Demon Press Review: Mashle

Another comic is up for Demon Press Review Number Two: this time an action comedy set in a fantasy world. Mashle is something of a Harry Potter parody, focusing on a promising student at a familiar magic high school. Despite being enrolled in a school for sorcery, our protagonist Mash possesses no supernatural powers of his own, instead using raw strength to pass his courses and stand up to his troublesome peers.

The best part of Mashle (written and illustrated by Hajime Komoto) is that it usually doesn’t take itself seriously. Mash, though he is often presented as an underdog due to his lack of magic, is generally not in any real danger of losing a fight. He overcomes each obstacle in a ridiculous display of strength, maintaining a deadpan look on his face all the way. Mash tends not to talk all that much, but when he does, his comments always crack me up. From the school’s bizarre rituals to the fierce rivalry between dormitories, Mash reacts to everything with a detached confusion that I find hilarious. I don’t think this comic has an overly sophisticated sense of humor, but it has a very special charm and succeeds in making me laugh way more often than not. The fact that a lot of the scenes and situations are ripped straight from the Harry Potter series makes them even funnier since the set-up is already familiar. For example, when the students are introduced to flying broomsticks, most of them use magic to summon the broom from the ground into their hand. Mash, in contrast, stomps his foot on the ground so hard the broom flies into the air for him to catch. There are better examples, but I think it’s better to leave them unspoiled. Describing the events in writing won’t do them justice without the wildly exaggerated illustrations that define the comic’s visual comedy.

And even when the humor does fall a little flat now and again, there is no denying the delightfully comfortable and lighthearted atmosphere the comic creates. I feel that Mashle’s apparent flaws make it even better, the cheesy jokes quickly becoming endearing. The art is simple and messy-looking for some interactions, but it’s definitely done that way intentionally; I think it helps convey that these events aren’t to be taken too seriously. When there is a big showdown, the art cleans up to be incredible. All of the magic duels are detailed and easy to follow. Plus, as what seems to be a cross between Harry Potter and wacky superhero comics, Mashle has a certain childish charm that doesn’t take away from the heavier action that appears at some points in the story. The way the school is illustrated, the simple story-line, and the lovable cast culminate in a cozy feeling that makes this comic very special to me. Even when it does explore weightier themes, Mash’s straightforwardness in considering such topics preserves a lasting levity. I mentioned that many of the situations and settings are taken from Harry Potter, but Mashle has its own original flair with unique characters and new concepts. Honestly, I just think it deserves more attention. Even if it doesn’t suit everyone’s sense of humor, I’m sure at least some will enjoy it as much as I do.

All in all, check out Mashle if you want a laugh, especially if you’re looking for a new spin on the “school of magic” genre. If you go into this one looking for something profound, you might be disappointed, but I find its humor hard to beat, and the story has a lot of heart. Mashle has no printed version yet, but it can be found on the Shonen Jump app or website along with countless other similar comics like the popular One-Punch Man. Thank you once again for reading my review!

— Quinley Hammon

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Road Tripping

As Summer comes around the corner, vacations are top of mind for everyone. Who doesn’t love feeling sand in between their toes or accomplishing a long hike on a breezy afternoon? This year’s vacation plans may be a little different because of restricted airfare and unwarranted quarantine orders. Nevertheless, here are a few amazing destinations that only happen to be a couple of hours driving from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

The sandy shoreline of New Jersey awaits tourists each year. Small coastal towns like Stone Harbor or Cape May are the perfect retreat! Besides the beautifully groomed beaches, each town boasts a plethora of activities. You could go dolphin watching, bike downtown, or play some holes of mini-golf—to name a few. Stone Harbor also caters to any taste buds. Breakfast? Playa Bowls right off of 96th street. In the mood for burgers? Try The Watering Hull. Need a cold dessert? Escape the heat with a waffle cone from Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream. The options are endless! While you’re there, be sure to take a look at the small artisan shops. Their pieces make great gifts for family and friends. Overall, Stone Harbor is a popular option for families. The Jersey Shore is only two hours away from Kennett, making it the optimal day trip experience.

Further down the east coast lies the Outer Banks. If you enjoy fresh fish and less populated beaches, then OBX is right for you! Excursions include water sports, pottery classes, and horseback riding on the beach. The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway stretches over 140 miles and connects all nine barrier islands. Its flat terrain is ideal for driving with the windows down and blasting music. Outer Banks beaches are less occupied in the more southern towns of Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. Northern towns Corolla, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head are a little more crowded. Northern towns, however, tend to offer better restaurants. My family takes a trip to the Outer Banks every August, serving as our annual holiday.

But hey, what if you don’t particularly like the beach? Well, the Pocono Mountains are a nature-filled alternative! Try hiking a segment of the Appalachian trail, and spot wildlife such as bald eagles, foxes, snakes, and black bears. Enroll in rock climbing and water rafting classes. Many ski resorts offer summer camps for children, too! This way, parents can enjoy themselves during the day and reconvene with their kids in the evening for dinner. Depending on the forecast, the Poconos has also proven to be a fine place for watching the night sky. I, personally, have witnessed an impressive amount of shooting stars simply by lying on the driveway of our vacation rental. Like the Jersey shore, the Pocono Mountains are only about two hours from Kennett.

