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Student Voice First Edition - october 2020. ed. catriona dillon, melissa donnely and noor fatima.

Welcome to the very first edition of Student Voice. Our first digital school newspaper at Portlaoise College. It is just one of the many great things happening this year at Portlaoise College. Thanks to everyone who helped create this newspaper, hope you enjoy! Catriona, Melissa and Noor (editorial team)

'The Inception of Student Voice'- Esteemed local journalist visits Portlaoise College.

Alan Hartnett with the editorial team

Recently our T.Y. classes received a visit from esteemed local editor and journalist Alan Hartnett. Alan works for the local online newspaper "Laois Today" and writes stories on a wide variety of topics, all to do with Laois. He told us what it is like to run a newspaper from the bottom up. His advice included things such as the importance of a grabbing headline and how to keep people interested. Overall it was a very informative and interesting afternoon. He told us about what it's like running a newspaper from scratch and gave us advice on how to start our paper. That helped us to create this edition and launch our first edition of Student Voice. We took a lot from that talk. Thanks, Alan!

Portlaoise College Students look at life with Covid-19

Video brought to you by Ross Molloy 3A

'Living With Covid-19’, Student Experiences at Portlaoise College' by Niamh Friel, Tim Drennan and Zara Murphy.

Students: (back) Conor Daly, Kinga Siddique, Stephen Lynch, Lee-Carroll Talbot. (Front) Kayla Daly, Oisin Grundy

Today's article is about students' experiences during the global pandemic. The 'Students Voice' has interviewed a number of students, from first-year all the way up to sixth-year about their experiences with Covid-19.

Students were asked how they felt when they heard the earth-shattering news that we were going into 'lockdown'. The majority of the students we interviewed said they were so excited about lockdown when they initially heard, primarily because they perceived it as an extra holiday off school.

We can relate to this as we were extremely excited, but after the first two-three weeks, we started to really miss school and as the number of infections was rising and we were becoming more and more anxious over it.

Students were also asked how they found the online teaching system. Every student gave the same answer. They didn't like the idea of doing their work online. It stressed them out and they felt like they were getting much more work than usual. We enjoyed the online schooling. It gave us something to do to pass the time. The days felt so long and were so boring during lock down so we did enjoy getting the work to keep us busy. Furthermore, students were asked what life lessons they learned from the pandemic. This is pertinent to ask because we do really feel like, before the pandemic, everyone took the little things for granted. One striking answer received was from Conor Daly ( fifth year) who stated: "I learned to appreciate school and my friends. It was an eye-opening experience".We were in agreement with Conor on this, as we also took school for granted and are extremely happy to be back to school.

Finally, students were asked what they feel is the biggest difference in school life pre-COVID and now, which is perfectly captured by Lee Carroll-Talbot (sixth year): "It feels less like a community because we don't see everyone anymore and you can never even tell whose smiling at you."

'A First-Year like no other'- the Portlaoise College Class of 2020. By Aoibhe Kelly and Rebecca Moran

We all know how nerve-wracking and exhilarating new beginnings can be, and at no time in living memory have these poles been so far apart as for the first-year class of 2020. How better to find out what the experience has been like than to speak to the newest members of Portlaoise College?

Was it harder to make friends in a new school given the restrictions of social distancing and the wearing of a facemask? The majority of interviewees found that not only was it not harder, but in fact, it was easier for them. One respondent commented that: ‘I found it easier…because I didn’t know many students here, so I found it easier to talk to them’. Only one student found the process difficult because wearing a mask ‘makes it difficult to hear each other as the mask tends to muffle the sound’, which ‘makes it challenging to form new friendships.

The biggest change for students in joining a new school is the increase in the number of subjects they study. All of the respondents are enjoying their new subjects, with one interviewee going as far as to state: ‘I love them all! The teachers and subjects are amazing’. Now that is quite an endorsement! Another respondent stated that they enjoyed Business Studies and T.G. the most. While the first-years are revelling in their new subjects, it was the fact that they had a different teacher for each subject that they found to be the biggest challenge this year.

The classroom environment is certainly a lot different from in previous years and the wearing of a mask along with social distancing being the most challenging aspects of the school. While many have found the wearing of masks difficult one respondent stated that they ‘liked wearing it because it protects me’ from the virus. Other challenges included the lack of lockers this year and that having to keep windows open can make it a little colder in the room than usual.

