How to Lead an Eco-Friendly and Waste-Free Life as a Teen

By Gabriella Adams, Staff Writer / 01/21/2020

Do you have a reusable water bottle? If so, great! You’re already taking a small step to eliminate pollution and unnecessary plastic that reaches our landfills. Plastic pollution is a problem everywhere and for many reasons, but in a state so close to the beautiful Atlantic, it’s especially important to make sure our garbage ends up where it belongs—or that we don’t have any at all.

Since 1950, we have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic, says the Natural Resources Council of Maine. In short, plastics can break down into microplastics in the ocean that aquatic animals and fish can mistake for food. This also affects humans, as chemicals like BPA used in some plastics can accidentally be ingested, and microplastics that break down in soil can affect the food we eat.

Screenshot from 2020-01-21 08-37-11Accidental consumption of plastic is worse than you may think. A study published by Environment International shows that pregnancies have even been affected by phthalates, an additive in plastic that can be accidentally consumed by food packaging, cosmetics, and the air we breathe. The study shows that higher levels of this additive combined with high stress led to premature births, which leads to the assumption that higher stress levels make the body more susceptible to negative effects of environmental chemicals.

Nobody is doubting that plastic is bad for the environment and us as humans, but we also tend to ignore the things we use that come with pointless plastic. We usually end up tossing away empty deodorant containers, shampoo bottles, razors, Ziploc bags, toothbrushes, and a few handfuls of other things without even realizing the negative effects they will have on the planet and its wildlife.

Waste-free hygiene products 

Teenagers may not care much about waste-free cleaning products, but something everyone needs is hygiene products. Waste-free products are taking the world by storm, and they are found anywhere from to Marshall’s to Amazon.

Screenshot from 2020-01-21 08-37-28An easy first step in switching to waste-free hygiene is a bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo is 100% biodegradable, unlike plastic toothbrushes which can stay in landfills for hundreds of years, if not forever. There are several to choose from that can be found anywhere, but I am a huge fan of the Humble Brush, which can be found at any Target store for just $4.99. Plus, Humble purchases fund projects for children in need—a second thing to feel great about!

If bamboo isn’t really your thing but you still want to make the switch, Preserve has recycled toothbrushes for sale on Amazon. These toothbrushes are made completely from recycled plastic, and the company that makes them has a “take-back toothbrush” program where they’ll recycle the toothbrush for you.

Another awesome way to switch to waste-free hygiene products is by using shampoo and conditioner bars rather than bottles. Growing in popularity, these neat products can be found anywhere from Lush to Amazon, so your hair can look great while you feel great. Plus, shampoo and conditioner bars can last up to 80 washes, 2 to 3 times what a regular bottle can.

Bamboo toothbrushes and bottle-free hair care products are a fantastic start, but by no means are they the only things you can do. Try an online shopping spree for things you notice get thrown away often!

Waste-free beauty products 

Listen up, makeup lovers of Hermon High! The next time you toss a makeup remover, cotton swab, or mascara wand in the garbage, think about where it may end up.

There are several different options that allow you to remove your makeup without using single-use wipes. About a million different cleansers are available anywhere from the Dollar Tree to Sephora, but if you’re looking for a low-effort makeup remover, the Makeup Eraser is available on Amazon, as well as several similar off-brands. These are microfiber cleansing and exfoliating cloths that remove makeup with just water.

Makeup wipes aren’t the only cosmetic product that get thrown away without a single thought. More than 25 billion cotton swabs are discarded every year in the US alone. There’s a simple fix to this, however, as reusable cotton swabs are available either for ears or for cosmetic use on The swabs last up to 1,000 uses as they are able to be washed off with soap and water. The case for the swab is also corn-based and biodegradable, preventing even more waste! Screenshot from 2020-01-21 08-37-42

There are also tons of makeup brands to choose from that are eco-friendly. Antonym Cosmetics, for example, is a brand that uses bamboo packaging for their blushes, eye shadows, and highlighters. In addition, they make brushes using bamboo that are cruelty free. Kjaer Weis is also a fantastic option, offering a refillable mascara tube to avoid having to throw away plastic tubes every few months.

In addition to buying and using waste-free makeup products, there are ways to reuse certain packaging if you aren’t yet willing to give up your favorite product. For example, mascara wands can be donated to the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge through their Wands for Wildlife program. The wands are used to remove bugs from wild animals’ fur and much more. This is a fantastic way to reuse non-biodegradable mascara wands.

Simpler ways to go waste-free

Screenshot from 2020-01-21 08-37-55If you’re not on board with spending money for special waste-free products, there are still many ways to go waste-free that will make an impact.

  • Donate old clothing to thrift and consignment stores rather than throwing it away. The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year, making up 9 percent of solid waste in the US.
  • Use tote bags at the grocery store rather than wasteful plastic bags to eliminate as much plastic as possible, saving not only wildlife but yourself as well.
  • Recycle your plastics and cans. Every room at HHS has a designated spot for bottles and cans. Besides, if you do this at home and take them to a redemption center, you can earn some extra cash thanks to the state of Maine.
  • Carpool! Instead of meeting some friends at the mall, choose a driver and pick others up, then travel together. Not only is belting your favorite songs in the car with your friends super fun, but it’ll also help reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

It only takes one small change to make a big impact on the world, and as teens, we can all pitch in to help ourselves, our Earth, and our wildlife.


