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Durant’s First Ever Country Themed Mil Ball Was Cancelled Due To COVID

The would be venue for the 2020-2021 Military Ball (The Wishing Well) will be used for next year's Military Ball scheduled for October.

The would be venue for the 2020-2021 Military Ball (The Wishing Well) will be used for next year’s Military Ball scheduled for October.

Do the Ho Down and Do-Si-Do, swing your partner to and fro” would have potentially been part of the soundtrack for this year’s JROTC Military Ball. Unfortunately, just like homecoming and last year’s prom, it had to be cancelled due to the high risk of potential COVID-19 exposure.  

The Military ball, otherwise called Mil Ball by the cadets, is a “traditional gathering of people within the unit, in this case our core cadets, to extend the custom and curtesy of the United States Air Force [in a] formal dinner, [also] called a mess,” according to Chief Johnson of the JROTC program.  

The Mil Ball is hosted every year and consists of formal dining protocols with an opening ceremony, Madam Vice and Mister Vice, a Master of Ceremony, a prisoner of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) table that recognizes fallen brethren and sisters, and then typically ends with a dance.  

This year, to try and appease COVID protocols, JROTC had planned to have more of a barn style Mil Ball hosted at the Wishing Well in hopes of limiting chances of exposure.  

Each attendee would have been sat six to a table of 10 to space out the cadets and their significant others/escorts as well as having been taught several line and square dances as an alternative to the usual dances in hopes of keeping attendees spread out more to reduce chances of COVID exposure.  

As according to tradition, the senior cadets oversee the planning othe Mil Ball for the rest of the unit and so not being able to partake in Mil Ball is especially disappointing to seniors CJ Marra and Justin Rivera as they lost their chance to take part in their last Mil Ball hoorah.  

“[I was looking forward to] the grog party… we were planning on making this concoction of a bunch of different things that are really disgusting the everyone has to drink if they do something wrong, which is really funny every year,” says Marra. 

Overall, there were about 85 cadets and dates that had already signed up to attend Mil Ball, with a large number of them having already paid the $35 fee, which will be refunded to them, with the last date to sign up coming up on February 19.  

Due to a deposit with the Wishing Well not wanting to be gone to waste, Mil Ball will be rescheduled for earlier in the year in October of next year, rather than in the typical March time frame. Also, Chief Johnson is planning on making it up to senior cadets missing out on Mil Ball using the end of the year awards ceremony.  

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...

Is Senioritis Really A Thing?


Senior year is the year when students’ goals are to apply for and (hopefully) get into their dream college, finish off the year strong, raise their GPA, and make as many memories as possible. 

Well seniors… we are about five months from the end of the year now and the time to complete any of these goals is running out. I can say for certain that I have never been more ready or excited to go off to college than I am now. But with that feeling comes the time crunch of things left to be accomplished. 

Every year teachers express how seniors begin to show signs of “senioritis” starting around the second semester of their last year. However, I never expected that this was how it would feel.  

I expected the lack of motivation to do schoolwork and I expected the lack of will to get up and go to school, but I never would have thought that it would be followed with an excitement to accomplish things that were non-high school related.  

Things like learning to longboard, applying for scholarships, looking forward to going to work, doing projects around my house, and adding some new paintings to my wall have become increasingly more appealing activities to spend my time on.     

“If I could be done with school already, I would’ve graduated in December. School is, funny enough, the least important part of my day” says Durant senior Emma Urbanski. 

Despite the urge to be done with school and to get ready for the future becoming greater, it is important to continue to keep up with schoolwork and college preparation.  

A couple ways to do that include, making lists of things that need to get done (either before the end of the week, month, or school year), asking a friend to help keep accountability for schoolwork, or set up a personal reward system that pushes necessary work to get done before going and doing something fun. 

The countdown to graduation in May has started, but there are still 77 busy days left to check the final task off your high school to-do list. 


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...

Potential New Jeopardy Host


The game show Jeopardy! is expected to be continued soon with an unknown set of potential new host(s).

The “Jeopardy!” theme song is probably forever ingrained in the minds of every American, as is the memory of long-time host Alex Trebek.  

