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’Stoga Students take part in upcoming election pg. 12-13


Sp ke



OCTOBER 16, 2012



SUCCESS In this special investigation, The Spoke takes a look at how students are illegallly using prescription medications for an academic edge. By Lavi Ben-Dor and Heather Ward See pages 4 and 5.

Laura Weiss Co-editor-in-chief From afar, the hub of students on Martin’s Lane seems to be chatting before school and enjoying the sunny weekday morning. Moving closer, the spots of light from their cigarettes come into view. One student deeply exhales a curl of grayish smoke, so out of place with the bright morning around her. Another coughs into his arm. Just off of school property, they are barely safe from the school’s jurisdiction here.. Students say they come here, to “Smoker’s Corner,” to talk to each other, meet up with friends and light up. Sometimes, one student says, freshmen that are just starting to smoke hang around, trying to bum cigarettes from older, more seasoned junior and senior smokers. And when he smoked cigarettes, the student says, “That place was my home.” On March 8 the U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, issued a tobacco use, and referring to smoking as “a global epidemic among young people.” The report details that 88 percent of adults who are daily old, and nearly 25 percent of high school seniors in the United States currently smoke cigarettes, compared to 20 percent of adults. Though slowed, bringing smoking back into the spotlight.

Photo Illustration: Margot Field and Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE Photo Illustration: Karlois Panavas and Luke Rafferty/The SPOKE




The Greening ’Stoga Task Force worked with stream conservation this summer on Teamer Field. with loose soil. It was built using a Pa. Department of Environmental Protection grant which Charles Cutshall, a board member of the Valley Forge chapter of Trout Unlimited, helped acquire. “What we did was take the old dirt out of here at about four feet down and then put in loose, well amended soil—amended means it has organic material in it,” Cutshall said. GSTF president Federico Mosconi said that the club will continue to environment. “Over the years, Greening ’Stoga really has been popular with power down days, and that’s just to help promote the awareness of the environment,” Mosconi said. “But I think in the future, Greening ’Stoga will work on more tangible projects that actually have an impact, like the bioswale.” -Suproteem Sarkar, Convergence Editor

New year, new members for Tri-M Suproteem Sarkar/The SPOKE

Greening ’Stoga Task Force president senior Federico Mosconi

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Save the date: Upcoming in community National Merit congratulatory breakfast Thir ty-six National Merit semifinalists will be recognized Oct. 18 at 7:20 a.m. Finalists will be announced later in the school year. PSAT/NMSQT testing

The Tri-M Music Honor Society held its induction ceremony Oct. 5, accepting 40 students. Tri-M is an international music performance and service organization. This year, Conestoga Tri-M members will play at nursing homes during the holidays, help out with the middle school musicals, accompany elementary school choirs and perform in two recitals. Tri-M president and senior Michael Bennett said he is looking forward to working with the new musicians. “I think we’ve got a very talented group this year and we have a lot of really good musicians,” Bennett said. “We have good musicians at this school, but the best of the best are in Tri-M.” Choral director and Tri-M adviser Suzanne Dickinger said she looks forward to Tri-M students’ musical participation. “A lot of them are in marching band, a lot of them are in the musical, a lot of them are in the church choir or their temple choir. They perform all over the place—not just in their performance classes here,” Dickinger said. -Maggie Chen, Staff Reporter Full stories on

Sports Superstars Maggie Needles, #4 Sport: Field Hockey Years playing: 8 Position: Defense Role Model: Megan Ryan

Sophomores and juniors will take PSAT/NMSQT tests Oct. 20. Students should arrive by 7:45 a.m. and expect to be in school until 11 a.m.


Homecoming dance

Andrew DeStefano, #2 Sport: Football Years playing: 6 Position: Wide Receiver Role Model: Wes Welker

The Homecoming dance will be held Oct. 20 from 7-10 p.m. The dress code is semi-formal—boys should wear suits and girls should wear dresses. Cavalcade of Bands The Marching Pioneers will host several other high school marching bands Nov. 3 from 4:30-10 p.m. for the annual ’Stoga Showcase of Sound.

Glacier Freeze Full interviews on




District, teachers’ union foresee end to contract negotiations Shwetha Sudhakar and Yuge Xiao Operations Director and Staff Reporter Editor’s note: the school board voted on Oct. 15 to accept or reject the proposed contract. However, The Spoke was not able to obtain the result of the vote before press time.

for everybody, but I appreciate the teachers being willing to come back and come back and talk,” board president Karen Cruickshank said. “Sometimes things happen quickly, and sometimes [it can take] weeks and weeks.” Cruickshank added that the negotiations process was unlike any she had ever had as the

contract, ensued. Senior J.P. Walsh said he believes that the district’s

teachers with bonuses,” Cruickshank said. “When you’re in a time

to June to protest teacher demotions and said that she hopes to see this re-

obstacle faced by both sides. “I don’t think [the contract] is the endpoint as I don’t see [the district] getting better until the school’s budget gets better,” Walsh said. “I think the underlying cause actually comes

Walsh understands the budget issue but believes teachers deserve to be better paid and receive more

Freezing salaries “seems to be a good option for the contract,” Dunlop said. “Even though it is undesirable, it is far better than demoting the amazing teachers that we have.” If either party does not approve the agreement, both sides will go back to drawing up proposals and negotiating. The district and teacher’s union appreciate efforts made towards the contract. “Although [the negotiations] took us a little while, it took us a lot less longer than some other districts,” Cruickshank said. “In tough times, you just have to hang in there and ultimately do what is best for the students.” Despite the differences in propo-

“I know there’s an issue when it or a family plan

It took three days to get to the moon, 36 days to end Bill Murray’s misery in “Groundhog Day” and 116 days to write the United States Constitution. For the Tredyffrin Easttown School District (TESD) and Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA) to come to a tentative agreement on the new contract, it took longer than all of the above combined. The two parties came to a tentative agreement for a new contract on Sept. 5, concluding negotiations which began in January. For those who are involved, the months of proposals have taken a toll. “This has been a tough process

was in lengthened the negotiations. TEEA negotiations chair Debra Ciamacca said she was glad that the two sides agreement. “Teachers are frustrated because we wanted to settle the contract as quickly as possible, but we are happy that

resolved where both sides win and really, it’s something that affects a whole other generation.”

a conclusion,” Ciamacca said. On June 30, the previous contract expired; since the two sides had not yet completed negotiations, status quo, a continuation of the previous

-Senior J.P. Walsh from the state government, as [Governor] Tom Corbett cut a million dollars from public education.” After cost cuts, the district curmillion. The school board has

Jan. 9: Negotiations begin with a proposal by TEEA

Feb. 29: TESD shares its own proposal

April 10: Board introduces the strategy of teacher demotions

teacher scheduling, application to the state to keep taxing options open and exploration into other sources of revenue. In order to teachers’ union requested a neu-

April 23: School board meeting to discuss demotions

June 30: Previous contract expires

July 1: TEEA and TESD enter status quo (previous contract continuation)

to provide a report with recommendations for the new contract. Although the TEEA voted to accept the report’s suggestions, the district found the recommendations unfeasible and instead used the report as a guideline for later proposals. Ruthann Waldie, a Uniserve representative from the Pennsylvania Education Association who negotiated for the teachers’ union, said the proposals addressed a wide range of issues. “The key issues that are relevant to any negotiations are saltions,” Waldie said. “It is these tenets that all teacher groups work

Sept. 5: TEEA and TESD come to a tentative agreement

Oct. 11: TEEA accepts the tentative agreement

Oct. 15: TESD votes on the tentative agreement Callum Backstrom/The SPOKE

tect.” Cruickshank said that the economic state of the district made it als, emphasizing that it was not because the board does not “value [the] teachers.” “Usually, boards can reward

said. “To be frank, teachers don’t make that much, considering the hours they put in with clubs, sports and supplemental teaching.” Medical ben-

salary freezes and demotions were part of the issues discussed in the While The Spoke could not obtain the details of the contract at displays recommendations for a salary freeze and no teacher demotions. Sophomore Elise Dunlop attended school board meetings from April

district, Walsh is optimistic for a resolution. solved where both sides win on [the contract] and really, it’s an issue that affects a whole other generation,” Walsh said. Shwetha Sudhakar can be reached at




