Trendy Halloween costumes this 2021

By: Fatima Mohamud & Sumaya Noor

With Halloween right around the corner, there’s been a surge in Halloween costume searching. From ‘Squid Game’ to Britney Spears, and D.C. characters, 2021 has brought fresh ideas for this year’s spooky season.

The most popular demand for 2021 is the familiar ‘Squid Game’ uniforms, from the Korean drama show that took the world by storm this fall. Featuring insanely famous characters like Kang Sae-byeok and Seong Gi-hun, fans have scrambled for their numbered outfits. The iconic pink jumpsuit with shaped masks and green jumpsuit will be a game changer this Halloween season.

Following close by is Britney Spears, the popular pop singer that has been dominating celebrity news. “Free Britney”, the movement that’s been all over social media has caused her to spike in Halloween Costume searches. Costumes inspired by her will be from past and iconic music video looks. “Toxic” Britney’s outfit is in high demand, as well as “Baby One More Time”, “Oops! I did it again”, and “Slave 4 U”, all of which have been deemed classics in the Pop industry.

Another highly demanded cosplay is Harley Quinn from D.C. Comics. Featured as The Joker’s henchwoman and wife, she has also influenced google searches for Halloween costumes. Adorned with her crazy makeup, signature bat and colorful pigtails, Harley is selling out on popular websites such as Amazon. People are now also choosing to go out as couples, dressing as both Harley Quinn and The Joker. Either way, she’s a fun choice to dress up as, and there are plenty versions of her classic outfit to choose from.

Following close by is the iconic angel and devil duo. Often coordinated with red and black for the devil, and white, yellow and pale blue for the angel. This costume has been a hit for years and you’re bound to see others participating in this popular duo. Although the wings, horns, and trident can get expensive, many people are creative enough to make it themselves.

Many stores have been sold out of this big hit game ‘Among us’. A popular space influenced game talked much among kids has been all over news, stores, and even social media sites. Brands have made kids toys, such as Pop-it’s and figures. This idea makes a great costume for young ones, though the price may be high. The shape may also cause a problem if you want to be accurate. This costume is very fragile if you’re going for the correct size, it usually is inflatable and built with soft skin for breathing easier.

All over the world the big hit star Ariana Grande released the song “7 rings”. Fans around the world were obsessed and had a plan set for what their costume was going to look like. Grab your sparkly necklaces, hair accessories, and a silver dress, tie your hair up in a tall ponytail and you’re set for the best song related costume. Although this may not be appropriate for younger children, this is the perfect outfit to show up to a party with.

Pennywise, the iconic clown from the movie ‘IT’, had many fans intrigued for how people would spend their Halloween deciding what to dress up as. This movie was a great horror and really fit the ideal for scaring your friends or neighbors. Although this costume has many downsides, such as complexity and looking at yourself in the mirror to put on the make-up, this costume is sure to get your friends spooked for Halloween this year.

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How standardized testing affects mental health

By: Mary Koch

Standardized tests are used in many different countries around the world to understand better what students know and what they have learned. It seems like a simple and effective way to see students’ knowledge on different topics, but they don’t always have the most accurate or helpful outcomes.

Tests give students anxiety which can worsen their performances. Many colleges and universities rely on testing when they’re going through applications. With so much riding on these tests, and so much pressure put on students, it shouldn’t be surprising that their work isn’t always their best.

Students who have more responsibilities outside of school, are in advanced classes, or have extracurricular activities have a lower chance of doing well, and many parents and guardians are very concerned with their students performing well. Extra stress from parents and being generally overworked gives students a general dislike for school and the education system.

Cortisol is a hormone the body produces when under stress. In a study done in Texas, students on average actually have 15% more cortisol the morning of a test than they do on a regular day.

Tests’ pressure on students has been proven to increase depression and anxiety. Scores have also caused low self esteem. When low scores are earned, disapproval from parents and guardians, and also themselves, is common, and students often feel like failures or like they’re not good enough.

With students who have a lot to do in and out of school, adding hours of study time a night isn’t good for their wellbeing. Even for students who have more time at home, or are taking easier classes, having to spend all your time studying and practicing for tests is unfair.

Standardized tests aren’t completely accurate. Different circumstances for students should be taken into consideration, so the students have a better chance of succeeding.

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Is Mike Zimmer the problem in Minnesota?

By: Abby Altman

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To put it simply, yes. The Vikings are sitting rather uncomfortably at 3-3, 6 weeks into the NFL season. The team is loaded both on offense and defense, and aside from a questionable kicker, should have no reason to not be above .500. 

