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you know you love me In this special report, The Spoke examines the motives behind Gossip Girl’s blog, its impact thus far and any lasting consequences.

xoxo, gossip girl Meghan Morris Co-editor-in-chief


umors surrounding her identity swirled around as quickly as the site went viral—she’s a freshman, or a new senior, probably a popular junior, but definitely a junior girl, maybe a boy. More than 500 Facebook statuses in the Conestoga network proclaimed her alleged intentions: she planned the blog to attack, to inspire, to create drama, to teach, to experiment. No matter her identity or motives, “The Real Gossip Girl” undeniably provoked students’ reactions this winter.

The beginning

They started it on a whim, never expecting that the site would explode, racking up some 50,000 hits in just three days. On Monday, Jan. 17, two upperclassmen girls created a blog, at, and made a Facebook account for “Gretchen Gilroy” (GG). The blog was modeled after the television and book series “Gossip Girl,” which centers around

Catch the love bug See p. 14

Graphic by Meghan Morris, Luke Rafferty, and Sam Winfield

a fictional Gossip Girl blogging about elite Manhattan high school characters. Because the creators of the site have received physical threats online, The Spoke has chosen to conceal their identities; they will be referred to as Meredith Green and Brooke Sweeney. The girls began friending students from every grade on Facebook as GG, and when people messaged back asking about GG’s identity, the girls responded “Send me your dirt, or I’ll just have to find it out myself.” Some students took the request to “send me your dirt” facetiously, posting ridiculous comments on her wall, while others complied, e-mailing her from anonymous addresses. “It’s actually embarrassing—boys taking advantage of drunk girls while their friends watched,” Green said. “It makes me sick that all this goes on behind closed doors, then people post it on Facebook to an anonymous person.” See VIRAL, p. 4

Students support democracy overseas

Laura Weiss News Editor

Editor’s note: After 18 days of riots, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak officially resigned on Feb. 11, ending three decades of autocratic rule. As a democratic revolution heightened in Egypt, freshman Amro Amin longed to support the people of his homeland. Unable to physically help his cousins who were standing guard to protect their apartment building in Egypt, he tried to support his loved ones in every possible way. On Jan. 25, protests began in Egypt that quickly spread through the country’s major cities. After 30 years of autocratic rule by President Hosni Mubarak, millions of Egyptians began to protest for a transition to democracy. Though protests began peacefully, some violence erupted as protesters clashed with police and government supporters. For some students and teachers at Conestoga, the revolution hits close to home. Amin fears for the safety of his relatives and friends living in Egypt, where his entire family is from. “It’s frightening because at any moment, especially during these protests, [my family] could get hurt,” Amin said. He said that he supports the revolution and hopes the country will be able to win democracy, but is unhappy with the constant danger the revolution poses. Amin has no idea whether his friends in Egypt, some of whom were participating in the protests, are safe. “Each day it keeps getting more extreme,” Amin said. “I just want it to be over soon.” Amin participated in a Washington, D.C. demonstration supporting democracy in Egypt on Feb. 5. “By demonstrating, I want [President Mubarak] to know that other people in other countries are saying that he should go too, not just the Egyptians, and our voices need to be heard too,” Amin said. See REVOLUTION, p. 3


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Take a behind-thescenes look at what goes into producing “Good Morning ’Stoga.”



Controversy over a novel idea Lavi Ben-Dor Staff Reporter In American Literature classes, it is not unusual for the class to read American classics, anaylzing quotes and themes. But this choice becomes touchier when a novel has more than 200 uses of the “n” word. Publishing company NewSouth Books is releasing a 2011 censored version of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” which is read as part of Conestoga’s American Literature course. In this version, the “n” word is replaced with “slave,” among other edits. Though ’Stoga is not planning to purchase the new version, this censorship raises questions about what form of the novel should be offered to students. Sophomore Katherine Connolly said that a censored book cannot be used as a substitute for the original.

“It’s okay if you publish a censored version of a book, but you shouldn’t replace [the original] with the censored version,” Connolly said. Senior Chiraag Nataraj is against the censorship, and said that offering students censored books is worse than not offering those books at all. “It’s better to not keep [a book] in a library than to keep a censored form

is a good thing because no one really needs to use it.” With all the controversy surrounding the novel, some teachers, including American Literature teacher Laura Viviano, held discussions about the debate over the new censored version of “Huck Finn” in their classes. “The vast majority of [students] take the stance that it is beneficial to read this literature and to be aware of objections to the literature rather than not read it,” Viviano said. Since the Conestoga library is the principle source of books for students, the literary content that librarians choose to provide is critical. “As librarians, we really respect and value freedom of speech,” librarian Cathy Bond said. “We want students to have access to lots of different ideas [and] information.”

“It’s better to not keep [a book] in the library than to keep a censored form.”

Check out photos of the Jan. 13 competition for speech and debate club VOICES and view The Spoke’s new daily photo blog at

- Senior Chiraag Nataraj because then the person might not read the original content and may lose some of the vividness or some of the original atmosphere,” Nataraj said. Unlike Nataraj, junior and African American Student Union board member Raven Dorsey sees the edits to “Huck Finn” as a step in the right direction. “The phrasing is still offensive,” Dorsey said. “Getting rid of that word

Lavi Ben-Dor can be reached at

Pioneer Posts: upcoming in community There will a School Board Finance Committee meeting tonight, Feb. 14, at 7:30. The meeting will take place at the T/E Administrative Offices. The committee will discuss the 2011-12 budget, which has gained preliminary approval from the school board. The district is currently facing an $8.8 million deficit. This week, Key Club is holding Teacher Wars, an event to raise money for the March of Dimes. Students can choose which teacher’s fund to donate, and the one who gets the most money will have to do a stunt, like wearing a banana suit, for one week. Former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil will host an event at Meredith’s Bistro in Berwyn to benefit the recovery of 2000 ’Stoga grad Jay Raffetto. While serving in Afghanistan, Raffetto was badly injured. The Feb. 24 event will raise funds for him and his family. Students in the music department are rehearsing for this year’s spring musical, “Phantom of the Opera.” The show, which features operatic vocals and a crashing chandelier, will run from March 1-6. Discounted tickets are available for student purchase. Photo courtesy Andrea Iezzi

Senior Ben Hartshorn takes down Ridley during his 100th wrestling win on Feb. 9. Hartshorn, who started wrestling in middle school, was recruited to compete at Davidson College in North Carolina next year.

Because of four school cancellations from weather this winter, students will attend school on March 4 and 28. The dates were previously designated as inservice days for teachers, but were changed after the Feb. 2 snow day. Each of the four snow days has added an extra day of school into the district calendar.




Revolution at home: Egypt riots spark ’Stoga support

Continued from p. 1

Amin said that he demonstrated alongside a couple hundred people, some of whom shared their concerns for their families in Egypt. Social studies teacher Muna Elshakhs, whose father is Egyptian, also participated in demonstrations supporting democracy. She said that she has a cousin who was participating in the protests in Egypt, and that the revolution is close to her heart. “My first thought was it’s very exciting because I feel like so many countries since the Cold War have been able to gain democracy for themselves and this is clearly the moment where the Arab world is trying to win democracy so it’s a very exciting time,” Elshakhs said. “But I also knew very early that Mubarak wasn’t going to go down without a fight.” Elshakhs said that she believes the Internet was an important tool for sparking the revolution and that democracy will lead to greater peace. To show her support for a democratic Egypt, Elshakhs demonstrated at the United Nations building in New York City on Jan. 30 with her family. “I think right now what’s crucial is that international sentiment can help tip the balance so the idea of the rally was, one, to show support for the pro-democracy protesters in Egypt and, two, to encourage international groups like the U.N. to put more pressure on the regime to step down,” Elshakhs said. She added that she is still trying to find more ways to help, and she encourages students to listen for opportunities to get involved. For Elshakhs, the protest was a good start, but she left wishing for more ways to show her support. “You want to be able to do more and it’s just hard sitting and watching and wondering,” Elshakhs said. “The people in these countries are fighting for what we have every day.” Sophomore Lauren Seedor was

Photos courtesy Amro Amin and Muna Elshakhs

Top left: Galena Elshakhs, daughter of social studies teacher Muna Elshakhs, braves the cold at a demonstration in New York City. Top right: Freshman Amro Amin demonstrates with other Egypt revolution supporters at an event in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 5. Bottom: Supporters for a democratic Egypt display signs and march at a demonstration in Washington, D.C. despite snow and ice. on vacation in Israel when protests broke out in Egypt. Though nearby, Seedor said that news of the riots reached her slowly. “It was a shock because [my family] had no knowledge,” Seedor said. “It felt like it was a totally different place.” Seedor said that her family was somewhat worried about being so close to the turmoil in Egypt. Arthur Rovine, who worked as head of the Treaties Office as As-

sistant Legal Advisor for Legal Affairs in the State Department, is no stranger to dealing with this type of turmoil. Currently working in New York City as an international lawyer, Rovine was present at Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations in 1979 and helped look over the treaty documents. “Part of the price that [the Egyptian government] extracted from [the U.S.], as did Israel, was a lot of aid—a lot—in return for signing the peace treaty with Israel and also there was military aid—that’s what they really wanted,” Rovine said. “I think they’ll probably want to keep the peace treaty in return for keeping the military aid flowing.” In response to worries over the price of oil if the had Egyptians closed the Suez Canal, Rovine said that he thinks the Egyptian military wanted to keep the canal open for

the money and to avoid conflict. He also explained the U.S.’s reasons for supporting democratic protesters in Egypt versus Mubarak, who has been an American ally. “If we don’t tell the world we’re in favor of democracy and freedom and all the things this country stands for, then we look like hypocrites and it’s bad,” Rovine said. “But on the other hand, we are an ally of 30 years standing.” Rovine said that American officials will be in constant meetings as events in Egypt proceed. “They don’t know enough either,” Rovine said. “They don’t know how it’s all going to play itself out.” Senior Sherean Ali is concerned about violence in Cairo, where her uncle works as a banker. Ali’s aunt was forced to leave her house following the arrival of protesters, but her uncle remains in Egypt.

