Pano: Students speak out about mental health awareness pp. 10-11
News: RHS adopts a section of Rock Creek p. 3
Features: RHS Date Lab sends two seniors on a date p. 12
Volume 50 Number 3
2100 Baltimore Road, Rockville, Maryland 20851
February 6, 2018
County Executive Isiah Leggett Will Review, Modify Budget March 15
Photo by Sarah D’Souza Superintendent Jack Smith presents his budget for the 2019 fiscal school year to the MCPS Community and the Board of Education Dec. 19 in the RHS auditorium.
By SARAH D’SOUZA Editor-in-Chief Superintendent Jack Smith proposed his operational budget for the MCPS 2019 fiscal school year in the RHS auditorium Dec. 19. Smith proposed a $2.59 billion budget, a $67 million increase from the previous year. The operational budget will go through many stages until it is finalized in July. After Smith’s Dec. 19 presentation, the school board has until March 1 to adjust the recommended budget with feedback from hearings, work sessions and community members. Many organizations including various PTAs, SGAs, employee associ-
ations and other advocacy groups can also contribute feedback. “We use feedback from a lot of people now, but I think we have to spend more time gathering feedback from our schools’ staff and our school communities about what is important to them, and what will help them reach their goals and aspirations,” Smith said in an interview with the Rampage. The next step is for the school board to send the modified budget to County Executive Isiah Leggett, who will then combine it with the county’s overall budget by March 15. Then, it is up to the Montgomery County Council (MCC) to officially adopt the new budget around the end of June. The operating budget included
Or Can It? By SARAH D’SOUZA
For years, MCPS has been implementing filters to Chromebooks which limit the websites students can visit in order to minimize distractions and to safeguard students. This year in particular, RHS has experienced an uptick in its use of Chromebooks in order to make technology more accessible in the classroom. In turn, students and staff have encountered new hurdles when navigating the internet due to the most recent MCPS filters.
Some of the filters applied since January have been limiting students’ abilities to do classwork through Chromebooks. For example, one filter update was that students and teachers can only log into their MCPS email on Chromebooks, blocking logins for personal emails. Furthermore, students cannot log onto their MCPS email if using another student’s logged-in Chromebook. “I was told that you guys could log into your personal accounts the whole beginning of the year. Around the same time that they started
to implement this new filter is the time that you guys couldn’t log in to your personal accounts,” IT systems specialist Jennifer Lomax said. “That’s when I sent in an email about the Yahoo, the Bing, and the personal email accounts. They told me Yahoo and Bing were being blocked on purpose.” As students and teachers began experiencing these difficulties, they contacted Lomax for help. Lomax then filled out a help desk ticket with Unicenter, the technology support office, to ask about the new changes.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 3
plans to include new career pathway programs for high school students including cybersecurity, fire safety, aviation, agriculture science and public safety among other programs. “I’m very excited about hearing about all of the opportunities for students who might not want to follow the usual college pathway, who might want to look into different avenues that they have before getting interested in different things they can do,” MCPS instructional specialist Staci Lang said. Lang was a former math teacher at RHS and now works as an administrative intern in the MCPS central office, and said that the clear focus on schools, students and classrooms was important in showing that Smith would attempt to make necessary budget cuts in other areas. Overall, the meeting focused on many big-picture ideas of where spending would be geared toward, with less discussion of the allocation of specific dollar amounts. “They gave a lot of examples of where their money was going, but not how they were going to spend it, and that was one of the main focuses that I came here, because I didn’t know where certain dollar amounts would be placed,” senior Antonio Robinson said. “That’s why I kind of wanted to come here to eliminate that vagueness, but that didn’t happen as much as I had hoped.”
RAM Hockey on the Rise Rockville and Magruder Hockey Team Generates Popularity Among Students By ALEX REYNOLDS Online Editor-in-Chief The chill of the 20 degree ice spreads through the arena. Hockey sticks slap one another searching for the puck. A raucous group of students roar as they huddle behind the opposing goalkeeper, banging against the glass feverishly. Rockville and Magruder (RAM) Hockey (6-5-2), with one game left in their 14-game regular season, is on pace to have their best season since 2013 when the team was Richard Montgomery/Rockville (RMR). RAM is currently the third best in Montgomery County Division II behind the Sherwood Warriors and the D.C. Stars.
“We started with a good group of guys and we’ve been pretty successful so far. We try to get better every game and improve with time,” senior alternate captain Finn Harty said. Rockville hockey started as RMR and joined the Maryland Student Hockey League (MSHL), a hockey league that operates outside of Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA), in 2013 to provide a way for club hockey players to represent their schools.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 20
News Briefs Board of Education Elects New Officers By AMY TRAN Editor-in-Chief MCPS Board of Education (BOE) members reelected Michael Durso as president and Shebra Evans as vice-president, both serving a one-year term for the third time, at a meeting Dec. 5. Durso was first elected for a four-year term in 2010 before being reelected in 2014. He is currently a member of the BOE’s Committee on Special Populations and is a retired educator with 13 years of experience as Springbrook HS’ principal from 1996 to 2009. He was also the principal for two high schools in Virginia and Washington D.C. Evans was first elected for a four-year term in 2016, and is currently on the Board’s Fiscal Management committee. She has been an officer in the Montgomery County Council of PTAs, vice presidents for Educational Issues and Programs, and has been the co-leader of the district’s African American Student Achievement Group.
Special Education Autism Program’s Cookie Business By ERIN BODE News Managing Editor
Beginning this year, the Special Education Autism program is making cookies and delivering them to classes and teachers through a program started by MCPS. The cookie business will continue throughout the school year and possibly into next year, depending on its success. Cookies are baked and delivered every Thursday with the hope of expanding to other days. “I reached the goal of getting the grant funds needed to start the business and our first two weeks were successful with sales,” special education teacher Caitlin Wise said. The grant funds were essential to starting the business and were approved by the transaction department in order to fund the business.
February 6, 2018
NEWS In Memoriam: David Robbins By MATTHEW DIFONZO Staff Writer
Rockville High School lost one of its most beloved alumni Nov. 30, 2017 when David Robbins (‘17) passed away peacefully at his home in Rockville from complications due to cancer. Robbins was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, during his sophomore year at RHS. It was initially isolated in his leg, but in his last eight months, the cancer spread to his lungs and spine. Robbins earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma through his hard work and determination which landed him at St. Mary’s College of Maryland for his freshman year. With his perseverance, he never let his diagnosis affect his focus in the classroom. English teacher Catherine Byrne felt a strong connection to Robbins as both a family friend and one of his teachers. “For me, David changed forever the way in which I teach. I had never Skyped with a student in class before, but David asked, and Ms. Lomax and Mr. Mirman installed a camera on my computer, and David Skyped into my sophomore English class--sometimes from his hospital bed, sometimes from bed at home,” Byrne said. “I thought this method of staying engaged with school was a genius stroke on his part, because when one is ill for a long time, it’s not just the illness that wears on us, but the isolation from others that can get us down. I admired David’s resolve to stay connected to RHS even when he was feeling his worst.” For those who knew Robbins, he was described as determined, intelligent, loving, kind-hearted, athletic and hardworking. Loved by the Rockville community, his supporters organized events such as the powderpuff football game and a basketball game where all proceeds were donated to the Robbins family to support David dur-
Photo by Esther Frances Longtime girlfriend Alicia O’Neil (‘17) poses with David Robbins (‘17) before prom last year, May 19, 2017, where they won prom king and queen. Robbins passed away Nov. 30, 2017.
ing his battle with cancer. Outside of the classroom, Robbins played travel Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball with “The Classics” and varsity basketball for RHS. He was named captain of the team his senior year under coach Todd Dembroski. “David was the toughest kid that I’ve ever coached. His perseverance was on display every day in practice. He rejoined the team just weeks after undergoing chemo,” he said. “He was a captain and a leader of our team and made sure that all our players played very hard every day.” In addition to Robbins’ hard work in the classroom, he was involved in many activi-
US Schools Reading Scores Drop By ERIN BODE News Managing Editor
New Girls Basketball Coaches Look to Succeed By EMILY NAGY Features Managing Editor
Varsity girls basketball welcomed new head coach Gretchen Gregg for their 2017-18 season with a renewed focus on team bonding and building on their strengths from last season. Gregg has extensive basketball experience at the high school and collegiate level in both playing and coaching. She worked in numerous camps throughout her collegiate days, and also gained experience through the Cornell Student Services Office as an intern and teaching assistant, where she graduated from in 2008. Gregg’s credentials made the interview process easier for the hiring committee and was carefully chosen after a series of interviews and applications. ¨[Gregg] went through an extensive interview process and then was unanimously picked by the committee,¨ athletic director Michael Hayes said. Gregg played four years of basketball at Cornell University and later coached women’s basketball as a graduates assistant at Lehigh University where she helped the team win two consecutive Patriot League Championships. After Lehigh, Gregg returned to Cornell to join the coaching staff. She came to RHS this year looking for a challenge quickly changing the team dynamic.
ties that impacted others in many ways. As a member of the Boy Scouts of America, Robbins attained the rank of Eagle Scout--the highest rank in scouting, achieved by fewer than four percent of all scouts. In middle school, Robbins also received one of Boy Scout’s highest honors: induction into the scouting honor society known as the Order of the Arrow. Robbins leaves a legacy at RHS about how to persevere in the wake of adversity. “David was a friend, a role model, and a leader. He will not be forgotten,” friend Nate Marshall (‘17) said.
Graphic by Amy Tran
In data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the U.S. rank dropped from fifth in 2011 to 13th in 2016 in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, (PIRLS,) an exam meant to measure reading ability. PIRLS is described on the NCES website as “an international assessment of student performance in reading literacy at the fourth grade” which includes 61 participating countries. The PIRLS first took place in 2001 and are organized by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The test is given every five years, with 2016 being the fourth study reported. Only 16 percent of U.S. students taking the test reached an advanced score of 625, as compared to Singapore’s 29 percent. With such a diverse population in the U.S., and particularly in MCPS, the ranking may be evidence of the importance of closing the growing achievement gap, affecting how curriculum is created and students are taught. “Our curriculum aims to challenge students in their thinking abilities; however, when students don’t come with the same background knowledge and vocabulary - this impacts their ability to grasp and understand texts,” said Rebecca McNiece, a fourth grade teacher at Rock Creek ES. McNiece said she is spending more time building those skills. With-
out those basic skills, students have trouble understanding deeper concepts. “As a teacher, I now have to spend time building this basic background knowledge which allows for less time to be spent focused on the deeper meanings within the text,” she said. McNiece is able to do this by showing her students pictures, discussing new words they have learned orally and playing games. The reading ability of U.S. fourth graders could potentially later affect high school students. “If we are trying to generally increase student performance, there are things we need to change and what that is and what the steps are is something we need to talk about,” English teacher Sean Pang said. Why the U.S. ranking continues to fall behind other countries is a matter of debate. Students have expressed concern that high school students in the U.S. are not being held to as high standards as other students around the world. In the Program for International Student Assessment taken by 15 year olds in 2015, the average scores of students in the United States was 497. This is compared to the highest ranking countries, Singapore at 535 and Hong Kong at 527. “I feel we prioritize children’s well being over children’s academic achievements. The fact is that a child is not here [at school] to have fun,” junior Leo Wagner said. “Children in other countries are often years ahead of American children by the time they exit high school or the equivalent educational level in another country.”
February 6, 2018 Students speak out on ‘Fake News’ “I get all my news from Twitter.” -senior Kevin Rogers “When I look at news articles, I check if the source is credible.” -sophomore Patrice Bilodeau
Teaching Media Responsibility MCPS Integrates Media Literacy Lessons into English Curriculum By ISSAC HIGGINS Staff Writer In an attempt to teach students to use media responsibly, MCPS partnered with Common Sense Education to bring forth what is being called the “Common Sense Media Initiative,” throughout MCPS schools beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The goal is to teach students nationwide how to consume and use media in a safe manner. “Media has changed a lot, and in the past year, it’s changed even more with politics, social media and with the global aspect of not just social media, but computer use and hacking and everything else, things have changed,” media specialist Sherry Weiss said. “MCPS is trying to be proactive and working with Common Sense Media
to teach kids not about the media, but how to use it, and how to use it ethically, responsibly and morally.” Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that specializes in training students, parents and educators on responsible use of technology in the 21st century. According to the their website, it “is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.” MCPS is creating lessons that are being incorporated into the English curriculum, as opposed to having standalone lessons. “This year, we had a year to slide in to it gradually, because it would take five lessons- a whole week of instructional time away from English or social studies,” Weiss said, “and instead it is being incorporated into the curriculum every time they do some-
CHROMEBOOKS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
“[To determine validity I] check multiple sources.” -senior Luke Guthrie
However, the response was that students and staff were never supposed to have access to their personal emails on Chromebooks and that the filters were put in place to keep the system secure. After these concerns with the new Chromebook restrictions were brought up to principal Billie-Jean Bensen, she contacted the MCPS Office of Technology. The Office responded by saying that it was a unanimous decision that schools countywide would not have access to their personal accounts for security reasons. While Bensen supported the emphasis on securing the network, she still said that the restriction caused conflicts with student learning. “I said [to the Office of Technology], ‘I turned in an entire cart of laptops in late August, early September because your office was advocating that Chromebooks can do everything...You’ve changed the rules halfway through the game here,’” Bensen said. “It’s January, I’ve got a newspaper, the yearbook, I even used SGA as another group of students who were working on fundrais-
thing requiring use of the Internet.” English Teacher Anne Ehlers has used Common Sense Media lessons in her ninth grade class, teaching students to determine “fake news” from “real news.” The quiz required students to determine the credible sources, which set off conversations about how they knew the sources were credible, Ehlers said. In the lessons, the students are taught to pull information for research from credible sources in order to avoid using false information in their projects. “In our most recent research, one of the things that was kind of frustrating for some of the kids is that we stuck solely with the online databases from the media center,” Ehlers said. “I explained why we were doing that because, yes, you can find tons of information on Google, but it is better to go where there is an already curated list.”
ers and getting advertisements for things and are constantly-- as part of a class-- as not even that it’s just after school, but that students within their classwork during the school day, have this issue and can’t get out.” Bensen and the county went on to discuss that the restrictions were affecting classwork instruction, and MCPS agreed to reopen access to personal emails at RHS for the rest of the school year. However, RHS is supposed to undergo Tech Mod, where older pieces of technology are replaced with newer versions, possibly over this summer which could affect the school. Tech Mod is supposed to happen around every four years, but the last one took place in 2013, and was pushed back a year due to budgetary constraints. “This year, [Tech Mod is]going to be a bigger issue because Chromebooks now count toward our inventory, so a lot of places where I have the older computers, we’re probably just going to have to get rid of them,” Lomax said.“When they do Tech Mod, they count computers versus student ratio, and this year our Chromebooks will count toward our ratio, which will hurt in the end when it comes to PCs (personal computers).”
