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Wheeler transitioning to new teaching adventure

By J.R. Fields

In the summer of 2021, Murphy Wheeler was finally leaving journalism and the Bedford Times-Mail behind. There were no big goodbye parties. There were really no goodbyes at all. When Wheeler went to turn in his company laptop and camera, there was nobody inside the building. He got in, he got out, and he got on with his life.

Now, he’s gone into a whole different direction in his life and career. Wheeler is now a teacher at Orleans Jr./Sr. High School where he teaches the subjects of sophomore English, Journalism, and Digital Media. Starting next year, Wheeler will start teaching Career Exploration.

“I kind of thought the next best thing, if journalism didn’t work out, was teaching,” Wheeler said. “So,a job opened up here and I decided to jump on it and ended up getting it.”

Wheeler graduated in the year of 2015 from Orleans High School. Afterwards, he went to college at IU and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communications in 2019. While in college, Wheeler got the opportunity to work for the student newspaper at IU, the Indiana Daily Student, where he covered men’s and women’s basketball, football and cross country. Following college, Wheeler went to work at a number of newspapers in Bedford, Bloomington, Paoli, and French Lick as a sports writer and editor for about three years. He eventually quit because he felt it was time to move on to a new adventure and because the newspaper industry was changing.

“I really didn’t like the time management of the job, and I also didn’t like how much the corporate interfered with the job,” Wheeler said. “I found myself working from noon to one a.m. at night, so that was another big thing that kind of pushed me away from it.”

Now that Wheeler is a teacher, he has the opportunity to work with his older teachers that he had as a teacher when he was a student at Orleans. He used to see them as the main authority figures in his life, but now that he is a fellow co-worker, it has definitely been a strange experience.

However, teaching is something that Wheeler can see himself doing for a very long time. He has no plans to quit being a teacher any time soon. One major reason for this is that he loves helping the younger generation decide what they want to do with their futures. He has successfully moved on from being a 24/7 journalist to now being a full-time teacher. 

“I just love how the people at Orleans are so accepting here,” Wheeler said. “The best part of teaching is interacting with so many people. I’m a very social person, so I like to get to know people, whether they’re 80 years old or 50 years old or 18 years old, it doesn’t matter.”

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Column: Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

By Bryce Dalton

This is it, my last journalistic writing. My final days are coming up as a senior at Orleans Jr./Sr. High School. It’s been one interesting journey throughout the time I’ve been in high school. It’s actually a different feeling than what most people think it is, a feeling I never dreamed of getting. It has changed my perspective on this year.

The truth about getting older is that you grow up and you hit a hard reality check. You look around and you see your classmates, some that are your friends, and some you don’t talk to as much. My advice is to cherish your classmates because the day is going to come when you look back and you wonder what they’re up to. I once thought, “I’m not going to miss any of these people.” I was wrong. Although some of the previous students left, or went online, or graduated early, this small senior class is my other half. I don’t talk to some of them, but I know who they are. As weird as this is going to sound, I’m going to miss these people. Eight years of my life have been spent with these fabulous people. Over time, I gradually got closer with everybody and created some memories that I will never forget.

I look back into my rearview mirror, and I just think about all the memories and crazy events that have happened throughout my high school years. I met some good people and got closer with other classmates I never thought I’d talk to. I have a whole different outlook now that graduation is getting closer. My personal thoughts and feelings are just mixed feelings. I look around with all the people I’ve known for a long time and I see them as young adults. It saddens me because we were kids. It doesn’t feel that long ago, but the sad truth is that after graduation, that’s the last time I’ll ever see these guys. It’s stressful because I’m going to college, but not with the same people I’ve seen forever. It’s also exciting because I get to see new things, meet new people, and new friends. It’s not just my classmates that I’ll miss, but all the teachers and staff and the whole atmosphere of the school as well. 

I asked around my senior class about how they’re feeling with graduation coming around the corner. Most of the seniors said that they’re happy and excited to graduate. They’re excited because they’re ready to see what the future holds for them. A whole new journey awaits these seniors, but very few of them are ready to let go just yet. They’re incredibly anxious to see what lies ahead of them. I’m in the same boat as them, it’s stressful to experience what’s new. We’ve all been stuck with each other for years, but it hasn’t felt like we were “stuck.” It won’t be easy to move on.

Before my senior year, I was actually stuck. I didn’t know who my true friends were, and I didn’t know where to go with my future. I wasn’t so sure if going to college was worth the effort. My junior year was the worst because I was in a dark place, physically and emotionally.  However, during that dark time, I had one motivation, something that kept me going. I have two older brothers, and they didn’t graduate school or obtain a GED, so I’ll be the only sibling to have a high school education. If I complete college, I’d be the first in the family to have a degree.

During that time, I also met someone who helped my high school experience bloom and blossom, and I finally found hope. I crawled out of that dark hole into the light and found peace in my state of mind. It’s what that person did that changed everything. I gradually figured out who I wanted to become in the future – an NCIS or FBI Special Agent. As I got back up after a rough fight during my first few years of high school, I talked to more people and became more friendly. I soon became one of the most talkative people in my class. 

I know I’m not the only one who experienced hard times in high school, but we made it. We’re at the final point of our high school journeys. I can’t believe the time flew very quickly. This is where this chapter ends and a new one begins.

Goodbye and farewell, Orleans High School.

Bryce Dalton, signing off.

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Ralston juggles being a teacher and parent

By Billiejean Stevens

Teaching is a noble profession, but it is certainly a full-time job. There are many teachers who dedicate their lives to empowering their students and to help them become the best person they can be.

Meanwhile, being a parent is also a full-time job. Working with children presents a ton of limitations including working long hours at home once you return from your usual job. It can be one of the hardest things a person does in their life.

In that sense, Julie Ralston, the freshman English teacher at Orleans, is working overtime. She loves her students, their parents, other teachers, administrators, and people in her community, constantly creating a classroom that is a safe learning environment for all. However, she also has to go home and care for her three children, making life even more hectic than it already is during a regular school day.

“Being a teacher and parent is a learning process,” Ralson said. “I always think that teacher’s kids have it the hardest because we have expectations for our students here, and then I think I take those expectations home to my own kids.”

Ralston has been a teacher at Orleans for 17 years. She graduated from Paoli High School and then went on to go to Indiana University in Bloomington. She majored in Secondary Education with a concentration of English and graduated in 2004. She got her Masters degree at Indiana Wesleyan online, and she finished in 2007. 

She is a mother of three beautiful girls, Harper, Sage, and Reagan. Harper was born in October of 2011, Sage was born in June of 2014, and Reagan was born in July of 2016. However, to Ralston, every student who walks in and out of her classroom is just another one of her kids. 

“I’m always putting on different hats because I always try to think of things from a teacher’s perspective but also a parent perspective,” Ralston said. “And I think once I became a parent, it helped me soften up a little with my own students and teaching.”

Ralston struggles to take days off of school and take a break for herself. For example, when one of her children is sick, her husband is very busy at work, so it’s hard for him to take off. Part of her knows she has to be at school for her students, and the other part wants to stay with her child. Sometimes you have to put being a parent before your job. 

Ralson likes to help people however she can, and she knew that she wanted a career where she can contribute to the community. However, she was not sure what kind of career was ideal for her. During her high school years, she debated between different professions, but thanks to some great teachers that she had, Ralston decided that she wanted to be a teacher.

“I had a lot of wonderful teachers growing up, a lot of teachers I idolized and a lot of those people inspired me,” Ralston said. “My aunt was a teacher, my uncle was a teacher and a well-respected principal. He was the principal when I was in high school and I really looked up to him.”

Sometimes, being at school can be a challenge for Ralston. The same goes for being a parent at home as well. But whether it’s one of her own daughters or one of her students at Orleans, it’s the smiling faces that keep her going.