“I’m very mixed about [the protests]—I think it’s for a good cause,” Ali said. “But at the same time, it’s worrisome because I hope that the revolution that happens is for the better and somebody doesn’t use it to take advantage and become a dictator.” Ali said that she hopes the revolt will create a successful democracy that could serve as a model for the rest of the Middle East. She has not participated in any local demonstrations as of yet, but said she would like to. “I think everybody deserves the right to freedom,” Ali said. “The only way we can live in tolerance is if all our rights are respected.” Staff reporter Lavi Ben-Dor contributed to this story. Laura Weiss can be reached at




Gossip blog goes viral, triggering applause, outrage

Continued from p. 1

Two hours after its creation, the site’s hits exploded as students from every grade posted the link as their statuses. Comments began pouring onto GG’s Facebook page and into her inbox, wildly exceeding the girls’ expectations. That night, “we realized the impact it could have. Everyone was creating a commotion about it and people were actually starting to talk about it,” Green said. As Green and Sweeney built up their Facebook persona, they added posts to their blog. They drew one important distinction between the site and the television “Gossip Girl:” while the show’s blog targets individuals by name, the girls said that they wanted to make a larger statement about gossip without hurting any students. For three days, the girls added short posts about Conestoga, then ended the blog with a final post warning students about dangers of gossip. They did not post the “dirt” that was e-mailed to them. Instead, Green said the posts came “half from personal experiences, half from observation.” “We tried to think of things off the top of our minds,” Green said. “We didn’t want to get in trouble with the administration, so we didn’t put any names.” Principal Amy Meisinger said that, since the girls did not pose a disruption to the school environment, the administration chose not to publicly acknowledge the site. “We’re treating it as an outside school matter and we’re not pursuing,” Meisinger said. “If it became a threat to school or educational environment, we would [step in]. At this point we’re not pursuing anything.”

Singled out

Some posts were general, such as the Jan. 19 entry focusing on freshmen who gather in the restrooms before school: “when I walk into the bathrooms, I am walking into a woodsy area filled with naked (you guys like your mid-drifts), rampant raccoons as you struggle to smear that last smudge of Maybelline.” Others were more specific, targeting cliques in every grade, from the freshmen congregating in Mario’s Pizza in Berwyn to seniors partying on “Tuesday Boozeday” (the name came from a Facebook album title created earlier this year

One status generated more than 50 comments directed toward one sophomore girl, which Green said exemplified the viral nature of gossip for this generation. “It shows how we’re so dependent on technology, and how gossip is so heavily weighted on the Internet,” Green said. “All this gossip makes us so insecure, and technology has made teens reliant on each other.” Callahan compared the blog to the “slam books” of previous generations, where students would write about each other and pass a physical book around school. “The big difference is that your generation has this media magnification, where everyone has the opportunity to live out loud and post their every move on Facebook and blogs,” Callahan said. “Living life in a 24-hour news cycle doesn’t give one a whole lot of time to pause for reflection.” When bloggers and Facebook Jan. 21 Jan. 22 users do not stop to think before Graphic by Luke Rafferty posting, it can often lead to more adolescent addictions therapist at psychological damage than faceChristiana Hospital in Delaware, to-face bullying, Mariani said. disagrees with the girls’ self-as“If that other person was sitsessment, noting hypocrisy in their ting right next to them when they approach. wrote it, and they “The real GG could see the reGo online to isn’t a social action—the tears, worker or a psyfrustration, anger, chologist, so it’s embarrassment— difficult for her they wouldn’t do for a Q&A with GG to understand it,” Mariani said. the impact of “But the Internet what she wrote has created a situaand how that would impact other tion where kids can hide behind a people,” Callahan said. “I have a computer screen.” hard time thinking of the real GG Though Mariani sees lasting as being altogether altruistic in her individual impacts, Meisinger motives. It’s a hypocritical stance said that, because students have so to say ‘everyone gossips too much’ many other distractions, this blog when she’s doing it in a way that’s will fade as quickly as it began. gossipy.” “The amount of information students process on a daily basis online, whether it’s on Facebook or Media magnification In just three days—from Jan. other social media, makes this one 17, when the girls put up the first thing out of many things and I cerpost, to Jan. 19, when they added tainly don’t see that it will have a their last blog—the site illustrated lasting impact,” she said. While gossip about GG may the problems and instant impacts of arguably the most technological subside quickly, Mariani warns that posts from GG and students can generation yet. The site could not have achieved stay archived online forever. “My question is whether or not such high numbers without Facebook, which Green, Sweeney and students recognize the damage that their supporters used to spread the they do to our school community blog while detractors posted pro- when their names are attached to the high school’s name on Facefane videos and comments. Some of these statuses turned book,” Mariani said. “This is not a into direct, personal attacks on stu- good thing for Conestoga at all.” See REFLECTIONS, p. 6 dents accused of creating the site.

Number of hits on Gossip Girl’s blog 18,000 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000

Jan. 18

Jan. 19

by one of the students at a Tuesday night party). Sophomore Emily Newman took issue with the way her group of friends, known as the “Party Rock Crew,” were portrayed on the site. In a post titled “Cougar Hunting,” Green and Sweeney wrote about the group’s exploits, saying that they are “a group of sophomore girls that just love to flaunt their mid-drifts and coax the boys on.” GG noted in the post that the group’s escapades were wellknown on Facebook through albums from the past year. But Newman said that her group does not deserve this public ridicule. “What motivated her to write

Jan. 20

about and target us?” Newman said. “I’m curious to know what made her mad. We usually stay within our own social system.” Newman, a Peer Mediator, brought the site to team adviser Marcia Mariani’s attention. Mariani said that some students hurt by the site have sought counsel from Student Services and Peer Mediation. “There was a dilemma: this site was happening off school grounds, but what spilled into school was gossip,” Mariani said. “Your safety, your well being, your ability to function as a student is very important to us.”

By the numbers:

52,019 3 18,616 total views [Feb. 12]

days of active blog posts

views on Jan. 20


Though Newman and others felt singled out, Green and Sweeney insist that they revealed what students needed to hear, and that most of the parties and gossip were public on Facebook before the blog. “Everyone was getting so angry that we were telling the truth, when everyone says that stuff anyway, and it’s ten times worse because it’s behind their backs,” Green said. “They’re just scared to say it to their faces. Our school is all about gossip—you tell one person, they tell another and in two days that was how our blog spread.” But Brian Callahan, an






Slacktivism provides more opportunities at click of a mouse

Abby Pioch Staff Reporter Before social media, students who wanted to support a cause had to leave their houses or donate their time to make a difference. Today, people have the ability to show their support through social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter without getting off their couches. Now, instead of doing a breast cancer charity walk, people can simply make their Facebook icon pink. A student can follow a club on Twitter without the effort of having to attend club meetings. Because this new type of activism is becoming popular, especially among young people, a new term has been coined to describe it. “Slacktivism” describes online activism that does not have a direct positive impact for its cause. Sophomore Maureen Quinn said that she sees slacktivism as a legitimate problem and that society is trying to get the “easy fix” by choosing to take the simple way out, rather than actively fighting to make a difference.

“It’s kind of like brushing [work] off on others and not really wanting to do anything yourself,” Quinn said. People “might not put forward as much effort as they have before.” In a survey of 75 students by The Spoke, 76 percent said that they have joined a Facebook group, changed a social-networking status or profile picture or re-posted a message online to contribute to a cause. Fifty-six percent of students also said they would be more likely to take these measures than to donate money or participate in an event if they wanted to help a cause. Key Club adviser Leanne Pretz said she has seen slacktivism firsthand while running the community service club, which is based on active involvement. “It’s nice if students say they support a cause, but they are not really supporting it if they are not doing anything about it,” Pretz said. Pretz also said that she believes slacktivism is a result of students’ desires to do something good, but that their lack of follow-through makes these desires meaningless.

“Teenagers generally want to be activists, and they want to be seen as supporting causes and that’s good, but they don’t always know what to do, or how to do anything,” Pretz said. “I think that might be one reason why [teenagers] are drawn to [slacktivism].” Freshman Alex Arena is one student who said he tends to be a slacktivist, but said he thinks that slacktivism is effective solely in cases where it informs people about various topics of which they may be unaware. He used social media to try to make a difference about a cause he is passionate about: the Iranian Revolution. But in addition to making his Facebook profile picture green, Arena participated in protests to support the revolution. Slacktivism “is a good thing even if you’re not getting out there and doing something,” Arena said. “If it causes someone to [help], then it’s good.”

In the spirit of this article, our designers decided to just morally support the concept that this page needs a graphic element. Their hope was that someone else would heed the call but... No one did.

Abby Pioch can be reached at

Graphic by Luke Rafferty and Sam Winfield

Getting buzzed: Caffeine poses threat to student health Maddie Amsterdam & Claire Moran Staff Reporters It’s not even third period yet, but junior Nick Nalbone is downing his third cup of coffee. Between schoolwork and practices for the varsity swim and crew teams, Nalbone said he barely has enough time to get everything done. “Coffee is my solution,” he said. Some coffee drinkers, like Nalbone, use caffeine to ward off drowsiness and increase alertness. However, Chester County Hospital dietitian Maureen Boccella said that although caffeine can have temporary stimulating effects in students, she would not recommend that teenage athletes use it regularly. Athletes “should look at what they’re really trying to accomplish,” Boccella said. “I don’t think that you need to resort to using these caffeinated beverages that are out there.” Boccella recommends a healthy diet and adequate hydration for athletic performance, since caffeine can affect an athlete’s blood pressure, heart rate and gastrointestinal tract. Although Nalbone ingests two times the suggested amount of caf-


Don’t consume any coffee


Consume one cup daily


Consume more than 2 cups daily

Graphic by Luke Rafferty

Statistics are from a survey of 94 students by The Spoke. Coffee proves a common daily fix for some students, but a dependency on caffeine, which can be considered an addictive substance, is not without its drawbacks. feine per day, he said that he has not by researchers at Johns Hopkins Students outside the athletic world experienced serious negative side ef- University, Nalbone’s symptoms can also feel these types of negative confects. However, he said he believes he be attributed to caffeine withdrawal. sequences. In a survey of 94 students has formed a dependence on caffeine Other symptoms of the condition by The Spoke, 13 percent reported that may not be good for him. include headaches, nervousness, that they drink at least two cups of “If I don’t drink my coffee before irritability and sleepiness. Caffeine coffee every day. Out of the students I go it’s just really hard for me to stay withdrawal symptoms are similar who said they consume enough cafawake and function,” Nalbone said. “I to those of more serious drugs, and feine to suffer possible negative side think I have a serious addiction.” it can be considered an addictive effects, 19 percent said that they have According to studies conducted substance. experienced them.

