The Hawk Talk The student news site of James Madison High School Thu, 12 Mar 2020 16:17:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dear Madison Thu, 12 Mar 2020 16:13:49 +0000 Dear Madison Community,

Due to the speculation of school closures in the near future due to the COVID-19 outbreak, The Hawk Talk has decided to not distribute a Print cycle in the upcoming month. Instead, we will be posting the planned articles here online. Please share our link ( with people who may not have seen this to avoid confusion regarding our distribution. 



Christina Luckett, Stephen Desmarais, Caroline Scheider-Willams

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Super Tuesday and a Recap on Biden’s Big Win Tue, 10 Mar 2020 15:47:40 +0000 Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign pulled off a major upset in the Democratic primary elections on March 3, also known as “Super Tuesday”. “Super Tuesday” is objectively the most important day for party nominees when running for president, as it typically indicates who will get a party’s nomination. This Tuesday’s election has many beginning to believe that it is a two-man race between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders for the democratic nomination.  

Why is this an upset? 

Before Super Tuesday, Sanders was leading by a three percent margin (according to Vox) over Biden. However, polling has not been conducted for as long as six months in some states like Alabama, leaving the public with an unclear picture as to which way states would ultimately sway.

What’s causing a shift? 

Two candidates, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, dropped out of the race in the days leading up to the primaries, and voiced their support for Biden’s campaign. This inevitably led to an increase in popularity for the former vice president, allowing him to claim any delegates the candidates may have received in early voting. 

But is this really an upset? 

Now this is where it starts to get a little tricky. Should we have expected this all along? Some may say the answer is yes. Why? Because of the “political noise.” The energized liberals that make up a majority of Sander’s base have proven to be extremely vocal so far. Thus creating the (possible) illusion that most left leaning voters will support Sanders. However, it seems a quiet moderate middle that supports Biden took the cake on Tuesday. 

On the other hand, a lack of hard data, as previously mentioned, has also led to a lot of speculation on who would win. Now leading to an argument that election day was fair game, and that there were no real front runners all along.

Not to mention, that the throughout all the differing platforms, the democrats have one goal in mind: to beat Donald Trump. According to the Washington Post, the record turnout “is all about defeating President Trump,” and in a New York Times poll “impeaching Trump”is overwhelmingly important to Democratic voters. This passionate push to have the president leave the White House next January could be a reason as to why many have begun to unify under Biden. After all, he is marketed as the safe-choice and associated with President Barack Obama, who has been very popular among Democrats.

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Mookie Betts Heading Out West Fri, 28 Feb 2020 18:01:00 +0000 Mookie on the move?  Yes, you heard right. Star outfielder Mookie Betts has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for young outfielder Alex Verdugo and two other prospects. On Feb. 11, 2020, the trade was officially announced. Mookie is not the only one headed to L.A., Cy Young winner David Price was also part of the package and will be on his way to L.A. to. Other names that were included in the trade to the Dodgers were Brusdar Graterol and outfielder Luke Raley.  People have been reporting that the Dodgers did, in fact, win this blockbuster deal after acquiring a lot of star players. 

“The Dodgers won this trade and have two All-Stars to help them in the playoffs,” Megan Harvey (’20) said.  “Even if Betts does not resign, they did not give up a lot and they still have other players to replace him.” 

The Dodgers will only get Mookie for this season before he hits free agency, but will he keep his mindset on the Dodger Blue if they can win a World Series?

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Five Simple Acts That Can Help Save the World Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:22:45 +0000 Our environment is in ruins, there is no secret about that, but what are we doing to help it? Unfortunately, we’re not doing much. However, if we all individually contributed with simple acts, we could make a huge difference. In this case, the key is power in numbers. As a plus, it doesn’t require that much money or effort to save the environment.

Here is a list of simple acts that help clean up our world a little bit.

1) Don’t litter

This is probably the most obvious and it’s self explanatory! If you just finished drinking a bottle of water or a can of soda, throw it in the trash. The world is not your personal trash can, and you people are the reason VSCO girls became a thing. Are you proud of yourselves?

A plastic bag is left on the ground

 2) Purchase reusable stuff

Another obvious one, but it’s still important! Get yourself a water bottle instead of using a disposable one, bring your own bag to the supermarket, don’t put yourself into the endless cycle of buying something, using it for fifteen minutes then throwing it away. Just get yourself something reusable. To add on to that, some stores like Starbucks give you a discount for bringing your own mug!

