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...

A Look At The First Presidential Debate

It’s no surprise that Tuesday night’s debate was filled with jabs, name calling, and interrupting from both Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. Covering the pressing topics in the news, Biden and Trump took turns interrupting the other’s two-minute allotments and talking around the original subject. Now this is no new issue, however, it led to a lot of personal jabs, including Trump’s bashing of Joe Biden’s second son, Hunter Biden, and eventually an enraged “shut up” used by Joe Biden.

The debate’s first question asked each nominee’s opinion on whether or not President Trump has the right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice. Following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, President Trump nominated Federal Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barret, which Trump argued he had the right to all four years to make decisions as President.

Biden contrasted, saying, “The election has already started…we should wait and see what the outcome of this election is.”  

Senators are delaying the vote on Trump’s nomination using a filibuster, blocking any decision from being made. Biden refused to provide an answer as to whether he would support the filibuster or not but told the American people to go out and vote to change the conditions in the Senate.

Moving on from the heated topic of Supreme Court nominations, the candidates then discussed the health care plans presented by each of the opposing sides. Standard ideas, such as universal healthcare and protecting those with preexisting conditions, were debated. Trump explained how he overturned the Obamacare mandate planned to cut drug prices by 80%-90% and offer a public option for health care by ending private insurance and creating a government take-over of healthcare. Biden said those that do not have enough money for Medicaid would be automatically enrolled in the public option.

The discussion took a quick turn, to arguing about Trump being a liar. “The fact is that everything he’s saying so far is a lie. I’m not here to call out his lies, everybody knows he’s a liar,” said Biden, resulting in a seemingly endless back and forth by both parties. 

The bickering continued into the next question regarding  how to handle the Coronavirus. Both sides have disagreed on mask mandates and the rate at which business are reopening. Trump displayed his mask and explained that he only wears the mask when necessary, whereas Biden wears his all the time. 

Quoting the CDC, Biden said, “If we just wore masks between now and January, we would probably save [100,000 lives].”

The candidates’ views on economic recovery can be described as V shaped (Trump) and K shaped (Biden). According to Biden, the difference between the two plans is that millionaires and billionaires during the Covid crisis have done very well because of the tax proposal and Trump’s focus on the market. He argued that “you can’t fix the economy until you fix the Covid crisis.”

As the economy took a drop in the second quarter, President Trump has been focused on improving the economic state of the country, passing stimulus checks to motivate consumers to make more purchases and pay taxes on those purchases to put money back in the national economy.

The candidates then discussed a series of topics in the news cycle, including racism and climate change.

With the social unrest following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, racial equality and protection was brought up in the later half of the debate. Trump responded, saying, “I want to see peace.” 

When talking about climate change, Trump explains how he’s for clear water and air without destroying businesses and that, as far as the forest fires in California go, there was a need for more forest management to remove the dry tinder fueling the fires. All in all, Trump’s goal is to have a balance between the economy and climate change efforts. Biden chimed in talking about the Biden plan, which he had originally, mistakenly called the “Green New Deal”.

Biden plans to put into place the Administration Recovery Act to instill cheaper energy price, promote the use of electric vehicles by adding 500 new charging stations throughout the country, weatherize four million buildings to reduce carbon emissions, all to create new jobs and support the environment. He also plans to rejoin the Paris Accord and work together with the rest of the world to supply a $2 billion check to the people cutting down the Amazon Rainforest in hopes of making them stop

At the end of the debate, Trump and Biden discussed election integrity regarding the mail in ballots. Biden seemed unconcerned about any fraudulent activities regarding the ballots and reminded the American citizens to vote and to vote responsibly so each vote would count. Whereas Trump countered stating why mail in ballots are unreliable and subject to fraud, but neither side presented a safe alternative for voting in the midst of the Coronavirus.

While the debate was heated and neither candidate ever had the chance at two uninterrupted minutes, the nominees will each have two more debates to fully lay out their plans if they are elected president and illustrate their future plans for America.

About the Writers
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...

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...

Potential Changes To Durant’s Teaching Staff

For many schools, teachers and students are just getting used to balancing online and physical students. But as schedules are finally resolved, Durant may have to make more changes to their teaching staff. 

Due to the Coronavirus, people have been shopping less. Fewer purchases mean less tax revenue for the county and Hillsborough County Public Schools pays their teachers through the tax revenue, meaning the county is now $50 million in debt.  

Durant Chemistry teacher Jeffrey Henning explained the staff meeting regarding how this affects Durant.  

“What [teachers] were told was that [the Hillsborough County Public School System] has told us there’s a budget crisis, which makes sense. A lot of businesses have been closed up for six months. Our paychecks, our money, comes from tax revenue. We’re going to have to move teachers around. Now, what that means is teachers still have a contract with Hillsborough county, we still have a job… its just not where [we] wanted.” 

Schools, such as Durant, also have fewer students attending physical school (Durant is currently at 60% capacity) and consequently need fewer teachers because of the county’s new student-teacher allotment plan.  

“Some of our newer district staff members have determined that we are over allocated, so they’re using the new model to determine how many instructional staff you should have based on your enrollment,” said Principal Gary Graham. 

In the following weeks, schools that have too many teachers than needed will send teachers into “the pool.” These teachers will still have a job because they are employed by Hillsborough County, but will be moved to a different school as needed.  

