Castle High School’s annual Santa Switch Christmas dance took place on December 11th. Organized by Castle’s student council members, Santa Switch is looked forward to since the first day of school. After a year off due to Coronavirus limitations, the Knights return to the south gym for a night they will never forget.
The senior class was over the moon about being able to attend their final Christmas dance. Throughout the beginning of the year, rumors swarmed the halls about the dance being canceled or rescheduled because of increased levels of Covid-19.
Thinking ahead, the Castle High School administration made plans in advance to ensure their kids would have a safe night.
The school planned a date in January in case the December date was too premature. The members of Castle’s student council decided to prepare their big show anyway.
Luckily, students and staff continued to make safe decisions and keep health their number one priority.
Jenna Mesker, a senior at Castle High School, said that the line to get into the dance “wrapped all the way around the building.” There were over one thousand tickets sold.
The dance took place in the south gym, where several volunteers handed out water and checked jackets right outside. A specially hired DJ played music requested by the students and staff all night. Seniors naturally packed in the front, juniors behind them and so on. Lainey Browning, a senior student council member, says that she “found herself in the middle of a dance circle” at one point in the night.
Thank you to Castle High School’s student council, staff, and students for making Santa Switch 2021 a night to remember. We will see you at prom!
On December 31, 2021, “Cobra Kai” season 4 debuted on Netflix to mass success. The follow up series to the 1984 film “The Karate Kid” has quickly become one of the top shows on the streaming service and has been one of my personal favorite series as well.
Kicking off at the exact moment that season 3 ended, this season follows lead stars Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) as they unite their karate dojos in order to defeat the villainous Cobra Kai dojo led by sadistic sensei John Kreese. Keeping with the tradition of bringing back supporting characters from the original trilogy of “The Karate Kid” movies, season 4 reunites the cast with “The Karate Kid Part III” villain Terry Silver, an outrageously over the top karate instructor and friend of Kreese.
The main positive take-aways I have for season 4 of “Cobra Kai” include the relationships between the main characters and the toned down action. Characters such as Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) and Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) evolve over the course of the season in very interesting ways that always keep the viewer invested in the story. The relationship between Daniel and Johnny is also very fun, as both men have to deal with their clashing personalities and karate styles. The addition of new characters is another positive factor for the season. The new Cobra Kai student Kenny is immediately liked by the audience and you get attached to him quickly, wanting to see his storylines end in a good way.
I also enjoyed how the action in this season is toned down from season 3. There are no longer any crazy fights resulting in broken bones and near death injuries, something that really made season 3 feel cartoonish. Now, most of the action actually revolves around karate matches and is much more realistic.
The only negatives I could give this season of “Cobra Kai” are that the characters of Sam LaRusso (Mary Mouser) and Tory Nichols (Peyton List) are kind of annoying this year. Sam becomes almost antagonistic towards the others and it ruins the wholesome character she previously had. The series also tries to make Tory a more relatable and sympathetic character, even though she has done so much in previous years that she is virtually unsavable. It does not work very well to try and make someone who viciously attacks other students into a likeable star.
Overall, I really enjoyed this season of “Cobra Kai.” I think it works a lot better than the previous season and leaves me waiting for more. “Cobra Kai” is currently available on Netflix, so start streaming now!
Gavin J. Wood
The skilled group members of We the People made it to state this year. It took place in Indianapolis on December 8th. All units went to state but one that came out victorious was Unit 1. This unit is about Political Philosophy and the members in this unit are seniors Jenny Donnelly, Layla Wandel, and Carter Lynn. This diverse team all worked together to encourage each other to come out on top.
Jenny Donnelly, a senior, describes this class and experience as “eye-opening” and “thought provoking.”
The class was not able to go to regionals this year in person due to COVID-19, but it did still go on virtually. Luckily state was able to happen in person with masks being required. Although this is a class the students in it enjoy traveling and going to these meets because it allows them to show what they've been practicing and what they know.
Amanda Antey, sponsor and teacher of the class, elaborates on the foundations of the class and competition.
“We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is the ultimate group project,” said Antey. ”It is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, a yearly competition involving high school students from throughout the United States. The competition simulates a congressional hearing. The class is divided into six units, each composed of three to six students. Each unit focuses on a particular area of Constitutional interest - from the philosophical underpinnings and Constitutional Convention to the Bill of Rights and modern day implications. Students are judged on criteria such as their understanding, reasoning, responsiveness, and use of constitutional applications.”