Ethan deBorja (’20) holds up his reusable container

3) Cut down on car use

The most common ways you could scale down on car use include walking, cycling, or even carpooling. However, I found a very interesting way to scale down on car use without going out of your way to do so, and the answer is online shopping. It’s easy, and most people do this already; see you’ve been helping the environment without knowing it.

Bikes outside Madison

4) Buy in bulk

It sounds a little strange but buying in bulk actually helps the environment (even though it seems completely unrelated). When you buy one big bag of rice, it uses less plastic than ten smaller ones *mind blown*. You just have to make sure that you aren’t wasting food by buying too much of it and inevitably letting it expire.

The Hawk Talk’s bulk napkin and plate supply

5) Diets

A little vague but this isn’t a way to limit the foods you eat. The point of this is to purchase some of the foods you would normally get at a supermarket, except get them from a farmers market. It doesn’t have to be everything, just switch five items (like eggs, fruit, etc.). This is not only better for you, but it also helps the environment. This is because eating locally means less energy is spent transporting food.

Ethan deBorja and Megan Harvey share an apple and muffin

These few tips are small ways to save our planet and they don’t take too much time out of your day. It’s time for us to start cleaning up after ourselves. You don’t need a big foundation or a lot of money to help our environment, you just have to start small.

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Super Bowl LIV Commercials Ranked Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:38:07 +0000 The Superbowl—the one night of the year when people enjoy watching the commercials. If you are anything like me, the entertainment value of these hysterical advertisements dominates that of the game and sometimes even the halftime show (looking at you Adam Levine). Though we can all agree that this year’s commercials collectively deserve a round of applause, it goes without saying that not all of them are created equal. In this list, I will be ranking the top ten commercials aired during Superbowl LIV based on their comedic execution, emotional appeal, and most of all, their memorability. 


10) ‘Make Space for Women’ — OLAY

  Another year, another feminist Superbowl commercial. Not saying this is a bad thing, but the idea behind it is definitely not as groundbreaking as it used to be. Nonetheless, this commercial was still pretty well done.

 9) ‘Smaht Pahk’ — Hyundai

To show off the revolutionary smart park feature on the new 2020 Hyundai Sonata, the car company put their own spin on the classic catch phrase used to mock Boston accents. While the commercial combined a funny concept with fan-favorites like Chris Evans, John Krasinski and David Ortiz, the joke started to get a bit old throughout its 80-second run time.

 8) ‘Tom Brady’s Big Announcement’ — Hulu

 Faking the retirement of one of the NFL’s most beloved quarterbacks is a surefire way to get the audience’s attention, but I think we all knew otherwise. 

 7) ‘As Good as the Original’ — Mountain Dew

As a horror movie fanatic, Mountain Dew’s parody of The Shining was pleasurable to watch. Although the commercial may not have been “as good as the original” in regards to Stanley Kubrick’s widely recognized horror film, it was certainly successful in selling the product.

 6) ‘Rick and Morty’ — Pringles

Rick and Morty. Enough said.

 5) ‘Tribute’ — Planters 

Baby Nut was absolutely adorable and the cameos were on point. Other brands had Jimmy Fallon and Tom Brady, but no one can outshine Mr. Clean and the Kool Aid Man.

 4) ‘Loretta’ — Google

The perfect amount of sweet and sappy, and it gets so much better once you learn that it was based off of a real person

 3) ‘Groundhog Day’ — Jeep

In case you forgot, this year’s big game fell on Groundhog Day, and if you are Bill Murray in a Jeep commercial, this was not good news. What better way to incorporate the two biggest days in February (besides Valentine’s Day) than with parody of the 1993 hit film Groundhog Day.

 2) ‘The Cool Ranch’ — Doritos 

Every year, Superbowl fans anticipate what novel marketing move Doritos will take next. This time around, they certainly delivered with a western-style dance off between famed rapper Lil Nas X and actor Sam Elliot. I will definitely keep Cool Ranch Doritos in mind next time I have a chip craving.     

 1) ‘Comfortable’ — Rocket Mortgage

While the Chiefs’ killer comeback and the high-energy halftime show caught the eyes of many, Jason Momoa’s performance in Rocket Mortgage’s ad did not go unnoticed. All around the country, fans roared with laughter as the actor shed his muscular body and luscious hair in an effort to be more “comfortable.” Well played Rocket Mortgage, well played.  