Illegal prescription drug use for academic boost on rise at Devon Family Practice, said that the meds today we would notice a difference but that doesn’t mean we Senior Bobby Bowen* pulls drugs. have the disorder.” out the pill his friend gave him and “You actually experience more washes it down, making sure no one of the side effects and less of the Finding a source else sees. benefits,” Melli said. [And] “for According to the NIDA Monitior“I use it to study for big tests or if people that take it every day, it’s very ing the Future survey, more than 50 I have a lot of homework one night,” addictive.” percent of stimulant users obtained Bowen said. He has to take it before According to a June study done by the drug for free from a friend or lunch though “Or else I won’t get to the New York Times, in high schools relative. Senior Julia Carver* said sleep until two in the morning.” with higher academic standards, the that it was easy for her to get AdThe pill Bowen took is Adderall, percentage of users of “study drugs” derall from her friends with ADHD, an amphetamine, or stimulant, that is increases from a nationwide 10 per- noting that they even offered it to her often prescribed to people suffering cent to a range of 15-40 percent. occasionally. “People seem to think it offers an “A lot of people have [ADD]— Disorder (ADHD). However, there is academic advantage and as things more than you think,” Carver said. “I a rising trend of it being illegally used get more competitive people become don’t ask them a lot, but sometimes by many 17-25 year-olds, according more desperate,” Gary Boggs, of the they’ll offer and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, to a 2011 study by the National Insti- Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) sure!’” tute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Along said. Students with ADHD, such as with Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse School psychologist Dr. Kathleen Green, often do not want to take their are also abused by students for an Quinlisk said she has noticed a rise in medication because of the long term academic boost. the number of students with ADHD. side effects. “I wanted to do well on tests, and She believes that can be attributed “People just buy it from those who someone said to me, have ADD ‘just take [Adderall] but don’t take and you’ll study all it every day,” night’,” Bowen said. Bowen said. “I did and it worked, “I get it from so I kept taking it.” a friend of mine [who] Looking at the uses it but not facts every day.” According to the Amphet2011 NIDA survey, amines, such Monitoring the Fuas Adderall, ture, prescription are considstimulants are the secered Class ond highest abused II controlled drug among teens. substances The only drug more by the Food abused by teenagers and Drug is marijuana. Admin“I think it’s kind istration, of ironic,” senior Mameaning rie Green* said. “The they are use of Adderall is less highly adMargot Field/The SPOKE common in kids who dictive and have ADD than the kids who don’t.” to the have abuse potenGreen was diagnosed with discrepany in testing for the disorder. tial. “We do a good history, behavioral “If you give somebody a pill, Disorder) as a sophomore, because checklists, and comparisons,” Quinlisk said. “A medical doctor may just ical use and that’s illegal,” Boggs ability to focus and conentrate. She said. “That can put a lot of things in was prescribed medications, but has psychiatrist might just do history.” since stopped taking them. Quinlisk also said that people for students.” “They annoy me. I didn’t like the have become more reliant on mediPrincipal Dr. Amy Meisinger said side effects,” Green said. “But the the district has been monitoring the people who don’t take them every“Some people believe that if the trend at the college level but has not day don’t see the long term effects.” medicine works they have the disor- yet implemented a policy at ’Stoga. Dr. Maria Melli, family doctor der,” Quinlisk said. “If you and I took “Our substance abuse policy does

Cover Story

*To protect the privacy of the students interviewed their names have been changed.

Margot Field/The SPOKE

discuss the use of pills that aren’t prescribed,” Meisinger said. “The connection between that and cheating is something that [the administration] hasn’t talked about.”

Feeling a kick The 2011 Monitoring the Future study found that 15.2 percent of high school seniors had used a prescription drug for non-medical purposes; Adderall was one of the most commonly used drugs. Carver took Adderall three times over the past two years when pre-

helped her focus and cram a lot of information in one night. “It’s almost like drinking a lot of coffee—nothing really distracts me; I may get a little bit jittery or sometimes I sweat a little and my heart will beat a little faster. It really just feels like I’ve [consumed] a lot of coffee,” Carver said. However, she noted that taking it

ence taking the test the day after she used it to study. “When I took the test, I was nervous and freaking out a little bit especially towards the end and after the test, but I surprisingly didn’t feel do a little bit better—I could write a lot faster—but sometimes I’d psych myself out on a question and have to read it a bunch of times because I was starting to get nervous.” Carver said she did not feel that worth the side effects of the drug. “It’s not good for when you have a time limit (at least for me, it wasn’t),” Carver said. “I found it more helpful when I could just sit down and focus and only worry about what’s on the paper and not what’s on the clock— nerves I had when I was taking it [were] not worth it.”

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Rights and Privacy Act) so how you

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aside from drug testing each student,” Meisinger said. Junior Emma Aubry* said she

Boggs said that although the medications are legal, they are designed only for people with the disorder. “These are legitimate medications, but when you take them outside of the medical use, you are harming your body,” Boggs said.

derall to boost tests scores hurts the school community. “It really isn’t fair—we value [standardized tests] so much, and they’re so important to a lot of people and people using stimulant drugs are really undermining the value of the test. There really shouldn’t be an op-

An unfair advantage Although ’Stoga does not yet have a policy relating specifically to academic enhancing drugs, the administration has begun monitoring the trend at the college level. Bowen, who took Adderall for

the SATs. “I felt like it was cheating because in one of the [SAT] rule books they say it’s cheating,” Bowen said. [However] “it did help me read faster and I did better.” For content-based tests though, Bowen does not take Adderall during the test, only while studying the night before.



Aubry said.

Carver said she had investigated the effects of the drug before taking Margot Field/The SPOKE

“It’s a little unfair because some people can focus longer and I’ll do just as well as them because I took [Adderall],” Bowen said. “I’m not trying to beat anybody. I’m just trying to do well.”

cerned about the chance of getting addicted. “I was actually not very nervous Meisinger said that it would be

rules against the use of drugs to boost probably should have been, but I did research before so it wasn’t too big of academic performance. “Any prescription would be pro- a danger,” Carver said. She also said that despite her tected by FERPA (Family Educational

desire to not need to take Adderall, she still believes it can help her when necessary. study I would probably take it again, but hopefully, if I don’t have [to], I won’t,” Carver said. “I’m hoping I cannot put myself under the pressure of saving all my studying until the last minute. I don’t really want to take [Adderall] but if worst comes to worst, I probably will.” Bowen said he believes that taking Adderall is not as dangerous as taking drugs such as marijuana that lack the academic boost Adderall provides. “I consider it a drug, but not a recreational drug, not like people who smoke weed,” Bowen said. “It’s just to study.” “I think that community awareness would help for the community to realize that it’s a problem and [for parents] not to be so eager to put their children on the medications,” Melli said. Heather Ward can be reached at




Keystone standardized tests to replace PSSA exams

Wendy Tan Staff Reporter Rustling papers, tapping pencils and shifting chairs occasionally interrupt the silence hanging over the room. Students sit side by side in neat rows, scribbling furiously, filling in bubbles at lightning speed, racing against time as the clock ticks on. Every student in Pennsylvania is familiar with this setting. Since 1999, students have been taking the PSSAs at school every spring. that Conestoga students will take a new set of tests known as the Keystone exams. Keystone exams in Algebra I, Biology and Literature will be offered in the winter, spring and summer this school year. All juniors must take these tests, as well as any freshmen or sophomores currently enrolled in these courses. The scores will count towards determining a district’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) but will not yet play a role in students’ ability to graduate.

Although the Keystones are just around the corner, some students are still unsure of what to expect, as juniors and sophomores may be tested on subjects they studied in previous years. “I’m nervous about taking the Biology [exam], since I’m not taking the class this year,” sophomore Jenna Gillam said. The school has begun to revise existing curriculums and to create lines, which includes building a Government and Economics class for the 2013-14 school year. District curriculum supervisor and director of assessment and accountability Delvin Dinkins said that the exams may be more challenging for some students. “The Keystones are considered to be a bit more rigorous and demanding. In Algebra I for instance, students are expected to know key vocabulary associated with Algebra I, and they need to be able to use their math skills within the context of a problem,” he said. “The assessment is more rigorous in part because Pennsyl-

Sophie Bodek and Margot Field/The SPOKE

vania has adopted a new set of academic standards [which] are more rigorous.” Freshman Adrian GutierrezSanchez said he is concerned about the changes and the extra stress the exams may add for students taking those classes.

“It feels a bit overwhelming to have so many exams in one year,” Gutierrez-Sanchez said. But “I think my fellow freshmen [and I] are up to the challenge.” However, Biology teacher Janet Wolfe feels that her students have little to stress about.

