2018 PrideTime Magazine

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Military Minded Students (PG 11) The Boy Behind the Paintbrush (PG 8)

Our Athlete, Her Brother (PG 4)

PrideTime Magazine FEATURES


[p8]The Boy Behind


the Paintbrush

Pieces of this student’s artwork have been featured in not only local art shows, but can be found on all green line stops on the NYC subway. Who is this BMHS artist? [BY BRYANNA PEREZ]



ter 30 years in the medicinal chem field, Mr. Emmanuel isn’t your average science teacher. From publishing patents to moving across the globe, he has accomplished it all.

portunity to study abroad is a life-changing experience. Lorenzo Paliotta, who is visiting from Rome, Italy, loved it so much that he decided to stay for the entirety of his senior year.





The Man Who p11 From Italy to p14 The Art of Made Your Medicine Af- McMahon Having the op- SoundCloud He is no Lil



Xan, but Leandro Marin, known to many as Famous Dro, has been making waves in the Norwalk and SoundCloud music scene. So how does this senior create his tracks? [BY JACK KELLER]







By Taylor Livingstone, Johnny Grasso, & Natalie Zullo

Freshman Year 2014-2015


a freshman compared to now, you would be shocked by how much change you go through. The four years fly by so fast, so don’t take it for granted. Everyone grows as a person, metaphorically and literally.”

Sharod Blackwell First Time Taking the PSAT’s 2015-2016


rolled out of bed at 7:20 for the PSAT and got to school shocked. I looked at the questions on the test wondering if there was actually a right answer and that was the moment I knew I wasn’t smart.”

Saying Goodbye to Mrs. Koroshetz Kathleen Downey


one ran the house like Susie K, she was McMahon’s biggest fan and support system. Her smile and friendly face brought sense of comfort and family to the school.”

Elizabeth Murphy

School Walkout 2017-2018 “My Tatyanna Molina

experience was extremely positive! I think it was one of the only activism events that we all, as a school, felt strongly about. I’m glad we all got the opportunity to learn and voice our opinions at the student-run walkout.”



Our Athlete, Her Brother. One student’s responsiblity of leading the team and caring for his younger sister. By Kelete Sherald & Tsai Zoe

Even though we know him as a

top-notch athlete, Justin Forde’s little sister knows him as a brother who prepares her breakfast every morning. Justin Forde (‘19) is a three-sport athlete- he plays football, basketball, and track and field. Track is his most notable sport, since he is ranked nationally for track and field for the high jump. Most student-athletes primarily worry about balancing school and sports, but Forde faces additional responsibilities back at home. Everyday after practice, Forde has to take care of his 9-yearold little sister, Maliyah. “It’s more of me being strict with her and trying to raise her to be a nice girl... I’m her big brother but it’s always been like I’m her dad because of how much I’ve been there,” says Forde.

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Being the second parent to her, Forde values showing her how to carry herself in life. Teaching her how to act properly in the house and in public are just some of the lessons he has pushed for her to learn. Athletes at McMahon face long practice hours daily, and since Forde

“I’m her big brother but it’s always been like I’m her dad because of how much I’ve been there.” plays sports year-round, he has faced a lot of struggles when figuring out how to take care of his sister.

“I’ve had to bring her to football practices and have her sit on the sidelines. I’ve also had to bring her to basketball practices,” explained Forde. Other than his sister being on the sidelines supporting him, Forde also has his devoted grandparents cheering him on. “They have always taught me to keep my head up when times get rough since everything is gonna pay off in the end,” Forde shares. His dad is also one of the people that made him the person he is today. “My dad is a big part of my life because I don’t talk to my mom about things I talk to my dad about even though he’s miles away.” His whole family is supportive and loud at games, embarrassing him at times. His sister is also there to cheer him on. Through everything, she will always be his number one fan.

