Friday, December 12, 2014

Man behind the mic

Allen takes pride in role as morning voice of Comet Country

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

Whether you tune them out or listen attentively, the morning announcements are an omnipresent part of our daily routine. Most students, however, are unaware of the man behind the mic.

Thurman Allen, an English teacher at Mason High School, has been the unseen face behind the voice resonating through classrooms for the past six years. What started out as a somewhat random selection by a former assistant principal evolved into a job in which Allen can embrace his Comet pride every day.

According to Allen, the best part to him is being in the loop of MHS’ news.

“I like the fact that I know what’s going on,” Allen said. “Any time I can read congratulations, or see how the band is doing, or the lacrosse or water polo team, it’s always fun.”

Allen said there have been several challenges to his duty that he has faced over the years.

“The hardest part is probably that people send me announcements, but they won’t proofread them,” Allen said.  “Earlier this year I had to be on the fly and make corrections as I was speaking. Also, there is always the fear of messing up a word. Names are especially bad. I have had some problems as well with students who will ask if I can invite someone to Prom or sing happy birthday, but if I start with them, I will have 3,400 students who will want to make it happen as well.”

Outside of school, Allen said he participates in several extracurricular activities.

“I am co-coach for the academic team and the advisor for the film club,” Allen said. “When I’m not directing, I am an adult volunteer for the drama department. Occasionally, I help out with the book club.”

Along with juggling his teaching duties, preparing the announcements and running clubs, Allen said he still finds to time to be in a band.

“(My band) is called Entertaining Lucy,” Allen said. “We are a three-piece combo–I play bass guitar. We basically play everything from classic rock and Pearl Jam to more modern stuff that people like to listen to.”

Allen said he likes to mix things up sometimes by changing the coined closing of ‘Comet Country’.

“My favorite one to do is when I go to the ASL class,” Allen said.  “No one ever gets it. I say have a great day, and it’s just quiet. We tried to do that a couple of times on the Day for Deaf. Or I go to different language classes and it’s like in German. Or we did the choir and they sing it.”

The fact that even some of his own students are clueless on his announcing duties is amusing, according to Allen.

“Most students don’t make the connection until suddenly someone informs them,” Allen said. “What I get from the students is, ‘You’re the one who does the announcements?’ Yes, you hear my voice every day. They have no idea.”

According to Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart, she, along with the rest of the administrators, are extremely grateful for Allen’s contributions throughout the years in saying the announcements.

“I love that Mr. Allen is the morning voice of Comet Country because he is so enthusiastic,” McCarty-Stewart said. “He is a great way to jump start our day.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dear Madison,

Dear Madison,

I would just like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your letter and all of the...interesting details. Since Peyton might have been a little mortified after having his blunders exposed to the cyber world, I figure I should should level the playing field by exposing some of my own embarrassing childhood moments.

I have also only broken one bone in my life. Since I come from a background of playing soccer and other physical activities one might figure I broke it then...nope. I tripped over a scooter and fractured the growth plate in my foot. When people at school asked why I had a bulky blue cast on my leg I lied and said I fell out of a tree trying to save a cat. (This was in third grade FYI)

You mentioned that you and Peyton liked to play Sharkboy and Lavagirl. I did have a similar shark themed nickname--Jaws. This was due to the crooked, overbite teeth that filled my mouth. (Thankfully braces exist so this nickname is no longer applicable. My parents says this was the best return on an investment they've ever made)

Another moment that still makes my family chuckle happened to me in first grade when we lived in Arkansas. We were touring an abandoned hotel and it was covered in a plethora of graffiti. Since I loved to read and learn I began to study the words spray painted on the walls.

"Daddy, what does F*** mean?"

It was a simple question for a curious 7 year old so I was surprised when my parents and older siblings began laughing hysterically. Of course my dad teased me about it after by asking me what word was written on the wall--just to hear me say the f word again.

These are just a couple of funny incidents that happened to me, but I hope they made you and Peyton laugh. I look forward to the fun times ahead for me and Peyton. I'm also glad that he has a very cool older sister who I can be myself around. :)

-Juliana Discher

IN RESPONSE TO: Dear Juliana,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What am I thankful for?

A wise man once said a picture is worth a thousand words.

Check out this slideshow to view the people and things I am grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Black or white

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

For biracial students, filling out the racial category on a standardized test isn’t always black and white.

