When you think of the word home, what image comes to mind? Chances are you are probably imagining some sort of house equipped with windows, doors, and a roof overhead. It is not surprising that we all share this vision when we hear the word home. In fact, when you go onto any search engine and type the word home, you will find the same familiar houses that come to mind. We all associate houses with homes, but homes are much more than walls of brick and wood.
“Comfort,” “Family,” “Security,” “Freedom,” all are different ways to describe home. Home means something different for everybody, but each meaning is important and respected nonetheless. Regardless of what home means to you, the thought of straying away from the familiarity of home can be scary. If you have ever been away from home, I am sure you can agree that after a while of separation, you begin to crave the feeling of being back at home. Even if you tell yourself “you never want to leave or go back,” you will still have a sense of gratitude and ease when you return. Although it is nice to enjoy taking a break, most of us will eventually come back to the homes we know and love. For the 33 international students at North Cross coming from fifteen countries around the world to live in the dorm, their “homes” are thousands of miles away. To put it into perspective, some of these students will only get to see their family or homes only once or twice a year. Our very own Willis Hall Herald editor, Eason Zhou ‘24 has not returned to his home in China for over 800 days. This extension of time might seem unbearable and depressing at first, but there is more to it.
Luckily for Zhou and all the international students, their time away from home does not need to be a negative thing. Instead, their new environment has given them the opportunity to form a new home, their “home away from home.” In a new home, our international students can gain a new sense of belonging. Some students have even gotten the chance to stay with and join the homes of their host families. As they will always keep their “old homes” close to heart, they are able to find new meanings and beginnings with their homes here in the United States.
Recently, in a survey to find out what international students liked most about their home away from home, we discovered that each student had their own unique outlooks. From “experiences and opportunities” to “pools and having a chance to be away from parents,” all the international students have grown to appreciate something new about their homes here. One of the best parts about homes is that along with having multiple different homes, we can share our home with one another as well. This January, Willis Hall welcomed a new Spanish Teacher into our community. We hope to share with her our love of North Cross, a school and community that is one of the many places we call home.
February 1st, 2024, is National Freedom Day. The date is not significant simply because of its illustrious title of freedom, a revered principle in this great nation, but because of the commemoration of the neverending struggle of liberty for all. On February 1st, 1865, led by Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Stevens, the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 119 to 56, the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment postulates that:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
In layman’s terms, this states that slavery is effectively illegal inside of the territory of the U.S. or anywhere within its authority. It created a new sense of unity in this nation, although there was still an uphill battle to be fought. Still, the landmark decision to change for the good cemented the U.S. as a nation willing to do what is just, moral, and operate on the side of the Right. National Freedom Day has become a beacon of what America stands for. Our fathers set us on a trajectory–a destiny–for prestige and power used for the greater good of humanity.
Obviously, I must have a personal connection to this concept of “freedom”. The revered principle of personal liberties is a concept which has unmatched importance. In my journey of life I have found that there is no greater gift, given by the sacrifice of millions throughout our nation’s history, than the right to be fairly represented, treated, and judged. In this nation, and every such nation dedicated to preserving the rights and legal guarantees for all who inhabit them, should be a nation venerated and exemplified on the world stage. My individual connection with egalitarian principles and democratic engagement stems back to my early days of middle school. As you all know, the year 2020 was a turbulent period in not just American, but world history. As I saw even the adults in my life plagued by uncertainty, questioning the future of our planet, I knew that if such an event would happen again, there needed to be someone who could stand up and advocate for the true founding ideals of America. As the year progressed, and the unrest became ever apparent, violence and injustice became the only solution for some. That was a particularly haunting premise for me. Was this nation not founded on liberty and justice for all? Ever since I asked myself that question, I have dedicated my life, studies, and efforts to the furthered sustainability of freedom in the hearts of anyone willing to work towards its survival. We have come a long way since the days of the cataclysmic divide of this country in 1861. However, we must steel ourselves, and rededicate ourselves to the proposition that as long as free men live, not a man shall be a slave.
