The Cell Phone Policy PG. 3
Opinion Piece PG. 6-7
THE BEST OF THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR
JJ's Story PG. 15
APRIL TABLE OF CONTENTS Jackson Dino
03 The Cell Phone Policy: One Semester Later
04 Donzelli's Art Austin Keller
06 Op-Ed: We Raged with Lil Uzi Vert
2018-19 STAFF Editors: Perez, Bryanna Ripperger, Claire Tarasidis, Sophia Tejada, Julianne Waterhouse, Sydney Williams, Ahjunae Young, Peter
Casubolo, Kristina Chavez, Valeria Clemens, Christopher Duddy, Brendan Good, Jessica Keller, Austin Matute, Day Matute, Yanira Nash, Cassidy Negron, Anastacia Perea, Michelle
Reporters: Alex Farrier
08 Remembering "Dad" 10
Day & Yanira Matute
Q&A: Mental Health Valeria Chavez & Aly Molina
11 BMHS Works: Women at McMahon 12
Sydney Waterhouse & Rashida Richard
Snapback: A Look Into McMahon's Halls Margie Hernandez
13 Life as an Incoming ESL Student Perez 15 Bryanna The Commitment: Jonathan Jimenez
Acuna, William Angel, Melanie Avalos, Fatima Balderrama, Lucas Balderrama, Micaella Bombace, Meagan Butler, Janyah Burnes, Nyema Cabrera, Jason Calvar, Rebecca Campos, Fatima Carson, Chennel Castro, Tarcy Corona, Roberto Dino, Jackson Escalante, Daniela Farrier, Alex Fleurancy, Reginald Garcia, Linda Garcia, Natasha Greco, Francesco Hernandez, Margie Herring, Aalysia Honorat, Jason Jenkins, Daphane Klein, Katherine McCaffrey, Victoria McNeill, Quanisha Mendez-Thompson, Cailin Miller, Brandon
Molina, Aly Moore, Deiondra Mullins, Jocelyn Nieves, A'Niaya Ochoa, Maira Partida, Omar Peterson, Gabrielle Powell, Aliyah Ramcharan, Rahul Ramirez, Veronica Raymond, Jasmine Restrepo, Daisy Richard, Rashida Rivero, Michel Rodriguez Ordonez, Walter Rodriguez, Stephanie Sanderson, Jaeden Santiago, Norberto Sherald, Kelete Sonko, Binta Sosa, Melanie Star, Amber Stefanowicz, James Succes, Lackitchia Ventura, Fransheli Viquez, Nicole Young, Lila Zoe, Tsai
The School Cell Phone Policy: One Semester Later • Jackson
students at Brien McMahon endure the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year, it is a time of reflection back upon the previous two quarters of our education - and the changes that occured in our school during that time period. Among the most frequently debated policies implemented by the BMHS administration during that interval was the (now-infamous) “cell phone confiscation policy.” Announced by Principal Scott Hurwitz in an email to families on August 28, 2018, the new rule ordered teachers to mandatorily collect student cell phones in a plastic bin at the beginning of class. Students are encouraged to utilize school-sanctioned and heavily regulated chromebooks until the end of the period. The policy was developed by Principal Hurwitz’s BMHS Discipline Working Group, which included teachers such as Dean of Discipline Robert Ayala, NJROTC Lieutenant Colonel Robert Killackey and Union Building Steward Katherine Okrentowich. “It was discovered that teachers and staff felt that student use of electronic devices was the number one issue negatively affecting the school, classroom discipline and having a negative effect on student learning,” says Killackey. The new cell phone policy seemed to prove popular with some of McMahon’s staff in the initial weeks of implementation, although several refused to comply with the new regulations. “I know that there are teachers who don’t do it,” admits Principal Hurwitz. “I question why, because I think what we know about cell phones is that they are a huge distraction… what I have heard from multiple teachers is (that) with this policy, when they collect cell phones, and they have group work going on in class, students are engaged in group work in a way they haven’t been for years.” Among the students, however, the policy is notably less admired. “In some classes… [the cell phone policy] is a waste of time,” says Billy Begos (‘20).
