June 5th, 2012
Reflections from the executive editors
It’s the day before my Merionite senior reflection is due, and I don’t know what to write. All my previous attempts have produced results either too saccharine or incoherent to be satisfactory. I was always excited for this moment to share my enlightening senior wisdoms on this soapbox obligated to publish me. But now that the time has actually come for me to write, I’ve found I’m at a loss for words. I’ve always lacked words, though. Freshman year I was painfully shy, and sophomore year too. Junior year I became slightly more comfortable, but it wasn’t until senior year that I truly came out of my shell. I don’t really know what provoked this metamorphosis, but I have a few ideas. My first guess is that it was caused by that strange change that comes with endings. The approach of an end reminds people that their time is finite and that they should make the most of what little they have left. I think many seniors come to this epiphany, and suddenly the grade has a whole lot more camaraderie. But why does it have to come so late in our high school careers? Well, I want to share a few personal revelations that might help to quicken this process of realization. First, people aren’t as judgmental as you think, and those that are don’t need to be bothered with. There are enough amazingly nice and caring people at this school that you don’t have to worry yourself with appealing to the mean ones or those who you just don’t jell with. But if you expect others to curtail their judgments, you have to reciprocate. Realize that your peers are a lot more complicated than you think. Someone who seems cranky might have just lost a family member, or come from a home with oppressive parents. So cut everyone a little slack. That weird kid might actually be really funny. That classmate who comes off as haughty might actually be really insecure. I’m sure everyone reading this thinks they have issues, so believe me when I say you’re not the only one. The last thing I want to express is rather cliché, but nevertheless has proven incredibly vital in improving my high school experience, especially this year: learn to be comfortable with yourself.
Don’t try to change who you are to fit in with a certain group, or to not appear “weird” or “nerdy” in front of people. Those people who will judge you for being yourself aren’t worth it. Trust me when I say that you will find people who accept you, and it’s way harder to find them when you put up a front. How can anyone truly relate to you when you’re not even showing the real you? Let me illustrate my above points with an anecdote and some regrets. A group of friends and I recently rented a beach house together in Ocean City for a couple of days. None of us had been very close, or in many cases even acquainted before this year, but as graduation closed in we packed in those hangouts and grew to be a relatively close group of friends. As we all sat in a circle and reminisced about high school, we realized we all shared the same sentiment: we wished we had come to know each other earlier. We all recognized the incredible companionship we felt in one another that only would have benefited us earlier in our high school years. I regret not being open enough to connect with these people earlier. I regret not being secure enough in myself to show people what I had to offer, to allow those who would care about me to find me. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Realize that while high school might seem like your total life right now, you’re only here for a little while. These formative years will soon be over, and then it will be too late to shape those invaluable lifelong relationships we all desire and need. As hard as it might be to imagine now, pretty soon you won’t be seeing your friends and peers every day, every week, or even every month. So form those bonds as early as you can. Learn that there are people who will accept you. But first, you need to accept others, and most of all, yourself.
Now & Then Editors-in-chief Eric, Ian, and Maya over the years!
My senior reflection, oh what a time it’s been! Yeah, that’s one way to start it I suppose. Not very interesting. Nevertheless, it’s catapulted me into this string of colloquial-style writing that I’m sure you, the reader, finds extremely engaging. You feel like you know me, can suddenly picture me speaking to you; in other words, I suddenly have a human voice. And voice, I’ve come to realize, is the most important thing you develop in high school. Your knowledge can take a backseat to that, even the refinement of social skills has to bow to kiss the feet of the development of your voice. I can’t stress enough to all underclassmen reading this, and to all of my peers going on to the next stages in their lives how incredibly valuable it is to have a voice. And I don’t just mean being able to speak. The best test to see whether you have a voice is to think of something you would do that would make someone else say, “That’s such a _____ thing to do” (insert your name in blank space). If you can’t think of anything, you don’t have a voice. But there’s plenty of time to develop it in the coming years. If you can think of something, whether it’s a joke, an insult, a comment, or an action, then you clearly have developed some sort of identity. I’m not going to pretend it’s an easy thing to do. For some, yes, it comes very easily. But for others it’s difficult, whether it be because of an uncontrollable inherent situation or a fear of being different. For me, the difficulty came with an inherent situation. If you can’t already tell by one of the other two authors sharing this page with me, I have a twin. And yes, we look alike. No, we’re not identical; we’re fraternal. Yes, I know we look identical. Yes I’m telling the truth. I run through this script daily with new people I meet, and I’ll continue to run through it for the next four years as well. It’s excruciating at times, but I understand that people will be people, and people can be really, really annoying sometimes. For the past 18 years of my life, I haven’t been Ian. I’ve been one of “the Cohn’s” or “the boy’s” or “those twins,” or “the one with the black shoes” or “the one with the flippy hair.” I’m not going to pin the blame on other people for this; my genes are clearly to blame for the lack of individuality existing in people’s perception of me. And because of genetics, it’s been an uphill battle my whole life to get some one to say, “that’s such an Ian thing to do!” In elementary school, I was quiet. In middle school, I talked every now and then. But finally, in high school, a metamorphosis occurred. I wasn’t suddenly loud and obnoxious, but I was much more outgoing and open. It didn’t happen suddenly though; the transformation occurred very slowly throughout my four years here, beginning with the befriending of a slight acquaintance in history class freshman year, to getting to know basically my entire physics class throughout a year of carefully orchestrated shenanigans, which I’d like to think I was an integral part of (shoutout to Elder nation!). This change in my sociability allowed me to develop my own “Ian” style of doing things. In time, my humor became clearly separate from my brother’s. My way of speaking, my thought process, and a few friends even, were not the same as Eric’s. It all culminated in a seemingly small event this year. One of my close friends was telling me a story about how he was at a track meet with another one of my friends. He was doing some mildly funny thing and suddenly, the other friend screamed out “Stop it! We’re not with Ian right now!” When I heard this, at first I made a mental note and made sure I wouldn’t make those jokes again around that friend, but I also smiled a little. It wasn’t, “We’re not with a Cohn right now,” it was about not being with Ian. My years of hard work had paid off: someone recognized me as a separate person. Granted, they thought of me as super-annoying and not funny in that situation, but honestly, I didn’t care. I wasn’t my twin. I love it when I hear someone likes Eric more than me. It means we’re separate in their eyes. I’ve come to realize that in high school, it’s not how many people you’re friends with that matters, but how many people can identify you that matters. And not just identify you by name. But describe you—the whole you, such that the description couldn’t fit any other person in the world.
Photo by Efi Narliotis/Staff
Maya Afilalo Editor-in-chief
“Enjoy it—these are the best times of your life.” I can’t say how many times I have heard these words from adults over the past year. Some of them are referring to senior year of high school, others the upcoming four in college. But, no matter what they are describing, I’m never quite thrilled to hear that sentence. I should be thrilled. After all, they’re the best times of my entire life and they’re happening right now! Yet, a part of me hopes it’s not true. Because if it is, what does that mean? I go through the next four years, have a blast, and the next sixty are what, boring? Meaningless? I hope my senior reflection hasn’t started off as too much of a downer. I don’t mean it to be. In fact, I have great memories from high school and I have grown during the past four years. I can remember the first day of freshman year, cautiously making my way through the halls and entering Senora Betegh’s advisory in the morning. I remember getting lost on my way to my first geometry class, and having to ask where the “Downs gym” was. Some of the transformations are easily identifiable—I can now find my way to math class on the first day of school without getting lost. I’ve grown from a freshman writer, nervous to enter the Merionite “office” in the old building to submit a rough draft of an article, to an Editor-in-Chief, laughing so hard with other editors in layout that my sides hurt. A
quiet, shy freshman to someone unafraid to speak up in class. Other changes are less tangible; the biggest one that comes to mind is the relationships with my peers. The friendships I’ve developed over the past four years—but especially senior year—are so important to me and have become sources of happiness in my life. I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but becoming friends with people who I didn’t interact with in middle and elementary school has been a major highlight of my high school experience. During senior project, I had more time to spend with friends than previous years, or at least I made more time, since graduation is fast approaching. Often, I heard people say, “I wish I had known you guys since freshman year!” or “I wish we had hung out more, earlier.” I couldn’t agree more. Underclassmen, I encourage to take advantage of all the time you have in high school, because no matter how far away graduation feels in 9th grade (I know I thought it would never come), your time here isn’t infinite. Take a camping trip with your friends one weekend. Spend a day at the beach. Spend a day just hanging out. Most importantly, I think—try to branch out to people you’ve never really known. You won’t regret it. I know I didn’t. The friendships I’ve developed at LM make me hopeful for the creation of many more in the future. Will my times at LM and in the upcoming years be the very best of my life? Hopefully not. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t create memories here that I will cherish as an adult. As I go through life, I hope each year will be better than the last, and I know my time at LM has served as the best springboard off which I could hope to jump into my future.