While there have undoubtedly been challenges, the first-year students have also been looking forward to life in their new school. There was a range of different hopes for the year from the Halloween Party to the range of extra-curricular activities and hopes of getting 100% on all their tests!

Students from left to right: Ghazwan Al Ghazawi, Jaela Halberstadt, Jonathan Murphy and Saoirse Caroll-Connell

T.Y. Bonding Trip by Aleksandra Polak

On the 17th of September, both of the TY groups left the school at 8:45am for our bonding trip into the Slieve Bloom mountains. After a short ride on the bus, we met our two guides and set off for our 7km hike. The first 2km were constantly uphill, making us struggle a bit, but we kept walking while continuing to talk to each other. Once we were walking on a more even ground, there was a thick fog, making us not see half of our group, but it made the scenery around us look twice as cool and we managed to get many good pictures. Once we finally finished our hike, we sat around on benches near the car park and ate our lunch and continued to mess around. After that, we drove back to an old convent in Mountrath where we did team building activities which had hilarious results. In the end to conclude our bonding trip, we spent an hour of meditation, most of us being able to relax and enjoy it.

Some photos from the T.Y. Bonding Trip

European Languages Day

by Jodie Deegan, Molly McGannon, Faith Sacre-Quigley & Abbie Doyle.

Last month, students studying French and German at Portlaoise College celebrated the 'European Day of Languages'. On this day we celebrated the diversity of languages spoken by our students and the importance and benefits of learning a foreign language.

The event was organised by the school's language departments and Ms. Mulvihill told the Student Voice that "languages are not only a means to communicate with each other, but they also tell a story and shape who we are. By celebrating the many languages spoken by our students here at Portlaoise College, we are also celebrating our students' cultural diversity". She also noted that "The European Day of Languages is also about highlighting the benefits of learning a foreign language in school". While students may see a foreign language as merely another subject in school Ms. Mulvihill reminded us that 'foreign languages not only increase career and travel opportunities for students in the future but also give (students) the opportunity to learn about a new culture and people".

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all students as many of our students have a range of linguistic talents, such as Julian Michans in second-year who, while he speaks English at school, also speaks Latvian at home and for Caoimhe Murphy who echoed Ms. Mulvihill's sentiments that languages give her "opportunities in the future to try to get a job and travel".

The enjoyment wasn't all on the student side, however, as Ms. Mulvihill found the European Day of Languages to be a "wonderful day to reflect on the importance and benefits of learning a foreign language, and to celebrate the huge diversity of cultures and languages spoken in our school". It enabled "students learning both French and German at Portlaoise College...the opportunity to demonstrate their language skills, along with the many bilingual students in our school, who proudly showcased their native languages and cultures." The Student Voice thinks this is a fantastic new initiative and hopes it is a mainstay on the calendar at Portlaoise College for many years to come.

by Fionn Abbey

What do you like to do for fun in school? As a typical sixteen-year-old student, I enjoy talking to my friends at break and lunchtime. To add to that, I like to play sports also. Luckily the weather is substantial for our games.

What do you want to be when you leave school? When I leave school, I aim to study sports physiology. There are multiple courses in various colleges that appeal to me. Also, there's a satisfying feeling of helping people in an environment you enjoy.

What is your favourite subject in school? In school, my favourite subjects are P.E and Geography. Again, P.E. appeals to me because of my sporting background. Geography is in the top two because I believe that it's interesting to discover and learn about different formations that nature gives us.

What age do you enter secondary school/high school? In New Zealand, your second level education starts from ages thirteen to seventeen. Secondary education starts in year seven until year nine. Also, a child's education is free between the ages of five and nineteen at state schools (schools that are government-owned and funded) if they're a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Do you receive homework from your teachers? Yes. Homework is very common in our school. However, I am quick at writing and consider myself an intellectual, so I usually complete my homework tasks before I go home. It means less homework for me!

Do you wear a uniform? Yes, we do wear uniforms. In summer we wear a blouse, long skirt, short socks and blazer. In winter, I wear a long shirt and tie, kilt and long navy socks and school blazer. Here is a picture of the uniform;

Alex and her rowing team won gold in the under eighteen squad in the South Island secondary school championship.

