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Spark Lakota East High School $3 Newsstand March 17, 2010


2 | Spark | March 17, 2010


This Issue: Alternative Sports


Issue Four The Lakota School District is faced with an economic situation that depends on a levy.



40 26 Pumping Adrenaline

Sarah Fanning and Allison Korson examine the growing popularity of recreational paintball among East students.

going Meatless Spark explains the differences between veganism and vegetarianism.


29 The Ultimate Game

Faiz Siddiqui explores the life of East junior Jennifer Flick and her love for the game of Ultimate.


Senior Citizens East students organize and attend a prom for senior citizens at Heritagespring.


Slimming down Junior Brady Williamson shows what it takes to lose weight the hard way.

32 horsing around

Anjana Jagpal delves into the lives of three East seniors who have discovered the joy of horseback riding.

35 The Battle for Bids

Kaity Conner examines how Jamfest Super Nationals are revolutionizing the way local dance studios relate to one another.

38 hitting the slopes

Weston Neal interviews East senior John Caputo about his life-long affinity for skiing.


Pizza madness Spark reviews six local pizzerias based on toppings, aesthetics and flavor.


The playlist Junior Sarah Fanning shares her love of Kid Cudi, Lil Wayne and Owl City. 3 | Spark | March 17, 2010

opinion | letters

Forum realize that when they go out into the world, they will not know what to do. Most people have it made in life without any challenges. I work very hard in class and barely pass while someone else who messes around gets an A plus. I just do not get it. As I struggle to get ahead, others who mess around pass with no hassle at all. I just wonder why teachers do not discipline students to be more polite and to have manners. I really think the people who work hard every day and are more caring about their future should be the ones getting the As, but at the same time no one should be left behind. I’m not trying to judge, I just wish people should get what they worked hard for, like more based on your effort and work ethic. —Alex Gentry, East junior

Dear Spark, I don’t know why there was an article about healthy eating and how they had to raise the prices on foods so they could have healthier foods. I don’t understand how the article talks about how we should eat more healthy foods to decrease health problems when the school is the one that sells pizza, fries, chips, cookies and candy bars. The schools sells things that kids like to eat, and if we see it we want to buy it, so instead of selling all the junk food, they should sell healthy foods, and if we want to bring chips or cookies we should bring them from home. I don’t think they should say that they had to raise prices for healthy foods when I don’t see any healthy foods. The only healthy things are the salads, which aren’t that appetizing because they are soggy. —Sutherlin Ramsey, East junior Dear Spark, This letter is about a concern from a Lakota East High School student about the voice of Lakota students and the way that their voice is not heard enough. My main concern is in your latest issue of Spark, in the section that contains Spark playlist. In my opinion that would look a lot better if it were the general students’ favorite music, not someone from Spark. It would look better if it was more focused on the general population’s favorite music and now just one person. Take more surveys, take more polls and find ways to get the people’s opinions to let the students of Lakota East know you’re listening and that you hear their voices. Have more quotes, have more interesting news articles on things that East students want to hear about. Like the weather forecasts or the football games of television shows. This is just a concern from a proud Lakota East student. Thank you for your time and cooperation. —Austin Sumner, East junior

Dear Spark, I enjoy reading Spark in my spare time for entertainment and as a way to stay busy. I like that Spark touches on things students are actually interested in, such as NERF wars, the legalization of drugs, our Italian exchange student and the other goings on in East life. I would like to see more articles on theater, books and music. Do a cover on the spring musical or the teenage obsession with the Twilight series. Maybe do an exposé on one student’s personal interests. —Kimberly Knox, East sophomore Dear Spark, I think that Spark needs to write an article about how students need to take school seriously. We need teachers to get more students to be motivated. I am in the slower classes and I work my butt off and listen very intently to make sure I understand everything my teachers are saying. However, most of the students I sit next to in class just talk and mess around. None of them

Got Something To Say? The Spark, which provides an open forum for students, faculty, subscribers and community members, encourages letters to the editor. Letters can be sent to the publication at the address below or dropped off in the journalism classroom (room 118). Letters must be signed, and the staff reserves the right to edit letters for length, grammar, invasion of privacy, obscenity or potential libel. The Opinion Editors will contact letter writers for confirmation. Spark c/o Lakota East High School 6840 Lakota Lane Room 118 attn: Opinion Editor Liberty Township, OH 45044 Phone: (513) 759-8615 ext 15118 Fax: (513) 759-8633 Email:

Spark Notes In the November 2004 issue of the Spark, the 2004 Presidential Election dominated the news and opinion sections in the wake of Ohio’s role in President George W. Bush’s reelection. Other election results covered included the Ohio gay marriage ban and the failure of the Lakota Local Schools levy.

4 | Spark | March 17, 2010

The package for this issue focused on the increasing popularity of poker among high school students. Entertainment covered the opening of the Cincinnati Mills mall. The sports section discussed Micth Reynolds’ role in East’s historic 2004 football season.

Spark Kevin Li, Dana Sand Editor-in-Chief Sally Ryan Business Manager Radhika Madhavan Design Manager Caroline Tompkins Photo Manager Tyler Castner, Anna Hartman Managing Editor Amanda Kaine Copy Director Katrina Echternacht Layout Director Lauren Ellis, Dan Garrett, Victoria Liang Entertainment Editor Alyssa Davis, Kim Shearer Feature Editor Meredith Bleuer, Liv Devitt Lifestyle Editor Jill Bange, Ariadne Souroutzidis, Kavya Sreevalsan News Editor Ryan Fay, Lisa Liu, Nitya Sreevalsan Opinion Editor Justine Chu, Mason Hood, Lucy Stephenson Package Editor Sarah Fanning, Faiz Siddiqui, Sarah Wilkinson Sports Editor Abby Buns, Logan Schneider, Heidi Yang, Sarah Zins Art Section Editor Eric Muenchen, Dan Turner Photo Section Editor Sarah Craig Business Associate Allison Korson, Anjana Jagpal Public Relations Director Brittany Bennett Survey Coordinator Dean Hume Advisor Spark is a publication that is produced at Lakota East High School. The magazine is completely student-generated through the efforts of the Journalism I, Journalism II and Journalism III-Honors classes. The publication material may not always reflect the views of the Lakota Local School District. Content is controlled and edited by the staff editors. The staff will publish only legally protected speech adhering to the legal definitions of libel, obscenity and the invasions of privacy. The publication is produced every five weeks. Production costs are covered through advertising sales, subscription sales and fundraisers. Advertising information can be obtained by writing to the business manager at the address below or at sparkbusiness@ The purpose of Spark is to inform the students, faculty, subscribers and community members of news, information and issues that may influence or affect them. Spark accepts news releases, guest columns and sports information releases. Spark is a member of the National Scholastic Press Association, the Ohio Scholastic Media Association, the Northeastern Ohio Scholastic Press Association, the Journalism Education Association, Quill and Scroll and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Spark c/o Lakota East High School 6840 Lakota Lane Liberty Township, OH 45044 Phone: (513) 759-8615 ext 15118 Fax: (513) 759-8633 Email:

From The Editor Walking to the edge of the blue square mat, my palms began to sweat and the sound of my teammates chanting was drowned out by the pounding of my heart. I patiently stood outside the white tape border line, anxiously awaiting the judge’s salute to signal the beginning of my routine. As the music started, I devoted all of my attention to performing the best floor routine I could—this was what made all the hours of practice worth it. My parents enrolled me in gymnastics classes at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy (CGA) at the ripe age of three years old. I was the odd ball in the family because all of my cousins play soccer, and both of my brothers played several mainstream sports. As the youngest in the family, I was often dragged to soccer, basketball, baseball and cross country events, but my mom was the only supporter at the majority of my competitions. Although gymnastics is considered more alternative than sports like soccer, it still taught me the meaning of being a team member and provided me with a sense of belonging, just like any other sport. By age 10, I was practicing four hours a day, four days a week, not including 10-hour competitions on the weekends. Gymnastics developed the genuine dedication and strong work ethic that still influence my actions in every aspect of my life, and despite none of my school friends participating in it, I found it to be the perfect sport for me. According to the United Nations Inter-agency Taskforce on Sport for Development and Peace, “Incorporated into the definition of ‘sport’ are all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction. These include: play; recreation; organized, casual or competitive sport; and indigenous sports or games.” With 74 percent of 500 surveyed East students believing that East should offer intramural sports and 23 percent saying they play a sport they would not consider mainstream, the athletics available to students are no longer all-encompassing. Of the same 500 students, 25 percent are planning to play a varsity sport in college and 28 percent an intramural sport, so students need outlets through which they are not only able to practice but also to engage in healthy social activities. According to the Association for Applied Sports Psychology, exercise reduces stress, improves ability to cope with stress, improves self-esteem, improves body image, increases feelings of energy and decreases symptoms of depression. These benefits should be utilized, especially when the popularity of a number of sports that have yet to be offered at East—along with a few that are working toward becoming school-sanctioned sports—is growing. The list of these sports includes horseback riding and competitive dance, which seven percent and 11 percent of surveyed East students engage in, respectively. Paintball has also been gaining popularity, with 40 percent of students having played it. Other alternative sports have formed teams with the East name but are not yet school-sanctioned; they still, however, lack recognition, shown by the fact that 26 percent of surveyed students were not aware the ice hockey team existed and 84 percent have never attended a game. While there are some sports that have been popular for a long time, sports change and develop based on the interest a culture shows in them. Gymnastics began as an activity Greeks did in the nude in their communal bath areas; as one can observe, the sport has come a long way. These new alternative sports are in the process of changing, and school systems need to change with them.

“My mom was the only supporter at the majority of my competitions.”

5 | Spark | March 17, 2010

news | world map


Farr West, Utah

[March 1] After the FBI reported that a white substance may have been mailed to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building, it was forced to be decontaminated. This act was one of the many issues surrounding the IRS lately, as people have been acting out due to foreclosures.

Beijing, China

Brussels, Belgium

[March 1] A pirate mothership off the coast of Somalia was sunk in the Indian Ocean after being fired at by a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Danish flagship. The crew was allowed to leave the ship before being fired upon.

[March 5] A kindergarten teacher admitted to using a needle to prick 63 students as a method of punishment. She is suspected to have a mental disorder, involving multiple personalties.

Baghdad, Iraq

[March 7] Iraqis fought their way through bombs, mortars and grenades in order to vote in their new democracy. As the voters were attacked going to the polls, 36 were killed. The Islamic State of Iraq, affiliated with Al-Qaida, had threatened to attack as ramifications for voting.

Jos, Nigeria

Mannheim, Germany [March 1] Ernst Zundel, a Holocaust denier, was released from jail after five years. He had been convicted for 14 counts of promoting anti-semitic hate crimes and denying the existence of the Holocaust, a crime in Germany.

infographic abby buns

[March 8] Over 200 people, primarily Christian, were slaughtered by rioters brandishing machetes. The killers attacked three villages, whose dead are being buried in mass graves.

information –

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number of East athletes who signed to play sports in college, like Kaitlyn Buczek who signed ► to University of Cincinnati.


rating of the ► average winning local pizza in Spark’s taste test

news | world map

A New Era in East English story nathan dibble



ast’s English department experienced a change in its staff this year; Ashley Whitely is the new English department head. As the new English department head, Whitely acts as a spokesperson for her department, coordinates the English teachers’ schedules and chooses who will teach East’s English courses. “First the English teachers give me a list of what they would prefer to teach, and then I create a suggested schedule that goes on to the administration,” said Whitely, a seven-year English teacher. Assistant Principal Christopher Kloesz interviewed Whitely and two other applicants for the department head position. According to Kloesz, Whitely was chosen because of her abilities and background. “Mrs. Whitely possesses the abilities to be successful as the new English department head,” said Kloesz. As the liaison between the Lakota Central Office and East administration, Kloesz reviews Whitely’s decisions involving the English department budget, which ranges from $18,000 to $30,000 annually. Lakota runs department budgets differently than other nearby districts because there is never an encumbered balance. Therefore, the departments run on a needs-only budget; there is no extra money floating around. “Lakota department budgets only spend what money they take in with school fees,” said Kloesz. Therefore, the budget varies depending on the number of students enrolled in English classes and on the English course book lists. “For an English class, the budget for that class involves purchasing a vocabulary book. The department gets the money from the students’ school fees and then turns right around and spends that money getting the books,” said Kloesz. Another change in the English Department is the loss of current Advanced Placement (AP) English teacher John Watson, who will retire at the end of the 2009-10 school year. The future AP English teacher has not yet been determined. “The new AP English teacher will be highly qualified,” said Whitely. She declined to make any other statement as to who will fill the position. Because the AP English teacher is still undecided, uncertainty leaves East students curious as to their future instructor. This makes it difficult for some students to choose a senior English course. East senior Nathan Miller is a current AP English student and believes that more is expected in AP English than in Honors English 10 or 11. “AP English is similar to those classes; there is less reading in class but much more discussion,” said Miller. Miller also acknowledges that an English teachers have their own style. “Mr. Watson really tries to question your thoughts, Mrs. Whitely analyzes different layers of symbolism and Mr. Alexander pushes people to stand up for their opinions,” explained Miller. Juniors struggling to choose a senior English credit should consider the structure of the class, according to Miller. “If you are thinking about the difference between AP English and [other courses], I think AP gets graded harder,” said Miller. “But be prepared to write much more in an English class like advanced composition.” n


pounds lost by East ► junior Brady Williamson

“First the English teachers give me a list of what they would prefer to teach, then I create a suggested schedule that goes on to the administration.”

—East English teacher and new department head Ashley Whitely on her position (page 7)

“I’m not trying to inspire. I’m just an inspiration.”

—East junior Brady Williamson on his successful 85-pound weight loss (page 18)

“I definitely miss some aspects of the studio competitions like the real ‘out there’ contemporary styles. But after All Star, I would prefer it because of the harder competition.”

—East junior Meg Melotti on being on the All That Jazz All Star competition dance team (page 36)

“Cheddar! Something different! But [the pizza] needs more. [It has] a nice taco sauce—quite a zip.” —East Latin II, III and Advanced Placement teacher Amy Elifrits on Dewey’s mexican pizza (page 42)

“Through no fault of their own, most Americans are blind to the ongoing problems in the rest of the world because of the media’s obsession with public interest.”

—East junior Faiz Siddiqui on the media’s lack of coverage of international issues (page 64)

percent of East students who do not know the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian


number of East dancers who are on another competitive dance team

7 | Spark | March 17, 2010

news | lakota bands

Budgeting Band Sixth grade concert band instruction twice a week will halt in 2010-11, as budget restrictions will limit it to once a week. story nitya sreevalsan | photo heidi yang


fter watching her older sister go through the Lakota Local School District band program, sixth grader Bethany Nemets is looking forward to a fun high school band career. “Playing the flute is something I enjoy, and I want to do marching band,” said Nemets. “I saw how much my older sister loved marching band and concert band, so I also want to experience that.” Nemets, however, might not get the same opportunities as her sister. Band supporters are up in arms about recent proposed budget cuts to Lakota’s band program, specifically the proposed reduction of sixth grade band class from meeting twice a week to once a week. In addition to the sixth grade band cuts, two full-time positions at the junior high school level will be cut down to part-time positions and the teachers will be forced to rotate between junior schools. “Is it ideal? No. Is it do-able? [The school board] thinks yes,” said Assistant Superintendent of primary education Lon Stettler. However, a number of band students, parents and band directors disagree. Nora Rubinoff, founder of Lakota Bands United—the group organizing the protest against the proposed cuts—and parent of West alto saxophone player Ben Rubinoff, believes having band two days a week is important to the foundation of the band program. “The sixth grade students coming up through the ranks are going to be less skilled, through no fault of their own, but because they’ve had 50 percent less experience and less training in sixth grade than every other band class that’s come before them,” said Rubinoff. Some people believe the changes will be irrevocable to the high school band program. “[Lakota has] a nationally recognized band program that [has taken] years to build and we are going to destroy those bands [if the proposed cuts are made],” said one terse parent at the board meeting Monday, Feb. 22. Though Superintendent of Lakota Local School District Mike Taylor recognizes the caliber of Lakota’s band program, he feels that cuts are necessary due to the deficit of $28 million that will have accumulated by the 201112 school year. “We have a world-class music program and we’re not trying to eliminate anything in music,”

8 | Spark | March 17, 2010

Sixth grade Woodland Elementary band student Charley Hanley plays trumpet during band practice on March 1.

Taylor said, “but we have to look at a way in which we can sustain the kinds of programs we have.” Stettler looks at the cuts as a way to restructure efficiently. “Lakota is in a crisis, but with that crisis comes the opportunity to look at the [way] with which we are delivering services and ask ourselves whether we can deliver these same services in a different [way],” said Stettler. However, that different way is not palatable to many, including numerous band students themselves. Approximately 250 students showed up to the February board meeting to voice their outrage at the proposed cuts. East junior Megan Manley, one of the band students affected, feels that making these cuts will drastically affect the band program. “At marching band this year, this guy, Fran Kick, talked to us. He told us about this cycle. The more you practice, the better you are. The better you are, the more fun it is. The more fun it is, the more you practice,” said Manley, a trumpet player in Symphonic Winds. “If Lakota takes away band concerts and cuts teachers and class time, it will but cutting out of our practice time. Then we will get worse. Then it won’t be as fun.” [East sophomore] Anna Almquist, a sophomore and former band student, disagrees about the importance of sixth grade band. “Sixth grade band was really boring,” said Almquist. “I realize that we were just starting out, but I don’t believe I learned anything my

entire sixth grade band career.” Nemets, however, thinks that it is important to have band twice a week. “It’s enjoyable and fun,” said Nemets. “You get a lot more done in two days.” Despite the value of having band two days a week, eliminating one day of band a week for one year would save the district $159,696. However, Rubinoff feels that there are other things that the district can do to save money. “The bottom line is this: administration needs to make every cut they possibly can before they make cuts that impact programs and students,” said Rubinoff. One such cut supported by Lakota Bands United is stopping the step increase in salaries that teachers get every year. “If we’re going to have a levy on the ballot and teachers are going to expect an annual raise, that’s not going to sit very well with the community when there are so many of us who are getting no increases ourselves,” said Rubinoff, who is also a small business owner in West Chester. However, according to Taylor, community opinions vary on what cuts are essential and what are not. “I think it’s easy to stand up there and say, ‘Don’t cut us! Cut them over there!’ unless you’re the ‘them’ over there,” said Taylor. “It’s not fair. It isn’t fair. This is very, very difficult. It’s very stressful on our staff that has to come and root through this. This has been a tough process.” n

news | community issue In suburban areas, coyotes often eat garbage and pet food and prey on small domesticated animals.

Going to the Dogs Recent cases of coyote appearances in residential areas raise alarm in local community members , who question the safety of their pets in the presence of coyotes. story meredith bleuer | photo illustration lisa cai


n Wednesday, Dec. 9, the residents of Liberty Township gathered at the Liberty Township Administration Building to discuss their recent concerns about coyote attacks on household pets within the community. This has been identified throughout the community as a problem and a wildlife management open house meeting was also presented on Nov. 4 at the West Chester Township Hall to discuss the coyote problems in the area. Liberty Township Trustee Patrick Hiltman acknowledged the township’s coyote problem and is working to educate the community on the issue by participating in the organization of township meetings and helping to manage the areas with frequent coyote appearances.

in populated areas. This study concluded that coyotes are considered a nuisance animal when they attack pets in yards, act aggressively and fearlessly approach humans. Beatty mentioned that people unintentionally contribute to the development of nuisance animals by not securing trash can lids and by leaving pet food outside where wild animals can eat it. “The grease trap on a grill smells like goodness to a lot of wild critters,” said Beatty. Keeping surrounding properties clean and preventing shelter to small rodents is necessary to keep nuisance animals away. Small animals attract larger and more dangerous animals like coyotes. Thus keeping household pets inside or contained within a yard is important to decrease the chance of an encounter with a nuisance animal. “Be a responsible pet owner; keep your pets at least in your yard,” said Beatty to concerned pet owners. In extreme cases of nuisance animals, some Liberty Township residents have called hunters and trappers to eliminate the animals from the area. “[Traps are] a great tool to help keep the balance out there [in the] wild,” said Beatty. The traps used to catch the coyotes are designed to trap and hold them rather than cause the animal intentional pain. Trappers are also careful not to catch wandering household pets. Gerorge Elliott, a coyote trapper employed by Four Bridges residential area and golf course,

Keep your pets at least in your yard.

“It’s a problem, and we need to address it,” said Hiltman. According to Brett Beatty, the Assistant Wildlife Management Supervisor with the Ohio Division of Wildlife who presented information about coyotes at the meeting, feeding coyotes is a major cause of these wild animals becoming nuisances. The Coyote Project in Cook County, Il., a study referenced at the Liberty Township coyote meeting, studied the effects of coyotes

uses bates with urine to keep dogs and cats from venturing into the traps. “By law, I have to check them every 24 hours,” said Elliott. “We don’t want to keep [the coyote] in the trap any longer than it has to be there. I don’t want the animal to suffer.” Because coyotes are territorial animals, they are not typically relocated. Relocation of territorial animals causes an unbalance with the existing animals and creates disputes. Coyotes are unable to relocate, so the trappers will euthanize or shoot the coyotes that are caught. Rather than focusing on the coyotes’ elimination, West Chester resident Susan Kessler attended the meeting as an advocate for animal rights. “I don’t want to lose my pet either,” Kessler said. “I just came to try and speak for the [wild] animals and to tell people to keep [their] pets in.” When coyotes or any other nuisance animal are seen, Beatty’s advice to Liberty Township residents includes using scare-tactics, which include flashing lights and loud noises to inform the animal of one’s presence and scare them away. “What I don’t want you to do is get a coyote cornered,” said Beatty. “They would much rather run than fight you, and when you get them into a corner, they’re not going to have any other option.” If issues of nuisance animals and damage arise, Beatty accepts phone calls at 937-3729261 or for general wildlife information, call 1-800-WILDLIFE. n

9 | Spark | March 17, 2010

news | butler tech

Alternative Education Students at East expand their ability to earn high school credits through Butler Tech, where they can recover lost credits and earn their high school diploma by taking online classes. story ashley wolsefer | photos kavya sreevalsan | infographic kim shearer


n order to obtain credits for graduation requirement, 26 East seniors are enrolled in the Butler Technology Online Learning program, which offers 150 courses online and is available at East’s main campus. Associate Vice President for Online Learning at Butler Technology (Butler Tech) Kathy Klink thinks the courses are quality alternatives to traditional schooling. “I believe that our curriculum is very similar to what is in a traditional classroom,” said Klink. “Our content mirrors what goes on in a traditional classroom, but how we deliver the content is different.” East senior Brittany Stepp prefers earning her consumer math and physical science credits online because she can “get a course done in a quarter instead of a semester, and seniors can do two classes in a semester.” Stepp’s counselor Denise McLinden recommended that she use Butler Tech to meet her 21-credit requirement for high school graduation. “I think [Stepp] wanted to take classes that she [could] get out of the way,” said McLinden. “And [Butler Tech Online] is a good, quick way to do it.” This year, enrollment in Butler Tech changed so that people who needed the classes most got them first. For example, seniors who needed credits to graduate get into a course before underclassmen. Also Butler Tech Online funding changed so that this year the schools have to buy each course individually. Even though Butler Tech was a good tool for Stepp, she believes that lack of a traditional “classroom environment” was a drawback. In Butler Tech Online classes, students spend class periods in computer labs “teaching

themselves,” according to Stepp. There is a teacher in the room to advise the students but no actual oral instruction takes place. This gap in student to teacher communication leaves Senior Educational Advisor for Northern Kentucky University Rebekah Richardson questioning the quality of Butler Tech’s instruction. “As a former teacher, [I believe] that face to face connection is very important because, as a student, you need those people to be able

honestly, colleges want to see that you have a diploma from a four-year traditional high school and that you are capable of [being in] a regular classroom environment.” Although Klink believes that online schooling is a great alternative, she agrees that it is not for everyone. “It is a good fit for students who failed courses or students who want to take courses that are not available at their school,” said Klink. “I do not think online learning is for everyone; the students have to be focused.” There are more alternatives to online learning. Other Butler Tech programs are available at East such as Teacher’s Academy, College Life and Leadership in Coaching. Due to budget cuts next year, these alternatives may increase. Lakota Local School District may be cutting business classes at East and West. The cuts will save the district up to $200,000. Because an average teacher salary is $68,000 annually without health insurance, if they cut two teachers the savings would approach $200,000. It is planned for there to be a Business Academy, similar to the Teacher’s Academy at East, rather than adding additional online courses. These openings will be filled by Butler Tech teachers paid for by Butler Tech with additional funding from the state per student. “We were told that, as a part of budget reductions, business classes will be cut. It was my understanding that there will be a business academy similar to the Teacher’s academy [at East],” said Board President Joan Powell. Online courses are purchased by semester, with schools completing purchase orders for each class. The classes can range in price from $65 per course to $400 per course, depending on the content. n

Our content mirrors what goes on in a traditional classroom.