“I get it, it was not a decision that was taken lightly. It was not something that we were like, ‘Oh, students are going to love us for this.’ It was really like, ‘This is an epidemic.’ It’s a problem. Every teacher in this building identified the number one (most) disruptive thing in classes is cell phones. So, at that point in time, you have a decision to make. Do something that is going to be relatively unpopular, that students are going to view as somewhat of a violation for the greater good, or you stand by and just allow what's been happening to continue to happen, and I don’t think that was the right thing to do.... if I was a high school student, I wouldn’t have liked it either,” Hurwitz discloses. Business teacher Mr. Scalise acknowledges that his level of enforcement of the cell phone policy depends on the class he is teaching. “It works really well with freshman,” he says. Scalise argues that the policy is necessary to deal with misbehaving freshman and lowerclassmen, whereas older, more mature classes are able to act responsibly with possession of their cellular devices. Mr. Hurwitz disagrees with Scalise. “Is it really appropriate to be collecting cell phones from seniors in a college-level class? I think it can be argued that it’s not, but it can also be argued that cell phones are as much of a temptation to seniors in a high-level class as they are to other kids. Maybe the ability to resist that temptation is what differentiates a better student from a struggling student, but to me, it’s a policy that we created for the school." In terms of effectiveness, Killackey argues that the policy has been a success. “I think there was some natural anxiety, both student and teacher, about the new policy, and that past phone confiscation without a policy was inconsistent and sometimes confrontational. But despite the angst, it was relatively seamless in applying the policy in the classroom.”
Similarly, Principal Hurwitz maintains that “For teachers who do it consistently, every day, it is one hundred percent successful… it's a mixed bag in terms of some challenges to it, though.” At this time, there is no indication that there will be any changes to the policy in the future, with Killackey noting that “periodic reminders about complying with policy are needed [to the staff], because as humans, sometimes we forget.”
Donzelli's Art. F
rom a young age, Daniella Donzelli ('20) has had an interest in fashion and art. Donzelli liked to incorporate fashion styles from different parts of Europe, like Italy and France. Now, as Daniella focuses on her collegiate future, she reflects on the significant role fashion has played in her life.
There, Donzelli had creative freedom and was able to explore what she really enjoyed. It took five classes to complete a landscape piece. She worked continuously on that piece and entered it into the Silvermine art exhibition. By the end of the exhibition, she won first place.
“I always had a “There wasn't a I decided to my entire youth definitely started when I went SoNo.”
passion for it,” said Donzelli. switch in my mind where pursue it… Throughout I was into fashion. I to take it seriously to an art school in
The Silvermine Art Center and The New England Fashion and Design School are both private institutions. In the program, Donzelli attended at the Silvermine Art Center, students were given an assignment and were allowed to complete it to their interpretation.
At age nine, furthered her attending classes Art Center and Fashion and
Donzelli passion for art by at the Silvermine The New England Design School.
“It gave me a lot of freedom to try different things. It was nice to be in a classroom environment because I got to see each student’s unique vision, especially when given the same assignment - each painting was completely different,” says Donzelli. Her experience attending art school was never negative. If anything, it pushed her to do better and improve her creations. She would take feedback from teachers and implement it into her pieces. “I never felt nervous or doubtful going to art school. I think it’s really enjoyable and forces you to make time in your schedule to make art, that's mainly why I still take classes to this day,” says Donzelli. Donzelli is still contemplating whether she is going to pursue art design or academics, such as anthropology, for her major in college. She believes that anthropology has an influence on her choice of style. Donzelli concluded, "I definitely believe that [anthropology] impacts my style. At the art school I went to, I was able to create my own pieces and patterns… I took ideas and inspirations from different cultures and molded it into my own creations… I have been leaning towards more Italian looks which consist of solid color button ups, paired with mom jeans and white sneakers or black loafers.”
