Puppies and Pizza Relieve Mounting Pressure

Is there anything better than loving on some cute dogs, especially with the stress of midterms right around the corner? Puppies & Pizza was held on Oct. 2, and ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event was sponsored by Student Success Coaches and Counseling Services. There were seven therapy dogs that visited SLU, accompanied by their handlers.

Students converged on the SAB Green to chow down on some pizza and cuddle cute puppies. Tensions have been high lately, with students and staff recovering from Irma and extra work loads due to so many missed days.

“I feel like the dog therapy event is good for students especially during this time in the semester because a lot of people have anxiety and this can help release some of their midterm anxiety,” commented Abbigail Bodden, a Liberal Arts major.

For some students, like Psychology major Amber Smith, the event generated a deeper impact.

“The puppies are really cute. I think it’s great for students to come and release stress. For me, my puppy died earlier this year, so this really brings back fond memories,” said Smith.

The handlers were very welcoming to everyone that passed through the event, allowing their dogs to be loved on by students and faculty. Every therapy dog got their well-deserved pets and compliments, and were graciously excited for each visitor.

Therapy dog, Lou, was dressed to impress. He modeled a green and white business tie, showing off his professionalism. Mary Eversmann, Lou’s handler said, “He’s a therapy dog, which means he is here to make other people happy.”

Lou enjoys his job, and gets to visit many places. He goes to nursing homes, schools, and libraries. However, SLU is one of his favorite places to visit.

“The neat thing about coming here is that he can be himself and everybody that comes up to him wants to see him. Everyone is gentle with him, and are comfortable approaching. They also don’t get upset if he gets too excited,” said Eversmann.

One handler, however; not only wanted to help put smiles of people’s faces with her therapy dog, but also currently advocates for a larger cause.

Gus is a two-year-old American-Pitbull-Terrier mix, and has a strong Pitbull exterior. His handler, Tracey Sanderson, wants to show people that Pitbulls should not be feared, but embraced just like any other breed.

“Well, Pitbulls have a completely bad reputation. It honestly is a lot about how you raise them. We’ve been out there trying to portray them in a different light. This is so people can see what great dogs these guys are,” Sanderson explained, chuckling as Gus chewed on a student’s notebook.

Sanderson is showing people that Pitbulls can do everything any other breed can do; allowing Gus to exert his loving nature through therapy. Sanderson is very passionate about her and Gus’ work stating, “I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution.”

The event overall was a success, and was a brilliant way to allow students to unwind during a stressful part in the school semester. Many students and faculty were able to not only pet gorgeous dogs while eating free pizza, but also have wonderful conversations with their handlers. Pizza and puppies are the perfect combination during any situation.


Fight For Humanity, Glory, and Loot in “Destiny 2”


It has been three years since the release of “Destiny,” now the sequel is here, and it is a stunning game that will keep players hooked for quite some time.

“Destiny 2” remains in a strong first-person gameplay since the original title but improves the overall experience by adding a much longer campaign with an attention-grabbing story. The new game has significantly improved graphics that make it one of the most visually appealing role-playing games on the market. “Destiny 2” also brings back the same cooperative gameplay experience that lets players team up with friends to complete a wide variety of challenges and missions.

The developer, Bungie has done a great job making a game that stays true to the original “Destiny” gameplay but has been able to improve in nearly every area of the massive online title.   “Destiny 2” is a continuation of the first game, but shortly after starting it, the player finds that everything that had been built in the prior campaign is soon destroyed. Starting from scratch will make players feel important, even if they skipped out on the first game.

The campaign offers around 10 hours of play time, and that is without doing side activities and participating in the Crucible player vs. player part of the game. The story puts players in the position of a Guardian, that use a power called the Light to protect earth’s last city from different alien races. The new antagonist, the Red Legion army, invade the Last City and strip the Guardians of their Light. Players will then go on throughout the campaign trying to defeat the Red Legion army and regain their Light to take back the Last City.

When creating a guardian, players can choose between the Hunter, Titan, and Warlock classes, all of which have their own special abilities and play styles. The copious amount of gameplay styles is what helps keep “Destiny 2” entertaining even after the campaign is finished. Being able to create new characters keep players striving to reach the maximum level in each of the classes and experience the game in different ways.

The first person shooter aspect of this game may very well be the best in the business. Movements are smooth, and hit detection with weapons is top-notch. For players that are familiar with the Halo series, the gameplay of “Destiny 2” is similar, but it has certainly improved to the likes of rival competitors like the Call of Duty games.

