The Durant High School Paw Print

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How Students Can Start Preparing For College

With college weighing heavily on the minds of most high school students, it is important to develop habits to reduce stress and to stay on top of deadlines. Over the summer, Durant High School hired a new College and Career counselor, Samantha Origlia, to help guide students on their path to college.

Both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Bright Futures Scholarship application opened for the Senior Class of 2021 on October 1. FAFSA will be open until June 30, 2021 and Bright Futures will be open until August 31 after high school graduation, however it is recommended to start the application process as soon as possible.

For questions about dates for college tours, applications, and scholarships, students can visit Origlia in the guidance department. She has created a Canvas group for each grade level that lists the dates for a majority of college webinars and instructions on the application process for FAFSA and Bright Futures.

Applying for colleges can be overwhelming with all the different options for applications and application fees. Origlia advises seniors to make a list of colleges of interest and pick about four to apply to, depending on financials, keeping in mind each college requires an application fee of around $30.

To simplify the application process, Origlia mentioned there are apps, such as Common App and Coalition App, that can be used to aid students in the application process. Mainly, she recommends utilizing the traditional method of applying on the college’s main website, which was what she did when applying for college. “I just like[d] going directly to the college [website] because I’m like, ‘this has to be the right information,’ …it’s not going through a third party, which I personally like.”

Some things students at any grade level can do to prepare for college, according to Origlia, include creating a separate email account to help with organization by keeping any college emails separate from personal emails and making spread sheets to keep track of application due dates, college events, and other information about specific colleges.

There are checklists posted for each month on Origlia’s Canvas page and the College Board website. She also suggests following any colleges of interest on social media to receive extra information about special opportunities colleges organize for students.

On her Canvas page, Origlia has incorporated a whole section just for scholarships, including local scholarships posted with website links and due dates. Many scholarships become available in the October and November, so it is important to look out for opportunities early in the year and start preparing. Besides her list on Canvas, Origlia suggested checking out Scholarship 360 and College Board for additional scholarships.

Many scholarships require essays to be submitted with the application, so Origlia suggested writing general essays based on past prompts to prepare and to identify key points that can be utilized later. When writing final essay submissions, be cautious to use proper grammar and include something to make the essay stand out from the others.

While prepping for college is stressful, taking small steps now, like staying organized and getting ahead on due dates, will be beneficial in lightening the workload and will give students time for relaxation and social events.

Follow Origlia’s Durant CC page on Instagram for posts about college related reminders and information updates for Durant Students.


About the Writer
Photo of Rachel Hesse
Rachel Hesse, Managing Editor

Rachel Hesse is a senior at Durant High School and the Managing Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. Although new to the PawPrint this year, Rachel has been...

Q&A With New Durant Teacher Lisa Hayes

Lisa Hayes is Durant’s new Algebra and Geometry teacher. Hayes taught at Mulrennan Middle School for fifteen years prior to transferring to Durant, but has worked in a number of middle schools, including Mulrennan, as a music, history, and AVID teacher. She transferred to Durant, not only because she wanted to teach at a high school level, but because of the impression she has of Durant. 


Why did you want to teach at Durant? 

I’ve been wanting [to teach] high school for a little while and with the whole Corona thing and everything being kind of all weird and changing and being home anyway, I figured it was a good time to apply. But a lot of my students from Mulrennan come here so I’m familiar with the student population. Durant is a very good school, they have a great graduation rate, and, you know, as an AVID teacher I kept track of a lot of the data. So, I just felt like it was a great place to be. I also heard they have a lot of school spirit here and the teachers are all very cohesive, good relationships with the kids, and that’s what I want. I want like a family type place to work. 


Where do you sing? 

I just retired last year. I worked for 20 years at the Air Force Base Chapel as their music canter, so I’ve literally spent about one year not doing that anymore…I like karaoke, but I don’t really [sing] for a job anymore; I just sing for fun. 


What is your favorite song? 

Knock on Wood by Amy Steward. 


What is the hardest part about your job? 

This year, there’s a lot of hard things. This year, wearing a mask all day is hard, balancing Canvas is hard. But, I mean, I love teaching, so teaching itself isn’t hard. I guess just managing everything sometimes can be hard…Sometimes kid’s behaviors, but this year my kids are very good, so I’m feeling a little blessed this year. 


What is the best part about your job? 

The best part of my job is making connections with the kids. You know, there’s a few kids that I’ve had that I’m still in contact with and now they’re grown and living their lives, and I love to see that. 

About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Ms. Origlia New Teacher Feature

Samantha Origlia is the new College and Career Counselor at Durant this year. She worked as a long-term substitute, at the elementary level, for the past three years while she was going through graduate school. She grew up along the East coast and moved to Fort Meyers to go to school at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). After school, she knew that she wanted to move to Tampa and found herself at Durant with an exciting new opportunity. 