Freshman Lauren Graziani said that she has a caffeine dependence: she usually drinks two cups of coffee per day and experiences negative effects after the caffeine wears off. “I get tired and I fall asleep during class,” Graziani said. “I’ll fall asleep if I don’t [drink it].” For some students, coffee is not their only way of getting a caffeine boost—they are exploring other ways to get their fix. In addition to his daily cup of coffee, junior Brody Shea drinks a Red Bull energy drink before every ice hockey game. He said that about three-fourths of the team uses some sort of energy drink before games. “It’s a trend; we all use it,” Shea said. “We all just need that extra boost after a full week of schoolwork and practice.” Shea said that using the highenergy drinks has its benefits, but the dependency is not without its consequences. “It makes me a lot quicker, and almost jittery,” Shea said. “I’m never tired when I use it before a game. I don’t want to be out there on the ice if I don’t have it.” Maddie Amsterdam can be reached at




Alumni donations take FLITE to support community Stetson Miller Staff Reporter After a reunion filled with balloons, smiles and stories of their time in high school, Conestoga alumni from the Class of 1990 came together to make a generous donation to FLITE, the Foundation for Learning in Tredyffrin/ Easttown. Founded in 2006, FLITE is a local nonprofit educational foundation with a goal to make it possible for all students in the district’s schools to reach their full potential. Through its $800 donation in October, the Class of 1990 hopes to aid this effort. Coming together through both Facebook and word of mouth, the class wanted to give back to the community and to the schools they grew up in. “It seemed like a natural fit. [FLITE] supports the T/E School District. We all graduated from the T/E School District and most of us spent our whole education through

the T/E School Disrict,” said 1990 graduate Betsie Yagley Stone. FLITE communications director Chris Caine said that FLITE hopes to create opportunities for all students in the T/E School District. “We don’t want anybody to be denied a quality education because they don’t have access to resources,” Caine said. Among other efforts, FLITE aids Conestoga students by providing free SAT preparation, college application workshops and college application books. They organization also offers computers and graphing calculators for students in the district who cannot afford them. “Public schools are really restricted in their budget, nowadays especially, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to provide early education or that they don’t want to make sure that every child has a computer in their home,” Caine said. “[We’re] trying to help identify groups of kids that need help.”

C.A.S.E., the Conestoga Alumni Supporting Excellence, also donated to FLITE, giving $3,500 raised at their annual fall golf outing event. C.A.S.E. was founded by alumni to give back to the T/E community and support its schools. C.A.S.E. has been making donations from money raised at their events to FLITE for the past few years. 1965 graduate Carol Freeman, a member of C.A.S.E., said that the group’s goal is to give students the opportunities she had during the “happy days” of high school. “FLITE is definitely one of the best areas we could channel our support to,” Freeman said. Students in Conestoga’s FLITE Club also believe in the importance of supporting the larger organization, which they regularly help out. The student club supports FLITE by fundraising through bake sales, providing aid to individual students and lending a hand at FLITE’s events.

Reflections on the Gossip Girl blog

Continued from p. 4

Three weeks later, the girls have few regrets about their threeday stint as the most talked-about gossip in recent memory. Their identity remains a secret, and while the rumors have subsided, students still talk about GG in the halls and online. Not much has changed—there have been no school-wide assemblies, nor are there plans for any administrative response. Senior Pablo Mora, president of the Anti-Defamation League, noted that the girls’ message about gossipping, while perhaps self-serving or hypocritical, reached students in a way that assemblies and Peer Mediation cannot. “What school groups are doing—discussing with classrooms— is the best way, but at the same time she had a bigger impact in a weird way; people discussed it more,” Mora said. Unless there are monitored discussions in a school environment, Callahan, the psychologist, said he doubts the effectiveness of the site. “In terms of a lasting impact, I would be very surprised if a blog like this does anything except peak

people’s curiousity,” Callahan said. Because the blog lasted for just three days, with no planned response from the school, he doubts the effectiveness of the girls’ lesson. “I’m sure they got people to notice,” Callahan said. “But to have a lasting impact, you need to have many points of view and I don’t think that blog was common ground.” Green agrees that the blog may not influence students in the longterm, but said that the benefits outweighed the cost. It “really shocking at the reactions and how much our school came together over that one idea,” Green said. “Looking back over three weeks, I think it’s so amazing

how something grew to be that big and deflated so fast.” In the girls’ last post, they urged students to “THINK about the impact of gossip, THINK about the impact of words, THINK about the impact of the truth, and what happens when it all blows up in your face.” But time will tell if this idealistic vision will come to the hallways of Conestoga. “I don’t think that people will take initiative and change,” Sweeney said. “That would be really revolutionary if that happened.” Meghan Morris can be reached at

Photo courtesy Sheryl Roche

Seniors Rachel Skelly (left) and Pooja Ghosh, both members of FLITE, work at a fundraiser. The student club supports the larger organization. “People don’t generally tend to think of the Main Line as an area where people don’t have that much money,” said senior and FLITE club president Steve Roche. “In

reality, there are people that are struggling every day.” Stetson Miller can be reached at

Opinion MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2011

The Spoke is published seven times a year at Bartash Printing. It consistently receives the Gold Award from the Pennsylvania School Press Association and is a National School Press Association Pacemaker awardwinning publication. The Spoke serves as a public forum for student expression. Editors-in-Chief: Liz Bravacos, Meghan Morris Managing Editor: Reshma Gouravajhala Production Editor: Luke Rafferty News Editor: Laura Weiss Features Editor: Mary Turocy Sports Editor: Erin O'Neil Copy Editor: K.C. McConnell Operations Director: Anjuli Patel Business Manager: Heather Ward Cartoonist: Gabriela Epstein Graphic Design: Margot Field, Karolis Panavas, Brooke Weil, Sam Winfield Staff: Maddie Amsterdam, Kelly Benning, Lavi Ben-Dor, Dana Bronzino, Tracy Cook, Allison Kozeracki, David Kramer, Daniel McConnell, Stetson Miller, Claire Moran, Patrick Nicholson, Emily Omrod, Abby Pioch, Sophia Ponte, Dolly Prabhu, Brittany Roker, Emily Seeburger, Jenna Spoont, Shwetha Sudhakar, Neel Thakur, Julianne Vallotton, Natalie West, Haley Xue Faculty Advisers: Susan Houseman, Cynthia CrothersHyatt

Culminating project The Spoke agrees with implementation of new option When Pennsylvania’s education department announced that it had modified requirements for the statewide culminating project, students discovered that they now could choose a new option. Conestoga students in the past have, in order to fulfill this graduation requirement, designed career-related or vocational projects, engaged in community service-related tasks or taken various enrichment courses. However, starting with the 2014 school year, Pennsylvania students can complete a college application as a culminating project. This modification has angered many ’Stoga students, namely those individuals who have already completed their culminating projects. The students who are opposed to this new proposal argue that by simply completing (and not even submitting) a college application— something that, according to the Student Services office, 96 percent of Conestoga students do—high school students are not learning how to analyze and evaluate information, communicate significant knowledge or display understanding of a subject. However, before students criticize this new option as being too simple to qualify as a culminating project, consider that the culminating project is a statewide requirement. Not all schools in Pennsylvania have the same standards of education as Conestoga; we attend a school currently ranked, according to USA Today, 79th best in the United States, where tech-

nology-related projects, oral presentations and reflection essays are the norm. In other areas of the state, a student might not have such opportunities; therefore, the state-required culminating project offers him a chance to incorporate new elements into the curriculum. At Conestoga, the culminating project has become a source of unnecessary paperwork, a burden that can now be avoided with this new option. Our school can focus on programs that are personalized to fit our high standard instead of forcing students to create culminating projects that test skills that are already demonstrated in class. Take, for example, the process of becoming a Certified Oral Presenter: a student must fill out a form three times over the course of his high school career and present in front of classmates, thereby making sure that he is demonstrating skills that are necessary for success. This opportunity allows students to incorporate the paperwork into their daily curriculum while also allowing them to excel. Filling out a college application seems easy compared to some projects done in the past. Applying for college is a part of our regular school custom, so much so that when it is offered as a graduation requirement, some of us feel that it is a trite and inaccurate measurement of readiness for the future. Yet it is also a state requirement, meant to encompass all schools’ standards, not just those of a school that is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best.

Submissions The Spoke will print letters of general interest to the student body and community. Signed letters under 200 words may be submitted to Susan Houseman, Cynthia Hyatt, Liz Bravacos or Meghan Morris. Unsigned editorials represent the views of The Spoke editorial board, and not necessarily those of the administration, student body, community or advertisers. The opinions expressed in signed columns are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinion of The Spoke.

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From the Editor

All you need is love As a child, I was brainwashed. In my house, if you don’t want to listen to 70’s classic rock, you put on earphones.Take a look at my iTunes library and you’ll see what I mean—among my most played songs are “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas and The Who's "Who Are You." Though The Beatles were more 60’s rock, John, Paul, George and Ringo nevertheless played an integral role during my childhood. Their 1967 hit, “All You Need is Love,” certainly reflects the sentiments behind today’s Hallmark card holiday. By listening to The Fab Four croon that “It’s easy” to love, we can all surely step back and find something to appreciate this Valentine’s Day. For one thing, the average U.S. consumer will spend about $116 this holiday on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. Total spending nationwide is expected to exceed $15 billion. If that isn’t helping the economy, I don’t know what is. If you aren’t lucky enough to be paired up with an average U.S. consumer and therefore will not be on the receiving end of that $116, perhaps you can eat away your loneliness with a few candy hearts. The National Confectioners Association reported that eight billion of the aforementioned treats were made in 2009, definitely a fact for your sweet tooth to savor. But if the economy and sugar really aren’t of interest to you, at least there's still The Beatles. Their 1964 release “Can’t Buy Me Love” may stand as a stark contradiction to the options I’ve already listed, yet if you’re looking for something deeper than “Be Mine” etched into a sugary heart, this song’s title is a good place to start. Removing yourself from material items like greeting cards and Cadbury chocolates, even momentarily, may allow you to reflect on the real loves in your life. Today’s holiday gives us symbols to represent our appreciation of others, but what’s so hard about recognizing each other’s worth without the red, white and pink glitz? The true reason for Valentine’s Day, beyond the economic boost, is taking time to value those close to you. So buy your significant other a dozen roses or boxes of Necco Sweethearts for your friends—or don’t. Either way, know that Valentine’s Day offers a lot to love for people of any relationship status. Liz Bravacos can be reached at




e’s Day ValentFin OR Most important thing to remember?