Last season, the Vikings went a disappointing 7-9. Most of the blame for this record was placed on the shoulders of Kirk Cousins, which is proving itself false this season. 

Cousins has a 69% completion rate through 6 games this season, averaging 294 yards per game. His leadership has soared this year, looking more connected to everyone except his coaches. 

The Minnesota Vikings should not have 3 losses. Many key players are leading the team to impressive stats, that should be helping the team soar to potentially a 5-1 record. The wide receiver trio, Thielen, Jefferson, and Osborn, have combined for 1,200 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. On the rushing side of things, Cook and Mattison have filled in nicely for each other, with Cook having 366 yards in 4 games, and Mattison with 225 yards in the 2 games Cook did not play. 

On defense, things are looking much better than recent years. Notable stars this season have been Erik Kendricks, Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, and Everson Griffin. These starters have a combined 89 tackles and 10 sacks. 

Mike Zimmer is a defensive coach. He’s been defensive coordinator for the Bengals, Falcons, and Cowboys in his years in the NFL. He’s been head coach for the Vikings since 2014, with a fairly decent track record. Since Mike Zimmer’s reign began back in 2014, the Vikings have gone 67-50, which puts them at .572. 

Previous seasons, including one of the most successful seasons for the Vikings in recent years, have been partially led by former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski is currently head coach for the Cleveland Browns, who are 4-3, with the Vikings being one of their wins. Stefanski had been replaced by Gary Kubiak at OC. Kubiak left at the end of last year, and his sone Clint is now OC. This is not helping to make better play calls. He and Zimmer have been major problems, especially against Cleveland and Detroit this year. 

If you watch this season carefully, you can tell that Zimmer doesn’t know how to properly run an offense. He is far too conservative when it comes to moving the ball, which has resulted many times in bringing out the punting or kicking squad, which doesn’t end well a lot of the time, but Minnesota kickers are another story. 

Mike Zimmer doesn’t manage his team correctly, and plays too conservatively. In the NFL, you need to play to win. Zimmer is just trying not to lose. Can he put more trust in his team for these next 10 games to put his team in position to make the playoffs? That remains to be seen, but as of right now, Mike Zimmer is the problem in Minnesota. 

How does the media impact the way we look at dictatorships?

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

The media’s impact on dictatorships can be both positive and negative.

Dictatorship is “government by a dictator.”

According to the Open Society Foundation, “For years, policymakers and pundits alike have predicted that dictatorships will collapse under the power of the internet and social media.” This has a negative impact. The word collapsing normally is used in situations where things are not going well. The internet is uncontrolled and is typically not monitored. Many things are said on the internet that aren’t ever said in person.

Facebook is another social media platform that has impacted the elections. According to ‘The Atlanta,’ “The potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade.” Research from Rebecca Rosen’s 2012 story, “Did Facebook Give Democrats the Upper Hand?” showed that, “a small design change by Facebook could have electoral repercussions, especially with America’s electoral-college format in which a few hotly contested states have a disproportionate impact on the national outcome.” On Facebook there is a clear pro-liberal and pro-republican effect implied. This shows based on how many “campaign staffers, reporters, and academics viewed social media.”

The different layers all play a role in the media’s impact overall, the application layer especially. Given the ability to share information can impact the way people look at dictatorships.

According to the National Interest, “Most governments are resistant to change when compared to protest movements, which are nimble, experimental and led by younger voices. Dictatorships often lack ways to understand public opinion.”

I gathered opinions from students. I asked the question: “How has the media impacted your view on the elections in the past?”

A freshman said, “I don’t really keep up with politics. It is a very controversial topic that could end really bad fast.”

A senior said, “I normally follow the person I want to win. I keep up with what they’re saying and doing. I may not be able to vote but I can help persuade the adults in my life to vote.”

Season premiere of ‘The Bachelorette’

Season 18 of ‘The Bachelorette’, which has Michelle Young, premiered on ABC on October 19, 2021. Helping her along her journey to find love are returning host, and former Bachelorette’s, Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe. The two hosts hosted Katie Thurston from last season, who got engaged in the finale to Blake Moynes. Both Katie and Michelle were from Matt James’ season of ‘The Bachelor’, with Michelle finishing as the runner-up.

Michelle is a 28-year-old teacher, and former Division I basketball player, from Edina, Minnesota. In ‘After the Final Rose’ both her and Katie were announced as The Bachelorette, with Katie going first, so that Michelle could film during the summer when she was not teaching.

