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MONROE TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL |1629 PERRINEVILLE ROAD| MONROE TWP, NEW JERSEY 08831 | VOL. XI ISSUE 4 | December 23, 2009

Tis’ the season for college applications by DAN MORGANS and STEPHANIE ENG Staff Writers With college application season in full swing, students face the daunting task of completing their college submissions. According to a group of anonymous high school students, filling out their submissions and completing essays for college are more time-consuming than difficult. “Applications take half an hour to an hour, but essays can take days,” says senior Kelsie Chasan. Oftentimes, it is not the actual writing of the essay or application that is tedious, but the revisions it goes through, courtesy of students’ parents, that make this process especially mundane and drawn out. “It only took me about 40 minutes to write my essay for the Common Application,” says an anonymous high school student. “But my parents are extremely involved and forced me to make countless revisions; I did not even recognize my essay after that.” Students use various tactics to combat writing new and original essays for every prompt, including recycling previously written essays for school to make the process faster and easier. Although the application process seems boring to most, many students panic about not getting into college and suffer from lack of self confidence that their high school accomplishments are enough to get accepted into college. “I wish that I tried harder and took more honors classes,” says senior Ashley Zimmerman. Many students find themselves reminiscing about past classes and wishing that they tried harder, took classes more seriously or had taken for easier classes for better grades. Now that many seniors have already sent most of their applications, they feel relieved, though a little nervous. “I’m glad that I’m finished, but now I’m worried about not getting into the colleges that I applied to,” says Zimmerman. Despite all of the worrying, most students look foward to college and starting their own lives. “I think that college will be a fun experience of college life where I can become my own person,” says Chasan.

above: A REASON TO CELEBRATE Monroe averaged 166.6 yards rushing and 30 points a game. Monroe only lost once this season resulting in a well deserved State Championship for the falcons on December 5. Photo/ Roy DeBoer

right: SHELL SHOCKED In a situation Middle Town South was not use to senior Alex Olexson and Junior Michael Walp sack the MTS quarterback as Monroe’s near flawless defense only let up ten points and two first downs in the first half. Middle Town South did not trail a single game this season before Monroe.

Photo/ Jackie Push

Football win makes history Poise and perfection key to Monroe’s success by JOEY ROMANCZUK Editor

Rain and Gatorade drip down the back of Head Coach Chris Beagan as chants explode from the stands the Monroe Falcon football team wins the NJISSA Group 3 State Championship on December 5 at The College of New Jersey. The 30-10 victory seemed to be a normal win based on the score, but the gravity of the win was felt almost as soon as the Falcons hit the field. This is the first time in Monroe Township history that the football team made it to the State Championship, compared to the nine State Championship wins that the Middle Town South Eagles have already won.

Brittany Murphy, best known for her roles in the hits Clueless and Uptown Girls, was found dead in the shower of her Los Angeles home early Sunday morning. The actress was pronounced dead at ten o’clock a.m. as a result of cardiac arrest. Against her husband’s, Simon Monjack’s, wishes, an autopsy is currently underway.

In addition to the Eagles’ numerous titles, the team has only let up 45 points this season, finishing undefeated. Monroe averaged about 30 points a game and finished with only one loss coming into states. Luckily for Monroe, the coaches have been to State Championships before and understood the size of the shoes the boys were trying to fill. Coach Beagan went to states before in 1997 and 2001 as a Sayreville coach while Coach Justin Cella played for Neptune in the finals in 1994, winning the 1995 State Championship and Coach Marc Debellis lost states in 1990 while playing for Bishop Ahr. The coaching staff made sure the team was more focused than ever by preparing them at practice the

The Monroe Falcon Staff salutes all American soldiers

way they would do a week before the game. “Practice really hasn’t changed,” says senior captain and linemen Matt Stotle. “We prepare more than ever on the field and off it, watching hours of film. Our coaching staff has a strong plan for victory.” This plan for victory revolved around the linemen that literally “pushed” the offense to success. The members of the line have been praised for their dedication to the team in and out of practice, and their chemistry which proved to be the key to victory. “I feel very confident in my offensive line leading the way into the state championship. We all are on one heart beat. They trust me and I trust them,” says senior first team All-Sate running back Blake Bascom. Without solid play from the line, Bascom would not have played as successfully as he had in the game. Bascom ran for 215 yards on 23

carries for three touchdowns, averaging about 9.4 yards per carry. “Bascom will have more than a couple of schools interested in him after his performance on Saturday,” says Beagan. The game started once the players walked into the Monroe Township’s locker room. Early that morning players sat silently on the bus, soaking in the severity of the game, acknowledging their jobs on the field, and what needed to be done in order to win. “We [the coaching staff] were surprised at how loose the players were,” says Beagan Even before the team arrived in Ewing for the game the stage was set. The forecast for the day of the game called for a both rain and snow. Monroe was 8-0 this season in games played in the rain scoring 287 points, only letting up 66 points scored against. Not only was the weather a sign of victory but so was the music Cont’d pg 18

What’s Inside School News............. 2-5 Features..................... 6-9 State Champs......... 10-11 World News .............. 12 News ............................. 13

Entertainment..... 14-15 Op-Ed..................... 16-17 Sports..................... 18-19 Happy Holidays........ 20


Page 2

School Briefs

School News

Pettek leaves audience mesmerized by JILL SHAH and SHAENA GUPTA

by AMANDA SEDLMAYER Editor The Monroe Falcon boys’ basketball team won their season opener in Colonia on December 18, with a score of 60-57. Monroe trailed by 12 with 3:10 left in the game but rallied down the stretch, using all 32 minutes on the clock to pull out the victory. The Falcons had nine players in the point column, with sophomore Danny Brix leading the charge with 22 points. Senior Kenny Pace contributed with 10 points in Monroe’s comeback win. The Falcons look to improve on their hot streak with upcoming home games against rivals New Brunswick and South Plainfield. Students were released on a half day schedule on December 17 due to an electric issue. The electrical interference “prohibited the kitchen to prepare quality lunches,” says Principal Mr. Robert Goodall. Parts of the school building lost heat and some bathrooms were unusable. The students were dismissed, but later that evening, MTHS was “able to have the Winter Concert,” says Mr. Goodall. “The Marasco was not available for any make up days before the start of Winter Break.” Spanish Honors Society held a meeting on Thursday, November 19 to discuss recommendations, completed cookie dough orders and “amigo secretivo”. Students involved in the society wrote “Make a Wish” letters for Santa Claus in Spanish and English on December 1. All students should have picked up cookie dough orders on Wednesday, December 9 from Señora Rosemarie Armstrong. On December 10, freshman students discussed their next fundraiser “Datamatch”, which checks compatibility among students. Previously, the freshman popcorn fundraiser grossed about $3,000. John Corcoran, Shayla Crawford and Mykela Edwards each sold over $300. Fourteen DECA members enjoyed the fifth annual high school sports business program on December 2. Students attended the Nets vs. Mavericks game at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Prior to the game, four sports marketing industry leaders spoke to students about sports marketing career opportunities at Career Night. Ms. Deborah Stapenski, DECA advisor, jokes the 1-19 Nets are “NBA history in the making.”

Students impatiently wait for the Marasco doors to open hours before the high school’s hypnotist show. Lines expand out of the lobby into the cold autumn night. DECA held its fifth annual hypnotist show on November 18 to fundraise for Fun Care for Cancer (FC2). Club members had to sell a minimum of three tickets each. DECA advisor Ms. Deborah Stapenski says, “We have to sell at least 200 tickets to pay for the hypnotist’s contract.” This year, DECA hired a new hypnotist, Bill Pettek, who has practiced hypnosis ever since the 80s. He says, “I first saw a stage hypnotist when I was a kid, and I was instantly amazed and inspired.” Though it takes many trials to perfect each act, not every skit works as planned. Pettek says, “I have to constantly go over everything. Each act is tried and tested several times.” The show begins with Pettek reminding the audience that hypnosis is a state

drigues was chosen to impersonate the king of pop, Michael Jackson. As soon as Billie Jean echoed throughout the auditor i u m , Rodrigues atPhoto/Jackie Push tempted SHOE BINOCULARS Following the directions of Bill Pettek, to moonhypnotized seniors Christopher Russo and Tiffany George use their shoes as walk. binoculars to watch their horses run in the Horse Race, hoping to gain a win. The of mind; anyone who is will- night also included a ‘Shake ing can become hypnotized. Your Booty’ contest where Students fight to be one the champion won a $10,000 Pettek’s fifteen volunteers. prize. Senior Averi Herring Lights dimmed as the hyp- out shook her fellow comnotist slowly put his vol- petitors and was ultimately unteers in a trance, making crowned winner. them tip sideways and fall Pettek then chose senior off their chairs. Morgan Widener as his next In the first act, Pettek placed victim. While she was still his subjects on a sandy beach, under his hypnotizing spell, where they were extremely Pettek told the audience that hot. Some were even tempt- she will forget the number ed to remove their clothes. six. Widener was asked to Next, senior Nicholas Ro- hold out her hands and count

School News Editor Amanda Sedlmayer Entertainment Editor Jill Shah Sports Editor Joey Romanczuk Layout Editor Angela Wo Staff Writers Anupali Bewtra Jessica Billitz Victoria Cinquegrana

her fingers. She skipped the number six and counted to eleven. In the last act of the night, his subjects participated in a $1 million horse racing contest where they used their shoes as binoculars. After stiff competition and much excitement from the audience, Herring took the prize once again. Pettek ended the night by waking up his volunteers. “None of the volunteers will remember what happened until they have a glass of water,” he tells the audience. As soon as the show ended, audience members ran to the volunteers with water in hand. Volunteers, like sophomore Arjav Raoul, vaguely remembered what happened to them on stage. He says, “I remember Nick becoming Michael Jackson and going into the crowd. We also used shoes as binoculars.” At the end of the night, not only were a total of 483 tickets sold, but students left the show mesmerized. Junior Lisa Shatynski says, “Last year was more interesting, but this year was still a lot of fun.”

Possible PSAT mandate for sophomores by MICHAEL BAUMANN Editor-in-Chief The district administration expects to mandate the PSAT for all tenth graders, starting in the 2010-2011 school year if the new budget passes in the coming months. Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton says, “I am making the test mandatory for two reasons: to provide data that will help us improve instructional practices, and to help students become better acclimated on what to expect on the SAT.” The district plans to collect and

analyze test results in order to find patterns within students’ answers and determine if responses in certain subjects are less than satisfactory. “If we discover, for example, students have difficulty with long essays, the curriculum will be revisited in order to address that problem,” he says. “If necessary, we will provide additional training to members of the faculty.” Although the county and state do not require the mandate of the test, Hamilton believes the PSAT to be necessary for Monroe schools, saying administrators “need a barometer to determine where students are.”

“ ... the test’s implementation depends entirely on whether next school year’s budget passes in April.”

The Monroe Falcon Staff Business Manager Jamie Costa

December 23, 2009

Stephanie Eng Shaena Gupta Allie Houlihan Jazmin James Rachel Kowal Gabriella LaFata Christina Mattina Katelyn Mercier Dan Morgans Aditya Patel Elizabeth Russo Jenna Rutsky Raevin Walters Art/Photography Editor Jackie Push Photographer Jeanna Dressel

Winners of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association 2009 & 2008 Gold Medalist certificate 2007 Bronze Medalist certificate

The superintendent aims to benefit the school community as a whole with the test, as he says the administration “will use the data to make informed decisions.” However, the test’s implementation depends entirely on whether next school year’s budget passes in April. Students have been required to pay a fee to take the test in previous years, a cost that would be covered under the budget. “If it doesn’t pass, we’ll need to look at things that may need to be eliminated, and the PSAT may be

one of them,” says Hamilton. “It’s a matter of funding.” If the budget indeed passes, the district will determine if any requisites will be necessary for students planning to take the test. Hamilton realizes the community’s reactions to the proposed mandate of the test will vary. “It depends on how people feel about raising the bar and raising expectations,” he says. Although “opposing views are to be expected,” Hamilton says the mandate is an example of “part of what districts do to support kids.”


November 17, 2010

Page 3 School News New Staff Arrive at Monroe High

Movin’ on up by JARED HUSSEY Executive Editor

Coming into a new school and managing over six-hundred juniors and seniors is not an easy task; however, new assistant principal Kevin Higgins stepped up and is prepared to take on the challenge. Higgins started at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, and was excited to introduce himself to the students. Speaking to both the junior and senior classes separately, he said, “This will be the last time you want to talk to me for the year.” As assistant principal, it is Mr. Higgins’ duty to manage and handle disciplinary actions for all juniors with last names M through Z, and also all of the seniors. Senior Julie Kelly says, “He already fits so well into the school, and he didn’t really seem nervous at the senior assembly.” Being in control of the graduating class entails many responsibilities. Mr. Higgins handles disciplinary problems and deals with the inevitable coming of “senioritis.” He does not believe that seniors are the most difficult students to control. Mr. Higgins elaborates, “They are the most mature in the school, and they have the most responsibili-

elementary school. Discipline in Barclay Brook is non-existent. The students are generally excited about school at that age.” Before he started working in Monroe, Mr. Higgins taught History at Manasquan High School. At 34 years old, he has been in the field of education since 2000. On moving from the elementary school to the high school, Mr. Higgins says, “Change is a good thing,” and he was not nervous to take on the task of managing older students. He explains, “I have experience talking in front of loud crowds, and speaking to the students was not nerve-wracking.” Mr. Higgins has assimilated quite well into the high school, and other staff members are delighted to have him working here. Assistant principal secretary Andrea Benevento says, “He is very easy to work for, and he is a good man.” Mr. Higgins can be seen in the school throughout the day, conversing with students and staff and monitoring the hallways. He says the thing he enjoys about the high school is that he can “interact and talk to students of a greater age.” It is something he was unable to do in Barclay Brook, as it was difficult for him to have intellectual conversations with students in second grade.

