Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Whether a wide smile grows on a reader’s face from the tune of a mockingjay or hearts skip a beat every time green sparks fly out of a wand, Young Adult (YA) series have captured both the minds and the spirits of teenagers across the globe.

While both of these references have come from the ever-popular series “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter,” these bestsellers are only some of the novels with movie adaptations to match.

A new series, titled “Divergent,” joins this family on March 31. With a plot about a young female heroine in a dystopian society fighting against an oppressive government in command, it’s inevitable that media will compare this up-and-coming movie adaptation to its predecessor, “The Hunger Games.”

This comparison, though, is problematic.

When media takes a series and relates it to the last successful one before it, it diminishes the importance of both. The willpower and devotion that I found commendable in “The Hunger Games” protagonist Katniss was not at all what I found in Tris, the protagonist of “Divergent.”

Instead, I found a girl with similar pressures of my own: having to choose between following her parents’ footsteps or doing something new on her own. Therefore, when magazines and articles alike link both series as knock-off versions of each other, I am both appalled and slightly insulted.

However, this is not the first time the media made comparisons between popular YA series. “The Hunger Games,” despite its brooding topics of murder and poverty, was compared to “Twilight” simply because both included a love triangle.

Senior Ryan Heflin uncovers problems in this stating, “[Comparing the series] makes sense from a surface level viewpoint.  They are all big young adult series that exploded in popularity.  However … comparing something like ‘The Hunger Games’ to a series like ‘Twilight’ is ridiculous because …it could also discourage someone who didn’t enjoy ‘Twilight’ from reading the ‘Hunger Games’, and missing out on a series they might enjoy.”

On the other hand, junior Allison Williams feels that despite the problems aforementioned, the media does justice to the series it portrays.

“[YA series are] a hard thing to market, because your target audience is so varied, but I think [the media does] a fairly good job of trying to make these stories appeal to a variety of people,” Williams said.

While this may be the case, the media’s trivialization of the plots of these bestsellers also trivializes the people who hold these series dear to their hearts. As someone who grew up with the “Harry Potter” series, I can safely say that a certain amount of magic resonates deep within me.

“Harry Potter” gave me the stride within my steps and taught me how to love those hardest to love. To belittle “Harry Potter” would be to belittle the newfound self-confidence I had built and the courage I finally found within myself.

But it isn’t just the individual that can be affected by YA fiction; whole communities can be built simply over the love of reading a book that each person can identify with.

English teacher Christi Littell shares the same opinion regarding Harry Potter and the unity it built.

“Harry came of age as my children were coming of age, [as well] as [when] current DGS students were coming of age…there was something electric about a whole community of readers waiting for new books to come out,” Littell said.

Through generations of students, the enchantment that each series carries will never diminish. Therefore, it is imperative that each fanbase and series be treated with the same respect and caliber to the one before.

On March 31 when you grab your popcorn and drink, be sure to sit with open eyes and an open heart understanding that the movie that unfolds before you carries legions of fans who find identity in something that is simply regarded by media as the “next ‘Hunger Games’.”

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By Jessica Rouzan, Emma Venetis, and Kayla Dickman

As the cold weather forces students to stay inside and award show season begins, movies are once again on the forefront of many peoples’ minds. People begin to see the power of movies, how easily they can engage people, and how strong of an impact they can have.

With countless popular films taking place in high school settings, teens are exposed to an idea of high school before they have entered the walls of DGS. Yet to some, the films seem to be getting it wrong. They often portray high school in a way much different from reality, giving many students unrealistic expectations of what their experience at DGS will be like.

Social studies teacher Kristyn Campos explained her own frustrations with the high school life that movies portray.

“My biggest pet peeve about movies and high school is the way they portray the teachers. We are not here to be lazy, we are not stupid, and we have no intention of being sex symbols. There is great harm in this portrayal because millions of members of society see these movies and they label teachers negatively,” Campos said.

Junior Tami Beecroft explained that actually experiencing high school life was a relief for her.

“I think somewhere in the back of my mind I kind of thought it might be like the movies, but I was happily surprised to discover that high school is nothing like them,” Beecroft said.


From Troy and Gabriella in “High School Musical,” to Sam and Austin in “A Cinderella Story,” it can be seen that movies about high school tend to put a lot of focus on relationships. These are filled with movie magic, showing young teens that fall in love and have long-lasting relationships throughout high school.

Beecroft criticizes these movies for giving potentially false expectations to teens.

“Those movies give very false expectations of high school relationships…They make it seem like you’re going to meet “the one” in high school, and that’s not necessarily true,” Beecroft said.

