The robotics team preparing for competition

Highlander robotics team takes home awards

 by Miles Eisenbraun, '25

Recently the robotics team competed in the first of two district-level For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competitions at Reading High School. 

The team won the prestigious Engineering Inspiration Award for its outreach in the community and schools. This is one of the highest awards available in FRC, securing a chance to compete for the Engineering Inspiration Award at the District Championship in Springfield. 

The following weekend, the team competed at the Greater Boston event at Revere High School, the second major event. 

They had a great time and won the creativity award for their unique robot design. The team now looks forward to the trip to Springfield for the district championship.

To stay up to date with the team, follow on Instagram and Twitter @frc6201 or check out their website. The team thanks you for your continued support. Stay tuned for competition updates.

Kinky Boots plays to enthusiastic crowds at SHS

by Olive Redd, '25

A show packed full of glitter, incredible makeup, and loads of drag queens danced and sang its way across the SHS stage in the first week of December. The Highlander Theatre Company’s (HTC) talented performing arts team performed the musical Kinky Boots and astonished audiences over four shows in three days. 

SHS students, alumnus, family, and friends attended this year’s shows, packing the auditorium, engrossed in the remarkable story of a failing shoe factory that rebrands itself to create lovely performing shoes for the drag queens of Northamptonshire, England in time for Milan shoe fashion week. 

The show featured returning actors as well as some new faces, creating what many members of the  HTC call one of the most tight knit communities at SHS. The show encapsulated all that the HTC does, from incredible costume work to dedicated actors work in embedding themselves in their characters. The show was magical, with glittery shoes and incredible songs, quite deserving of its praise.

According to junior actors Alice Hunter and Eclipse, this show felt like a full circle moment for them. As participants in numerous shows since their freshmen year, Kinky Boots brought new life and energy, and drew in new faces to further the large ambitions of the HTC. 

Hunter and Eclipse and all the actors also deeply encourage staff and students to continue their support of the theatre group. These individuals time and time again put on showstopping productions. 

The SHS community extends sincere congratulations and a big thank you to the HTC for their continued excellence. Please give friends and classmates who acted, made costumes, did makeup, built sets, organized, and/or worked behind the scenes an extensive thank you for their hard work.

Beating the winter blues

by Olive Redd, '25

The leaves have departed the trees, leaving barren, cold branches, but believe it or not there are ways to enjoy what many consider to be the most difficult season. Winter has long since arrived in New England, bringing with it snow, cold, and for some, the challenge of keeping up with day-to-day life. A great way to combat the winter blues is to find new things to do to avoid what can feel like the longest, most repetitive season. 

As it gets colder many people see a decline in mental and physical health, partly due to being cooped up inside, thus receiving little Vitamin D, which amplifies serotonin in the nervous system. Not receiving sufficient Vitamin D leaves people feeling tired, unproductive, and in a rut of sorts, feelings many find return with each winter. 

Stopping the cycle of yearly sadness and unproductivity can be combated right at home. If you're a person who finds it difficult to get things done in the winter, there are some steps you take. One easy way to break winter blues is to resist taking midday naps. While it may feel like a nice way to allow yourself some rest, it actually creates bad sleep schedules and the body becomes used to receiving rest at that time of day, making you tired on days when you cannot afford time for a nap. Instead try falling asleep earlier and rebalancing your sleep schedule. After a few days of resisting nap time, your body will adjust to give you ample energy to sustain a full day. Another fun thing that you can incorporate into the winter time is finding new at home hobbies. Spending so much time at home means there is  time to find something new to do, such as crocheting, learning new games, painting, and a wide range of other fun and simple new hobbies. 

Change in environment is a fabulous way to shake up a routine, even if it's just going to a library to do homework. In Somerville, there are three public library branches. Also, Somerville residents have access to the Tisch Library at Tufts on Professors Row; even though you can’t take books out, it is a good place to do research or get work done. Many students see a decline in  productivity which negatively affects their grades in the winter months, so going to get those upcoming assignments finished in a fresh space really helps. Free spaces like libraries, which are ample in the area, or even local cafes and bookstores with seating, are a great resource for this time of year. 

