Tennis team overcomes tough loss, individuals advance to state

Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

After earning a 18-0 record, the Mason girl’s tennis team was undefeated until it really counted: the state qualifying match. But despite this loss, four girls are still competing for the State Championship title, something their team wasn’t able to earn this year.

According to junior Lizzy Kong, the girls had a fantastic opportunity to compete at the State Tournament as a team, but the severe mental pressure hindered her from performing well.

“We all know that excuses will always be there for us,” Kong said. “Opportunity won’t. And this year we had a very strong opportunity to go to state. I knew we could beat Sycamore, I knew we were expected to go to state, I knew I was expected to win, but when the match was 2-2 and it all came down to me, I ended it (lost the match).”


Lizzy Kong serving the ball in a scrimmage against her teammates. Photo by Staff Writer Blake Nissen.

Prior to the match, according to junior Sneha Kandi, the girls had a fantastic season. They beat some of the best teams in the state and won the Greater Miami Championship title, Kandi said.

“I think this has been one of the best seasons that the girls’ tennis team has even had,” Kandi said. “We won the Coaches Classic, the GMC’s, and we even had an undefeated season.”

The top doubles team for Mason during regular season consisted of Kandi and junior Isabel Cepeda while the top players were Kong and Amanda Huser who came back this season from being homeschooled the previous year to focus on tennis. When the team lost in the state qualifying match, Huser and Kong created the second doubles team to compete individually at the Sectional and District Tournaments. According to Kandi, even after their loss, the girls are still powering through.

“We did really well in sectionals considering that Lizzy Kong and Amanda Huser won the entire tournament and Isabel Cepeda and I were seeded fourth,” Kandi said. “We performed really well at districts. Lizzy and Amanda were District Champions. Isabel and I seeded third. We just hope to do well at state. ”


Isabel Cepeda performing her serve in practice before districts. Photo by Blake Nissen.

After winning districts, both the doubles teams qualified for state on October 15. According to Cepeda the loss made them learn a lesson; it made the girls realize that just because Mason is the best, doesn’t mean they can’t be stopped.

“Our loss against Sycamore has definitely made the team stronger because it humbled us,” Cepeda said. “Before that match, I guess most of us assumed we were going to win since we’ve beat them twice before. After losing that match we all learned that just because we’re the number one team in the state doesn’t mean we’re unstoppable.”

According to Kong, the girls have recovered from their bitter loss against Sycamore and their minds are set clearer than ever on state.

“I am confident that we will do very well representing our district during state,” Kong said.“Hopefully we will at least make the final four at state. Of course everyone there is looking to win it; we hope to come out on top. After our heart wrenching loss that caused us to fall short of going to team state, we are ever so determined to win individually. Because now, while that loss was painful, it will not drag us down. Better starts now. Better starts now.”


McCarty-Stewart to resign for post at Wilmington High School

May 15, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

After faithfully serving Mason City Schools for 11 years and fulfilling the duties of the principal of William Mason High School for the past six years, Mindy McCarty-Stewart will resign her position to pursue a new challenge in her hometown as the principal of Wilmington High School.

According to McCarty-Stewart, she wasn’t looking for such a change but was approached with the opportunity. Though it is difficult to part away from Mason High School, she hopes to give back to her hometown and community and feels that is in the best interest of her family, McCarty-Stewart said.

“I was not looking for a change,” McCarty-Stewart said.  “In my hometown, in the school district I used to work for and where my family goes, I was contacted by the superintendent asking whether I would be interested in coming back and supporting them as their high school principal because the position just opened up. I gave it a lot of consideration, and it was very difficult, but in my heart, I felt it was good. And I thought it would be good for my family and an opportunity to help a school district I love and a community I love.”

Due to her resignation, Mason City Schools is scouting for a new principal to fill her shoes, McCarty-Stewart said.

“The leadership here has recently posted that the position is available,” McCarty-Stewart said. “It will be a very rigorous process in terms of selecting and interviewing the next Mason High School principal. That is not yet determined, but they are researching, and they are committed to finding the best fit to be the next high school principal here.”