Bring a little sunshine into your life with Spanish for beginners. -Xavier Montagut & Mar Munoz

Do you want to learn Spanish or are you going to travel to Spain sometime soon? If you do, or if you are just curious, you probably need some help. From the simple words such as hello and good morning to some more complex and useful phrases such as where is the airport? or can you repeat it, please?. Here you have these and more basic Spanish sentences you can say.

  • Hello- Hola
  • Good morning- Buenos días
  • Good afternoon- Buenas tardes
  • Good night- Buenas noches
  • Goodbye- Adiós
  • Yes- Sí
  • No -No
  • What is your name?- ¿Cómo te llamas?
  • My name is ... Mi nombre es ...
  • How are you?-Cómo estás?
  • I am fine, and you? -Estoy bien, ¿y tú?
  • How old are you?- Cuantos años tienes? 
  • I am … years old -Tengo … años
  • Where do you live?- Dónde vives?
  • I am from / I live in Ireland- Soy de / Vivo en Irlanda
  • Nice to meet you!- Encantado/a de conocerte! or Mucho gusto!
  • Do you have any brothers or sisters? Tienes hermanos o hermanas?
  • Please- Por favor
  • Thank you- Gracias
  • You’re welcome- De nada
  • Sorry- Perdón
  • Excuse me- Disculpa
  • I don’t understand- No entiendo
  • Can you repeat it, please?- Puedes repetirlo, por favor?
  • Can you speak more slowly?- Puedes hablar más despacio?

Travelling: Add to your knowledge of the language a few more specific sentences you may find helpful if you are going on a trip.

  • Do you speak English?- Hablas inglés?
  • I don’t speak Spanish, I speak English- No hablo español, hablo inglés
  • What time is it?- Qué hora es?
  • Which places should I visit? -Qué lugares debería visitar?
  • What activities do you recommend?- Qué actividades recomiendas?
  • I want to go to the airport- Quiero ir al aeropuero
  • Where is the tourist office?- Dónde está la oficina de turistas?
  • I am looking for a hotel / restaurant- Estoy buscando un hotel / restaurante
  • My flight takes off / lands at ...- Mi vuelo despega / aterriza a las ...
  • Where is the bathroom? Dónde está el baño?

Premier League News By Jake Colbert

The season started on Saturday September 12 after just a seven-week break following the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign, which was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Who's up? Leeds are back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence, while West Brom sealed the second automatic promotion spot after a topsy-turvy final day of the Championship season. Fulham were the final team promoted via the playoffs.

The Leeds side that secured promotion

Premier League 2019-20 Top Scorers: Jamie Vardy has flourished under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers and currently leads the charts. He is followed closely by Southampton striker Danny Ings, who sits two goals back from the Leicester City marksman. That pair is followed by Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Man City winger Raheem Sterling, who in turn are ahead of a chasing pack that includes Raul Jimenez, Sadio Mane and Marcus Rashford.

  1. Jamie Vardy Leicester City 23
  2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal 22
  3. Danny Ings Southampton 22
  4. Raheem Sterling Manchester City 20
  5. Mohamed Salah Liverpool 19

Premier League to be decided by PPG if Covid-19 stops season: Premier League clubs have signed off on using a points-per-game system if the season is ended early by the coronavirus pandemic. Premier League clubs have signed off on using a points-per-game system if the season is ended early by the coronavirus pandemic. The plans for curtailment were agreed at the last shareholders meeting but were formally voted in on Tuesday, the PA news agency understands. A threshold of how much of the season needs to be played has yet to be agreed. The Premier League restarted last season in June after being forced to halt the campaign in March amid the coronavirus crisis. There was no agreement for a financial bailout for EFL clubs, although there was little expectation the situation would be resolved.

'A Premier League Season Like No Other'  By Noah Delaney

This year the Premier league will be different for all players and for the people watching it because there will be restrictions.

The people over the Premier League have brought in a few new rules for this season because of Covid-19. So one of the new rules is that the teams have to walk out onto the pitch separately because of social distancing. FIFA and the Premier League bosses have told teams that they could make five substitutions this season but most of the teams voted against it.

With Covid-19 happening this season all teams in the Premier League can only have seven people on the bench and they can only make three substitutions in a game. This year FIFA have made the handball rule even stricter as players last year were giving out to the referee because they say it's a handball, if a player accidentally hand balls and the other team is through on goals or have a goal scoring opportunity it will be a free kick or a penalty, regardless of intent. This has caused controversy already this season and we will wait and see if the rule makers respond.