Photo provided by Eric Cohn
June 5, 2012
The Merionite Defining the journey to adulthood
High school may have seemed like the center of the universe, as though every move we made there was of the utmost importance, as though every success and every failure would define us forever. But, thirty years from now, will anyone really care about the time you tumbled down the stairs, or the time you spilled base on yourself in chemistry class and had to wear someone else’s embarrassingly large clothes (For the record, I’ve done both)? I doubt I will even remember most of my own experiences. So then, if nothing we did really made much difference, what is the point of high school? Arguably, high school is just one more step on the ladder to adulthood. Maybe it’s the final one, and maybe it’s not. Regardless, I think the most important elements to take away are the ones that helped us develop as adults. Our high school experience is only a tiny fraction of our entire lives, but it serves the purpose of molding our identities while we are still impressionable. During this time, we learn independence (to the immense gratitude of our parents, who no
longer have to chauffeur us everywhere); we discover our strengths and our flaws; we overcome the fears of our youth. I entered high school with a terrible fear of public speaking. All throughout freshman year I pondered the idea of becoming a class officer— a dream I had held at the back of my mind for years. I wanted to feel a deeper connection to my classmates, and, most of all, I wanted to see my actions benefit others. But the very idea of giving an election speech made my stomach turn. With a giant leap towards adulthood, I refused to allow my fears to keep me from accomplishing my dreams, and in sophomore year I ran for class president. Just like high school, my job as class president increased in difficulty as the years progressed, developing from simple fundraising to event planning and decision-making. The increased responsibility forced me to step up to the challenge to prove my peers wise in trusting me as their leader. But does this personal growth mean that I have now become an adult? How do we know whether we have reached that landmark? Adulthood is a lot of things. Adulthood means taking responsibility for your actions. Adulthood means delaying gratification in favor of long-term success. Adulthood means actually appreciating a decent night’s sleep. But, to be honest, I think the concept of adulthood is overrated. Even adults make mistakes, feel self-conscious, or shy away from realizing their full potential. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself a teenager, a young adult, an adult, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Shakespeare). Whether we’re 18 or 80, we’re all works in progress.
Intimidated by kids a year older than me, I came into junior year essentially prepared for World War III—ready for battle against the “impossible” AP courses, the dreaded SATs, the masochistic sleep deprivation, the tears, the stress, potential hair loss and weight gain resulting from the aforementioned stress, and of course the inevitability of failure (to the underclassmen that read that line and panic, don’t worry – it’s not true). So when the first week of school passed quickly and smoothly, I was baffled
old building was claimed by a memory. Some are my own, and others belong to those who graduated ten, fifteen, even fifty years before me. Without realizing it, Lower Merion becomes a second home to most of us; even those who refuse to admit it. The school, the building, and the people become intrinsic parts of our daily routine. Ironically, even though many share an almost childlike attachment to the building, the comfort this second home provides is countered by the fact that people enter the school tightly wound up. I’m not saying that all of Lower Merion is dictated by harsh social boundaries, and that all people suffer from paralyzing fear of crossing these lines. People certainly talk to others outside of their cliques, but many attempt to “normalize” themselves outside of their group of friends, forcefully hiding eccentricities unique to their identities or adopting traits deemed universally acceptable. These people not only rob others of an opportunity to meet a great person, but also rob themselves of an opportunity to feel at ease at what I consider to be their own home. By senior year, we loosen up more and more and our personalities shine through entirely. Suddenly we truly “see” people who were in the background, people we knew were friendly and occasionally talked to in a class, but knew nothing more about. They appear because upon realizing that time with this particular group of people is limited, all inhibitions are lost. Watered down personalities, easily hidden in a large mass of people, are replaced with the genuine person and then the question often asked is “Why didn’t I meet this person earlier?” I admire those who were brave enough to exhibit their true selves throughout high school and take a certain pride in being part of this group. Though I felt comfortable in my second home, my experience in high school became much more fulfilling when others joined and I was no longer in the minority. I can’t expect everyone to jump up and sing “We’re All In this Together” arm in arm (nor do I want that because I was never a huge fan of High School Musical), but I can say that as soon as you realize that the chances marrying Snooki are greater than being rejected by the entire student body for being yourself, Lower Merion won’t just be a building in which you spend most of your week, but rather a home.
Sarah Schwartz Salutatorian
Advice from our school President
Aniqa Hassan President
by this undefined cloud of unease that surrounded me. Everything was fine, but nothing felt right. Roaming through the hallways the feeling was only exacerbated. It felt as though I was wandering aimlessly through a foreign land. The initial dosage of uneasiness and anxiety came neither from the academics, nor from the people in my classes, but rather from the unfamiliarity of the new building. I was homesick; a word that seems so misused in a sentence with school, but nonetheless describes the situation perfectly. I missed the fluorescent yellow of the lockers, the quiet corners in the tech building, the vestigial stairways of the old building, the courtyard, Savi’s Hut, and even the fact that certain toilet stalls contained nothing more than a hole in the ground Just like in our houses, every wall, corner, crevice in the
Parting words from this year’s valedictorian
I’m not sure if any other seniors share this sentiment, but I already feel like an outsider at Lower Merion High School. Returning to school during the pretentioussounding “Experiential Phase” of Senior Project to take some AP tests felt strange routine activities like students walking through the hallways to switch classes already felt inexplicably unfamiliar. Then it hit me that we’ve outgrown this habit; most of us are prepared to navigate new places, college life, or the workforce. That being said, we will take with us two crucial components of the high school experience wherever we go. The first element is obvious: the actual content we learned in our classes. But how much of that do we retain? For some, the contagious disease known as Senioritis also has a rather detrimental effect on academic memory. Despite this symptom, most of us will still “go forth to serve” with a strong foundation of knowledge. However, many of the facts and figures we do remember will not prove relevant as we grow older. Now, I don’t mean to diminish what we’ve learned in the classroom—by all means we’ve had an outstanding education. However, my high school experiences that occurred outside the classroom but still within school walls have taught me equally valuable skills that I will take with me through the rest of my life. Planning the Winter Formal taught me that you have to harass people until their ears bleed (and until they want to make you bleed) to successfully advertise something new. Getting the “Approved by Don Walsh” stamp on something other than a campaign poster is easier said than done. Extracurriculars exposed me to wise upperclassmen, people outside my immediate group of friends, and even different teachers—you’d be surprised how much advice and insight I have acquired just from being around these new individuals. When I joined Science Olympiad as a sophomore, I was one of two underclassman on the team. At the time, I was still stuck in the “Pleasantville” stage of high school, when AP classes, SATs, and the college frenzy were just distant, fleeting thoughts. Independence was a relatively new concept at the time, but the upperclassmen matured me. The following year, I became an officer for Science Olympiad. Leadership gave me a taste of the real world, a world in which nobody tells you what to do and you actually have to take initiative when you want something to happen. I learned how to keep a team motivated and excited; combining skills that I had acquired from upperclassmen and new techniques I developed on my own. Another wonderful epiphany that occurs in high school is the realization that teachers do have lives and you can actually have a conversation with them about something other than school. Just a few weeks ago I found myself giving Mr. Kaczmar an iPad consultation (there’s my mandatory Apple reference for this article). Teachers appreciate a little fun, too. Don’t believe me? Clearly you never witnessed the beauty that was my AP Physics Electromagnetism class with Mr. Elder this year. One day, we surprised him with a birthday cake that had a picture of his face on it. Christine serenaded the singing of “Happy Birthday” with a tuba. And it wasn’t even his birthday. I guess I agree with Michel de Montaigne, a Renaissance writer, who felt “the most manifest sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness.” Maybe that contributes to the constant euphoria among seniors. Sure, most adults would say we have no wisdom whatsoever, but within the microcosm of LM, we have more experience than anyone else. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts—we’ll be freshmen again come fall.
Daniel Friedman Valedictorian
June 5, 2012
Boom, snap, wack, pop, prom, and a senior project Boom, snap, wack, pop, prom, and a senior project. It’s over. Everyone will say it “feels like yesterday.” “Just yesterday I walked through the doors as a freshman.” But in reality, high school is one of the longest four years of your life. It’s where you shape who you are. Through extracurriculars, AP classes, and ridiculous teachers, you become a person. Don’t get me wrong, there’s much more growing up to do for all of us, college bound and other, but here is where we truly shaped ourselves. My best advice to all of you readers has to be to say “yes.” Take every opportunity they give you here at LM and say “yes” to everything. If your guidance counselor wants you to join another club— do it! If your teacher wants
to go on a field trip—do it! My biggest high school regrets have come when I was too busy to do something or wanted to watch TV instead. Be realistic. Be social. Two pieces of sound advice, I think. One needs explanation, one doesn’t. But nonetheless, be realistic; be a person before you are a student. You don’t need to put your likes and dislikes aside to pad your resume, though you might need to swallow your pride once every so often. Ok, I lied. “Be social” does need a little explanation. Don’t be afraid to branch out, and don’t wait until senior year to try to meet new people because the people you meet, and the connections you make now will last a lifetime.
