Southern Lehigh High School 5800 Main Street Center Valley, PA 18034
Volume 65 Issue 1
Mr. McConnell joins SLHS administrative team by Spotlight Staff
The Spotlight staff interviewed Mr. McConnell as part of a informal press conference in October. Photo Credit: Mrs. Marlo Spritzer
Over the summer, Southern Lehigh School District saw many changes in staffing, including a number of administrative positions. Filling the vacancy of Ms. Jennifer Brinson, who resigned in July to pursue a role in another district, Mr. Benjamin McConnell joined the high school administration in October as the Spartans’ newest assistant principal. Mr. McConnell said his administrative philosophy focuses on restorative education practices and involvement in student assistance programs. While his role is to assist high school principal Mrs. Beth Guarriello, his ambitions transcend paperwork and discipline. His focus on mental health, especially in the duration of the pandemic, makes him an approachable resource for students, and he hopes to help get students “back into the groove” of in-person learning. “[A vice principal has] a lot of responsibilities, and sometimes it’s hard to get the student interaction you want,” Mr. McConnell said. “I’m hoping with this role I’ll be
as effective in the student body, as I am in my [other] work.” Mr. McConnell looks forward to taking an active role at Southern Lehigh and says that he is not looking to fix anything at the school, instead asking himself how he can contribute to current initiatives to improve the school. He is already impressed by students’ positive attitudes and unity. “My first week here, the [homeroom] bell sounded and all of the students in the hallway just simply stopped, put their hand over their heart, did the pledge, and kept on with their day.” Mr. McConnell said. Mr. McConnell earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Rider University, and a master’s degree from Wilkes University. Prior to coming to Southern Lehigh, he worked as an assistant principal at Raub Middle School in Allentown. “I was a little nervous [starting here], but not as much as I thought I’d be,” Mr. McConnell said. “I got to meet and communicate with Mrs. Guarriello, and Mr. Kinslow a lot [beforehand, which helped
this] be a positive experience.” Outside of college, Mr. McConnell spent his entire life in the Allentown School District which he attended as a student, and returned to become a social studies teacher, primarily in the subject of economics, before becoming an administrator. After a lifetime in the Allentown community, the decision to accept the assistant principal role at Southern Lehigh was one that required a lot of thought. “My biggest concern, and one of the hardest things for me in leaving Allentown was, ‘will I be able to do this somewhere else?’” Mr. McConnell said. “But I’m not worried about that anymore. I know this is a good fit for me.” At home, Mr. McConnell is the father of four children: two sons and two daughters, ranging from a high school freshman to a fourth grader. When he is not working, he enjoys playing guitar and reading biographies and thrillers.
Page 2 News
Southern Lehigh High School 5800 Main Street Center Valley, PA 18034 (610) 282-1421 x7122 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SLSDspotlight Instagram: @slsdspotlight Facebook: Southern Lehigh Spotlight
School counseling office shares updates Counselors hope that new infrastructure will help students’ mental health by Alex Kane and Mackanzie Morgan
Faculty Adviser Mrs. Marlo Spritzer Editor-in-Chief and News Editor Alex Kane Features and Opinion Editor and Assistant to EIC Evelyn Blower Our World and Entertainment Editor Kishore Annambhotla Sports, Web, and Social Media Editor Arden Glad Staff Reporters Alexis Behrens Gianna Cusumano Morgan Downing Isabelle Johnson Christiana Lycette Sophia Lycette Elizabeth Monroe Mack Morgan Alaina Patel Zain Shamasseen Elizabeth Vezenov Emma Vorhis Kelcie Wagner Abigail Wilson Pennsylvania School Press Association 2020 Silver Rating 2019 Silver Rating 2018 Gold Rating 2017 Gold Rating 2016 Gold Rating 2015 Gold Rating 2014 Gold Rating 2013 Silver Rating National School Press Association 2019 First Class Rating 2018 All-American Rating Four Marks of Distinction 2017 First Class Rating 2016 First Class Rating 2015 First Class Rating
Mrs. Davis, Mr. Strong, Mrs. Piascik, Mrs. Mullay, Mrs. Mowrey, Mrs. Westbrooks, Mrs. Stepanczuk, and Mrs. Trachtman all play important roles in ensuring students can access a range of school counseling services. Photo Credit: Alex Kane
Across the nation, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health became far more important to schools than it had ever been before. Consequently, an influx of new resources was needed to help better serve students. Southern Lehigh High School’s counseling department has made several updates to their infrastructure, such as new tools on the high school website. “There are a lot of good resources on the school page: academic support, mental health tips and other resources,” guidance counselor Mrs. Kristen Stepanczuk said. “The biggest challenge last year was communication with students, so the website is really refined with that.” Last year Mrs. Stepanczuk stepped into a newly created counselor position at the high school and currently serves students with last names
Rj-Z. “We were fortunate; we made a proposal to the school board to add a fourth counselor so that our students would get even better services from their school counselor, because the counselors would have fewer [students] on their caseload,” high school principal Mrs. Beth Guariello said. Mrs. Stepanczuk believes that mental health plays a pivotal role within a student’s education, especially after living through a pandemic, which disrupted the counseling department’s ability to serve students. “What was unfortunate was, last year we weren’t able to meet with students or parents in meetings because of the pandemic,” Mrs. Stepanczuk said. “This year though, we can meet all of our students in person, as well as giving the option
for parents to either come in person for their meeting or Zoom in from home.” Through various updates in both personnel and resources, the counseling department is working to better serve both students and their families. “We’ve needed to increase our amount of service the students can have than in the past,” school psychologist Mr. Cotie Strong said. “We’re now at similar levels of [student] support to local high schools such as Saucon [Valley] and Parkland.” As a result of the increased services, the counseling department feels that it will now be better equipped to serve students on an individual basis. “Having our school counselors have less cases means they can provide more targeted support.” Mr. Strong said. “Having in-house support is good, so that if a student can’t get help or the family lacks the means, it means they can get it at the school.” With fewer students for each of the four counselors, there is more time allotted for them to spend with each student. More time to provide individualized assistance and advice is something the guidance staff believes will benefit students greatly. “If the students’ mental health is supported and able to be more mentally healthy, then they can attend school more, be more productive, and academically successful,” Mr. Strong said. “They will also be more involved and [this will] help them overall as a person.”
Counseling secretaries guide students to services by Emma Vorhis
students learning remotely for most or all of the 2020-2021 academic year. Students might not realize that the guidance office is not only for academic support. If someone is having a rough day and simply needs to take a breather, there is a section in the back of the office that holds comfy chairs and a nice space for someone to relax. “If you break a nail and you’re upset about it, you can come see us!” Mrs. Davis said. Students may visit the guidance office if they need assistance with registering for SAT or AP exams, need a tour of SouthGuidance Secretaries Mrs. Amanda Mowrey and Mrs. Melody ern Lehigh’s frequently used websites, such as Naviance or Davis great each student with a smile. Photo credit: Emma Vorhis. Sapphire, or simply have trouble with grades. Mrs. Davis The first people you see when you walk into the and Mrs. Mowrey are often occupied with tasks such as counseling office are guidance secretaries Mrs. Melo- answering emails and helping students set up meetings with dy Davis and Mrs. Mandi Mowrey, ready to help with their counselors. school related questions. Transitioning to a new school is hard, and the guidance Mrs. Davis is a proud 1976 graduate of Southern staff understands that. If you’re a new student, the counselLehigh, who has been working as a high school secing office can be one a helpful place . retary ever since. Mrs. Mowrey graduated from Park- “The guidance office really helped me with understandland High School, went to Lehigh Carbon Community ing my schedule and welcomed me as a new student,” senior College for two years, and then attended Penn State Angeline Tirado said. “They were my friendly transition into Lehigh Valley where she earned her Bachelor’s degree Southern Lehigh.” in elementary education. Whether you’re a student who is feeling a bit lost, needs The two very much enjoy assisting students assistance on where to find something around the building, throughout the day and greatly missed doing so or is seeking academic help, the guidance counseling office is during the last 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemthe place to go. The secretaries and counselors always look ic, when few if any kids walked through the guidance forward to helping new and old faces alike. counseling office. Their biggest concern was that the The guidance staff as a whole is very thankful for the students didn’t realize they had a guidance meeting, students, and always appreciates when the students are both and Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Mowrey had trouble concooperative and respectful. Mrs. Mowrey and Mrs. Davis say tacting them to put them on track due to so many that a simple thank you can go a long way.