The Man in the stand, notepad in hand’ The double life of a GAA Player turned reporter. By Kevin Dillon

My name is Kevin and I’m a sixth year student. Anyone who knows me will know my love of GAA. To me, personally, it’s more than just a game, it’s who I am. It’s taught me a lot, especially about the importance of teamwork, work-rate and character, and these are assets I try to bring into my everyday life.

My first love is playing, be it with the small ball in the green and gold of Clonad, or with the big ball in the black and amber of The Heath. Starting training on those freezing cold, dark nights in late January, dreaming of days of glory in the heat of mid-Summer until the business end of the year in October. That is what I live for.

When I am not playing, watching it is my second love of it. I love attending matches, Inter-County or Club. Since I was very, very young, I have been attending matches, in support of Laois or my father’s native Galway. It’s given my summers joy, heartbreak, colour, noise, drama and excitement. It’s taken us everywhere, O’Moore Park, O’Connor Park, Pearse Stadium, Gaelic Grounds, Semple Stadium and Croke Park. And we all have fond memories of our County’s greatest moments. For me, they’ve got to be the scenes in O’Moore Park after Laois’ win over Dublin in the 2019 All-Ireland Preliminary Hurling Quarter-Final, or the outpouring of joy and celebration that unfolded in front of me in the Cusack Stand when Galway ended their 29-year famine to be crowned All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions in 2017.

When I was in Transition Year, I wrote to the Leinster GAA Council asking could I take work experience with them. They obliged, and when I started, I met their Communications and Commercial Officer, John. He brought me into his Office, and simply asked me to write a few statistics from the previous weekend’s club matches. Except I misunderstood, and wrote a whole report on the match instead. And I’ll always remember the look on his face when he saw what I wrote, one of utter shock “You, wrote this?”.

From then on I was asked to do more reports for their website, and I got the chance to cover both of that year’s Provincial Senior Club Championship Finals, where I got to sit in press boxes beside well-known sports journalists.

Then another opportunity arose with local online newspaper LaoisToday, to cover matches for them. I took it straight away, and from day one I have loved it.

My job is to source team lists from club management / match officials, and to record everything that happens in the match. Every point, every goal, every wide, every foul, every card, everything. There’s a lot of writing involved! Once the match is over, I write a whole report for their website.

Sometimes, I can be standing there on the sidelines in the freezing cold or the lashing rain, still trying to take everything down. I can miss big moments and have to ask someone else what happened. But I love it and wouldn’t change anything.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is would I like to do it when I finish school? And quite frankly, I don’t know. For the time being, all I know I’m happy to keep doing it in my free time. (Image of O'Moore park from Laois GAA)

Cawley Calls ‘The Fight of the Year!’ A unification clash that will prove to be anything but light. By Patrick Cawley

Vasyl Lomachenko vs Teofima Lopez fight prediction

Lomachenko vs Lopez has been a highly anticipated fight for quite a while now, mostly because of the boxers great professional records. Lomachenko has won 14/15 of his fights with 10 by the way of KO and Lopez has won 15/15 with 12 by way of KO. Straight away we can see that Lopez has the edge over Lomachenko when it comes to stats, but not if we look at Lomachenko’s amateur record. A staggering 396 wins to 1 loss, which he later avenged twice. Both boxers use different stances with Lomachenko being a southpaw and Lopez being an orthodox boxer, and as they say, styles make fights.

Even with the stats on his side, I believe that Lopez won’t be able to continue his winning streak with zero losses. Lomachenko is going to be his toughest opponent yet and he also has a lot more experience than Lopez. Lomachenko is one of the fastest boxers I have ever watched but not only does he have speed, but he also has a lot of strength, stamina and he’s intelligent. He is very good offensively and defensively, which makes him a very well rounded boxer.

I’m pretty sure that this fight will last a couple of rounds and it will be hell for both fighters, but I believe that Lomachenko can grab the win in the end by KO or TKO and claim the WBA WBO WBC and IBF Lightweight titles, but no matter what happens, both fighters will be going home with a lot of cash in their pockets.

Celebrity Catchup With Sean McComish-Day

A lot has happened recently in the world of celebrities and showbiz. The Student Voice wouldn't want our readers to be left in the dark, now would we?

