By Hania Raza
As the newly appointed Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Debbie Taylor has recently taken charge of a very important mission.
Taylor implements programs for the students and provides training for the staff to promote diversity and fairness. These are vital values to have in all educational institutions, and they are crucial for the advancement and improvement of a civilized society.
“North Cross is a school that produces future leaders, teachers, politicians, doctors and lawyers,” said Taylor. “Having diversity and inclusion at a place like North Cross helps to make our next generation better than the present and the last.”
Before coming to North Cross, Taylor went to Johnson C. Smith University and then worked for 15 years at the John Crosland School in Charlotte, NC, an independent school for students with learning differences. She also worked at Brookstone Christian Schools for four years and James Martin Middle School for four years. She started her work in the DEI program at her last school, but she has been passionate about it for the majority of her life. She expressed that it has always been a big part of her life.
“Once you realize you are being treated unfairly, differently and excluded you become passionate about being treated fairly. I have taught my students that everyone is equal. That everyone should be treated fair and with kindness and respect,” said Taylor. “I knew that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was something I have always done and something I wanted to continue to do.”
After relocating to Virginia this past April, Taylor came to North Cross because it was highly recommended.
“After hearing about North Cross, interviewing, and being on campus,” Taylor said, “I felt it would be a great school to work for.”
During her time at North Cross, Taylor said that she wants to provide a safe space for students, where everyone will feel respected and part of the school.
“I see North Cross as an institution that will embrace different cultures, religions, races, economic status and sexual orientation,” Taylor said, “A place where everyone is comfortable, acknowledged and celebrated.”
Taylor continued by saying that she wants to “increase awareness about biases and stereotypes that many do not know that they have and display.”
So far, Taylor has already made a positive impact on the school by involving the students in Hispanic Heritage Month.
She recently announced that she will be giving out a gift card to the person who can name the most influential Hispanic People.
Stephen Belderes, the director of the upper school, said that he is highly impressed with Taylor’s ability to make a difference at North Cross.
“I think she has already brought a positive change, just in the relationships that she has already established in the last three weeks,” Belderes said. “I’ve actually been really impressed with that.”
“I want everyone to understand we can not fix problems we do not acknowledge,” Taylor said. “Talking and learning about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion does not cause division, it brings awareness.”
By Gracean Ratliff
As the new head of school was being chosen, Dr. Proctor provided the Herald staff some reflections on his legacy.
Monday, June 6, 2011, Dr. Christian Proctor started his position at North Cross as the ninth Head of School. With about 120 fewer students than there are now, North Cross was a lot different: a different campus layout, less strict dress code, bus routes, no air conditioning in the CAC, no extensive Lower School Spanish program, no Global Studies program, no CrossWalk, and no Shanghai campus; Dr. Proctor has drastically changed North Cross for the better.
Previously, Dr. Proctor worked at other private schools in Texas, South Carolina, and Louisiana; but Roanoke felt like home. Unlike the other schools he was at, where he was only there for a short amount of time; he felt that he actually got to put an impact on North Cross.
“It was the first school that I came to, to kind of fix after 11 years” Proctor said. “It's the first one I decided to stay at for a long time, and so because I stayed for a longer time, I was able to do some things I'd never done before.”
Some of his fondest memories were the Christmas bonfires, where the lower schoolers would smile cheek to cheek waiting in line to meet Santa. He also remembers cheering on his son, Andrew Proctor ‘14, in his football games.
Proctor said Richard Cook and Mark Thompson gave him valuable advice. He could rely on a strong faculty of longtime teachers like Meade Martin, Jennifer Landry, Stephen Belderes, to name a few.
However, after 11 years of being the Head of School, Dr. Proctor will say farewell to North Cross. “As of late February, last year, I announced my departure at the end of the ‘21-22. school year to begin a career in consulting,” Proctor said. He plans to take what he learned from the school to connect American schools with international schools.
“My goal is to use the international connections that I've developed, over seven years now of having a school in Shanghai, as well as examining schools in other countries, to use those connections to develop a consulting practice that would put schools in America together with schools in Asia.”
Dr. Proctor made the school financially sound, and led the school in the $16.5 million campaign to renovate the new campus. The campaign included three, $2 million gifts to renovate, which resulted in a new Upper School, a new Library, a new walkway, and a new entrance.
“I wanted to make sure that I was leaving the school in very good shape for the next person,” Proctor said.
“Schools are unbelievably fun places to work, because you get to come to work with faculty that are interesting and fun to be with and you get to meet all of these students that have 570 different personalities.”
Although watching many students go from being in JK3 to sitting in front of everyone in the senior chairs on the first day of school, and watching them go from girls and boys to young ladies and gentleman; it was a good time to depart from the school.