While they are competing they are asked a series of complex questions about their certain topic or unit and they must answer with the help of their group members only. The units this year had many outstanding responses and never folded under the immense pressure.
Antey, as the teacher, has normal teacher responsibilities, but also gets to be involved with all the unit's group work and help them learn more about their government and politics. She enjoys politics and government and loves being able to watch as throughout the year the kids get better and more knowledgeable.
“I love politics, debate, and public speaking,“ said Antey. ”Civic Education is something very important to me and I enjoy seeing the students grow and learn over the course of the semester.”
Once again, Castle High School held their annual Mr. Castle Contest. Unfortunately, last year the event was cancelled; however, the school was in the clear to conduct it in 2021. This event is essentially a beauty pageant for the senior boys in order to raise money for the Castle High School Show Choirs and Teen Power. It is a great way to raise money while also increasing some school spirit.
Before the event was conducted, Rob DiComandrea, the head of the event and choreographer for the show choir, held many practices in order to prepare. At each practice, the boys worked hard to make the show go smoothly, mixed with much laughter.
The different sections conducted at the event included talent, swimsuit, and question & answer. All areas were age appropriate and kept very clean so that all ages could enjoy. During the show, the audience could use money to represent their vote for each senior guy. Each dollar equaled one vote, so it was very competitive.
Other sections of the show included the Junior Challenge in which five junior boys were selected from the audience and taken through three sections of challenges ending with one boy as the winner. Another section included the Prince Of Paradise, a new event this year! About ten freshman guys were selected to learn a dance and perform in front of the audience in hopes of gathering boys in younger grades to hopefully be involved in Mr. Castle as a senior.
After all of the sections were completed, the votes were tallied and the awards were distributed. Four girls who were called The Girls in Gold, helped Rob distribute each award to the men. The girls included Lauren Matuscak, Carli Stotlar, Addi Will, and Lainey Browning.
Some boys received awards including Jacob Adams who was recognized for best talent, Hayden Gorman who got a perfect attendance award and was second runner up, Dominik McCullagh who also had perfect attendance, and Evan Reff finished 3rd runner up. Various other awards were given away, too!
Senior, Evan Reff, said his favorite part of the show, “was seeing all of it come together and hearing the crowd enjoy the show.” Many boys said the same. That even though the practices were hard and long, it was all worth it. Many boys said their favorite part was hanging out with their friends at the practices, but the mass majority said it was the talent section, which was also reflected by the audience's applause and laughter as that took place.
Much thanks going to the light crew, backstage crew, and most importantly, Rob DiComandrea. This event was wonderful and so much fun for everyone involved and will be heavily anticipated next year!
For some unknown reason, Disney decided to release a remake(?), reboot(?) or possibly a sequel(?) to the 1990 Christmas classic “Home Alone” entitled “Home Sweet Home Alone” (2021). And while this movie does its best to capture the fun of the original, it ultimately falls flat.
As a very big fan of the first two “Home Alone” movies (and a defender of the underrated third movie), this new addition to the franchise disappointed me in almost every way. Starting with the main child actor, Archie Yates, the movie failed to capture my attention. Yates is actually a talented performer as he showed in his performance as Yorki in the movie “Jojo Rabbit” (2019), but here he just angers me. It feels like he is trying way too hard to be quirky or amusing like Macaulay Culkin, but without any of the actual ability to do so. This is not even a diss on Yates as an actor but more on the choice to cast him here. It’s hard to create a child leading character that does not come off as cheesy or annoying, and Yates is just another example of this. He will probably end up being a very successful dramatic actor as he continues to work in Hollywood, but this role was just not the right fit for him.
I also have to criticize the entire storyline and script of the movie. Although it follows the general storyline of the original, consisting of two crooks breaking into the young boy’s home and squaring off against him while he is home alone, it fails miserably in making this an enjoyable story. The crooks featured here are a married couple going through hard financial times, and they choose to rob Yates’ home to reclaim a priceless doll they believe he stole from them. The movie fails instantly at the most important part of the “Home Alone” franchise. The audience needs to want to see the crooks fall to a bunch of elaborate traps that the main character sets up, but in this movie I don’t want to see them suffer at all. The crook couple actually seem like normal and likeable people so it is just annoying and frustrating to see them be attacked by all of these complex traps. It’s not even fun to see this happen and I would rather watch almost anything else instead.