According to McCarty-Stewart, Mason High School’s biggest success is itself. The ability to have a talented and wonderful student body who really care about each other is astounding, McCarty-Stewart said.

“There are so many individual student success stories, but I think as a building the largest success is the ability to have a wonderful high school with people that care a lot about each other (even in) the largest high school,” McCarty-Stewart said. “By placing staff in place that really care about the students, we have continued to grow in a positive direction through a rapid growth is a huge success.”

Throughout her years at MHS, the biggest change that she has witnessed is all the new additions, McCarty-Stewart said.

“The biggest change is adding new additions,” McCarty-Stewart said. “Specifically the building change. I was a big part of that. The Z pod and the additional cafeteria space, the partnership with Atrium, seeing that was kind of the physical changes I witnessed.  I was part of the growth, so I was fortunate to be part of hiring the staff. The advances in technology in and incorporating that (are another change). We and the teachers have worked hard to provide (courses), like the integrated media course, Computer Programming, CAD (Computer Aided Design), and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing).”

According to McCarty-Stewart, she hopes her biggest impact on Mason High School is her kindness and compassion for people. She feels like her leadership style has motivated the staff and allowed them to flourish and express their creativity, McCarty-Stewart said.

“I would hope that the impact I have left on Mason High School is just my true compassion for people,” McCarty-Stewart said.  “I have worked hard to do my best to give a personal touch and support the staff here, empowering their leadership because they are so talented; they are so creative and such great experts in their field. Hopefully, I have established a leadership style that has helped them flourish, and I have such a deep respect to the partnership with parents and the engagement we have with our parents.”

According to McCarty-Stewart, her biggest regret is not getting to know each and every student in MHS.

“My only biggest regret is that it is hard to get to know each individual student,” McCarty-Stewart said. “All 3,400 of you (students). Certainly, it has been a joy watching each student come through Mason High School.”

As she moves onto Wilmington High School, she will miss all the little things that make up the culture of Mason High School, McCarty-Stewart said.

“I will absolutely miss the interactions; I will miss the little things when the band walks through the hallways and plays the fight song,” McCarty-Stewart said. “I will miss the Black Hole and cheering each other on and the level of support that students make and the leadership in student government. The list goes on. All these things will be hard to walk away from.”

Gas station debate

May 15, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

Crooked Tree Gas Station Debate

Crooked Tree gas station sparks debate among residents.

Get off my lawn.

For the past several years, the proposal for the construction of a gas station has been an ongoing battle between the residents of Crooked Tree and the Mason City Council. Residents have come together and protested construction of a Shell gas station on the roundabout at the intersection of Mason-Montgomery and Bethany Road.

According to Crooked Tree resident Scott Stevens, the residents in this area have spoken to the city council and county court to protest.

“When it went before City Council in 2011, the entire neighborhood protested this and lost,” Stevens said. “The City Council favored the developer. It has already been approved and there is nothing else we can do.”

According to City Planner Brian Lazor, the gas station will actually serve the community better.

“The developer did a marketing study and it showed that area was underserved,” Lazor said. “The gas station will provide the residents in the area shopping option. There will also be a convenience store.”

Though the gas station is approved, it doesn’t follow the stipulated ordinances according to the City of Mason, Stevens said. According to Stevens, he knew that the zone was a commercial zone, but never expected a gas station.

“I knew that when I built my house in 2002, that there would be a business in the area,” Stevens said. “There is an ordinance stating that gas trucks aren’t allowed to travel on any routes in the City except for Route 741 or Route 42. This gas station is not on either of the routes. We always knew that a light business like a dry cleaner’s, or a doctor’s office would go there, but never a gas station.”

Fiddler on the Roof Debuts Tonight

April 23, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer
Fiddler on the Roof

Rather than fiddling away the past two months, the Mason High School drama club has been working hard on its latest production, Fiddler on the Roof. The play premieres tonight, Thursday, April 23, and according to Drama Club advisor Allen Young, it was specifically chosen because of its theme of cultural identity and its outstanding literary crafting.