February 6, 2018 4 RAMPAGE NEWS School Adopts, Clean Up Section of Rock Creek
Photos by Grace Goodman (Left) Senior David Barney reaches for a plastic bottle while senior Chris Ribaudo prevents Barney from falling into the frozen creek. (Right) Senior Shoshana Wahl picks up trash in the student parking lot.
By GRACE GOODMAN Associate Editor After a hike with her family though the Rock Creek trails behind RHS, English teacher Catherine Byrne was disappointed with the amount of litter in the creek. Coincidentally, her International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP) students were looking for a Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) project, which led her to contact the Rock Creek Conservancy. In October, RHS officially adopted a section of creek behind the school. In 2005 the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a grant to fund a group that could focus on the overwhelming threats to Rock Creek. In 2011 the organization was renamed Rock Creek Conservancy. The Rock Creek Conservancy is the only organization dedicated to Rock Creek and its surrounding parklands. Their goal is to restore the 33 mile creek and its surrounding parklands so that it can be appreciated by all visitors. “Although parkland borders much of the creek, the surrounding development threatens the health and beauty of these natural areas,” program manager John Maleri said. “Rock Creek Conservancy is uniquely positioned to foster outreach, education and ef-
forts to overcome threats to Rock Creek.” In order to protect these areas, the conservancy assembles stream teams, composed of people who adopt sections of the creek who are responsible for walking the creeks and reporting concerns to Rock Creek Conservancy. They organize trash cleanups and community outreach events. Byrne said she felt creating a stream team for her class’ CAS project would be a great fit. A CAS project is required in the IBCP program. The students have gone to clean up the creek three times this school year and plan to go at least another three times. “It’s nice knowing that I’m helping out the Rockville community by picking up the trash, but it’s disheartening coming back a month later and seeing it all there again,” senior Shoshana Wahl said. About two-thirds of the class goes down to the creek to clean up while the other third cleans up the student parking lot. Byrne said she finds that the parking lot need as much help as the creek. The most commonly found trash items are plastic bottles, plastic bags and soda cans. Since the creek is winding, a lot of the trash gets pushed up against the banks and caught in the brush, which makes extraction difficult. Another problem the volunteer students see is that many athletic teams will spell out words or numbers using cups that they
push into the fence. Over time, the cups eventually fall out and scatter down the hill. The participating students said they find it irresponsible that the cups are not picked up by the people who put them there. “Not cleaning up the cups causes them to go into the creek behind the fence and can hurt the wildlife when it gets left behind,” Wahl said. In addition to the project itself, CAS guidelines require students to reflect on the outcome of their project. After each visit to the creek, the students have to write a reflection on what they found, patterns of trash that they’ve noticed and goals for their next visit. “I learned that there are a lot of polluters out there, and they throw a lot of trash out. It makes me feel angry and upset that they are disrespecting our planet,” senior Matthew Swagart said. Byrne hopes to take students this year on a field trip to the local recycling center and to the Chesapeake Bay. Next year Byrne plans on continuing to clean up the creek with students and to either increase the number of visits or adopt an additional section of stream. “I hope they understand that what they do here with their trash and how they live in these eight hours can affect bigger things than them, like our watershed,” Byrne said.
Local Artist Wins Grammy
Photo courtesy of Derek Key Singer/songwriter Joshua Tillman, also known as Father John Misty, is from Rockville. He attended Wheaton HS and has recently won a Grammy.
By TEDDY ANDREW Staff Writer
Photo by Kelly DiFonzo (Left to right) Giacomo Pinto and Josue Gama-Chavez pose at the annual Best Buddies holiday party Jan. 9 in the cafeteria. The goal is to help Learning for Independence (LFI) students make new friends and help peer buddies become more sensitive.
Club Celebrates By ALEX FELLMAN Video Production
The Best Buddies Program hosted their annual holiday party Jan. 9 in the cafeteria. Best Buddies members and their families were invited to participate in a potluck dinner, dancing and various bonding activities, including cornhole and board games. First year Best Buddies advisor Emily Mellgren chose the activities based on student favorites, one of which is dancing. “I love to dance with my friends,” said Best Buddies member and LFI (Learning for Independence) student Asim Awan. The event is designed to be a positive environment for LFI students, their families and buddies to connect and get to know each other better.
“For the LFI students, the goal of the event is for them to make new friends who aren’t in their classes, someone who can be a familiar face in the hall that they can attend a sporting event with, or sit with at lunch,” Mellgren said. “The goal for peer buddies is for them to become more sensitive to people with different intellectual disabilities.” The peer buddies, or mainstream students, who attend events like this, work hard to make sure that everyone in the program feels included. “Events for best buddies are really fun and they are beneficial to everyone that goes,” peer buddy Stephen Orsini said. “It’s a really good opportunity to make everyone feel included, and to help people in the LFI program have a better social life.” The night ended with smiling students and families exchanging contact information and the buddies dancing out of the building. The Best Buddies program has grown substantially due to increased student involvement and more events, such as the holiday party, which helps spread awareness and bring LFI program and mainstream students together.
Locally-raised singer/songwriter Joshua Tillman, popularly known as Father John Misty, won one of the two Grammys he was nominated for following the release of his April 2017 album “Pure Comedy.” Tillman was raised in Rockville and attended Wheaton High School, graduating with the class of 2000. He and rapper Logic are two Montgomery County natives who were nominated for multiple Grammys this year. However, Misty is no stranger to the Grammy scene. His second solo album “I Love You, Honeybear,” was nominated in 2016 for best boxed or special limited edition package. His previous work in the band Fleet Foxes also earned a nomination for best folk album in 2012. No past nomination has resulted in a win, but this year saw Tillman pick up his first career victory “Pure Comedy” was first nominated for the best alternative music album, alongside artists Gorillaz, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem and ultimately lost to another Maryland-based group The National. Misty made his second appearance in the packaging category with “Pure Comedy” in contention to win best recording package. Anticipation for a Father John Misty Grammy win had been building among students since the album was released last year. “Father John Misty is such a talented singer-songwriter and it is about time he gets the recognition he deserves. His past two albums got snubbed, so it’s good to see the committee finally get it together and award him a win, even if it’s only for his packaging skills,” senior Julien Taupenot said. Next up for Father John Misty are a batch of February tour dates in Australia before he’s off to Europe to support “Pure Comedy.” He returns to the U.S. July 27 for the Panorama festival in New York with no other upcoming U.S. dates announced yet.
February 6, 2018
R AMPAGE Print Editors-in-Chief: Sarah D’Souza Rebecca Pujo Amy Tran
Online Editors-in-Chief: Gabe Reyes, Alex Reynolds Associate Editor: Grace Goodman Chief Copy Editor: Sarah Natchipolsky News Managing Editors: Esther Frances, Erin Bode Features Managing Editor: Emily Nagy Opinion Managing Editor: Kate Morey Sports Managing Editors: Elenna Mach, Zoe Moser Financial Specialist: William Wheeler Director of Photography: Noam Elfassi Graphic Designer: Mark Schaefer Staff Writers: Teddy Andrew, Aidan Brami, Olivia De’Ath, Matthew DiFonzo, Ulric Erickson, William Gangnath, Isaac Higgins, Jabril Mohamed, Iris Valentin Video Production: Alex Fellman Contributors: Kelly DiFonzo, Brady Doyle, Sarah Wagner Adviser: Nicholas Confino
The Rampage is published six times per year by the journalism students of Rockville High School at 2100 Baltimore Road, Rockville, MD 20851. We can be contacted at this address in room 2033 or by phone at (301) 517-8105. The Rampage and www.rockvillerampage.com are public forums that aspire to present the best obtainable version of the truth to the school, community and general public. Opinion sections are intended to provide an inviting environment for discussion and allow those on and off the newspaper staff the opportunity to express their beliefs. All unsigned editorials are the opinions of the newspaper staff, but all signed columns and articles solely express the views of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Rampage or the school population. The Rampage welcomes comments on school or community issues from students, staff and the community, but has the right to edit or condense letters to the editor. All other contents copyright Rockville High School journalism classes. All rights reserved.
Corrections: On page 12 Dec. 8 issue, it was incorrectly stated that Kim Magro graduated in 1996. She graduated in 1997. The Rampage is dedicated to correcting any errors that may appear in the newspaper. Those who wish to contact the paper for that purpose may email faculty advisor Nicholas Confino at Nicholas_B_Confino@mcpsmd.org
February 6, 2018
EDITORIALS Mental Health Deserves More Attention Schools Should Put More Emphasis on Making Resources Known The end of 2017 brought great tragedy to MCPS as students opening their Snapchat “stories” found black screens with a single colored heart symbolizing the lost of a student to suicide. Walter Johnson HS and Walt Whitman HS (WWHS) faced the tragedy directly, but no school community escapes the growing issue. RHS suffered the loss of Mark Guthrie (‘16) to suicide Feb. 12, 2017, which brought the community together as a tribute was made to him with his jersey number, “4” on the baseball backstop. MCPS needs to make a fuller, more robust effort to recognize the signs of depression and suicidal thoughts, because the issue is so widespread, the more people are educated on the topic, the greater the effort can be made to save young lives. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, more than 44,000 Americans kill themselves. This is an average of 21 suicides a day, five occurring within the ages of 15-19. Statistics can be hard to comprehend because they come off as numbers, not people. When multiple teens in our county commit suicide in less than a week the numbers are no longer just statistics, they are a jarring, emotional reminder that there are countless teens who suffer from a variety of mental health disorders and never receive enough help and support. Montgomery County is clearly hurting and before more tragedies fill our screens and hearts, it is time to have a serious discussion about ways to fund a concerted effort to educate all members of our community. Suicide Contagion is “a group of suicides
or suicide attempts, or both, that occur closer together in time and space than would normally be expected in a given community,” according to the CDC. Though this contagion continually occurs, there is not enough consistent prevention put in place in MCPS to prevent it. And what is currently available, is not widely known as seen in a recent survey by the Rampage. After WWHS lost a member of their community, there was a day dedicated to mental health at school. While it is admirable that they responded with assistance, it is unfortunate that the county did not also respond with a more widespread, concerted effort to educate all members of this community. Often it seems that providing help for mental illness is provoked only by such a tragic incident. Resources should be more accessible to students, even in schools that weren’t directly affected by the losses. Teens can find it hard to ask others for help when depression and other mental illnesses are glorified in today’s society and on social media. Netflix’s original series, “13 Reasons Why” may not intend to glorify mental illness and suicide, but the public perceived the main character’s story as more of an adventure for entertainment than truly addressing the ways to prevent such tragedies. Social media, on the other hand, is a platform on which teens feel pressure to perceive everything in their life as perfect. According to the American Psychiatric Association, there is a clear link between extensive time on social media and poor mental health conditions. Teens in 2018 live in a society filled with so much judg-
ment which can cause them to put on a facade and pretend everything’s okay, and the second they “crack,” no one sees them the same. Every year the issue is not approached in a serious way, the stigma around mental illnesses seems to get worse. Teens cannot admit that they are suffering when their elders experienced mental health help differently with more of a “don’t ask don’t tell” approach. The age gap decreases the likelihood that teens will express their feelings, which, when disregarded, have a detrimental impact. As a community, it is time that students, parents, staff and admin demand change. Discrediting the stigma around mental health disorders is the first step. This can be done through more of an emphasis on disorders in education. Society must take the personal initiative to increase awareness whether it be asking doctors, counselors or teachers for resources needed. The more educated society is on mental health, the more prepared people will be when encountering those who struggle. Students should be taught from a young age that people who have mental illnesses are not pariahs, and that mental illnesses can affect many different people in different ways. Providing more resources to prevent misconceptions and taking more time in school to make sure students who need help are getting it would be an appropriate first step. If we want to ensure that it is no longer a routine to open social media and see that black screen, it is time for everyone to take the blindfold off from over their eyes and face the hard truth that mental health awareness is not just a talking point, but a necessity.
