The Buccaneer The Student News Site of WC Mepham High School Mon, 31 May 2021 19:25:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Get to Know Mepham’s 2021 Valedictorian Mon, 31 May 2021 19:25:27 +0000 Who is Mepham’s #1 student? What makes the valedictorian tick? Meet Mepham’s valedictorian, Max Luft, to understand his journey to academic success.


JC: Describe your high school journey to becoming valedictorian.


ML: Becoming valedictorian was always at the back of my head as early as 6th grade. I always revelled in the idea of being named the “smartest person” in school although that was from the view of a naïve child and not understanding the complexity of how one can define “smartness.” However, despite this desire I never truly believed myself to be particularly capable of achieving this goal in the first two years of high school nor was I especially dedicated to achieving this title. However, I simply focused on my studies as normal, paying attention in class, doing my homework, etc. I ended up continuing my overall solid performance in school, albeit with the unjustified stress and anxiety associated with holding oneself to a high standard and not reaching that standard at all times.


JC: What was your favorite Mepham memory?


ML: My favorite Mepham memory that’s not from a class would most likely be badminton. I think the one specific memory had to be our first game. We lost quite badly, but the bus ride home would not look that way from an outsider’s point of view. We were cheering and laughing and hooraying, and I don’t remember exactly why but it was infectious. I felt it in the team that we actually wanted to improve despite our loss because the games were really fun and instead of putting a damper on our moods, it did the opposite. Since we got so much inspiration out of that first match, I like to think that we actually won that game in the long run and we took a piece of their school in a sense and incorporated it into us. I think the other freshmen badminton players would agree.



JC: What was your favorite class and who was your favorite teacher at Mepham? And why?


ML: My favorite class was Calculus BC. It is a small but tight knit group, and every single person wants to be there. Because of this, as well as the natural difficulty of the class, we are all very cooperative and oftentimes work together. Ms. O’Hagan is extremely understanding and dedicated to her job, and I believe we are all extremely grateful for her. Picking a favorite teacher is quite difficult as I have enjoyed almost all of my teachers. If I would have to pick just one teacher, it would probably be Ms. Desmond. I’ve had her as a teacher for three years, and she has always been such an amazing person. I am not a particularly “artsy” student, but Ms. Desmond made me love it all the same. I don’t know where I would be without her, and she’s an amazing person to be around; I’ve shared many laughs, and my Photoshop experiments were some of the most fun I’ve had in her photo classes. She allows for such experimentation and freedom in her classroom that no other teacher replicates to the same extent, but I do want to repeat that she is just one of a multitude of amazing teachers I’ve had at Mepham.I truly believe they are all great.



JC: What are your plans after high school? 


ML: I am currently committed to Stony Brook University in the Honors College,and my major is shaping up to be Mathematics. I never have been particularly fond of answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” because due to my cautious nature I tend to try to leave all my doors open, so I can make the choice which I end up happiest with. This means that I still don’t know where I’m going to take my math studies in the future and how I will convert it into a career, but with an open mind and the multiple doors of possibility that I have yet to close, I know I’ll find something I love doing and that is what’s important at the end of the day.


JC: What advice do you have for underclassmen?


ML: My advice for underclassmen is to be yourself and live life as it comes, as cliché as it sounds. School isn’t worth obsessing over, and you want to enjoy your high school career. I suggest finding a healthy balance, which is different for each person. Once you find that balance, you won’t be excessively throwing away your future or your present and instead managing having a successful future while still enjoying the here and now. Valedictorian is just a word; we are all unique, yet we are all equal. It’s this beautiful paradox of us all being the same and us all being different and necessary. I don’t think I’m particularly smarter than anyone in my grade or even in this school because everyone is better at one thing or another. Because of that, all of us need to just live our lives to the best of our ability, while looking out for each other along the way. I honestly believe comparing yourself to anyone but yourself won’t get you anywhere, so it’s the best advice I can give.


