“Your boss or another type of an authority figure at work needs your help with a big problem, and you may have to put a planned family event on hold for a few days to deal with it. The good news is that this interruption in your normally scheduled programming of life will create more opportunity than frustration. Explaining that to disappointed family members might help them accept the change in plans. This is your time to shine brightly.” 11/17/16 Horoscope from astrology.com (http://www.astrology.com/horoscope/daily/leo.html)

Unlike most people, I’m actually a believer in horoscopes. Horoscopes do not determine fate (they’re usually extremely broad), but they’re something fun which people can look to break up everyday life.

In 7th grade, I read a novel called Aries Rising, written by Bonnie Hill. In the midst of my book reading career, I didn’t know much about astrology, but I  picked up the book at the annual Scholastic Book Fair. After reading it, I became enticed in astrology and horoscopes.

I was born on August 5, which means I’m considered a Leo. Here are common attributes of a Leo.

Leo Strengths:

– Confident (me, on a good day)
– Ambitious (me)
– Generous (I hope so)
– Loyal (me)
– Encouraging (me)

Leo Weaknesses:

– Pretentious
– Domineering (I like to think I came out of my bossy years with childhood)
– Melodramatic
– Stubborn (ME)

I know that astrology isn’t 100% accurate, but at the same time, it gives me another reason to take a Buzzfeed quiz to find out Where I Should Travel Next Based on My Zodiac Sign  or What Candy I Am Based On My Zodiac Sign .







Published: October 21, 2016.

Heroin addicts are dying to get their fix. Literally, they are dying.

It starts with shallow breathing, confusion, loss of consciousness. Respiration stops, the lungs stop, the heart stops, then death.

In search of that next euphoric high, heroin users have encountered something they didn’t bargain for when they inject themselves with heroin laced with carfentanil, a synthetic opioid approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, a strong opioid pain medication. Recently, drug dealers have been cutting heroin and lacing it with carfentanil. Carfentanil – often used to tranquilize large animals such as elephants – is lethal to humans, said Mason Police Lieutenant Jeff Burson.

“It’s everywhere,” Buron said. “It seems to be like the drug of choice right now, and hopefully we will get away from it. It’s a big issue.”

Burson said carfentanil gives the same type of effect as heroin, but is incredibly potent and cheaper to buy.

“It’s only been here for a very short amount of time, but the problem is that it’s thousands of times more potent than heroin,” Burson said. “If a user uses the same amount that they would in heroin, then it’s going to shut down the body. Respiration stops, lungs stop, and then once the lungs stop, the heart stops and it causes death.”

Cincinnati Police Department Public Information Officer Lieutenant Steve Saunders said the introduction of fentanyl and carfentanil has been a fairly new phenomenon to the Cincinnati area and the surrounding suburbs.

“I think drugs being an inner city thing may be more of a myth, especially when it comes to heroin or opioid addiction,” Saunders said. “A lot of people seem to get hooked on opioids through prescription drug medications. When those (prescription medications) are no longer available, people turned to other forms like heroin.”

Death by overdose

Doyle Burke, Chief Investigator for the Warren County Coroner and Medical Examiner, said up until 2015, heroin deaths lagged far behind prescription drug deaths and cocaine deaths. Now with carfentanil added to the mix, Burke said more heroin and carfentanil deaths are expected.

“People are used to taking heroin with a modest degree of fentanyl in it, but then they get (carfentanil) and it’s much more deadly,” Burke said. “We have not seen that much carfentanil in Warren County; we have two cases that are pending. What occurs is when there’s an overdose death like this, we typically bring them in for autopsy – that initially takes a couple hours. But the toxicology report is what is of interest here. That can take eight weeks, sometimes even longer. We have had 42 confirmed overdose deaths this year. By the time we get the toxicology report back on what we have in the lab timeline, we will probably have about 56, which is a lot for Warren County. The vast majority of it is heroin and fentanyl.”