Many high stakes standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, ask students to identify their ethnicities. According to USA Today, test makers ask this question to compare the scores of different races and see how the scores of a particular racial group change over time. And while the answer to this question doesn’t affect the test taker’s score, the pressure to paint an accurate picture for test makers and also stay true to individuality can be a dilemma for students of mixed backgrounds. Before the test questions are even revealed, these students can sometimes face an internal identity crisis.

Sophomore Jonathan Mccollough, who is half Chinese and half Caucasian, said he has undergone that exact confusion of having to identify his race on a test.

“When I took the PSAT this year, I had trouble filling out the race portion at the beginning of the test,” Mccollough said. “There was an ‘other’ option, which is what I chose, but I wasn’t sure if that was right.”

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, by the year 2060, 1/7 of Cincinnatians will be biracial. Mccollough said that this makes it even more important for these individuals to be recognized on standardized tests.

“Biracial students should be accounted for because they’re a growing population,” Mccollough said. “It’s becoming more common, so they should have something to identify themselves on tests.”

Junior Ri Moodie, who is half African American and half Caucasian, said that the ‘other’ option is the best selection for biracial students, but there should be a better choice.

“Mixed races have been around for so long, but they’re still not included,” Moodie said. “The tests have Native American and everything else listed, but they don’t have mixed race or an option to choose multiple races. I think it should be its own category instead of ‘other’.”

According to Mccollough, the ‘other’ option undermines his identity.

“In a way, ‘other’ does have a negative connotation,” Mccollough said. “It’s like you’re not included with everyone else.”

Rather than feel that isolation, sophomore Jay Singh, who is half African American and half Indian, said he chooses the ethnicity he feels more connected to.

“I think I share more of my mom’s side, so I just put black,” Singh said.

Picking between one of your racial makeups can be emotionally exasperating for biracial students, according to Singh. He said that essentially they have to decide between two very distinct cultures that are a part of them.

“Your racial identity is who you are,” Singh said. “When a biracial student is taking a standardized test and they’re forced to select one race, (the test makers) may not realize it, but they’re making the kid neglect an important part of who they are. It just doesn’t feel right.”

Full Story:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mac Attack

Juliana Discher

The Mac attack is upon us and I have yet to conquer the beast.

A few weeks have gone by since the sleek, white computers of the future made their entrance to room C103.

While the jumbo sized monitors and high tech programs are going to infinitely improve our quality of work, at the moment I am struggling on how to function these machines. By function, I mean just yesterday I just learned how to copy and paste.

I've never been an Apple person--being the outcast of my friends for not owning an iPhone, so the system is foreign to me.

As a result of these new Mac computers, I'm constantly pestering my peers for help on how to print, how to open a new tab, etc.

I'm still a long ways away from considering myself a Mac person, but I know soon these computers will be the Apple of my eye.

The Chronicle room with the new Mac computers

Monday, October 27, 2014

SIBS raise outstanding amount of money in annual food drive

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

Mason students served up a heaping portion of help through the SIBS club’s annual food drive held from October 20 through October 24.

According to SIBS advisor Jeff Schlaeger, the amount of money raised this year is phenomenal compared to last.

“This year we raised $12,734.43,” Schlaeger said. “We surpassed last year’s total of $10,000 big time.”

There were several reasons for the overwhelming success this year, said Schlaeger.

“The success can be accounted for really good project management,” Schlaeger said. “The credit is due to the SIBS and teachers. We have 113 SIBS and they each got assigned a second bell for the entire week. They owned their class: they pumped them up, inspired them, and gave them an incentive to raise the most money possible. We also had emcees who advertised in a goofy way at lunch.”

According to Schlaeger, the money raised goes directly towards the Mason Food Pantry.

“For every 14 cents the Mason Food Pantry gets, they can buy $1 worth of wholesale food,” Schlaeger said. “Then people in the greater Warren County area are able to get that food. Last year’s total allowed a walk-in fridge to be installed, in addition to all the food purchased with the money.”

Along with student and teacher donations, Schlaeger said that the James Horning Memorial Scholarship donated $1,500.

This year since Mason High School met their goal, social studies teacher Vance Reid and science teacher Cody Kreager volunteered to dye their hair pink. Schlaeger said this incentive helped to motivate some students.

“Throwing in a little gag helps raise money — last year it was me becoming bald,” Schlaeger said. “It’s not the sole reason why people donate, but it adds.”

Overall, Schlaeger said the most rewarding part of the week is witnessing the community unite for a common goal.