We wish Max the best of luck in his future endeavors!

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Review: ‘The Vanishing Half’ Mon, 31 May 2021 19:23:56 +0000 The Vanishing Half” tells a story set in multiple towns and cities across America spanning multiple decades from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. In this novel, author Brit Bennett describes the experiences of Desiree and Stella Vignes, identical twin girls who grew up in a southern black town of which they left at the age of 16 to experience two completely different lives. Desiree spent her time in D.C. and fell in love with a black man, although she was eventually forced to return to her hometown with her young daughter. Stella, on the other hand, used her light skin to pass as a white person and spent most of her life hiding her true identity from her husband while living in a white suburban town. They remained estranged until the lives of their daughters, Jude and Kennedy, began to intercept.


Overall, this novel is wonderful. All of the characters were well developed and multi-dimensional, and Bennett places each character perfectly into her settings allowing for engaging interactions. Bennett uses profound prose and realizations which cause the reader to think about the events which unfold. The story is layered with many different plot lines and filled with complexity. While this makes the story a slow read, it also adds depth to the plot and allows the reader to make a connection with the characters. However, Bennet presents so many diverse and interesting ideas that she is unable to give all of them the treatment they deserve. Some of these ideas would have been more powerful had they been expanded on or explored in their own separate story.


This book discusses a variety of important topics like racism, poverty, transgenderism, and feminism. One of the topics Brit Bennett wrote best was explaining how Jude was discriminated against in her own town because of how dark her skin was. Most of the story is set in a town that is obsessed with light skin color, and as a result, Jude was bullied throughout her childhood. The author shows how this mistreatment affects Jude even as an adult. Bennett also does an amazing job of showing the difference in wealth between the black families and the white families in the story, and how this affects the way the members of these families act and function. Lastly, Bennett incorporates discussions about gender when she talks about Resse, a transgender male character in the story, who struggles with his identity and tries to save money for surgery to transition. Resse does not just exist as a transgender person in the story, but rather this is one of many factors which contribute to his identity. And this is what makes these essential topics enjoyable to read about in this book —Bennett’s ability to weave topics into her story that contribute to the plot’s growth rather than just juxtaposing woke ideas as some stories do.

Overall, this story is great for someone who enjoys a slow read and an engaging story. 


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12-15 Year Olds Eligible for Vaccine Mon, 31 May 2021 19:22:49 +0000 Previously, COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. had been authorized only for people age 16 and older. Pfizer is the first vaccine manufacturer to gain emergency use authorization for younger Americans after it demonstrated in a March clinical trial that its vaccine was effective. Pfizer tested the effectiveness of these vaccines by performing trials on 2,300 adolescents between the ages of 12-15 by administering the vaccine and a placebo vaccine among the group. In the clinical trial, Pfizer’s vaccine was shown to protect against the virus in those who were given the actual vaccine and not the placebo. It will be administered in two doses, three weeks apart which is the same regimen that people 16 and older have been receiving. The side effects for this age group were consistent with those seen in adults.


President Joe Biden has asked states to make the vaccine available to younger adolescents since vaccines are considered important for a safe return back to schools. Widely vaccinating 12 to 18 year olds could allow U.S. schools and summer camps to relax masking and social distancing measures suggested by the CDC. While kids are less severely affected by COVID-19 than adults, there are children who do get serious cases. Data presented to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices shows that adolescents as a group, ages 12 to 17, are much more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than influenza. The analysis is based on data from flu outbreaks over the past decade. Vaccinating children protects them from serious COVID-19 infections and complications. In addition, the CDC specifies that preliminary data suggests that getting vaccinated reduces transmissibility, and the more people who are vaccinated, the less opportunity there is for the virus to replicate, circulate, and mutate, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.


This action opens vaccination to approximately 17 million adolescents in the United States and strengthens the nation’s efforts to protect even more people from the effects of COVID-19. Within one week, 600,000 12-15 year old Americans were vaccinated. U.S regulators authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be used on people as young as 12 on May 12. 