Another thing that is pretty awful about this movie is the main character Max’s family the Mercer’s. In the original movie, it’s really easy to see how the main child does not get along with his family and it makes the ending where they make up much more realistic and emotional. But that doesn’t happen here. There is only a small argument between Max and his mother that does not actually portray them as having a bad relationship, giving no weight to the reunion at the end.
This movie fails at almost every aspect that it tries to accomplish. The only happiness I felt during the movie was seeing the character Buzz McCallister return in a cameo by Devin Ratray. Other than that, there is nothing of substance in this movie and I would highly recommend not watching it.
Gavin J. Wood
The boys basketball team set the standard for the season in their home opener against Princeton this past Tuesday. The opposing Tigers posed as fierce competition, given they already had two games under their belt. Since two of the teams' starters were out as a result of various injuries, a new lineup came into play. The Knights proved that no amount of adversity would affect their outcome.
"This season is going to be the best one yet" says Weston Aigner, #24.
Standout player, Aigner, led the team with 22 points and a number of hustle plays that gave his teammates opportunities to score. Aigner is a known name in the Castle community given his accomplishments in the football season. As a wide receiver, Weston Aigner had 668 receiving yards where he averaged over 19 yards per catch. Despite his triumph in the fall, Aigner continued to work toward his next goal: basketball.
The majority of the starters for Castle's team are juniors. Having that young of a team hints toward a promising season next year, too. The current lineup is full of returners, and the chemistry is already tight.
The Knights will play their next home game against Harrison on December 10. This game will be another test for the Knights, as the Warriors present a challenge each year.
Layla Leigh Wandel
Castle girls volleyball makes their way to Ball State after a fantastic semi-state win. Preparing all year for this post season game, the Lady Knights were more than prepared.
Dan Watson, Castle’s girls volleyball head coach, has worked day and night with fourteen girls in order to succeed this season. Starting off strong, the varsity players trained constantly in hopes of achieving one goal: make history.
Not only did the Lady Knights practice five to six times a week, they prioritized team bonding. The girls came up with the saying “fourteen strong” to represent the importance of playing together as one. The Castle Knights thrived in their family-like environment. Whether it was during games or practices, “nothing beats the feeling of having an entire team supporting you no matter the circumstances,” says Layla Wandel, a senior varsity player.
Heading into championship season, nerves were high. The girls carried a lot of pressure to take this team to the next level. However, winning came easy in the beginning. Game after game, the Lady Knights swept the court, rarely even losing a set. Campbell Mcbride, a senior on the varsity lineup, says “we felt like we were on fire, there was nothing stopping us from here on out.”
The energy was high when the semi-state match rolled around. Walking into the Jasper High School gymnasium, the Lady Knights were surrounded by blue and gold. Fans from all over southern Indiana drove the hour to support their Castle Family. Lainey Browning, a castle senior, “has never felt more alive than that moment.” As soon as the starting lineup hit the court, everything became real.
The Lady Knights battled Roncalli, another extremely talented team of players. The first set of the evening, Castle fought hard. Having to win by 2 points, the Lady Knights did not give up until the final became 29-27. With one win already, the Knight's confidence was booming. The castle High School student section became a roaring sea of blue. Second set the knights swept 25-20. At this point during the game, Castle knew they had made it. Thriving off of their success, the Lady Knights finished the third set 25-23, winning the semi-state championship title.
Castle High School girls volleyball won semi-state for the first time in school history. Their goal of making the castle recognizable was not only achieved, but viewed as one of the greatest athletic achievements of Castle High School. The semi-state championship game was a day Knight Nation will never forget.
Concluding the successful fall sports season, many athletes have made the decision to continue playing their sport at the collegiate level. On National Signing Day, eleven students at Castle signed their letters of intent to play at their desired school. The Class of 2022 has been known to excel at all aspects, but especially sports. The high number of signees is a testament to this fact. Read more about the eleven signees below:
Colton Tang, the first of the signees, committed to the University of Southern Indiana for the sport of swimming. Tang began his swimming career later than many, starting sophomore year, but immediately excelled in his events. As fun as competing is to him, Tang notes that the best part of the sport is the team chemistry. Be sure to support Colton Tang and his teammates at their winter meets!