High school like the movies
Alex Liu In elementary and middle school, I watched movies that portrayed their version of high school. So naturally, when I entered high school, I expected their portrayals to represent LM. I looked out among the upper classmen for the “Plastics.” I tried to find the beautiful and fashionable Cher or the cool and popular Ferris. I expected huge bonfires and a senior carnival like the ones in Grease (sadly disappointed). I wondered if I would be one of those troubled teenagers in a Saturday detention who befriended people outside of their usual social boundaries. Did those movies get it right? Is that how high school really is? Well, LM definitely has groups of friends who think they’re better than everyone else. It definitely has lovable and outgoing people like Cher and Ferris. And even though there was no bonfire or senior
carnival, there were awesome pep rallies, Radnor football games, basketball games, Players shows, Mr. LM contests, senior prom, and other great events. And although I didn’t have that Saturday detention to meet different yet amazing people like in the Breakfast Club, I had millions of other opportunities to do so. I joined Players and found myself becoming part of a remarkable organization. I experienced acting, something I never imagined myself doing, and met people I wouldn’t know what to do without. The golf and ice hockey teams have allowed me to form friendships as well. LM offers you such great chances to broaden your horizons, and it’s hard not to take those chances. So yes, those movies were realistic in a way. Although LM is no Rydell High, I’ll probably still find myself singing, “We’ll always be together, wha oooh yeah!” on graduation day. And even though LM has no “home schooled jungle freak” or Tina Fey as a math teacher, school can sometimes be a shark tank like it was in Mean Girls, then suddenly all that drama will transition into peace. So, I thank LM for being similar to these classic American high school movies. It has given me indescribable memories and an unforgettable experience.
On paper, high school sounds like it should suck. Endless nightly assignments, barely any time for sleep or leisure, always more things to be done, more tests to take, more projects to complete, more classes to lose sleep over. There are always annotations to make, vocab lists to fill out, lab reports to finish, in-class essays to write, even-numbered math problems to complete, the answers to which you can’t even check in the back of the textbook. Yes, once in a while you learn something thrilling, a teacher inspires, a class moves. But to an overwhelming degree, high school is a struggle. And some will attempt to tell you that the struggle is what makes high school worthwhile, what makes it an important experience. Don’t believe them. The people
Now that I’ve pounded you with advice, I’d like to be a little selfish and talk briefly about my time here. In short, it’s been interesting. Through these four seemingly endless years I’ve met some characters and I’ve often been a character. It’s been good; great actually. Underclassmen—ENJOY it; before SATs and college stuff starts, enjoy school. Incoming seniors, get all of your work done early, but be prepared to work hard until May… senioritis is a myth. Finally: to anyone I’ve upset or offended over these four years, I’m sorry. To my teachers, thank you. To the students, keep rockin’, and keep the Dawg Pound rolling. And remember, in the immortal words of John Grace, “Be bold.”
A spirit head’s call to bleed maroon and white
I’ll just get straight to the point—high school has been by far the best four years of my life. Seems a little extreme, right? Well, after all my screaming over the PA system for everyone to get to basketball games, it shouldn’t seem like much of a surprise. These years were a whirlwind. I came in as a terrified freshman who did not take many chances, and became a senior who built up so much pride for my school that I was confident I could unite the whole student body in my last nine months. The ingredients to my high school experience were not what you would think of as exactly “normal.” I was a school-orchestra-playing, danceteam-dancing, a-capella-singing…spirit head (this year). Although this mixture of activities may seem unusual, because I was able to get involved in many school activities, I allowed myself to make connections with different people who made my high school experience that much better. By the time my senior year came, I realized how short high school really is. The days fly by, and before you know it you’ll be taking three weeks off to work on your senior project. The students in my grade are all so unique in their own ways, and some of them I only really got to know this year; that’s my only regret. If you’re currently a freshman, I challenge you to shed your skin a little bit: get involved next year, and make connections with kids that you normally wouldn’t think to. If you’re currently a sophomore, junior year is challenging, but it’s the year when you really start to feel connected to LM. If you’re currently a junior, behold…senior year is AMAZING. You may get senioritis early like I did, but seize every day you have to see your friends in the halls. It’s your year to be role models for the school and inspire the whole student body to bleed maroon and white. This year was more than I could have ever asked for, no matter how brutal each hour in class may have seemed. High school taught me a lot about myself, and I want to thank my family, friends, and teachers for their love and support. Thanks for everything, LM. Keep the traditions alive, and, remember: it’s great to be in Aces Nation!
The positive impact of kindness
are what made this four years worthwhile. Yes, there are the obvious people. There were the friends that stood by me as I stood by them. Friendships developed and grew as I made my way through high school, and I figured out better how to be a friend. I figured out who I could rely on for an encouraging word, who could keep me company past midnight while enduring homework, who would always be there to laugh with, who would be there to listen. There were the teachers who made an indelible impact. So many teachers here affected me. They helped make the classes they taught bearable. The grace and kindness and intellect of some of the teachers in this bulding is powerful. But there are less obvious people as well. There are people you don’t know as well, but still smile at, or wave at, or share quick words with about how hard that test was, or how unfair that teacher was. And there are also people with whom perhaps you’ve never spoken, but they have just always been there, in classes or in hallways or in the same academic recovery every now and then. I can count on one hand the people I have come across in high school who are truly not worth kindness. You just have to get to know people. Don’t hesitate to be friendly. Don’t forget to
smile. Without each other, high school would suck. Without the cautious friendships I formed on the first day of Geometry, or the laughter I shared with an assigned partner in Chemistry, or the late-night bonding in the Merionite room, or the cheers I shouted next to peers in the Dawg Pound, my four years here would have been miserable. Anyone who is reading this, you made it worth it. You may not know me and I may not know you, but you were here. I passed you in the hallway. I said something to you that one time. Again, everybody deserves kindness. By virtue of being high school students, we are all going through similar pains and struggles. We need each other to survive. I needed the casual acquaintance in Spanish class who made me laugh, the shy kid in the back of Physics class who helped me with Webassigns, the motley group of kids in my advisory who saw each other once a week for four years. It is easy to forget to be nice to everyone. But if I had one piece of advice to keep you sane during your high schools years, it would be just that. Be a friend to everyone you can. Just for the simple reason that it is so much fun to talk with people, smile with people, laugh with people while you have the chance.
June 5, 2012
Embrace what your youth has to offer
As my years in high school draw to a close, I’ve found that instead of only joy, there’s also the bittersweet feeling that soon I am leaving something behind. It’s not just the people or the building, or even the comfort of going to the same building in my hometown everyday. What’s bittersweet is the feeling that I’ll be leaving behind my childhood. It’s the feeling that everything changes after high school and though the possibilities for my life are still wide-open, I’ll never be quite as free and unbridled as I was to try out entirely new things as I was as a freshman in high school. What has hit me the hardest is the realization that I’m moving on to a new, distinct phase in my life, and though it’s never too late to try new things, I will never get the chance to relive my childhood. I’ll
never be able to do things that only a kid can do, and it stings to think that these regrets are a result of nothing other than my own trepidations. In my four years of high school, like anyone, I’ve done things that I wish I hadn’t, but it’s not those that bother me, because I’m happy with how everything turned out in the end. What I regret is instead the things that I didn’t do in my high school career. Don’t get me wrong, I tried out a lot of new things and had a lot of fulfilling experiences, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing that I had been more adventurous as an underclassmen. High school goes by faster than a pack of teenage boys chasing Carly Rae Jepsen and if you don’t live it up there are parts you might miss. I don’t remember all of the reasons for not doing things, and that’s because they weren’t really reasons at all, they were excuses. Now that I’ve forgotten them, all I have left is the feeling of regret that I missed out on an opportunity to experience parts of my life that I’ll never get the chance to experience again. There are people in my grade and others that I never pursued friendships with, and there are activities I wish I had become involved with earlier or at all, and more. Essentially, my message to underclassmen is that though senior year may seem so far away right now, it comes a lot faster than you expect. High school goes by quickly and when it’s over, the more new people you met, the more new things you tried, and the more new experiences you lived, the more fulfilled you’ll feel and the less regrets you’ll have.
