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Aces Basketball Tip-off

The Party: Busted

Aces begin the 2009-2010 season

Jake Wellens’ view on the party establishment

The Merionite December 18, 2009 Volume 81, Issue 3

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

Parking wars: the battle at LM Rachel Cohen

Class of 2010

Although there appears to be no immediate solution to the student parking predicament, school administrators and local officials are hopeful for the future of parking spot availability. As it stands right now, no students may park at school. This has not hindered stu-

dents from resorting to parking spots at neighboring houses, Suburban Square, Main Line Reform Temple and two hour parking. “A lot of my friends pay neighbors a certain amount a month, $10 or more, to park in neighbors’ driveways,” said junior Viviana Pernot. For those with no such neighboring connections, two hour parking, kids will argue, seems like the only logical option

for their needs since no spots are available to park in for the duration of the school day. “The problem is, two hour parking is going off campus and Lower Merion is a closed campus. Of course we know kids are doing this ‘street swapping.’ But we must forbid it for liability reasons,” said Assistant Principal Scott Kilpatrick. “If Johnny and Susie get hit crossing the street because they went to move their cars,

not only are Johnny and Susie’s parents going to be asking us why the school allowed them to be out alone in the middle of the school day, but the District could get sued for huge amounts of money.”

Law Enforcement? The “closed campus” has not prevented students from moving their cars during

See Parking, page 2

The new trend on F@c3b00k Leah Sutton

Class of 2010

A recent article in The Virginian Pilot cites a Kaplan Test Prep survey which states that a large majority—in fact, 70%—of college applicants attempt to “friend” admissions officers on Facebook. The survey also says that only 13% of schools have actual written policies about interacting with students online. On social networking sites, where are the boundaries? At what point do schools need to draw the lines of privacy? While many students try to use these sites for their intended purpose of “networking,” others are hiding in the depths of cyberspace, changing their names and netPhoto by Noah Zuares/Staff works to avoid being caught with Parking Attendant Billy Jeter serves as one of the many precautions that the administration has taken to monitors the parking situation. unsavory pictures and wall posts. At high schools around the country, this trend of name-changing has spread like wildfire, all in the Japanese may assume a yond a basic level. By extending the course to four years, we name of college admissions. But M. Afilalo/Z. Schlosberg Class of 2012 larger role in LM’s language also may be able to offer students the chance to sit for the AP lemming-like conformity breeds department in the future; a exam,” said Maguire. “Most [schools] offer three or four ‘mod- suspicion. What do they have to proposition has been made to extend the program for all four years ern’ languages in addition to Latin. We offer only two full pro- hide? What do they have to hide? of high school at LM and Harriton. Japanese teacher Mariko LaF- grams plus Latin and our current abbreviated class in Japanese.” Senior Ben Sataloff explains that leur introduced the idea because she wanted to offer the oppor“Students will now have the opportunity to study a non-Eu- he changed his name to keep up with tunity for students to study Japanese for more than two years. ropean language and culture to get to understand and communi- his friends, or as he bluntly puts it, “I realized that they get so [good at] Japanese, writ- cate with an entirely different part of the world,” added Kirchner. ing, reading and speaking and it’s just a shame that they can“If you look around at other high schools in this area, See Facebook, page 10 not go for four years,” explained LaFleur. “And, Span- many schools offer more than four, or some schools ofish and others, French and Latin, they all offer four fer more than five [languages], and Lower Merion is not reyears, and… we need to think about, why not Japanese?” ally offering many options for its students,” said LaFleur. Under the current system students who take JapIf Japanese does become a four-year language, students will anese for two years in high school currently still have an easier time taking the same language for the duration have to start at an introductory level in college. of high school, a concept stressed in LM. This idea of continu“The fact is that even though [the students] study ity in language is encouraged by the US State Department’s Nafor two years, they still have to take Japanese 1 when tional Security Language Initiative (NSLI), which wants students they go to college. It’s kind of wasting,” said LaFleur. to become fluent in a language and therefore, become worldlier. LaFleur has been working with Humanities Supervisor Jack “It is extremely important that whatever language a student beMaguire and Language Department Chair Maryeileen Kirch- gins, the student should continue with that same language throughner to move the proposition forward. Kirchner prepared the pro- out the four year sequence. Due to the NSLI, colleges want to posal this past summer, and she and Maguire proposed it to see that a student is proficient in at least one language instead of the Board in October. Although the idea has not yet received limited proficiency in different languages,” explained Kirchner. Board approval, many believe the change would be beneficial. The possibility of further increasing language options in “Language research supports extended study and two years the District by adding Mandarin Chinese has come up. Howsimply isn’t enough for students to achieve at anything beSee Japanese, page 3 Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff

Possible alterations in Japanese courses


December 18, 2009


The Merionite

No end to parking problems for students at LM From PARKING ISSUES, page 1

school hours. And despite the administration’s threats of losing campus privileges, getting towed, and getting seriously reprimanded, some students are not deterred from parking in the teacher lot. In fact, many kids complain that they see dozens of empty spaces open every day. Some students question if cars actually get towed for parking in the lot. The answer to that lies in the commitment of Dennis Violetti, LM parking lot attendant. As many as six times per day he surveys the entire lot, checking license plate numbers and looking for the approved parking lot stickers on the back of the vehicles. The first violation results in placing those notoriously bright orange stickers on the backs of cars, and the second violation ends with Main Line Hooker Service, the company the district uses to tow cars, removing the vehicle and a fine of $200 on the car’s owner. Violetti reported that this year alone the school has towed six illegally parked cars in the teacher parking lot; three of the six were current students’. “Around Halloween I had my car towed from the lot. Although the administration was helpful in getting my car back, it was a huge waste of time and money, seeing how my car wasn’t causing any problems being parked there,” said senior Elizabeth Moosburner. “I think that there should still be the opportunity for students with a lot of school activities to have a raffle to park in those empty spaces while also leaving a few for visitors…it doesn’t seem that difficult to do,” said senior Courtney Cines. “The problem is, for example, today there are only 11 spots open in the whole lot. Different days of school construction take different number of workers,” explained Violetti. “When the plumbers, electricians, painters and carpenters come there will be a lot more spots necessary than when just the foundation builders are working. It changes every day, so if we allowed thirty kids to have spots in the lot—there just wouldn’t be enough.” According to James Lill, Project Manager for the new high schools, there are currently 437 spots in the school lot and 193 for construction workers.

Why didn’t we have this problem before?

Many ask why we aren’t given student parking permits. Didn’t we used to have them? The answer is yes; for three years there were 40 spaces allotted to students, given on a needs-basis.

Student Government faculty sponsor Lynn Freeland, who was actively involved in the process that granted students township parking permits explained, “Kids had to apply for the spots. For example, if you said you had a job, you were required to write down the job, the employer and the employer’s phone number on your application. If you requested a spot for family issues, they would be investigated for legitimacy. Then of course there were other cases. For instance there was one girl who was a figure skater who needed a spot because she had to drive to Delaware at lunch every day to advance her future career.” According to Freeland, the student government officers worked tirelessly for months to set up the permit-parking program for those students. “They had countless meetings with neighbors, sent out flyers and mailings, and even made appearances on Channel 6 to appeal to the community,” said Freeland. “In the end, the neighbors agreed to the students’ request because they decided it was better to know who was parking on their streets than to have random, unknown drivers stationed in front of their houses.” The spaces were scattered around the neighborhood and each student was given a non-transferrable sticker to place on their car. Kids were not allowed to lend their sticker to a friend even if they did not need it that day. The Lower Merion Police Department distributed the stickers to each permit recipient, who had to be able to present a license and insurance card.

Sacrificing spots for neighborhood peace? “Former Principal Piperato worked with Township Commissioner Cheryl Gelber to arrange the parking permit program,” said Lill. “When Mr. Hughes approached the Commissioner, she did not want to continue the program and impose on the community because they already were burdened enough by school construction.” Commissioner Cheryl Gelber confirmed her worries for the surrounded community. “Over time kids lost commitment. Neighbors were tired of their neighborhoods trashed by the students kids would go out to lunch and leave their trash in the streets. I just hate the thought of putting any more pressure on these neighbors because they are dealing with noise, dust and storm runoff. They are living in a difficult situation. They are given no choice.” Gelber does feel that things will be entirely different when the new schools open up.

“There won’t be this half-enforced closed campus issue anymore,” said Gelber. In the new school, after 8:00 a. m. the doors will be automatically locked and the only way to regain access will be to buzz yourself in through the main entrance. If students need to leave the building during the day they will have to get a pass, and show that pass in order to be buzzed in again.” Student parking is guaranteed when the new schools open up. According to Lill, the student parking lot will most likely be ready by September 2011. There will be an estimated 90 parking spots. At Harriton’s new school there are 300 spaces. The exact number of spots LM will have depends on the outcome of the redistricting. The District, currently involved in litigation, hopes to park up to 20 buses at the Croyle Site, located in Belmont Hills. Neighbors have responded negatively to the idea, and if the District loses the case, some of the buses will have to be parked at the new LM High School. Commissioner Gelber confirmed, “For every bus they have to bring back to Lower Merion, we lose three student parking spots. So if five buses have to come back, there will be 75 student spots available instead of 90. It’s a difficult problem and I’m fighting like hell for them.”

The burden of extracurricular activities

Despite the change in transportation methods, there seems to be no change in extra-curricular scheduling to accommodate this. Clubs like Yearbook, National Honor Society, SADD and various sports teams have all had mandatory meetings/ practices beginning at 7 a.m. or earlier. Players and The Merionite often hold meetings well past 6 p.m. This means that unless someone lives in close walking distance of the school, the burden for most part falls on the parents to transport their child. “Perhaps we have to rethink making these meetings mandatory if it’s becoming too hard on parents to get to school,” said Principal Sean Hughes. “I think the school may have to look at either an earlier bus or a second late bus or maybe they have to talk to the athletic coaches and club advisors and say, ‘You know we know you want to have a longer practice but these kids have to take the bus,’” said Gelber. The current system is set to stay as it is until the opening of the new schools. As Gelber assures, “We’re confident the current problems will lessen considerably when the construction ends.”

LM collects big at blood drive H. Goldberg-Morse/G. Nathans

Class of ’10/’12 Senior Dan Szallasi was ready to give blood. “I was actually a volunteer at the drive,” he said of his decision, “and with the opportunity in front of me, I figured; ‘why not?’.” “Confident that the people there knew what they were doing,” he waited patiently in a chair in Down’s Gym for his turn to give blood for the first time along with several other first time donors and veterans. LM’s semi-annual blood drive, held on November 17, collected blood from 157 donors. The drive was organized by the American Red Cross and Sandy Hoopes, a gym and health teacher at LM. This year, Ms. Hoopes’ 27th working on the blood drive, had the second-largest donor turnout in school history (the largest turnout was last year, with 182 donors). Before giving blood, potential donors must answer a series of questions involving health history, travel, and preexisting medical conditions. At that time, a small amount of blood is drawn from the finger to test for diseases and iron levels. This pre-screening helps to ensure that giving blood is safe for those involved, and that the blood given is not contaminated. Said senior Kelly Dougherty, a veteran donor, of her experience last year, “I signed up for a time in the morning, showed up, and began the lengthy process of pre-blood giving. I was nervous. I had had blood drawn maybe once before, and everything looked so serious. I thought having gone to Norway every summer for a month or two might disqualify me, but they said I was fine. I passed the iron test on my first try and answered the slightly probing questionnaire. Then I made my way to the massage table beds.” After passing the pre-screening, donors are led to their

individual stations, where they wait for the nurses who will take their blood-- although 55 students volunteered for the blood drive, none are involved in the medical procedures or screenings. Once the bag and sterilized needle are set up and the blood begins to flow, it takes just a few minutes to collect the pint of blood, on average, that each person gives. Said Dougherty of the blood-giving process, “I think temporary discomfort is worth helping three other people… I mean come on, it’s a good bit of blood. But they wouldn’t take it from me if they didn’t think I could handle it-- as in, if I were to fail the requirements.” Once the blood has been collected, the donors can relax at their places while a small bandage is placed on their arms. After donating, students are encouraged to relax on the mats assembled in the gymnasium and eat and drink some of the snacks and beverages provided for them. “A Bloodmobile volunteer helped me over to the mats where they gave me food and drink,” said Dougherty. Both Dougherty and Szallasi were happy with their decisions to donate blood this year. As Dougherty explained, “It’s an easy way to help others. Blood is something that I, as a healthy human being, am perfectly capable of producing. If giving some is going to help another human being and not harm or inconvenience me in any serious way, then I see almost no excuse for not giving.” Szallasi said, “It felt good to make a difference.” And they certainly did. Donating just one pint of blood, the average amount, can save up to three lives. Szallasi reinforced the importance of donating blood. “It says it right on the poster; you’re helping to save someone’s life. I’ve heard people refuse to give blood, claiming that their donation won’t help. I have seen time and time again (in my position as an EMT) where having that blood waiting for someone after a serious accident has made the difference between life and death.”

Photo by H. Goldberg-Morse/Staff

Senior Kelly Dougherty prepares to have blood drawn at LM’s recent blood drive, where 157 people donated.

Photo by H. Goldberg-Morse/Staff

The blood drive had the second-largest turnout in school history.


