Monthly Archives: December 2010

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By: Ali Ciaffone ’12, Staff Writer

For Hugo Vergel Riascos ’11, joining the Rotary Youth Exchange program and traveling to different countries has become a family tradition. Vergel Riascos’ grandpa started the tradition. And before he came to Grosse Pointe, his sister and brother came and had a great experience.

Vergel Riascos wanted to see Grosse Pointe for himself.

Photo courtesy of Hugo Riascos '11. Riascos is staying with the Landuyt family as part of his foreign exchange program.
Photo courtesy of Hugo Riascos '11. Riascos is staying with the Landuyt family as part of his foreign exchange program.

“My sister stayed in Grosse Pointe and later my brother went to exchange here too -with the same family as my sister,” said Vergel Riascos. “They said that it was a very good experience and I thought it was the right time to do it.”

Instead of spending his senior year in his home of Cucuta, Colombia, Vergel Riascos made the trip. Prior to coming to South, Riascos went to Gimnasio Los Almendros.    

Vergel Riascos has been living with the Landuyt family since the start of this school year. Helen and Dr. Dave Landuyt are the parents, and they have two children, Maddie ’11 and Michael, an eighth grader at Pierce. He admits that living in a different country his senior year has been a change, but he is happy to be living with this family.

“It’s different (living with a host family) because it’s people that I don’t know, but they’re a very cool family and I’m very lucky to be in a family like this,” said Vergel Riascos.

Maddie Landuyt is a member of Vergel Riascos’ host family and says she enjoys the new addition to the family. Landuyt says living with Hugo has had the family spending more time together and doing more things together. Vergel Riascos will live with the Landuyt family until the end of first semester, where he will then stay with a family in Grosse Pointe City.

“Living with Hugo is just like having another sibling in the house,” said Landuyt. “It’s fun to have someone close to my age and with the same interests as me.”

“It’s different (living with a host family) because it’s people that I don’t know, but they’re a very cool family and I’m very lucky to be in a family like this,” said Vergel Riascos.

Vergel Riascos says there are some similarities between his home in Cucuta and Grosse Pointe, but there are things from his home that he prefers.

“My city is a big city and safe so you can go out with your friends and there are more things to do,” said Vergel Riascos. “There are not a lot of things to do in Grosse Pointe and you don’t have a lot of freedom.”

There are differences in classes from Grosse Pointe South and Gimnasio Los Almendros. The teaching styles are different as well as the class choices. Besides all of the differences in teaching, Vergel Riascos says his favorite class is Sociology with Mr. Briske.

“It’s easier because in Colombia we can’t choose, we have to take all the elementary classes, and it’s harder the way that our teachers teach,” said Vergel Riascos. “We work a lot in the school, but we don’t have a lot of homework.”

People in Grosse Pointe behave differently than those from Cucuta, too. The differences are pretty obvious, he said.

“People in Colombia want to meet new people and have fun with them,” said Vergel Riascos. “When I think about exchange students in Cucuta, I just want them to have a nice experience and when they go home they can say that Colombian people are very nice. Here, it’s not like that, but there are some people that are very nice who really want to know me and take me to do things.”

Aside from the cultural differences, Vergel Riascos seems to fit in well, Sydney Burke ’11, said. They met when they were standing next to each other in the bleachers at the Homecoming game and started talking.

“He’s just as down to earth as any other person I know,” said Burke. “It’s pretty cool (being friends with someone from a foreign country, like Colombia), I really like talking to him and hanging out with him.”

Spending time in America has opened Vergel Riascos up to many new ideas and concepts, said Maddie Landuyt. She enjoys seeing his reaction to American customs and everyday things.

“I think one of the most interesting things about living with an exchange student is seeing their reaction to American customs and differences in life,” said Landuyt. “Things such as seeing snow or taking home food from a restaurant are new experiences for him.”

