Durant High School Journalism

Senior Smith Sees Leadership In Her Future

Madison+Smith

Durant Yearbook

Madison Smith

Madison Smith has truly left her mark on the Cougar family.

Smith spoke of the memories she has made at Durant, and how her experience at the school have allowed her to have a one-of-a-kind high school experience. One of her favorite memories, she said, is when she received a Diamond Award for her AP research project on sexual misconduct and rape culture in schools. This was a hard subject to tackle her junior year, and it required a lot of motivation from her peers and teachers. Mary Martin and Holley Kimble, Smith’s AP Research and AP Capstone teachers at Durant, helped Smith focus on such a mature topic and kept her motivated to complete the enormous project. Smith said receiving the Diamond Award for this endeavor was especially powerful because she was presented with the honor by Martin and Kimble. Additionally, as testament to Smith’s hard-working and determined character, she did not just submit her project to her teachers-rather, she created a policy plan that she will present to a state representative and to the school board at a later date.

Smith also holds titles as a nationally ranked creed speaker for Future Farmers of America, a finalist for United States Senate Youth Program, and AP Scholar with Distinction, and was additionally featured as a calendar girl her sophomore year. Smith also received an award for her work with Tampa Bay Beautiful. She was awarded this year’s National English Honors Society scholarship. Smith is also in the top ten of her graduating class.

Smith will be attending the University of Central Florida this fall, and will be majoring in both Political Science and Public Administration with a minor in Women’s and Gender studies. She hopes to maintain a Pre-Law degree track and attend graduate school to become a lawyer.

“Sometimes you make more of a difference behind the scenes.””

— Madison Smith

One of Smith’s favorite quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg that she takes to heart is “Fight for the things you care about but do so in a way that will lead others to join you.” This has made Smith have such confidence in her abilities.

When talking to Madison many of her peers have made the comment of her being president someday and that could be so. She mentioned that many times when dealing with politics from talking to senators and presenting her own bills, to holding town halls and working on campaigns, that mid-conversation she has had the thought of “I could literally do a better job than them”. Which has empowered her to try and do so and helped her realize that “sometimes you make more of a difference behind the scenes” which will help her find where she needs to be.

When looking back on her years as a Durant Cougar there are a lot of people to thank. Being extremely thankful towards her teachers who have given her the knowledge she needs to succeed and her parents who have provided for her and of course her friends who have supported her, she has received many blessings that have helped her to senior year. Another person she really thanks is her boyfriend Caleb Stenger, who every time she doubted herself he would act as if it was so foreign and unacceptable that she was unable to accomplish something that enforced her to believe the same which pushed her to her goals. When she was nervous about something, he would act like it was crazy because of the kind of person she was, which helped her realize how capable she is. Most important she shared that he always brought her down to earth and showed her that there can be so much more outside of just school in order to have her achieve in areas other than being a student.

For her following peers at Durant she reminds them to remember the importance of being humble and staying kind. She shares that there will always be someone smarter no matter how hard you push yourself so don’t focus on the competition of things but be proud of your accomplishments you have received.

About the Contributor
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Marina Hawkins, Social Media Coordinator, Photo Editor

Marina Hawkins is a junior at Durant and is the Photo Editor and the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of the Varsity...

Senior Brianna Hayes is Durant Cadet of the Year

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Brianna Hayes

Durant High School’s Air Force JROTC program has produced some of the top cadets in Hillsborough County. Durant senior Brianna Hayes was named Durant High School’s Cadet of the Year this year and she was also named a top 10 cadet in all of Hillsborough County.

In an interview, Hayes said “I’ve won multiple awards from National awards for JROTC.” Hayes is not only recognized at her school but is recognized around the United States. Hayes said “receiving the top 10 award means I actually did something great throughout high school that people have noticed. It shows me that I pushed myself from freshman year all the way through my senior year helping people and doing what I love.”

Brianna Hayes

Hayes joined JROTC because she wanted to be more confident and wanted the opportunities that the JROTC program offers. When she first joined JROTC, she said “I was really shy and did not talk to anybody, but now I talk to everyone that walks by and I have the respect from other cadets and students to where they come to me if they need anything.”

Hayes is headed to college to do ROTC for the United States Air Force and she is planning to enter the Air Force as an officer. Hayes’ dream is to become President of the United States of America. She credits her leadership skills that she learned from JROTC in helping her set this goal.

