rebellion. Only one can win.

“Star Wars Battlefront II” has finally hit the shelves after the long wait and requests for the game. “Star Wars” fans were thrilled when EA finally announced that there would be a “Battlefront II” due to the high demand of the game.

I was very excited about the game, because being a big “Star Wars” fan, it warmed my heart to see that this day has finally come. The original “Battlefront” was great. It had some hits and misses that “Battlefront II” has successfully made up for.1d5e0aeb-f7fb-4822-966c-70cb36a1ac15

I’ve been playing this game for a few weeks, and I can confidently say that it is worth buying. I do have some problems with the game, but those problems are minor compared to all the additions “Battlefront II” has to offer.

The original “Battlefront” lacked a campaign, which made many fans upset and in disbelief since most of the “Star Wars” games have a campaign. However, “Battlefront II” has included a campaign in which the player goes on a journey through the eyes of Iden Versio, an imperial leader of a special force group called the “Inferno Squad.” This campaign is a great addition to the game, and it also explains what happened to the rebellion and the empire between the end of “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.”

Versio is an interesting character, because usually in the “Star Wars” universe there’s a good and bad side of people. There isn’t an in between. Versio, however, shows, that not everyone who is part of the Empire has an evil heart. Her dedication for the Empire has left me astonished, because she goes to great lengths to get what she wants and she is proud to be part of the Empire. However, there is a problem that comes up during the campaign. I will say, without spoiling the campaign for anyone who wishes to try it out, that Versio’s intentions change during the campaign, which is quite disappointing. But, it’s not all bad.

star-wars-battlefront-ii-iden-emotionalThe cut-scenes are great to watch. Cut-scenes during campaigns are usually boring, and players can’t wait for them to be over. “Battlefront II” will change all of that. To me, it feels like I’m watching a mini “Star Wars” movie because the graphics are very detailed and the effects are beyond phenomenal. The storyline is interesting, and players have a chance to play as familiar heroes during the campaign. I’m still a little disappointed in Versio’s character during the campaign, but not enough where I don’t want to stop playing.

The multiplayer mode was something I was excited for, and, for the most part, it didn’t let me down. It is frustrating and confusing at times, but being a big “Star Wars” fan, I still find a new hope for multiplayer.

There are five modes in multiplayer. There is a 20 vs 20 in Galactic Assault, ranging from zone control to bomb planting to a mode that is identical to Walker Assault, but doesn’t really have the structure from the original “Battlefront.” The game modes are fun, but what I found annoying is you can’t pick which game mode you want to play. Whenever you join in Galactic Assault, it cycles you through all three modes, so it’s confusing at times because you don’t know which one you’re going to play.

Picking which trooper you want to play is interesting. There are four, which are Assault, Heavy, Specialist and Officer. Each trooper offers something different. It’s confusing, because you are only as good as your “Star Cards.” “Star Cards” are actually really confusing, which I will explain more about later. The game also spawns you in a group of five and tells players to stick together to earn more Battle Points, but nobody ever really does. I can understand the concept that EA was trying to do, but it just doesn’t work.

Many critics have said that Battle Points are a big issue, because those points determine if you can be a hero or a villain during the gameplay. That means if you’re better at the game, the better chance you will earn those points and become a hero or villain. Usually the better players become the hero or villain, which makes many upset because they argue it’s not fair to an inexperienced player. I honestly don’t see a problem with it. If anything, it should make a player determined to get better so one can earn those points to be a hero or villain.

There is also 12 vs 12 in Strike, a death match-style mode called Blast, a Heroes vs. Villains, and Starfighter Assault. I’ve only played Strike, Blast, and Starfighter Assault a few times, and I wasn’t really interested in those game modes because it wasn’t something I was drawn to. I was mainly interested in Heroes vs. Villains, and I love this mode.

star-wars-battlefrontI loved the mode in the original “Battlefront,” but I think the sequel made the mode so much better. You have to unlock some characters with the credits you earn during gameplay, but it was so worth it for me when I was able to unlock Darth Vader and use his force choke on another hero. That’s another thing. It’s a 4 vs. 4 showdown between heroes and villains. There are no rebellion soldiers or storm troopers. I live for this game mode. I play this mode mostly all the time because it’s so enjoyable. I thought the original mode was great, but I honestly think this one is better. Also, there are new heroes and villains that they didn’t include in “Battlefront.” They added Yoda and Darth Maul, which is a great asset when playing Heroes vs. Villains.

“Star Cards” can be confusing, so let me break it down for you. The “Star Cards” are already preset to a certain character or vehicle. You just have to craft them using crafting parts, which you can earn from loot boxes or achievements. So, long story short, it doesn’t matter how long you play as a certain character to make their class stronger, it’s all about getting the crafting parts. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, because if I want to upgrade my “Star Cards” on a character that I’m trying to make better, I want to play as my strongest character to earn credits so I can earn crafting parts for my weak characters. It’s not a bad concept. It’s just a little confusing.

