Most anticipated movies of 2018

by Brandon Matzke

Happy 2018 everybody! New year, new films, same old me. To kick off the new year, I decided to look at the films I’m looking forward to this year. Obviously, I can’t predict if these will be good or not, but these are just the ones I’m looking forward to. Of course, we have different tastes; I’m not looking forward to Continue reading →

Giving during the Holidays

by Alyssa Potyraj

Have you ever donated to charity ? Now have you ever donated to a charity not during the holiday season? Why is it that we are more willing to donate during the Holidays when the need is prevalent throughout the entire year? This trend has become so powerful it has created a global movement of giving back referred to as “Giving Tuesday” following Thanksgiving. This movement is meant to join everyone together in order to do good and help people focus on others while they are in the giving spirit.

As the holiday season begins to ramp up, the opportunities for donating seem to increase exponentially. From Thanksgiving food drives to Toys for Tots and Salvation Army donations. According to the San Diego Foundation “38 percent of those who donate to charity said that they are more likely to do so during the holiday season.”

Jen Timmer who works at a local shelter downtown said that her shelter is impacted by this trend.

“We generally get the bulk of our donations between Thanksgiving and January 1st,” Timmer said. “We also have a couple of major fundraisers that bring in a large portion of our monetary donations. The fundraisers are held in March and November.”


Many people donate during the holidays because it is convenient and encouraged throughout the “season of giving.” Sophomore Cici Lowe said that she donated to the school wide food drive because her teacher encouraged their class and she also has seen the good in donating to the less fortunate. Cici has also helped at local soup kitchens with her church mostly around Christmas time.

Although donating is highly encouraged around the holidays, it is important to donate year round. Timmer states that it is important to do so because “the shelter often run low on important items which we then have to purchase it which negatively affects our budget. The needs do not go away outside the season of giving yet the donations seem to slowly fade away leaving shelves of shelters bare and empty throughout the remainder of the year.”

Many people donate because it makes them feel good inside but they don’t always realize the impacts of the donations. Timmer explains a time when she felt that the shelter greatly impacted people in need through the kindness of others.

“A huge donation which took a few years to produce is our side yard. It is a safe play yard that gets a ton of use by our families. This donation came from Junior League who came to us as volunteers and really became passionate about our cause. They took on the side yard as Signature Project and designed an awesome play space for our kids. The kids are able to play with their moms, other children and with staff. They feel safe in the environment and enjoy it very much!” Timmer said.

Many people who have received donations in the past feel as they need to give back or donate later in life to help others in the same way they have been helped. A local kettle bell ringer in Grandville shared her story of why she gives back during the holiday season.

“When I was unemployed, Salvation Army helped my children to have a Christmas by providing them with gifts, so now I give back to help others,” she said.

Donating is beneficial all year round so it is important to continue giving outside of the holiday season. It not only helps the less fortunate but it also makes you feel good doing something for the greater good.

Go Green!

by Alyssa Koon

Most students at Grandville High School recycle. In fact, about 87.4% say they recycle. Rhayna Lillie, president of the Green Team says, “at my house, we often recycle more than we throw away.”

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The GHS Green Team has had a big impact on making the school more environmentally safe. They helped to spread the word that we should be taking care of our recyclables and we should be cleaning up after ourselves. The Green Team hasn’t always been called the Green Team though.

“We had a conservation club for a couple years until I realized students did not know what it was because, funny story actually…” Mr Randall said. “One day a student showed up and said, ‘I’m here for the conversation club’ and I said, ‘what do you mean?’ and they said, ‘I like to talk, let’s have conversation’ and I said, ‘No, no. This is the conservation club’ and they said, ‘what’s that?’”

Mr. Randall knew after that encounter with the student that the Conservation Club needed a new name and maybe then it would be more popular and get more attention. He made a good decision by changing the name. More students became interested in the club and he saw an increase in attendance at the meetings.

Rhayna joined the team on a whim her junior year. She did not begin attending meetings until late in the second semester because there were a few seniors who were in charge and they were not the best at including others. She decided to run for president her senior year.

“My decision to try to become president was to hopefully change the group so that others didn’t feel the way I did and also to try to push harder to really get things done rather than just meeting early in the mornings every other week,” Rhayna said.

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Rhayna has been passionate about keeping the environment safe for a long time. She enjoys watching documentaries and researching environmental issues.

