Flan (11th-PG Category Runner Up)

By: Mason Rosado ’23

-Photo credit: Spanish Sabores (website/blog)

The sun had barely peaked over the horizon before the boy was in line. Even at this hour, he loosely estimated thirty bodies ahead of him and more coming to stand behind him every minute. He could not see the sunrise, for the buildings lining the market covered the horizon. Looking up, he saw the trace of a few bright stars valiantly pressing themselves through the violet sky. His gaze fell down to the back of the head in front of him and a tired, thoughtless trance overtook him. He waited and waited; eyes as blank and unmoving as the line he was in. The morning wind pushed his bushy hair to the side and ran through his t-shirt. He blinked and shuffled his feet in their sandals, arousing his first coherent thought of the day: at least it will be dry today. 

As the sky faded into its usual azure, the line started to move. Slowly, the boy shuffled his way to the front. “Siguiente!”

He looked side to side as the market filled; women in loosely fitted shirts with woven baskets hurried from shop to shop and children chased each other through the street. “Siguiente!”

As if charged by the sunrise, the buzz of conversation in the market rose; store owners began to yell out their prices, shoppers cried out in greeting to each other, dogs yapped and whined for scraps. “Siguiente!” 

The boy came face to face with a short man with graying hair in a plain white shirt. He had his hands laid out on a bare wooden table. 

“Uno”. The boy said. 

The man reached down into a cart and pulled out a small, translucent jar containing a dark substance. He set it on the table with an eyebrow raised. 

The boy took a bill out of his cargo pants and slapped it on the table, scooping the jar with the same hand and already turning to leave.   

“Dos mas, chico”. The man said, unimpressed with the bill.

Stupefied by the price increase, the boy hesitated before turning around to plead. The line behind him groaned angrily. 

“No mas”. The boy said, turning his pockets inside out. “Por mi abuela, señor.” 

The man sized him up. 

“Por favor?” The boy added with an inflection. 

The man cocked his chin. “Siguiente!”

The boy wheeled around and started off through the bustling streets. He secured the jar in his shorts and dodged through the crowds of chattering shoppers. Towards the end of the street, he ducked into an alleyway and continued his hurried pace. 

Down the narrow alley, sidestepping trash cans and broken furniture, he noisily splashed through the puddles of dirty water left over from the previous week’s rain. Heading away from the coast, his back to the rising sun, the boy zig-zagged through streets and alleyways as if navigating a maze to which he knew the exact path. 

Finally, without warning, he ducked his way into a bulkhead entrance of one of the many indistinguishable three-story tenant buildings which lined every street. Reaching the door at the bottom of the steps, he banged loudly on the damp, wooden door. As his feet soaked in the same dirty water he experienced in the alleyways, he breathed heavily, his chest heaving his thin t-shirt up and down. The bags under his eyes willed the door to open. He banged on the door again. Someone from within unlocked the door without opening it. The boy pushed it open and stumbled through the doorway into a dimly lit kitchen. 

A cacophony of hushed whispers, clinking pots, and creaky fans greeted him. Two women, one middle-aged, the other significantly younger, flurried around the kitchen. They both shared his tan complexion, dark hair, and green eyes. They talked excitedly in murmurs and whispers, fussing amongst chipped, open cabinets. On the counter next to a dilapidated oven, was a single pan full of sugar. In a bowl next to the pan, there was what looked to be several raw eggs. 

The boy made his way through the clutter of clothes on either side of the doorway towards the counter. He took the jar out of his shorts and set it on the counter with no acknowledgment from the women. He then sat on the table in the middle of the room and folded his arms, hunching his back to observe them. 

The older woman took the jar, holding it up to the single light hanging over the counter, and eyed it. She then took a spoon and carefully measured two scoops of the liquid, pouring them into the bowl. The younger woman began to whisk the bowl, pouring it into the pan after a few minutes. She opened up the oven where a large deep dish, half filled with water, sat. She carefully placed the pan into the dish and closed the oven. 

The older woman left through a side door to an adjacent room while the younger one began to clean up. The boy still waited on the table, his faraway, sleepy trance returning. His eyelids drooped and he faded in and out of a shallow sleep. The closing of cabinets and clinking of cutlery stirred him periodically until a sharp nudge fully aroused him. 