Jacob Barrett signed his letter of intent to play at Murray State University in the fall in pursuit of a degree in exercise science. Barrett has played baseball for 10 years, and he recently made the decision to focus on pitching. The competition that baseball brings is what keeps his fire for the game alive. Barrett is well-known for his grit: outside of the school season Barrett continues to play baseball on his PRP Mambas travel team and is even a member of the school's football team.
Parker Speth has made his commitment to Indiana State University to continue making strides in pole vault. While he has been competing in this sport for four years, his junior season is his most notable. At the conclusion of last year, Speth was named All Conference, the SIAC Record Holder, a State Meet Medalist, and performed his personal best of 15'2". Speth comments on how there is no better feeling than clearing the bar and knowing the community is behind you.
Jackie Lis, the next commit, is a middle infield and outfield for Castle's softball team. Lis will continue the family legacy at Southern Illinois University next fall, playing for the same coach as her Aunt Becky did years before her. Family is a big part of the sport to her, as nearly every member of her family has played or coached softball at some point. Lis has played softball for fifteen years, and while she enjoys the thrill of the game, she is most thankful for the experiences it has brought her. Getting to play travel ball has granted her the opportunity to travel to many places around the United States, meet her best friends, and continue her education at no cost.
Madison Beckhart is a true definition of someone overcoming adversity. After going through painful elbow surgery, and continuing to recover from it, Beckhart's drive and skill still landed her a spot on the John A. Logan softball team. Pat Lockyear, the coach of the girls' softball team at Castle, commented in his speech on how determined Beckhart is and how that makes her a great senior leader. Beckhart considers her teammates and coaches to be a second family and looks forward to making similar connections to a whole new batch of people in college.
Troon Houlton signed his letter of intent to play Division 1 lacrosse at the University of Delaware. While Houlton excels athletically, his efforts in the classroom are something that makes him stand out from other athletes. One of the key points his coach, Tim Clark, made in his speech was how proud he was to relay Houlton's transcripts to the Delaware coaches. Houlton's drive for achievement in all aspects of life and lack of complacency is what has granted him a spot on UD's lacrosse team.
Hannah Eilert excels in anything she puts her mind to. This drive has translated to her athletic and academic ability. Next fall, Eilert will study engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and play lacrosse as a Charger Blue. Eilert has played as a midfield for five years on many successful teams: Circle City, Castle, and the Gators.
"My favorite part of the game is the feeling you get when you work hard against a good team and come out on top with a win," Eilert notes. Thanks to her commitment, Hannah is sure to experience many more of these feelings.
Alyssa Burglund signed her committment to continue playing volleyball at Illinois College. Alyssa has been a right side hitter for eight years, and her success helped lead her team to a State Final in her final season. Burglund's favorite part of volleyball is her teammates. As one of nine seniors in the graduating class for volleyball, Burglund has grown to appreciate the community that surrounds sports.
The second volleyball player to sign is Olivia Patton. Patton plays for Castle as a pin hitter, but is noted for her ability to move around in order to help the team succeed. Daniel Watson, the head volleyball coach for Castle, remarks on Patton as being a "utility player". Having these attributes makes Olivia Patton a valuable member of her team. In the fall, Patton will attend Kentucky Wesleyan College.
As Castle's four-year starting Varsity defense specialist, it is no wonder that Keira Moore is continuing her career at the collegiate level. In the fall, Moore will attend the University of Southern Indiana in pursuit of a Psychology and Criminal Justice degree. This season alone, Moore was named 1st Team All-District, 1st Team All-SIAC, Academic All-State, and an All-American Honorable Mention. In her seven years of playing, Moore is most grateful for the bonds she has made as a result of volleyball.
Abby Rhoutsong signed her NLI to play at the University of Southern Indiana. As a four-year member of the soccer team, Rhoutsong is noted for her quiet leadership. She leads by example, something many people strive to do. In her three years as captain, Rhoutsong has led her team to two sectional championships and a regional championship. Her achievements have granted her a spot on the All-State Academic team, 1st Team All-District Team, and All-State Honorable Mention.
