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“Jackson’s playing ability and his potential to distract defenses will be difficult to replace at any cost. Philadelphia fans should hope that the Eagles pull out their checkbook and lock up Jackson while he is still an Eagle. The sooner, the better.” Staff reporter Conor Fitzpatrick on wide receiver DeSean Jackson, full column on



Go online for TETV’s report on the Nov. 5 Cavalcade of Bands.

Take a snapshot of this QR code with your smart phone camera to hear one of senior Jake Neumar’s songs, “Turn Around.” Story on page 19.

Check out photographs of the ice hockey and soccer teams, the Timothy School fall carnival, and Occupy Philadelphia online.

Pioneer posts: Upcoming in community This year ’s fall drama, “Twelfth Night,”shows f r o m N o v. 1 7 - 1 9 . T h e S h a k e s p e a r e c o m e dy features a beach theme and a 1960s twist. There will be a regular school board meeting on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Conestoga cafeteria. New school board members were elected on Nov. 8. U.S. Government students will attend an in-school field trip on Nov. 17, when Penn. Senator Andrew Dinniman and Representative Duane Milne will discuss polarization in politics. Financial Aid Evening is on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Conestoga auditorium. The speakers will discuss the process of applying for financial support for the cost of college. The Conestoga winter concerts are on Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 from 7-9 p.m. All choirs and orchestra will perform at the first concert, and bands perform at the second.

Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

Senior Kelly Murphy performs at the Cavalcade of Bands, which featured 15 marching bands on Teamer Field.




Serious food allergies on the rise among students

Claire Moran & Brittany Roker Staff Reporter & Community Relations Editor Junior Ben Gibbons will never forget the feeling of not being able to breathe. He was at a party last winter and ate about 15 or 20 celery sticks, when all of a sudden his throat closed up. He nearly passed out. Gibbons is not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control, two percent of adults and four to eight percent of children in the United States have food allergies. Medline Plus, a service provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, defines a food allergy as an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body’s immune system. Although allergies are prominent, for Gibbons his allergy came as more of a shock. “I was surprised because I honestly didn’t know you could be allergic to celery, but it wasn’t that bad,” Gibbons said. “I got used to it.” To avoid allergens, students have to alter their daily lives. Be-

sides checking the ingredients at restaurants, students with allergies also have to read labels on food products, and inform friends and family of their condition. Many people with allergies must also avoid skin contact with the allergen, making sure that friends and family wash their hands and brush their teeth before coming in contact with them. Sophomore George Stern, who is allergic to all nuts and suffers from Oral Allergy Syndrome, believes that the Conestoga community is very understanding of his allergies. “I see that when someone takes out something with nuts in it, they actually ask, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. Are you allergic?’ without me having to tell them,” Stern said. “I think there’s a [rising] concern because of the increase of people with allergies.” Along with the rising concern, Conestoga nurse Dawn Zrebiec believes that there has also been an increase of children with allergies over the last several years. According to the U.S. Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with food allergies increased by 18 percent from 1997 to 2007. “There definitely are more allergies out there in the world and we’re not exactly sure why but more people seem to have allergic reactions,” Zrebiec said. “A lot of it might be because of the more complex nature of foods. There are more additives in foods to preserve them.” Zrebiec said that the increase in allergies has made it easier for students to cope. Because of this increase, people are now more aware of the special needs of students with allergies. “It’s definitely more acceptable to be a child with allergies today than it once was,” Zrebiec said. “I think 15 or 20 years ago, children who had a peanut allergy, for example, felt very isolated.” Avoiding allergens has grown easier for students over the years because food labels are clearer to read, according to allergist Albert S. Rohr of Rohr and Columbo Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Specialists, P.C. “They have to use plain language,” Rohr said. “They used to say something like, ‘This food contains cancion,’ and people would say, ‘Okay, well what’s that?’ Now it has to say that [cancion] is milk. It makes it easier for people to understand.” Although allergy awareness has increased, people still may not fully understand the effects and implications of food allergies. “I think that a lot of people who don’t have a food allergy tend to minimize the risk,” Rohr said. “They say, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad. You can go ahead and eat a little bit and you will be fine.’ But for people who are really sensitive, even a tiny amount can be life-threatening.” As hard as students try, it is impossible to completely eliminate their allergens. To limit allergic episodes in school, the District strictly adheres to an allergen policy. The nurses compile a list of allergies among the

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

students and distribute it to the cafeteria staff, Family and Consumer Science teachers and bus drivers. Every time a student

Graphic: Anisa Tavangar/The SPOKE

derstands how hard it can be for students with allergies. Quazi is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, coconut, sesame seed and other seeds and has a sensitivity to raw fruits and vegetables. Her allergies limit what kinds of foods she is allowed to eat. “I don’t get to broaden my horizons as [much as] other people because I am not able to try as many exotic foods because of the ingredients used,” Quazi said. “I really like to try new foods. So, I think especially for me, that is difficult, because there are a lot of things I have to miss out on.” Despite the situation, Quazi manages to stay positive, instead choosing to focus on what she can eat. “I can eat a whole ton of stuff,” Quazi said. “It seems like I have a lot of allergies but there is really a lot that I can eat.”

“I don’t get to broaden my horizons as other people because I am not able to try as many exotic foods because of the ingredients used.” -Senior Julianna Quazi with allergies buys food from the cafeteria, their allergy informa-

tion shows up on the screen. Students with life-threatening allergies must be treated with extra caution. These students receive a form called the Emergency Allergy Plan, and their doctor must complete a form detailing the treatment they should receive in case of a severe allergic reaction. Senior Julianna Quazi un-

Claire Moran can be reached at




Mormon students face stereotypes, lack of understanding

Continued from p. 1

Hope despite prejudice

Unfortunately, bigotry is still a harsh reality for Mormons in America. According to the 2007 Pew Research Poll, only 53 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of Mormons. Conestoga physics teacher John Demos, who is a member of the LDS Church, feels that Americans are comfortable making jokes about Mormons because they do not know much about them. “These days it’s a little weird or unusual to be Mormon and so people make jokes about it because it’s unknown, it’s strange,” Demos says. “It’s sometimes mean-spirited.” Junior Ashley Gillam, who is also a Mormon, has faced ignorance in the classroom. She recalled a time when one of her teachers offended her by how they talked about Mormonism. “Once in sixth grade I argued with my teacher because we were talking about different religions and she asked us to mention some Christian religions,” Gillam says. “I said Mormons. She said ‘I’m pretty sure they’re not Christian.’” However, at Conestoga, such ignorance is not as rampant as in other areas. Many Mormon students feel that at Conestoga they are mostly safe from harassment. While she has heard some polygamy jokes and other misunderstandings of her faith, Small believes that Conestoga is not a bad place for Mormons. “I do believe that this area,

because it is so accepting of varying beliefs and kind and tolerant, is a good place to be practicing Mormonism,” Small says. “In general it’s a very positive environment for our religion to thrive and continue to grow.”

Stereotypes in politics

As the primaries for the next Republican presidential candidate draw closer, Mormonism has become an important issue for the 2012 presidential race. Two Mormon Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, have come to the forefront of the political scene. Both candidates have faced public scrutiny for their religious beliefs. Cook believes that the media’s attention on the candidates’ Mormonism could have a variety of effects. “For many, [the prominence of the Mormon candidates] has given an opportunity to perhaps learn a little bit more about the church and break down some stereotypes,” Cook says. “For others it may just reinforce their own prejudices.” According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, 76 percent of respondents said that they would be willing to vote for a Mormon for president. Despite the positive results of this poll, some are still concerned

with how religion may influence the election. Senior Kelsey Pailet, president of Young Republicans club, fears that voters may be biased against Romney or Huntsman’s religion. “Unfortunately there are many people out there with prejudice views of other religions,” Pailet says. “I think many Americans,

of the musical, though she has not seen it. She believes that it is a blatant mockery of her religion. The musical’s success is “interesting because I don’t think they would ever have the gall to make fun of or bash on another religion so adamantly because they would be afraid [of the repercussions],” Small says. “It kind of baffles me that people enjoy it so much and that people can accept these misconceptions so easily as being true. I’m always kind of confused at how it’s such a successful production.” Cook, however, holds a different view of the musical. He appreciates the publicity that the musical has brought to Mormonism, and he hopes that it will influence others to learn more about the religion. “I’m certain that it probably has some negative connotations towards us. I think as a whole, the church is not displeased that it is out there,” Cook says. “Honestly, if we can encourage people to ask questions and seek honest, reliable sources for their answers, anybody is pleased with that.” The LDS church itself has not responded to the musical with anger. “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an eve-

“These days it’s a little weird or unusual to be Mormon and so people make jokes about it because it’s unknown, it’s strange.” -Physics teacher John Demos including myself, know little about the Mormon faith overall.”

Joking entertainment

Aside from being the topic of political discussion, Mormonism has also entered popular culture on TV and on the stage. Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone’s hit musical, “The Book of Mormon” took home nine trophies from the 2011 Tony Awards. The plot follows two Mormon missionaries who try to spread their faith to the people of an impoverished village in Africa. The musical has won praise from critics across the country. Unlike these critics, however, Small does not approve of the idea

ning, but the “Book of Mormon” as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ,” say LDS Church officials in a statement.