Social Media is to Blame for Pressuring Teen Girls for Wanting Perfect Bodies

By Shayla Moore, Staff Writer / 01/03/2020

When we think of social media, one of the first things we think about are the influencers that are on it. We also think of the countless models taking pictures of their bodies and, believe it or not, being a teen girl in high school and seeing these images can make you feel very insecure and unworthy.

No girl should ever feel that way because half of the stuff they see is most likely photo-shopped or edited. For example, recently an influencer by the name Tana Mongeau posted a picture of herself at The People’s Choice Awards. It didn’t take long for people to find out that she heavily edited herself. The following images might shock you. Picture A  is the photo-shopped picture Tana posted on her instagram. Picture B is the actual photo that was taken.

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A lot of people have been outraged at Tana because more than half  of her fans are teen girls. The majority of her content contains pictures of her body and showing the crazy stuff that she does. Many just wish she would understand what she’s doing to her audience of teen girls and that she doesn’t have to do this to get attention.

Now you shouldn’t just quit social media and never go on it again but you should know what’s real and what’s fake. Because the girl we are going to talk about didn’t have someone to explain it to her.

On February 15, 2018, the Daily Mail published a story talking about an unnamed girl and her struggle with the dangerous eating disorder, anorexia. They address how this started and why the ‘social convention’ of being ‘skinny to be beautiful’ needs to stop.

This anonymous girl posted a video on Youtube showing how she was insecure about how her body looked because of the app Instagram. She went to a school where nobody noticed her and wasn’t even popular in her own friend group. To get over that feeling she made it her goal to get into the best university and to get cosmetic surgery. After all her hard work, it finally paid off and she got into the university she wanted but still she just had one more problem left: her body.

After getting her facial cosmetic surgery, she still wasn’t satisfied by her appearance. She still thought she was fat and after being teased by the boys at her school who called her ‘big arms’ and ‘piggy’ she decided to watch videos that taught her how to exercise. She started to get sore and exhausted but she always kept the image in her head to become perfect and to show the people that teased her that they were wrong. Then she got to the point where people were telling her that she was too skinny but she didn’t pay attention and kept working out and watching what she was eating.

She soon became obsessed with how she looked and began to lose most of her close friends because they didn’t support the choices she was making with her body and one day she woke up in the hospital with tubes in her arms and her mother by her side. That was the day she was diagnosed with anorexia.

After a long year of batting, she is now fully recovered. She explained, “We constantly compare ourselves to these “beautiful” individuals making it our goal to get to where they are. Everything from dieting, becoming gym junkies, skipping meals, or even plastic surgery.”

Now she has realized that she is beautiful in her own way and doesn’t feel the need to have to follow society or trends about being skinny. Her story is so important because it  shows the lengths us girls are willing to go to, to be the “perfect girl’’.

Everyone should love their body, flaws and all, because if it wasn’t for those parts of you, you just wouldn’t be you.

If you’d like to hear her story the video link will be at the bottom of the article. Hopefully, readers realize how little people’s opinions really matter based on thier appearance.

I’m going to end this article with a quote by one of my favorite idols RuPaul: “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell you gonna love somebody else.”

Screenshot from 2020-01-03 09-28-41

I became Anorexic for  instagram:

Darkness Got You Down? 5 Ways to Freeze Seasonal Depression

By Gabriella Adams, Staff Writer / 12/18/2019

We’ve all heard the terms “winter blues” or “winter depression” thrown around when it’s cold outside, but have you ever wondered what this really means? This illness is actually called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or, ironically, SAD for short.

Mainers are greatly affected by this, as we get a drastic difference in the amount of daylight between June and December. In fact, in the height of June we see daylight from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and in December we only see it from 7:30 a.m to around 4:10 p.m.. To some, the change in light outside is no big deal. But to others, it can flip the world upside down.

A survey done at Hermon High School of 36 students shows that one third notice a change in their mood between summer and winter. Of these responses, 19 students confirmed that this seems to be because of the lack of sunshine we receive, 17 recognize the cold as the purpose, and 10 say that the holiday season stresses them out.

Screenshot from 2019-12-18 08-29-40While research on SAD is still in progress, we can assume that it is related to vitamin D and serotonin levels. Time in the sun is the best way to get vitamin D, which is the body’s “happy” prohormone. This vitamin can raise levels of serotonin, the chemical in the brain that regulates mood and social behavior. Therefore, when a person is vitamin D deficient, their mood can be greatly impacted.

“Seasonal depression is affected largely by weather changes,” says school nurse Tiffany Howard, “and differences in the amount of daylight. Sometimes folks in states that don’t get a lot of sun aren’t outside as much, and they can get vitamin D deficiency.”

If these things sound close-to-home for you or a loved one, here are 5 things that might help ease symptoms.

