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Christopher Dello Russo Wins Gold Key at 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards


The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are given to young artists and writers who are enrolled in high school that have exceptional artistic skills and literary talents. Students across North America can submit to any of the 29 categories; and, in 2019, over 320,000 works were submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest. Students from public schools, private schools, and students who are homeschooled are all welcome to submit something to any of the 29 categories. About 300,000 dollars is given out every year for scholarships to the winners.

Winners are recognized at a local ceremony near the student’s school district. However, top placers, titled Gold Key winners, move on from this ceremony to a national contest. If selected nationally, these students are honored with an award presentation in New York City at Carnegie Hall.

Durant High School student Christopher Dello Russo, a 2020 Gold Key winner for poetry and short stories, said he likes to write about horror and comedy. Dello Russo said he writes because he enjoys writing. Dello Russo began writing in fifth grade after reading the Percy Jackson book series, which encouraged him to read more fiction books.

Dello Russo said his English teachers inspired him to write more and so he submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Dello Russo also said “I thought I had a good chance at winning a Gold Key and when I won, it was a pleasant surprise.” Now that Dello Russo has won a Gold Key, it makes him proud that he has been recognized as a winner.

Dello Russo said “writing as a job is a perfect way of making me stop enjoying it, so I’ll keep it as a hobby.” Dello Russo does not plan to go to New York City where all of the winners are honored, but is satisfied with his level of recognition.

About the Writer
Photo of Jordan Dabbour
Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

Taylor Swift Feuds with Big Machine Label Group

Swift's struggle with Big Machine continues amidst the pandemic.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Swift’s struggle with Big Machine continues amidst the pandemic.

Ten months after a very public social media feud, Taylor Swift is begging fans not to buy her new album- Live From Clear Channel Stripped 2008-a recording of her 2008 live radio performance.  Swift claims the album is being released by Big Machine Label Group without her consent and is “just another case of shameless greed in the time of Coronavirus.”

In the Instagram story, Swift claims entertainment executive Scott “Scooter” Braun is broke after buying Big Machine Records which gave him control of her previous masters- a collection of over 90 of her hits. 

“It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family, and the Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $300 million for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money,” she said in the post.

The music mayhem began in June of 2019 when Braun and his group bought Big Machine Label Group from Scott Borchetta, who signed Swift at the start of her career when she was 15.  Braun already owned the music from Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Kanye West (West and Tay-Tay have had an equally public singer’s spat for the last 11 years).  She has accused Braun of backing her social media “bullies,” such as Bieber and West, causing her hostility towards the sale. 

The record deal row continued into the winter when Swift was nominated for Artist of the Decade by the American Music Academy.  Her performance on the nationally televised awards program was set to include the songs she had written over the last ten years, such as Shake It Off and Love Story.  Braun, however, argued she could not do so, at least, not without permission from the Big Machine Label Group. 

After Swift used her fan base, dubbed “Swifties,” to beg Braun to let her perform her own music, Braun gave into the demands of the social media protest and allowed Swift to perform her hits at the awards show.

Braun said, after the concession, that he would not participate in the social media drama but posted his response on Instagram later that day.  In the lengthy Instagram post, Braun urged Swift to meet with him so he could talk to her personally.  He referenced death threats he and his family have received since their spat made headlines and said he never intended to make her feel “cornered or bullied.” 

Swift seemed to address the spat with Braun when she opened with her new single “The Man,” wearing a t-shirt with the titles of her albums now owned by Braun.  While she did not directly mention Braun, like Taylor’s refrains, the message was loud and clear- she and Braun were never ever getting back together.

The singers’ squabble prompted other celebrities to take sides, but the alliances were predictable.  Swift’s best friend Selena Gomez and other supporters, such as Halsey, publicly declared their allegiance to Miss Americana, while Braun’s clients, such as Kanye West, sided with the entertainment executive.

Since the sale to Braun, Swift, whose deal with Big Machine expired, has signed with Universal Music Group/Republic, who says she will own the rights to all her future masters recorded with them.  However, the April 2020 release of the radio performance proves the pop singer has no control over her original masters and will be forced to fight with Braun if she hopes to ever control them again.

About the Writer
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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...

Award Season Begins with the 62nd Grammy Awards

With 15 Grammys, Alicia Keys took the stage to host the Grammys for thee second time, her first time being in 2019.

With 15 Grammys, Alicia Keys took the stage to host the Grammys for thee second time, her first time being in 2019.

Musical artists came together on January 26, 2020 for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, at the Staples Center, to celebrate their achievements in the music industry. There were many highlights of the award show, but the one that stood out at the Grammys was the musical tributes to the late basketball star, Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter accident along with his daughter earlier that day.

To kick off the show, pop singer, Lizzo, dedicated her performance and the show to Kobe Bryant. Not only did Lizzo recognize Kobe Bryant in her performance, but so did Alicia Keys.