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Tackling Gender Roles in Football Wed, 22 Jan 2020 17:12:24 +0000 On the freshman football team of 60 people, 59 are boys. Paige Counts (’23) is the only girl in the Madison football program, and while most high school female football players are kickers, Counts is a defensive tackle. 

Along with lacrosse and other sports, Counts has been playing football for years. She played Vienna Youth Inc. football from fourth to seventh grade, took a year off in eighth grade, and then decided to continue her love for football in high school. 

Paige Counts has grown up surrounded by football. Casey and Wiley Counts, her older brothers, were teammates at Madison, and Casey Counts is currently a defensive end at Salisbury University. In addition, her father, Justin Counts, is a varsity football coach at Madison. 

“I wasn’t planning on playing this year,” Counts said. “It took a lot of motivation from my brothers and my dad.” 

Counts’ first year of football at Madison has gone well. Even though she is the only girl in the football program, Counts does not feel like she is treated differently. 

“It was weirder at first because it was just an elephant in the room,” Counts said. 

Although she feels equally respected, there are some differences between Counts and her teammates.

“I had my own locker room, and I usually wouldn’t go into the boys locker room, so they would have their pre game meetings in there, and I would just sit in the hall,” Counts said. “The things I couldn’t do didn’t affect me negatively.” 

From opposing teams, Counts faced stares and a bit of confusion when she stepped on the field. For her, the main issue she faced when playing was the other team pulling the braids that stuck out of her helmet. 

“I made a whole new group of friends through football,” Counts said. “I’ve made so many great friendships from it.”

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Top Ten Throwback Songs You Need to Add to Your Playlist before 2020 Thu, 12 Dec 2019 17:58:59 +0000 In a world full of synthetic pop and vulgar rap music, throwing a couple of classic throwback songs into your Spotify queue can be rather refreshing. But what exactly does a “throwback song” mean? Considering that the current high school student was born sometime between 2001 and  2005, this list includes what I consider to be some of the best songs to hit the charts between the years 2004 and 2012. 

  1. Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus

Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus is on this list? Who would have guessed? If you are ever searching for a catchy song that everyone will recognize, this is probably a safe bet. Despite its infectious tune and widespread notability, though, this song definitely has a tendency to be overplayed

  1. Tonight, Tonight – Hot Chelle Rae

As far as iconic throwback songs go, this one is, without a doubt, the most underrated and unmentioned of the bunch. To be fair, Hot Chelle Rae’s time in the spotlight was short-lived, as the band went on an artistic hiatus following the release of their 2014 album, “Recklessly”. However, when the band dominated 2011 with their hit single, “Tonight, Tonight”, no one could get enough of the song’s message to just leave your worries behind and have a good time. 

  1. TiK ToK – Ke$ha

Raise your hand if you also went through a hardcore Ke$ha phase when you were in second grade! Admittedly, this probably was not the most appropriate song for an eight-year-old girl to blast from her iPod Nano, but the memorable lyrics and infectious rhythm of Ke$ha’s debut single were all-too irresistible.  

  1. Starships – Nicki Minaj

Before marrying Kenneth Petty and quitting the music industry, female rap sensation Niki Manaj conquered 2012 with her hit song, Starships. Although this song has received too much attention to be considered “underrated”, I still believe that 2014’s Anaconda has a tendency to overshadow it when people think of Manaj’s creations from the early 2010’s. And while Starships may never had climbed as high on the Billboard Hot 100 as Anaconda, the song  deserves some cookie points for gaining a notable amount of popularity without being excessively raunchy. 

  1. Lazy Song – Bruno Mars

Whether you are loafing around your house like the song promotes, or you find yourself with the unfortunate obligation to be productive, just wishing that you could put on your Snuggie and watch MTV all day, Bruno Mars’s Lazy Song is always a hit. Considering the fact that it stayed on the US Billboard Hot 100 for 27 consecutive weeks following its 2011 release, I think it is safe to say that everyone loves a good song to validate their laziness.     

  1. Pocket Full of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield 

If I were to be completely and utterly bias here, this song would take the top spot. Natasha Bedingfield’s Pocket Full of Sunshine is a song that I can explicitly remember jamming to on the car radio when I was probably in Kindergarten. That being said, I realize that most people probably do not attach the same heart-warming nostalgia to this song as I do, so I will bump it down to the middle of the road.