December 18, 2009

The Merionite NEWS Charity in the Keystone exams draw ire and support form of bricks Matt Rublin Class of 2011

strengths or where their weaknesses are in specific areas within reading and math,” said Barbato. “The Keystone Exams are basically going against the history that we’ve had with the PSSAs.” However, Harris argued that the Keystone exams, which will supplement the 11th grade PSSAs, would be better indicators of student achievement. “We thought that the PSSAs, although good, are a general look at achievement, not a specific glimpse at how well a student understands the course,” said Harris. David W. Patti, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council, believed the PSSAs could not provide any accurate sense of a student’s learning. “The scary thing is that we really don’t know how they’re doing. Given what they’re handing in and what’s being scored, only 55% of the students are scoring at a proficient level right now in 11th grade. Maybe 45% are goofing off…I don’t know,” said Patti. “Yet almost 99% of the same students are getting their high school diploma a year later.” In the spring of 2009, the PBC’s Policy Roundtable conducted a poll of over 400 businesspersons from all different backgrounds and levels of business on the skills of high school graduates. 80% of those polled supported “new guidelines that would require high school students to… prove they are proficient in basic skills by passing a series of common exams to graduate.” “When non-college high school graduates come to us, we don’t feel that a lot of them have the math skills, the reading and the writing skills… necessary for success. And so they have a diploma, but we can’t count on that as meaning much,” said Patti. To calm fears that the Keystones would be “pass/fail,” Harris mentioned that for a student who failed a specific portion of a certain test (e.g. graphing in algebra), the student would be able to do a project to show that he/she “understands the subject material.” When asked about whether the District considered the project option in deciding a course of action, Barbato said the district has received little, if any, information from the state. “The PDE hasn’t really clarified how the process would go about. Who would approve the project? This whole process needs to be outlined for us,” said Barbato. Barbato disagreed with some of the PDE’s actions. With all 501 school districts forced to administer graduation exams of some kind, Barbato questioned whether such wide implementation was necessary. “They’re brushing all the 501 school districts in PA as the same. Why are we being placed in the same place? There are students in our school district who do struggle but we already have an assessment system in place,” said Barbato. While the District opposes the Keystone exams, it is unsure of whether to provide their own assessments that would replace the Keystones, said Barbato, noting the high cost and the fact that the PDE “[doesn’t] have anything in place to go through the process of validating a local assessment.” All those interviewed said public education needs reform. Yet, some believe that these tests will not cure the problems that plague learning. Loraine Carter of Concerned Black Parents, an organization that advocates on behalf of minority students in Lower Merion said, “We haven’t gotten public education right, and the Keystone exams are no indication that the government will get it right with this new legislation either.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has passed a proposal to make sweeping reforms to state graduation requirements, drawing widespread reactions from school district administrators, union leaders, and community members in Lower Merion and across the state. The most controversial, and perhaps most talked about, section of these new graduation requirements regards the Keystone exams. The Keystone exams, approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission on October 22, would require students to pass six standardized tests before receiving a diploma. The Keystone exams would replace the final exams in specific courses of four different subject areas: English, math, science, and social studies. Students can either take a Keystone exam, a local assessment from the district (if available), or an Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate exam to compete that course. The tests will account for Photo by Serenity Lopez/Staff at least 1/3 of a student’s final grade. Ian Cohn The tests will be rolled out in stages, as Class of 2012 tests in Algebra I, biology, and English literaAs a charitable organization, the Education ture are planned to be available for incoming Foundation of Lower Merion (EFLM), is always freshmen next school year. All ten Keystone Exams will be implemented by the 2014-2015 looking for ways to raise money for LMSD. The EFLM, formed in 2006, provides funding school year. The movement for state graduation exams for various school activities and raises money for can be traced back to 2005, when a commission was formed to study the school District. career and college readiness in PA, explained Leah Harris, deputy press “The foundation is an incredibly valuable secretary for the PA Department of Education. partner that has helped launch a number of im“One of the suggestions they came up with was a uniform graduation portant extracurricular programs. In addition policy. From that, the state board of education looked into the subject to generating funds, the foundation helps build and realized ‘Yes, we need to give the Pennsylvania diploma weight,’” awareness for district programs and serves as said Harris. a bridge to the large community,” said Doug This brought about the Graduation Competency Assessments Young, Director of School & Community Relaproposal in 2008, tests that were “high stakes--if you didn’t pass, you tions for the District. wouldn’t get your high school diploma,” said Jerry Oleksiak, treasurer The need for a charitable organization for LM of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the largest labor orbecame apparent after Act 1, a tax legislation deganization in Pennsylvania, representing more than 191,000 teachers signed to limit the amount Pennsylvania school and support staff. district’s budgets can increase each year. This inEventually, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association comprohibited the amount of resources that Lower Memised with the PDE to create the Keystone Exams 1.0, a proposal with rion School District can offer. The EFLM raises tests that a coalition of education agencies “w[as] not thrilled with,” money through projects designed to accept doaccording to Oleksiak. nations from Lower Merion residents. “The problem was that these exams were coming in one way or EFLM uses fundraisers such as the Legacy another. There was no way to stop them legislatively,” Oleksiak said. Walkway at LM to raise money for future grants. The coalition of education agencies came up in April 2009 with Designed to raise money for the school district, Keystone Exams 2.0. This proposal called for exams worth no more the Legacy Walk allows people to purchase than 20 percent of the student’s final grade, combined with a local asmessages on bricks in a sidewalk leading to the sessment option. entrance of the new LM high school. The mesWhile the final proposal passed in October may not have carried sages can be used to commemorate a graduate, a everything the coalition wanted, “there was enough in there to fix the student or a teacher. mess that it was initially to withdraw our opposition,” Oleksiak said. “We hope that all kinds of people who are asLower Merion School District, however, opposes these tests. The sociated in some way with the two high schools School Board objects because “the current data we have available from in particular, or with the Lower Merion School the PSSAs…are sufficient and actually excellent in identifying which District in general, would be interested in purstudents are struggling in the areas of reading and math,” said District chasing bricks,” said Richard Wells, the PresiDirector of Curriculum Steve Barbato. dent of the EFLM. “The bricks are a great way to “We’ve had that data running for the past five years and we have honor a student or faculty member, or to express finally have gone to a point that where we have a historical record on thanks to the schools.” students that we can do comparative data and find out where their The profits made from the sale of the bricks will be donated to the school district through the EFLM. The EFLM uses their earnings to fund activities that take place in the school disFrom JAPANESE, page 1 trict. Some allocations of EFLM funds included the ninth grade Humanities project materials, SMART Boards, and various auxiliary textbooks. “The EFLM will be using the proceeds from the legacy bricks to continue to our grant program,” said Debbie Sokil, a member of the Board of Directors at the EFLM. “I believe at this point the foundation has given out $80,000 in grants, including $40,000 to help outfit the new TV studios in the new high schools.” Many projects in the past have been funded by donations from the EFLM. These projects would likely not be possible without the help of the organization. “Recent grants at LMHS, for example, have funded the Wii Friendship Club begun by Heather Van Horn [a Special-Ed teacher], equipment for the Ninth Grade Global Humanities ColPhoto by Leah Rosenbloom/Staff laboration spearheaded by Enlgish teacher Trish The school’s only Japanese teacher, Sensei LaFleur, has a difSchuller, several grants for Maestro the Lion, ficult time finding any disadvantages to the proposed change. as well as about $20,000 in video production She fully advocates offering a more extensive Japanese lanequipment for the LMHS television studio,” said guage program at LM. EFLM coordinator Sherry Wert.

“Only 55% of the students are scoring at a proficient level right now in 11th grade” - David W. Patti

LMSD considers altering current language instruction However, it seems unlikely that this prospect will amount to anything in the near future. “Over the last three or four years, we have done a lot of study into the possibility of offering Mandarin but there are real problems there. It is very difficult to find certified teachers,” explained Maguire. Most American colleges do not do an adequate job of preparing people for the position, and Chinese natives often have a difficult time adjusting to life in the United States and end up returning home. With the possible increase in sizes of Japanese classes, some worry that there will not be enough teachers to fill the demand. “There will most likely be a need for additional staff down the road but not for the coming year or two,” said Kirchner. A Japanese student, junior Jeremy Eckstein, is enjoying Japanese after only one quarter, and has a hard time finding any bad aspect about the change. “I don’t see how the change could possibly be bad. Why shouldn’t students who are interested in Japanese be able to learn the language for four years as opposed to just two?” said Eckstein.


December 18, 2009

The Merionite Administration building faces extensive renovation Gilad Doron

Class of 2012

The Lower Merion School District Board of Directors has decided to renovate the historic Administration building during the spring and summer of 2010. The Lower Merion Administration is classified as a Class I Historic Structure. There are no other significant buildings in the School District with the same distinction. Because it is classified as a historical landmark, the school Board has ruled not to demolish the Administration Building. Both the A building and the current administration office will be converted into a new and improved administration office. The Downs Gym will remain a part of Lower Merion High School. According to Pat Guinnane, the Director of Operations for LMSD, there have never been any substantial renovations made to the building. In order to accommodate the change, the Administration building must be modified. The Board of Directors for LMSD has decided that the overall budget for the renovations cannot exceed $66,600, and therefore chose certain elements to refurbish. The administration building will be heated and cooled by a central

plant in the new high school. Construction workers will modify sidewalks, repair storm and sewer lines, and rework the electric infrastructure. The Downs gym floor and locker room will be redone as well. Workers will work on the external masonry and renovate windows. “The windows on the two story section of the building facing Montgomery Ave. will be removed, shipped off site, re-furbished, and re-installed,” said Guinnane. Most of the renovations will be made Photo by Jenny Ma/Staff to meet ADA (American Disabilities Act) requirements, along with renovations to The Administration building has been an icon for over ninety yeears assure safety. Sprinklers and a new fire system will be installed throughout the building. During the refurbishing process materials will in the Administration Building. “I’m pretty used to construcbe purified of asbestos, a natural mineral known to cause tion at this point, so it should be business as usual.” lung cancer. Work on the Administration Building will most likely “The plan is for most of us to move out of our current start in the spring or summer of 2010. offices for some amount of time,“ said Douglas Young, the “The most intrusive work will not start until after the Director of School & Community Relations, whose office is high school has moved out,” said Guinnane.

Experts evaluate LMSD guidance programs Itai Doron

Class of 2011 On October 25, two separate groups of auditors evaluated the effectiveness of the several guidance programs and counselors throughout the district, the details of which will be publicized by the end of the month. Every five years, the State requires an audit of our district’s gifted and special programs, which prompted an audit of the District’s guidance programs this year as well. On October 25 and 26 ten adults swooped into the halls of the District’s schools to evaluate the effectiveness of guidance programs and counselors. The audit was not required by the State, but the Superintendent, along with with the parents and the head of the guidance department Bruce Barner, supported the evaluation. The District received a full evaluation commenting on the strengths and weaknesses of the guidance programs with recommendations for improvement. The counselors prepared for this interview by reviewing and refreshing their knowledge of guidance methods. Even without final results from the audit, eminent changes are occurring throughout the guidance departments. The District is trying are improve the connection between the high schools’ guidance departments through common approaches such as Naviance, a college information Web site. Some changes may also appear in the advisory program, which was thoroughly reviewed during the audit. Two separate groups conducted this audit --one group of six experts from across the country and one of four local parents. Dr. Bill Yarwood led the professional group. “[Guidance counselors] were becoming


more focused and aware,” said Barner. “They even developed a list of ideas to improve their work.” The team of six experts were divided and sent to different schools in the District where they spent two days interviewing students, parents, teachers, principals and administrators. The Inter School Council (ISC) devised their own schedule for surveying and interviewing members of the District. The four parents in the committee also split up and interviewed about 100 students, parents, and faculty. Although they are not contracted, the ISC is writing a 52-page report that will complement the professional team’s review. A full understanding and implementation of changes may take up to three years to complete. The District hopes that the new developments in the program will strengthen the students’ connection with their guidance counselor and make the transition between different schools easier.

LM student government ponders ways to use funds Jenny Ma

Class of 2010 In prior years, Winterfest provided a period of doughnuts, socializing, relaxation, and a break from classes. However, the administration has taken the problems associated with Winterfest into consideration and decided to take an alternative route with the available student government fund. Winterfest has not happened since 2007, but ideas branching from that will be taken considered and as of now, Student Government is still in the process of deciding what to do. “We went to Mr. Hughes and we said ‘Mr. Hughes we want to have Winterfest, we want to use the student government’s money. We have $3,200 for the year and we were given $2,000 by the district and we raised about $1,200 from the other stuff such as Dawg Pound shirts,’” said the Student Government Treasurer, senior Jonah Mann. The main reason for these changes, according to Principal Sean Hughes, is the problem of having a congregation of people in one area of the school, the high number of students skipping classes, and the amount of fights breaking out. The custodians have to put up with the hassle of cleaning up, a large reason why the tradition was discontinued two years ago. Last year, instead of a Winterfest, doughnuts were provided before the first period of school. At a recent student government meeting, this same idea was proposed for this year; the day before winter Photo by Hana Rouse/Staff break, students will grab a doughnut in the morning before going to class. Paul Petrillo took part in the review.

According to Student Government President, senior JJ Hoffstein, “When this issue was discussed at the most recent Student Government meeting, it was the position of the majority of members that indeed $600 should not be spent on doughnuts this year.” However, Jonah Mann said, “Almost everybody I’ve talked to is in favor of getting doughnuts. [The money for doughnuts is from the] general student government fund; about 2/3 is from the district, 1/3 from the money we raised, but only $600 will be spent on doughnuts.” Though most of the student government representatives at the meeting, upon a show of hands, said that they were against the idea, Secretary Laura Sokil explained, “Not everyone was at the meeting, and it wasn’t an accurate vote.” The conflicts in interest have led to a compromise and, as Sokil said, “Now we’re questioning where we should spend the money and people have proposed better ways of spending it.” The first proposal was to donate to charity, but that idea was quickly rejected since money allotted to the Student Government by the district is not allowed to be directly donated to charity. Another proposal was to install a “train” in the cafeteria that would have student activities attached to the train via a banner. The remaining money can be spent on doughnuts or future proposals. No matter the final decision, Student Government will “spend the money in such a way that it contributes to school spirit,” affirmed Hoffstein.

December 18, 2009


The Merionite EDITORIAL


Conformity in the classroom

As the two decrepit district high schools continue to be taken apart piece by piece, Harriton and LM proceed on the quest toward educative equality. Not only will the schools be physically similar with identical black box theaters and High School Musical-esque cafeterias, but the academic offerings (including electives) and size of the student body will also be equalized. The conflict over creating two equal high schools was, and still is, palpable in the LM community, both inside and outside our school’s walls. As this conflict simmers to a close, however, and as Harriton students inhabit their new building, we are beginning to feel the pressure of “sameness” within our hallowed halls. It’s almost as if the fervor with which equity between Harriton and LM was pursued is permeating our classroom walls. One chapter is closed, and yet one is just beginning. One where our teachers are being pressured to have the same number of assessments in Powerschool per quarter, teach to a common midterm and final, and cover the same material with the same resources. It’s crucial to understand that while equality is important to ensure a minimum standard of education for each student, pressure on teachers inside the classroom quickly becomes detrimental. The beauty of humans teaching humans is that we are not all equal. We do not all handle education in a standard way, nor should we. Different teachers offer different philosophies on education, unique approaches to teaching, and certain idiosyncrasies that cannot be found anywhere else. The benefit is inherent in the variety. Just as genetic mutation benefits a species by allowing certain organisms to “test out” a new trait, a variety of teaching styles and approaches benefits the students. It becomes nearly impossible to experiment with creative teaching techniques and develop as a teacher while facing pressure from the administration, educational board and state to conform. Not to say that each of these various teaching techniques will benefit the students. It’s common knowledge that out of the five or so teachers we are assigned each year at LM, one might stand out as exceptional, while one may be lacking. However, instead of striving to bring this mediocre teacher up to a higher standard, the more experienced and talented teachers are inevitably held back by what the other teachers are unable to achieve. Difference in style is misconstrued as inadequacy rather than brilliance. It seems as if to ensure this so-called “equality” between classrooms, we must first eradicate and oppress all that is special about a unique, seasoned teacher. But haven’t we learned? Separate and equal just don’t coincide peacefully. For some reason, however, LM insists on pursuing this unreasonable, unhealthy goal. The time has come to stand up (for something other than the pledge) and critically examine the conformity being pressed upon us and upon our teachers. Why should we allow our outstanding teachers to be held back by confining assessment requirements? Why should we be complacent as the quality of our education becomes thoroughly mediocre? Why can’t we value variety? We understand that standardization has become the national buzzword, and we admit it has some merit. But the constricting grasp of conformity is beginning to suffocate our teachers and our education, and the LM community must work together to loosen its grip. Unsigned editorial on this page reflect the general opinion of student editors, not the views of individuals.