The Kardashians have decided to end their long-running reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” after 20 seasons. “It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Keeping Up with the Kardashians. After what will be 14 years, 20 seasons, hundreds of episodes and several spin-off shows, we’ve decided as a family to end this very special journey. We are beyond grateful to all of you who’ve watched us for all of these years – through the good times, the bad times, the happiness, the tears, and the many relationships and children. We’ll forever cherish the wonderful memories and countless people we’ve met along the way,” the family announced on September 9th. The show has been airing since October 2007 and the last season will air in February 2021.

Zayn Malik & Gigi Hadid celebrate the birth of their daughter, who was born in the early hours of Thursday 24th September. The One Direction star announced the birth of his child on his Instagram and Twitter, much to the joy of his followers.

'Creative Corner' with Luca Devine

Fox Head
'Demon Cat'

"I painted and drew both of these art pieces on my ipad using an app named procreate. I got my inspiration for both of these pieces from my interest in animals and in drawing them"- Luca Devine

'Untitled' by Josh Boylan

Creative Corner with Marta Kozakiewicz

'Drawing Characters from Media' with Natalia Orlik
Clementine from The Walking Dead - Natalia Orlik

Clementine is the main protagonist of the episodic and adventurous video game series titled 'The Walking Dead' developed by Telltale Games and Skybound Games. It was first released on the 24th of April 2012 with the first episode, "A New Day" of Season 1. The video games are based on The Walking Dead comic book series where each of your decisions reveal a different story set during a zombie apocalypse.

'Change' 

by Ayesha Siddique 1D

You could see the autumn leaves slowly gliding down from the top of the oak and many more trees as the breeze slowly pulled them off. I could smell the sizzling bacon as the aroma crept into our room. It was the most extraordinary smell I have ever woken up to. I reached my arm out to the left side of the bed to hug my wonderful wife but as I expected she was downstairs

making breakfast to fill us up. Before I went down I had to see if Ezra was awake. I walked past the bathroom to Ezra's room and knocked on his door to see if he was awake. He didn’t respond. I went in trying not to wake him as I saw he was sleeping and got his stuff ready for today. Which was quite hard because his room was filled with toys that have been on this floor for half a decade. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit. Anyways with him sleeping and that wonderful aroma fuming from the kitchen. It was time to eat.

One year later

*Beep beep* I can feel the freezing saliva slowly making its way down the side of my mouth as I see it dripping onto my single pillow. I can smell the musty aroma that my unclean house is giving off. My head is killing me. I need to stop by the pharmacy before I go to work. I reach my arm out to the left side of the bed. Empty. I groggily search for my alarm clock. My head is throbbing. Literally, and I still have to make breakfast. But before I do that, I have to wake Ezra up."Ezra, wake up!" I exclaim but as I expected he doesn’t reply. So I repeat "Ezra, wake up" but even louder. I can hear him coming down the stairs. When he arrives, I put some toast in the toaster. I also ask him what he wants on his toast. He doesn't reply. Butter it is then. The burnt toast is devoured in seconds. And off to work, I went.

It hasn't been the same since Jane, my wife died. it feels, hollow now.

I come home after work. I can feel the sweat making my delicate skin really greasy. Along with my unused legs feeling the slightest tingle after being seated for ten horrendous hours. Watching my printer tardily tug on bunches of piercing white paper as I added more in. I have small rectangular shaped indents on each and every one of my fingers. As well as my misfortune in having cramped toes. The cold wrath of the door opening as I walk in gives me the chills. I slowly make my way to the kitchen, already put off because Ezra forgot to turn on the heater. I continue on going to the living-room thinking if I should clean the house before my monstrous landlord returns. The lights are off and there is no sign of Ezra. I vaguely start to panic but continue my way up the stairs. The hallway lights are flickering. It is like something out of a horror movie. But before I think too much I go to Ezra’s room and obviously he is there.

Tucking him in, there is a subtle grin on his face which is peculiar, but I think nothing of it. His eyes barely open, he asks can you check under my bed for monsters. I think about kneeling down and how my knees would give out on me, but for his amusement, I do. But as I kneel down I see him, another him! I blink a couple of times thinking maybe I’m just seeing things this can’t be real, right. I see him quivering under the bed and whispering "daddy there's someone on my bed. I gasp in horror. Panic ridden, I get up. No, no monsters.