Find your coping strategies

While everybody’s coping skills are different, finding the ones that work for you can be a crucial step in the recovery process for any mental illness (or even for a bad day).

Upon surveying Hermon High School students about what their coping strategies are, some answers stood out as good strategies for anyone to try.


  • “I try to workout more and be creative.” 
  • “Personally I try to keep myself busy with school and work. But I also try not to stress myself out by hanging with friends too!”
  • “Turning on lots of lights and being around family and friends.”
  • “I think about the positives of the winter like staying inside and hanging out with family. Then I think that the summer will be here soon.”


A coping strategy can be anything, from something that comforts you to a hobby that improves your mood. Some people like surrounding themselves with blankets and letting their feelings out by crying, while others would prefer to bury themselves in their work. Try not to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as using substances, as those can hurt you in the future. No matter the coping strategy, as long as it is healthy, it is okay.

With a doctor’s permission, seek out Vitamin D

While it may sound scary, vitamin D supplements are affordable and may work to alter your mood in the darker months. In fact, a study from the International Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology shows that there was a significant difference in the fourth week of treatment between patients with severe depression that were given Escitalopram (an antidepressant drug also known as Lexapro) alongside vitamin D supplements, and a group that was only given the antidepressant. The study confirmed that vitamin D supplements taken alongside Lexapro were more effective, especially in patients with a vitamin D deficiency.

Screenshot from 2019-12-18 08-30-08With a doctor’s permission, vitamin D supplements can be purchased at any Walmart, Target, or drugstore, and usually run from five to ten dollars. Even without the use of antidepressants, vitamin D can improve mood as long as it is taken correctly and given time to work.

DISCLAIMER: While vitamin D supplements may work well to improve your mood, some people may find they have negative side effects, such as weakness, fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite. Make sure you speak to your doctor about whether these supplements are right for you. 

Spend more time in the light

Light therapy is a convenient, easy remedy for seasonal affective disorder. There are compact light boxes for sale made specifically for health purposes that simulate the sun’s rays. In addition to improving mood, light therapy can be used for an energy boost, or to help with jetlag, sleep disorders, and even dementia.

Another way to let more light into your daily routine (without having to go out in the biting cold) is by placing mirrors all around your room. Mirrors allow natural light to bounce around the room, which will give off a more subtle vitamin D boost.

Inviting natural light into your space will allow for a brighter mood, as it will raise vitamin D levels which directly affects serotonin. Natural light can even help with sleep; it’ll keep you awake during the day, and help you be more tired at bedtime. If you’re looking for a more permanent change in light, painting the walls a lighter color—Brightnest suggests gray, cream, and eggshell blue—will also allow for a brighter feel.

Talk to trusted friends and adults

There is no better way to fix a bad mood than to talk about it. And with all the resources we have here in our school community, there is no reason not to.

“[In health class] we talk about resources like the crisis text line, and we also have our guidance department, a school social worker, and sometimes counseling is provided for students as well,” says Holly Cough, a health teacher at Hermon High.

To find someone to talk to, you can even confide in teachers you trust. They are equipped with the knowledge to help you find further help—or, they can be your helper.

And of course, opening up the conversation about mental illness helps to destigmatize it.

Don’t stray away from self-care

Finally, self-care is something a lot of people with mental illness can often neglect. As much as someone suffering from seasonal depression may want to stay in bed all day, tasks like healthy eating, exercising, and practicing good hygiene cannot be forgotten. While we may not consider things like these self-care, they most certainly are. Doing things that are good for your body— such as healthy eating and exercise—will help you stay both happy and healthy.

People with seasonal depression may crave sugar-rich foods, as these can temporarily raise serotonin levels. But eating these foods in excess may do more harm than good long-term. Instead, try antioxidant-rich foods—such as broccoli, peaches, spinach, blueberries, nuts and seeds—as these are good for the brain. In addition, “smart” carbs such as whole grains rather than sugar-rich ones can lift serotonin levels while providing good nutrients for the body.

If you are having issues with seasonal depression, you can seek out help through the national helpline at, or find your school guidance counselor, Leslie Smith for students A-K and Heather Pelletier for L-Z.


Teen Mental Illness: What HHS Staff can do to Help

By Gabriella Adams, Staff Writer / 11/20/2019

The topic of mental health has become widespread across media in recent years. Many people are working hard to erase the stigma around it. Mental illnesses that would have deemed somebody “insane” many years ago are now accepted as normal, and different forms of treatment are coming out every year. After all, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about. But what does this have to do with us?

Mental illness is extremely prevalent among teens in Maine. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics reports that the state-level prevalence of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD among children and teens is a whopping 27.2%, coming in first among all 50 states. Additionally, the Center for Behavioral Statistics shows that the occurrence of major depressive episodes among adolescents (ages 12-17) in 2014-2015 in Maine was 12.5%, which beat the national average of 11.9%.

Screenshot from 2019-11-21 08-53-02

Hermon High has several day-to-day staff who students can visit to seek help when they need it. The list is long: Leslie Smith, guidance director and counselor for students with last names A-K; Heather Pelletier, last names L-Z; Kara Kitchin, social worker; Lillian Barry, freshman guidance counselor; Sheila Thibodeau, short-term counselor; and Joe Farese, substance abuse counselor.