English 11 students Math 16 students

to write recommendations for colleges or jobs,” said Richardson. “If you are taking all your classes online, your teachers don’t really know who you are.” In addition, Richardson has seen in her experiences that colleges will not look favorably upon making up credits online. “Colleges are going tell you that they look at everyone the same,” said Richardson. “But

American History Nine students World History Five students

Breaking Down Butler Tech


East students are currently attending Butler Tech to receive various course credits.

10 | Spark | March 17, 2010

Government Eight students Biology 26 students

news | alternative schools

Credit Flexibility

Career/Tech Schools

Students can gain class credit through internships, jobs, historic vacations, studying abroad and college classes. A capstone project, report or presentation may be necessary to earn credit for high school (available 2010-11 school year).

Students can receive specific instructions of a particular field of interest and work at a job.

Goal: To make credit available through alternative methods outside of the classroom

Goal: To allow online or specific instruction classes and keep up with school while working

Ways to Obtain High School Credit Correspondence Classes

Post-Secondary Classes

EAST RESPONSE “Taking history online was easier because I went at my own pace.” East senior Cierra Richard on using Butler Tech Online

Students can attend a local college and receive both high school and college credit for the class. Lakota pays for books and tuition. Part of the day is spent at high school and part is spent at a college, in an entry-level college class.

Goal: To allow students to gain college and high school credit simultaneously without having to bear the burden of college tuition costs

“I didn’t have room in my schedule. I could do the work in my free time this way.” East senior Katie Iles on taking classes from University of Kentucky “I’m taking government online so I don’t have to do community service.” East sophomore Lauren Pavloff on using Butler Tech Online “It seemed easier than taking it in school. I can use the spot in my schedule for a different class.” East senior Jake Barlow on taking online classes.s

Students can take independent study courses constructed by the University of Kentucky or Brigham Young University which are then sent by mail or made available online.

Goal: Provides an opportunity to make up classes within a year-long window or gain early credit to free up the student’s schedule for other classes

11 | Spark | March 17, 2010

news l all-day kindergarten

Early Childhood Extension Due to budget constraints and the cost of a building to house the district’s 2,000 five-year-olds, the Lakota Local School District has applied to waive the mandate in House Bill 1 for all-day kindergarten for a year. story ariadne souroutzidis | infographic abby buns | photos heidi yang


herry Stoffer, a kindergarten teacher at Creekside Early Childhood School, spends every morning teaching over 20 kindergarteners and every afternoon teaching a completely different group of five-year-olds. In the future, though, Stoffer could be teaching half as many kindergarteners. All-day kindergarten was mandated for every school district in Ohio by the state in House Bill 1, which was passed in July 2009, but parents still have the option of a half-day kindergarten program in any district. However, due to the budget issues challenging the Lakota Local School District, the district chose to apply to waive the mandate for all-day kindergarten until the 2012 fiscal year— the 2011-12 school year. According to a survey conducted by the Lakota Local School District last year, 67 percent of current kindergarten parents would have chosen an all-day program if given the chance. 78 percent of current pre-school parents would choose an all-day kindergarten program if given the option. “Full-day kindergarten benefits children academically, developmentally and socially and helps close the achievement gap. Research shows that full-day kindergarten programs benefit all children who attend,” said Deputy Communications Officer for Gov. Ted Strickland Allison Kolodziej. “Those same children do better long-term than children attending half-day programs, and they show greater academic gains in kindergarten and first grade.” Schools were given the option to apply for a waiver of the mandate as of fiscal year 2011 if they had space or financial restrictions. For the waiver, the Board of Education had to pass a resolution stating the district’s request for the waiver and their reasons behind it. Along with the resolution, the Board must include a plan to implement all-day kindergarten in fiscal year 2012. Both the resolution and the plan were sent to the Ohio Department of Education in the middle of January. The final decision lies in the hands of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Deborah Delisle. Currently, if the waiver were to be accepted, it would only apply for a year, so allday kindergarten would have to be implemented for fiscal year 2012. “As it stands now, unless we get a waiver for fiscal 2012, we will have to begin implementing

12 | Spark | March 17, 2010

Shawnee Early Childhood student Christian Sheehan stands in Abigail Ertel’s classroom. In coming years, students like Sheehan will have the option for all-day kindergarten sessions.

all-day kindergarten [in a year],” said Lakota Local School District Treasurer Craig Jones. “It would take at least one [additional] school building, [costing] at least $15 million to build, as well as an additional $2.2 million in kindergarten [teacher salaries].” Since the district currently does not have the space to accommodate an all-day kindergarten program nor the funds necessary to build a new school, it is looking to lease rooms from local churches or YMCA facilities. “We are looking for facilities that would have suitable space for kindergarten classrooms. We would want several classes—at least three or four—at each site,” said Assistant Superintendent of Primary Education Lon Stettler. The rooms would most likely be used for several years, until the district could pass a bond levy to finance another early childhood school. However, leasing rooms from community buildings would present several disadvantages to the district. “For the students, I don’t see a disadvantage,”

said Stettler. “For the teachers, they might feel a little disconnected from their kindergarten teacher peers in other early childhood schools.” Kindergarten teachers share Stettler’s opinion on the disadvantages of having kindergarten in another facility. “It would be very difficult if the resources that are at Shawnee were not available [at the rented facility], like the document cameras, 3M boards, copiers, printers, resource closet and other useful supplies,” said Abigail Ertel, a teacher at Shawnee Early Childhood School. “Many of the supplies and furniture in my classroom [were things I purchased] with my own money, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving them in a classroom that wasn’t secured. There are many other issues as well, such as needing a cafeteria for lunch and playground for recess.” According to Superintendent Mike Taylor, these are all issues that the school district must confront. “With some school districts, they’ll have a


news l all-day kindergarten

of current kindergarten parents would have chosen an all-day program if given the chance.

yon Cra





Top: Shawnee Early Childhood kindergartner Joseph Abraham is picked up from p.m. kindergarten; Bottom: Teacher Abigail Ertel stands in her classroom after dismissing her students.

satellite kitchen, and then they truck in the meal. We’ll have to work through that particular issue because that will be a concern,” said Taylor. Despite the financial implications of all-day kindergarten, the program would improve the academics of kindergarten. “It would provide time to do more fun things, like art projects or subject investigations,” said Stoffer. “Right now, it is very hard to fit in everything that a kindergartener is required to learn in only a half day.” Extending the kindergarten day would also prepare the kindergarteners for first grade. “By the end of kindergarten, students are expected to know at least 25 high-frequency words and be reading on a Level C, with A being the first level. This is a large expectation for such a small amount of instruction in the day,” said Ertel. “During a half-day kindergarten day, it’s difficult to teach an entire reading and writing workshop session, which is about 60 minutes for each subject. It would be beneficial to have time to teach the curriculum more thoroughly.” However, the additional time allotted for instruction would need to be used wisely to ensure that kindergarten children are not overwhelmed. “I think that if the program is planned right, it could be a very positive experience for everyone. But we would have to definitely have time for the arts and definitely time for physical

play,” explained Liberty Early Childhood School Principal Debbie Lafrankie. “There are so many things that we can teach children through more unstructured times. We would still have a strong academic time too.” Currently, the district is also investigating curricular issues of switching to all-day kindergarten. “[We are working on] planning what the program would look like in order to have students at that age level [at school] all day. [We’re looking at] what their day would look like and what the teaching day would look like. That’s part of the planning,” said Taylor. All-day kindergarten would also cut back on the amount of time the staff spends accompanying students to their buses. Currently, morning session kindergarten students arrive at school at 9:20 a.m. and are then sent home at 12:10 p.m. The afternoon session kindergarten children arrive at 1:20 p.m. and then are sent home at 4:00 p.m. “Office staff and support staff spend a lot of time getting kids on buses,” said Lafrankie. “It is hectic, but we made it really safe. That’s why it takes so many people. Safety is our priority—to make sure every single one of those children is safe—so there has to be a lot of people out there when you are dealing with three-year-olds to seven-year-olds.” Despite the benefits seen in all-day kindergarten, the fact is that the district cannot afford it at this time. “All-day kindergarten is a great idea. It really is. It would be great educationally,” said Board of Education Vice President Ben Dibble. “But when it costs $2.2 million to just get the staff to put in a building that we don’t have and we are looking at $5.9 million of cuts, what are you going to cut to put in all-day kindergarten? Where are you going to take 27 teachers out of our current program to do all-day kindergarten?” n

Grades­­: better performance in school

To Start All Day Kindergarten: 2.2 Million


15 Million

New Facilities

Reflectiveness: more thoughtful


Cra yo

Budget Cuts Being Made:

Learning: better independent learning

5.9 Million

Productivity: more impressive work rate when working with peers


$7.5 Million

$15 Million

Participation: more classroom involvement

13 | Spark | March 17, 2010

news | levy

Facing the Deficit

In the coming years, the Lakota Local School District confronts a burdensome $28 million budget deficit — a challenge being remedied by numerous budget cuts and the proposal of an incremental levy. story mason hood | photo dan turner PART THREE in a four-part series

Each issue the Spark will cover a single budget aspect. This issue covers the Board’s plan to address Lakota finances.

14 | Spark | March 17, 2010

news | levy


n a city full of speeding cars, one parking lot is completely deserted. The lights remain dark, the doors unopened. Where once there was a massive stampede attempting to retrieve the ultimate laptop for half the cost, there now are vacant shelves with old price tags starting to peel at the corners. Circuit City was devastated by the economic downfall of 2008. Like Circuit City, the Lakota Local School District is having its own monetary problems. “[Lakota’s financial issues are] no different than what every business, private and public, is having to go through in the recession,” said Lakota Local School District Superintendent Mike Taylor. “The recession has finally caught up with the Lakota School District and we have to make sacrifices. There are no two ways around it.” The district is facing a $28 million deficit in fiscal year 2012. To maintain a positive cash balance and uphold the standard of its educational excellence, the district is asking voters to approve Issue 4, a 6.9 mill incremental levy increase in the May election and a 4.9 mill increase in 2012. A mill is onethousandth of a dollar and is used to calculate property taxes. Additionally, the district is making $5.9 million in costcutting measures for the 2010-11 school year. The proposed levy effectively would cost a $100,000 home owner $211 per year in the form of property taxes until the increase in 2012, which would cost them an additional $150 per year. The decision to ask the voters for more money despite the bad economy is a result of the state’s current funding system for public schools. This system has been declared unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court three separate times, as recently as 2003. Part of the financial problem facing Lakota, according to Taylor, is the way Ohio is reducing the district’s funding. “The state capped school districts at 2005 funding levels, which means that any new student coming into the Lakota School District wouldn’t receive dollars from the state,” said Taylor. “The message from Columbus is, ‘The state is not going to support you. Since your community has the financial ability to support you, you need to get the money from your community.’ That’s a clear message. [It’s] almost like the Robin Hood bill: rob from the rich and give to the poor.” Even though the state views Lakota as

a wealthy community, people are hurting just as much as ever, according to Lakota Board of Education Vice President Ben Dibble. On Feb. 17, the Board made their decision to do an incremental levy due to the adverse economic conditions. “It’s a bad economic time and a lot of families are [already] having a hard time making ends meet. We figured out a way to ask less money of them today and have it go up to where, hopefully, the economy gets better,” said Dibble. “You know it’s never great to ask for taxes in any way, but at least this way, we ease them in.” With 70 percent of the Lakota community having no children in the district, Taylor is concerned with how many people would actually vote yes for the levy when it is put on the ballot in May. “[The lack of community members with children in the school district] becomes a huge challenge because you have accessibility to only the 30 percent that have children in the school system,” explained Taylor. “But what about that other 70 percent? That’s always been a challenge for us.” In an attempt to target the community members who are not familiar with Lakota, Taylor is holding “coffees” with the community to make them better informed about the budget and levy situation. During these “coffees,” Taylor travels to the homes of community members to informally explain the district’s current issues. “[The coffees] are good. It helps us get a sense for where people are,” said Jones. “But typically those are parents who are supporters of the school. One of our challenges is getting people who don’t have children in the schools [to support Lakota], so we are looking at ways of partnering with organizations, the chamber of commerce, retirement homes and so forth, so we can get the message out to people.” Yet people who do not have children within the district do not all necessarily vote against requested levies. Bill Zerkle lives within the realms of the Lakota School District. Despite the fact that he does not have kids, he has never voted against a Lakota levy. “I’ve always voted for Lakota levies, and the reason isn’t because I want my kids to get a good education. I don’t have kids. It’s because I recognize that nothing is more important to our community than the quality of a school system,” said Zerkle. “Lakota has an outstanding

[It’s] almost like the Robin Hood bill: rob from the rich and give to the poor.

15 | Spark | March 17, 2010

news | levy school system. I’m not qualified to comment on whether it is efficient or not; I wouldn’t know. But what I do know is that the school system is the number one factor when it comes to where people locate. Families want to live where the school district is top notch and that’s where businesses want to locate, so [the Commitee for West Chester] has always supported that.” Jones sees additional benefits for those without children voting in support of a levy. “The real incentive [to vote yes on the levy] is to maintain property value,” he said. “A lot of the time people come to communities because they are growing and because of good schools.” If a levy were not to pass, as 63 percent of 500 surveyed East students predict, Dibble says it would have a detrimental effect on students. More cuts would have to be made to keep the district functioning legally, as the district must operate with a positive cash flow according to Ohio law. Without the levy, the district would be forced to cut

longer have police and fire levies, and the average homeowner would save $650 to $700 annually, based on a $200,000 home. That is considered a significant amount of money to most home owners,” said Zerkle. “Now Lakota is saying because of all this, this perfect storm, this disastrous situation—we need more money. It’s hard to get people to take the time to listen to you, to understand what you are talking about. Well the fact is the state is giving developing communities like West Chester less money. They’d be lucky to get the same thing [they have gotten before from past levies.] By attending numerous Lakota Board of Education meetings, Zerkle has attempted to convince the district of the importance of converting the township to a city. Taylor is not, however, convinced of Zerkle’s plan. “Mr. Zerkle’s argument is that [if West Chester were to become] a city, there would be less competition for tax dollars for police levies and fire levies because the city would have some sort of other type of taxing income [decided by the city and not the voters]. His argument is that that will be beneficial to the Lakota School of East students District,” said Taylor. “It may end up being not [beneficial]. We cover more believe that the ground than just the West Chester We also have Liberty Township. proposed levy will fail. area. There’s always going to be this need even more than the $7 million that has for the Lakota School District, as long already been cut. as Ohio keeps its taxing formula, every “In 2012 we will be spending $28 four or five years to go back to the million that we don’t have [if the budget voters no matter whether West Chester situation is not remedied.] At $7 million is a city or not.” of cuts, the cuts that we are making are Regardless, the district is currently fairly significant. There is not a lot of facing a budget deficit that will not be cutting left to do,” said Dibble. “Really, easily overcome. The district’s main we have to get money in. We are not goal in the budget cutting process is going to get it from the state. We are to impact the classroom as little as not going to get it from the federal possible. government. We have to get it locally.” “One of the things that we really To help reduce the burden on the attempted to do with this current cost community, the district is implementing reduction package was to make sure we a “buyout” option for teachers who did not eliminate any opportunities for have worked in the district for at least students,” said Taylor. “So even though 10 years. The buyout will pay teachers we had some reductions in sixth grade $45,000 plus applicable contractual band, students in the Lakota school severance pay in monthly payments for district still have sixth grade band. Even one year if they choose to retire. though we made some reductions in As chairman of the Commitee for the nurses program and the clinic, we West Chester, Zerkle spent much of still will have coverage in the clinic for his time and money on an alternative students who need that coverage.” solution—attempting to transform West Reductions will have to be made, Chester Township into the City of West however, as neither a levy nor budget Chester. As a township, West Chester cuts alone will solve the district’s is unable to collect an income tax and financial crisis. therefore loses around $20 million to “We need both [the levy and budget other cities where the residents work. cuts],” said Jones. “At this point [a levy “If we were a city and we captured alone] won’t do it and expenditure cuts that earnings tax, then we would no alone won’t do it. We need both.” 


16 | Spark | March 17, 2010

8 Steps Leading to Deficit infographic ariadne souroutzidis


January 2002: No Child Left Behind Act increases government requirements without providing any additional funding.


January 2002: Every teacher, including special education teachers, has to have documented background in their teaching field. Therefore, the district must either pay to hire more qualified teachers or educate current teachers.


January 2002: The district is required to test students regularly and determine if students have made “adequate yearly progress.” To receive funding for the mandates, states must submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education showing their commitment to comply.


Fiscal Year 2005: The state of Ohio caps off enrollment of students in schools to prevent students from transferring from poor districts to wealthy districts.


2005: Lakota becomes flat-funded, meaning that although the number of students drastically increased, state funding remains the same. Since then, the district has grown by 1,398 students, all of whom are not funded by the state.

6 6

Fiscal Year 2009: There is a two percent decrease in funding from the state for the Lakota Local School District. More educational mandates are made in Gov. Ted Strickland’s education plan.


Dec. 2009: One of the mandates includes all-day kindergarten. However, due to shortage of money the Lakota Local School District, applied in December to waive the mandate for one year.


2010: Race to the Top federal grants provide stimulus money for education. The district, however, was unable to complete the memoranda of understanding by the January deadline, which needed to be signed by the school board president, superintendent and teachers association president.

17 | Spark | March 17, 2010

feature | dart



aunt, gray clouds meander through the sky, obscuring the few rays of sunlight still struggling to reach the ground. A harsh wind snaps at the barren skeletons of trees. Melting snow drips and slips off a roof. It is February, a time when most people binge on chocolate and stress out over the common third quarter grade drop. It is late enough in the year for people to have given up on their New Years’ Resolutions, but early enough for swimsuit season to seem like a looming beast in the future. It is not a time normally associated with weight loss. But for East junior Brady Williamson, February 2009 was the major turning point in his life. It was when he resolved to lose weight—not with fad diets or special equipment advertised on TV but with old-fashioned diet, exercise and determination. He radically cut calories, drank more water, started working out and began using an application called “Lose It” on his iPhone to keep track of his daily calorie intake. This was far different from his former lifestyle. “I was fat my whole life. My mom would cook five times a week, and I’d watch my brother scarf down food. On holidays, we’d always get a big buffet, and we’d eat the entire thing,” says Williamson in his Kentucky drawl. For many reasons, weight loss had remained at the forefront of his mind for a while. “There were a lot of reasons why I wanted to lose weight. I felt out of place at school. I’d look around and see only three or four fat people at a time,” says Williamson. “Also, I felt like being fat hindered my social life. I thought a lot of people wouldn’t talk to me because of how I looked. And I could barely walk a mile without getting winded. I was sick of always being the last to finish in gym class. And I was simply tired of the way I looked.” However, his close friends and fellow East juniors Matt McCormick and Eric Muenchen initially doubted if Williamson could lose the weight. “[When he first said he planned to go on a diet,] I laughed and said, ‘Brady being skinny? Like that’s gonna happen,’” says McCormick. Their skepticism was based on previous failed attempts, but with increased motivation this time was different. “He had been talking about getting washboard abs by the end of summer for about three years in a row, so at first we were skeptical as to whether or not he would follow through this time,” adds Muenchen. Williamson proceeded to prove his friends wrong by sticking to his plan. By February 2010, a year after his self-imposed weight loss program began, the results were plainly visible. Williamson lost 85 pounds, dropping from 240 pounds to a lean 155. He also reduced his body fat percentage from 32 percent to 16 percent and decreased his mile run time from 14 minutes to 7.5 minutes. This change was partially caused by his strict diet. “He stuck to his diet like a depressed man to his six-pack of beer. He would never eat anything that wasn’t ‘diet-approved.’ If we taunted him with chips and cookies, he never ate them even when he wanted to,” says McCormick. In addition to his adherence to his diet, Williamson attributes many factors to his success. To keep himself distracted while exercising on the treadmill, he’d often watch his favorite show, South Park, which features a fat, loud-mouthed fourth grader named Eric Cartman. Williamson has a huge poster of this character over his bed. Williamson identifies with the kid “’cause he was the fat funny guy like me.” But the biggest factor remains his Each issue the Spark staff picks a extraordinary self-motivation. random East student and covers a “Whenever I didn’t want to exercise I always unique aspect of his or her life. thought, ‘I’ve come this far. Why go back?’ and

story victoria liang infographic kim shearer photos caroline tompkins

18 | Spark | March 17, 2010

‘I did this yesterday so I can do it today.’ during the day, I’d go home and play I kept my eye on the prize and thought football,” says Williamson. “When we about how I wanted to look,” says didn’t have gym, I was more likely to go Williamson. home and play video games.” His friends, although skeptical at first, Now, he goes to the gym every day for were impressed by his perseverance. two hours. He also has taken up boxing, “He basically did it on his own and which he enjoys for the stress relief and all we could do was say, ‘Damn, Brady fitness and plans to continue in college. where did the other half of you go?’” says His success has changed others’ views Muenchen. of healthy living. And the improvement has surpassed “I’ve had to change where I go grocery the physical. shopping and how I cook. This has been a “Now he’s much more confident and permanent change,” says Watkins. “I eat a feels so much better about himself. And it lot less fatty foods now that I cook healthy makes me happy to see him happy,” says for him.” his mother, Dewana Watkins. “I’m very Williamson has also inspired and proud of his accomplishment. It takes a helped his 24-year-old brother Jimmy Mac lot of willpower for someone so young to Williamson to lose weight. So far, Jimmy take on a task like this on his own without has improved his habits, but he believes a doctor’s orders or my urging.” that it is easier to begin at an earlier age. Williamson’s friend, East junior Nick “It’s easier to motivate younger people. Marshall, agrees. They care more about their appearance,” “I believe this change has made people says Williamson. Williamson holds last year’s school photo. view him more positively, When Williamson not only because he is raises his own children, more physically appealing, he plans to monitor their but also because he truly health and do his best to made a positive change in ensure that they develop his life,” says Marshall. healthy habits. Williamson’s new “I know parents are look has led to more selfbusy, but they should try assurance and acceptance. to be more responsible, “He seems more confident,” says Muenchen. “He started wearing nicer more blunt to their kids, and encourage their kids to exercise more,” says clothes too, so I think he is trying to clean up the image everyone has of him Williamson. “As a parent, I’d force healthier foods into my kids’ diets. I’d try from back in junior high and elementary school.” to limit video games as much as possible, and I’d make sure to get out and Wiliamson sees school as the place to really begin teaching kids a proper play with them too.” view of fitness and has high hopes for the future, including having gym class Williamson’s plans for the future demonstrate his view of his every day. accomplishments—modest pride. “School is where I learned the sports I still do today. When we did gym “I’m not trying to inspire,” says Williamson. “I’m just an inspiration.” n

Whenever I didn’t want to exercise I always thought, ‘I’ve come this far. Why go back?’ and ‘I did this yesterday so I can do it today.’ I kept my eye on the prize and thought about how I wanted to look.