College Visits Necessary Before Committing Planning for college is one of the most exciting and overwhelming parts of high school, and while students put in ample time and effort into researching and applying to schools, they often neglect one of the most critical parts of the process: visiting the colleges they are considering. Seniors frequently hear their peers talk about the lackluster effort they have put into researching college. Often they apathetically say that they have yet to visit schools and will only do so after they receive their acceptances. However, 37.2 percent of college students transfer at least once, according to a 2015 study conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. If students spent more time learning about their college options, perhaps this percentage would be significantly lower. Despite the fact that upperclassmen are allotted five excused days for college visits, these students often do not take advantage of this opportunity.
Illustration by Sarah Wagner
“Personally, I think they go unused,” attendance secretary Mary Norfolk said. “Very few students give me notes saying they were out due to a college visit.” The best way to know what kind of school is perfect is to take advantage of those days and experience a physical visit to a campus. Perhaps more importantly, students need to visit numerous schools so they have points of comparison to really determine what is the best fit. Visiting when classes are in session is a good way to guarantee that prospective students will be able to get the most accurate idea of what student life is like, according to a June 2015 article in Time Magazine.
Dear Editor, I think that more emphasis should be brought to the wellbeing of students. Talking in general about what the school needs to change to make kids at least a little more willing to come to school may go a long way towards the school’s policy actually changing. Simple issues like open lunch and unrestricted wifi are almost always complained about, and if they were made a schoolwide issue, there is a possibility that a loophole may be found to make everyone happy. -Anthony Wentt (‘18)
Admitted student days and open houses are informative at minimum but are unlikely to provide the most helpful and realistic version of daily life at school. But the problem is many students don’t even meet this minimum requirement. In addition, visiting a school before applying has other benefits when it comes to admissions. When prospective students sign up and take a tour, the school makes a note of this to show that the student has demonstrated interest, according a Dec. 2015 article on prepscholar.com. For some schools, this can give the applicant an advantage over those who have not visited. In an April, 2017 article in the
Dear Editor, I found the “Every 15 Minutes” article was very powerful and being a new student it was really interesting to me. I feel that the message would really reach the students with the reenactment. It would be even better if the article also addressed how the students could help the project happen by volunteering to get the money by doing different projects to help the cause. Hearing about how powerful the reenactment is to other students really made me want to see it for myself. Not only is this project really powerful, but it really affects the students which I feel should be a necessity for the students to see and be a part of. -Alexy Ary (‘18)
New York Times, psychologist Erica Reischer argued that students should not visit colleges because of the biases we may encounter during the visits. She claims that if while taking a tour we see a group of college students who appear to be having a good time, we are likely to think that we will have a good time too. If it is rainy during the tour or the tour guide is not competent, we will think poorly of the school. This advice grossly oversimplifies the decision making process. Recognizing possible biases is a significant part of decision making. But students need to see if the campus size fits their needs, if the dorms are acceptable and if different department programs appeal to their interests l. The best way to do this is by experiencing the campus in person. Seniors are about to spend four or more years of their life at a college, and if they want to enjoy their experience, they have to put in the work and do their research.
Dear Editor, I completely agree with the article about how stressful and confusing the college application process was. I believe that our counselors should give us more meetings with them one on one. Having the counselor pull you from a class may be annoying to teachers or remove you from your work, but I feel it will be more beneficial. My friends were shocked at how little I knew about the process because there is no one helping the AP students like the IB students. We are on our own unless we reach out, which can actually be harder than it sounds. -Madison Meserole (‘18)
February 6, 2018
Winter Snow Ball: A Good Addition?
PRO: By ELENNA MACH Sports Managing Editor
Usually there is a long gap between the homecoming dance and prom, but this year many are looking forward to Feb. 17 for RHS’ first annual winter Snow Ball, which will unite the school in a fun-filled night of dancing and music. In years past, the school held two dances; the first is homecoming in the fall for the whole student body, put together by the Student Government Association (SGA), then prom in the spring for seniors and their guests. This year, students in the SGA approached SGA advisor Katie Gross with the idea of organizing a new winter formal for everyone. Because of the high student demand and persistence of the SGA officers, the school will test out a winter formal, Gross said. Students enjoy the homecoming dance and for the past couple of years, it has increased its attendance rates by about 50 people, Gross said. At this time in years past, homecoming would be long gone and for those not attending prom which most of the student body doesn’t attend, they would have to wait until the next school year for another dance. Furthermore, the Snow Ball also gives students the opportunity to make new memories and experiences. Sophomore Mary Pankowski, who was unable to attend homecoming, said she is excited to go to the Snow Ball with her friends to have a good time and take pictures. Unlike homecoming, the Snow Ball is meant be classier than the fall dance, but not as dressy as prom, with more formal and wintery decorations. The SGA is also planning to provide donated desserts such as brownies at the dance so that students will not have to go through the hassle of bringing money.
Not only does the Snow Ball generate excitement among students, it will also benefit our members of the RHS family. All of the profits made from the Snow Ball this year will be donated to the Patty Pollatos Fund, which will directly help Lily Weaver, daughter of physical education teacher Frank Weaver and their family. There have been many events at RHS to raise money for the Weavers and the Snow Ball is another great opportunity for students to show their support in Weaver’s fight against Ewing Sarcoma. Finally, rather than having to pay for a ticket in cash during school, students also have the opportunity to pay for a cheaper price online eight days in advance. This new system saves money since the SGA will not have to print as many tickets as Homecoming does and it will be more affordable for students. With all of these benefits, Snow Ball is sure to become a new RHS tradition and one that students will not want to miss out on.
CON: By OLIVIA DE’ATH Staff Writer
This year, RHS will be hosting its first Snow Ball Feb. 17 and while many students are excited about a new event taking place at RHS, they should see the event for what is actually is: just another homecoming or prom. With the dance fast approaching, it is time for students to decide whether or not the Snowball is a waste of money or a great investment. The school already hosts two dances each year. If RHS is trying to find different ways to bring the students together, they should put together a different event that has never been done before.
Photo Courtesy of Patrice Bilodeau
The Snow Ball is a dressier event than homecoming, student government association (SGA) advisor Katie Gross said. So for students who do not like dressing up, this is clearly not a dance for them. But even for students who do enjoy dressing up, this will be yet another expensive one-nighter. Students are better off saving that money and spending it on something nice that will last longer than just one night. Some have raised concerns about creating so many different events for seniors, including that it simply may not be worth it to attend another dance. “I think it’s badly timed due to the fact that prom is fairly soon and people are already saving money for that, plus on top of that we have beach week,” senior Ronald Alfaro said. Considering school expenses, this dance is going to cost a lot of money. Between paying for building services, security, tickets and a DJ, it will cost about $2000, Gross said. Additionally, there is the probability that the school will invest more time and money than it gains depending on the amount of pre-sale tickets sold, so the event may actually hurt the school more than help it. “The biggest thing is if we don’t have enough tickets sold by a certain day then we would have to cancel the dance,” Gross said. Now, it is true that the money from the dance will be going to Lily Weaver’s family, which is an exceptionally noble and worthy cause. If the SGA is serious about fundraising a lot of money for Lily’s Hope then they should propose a new, exciting event for students, that is not already held twice each school year. Perhaps a movie night that allows students to relax with friends in a less formal and expensive setting. Students will soon decide whether or not to attend the winter Snow Ball. Regardless of that choice, students should have have fun and in the future hopefully students can look forward to fresh and different events occuring at RHS.
US Opioid Crisis Proves To Be Detrimental in MoCo Drug Overdosing in the Country Has Been Increasing; Montgomery County Must Do More to Slow Down the Opioid Crisis By JONATHAN BRAKE & EMILY NAGY Staff Writer & Features Managing Editor The current opioid crisis in the U.S. continues to contribute to more and more deaths. More than 90 Americans die every day because of an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Drug Abuse department. Maryland, and Montgomery County specifically, have faced an extreme drug epidemic in recent years. Opioid-related deaths nearly quadrupled between 2010 and 2016 in Maryland. These dreadful deaths come from an increase of fatal heroin, fentanyl and Xanax use. Montgomery County, although dealing with less overdoses than other Maryland counties, has seen a dramatic increase in those overdose-related deaths in recent years. “In 2017, the year is not finished yet, and we’re up over 60 deaths due to opioid overdoses. We have had probably three times that many saves,” Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said to WTOP Aug. 15, 2017. In order to slow down the opioid crisis, there should be more education provided by law enforcement agencies and a more detailed unit in the high school health curriculum. With more exposure to the serious side effects of opioids, students in Montgomery County will be more discouraged from taking, and possibly overdosing on opioids. A popular opioid currently controlling the market is Xanax. Recent pop culture has introduced and glorified the use of Xanax to the youth. Rappers flaunt the opioid use in their music and on social media, making it seem like the deadly
drug is acceptable for recreational use. Rapper Lil Peep died from an overdose of Xanax laced with fentanyl Nov. 15, 2017. Students need to be aware that some possible symptoms of taking Xanax include: drowsiness, dizziness, feeling tired or irritable, blurred vision, headache, memory problems, sleep problems (insomnia), lack of balance or coordination and slurred speech. Xanax, or Alprazolam, is a sedative. It is prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Alprazolam belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, which produce a calming effect by altering the central nervous system. Students should be educated on the seriousness of these drugs,
“In 2017, the year is not finished yet, and we’re up over 60 deaths due to opioid overdoses. We have had probably three times that many saves.” - Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger Illustration by Sarah Natchipolsky
whether they are prescribed them or not. In an attempt to decrease the opioid problem, Montgomery County will be filing lawsuits against prescription opioid manufacturers and distributors over deceptive marketing practices. Multiple other counties, cities and states are filing lawsuits as well. The opioid problem worsens when teens move from using recreational gateway drugs such as marijuana, alcohol and nicotine and begin experimenting with opioids to fulfill the
need for an intensified buzz. These trends are often most evident when teens begin to use drugs to fit in with the crowd or imitate what older siblings and possible role models do. Montgomery County is the wealthiest county in Maryland and has 19th highest income per capita in the U.S. Instead of continuing the trend of teens using this money to feed their drug habits, it is time Montgomery County harnesses this wealth into clear programs of education to prevent the opioid crisis from getting worse.
February 6, 2018
Hogan, BOE Dispute Lacks Communication
Officials Should Sit Down to Discuss Calendar Problems Facing School When they Arise By ELENNA MACH
Sports Managing Editor After Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order in 2016 requiring all Maryland public schools to comply with start and end date requirements, Gov. Hogan and MCPS’ Board of Education (BOE) have done a poor job of communicating to resolve issues, specifically regarding the 2018-19 calendar. Gov. Hogan’s mandate requires Maryland public schools to start after Labor Day and end by June 15 in order to generate more revenue from the tourist industry, give families more time together during summer break, save school energy costs and ensure the safety of students in less fortunate counties from unairconditioned classrooms. MCPS’ BOE President Michael Durso sent a letter in March 2017 to the governor’s office stipulating that there were several unintended consequences from the executive order, including problems for how to address emergency weather-related closings and professional development and planning time. Durso further asked Gov. Hogan for his reexamination and guidance in how to proceed with developing the calendar for the 2018-19 academic year. In response to Durso’s initial letter, Hogan wrote back March 29, 2017 attacking MCPS and teacher unions. Hogan said the “true motivation for [MCPS’] concerns appears to be protecting teachers union contracts, which require an unreasonable number of ‘professional days’ during the school year.” He also suggested that MCPS shift their “focus from arguing over which 180 days class is in session to ensuring that students are safe in [their] schools,” possibly alluding to the March 16, 2017 alleged rape case that occurred at RHS which is insensitive and iniquitous for anyone, especially a government official to insinuate. After Hogan’s letter, the BOE voted 5-2 to send another letter to the governor’s office for a more flexible closing date, specifi-
by Sarah D’Souza
cally June 22, 2018. Hogan rejected MCPS’ appeal, according to a Dec. 14, 2017 Washington Post article. Board member Jeanette Dixon said the BOE should just “deal with it” and work under the circumstances given. “These letters have not been effective,” Dixon said. “In fact, what we have done is piss [Gov. Hogan] off.” The BOE and the Governor’s office have been corresponding through letters since the executive order was signed; however, it has not been effective in resolving issues for MCPS.