Learning more

For those outside of the LDS community, Small maintains that those that have questions should ask, and those who are curious about the Mormon religion should get their facts from the source, rather than the media, movies or television. She says that asking somebody of the faith is the right way to uncover the truth among the lies. “I definitely think it’s important that people educate themselves about the Mormon religion,” Small says. “I think the best way to do that would be to get to know someone who is Mormon and ask them about their beliefs.” Above all else, Cook maintains that the LDS Church is willing to educate others, and that Mormons are more than willing to open their doors to anyone who wants to get to know the religion or its members. “We certainly invite everybody and anybody to attend our meetings. We’d love to share our message,” Cook says. “If they wish to learn, we are happy to explain and teach. If not, we’d still love to be friends and neighbors.” Kelly Benning can be reached at

Graphic: Margot Field/The SPOKE




Student pioneers protest, picket Philadelphia for reform Luke Rafferty & James Redmond Managing Editor & Staff Reporter

Hundreds of tents lined the sidewalk, with old signs and beer bottles lying in heaps at the end of each row. Protesters gathered in the center of the camp, preparing to go on a march through the city. A band played Jimmie Hendrix songs as some sat around smoking and discussing the injustices of big business. The sound of vuvuzellas and raised voices came from another far corner—it was a normal afternoon in the tent city of Occupy Philadelphia. The Occupy movement began in Zucotti Park in New York City, where participants held up signs in protest of corporate greed and the resulting economic inequality. A month later, there are now more than 100 cities with similar protests, including Philadelphia. The Occupy Philly movement began on Oct. 6, and has remained strong and supported since then. Senior Jascha Brettschneider participated in Occupy Philadelphia on Oct. 8 along with some other ’Stoga students. Brettschneider was surprised to see how the Occupy Philadelphia movement had attracted people from all different walks of life. “There were people from all ages—there were old people, there were young people,” Brettschneider said. “It was awesome.” When Brettschneider protested for Occupy Philly, there were only a few tents—20, by his count. In a matter of weeks, that number had climbed to around 200. Elizabeth Levinson of South Philadelphia has been camping outside City Hall since the protest began over a month ago, and said that she plans to stay until the movement’s demands have been met. “I just want to take back my government to the people because our government has been bought and paid for,” Levinson said. “It’s cold, we’re tired, we’re hungry, but I go on as many marches as I can, trying to get our word out.” Despite these efforts, the movement has had its share of problems. On Sun, Oct. 23, police arrested 15 Philadelphian

protesters for blocking the street in front of police headquarters. On Nov. 3, ten protestors were arrested for holding a sit-in at the Comcast tower. World History teacher Timothy Decker pointed out the flaws of splinter groups, such as the Occupy movement. He does not believe that such movements can be effective, as they are not coherent enough to make change. “So many different groups are protesting so many different issues that it is a big mess. There’s no organization. If people were able to actually organize and come to an agreement about the different issues, then maybe they could actually get things passed,” Decker said. Andrew Metz, president of the Young Socialists club at Conestoga, felt that the critics of the Occupy movement are too hard on the protestors for the nonspecific nature of their ideas. “A lot of people blame [the protesters] for not having a specific plan, but in my opinion, it’s their job to raise issues and let lawmakers know what they have to deal with and what they have to change” Metz said. “It’s up to lawmakers to come up with the plans that will satisfy what people are asking for.” Brettschneider felt that the

protests have the possibility to inspire others to make changes, just as the movement has inspired him. “At first, I didn’t actually know what it was. I just went because it was a protest, and I like going to protests, so I decided to just show up. And then, I realized that it was for a good cause, so by the end I felt like part of the movement,” Brettschneider said. Other students, such as junior Alex Rumsey, are disheartened by the ambiguity of the movement

and feel that it is ineffective. Rumsey also traveled to Philadelphia to see the protests, and felt as if the Occupiers were doing more harm than good. The protesters “are not reaching a goal; they’re gaining publicity for no purpose. They’re stating a problem and providing no solution,” Rumsey said. “They are successful at gaining attention, but not successful overall in causing change.” While the effects of the Occupy movement are not yet clear,

Decker believes the movement to be a step in the right direction for American politics, at least in some regard. “I have been saying for years that we need more than two parties,” Decker said. “All [the Occupy movement] has been doing for me is confirming that people want different ideas, and they are no longer just trusting Democrats or Republicans.” James Redmond can be reached at

Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

Above: A tent city lines the streets of Philadelphia, filled with protestors participating in Occupy Philadelphia. Below: A crowd gathers, picket signs in hand, to parade their message around South Penn Square.

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE




New driving laws bring young drivers screeching to a stop

Isha Damle Staff Reporter A new law will make it even harder for teens to get their licenses. A bill passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will require students to complete an increased number of training hours before receiving their license. Drivers will now need to complete 65 hours of driving, which is 15 hours greater than the previous quota. Students must have 10 hours of experience driving at night and five hours of practice during severe weather. All of these new changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012. These changes have sparked discussion among several students, including Niko Torres, a junior who hopes to receive his license. “I think these changes are being implemented because young drivers aren’t as experienced as older drivers.” Torres said. Adults “feel

that younger people are more careless, and I feel like they’re doing this because they want to keep us safe, even though we [students] may not like it.” Safety for student drivers is the primary motivation behind the new laws. According to the bill, students will be barred from driving with more than one nonfamily member teen passenger during the first six months after having a license. This privilege is only given if the teen driver has a clean record or if a parent or guardian accompanies him or her. This new legislation will directly affect students who have not yet obtained their permits. Junior Connie Yang believes that parents will also be affected by these new changes. The new legislation makes driving without wearing a seat belt a primary offense for both teen drivers and passengers alike. Because of this policy, police officers will have the authority to stop a vehicle driven by

a teenager over for not wearing a seat belt. Sophomore Juliana Clifton, who got her permit this fall, said that she does not think that this aspect of the law will be very effective. “I’m sure a lot of students feel [the law] is unfair because they feel like they don’t have [the state’s] trust, and so they feel distrusted and restricted,” Clifton said. Junior Chase Shipp believes that these changes won’t be particularly disruptive to students or parents. “I don’t think [the laws] will change [teen driving] very much, because it’s already illegal to drive without a seatbelt,” Shipp said. The bill “says you can’t have more than three passengers in the car, but a lot of cars only seat three passengers anyway, so unless you’re going to pack your car full of kids, it’s not really going to have a very big effect.” Isha Damle can be reached at

Republicans sweep local election

JUNIOR DRIVER’S LICENSE “I don’t think [the laws] will change [teen driving] very much, because it’s already illegal to drive without a seatbelt.” -Junior Chase Shipp

UNDER 18 until 04/04/2013 UNDER 21 until 04/04/2016 Class: C Endorse: ---Com./Med Rstr: */* Sex: M Eyes: GRN Height: 5’11’’

JR Graphic: Anisa Tavangar/The SPOKE

Allison Kozeracki & Suproteem Sarkar Copy Editor & Staff Reporter

On Nov. 8, Easttown and Tredyffrin township voters cast their ballots for the T/E school board, electing two new members and three incumbents. The victors were Democrat Karen Cruickshank and Republicans James Bruce, Elizabeth Mercogliano, Kris Graham and Peter Motel. Cruickshank will again serve as school board president. Senior Raven Dorsey’s father ran for a school board position. She also voted and volunteered to help the election on Tuesday. “It’s interesting and a lot of fun to see all the work that goes into the campaign,” she said. “This election is important considering the debt that [our] school is in. Anything and everything could be cut.” On Oct. 25, eight of the candidates participated in a two-hour forum sponsored by the Chester County League of Women Voters. Among the topics discussed were budget cuts. Each candidate voiced support for preserving electives. “The fine arts are a part of a well-rounded education,” Graham

Lavi Ben-Dor/The SPOKE

People voting at ’Stoga on Election Day were greeted by signs as they entered the building. Republicans won many seats on the school board. said at the debate. “Those items will continue to be fully funded and important in T/E education.” All candidates present were in opposition of Gov. Corbett’s proposed voucher plan, which allows qualified parents to use vouchers to send their children to private, religious or better-performing public schools. “Our school system in Tredyffrin is still incredibly strong to begin with,” Cruickshank said in an interview. “Why would we want to take more money away from it?” Though all of the candidates had strong opinions on what actions should be taken in the T/E school district, it was the voters’ opinions that decided who would lead the district in the upcoming years. Some students volunteered at the

polls. Senior Chloe Doto worked at the polls on Election Day after a suggestion from her U.S. Government teacher. “It just seemed like a really great opportunity to get involved since we’re learning about it in class,” Doto said. “I thought it would be cool to go and actually be a part of it since now I can vote.” Cruickshank also believes it is important for students to cast their votes to continue their quality education. “It’s important that students get out there and vote and say that education is important, we’re important and this is investing in our future.” Allison Kozeracki can be reached at

Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE




Students graduate early, attend college one year ahead

Junior Jed Thompson puts the finishing touches on a car that he made for Science Olympiad. Thomspon plans to enter college early, then put his knowledge of science to good use by becoming a physics professor.



Becker Kratsa Lieber Monaghan Rahr Ryan Samson Smith Whelan



Gough (Smith) Kratsa Lieber McGloin Mullen Rahr Ryan Samson Whelan

This Year


Number of Grades For Each Counselor “All counselors have all four grades, which means that we will have families,” Whelan said. "In other words, all of your siblings will have the same guidance counselors, and your parents can always count on the same counselors regardless of

Last Year


Subtraction, addition, division, and multiplication—while these terms might be at home in a math discussion, they are also representative of the staff changes and restructuring in the Student Services Department here at ’Stoga. This year, Andy Mullen and Laureen McGloin have joined the Student Services Department. The timing of the change could potentially to cause difficulty for some students who were assigned to a new counselor. Senior Ruth Wellin said that this transition might be particularly difficult for the senior class. “For kids who have been building up relationships with their guidance counselors since freshman year, it probably is not the best timing, specifically because it is our senior year,” Wellin said. “But then again, if the student does take the initiative to go and meet their counselor, they’ll get a general idea of what they’re like.” According to Misty Whelan, the Student Services Department Chair, the switch will not cause major problems. The department has guidelines

in place to smooth the transitional period. For seniors, the previous counselor and current counselor will work together, making sure that letters of recommendation for college applications are a complete reflection of the student. Both new counselors hail from Valley Forge Middle school. As guidance counselors at Conestoga, they are now encountering a few familiar faces. Senior Laura-Grace Ailor remembers having McGloin as a middle school counselor. “Mrs. McGloin is great; she’s really nice,” Ailor said. “I think that because it’s [McGloin and Mullen’s] first year, they’ll be learning stuff from us, but I’m open to that.” The new counselors share similar enthusiasm for their new positions at Conestoga. “Twelve years [of schooling] is leading up to [senior's futures], and in where they are going, in what is going to happen, I have a say,” Mullen said. Along with the addtion of new counselors, the pattern for counselor assignment has also changed. According to Whelan, these modifications will boost the department’s efficiency and accessibility.

