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The Vol. XXXVII, Number 3 December 2009

Student voice of the Westhill community “The test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.�

Overcoming Obstacles

Four students maintain ordinary lives under extraordinary circumstances

4 10 29 36 See pages 14 and 15

New teacher contracts finalized

Community Stamford Allservice requirement School Musical debated stars interviewed

Special Report: An in-depth look at the H1N1 Virus



Westword 2009-2010 Staff The

Editor-in-Chief Shivali Khetan Associate Editor Alexandra Lewis Print Managing Editors Stacey Rupolo, Jackie Schechter, Erin Stanton Online Managing Editor Jaime Manela Ombudsman Jake Sabbah Photo Manager Lizzie Hart Copy Managers Sam Lagasse, Kara Lewis Photo Editors Greg Cinque, Alana Kasindorf,  Elissa Miolene News Page Editors Nikolai Anerud, Annie Cohen, Skyler Ross Feature Page Editors Claire Mahoney, Elizabeth Quartararo Supplement Page Editors Rebecca Savransky, Katie Zabronsky Viewpoint Page Editors Keben Perez, Anna Schlessinger Scatterbrain Page Editors Ross Alter, Mallory Hart Limelight Page Editors Dan O’Brien, Daniella Rumlova Sports Page Editors Matt Frederick, Zac Krowitz, Lainey Sidell Express Page Editors Marissa Friedman, Danny Tehrani Special Section Editors Alex Glenges, Anjali Khetan Las Noticias Editors Andrea Lopez, Alba Vega-Ruano Alternate Page Editor Anika Advani Online Content Editors Stuart Farber, Caitlin O’Brien Online Creative Director Kim Blasnik Online Technical Manager Richard Zheng Print Technical Manager Ronak Mehta Copy Editors

Jon Arditti, Jon Berman, Josh Friedman, Joanna Koczuk, David Markowitz, Joely Mass, Samantha McNichols, Christina Sanon Verification Managers Brian Barr, Sam Colon Head Pollster Michael Conetta Pollsters Kevin Ferri, Sara Mandel, Wanda Palma, Christiana Provenzano, Naomi Sabbah, Brianna Skorvanek, Marissa Skorvanek, Jackie Tofano News Reporters Daniella Rumlova, Hayley Siegel, Terrence Smith Sports Reporters Peter Dawson, Steph Domond, Jack Grafstein, Andrew Krowitz, Kaloy Miller Staff Reporters Katie Beauleau, Spencer Evans, Rachna Mehta, Yazmin Pacheco, Brian Pollack, Lauren Pollack Head Illustrator Laura Eber Illustrators Jackie Avellar, Blair Haden, Josh Thomas Photographers Amanda Barkin, Mike Bodall, Sarah Ehrlich, Zach Eisen, Stephen Emerick, Kelly Farrell, Ashley Guy, Peter Markham, Gerald Morgan, Andrew Newman, Jennifer Osher, Vanessa Reyes,  Samantha Rushovich, Augusta Sagnelli, Lizzie Van Name Online Videographer/Photographer Will Hart Distribution Managers Katie Mandel, Martha Masiarz Business Managers Jon Arons, Elianne Estevez Professional Consultant Dave Ruden Las Noticias Adviser Ms. Mendez Co-Advisers Mr. von Wahlde, Mr. Wooley

Westhill High School 125 Roxbury Road Stamford, CT 06902 (203) 977-4894

Holding room proves to be ineffective punishment

Imagine this scenario: A student walks into class 20 minutes late. He or she proceeds to crack jokes while the rest of the students complete a worksheet, and when asked by the teacher to stop, he or she refuses. At this point, the other students in the class are joining in and the learning environment is disintegrating. In order to restore a normal classroom setting, the teacher sends the student to the holding room. But what happens from there? According to Principal Ms. Figluizzi, “The purpose of the holding room is to remove a [disruptive] student from the class. There is not the expectation that they’ll leave the room with their work; the expectation is that they’ll sit quietly and find something to do.” After conducting thorough research, The Westword has found that the holding room is ineffective because its mission does not address the root of the problem it seeks to address. The purpose of the holding room is to remove disruptive students who are interfering with a classroom’s learning environment. Although this intent is good, it is only a temporary solution. Foreign Language teacher Mr. Franchina, who has sent kids to the holding room before, said, “[The holding room] is like putting a band-aid on the [disciplinary] situation.” If disruptive students come to view the holding room as a place to socialize and escape class work, and not as a punishment, the school is not promoting a healthy learning environment. Sophomore David Quito, who said that he has been to the holding room about 10 times so far this year, has noticed this sentiment among other kids who have been sent to the holding room. “I’ve seen other kids who come [to the holding room] happy. They don’t care about school,” he said. Additionally, if a student is constantly being removed from class and sent to the holding room,

he or she will fall behind in their school work dramatically—the beginning of a downward cycle. “Kids who are in In School Suspension (ISS) or the holding room tend to be repeat customers,” said science teacher Mr. Perry, who has holding room duty. The Westword suggests that the school make the holding room more of a serious punishment by linking classroom misbehavior resulting in trips to the holding room with administrative detention. The school should establish a policy that requires students to be punished adequately for the disruption they caused. For example, if one person has three holding room visits from the same class, he or she should be required to serve one administrative detention. This solution


would only work if the teacher on holding room duty was especially vigilant, making sure all of the students were either doing their classwork or sitting quietly. On Monday, November 30, the administration and certain staff members had a meeting to address another problem with the way kids are sent to the holding room. According to Mr. Perry, students are often not accompanied to the holding room by a security guard even though this is the official procedure. How can a teacher guarantee that a disruptive student actually makes it to the holding room if he or she is not escorted by a security guard? The Westword applauds the administration’s efforts to prevent this from happening. According to the Westhill High School Holding Room Protocol, “Teachers will: notify the parents, provide disciplinary consequences (discipline referral) to student, follow up with [department head] (discipline referral if appropriate) and follow up with

grade level administrator (discipline referral if appropriate).” However, it seems that many teachers do not follow these instructions. As Mr. Franchina said, “Some [teachers] do, and most don’t.” The Westword feels that this process of following up on a student’s holding room visit is overly confusing and vague. For example, there are no guidelines for what disciplinary infractions require a discipline referral to be sent to a grade level administrator versus a department head. Furthermore, the process of filling out and submitting such a form takes too much time and effort on the part of the teacher. It has come to The Westword’s attention that Westhill hopes to develop a new feature on the attendance recording software, StarBase, where teachers can submit discipline reports right on a student’s profile. The Westword feels that this method would be much more practical and effective than the current recording system, which involves hefty paperwork to be circulated to many people. An electronic system would allow the teacher, department head, and grade level administrator to view records and referrals from the convenience of their own computers. Now, picture a new scenario: The student who walks into class 20 minutes late and is disruptive is sent directly by the teacher and accompanied by a security guard to the holding room. That day, the teacher enters the misbehavior into the StarBase software and the event is officially recorded. Should the student get sent to the holding room two more times, he or she would serve an administrative detention, in hopes that a more concrete punishment would discourage disruptive behavior from that student in the future. The Westword feels that such a system would make for a more disciplined student body and an improved learning environment for all students.

Front cover photo by Stacey Rupolo Back cover photo by Jenn Osher


Letters to the Editor

December 2009

Living with violence Dear Editor, When looking through The Westword, I saw all the good things that students have accomplished, but I saw nothing about the violence [in the school] besides the [student’s] death. I was wondering if there was something you can put in the paper to start a change. There are deaths and fights all the time, and most of it is not worth it. This might seem like an outsider looking in [on the situation,] but I am an insider looking out and taking the time to inform others that school isn’t what it seems. When most people think about school, they want to know that they are safe and out of harm’s

way, but that’s not always the case with Westhill. Fights and pointless arguments happen in the hallway that students, teachers, and other people have to walk in. So in conclusion, I would just like to see a change in our school so I can know that it’s safe to walk in the halls without being trampled by security trying to break up a fight that shouldn’t be going on. Sincerely, Steven Thompson, ’11 Vegetarian Inspiration Dear Editor, The article about sophomore Maureen Michaelson and her petition for vegetarian lunch touched me. It showed me how much courage she had to go around the caf-

Table of Contents E ditorial ...............................................................2-3 News.............................................................................4-9 Viewpoint....................................................................10-13 Feature..................................................................14-17 Las Noticias.....................................................................18-19 Supplement............................................................21-28 Limelight...............................................................29-32 E xpress ............................................................34-35 Special.........................................................................36-38 Scatterbrain............................................................39-41 Sports...................................................................42-47 November Issue Corrections

The Westword apologizes for the following errors: News (page 8): The news brief photos were credited to Alana Kasindorf while they were actually taken by Samantha Rushovich. News (page 9): Brian Barr is identified as a Staff Writer while he is actually a Verification Manager.

Limelight (page 30): The illustrations were credited to Laura Eber and Jackie Avellar, while they were only drawn by Laura Eber. Sports (page 45): Martha Masiarz’s name is spelt wrong. Sports (page 47): In Jordan Meyer’s column, he stated that the New York Yankees played the Anaheim Angels while they really played the Minnesota Twins.

The Westword will be guided in the publication of material by a concern for truth, for human decency, and for human benefit. It is published during the school year by the Journalism and Communications students at Westhill High School, along with the Late Night Staff. Letters to the Editor, advertising requests, comments, criticism, or suggestions are always welcome. The views expressed in Viewpoint may not necessarily represent the opinions of The Westword. Editorial Board consists of Annie Cohen, Stuart Farber, Shivali Khetan, Alexandra Lewis, Jaime Manela, Keben Perez, Skyler Ross, Stacey Rupolo, Erin Stanton, Jake Sabbah, Jackie Schechter, Alba Vega-Ruano, and Katie Zabronsky.

eteria and ask people to sign her petition even when no one would listen to her. All it took was for one person to step up and sign her petition [to make a difference.] Everyone who wanted to sign the petition but was afraid to was encouraged [by Michaelson] to sign and write what they feel, which made them feel better and also gave them a chance to eat a lot more healthily. This article has shown me a lot of courage from this young girl who stood up to the whole school. Sincerely, Sharuq Gadiwalla, ’11 Freedom of costume Dear Editor, Dressing up for Halloween is a

tradition at Westhill. Many teachers have been arguing that this year students “abused freedoms,” but their parents agreed with their costumes and teachers shouldn’t have a problem with it. Halloween is supposed to be fun and kids can dress up for it. If some teacher doesn’t like any kid’s costume, the teacher should leave school and ignore it. I believe that most of [the costumes] were just to be funny and we should let them be the way they want to be. This is a free country, therefore teachers have to let us dress as we want to dress. I’m hoping that the principal won’t put restrictions next year because it would take away all the fun. Sincerely, Mauro Mayen, ’11


Please send your opinions to The Westword. Place letters in Shivali Khetan’s mailbox in room 224 or e-mail them to westwordwhs@


This enthusiastic reminder placed in the 200s by the Go Healthy Early Club made sure to alert the student body to “live life” this month, among many other “awesome” things.

N ews Missing books pose a problem 4

Lack of returns puts a strain on English Department ZACH EISEN and Stacey RUpolo Sports Photographer and Managing Editor With the nation’s economy caught in a tight recession, it is essential to conserve school funding and see that every penny is put to the best possible use. Unfortunately for Westhill, the English Department is currently missing a few thousand dollars worth of books that have not been returned over the past few years. According to the English Department’s Tenth Grade Book Chairperson, Ms. Anderson, this amount has been accumulated over the years and is the fault of teachers and students alike. “I am surprised to hear this because my teachers have encouraged their students to bring books back, but at the same time I know that other teachers do not do much to make sure students get books in,” said junior Marjorye Alday. When books are distributed for use in English classes, it is mostly up to the students to return the books to the Media Center when they are finished. However, according to English teacher Ms. Anderson, the teachers need to do a better job of monitoring the returning process.“I always have to return [my] books myself,” said junior Katie Costello.

Stacey Rupolo / Managing Editor Currently, the English department is missing a few thousand dollars in books. These books must now be replaced using money from the school’s budget. “The most important thing for the teachers to do is to supervise their students in returning books,” said Ms. Anderson, who personally brings her students to the Media Center when it is time for them to hand in their books. “It is part of your job as a teacher.” Ms. Anderson also said that allowing teachers to scan books in their classroom would help reduce the amount of missing books and save class time by eliminating the need for trips to the Media Center. In order to combat the loss of

the school’s books, two years ago the Media Center instituted a system where barcode stickers are placed on the books to track their ownership. The books are then scanned into the computer system when classes use them. Teachers have access to these lists of books which keeps the English department cognizant of how many books have gone missing. Ms. Benedict, the Head Media Specialist, said that there has been a definite improvement in returning books since the implication of this

system. “We are not the police, we cannot go to students’ houses and go get books. Although I would love to do that, the fact of the matter is kids are forgetful. It’s just in the nature of being a teenager. Usually those students who do not bring their book to class do not end up returning it,” said Ms. Strom, English department head. Several teachers allow their students to purchase their books for class at an inexpensive price, which may reduce the problem

of lost books. Along with freeing the students of returning the school’s property on their own time, it allows them to annotate and take notes inside the book, which could helps improve overall reading comprehension. However, since not every student is financially capable of purchasing books, this system cannot be made mandatory. The English Department and Media Center encourage all students to return any books they still have in their possession.