“Battlefront II” is still being criticized for its loot box system, because many people believe you have to pay to win. It has been criticized so much that EA has taken away the option to use money in the game. Fans are being ridiculous. It’s not paying to win if what you earn in the loot boxes aren’t really good compared to your in-game achievements! I will argue about this with anyone who is against the loot box system. If someone wants to use their money to buy loot boxes, let them. It’s not hurting anyone. If someone uses money to buy loot boxes, it doesn’t mean that person is going to be better than you in the game. If they have better equipment, it doesn’t automatically make them better. You make yourself better by playing the game and practicing. Using money or not, you will both earn the same equipment.

e3-2017-star-wars-battlefront-2s-multiplayer-class-system-is_vpbv“Battlefront II” has a few problems, and it is a little disappointing in some areas. But I don’t regret buying the game. I think, for what it’s worth, it has great potential and it satisfies me. The graphics are the best gaming graphics I have seen in a video game. The hero or villain characters are fun to play, and if you get past the problems in the campaign and galactic assault mode, it’s not a terrible game. As you play on, remember, “May the force be with you.”

I give “Star Wars Battlefront II” 7/10

‘A Bad Mom’s Christmas’ puts funny twist on traditional holiday movie

Get the gift of laughter with the new movie, “A Bad Moms Christmas.”

Even the best mom has a bad side to her. But naughty moms can enjoy Christmas, just as much as the nice ones.

With the holiday season in session, three over-burdened and under-appreciated moms, Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn), put a twist on the typical Christmas expectations.

The mothers are trying their very best to make their families happy and proud, but quickly become fed up with the strenuous work it takes to live up to good mom status around Christmas time.

Just as much as these ladies are moms, they are strong and independent women who work for what they want. So they decide to forget about being perfect. They all come to the decision to rebel against the not-so-fun parts of the holiday season.

With Christmas approaching, their own mothers decide to take charge of everything. But each of the ‘bad’ moms are not OK with this. So they decide to take charge.

It is empowering to see the real-world aspect in a Hollywood film, and what was even better was that they made the characters laugh at the issues in their dysfunctional lives.

Amy had just recently gone through a divorce, but found new love with Jesse (Jay Hernandez), who has a young daughter. She also has (older) children. While trying to perfect her blended family, get everyone gifts, and have an enjoyable Christmas, she also is standing off with her not-so-standoffish mother, Ruth (Christine Baranski).

Kiki is dealing with her first fatherless Christmas, children, and more. She gets overwhelmed by her insane mother, who gives her no breathing room. Her mother, Sandy (Cheryl Hines), even goes as far as moving in next door and wearing Kiki’s face on her pajamas.

Isis (Susan Sarandon) is an obnoxious, rocker-mom who works at a spa that offers the service of waxing personal areas on men and women. That is where she meets her new lover, Ty Swindel (Justin Hartley). But to make her home life even more interesting, her greedy and absent mother surprises her for “Easter” (so she thought), just before Christmas to ask for a $15,000 loan.

The three ‘bad moms’ say to heck with it when all are surprised by their mothers. They end up getting drunk in the food court of the mall during the week before Christmas.

This is where things take a turn for the better, as the moms start putting up with less so they can enjoy their holiday.

I got just what I was looking for out of this movie, as the rebellious adults incorporate fun back into Christmas.

Although the movie made you feel the traditional Christmas movie feelings, such as joy, tears of love, and heart warmth, it also takes you on a vacation from the perfectionist-style holiday expected from modern moms. There is exotic male Santa Claus dancers, curse words, and obnoxious, but realistic, experiences that put a funny and relatable twist on their holiday events.

A-Bad-Moms-ChristmasAmy, Kiki, and Carla thought they were doing everything the right way. But those viewing the movie, including myself, knew it was all downhill when the moms started going too far.

I loved the traditional path the movie took with the families apologizing and forgiving one another, but the writer did not stop the humor aspect. That gave it a really nice, mood-boosting feel to it. My favorite part about the movie was how unique and appealing it was to the audience.

I would definitely go see it again, and recommend it to others looking to laugh about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making every Christmas the best Christmas.

I give it a well-deserved 8 out of 10.

Dark side of social media highlighted by ‘Tragedy Girls’

“Tragedy Girls” is a horror / comedy movie starring two teenage girls, McKayla Hooper (played by Alexandria Shipp) and Sadie Cunningham (played by Brianna Hildebrand).

These two girls have a social media page called “Tragedy Girls” with a fan base based on a death-obsessed audience and gore. They use real-life tragedies to send their small western town their legacy and talent as modern horror legends. These two girls kill anybody that may be an obstacle in their way for fame.

The movie starts with Sadie making out with her boyfriend inside of his car. As the two are making out, Sadie starts hearing weird noises outside, since they were both parked at night at a creepy place. The boyfriend gets out of the car and gets killed by the most wanted serial killer from their hometown. This was all a plan from these two girls.

They finally get to kidnap the serial killer. Their hope was for him to teach them his methods so they can blame a rash of murders they’re planning on him if it ever comes down to it. They left the serial killer tied up with ropes at a warehouse outside the town, telling him, “We’re your biggest fans, dude!” as they leave to go have dinner with their families.