The decision of which teachers to cut will be a difficult one. Graham and other administrators will look at a number of factors to determine a teacher’s future at Durant. The first thing they will look at is which classes or programs are under supported, meaning they do not have enough students to warrant a teacher or class period that could be filled by other students in another class. Then, they will consider the teacher’s scores, which are based off student pass rate and test scores, and, finally, they will look at seniority. 

Teachers that are new this year or last year do not have a teacher evaluation score. Graham explained that the rule of thumb is no score equals low score, meaning some of Durant’s new teachers could be the first to be transferred to the pool. 

If Durant cannot cut their payroll by transferring a certain number of teaching units, the next resort will be to cut support personnel, such as lunchroom staff and bus drivers. 

However, the decision of which teachers to transfer, if any, has not been made yet and Durant has been fortunate to have a few vacant teaching positions. If teachers do have to transfer to another school, Graham said “the hope is the following spring moving into the next fall, those teachers could come back.”  

While this is a stressful time for both administrators and teachers, the decisions have not been made. The only thing students and teachers can do is to be flexible with potential schedule changes and understand that the decisions are being made based on what is best for everyone in the school system. 


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...

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...

Durant Football Players Forced To Quarantine


After a 13-10 loss last Friday to the Newsome Wolves, more unfortunate news was delivered to the Durant Cougars.

Over the weekend, multiple starters from Newsome tested positive for Covid-19. Durant’s seven offensive starters, who came in direct contact with Newsome’s players, were forced to quarantine after Coach Michael Gottman received a call from Principal Gary Graham informing Gottman of the situation.

The seven players that came in contact with the Newsome’s players were instructed to quarantine for two weeks, in ordinance with Hillsborough County guidelines, and attend school through e-learning, which Gottman said was going well.

Due to the student athletes required to quarantine, Durant’s game against Bloomingdale, originally scheduled for September 17, was moved to the Cougars’ by-week on October 9. While Gottman expressed his concerns regarding his starting lineup, he was optimistic of the situation, referencing the backup lineup that will now have the chance to start the next game

“I do like the fact that we are getting seven other people prepared to play, [but we are] definitely going to miss the seven offensive starters, because of quarantine, but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s kind of the hand that we’re dealt, and we’re going to play the cards and try to win a football game Friday night,” said Gottman.

Gottman assumed Durant’s football team would have to deal with exposure to the Coronavirus at some point but did not realize it would be the first week. The team had been taking safety precautions during practice, such as social distancing and wiping equipment with a cleaning solution after workouts.

Durant and Newsome are not the first high school teams to be quarantined because of a potential Coronavirus outbreak. Jefferson and Hillsborough High Schools’ football teams were forced to miss opening night, as a number of players had tested positive.

Despite the four teams already impacted by the virus, District Spokesperson Erin Maloney said it is still important for the teams to play. The emotional and social benefits from high school sports are vital to success both inside and outside the classroom setting.

“School is about much more than just going into classrooms and getting good grades. There’s a social, emotional aspect as well,” said Maloney.

The Cougars will face East Bay at Durant on September 25 for the second game of the season.



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
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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...

Wildfires in Northern California


A fast-growing wildfire in Northern California exploded and grew by nearly a quarter-million
acres in size Tuesday, September 8. More than 90 major fires have burned over 5,300 square miles.
Thick smoke covers the sky and there had been multiple power outages in California. San
Francisco woke to an apocalyptic orange tinted sky that seemed as if morning had never arrived. The
orange pumpkin smokey sky continued to spread across the San Francisco Bay.
People evacuated buildings and firefighters worked to save lives. The National Guard rescued
over 150 people that had been stranded in the Sierra National forest where the Creek Fire had burned
nearly 70,000 acres.
Compared to last year fires, California has seen over 2,650 more fires and an increase in acres
burned. Last year only 117,586 acres were burned in California compared to 2,277,922 acres burned
from January 1- September 7 2020.



Furthermore, fires in Oregon seemed to be more destructive. A wildfire was driven by 45-mile-
per-hour wind gusts that destroyed hundreds of homes. More than 470,000 acres of homes and habitats
have been burned in Oregon.
Oregon has experienced insane blazes that covers over 800 square miles of the state. Three
thousand firefighters have been battling through about 50 blazes affecting those living in near Interstate
5, Ashland, and Portland.



In Washington, a 36-year-old man was arrested because he was caught starting a fire in a brush
along the highway according to the Washington State Patrol. The incident took place in Puyallup,
Washington. He was immediately put in jail.
More than 50 fires have been ignited in Washington burning over 587,000 acres. The smoke has
polluted the air to hazardous levels, affecting most of the population.
At least 31 people have died in trying to escape the fires and about 200 people are missing. Six
people were killed in the Camp Fire taking the toll to 29. It was a tragic even for those people who lost
family members and their homes.
A total of almost 3 million acres have burned in California. It has been the worst year for wildfire
season in California, Oregon, and Washington state.

About the Writer
Photo of Adamari Jaimez
Adamari Jaimez, Staff Writer

Adamari Jaimez is a senior at Durant High School. She has been part of journalism since her freshman year, involved in both the yearbook and newspaper...

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...

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