News Page 3
New morning ‘open campus’ well-received at high school by Emma Vorhis and Mackezie Morgan
“Last year it would have not been possible, but this year as long as everyones masked it’s certainly possible and we can keep it,” Mr. Kinslow said. “People have been responsible and caring toward it.” Many students have a positive outlook toward open campus, explaining that it is helpful for school work or just a good time to spend with their peers. All students, ranging from 9th-12th grade, seemed to collectively appreciate the time being given to them, with one minor complaint.
In the new morning open campus model, students are free to walk the halls, meet friends, see teachers, or sit in their classrooms once they check in for homeroom. Photo Credit: Emma Vorhis
Due to the pandemic and the lack of student interaction during the remote and hybrid models 2020-2021 school year, Southern Lehigh High School administration gathered with teachers over the summer to brainstorm ideas for improving the school climate. One idea was the creation of an open campus at the beginning of the school day. Open campus takes place between 7:20 and 7:45 each morning. Students may take this free time to walk around the school with their friends, catch up on academics, or grab a cup of coffee from the Coffee House, making sure they check in with their homeroom teachers by 7:35. The idea of open campus came up in a “Think Tank” over the summer when principal Mrs. Beth Guarriello and assistant principal Mr. Chad Kinslow met with groups of teachers interested in being part of the conversation. “The question was, ‘How do we make this an easier transition?’” health and physical education teacher Mrs. Megan Kane said. “This [hopefully] will help the possible social
and emotional part of school that the students could have lost last year.” Because of last year’s online learning environment, many students were thrown out of the loop on a social, physical, and emotional level. The main hope for the open campus is that it will help students readjust by giving them time in the morning to connect with each other and their teachers. Administrative staff saw this as a good opportunity for not only students’ health, but for their comfort as well. “We had to take the idea to the superintendent, and with their approval of the idea then we could move forward with other concerns,” Mr. Kinslow said. Once the open campus idea was approved, the staff began hashing out any of the possible problems that could stem from it. Safety was always a main concern, making sure teachers, administrators, or even parents would be able to reach a student efficiently and quickly. With all of the details fleshed out, it was set in motion.
“I like that we get to walk around and hang out with our friends,” freshman Paige Siuta said, “but I don’t like how we don’t get to hear the morning announcements.” Many other students agreed and hoped for a solution to the morning announcement problem. “They aren’t loud enough and no one can really hear them in the first place,” junior Naphtali Reynolds said. “You can’t hear them with everyone walking around and talking.” The administration took this concern to heart and came up with a solution that goes into effect with the start of the second quarter. “There will be a shift in the homeroom time and the start of the first block,” Mr. Kinslow said. “Along with that shift, the pledge and announcements will take place in 1st block so that students do not miss important information on the announcements.” Overall, the majority of the student body and the staff in the school seem to view open campus as a positive addition to the start of the school day. It gives students time to talk with friends, work on homework, and participate in other activities. Thus, open campus is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Mr. Castagna leaps into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on ‘Frogger’ The English teacher and avid physical fitness enthusiast spent his summer filming a new competition streaming on Peacock by Sophia Lycette and Isabelle Johnson
Mr. Castagna surprised his English and public speaking students with the news when the competition series dropped on Peacock earlier this fall. Photo credit: Sophia Lycette and Isabelle Johnson
Many students tend to not consider what teachers do outside the classroom. This is why Mr. Joseph Castagna, a Southern Lehigh English teacher, shocked the Southern Lehigh community with his appearance on a national television show, streamed on Peacock. Leaving the 2020-2021 school year a few days early, Mr. Castagna flew to Sydney Olympic Park in Australia where he participated in the TV show Frogger, a 80’s themed competition that revolves around rigorous obstacle courses. Mr. Castagna found out about the new production after being put onto list after applying for other competition shows, such as “American Ninja Warrior.” Knowing the theme of the show, he decided to apply with a silly, highly stylized video. Shortly after submitting his
audition, he got the news that he had secured a position on the cast. “I got a random email about a show that was built around obstacle courses,” said Mr. Castagna. “They were looking for weekend warriors, and it was all about the 80s. That checked every box for me.” It was a six-week experience, including a two-week quarantine prior to filming, adding to the struggle of being away from his family for so long. “One hotel room for fourteen days,” Mr. Castagna said. “Couldn’t open a window, couldn’t leave.” After the quarantine, the four-week competition process started. He and the other cast members were shuttled from set to set daily. Each day, a competitor would be placed with another person from the group; however, it was unknown who they competed against until they got there. By the end of his endeavor on the show, Mr. Castagna won second place in his episode, earning a spot in the top 15 overall. Although being on a television show may seem very different from being a member of the Spartan faculty, Mr. Castagna said that his collaborative “Spartan Life Podcast” with math teacher Mr. Ryan Haupt helped him prepare. “It made it easier to talk to people and form friendships,” he said. The extensive prep work for his podcasts also helped him figure out how to present his persona on the show. “I gathered many thoughts about how I wanted to present myself on TV,” Mr. Castagna
said, “I wasn’t fake -- it was totally me -- but everyone has a lot of aspects to their personality.” Mr. Castagna made it clear that it was also vital for him to place the Southern Lehigh community and its reputation in a good light. He takes pride in his performance on the show, as many students claimed. “Mr. Castagna showed us the video during class; it was very impressive,” senior James Ascolese said. “I can tell he is passionate not just as a teacher but also about his journey and performance on the show, and I appreciate that.” Many of Castagna’s students find it intriguing that they can learn from someone who can be both a rigorous teacher in the classroom and also take on such strenuous obstacle courses outside of school. Although many students were astounded by the appearance of a teacher on a television show, they widely agree that it fits Mr. Castagna’s personality, and doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. “I was a little surprised, to begin with, but Mr. Castagna seems like quite the adventurous guy,” senior Patrick Laughlin said, “I know he has done a bunch of Spartan races, so I thought it was different, but getting to know his personality later on changed my opinion.” He will most likely not take on such a time-consuming journey again because of the long separation from his family; nevertheless, Mr. Castagna fulfilled his goals by participating in the show, learning and growing from this thrilling experience. “Life is all about new experiences,” he said, “but, more importantly, sharing those experiences with people you care about.”
Page 4 Sports
SL varsity football bounces back after slow start by Arden Glad
Spartan football players support their teammates from the sidelines. Photo credit: Spotlight staff.
Southern Lehigh finally grabbed a game win over Saucon Valley making it their first win of the season, the team later on beat Blue Mountain making their record 2-6. With a win over Leighton the record improves to 3-6. The season started off rocky for the Spartans as they pushed through hard to beat teams in the league. Sophomore James Wisecarver, the quarterback for the Spartans, had a lot of pressure on him this year that he did not have last season. “We had a lot more numbers last season, most kids on the team aren’t as experienced with the tough competition” Wisecarver said, “We need to stop blaming others because at the end of the day we lost as a team.” The team did what they could to push forward from their losing streak. Interceptions were made, footballs were fumbled, but the effort was visible in full effect. Blaze Curry is a returning fourth-year player for the Spartans this year. Curry tack-
les defensive end, running back, and fullback this season in hopes to make it to the playoffs before his senior football season is over. “I am going to miss my teammates the most, we have been through so much together and battled through this season” Curry said, “I’m gonna miss the rush high school football gives; the band playing and the student section cheering is something I’ll never forget.” Moving forward the team hopes to bring more wins to the table. The Spartans are focusing a lot more on working together to prepare for what’s to come and keeping a clear mind as they step out onto that field. “Watching film really helps us get a head start on what plays we are going to run,” Curry said “We just need to keep our heads down and focus on the goal to earn that playoff seed.” Many changes were made to the team as the players entered this season. They received new coaching staff and now run a different
offensive playbook than they did in the previous years making it difficult to adjust to. “We are still getting used to the plays and the new playbook so it’s a little hard to work through,” James Wisecarver said, “we are all working together and the team has really stepped up to put in the efforts”. The Spartans recently switched up their whole defense as well changing it from a 4-3 front to a 4-4, meaning they had 4 defensive lineman with 3 linebackers and 4 coverage defensive backs, but flipped it to 4 defensive lineman with 4 linebackers and 3 defensive backs. Southern Lehigh football is still battling as they take on Salisbury High school on Friday the 29th. They are hungry and ready to get out there in hopes of taking home their fourth win of the season and having the potential to make the playoffs. and succeed.”