“Destiny” as a series has been forged to constantly be in an online environment, meaning that players will mostly be matched with others to complete objectives and battle enemies. Bungie has done a flawless job with this cooperative experience, there are never any matchmaking screens, with the automatic addition of adding in other players. Teaming up with friends is just as easy by joining a fireteam with up to 6 players to help one another complete missions and compete in events.

For gamers interested in player vs. player game modes, “Destiny 2’s” Crucible mode lets guardians face off against each other and play in games that give out loot at the end of each match. It is a fun way to get competitive with other players and earn rewards in the process.

What makes “Destiny 2” such a complete game is that over the next couple of years, the developers at Bungie plan to keep adding on to the title with massive expansions that will reshape the current game. The game is backed by one of the largest online communities and will always be coming out with new events to partake in allowing players to collect an increasing amount of loot.

“Destiny 2” is a true blockbuster of a game that will continue to impress players for years to come. All of the best aspects of the first game have been carried over and improved in the sequel. The Destiny series combines the role-playing game experience and smooth gameplay mechanics of a modern first-person shooter.                                                                                 “Destiny 2” is one of the best games to hit the market this year and will not disappoint gamers.                             Game Review Score:                       4.5 out of 5 Paws

NBA Preview: The Finals Won’t Be The Same Tough Times

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The end of one of the most nomadic off-seasons has reached as the NBA has gone into its preseason. This leads to one thing, predictions about where your favorite team’s season will end or if your favorite player will play well enough to collect some hardware (for length reasons, this will only include playoff seeding).

With the Eastern Conference looking subpar compared to the West, will LeBron James have a cakewalk to his eight straight finals appearance? Is Lonzo Ball going to be able to bring the Lakers to the playoffs like his father promised on live television? Is the Western Conference going to have enough All-Star slots for their team?

The Western Conference is the most stacked it has ever been, with the West doubling the East in combined All-Star Game selections (141 to 67). ‘Superteams’ are being assembled to dethrone the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in Oklahoma City and Houston. With the champs keeping the same roster, except for acquiring Nick Young, the rest of the NBA seemed to be in a frenzy. Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets for almost half of Houston’s roster while both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder to team with reigning-MVP Russell Westbrook. The San Antonio Spurs added veteran Rudy Gay to their team as they look to win 50 plus games for a record nineteenth consecutive season and be a force in the postseason. The Minnesota Timberwolves added Jimmy Butler on draft day with a huge trade with the Chicago Bulls to add to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. This is how the Western Conference playoff picture will end up:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. New Orleans Pelicans
  8. Portland Trail Blazers

The Eastern Conference is very top-heavy with 66 percent of the All-Star appearances remaining in the East belonging to either players of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics have practically overhauled their team this offseason returning only four players from last year’s roster, which is the first time in NBA history only 4 players returned after the team made the conference finals the previous year. Their key acquisition was Kyrie Irving from Cleveland after Irving demanded a trade to “become a true point guard”. The Celtics acquired Gordon Hayward by way of free agency and solid role players like Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris as well. The Cleveland Cavaliers have arguably gotten better than last year’s team that lost to Golden State in the finals in five games. The Cavaliers acquired Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, & the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick for Kyrie Irving as well as signing former MVP Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade. The Nets first-round pick is projected to be very valuable and the Cavaliers will be faced with an interesting decision to either keep the pick and draft a player next year or trade the pick to a team for a big-time player, which can shift the entire league. The rest of the conference either stayed put or has gotten worse through the offseason so here is the Eastern Conference playoff picture:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Milwaukee Buck
  6. Miami Heat
  7. Charlotte Hornets

8.Philadelphia 76ers

There are a lot of sports analysts that will differ from some teams chosen on this playoff picture. One popular one is the 76ers making the playoffs after tanking the previous handful of seasons. The tanking will pay off as 76ers are ready to bring playoff basketball back for the first time since 2012. Another team is the Los Angeles Lakers, people need to remember that the team is coming off getting the second pick in the draft last year and playing in a stacked conference, in the East they would easily walk in the playoffs. Rookie Lonzo Ball will have a good season and compete for the eighth seed but nothing more.

