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June 5, 2017

The Merionite

Something good in every day Move alongside your regrets Simone Burde Editor-in-Chief Over the years, I have read and edited many of these senior reflections, all of which were different and absolutely unique to each senior, yet manifested in similar threads; these pieces help make up the mosaic that is the LM community. As my interactions with the reflections shifted from a reader’s perspective to an editor’s, the thought emerged in my mind that soon it would be my turn to try and pen my experience. Over the past couple days, the previous excitement I had for this task has turned to dread. Or if not dread, then trepidation. How do I summarize my high school experience while trying to work in advice for those who will come after me? It seems like an impossible task, but here is my attempt. I have always followed in my older sister’s footsteps, but beginning with my freshman year at LM, I began to diverge. Sure, I was, and still am, known as her “little sister,” but at LM I also made my own footprint as I carved my own unique identity. The girls’ varsity tennis team has been constant for me since August of freshman year. I knew that before summer truly ended each year, I would return to the courts, freshfaced (but let’s be honest, probably really tired from the 7:30 start time) and ready for the season to begin anew. The days of practice and preseason followed by season and postseason matches were always predictable in otherwise massive unpredictability. I didn’t win every match and there were some disappointments, but there were also victories in individual and doubles matches as well as triumphs with the team. Being a part of the tennis team allowed me to sharpen my tennis skills and leadership capabilities, both of which I will rely on in the years ahead. Tennis was how I started my LM journey, but the activity with which I will be ending it is the one that became another constant for me: The Merionite. Soon after I arrived at LM, the room next to the library with the swivel chairs became a haven for me. Smelling of stale takeout, Expo markers, sweat, and stress (the room has very little ventilation), it soon became a place for me to do my homework and of course to work on all things Merionite-related. This work

Deepika Jonnalagadda Editor-in-Chief

varied widely, from writing, to editing, to laying out, to putting the paper together, and finally to distributing it. Despite the stressed-out and pressurefilled hubbub that The Merionite room is, it also became a cornerstone of my life a place where yes, there were stresses (as I have learned getting a paper out is not easy), but similarly to tennis, there were also successes. There are two more thoughts that I would like to share. The first is a thank you to those who have made the roller coaster that is high school a little bit less bumpy. And now for what I guess I would call my final takeaway: every morning in my set three AP Latin class, as the announcements blared, my bleary eyes would drift over to a poster that read “every day may not be good but there is something good in everyday.” In writing this reflection I’ve realized how true this is not just on a daily basis, but also throughout my entire high school experience. To be honest, I don’t know if I would characterize my time at LM as “good” (though certainly it wasn’t bad), but there was an incredible amount of “good” within it. My hope is that every experience that everyone has is good, but one of the invaluable lessons that high school has taught me is to find the meaningful parts of everything. I do, and I urge you, seniors, underclassmen, and anyone else who might be reading this to do the same.

Staring at the empty word document meant to hold my senior reflection, I’m struck with, as my friend Nina likes to call it,“blank page syndrome.” It’s five days after the deadline for the reflection, and I have yet to begin putting my senior year nostalgia into words. Sorry new management! I remember being in the same position as you one year ago, anxiously awaiting the emails from graduating seniors with their articles while simultaneously cursing their senioritis. I never thought I’d be nostalgic for those days, but here I am. Over the last nine months, we seniors have faced a series of bittersweet lasts—last sports season, last Radnor Week, last basketball game, and last club meetings. As I reflect on all of the things I’ve done with a smile, a nagging part of my brain still points out the things I haven’t: the regrets, the missed opportunities, the dodged conversations, and the lost friendships. While writing my last piece for The Merionite, I think of my contributions over the years: articles for News, Features, Arts & Entertainment, and Sports, but never once for Op-Ed. Looking back, it wasn’t a lack of opinion that caused me to avoid writing for the section. In fact, every issue, I shared my idea for an Opinions piece to all who would listen in Room 200A, planning out the way in which the thoughts and rants I had gathered over the previous month would come to fruition. Yet, every issue, I never

followed through, never put my opinions on paper. I could say it was because I didn’t have the time or the energy—after all, the academic and extracurricular commitments I got myself into were pretty time-consuming. But, in all honesty, I just didn’t want to step outside of my comfort zone or face the judgments of the entire student body. I wasn’t comfortable enough to put my opinion in front of an audience, preferring instead to shelter myself in the unopinionated world of news reporting, a decision I regret now. Unlike my many regrets, where the solutions lie solely in the past, I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to remedy my former fear of printing my opinion in this 600-word reflection. Naturally, I thought long and hard about what my final words would be—do I write a biting monologue on the unhealthy messages of a recently released TV show? A thoughtful piece on the growing inclusivity of the LM community? A conflicted article on the strengths and weaknesses of social media debates? Ultimately, I settled on none of the above. None of those topics felt like an appropriate conclusion to my senior reflection. Instead, I decided, what would be more fitting to discuss in a piece about looking back on regrets, than the subject of regret itself? Common wisdom tells us not to dwell on regrets, to move past the opportunities you never had with the courage to pursue and make decisions you wish you had the foresight to refuse. Although I definitely don’t recommend wallowing in the past, I believe it’s important to acknowledge and learn from your regrets. Why do you regret it? How can you prevent a similar regret in the future? Moving forward into adulthood, we’re closing a thirteen-year-long chapter of our lives that consists of everything from memories we cherish to cringe worthy moments we hope to forget. While you should absolutely hold on tightly to the experiences you did have, you should also remember and grow from the things you wished you did. I know that I’m going to keep in mind the opinions I wanted to write about in high school and work toward sharing them in the future. So, don’t just move forward in spite of your regrets, but rather with the knowledge you’ve gained from them.

(From left to right) Burde, Jonnalagadda, and Dumitrescu

Sensitivity over competition Isabella Dumitrescu Managing Editor

I’d like to thank the entire Class of 2017 for four fantastic years. Yes, that’s cheesy, but genuinely, all of you shined bright in one way or another each day. Whether you were a new student this year or have been alongside us since preschool, you were a pretty cool person to be stuck with seven plus hours a day. We, as a grade, somehow became involved in seemingly everything our school had to offer. We made sure to infuse every aspect of LM culture with our unique talents and passions to leave a lasting mark. Despite our creativity, ambition, dedication, and inclusivity, however, we are not perfect. We have to become more sensitive. This became painfully clear to me during my senior year. None of us know the circumstances that lead to the future of our peers. The decisions to attend college and of which college to attend is highly personal, whether it is affected by family matters, financial limitations, or even the best fit of education. I spent four years of high school hearing people discuss some aspect of college admissions every single day. As an overly excited freshman, I too would make conversation about who got into the Ivies. Yet this past fall, as early decisions were released, I gained an entirely new perspective. I comforted friends when snide comments were made about who did and didn’t get into a school and watched classmates hide their pain as people dismissed possible reasons for rejection besides “not being good enough.” As my friends struggled with rejections from the colleges they’d idolized, other kids would pile on greater shame and disappointment without even realizing their impact. It was equally difficult for me when I finally received my first acceptance letter and my

relief and excitement were met with an “Oh, everyone got in there.” I was lucky to earn a great scholarship and become really happy with a school that I intended to have as my “safety,” but not everyone has that luxury. Our grade left Bala Cynwyd, Welsh Valley, and other middle schools as nervous pre-teens, made entirely new connections in high school, sweat through junior year together, and can now reminisce over every single one of these collective memories. To have those bonds challenged by ACT scores, GPA rankings, and fat envelopes are truly sad. As my little sister will become a freshman this fall, I cannot wait for her to stand in the highest row of the Dawg Pound and cheer her heart out. I can’t wait for her to learn from my amazing teachers and for her to feel the bonding and dedication experienced through team sports as well as the interesting clubs that have deeply inspired me. But I sincerely hope that she doesn’t have to cringe as she opens PowerSchool, knowing that someone may be peering over her shoulder. I would really love for her to feel support through the increasingly difficult admissions process from not only a group of close friends, as I feel incredibly grateful to have had, but from the other peers she has grown up with as well. For the graduating class, it’s too late to return to each college conversation and restrain ourselves. But for the younger students soon to fill our shoes, take time to breathe air unsaturated by admissions. Enjoy interacting with your peers and learn from those with strengths that differ from your own. LM can foster a competitive environment, but as our grade already attempted, try your very best to view each other as people worthy of support and comradery.


