Around the World for Two Years: Former Granite Hills student joins Peace Corps

Austin Dickman

Staff Writer

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Krista Rayl doing various things in Vanuatu

Krista Rayl, who graduated from Granite Hills High School in 2006, joined the Peace Corps with her husband Carl and is being stationed in Vanuatu for two years with a job in education. Vanuatu is a Pacific Island nation located near Australia, and the national language is Bislama, which is a blend of English and French. Krista and Carl conducted a question-and-answer session with freshmen interested in learning more about the Peace Corps and life on Vanuatu. Their questions and answers are below the cut.


Thank you all very much for your great questions! We took our time to give you thoughtful answers. If you have any follow up questions, feel free to email me back! I wrote most of the answers to the questions, but you can see that I labeled where Carl and I have separate answers.

During training, we didn’t have much wifi, but now that we are at our site, and have a little more reliable wifi, I will try to start posting to my Instagram: @ThePeaceWireProject


A question by Michael Keena : How was the transportation to Vanuatu?

There were 38 of us new Peace Corps Vanuatu Volunteers. We took a large plane from LAX to Aukland, New Zealand, where we connected to an Air Vanuatu flight to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. The LAX to Aukland flight was a very long 13 hours, and I wish I had a neck pillow, but thank goodness for headphones and movies on flights now-a-days! I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller, which was a great inspirational travel movie. The Aukland to Port Vila flight was only four hours, and it was gorgeous view during the landing in green tropical paradise.

Devin Walter asks: What are some similarities between Vanuatu and the U.S?

Hmm. Good question because there aren’t many similarities. This is what we compiled:

-People drive on the same side of the road as in the U.S.

-Surf clothing brands like Quicksilver and Billabong are very popular.

-In the larger villages / small towns in Vanuatu people, I’ve heard people listen to similar popular music like in the U.S. like country, indie, pop-music, and more. As I am writing this, I can hear my host brother playing Let Her Go by Passenger.

-Soccer and volleyball are popular sports to watch and play.

-If Vanuatu could be like any U.S. state, then it would be most like Hawaii. The climate is tropical, very lush and green, with lots of palm trees, similar to Hawaii, but Vanuatu is hotter and more humid. Pacific Island culture is pretty relaxed and laid back. Everyone in Vanuatu wears flip flops, and a lot of people boat around.

How do you travel from island to island? (Brianna Matlock)

It depends. From the capital, Port Vila, to our site, Luganville, we can take a one hour plane ride. Although, planes are expensive and have tall fees for extra kilograms over the baggage limit. There is also a ferry service, that a lot of people use, which takes about 22 hours from Port Vila to Luganville. I chose to take the ferry because that was the cheapest and easiest way to get our belongings to site.

If you are traveling to closely inner islands, you can take smaller boats which range from 3-10 meters (approximately 10–33 feet) for 200 Vatu (about $2.00 USD). On the smaller islands, sometimes there are no trucks, so people walk everywhere.

Where are you staying in Vanuatu? What is it like? (Lexi Reyes)

Our site is called Santo East School, in Luganville, on the island of Santo. Luganville is Vanuatu’s second largest village, with a population of 13,000, and our school is actually one of the largest in Vanuatu with 1,300 students ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 13. Carl and I are living on the school campus in a house. There are 7 other teachers living on the campus too. We are very fortunate to be in a unique situation. Since we are in a larger area, we have amenities like electricity, running water, gas stove, and a refrigerator. We also have a traditional “bush kitchen,” or outdoor kitchen, where we cook over an open fire. In our backyard we have many fruit trees like banana, mango, papaya, avocado, and breadfruit. Also, we live right next to a coconut plantation. We are enjoying our site so far!

How is daily life in Vanuatu? (Juan Barragan)

Daily life in Vanuatu is very simple. “Island Time” is always an excuse for being late. Most people don’t have watches. For example, our cultural night in one of the training villages was supposed to start at 6:00pm, but the event didn’t begin until 8:00pm. You just have to relax and go with the flow. People are very nice. If you are on your way somewhere, but someone stops to talk to you, it is culturally acceptable to chat and be late to your event, then to stop the conversation to make it to your event on time.