Instructional Grouping; Professional Learning Communities and Data Teams; and School Culture. The funding sources for all four of these areas are provided by grant and district money totaling close to $15 million. The members of this team, which is made up of administrators, teachers, and central office staff, researched and wrote the SDIP over the course of this past year. Twelfth grade administrator Mr. Rodriguez, and School Psychologist, Dr. Bilias, are both members of the District Data team

from Westhill. Dr. Bilias is also the District Chair for Psychology for the Stamford Public Schools. Mr. Rodriguez and Dr. Bilias both worked on the School Culture section of the SDIP and they have both started coordinating different aspects of this area at Westhill. According to Mr. Rodriguez, Westhill will start electronically recording the record forms for suspensions. After an appropriate field is created in the school’s electronic recording system, called Star_Base School Suite, staff members will be able to track

and record punishments more efficiently. Star_Base School Suite is a web-based system that organizes everything from student information and class schedules to attendance and graduation requirements. “Electronic record-keeping would allow for more diligent records and make classifying records easier. Better records would also let staff keep better track of students so we know which students we need to help or look out for,” said Mr. Rodriguez. Dr. Bilias is focused on de-

vising a committee with students that will look at existing practices to measure students’ success at providing a sense of community, but they will also identify aspects that need further attention and improvement. By the spring she hopes to get this committee together to examine these strengths and weaknesses. “[The District Data Team] is excited to put this out. We really want to promote a strong academic culture that appreciates the wealth in diversity in the Stamford Public Schools,” said Dr. Bilias.

District improvement plan underway SHIVALI KHETAN Editor-in-Chief

The implementation of the Stamford Strategic District Improvement Plan (SDIP) is underway at Westhill. The SDIP, a three-year improvement plan for the Stamford Public Schools, was approved by the Connecticut State Board of Education on November 4, 2009, and unveiled to staff on November 16. The SDIP covers four different areas: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; De-Tracking and


December 2009


Solution reached after long debate

Arbitration over teacher contracts finalized STACEY RUPOLO Managing Editor On December 14, the Stamford Board of Education (BOE) and the teachers’ union, the Stamford Education Association (SEA), received the final outline of the new teacher contracts for the 2010-2011 school year. The arbitration panel decided in favor of the BOE on 13 out of 19 conditions, leaving Stamford teachers with much less than they desired. Although the contract must still go before the Board of Representatives, the conditions are essentially final. Among the new provisions of this three year contract are a wage freeze for the first year, a 2.5 percent wage increase in the second year for all teachers in the top step, or level, of employment, and then a two percent general wage increase (GWI) for everyone in the third year. Health benefits and insurance will remain unmodified for the first year and will rise by one percent in both the second and third years. The negotiation process began in August 2009 and finally culminated in a state-mandated arbitration in early November. The BOE and SEA had separate demands for many aspects of the contract when discussion began. The SEA desired a two year contract that stipulated a 2.75 percent wage increase in the first year and a 3.75 wage increase in the second year with unmodified health benefits. The BOE was vying for a three year contract with no wage increase the first year, a one percent increase the second year, and a two percent increase the third year with a two percent increase on health benefits. “I love what I do, but when I’m compensated in this way it makes me upset,” said history teacher

the conditions for their new contract.Teachers feel that they have not gotten the better end of the deal since they will not receive a substantial raise and will have to contribute more to their health benefits. “I heard that the teachers are disgusted and feel unappreciated. It appears like they are the only ones that did not get a raise,” said Principal Ms. Figluizzi. “I empathize with the teachers though. They are asked to do more with our reforms while there is less money to earn through extra work.” The contract also outlines a few new conditions aimed at making the Stamford education system more beneficial for the public. Two days of professional development will be allotted to any teacher who changes grades within a school. They will be compensated at a curriculum revision rate, which is essentially a higher rate of pay for these days of training. Another condition of the contract will allow the BOE to manipulate employee hours according to the demands of students or parents. For example, if several students from a few high schools wanted to take a class that is not offered in their curricula, then the BOE can seek volunteers, consult the president of the SEA, and negotiate a schedule that will allow students to meet with a teacher after school to take the course. Previously, the BOE had to seek the permission of individual employees before adjusting hours. “This is in no way a final decision on how this will work. This condition will simply enable us to stretch our dollars, whether its [for] enrichment, remediation, or other opportunities for kids who are low performing. We are offer-

“I love what I do, but when I’m compensated in this way it makes me upset,” said history teacher Mrs. Kousidis. Mrs. Kousidis. The SEA could not be reached to comment on the issue, but many teachers are disappointed with

ing additional services at no cost,” said the Superintendent of Stamford Public Schools, Dr. Starr. “This will allow us flexible

Alana Kasindorf / Photo Editor Math teacher Mr. Capriotti reviews the new teacher contract that was finalized on December 14. The plan contains a combination of the proposals from the BOE and SEA. scheduling. We will be able to accomodate individual teachers needs and can offer classes in a different way,” said Ms. Figluizzi. Currently, $110 million of the city budget is delegated to teacher salaries. This compromises more than half of the total budget. “The city boards have not recently been funding the Stamford Public Schools according to their needs,” said Dr. Starr. According to Dr. Starr, the Board of Finance will not raise taxes above one percent, which leaves the BOE to manipulate their predetermined

figures accordingly. The BOE anticipates that this contract will save the City of Stamford seven million dollars over the next three years by reducing the typical average GWI from nine percent to 2.8 percent. Even though this currently denies teachers a significant pay increase, the arbitrator believes this contract is “a reasonable balance of interests and clearly in the public interest.” The panel made current economic pressures on local taxpayers and budget restrictions a focal point of their final decisions.

“The BOE hides behind figures which makes all of this confusing,” said an anonymous teacher. “[The arbitration panel] certainly took into consideration the Board of Education’s need to provide a strong education system within a rough economic climate,” said Dr. Starr.“I am appreciative of the hard work teachers put in. It is hard to meet the needs of students and I see that they have risen to the challenge of the needs of so many. I am glad that this contract allows us to keep so many more since we invest a lot in our teachers,”



December 2009

Good Month Bad Month A Column by Alex Glenges and Katie Beauleau

Good Month for...

Eminem, who, before 1999, was merely known as the peroxideblond rapper until Dr. Dre took him under his wing. Ten years later, this musician has earned the position of top-selling artist of the decade, eclipsing The Beatles. Nielsen Soundscan, the company that configures the Billboard Charts, calculated that Eminem has sold over 32.2 million albums overall.

The World’s Smallest Mom, Stacy Herald of Dry Ridge, Kentucky, who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease which caused her to grow to a height of two feet four inches. On November 28, she gave birth to her third child by Caesarean section, which defies all knowledge relevant to her size and her bone disease. The pregnancy threatened her life because of her small pelvic dimensions and the possibility of the fetus crushing her organs. Stacy and her 5’ 9” husband Will were determined to have a family and therefore ignored these risks. The baby is doing well and has been adjusting to his new family for the past month.

Twilight fans, who have been hyped up since the release of the second movie of the Twilight Saga, New Moon. The excitement slowly built over the past year, so fans were thrilled when the next film in the series was finally released. The much-anticipated flick grossed $142,839,075 in its opening weekend. Feuds between Team Jacob and Team Edward erupted between die-hard Twilight worshippers.

Bad Month for...

Tiger Woods, who had a pristine image as one of the greatest golfers of his time. However, on November 27, he crashed his car into a tree in his front yard, setting off a media frenzy around his carefully guarded private life. The media focused on Woods when rumors circulated that his wife, Elin Nordegren, had chased him out of the house with one of his golf clubs. Why was Woods’ wife chasing him? Apparently, Tiger had been involved in affairs with nine women, and many other alleged ones. Woods recently apologized for his “transgressions” to the public and his family.

Chihuahuas, who have been affected in California by the “Paris Hilton syndrome,” as it is called by many animal shelters and rescuers. Chihuahuas, who the hotel heiress helped to turn into a fashion accessory, have now become the most abandoned pooch in California. Over one-third of the dogs in shelters are chihuahuas, and in some cities this statistic has reached the 50th percent. Dog experts believe that this trend is due to the impact of Hollywood and its celebrities on California’s citizens. People see celebrities carrying their chihuahuas and don’t think about the work involved in caring for an animal until it is too late.

Laura Eber / Head Illustrator

Stacey Rupolo / Managing Editor Students from the entrepeneurship classes became small-business owners on December 10 at the Holiday Bazaar, where they sought to sell items they bought or made for a profit.

Students host Holiday Bazaar ALEX LEWIS Associate Editor

On Thursday, December 10, Westhill’s entrepreneurship students hosted the Holiday Bazaar. Approximately 75 students from three entrepreneurship classes took hold of their business skills in order to sell a variety of items to their fellow classmates. Over 1,000 students attended the Bazaar, where they could buy items from a selection of about 25 stations. There was a wide variety of products being sold, ranging from jewelry and plants. Two stations even had gaming consoles set up, and for a small fee, students could play in video game tournaments. It was apparent, however, that most students chose to sell food. The gym was overflowing with the smell of fried chicken, freshly made eggs and sausage, and em-

panadas, to name a few of the products sold. “It seemed like there was mostly food. There wasn’t a lot of other stuff,” said freshman Ryan Daly. The Bazaar is set up by the entrepreneurial classes in order to give the students a hands-on opportunity to put their lessons from the classroom into action. Each entrepreneur or group of entrepreneurs received 50 dollars with which they were allowed to purchase whatever product or products that they felt would sell. Then, after the Bazaar was over, $50 of the revenue was returned, and the students were allowed to keep any additional profit. Should the student or students fail to make back the $50, they then had to return any remain products they had. Many students tried to collect a revenue of at least $100.

“I have no complaints [about the Bazaar],” said entrepreneurship teacher and Business and Unified Arts Department Head Ms. Kumar. “There’s a lot of food being sold but it’s what kids want to buy. I think there should be more holiday stuff to buy, like gift baskets.” While many students were able to attend the fair, not everyone was given the opportunity to visit the Bazaar. Students were only allowed to attend if a teacher in their period one through five classes had signed their class up to attend. As a result, approximately half the school was unable to visit the Bazaar. Sophomore Sam Enright noticed this lack of attendance among his peers. “A lot of people knew about the Bazaar, but not a lot of people could go because their teachers didn’t sign them up,” he said.


December 2009


International trips cancelled Plans abandoned due to time limitations

Marielle Martiney Staff Writer

Unexpected news has been revealed to all students interested in traveling during their April vacation with the school. Some of the international trips organized by the History and Foreign Language Departments have been cancelled. The trip to Europe, spearheaded by history teacher Ms. Loesch, has been cancelled. The expected cost of this European journey to France, Germany and Poland during April was calculated to be approximately $2,800. With the focus centering on World War II landmarks, this educational trip was supposed to consist of visits to many historic places such as Normandy, France and Berlin, Germany. The organization through which the trip was organized was consistently unresponsive. The History Department’s questions and concerns were answered in an untimely manner, which concerned many teachers. “Their materials were not together. Especially since the trip is overseas, we were hesitant to entrust our students with them in Europe, when correspondence

between us [in America] was not reliable,” said history teacher Ms. Berkley. It seems the lack of communication and reliability of the organization showed too much of a chance for misfortune in Europe. The European expedition was abandoned by the History Department several weeks ago. Ms. Berkley said, “We let it crash and burn.” For the students’ sake they were not willing to risk students’ safety, to the disappointment of many. Additionally, the trips to Spain and France that were being organized by the Foreign Langauge Department were also discontinued. According to Foreign Language Department Head Ms. Herz, a lack of advanced planning caused these trips to falter. The time allotted between the announcement of the trip, the deadline for sign-up, and money deposits was not generous enough. Furthermore, given the shape of the economy, collecting the sum of $3,000 for the trips to Spain and France in a few weeks was difficult for many families. Students were not able to produce the funds in time, which caused the trip to be

Alana Kasindorf / Photo Editor The trip to France that was announced a few weeks ago to the students in this French class is now cancelled due to organization issues. halted until next year. “These trips were not called off due to lack of student involvement,” said Ms. Herz. For the European, Spain, and France trips, student involvement

was not in any way a reason for cancellation. In fact, numerous students showed sincere interest in participating in these trips next year. The Foreign Langauge depart-

ment trips for the April break of 2011 are being planned far ahead of time this year. Ms. Herz assures that this additional time frame will ensure plans for adventurous trips to Spain and France in 2011.

nior Lee Gordon, a member of the band. According to Gordon, the North Stamford Exchange Club agreed to donate money to the band based on how many trees it sells. “The Christmas tree sale is great for the marching band program because the prices for certain activities are expensive. With help from the local North Stamford Exchange, we can raise money for ourselves, by outreaching to the local community,” said senior drum major Stephen Emerick. Senior band member Rebecca Johnson said, “The North Stamford Exchange members are very friendly and generous.” According to Johnson, the sale is beneficial not only for Westhill’s marching band, but for the community and for the North Stamford Exchange too.

