Brady Plays on With the Bucs

By Shailey Klein

It’s time for Tom Brady to hang up the New England Patriots jersey and trade it in for new Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear. After a 20 year career in New England with Robert Kraft’s franchise and the Bill Belichick coaching dynasty, Brady feels it’s time to move on to the next chapter of his life. 

Brady has left a lasting legacy second to none in the National Football League (NFL). No one else has achieved nearly as much success all with one team. Brady has appeared in nine Super Bowls, boasting six rings, and four Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards. The regular season, playoff, and Super Bowl records he holds go on and on.

All of the accolades attest to his outstanding performance on the field. However, his legacy goes much further beyond that. He’s inspired countless kids to pursue their dreams no matter the circumstance. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft with the 199th pick. His NFL Draft Combine picture is the epitome of an undersized, unprepared college quarterback with hopes of making it at the next level.

He’s proven to the world that you don’t have to be a Heisman Trophy Winner in college or a first round draft pick to become the greatest of all time. He’s not only an incredible athlete, but a team player whose drive to be the best is unmatched. 

I had the privilege of meeting Brady when I was 10. My dad and I flew up to Boston for an action-packed weekend of sports. We went to a Patriots preseason game Friday night ironically against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, followed by a Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees baseball game Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. Those three days for sure make up one of the best weekends of my life. That Friday evening though, sticks out as hands down one of the most amazing nights of my life.

My dad is friends with Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., through business, so he was able to hook us up with unbelievable seats on the 50 yard line. Just before halftime, Brady Sr. came down to the seats to bring my dad and I up to the family box. I started to get jittery as he mentioned that Gisele Bündchen, Brady’s wife, and his kids might still be up there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to meet them, but I had a once in a lifetime experience watching the second half with the Brady’s. Brady Sr. knew the way to a 10-year-old’s heart enticing me with a huge dessert cart and I thought life couldn’t get any better as I chowed down on my carrot cake watching the Patriots play from the Brady’s box. 

10-year-old Eagle Shailey Klein with football great Tom Brady

As the game was drawing to a close, Brady Sr. said, “Let’s go see Tommy.”. At that moment, I almost lost my mind. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He was going to take ME to go meet the greatest quarterback of all time?!? It couldn’t be real. I remember looking up at my dad for reassurance that I heard him right, and he just smiled at me. I went into the bathroom to get my composure before we went down to the players lounge after the game. I couldn’t stand still, but I distinctively remember looking in the mirror and telling myself, “Holy cow, you’re about to meet Tom Brady!” and I repeated that in my head a few times to let it sink in. Honestly, to this day, I don’t know if it’s fully sunk in. 

Brady Sr. leads us down to the players lounge and I was dumbstruck at how everyone knew who he was and he was able to go wherever he wanted. To this day, I still have the tickets to the game as well as the wristbands with Brady’s jersey number, 12, written on it allowing us access everywhere since we were with him. Brady Sr. led us into Kraft’s box to then get onto the elevator to go down to the player’s lounge. Once we entered the players lounge, Brady Sr. told me it would probably be awhile until Tommy came out because he had to shower and meet with the press. In the meantime, Brady Sr. pulled me over and opened a random door. I had no idea what it was or where it led to, but as soon as I peaked my head inside, my jaw hit the floor. It was the press room and Belichick was standing right in front of me answer questions for the media. Of course, he was giving his typical snarky comments, being as vague as possible, but it was unreal to see it unfolding right before my eyes. We watched his press conference and then scooted back over to the players lounge waiting for Brady. Brady Sr. gave him a phone call and he said he was heading over. 

Next thing I knew, he was standing there, right in front of me, and I was speechless. As a little 10-year-old girl, the 6’4’’ Brady seemed godly as he towered over me. He met us with a huge smile, eyes beaming, and his massive hands swallowed mine in a handshake. After introductions, he immediately struck up conversation with me. He asked me if I was into football and of course I jabbered away telling him about how I love watching football. We talked about being from Gainesville and us being huge Gator fans. He chuckled, mentioning how they have a few of those on their team. At the time, Gator greats Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes donned Patriots jerseys, and star tight end Aaron Hernandez was with the team for the last three seasons up until the previous offseason. I was starstruck and I could’ve talked to him for hours, but of course being Tom Brady has its responsibilities, so he bade us and his father farewell and headed to go talk to the media before he left the building. 