And how is the climate? (Juan Barragan)

It is very tropical, green, and beautiful here. The climate is very hot and humid during the summer. Since Vanuatu is in the southern hemisphere, the summer months are January, February, and March. You can expect temperatures between 24-29 degrees Celsius (75-85 Fahrenheit) with 80-100% humidity. Ocean water temperatures range from 27-32 degrees Celsius (80-90 Fahrenheit). Summer time is also the rainy season. Because of El Nino this year, it has been unusually dry here, but still Vanuatu’s dry season gets more rain than San Diego. On average, in the dry season, Vanuatu gets 6 inches per month, and the wet season gets 13 inches per month.

How is the Internet in Vanuatu? (Juwan Dennis)

Vanuatu is up-and-coming in the digital world, and universal access is on the horizon. The two cell phone companies are Digicel and TVL. Some people are starting to use smart phones with 3G, but most people have 2G. You can find internet at various hotels and restaurants in Port Vila and Luganville, but still the wifi is not as strong as what we’re used to in the US. The Universal Access Policy in Vanuatu has a goal to have 98% coverage in voice, data, and the internet by Jan 1, 2018.

What is it like being immersed in another culture? What have you learned from it?

(Verna Nooh)

Krista: It’s a good feeling to be immersed and learn a new way of life. I’ve seen how people can own so little, and are extremely happy. I admire how Ni-Van, the people of Vanuatu, live very simply, and I admire how savvy they are working with the land to build houses from local materials or gardening so they can eat.

Being immersed in another culture is a very eye-opening experience. A goal of the Peace Corps is to integrate into society by making friendships, speaking the local language, and living like the local people. We had cross-cultural training on these topics, but I also like to watch and learn. My current motto is, “When in Vanuatu, do as the Ni-Van do!” For example, I wear culturally appropriate clothing by dressing in the local style. I wear dresses or skirts that are at or below the knee.

I have learned that it is important to respect the people and cultures of other places. Even when traveling to other countries for a short time, I will continue to research unspoken rules, appropriate manners, including appropriate clothing style, and do my best to learn essential language phrases.

Carl: I have learned that things are not weird, they are just different. I have learned to be more patient. I feel lucky to have grown up in the United States and have the opportunity to go to good schools.

Are there any major differences between their culture and ours? (Yuma Santos)

Krista: A big difference I have noticed is how children are very independent from a young age. For example, I saw five-year-olds carrying around bush knifes! The first time I saw that, I’m sure my jaw dropped! Bush knives look like machetes or pirate swords, and they range from 53-73 cm (21-29 inches). I learned quickly that they are tools used in the kitchen, in the garden, and for clearing brush. Everyone of all ages knows how to use them. My host family trained me, and now I can crack open coconuts using a bush knife!

Another major difference is the clear jobs for men and women. The women cook, clean, weave baskets, matts, and natangura roofs (woven palm frond roofs). Then men go fishing, clear brush to build the gardens, and build the houses.

What is the most interesting thing you have seen or done? (Elena Manzo)

Krista: Another good question. I’ve assisted in killing a chicken, taken a shower in the warm rain, climbed coconut trees, and snorkeled in the most beautiful and colorful reef I have ever seen. It’s also very interesting to watch the local women balance large baskets of food or buckets for washing on their heads.

Carl: One of my favorite memories is spearfishing at night with the local men. I caught a pufferfish, and then my host family taught me the right way to clean and prepare the meat to eat. Another interesting thing we did is when our host family took a boat across to the main island, we hiked 30 minutes into the bush, and I cleared the tall grasses and thick brush to help build a garden.

How is the food in Vanuatu compared to America? (Ariana Sotoahou)

In America, there is a lot more variety of different cultural foods. In Vanuatu, most everyone eats local foods such as tropical fruits, vegetables, coconuts, and lap lap, which is the national dish of vanuatu. Lap lap’s main ingredient is grated manioc, bananas, or yam. It is smothered in coconut cream and baked in banana leaves with hot stones.

Also, all the fruits and veggies are seasonal. Depending on the season, I eat a lot of papaya, bananas, mango, and avocados.