Senior Nick King, who is in a relationship, explained that though he doesn’t necessarily believe Hollywood’s typical portrayal of the high school romance is true, there are aspects of high school relationships that are very worthwhile.

As far as the idea of meeting “the one” goes, King explained “[he’s] fifty-fifty on that.”

“You’re around the same people for four years, so I can agree that it’s possible to meet ‘the one’ in high school, but college is much more diverse and you have a better chance of meeting people you never thought existed before,” King said.

King believes that real life relationships are more fulfilling and more dynamic than movie ones.

“It fluctuates from movie to movie but I would say [relationship stereotypes] are typically inaccurate,” King said. “I would pick real life relationships any day [because] you’re able to feel the love towards that person, and you can feel the love they’re giving back.”


In addition to the typical, romantic love story, a common theme in movies like “High School Musical,” “Bring it On” and “Remember the Titans” is the glorification of sports. The idea of teams and the perception of high school athletes are portrayed in many ways-ways that many believe are inaccurate.

Senior Le’Devin Smith, a member of the DGS Varsity football team, found this in the movie “Remember the Titans.” He was lead to believe that high school football  would be the end-all be-all of the high school experience.

“[My] expectations were that the stands were going to be filled, that a lot of people were going to be there [and] the best players [were going to] get the girls,” Smith said.

Smith explained that movies make a big deal about high school football, and that the players are treated like celebrities. Though he said there are some elements of that, overall the movies build it up to be a lot different than how it actually turns out.

“As a kid you look forward to that until you actually realize that it doesn’t really happen,” Smith said.

King, a member of the DGS Varsity soccer team, was similarly misled about high school athletics.

“When I first joined the soccer team, I thought everyone was going to be serious [and] ready to win,” King said. “But I soon found out that seriousness was their last priority.”

“The stereotypes of football players are dumb jocks that just get all of the cheerleaders,” Smith said. “That’s not it at all.”

Smith explained that the stereotypes surrounding football players as the bullies in high school doesn’t match the experience he has had as a DGS athlete.

“[At DGS] we look up to our athletes more,” Smith said. “Our athletes are more caring…people want to be around football players more than [they want to] avoid them.”

As far as the stereotype of the dumb jock goes, King said “there are some athletes who are struggling in the classroom, yet the number of those who are intelligent offsets that number.”

Though King believes the dumb jock stereotype is inaccurate, he does point out that some movie characterization can be seen in reality.

“I believe that the stereotypes are false in the intelligence department but they are true in the popular section,” King said. “I wouldn’t consider myself popular but there [are] a bunch of athletes who are well recognized throughout the school.”

Ultimately Smith pointed out that the message behind football at DGS is different from the one portrayed in movies.

The cafeteria tends to be a symbol of social status in high school films.
Photo by Jessica Rouzan

“Football…teaches you…that you have to put in hard work if you want to be successful,” Smith said.


In many movies about high school, there are the inevitable scenes that focus on bullying. In these movies there are many different types of bullying, the popular against the nerd, the cliquey girls against every other girl in that school.

Senior Erin Madden believes that the bullying portrayed in these Hollywood movies is not at all what is seen in school.

“I thought [bullying] would be much more prevalent and obvious,” Madden said. “But in reality it isn’t that obvious, and you don’t see kids getting pushed into lockers or having their lunches stolen. This is definitely not to say that there isn’t bullying that takes place, because there is. It just isn’t the way it’s portrayed in movies where there is one specific bully and petty problems.”

Campos believes that these bullying scenes in typical high school movies indirectly tell, not only students, but everyone that it is OK to act this way.

“I do think movies show that teens tend to create cliques, as well as label and stereotype each other,” Campos said. “I don’t think this behavior is specific to high school, people in the corporate world also have this issue. I think it shows movie viewers that it is OK to label and stereotype, which it isn’t,” Campos said.

However, when it comes to the Hollywood version of high school cliques, King explained that he never really thought of it as an expected way to behave in high school.

“Hollywood tries making movies to follow a new character that no one has ever thought existed before and they try and see the world through [that character’s] eyes,” King said.

With stereotypes running rampant in movies, it is no surprise that movies portray the lunchroom scene as a symbol of social status. According to Hollywood, where you sit determines your popularity.

Madden, however, entered DGS disregarding Hollywood’s intimidating portrayal.

“I thought it would be pretty similar to how it really is,” Madden said. “Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves and their table.”

Besides the worries about cliques and bullies, King was altogether most alarmed by the mad dash in the lunchroom.

“I thought that the lunch room was going to be less hectic than what it is,” King said. “I thought only a few people would be buying a lunch not half the lunchroom.”