Financial nightmare

Burke said heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil have a residual effect on Mason, such as increased crime rates and the use of valuable community resources. In order to combat the problem, autopsies of overdose deaths are needed to prosecute the people dealing heroin. An average autopsy costs $1,500, and with 56 deaths expected this year, around $84,000 will be spent on overdose autospies alone in 2016.

“It affects all areas, especially urban areas, in a way people don’t realize,” Burke said. “The average Emergency Medical Services run has four medics that go; they always send a (Halligan bar, an iron tool) out as well in case they have to break down a door to get to the person. That’s not free. That costs a lot of time and resources. There is crime involved with this because the narcotics trafficking is illegal, but I’m talking about the residual effect of theft. Even though heroin is relatively inexpensive, it’s not free. It creates more crime, it creates more loss, it creates a high usage of resources in a community. It costs a lot of money.”

Saunders said the introduction of carfentanil has led to increased overdose runs throughout Cincinnati.

“It’s really brought to the surface how big the heroin addiction in this area really is,” Saunders said. “When we were having an average of four overdose runs per day, we had a period where we were making 20 plus overdose runs a day. When you compound the problem that much, it really identifies a lot of people are using and when they start using something as dangerous as fentanyl or carfentanil, it magnifies the problem because a different mixture of the drugs on the street are now being used.”

Burke said with increased overdoses, the police and fire departments have to allocate their resources in different ways.

“Mason is fairly affluent; Warren County itself is fairly affluent,” Burke said. “But it’s only so much. You get other areas that are not as quite affluent and have two medic units in a township, and one of them is tied up on an overdose, and the other goes out to a traffic accident. Then grandma drops over from a heart attack, and there is no one available. They have to come from another area and take even longer, and those are the things that people don’t think about. It affects everyone.”

Burson said heroin and carfentanil are shipped out of Mexico and South America, then transported to larger cities. From the larger cities, it makes it way to the suburbs where it’s destructive impact is felt throughout the community.

“Carfentanil has been (in Mason) within the last few months,” Burson said. “Its shipments have come out of Dayton and Cincinnati and have been adulterated, or cut, with (heroin). A heroin user doesn’t operate just in a vacuum. A heroin user will do anything it takes to get their drug. If that means stealing from their own family, going out and stealing to get money to buy heroin, (they will); you hear about people who are driving around drug-impaired with their kids in the car; they leave their kids with people they don’t know to go buy heroin. It’s destructive to the community as a whole. We’ve had cases here recently, and a drug-related death yesterday. It’s been one day since we had our last (death). Here in Mason. We’re a relatively small community, but no one is immune from it, and we are definitely suffering our losses from it as well.”

Law enforcement at risk

Police officers are aware of the impact of carfentanil and heroin, Burson said, and take extra precautions when dealing with drugs. All police officers must use gloves for any contact with drugs, and all drugs must be packaged in multiple layers. Carfentanil and heroin could also be spread transdermally, or through the membrane of the skin. This could easily affect an officer just as it would the drug user.

Saunders said that police dogs are also now at risk when brought onto drug scenes, because if a dog sniffs carfentanil, it could die.

“We have received a great deal of training from the Drug Task Force, and then also from the State Attorney Generals Office on handling precautions,” Burson said. “We used to do field testing, where we would take test kits to take a small sample, but we don’t do field testing anymore. Lots and lots of precautions are taken because it can be deadly for us too.”

Police officer and law enforcement are now at threat, Burson said, because sellers will do anything they can to protect their product, and users will do anything they can to get their next high.

“Heroin-impaired people are usually docile and passive, but because they’re willing to do anything to get their drug, it becomes dangerous for us if it is mixed with anything like fentanyl or carfentanil,” Burson said. “It becomes fatal to anyone who comes in contact.”

Time for a change

Burson said that because traditional law enforcement is not working, he believes there should be a change to help users receive treatment.

“We as a law enforcement community are going to have to come up with better ways to enforce this,” Burson said. “The traditional arrest and prosecution isn’t working; it’s not going quickly enough. We’re going to have to come up with a treatment to help people.”

Burke said combating this epidemic is going to take time, and will require help from all forms of law enforcement.

