Column: Life on Earth

This week’s topic: The Great Barrier Reef

By Elle Storoe

The Great Barrier Reef
Courtesy of The Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia in the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef has the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with more than 400 types of coral and more than 5,000 different animal species. This reef is very important to us as it is not only home to thousands of different species, but it provides a buffer to the coasts from storms and waves. In addition, the reef provides an income for many people. The Great Barrier Reef, however, is dying. This beautiful reef is bleaching due to climate change and the water getting warmer. The warm water puts the reef under much stress causing the corals to expel the algae that’s living in its tissues, which causes the coral to turn white. After bleaching, the coral reefs begin to die. When the reefs die, the animals lose their home. When the animals lose their home, their species begin to die off. For the coast, there is no longer a buffer which means waves will be rougher and storms will hit harder. Sadly, this can lead to the decline of tourists and tourist attractions with those involved losing a lot of money. 

Now that we are aware, here is how we can help:  

Being more sustainable is always great. For example, using long lasting lightbulbs, saving water, anything that can help stop climate change. Other things to consider. If we go diving, don’t tough the reefs, wear reef friendly sunscreen, boat carefully, conserve water, and most importantly, pick up trash. Together we can help save the coral reefs.  

The Great Barrier Reef
Courtesy of The Great Barrier Reef Foundation

How others are helping:  

Tech Crunch has developed a robot that helps reseed old corals with new polyps. This Robot is called Larvalbot, who has a team that controls it at Queensland University of Technology.  

Florida researchers in Tampa’s Florida Aquarium and London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens are working on “Project Coral”. Project Coral is a coral reproduction lab, where their objective is to create coral egg deposits and re-populate the coral reefs in Florida.  

For more information on how you can help the Great Barrier Reef, please visit The Great Barrier Reef Foundation by clicking here!

Editorial: Return of the Sports World

Sports make difficult times a little more bearable 

By Aiden Wacksman

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many aspects of our daily lives, including professional sporting events. When many schools and other institutions shut down across the country in March, sports leagues such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) were soon to follow. On March 11 and 12 respectively, the two groups postponed its ongoing seasons.

Major League Baseball (MLB) also announced on March 12 that it would postpone all Spring Training games and would delay the originally planned opening day of March 26 by two weeks. Two weeks turned into four weeks, and four weeks turned into many more weeks, until the season finally started on July 23. 

Meanwhile, the National Football League (NFL) had time to prepare before its season began. Although the league cancelled all scheduled preseason games, the regular season began as scheduled on Sept. 10.

The NFL, however, has performed poorly regarding coronavirus safety. On Sept. 30, the Tennessee Titans suspended all team activities as three athletes and five staffers tested positive for COVID-19. This resulted in a major schedule change for the team, as its Week 5 game against Buffalo was moved from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13. Only one week later, New England quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for the coronavirus. Like the Titans, New England suspended team activities, and the date of the match against the Kansas City Chiefs changed from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6. The Indianapolis Colts also received positive COVID-19 tests, which were later proven to be false positives. 

The situation in the NFL appears to be very chaotic. A combination of poor management and loosely established rules seem to be putting the safety of players, coaches, and staffers in jeopardy. I place the blame on the man who is responsible for coming up with creative solutions to problems like these: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. It was his responsibility to create a plan that would keep the league safe, and he was unable to do that even with an incredible amount of resources. If I were in his shoes, I would have looked at NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s method of protecting athletes, coaches, and staffers. His plan was brilliant and, more importantly, effective.

I acknowledge that the current situation in the NFL is messy. This incompetence, however, is not consistent among other sporting organizations. Although the continuation of professional sports has been dubbed by many as “too risky”, I would have to disagree. If leagues and organizations can create safe environments, I believe sporting events can continue without risking the health of athletes and fans. The NBA proved this was possible in their restart which took place from July 30 to Oct. 11.