Mr. Klein with one of the six Patriots Super Bowl rings

I couldn’t believe that Tom Brady was a normal human being. In the conversation that I had with him, he could’ve been anyone. You would have never known that he was the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots and Super Bowl MVP, holding numerous NFL records. He was just a normal guy striking up conversation with a young girl who’s enthralled by sports. He wanted to know what teams I rooted for and wanted to know what brought me to Foxborough. I’m forever grateful for the kindness he, and his father showed me. It has honestly had a huge impact on my life and further deepened my love for sports and desire to ultimately pursue a career in sports journalism. 

The thing that strikes me most about Brady is how humble he is. The accolades are fantastic and he’s worked his entire life to be the best, but his devotion is greater than football. After he won his first Super Bowl, he gave his ring to his dad. The story still touches Brady Sr. as Brady knew his father was going to sneak it back into his suitcase, so he went the extra mile to make sure it ended up with his father before flying across the country. Brady Sr. knew how hard he worked for it and felt Brady deserved it, especially it being his first. There was no guarantee there would be more. That could have been Brady’s only ring, but he still wanted his dad to have it. Of course, now we know five more rings followed, but that desire for his dad to have the ring that he had worked so hard for shows his deep appreciation for the people who have helped him get to where he is now.

I’m beyond excited to see where this next journey takes him in Tampa. No matter the outcome, even if there’s no more Super Bowls, even if no more records are broken, in my eyes, Brady is still the greatest football player of all time. All of the awards, records, and his six rings, make it clear. However, the hard work Brady has put into the sport, paired with his dedication to his family and deep appreciation for those who have gotten him to where he is today, make him an even more phenomenal person.

Faculty Spotlight: David Pickens

By Amanda Malnik

Even though Oak Hall Middle School teacher David Pickens has worked at Oak Hall for 31 years, his history with the Oak Hall community began in kindergarten. 

Pickens was born in Chicago, Ill., and moved to Gainesville, Fla. when he was a young child. Except for the two years of elementary school Pickens spent in Georgia while his father served in the Army, he attended the Lower School (formerly known as Martha Manson Academy) and Oak Hall until graduation. 

After graduating from Oak Hall, Pickens went to Furman University in Greenville, S.C. For many generations, his relatives attended either Furman University or Clemson University because both are in close distance to Pickens County, Ga., the place where his father’s side of the family lived since the 1700s. Pickens ultimately chose to attend Furman University as it shared many of the same qualities as Oak Hall. 

Pickens initially majored in biology but soon gained a passion for history and politics, thus graduating with a degree in political science. Following college, he returned home to Gainesville, unsure of his next step in life. The summer after graduating, however, he received a call from Mac Hall, the Athletic Director and Head Football Coach of Oak Hall at the time, asking if he was interested in a position as an assistant football coach. He took the job and had much more involvement in the sports program that year as he was then given the opportunity to coach the junior varsity boys basketball team in the winter. In the spring, Pickens continued his involvement with Oak Hall sports and was the pitching coach for the baseball team. Alongside coaching, Pickens was also a substitute teacher at Oak Hall throughout the year as well as doing maintenance work around the school. The following school year, he was asked to teach an algebra and pre-algebra class. The prior year reminded Pickens of his love for Oak Hall as well as his respect for his teachers when he was a student, so he gladly took the opportunity. Eventually, Pickens ended up teaching 10th grade world history in addition to the math classes he taught and sports he coached. In his fourth year at Oak Hall, he began teaching eighth grade American history, the class he has been teaching ever since.

Pickens’ passion for teaching derives from his devotion to conceiving a plan that effectively utilizes a student’s time in the classroom. He aims to engage students in the content, as well as invoke discovery of the content. He uses his knowledge and skills as a coach and translates that to the classroom. “When you coach a basketball practice, you’re trying to make use of every single minute that you get. The ball is in their hands, you’re putting them in these situations and letting them work on these skills,” Pickens noted. 

Faculty Spotlight: Jim Margerum

By Aiden Wacksman

A little more than 30 years ago, math and English teacher Jim Margerum arrived at Oak Hall School, and has been here ever since. 