Modern Warfare- A Waste or Worth It? By Shane Byrne

You come home from a hard day of school, you finish your homework and see you have time to play a game. You open up your game library and see Modern warfare and you wonder if it's a good game, you wish you read this amazing article done in the school newspaper. Well, here we are, discussing if it's worth the time and the space on your console.

Modern warfare is the newest ‘Call of Duty’ game brought to us by Activision and Infinity Ward. It is a massive 156.5gb in size. The campaign is between 6 to 8 hours long which is decent for a FPS (first-person shooter) game, but most people don't get Call of Duty games for purely campaign mode. The multiplayer mode has many different game modes including but not limited to infected mode, team deathmatch, free for all, hardpoint and kill confirmed. All of these game modes are fun but I’ll discuss these later.

The Modern Warfare campaign sees you try to kill General Roman Barkov who has organised a gas attack in London city. Throughout the story, you try to find him and come close a few times until the end where you find and kill him. All through the story, you are put into different perspectives, such as children during an attack, through the eyes of Farah Karim, a fellow freedom fighter and an officer in England during the gas attack in London. There are a few good levels in the campaign including “clean house” a level that has you sneaking around in night vision either tying up or killing enemies quietly.

The multiplayer mode is extremely fun, especially with friends. It can take a bit of time to adjust to the quick time to kill in this game but that is part of the fun. You can level up your guns and add attachments and camos to make it the best it can be. The game is relatively easy to do good at once you get the hang of it, so I would suggest that once you feel confident enough you should set yourself challenges, like snipers only with a kar98k. If you do this then I would say to turn on voice chat but mute yourself, I can guarantee that you will get a laugh out of it the better you get.

So in my opinion, modern warfare deserves the hype. One tip I would have is to not follow YouTubers guides, yes you should take it into account what they are saying but don't follow exactly what they are doing. You have to play the way that suits you best.

Peaky Blinders - A 10/10 Five season thriller ruling the T.V. show kingdom By Jack Lynch

Irish actor Cillian Murphy stars in Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is a British TV show, is based on a real Birmingham gang and following them on they're journey through the crime life from the end of ww1 to near the start of ww2, the name "Peaky Blinders" comes from the way they used their hats, the hats were peaky caps with razor blades sewn into them, giving the name Peaky Blinders. So far a total of 5 seasons are made with a sixth one coming out soon.

The number of main characters changes through the different seasons but the main focus is on three people, Tommy Shelby, Aunt Polly, and Arthur Shelby, but has new protagonists coming in each season. The story shows us the gangs journey from fixing horse races to being one of the most feared gangs in England.

Peaky Blinders is known for unexpected plot twists, making the viewers feel apart of the scene in some moments and telling an amazing story not just about the gang but about the world around them, showing how gritty it was for middle or lower class people post ww1.

Peaky Blinders always has the viewer wanting for more and on the edge of a seat from all the twists and turns the story takes. If you are interested in crime, action or Drama, Peaky Blinders is the show for you. Five Stars.

Pedigree Pets: Have We Gone Too Far? By Kayla Daly

The diverse array of dogs alive today are believed to have been bred from one sole grey wolf. That means that from one single canid, we have created over 360 variations of coat pattern, fur length, size, height, strength, skeletal structure, skull shape, cartilage density, temperament, and neurological capability. Although that feat itself is quite impressive when read aloud, it simply begs the awkward question; have we gone too far? Sure, benignly dampening the primal fear of an aggressive predator is justifiable, but where does our own cosmetic taste come into play? After centuries of exploitation to achieve a physical trait regardless of the medical consequences for the creature involved, I think the time has come to ask ourselves what we really want from our four-legged companions: looks or life?

Aside from the horrific ethical dilemmas that stem from practices like puppy farms and intensive breeding, there has been an unfathomable increase in health complications among pedigree pets - all of which can be traced back to our irresponsible disregard of the natural methods of reproduction. Selective breeding may seem harmless at first, but a closer look will reveal that isolating and concentrating certain traits in animals - both physical and mental - will only result in disaster. Take the Ojos Azules, a rare and seldom-bred cat that sports only one defining characteristic; a dazzling set of abnormally large blue eyes. As attractive as having such an exotic feline once sounded, breeders soon learned the hard way that the desired gene - which caused the mutation of blue pigmentation in the iris - was also connected to a lethal abnormality in the skull which resulted in countless fetal deaths each time the cat was bred.