“There’s good years and bad years in teaching,” Ralston said. “But I love this age group, and I love teaching my content.”

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Column: Final prom a mixed bag of emotions

By J.R. Fields

The lights went dark on the dance floor. Loud pop songs started to blare over the speakers. People joined the dance floor with their friends. Most of the time, those people just stayed in that same group of friends the whole time. There were only a handful of people who actively moved around to interact with different groups. Whenever other slow songs came on, there were several people who left the dance floor because they either didn’t want to slow dance or they didn’t have a partner to dance with. The ones who stayed just danced awkwardly and slowly.

This was prom, a glorified homecoming dance. Pop culture portrays prom like it’s where people find their true love, when in reality most of the time people are already in relationships before they get to prom. This isn’t like a movie where the king and queen fall in love at the end. In reality, the king and queen who get elected might not know or even like each other, making the final dance even more awkward than what it already is. 

My personal prom experience was a mixed bag. The most entertaining part of the dance was watching the slightly awkward dance between the king and queen candidates. Meanwhile, the music choice was all modern pop songs, which I’m not a fan of, but I can’t really complain about that because it was to be expected. Now, when they delivered the food, I thought it was delicious.The bacon-wrapped chicken was cooked to perfection, and the potatoes were also pretty good. The carrots could’ve been cooked better, but they weren’t the worst. I’m not a fan of strawberries, so I didn’t enjoy the dessert. 

Now to the after prom. Overall, it was a great experience. I had a lot of fun with the variety of activities that were there. While there were some negatives, winning free money and messing around with friends outweighed them. My favorite things at the after prom had to be the blackjack table, the food, and the quadricycles. There were other things there, though, like bingo, an inflatable wrecking ball game, inflatable horse races, giant bubble balls you could climb in, a small inflatable wipeout course where you had to jump from rock to rock, and an inflatable wrestling ring. With the combination of all of those things, it really had something for everyone to have fun.

Even though prom wasn’t the most perfect night ever, it was still a great experience to have. It was bittersweet because it was the last big event before our senior graduation. To all the future seniors, make sure to cherish the time in high school you have, because after high school, adulting is not that fun. Until then, keep reading the Bulldog Bulletin.

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Dr. Morgan builds lasting legacy at Orleans

By Bryce Dalton

There’s a unique type of energy whenever you step into Classroom 201 at Orleans Jr./Sr. High School. Paintings from students from the past hang all over the walls, drawing and painting utensils sit in cups scattered around the room, lumps of clay sit somewhere in the corner, colorful sheets of construction paper are in another corner, and a huge picture of the 1969 Orleans graduating class hangs on one of the walls. In that picture is Dr. Leah Morgan, who has spent the past 47 years, mostly in that room, guiding the students of Orleans to become the best artists possible.

Morgan is the source of that unique energy in Classroom 201. She’s always moving around, talking to her students and making constructive comments about their paintings and sculptures. She demonstrates to her students on how to get started and how to finish a work of art. Morgan has been doing this for so long that it is almost like second nature to her.

“I like to stay active and work with my hands,” Morgan said. “To me, it’s challenging.”

Growing up, Morgan was always passionate about art. Her friends and family always encouraged her to keep doing what she loved. However, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for artists in Orange County, unlike urban areas. After graduating from Orleans, she attended John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. After transferring to IU for her sophomore year, Morgan later graduated in 1975 with her Bachelors degree. In 1977, she earned her Master’s degree. At that point, Morgan thought she was going to be done with school, but it wasn’t quite over yet. She then started studying for her EED, Doctor of Education, later in her life. Eventually, she obtained her EED in December of 2006. 

Not only has Morgan passed along her artistic knowledge to the high school students of Orleans through the years, she has also expanded it to Orleans Elementary School, where she spends a lot of her work days at as well. She has also been involved with the academic team. She originally started with the spelling bowl at the elementary school. Later, a now-retired teacher, Kristina Hole, asked Morgan to assist her at the high school. Together, Hole and Morgan led the academic teams for many years. Hole and Morgan also went to three different French trips during that time as well. 

Five years ago, Morgan was in a severe car crash that broke her ankle, femur, hip, pelvis, most of her ribs, and many more bones. Although Morgan could’ve retired 10 years before that accident, nothing was going to keep her from Classroom 201 for long. She was still committed to coming back after her near-death experience. Morgan has dedicated her whole career, her life, to being an amazing art teacher. In her mind, she didn’t make it this far to give up now.

“I could’ve retired more than 15 years ago, but I love to do it,” Morgan said. “During my car crash, I wasn’t ready to stop then. I broke many bones, my ankle in many places, my femur, my hip, my pelvis, my ribs. But I’m better off staying above ground and staying active until I can’t.”

Although Morgan’s art room might look a little messy and chaotic, everything has a place. Morgan has been doing this for so long, she has developed a technique and routine. 

That has been especially true recently as she has been getting ready for her class’s yearly art show at the annual Dogwood Festival in Orleans. Morgan anxiously walks from one corner to another. She’s constantly organizing portraits, a few sculptures. She’s always getting the last look before she demonstrates her students’ portraits, placing each of them in a specific position. She’s constantly moving, nonstop, to find the perfect angle and where the portraits should be placed. She doesn’t like when paintings are in front of each other because you can’t see them from a distance. 

That’s how Morgan runs her classroom. She doesn’t want perfection, but she expects her students to create art with the same passion and effort as she always has. 

“When the students take my class, I hope they get a sense of success,” Morgan said. “You don’t go from point A to point B on the first try. The students should feel that as long as they try hard, that should reach their goal at the end of the day.”

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Prom King Micah Evans remains passionate about music

By Seth Milam

When Micah Evans steps onto a stage in front of a crowd of people, he doesn’t feel any fear anymore. That hasn’t always been the case, but Evans has had so many live performances around the town of Orleans, it doesn’t even phase him now. 

Even though the Orleans senior participates in track and cross country and recently was crowned Orleans’ prom king, music has always been his main passion. However he has quite different views on what music means to him compared to when he was younger.

“It’s kind of interesting, because when I was younger, I wasn’t very interested in music at all, but I think that was mainly because I hadn’t heard any music that I really liked,” Evans said. “We just listened to country music, and I was like wow, music really isn’t that great, but then as I got older and started hanging out with people that listen to different genres of music, I was like, yeah, I like this stuff. That caused me to want to learn how to play instruments that accompany that kind of music, and that’s when I started getting into string instruments. At first, it was just about playing, then it became about playing and singing. Then I thought I have something I want to say as well, and it’s a fun process trying to come up with a way to tell a story in a musical format because a song is really just a poem.”’

Since a young age, Evans has had an interest in music but that wasn’t always the case. As he has aged, he has developed more of a love for music and a passion for making music. To him, it’s not about the fame or fortune, it’s about having fun doing what he does best and putting on a good performance for the people that took time out of their day to come and see him perform.

“I feel like that is the one thing that has evolved over time  when it comes to performing live,” Evans said. “ At first, it used to make me sick to my stomach to go out and play in front of people because I was so shy and also humble. I didn’t want to feel like I was trying to prove something, and I’m still not trying to prove something when I go and play in front of anybody. At first, it was just going up and trying to show off a talent that I have, but now when I go up, I’m just trying to put on a performance for the crowd.”

Ever since Evans has been playing music from a young age, he has had the opportunity to learn several instruments over the years, but it all started with a simple drum set when his dad, Toby, taught him how to play the instrument when he was very young.  His musical skills have only evolved since then.

“Actually, I was going to say trombone was my first instrument because that’s what I played when we started up with 6th grade band, but it’s not,” Evans said. “My dad was who actually taught me the drumset before I even started coming to school because it’s what my dad wanted me to play when I got in the band. I wanted to play wind instruments instead. I can play pretty much any brass instruments such as trombone, baritone, trumpet, tuba, and a little bit of mellophone as well. Then what I picked up and learned on my own was ukulele, bass guitar, and piano. There are several other instruments that if you put in front of me I could learn to play, but those are the instruments that I have actually enjoyed playing and continue to play.”