June 5, 2017


The Merionite

Find your people

The Merionite Official newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929 Columbia Scholastic Press Assocation Silver Crown 2013 Editors-in-Chief Dora Nathans ’18 Sophie Roling ’18

Senior Innovation Editor Michael Cheng ’18 News Editors Molly Cutler ’19 Julia Rappaport ’18 Kathy Yao ’18

Lisa Shore Valedictorian From kindergarten through eighth grade, I went to a private Quaker school with fifty students in each grade. My classes always had fifteen to twenty students, and I knew everyone in my grade, even the whole school, really well. My decision to transfer to LM is kind of foggy in my mind; I just remember that I didn’t want

Features Editors Molly Kaiser ’18 Catherine McFarland ’18 Julia Rosen ’18 Arts & Entertainment Editors Minori Cohan ’18 Claire Ochroch ’18 Grace Wei ’19 Sports Editors Julian Ginzburg ’19 Zach Simons ’18 Zack Slogoff ’18 Copy Editors Benjamin Schmid ’19 Caroline Spencer ’18 Ziwen Zhou ’19 Graphics Editors Christopher De Santis ’20 Sihan Wu ’19 Web Editor Jake Gurevitch ’18 Business Manager Eric Bell ’18 Advisor Charles Henneberry

Jessie Epstein Student Body President A lot changes in high school. For me, I went from a mascara-wearing, saxophone-playing, jean shorts enthusiast to a girl who prefers theater games over a G-scale and would rather sleep the extra ten minutes and roll up to school in a t-shirt and sneakers than ever again suffer through the pain of jean shorts. But while my appearance, classes, and extracurriculars have changed drastically over these four years, there is a significant part of my life that barely shifted at all: my friends. Seriously. I pick up one of my

best friends for lunch dates at the same house where our first grade class had water ice parties. I routinely complain about dumb boy drama to my pre-school partner in crime. I dominated the dance floor at prom with my date who just so happened to be my fifth grade boyfriend. Going into middle school and then high school, I was positive that this could never happen. All I heard were horror stories about girls turning on each other, and I figured that losing friends was an inevitable part of growing up. Instead, my friends have been my rocks since day one and have never failed me.

People say that they make their forever friends in college, but I already found mine.

We have all figured out by now that high school was not easy. The overload of work mixed with the obligations of extracurricular activities and the tensions of growing up were overwhelming to say the least. At times, you are certain that every college will hate you, that you will literally die if you

don’t sleep immediately, or that the terrible drama with your crush surely means that a meteor will soon crash into Earth and everything will explode. I have had my fair share of those moments, and every single time, without fail, my friends jumped to the rescue. I could always count on a phone call, an offer to make me breakfast, or a surprise visit with a board game and art project in hand. But they weren’t only there for the hard times—they were there all of the time. When I wanted to try something nutty, like running for school president or declaring my love to a player from the sidelines of a basketball game (*cough, Jack Forrest, cough*), I found myself with a stellar campaign team and a group of girls yelling from the bleachers with me. High school was hard. High school was filled with a lot of emotions. But the entire time, I had best friends of twelve plus years dancing too enthusiastically in public, answering my calls at 2:00 a.m., and laughing to the point of tears at jokes at which nobody else would even crack a smile. People say that they make their forever friends in college, but I already found mine. I mean, if they stuck with me during my no-teeth phase, nothing can derail us now.

Four years of discovery

Assistant Advisor Laura Steibitz Business Advisor Sean P. Flynn, Esq. The editors believe all facts presented in the newspaper to be accurate. The paper acknowledges that mistakes are possible and welcomes questions as to accuracy. Inquiries regarding accuracy should be directed to the editors of the paper. Editors can be contacted via e-mail at merionite@ or in Room 200A. To represent all viewpoints in the school community, The Merionite welcomes all letters to the editor. Letters can be sent via e-mail or dropped off outside the Merionite office. The Merionite reserves the right to edit letters to the editor for length or clarity. All unattributed images are

better than being stuck with fifty kids you’ve known your entire life. This experience has forced me to talk to people I’d never thought I would be brave enough to talk to and also to make friends who I really connect with. I’ve also found the wonderful community of ultimate frisbee and could not picture my life without it. I found a sport and teammates that really fit me and such a welcoming and friendly team dynamic. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play this sport and become close friends with people of all grade levels. When I entered this school almost four years ago, I was a scared fourteen-year-old with no idea what awaited me. I had kind of left behind my middle school friends, but was also hanging onto them, not knowing if I even had the ability to make new friends. Now, I’m leaving LM as much more of the person I want to be with amazing people who I will hopefully stay connected with as we all move on from here. I will always be so glad I made the decision to go to LM.

Friends forever

Opinions Editors Andres Bermudez ’19 Caleb Shack ’19 Kelsey Stanton ’18

Managing Editor Nisha Arya ’18

sports requirements, that I wanted to walk to school, and that my closest friends were also switching schools. I also remember being totally freaked out my first day here and eating pizza with my brother during every lunch for the first week. The transition was surprisingly smooth. Everyone was so friendly and equally freaked out since we were all freshmen at a new school. I quickly grew to love this place and have never regretted my decision to transfer here. In fact, I think it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve found friends who fit me so much better than my middle school friends did, and I’m really becoming the person I want to be. LM is so much closer to being truly reflective of the world than my old school ever could have been. There are so many different kinds of people here who present varying talents and ideas and who make for such an interesting high school experience. I thought going to a school with such a huge student body would be terrifying, but at least for me, it’s so much

Katherine Villarian Salutatorian In all my four years at LM, one of the coolest things I have been able to witness is my peers beginning to find themselves. In middle school, kids are too busy trying to do what they think they are supposed to. This issue still exists in high school, but some people start to break away. At LM, we are privileged to have so many clubs available that everyone can find the

combination of activities that defines them. It has been interesting to watch people join clubs and teams and find families within them. Many people came into high school uncertain of what they wanted to do here, but they found a place in their activities. Maybe that was on a sports team, the jazz band, or in the art department. Maybe it was orating in Mock Trial, performing in Players, or cheering our sports teams on as an engaged member of the Dawg Pound. Maybe it was writing for The Merionite, competing in Science Olympiad, or singing in a cappella. Or maybe, just maybe, it was some beautiful combination of these things. On numerous occasions, we accepted leadership roles within these groups because we realized how passionate we are or how much we wanted to create change within them. As we found our place in clubs and groups, we realized that we have control over the direction we take our lives in. It is an amazing discovery during adolescence–we are a sum of our talents, passions, and strengths. Our interests are the things that will guide

our futures. As we gain confidence in the things we do, we gain confidence in who we are as people. We gain confidence in our diversity. We gain confidence in our voice. One of the moments I recognized this was during my junior year AP Language class with the recently retired Dr. McWilliams. We frequently had student-driven discussions, and for that I am grateful. Although students disagreed on numerous occasions, our conversations explored topics that were not commonly mentioned in school. The result was that I began to feel comfortable in exploring my opinions and ideas. In high school, I started to realize that I do not have to agree with the things I am taught to believe. I have grown into an individual with my own beliefs, ideas, and voice. The best part is that I am still growing. We are all still growing. We do not have to do the things we used to do or be the people we used to be in high school. I hope people continue to break away from the norm and do things that make them genuinely happy. Our narratives are only beginning.

CORRECTION for the May 24, 2017 issue: Special Feature: There were 234 total students who answered the survey through the Aces Nation Facebook group. Only students who answered “yes” to “Have you ever smoked weed?” were prompted to answer the questions “Have you ever faced legal consequences due to smoking weed?”, “Have you ever come to school high?”, “Do your parents know you smoke weed?”, and “How often do you smoke weed?” We apologize if the statistics in the graphics may have caused confusion.



June 5, 2017

The Merionite

Get on your way! Congratulations! Today is your day! Have your iPhone charged up, And get on your way.