“I just love the week, as tiring as it is,” Schlaeger said. “I was in near tears on Friday. It’s so invigorating and inspiring to see the school community come together and say ‘Okay, this is a cause and we’re doing this, not because someone’s hair is going to be dyed a certain color, but because people need something and we as a community need to step up and provide.’”

Mr. Kreager and Mr. Reid pose with their newly dyed pink hair.
Full Story:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Zombie Bell

Zoning out inevitable in final period, stifling classroom productivity

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

Seventh bell teachers beware, your final class of the day is occupied by zombies: a glassy-eyed, weary swarm of the walking dead.

As the school transitions to the last bell of the day, students struggle to remain attentive and participate in class, according to sophomore Andrew Grimes.

“During seventh bell, I tend to look at the clock a lot,” Grimes said. “Time crawls by.”

Grimes said the switch from trimesters to semesters contributes to the lack of attentiveness students undergo.

“You’ve been through the whole day, and with the new seven bells your brain is tired out from having to think about six different things already, and then another separate thing,” Grimes said. “In my case, it’s Spanish, which is a completely different way of thinking.”

Though it may hinder learning time, biology teacher Robert Mitchell said he understands why students feel  uninspired during seventh period.

“There are days when I am completely worn out by seventh bell and I don’t have anything else to give,” Mitchell said.

The resemblance of students to zombies during last bell is accurate, according to Mitchell.
“Folks don’t say much and sit there like a bump on a log,” Mitchell said. “They appear to be in agony.”

Even though it’s easy to zone out, Mitchell said there are still ways to remain optimistic.

“I don’t know if it’s because the light at the end of the tunnel is there after going through six bells, but I can become quite ecstatic knowing that when the bell rings, it’s over,” Mitchell said.

According to Mitchell, the only way for students to get the most out of the period is to go into it with a positive mindset.

“My marathon coach told me when I was training for my first marathon that you want to finish strong,” Mitchell said. “Just push through and you will be rewarded for that.”

Full Story:

Monday, October 20, 2014


24 hours.

1,440 minutes.

86,400 seconds.

Yet I still don't feel like I have enough time in a day.

I've been in a slump lately where I feel as if I can't accomplish all of the activities I would like to.

Don't get me wrong, I know have a lot on my plate. Juggling homework, studying, family bonding, hanging with friends, playing soccer, writing for The Chronicle, being sophomore class president... the list goes on.

But I know the real reasons behind my struggle for more time are two things: procrastination and laziness.

I get home from school and lull around the house for two hours when I could be getting a start on my homework. After I do begin, I take the constant "mini study breaks"--which are anything but mini.

I find myself on my phone checking texts, which leads to scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, then replying to Snapchats. Half an hour later I realize that I just wasted precious study time.

Time is valuable; it's a gift. If I am going to complain about not having enough time in a day, then I need to utilize every second of it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Arts Festival showcases local artwork

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

A portrait of local artists, musicians, food vendors, and community volunteers was displayed this Saturday at Cottell Park for the annual Fall Arts Festival put on by The Arts Alliance.

The festival was held on September 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and featured over 70 local and regional artists vending their work.

According to festival director Meredith Raffel, the goal of this free event is exposure.

“We want to bring quality art to the community,” Raffel said. “We also want to expose people to different art forms.”

Raffel said that The Art Alliance was better able to achieve this as a result of the venue change. This was the second year it was held at Cottell Park instead of the Mason Municipal building.

“We love this location because we are in a park setting and the artists are on grass, plus the scenery is much more beautiful and serene,” Raffel said.

Artists weren't the only ones being showcased. There were a variety of musical performances done throughout the day by the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s String Quintet, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Brass Trio, the P’s in a Pod, the Northern Cincinnati Youth Orchestra, the Blue Night Jazz Band, and the Jefferson Bennett Band.

The festival’s success is due to the various activities available, according to local jeweler John Darlin.

“It’s very family oriented,” Darlin said. “There are arts and crafts activities, kite flying, and Cottell Park’s playground to keep children entertained while parents can browse through art booths."

Patrons were also given the opportunity to make their own art with a Doodle Board open to chalk drawings and a Community Canvas Project where people of all ages could help paint a portrait together.

Raffel said the festival wouldn't be possible without the joint effort of locals.

“We are very grateful for the support of the people coming to the event, the artists displaying their work, and especially for all the students who volunteer,” Raffel said.

Full Story:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ready, Set, GoPro

New high resolution photography gadget captures action shots

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

Thrill seekers be on alert: the GoPro camera is the next go-to gadget to chronicle your 

GoPros are small, lightweight, waterproof devices that deliver HD quality videos and pictures. 
They can be attached to a variety of mounts, depending on the purpose. 