Due to the essential need for Vitamin D, one of the best ways to combat seasonal blues is in getting outside. While it may be cold out, bundling up and going for a walk while the sun is out is a great way to boost endorphins. It is also a great form of exercise, and a very easy thing to implement into everyday life. Try walking home from school on a day that is sunny, or take advantage of a warmer day to go outside with friends. Even when the climate does not permit much outdoor activity, take advantage of the splendor of snow by embarking on snowy day activities. Finding sledding areas and going with friends or family is easy and nostalgic and will aid in breaking routine and adding in new kinds of activity. 

Winter can be a challenging time for many, but by taking advantage of what you can do, you may find a boost in productivity and overall happiness. Give it a try. Plus the days are only getting longer and the sun is setting later and later, so spring (March 21st) is right around the corner.

SHS students organize around Israel-Palestine conflict

by Olive Redd, '25

The Israel-Palestine conflict has captured headlines that tell of the violence on both sides. Following the attack of the Hamas group on October 7, 2023, which took the lives of approximately 1,400 innocent Israeli civilians, the Israeli government responded with additional violence. The number of innocent Palestinian civilians who have died as a result of this response - what the Israeli government calls “collateral damage” - has surpassed 25,000 people. 

Nationwide, people of all ages, ethnicities, and political ideologies have come together in the common demand for a total cease fire, and the immediate flow of humanitarian aid to those suffering in Gaza. We spoke to two student representatives of the Muslim Student Community here at SHS (a club awaiting final approval but that has been meeting), Sarah Kapadia and Nour Kharbaoui, following their organization of a walkout during all three lunches on Tuesday, November 14, demanding humanitarian aid, an end to occupation, and a cease fire in Gaza. 

The roots for the movement first began in a classroom after school where three or four students, including Kapadia and Kharbaoui, gathered for a meeting of the newly formed Muslim Student Community.  Both were frustrated by the lack of conversation surrounding this topic, as many local and national headlines were filled with propaganda. The common goal of the MSC: Spread awareness and knowledge of what is happening. As students at SHS, they felt that there was little to no accurate information and/or vital conversation at school surrounding a conflict of such importance. Kapadia said, “This is a human rights issue. To be ignorant is not an option right now.” 

Both Kapadia and Kharbaoui noted that while social media outlets can be a first step to learning about this issue, there are a lot of problems in getting all one's information through sites such as Instagram, Tiktok, and X, to name a few, as there is a surplus of misinformation and disinformation. Both students are urging students to fight for this pressing issue, but that starts with getting accurate information on the topic, which they both feel can start in the school. 

Kapadia noted that without the help of the school in integrating this human rights issue into current events lessons, many students will be left in the dark, remaining uneducated about what is happening in the world. Kapadia spoke about the gratitude she has for the opportunities she has been given to further pursue social justice through a program at Cambridge College. With this she hopes to further educate and be a voice for serious change. Overall, their goals include to “first create awareness,” and encourage others to, “speak up.”

Israel-Palestine conflict

Olive Redd, '25

In recent weeks, climbing death tolls, devastation, and horrors of war have consumed the headlines. Palestine and Israel are geographically located in the Middle East between the countries of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. While the conflict is multifaceted, it primarily surrounds who should occupy the land which is currently controlled by the Israeli government. 

The beginning of the modern conflict between Israel and Palestine began in 1948. Following the devastation of the Holocaust, there was a mass displacement of surviving Jewish people, and so the British government offered up the territory of Palestine to them. The Palestinian people did not consent to their land being offered up, but European Jews where landless and had no homes to go back to. 