Your failures are yours— just like your successes

William Hawkins Math

Go get any degree you’ve been hoping to get, Just forget the insurmountable debt. You have Google to look up any answer you need. With Alexa in tow, why even read? Kid, you will ace those exams. “Except when you don’t because sometimes you won’t.” There will be times when you run into trouble, Or some bubble burster keeps bursting your bubble. You will push on, though your battery is low, Yes, you will keep browsing, though the internet is slow. You’ll get bummed because no one bothered to look At your Instagram pic or your post on Facebook. And maybe your sorrows will go deeper than that: Losing touch with old friends, the death of your cat. When these awful things happen, you won’t leave your dorm You’ll plop on your futon and take Netflix by storm. And in those dark times, just maybe you’ll see Your phone has this one app that’s totally free. You’ll punch in this magical 10-digit code, And your parents will answer! #headexplode Your parents’ advice will be just what you need. You’ll shut down your phone and feel totally freed. You’ll escape from the dark place and regain the lead! You might drive across the country or discover new science, Or escape to the woods and appreciate silence. You’ll learn that you never quite felt so alone As those days gone by when you lived in your phone. Then you’ll turn it back on, let friends know you’re alive. Use it when needed—just don’t text and drive! So be your name Simone Burde or Nina McKay, Or Deepika Jonnalagadda or Naveen Gooneratne, “You’re off to Great Places Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting So…get on your way!”

Nina McKay Opinions Editor Throughout my thirteen years as a student in LMSD, I have often heard teachers, principals, guidance counselors, coaches, and guest speakers stress the importance of perseverance in the face of failure. Posters bearing mottos like, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and, “you miss 100% of the shots you never take” decorated the walls of my classrooms, and at some surface level, my younger self understood that failure was something inevitable that should not prevent me from taking risks and challenging myself. But honestly, I never encountered much in the way of failure as an elementary schooler. Grades didn’t really matter, misunderstandings with friends were forgotten by the end of recess each day, and my parents gave me less responsibility than they do now. I knew that I was supposed to pick myself up if I fell, but a voice in the back of my

I progressed from “ Asa fourteen-year-old

freshman to an eighteen-year-old senior, my academic, extracurricular, and personal responsibilities multiplied, and my life became a balancing act...

mind was always there to reassure me that I wouldn’t really have to take responsibility all on my own for any mess I inadvertently created; an adult would always be there to pick up the pieces if they were too big for me to handle. In high school, however, failure became a reality. As I progressed from a fourteen-yearold freshman to an eighteen-year-old senior, my academic, extracurricular, and personal responsibilities multiplied, and my life became a balancing act that will only grow more complicated as I continue to progress into adulthood. As my school, community, friends, and family began to expect more of me as a young adult,

failure became inevitable. My afternoons and evenings became tightly packed with extracurricular activities and schoolwork, and any unforeseen obstacle could throw the whole thing out of balance. If a friend was going through a rough time, a three-hour FaceTime conversation with them would leave me with less time for work and sleep, leading to a lower grade on a test taken or assignment due the next day. It could often feel like I was treading water, trying to inhabit every role I’d taken on. Most of the time, when I would fail to fulfill a responsibility, it wasn’t for lack of trying; rather, I simply would not have enough time to get everything done. But I’d chosen the classes I’d take, the friends I’d have, and the leadership roles I’d take on, so every failure, even accidental, was

began to understand “Iwhy adults had felt the

need to advise me to persevere in the face of failure throughout my childhood: failure feels really bad.

my responsibility. The more responsibility I had, the worse failure felt, because I felt like I was letting down a greater number of people. I began to understand why adults had felt the need to advise me to persevere in the face of failure throughout my childhood: failure feels really bad. The older I got, the more responsibility I had to take for each failure, and I knew that would only continue into adulthood. At the same time, however, the older I became and the more responsibility I took on, the better each of my successes felt. Given the increasing number of variables I had to balance, each strong friendship, each successful club event, and each high test grade felt increasingly satisfying. As I gained more independence, while I did have to completely take responsibility for my failures, I was able to take a greater responsibility for my successes as well. As I began to get the hang of the balancing act of adolescence and young adulthood, I learned to relish in the moments of success and push through the moments of failure, even when they momentarily felt insurmountable. Failure will always be a possibility and frequently a reality throughout our adult lives, but if we remember that the acute feeling of failure will inevitably pass, we can do our best to learn from each difficult moment and focus on the increasing value of the good parts of our lives.

Find what’s real Not everyone thrived within the LM microcosm. The constant peer pressure to take more AP classes and cram your schedule with extracurriculars throbs throughout the building. You can feel the stress and anxiety the second you walk into the Learning Center, yet under these conditions some Molly Gonzales Arts & Entertainment choose to play the game. They skip school during Editor tests in order to get the questions from their friends and find essays online to hand in. They have 5.0 GPAs, but don’t know how a washing machine works and have never worked a job in their life. This dystopian high school provided us with the building blocks for a successful future, but it also created a warped allusion of what success looks like. Those who excel in core subjects and guys who can score points with a ball are celebrated. A girl can

write and publish a book and nobody will even know. However, the second a men’s sports team wins anything, we make posters and signs until our fingers bleed (this is actually true). Fitting the cookie cutter mold with good grades, prominent athleticism, and interest in a few clubs makes you an admirable Ace. For this, I genuinely congratulate all those who won the game in that arena, if that made them happy! The game is not limited to academia. I don’t want to give the baby boomers any credit (I mean, come on, they faked the moon landing), but our generation’s social media usage is absurd. One element to the game that I find most stressful is the “let’s see how cool I can make myself appear online” part. I remember last year I went to a party and didn’t post on my Snapchat. How else would anyone know how much of a cool social youth I am? I wasted so much time making my life a public display, editing my Instagram so the filter matched my aesthaetic just right, staging my life on Snapchat so it appeared more fun. Being happy is not a competition, although we all make it appear that way on social media. I am not any happier in my life with 200 likes on a picture than I am with ten.

I am also excited for everyone who didn’t play the game where you see how much time you can fill with clubs and activities you don’t care about and classes that make you cry, but will eventually give you the acceptance letter you crave. I am excited for the people who have found the library to be the cafeteria from Mean Girls and the SATs to be a scam. I’m so excited for everyone, myself included, who do not consider high school to be the best four years of their lives, and the people who have spent their time outlining and planning for their futures, the art they will produce, the people they will meet, the places they will travel. Some will continue to play the game. Some never played the game and will go on next year to produce art or in general be a success, while others are in the hazy period of deciding whether or not to continue the game. Don’t get me wrong, I played the game. I played it so hard. I straightened my hair every day in middle school and took AP statistics! I’m glad I lost the game, however. I tried on a lot of hats over the past four years and will continue to try on more! Putting all of this aside, though, I am excited for everybody’s futures, whether they are working, studying, traveling, or just chilling.


June 5, 2017


The Merionite

New Horizons Twenty-two years–one third of my life–have been spent here, working at LM. I will be graduating in June, alongside the rest of the Class of 2017. There will be no ceremony, no tasseled hats will be tossed in the air, and no exultant shouts will echo through the halls. During my years at LM, the Writing Center became the Help Center which, in turn, became the Learning Center. From the outset, my job was to assist students with writing. There were no laptops and the room was lined with desktop computers. When laptops arrived, student needs changed. The quilt that hangs on the wall outside my door accurately describes the purpose of the room. Soryl Angel My goal was to assist students and faculty. I Learning Center hope that I was successful in encouraging some of you to be confident, strong and discouraged others from giving up. My first teaching job was in a small (250 students), alternative high school in Toronto in 1975. Seniors were eighteen years old and I was 22. It was surprising to me that these teenagers found anything I said to be credible, but they did, and some have maintained contact with me over these years. There were breaks in my education career, but somehow, after stints in two other countries, I ended up in Ardmore. The excellent public schools were the lure, but the people in the community became the anchor. Who could have known that what started out as the best educational opportunity for my children would evolve into a 22-year career for me? The decision to retire was not an easy one for me. I cherish the people alongside whom I have worked. They have helped me adjust to life in the USA, to raise

and educate my children, to laugh loudly and frequently, to recover from injury and over the last 6 years to face the most difficult challenge of my life. “Why now?” many have asked. Just as seniors are grappling with what lies ahead, I, too, am questioning what my next act will be. The script is a work in progress. The stack of unread books on my desk has been growing, the collection of textiles waiting to take the form of quilts is calling to me and there are songs to be sung. My grandchildren and their parents, moving to faraway places, require this grandmother in their lives, and I celebrate the prospect and privilege of participating in their upbringing.

Just as seniors are grappling with what lies ahead, I, too, am questioning what my next act will be. The script is a work in progress.