He stretched and yawned as the younger woman opened the door to the adjoining room. She carried with her a small plate with what looked like a slice of cake with melted butter on top. The smell in the kitchen was distinctly different, the warm scent of caramel made his mouth water and stomach growl. He quickly followed the woman into the next room. 

Same as the entrance and kitchen, the room was full of clutter. Clothes and boxes were strewn about the floor. Framed pictures lined the shelves. In the corner next to a high window, someone lay in a bed. The older woman sat on the chair next to the figure and the younger stood holding the plate looking down at the figure in the bed. The boy stood by the latter and the figure stirred at the scent of the plate. 

“Ahh”. Frail hands reached up for the plate. The older woman helped a clearly elderly lady sit up in bed. Rays of sunlight penetrating the blinds on the window reflected off of white hair. The tired lady held the plate up to her nose, breathing as deep as her shallow lungs allowed. 

“Ahh.” She sighed again in her raspy voice. She took a spoon and scooped part of the cake-like pastry into her mouth. 

“Mm-mm-mmm.” A smile tugged her lined face. Sparkling eyes found the boy. She set the plate in her lap and reached a hand out toward him. The boy knelt closer to her. Her warm hand caressed his face. 

“Gracias, hijo”. 

The boy smiled back. 

Flan Recipe

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 cups sugar (for the caramel)

How To Improve Hebron

By: Jillian Applegate ’25

-Photo credit: Boarding School Review

At Hebron Academy, our students are plagued with excessive amounts of work. According to onlinedegrees.sandiego.edu, “Excessive homework is associated with high-stress levels, physical health problems, and lack of balance in children’s lives.” This is because of how much time and energy a large amount of homework takes out of a student’s home life. On weekdays, school starts at 8:30 and ends at 5:00 (including after-school activities because they are a requirement at Hebron). That is 8 hours and 30 minutes of school each day. In comparison, the average amount of school in Maine is about 6 hours and 47 minutes. Adding homework on top of those extra hours doesn’t help the mental health of the students. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, belonging and love are the third most important category of needs. When a student only has roughly an hour and a half to socialize on a weekday, it makes it more difficult to achieve the deep connections that humans need when most of our students, especially when they live so far away from their parents which are often where a child obtains most of their emotional support and security. With all of these in mind, I propose three different solutions. 

First, we can start shifting our curriculum to be more project-based. Even though this would include a lot of changes and planning, this method has been proven to improve the learning of students. According to nwcommons.nwciowa.edu,  “The students who participated in the PBL on the rock unit were much more engaged through the 19 days of instruction, than the students who were taught with a more traditional approach.” Because the students using PBL were more engaged, they likely learned more. We can decrease homework by making each project take about a week to complete as well as having students work on those projects in and out of class instead of just assigning homework. 

Second, we can decrease our school hours. This can help both the problems that I have listed AND a completely different problem, sports trips. Many students have to travel VERY far in order to play against other schools. This leads them to miss many important classes and assignments on top of the homework that they are already given. If we decrease our school days to ending at 2:00 pm or 2:30 pm, students will have more time to do their homework and the students who are participating in sports will miss fewer classes.  

Third, reducing summer reading to two books that the student/s chose at most. This is because according to katiecouric.com, claims that adults ages 18 to 34 read about 13 books a year on average which they likely choose for themselves. If a student gets more than 3 to 4 books over the summer, that would be the average for an adult that (again) likely chose those books. According to scholastic.com, teenagers ages 15 to 17 read about 2 books per summer which give kids enough time to read the books they are given while also having the time to read the books they genuinely enjoy. One may wonder what is bad about having more books, they are good for kids after all. But what if the problem wasn’t just the fact that there are books needed to read, but there are also problems with boundaries. According to charityjob.co.uk, “Separating your work and personal life not only increases efficiency at work, but it also reduces stress in your personal life. Both of these mean more relaxation and less burnout.” This can be applied to school life as well. Their break will be less stressful and they will be ready for the next school year. 