The show has been on television since 1964, but after the death of former host Alex Trebek, the producers were faced with the decision of who would replace him. It was determined that a new host would be hired to honor Trebek’s wishes of keeping the show running.  

As such, directors have come up with a solution to include guest hosts before bringing in a permanent new host. The first of those guest hosts being, record holding contestant, Ken Jennings, who will be temporarily filling in as a guest host of “Jeopardy!”.  

“By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers,” said Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer. 

The show has plans to bring in multiple guest hosts, featuring popular contestants, before choosing a permanent replacement for TrebekHowever, the rest of those hosts are yet to be announced as well as any potential permanent replacements. 

Fortunately for Trebek lovers, there are still episodes filmed of Trebek from before he died. Directors plan to show Trebek’s ten best episodes during the holiday weeks of December 21, 28, and January 4 and then air his last “Jeopardy!” episode on January 8. 

Jennings’ first official episode as guest host of “Jeopardy!” is scheduled to air on January 11. It is unclear yet as to how many episodes he will be hosting and how many guest hosts are going to come after him before a permanent host is announced.  

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...

Have Budget Cuts And Covid-19 Procedures Caused An Issue With The Teachers’ Copy Budget?

Covid-19 has impacted many school procedures and events throughout the course of the 2020 school year. One major impact towards schools, especially Durant, is the county budget. 

With fewer students on campus because of eLearning, school funding has been decreased throughout the county. Many problems have arisen due to this lack of budget, one lesser problem including the copy budget for teachers 

The institution of coronavirus procedures has created a need for students to get their own individual copies, not to be reused or shared with another student, when teachers decide to pass out tests or worksheets. This forces an increase in paper usage and numbers of copies needed for certain teachers.  

“What we used to copy in like a 25 [copy] class-set shared between two teachers is now turning into… close to 200,” according to Sociology and American History teacher Jackie Thompson.  

Despite this growth in copies, technological adaptations have also made their way into teaching methods this year as well. With the addition of Canvas this semester and other technology back in April and May, teachers have learned to utilize more online resources and phase out a lot of the paper usage in their teaching methods.  

This transition has somewhat balanced the increase in copies and the lack in change in budget. With more teachers going digital, paper increases for some teachers are counteracted by paper decreases with other teachers.  

“I think we’re still copying about the same now that [we] were when we [had] all 2400 kids… here,” says bookkeeper Cheryl Shaffner 

However, come January, administration may see a greater financial stretch if e-learners are unable to come back to brick-and-mortar classrooms. With an increase in students coming back to school, comes an increase in Durant’s funds, however, a decrease in students will result in a decrease in funds. 

“It’s [the] reality of the times we are facing, but I think it’s reflective of a larger societal problem and how we fund education as a society as a culture,” says Thompson.  

Despite the challenges that arise because of Covid, Principal Gary Graham is focused on supporting the teachers with whatever they need to properly educate students. “This year it may be copies, next year it may be incentives, the following year it may be… something else from a technology standpoint.”  

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...

Students Of The Month-October

Students of the Month

At the end of every month, Assistant Principal Stacy Cleary sends out a survey to teachers asking them to send in recommendations for students they feel should be recognized as Student of the Month. One student from each grade level is then selected from the nominated students based on their school successes, whether they have grown as a student or have consistently shown good qualities and academics.

“We try to choose someone… that not only represents our diverse culture here at Durant, but is a worthy applicant,” according to an interview with Cleary.

In October, the four students chosen were, Priscilla Gory (freshman), Laila Martin (sophomore), Jada Ramsey (junior), and Vincente Kapusta (senior). They showed exemplary qualities that both their teachers and administration took note of and thought embodied what it means to be a Durant Cougar.

Freshman Gory has improved from the beginning of the school year as, “she has stepped up to the plate and become a star student,” according to teacher Christin Causey. When she heard she had gotten Student of the Month, Gory was surprised, as she did not think she deserved it.