• Jason Cabrera
Editor's Note: Hello. Thank you for picking up a copy of your school's magazine. This year, our team tried things a bit differently. As many of you already know, or have seen in our previous years, our magazines were focused more on our school colors as well as very limited white space. This year, we were inspired by magazines like 'The Week,' and 'Vogue.' It has helped us decide what our cover for the April Edition should look like. Please be kind, for our staff has worked for over a month on the production of this magazine. If you are interested in producing a magazine or writing articles, join journalism next year. Special thanks to Mr. Carroll for encouraging us to create this and always helping out. From, The PrideTime Team
Day Matute Editor-in-Chief
Yanira Matute Editor-in-Chief
Journalism 2B Design Team
Bryanna Perez Senior Editor
Sydney Waterhouse Senior Editor
Valeria Chavez Editor
Austin Keller Editor
Margie Hernandez Reporter
Aly Molina Reporter
Jackson Dino Reporter
Rashida Richard Reporter
Jason Cabrera Reporter
Cassidy Nash Editor
We Raged With Lil Uzi Vert
I’m a white kid from Southern Fairfield County,
aware that my credibility when it comes to discussing rap music is limited. My brother was a Soundcloud rapper, though, if that helps. And I have a grossly expensive Sunday excursion to New York City’s Governors Ball in June under my belt, which was worth every penny - $12 pizza slices, however, were not. I saw Lil Uzi Vert for the second time after hastily buying tickets days before, despite having work the next morning at seven. My friends and I had a need to see him - even if it was just as an opener. Our night in Hartford was made thanks to ‘Do What I Want’ and ‘XO T0UR LIF3,’ one boastfully optimistic, one suicidally pessimistic, both incomparably lit. Both venues were stuffed: mosh pits of sweaty, thrashing bodies, pushing and shoving aggressively. At times, I was put on the ground. There were fights - lots of them, some with complete strangers. As it often does, raging turned real. Fast. I can’t forget holding friends back during Uzi’s performance of ‘New Patek’ while my friends were escorted to emergency care tents - one of their faces literally dripping, yes dripping, with blood. But we were having fun. Thanks to the security and event staff on duty, I was unsure if I’d see some of them again.
But I know, even if one of them had been leaving the Xfinity Center in an emergency vehicle, we definitely would’ve still stayed until L.U.V finished his set. My good friend Patrick Coulter (‘20) turned to me while leaving with one of the most accurate things I had ever heard - something like
“Uzi is just so lit your boys can be in a full-on fist fight next to you and you just don’t care.” This is while Uzi was singing about contemplating suicide and self-medicating his way through heartbreak: “She said I’m insane, yeah, I might blow my brains out.” It was conceivable, we were watching this generation’s Kurt Cobain, the new genre-creating, raw, openly messed up, tortured-but-gifted, the face of teenage angst everywhere, capable of creating anthems that captured just that, star.
I Saw Something Troubling • Austin Keller
Maybe just sing-songier. And yes, I know what happened to Kurt Cobain. Something’s happening in rap. Artists are reverting to angry, Seattle underground, raw punk, pained sounds of 25 years prior. But their aggression isn’t towards police or rival gangs; it’s towards the anti-depressant, weed, Xanax alchemy not doing its job, and the girls that sent them into an even darker place - they’re not rapping about (what our parents would call) "nothing" anymore. When 19-year-old ‘Juice WRLD’ burst onto the Apple Music charts out of Chicago last summer, he took something that had been developing for a while - what the late Mac Miller, Lil Peep and XXXTentacion had excelled at - making ‘emo rap’ the mainstream and unmasking the iron-curtained oppressive stigma of mental illness. But Juice’s lyrics were explicit, uniquely alarming - “this ain’t fiction, it’s too real… I need two pills.” He ached on with his first album, “Goodbye and Good Riddance”, which ascended to as high as #2 on the Hot 100. XXXTentacion rapped on his second record, ‘17,’ ‘Jocelyn Flores’, (a song named for a friend who recently killed herself.)