Sadly, there are no Mexican restaurants or taco shops here. Fortunately, I thought ahead and brought cumin and pepper spices from home, which are in most Mexican dishes. I’ve made everything from scratch, including tortillas, refried beans, enchilada hot sauce, burritos, tacos, and guacamole. Satisfied my Mexican food craving and introduced foods from home to my host family — check check.

Other information: Training

I’ll give you a little more background of our last few months of training. There were 38 of us new Peace Corp Vanuatu Trainees. Twenty-two health volunteers, and 16 education volunteers. We arrived in Vanuatu on January 24, 2016. Right away we began our ten weeks of Peace Corps Training which consisted of Bislama language, cross-cultural, health, safety, and technical training sessions. We split up into the ‘health group’ and ‘education group’ for more specific training sessions.

The group of education trainees spent three weeks in our first training village and then four weeks at our second training village. Our first training village was called Epau, on the island of Efate. Most of our time here was in technical training sessions for our education position and also classes on learning Bislama, the national language of Vanuatu. We lived with a host family, but in our own custom house, that looks like a hut, made with woven palm fronds.

The second training village was called Tassariki, on Moso Island, which was a ten minute boat ride from the island of Efate. We lived in with another host family, but this time in their house in our own bedroom. Here we did cross-cultural training such as, cut firewood, fish, garden, cook local foods, and storian (Vanuatu’s favorite pastime of story telling). Also, our education group was very lucky to accomplish two real projects during this time. The first project was to help the community build a library. The men in the village did the labor, and our group organized and labeled books, created posters, and found a librarian. I quickly sketched out a floor plan of where the windows and bookshelves should be and the local men made it come to life! Our second project was a resources for teachers and student activity book, to accompany a book of stories from Vanuatu. Both of these projects turned out amazing, especially in the short four weeks that we had, and we were happy with the results.

On April 1, 2016 our group swore in, changing our title from Peace Corps Trainees to official Peace Crop Volunteers! It was an amazing accomplishment thus far, after 14 years of having Peace Corps on my bucket list, and now making it through the 10 weeks of training.

There is still two years and much to do before I can completely mark it off my bucket list. We are currently working on integrating into our permanent site here at Santo East School. We are getting to know the students, teachers, and other staff. Also, we have met quite a few people from the surrounding community. Integration is our main goal for the next three months. It is important to get to know the community first and understanding their needs before we can dive into our project goals. Over the next two years, our three education project goals are:
1. Improve Student Learning,
2. Improve ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Training, and
3. Develop ICT Resources for Primary and Secondary School Communities & Provincial Centre

Bislama: The national language of Vanuatu

Bislama is pidgin English and French. Pidgin develops when many different languages and cultures are mixed, usually in isolated plantation nations, and people need to communicate with each other. Here are some Bislama greetings and introductions:


Halo! Hello!
Olsem wanem? How are you?
I stret It’s good
Gud aftanun, wanem nem blong yu? Good afternoon. What is your name?
Nem blong mi… My name is…
Yu blong wea? Where are you from?
Mi blong… I’m from…
Mi glad tuma blong mitim yu! It was nice to meet you!


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Cutting out the stigma of veganism


Kendall Branton –

   We all know that one vegan who judges people for eating meat. Vegans have a bad reputation because of the few activists who compare killing animals to killing people. But do vegans actually have a good reason to be annoying? To a lot of people, veganism seems like some mumbo jumbo hippie thing to do just to be noticed. But, as research shows, the world needs to be cutting down on meat consumption. Here’s why.

  As it turns out, meat consumption leads to massive amounts of deforestation. According to the Vegan Society, in Brazil alone, it takes 5.6 million acres to grow beans for animals. In order to feed the animals that feed us, we destroy habitats. The crops and water required to feed animals takes up space and food; food that could be used to feed the people that need it.

  Raising food for animals not only takes up land and food, but it also causes pollution. According to The Guardian, the red meat industry requires 160 times more land and produces 11 times more greenhouse gasses than the potato, wheat, or rice industry.

  So, what do we do with this information? The bad news is that going vegan means no eating chicken nuggets. The good news is that veganism is actually fairly cheap and easy to maintain. Some of the most accessible vegan foods in the grocery store, such as beans, rice, and potatoes, are cheap and nutritious. The best foods to eat to keep up on protein include tofu and nuts, which are also cheap.