Prior to the Holocaust some Jews and Palestinians had lived together on that land in relative peace. When Israel was announced an independent state in 1948, the Arab Israeli War broke out. That war lasted about nine months and involved quite a few Arab nations fighting in support of Palestinian sovereignty, and against the Israeli government's two-state solution. 

Following the war, tensions rose between the Palestinian and Israeli governments. The Israeli government began moving Palestinian people off more and more land, forcing them into small, densely populated, and incredibly impoverished areas such as the Gaza strip. The two-state solution, which outlined a way in which the Palestinians and Israelis could occupy the land in harmony, however proved unsuccessful. 

While the conflict between the Palestinian and Israeli government has been an ongoing issue, it has reentered headlines in the past month amid new developments. On October 7th, Hamas, the main militant force of the Palestinian government, launched a surprise attack on the Israeli government and people. This attack was by land, sea, and air and had incredibly high civilian casualties with the death toll in Israel rising past 1,400. 

Israel responded with a barrage of bombing in the Palestinian occupied areas of Gaza as well as the West Bank. Gaza, being a densely populated area of 141 square miles, is home to over two million Palestinians. Additionally, the Palestinian population is around forty-nine percent below the age of eighteen, making it one of the youngest populations in the world. The bombing by the Israeli government has detrimentally affected the people land of Gaza, with neighborhoods decimated, and over 11,000 deaths and over one million Palestinians displaced from their homes. 

Across the world people have come together to show their concern for the well being of the people affected by the conflict, which is ongoing with no end in sight. 

Click here to read this article in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole.

Students enjoy pieces from Ancient Rome, such as this painting from 1847, depicting the Roman Empire and the behavior of nobles. 

Bringing back the beloved field trip

Olive Redd, '25

When reminiscing on the younger years of middle and elementary school, the glowing memory of joy-filled field trips to museums, parks, landmarks, and even Boda Borg is a cemented part of those times.   

As students enter SHS, many are perplexed by the lack of this out of school integration of learning. While not all field trips have a designated purpose of furthering academics, it is an immensely effective way in which to make classroom-based learning tactile, and to further real world connections. 

For the past two years, Mr. Blake, an honors and AP World History teacher here at SHS, has been integrating this practice into his curriculum through his field trip to the Harvard Art Museum. For his classes of predominantly juniors, this is one of only a few field trips they have been on at SHS. 

For some, it is their first. When speaking with Mr. Blake, he spoke about the lasting impact that this form of “active learning” had on him in his high school years, and in turn he hopes this trip has this impact on his students. He notes that many are unaware that the artifacts they learn about in these classes are kept in museums in the area, such as the expansive collections at the Harvard Art Museum. 

The Harvard Art Museums, housing a 250,000-piece collection of historical and modern artifacts and a plethora of other exhibits, is an incredible resource. It is less than a 40-minute walk from the high school, something Mr. Blake claims is helpful for transportation logistics, as school buses are prohibitively expensive. On top of all that, this expansive collection is free to the public. 

Once at the museum, Mr. Blake’s scavenger hunt helps students make connections to the classroom by having students find artifacts and connect them to the categories outlined on what they have been given. He finds that this scavenger hunt is applicable to many museums, so students can further their learning by bringing it along on future museum trips.

One of the questions that sparks conversation between students year after year is what pieces speak to them. For Mr. Blake, he finds the careful juxtaposition of the old and new pieces fascinating, as the museum is known for “taking brand new pieces and displaying them near older pieces to instill a theme.” He feels that this is contemporary, and an interesting way to look at history. 

When asked about his answers to some scavenger hunt questions, he said that his personal favorite is a small stone carving from over 5,000 years ago as it, “Makes it seem like we can look back into the past and touch it.” 

Mr. Blake attributes his success in running this field trip to the teachers and parent volunteers who help to make these experiences happen for students. Mr. Blake explains that “Field trips are memorable,” and while there are many difficulties, he “Wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn't worth it.” 

Click here to read this article in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole.