“Flowers, especially roses”

Freshman Andrew Buchan

“That it’s Valentine’s Day”

Sophomore Caroline Deakins

“A nice holiday card”

Junior Natalie Houck-Meloni

“Chocolate, especially Hershey’s Kisses”

Senior Dan Baetiong

2011 Edition

Erin O’Neil Sports Editor


Flowers are not only a timeless classic but also a great way to send a nice message to your significant other. Roses signify joy, love and beauty; alas, dandelions do not. True, your front lawn is conveniently located and more reasonably priced than the nearest florist, but if you’re planning on going homem a d e the least you can do is dust off the snow, cut off the frozen roots and add in a little crabgrass for decoration. Most importantly, know what you’re putting in the bouquet. Nothing says amateur like some accidentally arranged poison ivy.


Cards are a great way to give the impression of thoughtfulness to your last-minute gift, but they have to be treated carefully. An acrostic poem written on the back of your math homework doesn’t exactly scream romance—yes, even though you wrote in bubble letters and dotted the i’s with hearts. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, Hallmark does it better, but picking the perfect card still takes time, and it’s im-

portant to remember for whom you are shopping. Avoid illegible script fonts and anything that uses the words “god o f m y i d o l a t r y.” Stay away from anything with a ring on it; you may have accidentally crossed over into the wedding section. Avoid like the plague cards with cartoons of old ladies enjoying Valentine’s Day with their cats—that’s just cruel. In the end, anything with cute animals is your best bet. With any luck, your significant will be so taken with the puppy dressed as cupid, he/she will overlook your sad attempts at poetic composition. Or the fact that you spelled his/her name wrong.


When it comes to candy, it’s all in the packaging. No one will ever complain about cocoa to sugar ratios, but the second half of a Rite Aid-brand chocolate bar, no matter how neatly you taped up the open end, might garner a raised eyebrow or two. Once you’ve selected a suitable brand, make sure to scrutinize the label before purchasing. Anything lowfat, sugar-free or Weightwatchers-branded is unquestionably off limits. The dollar you save with a coupon won’t make up for the fact that “Lose up to 12 pounds in three months!” is written on the side. When it comes to candy, Valentine’s Day is a time of indulgences, ignored nutrition facts and creamy caramel centers.

A practic guide to al gettin through the holid g love with a out cuts y of , b ruis scratche s or brok es, en hearts.

There’s a reason why New Year’s resolutions end in February—it’s the Whitman’s Sampler.


It’s easy to come up with a good gift, but it’s just as easy to come up with a bad one. Self-help books, coffee mugs with faces on them, power tools, gift cards and anything hygienerelated are heading down the road of impending loneliness. Jewelry is a safe bet, but it’s important to keep it classy. If you’re considering a necklace or pair of earrings, make yourself a checklist. Is it made of plastic? Is it covered in rhinestones? Glitter? Both? Does it light up or glow in the dark? Is it edible? If you answered yes to any of these questions, put it back on the shelf. It will not be the best $3.99 you ever spent. Try shopping in a different section: stuffed animals are an affordable (and not to mention adorable) gift to give, but there are still some ground r u l e s . Anything that you won in an arcade should be left at home. Anything with more than six legs, two eyes or an exoskeleton probably isn’t the best idea either.


Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day almost always requires a reservation. If a restaurant can take walk-ins on its busiest night of the year then it’s either already bankrupt or first in line to give you and your date food poisoning. And, just for clarification, fast food is not a clever short cut to

eating out without having to call ahead. Just because you ordered a Valentine’s Day McFlurry doesn’t make McDonalds any more… sanitary. If you forget to make a reservation, cooking spaghetti for your significant other has been a romantic fall-back since “The Lady and the Tramp” first premiered. Wear an apron and make a big show of boiling the water. When the food is ready, light some candles (preferably not the birthday kind) and serve with a flourish! Just remember that it’s tactless to ask your significant other to do the dishes afterwards, especially if silverware has been piling up in the sink since last week.

Damage control

If you forget Valentine’s Day, the worst thing in the world you can do is admit your mistake. Say tearfully over the phone that you’re suffering an early onset of Alzheimer’s. Make up a relative (“you don’t remember me telling you about Uncle Albert?”) and set his/her untimely death to, you guessed it, Feb. 14. Above all, avoid face to face confrontation. If inevitable, the best thing you can do is claim to be a conscientious objector of the holiday. Wear black and try to use the word “establishment” as often as you can. You might want to hide out in Canada for a few years too because, honestly, what kind of a person forgets Valentine’s Day?

Gabriela Epstein cartoons/The SPOKE




Turn the page on poverty: donate children’s books

Reshma Gouravajhala Managing Editor Once upon a time, in a land far far away, when I was about three years old, I learned how to read. While I don’t remember this moment in the slightest, my mom assures me that I enjoyed “Peter Pan” very much, all ten times I read it. Since then, I’ve refined my taste a bit (now preferring to walk through Pemberly with Mr. Darcy as opposed to flying to Neverland with my tightssporting friend) but I will never forget the many hours I’ve spent curled up with a children’s book in hand. Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked friends to list their favorite children’s books and have received enthusiastic responses— ranging from “Do you remember ‘The Magic Tree House’ series?” to “Oh wow, I absolutely adored ‘Sideways Stories from Wayside School’ and the ‘Junie B. Jones’ books.” Their answers tell me that I’m not the only one who reminisces about the old days. Back then, when we were seven or eight, we only focused on the plots, throwing ourselves into different worlds where we could

spend hours with a boisterous little boy named Fudge, a homesick cricket called Chester and adventurous siblings named the Bernstein Bears. It is this same delightful experience, from a time fondly remembered by all of us, that millions of children are deprived of today. Unfortunately, there is not enough money to provide impoverished children with reading material, especially when necessities like food and water are still needed. To combat this problem and raise the literacy rates of the area’s children, a citywide project called PHILADELPHIA READS aims to work with individuals, schools, community members, faith-based organizations and businesses to ensure that children can indulge in the simple pleasure of reading. Their goal is to make Philadelphia a “city of readers” and to ensure that those in poverty

- According to the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, the percentage of children reading at or above grade level shifted from 38 percent to 53 percent where educators visited the book banks.

money than you can afford to give, think for a minute about your own childhood and the time you spent, some more than others, reading these beloved books. Think about the time when reading wasn’t a chore, equated with annotations, with homework and with Sparknotes. Think back to the times when you picked up a book with the simple intent of losing yourself in another world, without needing to dissect it for themes and motifs. Think about the memorable characters, the endless laughs and the memories you made. Then think about the thousands of kids who, through no fault of their own, cannot afford these simple pleasures. Though they wish to immerse themselves in an adventure that will, for the time being, offer them a harmless and enjoyable method of escape from their troubled situations, they cannot afford the books that will help them to do so. Look through your old bookshelves and see if there are any books that you are willing to donate. If you just can’t bear to part from your dog-eared copies of “Captain Underpants” and “The Babysitter’s Club,” donate a few dollars instead. Visit their website or their headquarters in Philadelphia to figure out what else you can do. No matter what you do, you’ll help further a splendid cause, leading to a few more happily ever afters in the world.

- For more information and to donate money and old books, please visit

Reshma Gouravajhala can be reached at

have the opportunity to embrace literacy. Volunteers, most of them hardworking teachers, often spend their own time, money and energy running “book banks,” places that children can visit to get books for free, in a noble effort to provide children a fraction of the luxuries we took for granted in our childhood. However, because of the current economic situation, these book banks are in danger of closing. In fact, a branch of PHILADELPHIA READS, a fiveyear-old book bank located in Center City, closed last year, after lending out more than 11,790 free books and 3,997 free school supplies. Hope is not yet lost; other existing book banks can still succeed, as long as community members are willing to help. Before you dismiss this as another community service article asking you to donate more time and

Quick facts - Philadelphia teachers are allowed to take 200 to 400 books and 50 to 100 school supplies depending on the number of students in their class.

Report Card Teacher Wars + Gives us an opportunity to mock teachers in class - Less spare money to spend at bake sales

T/E budget deficit + Cuts won’t directly affect students like last year; no increase to $100 parking pass - Making teachers teach six periods per day can only raise everyone’s stress levels

Sledding in Valley Forge + Snow days have made for great sledding runs - Closed hills defeat the thrill of VF Park

Vday, for couples + Time to appreciate your significant other with over-thetop cheesiness - Roses are extra-expensive today, and they wilt in a week anyway

Vday, for singles + Excuse to eat unlimited amount of chocolates - After eating so much, you may throw up when you see Hallmark cards and couples

Snow days + Three shortened weeks in a row allowed us all to de-stress post midterms - Last day of school is now June 16, and we lost two nice three-day weekends in March Madison Prestipino for The SPOKE




‘Slacktivism’ undermines true spirit of charity

Allison Kozeracki Staff Reporter Throughout the month of December, Facebook users may have been confused to see the likes of Fred Flintstone, SpongeBob SquarePants and Homer Simpson cropping up on their news feed. Some users had decided to change their profile picture to a favorite cartoon character from their childhood to protest child abuse. This small gesture was just one case of “slacktivism,” a union of the words “slacker” and “activism.” A term coined by blogger Evgeny Morozov, slacktivism is defined as “activism, often done on a computer, that requires a slacker’s amount of effort and is of questionable effectiveness.” And it’s bad for both our generation and the causes we choose to support. Of course, slacktivism is nothing new. Slacktivism has been visible in public for years through bumper

Kim Menapace for The SPOKE

stickers, T-shirts, buttons and rubber wristbands. But with the rise of social networking sites (specifically Facebook and Twitter), we don’t even need to leave the comfort of our own home to be bombarded by propaganda from our peers. The most obvious problem with slacktivism is that it rarely amounts to something practical like money. I can say this from experience. Back in December, I jumped on the bandwagon and changed my profile picture to Helga Pataki from “Hey Arnold!”. But I didn’t donate any

money or time to stop child abuse, or even bother to visit Childhelp’s website. It was an empty gesture, and the only ones who benefited were my fellow fans; I, along with many others, had played no part. One could argue that these simple gestures are a way to raise awareness, or “get the word out.” Let’s be realistic. I’ll just speak for myself, but I was well aware of breast cancer long before girls decided to put the color of their bra as their Facebook status for awareness. On a similar note, slacktivism

also trivializes the serious topics at hand. Frankly, it seems inappropriate to honor those who lost their battle with a disease via a status update. And Twitter is not the best place to show support for Iran’s democracy, one of the most volatile issues in the Middle East. This casual attitude toward these monumental issues could lead to a decline in other forms of activism. For many, going on Facebook certainly seems more appealing than running a 5K or raising money door-to-door.

