Time to Get Down and Dirty

The courtyard cleanup

by Hannah Belleville

     This Saturday at 8:00 a.m. the National Honor Society entered into the East Lyme jungle, a.k.a. The courtyard. The grass was three feet tall throughout the entire walled in rectangle. Weeds, thickets, thorn bushes, and vines all tangled into one and choked out the shrubs and flowers that resided in the gardens. The stone pathway was completely hidden by layers of dirt and grass and took a good hour to uncover.

     NHS took one look at the green mess and saw the potential. They dove in with shovels, rakes, gloved hands, weed whackers, and lawn mowers and tamed the beast. Blades of grass were chopped down to just a few inches tall. Weeds were uprooted, thrown in garbage bags, and disposed of in the dumpster. Bare hands and shovels dug up the pathway that had been hidden by grass and dirt for two years. Dead branches of bushes were cut back and shaped.

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Response to: Fox News: "Opinion: 'SNL' fat-shames Sarah Huckabee Sanders" by Todd Starnes

The article that ruined my Monday morning

by Hannah Belleville

     As I read this appalling article I became filled with rage. Starnes criticizes Aidy Bryant’s parody of the deputy press secretary claiming that she fat shames Ms. Huckabee Sanders.  He quotes CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “You guys were mean about Huckabee Sanders. You were fat-shaming her. You were talking about how she looks and what she wears. I thought that was mean, not funny.”

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Life With a Concussion

Fourth one’s the charm

by Hannah Belleville

     I have spent the majority of these past two weeks in a mental fog. Focusing has not been a strength of mine. I often find myself zoning out while trying to hold a conversation, and whenever I catch myself and try to focus I am unable to. This leads to one word answers, a glassy gaze, and my fatigue reaching an all-time high. I get spells of feeling dizzy and as a result I am not allowed to drive. My emotions have been all wacked out, going from feeling nothing but tired to as sad or angry as I have ever been. And for some unknown reason to doctors sleep schedules get all messed up with concussions. I have gone from two weeks of not being able to sleep for more than three hours at a time to now sleeping half the day away, then waking up and still feeling tired.

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The World Championship Soccer Game

A never before seen game

by Hannah Belleville

     The players suited up. The blue team versus the rainbow team. The game was scheduled for 6:00 pm on a Tuesday night. The venue: a strip of beach that had two pairs of shoes sticking up at each end for goals. As the players took the pitch bystanders sat in their chairs and on their patios to witness the epic battle: youth vs age. My sisters, Emma and Abbie, and I were on a team with Uncle Sean, a guy who has a hip replacement, as our goalkeeper. We faced off against the Age team consisting of my mom, dad, Uncle Jamie, and Aunt Neicy. Granny was the ref and Aunt Michelle was the photographer/substitute for whoever needed a break.

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The New Beauty and the Beast

    

Modernizing a classic

by Hannah Belleville

 

     This past weekend I was lucky enough to get to join three other generations in the Niantic Cinema theater 5 for the film everyone has been raving about: Beauty and the Beast. I found the remake of the 1991 classic to be amazing. Emma Watson perfectly embodied the character of Belle and Dan Stevens could not have been more frightening as the beast or more handsome as the prince. While the movie stuck to the plot of the ‘91 version and the songs were word for word, new lessons and messages were presented to the audience as well.

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Should Marijuana be Legalized in Connecticut?

How pot would affect the state

by Hannah Belleville

 

     On March 7th, the State Capitol held a hearing discussing the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana for users 21 and over. The state heard from representatives, people who are prescribed medical marijuana, psychiatrists, law enforcement, nurses, and teachers. Medical marijuana has been legalized in Connecticut for about six years now. However, all over the country, including states like Colorado, California, Maine, and Massachusetts, recreational marijuana has been legalized, taxed, and regulated like alcohol.