Scaling down &


IN What the average moderately active American male ages 14-18 takes in:

4,621 Calories


What Brady Used To Take In:

What Brady Now Takes In:

167.5 grams of fat

22 grams of fat

4,621 calories

1,493 Calories ,

These values are based off what Brady used to eat in one day.

33.4 BMI

21.6 BMI

2,400 Calories

65 grams of fat

1,493 calories

2,400-2,800 calories

These values are based off what Brady currently eats each day

The average Body Mass Index (BMI) for a 5’11” male is 18.5-24.9

22.3 BMI

information - www.exercise4weightloss. com,, www.,

19 | Spark | March 17, 2010

feature | community feature

CarnivalTime story rashma faroqui | photo caroline tompkins | infographic justine chu

Planned and run by Student Activities Committees in Action (SACA), the Heritagespring Health Care Center Senior Citizens’ Prom connected two generations through a Mardi Gras dance. 20 | Spark | March 17, 2010

the residents to come out of their rooms. * Name has been changed to protect privacy. “We went around and knocked on their doors,” says East senior and nxiously awaited, this dance only comes once a year. Hours of preparation are put into sorting out accessories, plugging in SACA member Sam Earlywine. “We asked them to come out and join the speakers, hanging up banners and blowing up balloons. Necklaces dance and most of them were really excited to come. Some declined at are donned and flowers are pinned to shirts. Quick make-up checks are first, and then we had to explain what the dance was to them and convince made and the guests make their way through the hallways. The lights are them to come.” To host the prom, students donated decorations, gathered party dimmed and the eager ladies and gentlemen congregate in the forum. Slowly rolling onto the dance floor in their wheelchairs with Mardi supplies and set up for seven hours before the dance began. “Seeing the kids hustle and bustle putting up decorations just gets the Gras masks and crowns, residents of Heritagespring Health Care Center are ready for their prom. East Student Activities Committees in Action residents excited,” says Woods. Two-year Heritagespring resident Jane Smith* thought it would be fun (SACA) hosted its annual senior citizens prom for 140 residents on Feb. if many people came to the senior prom. Including the prom, Smith’s 20. experiences at the nursing For some residents, home are stories that she the evening made them loves to share with students feel as giddy as they were that she meets. when slow dancing with a “We asked them handsome boy at their high questions about their school prom. But rather lives, and some of [the than being on the arm of residents] told us about their a young beau, the nursing husbands and how they home residents swayed to ended up coming and living the music with students in Heritagespring,” says from East. Earlywine. Heritagespring and Saturday Lindeman was also SACA decided to name 1:00 Student Activities Committee in Action, SACA, pleased with the success of the dance Carnival Time decorates Heritagespring, a retirement home in the prom. as a reference to the song West Chester. “I thought they had a “Carnival Time” by Al 3:00 blast,” says Lindeman. “You Johnson to incorporate a SACA helps the senior citizens with hairstyles and could see the look in the Mardi Gras theme. applying the make-up donated by Mary Kay. [residents’] faces when you “You throw some 4:45 asked them to dance. Their beads and a mask on them Volunteers assist residents to the dining area. eyes lit up and even when and they feel like they’re 5:00 the ones in wheelchairs were able to go to the dance As the residents enjoy dinner, volunteers head to dancing, you could see the and they’re a part of it,” a meeting to receive directions and eat pizza. smiles on their faces. It says Heritagespring’s 6:00 was taking them back to a Integrative Personal Additional set-up begins. Food and drinks are different time.” Services Coordinator brought in, finishing touches are made on dresses Smith likes to dance and Rachel Woods. and corsages and name tags are handed out. danced a lot when she was When SACA began 6:30 younger. hosting the senior citizen Volunteers make the last finishing touches, cleaning East freshman and SACA up and preparing the dining room for the prom. prom four years ago, it member Hunter Miller initially was a formal black7:00 volunteered for 10 hours at tie event. Because many The dance begins! SACA volunteers dance with the senior prom, dancing residents did not own Heritagespring residents. The dance is DJed by WLHS, Lakota’s radio club, and there are live with many of the residents. formal attire, it was difficult performances from East choir members. “It was more like I for them to be involved was swinging their arms in the dance. This year, 9:00 After a fun night, volunteers remove decorations, around because most of Woods and SACA advisor clean up and start planning for next year. the residents were in wheel John Lindeman decided chairs, but they seemed to to make the prom more enjoy it,” says Miller. casual with a determined Souroutzidis additionally theme in order to include more residents who may not have formal wear. The 2007-08 theme was was floored by her conversations with several residents. “I’ve never been complimented so many times in my life,” says a Hawaiian Luau, in which the residents wore leis and floral ensembles. “I like doing different things; I love variety,” says Lindeman. “I think it Souroutzidis who was told that she was pretty and that she did not need makes it more interesting; it makes it more fun. The less dressy we go, the makeup. She was also asked if she was married. “When you do something for your community, it makes you feel good about yourself.” easier it is for [the residents] to feel comfortable.” Lindeman enjoyed seeing the high school students build relationships East junior and SACA Junior Committee Chair Ariadne Souroutzidis with senior citizens. organized most of the volunteers who helped with the prom. “I would love for the kids to want to visit the residents that they met,” “I felt really accomplished because we had this prom and it really helped the senior citizens,” says Souroutzidis. “Doing the residents’ says Lindeman. “That gives the residents something to look forward to all makeup, handing out their beads, talking to them and hearing them the time instead of only once a year.” Though the party has ended, the air of excitement and enthusiasm has reminisce about their youth was nice.” According to Woods, the residents love young people interacting, not gone. The residents were escorted to their rooms, as well as given a dancing and talking with them, but one of the biggest tasks is to encourage hug “goodnight,” and a red carnation. n


Senior Citizen’s Prom Schedule



21 | Spark | March 17, 2010

feature | community feature

The Line of Fire story abby buns | photos caroline tompkins


he long-range, supersonic Phantom fighter jet darts across the sky as the two-man crew scans the radar, searching for the bomb site. The cramped cockpit provides just enough room for the two naval aviation officers to perform elegant maneuvers through the sky before acquiring the target and firing. The naval weapons on the naval fighter jets were controlled by radar intercept officers, such as Lt. Cmdr. Robert Van Wert. His job included operating the systems in the back of the fighter jets, controlling weapons and leading electronic warfare. Van Wert, father of East senior Catie Van Wert and retired Navy officer, was a backseater on F-4 Phantoms and F-14 Tomcats. “It was an honor to be one of the naval flight officers because there are so few people who get the chance to do it,” says Van Wert. Throughout high school, he did not know which branch would be a good fit for him, but Van Wert always knew he wanted to fly in the military. “Even though my father was a full colonel in the Army, I chose the Navy because they offered the flight program I was interested in and Marine careers that I wanted to pursue,” explains Van Wert. Van Wert’s initial interest in the military was inititiated by his father’s active involvement in the army. Interest in the military is often spurred by family members who were in the service. East senior Cameron South also discovered his interest because of family influence. “My brother was in the military, and it is a great way to serve my country,” says South, who plans to become a naval officer through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corp (NROTC). Having interviewed many people hoping to join the Navy, Navy recruiter and Lt. Cmdr. Paul

When you are getting shot at, it forces you to focus on the bigger things such as the country and the world. Mountel knows the motivations behind becoming an officer from many naval recruits. “Patriotism is probably the top reason for people wishing to join the military,” says Mountel. Despite partiotism being the prominent reason for joining the service, there are other motives. “[The Navy] is a really great way to have fun and see the world, and also work with some of the finest people and equipment this country has to offer,” says Van Wert, who entered the Navy through the NROTC at Auburn University in Alabama. After completing NROTC, Van Wert spent the remainder of his career at the naval base in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Over the length of his carrier in the military, he was given the chance to deploy on five separate aircraft carriers. The military forced him to learn how to cope with many unexpected challenges. “Throughout my five half-year deployments, the biggest realization I faced when I first joined was death. I knew people died, but actually seeing it happen to my friends really drove it home,” says Van Wert. The deployments and eye-opening experiences provided Van Wert with diverse opportunities, but Van Wert’s proudest moment was fighting in Operation Desert Storm. “I spent my career learning and training for war, so Desert Storm was my most fulfilling time in the Navy,” says Van Wert. “I was proud to be able to accomplish what I needed to for the naval aviation community.” Van Wert says his biggest difficulty while he worked on one aircraft carrier deployment during the war and four during peace time was dealing with the separation from family for six months at a time. “What really helped were letters and phone calls from family,” says Van Wert. “My wife also flew out to the Mediterranean to visit me. We saw Greece, Spain and England.” Mountel agrees that homesickness is a challenging obstacle to overcome. “The biggest problem people face is separation from family,” says Mountel. “The biggest misunderstanding about the military is that it turns you into robots that don’t think, but [people in the military] are normal people.” Though there were definitely difficult times, Van Wert says he learned life lessons that have helped him in civilian life. “When you are getting shot at, it forces you to focus on the bigger things such as the country and the world,” says Van Wert. “It makes you more mature, gives you leadership skills and people skills and challenges you head on.” n

22 | Spark | March 17, 2010



Each issue, the Feature section is running a story covering the life of one member of each of the five branches of the military.

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Van Wert devoted his career to the United States Navy.

alt sports

alternative sports people play them N

ot many sporting events are comparable in size to the Olympic Games. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, there were 205 countries or regions, 302 events and 10,500 athletes. While some sports—like swimming and cycling—have always been offered, other sports are less mainstream and have only sporadically been included—like water polo and rugby. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics were no different. Although they are touted as the most watched Winter Olympics in history, it was not due to public interest in skeleton. For athletes who train years for their chance to compete, the lack of recognition can be disheartening. Yet there are numerous East athletes who feel the same way. Some sports, like football, have consistently received student recognition, while others have fallen by the wayside. “The [lacrosse] team doesn’t get school support,” says East senior and three-year Lakota lacrosse player Lindsey Sheroan. “People don’t really come to our games because a lot of people don’t even know we have a lacrosse team—especially a girls’ team. It’s almost like we’re just playing randomly; the only thing that shows that we’re from East is our jerseys.” Lacrosse is just one of the sports associated with East that does not get much recognition. Yet its status as one of the nation’s fastest growing sports is starting to change that; according to the U.S. Lacrosse Organization, youth participation in lacrosse has grown 500 percent in the past decade, and Lakota lacrosse has seen significant growth as well. “When we started a girls’ lacrosse program in 2000, we did not have enough players to split the teams between East and West,” says East Girls’ Lacrosse Head Coach Alison Scott. “We stayed combined under the Lakota umbrella until the district started to affiliate itself with the sport.” Yet during the 2009 season, there were enough players for the combined Lakota lacrosse team to branch into separate East and West teams, and this year, the 29 East players are enough for varsity and junior varsity teams. While lacrosse is receiving more recognition from the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), the Greater Miami Conference (GMC) and Lakota, it is not yet sanctioned by any of the groups.


and the

story kevin li | photos caroline tompkins

“Lacrosse is considered a club sport which means we don’t get funding from the school district,” says Scott. “The district has recognized that lacrosse is growing in Ohio and will soon be recognized by the OHSAA, so they have been taking steps to make sure we are ready.” The OHSAA, a voluntary association for public and private high schools with a mission to regulate interscholastic athletic competition, creates a more level playing field for students because schools that join have to abide by OHSAA rules and regulations. At the end of each season, OHSAA-schools also compete for state titles in each OHSAA-sponsored sport. Currently, there are 24 OHSAA-sponsored sports, but it is up to each athletic conference and each school to determine what sports it will and will not offer. The GMC also sponsors 24 sports,

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but they are not all OHSAA-recognized. For example, the GMC sponsors academic quiz team and chess, while it does not sponsor gymnastics or ice hockey—two OHSAA-recognized sports. Yet the GMC is merely Lakota’s athletic conference, and Lakota offers several sports on top of the GMCsanctioned ones, like gymnastics, cheerleading, sideline cheer and dance. The differences stem from one simple question: what is a sport? “Everything gets into the gray area of what is considered a sport,” explains East Athletic Director Richard Bryant. “We have a hacky-sack club; they’re athletic in nature, but I don’t know if it’s considered a sport.” The debate over what is and is not a sport has raged on for ages. Some argue that marching band is a sport, while others vehemently reject the assertion; the same is said for some GMC sports, like academic quiz team and chess, and some alternative sports, like paintball and dance. A Spark survey of 500 East students found that 67 percent of students think paintball is a sport, while only 37 percent consider both competitive and recreational dance sports. The GMC sanctions sports based on interest and number of teams. “Each spring, we go through a process where every school in the conference declares what sports it will have,” says Lakota Athletic Director Stu Eversole. “For it to be a GMC sport, six schools have to declare it a varsity sport. You have to fill out a form, and we know based on the forms what are going to be league sports.” Whether or not the GMC sanctions a sport, however, does not affect if athletes in that sport have to abide by OHSAA regulations. “We do not make a distinction between club, varsity or school sports,” says OHSAA Assistant Commissioner Roxanne Price. “If a member school adopts any one of our 24 sports as ‘interscholastic’ by whatever name they call it, it still has to abide by OHSAA rules and regulations.” This means that gymnastics must follow OHSAA regulations, which is currently not GMC sanctioned, still has to follow OHSAA regulations. Because of that, local gymnastics coaches are looking for GMC recognition. When Mason left the Fort Ancient Valley Conference (FAVC) to join the GMC in 2007, they brought a fifth school that had gymnastics as a school sport. Currently, both East and West have teams, but a majority, or six schools, is necessary before the GMC recognizes a sport. “If one more GMC school gets a team, we’ll get [GMC recognition],” says East and West Gymnastics Head Coach Margi Sammons. “Right now, Sycamore has a couple of individual girls, and if their school sponsors it as an actual team, then gymnastics could become a GMC sport.” While having GMC recognition would be ideal, its status as a school sport still has perks. East varsity gymnast and state qualifier Codie Owens

East senior Kirsten Weber performs her floor routine at District Championships.

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has been a gymnast for 14 years—10 years at Flip N’ Twist and four years at East. She prefers East gymnastics over a club team for several reasons. “In club, practices were really hardcore, intense and awful. In high school, it’s way less stressful and much more easygoing,” she says. “On top of that, you get a lot more recognition for high school gymnastics—people actually know when you do something good—while in club, nobody really cares.” Gymnastics’ classification as a school sport lets it receive district funding. All school sports get an annual budget and coaches sign supplemental contracts. This means sport fees for the 2009-10 school year are set at $140. “It’s really reasonable, especially for gymnastics,” says Sammons. “It’s usually a really expensive sport outside the school.” Funding for club sports, however, is an entirely different story. For example, playing girls’ lacrosse is a costly endeavor. The fees for returning players are $300, while the fees for brand new players are $200 to offset the cost of buying equipment. On top of the higher fees, the lacrosse team also has several fundraisers to help with cost. Yet it is not just the students who are affected; because club sport coaches do not receive supplemental contracts, they must volunteer their time. To help the sport, East has aided the girls’ lacrosse team in other ways. “The school district and the athletic office at East have been very welcoming of lacrosse,” says Scott. “It has been a learning process for everyone involved. We are working with the district to take steps to make lacrosse a school sport, and at this point we are following all the rules and regulations that school sports have to abide by. We also have access to all the facilities at Lakota, which was not the case before the split.” East has been accommodating of lacrosse, but it is still up in the air to see if it will become a school sport for one major reason—funding. When club sports become school sports, the district must pay for the equipment. Because Lakota already finds itself in an economic bind and is putting a levy up in May, making the jump to a school sport is looking increasingly grim. “It’s possible [for club sports to become school sports],” says Bryant. “You’ve read enough in the papers about the difficult economic times in Lakota; they’re not going to add [sports]. Let’s say we add hockey, just JV and varsity. That’s six coaches that get paid, insurance that gets paid, all that stuff in addition to ice time somewhere, paying officials, equipping the kids and transportation. If we’re taking teachers out of classrooms, are we going to be putting kids on the hockey rink? I think the answer is obvious.” No matter the category, club or school, these sports will continue. The growth of lacrosse and hockey suggests that the sports are here to stay. Yet as each alternative sport becomes more common, other ones begin to grow. Welcome to the world of those new alternative sports. —Kevin Li

Crossing Over


sidebar victoria reick-mitrisin

or East senior Haley Braun, second semester was not a time to succumb to senioritis. It presented her with an opportunity she had never considered—to go out for the East Girls’ Lacrosse team. Braun is spending the spring of her senior year picking up the sport. She certainly has the personality to carry it off. As she saunters into any room with her charisma and constant flow of jokes, Braun takes on a very casual air. But this accomplished veteran of East theatre productions isn’t looking for a lead role, just a spot on the lacrosse stage. Aside from picking up a new hobby, making new friends and having a new and exciting experience are at the top of Braun’s list. Fortunately for Braun, this year, East Girls’ Lacrosse consists of an eclectic group of students of all ages and backgrounds who are ready to try something new. “I guess it is an appealing sport because a lot of people are new to it,” says Braun. “I don’t stick out as a senior just because I’m learning.” It has been nearly half a year since Braun made the decision to try lacrosse, and she has no regrets. The team has been welcoming and has given Braun the chance to meet many new friends. Lacrosse is currently recognized as a high school sport in 21 states, and teens are the second-fastest growing age group involved, according to the U.S. participation survey. Braun, who has a voice potent enough to allow her to sing the National Anthem at East basketball games, chose the new hobby in order to expand her horizons. “I needed something to fill my time,” says Braun, who is not alone in her pursuit of lacrosse as a new activity. East senior and hockey goalkeeper Kelly Metz is also new to the sport. “I think it’ll be fun,” says Metz. “All the girls in training seem really nice, so it’ll be a good year.” This is the first year at East that there will be enough girls participating to have both a varsity team, coached by Allison Scott, and junior varsity

team, coached by Lauren Weinheimer. The teams will be divided, but players will have the ability to play for both varsity and junior varsity as the season progresses. Neither Braun nor Metz plan to pursue lacrosse in college, but they both continue to push themselves at practices in order to maintain that possibility. “I hope that we win and have fun together and make new friends,” says Metz. “That is always good.” Even if the team does not have a winning season, the girls believe that what will be gained will be worth the time and practice. “I’m really glad [I tried out]—lacrosse is going to be a really good experience,” says Braun. “The girls are interesting and ready to help.” Braun and Metz believe that the returning lacrosse players have been tolerant and accommodating in their endeavors to help the new teammates feel at home while they pick up new techniques. The returning players East senior Haley interact well with the new seniors, working together at Braun is East girls’ lacrosse JV Captain. practices to excel. “I think that you’ve got to have a lot of patience as a returning player,” says Metz. “They’ve all been really helpful.” The experienced teammates have played a key role in helping players like Braun and Metz. “Just over the past few months we can already tell that [Braun and Metz] will be a great asset to the team,” says Weinheimer. “They both possess a good work ethic and commitment.” Like Braun and Metz, high school students across the country have picked up lacrosse, a trend that is not expected to cease any time soon. n

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Pumped Up story sarah fanning, allison korson photos dan turner


St. Xavier freshman Trey Goodwin takes aim from behind a bunker.

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heir clothes are covered with multi-colored battle wounds. They are hiding in over 35 acres of woods and overgrowth. Their only goal is to shoot the opposing team with their own neon colored bullets; if the other team shoots them first, then they are eliminated. Since the invention of the paintball gun and pellet in 1974, the sport of paintball has seen extreme growth. “They used to use the paintballs to mark trees and cattle,” says Jeanne Erkenbrecher, owner of Cabin Creek Paintball which opened its doors 10 years ago. There is now a National Professional Paintball League (NPPL), and National Collegiate Paintball association, in which Big 10 schools participate. “Even in the 10 years we’ve been here, [paintball] has seemed to pick up in popularity quite a bit,” says Bob Niederman, the owner of Paintball Country. Paintball Country is one of 65 paintball fields in Ohio, and the largest in the tri-state area. It offers occasional tournament games, one or two big scenario games a year, and recreation paintball—rec ball—which is by far the most popular. Rec ball is a more casual form of paintball, where players are divided into two teams of equal skill levehen a player is shot by a member of the opposing team, they are eliminated. “Our main object [in rec ball] is to match the skill levels well on teams. If we can do that everyone has fun,” says Niederman. “It’s not size but the skill level that matters when setting up teams. We want everyone to have fun, and we want to grow the sport.” Cincinnati Paintball owner Anthony Hicks also aspires to increase the popularity of paintball. “Part of my ambition is to grow the sport in this region,” says Hicks. “The best way that I’ve seen to do that is to start a youth league and provide the kids all the tools to play the game.” To aid in this goal, Hicks has set up several youth leagues at Cincinnati Paintball, as well as frequent tournaments. Although there has been recent growth in the sport with 10 million estimated regular players nationwide, only 40 percent of 500 East students surveyed have played paintball before. East senior Josh Sharp, has been a referee at Paintball Country for a year and a half, and recognizes several of his fellow students while he works. “I see a lot of kids I know from East coming to play rec ball,” Sharp says. “Some come on a regular basis, but it is a usually an on and off kind of thing.” However, East senior Brian McCarthy has been playing paintball for over four years, and plays on an organized team that participates in nationwide tournaments. There are also two West students on his team. “[The team] lasted a few months and we just went [to Aurora, Indiana] every weekend for a few hours and we’d have scrimmages against each other and run drills,” McCarthy says. “They’d teach us the basics and what to do to build on top of that.” Due to the growth in popularity of the sport, numerous schools have worked to set up leagues. Paintball Country lets any high school with an established league, such as Mason City Schools, use its fields for a fee. “Schools have a hard time getting [a paintball league organized] because of guns and the image of guns these days,” says Niederman.

Paintball guns— referred to as markers as they are called at Paintball Country to avoid the negative connotation— are not allowed on school grounds. To circumvent this restriction, players must arrange for their guns to be brought to the fields after school by their parents. Paintball has also had to overcome the negative reputation from the pain of being hit by paintballs. “It’s not for everyone. There can be pain involved when you get hit; not everyone enjoys that. It doesn’t bother a lot of people though,” says Niederman. Paintball gun pellets are made of breakable gelatin balls filled with paint. They are fired using carbon dioxide power or air compression. To counterbalance the impact of the hit, Niederman suggests that players wear loose-fitting clothes to help absorb the force of the paintball. Chest protectors are also available for rent for those who want extra protection. Even though the impact of paintball pellets are painful to some, Niederman views the sport as safe. “[Paintball] is one of the safest extreme sports you can play,” says Niederman. “You get a huge adrenaline rush, but it is pretty safe.” The popularity of video games such as “NPPL Championship Paintball 2009”and “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” have also led to the popularity of the sport. “Video games do create excitement; you play things on the screen, and then you want to come out and try it in real life,” says Sharp. Although the popularity of the sport has risen rapidly, the ability to play paintball has also been aided by the decreasing prices of markers and other necessary equipment. Three years ago, the price of a standard marker was $500-700, but, according to Niederman, a quality marker can now be purchased for between $200-300. A hopper to hold balls must also be purchased, while guns, masks and paintball pellets can be rented for use at paintball fields. According to Niederman it is important to have a high quality mask, or it will fog up and become dangerous.