Be you, be passionate, and be happy It’s difficult to believe that in a matter of weeks, it’ll all be over. I feel like yesterday I was a terrified freshman in the old school, desperately trying to navigate the crowded vomit-colored hallways or find a working toilet. I was so scared, yet so excited. For some reason, when I’ve recently reflected on my high school experience, I’ve constantly downplayed my accomplishments and focused on my failures. Instead of taking pride in a great performance, I nitpick a single mistake. However, looking back right now, I really think the girl I was freshman year would be proud of who I am now. So, before I say farewell for good, I’d just like to share a few pieces of advice for all those who still have time left at LM. Do what you love. Be passionate. There’s nothing more rewarding than accomplishing something that you put everything you had in to. When you’re so passionate about something, you’ll discover others who share your determination and conviction. The relationships you form with these people will honestly
be the most incredible and rewarding relationships you’ll have during these four years. And together, with these people who share your passion, you’ll be able to accomplish more than you ever imagined. Together, you’ll create magic. Be yourself. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful group of friends who have constantly offered me encouragement and affeciton; however, I’ve also felt animosity from many of my peers during the last four years. They’ve pointed out many of my flaws, and I’ve tried to use their criticism as guidance. Still, I often struggled with how to react to their main complaint: that I’m insincere. I contemplated changing myself and my personality, yet before I could, a friend reminded me that changing myself for others—pretending to be someone I’m not—is exactly what they’re criticizing me for. So just be you. You might not be perfect, but you and your imperfections are genuine, and that’s what counts. And finally, be happy. You’re here. You’re alive. You’re blessed with the ability and opportunity to be anything and do anything. Life is beautiful. Enjoy it. Best of luck, LM. Peace and love. Visit me on the West Coast!!
Don’t lose hope before you reach the core
Have you ever seen one of those huge lollipops they sell at carnivals and fairs? Many a time I had walked by these spectacles, looking on in awe, wanting to indulge, but simply lacking the courage. Well, last summer, while on a jaunt through Europe, I finally took the plunge with the encouragement of my traveling companions and bought one of these lollipops, excited for all of the possibilities of what awaited me. Expectations were high, but I have to admit, I was rather intimidated by the beast. My previous experiences with these candies had not taken me past Dum-Dums and Tootsie-Pops, and I really did not know what awaited me. When I first put that lollipop in my mouth on that 105 degree Rome afternoon, I was full of energy, excitement, and wonder. I would finally be that kid to eat the lollipop that was almost as big as his face! Then, after the novelty of it all wore off, I realized that this lollipop wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sure, it was huge and glorious, but in reality, what was I gaining by consuming this, other than a great deal of weight? It’s not like it was the best dessert I’d ever tasted, nor did the heat make things easier. But I knew I would need to finish one of these monsters at some point in my life, and here I had a unique opportunity not only to fulfill this rite of passage, but to do so thousands of miles away from LM in the middle of the world’s greatest city. So I reluctantly soldiered on. As I was devouring that beast, I certainly had some interesting thoughts. These lollipops are known for having many flavors, and when I would encounter the better tasting parts of my snack, my whole mood would improve. I would conquer the legend of the giant lollipop, I thought, and do so easily, enjoying every second of my journey. Of course, it could not be this easy, as for every inch of deliciousness on that lollipop, there were two inches of some of the worst artificial flavoring known to man. These rough patches in the lollipop made me think twice about my endeavor. Why did I care so much about this gosh darn lollipop? Couldn’t I live a pretty normal life without eating this thing for no apparent reason? Was I this superficial that I needed to eat a lollipop to validate myself? But every time I questioned my motives, I soldiered on, knowing that living through that flavor that seemed like a combination between banana and grape would pay off, no matter how phony it tasted. Eventually, as I got to my last few licks; and
I knew the end was near, I looked back and realized, “Wow. I actually did this, and I can finally say that I’ve eaten a huge lollipop.” I also realized that as much as I loved the most delicious segments of my journey, I had gained just as much, if not more, from the icky parts. I realized that I only had a few licks left, and savored every last one of them until I was done, at which point I proudly threw the white stick which once supported the lollipop in the garbage can, had a big smile the rest of the day, and then moved on with my life. I have come a long way from Freshman Orientation, when I stared in awe of Mrs. Hockfield and the upperclassmen, somehow intimidated, excited, mortified, intrigued, energized, worried, and thrilled all at the same time. With each lick, every step I took, I gained something unique to that experience. One such forum was Ms. Chung’s 9th grade African and Asian Studies class, where I took part in some incredibly stimulating discussions, academic and otherwise, which helped me gain perspective on so many different aspects of life. Another area of personal growth was on the baseball diamond with my comrades on the freshman team, where, as a slow, weak-armed, undersized kid who could not hit for beans, I played every position but catcher en route to an 0-15-1 season. These early experiences reeled me into LM, making me a part of my school and my school a part of me, and got me to keep on licking. I’ve definitely had my fair share of memorable times, both good and bad. There were nights where, though I was exhausted from a long day of school, I could not sleep due to excitement for whatever was next, be it a golf match against a Central League rival, a Student Council event I had put months into planning, or a basketball playoff game which would mean a huge turnout for the Dawg Pound. Of course, there were also nights where I lie awake in my bed, not due to excitement, but rather, due to the stresses of a big essay, a falling-out with friends, or just plain old-fashioned anxiety. During these times, I still kept licking, but questioned, “Why?” and, “Is it worth it?” Well, right now, my LM tenure only has a few licks left. Yes, there were times when I longed for the day I would walk across the stage at graduation, in front of my family, friends, and teachers, and make LM a part of my past. After all, I would have my diploma, and isn’t that really what it’s all about? The answer, of course, is no. The idea of going to high school should not be just to get sheepskin and move on with your life, but rather to make every moment count, because one day, you’ll look back and realize that it is all over, and all you’ll have is that gooey white stick. With only graduation ahead of me, my only regret looking back is that I didn’t savor every lick of high school, even the ones with that horrible banana-grape flavor, and that I never took the time to appreciate how special the opportunity to attend LM was. Please, be involved, love the place 180 days a year, (okay, nobody actually goes to school every day) and do everything you can to make your LM experience more meaningful. If you do, I promise that when you are on your last lick, you will truly appreciate what you have done.
LM Matriculation 2012: Go Forth To Serve...
Maya Afilalo Richard Allie Jessica Altman Isabella Anton Amelia AuBuchon Jaimeson Avillan Veronica Ayala-Flores Ian Bamberger Rachel Barg Benjamin Barsh Zachary Bashore Tiara Batton Maclyn Bean Adam Beardsley Marissa Becker Bonnie Beckford Elena Behar Niles Binns-Davis Bodhi Biswas Afnan Blankinship Jonathan Bloom Daniel Blum Katherine Bode Roberto Bonilla Ivan Brcek John Brice Zindzi Burchall Ali Burgos James Burke David Carlin Theresa Castellucci Matthew Chan Katherine Chase Spencer Christian Andrew Chukinas Timothy Chung Naomi Cichewicz Damian Cignarella Adam Cohen-Nowak Eric Cohn Ian Cohn Kieran Coleman-Plante Jeremy Comer Christopher Conwell Matthew Cooper Sarah Cramer Coulter Crooks Reddy Cypress Ana Dalalishvili Danielle Darame Francesca De Muzio Corey Dennison Evan Desantola Michael Deuber Justin Dixon Brandon Doonan Gilad Doron Kayla Dove Koryn Dove Grace DuFresne Mari Ebeling Geremiah Edness Dylan Edwards Max Eisenberg Cooper Eisenhard Desmond Ellis Christine Emery Miyumi Fair Jeison Fajardo-Aristizabal Josh Feldman Zachary Feldman Brianna Ferguson Brittney Ferguson David Fesenmaier Rachel Fishbein Josh Fisher Sydney Fleekop Troy Foote Christopher Forrester Kirsten Frank David Freedman Benjamin Friedel
