The Trojan Torch

Dyersburg High School's online newspaper


February 2017

What is in your water?

– Deborah Nelson Reporter –

Does your water ever taste strange? There is a possibility that it could be contaminated. Despite all the purification processes that water is put through, some contaminants may still be present. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contaminants in drinking water are allowed at safe levels. Samples are taken and tested for harmful substances such as nitrates, sodium, lead and man-made materials such as bleach. If a sample is shown to be within the range of safety for various contaminants, the source of the sample is deemed clean and drinkable. Dyersburg’s Annual Water Quality Report for 2016 shows that, city-wide, water is safe for consumption.

  “I don’t fear that the school’s water is contaminated because if it were, we would’ve gotten sick by now,” freshman Grace Atwater said.

Tap water can be contaminated by a number of things.

  According to the report, Dyersburg has two water treatment plants, the Roger Hawkins Treatment Plant and the South Main Treatment Plant. Treated water then travels through pipe systems, and eventually into homes and other buildings.

  The main issue is that water is usually contaminated after the treatment process. Because water travels through underground pipes, anything in these pipes could get into the water. Two major contaminants found in pipes are bacteria and lead.

  The most common bacteria found in water is Legionella, which, when ingested, causes Legionnaires’ disease, a rare form of pneumonia. Other bacteria in pipes include Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli, both of which can also cause serious illness.

  Lead is a soft metal that is harmful to humans if allowed into the bloodstream. It was used in pipes because of its durability, but it was later discovered that lead could leach into tap water, and many lead pipes were replaced with those made of other metals. However, many homes still have pipes containing lead.

  There is no way to detect most contaminants in water, but the senses can help. Water that tastes, smells or looks unusual is likely unsafe for drinking. The high school’s water meets the EPA’s purity standards, but residences around Tennessee may not. Water purifiers, filters and boiling may work, but if contamination is suspected, the best thing to do is contact the Dyersburg Water Department.

‘Moonlight’ still shines after Best Picture mistake

– Madelyn Saye Editor 

Sunday, February 26 was the biggest night in Hollywood–the 89th annual Oscars. The Oscars is a night that is filled with actors and actresses, glamorous outfits and the celebration of movie making.

  Jimmy Kimmel was this year’s host, and it was his first time hosting the famous award show. Even though this was his first year, many people are praising his performance and humor that was evident throughout the show. However, there were mixed emotions and feelings about the political jokes and statements that were made throughout the show, but overall the show had a positive reception from audiences.

  “I thought his hosting was okay, but nothing amazing . . .  he made a couple of really funny jokes though,” senior Madison Funderburk said.

  The main and most anticipated awards of the night were Best Leading Actress, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture. This year there was a variety of films and actors and actresses nominated for each award. This winners this year were: Best Leading Actress–Emma Stone, Best Leading Actor–Casey Affleck, Best Supporting Actress–Viola Davis, Best Supporting Actor–Mahershala Ali and Best Picture–’Moonlight.’

  While ‘Moonlight’ was the winner for Best Picture, there was a bit of an awkward incident. After Best Picture presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced the nominations, Beatty seemed a bit confused about what was on the card. He took a few moments to glance to his fellow presenter and the audience, before allowing Dunaway to announce that ‘La La Land’ had won the award.

  In the middle of ‘La La Land’’s cast and crew’s acceptance speeches, the show’s producers realized the mistake. Host Jimmy Kimmel then came on stage to announce to the audience what had happened. Warren Beatty then went on to explain that when he opened the envelope, the card read, “Emma Stone–La La Land” instead of one of the Best Picture nominees.

  “Well the most surprising part of the Oscars was the mix up over who won Best Picture! The announcers were given the wrong envelope and announced that La La Land won when Moonlight was the actual winner. That has never happened before on the Oscars,” Funderburk said.

  Despite the mistake, the cast and crew of ‘La La Land’ graciously left the stage and welcomed the cast and crew of ‘Moonlight’ on stage. This mistake definitely made the 89th annual Oscars one to remember.

While ‘La La Land’ won six of its fourteen nominations. It was tied for the most nominations of all time.
Despite a presenting mistake, ‘Moonlight’ won Best Picture. It won a total of four awards including Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.
On February 26, 2017, the 89th annual Oscar awards were hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Mock Trial wins district competition

– Taylor Welch / Editor 

On Saturday, February 25, the high school’s Mock Trial team participated in the district competition in Clarksville. The team travelled to Clarksville due to the lack of competitors in West Tennessee. Dyersburg is the only high school with a Mock Trial team in Northwest Tennessee; therefore, the team had to travel in order to find competitors.

  The high school competed in two rounds, which qualified them for the final round against Springfield High School.

  The team placed first overall in the district and advanced to the state competition which is to be held on March 17 and 18. Senior Aaron Stapleton received an award for Best Prosecution Lawyer while freshman Wilkes Kirby and senior Tauseef Nadeem earned recognition for their role as prosecution witnesses.

  Team members include seniors Aaron Stapleton, Tauseef Nadeem and Taylor Welch, junior Rebecca Reed, sophomore Abbey Alley and Emma Newbill, and freshmen Salomon Rice, Leah Wagner, Wilkes Kirby and Olivia Keiser.