Photo/Sam Kolavitch

GETTING IN THE GROOVE: Mr. Higgins works hard to adjust to his office, as well as the school.

ty. Juniors, sophomores, and freshmen all can start over in September, while seniors can’t.” Prior to his job in the high school, Mr. Higgins worked as the vice principal for Barclay Brook Elementary School. He states, “There is a great difference between working in the high school and the

Mr. Higgins says he would like to “help students find out what they are capable of, and help them realize what their full potential is.” As the school year continues, Mr. Higgins continues to work hard and efficiently as assistant principal, and he has definitely made a good impression on the school in his first few months here.

by ANDREW DINICOLA Staff Writer Ambitious new members are ready to teach and help students get more out of their education. However, the new staff is not only teachers, but people who have come and taken new positions such as the new assistant principal, Mr. Higgins, and Ms. Blank, the new media coordinator. The teachers plan to apply their skills and knowledge to help the students reap the benefits and learn lessons that will help them, not only in school, but in life. According to homeowners in other towns, such as Toms River and Spotswood, this addition of teachers and staff to the school will help Monroe maintain its high standards of education. Knowing that other people in other towns praise our school, the students should have a sense of pride knowing that they are here. One of the new teachers is Ms. Dana Speizer, who teaches Journalism and junior English. She collaborates with the students in the Journalism class and oversees the whole process of making the school newspaper. “I am very excited to be working at Monroe Township High School. Since I have grown up in Monroe my entire life and went to high school here, I have a vested interest in the community. I hope to foster a love of learning, reading, and writing in my students and give them the tools to be successful in life.” In addition to Ms. Speizer, the English department welcomed two other new teachers: Ms. Beth Wolk and Ms Michelle Jodon. There are also new teachers in various subjects including Mr. Esteves, a science teacher, Mr. Hadinger as assistant band director and Ms. Beachum, a technology teacher. Although the staff has changed greatly, the new teachers are be-

coming acclimated with Monroe’s environment. As teachers adjust, the students do too. Jozie Orozco, a Monroe junior says, “ Even though the new teachers aren’t as adjusted as those who have been at Monroe High for several years they hacve great ideas and effective new teaching methods. “ A large debate among many of the students is whether bringing the new teachers to the school was a good idea. Sophomore Matt Gimbut says, “I think having the new staff here is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. It’s a good thing because there’s a lot of a really good and cool teacher, but we have to get used to them instead of the old ones we had.” Other students do not feel affected by the change of staff and teachers. Ryan Nufrio, a sophomore, says, “With more teachers that come to the school, the work can get so much harder and we don’t need hard work.” The same applies to Christian Arcati, who says, “The new staff doesn’t really affect me, but what really matters is how much work they give me.” The new teachers that came to this school all agree that they want to help their students have a great learning experience and acquire tools to help them later in life. Mark Snow, the new Industrial Arts teacher, says, “Change can be a “good” thing. Teachers contribute to the culture of the school as a whole as well as fulfill a necessary, practical role. When one teacher leaves their cultural and practical void is filled by a new teacher. This new teacher will have an impact on the overall culture and, to some degree, the operation and performance of the school. This change can be directly observed by the students in their classes. Change is neither good nor bad, inherently. It is open to the interpretation of those being affected by the change” Therefore, it all depends on the students to show how the change of staff has affected our school.

“Change is neither good nor bad, inherently. It is open to the interpretation of those being affected by the change”

Breakfast Like a King by KATHRYN OLIVA and STEPHANIE LORENZO Editor, Staff Writer Monroe Township High School offers students a delicious way of getting the most important meal of the day. Every morning, until the end of first block, students have the option of buying breakfast served in the school cafeteria. Breakfast options include cinnamon glazed toast; bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches; assorted doughnuts; churros and much more. Beverage choices include assorted juices, coffee and more. Prices range from $1.00 - $2.10. “The churros are really delicious, they were so good I had to go back and get another one!” said sophomore Samantha Cicatello. The breakfast program has been in place for more than ten years, but many students still do not know that it is available. MTHS wants to provide students with a good thing that will help them to succeed.

“Statistics show that students who eat breakfast do better throughout the day. Some students miss breakfast and waiting until noon is just too long,” says Nancy Mitrocsak, Food Service Director for Monroe Township and Jamesburg Schools. Breakfast benefits more than performance throughout the day, it also assists in bettering your health. A recent study by the University of Missouri found that eating a protein-rich breakfast helps teens control their calorie intake for the day. Another study by the United States Department of Agriculture and Kelloggs showed that kids and teens who eat breakfast have a lower chance of becoming obese. “When I eat breakfast, I find that I eat less throughout the day. Those days that I do skip breakfast, I am always hungry for snacks,” said sophomore Sara Dehanes. With the undeniable benefits of breakfast, Monroe’s delicious options are as good for you as they are tasty.

Art/Stephanie Wo

YUM! Monroe Township High School offers a variety of delicious breakfast options to keep students full and energized.


School News

Page 4

December 23, 2009

Custom-made main gym designed for sports New high school coverage continued from November 6 issue By the numbers  How many square feet is the main gym?  151’ x 105’ 6”  How many people will be able to fit in the main gym’s bleachers?  1800 people  Will there be a jumbotron?  Yes, it will be a 4-sided scoreboard  How many bathrooms are there in the boys and girls team rooms and locker rooms?  20 toilets  How many athletic lockers will there be?  +/- 198 per Team Room  How many doors are there into the main gym?  8 pair of double doors and 3 single doors

by ALI DEITCHE Executive Editor Photos/Jackie Push

Director of Facilities Mr. Gerald Tague gave this Falcon News reporter an exclusive tour of the new high school. It revealed an entire wing devoted to gymnasiums, a wrestling and aerobics room, and locker rooms for the physical education department and the school’s athletes. Imitating professional sports arenas, the main gymnasium of Monroe’s new high school will feature a four-sided scoreboard hanging from its ceiling and bleachers that can fold into the walls. The entrance to the gym for visiting schools’ teams will be on Perrineville Road, just inside of which is a snack shack. This shack will possibly be a station to serve the school’s breakfast program, as well as be opened for sport games. The new high school has a great portion of the building allocated for physical activities; there are two gymnasiums, a “wrestling and aerobics room”, as well as a weight room, cardio lab, and an exit to the Thompson Park sports fields. The main gymnasium will have multiple basketball courts, with bleachers that fold up against the

wall and permanent bleacher seats above them. When the bleachers are pulled out, there is only one main basketball court. Above the one defined, main basketball court will be a four-sided scoreboard. The main gym is primarily designed for basketball, volleyball, and pep rallies. It is also large enough to hold the graduation ceremony for seniors, which will end the recent tradition of holding it at the Sovereign Bank Arena. For gym classes, there will be dividing curtains to split the large space into sections. The gym also has clerestory windows, not skylights, to let in natural light. On one side of the gym will be boys’ and girls’ sports’ team rooms and the trainer’s area, and the other side will have physical education boys’ and girls’ locker rooms and the gym teachers’ offices. Tague says, “There are about 1500 students currently at MTHS, and there was just no way to create enough gym lockers for each student. So they will still share P.E. lockers.” Down the hall from the main gym is an auxiliary gym, which will have a hardwood floor and hold basketball courts. Tague says, “These two gyms

RUNNING THE COURT Workers prepare to pour cement on the main gym floor, which will hold three full-size basketball courts and bleachers to hold 1800 people.

enable the school to schedule a varsity game in one gym while a JV game is played in the auxiliary gym.” There is also a separate “wrestling and aerobics room” in this area. The space was created with wrestling and cheerleaders in mind, and therefore has a “resilient dance floor” as opposed to hardwood, and raised ceilings to allow cheerleaders room for their lifts. It has a built in alcove to store the mats used in these sports, because the designers were told that was an issue in the current auxiliary gym. The weight room and cardio lab are located near this gym, with an

operable wall between them. This wall can be pulled out to separate the rooms or folded up. “P.E. is situated near the weight rooms and the outside doors, so that the class can literally step outside the gym onto the park’s playing fields,” says Tague. The new high school will share the turf fields and track with the middle school. “That was part of the appeal of building the school here, because it can use the existing fields and track,” says Tague. After failed referendums and controversial building locations, the high school’s nearly complete exterior and interior construction is coming together.

Police train for lock-down drill by JULIE KELLY Staff Writer

The recent cancellation of all after school clubs and activities does not mean the high school is empty after hours. After school, the Monroe police are occupying the school to train for our yearly lock-down drills. While police train for this year’s lock-down drill, which will occur unexpectedly sometime during the school year, students and faculty are not allowed to enter the building during their practice. Although the doors are closed, Officer Spence, a member of the Monroe Township Police Force, gives inside details on what goes on after hours in the high school. He says, Police “corner off” certain areas, “practice tactics,” and become “familiar with the layout of the classrooms.” With this knowledge, Officer Spence and his fellow officers can efficiently help the school if a dangerous threat or person is present. Principal, Mr. Robert Goodall says, “In the event of an ‘active shooter’, it is very important to have these exercises in the state of the way the world is today.” He further explains that it is difficult to be completely prepared for this kind of emergency, “but working with the police, we’re as prepared as we can be…we typically get very high marks from all of the drills.” “Each room is different,” Officer Spence says when referring to

the hardships behind learning the structure of the high school. The police officers must be familiar with every inch of the high school, in addition to knowing the specific layout for each individual classroom. When referring to the reason of the drills, Officer Spence elaborates and gives a new perspective for those who only see the lock-down drill as a way of getting out of class for a period or two. He explains that casualties are limited as a result of practicing fire drills. He is hopeful that the lockdown drill, which we will “have very shortly” according to Mr. Goodall, will produce the same results. Students should realize that their safety is the ultimate reason for the drills. Junior Erica Delgandio realizes the reason for the drills, yet she also enjoys the class time that it takes up. She says, “You just have to do them I guess … It wastes class time and everyone talks through it anyway.” Students may view the lock-down drills in different ways, but in the end it is for one common goal, to increase the safety of our schools. Although it is mandated by the country to have lock-down drills twice a year, Monroe goes the extra mile as police officers dutifully train after school to familiarize themselves with the structure of the school. Sophomore Amanda Chin, says, “Everybody should go through it; it’s a good demonstration of an emergency escape.”

Graphic/Haley Strincoski

Heroes and cool kids by ELIZABETH RUSSO Staff Writer

Twenty-nine high school athletes were nominated to mentor seventh graders in the newly established program in Monroe, ‘Heroes and Cool Kids.’ The non-profit organization has former professional athletes training high school student athletes on positive lifestyle choices. Trainings for the high school students are conducted three times from November until May. Professional athletes such as former defender and midfielder for the New York Jets Bruce Harper talk to the students. Harper established the 13-year-old program. The program is funded by a grant written by High School Athletic Director David Kirk. Seniors and juniors from a variety of sports in the high school serve as role models for seventh and eighth grade Applegarth middle school students. The students are considered positive role models, as they maintain good grades and display excellent

behavior in and out of the classroom by their guidance counselors and teachers. These unique high school athletes focus on issues such as sportsmanship, bullying prevention, maintaining healthful lifestyles, myths about high school and abstaining from drugs, alcohol and smoking. “The heroes are the professional athletes who mentor the cool kids who are the high school athletes,” says Student Assistant Coordinator and high school Counselor, Ms. Caren Castaldo. “I’m incredibly proud of Heroes and Cool kids. I tell people all the time it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. We have touched a lot of people in a significant way, a healthy, positive way,” says Harper. “We’re going into our 13th year and we’re always trying to grow. We’ll be in 50 schools next year, and we’d like to double that,” he continues. Other ‘heroes’ include Kyle Copeland-Muse who is a former professional women’s tennis player. Former professional NFL players

Keith Elias and Harry Flaherty conduct the training sessions along with a veteran in the broadcasting business Larry Hardesty and ESPN writer Lindsay Berra. “Basically, it’s a mentoring program. Former professional athletes and high-profile amateur athletes train high school students to be mentors to middle school students,” says the former Jets player, “Life and character ,that’s what it’s all about.” Program participant, junior Caitlin Tehan says, “The professional athletes told us to use our personal experiences in order to mentor the children.” Castaldo says, “We were split into different groups and given pamphlets which contain the curriculum we will use with the middle school students.” Junior Charles Napolitano says the methods of mentoring include teambuilding activities and presentations from the qualified athletes. “I enjoy the program. If I can help one child that’s all that counts,” says Napolitano.