Fatal and incurable disorders ranging from stillbirth to severe deformities are normality in the animal breeding industry. Not even the world's most experienced genetic engineer can guarantee a successful pregnancy, birth, or even postnatal development for the offspring. The Ojos Azules is merely one out of a thousand examples of dangerous mutation happening unexpectedly whilst attempting to isolate a certain characteristic. Even supposedly 'low-maintenance' and established breeds carry a plethora of health risks and hereditary conditions. Pygmy horses, Great Danes, Chihuahuas, Persian cats, Bulldogs, Pugs, Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, and Dachshunds are all at risk for developing severe medical complications due to their forced evolution, and that's only scratching the surface. You'd be quite hard pressed to find a state-registered creature who doesn't have some form of a physical or even neurological defect.

Puppy mills, cat farms, battery hens, needless animal death, horrendous deformities, frightful euthanasia rates in shelters and an abysmal level of overpopulation all result from humans trying to dominate the organic process of evolution. What began as a logical and beneficial practice has morphed into an unethical way for man to exert his selfish desires on innocent organisms. We need to realise that working against organic reproduction is a futile and dangerous battle, and one that needs to cease if there's any hope for the future.

The Hero of Beirut by Callum Ingham

It has been two months since two thousand-seven hundred and fifty tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in Lebanon's capital, Beirut. The effects of the explosion, which killed over two hundred people, are still being felt all over the world.

Many countries have looked past their struggles amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and helped to supply medical equipment to those affected along with volunteer rescue teams to help settle the chaos.

One such team from Chile brought their team of sniffer dogs to assist the rescue efforts. One such dog, Flash, a five-year-old border collie from Topos Chile, led a search team to a destroyed building which had been toppled by the blast. Using heartbeat sensors, the team found a faint heartbeat under the rocks which was slowly getting fainter. Teams rushed to excavate the rubble to see what Flash had found.

Originally, they thought Flash had found an alive animal but were shocked to uncover a small child who had survived for thirty days under the rubble. The search and rescue teams rushed to get the survivor to a hospital for treatment.

Flash has been hailed on social media as "The Hero of Beirut" with many people on twitter and Instagram praising the dog for her great job. And thanks to her, hope has been restored to the people of Beirut.

The sniffer dogs from Topos Chile are trained from a young age to be elite rescue dogs. The training is hard, and not all dogs are suited for the role. Flash was trained for search and rescue operations along with her other teammates. They are trained to react differently depending on if they sense an alive survivor or a deceased victim. The rescue teams were confused when flash was telling them she found a survivor, as surely no one could survive being crushed by a building for thirty-days let alone a child.

Flash went above and beyond her call of duty that day, and one thing was for certain; she got her favourite dinner that night!

Remembering Chadwick Boseman By Hristo Petrushkov

Image credit: NY Times

Black Panther is a 2018 superhero action film directed by Ryan Coogler about the king of the fictional nation Wakanda, who by the day serves his royal duties and by night fights crime as Black Panther.

I really enjoyed the film the first time I watched it, however, I felt that I was a little disappointed with it in the end, because I felt as if it didn't live up to the hype with the pent up image I had of the film and from the way people were talking about this film in 2018 you would've sworn it was the second coming of Christ. However, with the hype died down and with the recent death of Chadwick Boseman, I feel that it's a good time to revisit the film as a sort of tribute to him. Chadwick's performance is absolutely fantastic. He brings the character to life and brings out the best of this character. It was interesting how Chadwick managed to switch from acting cold and businesslike when serving as king to a fun-loving man with a golden heart when with those closest to him to a savage warrior as The Black Panther. This switching of roles really was a testament to his acting ability and it didn't make the film dull or inconsistent which was great.

Jordan plays the street-savvy Killmonger. He does an excellent job of portraying this broken character, one molded by hate and a lust for power and has many sociopathic tendencies and we're supposed to dislike him but we as an audience sympathise with him. His motivation makes sense and he only wants the best for those considered weak.