What is your first impression of Durant?

Everyone is so welcoming. On my first day of school a whole bunch of teachers came to say hi and introduce themselves and offer guidance and assistance if needed, so that has been really comforting for a new employee. 

What is your job here at Durant and for what information and assistance can students come see you for?

I am the College and Career Counselor. You can come to me about Dual Enrollment questions, college questions, and college life insight and career questions. I have provided seniors with a canvas page containing tons of information on scholarships and Bright Futures and hopes to be sending out a canvas page of information to the other classes soon as well. 

How are you helping online students?

Like I said with canvas, any students can message me even if they are not in my course, and through email. I have the Durant CCC Instagram that I am trying to post on a lot as well, so I am hoping that helps some students, especially E-learners. Also know that we can do zoom conferences and things like that for answering questions.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Being new it is hard to get students to know me, especially now with things being half e-learning and half in-person. There are also so many changes in the world and with colleges and scholarships and bright futures that I, myself, find it hard trying to keep up with all those dates and changes and convey those to the students. So, I think that the hardest part is dealing and with the Covid changes but also just being able to make sure all the students know their options because I want to be available and accessible. 

What is the best part about your job?

The best part is basically when I help someone with one little thing and they are like, “Thank you so much! That was really helpful!” It makes me feel really good to know that I was able to provide them with, not only, the right answer, but also to make them feel like a weight was lifted because I know the process can be a little daunting.

Can you see yourself working here for a number of years?

Hopefully… we will see what happens with the position and everything, but I think the school is a great place, and the students I have met so far are great, so I think this is a good school to choose. 


What is your favorite thing to do outside of work (or school)?

I just moved to the area, so it has been fun exploring more of like the City of Tampa and Channelside areas as it is really pretty over there. I have a chihuahua that I love to take for walks and go to the dog parks with. Just walking outside in general even though it is really hot.

About the Writer
Photo of Rachel Hesse
Rachel Hesse, Managing Editor

Rachel Hesse is a senior at Durant High School and the Managing Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. Although new to the PawPrint this year, Rachel has been...

Mr. Kerry McHugh Feature

Mr. Kerry McHugh is one of the fifteen new teachers at Durant High School this year. McHugh has worked for the Hillsborough County Public School System for 20 years and will begin his first year at Durant as the AP and Regular World History teacher for e-learners. 


Why are you doing e-learning?

I’m doing e-learning because both my husband & I have underlying health issues that can become severely compromised with Covid.  


Has the e-learning teaching process been difficult?

E-learning has been incredibly difficult for students, parents and teachers alike.  Trying to learn many different learning platforms and dealing with a number of technological issues for both myself and my students has been a daily challenge. 


What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

My favorite things to do outside of work are reading, online gaming, baking & all night binge watching sessions with my son.


Why did you choose to work at Durant?

A friend spoke highly of the quality of leadership and impressive standards at Durant.  He also told me what a great social studies department they have.  It is also closer to me home.


What is the hardest part about your job?

The hardest part of my job is sometimes watching kids throw away opportunities given to them because they aren’t mature enough yet to understand how they are hurting themselves.  No matter how rich, powerful, or tough you are, time is undefeated, so never waste it.  


What is the best part about your job?

The best part is watch my kids grow up, become stronger, more confident & successful at skills they never thought they would be able to come close to doing.  I love the comradery and fun we create in AP world classes to deal with the demands of the course.

About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Lily Belcher Feature

Lily Belcher has written for the Durant PawPrint since her sophomore year, where she made tons of friends that share her love of writing. Belcher said ,“I love journalism because I am able to talk to and interview people and then being able to get to know them and tell their story.”

Belcher will be freelancing for the Osprey this year. Belcher loves to write about sports, specifically baseball. Belcher said “I grew up watching baseball with my dad, we love watching our favorite team the Tampa Bay Rays. I love the organization with baseball, the field is not crowded with players, like football or soccer, but it is only ten people on the field playing at once, that allows you to see the different relationship between the players, the batters and the catchers.”

Belcher loves baseball, but she played flag football for freshman and sophomore year. She played flag football in middle school with a friend, so they both tried out for the Durant team.

“I love Durant`s flag football team because it has amazing coaches,” she said. “I`ve made a lot of friends through the team,” including another PawPrint staff member, Rachel Hesse. Belcher is an amazing addition to the PawPrint and will help continue to improve the PawPrint as Chief Editor this year.

About the Writer
Photo of Riley Thomas
Riley Thomas, Business Manager/ Photo Editor

Riley is a Junior at Durant High School. He is the new Photo Editor and Business Manager for the PawPrint Newspaper. He also wrestles for Durant and loves...