December 23, 2009

School News

Page 5

‘The more that you know the more places you’ll go’ Biology teacher Mr. Christian Jessop talks about deployment in Iraq by RAEVIN WALTERS Staff Writer Biology Teacher Mr. Christian Jessop served as Sergeant in the Army National Guard from 2004-2005. After his deployment ended, he taught at Lacey High School before beginning his career at MTHS last September. On December 1 Jessop discussed his experience in the National Guard. Q. How did you decide to join the Army? A. During the start of my senior year in High School (1999). I was still much undecided about what I wanted to do for my future. I knew I wanted to go to college at some point, but I also was getting an itch to travel, as well as an itch to do something different. I also knew that paying for college was something that I was going to have to do myself, and I didn’t want to bury myself in loans. My parents started leaving flyers (for the army) by my door. Q. Were there any family members who influenced your decision? A. My older sister had joined the Army National Guard when I was a freshman in high school. Having someone to answer my questions firsthand, and honestly sometimes recruiters don’t always tell you everything. was very helpful. I liked the idea of the Army. Q. Why did you ultimately decide to join the army? A. The Army National Guard allowed for me to have a chance to go to college. They pay for full tuition to a state school. It also gave me opportunities to have some extra money which I could then pay for different trips around the world that I envisioned myself going on. Q. Were your parents supportive of your decision to join the National Guard? A. Both of my parents were very supportive

in my decision. Nothing really hit me until the moment that I was actually being sworn in to the Army. I think the light bulbs finally went off in my head saying ‘welcome to reality, and there is no backing down now.’ Q. What kind of training did you do? How long was it? A All components of the Army, whether Reserve/National Guard or full time Army go to basic training and AIT (tech school) together. I left the October after my senior year and returned in the end of May. Q. What did you do after training? A. After that summer I started my first semester at Cook College at Rutgers. I also took advantage of the opportunity to travel and went on a couple trips. Looking for something longer, I was able to work it out with my Army unit to get a leave and live and study in Australia for 6 months. Towards the middle of my time there I received the phone call from my section; he gave me the news that my unit was going to be deployed to Iraq. I decided to start taking advantage of my opportunity and any chance I got traveled within Australia, even going over to Indonesia for a bit. I basically spent every dime I had and I had to borrow money to get myself to the airport when it was time to return home. After a few months of training up in Ft. Drum, New York I departed and landed in Kuwait. From there it was a short flight into Iraq. Q. How long was your deployment, and what was your job in Iraq? A. My deployment in Iraq was a little over one year. It started in October of 2004 and I returned home in November of 2005. The base I was stationed at was called FOB Danger (FOB = forward operating base) in Tikrit. My job was that I was the in charge of my company’s Convoy Team for my Battal-

ion. This meant that any transportation of anything, from personal to equipm e n t , between different bases that occurred on the ground. T h i s meant me and my convoy Photo/Sgt. 1st Class David Torres team had FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE Biology Teacher Mr. Christian Jessop in a gunner turret in his to go outHumvee during his deployment in Iraq while serving with the National Guard. side the end of my deployment I met a woman who wire and several years later would become my wife. travel on the road. Q. How did you feel going into the army? A. When I first joined, nervous but confident and excited in what will come. Q. What was your most terrifying experience in Iraq? A. It is difficult to point my finger on one specific moment. The first time I heard/experienced gunfire on a convoy, the first mortar round to fall into our base, an explosion from a suicide bomber that blew out all the windows in the area my company slept in all rank high up. However, these were all firsts, each time after you lose some of the fear and allow yourself to just be able to react to the situation. Q. What was your happiest moment? A. Many small moments, laughs with friends, giving children on the road snacks. On July 4 I was able to play in a soccer game against a team of Iraqi men. Towards the

Q. What is the most important thing you took from your experience in the National Guard? A. The most important thing I have taken with me is to never stop appreciating life and the freedom that I have been given.  I have gained a much deeper insight into the whole big picture of life, the expression of not sweating the small stuff, really is true.  There are so many things way more important than usual petty issues.  I try not to get caught up in it and therefore it just clears a path that really allows me to enjoy life. Q. How did you feel coming out of the army? A. It was bittersweet, but I enjoyed my time in the Military. There are still many aspects that I miss. Jessop enjoys teaching though he misses his experiences in the Army.


Features

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December 23, 2009

Words cut deeply ‘Anything The gossip cycle never stops by ALI DEITCHE Executive Editor

Gossip, like prom and the homecoming football game, is a deepseated tradition of high school culture. Students find it impossible to live through a full day without hearing a new rumor about someone. “Geez, every day I hear a new rumor,” says junior Tiphane Antunes. “I feel like the people who spread them are bored, or envious.” Junior Alex Malave says, “I hear one every hour. People want to tear down the queen bee.” Even though he hears many rumors, Malave realizes that they are not necessarily the truth. “I probably believe one out of every five rumors I hear,” says Malave. “I really only believe them about people who already have reputations as a slut.” This statement leads Antunes to say, “But the reputation they have is based on a rumor too.” She says, “I don’t believe anything I hear. It’s like the game of telephone- people just change a story as they hear it.” Both Malave and Antunes have personal experience with rumors.

Malave says, “I’ve heard a gajillion about me.” “Of course I’ve heard rumors about me,” says Antunes. “Zero of them are true.” Popular gossip, which may seem harmless in the moment, often leads to the destruction of relationships. Antunes says, “A friend of mine spread a lie about me, and now we’re not friends anymore.” “You tell something to someone you think you can trust, and then the words just get switched around and they tell other people,” says Malave. Though sophomore Valentina Pannullo has never heard a rumor about herself, she’s heard many about her friends. “When I hear it, I defend my friends and tell them to stop because I know it’s not true, but I think they just keep talking about it behind my back.” Due to the students’ experience with rumors, they do not partake in further spreading of ones they hear about others. “I feel bad, so I try not to spread rumors,” says Pannullo. Malave says, “I received a really good rumor the other day that I know is true, but I didn’t tell anyone.”

Eagle Scouts landscape Woodland Elementary by THERESA LIN Editor-in-Chief

High school junior and Boy Scout Michael Baumann landscaped Monroe Township’s Woodland Elementary School on November 12 as his Eagle Scout Project. Baumann hopes students will utilize and enjoy his vision for an outdoor classroom. “It’s going pretty well,” Michael says of his project. “There were some snags here and there, but that’s part of the project.” He oversees the work that his 40 volunteers have committed to accomplish. Throughout the course of the day, they shovel mulch and lay pavers, navigating wheelbarrows around piles of top soil and scattered hose lines. Michael’s intention to create an outdoor space for the school comes together with each shrub Boy Scouts and volunteers help to plant. “I’ve been doing Boy Scouts since sixth grade. It teaches character and leadership,” says Junior Boy Scout Joe Vena as he helps Michael with the landscaping. “It’s fun working to get (the status of) Eagle Scout, and it looks good on the college applications,” laughs Vena. The Baumann’s Landscaping truck unloads more topsoil and mulch for volunteers to spread on the beds. Louise Baumann smiles as she watches her son, Michael execute the project that he has planned for months. “Originally Mike wanted to do a 5K, but they (the Eagle Scout Board) didn’t like that-they like more permanent projects,” she says. While he used funds donated by the Woodland-Mill Lake PTO, Michael also received donations from neighboring Baker’s Nursery for the shrubbery and pavers form Gray Rock in Jamesburg and the help of his older brother, Nick

Baumann, owner of Baumann’s Landscaping. In between measuring and fitting rosy colored pavers, Nick says, “Mike came to me for advice for some things like designing the pavers and landscaping.” Otherwise, the project was entirely Michael’s planning and work. “The hardest part was just having Mike stick with it. He had to get 21 Merit badges, 5 rank badges and create a project plan,” to attain Eagle Scout rank, says Michael’s father, Doug Baumann, who has, through the years, overseen the progress his son has made. When Michael started Boy Scouts, his Scout Master of Troop 3, Mike Sabanos, says, as he laughs, “We weren’t sure that Mike could talk. He was so quiet, shy and introverted! It’s really cool to see how he has developed in his confidence and leadership skills.”

Sabanos admits that, sometimes each Scout in the troop requires a “gentle push” in the right direction, but otherwise, the troop has grown to demonstrate a sense of direction and responsibility. “It’s kind of a shame that the township doesn’t know about these projects. Barclay Brook was landscaped by Junior Steven Banniger,” continues Sabanos, and Mill Lake Elementary School was landscaped by senior Russell Grant who was present at the project with shovel in hand to help Michael. “Only 4% of all kids who join Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts,” says Sabanos, reiterating the difficulty of obtaining such a prestigious rank. Grant, who conducted his Eagle Scout project last year, says that as an Eagle Scout, “I try my best to help (Eagle Scout candidates) because I remember how they helped

at mine. When you become an Eagle Scout, it is basically a promise that you will be there to help younger Scouts, and go to all the projects until you go to college.” The day ends with Michael placing the four wooden benches that he assembled along the edges of the paver walkway. He sighs as he thanks the volunteers who leave one by one. Reviewing the final result he says, “The landscaping really improved the school’s overall aesthetic. It was just a patch of mud here before.” The vivid colors of shrubbery and fresh mulch add appeal to the previously bare schoolyard. “I feel a sense of accomplishment, as this is a high point of my Scouting career. Few people make it (to Eagle Scout status), but luckily, our troop has a high turnout. I’m glad I’m able to help the community and school,” says Michael.

Photo/ Louise Baumann

LANDSCAPING COMES TOGETHER Other Boy Scouts and volunteers roll up their sleeves to spread mulch around the beds.

you can do I can do better’ by JOEY ROMANCZUK Editor

Imagine lacing up a pair of hockey skates, putting on a pair of hockey pads, picking up your hockey stick and hitting the ice. The only twist is you are a girl on an all boys high school team. For juniors Kristen Michalowski and Samantha Straus, this is a reality. Michalowski and Straus are both members of the MTHS boy’s junior varsity hockey team. Both are not rookies to the sport. “I play on an all girls team. We go to tournaments with maybe 100 other teams in attendance. We all look tough when we play but when we take our pads and skates off, people cannot believe we play hockey,” says Michalowski. Straus also plays for an all girl team that plays out of Nassau and much like Michalowski, Straus always gets surprised looks whenever she takes off her hockey helmet. The girls are both true hockey players willing to sacrifice their bodies for the team. Michalowski adds “I got a concussion during one game and when I was getting up a father of the boy who hit me stood up and said ‘She’s a girl, she shouldn’t be playing anyway’ I thought that was extremely rude.” Straus and Michalowski are treated with as much respect as the boys on the team. Both of them lift weights with the boys and attend the pre season workouts. These two female hockey players are not the only women on an allmale team. Senior Jenette Mitchell wrestles for the wrestling team. “My cousins been wrestling for years and my uncle was a recreational coach and one day after a bad day of school my uncle asked me to join, I said yes.” Mitchell has to practice and wrestle with determination, considering that she is the only girl on the team. “I give it my 110% all the time. My asthma slows me down, but I never quit. My coaches have had to stop me before I will stop myself,” says Mitchell. She adds “I feel at a disadvantage from the start so I have to work harder to at least perform at the same level of the boys.” Mitchell wrestled at 135 pounds last year and relies on her flexibility and agility to win matches because she does not have the experience that some of her opponents have. “I have a lot of standards to live up to being a girl wrestling on an all boys team. The guys have to be okay with it no matter what. All the boys want to be there as much as I do.” All three girls keep competitive and always try their hardest to keep up with the boys, and so far the girls have had no problem.


Features

December 23, 2009

Page 7

‘Now, shut up and drive, drive,drive’ Vanderbilt discloses why we drive the way we do by JULIE KELLY Staff Writer In an exclusive e-mail interview, Tom Vanderbilt, author of the bestseller, Traffic: Why we drive the way we do, says “The idea for the book came on a New Jersey highway, at a merge site where construction was happening, but in a way that was just the moment that made clear to me a set of questions I had long been curious about: Why do people act the way they do on the road?” He says he “set out to understand the mysteries of this incredibly complex,yet everyday, activity that many of us essentially take for granted.” This mystery is driving, traffic and the psychology behind it all. Vanderbilt outlines the psychology of driving in Traffic, as well as addressing startling habits of American drivers. Vanderbilt proves no driver is quite as good as they think. Eyes on the road is not good enough “There are fascinating experiments in psychology…. the most famous asks people to count the number of basketball passes a team wearing white makes standing in a circle. As they are doing this, a guy dressed in a gorilla suit slowly walks through the picture. More than 50% of people do not see actually see the gorilla, although it’s ‘as plain as day.’ In driving, when this happens, we often get so-called ‘looked but did not see’ crashes.” Vanderbilt says “young drivers, have an additional challenge, which is they literally don’t see as much of the road as more experienced drivers. They tend to focus more on basic things, like staying within the white lines.” “Having your eyes on

the road doesn’t do any good unless your attention is on the road too,” says Vanderbilt. The idea that giving the road only eyes is not enough to ensure a safe trip; the road requires quick eyes, reflexes and undivided attention. However, this attention is limited when teens choose to talk on cell phones, severely limiting the amount of concentration that can be on the road at the same time. In an experiment testing the levels of distraction that cell phones c a u s e , Vanderbilt found that while talking on the phone, he was unable to take in all of his surroundings. As a result of his lack of attention, he hit a virtual truck right in front of him. For all of the drivers at our school Since teen drivers are a target for research and play a vital role in car accidents today, Vanderbilt examines an

experiment based on teen driving habits. He discusses a study of teenage drivers that was done outside of high school parking lots. He says, “Males drove more riskily than females…male drivers drove faster and followed close when they had a male riding shotgun. When they had a female in the front seat, they

actually behave less riskily.” Backing up Vanderbilt’s argument, senior Nidhi Bhatt says, “I think females are better drivers. Guys make it a point to be aggressive because they think it makes them look cool.” An anonymous teacher feels males are superior drivers “because they are less distracted than females.”

When teens and other drivers can focus on certain areas of improvement, both genders can become noticeably safer drivers. New cars are actually extremely dangerous High school students commonly receive cars; however, it is not in their best interest to get a new car. Vanderbilt says “If you drive a newer car, the probability of both damage and injury is higher than if you drive an older car.” Providing evidence, he says, “There was a study done in Norway that looked at crash rates by age of car,and curiously, new cars seemed to crash at a higher rate.   Now, you might first think that’s because new cars tend to be driven more, but even after the researchers took that into account, the rate was still higher.” Vanderbilt refers to the increasing safety of older cars versus newer cars in his interview and says “what might be happening is something called ‘risk compensation’; the safer we think something is, the riskier we act. So if you’ve got a new car with tight handling and

all the latest safest features, it’s not hard to think you will drive that differently than if you had an older car without that same feeling of safety.” Traffic provides readers with interesting factual research and experimental data that most drivers, young and old, know little about. He proves that it is necessary for them to focus on their flaws in order to improve traffic and road conditions. Vanderbilt provides evidence that Americans cannot be too sure of their driving and highlights the habits that the majority of them are guilty of. As he says in his interview, “There are fascinating experiments in psychology that show how the world we think we see out there is not always the world as it is.” Vanderbilt is also the author of Survival City, The Sneaker Book, and continues to edit design magazines, I.D. and Print and blogs on Design Observer.

It’s a fact  Looking longer for a parking spot costs lives  Cell phones limit your attention span  Males drive riskier than females  Men are twice as likely to be killed in an accident  Safer roads cause drivers to behave more dangerously  Looking at other car crashes is the second highest reason for distraction-related accidents

Staying on ‘track’ despite disability by VICTORIA CINQUEGRANA Staff Writer

Photo/Rachel Kowal

SIDE BY SIDE Sophomore Samantha Mischler and side runner, senior Kelsie Chasan, run with speed for their cross country meet.

