The Windy City Report

By: Rachel Stewart, Jackie Thompson, and Anna Starkey

On Thursday, November 6, three juniors, Jackie Thompson, Anna Starkey, and Rachel Stewart, set out with Anna’s mom to a mystical land called Chicago, Illinois.  Our mission: college visits.  Our time frame to complete this mission: two days.  We have since returned from the mission, and can report that it was a success.  We also can report that there are a few things we learned…

Booking reservations through discount websites does not always work out as planned.

Even though the rental car agency claims to be cheaper than the rest, it will still request a $100, previously-unmentioned down payment once you go to pick up the car.  Although the four-star hotel room for $85 a night looks like a wonderful bargain on Hotwire, it, like the rental agency, will generously remove an extra $200 from your bank account upon arrival.

Plan ahead (tentatively)

It may seem like a good idea to whip up a well-planned itinerary weeks in advance, but a simple “we can’t go to bed until we figure this out” pow-wow with your travel companions one night in the hotel room will suffice. Strangely vague plans will also give you a chance to sight-see as your traveling party speeds through the streets, trying to find their destination. Eventually, you’ll find it and have discovered the big city along the way.

Enjoy the local cuisine.

As you desperately try to get from point A to point B, you may find yourselves tempted to pop into a nearby, familiar McDonalds. Resist this urge and head into the nearest hole-in-the-wall eatery you can find. Chicago has it all—indulge in a slice of deep-dish pizza, pick up some gyros on the corner, or try out chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it’s something new.

Self-guided college tours are the way to go.

We found ourselves in a pickle when there weren’t any tour groups left for us to join on Friday at Loyola.  Thankfully, you could go on a self-guided tour, in which you got the same materials as everyone else, including a high-quality folder, but walking directions were also included with descriptions of the buildings as you passed them.  We went this route, and it was quite splendid. Rachel took the role of tour guide, and we strolled around the campus at our own rate. We got to spend more time at the buildings we found more important, and we skipped some buildings that didn’t really pertain to our interests.  We also got lost once, and it forced us to actually talk to people! We never would have done that otherwise. Rachel enjoyed narrating the journey, and we’re glad we got to stop along the way to snap some pictures, or just stop and take in the breathtaking view of the lake.

If you find the right Urgent Care, you will also find breakfast.  

When you wake up in the morning and discover that your mother has scratched her cornea, chances are you will have to walk her to an urgent care.  If you are lucky, you will be directed to the 16th floor of an apartment building where tea, coffee, cough drops, chocolates, and allergy-free energy bars await you.

Even if your hotel has an indoor pool, that doesn’t mean you should swim in it.

After a tiring day of college visits, Jackie and Rachel just wanted to sleep.  Alas, there was Anna, blabbing about this indoor pool, saying we just had to go for a little bit.  Begrudgingly, we put on our suits and made our way down to the pool, Anna in a snazzy little one piece while Jackie and Rachel sported bikinis.  When we were about to step in, the moment of truth had arrived. How amazing was this indoor pool? Not amazing. At all. The water was sub par, not freezing, but definitely not a comfortable temperature as promised. We stood around for a while, not really doing much of anything but glaring at Anna. She then made a bargain that if we grabbed her towel for her, we could go back to the hotel room. We obliged.

Please obey the traffic lights.

When traveling around Chicago to see its many sights, you may just catch a glimpse of the locals jay-walking every which way and traversing the crosswalk before the little glowing man pops up on the street light . Please remember that these are trained professionals who face dangerous traffic every day and have earned their place as Xtreme, 2kewl4skewl, rule-breaking pedestrians. It is in everyone’s best interest to abide by any and all traffic signals.

5-and-a-half hours is not THAT long of a drive. 

If your mother happens to contract an infection in the scratch on her cornea, she will need to wear an eye patch. This device has the possibility to obstruct vision as well as driving abilities.  In that case, the daughter, a virgin to the highway, will have to take the wheel and the responsibility of getting her companions home safe.  Thanks to cruise control, good jams, good friends, and good times, the five-and-a-half hours were full of radical adventure.

Miss Honduras Murdered weeks before Miss Universe Pageant

By Anna Starkey

The bodies of  Maria Jose Alvarado, otherwise known as Miss Honduras, and her sister were found buried in a field near the Aguagua River in  Cablotales, Honduras six days after their disappearance on November 13, 2014.

Maria Jose Alvarado’s sister’s alleged boyfriend, Plutarco Rico, confessed to shooting both Alvarado sisters’ then burying their bodies.  Rico’s friend, Aris Maldonado, assisted Rico in the double homicide after leaving a party the night of the disappearance.  Police have arrested Rico and Maldonado for the murders.

Maria Jose Alvarado was crowned Miss Honduras in April of 2014.  Alvarado was already set to compete in the Miss Universe Pageant in London in December.  As well as being a beauty queen, Alvarado was a student that held dreams of becoming a diplomat.

Although the United Nations classifies Honduras as the country with the highest homicide rate,  the deaths of the Alvarado sisters have come as a shock to many.  Along with having the highest homicide rate, Honduras has also been called upon by the United Nations to do more to protect women.  Between 2005 and 2013, there was an increase of 263.4% in the number of violent deaths of women in the country.  The murder of Miss Honduras has now brought the alarming statistics to the attention of the Honduran government as well as the rest of the world.