“We’re doing everything we can,” Burke said. “Every year, a third as many people are dying because of this. Look at what the residual effects would be. Something has to be done. We’re offering treatment, but it’s a tough war to fight. This is not going to be an overnight fix – it’s going to take a lot of time. Everyone is used to identifying a problem, targeting it, and dealing with it, and eradicating it and being done. This is not that simple. It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of effort by a lot of different agencies, not just the police.”

The Drug Policy Alliance said Ohio House Bill 110 is a new law which encourages witnesses to overdoses to call 911 for help and went into effect on September 13. This law, commonly known as the “911 Good Samaritan Law”, exempts witnesses from arrest and prosecution for minor drug charges and alcohol law violations. Good Samaritan Laws, however, do not protect people from arrest for other drug-related charges such as drug-impaired driving or drug trafficking. Twenty states and the District of Columbia currently have policies regarding the protection of drug overdose witnesses.

The real danger

Burson said the law enforcement has hopes to help control the outbreak, but is aware this drug may not go anywhere anytime soon.

“It’s everywhere,” Burson said. “It’s really throughout the entire country right now. It’s a big issue. The danger is obvious because humans cannot handle that kind of synthetic opioid. ”

Saunders said the law enforcement is trying to find the source of incoming illegal drugs, but in the meantime, he said he urges students to be aware and realize the true power of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.   

“Carfentanil is illegal in the US,” Saunders said. “If we can identify the source of where these drugs are coming in and then shut that off, we can prevent more harm to come this way. It’s a dangerous drug and we hope that anybody, including high school students that might consider using drugs, will see how dangerous and potentially lethal they are (and) that they would not even go down that path.”



Published: September 23, 2016

Team moms have got it going on.

Sports teams rely heavily on parent volunteers. Dawn Berryman, the sophomore team mom for girls’ junior varsity soccer, has many responsibilities–spirit wear, team dinners, coordinating snacks for away games, and working with boosters all sit on her to-do list. However, she said she enjoys being involved because she has a passion for soccer.

“It can be busy, but it is very rewarding,” Dawn said. “I’m very happy and fortunate for the all the help.”     

Dawn said her everyday job with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helps her understand the impact of volunteers.

“We rely heavily on volunteers and we would not be as successful an organization if we did not have the support of volunteers,” Dawn said. “I know how important volunteers are, and what a difference they can make, and I like to share and give back outside of my work hours.”

Mackenzie Berryman said her mom volunteers because she enjoys committing to community activities.

“When she volunteers for something, she always goes above and beyond,” Mackenzie said. “She loves soccer and played soccer, so she’s really passionate about it.”

Sophomore junior varsity volleyball player Meghan Elko said her mother Elaine Elko volunteers with volleyball, basketball and lacrosse programs.

“I play lacrosse,” Meghan said. “She’s not on the board for lacrosse, and even though she’s president of the volleyball board, she goes to lacrosse meetings.”

Meghan said outside of her mom’s full-time job, Elaine spends hours working on projects to benefit and promote the volleyball team.

“She has a huge binder she keeps on her desk, and she’s always working on (volleyball volunteering),” Meghan said. “She does it because she played sports in high school and misses it, so she wants to be involved.”

Elaine Elko, parent volunteer and president of volleyball boosters, said she volunteers because it provides entertainment and satisfaction.

“I volunteer for the boys basketball board, I’m in charge of concessions for girls lacrosse and,  honestly, I’d be bored if I didn’t get involved,” Elaine said. “I like to be involved with what my kids are doing.”

Football parent volunteer and Touchdown Club secretary Edie Stewart said she used volunteering when she moved to Mason to meet other community members.

“(I) wanted to be involved in what my children were doing, and get to know the teachers and the other kids,” Stewart said.

According to Stewart, volunteering allows her to build relationships.

“I think you definitely get to know the players and the parents of the players, and that’s probably one of the most rewarding things,” Stewart said. “You also get to know the coaches, and it’s a great way to meet people.”