“Recycling is important to me because of how much trash gets put into our environment each day,” Rhayna said. “This is a particular problem in our oceans as there are multiple ‘garbage patches,’ one of which they estimate to be about the size of Texas, that are filled with microplastics or shredded pieces of plastic that are perfect for animals to swallow and can cause them harm. Our trash shouldn’t be in their environment and many people don’t know about or understand this issue.”

Other people just recycle because it seems like the right thing to do. One student said, “I don’t really care but if it means a better future for my future kids, then sure I’ll do it”.

Recycling has not always been around. It started popping up about 20 years ago and has become more popular year after year.

“It wasn’t a thing when I was a little boy. It wasn’t available,” Randall said. In his early adulthood, “communities started to offer that as an option and you know I just felt like it was the right thing to do. We kinda did it a little bit and recycled some and, you know as a homeowner, it costs a little bit of money, $10 a month or something, no big deal”.

However, $10 a month is what keeps some families from recycling. Recycling comes with a cost. It is not free. Caleb Jelsma-Cale’s family does not recycle due to the fees that come with it. However, Kent County offers free recycling dump- stations where you can go to drop off your recycling. The three locations are Recycling & Education Center, North Kent Transfer Station, and Kentwood Public Works Facility.

Randall said he started recycling because it felt right, but continued for other reasons.

“You know we start to see more and more of the effects of environmental issues, climate change and those types of things and as I got older and in my thirties, I started to feel like it was much more important to reduce our footprint and be a better example for our neighbor and my students and our adult friends and that’s just one thing we can do to demonstrate that we feel it’s important to take care of our footprint. So it’s not just about recycling because recycling isn’t the answer. Recycling helps a little bit if I am being honest, it helps a little, it doesn’t help a lot in terms of the environment because we still generate way too much waste, we use way too much plastic, but this is my demonstrating to the people around us that we care about our environment, it’s more symbolic.” -Mr. Randall

Rhayna shares, “One thing that I do outside of recycling to help the environment is that I’m a vegetarian. People may not realize this but the way that we handle our livestock is extremely bad for the environment. Cows in particular release more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation system combined and a lot of that is methane which has an exponentially greater effect. The best way to eat concerning the environment and really your health is a full vegan plant-based diet but that is very difficult with our animal product saturated society. For me though, being vegetarian is a very easy choice with everything that I have learned”.

The Green Team’s stated goal is to raise awareness amongst high schoolers about environmental issues and to help the high school reduce its footprint. The team hopes to raise enough money to be able to purchase renewable energy for GHS. Their goal is to have several solar panels on the roof of our building that will reduce the cost of heating/cooling in our building. Using the excess money these panels will save, the hope is to buy other products that are safer for the environment like motion sensor lights and hand dryers.

If you are interested in participating or learning more about the Green Team, their meetings are every other Wednesday morning at 7am. You can also contact Mr. Randall or Rhayna for more information.


Black Friday Soon to be Forgotten?

by Lizzy Pena

Black Friday. Otherwise known as the craziest shopping day of the entire year. It’s the day right after Thanksgiving that everyone wakes up at the crack of dawn for. What makes waking up an hour after you go to bed so worth it? The deals.

Stores all around the U.S give out insane deals to try to get people to come into their stores.

“I’ve gone in the past because I wanted to experience the craziness,” freshman Jane Durham said. “Everyone always made it seem like the lines would be out the building and the people would be unusually insane. Yeah they were right.”  

Recently there has been news of Black Friday slowing down and eventually dying out.

When asked how she felt about this, freshman Chloe Beatty said it wouldn’t affect her much.IMG_1943

“I do most of my shopping online anyways, and so do my parents,” Beatty said. “But a lot of other people will probably miss it.”

Senior Taelor Peaks works at the Kohls in the Rivertown mall and said “I couldn’t imagine not having a mile long line out the door on Black Friday.”

Most stores would probably notice the difference, too. Black Friday is the kick off of the holiday season, so the loss of the holiday shopping would be very noticeable. 30% of annual earnings are made between Black Friday and Christmas.

Store employees can tell you crazy stories about Black Friday shoppers.

Jaela Divers, a junior at GHS and an employee at Justice, recalled a time she was working Black Friday, and two teenage girls ripped a shirt in half trying to grab it from one another.

“They looked like nice girls,” Divers said. “I never would have expected they could tear a pretty thick sweater right down the middle.”

There are numerous stories of how crazy people get on :lack Friday.

Junior Becca Larson explained a time when her grandma “Had to literally use me as a human shield since I was only twelve, she thought people would be a little less violent towards me!”