University of Pennsylvania Delaware County Community College Neumann University University of Wales, Trinity Saint David Fordham University Temple University Temple University Saint Joseph’s University The Boston Conservatory Temple University University of Tennessee Temple University Drexel University Beloit College Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania Fisk University University of California, Berkeley Unavailable University of Pittsburgh Temple University University of Pennsylvania Lafayette College Green Mountain College Delaware County Community College Unavailable University of Connecticut Spelman College Rutgers University University of Maryland Montgomery County Community College Franklin and Marshall College University of California, Los Angeles Delaware County Community College University of Vermont Temple University Gordon College Otis College of Art and Design Drexel University Washington University in St. Louis Columbia University Columbia University Drexel University Washington University in St. Louis Temple University Bowdoin College Clark University Undecided Temple University Montgomery County Community College Israeli Defense Forces Tulane University St. Leo University Carnegie Mellon University Undecided Delaware County Community College Central Montco Technical School Case Western Reserve University Drexel University Montgomery County Community College Tiffin University Brigham Young University Unavailable University of Wisconsin–Madison Franklin and Marshall College Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania State University Swarthmore College Hampton University Pennsylvania State University Boston University Ursinus College Unavailable Unavailable Indiana University of Pennsylvania George Mason University University of Pittsburgh Elon University West Chester University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania College of Technology Yeshiva University ‘17 American University
Daniel Friedman Sydney Friedmann Zachary Friggle Andrew Fritz-Lang Giana Frusone Michal Furman Erin Gallagher Jonathan Ganon Andrew Gardner Danny Garfield Robert Gaudio Andrew Gehlot Aviva Gillman David Gilmour Joseph Gingold Robyn Goldberg Max Golden Jake Goodman Max Gottlieb Madelaine Guss Ben Guttentag Yonatan Hachen Saleema Hall Aniqa Hassan Jake Haut Elizabeth Hecht Paige Henderson Sam Heyman Caroline Hirsh Josh Hoffman Matthew Hollin Jack Holmes Eric Holte Drew Horn Davis Hovey Dmitri Howard Benjamin Hriscu Sharon Hsieh Erica Hummel Brett Hutchins Sara Hyman Carly Ichniowski Stanko Ivanovic Chris Jarmas Elliot Jersild Christopher Johnson Jace Jones Jacek Kacarow Aziz Kamoun Danny Kane Kayla Karp David Katz Alexander Kenney Chandler Kilgore-Parshall Simon Kim Dong Gun Kim Cameron King Austin Klein Zachary Kleiner Matt Kocent Leo Koorhan Tyler Kopen Ron Koren Bryan Kozin Emily Kremens Jordan Kurtz Eleanore Lail Nico Lake Molly Lang Jack Lashner Tommy Lee Yebin Lee Jeffrey Lehrer Luke Levin Alison Levin Austin Levitt Emely Levyn Anthony Li Charlie Li Yuan Li Xiaoyi Li Alex Liu
Columbia University Temple University Military Ursinus College Drexel University ‘17 Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania State University Community College of Philadelphia Continuing Studies at LMHS Tufts University Syracuse University University of Vermont University of St. Andrews George Washington University Drexel University Muhlenberg College Widener University Drexel University University of Colorado at Denver Lewis and Clark University ‘17 Franklin and Marshall College University of Pennsylvania Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Harvard University Rochester Institute of Technology University of Rochester Gettysburg College Tulane University Franklin and Marshall College Ursinus College Undecided Pennsylvania State University Community College of Philadelphia University of Alabama University of Alabama Mercyhurst College Eastern Univerity Boston University Bowdoin College Continuing Studies at LMHS University of Michigan Columbia University Undecided George Washington University University of Illinois Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology Indiana University of Pennsylvania Montgomery County Community College University of Pennsylvania University of Miami Temple University Washington College Community College of Philadelphia Emerson College Pennsylvania State University Unavailable Arcadia University Pennsylvania State University Vanderbilt University University of Pennsylvania New York University Gap Year Pennsylvania State University Elon University Cornell University University of Tampa Unavailable Georgetown University New York University Wesleyan University Pennsylvania State University Temple University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Elon University Gap Year University of Maryland George Washington University Parsons the New School for Design Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania State University University of the Sciences College of William and Mary
Serenity Lopez Jeremy Lordan Bobby Lundquist Rowan MacFarlane Ben Magalaner Nadia Mahmud Jordan Malerman Jacob Mandell Jessica Margolis Sam Mark Bradley Martin Nicole Martin Jesse McCarthy Brady McHale James McKee Caroline McKown Paige McMonigle Morgan McMullen Riesling Meyer Madeleine Meyers Dario Michultka-Calel Daniel Millard Ned Miller Ricky Miller Zander Miller Daniel Mills Vallabhi Mishra Avi Molder Stelio Monos Monica Morgenstern Hillary Moritz Julia Morrison Daniel Moyer Hana Muratovic Danielle Muse Alexandra Nates-Perez Gabe Nathans Robert Nester Alissa Neubauer Rachel Newman Eli Newschaffer Tran Nguyen Josh Niemtzow Tyler Niles Max Novick Nakato Nsibirwa Wasswa Nsibirwa Anna O’Neill Ugochukwu Obieshi Jake Ochroch Travis Ostrow Joseph Padolina Nicholas Paprocki Allison Partridge Kelsie Patterson Joshua Paul Kyle Perry Augustine Peterson-Horner Max Pierce Natalie Plick Mara Pliskin William Podrasky Jocelyn Polche Samuel Pollock Rafael Porrata-Doria Jessica Porter Gwen Porter Nathan Posener Sofia Pouget-Prieto Austin Rapkin-Citrenbaum Demetria Ratchford Sabrina Reddy Tyler Redmond Mara Reese Julie Reiff Roie Rennert Ashley Reusora Darryl Reynolds Stefan Richter Mike Robbins Sarah Robinson Ines Roman
Montgomery County Community College Gap Year University of Pennsylvania University of the Arts University of Pittsburgh Howard Univesity Gap Year University of Vermont Occidental College Bates College Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Tulane University University of Pittsburgh La Salle University Work Force California College of the Arts Community College of Philadelphia Syracuse University Georgia Institute of Technology Unavailable Drexel University Temple University Drexel University Continuing Studies at LMHS University of Pittsburgh Unavailable Temple University ‘18 University of Chicago University of Pennsylvania Drexel University Pennsylvania State University University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania State University Unavailable Morgan State University DePaul University Yale University Saint Joseph’s University Gap Year Hobart and William Smith Colleges University of Pittsburgh Drexel University Emory University Hobart and William Smith Colleges George Washington University American University Harcum College Catholic University of America Syracuse University Pennsylvania State University Temple University Work Force Boston University Bucknell University Pennsylvania State University Muhlenberg College University of North Dakota Elon University Muhlenberg College Kenyon College Muhlenberg College University of Pittsburgh Delaware County Community College University of Pittsburgh Muhlenberg College Gettysburg College Temple University Northwestern University Pennsylvania State University Loyola University New Orleans Rhodes College Massachusetts Institute of Technology Roanoke College Pennsylvania State University University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Pennsylvania State University Delaware County Community College Unavailable Loyola Marymount University St. John’s University University of Delaware Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Pam Rosen Stephanie Rosenbloom Leslie Rothstein Michael Rozdzielski Stephen Rudolph Johan Samarxhi Ryan Sarnacki Alan Saunders Hannah Schaeffer Drew Scheier Richie Scheinfield Elsa Schieffelin Zachary Schlosberg Abby Schmidt Sarah Schwartz Vered Schwell Patrick Scott Emily Seidman Lacey Serletti Samriddhi Sharma Eli Sheintoch Matthew Shore Peter Siciliano Matt Siegelman Maya Siegler Noelle Smith Hannah Smolar Laura Snyder Carly Solomon Rashalieque Sonnier Sara Spector Tommie St. Hill Joshua Stapp Sarah Starkweather Dorthea Sturgell James Svoboda Bruno Talvacchia Nathaniel Tarshish Greg Terruso Phoebe Thai Lydia Thompson Rajni Thompson William Tobias Eric Toll Brittany Toryk Mathilde Touam Emmy Trueswell Katie Tsai Arielle Vallet Aliza Vigderman Shane Votto Tessa Wade Allison Wahrman Cydni Walker Jenna Wasserman Jahlil Watson Jahquil Watson Charles Weinberg Jordan Weinstein Sophia Weinstein Julian Weldon Eric Wells Keron Williams Bryce Williamson Jaime Wilsker Rebecca Winkler Sophia Winston Arielle Woodard Ben Wortham Aleeia Wright Diana Yang Eliana Yankelev Hope Young Santiago Zagarra Ann Zheng Simone Ziss Josh Zollman
Macalester College Pennsylvania State University Washington College Universal Technical Institute Unavailable Drexel University Pennsylvania State University Delaware County Community College George Washington University West Chester University of Pennsylvania Temple University University of Virginia Johns Hopkins University Temple University Northwestern University University of Maryland ‘17 Harvard University University of Alabama Williams College California Institute of Technology Pennsylvania State University University of Hartford Johns Hopkins University Wesleyan University Drexel University Juniata College Barnard College Drexel University ‘17 University of Wisconsin–Madison Unavailable Drew University Arcadia University Drexel University ‘17 Undecided Philadelphia University Unavailable Unavailable Brown University Syracuse University Philadelphia University Undecided Howard University ‘17 Harvard University University of St. Andrews Temple University Unavailable Sarah Lawrence College Haverford College Unavailable Brandeis University Elizabethtown College Wagner College New York University North Carolina A&T State University Franklin and Marshall College Peirce College Philadelphia Community College University of Delaware Massachusetts College of Art and Design Unavailable Military Undecided Immaculata University Saint John’s University University of Wisconsin--Madison Wesleyan University University of Pittsburgh Unavailable Denison University Johnson and Wales University New York University University of Pennsylvania Unavailable Marines University of Pennsylvania Towson University Pennsylvania State University
The editors of The Merionite offer our sincere regrets to anyone not mentioned in this year’s Matriculation list. We wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors.