When the NBA restarted the season, it all began in “The Bubble”, which was located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. In this “bubble”, there were simple rules that were put in place. For example, fans were not allowed in the complex, and players’ families were not allowed to enter the complex until the playoffs began. These guests were also required to have quarantined 10 straight days before entering “The Bubble”. To the surprise of many, athletes were allowed to leave “The Bubble”. If they did so, however, they would be subjected to a 10-day quarantine and deep nasal COVID-19 testing. The only exceptions to this rule were athletes who filed an excused absence form, which would need to be approved by the NBA. These athletes were required to quarantine for only four days and were not subjected to deep nasal testing. This proved to be an effective set of rules, as a mere three athletes left “The Bubble” without an approved excused absence form.

Throughout the remainder of the NBA season that took place in “The Bubble”, zero athletes tested positive for COVID-19 over a two-and-a-half-month period. This was an impressive feat, and Silver received plenty of praise for his efforts to create a safe environment.

The NBA’s success also had a significant impact on fans. With the return of the NBA came a sense of regularity. Even in these challenging and untraversed times, fans across the world were able to root for their teams, enjoy down-to-the-wire games, and most importantly, have fun. 

Oak Hall Senior Shailey Klein is very excited about the return of sports. “Watching sports is one of my favorite hobbies and I love the passion people feel around following their team,” she said. Klein believes that sports have provided a sense of normalcy during these untraversed times. Her only complaint, however, regarded the occasional inconsistency of COVID-19 regulations. “For example, women’s college volleyball players are forced to wear masks during competition while athletes at the same schools are playing other sports without masks,” Klein noted. Nevertheless, she is glad about the continuation of sports.  “I’m overjoyed that sports are happening and am so grateful for [its return],” she stated.

World History and Economics Teacher Charles Wharton also believes that sports are providing a sense of comfort. “Being able to cheer and follow sports has provided some simple joy, and right now, that is very valuable,” he said. Wharton has been keeping a close eye on the Tampa Bay Rays, and he hopes they can win the World Series.

At the end of the day, I believe sports are now more important than ever. In times of uncertainty, we need something that can bring us together and provide a sense of peace; sporting events can do just that.

“The Hall Hub” Returns

Join Kylee and Jen as they bring back “The Hall Hub”, a podcast featured on The Talon. This week, they discuss how the pandemic is effecting Halloween, and the decision to have athletic stadiums filled to capacity.

A few notes regarding this podcast, as it was recorded two weeks ago:

  • The Lower School is not having a parade this year. Instead, the students will trick-or-treat around the Lower School.
  • It is important to wear a clean mask every day…and definitely wash it more than every two weeks (ahem…Jen!).
  • The President of the University of Florida said “no” to implementing full capacity at the Swamp, not the President of the United States.

Just Because: College Football Predictions

Junior Aiden Wacksman loves sports, especially college football. This week, he tries his hand at predicting the final scores of the top 25 teams. It will be interesting to see how many of his guesses are correct! Read on for insight on the top 25 teams in the nation:

1 Clemson (4-0) vs. Syracuse (1-4): I believe this pick is quite clear. Syracuse has struggled to run an efficient offense all season, and the defense is allowing more than 30 points per game to opposing offenses. The Orange make its way into Saturday’s game following a 38-24 loss to Liberty University. Clemson, meanwhile, is thriving this season. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is a top Heisman trophy contender, and Travis Etienne is arguably one of the best running backs in the country. The Tigers won its game against Georgia Tech in a dominant fashion, the final score being 73-7. I believe Clemson will also win this one by a country mile: Clemson 45, Syracuse 17

2 Alabama (4-0) vs. Tennessee (2-2): Tennessee is coming off a very rough stretch. After starting the season 2-0, the Vols have lost two games in a row. After a 44-21 loss to fourth-ranked Georgia, Tennessee had a chance at redemption in a match against Kentucky. However, it ended in a loss by a brutal score of 34-7. Quarterback Jarret Guarantano has been inconsistent, and the Vols’ defense leaves much to be desired. Alabama, on the other hand, is thriving. The offense has plenty of weapons, such as running back Najee Harris, wide receivers Jalen Waddle and Devonta Smith, and most importantly, star quarterback Mac Jones. The defense also proved to be strong when fourth-ranked Georgia got shut out in the second half of a 41-21 win. I believe Alabama will take the Vols to the woodshed: Alabama 52, Tennessee 20