McCarthy’s ability to play has frequently been hindered by the cost associated with the sport. “I haven’t been able to [play paintball] that much because it’s pretty expensive to do, but I try to at least once a month,” McCarthy says. According to Sharp, the price is well worth it, and once people experience paintball, they want to come back and try it again. “It is a great adrenaline rush,” says Sharp. “It’s such a great sport; once you get out there, you don’t want to stop.”

Gunning for Gold The excitement of paintball has attracted people of all ages to play variations of the game. The two separate types of paintball are woodsball, also known as scenario paintball, and speedball, also called tournament paintball. Both types have their own distinct strategies, fields, equipment, timing and numbers of teammates. “Woodsball is played in the woods and speedball is played on a structured field with bunkers. Bunkers are blow-up structures that sort of look like balloons,” says Erkenbrecher. “They are basically anything that you can stand behind.” Scenario is more of a large-scale game, in which one can play with anywhere from five to 5,000 players in a game that can last up to a full day. “In scenario paintball, they’ll have an eight-hour game in a day,” says Erkenbrecher. “The game will go on all day long. When you get shot you go to a certain area for whatever the designated amount of time is, five minutes or 10 minutes, and then you get back into the game-so it’s continual play. It ends at the time limit.” Paintball Country also offers scenario paintball, but with a few differences. “Scenario is make-believe in the woods usually with 250 to 300 people, two teams and 25 acres,” says Bob Neiderman, the owner of Paintball

Suiting Up

Dye i3 Mask with wide lens to see more of the field. Planet Eclipse Ego is a high end tournament marker that is used by many pros and is programmable for different settings of play. Dye Rotor is an electronic hopper that feeds paintballs into the marker at 50 balls per second.

JT Mask with visor to block sun.

14 inch barrel makes the gun more accurate. Carbon Fiber wrapped High Pressured Air (HPA) is the “gunpowder” for paintball guns. Carbon fiber makes the tank lighter in weight.

Unique jerseys to differentiate between teams. Pants with built in knee pads and pockets specifically designed for paintball. Elbow and knee pads for sliding and to make balls bounce instead of break.

infographic sarah wilkinson

Scenario Tippmann 98 custom is the most common scenario marker Gravity feed hopper is the cheapest type (the paintballs are fed into the gun by the force of gravity). Camo to hide in the woods.

Pack to hold pods, which hold extra paintballs in case one runs out during the game. Can also hold a spare air tank.

Tournament players were baggy clothing underneath their jerseys to heighten the possibility of the paintballs bouncing if they get hit. Someone is not out unless the paintball breaks and their is a quarter size spot of paint on their body or gun.

Cleats for traction against the ground.

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“Paintball is one of the safest extreme sports you can play.

Country. “There is a fuel depot set up, a missile and a silo. Every half hour the teams get a different mission which they complete for points. The games last eight, 10 or 12 hours.” With such a long game, woodsball is more relaxed than speedball where the pace of play is much quicker. “Communication is key in speedball. Everyone has a position they play and they communicate with the other players,” says Erkenbrecher. “The object is to get the flag, which is in the center of the field, and hang it on the other team’s goal. That means ideally, you want to get everyone out on the other team. They get out after they are hit once.” Paintball is often used as a team-building activity for churches and schools according to Erkenbrecher. But it can also be played as a competitive sport, in which teams practice once a week and travel all over the country to play in various tournaments. “The major [paintball] leagues are the Paintball Sports Promotions (PSP) and U.S. Paintball League (USPL). There is also the Mid-South X-Ball League (MSXL) that has tournaments all over the country,” says McCarthy. “Those happen about once every month and the season lasts about six to seven months.” According to McCarthy, his speedball team has been around since the early 1990s. However he joined it his freshman year when the coach spotted him and his friend at a youth summer league and asked him to join the team. “In the ninth grade, my friends and I heard about this summer paintball youth league,” says McCarthy. “I had never played so I wanted to do it. We went there and we got pretty good from just doing that and the people who were organizing it asked us if we wanted to play on their team and for them to sponsor us.” As a tournament player, there is a lot of expensive equipment needed for speedball. “You need a gun and an air tank, which goes on the back of your gun to shoot the balls,” says McCarthy. “Then you need a hopper, which holds the balls, kneepads, elbow pads and a mask. You don’t really need a jersey and paintball pants, but some people wear them.”

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For McCarthy and his team, however, numerous paintball companies around the country sponsor them and offer them beneficial deals on their equipment. “One time we got sponsored by this company called Dangerous Power and we were the only team in the country to be shooting their guns so it was pretty cool,” says McCarthy, who hopes to continue playing paintball in college. According to McCarthy, speedball is the main type of paintball in the professional world. “Professional speedball players get paid,” says McCarthy. “My team always plays speedball. We play scenario when we’re just messing around but I’ve never been to a scenario tournament.” At their four-hour long practices every Sunday, the team scrimmages and runs various drills. Sometimes, it will even scrimmage professional paintball teams. At the tournament series, McCarthy and his team generally finish well. Two years ago, when they attended the Granite State Paintball League (GSPL) in New Jersey, they placed third out of 32 teams that came from all around the country. They played 15 games in a row and went undefeated until the finals, during which the temperature was 102 degrees with high humidity. “There were people passing out and stuff, it was crazy,” says McCarthy. “We got to the finals and we were just tired and we started not doing as well. But we placed third and I was still really proud of that.” At Cabin Creek, there are both highly dedicated teams that stay together for years and more casual players who come on the weekends and participate mainly in pick-up games. According to Erkenbrecher, anyone can play paintball. “There are a lot of insurance regulations, so you have to be 10 years old to play,” says Erkenbrecher. “But my oldest player was a 74-year old minister. I’ve had a guy in a wheelchair play I’ve had a whole group of deaf people play and I have seen blind people play. It is a sport that anyone can play. You don’t have to be in great physical shape to play it, and it is something anyone can enjoy.” n

The Ultimate Game

East junior Jen Flick is entering her third season as a member of the Lakota Ultimate Club.

story faiz siddiqui | photos caroline tompkins


photo dan turner

y the time she was 13, she had competed in gymnastics, volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee. She only had passion for one. For East Junior Jennifer Flick, one thing stood out about Ultimate—she could play with the boys. Flick’s brother, David, first introduced her to the sport usually referred to as “Ultimate” when she was a seventh grader at Hopewell Junior School. She ended up joining her brother’s team, the Lakota Ultimate Club. She had no trouble grasping the rules of the sport but, being a girl, at first she felt as if some players would not throw to her on the basis of her gender. Eventually, the boys began to respect her. Little did they know that Jennifer would end up becoming a key player for the team. She remembers a time when she first showed the guys her capabilities. “I jumped up against two college kids,” Flick says. “I managed to come out with the Frisbee.” To Flick’s teammate, Lakota West Senior Brian Leachman, it seems as if similar situations were not uncommon for Flick during her initial seasons. “A few years ago, we played this all boys team in a co-ed tournament and it did not faze her at all,” he says. “She was just another team player.” Flick has progressed in the sport to the point that her teammates are able to look past her gender completely. At the same time, opposing players take her gender into account when defending her. Flick exploits their carelessness. “It’s kind of funny because the guys will try and back off when they have to guard a girl,” she says. “It’s a lot easier when a guy is guarding me because then I can use his discomfort to my advantage.” Players often regret giving Flick extra space after she helps her team gain big yardage. When players sag off from her, Flick is left with extra time to find an open cutter—or wingman. Another one of Flick’s teammates, West Senior Bri Forney, sees how Flick repeatedly takes advantage of the situations. “She’s open a lot to catch throws because of it,” she says. “Then she can get rid of the disc really quickly to gain yards.” Ultimate teams normally have a male to female ratio of 5:2 in their lineups, so Flick is usually defended by males. Aside from the the fact that the sport is co-ed—allowing bother genders to play—Flick describes Ultimate as “just like any other sport.” While Ultimate is not necessarily a mainstream sport, the parallels between it and sports like American football and soccer are hard to miss. Flick condemns people who downplay the physicality of the sport as compared to those considered mainstream. “There is a lot in common with Ultimate and Football,” she says. “Ultimate is a lot more physical than people think.” Other athletes sometimes stereotype Ultimate, perceiving it to be “soft,” so Flick often finds herself having to refute such arguments. “Lacrosse players in general don’t like Ultimate,” she says. “[They] do not realize it [requires] a lot of endurance and you have to actually be pretty good at it and you have to practice. What some critics of Ultimate do not realize is that just like in sports such as football and lacrosse, Ultimate can be the source of dreaded athletic injuries. Errant throws have been known to strike inattentive players, causing facial bruising. Players also frequently injure their collar bones when diving for overthrown or underthrown passes. Structural damage, however, is not as prevalent in Ultimate as it is in football. But the similarities between Ultimate and football, in particular, extend onto the playing field. Ultimate matches begin almost identically to football games, with the flip of a disk for possession, rather than a coin. Instead of kicking off to the opposing team as in football, in Ultimate, the defending team must “Pull”—throw the Frisbee onto the other half of the field to commence play. But unlike in football, players possessing the disc cannot move with it. The players have ten seconds to throw the disc before it is

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The most difficult throw in a handler’s arsenal, the forehand mainly uses four muscles in the arm, which create the complex forces that spin the disc and direct it to its intended target.



Flexor Carpi Radialis

Flexor Digitorum Superficialis This muscle is important in balancing the disc. Flexing the pinky and ring fingers balances the hand and the flexion of the middle and index fingers assists in spinning the disc by pulling the front of the disc backward while the thumb and arm push the back of the disc forward.

infographic tyler castner, radhika madhavan

The main flexor muscle in this motion, the flexor carpi radialis flexes the index finger in order to create a pulling motion and put the counterclockwise spin on the disc.

Pronator Quadratus This muscle contracts to rotate the wrist and put the palm down. This creates an additional forward force on the disc. information human anatomy and physiology by david shier, jackie butler, ricki lewis

considered “dead” and they have to give up possession. Still, just as in football, players pass the disc to each other, sometimes heaving it through the air to maneuver the field and reach the endzone for a score. Also similar to football is Ultimate’s use of formations and defensive coverage. On offense teams select how many handlers they will use based on the defense’s alignment. The defense can align in either man-to-man coverage, which accounts for all offensive players, or zone coverage, which protects all areas of the field. Because of the similarities between the two sports, East freshman Connor White sees Ultimate as a viable alternative to football. White, who will take the field this year for the first time alongside Flick as a member of the Lakota Ultimate Club this year, made the switch from football to Ultimate after taking a nasty hit. “I got tackled by a senior and I sprained my ankle,” he says. “My parents would not let me play football so [Ultimate] was pretty much the best thing for me.” Because of White’s football experience, he has seen the correlation between Ultimate and football first-hand. “You’re doing just as much stuff out there and as much running and catching as football,” he says. “We’re doing just as much work as football players and if they got out here they would see that.” Ultimate, however, does not only take characteristics of American football. Flick feels that soccer is the mainstream sport most closely related to Ultimate. “[Ultimate] is a lot like soccer because it’s a lot more running than [American football],” she says. “It can change course at any point.” When she first joined the Lakota Club Team, Flick used aspects of a different sports that she played, disc golf, to help her throw precisely. She believes that her previous experience with disc sports gave her an edge over the players who were completely unfamiliar to them. “Frisbee golf helped my precision with the disc a lot,” she says. “It helped me place the disc wherever I wanted to.” Flick’s eventual passion for Ultimate grew deeper than hers for the other two sports in which she competed—gymnastics and volleyball. Millions have felt the same way. The use of Ultimate as a replacement

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Pronator Teres This muscle contracts to rotate the forarm, assisting in placing a counterclockwise spin on the disc.

for other sports contributes to its growing popularity. There are already five million competitors in the United States alone, with new ones joining every day. The trend does not seem to be slowing. Regional, state, continental and world competitions have already arisen for the growing sport. Flick’s coach—Lakota Ultimate Club Coach Joel Houmes—has taken his teams to these upper-level competitions. His select team, the Cincinnati Ultimate Select Team, participated in the 2009 North American Championships of Ultimate. He believes that the tournament’s playing-field has become stronger with every passing year. “Those games are pretty intense,” he says. “We usually get our butts kicked.” When Houmes is selecting a team to take to a competitive tournament, he usually looks for the same traits that varsity coaches do when selecting top-tier teams for mainstream sports. “The best players are quick,” he says. “It’s like a lot of other sports. Being quicker is good and so is the willingness to get dirty and sacrifice your body.” But according to Flick, the high level of play in competitive tournaments has even begun to trickle down to recreational games. “[Recreational games] can be as intense as varsity sports,” she says. One thing that many Ultimate coaches lack when put up against varsity coaches is experience. Unlike established traditional sports, there are no common drills with Ultimate. Flick participated in drills that she had never come across in her previous sporting endeavors when she made the switch from mainstream sports to Ultimate. “[In layout drills], you basically just learn how to run and then jump in the mud,” she says. “It is a lot of fun.” Flick believes that coaches have no precedent with which to work. “Most people haven’t ever played before,” she says. “It’s really a lot like starting from scratch.” But even as the sports matures and expands, Houmes believes that one thing has the potential to slow the continuous growth of Ultimate—its lack of school funding. Unlike Greater Miami Conference sports such as basketball and district-funded sports like gymnastics, Lakota Ultimate Club members pay an initiation fee of $65 on top of Cincinnati Ultimate Players Association dues, which are required for membership into the local league.

East senior Tyler Castner works on his backhand huck at the season kickoff Ultimate Lock-in at the Rivers Edge in Garrison.

Although Houmes does not believe Ultimate will become school-funded in the near future, but he believes that Ultimate should still take the same steps that lacrosse coaches took when faced with a similar situation a few years ago. “Lacrosse [became school funded], but lacrosse has junior school and elementary school leagues,” he says. “Until we get to that point, I do not see us becoming a school sport.” A lack of of depth has not stopped Centerville High School Assistant Ultimate Coach Todd Chamberlain from vying for school sponsorship. His team has pushed for school funding and proposed that Ultimate become a gym credit at Centerville. A levy failure impeded Chamberlain’s proposals, but Chamberlain is one of the many who remain optimistic about the future of the sport. “Ultimate will become a school-sanctioned sport,” he says. “It is just like lacrosse, field hockey and all of these sports that became school-sanctioned. It is just going to take a little bit longer for it to do so.” At this point, however, a lack of school funding has not hampered the sport’s development. Over the years, several new terms have sprouted from Ultimate. Flick sees the jargon as a quintessential aspect of Ultimate. “The lingo speeds up the process of getting the messages across,” she says. “It’s just as important as it is in football.” Just like mainstream sports, Ultimate players have their own offensive and defensive roles. The handler in Ultimate has a similar duty to a guard in basketball. “Like a point guard, the handler directs the offense,” Leachman says. Handlers carry an arsenal of different throws in Ultimate. An overhead throw referred to as the “hammer” is used to throw the disc when the defender, the “mark” is closely guarding the handler. Handlers use the “huck” to hoist the Frisbee downfield, but unlike the hammer, there is not always a set trajectory with the huck, which is used when the handler has little time to do away with the disc. Flick believes that all of the contributions that players have made in developing the sport is the definitive difference between Ultimate and mainstream sports.

“Ultimate is different from other sports,” she says. “It’s a combination of all of them but at the same time, it’s unique from all of them.” It is the spontaneity of Ultimate that will keep Flick playing at the next level. “Football can be predictable, but with Ultimate, anything goes,” she says.“You are your own referee [in Ultimate] and you have to make your own calls, which is why I liked it better than soccer.” In the future, if the college she attends offers Ultimate as either a team or club sport, she plans to continue playing. For now, Flick will continue to contribute to the Lakota Ultimate Club in any way that she can, whether on or off the field. Aside from helping her team gain critical yardage, Flick has begun to take on a larger role for her team. “She’s a motivator,” says Leachman. “If you make a good play she’ll be the first to get excited and be happy for you.” Forney believes that Flick’s optimism is a vital asset to the team. “The biggest thing is that she keeps a very positive attitude, even if we’re losing, and she’s really good about stopping to help people out.” she says. “She’s never mean to anyone who is new.” Still, new members of the team may not want to model themselves completely after Flick. According to Forney, she is notoriously clumsy. “This one time we had this really muddy practice and she was walking down the hill and she feel down right on her butt,” Forney says. “And then she got up and fell right back down again.” Clumsiness aside, Flick has found a niche in Ultimate that she could not find in sports that she played before it. But Ultimate has given Jennifer Flick more than just a sport to play in place of others and an extra-curricular activity. It has given her a gift that she can use beyond her scholastic career and for the rest of her life. A gift that no other sport in which she had participated in had given her before: that she no longer has to be intimidated by the perceived athletic-superiority of her male counterparts. “They can talk all they want,” she says. “But it does not mean that they can [play].” n

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Horsing Around story anjana jagpal infographic katrina echternacht

Horseback riding is making a growing impact in the world of sports, and the number of equestrians is increasing. Of 500 East students surveyed, 59 percent have been horseback riding and seven percent participate in equestrian sports, which are all horse-related sports.

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Kelsey Williamson Hunter/Jumper

Most girls spend hours preparing for prom: getting their hair and nails done and going tanning. This was not how East senior Kelsey Williamson spent her prom weekend. On the day of prom, she drove four hours from her horse competition in Cleveland, which did not leave ample time to get ready. After the night of festivities, she took the four- hour drive back to Cleveland. For the 12-year horseback rider, it was all worth it when she found out that her team had won nationals. Williamson began horseback riding in an after-school riding program at Heritage Elementary School. She immediately fell in love with riding and bought her first horse in third grade. “Once I got my first horse I began practicing a lot and really got involved in the sport,” says Williamson. “When I was in seventh grade, we moved houses, and my dad suggested that we build a barn at our new house.” Because she is the only one in her family that rides, she had never pushed the idea of getting her own barn, but her dad thought that it would be helpful because it would allow her to ride as often as she liked. She utilizes the barn by practicing as often as she can—both at her house and at weekly intensive lessons with her trainer. Her lessons consist of warming up, practicing different jumping techniques and making sure the horse moves properly. “[Williamson] trains really hard every day; she is one of the top riders on our team,” says horse trainer Jim Arrigon. Despite the difficulty of the sport, Williamson’s friends still joke with her that horseback riding is easy and that anyone can do it. “They don’t realize that it’s a lot harder than it looks until they actually get on a horse and start to ride,” she says. Although horseback riding is not yet a mainstream sport, it requires a similar amount of athletic ability.

So, what’s the big


Hunter/Jumper Kelsey Williamson

Hunter/Jumper riding is based on the traditional riding of foxhunters. Hunter/Jumper shows require the horse and rider to jump a course of jumps while being judged on their way of going.

What do riders wear?

What do judges look for?

a. dark colored jacket b. conservative colored shirt c. dark colored helmet d. light colored breeches e. dark, normally black, boots f. black gloves (optional)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.



cadence of horse’s gait smoothness over jumps no jumps knocked down no refusals correctness of course execution 6. rider’s position



Dressage Page Mayberry

What do judges look for?

a. dark colored jacket b. white shirt c. dark colored hat or helmet d. white breeches e. dark boots f. white or black gloves

1. cadence of horse’s gait 2. action of the horses legs 3. correctness of the pre-determined dressage pattern 4. effectiveness of rider’s aids

a 4


Dressage requires a horse and rider to move as one, with just gentle pressure from the rider as communication. Dressage is sometimes referred to as ballet on horseback.

What do riders wear?

c b 6 a d


e 2

c c 2 ae

Western Lauren Pearce

Western riding originates from the style of western ranchers. A relaxed horse with smooth gaits and a strong body are essential qualities in a western show horse.

What do riders wear?

What do judges look for?

a. shirt, sometimes very flashy b. jeans or dark pants that compliment shirt c. western hat or dark colored helmet d. dark colored boots e. hair neatly in bun at nape of neck

1. total control of horse 2. appearance of a pleasurable ride (smile!) 3. horse’s head and neck relaxed and low 4. cadence and rhythm of horse’s gait

1 3

b d


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“I feel that horseback riding is really overlooked,” Williamson says. “People don’t realize that training is hard, and you become really sore—just as in any other sport.” Williamson partakes in both Hunter and Jumper riding. She started out in Hunter riding, which is a style of horseback riding where participants are judged on the style of their riding through a course of jumps. Over the past couple of years, however, she has also moved in to Jumper riding, which is judged solely on the rider’s time through the course. “With Jumpers, there are jumps set up all around the arena at a competition,” says Williamson. “You are asked to perform a specific [order of jumps] and you have to jump as fast as you can.” Most riders start with Hunters because it teaches the basics that are a necessity for Jumpers, but many riders that compete in Hunters also compete in Jumpers. Williamson competes in two different organizations—the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) and Ohio Jumper Association (OHJA)—that participate in different events and competitions. The IEA, which has 1600 members and more than 200 teams across the country, holds a national competition every year. “During my sophomore year, I placed seventh at nationals and during my junior year, I placed second,” Williamson says. “Sometimes you have competitions where things don’t go as you planned, and other times everything goes just as you practiced. At nationals, I knew I was having a good day. After I rode, my score was announced, and I didn’t realize until later that my score gave me second place.” Placing second at nationals made Williamson realize that all her years of horseback riding had paid off. Nationals also helped her gain valuable credentials, which impressed Miami University’s nationally-ranked Redhawks equestrian team. Next year, she plans on taking her riding to the next level and competing in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association with the team.

Page Mayberry Dressage

East senior Page Mayberry continually goes to Lexington, Kentucky to get ultra sounds and x-rays for someone she considers family—her horse Abigail. Mayberry and Abigail have been an unstoppable team in horse competitions, but that all changed when Abigail became lame. Numerous vets have checked out the horse, but no one has been able to figure out what is wrong with her. Mayberry is scared that the horse she loves and adores may no longer be able to be ridden. “[Abigail] has been lame for the past couple of months, so it has been a lot harder to train as hard as we should ,” says Mayberry’s horse trainer of three years Tricia Hammer. Mayberry has spent countless hours and hundreds of dollars on Abigail’s treatment because developing a relationship with the horse is a very important aspect of riding. The horse has to be able to trust the rider and know that the rider has its best interest in mind. “I [leased a different] horse for a while, and we could never seem to get along,” says Mayberry. “If you can’t get along sometimes it just doesn’t work; you can’t force a good relationship.” Mayberry has owned Abigail for a year and a half, and it is evident that they have quite an interesting relationship. “Sometimes with Abigail, things are going great and we get along fine, but other times nothing goes right,” comments Mayberry. Developing a good relationship takes time, and as a varsity basketball player, Mayberry has to balance her time with riding and other sports. “After practice, the last thing I want to do is go to the barn,” she says. “Usually, I am already sore from basketball, and riding adds to that.” Mayberry’s initial interest in horseback riding began in first grade. “I just did day camps and took some lessons, but I wanted to ride more,

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so I transferred to a different barn and leased a horse.” Since then, Mayberry has always been looking to refine her riding. “I have seen [Mayberry] show her horses many times, and she does really well and continues to improve,” says Gordon Moore, the manager of Liberty Equestrian Barn, where Mayberry rides and boards. For the past seven years, Mayberry has mainly participated in Dressage riding. She competes in shows sanctioned by the Mid South Eventing and Dressage Association (MSEDA) that currently has 400 eventing and dressage enthusiasts. Mayberry has also participated in Hunters and Jumpers, but she likes Dressage the best. Beyond the MSEDA, she competes in the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), which has 125 local and regional clubs. “At my first show, I was super nervous, but my horse showed really well and I received three first [place finishes] and a second [place finish],” says Mayberry. “From then on, I knew I wanted to continue with Dressage.” Because the horses are asked to perform controlled movements, Dressage is commonly referred to as horse ballet. At a competition, the rider is asked to perform the same tests every time, and judges rate each performance on how well it is executed. Although Abigail has been lame for the past couple of months, Mayberry still wants to continue riding; it has been difficult for her to practice the necessary amount, but her passion for riding has not diminished.