The playoffs will lead to the conference matchups of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics in the East and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers will advance to the NBA finals to play the Oklahoma City Thunder after a brutal seven-game series as Russell Westbrook gets the upper hand on Kevin Durant. The Cavaliers will eventually win the NBA title in 5 games with LeBron James becoming the third player in NBA history to win the regular season and finals MVP in the same season multiple times (Larry Bird and Michael Jordan).

Other regular season awards will be Rookie of the Year given to Lakers’ Lonzo Ball as he has Brook Lopez to give the ball to in need of assists as well as some formidable shooters. Sixth Man of the Year will be given to the Rockets’ Eric Gordon, who won the trophy last season as well. Coach of the Year will go to  the Thunder’s Billy Donovan for their success in the regular season.

Athletes Bring the Nation to its Knees

A poll conducted by USA Today found that over two-thirds (68 percent) of responders said that Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire players and for fans to boycott their game was inappropriate. Twenty-seven percent of responders agreed with the President’s response Credit:@theatlantic

In recent months, there has been a growing sentiment among professional athletes to kneel during the national anthem at sporting events. This action has been done for a myriad of reasons and has attained many different opinions from many sides. With attitudes ranging from full-on support to violent condemnation, the anthem and the flag have become another battleground for a nation already viciously divided.

The controversy began in 2016 with Colin Kaepernick, the then-starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, sitting during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner at an NFL game.

Throughout the season, the sitting became kneeling during the anthem after Kaepernick consulted Nate Boyer, another NFL player, and Green Beret military veteran. Kaepernick stated that the kneeling was out of respect for former and acting military members and that it was what Boyer advised Kaepernick to do rather than sitting. Kaepernick also stated that the action was in protest of the recent highly publicized shootings of various African Americans by police officers. The same events that led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement also led to Kaepernick’s kneeling.

During the 2017 season, Kaepernick became a free agent, meaning that he was no longer the starting quarterback for the 49ers. Throughout the season, he remained unemployed, leading many to wonder about the true reason why he was remaining unsigned.

Statistics website FiveThirtyEight concluded that it is “…obvious Kaepernick is being frozen out for his political opinions.” The site used the Total Quarterback Rating, an objective way to rate quarterbacks created by ESPN, to say that Kaepernick is an “above average” quarterback and that no other player with skill similar to him had remained unemployed as long as he had.

This dispelled the belief that Kaepernick was remaining unsigned due to his skill and not his political statements. In March, President Trump took credit for Kaepernick remaining unemployed. Trump stated that no team would sign Kaepernick because they were afraid that he (Trump) would use Twitter and his position to create a “PR crisis.” This led to a very concerning thought that Trump would later expound on: is it right for the President to call for somebody to be unemployed?

Just this past September, after a few months of continued racial tensions and kneeling protests, Trump took to Twitter to say that NFL players who did not stand during the national anthem should be fired or suspended. This led to national outcry and support for the movement, leading to the trending of #TakeAKnee on Twitter. Many players and celebrities from all backgrounds came out of the woodwork to voice their opinions on Trump, the NFL, and the anthem.

Some people cited that the players’ free speech gave them the right to do whatever they like, as it is not illegal to kneel during the anthem. Other people voiced their support for Trump, citing that you do not have a right to free speech when you are at work. However, this is not a matter of the players versus the teams’ coaches and owners. Many coaches and team owners have also recently taken a knee or even stayed in the locker rooms during the playing of the anthem. An example of this is Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who took a knee with his players.

Many people are arguing that Trump is using intimidation and threats in stating that players should be fired for exercising their freedom of speech. There have even been lawsuits filed, with Democratic lawyers citing that Trump is violating 18 U.S. Code § 227, which makes it a federal crime for any government employee to influence or threaten to influence a private company’s employment decisions. If violated, the code has the ability to fine the perpetrator or to sentence them to as many as 15 years in prison.

Even more people on social media and news pundits have pointed out the unfairness of Trump calling athletes who kneel in protest “sons of bitches” while calling the white supremacists who attended the deadly Charlottesville protests “very fine people.”

Athletes from other sports have also expressed their displeasure towards Trump, with Stephan Curry of the Golden State Warriors basketball team denying Trump’s invitation to the White House. After Curry’s denial, Trump tweeted that the invitation was withdrawn, leading to Lebron James noting in a tweet at Trump that there was no invitation to withdraw if Curry had already declined, even calling the President a “bum.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR royalty to many fans of the very conservative-leaning sport, also took the side of the kneeling movement. He tweeted that all Americans are granted rights to peaceful protest, adding a John F. Kennedy quote that reads, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” This tweet came only moments after Trump spoke in support of NASCAR owners stating that any driver who did not stand for the anthem would be fired.