The Merionite Published since 1929

Editors-in-Chief Managing Editor News Editors

Op-Ed Editors Features Editors

Arts & Entertainment Editors

Sivahn Barsade, ’10 Hana Rouse, ’10 Hannah Weilbacher, ’10 Hannah Goldberg-Morse, ’10 Jenny Ma, ’10 Matt Rublin, ’11 Isaac Lindy, ’10 Leah Rosenbloom, ’11 Rachel Cohen, ’10 Bina Peltz, ’10 Emily Sorensen, ’10 Han Tran, ’11 Jake Wellens, ’11

Sports Editors

Emily Eisner, ’10 Conor Ferguson, ’11 Xinran Wang, ’10

Layout/Web Editor

Noah Zuares, ’10

Blog Editor

Becca Hafter, ’10

Business Manager

Ben Forer, ’10

Photo Editors

Madeline Berger, ’11 Ann Zheng, ’12

Copy Editors

Avi Chatterjee, ’11 Connie Hua, ’10

Advisor Business Advisor

Mr. Chad Henneberry Mr. Sean Flynn

The editors believe all facts presented in the newspaper to be accurate. The paper acknowledges that mistakes are possible and welcomes questions as to accuracy. Inquiries regarding accuracy should be directed to the editors of the paper. Editors can be contacted via e-mail at or in Room 116. To represent all viewpoints in the school community, The Merionite welcomes all letters to the editor. Letters can be sent via e-mail or dropped off outside the Merionite office. The Merionite reserves the right to edit letters to the editor for length or clarity.

Letters to the Editor Welcome to the new Merionite blogosphere

Hello LM community, The world of news and media is changing. Newspapers and magazines are folding, and even The New York Times is struggling to stay afloat. In this age of falling news giants, a new medium for journalism has emerged: the Internet. Blogs have flooded the media scene, and while Microsoft Word might not recognize “blog” as a word, I promise they’re popular and successful. At LM, though we claim to be hip to the technology scene (holler 1:1 laptops) the community has not fully adopted a veritable Internet news source, in addition to the paper one, for high school and high school-related happenings. The Merionite Blog is a proposal to bring LM into the 21st century of media and publications, and to help gather the high school community more tightly around functions, causes, and events that create the rhythm of the school. The Merionite in paper form, though a beloved tradition and fantastic news source, is only published monthly or bi-monthly, while the Merionite Blog will be constantly updated with new information and ideas directly as they occur. Hopefully, the Blog will become a place for everyone to: -Check the scores of all sports teams -Read summaries of all sports games -See a calendar for club hosted school wide events -See fellow students’ art work -Read fellow students’ opinions on everything from music, to fashion, to food -Post responses to those students’ opinions -Find pictures from LM events -Find pictures of stylishly dressed LM teachers and students -Learn about new local high school-aged musicians -Watch short videos of LM life and events -Get to know certain LM bloggers a little better -Notice new ideas students have -Respond to printed Merionite content -Alert editors to points of interest via comments To make this all happen, we need you (yes, you) to write for the blog, read the blog, and use the blog. Keep your eyes and ears open for announcements concerning blog writers’ meetings - everyone is welcome to come. No prior blog experience is necessary. My team of blog experts and I will teach you everything you need to know. We’re totally ushering in a new age of news. Can’t wait to see you in writers’ meetings and on the Internet! Your favorite hepcat, Becca Hafter, ’10, Blog Editor


December 18, 2009

The Merionite

OPINIONS Should the public holiday spirit be secu lar?

Considering that I have never seen decorations for Bodhi Day (a Buddhist holiday celebrated on December 8) and have rarely seen decorations for Kwanzaa…it may be impossible to represent all denominations, so it is much safer but just to hang snowflakes!

-Julia May, ’10

It’s called the ‘Holiday Season’ for a reason. It’s important to recognize the reason why we are celebrating – religion. -Eli Newschaffer, ’12

No, because then people won’t see all of the difference that we “have in America, and that’s what America is all about.

- Krystal Shakes, ’11

It would be objectionable to replace all of the wreaths during our economic struggle for more secular decorations. I love decorations and the spirit of all of our holidays, but when they wear out it would be a good idea to replace them with snowflakes.

- Lynn Freeland, Challenge/English Teacher

- Leo Koorhan, ’12

“[Public decorating] should include all religions,

I don’t think people should display holidays, but snowflakes and wintery stuff are wonderfully wondrous, stupendously stupendous, magnificently marvellous, and just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious all around.

As long as it doesn’t offend anyone, I don’t mind decorations and paraphernalia of other religions. It’s the holidays! People should be happy!

not just Chistianity.

- Adam Beardsley, ’12

“ ”

- Riesling Meyer, ’12

Chistmas decorations... are l­ ess about religion and more about the holiday spirit. I’m Jewish but I’m not at all offended by the [public] decorations; I find them very pretty! - Mira Nathanson, ’13

Local community [governments] attempt to decide what is best and acceptable for the [whole] community and this is a good thing, but the reality is that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

- Dom Pavia, Health/PE Teacher

Art by Leah Rosenbloom/Staff

Free your time, free your mind Jess

Class of 2011

Recently, I have been transfixed by the amount of time we waste. I’ve had conversations with a lot of students


about how so much of what we learn in school is not only uninteresting to us but is overwhelmingly un-useful. So far, I’ve spent roughly 2,975 hours in high school. I would be hesitant to say that the majority of my high school experience has been productive; in fact, I think that a lot of the time I’ve spent in school and on homework could have been spent in much more productive ways. We spend 190 hours per year in science and 152 hours in each of our other core classes. While I understand that we take certain classes like chemistry or Western Civilization to obtain a basic understanding of the world around us, I feel that the detail we go into does not facilitate a basic understanding and thus each class becomes unnecessary

for certain students. If a student felt that chemistry (for example) was boring and that he would never use anything he was taught outside of class, wouldn’t his time be more useful if redirected towards a passion, an academic interest or a future occupation? Some people would defend the current system, claiming that it’s necessary for all students to take chemistry to find out if we have an interest in pursuing it further. But does it take 190 hours to discover that we are not interested in further study of a topic? Some people argue that 152 hours is, in perspective, a minimal percentage of our lives, but I argue that 152 hours is an immense amount of time to lose. How much further would we be able to develop our strengths if we spent some of the time we “waste” on practicing our passions? To me, 152 hours could mean reading a whole bunch of books that I always

wanted to read but for which I never found the time. It could mean perfecting all of my art homework or expanding my portfolio. Or it could mean catching up on all those old newspaper headlines that interested me but I never got to pursue. But 152 well-spent hours mean something d i ff e r e n t f o r e v e r y body, which exactly why the rigidity of the current school system is a flaw; 152 hours in each class for each student is not an effective use of time. Then why do I continue to apply myself in all of my classes? Why do I bother spending time and effort trying to succeed at work that I find trivial or useless? Plenty of kids blow off their work to demonstrate their scorn for the education system. As hypocritical as it may initially seem, I challenge them to rethink their rebellion. Dedication to all aspects of

A lot of the time I’ve spent in school and on homework could have been spent in much more productive ways

education has become mandatory in order to hold the authority to alter the system. Though it may be a flaw, society gives a lot more weight to the words of a scholar than to those of a student who slacks in their classes. People don’t ask about the reasons for poor grades. Wrong as it is, the general assumption is that dropouts who failed to demonstrate their intelligence through an exemplary report card are stupid, undedicated, or lazy. To gain respect and credibility, people must demonstrate that they have succumbed to the system and experienced it in the intended way. Only then can they prove that the system is lacking. Only then will others value their alterations. Unfortunately, reform is most effective afterwards; as the saying goes, one must beat the system to change the system. For now, we must raise our challenges and our questions and continue to gather information to evidence them until we are “qualified” to incite change. While slaving over irrelevant homework, we can let our minds wander and envision a day when students will escape the void of purpose that is currently inherent in the education system.

December 18, 2009


The Merionite


Class of 2010

With a new school year came a transformed library. In past years there were three separate printers, computers lined the entrance, and I


could actually talk at a regular volume. This year I find myself trying to focus only to encounter a packed library and a chatty line for the printer. Throughout my years at LM I have used the library for many things; a place to take a nap, study for tests, talk with friends, do homework, work on projects, and even for its intended purpose – borrowing books. I feel that the library is slipping out of the hands of the LM student body and slowly becoming obsolete. However, I write this article not to bash the administration or point out flaws of the LM library, but to pose ideas that could make this important space better for the whole community. By definition, a library is a building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and

recorded music for people to read, borrow, or refer to. The idea of a conventional library does not, however, fit our standards at LM. Today, students learn collaboratively, innovatively and with their District-issued laptops. This does not mean that the library is a forsaken place, but it does mean the staff and faculty of the whole school have to realize this evolution of purpose. There are some fundamental problems with our library that need to be fixed. You may wonder, “Why try and change the library when in a year’s time it will be demolished?” To tell you the truth, the fact that the school is being knocked down does not mean we have to neglect everyone and everything inside of it right now. No matter what happens, this is still our school, meant for us – the students. In my eyes, some of the major problems will not cost the school board or administration any money to fix, but simply some more effort. There are a grand total of four printers for our whole school. The library deals with the brunt of the

problems involving the printers; the lines are too long, too talkative, the printer is often broken, and one always encounters the question of “How do you print with this thing?” I suggest moving the printer out of the library for a temporary fix. But this would only mask the actual problem. One way to more permanently make the library an effective space is to change the layout. Make the front part an interactive and collaborative space that lets students hash out ideas and talk. This would also allow the classrooms in the front of the library to continue to function at their current volume without disrupting students “quietly” working in the library itself. Make the back part of the library strictly a silent work area. Furthermore, the library is currently misused for standardized testing, book fairs, district meetings and


conference calls. There are not typically many students who need to make-up or retake standardized tests, and they certainly do not need a whole library for this purpose. To help remedy this problem, the tests could be taken in an empty classroom, and the library could then be open for all students. Although the book fairs are thoroughly enthralling, it would benefit the students if the library could still be in use during these riveting affairs. The library is already spatially challenged, and bringing in this extra “stuff” is not helping its cause. District meetings could be held in the auditorium, or after school hours. The conference calls could be more efficient if they were held in a classroom or another smaller space. It’s obvious that both the students and faculty of LM want to see that the library is being used to benefit everyone. These notions aren’t supposed to be radical, but rather ideas that I am sure will help LM and make it easier for everyone to take full advantage of the resources of our library. I personally enjoy quality time spent in a productive library environment, and I’m sure more students would be eager to take advantage of a more welcoming work and study space. Talia Gottesman, ’10, contributed to this Opinion piece

A library of prob lems Art by Zach Ostrum/Staff

Snuggling up to LM’s inane blanket rules Wenwen


Class of 2011

Blanket Rules. No, this is not an article about the right ways to put on a Snuggie or the pros of having one. It’s about the many rules of the school that suffocate the

entire student body even though they only apply to a few students. Most of you have encountered these regulations, whether through gym class participation or lunch-eating forays in the auditorium lobby. It is not fair that every student has to follow the same rules or suffer the consequences of individual students’ actions. Gym class itself is a blanket rule. The state assumes that if they make gym class mandatory, then every student will be healthy. This is a complete fallacy. For one, students probably burn more calories and exert more effort walking up and down three flights of stairs every 55 minutes to get to class on time. On top of that, many students do after-school sports and activities that require an intensive physical regimen. But gym class requires some sort of extra physical exercise. If a student refuses to participate, then credit will not be awarded, which means damaging the student’s grade – and perhaps even his or her GPA. Many of the gym teachers, however, fail to take serious injuries into account. Having had bilateral stress fractures last year (yes, I was “the girl with the two boots

and crutches”), I know first-hand how hard it is to have to run laps around the gym while aware of the pain in my legs. Without physical proof of a medical condition, the gym teachers, as they must, assume that the pain is fake and ignore the student, which, in many cases, causes the student’s problem to worsen. The teachers’ history of dealing with lazy students who complain to get out of gym has taught them to be more cautious and skeptical of injuries. However, this blanket rule has made it harder for the students who are actually in pain to be able to sit on the sidelines during gym class and allow their injuries to heal. There is one easy and quite obvious solution to the gym problems: make gym optional for students already participating in sufficient daily physical activity. It’s not as if those students will suddenly face obesity if they stop apathetically throwing a ball around.

In case you were wondering... How to properly don a Snuggie 1) Raise the Snuggie over your head, and slide your right arm in first. 2) Then, put your left arm through. 3) Pop your collar. 4) Curl up on a couch or chair and take a nap - Snuggies are meant for comfort purposes only. Warning: Be careful not to trip on your Snuggie. That would just be sad.

Another example of a blanket rule that has been created (and ignored) as a result of the careless actions of a few, is the rule that food may not be eaten in the auditorium lobby. While it has almost become a tradition to instate this rule and then ignore it, it’s unjust that even for several weeks out of the year no students are allowed to eat in the auditorium lobby. As our former principal Mr. Seaman would say, “I am happy that 99.9 percent of students are cleaning up after themselves during lunch. However, there are still some of you who are forgetting to throw out your trash.” Take note of how the key word here is some, which hints that only some should be punished. After all, it was they who made the mistake. Why should the rest of us face the consequences of a crime in which we did not partake? There are many other well-known blanket rules at this school (e.g. you have to put up a $20 down payment for an elevator key before you can receive one, you cannot leave campus during your frees, etc.) They are forced upon everyone but should only apply to a few. Most blanket rules can easily be eliminated by simply acting reasonably. Just by following the very basic rules – throwing out our trash, sucking it up and participating in gym, etc. – we are setting ourselves up for a more free and lenient future, and protecting our resources and privileges. So, next time you consider stealing an elevator key for those frequent and inconsiderate joy rides up to the third floor, blatantly playing Pokémon in the middle of history, or leaving the packaging of your Snuggie on the auditorium lobby floor, think about the repercussions it will have on your fellow students. Think about the “girl with two boots and crutches.” Consider your peers. All we have to do is remember that a little obedience and restraint can go a long way to prevent our suffocation under such inane blanket rules.