Evans learned a lot of instruments really fast; this resulted in him having many different routes he could take for songs he wanted to learn to play. Having too many options sometimes can be a bad thing because it can become hard to decide which to focus on, but not for Evans.

“I could play drums, but that’s just a beat, not a song,” Evans said. “The first song that I knew and was proud I knew was when I picked up ukulele and it took me like the whole first week before I was actually able to understand what I was trying to play which was Riptide, one of the more classic ukulele songs.” 

When he first took an interest in music, he wanted to be able to get to a point where he could make music for a living, but after a while, he realized that is a lot easier said than done. So now, he just likes to use his talents to bring joy to other people by letting them listen to him perform.

As Evans is now a senior in high school at the end of his senior year, he has gotten to experience a lot of different things. There have been highs and lows for him, and he still plans to continue playing music for people even after he graduates. But with all these different experiences came a different outlook on music and life as a whole. He can only continue to look forward to the future and continue playing for fun. 

“When I first started, I wanted that to be my whole life but, now I’m okay with that not being my whole life because I’m happy with music being a small part of my life whether other people are listening or not,” Evans said. “I’m still going to enjoy making music and listening to music I made and performing for people no matter how big or small the group is.”

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McClellan wins prom queen, looks forward to graduation

By Bryce Dalton

Ella McClellan is going to miss being a teenager in high school. She knows that time in her life is almost through. The Orleans senior and newly-crowned prom queen is excited for her upcoming graduation in May, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

“It’s bittersweet that this school year is coming to an end,” McClellan said. “Summer break just won’t be the same for us seniors.”

McClellan is a flamboyant type of girl who likes to dress fashionably with her favorite Adidas brand sports wear. McClellan cherished several people in her life, all of whom made a huge impact on her life. Tara Easterday is the mother of McClellan, and she supports her in any way possible. Easterday is there for her when she is having a bad day or is stressed out. McClellan is more herself when her mom is around; she is there to make her feel better. Tyler Easterday is the uncle of McClellan. Easterday gave her so many fun times and valuable life lessons that McClellan takes into consideration.

After school, McClellan is interested in possibly pursuing a career in marketing. She is also very interested in the cooking field. She’s inspired by a British celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, on becoming a great culinarian. She wants to settle down somewhere in Madison, Indiana in a chic farmhouse and raise her very own livestock. McClellan loves her family, so she also doesn’t want to be too far away from home. 

While at school, McClellan has a particular teacher she favors the most. Julie Isom has guided and helped McClellan throughout her high school years with difficult classes or when she is stressed out. Isom is a very caring woman who helps out with all of her students. 

Isom is glad that she met McClellan because Isom knows she can do anything and accomplish whatever she wants. She is excited to see McClellan’s future because she really wants her to succeed and be happy with her true accomplishments. The moment Isom met McClellan during her freshman year, she knew it was going to be a fun four years. Isom’s goal for McClellan is to keep her grounded and focused on her school stuff. Although McClellan goes through a rough patch on certain days, she’s still cheerful towards Isom and everybody else she interacts with.

“She’s amazing,” Isom said. “Amazing in all caps.”

McClellan is also inspired by yet another teacher, Jami Bledoe. McClellan goes into her classes almost on a day-to-day basis, as her TA, and when she’s in there, she is stress-free. McClellan cracks up Bledsoe because she makes her laugh and has a lot of fun while being in her classes. 

“She’s good to have conversations with,” Bledsoe said. “She’s a bright light in the room.”

As McClellan looks back on the relationships she’s built at Orleans, her years as a senior are coming to an end. She began this final stretch with a big personal moment when she won prom queen, a title she never expected to win. However, it shows how well-respected she is amongst her senior peers.

One of the main reasons for that popularity is because McClellan turns everything negative into a piece of hope to carry on. That’s an attitude she hopes to bring with her to life outside of high school. Though she feels excitement to graduate, she will also be sad when she goes away for her final and last summer break. 

“A positive anything is better than a negative nothing,” McClellan said.

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Hall brings passion to role as Orleans Bulldog

By Billiejean Stevens

Alyssa Hall could feel the nerves building up inside of her as she scooted her feet across the gymnasium floor, the beaming lights making it nearly impossible for her to see out of the dark, tiny holes that she squinted through. Sweating underneath a heavy, furry suit, she felt a sudden rush of adrenaline. Her pulse raced out of excitement and ecstasy, not nervousness. She was no longer herself. She was the Orleans Bulldog.

School spirit is important in an educational community. It demonstrates to students and staff the importance of teamwork, creates a social community, and brings the entire school together as a whole. For many high schools, including Orleans, mascots have become a major part of the school spirit experience.

Enter Hall, a freshman at Orleans Jr./Sr. High School. She is a member of the track, cross country and basketball teams, and is in charge of being the school mascot. Her main purpose is to energize the team and community’s spirit during basketball games. One of the ways she does this is to use entertainment to gain attention and generate excitement.

“They asked the cheerleaders who would want to volunteer as school mascot, and someone mentioned my name,” Hall said. “I was really nervous at first, but when I walked out of those doors for the first time, I knew I was ready.”

One of Hall’s favorite things about being the school mascot is the interactions she has with her fellow students. Even after one season as the Bulldog, Hall has gained a reputation of being good at entertaining the crowd during halftime and engaging the crowd to support their team throughout the game. So whenever Shannon Salmon, the head coach of the cheerleading team, came searching for a new mascot, Hall’s constant enthusiasm made her an easy choice to wear the Bulldog suit. 

“I knew her mom had done school mascot in the past, so I thought that it might be something she would be interested in,” Salmon said. “She passed my expectations better than I expected her to do.”

One of Hall’s biggest responsibilities as Orleans’ mascot is constantly dealing with young children at the basketball games. Even though they can be a hassle at times, it’s one of her favorite parts of her duties. She even has a side job at a local play center called Celebrations, where she interacts with kids as a costumed character, much like her role as the Bulldog. She’s even thought about doing something similar at a Disney theme park during a future summer.

Maintaining a secret identity is a top priority for Hall when involving a younger audience. It’s not easy, but she hasn’t gotten pretty good at it in this first year.

“I just do whatever I want, dancing, hand gestures, and funny movements,” Hall said. “I don’t make it boring.”

For Hall, the most important person in her life is her mom, who also wore the Bulldog suit when she was in high school. Her mom has inspired her in many ways. She is always guiding her to do the right thing, she supports her and her decisions, and tells her to believe in herself. Therefore, her mom is the most inspirational person to her. The word “mother” means everything to Hall. She wants to show her appreciation by doing what she did.

In a way, Hall is carrying on a family tradition with this new role. When she puts on a disguise, she can embody different personalities and interpret them in her own way through acting. Hall enjoys being the school mascot and would love to do it until her senior year. It’s her passion in more ways than one.

“My mom used to be a Bulldog,” Hall said. “I’m just following in her paw prints.”

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Column: Journalism class a new but fulfilling experience

By J.R. Fields

Most of the things written here are for entertainment purposes only. I am in no way insulting the decent man that is Mr. Wheeler.

Dear new avid readers of The Bulldog Column, I’m glad that you took the time to read the first edition of this column series at The Bulldog Bulletin, and I hope you enjoy it. The topic I will be focusing on this time is our Journalism class at Orleans High School, the same class I am slaving away to write this story right now.

Journalism class’s purpose is to teach students how to write different kinds of journalism stories such as columns, feature stories, and Q&As, all of which have been put on our blog, The Bulldog Bulletin. The class is taught by former sports journalist, Murphy Wheeler. Wheeler claims journalism is the greatest class you’ll ever take, but don’t let that easy-going smile of his fool you. Just look at how many words I had to come up with for this column that I was forced to write.  