It’s great to be in Aces Nation I moved from Philly to Ardmore, where I began LM as a sophomore. Everything was very new to me. I didn’t know anyone except my brother, who was a freshman at the time. It was hard to make friends since friend groups and cliques were Noble Shrestha already being esSpirit Head tablished. It was a whole new experience for me, but I was ready to accept the challenge of finding my place here at LM. My first opportunity to assimilate was through the LM ultimate frisbee team. My brother told me about a Frisbee team here at LM, and I was very intrigued by the sound of this new sport, so I decided to give it a shot. The sport has stuck with me since the very first practice. I got to meet many kind, supporting, and motivational people along the way. Fast forward two years later; we won the 2016 PA State Championship by defeating our rival Pennsbury. It was a moment I’ll cherish forever because I got to spend time

Although I look forward to disabling the alarm on my clock radio, it will be strange to begin each day without the greetings from all the other early arrivals who inhabit the halls at LM. I will miss the students who return my smiles and rarely leave my classroom without a thank you or a wish for a good day or evening. When people ask how I have been able to work with teenagers for over 40 years, my response is that I cannot imagine any other kind of work. Life in high school is never dull. In fact, life in general is rarely dull. As you depart on your next great adventure, you will be faced with reinventing yourselves –at colleges, in the workplace, in foreign lands. You will be flying solo for a little while but soon enough you will forge new friendships, discover yet unknown interests and realize that you are prepared to face the challenges ahead. That’s my plan. We can all do it.

with my best friends and win LM’s first state title in eleven years since the foundation of the team. My senior year, I had the opportunity to be a spirit head and lead the Dawg Pound, a position that I’ll never forget. I had the honor of leading the Dawg Pound cheers with Max Kalan, Sarah Lipson, Morgan Naiberg, and Quinn Scanlon all the way to the Central League Championship. It was one heck of a ride, something I will look back on and say that I was a part of something that makes LM so unique and great: its rich tradition of having each other’s back. One of the best moments that I remember was taking down Central Bucks East at home. The Dawg Pound was filled to the max. Stands and stairs were packed and I could barely even get into the front row of stands where I usually sit. I remember Noah Fennell hitting a three right in front of me to send the game into overtime with the Dawg Pound erupting in cheers and screaming “I believe” once more at the start of overtime. LM would go on to win the game with the support of the craziest, loudest, and fanatical student section ever, something I will dearly miss. To conclude, my time at LM was special and I’m going to miss it. I made a lot of friends and had a fun time as well. From winning a state championship to going on to become a spirit head and leading the best fan section ever to the Central League title, there is no other way I would have wanted to end my high school career.

Be passionate

Heather Van Horn Special Education The greatest lesson I’ve learned in life that I’d like to pass on to you is to always follow your passions regardless of how others feel about them. If you are always doing what you love, then you are on the right path. High school is an amazing path, but is not the end. It is only the beginning of what you will do with your life. I feel honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of your lifelong journey. Try to remember all the good things, and keep in mind the lessons you learn along the way. I look forward to hearing about where your journey takes you and all the good things you do. All my best.

Overcoming fear I’ve had a fair share of accomplishments throughout my life. Musically, academically, or athletically—I’ve felt no shortage of opportunities to celebrate my personal abilities, with medals, trophies, and a good deal of cash as proof. Olin Wei But in the end, I’m still not satisfied. When looking at myself in the mirror, all I can focus on are the flaws I feel a compulsion to fix. The little dents and scratches

infuriatingly stuck on my person. The ones so persistently fastened that, at times, it seems there is no fix but to throw everything away and start over. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes throughout my life as well, and I expect to make a good deal more. Making the wrong leaps, putting faith in the wrong things, acting on the wrong decisions; at times, it could get overwhelming. Because for every one way to do something right, there always seems to be a million ways to do it wrong. I remember being asked what my biggest fear was and not being able to give an answer. Walking up the stairs of a 485-foot tall radio telescope, I had marveled at the lush landscape below me, so height wasn’t it. Going up on stage has become second nature to me after thirteen years of performance. And spiders have been nuisances that pop up every once in a while and never really some source of mind-numbing fear. Looking back on these statements however,

my greatest fear becomes quite obvious. The one thing that leaves me sheltered for days on end, panicked and paralyzed by indecision: the fear of failure, specifically, of making the wrong choice and not being able to fix it. Then again, that one episode of SpongeBob with the Hash Slinging Slasher definitely kept me up at night for a while. But there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with making a new decision and remembering exactly what not to do. As a chronic overthinker, it helps to have one less option to consider. What helps as well is being in a place where mistakes are opportunities to grow. Where there’s always a chance to try new classes, new activities and new people. Where opportunities are given to those who take the time to find them. Where there’s always someone to help you pick yourself back up. Where no matter how far you fall, there’s never a need to stop dreaming bigger. That is what I will remember about LM.

LM Matriculation 20 Jordan Adler Amari Aiken Miko Allen Kader Arnold Kevin Aspesi Melanie Auerbach Caroline Baker Daniel Barcliff Lucas Barton Mackenzie Beckman Leah Bedenko Sarah Beller-Grossman Sumner Benway Cristina Bermudez Elias Bickel Khadafy Bilal Isabelle Bitton Michael Blackman Kendaya Blackwell Andreas Blobel Evan Block Mia Bollmann Alisa Borisovsky Ethan Boyer Brian Brannau Neve Brennan Hannah Bressi Zoe Bright Jermaine Brokenborough Andersen Brown Jasmin Brown Julia Brown Samantha Bruttomesso-Clarke Alexa Bucciarelli Ariana Bucciarelli Simone Burde James Burton Journey Byland Romani Campbell Marielena Caporaletti Nicholas Carlin Sarah Carstens Havard Castiglioni Whitmaur Castiglioni Randall Cheloha Matthew Chen Kam Ting Chiu Samantha Chmara Markus Christopher Robert Chukinas Brien Coghlan Zeve Cohen Alain Constantino Jack Cooke Rashon Cooke Sylvia Coopersmith Alexa Cotler William Cypress Isaac Czarkowski Elizabeth D’Alonzo Emma D’Alonzo Matthew D’Aquila Alexis DaCosta-Williams Alliyah Dade Katie Dai Esen Daldal Katelyn Dang Sorrell Daouphars Jonathan Deleon Ye Dong Isabella Dumitrescu Michael Dunaief Katie Durante Henry Dyer Devlin Eckardt Amara Eke Liam Elwood Benjamin Epstein Jessica Epstein Jarod Estacio Lynda Faller Austin Farinella Matteo Favaro Artaezeyah Felder

Pennsylvania State University Wake Forest University Unavailable Unavailable Lehigh University Drexel University American University Gap year Swarthmore College Temple University Unavailable University of Wisconsin, Madison Unavailable Yale University Unavailable Unavailable Philadelphia University Unavailable Unavailable University of Pittsburgh University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania State University University of Pittsburgh University of Pennsylvania Unavailable Dickinson College University of Wisconsin, Madison Unavailable Unavailable Continuing education at LM University of Pittsburgh Chapel Haven East Stroudsburg University Drexel University Continuing education at LM University of Pennsylvania Widener University University of California, Davis Unavailable Continuing education at LM Unavailable University of Wisconsin, Madison Entering the workforce Illinois Institute of Technology Pennsylvania State University Case Western Reserve University Drexel University University of Delaware Unavailable Unavailable Temple University Unavailable Unavailable University of Pittsburgh Delaware Valley University New York University University of Colorado, Boulder University of Arizona La Salle University Pennsylvania State University University of Pittsburgh Middlebury College Entering the workforce Unavailable Georgia Institute of Technology University of Pennsylvania Temple University University of Rhode Island Montgomery County Community College University of Pennsylvania Drexel University Berklee College of Music Eckerd College Pennsylvania State University Temple University Pennsylvania State University Unavailable University of Pennsylvania Davidson College Hamilton College University of Glasgow Pennsylvania State University Unavailable Pace University