Despite sophomore Samantha Mischler’s visual impairment, every day after school, she makes her way to winter track practice with a smile. Mischler has been on the track and cross country teams since freshman year. Her mother inspired her to join, thinking it would be the best sport for her. Her options were limited because of Mischler’s disability, Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. Mischler says, “It’s a visual impairment where optic pale nerves are paler than average, but I don’t let it keep me down.”

According to the Blind Children’s Center, the condition’s “effect on the visual field may range from generalized loss of detailed vision in both central and peripheral fields (depressed visual fields) to subtle peripheral field loss.” Despite the challenges her disability poses, Mischler maintains a positive attitude. She says, “There’s no frustrations with school and no running frustrations besides visual problems.” She challenges herself to be faster and stronger. Mischler says, “I look up to my coach and teammates to keep running more and more.” The dedicated teammate attends every practice and

meet. Mischler says, “For a practice, I get excited and ready and for a meet, I block everything out of my mind and focus on the race.” Mischler’s confidence and drive to run inspire others, because she continues to work hard and overcome the obstacles she faces. Senior Kelsie Chasan, Samantha’s siderunner, says, “she shows that nothing will

stop her from doing what she loves to do and puts so much trust into me. She is a very nice girl and nice to everyone. Her number one thing is running.” Mischler says, “If I could give my teammates advice, it would be to always keep running because you could always help others the way they help me.”

“She shows that nothing will stop her from doing what she loves to do and puts so much trust into me... Her number one thing is running.”


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Features

December 23, 2009

One man’s trash is another man’s gift by SHAENA GUPTA Staff Writer Shoppers scurry through malls and department stores to find the ideal gifts for their loved ones during the holiday season. However, many of these perfect presents can be found right in one’s own home. Considering today’s economy and the growing recession, regifting gradually develops as an accepted practice. Many regift to simply rid themselves of an unwanted present. This concept continued to gain popularity after comedian Jerry Seinfeld first coined the term ‘regifting’ a decade ago. Regifting allows a person to give a present to its rightful owner. One reason to regift is that an item may be better suited to the next receiver. A student who wishes to remain anonymous says, “Why keep a gift if I don’t use it? It’s best to give the present to someone who will.” Often people become lazy to go out and spend some money on fine gifts for their loved ones. Also, occasionally gifters have strong contempt for the person they are gifting to. Thus, the motive for buying a great present is lost. According to the Macmillan English Dictionary, the increasing popularity of the word ‘regifting’ and its recent link to online

auctions make t h e phenomenon of regifting more tolerable. In a market research company survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, over half of the 1,505 American adults who participated admit to regifting and 78% feel regifting is all right most of the time. Since regifting becomes increasingly

common, it is important t o know some tips i n properly regifting a present. One essential tip is to always keep track of who gave the gift first. If one carelessly wraps a secondhand gift to a friend who was actually the initial giver, then the situation grows worse and apologies lead to

embarrassment. Another helpful bit of advice is to never regift an old item. If someone owned the present for a long time, it is possible that the next receiver of the gift will have recognized it from that person’s house during a previous visit. By properly cleaning a present and decorating it to look presentable, regifting has the potential to become a brand new trend. According to an MSNBC Consumer Reports poll on 2009 holiday shopping, a total of 36% of U.S. adults recycle a gift this year, compared to 31% last year and 24% in 2007. With these numbers, it is evident that regifting is becoming more practiced. In the U.S., December 18th has even been named “National Regifting Day”. The recession creates a higher number of regifters. Men and women today find the latest gadgets, attire and accessories too costly, and there are too many family members, friends and co-workers for whom to buy the gifts.


Features

December 23, 2009

Survey results What will you

Page 9

‘Home for the holidays’ by: JILL SHAH Editor

American students begin their school holiday vacation with lights, seasonal music and energetic spirits. Students commence their holiday vacations with various plans in mind. According to a Falcon News survey conducted December 8 - 9, freshman and seniors alike plan to relax this winter break on family vacations or simply spending time with friends at home. Eleven percent of the seniors are staying home and fifty percent are spending time with their friends. Senior Sarah Jane Cook says, “I’m going bowling, watching movies and going out to eat with my friends.” Junior Charmi Vakharia is vacationing with her family and family friends. “I am going to go to the Poconos for the first time where I will be skiing and snow tubing.” This winter break, thirteen percent of juniors are staying home, while nine percent are going on a vacation. Junior Christina Hussain says, “I’m not going anywhere this winter break, but my family is coming over.” Sophomore Jenna Rutsky will spend time

be doing during holiday break? FRESHMAN Only seventeen out of two hundred and fifty-five students surveyed are staying home for the holidays.

with her family and friends. She says, “I am going to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for Christmas, and I am going to a family friend’s house for Chanukah.” Out of the sophomore class, fourteen percent of the students are visiting family, while thirty-five percent of the class is hanging out with their friends. The survey results show that thirteen percent of freshman will vacation with family, while eighteen percent will stay home and enjoy the day break. Also, forty percent of freshman plan to spend quality time with friends. Freshman Elena Kim says, “This year I am staying home, but I would rather go skiing and ice skating.” While some students are staying home with their families, some are going out of the state or country. Senior Nicole Meyers says, “This year I am going to Puerto Rico to celebrate Christmas with my family.” Of the students are staying home, three percent are going to sports practices and games. Senior Katie Rusnock says, “I’m not doing anything during break except going to track meets.” Students will enjoy this winter break filled with love and laughter as they look forward to spending time with friends, family and traveling.

“I’m going bowling, watching movies and going out to eat with my friends.”

SOPHMORES Thiry-seven out of two hundred students are visiting family members. JUNIORS Eighteen out of two hundred and four students are going on vacation with family. SENIORS One hundred and seven out of two hundred foureen students are hanging out with friends. TOTAL One hundred and thirty-five students out of the eight hundred and seventy-three surveyed plan to stay home for the holidays.

Shop ‘til the prices drop by AMANDA SEDLMAYER Editor Graphic/ Angela Wo

This holiday season, eager shoppers hunt for the best prices on high ticket and brand name items for friends and loved ones. Bargain hunters wake early to shop the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, one of the traditionally grand shopping days of the year. The Nintendo Wii Console, Nuvi 265WT GPS, Limited Edition Nintendo DS and Apple iPod touch were among the most popular presents bought on this year’s Black Friday according to pricegrabber.com. Crazed shoppers began their quests for cameras, televisions, iPods and laptops as early as 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Camping outside in the cold for a single purchase “is time consuming but definitely a fun experience,” says 23 year old Bryan Shanley, an MTHS alumnus who waited five hours for a LCD TV. According to the National Retail Federation’s Black Friday shopping survey, over 195 million people visited stores this year, some ritual Black Friday shoppers while others experienced it for the first time. Prices dropped noticeably for holiday shoppers as plasma and LCD televisions sold for a mere $535, dropping the average price 22%, as notebook computer prices also decreased 26%. According to the times.com, Andrew Hargreaves, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, notices particular growth in consumer goods this year, “particularly with netbooks and TVs.” Freshman Zachary Pace, an annual Black Friday shopper, says, “Walmart had the best sales.” He found good prices on LCD televisions and cameras, spending under $200 for both. “Walmart’s Black Friday specials include 50-inch Sanyo plasma HDTVs for $598, Magnavox Blu-Ray disc players for $78 and TomTom GPS systems for $59,” says Melissa O’Brien, a Walmart spokeswoman, confirming their deals.

Many may remember a horrific Black Friday incident last year when a Walmart worker died after being trampled by rushing shopping crowds in Long Island. This year, shoppers had mixed experiences, whether they discovered great prices, waited outside for a remarkable four hours or rose early only to find disappointing deals. Black Friday “was not as good this year, because last year had more sales,” says junior Christina Hussain. Some shoppers were still disappointed, even after statistics show reduced product prices. “Black Friday sales were not as great as I expected,” says junior Cassie Bergen. “Especially because I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning.” The overall increase in Black Friday sales reflects the upcoming

economic improvement for the country as a whole. According to the messagingtimes. com, “shoppers spent an average of $372.57 on Black Friday weekend, 7.2% more than last year.”

Black Friday dissapoints buyers


Making History

Page 10

Page 11

A sit down with State Champions Bascom, Stolte and Walp by JOEY ROMANCZUK Editor

Coaching the Falcons

Coming off a 30-10 routing of the Middle Town South Eagles, a few Monroe players spoke with the Falcon News to discuss how it feels to win the first State Championship in Monroe football history. Thanks to the strong play from Monroe’s Seniors including: half-back Blake Bascom and right guard Matt Stolte, Monroe only lost once by a field goal. Michael Walp provid-

A sit down with State Champion Head Coach by JOEY ROMANCZUK Editor

While the Falcon December 5 State Championship victory was still fresh in everyone’s minds, the Falcon news sat to talk with Head Coach Chris Beagan on the team’s unprecedented accomplishments.

School celebrates football state win by MICHAEL BAUMANN Editor-in-Chief

Enthused cheers and the enthralling music of the school band fill the gym as staff and students commemorate the football team’s newly won Group III State Championship title on December 11. “We are here to celebrate and recognize a huge, huge accomplishment,” says the host of the event, science teacher Matthew Olszewski, of the team’s victory over the Middle Town South Eagles on December 5. Monroe and Middletown played for the championship game at The College of New Jersey, as Monroe left victorious with the first football state championship title in school history. The chorus led the audience in the national anthem, garnering applause as they finished singing. After the cheerleading squad performed their “Hello” cheer, Olszewski welcomed staff and students and congratulated the football team on its historic win. Special guest, Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton, was also in attendance. “If anything, the win reinforces school spirit and builds up support for a sense of camaraderie,” says Hamilton in a later interview with the Falcon News. “It’s really setting the barometer for how all of the sports will be measured.” After permances by the step and dance teams, cheerleaders fromed an aisle, enthusiastically waving their pom-poms, as Olszewski introduced Head Coach Chris Beagan, Assistant Coaches: Justin Cella, Daniel Lee, Marc Debillis, Joseph Ro-

mano, Zach Morolda and Athletic Trainer Nathan Cogdill. The crowd erupted in applause. The audience cheered as the 13 sophomores, 19 juniors and 20 seniors who comprise the varsity football team were introduced by name in order to receive recognition for their collective achievement. “We’re really excited to be able to accomplish our goal,” says offensive lineman, junior Joseph Isola. “We love the fan support. It always feels like we have the home field advantage even on the road.” Coach Beagan received special recognition, as he was given an enormous yellow poster signed by faculty and students in honor of the team’s win. Special Education teacher, Christine Basile, escorted Principal Robert Goodall to the middle of the gym where seniors Travis Dufner and Jimmy Nemeth waited to shave an “M” into the side of his head, as Goodall previously promised if the team won. “We were excited to see Mr. Goodall be able to fulfill his duties to the team,” laughs Isola. Finally, Olszewski thanked Athletic Director david Kirk for making the Falcon victory a reality, as he gave final congratulations. “I think it was a great victory for not only the school, but also for the community as a whole,” says Romano. Additional reporting by Ali Deitche

What did the team do during the week prior to the game in order to keep nerves down in the locker room and on the field? “We basically prepared the same way and if anything the coaching staff was surprised at how loose the boys were when we got to the field.” “A lot of members of the coaching staff were also a part of a State Championship once. I was the coach of Sayreville in 1997 and 2001 when we went to States. Coach Cella was in the championships in 1994 and again, winning in 1995 playing for Neptune. Coach Debellis played in a state championship in the early 90s. We understood the pressure the boys were under.” Bascom ran for about 210 yards, three touchdowns and 2,000 yards during the season. It’s an understatement to say he was important to the team. What do you think Colleges have in store for him in the future? “Bascom had a lot of success as a part of our defense and especially as a part of our offense. Bascom will have more than a few schools interested in him. His performance at States opened a lot of doors for him.”

ed t h e F a l cons with a clutch touchdown at the end of the first half of the State Championship giving Monroe a 14-10 lead. First Team All- state running back Senior Blake Bascom led Monroe with 2,001 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, while senior Second Team All- State r i g h t guard and tackle. Senior Mat-

Do you believe that returning juniors will expect to return to the team and win States next year? Furthermore, do you believe that arrogance will affect this team after the victory? “Alex Vizcaino has been tremendous all year long and has really developed as a leader of this team. A game can start and end with the Quarterback. Michael Walp caught a huge touchdown against Middle Town South, we knew he had it in him, it was just a matter of time. Like I said, we got where we are because of the hard work and expectations we make for this team, that won’t change.” What was the first thing that came to mind when Chris Geist dove onto the MTS quarterback for the safety late in the second half? “That safety gave us a two possession lead in the late stages of the game giving us what seemed like an insurmountable lead.” Many seniors are leaving this year including the offensive line, with the exception of George Meyers. What expectations do the coaches have for the line next year. “The way we look at it is that the juniors and sophomores of this year practiced against State Champions all season long. Our lofty expectations will not change this season for the line we want to keep up the hard work. We got where we are because of it.” “If you reach for the moon the least you can wind up at is a star.” thew Stolte was a part of the very talented offensive line praised for the successful offense. Junior tight-end and defensive-end Mike Walp caught two of the biggest catches in the State Championship game, one of which gave Monroe a score of 14-10 lead into the second half. “I don’t think it has hit us all yet, yeah we are excited but I think it will hit us at the spirit explosion,” says Walp. However their history making season started from Pop Warner Football; Stolte says, “The whole defense consists of genuine players who have played

together since Pop Warner. We have experience playing together and have trained hard in the weight room and off season.” “The most of help came from our coaching staff which put us in the best position to make big plays. They always believe in us,” he says. Bascom felt very confident in t h e offensive line going into States. He says, “I feel very confident in my offensive line leading into the State Championship. We have this unspoken language where we are all on one heart beat. They trust in me and I trust them.” Prior to the State Championship, assistant Coach Justin Cella prepared a different offensive game plan in order to get the boys mentally prepared. “Cella sat us down in a room, and basically told us people viewed the Eagles as unbeatable and immortal. So he put on the movie 300 and played the scene where Spartans fight off the ‘Immortals’. The ‘Immortals’ were supposed to be gods but once the Spartans made them bleed, they realized they could be beaten. So Cella said as long as we scored once or twice, we would win,” says Bascom. The only problem that emerged this season is that the Falcons will be loosing a lot of seniors. At the end of the interview Bascom turns to Walp and asks, “What do you think winning States this year did for this program?” Walp says, “There was only five or six of us [juniors] on the varsity team that played. So all of us need to work harder, and step it up if we want to repeat.” Walp felt Monroe put the game away after his touchdown at the end of the half, giving them the lead 14-10, whereas Bascom and Stolte both felt that the game was over once the Eagles fumbled in their own 20 yard line, resulting in a one yard touchdown run by Bascom. Many people did not believe Monroe would win or even make it to States. According to Bascom and Stolte , such doubt drove the team to victory. Walp says, “If any team believes they can get the job done, they will. If the team uses the disbelief in them as motivation, they will win.” Photos/ Rob DeBoer, Jackie Push and Haley Strincoski


World News

Page 12

December 23, 2009

The World Today

Africa

North America by JESSICA BILLITZ Staff Writer

by JAZMIN JAMES Staff Writer

1.