Don’t just take my word for it, listen to what other students say about this class, too! According to Student A (a.k.a Seth Milam), this class is tedious because this amazing journalist, the one writing this story, tells too many of his original and hilarious jokes in class. Student B (a.k.a Bryce Dalton) think’s that journalism is a pretty fun class, but they were probably paid to say that. Student C (a.k.a Billiejean Stevens) has a very lazy opinion on this class because she said it helps her relax, so she thinks it’s amazing.

For a majority of the stories you write, you will be able to choose the topic and what kind of story it will be. A Q&A is the easiest of all the stories because you just have to type your questions and the interviewee’s answers. On the flip side, a feature story is the hardest one because it’s almost like an essay, and you have to interview a couple of people. A hard news story is another name for a breaking news story. A hard news story has only the information of a certain breaking news event. It doesn’t have a fancy hook (or lede as it is called in the journalism world) or anything like that. The column, which is what I’m writing here, is in the middle in terms of difficulty. A column is a more opinionated story, which means you can write about topics that you’re passionate about.

Overall, journalism is an educational class, and it is pretty fun once you can get the hang of it. As you can see in the second and third paragraphs, I was being a little comedic about this class and students. If you join journalism, you will be able to do that too, and maybe even more. This class is also a little difficult though, because you have to put in a decent amount of effort into whatever topic you choose to write about. But once you see how many people read your stories and how they positively affect the people you write about, it makes you realize all the effort put forth was worth it in the end.

Until next time my dear new avid readers, keep enjoying The Bulldog Bulletin!

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Smith doing big things in first year at Orleans

By Bryce Dalton

It was a beautiful September morning, and Jacob Smith’s Engineering and Construction classes walked down N. 2nd St toward the Orleans town square. With Orleans High School still in session, it may have been a strange sight to see a group of teenagers walking down the street, but that’s pretty normal in Smith’s class. 

They were on their way to observe a habitat for humanity house that was being built at the time. The construction class had to learn what type of screws, tools, and types of wood that they had to use to build the house. 

Smith, who is a first-year teacher at Orleans, loves being hands-on, especially with his classes that he teaches. It makes him feel that his students are learning something that will be very useful in their future. Smith doesn’t just teach Engineering and Construction, however. He also teaches many other things. He teaches seventh grade tech. His eighth-grade class learns about prep for college and careers, along with basic life skills like how to change a tire. 

Beyond teaching, Smith has also coached junior high and high school track for about nine years at Orleans and is in his first year as the varsity cross country coach. Smith likes to run with the kids that he coaches, because it keeps them motivated to keep going to the end of the line.

In his first year, Smith and his students have completed many in-school projects. The seventh grade completed a shelf. The high school  completed some Christmas decorations for them to take home, a lumber rack, miter saw stand, a picnic table for the cafeteria ladies, and coat and shoe lockers for the habitat house on the square. They also helped put together some smartboard stands for the school.

Smith graduated high school at Orleans in 2008. During his high school years, he played basketball and ran cross country, and track. Shortly after he graduated, he went to Indiana State University to obtain two degrees, Mechanical Engineering and Technology Engineering in Education. Smith was always a hands-on person. He loved to build stuff when he was growing up. When he was only three or four years old, his dad handed him some nails and a hammer to put the nails into an old tree stump. Since then, he’s loved doing woodwork. When he got a little older, he and his dad built a treehouse together. Smith is proud of that completion and to this day, he’ll never forget that memory. 

“I just love doing woodwork,” Smith said. “Being hands-on is something I love doing.”

Not only does Smith love doing woodworking, he also loves doing other activities. Smith is a beekeeper to have some fresh honey all to himself and his family. During the winter season, he has to check on them to make sure they’re still alive and producing some honey. He has to feed them some sugar when they’re low on honey. He also loves spending time with his three kids and his wife, Whitney, who is the varsity volleyball coach at Orleans. He also likes to run whenever he can to stay in physical shape. 

Vice principal Aaron Freed was a small part of the hiring process for Smith. He has known Smith for a long time. Freed is proud to have Smith at Orleans to teach the young students to be ready and prepare for the real world. Freed is glad that Smith teaches the students how to get hands-on, be ready for college, and gain basic knowledge of mechanical issues to motor vehicles. Freed believes that this is what the school should’ve offered long ago. He wants the students to know basic life skills that will be extremely helpful in the long run. Freed is very proud of Smith for what he brings to the students and the school and the town of Orleans. 

“He comes from the real world and I believe he’s very qualified,” Freed said.

Smith likes that Orleans is such a small community and school because it brings a lot of opportunities to the students. He likes that a lot of students know him as a teacher and coach. He feels that the students get a chance to know each other, rather than being in a bigger school or classes. Smith takes a lot of pride in teaching the students useful knowledge, and he hopes to do so for a very long time.

“I think that this school brings a lot of opportunities for the kids,” Smith said.

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Bradley evolving in Orleans’ Dawgs Den

By Billiejean Stevens

Teachers have the very important responsibility of shaping the lives of young, impressionable children. With this responsibility comes great pride and joy for many teachers at Orleans Jr./Sr. High School. 

For Belinda Bradley, a good teacher can be defined as someone who always pushes students to want to do their best while at the same time trying to make learning interesting and creative.

“I just love kids and working with them,” Bradley said.

Bradley is a veteran teacher at Orleans and has been teaching for 32 years. When she was younger and trying to make a living while going to school for her teaching degree, she worked part-time at McDonalds the first year because that had been her high school job. Then she ended up working at Osco Drug in the photo department located in Bloomington back when they didn’t have digital photography, so everyone brought their rolls of film to the store to be developed. 

After attending IU and working to pay off her student loans, Bradley has taught many subjects through the years, including English and Math. However, she currently spends her days in the basement of Orleans High School teaching in a special classroom called The Dawgs Den. The Dawgs Den is a digital fabrication lab that involves 3D printing, laser-cutting, vinyl-cutting, and microelectronics. The tools in the lab are meant to extend student learning. Most of these use technology.

Cheating in school is an age-old problem, but there is little doubt that technology – cell phones in particular – has made it almost too easy. Students can take notes on their devices to peek during a test, text their friends for answers, or take photos and send them to their friends. Bradley didn’t have social media growing up. Instead, she had to go to the library, check out books, and look up magazines if she wanted to study. However, Bradley has had to evolve. She now tries to use this new technology to help students learn.

“Technology is a big challenge in teaching today,” Bradley said. “It’s so easy to Google an answer now.”

Bradley believes that teaching is a very important career that allows children a chance to better themselves.  Knowing that a child will walk away with a better understanding and feel good about themselves gives her a great sense of accomplishment.  With her love of children and the qualities she brings to the classroom, she feels that as a teacher she can make a difference.

Bradley tries to make subjects come alive to students and inspires them to pursue careers later in life out of pure joy. She is very relaxed and very permissive in the way that she manages kids. There is nothing off limits. She really wants to encourage kids to be independent, creative and self-determined, which can be very positive. When Bradley used to teach English, she would write what assignment they had to do on the board, and when they walked in, they knew exactly what to do. She wanted to be the teacher that made everything about learning fun.

“I try to teach kids problem-solving,” Bradley said. “I just hope they grow up to be good adults in the future.” 

Bradley hopes that her years of experience in teaching at Orleans have made an impact on the students. She wishes they will remember her as a teacher that helped them grow into the potential they have. She loves watching students become learners and critical thinkers. This is her heart. She truly cares about all her students and their past, present, and future.

Bradley plans on retiring after a few more years of teaching, but she will remain just as passionate until that day comes.

“Every day is a good teaching day,” Bradley said.