“Anxiety and depression are probably the two most common [mental illnesses] I have seen,” says Kitchin. “Some students can be very effective in managing their anxiety or depression and be successful students, all the way down to kids not even being able to come to school because they are so crippled by [these illnesses], and anywhere in between.”

Mental illness is not always visible among teens. Sometimes, it takes the form of another issue, like self medication through substance abuse. The most widespread mind-altering substances used among teens in Maine are marijuana and alcohol. In 2014-2015, 12.5% of Maine adolescents used alcohol, beating the national average of 10.6% once again. The marijuana statistics in Maine versus the United States are even more surprising: Maine is 10% and the United States is 7.2%. Substance abuse among adults in Maine has even more disparities; Maine’s heroin use among any individual older than 12 is 0.58%, whereas the US is 0.33%

Teenagers that grow up around adults who use harmful substances may be more susceptible to begin using themselves once they develop a mental illness. Substances that alter the mind are often used for self-medication. Hermon High also recognizes these statistics and has a plan in place for students with substance abuse issues.

“Joe Farese is someone we contract with in regards to support for substance abuse situations that we need help with.” Smith comments. She later adds; “there are laws around substance abuse support, and huge privacy protections for students who might be dealing with that. We do this in a very confidential manner. We do not talk to Joe about what [a student] talks about.”

Farese is available once a week to provide substance abuse support for students who may struggle with self-medication issues.

Mental illness is obviously a huge problem in Maine, but many students fear seeking out help because of stigma.  Many students with mental illness feel as though they are alone, or that nobody else understands what they are going through. Additionally, only 47.2% of adolescents ages 12-17 in Maine with mental illness actually receive treatment. This means less than half of students who require help do not get it. But students are much less alone than they think.

“We have a sign-in sheet, and students self-report what they come here for help with,” Smith says. “We coin one category as ‘it’s a personal matter’. We want it to be generic.”

Last year, “it’s a personal matter” was the subject of 41% of meetings in guidance, showing that students are much less alone than they may believe.

In addition to seeking out guidance resources, any trusted teacher or adult in the building can refer a student to guidance if they are reluctant to do so themselves. A student can mention the problem they are having to any trusted adult and be referred to guidance, making the first step much less difficult for some.

HHS students and staff work hard to vanish any stigma that may discourage students from seeking out help. Hawks 4 Change recently partnered with the Yellow Tulip Project, an organization that works to normalize mental illness and smash stigma. The club here at HHS planted what is called a Hope Garden, where they wrote what they were hopeful for and planted bulbs that will bloom in the spring.Screenshot from 2019-11-21 08-53-33

“I’m really hoping that the school’s initiative with partnering with the Yellow Tulip Project is a resounding message to all students that we need to erase the stigma around mental illness,” Smith comments. “We want to make students feel that they are not alone, that they have support, and there are people around them going through the same things, instead of hiding it and putting shame on it.”

Hermon High has already done a great deal in normalizing mental illness. For more information about the Yellow Tulip Project, see Mrs. Cough or any student involved with Hawks 4 Change.

And of course, if you are in need of help, do not be afraid to seek out the following resources:

National Suicide Hotline, open 24/7: 1-800-273-8255

National Crisis Texting Service: 741-741

Database of Treatment Options Near You:

Guidance Counselor for students A-K: Leslie Smith

Guidance Counselor for students L-Z: Heather Pelletier

School social worker: Kara Kitchin

School substance abuse counselor: Joe Farese

An Intro To Basic Skincare

By Reagan Partridge, Staff Writer / 11/06/2019

cosmetologist applying skincare treatments at cosmetology schoolWhether you have oily, dry, or combination skin, taking just a little time every morning and night to care for your skin should be a crucial part of your day. Skincare doesn’t only help your skin to be healthy and look its best; the process of taking that little bit of time in the morning or that extra 10 minutes at night is good for your mental health.

Consider following the steps to recognize the unique aspects of your skin to build a skincare routine that makes your skin feel good and you feel good.

Analyze Your Skin

Before one can start the process of analyzing their skin, there are a few terms to get acquainted with:

Combination – Combination skin refers to skin that has both large sections of oily skin and dry skin. This can be the most difficult kind of skin to develop a routine for as the skin may have conflicting needs in separate areas.

Dry – Dry skin is skin that is usually a bit rough to the touch and tends to have spots of severe flaky, possibly white patches.

Oily – Oily skin is skin that overproduces natural oils such as sebum, giving it a shiny look.

Acne-Prone – Acne-Prone skin is skin that tends to get pimples easier or currently has a lot of acne.

Now that we are equipped with some skincare language, it’s time to start accessing the skin.

Developing a skin routine personalized to you can be difficult when you have a hard time recognizing the needs of your skin. The first step in good skincare is recognizing features about your skin. Is it oily? Dry? Combination? Where on the face are there spots of oiliness or dryness? Is it prone to acne or relatively clear? Is the skin more wrinkly? Is it firm or a little looser?