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Early Saturday Morning Excursions with Maggie

A trip to the vet

by Hannah Belleville

     It was 8:00 this past Saturday morning. Maggie had a vet appointment scheduled for 8:30. My dad called in backup: me. Taking Maggie to the vet, my family has learned, is a two person job. She absolutely without a doubt despises the drive to Colchester, and loathes the property the clinic is situated on. While the rest of the family peacefully slept in their beds my dad and I put Maggie in her harness and leash, got her in the car, and began the 15 minute drive to the Colchester vet.

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Applying for Scholarships

 

The silent killer

by Hannah Belleville

     In November I remember the feeling of relief after I had finished the Common App and sent in all my applications. I thought to myself no more recommendation letters, no more essays, no more applications. I again breathed another sigh of relief when I was accepted to the six schools I had applied to and started receiving Financial Aid packages.

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The Hike of a Lifetime

A never ending walk with Maggie

by Hannah Belleville

 

     My dad and I mentioned the four letter word “walk” and instantly, my dog Maggie went berserk. Her tail started wagging so hard that the entire back half of her body shimmied back and forth and she ran around the house jumping and licking us. We finally got her in her harness and leash and walked out the front door. Little did we know that we would be returning an hour and three miles later.

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Chopped Junior vs. Chopped

They open their baskets and reveal the mystery ingredients. There is usually a type of meat, sometimes a vegetable, and then two or more ingredients that provide a bit of a brain teaser for the four chefs. The appetizer round is when all four chefs are given 20 minutes to complete their tastiest dish and serve it to the three judges. The contestants are judged on presentation, creativity, and taste. After the appetizer round, one chef is sent home. The three chefs that are left compete in the 30 minute entree round with an entirely new set of basket ingredients. When the buzzer goes off the chefs are judged again and one of them is chopped. The dessert round is the final round. The two chefs left compete for 20 minutes with their final basket ingredients and whoever is not on the chopping block at the end wins.

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My Obsession with Sweatshirts

The greatest clothing ever created

by Hannah Belleville

     Ever since I could switch from the baby onesies and dresses I did to the softest things I could find: sweatshirts. From the classic hoodie with strings that just gets softer the more often you wear it, to the revived crew neck, the convenient quarter zip, and, my personal favorite on these cold winter mornings, the color fleece jacket.

     My love for them budded with the fact that I could mix and match my sweatshirts with almost any type of bottom apparel. From jeans to leggings to sweatpants to shorts, a sweatshirt never looks out of place.

     While this style may not be for everyone, as there are people who like to dress up everyday, sweatshirts fit my lifestyle perfectly. The sporty, athletic side feels exemplified, and the “I’m too lazy to put together an actual outfit” side loves that it’s as simple putting on whatever pants I want and then finding a sweatshirt to go with it.

     This morning as I stared into my closet deciding whether or not today was going to be a sweatshirt day (it is) I noticed the overwhelming amount of sweatshirts I possess; enough to fill up half of my closet, and thought, “Wow! Well at least my sister has the same amount of sweatshirts as me so we can share.”

How to: Recipes

Delicious foods at your fingertips

by Hannah Belleville

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

Step 1: Remove a stick of butter (half cup) from the fridge. Microwave it in the often for 15-30 seconds to soften it.

Step 2: Measure a cup and a half of peanut butter and place in a mixing bowl with the softened butter.

Step 3: Beat the peanut butter and butter until creamy.

Step 4: Pour two and a half cups of powdered sugar into the butter-peanut butter mixture and mix.

Step 5: Roll the concoction into quarter size balls and freeze for two hours.

Step 6: Melt the chocolate of your choice and dip the frozen peanut butter balls in the chocolate.

Step 7: Chill in the fridge for one hour then take out and enjoy!

 

Chocolate Bowls

Step 1: Open a package of balloons and blow up to about the size of a fist.

Step 2: Melt the chocolate of your choice in a bowl.

Step 3: Dip the half of the balloon in the chocolate to form a bowl shape.

Step 4: Place in the freezer over night.

Step 5: Remove from the freezer, pop the balloons, and remove them.

Step 6: Put fruit, ice cream, or anything else you can think of in the bowl and enjoy!