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Credit Recovery a major blessing for many Bulldogs

By J.R. Fields

Jocelynn Fields had a complex combination of anxiety and uncertainty brewing inside of her. Fields had been taking care of her mom for the past two and a half years and had fallen very far behind in school. Fields was attempting to do homeschooling while she took care of her mom, but she was busy all the time and was unable to keep up with the copious amounts of work she fell behind on. Fields had constantly worried if she could even graduate from high school with her friends or if she had to go back to the freshman class to graduate. However, Fields is now back in school and trying to catch up on her work.

Luckily for Fields, Orleans Jr./Sr. High School had introduced a new program this year called Credit Recovery.

“Credit Recovery is great because it allowed me to catch up on my classes without me having to retake all the classes I missed,” Fields said.

Credit Recovery is an online program that allows students to get caught up on classes that they have either failed or haven’t taken due to moving schools. The people who run Credit Recovery at Orleans include the school guidance counselor, Kate Jones, the assigned instructor, Jacob LaRue, and additional support from Tara Carlisle. 

“We are offering students a non-traditional way to go about getting credits,” Carlisle said. “For some students, it’s really challenging to sit in a classroom environment and learn, so it gives them the opportunity to do it in a way that might help them in a way to achieve success.”

LaRue is the assigned instructor for the credit recovery class. His main job is to make sure that the students actually do their assignments and not slack off. LaRue is also responsible for assigning them the classes they take. He also signs students up for the Edmentum program, the online program which the credit recovery program is run through.

“Credit recovery is pretty much for if you failed a class last year or you failed a class anytime you’ve been here,” LaRue said. “You get the pleasure of coming into my classroom, whether it is one period, two periods, three periods. It all depends on the classes you failed or have to make up.”

Meanwhile, Jones is the person who decides whether or not the students deserve to be put in the credit recovery class. She makes this decision based on outside effects, whether or not the students tried in the class, and other concerns.  Jones also collects what classes they have failed and passes it on to LaRue so he can give the students the classes.

“They don’t get the option to pick to be in credit recovery or alternative school,” Jones said. “So, that is strictly an administrative decision between me, Mr. Wolford, and Mr. Freed. It would not benefit them to think ‘Oh, I’m going to fail everything this year to see if I can get in’ because they may not be able to be part of the program.”

For students like Fields, credit recovery has been a major blessing. Fields was really excited to be able to go back to school and be able to graduate with her own class instead of being held back and retaking all of the classes she had missed. This is all due to the credit recovery program that got this available possibility to her.

“Credit recovery has helped me out a lot,” Fields said. “It allowed me to go back to school and hang out with my friends and be able to graduate with my grade instead of going all the way back to the freshman class.”

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Saliba bounces back from major injury

By Seth Milam

Lily Saliba immediately knew something was wrong. As the Orleans senior chased after a loose ball in one of the Bulldogs’ first games of the season against Shoals, she stopped a little too fast. Pain immediately shot through her body. 

Her leg was severely injured. She ended up tearing one of the major muscles in her leg.

“It wasn’t anything cool,” Saliba said. “Some girl was dribbling on the baseline and I went and stopped her, and it just kind of happened, so I basically stopped too fast and pivoted my leg and twisted something, and a muscle in my leg just gave out essentially.”

During that basketball game, Saliba’s high school athletic career suddenly ended short. The torn muscle in her leg ended her senior season, and it completely changed her outlook for the rest of her senior year.

“It’s so weird because I had a feeling that I was done after I fell,” Saliba said. “I’ve never once fallen, and its been so bad that it felt like I wasn’t going to be able to play again. When I was taking off my shoes, I was thinking, like this is the last time I’m going to be able to do this, and I just remember thinking like that, which it probably didn’t help.”

Whenever it first happened, Saliba had a feeling that this was it for her, and she was not super excited about the fact that she was not going to be able to play any more for the rest of her season. During the Shoals game, the Bulldogs were winning until Saliba got injured, which was mentally stressful for her and her team. The morale of the team went down drastically because of Saliba’s injury. She was something like a support beam for them. She hyped them up and set the mood for each game she played in. 

“During our first two games, you could tell we were going to be good,” senior teammate Brooklyn Underwood said.  “We were pumped, and Lily set the mood for the team, so it was really hard trying to stay positive after she got hurt.” 

Saliba was also a track star at Orleans. She was part of the school record 4x 400 relay team. Along with being part of that record-breaking team, she was the team’s best long-jumper, and because of her injury, she is unable to compete in track her senior year. However, according to Saliba, this injury has not really affected her future plans in any way. It definitely affects her current plans in athletics, but regarding her future plans such as college, everything is still on track for her. 

“My future plans have not really been affected,” Saliba said. “I have had some letters to go run at track places, but I wasn’t really considering it because financially, it’s better to go to a cheaper school than to pay to run somewhere. The schools that had sent letters were all like D2 to D3 schools, so it wasn’t really anything major either.” 

Saliba has never really experienced anything that was this drastic in terms of injury, and because of that, Saliba had thought that she was almost invincible. In short, this injury was a big wakeup call for Saliba, and she has learned multiple lessons from it. She has always been relatively independent, so she has learned to rely on people more throughout this whole experience. 

While the road to recovery hasn’t been easy, Saliba appreciates the lessons she’s learned.

“I literally thought I was invincible for the longest time, not technically invincible, but you know, I just felt strong, and then that really beat me down,” Saliba said. “I couldn’t do anything by myself, and I had to rely on a lot of people to help me. I’m a pretty independent person as well, so it’s been kind of weird and hard to adjust to that. I have learned that I can rely more on the people around me to help me, so if I had to say, that’s the most important thing that has changed me as a person throughout all of this.”

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Escobar brothers getting used to new home

By Billiejean Stevens

Working, living, and becoming a citizen in another country is complicated. In fact, there are a whole host of reasons why people decide to move to another country. Living overseas can offer new opportunities, new lifestyles, new careers, and a new direction. However, there are common problems like a language barrier, culture shock, fitting in, and financial issues. Moving to a new country alone is a huge step. 

For Alex Escobar, one of the newest students at Orleans High School, moving to a new country made him feel like he had landed on a completely different planet. Escobar, a junior, and his younger brother Milton moved to Orleans from Guatemala this school year with their father. They had to leave the rest of their family, including two twin brothers, back in Guatemala, and that feeling of shock was certainly real once they settled in the small town of Orleans.

Guatemala is a Central American country that is slightly larger than the U.S state of Kentucky. It has a whopping 22 languages and faces many challenges such as food insecurity, severe violence, and extortion. Guatemala also has one of the world’s worst homicide rates.

Although Escobar and his brother felt much safer in Orleans than their old home, there were still some major fears they had to overcome upon arrival. They spoke very little English at first, and they knew very little about American culture.

“I was scared of people,” Escobar said. “No one spoke Spanish”

When he first came to America, Escobar spent his time studying English on Duolingo, a free language learning mobile app, and it helped him communicate better with the students around him. But here, it was different. There were more people, colder weather, sugary foods and no soccer, which he was used to playing all the time back in his old country. In Guatemala, his regular school day was spent in one classroom the entire time with the same teacher. The foods there were limited to meats and fruits. He tried his first burrito at Taco Bell. There was a hair in it. 

However, Escobar has a better education, living conditions and overall atmosphere in America. He does plan on going on vacation to Costa Rica soon, but he loves that he can learn and practice his English in America. He wishes that more people would talk to him so that his English could get better. With everything so new, foreign and sometimes scary, making friends abroad can be challenging. He used to get anxious about starting a conversation, but now after eight months of hard work, he is eager to make friends in his new country and test out the new words he has learned. 

“I like it here,” Escobar said. “I want to stay longer.”

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Teacher Q&A: Mr. Beckman

By Seth Milam

Q: How do you feel about Orleans High School so far?

A: I like it. It’s a good school, and most of the student body is good. It’s a smaller school, so the community is more connected, and I do really like that. It makes it feel like it’s a tighter knit community, which is nice.