“Traditionally, we always do better than the rest of the state on any standardized test, so I’m assuming that’s probably going to still be the case,” Wolfe said.

were so awful to him, shows he is a very kind, gentle, man,” Coyle said. After pleading guilty to robbery, infliction of serious bodily injury and conspiracy, Mitten, now 18, was sentenced to 28 to 56 months in state prison, nine years of probation, 200 hours community

of determining any factors in Sandoval’s life that may have led him to commit these crimes. While Yang chose not to be present at either of the sentencings, he still remains a visible and positive member in the Easttown community.

Mr. Yang “is a lovely person who is exceptional at his craft,” Coyle said. “It is a pleasure to have him with us and to learn from the best.”

Wendy Tan can be reached at

Local grocer’s attacker sentenced for brutal assault

Emily Klein and David Kramer Staff Reporters When 18-year old Octavio Sandoval attended an initial sentencing on Oct. 9 for attacking local grocer Yong Yang in January, Judge Phyllis R. Streitel strongly admonished him for injuring Yang’s left eye, causing

ket Fresh Ideas, which occupies the space that was once his store. Despite the many challenges Yang has faced as a result of the crime, he expressed his belief that both defendants should be given the opportunity to better their lives by way of completing their educations. Yang requested that both defendants receive the minimum possible sentence and jail time, in addition to completing their GEDs

$30,185.68 (split with Sandoval) to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Mitten has been granted the ability to send a “I can’t imagine there would letter to Yang; however, be anything that he is banned from comwould justify takmunicating with Yang ing a knife to a man in the future. Mitten during a robbery. must also go through I can’t imagine psychiatric and menwhat would justify tal health evaluations robbing an elderly in order to conclude man. I can’t imagwhat measures would ine what would be most appropriate justify a robbery,” in order to improve Streitel said. his life. Sandoval and -Fresh Ideas owner Meridith Coyle Sandoval pleaded then-17-year-old guilty to robbery, inSean Mitten stole serious bodily injury and Yang’s wallet and $540 in cash while in prison. Meridith Coyle, owner of Fresh conspiracy against Yang on Aug. after brutally beating the 74-year-old store owner. Yang has undergone Ideas, works closely with Yang, and 6, charges which carry a minimum about $300,000 in surgeries. Yang’s said that Yang’s decisions regard- recommended sentence of 48 to 66 months in prison. Streitel has Market has since closed because postponed Sandoval’s sentencing Yang’s vision loss limited his ability personality. “Mr. Yang, as seen in his decision in order to issue a Pre-Sentence to manage it, although he works up to 20 hours a week at the new mar- to help these boys even after they Investigation (PSI) in the attempts

“Mr. Yang, as seen in his decision to help these boys even after they were so awful to him, shows he is a very kind, gentle man.”

Emily Klein can be reached at




Mixed-level classes create blend of experiences

Simran Singh Staff Reporter Students walking into Advanced Composition classes on faced confusion when they realized that some of their peers were not taking the same level of the class as they were. Advanced Composition classes are blended, with both Honors and Accelerated students being assigned to the same class. However, these blended classes are not new, as they have been used for language classes and other English courses. Assistant principal Kevin Fagan says that though there is some connection between the economic position of the district and the use of combined classes, the school considered other factors before deciding to implement new blended classes. “In most cases when we do [combine classes], we are utilizing resources better, and I’m not just talking about economics,”

Fagan said. “I’m talking about that you can get a variety of ferent student needs,” Fischer rooms, teachers, assignments, pe- different levels to see different said. riods [and] course materials. Eco- perspectives, and for students to Senior Bryan Bae, who takes nomics is always a consideration see [those] different levels and Advanced Composition, said that when we are building the master perspectives,” Fischer said. “I schedule, along with a number of have learned how to differentiate ences between the course experiother facets.” my instruction in order to reach ence for Honors and Accelerated Junior Greg Dornseif, whose students of different levels as best students. Advanced Composition class is as I can.” “[Honors and Accelerated blended, said that teachers can still Fischer said that teachers have students] pretty much do the create a balance that same thing [in Adworks for students vanced Composiof both levels. tion],” Bae said. “The workload “ We a l l w a t c h is fairly similar, but the same movies a little bit lighter and still have the for the Accelerated same homework. students, yet the exWe have different perience is pretty tests; that’s really linear; no one feels the only differoverwhelmed, and ence.” no one feels like it Not all students is way too easy,” -Advanced Compostition teacher Gabija Fischer e x p r e s s e d s u p Dornseif said. port for a blended Advanced Comto help students with diverse c l a s s . Tw o students, who did position Teacher Gabija Fischer abilities in any class, even if it is not wish to reveal their names said that she does not mind teach- not mixed. because they were concerned ing blended classes, and does not Catering to students of differ- about their teachers’ perceptions believe teaching a blended class ent levels “is not something I’ve of them, said they feel the pace is a particularly challenging task. had to change necessarily—I’ve of the class is compromised by “[In a blended class], I like always been able to adjust to dif- blending two levels.

“I have learned how to differentiate my instruction in order to reach students of different levels as best as I can.”

English department chair Trevor Drake said that although teaching a blended class can sometimes entail having to alter the curriculum or teaching slightly, the task is manageable. “The challenges are that you have to be aware that you have students of a wide variety of interest and ability in the classroom, so you have to make sure that the material is accessible to everybody, and challenging enough for Honors students so you can hold their interest,” Drake said. Fagan said that the number of students enrolling in a particular course is the most prominent cause of course blending. “We have a critical number [of students] that we look at in order to run the course at all, and typiFagan said. If not enough students enroll, “then you’re faced with, ‘Will we offer the course?’ The act of combining the class enables you to offer that course.” Simran Singh can be reached at

New lunch regulations offer healthier alternatives Mary Mei and Emma Purinton Staff Reporters Students looking for healthier options in their lunch won’t have to look farther than the cafeteria, which now offers more fruits and vegetables, more whole grain and no more whole milk. On Aug. 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced that the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” of 2010 would change school The new nutrition regulations are mainly centered on ensuring students have more options for healthy eating and do not aim to remove all unhealthy foods. Some of the changes include increases in the amounts of whole grain products, fruits and vegetables, cartons of one percent or nonfat milk and reduced amounts of saturated and trans fats and sodium in school meals. In addition, lunches must have one cup of fruit or vegetables to count as full meals; otherwise, students will be charged for each item separately. “The biggest change is in years

past if you took three of the five components it was a lunch. Now you components, but one component has to be fruits or vegetables, or it’s not a meal,” Food Services Supervisor Dave Preston said. The Conestoga cafeteria already makes efforts to encourage students to eat healthy. However, changes will still be made in the lunch menu, such as baking french fries instead of frying them. “Kids will miss certain things that are taken off the menu,” chef Jimmy Delecce said. “Kids are adaptable, though.” Junior Mark Frederick supports the new regulations. “I think it will help the school community be healthier by eating healthier,” Frederick said. Freshman Melanie Dernoga, who buys lunch regularly, believes that students will not change their eating habits in accordance to the new regulations, despite having to pay a higher price. “I don’t think it’s fair. Even though it’s going to make us healthier, most people aren’t going to care about losing money,” Dernoga said. Preston said that the enforce-

ment of the regulations has caused some concern among parents whose children are unaware of some of the change. “The most calls from parents have been about their child’s bill running up quickly because they’re not taking their fruits and vegetables,” he said. However, the district must also now spend more on purchasing the food as some of the products, like whole grain products, can be more expensive. Preston noted that although the district receives some financial compensation for these costs, it must still pay a large portion of the price. “We will receive a government reimbursement of 6 cents per meal. It only chips the cost, [so] it’s not going to cover it all,” Preston said. Preston believes it will take more than the new regulations to combat the nation’s obesity. “A lot of people want to blame school lunch for the nation’s obesity,” Preston said. “In my opinion, physical activity is the biggest problem. And portion size [is also important].” Mary Mei can be reached at

Photo Illustration: Margot Field/The SPOKE

Some of the changes:

- 1% or nonfat milk - Less saturated/trans fats - Less sodium - Baked french fries

Opinion TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

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: Heather Ward, Haley Xue Managing Editor: Jenna Spoont News Editor: Lavi Ben-Dor Op/Ed Editor: Allison Kozeracki Features Editor: Natalie West Sports Editors: Maddie Amsterdam, Abby Pioch Design Editor: Margot Field Photo Editor: Karolis Panavas Centerspread Editor: Noah Levine Convergence Editor: Suproteem Sarkar Business Manager: Claire Moran Operations Director: Shwetha Sudhakar Graphic Designers: Callum Backstrom, Sophie Bodek, Anisa Tavangar Cartoonists: Callum Backstrom, Sophie Bodek, Maggie Chen Staff: Andy Backstrom, Kelly Benning, Maggie Chen, Isha Damle, Stephane Hardinger, Courtney Kennedy, Gabrielle Kerbel, Emily Klein, David Kramer, Mary Mei, Patrick Nicholson, Sophia Ponte, Emma Purinton, James Redmond, Shivani Sanghani, Emily Seeburger, YingYing Shang, Simran Singh, Wendy Tan, Yuge Xiao, Navin Zachariah Faculty Advisers: Susan Houseman, Cynthia Crothers-Hyatt

Submissions The Spoke will print letters of general interest to the student body and community. Signed letters under 200 words may be submitted to Susan Houseman, Cynthia Hyatt, Heather Ward or Haley Xue. 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.