3 Notre Dame (4-0) vs. Pittsburgh (3-3): The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been on a hot streak. In my opinion, however, this team is a bit overrated in the Associated Press (AP) poll. The Irish have yet to beat a ranked team, and only beat Louisville (1-4) by a score of 12-7. In that game, the Irish only generated 106 passing yards with quarterback Ian Book at the helm. I believe Pittsburgh will fall to Notre Dame, and the losing streak will continue. I expect the score, however, to be a bit closer than the experts predict: Notre Dame 30, Pittsburgh 17

5 Ohio State (0-0) vs. Nebraska (0-0): Big Ten football is back! After a long wait, teams such as Minnesota, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State will take the field for the first time this season. Ohio State returns starters such as defensive end Jonathan Cooper, wide receiver Chris Olave, and most importantly quarterback Justin Fields. He led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff and threw for 3,373 yards and 41 touchdowns in 14 games last season. While Nebraska had a solid recruiting class in the offseason, I don’t believe it will be enough to match up with the Buckeyes’ excellent coaching and talented roster. I’m taking Ohio State to the bank on this one: Ohio State 45, Nebraska 24

6 Oklahoma State (3-0) vs. 17 Iowa State (3-1): In my opinion, this will be one of the best games to watch this weekend. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming off two straight bye weeks, one that was planned and the other due to COVID-19. Running back Chuba Hubbard leads the Oklahoma State offense, as the quarterback situation is currently unknown. Head coach Mike Gundy, however, did tease that he may switch between starting quarterback Spencer Sanders and backup Shane Illingworth during the game. The offense, however, has been underwhelming compared to the defense. The unit has allowed a mere nine points per game to opposing offenses.

The Iowa State Cyclones lost its first game to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in a 31-14 stunner at home. The Cyclones, on the other hand, looked like a completely different team over the past three weeks. The peak of this three-week stretch came when the Cyclones upset the Oklahoma Sooners, who were ranked 18th in the AP Poll at the time. I believe this will be one of the closest games we’ve seen this season, and I can’t wait to watch it unfold: Oklahoma State 24, Iowa State 20

8 Penn State (0-0) vs. Indiana (0-0): In yet another Big Ten matchup, the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Indiana Hoosiers. Penn State returns key starters on offense such as quarterback Sean Clifford and running back Journey Brown. On defense, however, Penn State lost some talented starters as they declared for the NFL Draft. A key returning starter is defensive end Shaka Toney, who was named a team captain on Thursday. Toney had six-and-a-half sacks last season, and he is looking to improve upon that number this season. On the other side, Indiana will be somewhat different offensively, as the Hoosiers’ starting quarterback is redshirt sophomore Michael Penix Jr. It is important to note that this game will mark Penix’s first time playing at the college level. Indiana’s defense is not something to brag about either, as it allowed nearly 25 points per game last season to opposing offenses. Last year, this game was won by Penn State in a 34-27 nail-biter. I believe that the Nittany Lions will harass and confuse Penix, causing an offensive collapse, which will leave the defense soon to follow: Penn State 38, Indiana 17

9 Cincinnati (3-0) vs. 16 Southern Methodist University (5-0): I believe this is the game of the week in college football. It will be a classic showdown between the high-powered offense of Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the stout defense of Cincinnati. SMU’s offense is extremely talented, consisting of explosive playmakers such as quarterback Shane Buechele and wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. Out of Buechele’s 12 touchdown passes so far this season, Roberson Jr. has caught five. The talented wideout also averages nearly 22 yards per reception. It will be the responsibility of the Cincinnati Bearcats’ defense to keep the explosive offense of the SMU Mustangs in check. So far, this unit is playing at a high level. I would argue that the best defensive showing from Cincinnati came in the match against the Army Black Knights on Sept. 26. This win was not easy by any means, as Army’s defense was rock solid. The Black Knights also run an option-style offense, which can be very tricky for the opposition. The Bearcats played elite football, and held Army to a mere 10 points. 