Lastly, you can just do all of them. This way, you can get the best of both worlds. One of the things that I learned this year was that our brains often associate certain spaces, smells, and tastes with certain emotions, memories, etc. When a boarding student at Hebron comes back from their summer vacation, the classroom is associated with schoolwork, getting students in the proper headspace for work which is a good thing. However, when we give students an excessive amount of homework, their dorm rooms become associated with schoolwork, making it harder to wind down and feel comfortable. When we extend that work to their homes, they feel less like they are allowed to take a break. This often feels invasive in a student’s downtime, why even call it “after school“ when you are constantly doing schoolwork? If we as a community give students a healthy amount of downtime at the very least, we can change this school for the better. 

Annotated Bibliography as Required by the Institution for Publication:

Lathan, Joseph “Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students” onlinedegrees.sandiego

This article explains the benefits of homework as well as its flaws. It states that homework can be beneficial because it teaches students important lessons like time management, but too much can cause students an unnecessary amount of stress and can take over a student’s life. I used this article in order to explain why having a small amount of homework is better for students’ home/dorm lives. 

Deitering, Sara “Is Project Based Learning a More Effective Way of Teaching Than Traditional Teaching?” Northwestern College, 2016

This article reinforces my claim that students benefit more from project-based learning. It uses evidence from an experiment to attempt to answer this very question and it showed that it kept the students’ attention span longer when given hands-on activities and/or when told to design or create something. 

“A SUMMER READING AWARENESS GAP FOR PARENTS” Scholastic.com

Unlike the two previous articles, I used this one to merely learn the average amount of books read by teenagers. Keep in mind, the reading level and length of the books aren’t included in the statistics as well as the fact that teenagers 14 and older sometimes have jobs and/or go to summer camps during the summer which may be the reason why 15 to 18-year-olds read significantly less than students 14 and younger. 

Price, David “Why it’s Important to Keep Your Work and Home Life Separate” Charityjob, 3/20/2023 

Even though this article focuses on jobs, it can be extended to school life because of the similarities in workloads to an average office job. It explains that keeping your work and home life as separate as possible is important and people need to be able to set those boundaries. 

Small Talking Chameleon

By: Regina Morales Muriel ’25

Students in Ms. Waterman’s World Literature class read Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and were asked to reimagine the iconic opening lines from their own perspective instead of Gregor Samsa. Here is Regina’s piece!

When Regina woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, she found herself changed in her bed into a chameleon. The last couple of days, Regina didn’t feel herself. Her humor changed quicker than the minutes that passed through the clock. She hadn’t figured out her emotions completely, but deep down she knew why she was reacting in such way. There were two weeks and a half of her life in Hebron Academy and she was not prepared for it. She had done such beautiful friendships, she was not ready to say goodbye; time had already run out, and it felt like she had just arrived to Hebron a few hours ago. Regina wasn’t managing to complete her homework, her projects, exercise, or even spend a good quality time with her friends because she was always in her own world, inside her head, overthinking everything.

Regina had never laughed so much in her life than in the last eight months of her life. She never had so many true friendships. Regina hadn’t gained self confidence before school. Regina never had a boyfriend. Regina never had such a close relationship with her teachers. Regina never lived a white winter or a leafless fall. Regina never lived a blooming spring, or a saddening summer, saying goodbye to friendships that would depart to different countries, different states, and different schools. Hebron Academy had become her home, and soon, she had to say goodbye forever. Regina was very thankful for the best decision she had ever taken in her life, which was choosing that exact year to study abroad in her boarding school, otherwise, she wouldn’t have met the people that would impact her life the most. People taught her to grow self-confidence, and learn to have conversations with people. People taught her to be careless when appropriate, and enjoy and thank for everything that she had experienced there.

When Regina realized she was a normal size chameleon, she was so frightened, she couldn’t stop changing colors. When Isabella, her roommate woke up half an hour later, she screamed. She knew what her roommate was going through, but the last thing she would’ve thought, is for Regina to transform into a chameleon. “How did that happen?” she asked. Isabella and everyone else were able to understand everything Regina said, so communication was not a problem. After the girls told Dr. Tobey what Regina had been feeling lately, and her problem of being turned into a chameleon, she advised the roommates to take Regina to Ms. Willer, the psychologist. Everyone was very confused on how she turned herself into a chameleon, but everyone was looking for answers. When Regina arrived with Ms. Willer, she explained how she felt time was flying faster than ever. How she knew those worthy friendships would soon return home, and their home was not necessarily near her. She wouldn’t have to walk two minutes to another building to meet her friends, she wouldn’t be able to sneak out in the middle of the night to her neighboring friends in Halford without the dorm parents listening. Her time was up, and Regina felt like she had to hide from everyone from time to time, understanding how her life would be without them, which is why her, being a chameleon, made sense. Regina could camouflage wherever she wanted; from walls, to desks, to anything she liked. Regina wished she could have her whole life recorded, so that she could remember every single detail possible. She felt guilty for not remembering everything she lived perfectly. All of these thoughts, were representing the bombshell of colors Regina was changing into. She was feeling lonely, although that was the farthest thing far from the truth.