Educating a nation

The Spoke evaluates education policies of 2012 election As high school students, some of us might groan at the word “politics” and zone out while our classmates engage in heated debates about current ics like economic reform and foreign policy distant and uninteresting, but a topic that we, as students, should all care about is education reform. As the Nov. 6 presidential election date quickly approaches, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have already expressed their differing perspectives and solutions concerning education in America. Although America remains an economic superpower, our rankings in terms of educational standards are not nearly as super. According to Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, American students are being outpaced by foreign peers, ranking only 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading even though we spend the same amount of money per pupil. Pres. Obama’s education reform includes his “Race to the Top” initiative, which, unlike “No federal standards. Instead, school districts compete for federal funding by submitting their own proposals for teacher evaluations and other initiatives to improve student learning to the Department of Education. Gov. Romney’s platform criticizes this initiative because it “awarded states money in return for promises, without regard for results.” Romney supports giving low-income and special-needs children the freedom to choose their school and bring funding with them. Both agree that teachers should be evaluated and rewarded based on merit and that testing is necessary to help evaluate student performance. They also believe that parental involvement can greatly contribute to students’ academic achievement.

However, with a school district like Tredyf93 percent and 93.8 percent in math and reading respectively, great teachers and more resources than many districts across the nation, how are the reform ideas going to help us achieve more as students? The emphasis of education reform should be on encouraging and maintaining student motivation. Of course, this is easier said than done. While funding and teachers help to offer more opportunities to students and provide more incentives for learning, the real responsibility lies with the student. Considering this, The Spoke believes that it is not fair to merely evaluate teachers based on student performance. Teachers can make class more interesting through class activities and discussion, but it is up to the student whether or not to listen or participate. Teachers should be rewarded if they genuinely care about students and are committed to helping them improve, but they should not be punished if a student refuses to learn. Moreover, in order to maintain America’s standing as a world power and for students to be successful, it is imperative that creativity and innovation skills be cultivated. Students should be taught how to apply skills outside the classroom instead of just memorizing concepts within the classroom. Therefore, education reform should place less emphasis on evaluating student performance through standardized testing. Although and assessing achievement, having too many testing requirements can have negative consequences. Teachers may feel constrained to “teach to the test,” thereby limiting the exploration of applications of concepts. While government intervention plays a large role in reforming American education, the true answer lies with us, the students.

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From the Editor:

Growing down Heather Ward Co-editor-in-chief In second grade, my Spanish teacher showed my class a clip from “Sesame Street” (in Spanish, of course) and we all groaned. We were too old for “Sesame Street.” That show was for babies. Our teacher laughed and told us that the high school seniors she taught loved “Sesame Street.” And now as a high school senior, I would give anything to watch “Sesame Street” in the mornings while snuggling with my mom. I also sometimes like to wear Hello Kitty band-aids for fun, and I always ask my sister to kiss my boo-boo to make it all better. I call this stage of my life “growing down.” I’m going to college in less than a year and I act like I’m four years old. The biggest thing is that I’m proud of it. I don’t mean that I no longer take high school seriously or that I wake up on Saturday mornings at six to watch cartoons (I am a teenager after all), but I’ve relaxed about how other people view me. In second grade, the way you were viewed by others was important. In middle school it became even more important, and I carried that ideology nally accepting that it doesn’t matter if someone thinks it’s weird that I’m wearing a Hello Kitty band-aid. I’m not suggesting that you don’t shower or abstain from wearing deodorant because those things are critical for our noses to be happy, but consider pulling out that teddy bear you used to sleep with at night. Watch a Disney movie with the kids you babysit. Fun is still allowed, and no, reading the dictionary does not count as fun. Act like you are four again and enjoy the little things in life. Don’t be embarrassed to like something that most of your peers don’t, because in 20 years you probably will have forgotten half of their names. High school can be a stressful time, and we shouldn’t add any more stress by worrying about what others think of us. Wear a “Sesame Street” shirt if you want, color in a coloring book (it’s okay to go outside the lines) or watch a Disney movie and sing along. Remember though, there is a time for youthfulness and a time for professionalism. Don’t go into a job interview wearing a “Sesame Street” shirt. However, if you are looking for someone to talk to about the latest episode, my email is below. Heather Ward can be reached at




Homecoming rallies ’Stoga students together

Emily Seeburger Columnist Time is of the essence, so make a decision; you only have four days left. Four days to decide if you’re going to fully experience the fun, excitement and thrill of one of the biggest weeks of the year—Homecoming. Be a part of all of Conestoga’s homecoming festivities, which encompass spirit days, the pep rally, the football game and culminates with the dance. Why? Because no matter what grade you’re in, homecoming has something to offer your high school experience. Freshmen, it’s your first homecoming, so experience it all. Get a group of your friends to do the spirit days—the crazy outfits are always the best—and go wild. Having an interesting outfit laid out the night before is much better than picking one out at six in the morning. The homecoming dance is different from any middle school dance you’ve been to, and the pep rally is definitely an interesting experience. During

my freshman year, I was in awe of how exciting and important everything was, so I hope it’s a similar experience for you. Sophomores, if you didn’t participate or go to the dance last year, this is the year to make up for the missed opportunity. If you did the whole homecoming thing freshman year and maybe it didn’t go smoothly, this is your year to try it again now that you know what’s going on. And if everything did go according to plan, it’s another chance to have a blast. Juniors, I don’t want to hear that you’re “over it.” It’s a chance to be with your friends, under or upperclassmen, and because junior year always seems to be particularly stressful, it’s a chance to dance the stress away. And the fact that you have prom isn’t an excuse either. From my experience, the two dances are totally different, so take advantage of the fact that you’re guaranteed both this year. And seniors, it’s your last

year at Conestoga, so don’t regret missing out. Channel enthusiasm into the spirit days, because again, the craziest ensembles are always the best. It’s finally your year to be in the pep ral-

also a snapshot of the future for you seniors, with alumni coming back from as early as last year, to ones the ages of your grandparents. And finally, it’s your last homecoming dance of high school. Ever. Dance like no one’s watching. Have fun breaking from everyday school denim and get dressed up. I want our class to be remembered for being one of the most fun and spirited. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, a guy or a girl, outgoing or reserved, the week of homecoming has so m u c h t o o ff e r y o u . Besides being one of the most exciting times of the fall, and of the school year, homecoming gives the unique opportunity to completely unite the whole student body and provide ly, something a little difCallum Backstrom/The SPOKE s o ferent for every grade Callum Backstrom/The SPOKE get inlevel. I’d better see you volved in your spirit day gear, cheerand get spirited; the pep rally is ing at the pep rally, standing in always better when there’s enthu- the student section, and getting siasm, so don’t be afraid to look down at the dance. I know I will. crazy in front of the underclassmen. You’re seniors, remember? Emily Seeburger can be reached The homecoming game is at

Report Card Homecoming + Fun week welcomes students back to ’Stoga - Many students lack school spirit

Halloween + A chance to dress up and maybe get some free candy - Teenagers trick-or-treating is generally frowned upon

Election + Chance to see and get involved in democratic process - Bombardment of political ads and arguments

Fall Sports + Golf and tennis teams win Central Leagues

“Are you going to the Homecoming dance this year?” “of high school and a chance to meet new people.” -Freshman Ciara Williams

“ Yes, because it’s a great time and you get to have fun with your friends.” -Junior Dan Glazewski