June 5, 2012
SENIORS 2012 Don’t dodge getting involved
The Merionite Every senior hopes to be part of a class that will leave some type of legacy; we hope that we will be remembered by teachers and students, and we hope that underclassmen will strive to be like us when they reach their senior year. Good classes are remembered for leading and bringing the entire school community together. One moment of togetherness that stood out to me this past year was the dodge ball tournament. This event was proposed in a student council meeting by a junior and was brought to fruition by a mix of students from all grades. Hundreds of students gave up their Friday night (on a widely celebrated “holiday”) and crowded into the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium to have a glorified gym class. No one was in it for the free yogurt or pizza or gym membership; rather, they came to the event to be kids again. It seemed that all the stress associated
with school, and the peer pressure associated with the weekend had melted away, and all anyone wanted to do was play dodge ball. Though many games were played, one game struck me as beautiful: the Boys baseball team vs. the “Raunch Dawgs.” It was late in the tournament; the game on the other court had finished and the entire gym crossed the floor to gather in a perfect square around the unlikely battle that had been raging for almost ten minutes. Doug Young, the director of public relations for the school district and recently inducted member of the boys varsity baseball team, stood, ball in hand, across from junior Doug Cotler. Slowly we all started to realize that a thirty-year-old administrator had reached his inner youth and was chucking dodge balls at a seventeen-year-old student. Blue foamy balls flew through the air almost in slow motion as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors united chanted “Doug! Doug! Doug!” Towards the back of the crowds
Mrs. Freeland, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Moyer, Mrs. Cohen, and parents all laughed and looked on, amazed, as one of their equals slung balls at a student. Whether it was jealousy of Mr. Young’s youthful play or jealously of the opportunity to peg a student, it didn’t matter; everyone was together. Students who had never talked before stood arm in arm crowded around a silly game with squishy balls and cheered on two people most of them had never said hi to before. We were all together and we were all one. I guess I felt it was important to tell this story because it speaks volumes of the year we have had as a school. Hundreds came to the welcome back dance, hundreds more came to the Dance A Thon, twelve buses brought fans to a state basketball game, we broke the bleachers at Bald Eagle High School, and we gave up a Friday night to play dodge ball at school. We did this together as a school, not bound to grade lines or social barriers, but rather, bound by a common feeling of togetherness led by the class of 2012. Seniors: our legacy will not be that we beat Radnor this year, nor will it be that we starred in an I’m Schmacked video, acts that have already been forgotten. Rather, it will be that we made Lower Merion a better place for everyone, not just for ourselves, and that will be remembered for years to come.
Words of wisdom from your voice of the Aces
High school is an amazing time of our lives. It’s a time when we learn more about ourselves, and what we truly believe in, a time where we begin to value friendships, and learning; some might even learn about getting “Shmacked.” Before I go, I wanted to share with you three important things that I have learned at LM and will carry with me upon graduation and throughout my life journey. Firstly, get involved. This school is defined by our student involvement. Whether you’re
a star athlete, talented musician, or perhaps a creative artist—share it with others. I am none of the above, but have still found ways to participate. You don’t have to be involved just at school—broaden your interest, and indulge yourself in the community. Crazy things happen outside of these walls, so go ahead—be crazy. Secondly, be unique. High school is a time in our lives when we learn more about ourselves, establish new friendships, habits, and
Within school walls after 2:40 P.M. The most essential part of your high school experience will not come in a classroom. What ends up defining you most as a high schooler, and what has the greatest impact on shaping you for the future, will be your extra-curricular life. While schoolismandatory,what you do after 2:40 P.M. is completely of your own volition. Because of that, and because of the amount of time devoted to such sports, plays, and other organizations, extra-curriculars end up defining you. Very few people will remember much about their 9th grade Biology class (sorry Mrs. Murphy) or 10th grade English class (unless they pulled an all-nighter making a pop-up book the night before it was due). But what you do remember from freshmen year is the senior on the cross-country team who made you love running. Or the Build On officer sophomore year who made it cool to wake up early on Saturday mornings to pack and deliver food for people you’ll never see again. Someone who you never had a class with, but have spent much more time with outside of school than many of your classmates. It is said the best way to connect with a stranger is through common interest. At their core, extracurriculars demonstrate an individual’s interests. More so than whether you take APUSH or HUSH, Theology or Philosophy, what you choose to get involved in will determine how much you enjoy your school experience, and have a greater impact on you later in life.
Perhaps the best advice I can give to current students of any age is to sample a myriad of after-school activities, find the one that sparks your fire the most, and run with it faster than a pack of teenage boys chasing Carly Rae Jepsen. For me it has been Ultimate Frisbee and Build On, two activities that I had never tried before 10th grade, that now define me as much as anything related to academia, and that I will pursue passionately in college. It matters not whether your fascination lies with a debate team, service, newspaper, Science Olympiad, form of music, form of art, or form of chess, what matters is that the activity captivates you and similarly captivates others. I have heard from many people in the past year that Lower Merion does a phenomenal job of preparing you not just for college but also for the real world. While I have not yet had the opportunity to verify this, I fully believe that their words ring true. One of the ways LM does that is by providing an assortment of extra-curricular activities. Find one you love and go. Do not worry so much about becoming prepared for life after high school, give your best effort and that will come naturally through your time at Lower Merion, rather cherish and make the most of the time you have left at this phenomenal institution. YOLO.
become more familiar with our personal beliefs. Start taking responsibility for your own actions. Finally, thank your parents. As ridiculous as it sounds, and while it doesn’t really go along with the rest of what I wrote, it is probably one of the most important things to do in life. Never be ashamed to kiss your mother in public. After all, she’s probably the only woman most of us can kiss any day, at any age. Best of luck, LMer’s. Go Aces.
Finding your passion
I truly believe that high school is what you make of it; it can be a roadblock to college, an opportunity to make lifelong friends, maybe even learn something interesting—or just a nuisance. The popular trend these days is to hate school; to complain about its duration or its absurd policies, the cliques, the exclusivity, and of course, the homework. Although I’ve done my fair share of the complaining, overall, high school was a great experience for me. I will look back at high school and remember how although I had to wake up at 6 am every day, I was never alone while surrounded by 1,400 people. There were classes that would excite me, even if just for the fact that I would see so many different people, not just my friends, but those with whom I could share a laugh. I loved the sense of pride we had in our school—the fact that we could fill up a gym for a Saturday basketball game, or get the whole school excited about a dodgeball tournament. Hell, we even filled the stands to watch two winless (in central league competition) football teams fight over bragging rights. The bottom line is that I am happy to tell people that I went to Lower Merion. And I know that everyone tells you this, but sometimes “everyone” is right: make sure you join activities within the school. It is those activities that keep you going and passionate about your school. I was never much of an athlete, and even though I dabbled with cross country and tennis, the primary reason for my doing so was the camaraderie and passion I would have as a representative of Lower Merion. During my junior and senior years, it was these athletic extracurriculars combined with my writing and editing the Merionite
Josh Niemtzow that got me through the toughest times. Often schoolwork was just the obstacle I had to overcome to get to the fun part. When I look back at high school, I will always remember the good and the bad; getting called down to the office for trivial things, or chanting with over half of the student body at the basketball state championship. But it is these experiences collectively that have helped shape who I am today and that will prepare me for the next step. High school has taught me how to tolerate other people, even those so different from me. It has taught me how to cram for a test, how to multitask, and how to take calculated risks and still avoid disaster. And for that, these four grueling years were worth it. Although there will always be certain people that I will keep in touch with and others I will probably never speak to again, it is safe to say I will miss both my grade and the school as a whole.