“[The] true motivation for [MCPS’] concerns appears to be protecting teachers union contracts, which require an unreasonable number of ‘professional days’ during the school year.” - Gov. Larry Hogan Illustration by Sarah Natchipolsky
Gov. Hogan and the BOE members are supposed to be leaders in the MCPS community and the state of Maryland. The immaturity and lack of effective communication set a poor example for students at all grade levels who look up to them. Rather than sending letters and arguing with one another, MCPS should organize an in-person meeting with the governor to sort out these important issues which affect thousands of students and families. “Can I politely suggest that we are role models to our students and viewers and that maybe our colorful language on occasion be tempered,” Durso said in response to Dixon’s comment. The governor’s Aug. 31, 2016 executive order has set a precedent: a Maryland governor has never instructed public schools when their start and end days will be. This brings up the question of whether or not a governor should have this significant power in the first place and seems to be the source of the BOE’s
“Can I politely suggest that we are role models to our students and viewers and that maybe our colorful language on occasion be tempered.” - BOE President Michael Durso
frustration with the governor, further creating more animosity between the two parties. “The piece that I struggle with as an administrator, is who is determining what’s in the best interest for your local school district,” assistant principal John Haas said. “I think that’s really the balance here; should the governor have the right to tell school, ‘this is what you can and can’t do,’ versus [MCPS’], ‘Hey, we know our students, we know our parents, we know our staff, this is what we plan to do,’ and that’s really the struggle.” For possible future issues regarding the calendar, the governor and county should sit down to discuss the matter and resolve each side’s concerns. This way, students, staff and families will not have to be caught in the middle of the dispute. If Gov. Hogan and the BOE can only listen to letters, then maybe students should write to them demanding an in-person meeting.
Cour tesy of Wikime
om dia C
“True motivation for [MCPS’] concerns appears to be protecting teachers union contracts, which require an unreasonable number of ‘professional days’ during the school year.” - Gov. Larry Hogan
Slow WiFi Curbs Chromebooks Student and Staff Dependency on Chromebooks Increases Year After Year; Problems with the WiFi Connection Hinder Work in Classes By OLIVIA DE’ATH Staff Writer In MCPS, it is common to walk inside a classroom and see an array of Google Chromebooks being used by students. After being introduced in 2011, Chromebooks make up half of the devices in U.S. classrooms and over 50 million students use Google’s Apps for Education today, according to May 13, 2017 article in the New York Times. Chromebooks have become a necessity for students in many classes and in order to use them, they need wifi, which allows students to work in their classes. However, for months now the wifi has been slowing down Chromebooks and ultimately the progress of students’ schoolwork. MCPS provided 40,000 Chromebooks to schools countywide in August 2014 and the amount of Chromebooks has been increasing each year, according to a 2014
article in the Washington Post. Teachers use Google to present lessons, collect and review tasks and grade student’s work. With so many Chromebooks in the county, that leaves many students staring at buffering screens rather than completing necessary work. The county has added many access points and upgraded RHS’ lines attempting to improve the wifi; however, when it goes down it affects the whole county, IT Systems Specialist Jennifer Lomax said. “I would say the concern is a lot of times it is out of our hands and cannot be fixed locally which means longer down times for students,” Lomax said “The biggest concern is the impact on all of the testing that is done now on the Chromebooks.” MCPS champions student achievement and success, but if they also want students to use technology daily in the classroom, they have to make sure they can deliver the means to use that technology. It cannot be expected of students and teachers to complete their work when the Chromebooks are not working correctly. It is time for MCPS to take responsibility for these issues and repair the wifi as soon as possible.
Illustration by Sarah D’Souza, graphic courtesty of Creative Commons
February 6, 2018
Net Neutrality was Repealed Dec. 14, Changing the Way Companies Can Choose Which Websites are Fast and Which are Inaccessible, Limiting Internet Access By KATE MOREY Opinions Managing Editor The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality Dec. 14 in a 3-2 vote, which will change the way the internet runs by allowing companies to decide which websites are the fastest and which are inaccessible to customers who don’t pay extra. Net neutrality rules require internet service providers to treat all websites equally, banning them from blocking certain content or creating internet “fast lanes”--sites that run faster and better for those who pay--or charging for higher quality websites and specific content. The goal of net neutrality is to make sure consumers have open and equal access to all internet content, according to a Nov. 21 New York Times article. Eliminating net neutrality allows corporations to tamper with data flows on their networks without public oversight or accountability. Democrats, consumer groups and tech companies have been rallying for months in an attempt to stop the repeal plan, arguing that the rules are essential to prevent companies and carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast from abusing their gatekeeping powers. Students and teenagers especially should be concerned about what’s really happening with these regulations because internet access is the center of a lot of teens’ lives, and changing the net neutrality rules could mean limiting the access people have to websites, information and communication. This means that streaming services could be able to charge more for content that, because of net neutrality, was once free and equal for everyone. Social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, among others, are subject to being slowed down or blocked by broadband carriers. “Allowing the internet to grow and flourish has made it a vital communications hub that serves today as a global exchange for goods, services, ideas, and information,” Maryland State Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a letter to the Rampage. “I believe
Illustration by Amy Tran, graphic courtesy of Creative Commons
that regulators must ensure that no collusion or anti-competitive practices take place and that internet service providers do not attempt to unduly influence content. Net neutrality keeps a level playing field for all companies to compete and guarantees equal access to the internet for all Americans, not just those who pay more.” A survey by the University of Maryland reports that 83 percent of Americans, including 75 percent of Republicans, support keeping the Obama-era regulations. Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, who is credited with coining the phrase “net neutrality,” said in a Nov. 21 New York Times article that the repeal plan not only rolls back the Obama-era rules, but it also specifically permits broadband carriers to block media content. The biggest concern is that the internet will become “payto-play” technology with two tiers: one that has speedy service and one that doesn’t. The high-speed lane would be occupied by big internet and media companies, and affluent households. For
everyone else there would be the slow lane. “If these regulations are repealed, internet service providers will once again be free to sell faster internet speeds to the highest bidder, stifling competition and skewing the playing field away from innovators and toward entrenched corporate interests,” Van Hollen said. “I oppose this course of action and will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to apply pressure on the FCC to preserve the existing rules protecting net neutrality.” Individual households all over the country will see an increase in prices and a decrease in accessibility to all types of internet services Roger L. Kay, an independent technology analyst, predicted that larger bills — not content blocking — is the most likely result of the repeal. If the big internet and media companies have to pay their carriers more for high-speed services, those expenses will trickle down to households. Consumers “will end up paying higher prices for essentially the same service,” Kay said.
President Trump’s New Tax Cuts will Boost the Economy By WILLIAM WHEELER Financial Specialist
Graphic by Amy Tran; information from The New York Times
President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, championing American companies and middle class families, Dec. 22. Although House and Senate Republicans originally disputed the addition of a childhood tax credit, they were able to agree on a final version of the bill and pass it, without a single Democratic vote in either house. Prior to the passing of the bill, the U.S. had the third highest corporate tax rate of the 35 most industrialized nations in the world at 35 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Development. Now at an inviting 21 percent, the U.S. corporate tax rate is lower than that of its biggest economic rival China (25 percent). This will encourage reincorporation by global companies into the U.S. and provide an incentive to American companies to stay put. Most recently Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook has verbally committed to moving a second headquarters to the United States from overseas as a result of the tax cut. This in its own will generate billions in tax revenue. Although cutting corporate taxes is a stereotypical way of benefiting the presumably wealthy, it is actually quite the opposite. Lowering corporate taxes will enable American companies to repatriate nearly $2.5 trillion overseas. These funds contribute to increasing wages, creating jobs and lowering consumer prices, which benefits all Americans. “When American companies prosper it has a trickle down effect on individuals that can be seen through consumer pricing and job creation,” senior Harold Paintsil said. One of the biggest critiques by Democrats on the bill was that it will estimatedly lead to an increase of approximately $1.5 trillion in federal debt over the next decade. However, this
statistic is misleading, as the bill is expected to increase domestic product by around 3 percent over the next decade, which would lead to roughly $3 trillion in additional capital investment in the economy. Besides the indirect benefits average Americans will receive from the corporate tax reduction, they are experiencing direct benefits such as the personal income tax decrease. Six of the seven preexisting tax brackets will see increased paychecks by at least one percent in February of this year. Additionally, the 94 percent of Americans that claim the standard deduction will have a deduction twice as large, benefiting the vast majority of Americans. “Unlike lots of high school students, I work about four days a week, so I have first hand experience with the disappointment that comes with a post-tax paycheck. I am very excited to start seeing more money come in,” senior Paul Sandford said. However, the income tax aspect of the bill is also balanced by eliminating the itemized deductions, eligible expenses that individual taxpayers can claim on federal income tax returns and reduce their taxable income, that are now exploited in the wealthier tax brackets. This will ensure that the slight percentage decrease these brackets receive are compensated for with the deductions. The income tax relief as whole will be eliminated in 2026 to provide Americans the temporary tax relief they desire while maintaining a responsible approach to the deficit. “It was really a proud day to be an American [for me]. Although I am not an avid Trump supporter or even a Republican for that matter by any means, this bill will provide an economic boost to my family for years to come,” senior Finn Harty said. Ultimately, all Americans regardless of their political affiliation will come to appreciate this bill in time as they begin to notice larger pay checks, cheaper goods and more economic opportunity.
February 6, 2018
February 6, 2018
The Disconnect: Students & Mental Health Resources
“When I was in middle school I had a lot of issues I didn’t know how to handle ... and it sort of turned into me inflicting it on myself, so I was hospitalized for a little while, and then I found out that I had depression and anxiety,” sophomore Vitoria Tulloch said. Mood disorders are a broad range of psychological disorders which impact a person’s mood over long periods of time, with two of the most common being major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. About 12.8 percent of American adolescents have had at least one major depressive episode according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In a survey of 10,000 teens conducted by the NIMH, 2.5 percent were found to have qualified as bipolar at a point in their life. Major depressive disorder is characterized by a continual sad or emotionless mood, loss of pleasure, fatigue, guilt and sleep and appetite loss or gain. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycles of mania and depression, with mania characterized as feeling wired, irritable, experiencing racing thoughts, excessive energy, increased activity and engaging in risky behavior. Tulloch has been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. She has been struggling with these disorders since middle school and was hospitalized several times after the medication she was prescribed failed to help her mood. Her counselors at Earle B. Wood MS did not meet her needs and left her feeling vulnerable, she said. “Some counselors will be like ‘oh it’s your fault that you’re feeling this way, you just don’t want to be happy, or you just want to be angry’ and it’s like ‘why wouldn’t I want to be normal,’ and some counselors make you feel as though it’s your fault and you can 100 percent control it,” Tulloch said. Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose because patients tend to seek help when they are depressed, so they are often misdiag-
nosed with having major depression, according to the NIMH website. Tulloch was able to find aid outside of school such as group and one-on-one therapy. However, her experiences left her distrustful of in-school mental health aid. In a poll conducted among a sample group of nearly 500 RHS students, about 49 percent of students said they do not feel comfortable seeking help from an adult in school when they are feeling stressed or upset. “Sometimes a student who really needs to seek out a therapist outside of school tells me he or she won’t because there’s soccer, or a job, or SAT class or something and that is really disappointing to me because sometimes postponing mental health help just prolongs or exacerbates the problem,” counselor Wendy Kiang-Spray said. “Sometimes things like soccer or homework and whatnot needs to take a hit when therapy (or simply reducing stress) is a priority.” Since mood disorders are often linked to an imbalance of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, antidepressants aid in balancing out these neurotransmitters. Tulloch is now on medication which she said has been helpful, but still struggles, especially at school. “Sometimes teachers don’t really understand,” Tulloch said. “It’s not their job to understand, but there’s been a couple times where I’m having an episode in class and I need to get out.” Only about 50 percent of those suffering from depression receive treatment, and about 20 percent of those diagnosed with depression receive treatment which meets guidelines for sufficient care, according to the NIMH website. With the proper help, Tulloch said she believes people who are struggling can recover and live fulfilling lives. “If you find the right places you can find a lot of resources,” she said, “so there are resources out there for people and there’s different things for your needs. You just have to know where to look for them--the best thing you
“Sometimes a student who really needs to seek out a therapist outside of school tells me he or she won’t because there’s soccer, or a job, or SAT class or something and that is really disappointing to me because sometimes postponing mental health help just prolongs or exacerbates the problem.” -counselor Wendy Kiang-Spray
Illustration by Sarah D’Souza, graphic courtesty of Pixaby & Max Pixel
The Rampage conducted an anonymous survey of nearly 500 RHS students of all grade levels about mental health resources and support within school, following recent mental health related tragedies in the community. The articles are written by Rebecca Pujo and Sarah Natchipolsky.
54% feel there are not enough mental health resources in school
59% would not
feel comfortable reaching out to an adult in school for a mental illness/ disorder
64% feel emotionally
and mentally supported in school
In light of recent events occurring in the Montgomery County area, an important conversation has been sparked about mental health resources to teens and their accessibility, particularly in schools. In a poll conducted among a sample group of nearly 500 students at RHS, 49 percent of students said they do not feel comfortable reaching out to an adult in school when they are feeling stressed or upset. Despite the fact that each student is assigned to a guidance counselor, over half of students polled would not feel comfortable reaching out to an adult to discuss a mental illness, even if the adult is trained to discuss mental health. Guidance counselor James Rowan said that on average, he has two to three students visit him per week to discuss mental health or stress in school, compared with the more common visit regarding scheduling or college. “The counseling department is here to provide that emotional support as well,” Rowan said. “We are there to support [students], and having that mental health and that mental well-being is part of what we do to support the students for everything that they need, it’s not just about academics.” In addition, there is also a psychologist assigned to every MCPS
school, and availability of the psychologist varies depending on the needs of each school. In order to get in contact with a school psychologist, students are either referred by a staff member or a parent, or can refer themselves by reaching out to a counselor or a member of administration. “Our goal is always to have a psychologist available to assist students, especially if they’re having mental health concerns, because we are mental health providers in schools,” MCPS Director of Psychological Services Christina Conolly said. “We want to be there to assist and provide support to as many students as possible.” The job of a school psychologist mainly includes counseling, crisis support, behavioral consultations and evaluations for students who require special education services, Conolly said. A full listing of the psychologist assigned to each school is available on www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org. For directly available in-school support, counselors are trained in crisis intervention to help students with any immediate issues they are facing in the moment. While they cannot make recommendations to parents regarding outof-school mental health resources, they can provide a list of outside counselors who have been used in the past. Counselors can also refer students to free mental health counseling offered by the City of Rockville. In terms of combatting societal stigmas surrounding mental health, there are different approaches being taken to encourage conversation. “I think a big part of what we need to do is have open conversations about mental health,” student member of the board (SMOB) Matt Post said. “I think destigmatizing this issue is going to be a huge step forward in preventing future tragedies.” In order to move toward achieving this goal, there will be a student forum led by Post on mental health Feb. 6. The county also plans to re-examine and shift current psychological services and to begin a suicide prevention program in all secondary schools, MCPS Director of Communications Derek Turner said.
