Ponaganset Post


Vol.   XXXV                                                            No.  1                                        Winter 2019

The Mad Hatter

Everything One Would Need to Know About Wonderland’s Unbirthday King

                                                                     THOMAS JAQUES

This year has blessed us with another astounding opportunity for students at PMS: the PMS drama club,  activated by Chorus Teacher/Director Ms. Hurley! The wave of talent is pure, and the cast of this year’s production (“Alice in Wonderland”) lights up the stage in a way so authentic, that from a theatrical perspective, is an astonishing wonder.  (As a lead role in the production, this has been quite an enjoyable experience and an amusing time to spend with fellow schoolmates. If you plan to attend to show, look forward to seeing me as the Mad Hatter.)

The iconic character, the Mad Hatter, voiced by Ed Wynn in the 1951 adaptation of Lewis Carroll's “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, and portrayed twice by Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s live action films “Alice in Wonderland (2010)” and “Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass (2016)”, is the host of the Wonderland Mad Tea Party! Along with his partner in crime, the hyperactive March Hare, they turn their formal festivities into a celebration! Theatrical as he is, he has a very brief attention span, which makes him the perfect distraction! Maybe you issue the contradictory rule of being addressed before taking your seat; maybe you praise the outcasted damsel to cheat at a round of musical chairs behind the scenes simultaneously. Or maybe you just want to praise your narcissistic Queen to intimidate that same damsel during a court scene after an equally narcissistic incident. The possibilities are limitless! But the most important notion of all: you have fun while causing all the mischief!

Yet, there’s more to portraying this deuteragonist than just a big hat and some charisma! You also have to perfect the exterior. If you have the courage to step up to the plate and play this fellow in the Drama Club, you must give the proper presentation. Height, being the least significant factor, makes the character a stubby bundle of excitement, and in the 1951 animation, it’s a comedic visual. But in the live action films, he’s the biggest human being at the event. When the protagonist, Alice, is shortly admired, but later under the subtle impression of insult, this makes the Hatter’s height just that more uncomforting (Mad-Hatter style, if you will). Another is the voice; the impression seems easy to replicate, but when you attempt to portray the Mad Hatter, no normal voice can accompany it. Since the Mad Hatter is generally a unisex role, there is a major latitude of how it is interpreted. As a portrayer of the Mad Hatter myself, I generally view the male complexion as a deep voice gradually varying in pitch, with a subtle lisp to slightly affix to the finesse. The female portrayer may aspire for a thinner vocal, that still commends the personality with a spice of elation. These are just a select number of suggestions that are normally applied for many attempting to fill the Mad Hatter’s awkwardly-fitting shoes. Lastly, in terms of movement; choreography isn’t a colossal factor, either. Yet, the strides and steps of the Mad Hatter are abundantly theatrical, as the body flexes in a “forward-backward-inward-outward” swaying gesticulation. The normal Mad Hatter walk looks like a confused marching from the eyes of the audience. And that’s the goal: walking in dramatization is atypical for the daily individual, but to the Hatter, he thinks YOU walk funny!

Although originally given a different name, the inspiration for the Mad Hatter didn’t come from a peckish party animal that some might figure mistakes straight Chlorine for tea, it was actually an old British lifestyle regarding hats. The headwarmers that distract the crowd from the zany face were historically known for containing the hazardous element Mercury. The chemicals in the Mercury would eventually become so dense, that over time, is was able to pass through the other semi-permeable materials that the headwear was composed of. After an extended period of time, the Mercury would seep in the cranium and into the brain, causing a minor infection causing symptoms of dementia. Dementia is essentially a group of thinking and social symptoms that interferes with daily functioning, but the connotation that Lewis Carroll had intended on presenting to his readers with his novels was that the behavior caused by such infections would entail becoming abnormally hyperactive, and borderline irrational and/or crazy! Another anecdote to consider: this concept is where the phrase “mad as a hatter” originated from, because being “mad with dementia” was so common in that period of history.

Now, the main reason the Mad Hatter hosts a tea party celebrating “a very merry unbirthday to you” was because Carroll had experienced something similar in his day. Evidently, there were no dancing teapots or jumping plates or any abnormal silverware craze. But Lewis Carroll attended a tea party at some point in his life, and the host was acting extremely unstable. This was because he wore a large top hat made with 30% Mercury, and it entered his brain. Before the party began, a man stood to announce his birthday! The host, who Caroll predicts had legitimate dementia, wanted to tell him, “A very happy birthday to you!”, but slurred his words in such unpleasing legato that is sounded a lot the iconic one-liner, “A very merry unbirthday to you…”.