It sounded less like a chart-topping rap song (though it enjoyed such success), and more like a battered cry for help. “I’m in pain - wanna put ten shots in my brain… pessimistic - wanna end it.” Even Post Malone, one of the most chart-topping, carefree bros in the rap community, who could sell out two nights at Barclays Center, acknowledges that there is a painfully real downside to his fame. In a late 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, Malone confessed, “I’ve always had loneliness. I’ve always been anxious. // Big brain. Lot of thoughts.” I’m unsure if rap nowadays could be classified as nihilistic, but if you were to listen to up-andcoming Trippie Redd’s incandescent squawking on 2018’s hit song ‘WISH,’ “Won’t you’d get out my face?, might go M.I.A - Might just blow my brains, I’d be Kurt Cobain,” you wouldn’t exactly call it hedonism. Should I, amongst thousands of others, go infinitely hard in 2019 and have the time of my life while listening to music that is yes, lit, but frighteningly depressing and mournful, then feel guilty about it? On some level? Maybe that’s just art.
Remembering Dad Cover Story
On January 8, 2018, after posting a string of controversial
and inappropriate pictures on social media, Dale Wehmhoff was suspended and then terminated as the boys varsity NorMc hockey coach after over 35 years of coaching experience. His firing was talked about across the McMahon community and beyond, including a story reported in the Norwalk Hour which described his social media account as “a vast array of racist, sexually explicit, and otherwise highly offensive posts.” But the question that went unanswered after his firing, in gossip, social media posts, and published articles, was who really was Dale Wehmhoff? To many in the McMahon community, he was much more than just Dale Wehmhoff: he was a father, coach, and to the McMahon cheerleaders, he was “dad.” Wehmhoff ’s passing on November 7, 2018 was a sudden tragedy, forcing the McMahon athletic community to reflect on his 35 year legacy. “I think that when the scandal came out, it portrayed him incorrectly; all the cheerleaders knew him [Dale] as a hardworking, loving person and then when that came out, it was showing just the complete opposite. But I think that after his passing a lot of people learned to put that to the side and recognize him for the good he’s done for our community and for all the kids that he has been around for the past years, and it stopped being a big problem; but in the moment it not only hurt him, but hurt his family and friends around him.” said Valentina Zuleta, former cheer captain of the 2017-18 season.
Along with coaching hockey, Dale often helped his daughter, Kelcie Wehmhoff (McMahon’s cheerleading coach) condition and strength train both McMahon and Norwalk Packers (Norwalk’s youth cheerleading team) cheerleaders. It was during his time working with the McMahon cheerleaders that he transitioned from “Dale” to “dad.” “So… I met Dad the summer coming into high school as a freshman… [my] first impression was that he was just a really tall guy, and he was bald and had these big hands and always gave us high fives, but he wasn’t scary-looking. With conditioning over the summer, it was amazing. He didn’t know anybody except for a few girls but he always made me feel like I knew him forever, always calling our name to push harder and kill us,” said Zanaiya DeJesus (‘19), McMahon’s current cheer captain. Wehmhoff was well known around Fairfield county for his successful career as coach of the Norwalk McMahon Co-Ed Hockey team, but his passion for hockey didn’t start there. After graduating from Staples High School in 1979 as a successful hockey player, his role as coach quickly took root. During this time, he worked for the town of Westport for 31 years and managed D.W. Landscaping, a local company.
“He was a mentor to myself and many other kids that he had the pleasure of coaching… having him as a coach has helped me become the coach I am today,” said Kyle Wehmhoff, Dale’s son. Not only did he learn a lot, but he was also able to create some memorable moments with his father in his coaching career. Kyle looked back on his most prominent memory with his father as his hockey coach - a loss in the state finals: “We were in the state finals and lost, but I saw the look on his face and saw how proud he was of me.” His passion taught his daughter, Kelcie Wehmhoff, that coaching was something she could also fall in love with. “Well, I knew I always wanted to work with kids and young adults, and I always saw my dad as a great coach. One of the most memorable lessons he taught me as a coach was to not yell unless I had to.