Carlota was a fan of chameleons, she loved to learn everything about them and so she was called over to help try and figure out what was going on with Regina. Carlota told the psychologist that chameleons are naturally very stressful animals, and there are many potential causes for their stress; in this case, the countdown to leave for home was her weakness.

While Carlota researched for more chameleon facts, JD was trying to calm Regina. He was
telling her that everything would be okay, and things would be back to normal before she knew it. She was having a panic attack! What would happen to her? She hadn’t finished the school
year. Would she be able to finish high-school and start college? Would she be able to go back to Mexico City? Would her family accept her back? Everything was unclear, and there was nothing Regina could do to know what would happen next. She just had to wait, let everything happen in its time.

Isabella, Carlota, Alejandra and JD were trying to do everything to calm Regina down. Nothing worked. Jokes, or anecdotes, pictures nor hugs. Talking did not help, but crying didn’t either. Something Regina loved about her Hebron memories, was that her friends opened her mind to more music. She learned to enjoy it, she learned to want more of it. She found a way to relate songs to memories she lived, so every time she thought of specific songs, a flashback would come to her mind. Regina learned to help express her feelings through music, and she loved it.

Everyone was tired of trying to find a solution for Regina’s problem, because nothing seemed to work. They were so exhausted; Ms. Waterman suggested to take a break and listen to music. They played Regina’s favorite songs, and something unexpected happened. When Regina stopped thinking of everything that bothered her, and just concentrated herself on the lyrics of the song, she transformed back to a human. Everyone was shocked at what they had just witnessed, but Regina turned into a chameleon again. Ms. Willer then came to the conclusion, that when Regina got really strong emotions, she would turn into a small talking chameleon; but they had found the solution: music.

Broken Fingers by Erin McKee (Faculty Category Winner)

By: Erin McKee

Photo credit: The Cookie Rookie Website

When I was young, my nana felt very strongly that my brother’s and my horizons needed to be expanded. Which is not to say that they were not already plenty broad: We had seen Mayan ruins in Mexico, climbed waterfalls and poled rivers in Jamaica, and hiked in the Rockies. Yet somehow, because my parents had no interest in taking me and my brother to see, for example, a revival of “The King and I” when we were eight and six years old (respectively), we were uncultured swine. 

My nana was utterly out of touch with what elementary school students would find engaging, and she dragged us around St. Louis throughout the year to the symphony (we only showed signs of life during the “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” song), Shakespeare in the Park (everyone knows elementary school students go wild for “The Merchant of Venice,” particularly outdoors in the height of a Midwestern summer), and the Muny (what could possibly go wrong with “Cats” performed in 94-degree heat with 90% humidity?). But this was a battle my father, her son, had lost as a child and no longer had the will to fight as an adult. 

So it was that in December of 1999, my nana took us to see “The Nutcracker” at the Fox in St. Louis, Missouri, our hometown. I never had any qualms about visiting the Fox, that strange and surreal haven of a bygone era with its baroque columns and heavy velvet curtains. Trussed up in my Nice Dress, white tights, and black patent leather shoes, I felt like I could be Samantha, my sweet American Girl doll from 1904. My qualms more often had to do with the reason for the visit. I had very little faith in my nana’s ability to choose a play my brother and I would enjoy, and though I was familiar with the general story of “The Nutcracker,” I was certain this show, as I would have said at the time, would also “suck.” Lucky for Nana, the show was a phantasmagorical fireworks display of color, sparkle, light and sound. I wanted to be Clara as she lit the candles on her family’s tree. I wanted to dance with the Sugarplum Fairies. As we walked to the car, my brother swashbuckled each step of the way as though he were a toy soldier. We floated in the door at home on a spun-sugar cloud.