“There are a lot of considerations that go into picking our season,” Young said. “The play is about tradition and pride in your culture. That is a theme for the ages. The play is exceptionally well written. You really can’t say that about a lot of musicals. A lot of musicals are thrown together. They might have good music or they might have good dancing, but Fiddler on the Roof really works together as a piece of literature and a piece of theater. There are great songs that everyone knows. That combined with the story, and the thematic materials really makes an exceptional show.”

According to senior Ryley Arnold, the play’s lead, Fiddler on the Roof is about a Jewish family living in Russia during the time of the Russian revolution. The play is about Tevye and how he adapts and evolves to the changing norms of his culture.

“I play Tevye,” Arnold said. “The play is about a man named Tevye living in an orthodox Jewish town in 1908. Tevye’s daughters are growing up and falling in love with a man. However, according to him, they aren’t going about it the right way. During the course of the play, Tevye has to deal with break(ing) traditions and how to evolve as a person beyond how he has been told to be and how he has told to feel.”

The audience, both young and old, can connect with this play, Arnold said.

“It’s the 50th anniversary of Fiddler,” Arnold said.  “I know that a lot of parents and grandparents, that have seen Fiddler before, are excited to see it.  For our generations, many teenagers can connect to the topic of social acceptance discussed in the play. “

According to senior and assistant director Katey Jo Henry, the cast has put much work and effort toward the production of the play, and it’s a very rewarding experience. There are even difficult dances and songs on which the cast has done a good job, Henry said.

“We have had rehearsal every day for the past two months,” Henry said.  “The cast has put in a lot of work with dancing, learning lines and singing. The dances are pretty strenuous for some of the guys. Our actors did a really good job modernizing the show. I enjoy being able to work really hard on something and watch it come together.”




Helping Hand

April 17, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer
Helping Hand

Sophomore Josh Suguitan volunteers in Over the Rhine to help the less fortunate.

Give and you shall receive.

Mason High School students are helping the less unfortunate by volunteering in homeless shelters and soup kitchens in Over the Rhine.

Sophomore Josh Suguitan has regularly been going with his father, a pastor at the Prince of Peace, to feed the homeless in downtown Cincinnati and better their lives by interacting and talking with them. According to Suguitan, helping those people has become part of his life.

“I grew up there doing volunteer work,” Suguitan said. “…We have church and we give them donuts, food, counseling. They become members and they come back every week.”

Apart from feeding the homeless, Suguitan also counsels children on making the right choices.

“I always try to influence them on their future lives,” Suguitan said. “There’s this one kid, and we always hang out. He runs up to me and has me carry him around and we go do activities.”

Junior Sean Reid said he volunteers with an organization that he created, called Service Workers Achieving Greatness or S.W.A.G., Reid said.

“We have done City Gospel Mission, which is an extremely humbling experience, where you can serve breakfast, lunch, or dinner,” Reid said. “The mission that they’re trying to complete is that they bring kids off the street, they have seminars, they have everything from food to church…They also have seminars that prepare people for jobs and give them clothes and interviews to get them involved.”

According to Reid, helping them also has had an impact on him.

“They just thank you so much for everything that you could do for them, because their situation hasn’t been so great,” Reid said. “But seeing that for me and them in that situation, being so thankful and so happy for everything, just gives me a totally different perspective on life.”

Volunteering and helping the homeless also changes perspective on life, Suguitan said. It really exposes him to the real world.

“(It) exposes me to a lot of things I don’t see in Mason,” Suguitan said. “It makes you humble and I complain less about my life, which is really easy, compared to those who can’t get off drugs, they’re going through challenges, and they’re just harsher lives out there and I think it’s good to see it up close and in person.”

Doctor’s Discovery

March 20, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

Sauer’s math research published in professional journal.

Like Pythagoras and Euclid, Dr. Johnothon Sauer too has left his footprints in mathematics.

Honors pre-calculus and algebra teacher Dr. Sauer has evolved the field of abstract algebra, an advanced level of algebra that focuses on the format of system using letters instead of numbers. Sauer’s research was part of his dissertation which was completed in 2009 and his findings on zero divisor graphs have been published this year in Semigroup Forum, a prestigious math journal.