The rest of the cast were fantastic as well Okoye is an absolute badass and always steals, with a quick-witted sense of humour and sense of authority, she is T'Challa's perfect bodyguard and their chemistry was fantastic in the film as well it was never boring when they were on screen. Lupita Nyong'o was great as Nakia and while she wasn't in the film for much I really enjoyed her relationship with T'Challa. It showed his vulnerable side and made us respect Nakia more as other than this she isn't very prevalent. Martin Freeman was also very good and while only being a comic-relief character he is extremely useful and broke the boundaries of what a comic relief character is and was a fun part of the film.

The action choreography was amazing. It's fast, unpredictable, exhilarating and keeps you at the edge of your seat when watching the film. The last act of the film's special effects is horrendous with the last fight scene taking me out of the film and souring my enjoyment of the film. However other than this everything else in terms of production was great especially the costume design. The soundtrack produced for this film is stunning. Ludwig Göransson put a lot of love into it and incorporates traditional African music, classic movie orchestral and modern music styles such as hip hop into a really original soundtrack that suits the film very well.

I also thought that the third act was a bit rushed and while it was still very good I felt that the first two were much better in terms of quality and pacing of the story. If anything however I did enjoy it more on my second viewing and left me more satisfied than the previous time. I'd rate this film an 8 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope that Marvel expands the franchise.

Martians: Marvel Makers? By Callen Dunne

The great marvels of human engineering: The Great Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, The Nazca Lines. Or are they? For years now people across the globe have theorised that humans acquired extra-terrestrial assistance to construct these extraordinary monuments. In this article, we will be delving into the vast expanse of ancient alien conspiracies.

It has been long believed that our ancient ancestors didn't have the technological capacity to conduct complicated operations such as transporting extremely heavy goods to and from extreme distances. The most infamous example of this is the construction of The Great Pyramids of Giza. Ancient hieroglyphics eerily resemble what people today would consider UFOs. Pharaoh imagery depicts humanoid figures that could easily pass as humans but upon closer inspection have distinct unhuman qualities. We believe elongated skulls shown in some of these images represent Alien attributes. Elon Musk, one of the world's most famous people known for his founding of the electric car company Tesla and SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company, believes that aliens built The Great Pyramids of Giza. He has been quoted as saying “How could it not be Aliens? There is no way they were built only by humans.” Elon is one of many who believe this theory.

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Stonehenge holds a similar theory to the construction of The Great Pyramids, many believe that humans were merely incapable of handling and positioning the magnitude of these stones. They theorise that Stonehenge was built by Aliens or at least Aliens aided in the construction of this monument. Erich Von Däniken, a Swiss author, is widely known amongst the conspiracy community as a firm believer of aliens building Stonehenge, and having an influence on early human culture, Erich, is most well known for writing his best-selling book, Chariots of the Gods? published in 1968. It involves the hypothesis that the technologies and religions of many ancient civilizations were given to them by ancient astronauts who were welcomed as gods.

The Nazca Lines in southern Peru are a group of pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched into desert sands. Covering an area of nearly 1,000 sq. kilometers, there are about 300 different figures, including animals and plants. Scientists believe that these lines were created by the Nasca people. People believe that this would simply be impossible, it being so accurate and in scale with the drawings of these figures. This leads people to believe the Nasca people were aided by extraterrestrial beings. Theorists believe that these aliens used spacecraft to guide them in cutting these perfect figures. Erich von Däniken also believes the drawing was built using a track trapezoidal landing craft built by aliens who visited the Earth a long time ago and the Giant portrayed in the hillside (“The Astronaut”) is the figure of the alien testified by the Nazca.

As you've seen above, people believe aliens had an important impact on Ancient history. Despite the fact that there is sufficient evidence to the contrary, conspiracies such as these persist to this day and have a large following. The unexplained has always attracted speculation. Theories such as Ancient Aliens offer a solution to humanity's great perplexities, but ultimately they make better stories than reality.

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Created with images by Utsav Srestha - "Old newspaper-stack." • Max Bender - "untitled image" • Joshua Fuller - "Nations" • Denise Jans - "One of my own compass with an old map I bought at a vintage store of Australia and New Zealand." • Daniel Prado - "Madrid!" • Chris Slupski - "Demonstration for independence of Catalunya" • Charisse Kenion - "untitled image" • gustavo centurion - "untitled image" • Anoir Chafik - "Support me : paypal.me/AnoirChafik" • Krista Mangulsone - "Real life best friends", Laois GAA