The danger of slacktivism is that it allows us to feel like we’re making an impact without donating any of our time or money to the causes we claim to support. So next time you’re on the Internet and come across slacktivism, really think about the effort it requires and the impact it has. And just remember, there’s no shame in being the 97 percent who won’t repost that status. Allison Kozeracki can be reached at

Learning to take those three little words to heart

Anjuli Patel Operations Director I’ve been waiting to hear those three little words for a while now, ever since I could understand what they meant, at least. But it’s finally happened to me, and I couldn’t be happier. No, not “I love you,” but “second semester senior.” While for some of us this means checking out early, for others this means the beginning of the end—of high school, that is. With fewer than three months left (two months and 22 days—but who’s counting?), it’s time to make the most of Conestoga and everything it has to offer. The whole idea of being

a second semester senior is a little overrated. However, for those of you who have slaved over pages and pages of history notes, take a break. Granted, we could all use a little relaxing, but I know I’d still like to go on internship. This past year I’ve been more inclined to do things I normally wouldn’t. Why? Short answer: because I’m a senior. Long answer: because this is my last full year here, and as cheesy as it sounds, I want to remember my senior year as being a good one when I look back on it in 25 years. For better or worse, we’ve all changed throughout high school, and now is not the time to shy away from opportunity. As a freshman, I can honestly say I would have never published something in the school newspaper disclosing my most personal thoughts regarding friends, family and the future. I also know I would have been far too timid to even consider going to a job interview, especially at the mall, where being shy isn’t an

option. But here I am, three years later, leaving the nest soon and going out on a limb. From here on out, if you’re the sentimental type, every high school experience is somewhat monumental. Last set of midterms, first college acceptance, last semester. I’ll admit that it hasn’t hit me yet that in just a few months I’ll be in a completely new place. But I have realized that I’ll be with completely new people, people who I don’t know and people who don’t know me. It’s hard to believe that after being with some of my classmates for 12 years, we’ll be saying goodbye soon. We’re all in the same boat though—I know I’m not the only one who plans to try and meet new people while simultaneously checking the Megabus schedule to come home. Although it’s sad to think about, this is the reality. I don’t see all of these upcoming goodbyes as a necessarily bad thing though; I see the rapidly approaching end as an opportunity to realize whom we want

Gabriela Epstein/The SPOKE

to stay in contact with and whom we want to stay in our lives. While taking advantage of these opportunities, we must make sure that in the process we don’t leave behind our close friends. Remember to value the remaining time we have together

as second semester seniors. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though—let’s make this semester last. Anjuli Patel can be reached at




Superficiality mars society, even at high school level

Haley Xue Staff Reporter

Sam Winfield/The SPOKE

To t h e Ed i to r Dear Editor,

Letters Policy

What are you agitated about? Do you have an opinion about something we’ve published? The Spoke will print letters of general interest to the student body and community. Signed letters under 200 words may be submitted to the editorial board. E-mail us at



Go online to comment on our articles

After reading The Spoke’s article about the library’s purchase of two iPads (“Staying in touch with technology: Library purchases iPads,” p. 5), I understand that the school is trying to allow students to experience new types of technology. But, to me, purchasing iPads for the school is an utter waste when we are facing a huge debt. The iPads may not increase the debt substantially, but this spending is a major issue. It seems ridiculous to spend money on such an unnecessary item, especially since students can only use one of the iPads. As a senior, it is frustrating that, with increased parking space prices and other such revenue-generating schemes, the administration paid for an item I talked my own dad out of buying. If what Ms. Lukens said is true about the benefit of spending money if it helps the educational experience, why are we cutting classes and electives that are significantly more beneficial than an iPad I have never seen? Danielle Sachs Senior Dear Editor, Many seniors are currently experiencing insurmountable pressures to have mapped out a large portion of our futures before graduation. These pressures are inevitable but seem to be amplified for Conestoga students. Many of us are so caught up in achieving Ivy League status that we forget the real purpose of college—to “find ourselves” and prepare ourselves for a successful future. For some of us, college is the best place to achieve this, but for others, a gap year can be much more beneficial. The option of a gap year is often overlooked by Conestoga students due to its being less conventional, but I believe that taking a year after graduation to travel, volunteer or work should be more widely encouraged. During the college search at Conestoga, the option is not discussed as thoroughly as it should be. I was very pleased to see The Spoke address the gap year option (“The Road Less Traveled,” p. 1 & 4) and hope that the article will fuel more open conversation about gap years for future graduating classes. Katherine Miller Senior

A couple weeks ago, a mysterious blog surfaced on the web and promised to spread the “real” gossip of Conestoga. The authors of the blog only identified themselves as the “The Real Gossip Girl” and signed their posts with a cryptic “xoxo, GG.” The entire incident was proof of the unfortunate phenomenon taking place as we progress further into the year 2011 and beyond. While Gossip Girl (GG) managed to provide a distraction (whether positive or negative) from midterms, superficiality distracts us from the true essence of life. It seems that as society takes steps toward the future, it becomes increasingly superficial and materialistic. Society has already started to veer from honest virtues and is losing sight of what really matters in life. While some may argue otherwise, being concerned with the latest gossip on Facebook and posting anonymous, insulting remarks on Formspring ultimately offer few positive results. It’s unfortunate that Conestoga also has traces of superficiality, which are evident when certain individuals choose to make biased judgments about others based on their appearances. It results in hurt feelings and nasty rumors. Our inclination to look at outward appearances and judge people based on what’s on the surface results from the excessive concern for material goods. It’s unfortunate that there is a decreasing emphasis on traits that lie below the surface, such as honesty and kindness, which tend to be labeled as weaknesses because they can hinder survival in the real world. This trend ultimately leads to a more hostile social atmosphere that encourages egocentricity. With the steady influx of new technologies, it is inevitable that

materialism would start to become more central in our lives. However, this avidity for material goods blurs the boundary between what we need and what we want and actually causes superficiality—we desire more luxuries and take what we have for granted. These days, some individuals tend to look down upon people who don’t have as much as they do, yet we as a society glorify glamorous celebrities and people who have enough money to spare—spending copious amounts on their prodigal lifestyles. This is especially true in the media as we see more magazines and television shows, like TMZ, solely meant to keep tabs on celebrities and the latest “Hollywood gossip.” American students have seen some of the consequences of being distracted by material and superficial motives. In December, the Program for International Student Assessment released test results from several countries. The assessment, administered every three years, focuses on 15-yearolds’ aptitudes in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, science, literary and problem solving skills. American students placed somewhere in the middle at 17th place overall, math and reading scores combined, while Shanghai students took an easy first. Education experts suggested that the reason for this was because “Chinese students work harder, with more focus, for longer hours than American students do.” We have no one to blame but ourselves. We’re tangled up in an endless cycle: we care about how we look and what luxuries we have because we think others will judge us, and yet we judge others based on similar aspects. On a brighter note, there is a silver lining: we shape our society, and therefore we can also reshape it. We can break the cycle by discouraging superficial matters— starting with not focusing on nasty blogs that serve as superficial distractions. After all, the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” although hackneyed, rings extremely true in times like these. Haley Xue can be reached at


Love Connections


Stephen Vanilla Thunder Arnold, Hey Man! I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day! Your choice in clothes is vibrant! Happy <3 Day! - Colin Bassett

Dear Sugarlips, (Don’t get this twisted. I am just recalling the time you were eating a Baby Bottle Pop and got sugar all over your lips.) I just want to let you know how awesome you are. You are the best friend a guy could have. Remember that time we decided to reconstruct my basement at 1 a.m.? I do. Mother was not very happy. This is one of the many high school memories with you that I will treasure forever. I hope we can continue our shenanigans after graduation. Love, The Big Guy

To every girl, This is to every girl who did not get one of these Valentine’s Day notes, You do deserve one. So this is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day! - Mike Lorine

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Hi Anime Club & all of my buddies! Have an awesome Valentine’s Day and read more manga! - Brittany Kleckner

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This Valentine’s Day, The Spoke gave students the opportunity to express their affection for those important to them. Many sent shout-outs to their significant other or close friends. Design by Margot Field

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To A’krya, ! I love you, wifey Love, r Katelynn Taylo

Sam, So, um, when are the trombone shirts coming in? - Elise


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Allied Heath students examine medical careers Sophia Ponte Staff Reporter Dressed in white sterile suits from head to toe, several doctors hurry into a hospital ward. Briefly, the sounds of a baby’s wails escape through the open door, and minutes later the lullaby playing on the loudspeaker heard all around the Paoli Hospital announces the birth of a child. The nurses smile, and so does one of the few Conestoga students who gets to witness a baby’s birth—during her normal school day. Jess Hirst is one of several seniors who participate in Allied Health, a program that combines classroom and clinical experience to give students an in-depth look at medical careers. The students enrolled in the program intern at local hospitals three days a week, shadowing nurses in departments such as maternity,

neurology and radiology. While following a maternity nurse at Paoli Hospital, Hirst had the opportunity to observe a baby being born through a cesarean section from inside the operating room. “Being in the C-section was really, really cool because it’s

and medical terminology in Exton every Monday and Tuesday for the rest of the year. Even with six weeks of preparation, adjusting to the hospital environment was not easy. “The first day was tough,” Hirst said. “When we first came in it was like people were speaking a foreign language.” The students in the morning hospital session leave school at 9 a.m., quickly changing into scrubs and tossing shoes, backpacks and stray papers into their cars before they make the short drive to Paoli. Each week, the students explore a different area of the hospital. In the trauma wing, the students learn about trauma by seeing patients with different symptoms and how they respond to various types of treatment. In neurology, students pore over charts and tables. Notepad in hand, they analyze graphs on computers that look like colorful squiggly lines to an outsider, but in reality convey complex information about brain waves and charges. Even though the students are spread out across several departments, and, in some cases, different hospitals, they face common challenges every day, including emotional reactions to blood and surgery. In class, “we have to talk about fainting,” Allied Health instructor Carolyn DiLossi said. “The students need to acclimate themselves to the things they might see.” Students have fainted in the past and the nurses and doctors prefer not to stop a surgery to care for a nauseous student. However, many students, including Hirst, become comfortable enough in the hospital to view the occasional surgery, with the patients’ permission. The students also need to be conscientious about sanitation. They wear teal scrubs, wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizer constantly. Even so, those precautions are not always adequate for every situation. “To be in an operating room, you have to wear a Michelin Man suit, and booties and a hair cap,”