The movie works best when Kayla and Sadie mess up (which, it was all the time). They don’t really know what they’re doing, and their ignorance in the ways of savage but stealthy murdering leads to botched kills. One girl somehow ends up upside down, suspended by her ankle from a chain that swings her face-first into a live table saw.

tragedygirlsnewstillsfbThese two girls would kill anybody who would get in their way for “news” and fame on Instagram. They will kill their friends, students at the school they attended, just random people from their neighborhood for “likes” on Instagram, Twitter and on their Facebook fan page. They make people they have killed look like a runaway, or make it look like they committed suicide or just had accidents (where those occasions made them get mad). These two girls were “heroes” in their hometown for being able to work with authorities to “catch” the serial killer that they already had kidnapped, even though all the crimes were caused because of these two girls.

McKayla starts having her doubts once Sadie encourages her to kill the ex-boyfriend she still swoons over. Sadie does this for the need of stealing his Twitter followers. With the help of the sheriff’s son, who is crushing big time on Sadie, Tragedy Girls’ Twitter starts to soar, and so does the body count.

Later, it seems as Sadie has betrayed McKayla after Sadie gets all the praise after protecting the sheriff’s son after the serial killer went inside their house to kill them all. The two girls stop being friends. Prom comes, and they both go their own way. Sadie goes to the prom with the sheriff’s son, while McKayla plans with the serial killer to kill Sadie.

McKayla leads her to the attic at the school, and all four come along. The movie ends with the two girls killing the sheriff’s son and the serial killer. They both get on good terms and plan to kill the rest of the people at the prom.

This movie was good. I didn’t expect most of the things that happened, so that made it even better. This movie made me have the chills plenty of times, and I almost cried.

Movies like this one  make you realize how social media is such a big thing for people. Social media, and being liked on it, is all they can think about. It’s awful how society can be.

This movie demonstrates that and more. These 17-year-old girls kill innocent people for likes on Instagram. This movie is a must-see. I rate this movie 9/10.

‘Justice League’ unites fun, classic story

The Earth is on the brink of destruction, and it’s up to the heroes of tomorrow to unite and protect Earth.

On Nov. 17, Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg united to bring the “Justice League” to the big screen for the first time ever.

The film begins with a childs’s cellphone footage of Superman (Henry Cavill) before he died, then goes into the title screen and what seems like the actual start of the movie. I thought it was weird to start the film with found-footage that seems like it was meant to remind the audience that Superman died in “Batman v. Superman.” It’s talked about so organically so many more times in the film that audiences should have just been left to pick up on it.

After the title screen, no time is wasted on the unnecessary dialogue that plagued “BvS.” Batman (Ben Affleck) seems to be on patrol, but he is actually using the fear of a thief to draw out, wait for it, a PARADEMON!

In the comics and in the movie, Parademons are the soldiers of Apokolips, the apocalyptic world of the New Gods. They are humanoid in appearance, with black skin, bright yellow eyes, and wings. They’re not pretty to look at, and they’re portrayed quite perfectly. Seeing Batman fight a Parademon on the big screen is not only extremely satisfying for comic book readers, but the fact that it happens so early in the movie all but guarantees that the movie is going to be full of action.

After Batman wrestles with the Parademon for a minute or so, he captures it in a bat-net on a wall. It explodes, leaving a pattern on the wall. Batman, A.K.A. Bruce Wayne, radios Alfred (Jeremy Irons), and they discuss how this pattern of three boxes has been popping up in other places around the world.

Wonder Woman busts in on a bank robbery as the inciter of the robbery cocks his gun and prepares to kill all of the hostages. But Wonder Woman moves with super-speed to stop every bullet from hitting someone innocent. Then she waltzes off the scene in civilian clothes as Diana Prince, with the perpetrators tied up in in the Lasso of Truth, willingly telling an officer all about the heist.

Batman’s fight scene followed by another action-packed sequence with Wonder Woman whole heartedly pleased me because the pacing in “BvS” was slow and borderline boring.

Then, Batman begins trying to put this team together that he’s been talking about since the end of “BvS.”

JLA not cutoutBruce Wayne stops at a small boat town looking for Arthur Curry, A.K.A. Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Bruce finds him, and (apparently) Aquaman doesn’t really associate with Atlantis. So, he’s just a loner who helps this small fishing town? I don’t know if I buy this. I was taken aback when this was revealed, then I thought about it a little more. I decided that I’m open to this different, newer interpretation of Aquaman, because the rest of the role is done so well. Snyder and Momoa kind of brought this dude-bro essence to Aquaman, which was a fun and refreshing take on a character that could rip you apart with his bare hands or a wall of water. Momoa’s Aquaman is a great portrayal of the character, and I can’t wait to get more of him in the solo Aquaman film, as well as a fleshed-out backstory.

Aquaman initially turns down Batman, so his next stop is with the fastest man alive, The Flash, A.K.A. Barry Allen (Ezra Miller). When Barry shows up at his place and turns the power on, “Rick and Morty” comes on the TV and Bruce Wayne is sitting in a chair in Barry’s place.