December 18, 2009

The Merionite


Kicking the kegger Class of 2011

Ah, the party: the Royal Flush of Friday night affairs. Few of us are immune to its



appeal. We search tirelessly for parties, and upon their mention, all other plans become backup plans, only needed in case of police or parent intervention. Whatever it is that makes parties so appealing, the appeal is universal. Freshmen carefully dip their feet in the novelty of the party, while seniors have already perfected the art, fluidly operating the party and eliminating all but the inevitable resulting damages. It may seem radical, but I suggest that the party be removed from its seat at the throne of weekend plans. I do not find the party stimulating, enjoyable, or fresh. Furthermore, after a few years of careful observation, I have arrived at the conclusion that the majority – a “silent majority,” if you will – of students at LM do not enjoy parties nearly as much as one would think.

On weekend nights, people seek refuge from the stress and responsibility of school and work. I suppose most students would say that drinking at a party is an effective method of accomplishing this. While this sounds stress-free and therapeutic, in reality the ordeal of navigating the phases involved in a party is quite the opposite. Getting in and out of a party is a tricky endeavor. Countless carpools and sleepovers must be arranged and parents must be avoided. These processes are made no swifter by the presence of alcohol in the brain. I abstain from drinking, but I have seen countless incidents of drunken behavior becoming problematic. Friendships get ruined; infidelity runs rampant; possessions get lost and destroyed; physical violence often results. For whatever reason, getting a large group of people to agree on a time, place, and method of transportation is also difficult. The larger the group, the more tedious this task becomes. A friend of mine commented that 5:30-8:00 p.m. is designated “plan-making time.” Why must we require two and a half hours to plan fun? We should use this time we spend planning our relaxation to, well, relax. When the party finally begins, all partygoers must deal with the ADD-aspect inherent

in the affair. Parties are short: you usually don’t end up getting there until around 9 or 10 p.m., and if you don’t have your senior license, this means that all but one or two hours of your night have already passed. Parties are loud, crowded, and uncomfortable. There is not sufficient space, time, or privacy to carry on a subs t a n t i a l c o n v e rsation. There is a constant shift of people around you: people en tering, leaving, or just stumbling into you. If you look around at a party, you see a surprisingly small number of people who look like they are legitimately enjoying themselves. Looking especially distressed is the party-thrower. The host endlessly cleans up spilled drinks, sweeps up broken glass, and makes sure the noise level is below the level audible by the neighbors; they spend most of their time worrying. To me, this sounds worse than an in-class essay or a mid-

term exam--precisely the things a party is meant to erase from the minds of all attending. I admit: I was enticed by the prospect of the party when it was new to me. I didn’t realize I wasn’t having fun until I spent a few good nights with a few good friends, sitting in a restaurant or living room just talking about the things we found interesting. A party is like an ocean: an endless expanse of salt water, not a drop of which has any hydrating potential. A

Art by Liora Ostroff/Staff

hangout with your close friends is like a tall glass of cold spring water: brimming with solace. This is where I propose we begin to break the cycle: by setting aside this next weekend to stop texting frantically for plans, and to start enjoying the conversations we can have with our closest friends. Once this happens, I am hopeful that other plans – simpler plans – will muster the courage to stand up to the Friday night Goliath.

The sensitivity of censorship at LM Class of 2013

I arrive at school on a cold, brisk November morning and head to my first period study hall. Like most students



when faced with free time, I promptly open up my computer and start playing “Bubble Struggle.” To my utmost shock and horror I find out that “Rebubbled” has been blocked. After some simple investigative work, I find out that this website has been blocked along with hundreds of others during one of the Technology Department’s latest filtering rampages. Though the filtering of my favorite game was quite shocking, it was, in perspective, not the end of the world. Maybe using a study hall or two productively isn’t all that bad. But it isn’t

just games that have been blocked. Where do we draw the line? While some students are unaware, the school did put out an appropriate use guideline at the beginning of the school year; this allows them to censor things on our laptops and Internet. But the real issue is if they are appropriately and morally filtering content. In many aspects the filtering might be, but in many more it is completely wrong and unjustified. Currently, the level of censorship throughout the web on the school network is disturbing. I found out that certain search terms (phrases typed into a search engine), educational websites, and teacher resources have been blocked. These are perfect examples of how this rampant filtering can be detrimental to a student’s education. One of the more surprising blocked queries is “Nazi.” I find this to be extremely disturbing. To think that the Technology Department has the ability to censor an incredibly horrible yet critically important part of our history (not to mention the Western Civilization curriculum) is without a doubt completely wrong. What makes this filtering any different from the filtering of important parts Art by Liora Ostroff/Staff

of history by the Communist censors in China? LM is known for its outspoken student population. So how can we, the students, make a difference? After all, don’t we want our Rebubbled back? In a recent interview with a school administrator, I was told that the administration would be open to new ideas set forth by the students. If we students created a sort of committee to address this issue, our voices could finally be heard. Some of these ideas could include potential timeframes during which certain websites would be unblocked. Or perhaps a reward system that would be powered by a combination of good grades and teacher recommendations. There are many other possibilities that we must explore in order to alleviate this issue. Although getting rid of the unnecessary censorship might seem like a hassle, it is vital that we oppose the censorship and bring back that which is necessary to our education and growth as a whole.

Censored Words - Nazi (but not Hitler) - Marijuana (but not Heroin) - Penis (but not vagina) - Unblock (but not proxy) - Swallow (but not Titmouse) - Orgy (but not sex) - Ike (but not Eisenhower) - Ass (but not douchebag)

December 18, 2009


FEATURES Community based learning: school in the real world The Merionite

Lisa Li

Class of 2011

Photo courtesy of The Belmont Hills Fire Company

Educational Field Experience (EFE) and Professional Work Program (PWP) are two hidden gems in the LM curriculum that I have discovered. They were designed to help students become more familiar with work skills such as healthy work relationships, personal integrity, ethics, networking, interviewing,and understanding work environments. EFE and PWP, programs supervised by Ronnie Manlin, are part of a larger group of programs that fall under Community Based Learning. Other programs include community service, job shadowing and senior project. EFE offers an unpaid internship in the “real world” for course credit. Conversely, PWP is designed for students that want to use their jobs as a learning experience for academic credit. Both these courses meet for one period per four-day cycle for a seminar with Ms. Manlin. In class, I have the chance to reflect and discuss issues related to their chosen workplace. Ms. Manlin’s lesson plans focus heavily on “street smart” material. Students in these programs talk a lot in class because one of the course objectives is to figure

out and learn from experiences through discussion. The classes are in groups of two or sometimes one on one. There is very little homework and instead a

ter provides insight into a real me to receive school credit for Why should a student parworkplace. my service, while also providing ticipate in these two courses? Some other students who valuable and insightful lessons Well, they help students to better participate in EFE or PWP are about work through reflection,” understand themselves and the seniors David Hockey, Molly said Szallasi. world around them. ResearchEdler, Kelly Clark, I have learned that a work- ing and finding placements also Dan Szallasi and place is similar to a classroom gives students exposure to vital C o n o r F o o t e , setting, in that I have to relate job searching skills that unand junior Lenna to a boss like I would a teacher, doubtedly will be needed later in Blistein. and I must make contributions to life. On top of that, the programs Blistein partici- the environment around me. EFE help with college and career pates in PWP by and PWP differ from normal direction as well as establish working at the Bala classes in that there is no defined contacts for senior project. Cynwyd Library. syllabus; the class’s content Thomas Hine perhaps sums She has worked is derived from the students’ up the main idea of EFE and at the library for personal experiences. Seminars PWP best in his book, The Rise three years, operat- are driven by essential questions and Fall of the American Teening the circulation that focus the direction of the ager: “The job of young people desk by checking class. Students also learn about is not, as we sometimes assume, books in and out, workplace decorum, ethics, and simply to go to high school. It and inspectis to imaging each book ine and in the library begin to to see how construct well it’s holdtheir lives. ing together. They need “It is nice to underSzallsi at the Belmont Hills Fire House to get a credit stand both “hands on” approach. for something I’m already their interThe opportunities to which doing, and that only takes ests and students can channel their inter- up one set per cycle,” said abilities, ests are extremely diverse. For Blistein. and the example, this year I am interning A fellow student in the society with nutritionist and dietician EFE course is Szallasi, of which Courtney Shoepe because I am who is currently a volunthey are a interested in pursuing nutrition teer EMT at the Narberth part. And as a career. Shoepe works at the Ambulance and a volunteer they need Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff t o m a k e Aquatic and Fitness Center in firefighter at Belmont Hills Bala Cynwyd, where I shadow Fire Company. a self for Blistein sorting books at the Bala Cynwyd Library her and ask questions regarding “The Educational Field the times in health and fitness. Aside from Experience class is a great tool manner. Ideally, if you can teach which they live. Adolescence becoming more knowledgeable for those volunteering outside yourself how to learn on your needs to become a vital part of about nutrition, interning at of school. As a volunteer EMT own, then you can learn anything life, not just a long wait for ‘real The Aquatic and Fitness Cen- and firefighter, the class allows in the world. life’ to begin.” Is this not true?

Campus Aides: The people keeping you safe Niki Forman Class of 2010 There are many questions that float around the halls of LM. Who is Ali Weiner? How does one survive junior year? Who has the more superior cheese selection-- Trader Joe’s or the Ardmore Farmers’ Market? But I’m going to answer a different question. You’ve seen them in the halls, and were never quite sure what they did. Walkie-talkie in hand, they are the men that, if in a good mood, will turn a blind eye as you subtly walk into the auditorium lobby sixth set with a fresh Starbucks coffee. They are the campus aides. We wonder what these men actually do at Lower Merion and what they do outside these hallowed halls. And no, they don’t go home and patrol the sidewalk outside their house, or make sure the neighbors sign in before coming in to visit. As campus aides their main responsibility lies with school security. “We make sure that the kids are safe

and that we don’t have any intruders or unauthorized people coming in,” said Reno Salomone. Michael Lista arrives at eight in the morning and follows the same general routine. “I pick up my radio, stop in different rooms, check in with special ed. Check in with the secretaries, the powers to be, making sure that everything is all right.” Their job is to make sure that students don’t leave and that unauthorized people don’t enter. Considering that campus aides are responsible for school security, they are more than qualified since a few have a history working with the Philadelphia Police Department. John Sharkey worked in the narcotics department for twenty years and in the Attorney General’s office for eight. Lista worked as a lieutenant in the Philadelphia Police Department for 34 years. Not all of the campus aides, however, worked in the Philadelphia Police Department. Salomone worked for ten months in the Italian Police Department and spent six years at

Specta Guard Security. Besides being accomplished in security, many of the campus aides are skilled athletes, world and regional travelers, teachers, and businessmen. Lista coached Junior American Legion Baseball. “I coached all my life at every age level from 6 to 26.” Although Sharkey enjoys kayaking and boxing, it is his five-year-old daughter that keeps him busy. Salomone, who became a semi-professional bicyclist at the age of 14, raced with the biking team Bianchi. Salomone also owned a salon and worked as a cosmetology teacher. Between Salomone and Heil, they have traveled everywhere from Italy to Aruba. When asked what they liked most about being a campus aide, most campus aides responded that they value their relationships with the teachers and interactions with the students. “I love the school. I get along with the students,

with the staff, with the faculty,” said Lista, who can often be found discussing politics with chorus teacher Daniel Belmondo. “He has my utmost respect for what he has achieved in life, his doctorate degree and the service he provided as a young kid in the Vietnam War. Plus he is a gentleman and he’s funny.” Heil adds that Belmondo is “the person we have to watch the most. He needs constant supervision.” From monitering parking to patrolling the cafeteria, the Campus Aides are always on their feet. “This job never gets boring. It’s like in the police department. Every day is different,” said Lista. “Dealing with this many kids, every day is different.” Pictured:Mike McGinley,left; Pellegrino (Reno) Salomone, center; Peter Kosmalski,right Photos by Madeline Berger/Staff


December 18, 2009

The Merionite

Social-Networking Leah Sutton


Conor Ferguson Class of 2011

Class of 2010

Iceland It’s Complicated with #*%^@#

April 2, 1992

From Ph@ceb00k, page 1

“because everyone else did it.” That reason certainly accounts for how trendy name-changing has become. A simple perusal of one’s “News Feed” tells as much—middle names replace surnames and letters have been switched, all in an effort to censor social networking profiles from admissions staff. I’ll be honest: I’m guilty. For the month of October, I replaced the “u” in my last name with a “v,” while I frostily hid in the Iceland network. Senior Anna Menaged changed her name in early fall to avoid being sought out by prying eyes. Her new moniker, “Anna Mophands,” was accidentally turned in as her name on a BC Calculus problem set. After “friending” Anna, a problem set group member assumed this was her actual last name. “That was hard to explain to Mr. Kaczmar,” Anna laments. But not all students changed their names because it’s “cool,” or due to the remote possibility of being viewed by someone with power in the realm of college admissions. Senior Lauren Stevens had to change her name because of her hockey team. As adults join Facebook en masse, high school sports coaches have easy access to suspicious pictures if they are not deleted. “Any smart student athlete is aware of that,” said junior lacrosse player Isaac Silber. Many colleges sincerely hoped to assuage students’ worries that admissions officers are willing to violate their privacy. Daniel Grayson, Assistant Director of Admissions at Tufts University assured me that “we absolutely do not check Facebook accounts. We don’t search, we don’t see, we don’t want to.“ With thousands of applications to get through, fellow Tufts admissions officer Becky Leichtling shared that their policy was not to use Facebook “at all” in the way they evaluate candidates. “We do not have access to students’ profiles, admissions officers do not accept friendship requests from students, and it would be a very rare case that any aspect of a Facebook profile would come up in the evaluation process.” “To be perfectly honest,” said Joshua Levy, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Oberlin College, “we have plenty of work to do without searching Facebook for these students to see what, if anything, is there that might be incriminating.” Other small schools like Vassar, Haverford, and Swarthmore agreed and follow similar policies. Think about it statistically: admissions officers simply do not have the time to look at 600 pictures of you online along with your recommendations, essays, test scores, and transcript. Ivy league colleges

and others of their caliber receive more than 20,000 applications a year. They know how much time and effort their applications take; they aren’t “seeking negatives.” “At Drexel University only the materials listed on our application checklist factor into a prospective student’s admissions decision,” said Christopher Bertone, Assistant Director of Enrollment. He also said that they use Facebook fan pages to reach out to prospective students, but never to track activity that may be illicit or suspect. There, “students can visit, read about current events, or ask questions.” They have a Twitter account for the same purpose. Most tech-savvy colleges are starting to utilize the community-building facet of Facebook more and more—many LM students may be members of the Facebook group “I’m interested in Tufts University,” a way they communicate with prospective applicants, which is “managed by an officer and includes many current students,” according to Grayson. So colleges aren’t playing Big Brother in cyberspace. But students should probably still be wary of content they choose to share online. LM teachers such as Mr. Levy, Mr. Quinn, and Mr. McAfoos are members of Facebook, but have a strict policy about friending students. “I only accept postgraduation,” Quinn firmly stated. But this probably isn’t always the case. According to Newsweek’s recent cover article on Facebook, the majority of new members are over 35—so your high school teachers may not be the only judgmental adults prying into your online life. Parents, relatives, and old neighbors are joining in hoards. When you reach college, why wouldn’t a professor within the network do a little snooping? According to an article in The Daily Princetonian, a professor who looks at her students on Facebook said that she was “honestly appalled at the detailed information people give away about themselves.” But let’s face it- when it comes to adults with a vested interest in your profile, prospective employers take the top spot. Back at Oberlin, Joshua Levy said, though he does not look at Facebook, “I can understand why students in high school would look to clean their account but I don’t know that many, if any, colleges that are searching Facebook. Prospective employers--now that’s another question.” So Jordan Woof, Jru Gee, and Olliver Kohen can keep their clever new names. But colleges aren’t looking. Nonetheless, when it comes to content, it would be smart to do as senior Jim Stellato did: “just untag” any bad pictures. After all, you never know who could be looking, so “why risk it?”