“Yes, because mymaking friends are me.” -Sophomore Stephen Yi

“a nice No, I’d rather go out to restaurant with my

- Be prepared to bundle up for outdoor games

College Applications + Moving on to a bright future - Work can be very stressful for students

Autumn Weather + Fall foliage and crisper air

friends.” -Senior Jenny Liu

wake up to



Students must stand up for others

YingYing Shang Columnist One of your friends makes a racist comment. You overhear a conversation poking fun of a girl’s body. You have two choices—to stand by or stand up. Once, I would have simply lowered my head, bent into my book and stood by. Once, I did sit in homeroom and pretend not to hear two supposedly “popular” people on either side of me deride my friend’s clothing only a few feet from where she sat.

in a larger society, this adherence to convention rather than basic morality leads to disastrous consequences. From slavery to segregation, when people en masse are afraid of upsetting the status quo, atrocities such as “White-only” signs continue. As Martin Luther King said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” High school isn’t a closed envi-

ronment immune to the problems of the real world. Sexism, racism and intolerance aren’t restricted to history textbooks. So that’s why, through this column, I’m addressing justice, right here at Conestoga. Why do we call girls who dress or express their sexuality a certain way “sluts,” but laud guys who act the same as “studs?” Why is it widely acceptable to use the word “Asian” to connote geekiness and social incompetence? Why do we laugh at people who dress differently or act differ-

ently or simply are different than the standard that we are used to? From slut-shaming to racial stereotyping, too many of us cooperate with or directly participate in discrimination. Our school doesn’t have to be this way. The truth is that it’s easy to make a difference. All it takes is one person to take a stand—one person to speak up and say, “Hey guys, rape jokes aren’t funny.” One person to say, “This isn’t right”—and change will have begun. Stand for something, even if it means standing alone.


I’m a senior this year. It has taken me until senior year to realize that I am not afraid to be a voice for justice or to do what I know is right. You don’t have to wait that long. To join forces in bringing “justice” to ’Stoga, check out this column each issue for a new action campaign. If we collectively stand up instead of standing by, we can make Conestoga a better place. YingYing Shang can be reached at

ridicule redirected towards me. Often, it’s easy to go along with the group. High school in itself promotes homogeneity, as each of us ing in line with our peers. We cling to our accepted roles and never question others’ behaviors and attitudes. But

Consumers become zombies, desire brains

James Redmond Columnist Technology makes our lives better, except when it doesn’t. As long as it’s cool and shiny and new, people will line up around the block to buy it, even if it’s totally impractical and

Maggie Chen/The SPOKE

beat ’em, join ’em! So look out, world, because the jBlender Nano will be hitting stores next April, and I’ll be raking in the dough. Maybe it’s not that bad, but there is a serious problem here, and as a pinnacle of the consumerist mindset, Conestoga needs to be aware of it. The fact is, we don’t think enough when we buy. We’re becoming a nation of zombie consumers, and that won’t end well for anyone. So suit up, and get ready to kill some zombies. First of all, we need to stop

Sophie Bodek/The SPOKE Sophie Bodek/The SPOKE

giving in to gimmicks. Remember QR codes? When they came out, companies were putting them everywhere. And I never used one. In fact, I’m not entirely certain I even saw someone else using one. 3D movies, too—they were cool, initially, but pointless. When you watch a

and feed me some brains to bring me back. Mmmm. It’s the same phone! I don’t care that it has a revolutionary highresolution screen; the last four and a half had “revolutionary” high-res screens, too! Here’s where the savvy non-

anyway. We paid premium fares for a gimmick, and now they’re trying to sell us 3D TVs. But wait! You could save up to 15 percent or more! Which essentially means you can pay full price, you stupid zombie. The bottom line is, you reap what you sow, and by paying for gimmicks and stupid catchphrases, we’re encouraging companies to keep producing them. Second, we need to lose this idea that just because something is new, it’s better than what we already have. Case in point: the iPhone 5. I am not going to deny the fact that iPhones are cool and entertaining, and even occasionally useful. But when I saw news footage of people camping out for a good week for the new iPhone, holding in their hands the iPhone 4S, I died a little inside. Actually, I just died. They had to sew me back together, hit me with some lightning

the system—just buy that new thing when your old one is totally unusable and beyond repair. I recently got a very nice TV that was new just a few short years ago. Its resolution is just as “revolutionary” as it was then, and I paid much less for it. In fact, the more you spend, the more old stuff and packaging is gobig enough for all our trash if we continue to live this way. Zombieliving is unsustainable. That’s why they call them “the living dead.” They have no future. The future is now, and it’s full of garbage. So grab a spade and a shotgun and block your doors and windows, Conestoga, and let’s end this consumer zombiepocalypse. James Redmond can be reached at





Conestoga should support variety in higher education

Allison Kozeracki Op/Ed Editor The excitement that occurs around the release of The Spoke’s annual senior map speaks to Conestoga’s academic excellence. At 93 percent, Conestoga boasts an exceptionally high percentage of students who go on to four-year colleges after graduation. While that certainly sounds impressive, a college education today comes with a hefty price tag. With an unemployment rate nearing double digits and interest rates going through the roof, many young people find themselves racked with student loan debt and without a job to help pay it off. Unfortunately, Conestoga seems to have adopted a one-sizefits-all approach to higher educa-

tion, where nearly all students are expected to go on to a four-year college. In order to accommodate the varying abilities and desires of its diverse students, Conestoga should place more emphasis on technical schools, community colleges and other alternate paths of education. For many students, time spent at a two-year technical school might be much more valuable than four years at a liberal arts school, given that different jobs require different levels of education. Not everyone possesses the means or perseverance to pursue higher education and the kinds of employment for which it prepares him or her. Economically, the universal college education has led to serious problems among working people (in fact, it was an essay prompt for my economics class that first inspired me to write about this topic). Real wages for college graduates have not risen in 10 years, and the pay gap with high school graduates has not increased in that time period. College degrees don’t demand

the same prestige they used to, and for college graduates, underemployment behind a cash register can be just as frustrating as unemployment. With college enrollment numbers rising across the board, the education question has become a nationwide issue. After Rick Santorum called President Obama a “snob” for suggesting that everyone get a college education, Obama clarified his remarks. “I have to make a point here,” Obama said. “When I speak about higher education, we are not just talking about a four-year degree.” I couldn’t agree more. Students should not feel pressured to go along with the 93 percent of their classmates heading off to four-year colleges. The decision of where to go to college is an immensely important and personal one that impacts the rest of our lives. Figure out what’s most important to you, and don’t be afraid to carve your own path. Allison Kozeracki can be reached at

Maggie Chen/The SPOKE

Global education key to development and sustainability of skipping a class and merely getting a detention or not doing their math homework and receiving just a stern look from their teacher and a day’s extension. These students need to go to school. Education is the

vehicle that will help them achieve a common ultimate goal: to go to a place where they will have more opportunities for the future. Education is the instrument through which many developing

Abby Pioch Co-Sports Editor This summer I met a young boy named Emmanuel Quaigraine. He’s 14 years old, lives in a village called Essiam located in the Central Region of Ghana and goes to a school called Heritage Academy. Emmanuel, like all the students at Heritage, is on a scholarship because his family can’t afford the required annual $75 school fee. Heritage is vastly different than the majority of schools in Ghana. corporal punishment on the students. The entire community of Essiam is centered around the future that Heritage offers local children. And the students at Heritage are the most driven and motivated students I have ever seen. These kids don’t have the luxury

countries hope to raise their standard of living and become self-sustaining. Too many nations are dependent on foreign aid and money from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that, in actuality, are doing more hurting than helping. Think about it. Many Westerners believe that they are changing the world simply by going into a vilBut here’s the big question: what if the child exactly where he started: without a means to get food and an empty stomach. So here’s the solution: education. food for a day. If you show him how breaks. But if you teach him how to if the pole breaks, show him how

Sophie Bodek/The SPOKE

chance at becoming self-sustaining. But this whole process takes time, a lot of time. One of the most important as-

pects of global development is the need for people to continue returning to the same area and, more importantly, working with the same people. This consistency allows for the fostering of deeper relationships and trust, which then leads to the creation of relationships in which both parties are personally vested. This then, naturally, causes a desire to return not just once, but again and again. For those who wish to get involved, look for organizations that work to empower students in the area by providing a sustainable education. This past summer, I worked with a group of seventh graders from Heritage whose futures are dependent upon their education, and at 14 years old, the students know this. They work hard in school, but their thirst for knowledge extends beyond the walls of a classroom. This fact made itself evident when little Emmanuel Quaigraine asked me to explain the entire history of the United States to him, just because he wanted to know more. Abby Pioch can be reached at

Features TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

Meet the new foreign exchange students

This year, the American Field Service (AFS) celebrates its 50th year of allowing students to study abroad and share their cultures.