About the Writer
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Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

DHS Senior, Denim Hughes, Encourages Underclassmen to Make the Most of Their Durant Years

Denim+Hughes

Retrieved from Plant City Observer

Denim Hughes

Throughout Denim Hughes’ high school career, she has worked exceptionally hard to set herself up for success, as well as make a difference in our school and community.

Since the first time she set foot on Durant, she was determined to make the most of her time in high school. To her, Freshmen Council was the perfect opportunity to get involved and make her classmates just as excited as she was for the years to come. As a freshman Hughes joined Student Council, she was Historian freshman and sophomore year, which prepared her for presidency her junior year. Her love for being involved quickly grew as she found herself participating in several other clubs, including President Elect Club, TV Club, and National Honor Society, and serving as president of Rotary Interact Club.

“One piece of advice is to go out of your comfort zone and adventure beyond your bubble. It’s worth it,” Hughes says.”

— Denim Hughes

Hughes also found a love for expressing herself through pageants, her first one ever being the annual Calendar Girl Pageant that she participated in her junior year. From here, she knew that pageants were the perfect way for her to express her messages of confidence and self-expression. Growing up as a Plant City native, the obvious next step for her was to participate in the 2020 Strawberry Festival Pageant. Hughes felt that participating in these pageants was a perfect way for her to meet many new supportive people

“One piece of advice is to go out of your comfort zone and adventure beyond your bubble. It’s worth it,” Hughes says.

After Durant, she plans to double major in Statistics and Marketing, and minor in Psychology at Florida State University. Durant has shaped her into being a person that is hungry for learning and craves an education. “There are so many people at Durant that have made an impact in molding me into who I am today. Mr. Sawyer sticks out in particular because not only did he reinforce the ‘heart over height’ moral into my head, but he also taught me the importance in having genuine love, care, and interest in others,” she says.

As a senior leaving Durant and entering the real world, the idea of being a small fish in the big pond becomes very real again. Hughes leaves off with reminding the incoming freshmen of Durant with a few words of advice: “You are now at your final stages of adolescence. Enjoy the moment and try everything. Just go for it; you never knew you liked McDonald’s until you tried it. Enjoy your last years of freedom before you start paying the bills.”

About the Writer
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Jennifer Dages, Editor-in-Chief of Writing

Jennifer Dages is a senior at Durant High School and is the Editor-in-Chief of Writing for PawPrint newspaper. In her free time, she practices Brazilian...

Personius’ Message to Underclassmen: Be True to Yourself

Alyssa+Personius

Durant Yearbook

Alyssa Personius

Alyssa Personius is among the top ten students of the class of 2020 that has worked exceptionally hard to get her where she is today.

Not only is she academically driven, but she’s also very involved in multiple community-service based clubs. From the time she set foot on Durant, she was instantly captivated by how involved Durant students are in the community, and knew she wanted to be a part of that. The Students All Connected Club (SAC) was one of the first clubs that she became involved in, as it provided her with the opportunity to develop leadership skills that she will be able to utilize in college, as well in a future career.

Through her involvement in several clubs, she found that she was not just becoming involved more in the school, but that she was becoming a part of a family. With the help of many students and teachers, the Durant family was one she was proud to be a part of, and one she will never forget. “A lot of people at Durant have influenced and made a significant impact on me, but a few that stick out in particular are Mrs. Griffith, Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Scolaro, and Mrs. Fearon,” Personius mentions.

After high school, Alyssa plans to attend the University of Florida where she intends to pursue a career in architecture and design. Her interest in art along with her mother’s occupation as a real estate agent allowed her to develop an interest in studying art and design; she wants to one day design houses herself.

“My favorite memories of Durant are the pep rallies, especially when our class won. I love to think back to our first pep rally we won freshmen year, and singing with the whole school.””

— Alyssa Personius

The spirit of Durant will always come to Alyssa’s mind when she thinks back to her high school years. Compared to other high schools, Durant has a unique family-like environment. From the football games to the theatre plays, each club and student serve an important role in creating Durant’s big family. To Alyssa, pep rallies were among her favorite experiences, because they were the few times a year that the whole school got together and celebrated what it means to be a Durant Cougar. “My favorite memories of Durant are the pep rallies, especially when our class won. I love to think back to our first pep rally we won freshmen year, and singing with the whole school,” Alyssa says.