Life at home, however, had descended into flour-coated chaos. 

My mother had a clear idea of what the holidays should look like for her family. Our live Christmas tree barely fit in the house and dripped with more lights than the Vegas Strip, complete with very classy matching glass orb ornaments. Despite not being religious, there was a beautiful nativity scene under the tree. Gorgeous evergreen swag with red velvet bows looped down the banisters. She wrangled her older brother into a dramatic reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” the cousins gathered at his feet for a precious photo opportunity. All the presents were finished with handmade, elaborate bows. Dinner was a massive roast. The silver was polished, the linens came out, and the candles were lit.

And—perhaps most importantly—the cookies were baked.

Not just any cookies, mind. Brandy fruit bars. Coconut macaroons. Cranberry kiss cookies. Chocolate and mint sandwiches. She wouldn’t even entertain the suggestion of chocolate chip cookies or—god forbid—gooey butter cookies (a St. Louis delicacy of mere thousands of calories), just absently clicked her tongue and continued her frantic scrabbling of a multi-page grocery list.

In 1999, my mother had gotten it into her head that her holiday display needed more, specifically more from the motherland, Germany. So she reached out to her side of the family for family cookie recipes.

Oma, her mother, doesn’t cook, much less bake. Oma sent my mother on to Tante Rosi.

Tante Rosi baked more from memory. She was sure her daughter (my mother’s cousin), Monika, probably had something written down somewhere.

Monika had something written down, sure. She read the recipe to my mother over the phone: Nussstängeli, a hazelnut finger cookie, but with the Loris family twist of meringue topping. Exactly the kind of ambitious cookie that would be the crowning achievement of my mother’s multi-tiered cookie display.

So it was that my brother and I returned from our night at the Fox to find the following scene:

Flour, everywhere.

Countertops covered in failed, broken cookies.

Dirty bowls, whisks, spoons.

Sheets and sheets and sheets of parchment paper.

And our mother, tied up in the phone cord, bright red and near tears.

“It keeps falling apart, though!” she wailed into the phone. “Something is missing!” A beat. “No, Mom, I followed the recipe exactly!” Another beat. “I didn’t write it down wrong, Mom.” 

My brother slipped from the room like a shadow. I slid onto a stool to behold the chaos, maybe help, if I could. I propped my chin on my fists and toed off my patent leather shoes. My mother gave me a quick wave as she listened to whatever my oma was saying. We waited.

And then, it was like my mother had found a missing puzzle piece in her pocket. The light clicked on, and the fog cleared.

“But why would she do that?” she asked her mother quietly, her lip wobbling.

Monika, it seemed, had been unwilling to share her mother’s recipe with her unsuspecting younger cousin. So Monika gave my mother a faulty recipe, one with ingredients missing and ratios off. And no matter what my mother did, she could not find the flaw, and no one would tell her.

Once off the phone, having realized the fault was not in her replication of the recipe but in the recipe itself, she began to cry—in sadness, in betrayal, in pain, in anger—and slam the crumbled broken fingers of nussstängeli into the trash can. She rage-cleaned the kitchen, scrubbing it clean of hours of effort and failure. I kept her company, sliding across the linoleum in my white tights to put things away. I pestered her with questions, not understanding how someone could provide a recipe so incorrectly, not realizing that this had been subtle familial sabotage.

We had begun spending less time with the Loris side of the family—the part of the family descended from my oma’s brother, my great uncle—in previous years, in that natural way that clefts begin to form in family trees as the branches expand. But rather than viewing it as a natural process, Monika had taken it personally, and when my mother reached out for help, Moni had taken the opportunity to take a chip out of my mother’s Christmas fantasy.

I think that’s when my mother’s eyes began to clear. Such pretense. Such pageantry. And for who? Not my uncle, who was usually drunk by the time he had to read the classic poem and ended up fiercely annoyed by the request. Not my oma, who was always unimpressed. Not my nana, who brought her own cookies to quietly push my mother’s aside and still insisted that my brother and I could use more culture.