Cheerleading mom Jennifer Linne said she’s been planning for large events, like a homecoming dinner for the cheerleading team, since August, even though the event only lasts an hour.

“There is a certain theme,” Linne said. “We have to determine the menu. We go and find what the decorations need to be. It’s a lot of planning.”

Linne believes she is not a ‘helicopter mom.’

“You catch them when they fall and let them know you are there when they need you,” Linne said. “But (you) also let them experience things and go out for themselves because that is the only way they are going to learn.”

Head football coach Brian Castner said parent volunteers contribute to a team’s success.

“You have unselfish adults that give their time to a Mason Football Family, and they respect what we do,” Castner said. “I’ll be indebted to all the moms.”



From the day I stepped foot onto Dwire Field four years ago, the William Mason High School Marching Band has been my family.

We practice together. We live and breathe together. We spend over twenty hours a week together,  and I respect and love each and every person in the band. We’ve accomplished 6th, 5th, and 4th place in the nation, along with a trip to the Rose Parade in the small time I’ve been here. Our band program is nationally ranked, and one of the best in the nation. I’m fortunate to be a apart of this program, as it has played a large role in my character today. Being on time is being early, and once you step a singular foot onto the field, you must be aware at all times about everything going on around you. We are a unit–a tight knit bunch of band kids who crave the thrill of performance.

I was sitting in the 4th quarter stands tonight, however, when I heard news that was sickening. Mason kids were being unsupportive of each other. Calling us names, booing, shouting? We are supposed to be one. Mason is my home, and we shouldn’t be putting each other down.

This past month itself has been one filled with loss, shock, and sadness. Yet we choose to look to the bright side. We are behind these recent events; one action does not define who we are as a group, just like one action shouldn’t define what Mason is. Yet it does, but only because we let it be this way.

My band family doesn’t want to be called names, or be booed as we present ourselves to the audience. We may spend countless hours practicing to make sure every detail is perfect, but I would not trade it for the world. Our marching band is a team. Mason, we are a team. We should be sticking up for each other, not tearing each other down. With the past few weeks, I think everyone should have realized this. Negativity spreads, but it doesn’t have to.

It’s time to be the nicest school in America again. We need kindness to fill the air, not words of disrespect or hate.

William Mason High School, we are a team, so let’s act like one.

Indiana University High School Journalism Workshop: Married students offer a glimpse into their lives


Published: July 15, 2016

Eating in the dining hall. Going out to football games with friends. Studying late at night for an exam. Tatiana and Will DeWitt live like college students, but with a twist — they are married.

On Valentine’s Day 2014, 18-year-old Tatiana Adams DeWitt and 21-year-old Will DeWitt tied the knot at a Chicago courthouse, declaring their love eternal.

“We met when I was a senior in high school and she was a freshman,” Will said. “We were in our high school newspaper class, and pretty much the first day I was highly attracted to her. I came up to her and said, ‘If you ever need anything, give me a call.’ And I gave her my number.”

After completing high school, Will went to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for a year. Will said having a relationship with Tatiana was hard, but they worked to continue their relationship.

“That year was probably the hardest year because (our relationship) was over the phone and was strenuous,” Will said. “I moved in with her after that year and we lived together for a few years, got engaged, and pretty much if you’re living with someone, and there’s no issues, there’s no point of second guessing yourself. If you know, you know. So at that point we got married.”

Once Will and Tatiana became engaged, they had plans of getting married, but not right away. Will transferred to Indiana University to be with Tatiana, and they both decided to continue living together.

“I was 18, about to turn 19,”  Tatiana said. “He had already lived with my grandma and I before I came to college. I was getting ready to come (to IU) my freshman year, and we still wanted to live together. If we weren’t married, I would have had to live in the dorms. That’s not the reason we got married, but after living together for three years, me living in the dorms and him living in an apartment somewhere would have been taking steps backwards.”

According to Tatiana, her life as a college student is different from unwed students, but has not changed how she views her experience. Although she does not have as many social interactions, she makes sure to stay involved in extracurricular activities by being involved with Camp Kesem, IU Dance Marathon, being a lab assistant for education programs, and working for the IU yearbook and the Indiana Daily Student newspaper.