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What’s Happening in India Mon, 31 May 2021 19:22:03 +0000 India is facing the worst outbreak of Covid-19 since the pandemic started. Infections started in early March and grew rapidly. At the end of the month, the number of daily cases multiplied six times higher than at the start of the month; this rise has continued into May. For example, on March 1, there were 12,286 cases, and on May 22, there were 240,842 new cases. The second wave hit much harder and people were unprepared. New Delhi was one of the parts of India that was hit badly by the second wave. New Delhi was placed under lockdown on April 19; it has been extended several times. Hospitals across Delhi are facing oxygen shortages and because of this, many people have died. 


Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Kerala are just a few of the states and territories that have imposed local lockdown measures.  When Prime Minister Narendra Modi enacted a nationwide lockdown, migrants started fleeing from cities to their home villages in order to avoid the pain and trauma they went through a year ago. The Indian government asked the states to focus on stringent containment and public health measures, including testing, tracing and inoculations. Narendra Modi also recommended people to get vaccinated during a four-day “Tika Utsav” (special vaccination drive). On May 10, the World Health Organization classified it as a variant of concern and said that it shows a possibility of increased transmissibility. However, the WHO and the NCDC said that further research is needed, since there is not enough data to determine whether the variant is causing the rise in cases. 


Playgrounds and parking lots have turned into mass cremation grounds in the capital of New Delhi. As of May 19, there have been: 25.5 million cases, 22 million recoveries, and 283 thousand deaths. There are multiple websites that people can use to donate money to help with the shortage of medical supplies such as oxygen and vaccines. The vaccine is available in India and people are encouraged to get it; 41.6 million people have been vaccinated so far in India.

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Marvel Studios’ Marvelous Phase 4 Mon, 31 May 2021 19:15:54 +0000 Maybe you’ve been at the edge of your seat all year waiting for the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or perhaps you’ve never seen a Marvel production at all. Either way, we are all in for a massive treat with the announcement of Marvel Studios’ Phase 4 film lineup. 

After 13 years and 23 movies, Marvel Studios kicked off Phase 4 this year with a bang–with their first MCU production for the small screen, “WandaVision.” In case you didn’t know, Marvel Studios divides the MCU timeline into stages called “phases,” such as the aforementioned Phase 4, which signal a focus on a new overarching story. Following “WandaVision” was the release of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” again bringing Marvel fans to the small screen to watch the adventures of Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson in a post-Endgame world. However, Marvel Studios is now rapidly approaching their first film of Phase 4. To celebrate, they released a video sharing sneak peeks of upcoming MCU projects. 

The video begins with a series of clips from past MCU movies, as Stan Lee’s voice echoes above. “That world may change and evolve, but the one that will never change – we’re all part of one big family.” It then delves right into a new clip from “Black Widow,” generating excitement for the movie, which will finally be released in July after over a year of delays. Next up is footage from “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” another highly anticipated movie slated for release this September. 

What comes next is arguably the most exciting part of the video: a first look at “Eternals.” The clip is short–about ten seconds long–but gives us a peek of the heroes in action, lined up to face an unknown threat. “Eternals” is also a part of this year’s lineup of fall movies and features an all new team of immortal beings who have been forced out of hiding following the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Afterwards is a rapid series of eight title cards for the newly announced and upcoming movies. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (yes, that is the official title, despite the prank pulled by the actors earlier this year!) is the year’s final movie listed for December 2021, set to continue Spider-Man’s story, following the treacherous (and torturous for fans) cliffhanger left in the previous installment. 

Marvel then throws fans directly into 2022 with another whopping four movies set for release. The year starts off in March with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which will draw on plot threads left dangling from “WandaVision” and star Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and pull in new comic fan-favorite character, America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez). 