“We can’t just talk about mental health in the context of tragedy, this needs to be an ongoing conversation 365 days a year.”
-Student Member of the BOE Matt Post
“I suffered emotionally, because sort of all these different parts of my life weren’t going so well, it was to the point where I was throwing tantrums because I didn’t want to go in to school,” sophomore Ellie Schwartz said. Schwartz, along with 25 percent of other American children ages 13-18, as well as 40 percent of adults according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, suffers from anxiety, as well as depression. After struggling with anxiety and depression in middle school, Schwartz now receives accommodations at school, such as extended time on tests and two study hall periods each day. “My anxiety a lot of the time gets in the way of me starting and doing work, as well as I have a kind of processing disorder, so it takes me longer to do things,” Schwartz said. “I think that there has been support for the school aspect of it, and I have been able to succeed with the accommodations that I have.” Accommodations like these are not the norm, however. Only 20 percent of children suffering from anxiety actually receive treatment, according to the 2015 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report. This could be due to the similarities between experiencing stress, which is a natural and necessary human response, and having an anxiety disorder, which can be debilitating at its most extreme form. “Stress is a reaction to a real or imagined danger,” health teacher Katie Gross said. “I think that [anxiety] is a buildup of stress, and not knowing how to cope or deal with it.”
Anxiety There are many different disorders that fall under the classification of anxiety, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), social anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorder, agoraphobia and other specific phobias. The most common form is GAD, which affects 6.8 million adults in the U.S., according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Since anxiety is the most common disorder, those who suffer from it are often susceptible to other disorders like depression and substance abuse. There are many different stressors that can influence how teens are affected by anxiety and how they deal with it, including family circumstances, social conflicts, social media influence and stressors in school. However, anxiety disorders can also be attributed to genetic, psychological and developmental factors, according to a January 2016 Psychology Today article. “I do believe that school is very beneficial, and the current course of education is structured in a way that is very wisely structured, but at the same time, I think a lot of students and I can agree that the workload is excessive,” senior Paolo Machon said.
Machon experiences symptoms of anxiety, and has dealt with anxiety episodes in school in the past due to stressors from school and his personal life. “I know a lot of people see me as kind of a jokester, a happy go lucky guy, you look at me in the musicals or in the classroom and I’m very much like that,” Machon said, “but I do feel as if that sort of anxiety and fear of being outcast still really impacts my life today. I do feel as if most of my personality right now is a sort of facade.” Machon is among approximately 36 percent of students at RHS who report having a mental disorder, according to a poll conducted by The Rampage. He also said that he has talked with his counselor in the past, and has been to therapy but stopped going, saying that his main support system right now is his friends. “I always feel like having close friends to support you and listen to you is critical to at the very least maintaining your composure,” Machon said. “I feel like with constant reaffirmation, it has helped me a lot through some dark times.” While both Schwartz and Machon have different experiences regarding mental health, exhibiting the
“I know a lot of people see me as kind of a jokester, a happy go lucky guy...I do feel as if most of my personality right now is a sort of facade.” -senior Paolo Machon
Graphic by Sarah D’Souza and Grace Goodman
wide variety of disorders under the general umbrella of anxiety, both emphasize reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness as a next step in easing the burden on students. “I think when people think of mental illness they think ‘this person’s crazy’ and I think that the more people talk about it and the more people are willing to express what they went through, the less uncomfortable it will be,” Schwartz said. However, while it is recognized that this stigma around mental health, and particularly anxiety, exists and there are pushes to decrease it, it is still perpetuated by the 80 percent of teens suffering from anxiety who never receive treatment. In today’s society, with increasing pressures to excel in school and in the age of social media, there is a surge in anxiety among teens. The amount of children ages 15-16 reporting frequent feelings of anxiety or depression had doubled since 1982, a 2012 Nuffield Foundation article found. While it is not a simple process to reduce the pressures on teenagers that may be causing or increasing their anxiety, there are ways to get treatment, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. There are also ways for students to get involved in reducing the stigma surrounding anxiety, including having regular discussions about it. “We need to stop dividing each other on this sort of instance, because no one’s immune to anxiety or stress,” Machon said.
Eating Disorders “It stresses you out and it causes anxiety. Food is one of your worst enemies,” freshman Olivia Turner said. Turner was one of the 10 percent of adolescents with an eating disorder who received treatment according to an article on mirror-mirror.org. At the height of her eating disorder, she weighed 95 pounds at a height of 5 feet 5 inches. Her mother grew concerned and began taking her to a therapist and physician twice a week who diagnosed her with anorexia and depression. “A lot of times eating disorders aren’t just about how you look,” counselor Wendy Kiang-Spray said. “A lot of times they do go hand-inhand with other issues like depression or anxiety.” With at least 30 million people suffering from a variety of eating disorders, at least one person dies every 62 minutes due to an eating disorder according to The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, with 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population having suffered from it at one point in their life, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC). Turner struggled profoundly when her doctors and mother began forcing her to eat and she began gaining weight again. “Many people just think ‘oh just eat and then you’re cured,’ but you can’t just eat. Every time you look at food you feel like that’s fat you’re going to gain or weight you’re going to gain, so it’s hard to eat,” Turner said. The three most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating dis-
order. Anorexia is characterized by extreme weight loss caused by starving oneself and an intense fear of weight gain. Bulimia is characterized by patterns of binging and purging. While those with bulimia are typically considered to be in the normal weight range for their height, they still suffer from body dysmorphia and experience an intense fear of weight gain like those with anorexia. Binge eating disorder, the most common of the three, is characterized by episodes of binging which the sufferer feels they have no control over. “I was scared and angry. I didn’t want help,” Turner said. “[But] I think getting help was probably the best thing because before I was not happy and now I’m able to enjoy school and my friends.” Turner is not alone, as an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in America will suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Less than 50 percent of those who survive an eating disorder make a full recovery. Thirty percent experience improvement, but 20 percent continue to suffer from chronic illnesses as a result of their eating disorder. As an eighth grader at Earle B. Wood MS, Turner received in-school accommodations and was able to leave her classes for short periods of time when she was experiencing issues with anxiety. She has not needed accommodations at RHS, but says she does not believe many other RHS students who do need accommodations are aware of what options are available to them. “I don’t think many students know how to get help because it’s not really advertised in school and it’s not like teachers really offer help when they think someone might need it,” Turner said. “There is such a stigma around mental health issues, so many students are afraid to ask for help.” If a person suspects their friend or loved one may be suffering from an eating disorder, counselor Andrew Lambert said that the best thing to do is get help. “The friend who is concerned will need to let the parents of the friend with the eating disorder know about their concern,” Lambert said.
“Many people just think ‘oh just eat and then you’re cured,’ but you can’t just eat. Every time you look at food you feel like that’s fat you’re going to gain or weight you’re going to gain, so it’s hard to eat.”
-freshman Olivia Turner
Illustration by Sarah D’Souza, graphic courtesy of Creative Commons
Graphic by Rebecca Pujo
February 6, 2018
Slang, Lingo Change Across Generations By JONATHAN BRAKE Staff Writer “I stamp.” “On movahs.” “Aye moe.” Students hear them every day in the halls of RHS during normal conversation. D.M.V. slang, although normal to the D.C. metro area, is like a foreign language to those who are not accustomed to the lingo. Many RHS students use slang to feel more local. Some common slang includes: “I stamp,” “on movahs,” “sickboots,” “brick” and an RHS exclusive: “bald-head.” Each word has a different meaning and can be used in completely different contexts, but many teachers, parents and even students don’t know what many of these words mean or how to use them. “It took a while to understand what they meant, but it was easy to learn the slang because we have a lot of slang for everything in Nigeria,” said freshman Jimmy Sorunke, who moved to Montgomery County in 2017. Seniors Anthony McClean and Norvel Clark have introduced several slang words that are popular among RHS students in the past, but they are
most popular for their recent introduction of “bald-head.” “Slang catches on because it’s the new hot thing, it’s like a fire song. Everyone wants to hear it,” McClean said. “Norvel and I were the creators of ‘baldhead’ at Rockville.” “Bald-head,” a word that does not have one set meaning and can be positive or negative, can mean an actual bald head or that a person is acting like a savage. “On movahs,” “I bar that,” and “I stamp” are ways to swear on something or someone. “On movahs” is to swear on the life of the mother of whoever says the phrase. “Sick-boots” is a lesser used phrase that means to be upset about a certain event. Then there’s “brick,” which means a long period of time, a long distance or a large amount. Slang words are made up from generation to generation to have a secret language and create a barrier between adults and kids. “Generations come up with new slang to have a more exclusive way to talk to their peers and teens use slang because it makes them seem cooler. I think using slang makes me cool,” junior Hailey Suthard said. Slang words are a part of culture that is ever-changing, and
different words are created for different areas around places as small as cities to around the world to create a sense of identity. In the 1950s many slang phrases became popular for describing the world around them. For instance, ‘big brother’ was used to describe the government overstepping in people’s lives following the release of George Orwell’s novel 1984. “Blow off” was used for beating someone in a hot-rod race, “cut the gas” was used to say “be quiet” and “bug” was used to say “to bother.” The 1960s was also an active decade for slang words. The most well known were “pig out” used to say eating a lot, “cat” as another word for guy or man, “lay rubber” meaning to leave tire marks on the street and “solid” to show someone understands. No matter the decade, every new generation creates words to better capture their social experience. “A few years ago YOLO [you only live once] was big, and when text messaging first came out, we used acronyms like BRB [be right back],” math teacher Ashley Merwin said, “and those were all invented because of our time.”
Graphic by Mark Schaefer
Photo courtesy of Nick Vafa The Rainbow Roll is a California roll with tuna,salmon,white fish, and avocado. On their menu, Moko Sushi offers 25 different specialty rolls, including one named the Rockville Ram Roll.
18 & Under: Moko Sushi By IRIS VALENTIN Staff Writer Move over Sarku Japan and Rolls and Rice because there is a new sushi restaurant in the Rockville area, and it’s not going anywhere because residents and students alike are enjoying it. In late June of 2017, Moko Sushi replaced the once popular frozen yogurt joint Menchie’s in the Rock Creek Center off Norbeck Rd. RHS students have been visiting Moko Sushi, which offers a variety of sushi rolls, signature rolls and other authentic Japanese foods. “My dad happened to take us to the restaurant the other night and we just loved the sushi over there,” junior Caleb Hill said. “My brother and I chose one of the sushi specials.” Moko Sushi offers an array of dishes, with a wide selection of sushi rolls and other foods, and is mouth watering for any customer. Foods such as Shrimp Tempura, Hibachi Steak and even Don Buri are featured in the menu with the prices under $20. Students can also visit their clean and simple website to print out coupons, making this a nice choice for high schoolers.
The restaurant’s setup provides a spacious and comforting atmosphere. It’s not too cramped since the chairs and tables are arranged in aisles allowing customers to enjoy the serene area with no loud disruptions. One standout entree is the Sushi Simmer for $13.95. A piece of cooked octopus was piled upon sticky rice and wrapped with a thin slice of seaweed. Unagi sauce (eel sauce) is served on top of the sushi to add a tasty flavor for customers to enjoy. To add to the student appeal, the restaurant features a special roll, the Rockville Rams roll. RHS students can enjoy this special that costs $14.95. The roll contains jalapeno, cucumbers, pepper tuna, avocado, spicy mayo, eel sauce, masago and scallions with a side of shrimp tempura. One of the most affordable hand roll entrees is the California roll for only $4.95. The only downside with Moko Sushi is the consistency of customer service. Sometimes they serve the food quickly and other times it seems too long, even considering the number of people in the restaurant. “The service was pretty decent,” sophomore Madison Dieffenbach said. “The tuna was simply amazing. I also had some of the sushi rolls over there and [they were] good.”
Photo by Grace Goodman Larry Bellamy went to Winston Churchill HS and was heavily recruited to play football in college.