“You learn so much; if you take away nothing else from the program, you take away knowledge.” - Senior Kristen Parkes something not every 17-year-old gets to see,” Hirst said. “We’re not allowed to go in there usually because they like to keep out infection.” To prepare for entering the hospital, the students begin the year with six weeks of classroom studies. They continue to attend classes in anatomy, physiology

Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

Seniors Kristen Parkes, Kalim Ahmed and Jess Hirst (left to right) pose in their scrubs at Paoli Hospital. All three take part in Allied Health, a program that allows them to observe medical professionals. senior Kristen Parkes said. “Last year they wouldn’t even let us in the maternity section because of the swine flu.” Students also need to ask for permission to be in the patients’ presence. However, most patients welcome the students, and interacting with patients is a significant element of the Allied Health program. “The patients really enjoy it when they see a fresh new face because they’ve been [in the hospital] a while, and they will talk to us,” Parkes said. “Sometimes people have told me their life stories. Since no one is really in a good mood in a hospital, when we talk to them they tend to really open up to us.” Even though the students

learn how to conduct simple procedures during the ongoing classroom sessions, the program at the hospital is mainly observational. With the patient’s permission, students are occasionally allowed to practice their skills in a real setting, taking blood pressure, listening to bowel sounds or checking pulse just as a professional nurse would. Whether Parkes decides to pursue a career in medicine, she said that the Allied Health experience has been educational. “You learn so much; if you take away nothing else from the program, you take away knowledge,” Parkes said. Sophia Ponte can be reached at




Left: Junior Laura McCauley, who plays Carlotta in “Phantom,” sings on stage. McCauley said she has been preserving her voice by refraining from talking for the past few weeks. Right: Seniors David Gleichman and Emilyn Badgley, who play the lead roles, rehearse a scene. Both seniors worked to ensure that their voices can handle the challenging score.

Music of the night Reporting by Kelly Benning & David Kramer Photographs by Karolis Panavas

Senior Molly Hamelin, who plays Madame Firmin, rehearses with the cast and crew. Performers have been rehearsing for a month and a half.

Before rehearsal began for “Phantom of the Opera,” a cast member made the mistake of mentioning his upcoming ski trip. Choral director Suzanne Dickinger glared, exclaiming that skiing was unacceptable for singers. “You could break arms and legs!” she said. Theater productions always require dedication, but this year’s spring musical, “Phantom of the Opera,” is more challenging because of the show’s vocal complexity. “I would love it to be their number one priority,” Dickinger said. “It’s vocally very difficult, not only for the leads but for the chorus. [Composer] Andrew Lloyd Weber is very tough on singers. I don’t think he likes singers very much because he creates vocal lines that are so difficult.” As the name suggests, “Phantom” is an opera, which means that the notes are difficult to hit. “With opera comes a lot of higher notes,” said sophomore Nell Hoban, the understudy for the lead female role, Christine. “The highest note for ensemble members is a C sharp— which is very high for girls.” Many of the vocalists have voice coaches, including senior David Gleichman. Gleichman has worked with Richard Zuch, a professional voice coach, for three years, and recently they have concentrated on perfecting

his portrayal of the Phantom. We work on “a combination of singing things correctly, so that it’s safe for [David’s] voice, and something decent to listen to,” Zuch said. Zuch and Gleichman work together for an hour and 20 minutes once a week. Dickinger appreciates the outside instruction, because otherwise the music would be too difficult for the singers to handle. “You couldn’t do Phantom if you didn’t have a voice teacher. It’s pretty tough,” Dickinger said. Because they are pushing the limits of their voices in practice, several cast members take measures to protect their voices outside of rehearsal. “I can’t go to concerts at all,” Gleichman said. “And no doing anything that would jeopardize my voice like screaming or yelling. [We] can’t get sick. No sharing water or anything.” Junior Laura McCauley, who plays Carlotta, went even further than avoiding yelling at concerts. “I’m going to try not to talk very much in class or talk very much in general,” she said. “I’m only speaking when I necessarily have to.” Vocalists are also careful about what they eat to protect their voices. “If you’re going to be singing you shouldn’t be eating or drinking dairy or chocolate,” Dickinger said. Dairy products create sinus prob-

lems which can affect the voice and make it difficult to clear the throat. For a few of the seniors, this is not the only difficult music that they are learning. Both leads, Gleichman and senior Emilyn Badgley, are auditioning for vocal performance colleges. In addition to learning music for “Phantom,” they also have to learn new pieces for their auditions. “With so many of us majoring in music, we have to time our college auditions really specifically; we can’t miss any performances,” Gleichman said. Gleichman even had to reschedule an audition for Juliard, a premier performing arts college in New York. With the significant time commitment “Phantom” requires, some of the seasoned performers have come to expect the effect the show has on their lives outside of rehearsal. “Usually during third marking period my grades take a dip,” Badgley, who plays Christine, said. Despite the challenges presented, Dickinger said that she is confident that the show will go on. “It’s quite an undertaking to do in seven weeks. I think audiences will be blown away—if there’s no [more] snow,” she said. Kelly Benning can be reached at




MaryKaye Rhude-Faust

Culinary Arts, Fashion Design, Sports Nutrition and Pastry Chef by Mary Turocy, Features Editor

T h e SPOKE: Why should students take family and consumer sciences classes? MR: What’s nice about family and consumer sciences classes is we talk about theory and then we apply it. We’ll talk about nutrition, but then we practice it in lab. The good thing about family and consumer sciences is that it’s kinesthetic based— it’s hands-on. TS: Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day? MR: My husband and I always go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, at the same restaurant where he proposed to me. TS: Describe yourself in one word: MR: Perfectionist. TS: What’s one random fact about you? MR: I take ballet. I’m not good at it, but I love ballet and jazz. I started as an adult—not as a kid—about ten years ago.




” ’t le. on o r D se a.” e. ry” n cas ntan inut o e a Th hicke nd S or a m g an t c y a l f g B secre ghtr a foo i B u he nd’s n Da ou’re T y : “ sba ee ow y hu betw , and h S M p on TV d: “ oss-u uesti e.” TS: o m Fo “A t k a q lifeti Can you ic: “As r a s tell me more u M ote: ool fo about your ballet classes? Qu e a f MR: I’m in an adult class, but most of the people u’r are teenagers or young adults and they’ve been taking o y

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ballet since they were six. I end up having them teach me. It’s a turnaround—during the day, I’m the teacher, but in ballet class I’m saying to a teenager, “Can you just show me that one more time?”

TS: What advice would you give to a high school student? MR: Study, and choose a career that will make you happy, because then it’s not work. I want to get up in the morning and I want to come to school. It’s not a job for me; it’s a way to have fun.

Page design by Margot Field. Photo by Luke Rafferty. Cartoons by Gabriela Epstein.




Go big or tie trying: ’Stoga grad breaks necktie world record Emily Omrod Staff Reporter Some men wear plain ones— navy with red stripes, or classic black. Others are more adventurous, wearing ties with tiny anchors or the most daring color of all—pink. But the boldest of all necktie wearers is 2003 Conestoga graduate Jason Handman. Handman, the original Good Morning ’Stoga weatherman, is now a meteorologist for WOIO television station in Cleveland. On Dec. 9, he broke the Guinness World Record for Most Neckties Worn at once with 131 neckties. The previous record was 50 neckties. “This is very exciting because I always wanted to break a Guinness World Record,” Handman said. “Growing up, you get the book and you read through the stuff. You think, ‘I could break a Guinness World Record.’ You never knew how to do it.” Handman said that his inspiration to break the necktie-wearing record came while he was paging through the book with a co-worker

at the WOIO station. Originally, he wanted to attempt to eat a pizza in 90 seconds, but everyone doubted he could do it. “Since I wear a necktie everyday I thought, ‘What about the most neckties worn at once?’” Handman said. Handman then applied to the Guinness World Record office and attempted to break the record on live television during the WOIO afternoon broadcast on Dec. 9. The rules were simple: only he could tie the ties, with one assistant to hand them to him. “[Each necktie] can’t be pre-tied. You have to actually make the knot around your neck,” Handman said. Handman also said that each tie had to be tied in one of the “standard” knots or the record attempt would not count. Handman owned about 50 of the ties, and his co-workers lent him the rest. “[We had] skinny ties, long ties, silk ties, every kind of tie,” Handman said. It took Handman two and a half hours to break the world record. The WOIO anchors cut to him periodi-

cally as he placed tie after tie on his neck. Handman said that he wanted to prevent others from easily breaking his record, so continued to tie neckties well after he surpassed the previous mark. He finally stopped at 131, when his neck could hold no more ties. “I didn’t want to just make 51 and someone comes along and says ‘Well that’s no big deal,’” Handman said. “I want to make sure that this record stands, like any record holder would want to.” Besides entertaining people in the greater Cleveland area, Handman’s record attempt generated publicity for the WOIO station. He said that his friends and family also enjoyed it. “It was the best day of their lives,” Handman said jokingly. Handman plans to maintain his title as record holder, and he said that he will take down anyone who overturns his record of 131 neckties. “Go big or go home. That’s what I told myself on television,” Handman said. Emily Omrod can be reached at

Photo courtesy Sarah Kotzman

2003 ’Stoga graduate Jason Handman breaks the Guinness World Record for Most Neckties Worn at once. He wore 131 neckties on air.