All of this may feel like an interrogation, but recognizing the unique aspects of the skin will help determine its needs in the skincare department. As put so eloquently by Hyram, “We all need help, Sweetie.” 

Pick Out Some Products

There are some basic products everyone should have in their skincare routine:

Cleanser – A good face cleanser is a face wash that leaves the skin feeling clean, but not imagesdry.

Exfoliator – An exfoliator (chemical or physical) cleans off dry patches and gets some of the gunk out of pores.

Toner – Toners are able to cut through dirt, oil, and makeup left on the skin. Toners can help with acne.

Moisturizer –  Moisturizers add hydration to the skin; they are important whether the skin is oily, dry, or combination.

Each product in one’s skincare routine does not have to be used every day or every time the skincare routine is performed.

Cleansers should be utilized at least twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. Cleansing at the beginning of the day helps to get rid of the oils produced overnight, and cleansing at the end of the day rids the face of dirt and oil obtained over the course of the day. Toners and moisturizers can be used twice a day, but no more than that.

On the other hand, exfoliators should only be used 3-4 times a week. Exfoliators, although effective, are too harsh to be used every day, twice a day. Exfoliators can cause microtears in the skin if they are used too often or are too harsh. Avoid exfoliators made with walnuts or any other harsh materials. Just because a product is natural does not make it good for the skin. 

Although every basic routine needs these products,  it is still important to cater your selection of skincare products to your skin type.

Oily skin requires a hardy, foaming cleanser to trap the dirt and oil on the foam, a strong toner to cut through the access oil and dirt left after cleansing, and a non-oil-based moisturizer. Neutrogena has an entire oil-free line of skincare products (including makeup removers) that work fantastically for oily skin.

Dry skin requires products that avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils. Combination skin is a little more complicated as it is quite unique to the individual, but having a combination of dry skin-friendly and oily skin-friendly products within the same routine is a good start.

Remain Consistent

images (1)When one establishes a skin routine, it must be maintained. The consistency is good or the skin as it is able to get adjusted and remain adjusted to the products being used. Consistency also keeps the skin clean and happy. When the same products aren’t used every day, twice a day, the skin can start breaking out because it is no longer adjusted to the products. 

It can be scary to jump into a new skincare routine without being equipped with the knowledge to build a routine for one’s self, but it’s not impossible. Just break it down into steps: analyze your skin type, determine what your skin needs are, pick out products, and maintain your established routine.

Taking care of one’s skin will not only improve the quality of their skin but also their mental health.

As a disclaimer, the author of this article is not a professional esthetician but has mastered their own personal skincare routine. Hyram (a licensed esthetician in Hawaii) on Youtube ( has been an excellent source for research as well as general questions about skincare.

The Effects of Caffeine on Teenagers

By Gabriella Adams, Staff Writer / 10/31/2019

1024px-A_small_cup_of_coffee.JPGWe’ve all experienced it: one sluggish teenager walks into a classroom with a fresh cup of Dunkin’ from across the street, or a can of Monster, only to be told they need to throw it away. Coffee is something Hermon High is widely concerned with, but why? 

Caffeine is the most widespread psychoactive drug, but scientists are still unsure what the effects of it are on developing teenage brains. As far as health professionals know, the effects of the buzz can vary from person to person. For some, nothing bad will ever come from a Redbull. But others find it anxiety-inducing and even life-threatening. 

America may run on Dunkin’, but a good portion of America includes teenagers. The Dunkin’ Donuts official blog has even marketed towards teens and young people by using finals week as a reason to consume coffee. The article “5 Finals Week Must-Haves” opens with the first necessity being coffee. “I promise your sanity will remain intact as long as you keep a cup in your left hand and a pencil in your right,” the blog claims, “Seriously though, no library outing is complete for me without it, and right now, that cup is full of some Cookie Dough Iced Coffee.” 

The Cookie Dough flavor mentioned in this blog may be marketed towards young people. Brands often use sweet flavors to entice children and teenagers to purchase their products. Dunkin’ sells every flavor from french vanilla to butter pecan, tempting teens to consume more and more caffeine. 

In a survey conducted at Hermon High School, 41.7% of teenagers reported that they consume 1-2 cups of coffee a day, where 8.3% say they drink more than 5 cups. Energy drinks, however, are seemingly becoming depopularized at Hermon, with 83.3% of students saying that they consume zero cans a day. 

There’s no doubt that teenagers drink caffeine, but why do they do so? The most common reasons chosen by 50% of students: to stay awake at school, to improve focus, and simply not getting enough sleep. 

Hermon’s busiest students are involved in college classes, have jobs outside of school, participate in internships, and take part in extracurricular activities. Sleep can seem nearly impossible to these students, so they feel as though they must resort to artificial energy. In fact, the vast majority of students report that they consume caffeine during the school week rather than on weekends. 

We know that teenagers love caffeine, but we often turn a blind eye on the negative effects they may experience. It is a well-known fact that caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, irritable digestive system, and rapid heart rate. The drug can affect each person differently, but a shocking majority of Hermon students reported they feel at least one of these, the most popular being anxiety. 