2018 McMahon Football By Daniel Izquierdo and Preview Isaias Martinez New head coach, Jeff Queiroga, also known as Q,

plans to bring a new culture to the struggling team. He states, “If the players commit themselves, good things will happen. I told the team a story about when I was in high school playing football. My team only had three wins before I was a senior. At the end of my senior season, we went 8 and 2. Last year the team went 1 and 9... If these kids show commitment, then it will show results.” The three captains for the 2018 season are Michael Macari, Andrew Trujillo, and Thaddeus Burrus. Andrew started on varsity his junior year as a safety on defense. “I think that there are many things that are different this year...the bond that we have as players on and off the field can help in the long run with team communication.”

Michael Macari, a starter linebacker on defense for two seasons, led the team in tackles as a sophomore. Macari states, “My goal as of right now, and what I believe should be the teams goal, is to win week one. Once we win against Wilton, we can move on to our second goal to win the next game.” Thaddeus, one of the key linemen on both the offensive and defensive team, believes that their offseason will be the key to their success.“It’s very crucial. We have endurance and strength to compete when the time comes, and we are physically capable to play a game for 40+ minutes.”

Our 2018 Commits Olivia Leone Sacred Heart University Women’s Soccer

Mikayla Fosina Iona College Women’s Soccer

Peter Ripperger University of Richmond Men’s Lacrosse

Cameron Kelly SCSU Football

Hayley Linder Wesleyen University Swimming

Chris Druin Utica College Football

Savannah Buzzeo Lehigh University Track and Field


Italy to McMahon By Carlin Barton


orenzo Paliotta (‘18) is not your average student at Brien McMahon High School. Paliotta is part of a small minority of students at McMahon who are spending a year abroad in America from a foreign country. Paliotta is from Rome, Italy, and boasts how close he lives to the famous Colosseum. He was inspired to travel to the U.S. by his high school, Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II, where they encourage students to study abroad during their fourth year. Paliotta then obtained a student visa to stay in America from September 2017 to December 2017. Before arriving, he was able to get in touch with a distant uncle already living in America, whose grandson is a senior and gave him a place to stay. At first coming to the U.S., being the new kid, and adjusting to American school life was difficult for Paliotta. However, Paliotta says he was able to use the fact that he was the center of attention, due to his Italian accent, to his advantage. Paliotta also says that he thinks the process has made him “much more outgoing compared to before.” He also notes how it was difficult to establish close friendships

“It was a little overwhelming; I’m usually a little shy at the beginning but it was really fun, and I used this to make friends.” and get over the “exchange student” stereotype. “I didn’t want to just be the exchange student; people would eventually get bored after those initial curious questions.”

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Photo Credit: Nick Chacon Fortunately for Paliotta, language was not much of an issue. He has been speaking English since he was six, as English is a mandatory language to learn for children in Italy. Paliotta is also fluent in Spanish and Italian, and speaks some French. At McMahon, Paliotta thrived as a student. He studied Chinese in CGS and played for the varsity soccer team (he played soccer in Italy as part of a private club). He made “really good friends,” improved his English skills, and lived the American life. Paliotta enjoyed his time so much that when

December arrived, which is when he had planned to return to Italy, he decided to stay at McMahon and graduate with the class of 2018. Paliotta then reveals that he isn’t ‘really’ graduating. He explains that when he goes back to Italy, he will complete the last fifth year of high school. He jokes that “one more diploma doesn’t hurt” and that two graduations mean two parties. “I wanted to live my experience all the way to the end, and didn’t want to miss the best part of American high school: prom and the diploma.”


from PAKISTAN PONUS By Jennifer Romero Illustration by Shania Chacon


ainab Ejaz (‘20) was 11years-old when she traveled 6,461 miles to Norwalk, CT. Nervous, she was surrounded by all sorts of strangers in the U.S. She was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, but holds Pakistani nationality. For Zainab, the thought of going to another school in another country was scary. When she came, she met her grandfather and other relatives that helped ease the transition into another country. Her first American school was Ponus Ridge Middle School. There, she met her role models and forever favorite ESL teachers. She adds

that, “they were so helpful and polite to me. They both helped me improve my English, and I will never forget them. They are my favorite teachers and my role models.” Although at first anxious, the teachers and students had eased her concerns. Now, she is 17 years old and a sophomore here at Brien McMahon where she takes grade level and CGS classes. Zainab loves learning about other cultures that CGS provides through all the performances it has from students of other countries, but also loves sharing and teaching others about her own culture.