Campos believes that many Hollywood movies actually spend little time on what is taught in the classrooms, and more time on what is happening in the hallways.

“Looking at these movies that show the high school experience, very few focus on grades or academics preparing your for the future, a sad thought when that is what we are really here to do,” Campos said.  ”High school is about a balance of developing relationships and knowledge, which these movies miss.”

Although school work is not really a large part of high school movies, Madden had initially thought that all high school level classes would have been “way harder than they really are.”

“It can be a lot of work, but the material itself isn’t terribly difficult,” Madden said.

King similarly assumed that the high school work-load wouldn’t be as stressful as it was. Once freshman year came around, he put a lot of value on his education.

“I had put a high standard on academics since freshman year because I look at academics as a way of forming an individual,” King said. “If they can hold a job, or extracurricular activity, or even a hobby and still maintain a great GPA, that would say a lot of that person and that’s what I’m striving to do.”

Madden concluded that the Hollywood glamour of high school movies is an attempt to gain viewers.

“I think [Hollywood portrays] this ideal high school setting because if they portrayed the real thing, it wouldn’t have as much appeal to kids,” Madden said.

King ultimately felt that Hollywood’s portrayal has not taken hold of his own experience.

“I don’t believe these expectations played a role in making the norms of [high school life],” King said. “People go to see movies to escape reality, not be brought back into it.”

Although King does not believe that Hollywood portrays the real scene of high school, he agrees that he is not disappointed with his high school career.

“The single expectation [of high school] that didn’t get fulfilled was the random singing and dancing as depicted in ‘High School Musical,’” King said.

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Michaela Burton, a sophomore gymnast who competes at national levels, leaps across the balance beam.

Like many energetic young kids, sophomore Michaela Burton got involved with sports because her parents wanted her to release some of her energy within. This decision turned out to be an advantageous one, as Burton is still highly involved in gymnastics today. She has been competing for the past 11 years, and is currently training in level 10, hoping to qualify for state, regionals and nationals.

In gymnastics, there are levels three through 10. Three through six are compulsory levels, where everyone competes the same routines. Levels seven through 10 are optionals, meaning gymnasts can make their own routines and compete their own skills. Burton is in the highest level, level 10.

Currently, Burton is training at Legacy Elite Gymnastics in Carol Stream with her two coaches Jiani Wu and Yuejiu Li. She has been with them for about seven years through three different gymnastics clubs. Wu and Li both competed in the Olympics for China, and they are role models for Burton.

“[Wu and Li] are just really inspiring,” Burton said. “Sometimes it’s hard just being in the gym, but they’re there to pick [me] up. I don’t know if I could go anywhere else because I’ve been with them for so long.”

As well as her coaches, Burton has been inspired by Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas.

“[Douglas] has such an amazing story and never quits even when the odds were against her,” Burton said.

While many students have difficulty managing time, Burton has even more on her plate. Because of her dedication to gymnastics, she trains between four-five hours a day, six days a week. Although “people are always really shocked” about the amount of time she spends training, Burton has learned to manage both her gymnastics and her schoolwork.

“It is a huge commitment…It’s hard to balance training with school, but I’ve been doing it for so long that I don’t mind anymore,” Burton said. “Usually I do homework in the car [on the way to or from practice] or when I get home from practice.”

Burton’s hard work and countless hours in the gym have led her to success. In 2011, she competed in level nine, and was both the state and regional champion and placed second at nationals. After moving up to level 10, Burton placed sixth all around at nationals. In 2013, at level 10, she got first place in the National Invitation Tournament championship.

In addition to her accomplishments in competitions, Burton has also received a full ride scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Although going to the Olympics had been a goal for her, receiving her scholarship has shifted her plans.

“I’m just focusing on level 10 right now, but you never know what could happen in a couple of years,” Burton said.

After completing college, she plans to become a physical therapist.

While gymnastics has offered her many rewards, like any sport, there can be rough days.

“It’s just one of those days where you’re either physically or mentally tired…it’s just so hard to get up after you keep falling so many times,” Burton said. “But once you get past those [days], it just makes everything so much easier.”

In addition to the accomplishment of overcoming obstacles, gymnastics allows Burton a way to express herself, specifically on her favorite events, balance beam and floor.

Throughout her occasional exhaustion, sporadic discouragement, and crazy schedule, Burton absolutely loves her sport, and feels that it is a huge part of her.

“I’ve been doing it for so long that I can’t even imagine my life without it,” Burton said.

“My favorite thing about gymnastics is that feeling you get when all your hard work pays off and you remember why you love the sport.”