  It’s understandable that not all people can go vegan or vegetarian. However, it’s clear that we need to at least make an effort to cut down on meat consumption.

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Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Mariana Lopez-

  Valentine’s Day is yet another odd and overly confusing, (why-are-we-celebrating-this?) type of holiday. It is a day where one literally cashes out to buy the most extravagant gifts for their loved ones, only to have some people throw it back in their face. It’s a pointless holiday to celebrate and will only lead to a stressful day as you try and find the “perfect gift” to show how much you love or care for someone. Just a penny for your thoughts here: shouldn’t we be celebrating the love we have for someone every day, and not just once a year?

  The roots behind Valentine’s Day might come across as quite a shock to many who celebrate this holiday. The origin of Valentine’s Day flourishes upon many myths and legends, but the real story takes place in the Roman festival of Lupercalia. This festival was celebrated for 800 years by the Romans on February 15th.

   The most disgusting and derogative thought about this festival, was that men would draw the names of women in a lottery and use them as a “sexual companion.” Pope Gelasius I then had both men and women pull names from the lottery, and also called the day Valentine (hence Valentine’s Day). Yet, the men still seek the affections of women.

   People do not bother to mention the minor detail that women were used as sex companions for men. No, people only want to hear the romantic bits. The reality is that the history behind Valentine’s Day is dreadful, and there is no real point or purpose behind this holiday, if it is even considered one!

   Not only is it a dreadful day to celebrate in honor of nothing, but it can be stressful with money, or hours spent trying to find the right gift for him or her. Did you know that Americans spend a total of 17.6 billion dollars for the holiday? There is no reason for this day to be stressful at all! Get creative with the things that you find lying around your house. For some gift motivation, write a heartfelt letter instead of buying a cheesy card at the store. The more time and appreciation you put into your gift, the more it will show to that special someone the effort and love you put into it. It’s worse if you end up spending loads of money on a gift that the person would hate and throw in your face (it’s happened), and feel hopeless afterwards.

  So please, cheer up and think that special gift through once or twice. Because although there is no logical reason to celebrate this holiday, it is still a holiday that many people across the world celebrate with their loved ones. Just keep in mind that we should always care for and love that special someone each and every day, as if Valentine’s Day was every day and not just once a year.

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Oh Snapchat!

  Are you or someone you know obsessed with snapchat? Are adults insultingly hissing “millennial” at you as you take a selfie and put on just the right filter? You should embrace this new age… but here are a few signs that you’re obsessed. Checking your snapchat every time you unlock your phone. Having large streaks or knowing the meaning of all the friend emojis. Lastly, immediately checking new areas for different geofilters or making your own for a place that doesn’t have one.

  However, the reason snapchat is so appealing is because of the fact that there is no social pressure. There’s no likes, no comments just views. It’s the place now. Instagram is getting a bit too old for some people. I hate to say it, Snapchat is the hottest thing out and it’s where all your friends are constantly checking. They may check Instagram once or twice a day but they’re checking Snapchat 20 times a day. You also know who’s watching. During high school, people like to feel cool and knowing who saw your post gives people 10x more confidence because they know if the person they wanted to see their post, saw it.

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Ignorance on social media

  The definition of ignorance: A Granite Hills student’s Twitter post. The amount of hate and stupidity spread around social media is mind boggling. From politics and opinions of LGBT community and opinions on anything in life, the ignorance is unreal.

  Politics is always a touchy subject. People are allowed to have personal opinions but keep it to yourself people. No one cares how much you love Trump or how much you hate Hillary Clinton and vice versa. It’s okay to retweet the occasional funny picture of a canidate every once and a while but when all you post and retweet are things concerning politics, it starts to get old really fast. It’s really irritating to see everyone’s postings on social media about politics because that is not what social media is for. Social media was made for interacting with friends not for spreading your opinions.

  If you must post someting on social media at least make sure that it’s at least an educated opinion. Most of the stuff I notice that is posted is totally uneducated. Whether or not I agree with your opinion, at least make sure what your post is actually accurate otherwise you look like a fool.