Margerum was raised in Miami, Fla., and attended Miami Carol City High School. In his high school years, he played wide receiver on the football team and was a member of the wrestling and weightlifting teams; although football was his favorite sport to play. In college, he was a powerlifter at the University of Florida. “It was a club sport… and we would represent Florida at the collegiate state championships,” Margerum said. At the time, he was able to legally bench press 300 pounds, which was more than two times his bodyweight. 

After graduating high school, he continued his education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York for two years, even though he had the choice of going to the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). “Rensselaer Polytechnic gave me more money than Cal Tech,” he noted of his college decision. 

At RPI, he completed his undergraduates in math and physics. He then went on to UF where he earned an undergraduate degree in English and graduate degrees in mathematics education. “I came back to Florida to save money and because UF had so many classes in addition to the math and science [classes] that I could take,” he said.

Even though he has been teaching for three decades, the idea of becoming a teacher wasn’t on Margerum’s mind after graduating college. “I didn’t entertain the idea of becoming a teacher until I was in my 30s,” Margerum noted. He wanted to focus on having a career rather than being a “student” of the subjects he was interested in. At the time, Oak Hall only had two math teachers, and one of them was leaving. “[Oak Hall] reached out to some professors and one of them recommended me,” he stated. After that, the rest is history. Margerum was hired and began teaching geometry, trigonometry, and precalculus in the fall of 1989. In the same year he arrived at Oak Hall, he started the inaugural weightlifting team, which competes in the spring sports season. “Practices are my favorite thing about coaching the weightlifting team; working out together is great fun,” Margerum said. 

Today he teaches classes such as Calculus BC and Conspiracies and Mysteries. He also teaches Fantasy Literature, which is convenient since one of his favorite books is Lord of the Rings. His favorite types of mathematics include topology, mathematical set theory, and category theory. Margerum’s favorite class to teach is honors discrete mathematics, because he gets to choose what topics he teaches. “[Discrete] gives people in the class a different look at math than other algebra and calculus courses,” he said. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, weightlifting, listening to music, and spending time with his wife. 

Movie Review: Parasite

Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers from this film

By Sofia Santelices

Parasite is considered a thriller masterpiece from 2019. Since it was just released on Hulu on April 8 (currently the only platform streaming the movie), subscribers can now watch the Oscar-winning film.

I have an immense soft spot for genres that are designed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats: horror, psychological thrill, suspense, mystery. One could say that all of these genres are compacted into Parasite with a touch of dark comedy. 

The film begins with the Kim family, seen to live in a penniless condition in which it’s a constant struggle to reach simple luxury. We can see this in the basement-apartment styled complex where they call home, and even in their occupation of folding pizza boxes all day. An opportunity one day presents itself where Ki-woo, the son of the Kim family, is offered a job as an English tutor for the Park family, an extremely wealthy family. He quickly gains the approval of Mrs. Park, and is prompt to recommend an art therapist to aid in the behavior of the Park’s youngest son Da-song. Although Ki-woo forgets to mention a small detail, his sister is the “art therapist”. He also forged his college diploma, but that’s just a minor technicality.

This is when the plot begins to escalate. 

After Mrs. Park hires a “certified” English tutor, and an art therapist, the Kim siblings frame the Park’s chauffeur, resulting in the termination of his job. Ki-jung, the daughter of the Kim family who poses as the therapist, suggests an adequate chauffeur to drive Mr. Park around. And once again, a small detail is failed to be mentioned: the chauffeur is Ki-taek, the father of the Kim family. The family sets up an elaborate plan to get the caretaker of the house fired, but not in the way one would expect. They constantly send the current house caretaker on trips to the hospital by giving her constant allergic reactions, and then claims to the Parks that their caretaker has tuberculosis. The caretaker is sent on leave, and is replaced by Chung-sook, the mother in the Kim family. 

The film continues on to unfold little and bigger details that aid in setting up the fate of the Kim family. 

I recommend watching the film and won’t spoil the ending in this article. But here’s a hint: karma is a strong belief in Asian cultures, or at least my culture. After one-third of the film, after the Kim family pursues their plan in gaining their occupations, the tension and anticipation of the film dropped. A lot of western horror films use jump-scares, gore, or dramatized and unrealistic events to keep the reader on edge. Gore is shared in between the two mediums. Most Asian horror films are the complete opposite. Asian horror films are mostly psychological thrillers in which various tactics are used such as: throwing off the audience by using weird or disgusting situations, realistic and relatable themes, and a game of chase between a host and a victim. I think I’m used to seeing Asian psychological thrillers, or films set up on the same premises as this film, which is why my expectation was not reached. 

