All posts by Newspaper Staff

Just Because: March Madness Has Truly Gone Mad

By Ryan McKinney 

The time has come and madness here for us all, bringing many new matchups and many teams awaiting the big dance. The tournament contains 68 teams total including four buy-in games to create a bracket of 64 total teams. 

 Through the first weekend of games nothing has changed as the tournament featured a total of seven upsets in the round of 64, and five upsets in the Round of 32. This is nothing usual though as anything can happen in March. Highlighting the biggest upset this past week comes from the 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU…a school in New Jersey) beating Number 1 seed Purdue in a wire-to-wire game in the first round. FDU coach Tobin Anderson spoke in the locker room after winning their buy-in game saying, “The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.” This revealed the true underdogs confidence and how they can compete with any team in the tournament despite losing in a close game in the second round of the tournament. Other big moments in the tournament so far come from the Ivy League school Princeton as they shocked the world beating Number 2 seed Arizona in the first round, then went on to beat Missouri to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Besides these big upsets, many top ranked teams still remain as the Houston Cougars and Alabama Crimson Tide pose as big threats moving on in this tournament. Furthermore, there are also what I like to call “Dark Horse” teams in which the players are very talented, but the team itself isn’t ranked amongst the best. These teams consist of Miami, Kansas State, Creighton, and UCLA. 

Other big games consisted of Arkansas pulling off the upset against 1 Seed Kansas in the second round propelling them to the Sweet Sixteen. Along with this big win from Arkansas, Miami routed a very talented Indiana team who many thought could get to the Final Four. Miami showed last year that they could make a run and I see it happening again this year as they are led by young star Isaiah Wong. 

The matchups of the teams remaining in the Sweet Sixteen are listed below:

South Region:

March 24
#1 Alabama vs. #5 San Diego State @ 6:30pm 
#6 Creighton vs. #15 Princeton @ 9:00pm 

East Region:

March 23
#9 Florida Atlantic vs. #4 Tennessee @ 9:00pm 
#3 Kansas State vs. #7 Michigan State @ 6:30pm 

Midwest Region:

March 24
#1 Houston vs. #5 Miami @ 7:15pm

#3 Xavier vs. #2 Texas @ 9:45pm

West Region:

March 23
#8 Arkansas vs. #4 UConn @ 7:15pm

#3 Gonzaga vs. #2 UCLA @ 9:45


Although everybody’s bracket is broken, ESPN still offers a challenge to predict the Sweet Sixteen and I’d like to share who I believe is going to win and why. Coming out of the South Region games, I have Alabama cruising past the Aztecs as the Tide are just too efficient on offense; and then Creighton ending the Cinderella run in a close match though against Princeton. Between these two teams, I believe Alabama will barely edge out Creighton to advance to the Final Four. Moving on to the East Region, I have Florida Atlantic (FAU) continuing their hot streak and advancing to the Elite Eight in a matchup against Kansas State. Kansas State will beat Michigan State easily as they just perform at a way faster pace and score too many points for the Spartans to keep up. Anyways, I have Kansas State led by Florida Gator alumni Keyontae Johnson ending the streak of FAU and advancing to the Final Four. Next, is the Midwest Region which contains, in my opinion, the toughest pair of games to predict. Both games have teams that have displayed a series of proficient basketball in the past, and I don’t expect anything to change. I believe Houston will slightly edge out the Canes due to their big size in the paint containing two seven footers in the starting line up. Facing up against Houston in the Elite Eight will be Texas as they’ve been hot since beating Kansas twice by more than 20 points during the end of the regular season. This will be the game of the tournament likely either ending on a buzzer beater or going to overtime, but with my winner comes size so I’m taking the Cougars. Lastly, the games in the West Region have one of my personal favorites to win the tournament in UCLA. I’ve watched this team the past three years and not only do they have athleticism and size, but also tournament experience as this is their third Sweet Sixteen in three years. So, I will be taking UConn in a very close game against Arkansas who just beat Kansas, but then UConn losing to UCLA in the Elite Eight by at least double digits. 