And thus, the Mad Hatter was born!

As previously mentioned, the Mad Hatter, in the 1951 animation, and from that installment onward, celebrated alongside his sidekick, the March Hare! The rabbit that is imagined in the film has more of a solo and significance than he did in the novels. Carroll depicted the March Hare as a brown rabbit sitting solitarily, as merely a guest to the Hatter’s affair! But in the animation, the March Hare was promoted to associate host of the Mad Tea Party! The inspiration for the promotion was derived from a discovery in an alternate phrase of “mad as a hatter”, simply “mad as a March hare”, which still holds the same definition.

When you take the imaginative mind of Lewis Carroll into account, who knows why he promoted the Hare, but the iconic combo is still a staple in the Alice in Wonderland novels and films.

All in all, being full of crazy creatures and perilous people, is a remarkable place in itself, the Mad Hatter surely stands as a balanced representative of Wonderland. Blending the theatrical nature with a bit of short-lived solemnity, it is truly undoubtful that the Mad Hatter is a marvelous character!

The Ponaganset Middle School Drama Club performs Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland at Ponaganset High School on February 8th and 9th. Tickets are on sale now! If you would like to purchase your own, visit the provided link below! But in the meantime, have a very merry unbirthday, and we’ll see you at the show!





You may not know it, but the world is going through a plastic waste crisis. The US alone wastes millions of plastic straws every day! Believe it or not, not all this waste goes to the dump properly. Simply put: we have a plastic problem!

According to a 2017 report published in Science Advances, more than 79% of all plastic waste ends up in landfills, or in the wild, even if you recycle. Another 12% gets burned in incinerators, adding to pollution. Unfortunately, only a remaining 9% is actually eventually recycled. Because of the way our new plastics are heated and burned, they can never truly be recycled.This results in most of the plastic ending up in our oceans essentially affecting wildlife. Scientists even discovered that the ocean has places where it is only a pit of watery litter and trash, trapped in the oceans currents. Most of it is plastic straws. The worst part is, plastic nowadays takes 500 years to decompose. After learning this, scientists knew something had to be done to prevent landfills from floating into our oceans.

Texas graduate, Christine Figgener, is believed to have started the anti-straw movement when she  posted a video of a male turtle with a plastic straw encrusted in its nostril. When the video became viral in 2015, the movement became more and more popular as people learned that these poor animals are at the mercy of our trash.

Even though you may think you do not have much of an impact on the environment because you are only one person, if we all work together we can make a difference. In fact, just recently, Seattle became the first major US city to ban plastic straws entirely. Maybe you can even encourage family and friends to reduce the use of one-time-use plastics as a New Year’s resolution.

Here are some ways you can contribute to the cause this 2019:

  • Use any type of reusable, non-plastic straw

    • stainless steel straws

    • bamboo straws

      • These even come with a handy cleaning brush!

  • Use paper straws (These take less time to decompose)

  • Use no straw at all

  • Planning a party? Why not go plastic free?

    • Instead of balloons use paper decorations!

  • Avoid snacks wrapped in plastic

This is healthier for you and your planet!

Red Carpet Dance!


On May 18, Student Council sponsored the last schoolwide dance of this school year, The Red Carpet Dance! The actual last dance of the year, the 8th grade dance, is on June 8.  It was very exciting because either I did not go to a lot of the dances this year or the dances I would have gone to were cancelled due to weather.

At the dance, there was a lot of fun stuff to do. One was that everybody got to wear a dress or fancy outfit. Most of the compliments given to Student Council were that a lot of people were dressed nicely.

Another fun sight was of course the red carpet! Everybody was able walk it before going into the room where the actual dance was held, in the cafeteria.

Student Council brought back their $1 cotton candy! There were two flavors, pink and blue. The cotton candy was so good that I bought three of them!

There were other fun things at the dance like the photo booth and tattoos! Personally, I think that the dance was a blast! It was one of my favorite dances yet, and a good way to wrap up the 2017-18 school year!

  Movie Review :

Love, Simon directed by Greg Berlanti


“Love, Simon” is a movie about a senior in high school who has a happy, healthy life with good family and friends.  In fear of destroying this nearly perfect life he has known, he has been keeping what he describes as a “huge ass,” secret for the past four years.   