The host of the 62nd Grammy Awards, Alicia Keys, sang along beside Boyz II Men to sing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” to honor Kobe Bryant and his daughter. By doing this, the singers and the audience rooted the memory of Kobe Bryant into the awards ceremony that night. Even through this sad time, Alicia Keys was still able to set the stage for the show to start. 

The night was filled with jaw dropping performances from many artists such as Camila Cabello, Aerosmith, and Arianna Grande. Beyond these performances, artist collaboration created some amazing performances at the Grammys. For example, Lil Nas X performed his hit single “Old Town Road” with Mason Ramsey, Billy Ray Cyrus, and the K-pop boy band group, BTS.

This seems like an odd collaboration on paper, but in reality, they are all outstanding together on stage. Even singers from extremely different genres performed together to make outstanding songs for the show. For example, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani collaborated together to sing their new single, “Nobody But You,” at the Grammys.

Many artists decided to sing their most successful hits that have already debuted, but several other performers chose to bring brand new songs to the table. Singers like Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers introduced a variety of new singles at the Grammys.

While the Grammys were chock-full of fantastic performances, it would not be the Grammys without the actual awards themselves. There were many categories at the Grammys such as Best Music Video, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Pop Solo Performance, and so many more.

With all of these categories, there are mainly four that are not specific to one single genre: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. This year all four of these categories had the same winner, Billie Eilish.

This successful singer is only 18 years old, and has already blown away her competition at her first Grammy Awards with winning all of these categories and more. Billie Eilish was not the only winner of the night though; there were lots of winners throughout the whole night including Lizzo, Dan + Shay, Willie Nelson, and so many more. 

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards were jam packed with awards, celebrities, and most importantly music. With the success of this year’s Grammy Awards, there is no doubt that next year will be even better than ever. 

About the Writer
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Mattie Powers, Staff Writer

Mattie Powers is a senior at Durant High School and a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. Not only is Mattie Powers involved in the PawPrint, but...

Durant awards Teacher of the Year


Christian Castro

Congratulaions to beloved Randy Sawyer for winning the 2019-2020 Teof the Years.

Randy Sawyer has been a teacher for 15 years, this year marking his fifth year teaching at Durant. He teaches AP Statistics, Algebra Readiness and is also the Math Coach for Durant. Sawyer was awarded the honor of Teacher of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year.

The entire administration visited Sawyer’s Algebra Readiness class with balloons. Sawyer was in disbelief as the entire Durant administration announced his win. Sawyer described the experience, “I was shocked because I just show up and do my job.”

Sawyer adapts his teaching style to benefit the students in his classes. This is one of the qualities that his fellow teachers and the Durant administration saw in Sawyer, leading to his nomination for Teacher of the Year. Sawyer changes his teaching style and gets to know the students in his class making the lessons personal, which facilitates learning.

The students in Sawyer’s classes agree that he is a unique teacher based on the way he structures his class. Senior Robert Malloy stated, “Sawyer’s a funny teacher and allows us to explore the concepts on our own. He relates his jokes to the lesson, making the lessons more memorable.”

Sawyer believes that by using this technique, students want to perform even harder, for him as well as for themselves. He also believes this would benefit all teachers, as it would help boost student learning across the board because it will create a willingness to learn.

While Sawyer’s mentality about teaching has not changed, he sees the benefit of administration awarding a Teacher of the Year. “As a teacher, the biggest thing we get out of is a way to move out of the classroom completely and into a position Downtown”

Sawyer’s ultimate goal is to leave students with more knowledge and understanding than they previously had. To Sawyer, passing is not always the most important part of teaching. “It’s about how is this going to affect them next year, and the years after.”

Overall, Sawyer appreciates the honor of Teacher of the Year, but will maintain his dedication to helping his students succeed. His attention to detail and his dedication to teaching are two of the things that helped Sawyer win this esteemed honor.

About the Writer
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Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Durant Journalism Succeeds at FSPA


Majortity of the Pawprint staff gathers to celebrate their victories.

Durant’s Journalism Program found great success at the 2019 Fall Florida Scholastic Press Association Conference.  Over 800 students attended the conference at USF on November 1st.  Three students from Durant’s newspaper and yearbook classes won on the spot contest awards in the district and four won in the state of Florida for their articles written in various categories. Durant’s Newspaper teacher, Mrs. Kious, also won Teacher of the Year in District 4.

Mrs. Kious, who has grown the PawPrint from seven students to 15 in the span of four years, won teacher of the year throughout Hillsborough, Polk, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, and Pinellas county.  Mrs. Stone, Durant’s yearbook teacher, nominated her co-worker for the award at FSPA because of the success the PawPrint has had under Mrs. Kious. Mrs. Stone said, “Mrs. Kious has … revitalized the newspaper program… she, like, threw herself into it.” 

She attributed the success of the PawPrint’s web presence and stronger, motivated writers originating from the newspaper program to Mrs. Kious and said she is “a good teacher and deserves recognition.”

