Category Archives: Review

Speaker Kevin Hines shares his story of suicide and second chances

Sarah Thurman, Staff Writer

On Thursday, February 22, Kevin Hines came to Wingate to give a lecture titled Cracked Not Broken, The Kevin Hines Story. Kevin Hines was only 19 when he decided that he wanted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge.  This is a jump that 99% of people, do not live from. Kevin was in that 1% that lived.

The lecture began by showing a snippet of Kevin’s film titled ‘Suicide: The Ripple Effect.’ Kevin came on stage and introduced himself, then proceeded to explain how he was not there to just tell his story, he was here to inform us by using his story.

Telling a story of a suicide attempt can get very dark, yet when Kevin felt that the mood was shifting he would give a joke that would make the whole audience laugh. Once he saw that the audience was in fact laughing he would go back into the story.

During one of the darkest parts of the story, when Kevin is describing himself jumping off the bridge and into the water, he realized that he didn’t die and that there was a creature swimming around him. He said, “I remember thinking ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, I didn’t die off the Golden Gate bridge and now a shark is going to devour me. NO!” The audience mood instantly lightened at the joke.

He went back into describing how this creature was keeping his body afloat and taking him towards a boat. With no idea what was under him, he decided to name the creature “Herbert” and after he began to tell his story publicly, he was contacted and informed that the creature that was under him was a Sea Lion.

Suprisingly the story does not end there, he continues to recount the story of his recovery and how he has gotten to the point he’s at today. He tells of his time spent in psych wards, fixing his relationship with his father, and meeting his wife. He does not just outline the negative parts, but he dives into the positive ones as well.

He ended the lecture by telling the audience that even though he stands here to tell his story that he still struggles everyday with a mental illness, but “I’ve been given the gift of a second chance, and most people in that situation sadly never got to see.”  

Kevin then tied the lecture together with a simple statement and a joke, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that I believe is why we call it the present and if ya’ll don’t believe me Master Oogway from Kung Foo Panda said that.”

Left to Right- Nya Henderson, Kevin Hines, Aliyah Long. Photo credit: Sarah Thurman

After he finished, he asked the audience to stand and he pulled out his phone and asked us to scream “Be Here Tomorrow” as loud as possible.  After the event Kevin went into the lobby of the Batte Center and met with students. Many people approached him to inform him of the impact of his story and some even pulled him aside to talk privately. Counseling was also on duty if anyone felt the need to talk to someone during or after the event.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, Wingate University offers free confidential counseling to students, you can contact them at To learn more about Kevin’s story visit

Edited by: Brea Childs


John Pavlovitz speaks to Wingate campus about creating a bigger table

Rachael Robinson, Staff Writer

John Pavlovitz spoke to Wingate students, faculty and staff last Wednesday. Pavlovitz is a pastor, blogger and the author of the novel A Bigger Table. He spoke to the audience about expanding their horizons and opening up themselves to new people, with his theory of “creating a bigger table.”

Photo credit: Pavlovitz website

When Pavlovitz speaks of creating a bigger table, he has an image in his brain. The table in his parents’ home. He mentioned that his house “was just an expensive covering for the kitchen.”    

His family started spending time around the kitchen table. As their family and friends grew, they moved to the larger dining room table. He then remembers his father going to the garage and having he and his brothers help add wood to make the table even bigger

Expanding your personal “table” though takes practice. It must be built upon using the four foundations which he calls the legs. The foundations of radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity and agenda-free relationships.

Everyone should be welcome, regardless of whether their ideals match yours, no one should feel they need to be an edited version of themselves.  It should be a safe place for everyone and a place to just hear stories. You also can’t be afraid of people leaving your table. People might not fit and that’s okay.

Pavlovitz also spoke about activism. Activism doesn’t have to be standing on the side of a street holding a sign and yelling at individuals as they pass. “Activism is using your privilege to raise up others,” Pavlovitz explains. “Use whatever is at your disposal.”