Patrick Nicholson can be reached at

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE


James Redmond Staff Reporter

school education, and I want to have it completed so it’s not something I still have to carry on my shoulders,” Goldfinger said. While he admits that his course load is heavier than most, Goldfinger says that he is still able to handle the extra work. Willow Thompson, who left Conestoga early to attend Oberlin in June of 2009, believes that her experience helped her greatly in adjusting to college. “Going to Oberlin was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Willow said. According to Whelan, it takes an exceptional student to go to college early. However, students backed by a solid reason and support from their counselors can succeed. “I think students can be successful if everyone’s on board and their support system is in place,” Whelan said. “We want to support them and help them do it.”

-12 0

Unlike the many ’Stoga juniors preparing for the SATs in December, junior Jed Thompson is instead focusing upon his college application. Thompson will leave Conestoga this June after his junior year. Thompson is one of a small number of Conestoga students who are planning to enter college early. He says his interest in science was the driving force behind his decision to leave. “For the past several years, I’ve essentially known what I’ve wanted to do, and that is to major in physics and become a physics professor,” Thompson said. “The optimal choice for me would be to get into college this year, go next year, and then not spend my senior year only fulfilling the English and Social Studies graduation requirements.” According to Thompson, he will be able to avoid these senior year requirements because of the nature of his early departure.

Thompson will count some of his college courses next year as the necessary credits he will need for his high school diploma. Counselor Misty Whelan says that Thompson’s choice is common among students who wish to begin college early. “What’s more popular than graduating early is going to college early,” Whelan said. “You don’t yet have a high school diploma, but you’re applying to a college that will accept students as seniors in high school. You’re killing two birds with one stone.” Like Thompson, sophomore Chason Goldfinger also based his decision to leave high school early on his interest in the two subjects of neuroscience and musical composition. He now plans to pursue both of these subjects in college. Yet unlike Thompson, Goldfinger has chosen to graduate early, completing all of his high school courses before June of his junior year. “I want to get out there, but I also want to get a solid high


Patrick Nicholson Staff Reporter

Students per Grade For Each Counselor

what grade you’re in.” According to Whelan, the changes should not distress students who have formed close relationships with their former counselors. “The former counselor is still available as somebody to check in with,

Graphic:Anisa Tavangar/The SPOKE

to talk, if the senior would like that. We’re not going anywhere, we’re still here, still happy to talk with them,” Whelan said. James Redmond can be reached at

The Spoke is published seven times per 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: Mary Turocy, Laura Weiss Managing Editor: Luke Rafferty News Editor: K.C. McConnell Op-Ed Editor: Haley Xue Features Editor: Natalie West Sports Editors: Maddie Amsterdam, Abby Pioch Copy Editor: Allison Kozeracki Community Relations Editor: Brittany Roker Convergence Editor: Lavi Ben-Dor Business Manager: Heather Ward Photo Editor: Karolis Panavas Cartoonist: Charlotte Clifford, Tina Pan Graphic Design: Margot Field, Anisa Tavangar, Sam Winfield Staff: Kelly Benning, Tracy Cook, Isha Damle, Conor Fitzpatrick, Courtney Kennedy, Emily Klein, David Kramer, Noah Levine, Aly Mingione, Claire Moran, Patrick Nicholson, Emily Omrod, Sophia Ponte, James Redmond, Suproteem Sarkar, YingYing Shang, Jenna Spoont, Shwetha Sudhakar Faculty Advisers: Susan Houseman, Cynthia Crothers-Hyatt


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, Mary Turocy or Laura Weiss. 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.


Distorting reality

The Spoke opposes negative aspects of reality TV “Sister Wives” follows the life of Mormon Fundamentalist Kody Brown who has four wives and 16 children. The show is often a source of controversy since the topic of polygamy is frequently subjected to heated debate. Watching the show unintentionally influences people into believing the misconception that all Mormons practice polygamy when in fact this claim is far from the truth. The misconception about Mormons has become an increasing stereotype in both the social and political realm. Whether people are purposely spreading the stereotype or are merely acting through ignorance, reality shows are partially to blame. We’ve all probably watched some kind of reality show at least once in our lifetime, whether it was “The Bachelorette” or “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” It’s something about watching other people going through their hardships and drama in their lives that makes reality shows appealing to the public. However, the term “reality television” can be deceiving. Reality shows distort reality into unreality and dramatize the lives of the subjects to the point where the people become inhuman objects merely intended for our entertainment. Perhaps it can be entertaining, but certain features go too far. Reality television can portray subjects of the shows as more of something for us to gawk at, criticize and laugh at. Take for example the show “The Bachelorette,” the show featuring one bachelorette who is to date 25 to 30 bachelors and choose her fiancé out of the group. The idea of the show is already highly unrealistic, after all how well can you really get to know someone in 11 weeks enough to

marry them? In addition to the unrealism presented by the show, it also promotes negative values like superficiality and sexual promiscuity. Moreover, “The Bachelorette” also results in hypocritical perspectives on the viewer’s part. People accept the fact that the bachelorette dates multiple men at once, yet the same people are fervently against polygamy in shows like “Sister Wives.” Accompanying the blurring of what is real and what is staged is the problem of overgeneralizing based on the stereotypes created by reality shows. What we see on reality shows on TV subconsciously influences us to define the outlines of how we characterize people outside of the context of the show. In such a way, reality shows are able to perpetuate and even introduce new stereotypes. While we do not necessarily have to give up watching reality shows entirely, we should understand that the shows’ main purpose is usually for entertainment, not necessarily to represent accurate realities. However, we should try to avoid watching reality shows since watching them means that we support the show by increasing the show’s revenue through increase popularity and viewership. The Spoke believes that viewers should know what they are watching and recognize that not everything is completely true. It is our responsibility to make the distinction between what is real on reality shows and what is staged in order to avoid being overly influenced by the shows and end up spreading stereotypes. While it is okay to indulge in a guilty pleasure and watch a reality show once in a while, it is always wise to turn off the TV and return to actual reality.

Contact Us

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Charlotte Clifford/The SPOKE

From the Editor:

Ballad of a Dead Head

Laura Weiss Co-editor-in-chief I was born a shrimpy ginger Dead Head. Thankfully, I escaped the former two but I am still as much of a Grateful Dead fan as ever. The first notes I ever sang were “roll away the dew,” and the first concert that I went to was a Grateful Dead concert so loud that I had to have ear plugs in the back rows. My tie-dyed t-shirts, complete with the steal your face, are my favorites. Wired as a Dead Head from when I was a baby, I was surprised when I asked my dad what the song that I was singing with a huge, missingtooth smile was actually about. We were pulling into the drive-through at Valley Forge Elementary School when he told me how the song was about a man hallucinating on LSD. And all along I had really believed it was just about a man traveling. Being a Dead Head, though it might seem trivial, actually became an important way that I define myself. My mom, I know, always secretly fears that declaring my love for the Grateful Dead will make people think of me in the light of the life the band leads—drugs and rock and roll. But I am proud to be a Dead Head just like my dad. No matter what the band did, they made unbelievable music. I cannot just write off who someone is based on something they do. When I uncovered the true meaning of my favorite songs, my innocence about them was shattered, but I gained a better understanding. I don’t have to blame someone for a problem they have—it’s not who they are. I define myself by my best qualities and my intentions and I can only hope that is how people see me too. It might seem logical to write someone off as a “bad kid” or a “bad influence” but life after high school is not so black and white. Especially in high school, when everything feels like it weighs down heavily on your shoulders, we don’t always do the right thing, and that’s fine. The Grateful Dead made beautiful music and that’s what I choose to define them for. I’m a Dead Head and I’ll proudly (and badly) sing their songs again and again. Laura Weiss can







Occupy Wall Street occupies national attention

Report Card Daylight Savings Time + Brighter mornings and an extra hour of sleep is a bonus - Darker afternoons


Pro: Movement deserves serious attention

Margot Field Graphic Designer In Rittenhouse Square a carnival of life filters in and out of tents on the grassy lawn. A man in his sixties lifts a guitar to his chest and starts playing a protest song as another in his twenties helps set up a tent. The banner facing the street reads in big red letters, words that will one day be in history books: “Occupy Philly.” As high school students, we are looking at an uncertain future. We are no longer in elementary school and no longer have the option of shutting our ears and crawling back to our coloring books when faced with something remotely unpleasant. The point in our lives when we can sit back and trust others to handle national and global issues is over. Across America, people are fighting for a nation where capitalism does not run rampant. The Occupy Wall Street movement has motivated tens of thousands of protestors to camp out for weeks at a time in public places as a method of civil demonstration. While the future of the movement is hazy, one thing is clear: we should be paying attention.