Zero divisor graphs are coordinates of a system, which has two numbers that multiply to equal zero, but neither of the numbers can be zero, Sauer said. Through his research he has found six vertices of zero divisor graphs–a feat that hasn’t been done before.

“There are certain system(s) where if you had two numbers and you multiply them together and they equal zero, it’s not necessarily true that either one of those numbers were zero to begin with,” Sauer said. “These systems exist. The graph that we make shows the numbers that are multiplied together to equal zero. Those that multiply to equal zero are known as zero divisors.”

According to Sauer, the field of zero divisor graphs is very new. There are still a lot of questions to answer, Sauer said.

“When we started on the research, the first major paper dealing with the algebraic graph theory and zero divisor graphs came out in 1999,” Sauer said. “There were a whole bunch of open questions about zero divisor graphs with relation to abstract algebra and the graph theory.”

Though this discovery only contributes to the theoretical side of the field, it is still uncertain if there is a practical application, Sauer said.

“It was nice, neat, pure, theoretical mathematics,” Sauer said. “People are moving forward to see how much more they can find out about the zero divisor graphs, but as far as an application or anything like that, it hasn’t been found yet.”

The Harkness Method, a conventional way of teaching in which the teacher guides the students by asking them questions, has helped him find the answers to his questions, Sauer said. Teachers would act as facilitators and help students learn the material in a more hands-off approach.

According to junior honors pre-calculus student Emma Hodge, the Harkness Method leads to self-realization and allows her to better understand and remember fundamental principles and concepts.

“Most of the time, the class is self taught and we are challenging ourselves to solve the problem before he kind of steps in and saves the day,” Hodge said.  “He is there when you need him to lecture you about something. I know that if I have a question about anything, he will just go to the board and explain it until it is perfectly clear in my mind.”

Different cultures blaze in an annual Taste of Mason

February 13, 2015
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

On Wednesday, February 11, Mason High School was blazing with different cultures during the annual Taste of Mason. Different cultures, local vendors, and magnificent pieces of art all gathered in one place to show community members what Mason has to offer.

According to one of Taste of Mason’s hosts and Mason Middle School principal, Tonya McCall, the event is a fantastic way for citizens to learn more and interact better with other community members. The taste of Mason is a fantastic way of watching other cultures interact, McCall said.

“The purpose of the taste of Mason is to provide a community opportunity for different cultural groups to be able to share a little bit about their culture and bring some light to that for all of the Mason community to experience,” McCall said. “It is an efficient event because you have an opportunity to bring lots of different cultural events to one place. So, as a community member, I can come to Taste of Mason, I can experience foods from different cultures, I can experience cultural things such as dance, or the artwork that is here. All of that is one place, so I can have a one stop opportunity to see what’s happening with people in my own neighborhood. I think it’s an efficient opportunity because it brings people together.”

Junior Ashley Kramer, a volunteer in Taste of Mason, said that Taste of Mason is a good way for people to experience other food and cultures and also promotes small business.

“The taste of Mason is a positive influence on the community because it really helps people see all the different types of food and cultures that we have here in Mason,” Kramer said. “So someone who maybe doesn’t know that we have Modern Thai from Banana Leaf, they can come and see that and start helping the community, because most of these business are home businesses and it really helps them grow and spread awareness for them.”

Seventh grader at Mason Middle School, Andrea Hefferan, a Latino dancer, said that the Taste of Mason is a fun away to share her heritage and culture.

“We’re doing Mexican dancing from different countries,” Hefferan said. “It’s just really fun for me to dance. The people who have never seen it before, it looks really cool.”

According to Tony Aponte, the owner of Aponte’s Pizzeria, selling food and participating in Taste of Mason is a good way to reconnect with the community.

“We have been doing this (participating in the Taste of Mason) since the beginning,” Aponte said. “It gets us back in touch with everybody and all the new people in the neighborhood, and let them know who we are and everybody has fun.”

According to McCall, Taste of Mason is so efficient because it brings all aspects of the community together. Taste of Mason is also a good way to bring the entire Mason City Schools staff together, McCall said.