Christmas these days is a small affair. My mom, my dad, my brother. There’s still evergreen swag, the tree is still absurdly huge. But now the ornaments are a crazy mishmash: skating penguins, a silver Buddha, a sexy Vixen, Santa with a Coke, and an elephant in a hot air balloon. The nativity that never matched our beliefs has been replaced by a hilariously complex Christmas village, orchestrated by my father, who each year becomes a city planner/engineer (“See, up on the hill is the school and the lodge, and this is the river that cuts through the village to this little pond, and see, that’s where the kids are ice skating, right by the toy store!”). Last year, instead of a roast, we made green and red enchiladas, much to my mother’s comical horror. (They were fantastic.) Instead of dragging ourselves to pretentious shows, we always watch “A Muppet Christmas Carol,” and we all sing along. 

Once, recently, there were even gooey butter cookies.


Gooey Butter Cookies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
Ingredients:
▢ 1 box yellow cake mix▢ 1/2 c butter softened▢ 1/2 tsp vanilla extract▢ 8 oz cream cheese softened▢ 1 egg▢ powdered sugar
Instructions: 
1. Beat butter, vanilla, egg, and cream cheese until fluffy.
2. Mix in cake mix.
3. Chill for 30 minutes.
4. Roll into balls and dip in a bowl of powdered sugar.
5. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, and sift powdered sugar on top if desired.

Food for Thought by Hannah Chun (9th-10th Grade Category Winner)

By: Hannah Chun ’25

Photo credit: The Spruce Eats Website

Whenever the days are slowly getting colder, you know that something in the air is changing. Whatever you do, it is always different from before. The way you breathe and maybe even the way you act. While everything is slowly coming together and you get used to the winter season my sister and I never hesitate to bake together. We love welcoming new weather outside with food that matches our upcoming mood, and for us, every season is compatible with other kinds of recipes. Since my sister and I do not get to see each other that often, because we are both busy with our own lives, we really never get the chance to share our preferences while making food with one another. In winter, mostly around the middle of December, when everyone around us is in the mood for Christmas, however, it is different. We always take our time from daily life to spend a whole afternoon together and bake anything that fits our frame of mind at that current hour. And somehow we always come to the decision to make cinnamon rolls with each other. Even tho this does not sound special in any way, because it is one of the most common pastries during the Christmas time it was never enough for us. Cinnamon rolls are simple, easy to make, and really delicious. One thing that was important to us was to share our baking with other people to make them be a part of the moment, and sharing has been easy. The first time making them we failed really badly, but because of the fact that we were six and nine years old, we’ve improved a lot. We start making them by preparing the dough, which takes us not that long while exchanging everything new in our lives. We make the best conversations during this time and our connection always becomes stronger, when we reconnect. It is not like we don’t have a strong bonding, but on these specific occasions, it is like we put all our worries and problems and lock them in another room for these few hours sitting together in the kitchen. When it comes to the part where the cinnamon-butter mixture is getting applied to the rolled dough, we always fight for who is allowed to do that, cause it is the most fun part. Most of the time my sister wins, with the reasoning she would not experience this as often anymore because she would move out, which is looking back questionable to say, because we both know this tradition would never happen without her being in the picture. It would just feel wrong. The cinnamon rolls usually take a while to get fully finished, but when they are done they get crowned with a sweet cream cheese sauce on top of it. We normally make a fire in our living room and present our in some way simple pastry, but it is just more than that. Making cinnamon rolls with my sister sounds so normal and usual, but it is our way to appreciate the upcoming time by fitting our food into the temperature. It feels like we are shaping the start of letting go of all mistakes we made this year, by taking such a simple moment and making our path to turning it into a moment of peace. The moment when our family sits together and everyone just enjoys the simplicity of the cinnamon rolls, we realize that again a year has passed. The sweetness takes us back to last year when we did the exact same thing, and we think about everything that has already happened and how we grew as a person. This is the moment we realize how important the simple things in life are. In the end, little moments like this are life, and through our cinnamon rolls tradition, I really got to acknowledge that way more.