It has been called the “primal scream of democracy” by Al Gore. The budding movement attracts people from all walks of life and ethnicities and is undoubtedly one of the purest examples of democracy in action. In Liberty Plaza, N.Y., the New York City General Assembly congregates over potential demands. Progress is slow but discussion is thorough. Critics may call the system unorganized but that is exactly why it is fantastic. The unfiltered opinions of everyday people airing their grievances make the process remarkable. They are people who are sick and tired and determined. The protestors are not only voicing their complaints but ours as well. They’re fighting for the land of opportunity that America once was. They’re fighting for our family members who have fallen into hard times and our neighbors who might not have been as lucky as we’ve been. Unequal opportunity is an injustice that we must change. If you cannot camp out in Center City, supporting those who can is equally beneficial. The Occupy movement is just beginning. Though its start has been rocky, its participants are unyielding. As Occupy reaches its second month, its critics need to accept the fact that it is not just going to blow over. Margot Field can be reached at

Cheryl Liu for The SPOKE

Con: Protests lack clearly defined goals

Allison Kozeracki Copy Editor It seems that every time we turn on the news, we are bombarded with images of protestors camping out across the country, even in nearby Philadelphia. But if these protestors want to see real change, it is going to take more than a whole lot of media coverage. The first fundamental problem with the movement is that it lacks a clear set of goals. The “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” is essentially a petty list of complaints against corporate America that fails to offer any concrete solutions. And the protestors’ signs aren’t helping, either. Most of the signs, such as those calling to “End Corporate Welfare,” are vague at best. And radical statements like “End the Fed” or “End All Wars” exemplify the essence of the movement—idealistic and confused. But perhaps the worst signs I have seen are the ones that simply state, “Tax the Rich.” The key to solving our nation’s debt is not to put it all on the shoulders of the

richest one or two percent. The key is creating a more equitable tax plan, given that only 53 percent of Americans pay any federal income tax. The second problem with Occupy Wall Street is that neither Washington nor Wall Street has a good reason to change. Unlike the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street is not a politically organized movement. So neither liberals nor conservatives are too worried about it hurting their chances of re-election. With an unemployment rate nearing double digits, Washington just needs to be practical. And Wall Street does not care, either. These protestors are not their customers. Most Wall Streeters are just doing the honest work that holds it together. Rather than enact any radical changes, they are more likely to simply shake their heads at the misunderstanding of their role in the American economy. It is easy to blame those “fat cats” on Wall Street for why you cannot find a job or pay off your student loans. But pitching a tent in front of their buildings is not going to help. And neither will broadcasting it for the entire world to see. The protestors can’t stay out there forever. It’s already November, and I hear this winter is going to be a cold one. Allison Kozeracki can be reached at

+ Another opportunity to see clubs and miss class - Gets boring after going for the fourth period in a row

Pottermore + Finally settles the question of which house you’d be in - There is still severely limited access and content

Blood Drive + Donations are made to a good cause - Must be 16 and weigh 110 pounds in order to participate

New Driving Law + New drivers are better trained before getting their license - Last thing busy students need is more requirements

ParentTeacher Conferences + Gives students an extra day for their Thanksgiving break - Elementary school students get more days off


Find pride in the Pioneer

YingYing Shang Staff Reporter His name is Pete. Yes, the pioneer statue standing guard in our main lobby with his rifle, tunic and fancy fringed leggings has a name. Placed between the bench and a potted plant, Pete the Pioneer has kept me company many long afternoons after track practice, when we were both stranded at school, seemingly unloved by the world. Sitting on the bench in front of giant glass windows with no desire to do homework, I forged a friendship with the mascot of our school. Since I cherish my friendship with Pete the Conestoga pioneer, I am saddened when my peers disparage our mascot. Often, students will snicker at poor Pete at sporting events like football games and call him “sissy.” “Why can’t we have a normal, fierce mascot?” they com-



plain. “Why a little man in fancy leggings and a skirt?” Every high school has a mascot to build unity and embody students’ aspirations. Generally, schools choose animals such as tigers or cougars are for their strength, litheness and ferocity. However, Conestoga rejected these common animals, instead selecting a traditional American figure, the pioneer. Conestoga’s mascot is probably derived from the Conestoga wagon, the namesake of our school. Our mascot refers to Americans who traveled into unexplored territory in the American West in search of a new life. Unlike more transient figures such as cowboys and miners, pioneers sought to establish permanent settlements. While American pioneers banded together in their pursuit for a better life, Conestoga pioneers band together in more than 100 clubs to make a difference. As American pioneers overcame incredible dangers, from fording dangerous rivers to foraging for food and water, Conestoga pioneers exhibit similar determination in academics, athletics and all fields of student activities. Personally, I am proud to be

a Conestoga pioneer, and I think Pete’s leggings are very becoming. The pioneer is the quintessential American, representing innovation, determination, teamwork and hope for a new life—what could be more “fierce” than that? As we toil away at homework, college applications and test preparation, we can find inspiration in the parallel hardships the original pioneers overcame. Cougars, lions, bear and tigers are all valuable species in terms of biodiversity, but pioneers like Pete conquered the American West. Whether or not you are as intimately acquainted with Pete as I am, being a Pioneer should be a point of pride and not something to be ashamed of. Our namesake under took arduous hardships in pursuit of the American dream, and even today, we continue their mission to forge a better tomorrow and pursue our personal dreams. Every day, and especially at interscholastic sporting events, we should all show Pete some love and be proud to be Conestoga Pioneers.

didates’ debate, moderator Anderson Cooper asked the panel to address the issue of a candidate’s religion. Specifically, this question was related to speculation over Mitt Romney’s affiliation with the Mormon faith, formally the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the days prior to the debate, videos had surfaced of Christian pastor Robert Jeffress condemning Romney’s religion as a “cult.” Jeffress

verbally attacked Romney, claiming that Romney’s religion conflicts with American values and that no person of such faith was fit to be president. Romney’s response expressed what he found most troubling: “that idea that we should choose people based upon their religion for public office.” Essentially he’s saying that we as a people are departing from the principles of our Constitution by considering religion in elections.

YingYing Shang can be reached at

“What do you think of our school mascot?”

“I don’t think we see enough of the mascot.” -Freshman Sean Sweetwood

“ It connects to the people at ’Stoga: curious and unafraid to explore.” -Sophomore Annie Xu

“ The pioneer suits us well, because at Conestoga, we’re all about exploring new paths.”

-Junior Courtney Nazaire

“I don’t even know what the school mascot is.” -Senior Scott Rose

Religious perceptions wrongly influence political elections

Tracy Cook Senior Staff Reporter

Forty-five words shape our First Amendment freedoms. While most people cannot recite our Constitution’s First Amendment verbatim, they understand the main principles of our five most basic freedoms—the freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Religion has always been a widespread source of controversy, especially when associated with nationalistic patriotism. In school, we are taught to accept and tolerate other religions, but this practice doesn’t seem to carry over to politics. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, since a candidate’s religion can be distorted by rivals and critics in order to portray the candidate as contradictory to American ideals. In CNN’s Oct. 18 Republican can-

Tina Pan/The SPOKE

This idea exemplifies the flaws in Jeffress’s argument. First of all, if a cult is defined as “a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies” and also “a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.,” then other religions would also be considered a cult by Jeffress’s definition. Secondly, Jeffress’s statement implies that American ideals are consistent with and best represented by a mainstream Christian candidate. However, the increasing diversity of the population means that the religious make-up of the electorate is not as predominantly Christian as it was a few presidential election cycles ago. Further, with regards to the First Amendment’s principle of the government having “no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” political confrontations on the sole issue of religious faith conflict with our implied acceptance of the right to freely practice any religion without fear of discrimination or retribution. When Jeffress dubbed Romney’s faith a cult, he promoted an atmosphere of anger, resentment and disapproval based on the word’s negative

connotation. If this is how we were to elect our candidates, we might as well be checking a religion on the voting ballot, rather than a candidate’s name. We should not elect our officials to office in this manner since religion is a matter of personal choice, not domestic diplomacy. If we are taught to be religiously tolerant in school, shouldn’t we expect the people to adhere to and practice the same principle? The many misconceptions of certain religions—such as the idea that Mormons in general support polygamy—becomes an issue when the electorate begins associating a candidate’s religious affiliation with his or her political platform. We must be able to differentiate ethics and values from religious faith to better ascertain if we are supporting a candidate whose values reflect our own. While I may not agree with all of Romney’s policies and ideologies, I can affirm that I would not belittle his views on the basis of his religious faith. We should be able to separate and remain true to both our own faith and our First Amendment rights. Tracy Cook can be reached at




Grammar saves lives, comma by comma

Haley Xue Op-Ed Editor

Tina Pan/The SPOKE

To t h e Ed i to r Dear Editor,

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I disagreed with the article “Joke’s on you: Political satirists fool viewers.” As a loyal watcher of “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and “The Colbert Report” (and a member of the audience of The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear last October), I can say that viewers of these shows are not uneducated at all. Rick Parry was not created to fool Republican voters, but to poke fun at him to a liberal audience. Unless voters truly did not know how to spell “Perry,” Rick Parry’s success was due to liberal pranksters, not a serious Republican voter. As for Sarah Palin, she had plenty instances to prove herself as an “inexperienced candidate.” Tina Fey only increased her popularity to the liberal audience—the people who would go on to quote “I can see Russia from my house!” We know it’s satire, and that’s why we quote it. Political satire, specifically that on Comedy Central, draws a certain audience—one that is young, educated and liberal. They are not “uneducated members of the electorate.” “The Daily Show” is the primary source of news for people ages 18 to 24. Besides, I’ve learned more about what’s happening in politics from Jon Stewart than I have from any other major news station. The audience that is influenced by this kind of political satire knows that it is satire and that it is not to be taken seriously. Elise Romberger Senior Dear Editor, To the recent article about the exchange students, I would like to add some important information. These great American Field Service students would not be at Conestoga, were it not for their host families’ willingness to open their hearts and homes to them for the entire school year! Lauren Davies: Cindy and Steve Brauer Julie Goettert: Elizabeth Lanzaro Masha Philippova: Lisa and Jeff Thomas Guillaume Rivier: Leslie and Jack Lavender Ali Rodoplu: Kim and John Ogunkeye Lourenço Silva: Cammy and Jeff Wagner On behalf of the Conestoga community, a huge thank you to these wonderful families. Carolyn Veith Conestoga American Field Service Chapter Coordinator