My main concern in this game is Cincinnati’s offense. Starting quarterback Desmond Ridder has proven to be inconsistent at times and had a sloppy performance in the Bearcats’ last match, which was against the University of South Florida (1-4). SMU has the edge in this game due to Ridder’s inconsistency and indecisiveness. I also believe that Cincinnati’s defense will stand strong in the first half but fall apart in the second: SMU 44, Cincinnati 31

11 Miami (Fla.) (4-1) vs. Virginia (1-3): I think this pick is quite obvious. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King is playing at a high level, and the defense looks much better than it did against Clemson two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Virginia has struggled on defense. Over the last three games, Virginia allowed opponents to score an average of nearly 40 points. I believe the Miami Hurricanes will win this game on Saturday night: Miami 48, Virginia 24

12 Brigham Young University (5-0) vs. Texas State (1-5): Once again, I see this as another obvious pick. Brigham Young University (BYU) quarterback Zach Wilson continues to look great this season and has only thrown one interception in five games. He has passed for 1,641 yards and 12 touchdowns thus far. I believe the BYU Cougars will wipe the floor with Texas State: BYU 49, Texas State 17

14 Wisconsin (0-0) vs. Illinois (0-0): A little more than one year ago, the Wisconsin Badgers were stunned by Illinois in an absolutely shocking 24-23 upset. This year, the Badgers want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan returns for his senior year, but their dangerous weapon is gone as running back Jonathan Taylor declared for the NFL draft last year. Now, the Badgers have to find a new rhythm on offense. Illinois will also be looking to find a rhythm on offense, with senior quarterback Brandon Peters leading the way. While Illinois’ defense returns a solid number of starters, the Badgers lack experience on the depth chart. I expect this game to be a close one, but not quite as close as last years’ bout. Due to the comparative amount of talent on the Badgers’ roster, I’ll have to give that team the edge: Wisconsin 27, Illinois 23

14 North Carolina (3-1) vs. 23 North Carolina State (4-1): The North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off a devastating 31-28 loss to Florida State (2-3). At halftime, the Seminoles led 31-7. This large lead, however, was short lived. The Tar Heels scored 21 unanswered points, and trailed 31-28 with a couple of minutes left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Sam Howell was putting together a game-winning drive, until receivers dropped three passes in a row. I believe that North Carolina was ridiculously overrated in the last poll. The Heels have a lot to prove if it has ambitions of making it back in the top 10, let alone the top five. 

The North Carolina State Wolfpack have been trending in the opposite direction, as the team has won three games in a row. I would deem the win against Pittsburgh as the only respectable one. In this Top 25 matchup, I believe the Tar Heels will come out on top as N.C. State’s defense cannot keep up with the pace of Sam Howell’s offense: North Carolina 34, North Carolina State 21

18 Michigan (0-0) vs. 21 Minnesota (0-0): In another Big Ten opener, the Michigan Wolverines play the Minnesota Golden Gophers on a chilly Saturday evening in Minneapolis, Minn. Michigan is starting quarterback Joe Milton for the first time, and he hasn’t taken many snaps. This leaves many question marks for the upcoming game. The Wolverines also lack some depth at wide receiver, as starter Nico Collins opted out of the season, and many seniors graduated and started their careers in the NFL. On the other side of the football, the Gophers are returning starters such as quarterback Tanner Morgan and wide receiver Rashod Bateman. This Minnesota team is looking to improve upon what was a great 2019-20 season. You can find more information on the Golden Gophers’ successes here. While I have many questions about this year’s WolverinesI have far less about the Gophers. Although Minnesota lost wide receiver Tyler Johnson to the draft last year, I believe the team has what it takes to be elite this season. I think this will be a nail-biter, but the Gophers have my vote to win this game: Minnesota 26, Michigan 24

19 Virginia Tech (3-1) vs. Wake Forest (2-2): Both teams enter Saturday’s contest off of double-digit wins. The Virginia Tech Hokies dominated the Boston College Eagles in a 40-14 blowout, while the Wake Forest Demon Deacons beat the Virginia Cavaliers 40-23. The Hokies have experienced troubles with the coronavirus but are doing a great job of handling adversity. I believe Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker’s leadership will lead the Hokies to a second straight win. This game is going to be a bit closer than expected: Virginia Tech 41, Wake Forest 31