Protais Zigiranyirazo was freed November 16, after spending 14 years in jail, for his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. April, 6 1994, before the genocide began, Mr. Zigiranyirazo’s brother-in-law, ex-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot before boarding a plane. About 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in a 100-day massacre shortly after the shooting, according to BBC news. The court accuses Zigiranyirazo of leading a convoy attack on Tutsis who sought refuge on a hill a few days before the genocide began. He is found guilty. Judge Theodor Meron found the trial cases and after close research stated that, “there are serious errors in the trial and his conviction in 2008 violates the most basic principles of justice.”

2.

The insertion of United States troops in Afghanistan remains a top priority for President Barack Obama. At the end of November, Obama requested 30,000 American troops and French officials to supply 1,500 additional soldiers for the war in Afghanistan. The need to rid Afghanistan of Al Qaeda, an Islamic Extremist group has persisted since the 9/11 attack. Obama scheduled meetings with the leaders of Russia, Australia and Britain in order to persuade these leaders to contribute to the American view on the war in Afghanistan. “Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. And that’s why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops,” Obama said in his speech at West Point.

Australia by ALLIE HOULIHAN Staff Writer

5.

Photo/ AP Images RELEASED EARLY Protais Zigiranyirazo, accused participant in 1994 genocide in Rwanda, is released from jail 14 years early.

Middle East by JENNA RUTSKY Staff Writer

Mayors of Sydney, Australia oppose the federal government, saying that the CBD metro plan is unnecessary. The $7.3 billion should be spent on more practical modes of transportation, says the mayors, A petition signed by more than 20 mayors and 150 council members stated that the plan was poorly arranged and does not meet transportation needs of the city. Past plans suggested by the city have been turned down by the federal government. Ms. Gladys Berejiklian, an Australisn politician, said, “The government had not provided an explanation as to why existing transport plans were shelved and replaced the CBD metro.” The mayors have created an alternative plan to spend the money saved from the CBD plan on construction of north

4.

A dispute between Iraq and Iran ended on Decemeber 20 after three days of arguing over which country had control of an oil field. Iranian soliders invaded the Iraqi oil field, creating strained relations between the countries. The oil field is disputed terriorty because it lays on the border between Iraq and Iran. Labeed Abawi, Iraq’s deputy foreign affairs minister, said “[The Iranian troops] withdrew from the field, but they are not completely out of Iraqi terriotory.”

Graphic/ Carla Palermo

Photo/ AP Images

ECONOMIC RECOVERY Traders work on the floor of the Futures and Commodities Market in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

South America by KATELYN MERCIER Staff Writer

3.

South America currently shows signs of recovering from the global economic crisis faster than other parts of the world. The countries have increased trade with China, as Brazil specifically, increases its exports significantly. Brazil leads South America’s economic recovery, with a drop in gross domestic products this year and an expected growth next year. Its internal market manages to circumvent the effects of the global economic catastrophe because of an increased minimum wage and government aid programs. Alfred Coutino, South America director at Moody’s Economy.com says, “Every time that the US or Europe or any of the other big world locomotives were in trouble, South America fell and this is the first time in many, many decades in which South America is better prepared, in economic strengths, to withstand the external recession.”

Europe by RACHEL KOWAL Staff Writer

6.

Photo/ AP Images TRANSPORT PROTEST Australian mayors protest against new metro plan created by government, creating a new alternative plan to spend tax dollars.

Former Prime Minister of Belgium, Herman Van Rompuy, became the president of the European Union on December 9. Prime Minister Van Rompuy was credited with keeping Belgium relatively stable during an economic crisis, even though he only held the title for a year. The current EU president serves for six months, but the new president will serve for at least two and half years. His duties as EU president include driving the work force of the EU and presiding over the Foreign Affairs Council.


News

December 23, 2009

Page 13

Same-sex marriage bill meets roadblock by CHRISTINA MATTINA Staff Writer Art/Rachel Kowal

The New Jersey State Senate abruptly delayed the vote on samesex marriage until January. After the Marriage Equality Act passed the Judiciary Committee on December 6, sponsors of the act asked for its postponement because they did not have the 21 votes needed to pass it. Now the bill moves to the State Assembly, the lower house of the state legislature, instead of the Senate. Supporters hope the extra time will allow them to tell their stories, build momentum and win more votes so that it will pass in the Senate. Sponsors of the bill want to get it passed through both houses before the Governor-elect, Republican Chris Christie, takes office on January 19. Christie has vowed to veto same-sex marriage, while current Democratic Governor Jon Corzine would surely sign the bill into law as his last act in office. Bill sponsors, Democratic Senators Raymond Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg, did not want to risk the bill’s failure in the Senate. Both the New York and Maine

Senates recently voted down same-sex marriage bills. Opponents hope that the defeats take away some momentum in the gay rights movement. Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group that opposes same-sex marriage, said on his website, “[T]hey knew they were going to lose... I have news for the bill’s sponsors and its proponents: the votes are not there in the Assembly either.” Gay rights advocates, however, believe the delay is to their advantage, for it gives them time to convince more Senators to support the bill. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Executive Director of Garden State Equality Steven Goldstein says, “It’s not a setback... we think it’s a good thing.” Ms. Laura Granett, advisor for the

Goodall addresses complaints from Monroe business owners by KYLIE DAVIDSON Guest Writer The tradition of students loitering at Concordia Shopping Center after school will soon come to an end due to complaints from the Stop & Shop manager about horseplay and stealing that has occurred in the store. Students waiting for after school programs to start or the 4:15 buses to arrive have unsafely crossed the street to purchase food from the local Stop & Shop. However, the store has become more of a place to hang out than a place to purchase everyday items. The constant flow of students in and out of the store around 2:00 p.m. has remained overlooked until recent events forced the manager to take action. Although most students act appropriately in the store, the manager has informed Principal Mr. Robert Goodall that a small group of students has been caught shoplifting and misbehaving. Due to these complaints, Mr. Goodall sent a letter to inform parents about the situation; police complaints will now be issued to the students who are caught at Stop & Shop. No police complaints have been issued yet, but the Monroe Township Police Department will have a more alert surveillance of the store, begin issuing summonses to students who are misbehaving and arrest those caught shoplifting. When asked if she thought it was

a good idea for police complaints to be issued to students caught on private property, freshman Michelle Cho says, “No, they should have better security because not all students steal. Some use their actual money to purchase things.” Although he has never witnessed any misbehavior in the store, freshman Domenic Polidoro believes that the manager of Stop & Shop is not overreacting about the situation. “I heard that kids were throwing t h i n g s , stealing things and saying inappropriate things,” says Polidoro. Students are advised to remain in the school’s c afeteria while waiting for the after school buses. Students caught lingering in the school and not attending any extra-curricular activities will be susceptible to school discipline. Michael Monforte, Stop & Shop manager of two and a half years, says, “You can’t prevent anybody from doing anything. You gotta hope that they learn their lesson, if they get caught, to not do it again. Shoplifting is no joke.” With action being taken by the manager of Stop & Shop and the school administration, the issues involving the students at the local food store seem to have been resolved. “I haven’t heard one complaint since,” says Goodall. The manager and the school administration will continue to work together to prevent further issues.

“... Mr. Goodall sent a letter to inform parents about the situation; police complaints will now be issued to the students who are caught at Stop & Shop.”

high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), says that if the bill passes, “same

s e x married couples would receive the same rights and benefits granted to

married opposite sex couples.” When asked about the bill’s chances of passing, Granett says, “New Jersey has a strong record of equal protection so it does have a good chance.” If the bill does not pass, she says it “can always be reintroduced in the following session of the legislature.” M s .

Nicole Butler, another advisor for the GSA, says that the bill would “afford gay people the same rights given to

heterosexual couples.” She adds that “the marriages of straight people would not be affected in any way.” In order to make the bill a law, both the Senate and the Assembly must approve the bill, in addition to gubernatorial approval. Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D) has not announced a date for the hearing, but the Assembly does not meet until January 7. Currently, New Jersey allows same-sex civil unions, but if the bill passes, New Jersey would join Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts in allowing same-sex marriage. Although Democrats control the Senate 23-17, not all support samesex marriage. Many believe the bill would not currently have the 21 votes needed to pass. If the bill passes, supporters of same-sex marriage can claim a major victory. If the bill fails, opponents will take this as evidence that the country will never legalize same-sex marriage. Either way, both sides will continue this heated debate about the right to marry.

Economy puts a limit on 2009 holiday spending by ADITYA PATEL Staff Writer Art/Jackie Push

Frenzied shoppers search for the perfect presents with set budgets as the holiday season quickly approaches amid a poor economic climate. A poll released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) says, “Two-thirds of all Americans say the economy will affect their holiday plans this year, with the majority of these consumers saying they’re adjusting by simply spending less.” As shoppers search for presents, they look to keep their wallets as tight as possible while still getting valued gifts for friends and family. “I plan on buying small electronics, cool gadgets and inexpensive accessories,” says sophomore Brian Ronan, who buys presents for his brothers, parents and close friends and plans on spending as little as possible. As a result of job losses, prices on most goods and services have dropped to record lows, forcing retailers to adapt to the soft sales and cut back on inventory. “70.1% of those polled said they will shop at discounters and 43.3% said sale prices are the most important factor in choosing a retailer,” according to NRF. Despite the economy online sales continue to rise with an 8% increase compared to last year’s. Black Friday and Cyber Monday contributed to the 14% of increased spending since last year, according to tracking firm Coremetrics. The holiday season provides a chance for people to snag great deals, as people who have been

in financial danger turn to other ways to bring happiness to their loved ones. People even re-gift old presents, and find negligible items to give to others who need it, as a way to both minimize spending and bring joy to others. High school students across the country search for a way to find inexpensive presents, more and more students look for gifts that retain sentimental value.

“I can’t spend money on storebought gifts for everyone, and I plan on giving gifts from the heart,” says sophomore Jason Schwartz. As people look to find the perfect gifts during the holidays, they look to save money, but most importantly, look to spread holiday joy with loved ones. “I know my mom will love my macaroni portrait of me, after all it’s the thought that counts,” says Ronan.


Entertainment

Page 14

December 23, 2009

Scenes from an italian restaurant by ELIZABETH RUSSO Staff Writer

Party in the Prudential Center

Ciro’s Italian Restaurant invites families to experience home fashioned cooking for an affordable price. Upon entering, a take out counter with two standard stainless steel pizza ovens along the wall deceives you into believing that it is a pizzeria you have entered. Passing through the bar, I am struck by the bright and airy dining area, tastefully designed with yellow painted walls, colorful pictures of coastal Italy, and cherry wood furniture. I was confronted with the smell of sweet tomato sauce, which brought me back to my childhood days in Brooklyn when my grandmother would have her famous southern tomato sauce simmering in a pot The scene of the restaurant was completed with recorded classical Italian music while we chose from the menu. Two types of bread were immediately presented to the table when we were seated. Round ball-shaped and doughy bread was accompanied by a silky basil, pepper, and garlic dip. The second was crunchy slivers of fraschetti bread blanketed in tomato sauce and sprinkled with bits of basil. Simple, but delicious, the bread and dip was the perfect way to begin the meal.