“It was a dream for me to learn Arabic and I was able to follow it because of CGS.” Zainab explains. Her Arabic teacher, Mr. Eldigwy, has been very helpful to her for the last two years. Sometimes, she gets homesick and explains how she misses both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. To McMahon, she encourages the students to research her culture further to understand that it is, “cool, unique, and beautiful.” Her story of coming to the U.S. is an awe-inspiring example of how cultures come together to coexist.


By Bryanna Perez

Fmental or Connor Sovak, health issues ran

Connecticut. I would ask her questions about how art school has helped her deep into the family tree. with her artistic backGoing into the summer ground. Hearing her of his junior year, Sovak talk about everything so decided to pick up draw- professionally was inspiring again to relieve some ing. That’s when I realized of his stress. that I could feel comfortable centering myself “I had always drawn since around something I felt I was little; everything passionately towards.” would just come back to life and make sense.” Sovak submerged himself in art culture, fashion, Last summer, Sovak and music. Just like most worked as a waiter for artists, every one of Sothe Rowayton Seafood vak’s designs has a perrestaurant, where he met sonal meaning to it. someone who had influenced him into taking his “I have a lot of relatives art to a new level. in Paris and other places in Europe like Italy and “I ended up working with Monte Carlo which has a this girl who was attend- fairly large effect on my ing art school in upstate

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The Boy Be Paintb

style. I use a lot of European settings and concepts for inspiration no matter what I’m doing.”

According to Sovak, there’s a lot of detail and random placement in each one of his pieces that most wouldn’t expect to Artists get inspired by the work together. many places around the world. For him, it’s New “The work that I have York. done is based off of a personal experience whether “I get my inspiration it’s a feeling or attraction from New York City and I’ve had with someone. it’s influential artists like It’s like following a map Basquiat and Warhol. I of my life.” like to incorporate their modern takes in my work Emmet Towey (‘19), who which is why I would is Sovak’s friend of ten consider myself a visual years, describes him as artist. I think people like angsty and unruly. While my style because it has most people saw a change this disorganized look in Sovak, Emmet felt that that at the same time is nothing about him was well put together.” different.


Behind the brush “The only thing that changed as time progressed is how boujee he gets. That, and his hair gets longer,” Emmet explained.

Photo Credit Charlie Johnson

Something that has become important to Sovak is advertising his artwork to the world. Using his social media platform, he makes sure to expand his name in a variety of ways.

Sovak describes this style of advertising as ‘fan art’ for some of his favorite music artists. He focuses more on the artist who follow the same style that he does.

York but it has also been seen in a show that Jarold Eastman curated recently.

Sovak’s work has also been displayed at the Even during school, Norwalk Silvermine Sovak never misses the “There’s a deeper mean- Gallery along with other chance to be creative. ing and connection to it. artist like Emmet Towey. Sarah Swain, an art “If I didn’t have an All of the pieces I have teacher at Brien McInstagram, I don’t think left on the subway stops Until then, Sovak will Mahon, had a lot to say people would know are tributes to the hip continue to make art about Sovak’s character I’m into art. I’ve gotten hop group A$ap Mob and label it with his ‘speand artwork. offers from people to because they’re based cial signature.’ customize their sneakers out of Harlem neighbor“Connor’s work covers and other clothing as hoods.” everything from sculp- well. Back in Decemture to fashion design ber, I started doing this Sovak has put his art and sometimes all in the thing where I do street work at E 14th St, 33rd same work. His work inspired work on a can- St, 21st St, and 23rd Sthas been developing as vas and leave it on the all green line. a sort of ‘planned chaos’ subway stops around the where he’ll define a pro- city.” Not only has Sovak’s cess while working.” work been seen in New