The manual labor the band members perform promotes unity within the band and gives the community members an opportunity to celebrate their Christmas holiday without emptying their wallets. The band members’ volunteer work entails pricing trees and directing customers in shifts of three or four hours, in exchange for adonation to Westhill’s music program. According to Gordon, the band members’ volunteer hours not only provide an opportunity to lower Christmas shopping expenses, but also to assist the band with its expensive activities. The deal between the Marching Band and the North Stamford Exchange has given the band members an opportunity to bond and experience “a nice way to get involved in the community.”

Band hosts Christmas tree fundraiser LAURA EBER Head Illustrator

Alana Kasindorf / Photo Editor The Westhil band and the North Stamford Exchange Club are hosting a Christmas tree sale as a fundraiser for the band.

In the spirit of the holidays, the band has teamed up with the North Stamford Exchange to host a Christmas tree sale. Trees will be on sale until December 22 at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. The timings for the sale are Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Wednesday from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The price of trees ranges from $45 to $95. “The sale raises money for the band. Everyone in the band is required to participate in at least three shifts. Since this sale is the last organized band event outside of band class for the season, it is an enjoyable function,” said se-



December 2009


Starting in the month of November, the Special Education students have been collecting recyclables during lunch. This is part of Science teacher Ms. Esformes’ school-wide recyling program. Ms. Esformes asked the Prevocational Learning Program (PLP) students to assist her. The students help out by collecting recyclables during lunch and from the teachers’ lounges. “They love it and they even remind me [to recycle]. [The students] also get a chance to see other students and friends,” said Special Education teacher Ms. Winney. The students are helping to save the enviroment and additionally, they gain a good experience. Principal Ms. Figluizzi is ordering T-shirts for the PLP students that will say “Recyling Team.” The students are very excited to receive the T-shirts and participate in this program.

On November 3, Stamford voters went to the polls and voted three new members to the Board of Education. Of the five people running, the three elected were Ms. Lorraine Olson, Dr. Pauline Rauh, and Mr. Jerry Pia. Pia was named as Vice President, Olson as the new Assistant Secretary, and Rauh as an elected member. “Some of the changes I would like to see happen are keeping our high schools safe, changing the registration procedures for schools, and addressing the middle school grouping,” said Ms. Olson. Middle school detracking is one of the most discussed topics in the Board of Education. Another topic the new members will address are the budget and staff cuts. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Starr feels that the new members are a good addition to the Board of Education.

On December 12, Westhill hosted an event for Help-Portrait, an organization that provides free portraits. According to Help-Portrait’s website, its mission is to give back to the community by providing free, professionally-printed photos to people who are going through a difficult time, including divorces, the homeless, and the underpriveleged. “People sometimes don’t understand how powerful a photo can be, especially if they have their picture taken often,” said senior Stacey Rupolo, who, along with English teacher Mr. von Wahlde, hosted the event. “It makes people feel good about themselves.” Once the pictures were taken, they were then printed and distributed immediately by the people who hosted the event. BRIEFS COMPILED BY HAYLEY SIEGEL, ANNIE COHEN, AND SKYLER ROSS Photos by Lizzie Hart / Photo Manager

Alana Kasindorf / Photo Editor Students look at one of the Harlem Wizards posters that are currently displayed throughout school. Students from the Success Program will be playing against the Wizards on January 7, 2010.

Harlem Wizards take on the Success Program Cassie michelotti Staff Writer

On Thursday, January 7, the Success Squad, comprised of Westhill administrators, faculty members, and Success Program students, will play a basketball game against the Harlem Wizards. The game will be a fundraiser for the Success Program, while also serving as an opportunity to raise Westhill parents’ awareness about the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) requirements at a presentation before the game. The Harlem Wizards team was started in 1962 by sports promoter Howie Davis. In 1943, Davis was called to provide an emergency eighth team for the World Championship of Basketball Tournament in Chicago. His

team, the Dayton Dive Bombers, ended up beating their first round opponent, the Harlem Globetrotters, in the first game they ever played. Owner and coach of the Harlem Globetrotters Abe Saperstein refused to shake Howie Davis’ hand, and inspired by that night, Davis launched the Harlem Wizards two decades later. The game that will be played is meant to be entertaining, not competitive. While the Wizards play basketball, they also show off their skills on the court. Their blend of sports and hilarity leave audiences amazed and entertained. “It’s all about having fun,” said Guidance Counselor Mrs. Forshaw. “They were funny. It was cool how they included the campers in the game,” said sophomore Caitlin Cordone, who saw the Wizards

play at her camp. Every game is unique, because every time the Wizards compete they play a different opponent. The Wizards play teams from elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Because they are a show team, the Wizards improvise on the court. “I’m really excited about the Wizards’ game. They seem like a really entertaining team and it will be a lot of fun to be able to play against them,” said senior Nicole DelMazio. “It sounds like a great idea, but I think they need to publicize it more,” said junior Christina Groccia. Gym doors open at 6:15 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. game. Tickets are five dollars and can be bought from a guidance counselor or any student in the Success Program.


December 2009


AP English practice exam causes controversy RACHNA MEHTA Staff Writer

On Monday December 21, every school that is a recipient of the Project Opening Doors (POD) grant is required by the contract of the grant to hold a mandatory Advanced Placement (AP) English practice test for both AP English Language and Composition and Literature and Composition students. The problem with this situation is that Monday is a full day of school, and to take the test, students must miss the first five periods of the day. To be able do this, they must receive the signatures of the teachers of the five classes they will miss on a permission slip. However, some teachers are refusing to sign the permission slip that will pull students out of their classes. This practice test is mandatory, but some teachers do not want students to miss other classes to take it. Junior AP English student Caitie McCafferty believes that the test will benefit everyone who takes it. “We should take the exam because it gives us an idea of what to expect on the actual exam,” she said.

Other students, like senior Adam Siegel, think that it is an unproductive use of time and money. “It should be an option for us. It’s unproductive to take us out of class and take a test we could have taken on a Saturday. POD’s money could be used for better things,” Siegel said. Despite their differences, both of them are required to take the exam. English teacher Mrs. Wheeler, the POD test lead teacher explains why the test is on December 21. “It’s just one morning and it’s for an excellent cause,” said Mrs. Wheeler. “We did not devise this ourselves. Every POD school is taking this exam on December 21. It is non-negotiable. I agree that it is unfair to pull students out of class, but unfortunately it is a requirement of the grant.” Ms. Herz, the head of the Foreign Language Department, does not see why teachers disagree with the situation. “Each individual teacher is only one component of a student’s education, and sometimes another teacher needs some extra time to further a student’s education. And I have no problem giving them that extra time if it means that a student will

Alana Kasindorf / Photo Editor English teacher Mr. Vandergrift teaches one of his AP English Literature and Composition classes. AP English students will to participate in a mandatory AP English practice exam on December 21. be better prepared for the future,” said Ms. Herz. However, Chemistry teacher Mrs. Dodita, along with other teachers, does not share this point of view. “It is a Monday morning and I have a double period with my AP Chemistry students. I un-


derstand that it is important for students to prepare for the English exam, but it bothers me that they have to miss my class to do it. My point is, I need those periods to teach and prepare them for the AP Chemistry exam,” she said. According to Mrs. Loesch,

the History Department almost always holds the mock AP U.S. History exams on Saturdays. The history teachers avoid taking time out of other teachers’ classes, and the exam is still conducted as it would be if it were done during the school day.



Deeds for diplomas

Should volunteering be a graduation requirement?

In Israel, all 18 year-old students are mandated by law to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for at least two or three years, depending on their sex. This program is successful because citizens are eager to perform service for their country. What are your views on implementing a similar system in the United States, where instead of military service, 100 hours of community service would be mandated by law to be performed before receiving a high school diploma?


Rebecca Savransky Supplement Editor

People have questioned the benefits of a type of system in America like that of Israel, in which every high school student would be obligated to complete a certain amount of community service hours in order to graduate. This system would result in a much more positive social atmosphere and a drastic rise in the number of students giving back to their community. It is important that one understands the many benefits there are in doing community service. If students were required to perform community service, they would not only be serving their communities, but also would gain a broader view of their surroundings

and the world. Required community service would also allow students to experience daily life outside of their school environments, which builds independence and self-reliance. “Doing community service gives students a sense of civic responsibility and community pride,” said history teacher Mr. Pereira. Being a participant in community service projects prepares students for the adult world after high school, where they will be dealing with certain responsibilities in which many people will rely on them. The commitment provides students an opportunity to pursue their interests, learn more about their strengths and weaknesses, and to practice handling trying situations as they arise. “I know from doing community

service how much you learn from the experience. I volunteered at the hospital and got to see a whole other side of things, and learn a lot about different situations that doctors have to deal with. Also, you make a lot of friends and get a sense of why it is important to help,” said junior Alex Rosetti. When Israelis serve in the IDF, they are given serious responsibilities. These responsibilities impact not only them, but the other people in their unit and country. They begin to learn that they are part of something much bigger than themselves. Throughout this experience, they begin to understand who they are, and what they are capable of doing. Every member of the IDF recognizes that they are part of something very important. This becomes a lifetime commit-

ment to their country, even though they may only serve for a short amount of time. Many people who participate in the Israeli army are required to serve as reserves after their mandated service is completed. Thus, they are further given the opportunity for additional training in their individual fields of expertise. Many find fulfillment in being part of their community, and in turn, realize career goals that they may not have known prior to serving in the army. If students were required to do community service, they too would form a commitment to their community. Students would learn the effects of their participation and would better be able to understand the benefits of this experience.

Keben Perez / Viewpoint Editor Student-volunteers create a human chain in order to move a large pile of firewood so that it can be dried for use by the Stamford Museum Nature Center (SMNC).

Viewpoint December 2009


Keben Perez / Viewpoint Editor Stamford High volunteer James Huang has some fun before preparing to move the rest of the firewood with the rest of the group that will eventually help power the SMNC. Lizzie Hart Photo Manager

to your community. Forced volunteer work is actually an oxymoron. Community service becomes like homework, and is no longer something done out of benevolence. “I think it’s pretty unfair and not necessary. Community service is meant to do something extra [to] help others, without getting anything in return. Forcing community service is just betraying the entire reason that we actually do community service,” said junior Tyler Landle. Students in the National Honor Society (NHS) must perform 25 hours of community service per semester. Senior NHS member Lexa Eliades felt that community service becomes less personal once forced to do it. There are several clubs at Westhill that perform services to our community. For example, both the Interact club and the buildOn

Are you for or against mandatory community “I would be against that. People at service for Westhill should only do community service because they want to, because they’re forced to by a graduation? not graduation requirement.” —Melissa Miles, ’13

program give students opportunities to perform community service. Being a part of these clubs gives students a chance to help the Stamford community at their own will. Another reason why volunteer work should not be a graduation requirement is because students already have a lot on their plates. “I believe that [mandatory community service] could take time away from people’s academics and activities, such as sports or clubs,” said sophomore Gerald Morgan. Overall, making a rule that requires students to carry out community service, like the mandate issued by the Israeli government, would be unsuccessful. Students would feel like they were being forced to do the service, making it so that no students would be genuinely volunteering their time, or giving back to their community out of the goodness of their hearts.