The new generation–this generation–must find what it means to live without fear. We must learn to revere the rights and privileges that we are endowed with from birth, and to hold ourselves as examples for others. As I conclude, I implore you to reflect upon my statement. What freedoms are you guaranteed? What do you want to see change? What is the most ideal life you can live in this nation? If everyone reading were to answer these questions, then there is no doubt in my mind that a more prosperous, successful, and free society would exist in our future years.
- Mason Bibby ‘27
Photo by Eason Zhou
By Caroline Welfare
In December, diplomats and environment activists assembled in Dubai for the United Nations climate summit. Not many had real hope for progress, with peacekeeping in the Middle East failing and sound geopolitical leadership deteriorating and the chosen host country, United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s petrostates, and the chairman, Sultan al-Jaber, the head of the national oil company. The last one of the three threatened to turn this important event into an exercise of greenwashing.
With sighs of relief, the UN’s summit Cop28 defied bleak expectations and brought the world’s nations, most of them, together in an agreement to move away from coal, oil, and natural gas, finite resources that are main fuel sources for global warming. The 198 parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed on a text angling for a transition “in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner” away from fossil fuels.
Still, compromises that let down many environmentalists had to be made. The European diplomats hoped to “phase out” fossil fuels altogether, but fossil-fuel producers refused to agree. Small island nations feel their voices were not heard, as the deal determined only “unabated” coal power was to be phased down, leaving dirtier options free to continue so long as the burnt emissions are caught at the source.
Pessimists claim that the deal was “politically naive and economically unfeasible. COP operates by consensus, meaning that the big petrostates had veto on any deal” the Economist states.
Despite this milestone, fossil fuels are likely to remain prominent for coming decades. Even optimists believe that the battle will continue.
However, vast strides were also made. Mr. al-Jaber allowed for climate diplomacy to be stronger than many had hoped for. He proved more concerned with securing a negotiating triumph for the UAE rather than distorting the summit’s process for economical gain. 50 oil companies made early pledges to reduce methane emissions, a powerful, not to mention dangerous greenhouse gas.
Many other successes led up to this deal, including the United States and China’s agreement, two of the largest polluters and historic rivals working together to lay the groundwork for this event. Even next year’s summit location - Baku - is seen as “a symbol of harmony”.
Larger fossil fuel corporations have seen the warning: because of the financial changes that must be made globally, business will become more challenging and struggling nations will require aid now more than ever, with companies inevitably fighting back. But the bleak progress that still must be and challenges that still must be faced is made dull in comparison for the beacon of hope that COP28 shines for the world.
I feel like schools push students to know a lot. There are at least six different subjects taken by an individual student. There is a large amount of homework to do every night as well as reading and extracurriculars such as sports. As well as the much, much needed additive of sleep. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. I have a hard time getting the right amount of sleep and I know my classmates also have the same problem. I feel that it would greatly benefit attendance and the sleep of the entire student body if all days started at 8:30 instead of 8. I know it is a North Cross tradition, but I suggest that we eliminate morning announcements, unless there is a senior speech as well as shortening the time in between classes to four minutes, because under my current understanding it is five minutes. That should give enough time to start school a little later. So I would like you to take my concerns into consideration when writing the next school paper.
Thank you, Oliver Lacy ‘26
By Maeve Parker
Travel is a part of our everyday lives. Whether you are walking your dogs, driving to the grocery store, or even traveling across the world, it affects us all. As you engage in each of these tasks, you are allowing time for your mind to process things going on in your daily life. Simply getting away from your everyday life for just a moment can instantly decrease stress and improve your mood.
As traveling connects us to the world around us, I believe that it can have a very positive impact on our mental health. According to WebMD, travel relieves stress, enhances creativity and boosts overall happiness.
With these powerful benefits, travel can be a tool to help a person through a hard time. I know very well that some days, getting out of bed seems impossible, but the benefits of getting out of bed and getting a simple breath of fresh air can be transformative and positively impact the rest of my day.