Compare these two sentences: “Let’s eat, grandma!” versus “Let’s eat grandma!” Yes, one has a comma and the other doesn’t, but beyond that, the meanings of the two sentences are completely different. Unless you’re seriously suggesting to eat your grandma (which would be cannibalism), the former is probably what most would consider to be the correct sentence. Although grammar, usage and spelling bloopers are highly amusing sometimes, they have also become an area of concern for the generation of technology-dependent teenagers. With the availability of texting and social networking sites like Facebook, our grammar and spelling skills have greatly declined. Writing is a large part of communication skills, and thus we should learn how to write correctly. The decline can be partially attributed to our dependence on technology to catch our mistakes. As most—if not all—students use Microsoft Word to complete assignments, there’s an increased reliance on Word to help catch grammatical and spelling errors. At the same time, part of our lack of grammar skills stems from the American education system’s attitude regarding writing in general. The sentiment toward writing is focused on creativity, and although creativity in writing is important in establishing voice and style, it’s equally important to learn the set grammar rules too. We should focus first on grammar and then build off of the rules to explore writing styles. Admittedly, grammar isn’t the most interesting subject to learn about. Rules like “use a plural verb when referring to individuals of a collective noun, but use a singular verb if you’re referring to the components of the noun as a single entity” can be confusing at first. Nonetheless, it’s still extremely important to know at least the basics. Skills like when to use “who” versus

“whom” and how to avoid dangling modifiers should come naturally at the high school level. As English speakers, we shouldn’t be making simple mistakes in our own language. With the increased emphasis on personal essays for college applications, grammar is becoming of greater importance for teenagers. Vassar and Bates Colleges collected a list of amusing blunders on college application essays. Instead of writing “I was inducted into the National Honor Society,” a student accidentally wrote “I was abducted into the National Honor Society.” Needless to say, colleges aren’t going to be impressed with grammatical or spelling errors in personal essays. Other grammar mistakes with rules like parallel structure and faulty comparisons in essays aren’t going to increase your chances of getting admitted. While it’s okay to use texting abbreviations and forget a comma here or there when texting or chatting on Facebook, grammar and usage are still important. It’s quite awkward and embarrassing when you’re trying to console a friend by typing “I heard your bad news,” but instead type “I heard you’re bad news.” Perhaps those “grammar Nazis” patrolling Facebook aren’t so annoying after all. Therefore, we shouldn’t rely on Microsoft Word to correct our mistakes, but instead bear the responsibility of mastering grammar on our own shoulders. You don’t have to become a grammar guru, but it’s important to know the basics like when to use “affect” versus “effect” and what an adverb is. Schools should put more emphasis on teaching grammar to students at a younger age so that they have a solid foundation for the future. Moreover, grammar shouldn’t be clumped together with learning how to write. Grammar should be taught as a separate part of the curriculum in elementary, middle and high schools in order to ensure that students have proficient knowledge of the rules of language. Although grammar and spelling may be boring, it’s still important for us as English speakers living in America to learn the rules. But if you still question the importance of grammar, remember this: grammar might just save your grandma’s life. Haley Xue can be reached at

Features WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2011

offers Harry Potter fans a world of possibilities Aly Mingione Staff Reporter Sophomore Carly Milito opens her Internet browser to her new favorite page and is suddenly surrounded with endless opportunities. Will she visit Gryffindor’s common room? Or does she feel like brewing up a new potion? Regardless of her choice, J.K. Rowling’s new website, Pottermore, brings the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the fingertips of Harry Potter fans. With the release of the movie “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” on July 11, the Harry Potter phenomenon officially came to a close. Fans across the world were devastated to see their favorite childhood pastime end, and eagerly sought ways to keep the magic of Harry Potter alive. “I was sad to see most of it end, but I feel like it will never really be over,” junior Niko Torres said. “You can always reminisce.” Pottermore makes the reminiscing even easier, and enables fans to experience the magical world of Harry Potter from a new

perspective. On July 31, Pottermore was released to the first one million fans that completed “The Magical Quill” challenge, which lasted for one week, from July 31 to Aug. 6. Each day, a new clue was posted on the site relating to a different book in the Harry Potter series. After correctly solving the clues, users were redirected to a website where the Magical Quill was located. The first one million fans to complete the challenge were admitted to the world of Pottermore, and Rowling plans to use the feedback from these Beta users to improve the site before opening it to the general public. “Over the summer I really wanted to get in, but no one knew when [clues would be posted],” sophomore Erin Kneeley said. “But I got lucky one morning [when] I went on and the riddle was still there.” Kneeley and thousands of other fans rushed to complete the challenge, eager to experience Pottermore’s interactive ways of exploring the Harry Potter novels. Users can virtually follow Harry through his adventures and collect magical items, such as potion ingredients, in the process.

Kneeley, a longtime Potter fan, was one of the few lucky enough to gain early admittance to the site. Pottermore will give fans like Kneeley just the Harry Potter fix they have been searching for by offering access to new material by Rowling. The site will include unpublished manuscripts that did not fit into the series. “I just want to [read] more of J.K. Rowling’s writing,” Kneeley said. Upon acceptance into the site, fans are sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Sorting“was the biggest thing about Pottermore that everyone was looking forward to,” Milito said. Interactive activities let fans experience a life as a Hogwarts student, and help their fantasies become tangible. Junior Mariam Sarkessian especially likes how Pottermore lets her to test her skills at brewing potions. “You use your mouse to bring ingredients over to a cauldron and mix it up. If you do it right, you earn house points,” Sarkessian said.

number of potential Pottermore beta users

active Pottermore beta users The opportunities with Pottermore are virtually endless, from exploring the novels to dueling with fellow wizards. Pottermore is certainly keeping the magic alive, but many diehard fans were never concerned about it dying out in the first place.

“It’s a series that will keep itself alive,” Sarkessian said. “It has been a revolutionary series and it should be talked about even after it’s finished.” Aly Mingione can be reached at




Students volunteer at Timothy School fall carnival Reporting by Mary Turocy Photos by Luke Rafferty Instead of just wistfully recalling their childhood memories, some students helped recreate them for autistic children at the Timothy School in Berwyn. On Oct. 28, ten members of Student Council volunteered at the school’s second annual fall carnival. “It’s priceless,” said Monica Russo, a Timothy School employee who coordinated Conestoga’s participation. The students “were making sure that all those kids were engaged and having a great time. We know we can count on them.”

Lavi Ben-Dor/The SPOKE

Above: Junior Joe Scuteri helps a Timothy School student complete the inflatable obstacle course. Right: Senior Ally Weigand gives an autistic student a temporary tattoo. Weigand said that one challenge was interacting with students who had trouble verbalizing their emotions.“I’m not a very patient person,” she said. “But it’s been a good exercise in patience.”

Above: Junior Ricky Melli supervises children in the moon bounce. Melli, who is on the Best Buddies board at Conestoga, coordinates Student Council’s partnership with the Timothy School. “I love it,” Melli said. “It’s a fun interaction with the kids.”

Actors put modern spin on classic Shakespearean tale Noah Levine Staff Reporter Picture William Shakespeare, the renowned English author of nearly 38 plays and 154 sonnets, in his Globe Theater, watching one of his productions. Now picture him on a beach in the 1960s. Absurd as it may sound, the director of Conestoga’s fall drama, Nicole Gerenyi, saw potential and humor in her daring adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” “Twelfth Night” will be performed four times Nov. 17-19. Despite its humorous façade, it was far from easy to produce for Conestoga’s actors. Gerenyi said that she worked hard to adapt the play from its original format without losing any of its meaning or significance. “We’re using actual Shakespearean dialogue,” Gerenyi said. “We’ve cut a little bit for timing, but it’s all Shakespeare.” In Conestoga’s adaptation of the comedy, the setting has been altered in an effort to modernize

the play and make it more relevant for today’s audiences. “The lines are still Shakespearean so the way we present them and the way we play our characters are more modern than the words we’re saying,” senior Gabrielle Niggeman said. In order to create a modern and complete setting, costumes for the play were also modernized. “My character went from wearing gowns to wearing a bathing suit,” she said. Niggeman also said that she found the contradiction between the play’s modern setting and old English language to be confusing at first. “It’s a little strange but after understanding the meaning of the words and working on it a lot, I just say it as if I was in the ’50s or ’60s, not in Shakespearean time,” Niggeman said. Gerenyi said that the setting changes were an attempt to add to the physical comedy because of the difficulty for viewers to understand the language.