According to Nick Woodman, the creator of the GoPro, the original purpose for the camera was 
to provide surfers with a way to film themselves catching waves until it evolved into the 
wearable tool it is today. 

Avid GoPro user and freshman Joey Wood said that he prefers his GoPro over other cameras. 

“[Before my GoPro] I used my dad’s camera, which was just a regular digital one, but I like the 
GoPro because it’s so small, yet the definition is really good,” Wood said. 

According to Wood, the mounts add to the uniqueness of the camera. There are several kinds that 
can be attached and then positioned with the GoPro to capture different shots. 

“I made my own rod mount for $4 with a broomstick, and I have a chest and head mount,” 
Wood said. “Sometimes I attach [the camera] to the bottom of my penny board or to the head of 
my lacrosse stick and get cool shots from that.” 

Sophomore Peyton Krell, another GoPro fan, said that he utilizes the mounts as well. 

“I have a helmet mount that you can put on an open vented helmet, like for biking, and I have 
sticky mounts, which can stick to most smooth surfaces,” Krell said. 

According to both Wood and Krell, the photos they post on social media using their GoPros get 
more attention versus others that they post. 

“The action of the photos stands out,” said Wood. “Plus, the resolution is so much better than 
just an iPhone camera.” 

According to the CBS News, the GoPro is currently the best-selling camera in the world, and 
Krell said that he predicts GoPro cameras will soon become popular around Mason High School. 

 “I think GoPros will definitely start trending around our school because of the variety of 
students,” Krell said. “No matter what activities they do, GoPro has a way of filming it.” 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mason Speech and Debate team holds public speaking camp

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

Speaking is a skill everyone is born with, but public speaking is a talent that takes years to refine.
Mason Speak Week, held at Mason High School from July 14-18 teaches sixth through tenth graders the delivery techniques necessary to become successful public speakers.

S&D co-captain senior Jenny Zheng said the camp has lots to offer for students attending.

“We target [Speak Week] towards younger kids who are not in high school yet,” said Zheng. “The camp teaches them every day speaking skills, specifically verbal delivery and physical presentation. It is supposed to help them in school presentations or just speaking to another person.”

 According to Zheng, there are two levels to the camp, introductory and advanced.

Zheng said that the introductory level, which is for first year participants, focuses on the core foundations of public speaking. Students practice speech writing and researching as well. After the basics are learned, they apply their knowledge through different exercises.

Students who have attended the camp before are put into the advanced level. This level allows students to zero in on a particular event or two. The event options include debate, interpretation, oratory, and limited prep.

Both levels conclude on the last day with a mock tournament where students get to showcase the skills they learned.

Zheng said that Speak Week has a large significance on the Speech and Debate team.

“This is our major fundraiser for the year,” Zheng said. “It’s our support system for the team and it carries us throughout the rest of the season. Plus, we like to help the community and teach the kids new skills.”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Reds Baseball Camp is a grand slam at MHS

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

The Cincinnati Reds are sliding into our home base with their annual baseball and softball camp from June 30-July 4 at Mason High School.

Boys and girls ages 6-14 with all levels of experience will receive training from certified instructors. The camp focuses on pitching, hitting, and catching techniques.

Second grader, Ethan Gallegos, from Indian Hill said he is enthusiastic about his camp experience so far.

"Learning how to slide and knee pinch has been my favorite part,” said Gallegos. “I’m excited to meet the Reds players on Friday. [The Cincinnati Reds] are my favorite team.”

Since most of what happens in a swing is missed by the human eye, trainers utilize video motion analysis, an interesting system. Every camper’s swing is recorded, analyzed, and shared with the player and their parents.

Scott Johnson, a parent of a camper said he has nothing but praise for the camp.

“[The trainers] sure know what they’re doing,” said Johnson. “My son has gone to this camp for two years and we brought players from his team so they could benefit too.”

On the last day, kids get to compete and use their newly acquired skills. Scores from the competitions are posted online so parents can see how their children rank up.

30 hours of instruction, a full Reds uniform, and VIP tickets to a Reds game aren’t the only thing gained by attendees. According to athletic trainer James Muncy, the camp instills a passion for the game.

 “We have a solid coaching staff whom are all very passionate,” said Muncy.  “I want players to not only work hard and learn the fundamentals, but to have fun and love the beautiful game”