Anna Moudra |

Michel Knoetzsch | Germany Hosted by the Stockton family.

Hosted by the Florio family. people mostly only talk to the people with whom they surrounded by strangers, so she was surprised at how

toward learning the English language.


be annoying, but I am glad for her.”

Gaston Rangil | Argentina

Anna Weidlich | Germany to play tennis, he admitted that he began his stay English language. problems than I thought I would.”

she said. “Also, people talk to people they don’t

Mami Tamida |

Giusy Bichierri | Italy

Hosted by the Schertz family. Tamida began studying English four years ago

ies. though she misses her family, friends and “I miss Japanese food,” Tamida said, though




Students take initiative to learn unusual languages Sophia Ponte Staff Reporter Fewer than 950,000 people speak a Turkish language throughout the U.S. Junior Brian Greco is aspiring to become one of them. While there are six foreign languages offered to students at Conestoga, some students like Greco chose to pursue the study of a foreign language not offered at school. Over the summer, Greco traveled to Arilanguage of Uzbekistan. Spoken by about 30

million people worldwide, Uzbek falls under the Turkish language group and is taught in only four universities in the U.S. “It’s nothing like you’ve ever studied if you’re an English speaker,” Greco said. “I like rare languages in general, but I did want to study something that could have use in international business, or politics and U.S. relations.” day for seven weeks during a summer program at Arizona State University. There were 12 students in his class, and 15 studying the language in total at the program. By liv-


dedicated himself to learning a language not offered at school. He works during his free periods in an independent study to teach himself Portuguese. “Learning multiple languages has become a goal of mine,” Margolis said. “I think it’s a great skill to be able to communicate with a larger percentage of the people in the world. I chose Portuguese because over the past few years, I’ve grown to love the Brazilian culture and especially the music.” Since Margolis is also taking AP Spanish 5 during the school day, he has to balance time between learning two languages. He spends three days a cycle learning Portuguese and said that learning the two simulta-

and apply his new knowledge of the language. “Once you can grasp an understanding of a new language, it really opens a lot of doors for you,” Margolis said. “Although much of the world speaks English, knowing just English makes one still limited in many ways.” For slightly different reasons, junior Annie Xu learned Chinese for ten years in a Chinese school. “Since my parents and pretty much my whole family is Chinese, it was really important to know how to interact and speak with them,” Xu said. Xu spent most Sundays from age five to 15 learning how to speak, read a n d write Mandarin at her Chinese school. Each class was two hours long with homework, tests and quizzes like any other class. Xu learned everything from life lessons taught by stories and poems, to memorizing hundreds of Chinese characters. “Learning all the characters took a lot of time, and writing them all down—that killed a lot of trees,” Xu said. After ten years of studying,

Assalomu Alay kum !

“The process of learning a language is very individual. A lot of it depends on how you like to think and how you learn.” -Junior Brian Greco

ing in the dorms and studying on the university campus, Greco felt that the program was similar to a college experience. There, classes in Uzbek were split up into three levels—elementary, intermediate and advanced. Students studied grammatical and conversational aspects of the Uzbek language. “The process of learning a language is very individual. A lot of it depends on how you like to think and how you learn,” Greco said. “It’s nice to speak a language conversationally, but my main interest is comparing the grammar and linguistics [of each language].” Learning languages has been a passion for Greco, who, apart from his studies of Latin in school, has learned common and uncommon languages alike, ranging from Mandarin Chinese to Haitian Creole to Esperanto. “I like to see an outline of how a language works, kind of the science of it,” Greco said. Junior Eric Margolis has also

committed. Margolis uses the online program Rocket Portuguese, and said that teaching himself a language is very different from taking a language in a class with a prearranged curriculum. “The classroom and independent environments are very different,” Margolis said. “Taking a class is much more structured obviously, but you still learn the same things—pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. I’m interested to see if I’ll be able to learn Portuguese as well as I know Spanish without a teacher or a real group to practice with.” The hardest thing about learning the two languages at the same time, Margolis said, was not the of learning two separate languages, but rather the similarities between the two. “The worst thing about taking both Portuguese and Spanish is that the languages are very similar so I’m afraid I may start mixing them up,” Margolis said. Margolis also believes that there are multiple advantages that come out of learning a new language. He hopes to one day travel to Brazil

believes that learning Mandarin was important and learning a foreign language has many advantages. “I think it was a good experience,” Xu said. “if you want to get important to be able to interact with people.” Greco agrees that what he learned during the summer program in Arizona will undoubtedly help him in whatever career he chooses in the future. “It’s really interesting to put yourself in a different

mindset of how to think. It’s very A with a new language and learn new words and how to say basic things,” Greco said. “The skill of learning a language is a valuable thing to invest your time in […] I like the experience and the skills I learn from it. I think it will be useful in any career I choose.” Sophia Ponte can be reached at Juniors Eric Margolis (left) and Brian Greco (right) study Portuguese and Uzbek, respectively. Zach Lowry for The SPOKE




‘Smiles for Autism’ promotes awareness of autism Claire Moran & Suproteem Sarkar Business Manager & Convergence Editor Students with autism will have more opportunities this year to improve their Conestoga experience. While the school already offers multiple support options for students, including a math resource room and a writing support center, this year Conestoga has opened an autistic support classroom and a new club called Smiles for Autism that share the common goal of making the school a friendlier environment for students with autism. Michael DeVitis, the head of the support classroom and a Chester County Intermediate Unit special education teacher, said that the support classroom was formed this year to help students keep up with the academic and social pressures of high school. “High school can be demanding, and there’s a lot that’s asked of you and a lot that students want to achieve,” DeVitis said. “Sometimes place where [students] can come, take a deep breath and get away for a few moments, then get back and engage in the curriculum again.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication skills. Symptoms usually appear before the age of 3, and many people with the disorder may have difficulty with social interactions, language or attentiveness. “There’s not really a clear-cut cial Education Supervisor Nicole Roy said. “It’s a disability that has very much a range of abilities within it. It’s called a spectrum disorder because that’s exactly what it is. Different types of students fall differently on the spectrum.” To account for different needs for each student, DeVitis said that although the classroom provides a social skills class and academic seminars which are open to multiple students, one of its main goals is to also work with students individually lenges that they need to work on so we try to address those,” DeVitis said. “That way they can make progress socially [and] academically and feel good about themselves.” One challenge faced by many with communication. To help these

students, Smiles for Autism, started this year by senior Jeffrey Cummins, aims to raise money in order to donate iPads to the Timothy School, a school for students with autism. According to the club’s adviser, guidance counselor Rachelle Gough, some iPad applications help students to communicate more effectively. “Some students with autism have difficulty communicating,” Gough said. “Technology has been really helpful in mitigating those challenges and helping students better communicate with those around them.” Cummins said his experience with We Bake Smiles, an organization his aunt founded to support people with autism and his interaction with his cousin who has autism were two factors that motivated him to form the club. “I’ve been part of three nonwith autism […] so I’ve really had a connection to the disorder,” Cummins said. “I know what it’s like to [interact] with kids with autism and I’d really like to raise awareness about it so kids know how to

Smiles for Autism is a new club at Conestoga that aims to raise money to donate iPads to The Timothy School. Anisa Tavangar/The SPOKE

[interact with] a child with autism.” DeVitis said that students who are a part of the classroom already participate in many of the same activities that most other students do, including core classes, homeroom and homework. He said that he hopes the classroom will empower every student to enjoy the academic and social opportunities available at Conestoga.