Sophomore Martin was shocked, as well, saying, “The things that I do to help people, I just do it without thinking.” She was recognized for being, “an active member of our class who thinks outside of the box and explores knowledge with a growth mindset,” according to teacher, Causey. Her humble character when hearing the unexpected news, shows how right the administration was in choosing her to be student of the month.

Junior Ramsey is  “Hard-working [and] committed to being successful in class,” according to history teacher Frank Lane. When she heard she had been named Student of the Month, Ramsey felt accomplished, as she was able to be recognized for her hard-work and commitment after having struggled a little during the first nine weeks.

Senior Kapusta, felt proud, when he heard the news; proud that he could go home and tell his mother that he was recognized for the hard work he puts into his classes. It was his hard work, dedication, and positivity in class that teacher Kathryn Kabrich said led her to nominate Kapusta.

These students portrayed characteristics that the administration highlighted as representing some of the exceptional qualities of a Durant Cougar. Thanks to the outstanding impression in work ethic each student made on their teachers, they were able to be recognized as Student of the Month.

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...

New Teacher Ralph Underwood Q&A

Ralph Underwood is the new culinary teacher at Durant, teaching both Culinary I and II. This will be his tenth year of teaching.

What other jobs did you have before you became a culinary teacher?

“In high school I worked for TECO as a human resources specialist, in College I worked as an emergency band control route. After I went to culinary school I worked for Outback as a trainer, so I would go to different Outbacks and I would train employees on any new food that was coming out, and also if a food was out of spec, so like if a Bloomin onion was cooked incorrectly and someone had called corporate and was like ‘hey, I’ve been to this outback 3 times and it’s been wrong’, they would send somebody out to retrain people, and I was part of that. I also did Outback catering where we catered on-site, so all the equipment was brought to whatever site we were on and basically executed from there. After that I worked for Hyatt [Coconut Point and Bonita Springs] as a banquet chef, so I would do any big banquets, weddings, company retreats, so anytime a lot of people got together and they would need a lot of food, I [would be] in charge of… that. Then I came to the district”

Why did you become a teacher?

“I actually got recruited to become a teacher. I was working at Hyatt in Naples, of course I grew up here, so somebody who knew my mom was like ‘hey we need a chef at our school’, so I went through the process of putting my application in [and] I ended up working at Armwood, which was ironic because I graduated from Armwood. Then I ended up transferring to Hillsborough for a couple years and then I ended up here.”

Why did you choose Durant?

“Well I was looking for a change. Before I worked here, I was a behavioral specialist, so I would deal with students that basically were on the wrong path. A lot of that was really just getting students jobs and life skills… so I was looking for more students that were interested in going into the culinary field.”

What is your impression of Durant so far?

“Family. It feels like a small city, kind of a network of people working together. I’ve been to schools where people don’t even say hello to each other and it gets kind of cut throat, but it’s different here. People seem to want to work together and that’s definitely a positive, you can kind of collaborate with other programs and do stuff together, pool resources [and stuff like that].”

What is the best part about your job?

“The best part is seeing students come in with like no knowledge, and then by the time the end of the year comes, they can go and work in the food industry if they want. [It] also makes them employable, so if somebody comes in and never worked a job before, then now they have confidence to go and apply for a job and answer questions. So, to me that’s rewarding. And then having students come back and tell me that they remember having me as a teacher, [like] that was  ten years ago for me and I don’t even remember that moment, but for them it was great. So, just creating memories with students that last for lifetimes.”

What is the hardest part about your job?

“The hardest part is finding motivation for students. Not everyone has a goal of being a chef, or even cooking for themselves. Some people see it as an easy grade, or as this being a break class, so finding something that everybody wants out of the class and getting them motivated to work towards it is kind of the hardest part.”

What is your favorite thing to do outside of school?

“Bowling. I’ve been bowling since I was a kid. I’m kind of injured right now so it’s a little bit of a sad moment [because] I can’t really bowl right now. But it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid and I do it with my family, so we get to spend time together”

Are you married and do you have kids?

“Yes [I have a wife and] two kids, a boy and a girl. My son just started high school, so he’s a freshman, and my daughter is a seventh grader”

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...

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...

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...

Samantha Origlia Q&A

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...

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...

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