  Posting hate on social media is not a cute look either. When people post anti-LGBT things it is the most ignorant thing you can do. It’s 2016 people you really don’t need to be posting anti-LGBT anymore. You lost the argument anyways, so why post more and more hate?

  Posting anything contreversial on social media is ignorant. No matter what you post it most likely offends somebody. Again, social media is not for opinions, it is for interacting with friends. Whether you are right or wrong, the act of posting something in and of itself is ignorant. You have to know that what you post will offend somebody and cause some kind of drama. It is ignorant to think that posting that kind of stuff is okay. It’s never okay.

  Please do yourself a favor and don’t post opinions. It will save yourself from sounding like an ignorant fool.

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Eagles say goodbye to Sherri Allen

  Johnny Burke-

   The lights are down in confusion as to what happened recently with the drama teacher Sherri Allen. She had left Granite to teach again at Mira Costa College with her previous job with slight better pay.

  The temporary teachers for the elective classes are Janessa Nadeau for Theatre, and Gerald Lopez for Tech Theatre, “It’s just part of the job, you need to know to teach anything,” Lopez said.

  The absence of Allen continues to be disappointing but she left with a good heart. She had loved teaching high school students and had an everyday positive attitude. The majority of the students currently in her classes or those who have experienced both sets of teachers agree that the transition is new. Some like and some dislike the change. Having to learn how these new teachers instruct and having to change their habits from what Allen taught is difficult.

  For now Lopez and Nadeau will fill in the roles for the semester and hopefully by next school year, the office will find and hire a permanent teacher that fills the Granite Hills requirements, positive and able to work with students, but a chance for Nadeau and Lopez to remain as Theatre staff is in the cloud of suggestions. “If we determine that we are going to offer a section of any course then teacher’s contract issues and qualifications comes into play in the master schedule. Then by all means current teachers can apply.” Dale Sheehan assistant Principal said.

  As far as the tension behind the curtain, Allen had two choices, stay at Granite and lose a job opportunity that she really wanted back, or return to Mira Costa with her previous job title. The spot was in a first come come first serve moment, if Allen did not leave now she would not have gotten the job at all.

  The good news in the end for those heads that are truly down in despair is that the school year’s theatre events are still in motion to happen, just shown in a different spotlight.

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An Apology to Our Readers

Dear Readers,


We have heard from many of you regarding the January 28 article entitled “omg look at the presidential lineup lol.”  Many of our readers are angry at reading sexist and racist opinions in the Opinions section of a school newspaper.  This is a valid concern, and we appreciate that there is outrage out there when racist and sexist statements are made.  


The article was intended to be read as satire.  Satire means that the writer ridicules a subject in order to highlight a social ill.  One tool of satire is using logic of an argument in an unrealistic fashion as if the writer believes in the logic.  In this case, the writer felt that, in the course of this presidential election, some candidates are appealing to an ignorant, sexist, and racist attitudes in an attempt to get votes.  In order to highlight these social ills of racism, sexism, and ignorance, the writer assumed the voice of such a voter and discussed the candidates.


Unfortunately, the article was not labeled satire, and newspapers are not normally the medium for satire.  Thus, it is natural for students to read the article and think that the story is promoting sexist and racist thoughts.  For this, we are truly sorry.  In actuality, the writer is in agreement with those the writer put into a rage.  



Jill Bhowmik

Adviser of The Clarion

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Bipartisanship is a lost art

Marco Barron Web Editor

   You search up the New York Times. Looking through the front page, you find it. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are at it again.

   Conservative news outlets of all kinds publish these news stories, offending large amounts of logical people and giving no respect to the politically liberal. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are just a few of the most sensationalist republicans who couldn’t care about the American people when the entire basis of their campaign rests on pleasing the American people.

  The best way to prove this is to point to conservative news websites. I’ve never been a fan of the political right or left but especially the right. So when Rush Limbaugh’s website posts a graphic of Bernie Sander’s logo, spoofed with the words “Commie 2016” and a picture of Sander’s face in the zero and a hammer and sickle over the “i”, I get offended. First of all, how dare they use the term “Commie.” Bernie Sanders is a self-described socialist, thank you very much. Second of all, how dare they have the nerve, as a politically and socially conservative webiste (who are well under the purviews of their first amendment rights to a free press) only tell one side of the story. Limbaugh explicitly takes a conservative viewpoint on his stories but he needs to acknowledge the other side; the liberal side which is consistently ignored by him.