For instance, in one particular scene in the play, swords were replaced with water pistols. “Everybody that enters gets a bigger and bigger gun, [and in the end] when two soldiers that are fighting enter, they have Super Soakers,” Gerenyi said. In addition to putting a modern spin on the setting, the director has also transformed individual characters. The role of Malvolio, a house servant of the lady Olivia in the original format, has been altered. He is “a nerd who is hopelessly in love with this girl [whom] is never going to be able to date,” said junior Fritz Fischer, who plays Malvolio. Throughout the process, Gerenyi and the actors realized that directing and adapting a production is a process that requires dedication and troubleshooting abilities. “There are new discoveries up to the curtain, even beyond your first show,” Gerenyi said. Gerenyi also believes that the

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

Seniors Connor Umsted and Gabrielle Niggeman rehearse “Twelfth Night” after school. The cast will perform the drama four times from Nov. 17-19. characters “feed off of each other.” of the dialogue beyond just the By helping one another develop memorization. “I think the character starts their roles, the actors improve their individual characters as well as the to take shape from the moment you read it,” Gerenyi said. “But it comedy as a whole. Adapting the play into a pro- doesn’t ever finalize, and that is the duction that is funny and acces- beauty of live theater.” sible for all audiences has allowed cast members to gain a greater Noah Levine can be reached at understanding of the meaning




Students upload videos, plug into new source of income Lavi Ben-Dor Convergence Editor Several times each month, senior Gordon Jackson documents his latest Nerf gun project with a video camera and uploads the result to YouTube, just like any other person brave enough to plunge into a community of videographers, musicians and fans. Yet he differs from many casual users in that he is rewarded for his hard work with a paycheck. Jackson and several other students profit from their YouTube videos’ popularity by monetizing their accounts, giving them a unique source of income. “Google actually came to me with a partnership program when I was 14 [that] appeared on the top of my homepage [that said], ‘YouTube partner program: place ads against your videos to earn revenue,’” Jackson said. “I was kind of against the idea at first, because then I wouldn’t be making videos for my fans— I’d be making videos [to earn] money.” Jackson said that he eventually clicked on the ad a few months later, decided that he would try it out and filled out a form. Once his proposal was approved, he began earning revenue as he continued to earn more views for his previously uploaded videos and add new ones to his channel. His account, uin13, features videos of him reconstructing and testing Nerf guns. The partner program invites advertisers to pay YouTube to advertise on the site. Businesses can advertise on the channels of YouTube partners, where their ads are placed on the sidebar of the pages or as videos

that play directly before the partner’s video. YouTube spokesperson Matt McLernon noted that the range of income partners earn varies greatly, so the program could potentially serve as a job for a partner in high school. “We have lots of different partners [now more than 20,000 in 25 countries around the world] who make a wide range of revenue,” McLernon said. “We pay out millions annually across all partners, and hundreds even make six figures or more. Success varies widely from partner to partner, but many partners have turned the program into their full-time job—just like in any other job, it takes hard work, creativity and dedication.” Jackson estimates that he has made more than $10,000 since he signed up for the advertisement program in 2008 and now makes between $400 and $500 each month. He said that he considers it a job and encourages other students whose accounts have large fan bases to think about signing up for the program. “If you can develop a fan base, then it’s an excellent way

Margot Field/The SPOKE

Senior Gordon Jackson shows off his newest Nerf gun project on his YouTube channel. By signing up for a partner program for his YouTube account, uin13, Jackson earns money from Google for his hard work. you could still work other jobs and then possibly gain twice as much as a normal teenager.” Senior Devin Trejo also profits from his YouTube account, dominicanboi94, where he posts videos about magic tricks and video games. He said that he has earned approximately $1,000 since he joined the YouTube partner program in early 2010 and makes around $50 per month. Trejo said that users must gain popularity before profiting from their account, which can be difficult and time-consuming. “It’s really, really hard to get noticed on YouTube,” Trejo said. “If you get it to work for you, it has very good income, but don’t count on it being a good source of income for a while.” Both Trejo and Jackson have other jobs, and the impact of their YouTube account on their overall income differs. Trejo said that he works at several places, and YouTube is a source of extra money for him. Jackson works at a karate studio in Wayne, and said that his account ends up being a significant portion of his income. While Trejo’s account does

“If you can develop a fan base, then it’s an excellent way to make money.” -Senior Gordon Jackson to make money,” Jackson said. “I only work an hour a week on YouTube because that’s how long it takes for me to shoot, edit and upload a video, so if you were to work an hour a week,

not play a major role in the amount of money he makes, he said it has made him more engaged in his earnings. “It’s made me more aware of my finances,” Trejo said. “I didn’t have a job when I first started making money off of it, so it was sort of like my first job.” According to Jackson, profiting from his account has motivated him to talk with other YouTube members who have monetized their accounts to discuss potential ways to increase their incomes. “I know a lot of other partners that do the same kinds of videos as me, and almost monthly, we talk about ways that we can join together videos or do group conferences, so that way we can boost all of our revenue,” Jackson said. Jackson said that making money from his videos has led him to try to create and upload as many videos as he can make time to produce. “I’m not going to lie—it makes me want to put out videos more often than I used to, and now that I’m a senior, I don’t have a ton of time, but I wouldn’t be putting up as many videos if I weren’t being paid,” Jackson said. McLernon said that he thinks

that participating in the partner program can allow high school students to explore and publicize their talents. “I think it’s a great opportunity for someone in high school to consider,” McLernon said. “Everyone has some unique talent, and with 3 billion views a day and 800 million people per month coming to YouTube, there are lots of people out there to find an audience with and make money doing something you love.” Lavi Ben-Dor can be reached at

Take a snapshot of this QR code with your smart phone to view the article on and find links to the YouTube accounts of seniors Gordon Jackson and Devin Trejo.



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The Spoke: What is your favorite punctuation mark? Laurel Light: The dash because it’s eye catching, different and has a snappy name. I mean, really, who is going to get excited about a colon? T.S.: How long have you been teaching? L.L.: Thirteen years. T.S.: What made you want to teach? L.L.: I think the desire was innate. As a very young girl, I used to line up my dolls in front of a chalkboard and give them spelling lessons. T.S.: What advantages does being an English teacher give you? L.L: I love class discussions with my students. It lets me know how they think and keeps me upto-date with the next generation. T.S.: Who’s your favorite author?


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d Americ etition an

L.L.: Wow! That’s a tough one! Hey, I’m an English teacher. I’ll stick to humor here—David Sedaris

T.S.: If you were to write a book, what would it be about? L.L.: It would be historical fiction about the changing role of women in American society and what this means in terms of “traditions” such as marriage and family. T.S.: What’s one thing you would change about ’Stoga? L.L.: It has already happened: eliminating the eight-minute bell. T.S.: What do you like to do in your free time? L.L.: I like reading, running and hiking, cycling, gardening, traveling. T.S.: If you weren’t a teacher, what could you see yourself doing? L.L.: Easy. I’d be a corporate event planner.

L.L.: Probably overuse of passive voice, if that can be considered a grammatical mistake. It deadens writing and makes me read more words! T.S.: What is your biggest pet peeve? L.L.: People who talk on the phone while driving, because they become totally oblivious to anything around them.

T.S.: What high school activities were you involved in? L.L.: Varsity field hockey, senior editor of the yearbook, co-editor of the school newspaper, member of Quill and Scroll, a national honor society for high school journalists, chorus, NHS, Student Council, and second chair violin for the orchestra. T.S.: What is something most people don’t know about you?

T.S.: What is your favorite teaching moment? L.L.: When I stepped in front of a classroom for the first time as a student teacher and truly felt that I had found a career that I love.

L.L.: I have degrees in Humanities, Psychology and English. However, I love math and science and began college as a pre-med student.

T.S.: What grammatical mistake can you not stand?

T.S.: How many pairs of heels do you own? L.L.: Fewer than Imelda Marcos!





Students find companionship in unconventional pets

David Kramer Staff Reporter And on that farm she had a what? How about a Vietnamese Potbellied pig? Aside from the usual cat or dog, some families at Conestoga choose to devote their time and attention to more farm-worthy animals. Sophomore Annie Medosch purchased her 135-pound oinker nearly two years ago as a rescue from Scranton, Pa. She wakes up early every morning to let her pig Bluto outside into her pen, and to make sure she has plenty of grain and hay. Medosch also owns a dog, two cats and a pet rat, and thinks that Bluto is much smarter than her other animals. “You can definitely sense the intelligence that [pigs] have compared to dogs and cats,” Medosch said. “Cats ignore us and dogs are hyper and clumsy.” Having Bluto as a pet comes with many responsibilities. Bluto has to go to a special farm animal veterinarian, Dr. Wilbert. She eats anything and everything, and makes a mess if the kitchen cabinets are left open. Frequent baths and a clean pen are necessities. Medosch walks Bluto daily, which generates unusual reactions from other people. People mainly say, “‘You don’t see that every day’,” Medosch said. Bluto’s intelligence goes beyond her ability to open containers. She knows commands for sit, stay and shake. She also has a four-key piano and imitates what Medosch plays.

Medosch recalls a time when her sister, junior Katie Medosch, fell off the porch in the backyard. Bluto, sensing that she was in pain, immediately went and sat with her. “She’s very responsive to human emotions,” Annie Medosch said. Other students keep their farm animals as a resource for food. When he was in eighth grade, senior Joey Marlino’s family decided to buy a chicken coop for their backyard. According to Marlino, the chickens do not require much work to keep. He lets them out of their coop in the morning and makes sure they are back inside by sundown. Free eggs are a benefit, but a dreaded 3 a.m. wake-up call from the roosters is a downside that takes some getting used to for the Marlino family and their neighbors. “People are really surprised that we’re raising chickens on the Main Line,” Marlino said. “They get a kick out of it.” The majority of the chickens are friendly and allow people to hold them. A few unlucky chickens have been taken by the neighborhood raccoons, foxes and the occasional chicken hawk that feast on the easy catch. Sophomore Brenna Babiy recently bought four chickens online. Big Bertha, Ruby, Poppy and Piper were shipped from Fortsville, Pa. and arrived live in the mail. Now, only three weeks old, they stay in cardboard boxes under a heat lamp inside the house. “I always look forward to coming home and seeing the chickens and

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

Sophomore Brenna Babiy feeds her four pet chickens. Babiy ordered the chickens in the mail, and now keep them in a cardboard pen. The chickens, which are only a few weeks old, will start producing eggs in the springtime. taking care of them, or visiting them for a little bit,” Babiy said. In March or April, Babiy expects the chickens to give eggs, which is the main reason she purchased them. “We’ve gotten eggs from our friends who have had chickens and they definitely taste a lot better and more natural,” Babiy said. They are “just healthier and less processed.” Senior Kya Kerner acquired her unusual pet in a more impulsive way. After a car struck and killed a doe, her fawn had nowhere to go. Kerner was able to give the deer, which she named Momee, a place to stay.