 

Chocolate Pretzels

Step 1: Lay out square pretzel bites on a cookie sheet or baking pan.

Step 2: Place hershey kisses on top of each pretzel.

Step 3: Place in the oven at 250 degrees for 2 minutes or until chocolate looks shiny.

Step 4: Remove from the oven and press M&Ms into the hershey kisses.

Step 5: Chill them in the fridge until the chocolate is hard.

Step 6: Remove from the fridge and enjoy!

Midterms

A different look at exams

by Hannah Belleville

     I woke up to the sound of my very upset sister telling my dad about her first midterm experience. The sobs that wracked her body were like nothing I had ever heard before surrounding a school grade. It was Tuesday night and she had found out that her two hardest classes, which she had studied countless hours for, had both dropped a grade due to her midterms.

    While she had been stressing out the two weeks prior to midterms and the week of midterms, I relaxed and binged on Gossip Girl and Orange is the New Black. My midterms this year were reduced to two that I had to come in for: Physics and AP English.

    I do feel for my sister. I understand how tough exams are and how frustrating it is to put a lot of time and energy into studying for a class and then not achieving the results you want. However, it was difficult for me to stay in this “pity party” mode because exams are not the end all be all. She will get on with her life. She will pass her classes and graduate high school. A couple bad test grades do not define a person.

 

 

Wishing my Senior Year Away

When Life is Moving Slow

by Hannah Belleville

    My mom always told me, “Hannah don’t wish your life away,” and her mom always told her, “Katie don’t wish your life away.” Yet here I am half way through senior year counting down the days until I walk out the green double doors for good.

    With senioritis now having its firm grasp on my life I find getting anything done to be impossible. And now that I have started watching a new show, This Is Us, my motivation has gone from a zero to a negative five.

    Like many athletes that plan on playing in college, I already know where I am going and have gotten my acceptance letter. The excitement of just getting to college, making new friends, taking new classes, and playing on a new team are all things that I cannot wait for. All of my puzzle pieces are in place and now I want to close this chapter in my life, move on and begin writing the next.

    I am thankful to be able to always call East Lyme and Salem home. I know I will always have a place in this community. But now it is time for me to leave the nest and have an adventure of my own.

 

Elbows: Probably Your Body's Greatest Weapon

The funny bone is not so funny anymore

by Hannah Belleville

    Contrary to popular belief the funny bone packs a bigger punch than the old school clenched fist, or the famous kick of the leg. Unlike the fist and leg, the elbow has a smaller surface area which focuses the force and power into a more concentrated area, therefore making the connection with the desired target a painful experience.

    I speak from personal experience. Monday night, a player on the opposing team made the desired contact with my bicep, causing the muscle to explode in pain. I thought my bicep had split in two.

    Two days later, my muscle still is in spasm and screaming in pain when I try to straighten my arm. Moral of the story: if I ever need to defend, myself my elbow is the way to go. Not only does it inflict the most amount of pain, but it also is the least expected weapon of choice.

 

Getting into the College of my Dreams

Becoming a Black Bear

by Hannah Belleville

    I vividly remember back in November sitting on the well worn couch in the University of Maine women’s soccer office. My mom sat beside me and the head coach and assistant coach sat across from us. I remember feeling in love with the school and with the people. I remember the head coach saying at the end of our chat, “Well Hannah, we think you would be a great fit here at University of Maine and we would like to offer you a position on the team,” and I remember smiling and my mom looking excited. I smiled and said thank you, which were about the only two words I could manage to say. The coach proceeded to tell me to take my time in giving an answer and explore my options and to let him know my decision by the beginning of January.

    Now, as I sit here writing this blog, I have given my verbal commitment to UMaine and plan on playing soccer for them next year. I am a Black Bear.

    I have validation for all the late night practices where I was not getting home until 10:00 or 11:00 at night and then having to finish homework. I have validation for playing soccer year round and going into the gym early during the week to work out. I have validation now for killing myself with challenging classes and stressing out over tests.