  1. Dynamite – Taio Cruz

When I think of the early 2010s, Taio Cruz’s Dynamite is easily one of the first things that comes to mind. Considering the fact that British R&B artist Taio Cruz was able to win Top Hot 100 Song, Top Digital Song and Top Pop Song at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards with this song alone, it is no wonder why.

  1. Replay – Iyaz

The title says it all. When I’m in the throwback mood, this is a tune that I could easily replay a time or twenty. With its electric instrumentation and memorable lyrics, the title track topped the pop charts and become a poster child for late 2000s pop. I have to say, out of all the songs on this list, this one reminds me the most of a simpler time. 

  1. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson

Name a more iconic karaoke song. I will wait. Seriously, I am failing to think of a better song to belt at the top of your lungs while home alone. Furthermore, I think that Clarkson deserves more credit for inspiring other women to view the end of their inadequate romantic relationships as a relief, rather than a terrible tragedy.   

  1. Year 3000 – Jonas Brothers

With this band of brothers making their highly-anticipated comeback, I had to put this classic at the number one spot. The upbeat, carefree vibe throughout the song’s entirety represents the vivacity of the early 21st century to a tea, and by continuing to be a fan favorite, has truly stood the test of time. Also, huge props to the Jonas Brothers for making the term “flux capacitor” work so flawlessly in the lyrics. 

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Cross-Curricular Program Piloted with Freshman Students Fri, 06 Dec 2019 16:54:53 +0000 This past summer, three Madison teachers designed a brand new curriculum for a program that would approach teaching and learning in a new and non-traditional style in order to better equip their freshmen students with skills they could use beyond their high school careers. This program is called the Cross-Curricular Cohort.

The pilot program contains 90 freshman students who were selected because they all happened to be placed in classes with the teachers who designed the program; each had English 9 Honors with Emily Brown, Biology Honors with Monica Kimbrell and World History 1 with Marissa Petty. 

The Cross-Curricular Cohort aims not only to teach students content required by the Virginia Standards of Learning but also to provide them with foundational skills that will enable them to succeed in all of their high school classes and in their future.

The Cross-Curricular Cohort was created to empower our students with the skills and knowledge needed for our course and well beyond,” the Cohort teachers said. “We are so excited to try something new. Our world is changing, and we hope to continue growing with that change to support students in practical ways when they leave the building.”

The freshmen were informed of their placement in the Cross-Curricular Cohort on Aug. 27, the first black day of school. The Cohort teachers met with all 90 students in Warhawk Hall to explain the premise and day-to-day implementation of the program.

Many students were immediately intrigued by the program and thrilled to be the first class to embark on the Cohort.

“I was actually pretty excited [about being a part of the Cohort] because my sister had told me that all of the teachers were really good, so I was really excited to try it out,” Katherine Oskuie (’23) said. “And I was curious to figure out how it was going to go.”

Others were initially more doubtful but came to appreciate the program.

“When I found out I was in the Cohort, at first I was very skeptical,” Alinah Sheikh (’23) said. “I was thinking, ‘How can I get all the information for the SOL in this program?’ Later, when the teachers explained it more, I started to understand, and I really enjoy it now.”

Students in the Cohort suggested that their initial uncertainty about the program stemmed from the number of differences between the Cohort and traditional curricula. 

One unique aspect of the Cohort is a more flexible schedule for students. The students in the Cohort have the three cross-curricular subjects on black days during second, fourth, and sixth period. Students go to English, biology, and history classes, but on some days, the order of the subjects is switched to allow more communication between students and teachers which, in turn, helps students to better learn content and skills.

“[The schedule] allows us access to the same group of students for an extended time, leaving room for more in-depth, hands-on interdisciplinary experiences,” the Cohort teachers said. 

Another difference between the Cross-Curricular Cohort and the conventional freshman curriculum is that students in the Cohort aren’t assessed with traditional exams or tests. 

“Our goal is to help students master essential skills in each of our content areas through authentic assessments such as writing assignments and class projects that will allow students to really show off their learning in ways that we couldn’t see with a multiple choice test,” the Cohort teachers said. 

The Cohort curriculum is also unique because it teaches students creative and critical thinking skills, including research, observation, argumentation and reflection, across classes. For example, students typically learn argumentation skills specifically for English, specifically for biology, and specifically for history. In contrast, the Cohort curriculum aims to teach students skills for argumentation that can be used across every subject and eventually in the world beyond when students leave Madison. 