Solehi JV football team holds their ground by Morgan Downing and Kelcie Wagner
The team rushes into time out during the game. Photo credit: Solehian Yearbook
Southern Lehigh Junior Varsity football is the future. With three wins, two losses, and one tie as of October 29, they are having a more successful season than their older, more experienced counterparts on Varsity, who had four wins and six losses in their regular season. “It has been a great season and our JV
record reflects it,” freshman tight end and defensive lineman Bryan Tobin said. The offense has also been doing well this season, with a “great quarterback and some good recieving talents,” according to Tobin. Freshman JV quarterback Christopher Fritts hopes to use his skills to improve both his own team, and varsity. Fritts said that the athletes play well together and have “great chemistry,” adding that the team gives, “100% during every play” to win. Tobin said that the JV team has been working especially hard throughout the offseason and regular season. “The defense has been amazing,” Tobin said, “forcing turnovers, and even have three touchdowns this season off picks.” In preparation for games to come, the team is working to improve their skills so they can efficiently convert big plays on offense and defense. The team had struggled with several injuries in key players. “We just need to stay healthy and we will be fine,” Fritts said.
Varsity coach Phil Sams works closely with JV as well. “They’re very competitive,” Coach Sams said, “but is disappointing that they have had two games canceled.” JV players always support their teammates and can commonly be found cheering Varsity on through wins and losses. Each player is prepared in case they need to step in at any given moment. Fritts has been known to play as backup quarterback on varsity when needed. “You feel you need to do your best to represent your school and yourself,” Fritts said, “so playing on Friday nights, you’re better.” With more support from the student body, the players are more energized and excited to play during Varsity games. After a rough start for the JV team, they came out with three wins back to back. The Spartans are trying their hardest as they focus on a bright future. Tobin said, “I’m playing my heart out.”
Solehi field hockey makes run for states
by Alex Kane
The team huddles around for a pep talk from Coach Searfoss as they strategize their next move. Photo credit: Hannah Bucher
This year old and new faces mix on the Southern Lehigh Field Hockey pitch, which the team affectionately refers to as “The Pasture.” It is on this field that the current graduating class has remained undefeated for all four seasons of their career. Their success at home has motivated them to set their sights high. “[We want to] make it as far as we can in states,” senior captain Riley Macintosh said. After a COVID prompted a hiatus last year, high school biology teacher Mrs. Adrienne Searfoss has returned as the team’s head coach, hitting the ground with both feet running and several ambitious goals. “We want to reclaim the Colonial League title [from Northwestern Lehigh] and de-
fend our district title,” Coach Searfoss said. The team was able to accomplish this goal and thus far remains undefeated with an 18-0 record in the league overall, including the postseason. The team also has one final goal for this season. “We want to get Coach Searfoss to states,” Macintosh said. In past years the team has been very successful, and the class of 2022 has an accumulated record of 51-5-1 in the Colonial League. Over the course of that time together teammates have collected many memories from all the games, practices, and team building events. “[My favorite memories are] winning leagues sophomore year, all the pasta parties, and team sleepovers,” senior captain
Hannah Bucher said. With an undefeated regular season behind them, the field hockey team prepared for the postseason as they have done in the past, visiting nearby turf fields for practices to ready themselves for playoff games on turf. The Spartans ended the fall season with a league championship, a district championship, and a run at the state title. The team fell 0-1 against Twin Valley in overtime in the state semifinals. Their record for the season will stand at 19-1. While the team will lose six seniors, they will pass the torch remaining players to carry on the legacy for years to come.
The Southern Lehigh’s girls volleyball team boasts an undefeated season heading into the District XI Championships. With a traditionally strong program, the team is known for its extensive preparation. “Past success is something to build tradition from, but on the court each day is where we need to show that success,” head coach Mr. Donald West Jr. said. The girls have been dedicated to practicing after school throughout the season in order to foster the success their coach speaks of. Many of the Spartans also attribute their winning record this season not only to their training, but also to the positive team environment. “Being positive and always helping people on the court [is necessary] because I feel like volleyball is very mental,” freshman Alexis Hoyer said. “Keeping everyone positive on the court is really important. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but definitely [you have to] help each other out.” Off the court, the girls continue to emphasize the positive team atmosphere. This is made possible through team traditions and bonding activities, which allowed the team to become a tight knit group in a few months. “We went paddle boarding, and varsity sometimes goes out for dinner,” sophomore TaNiya Pleasant said. “[Coach] West gives us gum every game. We also decorate the seniors’ cars. We make senior posters and do a team bonding event. If we win a tournament, we get cinnamon buns.”
During school, the girls participate in spirit days—which boosts team bonding even more. “The whole school can see who’s on the team, and it represents the volleyball team,” Hoyer said. “It’s kind of nice, and it’s fun.” One of the most popular spirit days is Choose Your Friend’s Outfit Day, where each girl is matched with a partner on the team who is similar in size, and brings an outfit or funny costume for them to wear during the school day. The team uses the positive environment they have built over the course of the season as a basis for their upcoming post-season matches. With the training on the court, and activities off the court, they plan to build on their hard work. “[I’m] looking forward to working to expand our offense and incorporate some new things,” Coach West said. “[I’m] also looking forward to working to get the team to where we need to be physically, mentally and emotionally as league and district playoffs start.” As the 2021 season draws to an end, the older players have a positive outlook on the years to come. “I think it’ll be interesting,” senior captain Alyssa Adams said. “There will be a lot of young girls on the team because there are a lot of talented underclassmen that will be on the varsity team.” The 2021 season has been a promising one as the team looks to build on their past five years of Colonial League championship titles, as well as their training and positivity to help keep them at the top of PIAA District XI.
SLHS girls volleyball stands undefeated by Alaina Patel and Elizabeth Monroe
Senior Mallory Hoch goes up for a serve in the Dig Pink game. Photo credit: Alaina Patel
Page 6 Features
Student section brings the spirit to sports by Christiana Lycette and Elizabeth Vezenov
The Spartan student section brings excitement and energy to the stands of every football game. Photo Credit: Nicole Farnsworth
There’s no better place to find unity among a student body than in the stadium of a football game. The Southern Lehigh student section has proven this to be true as they come together after a year of missing out on spreading school spirit during the games. Last year, in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19, Southern Lehigh had to limit the capacity of spectators during high school football games, which eliminated the student section. However, now these restrictions have been lifted. The current seniors took on leadership roles in the student section even though they were sophomores when the pandemic hit. With little experience, senior leaders including Will Woodring, Matt Tankred, and Dominik Lisicky have stepped up, taking responsibility for
actively participating and encouraging others, spreading school spirit, and supporting Southern Lehigh’s football team. “I just love the community, this school, the program around it, and the Spartans,” Lisicky said, “so I just wanted to show everyone my spirit, and [how] me and my friends support whatever sport my classmates are in, such as football.” Student section leaders take the initiative to start chants, integrate themselves among students from other grades, and serve as positive motivators for the football team. The leaders focus on involving all students, especially the underclassmen who aren’t as familiar with the expectations of the Student section during football games. As the season goes on, they teach
these underclassmen so they will lead correctly when it is their turn. The football players say the student section amps up the team after a successful play, pushing the players to strive for a win. “I feel like it raises the energy of the whole crowd,” and more energy means more adrenaline, and more adrenaline means better play,” sophomore varsity football player Jack Inglis said. Vice Principal Mr. Chad Kinslow believes the student section impacts the excitement at football games, improving each week after a rough start to the season. With the seniors positively leading by example, they focus on the key situations during the game so that when a big moment happens, they are ready to initiate a cheer. “Dominik [Lisicky] and Will Woodring [try] to hype everyone up, which is their main goal in the football game,” junior Maggie Pavis said, “and they definitely lead some good chants.” To lift players’ spirits and the game’s overall energy, several students and football players recommend fully participating in the themes, increasing the volume of chants, and bringing signs with positive slogans. “Saying negative things about the other team is not what you are supposed to do,” sophomore varsity quarterback James Wisecarver said. “The goal is to spread positivity throughout the student section and to our football team.” Above all else, the student section is a place where Southern Lehigh students can come together in the stands to support the team, no matter the score of the game, enhancing the experience for everyone on the field and the sidelines. “Just try to have fun with it,” senior Sophia Hoyer said, “and have as much fun as possible.”