The main character, Simon, played by Nick Robinson, goes onto a website after his friend Leah tells him about a student who has just posted that he is gay, anonymously.  Simon reaches out via email to the boy who calls himself “Blue.” Simon, hiding his identity under the name “Jacques,” begins to chat back and forth with “Blue” and ends up falling in love with him.   Not knowing who he is actually writing to, Simon, throughout the movie, comes up a with a theory of three different people who could possibly be “Blue”. Martin, another student, uncovers the emails and the fact that Simon is gay.  He uses this information to bully Simon into playing matchmaker between him and one of Simon’s best friends. Later on in the story, Simon fails his task. People then begin to cyber-bully Martin. Martin then becomes upset and exposes Simon’s love story with the boy named “Blue”.  

This movie helped the viewer understand the real life challenges that some people have to face when dealing with the pain of being bullied, the effects of cyber-bullying and the struggles of being accepted for who you are. We like the fact that the movie included so many real life details, and so many great actors.  The movie portrayed important themes that people who haven’t faced, need to sooner or later by watching this movie.

We did not like how the friends betrayed Simon when they found out he was gay.   We understand that they were mad at him for other reasons, for example, for lying, but they should have stood by him during this tough and emotional time.  We feel his friends were being stubborn and should have put his feelings first in this specific situation. His friends knew that Martin outed Simon out of hate.  They should have been more understanding and supportive.

The film shows the effects of bullying realistically. Also, it sensitively portrays a situation that may be happening somewhere every day.  Although the movie is rated PG13, it is worth seeing.



Housekeeping robots are in the near future!

                                                                                     CARLENA SMITH  

         With so much technology nowadays, cutting-edge discoveries are right at our fingertips. Now, word on the street says that Amazon is working to create a housekeeping robot.  

So first there was the Amazon Kindle, a convenient digital book. Next, there was  “Alexa,” a virtual assistant. More improvements have been made, and now we are already starting on the “Alexa Smart-Home,” where the digital creation will be able to run your home when your away through use of your smart-phone. The possibilities are endless.

           According to a stunning report from Bloomberg, these new smart robots are said to wash dishes and vacuum. Imagine that! You will never again have to be nagged by parents to “clean up after yourself.”  Instead you’ll simply say, “Alexa, vacuum,” and your job is complete. Easy as pie, which Alexa will also clean up. However we are years-- maybe even decades from rediscovering “Rosie” from the 1960’s and 1980’s show “The Jetson’s,” about a family living in the future.

 However, there are issues with inventing a domestic robot. Siddhartha S. Srinivasa is a professor of robotics at the University of Washington. For example, Srinivasa wants the robot to actively engage with humans in the home, like the recently featured “Alexa” does. This means scientists will have to adjust the social norms. Such a robot would have to learn how household behaviors differ from house to house., so it can be customized to the way you want things done in your house.

Also, Amazon may have trouble with privacy questions. Upon entering the owner’s home, information that may be private or that owners want to be kept may be learned by the robot. Since data from the robot will be read by Amazon, an owner’s personal data may be placed at risk.  Therefore, Amazon is still struggling to protect their user data from companies like Facebook, which is currently under fire because they did not protect their user information.

But not to worry, Srinivasa is still hopeful and certain that someday, maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday, “Rosie” will claim her fame not just as a cartoon character but as a real-life household helper!

Related image The History of Guinea Pigs

                                                                      with Taryn Cabral  


Hello, and welcome to Taryn’s history class.Today we will be discussing the history of the guinea pig.

The guinea pig was first domesticated for food as early as 5000 B.C. They were used for food by tribes in the Andean region of South America.

A guinea pig is not in the guinea family nor is it in the pig family. The rodents actually got their names possibly from sailors when they were first brought these creatures from South America and later sold them for a guinea . A guinea is a term for an old English coin that was equal to about a pound in British money.

The majestic guinea pig is not a pig as the name indicates.  It is actually a rodent.

That my friends is the history of the glorious guinea pig. Today you have learned how they got their name, that they are not from Guinea or members of  the pig family, as well as where they did first originate. Class dismissed!

Battle of the Teams!

                                                                                      CARLENA SMITH

Battle of the Teams is a nail-biting competition between the six teams in the middle school. Orange, Yellow, Purple, Red, Blue and Green. With a scavenger hunt, and spirit week leading up to it, Battle of the Teams is by far the most action-packed event of the year. On the big day of the battle, students will wear their teams colors to support their team. For example, orange team would wear their orange shirts. Students from each team will compete in fun activities against other teams.