Appetizers included the crispy, fried calamari, with rich tomato sauce along with four large stuffed mushrooms stuffed with sausage, onion, pepper, and bread crumbs. The fresh mushrooms and succulent calamari left us eager for the main course. The entrees consisted of round tortellini accommodated by a zesty, meaty Bolognese sauce which was both tasty and terrific. The mouth-watering shrimp parmesan was decorated with large and luscious shrimp on top of the melted mozzarella cheese. I enjoyed the delectable chicken Panini sautéed in a flavorful green pesto sauce with zucchini. A side of fries gave an American twist to my Italian sandwich. I highly recommend Ciro’s but do not expect fancy. It is a clear-cut neighborhood restaurant, with good service and appropriate prices for the large portions. The appetizers ranged in price from $8 to $12, and the entrees ranged from about $10 to $15. If you have room, Ciro’s does offer classic Italian desserts. Address: 301 Buckelew Avenue Atmosphere: informal, welcoming Hours: weekdays-10am to 10pm, weekends10am-11pm Reservations: any day of the week Credit Card: All major credit cards Seating: 140 people

Cyrus fans exit the building with smiles Holiday movie match-up by JAMIE COSTA Buisness Editor Graphic/ Angela Wo

Miley Cyrus’s Wonderworld Tour brought the teenage pop star to Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center on November 7, thrilling fans to see the talented actress and singer perform. Before the winner of the Teen C h o i c e A w a r d 2009 for best teenage singer came on stage, older brother, Trace Cyrus opened the show on stage with his technorock band, Metro Station. Even though it was sweet to see the siblings perform together, an opening act was unnecessary for this concert. Opening acts are intended to excite fans and prepare them for the main talent, but, Metro Station failed to do so due to the fact that the audience was unfamiliar with the songs and the band themselves. The audience consisted of both younger children and their parents and adolescent teenagers who were unfamiliar with the band. To start up the concert positively, Miley broke out of a cube of ice to her number one song, ”Breakout,” off her 2007 album, of the same name. The up-beat song brought the audience to its feet. Attending her third Miley Cyrus,

thirteen year-old Jillian from Long Island said, “The coolest part of the concert for me, was when she exploded from the ice as her entrance.” Unlike other performers who solely dance on stage, Cyrus took her concert to different levels. After the second outfit change, sounds of a fly came out of the arena’s speakers to announce the upcoming song, “Fly on the Wall,” as Cyrus floated over the audience by a cord. When Cyrus first appeared, wearing a risqué short, black, leather outfit, some fans noticed her revealing wardrobe. An irritated mother from Brooklyn says, “My daughter is five years old and I brought her to this concert to see her favorite singer, Miley Cyrus who is a role model to her, but with the outfits like the ones she was wearing, I don’t know how verifiable the whole idea of her as a role model is.” Most audie n c e goers’ thought t h a t Cyrus was ind e e d trying to break out of her Disney character, Hannah Montana, and establish a more mature, sexy per-

“Regardless of her outfits, Cyrus put on a great show which made her fans anticipate her next upcoming songs.”

sona. Regardless of her outfits, Cyrus put on a great show which made her fans anticipate her next upcoming songs. Continuing to wear the same short black leather outfit, Miley Cyrus performed a rendition of music genre pop rock Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, “I love Rock and Roll,” sparked the attention of her fans when she sat on top of a motorcycle hovering over her fans. Cyrus’ performance of her current hit single, “Party in the USA,” off of Cyrus’s 2009 album, “The Time of Our Lives,” sparked the audience to sing along with her. Though the concert was all about Miley, the inner Hannah Montana came alive when she performed the “Hoedown Throwdown,” and the audience followed her step by step. When it came time for the concert to end, sad faces emerged throughout the Prudential Center. Cyrus completed the concert with one of her famous songs, “The Climb.” Eight year old Gina from the Bronx says, “The whole entire concert was awesome, I love her so much and I wish I could see the concert over and over again.” Miley’s exceptional singing and acting skills came alive during this concert from start to finish leaving her fans fulfilled.

“When it came time for the concert to end, sad faces emerged throughout the Prudential Center.”

by KATELYN MERCIER and JAZMIN JAMES Staff Writers

WHICH HOLIDAY MOVIE MATCHES THE QUOTES? Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, Adam Sandler’s: Eight Crazy Nights, A Perfect Holiday, Deck the Halls, Fred Claus, A Christmas Carol, Dr. Seuss’: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Santa Claus 2, The Year Without A Santa Claus, The Polar Express, Elf “There will be three ghosts visiting you.” “Now, he’s just a 33 year old crazy Jewish guy who lives to make his town as miserable as he is, especially on the first nights of Hanukkah.” “Found this on the seat of my sleigh. Better fix that hole in your pocket.” “I’m here to see Walter Hobbs. I’m Buddy, the elf.” “Santa when the magic gets to zero you won’t be able to come back to the North Pole.” “Chris has Memorial Day. Pete has the Fourth of July, but I have Christmas. You can have Halloween.” “I think it is absolutely amazing to think he can fly around to a million houses in one night, breaking and entering…scaring little children while they’re sleeping...” “Gifts, gifts…gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts. You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me… in your garbage.” “Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nit-wit, just because my nose glows, seems I don’t fit in.” “Bad kid. Yeah, except for this one little girl, all she wanted is for some dude to come up to her mother and give her a compliment.” “They call me Heat Miser. Whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch. I’m too much.”


Entertainment

December 23, 2009

Page 15

‘The Lovely Bones’ haunts theaters The movie itself was a meandering hodgepodge of supernatural fantasy, family drama, serial killer thriller and a coming-of-age story that never quite works well together. No sooner do we begin to get invested in a scene than we are ripped away back into the other

being a playground for an overload of fanciful CGI effects. Jackson gets lost in these visual effects, rather than developing the Things that go “bump” in the night characters who should play in never bother visionary director Pethe forefront of the movie’s plot. ter Jackson. In fact, a film without Stanley Tucci is really the only some form of fear-inducing, haircast member whose performance raising or spine-chilling creature offers the audience something just would not fit his mold of to rave about. He subtly etcha movie at all. es a portrait of a very real devil It is no surprise that his latin a film whose main wow-facest movie, The Lovely Bones, contor is based solely on an excess cerns the story about a ghost, of whimsical CGI effects. based on Alice Sebold’s bestIt seems shameful that in a selling novel. movie about a murdered girl, The perceived difference the most interesting character between The Lovely Bones and is her killer. previous movies that Jackson Jackson never quite manages directed, including Lord of the to weave the family drama, Rings, is clearly evident, though the thriller, or the fantastical not necessarily in a good way. coming-of-age story together Susie Salmon, played by into an effective whole. Atonement’s Saorise Ronan, is Each storyline on its own has victimized, raped and murmoments of true power and dered by her perverted neighpoignancy, but the end result bor. leaves the viewer stranded in In her afterlife, Susie does a cinematic “In-Between” denot haunt the living. Rather, void of lasting emotional inshe watches over her grieving, Photo/ AP Imeages vestment. shattered family, including dad Jack (Mark Wahlberg), LIFE AFTER DEATH: Ghost Susie Salmon (Saorise Ronan) ventures into the “In-Between” after she is killed. From her lofty seat in the The Lovely Bones is not an incredibly awful movie, but it mom Abigail (Rachel Weitz), afterlife, she watches her family piece together the mystery of her murder. definitely does not substantisister Lindsey (Rose McIver), and detective Len Fenerman (Michael Jackson knows better than most outspoken Grandma Lynn (Susan Imperioli). about the perils and pitfalls of realm, which is composed of a ate the $10 ticket costs. candy-coated pre-teen’s view of a Director: Peter Jackson. Written by: Sarandon). Jack’s obsession ultimately drives adapting a beloved bestseller into She reaches her family mem- a wedge between himself and a movie. But the good fortune that dream world that does not exist in Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens; Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Mark bers from the “In-Between,” his wife, while Lindsey begins to he had with the Lord of the Rings tril- the novel. The “In-Between” is demoted to Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci; PG-13. a fantastical dream world ogy escapes him in The Lovely Bones. by STEPHANIE ENG Staff Writer

in

which she is trapped. Susie observes her father, who becomes increasingly obsessed with solving her murder. He even goes to the extent of conducting his own investigations. His obsession is much to the chagrin of local

rightfully suspect that their seemingly ordinary neighbor, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), may actually be Susie’s killer. Susie must come to terms with her own death and her quest for vengeance if she and her family are to ever find some peace.

‘The Blind Side’ opens eyes Songs ring out at

“big brother”, coaches and trains him for football season, and negotiates deals for himself with Michael’s college football sponsors. Nonstop sobbing and laughter Audiences adore “Big Mike” as he keep viewers engaged and in love bonds the Tuohy family with his with The Blind Side, a film about time and affection. The Tuohy’s the real life story of the Baltimore learn appreciation, especially Raven’s offensive lineman Michael when a Christian social woman Oher. comments, “You’re changing that Released on November 20, The boy’s life” and Mrs. Tuohy replies, Blind Side offers a variety of witty, “No, he’s changing mine.” powerful, and sensitive characters Sandra Bullock wows audiences who impact audiences through with her best performance yet as a wide range of emotions never Mrs. Touhy, an affectionate moththought possible to be in one film. er, supportive friend, loyal and Based on the tragic life of Michael hardworking Oher, wife. the RaAs of Deven’s cember 10, The rookie Blind Side deoffenfeated The Twis i v e light Saga: New lineMoon, winning m a n , number one t h e at the box ofmovie fice. The film features also grossed Quin$134,761,539 in ton Aar21 days of its on, who release. s u c The Blind Side is cessfulOscar worthy ly porPhoto/theblindsidemovie.com for its powertrays a y o u n g ‘THE BLIND SIDE’AWES AUDIENCES The Tuohy family, as shown above, opens their ful acting and stoa n d home to Michael Oher and provides a superior life for him with a private Christian education, foot- moving ryline based on h o m e - ball scholarships, and college opportunities. Michael Oher’s l e s s life. Worthwhile of anyone’s time, boy struggling to overcome pov- place in spring football. erty, crime and drugs. “Big Mike” is not only a big guy but the two hour film causes viewers Viewers watch “Big Mike’s” jour- he reveals a big heart right from the to fear, smile, laugh, and cry. Directed by John Lee Hancock, based on the ney from suffering painful abuses start. Unable to completely grasp in the slums of Memphis, Ten- football plays and techniques, he book by Michael Lewis, produced by Gil Netnessee to his academic and foot- takes reliable advice from the as- ter, Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnball achievements, absorbing each sertive Mrs. Tuohy, leaving movie son. Released by Warner Brothers Pictures. experience one deep breath at a audiences laughing with her stra- Opens on Friday, November 20, 2009. Running time: 2 hours. Rated PG-13 for on and time. tegic analogies. off-field violence, and some drug and sexual Although the story line reSean Jr., the Tuohy’s only son, references. Starring: Sandra Bullock (Leigh volves around him, the Tuohy’s, a enlightens audiences with his hu- Anne Tuohy), Tim McGraw (Sean Tuohy), wealthy, athletic, southern white morous comments and adorable Quinton Aaron (Michael Oher), Lily Collins family, are the ones who create an size. He refers to Michael as his (Collins Tuohy), Jae Head (S J Tuohy) and by AMANDA SEDLMAYER Editor

improved life for Michael. Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) holds her head up high and leads the film with her strong woman persona. She provides a home and family for Michael, demands the football coach to “run the ball” during a game, and rejects the opinions of her weekly Christian women social group. With the formal adoption by the Tuohy family, Michael drives ahead at a Christian private school. Dramatically segregated by color, size and intellect, “Big Mike” stumbles to fit in at school, until he finds his

Ray McKinnon (Coach Cotton).

V e t e r a n ’ s P a r k Jamesburg presents annual tree lighting By JENNA RUTSKY Staff Writer Photo/ Jenna Rutsky

Kicking off this holiday season, Santa rode into Jamesburg on a wailing fire truck, handing candy canes to anxiously waiting children during the annual tree lighting in Veteran’s Park on December 9. The Grace M. Breckwedel Middle School band played the holiday classics: Do You Hear What I Hear, Christmas Chimes and Hanukkah Is Here. Over 100 attendees watched as the GMB and the John F. Kennedy Elementary School chorus sang Jingle Bell Rock and Frosty the Snowman on the grand, white stage assembled in the park. “The students worked very hard to prepare for the tree lighting,” says GMB and JFK school Music Director Stacy Larkins. “I enjoy watching their musical talent progress over the time that we practiced,” she continues. Shawn Reynolds, a GMB band member, says, “I love playing in the band. It was fun playing for my friends.” Jamesburg Superintendent Dr. Gail Verona attended the event and congratulated band members on a job well done. “This year we were very lucky with the beautiful weather. I enjoy coming and seeing the whole community come together,” he says. Following the musical performances, colorful lights illuminated a large pine tree in the center of the

park. “I got so excited as we counted down to light the tree,” says sophomore Paige Rabb. Children and adults alike hung ornaments on the tree, which were presented by Barbara Carpenter, Borough Council President and Tree Lighting Committee Chair. “This is my favorite event because it brings everyone together; I look forward to it every year,” says Carpenter. Hot chocolate and popcorn were served, donated by Sir Ives Caterers and Jamesburg Hardware. “[The tree lighting] is a good community event to come to with family and friends,” says 1985 high school alumni Robert Boulogne. Griffin’s Nursery donated this year’s tree, as all of the festive lights and ornaments were paid for via other donations. The $500 stage was paid for through Jamesburg Fire Department donations, The Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Jamesburg Civic Association and the Borough Engineer Attorneys. “The tree lighting is a Jamesburg tradition. We welcome all local communities to join us,” says Councilman and Tree Lighting Committee member, John Longo. “Everything went over very well,” says Jamesburg Mayor, Anthony LaMantia, as he hands out popcorn to a long line of waiting attendees. “Jamesburg is one big family.” The menorah standing in Veteran’s Park has been lit each night of Hanukkah. The tree stands in the same park as a symbol of the community’s unity and upholding

“Jamesburg is one big family.”


Op-Ed

Page 16

The Monroe Falcon Editors-In-Chief Michael Baumann Theresa Lin

Executive Editor-Copy Ali Deitche

Executive Editors-Layout Carla Palermo Haley Strincoski Editorial Policy The Monroe Falcon is a newspaper dedicated to accurate, ethical, and responsible high school journalism.