“I would just say that it is a really cool idea that Taste of Mason involves a lot of our different groups,” McCall said. “Not just high school students that are participants, but it involves our community by having vendors here. It involves our leaders in our Mason City Schools…it brings in our teachers. It’s a really good opportunity from everyone from all different aspects of the Mason City Schools and larger community to be together, and that’s one of the unique things that we have.”

Hispanic Heritage Festival hosted by Spanish National Honor Society

October 9, 2014
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer
Hispanic students perform a traditional dance.

Mason High School was blazing with Hispanic heritage and culture on Tuesday afternoon.

The Spanish National Honor Society hosted its fourth annual Spanish Heritage Festival. More than 525 students gathered to an afternoon filled with dancing, singing, face painting, and an unbelievable spread of Hispanic food. A professional merengue and salsa dance instructor swept the dance floor. Noteorious, a Mason choral group, also came in to sing some of their compositions.

Watch Noteorious’ performance.

According to advisor Amy Ortega, the purpose of the festival is to recognize Hispanic culture and celebrate the achievements of Hispanics.

“The festival is something we organized when we began the Spanish National Honor Society recognizing the Hispanic culture and the achievements of Hispanics, not only nationally but also locally,” Amy said. “This is mostly to provide awareness for all the Spanish students as well as anyone else who wants to learn more about the fantastic Hispanic community we have here in Mason.”

According to Ortega, the student body was very involved in this. Spanish National Honor Society even conducted a Hispanic Spirit Week prior to the festival, and they sold tickets to Mason Middle School.

“We had spirit week for the first time this year,” Amy said. “We got approval from administration to have one. It wasn’t overly successful, but it was only approved last minute. There are also trivia questions in the morning, recognizing well known Hispanics. This year, we have made quite a connection with the middle school. We sold tickets at the middle school and the Spanish students from the middle school came over too.”

Though the festival was a huge success, a lot of organizing and planning was necessary. According to cabinet member Clara Ortega, the logistics and planning regard the Heritage Festival began in the summer.

“We have been planning this since the summer,” Clara said. “It’s really hard to contact groups that are involved. It was hard to get the Colombian dancers and Noteorious, the choral group to come in, since we didn’t have their contact information. Planning the date was the hardest thing. It was really hard to find a date to find a date for everyone in the Society to meet.”

According to Ortega, there will also be upcoming events conducted by the Spanish National Honor Society.

“The society is doing an activity called Los Regalos in the winter,” Clara said.  “It is an activity to get people to donate money which will be given to unfortunate Hispanics for gifts. We are also doing the World Cup in spring. We are getting all of the other honor societies such as Art Honor Society and French Honor Society to form soccer teams representing different countries and play against each other. I am really looking forward to it.”

Coaches Classic allows girls tennis team to play with heart

September 15, 2014
Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer

025 (1)Pictured: Sophomore Shirley Yang
Photo by Arnav Damodhar

Sports should be played for a love of the game.

The Mason girls tennis team has tightly embraced this concept through the Coaches Classic Tournament. On Thursday, September 11, and Saturday, September 13, the girls tennis team served their way through the Coaches Classic Tournament, the first individual tournament of the season.

Because the whole team was in the back draw, most lost their matches. However, second singles player and sophomore Isabel Cepeda carried Mason to success. Cepeda won 8-2 against rival Sycamore in her final match.

“I think that the team did pretty well,” Cepeda said. “I am really surprised with myself.”

According to head coach Mike Reid, the conflict with the ACT has really messed up the entire line up.

“We would have liked to done a little bit better,” Reid said. “But, we did okay. We were missing two of our players. (Junior) Sanjana Datla and (senior) Kelly Noriega were both taking the ACT. That hurt us a little bit.”

According to first singles player, sophomore Elizabeth Kong, the Coaches Classic is not a very important tournament — put relatively.

“It doesn’t count for anything,” Kong said. “It just brings the people in our area together so we can play as players and gives friendly competition. But the thing is that because it is unimportant, other schools like to stack. So they would put one of their best players as doubles, whereas Mason, we play our line up straight up.”

The same belief is also shared by Coach Reid. According to him, the results of Coaches Classic doesn’t set any assertion or expectation for the GMC, sectional, or district tournaments.