As I exit my car en route to school, I realize, “Dag! This wind sure is making my journey much harder then usual.” Yeah, I’ll tweet about that. As I go through those fire-enginered doors and enter the main hallway, I see Becca Hafter shining those pearly whites in my direction. While sitting in APES I reflect on this chance encounter and decide that I better tweet at her. “@beccahafter, it’s always great starting my day off by seeing you in the hallway :).” After double APES ends, I am free and off to Español. Great, Señora is giving us a pop quiz! I know I failed that, so I’m gonna tweet my Spanish compañero Andrew to see how he fared. “@ magicmanAG, boy I thought that test was a doozy, what’d you think?!?” This is Twitter, an ingenious play-by-play site supplementing the likes of other social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook. It’s appealing to LM students because, much like a text message, Twitter only allows users to “tweet” messages that do not exceed 140 characters. Therefore, messages are short, condensed memos rather than the long humdrum messages that Facebook and Myspace sanction. What started out as merely a joke for me is now a way of life! Whenever I see something funny or hear something especially noteworthy, I always think about tweeting. On Twitter not only can I tweet pictures via “twitpic” but I can also record videos via “twiddeo” and post them on Twitter for all of my followers to see! Many people find Twitter appealing because not only is it a way to keep in touch with friends but it also allows laypeople to gain a glimpse into the lives of the social elite. In fact, some people join Twitter just to see what their favorite celebrities are up to. (Yeah @johnlegend, I’m stalking you.) It’s fun to see what celebrities like Ashton Kutcher (@ aplusk) and Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) tweet to the world when their PR teams aren’t in charge. Since Twitter is acquiring thousands of new users each day, it is safe to say that there are various “types” of tweeters, some of whom are engaging and other who are boring and quite frankly, annoying. For me, I find tweets with enlightening information about breaking news or bits of gossip paired with an amusing twitpic the most interesting. Though I would love to say that there are more good tweeters then bad, I’m afraid that this fragment of hope is far from the truth. There are the School Work Tweeters: those that complain about all the assignments they have to do. (LM upperclassmen for sure). There are the Obsessive Tweeters (I may fall into this category), the Complain About College Tweeters (many LM tweeters are guilty of this), and of course the Pointless Tweeters (this year’s freshman class.) People must remember to stay interesting in order to maintain a nice follower base! A typical response from someone outside the Twitter community is that it’s a tool for narcissists to broadcast their egocentric lives. Let me tell you, that accusation is far from the truth! Twitter gives people a forum to post their thoughts and feelings, while simultaneously creating an assembly that is conducive to discussion. (Shoutout to Ms. McDuffy!) When I first got my Twitter account I was confused about what to tweet and how to work the whole thing. But now it’s easy, and in all honesty, I tweet whatever is on my mind. Now that I have provided you with the necessary knowledge to excel in the twitterverse, I expect to receive a tweet from you!

Graphic by Noah Zuares /Staff

The evolution of a twitterholic

step 1: Hear the word Twitter. Groan. step 2: Hear that a celebrity uses Twitter. Groan. But notice a slight spike in curiosity. step 3: Check Facebook for comfort. step 3: Sign up for Twitter. step 4: Quit because it’s stupid. step 5: Loudly criticize others for using Twitter. step 6: Hear the words “Tweet,” with increasing frequency. step 7:Log back into Twitter. step 8: Post something along the lines of “Testing out this Twitter thing.” step 9: Give up becuase you “don’t get it” step 10: Come back, just to see. step 11: Post something kind of funny and get good feedback step 12: No longer feel self conscious for saying “Twitter” in public step 13: Attend events with the sole intention of “Tweeting” them. step 14: Begin to process information in 140 character sentences. step 16: Defend Twitter from critics.

December 18, 2009

The Merionite On Christmas morning, my family goes to the center city headquarters of Manna and delivers meals to sick people in the Northeast. The organization is for anyone with lifethreatening illness at acute nutritional risk- but I’m pretty sure their focus is on HIV/AIDS. --Leah Sutton ’10 Each night of Hanukkah, my family dons sombreros. Monday night, we went out to Borders, sombreros and all....we got lots of stares! -Erica Rummel ’12

Eig al ghtas, or the Holiday of the Baptism is on January 6, celebrating the Baptism of Jesus by John. We go to church and get Holy water that we all drink at home. We also make doughnuts called ‘aawameh’ while singing. --Sarah Badin ’10

Every year we go to a christmas tree farm to physically cut down our own Christmas tree. That trip inevitably turns into an annual family-wide game of hide and seek in the forest of Christmas trees. --Caroline Wells ’10


How To:

Make a Paper Snowflake

Materials: 1 sheet of paper 1 pair of scissors creativity and holiday spirit 1. Fold paper over in a triangle and cut excess to make a square

2. Keeping the first fold, fold the paper in half again, then again

For the 37 years we've been married, my husband and I have made "turtles" (candies of pecans, caramel, and chocolate) to share with colleagues and loved ones at holiday time. On Christmas Eve, our children and we deliver plates to the homes of friends and family members, and listen to the King's College Christmas Eve service as we drive.

--Mrs. Joyce Acton

3. Fold paper over to make a right triangle, with the open ends at the top and the folded ends at the point

Graphic by Noah Zuares/Staff

LM fads that were just sad

LM-er) Now, though, there’s nary a trucker hat to be found—maybe Kevin Federline is holding them Class of 2010 all in reserve? For BCMS-ers, going to the area around Bravo Remember when girls sported their “Undee and Starbucks, or actually venturing into one, after Bandz” and popped collars on the walk to Starbucks school on Fridays was practically a rite of passage. after Bala Cynwyd Middle School ended for the Maybe it was that we were experiencing our first real week? What about when people updated their alltastes of freedom, or maybe it was that delectable important Xangas constantly? Well, I can’t blame Bravo pizza, but hordes of middle-schoolers still you if you’re trying to forget— after all, some trends tread that well-worn path to Montgomery Avenue— are best left in the eighth grade, or whenever they we’ve just moved on to Suburban Square. finally died out. Abercrombie Kids—expensive, loud, and overFor a time in 2005, it seemed as though everyone perfumed just about sums up that mecca of teen ownedhad a pair of gauchos. Stretchy across the top spending. Says senior Jade Waterman said of the store, but loose and wide at the bottoms, gaucho pants had “Even I used to shop at Abercrombie Kids. Why did widespread appeal. These pants, usually jersey or cotI shop there? Mostly because everyone else did.” We ton, were modeled from a 1970s trend, and remained should just popular for the be glad it’s better part of all the way a year--until in King of people people Prussia; realized they that way weren’t all the fumes t h a t f l a t t e rdon’t reach ing. us here. For people M y who thought f a v o r i t e an amalgamafad, howtion of foam ever, was and mesh the power could never be bead craze. popular, truckT h o s e er hats offered Asianproof of the inspired impossible. bracelets Popularized still lay in by celebrities my drawlike Ashton Photo by of Anne Zheng/Staff e r, a n d I Kutcher and can’t say b r a n d s l i k e Senior Marta Bean sporting many former trends, including an Undee I’m emVo n D u t c h , band, a shrug and gauchos. barrassed. these hats’ The beads were cheap, bright, and had some sort blue-collar association quickly gave way to Holof meaning behind them—though I’m still trying to lywood appeal. Part of what made trucker hats so figure out exactly what that was. Said Waterman of popular was the egalitarian nature of the baseball the trend, “I still wear power beads even though hats—while expensive, brand-name hats could be found on celebrities, a variety of less-expensive ver- they were just a passing fad, I still respect the culture sion were available for the average American. (Or behind them and the way they look.”


Hannah Goldberg-Morse

4. Cut off the excess

5. Cut as you so desire

6. Unfold and behold your masterpiece

Photos by Emily Sorensen/Staff


December 18, 2009


The Merionite

Get to know Ghodsi: the Spanish-speaking cyclist Stephen Kent

Class of 2010

It’s one thing to teach a subject, but it’s another to experience it. Mohsen Ghodsi, who currently teaches two Spanish courses as well as the freshman gifted class, has learned from experience. He was born in Iran, and moved to Houston after spending his teenage years in Seattle. While in Texas, he became enamored with the Spanish language and culture in an unexpected way. Ghodsi first encountered Spanish at age 16 when he read a Farsi translation of Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez. He admits that much of the metaphorical meaning was lost in translation, for the version he read, “was probably translated from Spanish, to English and then to Farsi,” his native language. He was not deterred by the language barrier, and enrolled in his first official Spanish class at Rice University upon moving to Houston. If you ask Ghodsi about the city of Houston, he will passionately tell you that it is incredibly unique because of its diversity. The population is almost equally divided between whites, African Americans and Mexican Americans. After researching the city, Ghodsi decided

to move to the East End, where 93% of the inhabitants had recently crossed the border to residents speak Spanish as their first language work in service and construction jobs,” said and, “speaking only Ghodsi. English is a handiDespite livcap.” This was the ing below the perfect atmosphere poverty level for Ghodsi to conwithout materiquer the Spanish alistic pleasures, language and all its they always kept intricacies. a positive attiIn addition to tude. Ghodsi’s quickly becomfriends in the ing fluent (in his East End “had third language), a great sense of Ghodsi also picked fun, and it was up the vernacular. really fun to be He fondly recalls, around them.” “After three years He admired the living there I could optimistic and pass for a native grateful attitude speaker.” Most of fostered in the his friends, and Latino culture, most of the popuand decided to lation as well, were pursue Spanish poor immigrants as a career. He Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff who worked undesirmajored in SpanGhodsi in his full biking attire able jobs. ish Literature, and “This was not the most educated and afflu- eventually found himself at LM. ent segment of Mexican society. Most of the Ghodsi holds profound respect for what he

teaches, and is very passionate about his job. Seniors may recall the field trip that he took three years ago with his 9th grade gifted class. To complement their studies on the theory of evolution, the class spent two weeks in the Galapagos Islands, seeing firsthand, “what Darwin saw,” and the evidence that catalyzed his great revelation. “It was a really fantastic group of kids,” Ghodsi says and proceeds to summarize the experience in one word: “unique.” When asked about his favorite online diversion, Ghodsi said, “I don’t waste too much time online.” However, he finds time to check up on cycling news, another passion. An avid cyclist, Ghodsi’s average routine consists of “200 miles per week” on his bicycle. For perspective, two hundred miles is twice the distance between Ardmore and New York City. Mr. Ghodsi knows that in order to understand something, you need to experience it and not just learn it. He notes that “Language is separated from the culture,” in many language classes, and he, “would really recommend learning a foreign language in a cultural context.” It is this cultural awareness and knowledge that he brings to the classroom every day, and imparts to his students.

College conundrum? It’s time to make a wish

Hey seniors, before you turn in the last of your college applications and as you start hearing back, you may want to look at the following advice, compiled by your Features editors--starring our lovely guidance department, Assisant Principle Doug Arnold (a former admissions officer for Duke University) and local college adviser Cigus Vanni. Juniors, you may want to look at this as well if you want to get ahead in the college process. Or you can save it for when you actually care (and you will eventually, we promise). Freshmen and sophomores, just don’t look. Yet. What’s a good number of schools to apply to? Well our official rule of thumb is around six schools. Try and have two reaches, two realistic and two backups. - Ms. Hofmann How much do essays influence admission? It really depends on the school. For example, there are two extremes within our state. You have Penn State University, where they only compare your GPA to your SAT scores. They don’t care about essays at all. On the other end of the spectrum is a school like Muhlenberg where essays and recommendation letters matter a whole lot more. -Ms. Rosen Any advice for coping with rejection? My experience is that 99.9% of students love the schools they end up attending and the ones that don’t choose to transfer. Things happen for a reason in life. The most successful people learn from their challenges and make the most of their successes. -Mr. Arnold Should students send supplemental materials (art, music, writing, etc)? It depends on the school. For instance a school like Vassar loves it and has time to look at it but a school like Penn State won’t even glance at it. -Ms.Serratore

How honest should an essay be, and what sorts of things should students avoid talking about)? Truly, no topic need be out of line if by the end of the essay one’s reader knows that any issues have been addressed, that wrongs have been righted, that foolish decisions have given way to wiser choices and that self-awareness has been gained. - Cigus Vanni

Are there any easy tips to remember during interviews? Interviews are not required at most schools. Make sure you have done your homework before you go into an interview. Don’t ask about a chemical engineering degree at a school that doesn’t offer any engineering programming! This is your chance to interview the school rather than have them interview you. Find out what they have to offer you as a student there. – Mr. Arnold How can students get off the wait list? Make a pitch to the school that it remains one’s first choice--write back to the college immediately and reiterate that one wants to be included on wait list; provide another letter of recommendation on one’s behalf; send a copy of the final transcript (or at least some final grades when they become available); light candles. Do NOT stalk admissions officers or play the more-isbetter game. --Cigus Vanni Does everyone need to go to college? Not everyone needs to go to a traditional college. If you aren’t sure about what you want to do, take a structured gap year and work or attend a fifth year program somewhere else. – - Mr. Arnold Other thoughts? There are many paths to get to where you’re going. -Ms. Serratore