No Place For Hate encourages inclusion, diversity by Kishore Annambhotla and Zain Shamasseen
The newfound club aims to bring forth awareness to diversity and equality amongst students and staff. Photo Credit: Anti-Defamation League
Student safety and inclusion has always been a priority in schools. Above education and extracurriculars, it is essential that students remain safe and vocal about their experiences. This was the reason for the creation of No Place for Hate and the primary reason why the program has come to Southern Lehigh. “[We want to] make the community a more welcoming place, especially school, and make no one feel left out,” senior Jaya Bhatt said. “Only four percent of the high school student body are people of color, [so we want to] encourage diversity so no one feels left out or excluded for who they are.”
No Place for Hate is a student-led school improvement program created by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). As an international non-profit organization focused on combating antisemitism, the ADL also fights discrimination and promotes respectful schools and communities. English teachers Mrs. Marlo Spritzer and Mrs. Lauren Tocci are the co-advisors for No Place for Hate. The addition to Southern Lehigh was supported by many dedicated students and support from principal Mrs. Guarriello and former assistant principal Ms. Brinson. “Mrs. Spritzer was thinking about the Diversity Council model, and so much was coming out of our discussions,” Mrs. Tocci said. “She was looking at the ADL and decided [No Place for Hate] would be a good way to give the whole school those valuable discussions.” The decision was inspired by significant events in 2020, including the protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Students believe that the addition has been essential in increasing social awareness among students. “Students who would ignore or avoid the news [before] now repost articles and discuss conflicts amongst each other,” junior Kylie Baker said. “Clubs like No Place for Hate and other diversity groups have been embraced and supported by staff and our district’s administration, something I’m so grateful to be a part of.” As a progression of the Diversity Council, No Place for Hate intends to foster important
conversations between students and put those discussions into action around the school. The program plans to conduct small committee meetings focused on topics such as racial and gender equity. Those committees will then reconvene to organize their thoughts and plan school-wide activities and announcements focused on inclusivity and understanding. The primary goals of No Place for Hate in the 2021-2022 school year are to spread its message across the school and promote respect for those around you. “We hope to include more people, and have more discussions about cultural appreciation versus appropriation, and inclusion in school,” senior Andrea Prince said. Mrs. Spritzer believes that No Place for Hate is a necessary installment to the school to promote students’ different identities. “Everyone brings something different, everyone brings their own identities and their own passions, and they all just want to make school a place where everyone feels welcome and safe.” Mrs. Spritzer said. Mrs. Tocci believes it is critical that students are the leaders of the program. “Because you [the students] are the changemakers. In any environment, when things are driven by the highest stakeholders, there’s so much more authority,” Mrs. Tocci said. “From adults, it feels like an order. From other students, it’s so much more impactful and makes others feel more invested.”
Social worker Mrs. Allison Mullay supports SLSD
by Alexander Kane
Mrs. Mullay shows off her favorite sign to remind herself and others to stay positive. Photo Credit: Alex Kane
A Southern Lehigh Alumnus of 2001 has returned to halls they’ve walked before -- though this time as a staff member, not as a student. Located in room 106, Mrs. Allison Mullay holds a new role as district social worker.
“[The addition of a social worker] has been a goal of Mrs. Buchman [the district’s director of special education] for many years,” high school principal Mrs. Beth Guarriello said. “The district received grant money due to the pandemic, which is how we were able to pay for the position.” Mrs. Mullay earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Kutztown University and her Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree from Widener University. She is certified as a social worker for grades K-12. Mrs Guarriello notes that given her certification, Mrs. Mullay will be able to serve students in the entire district despite her office existing within the walls of Southern Lehigh High School. As a graduate of Southern Lehigh, Mrs. Mullay feels that she is uniquely qualified for the position due to her first-hand experience with the area. Prior to working at Southern Lehigh she spent 14 years serving students and families around the Lehigh Valley. “After I graduated from Kutztown, I started working right away for Kids Peace and Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21 (CLIU21) with kids with challenges in homes and schools,” Mrs. Mullay said. “As I continued to work, specifically in the Allentown School District, I saw the need for more resources for students. I decided to go back to school and get my MSW so I could help my students more and to effectively understand the social and emotional struggles they might be having.”
Mrs. Trachtman joins SLHS guidance staff by Abigail Wilson
Mrs. Trachtman is eager to help out with all counseling needs. Photo credit: Southern Lehigh School District
Following the retirement of Mrs. Lynne Kelly, guidance counselor Mrs. Samantha Trachtman has joined the Southern Lehigh High School faculty. Mrs. Trachtman comes to Southern Lehigh with seven years’ experience and a taste for mint chocolate chip ice cream. Prior to becoming a Spartan, Mrs. Trachtman worked at Saucon Valley. She now advises Southern Lehigh High School students on academic, mental, and career-related issues, connecting them to better help if needed, and encouraging their growth throughout high school.
Ms. Trachtman holds a B.S. in Psychology from DeSales University with a concentration in Clinical/ Counseling. She earned a master’s degree from West Chester University in Secondary School Counseling, and has a background as an outpatient therapist. Originally, Mrs. Trachtman was a science major in college. After realizing she disliked anatomy, she began looking for something she would enjoy working at instead. Her college was often visited by high school students, and getting to know them became a genuine pleasure to her, so she decided to pursue counseling as a career. “I loved giving students a voice, advocating for them,” Mrs. Trachtman said. Before the coronavirus pandemic, her hobbies included taking part in adult hip hop lessons and making arts and crafts. She now spends most of her time caring for her new fourteen-month-old son. Mrs. Trachtman welcomes all the students in her care, specifically those with last names beginning with F-K, and is glad to help them in any way she can. Alongside her fellow counselors, she does her best to help Southern Lehigh students reach their full potential.
As district social worker, Mrs. Mullay’s job is to act as Southern Lehigh’s mental health professional who looks at the entire student and their life’s history, combining family, educational, and community resources to help students in need. Outside of school, Mrs. Mullay enjoys the beach and spending time with her family. She is married and has three children and a mini Labradoodle, which she loves to take for daily walks. Her favorite thing in her room is the sign that reminds both students and staff to “Focus on the good” and remain positive. Mrs. Mullay wishes the students of Southern Lehigh all the best, and hopes that they can balance stress and fun and to enjoy each day. She also hopes that the students of Southern Lehigh always remember her favorite quote from Maya Angelou: “If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…gratefully.” To contact Southern Lehigh’s new social worker directly, students or families should use email, office phone, or cell phone. Mrs. Mullay’s school email address is email@example.com, her office phone number is 610-282-1421 ext: 7106.
Mr. Erik Tracy joins SLHS learning support by Arden Glad
and Achievement School, Mr. Tracy provides support to students who might need a little push to help them reach their goals. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people,” he said. “I think going back to the Special Olympics and watching that unfold really led me into special education as a whole.” Special education can be a challenging field, but for Mr. Tracy it is something he Mr. Tracy is excited to join the special wouldn’t give up for the world. education staff to help inspire students He loves to see the growth in daily. Photo Credit: Evelyn Blower student learning, starting at “You win some you lose the ground level and working some” is a common saying, up in a manner that is best for and this fall Southern Lehigh them and their learning styles. students returned to find they Watching their eyes light up lost a number of teachers to when they get something right career changes, but they also or seeing the progress in their gained many new enthusiastic efforts is encouraging to both teachers in their place. One the teacher and the student. of those new faces is Mr. Eric Mr. Tracy hopes that he can Tracy who joins the faculty as make a difference in the lives a special education teacher. of students, and this drives him Coming to Southern Lehigh to wake up everyday and make from the Allentown Learning a change.