Lauren Pearce Western

With riding boots on and hair pulled back, East senior Lauren Pearce had a carrot in hand for her beloved horse Zorro. But just as she was opening the door, her mom called her back into the house. Pearce’s mom sat her down and told her that they had sold Zorro. Feeling like she had just lost one of the most important things in her life, she went to her room and refused to speak to anyone. It was not, however, the first time her family sold a horse. Six months before, they had to sell their first horse Mojo. Pearce and her family knew that it would be the best financial option if they sold both horses. While Pearce understood the financial circumstances, selling Zorro came as a surprise. “Selling the first horse was a horrible experience,” says Pearce. “I had grown so attached to the horses.” While Pearce has been forced to go through losing these relationships, horseback riding has also given her another lasting relationship. “[Pearce] and I were able to establish our friendship through horseback riding,” says Pearce’s best friend Morgan Jones. When Pearce’s family first moved to West Chester in 1997, they boarded a horse at Greentree Stable Farms in Monroe. “We realized that [my family] loves riding together, and we couldn’t enjoy that unless we ended up buying a second horse,” Pearce says. Pearce’s interest in Western riding developed when she rode with her family. Western riding uses a saddle with a horn for stability. In this style of riding, riders typically jog and lope, which involves rocking the horse. “I competed for the first time at a horse camp, and it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it,” says Pearce. Since Pearce stopped competing, she has mainly been riding for fun. She enjoys “the carefree feeling” she experiences when she rides. Because of her appreciation for the sport, Pearce plans on attending Morehead University, which has an established equestrian program. “I want to try out for the team at Morehead, but I just have to build up enough courage to do so,” she says. Pearce wants to continue horseback riding after college as well. “I have always imagined starting a family in the country. It’s peaceful and stress free, and there are open fields, so I can ride whenever I want,” she says. “I have been riding my entire life; it has become a big part of me.” n

East students Meg Melotti and Allison Korson practice with the ATJ All Stars before the large senior jazz division.

The Battle For Bids story and photos kaity conner


ights flash. The music thumps loud enough to make the floor shake. The crowd goes wild and the area fills with smoke as the dancers take their places on stage. Teammates and friends battle against each other for the chance to continue in competition and the opportunity to prove themselves to their classmates and competitors. Hailing from three local competitive dance programs, 10 of the 15 members of the Lakota East dance team, along with a number of other East students, met in Covington, Kentucky on February 13 and 14 to fight for bragging rights and respect. Jamfest Dance Super Nationals offers these dancers the chance to earn a bid for Worlds, the ultimate competition in the All Star dance world, and the opportunity to prove themselves. East junior Meggie Berter, a former member of the East dance team and a dancer for the All That Jazz (ATJ) All Stars was hit with a wave of emotions as she stepped onto the stage. “I was a nervous wreck—I was shaking the whole time,” she says of her first performance at this year’s competition. “I felt good in practice, but then we were waiting and just watching everybody and the nerves started kicking in.” These nerves have been felt by all of the dancers in the performance line up at Jamfest Super Nationals at some point. “It’s so much pressure. It’s so big,” says Mount Notre Dame High School senior Megan Harmon, who attended Lakota through junior high and

competes at Super Nationals for Star Performance Centre. “It’s the biggest competition we have all year so it’s what we work for.” The weight of the dancers’ expectations and their desire to win big makes Super Nationals a highly anticipated event. “Super Nationals is always an event that dancers look [forward] to each year,” says East junior Kaylie Henry, a two-year member of the Midwest Cheer Elite senior hip-hop team and a first-year member of the East dance team. “This year the top three teams that placed were all from our area and that’s a big deal.” Star Performance Centre, Midwest Cheer Elite and ATJ All Stars took home the top prizes in large senior hip-hop, the most heated and anticipated division in the competition. But each of these teams had different -obstacles to overcome in order to win big. For Midwest Cheer Elite, this hurdle was a new routine. “During the last few practices, we changed our whole routine, so over a minute and a half [of the 2:15 long routine] is brand new,” says Coach Brooke Boling. Learning brand new choreography required the complete attention of the dancers. But because her team is so close, Boling says, “Sometimes it’s hard to get them to focus and get them to [work].” Her dancers had to fight against both the urge to socialize and the muscle memory they had developed from the beginning of the season in order to

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present a new routine that would earn more points with the judges. Coming from a huge victory just weeks before Super Nationals, Star Performance Centre aimed at defending their title as champions and silencing the voices of competitors who did not believe that Star Performance Centre’s win was deserved. “We just want to prove ourselves more than anything,” says Harmon. “People think we won for stupid reasons in the past and we just want to show them that we really are good.” In their second year competing in All Star competitions, the ATJ All Stars continued to work to make the change to a different style of dance. “Studio is more traditional, with the schools, and the stage, and the curtains and everything. We do more jazz, tap and ballet, but at the All Star competitions, they focus on jazz and hip-hop,” says East senior Allison Korson, who has danced for ATJ All Stars for over a decade. “Honestly, it’s more fun. It’s way more fun. There’s more noise and excitement.” But with this increased level of excitement comes a different game to play. The ATJ All Stars had to make changes to their competitive program. Coach Morgan Heflin took on the team in 2008, in order to help the dancers use their prior training to be competitive in the All Star circuit. “Hip-hop was a challenge as many of the girls had never performed this genre of dance before,” says Heflin. “We’ve had to develop our own “style” of hip-hop that everyone on the team looked good doing and felt comfortable with. Although we lack experience, the girls are great performers, which really benefits us in the hip hop division.” Along with learning a different dance style, the ATJ All Stars had to develop a new brand of performance. “There are a lot of different things that the judges look for. At All Star, they look for a team dance, team tricks and you’re all supposed to be together…All Star is more the whole picture and it’s not each dancer as an individual,” Korson says. “All Star has more pressure. “ This transition between competition styles was not easy. Korson and her

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teammates, some of whom had been competing in the studio style for over 10 years, were forced to think about dance in a new way. “I was skeptical at first about the whole All Star thing since I had always competed at studio competitions,” says East junior Meg Melotti, Korson’s ATJ teammate and a first-year member of the East team. “I definitely miss some aspects of the studio competitions like the real “out there” contemporary styles. But after being introduced to the All Star world, I would prefer it because of the harder competition and the ability to go to Worlds.” The common denominator for each of these teams is the desire to win not only their divisions and the title of Grand Champion, the award given to the team with the highest score for the entire competition, but to obtain partial paid bids to Worlds in April. “[All Star competitions are] more intense and you have Worlds to look forward to,” says Korson. “Your goal is a bid to get to Worlds in Florida.” Though they had already received a partial bid for hip-hop at an earlier competition, the Star Performance Centre senior pom team felt the heat to perform. Pom, a style in which poms must be used for at least 80 percent of the routine, according to the USASF, requires dancers to be extremely precise while putting on an entertaining performance. “For pom, our main goal was a partial bid,” says Harmon. “We wanted a bid so bad.” The unique two-day structure of Jamfest Dance Super Nationals can work to benefit or hurt a team’s final result. “You see your standings the day before and you’ll know the next day that you can try even harder and still change your spot. You don’t have just one shot to do it,” says East senior Jenny Brace, who dances for Star Performance Centre’s jazz and pom teams and danced for the East team for two years. “You could be winning, and the next day you could be losing. Last year, we were in second place and we ended up winning. You never know what’s going to happen. I think that keeps you on your toes.” To survive the two-day ordeal that is Jamfest, the dancers increased the

The Star Performance Centre large senior jazz team performs at Jamfest Dance Super Nationals.

intensity and frequency of their practices. “We practiced more,” says Brace of her jazz team. “We did three more hours on Wednesday, [and] we never do that.” These dancers make a commitment to themselves, their teammates and their coaches long before the season begins. Henry feels that the main sacrifice she has had to make to dance at this level is “energy and time,” as the dancers practice up to four days a week, often for four or more hours. “Dancing requires a lot of time and dedication,” she says. “It [has] also taken away the time I have for a job and my school work.” East junior Danielle Favors, Henry’s teammate at Midwest and at school, agrees that dancers must work to balance their responsibility to their teams with their responsibilities at school. “Sometimes I have to stay up late because I have practice and I have to study for a big test,” she says. Some must choose between competitive dance and other activities. Melotti and East junior Summer Lippert, a member of the East dance team, made the decision to give up volleyball in order to pursue dance. “Coming from playing volleyball when I was very little and quitting for dance not too long ago was very different and hard at first,” says Lippert, who dances for Midwest. Melotti felt that she had no other option but to decide between her two loves. “The biggest sacrifice I have made for dance is quitting volleyball, my other passion. The older I got, the harder it was to juggle both timeconsuming sports,” she says. “The reason why I tried out for the East dance team was because I quit East volleyball this year and felt like I still needed to be involved in some extracurricular activity for my school.” The decision to try out for and perform with the East team gives dancers the unique opportunity to dance alongside of their competitors from rival teams, which Henry said was her main motivation for auditioning. Occasionally, practicing with rivals can create issues for the athletes while

they are at practice. “Sometimes there is tension between the girls on East’s dance team right before and after competitions,” says Melotti. “But overall, it is fun since we have always been friends.” Favors agrees that the team works to avoid problems by “respecting each other as people and as dancers.” Becoming a member of the East team also allows dancers the chance to experience the choreography and teaching style of someone other than their home studio’s coach. “Being coached by the [coach of a] competing studio doesn’t really bother me,” says Lippert of East Coach Amy Goldberg, owner and coach at Star Performance Centre. “It is about East dance team only, and she shows that in a very good way.” Goldberg views the East team as a venue for dancers to have fun. Her dancers at East focus on performing instead of winning trophies. “The dancers who compete all the time use the high school team as a place to not be as serious,” she says. Boling feels that dancing for school and for studios gives her dancers the chance to learn about healthy competition, and to grow and develop as people and as athletes. “I love it. They’re friends,” says Boling. “I don’t have a problem. I think it’s great. I’m one for sportsmanship across the board.” Boling feels that the close contact the East dancers have with each other should not create problems when they face off in competition. “If they beat us, they beat us. We do our thing, they do their thing. If we lose, we lose,” she says. “Everyone wants to win. It’s a pride thing. It’s a friendly competition. I think parents make it worse than the kids do. I think our parents and the other teams’ parents bring the drama. Everybody’s like, ‘My team’s the shit,’ and at the end of the day, we’ll do us, they’ll do them. Because none of us are bad. [SPC] has a great team, we have a great team [and] ATJ has a great team.” n

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Caputo launches off the jump before the 30 foot flat box. He focuses on keeping his skis shoulder width apart and his body in an athletic posture.




interview and photos weston neal

East senior John Caputo dedicates much of his winter to perfecting his skiing at Perfect North in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. When and where did you start skiing? Pats Peak in New Hampshire when I was four years old. How many tricks can you do this year? I’ve cleaned every single rail at least once except for the S-rail. I can front side 270 out of every rail that I have cleaned. Some I can do 450’s out of. What are the steps to a jump? Make sure you get the right amount of speed. Definitely a speed check before you try any tricks. Just straight air to make sure you are feeling good and you’re leaning forward, and you’re going with how the jump is throwing you and it’s not putting you back seat, or you’re not falling too far forward. Just need to spread your legs and bend your knees and pop off the jump. Do a little hop, and it will set you perfectly into the landing. When grinding on a rail, how do you position your skis? Skis are shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance. I’m bending my knees, trying to keep my skis flat on the rail or box and completely perpendicular from the direction I’m sliding to make it so I stay straight on it and it’s not going to turn me off to one side if my skis aren’t exactly perpendicular. What is your favorite rail? It used to be the roller coaster [a rail that rises, dips, then rises again] but the handrail has been turning into my favorite rail because it requires more skill to balance on a one-inch pipe. The feeling after you clean the handrail is much better than the roller coaster. Have you gotten hurt on a rail before? What happened? Last year, there was an upward-sloped box a foot wide, and I was coming off the end and definitely didn’t have enough speed. I just fell on my side, and I think it was my pole, but something must have got underneath my ribs, or I fell really hard on my ribs and lower body and ruptured my spleen. What are poles used for? Do you always use them? I use my poles all the time. I can’t go without poles. I know that the poles are not really there for much balance. I just need something to have my hands on. I use them to get speed, to get through lift lines, to get anywhere because I don’t like to skate. How important is balance? 100 percent. Completely skiing. Just knowing the feel of sliding across the snow when you’re turning. Knowing what each rail feels like and how each of them are different. Which ones are sticky, balancing so you don’t fall forwards or backwards or to the sides so you don’t do something you didn’t mean to do or get yourself hurt.

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Does it hurt when you fall? Some days when it is hard or icy it does, or if you land on your pole. But most of the time if you’re just falling on your side or back you don’t feel much pain. How do you conquer your fear of trying new things? Mostly when little kids are doing it. It makes me feel like I should be doing it or if some little kid does something that I can’t do, it will make me want to do it and not be showed up by little kids. Are your boots an important part of your gear? Boots are the most important. If you have nice boots, your feet won’t hurt, you won’t get shin bang at the end of the day. Shin bang happens right above the front of your ankle, maybe like four or five inches up. When you land too hard, your boot will press up against the front of your shin and it just causes a bruise and it can just keep bruising and getting worse and worse and worse from so many times. Having good flex points helps with your tricks. Having a freestyle boot that’s just lighter makes everything easier. How do the clothes you wear help you ski better? Gotta be comfortable. Loose clothing, really baggy stuff that doesn’t restrict your movements or anything. Things without hoods are also good because then when you are riding switch, your hood won’t blow up into your face where you can’t see. What you wear can help you or hurt you. Hoods are bad. Tight clothes are not good unless you’re good with dealing with that. Baggy stuff is where it’s at. Does your equipment require a lot of maintenance? I wax my skis every four days I ski, which would be every single Tuesday night before I go on Wednesday.

Is there a technique to waxing? There are so many different ways you can wax your skis. Different guys put it on differently. Some just rub it on then melt it. Some rub the stick of wax onto the iron then straight onto the base of the ski. I just put it straight onto the iron and move it around in different sequences. There are different kinds of wax for different temperatures of snow. There’s different ways to pull the iron and scraper depending on if you are a racer or a park skier. Is it a messy process? You can put on less wax and it will be less of a mess, but you gotta make sure you cover the full ski and then when you are scraping it off, it gets on the floor and then you step on it. It’s pretty hard to get off the floor. You would have to go and scrape it off the floor. You can’t vacuum it up. The only way I can vacuum it up is if it’s in the shavings. But if you step on it, it’s in the ground. So it can be very messy. What is the coolest thing that has ever happened to you skiing? Skiing with Traveling Circus when they came through, which is the Line sponsored riders which is one of the big names in freestyle skiing companies that make skis. They have two cars and they put all their belongings in these two cars and they just drive across the country going to different ski places making ski edits along the way. Just promoting their products and getting better at skiing. Skiing with their riders was pretty cool, hanging out and talking with them.

Although Caputo does not favor jumps, he still spends about 30 percent of his time on them.

How does skiing affect your life off the slopes? I don’t watch TV much. I can’t remember the last full show I watched on TV. I normally just come home and get on and watch ski edits. It’s what I do at school when I’m sitting in front of a computer and don’t have anything to do. Skiing is very important in my life. What influences your skiing the most? Just getting away from everything else. I don’t have to deal with people. I don’t have to listen to anyone when I ski. I just go skiing and my parents know I’m going to come back at the end of the day. They know where I am, and I can just do what I want. I think it’s just the freedom to be able to do what you want that I like so much. No one is making you do anything. You don’t have to go do a sprint if you mess up. The sport is completely on you, on your progression, on how fast you’re learning and how good you get. It’s all on you. n

A rubber band is used to keep the brakes on the skis from interfering with the scraper used during waxing.

Caputo uses the scraper to remove excess fresh wax.

The handrail, a one-inch wide pipe, requires precise balance and control.

39 | Spark | March 17, 2010

lifestyle | feature


story liv devitt photo caroline tompkins

The vegetarian population of adults in America has grown to three percent, but only one percent of American adults are vegan. Although they share similar values, these two animal-friendly lifestyles are distinctively classified as two different diets. ast sophomore Gayathri Veeraraghavan is a normal teenager. She sees movies with her friends on the weekends, has sleepovers and texts constantly. My Sister’s Keeper is her favorite movie. She listens to music; her favorite band is Green Day. She spends a majority of her day after school studying and completing homework assignments. Honors anatomy is a pain, but she studies relentlessly and maintains an A. She looks forward to getting her driver’s license and having the independence that comes with driving. There is one main difference, however, between Veeraraghavan and her friends. She cannot go to a fast food restaurant and leisurely order her food. She cannot go to a friend’s house and simply assume she will be able to eat what the family is having for dinner. Most of the time, she eats before going to a friend’s house, and at restaurants, she asks if there are hidden animal products in the dish. Veeraraghavan is a vegetarian. Veganism and vegetarianism are more than eating habits; they are lifestyles. While neither vegetarians nor vegans eat meat, the two groups have distinct differences. “The main difference between [vegetarian and vegan],” says consultant dietitian Lisa Andrews, “is the consumption of eggs, dairy products and possibly fish.” Vegetarians do not eat meat but, depending on the classification, can eat dairy and/or eggs. “Lacto-vegetarians will eat no eggs or meat but will have dairy,” says Ohio State University Medical Center clinical dietitian Liz Weinandy. “An ovo-vegetarian will eat eggs but no meat or dairy.” Lacto-ovo-vegetarians do not eat any meat or fish but eat dairy and eggs. This, according to Weinandy, is the most common type of vegetarian. A pescatarian is one who does not eat meat but may eat fish. While vegetarians can eat dairy and/or eggs, vegans abstain completely from animal by-products and items made from animals. “Vegans eat only non-animal foods and products,” says Weinandy. “Many vegans don’t even eat honey because it comes from a bee.”


40 | Spark | March 17, 2010

A typical day’s meals for vegans and vegetarians are somewhat similar. Both vegetarian and vegan diets focus on eating fruits and vegetables but are different because of dairy and eggs. Breakfast for a vegan could consist of oatmeal with soy milk, blueberries and walnuts. A vegetarian could have an omelet with peppers, mushrooms and cheese. Lunch for a vegan could be a salad with fruit and lentils. A vegetarian could have a veggie burger with lettuce and cheese. For a vegan, dinner could consist of stir fry with tofu and mixed vegetables. A vegetarian could eat a bean burrito with lettuce, salsa, cheese and tomatoes. For a snack, a vegan could choose pita chips and hummus while a vegetarian could have a smoothie made with milk, bananas and mixed berries. According to Andrews, vegetarian diets are normally higher in fat than vegan diets because of the fat in animal by-products. Vegan diets are plantbased and are therefore lower in protein and calories than vegetarian diets. “Protein can come from a number of plant sources including beans, lentils and nuts,” says Weinandy. “One of the best sources is soybeans since it is a complete protein source and similar to the protein in meat and eggs.” Vegans cannot consume dairy, but there are a variety of soy-based products that can replace cheese, milk and yogurt. Soy is versatile because it comes in many different forms such as tofu, miso, whole soybeans and texturized vegetable protein. Soy products can be substituted for dairy by-products, but many of these products lack some of the nutrients and protein found in animal products. Vegans and vegetarians can also obtain protein through legumes. Legumes include soy, tempeh and dried beans. Tempeh is a high-protein food of Indonesian origin made from partially cooked, fermented soybeans. Some religions, such as Hinduism, Jainism and Rastafarianism believe in living a vegetarian lifestyle and receive their protein through legumes. Veeraraghavan is Hindu.


Because of her religion, Veeraraghavan has been a vegetarian since eats cheese occasionally. She eats one vegan meal every day, varying from birth. She is now accustomed to the daily regimen of not eating meat and tofu-based dishes to burritos. obtains her protein through lentils, dairy, nuts and peanut butter. “It’s hard for me to go completely vegan right now,” says Howard. “My “My parents cook almost every night and they make Indian meals that parents have me make my own food, and I don’t always have time to make provide protein,” says Veeraraghavan. [vegan] food with enough protein and nutrients while balancing school and While not everyone of the religion is vegetarian, many Hindus are for my job. If it was up to me, I would be completely vegan right now.” three reasons: the principle of nonviolence applied to animals; the intention She hopes to be completely vegan after college. to offer vegetarian food to a deity and later receive the food back; and “It will be easy for me to be vegan when I live on my own and can support the conviction that non-vegetarian food is detrimental for the mind and myself,” says Howard. “When I have the time to be the one doing the spiritual development. grocery shopping and making my own meals, I can control what products I Others become vegetarian or vegan for personal reasons that can buy and make. By eating my one vegan meal a day, I’m slowly transitioning include health or personal morals. myself into becoming a vegan later in life.” “I have worked with a handful of vegetarian individuals,” says Andrews. While Howard did not switch to this diet to gain more energy, she “Some were training for marathons and others were just trying to lose claims to feel more energized and rested. weight.” “I feel healthier but did not do this for myself,” says Howard. “I care so Whatever the case may be for turning vegetarian or vegan, the need for much about the animals and want to do whatever I can to support them.” good nutrition remains. Weinandy feels that being a vegan or vegetarian does not necessarily Other than legumes, nutrients and protein can also be obtained through mean one is living a healthier lifestyle. vitamins and supplements. “There are so many factors that go into having a healthy lifestyle other “Vegan diets are much more restrictive [than vegetarian diets],” says than just eating meat or not,” says Weinandy. “To say one is vegetarian or Andrews. “[So] a total vegan would need to take a daily multi-vitamin that vegan does not necessarily mean that person eats healthier.” contained B12 and iron, calcium and vitamin D.” While vegans and vegetarians do tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, Not all vegetarians or vegans, however, take supplements. they still need to maintain a balanced diet. Andrews said replacing meat and Veeraraghavan, for example, does not take any supplements for protein dairy with junk food does not make a vegan or vegetarian diet healthier. and relies solely on her diet to get “Any diet can have negative “To say one is vegetarian or vegan does not aspects if it doesn’t include a wide adequate nutrients. “I still get my protein without the necessarily mean that person eats healthier.” array of nutrients and protein,” says extra supplements and pills,” says Weinandy. Veeraraghavan, “and I feel like I am still living a healthier lifestyle than if I Despite the potential negative aspects of vegetarianism and veganism, ate meat.” many Americans have chosen the meat-free lifestyle. The Vegetarian Rather than not eating meat for a healthier diet, some choose vegetarian Resource group along with Harris Interactive found that in 2009, only one or vegan diets for personal reasons. Saint Ursula Academy senior Erika percent of Americans are vegan and most vegans are female. The poll also Howard became a vegetarian during her sophomore year. states that three percent of American adults are vegetarian. At East, 78 “I became a vegetarian because I can’t stand animal abuse,” says percent of students know a vegan or vegetarian. Howard. “There is so much animal abuse when the farmers raise the Although there has been recent growth in diet changes, animal-free animals only to be eaten, and I cannot stand the thought of supporting that lifestyles may not be right for everyone. by eating meat and dairy.” “There is too much of a difference from being a vegetarian to vegan,” Howard is transitioning to veganism. She abstains from milk and only says Veeraraghavan. “I will never be able to give up cheese!” n

41 | Spark | March 17, 2010

lifestyle | interesting vegetables

pimp your soybean Many perceive tofu as tasteless and unappetizing, but this soybean product can be used in various types of foods and diets.