Jake Ochroch

Sadly, Chris Greicius passed away only three days later, May 2, but his legacy lives on as the wish In October 2004, a ten-year-old boy under- that inspired it all. going radiation therapy attended a concert with Guidance counselor and club sponsor Colleen Bruce Springsteen, REM, and John Fogerty. The Miller said, “I think that it is so wonderful that LM boy’s greatest wish was to meet Bruce “The Boss” Shades is supporting such a great cause.” Springsteen, and that night this wish was fulfilled. After the commitment to That boy was me. After completing chemothe Make-A-Wish Foundation, therapy treatment for a brain tumor, the LM Shades found new life in Make-A-Wish Foundation sought me a swarm of new members, all out and made my wish come true. eager to help. The Make-A-Wish foundation grants Trips in police helicopone wish to children with fatal disters, cruises, and trips eases. Make-A-Wish personally to Disney World can finds every child in a hospital and be expensive, and asks each child about their greatest the Make-A-Wish wish. Then the organization tries to Foundation is a make that wish come true. From nonprofit organipersonal experience, I can tell you zation, so all of it’s no small feat to provide a silver their funds come lining in the lives of children who from donations. deal with such troubling issues. The LM Shades The wish, whether dinner with club aims to help with a star or a cruise to Disneyland, exactly that. allows these children to enjoy Sophomore themselves and provides for an Danny Kane, the escape from the dreary hospital Vice President scene. Such children, bearing too of the club, said, many hardships, experience the best “We’d like to raise thing possible: at least one day of enough this year to worry-free fun. That’s why I brought sponsor one wish, which the Make-A-Wish foundation to would be around $7,000, Photo courtesy of Jake Ochroch LM Shades. but if we don’t, that’s LM Shades, originally formed Ochroch and his family with Bruce fine too, as long as we Springsteen after the concert to promote diversity, was failing raise as much as we due to lack of members. The struggling club can.” bounced back upon announcing support of the LM Shades will be holding several fundraisMake-A-Wish Foundation, refocusing the club’s ers throughout the year, including bake sales and original goals. awareness campaigns. The Make-A-Wish Foundation was created in Senior Julia Sosenko, a member of Shades, 1980 when seven-year-old Chris Greicius, who said, “I like Shades because it has a specific goal, had always dreamed of becoming a police officer, and so even though it’s the first year of it in our contracted leukemia. Although Chris could not be school, the club members are really focused and a real police officer, the Make-A-Wish Foundation eager to raise money. There aren’t a lot of us, but got Chris as close to his dream as possible. On I think we’re off to a really good start. The MakeApril 29, 1980, Chris took a tour of his hometown A-Wish Foundation is such a good cause and I Phoenix, Arizona in a real police chopper, courtesy think everyone really wants to be there and help of U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin and Ron support a kid’s wish.” Cox, an Arizona Department of Public Safety ofThe Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted ficer. After a tour of the headquarters, Chris got over 185,500 wishes. With help from LM stuhis own authentic police uniform to take home. dents, Shades hopes to help grant even more. Class of 2012

Headline 13

December 18, 2009

The Merionite


Almost famous: Britain’s indie music vs. our own Magali Roman

Class of 2010

The U.K. produced some of the best rock music back in the day. And let’s be honest, they’ve been earning a substantial amount of spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the past couple of decades. However, America is climbing up the steep slopes of indie-rock with awesome tracks, so we thought we’d let you in on a little secret: our Rock and Roll is getting better than ever. But does it stand a fair chance against the Liverpool’s polished fedora-topped frontmen? The Merionite will take you on a tour of the best-kept secrets from across the ocean, as well as through some of our nation’s own unknown gems.

The Libertines What makes them awesome: Listening to The Libertines is like walking straight through London in the 80s: their sound is clever British punk at its best. Also, guessing from their multiple reports of drug addiction and the fact that they’ve broken up about 50 times, we’re going to bet the band members have an interesting story. For fans of: Sex Pistols, the Clash Listen to: “Arbeit Macht Frei”

One Night Only What makes them awesome: They are London’s best-kept secret, but they won’t remain so for long. With their vibrant instrumentals and superb lyrics, these boys have songwriting down to a tee. Fill up your iPod with their catchy, fun songs - the perfect soundtrack for a night of mischief in the city. For fans of: Kaiser Chiefs, JET Listen to: “You and Me”

The Pigeon Detectives What makes them awesome: Without a doubt, these guys have the coolest band name in the world. And everyone knows that to have a great name, you had better have the music talent to back it up. These guys do, and their music talent comes in barrels of fun, and catchy choruses that could be the soundtrack to the daily dramas of a British prep school.

The Fratellis What makes them awesome: It’s easy to imagine venturing inside an English pub at midnight, witnessing hordes of drunkards singing the lyrics to a song by the Fratellis, and dancing in a chorus line with their beers held up high. These Glasgow lads will have you stomping your feet with your sparkling cider on hand faster than you can say “Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night.”

For fans of: The Wombats Listen to: “I’m Always Right”

For fans of: Kaiser Chiefs, The Kooks Listen to: “Chelsea Dagger”

Locksley What makes them awesome: The Beatles are back from the dead! Oh, wait, it’s just their American reincarnation. This quartet has a very young, nostalgic sixties rockpop sound that makes you want to prank-phone call your mom and convince her that John, George, Paul, and Ringo are back in business. For fans of: Rooney Listen to: “Darling It’s True”

The Virgins What makes them awesome: If Los Angeles had a soundtrack, The Virgins would be heavily featured in it. They topped the chartswith their hit 2008 song, “Rich Girls.” We dare you to listen to their fun, electric pop and not pretend like you’re in an old 90210 episode. Seriously. For fans of: The Teenagers, Phantom Planet Listen to: “Hey, Hey Girl”

The Republic Tigers What makes them awesome: You might remember them from the amazing iTunes free single of the week “Buildings and Mountains,” but the truth is that these trippy Missouri gentlemen have come a long way since their first LP. With a sound that mixes folk, indie, pop, and a little techno, these Tigers have a unique sound that blends the best of both worlds. For fans of: The Shins, The Temper Trap Listen to: “Golden Sand”, “Fight Song

Cage the Elephant What makes them awesome: If the members of Arctic M o n k e y s , t h e l o c a l s h e r i ff , Jason Mraz, and a banjo got in a fight, they would sound like Cage the Elephant. And that’s awesome. These Kentucky boys are experts in greased guitars and gritty storytelling, and it shows. Check out their interactive website for a taste of their music For fans of: Beck, Arctic Monkeys Listen to: “Ain’t No Rest for The Wicked”

Gabe Siegal is back with The Senior Experience Emily Shephard

Class of 2011

The 2009-2010 school year has been, if nothing else, dynamic. New policies have been instated, a so-called “honor code” has been put in place, the grading system will be reformed, and a generally different atmosphere has settled over the building. The students have not failed to notice and remark upon said changes. Senior Gabe Siegal, however, has devoted his efforts to capturing a fixed experience, one of the few here at Lower Merion. It is an experience that is alternatively coveted and mocked, an experience that is enduringly inevitable— The Senior Experience. Colored by the perhaps dim, though certainly ever-present awareness of one’s imminent entrance into the “real world,” coupled with the anxiety of securing ones self a suitable place in this world, and the vicious competition that fuels the whole ordeal, senior year is an experience that is certainly worth capturing in more than an endless stream of tweets and Facebook statuses. Perhaps you saw Siegal around the halls of Lower Merion with a sign attached to his backpack that read “Attention Actors: I need you for a film!” Now, the sign is gone; the script is written; the film has been cast; the filming process has begun. And so I sat down with Siegal to inquire about what compelled him to devote his time to this particular project, what exactly he sought to capture, and how it feels to be an aspiring young filmmaker at LM. What is the film about? “It’s about the typical senior experience. Everybody is worrying about college applications while simultaneously exchanging dirty glances with anybody who dares to bring them up. Applying to a college is an experience that we all hate, yet have trouble describing, especially to our parents who never had to go through such an intense process. It also touches on fickle teenage relationships, “bro-

dom,” terrible fast food, and a certain teacher that will remain nameless for his/her sake. It is also just a big excuse to film a zombie scene: zombies beat vampires any day.” Did you write the film? What prompted you to explore this topic? “Yeah I did; it was originally an English assignment of four loosely connected

backpack with an email address. In the end, due to time constraints, I ended up using my group of friends for the main roles. It helps when they’re also actors and filmmakers. I also take an acting role myself. While casting I was looking for a group of guys that could work well together. The film is centered on three guys: Matt (Me), Steven (LM graduate Wes Gunter), and Tyler

Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff

Gabe Siegal draws in actors with his advertising prowess vignettes. I put them together into a script. As for inspiration, I just wanted to make a film. I guess you could say I wanted to show adults what typical high school senior life is like in 2009. It is much different than, say, Dazed and Confused. I kind of wish it was Dazed and Confused, that would be a lot more fun.” Were you satisfied with the number of students who obliged your casting call? What did you look for when casting? “I kind of wish I ran posters throughout the school. I had only a sign attached to my

(graduate James Irving), who are best friends, so they had to act the part and play off each other. That’s why it was easier to use people already used to being jerks to each other on a daily basis.” What films/ filmmakers have influenced you? “Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, and the Coen Brothers. I love how their movies all have their directors’ trademark style and wit. These are all filmmakers that write and direct their own movies, something I have always wanted to do. I’ve always preferred the small,

quirky, art house film to the big Michael Bay production. Except Juno…screw Juno.” Do you want to go into film? “Yes, very much so. I’m applying to many communications schools or liberal arts schools with good film programs.” What do you think is the power and importance of contemporary film, and what do you think about the state of the film industry currently? “I love the smaller character-study films where you really get to empathize with a complete stranger. In less than two hours you are feeling all these emotions for somebody you would normally never know or care for. It’s a chance to experience new things outside the dull, mundane life of LM suburbia. The industry? The mainstream film industry sucks, probably always will suck, and another high school kid complaining about it will do nothing whatsoever. I love the independent scene, but I wish I lived in Philadelphia so I could go to Ritz movies more often. It is great that cable providers like Comcast and Verizon now offer independent films through their on-demand service, but there’s always room for improvement.“ -What would you suggest to anyone who wants to get into film? Practice, practice, practice. With every film I make I learn something new or unexpected. Like with any other activity, the amount of time you put in really pays off. The three biggest problems with student films are bad camera angles, offfocus camera, and shoddy sound quality. Read up on a book of cinematography before you dive in. Always make sure the camera is focused before every take. Use a quality mic with a boom pole: the sound directly off of your camera sucks, even if you don’t think so.



December 18, 2009


The Merionite

Snapshot: LM’s fantastic and artsy photography club Leah Rosenbloom

pictures – it’s about having fun taking pictures and meeting people who have fun doing that too.” Although the Photography Club indisputably gets things done, meetings and photoshoots aren’t all serious all

Class of 2011 If there is one essential thing that LM’s stellar art program is lacking, it’s a photography class. Now, students interested in the sophisticated and satisfying art of capturing a moment finally have an outlet: LM’s own Photography Club. The Photography Club has a bimonthly weekend rendezvous, visiting chic and hip places like South Street and Manayunk that already teem with culture and art. After deciding on the shoot’s logistics, the club then focuses on a specific background or photographic theme, using its members or even perfect strangers as models. The club’s last shoot was devoted to capturing the essences of intriguing strangers in Center City, Philadelphia. The creativity and sophistication of the projects requires careful consideration and execution. Some of the finished Ma photos return from develd t opment looking stunogr eline aph Ber ning and professional. Pho y C ger, to b lub pre But does that mean yH , do sid an ing ent T an inexperienced photogwh of th ran/St a aff rapher would feel out of place? t sh e P h e o l Madeline Berger, the club’s President and ove s founder, says “Absolutely not!” the “Anyone at any level can join,” said time. The Berger. “You can have a little pink point- in-school meetand-shoot or a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. ings that occur during Because it’s not about taking the best AR are filled with photo cri-



line B

ade sy of M


tiques, socializing, and “yummy food.” think the little moments are what make During those meetings, in a commend- life meaningful, and if you capture the able display of respect for democracy right one, the photography is really meanand club unity, Berger and the club’s ingful. My goal in capturing moments is Vice President, senior Dan Szallasi, hold to capture raw emotion and in doing so, a vote among club members to decide on affect someone.” the details of the next photo-shoot. Berger, who was the photographer for “Future plans include after school LM Players’ West Side Story, The Imagiworkshops featuring manual camera op- nary Invalid, and the Merionite, also eration, splash photography, photo shoots weddings, portraits, and freelance manipulation, mirror/marble work that she manages professionally. photography, and por- She and Szallasi are devoted to supporttraiture,” said ing and teaching amateur members and Szallasi. furthering the club’s boundaries. They R e g a r d - hope to incorporate photography comless, all par- petitions with judges and prizes, take a t i c i p a t i n g trip to the Camden Aquarium, and host members, both photography shows. They are also lookseasoned and ama- ing to expand their membership. teur, are passionate “We hope to gain new enthusiastic about the art of pho- members – specifically you!” said Berger, tography. rather enthusiastically herself. “I think “I personally love it’s exciting when people that share a photography because it passion get to create together.” is a meaningful preservation. It’s o d d l y What: LM Photography Club satisfying Where: Different shoot locations all around the city to snatch a When: Every other weekend, occasional AR meetings beautiful moWho: President Madeline Berger, Vice President Dan ment and hold Szallasi onto it forever,” Why: Share a passion and create with other photographers said Berger “What How to Get Involved: Join the Facebook group, listed makes photography under “LM Photography Club” unique is that it capAlso: Check out Madeline’s Photos at tures a moment ex actly like it was. I

Photo courtesy of Scott

Photo courtesy of Serenity Lopez

Photo courtesy

n of Kyra Berge

Lee Shore

Photo court

esy of Dan




December 18, 2009

The Merionite


Blondies: Delicious, not dumb

Nick Normile

Class of 2011 Wow. It’s hard to believe the holidays are upon us already. It’s the season of giving, but I find that often our giving is more out of necessity than true generosity. Or Basic Blondies even if your 1 stick butter giving really is 1 cup brown sugar a result of your 1 egg kind heart, it can 1 tsp vanilla be pretty hard to 1 pinch salt show that with 1 cup flour an Itunes giftcard. On the 1) Preheat oven to 350° contrary, cook2) Grease an 8x8 pan ing your Christ3) Melt the butter in a maHanuKwansaucepan zaa presents 4) Add the sugar, the displays that beat in the egg, vanilla you are willand salt. ing to put in 5) Fold in the Flour time and effort 6) Fold in 1/2 cup to 1 for the person cup of a thing you like! you are gifting. 7) Transfer to the pan Whereas say, a and bake for about 20 gift card shows minutes, or to your that you are desired doneness.

willing to simply spend money on someone, cooking displays legitimate caring, and I urge you, Merionite readers, to cook at least some of your gifts this year. The questions thus becomes, what to make? And I believe I have the ultimate item. This treat provides a perfect blend of simplicity and scrumptiousness, affordability and portability, to be the perfect gift for anyone with even the slightest bit of a sweet tooth. That treat is a blondie, whose ease of preparation is only exceeded by their deliciousness. They truly are exceptionally easy to make—no special skills or ingredients are required—and the recipe is easy to memorize since it’s based around quantities of one (you’ll see what I mean when you read the recipe). Perhaps the best thing about blondies however, is how easy they are to customize. Blondies are delicious with nothing in them, but they can also serve as a vehicle for other ingredients. I recently made a batch where I just chopped up all my sister’s extra Halloween candy and threw it in—and they were delicious. Anyway, I urge you to make these both for yourself and for others this season. Here’s a delicious recipe that will produce tasty, tantalizing, treats each time.