Many people at North Cross engage in some form of traveling. When asked about how traveling affects her mental health, student Fiona Parnell ‘26 has a unique outlook on the topic. For as long as she can remember Fiona has gone to Ireland to visit her family. Her sister, Maeve Parnell ‘23 currently attends college at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
“It is where I get my happiness from,” she said. “Ireland is my home. It is where I feel like I belong. It has helped me improve my confidence as it gives me a connection to my culture.” In Fiona’s instance, traveling improves her mental health because it is a way she can “destress from the rest of the world” and opens her to new connections with people in another country.
Another student with a one of a kind experience with travel is Ameer Albishah ‘26. Ameer has been to countries in Europe and the Middle East, and so naturally travel has become a huge and important part of his life.
“It helps me improve my mental health a lot because it’s so relaxing and calming,” he said. His favorite part of traveling is getting to visit his family in Jordan every summer.
“I visit my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and my best friends in Jordan,” he said. “It’s so much fun and I always look forward to it”
Travel is very meaningful to Ameer. “Traveling is a big part [of] improving my mental health,” he said.
Travel has improved my life in similar ways to Ameer and Fiona. I was born in Brisbane, Australia, however my family moved back to the United States when I was still very young, so I don’t remember my experience very much. However, due to being born in such a unique place, it has led me to become very interested and curious in the world around me. I have always wondered what Brisbane was like, and the dream of going back has motivated me to become interested in traveling in general.
One of my favorite activities is walking my dogs on the Fern Park trail near my house, and although it seems like a simple thing to do, it means much more to me. It makes me feel connected to my neighborhood and Roanoke, while also allowing me to destress from the rest of the world just like Fiona and Ameer.
Our lives can sometimes feel like they are in non-stop motion and there is no time in between to focus on yourself. However, by focusing on this motion, you can learn different ways to use it to help improve your overall well-being.
Whether attending club meetings, practicing for the winter play, or preparing for exams, there is always something going on amongst our community. Through our athletes winning state championships to students making All District Choir, our students are always involved on and off campus. Although we take pride in being such an active and lively community, we all can feel some degree of pressure or stress at times. Seniors especially have been hit by this wave of stress the most with things like college applications and senior speeches.
“I’m stressed about college applications and maintaining grades,” said senior Cate Cook ‘24, “and I don’t want to get senioritis.”
Other seniors find their main source of stress coming from themselves.
“I put a lot of stress on myself to perform,” said Paul Schueler ‘24, “and set myself up well for the future, which is overwhelming.”
As seniors go through the college admissions process, some are starting to really feel a whole new level of responsibility.
“I’m stressed because of the heavy workload I have and how being a senior,” said Helen Hertz ‘24. “I’m having to be faced with the idea that I will be an adult very soon.”
“Going to be an adult is stressful,” said Isabelle Onufer ‘24.
These things can be extremely overwhelming, but luckily for seniors and other students, we don’t have to handle this stress alone.
Through ups and downs, our school community offers support and encouragement when we need it. We can always count on one another to lend a helping hand or help us work through stressful times. This unity and close bond we share brings us together and is something truly special at North Cross that we should appreciate.
After attending the Thanksgiving Assembly, it really gave students and faculty a time to reflect on all the things we are grateful for. Between our many academic and athletic opportunities to our strong and intertwined community, we all can be thankful for many different aspects of North Cross. Our school is flourishing more than ever, and every day we look to make improvements and make impacts on our community. But while keeping focus on our school community, we make sure that we do not lose sight of our community beyond North Cross. In the spirit of gratitude, our school holds great importance to giving back.
Willis Hall has been doing just that by making positive efforts toward helping others in need. From the beginning of the school year, we started by raising money for Maui to help those affected by hurricanes. Green Club has been working on collecting plastic for Trex Recycling. Recently, the SCA collected coats to send to the rescue mission, and students held a dodgeball tournament to raise money for juvenile diabetes research. In the coming weeks, we are collecting more items, toys, and necessities to send to the Rescue Mission. Additionally, in the spring, we have more efforts coming like our school wide Rise Against Hunger event. But this is only the beginning, and our students, faculty, staff, and community will continue to give back
By Caroline Welfare
The settlement started only 30 minutes from where Roanoke is now, back when that land was deemed inhospitable due to the lack of good ground for building houses, and it has been a beautiful farmland since the first families who settled there. Those families might not be there for much longer, and the beautiful valley would go with them.