Bruce makes advances at Barry about him being The Flash, and Barry smoothly shrugs them off. Bruce throws a batarang at Barry, and with Barry’s super speed, time seems to slow down as he dodges and grabs Batman’s batarangs. Filled with excitement after realizing Batman was standing right in front of him, he enthusiastically agreed to join Batman’s team.

While all of this was going on, Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), one of the New Gods of Apokolips, boom-tubed (teleported) his way into a vault in Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s homeland. In the vault is a Mother Box.

In the comics, a Mother Box is something that, typically, all the New Gods have. It’s essentially extremely advanced and powerful organic technology.

In the movie, the idea of a Mother Box is kind of condensed and molded to fit the narrative of the film. But seeing the Mother Boxes on the big screen in a live-action film is still really cool.

Apparently, Steppenwolf had been to Earth thousands of years ago, which is how the Mother Boxes got to Earth in the first place. The flashback that shows Steppenwolf coming to conquer Earth also pleased the comic community.

Basically, the three factions of the world, the Amazons, the Atlanteans, and man fought Steppenwolf back, with some help from a Green Lantern, separating the three Mother Boxes. Each group did what they could to safeguard the Mother Box in their possession. The one that man had is the one that scientists were researching and the one that turned Vic Stone into Cyborg.

Diana is in the Batcave researching Victor Stone, A.K.A. Cyborg (Ray Fisher), when he hacks into the computers and asks Diana why she’s looking for him. He agrees to meet her, even though he’s been dealing with processing all of the information he stores now. In the comics and the DC cinematic universe, Vic Stone is visiting his dad at S.T.A.R. Labs when an accident occurs, and Vic almost dies. His dad uses technology from a Mother Box to save his son’s life, turning him into Cyborg. At the beginning of the movie, Cyborg is in possession of the Mother Box that turned him into what he is now.

Aquaman didn’t join up until he failed to thwart Steppenwolf from taking the Mother Box in Atlantis. He realized that it’s his duty as heir to the Atlantean throne to stop Steppenwolf.

Superman is dead when the movie begins, and it’s a big part of what the heroes are dealing with while facing the world-ending threat that Steppenwolf presents.

The Mother Box in Cyborg’s possession gives Bruce the idea of using it to resurrect Superman. When they do, Superman wakes up angry and delusional, leaving the League to do damage control. While they’re trying to calm down Superman, Steppenwolf takes the Mother Box that they left behind.

Steppenwolf now has all three Mother Boxes and the movie is reaching its climax, while Superman flew away to gain control of himself with Lois Lane.

Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg are trying to take on Steppenwolf and stop the Mother Boxes from destroying Earth, to no avail, when Superman shows up and helps the heroes put the beat down on Steppenwolf.

He gets scared and a bunch of Parademons begin attacking him when he and the Parademons get boom-tubed to an undisclosed location, although he probably got pulled back to Apokolips.

The heroes then settle down a bit. Bruce helps Clark get his family’s house back, and they start discussing plans to turn the run-down Wayne Manor into a Justice League Watchtower of sorts, even though they don’t actually use that term in the movie. They don’t even call themselves or are they ever referred to as the Justice League in the movie.

There’s a mid-credits scene that depicts the classic scenario from the comics of Superman and Flash racing, which put a huge smile on my face, although I was smiling through most of the movie.

The post-credits scene, which I almost cheered about, shows Jesse Eisneburg’s Lex Luthor meeting with Joe Manganello’s Deathstroke. I did not expect a Deathstroke appearance in this movie, and the fact that he was there, and looked great, was a great teaser to get me excited to see what’s next in the DC cinematic universe.

After being disappointed with “Batman v. Superman,” and “Suicide Squad” being OK, it makes me quite happy to say that “Justice League” delivered a classic take on the superhero team.

There is great chemistry between the League, which I wasn’t really expecting. I felt that all the heroes were defined by the end of the film. Batman isn’t stiff like he has been portrayed in earlier films. Wonder Woman is still kicking butt. Cavil seems to have embraced more of who Superman is and what he stands for. Cyborg was portrayed well with the screen time he had, and Aquaman and Flash really shined in the film.

There are some imperfections in the movie, but it delivered an extremely classic story of the Justice League that seemed like it was right out of a Justice League graphic novel.

I give “Justice League” an 8 out of 10.

JLCOLLAGECollage

‘Master Race’ delivers classic Dark Knight tale

Bruce Wayne is old and battered. Superman has frozen himself in his Fortress of Solitude.

Having been beaten nearly to death, in “Batman: The Dark Knight – Master Race,” the third installment in the “Dark Knight” saga, Batman, AKA Bruce Wayne, is being taken care of by his latest Robin, Carrie Kelley.

In 1986, Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” gave comic readers their first glimpse at the alternate future of the Dark Knight Universe and introduced Carrie Kelley, a girl that became Robin after saving Batman’s life. In 2001, “The Dark Knight Strikes Again” took readers back to the Dark Knight Universe.