Next September will be Proctor's first time in 55 years that he will not start a first day of school. As much as he is going to enjoy having actual vacations now, he will miss ringing the bells on the first day of school, announcing the lower schooler’s teachers, and watching everyone's big smiles as they see their friends they haven't seen all summer.
“[When I announced my resignation] I wrote down on a sheet of paper the things I wanted to accomplish before I left,” Proctor said. “The first one being to finish reconstruction, done. The second being to fill the dorms. This year we have 32 exchange students living in the dorms, and we have 10 more beds to fill. The third and final goal being to get fully accredited, which will surely be done under our next head of school.”
He hopes the future of the school will continue to thrive and reach “the next level” as he says, and only go up. He has hope for the years in the future and knows that North Cross will be in good hands.
“I think, by me leaving and bringing a new person in, who will take it to that next level, the school will be in an even better place than it would be if I was there.”
By Danny Phung '22
Film study club at Northcross is slowly opened again for students coming back to school.
French Teacher, Chris Brandon the founder of the Film Club has this to say about the reason for making this club. “I created the club to share my interest in film studies with students, and to give them another window into the arts.”
When asked about the movie that has impacted him the most, Mr. Brandon has a hard time choosing one.“This is a tough question! Many different films have impacted me personally during different parts of my life. Carl Theodor Dryer's 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc, a silent film, changed the way I understood what visual acting can achieve. Marcel Carné's film Children of Paradise (made during war conditions from 1943-1945) showed me the beauty of physical acting--and I think we all fell in love with the tragic mime Frédérick. But a movie like George Lucas' original Star Wars fired my imagination as a kid, making me dream of Jedi and spaceships. One of my favorite films to teach is Michael Curtiz's 1942 film Casablanca because it combines so much: adventure story, war story, refugee story, love story and is very artistic with its cinematography. “
Mr. Brandon thinks that movies can be used as a tool for education. “Movies can definitely be used for education. In the same way that visual arts, performing arts, and literature help us understand what it means to be human, often showing us experiences that are different from our own, film borrows from all of these art forms. Humans have always told stories, and some of the earliest and oldest forms of teaching are through storytelling.” he said.
For Mr. Brandon, his favorite activity in the club is listening to students about the movie. “Honestly, my favorite part is hearing what students think and how they react to what they see.”
The most memorable moment that he had in the club is the first of the Club.”I think my favorite memorable moment in the club was the first day when we talked about film scores and music and we listened to different famous scores and tried to decide what emotion was being conveyed. It was super fun!” Mr.Brandon replied.
Club member, freshman Isabella Onufer decides to join the club because she likes movies. “I chose to enter the club originally because I was bored and happened to be interested in movies .Once I got to know the class, teacher, and students, it turned into an extracurricular activity I am constantly looking forward to.”
Isabella had learned alot from the club, especially about diction movies. “I have learned a lot from this club. In my opinion the most interesting things I've learned are directing and filming techniques. For example, how lighting plays a role in how the movie "feels" (Example: film noir; dark lighting, heavy shadows. Generally gives the movie a mysterious and dark feeling). Or how certain props in the movie are set up to make a room feel clustered or too big. “ Isabella said.“My favourite is how perspective is used. Have you ever seen Jurassic Park? If not, then you should (it's amazing), but there's a particular scene where the group of people look up and see this huge dinosaur. The way the camera is positioned makes the human seen inconsequential and tiny.”
When asked about her favorite movie, she also has a hard time picking one. “ Let me just say this: having one favourite movie is extremely difficult. For example, some movies are too different, but you like them both (romance and horror). But my favourite types of movies are about time, or the ones that make you think about the reality you live in. The Butterfly Effect, Interstellar, The Matrix, Inception, and Terminator are some of my favourite movies.”
By Helen Hertz '24
Last Wednesday in the game gym, twenty-three students and faculty gathered to
donate blood for hospitals around the Roanoke area. For the North Cross blood donations you have to be at least sixteen with parental permission, but if you are 18 you are free to walk in and donate blood.
Giving blood is no easy feat. Along with being generally painful, having blood taken can cause someone to faint or be dizzy. According to Medical News Today, bruising, fatigue, and minor bleeding can occur. So, the students and faculty who donated should all be applauded for their services.
On Wednesday all around the school, you could hear students discussing their experiences giving blood. Several mentions of passing out for a few minutes or feeling tired. You also could hear students talk about the many attempts it can sometimes take to find a vein. Which from experience, can hurt quite a bit. As well as the talk of giving blood, you can see the donors sporting tiny Band-Aids.