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During the winter months in the Chicagoland area, the temperatures regularly drop to below zero degrees making it extremely frigid outside. During the Polar Vortex that hit the Midwest in January 2014, temperatures went down to -20 degrees and it felt as if it was -50 degrees with windchill. Because of this, many homeless people tried to find a warm and safe place to sleep during the nights to prevent getting frostbite or hypothermia from being outside all night.

Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) is an organization dedicated to helping the homeless during these dangerously cold months. The organization also helps them to find a place to live and a job to assist them into becoming more self-reliant. According to, the official website of PADS, it is “the journey from dependency to self-sufficiency.”

About 100 people from the Downers Grove area help with the organization and its needs. The homeless come in and are able to get food and a warm place to sleep the night, and then they leave the area once morning comes.

Working through her church, junior Emily Binder helps the organization by setting up the sleeping areas and cleaning up after people have left.

Binder feels more people should volunteer because “it’s a great organization and helps many people.”

The sleeping pads are housed in public places such as the Downers Grove public library and church gyms; this way, the organization and its volunteers can help many people.

Sophomore Kyle Hall volunteers through his church as well and sees the experience as an eye opener regarding how different people’s lives are.

“I knew before that there were homeless people around and people that were in need of desperate help, but now I see it more clearly than I did before,” Hall said.

Working to make peoples’ lives better is a small aspect to many people, but to the people you are helping, it could be everything to them. A simple gesture such as a warm blanket or a sandwich could make someone’s entire week better.

Snow bank

Many students, attempt to deal with the frigid temperatures and snowy conditions traveling to and from school.
Photo by Emily Lorenz

“We are all very fortunate to be able to go to school and have a house to call [our] own,” Binder said. “This [organization] shows that not everyone is so lucky and we shouldn’t take what we have for granted.”

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Popular magazines embed an image of what is “cool,” and what is acceptable in society amongst teens nowadays, and because of this each teenager no longer knows the concept of individualism.
Every kid wants to be somebody and everyone wants to feel like they belong. However, in modern days, every kid just wants to be like everyone else. As I walk through the halls of school I see the same look on numerous different kids throughout the school.
I think it’s fantastic when teens fit into the jigsaw puzzle of high school, but all I see is duplicates. For example the “hipster” fad has become the next big thing, and the mere fact that kids identify him or herself as anything more than themselves is beyond me.
According to, the top definition of a hipster says it is “a subculture of men and women…that value independent thinking…and are often to be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is to me it seems teens are holding onto a false vision to make them “fit in” and “be happy,” when in reality they just can’t be who they are.
Labels need to cease to exist.
Who cares if you identify yourself as a hipster, or as anything other than a human being? Typically, I haven’t found myself loathing labels as much as I do the hipster tag. I know from personal experience that I get thrown under that category simply because I wear thick rimmed glasses and winged eyeliner. At one point, I used to find myself purposely drifting from the things I enjoy simply because it would label under the category of a “hipster.”
I think it’s absolutely absurd and completely unnecessary. And what makes me cringe even more is that teens need this form of labeling in their society because to them, that is how they fit in and feel important. No one can be who he or she is anymore without it being a majority situation.
People consider themselves different, but in real life they are no different from the next kid considering him or herself “different” in this world filled with labels.
I’m over the childlike labels each kid sets on them to feel like they actually fit in. If you like vintage style and rocking thick rimmed glasses, but also like glimmering Ugg boots, pick both and don’t worry about what you’ll be labeled as because none of that matters in the real world.
Some puzzles don’t need to be completed, so stop trying to make the pieces fit.
Be you and forget what anyone else categorizes you as. Everyone is able to be who they are, and be an individual.

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Serving as Associate Principal of Operations and Technology for the past nine years, Edward Schwartz has been selected by District 99 to serve as the new principal beginning for the 2014-2015 school year. He is succeeding Steve Bild, who is retiring after serving six years as principal.

Taking about six weeks to do multiple interviews and fill out application materials, Schwartz revealed that he was relieved when he discovered he was chosen for the position.

“Because [applying for the position] was such a long process there was a certain level of relief, [but] I was obviously excited because [I’ll be able] to stay here and work with all of [the students],” Schwartz said.

Serving on the student committee to give input as to whom should be the new principal, senior Jacob Amiri believes that Schwartz’s knowledge of District 99 differentiated him during interviews and that he will bring positive changes to the school.

“His experience and familiarity with the district immediately set him apart from other candidates from the start, but even without that background, I think he would have been chosen based on his positive attitude and leadership skills,” Amiri said.

Amiri explained that Schwartz appeared very committed to the students and DGS.