In 2017, 16 years later, Miller (writer) returned to the Dark Knight Universe to deliver the “Master Race,” a nine-issue alternate future miniseries that has recently been collected in graphic novel form.

Miller has said that the reason he waited so long to return to the Dark Knight Universe is because he needed new material, newer social issues to tackle, and the current climate of our nation, both literally and figuratively, gave him that material.Batman Comic con art.jpg

This is evident in the first panels of “The Master Race Book 1” when the notion of unnecessary police force and brutality is presented by a young man who was doing no wrong and started being harassed by the Gotham City Police Department.

Batman, actually revealed to be Carrie under the cowl, is taking on police brutality in the form of standing up to the GCPD, as well as being beaten senselessly by them. Literally, Batman is taking on the GCPD’s overuse of force. But, symbolically, Batman is taking on the whole notion of police brutality.

It is pleasing to see Miller take on such a hot-button issue, but what it kind of signifies is that Batman is right there with us. Batman has always been the underdog, but this goes to show that the rich don’t always lack compassion for the poor. In fact, it’s as if Batman symbolizes the group of rich people who are fighting Trump’s tax bill that would cut taxes for the rich. We’re all in this together, and Batman is an exceptional example of this.

Batman, or Carrie, gets beaten senseless by the cops and is taken into custody for questioning. She’s asked by Commissioner Yindel where Bruce Wayne is, and she answers with a story about how Batman was basically beaten to a pulp and never recovered.

The sequence of panels ends with Carrie telling Yindel that what she believes doesn’t matter. Although Batman is alive, most of what Carrie said is true.

At the same time, Diana, AKA Wonder Woman, is fighting a Minotaur with a baby boy wrapped in a knapsack strapped to her back. When she returns home, the Amazons that greet her ask if they can help with Jonathan. In the normal DC Comics universe, Jonathan is the name of Superman’s and Lois Lane’s child, so this immediately lets you know that Diana and Clark have at least one child together.

But, if that didn’t paint a picture, the next several panels will. Diana asks for Lara, and she’s told that her daughter is gone. To which Diana replies, “Again, Lara? Can’t you leave him be?”

Then you see a beautiful, snow-covered page with a teenage girl floating at the top of it. Lara, Wonder Woman’s daughter, has gone to the Fortress of Solitude to see her father, Superman, AKA Kal-El, AKA Clark Kent.

Lara, exploring the fortress, found a Kryptonian city that had been shrunk before Krypton, Superman’s home planet, was destroyed.

“Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom” delivers Miller’s interpretation of the Atom, and Lara shows up asking Atom to unshrink the Kryptonians.

In “The Master Race Book 2,” Carrie breaks out of police custody with the help of what I would call the Bat-tank, and The Atom uses his technology to grow the Kryptonians, only to discover that the only surviving Kryptonians are followers of a cult leader called Quar Father, who wants to be worshiped as Earth’s “New Gods.” I feel that this is a reference to the actual New Gods of the DC Universe. It doesn’t really mean much or signify much, but it’s cool.

Superman and Batman.jpgIn “Dark Knight Universe Presents: Wonder Woman,” Lara begrudgingly shows up to a training session with her mom, Diana. Lara believes that because of her Kryptonian heritage, she is indestructible. Lara tells her mother that she’s not like her. She’s not an Amazon, she’s Kryptonian. Then she darts off to join the cultish Kryptonians. I can really relate to this, because my little sister is still kind of going through this rebellious phase. Seeing Wonder Woman, Queen of the Amazons, deal with her daughter – who could potentially be a much larger threat than my little sister ever could – with so much composure and maturity really puts things in perspective for me.

In “The Master Race Book 3,” readers see Bruce and Carrie in the Batcave watch as Quar Father sends a Kryptonian follower down to Moscow with a pill that turns him into basically a nuclear bomb, and destroys it.

At this point, Batman decides it’s time to shatter Superman’s ice cocoon and put a plan into action to stop the Kryptonians.

“Dark Knight Universe Presents: Green Lantern” presents a very different and emerald take on Hal Jordan’s origin story. It has him encountering three female Kryptonians for what’s best described as a trippy encounter that traumatizes Hal and sends him on a journey of self-discovery.

In “The Master Race Book 4,” Lara beats Superman tirelessly. Carrie helps Bruce get into fighting shape, and Flash tries to join up, but his legs are brutally taken out by a Kryptonian.

“Dark Knight Universe Presents: Batgirl” has Batgirl, Carrie, on a mission at the Gotham docks, that really demonstrates her impressive and brutal fighting ability.

At the docks, Batgirl is met by Aquaman, who has a grand entrance, as usual. He takes Carrie back under the surface with him, and “The Master Race Book 5” picks up with Carrie and Aquaman locating Superman, who had been cast in black matter and frozen in the arctic by the cultist Kryptonians.

The Flash gets taken to the Batcave to run operations for everyone else, since his legs are out of commission. Batman wreaks havoc on the Kryptonians in his bat-tank to draw them all to a central location. With the help of Aquaman, they drop synthetic Kryptonite rain on the Kryptonians, draining them of their power.