Riley Thomas Feature

Riley Thomas began writing for the Durant PawPrint after his sophomore year, he visited a meet the press gathering and during the meeting he decided to join his junior year.

Thomas plans on writing about wrestling due to his position in the school wrestling team. “I have friends in journalism and they said it was a lot of fun so it got me really interested.” Thomas said.

After high school he wants to join the army reserves, then to look into joining the army rangers. He wants to go as far as he can in the army until he decides where to go next in his career.

As far as his plans go for high school, Thomas said, “I want to see how this year goes and from there I’ll decide if I want to do it again next year.” While he continues this year he can improve his social confidence skills by interviewing teachers and students for articles.

He wants to join MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) along with wrestling since he knows the “basics of each sport” With these last 2 years at Durant, Thomas will discover new talents that journalism reveals for him as he continues his high school plans and future careers.

About the Writer
Photo of Mason Gourley
Mason Gourley, Design Editor

Mason is a Junior at Durant High School. He is the Design Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. He is a fan of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. He writes about...

Rachel Hesse Feature

Rachel Hesse is a senior at Durant High School and is new to the Pawprint Newspaper staff, where she will write articles and submit to future writing events.

Hesse is 17 and has plans to go to college out state, in Ohio, where she plans to major in editing and journalism to pursue her goal of being a book editor. But with her goals, she has to put forth the effort.

Hesse took Durant’s newspaper class, in hopes to sharpen her writing and journalism skills. Writing for the Pawprint will force her out of her comfort zone of standard English class essays and expand her writing abilities to fact based and objective reporting.

By joining the Pawprint crew Hesse aims to both inform readers through her articles and help others stay up to date with events at their school.

When Hesse is not in school, she can be found painting landscapes and other works.

Hesse is a individual who writes with the passions of others in mind. Hesse will be a great addition to the Pawprint team as she is hardworking and determined to get work done!

About the Writer
Photo of Nick Travis
Nick Travis, Social Media Coordinator

Nick Travis is a Junior at Durant High School and the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint. He has an outgoing and creative personality. When isn't...

Nick Travis Feature

Nick Travis is the Social Media Coordinator for the Durant PawPrint this year. He is currently 16 and in his junior year at Durant High School.

He has been working with the PawPrint ever since his sophomore year (2019-2020) when Mrs. Jennifer Kious inspired him, and fellow broadcast journalist Mason Gourley, to join newspaper and expand upon their writing and broadcasting skills.

Together, Travis and Gourley have become the face of a new source of news, the Durant PawPrint – YouTube Channel. They create fun, entertaining, and informative videos about Durant life, news, and just exciting features to make students’ weeks a little brighter. Their videos can be found at:

As a journalist this year, Travis aspires to become a better broadcast journalist and hopes to be recognized in this year’s FSPA (Florida Scholastic Press Association) video competition with an award.

Outside of school, Travis can be found working out and spending time with his friends. He can also be found working as either a cashier or grocery bagger at the local Winn-Dixie.

After high school Travis plans to go to college to be an orthodontist. After college, he plans to intern at an orthodontics office; then, either take over as head at a previous office, or open his own office.

About the Writer
Photo of Rachel Hesse
Rachel Hesse, Managing Editor

Rachel Hesse is a senior at Durant High School and the Managing Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. Although new to the PawPrint this year, Rachel has been...

Mason Gourley Feature

Mason Gourley has written for the Durant PawPrint since his sophomore year when English teacher Jennifer Kious saw his potential as a writer and a journalist. 

From the beginning of his time as a staff writer for the PawPrint, Gourley has taken a unique approach to his weekly web posts. Partnering with fellow staff writer Nick Travis, Gourley started a YouTube channel to post entertaining school announcements for Durant students and staff.

“We felt that we can express ourselves more through videos, like visually, so people can actually see what we’re doing rather than just reading something in quotations,” Gourley said. 

Gourley’s YouTube videos have given him the unique opportunity to refine his interviewing skills and broadcast reporting skills and given the PawPrint the option to expand to a multimedia format.

When he is not working on homework or articles for the PawPrint, Gourley plays baseball at the Bloomingdale Sports Complex and mountain bikes at Alafia State Park. He enjoys writing articles about his passions and showing Pawprint readers the details of the activities he enjoys.

While he is considering journalism as a career, Gourley would be interested in joining the Coast Guard. But, the PawPrint is giving him the opportunity to discover his talents in a communications job.

About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Bell Schedules 2020-2021

Bell Schedules 2020-2021

Stacie Cleary

Stacie Cleary

Senior Smith Sees Leadership In Her Future


Durant Yearbook

Madison Smith

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

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

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

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

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

— Madison Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Retrieved from Plant City Observer

Denim Hughes

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

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

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

— Denim Hughes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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