Page 8Center Center Spread
Ecology Club Starts Dress Drive For Dances by Gianna Cusumano and Alexis Behrens
The Ecology Club heavily promoted the Homecoming Dress Drive as an alternative to fast fashion. Photo Credit: SLHS Ecology Club.
A young woman bends over a sewing machine in a poorly-lit factory. Her fingers are blistered and swollen from the tiresome hours she works simply to keep a roof over her head and pay her ill mother’s medical bills. Finally, after all of her shifts are completed for the week, she receives her wages only for a portion to be pocketed by her manager. Unfortunately, this scenario is a reality for many; up to 80 million laborers work in factories across the world, many under similar conditions, and all part of a system now known as “fast fashion.” So, what is fast fashion? Well, think of it like fast food. Studies have shown that many fast food chains use ingredients and cooking processes that can be detrimental to your health, and yet consumers still buy from them because of their low prices. And fast fashion is no different. In response, Southern Lehigh High School’s Ecology Club founded the Homecoming Dress Drive. Though the Ecology Club is still a rather young organization, their goal is to make students more environmentally aware and to mitigate the high school’s ecological footprint. The idea of the Dress Drive, introduced by senior Andrea Keiper, aims to do just that by providing a platform for students to share dresses for school dances. As a senior, she has attended many such events, and as a member of the Ecology Club, she’s come to realize the environmental danger they pose. “For the past few school dances I didn’t
Dresses donated by Evlyn McCulloch and Danika Lewis Phot Credit: Evlyn McCulloch and Danika Lewis
want to buy a dress from some fast fashion brand and only wear it once, so I asked around my friends to find one of their old dresses. I thought [the Dress Drive] could be a good concept to help others with the same thing.” Keiper said. “I also hoped to alleviate some people’s stress of the purchase of a new dress.” Many participants loved the idea and truly benefited from it for the homecoming dance. “It saved me time from having to go out to shop for a dress with my busy schedule,” junior Felicity Parrish said. “It is practical and works to save our environment; I would definitely participate again!” In addition to saving money, the online form allows students to save time, not unlike the instant-gratification appeal that many popular fast fashion websites play to, though different in every other sense. “I feel a lot of them [fast fashion brands] now are more online stores, like Shein,” freshman Ecology Club member Jaclyn Bossert said, “The reason they have such low prices is because they outsource their labor to places like China, Thailand, or other such countries that have incredibly weak labor laws. Avoid sites that are too good to be true, too good to be ethical.” “My fear with fast fashion, and a lot of consumption in general, is that we are detached from the real cost of what we purchase,” Ecology Club advisor and civics teacher Dr. Katie Quartuch said. “For ex-
ample, we may not consider the ‘costs’ of how things are made, what resources they require, what resources are needed for their transportation in global markets, and the working conditions for those who participate in their manufacturing. So we make decisions based on price and want, often derived from excellent marketing efforts, but not based on an accurate account of the consequences of our purchases.” Through the Dress Drive, the Ecology Club encourages students to find workarounds and more sustainable options to fast fashion. “Good alternatives are thrift stores, which aren’t just physical, as a lot of online thrift stores have been popping up and also have great items,” Bossert said. “A lot of people think buying ethically means getting expensive clothing that is made sustainably,” said senior Addison Matsamura, who is a member of both the Ecology Club and the Fashion Club. “But I think that the best way to stop contributing to fast fashion is to buy clothing you know you will wear for many years, donate your old clothing, borrow from friends, and thrift.” In order to aid the fight against fast fashion, Keiper and the rest of the Ecology Club hope to continue to run dress drives in the future. “I absolutely hope to do this for prom and any other dances we may have this year,” Keiper said.
Fast fashion brands to be on the look out for and why. Phot Credit: Alexis Behrens
Center Spread Page 9
Homecoming Dance Returns to Southern Lehigh by Evelyn Blower and Abbigail WIlson
A rendereing of a possible homecoming dance set up in the Southern Lehigh High School courtyard. Photo Credit: Evelyn Blower
With every new school year comes new opportunities, especially this year as students return to in person schooling following a year of social distancing. With everything falling back into place, Southern Lehigh High School brought back the classic homecoming dance, with a few adjustments. From freshmen to seniors, students once again got to experience the event that many love as part of the traditional fall celebrations. Last year, October was a time of transition, when the high school was moving from fully remote to hybrid learning, bringing fewer than fifty percent of the student body into the building at one time. The uncertainty of COVID-19 transmission concerned many, so the idea of a schoolwide homecoming dance with over 400 people in attendance was out of the question. “After the stressful years we’ve had, I think that homecoming is a good reminder of the good times before COVID,” junior Anjali Pail said. This year, the Student Council rounded up their best ideas for where homecoming could be. Instead of an enclosed area like the school cafeteria, the original location, ideas like the middle school track or tennis courts
flew around. “[We really wanted to] find a way to be outside, and try to find a space to work in,” senior student council president Christian Piper said. “We chose to adapt to getting the courtyard as the best way for homecoming to deal with all of that.” Students overwhelmingly chose the high school courtyard for its ability to have more possibilities for decor and aesthetics. The Student Council worked with these ideas to solidify a homecoming that would allow for COVID rules and mandates to be easily followed. “Being able to help organize a special moment is the best feeling,” senior student council treasurer Madeleine Zeidenberg said. “Coming to the first dance back because of COVID-19, we really wanted to make it special [especially for] seniors’ last dance.” Being outside troubled some students. Girls worried their heels may not withstand the grass of the courtyard, the weather could be uncooperative, and students wouldn’t be able to play popular gym activities like ping pong. Some students wished that this year’s homecoming was like before; but the goal was to get students back together again.
Seniors Ben Sarninsky and Maddie Zeidenberg were crowned Homecoming King and Homecoming Queen, respectively. Photo Credit: Alexis Behrens.
“I think that’s really important and uplifting and really [a way] to unite the school,” freshman student council member Jacalyn DeSimone said. Members of the student council understood the concerns of students. They included a shoe check in and a solid dance floor atop the grass while still including the ever important DJ, buffet style food service, and a photobooth to capture memories. The courtyard also opened a space where students could feel comfortable about attending a large social event. By square footage, the courtyard is larger than the previously used cafeteria. This outdoor space allowed for more physical distancing, as attendance levels reached upwards of 550 tickets sold. With the senior dance at the beginning of the school year at Shepard Hills Golf Club, Southern Lehigh administrators got a taste of what to plan for with homecoming and other upcoming events. “I love the school spirit and the positive energy around the school during [Homecoming] week,” high school principal Mrs. Beth Guarriello said. “I want students to have the chance to create positive memories that will last a lifetime.”