In times of a nation so divided, it is important for people to be able to speak their minds. With athletes, especially major stars like Lebron James and Stephen Curry that have so many children and teenaged fans that look up to them, it would almost be a disservice to the country not to speak their minds and give their fans the bravery to also speak for what they believe in.

If athletes feel so strongly about something that they believe, they should speak about it on their platforms. It would be irresponsible for them not to do so. If free speech and peaceful protest are stifled, then what else is there to do?

Arts in the Park

The inaugural “Arts in the Park” event will be taking place this Saturday, Oct. 7 at Agnes Lamb Park, Dade City. Students will be able to enjoy this new and exciting feature coming to Dade City with both local and Saint Leo talent performing dance, poetry, comedy, and more, a gallery walk featuring artwork, and interactive arts and crafts for the children! Marissa McLargin, the coordinator for Arts in the Park, told us that “Together, Wendell of Magic Space, Friday Night Open Mic, the Dade City Youth Council, and Saint Leo University’s School of Arts and Sciences planned an outdoor event that will feature stage acts and various performances. an arts and a gallery walk highlighting visual arts such as painting and photography.”

Attendees can expect to see performers like political science professor Frank Orlando, the rock band Time Warp, the Saint Leo choral group, the student theater group, and much more.

The event will go on rain or shine and can expect to see many smiling faces. Marissa Went on to talk about the immense support that people like Dean Mary Spoto and the School of Arts and Sciences have given to this event, and the arts in general around not only campus but the community.

McLargin noted that “the goal of Arts is the Park is to provide a time and place for the community to celebrate the arts and showcase local talent.”

Saturday, Oct. 7 is sure to be an enriching and exciting day to showcase all of our community’s talents and passions with art.

Camelot to Woodstock: The Sound of a Decade

Saint Leo University’s Fall Faculty Recital, “Camelot to Woodstock: Music of the 60s,” recalled a time of revolution in culture and music. The event opened at 7:00 p.m. in the Selby Auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 26, with a cover of “Camelot,” written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

This score from the hit musical of the same name was performed by soprano Cynthia Selph, instructor of music and director of Saint Leo Singers; violinist Kasia Dolinska, director of the string ensemble; bassist Mauricio Rodriguez, adjunct professor of music and director of jazz ensemble; and pianist Inna Korotkevitch, piano instructor and staff accompanist.

When asked about their preparation process, Selph explained, “We usually figure out a repertoire during summer and get down to work when we get back in August.”

From there, they practice for about one month to six weeks.

As the School of Arts and Science’s theme for the 2017-2018 academic year is “REVOLUTION: Saint Leo Remembers the 60s,” the recital included an assortment of music genres from the decade with educational facts about their historical context.

Jennifer Orendorf, the administrator of events and special programs at Saint Leo University, explained that the department is “exploring a decade both inside curricula and outside curricula.”

“Camelot” was among the songs Grace Brumby performed in her historic performance at the White House during John F. Kennedy’s presidency. The recital selected four other pieces from Brumby’s performance, as well as “Song of the Birds,” originally performed by Pablo Casals at his 1961 White House concert.

Korotkevitch and Dolinska performed a series of iconic film scores, including Francis Lai’s “Concerto for a Love’s Ending” from “Love is a Beautiful Thing” and the themes of “Love Story” by Lai and “Romeo and Juliet” by Nino Rota.

When she heard about this year’s theme, Korotkevitch was ecstatic.

“Music from movies was my first choice,” she said.

Dolinska said she especially enjoyed Italian and French scores from the 1960’s, and she appreciates the depth of the performed scores and their corresponding films.

“I think it would be great for young generations to reach out and see films of the period,” she said, seeing as how many students may not be familiar with such pieces.

Anapaula Rios-Rosales, a freshman at Saint Leo University, wanted to try 1960’s music and decided to attend the recital after hearing about it in her Spirituals of Rock and Roll class and Saint Leo University’s newsletter. She particularly enjoyed the violin pieces.

The show ended with a performance of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” a song embodying the massive 1969 music festival and arranged by Rodriguez for the evening’s performance.

Coming full circle from historic performances, to beloved soundtracks, and to iconic 1960’s rock and country, this was a fitting ending to define the revolutionary decade.