The reason caffeine is such bad news for people already diagnosed with anxiety is because the jitters caffeine gives a person is similar to the fight-or-flight response anxiety sufferers already experience. This can heighten anxiety that already exists and trigger anxiety attacks. 

coffee-health01-lgIn some cases, caffeine can even be deadly to young people. According to the University of Michigan Health Blog, South Carolina teen, Davis Allen Cripe, suffered a fatal collapse after consuming a latte, a Mountain Dew, and an energy drink within the span of two hours. Depending on the person, caffeine can reach the point in which poison control should get involved. When that does not happen, it can result in death. 

The death of  Cripe should serve as an eye-opener for teens everywhere. Occasional caffeine is less likely to have a negative effect than a few cups an hour, but overall it may be healthier to avoid the buzz. There are several dietary and lifestyle changes that will naturally raise energy levels without the negative side effects, such as eating greens, consuming protein, adding exercise to your daily life, and of course, getting the right amount of sleep for your body and mind. 

So, next time a teacher asks you to throw out your Dunkin’, don’t get too angry. They may be doing you a favor. 


Travel Tips with Ethan

By Ethan Bailey, Staff Writer / 10/21/2019

Did you know about 1 in every 4 people in America travel a year, that means at least 100 million people in the US alone travel in one year according to Newsroom.AAA. The holiday season is also one of the busiest travel times. Who knows, maybe you might be next!travel-4022443_960_720

Being one of these many people who travel quite often, I would say that I have plenty of experience, and I want to use that experience to make your traveling season as smooth as possible. So here are some of my travel tips that I find to be very useful.

Some of my convenient tips for traveling start with the packing and preparing process. For starters: 

  • Try to pack up the night before you leave so you are not rushing to get ready and pack at the same time. You will only need a reasonable time before you leave to get ready if you are already packed so you can leave on time. 
  • Be at the airport 2-3 hours earlier than your flight’s departure time so you can find your gate and get through TSA without being rushed.
  • Make a list of what you want to bring and things you might need when you are there. Keep the list on your phone or somewhere where you won’t lose it so at the end of your trip you can come back to it and make sure you have everything you came with. 
  • For packing your carry on, pack only what you need. It’s a good idea to pack one pair of extra clothes and a toothbrush with a travel size toothpaste, just in case your luggage gets lost, you will have the essentials. Also, try to pack a small blanket as it might get cold on the airplane if not you can bunch it up into a pillow. Also carry on your valuables like if you have one laptop, if you have one tablet, portable battery, charging cords. And don’t forget some snacks. If you do it right, it should all fit into a small backpack. 
  • Bring an empty reusable water bottle (you can fill it up when you get past TSA!)
  • Pack all things metal (portable batteries, cords, headphones, etc.) into a plastic sandwich bag so you can easily pull it out at TSA and be all ready to move through the line.
  •  Remember not to fill your suitcase or carry on all the way when you leave for your trip as you will most likely get souvenirs you will want to bring home. You are going to need space to put them. 
  • Bring something to entertain yourself on the flight, as waiting in the airport and the flight can be very long and you don’t want to be bored. Bring something like a movie or a game you can play.
  • For longer flights or drives it will be very helpful to get a lot of convenient snacks as you might get hungry on the way there and back and won’t want to stop or pay for food at rest stops or airports.

When you’re in the airport like getting your plane ticket or at TSA, you might want to remember:

  • Make sure you have your passport if travelling out of the country or if you don’t have Maine’s Real ID. Beginning in October 2020, you will need a passport or Real ID to travel inside the country. Always remember you can’t use a driver’s license if you’re traveling over seas.
  • Have the ticket you purchased and boarding passes ready on your phone or in paper copy. 
  • While waiting in line for TSA take your belt, shoes, necklace, watch, or glasses off before getting to the counter so that you are all ready to place them in the bins when you get to TSA. You won’t feel as rushed and it will make the stressful process smoother. 
  • After TSA, make sure you have remembered the most important things like your phone, wallet, and passport. Put them back in a safe place.

I know there aren’t many tips while you are at TSA but the biggest thing is don’t feel rushed as this can make you lose things. You don’t want that to happen while travelling. 

The only tips for while you are on the airplane are pretty simple but very important. The biggest tip is to:

  • Know the unspoken “rule” of the airplane seats. If the row is 3 seats wide, the aisle seat gets one arm rest and extra leg room, the middle seat (the worst seat) gets 2 armrests (the ones between the aisle and window), and the window seat gets one arm rest and a place to rest their head, also a view! If you don’t follow this, then go home. 
  • Another tip is to put your carry on under the seat in front of you so you won’t have to get up during the flight to get something. 
  • If you’re not hungry, still take the airplane food because they may not come back around with more snacks when you are hungry. Trust me you will be and you will wish you had taken

These are the tips I have for your traveling needs. Some of them are more important than others, but if you try a few of these you will understand how useful they really are! Try not to forget anything, relax, and have fun on your trip!