The second annual evening of Battle of the Teams will be hosted on April 27, 2018. Taking place from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. But, the gymnasium will be open at 6:00 P.M, allowing students to decorate their team area in the gym. With a 10.00 admission fee, the cost includes a tee shirt with your teams color on it, along with two tickets. By putting your tickets in certain bins, you will have a chance to participate in the fun games. But note that each student will not participate in each game. Battle of the Teams is a good opportunity to take pride in your school and team. Hope to see you there!    May the Best Team Win!



                            (For the second time)

                                            TARYN CABRAL

Starting on Monday, April 23, through Friday, April 27, is PMS Spirit Week, for the second time.  Monday is “character day.” You can dress as a character from a book, movie, TV show, etc. Tuesday is “sports jersey day. It’s self- explanatory so I don't feel like explaining. Wednesday is “pajama day” (for the second time) and is also self explanatory. Thursday is “team wars.” Your team picks a theme and dresses as that theme. Friday is team color day, which is also self explanatory.  So show your PMS PRIDE, participate, and have fun!

By the way, this is leading up to “Battle of the Teams”!

Gypsy Moth Caterpillars

I am sure that everyone recognizes the caterpillar from the image above. A Gypsy Moth Caterpillar is an invasive species. For the past few years we have been experiencing big problems in with Gypsy Moth Caterpillars, and then when that's cleared up we need to deal with all the moths, and then worrying about touching one of the eggs every time you pick up a stick.

There is practically nothing good about these little caterpillars. They eat all the leaves on the tree until there is practically nothing there, and then they even start eating pine needles! What's just as bad is when the furs on them touch your skin.  It gives you a you have a rash that causes bad itching. I find it difficult to go outside with all the caterpillars around. Something else that's bad about Gypsy Moth Caterpillars is that their infestation even causes problems when you want to ride your bike. As you all know if you have experienced problems with the small creatures, sometimes they dangle on a long strand of silk that they are spinning. While riding, it's hard to dodge all the caterpillars, and, the next thing you know, they are in your hair, on your shirt, and on your face.

They first originated in Europe and Asia, and have lived there for thousands of years. They were introduced to North America in 1868 or 1869 by Leopold Trouvelot. He had hoped that he would be able to use the caterpillars to make a silk industry in the United States.  I don’t think his plan worked! Fortunately, there is only one g

Rhode Island Middle School Book Awards


This March, it’s time to vote for Ponaganset Middle School’s favorite book!  The books are the Rhode Island Middle School Book Award nominees. To vote, you must have read 3 of the books.  Here are the nominees you can choose from:

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

Beneath by Roland Smith

Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Drowned City by Don Brown

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Nest by Kenneth Oppel

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

# Respect



Last Friday, in all advisories, we pledged to end the use of hurtful words, as we watched a video put together by the Unified basketball/ Cheer teams. Last Monday, we all signed a banner with “#RESPECT” written on it.   By signing this, we pledged to spread the word, to end the disrespectful word. We are showing respect to others by using kind words about others instead of hurtful ones.

You may also spot another banner with the word “UNITY” located near the stairs. This banner has the handprints of the team printed around the perimeter. It symbolizes how we should all come together, as one, and support each other. Unified Basketball/Cheer wants to show us that we should put aside our differences, and act as one. We should be kind and support each other. So let’s all come together and end the use of hurtful words. Go Unified!  


Can Slime Be Dangerous?


Slime is one of the strange fads of this year and last year. However, slime isn't always the playful slime you play with. The slime you know is a substance made usually with glue, shaving cream, tide (or borax) and that is similar to oobleck(A substance that acts as a solid when impacted with something and acts as a liquid when in impact with something slow).

Most people play with their slime on their dinner table, yes, tide or borax, on your hands, on your dinner table, sounds safe? First of all, that slime could get in your food, and then guess what, that could lead to death. Well, if you eat enough at least. I’ll put it this way, don't eat tide or borax! Also, kids have burned, yes burned, their hands because of allergies to tide or borax. “Hey, let's go play with some slime! Ah! My hand is turning red! My skin! Help!” Wonder what would happen if someone ate it.

An 11-year-old girl once got severe burns from the borax in slime, but what happens if you eat it? Ingesting a lot of slime will lead to an experience of toxic reaction, mainly because of the borax. Sound fun? Slime seems pretty dangerous. However, there are slimes that are not dangerous and can even be edible.        

All that was a type of slime, what if slime can be more dangerous, kill people. In fact, what if slime was a mold? Guess what, it is! Slime mold is a name given to several kinds of unrelated eukaryotic organisms that can be single cells or can aggregate together to make a multicellular reproductive structures. I know, I know, I'm a geek. There are over 900 species of this “slime” in the world. These organisms feed off of microorganisms on dead plants, and some bacteria. These “slimes”  are usually found in soil, lawns, and forest floor.