This year has brought its set of challenges, and vacations may not be on the table for everyone, understandably. But, if you do have some money set aside, I recommend exploring these wonderful areas. My family enjoys them and I hope you will too!

— Paige Smagala

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Ode to Ears

Oh, Ears! I’m so sorry.

Months and months you have burdened,

And foreseeably, many more.

Balancing glasses, earbuds, earrings

And especially masks.

Restricted, entangled

Redness and sores

From the devastating straps,

That provides security of the face and mind.

Will you ever hug the sides of my head again?

Evolution of the human race.

Monkey creatures,

Protruding flaps of flesh.

What has become of our mechanical sense?

As a society, we have not trusted your wisdom.

Increasingly asking “What?” or perhaps,

“Can you say that again?”

Repetition that gets old after repeating for the third time

Maybe one day you’ll retire.

Evolve into a vestigial organ

Remain dormant like the appendix

But for now ears; let the human race improve our listening skills

And then ears, you won’t feel discomfort anymore.

— Paige Smagala

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The History of Plastic

Plastic: A material made of polymer that can be molded into a shape. 

1863- John Wesley Hyatt invented Celluloid in five years, made from Cellulose, a compound found in wood and straw. This is considered to be the first plastic. However, due to its flammability, it wasn’t the most reliable source.

1907- A chemist by the name of Leo Baekeland created a polymer known as Bakelite, which was a combination of Phenol and Formaldehyde. This polymer was much less flammable and its raw materials were easily accessible.

1920- Polystyrene was soon commercially available, a soft plastic that was used for installation.

1930- Nylon became widely popular as it mimicked silk, but with more strength.

1933- It wouldn’t be until the emergence of Polyethylene that plastic would become used for everything from water bottles to bulletproof vests.

1946- James Hendry built the first injection moulding machine. This made it possible to pour liquid plastic into any shaped mold. Plastic soon became in even higher demand during WWII. Soldier helmets were lined with plastic, water-resistant raincoats were made of vinyl, planes were made of plexiglass, and parachutes were made of nylon.

After the war, companies began to shift their focus to consumer products. Soon enough everything was made of plastic: furniture, clothing, and much more. While plastic is a cheap, easy and convenient source, it also creates detrimental environmental problems. Most plastics are made of non-renewable material and were designed to be used once, but can take centuries to decompose.

In order to save our planet, new types of biodegradable plastics must be invented to replace the old ones.

— Maya Ross

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Demon Press Review: I Am Legend

I Am Legend is a classic 1954 horror novel by Richard Matheson and is widely considered to have been responsible for the birth of the “end of the world” genre as we know it. However, unlike many of its successors, the novel does not focus so much on action, instead diving into the psychology of the main character.

Robert Neville is a middle-aged man, a father and husband, and, tragically, the last man on earth. The rest of humanity has been wiped out by a disease that swept the planet and transformed those infected into vampires—cliche vampires; afraid of garlic, crosses, and the like. We follow our protagonist Neville as he goes about his monotonous daily routine: fortifying his house, scavenging for supplies, and doing his best to research the behaviors and weaknesses of the creatures. The vampires gather outside his home at night, but their intelligence is limited enough that they don’t seem to be any real threat; Neville struggles much more with his grief and loneliness having lost his wife and daughter months ago.

Neville is a very flawed character—which is important to the story. A lot of the book is devoted to exploring his thoughts, and it is these flaws that make his psyche interesting. However, one of the biggest problems I had with the book was that the author sometimes seemed to overshare about Neville, either going on and on about one thing longer than it interested me or sharing things that damaged his likeability. Considering that Neville is the only character present in most of the story, it is hard to enjoy the book if you aren’t rooting for him.

That being said, I Am Legend takes an unusual approach to horror that managed to hold my attention whether or not I was attached to the character. Having spent the last year in quarantine, the use of confinement and isolation as sources of ‘horror’ hits strikingly close to home. Neville’s endeavor throughout the story to research and cure the vampires seems like an impossible task, but his little triumphs every couple of chapters provide an incentive to keep reading. Without going into detail, the book has an unexpected ending that puts everything into a new light. The reveal made me glad I stuck around until the end.

Overall, I Am Legend makes up for its lack of a cast with a captivating plot. I recommend it to anyone interested in horror, and I encourage those who pick it up to get a good eight or nine chapters in before putting it down–it gets much more interesting the more you read.