Fall Fashion of Hermon High School

By Gabriella Adams, Staff Writer / 10/15/2019

Although high school students aren’t often seen rocking capes and blazers like the New York Fashion Week enthusiasts shown in Marie Claire, they still have an interesting style. The fall fashion trends at Hermon High can be seen if you take a quick walk through the halls: freshmen often rock scrunchies and Crocs, while seniors tend to go for a more simplistic look. 

But why are some of these styles unique to Hermon students? 

The dress code was updated last year after an incident in 2017 in which students stood in protest against a rule that involved ripped jeans. The protest was so extreme that WGME and other news stations came to interview students that participated in the protest. 

In 2018 the dress code was adapted due to strong concern from students. “Non-transparent clothes must be worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, nipples, and midriff… are covered… Clothing that reveals underwear is prohibited.” 

With the dress code’s recent change, students, particularly female presenting ones, feel extremely liberated in their self expression with fashion. “I’m glad I can wear whatever jeans I want [now].” Senior, Noelle Thibodeau, exclaims. The transition between dress codes is something juniors and seniors remember rejoicing. fall fashion

The fact that students have few limitations on their clothing greatly impacts our fall fashion.


Almost every teenage girl throughout the halls can be seen with scrunchies in her hair or on her wrist. This nineties comeback started relatively recently, seemingly being a way to spice up any look. Wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants? Throw on a patterned scrunchie and your look is complete. 

“My favorite fashion trends are Vans and scrunchies,” Thibodeau explains. She is often seen with a scrunchie on her wrist, and her collection is reaching the point of addiction. 

Scrunchies can be found anywhere from Walmart to Saks Fifth Avenue. In fact, the quirky hair accessory is sold for $150 at Versace, and Balenciaga boasts a $225 scrunchie made of lambskin and embezzled with gold detailing. And, let’s face it, if you slap those logos on anything, the price goes up at least $50. 

Mom Jeans 

Hermon High School’s edgiest students are often seen sporting mom jeans, often times ripped. The style of mom jeans is taken straight out of the eighties, proving that fashion trends always repeat themselves. Freshman, Alaina Adams, often scurries through Hollister looking for this specific type of high rise denim. She pairs it with her favorite belt, bought at Target for just $13.

Mom jeans have caused a rise in overall denim purchases, according to Today. It has been shown that before the comeback of these denim beauties, girls tended to reach for leggings or yoga pants, a simple and comfy addition to any look. 

Freshmen vs. Seniors 

Freshmen and seniors often sport quite different looks. “Something a lot of freshmen wear are puka shell necklaces,” Thibodeau speculates. “I don’t think as many seniors are wearing those, probably because of the VSCO Girl trend.” 

A high school fashion article would not be complete without discussing the controversial “VSCO Girl” style. Buzzfeed News defines a VSCO Girl as somebody that is seen sporting “… a Hydro Flask water bottle… a scrunchie around her wrist… [an] oversized tee, handmade friendship bracelets, puka shell necklaces, and Birkenstocks or Crocs.” 

VSCO girls were popularized through the famous lip syncing app Tiktok. But why is this new trend popular mostly with underclassmen? Alaina Adams says that she disagrees with this stereotype. 

“I think there’s an equal amount of VSCO girls in other grades,” Adams explains, “people just like to put it on freshmen.” 

Freshmen, whether they are VSCO girls or not, sometimes feel as though dressing in clothing that defines them in a certain niche will allow them to find new friends in a big, scary place like high school. This is the same reason people wear band tees: finding people that like similar things can automatically guarantee a friendship, because you will automatically have something to bond over. 

Feel free to take risks

No matter the body shape, race, gender, or class, high school is a place where many people feel like they can be free to express themselves. Certain clothing items can make one feel more confident in their appearance, something that is critical in insecure high school years. It doesn’t matter if wearing that vintage pair of shorts might make people question your fashion choices. Taking risks in fashion is important, so do not be afraid to do just that. 

Don’t Wait for the Weight Room

By Dawson Brown, Staff Writer / 10/15/2019

The weight room isn’t exactly for everyone but as the great Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, What we face may look insurmountable but, what I learned is that we are stronger than we know.”

All of us have seen, models, athletes, actors, or actresses bodies and wish that we had the definition or the size they have. You can have that dream body you want if you work for it. But, before you jump into the fire you need a plan. Knowing what you’re doing is crucial to your success. Whether you’re experienced or going for the first time, you’re going to want to follow these tips to make your time in the gym as best it could be for you and not the worst for your body. 

Pace Yourself

 When you start training, pacing yourself is the highest of importance in the weight room. This tip  involves technique and, if followed, prevents most injuries. Without technique, no matter the weight, you wont get any results, but you can cause long term injuries. Also, take small steps in the weight room and don’t try to do too much.  What I recommend is doing maxes a different day which is how much you can lift for one repetition, versus doing an endurance based workout which is more reps and sets which should be done on different days. Do what’s best for yourself but everyone should start slow as it’s the means for getting the best results in the smallest amount of time. weightroom

Don’t Work Through Injuries

Injuries aren’t the end of the world and you can always get back to where you were, but if you feel soreness, don’t panic, that is common when you train. You tear muscles when you train, which causes soreness.  Important muscles like a ligament, ACL or MCL are the muscles you need to be worrying about when feeling soreness. You tear muscles which’ll rebuild over time with a diet of heavy protein and Vitamin C, D and B12, as well as iron. Injuries can cause you to have to wait longer before returning to the weight room, so wait out the injury a recurring injury to avoid the injury in its entirety. 