Noah Fennell Matthew Fesshaye Rutger Fickenscher Emily Fine Lia Finkelstein Nina Finkle Jacqueline Fiore Alex Fischer Elizabeth Fleming Andrew Fnu Emily Fogel Eleanor Gaddy Lillian Gallagher Sophia Gallagher Samuel Gamberg Elizabeth Ganon Hallie Garton Andrew Gaudio Kate Genzer Ted Getselman Anila Ghosh Liana Giangiulio Adam Gingold Alexandra Ginsburg Miriam Glickman Sophia Goldstein Alexander Golland Emily Goniea Mary Gonzales Carmen Gonzalez-Recober Naveen Gooneratne Alexandra Gordon Kelia Grandison Hale Greenwood Everhett Grimes Ahmad Hall Iyona Hansen Emily Harnett Kelly Harrigan Evan Hassman Elizabeth Hazard Janey Hecht Kailee Heller Michelle Herzberg Joshua Hetzelson Kerian Hill Jonathan Hirsch Paul Ho Sarah Hoffman Sophie Hoffman Isaiah Holquist Erica Holte Ori Holtzman Richy Hu Shenqi Hu David Hughes Molly Hughes Alexandra Hummel Alexander Hurowitz Gabriele Imbiscuso Giorgio Imbiscuso Maya Itkin-Ofer Michaela Jackson Sebastian Jenkins Kirsten Jones Rabia Jones Terrell Jones Deepika Jonnalagadda Nicholas Juliani Maxwell Kalan Etienne Kambara Sarah Kane Bradley Kaplan Ellis Kelsey Blaise Kesler Mackenzie King Mariko Kishimoto Jordan Kligman Dylan Knudsen Nina Kochanowicz Maxwell Koerner Haley Kofsky Gabriel Krotkov Phoebe Kwok

New York University Unavailable Community College San Diego State University Loyola University Maryland Tulane University University of Pittsburgh Entering the workforce Drexel University Pennsylvania State University University of Pittsburgh Case Western Reserve University Unavailable Unavailable The New School Unavailable University of Wisconsin, Madison Unavailable Skidmore College The George Washington University Unavailable Boston University School of Theatre University of Pittsburgh Cornell University University of Pennsylvania Temple University Unavailable New York University University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania State University Connecticut College Drexel University Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania State University Indiana University Pennsylvania State University Shippensburg University of Pennyslvania Emerson College College of William & Mary Harvey Mudd College Tyler School of Art Bard College Pace University University of Pittsburgh Elon University Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable West Chester University University of Michigan University of Chicago Unavailable Boston University Temple University University of Pennsylvania Unavailable University of Pittsburgh Bowdoin College Unavailable Albright College Montgomery County Community College Gap year, Univeristy of Pennsylvania ’22 Hofstra University Franklin & Marshall College Unavailable Unavailable La Salle University Georgetown University Continuing education at LM Southern Methodist University Temple University Brandeis University Brandeis University Temple University University of Pittsburgh Gap year, Temple University ’22 Brown University Unavailable University of Vermont University of Pittsburgh Georgia Institute of Technology Emory University Carnegie Mellon University Continuing education at LM

Florence Kyomuhendo Majd Labbad Maya Laincz Brandon Lancaster Jordan Lancaster Isabella Lebow Brendan Leonard Dion Lewis Weitao Li Julie Lichtenstein Sarah Lipson Benjamin Loeb Samson Love Maria Maguire Adriana Maradiaga-Portillo Isabelle Margulies Amelia Marx Sarah May Max Mazo Naiya McClay Ryan McCormack Dillon McHenry Hunter McHenry Nina McKay Brigid McKee Yaseer McKethan Aidan Meeks David Mei Luke Miani Leonard Miller Tani Molder Riyo Moore Katherine Mora Alex Moureaud Samaiyah Muhammad Emily Murphy Morgan Naiberg Olivia Nealy Theodore Neckowicz Adam Neubauer Jacob Nibauer Lily Niles Barrett Noone Grace Normile David Novacich Anne O’Connor James O’Connor David O’Keefe Marika Olijar Chinedu Omeogu Sydney Orloff Leah Owen-Oliner Rebecca Park Roxanna Pasquier William Patterson Lyric Paul Jake Pavlow Jack Pearson Carly Petroff Elliot Phillips Alex Pierce Lucille Pitock Michaela Pliskin Alyssa Pollock Erez Potok-Holmes Madeline Potter Kylie Pressley Derrick Pringle Baylor Raffensperger Madeline Ragsdale Michael Ramgoolie Joshua Ren Julia Riesenbach Finn Roberts Jordan Robinson Kristian Robinson Maxwell Roling Cecily Rosenbaum Aaron Rosenzweig Vanessa Roser Jillian Rothstein Noah Rubin Laura Ruckenstein Sean Ryan

017: Go Forth To Serve... Unavailable Unavailable Oregon State University George Mason University Syracuse Univeristy University of New Hampshire Pennsylvania State University Unavailable Iowa State University Unavailable Wake Forest University Rutgers University Univeristy of Pittsburgh Univeristy of Delaware Unavailable Macalester College University of Pittsburgh Tulane University University of California, Los Angeles Unavailable Temple University Unavailable Ithaca College Bowdoin College Temple University Unavailable Unavailable University of Pennsylvania American University Gap year, University of Michigan ’22 Hofstra University American University Pennsylvania State University Clarkson University Unavailable Temple University Queens University Unavailable University of Pittsburgh Unavailable University of Pennsylvania West Chester University Dartmouth College Clemson University University of Alabama University of Colorado, Boulder Unavailable Indiana University of Pennsylvania University of Pittsburgh Unavailable University of Maryland Swarthmore College Unavailable Barnard College Unavailable Unavailable Undecided Unavailable Albright College University of Vermont Union College Temple University Boston University Israel Defense Forces University of Southern California Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable University of Pennsylvania University of Miami University of Wisconsin Cornell University Unavailable University of Pennsylvania Bard College University of Pittsburgh Harvard University Colorado School of Mines Penn State University- Schreyer Gap year, University of Pittsburgh ’22 Lehigh University

Som Safavi Siani Salamo Luca Saleh Kyle Salutric Joseph Salzer Christian Sanchez Laci Sanders Khayla Saunders Quinn Scanlon Leona Scheer Oren Schillinger Catherine Schnarr William Schwab Jordyn Schwartz Samantha Scimeca Sophia Seligsohn Audy Serrano Guevara Aryana Shah Daniel Shapiro Nolan Shapiro Alvaro Shayegan Elad Shdaimah Colin Shea Raz Shermister Lisa Shore Moritz Shore Noble Shrestha Hannah Si Paige Silver Jacob Simms Walker Simpson Nathan Sinai David Smith Christopher Sosnowski Hannah Spector Julius Starkey Amanda Steinberg Mary Stellato Amanda Stutman Robert Sudler-Norton Alexis Sutton Daniel Swatski Erin Swisher Cameryn Tabb Madelena Taverno Samantha Tepper Milton Thomas Jesse Thornton Tiffany Tian Ryan Tillmann Zachary Tocker Maya Toib Aidan Trainer Amanda Trautmann Daniel Tsai Konstantinos Tsokas Malik Urena Nolan Urteaga Julia Utkus Matthew Valente Liliana Velasquez Thibault Vernier Katherine Villarin David Vonderheide Shaela Wade Najja Walker-X Avi Warren Kirill Washington Tess Weber Olin Wei Henry Weinrieb Kayla Weinstein Zachary Weinstein Zachary Weitz Jeremy Wertkin Rebecca White Robert Wilson Sarah Wilson-Leslie Sam Woerdeman Holly Yu Beza Zenebe Zhigang Zeng Jeffrey Zhou

St. Francis University Unavailable Florida Institute of Technology James Madison University Temple University Unavailable Montgomery County Community College Tuskegee University University of Pittsburgh University of Delaware Pennsylvania State University Gettysburg College Tulane University Dickinson College Pennsylvania State University Colgate University Unavailable Philadelphia University Unavailable Middlebury College Unavailable Gap year, University of Maryland ’22 Dickinson College Israel Defense Forces Smith College Technical University of Berlin Pennsylvania State University, Abington Cornell University University of Maryland Entering the workforce Unavailable Brown University Franklin & Marhall College Pennsylvania State University Kenyon College San Antonio College University of Maryland Purdue University University of Delaware Unavailable University of Alabama Unavailable Elon University Temple University Cabrini University Pennsylvania State University La Salle University University of North Carolina, Wilmington Emory University Bowdoin College Unavailable Gap year, Northeastern University ’22 Unavailable Unavailable Duke University Unavailable Entering the workforce Unavailable Bucknell University Community College Montgomery County Community College Swarthmore College Syracuse University Dartmouth College Unavailable Unavailable Neumann University Pace University Pennsylvania State University Georgia Institute of Technology Unavailable Gap year Unavailable Unavailable University of Pittsburgh Unavailable Montgomery County Community College Philadelphia University Case Western Reserve University University of Richmond Northeastern University Pennsylvania State University University of Pittsburgh

The matriculation plans as shown for the Class of 2017 are information volunteered to The Merionite by the members of the graduating class. The Merionite or LM is not responsible for the accuracy of their reportings. Those students listed as “Unavailable” opted not to respond or were otherwise unable to be reached. The Merionite wishes our graduating seniors the best of luck in their future endeavors.