“I didn’t live in the dorms freshman year, so I didn’t get as much social interaction my freshman year,” Tatiana said. “For a lot of people, the people in their dorms is who they hang out with. Not necessarily people in their major until they start having a lot of classes with them. I didn’t really get that. It’s also a lot less going out. At IU, a lot of people like to have fun. People always call us the ‘old married couple.’ We like to stay in and watch Netflix and that’s perfectly fine with me. We have friends, but most of our free time we are hanging out with each other, not just other people.”

Although missing out on social interactions is a con of Will’s lifestyle, Will said he thinks having Tatiana in his life is a pro because he has a best friend and a support system.

“It’s nice to have someone to be a support system — to make sure I do my homework, and stay on top of things because it’s hard in college to not just let yourself slide,” Will said. “If you have someone behind you who has your back, and someone you care so much about that you want to make them proud, it’s nice to have that. Academically, it’s a big plus.”

Tatiana also said she believes having Will in her life is an advantage because she is not alone and has someone to share her life with.

“College is so stressful,” Tatiana said. “Nobody wants to be alone freshman year. You’re away from home. No matter what there is one person who you’re always going to have there; at the end of the day you go home and have a long day but you’re going to have someone to talk to, somebody who is going to be there for you, somebody who is going to make you dinner. That is definitely the best part: knowing that no matter what the day is I have somebody to go to.”

According to Will, he and Tatiana both have their minds focused on their educations, and are excited for their future.

“I know I’m here and my job is to get a good degree, so I can get a good job and support my future family,” Will said. “I keep my head straight.“

23-year-old Will is approaching his senior year, and 21-year-old Tatiana her junior year, Will said once he graduates he hopes to work online in Bloomington to stay with Tatiana until she graduates.

“I’m confident no matter what we do, we will figure it out,” Will said. “I’m currently working online, and I think I can probably stick with that until she’s out. Then after we can move wherever we want. Right now we’re debating between somewhere south and/or west.”

Tatiana said she may be married young, but she believes her relationship is mature, and she and Will have a team effort on their college experience.

“Nobody wants to hear in this day and age, ‘I’m getting married at 18.’ Most people aren’t mature enough,” Tatiana said. “We both knew it was something really special. I don’t think there’s a perfect time or age for anyone to get married. A lot of people think it’s crazy if you get married young, but it’s been the best two and a half years.”

View the complete story here: http://mediaschool.indiana.edu/hsji/married-students-offer-a-glimpse-into-their-lives/


Feature, News

Published: April 15, 2016

Sleep? There’s a nap for that.

As sleep is commonly called “food for the brain”, sleepfoundation.com reports that a lack of sleep limits a student’s ability to learn, listen, concentrate, and solve problems. Lack of sleep also makes teenagers and adults more prone to pimples and other skin problems.

According to nationwidechildrens.org, sleep deprivation impacts a student’s mood, behaviour, cognitive ability, academic performance, and driving ability. Sleep allows a person’s brain to relax and take a break.

Health studies from the sleepfoundation.com show that a student needs eight to ten hours of sleep a night.

Yet according to the Chronicle’s Twitter poll, 59 percent of Mason High School students average four to six hours of sleep a night.

Junior Katie Kenniston averages two to three hours of sleep a night, and she said that her schoolwork and career aspirations are the main reasons for her loss of sleep.

“I think it’s just because I’m trying to build up the endurance of becoming an actor, and you don’t get a lot of sleep when you do that,” Kenniston said. “That’s why I don’t get a lot of sleep, but it’s also because of the work load from (my classes).”

Sophomore Christine Martin said that going to bed late leaves an impact on her learning and concentration throughout the school day.

“I’m really tired in all of my classes, and in my first bell I’m always trying not to fall asleep,” Martin said. “When lunch rolls around, I’m even more tired because I just ate.”