Q: Why did you move to Orleans instead of a bigger area?

A: I’m from Crawford County, and it’s a smaller community, so I moved to another smaller community because that’s what I prefer. Also, my family lives in the area, and I wanted to be around them, so I wanted to stay in the area so I could be near them.

Q: How has the transition to Orleans High School been for you?

A: For the most part, It’s been smooth with no real issues. The only difficult part is this year, I teach completely different classes than last year, so I haven’t been able to really get into a solid routine. I feel like to be a really good teacher, you need to teach the same subject several times so you can find ways to do better, and I haven’t really gotten the chance to do that.

Q: What do you like about teaching English?

A: English teachers are in a much higher demand than others, so it’s much easier to find a job teaching English than in other areas of expertise like history for example.

Q: What did you do before you were an English teacher?

A: I worked for a cruise line before I started teaching. I worked in their sales and marketing departments for a couple months which was called the American Steamboat Corporation. I thought it would be so cool, but it was not. The coolest part about it was the training was on the boat, so I basically got to go on a two-week cruise for free.

Q: If you were to move over to another career what would you do?

A: It is my ambition to and I’m working towards increasing my education and degree to be a college professor. There are multiple advantages to it, one being the higher pay and it’s more lax and easy to work as a college professor rather than a high school teacher.

Q: Where did you teach before coming to Orleans? If so, did you enjoy it there?

A: My student teaching for a short time was only like 12 weeks which was at Columbus High School in Columbus Indiana. After that I got hired at a high school called Connersville High School, which is in the East of Indiana, and I taught there for four years, then I came here. The Connersville school was a lot more strict than Orleans is and since it was a much bigger school, there were like six principals, so you would usually see one of them every day.

Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: I have been teaching for six years.

Q: What college did you go to? Why did you choose that school?

A: Indiana University. There are a couple reasons I went there. For starters, they usually had a really good program for education and business, and I was kind of on the fence about which program I wanted to go into. I also got a pretty decent scholarship through them and ever since I was a kid, I wanted to go to IU. I liked the emblem and things of that sort. This was actually the first rebellious thing I did because my parents did not want me to go to IU. My dad was a die-hard Bob Knight fan (he was IU’s coach at the time) and after Bob Knight got fired, he said I was never allowed to go there. He took it pretty seriously as well because my parents didn’t even go to my college graduation. 

Q: What is your favorite thing about Orleans?

A: The different students here. For the most part, I like every student in my classes. At my last school, I taught English 12, and I went to graduation every year and would only know about 30% of the people, so it’s nice that this is also a smaller community because I know all the seniors that are graduating each year.

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Petty gives it his all in final season as a Bulldog

By Bryce Dalton

“For no word from God will ever fail”- Luke 1:37

That’s the bible verse written in marker along the side of Braeden Petty’s basketball sneaker. Those are the words that have motivated and inspired the Orleans senior through the ups and downs of his basketball career and his life as a whole.

After his close friend, fellow senior Lily Saliba, scribbled that verse and the words “play hard” on his shoes, Petty has taken those words to heart as his final season as a Bulldog slowly winds down.

As a senior leader, Petty doesn’t lose faith in his teammates when they make a mistake or lose a game. He practices whenever he can and learns what he can do to be a better player than he was in the last game. He never backs down after a defeat. He is a loyal player who becomes friends with his teammates on and off the court.

And through it all, he’s had those same words to motivate him – “For no word from God will ever fail, play hard.”

“I try to push the guys every single day, no matter what it is,” Petty said.

While those words have inspired Petty as a senior, he’s had to find ways to motivate himself many times in the past. As a junior, Petty was cut from the Orleans basketball team, which came with a devastating blow. He was confident that he did well and tried really hard to earn what he wanted. That didn’t stop him. After he didn’t make it to the team, he went harder. Petty practiced almost every day, whenever he could. He even practiced in the snow and non-playable weather conditions. During this time, Petty credited his parents, Ryan and Laurie, for backing him up every step of the way. He was also inspired by his coach, Tom Bradley.

 “Braeden is a young man who loves to play basketball. He practiced all summer, and I commend him for that,” Bradley said.

With this being his final season, Petty couldn’t believe that he made it to the team. Along with Justin Troutman, he is just one of two senior leaders on this year’s squad.

While Bradley saw an improvement in Petty’s skills, it was his leadership ability and his willingness to put in the time and effort to get better that impressed the long-time head coach the most.

He has noticed Petty spreads positivity to the rest of the team. When a teammate has an off night, Petty is there to pick them back up. More than anything, he is just happy to be a part of the experience of being on the team.

For someone who constantly searched for his own motivation to get him through the hard times, Petty has certainly been able to spread that positive energy to others.

“We stress to our players to encourage their teammates,” Bradley said.

While Petty has been a motivator for his teammates, he has also been an inspiration for his friends outside of basketball as well. Saliba is one of those friends. Saliba and Petty have known each other for a long time, long enough to know that Petty was there for her at a time when she needed it the most. As Saliba entered her final year as a basketball player for the Orleans girls team, she had a severe leg injury that prevented her from playing any games. She unfortunately had to sit out for the rest of the season. As Saliba was depressed by her injury, Petty was always there for constant support for his friend. 

That’s why Saliba wrote that bible verse and quote on Petty’s shoes. She wanted to give the same support that he gave her at the lowest point in her career.

“Everybody should strive to have inspiration,” Saliba said.

Petty is forever grateful that Saliba was there to give him all that strong faith to hold on to for his final season of basketball. In fact, he’s grateful for everybody who has helped him along the way.

Now, all Petty wants to do is make those people proud of what he’s accomplished. He had a long and challenging journey throughout his basketball career. That includes making it to the team this year. To others, it may not be a big deal, but to Petty, it’s everything. 

“I would like to tell everyone thanks for pushing me harder and helping me become the person I am today,” Petty said.

Petty wants to complete some accomplishments before hanging up his number 20 jersey. He wanted to win a sectional championship and a PLAC championship. Petty and his teammates have already successfully won a PLAC title. 

Along the way, Petty has learned two important things, and all he needs to do to remember them is look down at his shoes. 

Always play hard and no word from God will ever fail.

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Thayer a Well-Known Figure at Orleans

By J.R. Fields

Nestled away on the far wing of Orleans Jr./Sr. High School, Doug Thayer’s classroom is by no means normal. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Right in front of Thayer’s desk is a seemingly random solar panel. A full 2 liter water bottle with an eye dropper in it sits on the counter of the sink. If you move a specific tile of the ceiling, you can find a bowling ball with a string attached. And in the closet is the strangest item of all – a box full of decayed dead dogs and a cat who met their demise a long time ago. These are all parts of Thayer’s unique way of teaching science to the students of Orleans.

“Well, it probably is unique, and I try to make it fun,” Thayer said. “I like what I do. It’s always been my goal to make learning something people want to do, because look what you get out of it. Who doesn’t want to be smarter? I know there are a few folks who have that point of view but I mean, who doesn’t want to be smarter if they answer that truthfully.”

Thayer has been a teacher at Orleans for 33 years and is currently on his 34th. Thayer was born in St. Louis, but he claims he’s from Madison because he spent a majority of his childhood there. His father was a pastor and moved around a lot so he never stayed in a single town for an extended period of time until they moved into Madison. 

He went to Indiana State for his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Physics. He majored in Mathematics and minored in Physics. After that, he moved to Minnesota and started working as an engineer and in construction. After a couple years, he decided to move on to teaching and went to IU and got his graduate degree in School Administration. 

The classes he teaches at Orleans include Geometry, ICP, Business Math, Physics, and Science Research. He has always been interested in figuring out how things work, so he inevitably got interested in physics.