Students celebrated Homecoming for the first time in two years with a dance in the courtyard. Photo Credit: The Solehian Yearbook
Page 10 Features
Mr. Miller cooks up a new teaching role with his move to Family Consumer Science by Alaina Patel
Mr. Miller seeks to help his students excel both inside and outside of school through a variety of Family Consumer Scinece courses. Photo Credit: Alaina Patel
While some high school teachers may struggle to make their lessons applicable to student’s future lives, for new Family and Consumer Science teacher Mr. Matthew Miller, it’s easy. “I think it’s the most practical, useful thing for students to learn, whether it’s cooking, baking, or personal finance,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s practical information that students are going to need for the rest of their lives.” Prior to becoming a family consumer science teacher, Mr. Miller taught for twenty years, spending the last fifteen with Southern Lehigh’s special education department. Mr. Miller teaches Independent Living, Housing and Interior Design, and Family Consumer Sciences. In these classes, students engage in practical activities catered to their curriculum, but Mr. Miller tries his best to add an element of excitement. “[In] Housing and Interior Design, we’re currently studying elements of design so that we can redesign the main office,” he said. “We also do DIY Fridays, and the students are currently reupholstering chairs.” In addition to engaging lessons, Mr. Miller looks to set his students up for success through a pair of his personal rules: be kind and be brave. “And when we say brave, it basically just
means trying new things,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there because whether it’s in the kitchen or if it’s in interior design, there’s going to be times that you fail, and that’s okay. So I think it’s important to go outside your comfort zone and to challenge yourself.” Ensuring students are growing while enjoying his classes is Mr. Miller’s first priority. So far this year, he believes that his students are doing a great job challenging themselves and following those two rules. “They’ve been doing a pretty good job at that,” he said. While Mr. Miller teaches a variety of different recipes in the classroom, his personal favorite is lasagna. The recipe was his grandmother’s and is of sentimental value to him. Outside the classroom, Mr. Miller enjoys exercise, hiking, and reading; he also enjoys spending time at his children’s activities. He’s had many unique experiences in his life; for example, he’s had over thirty foster brothers and he lived in Prague for three years. Overall, Mr. Miller is looking forward to teaching his students valuable skills that will help them succeed both in high school and beyond. He wants to encourage students to make connections with others, as well as push themselves to excel.
Mr. Cooperman a familiar face in the math department by Kelcie Wagner
Mr. Cooperman enjoys the greater variety of content in high school courses. Photo Credit: Kelcie Wagner
Students always wonder what their new teachers will be like, but this was not the case for some when math teacher Mr. Casey Cooperman transferred last year to Southern Lehigh High School from his previous position at the district’s intermediate school, where he taught for a number of years. Last year when middle school math teacher Mr. Andrew Baranak retired, Ms. Justina Viola transferred from the high school to the middle school to fill his position, and Mr. Cooperman had the opportunity to fill the math position at the high school. Since then he hasn’t looked back. “I love teaching high school because there is a lot more content,” he said. Mr. Cooperman has always aspired to be a teacher and a coach, and for good reason: it’s practically in his blood. Both of Mr. Cooperman’s grandfathers were teachers and coaches, as were his parents. “That’s all I ever knew of when I was younger,” he said.
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Outside of school, he spends time with his wife and son at home. His wife is music teacher Mrs. Alexandra Cooperman who works at JPL Intermediate School where they met when Mr. Cooperman was teaching fourth grade. He even proposed to her at an assembly in front of a full auditorium at the school talent show. Since then, they got married and now have a one-year-old son named Nolan. At home, Mr. Cooperman likes to cook, sew, and make different DIY crafts with his cricut machine. He also has some goldfish, and likes to hang out with family and take day trips. When he is not at home or teaching, Mr. Cooperman coaches middle school football and varsity baseball. He also works as one of the assistant athletic directors to Mr. Marc Zimmerman, and helps out managing games. Mr. Cooperman wants to accomplish a lot in his time here at the high school and most of all help students learn.
Features Page 11
Mr. Stenroos reaches new heights as the most recent member of the HS social studies team by Morgan Downing
Mr. Stenroos thinks that students should always get a second chance. Photo Credit: Morgan Downing
After regularly substituting in the district for quite some time, social studies teacher Mr. Jordan Stenroos can finally call Southern Lehigh High School his home. Mr. Stenroos is a newly appointed ninth grade Civics and Government teacher who covers all levels including Applied, College Prep, and Honors. He attended West Chester University, where he studied history and secondary education. Becoming a teacher has
been his goal ever since he was a young student himself. “I had really wonderful teachers in my high school in Emmaus,” he said, “and from that point on I realized that this was something that I could see myself doing.” From his first time student teaching at Chichester High School, he immediately fell in love with the profession. Mr. Stenroos spent ten summers working for the Emmaus Borough Public Works Department where he did everything from landscaping to painting. He began this job in high school, and continued to work there through college. He began substitute teaching in 2017 and continued working in this role right up until he joined the faculty at SLHS. While Mr. Stenroos has a clear passion for teaching, what stands out the most is his devotion to his students, whom he describes as his “biggest inspiration.” “As a teacher, your job first and foremost is to make sure your students are successful and to give them every opportunity to be successful,” he said. “Seeing that inspires me to work harder.” Developing relationships with the students is one of the best parts about teaching for Mr. Stenroos, who would also consider running clubs or activities. “I think Model UN is something that could be interesting, or really anything along the lines of current events or history,” he said. “I’m going to try and get involved wherever I
can.” Every morning Mr. Stenroos looks forward to greeting people in the hallways before the start of class. He especially enjoys seeing all the students he taught in past years while working as a substitute. One feature that many students know about this social studies teacher is his impressive height. Mr. Stenroos confirmed he is 6 feet and 9 inches tall. It never bothers him when students bring up the topic; in fact, it’s rather the opposite. He enjoys the attention his height brings if it means he can connect with others. Mr. Stenroos is excited for his journey at SLHS and hopes to bring a positive attitude, a warm welcome, and a helping hand to students in his classroom, where he tries to create “student-centered” experiences, and encourages them to try their hardest. “Nobody’s perfect at anything, so it’s important to always give it your best shot even if you fail the first time,” he said. “Always try again, and make those second chances count.” As a kid, Mr. Stenroos played intermural baseball and basketball. He still enjoys staying active by going on runs several times a week. In addition, Stenroos can be found watching football each Sunday with family and friends. “Go Eagles!” he said.
Señora Deterville says ‘Hola!’ to Southern Lehigh by Isabelle Johnson
At every opportunity, Señora Deterville learns more about the world around her. Photo Credit: Isabelle Johnson
This fall Southern Lehigh welcomed a new Spanish teacher, Mrs. Aleica Deterville, who filled the position of Mrs. Joan Imms-Geiser who now teaches in another district. Although moving to a new school with different grade levels than she’s previously taught is a challenge, it is one Mrs. Deterville embraces with open arms, and she is excited to embark upon her journey teaching in a high school. “After having the opportunity to work in the elementary sector for a couple years, I wanted to challenge myself a little bit and try out the high school level,” she said. Transitioning into Southern Lehigh High School has been much easier with the help of those around her. Not only have students been very supportive, but so have other faculty and staff members. “The awesome, welcoming community, students, teachers, and families have all been so welcoming and it has helped me to love it here even more,” she said. Although she spends much of her time
teaching Spanish, Mrs. Deterville loves traveling. While she has had her fair share of continental travel, she enjoys experiencing other countries. Whenever she has the opportunity, trying different foods, learning about different cultures, and obtaining more knowledge about other people around the world intrigues her and brings her joy. On top of traveling, Mrs. Deterville takes pride in her dancing ability. “I love to dance,” she said. “My students know I love dancing, but I don’t think they realize how good I am at it.” As she progresses through her first year teaching at Southern Lehigh High School, she hopes to see growth both in herself and in her students. Taking on the task of becoming a teacher at a new school is a huge leap in itself, but by working with her students, she knows she will fit right in. Once the school year comes to an end, Mrs. Deterville hopes to reflect back and see positive developments within herself and in her students.
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Page 12 Features
Mr. Shaw welcomes students to the writing lab by Sophia Lycette
Mr. Shaw is the first writing lab instructor in the history of Southern Lehigh. Photo Credit: Sophia Lycette
Starting anything new, whether it’s a hobby or a career, can be quite challenging. Mr. Matthew Shaw, the new writing lab instructor at Southern Lehigh High School, has shown nothing but enthusiasm, bringing new approaches to solving issues in the face of a pandemic. For over 15 years, Mr. Shaw has been teaching English -- from Wallow Washington School district, to Saucon Valley School District, and now Southern Lehigh, where he is helping students become stronger writers. During the covid pandemic, he recognized the struggles students have faced, and the repercussions of these challenges. “This pandemic significantly harmed students’ writing skills,” Mr. Shaw said, “Not just in writing but in all areas too...this is why we have the math lab as well.” Southern Lehigh’s newest member of the English department has visions for what the writing lab can become, aspiring to take it step by step, as it is “uncharted territory” and he is in the position of “building the plane while flying it.” “One day, hopefully, this writing lab will
be student-run with student tutors,” he said, “ultimately bringing Southern Lehigh’s student community together.” Mr. Shaw said that sometimes it is “overwhelming” with the number of students he must assist, as he is only one person, so building a foundation where students help others will be crucial for the future success of the writing lab. Outside the classroom, Mr. Shaw is like any other human, but possesses the unique abilities to juggle and impersonate the rain. He coaches his daughter’s basketball team and enjoys watching Broncos games with his family and his Saint Bernard, Ava. His favorite city is Boulder, Colorado, because of its beautiful, mountainous terrain; he became very familiar with this society when he lived there for ten years. As a whole, Mr. Shaw is excited for the first fully in-person school year in two years, hoping to play a valuable, positive role as a member of the faculty, with high hopes to assist Southern Lehigh’s students in conquering obstacles and becoming stronger and more confident writers.