“I think all students deserve a chance to having a high quality of life and having a great experience both in and out of the classroom,” DeVitis said. “I look at it as an opportunity to help not only our students, but [to] help the community in general.” Claire Moran can be reached at




I N A I R A M n o i t A a I c u C d E R l M A e a lt h a n d P h y s i c a H

Marcia Mariani contributes to the Conestoga community by not only teaching health and physical education classes to all grade levels, but also serving as the adviser to the Peer Mediation team. The Spoke (T.S.): Why are you passionate about health and nutrition? Marcia Mariani (M.M.): I have watched our kids graduate over the past years and they have really accomplished great things, but the bottom line is that in order to get to there, you have to stay alive [and] you have to be healthy. If we’re not healthy, we can’t be productive, and if we’re not productive, we as a nation and world would fall apart. T.S.: How long have you been teaching? M.M.: Since 1983. This will be my 30th year. I’ve been [at] Conestoga since

’87. I started out at T/E Middle School. T.S.: What made you want to become a health and gym teacher? M.M.: In my high school career I had a lot of friends of mine that died from at-risk behaviors. I guess I was looking for a reason why that was happening and I wanted to do something about it. I didn’t want to see kids make bad choices, so that led me to where I am now. T.S.: If students should know one thing about staying healthy, what would you tell them? M.M.: I’d say it has to be making good choices based on what you’ve been taught, not by what you’ve heard. T.S.: What is the most common health mistake you’ve seen in teenagers? M.M.: Failure to understand the importance of sleep. Time management is huge, and I think that because [students] don’t manage [their] time, [they] don’t get to sleep on time.

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

T.S.: What, in your opinion, is the best form of exercise? M.M.: Standing up. I would start there. We’re doing way too much sitting. I think people just need to get up and get outside. Once you get outside and you get some fresh air, I think it motivates you to do other things. Whatever exercise

think he’s amazing. And I would like to have dinner with my grandmother again. She was very special to me when I was growing up. I spent a lot of time with her, [and] she was a really special and ridiculously strong woman.

you choose as a person has to be something that you are going to stick with, so I think it has to be something

T.S.: Where is the best place you’ve been on vacation? M.M.: New Zealand, hands down. Sand boarding, bungee jumping, night kayaking under the Southern Cross—every time I turned around there was just something else. We met these great people “It stands for Friends Reaching Out and who showed us their culGuiding Students. The peer mediation ture and how they lived. team had reached 164 members [and] There’s 75 sheep to every every day we would walk into homeroom one human.


and it was loud and crazy and really dif-

T.S.: What is your worst fear? M.M.: I try not to live in fear. I’m not particularly crazy about heights, but I try not to let it stop me from doing anything that involves heights. I see fear as something to be overcome, not something to focus on.

so we decided to divvy up the team into those respective branches we have now: S.T.A.R., F.R.O.G.S., and Links.” that motivates you, something that you enjoy doing. Ignore sizes; you can’t worry about what size you are. You just need to be healthy. T.S.: What is the main job of peer mediators and how do you think they help the school? M.M.: The primary purpose of the program is to foster positive school tion skills. Last year, Mrs. Gallo, Dr. Meisinger [and I] created the InterSchool Activity Council, which is the largest and most active club in the school. Through that Inter-School Activity Council we have created various events and pulled other clubs into those events. It’s like pulling the threads together and creating the blanket. The council meets once a month. T.S.: If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be? M.M.: I would like to have dinner with Michelle Obama, because she’s trying to get the kids active in this country. I just think her initiatives are awesome. Beethoven, I [played a lot of his work] when I was in classical music training growing up, so I just

T.S.: If you could have one superpower, what would it be? M.M.: I would love to have a superpower where I could protect people. Not hurt other people, but just shield people from being hurt. [My family and I] were talking about the war in Iraq, and my nephew asked me how many people died. I said too many people died, [and] if I had a super shield, I would have just stood there and held it up while the bombs were dropping. That would be the coolest thing. T.S.: What is something most people don’t know about you? M.M.: I sing. I am a musician. Sometimes I’m viewed as the tough girl because of the whole physical education thing, but I am a sentimental fool. It’s all about the heart.

Interview by Natalie West, features editor

favorites song: Right now, I really like Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity.” movie: I was ever in a theater.

food: Sushi TV show: “True Blood” book: I’d have to go with “Harry Potter” because I read them so fast. I couldn’t put them down.

quote: “You are what you do. You can recreate yourself every second of your life.”

time of day: 7 p.m. Anything around sunset, especially if I’m around water.



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Sophomore Hailey Heaton documents a year in photography

Isha Damle Staff Reporter Sophomore Hailey Heaton lugs her photography bag over her shoulder, carrying the weight of her tripod and camera. She hikes over to the train tracks near her house, equipped with props for a photo shoot. Thanks to her popular “365 Project,” these tracks, the setting for many of her photos, have become well-known within the Conestoga community. in photography in seventh grade, was motivated to start the project after she noticed conceptual photographer Alex Stoddard’s “365 Project” on Flickr, a photo-sharing website. In her own project, Heaton attempts to take a photo every day for 365 days, edit them, and upload them to Facebook and Flickr. The project began on Nov. 1, 2011 and continues today. It has become well-known among students because of the project’s exposure on Facebook. “I want to make people put themselves into my photos. I want them to think of a story,” Heaton said. Conceptual photography, which focuses on representing a specific idea, is something that Heaton often uses in the project. She plans a concept for a shoot before she begins, and has incorporated various sources

of inspiration into the project in the form of different series, or groups of images with a similar theme. “I go through a lot of photos on Flickr, so my inspiration comes from other photographers that I’m friends with, and movies— I’m really inspired by [the director] Tim Burton.” Advancing her photography skills has been Heaton’s motivation to continue the project and inspires her to complete it, though she has faced setbacks while working on it. She had originally hoped to be able to take a photo every day, but that is two months behind her self-made schedule, she has created a new goal for the project. “Obviously the attention [the project has received] is nice, but I

supported and given feedback by her friends on shoots. Junior Rachel Klein is Heaton’s main model, and has been willing to pose in the middle of cold creeks and cover herself in dirt for the project.

Sophomore Hailey Heaton is posting a photo every day for a year on Facebook and Flickr, a this, she hopes to improve her photography skills and expose her work to other photographers. Courtesy Hailey Heaton

think [the project is more about] me becoming a better photographer, because now that I’ve grown [as a photographer], I realize that this is something I want to do when I get older,” Heaton said. Her backyard, local train tracks,

Berwyn Squash Club and Valley Forge Park have all served as settings in Heaton’s photos. She has also experimented with duplicating herself in photos and incorporating effects such as levitation and fake blood to make her photos more surreal. Heaton is often accompanied,

her to where she is today,” Klein said. “She’s passionate about photography and people can see that.” Heaton is taking pictures for the Conestoga yearbook and has a sizeable group of paying clientele within the school. She is often approached by students who ask to participate in her photo shoots. “People come up to me and ask me [to do] photo shoots [with them]. Thirty to 40 photos is my limit, and sometimes, but not always, I’ll put the best photo up and do an expansion of it and put it in my ‘365 Project,’” Heaton said. In the future, Heaton hopes to pursue wedding and fashion photogbelieves jobs will be available. art and [to show my work] in galleries. Some of my favorite photographers do workshops where they help other people, so that would be nice [to do as well],” Heaton said. Isha Damle can be reached at

Student Art For Everyone club brightens school atmosphere Patrick Nicholson Staff Reporter What will you do? Where will you go? Students walking the hallways this year may encounter these questions, thanks to Conestoga’s new chameleon mural. This large, vibrantly colored lizard has taken up residence across from the glass stairhave no trouble blending in with the Conestoga environment. This past summer, members of Student Art for Everyone (S.A.F.E.) designed and painted the new mural, which features a chameleon covered with school-related images. According to senior Ashley Gillam, the club’s vice president, S.A.F.E. has been planning this project since the club’s formation three years ago. “We have [wanted] to do a mural since my freshman year with the club, but we struggled getting the administration’s approval,” Gillam said. “We and we went forward with it.” The accepted design was created

by senior Carolyn Schew. Schew, a member of the AP Studio Art program, came up with the original idea on a whim. “I really wanted to put something random on the wall, and a chameleon kind of worked. It [blends] into its surroundings, like a student adjusts to their surroundings,” Schew said. According to Schew, several small doodles she made ended up mural. However, Gillam said that other aspects of the design were not as unplanned. that would encompass everyone in the school. We wanted to make it something that everyone could enjoy of people,” Gillam said. “That was the basis of the design.” More additions were made, including the collage of objects covering the chameleon. Among these new elements were items from a wide variety of educational areas. During the second week of summer vacation, club members came

back to school to complete the project. So far, responses have been mixed. Junior Gavin Thomas found the mural interesting, and he said he appreciates its variety of images. “I like the way the mural shows all the different opportunities here at ’Stoga. It incorporates lots of different themes,” Thomas said. However, not everyone has been as affected by the mural. Senior Dennison Richter does not think that the mural will have much effect on the student body. “I think it’s a nice piece of art, but it’s just art,” Richter said. “It’s not like a giant chameleon on the wall is going to bring the school together.” Schew hopes the mural at least conveys some meaning to students. “Sure, I hope it affects the student body. I hope they gaze upon it knowing that they can [become] any kind of student they want to be,” Schew said.