He said to be stern and loud, and when they need a fire lit under them, that’s when you yell. He also taught me to always have fun with your team. Winning is great, but if there’s no fun your team won’t want to be there and you want them to want to be there.” With the cheer competition season starting in January, it will be tough on the cheerleaders knowing that this is the first he won’t be attending since earning the title of “Cheer Dad.” “At our first competition, I imagined him, like, waving. It was like, I don’t know, a memory in my head. Just him, waving his big hand saying, ’C’mon girls, you got this!’ Even when we fell, I could just see him saying, ‘You’re strong, you got this!’ I always still feel like he’s in the stands.” DeJesus (‘19) closed with.
As students in the McMahon community, we never really think about what others are dealing with, whether we like to
admit it or not. We often think about what we can do to succeed in environments we place ourselves in. Unfortunately, for some kids, succeeding in different environments they’re placed in is difficult. The topic of depression and suicide is always hard to talk about. Q: How did you try Q: Would you reaching out? What were consider yourself the initial thoughts of as someone who the people you told? has faced/is facing I had the opportunity to depression? If present something in a so, when did you class, and I chose the toprealize this? ic of Suicide Prevention. Yes, is facing I started to cry during depression. I’ve rethe presentation because alized this after my of how tough it was to suicide attempts present it and 3 good that something friends of mine stood up was wrong, which and stood was when I tried right next to me to finish reaching out. the presentation. Q: Can you tell me about yourself? Who were you before and who are you now? Before, I was a person who enjoyed being with my family and enjoyed being around friends. I was happy. When this “thing” happened to me, I lost control of my life. I didn’t want to eat;I didn’t want to get out of bed; I didn’t want to be alive. The not eating took a toll on my body when I almost fainted when doing anything. I couldn’t go 10 minutes without thinking about death. Too bad this lasted through midterms. Now, I am a person that feels much calmer. I’ve met with the school’s social worker, a doctor, and a therapist. With them and the help of my family, I’ve been getting through life. Q: What were your first thoughts when you realized you were depressed? I just thought, why do I feel this way? But I couldn’t think about anything except that fact that the world would be better off without me.
Q:Did you tell your parents about this? If so, how did they respond? I didn’t tell my parents that day. My mother found out when my health teacher called her with my guidance counselor, and she came up to me later that day in tears. She asked me what was wrong. Then my father found out. He went outside for like 10 minutes. This tore the connection in my family. Q: Was your plan to get well or did you push this aside? I just had this feeling like I wanted to be alone. I wanted the world to stop. I wanted to forget that day ever happened, but my parents came up to my room and forced me to eat. Q: How are things now? Things are better now. I am eating almost three meals a day, and my mother doesn’t cry when she sees me anymore. I feel better that now I have the support of my friends. Q:Do you have any advice for those who deal with depression/struggle with their mental health? For people with these problems, go to someone. A lot of times you don’t realize it, but talking to someone helps. Make sure you talk to someone who will listen. If it is really someone who cares about you, they will want to listen. They won’t be able to help with everything, but them being there helps.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the hotline: 203-661-1911
Women at McMahon •
Valeria Chavez and Aly Molina
Brien McMahon is lucky enough to
have many supportive women around the building who are there to guide students. Ms. Josovitz, in our guidance department, has been a Certified School Social Worker and a PhD Licensed Clinical Social Worker for the last 14 years. She has been a goto source for many students at BMHS for the last six years, making sure we feel safe and comfortable while making progress in school. Josovitz found her passion for social work while attending Quinnipiac University, “I am very passionate about social work. It is something I believe in and work very hard on.” But just like everything in life, greatness comes with hardships. While helping students is her passion, the emotional toll of tackling difficult cases at school can
be tough, Josovitz shares, “I can’t change someone’s home life, which is really hard. I can only provide for them what I can do here. There are definitely times where I wish things looked differently for a lot of kids here, but I can’t change that, unfortunately, so I just try to do my best here to give them what they need emotionally to meet success, so that they can graduate from here and do things on their own that make them happy.” Many of us can sometimes feel like we do not have people to turn to in times of need. We allow ourselves to struggle silently and alone, either not knowing how to seek help or know where to find it. If you ever feel like you need to vent and be listened to, don’t be afraid to reach out. Josovitz has a warm welcoming environment ready for anyone. Simply send an email or make your way down to her office.