Sesame Roaster Maple Tofu Eatingwell | September 2007

1 14-ounce block extra-firm water-packed tofu. 1 medium red onion, sliced 2 teaspoons canola oil 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon freshly ground powder 1 tablespoon tahini* 1 tablespoon soy sauce 2 teaspoon pure maple syrup 1 teaspoon cider vinegar 3 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed 1 tablespoon sesame seeds Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse, pat dry and cut the tofu into one-inch cubes. Toss tofu, onions, canola oil, sesame oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tofu is lightly golden on top and the onions are browning in places. Whisk the tahini, soy sauce, maple syrup and vinegar in a small dish until combined. Remove tofu from the oven, add snap peas and drizzle with the sauce. Stir to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and return to the oven. Continue roasting until the peas are tender, eight to 12 minutes. *Tahini is a smooth, thick paste made from ground sesame seeds that can be found in the Middle Eastern section in grocery stores.

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story victoria reick-mitrisin photos caroline tompkins


eople around the world can be found to use soy beans as a complement in flavor and nutritious dishes. Eastern Asian countries enjoy tofu, or soybean curd, as a staple in everyday diet to enhance anything from a stir-fry to a smoothie. This versatile food has been adapted into the recipes of Europe and America, but it had its roots in the savory dishes of ancient China, though the specific dynasty it was discovered under is unknown. Tofu is widely popular in these areas since it is inexpensive and it is crammed with minerals, such as iron and magnesium, and protein—nutrients that are essential for metabolic activities in the body. General Manager for the Hong Kong division of Vtech—a children’s toy company—Alex Choi, has eaten tofu throughout his life in both America and Asia and says that tofu is a healthy and delicious part of most Chinese dishes. “We eat tofu along with meat, fish and vegetables usually,” says Choi. “It is a common misconception that we replace meat with tofu.” As in China, tofu can be utilized for a variety of different recipes in the American diet, averaging a calorie count of 88 and 10 grams of protein in one half cup of firm tofu. “[Tofu’s] vitamin content is not great,” says Tracy Anderson, a licensed nutritionist who owns Lifestyle Fitness and Nutrition, a fitness clinic in West Chester. “But it does have a lot of minerals.” West Chester resident Purnima Doshi often experiments with tofu and has found that quality tofu can be found at local grocery stores. “[Tofu] is [cheaply] priced, it’s nutritious and it’s very light on your stomach,” says Doshi. Tofu can be classified into hard and firm -- which are used in stir fries and grilled foods -- and soft -- which is used in gelatin-like desserts and drinks. These classifications are crucial in following a recipe. Tofu can be further classified with the method in which it is made. All tofu is coagulated. Coagulation is a process in which the soymilk is condensed into a cheese-like substanc, requiring either salt or acids, such as glucono delta-lactone, to be used. If the tofu is made from salts containing calcium or magnesium, it has a greater nutritional value. Tofu can be fried, grilled, blended or gelled to concoct a dish that contains all eight of the essential amino acids that the body needs on a daily basis. According to Anderson, the foods high protein content should not misguide those that commonly eat tofu into believing that it is as healthy as it may seem. “One food is not going to make a change in the overall impact [in one’s health],” says Anderson. “Just like with anything healthy, it depends on what you add to it.” People should pay attention to the amount of fat and sugar that recipes require when cooking with tofu. Whether in a gelatinous dessert or a flavorful drink, tofu has found a way into enhancing many diets. n

Cheese Mozzarella is the most common cheese used on pizzas. Wellmelted cheese should be soft and stringy, but still chewy.

Crust Topping Sauce Tomatoes, water and spices comprise the pizza sauce. It drives the flavor of the pizza and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

This is the most customizeable part of the pizza. Whether it is pepperoni or pineapple, cheese or chicken, the topping should look and taste exciting.

There are many types of pizza crusts. Nevertheless, a good crust should be crispy on the outside, neutral or subtle in flavor and easily chewable.


oven from the

Pizza! Created in Greece and perfected in Italy, it’s America’s favorite dish. After Americans first tasted it during World War II, the love that followed was inevitable. Now, Spark explores local pizzerias to get a taste of what captured the world’s appetite.

43 | Spark | March 17, 2010


Picking the

The Methods Pizza is not the daintiest food. East students find unique ways to manage the mess.

infographic heidi yang

Spark used six judges to blind-sample cheese and specialty pizzas from six local pizzerias. Each pizza was scored based on toppings, crust, aesthetics and flavor to determine the best pizza in West Chester. And here are the average scores.



The Cheese Pizzas Whether it is chocolate covered sprinkles or anchovies as the topping, cheese has always been a constant throughout the evolution of pizza. Spark goes back to the basics, tasting the best cheese pizzas of West Chester.

The Amounts Everyone loves pizza, but how much do East students eat per sitting to show the love?


e or




score 7.071

1 slice

es slic

It’s like the “Lucky Charms” of pizza. “Magically delicious.” Faiz Siddiqui, East junior


% 17


18 %

es 4 slic



5% new york fold

28% 3

12% crust-less

1% crust first

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500 East students surveyed.


500 East students surveyed.

5% of East has spent $50-60 at one time for pizza.

63% of East has spent $10-30 at one time for pizza.

score 6.714

score 6.357

s slice

score 6.000

The sweetness of the sauce just lingers in your mouth for an overall heavenly experience. Katrina Echternacht, East senior

The crust tastes great with garlic and has a crunchy texture to better bring out the flavor. Mason Hood, East junior

Nice and crusty on the oustide, smooth and doughy on the inside. Miss Elifrits, East Latin teacher 6% of East has spent $70+ at one time for pizza.

score 6.000

26% of East has spent $3050 at one time for pizza.

Very tasty when you find sauce, but it gets lost between all the cheese and crust. Erika Andler, East junior

Although the spices are fresh, the bland cheese and tangy crust leave a terrible aftertaste. Caroline Tompkins, East senior

score 5.357

The Breakdown Donatos’ Banana Pepper and Pepperoni All of the toppings were very cohesive and were flavored well; together, they were a good mixture of spice and normalcy. Hannah Berling, East sophomore 8.000 7.143 7.714 8.143 7.786

Bruno’s White Chicken Alfredo Cheeses go together nicely, chicken was a good flavor. The alfredo sauce was amazing and onions weren’t overpowering. Ariadne Souroutzidis, East junior

8.857 8.429 7.429 9.286 9.000

toppings crust aesthetics flavor overall

toppings crust aesthetics flavor overall

Dewey’s Southwest Barbeque Chicken I usually dislike barbeque pizza, but this was excellent. The chicken has great texture. The corn adds just the sweet burst it needed. The combination of flavors is unexpectedly fantastic. Anna Hartman, East senior 9.000 9.000 9.857 9.500 9.071

toppings crust aesthetics flavor overall

Jet’s All Meaty Very full, nice combo of shapes with round pepperoni and rectangular ham, but it’s too meaty. I want more saucy zest. Anna Hartman, East senior 7.929 9.143 7.571 8.500 7.714

toppings crust aesthetics flavor overall

LaRosa’s Meatlover’s

Raymond’s Grandpa Combo Toppings went together well, except that the sausage wasn’t tasty and the cheese tasted funny. Ariadne Souroutzidis, East junior

8.571 7.143 7.857 7.286 7.286

toppings crust aesthetics flavor overall

It had a weird mix of flavors and “okay” crust. The crust was short at the end and kind of thin. Ashley Wolsefer, East junior 7.000 6.714 8.643 6.571 6.857

toppings crust aesthetics flavor overall

45 | Spark | March 17, 2010

entertainment | playlist

Spark Playlist: Sarah Fanning Every issue, a member of the Spark staff is chosen to create a playlist that showcases a selection of the music that he or she has been enjoying as of late. “Glitter in the Air” Pink This song was performed at the Grammys, with good reason. Accompanied by only a piano, Pink’s powerful voice is showcased beautifully. “Let it Loose” Wale ft. Pharell With the pop presence of Pharell, the pounding techno background and Wale’s witty old-school, rap-inspired lyrics, “Let It Loose” appeals to fans of all genres. “Uptown” Drake New Young Money superstar Drake shows his potential in this track off his EP So Far Gone. The lyrics are well thought out and delivered. “One Love” Trey Songz Trey Songz’ voice is sultry and strong on “One Love.” He has finally grown up, and this song shows he is going to be an R&B powerhouse for a long time. “Lemonade” Gucci Mane Although “Lemonade” seems to be a list of what Gucci Mane has done and bought when life gave him lemons, the piano trills and resounding bass make it a surefire hit. “Dental Care” Owl City Owl City became a national phenomenon thanks to its bubbly electronic style. “Dental Care” magically turns a dreaded ritual into a whimsical song with puns.

46 | Spark | March 17, 2010

“Edge of Desire” John Mayer John Mayer’s soulful voice sounds perfect on this track. This song is calm and soothing, yet filled with emotion and honesty.

“Hot Revolver” Lil Wayne ft. Dre Off of Lil Wayne’s rock album Rebirth, “Hot Revolver” stands out from the rest of the tracks on the album and highlights Weezy’s versatility. “America’s Suitehearts (Remix)” Fall Out Boy ft. Lil Wayne Pete Wentz sounds spectacular on this track, and Lil Wayne’s added verses blend seamlessly. Considering this song and its album, it is a shame Fall Out Boy broke up. “Carry Out” Timbaland and Justin Timberlake This metaphoric song is fun and playful with a techno-like beat. It will remain stuck in your head long after the final verse has ended. “Good Life” One Republic One Republic’s frontman Ryan Tedder delivers an uplifting pop tune in “Good Life.” It preaches that even when things go wrong, life really is good. “Sky Might Fall” Kid Cudi Cleveland-born rapper Kid Cudi brings a twist to the sound of rap. He infuses a new wave and electronic sound with his smooth, mellow vocals. “Kiss ‘N’ Tell” Ke$ha “Kiss ‘N’ Tell” tells the tale of Ke$ha getting revenge on a cheating boyfriend in an upbeat way. Ke$ha’s powerful attitude and the pumping beat make this song work.

Mardi Gras Madness After Prom May 23, 2010 12 a.m. - 4 a.m. Tickets $15/person Lakota East PTSO

entertainment | reviews

The Music This Addiction

by Alkaline Trio Epitaph/Heart & Skull Records

Teen Dreams

by Beach House Hostess Japan/Zoom


by Lil Wayne Cash Money Records

American VI: Ain’t No Grave by Johnny Cash Lost Highway

Way Out Here

by Josh Thompson Sony

Tapestry of Webs by Past Lives Suicide Squeeze

this addiction – alkaline trio Alkaline Trio’s latest and first independentlyreleased album, This Addiction, shows that they will not let their mainstream success compromise their style. After their 2008 album, Agony & Irony, peaked at 13 on the Billboard charts, many of Alkaline Trio’s fans feared the band would sell out on their next album. This Addiction’s jovial instrumentals compliment its morbid lyrics surprisingly well. This juxtaposition is appealing because of the silky delivery by lead singer Matt Skiba whose voice emphasizes the brutal cynicism of the lines. In an interview with about the inspiration for the album, Skiba said he wanted to “record [the tracks] lickety-split.” For songs that were rushed, they are surprisingly complete. The melodic,

casual sound for which Alkaline Trio has become famous is prevalent on this album. None of the tracks necessarily stand apart from the others, because they are all very strong. Powerful anthems such as “Dorothy” and “Dead on the Floor” exemplify how Alkaline Trio has perfected the formula for a rhythmic, repetitive, cynical ballad. This Addiction follows in the footsteps of Agony & Irony, not just in style, but also in that it seems to be poised for success on the same level. This talented trio from Illinois has proven that they do not need to rely on major labels or genre-stereotypes to generate or maintain a fan base. While more originality and variety on each track would be appreciated, This Addiction is still an album that many fans of the band and genre will crave. – Kyle Morrison «««««

teen dream – beach house Imagine the two most annoying art school kids you can think of. They wear those corny thickrimmed glasses because they think it makes them look intellectual. If they aren’t wearing plaid, they have some kind of Andy Warhol-esque getup on. They sit in Starbucks with their Macbooks and argue the merits of Trotskyism versus Stalinism, sipping on five-dollar caramel lattes. Patti Smith is their idol, and they think Ayn Rand should be anointed a saint. These two kids are Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand of Beach House, and their third album, Teen Dream, is mired in an atmosphere of pretentiousness that is, to use a phrase coined by Bob Dylan, “vomitific.” Their fans call their mix of reverb-laden guitar and keyboard-layering “dream pop,” but this disc is more like a nightmare. Legrand’s vocals consist mostly of “oohs” and “aahs,” but when the French-born singer does say actual words, they are sad ones. They are contrasted against the happy melodies and lush pop that have

48 | Spark | March 17, 2010

made the band famous. But this has been done time and time again. It’s a tired juxtaposition, and it’s probably time to move on to another idea that everyone can copy. The cheap, choppy drum machine that backs up most of the tracks brings Joy Division to mind, and that’s the problem. The masses should be tired of sad pop music by now. “How much longer can you play with fire before you turn into a light,” sings Legrand at one point. How much longer will we have to listen to the same record over and over before we spontaneously combust? Teen Dream will no doubt be added to those art kids’ iPods. They will jam to it in their Toyota Priuses while they drive to their lofts in the middle of the city. It will play quietly in the background while they lounge on their pseudo-Swedish furniture that was probably constructed by an eight-year-old South American child making less than a dollar a week. They will listen and marvel at this music and consider it a work of art. But it isn’t art. It’s just annoying. – Tyler Kieslich «««««

rebirth – lil wayne

Lil Wayne’s most recent album, Rebirth, comes as a disappointment to his loyal fans. The album features Wayne singing with the help of autotune and rapping to rock music. His last album, Tha Carter III, was a huge success, selling a record-breaking 1.5 million copies in the first week, whereas Rebirth sold only 175,000. Lil Wayne’s new style is not popular with his fans because it is a completely different genre of music. The hybrid of rap and rock that Lil Wayne creates with Rebirth has not been attempted before, and frankly, it does not work. The loud guitar and drums do not go well with the rapper’s auto-tuned voice. Although not what Wayne is known for, his rock sound comes off decent on some tracks. “Drop the World” featuring Eminem, “One

Way Trip” featuring Kevin Rudolf and “Knockout” featuring Nicki Minaj are the three best songs on the album. The guest appearances add to the songs and make them stand out from the rest of the album. Wayne’s rap verses on the album are good, but when he “sings” with the help of autotune, it sounds weird and unnatural. He should have had more guest artists who can actually sing so listeners don’t have to endure his singing voice. Rebirth is different from anything Lil Wayne has ever attempted. Some of the album is good, but for the most part his style doesn’t mix well with rock. Fans of Lil Wayne’s rap music shouldn’t get too discouraged; Lil Wayne still plans to make the rap music that we have come to love him for. – Jeff Cargill «««««

american vi: ain’t no grave – johnny cash In this area where country music is scoffed at, and in an era when country music is filled with slick Nashville production values but little substance, Johnny Cash remains the exception to the norm. American VI: Ain’t No Grave is Cash’s sixth and final album in the American Recordings series and features the final recordings Cash made before his death in 2003. Even though these tracks were recorded before Cash’s death, they possess a fire and passion most modern country stars could only dream of having. American VI: Ain’t No Grave begins with the album’s namesake “Ain’t No Grave,” which, although it was originally recorded as a gospel piece by a preacher, becomes a weathered old outlaw’s defiant cry as he marches through a dusty western town, proclaiming “When you hear that trumpet sound/Gonna get up out of the ground/There

ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.” Cash continues through his noble trek through the rest of the album with minimal instrumentals that emphasize the power of Cash’s voice and evoke images of a lone cowboy going on his final ride into the sunset. Finally, the album concludes with Lili’uokalani’s famous Hawaiian farewell song “Aloha Oe.” It initially seems like an odd choice for this country singer; Cash’s rich baritone incanting, “One fond embrace/A ho’i a’e au/Until we meet again” seems like a strange note to end his music career, but upon closer listen, it is clearly both a goodbye to the world and a promise to reunite with his wife. And it is loving, strong and powerful, just like Cash himself. American VI: Ain’t No Grave is too morbid or serious for the average teenage listener, but it should still be appreciated as an American legend’s final words. – Victoria Liang «««««

way out here – josh thompson Way Out Here is a solid country album that is a pleasure to hear. The surprise is that Josh Thompson is from Wisconsin and that this is his debut album. Josh Thompson has a strong, gorgeous voice and a knack for song-writing. After arriving in Nashville to start his music career, he wrote “Growing Up Is Getting Old” for Jason Michael Carroll. Thompson’s lyrics exemplify the themes loved by country music culture: working hard, partying harder, appreciating family and community and enjoying the small things in life. The hooks on Way Out Here are a joy as well. So many of the songs on this album are catchy and ripe for singing along. “Beer On the Table” demonstrates this characteristic perfectly. The chorus of “Gas in my truck/butter on my biscuits” can’t be shaken from memory.

The best part of Josh Thompson’s debut is his laidback, fun attitude throughout the songs. He sounds easygoing, like he’s having a great time. The title track “Way Out Here” shows this relaxed sound well—Thompson sounds so comfortable, so not forced, which is unexpected from a first album. Since this is a country album, after all, there are some slower ballads. They’re good, but not great, though that could be simply a matter of preference. In any case, Thompson has years ahead of him to fine-tune his slower ballads. Even if one’s list of favorite music is “everything…except country,” this album is a good bet. Way Out Here is everything a country album should be—thoughtful, fun and confident. If thinking of foraying into this genre, try this Wisconsin-bred talent. –Amanda Kaine «««««

tapestry of webs – past lives The humming bass, grinding guitar, screaming saxophone and pounding drums of Past Lives blends perfectly for their debut album Tapestry of Webs. However, the truly memorable element is the hypnotic vocals of lead singer Jordan Blilie. Tight with emotion, Blilie’s voice ranges from low rasps to soul-shattering screams. The trippy instrumental combination with the erratic vocals makes Tapestry of Webs truly shine. Past Lives can truly be defined as an experimental band. Although they are labeled as post-punk, their songs span over a wide mix of genres, from poppish sounding in “Vanishing Twin” to the posthardcore cries of “K-Hole” and the funky touch of “Hex Takes Hold.” Every song is distinct, but what unites all the tracks is the

distinctively gritty sound that makes them instantly identifiable. Past Lives does not wallow in cliché songs about past girlfriends or a difficult life, but rather strings together very vivid lyrics about abstruse topics. Trying to depict how operations can desensitize a person, Blilie sings, “The bloodstains and the ocean were hospital white/Paint your picture in hospital white/Saw your reflection in hospital white/And all the colors were hospital whit.” Past Lives starts the album with “Paralyzer,” in which Blilie croons, “she’s got you transfixed.” In retrospect, the band certainly does transfix the listener over and over again. With catchy songs, electrifying punk vibes and well-written lyrics, Tapestry of Webs is an album that deserves to be listened to on repeat. – Lisa Cai«««««

49 | Spark | March 17, 2010

entertainment | reviews

The Motio The holy trinity of twisted children’s movies—director Tim Burton and actors Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter—join forces again in Alice in Wonderland, a sequel to the original story occurring 13 years later. True to the characteristic Burton style, whimsical elements in Disney’s original version are now darker and eerier. For example, the Dormouse stabs an eye out and the Mad Hatter leads a bloody coup in, not Wonderland, but “Underland.” The plot is a mesh of the original Alice in Wonderland and the poem The Jabberwocky. It follows 19-year-old Alice as she discovers a prophecy which predicts that she will slay the Jabberwocky, a vicious beast the Red Queen uses to terrorize her subjects. All the characters initially doubt that this Alice is the Alice of the prophecy, but as she exercises her courage and wit throughout Underland, she gains the confidence to face the Jabberwocky in a final showdown. Luckily, the cliché plot is partially redeemed by a talented

cast playing dramatic and entertaining characters. Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp as the Red Queen and Mad Hatter, respectively, are hilarious and hold the movie together with their playful oddity. Unfortunately, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is easily outshined by her striking co-stars. Even Wasikowska’s beautifully designed costumes have more stage presence than the actress herself. But, Alice in Wonderland’s primary purpose was not to showcase an original plot or quality acting; it was to create a visual masterpiece. However, the movie should not have been made three dimensional so that the audience Alice in could soak up the vibrant details of the dark yet Wonderland beautiful landscapes rather than attempt to focus on a rated – PG few sluggish and unnecessary effects. length – 108 min Yet despite its flaws, Alice in Wonderland is still a IMDb ratings – 7.3 feast for the eyes that even the Red Queen can enjoy. Rottentomatoes rating – 53% —Nitya Sreevalsan Spark rating – «««««

Facebook status updates and wall posts demonstrated great anticipation for Feb. 5, the release date of chick flick Dear John. On opening weekend, the movie brought in a total of $32.4 million, knocking Avatar out of first in the recent box office rankings. The hype was expected, though somewhat undeserved, for director Lasse Hallstrom’s romantic drama. The plot shows the struggles of young lovers Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) and John (Channing Tatum) as they try to stay together after 9/11. This catastrophe sends John back into the war and Savannah on a spiraling road to heartbreak. The plot held potential and maintained a decent pace, but the character development needed improvement. With the exception of Mr. Tyree, John’s autistic father, the characters were underdeveloped. The father-son relationship has a greater impact than the commercialized romance, though Seyfried and Tatum delivered convincing performances.

