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Pop Culture & Music



Nov. 22nd, 2018 / Thomas Halsey

Are you a fellow Harry Potter fan? Well, you’ll be glad to hear that J.K Rowling recently shared new information revolving around the whimsical franchise. Rowling wrote about a North American wizarding school, equivalent to that of Hogwarts, on Pottermore, a website where the author shares stories, facts, and basically anything orbiting the Harry Potter world.


The new wizarding school is named “Ilvermorny”, and is located on the rocky mountains of Mount. Greylock in Massachusetts. Ilvermorny was founded by Isolt Sayre, a witch who fled her homeland of Ireland due to a dreadful and oppressive aunt, Gormlaith, ancestor to the dark wizard, Voldemort. Isolt made her way to the New World in 1603, where she met James Steward, a no-maj, or non-magical folk, and the pair fell in love. While resting in their quaint cottage in the middle of a forest, the pair found two Native American boys, Chadwick and Webster, who were abandoned in the woods with only a towel wrapped around them. The boys’ Native American heritage would heavily influence the different houses at Ilvermorny.  Throughout their young lives, the boys heard magical (no pun intended) stories about Hogwarts, and dreamt of attending such a fine institution, something they were unable to do because of Gormlaith. When Chadwick turned eleven, which was the age of acceptance at Hogwarts, he begged his mother to construct a wand for him. Not knowing how or where to make a wand, Isolt traveled to a nearby stream and encountered a horned serpent, a gigantic snake with a glowy jewel in the middle of its forehead that had mind-reading powers. This comes from Native American folklore. With the consent of the serpent, Isolt cut off one of its horns, which her husband James, a carpenter, would later help construct into a wand. Isolt taught her boys magic in their cottage, and through the grapevine, other wizarding families in the New World soon found out what was happening behind the cottage walls.


Soon, the quaint, cozy cottage was constructed into a large castle, where students from all over North America would be granted acceptance into. The new school became so large that the four founders, Isolt, James, Chadwick, and Webster, created four houses in order to create house competitions. The founders named their house based on their favorite magical creatures, which resembles Hogwarts’ four houses. Isolt chose the Horned Serpent, which favors scholars. James chose the Pukwudgie, which favors healers. Chadwick chose the Thunderbird, which favors adventurers.  Webster chose the Wampus cat, which favores warriors. All of these creatures come from Native American culture, which pays tribute to their traditions and folklore.


When newly-accepted students make their way to Ilvermorny, they are sorted into their houses in the middle of a large circular room where other students watch from a wooden balcony above. Four wooden statues of the houses creatures will tell the students which house they will be sorted into. If the Horned Serpent wants a student, the jewel in its forehead will glow. If the Pukwudgie wants someone, the creature will raise its bow and arrow. If the Thunderbird wants a student, it will flap its gigantic wings, and if the Wampus wants someone, it will let out a mighty roar. The students of Ilvermorny wear blue and cranberry colored robes, due to Isolt being sorted into Ravenclaw house at Hogwarts, and James’ love for cranberry pie. Ilvermorny has the same classes as Hogwarts, which include Potions, Transfiguration, Defense of the Dark Arts, and many more.


You can read more about this imaginative school on the Pottermore website. I hope you find it just as interesting as I do!

New Artists to watch!

April 25th, 2018 / Thomas Halsey


Maren Morris:

Maren Morris is a new up and coming singer/songwriter from Arlington, Texas. Morris started songwriting when she was just eight years old, and has been touring the United States for a decade, singing at festivals and small pubs. When rejected from both American Idol and The Voice, she was about to give up on her dream of becoming a professional performer, until she wrote her smash hit “My Church.”  She wrote this song in just 45 minutes in her small studio apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, and dropped it on Spotify. The song amassed more than 2 million hits in just one day. This gave her exposure to the country music world, and her life blew up. She then went on to release her first studio album titled, “Hero” on June 3, 2017. Some songs you should definitely check out are “Second Wind,” “Just Another Thing,” “Sugar,”  and “80s Mercedes.” Due to the great reviews and the overwhelming success of this album, Maren Morris went on to be the opening act of Sam Hunt’s tour in 2017, which appeared in over 30 cities including Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and even Virginia Beach! At the 2017 Grammys, she was nominated for 4 awards including Best New Artist, Best Country Album, Best Country Song, and took home the statue for Best Country Solo Performance for “My Church.”  Morris later sang in Zedd’s 2018 dance/electronic song, “The Middle,” which is currently number six on iTunes’ top 100 songs. Morris is definitely the next big thing in country music, so make sure to give a listen to her songs!



Maggie Rogers:

Just a year ago, Maggie Rogers was a student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, with the dream of becoming a professional singer.  After her first year of school, she made the journey all the way to Alaska to start writing music again while escaping the outside world to get away from her intense course load at school. While wandering through the last frontier, Rogers wrote “Alaska”, a song about how to make the thought of a lover disappear from a person's memory by hiking through dreary terrain.  When she arrived back at NYU for her second year, Pharrell Williams made a visit to her class. The teacher brought in Williams in to give feedback to the novices pieces of work. However, when he heard Rogers “Alaska,” he was awestruck. She was the only student who didn’t receive any feedback from the Grammy winner. Williams fell in love with the folk/pop song, and offered to give Rogers guidance through her bright and promising career. From there, she performed on Jimmy Fallon, and has been putting an album into works. Some songs she has released include “On + Off,” “Dog Years,” and “Split Stones.” The album is suspected to drop sometime in late 2018. Don’t miss out on the new artist to watch in the pop world. You don’t want to be the only person who doesn't know who she is!


Xavier Omär:

This young talent broke though the R&B scene during the middle of 2017. Omär is from San Antonio, Texas and started dabbling in music when he was twelve years old. He used to create mix tapes in his house basement, and started performing in local restaurants during the same time. When he told his family that he wanted to pursue music as an actual profession, they were initially shocked. Both of Omär’s parents took part in military services, so they wanted their son to follow in their steps. However, they gave in to his wish because they saw how much it meant to him. He released “The Everlasting Wave” EP in late 2016, which gave him major recognition from audiences around the United States.  In 2017, his tracks “Blind Man” and “Grown Man,” from his EP, captivated more listeners. That was when he decided to go on a country tour, visiting 16 cities, including Sacramento and Oakland. In the same year, he reached 2 million Spotify followers, which shows how popular he has become in just a year. Omär is the next big thing in the R&B/Soul world of music.

MY Top 10 songs of march

March 19th, 2018 / Courtlyn Dranoff

1. The Middle - Zedd, Maren Morris,and Grey



2. Him & I - G-Eazy & Halsey



3. Found/Tonight - Ben Platt & Lin-Manuel Miranda


4. Give Me Something - Calum Scott


5. Dance You Off - Benjamin Ingrosso


6. My Church - Maren Morris


7. Gold - Kiiara


8. FRIENDS - Marshmello & Anne-Marie


9. Wild Love (Acoustic) - James Bay


10. Wolves - Selena Gomez & Marshmello

Pictured: Marshmello, a popular DJ who has produced many current top hits! 

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