— Quin Hammon

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Ben Hartranft visits KCSD for #ALLin

As I came into view of the signs of Kennett Middle School, I noticed several people masked up. One—who was wearing an Eagles shirt—cheered first to welcome our arrival. Stepping off the bus into the warm spring day, I assumed the person who cheered was a new teacher at Kennett Middle School. However, as I walked into the stadium, Mr Moore told me, “The speaker’s name is Ben; he’s the one in the Eagles’ shirt.” I assumed he was a person learning how to socialize, but he placed smiles on faces while dancing with anyone he encountered. The music calmed down and then Ben spoke. Despite having autism, he was speaking and socializing like a professional. When I heard about his efforts through his story and saw videos of him on the football fields, my brain exploded. He learned how to achieve almost anything without his disability getting in the way. Having a disabled sister, I can relate with him as he struggles to work his way through the condition he didn’t choose. It’s rough to have a family member with autism; I can tell because I have one. Since it was hard to hear his speech via Microsoft Teams, I will retell his story.

For many—Ben and my sister included—being diagnosed with autism began at a young age when their parents noticed something was off. As toddlers, children should speak 200 words; Ben had 20. Later, he was diagnosed with autism. After working hard over the years, he learned how to speak the words he needed.

By high school, he ended up becoming a social butterfly: Ben treated everyone at his school like they were friends, and his friends accepted him like that. Despite doubt from his parents, he campaigned for Homecoming King and won. Most likely because the other nominees for the title wanted their peers to vote for Ben.

Growing up, he was also doing well in life. He got a job at Dorney Park where he enjoyed making others happy and turning frowns into smiles. So much so that they later named him the Mayor of Dorney Park. He also raised money for autism by being an Autism Ambassador for the Eagles. There, he met several of the most popular Eagles players. Ben wanted to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and after 3 years of asking, he got his chance. (See Ben on The Ellen Show here; his reaction when meeting Ellen is just priceless!)

Of course, not every dream came true for Ben. He talked a lot about most of his success but mentioned a little about his many failures. One of which is how he failed to get the lead role in the school play. Despite those setbacks, that didn’t stop him from trying; he continued to reach for his dreams. That was the key takeaway of his presentation—despite one’s condition, one can achieve great things if they keep on trying.

— Billy Wikol

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Student Equity and Diversity Council

Kennett is an incredibly diverse school, with almost 50% of its students being of Latinx descent. Oftentimes, in previous decades, this diversity would be overlooked, simply regarded as unimportant, or in some cases a problem to be solved. Now, the school is looking to celebrate that wonderful diversity that makes our school such a unique place, even compared to the immediate surrounding schools. Unionville, for example, is 95% white.

Leading this new charge to understand and celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of the school district are the equity and diversity councils. One is made up of Kennett faculty and staff, while the other contains exclusively students. These groups aim to promote social justice causes and understand how we can better foster a diverse and inclusive culture both within the school and the larger community.

The council has been hard at work, even in a year filled with roadblocks. Just the other day, Emma Nace and Grace Opong, members of the council, presented a new idea to the school board. The idea was relatively simple: A new readily-available google form was created so that students could both suggest ideas as to how the school can become more inclusive and report incidents of harassment to the administration. The school board seemed to love the idea, and we can hope that the form will be implemented soon.

Member students have also helped by assisting at course selection meetings. They have answered questions about the rigors of AP and Honors classes, helping to encourage more students to enroll in the challenging but rewarding courses. Diversity in high-level courses is still an issue for Kennett, and this should hopefully be the first step of many to increasing the diversity of students taking these types of classes.

On the community level, students were recently invited by Southern Chester County Regional Police Chief Gerald Simpson to join a community advisory group that would help to better understand the struggles of both police officers and racial minorities within the community, who are often subject to more incidents of police brutality than white people nationwide.

The council is a relatively young endeavor, but they hope to accomplish more once the pandemic has ended and more students will be back in school.

— Martin Heintzelman

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KTV Segment: Mini-THON Challenge – Mr. Brientnall vs. Mr. O’Sullivan Free Throw Competition

Another Mini-thon goal was reached, and that means it’s time for a shootout between Mr. Brientnall and Mr. O’Sullivan. The loser had a bucket of ice water poured on his head! The shootout was played at a three-hole basket, with each hole marked two, three, or four points. Each player was given three shots, and by the end of the game, the score was three points for Mr. O’Sullivan and six for Mr. Brientnall. Mr. O’Sullivan definitely seemed to enjoy that refreshing, ice-cold water!

Check out the video above to see what happened!

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KTV Segment: World News 4/19/21

The world is in standby after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is put on a temporary halt as an investigation takes place on whether the vaccine was the cause of blood clots that killed six women. Many countries, such as Australia, have put a halt to purchasing the vaccine entirely . Vaccination rates still continue to rise, though with almost 200 million people having received a covid vaccination.

For more information, check out the segment above!

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KTV Segment: Ellen’s Game of Taste

Earlier this month, Mrs. Rudisill and Mrs. Lamoreux faced off in Ellen’s game of taste. The two teachers attempted to guess what food they were eating while blindfolded. The foods ranged from salty olives to sweet candies. This challenge was a reward for reaching a fundraising goal for this year’s Mini-thon. Other goals included watching Gavin Maxwell shave his head and taping two of the principals to the cafeteria walls. Students and teachers alike are doing a wonderful job raising money for this worthy cause.

For more information, check out the segment above!

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