I really liked how organized the film was in the pacing and the unfolding of events. It wasn’t rushed. The audience had enough details, puzzle pieces, and time to soak in the events. I like how Parasite made a lot of scenes throughout the film realistic. Maybe the ending was a bit dramatized but compared to a man in a mask killing off everyone as an omnipotent creature, this is more realistic. Two themes I grabbed from the story were: greed and karma. And those two themes are the most realistic aspects you can get from the film, which I find the most terrifying aspect even compared to the violent rampage at the end of the film. 

I think Parasite is exceptional, yet I also think it’s overrated. 

Music Review: Pearl Jam is Back

I never thought they left…

By Cristina Alvarez
The Talon Advisor

From the group that brought you hits like “Jeremy”, “Evenflow”, and “Better Man” comes the highly anticipated 11th album, Gigaton. Now, I know a majority of the younger readers of The Talon are asking, “Ms. Alvarez, who is Pearl Jam?”. Well, Pearl Jam is the greatest rock and roll band to come out of the 90s and early 2000s (Soundgarden comes in at a very close second). The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and has sold out shows its whole existence (and not at dinky venues, but at big venues like Madison Square Garden).

Granted, it’s been seven years since the band released an album…seven long years! A lot has changed in the world in seven years, especially within the last few months. If you still aren’t sure who (or what) Pearl Jam is, read on, listen, and enjoy this (a little too) honest review from one of Pearl Jam’s faithful followers. I’m not going to go into details about every track because, well, I think the song “Buckle Up” is terrible.

Let’s start with my personal favorite song on the album, “Seven O’Clock”. I don’t know what it is about this song that makes me love it so much. It might be because the lyrics are eerie and represent what our world currently looks like.

For this is no time for depression or self-indulgent hesitance
This [messed]-up situation calls for all hands, hands on deck

When the band started writing this album, COVID-19 wasn’t even a blip on the world’s radar. Currently, so many people are risking their health and their lives for the greater good of helping others. All hands are definitely on deck. As for the actual tune, it has an amazing flow musically, as lead singer Eddie Vedder’s sultry voice makes you feel all the feels. My favorite part of the song is the harmonizing at the end. It’s so incredibly beautiful with the message that there is still so much to be done to fix whatever problems we are facing, either in the world or in our own lives. 

Clip from “Seven O’Clock” by Pearl Jam

Let’s now dive into the first single, “Dance of the Clairvoyants”. Right off the bat, the bass riff from Jeff Ament sets an amazing beat. This song is very grunge-like with a lot of anger from Vedder. I’d say this whole album has a very mature grunge sound. Side note, the definition of clairvoyance is, “the supposed faculty of perceiving things or events in the future or beyond normal sensory contact”. 

Not one man can be greater than the sun
That’s not a negative thought
I’m positive, positive, positive

As previously noted, the way the band’s lyrics reflect today’s society, maybe Vedder has clairvoyance…

Clip from “Dance of the Clairvoyants” by Pearl Jam

Finally, “Quick Escape” has the hard rock we’ve all come to know and love about Pearl Jam. This song is so good, it is listed on National Public Radio’s (NPR) article “The Best New Songs You’ve Missed During Quarantine” (April 7, 2020). It addresses the need for action regarding the global environmental crisis that has been plaguing our planet for years, and how the only way to avoid it is to make a “quick escape” to another planet.

Oh, and we think about the old days 
Of green grass, sky and red wine 
Should’ve known it’s so fragile 
Avoided this one-way flight

In all honesty, if this song is good enough for NPR, it’s good enough for everyone!

Clip of “Quick Escape” by Pearl Jam

Personally, I think everyone should go listen to this album (available on any music sharing app). Other than schoolwork (or professional work) and TikTok, what else are you doing? Expand your musical horizons, and when school returns we can sit in my classroom with snacks and Capri Sun’s and discuss. 

Important side note: Pearl Jam is not a band that has ever shied away from its political views. I am not endorsing, nor condemning, the political views of the band revealed in this album.