Video Makes The Radio Star

Hayley Mansfield

Class of 2011 about when The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” was featured Want to predict tomor- on Grey’s Anatomy? The row’s big hits? Turn off tune became popular overyour radio and turn on your night – literally. Gavin Detelevision, because the Graw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” next big things are playing is featured as the theme song on the hottest TV shows. for the TV drama One Tree Remember when Jeff Hill. The show even got its Buckley’s cover of Leonard title from U2’s track “One Cohen’s “Hallelujah” played Tree Hill” on their classic

sic for a production. Music supervisors combine music with visual media. Patsavas has worked on over sixty films and TV series. Her most famous works include Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C., and Gossip Girl. Patsavas also supervised the soundtrack for the 2008 film Twilight. In 2007, Patsavas cre-

Aces of The Arts Elizabeth Phillipson-Weiner, Class of 2011:

What arts do you dabble in? Classical and jazz trombone.

What organizational clubs are you in? In school--orchestra and jazzband. Outside of school--Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, BravoBrass. Where can we see you perform? I’m playing at the Kimmel Center three times this year. You can see me perform at LM in theSpring Concert or, if you wantto come to jazz band festivals,they’re always fun. Who’s your artistic role model? Attila the Hunnex and Count Basie. Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff

Advice to artists: Music is 99% perspiration and 1% being like Han Tran.

Benjamin Louis Penneys Edelman, Class of 2011:

What arts do you dabble in? Music (I play piano, orchestral percussion, and also sometimes drum set), theatre (something I’m passionate about), and comedy with Tom Fischer (SHOUTOUT!). Also I doodle in class which means that I’m artsy.

Painting by Zach Ostrum/Staff

when Marissa Cooper died in The O.C.? Although the song had already been well known for a while, this appearance boosted the song’s popularity even more. Imogen Heap, a long-time underground artist, made her debut on The O.C. with “Goodnight and Go.” After that, The O.C. once again featured Heap’s sparse vocal track, “Hide and Seek,” in the dramatic second season finale. You may have heard bits of the song in Jason DeRulo’s hit single, “Whatcha Say.” How

album, The Joshua Tree. TV series such as The O.C., Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, and One Tree Hill have put so many undiscovered artists in the limelight. TV has become the new radio for all of the talented artists that don’t have the chance to make it big through major record labels. So who is behind all of this? Music supervisors such as Grammy-nominee Alexandra Patsavas. A music supervisor is responsible for selecting and licensing mu-

ated her own music label, Chop Shop Records, which signs mainly indie rock bands. The music supervisors find the bands, license the music, combine the song with the right scene, and broadcast it on TV for millions of people to view. Thanks to this newly developed branch of the music industry, thousands of artists now have the chance to be heard and more people have the chance to discover them before they top the charts and play on the radio.

What organizational clubs are you in? As far as arts go? Well there’s school stuff; orchestra, Players, the works. The biggest thing outside school is Philadelphia Sinfonia, a regional youth orchestra. I also take lessons, and am part of a program where I give lessons all at Settlement Music School. I also try to perform Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff locally and regionally at various theater places. Where can we see you perform? Aside from school concerts and plays (go see them!), Sinfonia has a website where they list our concert locations so check it out! I’ll play at coffeehouses, or splurge around the community, so you might just run into me. If you do, say hi. I’ll say hi back and who KNOWS what happens next. Who’s your artistic role model? Kevin Spacey. And I say that passionately. The guy basically rules the universe. Advice to artists: It’s more of advice to EVERYBODY: find what you love, do it, and don’t look back. I promise you, you’ll never regret it. Let the world enjoy you, it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the world. Oh yeah, and BE HAPPY. Life is nice and the world is a pretty happening place; appreciate it!


December 18, 2009

The Merionite


The forecast for LM: a chance of Rayne Jake Wellens

Class of 2011

Earlier this school year, you may have seen a B-lunch dance-battle between two seniors; one of which possessed extraordinary prowess. The victor ’s name is (as those of you who witnessed the showdown may have heard chanted rhythmically) Rayne. His old school called him Ryan, his family name is Raynodius Estophar, but he prefers the epithet “Rayne.” This year is Rayne’s first at LM; he moved here from Brooklyn last June, and appears to be fitting in quite well for a newcomer. However, it is not Rayne’s conventionality that allows him to fit in so easily, but rather his uniqueness. Rayne’s interesting blend of talent, eccentricity and humor was quickly evident upon our introduction. To my surprise, Rayne told me he has only been dancing for three years, and has never had a single formal dance lesson. He picked up the activity in Brooklyn, where most of the people around him were dancers of some sort. He taught himself all he knows, with a little help from the Internet. “I am a graduate of the YouTube dance academy,” he says. “I basically get the basics from YouTube, and from there I branch off and do my own techniques.” One of his more notable techniques is called “tutting.”

“Tutting involves making intricate angles with your hands and arms in a rhythmic motion.” While his tut

pansive repertoire. “I do anything from hip-hop to waltzing to salsa. I like to expand myself as far as dancing and arts in general.” It is natural to question why Rayne is not a part of the LM D a n c e Te a m . We l l , R a y n e believes that their dancing is “quite different” from his. “But,”

Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff

is exceptional, his favorite dance is “waving.” When asked about this, he promptly demonstrated what he calls “a fluid waving motion of [the] arms and legs. If you get good enough at it, you can carry it through your whole body and bring it back up.” His brief demonstration of this technique was impressive: his torso undulated with a motion that seemed simultaneously reptilian and robotic. “This,” he says, “was the hardest technique I had to learn.” Waving and tutting are only a few of the skills contained within Rayne’s ex-

he says, “I have a respect for all dancers. As a group, dancers have to respect each other’s craft. I respect their craft, and they are very good at what they do.” R a y n e ’s c r e a t i v e passions do not stop with dancing. In fact, Rayne intends to go on to pursue graphics and film after high

school, while possibly running a small dance class on the side. He is currently working on a movie and corresponding novel, called Revolution Neoz. (Find out more about this at www.raynodius. Some words of advice, from Rayne to all of you aspiring dancers: “Never conform to one style. Always expand; always learn more. If you’re a hip-hop dancer, learn about ballet; if you’re a ballet dancer, learn about meringue; if you’re a classical dancer, learn about hip-hop. Just be yourself.”

Consumption: Your civic duty at A Taste of LM Sarah Zimmerman

Class of 2011

Rejoice, capricious gastronomes! A Taste of LM has awakened from its yearlong slumber, and it will definitely happen this February 21. Pay a reasonable cover price, gorge yourself on food from dozens of the Main Line’s best restaurants, hear some of the best music that the community has to offer, and hang out with some of the best people in the area. Vendors will include Shangri-La, Peace a Pizza, and even our very own chef- renowned Foodie at Fifteen (now Sixteen)- Nick Normile. Due to economic and spatial limitations, the class of 2010 could not hold the event last year, which means that this will be the freshman and sophomores’ first ATOLM as students. The event will not be used solely as a fundraiser for LM’s junior class. Most of the profits will be split between two very noble causes: ABC House and Lower Merion Township Scholarship Fund. The ABC House is run by the Better Chance program, which provides motivated students with housing, tutoring, and an education at one of the premier public high schools in the nation. The house is located in Ardmore and there are currently eight students living there. The Scholarship Fund donates money to LM and Harriton graduates for post-secondary education. Since it’s creation over 1,800 students have benefitted from the program. So. A night of delicious food, great entertainment, and just solid fun– all to benefit a good cause? Who could say no. Sunday, February 21, 5 – 8 PM. Be there or be square.


December 18, 2009


The Merionite

Wrestling with a winning attitude Danny Kane

Photo courtesy of Greg Koorhan

“Our season was full of small triumphs and self sacrifice,” said senior Serendipity Major. The Lower Merion Girls’ Volleyball team finished a very rewarding season with a great game against Harriton, resulting in a 3-0 shutout. “The team played very well together...fueled by a refusal to ever give up,” said senior captain Deeanna King. The chemistry of the team was strong this year – “the definition of a team,” said King.

Squash recovers from the loss of Danny Greenberg to Div-I Penn Conor Ferguson

Class of 2011

With the start of the 2010 Lower Merion-Harriton squash season, the joint-high school team is dedicated to being as good as they were last year, if not better. Though the team lost nationally ranked Danny Greenberg to matriculation, Harriton junior Jonah Van Bemmelen says he’s not worried: “We lost Danny, who will be a really tough spot to fill, but Ethan Moritz is doing a good job taking over.” Since the boys’ squash team lost a significant amount of their talent last season, many of the younger players on the team are stepping up and filling those vacant positions. “[Sophomore] Matt Cooper is playing really well at the three spot where Torey Broderson was last year,” said Van Bemmelen. With the acquisition of new players, the team anticipates to once again be a force in the Central League. The girls’ squash team, led by the duo of LM junior Leah Puklin and Harriton senior Katie Livornese, are also hopeful for a victorious season. “We are hoping to end with a great re-

cord and continue to improve as players,” said sophomore Rachel Newman As for how prepared this team is for the tough matches that they have scheduled ahead, Newman believes, “the team looks really good this year. Our girls’ team is really strong throughout our whole order.” The Lower Merion-Harriton squash team is unique in that each high school’s team is combined into one collective group. If each high school had their own teams, there wouldn’t be enough people to complete the roster. By joining Lower Merion and Harriton’s teams into one, not only are there enough people to have a team, but the members from both schools can also share practice space. “I really enjoy being a part of the joint team,” said Newman. “It is fun to see kids from Harriton that I don’t usually see and it is also fun to see a new group of kids.” Van Bemmelen echoes similar sentiments. “It’s fun because you meet new kids and it’s more players that come out for the team.” The team is confident that despite the loss of key players at the end of last season, they are primed to win, and to win now.

Class of 2012

After LM’s successful wrestling program faltered last year, going 2-17, there is a lot of hope and optimism heading into this season. “I expect the team to improve on last year’s season, and do better,” said senior Ben Kamens. “We worked hard all year, throughout the off season to get stronger and better and we expect to be better overall as a team.” The Aces are bringing back the entire team from last season. Coaches David Burke, Jim Perri and Pat Lawler expect District qualifying juniors Mark Leitch and Zeke Zimmer to excel again this season. Other juniors Darryl Seligman and Cody Kaplan as well as sophomore Charles Weinberg are also expected to contribute to the team. There was an unusually high

turnout at preseason, including a dynamic group led by the freshman trio of Mason Wilson, Eli Zimmer and Steffen Vestal. The team feels a renewed sense of winning. The Aces have set an important yet attainable goal – beat Harriton. The Aces lost a heartwrenchingly close match to the Rams last season, and beating them will be a major indicator of the success of this campaign. “We have a new start to the wrestling season and I feel that we will definitely be better than last year,” said sophomore Zach Kleiner. Though they are still a long way away from dominating the Central League, the wrestling team has a message to send: they are back, and plan to once again be competitive. “We have to crawl before we can start walking and running,” said Burke.

Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff


Athlete feature: JJ Warshaw, the swimmer and musician Xinran Wang

Class of 2010

Senior JJ Warshaw is not the typical swimmer. Warshaw, who qualified for districts, was a chess tournament champion during his youth, is an accomplished drummer and classical pianist, and served as vocal director in LM’s recent musical. The Merionite sat down with Warshaw to discuss his hobbies, his swimming prowess, and his music career interests. Merionite: So when did you begin swimming? JJ: I basically started swimming when I was born…with my dad. I’d say half of my young life was spent in the pool. I think I’ve lost like ten years of my life because of the chlorine I’ve breathed in. M: Did you like swimming when you started? JJ: When you’re a kid it’s just fun.

You just play in the pool. But then it got pretty competitive. M: When did you start to swim competitively? JJ: I’d say like sixth grade. That’s when I joined a club team – LM Aquatic Club. I guess it was basically the equivalent of a travel team. From ten to twelve, I was amazing. I actually set this record on my summer team for the 50m breast stroke. But then basically I had better technique than everyone else. Now

everyone has just buffed up and can overpower me. M: What’s your best stroke? JJ: Breaststroke. I don’t know why. I’m just terrible at everything else. M: Why do you like swimming? JJ: I just find it a lot of fun to be in the water. I also don’t really need to take showers. Also in competitions, it’s very clear cut who is better than whom. In swimming it’s pretty obvious when you finish before that person. I also like going head to head with someone; it’s kind of like a test of wills. I guess I kind of have that because I’ve been told I don’t like to lose. On that last turn, you can see the guy, and its head to head, who’s gonna win this, all out sprint. Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff You don’t get that

in a team sport, you don’t get that “it’s all on you.” M: Does water temperature affect performance? JJ: Oh god the pools are so cold. For a really big meet, cold water is fine; but for just a casual meet, I hate cold water, my body just shuts down. M: What do you think about while you swim? JJ: Don’t slow down…like c’mon let’s go. Or during that fourth turn if I see the guy next to me, I’m like great, I have to bust my a** to catch him. Sometimes I think about a song that has a fast tempo. There’s one song that works well: “In a Dancing Mood” by Dave Drubek. I’m not a big fan of the pump up song but there’s a breakdown in the middle of the piece with Joe Morello on the drums. And it’s just a really funky beat. When I was a kid I thought of that because it really worked well with my rhythm. M: So let’s talk about music. You’ve

been a percussionist for a while. How did you get into that? JJ: We all had an instrument back in third grade. And I guess I just liked banging things. And then my grandma bought me a drum set. That was a clutch birthday present. M: How did you start playing piano? JJ: I really just started piano because I was interested in composition, and piano’s good composition tool. Then I found myself doing finger exercises so I started taking lessons in 10th grade. I just found it a lot more interesting than drums. I like being able to read notes, especially for composing. M: So where do you see yourself going with this? JJ: Actually I’d probably want to be a conductor and just kind of compose on the side. And definitely more classical stuff. Check for the complete interview!