such as figuring out what to do in life; however, a common misconception of life is that you can’t go back and restart if you don’t like what you’re doing. If you look at Nurse Sparkman’s story, you can see the inspiration young women or any student at McMahon will take away from it realizing that in life there will be Nurse Sparkman is one of “the lucky ones” who did not have to go through obstacles you have to face, but if you keep many obstacles as a woman throughout on pushing, you will achieve success. her journey to becoming a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; however, “My hope for students at McMahon when they come to the Health Center is it wasn’t always that easy for her. Althat they get the help needed and that though Nurse Sparkman’s passion they have a good experience, and we can for becoming a pediatric nurse grew, she started off with an occupation that hopefully make an impact on them down had no relation to what she does today. the road, whether it’s dealing with their own health problems and learning how to become more independent or just being “This is actually my second career. I here for them if they had a bad day.” was in banking after college, so this is why I think that this is a big accomplishment of mine, because I went back If you are a student who seeks a safe and welcoming environment for help with to school after college, after I had my more health services, you can stop by the kids, and had to go back to graduate Student Based Health Center located in school.” the health hallway and learn about how you can sign up and have their resources In high school, it can be hard to go available to you. through the stereotypical struggles Julia Sparkman, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the School-Based Health Center, has been working at McMahon since 2011 and has helped many students overcome difficult health-related obstacles in their lives.
SNAPBACK: A Look into McMahon’s Halls try to be ‘tough’ and social media has Unfortunately, these punishments haven't F ollowing a fight that occurred on January “People allowed them the platform to instigate issues, been enough to deter students from falling 2, 2019, McMahon students took to Snapchat and Instagram to share footage taken at the scene. In one instagram video, a student is seen getting dragged into a wall, leaving a gash on the students head and blood marks across the entrance to the main staircase. Even now, these bloody marks can still be seen in the videos posted and shared among the student body through social media. Footage of the fight brings to question, “Why were there so many bystanders that hid behind the shield of their phones instead of helping?” Comments made by students underneath each post left one trending realization: social media has impacted the exposure of fights within McMahon by making them available to anyone, at anytime. Fights have always been a reality at McMahon. Looking back at the 2011-2012 school year report on the “Number of Incidents by Offense Category,” fights and battery offenses accounted for 39 of the 405 total offenses in McMahon. Although McMahon no longer reports individual incidents in the “School performance and Profile Report,” what has changed at McMahon has been the overall involvement and impact that social media has on the student body.
giving them a voice they wouldn’t have unless they were behind a screen. Security hasn’t really caught the virtual messages, and its pushed them to continue the drama to the point of a fight,” said freshman, Josie Marshall. Administration, too, feels social media apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have played a pivotal role in the spread of drama and fights within the student body.
“... Kids post these videos on their social media pages in the hopes of gaining more likes, comments, and followers. School is, however, a place for learning and bringing in these outside issues and blowing them up on social media, which ends up distracting the student body as well as the teachers and it becomes harder for this to be a successful learning environment,” said Principal Scott Hurwitz Most students are unaware of the consequences that come with recording and instigating fights in the school. According to Principal Hurwitz, if a student is caught recording a fight or getting involved, the punishment ranges from a possible three hour detention to a suspension.
victim to the buildings’ social media craze.
For some, the culprit behind the recent rash of fights goes beyond just social media. As you walk through the halls of McMahon, you come to a realization that for the 1,800 kids that walk through the halls, five security guards just might not be enough. The idea of growing security is one that has been brought up by individuals within the McMahon community but never implemented. Jeff Oliver, the head of security here at McMahon, shared that he plans on implementing new tactics to improve the current security in the school. “I plan on being more visible, checking new checkpoints, keeping the communication between students and teachers on a constant basis so everyone is on the same page,” said Oliver. Next time you witness a fight take place, instead of picking up your phone and recording it for Snapchat views, just walk away and report it. With the help of the kids of all grades, administration can successfully create a safer environment for the student body. •
Sydney Waterhouse & Rashida Richard
LIFE AS AN INCOMING
Y erson Villalobos ('22) started first grade at the age of seven at a public school in Honduras. At age twelve, Villalobos applied to a private educational institution called El Sembrador which offered him a full scholarship based on his success on an entrance exam.