Martin is not the only student that feels tired throughout the day. Despite going to sleep at 9 p.m., sophomore Alise Cheeseman said she feels tired throughout the day, even if all of her homework is done.

“If I don’t get enough sleep, I can’t function very well at the beginning of the day,” Cheeseman said. “You need to be able to pay attention in class and get things done so you don’t have to worry about it later on.”

On March 8, the Indian Hill Exempted Village School District School Board voted to change the district’s start time from 7:35 a.m. to 8 a.m. for the 2016-2017 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles said the main reason to move the start time was because the school district would like to give students the opportunity to have more sleep.

“Research would demonstrate there are significant benefits for adolescents attending middle school and high school to have later start times, that they are more engaged after 8:30 in the morning,” Miles said. “The research we examined identified academic outcomes, health outcomes, and behavioural outcomes.”

The brain is not fully awake until 8:30 a.m., and the closer students start class to 8:30 a.m., the more engaged students will be, Miles said. Indian Hill, however, will not yet push back the start time to 8:30 a.m. because the shift would disrupt the students.

“We didn’t quite get to the 8:30 a.m. recommended time, but it is a start,” Miles said. “We thought that the significant shift to 8:30 a.m. would be a disruption to our students, our athletics, and our extracurricular activity schedule.”

With work and other activities taking up time, superintendent Dr. Gail Kist-Kline said teens most likely take away their sleep time because they have other priorities.

“Sleep does not always get the respect it deserves,” Kist-Kline said. “Good health means getting a good night’s sleep–and this is probably even more important when the brain is still developing.”

Both pros and cons must be evaluated before Mason can think about moving the school start time of the district to later, Kist-Kline said, but it may be a possibility in the future.

“As a community we might consider this option, but I’d also want to have a lot of community conversation about all the items that would take to make that happen and about how we prioritize sleep,” Kist-Kline said. “If we move back the start times, but teens just go to bed later, we haven’t really captured the hour. I know that many teens (and adults) may not love the idea of a set bedtime, but consistently enforcing a 10 p.m. bedtime is probably the very best way to change sleep habits so that we all feel ready to tackle the day.”



Published: March 11, 2016

The Academic Quiz team won the Greater Miami Conference for the second time and scored 11 points towards Mason receiving the 2015 All-Sports trophy for the eighth year since Mason joined the GMC in 2007.

According to third year captain and senior George Valcarcel, the Academic Team plays each team in the GMC twice through conference play. They have reached a point of annual success by the combined record over the last two years being 35-1, and undefeated this season. In 2012, the Academic Team went 11-7, and in 2013 their record was 12-6. With the record in 2014 being 17-1 and this year 18-0, the Academic Team has shown major improvement.

With Princeton winning 31-30 to Mason last year and being the only team that Academic Team lost to in 2013, Valcarcel said that the team made sure they had a comeback this season.

“The final was Princeton and it was important for us because we went in with the mindset that we can’t take them for granted,” Valcarcel said. “We know that last year they were the one team that was able to beat us. We went in fully knowing that we were going to play our best game and minimize our mistakes. Sure enough, we crushed them.”

Valcarcel said that in addition to Princeton, Lakota West gave them some trouble over the years but they stuck it out to contribute to their flawless record.

“Lakota West has always been a strong rival in the GMC, and when our undefeated season was on the line, we were going down to the last couple questions,” Valcarcel said. “It really put the pressure on us and maybe in past seasons we would have cracked under the pressure. But by this season, due to our experience and maturity with the competition, we were able to hold our composure and calmly win the match.”

According to Ohio Academic Challenge Head Greg Bossick, the Comets should look to winning more rigorous competitions, and hope for a national title on the future.

“It’s definitely an accomplishment to win your league twice,” Bossick said. “But it should be just a starting point. It should be just a launching pad to your final destination.”

By winning the GMC, the Academic Team is advancing to regionals on April 16, said Valcarcel.

“We are at a point where we want to continue the tradition of success that we have started the last couple years,” Valcarcel said. “We would like a GMC trophy here in Mason from every year going on because the GMC is where everything starts.”