On night one she was introduced to 30 men who would be competing for her heart: Alec Thompson, Garett Aida, JoMarri Gable, Nayte Olukoya, Olumide Onajide, Pardeep Singh, Clayton Echard, Mollique Johnson, Chris Sutton, Casey Woods, Ryan Fox, PJ Henderson, Bryan Witzmann, Brandon J., Brandon Kieffer, Christopher Gallant, Daniel Tully, Edward Naranjo, Jamie Skaar, Joe Coleman, Jack Russell, Leroy Arthur, LT Murray IV, Martin Gelbspan, Peter Izzo, Rick Leach, Rodney Mathews, Romeo Alexander, Spencer Williams, and Will Urena.

In an effort to impress her, one of her constants showed up in a school bus, another dressed in an apple, and one gave her Mardi Gras beads, plus one guy showed up with his head on a literal platter for her. But she could only give out one first impression rose which went to Nayte Olukoya from Austin, Texas, who won her heart over by talking to her about wanting to create a loving household with his future wife.

And of course, this wouldn’t be a reality TV show without drama. One of the contestants, Ryan Fox, who showed up in an ice cream truck, brought a playbook of how to get more screen time on the show and how not be a villain. Michelle sat him down to talk about it, but he made a lot of excuses and Michelle sent him home right away before the Rose Ceremony even started.

After that drama, it was time for the Rose Ceremony; she sent six guys home leaving 23 remaining. These men were Brandon Kieffer, JoMarri Gable, Edward Naranjo, Garrett Aida, Bryan Witzmann, and Jack Russel.

Another twist of the night, was that Michelle knew one of the contestants, Joe Coleman, they had been messaging each other for a while until he ghosted her but Michelle decided to give him another chance and gave her final Rose to him.

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A perspective on Highlands response to COVID-19

By: Musab Mohamud

A growing concern among Highland Park students is that the reopening of schools may spike COVID. Conversely, many students are excited to return to friends, teachers, and sports. A quote taken from one student, who is conflicted about both, reads “It’s better for learning, but not peoples health.” Released from the confines of quarantine, students are more likely to contract COVID evidenced by the spike of cases that has been surging since July.

However, Highland Park’s response to COVID has been exceedingly positive with no outbreaks or school closures. This is in part due to the school’s insistence on a mask mandate and teachers giving gentle reminders to students.

Students are pleasantly surprised with their peers following mask rules and being courteous with sanitation.

Lunchrooms might however pose a problem with students being seated in close quarters with their masks down. However, with the implementation of contract tracing and scanning where students sit in the cafeteria, I believe, that Highland is being responsible for their students.

Many students fear that their sudden reintegration into a school environment will affect their grades negatively. A quote that shows this is: “I think Highland has had a fair response to COVID, my teachers should definitely assign less work though.” This sentiment is shared by many students whose grades continue to falter.

However, on the opposite side of the spectrum there are multiple students who I’ve interviewed who believe that seeing their teachers will help academically. A quote by one of those individuals goes: “I like it more because we can experience real life learning again, it’s more efficient.”

Overall, most students share the belief that Highland has shown competence in their dealings with reopening. Some may have apprehension and fear about going back, but the feeling is overwhelmingly positive.

Mental benefits of pets

By: Sarah VonBerge

It is still unknown how and why pets seem to help with mental health. Pets don’t only affect your mental health, but, depending on the kind, also affect your physical health. Pets have been shown to decrease stress, improve heart health, and also teach children emotional and social skills.

It is estimated that 68% of all US households have some sort of pet. Studies have shown that having a pet has decreased the stress causing hormone, called cortisol, lowers blood pressure, boosts mood, reduces loneliness, and increases feelings of support. Owning something like a fish or guinea pig would help mainly with your mental health whereas having a pet like a dog will also affect your physical health. NIH is looking into creating a wide scale survey to find how the bond with their animal helps the owner(s).

Animals serve as forms of comfort as well. Sometimes watching fish swim can bring up a feeling of calmness. Therapy animals are brought around a lot, especially therapy dogs. They are often brought into nursing homes and hospitals to help comfort people.

However, people need to make sure to figure out how to bring animals around others in hospitals and nursing homes safely. Even though animals can help reduce stress and boost moods, they also bring germs and we need to make sure that animals don’t spread deadly germs between animals and patients.

Dogs have also been used to aid in the classroom. Dogs have been shown to, again, reduce stress and depression but have also recently been shown to help focus those who are affected by ADHD. Researchers took 2 groups of children with ADHD to see how dogs affect them.

In the 12 week long experiment, one group read to puppets for 30 minutes once a week and one group read to dogs for 30 minutes once a week. At the end, it was shown that the group who read to the dogs improved at cooperation, volunteering, social skills and sharing more than the group who read to puppets.