8 June 5, 2017

Matriculation The Merionite

Advice from an alumnus As an alumnus of LM and a teacher at this incredible school, I have two perspectives to offer you, Class of 2017. When I attended LM as a student many (and I mean many) years ago, I remember approaching graduation with two major concerns: Am I prepared for the next phase of my life? Will I be able to withstand the pressures of college? For me, that next phase was Muhlenberg College, a small liberal arts college in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Muhlenberg was known for its strong science and pre-med programs. The answer to the first question is a resounding “yes.” As I began my first semester at Muhlenberg, I realized that I had received an outstanding education at LM. I was ready to take on the Glenn Brooks challenges of calculus, American history, English, Chemistry and chemistry. Even though some of the material was new, I had the skills to adapt to the teaching styles of my professors and achieve success in my classes. When I had difficulty with a topic, I knew how to seek out people who could help me gain a better understanding of the topic. Some-

My last LM chapter The last four years of my life have been dedicated to the LM grind. Although physics, chemistry, and AP Gov are a blur, I will always remember my first day of high school. My throat closed up, leaving me to swallow the thick air. I could hear my heartbeat pounding through my ears and sweat ran down my palms. I had a panic attack. As soon as I touched down in the cafeteria and saw all of those people, I freaked out. I had just begun my first battle with anxiety, one of many more to come. From that first week on, I had sworn off Khayla Saunders the stupid printers that I could never figure out how to log into, the cafeteria, and of course, Mrs. Schuller’s Academic Recovery. The things I had begun to hate actually became my favorite. Eventually, I was able to use the printers capably, actually eat in the cafeteria, and Mrs. Schuller has become one my greatest mentors. After slowly beginning to open up, I started getting involved with clubs such as buildOn and Drill Team. As I dedicated my weekends to buildOn and school days to Drill Team, I began to feel more at ease. Freshman, sophomore, and most of junior year flew by without too much trouble. I had the opportunity to go on trek to Nicaragua, wrote a tribute to Laverne Cox (one of the best things I ever wrote), took my first AP class, failed my driver’s test a couple times (still working on that), became president of the National Society of Black Engineers for the district, and got involved with Students Advocating for Gender Equality. The opportunities that I have been offered through LM have been memorable and have allowed me to look back upon my high school experience with a smile. My senior year is my final chapter of a book that I have been writing for the last four years. I hope that everyone’s LM book will end as well as mine did, with the support of the entire facility and staff. I will miss my morning and afternoon sunshine from Vern and Mrs. Hemingway. My next book will begin on August fourteenth, fourteen hours away as I enter the ivory towers of Tuskegee University in Alabama. Congratulations to my friends and peers in the Class of 2017.

times that help came from a colleague and sometimes it came from a professor. One of the best skills I learned at LM was how to solve problems. If you can solve problems in an analytical manner, you will experience great success in life. As for the second concern about withstanding the pressures of college, I have one word for you: perspective. Please remember that one bad test grade is not the end of the world; there will be many good grades to boost up the bad one. My roommate in college did poorly in Organic Chemistry and was convinced that he would never get into medical school. Today, he is an extremely successful and well-respected ophthalmologist. Breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend is not a monumental tragedy. Shortly after your break-up, someone else will come along. Keep your perspective. There are very few events in your lives that will be lifealtering. So, forget about the bad test grade and the significant other and move on. Even if you will not be attending college, the ability to solve problems and to keep things in perspective will take you a long way. You will be faced with many roadblocks, and if you can overcome these roadblocks, your lives will be filled with success. So, as you graduate from LM and move on to the next part of your lives, I wish you the best of everything. Your time spent here at LM will serve you well. May you be healthy, happy, and successful in whatever you choose to do. I welcome you to the proud group of people known as Lower Merion High School alumni.

Not playing the game I began writing this article by doing a little bit of research. Specifically, scanning nearly every archived Matriculation issue of The Merionite that I could find. Since I had no idea where to begin, it seemed as though I should at least understand what decades of LM students had written before me and, perhaps, why they all sounded so similar. Nearly every single essay I read hammered home the same primary message about LM: it is all too easy to get wrapped up in the college-bound competition of essays, test scores, homework, good grades and to forget everything that is actually meaningful. This is an important statement, and one that deserves to be restated. Unfortunately, none of those articles never managed to convince me of the importance of that message. In the multitude of articles that I have read that detail all of the academic pressure at LM, the Vanessa Roser first-hand accounts of panic attacks, missed opportunities, and sleepless nights spent studying to get into those few select schools still told that there exists an academic game. In essay after essay, I was told that this competition culminates in your college acceptances, lovingly documented in the very pages of this issue. I was told that you will leave LM happier for not playing this game, but every student understands that this competition is not healthy. We know that in striving for high SAT scores and straight As, we miss out on what actually makes our time in high school memorable, all in order to “win” this game: to get into our dream college. But here is what I have finally realized. You do not need to play the game to win. You do not need straight As. You do not need perfect scores on your standardized tests. You do not need to be the captain of your varsity sport or even to play a sport at all. Most importantly, you do not need to cut out the parts of your life that don’t seem to fit into the model of a perfect student. The competition at LM tells you that these things are a requirement for acceptance into the most selective schools. These are the rules by which the game is played; however, you do not need to follow them. As it turns out, those things that cause you to deviate from the mold of the perfect student, the things that you do just because you enjoy doing them, are the most important qualities to any college. I didn’t get into Harvard because I had a perfect SAT score, all 5s on my AP tests, or a 5.0 GPA (I, in fact, have absolutely none of those things). Since I didn’t realize just how wrong this culture at LM was about what truly mattered, my acceptance came with some surprise. Luckily, admitted as a neuroscience major, my acceptance letter also came with a handwritten note from the admission counselor detailing exactly what mattered to Harvard: the drawings in my portfolio and the paragraphs in my essay showing how passionate I was about making them. So for the few that actually make it to the end of these articles, don’t worry about playing by the rules. Make your own definitions of what is important. You do not need to play the game.

Sift through the blahblahblah All my life, people have tried to tell me what to do. Maybe that’s the reson I’ve always loved jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s line: “It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.” Dizzy was right. How can a person listen for that inner voice with other people yammering advice all the time? Jeanne Mastriano That’s not to deny the value English of good advice. The first teachers, our guardians, clearly have some deep-forest wisdom worth all the listening and sifting through their blahblah-

blah until they finally get to the good stuff. The thing is, we’ve been so well trained by the efficient systems around us that we expect, or at least hope, that someone somewhere knows where we should be going and what we should be doing next. As a young person, I believed that. It was safer that way—to trust my elders to direct my feet. So I went to college believing I would be shown my life-path in some blazing flash of insight. It didn’t happen. I waited. I took courses. I did the assigned work. I made some friends and had a pretty good time. I got four years older, graduated, and still didn’t know what the heck to do. So I went to graduate school. Sometimes I think I went into teaching because I figured I must have missed an important lesson along the way and needed to find it. What has become clear is that no one else can figure out anyone else’s life path. People can give us a shove, a hug, or a kick in the keester, but the work of deciding how to spend our lives is ours alone. We can try blaming other people for lives

that don’t feel like ours, but it’s a lie. “My parents made me do this” is giving them more power than they have and probably more than they want to have. Own it. We have the power to choose what we desire. The trick is finding it. At some point, we need to start to trust ourselves. Years ago, I asked a very cool and confident student how she came to be so cool and confident, and she shared a mother-mantra she carried with her always: “If you have any doubts whatsoever about the wisdom of what you’re about to do, you are not allowed to do it. If, on the other hand, you have no doubts about it, you have my blessing.” That mother knew what she was doing. To the Class of 2017: Go to college—or not. Whatever you do, be sure to keep an eye out for the work that you really love. You all know what I mean—the kind of work when, once you’re into it, time stops, and the world falls away. You don’t want to be anywhere else. “Follow your heart” is a cliché for a reason. Trust it. Trust yourself. Best of luck. Here’s to no regrets.