Ms. Jungblut helps students solve their math woes by Evelyn Blower
Ms. Jungblut assists a student who visiting the math lab for extra help. The math lab is located on the second floor. Photo Credit: Sophia Lycette
For students struggling with math, going to room 211 might be your saving grace. Ms. Laura Jungblut has joined the Southern Lehigh High math department in the role of math lab teacher. This year, Southern Lehigh added a math lab and writing center intended to provide assistance for students who need extra help. These two subjects tend to be the most difficult for students, and when teachers are busy with fulfilling state requirements as well as their general workload, these labs can be resources for students to use at their will. Ms. Jungblut is a graduate of Easts Stroudsburg University, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in Secondary Education. She brings this education to assist any student in any level of mathematics. “People can come to me for really any class in math, and if there is some algebra content in the physics classes, any classes can come see me,” she said. As part of the math department, Ms. Jungblut helps other teachers with tutoring, grading (though she gives no grades herself), test taking, SAT or ACT help, and all things
math. “I hope I can just bring that extra support, because I know when it comes to math, when you need help with an assignment or studying, you kind of need help in that moment or else you forget about it,” she said. “Say you’re in study hall, and chances are, teachers are in the middle of class, [you think] ‘well now who do I go to?’, so I hope I am that ‘in the moment’ help and allow the students to make more connections.” Ms. Jungblut hopes to inspire others to enjoy math the same way she does. In her view, for some teens, math is a “love it or hate it” subject, and she wants to help students be on the love side of things. Math became her favorite subject around middle school, when making connections between puzzles and math clicked with her. She hopes to bring as much support as she can while students navigate their own math classes. “The best advice I can give is to not give up, and always ask questions,” she said. “It might seem like the silliest of questions or it’s not important, but chances are, if you have those questions there’s probably five other
people in the class that have that question but don’t want to ask. Don’t give up, ask questions, talk it out, because if you don’t, you’re never gonna keep going.” Outside of her math lab, Ms. Jungblut is a lover of music and theatre. She is planning to help out with Southern Lehigh’s theatre program, including the play and spring musical. She adores all things Disney, and enjoys spending time outdoors, gardening and playing with her neighbor’s dog. Ms. Jungblut is available every block, unless she is assisting another class, and also during Spartan periods 3-6. “Say [a student] knows they have a math test, they can always get extra help,” she said. “ is a small room, but you can drop in quickly in the mornings, and I’m here until 3 pm, so please stop in.” If students are interested in stopping by the math lab for help, taking a test, working through a grade that a student received, or overall math assistance, just complete a drop in form to let Ms. Jungblut know of your interest, and reason for stopping in.
Features Page 13
Mrs. McLaughlin moves from IA to full-time teacher by Elizabeth Vezenov
Mrs. McLaughlin worked as an instructional assisstant for eight years before becoming a teacher. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Vezenov
This year Mrs. Jennifer McLaughlin stepped into a new role as a special education teacher at Southern Lehigh. Prior to this, she had worked as an instructional assistant at the high school for eight years. It’s often the case that with a new role comes new responsibilities, and for Mrs. McLaughlin, this holds true. “My responsibilities have increased ten times including the number of students I am responsible for,” she said. “I have to come up with lesson plans and grade students’ work which I am not used to doing.” Mrs. McLaughlin looks forward to everything returning back to normal, especially after the many obstacles imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she has many of the same students as last year, she felt it was difficult to create strong connections with them virtually. As such, she is enthusiastic about getting the opportunity to form the close relationships with her classes that she was unable to foster last year. “I want my students to know that I will go the extra mile with them to help them be successful,” she said. While she did not always want to be a high school teacher, Mrs. McLaughlin always had aspirations to work in the classroom. “I’ve always wanted to work with teens and their families, and I loved being in the school,” she said. “I also liked working in the
field of mental health and counseling.” Mrs. McLaughlin earned her undergraduate degree from Kutztown University and worked at the Valley Youth House for 23 years prior to coming to Southern Lehigh High School. For this teacher, though, the learning is not done; she is continuing her education at Desales University where she is working toward her Master of Education Degree (M. Ed.) in Special Education Pre-K-12. She appreciates that our administration takes into consideration the social-emotional state of every student and stimulates connections among the student body and between students and their teachers, which is critical in the development of student success. She also enjoys the many connections she has been able to forge throughout her years at Southern Lehigh. When not in the halls of the high school, Mrs. McLaughlin takes part in a variety of adventurous activities including camping, hiking, kayaking, and traveling, and her favorite vacation was to Puerto Rico. One interesting fact about this teacher is that she was part of the live audience when Whitney Houston recorded her “So Emotional” music video at Stabler Arena. Mrs. McLaughlin is excited to play an important role in her students’ high school experience and hopes to create strong relationships with them this year.
Mrs. Scoralick becomes newest tech ed teacher by Zain Shamasseen
Mrs. Scoralick believes that there is no limit to opportunity in the world. Photo Credit: Zain Shamasseen
When she was just a girl, Ms. Sydney Scoralick was hit with a soccer ball while playing her favorite sport, and while concussed, she had to forgo gym class, so she filled the hole in her schedule with a technology class. Eventually, she found a love for the subject, and she tried to take all of the technology classes that she could. She discovered a talent in the subject, and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Science in Technology and Engineering at Millersville University, to become a teacher. Students can find Ms. Scoralick in room 137, which is the CAD lab, where she teaches Foundations of Technology. She tries to make a comfortable environment in her room, where she has a fish tank, and various plants. As a teacher, Ms. Scoralick shows students how to use technology to their advantage, demonstrating how to design intricate
figures on the computer. She also promotes teamwork skills, asking her students to engage in collaborative activities while in randomized groups. Unlike many other teachers, Ms. Scoralick tends to shy away from homework, something that most students love about her class. “I just don’t see any point for it,” she said. Ms. Scoralick was born in New York, and her favorite film is Tim Burton’s “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” Her favorite foods include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, ice cream, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream. Students can utilize design skills from her class to become architects, art directors, or even technological scholars. “You can do anything you want to,” she said. “There are footprints on the moon.”
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Page 14 Features
Mrs. Lisa Fidler finds footing at SL
by Kishore Annambhotla
Mrs. Fidler is excited to be in the building helping students this year. Photo credit: Kishore Annambhotla
As Southern Lehigh High School returns to in-person instruction this year, many new staff members have come aboard to serve the school. Among them, you may notice an energetic new instructional assistant: the ever-cheerful Mrs. Lisa Fidler. Mrs. Fidler may be new to Southern Lehigh, but she is not unfamiliar with working in school settings. Before moving north, she lived in Pasco County, Florida, where she worked as the Disciplinary Assistant for Hudson Elementary School. For her, it was an easy decision to work with Southern Lehigh once she moved to Pennsylvania. “The school has a great reputation. The interview was great, and I knew I wanted to be at a high school,” Mrs. Fidler said. “So far, it’s been even better than I thought it would be.” Her career in education has taken her through many settings, from elementary school classrooms to college lecture halls. However, her positive experiences with older students have largely influenced her decision to join the SLHS staff. “I’ve worked with students of all ages over the years, and I think I’ve found my niche working with high school students,” Mrs. Fidler said. “I get to do a variety of responsibilities.” She enjoys the satisfying aspect of helping
students work through obstacles, which was part of what drew her to the role of instructional assistant. “[My favorite part of my job is] being able to help students with what they’re struggling with. There’s a lot of surprises in education, and I like that,” Mrs. Fidler said. Students may see Mrs. Fidler helping students with their study skills alongside other teachers like Mrs. Erica Groendal or Mrs. Jennifer McLaughlin, or assisting Mr. Edward Sinkler’s Applied Biology classes. Outside of school, Mrs. Fidler maintains a very active life. She enjoys practicing lacrosse with her daughter and walking her Pyrenees dog, Moki. She also has a poodle named Duck, and a tegu lizard named Tiki. Her favorite movie is the 1994 classic “The Shawshank Redemption,” which she finds to have a particularly compelling theme. “It’s a love story between two friends, which you don’t see very often,” she said, “and it’s about karma.” Being experienced in helping others through their issues, Mrs. Fidler shares a nugget of wisdom for students and staff alike: “Step back and try to live in the moment,” she said. “We are all trying to either live in the past or go forward, but we need to learn to live in the moment.”