Photo courtesy Kya Kerner

As a child, senior Kya Kerner pets her deer Momee. After providing a home for the orphan fawn, Kerner eventually released Momee into the wild. Momee still returned to visit Kerner and her family for treats after they let her go.

“We knew that she wouldn’t survive as a baby deer in the wilderness,” Kerner said. “We decided that we would raise her until she was ready to go out by herself.” Kerner found that Momee’s behavior resembled the behavior of her dog. She loved to sit on Kerner’s lap, lick her face and run around the yard. “It was weird how much like a dog she was,” Kerner said. Kerner kept her deer inside their house until Momee was older and she was able to roam their fenced-in backyard. Momee stayed in their

barn, eating cut up fruit, such as papayas and apples. Eventually, Momee grew to be too large to be kept as a family pet, and Kerner released her into the wild. These animals are far from the usually seen pets, but their unique personalities still touch the hearts of their owners. “Even after we let [Momee] go, she would keep coming back to get the fruit that we left on our lawn,” Kerner said. David Kramer can be reached at




Emily Omrod Staff Reporter


Emily Omrod Senior Staff Reporter

Jake Neumar

“More than a Song” Available on iTunes

Many people have tried to write poetry. Others have experimented in writing songs. But for senior Jake Neumar, dabbling in writing music is almost second nature. He has recorded over a hundred songs and has released his first Extended Play (EP) on iTunes. Neumar is an experienced musician whose school activities include Marching Band and Cam-

erata. He has been writing and recording songs since he was eight, and has finally reached his goal of exposing his music to the public. After signing a contract with TuneCore last year, he receives 78 cents from every download on iTunes. Neumar’s music is steadily gaining popularity; people have purchased his songs from as far away as Europe, Australia and Russia. The title of his newly re-

leased EP, “More Than a Song,” rings true for Neumar, who has dedicated years to his passion. “It’s my three best songs that I recorded in high school. One is from this year, one is from this past summer and one is from last year,” Neumar said. Listeners would be surprised to hear that Neumar is new to playing the piano. He said that he is excited about the prospect of learning a new instrument. “I play the drums, the guitar, the piano, the bass and I sing,” Neumar said. “I’ve been playing drums the longest, so I’m the best at that but my favorite right now is probably the piano. I think part of the reason I like it so much is that I don’t know much about it.”


Spoke Sudoku

Review Music with a message is the best way to describe Neumar’s three singles. His lyrics mostly deal with hope for the future and budding of high school romance. Categorized mostly as pop-rock or soft alternative, Neumar’s music is relaxing and quiet. “Hold You Close” is his strongest song, and the lyrics are heartfelt and reminiscent of the song “Vulnerable” by Secondhand Serenade or “Nothing” by The Script. Neumar’s easy falsetto comes in at all the right moments. The strongest part of Neumar’s music is his lyrics. Their creativity and originality shine through the music and are meaningful to him. Neumar says that he writes his music as a gift to God, and that his songs are a thank you for everything God has blessed him with. “He gave me the gift so I’m giving it back,” Neumar said. Neumar’s singles, “Turn Around,” “Hold Me Close” and “We’re Home,” can be found on iTunes. Emily Omrod can be reached at



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Pottermore opens wizarding world



Gymnasts flip for thrill of competition

See p. 14


NOVEMBER 16, 2011

See p. 23



Mormon students combat misconceptions and stereotypes as their religion is increasingly magnified in the national spotlight.

Graphic: Mary Turocy/The SPOKE

Kelly Benning & K.C. McConnell Staff Reporter & News Editor “What’s your mom-to-dad ratio?” Junior Maddie Small was just three days into her freshman year at Conestoga when a fellow student asked her this question during math class. Small is one of several Conestoga students who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church) and meets each morning before school to practice her religion, a faith more commonly known as Mormonism. In America, Mormons are sometimes known as being polygamists and cult members—even though neither of these stereotypes are true. Yet even in the face of this ignorance, Small has kept her head held high.

“It was quite an interesting experience,” Small says with a chuckle. “I was taken aback, but I laughed it off and corrected [the student] kindly.” According to a 2007 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans state that they know “not very much to nothing” about Mormonism. Because of this, Mormons may face discrimination at the hands of ignorance. With the emergence of two possible Mormon Republican presidential candidates, the Church of the Latter-Day Saints has become a topic of national discussion. According to Small, many Americans do not have an accurate perception of Mormonism. Yet Small says that the she is willing to help others understand her religion. “I’m happy to tell people the [truth],” Small says. “I’m totally happy to answer questions.”

Meaning of Mormonism

Many Americans have misconceptions about what the Mormon religion actually entails. Contrary to what some may believe, Mormonism is neither non-Christian nor a cult. “In a nutshell, we are far less different than most people would think or what they have heard [in the media],” says LDS Church Bishop Kevin Cook of the Valley Forge second ward. “We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in God, the Heavenly Father. We also believe in the Holy Ghost.” Mormonism and its religious text, the “Book of Mormon,” were founded by American Joseph Smith, Jr. in the 1820s. Mormonism differs from mainstream Christianity in that Mormons believe that Jesus appeared in the Western Hemisphere and that Church presidents are prophets, according to “The Encyclopedia of

World Religions.” The church also teaches that man may become divine. A particularly popular myth about Mormons involves the church and polygamy—plural marriage involving several wives to one husband. But Mormons that belong to the official church no longer practice any form of plural marriage, Cook says. “If anyone was to try to practice [polygamy], they would be excommunicated. It is no longer a principle that is in practice,” Cook says. “Other splinter groups who have broken off from the church practice it. They are not Mormons; they are not part of the Latter-day Saint Church. They renamed their own church. Some of them have had some prominence in the news, [but] that’s not us.” See MORMONISM, p. 4




Girls Swimming

Last Year: The team advanced four wrestlers to the district tournament, two wrestlers to the state tournament and one wrestler to the regional tournament. This Year: The squad is looking to win the Central League title and advance as many wrestlers as possible into the postseason. With a good mix of old and new faces, the team plans to achieve their goals by focusing on conditioning and filling out a wide range of weight classes.

Last Year: 2011 was a big year for the girls’ swim team. They celebrated their hundredth consecutive win, claimed an eleventh straight Central League title and sent several athletes to the state championships.

Boys Swimming Last Year: The boys’ swim team won the Central League title. They advanced an impressive eleven swimmers to districts, where a number of boys were competitive in their respective races. This Year: With many younger swimmers showing potential, the team is hoping to defend their Central League title and advance a relay to the state meet.

Boys Basketball

Winter Track

Last Year: The team used speed and an experienced team to their advantage, finishing the season with a record of 10-10. This Year: After losing seven seniors to graduation, the squad is hoping to hold its own this year. They would like to win the Central League Championship and play far into the postseason.

This Year: As the winter season approaches, girls on the squad are hoping to keep up their momentum and have another undefeated season.

Then and now By Maddie Amsterdam, Co-sports Editor

Girls Basketball Last Year: In 2010, the girls’ basketball team mainly consisted of underclassmen that were outmatched by many opponents. The team finished their season with a record of 4-18, but maintained a positive attitude and focused on improving throughout the season. This Year: The team is hoping to make a big comeback and bring’Stoga back to the top of the Central League. The squad would like to see their record above .500 for the season and qualify for the district playoffs.

As the winter sports season approaches, athletes look forward to achievement and success in the Central League, Districts and possibly state competitions.

Last Year: The indoor track team used last season as a rebuilding year—with a young and inexperienced squad, runners were able to grow and improve through hard practice. This Year: This year the athletes are hoping to use last year’s experiences to give the team more confidence and set higher expectations. The squad is hoping to become more competitive, particularly at the state level.



Ice hockey strives to defend Central League title

Courtney Kennedy Staff Reporter As the boys’ ice hockey team dives into the 2011-12 season, the biggest question surrounding the team is if the Pioneers can live up to last year’s Central League Championship victory. With a current record of 2-0-1, the team is looking forward to an exciting season. In addition to defending their Central League title, the Pionners hope to win the Flyers Cup and the State Championship. “We want to make sure we work hard to get as far as we can this year,” sophomore Andrew Turner said. The hockey team has found success in recent years, winning the Flyers Cup in 2008 and earning the Central League title last season. Despite finishing at the top of the the Central League last season, the team went through a rough patch halfway through their season. “In the middle of the season, we kind of hit a wall,” senior Robert Donovan said. “We weren’t really playing up to the potential we should have been playing at. But


we still had our eyes set on the Central League Championship.” The team struggled after losing several games in a row midseason, and many thought that they would be out of contention for the Central League title. The team shocked their fans with a comeback in the playoffs. “Going into playoffs, we didn’t really think that we would do as well,” senior Brody Shea said. “We surprised everyone. It just goes to show how well we can play.” ’Stoga is looking to defend their championship title this season after losing ten players from their 201011 squad. This year’s team is made up of ten seniors, six sophomores and two freshmen. “We have a lot of new faces this year, so it has been an adjustment trying to get the new guys to compete and think at a faster pace and get acclimated to our team systems,” head coach Mike Graves said. With no juniors on the team, the seniors and returning players have stepped up to acclimate the new additions to the team’s high level of play. The returning players on the team will be looking to

use their playoff experience to lead the team. “We have a lot of experienced players who played in the playoffs last year, so they know what it’s like to play in a big game,” senior Griffin Lee said.