The Landuyt family heard about the idea of hosting an exchange student from their neighbors. Their family hosted a girl from Poland in 2008 and decided to host another student.

“I think one of the most interesting things about living with an exchange student is seeing their reaction to American customs and differences in life,” said Landuyt.

“Our adjustment was smooth because Hugo is very easy going,” said Helen Landuyt. “He joins right in with our large extended family, speaks good English, and is always smiling and laughing.  He has only been with us since August, but he is very much a part of our family.”    

There is somewhat of a language barrier between Vergel Riascos and the Landuyt family. Spanish is his first language, while English is theirs and no one in the family speaks Spanish.

“Since no one in the family speaks Spanish, we keep a Spanish dictionary handy to help with translating words,” said Helen Landuyt. “We try to make him feel at home by treating him like family, which includes giving him chores, respecting his opinions and perspectives, and learning about his culture. We have cooked Columbian recipes and he has introduced us to plantains, which look like bananas, only you cook them.”

Technology like Facebook helps him stay in touch with his family and friends back in Colombia. But the efforts made still don’t keep Vergel Riascos from missing his friends and his home.

“I miss all; I miss Colombia, my friends, my family, the food, my city,” said Vergel Riascos. “It’s easy to talk to my friends all day because of Facebook and Skype. I’m trying to talk with my mom and dad only Sundays, and I talk with different friends all days.”

New experiences have seemed to benefit Vergel Riascos throughout his stay in Grosse Pointe. There are challenges he has faced while attending South, but he says that making friends hasn’t been too hard because he is not shy.

“It’s hard because you have to go to another country without speaking the language well, without friends and you don’t know anyone,” said Vergel Riascos. “This makes you more mature. Getting to know new people is one of the more important things for me. It’s showing how cool and good place Colombia is, so I’m very happy that I can do this.”

He has gone on a few vacations with the Landuyt family and is learning about American holidays. Vergel Riascos traveled to Chicago with them and attended a Shakira concert, where they met her. This Winter Break the family plans to take a trip to Florida.

“The most interesting impact of an exchange student is seeing America through their eyes and having international policy discussions around the dinner table,” said Helen Landuyt.  We learn just as much in the exchange program as he does.”

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By: David Harris, Page Editor

Finding the funniest YouTube videos of the past year is an almost impossible task. With such a large variety of content uploaded daily, one would have to sit in front of a flickering monitor, wasting away an entire lifespan in order to see but a fraction of the videos created by users. Thus, faced with such a task, I selected videos not only for their humor but for their impact on society (well, at least their impact on view count. Clever, I know). There are plenty of other funny videos on YouTube not included due to profanity, lack of popularity, and so on, but these are ten that are definitely worthy of recognition.

10. Crazy Kobe Fan on News!!!

There really isn’t a more effective way to express one’s love for Kobe Bryant than to offer him a trip to go buy antiques or buy him an orchid. Sadly, this video is fake, but that doesn’t make it any less funny.

9. Sesame Street: Cookie Monster Auditions for Saturday Night Live

What did we do as children before the Disney Channel existed? Oh right, we watched meaningful and educational television shows, such as Sesame Street. As Cookie Monster “auditions” for the opportunity to host Saturday Night Live, it’s tough not to laugh at his corny jokes and incredible cookie-devouring abilities that we spent our childhood adoring.

8. TIK TOK KESHA Pardoy – Glitter Puke

When a parody to a song has more views than the music video to the song being parodied, it’s something special. The  time and care put into producing the video definitely propelled its success along with the hilarious lyrics, of course

7. Flower Warfare – Psychedelic Action Scene

Few YouTubers possess the humor, talent, and video editing prowess that Freddie Wong does. His creativity in video composition is shown once again in this interesting (I suppose that’s what you could call it) action scene. The flowers almost make it seem non-violent. And then, there’s the allusion to a double rainbow at the end, which instantly makes the video that much more awesome.