By MATT DIFONZO Staff Writer In between classes, students are racing across hallways, dodging each other in a maze of faces, surrounded by laughter and quick conversations. Among these rushing students is the calm reassurance of Larry Bellamy, an RHS building service worker for the last 20 years. Bellamy has helped maintain a safe and clean environment for learning, but his contagious smile and positive spirit have become a major part of students’ daily routines at RHS. Some know him as a building service member who walks around the courtyard and cafeteria providing a trash can for students to throw their lunch away. Others know him as the friendly staff member who cheers at sporting events and converses with students. Although many interact with Bellamy on a daily basis, many students and staff are unaware of his background and the impact he has on students. “Larry is the man,” senior Anthony Bailey said. “He comes to most of my [basketball] games to watch us and gives us motivation to succeed.” Bellamy is a familiar face on the sidelines at games, cheering enthusiastically with the rest
of the crowd, always with a smile on his face. He brings this same energy to the hallways every day as he always takes the time to stop and check in with students. “I do not know Bellamy personally, but he always says hi and asks how I’m doing. It’s nice to see the staff members really caring about students,¨ junior Anna Stewart said. Bellamy graduated from Winston Churchill HS in Montgomery County in 1975, where he was a football star. He was heavily recruited and decided to take his talents to the University of Notre Dame (UND) on a football scholarship. However, at the time, his grades weren’t ideal. UND decided to withhold the scholarship from him. He then took his talents locally to Montgomery College and played football there for a year in the hopes of improving his grades to re-apply to UND. His hard work paid off and he was once again accepted and cleared to play for Notre Dame football. A few weeks before leaving for South Bend, Ind., he was in a serious car accident. Bellamy was paralyzed from his neck down and his football career was over. Since then, Bellamy has regained his mobility and shows little evidence of that tragic accident many years ago. While he could have never imagined that the tragedy he experienced would lead him to where he is today, he tries to prepare kids for the uncertainty that most certainly lies ahead for them, he said. By navigating and overcoming difficult challenges and obstacles he feels he is in a unique position to provide perspective and to inspire students at RHS. “I try to remind kids that when they graduate, the first thing they should do is thank their parents because your parents have done a lot to get you to that point in your life,” Bellamy said. ”After you graduate from high school, it is on you to be responsible for yourself. You always have to have a plan A. But you also have to have a plan B just in case plan A falters.” While every year the hallways fill up with the same sounds made by different students, all of them will pass by a familiar smile and get some sage advice from a man who is more than just a building worker. He is a true Ram.
By REBECCA PUJO Editor-in-Chief
Senior Nycole Hidalgo - Favorite season is fall - Loves food - Pisces - Runs cross country and plays lacrosse - Loves dogs - Ambivert - 17 years old - Likes horror movies - Outdoorsy person
February 6, 2018
For its inaugural date lab, The Rampage created a 20-question survey and had RHS students volunteer to be matched up for a date. After reviewing the results, there were numerous couples with high compatibility percentages based on their answers in the questionnaire. In this issue, seniors Tomas Kehus and Nycole Hidalgo were selected to participate because they were already friends and they had a high compatibility rating of 55 percent. Due to the high response rate of the Date Lab questionnaire, The Rampage plans to do another edition. Before being matched up with each other, Kehus and Hidalgo decided to participate in the Date Lab as a fun and inter-
Photos Courtesy of Nycole Hidalgo
esting activity. “I was thrilled, [I was] just full of excitement,” Hidalgo said. Since Kehus and Hidalgo both love food, they agreed that preparing a home-cooked meal together after school would be a fun, yet convenient and simply planned date. They made macaroni
and cheese, steak, roasted carrots and crème brûlée. “Tomas likes food and I like food. I think that’s why we’re so compatible and so we decided to cook together,” Hidalgo said. The date lasted a few hours and the conversation sizzled as they prepared the steak and really started to heat up once they started the
crème brûlée. Kehus and Hidalgo were already good friends, so they were excited to see that they were matched up together and had little difficulty getting the conversation going. They both said they would participate again, and Hidalgo even described it as the best afternoon of her life. “I think it went pretty well; it exceeded expectations,” Kehus said. “I think it was good because we got to talk a lot.” If you would like to take part in a future date lab, please contact Rebecca Pujo of The Rampage or visit www.RockvilleRampage.com to fill out an online questionnaire.
Senior Tomas Kehus - Favorite season is fall - Loves to cook and bake - Capricorn - Runs cross country - Loves hiking - Ambivert - 18 years old - Likes comedy movies - Wants to pursue engineering in the future
Mohamed Wins Tuition Award By WILLIAM WHEELER Financial Specialist
Photo by Brady Doyle
Media Center Delivers Special Snowflake Surprise By IRIS VALENTIN Staff Writer RHS’ media center, a generally quiet and studious place for students to work on their homework or check out different books of their choice, has recently been transformed for the winter season. When entering the media center, students can see paper snowflakes placed around the main entrance with drawings and messages written by various students. “I think it was six years ago we started this tradition,” media specialist Sherry Weiss said. “It’s a way to get people involved to participate in because it’s their media center. I wanted everyone to be involved with this.” The snowflakes and snowmen are filled with different messages of the goals and dreams that students wish to achieve. In previous years, Weiss has provided cut-out peace doves for the students to write their messages in around the holiday season. Since the transformation occured around the holidays, the doves were meant to represent peace on earth as a common holiday wish. This year, Weiss wanted to use snowflakes and snowmen in order to better relate to the entire winter season, not just the holidays.
The media center has partnered with the Child Development classes so the preschoolers could decorate their own snowflakes to be displayed alongside the other snowflakes. “Mrs.Weiss has always volunteered us for different activities such as the snowflakes and the trick-or-treating around school,” child development resource teacher Julie James said. “In return she provides us with children books for the kids.” RHS staff members such as Sarah Day, Michael Sandstrom and Krista McKim had students create snowflakes as part of a daily warmup or class activity, Weiss said. Junior Kelly Rivera made snowflakes during his art class. “I think it’s really nice what they’re doing over at the media center,” Rivera said. “It helps create a certain bond to the students in different grade levels and how it brings positivity in their lives.” Rivera wrote down his wish to be successful in his third year of high school before his senior year. Weiss said that she hopes the tradition continues at RHS, even after she retires. But she knows for a fact that as long as she is at RHS, the snowflakes will return each winter. “I think it’s a nice tradition we do here at Rockville,” Weiss said. “It makes me feel good and it’s nice to see what the students are doing.”
Senior Jabril Mohamed was one of 7,732 high school seniors to receive the prestigious Posse Scholarship in December 2017, an award that recognizes students who demonstrate “extraordinary academic and leadership potential” across the U.S. The scholarship includes complete tuition fees for four years at one of the partnering institutes of the foundation. Mohamed has chosen to apply his scholarship to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. where he will attend in the fall. Mohamed will be the second student at RHS to receive the Posse Scholarship within the last two years, the other being Bucknell freshman Gabrielle Kessel (‘17). In discovering the Posse Scholarship opportunity, Mohamed credits Kessel, who shared her scholarship experience with him and encouraged him to pursue one as well. He also credits the college and career readiness department for guiding him through the process of applying and interviewing for the scholarship. “I learned about the scholarship through Gabby Kessel who earned it last year to Bucknell as well,¨ Mohamed said. ¨However I didn’t know much about it until I was nominated by Ms. Harris, the Career Center Counselor. She told me almost everything I needed to know and helped me along the way with skills for the interviews.” In order to receive the scholarship, Mohamed went through a rigorous three-step election process. The process starts with a situational test that makes nominees demonstrate public speaking and communication skills, according to the Posse Foundation website. The second part includes a one-on-one interview and finalists are then selected in a concluding workshop. “The interview process [was the hardest] because the first one is almost 100 kids in a room doing group activities and you have to find a way to stand out. The second interview is a lot more formal and you have to impress the person interviewing you by describing who you are and answering a lot of questions,” Mohamed said. Mohamed’s capacity to shine during the interview process was not a coincidence. He is an involved member of the Rockville community, being the school-wide SGA treasurer, creating and leading the Muslim Student Association and achieving consistent success in the IB Diploma program. On top of this, Mohamed finds time to balance a job on the weekends at Panera Bread and after school sports. Expectedly, Mohamed’s parents are extremely proud of him for his years of dedication and hardwork that have enabled him to receive this scholarship. However, it is even more special for them because they are first generation Somali immigrants and they intentionally came to this country so Mohamed would be provid-
Photos Courtsey of Iqra Mohamed Above: Mohamed at the Posse D.C. Award Ceremony Jan. 4. Below: Mohamed with fellow scholarship recipients.
ed with opportunities just like this. “This scholarship means a great deal to our family because he will be the first child to attend a four year university on both sides of the family,” Mohamed’s mother Hawa Mohamed said. “We came to this country in search of opportunity and a better life for our children. We knew the education system in this country would help our kids reach their full potential, and we are proud that Jabril was able to achieve such a success.” Deciding to attend Bucknell University was a very difficult decision for Mohamed. One of the biggest influences in his decision process was RHS IB coordinator and Bucknell alumna Laurie Ainsworth. With Ainsworth’s advice, Mohamed became convinced that Bucknell was the appropriate learning environment for him to further his academic career. “Jabril is well suited to study at Bucknell. He has demonstrated academic excellence, is active in a variety of activities and is a well rounded person. He is also interested in politics and other contemporary issues,” Ainsworth said. Mohamed said he is looking forward to his academic journey at Bucknell University and that he plans to pursue his passion of business management and innovation. Jabril Mohamed is a Staff Writer for the Rampage.
February 6, 2018
Looking Back on 2017... By ZOE MOSER Sports Managing Editor
nantly black cast, to do so. Various other notable pop culture events include the longanticipated release of Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album, “DAMN,” which racked up many awards including the 2018 Grammy for Best Rap Album. The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran and 2017 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. Many RHS stuBruno Mars also released Billboard-topping albums. dents had different takes on how they thought 2017 was overall, In August, America and everyone else around the world some more optimistic and some more cynical. started internet scavenging for solar glasses to witness the Many important events took place both locally, nation“Great American Solar Eclipse,” in ally and internationally, including which the moon covered the sun for a changes to tests, a new president, few minutes and plunged the day into historic marches and new legislanight. tion. Despite all of these changes, “Even though Maryland wasn’t in RHS students made many fond the path of totality, it was still cool bememories between new experiing able to see a partial eclipse with the ences and social events. glasses that took my dad a really long The year started off with the time to find,” junior Kimberly Waminauguration of President Donald bogo said. “It was fun because my five Trump, whose presidency has year-old brother was so excited to see caused major controversy. The the moon cover the sun.” next day, the first annual WomDespite the civil rights movement en’s March took place, involving having occurred decades ago, racial tenmillions upon millions of people sions still persisted into 2017, culminatmarching in major cities all over ing in disputed arguments over NFL the globe. One year later, in 2018, right to kneel for the national -senior Dashika Wijegooneratne players’ the second annual women’s march anthem. The topic generated national attook place again, though garnertention and controversy, drawing a few ing less media attention, with just choice words from President Trump. as much purpose and energy. And perhaps the most telling and “There were chants and signs supporting pro-choice, black talked-about event from 2017 was the renewal of the hashtag lives matter, getting Trump out of office, encouraging vote, Me #MeToo, and subsequent takedown of powerful men, most Too, and tons of other causes,” said senior Dashika Wijegoonerprominently in the film and entertainment industry, as well as atne, who attended the 2018 march in D.C. “All of this opened in politics. These men had used their power to abuse women for our eyes to how much these causes impact daily lives and gave so long and were finally being held accountable for their actions. us a sense of pride in supporting these causes. We chanted with The movement brought to light the power and gender imbalancthem and got to know some of the people there with us.” es that have persisted in American society for so long. Countless In February, Beyoncé broke the internet with her instagram women came forward, some breaking decades worth of silence, reveal that she was expecting twins, sending social media and to share their harrowing stories. everyone in a frenzy of excitement. With 2017 over, many people look to 2018 curious of whethThen there was the awards show winner gaffe. The movie er it will continue the tumultuous nature of the previous year or “Moonlight” won at the Oscars for Best Picture, becoming the bring renewed hope for the country and its people. first movie by a black director and writers, as well as predomi-
“‘There were chants and signs supporting prochoice, black lives matter, getting Trump out of office, encouraging vote, Me Too, and tons of other causes’ ”
Illustration by Zoe Moser, graphics courtesy of Creative Commons
... And Looking Forward to 2018 By TEDDY ANDREW Staff Writer While many people would like to sweep 2017 under the rug, 2018 has the potential to be a much-needed bounceback. Last year left an undesirable hostility between many nations, but this year the Winter Olympics will provide a time for international unity through friendly competition. Once every four years audiences worldwide turn their eyes to winter sports athletes in their element on a global stage. This year they will gather in Pyeongchang, South Korea with a lot of the news dominated by the inclusion of North Korean athletes at the games. The Winter Olympics will not be the only worldwide sports event taking place this year. The FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia begins this summer. While the U.S. did not qualify for the tournament this year, many football fans (international, not American football) around the country will still be tuning in and rooting for any team they can find an excuse for liking. In May, the royal family will receive another member through the marriage of Prince
Harry and American Meghan Markle. The wedding will not take place at Buckingham Palace, but rather in a small chapel at Windsor Castle. Prince William and Catherine Middleton were the last royal couple married, taking place in 2011. “I don’t know why I care so much, but for some reason I always get really into these royal weddings and it’s all I can think about during the week that it happens,” senior Lucas Garcia said. Marvel will continue their monopoly on the global box office with “Black Panther,” “Ant-Man” and the “Wasp” and “Avengers: Infinity War” both set to release this year. “Infinity War” comes as a highly anticipated film, as Marvel has built much of their cinematic universe upon this franchise. A decade of films have been released in preparation for this climax. The movie will come as the third installment under the “Avengers” moniker. The “Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” are two of the top ten highest-grossing films of all time, coming in fifth and seventh respectively. 2018 is stacked with major international sporting, pop culture and media events, giving this year the potential to make up for the faults of 2017.