After all the excitement prior to its release, one would expect Dear John to be as moving as Nicolas Sparks’ previous hit, The Notebook. However, this movie failed to measure up. When the advertisement uses the phrase “Based off the novel by Nicolas Sparks,” it means that loosely. Some characters are completely changed, along with the plot. As is usually the case when a book is transformed into a movie, the relationships are not as developed, making it less touching to viewers. The Notebook was a far better book adaptation, due, in part, to the quality of the screenwriters and director. Dear John People should not see Dear John if they read the book, dislike chick flicks or seek a feel-good film. The rated – PG-13 movie has a decent plotline and can hold audience length – 105 min interest, but it does not meet its high expectations set IMDb ratings – 5.3 by the pre-release buildup. Rottentomatoes rating – 27% —Lauren Barker Spark rating – «««««

50 | Spark | March 17, 2010

n Pictures Shutter Island isn’t merely a psychological thriller; it isn’t one of those simple “love it” or “hate it” movie experiences—it’s a movie that really makes one think. Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are called to a psychiatric ward off the New England shore to find a patient who escaped. It is a facility where dangerous maniacs are subjected to unique “treatments” by the questionable Dr. Cawley and his loyal staff of physicians, nurses and heavily armed correctional officers. As they begin the investigation, the medical staff Shutter Island dodges questions and psychologists are conveniently on “vacation.” Daniels does not know where to start rated – R until a level-five hurricane hits the island, at which length – 138 min time he has easier access to the patients. Soon, he IMDb ratings – 8.2 Rottentomatoes rating – 67% questions the credibility of everyone on the island, even his previously trusted partner. This throws him Spark rating – «««««

into a whirlwind of thoughts and hallucinations. Then, the plot twists, yet it is unclear if this turn of events is real or a lie created by characters. The story is based on the ingenious book by Dennis Lehane, and the film is directed by Martin Scorsese. Although Scorsese had a tumultuous plot to work with, he enhanced the audience’s viewing pleasure with visually rich scenes on the island, beach and hospital. Dr. Cawley is played by Ben Kingsley, who adds much suspense to the film with his serious yet sinister demeanor. DiCaprio also does a phenomenal job of playing such a complex character and appearing as confused as the audience. This psychological thriller will force one to question the motives of each character, and the ending also encourages one to view the film again with more diligence. It is guaranteed to send one’s head spinning. —Sarah Craig

Named after the infamous “hallmark holiday,” Valentine’s Day depicts every situation that could possibly occur on Valentine’s Day. From spending the day alone wallowing in misery to having a disaster date, the movie explores all the ups and downs of the holiday and stories that everyone can relate to. With a star-studded cast, the movie follows the day of several different characters whose stories are all intertwined. Valentine’s Day shows love from every perspective, from a 10- year-old in love with his teacher to an old couple still in love after many years. Reed Bennett (Ashton Valentine’s Day Kutcher) starts his day by proposing to his girlfriend (Jessica Alba), only to have his heart broken. Other rated – PG-13 characters go through some sort of heartbreak during length – 125 min the day but all find happiness in the end. IMDb ratings – 5.7 Although Taylor Swift got criticism for her acting, Rottentomatoes rating – 18% she is one of the funniest characters in the movie. Spark rating –«««««

Swift is clearly mocking her fellow love-struck teenagers. This movie deals with love in a way that even guys can relate to, which is what makes the movie so funny. It also ends with several hilarious shockers. Several references to other famous movies are made throughout the film, including Julia Roberts’ quip about her last time on Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman and Taylor Lautner’s observation about his shirt always being off in New Moon. Valentine’s Day is not only funny, but also very sweet. It teaches the lesson that those who truly love another will look past their partners’ flaws and instead focus on pleasant little quirks. Whether a couple is looking for a good date movie or a group of friends are searching for a good laugh, Valentine’s Day will not disappoint. —Lucy Stephenson

51 | Spark | March 17, 2010

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7390 Liberty One Drive


sports l gyms

Finding Fitness story jeff cargill, sarah fanning, brandon kors, eric muenchen, faiz siddiqui, sarah wilkinson photos eric muenchen

With the assortment of gyms sprouting around the area, Spark decided to give some insight on the positives and negatives of each. With the influx of local health clubs springing up in the West Chester and Liberty Township area, Spark thought it would be beneficial to the students and the entire community to review four of the area’s fitness centers. The reviews show the positives, negatives and an X-factor—something that sets it apart from the rest of the gyms— of every gym that is reviewed. The panel reviewed Fitworks, LA Fitness, Urban Active and the Lakota YMCA. For many, it may be hard to choose a gym to fit their needs because there are so many choices. One of the reasons that Spark conducted this review is to help the reader with the arduous process of selecting a gym, whether looking to join a fitness center for the first time or upgrading from an old membership. Spark reviewed all of the gyms listed with a set of criteria and,a final rating was given to each fitness center. These factors include the locker rooms, machines, cleanliness, amenities offered, staff, sports offered, cost, how family needs were met, parking and

location, hours and the organization that the gyms sustained. Included in every category is a rating system in which a one is the worst and a three is the best. This is represented on the following pages with dumbbells. Dumbbells with one weight on each side received the worst rating, while those with three weights on each side receeived the best rating. Every gym review was conducted by the three Spark sports editors, the sports photographer and two staff-writers. Spark did not work out at any of the facilities. Rankings were purely based on visual observations and information provided by management and members of each gym. Lifetime Fitness, a popular health club in Mason, did not partake in this review. The panel granted each gym with a unique individual award. The rewards are used to help the reader decide on what gym is best for them. Spark did not deem a specific gym as an overall winner because each gym has qualities that make it unique.

53 | Spark | March 17, 2010

sports l gyms basketball court are two things that hurt Fitworks’ appeal to potential members. Overall, Fitworks is a good gym with nice facilities, but it lacks popular amenities.



Fitworks’ Game-On is completely unique to anything else in our area. It has an arcade-like feel with laser lights and pumping music, but the extensive variety of games that Game-On offers is powered by the user’s physical exertion and movement. Game-On features a large board that posts the ‘World Record’ in each game, so one can see where they stack up against others. The interactive environment is perfect for those that want to work out, but need motivation. This alternative work out method appeals to a variety of ages and people, but it is perfect for kids or teenagers to use. One can compete against the computer or other people in the space. Game-On is even open for birthday parties and group events. It is available to all ages, members and non-members for a varying additional fee.

When entering Fitworks members are welcomed by the front desk workers and a simple finger touch electronic entry that kindly reminds them to “have a nice workout.” From fitness buffs to the elementary age child, Fitworks has something that meets the needs of everyone. To the left, members are greeted by a multitude of circuit training machines, massage and personal training rooms, state of the art locker rooms and a tropical smoothie bar. There are elliptical machines and treadmills that overlook the entire facility and each has its own personal television. Located in the back corner is a plethora of free weights to help people bulk up or just add some definition. If members prefer working out with the entertainment of a movie, Fitworks has its very own movie theater with a different movie theme each day of the week. At your disposal is a complete staff of personal trainers. Fitworks is filled with a great environment, machines and people.




Although its exercise machines are top-of-the-line, Fitworks lacks the sport-specific training facilities that other gyms offer. As many people stay in shape by swimming and playing basketball, the lack of a pool and

$14.95 a month with no initial fee

Location: 7060 Ridgetop Drive





machines as in the other gyms. The locker rooms, which are also smaller, do not have the additional amenities such as a seating area and a private area for machines which women may not want to use in a mixed gender environment. Although LA Fitness has a great location, it only has one way in and out, which makes for a mess during rush hour.


Upon entering the modern style fitness center, it is easy to see that a workout unlike any other is about to take place. Members enter the center to see a floor filled with brand new strength training equipment such as free weights, assisted bench presses and a smith machine for squatting. But the gym’s focus is not completely equipment-based. LA Fitness boasts a full-sized pool and a hot tub that could fit a dozen people, not to mention a regulation-sized basketball court. The 90-foot long court includes a wooden floor dubbed a “floating gym” that eases tension on athletes’ calves and ankles. The second floor is filled with cardio equipment, including more treadmills and stair climbers than most of the other gyms that the panel reviewed. Members have the opportunity to catch up on their favorite television dramas on the dozen 42” flatscreen televisions that line the ceiling. LA fitness turns the seemingly never-ending aspect of a cardioworkout into a fun and productive experience. LA Fitness is a unique establishment that caters to the needs of its members, even after they join.


LA Fitness’ environment is not as welcoming and friendly as that of other gyms and personal trainers were not as readily available. LA Fitness is also smaller compared to the other gyms. There are also not as many

54 | Spark | March 17, 2010

The aquatics center at LA Fitness offers an expanded workout or source of relaxation beyond the standard gym setting. The swimming pool provides anything from a rigorous freestyle workout to a calm breast stroke cool down. However, with no lifeguard on duty, the pool area may not suit the needs of children 12 and under. The separate hot tub is an excellent addition for members looking to unwind after a long session in the gym. Offering features not available at gyms without a pool, the LA Fitness aquatics center could be the deciding factor in acquiring a membership in that it is unlike those of the other gyms.

Price: $19.95 a month


7730 Dudley Drive


Programs: Amenities: Staff:


sports l gyms



When walking into Urban Active Fitness Center, one can sense the electric environment pulsating through every machine. Little details, such as the waterfall behind the Urban Active logo in the lobby and the brick walls of the basketball court, give this gym a unique sense of youth absent in other gyms. Along with the sea of state-of-the-art lifting machines, Urban Active features a running track, basketball court and a movie theater with rows of cardio machines. Urban Active Fitness Center’s major appeal is to the younger demographic, but anyone looking for a simple workout will have all of their desires fulfilled.


Urban Active has a large family drawback because the child area is smaller and has very limited hours. The classes offered are not on the level of other gyms, and there is also not the same amount of classroom space. The lighting is very poor and made for dark workouts; almost all of the lighting is natural lighting provided by the front windows of the building. The biggest drawback to Urban Active is the start-up cost and monthly fees. The standard initial fee is $90 and the monthly fee is $19.95 Although Urban Active offers a lot, this fee is unreasonable.

Imagine running outside in gym shorts and a T-shirt during the middle of winter. Now, imagine that the outdoors are climate-controlled and one could round a track during a snowstorm without once feeling the bite of stinging winter cold. Urban Active provides its members with this luxury. Its indoor track, which includes walking and running lanes, is completely surrounded by glass windows that allow the gym’s patrons a stunning view. The side windows face East and West, meaning that early-birds can catch sunrises and evening runners can watch sunsets. Given that Urban Active is somewhat secluded from the rest of the businesses off of Union-Centre Boulevard and that the track is located on the second story of the fitness center, the gym’s construction naturally caters to panoramic views. Better yet, the windows are large enough to provide most of the fitness center with natural lighting from the sun during the day, leaving the members of Urban Active with a thoroughly natural and charming experience.


$19.95 a month with a $90 initial fee


9282 Allen Road



Programs: Amenities: Staff:

primitive and outdated. They simply lack the quality and quantity of the other gyms’ equipment. When it gets crowded, members will probably have to wait to do the exercise they want. In addition, the machines are very crowded, and one has to be cautious to make sure they are not invading their fellow members’ areas. Another factor affecting the appealing nature of the Y is the high prices for membership. For a family household, prices can escalate to more than $750 annualy. That price does not include any of the leagues offered or the babysitting available while parents are in classes or working out.


The Lakota YMCA has activities for families to do together and something that fits every member’s wants. While parents are working out, the Y has activities beside the babysitting program; the Y offers “Tiny Tots” leagues in soccer, tee ball and basketball. It also offers the opportunity for the kids to learn karate and join a swim team. For kids who are not fans of sports, the Y offers weekly art classes where children can use different artistic mediums to express themselves. For parents who want to spend more time with their children, the Indian Guide program allows for bonding while playing outside. For the casual athlete looking for a quick pick up game, the Y is the place to go. Members will never find themselves waiting on a court. Unlike LA Fitness and Urban Active, which only have two basketball hoops each, the Y has six hoops. Teenagers who are waiting around for their friends to show up can hang out in the community room. The room contains a plasma television, a ping pong table and a foosball table. For those looking to keep up with the approaching beach season, the Y offers a multi-laned pool to be used for laps or even a winter pool party. Once the snow melts on the ground, the Y’s outdoor pool will also open.


The YMCA is the oldest of the four reviewed gyms. Its machines are


The two-story rock wall located in the Y’s work out area is fun for members of all ages. The wall complements the work out facilities because it provides something beyond aerobic and weight activity. It is also enjoyable for children while their parents are participating in a different activity. The rock wall is open to anyone ages six and up and requires a signature for a medical release form in case of injury. The fact that none of the other gyms reviewed has a similar amenity sets the Y apart.

Price: Varying, starting at $42 a month


6703 Yankee Road

Machines: Programs: Amenities: Staff:


sports l inside east sports

East wrestler Grant Keller pins West wrestler Zach Deaton during the dual meet on Jan 28.

Getting a T

GRIP With two dual meet wins over state powers under its belt, the wrestling squad is establishing its prominence in the Greater Miami Conference, sending wrestlers to districts and building a promising roster.

story devin casey photos eric muenchen infographic logan schneider 56 | Spark | March 17, 2010

here is a rumble coming from the basement of East. Introduced as “the toughest men in the building” during the winter pep rally and coming off its best regular season in program history, the East Wrestling team needed to make an impression in this year’s districts to prove they are a top-level team. Nestled in the bottom corner of East, the wrestling room is light and jubilant until Varsity Head Coach Jim Lehman gives the wrestlers a speech. The mood turns serious and the athletes shift their complete attention to him. “Keep your elbows in!” Lehman shouts as he throws down 285-lb. sophomore Tim Bowman. An active participant in practices, Lehman keeps the athletes focused and committed to winning. “If you go into an event with the goal of second place, why compete?” he asks. According to Lehman, who has been with East since its doors opened, there have been changes off the mats that have led to success on the mats. “[This year] our athletes are not having issues outside of wrestling,” says Lehman, who added that in previous years varsity wrestlers improperly managed weight, let their grades slip and had other distractions outside of wrestling.

Without these distractions, Lehman noted that he has been seeing week-to-week improvement in his wrestlers. “Guys come into practice and really care about getting better,” Lehman says. With the exception of a few minor injuries, this year is also one of East’s smoothest seasons, which Lehman attributes to the wrestlers’ healthy weights and grades. “You just have to be responsible and in control of your life,” says varsity member Ryan Miller, who was named 1st-team allGreater Miami Conference (GMC) in the 130-pound weight class. Miller also leads his weight class with 13 pins in the regular season. Miller’s father, Varsity Assistant Coach Jerry Miller, also notes a difference this season. “There has been significant progress from December to now,” says Miller, who is in his fifth year with East. “The players have their weight managed so well that our heavy weights are not heavy enough,” he laughs. Tim Bowman is East’s only wrestler in the top weight class of 285 pounds. This season marks the wrestling team’s second time having two consecutive winning seasons. East also houses four athletes in the top three ranks of their weight classes, an unprecedented achievement for the Thunderhawks. Even with the top wrestlers on the team, East did close matches to state and regional powers such as Middletown and Lakota West. The Thunderhawks fell in a close match to rival West. The result was determined by two overtime decisions that ended up in the adversary’s favor. Sophomore Taft Maness and freshman Austin Daly took the losses to heart and hope to improve and succeed in next year’s rematch. Seven-year Varsity Assistant Coach Rico Hill feels that experience is vital to East’s success. He believes that it is the leading factor of East’s success this year, with a 14-5 dual record and sixth place GMC finish. “We have kids that have been wrestling for a

number of years, not just high school,” says Hill. “Even the young kids are showing experience.” Daly is one of those athletes. He finished the regular season third in the 103-pound weight class with a 17-9 record. “I have been pushed more in high school,” says Daly.

If you go into an event with the goal of second, why compete?

This extra push led him to put up a fight in a close loss to the number one seed and state place winner, Mason sophomore Ruben Victoria, in the GMC tournament. In spite of the barren bleachers at wrestling meets and overall lack of school awareness, the wrestling team is boasting a new attitude. This is due to their promising season and the induction of former East wrestler Tony Johnson into the Lakota Athletic Hall of Fame. “Wrestling is very underappreciated at this school,” says senior varsity wrestler Grant Keller, who is 20-7 with 10 pins in the 215-lbs. weight class. Disregarding the empty crowd, East had seven district qualifiers, including wrestlers who had never before advanced to the post season. This will be Keller and senior Pedro Powell’s second district appearance. It will be Miller’s third appearance. Daly, sophomores Bowman and Taylor and junior Neema Mohammadi had to wrestle out of conference opponents for the first time in the district meet. East’s varsity team is not the only East wrestling team that is earning pins en route to a historic season. Hoping to add to the future success of the Lakota East wrestling program is the Junior Varsity team, which had only one blemish all season. Its only loss came to state power Fairfield. The JV team placed second behind Fairfield at the Purcell Marian Junior Varsity

East wrestler Taft Maness grasps West wrestler Zach Deaton in the 36-25 loss to West.

Tournament, finishing the regular season with an 11-1 record. “[The coaches] have been watching a lot of growth in our young athletes,” says Lehman. The growth has translated into victory for East. The Thunderhawks placed 14th in this year’s districts, their second best finish since 2005. Keller and Powell finished fifth and earned alternate spots for the state competition. Miller and Mohammadi were knocked out in the third consolation round, but they still have one year left at East to try to advance to the state tournament. Daly also made an impact by pinning his way into the third consolation round in his innuagural districts appearance. For next season, the team has 31 returning varsity wrestlers in addition to members of the junior varsity team. “[Next year] we could place in the top three,” says Hill. “We are going to surprise the competition as people are just starting to take notice of us.” n

Format of a Wrestling Match Top


Wrestling matches consist of three two-minute periods. Wrestlers start in the neutral position and achieve points with takedowns. Takedowns are worth two points each, escapes are worth one point, reversals are worth Two points and Technical violations such as slams, locking hands and full nelsons cost one point.

The second period starts off with a coin flip by the referee. The wrestler that wins the toss may choose top or bottom position or defer. Defer means to let the opponent choose so that the first wrestler may choose the position in the third period.


Bottom During the third period, the opposite wrestler chooses the position and wrestling continues.

If the score is tied after three periods, a one-minute period of overtime is wrestled. In this period, the first takedown wins. If no takedowns occur, two, 30-second periods are wrestled. The team with the choice of the first regulation period will choose top or bottom in the first 30-second period. After the period, the opposite team has choice of top or bottom. Whichever wrestler scores the most in the two periods wins. If it remains a tie, the wrestler with the most takedowns in one match wins.

57 | Spark | March 17, 2010

sports | faces

Kerrianne Morrison - Swimming

Faces on the Field


oming off of a season in which she made the East varsity girls’ basketball team as a freshman, Aleth Pashi has taken on a larger role as a sophomore. Pashi feels like she has a lot more responsibility to the team this season. “My role has changed tremendously in the past year,” she said. “I feel like my leadership presence is more felt just from confidence and having a year of experience.” Pashi starts at point-guard for the district runner up Lady Hawks, who she believes have come a long way since last season. “Last year after a loss, it felt as a whole like it was okay to lose,” Pashi said. “This year it’s not even an option anymore.” Sophomore Ali Zieverink believes that the team depends on Pashi. “Pashi’s role is basically to lead everyone,” she said. “She has to know what is happening on the floor at all times. I could not ask for a better point guard.” Head Coach Nikki Drew has seen Pashi grow into her role over the last two years, dating back to when Drew was the girls’ assistant coach. “She is very smart, and age is never an issue when you are talking about a natural leadership ability,” Drew said. “She is invaluable when we prepare for another team. She always makes sure the team knows the game plan and has everyone ready to go.” Typically, point guards take on the role of commanding the floor, calling plays and controlling the ball. “You are an extension of the coach [at point guard],” Pashi said. “Anything that goes wrong, it is your job to fix.” Regardless of her short tenure as a varsity basketball player, Pashi will continue to gain experience at her position in the only way she can by playing. Other varsity members will continue to respect her influence. “In the position I play you have to lead no matter if you’re a freshman or a senior,” she said. —Eric Muenchen

photo courtesy of Trimble Photography

photo provided by kerrianne morrison

photo eric muenchen

Aleth Pashi - Girls’ Basketball


East athletes stand out on varsity squads

s winter and state meets draw to a close, Lakota swimmers will soon be able to jump out of the pool and have a much needed break. But for East senior Kerrianne Morrison, the rest is bittersweet. The end of the season marks a transition into college, but also the end of her eight-year competitive swimming career. Morrison has put everything she has into the program during her four years on varsity. “I’m usually at the pool from three to six every day,” Morrison said. In order to overcome her demanding schedule, Morrison has found a way to use the swimming events as a social hour. “Practicing is so hard,” she explained. “I just live to touch the wall, and then tell some jokes to my friends or make fun of my brother. It’s my kind of support group.” This social aspect has been a large part of Kerrianne’s swimming career. Competing with friends along with her younger brother Kyle, a junior on the East team, makes up for the huge workload required by her sport. But having a brother as a teammate is not always a perfect situation for Kerrianne. “We’re completely different,” she laughed. “I am the kind of person who works as hard as I can. Kyle is the kind of person that likes to take a lot of breaks. We don’t always get along.” “It’s a blessing and a curse,” Kyle said. “We get on each other’s nerves a lot, but our different personalities help us motivate each other.” Despite her dedicated mentality, Kerrianne also has time to help the less experienced underclassmen get acclimated to the team. “Kerrianne has been a great leader this year,” said sophomore Francesca Reynaert. “She always has a positive attitude and a good sense of humor.” Kerrianne had a successful season, qualifying for state in the 200-meter free relay and setting the school record for the 100-meter breaststroke during district competition. — Drew Souders

58 | Spark | March 17, 2010 TICKER: HOCKEY -- State Champions


Mitch Geers - Boys’ Bowling


fter a strong sectional match, varsity bowler Mitch Geers is looking to score well enough in Districts to qualify the East boys’ bowling team for the State tournament. Junior Brady Williamson recognizes the impact of Geers’ talent and leadership on the bowling team. “Mitch’s leadership and talent carried us through sectionals this year,” Williamson said. Varsity Head Coach Mike Ballard and the rest of the team have the same aspirations for Geers and the team as a whole. “Besides having the highest average on the team, he is a clutch player and very competitive,” Ballard said. “The other players can relax and bowl their games knowing that Mitch will do his part. I think the confidence Mitch’s teammates have in him helps his game also.” Geers set the East record for score in a series, three games, at 713. He helped lead the team to an 11-5 season, placing them third in the GMC. Coach Ballard believes that Geers’ high scores have helped lead to the team’s success this season. “Mitch has had a lot of high games in his three years,” Ballard said. “With his added consistency, this shows him more of what his potential is. I think it also shows his teammates what they are capable of.” In addition to his high scores, Geers also steps up as a leader on the varsity team. “I try to be a leader and encourage my team to do their best every frame,” Geers said. “I also try to motivate our team when we need to step it up and finish strong like we did at sectionals.” Ballard also knows that while Geers can greatly increase the chances of team qualifying to State, he cannot do it alone. “Our goal is to qualify as a team for the state tournament,” Ballard said. “To do this we are going to have to bowl well as a team. Mitch can help with his bowling and equally importantly with his leadership by example.” — Jordan Drake

WRESTLING -- Ryan Miller 1st in GMC 130 weight class


sports l hawk culture

Athletes Sign to Colleges


story sarah wilkinson | photo heidi yang

story drew souders

On National Signing University of Cincinnati. Day seven East athletes East Athletic signed letters of intent to Director Richard Bryant continue their sports careers did not play a role in the at the collegiate level. recruiting process of any When a player signs a of the athletes. letter of intent, he or she Come signing day, the is agreeing to attend the only role Bryant plays is selected college for one in assisting the players academic year. In exchange, in making sure their the institution awards a paperwork gets faxed to one-year varsity sport the correct schools. Seniors Ashley Taylor, Sammi Miller, Abby Buns, Abbie Schauble, Katie Buczek, Andi Martin, Pedro Powell, membership to the athlete. “The only thing I do Cory Keebler and Matt Luers after signing their National during recruitment is Signing a letter of intent is Letters of Intent. not mandatory, but once help counsel the coaches an athlete does so for one the list down to four schools once on how they are going school all other colleges must stop I checked they had my major, and to work with the players,” said recruiting the athlete. then I scheduled visits to each.” Bryant. Players signed to colleges in Earlier in the year, baseball High schools are not required each of the three athletic divisions, players Andrew Wills and Noah to hold National Signing Day, but but for each, the stress was equal. Buettgen signed to Miami Bryant felt that signing day needed For senior soccer and softball University and Lincoln Trail to occur at East to help show the player Andi Martin, who signed University, respectively. Wills’ accomplishments of the athletes. with Transylvania University, this recruiting process, however, was “As a school, [East] does process is one that started last year unlike Martin’s. not have to do anything,” said when she added her information to “In baseball, there are specific Bryant. “I wanted to use this day recruiting profiles online. rules to how you can be recruited,” to show how much these athletes “I first got on a couple of said Wills. “After your junior year, have done. From now on, I want recruiting web-sites. These coaches can contact you after [signing day] to be a celebration of were just web-sites to put July 1. I was first seen by Miami accomplishments for the athletes all my academic and athletic coaches at a tournament not long and their families.” achievements,” said Martin. “I after July 1. They called Coach Ray The next signing day for East also posted pictures and videos of Hamilton that night, and we set up will take place on April 14 for myself so coaches could look at a meeting.” athletes who do not have their my profile and decide if I would Wills was also pursued by college athletic decision made at be a good fit. I was able to narrow schools like Xavier and the this point. n

2007 East graduate and University of Michigan junior Jared Miller has made an impact every team for which he has swam for. Miller currently holds six swimming records at East, including two Jared Miller individual is now a and three swimmer for the relay records. Wolverines. In 2006, he set the record in the 200-meter individual medley and went on to win the state championship. During his freshman season at Michigan, Miller went on to compete at the Olympic Trials in hopes of swimming in Beijing. He also competed in the 2008 U.S. Open, finishing 15th in the 400-meter individual medley, 26th in the 200-meter breaststroke and 43rd in the 400-meter freestyle. During a recent Big Ten dual meet, he won the 200-yard breaststroke. Miller hopes to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. n


A look into the lives of East athletes






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Rock or Rap?






