The favorites of winter flourish in the flurries

The weather outside may be frightful, but the activities are so delightful.

The snowy season allows students to enjoy the many skiing slopes and the ice rinks that flourish under the blizzards.

Although it could be absolutely bitter outside, a cup of warm coffee or steaming hot chocolate are great companions to brave the storm.

“My favorite part about winter is the red Starbucks cups,” exclaims Sarah Vannett ’15. Sarah also takes pleasure in the many opportunities to make snow angels and go sledding whenever winter comes around.

“I’m stringing Christmas lights up in my car,” says Parker Tinsley ’15.

Not only does the weather make winter a fun-filled season, but also the man-made things such as the many Christmas lights that seem to bounce off the snow. People can go to light exhibits like the Denver Zoo or Hudson gardens to walk through a little wonderland.

“My favorite part about winter is the lights,” says Tinsley. He enjoys the many beautiful scenes that the lights present during the blustery season.

“I think some of the best things that people can do in the winter or especially over winter break are doing doughnuts with a car in the parking lot, Christmas shopping, and skiing,” says Vannett.

Since people have many places to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

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A Fun Trip Back to Middle-Earth

With his return to the wondrous world of Middle-Earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson creates another visually powerful film, but be warned, it’s no classic on its own. The major problem, which is simply inevitable with a film like this, is that it feels like the set-up for something bigger, but then again, that’s because it is in fact the set-up for something much bigger. Never mind that the source material is already lighter than the Lord of the Rings trilogy since Jackson crafts the tone for this one perfectly, because what The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey functions best as is a teaser for the rest of the action.

Jackson did the right thing by splitting the book into multiple films so he could capture almost every detail of Tolkien’s novel, so despite the fact that this film lacks the major pay-off for what it sets up, it’s another great adventure from one of the absolute best modern directors. The film follows Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a lowly hobbit who has never ventured far from his own home, but this changes when the great wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) approaches him and insists that Bilbo join him and thirteen dwarves led by Thoran Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an adventure to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. The city, once thriving, was taken long ago by the fearsome dragon named Smaug, who presided there and lies with the fortune of gold hidden away. On the quest, they encounter goblins, orcs, wargs, shape-shifters, sorcerers, and of course Gollum (Andy Serkis), who holds his precious ring in the depths of the goblin tunnels.

Even though there’s a lot more that happens in the story and the film really only offers set-up, it’s an essential part of that story. We haven’t gotten to the climax yet, but this chunk of the adventure is still thrilling on its own. Yes, it also lacks on its own, but if it’s a sign of what Jackson has in store for the second and third films (which it is), then we are in for a treat that will offer the pay-off this sets up and more.

With that being said, the film is still another technically brilliant one. The editing is precise and crisp and the visual effects are fantastic, even though Jackson often opts for CGI over makeup (unlike he did with Lord of the Rings). Not to mention, the cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is stunning and absorbs us into the amazing world Jackson has brought to life. The score by Howard Shore captures the essence of that from Lord of the Rings, but it’s still different and captivating enough to enhance the film as best as a score can.

Of course, it’s the direction that brings it all together and makes everything work as well as it does. These elements are essential for the thrilling result we get from the film, but what really makes it come together is the smooth pacing. Jackson is great at just about everything in the filmmaking process and pacing is no exception since he makes two-and-a-half hours fly by in what feels like no time. All in all, say what you will about the majority of the film being set-up, but there’s no denying that this is darn good set-up.

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Finding a way to stay safe

It’s hard to believe all of the violence that has occurred over the past year. Many people have been killed in tragic shootings around the United States. Many people are calling for reformed gun laws, while others are vouching for more focus on helping people with mental illnesses, and I believe that at this point in time there is not a sole answer to how America can prevent more shootings. I do believe that there are actions that can be taken to help prevent things this atrocious from becoming such a prevalent aspect of our society.

For one, we need to figure out how to help people with mental illnesses. Before people are able to buy guns, there should be a strict process that every person must go through to ensure that there is no history of mental illness. People who wish to purchase guns should have to go through rigorous background checks and there should be a law that those who wish to purchase a weapon should be approved by a psychiatrist.