Next flashes the title card for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which was originally confirmed back in 2019. Then, two new sequel titles were announced: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (July 2022) and “The Marvels” (November 2022), the sequel to Captain Marvel. “Black Panther: WF” will not recast the character of King T’Challa after Chadwick Boseman’s passing, but will instead honor the legacy of the vibrant world of Wakanda. Meanwhile, “The Marvels” brings together heroes Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau (with her newfound powers!), and Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, who will be debuting in her own show in 2021 prior to the movie’s release. 

And as though two years of planned content was not enough, Marvel also takes us through  movies in 2023 and beyond. “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantummania” is set to be released on February 17, 2023, with Kathryn Newton joining the original cast as a grown up Cassie Lang (Ant-Man’s daughter). Soon after, on May 5, we’ll see the return of the Guardians in “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” (perhaps joined by Thor?). Lastly, Marvel Studios teased the “Fantastic Four” remake to be released sometime during or after 2023. They announced last year that “Fantastic Four” would be gracing the big screen once again, but now it is doubly confirmed! 

It is certainly an excellent time to be a Marvel fan. Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements regarding Phase 4, and see you at the theater! 

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What To Do This Summer Mon, 31 May 2021 19:04:20 +0000 Summer is a time filled with fun and enjoyable activities. Although, since the beginning of the pandemic, activities have been limited along with travel. It is easy to get bored during the summer, especially since there is no school in session and it seems like there is nothing to do. School is what keeps students busy most of the time, and without it, teens are looking for something to keep them entertained.


Some activities that adolescents can do on a nice summer day is go for a walk, ride a bike, exercise, have a picnic with friends or family, hike, go camping, take a drive to the beach, swim in a pool, shop at the mall, watch a movie or TV show, read, bake or cook, talk with friends, and more. There is so much to do during the summer to ensure that your time is well spent. A lot of teenagers also occupy their time with a summer job such as working at a camp, babysitting, working as a lifeguard, tutoring, or doing an internship. The options are endless for summertime activities; there is always something you can do to preoccupy your time and keep yourself busy. Many juniors and seniors will probably be using their free time to look at colleges and prepare for what is to come after high school.  


The end of a school year can be really stressful for students with so many AP exams, finals, and regents. But after all the testing is done, the summer can be spent relaxing and having an enjoyable time with friends and family. There might not be as much traveling for vacations like previous summers, but there is still so much to do in your own neighborhood and places to explore. 


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Outdoor Showcase Brings Music Department Back Together Mon, 31 May 2021 19:02:59 +0000 On June 1 at 7pm, members of the Mepham orchestra, band, and chorus will put on a musical showcase, which marks the first time many of the Pirates’ music students have performed live in over a year. This is the second Mepham music performance during the unorthodox 2020-2021 school year, the first being the Concert in the Courtyard in the winter. Now, more students are allowed to play together in a larger area, and most of the music students are coming together on the football field to give the Mepham community a performance they will never forget.


I reached out to band director Mr. Brandofino, choral director Ms. Dimitriou, and orchestra director Mr. Franzone to ask all the questions about their preparations for the showcase.