Black Friday will always be remembered whether it stays or goes. It’s kind of an unspoken holiday, but will it be replaced by Cyber Monday? This year’s lines will give us a look into the future.  

Is Fantasy Football a problem?

by Mitchell Karcher

Every Sunday, around 33 million are frantically looking at their fantasy lineup in hopes that their fantasy team will produce a win for them. Whether they are involved in a league concerning money, or just simply love the competition, it is fair to assume that fantasy football is one of the most addicting games out there.

For those who don’t know what fantasy football is, essentially around ten people in a league draft players from the NFL to play for their fantasy team. In turn, every yard, completion, and a touchdown that player gains, gives their team a certain amount of points, which adds together with the rest of the players on the team.

Though many criticize the game for taking the team aspect and interest out of the game, the $70 billion dollars made yearly off fantasy leagues would argue otherwise. Obviously, a lot of people are playing this game, which generates $11 billion towards the NFL. It’s a great business, however, the real question is whether or not this game is good for NFL players?

GHS Miles Balley, JV football player, had an interesting take on if the game is actually good for the player.

“This year I had the first round pick in my fantasy football league. Having knowledge of the players, I went after and got David Johnson. Unfortunately, the first game of the season he broke his wrist, ending his season along with my hopes of winning my fantasy football league,” Balley said. “My immediate reaction was anger towards him until I came to my senses and realized he’s just a normal guy who got hurt in a football game. So in relation to is it good for players, I would have to say it can’t be great if people are getting mad at NFL players for losing their fantasy season for them. It just doesn’t seem like a healthy fan relationship.”


Interesting enough it seems as though many NFL players have this same opinion. Being the ones that are risking their physical health, many of the players feel that it is unfair to judge a player based on what he can do for their fantasy team. In response to being asked what he thinks about fantasy football, Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks gave his honest opinion.

According to The Seattle Times, he said, “You are thinking oh man, he’s messing up my fantasy team, but they don’t care how it affects your fantasy team, because they are real players, and this is real life.”

However, not everyone had the same opinion that Miles and Richard had on the subject.  Aiden Herrema, JV cornerback, made a counter to the previous comments.

“When I used to watch football when I didn’t play fantasy, I knew pretty much the players on the Lions and the superstars of the league, but after I started playing I would honestly say I more than doubled my knowledge of players playing in the league, people I never knew existed all of a sudden popped up on my roster, and I started to acknowledge more players.”

There really seems to be two trains of thought on this matter as other students  essentially said the same exact thing. People have very little knowledge of the players before they start playing fantasy.

In a fast-paced constantly changing world, people feel the need to be in control. Fantasy football allows average people to feel that they have some sort of control in the football world, but whether this helps the NFL player’s reputation or damages it is still up for consideration.



“Sowing Seeds Daily”

by Jess Wolfe

“The idea of bringing the production of fresh wholesome food hyperlocal to communities is really the mission,” Brian Harris said. 


Esmee Arugula – Brian’s favorite leafy green


Retiree Brian Harris has been growing two acres worth of crops inside a shipping container in downtown Grand Rapids ever since June of 2017. His aspiration to grow using hydroponics stemmed from a curiosity about indoor urban agriculture.

“I had to self-educate myself . I’m not a farmer, I come from the steel industry and furniture industry.”

Brian started experimenting in his basement, learning different ways to grow hydroponically, and aeroponically.

“I got hooked because there are so many interesting aspects of both biology, and science, and technology associated with it.”

Brian came across a producer of a container farm out of Boston, Massachusetts called Freight Farms. This company produces customized container farms suitable for all climates, even extreme environments, such as Alaska and Saudi Arabia where fresh, nutritious vegetables never used to be accessible.


“I thought it would be a good way to introduce Grand Rapids to what the idea of indoor urban agriculture is all about.” 

Soil-free, pesticide-free, low waste, low cost, and using only 5% of the water that traditional soil farming uses.

There is no need to use herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides because of the controlled environment with no pests or weeds. The solution given to the plants includes the basic minerals that plants normally find in soil. These nutrient elements are water soluble with zero chemicals or synthetics.

“I think it’s important to grow food that is organic. Everything stems from what you eat. When you eat healthy, everything is generally better,” Grandville High School Environmental Science student Madison Humphry said. 



Plant nutrient system


Plants don’t see light the same way humans see light. They only see the blue and red end of the spectrum.


“We don’t waste any energy producing light for them that is not useful.”