Batman is in a metal suit, similar to the one that inspired his suit in the “Batman v. Superman” movie. Batman is brawling with a Kryptonian and starts taking a beating when Superman shows up in a metal suit similar to Batman’s that would allow him to resist the Kryptonite rain.

After a short intermission of “Dark Knight Universe Presents: Lara” – when one of the Kryptonian men makes advances at her – “The Master Race Book 6” picks back up with Batman, Superman, and Batgirl putting the beat-down on the Kryptonians. They’re running scared when Quar Father looks back at Batman and effectively kills him with a pinpoint heat vision beam.

Master Race coverIn “Dark Knight Universe Presents: World’s Finest,” Batgirl and Lara have a confrontation and Wonder Woman steps in to defuse the situation.

“The Master Race Book 7” picks up with Superman taking Batman to the Lazarus Pit – a well known source of longevity in the DC Universe that can potentially drive someone mad. Bruce comes out of the pit looking like he’s in his prime. He’s delusional at first, but Superman is able to calm him down. Lara tries to take her brother, Jonathan, at Quar Father’s request, and her and the Kryptonians are met with full resistance by Wonder Woman and the Amazons.

“Dark Knight Universe Presents: Strange Adventures” has Hawkman and Hawkgirl teaming up with Green Lantern.

“The Master Race Book 8” has Lara joining forces with her mother, Wonder Woman.

Batman and Batgirl devise a plan, and Superman flies to Amazonia to meet a Wonder Woman drenched in the blood of Kryptonians.

“Dark Knight Universe Presents: Detective Comics” centers around Commissioner Yindel. It’s a cool story with a really weird villain character in it. It doesn’t really add all that much to the whole “Master Race” arc other than a “this is what Commissioner Yindel is up to” kind of story. But the weirdness lends its hand nicely in the book.

In “The Master Race Book 9,” Batman, Superman, Atom, and Lara are the key figures in defeating the Kryptonians and restoring order to Earth.

This is followed up by “Dark Knight Presents: Action Comics,” which really nicely wraps up “The Master Race” for all of the heroes, and they all basically ride off into the sunset.

Everything about the book transcends time. The art is a mashup of modern digital comic art with traditional-style penciling, as well as popping colors that invoke a sense of new and older comics all at once. The story will always be used as a marker of the social and political make up of our country at this point in time.

Written by Miller and Brian Azzarello, drawn by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson, and colors by Brad Anderson and Alex Sinclair, “Batman: The Dark Knight – Master Race” delivers a truly classic tale of the Dark Knight and his super friends.

I give the graphic novel a 9 out of 10.

Comic Corner

DC Comics

action.jpgAction Comics #991

“The Oz Effect Part 5” brings a conclusion to the story arc, but creates more questions.

Jor-El, Superman’s father, has basically come back from the dead, with a piece of Kryptonite lodged in his head. Wielding a staff that relieved the pain of the Kryptonite, it was also driving him mad.

Kal-El, Superman, and Jor-El were finally starting to connect when Jor was pulled away by a portal, leaving Superman to find his father.

 

 

batmanBatman #35

In “The Rules of Engagement, Part 3” Selina Kyle, Catwoman, is fighting Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ras Al Ghul, who is the leader of the League of Assassins, for the right to marry Bruce Wayne, the World’s Greatest Detective.

Talia is the mother of Damian Wayne, the current Robin.

The sword fight between the two women is enjoyable, and the entire story arc has been extremely relateable. In all of its outrageous glory, the story is very grounded in a real-world situation that a large number of people have found themselves in, in some form or fashion: merging families.

This is defintely something I’ve been through, and seeing a character I cherish go through this is inspiring.

lostBatman: Lost #1

Following the events of “Metal #3”, in “Batman: Lost,” Batman is lost in the Dark Multiverse. Barbatos is showing Batman how he supposedly had a hand in all of Batman’s cases, from the very first one, making him the idolized detective that he is.

Barbatos tells Batman that he has only shown him a handful of the Dark Batmen that all of Batman’s fears and failures have produced in the Dark Multiverse.

The entirety of the “Dark Knights: Metal” arc has been pretty mind-bending, but “Batman: Lost #1” is mind-blowing.

 

GLHal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32

In the third part of the “Bats Out of Hell” “Metal” tie-in, “None More Black,” Green Lantern squares up against his evil Batman counterpart, the Dawnbreaker.

Hal Jordan, Green Lantern, is nothing if not inspiring, and his inspiration shines, literally and figuratively, in “Bats out of Hell Part 3.”

The Dawnbreaker’s ring absorbs light, and upon discovering this, Hal puts his ring to strobe, constructs a massive Green Lantern megazord, and puts the beat-down on the Dawnbreaker.

The pages are filled with contrasts of bright green and solid black, which works beautifully.

 

laughing batThe Batman Who Laughs #1

In “The Batman Who Laughs #1,” on Earth -22, in the Dark Multiverse, The Joker pushes Batman to his breaking point. Batman kills The Joker

Upon dying, the strongest form of Joker toxin is released into the air, and Batman, having just snapped his neck, was in close enough proximity to the Joker to get infected, and his brain started rewiring. Batman and The Joker became one, and Batman killed the bat family, the Justice League, and Superman’s family.