“Growing up, I’ve always loved the thought of teaching,” Thayer said. “I would explain things in construction and people would say ‘Oh, you ought to be a teacher’ and that just reinforced what I was thinking. So, I decided to jump into it.”

Michael Stroud, a former student of Thayer’s and now a science teacher at Orleans himself, said Thayer was always fun in class and made everyone laugh.

“He was a person, a teacher, that you could talk to personally,” Stroud said. “He was always good for a laugh. He always liked to joke around a bit.”

Many former students like Stroud believe Thayer has always hosted a fun class where they learned a lot.

“At first, it was a little different, just coming back as a teacher my first year or two,” Stroud said. “Not only him, I also had other teachers as a student here, whenever I went, so it was a little intimidating I think at first. Once I kind of got used to it, I think it was a lot better and things went a lot smoother. Thayer has helped me out a lot throughout the years, in terms of content and material and things like that.”

Outside of school, Thayer is just as interesting as he is inside of school. He has a multitude of hobbies that include gardening, working part time at Speakeasy Pizza, fixing items around his house, and making things from scratch. Towards the middle of 2021, he started to make a homemade pizza oven for him and his wife. When the planting season starts, he typically grows things like tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and broccoli. 

Even though Thayer has been working at Orleans for 34 years, he doesn’t have plans to retire over the next few years. One reason for this is because he enjoys teaching here at Orleans, and he likes the community here. He just wants to be himself, spreading the teaching of science to the students of the Orleans Community.

For Thayer, his classroom is like his home away from home.

“I mean, this is where I started,” Thayer said. “I definitely like what I do here. The longer I’ve been here, the more people I get to know. That just helps cement relationships with new students when you know so many other people. I probably know half the parents of the students here, if not more. So, it’s like kids know me before they even get here.”

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Jones bounces back from appendicitis

By Billiejean Stevens

Are you familiar with the term appendicitis? Possibly life-threatening, this condition requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean your abdominal cavity. It’s a common surgery, and many people have had it done. One way to remove the appendix is by making one large incision below and to the right of the belly button. This is referred to as an open appendectomy. Even though 1 in 20 people in the United States will experience appendicitis at some point in their lives, most never give their appendix a second thought.

Kasey Jones was one of those people. Jones, a freshman at OHS who just had her appendix removed, never expected to experience the pain of appendicitis. 

Two years ago at the time of the event, she was just 12 years old. She was laying down asleep in her bed when at 10:30 p.m., she woke up from sharp pains coming from her stomach. She had initially just thought that she had an upset stomach, and she got up to go to the bathroom. Instead, she ended up getting sick. It was a pain that worsened if she coughed, walked, or made other jarring movements. She showed her grandmother where the pain was located. It was the right side of her lower abdomen.

“Wait for me,” her grandma said, “I need to get dressed,”

Her grandma quickly got dressed and drove to the emergency room where they waited hours to be seen.

“I was at the hospital for three hours in a room they put us in,” Jones said. “I didn’t get checked in until 3 o’clock in the morning,”

Eventually, Jones’ doctors took an MRI of her pelvis. She was then scheduled for a removal early in the morning at 9:00 a.m. The next day, they headed to the hospital early for what was an hour-long procedure. When the procedure was over, the anesthesia took about 45 minutes to an hour just to wear off. The doctor told her that she would have to avoid any strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise until she was cleared to do so.

Jones had to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days until getting released. Once she was home, she wasn’t allowed to leave the couch for three days. She couldn’t sleep on her back or side. She had to sleep lifted by a pillow upwards when she coughed. She had to have something pressed against her stomach, and she had a swollen stomach for a few days. She constantly felt sick to her stomach. 

Jones is still in the process of healing. She can’t run or do much exercise. It hurts doing workouts that involve her stomach muscles. When it’s time for gym class in the morning, she waits on the bench and does nothing. An excused letter gets her out of doing the exercise.

“When overworking,” Jones said. “I feel like I ripped something again.”

On an uplifting note, Jones has started to pay closer attention to her diet after the harrowing experience. She eats a high-fiber diet with lots of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables to keep herself healthy. She turns away from junk food like cakes and pastries that contain too much sugar and fried foods that are fatty and can irritate the digestive system. 

She is inspired by body positivity and self-care and tries not to be so hard on herself when she looks at her stomach and sees the scars that were left. 

But covering scars is difficult. Foundation inevitably smudges. Accessories can only cover so much skin, and loose linen clothing is often too hot to bear.  These methods are helpful, but Jones wants to pay homage to the different ways in which she can begin to feel more relaxed when showing her skin in the sun. 

Positive self-talks have made her feel good about herself and the things that are going on in her life. To her, it’s like having an optimistic voice in her head that always looks on the bright side. She says stuff like ‘I am doing the best I can’, ‘I look good today’,  or ‘I don’t feel great right now, but things could be worse’.

Only recently has she learned to accept the scars as a permanent part of her body and has found ways to feel better about the appearance of her scars.

“In order to love yourself,” Jones said. “You cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.”

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How to Follow the Dress Code at Orleans

By Bryce Dalton

Rio Anderson walked through the hallways of Orleans Junior High, filled with confidence and swagger. She had picked out a pair of her favorite dark blue shorts to wear to P.E., and as she headed to class, she thought nothing of her outfit other than it looked rather stylish.

Then she heard that questioning voice – the voice of a nearby teacher. According to the teacher, her shorts were in violation of the school dress code. They were too short.

“I was really upset,” Anderson said. “It was really embarrassing.”

Anderson, now a senior, can still vividly remember that moment from five years ago. And she is just one of many Orleans students who have had to make on-the-spot wardrobe changes due to the dress code. 

Orleans Jr./Sr. High School has something called the “dress code.” It’s a code that some students dislike but also respect and tolerate. The dress code is how the school keeps its students looking professional. 

According to the Orleans dress code, students are not permitted to wear hats, or dye their hair to a certain color, or wear piercings of any kind. Students like Anderson respect the code but many still find it hard to follow. 

Here are three ways to follow the rules of the dress code at Orleans Jr./Sr. High School.

Hats and Hoodies

In order to stay under the dress code radar, don’t wear hats or hoodies. One of the school’s administrators, Aaron Freed, has to tell kids every now and then to take off their hats or their hoods while being inside the building. While hats and hoodies have been a hot topic of discussion regarding the dress code, they are just one of the many things Freed has to keep an eye out for as vice principal of the school.

“I only care about if the students are nice to one another,” Freed said. “As much as I don’t like telling kids they have to take their piercings or their hats off, I am being paid to do it.”

Piercings and Hair Color

There are also rules about not wearing piercings and having unnatural hair color. When students are caught with piercings, they are forced to take them out or go home. The same applies with hair color. According to the school administration, these rules are in place to help students look professional and get ready for life outside of school.

“The hair color rule is not intended to make students not change their hair color to whatever they want,” Freed said. “It’s intentions are to make the students look professional for the job, and practice for the real world.”

Short Shorts and Ripped Jeans

When it comes to ripped clothing for males and females, males can’t wear shirts that show a lot of their side profile. Females can wear ripped jeans but there’s a limitation to it. It can’t be ripped any higher than mid-thigh. When violating the dress code for the ripped clothing, students are likely forced to call your parents or guardians to get another piece of clothing to replace the one brought to school.

Whether some students find the dress code strict or not, it is part of the way of life at Orleans. For students like Anderson, it takes just one incident to understand what is expected of them.

“I hope the students and the school’s administration come to some kind of overall agreement,” Anderson said.

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LaRue cherishes first full year at Orleans

By Abbigail McKenna

Teachers are a vital aspect of children’s lives. Whether teachers know it or not, they are ideal icons for more students than they realize. People all over the world go on to live their dream just because the teacher they looked up to the most said they believed in them. In some cases, teachers mean more to students than their own parents. Teachers are there to help students succeed in life academically. However, the teachers who are able to have a simple connection with each student individually are often the most successful.