Get a Workout Partner

If you find it hard to stay motivated, then get a workout partner, they will help keep you motivated and give you more time to rest. I’ve found that working long term with a partner will actually help you mentally and benefit you much more physically. What most people don’t recognize is that there is a mental aspect of training.  You won’t gain as much from training if your not confident or not focused in any way.

Don’t Start Big

Don’t start big, and I mean big as in when you start with training don’t look at the more experienced guy lifting 30 pounds like its nothing start low to grow which if you don’t you can cause injuries, and depending on your goal, won’t get you anywhere. Don’t be afraid to be judged. Even the strongest of bodybuilders started somewhere. I myself am returning to the weight room and starting to work all over again. It’s all about time and willingness to put in the time. What you do and your goals are your own, me for example, I want to get stronger and bigger or maybe you want to get the more defined body versus getting bigger entirely.

Basically, don’t go too fast, don’t work through injuries.get a buddy, start small. There is one another tip that doesn’t necessarily fit the criteria  for when you’re in the gym. That is to keep a healthy diet maintaining high protein and vitamins. Don’t be reliant on energy drinks or coffee. The best kind of energy is natural.

 A Reliable Resource Whether in the Weight Room or During School

 Mr. Marseille who consistently uses the weight room here at HHS has advice for any newcomers to the weight room:

“We all start somewhere so don’t be afraid to be judged and without the proper technique you won’t get the results you’re looking for and don’t be afraid to ask your fellow peers any questions as they started somewhere too”

As Mr. Marseille will be in the weight room, I will be too and I’m willing to answer any questions you may have. The weight room is all about achieving your goals and everyone and anyone can respect that. The weight room may not be for everyone, but you can’t say that if you don’t try. Bradley Martyn, a fitness youtuber known for his workout content on YouTube and instagram, has been one of the most motivational youtubers in the fitness community and had this to say about training: 

No matter the obstacle that you go through there is one thing you can be sure of.. It is designed to make you better……”

Self Worth Affects Student Performance 

By Alicia King, Staff Writer / 10/15/2019

Do you think you are capable of great things? If not, then why even bother trying? For many students with low self- esteem that’s the case, and in today’s society it’s very common.

Students have such a hard time realizing their own worth, that it’s even started to show in their schooling. It’s affecting the students schooling because their work is only going to be as good as their opinion on themselves. 

Have you ever seen a student do poorly on something, then soon hear “I didn’t even try on this.” According to Lillian Barry, a school guidance counselor at Hermon High School, this is a defense mechanism, it’s a lot less embarrassing to not succeed at something when you don’t try.  This is where the effort piece comes into play, the amount of effort students put into their work would increase immensely if the students had a sense of confidence for succeeding in the first place.

When asked whether or not a student’s learning is affected by their self worth, Leslie Smith, Director of Guidance at Hermon High School, says “Yes! Student’s self worth affects their daily learning… what they could normally do well, they wouldn’t have the confidence to continue to do.” This means that if a student could typically accomplish said task, then they felt like their own self worth decreased their ability to accomplish that task would also decrease.

Furthermore, if they feel like they can’t even accomplish the tasks that they used to easily accomplish, it’s unlikely that they will push themselves to take risks which in turn will take away their ability to reach their full potential. 

In order to truly be the most successful person you are capable of being, you must achieve the five tiers in Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs. Maslow’s triangle consists of psychological needs (food, water, etc), safety needs (security), belonging and love needs (friends, intimacy), esteem needs (feeling of accomplishment), and self actualization (achieving full potential). MHN

In order to complete the hierarchy of needs, you have to work from the bottom up, accomplishing each step at a time. So, in order to be as successful as possible then you need to attain a good sense of self esteem, and that includes in school. No matter how well any of the other needs are being met, if students don’t notice their own self worth, they will never be able to reach their full potentials in schooling and more. 

In the article “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” it is believed that, “…growth needs do not stem from a lack of something but from a desire to grow as a person.”  If the students truly wants to continue to gain knowledge and continue to gain as a person, they are very capable, although it may be very uncomfortable. 

According to Holly Cough, a health teacher at Hermon High School, you can’t be afraid to make mistakes, learning is going to be a struggle. You need to take risks, and push yourself to succeed, the more you experience the feeling of success the better you feel and the more inclined you are to work. 

Barry also believes that this can be changed, “Self worth is something that can be fostered through a strong support system,” she stated. So, although it may be uncomfortable and it may take time, with the right people and desire to succeed, it’s possible.

In the end, you will only ever be as successful as you think you are. Why limit yourself to low standards, when you can keep growing and accept yourself for who you are.