June 5, 2017


The Merionite

Farewell to retiring staff Jill Alexander

Jean-Claude Contassot

This is the last year of teaching for many wonderful professionals in our district, especially in our department of World Languages. Among them is Magistra Alexander, who has been a part of the LM family for the past fifteen years. By teaching all levels of Latin and sharing with us her passion and knowledge, she has made a difference in the lives of so many students and colleagues. With her constant enthusiasm, professionalism, ethics, thriving academics, and sense of humor, she is one of those teachers that makes students want to learn and makes us proud to work in our department. We are so fortunate to have her as a colleague and a friend, and we understand that the fluidity of life will take her to the next stage of enjoying the little pleasures of life without a schedule. Bonum otium et noli oblivisci nostrum (Good retirement and don’t forget us)!

For the past fourteen years, I have had the privilege of working with and learning from one of LM’s most iconic, dedicated, and dynamic educators. Throughout Monsieur Contassot’s career at LM, he has taken pride in every lesson and has expected the best from the thousands of students who have progressed through the French program. His sense of style, sense of humor, and appreciation of all things Français is absolutely unparalleled. I will truly miss his contagious energy, and I am so grateful for our friendship. We will always have Paris, mon ami (my friend)! Merci pour tout, Monsieur, tu es le meilleur (Thank you for everything, you are the best)!

—Laura Vargas

—Sara Nemoy

Soryl Angel

Joe Dennis

A couple of years ago, our school renamed the Help Center to the Learning Center. Few students or staff members seemed to pay much attention to the nominal change, as the center continued on as before with no modifications or adaptations. Indeed, with its ever-present supervisor, Soryl Angel, at the helm, all assumed the Center would carry on as it had for so long: administering make-up exams, offering beneficial guidance on a report or assignment, or just working a student through an academic problem. Soryl provided a steady presence students could rely upon in the day-to-day bustle of the school year. And now, as she moves onto a new chapter in her life, it is fitting to reflect on the many ways Soryl herself has been both a source of help and a center of learning for students and faculty alike. Throughout the years, she has been a ceaseless champion for our ABC House students, and has advocated for the needs of the faculty and staff as part of the LM Senate. Within weeks of when my daughter was born, a soft quilt arrived at our home, courtesy of the LM Senate and handmade with care by Soryl. A passionate reader of books, journals, and newspapers, she has always been a great partner for informed discussions on politics or current events or for lending a helpful hint to The Merionite editors. In reflection, it is her steadfast and dependable presence in the lives of students and colleagues that we can learn from best. – Chad Henneberry

Joe Dennis and I started full custodial employment the summer of 199394. Since then and up until Joe’s retirement, he always has been a source of helpful life lessons. Joe was always ready to listen to your problems, big or small, and would always allow you to talk your issues out. He was prone to dispense some of his good, old-fashioned common sense wisdom. Joe was always ready to tell a good story. You knew when he would grab hold of your forearm to make a “J.D. point,” you were in the JOE ZONE! He was greatly admired by all who crossed his path, from staff to administrators. He has served as a member and negotiator on the LM Educational Association, he has volunteered his time coaching, serving many years coaching the LM girls’ basketball team and the Harriton boys’ basketball team, oh, and was an influential voice during the Kobe era. Joe is a dedicated husband and father who cherishes his grandkids and gushingly bragged about them. To sum it up, when I think of Joe, the best way for me to compliment him and his many years of service is to somehow go forward without seeing Joe’s smiling face in the morning. We must go forth representing all the values and lessons I’ve gained from knowing such a great guy!

Confidence for the next chapter I first entered LM as an extremely timid and nervous eighth grader, trying to imagine life in a school with more than fifty people in my grade. Shadowing my then tenth grade sister, I distinctly remember attempting to compare LM to High School MuKelly Harrigan sical (and failSports Editor ing). Meanwhile, I was kept busy being overwhelmed by basically everything; the upper atrium bustling with students, Mr. Brooks’s professional four-person lab tables, Spanish 2H with Señor Capkin, in which he spoke almost entirely in Spanish and I understood roughly three words. Fast forward four years, and although I am walking in the same halls and sitting in the same classrooms, I no longer feel overwhelmed. Instead, I feel as though I’m an integral part of the LM community. Over my four years here, I’ve learned that each student makes up his or her own part of the LM community. Larger numbers don’t necessarily ensure an outcome of the typically impatient big city crowd. In stark contrast, the increase in student population from private to public school just means that I became a part of a larger com-

munity. Each year in my high school career, I not only became more comfortable in the school but also became more confident and outgoing in other areas of my life in other areas of my life. Freshman year, I entered LM filled with panic and strict expectations for myself. I labeled myself as a three-season athlete who took school extremely seriously and had to know someone for nine years (the length of my Waldron career) before I was comfortable around him or her. Although I involved myself in sports year-round, as well as some clubs, I still isolated myself. I met incredible friends with whom I plan to be close long past the end of my high school years. However, I never truly felt at ease; I was always monitoring the “normality” of my social interactions with others instead of embracing my true personality. As sophomore year came around, the gates enclosing my uncensored personality slowly opened just a crack. Decidedly stepping outside of my comfort zone, I joined an A capella group, chorus, and ultimate frisbee, within which I found a group of girls who I’ve come to know as great friends and even better karaoke singers. I realized throughout this year though, that there is a distinct difference between physically stepping outside of your comfort zone and mentally doing so. I acted as though switching my extracurricular activities was no skin off my back when, in reality, my social comfort level was still pretty low. Although I tried to change, I still felt as though I was known as a nice but timid girl. Please see KELLY HARRIGAN on page 10

– Jim Perri

Dear seniors

Rosalie Garrett Latin Dear Seniors, This year, a group of you went with me on a long journey through the great epic poem at the center of our European heritage: “Vergil’s Aeneid.” Together, we visited many places. For this trip you needed curiosity, patience, determination, and stamina. You brought all this and more. We saw up close a lot of disturbing things together: a suicidally depressed hero, a city being destroyed, a love affair going disastrously wrong. We saw ghosts, a lot of blood, and the deaths of inno-

cent people in scenes lit by fire. We also saw the enduring love between a parent and a child. We saw the way people in the midst of disaster can find hope and a way forward. We saw refugees moving towards a place they can call home. And always, the questions that haunted us throughout: was it worth it? For every gain, does there have to be a loss, as well? Not only did you stay with me through every dark place and every disturbing question—you found more for us to see. You made connections within the poem that made our journey even more fascinating. Every day I looked forward to hearing what you were discoveromg. I am grateful that I took this trip with you. I hope you will always remember our journey together, and perhaps this ancient poem will continue to nourish and sustain you throughout your life. With love and affection, Magistra Garrett

June 5, 2017

Kelly Harrigan

Matriculation The Merionite

Cont. from CONFIDENCE FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER, page 9 Upon entering LM as a junior, I decided to equate my self-confidence with the way I attempted to portray myself. I now look back on junior year as a major stepping stone towards becoming who I feel I am today. It was the first year in which I had no close friends in any of my classes. My schedule that year really pushed me to act confident around people I didn’t know very well, whether I liked it or not. Even though the beginning of the year seemed rough to me at first—I didn’t get to see my close friends nearly as much and was beyond stressed about my classes—I learned to embrace junior year. I started saying hi to people in the hallway and showing more of my personality in class, which allowed me to open myself up more to others. As junior year came to an end, I realized that although it is much easier for me to be recognized as a shy and quiet student, I am happier being known as someone who is confident and approachable. Then came senior year, my last of four highly impactful years in the development of my personality and self-confidence. I made it a priority in my classes and extracurricular activities this year to really show my true personality. If people didn’t respond well to that, then there was nothing I could do, and I would just try to shake it off. On days when I felt especially under-confident, I would look myself in the mirror in the morning and shamelessly tell myself, “You are fun, smart, beautiful, and darn awesome. Go get ‘em Kellha!” Although this mantra began as an inside joke (with myself), it became a true confidence booster and helped me to embrace a new outlook on life: the person you are around most is yourself, so that is the only person you should worry about pleasing. Looking back on this year, I am really happy. School by no means was easy, but strengthening friendships and talking more with my peers definitely helped lower my constant stress level. Now, I can securely say that I feel comfortable as myself and in my school. I’m actually sad to not be in classes anymore because I miss saying hi to everyone. I miss expressing my worries about schoolwork to my teachers. I miss LM. I may not look all that different from my eighth grade self (until April of my sophomore year, my entire Spanish class thought I was a freshman), but I feel as though I really have grown. I now look forward to college optimistically because I trust that I will take the skills that I learned during my four years here and embrace them throughout my years in college. Sure, next year is going to be incredibly daunting and it’s going to be scary entering a school in which I only know three people. Nonetheless, I am excited because it means that I am going to be joining yet another community in which I can meet more people and learn to be even more comfortable in my own skin. As an end note, I just want to thank all of my peers, teachers, and every amazing peep in The Merionite staff for helping make high school awesome. You guys are true gems.