Mr. Brandofino

Band Director

Ms. Dimitriou

Choral Director

Mr. Franzone

Orchestra Director

How are you feeling about the showcase? “I think that this is a good way to make lemonade out of lemons. It’s an opportunity for us to have fun with what we’re doing and a way to use a performance as a fun way to kick off the summer.” “This performance is not necessarily a concert, it’s more of a showcase and a playing experience for our students. I’m excited for Mepham to allow this showcase to safely happen. It’s a great way to have our ensembles put on one last performance for the year.” “I’m really excited. This is my first performance with an ensemble as conductor. I’m excited to lead the charge with the orchestra.”
How have you prepared your performing group for the June 1 showcase? “All our groups are performing together, so it was a matter of finding music that was fun and impactful on the audience.” “For my kids, it’s been pretty crazy since we’ve had kids switch from virtual and in-person learning. I’m having both concert choirs, mixed choir, and MephAcapella prepare for this performance.” “We were planning on themed performances under Mrs. Schum, so we picked a few of our favorite pieces along the way when she was gone on maternity leave.”
What sort of music are you preparing for the showcase? “I picked ‘Siege’ because I felt that this piece has such high energy and is easy to tell a story through. ‘ABBA on Broadway’ and ‘Free Ride’ were fun and popular choices.” “All the choral groups will be performing together. We will be singing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ as a tribute for retiring superintendent Mr. DeTommaso, who is a huge Elvis fan. We will also perform ‘Rainbow’ with Kasey Musgraves, and I love the beautiful message this song has. Finally, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a great sendoff to seniors, and some of our seniors will have solos.” “We will be playing an exciting piece from the group Black Violin first. Next, we will play a piece called ‘Waltz for the Wicked,’ which is perfect for a high school orchestra. Our students are excited to play ‘You Say Run’ from the anime ‘My Hero Academia,’ and it is a popular choice in our class.”
How have you adapted to changes in the music department for the 2020-2021 school year? “We have taken so many steps as far as sanitation, using cleaning mist and bell covers to keep everything safe. I’m glad we don’t have to have to use individual tents for each player!” “There’s changes that have happened for the music department since the first day of school. Our department has done such a great job with distance changes and singing and playing with masks.” “As a first-year teacher, it was difficult to find the way at times. With orchestra, it was easiest to adapt to the changes, since we don’t need much breath support for our instruments. Social distancing has been easy for us, and staying 6 feet apart was easy for a spread-out room.”
How are you going to make your group perform in the safest way possible outdoors? “We will be playing at 6 feet apart and have a limited audience. We will space out the performers and play at the current safety measures.” “There is much planning behind this performance, much more than for a normal concert. Working with the different groups to experiment with outdoor acoustics has been a challenge, but we’re adapting.” “We will all be spaced out and wearing masks. Microphones will be used to amplify our sound even more. I don’t see much change for the spacing, since that’s what the orchestra students are used to.”


Because of safety measures for COVID, only four guests can come to the showcase per student performer. For those who are not able to attend, BMB will livestream the showcase on their YouTube page at The June 1 music showcase is an event the entire Mepham community, especially the music department, is super excited about.

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Netflix’s “Shadow and Bone” Review Mon, 31 May 2021 18:59:28 +0000 On April 23, the Netflix series “Shadow and Bone” was released to the world and is now the number one most watched show in the US on Netflix. This show has been long-anticipated by many viewers who are fans of the book series that the show is based off of known as “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows.” “Shadow and Bone” combines these two book series by Leigh Bardugo that are set in the same fictional universe and creates a new storyline that incorporates elements from each of the books, and a new plot to follow. 

One aspect that I personally enjoyed when watching “Shadow and Bone” was getting to see the beloved book characters come to life on screen. The show follows Alina Starkov, an orphan girl who finds out she possesses incredible powers, and her journey to try and save her country, Ravka, from being torn in two by a place known as the Shadow Fold. Alina starts out the series joining the King’s army with her childhood best friend and fellow orphan Mal, and eventually after her powers are revealed, she is sent to the Little Palace, where she trains to become a Grisha soldier. At the Little Palace, Alina meets the Darking, who is another central character in the show and the leader of the Grisha army. Additionally while all this action is occurring in Ravka, Ketterdam, located in another country in this fictional universe, is housing its own set of villains and criminals. “Shadow and Bone” also showcases the characters from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows novel, which focuses on Kaz Brekker, who runs a criminal empire in the slums of Ketterdam. He is in a gang with Inej, a spy known as the Wraith, and Jesper, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are tasked to find and kidnap Alina Starkov from Ravka for a million dollars. The plot definitely runs thick in this series, with Alina dealing with the threat of the Shadow Fold in Ravka, and Kaz and his gang trying to plot a heist and give Alina away to the highest bidder. 