With three games under their belt, the Pioneers are hoping to maintain a confident and mature playing style. Graves and the rest of the coaching staff have been impressed with what they have seen from the team so far.

“They have started well,” Graves said. “I expect us to continue to get better every time we step onto the ice.”

outstanding players that carry the team,” Laganelli said. After earning a bye for the first round of District One playoffs, the

Pioneers came out victorious with a 3-0 win during a home game against Owen J. Roberts on Oct. 27. Early the next week on Oct.

31, the Pioneers defeated North Penn in a penalty kick shoot-out. Junior Brody Schofield said the team’s stablilty was instrumental

in their successes during the 2011 season. “I think just with all the success we have had there are not really a lot of weaknesses. Everyone balances each other out,” Schofield said. On Nov. 2, the Pioneers again finished victoriously after a game against Central Bucks South with final score of 2-1. Later that week on Nov. 5, the boys beat Council Rock North to clinch the title as District One champions with a close 2-1 score. Junior Danny Gonzalez said the boys are working to focus on each individual game. “We are trying to win in advance,” Gonzalez said. “Each game we are trying to focus on just that game and keep playing.” On Nov. 8, the Pioneers took on Wilson High School during the first round of state playoffs. The boys squad came out on top with a final score of 2-1. The boys play again on Nov. 12 against Central Bucks East in the state quarerfinals.

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

Senior Tim Quinn skates the puck up the ice in the opening game against Ridley. The team won by a score of 8-1.

Courtney Kennedy can be reached at

Boys soccer shoots and scores in postseason success

Shwetha Sudhakar Staff Reporter Senior Nick Laganelli’s most unforgettable memory of the 2011 soccer season is when the varsity boys beat North Penn on Oct. 31 to qualify for state playoffs. After finishing off regulation time, the teams were tied 0-0, but the Pionners came out on top by outscoring North Penn 4-2 during penalty kicks. “It was a very close game, and we won in a dramatic fashion,” Laganelli said of the game against North Penn. But when their season, began on Sept. 2, the varsity boys soccer team had no idea they were going to be so successful this season. After capturing the title of Central League champions on Oct. 13 in a game against Ridley that the Pioneers won 7-0, the boys advanced to the district playoffs. Laganelli said he attributes much of the boy’s success to the well-rounded nature of the team this season. “This year ’s team is more skilled overall, rather than a few

Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

Junior T-Ben Donnie dribbles down the field on Nov. 8 against Wilson High School in the first round of state playoffs. The boys are looking forward to more success in the postseason.

Shwetha Sudhakar can be reached at




The Fitz Factor: Paterno should have stepped down

Conor Fitzpatrick Staff Reporter

For 44 years, one man has been calling the shots for Penn State Football. That man, the legendary Joe Paterno, is now leaving the Nittany Lions amidst a dark cloud of controversy. His former assistant, Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky, has been accused of sexually assaulting at least eight young boys over 15 years. One of Penn State’s Assistant Coaches Mike McQueary, who is now on administrative leave, allegedly told Paterno of Sandusky’s actions, which he witnessed when working as a graduate assistant for the team, about ten years ago. Paterno reportedly went to his boss,

Athletic Directory Tim Curley, but when the concern was eventually not investigated, Paterno did not speak out. Paterno did what was required of him, but there is understandable outrage that he did not do more. It was Paterno’s obligation to bring McQueary to the police and have McQueary explain what he saw. As Penn State’s coach, it was Paterno’s responsibility to make sure that the concern was thoroughly investigated. As the scandal of Sandusky’s abuse spreads through the media, Paterno announced that he will retire at the end of the 2011 season. But late on Nov. 9, the Penn State Board of Trustees announced that Paterno was released from his duties as head coach, effective immediately. But what Paterno, as a respected leader at Penn State and on the football field, should have done was step down as head coach before waiting to be fired. State College has become one big circus of media attention and

scandal, but Paterno could have helped to stop the hysteria. This circus is distracting the football team and is detrimental to the atmosphere of Penn State as a whole. According to reports, teachers have canceled classes in State College to talk about the scandal and specifically “JoePA.” If Paterno would have stepped down graciously before being released from his position, he would not be admitting guilt, but rather leaving Penn State with dignity, showing his devotion to his team and the best interest of the university. Before being released of his duties, Paterno did not coach the team anymore; he was more of a symbol of Penn State than an active head coach. The team will survive without Paterno, since he spent games in the coaches’ box without a headset and not communicating with the field, making him more of a symbol of the team, like the Nittany Lion. Regardless of Paterno’s choices, Penn State will never be able

to outrun this scandal. It will always be a part of the university’s history. The media storm is at its worst now, but if Paterno had stepped down first, the focus would switch from Paterno to the man who deserves to be the target of pub-

Charlotte Clifford/The SPOKE

lic scrutiny, the accused, Jerry Sandusky. Sadly, Joe Paterno has become the face of the scandal instead of the person who is truly to blame. Conor Fitzpatrick can be reached at

























*All updates as of Nov. 11.


1 2 3 4 5 6



Player Profiles Six things you didn’t know about...

I’ve been playing squash for three years. I started playing at Conestoga. My friend got me into [playing squash]. I went and played with him a couple of times and I liked it so I just picked it up.


I’ve been playing field hockey since seventh grade. I’ve been on varsity three full years because I was moved up [from junior varsity] freshman year.


I really love the girls on the field hockey team because they are all so fun, and we work really well together on the field.

My favorite part about squash at Conestoga is the team—it’s just a good environment. Also, I love going to nationals once a year. It’s a tournament with of all the high schools in the nation in Connecticut.


I actually played soccer since kindergarten and I broke my ankle twice. My mom told me that I had to give up soccer, so I started field hockey.

4 5 6

Other than playing field hockey, I also run track.

I used to play soccer and lacrosse.

I’m playing field hockey in college for American University.

I’ll probably play squash in college on a club team, I really want to continue playing.

Claire McDugall Varsity Field Hockey

John Atkinson Varsity Squash

My favorite Gatorade flavor is the red one, fruit punch.


My favorite Gatorade flavor is mango which I had when I was in the Caribbean.


Gymnasts bend backward for competition Sophia Ponte Staff Reporter Nerves, stress, euphoria, pride, relief. These are some of the emotions that might pass through the mind of a typical student gymnast who must balance time between schoolwork, gymnastics and other activities. Although it is no longer a Conestoga team sport, many student gymnasts compete for local clubs where they spend up to 16 hours each week flipping, stretching and performing complex routines in four main events: balance beam, bars, floor and vault. Junior Nicole Zabinski, who has been training in gymnastics for eight years, spends an average of 12 hours each week practicing at the Upper Main Line YMCA. Zabinski competes in level nine gymnastics, the highest in the YMCA league. During practice, she spends her time working on personal routines to improve her fitness and the fluidity of her exercises. “At my level we know what we’re doing,” Zabinski said. “I

personally work cycles for myself to prepare for competitions.” Some student gymnasts find managing a full school schedule, an intensive training program and the stress of competition difficult. Having experience with stress and time management skills is essential if student gymnasts want to succeed, Zabinski said. “Since I’ve been doing gymnastics [for] so long, handling the stress has become easier with time management and all,” Zabinski said. Along with stress and competition jitters, injury is a looming danger for many student gymnasts. Sophomore Victoria Stern tore her ACL last year and will not able to continue with gymnastics this year. “It’s a dangerous sport,” Stern said. “I broke my arm last summer, and I had knee surgery last year also. [Gymnasts are] very injury prone.” Junior gymnast Catherine DePasquale has also had health issues caused by gymnastics, although hers are long-term. “Because of doing it for so

long, I have terrible feet,” DePasquale said. “They’re pretty much permanently broken—you kind of just do gymnastics until you can’t anymore.” Zabinski, however, has been lucky when dealing with accidents, and said that she is able to avoid them because of her experience and prudence when practicing. “It’s a difficult sport,” Zabinski said. “You have to really get used to it. I don’t get hurt that often— knock on wood—but it’s because I’m used to it. I know how to fall well, and I know what I’m doing more so [than others].” Zabinksi, who went to the YMCA national gymnastics competition for the fifth time last year, fi nished in thirty-seventh place out of 202 competitors. “I really learned that dedication and time at practice [helped me succeed] in this meet,” Zabinski said. “It comes down to that. You have to really know your stuff and do it well.”

Sophia Ponte can be reached at

Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

Junior Nicole Zabinski practices a beam routine at the Upper Main Line YMCA, where she trains for gymnastics an average of 12 hours each week. Zabinski has been competing in gymastics for the past eight years.

Volume 62, No. 2


Ice hockey looks to postseason success See p. 21


Paterno should have resigned See p. 22

A run for the records After being crowned District One champions, boys soccer charges ahead in state playoffs See p. 21

Senior Nick Laganelli dribbles the ball down the field during the first round of state playoffs on Nov. 8 against Wilson High School. The boys won 2-1 and are looking ahead to continue their postseason success.

Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE

November 2011 Spoke  

November 2011 issue of The Spoke

November 2011 Spoke  

November 2011 issue of The Spoke