Order of the Patriot inducts new members

From left: Order of the Patriot co-faculty advisor Tamara Babulski, principal Amy Dellinger, and new members Terhass Yosief, Grace Craft, Danielle Castelucci, and Jesse Parker. Not pictured are new member Dianne Spence and co-faculty advisor Emily Williams

At a ceremony Wednesday, October 24, five student and honorary members were inducted into the Order of the Patriot at Independence High School.

The Order of the Patriot is an honor organization that recognizes individuals that have excelled in leadership, service, and character, founded by Independence’s first principal Samuel Haywood in 1966.

The new student inductees are Terhass Yosief, Grace Craft, and Danielle Castelucci; honorary inductees are Jesse Parker and Dianne Spence.

The program included an opening and explanation by current Order of the Patriot members Ivan Blair and Kathia Toledo, presentation of the new inductees, and closing statements by principal Amy Dellinger.

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Independence students compete to feed the hungry

This fall, the Academy of International Studies at Independence High School is competing to feed the hungry.

The competition is the Student Hunger Drive of the Carolinas, a competition among more than 20 schools to donate food to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

This is Independence’s first year competing in the hunger drive, which started in 2010 with 12 schools, but has since grown, serving Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Lancaster, and surrounding counties.

Syndie Fleener is director of AIS at Independence, a school within a school that focuses on global education, a part of that being community service and this year, the hunger drive.

“This whole hunger drive is so fantastic,” Fleener said. “To see these teenagers get so involved in this.”

The school that donates the most will receive $2,500, and the runner-up $1,000. Other awards are given for most improved and student MVP, and each school that donates 5,000 pounds is given a $200 cash prize.

To date, the competition has donated 150,000 pounds of food in its two-year history, and last year, Ardrey Kell won the competition, donating 18,000 pounds. The competition kicked off with a talent show at Second Harvest, with hundreds of students attending and watching the other schools perform.

“It was fantastic to see hundreds of kids at the Second Harvest Food Bank—teenagers you know, really caring about the community,” Fleener said.

The competition lasts until November 14, when all the food will be weighed, and the winners announced. To date, Fleener says Independence hasn’t weighed their donations, but they’ve got 10 boxes of food, and the barrels that they use for donating are already full again.

“The kids have been wonderful,” Fleener said. “They’ve gone out into their communities and asked for donations—we have gotten so many donations. So far, it’s been really a big success.”

To donate, bring food to Independence High School anytime, preferably canned goods, or send the food in with a student.

To stay up to date on the hunger drive, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hungerdrivecarolina.

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Barnes acts as ‘home wrecker’ during Homecoming game

Isiah Robinson returns the opening kickoff.

Friday nights’ game between Independence and the host South Meck Sabres took a while to get action going on either side of the ball. Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter. It was not seconds into the second quarter when, Patriots QB Jason Connella connected with his favorite wide out, Dequan Barnes for an 18 yard touchdown catch. Indy went up first, seven to zero at 11:09 left in the second quarter. About three minutes later, Connella kept the ball and ran it 16 yards for the second score of the night for Indy. The extra point was good, and the Patriots were up 14-0 with 8:08 minutes left in the first half.

Defense makes big plays

Senior Jack Tocho made some big plays in the next possession of the ball by South. Tocho made an open field tackle that prevented the Sabres from scoring and also intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop South as they marched down the field into Indy territory.

Getting looks

Barnes would get one more look from Conella before the end of the half. This time, he caught a five yard TD pass with 19 seconds to go before the half. The extra point was no good but Indy led 20-0 at halftime. It would take Independence almost five minutes before they were able to score in the third quarter. Connella looked Barnes’ way again and threw him a 65-yard TD pass. The score is: Indy 27, South Meck 0. Almost four minutes later the Connella-Barnes duo connected again, this time with 29-yard TD pass in the third quarter. The Patriot defense had two more big plays during the next two possessions of the ball by South. Defensive back Deion Washington saved an open field TD run by bringing down the Sabre ball carrier, stopping him on the Independence 14 yard line. Senior LB Chris Turpin put an end to the Sabre drive when he intercepted a pass.

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Independence DREAM Team to restore neglected trophies

The bomb shelter at Independence High School, now home to hundreds of Big “I” trophies. PHOTOS BY DEREK LACEY

Each year, Noel Hamrick takes her US History class to see the old bomb shelter at Independence High School, leading them out a side door, through a chain link fence, down concrete stairs, and through a hot boiler room.

But the thing most students take away from the trip is not the impact of Cold War tensions, it’s the hundreds of Big “I” trophies stored on rusted shelves in the dank, flood-prone room.

Dating from 1967, the trophies include academic and athletic achievements, everything from small wooden plaques and certificates to huge three-tiered trophies.

“Wow. That’s probably the best word I could use to describe it,” said Ivan Blair, senior at Independence. “It was devastating, I guess you could say…I didn’t know that we had that many trophies, and I definitely didn’t know that they were all down there.” Continue reading

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Indy teacher sky dives

Long-time Independence High School  chemistry teacher,  Melissa Bliss, did something crazy before Mother’s Day—she went sky diving.  She made a trip down to Skydive Carolina in Chester, South Carolina, where she met up with her tandem partner, the man who would be latched onto her when she made her big leap towards the ground.
There are a couple of procedures, including picking a flight suit, watching an informational video and doing a series of exercises before jumping.
“It was a very quick process before we went up in the air, the instructors made it out to be no big deal, so I wasn’t quite nervous.” Bliss said.
She paid extra for a videographer to go skydiving with her so he could take pictures and even make a video, so she could show her friends and family.
“It made a great, and shocking, Mother’s Day present for my mother,” she said. Continue reading

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Independence students nominated for award

Independence High School’s musical performance of Grease earned them nominations for the Blumey Award, sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts and Wells Fargo.  Musicals participating in the competition were evaluated by a panel of three judges from members of the theatre community in Charlotte.  Independence was nominated for Best Featured Performer, Marissa Plondke as Patty, and Best Choreography Execution.

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