The Electrical Decathlon trophy created and built by CTE students

CTE: Electrical shop builds core values

by Cyrus Oakes, '25

The electrical program, located on the 5th floor of C building, is one of the 14 CTE programs at Somerville High School. The program runs on a few main virtues: family, progress, and competition. 

Students do everything they can to weave connections within the group, from extensive group projects to the Hawaiian shirt Friday tradition, which they are looking to expand throughout the rest of the school, all to promote the virtue of family.

Progress is the second core ideal. Over the summer, Mr. Oliveira, students, and others worked on redesigning the physical space and the program. They completely redesigned the room to accommodate a new and expansive curriculum, and to influence connections between the students. 

Lastly: competition. The program believes that intense but friendly competition is key to growth. That's why this year saw the introduction of The Electrical Decathlon, where students compete in ten elements throughout the year and the curriculum to win a trophy. 

The trophy, which was created and built at SHS in collaboration with other CTE programs, will have the names of winning students engraved upon it. The trophy can fit twenty-five names to mark the first twenty-five years of the Decathlon, a tradition built to last.

Click here to read this article in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole.

T. Swift in a theater near you

Marta Miekkelsen, 2027

     Taylor Swift has been in the news a lot lately because of her love life, career, and not least The Eras Tour, which is still going on and will be in Europe next year. Swift has dominated headlines with the new movie she released, her re-recording of her album 1989, and of course her love life with Kansas City Chiefs football player Travis Kelce.

Her new movie, titled Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, is a live recording of her Los Angeles performance. Swift made the movie for those who could not afford tickets to her concerts, but also for people who did not get a ticket because it is so popular and so many people wanted to go. The movie has made about $100 million so far, but it is set to make a lot more due to its popularity.

But that is not the only thing that Taylor Swift has been working on. The album 1989 (Taylor's Version) was released on Friday, October 27. 1989 was the fifth album she released in her career and is now the fourth album she has rerecorded and rereleased.

She is doing this because when she signed with a music producing company at the start of her career, the contract said that it was the company that owned all the music she produced with them, so she did not own her own songs or albums. The company could then sell the songs to whoever they wanted, and Taylor Swift could not do anything about it. Now that she is rerecording all the songs she made with this company, she fully owns the new versions of her songs.

As for her love life, she and Travis Kelce are now dating, although neither of them has made a formal announcement about it. They have been spotted together many times, and she has been to many of Travis Kelce's football games with his mom. Travis Kelce is 34 years old and is a professional football player. He plays tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs.

This reviewer gives the movie a rating of 6 out of 7 hills. 

Click here to read this article in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole.

X-Block isn't working

"This is not what I need with my time." 

by Amelia Beretsky-Jewell ('27)

This year, the X-block structure has changed. Teachers now practice “community circles” as a mandatory part of the free period. X-block is a practical time to check grades, finish work, or check in with a counselor. 

 In past years, X-block was referred to as “WIN time.” WIN stands for “what I need” and reflects what the purpose of x-block is. 

Many students feel that the community circles take away this valuable time. Even if the circles can be helpful for some, others shared less enthusiasm about them. For example, student Liam Beretsky-Jewell (‘25) said, “I understand the intention behind the circles, but I think that most students think that they are annoying, including me. X-Block should be utilized as time to get homework done.” Leah Cooke (‘25) said, “This is not what I need with my time. Last year, X-block was good and we had time to work. The circles take away that time.”

Not only do students have problems with circles, but there were other complaints. SHS student, Brett Sheldon (26’), said, “I think that X-Block should be on Fridays or something closer to the end of the week.”

Although there were mostly negative comments about X-Block, Julia Rafkind (‘27) felt neutral. She said, “I don’t mind the circles. I feel neutral and they don’t help me in any way so I don’t really care about them.”

The takeaway is that not all students think about X-block in a completely negative way. But many view X-Block period as impractical, and that it should be altered to fit the students’ needs.

Click here to read this story in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole.