Durant High School Journalism

Disney Springs Prepares to Reopen

As Florida eases social distancing regulations, Disney Springs will be the first major attraction in Florida to reopen.

Courtesy of Walt Disney

As Florida eases social distancing regulations, Disney Springs will be the first major attraction in Florida to reopen.

On Thursday, May 7, Walt Disney World Company made a statement that they will begin to reopen the Disney Springs shopping center in accordance with the current government and CDC guidelines in place.

The parks had originally closed on March 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as an effort to help flatten the curve and keep guests safe. Late evening on Thursday, the Vice President of Disney Springs Matt Simon announced the partial reopening of Disney Springs. 

The area will begin opening by using a series of phases making sure to keep all cast members, employees, and guests as safe as possible. No word has yet been stated on what exact stores or restaurants will be opening at this time.

The reopening of the springs is scheduled to begin on May 20, 2020, while the rest of the theme parks are currently planning on remaining closed with no plan to reopen in the near future. The initial opening phase will include limitations on capacity, parking, and operating hours. 

The reopening will have new implemented safety measures including increased cleaning procedures, face coverings required by members of the cast and the visiting guests, and limited contact with guest services. Cast members will be required to attend additional safety training to help prepare for the reopening and return to work.

Simon states that the company will begin to use “learnings and ideas from leaders in the health and travel industries” and has been communicating with their unions on the proper ways to go about the shopping center’s reopening.

According to FOX 35, the reopening of the center will be partially modeled after the reopening at Shanghai’s Disney Town, a modified version of Disney Springs, which had reopened in early March, and Shanghai’s Disneyland, set to open May 11. 

The measures that were put in place on this park included a limited capacity of 30%, requirements for getting guests temperature checked at all entrances, and mandatory masks to be worn by guests. FOX 35 also states that visitors will be required to pass a health screening via a mobile app.  Many await the results of this opening in hopes of it shortening the timeline of the phases, causing the parks to open quicker.

Disney plans additional information considering procedures and protocols to be announced closer to the opening date. As the date draws closer they recommend checking  DisneySprings.com for more up to date information.

About the Writer
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Faith Miller, Staff Writer

Faith Miller is a senior at Durant High School and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint. This year will be her fourth season on the varsity Durant...

Local Couple Wins LEGO Masters

Tyler and Amy Clites were the winners of the first season of FOX's LEGO Masters and $100,000.

Courtesy of Geek Tyrant

Tyler and Amy Clites were the winners of the first season of FOX's LEGO Masters and $100,000.

Wednesday, April 15th local couple Tyler and Amy Clites from Bradenton FL were announced as FOX’s LEGO Masters.

FOX’s “LEGO Masters” is a competition show where teams are eliminated one by one over a span of ten episodes. Teams of two compete in a series of timed challenges creating masterpieces made out of LEGO’s.

Each episode contained its own theme, inspiring builders as they plan their builds. The show is hosted by Will Arnett, voice of Batman in “LEGO Movie”, and judged by “BrickMasters” Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard.. “LEGO Masters” airs each Wednesday on FOX at 9pm.

The winners were announced Wednesday during the final episode after a 24-hour free build challenge. Much to their surprise, Tyler and Amy Clites were declared as this seasons LEGO Masters and received the 100,000-dollar prize. 

During an interview with FOX News’ Charlie Belcher, the couple explained their excitement upon receiving this honor. They state that as they were standing there before the judges, they were mentally rehearsing their second-place speech, expecting not to win. Amy states that as she heard her named called by the “BrickMasters”, she felt that it “stopped her heart completely”. Tyler explains similar emotions stating that he was “just blown away” after hearing they had won. 

They also explained the difficulty of keeping this secret until the episode had aired, since it was filmed ahead of time. Amy explains this was always causing them to think about who they were with, who knew, and who did not.  They say that they had to live in balance and learn to be mindful of their conversations and who they are with. 

As the couple readjust to life at home, they share their plans for what they plan to use their prize money on. They explain on the show and in the interview that they are currently renting, and the space has become too small for them, especially with a baby on the way. After joking about going to Vegas, they state how they are planning on buying a bigger home for themselves and preparing for their baby boy coming this summer.

The couple talks about how all the time they spent building with LEGOS had prepared them for the show, and now they don’t exactly know what is next for their family, but it will definitely be including LEGOS. The show has announced that it will be returning for another season with new contestants and challenges and is currently casting at http://legomasters.tv/.

About the Writer
Photo of Faith Miller
Faith Miller, Staff Writer

Faith Miller is a senior at Durant High School and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint. This year will be her fourth season on the varsity Durant...

Netflix Navarro’s Cheer Essence

Cheer was uploaded to Netflix on January 8, 2020. Fans are already eager for a season two.

Madeline Hull

Cheer was uploaded to Netflix on January 8, 2020. Fans are already eager for a season two.

The show “Cheer” was added to Netflix in 2020, many cheerleaders have become fans and are hoping for a second season after the first season unlike “Cheer Squad”.  

“Cheer Squad” was released in 2016Netflix released one season of the show and it was discontinued soon after. Many fans were disappointed to see that the show was cancelled after forming attachments to the athletes throughout the seasonThe viewers consisted mostly of cheerleaders, coaches, and parents that have kids involved or wanting to be involved in the sport. They were able to relate closely with the athletes while they improve on their skills during practice and competitions. Being able to see how the team handled tough practices and how they were able to bond with their coaches and teammates to work together. 

The new series “Cheer” captures Navarro’s college cheer team during practices, school functions, and competitions. It shows how the athletes keep up with cheer and college studies but also largely capitalizes how hard each athlete trainand dedicatethemselves to being part of this incredible team. Navarro cheer holds the title of 2019 NCA national champions along with more awards from years past. NCA is their biggest competition, which is held oceanside in Daytona Beach, which the series spotlights the team preparing for as the season continues. 

The Navarro team consists of fourteen female athletes and twenty-four males that represent their school as fellow Bulldogs. Their co-ed team has become very wellknown as a big part of the community in Corsicana, Texas. Many of the athletes have helped around Corsicana to raise money for funding and good causes relevant to their community. 

Navarro’s head coach Monica Aldama has been coaching the cheerleading team for twenty-four years and has made a huge difference in the standard at Navarro. She has turned the college cheer team in a gold standard for the cheer world. Aldama has become the icon of cheer coaches throughout many other cheer gyms. She holds her athletes to a much higher standard then the rest of Navarro students. As seen in the series she has pushed her athletes to be the best and has trained them with laborious conditioning to stay in shape and can carry out such difficult routines. With thousands of people watching Navarro they have extremely high expectations to uphold. 

She not only has made a difference in the cheer world but in her athletes as well. The producers of “Cheer” have included highlights on how much she cares and helps her cheerleaders through there rough spots or pasts. Many times, on the show they have shown the cheerleaders past before they tried out for Navarro and how many of them have gone through hard past before they met Monica, who has helped them grow form what they went through. As a coach she steps up for them and creates a safe place, she makes sure her athletes grow in confidence and make better decisions with the help of the coaches and teammates. 

Viewers have created on screen bonds with many of the athletes and expect for Netflix to continue with the series. Many of the scenarios that have been included in the episodes have created a way to connect with other cheerleaders through personal experiences and sports opportunities while creating role models through the show.  

About the Writer
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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...

SpaceX creates first private shuttle to the International Station

The+Crew+Dragon+shuttle+is+a+private+venture%2C+not+a+public+venture%2C+although+given+major+funding+from+NASA.

Inverse

The Crew Dragon shuttle is a private venture, not a public venture, although given major funding from NASA.

As of 2011, NASA retired their line of space shuttles. This means that American astronauts rely on the Russian Soyuz to travel to space. In 2014 this caused NASA to give Boeing $4.2 billion to create the CST-100 Starling, they also gave Elon Musk’s company SpaceX $2.6 billion to develop the Crew Dragon because NASA did not want to continue relying on Russia to send American astronauts to the moon. The Crew Dragon is the solution to this problem, not the private shuttles to Mars, SpaceX’s other major project.

The Crew Dragon is the first of its kind to be developed. The shuttle is the first American space craft to automatically dock at the International Space Station, is the only commercial shuttle to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, and is the only space craft with the ability to return cargo to Earth. The shuttle will also be free flying, meaning it will be autonomous, but on-board astronauts have the ability to monitor and control the shuttle when necessary.

SpaceX
The sleek interior of the Crew Dragon has room for up to seven people.

When the shuttle launches for the International Space Station, it leaves from the Kennedy Space center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., the launch site for all of NASA’s missions to the moon as well as shuttles to the International Space Center.

The development of the shuttle has not been simple for SpaceX, but there have been more triumphs than challenges. The major challenge in the shuttle’s development occurred in April of 2019 when the shuttle exploded during a test. The shuttle failed the launch-abort engines test, which is designed to test a rocket’s system in response to an emergency during the launch or as the rocket is in flight. According to NBC, the failure caused a great concern for the human tests that had been scheduled for later in the year.

The astronaut trials have been pushed back due to the launch failure, as the company had to ensure the problem was solved. According to Musk and NASA officials at a headquarters vent October 10, astronaut tests, Demo 2, should be expected in the first quarter of next year, from January to March 2020.

On the other hand, recently many improvements have been made. The shuttle passed 13 Mark 3 parachute tests and the SuperDraco thrusters, which power the escape system, were successfully added October 29, as shown on the SpaceX official Twitter.

The technology to take humans to the International Space Station is becoming more complex. The continued developments are making the shuttle more complex and more efficient. Once the Crew Dragon is fully operational, the U.S. Space Program will be autonomous once again.

About the Writer
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Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Armwood High School students create English Language Learners Bill

The English Language Learners Bill is an effort by Armwood High School seniors to ensure equality between native and non-native English speakers when taking English Graduation Tests.

The English Language Learners Bill is an effort by Armwood High School seniors to ensure equality between native and non-native English speakers when taking English Graduation Tests.

Two-term Florida Republican Representative Kevin Ambler originally began the county wide “Ought to Be A Law” competition to encourage students to propose bills to congress.  Fifteen years later, Kevin Ambler is out of office, but Armwood High School civics teacher, Tony Pirotta, and his students kept it going.

Senior Maria Medina noticed one of her fellow classmates, who transferred to Hillsborough County’s Armwood High School after moving from Cuba, struggling with English.  Her classmate was passing all her other classes with flying colors, except for English.  English Graduation Tests assume the test taker understands the language fluently.  The student has already completed the English Language Learner’s program (a program designed to teach non-native speakers English), but those classes, crammed into 4-7 years, cannot teach the entirety of the English language.  The fine-tuning that comes in high school level English classes can’t be understood by students who are still struggling to learn the complicated components of the English language.  Therefore, understanding English on the level they are expected to understand for English tests is nearly impossible-which is where Pirotta’s student’s bill comes in. 

House Bill 143/ Senate Bill 376, the most recent bills originating from Tony Pirotta’s civics club, “exempts certain English Language Learners from specified graduation requirement[s].”  In this case, the graduation requirement would be English Graduation Tests.  Both bills have been referred to their respective house’s “PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee” on September 23 and hope to be approved by July 1, 2020.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, senior Haley Manigold says “We believe that every student deserves an equal opportunity.  If you take a test and you can’t understand it, then the test is not effectively showing what you know.” 

Similar bills have been introduced by Democratic Senator Annette Taddeo and Democratic Representative Cindy Polo (HB 1213/SB 1590).  These bills state that non-native English speakers should be able to take tests required for graduation in their native language. 

Many students have joined Pirotta’s it “Ought to Be A Law Club” to help their fellow classmates who are challenged by the English requirement.  Zachary Mills, a member of the club says, “I just want to be part of the group that makes things better.”

With the help of their teacher, the members of the club have communicated with Democratic Florida Representative Susan Valdes, who has assisted the students in getting the bill into its respective committee and onto the Senate and House floor.  The English Language Learners bill will increase graduation rates for non-native English-speaking students and will promote fair high school testing for students of all nationalities.  Haley Manigold and a few of her classmates hope to travel to Tallahassee to lobby the bill in Congress for the 2020 Legislative Session, which begins January 14.

About the Writer
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Lilyann Belcher, Staff Writer

Lily Belcher is a sophomore at Durant High School and she is a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of Durant’s Flag Football team,...

In Pictures: A Day at the Florida State Fair

About the Writer
Photo of Angelique Robinson
Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Hurricane Michael devastates the Florida Panhandle

Hurricane+Michael+devastates+the+Florida+Panhandle

Business Insider

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida as a category 4 storm on Wednesday with winds hitting a top speed of 155 mph. The deadly storm broke a record as the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle.

The hurricane caused catastrophic damage, with many houses and buildings left completely demolished. According to CBS, Hurricane Michael left over 200,000 Floridians without power and entire neighborhoods in ruins.

Mexico Beach was hit the hardest, being the first place the storm touched, and was left in ruins. The roads are littered with debris, fallen trees, and pieces of homes. Patricia Mulligan, a Mexico Beach resident, detailed the aftermath of the storm, saying that she spotted appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dressers, and even a kayak strewn about. Many areas were flooded, with officials urging people not to drive through flood waters.

The shortage of resources caused by the storm has people turning to community centers to get food and water. According to CNN, residents of Mexico Beach are obtaining bottled water and ready-to-eat meals from schools, fire stations and Salvation army food trucks.

As of Sunday, 46 people remain unaccounted for in Mexico Beach. 18 total people were killed by the storm in Florida, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina. Only one of these deaths occurred in Mexico Beach.

Hillsborough County Public Schools Face Funding Problems

HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins

HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins

Tampa Bay, Fla.–Schools all around Hillsborough County are feeling the effects of a constantly tightening budget. Most recently, schools in the Tampa Bay area have not been receiving the funds they need to make repairs and replacements that are long overdue in schools and meet the schools’ educational needs. According to Bay News 9, critics are saying that the $88 million budget approved for this school year is not enough to effectively fund basic educational requirements.

The lack of funding has made it so that tough decisions have to be made on what issues can and cannot wait to be remedied. According to the Tampa Bay Times, at the annual back-to-school conference on Aug. 24, Superintendent Jeff Eakins said that as of Aug. 6, every school in the district had working air conditioning systems, but nearly 40 more schools had systems that needed to be repaired or replaced.

Some efforts have been made to resolve the issue. According to the Miami Herald, Florida school superintendents told Gov. Rick Scott to bring lawmakers back to the Capitol to approve more money for schools back in early March. These efforts did lead to increased funding, but the money did not go toward repairs for schools. According to the Sun Sentinel, the budget for this year was shaped by the Florida Legislature’s response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; and, though the Legislature gave schools $485 million more for this school year, $400 million is being used for school safety.

The repairs and upgrades to systems in schools have been temporarily placed on a back burner and people are not very happy about it, especially Florida school superintendents. Florida school superintendents believe that the budget is good for strengthening school safety, but “neglects basic education needs,” says Reuters. But others, like Sen. Bill Galvano, say that school safety is the most important thing, and that other things can wait.

Red Tide Explained

Red Tide Explained

Tampa Bay, Fla.–Every year red tide arises along the west coast of Florida and sometimes on the Atlantic side of the Florida coast at the end of summer and beginning of fall. Red tide kills and destroys marine wildlife and even effects businesses and tourism near the beaches impacted by red tide. However, this year specifically, red tide’s damages are particularly devastating.

Red tide, or harmful algae blooms, occur when toxins are released by algae blooms causing a discoloration in the water. The toxins from the algae blooms kill fish, and harm marine mammals and birds. Red tide can last between a few weeks or longer than a year.

This year, red tide crept up on to the Florida coast around Aug. 5 and 6 and is mainly affecting Florida’s gulf coast.

Many animals are impacted by red tides every year, including: fish, manatees, dolphins, turtles, birds, and several others. Red tide has killed 174 manatees and over 300 sea turtles this year because of how toxic the bloom is.

According to the New York Times, the medical and research director for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Dr. Heather Barron, has seen a higher number of animals being affected by red tide this year.

“The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife has seen a 25 percent increase in patients compared with this time last year,” said Dr. Barron.

Humans can be affected by red tide as well. The air around red tide areas can cause sneezing, coughing and tearing. However, those who have emphysema or asthma may have a harder time breathing and need to be especially careful.

Due to red tide, beaches are seeing less tourists and businesses are getting less customers. On a normal day you can see a beach filled with people at 12p.m.; however, red tide has scared away tourists and businesses are feeling that affect.

The Florida Wildlife Commission is trying to help save animals found alive on the shore. They house the animals in rehab facilities until the toxin is out of their systems.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency due to red tide. Scott has promised $1.5 million in emergency funding to help take care of the crisis.

Deadly shooting at Jacksonville Madden Gaming Tournament

Retrieved+from+CNN

Retrieved from CNN

Jacksonville, Fla.–A deadly shooting occurred at the Aug. 26 Madden Gaming Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.

The two victims, Taylor Robertson, 28 and Elijah Clayton, 22, were competitors in the tournament alongside the shooter, David Katz, 24,who opened fire in the middle of the tournament. Robertson and Clayton were killed, and 10 others were injured. Katz, after the shooting, committed suicide with his weapon.

Katz was prescribed multiple psychiatric medications; and, based on the divorce filings from Katz’s parents, as a teenager, he was hospitalized twice in psychiatric facilities as first reported by AP News. The gun that Katz used was was legally purchased. “It appears that the [mental health] disqualifications [in purchasing a gun] did not apply to David Katz,” said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

In 2018 alone, there have been 234 mass shootings in the United States. Sunday’s shooting marked the 234th shooting this year. The FBI defines a “Mass Killing” as the killing of three or more people in a public place, and the federal agency also defines a “Mass Murderer” as someone who has killed four or more people in the same location.

Since the shooting has occurred, CEO of game-maker Electronic Arts announced the cancellation of the three upcoming tournaments. According to an article by The Los Angeles Times, an apology was release by EA Sport, who owns the Madden franchise, saying: “We are working with authorities to gather facts at this stage…This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved.”

The Problem of Over-Development

An opinion article about how overdeveloping in the U.S. is a problem.

The+Problem+of+Over-Development

Over the years an increasing amount of land is being used for development because of population expansion; however, when the amount of people in one area has stopped increasing why don’t developers stop building homes?

Developers all over the U.S. are constantly building homes and chain businesses. Because of this overdeveloping, too many people are moving into already crowded areas and wildlife is being disturbed.

In many new neighborhoods, developers cut every single tree down trying to use up all the space they have. Not only do trees help use breathe by giving off oxygen, they are useful because they give shade, especially in Florida. For example, if an individual has many trees covering their home they will have a much cooler environment. In addition, their electricity wouldn’t be as costly because they wouldn’t have to use the air conditioner as often.

Most of the houses being built look identical and have nothing unique about them. Almost every newly developed neighborhood is “slapped” together within a few weeks and then sold off as fast as possible. The care that goes into building homes is minimal and they deteriorate faster than an older home.

Also, these homes are placed right next to one another, which does not allow for privacy. Because of how close these homes are, and of how the developers want to squish as many homes in one neighborhood as possible, there is barely a front and backyard for someone to enjoy.

Wildlife is impacted in a huge way because of over-development. When developers go in to tear down trees and rip out anything alive, animals are left with no habitat and nowhere to go. New developments make it impossible for animals to live anywhere and it’s unfair that they are forced out of their homes.

Overdeveloping causes a multitude of issues not only for us but for animals. At the rate developers are going, there is not going to be any land left for them to build on or for animals to live on.

2018 Strawberry Festival Fun

An informational article about the 2018 Plant City, Florida Strawberry Festival.

2018+Strawberry+Festival+Fun

Plant City, Fla.–It is that time of the year again where we stuff our faces with strawberry shortcakes and ride the most exhilarating rides. Yes, I am talking about the Plant City, Florida Strawberry Festival. This year’s 2018 Strawberry Festival is being held from March 1 to March 11.

The Strawberry Festival was created by the Plant City Lions Club in the 1930’s and the event has been around for nearly 80 years. The Strawberry Festival is an event that brings the community together to enjoy delicious food and just be with one another.

Every year different famous bands and singers come to perform at the festival. Some of the performers include: Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa, Trace Adkins and many more.

To join in the Strawberry Festival fun it costs adults (ages 13+) $10, children (ages 6-12) $5 and children 5 and under can enter for free. The festival is open Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; however, some times are different because of concerts and specific events.

There are over 80 exciting rides, games and attractions at this year’s Strawberry Festival. If rides do not interest you then maybe meeting cows, sheep, pigs and many other animals would! Many animals are displayed in shows and events at the festival.

If you’re bored at home and want to get out of the house, come to this year’s Strawberry Festival and have a blast with some friends!

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