This brings me to my Final Four in which I believe will be some of the greatest college basketball games in a few years. To start off, I have Alabama standing their ground and barely skipping by a tough Kansas State team to advance to the championship. In this next game come my two favorite teams coming into the tournament, where Houston has the advantage because the entire Final Four is hosted in Houston. Nevertheless, I still believe UCLA can outscore the Cougars in their hometown so I’m taking the Tyger Campbell-led Bruins. Finally comes the championship where the two most talented teams sacrifice their season in engaging their last-ditch effort to win the title. Without a doubt, I’m taking the team I’ve been riding with all month long and that’s the UCLA Bruins. This is because of their offensive efficiency as well as their way to play such good defense while still putting up a bunch of points. 

Spanish Students Head To Conferencia

Since November, a select number of students taking Spanish have been practicing for Conferencia, a state-wide competition where students perform a two minute impromptu speech, 10 students act in a play, and six students recite poetry…all in Spanish. With a maximum of 16 students competing, Oak Hall is hosting this year’s competition in Orlando. The competition, which starts on Thursday, March 8, goes into the weekend.

In addition to the aforementioned categories, schools can compete in auxiliary events. These events aren’t factored into the overall score, but do have first, second, and third place standings. Oak Hall students have prepared two songs, one dance, one poster, one physical scrapbook, one digital scrapbook, and a t-shirt design to show off their school, and Spanish, spirit.

    Seniors Sadia Rafa and Sophia Santelices perform the song they are singing in the competition

    Over the past five years, Oak Hall’s Spanish program has won first place twice (2019 and 2020), and third place (2022). The competition in 2021 was cancelled due to COVID. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be able to compete at such a high level against schools larger than Oak Hall. For one final practice, the students hosted a performance at the Upper School Learning Commons on Monday, complete with costumes and perfection. Spanish Teacher Krystal Serrano has complete faith in her students and believes they will do well in the competition. “They’ve worked hard and I’m proud of them,” she said.

    Good luck Eagles!!!

    Senior Spotlight: Julia Gordan

    By Tori Kitchens

    Senior Julia Gordan has been part of the Oak Hall (OHS) community from the very beginning of her schooling experience. Known for her academic prowess, she has excelled in most areas including STEM and Global Affairs. 

    As an AP scholar with many hobbies, Gordan has committed a lot of her spare time to the benefit of others within the school. Her involvement in clubs like Future Medical Professionals Club (FMPC), National Honor Society, and Environmental Club has helped her reach her goal of leaving a positive impact at OHS. Gordan has continued to follow her passions in OHS clubs by stepping into leadership positions in each of these clubs her senior year.

    Wanting to pursue a career in medicine and global health, she has taken the role of president of FMPC. “FMPC introduced me to the concept of using medicine to serve the community – whether it be through blood drives or public health – and redefined my perspective towards STEM,” Gordan acknowledged. “My unending passion and academic success in STEM classes furthered my curiosity for the biological sciences and were key in encouraging me to explore extracurriculars related to STEM.”

    Gordan wanted to further her participation in National Honor Society this year by becoming Vice President. “Alongside wanting [to] organize the annual NHS food drive, I became the NHS Vice President as I wanted to invest myself more into service as a whole and make it a priority in my extracurriculars,” Gordan stated.

    Looking back at her time at OHS, Gordan credits teachers like Mrs. Christine Gutierrez (math) and Ms. Kristin Wilson (science) for further building her love of STEM and helping others alongside her own competitive spirit. “I began to enjoy the challenge and craved advanced classes not just for the competition but for challenge of comprehending college-level material. Gordan will continue this competitive edge as she will be attending the University of Chicago in the fall and will study biological sciences and global health.