At El Sembrador, they provided Villalobos with great opportunities such as free education and the ability to grow spiritually. However, the downfall was that he was required to live on campus at El Sembrador, since it was almost an hour away from his home, and he was only given the chance to leave once a month. Villalobos studied at El Sembrador for four years. It was hard on both him and his family because he wasn’t able to see them everyday. He and eight other boys slept on mattresses of stacked up wood in one room. The room was big enough for all of them to sleep on one side and do homework on the other. They were woken up at five in the morning everyday by a bell signifying that they had to get ready for school. At two in the afternoon, when school ended, the bell rang again, reminding them to go to work. "Once the bell rang at two, that meant we all had to get in a straight line together and walk to work. If you were late, you’d get in trouble,” Villalobos said. “We worked two hours a day without getting paid, and we all had different jobs.” The school had its own rules and was very strict. Students had a limited number of penalties before they were asked to leave. If students were found not respecting the school rules they were punished and forced to cut down trees or veneer items (a process of covering something with a decorative layer of fine wood) every Saturday. Although the school was strict and competitive, Villalobos explained that it wasn’t always like that: “Once in a while, all the students would get together and compete in any game you could ever imagine, which was always a lot of fun. We participated in plays and performed in our school band, too.” Villalobos couldn’t keep in contact with his family throughout the week since one of the rules was to not have any techological devices. He was given a phone on Friday afternoons and had to return it on Sunday afternoons before classes started on Monday. “We were given an old fashioned phone during the weekends because we weren’t allowed to have new phones,” Villalobos said.“The
first thing I would do when I had it was call my family immediately because I would miss them so much during the week." During the time Villalobos was in El Sembrador, his father got very ill. Villalobos wasn’t able to leave school without his mother picking him up. She couldn’t take him out since she was far away, so she had to call the school to let the administrators know that Villalobos needed to be dismissed. That’s when his mother decided that they would move to the U.S. for a better life of their own. Villalobos dropped out of school and packed his bags to start his new journey. “When my mother first told me that we had to go to the U.S., I wasn’t very excited. It wasn’t that I was scared, I just didn’t want to leave the environment I was in,” Villalobos explained. “After thinking about it and seeing the positives, I thought about what it would be like to live in a totally different country and finally reunite with my family again.” Villalobos has very few family members in the U.S., including his older brother, a McMahon alumni, who he hadn’t seen for years. The process of Villalobos and his mother coming to the U.S. as immigrants was overwhelming, but they knew that it would be worth it. “I felt very happy once I got to see my brother again. Although we don’t talk as much as we used to, we still are close,” Villalobos said. Villalobos has had to adjust to many things since moving to Norwalk, but Villalobos says he likes McMahon. “This school is a bit more relaxed and simple, but I imagine as you go into a higher grade, it will start to get more difficult.” As Villalobos gets more comfortable with the school, and its demands, he hopes to take advantage of other opportunities the school has to offer. “Since I started the school a year late, I want to focus on sports next year and maintaining my grades.” Villalobos hopes to try out for several sports teams next year, including his favorite, soccer, where he hopes to follow in his older brother's footsteps. Ultimately, Villalobos’ future is very important to him, as well as his family. He wants to make them proud. Wherever Villalobos lands, he plans on taking advantage of all that is offered to him, just as he has always done. “In the future, I plan on graduating, getting into a good college, and becoming an engineer. I know that by studying and working hard I will be able to make that happen.”