6. OK Go – This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Version

I didn’t think that the treadmill dance to “Here It Goes Again” would ever be topped. Clearly, I thought wrong. A Rube Goldberg synced to music? Mind blowing indeed.

5. Who You Gonna Call?

Nobody at the New York City Public Library was expecting to be overrun by ghosts, much less ghostbusters. But that’s the magic of ImprovEverywhere. With the ability to crack up an entire library and to stir up no security concerns (watch the ghost walk right past the security guard), their skill in urban improvisation really showed.

4. The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

This video leaps beyond the comprehensible and into the realm of glorious craziness by combining Old Spice, a boat, an oyster, some diamonds, and a horse! Genius! Although watching this video begs the question: what does that guy actually smell like?

3. Annoying Orange Wazzup

“Wazzuuuuuuuuuuuuuup”

What would spur someone to make this video is a mystery even to myself  but sometimes, it is better to just go along with it and have a good laugh. Talking fruit just isn’t normal, though, if you know what I mean.

2. Double Rainbow

What’s cooler than a rainbow? Well, a lot, but a double rainbow is definitely up there. Uploaded in January, the video’s popularity skyrocketed after Jimmy Kimmel linked it in on his Twitter in July. Since then, it has spawned a Microsoft commercial and the famous Double Rainbow song.

1. Bed Intruder Song

Good news: Antoine Dodson has made enough money off of this remix to move his family out of “the hood,” as he calls it. The most viewed video of YouTube outside of major label music videos, this song became so ludicrously popular that it even made it onto the Billboard charts.

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By: Alexis DeBrunner ’12, Staff writer

Eight days and eight nights beginning on Dec. 1 are filled with gifts, lights and family for people of the Jewish faith celebrating Hanukkah.

The traditional holiday of Hanukkah consists of lighting the menorah each night and saying the light blessing along with exchanging gifts, Casey Wizner ’13 said.

“Hanukkah is special to me because I always enjoy the Latkas that are made right before the party and getting to see family that come in from other states is always fun too,” said Wizner.

“Every year my family has a Hanukkah party, we invite relatives have Latkas (potato pancakes unique to Hanukkah), light the Menorah, say the light blessing and then exchange gifts and play dreidal,” Wizner said.

Dreidel is another traditional part of the Hanukkah holiday, Wizner said. The dreidel is a spin top with square faces on each side. On each face Hebrew symbols are painted, such as Gimel and Hay. In the case of the Wizner family, dreidel is played for the prize of chocolate gold coins, depending on which Hebrew symbol the dreidel lands on determines how much of the gold coins the player takes away.

Being together with family and enjoying the traditions that evolved over the years around the holiday is why Wizner chose to join the jewish faith when given the option by her parents, she said.

“Only my dad is Jewish, so my parents let my sister and I choose what religion we wanted to join,” said Wizner. “I chose to become Jewish and have a bat mitzvah, while Taylor (her older sister) chose to become baptized.”

Since their family is divided between religions, Wizner’s family is one of the many Jewish families that celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas.

“We celebrate both holidays but I don’t really have a favorite,” said Wizner. “I  really like both holidays because they’re really different and I can experience two unique cultures. I like that we’re half and half because I get to experience both, and still celebrate Hanukkah which is really special.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau only 2.2 of the U.S. population is of the Jewish faith, and of that number not all of them celebrate Hanukkah.

Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt, according to “Hanukkah, Rekindled” by Howard Jacobson.

To celebrate the recapturing of the temple, the Maccabee’s leader, Judah Meccabee, built an alter and placed a menorah on it. The menorah was to burn throughout the night every night, even though there was only enough oil for the menorah to burn one night. For eight days and eight nights the menorah burned, despite the lack of oil.

“Hanukkah is special to me because I always enjoy the Latkas that are made right before the party and getting to see family that come in from other states is always fun too,” said Wizner.