Illustration by Zoe Moser, graphics courtesy of Creative Commons
February 6, 2018
Get to Know Your SGA Presidents By AIDAN BRAMI Staff Writer
of its importance to him personally. “I took this role to help listen to the constituents of Rockville High School because there’s nothing I love more than the students at Rockville,” Pankowski said. This year, Pankowski has promised the student body the best winter dance ever. Pankowski played a big role in securing that said Senior Student Government Association dance that will take place and is scheduled for (SGA) Co-President Michael Pankowski can Feb. 17th. be described as hard working, confident and Pankowski recommends joining the composed. Pankowski utilizes these traits SGA to any students who are interin the RHS SGA and in other extracurricested in making a difference in the ular activities, but a lot of his drive comes school community. from his desire to make his family proud. “I have learned the best ways of In his free time, Pankowski endealing with a lot of differing personalijoys hiking. His favorite local spot to ties. I’ve learned teamwork, cooperation hike is Great Falls, but Pankowski has and general love for everyone I interact also hiked more renowned spots like the with,” Pankowski said. Grand Canyon. Hiking allows Pankowski’s ability to Pankowski to re-energize afbuild relationships with ter the school week. the student body, cou“While my workload isn’t pled with his rigorous too stressful, it is time-consumIB schedule, have coning which means I don’t get to tributed to his accepspend a lot of time outdoors. tance to Harvard UniHiking gives me a chance to versity next fall. do that, which I find very reSGA advisor juvenating,” he said. Katherine Gross, who As far as extracurricuhas now worked with lars, Pankowski plays varPankowski for most sity baseball and is a memof his high school caber of the RHS chapter of reer, said he has such the National Honor Sociimpressive accomety. Pankowski also views plishments because he school as one of his most is extremely driven. important factors in his “Pankowski is an life. Even with other deideas man,” she said. manding activities, much “He contributes a lot to of Pankowski attention is Photo by Rebecca Pujo the program and is truly geared toward SGA because a Rockville guy.”
Senior Michael Pankowski
Junior Kyle Pico
positions both in and out of school, he exhibits a strong will to make such a positive difference,” Echoes editor senior Jackie DeMelo said. Echoes looks for editors to be communicaJunior Co-President Kyle Pico has been tive, creative and hardworking, and Pico exerts his class president since eighth grade, when all three qualities, DeMelo said. These qualities he joined student government by winning help Pico communicate and work with other the middle school election with no prior SGA members, earning him respect from felSGA experience. low members. Pico was inspired to run for high school “Kyle does a really good job communicatoffice by former SGA president and foring with us and it makes our jobs at Echoes mer cross country teammate Adam a lot easier,” Echoes member Brianna Sarsony (‘16). O’Neil said. “He presented himself to me as a One of Pico’s hopes is that the charismatic leader who was dependSGA’s winter formal dance will be used able, dedicated and open minded,” Pico to boost school morale. Between winsaid. “He was selfless and instilled on ter and spring breaks, there are fewer me that rather than focusing on sucschool wide events, and Pico saw this cess for myself, I should make a contrias an opportunity to increase school bution to society by helping others on spirit. In deliberating on various their own paths for success.” activities that would boost Pico exhibits his leadstudent involvement, the ership skills in other exSGA members decided on tracurriculars as well, he another dance. because was on the cross country of the money it will team until deciding to bring in. focus on his schooling. While Pico conPico is active in other tinues to boost stuextracurricular activdent involvement ities and is currently with his peers, he Pico the art editor for also has an eye on the Echoes Literary his future, recognizMagazine at Rockville. ing the benefits of all “Kyle is an excellent of the skills he has acleader, in whatever enviquired in his time as a ronment he’s placed. The student body leader. foundation of leadership “I have learned how to is a commitment to making become a leader,” Pico said. a positive difference, and as “My main responsibility as SGA SGA President, the art editor Photo by Noam Elfassi president is to take a leadership of Echoes and other leadership role in my community.”
Collab Album Craze Artists Have Been Combining Talents to Create the Most Popular Work on the Music Market for Decades By JABRIL MOHAMED Staff Writer
Collaborative albums have unified cultures and have been a growing trend recently within the hip-hop genre. The idea of two or more artists coming together and making an album elevates the standard of the music being delivered. The creativity that the two artists build together can often produce what are known as some of the greatest albums ever. The success of Drake and Future’s 2015 album “What a Time to be Alive” brought the collab album concept back on the scene as many other artists partook in the trend. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and has sold over one million copies to date. If it weren’t for these two artists experimenting and taking risks combining their two distinct music styles, there may not be hype songs like “Jumpman” and “Big Rings.” “I went to Atlanta for six days a couple weeks ago with the hopes of doing some songs with Future, and when you get around Future, it’s like a vortex, that guy can outwork anybody right now,” Drake said to Rolling Stone in a Sept. 20, 2015 article. Within 2017, there were over 20 collab albums and mixtapes, according to Billboard. The most popular collab albums in sales from 2017 were: Future & Young Thug -- Super Slimey, Big Sean & Metro Boomin -- “Double or Nothing,, Gucci Mane & Metro Boomin -- Droptopwop, Offset & 21 Savage & Metro Boomin -- Without Warning, and the recently highly anticipated “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho” by Travis Scott and Quavo. Many RHS students have similarly come together in recent years to collaborate on music projects, which have ultimately succeeded. Junior Franco Ferruzo began his music career at a young age, but it was during his sophomore year when he began to take his passion more seriously, practicing the guitar and drums daily with his twin brother Renzo Ferruzo and older brother Sebastian Ferruzo (‘15). “Sometimes music can get repetitive,” Ferruzo said. “Having other people you can work
with allows for a wave of creativity and influences which can make you become a better artist.” The influence that collab albums have had on the hip-hop scene has been prominent, and has not declined since its arrival. During the 1980s and ‘90s hip-hop gained popularity, which came with an era of duos. Collab hip-hop albums originated with the New York native hip-hop duo Eric B and Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full.’ This includes albums from rap duos DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Gangstarr, Outkast, UGK, and MF DOOM and MadLib. Senior Thomas Barr said he believes the concept of collab albums have their positives and negatives, but it is the relationship between the artists that determine the albums success.
“Having other people you can work with allows for a wave of creativity and influences which can make you become a better artist.” - junior Franco Ferruzo “To make a successful collab album, the styles of the artists have to clash in a way that stand out from their original sound,” Barr said. “Personally my favorite collab albums is ‘Watch the Throne’ (2011) by Jay Z and Kanye West. The two were in their prime and a collab album really established their rankings as some of the all time great rap artists.” With collab albums resurfacing in mainstream media, the concept has found itself embedded within rap culture. Almost all rappers on the charts have are featured in albums that are not their own. Collab albums are the hottest things for artists to add some buzz to their names. They continue to benefit those within the rap community and others who look forward to them, while also strengthening the relationship with their collaborator which ultimately gives them more mainstream exposure.
Photos courtesy of Kirsten Stillwell
Artist Spotlight: Kirsten Stillwell By KATE MOREY Opinion Managing Editor
Some artists struggle to make a mark at an early age, while others create works of art more naturally and are immediately recognized by their peers and teachers. Senior Kirsten Stillwell is the latter having received art awards at a young age. She began drawing as a child, and has earned awards for her work as early as eighth grade when she received the Montgomery County Young Artists Award and was the only student at Earle B. Wood MS (Wood) whose work was chosen to tour Montgomery County for a year. Stillwell’s inspiration comes from her childhood, emotions and imagination, she said. She uses many different mediums to create her pieces, ranging from more traditional drawings, paints and photos to creating collages from magazines. “I love doing collages, which are taking pictures from magazines or pictures of your own, or using different kinds of mediums to create a picture,¨ Stillwell said. ¨I like how you can take things from everywhere and kind of put it together on a page.” Stillwell enjoys drawing best because she gets to bring images in her head to life. Often, her favorite pieces are created without
much planning. “If I don’t like a mark I can erase it and try again and make it perfect, when in life you can’t always erase your mistakes,” she said. “It’s nice having a sense of control. I just really like it because it just allows me to express some things I can’t say.” Art teacher Connie Zammett said she admires Stillwell for the brave artistic choices she makes and the commitment she exhibits in the classroom. “I think she has this really strong work ethic,” Zammett said. “She can work independently and can take her own initiative.” Stillwell is currently enrolled in AP Studio Art and spends roughly six hours a week on her various forms of art, which provide her a medium for self-expression. “Art is kind of a way that I can release a lot of emotions and put them into a positive matter, because I’m venting,” she said, “but I’m also getting it out, and people can look at it and sometimes they can feel the same way.” In addition to drawing and painting, Stillwell is also a photographer and a writer. She participated in National Novel Writing Month, writing over 50,000 words--approximately 1,666 words per day--between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30 and titled her novel “Beneath The Surface.” She has also published “Secret Letters,” which she wrote in eighth grade and can be found in the Wood library or online.
In the spirit of celebrating 50 years of RHS, The Rampage interviewed alumni about their experiences in RHS’ Theater
department and their careers beyond high school. This theater edition highlights Alumni who were involved in the-
LEIGH DENCKER (‘87) It was only natural for Leigh Dencker (‘87) to shine under the spotlights when she grew up, as she was constantly visiting the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a child to watch her mother perform in the chorus, exposing her to the world of theatre. After visiting many times, Dencker grew fond of the opera and began auditioning to be in shows. At 10 years old, she landed the role of
a lion in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Despite having a small ensemble role, Dencker couldn’t help but entertain the audience from the background as another performer, The Queen of the Night, was performing in the front. “I was supposed to just sit there, like a lion, and instead, I jumped on another lion’s tail, and the whole audience started laughing,” Dencker said. “Then the director told me to never do it again because I can’t
“Then [Mason] went to [Earle B. Wood] and I said ‘I’m going to be a drama mom!’”
- Leigh Dencker (‘87)
ater at RHS in the past. Each Volume 50 issue will celebrate student life over the last 50 years. upstage the soprano.” Dencker’s son Mason (‘16) also participated in theater from an early age, though he did not need much of a push from his mother in order to become interested in joining drama “He just gravitated toward it naturally,” Dencker said. “Then he went to [Earle B. Wood] and I said ‘I’m going to be a drama mom!’” Under the leadership of former RHS drama director Melinda Lloyd, Dencker was afforded freedom in her performing. She recalled Lloyd letting her bring out her own rabbit, Wolfgang, as a highlight in the 1986 production of “Brigadoon.” “We put him in a misty town scene and brought him onstage in a wheelbarrow,” Dencker laughed. “It was just fun to be a part of it and I think [Lloyd] was very creative.”
DIRECTOR, ANDREW BAUGHMAN (1999-2010) Former RHS drama director and producing artist director and co-founder for Landless Theater Company Andrew Baughman directed RHS shows from 1999 to 2010. Baughman graduated from Seneca Valley HS in 1995 and began working at RHS when he was 22 years old. Even though he was not a teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Baughman dedicated time on afternoons and weekends to run the theater department. Throughout his time as director, Baughman experienced the building as it had its renovations. Students attended Northwood HS as a feeder school from 20022004, and Baughman directed first in the RHS auditorium before it was renovated, then Northwood’s auditorium, and then back into the newly renovated school. “The auditorium wasn’t ready with
the rest of the building, so we had to rent Round House Theatre to present our fall play ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ that year,” Baughman said. “It was a challenge, but was also a great opportunity for RHS
Stephen Sondheim, who composed music and lyrics for musicals such as “Sweeney Todd” and “Into the Woods.” He also met his wife, Melissa, associate artistic director for Landless Theater Company, during a production of “Dirty Blonde,” as she was the assistant stage manager who assisted Baughman in changing into his “Mae West” drag costume during the show. Baughman co-founded Landless Theater Company in 2003 with a group of theater artists who are “dedicated to producing exciting and accessible art to cultivate new audiences for live theatre,” according to the company website. “[We] wanted to do more exciting and diverse work,” Baughman said. “We’ve made a name for the company producing ‘MetalTheater,’ heavy metal adaptations of musicals like ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’.”
“It was a challenge, but was also a great opportunity for RHS students to experience performing in a professional venue.” - Director Andrew Baughman
students to experience performing in a professional venue.” During his career, Baughman had the ability to work with American composer
Theater Then & Now: November 1992
February 6, 2018
A Decade of RHS Theatre Shows 2008-2009 Fall: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Spring: The Sound of Music 2009-2010 Fall: The Pink Panther Strikes Again Spring: High School Musical 2010-2011 Fall: Get Smart Spring: Bye Bye Birdie 2011-2012 Fall: The Miracle Worker Spring: Rodgers and Hammerstien’s Cinderella 2012-2013 Fall: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night Spring: Hairspray 2013-2014 Fall: The Crucible Spring: Beauty and the Beast 2014-2015 Fall: Rent: School Edition Spring: All Shook Up 2015-2016 Fall: The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza Spring: Back to the 80s: The Totally Awesome Musical! 2016-2017 Fall: The Murderous Mansion of Mr. Uno Spring: Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka 2017-2018 Fall: 12 Angry Jurors Spring: Spamalot
The RHS Theater Department’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” was directed by Jim Dowd and starred Sarah Bragin as Anne.