Truffle by Cullen Lacey (9th-10th Grade Category Runner Up)

By: Cullen Lacey ’25

Photo credits: The Merchant Baker Website

What family recipe is closest to your heart? For me, it is my grandmother’s truffle. This simple dessert is more than just a treat after dinner. The truffle holds memories that I share with my grandmother. Ever since I could remember, I’ve been helping my grandmother prepare this dessert. We usually have this dish on Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving, my cousins and I play board games while we wait for dinner to be ready. Everyone is in a good mood, we crack jokes and laugh all day. Eventually, my grandmother will yell down to us from the kitchen saying, “Dinner’s ready!” We all run up the stairs, trying to get a spot at the table. Most of the time the seats at the table are taken up by my uncles and the older people in my family. My cousins and I just eat on the couch which works out because we get to watch football on the TV. My grandmother insists that we go for seconds, then thirds, and if you can still finish your plate, “Go make yourself another plate,” my grandmother says. Once we are grossly full of food, the moment everyone has been waiting for is here. My grandmother takes the truffle out of the fridge and brings it out to the table. Of course, my uncles get the first picks of the dessert. Most of the time, there will be enough left for me. If not, my grandmother goes, “Don’t worry hun, I got a second batch comin’ out.” My grandmother is the sweetest lady I’ve ever known. She makes sure everybody else in the room is fed before she even makes her plate and if there is any kind of food shortage, she is more than happy to make more. Every bite of the truffle is heaven. The outside has a chewy crust, but once you get to the inside you’ll get a savory, melted chocolate surprise. My grandmother is getting older now, and she isn’t as independent as she used to be since my aunt now helps her with all the cooking. But thinking back to earlier times when I used to help her prepare it, almost makes time stand still. Back when she used to make the kitchen off-limits to anyone except her favorite grandson, me.

Truffle recipe

Ingredients 

1 box of chocolate cake mix

2 packages of instant chocolate pudding

3 8oz tubs of cool whip

1. Prepare cake batter and follow instructions on baking in 2 8-inch round pans

2. Beat pudding mix with milk and whisk for 2 minutes

3. Once the cakes are cooked slice them in half the long way to give you 4 layers (keep cake crumbs for top of the truffle)

Layers: cake, pudding, cool whip in a truffle bowl. Use cake crumbs for a decorative topping.

Refrigerate until ready to eat

Is Homework Truly Necessary and Beneficial to Students?

By: Belle Beauchesne ’25 

Homework is something almost every student has to deal with on a daily basis. Most teachers say that homework is necessary for students for different reasons such as practicing key skills taught in class, practicing accountability and responsibility, or simply just another grade in the grade book. But as we get older, we seem to have more and more homework each year, which poses the question of how necessary and beneficial it really is. Why should students have to go to school and work all day just to go home and continue to work all night? This is a question that has been debated for years, and we’ve interviewed both students and teachers to get further insight into opinions on the matter of homework. 

I interviewed Mrs. Waterman, the World Literature, Honors American Literature, AP English Language and Composition, and Independent Study: Women in Literature teacher, and found that she is definitely in favor of homework and sees it as a necessity to do well in class, and prepare for college. 

When asked about her general opinion on homework she responded with the following. “I think that homework is important, especially in an English classroom because reading is an individual pursuit and you interact with the text, you embody the characters that you are reading, and you live their experiences. We do that independently and as an individual. I think that assigning reading and then having kids annotate while they’re reading, answer questions while they’re reading, write questions while they’re reading, or draw a picture to interact with the text in some way is really important so that they can then come to class and learn from each other, ask their questions, challenge each other, and have all that material prepared for a really in-depth, sophisticated class discussion, activity, writing assignment, or whatever we do in class with that. It would be so hard for the class to move forward if you weren’t doing that independent leg work on your own the night before. The other reason I really assign a lot of homework and believe in homework is because I tell kids in high school you are in class eight hours a day and you have two hours to do homework at night time, give or take. But in college, which is what we are all preparing you for, it’s really an inverse relationship where you have class for only two hours but you spend about eight hours prepping for that class. The volume of homework that you are going to receive at the institutions where you guys are all hoping to go off to and attend one day just exponentially increases so much so I think if we’re not assigning homework at this level we’re doing you a disservice for what comes down the road.”

After talking to Mrs. Waterman about her thoughts on homework, I asked her if teachers should have a timeline for grading the assignments.