The government itself is ordering and forcibly obtaining farm and forested land for the 42-inch fracked gas pipeline that not only disrupts the community, but also damages the pristine waterways connected to Virginia’s second tallest waterfall, Bent Mountain Falls and Camp Creek, both of which are home to 10% of freshwater organisms in both Virginia and the Blue Ridge.
The Nature Conservancy owns the family-friendly and popular hiking trails known collectively as Bottom Creek Gorge, but not the land that has been claimed for the pipeline.
And runoff from the nearby pipeline is not their only concern.
Families old to the area are afraid of having their land claimed without them having committed a slight against the people, despite Virginia having strict laws about eminent domain. This is not a common problem, but the U.S. government has been known to claim land already owned for resources. Several signs of protest are hung on fences, the closest one to the paused construction says boldly; “THIS IS THEFT!”
According to reporting in Cardinal News judges have ignored several emergency pleas, and after a four-month-long pause in construction, the Supreme Court has once again given the project a green light.
According to the Appalachian Voice runoff is not the only environmental concern. When the pipe inevitably breaks, the fracked gas will spread and ruin the surrounding waterways, endangering species that were threatened already.
From above, or from distant overlooks, the pipeline looks like a scar on the lush mountainside.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens both the environment and farming families who have been there so long that they may not have another place to go. Not only are homes that have been legally owned for decades being claimed by the order for the pipeline, but when it unavoidably breaks, we will have a wholly different, water-poisoning problem on our hands.
“U.S. Supreme Court gives Mountain Valley Pipeline the OK to resume construction as 4th Circuit hears arguments,” according to Cardinal News. A photo shows the construction - but conveniently hides the “THIS IS THEFT!” sign on a through road.
By Eason Zhou
Virginia has a reputation for having historically lax gun laws, which have generated discussion and attention frequently. Despite the state’s long history of hunting and gun ownership, its lax gun regulations have made it possible to openly carry firearms in public areas and have few background checks for private sales. Concerns about gun crime and public safety have been raised by this laxity, which has prompted calls for tougher laws and background checks.
Is Virginia genuinely effective in reducing gun violence through firearms restrictions? No, is the response. The U.S. state with the 29th-highest rate of gun violence is Virginia. Between 2010 and 2019, there was a 9 percent increase in gun-related deaths, a 4 percent increase in gun-related suicides, and a 20 percent increase in gun-related homicides in Virginia. At $836 per person annually, Virginia is rated 31st in the U.S. for the highest social cost of gun violence. Virginia spends $7 billion on gun-related deaths and injuries, of which $292 million is covered by tax dollars. Of gun-related deaths, 32% are homicides and 65% are suicides. Virginia averages 7.4 suicides and 0.7 suicide attempts per 100,000 people, or 663 gun-related fatalities and 62 gun-related injuries annually. Virginia has the 35th-highest rate of attempted and actual firearm suicides in the US. In Virginia, the average annual number of gun-related homicides and assaults is 339 for every 100,000 people, or 4.1 homicides and 7.8 assaults per 100,000 people. In the U.S., Virginia has the 31st-highest rate of gun-related killings and assaults. In 77 percent of all killings, a gun is used. The primary cause of death for kids and teenagers is firearms. In Virginia, firearms claim the lives of 85 adolescents and teenagers on average each year; homicides account for 55 percent of these deaths. 111 women were shot dead by an intimate partner between 2015 and 2019, and 62 percent of victims of female intimate relationship homicide died with a gun in their hands.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of gun control measures can vary depending on the cultural, social, and economic factors of each country. Additionally, correlation does not always imply causation, and other factors may contribute to the observed outcomes. But I believe that regardless of the cultural and economic differences between countries, no country’s people hope that more people will die from gunfire. The United States ranks among the top in the world in terms of various data related to shootings, and there is still a lot of room for progress on the gun control front. The effectiveness of gun restrictions has been well demonstrated in some countries, so why hasn’t the United States taken action to reach a collective consensus on limiting firearms in order to create a more harmonious living environment?