You could end up on the street with a sign, but activism can be simple. Taking a stand during conversations with your extended family when you would normally walk out or posting comments on social media posts that you think are wrong is enough.Both he admits “may go horribly wrong,” but that’s the point. Activism can be costly and painful.

Pavlovitz grew up in New York. His family was behind him 100 percent and he felt the same way about God. He didn’t realize until he went to college in Philadelphia just how many “false” stories he had been told about the world. He realized that he felt that he was above the people who weren’t like him.

Philadelphia was full of new stories, he felt like a fish that had been thrown into a new aquarium too quickly. He was having all these experiences and felt like he was using new muscles. He realized he was beginning to care. His table was growing.  

A pivotal moment for Pavlovitz was when he was asked to replace the youth leader at the church he attended outside of Philadelphia. That is where he fell in love with preaching. When someone suggested getting paid, he figured he would give it a try. Pavlovitz and his wife would then move to Charlotte, where he would become the pastor of a mega Methodist Church.

During this period Pavlovitz began to have theological questions about the messages he was spreading. He realized that his table had gotten smaller again. He was always surrounded by people from the church. He also began to notice that the only people who were welcomed at the church were people who fit the mold. There were no “marginalized” people.

That’s when Pavolvitz started writing. He started his blog where he could write about these issues. “All I did was speak my truth and I got a bigger table” said Pavolvitz.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Review: New album from Indie pop and folk artists Angus and Julia Stone

Aleah Cady, Staff Writer

Snow is the fourth album released by singer-songwriter siblings Angus and Julia Stone. The album was completely written and recorded in Angus Stone’s home over a six month period, a new creation process for the siblings.

The atmosphere was a relaxed environment for the duo to write, and many of the songs were created while playing around on instruments or coming up with simple four-chord melodies.

The first single, sharing a name with the album title, Snow, is a calm-feeling song, using a drum machine and a few strums on an acoustic guitar to create a simple, stereotypical “indie” sound.

Over simple instrumentals, both siblings provide vocals for the song, which has a whimsical type of vibe, but stays true to the duo’s older music. Overall, in my opinion, while Snow is not one of their best songs of their discography, it is a great song from the album.

Other songs I personally enjoyed were Cellar Door, Make It Out Alive, and My House Your House. I would have liked to hear more singing from Julia in the album.

In a lot of songs, she provided “ah” and “oh”s for the bridges or choruses, but because she has a voice that compliments her brother’s so nicely, I would have liked to hear more from her.

The album has received mixed reviews since its release in late September. Personally, out of 5, I would give this album a 3.5 rating.

It’s a good album, but with a bit more ‘push’, it could be a great album. As I mentioned, I would have liked to hear stronger vocals from Julia, and maybe a bit more variation in some of the melodies of the songs.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Cover image from Angus and Julia Stone website

Does Ugly Bread rise above in Restaurant Reviews?

Alexis Barbour, Staff Writer

Typically, I would not find myself walking into a restaurant called Ugly Bread. But for the sake of my writing career I did. Ugly Bread Vietnamese Cafe is located at 1007 W Roosevelt Boulevard in Monroe, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The name Ugly Bread comes from a type of bread loved by many that rises more than typical bread, giving the bread a wonderfully coarse texture. The name is obviously an intriguing one, but even the outside had me sketched out from the beginning.

I assume the name is a metaphor for how the owners want people to view their restaurant, a new and delicious meal! Vietnamese food seemed interesting in a “yeah maybe one day when I’m traveling and not broke” kind of way, but as I walked into Ugly Bread, I got a weird vibe.

A small, white concrete building with big red letters opened its caged-in windows and door to me with a cold greeting. “Hello, how are you” muttered a small voice from behind the counter. A quick nod and glance at the menu later, I decided on something I have never heard of before, which was not shocking since I didn’t know half the words on the menu.

I then sat down to await my food’s arrival. Once I received my food that was $13 (like everything else on the menu), I bit into it and was disappointed by what they call beef stir fry co’m.