In the eyes of many students at Orleans Jr./Sr. High School, one of those teachers is Jacob LaRue.

LaRue is seen as a calm and collected guy. His simple “good morning” to all students as they walk through the hallways is sometimes the best part of their days. He is kind and pays attention. He pays attention to the small things, and that is something many of his students hope to do in their future with whatever career they choose. 

He may notice the difference with how a student is doing compared to the day before. Even if he is unable to help, he always tries to be there to listen. His classroom may not be the perfect temperature, nor may it be the coolest, or the one with the most color, but for many students, LaRue’s presence makes it perfect. 

One of those students is Jamie Clay.  Last semester, she was in his class almost all day for credit recovery and French. She feels LaRue will sit and listen to anything she needs to get off her chest, and he helps in any way he can. 

“LaRue is very independent and has high expectations for his students,” Clay said. “He is very open with his students and is super understanding.”

LaRue is 27 years old and originally from Martinsville, Indiana. He went to IU and graduated in 2016 and took a job straight out of college working in the plasma industry. During his time working for the plasma industry, he was transferred to California, then Texas. He didn’t really enjoy that, so he moved back to Indiana and settled down. From there, he met his wife, Megan, and got a house and some dogs. After he moved back to Indiana, he started doing odd jobs like DoorDash. From there, he took a job in merchandising at a company called Best Beers.

When LaRue got laid off from Best Beers, his wife, who is the social worker at Orleans Elementary said that the school is always looking for a substitute. As a kid, he always remembered being told he’d be a good teacher or a good coach, and he thought this would be a good way to do both. He ended up being a full-time substitute before getting hired as the Spanish and French teacher this year. 

When LaRue first got hired as the Spanish and French teacher, he didn’t have anything for the students to do, and he didn’t have any teaching material. But through much hard work, he found a way to make it work.

“My experience here has been amazing,” LaRue said. “I was only getting kids through the day at first. And then this year has been an even bigger eye opener, too. I’ve been able to actually put together teaching plans, and I’ve been able to help students with Spanish and French, also with credit recovery. I’ve been able to get a coaching job over at the grade school with fifth-grade basketball. So it’s definitely been hard, but it’s also been very rewarding.” 

Even though this transition has been difficult at times, LaRue said teaching feels like something he could do for a very long time.

“Well, from prior experience, it would tell me that I would get worn out, but from what I have been doing for the past year and a half now, it is something I can see as a life-long career,” LaRue said. “I’ve already tried to get my teacher’s license for social studies, but unfortunately, I couldn’t pass the test the first time, so I have to go back and do that. So there have been some mistakes and some errors for me to get it, but I think in the long run, it is something that I will be doing for a while.”   

While he is still somewhat new to the teaching profession, LaRue has developed his own approach and style. He focuses on building personal relationships with his students above all else. Sometimes that means having a deep one-on-one conversation with a student that is struggling that day. Other times, it might just be a simple smile and “hello” in the hallway.

Whether it is a student like Clay who is in LaRue’s all hours of the day or a student who had LaRue as a substitute last year, many are taking notice of the care and passion he brings to school everyday. 

For LaRue it’s the simple “hellos” back that make it all worth it. 

“I think the coolest thing is being recognized by the kids I had last year,” LaRue said. “You know, going out into the public and seeing kids I had last year or going to sporting events and having students come up and say ‘Hey Mr. LaRue, how was your day?’ Just having the outside communication is pretty cool because it just shows you that you’re actually doing something with the students in the classroom and also outside of the classroom.”

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Seniors Take Different Routes to Graduation

By J.R. Fields

With a distraught expression, Rali Anderson walked into the school where she would spend most of her time for the next 10 months. Her older brother, Raine, had just told Anderson that their mother had left them there for good, which caused Anderson, who was just starting her first day of her Kindergarten year, to be overcome with sadness. Eventually, her brother told her that it was all a joke, and Anderson felt embarrassed about the way her brother tricked her. In her first few days, she mainly hung around her twin sister, Rio Anderson, and her friend from before Kindergarten even started, Katie McFarland.

Meanwhile, Garrett Price had just moved to this new school halfway through that same Kindergarten year. He originally moved to Orleans from Perry Central. He was really nervous about coming to a new environment from a place he had lived all his life. The person he mainly hung around was his cousin, Braxton Beuchler.

These two stories are from students who have been going to the exact same school ever since Kindergarten and are now seniors in high school. The only difference between these two people is the placement in their class and how they got those positions. Anderson is tied for the highest position in her graduating class while Price is number 11 of the class. Anderson is a part of seven different extracurricular groups. Price is only a part of two. 

Everyone has their different priorities. As it happens to be, Anderson prioritizes school and extracurricular activities heavily. Meanwhile Price, on the other hand, prioritizes life outside of school just as much as he prioritizes school.

***

Anderson is currently one of the top ten seniors in her class at Orleans Jr/Sr. High School, while also being involved in many extracurricular activities. The extracurricular activities include being a Vice President in the National Honors Society, Vice President of Tri-Hi-Y, a pep-club member, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), Student Council, cheer, and she is undecided about being a part of track and field in the spring.

The way she maintains her top ranking status is by using different means to study any chance she gets and not sleeping. She spends most of her time either studying in various ways or participating in one of her extracurricular activities. The way she mainly studied was in a very organized and diligent manner that involved writing a lot of notes and color coding things for future reference. Through the use of these options, she has always been on top of her assignments and tests. 

She is currently ready to graduate so she can pursue what she wants beyond high school. Anderson plans on going to Ivy Tech for an Associates Degree of Science in Radiation after she graduates. 

While Anderson is excited for what the future holds for her, there is a little sadness that comes with moving on. More than anything, she’ll miss the friendships she gained from all those study sessions and extracurricular activities.

“I think the people at school know that I will always love them, and they’ll have a big place in my heart because obviously I’ve been going here since Kindergarten,” Anderson said. “Then, there are like a group of ten people that have been here since I have been [going to Kindergarten]. And I’ll always feel like I’ll remember them, but I am so ready to graduate. I’m so ready to get out of high school and start anew and do what I actually want to do and be able to study and spend all my time on what I love.”

***

Price is also currently a senior at Orleans Jr/Sr. High School, but he has taken a significantly different route to graduation than Anderson. Price only participates in track and Facts of Life, freeing him up to focus more on his time outside of school.

 Back when Price was participating in more extracurricular activities, such as basketball, he found it difficult to study and maintain solid grades, but after moving on, he found that he had significantly more time to study and do homework. While he doesn’t study to the extent that Anderson does with color-coded flash cards and such, he has developed his own personal methods. He doesn’t try to put too much stress on himself, studying for short intervals before moving on with his day. It’s a strategy that has worked for him as he has inched his way closer to the top 10.

Price is glad that high school is finally ending, but he wishes he could spend more time at Orleans. After graduating high school, he plans on going to college or a trade school to become a mechanic. He is also going to try and keep in contact with his friends such as Justin Troutman, Otto Jenkins, Braeden Petty, and Sebastian Breedlove.

“I am glad that high school is coming to an end, but at the same time, I wish it didn’t go as fast as it did,” Price said.

***

These are two seniors who have been going to the same school for basically all their lives. They are both eager to graduate and progress with life. While Anderson and Price have taken different paths to get to this point in their academic careers, they’ve both cherished their time at Orleans equally. 

“While my time in Orleans seemed short, I’ve met so many great teachers, and I really enjoyed most of their classes,” Price said.

Anderson still sits atop the senior rankings in the first-place spot that she has shared with her sister, Rio, since the beginning of high school. Meanwhile, Price has worked his way all the way up to 11th in the rankings.

They are different students with different rankings, but they will always consider themselves Bulldogs.

“I am filled with overwhelming joy because I get to forever be an Orleans Bulldog,” Anderson said.