“Productivity, time management, art, theoretical knowledge - that is what anyone going into chemistry and wanting to follow a career should develop.” -Emmanuel


raduating college at an age younger than most and starting elementary school at three years old isn’t that common. Studying in cities from Port de Paix (Haiti), France and New York, Mr. Michel Emmanuel grew up in a family of educators and professionals who fostered in him an interest in science and education. With several published patents and over twenty-five years of experience in the medicinal chemistry field, Emmanuel doesn’t just teach from the textbook, he brings real world experience to the classroom. As a young boy in Port de Paix, Haiti, Emmanuel spent his mornings full of tears as he watched his older brothers and mother go off to school. To prevent future tantrums, his mother suggested, “Let's take him and sit him in a corner of the room and maybe he can amuse himself with some toys.” At just three, Emmanuel started his schooling and paid more attention to the teacher rather than the toys. As a kid, Emmanuel

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The Man Who Made Your Medicine By Grace O’Malley & Angelika Kyrkos

wanted to be a doctor, but his fear of blood interfered with that. “I decided to apply my love for chemistry, which was the next best thing,” Emmanuel said. After moving to Brooklyn and starting college, Emmanuel discovered chemistry. His passion for chemistry stemmed from the fact that it was more than just a science. “It’s a moving science,” Emmanuel says, “It offers tangible connections to the world that we experience daily. That's what I like about it.” Before finishing his last year of college, Emmanuel was asked by the Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation to work for them. “It was my first and only job,” Emmanuel said, “I worked there for thirty years.” That’s where he had the opportunity to go to graduate

school. The period of ten to fifteen years it takes to research and develop new medicines requires multiple steps and involves many obstacles. One of them is patent publication. This step legally secures the process of making a drug. With a simple Google search, one can find all of the patents Emmanuel contributed to. To many, publishing a patent is a great achievement, but Emmanuel was very humble about it. “I was like: ‘Yeah that's cool’.” When Emmanuel had exhausted his time at the Boehringer Ingelheim lab, he decided to go into teaching. “Been there, done that. I accomplished my goal there... Sometimes you have to do something else, something different,” Emmanuel said

with a smile. The transition to teaching was easy, considering he had always taken new scientists under his wing at the lab. Emmanuel became a high school teacher knowing the impact he can have on students. “It's more interesting to shape new lives than to redirect old lives. That's where you make the difference, in high school,” Emmanuel added. Despite the dread that many students have of walking into chemistry class, Emmanuel implores students to disregard the stereotypes surrounding those who love science. “Everybody thinks chemists are geeks but that's not true... We’re pretty cool and we’re hard working,” he laughs.


MILITARY MINDED STUDENTS By Julia Ely, Liz Kelly, Michelle Perea, & Darren Battle

Maddy Gordon


ince she was a freshman, Maddy Gordon has been enrolled in CGS at McMahon. However, global studies was not a passion of hers from the start. School took some time getting used to before she realized what she was really interested in. As she thought about it more, Maddy came to a realization that her interest in language and love of travelling all pointed towards something that really intrigued her: the military. “I wanna be a linguist in the military for Arabic and Chinese,” Maddy claimed. Maddy was awarded with the ROTC scholarship, which provides the winner a full-ride to the college of their choice. Maddy is committed to Syracuse Univerity and will serve full-time in the Army for eight years after graduating. “I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than myself,” Maddy concluded.

Tatiana Arias

“I definitely did not expect

myself to be in this position... Freshman year I always knew I was working towards a bigger goal. I just never knew what exactly that was,” explained Tati Arias. When asked what her biggest accomplishment was, Arias said, “My biggest accomplishment is getting an appointment to both the Naval Academy and the Military Academy. It just showed me that all of my hard work paid off.” Arias will begin her journey next fall when she enters the doors of The Naval Academy.

Justin Cardenas

“One night we were doing laun-

dry and a soldier went downstairs with nothing but a fitness jersey, underwear, and shoes. The drill sergeant saw that and was upset that no one stopped him from dressing like that and made us run up and down the stairs all night, if anyone stopped he would make us do 150 push ups.” Boot camp took a toll on Justin mentally as well as physically. For one of their training events they had “N.I.C at night” which stood for Night Infiltration Course. The event consisted of drill sergeants taking the soldiers to a long field as they instructed them to crawl to the end of the field while going through mud, explosions, and tall grass. Justin was motivated to get through this by doing it for himself and his family. Justin explained “Boot camp made me appreciate what I have in life and made me want to make the most of my life.”