While some may claim that owning a gun gives them the opportunity to protect themselves, the simple truth is that guns are more often used to cause harm than to protect. The data shows that loose gun restrictions lead to more firearm deaths. There are many people in the process of promoting the new law who are preventing its change, whether it is organizations like the NRA or individual citizens. However, to change the situation, we can only speak out in hopes of changing the minds of more people. As more and more people join, those who truly have the ability to change policies will take action. I hope this day will come soon and make our society better.
For Kaylee Timonet, school was always a place for her to thrive and be a leader especially as the Student Body President of her class, but all that was taken away from her with a simple dance.
On September 30th, while at a party with her mom, Kaylee and her friends were dancing when a DJ filmed them and the video was eventually posted online. Although this video was taken outside of school, and nothing in it associated the school she attended, Kaylee’s principal, Jason St. Pierre took it upon himself to find the video and talk to Kaylee about it.
Kaylee was called into his office the following week, and was immediately punished and scrutinized for of her dance because St. Pierre claimed that the dance was “not living in God’s ideals” thus forcing his religion upon the 17-year old. He took away a scholarship Kaylee had worked incredibly hard to achieve, along with taking away her preposition as president.
Punishments should never be given for no reason, but unfortunately sometimes they are. For Kaylee Timonet this was the case, and the punishment she received was heightened to an unbelievable extent due to her just enjoying life and having fun.
Following receiving this devastating information which could possibly hinder her future, Kaylee used Tik Tok to share her story with the world. Her story immediately received lots of attention spreading it across various new outlets around the country.
In response to the outrage among teenagers all over the US, St. Pierre was asked to back down from his position as principal and apologize to Kaylee and her mother for the entire situation.
Kaylee’s story has shown teenagers all over the country that there will always be a support system there for them with the help of social media. The extent at which people have come together to back Kaylee has been incredible to see and it shows us the advocacy of the new generation.
This entire story makes me realize how powerful our generation is, but it also makes me appreciate the freedom and support from adults that we have at our school.
Dancing - a harmless activity you can do anywhere, with anyone, and at any time. For some, dancing comes as a form of art or expression, but for others, it’s a way to connect and spend time with friends and family. Dancing can be many things, but being the reason for costing your future should not be one of them.
For senior Kaylee Timonet of Louisiana,, a video of her dancing with friends at a private party would be the reason she lost her chance at a college scholarship. After her principal, St. Pierre, got a hold of the video, he called her into his office where he chastised her for not living up to “God Ideals.” He proceeded to take away her role as Student Government President and remove the school’s support for her college scholarships. Since then, her story has gone viral across many platforms and news outlets, where she has gained support against her unjust punishment.
Fellow classmates have shown support in a protest walkout at school asking to “Let the girl Dance.” After all the backlash with St. Pierre's punishment, he has since given back her position as president and resumed endorsement for her scholarships. Unfortunately, although the situation seems to be resolved, the deadline for Timonet’s scholarship passed before her punishment could be reversed.
“Regardless of what the principal thought about Timonet’s dancing, I think his punishment was a step too far,” said Upper School SCA President, Attilio Ciccozzi ‘24.
“I myself love dancing," Attilio mentioned, “and I'm glad that if another student or myself were in her position, our North Cross community would have reacted much differently.”
Upper School Director Stephen Belderes had a visceral reaction.
“This is literally literally the plot of Footloose,” he said. “That's outrageous. It makes no sense.”
At North Cross, dances are a key aspect of student life that brings excitement and anticipation all throughout Willis Hall. This October, high schoolers are gearing up for Homecoming week and all the activities associated with it.
As we go into Homecoming, we should be glad to be at a school like NCS.