Another way to prevent these shootings would be to stop selling automatic rifles to the public. The sole purpose of automatic weapons is to kill, and there is no purpose for anyone to have a weapon that has that kind of potential. With these guns in our society, there is a much larger chance of people deciding to kill others.

I do believe, however, that the most important aspect of preventing more people from dying in mass shootings is to stop glamorizing the killers. After every shooting, there seems to be more focus on the killer than the victims. The questions are always “Why did the killer do it?” “How did he get the weapons?” “Were there any signs that he could do something like this?” “How old was he?” “Why didn’t his parents raise him better?” There are never any questions about the victims. The country is in mourning, but not very many people know the names of those killed. Most of the people in this country know the name of the shooter, but not of any of the people hurt in the incident. The questions that should be asked are ones like “Who were those people that were hurt?” “What did they contribute to the world while they were alive?” “How can we remember them?” “How can we help their loved ones?” Other people look at the attention that the shooters get and think t hat they want that kind of attention. Cutting it off from the source, the media, would prevent more incidents like this from happening.

It’s time for change in America. We all need to come together and figure out how to make this country safer from incidents like all of the ones that we have seen over the past year.

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Conquering the US from across the pond

Close your eyes and picture a camera zooming in on Highclere Castle and then cutting to a service bell downstairs ringing from the Saloon all set to the theme song “Did I Make the Most of Loving You.” The show that immediately burst into your head was “Downton Abbey”, right? If it wasn’t, the phenomenon-of-the-period drama is eagerly awaiting to blow your mind.

Created by Julian Fellowes for BBC, “Downton Abbey” first debuted in the United States in January 2011 on PBS as a part of the Masterpiece Classic. The cast includes Hugh Bonneville,Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens and the one and only Dame Maggie Smith.

The “Downton Abbey” cast poses for the series three promotional photograph. The show airs Sunday nights at 9:00 pm on PBS.
Image courtesy of tc.pbs.org.

The show takes place in 1912, the morning after the Titanic has sunk. From there, the show begins to tell the epic life story of the aristocratic Crawley family, their servants and how the sinking will change their lives forever.

“Downton Abbey” is praised for its wonderful script by Fellowes, which does not allow for one particular person to be the star, but gives enough depth to each character to make them seem as if they were truly real.

The show owes a majority of its success not only to the exceptional script by Fellows, but also to its talented British actors.

“I think our actors have a kind of understanding of period. For Europeans, the past is in them as well as the present and I think they are at ease in that genre in a way that the Americans find harder. I think Americans are wonderful film actors—the best in the world—but they are a very contemporary race and they look forward all the time. There is something about period drama where they tend to go into a strange place called ‘Period’ where people wear funny clothes. Whereas I don’t think our actors do that; they make it very real and that is, with something like we’re doing, very helpful. The cast is so much the main reason for its success” said Fellows in an interview at a creative-content summit in London that was later posted on vanityfair.com.

Regardless of the nationality of the actors, the show is a major hit on both sides of the pond and is expected to earn high ratings for its third series which started January 6 with Cousin Matthew and Lady Mary finally getting married. And if Cousin Matthew and Lady Mary are foreign characters to you, then you better tune in to PBS on Sunday evening for the remaining six episodes before it’s too late, as it is Cousin Matthew’s, Dan Stevens, last series! And, well, if you don’t tune in, I can only image what Dame Maggie Smith’s character Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham would say: “Why does every day involve a fight with an American?”

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An inconvenient truth now a reality

The world’s animal population is rapidly declining everyday due to climate change. The polar bear is one of the many species in danger in part due to its melting habitat. In the last century, the earth has warmed approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit. These changes taking place in the climate are putting animals such as the polar bear in great danger.

Danika Lamb ’13 expresses her disappointment of the global crisis, “I totally believe that global warming exisits and is ruining our planet,” explains Lamb, “It affects everything from the planet’s animals to our atmosphere”.

Polar bears are decreasing in numbers steadily. The main cause of their dwindling population is global warming and its effects on the enviroment.