    A – Advice you’d give your freshman-self? Enjoy the ride, but always keep working hard.
    B – Best meal? Anything from Brazil.
    C – Teacher’s best words of advice? Just any type of encouragement I heard last year.
    D – Favorite dessert? This dessert called brigadeiro from Brazil.
    E – Most entertaining class? AP Bio last year.
    F – Favorite high school moment? Walks with Christina (Sarantos) in the morning. 
    G – Goals for your senior year? Have fun and get into a good college. 
    H – Hoping to attend which college? MIT or UChicago. (Filmed before committing to UChicago)
    I – Interesting thing you do? Horseback riding. 
    J – Favorite joke? Why’d the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side.
    K – Keys to maintaining homework? Keep an agenda and just do the work.
    L – Least favorite subject? History. 
    M – Music you listen to? Chill pop, Steve Lacy.
    N – Netflix or Hulu? Netflix. 
    O – What sport would you like to try that you haven’t already? Volleyball. 
    P – Preparations for a big test include? Listening to music, zoning out, and WebAssign.
    Q – Question you would ask your future self? How am I helping the world?
    R – Most relaxing part of your day? Playing with my dog when I get home.
    S – What would your senior superlative be? Probably “Most Likely to get a Nobel Peace Prize”.
    T – Favorite TV show? The Office or Modern FamilyModern Family!!
    U – Most underrated pet? Cats. 
    V – Favorite vacation spot? Paris is pretty cool. 
    W – What does it mean to you to be an Eagle? I think it means being supportive and always trying to be the best version of yourself for everyone else. 
    X – How many x-rays have you had? Oh God, probably like 20 at this point. 20. 
    Y – Your impact to younger students? I hope I can just be an inspiration to the younger kids and try and teach them to be nice to other people. 
    Z – What is your zodiac sign? Capricorn.

    Black History Month: How and Why we Celebrate

    By Brody Beaupre

    February 1 marks the first day of Black History Month nationwide. “Negro History Week” was first founded in 1926 by Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, it evolved into Black History Month. This month was officially christened by President Gerald Ford in 1976. By celebrating this month, it has helped bring forth awareness to all the inequalities and discrimination Black people faced and continue to face in life and in history. Black History Month was put in place to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” Ford noted. The presidents have also given every Black History Month a theme. This year’s theme is “Black Resistance” because “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings,” according to the ASALH. These themes help us to make sure we know what we celebrate and why we celebrate it. 

    How Oak Hall is celebrating Black History Month

    Oak Hall is so thankful to have guest speaker Clint Clarke speak to the Upper School students on Feb. 2. about his personal life and his work at Walt Disney World. Clarke is the Senior Audio System Designer, Legacy Award Winner, and does Disney Live Entertainment. He has done so much work for Walt Disney World (Orlando), Disneyland Paris (France), The Disney Cruise Lines, and Shanghai Disney (China). He also has done lots of work for the Florida Gators both when he was a student and now with his company, Triple C Productions. Outside of all his amazing work in the audio world, he is also an all around great guy. He is always doing what he can to help others and is a bright spot in so many people’s lives (mine included). I am so excited for him to share his personal experiences and his insight/information on Black History Month. (Also shout out to Ms. Spencer and the Black Student Union for making this happen).

    OHS Winter Sports Preview Season

    By Tori Kitchens

    As the end of January approaches, the athletes who play winter sports are gearing up for post season play. 

    Girls’ Basketball

    The girls’ basketball program finished their season 14-7 going an impressive 5-0 in district play. “This is definitely one of the better seasons we have had in several years playing basketball,” senior point guard Kate Pickens noted. Pickens admits that there are some games the team should have won, however, the team has done a remarkable job playing as one. “When we play together ‘as a hand and not five fingers,’ as Coach Ringdahl likes to say, there is no telling what we can accomplish.”