Mrs. Dishna Samarajiva joins SL instructional aides
by Christiana Lycette
Mrs. Samarajiva looks forward to helping advance the education of all students. Photo Credit: Christiana Lycette
Based in room 140, Mrs. Dishna Samarajiva is a new instructional assistant at Southern Lehigh High School. Her job is to help students who are struggling academically, and she specializes in math and reading. To this end she is part of the Read 180 team which helps students improve their reading comprehension skills and more fully understand an essential life skill. “Reading is important to all your lessons,” Mrs. Samarajiva said. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, she attended the Visakha Vidyalaya Colombo High School. After graduating, Mrs. Samarajiva traveled to London to attend Brunel University with the goal of earning a Bachelor Science in Information Systems and Decision Sciences, ultimately transferring to Louisiana State University to complete her degrees. From 2010-2017, Mrs. Samarajiva elected not to hold a job due to the need to provide more comprehensive care to her son, who has autism. At some point during these years she decided to go back to school once again to earn her Alternative Certification for Teachers and certifications for elementary classroom teacher, math up to 8th grade and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)
at ACT Houston Community College. In 2019, Mrs. Samarajiva and her family moved to Pennsylvania, due to her husband’s job, although the move was unwanted and an unanticipated one. Though some travels have been unexpected, throughout the journey of her life, Mrs. Samarajiva has learned the value of patience, courage, and a strong work ethic and hopes to pass on those lessons to Southern Lehigh students. “Talents change in time as kids who are gifted and talented in elementary school sometimes do not do well in high school,” Mrs. Samarajiva said, “ and sometimes kids who are doing well in high school don’t do well in college, and sometimes even the college students who succeed in that environment will not do well in [their chosen] profession.” Above all else, she stressed that the most crucial thing in students’ lives should be to work on their goals and understand their talents and that talents change over time. Mrs. Samarajiva hopes that her advice will help her students through the many adventures life takes them on.
Features Page 15
Mr. Stephen Ogden opens doors as biology IA
by Elizabeth Monroe
As part of Southern Lehigh’s science department, Mr. Ogden is happy to help with anything and everything this year. Photo credit: Elizabeth Monroe
Graduating from not one, not two, but three colleges, with English as his strongest subject, Mr. Stephen Ogden finds himself as the new biology instructional assistant at Southern Lehigh High School. Students can typically find him in Room 147 assisting biology teacher Mrs. Jesse Winslow. Mr. Ogden earned his associates degree in Communication studies from Northampton Community College, his bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Kutztown University, and most recently his master’s degree in communications from West Chester University. “I’ve always had wonderful teachers,” Mr. Ogden said, “and I kind of always have loved just helping people learn.” While admitting that he may not always have the most patience, Mr. Ogden is always willing to help and loves to see himself and others improve. “I’ve just always loved helping people,” he said. Mr. Ogden’s interest in biology sparked when he started working as a substitute teacher for Southern Lehigh. This year he was offered the position as an instructional assistant. He is working hard to be a great aid to Mrs. Winslow as he helps her with assisting students with their work. Prior to working in a school setting, Mr.
Ogden worked for a number of different companies, including Walmart, KB Toys, and Best Buy. At Walmart, he was a strict manager in charge of the cell phone and camera department. In high school, he ran a cleaning business, participated in clubs, studied, and contributed to his classes. Some of his strongest classes were English and public speaking. Outside of school life, Mr. Ogden loves to read sci-fi novels and has recently gotten back into boxing. Additionally, he collects foreign coins and keychains. “Whenever anyone I know goes on a trip, I’ll always ask them to bring me a keychain,” he said, “It’s kinda weird—but yeah, that’s what I do.” While biology was not his favorite subject in high school and college, Mr. Ogden is nonetheless excited for the opportunity to be an instructional assistant in the biology classes this year. He will be helping students with labs, their work, and helping them to make sense of anything they need to know or don’t understand about a topic. With his confidence in public speaking, Mr. Ogden has little difficulty explaining instructions and helping students comprehend them. He is very enthusiastic and hopes to put his best foot forward in his new position.
Mrs. Deborah Hickey helps out SL aide team by Gianna Cusumano
The start of the school year has provided new beginnings for not only Southern Lehigh students, but staff members, too. Among the new staff is instructional assistant Mrs. Deborah Hickey who mainly works to provide one-on-one academic assistance to a Southern Lehigh student. Mrs. Hickey is not new to the district. She worked last year at the middle school, and transferred to the high school to follow the student she aides. “I love working with kids and I seem to have a good patience for working with that, so I enjoy it.” The best part of being an instructional assistant is the joy it brings. “My favorite part of my job (is) getting to see all the kids, how the kids are improving, how they are growing,” Mrs. Hickey said. Prior to coming to work as a special education teacher, Mrs. Hickey worked in an assisted living facility with senior citizens. She had to learn how to act with patience no matter what situation was thrown at her, and she thinks it prepared her well for taking this job. “I’ve learned how to deal with issues, how to remain calm, and not let things get to you too well,” she said. Mrs. Hickey has worked in the district for a long time and has a special connection to the district, as her grandchildren have attended Southern Lehigh. She appreciates the Mrs. Hickey is thrilled to join the high school and cannot wait to see students grow and learn. Photo credit: Gianna Cusumano
atmosphere at the high school, and thinks what makes it different from the previous schools she’s worked at is the interesting ways it actively prepares students for life after graduation. “I think the kids have a lot more freedom, and I think they are learning to hopefully learn how to use that properly when they get into the real world” Mrs. Hickey says. When Mrs. Hickey is not working, you will most likely find her outdoors. She enjoys being in nature, going camping and to the beach, and taking fishing trips with her husband. Mrs. Hickey also has two pets at home that occupy her time. She has a service dog that assists her husband and a rescue cat named Molly, who she describes as “a big white, fluffy ball.” Her other interests include watching NASCAR and the Philadelphia Eagles. When it comes to pop-culture, Mrs. Hickey loves murder mystery novels written by James Patterson. If she could watch only one movie for the rest of her life, Mrs. Hickey says it would be “Grease.” “That was my eldest daughter’s favorite movie of all time and I’ve watched it many, many times,” she said. “That’s my favorite of all time.”
Odds and Ends
Spartans Show School Spirit for Homecoming
Pajama Day is a favorite spirit day among the student body. Photo Credit: Sam Bull
Madame Byers and her students found unity in their mix of country club and country attire. Photo Credit: Spotlight Staff
Brothers Cole and AJ Lorio are ready to hit the club...the country club. Photo Credit: Spotlight Staff
Alexis Hoyer and Ella Smith were among many students who embraced spirit week themes. Photo Credit: Spotlight Staff
Robert Morgan put the club ahead of the country for his spirit day look. Photo Credit: Spotlight Staff
Senior Jack Kimmel went all country with his school spirit. Photo Credit: Spotlight Staff
Students rocked Decades Day during Spirit Week. Photo Credit:Spotlight Staff.
Yearbook students went above and beyond to accessorize their Pajama Day looks. Photo Credit: Yearbook Staff