“I would support this, because this way, everyone would be encouraged to participate. The presence of community service would create a stronger Westhill community.” —Andres Parrado, ’10


While many people may support the idea of requiring community service for high school graduation, I do not. Giving back to your community is a great thing to do, but when it is forced, it becomes a chore. In the United States, some schools require students to perform a certain number of hours of community service before graduation, or every year. I would not support making community service mandatory throughout the country, just as military service is in Israel. The mandatory service is successful in Israel because it is a small country that requires a strong military because of the constant threat of attack. Israeli citizens are generally eager to help defend their country. In the United States,

this would not be a success. When forced to do anything, teenagers often automatically find the task less appealing. If students were required to perform a certain number of service hours, it would make them feel unenthusiastic about community service in general. I am inclined to think that if students associate community service with an obligation, as adults they may feel reluctant to perform such services. At Trinity Catholic High School, students are required to complete at least 25 hours of service per year, for all four years of high school, in order to be able to graduate. “I think [the requirement] takes away from the idea of people serving their community out of free will,” said Trinity junior Christina Rubino. Forcing community service undermines the spirit of giving back

“I am against this because community service would no longer be volunteer based. Also, graduation should be based on what you do in school, not out of it.” —Drew Lang, ’12 Poll conducted by Anna Schlessinger



Nailed! December 2009

A Column by Zac Krowitz

You have been NAILED Barack Obama, for your most recent outline for the future of the war in Afghanistan. This newly released plan will send 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan with a deadline to pull troops out of Afghanistan set for July 2011. There are many reasons why I am strongly against this plan. First of all, I believe that the war in Afghanistan has been a huge toll on the American people when it is clearly an unwinnable war. It appears to me that our main objectives in Afghanistan are to prevent the spread of al-Qaeda, to prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the Afghan government, and to set up a stable, democratic government in Afghanistan. The only feasible goal in this plan is to prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the government. In his speech on December 1, Obama said, “In Pakistan, that nation’s Army has gone on its largest offensive in years.” But the problem is not close to being solved in Pakistan and until this is done the goal of exterminating al Queda everywhere is impossible. So why send this many troops to Afghanistan? We have seen that setting up a stable, democratic government will be nearly impossible in Afghanistan. In the most recent “public” election, mass voting fraud was discovered, and the honesty of the new Afghan president has been questioned. So, can our real, practical goal in Afghanistan be achieved? I do not believe so. Without addressing the Pakistan issue, 30,000 troops will not make a significant change in our approach to Afghanistan and will not allow the Afghan military and government to develop further on their own. The other major issue with this plan is the July 2011 date for the troops to be taken out of Afghanistan. This makes me see Obama’s plan as a contradiction. First, we are saying that the United

States is going to commit to the Afghanistan war by sending the extra troops. Then, we are saying that we are only committed to a certain point, and that no matter what is happening at that point, we will give up and pull out. What message does this send our troops? As someone who is already against the war in Afghanistan, I am still not happy with this backwards logic. We need to make a decision about Afghanistan, and in my opinion, end the war altogether. Next, you have been NAILED national news outlets, for your recent treatment of Tiger Woods. In truth, I cannot judge the character of Tiger Woods since I do not know him personally. I cannot tell you which of the tabloids’ stories are true. However, I can tell you that the mass criticism of Tiger Woods is unnecessary and not factually based. The media has lost its credibility in this case by spreading rumors instead of printing based on fact. I defend the media in its right to pursue the truth in the Tiger Woods story, and to update the story as it unfolds. However, the media has come out in an attack against Woods not only for his actions, but also for his want to keep the affairs with his family private. In the same way that the media has the right to pursue the story, Woods has the right to keep his own matters private. I was amazed that acclaimed sports writers, such as Rick Reilly, have come out and said that they believe Woods is acting cowardly and as a bad role model by not revealing the full details of his affair. Woods has made a mistake and he will pay for it. But allow the man to take care of his family problems in his own home, out of the spotlight. Just because the man is a very successful, wealthy athlete does not mean that he should lose the same right to privacy that we all enjoy.

Andrew Newman / Photographer The French II class learns the past tense of verbs from foreign language teacher Ms. Popescu.

Advancement required in foreign language curricula Sylvia Chun Columnist

For most of the student body, taking a foreign language class is an exciting and rewarding experience. However, when you learn the same thing in these classes every year as a “review,” as I did, lessons can become tedious. Most of what is taught in foreign language classes involves going over the same vocabulary, verbs, and verb conjugations year after year. While it is understandable that it is a part of the courses’ curricula, is it really preparing us to use the language effectively? Going over the same material every year may help us remember certain information that slipped from our minds over the summer, but do we have to go over every little detail? It only makes us feel as if we are going nowhere, since the curriculum requires that we go through the same information again and again. Students only get their information from books and they are not able to fully utilize their skills in any language through exercises in the textbooks. Filling in the blanks or matching the right answers does not prepare us for a world that will require us to hold conversations in the languages we are learning. After taking French my first three years of high school, I have

been able to gain a better understanding of the language and have learned a great amount of information. However, each year, half of my French class seemed to focus on learning what we had already covered in the past year. It could have been more effective to actually converse with one another rather than having to read stories that will not prepare us to actually speak or write what we know. “As the department head, it is my pleasure to bring the students and teachers together by organizing trips that will enable the students to interact with the outside world,” said Foreign Langauge Department Head Ms. Herz. “If the state of Connecticut had the requirement that every student take a language in order to graduate, it would also make things more effective.” If the students had a chance to become better at the language by learning new material rather than concentrating on the past information, it would allow them to engage in the language more. Learning languages would also become more effective if the language department was offered technology for more hands-on projects. A teacher who wishes to remain anonymous believes that having more technology available for the students in foreign language classes would enhance the chances

of having the children truly understand the language. “They should be exposed to the culture through the use of better technology,” said the teacher. While researching information on the foreign language classes, it was brought to my attention that Mr. Forcelli’s CP Spanish classes were the only classes with the Rosetta Stone collection available to them. Rosetta Stone is a software that can be purchased to help a person better understand the language they are learning. However, the use of this software should not be restricted to the Spanish classes but should instead be provided to all languages. “The foreign language classes are not effective because it is mostly based on book work and we do not get to work on speaking the actual language,” said senior Danielle Behunick. A student’s interest or attention span can decrease when all they do is look at the book. The fact that foreign language classes are not effective in teaching us is the fault of the curricula rather than the teachers. Select teachers assign projects or certain activities to enhance the students’ understanding of the language, but many are constricted by their curriculum. When the information is constantly repeated, it just seems to drag on forever.



Please take a number December 2009

Around the World

In the United States, we have a core set of holidays that we celebrate. Breaks are scheduled into the school year, stores market products targeted towards the holidays, and practically everyone counts down the days until they are allowed to stop working and enjoy some time of nothing

but sleeping and having fun. However, while we celebrate many holidays in the United States, we often forget that there are many other different holidays not prominent in the United States. Not many people from other parts of the world know that the

Cartoon by Josh Thomas / Illustrator

A Column by Claire Mahoney

Fourth of July is one of the most celebrated holiday in the United States. Rather, most believe that Christmas is the most popular. To tell you the truth, I can see why. On Thanksgiving Day, many radio stations began to play Christmas music 24-7 and began to advertise products for Christmas

shoppers. Christmas in the United States is definitely a popular holiday and it doesn’t go unnoticed. The U.S. is essentially a “melting pot” of many different cultures, however while still extremely diverse, it does not contain all of them.

What is the most celebrated holiday in your country?

Vid Ramsak Ljubljana, Slovenia 18 years old “The most important holiday to our family is Christmas, particularly Christmas Eve. The difference from the American Christmas is that Slovenian children get their presents in the evening and not in the morning. It’s a time filled with cooking scents and Christmas songs which make the holiday special. In the evening the family gets together and has Christmas supper and opens presents. When we were younger Santa Claus brought us presents, but it is all over now.”

Tea Manduric Zagreb, Croatia 16 years old “The most celebrated holiday in Croatia is Christmas, when we go to my grandparents. At my grandparents we all have lunch all together, and we talk about old memories. Before that we usually go to church to celebrated baby Jesus. On Christmas Eve we decorate the Christmas tree and put our gifts to each other underneath it.”

Shanze Naseem Ashai Karachi, Pakistan Caitlyn Hasenfratz 9th grade, 14 years old Shanghai, China “The most celebrated holiday in Pakistan and Islam is 9th grade Eid ul Azha [This year, it was celebrated on Decem“In China it would definitely be [the] Chinese New ber 8th]. We get a week off school to celebrate it. The Year! [This will be celebrated February 14th, 2010]. background is that Abraham was to sacrifice his son On Chinese New Year’s Day and a few nights leading Devika Menon on Allah’s [God’s] command; his son also wanted to up to it, there are a lot of fireworks. There is always a please Allah and was glad to do it. But as the knife India parade in Tian An Men Square, Beijing. The soldiers was going to his son’s throat, Allah replaced him with a College Student march together and weapons are brought out to show goat. In a revelation after, Allah revealed that Abraham “India is the country of festivals. One of the most celebrated off during the parade. Adults give children little red had done well and that the thought of sacrificing his festivals in India is Diwali, or the festival of lights, [which was envelopes, decorated with lucky symbols, conveying own son was enough for Allah. So every year, Muslims on October 17th this year]. We decorate our houses with diyas, blessing and symbolizing luck and wealth, enclosed all over the world sacrifice a cow, goat, etc. for Allah. or beautiful clay lamps, and the entire family gets together and with 50 RMB (Chinese currency). We also eat ‘tang (It is done HUMANELY prior to some outside beliefs. enjoys good food. It is also the time when we welcome Goddess yuan,’ a glutinous rice ball with a sweet filling, or The animal has to be loved and cared for by the family Saraswati, (the Indian goddess of wealth) into our homes, and it dumplings. We also celebrate a zodiac animal. The so it is like losing one of their own).” is said that it is a prosperous time to start any new venture.” local schools generally have about two weeks off.” If you have any ideas that would be interesting for future “Around the World” topics, please contact Claire Mahoney at



New Perspectives

Students share their unique struggles

Elira Krasniqi

Junior Lisette Whittingham has had to overcome more adversity than the typical high school student. She suffers from a reading disability, which makes reading at a standard high school level difficult. Many students are faced with this challenge, but Lisette’s drive to overcome this obstacle is extremely impressive. Her reading difficulties have not stopped her from becoming an ambitious and productive student. Since Lisette came to Westhill, she has worked diligently to improve her reading skills. Lisette has a tutor paid for by the state, and she is tutored every day for two hours. “My mom requested a tutor for me at the government center, and [the tutoring] has helped me a lot,” she said.

When asked about Lisette’s progress so far, Special Education Department Head Ms. Cuttitta said, “Lisette has taken what’s difficult for her to do and turned it into a way to motivate herself to improve, which is rare for any high school student. Not many students can turn a negative into a positive like she does.” According to Ms. Cuttitta, as one’s reading improves, his or her self-esteem does as well. This has truly been the case for Lisette. Until recently, Lisette would not read or present reports in school, afraid that someone would make fun of her. However, Lisette is becoming more and more comfortable reading in the classroom. She is also becoming more comfortable reading at home. In the past, Lisette rarely read to her younger sister. Due to her hard work, Lisette now reads to her sister regularly.

Westhill has been providing Lisette with a lot of help throughout her three years in high school. The school provides her with both a resource class and a resource teacher, Ms. Nichols, who Lisette can talk to any time she needs help. “Ms. Nichols is phenomenal,” said Lisette. “I love her. She helps me take tests, write essays, and do anything else I need.” After she graduates, Lisette hopes to attend a dental college, where she can further her knowledge in a higher learning environment. “I never thought I would make it this far,” she said. “I am so glad that I have had the help I need to make it this far and graduate next year.” Ms. Cuttitta said, “Lisette’s work ethic is spectacular. It is possibly the best I’ve seen in my 20 years working at Westhill. I have never met a more motivated student.” JOANNA KOCZUK Copy Editor Sophomore Elira Krasniqi was five years old when she and her family were forced to flee the bloody civil war between Serbia and Kosovo, and found refuge in neighboring Albania. Nine years later, she and her family immigrated to the United States, in the hope of escaping the political uprisings that tainted their pasts and pursuing a better life. Though this is Elira’s second year at Westhill, she still faces the evident challenge of overcoming her language barrier and becoming comfortably integrated within the English-speaking community. However, Elira hardly allows her circumstances to deter her from succeeding in her classes and helping her family adjust to the fast-paced life of the suburbs. She looks favorably upon the academic programs Westhill has offered her. “When I first came to this country, I couldn’t understand a word of English,” Elira said. “However, all [the] assistance and support I receive in my classes have enabled me [to] make tremendous progress.” “My teachers are very sym-

Lisette Whittingham


pathetic and meet our individual needs. They go at a slow pace, usually a couple words at a time, to ensure that we all understand the material,” she said. Elira’s English skills allow her to assist her parents by translating documents and teaching them elementary conversation. Elira describes the atmosphere in her classes as tolerant and friendly. Even though the students in her academic classes come from everywhere, from Guatemala to Russia, they share a common bond in their burning desires to learn. “All of us are like one family; everyone is friends with everyone and [we try] to help each other out,” Elira said. Elira’s bilingual peers are not the only students who have reached out to her. Elira fondly remembers how a group of girls helped her become familiar with her schedule and the layout of the school during her first days at Westhill. “They made my first days here quite pleasant and definitely less nervewracking,” she said. Nevertheless, Elira’s language barrier does pose some frustrating obstacles. Until her English further improves, she’s unable to fully participate in Westhill’s extracurricular activities and social functions.

Moreover, the sheltered nature of her classes prevents her from being exposed to other classroom environments and meeting new people. “It’s sometimes difficult for me to converse with students and make friends outside of my classes, but hopefully with time, I’ll be more confident and become [more] involved,” she said. Outside of school, Elira has many interests. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends playing volleyball, making crafts, reading, shopping, and watching TV. Elira hopes that Westhill’s ESL and Sheltered English programs will prepare her for university, where she wants to major in theater and foreign languages. When asked how the ESL programs could be improved, Elira said, “Reviewing grammar and sentence structure gets boring, so I would like to read more novel fragments and watch more movies. That would really help my pronunciation.” Elira does not view her language barrier as a misfortune, but rather as a motivation for her to accomplish her goal of mastering the English language and creating a brighter future for herself in the United States.