Hand in Hand: Turning Grief into Relief

By Ahjunae Williams

Many teens say being in high

school is hard, but they don’t know the half of it. At least 1.5 million children are living in a single-parent household because of the death of one parent according to Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing. There is at least one high schooler that will lose a parent every month. Juniors, Jamie Hogan and Katie Costin, know this statistic a little too well. In October, both of their lives took an unexpected turn. Jamie’s mom passed away on October 6th from a heart issue and Katie’s mom passed away on October 19th from a longtime sickness. “I don’t think people understand how much you regret and how much you wish you did differently,” said Jamie. Since then it’s been hard for him to get through his most important high school year. Jamie continued to try and keep his work up and attending school as regularly as he could. Katie’s mother got sick in August and was in the ICU for two weeks. Katie went to see her everyday. In October, Katie noticed that her mom needed to go back into the hospital. Weeks later, Katie got the news that her mother only had one day left to live. When her mother was in the hospital, Katie had a lot of absences. She didn’t care about anything other than her mother’s well-be-

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ing. After her mom passed away, she was out of school for two weeks. All she could do was sleep and cry. “Sometimes I don’t care about anything and my mind just feels foggy. Holidays are not the same. It hurts to see people talk about their mom on Mother’s Day. It’s not something I can relate to anymore,” Katie said, “Some teachers don’t understand and it makes it hard to get good grades.” However, Katie felt nothing but support from a lot of her teachers, friends, and other faculty members when she returned to McMahon. Dr. Allen and Ms. Leeds were a great help to her. Katie decided to get a tutor and she went to extra help to get back to where she needed to be. College has always been a big part of her life. She wanted to make her mom proud. The Den for Grieving Kids, an organization that helps kids get through

a grieving period after losing a loved one, greatly helped Katie. “The den group is a nice break from class. I get to talk about how I feel without getting judged. I get to relate to others in the same situation, it’s nice to be supportive to others,” stated Katie. Taking it day by day, Katie said, “It’s hard not having my biggest motivator, I feel like there’s no point sometimes. I just have to think about making her proud and knowing that she would want me to succeed.” Jamie’s mom is still a big part of his life. “I think about her and what she would want for me. I make decisions based upon that,” said Jamie. After much hard work, Jamie made senior open championships for swimming and Katie raised her grades and GPA.




No Mold, Still Problems O

By Alejandra Bonilla & Brendan Duddy

n October 17th, 2017, The Occupational Safe- It required the Board of Education to switch ty and Health Administration (OSHA) published to environmentally safe cleaning products. a report following an intensive investigation into Thomas Seuch, voiced his personconcerns regarding air quality at Brien McMahon. al concerns when saying, “In my opinThe investigation lasted several days and includ- ion, in some cases, no. Some of the proded interviews with a handful of teachers. A series of ucts need additional time on the surface.” air tests were performed and McMahon was inspectIn 2006, McMahon underwent an enored thoroughly by OSHA officials. The report had mous renovation, adding 120,000 square concluded that while there isn’t a harmful amount feet to the building. McMahon now stands of mold in the school, there is a lack of ventilation at about 350,000 square feet with over 2,000 through the school, and low levdaily attendees. With els of oxygen in the courtyard. all those people in the When asked about this, during the day, “By the end of Septem- school Scott Hurwitz, principal, said, questions raise about “Anything that was identi- ber my skin, my eyes, and how well maintained the fied as ‘need to be addressed’ my breathing were dif- school is with what short in that report, was addressed.” time there is to clean. ferent. It took me years However, art teacher, Ms. “We have day and night to figure out that maybe Wolfe, and health teacher, Ms. custodians but they are Sullivan, both feel they have it was the environment limited in numbers, that’s been greatly affected by the air that I was teaching in.” done by contract with quality here at McMahon. Afcentral office and the othter switching classrooms, Wolfe er thing is this school gets explained, “My eyes would used probably more than turn bright red. They would get so severe that I any other schools in the district,” Seuch said in would have to see a eye surgeon. They got real- regards to the size of the custodial staff at Mcly bad, to the point where my eyes swelled shut.” Mahon. He later went on to say that he believes Showing similar symptoms to Wolfe’s, Sul- that there should be a third shift of custodians livan said, “By the end of September my skin, due to the amount of foot traffic in the school. my eyes, and my breathing were different. This issue will have several long lasting efIt took me years to figure out that maybe it fects on those within the building.“I wanted to was the environment that I was teaching in.” work until the end of my career here because The report contains evidence that the cause may I love the kids here and my staff. I built the be due to large amounts of dust and when paired with department and I had to step down as departpoor ventilation, can cause some serious health issues. ment chair because I was never here,” statWhat could be a cause to the problem? One factor to ed Wolfe. “I’ve been teaching for 35 years,” consider is that Norwalk Public Schools have recent- Wolfe said, “I’ve spent more time in the past ly switched cleaning supplies after the Connecticut two years on sick time than I have collecState Bill 6496, or “Green Cleaning Program,” passed tively for the 35 years. That speaks volumes.”

