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POSTED: March 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Stephen Hundley/

The history class on their trip.

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Up close and personal with one Literary Team member

This past weekend the RHHS Literary Team, one of the lesser known members of Richmond Hill’s competitive groups, traveled all the way to Cross Creek High in the Augusta area to compete in several literary events with eleven other schools from our region, each school bringing one boy and one girl for each event. The events ranged from essay writing, which surprisingly is the only writing event that literary teams partake in, to public speaking, to singing. While all Richmond Hill representatives showed valiant effort only three Wildcats placed. Megan Svorcek and I came in fourth in girls and boys essay and Evan Thompson took the region champion’s medal home for extemporaneous speaking. I was able to speak with Evan about his recent triumph in Augusta.

Q: What kind of public speaking experience did you have going into this event?

A: Relatively little, I think the most public speaking experience I have is ninth grade speech class. But other than that it’s just random speaking events, such as boy scouts, giving speeches in front of the troop, and basically stuff like that.

Q: What is extemporaneous speaking?

A: You’re given a choice between three randomly selected topics. You choose the one that you feel the most comfortable with, that you know the most about. Then you have thirty minutes to prepare a speech that you give that has to be under seven minutes, and you're graded based on the criteria of what you spoke on, how well you understood it, how you delivered the speech, and how well you described what you were supposed to be speaking on.

Q: What was your topic?

A: What separated the best high schools from the rest of the pack?

Q: Did you expect to win?

A: When I got there I was the only one not dressed up in a suit and tie or some type of fancy clothing, and they had large boxes of material to prepare with so I was feeling kind of intimidated. I didn’t really expect to win, these people seemed to be a lot more prepared than me. But after I listened to a couple of them speak, I did feel like I had a better chance at winning.

Q: What would you say was the most influential factor in helping you develop into such an effective speaker?

A: I’d probably go back to the 9th grade speech class. It’s just probably the one thing that got me the most ready for this.

Q: After winning at the regional level, will you be going to state?

A: Unfortunately state is this weekend, and I’m leaving for Canada on Thursday so I’m not going to be able to go, but I was supposed to.

Q: What is some advice you would give to someone who is maybe not the best speaker?

A: Practice speaking in front of audiences, even if it’s just your friends. Practice speaking without likes, um’s, uh’s. Things that make you look less formal. Just practice overall.

- by Stephen Hundley

Students experience hands-on approach in Military History class

RHHS students got the chance to literally reach out and touch what they were learning about when teacher Russ Carpenter took his Military History class to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum and Hunter Army Airfield.

During the trip, students had the opportunity to not only see such awesome spectacles of military might and ingenuity such as Apache and Chinook helicopters, but were also able to ask questions to people who have an immense amount of knowledge on the subject. I questioned Mr. Carpenter to find out more about this interesting expedition and his reasoning behind it.

Q: Where will you and your students be going?

A: We’re going first to the Mighty Eighth Museum and then we are going over to Hunter, where we will see an Apache helicopter, a Chinook helicopter, and eat in the mess hall! I understand they have T-bones and the mess hall costs us all of $3.86 cents apiece. One of my student’s father works there, on Hunter, and has arranged this.

Q: Why are you going?

A: Well obviously the Mighty Eighth is a no-brainer as you're studying World War II, and the contributions that the Mighty Eighth Air Force made in the bombing of Germany. And then the Chinook and the Apache has obviously seen action in the Persian Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan which we will also study during the course.

Q: How does this trip relate to what they have been learning recently?

A: Once again, war. Military History is basically a study of modern war, World War II and up is part of the course. These were obviously some of the weapons used in the major battles, in everything from World War II to the current war on terror.

Q: Do you have any other trips planned?

A: We would like to go to the Fort Stewart Military Museum, as well as see a Bradley Fighting Vehicle over there and a tank. And maybe a tank simulator, that’s up in the air right now.

Q: I’ve never been on any field trips in high school, why do we do so few here?

A: Some of my seniors said the same thing. I don’t know why we do so few. It’s an excellent learning opportunity, especially for a course like this. Probably because there are such strict parameters teachers have to cover set up by the state. Teachers just flat out don’t have a day to take away from their class to go on a field trip. So I think it’s only when it really lends itself to your curriculum where you can justify a field trip.

-by Stephen Hundley

Debate continues for evolution

The issue of teaching the theory of evolution in our schools is one of great and diverse interest.

It has been the subject of countless arguments ranging in setting from Supreme Court hearings to innumerable dinner tables across America. Why is this such a big deal to America? Because we care about what our kids believe, and kids generally believe what they’re being taught in the classroom.

The way our government is operated, holding strong to the ideals of the constitution, has resulted in more or less the shutting down of constant attempts by creationists to get their views into the textbooks. After doing some independent research on Supreme Court decisions within the past 27 years, it became pretty apparent that creationism is on the ropes. The case kept reappearing, sometimes phrased differently, but no matter how the anti-evolution activists dressed up their views the Supreme Court saw them to be in violation of the first amendment to the constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

My personal opinion is much aligned with that of my peers, Emerson Stephens and Julie Finnell, in that evolution is a well known, and widely accepted, scientific theory. I don’t feel that it is all that different from Einstein’s theory of relativity or the atomic theory. While everyone may not be able to completely explain these things, or even agree with them at all, they are pieces of modern science, just as is the theory of evolution.

Although I would like to have some kind of disclaimer read by the instructor before the teaching of the theory of evolution that states it is just that, a theory, the 1999 Supreme Court found this to be unconstitutional in Freiler v. Tangipahoa. So I guess that scrubs that idea. While the last time the evolution/creationism issue appeared in the Supreme Court was 2001, LeVake v. Independent School District, I have no doubt that it will appear again.

As long as people have beliefs they will want to voice those beliefs, and more pertinently, have those views voiced to their children. No, something tells me that this dramatic and extremely controversial issue is far from settled.

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