Successful First Day for Fall Play

By: Mitch Hughes

Bellbrook High School’s theatre program had its first showing of this year’s fall play, “Madame’s Been Murdered; Tea Will Be Late,” on Thursday, November 20. The play adds a comical twist to a classic murder mystery format. This comical twist, directed by mastermind teacher Ms. Brown and stage crew led by Mr. Gogol, was executed brilliantly by Bellbrook’s finest student actors in front of their peers in two showings.

I happened  to be a member of the audience of the first showing Thursday morning and I was thoroughly impressed with the talent of each and every cast member. The acts were carried out seamlessly which is quite rare for the first showing of any play and a true testament to the amount of dedication these students put into this performance. Bellbrook’s fall play has traditionally been a murder mystery but this year’s show managed to change up some details to make the play much more exciting without deviating from the general structure of a classic murder mystery.

I spoke with cast member Zach Chew, who is performing for the first time as a senior, before the show. When I asked Chew what he thought would make this play special from murder mysteries that BHS has done before, he said, “I think this cast is very unique, and will deliver a performance unlike any other BHS has ever seen before.” The closeness between cast members he described would certainly contribute to a smooth show, and was clearly evident in what I witnessed. Since this was Mr. Chew’s first ever show, I asked him what he was most nervous about and he replied, “I’m most nervous about the pressure in the presence of a large audience. I think it may affect my acting. I just have to focus and I’ll be okay.” Lastly, I asked Chew what he thought, without revealing too much, the crowd might expect to see that they haven’t seen from a Bellbrook play before and he said, “My presence is a present. Kiss my cast.” I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to this, but it was obviously quite comical. This chat with Chew gave me some pretty high expectations for this year’s show and any expectation I had was exceeded. Zach’s quirky sense of humor was evident in our conversation and throughout the play.


The NFL Suspends Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson

by Jackie Thompson

On November 18, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodwell suspended the Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson, without pay for the remainder of the 2014 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Earlier in September, Peterson turned himself in east Texas after beating his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch in order to dole out discipline, according to his lawyer. The child suffered cuts and bruising to thighs, back, and one of his testicles.

“A grand jury, having indicted this case, looked at the injuries that were inflicted upon this child and determined that discipline was not reasonable,” Montgomery Country Assistant District Attorney, Phil Grant, said on September 13. Peterson was indicted on a felony charge of child abuse.

The running back’s charges came at tough time for the NFL because of the Ray Rice case, in which a video of the Baltimore Ravens’ player punching his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, was released. Rice faces an indefinite suspension from the NFL as well. The organization was heavily criticized for their very public and irresolute handling of the case.

Critics emerged again on to condemn NFL Commissioner Goodwell’s decision. According to ESPN, Peterson’s attorney Rusty Hardin declared that the decision has cost Peterson his career and that, “It wasn’t child abuse. Nobody that knows him and his children believes he ever intentionally hurts his children.”

In a letter to Peterson, Goodwell defends his decision and expresses concern that Peterson does not “fully appreciate the seriousness” of his actions. “You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,” the letter said, “When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but…defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you…may feel free to engage in similar acts in the future.”

The Minnesota Vikings claimed running back Ben Tate off waivers on same day  to fill Peterson’s void, only a day after Tate was dropped by the Cleveland Browns.

Charles Manson soon-to-be Married Man

By: Rachel Stewart

Charles Manson, convicted mass murder, is now a married man, according to the state of California.  On November 19, Afton Burton, who now goes by Star, obtained a marriage license.  They are not “officially” married yet, because there hasn’t been a wedding, but plans are in the works.

Several years ago, Star moved from Illinois to Corcoran, California, near the Corcoran State Prison, which houses the 80-year-old mass murderer, Charles Manson.  She moved to be closer to him, so she can visit him on the weekends.  In addition, she talks to him on the phone almost every day.  Star has been working on Manson’s case for years, trying to get him exonerated.  When she isn’t working on his case, she also runs many social media sites dedicated to Manson.  She first became interested in Manson after reading about ATWA, his environmental philosophy that stands for air, trees, water, and animals.

The couple has until February to have their wedding.  According to spokesperson Jeffrey Callison of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the guests can include up to ten people from outside the prison, and two guests from inside the prison and it must happen on a visiting day.  No outside photography will be allowed during the wedding.

Of their relationship, Star says, “I’m completely with him, and he’s completely with me. It’s what I was born for, you know. I don’t know what else to say.”

Model UN Delegates attend UD Conference

by Mitch Hughes

On Friday, November 14, our Model United Nations club paid a visit to the University of Dayton for their annual fall conference. The event took place from about 8:00 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon and delegates from around 20 high schools throughout the country were in attendance. The Bellbrook group represented three different countries: New Zealand, Israel, and France, who is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

I was fortunate to participate in this year’s event as a delegate from France in the second of two Security Councils. Since this was my second year, representing a country that is one of the permanent five members was an outstanding experience. The second Security Council’s goal was to resolve the issue concerning the rights of indigenous peoples in Latin America. We were able to develop and pass a resolution that provided possible procedures for countries to extract natural resources without infringing on the rights of those indigenous to the lands.

The council worked very smoothly and everybody was able to communicate their ideas effectively. It seemed as if all of the other councils has about the same level of success as we did. The UD conference is one of the two Model UN conferences that Bellbrook attends in the school year. The second takes place at Miami University in the spring.

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