Feature December 2009


However, none of these barriers deter Evan from dreaming big. He hopes to join JROTC next year, and since age six he has aspired to be either a police officer or airliner pilot. Both professions require physical dexterity, but Evan is optimistic. “I love flying...I’ll just see how it works out,” he said. In our interview, Evan seemed comfortable and casual discussing his prosthesis. According to Evan, most of his peers “are cool with it.” While there have been a few teachers who thought he was making up excuses not to write in class, most have been sensitive and helpful, often giving him copies of class notes so he doesn’t have to write them. Westhill has also been accommodating. Evan’s guidance counselor, Ms. Forshaw, told him about a computer program called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which converts speech into keyed text. Evan is hoping that the school will provide him with the software, which would greatly ease his participation in trips to the media center or computer lab. To Evan, a prosthetic forearm is not a reminder of any disadvantages or bad luck. He said, “I’ve always liked it, [and] all my friends have always liked it. It’s a hook, it’s awesome.” With an outlook like that, one day, Evan will surely climb far beyond the monkey bars.

Leisha Logan

SAM LAGASSE Copy Manager

All Photos by Stacey Rupolo / Manging Editor

In the past, Westhill facilities have been placed under careful scrutiny to determine their accessibily for students with physical disabilities. Sophomore Leisha Logan is certainly one of the few students who understands the importance of such an examination. Leisha was born with a condition known as Spina Bifida, which affects the lower body and renders an individual unable to carry his or her own weight. She is a physically challenged and relies on a wheelchair for mobility. From day to day, Logan faces the many challenges which accompany her use of a wheelchair. Of these challenges, Logan is most affected by the obstacles of accessibility. When asked whether or not Westhill accomodates and is wellequipped for students with similar conditions, Leisha said, “For the most part, I would say that the school is well equipped. I think that some improvements could be

Evan Brace

As a child, freshman Evan Brace couldn’t swing on the monkey bars. His right arm cuts off shortly below the elbow, and even using his prosthesis, such an activity would have been impossible. But Evan rarely thinks in terms of what he can’t do. He laughed as he explained to me the alternate way he used to enjoy the monkey bars—by climbing on top of them. From my interview with Evan, I could already see that he constantly uses this positive attitude, sense of humor, and resourcefulness to make the most of a condition that might cripple others. Evan was born with no right forearm; he said the doctors think that this was due to the way his umbilical cord was wrapped around his body. He was fitted for his first prosthesis at age four and has worn one ever since. “It’d be hard to hold things [without it],” he said. Evan controls the prosthesis with the help of a wire that runs up his arm and connects to a strap behind his shoulder. When he moves his shoulder, thereby moving the strap, Brace can make the hook at the end of the prosthesis open in order to move or pick up objects. After years of practice, Evan uses the prosthesis skillfully; he

can even catch a tennis ball with it. He also likes to play football and “can actually catch [the football] pretty well.” However, even the prosthesis cannot help Evan overcome certain challenges. For starters, he’ll often set off the metal detector at airports. When he turns 16, driving a stick shift will be difficult. And when using the computer, Evan must type laboriously with just one hand. Furthermore, in gym class, simply doing pushups can be dangerous—the prosthesis tends to slip and could cause Evan to fall on its hook. Wearing his prosthesis can also lead to some unexpected scenarios. While in middle school at Scofield, Evan once attempted the popular practice of touching the top of the doorpost while passing underneath it; it went smoothly until his prosthesis got stuck. Another similar experience occured one day at Westhill, when Evan’s prosthesis caught on to another student’s book bag in the hallway. In situations like these, Evan often won’t realize what is happening until he feels the rest of his body being tugged along by the hook. But Evan’s main everyday struggle comes from his handedness—he is right handed without a right hand. Evan has learned to write with his left hand, but it’s not easy. He said, “[My handwriting is] really messy and I’m a slow writer.


made in order to improve accessibility in certain buildings.” Leisha went on to describe the specifications of her ideal learning space. Most of her envisioned improvements are for the Raynor building. “It would be very helpful if an elevator was installed in the Raynor building. An elevator would make getting around much easier because I wouldn’t have to go into the Finch building every time I needed to get to the second floor,” she said. In the event of a fire, Leisha would be required to wait inside of the building until firefighters came to get her if she happened to be on the second floor. Leisha also mentioned the possibily of adding a ramp for each of the staircases that are scattered throughout the first floor of the Raynor building. Though Leisha states that she has never had any major issue while using a wheelchair in school, there is always the concern of navigation. Westhill students are well aware of how difficult it can be to

get from one class to another, even when moving around by foot. “It is a challenge to navigate at times, but the kids are good about it. They move out of the way if they see me coming.” If Leisha were to encounter a problem while in the hallways, she could always count on Ms. Cortese to come to her aid. Ms. Cortese, Leisha’s Educational Assistant, makes sure that Leisha arrives safely and on-time to each of her classes. Ms. Cortese is also responsible for seating Leisha in the cafeteria and getting her lunch. Furthermore, she arrives at Leisha’s classrom five minutes prior to the end of every period and then helps her transition to her next class. Overall, Leisha is pleased with the efforts made by both the staff and students in order to meet her everyday needs. She applauds the school-provided lift van service that transports her to school and home each day. She said, “Westhill is definitely on the right track towards making its community more accessible for students with unique needs.”


Feature December 2009

Outward Bound expedition free to students ANNIE COHEN News Editor

It was dark and I was carrying about 40 pounds on my back. I hadn’t showered in almost two weeks, yet I was having the time of my life. I was able to experience this when I was on last year’s Outward Bound Connecticut Youth Leadership Corps expedition. Outward Bound is a non-profit educational organization that teaches students wilderness skills and gives a new perspective on life from living in the outdoors. Youth Leadership Corps is a program that is part of Outward Bound. The Youth Leadership Corps is a meritbased scholarship award that allows about 20 Fairfield County sophomores and juniors to participate in this 16-day course. This year, the trip is taking place from June 26 to July 11. The trip will include backpacking, canoeing, and rock-climbing on the Appalachian Trail and Delaware Water Gap. According to its website, Outward Bound looks for students who show outstanding leadership qualities in their academic, social, and athletic lives. Students who apply should be comfortable work-

ing in a team atmosphere. No prior wilderness experience is needed; you will learn everything you need to know on course. All participants of the Youth Leadership Corps receive a full scholarship (equivalent to about $3,000) and only have to pay a $100 application fee. The fee will be refunded if the student is not accepted into the program. Applicants are required to fill out an application, write an essay describing why they want to be a part of the program, obtain three letters of recommendation from non-family members, attend an interview, and pay the $100 fee. All components of the application are due no later than February 1, 2010. While many people do not know about the program, those who do are eager to apply. “[I am interested in applying] because I love the outdoors. Being with other people in the wilderness, learning skills that I could use for the rest of my life is an opportunity I do not want to miss,” said sophomore Aaron Katz. Outward Bound participants do gain many wilderness skills. For example, as a result of my Outward Bound trip, I can now successfully

Photo Courtesy of Annie Cohen / News Editor Last year, students from all over Fairfield County embarked on a 16-day trip organized by Outward Bound. This year, students are offered the same oppourtunity and can apply to attend the trip. set up a tent, cook dinner outside, and tie up my food so that bears and racoons cannot get to it. “Outward Bound was physically and mentally demanding but very rewarding. The challenges we overcame, like a 25-mile canoe trip [and] a 13 mile hike, definitely gave us a sense of accomplishment and were also very fun. The experience was phenomenal and is something

that we will remember for the rest of our lives,” said junior Zach Phillipson, who also went on the Outward Bound trip last summer. Living in the woods for two weeks may seem strange, especially in our technology-filled lives. However, being in the wilderness allows for a freedom that is rare—freedom from our blaring cell phones, iPods, and everyday stresses. On my

course, I learned to appreciate hard work and the feeling you get lying in your sleeping bag after pushing yourself further than you ever thought possible. For more information about Outward Bound, and how you can apply, see your guidance counselor or contact the Outward Bound coordinator Karen Hommer at

The Fashion Insiders A Column by Sylvia Chun and Katie Mandel

Sophomore Benjamin Coyman is dressed in a casual but stylish outfit that is perfect for the cold weather season. Put on a pair of loose fitting or skinny denim of any wash or color to match the flannel shirt you will wear on top. Flannel shirts have continued to be a major trend for both boys and girls this season and are available in a multitude of colors that will be sure to match something in your closet. Complete this classic outfit with your favorite pair of sneakers. Accessorize with a down vest in the winter.

Junior Alex Duggan is wearing a slightly dressier but timeless outfit. With a pair of dark denim and a blazer, you have two basic pieces to put together any classic outfit. Wear a t-shirt, like Duggan, or put on a button down to dress up a bit. On a cold winter day, you can even layer with a sweater. Be casual in a pair of moccasins or switch it up with a pair of flats or boots. Accessorize with simple earrings and a flashy necklace.

Senior Omar Dejesus is wearing an outfit that is both suitable for winter and complete with stylish pieces of the season. Dejesus’s jeans can be interchanged with khakis and his lightweight jacket can be worn throughout the day while still providing adequate warmth. Wear a sweater underneath in case you want to take the jacket off. Cover your feet with a pair of soft, comfortable moccasins and accessorize with a patterned scarf to stay warm despite the low temperatures.

Sophomore Emily Chevalier wears a simple, stylish outfit that is suitable for the cold weather. Put on a pair of skinny jeans of any wash or color and match them with a jacket that makes a statement. Printed colorful jackets are great pieces to add to your wardrobe to make any simple outfit stand out. You can wear the jacket closed, like Chevalier, or open with a basic t-shirt or lightweight sweater underneath. Add a necklace for something extra. Complete your outfit with a pair of flats or boots to match the colors in your outfit.  

17 Bike versus bus Feature December 2009

Miller takes unique morning commute

time I want. On the other hand, I have ridden in bad weather before and it does suck, especially on While many students take the cold, rainy days. [On rainy days,] I bus or beg their parents for a car to [either] come to school soaked or I drive, junior Kaloy Miller takes an have to wake up earlier to take the alternative mode of transportation­ bus. And I cannot [always] ride my to school—his bike. The Westword bike to school during hockey [seasat down with Kaloy to learn about son] when I have a practice directly his unique commute. after school or right before school The Westword: How long have starts because I live in North Stamyou been riding to school? ford and practice is in the Cove. Kaloy Miller: It has been about TW: How long does it take you to two months since I started biking bike to school? to school. KM: Six minutes—four without TW: What is the best and worst the [traffic] light. part about biking to school? TW: Why did you decide to ride KM: The best part is geting home to school? earlier and [being able to take] a KM: I guess I decided when the nap for a longer period of time. bus started to come earlier and I The worst part is dealing with the felt too lazy to get up in the morncold and the wet conditions. If ing. I like to get to school a little your body is soaked, you have to early [but] the bus gets to school deal with being wet for the entire too early. school day. And some people can TW: Where do you put your bike be mean and throw things at my during the day? Would it be helpful bike while I am riding. Traffic up to have a bike rack? the hill can [also] be hectic, and I KM: I have a good spot in the band have to deal with high school driv- room; it’s safe because only a few ers and parents. I do get ridiculed people go into the place where it is sometimes by people. It is bad that stored. The band kids, fortunately, people make fun of me but [I’m respect it. And I really would not doing] something that I love. be affected if there was a bike rack. TW: Will you ride your bike in the I am the only person who rides a winter or if there is bad weather? bike to school so the school should KM: I have not decided whether to not waste its money on a bike rack do it or not. One reason I ride my for me. bike to school is because I can still TW: Did your decision to start ridkeep my own schedule, such as ing have anything to do with “gogetting home faster than the buses ing green”? and being able to leave school any- KM: The idea of going green has SUZANNE COHEN Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Victoria Vitanza The Christmas tree at Rockafeller Center illuminates Fifth Avenue.