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By: Jen Ryan ’12, Satff Writer

 

The holiday season isn’t the only thing returning alumni have to look forward to. The annual Grosse Pointe South hockey alumni game is being held on Sunday, December 26 at City ice arena, coordinator Harry Brookes said.

“All past South hockey players are invited,” said Brookes. “The eligibility is you needed to have been on the official varsity hockey team at some point during your high school days.”

Brookes said they maintain a database of alumni and put word of the game out over that. If players aren’t on the alumni list they may hear about the game through friends.

“The turnout for this year is hard to tell as of right now,” said Brookes. “It is usually last minute when everybody decides if they’re coming or not. They usually get 20 to 40 guys in a typical year.”

“The purpose of the game is to reunite former teammates of South hockey who have not seen each other in months or even years due to college, families or jobs,” said Ross Muniga ’11.

Playing for his second year in a row, David Clem ’09, said he’s most excited for the opportunity to skate with his teammates again and is excited to come back next year and the years to follow.

Brookes said the players choose their own teams and try to make it as equal as possible. It’s a pick up game for the players to get back together and have fun.

“Most people who show up are recent graduates from the last few years because they’re coming home from college for the holidays,” said Clem. “It’s most effective (the game) for the first couple years since you’ve graduated.”

Muniga said that as far away as it may seem for him, he does plan on playing in the alumni game in the future.

“Once everyone gets jobs, they spread throughout the country and it’s harder to get everyone together,” said Clem. “The game is a good idea for the younger kids to get back together and have a little fun.”

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By: Marcus Hedenberg and James Shepard both ’11

It seems the video game industry has been more cluster-packed with big-name titles in these past four years than a Christmas party with crazy relatives. With Christmas break finally being here, now is an excellent time for any of you gamers out there to catch up on some of the greatest experiences of the year.  

1. Starcraft II


It took nearly an eternity for Blizzard Entertainment to follow up on one of the most addicting and popular Real-Time-Strategy games of all time. Few believed the title would ever see the light of day, but after more than a decade of patience, fans finally got to return to the intergalactic space warfare between the exiled Human race and the formidable alien Protoss and Zerg forces. The incredible polish and breathtaking detail are both testaments to just how much time and care went into producing this game. Though “Starcraft II” retains much of what fans loved about the first game, the changes and tweaks show that the developers have had time to understand what the strengths and the weaknesses of the series are. Along with a thrilling campaign and an engaging story, “Starcraft II” is easily one of the year’s best gaming experiences.

2. Mass Effect 2

Following Bioware’s massive success with “Mass Effect”, the sequel to the epic Role-Playing Game had some pretty big shoes to fill. With a tense and suspenseful story that picks up soon after the end of the first game, Mass Effect 2 places players back in the shoes of Commander Shepard and provides a truly amazing journey.  Given that there are so many choices thrown at the player throughout the game, there is no doubt that each player’s experience will be his own and for a couple of friends to be able to tell of their vastly different journeys is a marvel in itself.

3. Call of Duty: Black Ops


Just when people thought the “Call of Duty” well would finally run dry, Treyarch broke all records in entertainment history known to mankind with “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Taking the series to a new setting, Treyarch dispelled pessimism from fans with a completely new and refreshing change of pace. An outstanding single player campaign and the long awaited return of Nazi Zombies is enough to put “Black Ops” at the top of many holiday wish lists. Yes, killstreaks are still killstreaks, but it is the little refinements made to the gameplay that add up to a larger sum, guaranteed to offer players long-lasting replay value as they come back for more in the insanely addicting online mode.

4.Battlefield: Bad Company 2


If you like explosions, gunfire, destructibility, and then some more explosions, you definitely like “Bad Company 2″. Battlefield has always capitalized on bigger scale combat and intense as well as strategic battles, and “Bad Company 2″ improves upon this trademark of the franchise with a variety of enormous maps containing destructible environments, a wide assortment of vehicles, and incredible sound effects. The beautiful vistas and designs are a wonderful form of eye candy and help immerse players into the gameplay. While the single player is arguably fairly weak, it is clear that the multiplayer portion of the game is the star and deserves to be recognized as one of the year’s best online gaming experiences.