“The blood drive was a huge hit!” says Connor Erwin, the director of this year’s blood drive. He also believes that this was “The biggest turnout” North Cross has ever had. The goal of the blood drive was originally 15 donations. The goal was absolutely crushed, beating the goal by 6 more donors. Twenty-one out of the Twenty-three people who showed up were viable donors.
Giving blood may seem small, but it is extremely generous. According to the Red Cross, just 1 blood donation can save up to 3 lives. About 43,000 pints of all blood types are donated each day, each one needed equally as much as the last. Out of the 46 million people who receive blood each year, one of those people could be a family member, a friend, or just someone passing you on the sidewalk.
A massive thank you goes out to everyone who was able to or attempted to give blood. Someone out there will be grateful for your contribution.
By Chloe Hunt '21
Murder on the Orient Express astounded audiences this past weekend, and in line with North Cross’s stringent Covid protocols, the performances were virtual. Orchestrating a production of high caliber virtually is not a task for the faint-hearted, as director Jess Jones-Gausla learned.
Jones-Gausla boasts a strong theatrical resumé dating back to her childhood.
“I did a few plays when I was very young and in highschool became active in the local community theatre and college theatre scene,” Jones-Gausla said. “I got a BA in Theatre Performance from Barton College and worked in the NC Triangle for many years. When I found that unsustainable monetarily, I went to graduate school at Cal State LA and received my MFA in Theatre, Film and Television: Acting. This training was to allow me to make a living in my chosen profession.”
Although the pandemic prevented Jones-Gausla from utilizing her graduate degree, it did allow for Jones-Gausla and her husband to make new plans.
“I graduated in 2020, so the world has gotten in the way a bit, the pandemic is what brought my husband and I to Roanoke and it completely changed our plans of making a career in LA. Since LA is not the center of the pandemic, we have made other plans to go to Oslo, Norway, and pursue careers there.”
Jones-Gausla’s love for theatre began with England’s national poet, Shakespeare. Although Shakespeare’s works can be jarring for young performers, Jones-Gausla fell in love with seeing Shakespearian works performed.
“Shakespeare got me interested in acting - particularly seeing it performed - not reading it. I loved the way the actors could so clearly tell a story and take you on a journey in a theatre or in your own living room that we would have no way of going on in real life,” Jones-Gausla said. “I became obsessed with this in highschool and went to a few summer programs at Cambridge University that only deepened my love for this style of communication.”
Jones-Gausla then realized that theatre provided an opportunity to explore the world. In her eyes, theatre prompts dialogue and conversation, thus connecting audiences and actors in a unique way.
“As I grew older it became a way to heal the world for me. You can present anything on stage without it having to have actually happened, or explore something from the past, and make your audience think about what they have seen,” Jones-Gausla said. “It connects us in seeing an actors perspective and allowing the audience to form their own opinion about that perspective that they have just seen, without critiquing an actual person, it gives permission to dive in.”
For her MFA thesis, Jones-Gausla had the opportunity to analyze perhaps one of the most transformative plays in American history. This project not only increased her affinity for theatre, but made her more aware of an important epidemic.
“Harper Pitt in Angels in America. This was my thesis project to receive my MFA and one of the most important plays in American history, if not the most important play,” Jones-Gausla said. “It centers around the AIDS crisis and is one of the first works for the stage that explores queer lives as full lives and not as a tool to tell a straight story.”
For students who are considering pursuing a career in theatre, Jones-Gausla has some advice, and one thing that want-to-be theatre professionals should be mindful of.
“Money. Because this is a gig to gig business, it is difficult financially. 'Survival jobs' in coffee shops and restaurants are great in theory, but the wage for that work in this country is horrendous and it takes too much of one's time and energy, at least as you get older, away from your career,” Jones-Gausla said. “This is why I have opened up my view to film and television and received a degree where I can now teach college level courses and look to being an associate professor at a university to augment my income while continuing to build a career as an actor.”
Although a career in theatre has its difficulties, Jones-Gausla believes that theatre has the unique opportunity to better our world.
“ It is about and for the community and forms a discussion that has the potential to further society.”
By Chloe Hunt '21
I love crime and thriller movies: Knives Out, The Firm, The Departed, and really anything like that. Movies have the unique ability to keep you on the edge of your seat and really make you want to eat popcorn, but so many people believe that they can only find that exciting, suspenseful element in movies rather than literature. After all, I do not think I am alone as a high school student in saying that a movie is typically more engaging than a book.
That is why I love The Secret History. This story kept me on the edge of my seat, so-to-speak, from the very beginning. An inverted crime novel, this thrilling piece will draw you in in an inescapable manner, even if you think you do not like books. My only critique is that this book is long, a stunning 592 pages, but it also provides an unique and exciting escape from reality.