Big Apple Bite A Column by DannyTehrani

Christmas in New York City is a dream; the entire island is set ablaze with festive lights and the streets are filled with people. When the first snow falls, Manhattan seems even cozier, blanketed in winter white as silence engulfs the active city. Christmas in New York is magic, and all of its spellbinding charm is centered on Fifth Avenue A visit to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (600 Fifth Ave) is a must, while a skate on the ice-rink is particularly charming. In addition, a walk along Fifth Avenue is always enchanting; the window displays are legendary, as each illustrates the character of the store to entice pedestrians. Mirroring its tongue-in-cheek, near-tacky aesthetic, Juicy Couture’s holiday window (650 Fifth Avenue) is a circus, complete with a bearded lady and a mannequin tied to a spinning wheel with knives thrown at her. As the highest of the high end retailers, Bergdorf Goodman’s (754 Fifth Ave) boasts a window display that exemplifies its style; mannequins are outfitted in couture and set in lavish surroundings. As always, each window is a breathtaking piece of art, yet this year each display came with a subtle nod to Alice in Wonderland, perhaps in anticipation of Tim Burton’s upcoming film version of the classic fairytale. Bergdorf Goodman isn’t the

only establishment on Fifth Avenue celebrating Tim Burton; the Museum of Modern Art (11 W 53rd St) is currently running an exhibition of the dark visionary’s masterpieces. In the whimsical yet eerie exhibit, one enters through the mouth of a monster to view drawings, paintings and diaramas that inspired many of the filmmaker’s most iconic movies. To my delight, my AP Art History class visited the exhibit on December 4. My friends and I, great fans of Burton, were excited beyond belief as we “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed at sketches from the icon’s youth and actual props used in his films. The exhibit was timed perfectly, as seeing art from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” filled us with (an albeit twisted) holiday cheer. Much of the holidays’ charm lies in childhood memories; while the Tim Burton exhibit illustrated the holidays’ darker aspects, a trip to FAO Schwarz on 767 Fifth Ave is much like Christmas morning times 1,000. The gigantic store is every child’s dream; it has giant stuffed animals, a candy store, a talking tree, and enough toys to make a toddler foam at the mouth. Whether you like to keep your holidays classic or even a little creepy, Fifth Avenue has all the ingredients for a perfect winterwonderland.

very little to do with my decision to ride my bike. If I did not like to ride my bike to school every day, then I wouldn’t, but since I like it and it is a lot of fun, I do it. TW: Have you tried any other unique modes of transportation to get to school? KM: On very rare occasions when I cannot take my bike up to school, in case of a flat tire or bike-related incident, I take the bus to school and rollerblade back home. I used my rollerblades to get to school once at 5:30 a.m. for a [field] trip. TW: Would you like to encourage other kids to follow your lead? KM: Actually, I really do not recommend this for everyone. [Only] people who actually can deal with the cold and have a safe spot to put their bike without someone doing a damage to it [should bike to school]. TW: Do you bike other places besides school? KM: I do bike to other places. Just two weeks ago, I biked from my house, which is near Westhill, to Cove and Cummings [Parks]. On half days, I deal with the traffic and get Garden Catering for my brother and me. I take rides up into North Stamford. This might sound cheesy but a bike does make you free in a way. You can go anywhere with it. It [has few] restrictions. While cars need gas to go places, bikes are operated by the willpower of the individual on it. Without this freedom, bikes would not be enjoyable.

Claire Mahoney / Feature Editor Junior Kaloy Miller takes an alternative way of transportation to school. Most school days, Miller can be seen riding his bike to school.


Las Noticias

Un apoyo para inmigrantes

Organización ayuda a familias a integrarse a la cultura americana ANDREA LOPEZ Editora de Las Noticias

Las Noticias tuvo el placer de entrevistar a Lucas Romero, miembro de CRISOL (Coalición de Residentes y Inmigrantes en Solidaridad). CRISOL es una organización en Stamford que defiende los derechos de los inmigrantes. Con el apoyo de otras organizaciones el grupo ofrece talleres y eventos para los jornaleros. Las Noticias: ¿Cuál es el significado de la siglas de la palabra CRISOL? Lucas Romero: Coalición de Residentes y Inmigrantes en Solidaridad. LN: ¿Cómo y cuándo empezó CRISOL? ¿Por qué? LR: Empezó el 21 de febrero de 2008. Hubo una conferencia a favor de los derechos del inmigrante donde se habló de la necesidad de una reforma migratoria en New Haven y las personas de Stamford que asistieron decidieron que era necesario formar un grupo de apoyo para las familias inmigrantes. LN: ¿Cuál es su misión? LR: Asistir a las familias inmigrantes en la adaptación e integración a la nueva cultura preser-

vando la propia. LN: ¿Quiénes son los miembros de la junta directiva? LR: Beatrice Chodosh, Ana Maria Badash, Carlos Mavila, Ana Cecilia Rodríguez, Lucas Romero y Manuel Rodríguez. LN: ¿Han trabajado con otras organizaciones aquí en Stamford? LR: Sí, The Stamford Partnership Inc., El Comité de Damas Hispanas del Condado de Fairfield, Peruanos Unidos y Quetzal. LN: ¿Trabajan sólo para la comunidad de Stamford o ayudan a otras comunidades? LR: Por ahora nos estamos enfocando en la comunidad de Stamford. LN: ¿Cuántas veces a la semana se reúnen? LR: La asamblea general se reúne una vez por mes. Los comités de Educación, Desarrollo Institucional, Trabajo con los Jornaleros y el de Cultura y Educación,  una o dos veces al mes. LN: ¿Qué hacen para adaptar a los jornaleros a la cultura americana? LR: Les ofrecemos talleres donde se presentan temas orientados a conocer las normas y expectativas de esta sociedad. LN: ¿Qué eventos han hecho en el

Alba Vega-Ruano / Editora de Las Noticias Jornaleros esperan a empleadores para que los recojan. pasado? ¿Qué hicieron especialmente para el Día de Acción de Gracias? LR: Presentamos en el teatro Avon la película pro-inmigrante “La Americana.” También la presenta-

Foto por Lucas Romero Los miembros de CRISOL posan para una foto. CRISOL es una organización que sirve a la communidad de inmigrantes.

mos en la biblioteca Ferguson y en Norwalk Community College, lo mismo que la película “Hecho en L.A.” presentada en la biblioteca Ferguson.  Elaboramos “business cards” para los jornaleros con el objeto de presentar una imagen más profesional frente a los patrones y darles la posibilidad de que el patrón se comunique con ellos en el futuro.  Presentamos talleres tales como: “Prevención del VIH,” “Derechos Laborales de los Jornaleros,” “¿Qué es la Depresión?”, “Los Efectos Nocivos del Alcohol.”  El próximo taller será: “Seguridad y Salud en el Lugar de Trabajo.”  Ofrecimos un desayuno festivo a los jornaleros con música y distribución de abrigos junto con la organización Comité de Damas Hispanas para el Día de Acción de Gracias. El Grupo Para Padres Nuevos Inmigrantes ha estado ofreciendo pláticas tales como “Las Oportunidades Educativas para la Juventud Hispana.” También hemos ofrecido un Taller de Liderazgo dirigido a los líderes de la comunidad titulado: “Primera Jornada Preparatoria Para el Encuentro Latino 2010.”  LN: ¿En qué proyecto está trabajando CRISOL actualmente?

LR: Estamos organizando un Concurso de Talentos (mayormente cantantes talentosos de la comunidad) que se realizara en marzo de 2010 en NCC. Comenzaremos a organizar la segunda “Jornada Preparatoria Para El Encuentro 2010” en colaboración con otras organizaciones. LN: ¿Qué ayuda recibe CRISOL de parte de la ciudad u otras organizaciones? LR: The Stamford Partnership nos apoya en lo que nos vamos formalizando como “organización sin fines de lucro.” LN: ¿Cómo ve usted a CRISOL de aquí a diez años? LR: Trabajando con mayor amplitud en un centro comunitario sirviendo a la comunidad de inmigrantes en los diferentes aspectos de su vida. LN: Ya que estamos en víspera de Navidad, ¿tienen algo especial planeado para los jornaleros? LR: El 19 de diciembre ofreceremos otro desayuno en conjunto con la agrupación Quetzal donde habrá comida típica guatemalteca (la mayoría de los jornaleros proceden de Guatemala) y vendrá un grupo musical a deleitarlos con música típica.

Las Noticias Deciembre 2009


Nueva publicación en Fairfield County Vida Social informa a nuestra comunidad

Keben Perez Editor de Viewpoint

La vida social se refiere a una parte importante de nuestro mundo y se trata de la interacción con otros individuos. La revista Vida Social demuestra las diferentes interacciones que existen en la sociedad hispana. Según el editorial escrito por Tamara Guevara, editora de Vida Social, la revista es “más que una revista, constituye una manera diferente de hacer periodismo. [La revista] busca hacer de sus páginas una plataforma de apoyo y tribuna de expresión para nuestra comunidad.” Tamara Guevara es la persona que fundó la revista. Según ella, decidió crear Vida Social porque quería formar una conexión entre los acontecimientos que ocurren en el condado de Fairfield y la comunidad hispana. Ella quiere que la revista sea una publicación educativa y que ofrezca noticias de buena calidad. De acuerdo a lo expresado por Tamara Guevara, la revista es realizada principalmente por cuatro personas. Estas personas son Tamara Guevara, editora, Anghel Vega, diseñador, Carolina Osorio, escritora columnista y John Con-

nor, fotógrafo. Cada mes, estas personas hacen una agenda para planear la revista. Vida Social es una revista que sale cada mes y hasta hoy, se han publicado cinco ediciones. En cada edición se imprimen 10.000 copias. En la edición de noviembre/ diciembre de Vida Social, entrevistaron a tres personas que tienen una influencia grande en la comunidad hispana. La primera persona fue Ceci Maher, directora ejecutiva de Person-to-Person, quien expreso que la organización es “… una agencia comunitaria auspiciada por una fuerza de voluntarios que a través de bienes y talentos compartidos responden a nuestros vecinos que carecen de necesidades básicas y recursos para mejorar sus vidas.” La revista contiene entrevistas con el superintendente de las escuelas públicas de Stamford Dr. Joshua Starr y con Héctor López, “un hombre… cuya historia familiar y su pasión por los derechos humanos y por las causas ambientales son su mayor motivación para pasar de las palabras a remangarse la camisa, tomar acción y hacer una diferencia en el mundo… Héctor es miembro del Partido Verde, el cual es un partido

político independiente el cual lucha por los derechos civiles, los derechos humanos y los derechos nacionales de otros países…” Otro aspecto muy importante de la revista es que los artículos son escritos en inglés y español. Esto ayuda a los hispanos que están aprendiendo el inglés porque utilizan los artículos para mejorar su aprendizaje. Además, Vida Social se está usando en algunas escuelas en Connecticut. Según la señora Supple, hija de Tamara Guevara y consejera de la escuela Westhill High, también la escuela Greenwich High está utilizando la revista como una herramienta en sus clases de español. En general, a través de toda la información que contiene la revista y de la forma como está escrita, los lectores pueden aprender mucho de su comunidad, crear una conexión con ella, y aprender inglés y español. Judy Juarez, una estudiante del grado once, dijo, “Yo creo que la revista es un buen medio para que mis padres y yo estemos informados de lo que está ocurriendo en la comunidad. La revista es especialmente interesante para mis padres, cuyo segundo idioma es el inglés.”

Alba Vega-Ruano / Editora de Las Noticias La señora Supple, hija de la editora deVida Social Tamara Guevara, muestra la revista a David Mejia, un estudiante del grado doce.

Estudiantes recuerdan sus tradiciones navideñas Jennifer Guevara Reportera

Muchos países latinoamericanos tienen maneras diferentes de celebrar la Navidad, incluyendo la comunidad de Westhill. En México, la tradición de celebrar la Navidad se mantiene viva cada año. Allí, la celebración empieza el 16 de diciembre. Una de las actividades más importantes son Las Posadas, en la cual los celebrantes se reúnen en casa y le cantan al Niño Dios. Muchos mexicanos también asisten a los Pastorales de los tres reyes y del ángel. Al contrario de la creencia en Santa Claus, muchos niños mexicanos creen en el Niño Dios el cual les trae regalos. Las familias mexicanas asisten a la misa de media noche el día 24 de Nochebuena. En Perú, la Navidad también se celebra el 24 de diciembre, en No-

che Buena. Las tradiciones de Perú son muy similares a las de los Estados Unidos. En primer lugar, las familias Peruanas se reúnen con familiares para cenar con pavo y Panettone (pastel de pan). Los niños creen en Santa Claus y abren los

milia y mantenernos informados de todo lo que hemos hecho. También es un día para juegos, como el bingo que se juega para ganar dinero,” dijo Valerie Panieccia, una estudiante del grado doce. También dijo que en este día la familia cena

Cada año toda mi familia va a Misa de Gallo. Cuando regresamos, cenamos y luego abrimos los regalos. Para mi familia, las tradiciones navideñas son muy importante porque es una manera de no olvidarnos de nuestras costumbres,” dijo Marvin Monzón, un estudiante del grado doce. regalos que encuentran debajo del árbol de Navidad. Este día se parece mucho al 4 de Julio en los Estados Unidos porque también lo celebran con fuegos artificiales, aunque no sea permitido en el país. “Este día es para reunirse con la fa-

a las once de la noche, se sirve pernil, tamales, carne asada y a las doce de la mañana del siguiente día los niños abren los regalos. La actividad más fascinante en Guatemala para celebrar la Navidad es la Misa de Gallo. La misa se

celebra en honor a la leyenda del gallo que canto a media noche cuando el Niño Dios nació. “Cada año toda mi familia va a Misa de Gallo. Cuando regresamos, cenamos y luego abrimos los regalos. Para mi familia, las tradiciones navideñas son muy importante porque es una manera de no olvidarnos de nuestras costumbres,” dijo Marvin Monzón, un estudiante del grado doce. En Colombia, la Navidad empieza el 7 de diciembre cuando las familias prenden velas en honor a la Virgen María. Típicamente las familias se reúnen desde el 16 de diciembre hasta el día 24 en la noche alrededor del Nacimiento para orar y cantar villancicos en la Novena de Aguinaldos. En Nochebuena, familiares se reúnen para comer pollo, ajiaco (sopa con papas), natilla, y buñuelos. Los regalos se abren a media noche y todos se

desean una feliz Navidad. Tradicionalmente, los colombianos creían que el Niño Dios traía los regalos, pero ahora la creencia de que Santa Claus es el que trae los regalos es más común. “Nosotros celebramos la Navidad el 25 de diciembre, no el 24. Mi familia se levanta temprano en la mañana y abrimos los regalos. En la tarde salimos a repartir los demás regalos a otras familias y cenamos en casa de algunos familiares,” dijo Laura Taborda, una estudiante del grado doce. Hoy en día es muy evidente que las tradiciones de nuestros países se están quedando en el olvido. Muchas familias no celebran la navidad como la celebran en su país de origen. “Nuestras tradiciones se están perdiendo, y ahora nos hemos “americanizados” más,” dijo Andrea Zúñiga, una estudiante ecuatoriana del grado doce.