Senators to Watch: McMahon’s Collegiate Athletes Lacrosse Edition •
Justin Forde: University of Miami (Track) • Margie Hernandez
Troy Bardos: Central CT State University (Track) Isabel Anbar: James Madison University (Swimming) Chloe Ortolano: Providence College (Soccer)
Francesco Greco: Becker College (Baseball) William Acuna: Albertus Magnus College (Lacrosse) Peter Young: UMass Boston (Lacrosse) Maxwell Pomponi: Northampton College (Baseball)
The McMahon girls lacrosse team has
Not only has girls lacrosse gotten better over the years, but boys lacrosse has also started to improve. With star goalie Peter Ripperger having left for University of Delaware, John Gatt must try and fill his shoes to keep McMahon’s record where it was last year, or even better.
started to climb the ladder of success over the past two years by making States for the first time in eight years last season. The team has averaged eleven goals per game, which is twice as high as the boy's lacrosse team. Returning starter, Caitlyn Hocker, has had a great time with the team for the last three years and believes the program is headed in the correct direction: “I think MLax [Brien McMahon Lacrosse] has a very bright future. The program is building and our coaches have worked hard to bring up the intensity of the program.” Known for her dedication to the sport, Hocker knows that the team has potential because they embrace hard work and persistence. McMahon lacrosse has taken a turn for the best in the last two years and now their number one goal is to make it to the second round of States. “I hope to raise the level of play at every practice and continue to encourage everyone to work their hardest," Hocker said.
“Pete was a really great goalie so I was able to learn a lot from him over the past three years. I've put a lot of work in recently preparing myself for this season, so I'm definitely excited for the challenge,” said Gatt. The team’s record last year was 5-11 with an average of fewer than six goals per game. In order to make it to States or FCIACs, the team is going to have to raise their game and beat more of the higher-level CT teams. “I think the future is really bright for McMahon lacrosse. We truly have one of the best coaching staffs in the FCIAC that are dedicated to us becoming a top program. I hope that in a few years we'll be able to compete with the best teams in the state.”
Eddy Vargas: Iona College (Soccer)
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THE COMMITMENT •
It's official, one of McMahon’s best athletes is heading to the
University of North Carolina. Not for basketball or track, but rather to play for the #14 nationally ranked soccer team. However, it wasn’t always this way. In January, news first broke that Jonathan Jimenez (‘19), who has played for the Academy NYCFC team the past four years, had committed to Stetson University, marking the next step for one of Norwalk’s most successful, yet underrated, athletes. Stetson, a small Division I soccer school, offered Jimenez a full scholarship to play, but to Jimenez it quickly seemed to be a bad fit. “I felt pressured into making the decision with the timeline that was given to me by Christian Neague [Stetson Coach]. It just didn't feel right,” said Jimenez. Jimenez was committed to Stetson for a total of five days until he decommitted with doubts of his decision. Jimenez reached out to his present NYCFC coach, Matt Pilkington, during the gap of his decommitment. He sought advice and help in hopes of being able to reach out to the other colleges that were interested in him prior to his commitment to Stetson. Jimenez had received offers from Villanova, Georgetown, UCLA, Louisville, Iona, Stetson, UConn, Penn State, and UNC.
“When I first received the text message, I was very excited and especially humbled with the opportunity he presented to me,” said Jimenez. After 10 minutes of communicating, both Jimenez and Carlos Somoano [the coach of North Carolina] agreed to schedule an official visit for the last week of January. At the official visit, Jimenez was presented with a tour of the campus and the new stadium that is currently being built for soccer. While in North Carolina, Jimenez had a meeting set up at the end of the tour that involved soccer related questions and a financial scholarship breakdown. This time, it felt right. After the meeting, Jimenez verbally committed to UNC. “I was in the room with two of the assistant coaches and head coach. At the moment, I was nervous because it was a big decision that layed out my future,” said Jimenez. Although it has been a longer journey than he had expected, Jimenez had found the best spot for him. “When I was presented with the fact that they were giving me a full scholarship I was shocked. Inside, I felt truly happy and grateful.”
A couple of weeks later, the coach of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, texted Jimenez expressing his interest.