Layla Leigh Wandel
Cross Country is a sport that both grows the individual to higher heights, but also the team as a whole. Running side by side with the team you're working with but also competing against creates a great energy for the runners. It is an adrenaline rush all in one. As this season approached the Castle team, they were ready to feel this emotion.
Throughout the summer, oftentimes, many of the cross country runners would be seen taking a run along the river or throughout their neighborhoods. Their commitment to get better was printed on their face. Their coach, also known as Coach Ed, regularly held runs along the river or at the Castle track. This helped the group grow together and strengthen their personal running skills.
Freshman, Brent Guyer, started running with Castle for the first time this summer, but has been running since he was in elementary school. He enjoys running around his neighborhood and is fueled by his team's enthusiasm and passion for the sport. He finished off the season well and even made his personal record of twenty minutes in a 5k race. He expressed his thankfulness, but also excitement for the upcoming years.
Audrey Spurling, a junior on the team, has also voiced her enjoyment throughout the season. Spurling has been running for almost eight years alongside her brother who originally introduced her. She said running with her brother brought them closer together and allowed for many memories to be made. Although she does not plan to run in college, she thanks cross country for introducing her to many new friends and how to better encourage her teammates.
Lastly, Trevor Monroe, the record breaker of the season. Senior on the Castle cross country team has overcome more milestones than believed to have existed. Running for a little over ten years now, Monroe has been heavily influenced by many people. Their influence alongside his talent has pushed him to be able to complete the State race in 16th place, become a Regional Champ, and get a course record at the Alan Hopewell Invitational. He hopes to continue his athletic career at BYU, but whatever Monroe does, the Castle community is behind him.
All in all, cross country is a great sport. Encouraging and cheering for each other is a part of the game. Without that, many do not achieve the times they strive for or give up on their goals.
“I started running because I liked the challenge, and it's simple, no timeouts, no halftime, you just run," says Gabe Land, a three year member of the Castle cross country team.
This stands to be very true. It's a simple sport. The energy around it is encouraging and the kids love it. The Castle community is proud of everyone and their accomplishments.
Released on October 8th, 2021, “No Time to Die” has soared in theatres and officially ended the Daniel Craig era of James Bond movies.
I had the capacity to view the new addition to the franchise last weekend, and I must say that I was impressed with the final Craig film. Daniel Craig has consistently made very good Bond movies (“Quantum of Solace” can be ignored) during his tenure as the infamous intelligence agent, and this one is one of the best.
To start off, Bond himself here is pretty awesome. You immediately buy Craig’s Bond as a dangerous weapon who could defeat nearly anyone in combat. The opening scene features a car chase through the streets of Italy and it might just be one of the coolest scenes in the franchise. There is not a doubt in any viewer’s mind that this James Bond is a skilled and lethal combatant.
Additionally, the action and fight scenes here are strong as well. Fights between Bond and the lead villain Safin (Rami Malek) are very well done and create great tension during their scenes. Even without the story elements that I love, the action alone would make this an above average Bond film.
As I hinted at above, the storyline in “No Time to Die” is phenomenal as well. Watching an older and more hardened Bond take on a villain that is quite possibly smarter and more menacing than Bond himself is enjoyable and cool to see. I also loved the Bond girls featured in this movie. Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) is a great love interest for James Bond, and you honestly buy into the fact that they are in love. The addition of Lashana Lynch as Nomi, the new 007 agent, was a great idea. She quickly sets herself up as a suave and talented spy who is worthy of the 007 moniker. Also, the briefly seen Paloma portrayed by Ana de Armas was superb as well. I would definitely watch a spinoff project of either of these characters if that ever happened.
The plot of the movie is undoubtedly predictable, but that does not necessarily make it a bad thing. The ending fit the story perfectly and was a great send-off for Daniel Craig in his final performance as Bond.
The only real constructive criticism I can give “No Time to Die” is that the villain Safin is sort of underutilized. While Rami Malek does a good job portraying the character, he just is not featured in enough of the film to truly become someone we are interested in. He shows up just enough to keep the plot moving but does not add anything new to the franchise.
Overall, I really enjoyed “No Time to Die.” I think it was a great ending for Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond and a great Bond movie as well. While it is probably not my favorite of the series, I would highly recommend it to any Bond fans and any fans of espionage and action films, too.