Advisor Sandy Appel-Bubnowski

SANDY.BUBNOWSKI@MONROE.K12.NJ.US

From the Editor Hair gel galore at the ‘Jersey Shore’

Inaccurate stereotypes of men who visit the Jersey Shore, referred to as “guidos” on MTV, poorly represent the average New Jersey male. The series has all of America’s impression that Jersey guys get their hair blown out, apply lip gloss and resemble oopma loompas with Ken the Barbie doll’s abs. It then portrays Jersey girls, or guidettes, as females with poofs that rival the height of Marie Antoinette’s wigs, hot pink nails and donning massive amounts of Ed Hardy clothing. For those who have yet to experience the horror-wonder that is Jersey Shore, the series chronicles eight self proclaimed guidos and guidettes as they spend the summer at the Jersey Shore, working at a t-shirt store on the boardwalk by day and clubbing it up every night. Although guidos and guidettes would find the show more or less an on screen parallel of their own lives, many New Jersey citizens take offense to the show’s premiere because of the people MTV chose to represent our state. Hundreds of viewers turn to Facebook to publicly vent their anger, announcing their negative thoughts of the show through status updates. Multiple groups deeming

“The series has all of America’s impression that Jersey guys get their hair blown out, apply lip gloss and resemble oopma loompas...” Jersey Shore a disgrace were created hours after the premiere. While the show pains and degrades New Jersey natives who watch their state characterized by vain, fist pumping guidos and guidettes who cannot use a duck phone, the show still provokes much humor. Nicole, or ‘Snooki’, has an “all about me” attitude that leads to frequent pouting comparable to that of a five year old, making it impossible not to laugh at her immaturity. Pauly D brought what seemed like a lifetime’s supply of hair gel with him to the shore, while cast member, Mike, is pretentious enough to call himself ‘The Situation’ for his ripped abs. Sometimes, things in the realm of stupidity actually cross over into hilarity. Jersey Shore, even with all of its degradation of New Jersey inhabitants and Italian Americans, should be watched for pure enjoyment because of the immaturity and ignorance of the cast. It is not so much MTV’s fault for selecting these stereotypes to present New Jersey than it is the cast members’ fault for their questionable behavior. Case in point, Snooki gets drunk on her first night at the beach house, while Angeline proclaims that folding tee shirts are below her job as a bartender. If Jersey Shore was any less stereotypical of New Jersey residents, no one would care to watch.

December 23, 2009

Life without a cell phone No missed calls for me by THERESA LIN Editor in Chief

I am a sixteen year old girl who has never owned a cell phone. My high school peers wrongly assume that I want a phone and worse yet, they pity my situation. Those under the age of 25 insist that I absolutely need a cell phone, that my life so far has been without direction and lacking contact with the outside world. They look at me like I am deprived of…I don’t know what. Texting fragmented sentences? Calling while outside of my house? I respond with a look of equal confusion. Middle-aged people, however, applaud my ability to withstand the pressures of the times; they proceed to tell me how it was “back in the days,” when calling a friend required first asking for permission from parents who picked up the house phone, before chatting with their friend over the receiver. Though my parents currently do not allow me to have a cell phone, I would get one after little persistency if I earnestly wanted one. However, I am sixteen; I do not want or need a phone. I go to school, I go to practice, I go home by bus. My parents, like the parents of all teenagers, regularly reprimand me, regardless of whether I deserve it or not. I do not own a phone, as the shiny touch screen phone is the disguised medium that parents use to further yell. The cell phone serves as a bargaining agent that is taken away when punished and returned when parents feel fit. I will not give my parents the pleasure. Similarly, in school, I do not have this urge to peek into my purse and send texts about how

much I hate the class I am in to the person in the neighboring room. I can wait to verbalize my frustration in person for my hand gestures to help me illustrate how I feel and to control the tone of my voice in order narrate the story just the way I want it to be told. I always associate reading with printed works like newspapers, novels and essays that required m u c h thought and effort from their authors. Never did I consider reading to be the main source of communication among close friends in the twenty-first century. Laughing alone at a glowing screen suddenly replaces the personal snort and giggle of a friend; instead of hearing these hearty sounds, we pick up our cold keypads and type back, “Lol.” I have essentially, though entirely by choice, become a minority in an age where my friends are intimidated to call my house phone in fear that my parents will answer

the phone first. They make excuses for not calling my home number. In order to maintain communication with my friends, I have to take the initiative to call them first, or at all. My favorite part of not owning a cell phone is when I return home only to hear silence on the answering machine, followed by a rushed dial tone. I laugh, because this is the sound of my friend who will be too shy to call again. When I call the friend who left the message, she accuses me of inconveniencing her. I inconvenience others by being technologically behind. Well, then I am deeply sorry. While I am participating in an after school club or riding the crowded bus home, what is it that you want to talk about anyway? I admit, on high school field trips to Washington D.C. or to New York City, teachers make sure that I have a “buddy” at all times, since I do not have a cell phone. I am not embarrassed; instead, I feel ensured a definite ride home, as no one will forget the little liability.

A3160/S2748 saves teen lives by NIDHI BHATT Guest Writer

It seems as though the government has finally taken a progressive step towards releasing its “stepmommy” chokehold on the American youth. It has relinquished its crown as pseudoparent and finally returned the responsibility of disciplining children back to their parents. Due to the massive time this new ideology had freed for government officials, they decided to do something quite out of the ordinary: legislate. Therefore, on October 1, the NJ Legislature signed bill number A3160/S2748 into law, effectively taking the first steps in preventing alcohol-related deaths among teens in the Garden State. This bill, which takes effect immediately, gives underage persons who are in possession of, or have consumed alcohol, a safe haven. These teens will be granted immunity from prosecution if they call 911 for a person in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption, whether it be for themselves or for their friends. Through the years, alcohol-related crashes have fought their way to become the second leading cause of teenage deaths. Whether it is drunk driving incidents, fires, suicides, homicides or overdoses, it seems teens not only gravitate towards alcohol, but are either unaware or unconcerned with the catastrophic effects of their actions. Mary Pat Angelini (R), Gordon M Johnson (D), Jon M Bramnick (R), and Elease Evans (D), the Assembly primary sponsors of the bill, have made a bipartisan effort (someone, call Obama, it finally happened!) to reduce

the dangerous effects of this kind of behavior. Previously, the government prosecuted all underage persons with a blood alcohol level above 0.0. Now, these same legislators are watching teen drunk driving numbers increase and are beginning to realize that their proactive measures have an

overall effect of: zilch. Underage drinking is increasing and no law is helping quell the numbers. Teens are getting into trouble and then potentially putting others in danger in an attempt to cover up their actions, which, in turn gives legislators the opposite of their desired results. Taking the hint, these politicians have conjured this bill, but not without restrictions. Though teens will not be prosecuted for calling 911 in the event that they, or an-

other teen, need medical assistance for alcohol consumption, driving penalties of a revoked license still apply. Under all other circumstances, the fines also still apply. Though this is no grand step for the government, it is a first step toward more laxed government regulation. If one considers the repeated raise in the legal drinking age, it’s a miracle this bill passed in the first place. Does this new regulation indicate that legislatures have become more attentive to the paradox that is the alcohol regulation? After all, when a teenager turns 18 he or she can get a loan, get married, drive with an unrestricted license, buy lottery tickets, gamble, pay taxes, and fight for their country yet they can’t have a glass of champagne on New Years. Whatever the case, and whatever the motive, teens now have a safe haven which should be used. Three teens die a day from drinking and driving, while another 6 die from other alcohol-related causes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 4,554 underage deaths each year are due to excessive alcohol use. The effects of irresponsibile drivers and the excuses have run out. Teens can no longer wave the flag of fear from persecution. Bill number A3160/S2748 is the first step toward preventing alcohol-related deaths. Though teenagers still drink, the NJ legislature creates a safe haven so that irresponsible drinking does not lead to death. Remember alcohol can lead to death. Drink responsibly. Photo/state.nj.us


December 23, 2009

Op-Ed

Page 17

Verizon’s not America’s most favorite network by JESSICA BILLITZ Staff Writer Verizon’s newest generation of cell phones may have snappy new features like full touch screen and full keyboards, seeming like ideal gifts for the approaching holiday season, but their unreliability may not be worth their high expense. Verizon’s newly released LG EnV2, the LG Dare and the Motorola Rival are notorious for being frequently replaced for consumers for being difficult to operate and their tendency to break. As the quality of cell phones decrease with each new release, the number of cell phones being replaced is on the rise. Monroe Township High School Freshman Tori Matisoff agrees, saying, “I’ve had 13 EnV2s and 8 Venus’ in the past two years.” The necessary replacements were due to the phones becoming unusable and breaking. From the front keypads of the phone becoming unusable to the touch screens malfunctioning, these Verizon Wireless phones guarantee customers trouble. Confusing warranty terms cause consumers difficulty. After Verizon notified me that my warranty ended roughly six weeks into the two-year contract, I experienced disappointment with the company. Attempting to receive a replacement phone, I went to the Verizon Wireless store to look for replacement options. A short while later, I was informed that the stock of the Motorola Rival had run out in the company’s warehouse. After a series of questions and a private talk with the manager, the employee informed me that I would not be able to replace my

phone because the two-year contract expired, less than ninety days into the contract. I left the store with the same broken phone as before and only a telephone number on a slip of paper in which I could reach the customer service hotline. A Verizon Wireless customer and a user of RipoffReport.com encountered a similar situation, saying, “I recently added a line which renewed my contract. I was not told that once you renew your contract that it voids the warranty on your phone even if it’s less than a year old.” The appeal to Verizon customers for phones is most likely the low prices for what appears to be a high quality and efficient phone. Verizon’s LG EnV2 has had its price reduced to a mere $20, most likely due to the desperate need to sell out their stock to release newer, higher quality phones. When asked what Verizon should improve in its phones, sophomore Jon Du says, “The phones should last longer. My EnV2 broke two times, the screen went black.” The quality of the phone as well as the

hassle of re-

placing it with refurbished phones

multiple times is not worth the seemingly low price and stress. An online user on the Verizon Wireless

website forums posts, “They will keep giving you refurbished phones until your warranty runs out, then it is no longer their problem.” According to TopTenReviews.com, Verizon is the highest quality cell phone company, offering the best features and the best help and support. Also, according to the Verizon Wireless website, it provides the least number of dropped calls. However, with Verizon Wireless comes the negative aspect, which includes billing problems, poor customer service, calls being dropped, low quality cell phones, and confusion with warranties as well as contracts. The reviewers at CNET, a website which reviews the quality of electronic devices, state, “Fans praised its “killer service” and “perfect coverage,” while detractors complained of “poor customer service” and called it “locked down and overpriced.” The excessive costs of replacement phones, the price to add features such as text messaging as well as minutes, the low durability of the phones, and the constant fees, choosing high end company Verizon for cell phone service is a risky decision. Though Verizon Wireless has nearly 88 million customers, this does not guarantee that all of them are satisfied customers. When it comes to efficient cell phone service and low cost, one should stick to cell phone service providers like T-Mobile and Sprint, who according to MyRatePlan. com offer the most for your money. A Verizon Wireless customer service representative disconnected a call in regards to commenting on the topic.

Surge in Afghanistan needs more time by MICHAEL BAUMANN Editor-in-Chief In an attempt to both clarify and justify his decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama outlined his strategy at West Point Military Academy in national address on December 1. His proposed method to bring the war to an end ultimately serves as the right choice for America, as its forces have been fairly unsuccessful in suppressing al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the region. “It’s easy to forget that when this war began, we were united, bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear,” says Obama to a particularly somber audience of gray-clad West Point cadets and various prominent government officials, such as General David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again.” While this garnered enthusiastic applause in the Eisenhower Hall Theatre, Obama’s speech as a whole was not a passionate, rousing call to arms. Instead, the president delivered a carefully executed, thoughtful speech detailing what he aimed to accomplish with the surge. It was the professor lecturing to his cautious yet attentive students. Obama’s strategy calls for 300,000 troops to be deployed within the next six months. The first will arrive in Afghanistan in early 2010, and all U.S. forces will begin to withdraw from the region in July 2011. Stressing the importance of suppressing Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in the region, President Obama explained how the surge would give the extra push U.S. forces desperately require in order to succeed against the insurgency. Obama also detailed how the additional troops would train and augment Afghanistan’s own military, enabling it to deal with the extremist factions after the United States

has withdrawn the majority of its forces. He also pledged to support the Afghan government so that it would be able to take full responsibility for conflicts in its future. However, the president does not want “to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests,” and says the United States will not prolong its stay in Afghanistan in attempts to nation-build. Because support for the war is currently dwindling, Obama wisely did not vow to maintain a high troop presence while spending billions to build up Afghanistan’s infrastructure. The United States ideally hopes that its soldiers effectively accomplish their mission and return home as quickly as possible. One of Obama’s most heavily stressed points called for a renewal of positive relations with Pakistan. Although Pakistan has been resistant to a proactive involvement in the war effort in the past, its forces have recently waged offensives against extremists in the bordering area between itself and Afghanistan. “Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust,” says Obama. “We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear.” Despite the clarity, if not dryness, of his speech, Obama has drawn criticism from both liberals and conservatives in regards to his plans for Afghanistan. Yet, while some of the criticisms seem perfectly valid, others appear to be the nit-picking typical of stiff partisanship.

The day after Obama’s address, Secretary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to drum up support for the president’s plan. As explained by Gates, Obama’s proposed approach is not to create a brand new civilization in Afghanistan, as it “is neither necessary nor feasible to create a modern, centralized, Western-style Afghan nationstate… the likes of which has never been seen” there. Rather, the focus is on “disrupting, dismantling and eventually defeating al- Qaeda” through the expansion of the Afghan military to deal with such threats. Many in Washington consider it to be a sensible strategy, yet Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, believes that rushing 30,000 soldiers to the Middle East in the next few months is not the best course of action. According to Levin, the primary issue in the war is “not a shortage of American combat troops; it is a shortage of Afghan troops.” He claims a rapid insertion of so many troops does not properly suit the current situation because Afghan recruits do not have enough time to be properly trained before the arrival of additional American soldiers. Another high-ranking member of the committee, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, heavily criticized the president’s inclusion of a time line to withdraw before boots are even on the ground. In doing so, the president and his administration will send “the wrong impression” to their enemies, allies, the public and American soldiers. “It should end when we have achieved our goals… success is the real exit strategy,” says McCain. “That is when our troops should

“It should end when we have achieved our goals… success is the real exit strategy,”

start to return home with honor, not one minute longer, not one minute sooner, and certainly not on some arbitrary date in July 2011.” No matter what points are brought up or how strongly any politician argues, the execution of the surge will be debated long after the last soldier is shipped off to the Middle East. Yet, there appears to be a strong consensus in Washington that Obama has the right idea, and additional forces are deemed necessary for success in Afghanistan. Hopefully, the noble men and women of the U.S. armed forces accomplish their mission before the welcome mat is entirely worn out, as it is already highly tattered. Many who have called for the withdrawal of troops in Iraq now call for the withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan, condemning Obama’s 30,000-troop surge. These people fail to realize that the conflicts and conditions of these nations are entirely different; just because the United States can begin to leave one does not mean it can do the same for the other. Afghanistan is its own war, and its current state shows that America cannot hope to succeed if additional forces are not sent. It is not Iraq, and it is most certainly not another Vietnam, as some critics have ridiculously claimed. In a cruel twist of irony, Obama formally accepted his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway on December 10, mere days after the announcement of the surge. In his acceptance speech, the president defended his decision, saying that America is waging a “just war.” For now, the public should stand firmly behind the president’s choice, as he is acting in the best interests of both Afghanistan and the United States. However, if July 2011 passes and American soldiers are still attempting to suppress alQaeda and Taliban forces, Obama will more than likely be facing an angry constituency in the upcoming 2012 presidential election.