“Shadow and Bone” allured me right from the beginning, and I was able to watch all eight episodes over the course of two days. I loved watching all of the action that takes place throughout the series. There is always something going on in each episode, whether it’s learning the backstories of each of the characters, or watching the central characters make multiple trips into the Shadow Fold. The show is also very interesting because of the interactions between the six main characters. In the books, Alina, the Darkling, and Mal never meet Kaz, Inej, and Jesper, so it was very surreal and entertaining to see all these different characters interacting with each other, and the storylines that ensued. I thought that these scenes were the best in the entire show, and definitely made the show special for readers of both “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows.”

If you are interested in nonstop action mixed with comedic relief, love triangles and romance, and fantasy, then I definitely recommend watching “Shadow and Bone” on Netflix. 

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Why the SAT is removing their essay section Wed, 05 May 2021 18:36:06 +0000 Why is the SAT taking away their essay section completely? In January, the College Board announced that they will be getting rid of the optional essay section from the SAT in addition to the SAT subject tests by June 2021. This announcement was made due to the display of students’ abilities to take a standardized test since the Covid-19 pandemic. Students have had to adapt to the new changes and restrictions put in place due to the pandemic. 


The College Board has decided to adjust to these challenging times by making adjustments to the college admission requirements. These adjustments allowed the admission of SAT scores to be optional and plan to remove the essay from the SAT by June. These changes were made to help reduce the pressure of getting the perfect score and more so focusing on other academic achievements. Marissa Daniels, an author at “College Life Today,” notes that “For students with low scoring SAT/ACT grades, this means a sigh of relief, because most of these colleges will accept essays, portfolios, and other demonstrations of academic potential in place of standardized test scores.” Furthermore, with all the barriers put up like test center closings, quarantining with minimal notice, and financial struggles, the stress during test day is at an all time high. The hours put into taking an SAT along with the essay section is a lot for one student. The essay was used as a way for students to demonstrate their abilities of essay writing, but the College Board recognizes there are other ways for students to prove their skills.


Although everyone might not agree with the removal of the essay from the SAT completely, the decision was made to alter requirements to ensure students the experience of better outcomes. This change helps to alleviate some of the stress put onto students with all they have going on like college essays, deadlines, and extra curriculars. Overall the decision made by the College Board encountered many positive reactions among a majority of students.

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Grammys 2021 Wed, 05 May 2021 18:34:31 +0000 The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards took place March 14 on CBS. Taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the show was hosted by Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Just like all other award shows this past year, the Grammys had no live audience and was adjusted to follow Covid precautions. As well as this, there was a limited number of performers and nominees. 

Several big names in the music industry performed at the Grammys, including Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, and Doja Cat. Also performing was rising artist Megan Thee Stallion. Megan was nominated for four awards and left the show winning three, two for her collaboration with Beyoncѐ, “Savage Remix.” This past Grammys, Beyoncѐ has become the record holder for the most Grammys of any woman or any singer (28 Grammys). This is huge for not only women, but also women of color as for several decades, the music industry has for the most part been dominated by white men and has given little recognition to women and black recording artists. 

The most anticipated award of the show was the infamous Album of the Year award, and this year Taylor Swift and her “Folklore” album came out victorious. This was a big win for Taylor Swift because she is the first woman to win not only three Album of the Year Grammys, but she has also won them all for different genres. This is her first win under her own management after parting ways with her former manager, Scooter Braun, who seized the rights to the majority of all her albums. 

This year’s Grammys was like no other due to the Covid precautions. Organizers took tremendous measures to ensure that the Grammys could still happen, even if it seemed unnecessary as the world is still experiencing a global pandemic. A major difference between this year’s Grammys and any other would be that all of the performers were spread apart between four different stages in a semi-isolated hall in an effort to keep artists apart. With this, when artists were performing the audience only consisted of other performers-no one else. At next year’s Grammys, we can only hope that everyone will be able to be in a room together!

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