Longboarders surf local streets with speed, style Natalie West Staff Reporter

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

Junior Garrett Creamer races down a local street on his longboard. Creamer has been longboarding since last June after deciding that skateboarding was too damaging to his ankles.

On a crisp October Sunday, junior Garrett Creamer flies down the streets of New York City at 50 miles per hour, skillfully dodging traffic, pedestrians and sidewalk curbs. At the end of the day, Creamer had covered 35 miles of city streets and still had time to catch the bus home. Creamer was not alone. People from all around the country flock to New York City to participate in races with one common purpose—to experience the thrill of longboarding. Longboarding is skateboarding with momentum instead of stunts, a hybrid of snowboarding and surfing while speeding down a sharp decline. Longboarders can reach speeds up to 80 miles per hour and cover as many as seven miles in 15 minutes. “It’s a thrill. I get to forget about the usual stresses as a junior, and it’s more fun than anything I have ever done [before],” Creamer said. Dubbed “sidewalk surfing,” longboarding became popular around the same time as surfing. Longboards have larger wheels than skateboards for a smoother, faster ride. They come in a variety of deck shapes, including

the teardrop-shaped Pintail and the Drop-deck board, which has the ends above the wheels elevated higher than the middle of the board. “It’s what skateboarding used to be like back in the 70’s,” junior Josh Boyer, another longboarder, said. “It’s pretty much surfing on land.” Creamer made the switch from skateboarding to longboarding last June. He caught on to longboarding quickly and has already competed in the eight-mile New York City “MiniBomb,” finishing in 30 minutes. In the future, he hopes to participate in the largest longboarding event in the United States—a seven-mile dash down Broadway. However, not all longboarders are as competitive as Creamer. Boyer, who discovered the sport three years ago, loves it because of its calm, relaxing style. “I had skateboarded before, but I didn’t think it was right for me. When I got on [a longboard], it was a totally different feel,” Boyer said. Although Boyer has yet to participate in a race, he said that he tries to longboard daily and he prefers to longboard for transportation. “It’s really smooth, so it’s better than a skateboard, and it moves really

quickly, so it’s more efficient than a bike,” Boyer said. In addition to downhill joy rides and serious racing, there are several types of longboarding, such as sliding, dancing, pumping and cruising. Sliding, which requires protective gloves, is a maneuver meant for turning or stopping quickly, and requires longboarders to lean to the side and let their hands run across the ground. “I’ve seen [Garrett] slide a couple of times, and it’s his area of expertise,” Boyer said. “I consider myself a novice compared to him, and I want to wait until I get better to do a race.” Nevertheless, longboarding has its dangers. Neither Creamer nor Boyer have had any serious injuries or broken bones, but Boyer admits to having fallen ten to 15 times, and said that he is lucky to have only twisted his ankles and not suffered from a more serious injury. Staying on the board is the most important (and most challenging) factor in the extreme sport. “If you can control yourself on a longboard, you can do just about anything,” Boyer said. Natalie West can be reached at




New restaurants offer variety of lunchtime options Reviews by Danny McConnell, Staff Reporter Chipotle Mexican Grill bills itself as a typical Mexican cantina, located next door to the Acme in Wayne. However, the décor is anything but Mexican. With drab walls covered in plain boards and exposed ducts on the ceiling, the interior of Chipotle looks more like a factory than a restaurant. This is fitting, since employees customize the salads, tacos and burritos on a Henry-Ford-style assembly line. The line at Chipotle is long at lunchtime, and it took me ten minutes to get to the front. The elevator music made the wait feel even longer. Chipotle’s options include burritos, tacos and salads available in chicken, beef, pork

and vegetarian. The food itself is good, but a bit over-seasoned. The best things I had were warm tortilla chips with just the right amount of salt, complimented by chunky salsa with fresh cilantro. Chipotle is a chain that prides itself on “food with integrity,” meaning that most of their ingredients are organic. For fast food, it’s pretty good. But the problem is that it’s not fast food. When it takes more than ten minutes to get a burrito, the wait time outweighs the taste.

PBandU in Wayne is one of the most original places on the Main Line to enjoy a meal. As the name suggests, the restaurant sells everything peanut butter, so those with allergies should stay clear. For the rest of us, PBandU is a wonderland of creamy or chunky goodness and endless combinations of concoctions. The atmosphere in PBandU is fitting: facts about peanut butter hang on the walls and tables are peanut shaped. Think Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, except a peanut butter version. The menu is a peanut-butter lover’s fantasy, with everything from peanut butter fondue to peanut butter milkshakes. Even childhood favorites like ants on a log are included. The

sandwiches are completely customizable with dozens of options, though I recommend the store’s pre-made creations. Sandwiches that sound good on paper, such as peanut butter and Nutella, taste overly sweet, while a sandwich that sounds disgusting— peanut butter, bananas, bacon and honey—turns out to be the perfect combination of crunchy, smooth, sweet and chewy. I would recommend PBandU to any peanut lover, as there are enough options to indulge anyone’s nutty fantasies.

Ashys Burger & Fries is conveniently nestled in the Paoli Shopping Center, making it easily accessible for seniors on lunch break. The food is tasty and there are a variety of choices. Burgers, hot dogs, chili and even sweet baklava are all included on the vast menu. Ashys also offers healthier vegetarian options such as falafels and salads. The burgers are above average, lacking the grease that you would find on a typical fast food burger. On top of the patties is a creamy spread of mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. This great sauce combines the creaminess of mayonnaise, the sweetness of ketchup and the tang of mus-

tard. Despite the simplicity, this sauce works well and is spread perfectly across the burger. Ashys is good if you are in a rush: the service is quick, and the staff is friendly, genuine and helpful. The price is reasonable for students on a budget—even with sides and a drink, a meal will likely be less than ten dollars. Ashys is a restaurant that is what it is: a burger joint. What the restaurant lacks in uniqueness, it makes up for in taste and reliability.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, 309 East Lancaster Ave., Wayne, PA 19087

PBandU, 163 East Lancaster Ave., Wayne, PA 19087

Ashys Burger & Fries, 82 East Lancaster Ave., Paoli, PA 19301

Go online to stogasnapshot. blogspot

.com to check out The Spoke’s new daily photo blog.

Luke Rafferty photos/The SPOKE

passion like no other


by Jenna Spoont, Staff Reporter

Although Edelson loves competing, she also entertains the possibility of going on tour after college as part of Riverdance or Lord of the Dance, the Irish equivalent of Broadway. “Giving shows would be an amazing experience,” Edelson said. “I would meet people from all over the world and perform a completely different kind of dance. It’s hard but it’s definitely possible.”


Students weigh in on the artistic expression, time, training and effort that they pour into their own unique styles of a sport that they love. dancing. Over the years, she stopped studio dancing and decided to become more competitive. “It’s the only activity that I stuck with,” Goins said. “I kept up with it because I love to perform. I don’t really like recitals but I like performing to compete.”


Sophomore Neha Nataraj dances for personal expression. Two summers ago, Nataraj went on tour to six cities in India with a group of others who dance Bharatanatyman, one of the oldest forms of Indian dancing. Bharatanatyam focuses on dramatic storytelling inspired by ancient Indian sculptures. “Bharatanatyman requires a lot of training. It’s very difficult,” Nataraj said. “It’s completely different from Bollywood.” Nataraj will soon prepare for her Rangapravesha, a coming of age milestone and her first time dancing alone on stage. She plans to rent out a venue for her family and friends to watch her dance. “If you’re a dancer, you reach a certain point that you can perform by yourself, on stage alone,” Nataraj said. “It’s an actual true art form.”

Theatrical dance

e an J Freshm

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tanding in a line of ten dancers, senior Claire Edelson hoped her name wouldn’t be called for as long as possible. The judges read off the list of winners starting at the bottom until finally Edelson achieved fifth place in the Regional Irish step dancing competition held this past Noveber. Student dancers spend their time outside of school in a whirlwind of practices, recitals and competitions. Edelson is no exception; she is currently preparing for her third All Ireland competition in two weeks, as well as her first World Championship this April, both in Dublin, Ireland. “It’s always been a dream to qualify for Worlds,” Edelson said. “Dancing overseas is at a whole new level when you’re competing against girls from Ireland and England, and I’m glad to know what it’s like having been to All Irelands. It’s definitely motivated me to practice even harder.” Irish step dancing competitions consist of three dances: a hard shoe round is followed by a soft shoe round to contrast energy and stamina with grace and quickness of foot. After the first two dances, about half of the competitors are recalled for a final set piece. “It’s nerve-wracking,” Edelson said. “You have to start warming up without even knowing if you’ll be recalled. You just have to assume that you will be and go over the notes for your dance anyway.” Set pieces are typically choreographed by dance instructors but are also altered to fit each dancer’s strengths and weaknesses—no two dances are ever the same. “You often change the dance to fit your style,” Edelson said. “If you’re a strong dancer, for example, you would want a long set piece to prove that you have stamina.” Stamina is a sought-after quality in Irish step dancing; it’s important for dancers to be in excellent physical shape before competitions, and training is a big time commitment. With the All Irelands so close, Edelson attends classes four times a week in New Jersey with practices typically lasting a minimum of five hours. She also dances in local competitions one to two times each month.


ra tes



ift dur ing a

show . Photo courtesy Jenna Sharples Like Edelson, sophomore G o i n s Grace Goins dances to said she competes win. Goins performs hip-hop with her dance school from and pom in competitions with her dance December to June, with about six to seven team. “We do all different kinds of hip-hop,” competitions each year. She said that she is Goins said. “In our routine we have things unsure if she will pursue her current area of such as tutting, popping and locking, and dance in the future and is looking into other possibilities. then we do flips and jumps.” “There’s not much out there for me, espeSince she first began at the age of three, Goins has tried many different styles of cially for hip-hop, but pom dancing for coldance, everything from ballet to tap to belly lege could be an option,” Goins said.