Durant Pride Yearbook
Mrs. Kious shares words of wisdom with Web Editor Angelique Robinson, Business Manager Jordan Dabbourand Staff Writer Nick Travis as they enjoy lunch at FSPA.

Mrs. Kious will be entered for teacher of the year in the state of Florida and is very deserving of the honor.  

Many of the PawPrint’s staff writers won awards for FSPA’s Fall Digital Contests in various categories as well.  Students who won digital contests placed in the top 10% of winners in the entire state of Florida.

David Fackson, a junior who joined PawPrint this year, wrote an article about the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2019 season for the Sports Feature category.  Despite not being able to make it to the conference, his article won in Florida. “It was nice to feel, nice to see,” he said about winning at FSPA. 

He also said he had never won something like this, and the award confirmed that he was on the right track with his writing as a journalist.

Lily Belcher, a sophomore, also placed in the state for a Sports Feature on Kevin Cash, thanks to help from Mrs. Kious and Jennifer Dages, the Editor-in-Chief of Writing for the PawPrint. 

Marina Hawkins and Adamari Jaimez won in Academic Photography with their photos of a Durant’s chemistry teacher, Mr. Haley, conducting an experiment during class.  Marina is the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint and said, “It feels good to know I could put that on my college resume or applications.”

Adamari is a junior who is considering a career in Photo-journalism.  She said that winning at FSPA has motivated her to work harder in journalism and consider Photo-journalism as a potential job in the future.  

The PawPrint also saw success in the On-the-Spot Contests at FSPA.  Mattie Powers, who also joined PawPrint this year and hopes to eventually work in broadcast journalism, won third place in the News Anchor Challenge.  She had ten minutes to memorize the story and report it as a news anchor would. Mattie also takes TV Production at Durant and is working on her articles for the winter edition of the PawPrint.  Mattie said “Winning at FSPA meant the world to me because it really confirmed what I wanted to do as a career, which is to be a news anchor.”

Durant Pride Yearbook
The staff begins to brainstorm their ideas for their on the spot contests.

Two students from Durant’s yearbook won an architectural on-the-spot photography contest.  Javier Lopez and Merrick Wigington featured photos of architectural aspects of the USF Marshall Center.  

FSPA has provided many journalism students with validation for their dreams of becoming a journalist.  It gave potential journalists the opportunity to improve their writing, interviewing, and broadcasting skills.  It allowed staff writers to explore different types of journalism and to discover their journalistic passions.  

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 theatre goes down the rabbit hole, returns with four awards

A guest article written by a Durant student about the Durant High School theater program.

Ever since Mr. Mason retired 2016 and Mr. Arment became Durant’s new drama teacher, our theatre program has had to rebuild itself from ground up. However, our profound success at a recent theatre competition proves that the new Troupe 5444 is gaining traction at an exponential rate!

Every winter, about 30 schools gather at USF for the District 9 One Acts Festival, where they each put on a play and compete for the best performance. It is quite a daunting competition, as District 9 has some of the most talented schools in the entire country. And under Mr. Mason, Durant had established itself as a formidable competitor in the past; but with a new teacher, the very core Troupe 5444 has changed. So one can imagine the huge weight we felt when performing at One Acts the past two years.

Last year was Mr. Arment’s first One Acts Festival, where Troupe 5444 performed The Lottery and went home with… a Good. Which, in reality, is a terribly mediocre score. But this year, we were determined to redeem ourselves with Alice in Wonderland. With a dedicated cast and a passionate teacher, the Troupe approached this challenging play with renewed vigor. As we worked together day after day, our creativity began to overflow and our bond became stronger than ever, and soon enough, we had a show that was much stranger and much better than we ever imagined. And then, finally, One Acts arrived.

It was a cool Friday afternoon at USF, filled with nervous anticipation, and we were more than ready to get onstage. It happened so quickly – one moment the judge was saying, “Durant High School, your time starts… now!” and the next moment we were jumping around like animals in front of 700 people and 3 judges. And then just like that, it was over. Last year, performing The Lottery felt like a weight on our shoulders that only got heavier. But this year, our Troupe walked offstage beaming with the satisfaction and pride, knowing that we had just rocked that theatre.

Next came the awards ceremony, where special awards were announced and then our scores were released. We waited at the edge of our seats as Jas Warren, director of the festival, announced winners. Then suddenly, we heard…

“Best Lighting Design… Alice in Wonderland, Troupe 5444!”

“Best Sound Design… Alice in Wonderland, Troupe 5444!”

“Best Comedic Supporting Actor… Justin White, Troupe 5444!”

“Best Comedic Supporting Actress…Mary McAnnally, Troupe 5444!”

We were absolutely ecstatic! That evening, Troupe 5444 went home with FOUR awards and a very high Excellent – two points away from Superior! And to think that just last year, we got nothing but a Good. But it’s obvious what we have now that we didn’t last year: creativity, dedication, and most importantly, companionship. Our Troupe went through profound changes in recent years, but we have risen above it all, and there is no doubt we are creating something special here in Durant’s auditorium.

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