Sports

Page 18

Football continued from page 1 played. The first song that the Monroe Falcons heard “Black Betty” by Ram Jam as they stormed the field. The song is nostalgic for Falcon players who would sing the lyrics when pushing thier sled, nicknamed, “Black Betty.” The team opened on defense leading to a three and out by Middle Town South, and a 16 yard touchdown run by Bascom. Middle Town South immediately answered back with a touchdown followed by a Monroe fumble by Bascom near Monroe’s 40 yard line. Fortunately for the Falcons this promising position only resulted in a field goal. Just has things began to look bleak for Monroe, junior quarterback Alex Vizcaino connected with junior Michael Walp for a 18 yard touchdown that put Monroe up 14-10 going into the second half. Energetic Monroe players ran off the field, pumped and confident for the start of third quarter. Meanwhile, on the other side of the field few MTS players walked lathargically off the field with their heads down. The third quarter started off right where Monroe left off behind the reins; controlling the game. Bascom ran the ball right up the middle for a 44 yard touchdown and an explosion of cheers from the fans as Monroe extended its lead to 21-10. Monroe kept the tempo moving, they played suffocating defense the whole second half including a forced and recovered fumble as well as a safety by senior linebacker Chris Geist after a botched snap. 30-10 was a score no one, including the coaching staff and players, could have predicted. Even if they did, it would have been in favor of the Eagles. Monroe was the definite underdog coming into the game as MTS only let up an average of ten yards per halfback in each regular season game. Monroe scored 30 points on a defense that only let up 45 points the whole season. Monroe ran for a combined 241 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcon’s bench stormed the field igniting a celebration after the victory. Debellis even jumped into the fan section, crowd surfing in the final minutes of the game. Though MTS fans had a bigger turn out at first, Monroe fans proved greater in number in the end. As Monroe fans started the grills, cooked their breakfasts and started enjoyed the atmosphere, MTS fans arrived in an oversized RV, fully loaded with a huge charcoal grill and tents. Once the game started Monroe fans packed to almost maximum capacity, compared to Middle Town South fans who only filled about three quarters of their bleachers. Monroe won the first ever state championship in Monroe history. Much like every other game that they played this season,they won in dominating fashion.

December 23, 2009

Bowling team hopes for turkeys Rolling down the lane to success by CHRISTINA MATTINA Staff Writer

Photo/Jackie Push

RUNNING THE BALL Junior Michael Mahmoud runs the ball up the court during a varsity basketball team practice.

Promising year in store for varsity basketball by JOEY ROMANCZUK Editor

The varsity basketball team starts what should be another promising season away against Colonia. The young Falcons are lead by seniors Tim Brix, Kenny Pace, Blake Bascom, Zack Batchelor and Travis Dufner. Backed by juniors Kashaun Stroughn, Alex Vizcaino, Michael Mahmoud and Michael Walp, followed up by strong play

from sophomores Ahmid Williams and Danny Brix. This season’s schedule proves to provide some bumps in their road to a State Championship, including arch-rival Spotswood, whom Monroe suffered a devastating loss to last season. While the Falcons are projected to be looking down at the rest of the Greater Middlesex Conference all season long, Montgomery should be Monroe’s biggest test on the state level.

He takes a few hurried steps forward, then releases the ball down the shiny, waxed lane. The ball hurdles forward, as the team’s eyes follow it intently. At the moment of impact, the pins fall and scatter… STRIKE! The Monroe bowling team, which plays at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, prepares for a successful season of strikes, spares, high scores and teamwork. Head Coach Mr. Brian Latwis and Assistant Coach Ms. Samantha Grimaldi joke around while the team competes. “It’s a lot of fun,” says sophomore team member Bridget Dipierro. Latwis says, “We want to have a good time and enjoy what we do.” He adds that students thinking about joining the bowling team should “come out… it’s a fun time, a fun experience.” Latwis coaches bowling because he has “always been a bowler, and also likes getting involved both in and out of the classroom.” The team’s biggest obstacle for the team is that many members are still “very young,” as four students graduated from last year’s varsity team, making the girls’ team a “veteran” team with more experience. The team consists of ten boys and

ten girls. The varsity team has six of each, and junior varsity has four of each. This year experienced members and captains Kelsie Chasan, Jessica Dipierro and Jessica Zirkel lead the girls team, while boys team captains Nick Chen and Joe Doubt motivate the boys. Junior Jessica Dipierro says that her responsibilities as a captain include “helping out the team, getting them pumped up and ready to bowl, and getting them prepared to win.” Another key ingredient to the team’s success is their star bowler, senior Nick Chen. He says he joined the team because it is something he “excels at and enjoys doing.” He says that the team “has a lot of potential” and that “as the season progresses, we should see big improvements.” Chen and the other boys’ captain, senior Joe Doubt, both attempted to bowl a 300, the highest achievable score in bowling. Doubt bowled a 288 on December 8, with 10 strikes in a row, while Chen scored a 278 with nine strikes in a row. The Falcon bowlers anticipate a competitive season through to January, though the team members maintain that fun-filled competitions mean more than any victory.

Winter track on right foot by THERSEA LIN Editor-in-Chief

Boys and girls winter track teams brace the cold as they train separately for the first time, by events rather than by gender. The team hopes this new method will show effective results like faster times and improved records overall. New Boys Head Coach, Ms. Traci Rickert, stands at the finish line toward the end of practice, waiting for the runners to finish thier last few laps. Though she is new to the team, Rickert applies her personal knowledge of running to lead this team. She says, “I always enjoy coaching and getting involved with students outside of the classroom, because they show a different side of their personalities.” Rickert, along with new Assistant Coach Mr. Chris Jessop and returning Assistant Coach Mr. John Murphy, has already set high standrds for this team. Rickert ran throughout high school and through parts of college, most recently coaching track at Point Pleasant High School. “I can’t wait to see us to grow and become more united as a team,” says Varsity distance runner, junior Francis San Andres. “Even after our first practice, we can tell that Ms. Rickert and Mr. Jessop know what they are doing,” he continues. This season will be dedicated to rebuilding the team, after the loss a few seniors last year. “We have a couple of incoming freshman and

still some returning members. This is good, since we lost many seniors last year. We are going to have a lot of fun,” says San Andres. Many runners use winter track as a training season for the more competitive spring track season, while just as many athletes use winter track as a means to stay conditioned between fall and spring sports. San Andres, who runs all three seasons, says he does not mind first-time or non-competitive runners, “As long as they contribute to the team. It is just important that they try and make an effort on the team.” In order to improve times for any event, runners do weight training with new throwing coach Mr. Ben Glaz, as well focus on the correct form for running, something that Rickert says many runners forget. Rickert, working with Head Girls Coach Ms. Rachel Van Horn, says she ultimately wants “the runners to feel like they have learned more about running, and that they have accomplished something by the end of the season.” Coaches and runners alike look forward to the first meet at the New York Armory, where the abilities of the team members will meet their greatest potential. “I like it when I push myself and see improvement,” says junior Keith Anacker, a Varsity distance runner for mainly 1600 and 800 meter events. He continues, “I get a sense of accomplishment after I run. At the same time, I get to be around my friends on the team.”

Photo/ Thersea Lin

RUNNER ON THE RIGHT FOOT Junior Michael Baumann prepare for another blazing winter season on December 3.

Coming back from a recent injury. Anacker focuses on simply staying healthy and conditioning.

Like the rest of his team , Anacker says, “I am looking forward to a great season.”


December 23, 2009

Sports

Page 19

Ice hockey off to slippery start by ADITYA PAEL Staff Writer Monroe’s ice hockey team won a 7-4 victory over Red Bank Regional on December 5, marking their first win of the season despite two losses with a new coach and a freshman goalie. Monroe was off to a quick start with four unanswered goals during the first period, the results of solid teamwork and communication. Hoping to keep their momentum going, Monroe scored early in the second period, but allowed Red Bank to score before the second period could end. Red Bank retaliated with three consecutive goals following the intermission, but Monroe sealed the game with two goals in the last two minutes. As Monroe rallies from the win over Red Bank, the Falcons look to improve on problems incorporated with a new coach and goalie into the team. Coach Jerry Minter, who played and coached hockey for West Virginia University and freshman goalie Roger Ezri try to adjust to their roles on the team. “We need to stick to our systems and feet,” says Minter about how the team can improve and win games. Despite the win over Red Bank, Monroe lost the season opener to Marlboro on December 1 and its third game of the season to South Brunswick on December 11. “The team needs to work on communication and teamwork,” says Ezri.

left: TEAM WORK AND DEFENSE #2 junior Nick Modugno focuses on protecting the goal and the goalie while on defense. Monroe did not let up a goal in the first period against Red Bank Regional on December 5 resulting in an early 4-0 lead. Solid play at both ends of the rink lead Monroe to a 7-4 win. below: PUCK CONTROL Monroe sophmore #25 Stan Monak skates the puck up the rink uncontested as Monroe looks to push the tempo during the Red Bank Regional game. Monroe will need to find their momentum on offense in order to get past Manalapan, West Orange, and Howell.

Photos/Jackie Push

This was evident when Monroe was shutout against South Brunswick in the 0-4 loss, following their first win. With the season off to a rocky start, Monroe looks to fix problems, but retain some of their good qualities, such as their offense. “We know how to put the puck in the net, we just need to improve fighting for loose pucks,” says sophomore forward Eddie Stulak. With upcoming games at Manalapan, West Orange, and Howell high schools, Monroe looks to turn their season around. Minter says he hopes “to develop team and individual skills, and get to the state championship.” After a 1-2 start of the season, Monroe will need to reassess their goals and improve.

New season brings new coach

Lady Falcons Jacoutot’s wrestling experience helps team get ready for strong season look to succeed by DAN MORGANS Staff Writer Applegarth Middle School history teacher Bill Jacoutot begins his first season as the high school coach of the varsity wrestling team. In his inaugeral season, Jacoutot hopes to continue the team’s previous success. “He is a good coach,” says senior co-captain Sam Emburgia, who went to the state tournament last season. “He is way more serious than other coaches that the team has had.” Jacoutot wrestled all four years during high school at Spencerport, where he later coached. He also wrestled at the University of Buffalo for five years. “I feel great about coaching in Monroe.

It’s a good opportunity that can bring a lot of success,” says Jacoutot, who previously coached at Peddie High School and most recently at Applegarth. Out of the team’s eight returning wrestlers, two qualified for the 2008 state championship. The team works to reach that level again this year. “We need to keep improving,” says Jacoutot. He believes that the team has a lot of work to do before the first meet. Many wrestlers need to fine-tune skills. A September 7 scrimmage with Point Pleasant Borough showed Jacoutot what his team still needs. “We need to work on getting better position and keeping it,” he says. “We also need to work on using the skills

that we know and what we are learning in practice.” Despite the loss of last season’s seniors, team members remain optimistic about the upcoming season. The captains focus on working hard and improving. “The newer wrestlers need to work, but overall the team is going to be good,” says Emburgia. The team aspires to compete against South Plainfield in States. “South Plainfield is one of our toughest opponents, but we will see what happens,” says Emburgia. Jacoutot instills a winning attitude that his wrestlers already reflect. “I just want to win. I want to be the best around and let nothing bring us down,” says senior co-captain Hunter Pipalla.

Photo/Haley Strincoski TAKING DIRECTIONS Sophmore Jason Saley looks up at Coach Bill Jacoutot for directions before practicing with junior Jared Warren for the next wrestling match on December 19 at Roselle Park. Jacoutot hopes to work on technique and better position.

by JOEY ROMANCZUK Editor

Lady Falcon Varsity basketball had no seniors on the team last year. This year, however, four veteran seniors on the team prepare for the tough, but promising road ahead. “Seniors this year need to show the juniors and seniors of next year the ropes. And need to keep each other together as a team,” says Head Coach Mrs. Sandra Mascali. “We need to focus on the fundamentals and team defense. If everyone uses their talents we can succeed,” she continues. The Falconsstaring line up is led by junior point guard Stacey Coyle, senior shooting guard Megan Mascali, senior shooting forward Katie Douglas, junior power forward Alexa Appignani, and sophomores Tori Clayton and Jacqueline Racine splitting time at center filling in for the injured junior Meghan Williams. Coyle says, “I think it’s very important that we work together as a team, specifically on rebounding and preventing fewer turnovers. We have worked together in the offseason to improve as a team, and we are going to keep working hard to get better.” Lady Falcons need to develop team cooperation in order to play well during harder games this season. Monroe faces Cardinal McCarrick, Bishop Ahr, North Brunswick and Colonia in their first week. Mascali believes that these predicted losses can be victories if the girls work hard enough. “If we play at our best we can beat teams like Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Ahr,” says Mascali. The team worked hard during off season. All of the girls took part in a summer league, that allowed them to play with each other before the season started. They also improved their skills at Princeton University. The girls open their season at home on December 18 against a talented Colonia team. They will try to improve from last year’s lackluster season.


Season’s Greetings

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December 23, 2009


December 2009