Freshman Jenna Sharples is a musical theatre dancer who also participates in ballet, tap and jazz. “I was a really, really hyper kid,” Sharples said. “The only way to get me to stop bouncing off the walls was to get me to dance or do gymnastics.” Sharples has been dancing since she was four years old, but she discovered her passion for musical theatre and choreography when she performed as the Beast in the “Beauty and the Beast” ballet when she was seven. She quit gymnastics and decided to focus on theatrical dance. “I like to express myself through dance, because I like the feeling of getting up in front of people, and just entertaining them and making them happy,” Sharples said. Sharples hopes that her dance experiences will help her get to Broadway. “If dance wasn’t part of my future, I wouldn’t know what to do,” Sharples said. “I’d be so lost.” Jenna Spoont can be reached at




Senior earns spot in cricket World Cup Qualifier

Tracy Cook Staff Reporter Senior Kalim Ahmed filled in the last bubble on his physics exam just hours before he hopped on a plane bound for Florida. While most Conestoga students spent the long weekend after midterms relaxing, Ahmed was trying out for the U.S. U-19 national cricket team. His hard work paid off, and less than a week later, Ahmed was notified that he had been selected to represent the United States in the 2011 ICC America’s Cup, an international cricket tournament. The rules of cricket are fairly simple. Two batters from the same team bat at once and the opposing bowler has to get them out by knocking over three stumps behind the batter. When the batter hits the ball, he and the other batter run back and forth until the ball is fielded. One out is allotted per batter and there are ten batters per team. Points are tallied as runs and the goal is to score more than the other team. Ahmed, who is a specialty pace bowler, first began to play cricket in his homeland of England when he was four years old. “It was more because my dad played cricket,” Ahmed said. “He got me involved in the game.” When his family moved to America in 2001, Ahmed was disappointed to realize that cricket was significantly less popular in

the U.S. than it was in England. He continued to compete in regional tournaments, playing teams from all over the country. There, Ahmed’s talent earned him recognition from various scouts, and he was invited to try out for the U-19 national team. Before long, he was on the field in Florida

along with 29 other competitors, all vying for only 14 spots. “There were four returning players, so they were looking for ten guys,” Ahmed said. “Basically, they wanted half the team to be specialist batters and the other half to be bowlers.”

Photo courtesy Kalim Ahmed

Senior Kalim Ahmed (far left) stands with the U.S. U-19 National Cricket team. The team earned a spot at the World Cup Qualifier, which will be played in Ireland in July.

Three days later, the results were posted, and Ahmed made the cut. The U-19 team competed in the ICC America’s Cup in Florida against five teams: Argentina, Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. After a win against Bermuda on Feb. 11, Ahmed’s team earned a spot at the World Cup Qualifier in Ireland, which will take place in July. Four teams will advance from there to the U-19 Cricket World Cup, hosted by Argentina in 2012. Ahmed is excited by the opportunity to participate in the World Cup Qualifier and is looking forward playing cricket in college. “I’m planning on going to Rutgers University and playing for their team,” Ahmed said. “It’s a club team, but they play against other colleges like Princeton and Penn, and they have a college cricket tournament in Florida in March every year.” Ahmed will continue playing for his club team at the British Officer’s Cricket Club of Philadelphia, but hopes that the success of the national team will help cricket evolve into a more popular sport within the U.S. “Qualifying for the World Cup would be great for the country,” Ahmed said. “I hope that we succeed to the next level, and get U.S. cricket on the map.” Tracy Cook can be reached at

Students look foward to nationals, futures in squash

Brittany Roker Staff Reporter

Walking into the Berwyn Squash and Fitness Center, the girls’ squash team was ready for another fun-filled and intense practice, but without the availability of a

court, they had to resort to another method for exercise: Latin dancing. “There are a lot of drills that we do that require some imagination,” Coach Cecily Englander said. “When we do get together and there are no courts available to us, then

we also have to find ways of getting fit.” experiencing that higher level of competiThe excitement of squash is what made tion at the national squash championships, junior co-captain Justine Shank want to which took place at Yale University this play in college. year. “Besides the sport itself, Players from Conestoga which I just think is fun, it’s competed with over 100 a very social fit,” Shank said. schools from across the coun“I love the sport the most, but try. At press time, ’Stoga’s A then you go down to Berwyn team was 1-2 and the B team Squash and you know every- Conestoga players was 2-1. Since the champione behind the desk. It’s such a competing at 2011 onships began in 2005, the fun environment.” number of entered teams has Nationals Although squash is a club steadily increased as squash sport at Conestoga, it has been grows in popularity across the growing in popularity and many country. Englander believes students on the team plan on that there are many factors that playing in college. Senior cocontributed to the popularity. captain Mike Dolente, who be“It’s exciting to play a gan playing squash four years sport that is really intense but ago, enjoys the intensity of the also a lot of fun,” junior PeStudents in sport and wants to continue. ter Guo said. “The dedication the Conestoga Although Dolente plans on taksquash program and time that all of the athletes ing a gap year, he wants to play on the squash team put in to squash in college as well. play squash is about the same “It is something that I am really good at. amount that all of the other people that play It just came naturally to me,” Dolente said. winter sports and Conestoga is very lucky “I keep learning more and more about it and to have a club to play.” everything I learn, I love.” Each year, the players who dream of Brittany Roker can be reached at playing at a college level look forward to



Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

Sophomore Josh Sutker (left) and freshman Will Klinger play a friendly round of squash at the Berwyn Squash Club, where the Conestoga team practices each week.





Cliff Lee completes Phantastic Phour

1GUR3 Emily Seeburger Staff Reporter

Cliff Lee’s ERA in 2009 with the Phillies


Cliff Lee’s ERA in 2010 with the Texas Rangers

Wins by Cliff Lee with the Phillies in 2009



You’ve heard the names—R2C2, Phantastic Phour, Fearsome Foursome—all referring to one of the best pitching rotations in Major League Baseball. With pre-season around the corner, Phillies fans can look forward to watching Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and (once again) Cliff Lee, back in a Phillies uniform after a stint with the Texas Rangers. Now that all four have reported for spring training, Philadelphia is on the verge of seeing an explosive pitching rotation become even hotter with their newest addition. Back in mid-December, Lee announced that he would re-sign with the Phillies, giving up an extra $30 million and the opportunity to play with the Yankees. He signed a five-year, $120 million contract with a vesting option for a sixth season with Philadelphia. So now with Cliff Lee in the mix, how will the Phillies fare? Because of him, the rotation will absolutely dominate baseball.

There’s no question that last year’s pitchers were good. Perfect games, no-hitters and strikeouts cover the pitching stats from the 2010 season. But there was also weakness. Halladay had some bad games, Hamels went into a major slump, Blanton often failed to deliver and Oswalt didn’t join the Phillies until mid-July. Too often the Phillies were forced to rely on middle relief options because they didn’t have a stud fourth starter. Cliff Lee now fills that role. Not to say he is a fourth-rate starter—in fact he’s much better—but now that the Phils will have four options, they can play around with who starts when, and Lee could easily become the Phillies’ number one pitcher. With an impressive 3.18 ERA and the ability to maintain a calm demeanor in high-pressure situations, Lee is someone you would want to have the ball at crunch time. How many times have we seen him work his way out of difficult innings (bases loaded, full counts, etc.) and allow

his team to succeed? Quite a few. That incredible amount of talent isn’t seen often, and now that Philadelphia has it, Cliff Lee could carry us all the way to the top. He’s already shown he can take on that position. After joining the Rangers in July after a partial season with Seattle, Lee carried them all the way to the World Series against the Giants. He did the same thing in 2009 when he played for the Phillies, proving even more that he has the ability to succeed in this town. It seems that wherever he goes, he rules. His reign will be something Philadelphia needs. Without him, we were pretty good, but with him, we’ll be unstoppable. Cliff Lee has the potential to carry us into the next level of baseball and the ability to send the pitching rotation to the highest level. After all, they are called the Phantastic Phour. Emily Seeburger can be reached at

Career wins by Cliff Lee in nine years

Combined Cy Young Awards in the Phantastic Phour


2010 wins by the Phantastic Phour

All statistics as of Feb. 8.

Gabriela Epstein/The SPOKE




Player Profile

Dina Ramadane, Track & Field

Q: How do you prepare for a race? A: I sometimes listen to music but getting ready for a race actually involves chatting with my competition. I always focus on warming up perfectly and keeping my muscles warm before the gun goes off.

Q: Where have you committed to run in college? A: The University of Pennsylvania. Q: Why Penn? A: UPenn is the perfect balance of athletics and academics for me. Its campus is gorgeous, the new athletic facilities are amazing and the academics are rigorous.

Q: What is your favorite pump-up song? A: “Même Pas Fatigué” by Magic System featuring Khaled.

Q: How long have you been running track? A: I’ve been running track since seventh grade, but I’ve been running for as long as I can remember. I started going on family runs at an early age. Q: What inspired you to start running? A: I was partially inspired by my parents because they’re athletic but when I was younger I was also drawn to how much fun the sport is, especially the part when you win medals.

Q: What is your fondest sports memory? A: My 4x800 relay running at the Penn Relays in 2009. The atmosphere is amazing. I loved running against all the really fast Jamaicans and seeing their passoinate fans. Q: What is the craziest spirit day you’ve ever done? What was the inspiration? A: We generally make shirts for the important meets and put quotes on them. My favorite shirts were the ones we made for the 2009 Indoor States because we put embarrassing pictures of our coach on them. Q: If you could watch any race in history, what would it be? A: I would watch the Grand Prix race in Rome where Hicham el Guerrouj broke the world re-

Q: What, in your opinion, is your greatest sports accomplishment? A: When my 4x800 relay got sixth place at the 2009 Nike Indoor National and achieved All-American status.

Q: If you could play any other sport, what would it be? A: Gymnastics because I’ve always had a passion for it and it’s a beautiful sport. Q: What athlete do you admire? A: I admire Usain Bolt because he’s the fastest man in the world. Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

cord in the mile, which he currently still holds. I’m a huge fan of el Geurroj’s because he’s Moroccan. [Editor’s Note: Ramadane was born in Morocco.]

Q: What has been your favorite aspect about running for Conestoga? A: The team. I wouldn’t be as successful as I am without the talented runners I train with every day.

Practice makes perfect: ’Stoga teams hard at work

Volume 61, No. 4



Cliff Lee makes Student cricket player competes nationally fearsome foursome See p. 22 See p. 21

Making a

Racket Conestoga squashes competition at nationals See p. 21

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

Go online for an extended photo gallery from the squash season.



The Spoke's February issue  

Feb. 14 publication