So, what did we learn today? We learned that slime can burn your hands, and there is other types of slime that eat and kill bacteria. So, slime sounds like a extremely safe and fun thing *wink* *wink*.


Works Cited

Snopes (https://www.snopes.com/slime-health-risks/) and Introduction to the “Slime

           Molds” (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/protista/slimemolds.html)

This issue of the POST is edited by:  THOMAS JAQUES



Almost every child has experienced bullying before in there life. Most bullies are people who have low self-esteem. Self-esteem is the amount of confidence that someone has for themselves. If someone has low self-esteem they may start picking on somebody else. The reason that they do this is because they try to make someone else feel worse than they themselves feel and make the bully feel better about themselves.

There are several non-violent ways that you can approach a bully that can make them stop. By using these methods, it would then get the bully to back off. The reason it would is it would then make it so there is no point in them picking on you anymore, because a bully would most likely go for someone who is shy or quiet.

One way you can stop them is by just ignoring them. If you have no response, then they would see no point in picking on you anymore and they would stop after a bit. Another way to stop the issue is to try and be a little stern, and to show more confidence. With this the bully may feel small, and leave you alone. Another approach is to just pretend it was nothing for example when they tell you something mean, just say something like, “Thats nice”, in a kind tone of voice, and they will find that it is no fun to bully you, and stop. If someone ever physically hurts you, I recommend you go to a teacher or any other trusted adult immediately.

A New Art: Olympic Style-Speed Tears up the Rink


Image 1: Thomas Hong (right) gets low to the ice for his short-track event last month at the Olympic trials. He also sports a suit that aims to help Hong go faster by reducing resistance, known as drag, from the air. Photo from: U.S. Speedskating

When you tune into the 2018 Winter Olympics in the next week or 2, you'll see plenty of painstakingly picked pieces of clothing. In some cases, the outfits do more than just make competitors look snazzy: They can actually help them go faster.                                                                                                                Photo from: U.S. Speedskating

You'll notice such high-tech duds during speed-skating events, where athletes zip around ice rinks. It takes a lot of coordination to pick up speed while balancing on a blade — especially in short-track events, where skaters race all at once in a pack that is prone to painful pileups. So every sliver-of-a-second counts.

But how can a suit speed you up?

Wave your hand around. You might feel some air blowing past you, but you probably don't feel that it's slowing you down. Imagine doing the same thing in a pool. You would feel resistance from the water. That's called drag. Air drags on you less than water, but drag it does.

Unfortunately for speed skaters, the human body isn't especially aerodynamic, which means we're not good at moving through air without encountering drag. Even strands of hair can catch air and slow us down. That's why swimmers often shave their bodies. It makes them better at slipping through water.

A skater's suit covers the body so that lumpy, bumpy skin isn't getting dragged through the air. Smooth surfaces such as nylon and spandex make the body sleeker, which makes it more aerodynamic.

Many countries, including the United States, take that idea even further.

When designers at Under Armour crafted the U.S. suits for 2014, they spent more than two years testing more than 100 kinds of fabric in about 250 combinations. Using different materials meant designers had to be strategic about sewing them together. They did not want any bulging seams to increase a skater's drag. They also wanted to minimize friction, or the force of two surfaces rubbing against each other. That way, skaters lost less speed as their thighs moved past each other and when their arms rubbed against their bodies.

Designers at Under Armour also added tiny bumps to their speed-skating suits. That sounds like it would increase drag, but those ridges keep skaters speedy for the same reason that golf balls whiz through the sky: The air above each dimple forms a little whirlpool, spinning quickly. That makes the surface move through the air as if it is on ball bearings! This adds a tiny lick of speed.

Despite all that work, Under Armour's 2014 speed-skating suits didn't get much praise. In fact, the designs received some of the blame when U.S. skaters performed poorly. Most experts say the outfits weren't responsible for those lagging times. Still, athletes were so worried about it that the team switched to old suits for the rest of their events.

That just goes to show how important comfort and confidence are to performance. Norway's team recently announced that its members would be wearing blue suits because they skated faster in them than red ones. Unless they're bluffing, the only explanation for that improvement is that they simply feel faster in blue — which could make them skate faster.

So when you watch your favorite winter event, take a moment to appreciate the gold medalist's fashion choices. They’re probably the result of years of research.

Groundhog Day: True or false?