  The team is coached by Jeff Lay of Jones, Hamilton and Lay and DMS teacher Leslie Lay.

The high school’s Mock Trial team competed at Montgomery County courthouse in Clarksville Saturday. The team placed first in the district.

Photo by Greg Stapleton

The Nintendo Switch

– Tre Ruff Reporter –

The Joy-Con Grips to the Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch logo
The Nintendo Switch gaming system

On January 13, 2017, Nintendo announced the invention of a new console known as the Nintendo Switch. Set to launch on March 3, the Nintendo Switch is both a home and portable console. The Switch comes with different playable modes: Handheld, TV and Tabletop. As usual with new consoles, the Switch will offer new games; however, Nintendo has broken the tradition of only having its games be playable for its systems by allowing third-party games to join in on the fun.

  The Nintendo Switch’s announcement has whet the interests of thousands of people. Its announcement video, released on October 20, 2016, received over 26 million views and over 500,000 likes currently. The Switch is made up of a touchscreen feature, an audio-jack, a stand and multiplicity of other options. A famous feature of the Switch is the Joy-Con Grip.’s early verdict says the Nintendo Switch is, “Innovative and fun, the Switch looks set to make Nintendo cool again.”

  “One controller or two, vertical or sideways, motion controls or buttons…Joy‑Con and Nintendo Switch give you total gameplay flexibility. Games come to life through easy-to-use motion controls and HD rumble—advanced vibration features built into each Joy‑Con. Use the included Joy‑Con grip to combine both Joy‑Con into a traditional-style controller. Depending on the game, you might use a single Joy‑Con in each hand—or even give the second one to a friend.” informed.

  Unlike its older relative, the Wii U, that was priced at $300 for the base edition and $350 for the deluxe edition, the Switch is priced at $100 less than the Wii U.

  Laura Kate Dale of Let’s Play Video Games has been the most reliable reporter when it comes to verifying Switch rumors, and her sources say Switch is launching with a $250 base model and a $300 deluxe bundle that comes with more storage space and an included game.” as said from Ben Gilbert’s article, Nintendo’s new game console is about to be unveiled: Here are the 10 biggest rumors about Switch.

  “I’d give it a try, yeah,” When asked if he would play it, sophomore Byron Cupples said.

  Though there is a mobile use of the Switch, it is more powerful in its home and stable mode, due to the concept of electricity. An explanation would be when playing a game on one’s phone, the battery depreciates faster than it would when not playing the game.

  “Mobile gaming platforms–the original Game Boy straight through to the Nintendo 3DS and your iPhone, too–are limited tremendously by their reliance on batteries.” as said from Gilbert.

  The official Nintendo website has confirmed games that are to be included with the Switch. Games included: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, ARMS, 1-2-Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Snipperclips, FIFA, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Super Bomberman R, Minecraft, NBA 2k18, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, Just Dance 2017 and Has Been Heroes. More games for the Switch are expected to be announced within the upcoming year. In all, the Nintendo Switch has received positive feedback from reviewers of all kinds.

Crowding in the parking lot

– Sara White Reporter 

The parking lots at the school have recently become more crowded because of new drivers.

  Since Christmas break, many sophomores have turned 16 and received their licenses. With new drivers’ licenses come new cars and more need for parking spots.

   Because most of the spots closer to the school are taken, many sophomores with cars park in the baseball parking lot. In the baseball parking lot, multiple spots have a yellow number and a white number. The different numbers are difficult for students to decipher. Because of this, many students do not know their spot which leads to much confusion in the mornings.

   “When I get to school in the mornings, I find myself looking for my parking spot because I am not able to read the numbers, and many people will park in my spot since we can’t see our numbers. I’m already parking very far away from the school so when someone parks in my spot, it makes me have to park even farther away which is very annoying. Something should definitely be done about this mess,” sophomore Maggie McLaurin said.

   McLaurin suggested that the numbers be painted again so that students do not start off their day being annoyed. Even when most people know where to park, students often find themselves still unable to park in their correct place because someone else took their parking spot. When one person confuses the parking spots, it confuses all of those following.

City schools benefit from service programs

Story RobeySection Editor

  The high school offers students the opportunity to participate in service-learning, work-based learning or peer tutoring during the school day. Any student with an elective hour and the ability to drive themselves to and from school may take service or work-based learning.

  Service learning provides volunteer hours for students while work-based gives students the opportunity to get hours at their place of employment during the school day.

Peer tutors do not leave the school, as they assist teachers at the high school with paperwork and other necessary tasks like tutoring students during their classes.

  Nancy Austin and basketball Coach Blaine Mahaffey are the heads of the programs that offer these classes. The work that they put into the programs makes a positive impact both on the community and those students who participate.

  The majority of students in the service-learning program go to one of the city schools to help students with their schoolwork. The HOSTS Program (Helping One Student to Succeed) pairs one service learner or any other volunteer with a student who may be struggling with a certain subject. During HOSTS, students receive one-on-one instruction from volunteers.