During their second period block, also known as Innovation Time, teachers check in with their students and students work on their Passion Projects, plans in which students select a topic that they are passionate about. These projects are eventually implemented around the community. 

“I love my Passion Project,” Sheikh said. “I am partnering up with two friends, and we are making a website that shows healthy desserts that people can make. We are reviewing desserts as well. [Our project] is to help obesity in the community. So we take a passion (baking), and then we take a problem (growing obesity rates) and we try to find a solution to that. I think it is so cool that we get to do something for a bigger purpose!”

Despite the Cohort’s unconventional take on the freshman curriculum, students and teachers are excited for what it has to offer to Madison. The Cohort teachers are embracing this new style of learning as the program takes action in its first year and hope to possibly expand the Cohort to other areas of the school in future years.

“Our goal is to create a similar program for students at other grade levels but our focus right now is on making this year the best we can,” the Cohort teachers said. “We will continue to seek feedback from students, parents and staff in order to reflect and improve so we can look to expand in the future.”                                                                      

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Why We Should Warm Up to the 4.0 Scale Wed, 04 Dec 2019 18:14:45 +0000 Madison has taken a grand step forward in regards to its grading scale, as I’m sure most students have noticed. In the hopes of making grading more equitable for students, Madison has slowly been replacing the old 100-point grading scale with a new 4.0 grading scale. The transition is supposed to be fully implemented by the start of the 2020-21 school year, but for now all we have is a taste of what the future will be like. The future, to me at least, is looking pretty good.

The 4.0 grading scale can only improve people’s grades. This scale makes individual grades the highest they can possibly be while still falling into the originally assigned letter grade. In other words, if you got a 93% on a test, the 4.0 grading scale looks at it and says, “What’s this? I’ve never heard of a 93%” and *poof* it’s a 100%.  So if you got an 87% on an assignment, which is a B+, the 4.0 scale changes it to a 3.3, the equivalent of an 89%.

However, many people actually believe that the 100-point scale is preferable, especially when it comes to accuracy and simplicity. In terms of accuracy, it lets you see exactly where you are without the cushion of the 4.0 scale. As said earlier, the 4.0 grading scale helps your grade, but it won’t give you accurate feedback. In terms of simplicity, looking at the 100 point scale makes it easier for you to understand exactly where you are and what you need to do to improve your grades. This is especially true since most of us are used to the 100 point grading scale.

In the end, though, your opinion doesn’t really matter. The transition to this system has already begun, and it’s official that the whole school will be using it by the next school year. However, if any reader is really (and I stress really) emotionally invested in this issue they can take it up with the school board. For now, I think that we should get used to the system and learn to love it since we will probably be using it for a while.

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Veg Club Plans to Raise Awareness this School Year Fri, 01 Nov 2019 16:02:27 +0000 Living a plant based lifestyle, whether it be vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian, has numerous benefits. Cutting meat out of your diet has been connected to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease. It is also environmentally beneficial, because the meat and dairy industries are some of today’s highest contributors to greenhouse gases. By adopting a plant based lifestyle, you can learn more about nutrition, live a healthier lifestyle, and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Veg Club, Madisons vegan/vegetarian association was first introduced in the 2018-19 school year by two seniors, with the intention of creating a safe space for the plant based community. Current President of the Veg Club Ava Bagherian(‘20) carries on their legacy with her commitment to living and educating others about plant based lifestyles.  

The club emphasizes living a plant-based lifestyle to “the best of your abilities.” Members say that It is understandable if you need meat products to stay healthy, no one should endanger their health to be vegan. “I want to make the vegan community a safe space,” Bagherian said. 

Bagherian also hopes to work against the stereotypes about vegans. “There’s a stigma that all vegans are organic hippies who say ‘meat is murder’ and force their beliefs on others,” she said. Bagherian believes that many people frame vegans into a stereotype, but not all people with a vegan lifestyle fall into the category of rich and white. 

Initiatives of Veg Club include inner workings, such as presentations and vegan potlucks, as well as outreaches, ranging from volunteering at local animal shelters to unofficial environmental clean up projects. In addition, Veg Club has plans to join forces SEA Club, working together for a cleaner earth. “We are talking to local shelters and community organizations, we hope to raise awareness and make an impact,” Bagherian said. 

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