This dish is typically strips of beef and sliced onions grilled and served with white rice, sliced carrots, sliced cucumbers and fish sauce, but the meat in my dish was extremely chewy. Besides the quality, however, the price is fair for the portions you get, even for a college student on a budget.

I looked around and noticed a 95.5 sanitation rating among the eccentrically designed walls and shiny tile floor. I also noticed that, within the time of my being in Ugly Bread, there were only 4 customers who came in. All of them, excluding one, were new customers from what I heard while eavesdropping, and each seemed hesitant about their dining choice that evening.

The employees were nice and did their jobs correctly, but from my own experience working in retail, you should be welcoming and speak above any background noise to new customers, which is not how I was spoken to.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, I would give this restaurant a 3. I may seem harsh, but I love all kinds of food (especially bread), just not necessarily Ugly Bread.

Edited by Mason Teague and Ryan Mackintosh

Photo Credits Ugly Bread Facebook

Review: Takara presents a great touch to Asian restaurants in Monroe

Kendall Sienon, Staff Writer

MONROE, N.C. — You don’t have to go far to get exquisite Asian cuisine. Located on Highway 74 across the street from the Buick/GMC Car Dealership, Takara may be the new go-to place for all sushi, hibachi, and Asian fare lovers!

Nearly everyday of the week you’ll see the restaurant full of hungry guests. However, on Wednesday and Sunday it is extra busy when Takara offers half price sushi on their special rolls. However, the specials don’t stop there. On Thursdays, they have buy one hibachi get one half off.

Photo Source: Yelp

There are two dining options to choose from: Hibachi or regular dining. At hibachi, guests can choose anything from the menu including sushi and items from the kitchen. There, a chef will cook for the table right in front of you. He will roll out all the tricks, while putting on an entertaining show for diners.

The fried rice is immaculate and the seafood sauce is never ending. The chicken, steak, shrimp and veggies that accompany the extra large portions of fried rice are cooked to perfection.

Each hibachi dinner includes an option of soup or salad, fried rice, veggies and meat. If you’re not in the mood for something so heavy and just interested in the hand-made sushi, the regular dining option may be for you. There, it is like any typical dining experience with average servers.

There is one server there that always remembers me every time I went there with my order ready to be placed. She has since moved on and no server has stepped up to match her enthusiasm and amiability.

Although the service isn’t top-notch, it has not stopped me from enjoying some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. My go to is “White Christmas” but there are some other rolls that are just as incredible such as “Pop-Pop Girl” and “Godzilla”. I promise this sushi will not disappoint.

Takara offers consistent service with a consistent meal. The atmosphere is intimate and soothing while offering an Asian flair. It is a perfect place to go on a first date or with a group of friends. Half price sushi is a must and don’t be surprised if you find yourself there nearly every week enjoying the handmade sushi rolls.

Address: 2515 W Roosevelt Blvd, Monroe, NC 28110

Hours: M-F 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat 12 noon-8:30 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Busiest times: Wednesday/Sunday; 6:30-8:30 most days

Phone Number: (704) 289-1127

Dress: casual

Reservations: not necessary but recommended for large parties

Wheelchair access: Yes

Price: $/$$$ (however it can range depending on the day you go and the items you choose)

Overall Rating: ★★★★ (4 out of 5)

Edited by: Brea Childs

Persona 5 takes on a new plot from Persona 4

Danny Stueber, Staff Writer

When Persona 5 was announced back in 2013, I knew it be my top game of the year whenever it came out. Time and time again it was delayed until this past April when it was finally released and what do you know, I was not wrong all those years ago.

Persona 5 is a long-ride filled with great characters, a great story, a plethora of things to do, and even after completing the game after 100 plus hours, I was ready to jump right back in for another play through. Not only is it one of the most stylish games ever made, it’s possibly one of the best RPGs ever made period.

Photo Source: PlayStation Universe


When Persona 4 was released back in July of 2008, you played as a kid who moved to a small town with your uncle for a year in and right away you were the most popular student around. Everyone loved you and everywhere you went you felt like no one could be cooler than you.