    Leading the team in both points and assists, Pickens intends to make the most of her final playoff run. “As long as we put our best foot forward and give it our best shot, I will be more than happy with the results of my last season,” Pickens acknowledged, “but if we have the opportunity to keep winning, I absolutely want to take advantage of it.” 

    The Lady Eagles are going into the post season off a senior night win at home against Eastside 32-27. The team begin their run with a bye and will play the winner of Countryside Christian and Redeemer Christian on Wednesday.

    Boys’ Basketball

    Oak Hall’s boys’ basketball team has had a very successful season. Finishing their regular season with one of the highest win percentages in program history, the team went 14-4 and 6-0 in district play. They have two more regular season games against Lafayette and Dixie County before beginning their post season run next week. “It truly means a lot to play together with my boys in the big moments and I just hope we can build up the chemistry to push us through this post season,” junior guard Ryan McKinney stated.

    The records they broke and the successes they reached in the regular season has given the eagles a first-round bye in the post season. “I truly believe that we can make it far this year as this is the most united and connected team we’ve had in a while,” McKinney affirmed. 

    The team is expected to make a great run this post season. “I’m expecting us to at least make it to the district championship for sure,” McKinney continued, “but if we end up winning, which I think we are capable of, then I believe we can make a solid run at states this year if we compete at our full potential.”

    Girls’ Soccer

    After a difficult regular season, the girls’ soccer team enters the post season with nothing but positivity. “It’s been a challenging season, but we have grown a lot as a team and have persevered through a lot,” senior midfield Zahra Sims described. 

    The Lady Eagles opened their post season on Thursday, defeating St. Francis at Lafayette 4-1. “I think that that was one of the best games that we’ve played,” Sims added. “We had great communication, and it shows how far attitude and effort can go.” 

    The team will travel back to Lafayette on Monday to compete against the Lady Hornets in their home stadium. “I am looking forward to finishing out the season on a good note and leaving OHS soccer with a positive legacy,” Sims stated.

    Boys’ Soccer

    At the start of their season, the boys’ soccer program welcomed OHS faculty member Andy Westfall as their head coach. “While I always want a winning season and want to build a better program, my daily goals are more about effective training sessions,” Coach Westfall noted. The eagles’ training strong practices paid off as the team started off 6-0 and finished their regular season 9-4. 

    The boys will start their playoff run Tuesday against Lafayette. The eagles played the Hornets twice during the regular season and game up just short both times. Regardless, the team intends to make a significant showing this post season. “I think we are in a good place on all accounts, and I am proud of the effort the players have put in so far to put us in a good position to make it through District play,” Coach Westfall contended.

    Traditional Competitive Cheerleading

    For the first time in its 5-year history, the Competitive Cheerleading squad is competing in the Extra Large Non-Tumbling division. With 22 girls on the floor, most being rookies, the team has had to work even harder to fine tune and perfect their routine. 

    The eagles made an impressive showing at their regional competition at West Nassau in Callahan on January 14. The team received their highest raw score ever and qualified for the state semi-finals. “It’s been a challenging season because we are putting a harder routine on the floor than we have ever attempted before and over half of our team has never cheered competitively before,” head Coach Kelley Thorp admitted, “so there has been a big learning curve to overcome.”

    Going into state competition, the team hopes to hit a zero-deduction routine in order to take a spot in the final round. 

    Gameday Competitive Cheerleading

    Not only are the members of the cheer program preparing for state competition, but they are also working hard to prepare for Nationals! 

    With a smaller squad of 15, the team has been very successful. At their Universal Cheer Association (UCA) regional competition in the beginning of December, the eagles shocked everyone by placing second with a very high score at their first ever Gameday-styled competition. “It’s been a fun and rewarding season,” head coach Kelley Thorp recounted. “With a small team made up [of] predominately veteran cheerleaders, it has been fun to put together a routine in a genre of cheer we have never done before.” 

    The team will travel to Orlando next Thursday to compete at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.