  It’s ego. Ego and pride are the virtues of conservative know-it-alls. Ego allows you to ignore the other side of Congress and feel good about it while you let school after school become overwhelmed with gun violence. It is what allows you to repeatedly appeal Obamacare even after multiple studies show it’s a good thing helping real working poor people.

  In an era where our government needs to decide the future of our country, we need bipartisanship. This doesn’t matter to Donald Trump in an era where it must matter. By appealing to the most extreme right people, Trump and Cruz are alleniating nearly everyone in the U.S. He’s apealing to the rich, white people of the country and its working. Somewhat.

  And then a realization hit me. This is how you win elections. Tell all the lies…I mean all truthful facts. Be arrogant, fight hard against those liberal hippies who don’t want a free energy market. Fight against those liberals who don’t want a free market economy and maybe, win an election while you’re at it. Tell completley truthful facts that have little to no basis in fact whatsoever and on your path to victory in the whitehouse, throw a few shots at your party as well. Even if Trump does have some, albeit few, good ideas about how to run the country, his total disrespect for, pretty much every minority you could think of, is what draws the line.

  Our country must not find a balance. We must not allow ego and pride to get in the way of bipartisanship in Congress. Donald Trump and most republicans are like the blob, gathering hate from unsuspecting people and becoming stronger and stronger from it until one day, poof. He’s won a fake model of the White House.  

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Minimum Wage is Necessary

Skylar Webb Staff Writer

   As many working students of Granite Hills may know, minimum wage went from $9 to $10 an hour. For students like me this is very nice because it puts some extra money in my pocket.

  I work anywhere from 2-4 days a week and 13-20 hours. For me and other students having a job is nice. I started paying for things myself and helping out my family. But for adults working minimum wage, it’s not enough to support a family.

  Over half of minimum wage workers are women and single mothers. Many adults working full time are in poverty and this is not okay. Single mothers sometimes have to work two jobs to support their family and that still isn’t enough. Raising minimum wage is a very big issue with the presidential candidates, and some say it would not be okay to raise it to $15 an hour, but if you think about it, that would help out many families. For someone working full time with a family that can not pay all their bills, it would be just enough for rent. If a mother and father have a child and they both work full time for a job with minimum wage, they still will not be able to pay all of their bills. Some cities like LA and San Francisco have raised minimum wage to $15 an hour and have seen a significant difference.

  People are worried that raising minimum wage would hurt America because a lot of things would go up in price. But come on, are people really worried about the price of their Starbucks coffee going up when there are families struggling to make ends meet?

  Minimum wage has killed America. It’s created fights in the government and job losses for millions of Americans. Families have lost their homes from this money crisis. This country has rich people going out and buying fancy cars and fancy clothes while there are people struggling to get food on the table.

  The bottom line is raising minimum wage to $15 an hour would be the least this country could do.

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Spotlight is a must see movie

Savannah Siebert                                                                                                                Staff Writer 

  The movie Spotlight, based on a true story, is a film that is a must see. This film is about a team of journalists who are a part of “spotlight,” an investigative part of the newspaper. They are in Boston and write for the Boston Globe. This team of journalists embark on an investigation of the Catholic priests in Boston who are being accused of molestation of children in the church. Mind you, this movie is rated R, but it’s still an important and interesting story to be told and watched by people of appropriate ages.

   This movie has an all-star cast which made the movie even better to watch. It stars Michael Keaton, whom you may know as our beloved Beetlejuice, Rachel McAdams, who is our queen-bee Regina George, and Mark Ruffalo, who is Hulk. This cast did a fantastic job and really brought the movie to life. I’m predicting Oscar nominations.

     Spotlight is a 10/10 great movie. Though I warn you that some of the things talked about are horrible disgusting things the priests did, making it hard to watch some parts. But that stuff needed to be talked about to give the audience a full understanding of what these Catholic priests did and what the Catholic Church did to cover it up. Go see it for yourself, unless of course you are under 17.

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