Lady Gaga is....






Apples or Bananas?






Xavier or UC?






infographic scott koenig


BOYS’ BASKETBALL -- Trae Broadnax 5th in GMC scoring


INSIDE THE NEST The famed Yankees–Red Sox rivalry dates all the way back to the “Curse of the Bambino” when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. The Yankees have a comfortable lead in the all-time series with 184 more wins than the Sox in the 2,064 games between the teams. The Yankees also hold the upperhand in postseason meetings at 11-8.

59 | Spark 17,meet 2010 GIRLS’ SWIMMING -- 4 girls qualified for| March the State

sports | eight things

story trae broadnax east basketball player (as told to allison korson) photo eric muenchen

Hand Placement Counts

“I am left-handed, so I put my left hand on the back of the ball and my right hand on the side.”

Place Your Feet Carefully

“There’s a nail in the middle of the free throw line, so I put my left foot on that nail and then my other foot is shoulder-width apart.”

Stay Grounded

“The technique is a little different because in a normal shot, you jump, but in a free throw you don’t usually jump.”

Practice Makes Perfect

“We practice it a lot, and if you practice it a lot, then you’ll be good at it. With repetition it’s easier; you just know what to do because you do it all the time. We practice free throws probably half the practice.”

Ignore the Pressure

“I think it’s harder than a regular shot because there are a lot of people watching you, and you have to focus a lot more. There is a little more pressure when you make a free throw than when you make a regular shot.“


This Makes It or Breaks It


60 | Spark | March 17, 2010

“It can make a difference especially if there is a close game. Free throws can either put you up or down.”

Be Calm, Cool, Collected

“I take three dribbles, I inhale, then exhale, then shoot. I just focus on the rim and zone out the crowd.”

Strategy Is Involved

“Usually in close games, the team that is behind tends to foul the other team in order to get the ball back.”

sports I opinions


sports opinion kyle morrison

Shaving seconds off of swimming times can effectively be done through shaving your body. The carnage of a battle litters the bathroom floor. A sadistic buzzing sound turns to grinding, then back to buzzing, then to grinding again. Hundreds of casualties fall to the floor. The buzzing noise goes silent, and another strike overwhelms the survivors of the first wave. This is the moment that many eagerly anticipate. This is the fateful night before the biggest swim meet of the year, and the casualties are the strands of body hair that create resistance for swimmers. If this attack is successful, there will be no survivors. This ritual comes along but two or three times a year, and saying that it is abnormal would be an understatement. Then again, swimmers would agree that they are inherently abnormal. These aquatic athletes train relentlessly all season long in hopes of making it to the state meet, but their training is not complete until their legs, arms, armpits, chests and stomachs are all silky smooth. While outsiders may ridicule swimmers for engaging in such sacraments, most swimmers agree that the effects of shaving completely make up for the torment brought on by their land“Some people can’t handle a guy with going peers. “Shaving smooth legs or a girl with hairy ones.” definitely helps. Everyone who shaves before a big meet usually drops time,” says Lakota West junior Dennie Patton, a lifelong swimmer who has shaved many times. “The time dropped totally makes it worthwhile.” While many wince at the prospect of a male swimmer shaving down, the cynics aren’t taking into consideration the disturbing

shaving habits of top-notch female swimmers, most of whom never shave their legs in-season. The four month break from shaving results in their legs resembling those of their masculine counterparts. This paradox of normal grooming habits is seen as typical among swimmers. “Some people can’t handle a guy with smooth legs or a girl with hairy ones,” remarks Patton. “But in the end, it has to be done.” Despite what Patton and many other swimmers may think, the actual effects of shaving have not been proven. Shaving’s effects on swimmers remain the topic of fervent debate amongst members of the scientific community. Many argue that the loss of body hair has no real effect on speed, but makes the swimmer feel faster in the water. Others argue that it really does reduce drag, both by removing hair and dead skin cells. No matter the real effects, nearly all high-level swimmers and coaches swear that shaving has profound effects. Members of the East swim team would agree as well. The Hawks finished 2nd at their sectional site for both boys and girls, had a great district meet and sent five swimmers to the state meet in Canton. As absurd as it may sound, the lack of body hair is undoubtedly one of the major factors in the success of East swimming, or any team for that matter. While there may not yet be any definitive correlation between shaving and dropping time, shaving can’t possibly do any harm, aside from cuts that usually cover the legs of novice shavers. It is safe to say that state championship swim meets are the only high school sporting events where both male and female participants have shaved legs. Swimmers wouldn’t have it any other way. n contact kyle at


sports opinion sarah fanning

If NFL players do not negotiate with the owners of their teams, a strike could be on the horizon.

­Before the confetti could be cleared from Sun Life Stadium following the most viewed television event in history, the 2010 Super Bowl, talks of a National Football League (NFL) lockout began to take over the sports media. In the height of the quarterback craze and a Pro Bowl that saw a 39 percent ratings increase from the previous year, this is the worst thing that could happen to the NFL. The entire 2011 season will be cancelled if owners and the National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA) do not reach an agreement on contract negotiations. The disputed proposition is an 18 percent pay cut the owners want to institute. The players don’t have much to gripe about. According to the 2008 census, the median household income was $52,175, while the median income of a NFL player is a lucrative $1.1 million, not including fringe benefits of insurance, disability benefits, pension coverage or endorsement “The face of football could be forever deals. The owners changed if these contracts aren’t signed.” are also calling for restricted rookie salaries. Former University of Southern California (USC) superstar running back Reggie Bush is currently the highest paid running back in the NFL. He is not starting for the Saints but is making more than all of their starters,and $2,840,260 more than Titans running back Chris Johnson, who was named AP Offensive Player of

the Year in 2009. Bush is not the only NFL player who boasts a salary above his level of work. Carson Palmer was, at one time, the highest paid quarterback in the league, but he has yet to deliver a post-season victory to his team. Better restrictions are clearly needed to prevent yet another college prodigy from disappointing the city to which he is drafted. The owners have little to lose with a lockout because they have television contracts in place with networks for the 2011 season, and each owner will receive $31 million whether or not a game is played. However, the players will not receive a dime. The players need to be the ones to give in for a new contract negotiation to be reached. Like with the Major League Baseball (MLB) strike in 1994-95, the face of football could be forever changed if these contracts aren’t signed. After the MLB strike ended, interest in America’s past-time came to a standstill. 1995 opening day attendance was measly at best, and baseball has never regained the fan base it had prior to the strike. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) have also gone on strike in the past 15 years. An NFL strike will soon occur if the players do not negotiate. Though the NFL’s fan base is captivated with star quarterbacks, the NFL may never bounce back to its current level of prominence. Instead of watching Peyton Manning solidify his legacy, the city of Cincinnati could again see a banner flying over downtown reading “Owners and Players: To hell with all of you.” n contact sarah at

61 | Spark | March 17, 2010

opinion | commentary

HEAD T “Abortion is a crime of aggression not only against the unborn, but also against society.” The words of Pope Benedict XVI ring clear in the thoughts and expressions of millions of Americans as the tables have turned in favor of life in the ongoing debate with abortion. According to a Marist College Institute of Public Opinion survey, more than 60 percent of Americans are now opposed to abortion. Even Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff who passionately fought for abortion rights in the case “Roe v. Wade”, the court decision that legalized abortion in America in 1973, has led pro-life marches in recent years, because even she regrets her decision to fight for abortion. At first, McCorvey fought for the abortion she was going to have, but as time progressed in her Supreme Court case, she decided to fight for “all other women similarly situated.” Since the landmark decision to legalize abortion, McCorvey not only gave birth to her child, but she also admitted to fabricating the story of her rape “which got her pregnant” as a way to invalidate the law and take the case to court. Since that time, she has reversed her position on the debate and is now a fully pro-life supporter. The malevolence of abortion is so pertinent because it willingly destroys a human life and therefore is murder. There is much dispute as to when life actually begins. However, these arguments as to when life begins are merely justifications for having an abortion. A human life begins at conception when a distinct and complete, though immature, human being forms from the joining of his or her parents’ gametes, instead of after the first trimester of pregnancy, like many pro-choice activists believe. The zygote takes nourishment from the mother and slowly but gradually adapts to its new home particularly by developing key tissues and organs. Because the fetus is in fact alive at conception, an abortion would be the equivalent of murder and is thus illegal. The Declaration of Independence says that the peoples have rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The people who have abortions do not have the right to take away another person’s life. No child is truly wanted dead, and pregnant women do not have the right anywhere to decide the fate of another human being. Abortion is not only unfair to the child, but also to the often inexperienced mother. Even years after an abortion, mothers have deep mental pain. According to psychiatrist Julius Fogel, who has performed more than 20,000 abortions, “There is no question in my mind that we are disturbing a life process. The trauma may sink into the unconscious and never surface in the woman’s lifetime, but a psychological price is paid.” This is because the women who have abortions, for the most part, are younger and have inadequate life experience and insufficient counsel regarding the long term physical and emotional scars resulting from the drastic life decision they are making. The fact of the matter is that when two people decide to make the mature adult decision to have sex, they must be willing to plan for and face all possible complications, including pregnancies, as the original purpose of sex is to reproduce. When a pregnancy is unwanted, the child is not to blame for the immature mistakes of others. Even if a pregnancy results, there are other viable ways to abstain from having an abortion, such as adoption. According to the National Surveys of Family Growth, there are in excess of 10 million families willing and wanting to adopt. Pro-choice people may argue that abortions prevent the child from having a troubled life, but the fact is that 100 percent of abortions result in the death of that child. The issue of abortion has flared up especially in the last year, as the most radical prochoice President of the United States to ever hold the office, Barack Obama, has taken steps to make abortion more accessible. The policies the President is pushing allow for partial birth abortions and the funding for abortions through taxes of people that may be strongly opposed to abortion. Since 1973, more than 45 million humans have been killed in the process of abortion in the United States alone. Terrible crimes against the living unborn are staining the history of the United States. The Constitution does not allow the destruction of human life, yet thousands are dying every day, without having a say in whether they live or die. Many who argue for pro-choice would not be here to argue their points had their mother chose to abort them. But through this sinister process there is hope. Currently. 22 percent of young adults support a total ban on abortion, up from years in the past. It is a wicked process but has more and more people fighting against it, to make America a better country. n


tommy behan

“When a pregnancy is unwanted, the child is not to blame for the immature mistakes of others.” 62 | Spark | March 17, 2010


HEAD No one wants more abortions. And it should be noted that the term is “pro-choice,” not “pro-abortion.” Pro-life advocates assert that abortion is morally wrong—often based on nothing but religious values—while supporting abstinence until marriage. Their belief that people will simply choose not to have sex so as to avoid becoming pregnant is naïve and unrealistic. Studies—including a 2007 study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the United States Department of Health and Human Services—have shown that abstinenceonly education is ineffective; these programs not only fail to keep students from having sex, but they also prevent students from being fully informed of their other options. To be quite blunt, pro-life advocates have no solution for the issue of abortion. So instead of fighting, both sides of this debate need to work toward finding a solution for everyone. Through more education, an informed public and more effective alternative decisions, the “need” for abortions would go down. The public needs to be better educated about contraceptives. With typical use, there is a failure rate of 15-28 percent for coitus interruptus (withdrawal or pulling out), eight percent for oral birth control pills, .8 percent for intrauterine devices and 10-18 percent for male condoms. Perfect use failure rates are lower, but people, of course, are not perfect. The probability that a woman who uses an oral birth control pill and coitus interruptus and whose partner uses a male condom will become pregnant assuming typical use of all three methods of contraception combined is .4032 percent. This sounds rather small, but it means that 4,032 in one million women using these three contraceptives combined would still become pregnant. These numbers do not sound small to those women who become pregnant despite their responsible choices. Americans, therefore, need to demand more effective contraceptives. If they express a need for better contraceptives, companies will work to find them and the U.S. government can encourage research. There also needs to be better family planning education and sex education. Thankfully, President Obama’s 2010 budget has stopped federal funding for abstinence-only programs, but other sexual education programs may still be unsuccessful. It is very possible that a student may get an A in his or her health class without retaining any information about contraceptives. How many Americans know where to buy Plan B, how it can be used effectively within three days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, or that 17-year-olds can buy Plan B without an adult? Obviously not enough, because less abortions would take place each year if Americans took advantage of earlier choices. Americans need to be more informed about abortions themselves. When people are aware of what a choice entails, these people can be more certain of their decision. The American public also needs to be better educated about the alternatives to abortion. Most women who choose to have an abortion do so because they are unable to care for a child or their situation will hurt the child’s future. If these children are adopted, they can be cared for and can grow up in a more nurturing environment. Women need to consider adoption as a viable alternative to abortion and more people need to be willing to adopt. Though adoption is not a panacea, the adoption policies in the United States need to be more conducive to allowing caring adults to adopt. For example, there are many gay couples who would love to adopt and are willing and able to provide a child with education, health care and love. Pro-life advocates, however, often oppose gay marriage on moral or religious grounds. Pro-life people are naysaying yet another alternative to abortion. Anyone who believes a woman’s choice to have an abortion is not a right needs to take a look at the Constitution—the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, to be specific: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” A person either listens to our Constitution or not, but it’s still the law. It is unlikely that either side will ever be swayed from their respective scientific and moral beliefs, and the continued debate on abortion is not helping anyone. If Americans are willing to compromise and work together on the issue of abortion, they can find that they do not need to take advantage of their right. 


amanda kaine

“Instead of fighting, both sides of this debate need to work toward finding a solution.” 63 | Spark | March 17, 2010

opinion | commentary


While watching the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver the other day, I came across something that caused me to do a double-take. It was a McDonald’s commercial featuring several Olympic athletes happily chowing down on an order of Big Macs and fries, smiling and talking about how much they love McDonald’s. It ended with the slogan, “Now, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to eat like one.” McDonald’s, the epitome of the American fast-food industry, the star of “Super Size Me” and a contributer to childhood obesity, has managed to become a proud sponsor and the official restaurant for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. And it’s not just McDonald’s. Coca-Cola, a global leader in the production of sugary soft drinks, is now the official beverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. It’s time to reconsider what companies promote to children,


Olympians actually don’t eat fast food. Just days before the start of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, the contestants from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” visited the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, where nutritionists revealed what Olympians really do eat. Junk food like burgers, fries and soft drinks are not part of the diet. Instead, they eat mostly lean meats, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables, which help to enhance athletic performance and maintain proper nutrition. And just when I thought I had seen enough, another commercial came on, showing Olympic snow boarder and former McDonald’s crew member Brad Martin munching on McDonald’s fries saying, “When I served fries at McDonald’s, I always had to deal with temptation. Now, I give into it every chance I get.” With childhood obesity on the rise, it seems almost shameful to encourage eating fries at every chance possible just to incur more revenue. The last thing America needs is for children to be convinced by their heroes that McDonald’s french fries have something to do with their athletic success. “The last thing America needs is for children to be However, the sad truth is that this type of advertising works on these impressionable children. convinced by their heroes that McDonald’s fries Stanford University Researchers found that children as young as three years old responded to have something to do with their athletic success.” McDonald’s familiar logo and packaging, saying that they preferred the taste of food that came out of as having McDonald’s and Coca-Cola as Olympic sponsors may McDonald’s bags to the flavor of the exact same food items from be an indication that they have gone too far in encouraging what plain paper bags. children should buy. The researchers asked 63 children between the ages of three Commercials are already placing too much emphasis on and five to participate in more than 104 taste tests with some of unhealthy foods. Researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago McDonald’s most popular items, such as hamburgers, French discovered that 98 percent of food product ads viewed by kids fries and chicken nuggets. ages two to 11 and 89 percent viewed by adolescents 12 to 17 On average, 48 percent of the kids said they preferred the were for foods high in fat, sugar or sodium. And according to taste of the McDonald’s branded hamburger compared with 37, kids in the U.S. watch 40,000 commercials each percent who preferred the unmarked burger, 59 percent liked the year, which makes advertisements hard to ignore. McDonald’s labeled chicken nuggets compared with 18 percent Even though the Olympics might promote physical activity, for the unbranded nuggets and 77 percent said the french fries in it does not make up for the potential damage of too much the bag with the McDonald’s arches tasted better than the same advertising for fast food or soft drinks. In a survey conducted fries from a plain white bag. by CBC News on Feb. 17, an overwhelming 72 percent of 800 According to Dr. Thomas Robinson, an associate professor people said that companies like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola of pediatrics at Stanford University, young children under the age should not sponsor sporting events, with 24 percent saying it is a of seven or eight really do not have the ability to comprehend good idea and 4 percent being unsure. the persuasive intent of advertising and marketing, which is the In another Olympic commercial, a disappointed young girl’s reason why companies need to advertise less junk foods and more hockey coach talks to his team after a loss, saying that even healthy foods. though they didn’t win, they displayed great effort and played like Although it is unlikely that all exposure to unhealthy true Olympians. The coach then rewards the team by taking them advertisements will be eliminated, there are things people can to McDonald’s. do to help educate our children. For example, when their kids It is just wrong to tell children who have dreams of competing ask for advertised products, parents can explain to them that in the Olympics that the athletes they look up to and aspire to be commercials and other ads are designed to make people want are typically rewarded with a generous helping of fried foods and things that they don’t necessarily need. By talking about the sugary sodas after grueling physical activity. trickery of advertisements, families can help put things into a Contrary to what McDonald’s wants people to think, most better perspective. n contact

64 | Spark | March 17, 2010

Lisa at

editorial art by heidi yang

FAIZSIDDIQUI decades of disaster

A pack of gum. A fast-food hamburger—excluding tax. One through the Hawks for Haiti program. Obviously, the media has digital music download. All can be bought for a single American the power to set the precedent for Americans to give before such dollar. But for 80 percent of the population of the disastercatastrophes occur because In some places, life itself is a disaster. stricken Caribbean nation, one dollar is all that is available to If Americans were aware of the everyday struggles Haitians live on. For most of them, that dollar will not be allocated to encountered before the earthquake, it would have been common a pack of Stride or Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” But without procedure for Americans to donate to them. Even during the the media attention that catastrophic events have drawn to the aftermath of the earthquake, Americans were more informed nation of Haiti, most Americans would pay no attention to the about unimportant occurrences, including “Samantha the impoverished people of a country 750 miles southeast of Florida. Gorilla’s 40th birthday,” a story WLWT broke just days after. Because a donation to Haiti also presents the opportunity for News outlets need to realize that they have the power to a tax write off, with April 15th rolling around, Americans seem to institute change. This does not mean manipulating the news; it be the most charitable they have been since Hurricane Katrina. means reporting what needs to be reported. People are not aware The problem is that the altruism in Americans only comes out of issues to which they are not exposed. Take the pressing issue after natural disasters. Through no fault of their own, most of the conflict in Darfur for example. According to savedarfur. Americans are blind to the ongoing problems in the rest of the org, in 2004 only 14 percent of Americans polled knew about the world because of the media’s obsession with public interest and crisis in the North African region. Based on a poll by the same personal stories. The fact that Balloon Boy is a household name organization, by 2007, after the conflict received exposure from exemplifies the absurdity displayed by the national news on “The media has the power to set the precedent every broadcast. America’s fascination with a father’s botched attempt at obtaining his own reality TV show by using his sixAmericans to give before catastrophes occur.” year-old son, Falcon, is nothing short of asinine. Obviously, there was plenty of suffering going on in the the Save Darfur Coalition and other institutions, the figure had Republic of Haiti, before the 7.0 earthquake and its aftershocks risen to 59 percent. struck the country’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. The misfortune It is clear that Americans respond overwhelmingly to media that Haitians experienced was under-reported by most American exposure. News outlets that do not report the news do not media outlets. A search for Haiti turns up 1,640 deserve the right to keep the word news in their title. If primeresults, but 1,026 of them are connected to the earthquake. The time were not taken up by endless commentary on trivial subjects, remaining 614 results are from 1995 to the present, meaning such as Tiger Woods’ extra-marital affairs, maybe Americans that the earthquake spurred more CNN stories on Haiti than the would be more informed of the issues that affect other nations. previous 15 years had. News outlets have the power to be the beacon of change. If It has become obvious that when disaster strikes, which Rupert Murdoch really is “the man who owns the news,” then he media reports, Americans generously donate. During the Gulf holds the power to change its current state, to stray from strictly Coast Hurricanes of 2005, East students donated more than conservative commentary and objectively report on issues that $3,000 to the relief effort and the same happened recently actually matter. n contact

Faiz at

65 | Spark | March 17, 2010


opinion | finishing touch


giving up giving in or giving it your all The moment the bar hit my chest, I knew I had lost the battle. No matter how hard I heaved, I wouldn’t be benching my body weight by my birthday; I lifted up my shirt and realized I had fallen short on the six-pack as well. I had thought the two goals were attainable when I set them three months earlier, but I decided to celebrate the success of lasting as long as I did instead of the two failures that faced me. The first day I worked out, I didn’t even know what to wear—to say I was grossly unprepared is an understatement. When I told my friends about my decision to work out, I was met with snorts of derision—they said I would never last through Christmas break. The thing is that back then, I had to agree. The entire idea of me working out is still laughable, and there were plenty of days that I wanted to quit, when I wanted to decide that it just wasn’t worth it, but I never did. I now work out for one hour three times a week because of one simple fact—as exercising became more of a habit, continuing became easier. It’s all thanks to the interesting human ability known as self control—interesting because willpower can be trained and it grows like a muscle; the more willpower that is exerted, the more willpower capacity increases. Changes in behavior take willpower, but habits don’t. As working out began to require less willpower, I set a new goal—a healthier lifestyle. The basis of the change focused on one philosophy: “if it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” The concept was outlined in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, which he summarized with seven simple words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The phrase flashed in my head on Fat Tuesday as Facebook filled with status updates about what people were giving up for Lent. As I read through the list of items, I saw everything from chocolate to fast food, and a shocking realization hit—for many, Lent is nothing more than a fad diet in which participants give up something they shouldn’t be eating anyway. The issue, however, is that participants use untraditional gimmicks to cheat the system. On Sunday, many people observe a “mini-Easter” and splurge, which makes resisting every Monday even harder and stops the behavior from becoming a habit. At the end of Lent, if there had been no binging, then the behavior would already have become a habit, but instead, many people revert back to their original behavior, never truly sacrificing anything. As I thought about it, I realized how little Lent is being utilized. It’s meant to be a period of self-denial, but more importantly, it’s meant to increase a person’s spirituality and bring them closer to God in preparation for Easter. By reverting to the original behavior, however, people aren’t improving themselves in the long run. In the end, everything comes down to motive and dedication. If I give up junk food solely because of Lent, I only have to last 40 days. If I give up junk food because I want to make a legitimate long-term change, then on day 41, I have just as much reason to continue as I did on day one. Of course, eating healthy in today’s world is tough. This past deadline, I ate McDonalds on a daily basis, half a carrot cake and half a dozen donut holes. I guess I don’t have enough willpower yet, but hopefully, if I keep trying, I’ll have that six-pack by spring break. n

66 | Spark | March 17, 2010


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67 | Spark | March 17, 2010

68 | Spark | March 17, 2010

2009-10 Issue 5  

The Alternative Sports Issue

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