“I always say to my students that I feel that homework is important, so everything you read I read, and everything you take the time to write down, put pen to paper, I will take the time to read, grade, and evaluate, so I spend a huge amount of time doing homework myself. It takes a really long time to provide thoughtful commentary on student work. I’m backpedaling here because I make the same New Year’s resolution to myself every year, I’m going to be better about getting feedback to kids on time and returning their papers to them and their grades to them, so yes I think absolutely there should be a fair amount of time to return the assignments. In my own experience, I’ve taken so long to return a paper to a student that they get it back and they are like ‘what is this,’ ‘I don’t even care about this anymore’ and so all the time that I spent giving that feedback is lost because the kids don’t even remember or care anymore. So I think that yes, timely feedback from teachers on homework is really important. Should the school set limits, I don’t know how effective that would be but I think teachers have their own internal timeline where they are saying ‘oh man I have to get this back to my kids’ and I don’t know a single teacher who hasn’t had that exact thought.”

Next, I decided to interview Mrs. Ragatz, the Honors Chemistry, and Chemistry teacher because I know that she is on the no side of homework being beneficial to students. I interviewed her over email, and here is her response when asked what her opinion is on homework and how necessary it is for students.

“There are several reasons I’m not especially fond of homework. 

  1. Students who already understand the concepts being covered frequently don’t need the homework, so it becomes busywork. Students struggling to understand the concepts in the assignment become discouraged, frustrated, or are practicing mistakes in their problem-solving. For students who need practice, it’s much better for them to have help in the classroom than to practice mistakes outside of school. 
  2. Although it’s not as much of a problem at schools like Hebron Academy, it can be inequitable. Some students don’t have stable home lives and may have to work or take care of family members after school.  In 2016-2017, over 2500 Maine school children were homeless at some point in the school year. This problem has increased with the affordable housing crisis and the pandemic. Homework magnifies the problem of socioeconomic differences that affect access to education. If you are struggling just to survive, doing your chemistry homework isn’t really a big priority, and not doing it negatively affects your grade. 
  3. Students are already over-committed with respect to time. If students take 6 classes and every teacher assigns 30 minutes of homework, that’s 3 additional hours students must spend at the end of the day, after all other time commitments have been met, focusing on school work. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable. 
  4. Most importantly, I’m a scientist. I try to use data to inform my choices in the classroom. With respect to homework, especially for younger students, research shows that it doesn’t do much to improve student achievement or outcomes for their education, except for a handful of studies that show a tiny bump in standardized test scores. It has been shown to have negative effects on mental health and family relationships. I can provide a list of references if it would be helpful.”

So, after seeing two sides of the argument from two different teachers’ perspectives, what do you think? Do you agree with Mrs. Waterman, that interacting with the class outside of it greatly benefits students and prepares them for college, or do you agree with Mrs. Ragatz, that students have enough on their plate and the extra load of homework could cause unnecessary stress, especially when science shows it’s not beneficial?

Round Square trip to the U.K.

By: Cotton Strong ’23

During the last two weeks of September, five Hebron students, accompanied by Mrs. Bonis and Mrs. Gaug, traveled to the United Kingdom to attend the round Square international conference. Round Square is a group of almost two hundred and fifty schools that meet annually to discuss and work for their six “ideals”: internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership, and service. 

The Hebron Academy student delegation participated in a variety of activities throughout the trip. But arguably the most important part of Round Square goes beyond just the designated activities. Besides just working to understand the ideals of the conference, the point of round square is to have students from all over the world meet each other. The Hebron students met many people of many different backgrounds and cultures.  First and foremost, there were a lot of British people in the United Kingdom. We quickly learned that they think our accents are as dumb as we think theirs are. The other English speakers like Australians also had things to say about the way we talk. Everyone was surprised that we don’t call McDonald’s “Mackies” or “Mackers” or sunglasses “sunnies”. Non- Native English speakers like students from Peru and South Africa were shocked to learn that most of the American students only spoke one language since they were all at least bilingual. Students from Peru also brought some food to share, including a caramel-milk thing I can’t remember the name of, but it was very good, I promise. At the end of the day, even though Round Square is about learning to work for a better world, the stuff that takes away is the experience of meeting new people from so many unique cultures, and making new friends, even if you might never see them again. In summary, the real international student conference is the friends we made along the way.