Advertisement December 2009

Supplement Westword


The best (and worst) of

The Westword polled students in order to determine what was enjoyed and despised in 2009.



Supplement December 2009



1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince has amazed its viewers, even those who never had an interest in the book series. When the movie was released, viewers flocked to watch the film, anxious to see how the plot would unfold. The suspense was due to the fact that Harry unexpectedly lost his uncle Sirius in a duel at the end of the fifth story. In Half Blood Prince what seems like an ordinary year changes when Harry mysteriously receives help from the “Half Blood Prince,” a genius at potions who helps Harry get through his potions class. The year takes an unexpected turn when Dumbledore tells Harry the key to getting rid of Voldemort is to destroy his horcruxes, or parts of his soul, that he placed in objects. “The movie followed the book and definitely lived up to my expectations,” said junior Ana Correa.

2. Transformers 2

What Westhill thought: “Transfomers 2 was really good and action packed. It was alot of fun to watch too,” said junior Douglas Graves. What the nation thought: 108,966,307 people saw Transformers 2 on its opening weekend.

3. The Proposal

What Westhill thought: “It was hilarious because it showed the extent to which people go in order to stay in this country,” said junior Jessica Solis. What the nation thought: 33,627,598 people saw The Proposal on its opening weekend.

4. Where the Wild Things Are

What Westhill thought: “The movie was a flash back to my childhood,” said senior Dan Gomez. What the nation thought: 32,695,407 people saw Where the Wild Things Are on its opening weekend.

5. The Hangover

What Westhill thought: “The Hangover was hilariously amazing! It is a great movie to watch with your friends and the characters are loveable,” ­­said senior Marianna Makrides. What the nation thought: 44,979,319 people saw The Hangover on its opening weekend.

M 1. New Moon


New Moon, one of the most anticipated movies of this year, turned out to be a disappointment in the eyes of the student body. Not only were the majority of the actors lackluster in their performances, but the movie inadequately portrayed the majority of the events from the original book. In New Moon, Bella Swan, the main character, is dumped by her vampire lover Edward Cullen. During her post breakup depression, Bella is comforted by the soon to be werewolf, Jacob Black. New Moon follows Bella as she tries to keep her demons at bay, ending with Bella going on an adventure to save Edward’s life. Most students agree that this movie was regrettably terrible.


2. Paranormal Activity


What Westhill thought: “I thought that Paranormal Activity was like The Blair Witch Project except with ghosts,” said junior John Hoo. What the nation thought: 61,580,588 people saw Paranormal Activity on its opening weekend.

3. 2012

What Westhill thought: “Once I saw 2012, I thought it would actually happen!” said freshman Tsani Rhodes. What the nation thought: 65,237,614 people saw 2012 on its opening weekend.

4. Drag Me to Hell

What Westhill thought: “The effects were poorly done, which just made the movie boring,” said freshman Sara Patricelli. What the nation thought: 15,825,480 people saw Drag Me to Hell on its opening weekend.

5. Star Trek

What Westhill thought: “The plot was pointless. It made me want to fall asleep,” said junior Henry Bareiss. What the nation thought: 79,204,289 people saw Star Trek on its opening weekend.

Anika Advani and Claire Mahoney / Page Editors Photos courtesy of and Statistics according to

1. Glee

2. The Office

Glee, the new hit show on the Fox Network, has sung its way into the hearts of over seven million viewers since its release in November. The show centers around a high school in Ohio where 12 stereotypical teenagers join together to form a quirky and offbeat glee club. Led by Spanish teacher Mr. Schuester, the club battles against the vicious terrors of high school, as members deal with issues such as teen pregnancy, love triangles, their sexual orientations, and the basic issue of fitting in. The show’s appeal stems from its relatability, as each character possesses quirks and qualities that audience members can relate to. “Glee is interesting. It inspires me to start our own Westhill glee club,” said junior Jake Levensohn.

Supplement December 2009

What Westhill thought: “It is so funny. It is definitely the best show on television,” said junior Zach Eisen What the nation thought: About 8.074 million viewers tune into The Office each week.

3. Jersey Shore

What Westhill thought: “This show is so entertaining. It is very stereotypical, but it’s the funniest thing I have ever seen,” said sophomore Ysadora Lira. What the nation thought: About 2.1 million viewers tune into Jersey Shore each week.

4. Gossip Girl

What Westhill thought: “I like the actors in Gossip Girl and it’s funny to watch. It’s so overdramatic, I love it,” said junior Julie Cebo. What the nation thought: About 3.5 million viewers tune into Gossip Girl each week.

5. House

What Westhill thought: “House is interesting with all of the different twists and turns that occur. It is one of the best shows on FOX,” said junior Raymond Mastoloni. What the nation thought: About 2.9 million viewers tune into House each week.

TV Shows

1. Hannah Montana

Disney channel’s hit show Hannah Montana follows the predictable and somewhat cheesy life of Miley Stewart, a so-called “normal girl” who happens to double as popstar Hannah Montana. The show’s lame plot lines follow Miley’s unrealistic life as she deals with teenage problems such as money and relationship issues. The show is intended to be a comedy, but it is very rare that a funny joke is actually made. Although elementary schoolers might be amused by Miley’s constant jokes about her Tennessee pasttimes, it’s hard for teenagers to appreciate this immature humor. Disney’s attempts to make the show relatable to high schoolers are weak at best and render the show a mediocre depiction of high school life. “[The show’s leading actress, Miley Cyrus] is supposed to be a role model for kids, but instead she’s doing the opposite. Montana’s also a terrible singer,” said junior Elianne Estevez.

2. 90210

What Westhill thought: “I just don’t think 90210 is satisfying. I only saw it a handful of times [and] then [I] stopped watching it,” said junior Erin Downey. What the nation thought: About 4.91 million viewers tune into 90210 each week.

3. The Real World

What Westhill thought: “[The Real World] is just a stupid way for people to have their wild and crazy sides exposed. Then they get upset and embarassed in the end,” said junior Tajhanique Copeland. What the nation thought: About 8.1 million viewers tune into The Real World each week.

4. Heroes

What Westhill thought: “It was kind of disgusting and didn’t really appeal to me or the kind of show I like,” said freshman Hunter Farrell. What the nation thought: About 13.1 million viewers tune into Heroes each week.

5. Secret Life of the American Teenager

What Westhill thought: “I think Secret Life of the American Teenager is kind of hypocritical and unrealistic. It doesn’t always send out a great message,” said sophomore Megan Gray. What the nation thought: About 2.6 million viewers tune into Secret Life of the American Teenager each week.


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Alex Lewis / Associate Editor Photos Courtesy of storage/post-images Statistics according to and



Supplement December 2009




1. High-waisted skirts Since high-waisted skirts can range from formal to casual, the trend proved to be very popular this year. “High waisted skirts are sophisticated but casual at the same time. They are best paired with a loose top tucked in and flats,” said junior Annabelle Uy. These skirts are typically paired with a tucked-in shirt and leggings or tights. High waisted skirts can be found in a variety of materials such as satin, corduroy, or cotton.

2. Boyfriend jeans

“Boyfriend jeans are very loose and comfortable to wear. You also don’t have to squeeze yourself into a pair of tight jeans [when you wear them].” —Alissa Barbier, ’11

3. Pleather leggings

“Pleather leggings aren’t for everyone. If you have the right body and style to pull it off then I say go for it.” —Lauren Sass, ’10

4. Cropped tops

“I like cropped tops because they’re a new style for 2009 that you can accessorize with a belt and they put a twist on the everyday outfit.” —Regan Downey, ’11

5. Blazers

“I like blazers. They add an edgy twist to the classic outfit of jeans and a tee.” —Caitie McCafferty, ’11


1. V-neck Shirts

The versatlility of V-neck shirts has made them a must -have for any wardrobe this year. Since V-necks can be found in varying materials, styles, and colors, boys can choose whatever version of the shirt they feel will make the best statement for their look. Plus, they are extremely comfortable and will match with virtually anything. “V-necks are a great buy for anyone. You can wear them just for the trendy look or if you dont like the traditional crew neck collar,” said junior John Hoo.

2. High top Nike sneakers “For guys, high tops are always in style regardless of [the] season, with the right outfit of course.” —Will Cook, ’11

3. Skinny jeans

“I really like to wear skinny jeans because they are comfortable and fashionable.” —Alex Siebert, ’12

4. Blazers

“I like blazers because they are sophisticated, make you look older, and can fit in with almost any style.” —Doug Graves, ’11

5. Corduroys

“I like corduroys because they have a preppy style and [are versatile]. You can wear them with almost any style.” —Charlie Aibinder, ’12

Fashion Trends 1. Uggs 1. Sailor Shoes

Uggs have to be one of the greatest fashion mistakes made in history. Not only do they begin to smell after they are worn, but they also take on a broken in look once they get wet or have been used often. People can be seen wearing Uggs almost everyday and instead of giving off a more sophisticated edge, they give off the message, “I was tired this morning and wanted to be comfy.” The mere unattractiveness of Uggs make them one of the worst fashion trends of 2009.

2. Shoulder pads

Although the nautical theme was popular this year, students voted against sailor shoes, which are most often seen marketed by Sperry. Overall, these shoes are very inconvenient. They match with few items of clothing and give off a more mature look than most high school boys are looking to achieve. Westhill students feel that the ship-deck shoes have no place in our school’s hallways.

2. Fedoras

“Shoulder pads make women look like robots and they take away from femininity.” —Minou Clark, ’10

“Fedoras are the worst. It is not the 1920’s and people who wear them today are probably unironically tools.” —Ivan Arias, ’11

“They make you look like a freak. You look like you’re ready for halloween in neon pants.” —Nicole Capocci, ’13

“Men should never wear uggs. They look much better on women.” —Jessica Brown, ’10

3. Neon colored jeans 4. Leg warmers

“Leg warmers are ugly and they should stay in the 80’s. If your legs are cold, just wear pants.” —Nicole Carrillo, ’13

5. Scarves

“I don’t understand why anyone would wear a scarf inside. It’s like wearing sunglasses inside.” —Meghan Caldwell, ’10

3. “Muggs” (Man Uggs) 4. Scarves

“I don’t like scarves because they are not masculine enough. They’re a little too girly.” —Jacob Bankoski, ’11

5. Cardigans

“Not everyone can wear cardigans. They are hard to pull off for guys.” —Andrew McNichols, ’10

Elizabeth Quartararo / Feature Editor Photos courtesy of Kelly Farrell, Anjali Khetan,,


1. Buffalo Wild Wings The popularity of Buffalo Wild Wings has been increasing at an exponential rate ever since the restaurant opened this summer in Stamford. Buffalo Wild Wings is the favorite restaurant of those who like to be daring when it comes to food. The eatery has something for everyone, offering a variety of chicken wings from mild to hot. Westhill students love this popular bar setting, and many love to challenge themselves by trying the hottest wings available. This restaurant is a thrill that should not be missed by any Stamford resident. It offers TV and a comfortable atmosphere that will guarantee a good time. “Buffalo Wild Wings is a great place to go to watch sports events. I go to watch the UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] fights,” said senior Jeffryn Olivares.

2. California Pizza Kitchen (CPK)

December 2009

What Westhill thought: “I love going to California Pizza Kitchen. I love the atmosphere and service. The food is the best. Their pasta is so good and all of their pizzas are their own signature creations,” said junior Maddie Elkins. What the nation thought: Currently, there are over 250 CPKs in the nation.

3. The Colony Grill

What Westhill thought: “Although the atmosphere [at Colony] could be nicer, the pizza makes up for it. Nowhere else around here can you find pizza like this. It’s fun to catch up with everyone there since you know that you’ll enjoy a great meal,” said senior Ashley Daniel. What the nation thought: Currently, Stamford has the nation’s only Colony Grill.

4. Garden Catering

What Westhill thought: “Garden Catering is very convenient for Westhill students because of its location and prices,” said junior Henry Bareiss. What the nation thought: Currently, there are eight Garden Caterings in the nation.

5. Cappricio’s Cafe

What Westhill thought: “I’ve always liked Capriccio’s. Their pastas are good, and they have [decent] pizzas. The only problem is that the service is very slow and there is always crowded seating,” said sophomore Sylvie Josel. What the nation thought: Currently, Stamford has the nation’s only Cappricio’s Cafe.


1. McDonald’s

Although many people enjoy McDonald’s food, everyone knows that it’s loaded with fat, sodium, and nutritionless calories. Ever since the movie Supersize Me was released in 2004, people have been more conscious of the facts that McDonald’s not only causes weight gain, but can also cause serious health threats. Besides this unsettling health concern posed by the restaurant, McDonald’s provides a very unattractive atmosphere that will have you reaching for the door once you get your food. “It’s really unhealthy and makes you feel gross. We should have better choices to eat,” said junior Rangel Polonia.