December 18, 2009


The Merionite

Welcome to Aces basketball

Graphic by Noah Zuares/Staff

Boys’ basketball: moving on to a new era Ethan Goldstein

and throughout the fall on the court and in the weight room to prepare for the season, and I can already see that hard work The Lower Merion basketball team has paying dividends.” Over the summer the experienced a reign of greatness through- team was enrolled in many tournaments, out the years whether it be Kobe Bryant including one in California. While on gracing the hallways of the school, or the west coast, the team traveled up their more recent domination of the state and down the state playing some of the of Pennsylvania. best teams in the naThis year the team tion, including Taft hopes to do the High School, one of same, only with a the top high school different cast. The teams in the nation. team has had to The trip served as a adjust after losing great bonding expekey members from rience, and the team previous years and returned with new they have done so vigor and chemistry. with determinaSoon after returning tion and the will home, the team got to succeed. back to business and Since last year resumed practicing. the Aces basketWith a returning ball team has lost squad of seniors and crucial cast memfresh talent, includbers, such as Greg ing sophomore Mike Robbins and HarRobbins, and Junior ley Williamson, Mike Buchwald, but the new team the team is moving seems not to be forward with a new fazed at all. When type of offense to asked about this drive the team in anyear’s team, senior other direction. This Photo courtesy of new form of offense, JJ Hoffstein said, “We have worked Junior Aaron Staley goes up over the called motion ofhard all summer defender in a trip to the West Coast. fense, involves free Class of 2010

movement around the court with certain set rules as to paths the play can take. The “pass and screen away”: players quickly pass the ball to screen for players on the opposite side of the court; the back screen: players in the key look to screen players in order to open up drives to the lane; and the flare screen: player without the ball on the perimeter seeks to set a screen for another player without the ball at the top of the key area. This new form of offense requires more movement and agility from the team, but that is a challenge they are ready for, and have been working on since training began. The team has been working closely with John Griffin and former LM State Finalist All-Star Dan Capkin to hone their offense into a working, opponent burning machine. To complete this transformation the team has also adapted its defense from their old heavy usage of man. After losing key defenders like Eric Stahler, Nick Bibbs, and Vince Weldon, some would say that things aren’t looking too good for the Aces defense. But with 6’ 5” star senior Aaron Staley on the court things seem to be looking up (no pun intended). This year the defense has switched to 1-2-2 zone, meaning one player at around the three point line, two more behind him around the paint, and the last two along the baseline. The Aces hope with this sort of defense they will be able to keep the other teams on their toes and prevent drives towards the net.

Photo courtesy of

Seniors Oliver Cohen and Alon Seltzer lead the team through transition.

With a new set of players, and some familiar ones to guide the way, the team hopes to both transform and to continue being an opposing force in the Central League. As Coach Downer takes the wheel and guides this team in a new direction, the team understands the changes being made and is ready to implement them at the beginning of the season. Look out for the Aces and their new game plan this season.


December 18, 2009


The Merionite

On the basketball court: With high hopes, Lady Aces refuse to lower expectations one player’s journey Mike Buchwald

ing process. Arbitrary comments such as Class of 2011 my “knee is killing me,” or “I’m so sore,” Although basketball has become a made me realize how hard we were playyear-round sport of sorts, nothing quite ing. Yet, we continued to push ourselves, approaches the rigors and strain of the because everyone in the gym wanted a jerweek-long war known harmlessly as sey for themselves and their name on the “tryouts.” As I sit here reflecting on the roster upon the completion of the week. amount of hours my teammates and I Just as I felt I had reached my breaking have put in, it is astonishing to think that point, things started to become easier. Not only a short period of time has passed. because of the content of the practice, but Starting on November 20th, 21 players because I had gotten over the hump. The arrived at Villanova’s athletic and training charged emotions of the first couple days center known as “The Davis Center.” Upon along with our lack of regularity and familentering the building, I could feel the ner- iarity with these lengthy periods had fadvous and excited energy that loomed over ed, and things started to become routine. the large gym, home to a college basketOnce we returned to our home court ball powerhouse. Every member attend- at Bala Cynwyd Middle School, tryouts ing the tryout took a leap of faith, or more became much more X’s and O’s oriented. precisely, one step. We were told that Scrimmaging and freelance basketball once each of us was in the proper mind- took a back seat to perfecting the offense, set, should we take to the floor. An eerie, and working out the kinks in our defense. yet somewhat comforting silence fell over All of our hard work cultivated in a the gym as each person walked over an tri-scrimmage involving us, the Friends imaginary line and into “game mode.” Central School, and Roman Catholic High From there, things erupted. Spirit and School (some of the best competition in encouragement rethe state). This scrimplaced wobbly nerves mage was a gauge for and fearful thoughts. how far we had come in a Yelling and screamshort amount of time. The ing for every made entire team, with people lay up or successful still fighting for spots, as three-pointer was the well as fighting for pride, norm—passion had traveled to St. Joe’s Unireplaced anxiety. For versity with a chip on many of us, this was their shoulder and played countless hours of these two perennial powrepressed hard work ers with hard-nosed deand practice over the fense and determination. summer and in the Being able to hang with preseason emerging teams of that caliber from its hiding place made it completely worth in an almost purely it for the tiresome events emotional form. Howof the previous week. ever, this was merely As I sit here reflecting Photo By Noah Zuares/Staff on the previous weeks, the first three-hour segment of many. The next two days it the aches and bruises I have collected seemed as though many of us were try- are not what matter to me, but rather ing our best to recreate that feeling of in- the pride of knowing that I completed tensity, but it just could not be done. We this grueling, but ultimately rewardall still played hard, but the emotional ing, benchmark. I am fairly certain my high had slightly faded. By the third or teammates feel the same way. We enfourth day, it was evident that our bodies tered banded as a brotherhood and exit had begun to feel the affects of the gruel- into the season in much the same vein.

W. Yang/D. Harris

have to rely more on the role players than in Class of ’11/’10 past years. “Everyone will have to contribThe varsity girls’basketball team is returning ute,” said Hall. “We will have to find a difafter an extremely successful season last year, ferent way to win. Last year we could set up going undefeated in Central League play (16-0) on their way to becoming Central League Champions. The season culminated with a deep run in the PIAA state tournament, with the Aces reaching the third round before falling to a tough Cardinal O’Hara squad that eventually finished second. Overall, the Aces compiled a 26-4 record, marking their most successful season in the past six years. There are some noticeable differences to this year’s team, chief among them the slue of new players that will take the court together for the first time. The core of last year’s team, a quartet of talented seniors that all played an integral role in the team’s success, graduated. One of the four seniors was Molly Hanlon, one of six career 1,000-point scorPhoto by Madeline Berger/Staff ers in Lower Merion history. An allcounty selection in 2008, Hanlon was Girls’ basketball during a scrimmage at BCMS also rewarded a first team all-Central League our offense and score, because we had so nod in 2009, along with teammate Lil Carney. many different offensive threats.” This year When asked about the chemistry of this the team will try to increase the tempo of the year’s team, Head Coach Lauren Pellicane game to create easy opportunities on offense. replied, “After losing four senior starters “We are going to be doing a lot who were all key players and great lead- more fast breaks this year than we ers in our program, team chemistry will did last year,” said junior Lila Jones. be an immediate challenge for this year’s This strategy is contingent upon suffoteam.” Yet she added, “We do have players cating ball pressure, a brand of defense that capable of stepping into important roles and the team hopes will cause many turnovers. leading this team to a successful season.” Turnovers, in turn, will lead to easy scoring As Maroon Madness so well demonstrated, opportunities that Pellicane wants to thrive it is clear that this year’s team is backed by an in- on. “We pride ourselves on being one of the credibly enthusiastic and energetic school spirit. top defensive teams in the area year in and Although the team will struggle to compensate year out,” said Pellicane. She added, “we are for the loss of four incredibly talented seniors, returning a great deal of athleticism which seniors that were leaders both on and off the we will utilize on both ends of the court.” court, LM’s enthusiasm and support could not The team is currently dealing with injube stronger heading into the season’s tip-off. ries, which hampered them last year as well. Senior forward Kiki Worku and junior Their immediate goal is to get healthy, but point guard Sheba Hall lead this youthful, they refuse to use injuries as an excuse. “We but surely talented, squad, with senior Dana are the defending Central League champiAlbalancy, and juniors Lila Jones and Carli ons,” stated Pellicane. “Everyone will be Swartz rounding out the starting lineup. The gunning for us this season as we went unteam recognizes that everybody will have an defeated in league play last year. Our ultiexpanded role this year and that the team will mate goal is to defend that title this year.”

Faces of the Aces


Varsity Ice Hockey Lacrosse

Hobbies: Fave Holiday Song:

Listening to music, hanging out with friends, and

Snowday Forecast: Quote:

Five “The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed.”

Fave Holiday Song: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas Snowday Forecast: Three Quote:


Taylor Votto


Sports: Varsity Cross Country Varsity Basketball Hobbies: Music, horseback riding, movies, sports

Jingle Bell Rock

The best athletes that LM has to offer

Cody Kaplan



Gwen Porter

Griffin Remick

“They can because they think they can.”

Sports: Varsity Cheerleading Varsity Crew Hobbies: Reading, going out with Hobbies: Listen to music, play PS3 friends, listening to music, and eating and dancing Fave Holiday Fave Holiday Song: “Frosty the Snowman” Song: Any Frank Sinatra Sports:

Varsity Wrestling

Snowday Forecast:



Snowday Forecast:


“Two snaps and a twist.” “Whether you think you can Quote: -- Mr. Quinn or you think you can’t, you are right.” - Henry Ford


Volume 81, Issue 3 December 18, 2009


The Merionite

LM’s diving team makes a splash Emily Eisner

Class of 2010

“Diving is like flying…until you’re not,” said senior diver Kelly Dougherty, now beginning her third year on Lower Merion’s diving team. Few students at LM are even aware that the school actually has its very own diving team, yet the diving team still persists in gracing, and sometimes splashing into, the turbulent waters at Saint Joseph University’s pool, the venue that the team will call home this year. Unlike many sports at LM, including some deceivingly team-driven sports like cross-country, diving is an incredibly individual-based sport, dependent on extreme mental focus and personal willpower. Senior Kelly Dougherty, co-captain of the team, expressed that diving is an individual sport supported by a wonderful group of people. “Camaraderie is great and team huddles are great, but when it comes down to it, div-

embark on, and even the slightest noise, like a cough or hiccup can be a major distraction. That’s when injuries occur.” To the two co-captains, Dougherty and senior Marta Bean, it seems that the most difficult threshold to pass in learning how to dive is

overcoming the fear of injury. “I think all you need to learn to dive is the ability to disconnect from fear that you’re going to hurt yourself. Diving is dangerous, but for some reason, the only people who ever get hurt are the ones worried that they’s all mental!” said Bean. Dougherty agreed, recounting her own experience of overcoming this fear. “When I first started, fear dominated my form. And then I landed flat on my back, stomach, face, legs, and arms enough so that I was no longer afraid of the pain. I’d experienced the worst— at one point I had bruises like splatter paint from the water—and once you know you’ve seen the worst, the fear goes away. And all of a sudden an entire world opened up.” With five main different types of dives – front, Photo courtesy of Madeline Berger/Staff back, inward, reSenior Kelly Dougherty performs the difficult “reverse” dive. verse, and twist – ing is an individual sport,” said Dougherty. and many variations of these different catAs she stands on the board, ready to thrust egories depending on how many twists one into a dive, Dougherty’s face sobers and of- incorporates, it is easy to understand how ten she close her eyes, preparing mentally different people can have different abilifor the flip, turn, and plunge into the water. ties and fears. Bean admits, “I’m so afraid Paul Speicher, LM’s swimming coach of reverses,” a dive that involves jumping commented that this concentration is “the forward off the board and then thrusting most difficult part of diving. During meets, yourself backward into a flip, a dive that all of the chattering and distractions go- can easily result in injury from hitting the ing on make it very difficult for divers to board. Bean continued, however, that focus on the dive that they are about to “I’m never afraid of any backwards dives.”

To the members of the team, each dive is a matter of conquering their individual fears. Each member has slightly different fears and strengths when it comes to competing. While some are extremely practiced, solid, and beautiful at performing less challenging dives, others are less precise but have the ability to take on more challenging dives, like the “reverse.”

“You begin to learn by trying. Diving is a sport where you absolutely cannot be uncommitted. If you do not believe 100 % in what you are throwing, it won’t work,” said Dougherty. The three-year varsity member keeps working to progress in diving because, “it gets boring, being limited by fear. You want to move on and try new things, and sometimes that hurts, but after a while you get to a point where you would have to royally mess up to reach new pain limits.” Fear aside, both co-captains agree that diving simulates an experience similar to flight. “Diving feels awesome when it’s done right; it’s sort of like you’re flying for a very short amount of time,” said Bean. “The only thing is that the actual dive is so quick that you don’t really feel much until you hit the water. If you do it well, you can always tell according to your entry, and if you mess up, well, you get a nice huge bruise.” Dougherty describes the feeling in her head as she is about to step into a dive as “calm and empty.” “When I’m in the air, my body takes over. It’s like you’ve pre-programmed everything in…I just hope my body follows me where I want to go. It’s almost magical.” And when it comes time to compete, the diving team supports each other as collectively as the actual dives are individual. Normally, three boys and three girls compete from each team, but LM’s team does not include any boys. Each team member performs six different dives

and receives a score out of ten based on each dive. The scores are actually based on an Olympic scale, so a good score for the team’s divers is somewhere between 3 and 5. Dougherty claims that “[she] would be ecstatic if [she] received scores of all fours and fives in a meet.” Without any boys on the team, the girls work very hard to achieve the same quality of dives that boy counterparts would achieve. “The way that boys are shaped allows them to get more height on the board, which makes them naturally better. However, any girl can be just as good if she can work the board the right way!” said Bean. Boys are able to get a higher jump from their “hurdle” (the thrust upward that begins a dive), which allows more airtime to complete for flips and turns. In addition to the construction going on this year, the team is suffering many other limitations. Their pool time has been cut down by half of what it was in Lower Merion’s old pool. Now the team uses only 45 minutes of time with just one diving board, which resulted in the team making its first cuts ever this year. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, each member shows extreme enthusiasm towards the sport. In addition to the wonderful flying feeling that both Bean and Dougherty experience, Dougherty expresses how much of a challenge and quest diving is for her. “It gives me the opportunity… to create something perfect and beautiful. It also gives you so much room to grow. I did not start out a good diver. I had potential, which I still do, but I’ve improved so incredibly much over the past two seasons, and hope to still this season,” said Dougherty. The diving team is working incredibly hard this season to learn and develop as individuals and as a team, competing to be the best. Diving presents a huge mental task that requires very committed and enthusiastic people to attempt, let alone refine and conquer. Each member of the Lower Merion diving team is fighting her own fears, and is working towards having a great season.

Photo courtesy of Madeline Berger/Staff

The Merionite  

December 2009 Issue of The Merionite, The official Student run newspaper of Lower Merion High School

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