  Students and their HOSTS both benefit from this experience. Students are able to advance in their school work, where they may not have been able to without the extra help. Service-learners benefit by learning to have patience with younger children and developing a stronger work ethic.

  “The kids that I worked with made me feel like I was making an impact in their lives. Their excitement when I walked in and the group hug when I left made service learning worth it for me,” senior service-learner Jacob Stewart said.

  Other service learners spend their designated hours at businesses in the area such as the hospital, veterinarians’ offices and law firms. Even for those students without jobs, developing work ethic through volunteer work is necessary to prepare students for life outside of high school.

  Austin and Mahaffey are doing high school students and their future workplaces, as well as the community, a great service through the service-learning, work-based learning and peer tutor programs.

Presidents’ Day

– Emmalynn VanDyke / Reporter –

Many people do not know why Presidents’ Day is celebrated. Is it to honor Washington’s birthday? Is it to honor the combined birthdays of Lincoln and Washington? Is it to honor all United States presidents?

   Presidents’ Day was made a national holiday in 1879. It is celebrated on the third Monday in February. Presidents’ Day was created to honor all United States presidents, but is also noted as President George Washington’s birthday.

 Four presidents were born in February: George Washington’s is the 22, Abraham Lincoln’s is the 12, William Harrison’s is the 9, and Ronald Reagan’s is the 6. The day is usually celebrated in honor of the first two.

 Washington’s birthday is February 22, but it is celebrated on the third Monday of the month, regardless of the date. President Abraham Lincoln also has a birthday in February. Lincoln’s birthday is not a federal holiday, but it is still celebrated with Washington’s.

  In the late 1980’s, it became common for businesses to close on Presidents’ Day. Schools organize activities related to the holiday in the days leading up to it. Presidents’ Day is a day off for federal employees, some business workers and many school students.

  Originally, workers and students enjoyed two holidays in February. People were off for Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, and on February 22 for Washington’s birthday. The days were later merged into one holiday,Presidents’ Day.

  While people enjoy the day off from work, the real reason for celebrating the holiday needs to be remembered.

Presidents Lincoln and Washington are honored on the third Monday in February. 

“Queen Bey” gives performance at Grammys

– Mariah Webb Reporter 

Last night was the 79th annual Grammy Awards. There were many performances, and numerous performers took home multiple awards, but the biggest winner was Beyoncé.

  This was the singer’s first performance since she announced her pregnancy earlier this month, and I was pleasantly surprised.

  To begin, her outfit was amazing. She looked like a sun queen; she was glowing. I know they say that pregnant women have a natural glow, but this was a new level. She was dressed in a glittery gold floor length gown complemented by a crown that resembled the sun.

  Her performance was elaborate and well done. The special effects used towards the beginning of the performance were some of the best I have seen in awhile. She performed “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” from her album Lemonade, which won a Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

  There was also a moment during the performance when she was sitting in a chair on top of a platform, and the chair began to lean onto its back legs. I was holding my breath the entire time. All I could think was, “Is she going to fall?”

  Overall, it was an unforgettable performance from start to finish and the highlight of my night.

  “There might not have been a better way to see the quality level of this year’s performances than via the centerpiece gig from the reigning greatest award-show performer of this decade, Beyonce,” Andrew Unterberger of said.

  There have been many great performances and many amazing performers, but this is one that will stick with me.


Beyonce at the end of her Grammy performance.
Beyonce pictured with her mother, Tina Knowles, and her daughter, Blue Ivy, during the performance as a tribute to motherhood.
Beyonce’s “chair moment” that sparked much conversation.
Beyonce at the end of the night with her two Grammys for “Best Music Video” and “Best Urban Contemporary Album.”

Public schools prepare for rennovations under DeVos

– Abby Rees / Reporter 

Vice President Mike Pence made history when he cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of Cabinet member Betsy DeVos. A broad range of controversy, mainly concentrated in public teachers’ unions, met DeVos’s confirmation for Secretary of Education. In spite of petitions among constituents and filibusters in the Senate, DeVos is now head of the education bureaucracy.

  Of course, light needs to be shed on what DeVos plans to execute in educational policy and how she plans to implement it. Despite where one stands on the polarized political spectrum, her leadership will permeate America’s schools nonetheless.

  As it can be seen in her home state of Michigan, having the most charter schools in the nation, DeVos is an adamant supporter of school choice. In fact, the DeVos family gave more than two million dollars to political action committees lobbying for charter schools.

  Charter schools are independently run public schools granted more flexibility than district school systems that are weighted with regulations and standards. They are held accountable for their “charters,” which promise, in theory, better academic performances while receiving taxpayer money. In other words, charter schools are publicly funded schools independent from state and national standards.

  DeVos is expected to privatize the public school system by shaping policy and creating programs to allow more taxpayer money to fund private school tuition; she will guide public money into private settings.

  One can anticipate the Secretary of Education to encourage and lobby for an increase in charter or private schools. At the same time, though she holds a national office, she will likely devolve responsibility from the national government’s hands to the individual states’ hands.


Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the 11th Secretary of Education on February 7. Though confirmed, President Trump described the hearing process “unfair.” 

Blog at

Up ↑