“It doesn’t matter in terms of the GMCs, the sectionals, or the districts,” Reid said. “It is more of a fun tournament. Some teams put together their singles players and have them play doubles; some teams use it to get ready for the sectionals. But, it’s not the most important tournament. It’s not the same way we view the GMCs or the sectionals.”

According to Reid, this tournament was good in terms of giving doubles players a chance to play other positions. Sophomore Shirley Yang did well, according to him, although Yang lost her final match 8-6 against Sycamore. Overall, the girl’s tennis team is content with their performance.

“We got the opportunity to have some kids play singles who don’t always play singles,” Reid said. “Shirley Yang is playing really well at third singles. Typically, she would be playing second doubles.”

Senior Expectations vs. Realities

Be a senior, they said. It will be easy, they said.

This is the common misconception that people make. Many underclassmen and juniors have an assumption that senior year is going to be the easiest of them all. A year comprised of a lighter academic load, enjoyment, and a whole different feeling.

Or so they think.

According to senior, Sam Hodge, twelfth grade is just as academically inclined like any other; with classes to attend, homework to complete, and tests to study for.

“I expected that junior year was going the high academic year and everything was going to be a lot harder,” Hodge said. “I don’t think I realized how academically rigorous senior year was going to be.

According to senior, Rachel Holloway, having a rigorous schedule is crucial in order to get accepted into an elite school. It also prepares you for college.

“I think that you have to keep challenging yourself and keep taking hard classes, if you want to go to a hard school,” Holloway said. “If you take easy classes your senior year, you are not going to go into college with the same work ethic. So I kind of always wanted to keep my course schedules rigorous.”

Apart from the academic rigor, seniors are engrossed in their college applications. And on top of that, they have to manage their extracurricular activities.

Senior, Michael Crawshaw said, “Just figuring out where I want to go has taken up a lot of time.” “The pressure from applications and admissions is a lot to handle. It dominates my schedule. The main thing for me is I don’t want to let something like college admissions overpower the things I love to do. I love to play piano. I would never be able to say I guess I don’t have to practice piano for a month, because I have to do all these college applications.”

The pressure of college acceptance has enforced discipline in seniors and has prevented them from slacking off.

Senior, Emily Calvani said, “At some points I want to slack off.” But, at the same time I really can’t do that if I want a college to see me as a good candidate for that school. I want to slack off sometimes, but I know it’s not really an option.”

Apart from the rigorous coursework, the arduous college application process, and numerous extracurricular activities, some seniors don’t truly feel like “Seniors.”

“I always feel like an internal freshman,” senior, Cassidy Peebles, said. “I have said that since sophomore year. I thought I would change every year. I feel more mature knowing that next year I will be going to college and will be out my comfortable surroundings.”

According to Calvani, she was not expecting to feel like this. She too, was expecting to feel like a, “Senior.”

“During the summer I was expecting to feel different coming into school as a senior,” Calvani said. “I think as a freshmen I would always look at people and kind of be a little intimidated and this year I don’t. So I guess in that sense I feel different. But, other than that it’s kind of like the same.”

On the contrary, freshman have very different expectations for senior year, compared to the actual realities.

According to freshman, Brian Karl, being an eighth grader, feels like being a top dog of the Middle School. And this is what being a senior would feel like.

“You [as an eighth grader] should be more of role model,” Karl said. “The eighth graders didn’t get any power. It just made them feel like the senior of the Middle School. I would feel similar (when I am a senior) to being an eighth grader.”

Freshman, Kaitlin Lewis, has a different opinion of senior year. According to Lewis, she won’t feel any different as a senior. But, she expects it to be a little laid back.

“It’s weird to even think about that I am in high school right now,” Lewis said.  “I probably won’t even feel much different. I think it’s going to be more fun. I am going to take harder classes. But I still think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I feel like it’s going to be a little more laid back.”

According to Emily Calvani, senior year is about having fun and experiencing new things. But, at the same time, it also important to concentrate on school.


“It’s exciting getting to experience new things and getting to help out underclassmen, but at the same time I am still here for a year,” Calvani said. “I still need to focus. I am just really excited for it.”