Beginning in May 2008, the polar bear has been lsited as a threatened animal.  This is the cause of their damaged enviroment. Melting icecaps cause polar bears to go to unthinkable measures to stay alive.  But these measures are not acceptable for the polar bear population.  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that there are only 20,000-25,000 polar bears left. The diminishing population isn’t the only concern. According to allaboutwildlife.com, the dwindling area of hunting land “has driven some polar bears to resort to cannibalism”.

Several other problems stem from this situation. This is only the beginning of the crumbling of the ecosystem as the earth knows it. Every carbon foot print pressed upon this planet is directly affecting the environment and the earth’s future.

But, we can change this. With small steps toward rebuilding our planet, we can diminish the effects on the environment.

Catherine Wood ’13 shares her contributions to helping the environment, “I do little things like recycle at home and school. Every little thing helps”, says Wood.

Every little thing does help to rebuild our planet and save our endangered animals from the harmful effects of global warming.

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Conducting Boettcher Hall

Thirteen members of the Heritage High School Orchestra were chosen to be in the Continential League Orchestra.

In the midst of hundreds of people, thirteen Heritage students had no idea that they would be among the one hundred and nine high school students selected to be in the Continental League Orchestra.

On Monday, October 29, members of the Heritage Orchestra and Mr. Fischer, the director of Heritage’s Orchestra, traveled to Highlands Ranch High School to audition for the Continental League Orchestra that would be performing in Boettcher Hall in January of 2013.

The orchestra works extremely hard for the opportunity and it also has a record to uphold.

“Heritage High School consistently sends one of the highest numbers of students to continental league each year,” says Fischer.

“Before auditioning, we had to sign up on a waiting list,” says Shannon Pansini ’15.

Pansini is lucky enough to be one of the thirteen to make it in.

“I got to Highlands Ranch High School at four o’clock and I didn’t get to audition until 7:30 p.m,” says Pansini.

Students had to play an excerpt from a symphony piece and sight read for the audition. After a week, the results were revealed.

“I felt excited [about getting in] because they choose the best people out of all the schools,” says Alienor Doremieux ’15, another selected performer.

There are only three rehearsals and they are not easy.

“The conductors just keep going,” says Pansini.

“I feel nervous [about the performance] because the music is much harder than expected,” says Doremieux.

The Continental League Orchestra performed at Boettcher Hall on January 14, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. for the Continental League Music Festival.

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Moving Zoe out of Town

A tree taken down by the winds of Sandy. This was taken the day after Sandy arrived.

Zoe Van De Voorde, Heritage graduate of 2010, evacuated her NYU dorm room because of a storm named Sandy.

“The night Sandy blew in, she knocked out my power and water. My roommates and I had a peanut butter and jelly party for dinner. We watched “Magic Mike” and slept through the worst part if the storm,” says Van De Voorde.

Thanks to Sandy, Zoe left the city and moved in with a friend living in Long Island NY, which prevented her from going to any of her college classes because she is living so far away.

“Sandy is the reason I have not been going to classes. I am in a Pre-Med program and missing classes puts me behind the other students not affected by Sandy,” says Van De Voore.

“With water on the streets it was super hard to get around. We walked everywhere, subways were shut down and taxi’s were picking up people who needed destinations outside of the blackout zone. Whenever we were out it smelled of smoke from the fire in Breezy Points,” says Van De Voorde.

According to www.huffingtonpost.com, 80 houses were left untouched. 190 fire fighters helped to catch the flame.

“Sandy hasn’t disappointed me at all. She’s really come through for me actually,” says Van De Voorde.

Now Zoe has moved back into her dorm room. She’s back doing her Pre-Med classes. The town is still very damaged but it’s all back to normal.

“There is still a lot of fundraising in New Jersey and Coastal New York but Manhattan started right back up once they got the power back,” say Van De Voorde.

Sandy has disappointed and hurt the lives of many and soon they will come together.

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Varsity boys tip off

The team tries to score against Pueblo East High School. Pueblo East is highly ranked in 4A.

It’s that time of year again. Winter sports are in full swing, including boys’ varsity basketball. From now until February, the boys will practice, strategize and work hard to win games in hopes of making it to the playoffs.

The Eagles took on rival Arapahoe in their first game of the season. While they played hard, they were not able to pull out a win. The final score was 46 to 88.