20 Kansas State (3-1) vs. Kansas (0-4): The Kansas State Wildcats have won three games in a row, and backup quarterback Will Howard will lead the team for the rest of the season, as starting quarterback Skylar Thompson suffered a season-ending injury against Texas Tech. Although the Wildcats may have a troublesome situation at the quarterback position, I believe the Kansas Jayhawks aren’t a threat to the 20th ranked team in the nation: Kansas State 38, Kansas 10

22 Marshall (4-0) vs. Florida Atlantic University (1-0): While the Marshall Thundering Herd have been bulldozing through the competition, the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls have not played a single football game in nearly two weeks. The first two games were postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak on the team and squeaked by Charlotte 21-17 on Oct. 3. I believe Marshall will continue to make its case as potential non-group of five contenders for a New Years’ Six Bowl: Marshall 31, FAU 14

25 Coastal Carolina (4-0) vs. Georgia Southern University (3-1): The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers beat the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns last Saturday in a thrilling match that ended in a score of 31-28. Ranked for the first time in program history, the Chanticleers look to make a statement against a Georgia Southern University (GSU) team that has won two in a row. While the GSU Eagles’ offense looks strong, the defense appears weak and even clueless at times. This was demonstrated when a receiver went uncovered in a match against Campbell University (0-4). The defense was lucky that the receiver tripped at the 22-yard line, or else he would have walked into the endzone for a game-tying touchdown. At the end of the day, I believe Coastal Carolina will prove its worth. After all, it would be a shame to lose a spot in the Top 25 one week after receiving it: Coastal Carolina 41, GSU 28

Column: Life on Earth

By Elle Storoe and Mia Currie

Environmental Awareness: being aware of the events occurring in the environment. Environmental awareness can help us save the planet. This column on The Talon is designed to help readers become aware of what is going on in the environment and how we can help the Earth.

This week’s topic: Plastic Waste

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (also known as the “Trash Vortex”) is the largest of five offshore garbage accumulation zones in the world. It is a collection of marine debris predominantly made of plastic that drastically damages the oceans. It is constantly increasing in size as most of the waste in not biodegradable. This heap of garbage is estimated to be roughly 1.6 million square kilometers, which is double the size of Texas. It is additionally estimated that the seafloor beneath the patch may also be a trash heap due to the fact that 70 percent of marine debris sinks. Roughly 80 percent of the garbage accumulated stems from land-based activities in North America and Asia. It takes years for the ocean current to push the trash toward the Trash Vortex and during that time, plastic is releasing harmful chemicals into the water. Photo degradation is the main cause of this as harsh exposure to sunlight weakens the structure of plastic.

The marine debris is harming the environment in various ways. The debris is digested by many marine animals and starts a domino effect which disrupts an entire food chain. For example, sea turtles think that plastic bags are jellyfish and suffocate from ingesting them. Albatrosses confuse plastic resin pellets for fish eggs and feed them to their newborn babies, consequently harming them. 

It is important to see how the accumulation of garbage affects our surrounding environment as it is our job to make sure the planet survives. Only we can take a stand and fix the mistakes made in the past that have harmed our environment so badly.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Courtesy of National Geographic

Going along with environmental awareness, we want to reduce our waste. Study shows that more than 300 million tons of plastic are thrown away each year, more than 8 million tons of plastic is going into our oceans, and half of it is single-use plastics. Now that we are aware of how our actions affect the planet with plastic, here is how we can reduce our plastic waste. There are many sustainable swaps we can make to help with even the smallest thing making a significant difference.  

Some examples of sustainable swaps include:

  • Switching out plastic items for bamboo or wood. For example, instead of buying a new plastic toothbrush, we can get a new bamboo one. Instead of using plasticware such as plastic forks and spoons (which are a single-use plastic) we can use metal ones that can be reused repeatedly. 
  • Rather than using plastic water bottles, metal water bottles can be reused and drank from every day. 
  • Using reusable shopping and grocery bags that won’t be discarded once the groceries have been put away. 

There are so many swaps for us to make and just being aware of those swaps can help save our planet. There are so many alternatives to plastic we can use, and every alternative we use is one less piece of plastic that goes into our oceans and onto our planet.