Photos from the Rampage Archive The RHS Theater Department’s production of Roald Dahl’s ‘Willy Wonka’ was directed by Dana Soto and starred Dylan Hawkins.
February 6, 2018
February 6, 2018
“We have had a lot of losses ... we are good at learning from our mistakes but we need to focus on the court and talk on both defense and offense.” - sophomore Aimee Sunier
“Our team has had a relatively successful year. When we go into a game and establish good puck possession from the beginning we control the game.” - sophomore Jason Proctor
“The season is going good and there has been a lot of improvements all around. We have a handful of dedicated teammates.” - junior Colin Gabele
“I think our biggest strengths are our Swimming defense and our tenacity, as we force a “The practices are early but the lot of turnovers which lets us get easy points. Our major weakness is our half- people are great and the sets are court offense, but we’ve been working usually fun.” - sophomore Kate Holland hard in practice to improve that.” - senior Michael Mantzouranis
“This season we have a lot of talented new players that picked up the game quick and helped us win some games. I’m really proud of them all.” - senior Mary-Jane Essien
“Our season has gone well so far, we’re a really young team with a lot of growing up to do still ... [Our team] works extremely hard, really supports one another ... but we don’t have a full lineup this year ... I’m hoping next year all these guys come back and we can continue to build a winning program.” - head coach Will Morris
Photos by Brady Doyle, Grace Goodman, Alex Fellman, Alex Reynolds. Top right courtesy of MoCo Running.
February 6, 2018
Poms Team Wins Counties Spirit Award By KELLY DIFONZO Contributing Writer
Photo by Gabe Reyes Coach Jason Lomax will be the new head coach for the 2018 football season. Lomax was the offensive coordinator for RHS three years ago. At the meeting, he spoke to next year’s team members and listed his expectations for the upcoming season.
Former Coach Returns to RHS By GABE REYES Online Editor-in-Chief
Former RHS offensive coordinator Jason Lomax will be returning to fill the vacant role of varsity football head coach for the 2018 fall season after three seasons as head coach at Springbrook HS. Lomax spoke to the football team in the auditorium Friday Dec. 15 to introduce himself. While at Springbrook, Lomax had a combined record of 10-19-1. When Lomax was at RHS, his squad put up county and state records, including the county single season passing record of 3,262 yards held by Chuck Reese (‘15) who also holds two single season passing records in the state at sixth and 11th. Between his junior and senior years, Reese placed 11th in the state in career passing yards with 6,241 and is tied for first for most touchdowns in a game. Looking ahead to the season Lomax recognized that rebuilding the
program will take a lot of work. “It’s a little premature like I said in the meeting today, Chuck, Louison (Biama ‘15), Anthony (Albert ‘15), Tony (Emeche ‘15), Joey (Cornwell ‘15) Spencer (Brigman ‘15), those guys came every day for four straight years working and working. It didn’t happen overnight, just like this is not going to happen overnight,” Lomax said. Junior receiver Andrew Pace has now played varsity for two years. Last season he was a captain and led the team in receiving yards with 335. He attended the Dec. 15 meeting with coach Lomax. “I believe we have the potential and players to put up the numbers that we saw years ago. But I worry about the players’ dedication and attitudes towards the team and coaches and fellow players,” Pace said. When Lomax returned in December he started workouts with two goals in mind: to begin getting the team ready for the fall and to add more players to the team. This past season there were several games when the
varsity team, which requires 11 players on the field, barely dressed 20 players , the low number of players led to this. As Lomax focuses on increasing the number of players on the team, the goal is still to win every game and to have a successful season. “Playoffs, there is no other expectation ever, except for making the playoffs [...] there’s no expectation of ‘oh we’d like to win a couple, and we just want to be competitive,’ no that’s a loser’s mentality. We’re going to start right from the jump with a winner’s mentality and we want the playoffs right off the jump,” Lomax said. The team made the playoffs in 2016 but was defeated by Oxon Hill HS 62-6, and after a winless season in 2017 the team looks to rebound. Junior receiver Colin Gabele was on the team when they lost to Oxon Hill as well as during the winless season. “After a season where you’re at the bottom the only way you can go is up,” Gabele said. “No matter what we want to improve, that’s been the goal, since the end of this season.”
Ranked among the best poms squads in the county, RHS’ Division I poms squad has to perform at an extremely high caliber. Despite the squad placing last at Counties Feb. 3 hosted by Blair HS, they clinched the Spirit Award. Their first invitational was at Blake HS Jan. 6 where the Rams placed sixth out of seven teams. The Sherwood Warriors, Magruder Colonels and Poolesville Falcons placed as the top three teams. The second invitational was at Damascus HS Jan. 13 where the Rams placed last out of five teams. The Rams placed last of four teams behind the Poolesville Falcons at Watkins Mill’s first annual invitational Jan. 28. Senior poms captains Tia Puskar and Delma Mbulaiteye and junior captain Marie Remey have been crafting their one competition dance routine since October. RHS drummers introduce the Rams before they began their six-minute dance routine featuring a variety of songs and genres of dance. The competitions are judged by a panel of experienced dancers and coaches. The squad prepares by practicing for three hours after school every day and early Saturday mornings. Despite only being on the team for two years, Mbulaiteye represented the Rams at the Blake HS and Damascus HS invitationals. After disappointing results, Mbulaiteye strived to help the team adapt, improving their routine to secure a higher placing at each competition.
“We’ve placed a major emphasis on cleaning our routine eight count by eight count and really focusing on what the judges liked and didn’t like,” Mbulaiteye said. “We added in more formations and spotlighted our dancers’ unique skills.” Puskar is the team’s Division I competition veteran, having been on poms since her freshman year. She served as captain for two years and is accustomed to Division I’s intense and competitive nature. Puskar acknowledges the strengths of her teammates and continues to build on them. “We have a lot of people with a variety of dance backgrounds so we can highlight their different skills throughout the routine. The team is also very vocal which is useful when they share suggestions and good ideas to improve the routine,” Puskar said. The poms squad’s performance partially relies on the energy of its crowd. Every competition awards the most supportive section and team with the Spirit Award. Several students, parents and staff have remained loyal to their Rams and traveled to every poms competition. “Despite the poms not placing as well as they’d hope, the Inferno appreciates all the hard work and dedication they put in,” senior Inferno member Claire Lyhus said. “We are proud to say our ladies are among the best dancers in the county.” A surge of positivity radiated throughout the team and the crowd. Decked out in orange, the Inferno maintained high energy throughout the entire competition and erupted with excitement as Rockville was declared the most spirited.
Usually the strongest players on sports teams are the veterans, but freshman Alex Dahn was one of the leaders on this year’s allied bocce team, despite his young age. Even though this was his first year playing, head coach Caitlin Wise believed he played an integral role on the team this year. “Alex is a very careful player and he helps other kids when they need it,” Wise said. “Alex always brings a good attitude to our team and we love having him here.” This season, Dahn enjoyed playing the sport and moreover the experience of playing as a team. “I like to throw the ball and I like all my teammates. I like being with a group and I like learning the rules. My favorite part of playing is our team cheer,” Dahn said. Last year, the Bocce team finished with a record of 3-4, improving on their 2-5 record from the year before. Dahn’s teammates also had a lot of confidence in his ability to bring up the team during games and practices. “Alex is really funny and I think he’s really good at rolling the ball,” teammate Will Marshall said.
Senior Mary-Jane Essien participated on the bocce team for the second year, and loves winning games and teaching the new Learning For Independence (LFI) players. The bocce team was constructed of LFI players and a few mainstream student players that help teach the game along with coach Wise. “Alex always gets very excited before each game, and enjoys hanging out with his teammates before we start,” Essien said. The Rams hosted the Sherwood Warriors Jan. 18, and although t h e Rams l o s t t h e match, Dahn p e r formed w e l l , rolling the ball with P a poised demeanor and landing his ball closer to the smaller ball or pallino multiple times. “Alex was one of our new players this year, and he turned out to be a really good player” Essien said. “He brings lots of enthusiasm and friendliness, and loves to cheer on our team and cheers on the other team to.” The team’s current record is 1-4-1. Even though the bocce team lost to Blake HS in the first round of playoffs, Wise said the team still had fun playing bocce together throughout the season. cH
By AIDAN BRAMI Staff Writer
Senior Tiama Essama-Ayi proves her athleticism and physicality through a variety of sports and athletic events, including indoor and outdoor track and volleyball. Essama-Ayi has played volleyball all four years of high school, two of which were on varsity, basketball her first two years, outdoor track for three years and indoor track for the past two years. Some notable accolades have been earned in indoor track, where her main events are the 300-meter hurdles, the 55-meter sprint, the 100-meter sprint and the high jump. Essama-Ayi qualified for the 2017 state meet last year, competing in the high-jump, which she found exciting, she said. Essama-Ayi was also the only athlete from outdoor track to qualify for states. “ T h e funny story is that I got into [high jump] because I didn’t want to run one practice,” Essama-Ayi said. “And I was like ‘I’m gonna go jump instead,’ and then found out I was decent at it.” Senior Jillian Krawczel, Essama-Ayi’s indoor track and volleyball teammate, said that Essama-Ayi has had a big impact on the team by always helping everyone out and getting everyone excited.
“Above all else, Tiama really brings enthusiasm wherever she goes so it’s exciting to be her teammate,” Krawczel said. “She’s really good at getting everyone pumped up and ready to grind.” Essama-Ayi’s outgoing personality has been integral in her performance both on and off the track and the court, helping her advance to state meets as well as earn the respect from coaches and teammates alike. Indoor and outdoor track coach Amy Brewer has been Essama-Ayi’s indoor track coach for three years and her outdoor track coach for one year. Among her many qualities, Brewer recognizes Essama-Ayi’s strong work ethic, strength and height, which are advantageous in helping her get over the high-jump bar. Brewer further said that Essama-Ayi has inspired her in many ways. “It’s difficult to keep jumping over the bar on the high jump and have it fall everytime, and to see her persevere and get to the point where she can do it and make it past all the other competition,” Brewer said. P a cc Essama-Ayi be e yR is currently working ob Phot hard at practices, aiming to improve on the high-jump every day and to qualify for another state meet in high-jump this year. “You just have to believe in yourself and if you keep on working hard,” she said, “you’ll achieve your dreams and goals.” uj o
By ZOE MOSER Sports Managing Editor
High Roller Alex Dahn
High Flyer Essama-Ayi
February 6, 2018
RAM Ice Hockey Club Gains Popularity Among Fans CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
RAM hockey played Woodrow Wilson Tigers Jan. 12. Senior center Jonathan Kimmel skates with the puck.
school is where I’m involved so when they succeed I feel like I also succeed.” With the growing participation Only seven of the 25 RAM players among athletes as well as the increasare from RHS, which requires them to ing support of the student body, ice combine with other schools including hockey has all the components of a varMHS, St. Andrews and Jewish Day sity sport but still remains a club. AthSchool. Other teams that feature com- letic director Michael Hayes said that bined high schools include Blake/Pooladding hockey would make esville and Damascus/ Clarksfinding facilities, burg/ Gaithersburg/ coaches and Watkins a l l o Mill. cating RAM’s funds “Cheering for the [Washing t type en fer success dif a probis als pit Ca ] ton has reed lematic eer ch I en wh for n tha of pride sulted in citing I se on my classmates becau more buzz MCPS’ around “Proceknow them personally,” the sport dures at RHS. f o r S e n i o r Adding Kirsten a New Stillwell Interschohas been lastic Sport.” going to RAM “Personalhockey games since ly I don’t think there’s her freshman year and enough ice time to constitute 25 was one of the few cult-like followers at high schools,” Hayes said. “[Also] they the time. She said that this year in par- have to have coaches that are MCPS ticular, the attendance has grown tre- certified so you can’t just get the ranmendously. For students who make the dom coaches and teachers get priority trip to one of the four ice rinks (Rock- so they have to join the union so there’s ville, Laurel, Fredrick or Cabin John), a lot of stuff that goes into it.” hockey games are free to attend. The team will next lace up their “Cheering for the [Washington] skates and pull their helmets over Capitals is a different type of pride their heads Jan. 31 as their focus inthan for when I cheered on my class- tensifies on the D.C. Stars, the nummates because I know them personal- ber two team. The best season in years ly,” Stillwell said. “My school is some- hangs in the balance and the playoffs thing I’m more proud of because my are looming.
Senior defense Ben Arie steals the puck from a Tiger and the RAMs won the game with a final score of 8- 4.
- senior Kirsten Stillwell
Sophomore wing Jason Proctor fights for position with a Wilson Tiger defender to gain the puck for the RAMs.
Photos by Brady Doyle Sophomore center Matt Krivitskiy celebrates a goal made by the RAMs against the Woodrow Wilson Tigers.