The Art of SoundCloud By Jack Keller


steady beat plays quietly off an iPhone speaker. It’ll only take two, maybe three quick listens. But in those quick listens there is much to be done. A flow to be found, a style to be taken on, a tone to be implemented, and the right words to be chosen. It’s poetry and composing infused into one, and takes true talent to achieve. It’s the artistic process of McMahon senior, Leandro Marin, a.k.a. FamousDro. The name FamousDro refers back to when Leandro got his start rapping. “My name was originally Dro, but my first song ever made blew up with over a thousand views in a day, and people just started calling me ‘Famous Dro.’ It stuck with me,” described FamousDro. That song is called “FYB,” and was dropped about a year ago with two childhood friends, Chief Dinero and B Huncho. Today, it has over 16,000 views on SoundCloud. For FamousDro, rapping is more than a hobby he does to kill time with friends. It may have started out that way, but now it consumes his daily life. His process goes as follows: he choses a beat to work off of, then begins to find his flow. He’ll decide the flow based on what works with the song. If it’s a fast paced beat with a prevalent bass, he might chose a drill-styled delivery. If the beat is slower with a lighter tone, he might chose a more chill delivery. After that he writes his lyrics (the harest step), then takes his work-in progress to

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a producer, who will charge him by the track. There’s an anonymous teenage producer in Norwalk who only charges $20 per track, but other studios can easily charge north of $100. There, he works with the producer to alter the beat, alter his flow, and find a healthy balance of the two. This is where the magic is made. His final step is to upload his track onto SoundCloud and advertise it on social media. FamousDro got his start when he was in the 7th grade, and back then, he rapped into his iPhone microphone and saved his rhymes to voice memos. Each rap was immensely different, and all were modeled after mainstream rappers he admired. It’s easy to see how his humble beginnings have influenced him today. When asked how he would describe his rap style, he paused for a minute, to look around the room. “What’s the word I’m looking for…” he started. When he finally found the word he gave me a beaming smile before saying, “variant.”He couldn’t have chosen a better word. Variant not only describes him as a musician, but it also speaks to the raw talent he has as a writer. “It’s easy to copy another artists’ style or flow, but I like to change it up and adapt to the track,” said FamousDro. That’s a skill we rarely see nowadays, especially with SoundCloud-turned-mainstream rappers like Lil Pump and SixNine (two unadaptable rappers) gaining so much ground in today’s rap game. “He’s honest. A lot of other rappers- Norwalk rappers too- lie in their songs. He doesn’t lie about what he goes

through or what he has to do,” said Rocco Luppino (‘18), a fan of FamousDro. FamousDro is more than just another face in a cluttered crowd of Norwalk rappers. His hard work and dedication to his music has quickly made him a refreshing face in this town’s rap scene, and he’s getting bigger by the day. His songs can be heard casually at parties or in the halls of McMahon, and he’s developing into a household name in Norwalk. With potential like Leandro’s, the sky’s the limit, and he’s done nothing to make us believe that he won’t reach it.


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