Reflections and revelations

Joseph Callahan Social Studies If I was going to reflect back and address my high school self as an adult, what would I say? Before you take on life’s journey, I would like to give you a few reflections. Prepare and plan for life as best as you can with the understanding that life’s plan does not fit neatly into a cookie-cutter shape. Nobody’s life is that well-scripted that there won’t be change and deviation to your plan. A lot of times these changes and deviations are hard to take because in the short term they may seem like major setbacks and hurdles to cross. It’s through these setbacks and adversities that we grow, mature, and learn the most about both life and ourselves. Look at these adversities as life’s opportunities. My mom always said, “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody some good.” What she was saying is that when something bad happens in your life, something good

will come out of it if you’re looking for it. Keep your eyes open, for the next opportunity is right around the corner. Looking back at my life it was my setbacks and adversities that changed my life’s path. I grew and reinvented myself during these trying times. As a high school senior, I would have never dreamed that my life’s path would have taken me to LM to be an educator and now I could not imagine my life with a different vocation. Without my setbacks and adversities redirecting my life, I would have never had the opportunity to work with you during your senior year. You have

Prepare and plan for life as best that you can with the understanding that life’s plan does not fit neatly into a cookiecutter shape.


truly inspired me over this past year and I’ve grown and learned from you. I’m a better person for having known you and for that I’m truly thankful. America’s future is in good hands. As you move forward in your life take time to enjoy the journey, as it’s quick. Keep moving forward in a positive direction and remember that good things happen to good people. Thank you, Class of 2017.



The Merionite

Year In Review

The boys’ track and field team had an unbelievable season, capturing their first Central League title since 1974. The team competed hard in every match, with multiple athletes receiving individual awards as well. Led by seniors Randy Cheloha, Rashon Cooke, Matt D’Aquila, Henry Dyer, Evan Hassman, and Erez Potok-Holmes, the team dominated in multiple events, including relays, long jump, and shotput. This accomplishment was a result of the constant effort the team put in the off-season, which included visiting the weight room almost every day. Looking to next year, the team will attempt to build on their terrific season. Congrats Aces! Seniors Matt D’Aquila and Evan Hassman run hard towards the Central League title. The LM boys’ tennis team is once again state champion. They also finished the season capturing another Central League and district playoff title. The team went an astounding 22-0, and for the third straight year, the team handily won states with the help from seniors Jordan Robinson and Matt Chen. Both have helped the Aces achieve greatness over the past four years and their leadership will be missed. The team has overcome immense adversity, but it was all worth it in the end. The future for tennis looks even brighter in the upcoming season, as they look to make it historic and Senior Matt Chen focuses accumulate four consecutive state championships. intensely on the ball, ready to use his powerful forehand. In what many thought would be a down year, the basketball team overcame substantial competition within the Central League to snatch their first title since 2014, and sixth in modern league history. Led by seniors and four year varsity stars Terrell Jones and Noah Fennell, who both were named to all Central League teams, the Aces proved that with hardwork, anything is possible. Fennell with be continuing his basketball career at New York University next year. Also leaving the team this year will be seniors Najja Walker-X, Khadafy Bilal, and Sean Ryan who were substantial leaders in the locker room and contributed great minutes. After receiving their seventh consecutive PIAA state playoff bid, the team will truly miss these players next season.

June 5, 2017

Arts & Academics

This year, LM TSA was led by senior officers Vanessa Roser and Evan Hassman. The club started the competitive season strong with a record-breaking performance at the regional conference, where they achieved eleven first-place finishes—five more than any other school. They carried that success into the state conference, where they placed first in three events. Roser placed first in Promotional Design and led her team to a first-place finish in the Children Stories event. Roser, Hassman, and twenty other LM students have their eyes TSA members pose after the set on the national conference, which will award ceremony at the state take place in Orlando, FL towards the end of conference. June. The seniors will be missed dearly, but the future has never been brighter for LM TSA.

The team celebrates a hard fought and well deserved win at the Tiger competition.

Senior Brendan Leonard mentally prepares for the important game ahead of him.

The team celebrates after successfully defending their state championship.

The girls’ ultimate frisbee team continued their dominance in Pennsylvania, winning the state championship for the second consecutive year. The team was led by senior captains Mariko Kishimoto and Sarah Lipson. To qualify for the state tournament, the team had to place at the top at the city tournament. The team had many goals for the season which included for the underclassmen to continue to gain experience in the sport, improving their team chemistry, and of course to win another state championship. With a committed group underclassmen, the team hopes to continue their success in the coming year.

Led by seniors Daniel Tsai, Max Mazo, Olin Wei, and Lucas Barton, LM Science Olympiad surpassed expectations en route to their second-best season in thirty years. They capped off the season with a thirdplace finish at the state conference, and while that was not enough to qualify for the national conference, the seniors have left the team in prime position to capture a first - or second - place finish next year. For their commitment over the past four years, the seniors will be missed dearly.

Dawgma was led by senior captains Journey Byland and Gabriel Krotkov, along with seniors Finn Roberts, Hannah Si, Max Roling, Cecily Rosenbaum, and Anila Ghosh. While they fell short of their goal to make it to Worlds for the second straight year, the team won many awards throughout the competition season. It was the first time since the creation of Dawgma that they won the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Westtown Competition. There, they also captained their field. At the Mid-Atlantic Championships, the team won the Industrial Safety Award. The seniors will be missed greatly, but the team looks to continue their recent success in the coming years.

Senior Terrell Jones dribbles the ball down the court during an important start to a game. The boys’ ice hockey team had a stellar season and made historic strides for the LM Hockey program. They went 11-6-2, which was a large improvement from their record last year. This is in part because of great playing by seniors Everett Grimes, Brendan Leonard, Jack Pearson, and Luca Saleh. They propelled the Aces into the Central League playoffs, where they lost a tough game in the quarterfinals and made it to the third round of the state tournament. This was the farthest in Aces history that they have made it in the state tournament. The Aces are looking to improve on a great season and make another great stride toward a state championship next year.


The cast poses after a conclusion of an Addam’s Family showing.

Above, Thomas Newcomen, Dawgma’s robot this year, poses after a competition.

PLAYERS put on an three shows this year, each one receiving high praise from the student body and local critics. Each show (Addams Family, the Importance of Being Earnest, and Eurydice) was outstanding, with students doing all of the directing, acting, choreography, and even some of the writing. Seniors Ellis Kelsey, Katherine Villarin, Emily Harnett, and Hannah Spector stood out as leaders amongst the group, with some shining on the stage and behind it. PLAYERS always produces amazing shows and performances, but these seniors, along with the rest, will be missed next year.

Philly Tutoring has grown substantially over this past year. Its membership has doubled and its leadership this year was as committed as ever. Seniors Joe Salzer, Maya Laincz, and Katelyn Dang built a great culture for this club and have left it in great hands for the future. The bonds made with these students from St. Francis and Patterson Elementary School have created lifelong memories for all winvolved. This club is looking to continue to progress in a positive direction as they look to find more eager LM students to mentor next year. Mentors and students gather after a hard day of work at Patterson Elementary School.


June 5, 2017

Matriculation The Merionite

Thank you to The Enchiridion for the photos and Chris de Santis ’20 and Sihan Wu ’19 for the graphics.

Matriculation 2017  
Matriculation 2017