    I do not think my decision has hit me yet, even if it says UMaine ‘21 in my Instagram bio. Every morning I wake up and think, “Wow, I am going to be a D1 athlete.” My family remembers me saying from a very young age that I wanted to play division one soccer. And while the recruiting process started a little late for me, I began preparing for my next four years when I was in middle school. I always wanted to push myself and my parents saw the drive I had to become better. I began playing premier soccer in 6th grade, and now I am at my last year with the club that has become a second home.

    While ending high school is the closing of a chapter for me and I have had some of the best memories in the small state of Connecticut, I look forward to expanding my horizons in Maine and getting used to their sub zero temperature in the winter.


 

My Favorite Christmas Movies

The right amount of laughs and cheer

by Hannah Belleville

    It is that time of year again, where I can cuddle up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate, push my homework to the back burner, and watch the all time greatest 11 Christmas movies.

  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

  2. A Year without a Santa Claus

  3. Home Alone (1 and 2)

  4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town

  5. The Holiday

  6. Miser Brother’s Christmas

  7. Polar Express

  8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (not animated)

  9. Elf

  10. Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer

  11. Frosty the Snowman

 

Just Be Happy

:)

by Hannah Belleville

As we enter the winter season in the small towns of East Lyme and Salem in chilling New England, our vitamin D levels decrease causing some of us to feel a little more gloomy than usual. Fear not! Here are 10 ways to lift your spirits, because after all, it is the holiday season.

  1. Get yourself a hot drink, like hot coco, and top that beverage with a mountain of whipped cream and if you are feeling fancy find some chocolate shavings to sprinkle on top.

  2. Go for a drive. Take an adventure on these old country roads, you never know what wildlife you might find.

  3. Grab your favorite fuzzy blanket, your go to Yankee Candle, and favorite book, and curl up on the worn, sunken in couch for a relaxing day of getting lost in a novel.

  4. Fill the house with the fragrance of fresh baked cookies and brownies. Not only will you have the delicious treats for later, but you will have the tasty bowl of dough to lick now.

  5. Pop in a movie that you know you will laugh your socks off. I suggest Christmas Vacation.

  6. Spend time with friends. Hit up the mall, with all the sales they are having you are sure to get a deal, or go out to eat, after all, who doesn’t love eating?

  7. Dust off the fireplace that has not been used since last winter, and get it blazing. Once the flames are to your liking invite a cuddle buddy, such as your dog or cat, and curl up for a peaceful nap by the heat.

  8. Call up your family members and invite them over for a day of dining and laughing together.

  9. Give your granny a call and ask her how she is doing. It will lift your spirits just by surprising her with a phone call from you and a bonus is her spirits will be lifted too.

  10. Take a walk on the beach. So what if it is December? The crisp air and sound of crashing waves is a great way to soothe the mind and ease the soul.

 

Quarter Two

Arguably the worst quarter

by Hannah Belleville

While many may say that quarter four is the worst quarter because of finals, AP testing, and the summer fast approaching, I would argue that quarter two is by far the worst quarter for a couple of reasons.

    Reason numero uno: Quarter two begins shortly before Thanksgiving break. This means students either already have their minds on the feast that awaits them or they have already left for various vacations. Either way, the whole first week of quarter two becomes a waste because the information given and new units that are first introduced must be reviewed as soon as students come back from Thanksgiving break.

    Reason number two: After Thanksgiving there is about two and half weeks before Christmas is upon us. This makes coming back from Thanksgiving break even harder because students are counting down the days to the next break. Also, after Christmas/Winter break midterms (and finals for half year classes) are taking place in a week, which means, even though teachers may have said “don’t worry you don’t need to study over break” you actually do need to study if you want a chance at passing your exams.

    Reason three: As if these weeks off from school are not enough to throw students’ learning curve out of whack the unpredictability of snow days and delays are sure to make the material more difficult to grasp and understand. Along with this, colds and the flu start making their way around school infecting anyone possible adding to the days of school missed.

    So yes, quarter four presents its challenges with testing and the excitement of summer, but quarter two has all that and a bag of chips.