Another study found that kids with autism became calmer when playing with guinea pigs. During the 10 minute supervised play time with the guinea pigs, their anxiety levels dropped and they became better at social interactions and were more engaged with their peers.

One reason animals can help humans is because they bring new responsibilities. Even if your mental health is causing you to neglect yourself, you can not neglect your animal, or they will get sick or even die. Being able to recognize animals’ signs of stress or fatigue will all reflect on being able to recognize other people’s emotions.

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Sports schedule for 10/25 – 10/30

7:00pm Volleyball vs. South St. PaulHOME
7:00pm5:00pm / 8:45pmFootball vs. Harding/Humboldtat Harding High School
Girls – 3:30pm Boys – 4:15pm Boys / Girls Cross Country Sectionsat Valleywood Golf Course
7:00pm Volleyball Section SemifinalsHOME
3:00pm Football Section SemifinalsTBD

Origins of Halloween

By: Annika Getz

Celebrations surrounding the dead or death can be found all over the world, and all throughout history. Pretty much every country has a holiday which is similar to America’s Halloween.

Halloween itself has a rich history, originally coming from the Celtic holiday, Samhain (pronounced saw-win, so-ween, or soo-when). Samhain was celebrated from October 31st to November 1st, and was thought to be the beginning of the new year. It served as an autumnal equinox, a winter solstice, a spring equinox, and a summer solstice. The veil between the land of the dead and the land of the living was thought to be thinner than ever, and therefore, souls could pass between worlds for the night. Divination was also thought to be at its most powerful, so many fortunes were told.

The Druids kicked off the celebration by lighting a bonfire, and dancing around it. This was meant to keep the evil spirits at bay. They also threw the bones of sacrificed cattle into the fire (this is where the word bonfire comes from, bone-fire). They then smeared ash on their face to disguise themselves from ill-intending spirits. This grew into wearing masks or costumes, which of course, evolved into Halloween costumes. That night, the Celts would leave their doors open, and leave out the favorite foods of their passed-away loved ones, in hopes that they would visit them in the night.

This celebration was changed after the Romans took control of Celtic land. It became Feralia, which commemorated the passing of the dead, and celebrated the Goddess Pomona. People put gifts on graves, where spirits were said to hover over for the day.

In the seventh century CE, Pope Gregory IV came up with the idea of All Saints’ Day, which was a part of the three day festival called Allhallowtide. This celebration began with All Hallows’ Eve, then had the Feast of All Saints’ day the next evening, and concluded with All Souls’ day (which originated in the 8th century CE, in a French monastery, then spread through Europe).

These traditions were brought to North America by the British (though it was initially rejected by the Puritans). Many traditions spread through the United States somewhere around 1845, after the Irish potato famine, which caused displacement of many Irish people.

The rest of our modern day Halloween traditions were soon incorporated into these traditions. Some examples include: Jack-o-lanterns came from an Irish folk tale, trick or treating originated in people going house to house, asking for soul-cakes, which were small cakes that had crosses cut into the top, and etc.

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Schools and food waste

By: Marcus Lund

School lunch sometimes sucks. It occasionally either tastes gross, the texture is just off, or there’s something else wrong with the meal. And let’s be real, nobody eats those green beans. So, inevitably, something gets thrown away.

According to a new study from the World Wildlife Foundation, U.S. schools waste 530,000 tons of food yearly, costing around $1.7 billion. This much food in weight is equivalent to 76,000 school buses. That’s a massive problem.

Additionally, the U.S. is much worse at controlling its school food-waste than other developed countries. According to a cafeteria audit from Penn State, food waste from countries like Sweden, Italy, and Spain ranged from an average of 23%-30% of the food served, whereas the U.S. ‘s ranged from 30%-50% of the food served. This means that out of the food that we receive, most students throw away at least a third.

So, how do we combat this problem?

People around the nation have been trying different methods. The Boulder Valley School District in Colorado is one of nine participants in a pilot program launched in 2019, where students go through different measures to decrease their waste. Signs around the cafeteria remind students not to take more than they can eat, and classes are held with farmers to connect students to the food that they throw away.

Food waste audits also create noticeable impacts on waste amounts, with one held by WWF decreasing food waste by 3%, which could lead to $52 million in cost cuts if implemented around the nation.

Before COVID, The Burlington School District in Vermont allowed cartons of milk and other untouched items to be placed on share tables. After school, much of that food is taken home by students or eaten as an after school snack.

Across the nation, many different methods have been used to lessen the amount of wasted food. How will Highland Park step up?

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