5. Red Dead Redemption



The Western scene isn’t one that gamers are particularly familiar with and it makes sense that Rockstar Studios would try to take what it learned from the development of its famous “Grand Theft Auto” series and mend it with an entirely new setting to create a unique and fresh experience. One of the most notable similarities “Red Dead Redemption” shares with “Grand Theft Auto” is the open-world aspect that allows players to roam about the levels freely, undertaking whatever missions they seem fit. The entire world is incredibly beautiful and immense and at times may even feel uncomfortably realistic. At every turn, there is always an unpredictable event ready to unfold and the memorable and well thought out characters lend a strong sense of believability to the world, thanks also in large part to the superb voice acting. In short, Redemption succeeded in bringing out a new Western craving in gamers and it will be interesting to see where else this genre could expand to.

6. Super Mario Galaxy 2


It almost feels like Mario’s 29-year history has been slowly building up to this one marvelous adventure. “Super Mario Galaxy 2″ can only be described as an amazing treat to all platforming fanatics. The gameplay mechanics and graphics are top-notch and the game extracts the fundamental elements of the Mario franchise and does something new with it. Although the original “Super Mario Galaxy” already appeared to be perfect, the developers improved on the few things fans complained about, adding a more responsive camera, which helps center the action and frame the gorgeous worlds better then ever before. This is definitely a must-have for all Wii owners.

7. Halo Reach


“Halo” is a franchise that is well known for its staying power and “Reach” certainly proved that it will be a favorite among fans for many more months to come. Being the last Halo game produced by Bungie Studios, the developers brought out the best elements of what has made the franchise so appealing in the first place. Although the single player campaign didn’t take too many risks, it was also the most beautiful one to date in the franchise, featuring superb artificial intelligence and frenetic combat. The multiplayer portion of the game brought back classics from previous installments but surprisingly managed to garner even more interest in its new modes, which serves to prove just how wicked fun the online mode was.

8. God of War III


This was one of the most hotly anticipated Sony releases of the year.  Featuring some of the most stunning visuals in any video game of the year, it can feel like you are playing a movie at times Maintaining the combat system from the first two games with some welcome tweaks, the combat is just as fun to participate in as it is to watch. Gore and brutality is a staple of the franchise and this installment does not disappoint as Kratos mercilessly strikes down his foes. Make no mistake, this game isn’t for the weak of heart. It may only look like another PS3-exclusive to many, but this game is reason enough to buy the whole system.

9. Heavy Rain

It’s no secret that most video games on the market today center around a very simple concept: killing and defeating all opponents to advance to the next level. It’s a traditional formula that’s been followed for quite some time now and developers have never really tried to deviate from it. “Heavy Rain”, on the other hand, transcended all forms of gaming conventions by creating a gritty, highly emotional and mutli-layered thriller set within an interactive film. And yes, while the game does have some fairly ludicrous plot holes, no game has ever featured such a compelling narrative where players feel invested in the characters within the story. The stunning visuals and the overwhelming number of possible endings along with moral dilemmas ensure that you will want to start replaying the game (or the movie) before the credits even start rolling.

10. Rock Band 3


In the midst of a heavy amount of music games being made,  “Rock Band 3″ added much to the already thriving series. “Rock Band 3″ featured a massive new track list and friendlier cooperative play. Adding the feature for players to drop out or enter mid song saved a lot of time by allowing players to forgo returning to the band start-up menu every time, saving everyone a headache. Even better were the additions of two completely new instruments and one update for an already existing instrument.   Even more convenient, all the tracks from your previous games could be imported easily into the game. “Rock Band 3″ is a great addition to any music lover’s collection and the added difficulties keep the game fun and fresh.  It may not be revolutionary in the already crowded music genre, but the improvements make this version worthy of being played