Then Barbatos shows him the whole Dark Multiverse, and sets him and all the other evil Batmen lose on Earth 0.

 

JLJustice League #33

In the “Bats Out of Hell Finale,” Cyborg’s Mother Box, the source of his powers, tells him it’s time to give in and let it take him over.

He gives it partial access, and is able to get free and let the Justice League out of their restraints, so they can team up against the evil Batmen.

They’ve finally made some progress, but it’s only “halftime,” according to Cyborg.

Their Batman is still lost in the Dark Multiverse. If the whole event hasn’t been a climax,than it is reaching its climax in this issue.

 

nightwing 1Nightwing: The New Order #4

In “Nightwing: The New Order #4,” The Flash, Beast Boy (or Beast Man now?), Raven, Cyborg, and Starfire, the mother of Jake, and Dick Grayson’s ex-wife, saved their long-lost friend Dick from being pummeled by the Green Lantern, Jon Stewart.

They’re all at odds with Dick for what he did to remove the powers from the planet, when they find out that Jake is being held because he might be the cure for people to get their powers back.

Kory, AKA Starfire, and Dick hashing out things as estranged lovers is quite relatable, and it’s cool to see that was written into this strange, alternate future.

 

doomsday clockDoomsday Clock #1

The world is ending. Much of the comic gives a mild back story for the Watchmen.

Previously a masked hero, Adrian Veidt, the self-proclaimed World’s Smartest Man, has been charged with the death of 3 million people.

Dr. Manhattan hasn’t been seen in years. The Comedian is thought to have been murdered by Veidt.

A new Rorschach has been sent to collect The Marionette to recruit her for something Veidt has cooked up.

A notion is made that Dr. Manhattan has fled to another universe, then we see Superman having a nightmare and the comic ends with a quote from Ozymandias that seems to reference Krypton.


Marvel Comics

Daredevil #595daredevil1

Matt Murdock is a lawyer who was blinded by chemicals as a child and developed hightened senses. He is the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, Daredevil.

In “Crushed by the Kingpin,” Matt returns from overseas to discover that Kingpin, Wilson Fisk, was elected mayor on a platform that all but mirrors Donald Trump’s.

Wanting to right this wrong, Matt sets out on a crusade against Fisk that is quickly shut down by a request from Fisk to build a case against the vigilantes in New York.

Displeased, Matt sets out in his tights to clear his head, when things take a bad turn.

 

The Incredible Hulk #710hulk

In “Return to Planet Hulk Part II,” Amadeus Cho, now The Incredible Hulk, is on Sakaar, fighting in the Warlord’s trials called the Gauntlet.

As the champion of the Doka’abi tribe, Hulk makes it through the first trial, which was basically an alien monster truck rally where everyone was trying to kill Hulk.

Amadeus “takes back the wheel” from the Hulk persona, then gets angry upon discovering that he’s only made it through one of five trials, which I’m assuming will continue in the next several issues.

 

The Mighty Thor #701thorC

Volstagg has been confronted by Mangog in “The Wrath of the Mangog.” A creature that is said to be “ferocity personafied… born from the rage of an entire slaughtered people.”

Mangog is the ultimate judgement of all Gods, and he has found Volstagg’s tenure as the War Thor wanting.

Almost the entire issue focuses on the Mangog demolishing the War Thor.

At the end of the issue, Malekith, the forefront of the war on the Nine Realms, appears out of nowhere and tells Mangog where he can find more Gods to slaughter.

The Punisher #218punisher

Frank Castle became the ruthless antihero The Punisher when his wife and children were murdered in a Central Park shootout and crooked cops kept their killers from receiving justice.

In “Punisher: War Machine Part 1,” ex-Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury, approaches Frank for a job that just so happens to intersect with the Punisher’s current personal vendetta.

To pull off Fury’s mission, though, he’s going to need to requisition something from the Air Force: Tony Stark’s designed War Machine armor.

He aquires the War Machine suit and sets off on Fury’s mission with pure excitement.

 


*Marvel comics have returned to original numbering since the “Legacy” relaunch.

Back Talk: Greeting cause debate during holiday season

Seasonal greetings should include all holiday traditions

by Matt Molinar

The war on Christmas is not real.

When winter arrives, it seems that the anger toward political correctness from Republicans reaches its peak.

Since the time that former president,Gerald Ford was in office, anti-Semites have been alerting the public of the “assault on Christmas.” This was started when Jews began entering the United States. This meant that Jewish students began attending schools filled with Christians.

Because ignorance is a strong thing, these people either did not realize that Jews do not celebrate Christmas or they just did not care, and their ego led to hatred toward Jewish people when motions were passed to exclude mentions of Christmas in schools.

For those who may not have noticed, the United States has become home to an ever-growing diverse group of citizens who may not celebrate Christmas.