“We hit a shooting slump and they couldn’t miss,” says Heritage boys’ varsity head coach Jentry Byleveld.

They then entered their first tournament of the season, which they co-hosted with ThunderRidge.  The first game of the tournament was played on December 5 against Pueblo East High School. They again fell short, losing 37 to 61.

The next game of the tournament was played against Grand Junction High School. After falling behind in the first three quarters, they went on a shooting streak and almost caught up. They were not able to overcome the deficit and lost to Grand Junction 65-73.

The final game of the tournament pitted Heritage against Gateway. Heritage came ready to win and managed to take the lead from the beginning. The final score was 67 to 50, putting a win on the board for the Eagles.

After their first win, the Eagles headed into their second tournament optimistically. Their first game was against Columbine High School, ranked sixth in 5A. While they fought hard, they were not able to overtake the Rebels and lost 52 to 67.

The second day of the tournament put Heritage against the 2012 5A state champions, Chaparral High School. Unfortunately, they lost again, with a final score of 53-72.

In the final game of the tournament, Heritage played against Valor Christian. Both teams played equally well throughout the first half of the game, with no more than four points separating them at any given time. However, Heritage hit a shooting slump in the third quarter and while came close to recovering, never did. The final score was 77 to 86, adding a loss to Heritage’s record.

The night before finals, the team traveled through a snowstorm to Evergreen High School. It was well worth the trip, as the game was a close one. In the end, the Eagles overcame the Cougars with a final score of 60 to 63.

Over winter break, the boys played two games, the first against Mesa Ridge. They played well as a whole, and added another win to their record with a score of 56 to 31. Two days later, the team traveled to Prairie View High School. They won by a landslide with a final score of 62 to 34

In their first game of the new semester, Heritage traveled to Hinkley High school.  The trip was well worth it, as the game was a nail biter.  The team again played well cohesively and won 51 to 47.

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Dancing the night away

12 Colorado Schools compete at the Continental League Dance Championships. Mountain Vista Varsity took first and ThunderRidge Varsity took second.

The exhilarating, electrifying pre-performance jitters of walking out onto the hardwood floor, judges staring, hearts beating, palms sweating, minds racing; these are the typical feelings of the Heritage High School Varsity Belles and JV Poms dance teams just moments before they perform their routines.

“You can’t hear anything but the sound of your heartbeat and the people screaming,” Anna Gerze ‘14 describes.

“You have to look over the judges’ heads because you don’t want to know what they’re thinking,” Rita Passaglia ‘15 adds in.

On Thursday, November 8, twelve Colorado high schools competed against one another for the chance to claim their spot as champions in the first competition of the season. Heritage, Highlands Ranch, Mountain Vista, Legend, Ponderosa, Chaparral, Douglas County, ThunderRidge, Rock Canyon, Castle View, Littleton and Regis took their turns on the Heritage gym floor to compete in a variety of events. The performances consisted of Freshmen Pom, JV Pom, Varsity Hip Hop, Varsity Pom and jazz dances.

The JV girls felt really proud of their routine, as did the Varsity Belles.

The Heritage Junior Varsity Poms perform first. Their school spirit and camaraderie echo through the gym as they begin the competition.

“They did really really well. I think their performance was the best I’d ever seen,” Varsity Captain Megan McLeod ’14 states after the JV girls performed.

The end result of the competition held Mountain Vista in first place for Varsity and ThunderRidge in second.

Varsity Belles’ Co-Captain Madison Jarrett ‘13 really looks forward to the new season.

“Last year was a building year for us so now we’re at that step where we’re progressing,” says Jarrett when asked about the potential of the team this year.

This is the first competition of the season and the girls hope to place in their next meet because of all the hard work that they have put into dance.

“We practice Monday through Thursday for two hours, and sometimes we have Saturday morning practices,” explains Maddie Laycock ’15.

All of those practices make for a strong bond between the girls.

“We are very close,” Caroline Crump ’16 tells. “It’s like we are a family,” Laycock adds.

Coach Mrs. Julie Cantwell was very delighted with the way the girls executed their routines.

“I was really pleased with their performance; I felt like they all gave it one hundred percent and worked as a team,” Cantwell tells.

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