Persona 5 goes in the complete opposite direction. You are forced to go live in the big city after being expelled from your previous school and receiving a criminal record for a crime you did not commit (you stopped a man from abducting a woman but it turns out that man was a high-ranking government official and was able to have you arrested for attacking him).

You go to live with a guardian while you serve your probation period and everyone stays away from you thinking you’re a hardened criminal that could snap at any moment.

The complete contrast was very refreshing after Persona 4 and being treated differently and not having a power trip was something I have not really experienced in a game before. You feel like garbage because of how everyone treats you even though you did the right thing in saving that woman and you must work your way to being seen as a good kid through the game.

To do this, you hang out with friends, go to your jobs, read books, take exams, and everything else you’d assume a high school student would do. Half of the Persona series is life management and simulators; that might sound boring but it’s the complete opposite when everything you do has flair or helps make your character stronger.

You also only have a year in the city before you are sent back home and you can only really do two activities a day (one after school and one in the evening), so you need to spend your time wisely.

Like I said though, this is only half of the game. The other half is dungeon crawling through the hearts of corrupt adults to make them realize their misgivings. You and your friends are able to go to another world where if you steal the “treasure” of these corrupt adults, you can cause them to have a change of heart and to become better people, even admitting to their crimes.

The game does an amazing job at setting up your opponents and making you want to take them out with some examples being a school coach that physically abuses his athletes, an artist who plagiarizes his students work for his own gain, and a mob boss who uses students as drug mules.

The villains are complete scum and it’s up to you and your friends to take them out while also balancing your real everyday life. This all takes place in what is known as “Palaces” which are all completely different from the previous one before it.  They take the physical representation of the adults desires so a school will look like a castle or a city will look like a bank with the citizens as ATMs.

All of this is held together with the most stylish visuals and a perfect soundtrack. Every menu, loading screen, battle animation, purchase option, etc. has extravagant visual design that continuously impressed me. I even felt anger at some points seeing how much polish went into this game’s design compared to other games.

Additionally, the game is filled with an incredible soundtrack, one in which is full of wonderful compositions and vocals that makes Persona 5 one of the most stylish game I have ever seen in my life hands down. If you ever see me walking on campus, there’s no doubt the soundtrack is being played in my head.


In Persona 5, you fight with personas, physical representations of your inner resolve to rebel against evil adults. In this case, each team member’s persona takes on the look of famous thieves- since you are, after all, stealing the corrupted desires in treasure form from your enemies. For example, Captain Kidd, the pirate and Robin hood steal from the rich to give to the poor.

Every teammates persona has strengths and weaknesses like your friend being strong with fire attacks but weak to ice damage. As the main character, you can use multiple personas though that you collect through the Palaces. It has an almost Pokémon style but not nearly as many compared to that series to collect.

Battles in Persona 5 are turn based. What that means if you have never played a turn based game before, your team and the enemy team each have turns to attack until there is a winner. The main goal of each fight is to find the enemies weakness and if you can do that, the enemy is knocked down.

If they are down, you can attack them with every member at once for a lot of damage, or talk to the enemy to try to convince them to join your Persona team, give you money, or give you items. Every motion of attack whether you’re calling on help from your persona, to firing your gun, or to just straight up attacking, has the same amount of visual flair as the rest of the game.

If you just want to rush through fights, you can just press a button and it will play out for you. The game has thought of everything when it comes to accessibility and making sure no matter how you want to play, you can do it. It even has an option where you can make it so that your character never dies and you can just enjoy the nearly perfect story.

I don’t want to go too much into the story but it plays out seeing your character captured at the start because one teammate betrayed you and turned you into the cops. You then speak to a prosecutor and recall the events of the game trying to figure out who the traitor was while also trying to see the bigger picture in the grand scheme of things.

If there was one flaw with the game, it was that near the end I wanted to just get through battles quickly so I could get back to the story with how engrossed I was in it. Also the combat is a blast but I just wanted to see what was coming next!