LED technology has changed the industry dramatically because they are cool to the touch and don’t generate a lot of heat, meaning they can hang close to the plants without putting heat stress on them. It is also 65% more efficient than typical lighting. Brian runs the LED lighting throughout the night. Electricity is cheaper at night, thus saving money.


Everything is controlled through Brian’s phone. The LED lights and cooling system can be turned on and off. The nutrient levels can be adjusted. The only thing Brian cannot do from his phone is transplant seedlings and harvest.

“I think that what Brian is doing is pretty cutting edge and really new. I think in general there’s an understanding that urban agriculture is beneficial for our community. We want easily accessible, local food options that are healthy for us and create job opportunities and all the sorts of things Brian is looking to develop through his project,” Leison of the Urban Agriculture Committee Catherine Zietse said.

Food waste is an emerging problem in society right now. Traditionally in a field harvest, plants are cut at the stem.

“And at that instant they are on the dying end of life as opposed to the thriving end of life.”

This means shelf life for a field grown crop is very short and much of it ends up getting thrown out because it is not consumed quick enough. To reduce or potentially eliminate the issue of food waste, Brian is able to harvest his plants with the roots still attached, meaning it is still alive. The shelf life of hydroponically grown plants is much longer than field grown crops. Another aspect of reducing food waste, comes from the controlled environment, allowing all crops to ‘look good’ and appear consistently uniform. This means the consumer is less likely to throw out oddly shaped produce.

“An ugly carrot is an ugly carrot, but it still tastes the same.”


“Our motto here is ‘sowing seeds daily,’ and so it’s not literally just sowing seeds, it’s sowing seeds of knowledge, education, and health. Our mission is not just to run this as a business but to actually impact the community and create jobs.”

365 days a year, every seven weeks marks a new harvest. 

“We can grow specialty crops that most farmers don’t want to get involved with because they’re trying to grow large volumes of highly consumed product, like romaine, iceberg, and those common things. The idea here is that the world is full of great tasting lettuce and greens that we just don’t get the chance to get because no one is growing them.”



Exotic Rosie Pac Choi



Current zoning ordinances prevent putting a farm next to a school, grocery store, or in a vacant neighborhood lot. With a struggle to get a permit for the shipping container in downtown Grand Rapids and battle to convince the city of what he is doing, Brian recently testified at city hall, before the Urban Agriculture Committee. Many people are unsure about what hydroponics really is.


Brian explains the exceptional flavor of his Butterhead Lettuce

“Grand Rapids will be in a learning curve and I’m hoping to help them learn.”

Brian explained we’re going to have to work with Grand Rapids on bridging the understanding that as a footprint this is not incompatible with neighborhoods. There’s not a lot of light, noise, or biomass pollution.

“On behalf of the Urban Agriculture Committee, we are completely for what Brian is doing in terms of bringing agriculture to the hyperlocal area,” Catherine Zietse said.

As of right now, no one else is growing hydroponic food in Grand Rapids. This is a big reason why the city is hesitant to adopt this new way of growing.



Restaurants and chefs have come to the farm and have tasted the products and seen the process. They are all interested in having the produce in their restaurants and grocery stores. His first delivery to restaurants around Grand Rapids will occur at the end of November.


Looking further into the future, 

Brian will only be operating out of his current shipping container for about two years because the ultimate goal is not to run this as a business out of a container but to actually scale up to a larger ten thousand square foot facility. The ten thousand square foot facility will yield the equivalent of about 60-65 acres of crop.

“At that scale, we’re talking real jobs and intentionally hyperlocal jobs in the inner-city and the intent is that it has an impact on the economics and the opportunities in that neighborhood from an employment standpoint.”

Hydroponic farming not only has the potential to scale up but also to scale down, where it can be put into a biology lab or into a classroom, creating a curriculum around the biology of plants, the science of chemistry, or even engineering and innovation. The opportunities for new learning are endless.

Senior Madison Humphrey from Grandville High School’s Environmental Science class is working on a scaled-down hydroponic farming project. Her goal is to provide 5 families with low-cost organic food. If the trend of student-led hydroponic farming continues, it has the power to transform many communities for the better.






Hydroponic indoor farming is emerging all over the world, with the controlled environment solving many environmental, health, and inner-city problems.

“There’s a value on local, there’s a value on fresh, there’s a value on organics.”

Brian Harris is starting an innovative, eye-opening movement in Grand Rapids with a lot of potential to grow and transform our city to an even more sustainable place.

“The main thing it’s really doing is bringing consumable leafy greens and vegetables hyperlocal for the benefit of health, wellness, and general happiness. “