“He seemed very dedicated to improving student involvement in the DGS community and also student involvement in decision making…I think that [he] will make a lot of positive changes to the school,” Amiri said.

Junior Anne Rock was also a part of the committee, and she believes that ultimately Schwartz’s relationships and personality allowed him to rise above others in the interview process in order to be chosen for the position.

“Mr. Schwartz already has a relationship with the students and staff here; [therefore], he knows what’s good and bad about DGS and has plans to fix the problems,” Rock said. “[He] cares a lot about the input of his students, and I really hope that it continues.”

Schwartz has always been very interactive with the students and declares that his new role as principal will not stop him from listening to students and involving himself in school events and activities.

“[My new position] won’t change being involved one bit; if anything, I’m hoping it gives me a better opportunity to meet more students,” Schwartz said. “My favorite part about working in school is hanging out with the kids, so if I didn’t have that opportunity, I’m not sure I would’ve been interested in the job.”

Aside from student interaction, Bild believes that selecting Schwartz as principal was a smart choice because they both have similar values and beliefs.

“We [both] see the role of principal as leader, not newsmaker. We believe that the job of principal is to support all the work of the school in making students successful,” Bild said. “Choosing Mr. Schwartz as principal was a fantastic decision [because] he is a great man, [and] I know that he “bleeds blue” when it comes to doing everything in his power to show DGS in the best light and lead this school, its students and teachers to be their best every day.”

Thrilled to be starting the new school year as principal, Schwartz is eager to build on the fine aspects DGS has to offer and to maximize the high school experience for students.

“This is a great place and it’s your school, so it’s important that we make sure the four years you are here [are] worthwhile,” Schwartz said. “As long as we keep that as our focus, I think we’ll be doing OK.”


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Open Mic Poetry Cafe offers free cake for performers and audience members at every meeting. Photo by Eleni Eisenhart
Open Mic Poetry Cafe offers free cake for performers and audience members at every meeting.Photo by Eleni Eisenhart

Open Mic Poetry Cafe offers free cake for performers and audience members at every meeting.
Photo by Eleni Eisenhart

Senior Joey Saponara takes her place on the stage; the lights are dimmed as she waits for the audience to settle down. She takes one last breath before lunging into her story, her poem.

Open Mic Poetry Cafe, located in D180 every fourth Wednesday of the month after school, has attracted many students due to its open and accepting environment: a place for students to perform.

With their well-known announcements of free cake, Open Mic Poetry Cafe  is described as “a way to give people a voice,…develop community and a safe place to express yourself,” Social Worker and sponsor of the Open Mic Poetry Cafe Jenneine Rowley said.

Freshman Claire Wagner, a regular attendee at the Open Mic Poetry Cafe, finds performing in front of an audience to be “a bit nerve-racking but [still]…fun.”

Open Mic Poetry Cafe welcomes one and all to come, be it to perform or simply watch fellow students.

“Even if…you don’t want to perform, there are a lot of people that come all the time to listen; one thing I really appreciate is how generous the audience is with their acceptance,” Rowley said. “I’m really proud of our audience for being so encouraging.”

Open Mic Poetry Cafe offers a wide variety of talents, from poetry, to singing, rapping and light shows. The variety in talent creates an accommodating environment, where people are welcome to come and go as they please, but they are encouraged to stay the whole time.

“I think that adds to the low stress environment,” Rowley said. “The only…downside to that is…you would like everybody to stay…not just perform and leave…By and large, I think students have made it work…, and we encourage them to come for as long as they possibly can.”

Over the years of partaking in both the Open Mic Poetry Cafe as well as Calliope, the literary magazine at DGS, Rowley has found that students can offer a wide assortment of talent.

“We have some students that you would kind of peg them one way if you were trying to…describe them and then something totally surprising comes out of them,” Rowley said. “I think that really kind of gets the audience engaged too and curious as like ‘oh, I never saw that coming.’”

Saponara agrees, stating that “you can never judge a book by its cover [and] there is so much to connect in the world. We need to stop judging and start loving.”

Wagner’s “public speaking skills” are one of the many things she has learned through partaking in the Open Mic Poetry Cafe, continuing to attend for the “performances and food.”

“[Open Mic Poetry Cafe is] really, really fun… At the end of the year, we do…our Calliope awards at the Open Mic [Poetry Cafe], and we invite people whose works have been published or printed in the [Calliope]. A lot of seniors go, ‘I don’t know why I didn’t come to this earlier; this is really fun,’” Rowley said.

Saponara draws near to the end of her story, one last sentence, word, done. The sound of applause echoes over the room as she takes her seat. She sums her experience stating, “[Open Mic Poetry Cafe is] truly my home.”