Anisa Tavangar/The SPOKE

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

Top: Seniors Margot Field, Ashley Gillam and Carolyn Schew work on StuPatrick Nicholson can be reached at

Sports TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

Getting in the Zone

Courtney Kennedy

As the clock winds down to game time, Conestoga athletes know the trick to getting their head in the game.

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

Seniors Riley Prichett (football), Maddie Swarr (soccer) and Molly Dudrear (cross country) pose for a photo with teammates Evan Pentz (football) and Erin Young-Dahl (cross country). Many students perform special pre-game rituals to get in the zone before a game.

Running builds determination When senior Molly Dudrear prepares for a cross country meet, she is positive of a few things: what she will wear and what her team will say to get themselves pumped up for the race.

to scream that so we all get pumped up and we are all feeling good for the race,” Dudrear said.

Taking in Teamer During football season Fridays,

sure to wear every time I race,” Dutop and I always wear my hair the same way.” One way to do that is to get focused before the girls get on the starting line. While many teams have a huddle before an important event, the cross

mental mindset: “RBD.” “Right before we get on the line, we chant ‘RBD’ and that means ‘running

devote himself to his team and teammates. “I focus on my role on the team more than anything,” Pritchett said. perfect on every single play.” Before the game begins, one thing

the atmosphere of Teamer Field to get himself mentally ready for the game.

as a Conestoga football player are numbered, and while that saddens me, it also tells me that I have to only owe it to myself, but more importantly, I owe it to my teammates,” Pritchett said.

Bonding time soccer team room before a game, it is easy to see the upbeat attitude of the girls as they get ready to play. The and dancing as they loosen up before a game and get themselves mentally prepared. “One big thing we do before games is the dancing. Well, more the upperclassmen dancing and the un-

derclassmen watching,” senior Marley Jennings said. Jennings explained that some players even have superstitions ingoal, or getting a certain number of headers. Some of the girls also have before a game. Jennings “and I have this hander [senior Salina Williford] where we apart and then jump three times and then jump up and hit our feet together,” senior Maddie Swarr said. “It’s pretty special. Courtney Kennedy can be reached at




Soccer twins part ways, head to rival colleges Andy Backstrom Staff Reporter

Karolis Panavas/

Seniors Danny Gonzalez and Andrew Gonzalez

Competitive drive: Sophomore looks past gender on golf team Shivani Sanghani Staff Reporter

that golfers are under a great deal

As the golf ball soars overhead,

Shivani Shinghani can be reached at

Karolis Panavas/

Sophomore Victoria Lewandowski t




NHL lockout: greed or necessity?

Stephane Hardinger Sports Columnist Lockouts have seemingly become an unfortunate part of the sport of hockey under Commissioner Gary Bettman’s leadership, and the most recent one began on Sept. 15. In 2004, the entire National Hockey League (NHL) season was cancelled. When the fessional sports league to miss an entire season due to labor issues, a salary cap was put into place and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was enacted. One could easily argue that the owners and the league, not the players, were in the right for the previous work stoppage under Bet-

tman. Player salaries were climbing astronomically and revenues were not rising at the same rates. The league lost over $300 million in the season preceding the 2004-05 lockout. But unlike the previous two, this year’s lockout is driven by greed rather than necessity. The owners are crying poor because over half the teams in the league reported losses last season, but their claims don’t add up. Revenues have increased from $2.1 billion at the start of the new CBA to a record $3.3 billion after last season. Owners are throwing out exorbitant sums of money left and right. Per CapGeek, owners have spent a whopping $1.5 billion signing 177 players since July 1. teams either. The Nashville Predators, the sixth smallest team in the league, signed defenseman Shea Weber to a $110 million deal this summer. The deal’s average annual value of $7.86 million exceeds the team’s annual losses of $7.5 million, according to Forbes.

rocket scientist to realize that the owners themselves are their own downfall. The fact that the owners would sign players to contracts at the eleventh hour under the old

Callum Backstrom/The SPOKE

In addition, the deal is structured so that Weber is paid $26 million in signing bonuses between this past July and next July, regardless of whether a single game of hockey is played. Signing that kind of contract as a small market team complain that the players are making too much money and the teams And as the clock ticked down on the CBA’s expiration on Sept. 15,

owners handed out over $200 million in contracts in the 48 hours preceding the expiration date. If the expired CBA is so unfair to the owners, why were they so desperate to lock up players to new contracts under it? It seems like a paradox: the owners are handing out record contracts and exorbitant sums of money to players and then complaining that the players are being paid too much. It doesn’t take a

okay to continue to operate under it. The players have said they’ll gladly play under the expired CBA as a new one is negotiated. The puck is squarely in the owners’ zone, yet they refuse to skate it out. Instead, they’ve taken their puck and gone home in an effort to shake down the players for more money. Do you remember anything any owner did last season besides pay the contracts that they authorized? I rest my case. Let’s throw our support behind the men who provide our entertainment on the ice rather than the men who are trying to keep the talent off the ice in an effort to squeeze even more money out of the men who play the sport we love. Stephane Hardinger can be reached at




























*All updates as of October 10.



Players v. Doctors Navin Zachariah Staff Reporter


Girls tennis dominates league Maddie Amsterdam Co-Sports Editor

However, there are some players who see it a different way. They believe they can play through an injury without the rest that the doctor recommends. Sophomore soccer player Alex Wetzel said he would

“I would be able to withstand the pain,” Wetzel said. Senior football player Michael Shuler said he sees other players playing through injuries. “I see that happen all the time,” Shuler said. “But you shouldn’t play if it is a really serious injury.” Shuler also said the reason that people would play through injury in an important game would be because winning a big game “has to be the best feeling in the world, so if you can push through, then you got to push through the pain.” Although doctors understand athletes’ persistence to want to play in big games while injured, they still worry more about the risks to the athletes’ long-term health. “Doctors understand the players’ desire to play, but the players have to be aware of the possible longterm health risks of playing through injury,” Crowley said. “I can be empathetic toward athletes’ desire to play through injury, but I have to be cautious in helping them make the right healthy decision.”

the girls work.” After dominating the Central League, the team went on to compete in distrticts. The girls won both of their district matches, allowing them to move on to the state competition. “It’s such a good feeling to be going on to states,” senior Meredith Frost said. “It means a lot to be able to compete at such a high level.” Fererri said that winning states would be a great follow up to the boys’ tennis team state title last year. “We’d love to take home another trophy for Conestoga,” Fererri said.

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

injury, especially if it were an important game.

Navin Zachariah can be reached at

Maddie Amsterdam can be reached at

Junior Phoebe Todd returns a serve during a tennis match at the Upper Main Line YMCA. The girls’ tennis team won the Central League and then went on to compete in the District Championships.

A question that many of today’s athletes face is whether or not to play through an injury. Even with injuries, many athletes continue to play each game as if it is their last. But doctors worry that if injured athletes continue to play, each game could be their last. According to Dr. Kurt Crowley, an internal medicine doctor at Paoli Hospital, there are many different types of injuries in sports, but the most common ones are to the knee, ankle, wrist or shoulder. “If a doctor is assessing a simple joint strain, then we know that a patient can recover within a few weeks, especially a young healthy patient,” Crowley said. “So usually we will

On Oct. 8, the girls tennis team won their fourth consecutive Central League title. For senior captain Erin Ferreri, this win was especially exciting. “It feels great to have won every year I’ve been at ’Stoga,” she said. “It makes it feel like all the practice


VOLUME 63, NO. 1



Getting in the zone Twins to play soccer before a game for rival universities See p. 20 See p. 21

Serving up success Girls tennis wins Central See p. 23

Senior Maggie Manning returns the ball during a tennis match at the Upper Main Line YMCA. The team competed in the District Championships on Oct. 8 and Oct. 11.

Karolis Panavas/The SPOKE

The Spoke October 2012 issue. Cover: Prescription drug abuse  

The Spoke October 2012 issue. Cover: Prescription drug abuse.

The Spoke October 2012 issue. Cover: Prescription drug abuse  

The Spoke October 2012 issue. Cover: Prescription drug abuse.