The narrative begins with a lower-class teen from California attending college in Vermont. The narrator is immersed into an environment of intellectual sophistication, and he befriends students who are studying the Classics with a questionable professor. However, this group spends a lot of time not focused on school, but rather in a drug-filled haze, which leads them to kill someone. The novel revolves around this story line.
The book about murder is not new– in fact, it is done quite frequently. What is so interesting about The Secret History is primarily the perspective. So many murder mysteries are told through a third person omniscient narrative, which can garble the essence of the story. However, this novel is told through the first person point of view, Richard Papen, which enhances the chilling atmosphere of the book and makes it a more compelling read.
What is also interesting is that the author, Donna Tartt, provides a new take on the murder mystery. It is not a “who-dun-it,” but a “why-done-it.” From the beginning (so this is not a spoiler), the audience becomes aware that the narrator was culpable in a murder. As the reader, you will initially be left confused, which is why I urge you to keep reading. Tartt’s prose is not just strong, but it is so deliberate, using each word to craft a narrative so compelling that page turning becomes irresistible.
I am certainly late to the game reading this novel nearly 20 years after its publication, but I do not think I am alone. I urge all high school students to find a hard copy (more fun to read) or just search for a PDF online. Whenever you find yourself jaded by your studies of calculus or Spanish, start reading The Secret History, because as cliché as it may sound, all of its wonders are so secret and so special.
We live in a society where globalization is present in our everyday lives. It has
gradually become an essential component of the way we communicate with
each other, how business is conducted, and the way people understand
current affairs. Globalization is a phenomenon that brought about the
acknowledgment of cultural diversity and the widespread idea that
multilingualism is a consequence of it. Therefore, it is no surprise that
multilingual classrooms are becoming more common even though they may
still be in their early stages.
Multilingual education has acquired more relevance because a growing portion
of the student population can understand and/or converse in more than one
language so multilingualism is no longer just a way to reflect one aspect of
your identity, it is a true representation of what the classrooms have become:
an extension of globalization. Therefore, multilingualism in education needs to
go hand in hand with the present times. Education cannot fall behind when it
comes to keeping up with the current trends in the global village our world has
Multilingual education is an enriching feature in our classrooms that is here to
stay. It presents the possibility of interpreting our world from multiple
perspectives. It opens new doors to understanding other cultures from a
standpoint where this is no "right" or "wrong" answer about customs and
traditions. Individualities are presented in a different light and, consequently,
we can develop skills that help us appreciate and reflect on what makes us
different when considering these differences may enrich our lives and
experiences. These features go beyond languages and affect many aspects of
education and students' perceptions of the world.
Multilingual education can also bridge the gap among intercultural
coexistence. If multiple languages are present and there is a conscious effort
when creating a curriculum with a pacing guide and units of study, lessons,
and projects that focus on languages and the cultures of those languages with
an emphasis on comparing how each language has evolved based on how its
culture has affected it, then students of different cultures may begin to
understand each other better by actively engaging in exchanging ideas about
their language and their customs. In this type of learning environments, class
activities like translations, interpretations, and compare/contrast help develop
skills that put education in a new dimension where critical thinking skills,
emotional learning, and experiential learning are just some of the added
benefits. They can also help our frame of mind become “more flexible” and
broaden the borders of concepts by putting everything into a more "malleable"
state. It is comparisons what many times trigger reasoning from multiple points
of view and higher thinking skills.
Multilingual education offers the essential tools to access more opportunities
to grow in a future career or occupation. A child that has been exposed to a
rich multilingual education knows no barriers or distances and one can only
dream of the exponential growth in that child's education and the potential for
a greater future. However, multilingual education has not become more
relevant just because of all the advantages it can have in academics or a
future job. Multilingualism reflects a society that is going through great and
deep changes to adapt to a new era that is ever evolving at a rapid pace.
The increasing recognition and use of multiple world languages are what has
put multilingualism at one of the top spots of desired high-quality education
and it is becoming a major goal for many educational communities around the
world. Nevertheless, it is vital to remember that there would be no multilingual
education without a diversity of cultures that coexist in the same environment
and actively interact with each other. Multilingual education is the result of the
effects of globalization and the social and psycholinguistic impact it has on our
There is much more to come in multilingual education as it continues to strive
for permanent success in its implementation. Our current system of education
must find ways to meet the demands of a student population that is gradually
and steadily taking a leading role when it comes to making sure their voice is
heard. Educators and administrators are the ones who must ensure that
further steps are taken towards establishing new programs that can be taught
in a wider variety of educational contexts that welcome all languages and all
Mariana B. Hermosilla de Casco M. Ed.