June 5, 2012
Remembering the ones that matter This year I had the first two sets free on D Days, which meant, for the uninitiated—freshmen, sophomores, and the three juniors not currently parked in the senior lot—that I could come into school two hours later than usual. Even subtracting the frees I needed for last-minute Latin translation or history cramming, I had plenty of opportunities to arrive at 9:30. But I never did, and it wasn’t the temperature or the librarianled assault on freedom of association which kept me coming back in the morning. By some stroke of luck, both of these frees were packed with my closest friends. Despite a daily schedule full of shared classes and lunches, when it came time every fourth evening to plan my D Day morning, I could never pass up the opportunity to spend another hour in their company. Even mired in a painful eleven-game stretch where the baseball team managed only three wins and had several late one-run losses, I was always excited to ride the practice bus towards an afternoon of shagging flies with my teammates, substandard weather and facilities notwithstanding (although, while I’m on the record: putting a new baseball field in the school blueprints and then never building one? That’s just cruel). In my three seasons on the team it was our worst, perhaps, but it was
The good that emerges from high school hardships High school for me was an experience that I will never forget. If it weren’t for high school, I would never have the love for musicals or singing as I do now. On the academic side, I’ve had teachers that have pushed me to be the best person that I can be, even when it seemed like I was struggling with grades. High school wasn’t always easy, but everyday I presented myself with a challenge. The challenge was to overcome all of the negative things that threw themselves in front of me, whether it be bad grades, strains among friendships, difficult teachers, or most of all, the rumors that high school is known for. Overall, all of the groups and activities that I have participated in have allowed me to find myself and have opened my eyes to different things like music, athletics, and meeting new people. I appreciate everything that Lower Merion has done for me.
always the personalities and conversations and not our record that mattered. On the flip side, when the school jazz band toured Italy and every day brought exciting sights and excited audiences, nothing meant more than spending every concert bracketed by friends whose company for the last seven years had dulled the hardest rehearsals and improved our best performances. By the end of high school, my pleasure was never more in the experience than in the act of sharing it. I feel tremendously lucky to call myself an LM graduate and to have had so many classes and extracurriculars to choose from. I’m most thankful, however, for the teachers and classmates I met along the way, who woke me up for first set Latin and made me look forward to the same Mondays that I stumbled through, sleep-deprived. This was the most important lesson I learned at Lower Merion and the one that I’ll carry with me as I go on to college and life after college: satisfaction lies not only in finding what you love—that frequent commencement address theme— but in finding people you love. Keep your friends close through success and failure, and always remember that every person you meet could be the newest reason to drag yourself out of bed at 6:30 on a cold, January D Day morning.
Wise words with friends One of the most famous policies for English Wikipedia editors is to ignore all rules, specifically, “if a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.” We’d like to extend that notion to high school life as well. Being LMers, we are constantly flooded with invitations, or at times, instructions to “clear our schedules” for school events. They come in all shapes, sizes and time slots. Some may be of a long duration yet significant for the school community, such as the distant postseason basketball games; others may be shorter, annual events, such as the winter music concerts and the spring art and music festival; many events and meetings slot somewhere in between. “Ignore all rules” comes into play where a plethora of events and activities are available in high school, and you pick some of those to participate in; that is where you take responsibility and judgement into account. Over our four years here, we have chosen to respectfully decline invitations to various school events for various legitimate reasons. For example, each of us choose not to attend
prom despite the fact that many of our friends would be there that night. The immense monetary costs coupled with the time-consuming ordeal of pre-prom and the mess of post-prom essentially deterred us from asking others to prom or making plans to attend. We hope that our explanation alone does not reduce future prom attendance, but we do hope that better judgement is exercised all the time, since everyone’s situation is different. Good judgement is not displayed only by those who agree with you, as “ignore all rules” does not sabotage the values of LM, but rather upholds them. While high school is only a short four years, they are four important years in personal development. The lessons learned from making the right or wrong decision in the most crucial of moments here will only help later in life. Remember that only you can make the best choice for yourself, but please do not disrespect your peers in the process. That would just be bad. After all, aren’t these the values that Mr Hughes instills every day?
Learning to be your own best advocate
School used to be hard for me, in many respects. I didn’t feel like my real personality emerged at school—I was reserved, so unlike how I was and am at home and with my friends. I’ve always found transitioning difficult, and I was slow to adjust to the pace and traditions of LM. As I reflect on myself four years ago, I don’t look back with cynicism or frustration, but with the knowledge that I am still that freshman, just an older, more self-assured, and more self-aware version. Since freshmen year, I’ve determined what it takes for me to succeed, and I’ve made significant strides in becoming the person I want to be. I really first started feeling alive and relaxed (as much as I’m ever relaxed) when we moved from the old building to the new, a transition that brought more sunlight, a fresh spirit,
and more excitement. I realized that self-advocacy plays such an important role in maintaining control over schoolwork and school life. Being able to talk to teachers and administrators, to vouch for myself when I needed help, made me feel at home in a place which had first felt so foreign. Depending on special teachers to listen to my neurotic rants contributed to my elevated sense of belonging at school. I also worked out some academic difficulties I’d had, which certainly had contributed to my downtrodden attitude early on. I discovered a wider group of friends, and felt accepted and loved for my idiosyncrasies. Trusting that my friends were going to love and support me 100% of the time, and making it clear that I, too, would reciprocate, allowed me to imagine a sort of safety net below me, while I walked the new halls of LMHS. Thinking about my first two years as a confident senior earlier this year, I wished I’d come to know myself earlier. My dear friend, the wisest person I know, gave me some advice: “Don’t wish you hadn’t hit obstacles earlier in high school, because if they hadn’t stood in front of you, you wouldn’t have conquered them. You wouldn’t have learned some important things about yourself.” She couldn’t be more right. Looking back now, I understand how my mistakes and my slow transitioning have contributed to the person I am today. I’m still neurotic and anxious, but I’ve learned to make those characteristics work for me. Starting in tenth grade, I began to work out at 5am each morning, starting my day with something
I love, and with something that gave me a surge of energy. Every time I think about leaving for college these days, my throat starts to tighten. I sometimes get goose bumps, and I always think back to a spot on the floor of my room where my friends and I have shared so many important moments. In a way, that area of my floor has provided a rock for me, but more important, it now provides a tangible and apt symbol of all of the people in my life who have done the same. Making strong connections is how I operate. I am emotionally tied to so many people I am used to seeing every day. The tough elements of high school are so worth the opportunity to make such connections, to forge relationships that have helped sculpt me as a person. High school is give and take. If you don’t create a strong support system for yourself, you’re guaranteed a stressful and lonely time of it. Don’t be afraid to ask a teacher for an extension; being overwhelmed and overtired is a valid excuse. Don’t be embarrassed about crying in school; do you know how many of us have done it, and how many of us still do? Don’t be afraid to take a Benadryl the night before a scary event or in the middle of an alarmingly stressful week to help you fall asleep. Remember that at the end of the day, you are first and foremost an individual—not a student—you need to take care of yourself, and you have the capacity to affect the lives of others. High school is the culmination of your childhood; don’t ever be afraid to celebrate it, even the parts that aren’t perfect.
June 5th, 2012
Calling home: The do’s and don’ts
The real Danny Garfield: the twisted troublemaker
Dear Lower Merion High School, It has been quite the four years, but I admit I have not been completely honest. In order to survive the high school grind certain things have had to be covered up. But now the time has come for these records to become declassified. As I leave LM I give you the dark and twisted side of Danny Garfield that you thought was only a legend.
Lower Merion High School True Confessions: 1. I used the basketball pump in the gym to inflate my own personal Batman® four-square ball. Danny Garfield 2. I didn’t sign up for AR. 3. In ninth grade I left and ate lunch in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. 4. I skipped the drinking and driving assembly to hang out in “the lounge” in the old building. 5. In 9th grade I borrowed a book from the library about people who live in a blimp and never returned it. 6. I never learned what RNA is. 7. I sold dog treats to people during a bake sale. 8. I hid in the scenery shop. 9. When the staff bathroom was open, I used it. 10. I survived swine ’09 but didn’t get a shirt. 11. I made the snow penis in the courtyard. Every time. 12. I soldered the doors to the courtyard so that everyone thought they were locked all spring. 13. I won the fight in the blackbox. 14. I called the Dawg Pound the Mutt Mound. 15. Turnitin.com wasn’t really down. 16. I put down ASS on the congruency test, even though I knew it doesn’t exist. 17. I jumped in the pool on the first day of school. 18. I used Google Translator. 19. I never understood what was so great about Kline’s calves. They are just calves. 20. I let someone in an outside door. 21. My needs were social in nature. But I stayed. 22. I told the campus aids to tell you to not sit on the benches. 23. I slept in the boiler room to finish my Chemistry project. 24. I am the reason there is cinnamon toast crunch in the cereal container that says Golden Grahams. 25. I was spying on Blake Robbins. With this burden off my chest, I wish you all adieu. May all your lunches be super, Danny Garfield. P.S. Honorable mention to Jordan Weinstein: a partner in crime.
Ms. Shusta English I feel like I’ve taught all of you (at least most of you) and perhaps that is why my maternal instinct has kicked in while ruminating on what kind of advice to give you as you embark on your life after high school. I’ve decided to dispense some wisdom on how to communicate with your parents during your first year away from home.
“Just think of academic probation as a chance for me to spend some quality time at home with you this fall.”