Persona 5 is amazing and everything I wanted ever since it was announced. It took years to come out but you can see in the polish and overall design that the developers really put all their heart and soul into their product. I would say the story is slightly less intriguing than that of Persona 4 but that’s probably just because I was so attached to those characters for years and this game is brand new.

The only negative I would say about this game is that, there were times when i just wanted to continue to fight battles, but I couldn’t. Other than that, I loved hanging with friends, making relationships, trying to live a normal life while being a thief in another world, the humor of the game, the times it became dark and you felt for the characters, the design and flare are the strongest of any game I have ever played.

I really like this game and it was completely worth the wait. I cannot praise this game enough. If you like JRPGs or RPGs pick up this game. If you are on the fence about it, trust me and pick up the game. It has something for everyone and by time the credits roll it will be an experience that sticks with you for a long time to come. This will be the first game I have ever given a perfect score to.

Persona 5


Danny Stueber

Edited By: Brea Childs

Review: El Aguacate adds to Mexican restaurant choices in Monroe

Maggie Smith, Staff Writer

In Monroe alone, there are approximately seven Mexican restaurants. New Mexican restaurants open in Monroe often. I personally am an Mexican food enthusiast, so naturally when there’s a new Mexican restaurant I want to try it out.

Photo Source: Yelp

Recently a new Mexican restaurant called El Aguacate opened up on E Roosevelt Blvd. and I decided to check it out.The restaurant has two separate entrances, the one on the right is for take out and the one on the left is for dine-in. The restaurant is pretty big on the inside, so there is a lot of room for sitting.

The business was very slow for a Sunday afternoon compared to other Mexican restaurants on Sunday afternoons when many people pile in after church for their Sunday fix.

It could be because it’s a new restaurant and business isn’t up to par yet, or it could be that it’s location is tucked away off of the Blvd. in a strip of stores connected to the Food Lion, which keeps it hidden.

So if you’re craving Mexican food on a Sunday afternoon and all the other Mexican restaurants have a long wait, El Aguacate will have a table available. Like many restaurants they bring you chips and salsa immediately when you’re seated, but what I really liked was that they also bring you a delicious complementary dip which is Queso mixed with refried beans.

Typically at Mexican restaurants I order a Pollo Con Crema or something similar to it, so I decided to also order it at El Aguacate to better compare it to other Mexican restaurants. The Pollo Con Crema is a plate that consists of marinated chicken strips covered with Queso and comes with a side of Rice and Refried Beans.

They also bring offer a choice of flour or corn tortilla shells with the meal so you can make your own burritos if you want, which I recommend. The mix of the Chicken, Rice, Beans, and Queso is the perfect mix.

The Pollo Con Crema at El Aguacate was $9.75, which is the average price at most Mexican restaurants. The overall pricing was average on the menu and they have different specials each day of the week.

On Sunday’s the special is the Burrito Acapulco, which is a burrito stuffed with Mexican rice, melted cheese, pinto beans, grilled mushrooms, and a creamy white sauce. On Monday’s, the specials are Enchildas, in which you get to choose an Enchilada from the menu for a discounted price. On Tuesday’s, the special is Chimichangas in which you choose the one you desire from the menu as well. Wednesday’s are taco nights. Thursday is fajita night. Friday’s special is the Pollo Con Crema, and Saturday is the Camarones Diabla, which is a garlic spice marinated with butter, grilled onions, and pepper.

It’s served with rice and salad. The menu also has a varied selection that is not limited to just Mexican food. El Aguacate also serves Seafood, Pork, Wings, and Pizza. They also have domestic and imported beers and tend to have specials on certain days for beer.

For instance, on Thursday’s along with the Fajita’s they also have $3.00 large beers. If you’re a sweet tea drinker and like your tea pretty sweet like I do, you’ll definitely like their tea. They also have other mixed drinks to choose from that run as specials certain days, they also serve smoothies, and of course Margarita’s.

The service was great and the owner even came over to check on us a couple of times as well. He was very nice and wanted to ensure that we had everything we needed.

El Aguacate is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday’s.

I was very pleased with this new restaurant and really recommend giving this place a shot.

Edited By: Brea Childs