As senior year wraps up, Alyssa, along with every other senior, prepares for a new life ahead. Being a freshman is not an unfamiliar feeling to seniors, and so Alyssa leaves off with a word of advice to the incoming freshmen at Durant. “The best advice I could give to a freshman is to be unapologetically yourself and to always be outgoing. I feel like as a freshman and sophomore I would hold back a lot and not want to say what I felt, but that doesn’t get you anywhere.”

About the Contributor
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Meghan Dulay, Editor-in-Chief of Design

Meghan Dulay is a senior at Durant High School and she is Editor-in-Chief of Design for the PawPrint newspaper. Meghan is part of many other clubs at Durant,...

Wrestling Is Family For Durant Grad Hendon Haley

Hendon+Haley

Hendon Haley

Hendon Haley is a senior at Durant High School. His passion for wrestling started about 12 years ago when his oldest brother, who was a freshman at Durant at the time, introduced the sport to Haley. Haley, along with his three older brothers, has wrestled ever since.

In the wrestling season of 2019, he was Hillsborough county champion, regional champion, and placed fourth in the state of Florida. Haley is most proud of his success at the state tournaments.

“It’s the biggest thing that I’ve gotten out of all my hard work,” said Haley. “That is something I’ll never forget and something very important to me, it was really everything I wanted.”

This past year, Haley was again a Hillsborough County champion, but he also was district champion, placed third in regionals, and was a state qualifier.

“Something that motivates me would definitely be my brothers because they have always been there for me in the practice room and they’ve done very well themselves in high school,” said Haley.”

— Hendon Haley

“The hardest part about wrestling is that it is an individual sport. It is one hundred percent up to you and how you perform as a wrestler,” said Haley.

Haley has been able to progress over the years and create a positive mindset going into his matches. He strives to be the best he can be and is supported by the motivation from his brothers.

“Something that motivates me would definitely be my brothers because they have always been there for me in the practice room and they’ve done very well themselves in high school,” said Haley.

Haley came into high school naturally motivated to either match or top his brothers in wrestling. He says that it is good to look up to people who are the best at what you do and learn from them. Haley also looks up to Jordan Burroughs, Olympic athlete and four-time world champion freestyle wrestler.

He has wrestled for Durant wrestling since his freshman year and was the captain for the 2019-2020 wrestling season. All four of his brothers were also captain of the Durant team. He takes the role of being a captain seriously and works hard to make sure the team strives for success.

“It’s a very important job and that’s how you build teams, you got to start with good leadership,” said Haley.

Haley has plans to attend Florida college, a Christian college in Temple Terrace. He doesn’t plan on continuing wrestling in college, but he wants a role in the wrestling community as either a coach, referee, or as someone who helps individuals with wrestling techniques.

Haley will miss his wrestling family after high school. He plans to keep in touch with teammates and attend Durant wrestling tournaments.

“We have one of the longest seasons of any other high school sport, so to be together with guys like that every day in the room for so long I’m going to miss that family aspect of just being there and grinding through hard times,” said Haley.

About the Writer
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Adamari Jaimez, Staff Writer

Adamari Jaimez is a junior at Durant High School. She was a staffer for the Durant yearbook and then became a Staff Writer for the Pawprint newspaper to...

Christopher Dello Russo Wins Gold Key at 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

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The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are given to young artists and writers who are enrolled in high school that have exceptional artistic skills and literary talents. Students across North America can submit to any of the 29 categories; and, in 2019, over 320,000 works were submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest. Students from public schools, private schools, and students who are homeschooled are all welcome to submit something to any of the 29 categories. About 300,000 dollars is given out every year for scholarships to the winners.

Winners are recognized at a local ceremony near the student’s school district. However, top placers, titled Gold Key winners, move on from this ceremony to a national contest. If selected nationally, these students are honored with an award presentation in New York City at Carnegie Hall.

Durant High School student Christopher Dello Russo, a 2020 Gold Key winner for poetry and short stories, said he likes to write about horror and comedy. Dello Russo said he writes because he enjoys writing. Dello Russo began writing in fifth grade after reading the Percy Jackson book series, which encouraged him to read more fiction books.

Dello Russo said his English teachers inspired him to write more and so he submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Dello Russo also said “I thought I had a good chance at winning a Gold Key and when I won, it was a pleasant surprise.” Now that Dello Russo has won a Gold Key, it makes him proud that he has been recognized as a winner.

Dello Russo said “writing as a job is a perfect way of making me stop enjoying it, so I’ll keep it as a hobby.” Dello Russo does not plan to go to New York City where all of the winners are honored, but is satisfied with his level of recognition.

About the Writer
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Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

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