Today’s “war on Christmas” focuses on the words “Happy Holidays” being used in department stores instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Using “Merry Christmas” to wish everyone happy times during the holiday season is not inclusive of other cultures.

hauniWhen schools celebrate Christmas specifically, it is not inclusive of pupils from other cultures, which can cause a young student to feel segregated and insecure.  You wouldn’t walk up to a Jewish person and shout “Merry Christmas” knowing well that they celebrate Hanukkah. So we shouldn’t address diverse groups of people as if they all celebrate Christmas.

Many religious people will argue that saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” “takes Christ out of Christmas.” But to be quite honest, Christ has nothing to do with Christmas.

People aimlessly follow tradition and customs without really looking into their origins, because they seem to come naturally and it’s what they’ve always known to be true.

The Holy Bible explains in the book of Luke that Christ was born at a time when shepherds were “abiding in the field, watching over their flock by night.” In the book of the Song of Solomon, the scripture states that winter was a season in which shepherds could not stay out in the cold watching over their sheep in the fields at night.

The Catholic Encyclopedia confirms that Christ was born during the fall, and not in the winter.

Another thing people fail to realize is that Jesus was a Jewish person who celebrated Hanukkah.

According to the Associates for Biblical Research, Christ participated in the celebration of Hanukkah around the year AD 29 during the winter. The scripture gives the implication in the Book of John, chapter 20, and verse 22.

So why is there so much fuss about being inclusive? Wouldn’t you want to include the image of Christ in your festivities?

All of this doesn’t make you wrong for celebrating Christmas in remembrance of the birth of Christ. The main reason it is even celebrated on December 25 is because there really is no known exact date of birth. But you must be inclusive.

Celebrate Christmas, but don’t be stubborn about sharing this festive holiday season with those who don’t celebrate Christmas so that we may, indeed, experience happy holidays.


Appreciation of minority cultures not appropriation

by Tyler York

If your birthday is in June, it would be strange for people to acknowledge that cheerful day of  by wishing you a “happy summer.”

It would still be a pleasant interaction, sure. But the response to a specific life event feels like people care about you. It’s almost always a welcome communication between friends, family, and even sometimes people you barely know.

I don’t see why it can’t be the exact same way with Christmas.

When people wish each other a “Merry Christmas,” they’re taking a moment to connect with each other, and to have a positive interaction that brings both parties a brief instance of joy. Most of the time, this comes in the middle of a regular daily routine and provides a little break in the monotony that can make one’s day if positioned properly.

I’ve grown up celebrating Christmas. I have never celebrated Hanukkah in my life. But last year, when I was wished a “Happy Hanukkah” by someone in passing, it nearly made my day. The thought that someone would want to share their personal happiness about their time of cultural celebration absolutely thrilled me. I felt more connected to both my community and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, humanity as a whole.

There seems to be a trend toward oversensitivity in our country, or even an expectation of every social interaction needing to be underscored with a kind of “pre-offendedness.” This way, the moment anything happens that could remotely be perceived as majority-affiliated, all parties should immediately acknowledge it as offensive or exclusionary.

bellsPreemptively being offended at things doesn’t help move anything forward. And more importantly, being offended at hearing the word “Christmas” is not the same thing as being tolerant and respectful of minority cultures. Just because a large number of people celebrate Christmas in the United States, it doesn’t have to mean anything Christmas-adjacent is automatically offensive to everyone in the minority.

Futhermore, the act of giving well wishes of happiness in a time of celebration doesn’t invalidate the individual beliefs or practices of another culture. On the contrary—I think sharing messages of appreciation and social pleasantries does a great deal to unite cultures. In a country with so much diversity of practices and celebrations, and with a media that tends to focus on negative interactions and evidence of a divided nation, the more we can do to share our happiness with each other, the better.

I recognize that it’s a bit different with Christmas, specifically, and it could be argued that there’s a different dynamic of majority power in play. I would probably agree—if people were running around screaming that Christmas is the only thing that is allowed to be celebrated, or if there were violent riots where Christmas supremacists were killing innocent people in the name of the one true Santa. But that isn’t reality.

People just want to tell other people “Merry Christmas.” And that is hardly the end of the world

Word on the Street: Holiday traditions

Compiled by Randi Jines and Bekka Ruiz

Antonio“I’m Mexican, so my family makes tamales and stuff for the holidays”

Antonio Ortiz – General Studies, Freshman, Spur

 

Dolf“My favorite holiday tradition is taking off from work. It’s a good tradtion that we don’t have to go to work on the holidays.”

Dolf Guardiola – Instructor in Sound Technology, Whiteface

 

Emily“Getting together with family on Christmas eve and opening one present. I think that’s my favorite part, being with my family that night for that one present.”

Emily Hinojosa – Veterinary Medicine, Freshman, Plainview 

 

isiah“I don’t really have a holiday tradition, but I enjoy going back home to see my family.”

Isiah Maurice – Family Studies, Sophomore, Durhaam, North Carolina

 

IMG_0537“My family bakes cookies together”

Shane Leary – Heating and Air Conditioning, Freshman, Spur