Art by Aviva Mann/Staff
Congratulations! You have completed 12 years of school and that is not easy. As you get ready for the next step, just remember that you have been in a very structured time of your life so far. And even as you have been straining against the yoke of oppression, the straining gave you purpose. Your next steps will all be up to you. Try to give yourself some structure to work within. DON’T PROCRASTINATE, especially in college, because you will pay a heavy price for it. Enjoy your life, but learning and working can be enjoyable too. Make it so. Partying is part of life Mrs. Pierce after high school, just don’t make it your occupation Art or you’ll wake up at 30 and wonder where your life went. Respect yourself and don’t do things that aren’t comfortable. Don’t worry about fitting in; it’s a big world and you’ll fit in somewhere. Be safe, be kind, and remember: “Fortune favors the brave.” Be brave, be strong, be good. Go with love, Mrs. Pierce
Never start an email home with the following:
1. “Yesterday I was summoned to the dean of students again. Don’t worry, it was only my second offense.” This could cause your father to leave the dinner table, jump into the car and start driving towards your dorm…no matter how many hours away you are. 2. “I want to preface that an F in a class that isn’t in your major is okay.” This will cause your little sister to believe that your room has now been bequeathed to her. 3. “It’s awesome! The professor never shows up so it’s a guaranteed A!” This will cause your mother to research every professor and hand-select your courses for the next three years. 4. “Just think of academic probation as a chance for me to spend some quality time at home with you this fall.” This will force your parents to move and not give you the forwarding address. 5. “My new frat brothers say that I need to choose between them or going to class. I’ve realized that loyalty is an important character trait that I should be encouraged to develop.” Your frat brothers have now become your family…your only family. 6. “I think dropping out of college makes more sense in this economic climate. Living at home will cost way less than tuition!” See number 4.
Instead, begin a note home this way:
1. “I’m looking forward to coming home for a winter break. And yes, I’ve already done my laundry.” Your mom will rush to the store and begin selecting your favorite foods in preparation of your return. 2. “Finals went really well, and I already have a summer job!” Your parents will regard your room as a shrine and bar your little brother or sister from entering it. 3. “I can’t believe it, but I really miss (insert little brother or little sister’s name here).” This might just be the happiest moment of your mother’s life. 4. “Classes are great, but more importantly, I’m learning a lot about who I am.” Your parents pride in the adult you’re becoming will increase threefold. 5. “I never realized how much you did for me. I’m sorry there were times I took that for granted.” Your father will leave the dinner table, hop into the car and drive to your dorm, no matter how far away you are, in order to hug you. 6. And my personal favorite: “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m really happy here.” Congratulations class of 2012, Find your happiness. Shusta
June 5th, 2012
“To live would be an awfully big adventure”
Ms. Cohen English Dear Seniors, Last year at this time I was living in Boston, hoping to move back to Lower Merion, and you were finishing your junior year of high school. How things have changed in a year. As I think about coming and going, leaving and returning, and growing up and moving
on, one of my favorite stories comes to mind: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. In the story, Wendy, Michael, and John Darling leave home with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell for Neverland, a magical island with fairies and mermaids—where children stay children forever. However, the Darling children realize that even with all of Neverland’s enchantment, two things are missing from their lives: the wisdom that comes with growing up and their parents. So, the children fly home and are welcomed lovingly by their parents, who have been sitting by an open window in the children’s nursery night after night, waiting for their return. Like Wendy, Michael, and John, I left home eleven years ago, after graduating from Lower Merion, and found enchantment in the new places I saw and experienced. These places taught me about the importance of seeing and experiencing the unfamiliar, and made me more appreciative of the familiar. I learned the importance of courage when it comes to leaving what you know and trust. “Courage is the thing; all goes if courage goes,” says Barrie. As you set off on your journey into new territory—have courage.
Drive for yourself
Mrs. Christman Physics
When I was a freshman in college, I had to make the ninetyminute drive home every so often to get my braces adjusted. YES I had braces when I was a freshman in college! I also had them when I was a sophomore and a junior. What’s that, you heard a rumor that I had a different set of braces in high school? Well let me put that rumor to rest. It is true. Anyway I digress. When I got home one November day after that ninety minutes of highway driving, I was stressed and jittery. My mom met me in the driveway with a hug and asked, “What’s wrong?” “Nothing’s wrong – I just hate that drive.” I hauled my green LLBean backpack out of the maroon minivan and heaved the sliding door shut. “Did you run into rain?” We walked through the garage. Mom opened the door for me, and the familiar smell of spaghetti and meatballs wafted out.
“No, the weather was fine – I just get myself so stressed about the other drivers. I always worry that they think I’m following too close, or I’m going too slow… Whenever someone’s behind me I worry that they’re trying to pass me, and I don’t know whether to speed up or slow down. It drives me nuts.” I dropped my backpack on the kitchen floor and pushed the bangs out of my eyes. Our golden retriever ambled up to say hello. My mom was draining the spaghetti at the sink, and she turned to me, surprised. “Nora. Just drive for yourself.” I opened my mouth to argue and then stopped. Drive for yourself. It was like a sudden clearing of storm clouds. Drive for yourself. Could I really do that? What would other people think? I had to take into consideration what the people around me thought about me, didn’t I? I had always tried so hard to please everyone. But she was right. Worrying about what other people thought about my choices was a waste of my energy—whether on the highway, in the classrooms at school, in my choices of clubs or friends or what I did on a Friday night. I couldn’t possibly please everyone, so instead of asking myself “What will they think?” I had to shift my focus to “What is best for me?” My mother passed away two months ago. I think of her every hour of every day. Class of 2012, I want to leave you with two enduring messages: hug your mom, and drive for yourself.
Like Wendy, Michael, and John, living in these new places taught me about myself and about life. I learned about the importance of taking risks and trying new things. The more I tried, the more I understood where my passions lie, and the more I came to understand how important it is not to waste time doing things that are meaningless. Barrie says, “Stars are beautiful, but they must not take an active part in anything, they must just look on forever.” When you are in your new place enjoy the beauty and majesty of the stars, and take advantage of being able to see them and be inspired by them to make the world a little brighter. And like Wendy, Michael, and John, I came home. Even though we did not know each other before September, you helped welcome me back to Lower Merion and made me feel part of the community again. I am grateful that our paths crossed and that my first year back at Lower Merion was your senior year. One of Barrie’s famous quotations from Peter Pan is, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.” Remember what the Darling children learned in Neverland: the importance of family
and that life in Neverland was too easy. Even if you never return home, keep those most important to you important parts of your life. Live a big adventure. Don’t settle for what is easy. Seek experiences that will challenge you and that will enable you to grow. I wish you an adventure filled with knowledge, rewards, laughter, and happiness. To my dear sets 3 and 8: You filled room 315 with creativity, originality, insight, humor, and questions and answers. For all of that, I thank you tremendously. As the Darling children are preparing to say goodbye to Peter Pan, he says, “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” You are all going away to new and exciting places, but I am not saying goodbye because I will never forget all of our laughter, good times, and sweet memories. Know that my window will always be open for you, no matter where I am. I believe in you and know that you too will be aight! Yours truly, Ms. Cohen
Hold off on judgement Congratulations to the class of 2012. LM has so many wonderful, kind, capable young people that we are sending out into the world. Whether you are starting a job, working and going to school, traveling, or going away to school, I wish you well. You have survived the fears and worries of high school, both the real ones and the ones you thought were meaningful at the time. Being able to watch my advisory grow and mature over four years was a wonderful experience. I’ve seen many of their insecurities as 9th graders disappear by senior year. I am certain that you are receiving all
Please remember that personal communication—talking to someone face to face— can never be replaced by any kind of technology. sorts of advice from lots of people, so here comes some more… Be yourself and value who you are. Always remember: kindness counts. There are so many distractions for young people in today’s world. Please remember that personal communication– talking to someone face to face—can never be replaced by any kind of technology. Please realize that part of our humanity is helping other people. Get involved in something charitable. Find out where you can do the most good. Graduates, please try to look at the big picture. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I learned a long time ago not to judge students when I first meet them. Teenagers are a work in progress. I frequently
Mrs. Reisch Mathematics
grow to really like and admire students as I get to know them and as they mature. Graduates, your world is all of a sudden going to be so much larger–be patient with starting new friendships. You are still finding yourself, as are the other people that you will be meeting. Look for the good in everyone; don’t be distracted by things that money can buy. Lasting friendships are built on character, not material items. Call your parents, but please don’t look to them for advice on day-to-day stuff. You should be making your own decisions. You should not feel entitled. Work hard; sometimes you will need to work harder than anyone else you know. Try not to feel sorry for yourself when things aren’t going well. Exercise then, even if you don’t feel up to it–it helps. I believe that regular physical exercise is the best path to strong mental health. The best advice I can give is hanging in my classroom: “These are Life’s Rules: Tell the truth ALL the time, be kind, work hard, and have fun.” I wish all of you happiness and success.
June 5, 2012
By the numbers
All Around the World: Where Seniors Will Be Next Year
Most Popular Schools for the Class of 2012