2. Cosí

What Westhill thought: “Cosí is not as good as people say it is. It’s decent, but the bread doesn’t live up to its reputation,” said junior Kelly Farrell. What the nation thought: Currently, there over 100 Cosís in the nation.

3. P. F Chang’s China Bistro

What Westhill thought: “P.F Chang’s food is tasteless. It seems uncooked and it just does not taste good,” said Janibell Monegro. What the nation thought: Currently, there are 133 P.F Chang’s in the nation.

4. Taco Bell

What Westhill thought: “Their food doesn’t taste good and seems unhealthy. Also, there have been stories in the past about people finding things like bugs in the food,” said junior Stephanie Moreta. What the nation thought: Currently, there are 5,800 Taco Bells in the nation.

5. Burger King

What Westhill thought: “The burgers are dry, the fries need more salt, and the food is just sloppy,” said sophomore Faberte Gregoire. What the nation thought: Currently, there are 12,000 Burger Kings in the nation.


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Joely Mass / Copy Editor Statistics Complied by Anika Advani / Page Editor Brian Barr / Verification manager


Supplement December 2009


1. “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga

At the peak of her fame and creativity, Lady Gaga has astounded audiences worldwide with her single, “Bad Romance.” The catchiness of the beat and meaning behind the lyrics has captivated all listeners, even if the song may only to be popular for a short amount of time. “I really like Bad Romance because it makes me want to dance, and is really entertaining,” said sophomore Emily Zecena.

What Westhill thought: “I love this song because I just love Taylor Swift. This particular song is so catchy and has good lyrics,” said junior Kelly Farrell. What the nation thought: “You Belong With Me” ranked number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.

3. “Fireflies” by Owl City

What Westhill thought: “This is a light, happy song about something so simple and common—falling asleep. Musicians don’t write about that very often,” said senior Will Strong. What the nation thought: “Fireflies” ranked number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.

4. “Down” by Jay Sean

What Westhill thought: “It says nice things about the girl [this song is written about] and has a sweet message and a good melody,” said freshman Hunter Farrell. What the nation thought: “Down” ranked number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.

5. “Replay” by Iyaz

What Westhill thought: “I like ‘Replay’ because it’s fun to dance to and I like singing to it,” said sophomore Anthony Martinez. What the nation thought: “Replay” ranked number 83 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.



2. “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift

1. “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga


Although Westhill loves Lady Gaga’s newest release “Bad Romance,” her last album has become so popular that singles like “Poker Face” have lost their impressive touch. Even though she put a great deal of effort into making The Fame lovable, Lady Gaga seems to have encouraged her fans to accept her new songs as her old ones fade from popular view. “The song ‘Poker Face’ is extremely annoying and ridiculously overplayed,” said sophomore Allie Souza.

2. “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus

What Westhill thought: “This song has no meaning. It was overplayed and just sounded horrible,” said senior Marianna Makrides. What the nation thought: “Party in the USA” ranked number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.

3. “One Time” by Justin Bieber

What Westhill thought: “All Justin Bieber songs are bad. He is so annoying and has such a high pitched voice,” said freshman Riyad Twal. What the nation thought: “One Time” ranked number 89 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.

4. “You’re a Jerk” by New Boyz

What Westhill thought: “This song is overly repetitive, and just plain annoying,” said junior John Petrini What the nation thought: “You’re a Jerk” was not ranked on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.

5. “Empire State” by Jay-Z

What Westhill thought: “‘Empire State’ is so overplayed on the radio. I am just sick of it,” said senior Mike Suchocki. What the nation thought: “Empire State” ranked number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2009.

Jon Berman / Copy Editor Photos courtesy of and

1. Friend’s house It’s Friday night, there is nothing to do, so you call a few friends, and end up where? Your best friend’s basement, of course. This timeless hangout spot is the ultimate place to go for fun and relaxation. Although the festivities may vary according to group and occasion, never underestimate the value of simply spending time at home with your friends. You have the freedom to just be yourself without any of the unnecessary pressures you might find at a public hangout spot. “I like the comfort of being in my friend’s basement. It’s really chill and enjoyable,” said senior Tyler Rich.

Supplement 2. New York City

December 2009

What Westhill thought: “I really enjoy going to the city because there are so many fun places to shop,” said freshman Christiana Provenzano. What the nation thought: New York City attracts 47 million foreign and American tourists each year.

3. The beach

What Westhill thought: “It’s a nice place because there is always something to do. You can get a tan, and play lots of sports there,” said sophomore Kassi Montenegro. What the nation thought: Over a billion of people visit the beaches of the United States each year.

4. Downtown

What Westhill thought: “There’s a lot to do downtown. It keeps me busy and I always have a good time,” said junior Vicki Calamari. What the nation thought: There are over 70 restaurants in downtown Stamford.

5. Movie theater

What Westhill thought: “If there’s nothing else going on, you can always go to the movies. There are always new movies coming out, so you will always have options,” said junior Kirsten Eriksen. What the nation thought: There are 5,928 movie theaters in the United States.

Hangout Spots 1. Mall After spending more than three hours at the Stamford Town Center you can definitely say that you have explored all the viable options for entertainment. Unless you are there to buy something specific, sitting in the pit or walking around like a mall rat hasn’t been appealing since middle school. Even if you go to the mall with a friend, rushing in and out of dressing rooms will kill any conversation and loitering around store fronts only entices you to spend money you may not have. “The mall is a bad place to hang out because it’s unsafe and there are always a lot of conflicts going on there.” said junior Aulona Velaj.

2. Westhill

What Westhill thought: “There isn’t much to do after school. All the rooms are closed, and the only thing to do is stand there with your friends,” said senior Steph Domond. What the nation thought: There are currently 91,957 high schools in the United States.

3. Your own house

What Westhill thought: “I don’t like staying at my house because it is a really boring place to be. There is never anything to do at my house,” said junior Luis Oliva. What the nation thought: There are about 111,162,259 households in the United States.

4. Ice skating rink

What Westhill thought: “Its cold and your options for entertainment are limited. For example, I once tried to rollerblade inside the rink and they wouldn’t let me,” said senior Martha Masiarz. What the nation thought: There are 3,000 skating rinks in the United States.

5. Library

What Westhill thought: “You can’t hangout with books; you can’t talk, eat, or gossip with [books], unless you’re reading a magazine,” said junior Lindsey Morgulis. What the nation thought: There are 122,356 libraries of all kinds in the United States today.


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Stacey Rupolo / Managing Editor Statistics complied by Anika advani / Page Editor Lizzie Viggiano / Photographer, Laura Eber / Head Illustartor, Marissa Friedman / Express Editor


Supplement December 2009

Top ten things to look forward to in 2010 Chicken Now comes to Stamford

Chicken Now will soon be added to the Stamford Town Center food court. This restaurant is known for its fresh ingredients and made-to-order chicken fingers. Chicken Now also offers a series of sandwiches, wraps, salads, and quesadillas. “I am really excited to go to this new place. It will probably be a big hit,” said sophomore Jethro Baliao.

Destiny’s Child returns

The beloved singing group from the ’90s, Destiny’s Child, intends to reunite and release its first album since 2004. “I think that they’ll be a big hit again. I’m excited for more of their great melodies,” said sophomore Cassandra Kish.

Mitsubishi’s iMiev

Mitsubishi has released a prototype for its innovative electric vehicle. It should be introduced to the United States in 2010, taking a step in a positive direction towards environmental conservation. “That sounds like a very intuitive advancement for the United States, and maybe it will slow down Middle East tension because it will make us less oil dependent,” said sophomore Zach Kaplove.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, the seventh film in the series, is expected to be released in late 2010. J.K. Rowling’s seventh book is being split into two films, so it will be a bittersweet ending for Potter fans. They won’t have to face the end of the series just yet, but will be left in suspense. “I’m so excited for the seventh movie because Harry Potter is my life,” said sophomore Sarah Hartless.

The World Cup

As the world’s most popular sport, soccer attracts many fans from across the globe with its largest sporting event, the World Cup. The event will take place from June 11 to July 11, 2010. This competition only occurs every four years and will be an event watched across the globe. “I’m really excited the World Cup is coming in 2010. The U.S got a good draw, but they also have to play England, which should be an exciting game,” said sophomore Nicole Eriksen.


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The color turquoise

Turquoise has been declared the color of the year for 2010 according to Pantone, the “world reknown authority on color.” The mixture of blue and green is meant to remind its viewer of a calming comforting escape. When it comes to fashion, turquoise is flattering on most skin tones, especially those with a darker shade. “Turquoise is a great color. It reminds me of the prettiest ocean water,” said junior Vicki Calamari.

The New Blink 182 album

According to an interview with Blink 182, their first album since 2003 is scheduled to be recorded in early 2010. For long time fans, this will be an exciting addition to the band’s reunion tour. “Blink 182 used to rule the music industry, and I’m excited for their new album,” said junior Alex Rossetti.

“Halo: Reach”

A new Halo video game is coming out in fall of 2010. This game is categorized as a “first person shooter” game in which the player is given the experience they would have if they were actually holding the weapon, and taking part in the action. “I think that a New Halo would be awesome. I am definitely going to buy it when it comes out,” said sophomore Tucker Jepson.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

The recently popular Twilight series, based off of Stephenie Meyer’s fictional novel series, is returning again with its third movie. Based on reactions to the recently released New Moon, this is sure to be a success. “I’m very exciting for Eclipse because the book was amazing. I can’t wait to see how the movie comes out,” said sophomore Adriana Pascarella.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton’s newest creation, is scheduled to be released on March 5, 2010. The movie should meet all expectations with its well-known cast, including Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway. In addition to its release in regular theaters, the film will be released in Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D. It is an interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the LookingGlass. “I’m so excited to see this movie when it comes out. It was one of my favorites growing up, and I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan,” said junior Amanda Barkin.


Illustration by Laura Eber / Head Illustrator Photo Montage by Lizzie Hart / Photo Manager



Stageside Perspective

Photos Courtesy of Scott Drynan

The Westword interviewed Westhill senior Bene Cordaro, Trinity senior Ryan Naso, and Stamford High junior Sean Ormond who played the leads in the Stamford All-School musical, Fiddler on the Roof. Cordaro played the role of Golde, Naso played Tevya, and Ormond played Motel. Kelly Farrell Staff Writer

Alana Kasindorf Photo Editor

Brian Barr Verification Manager

The Westword: What is it like working with actors from other schools? Bene Cordaro: It’s awesome that I get to work with kids that I would probably never cross paths with otherwise. Through the All-School musical, I’ve made some really good friends from other high schools. I get to be a role model for the elementary and middle school kids who love theater as much I do, which is a great feeling.

The Westword: What is it like working with actors from other schools? Ryan Naso: It has surprisingly changed my understanding of acting. I’ve only recently come to realize the importance of chemistry amongst actors. If two actors aren’t familiar with each other on stage their scenes lack a certain depth. This was often the case during rehearsals because no one really knew me. However, as the play progressed I befriended the cast [and now], our scenes have been able to deliver more emotional power.

The Westword: What is it like working with actors from other schools? Sean Ormond: Personally, I like it much more because you get to see talent from other schools. You get to experience different backgrounds and see how the drama club is run at other schools. I think it’s a good way to [make the show better] by using great talent and more people who care. It’s not every day you get to do a show with [people from other schools].

TW: How long have you been involved with theater? BC: I’ve been acting since I was nine years old. I got to be in Fiddler on the Roof Junior when I attended Westover Elementary School. Conincidentally I was Golde then too. I had so much fun pretending to be a middleaged woman [in that production] that I started acting at Curtain Call [a theater-production company]. Since then I’ve performed in over 20 shows. TW: Why are you passionate about theater? BC: [My interest] probably has to do with the fact that my mother played showtunes constantly for me and my brother when we were kids. I’ve been enamored with performing [ever since] I was little and I can’t imagine doing anything else. TW: How has Fiddler on the Roof affected your experience and views on theater? BC: It was incredibly challenging to portray a middle-aged Jewish woman with five daughters who is forced to leave her home. Needless to say [this role is] kind of a stretch for a 17-year-old. Being in this show has helped me grow so much as a performer because I’ve had to sympathize with someone who is in a situation that I have never remotely experienced.

TW: Why are you passionate about theater? RN: I am passionate about it for a simple reason: it is blatanty different from reality. In everyday life, people often can’t express themselves and people can’t properly display the raw power of how they feel at any given moment. On the stage, any character can fully express himself or herself through powerful speeches, fast-paced dances, and heart wrenching ballads. Most people can relate their lives to songs rather than to the lives of people they see everyday. I always thought that the “exaggeration” of emotion displays this energy perfectly and to me that is beautiful. TW: How long have you been involved in theater? RN: I’ve only been involved in acting and theater for two years. I got into it because of my friends. A few of them asked me to do Grease at Trinity. TW: How has Fiddler on the Roof affected your experiences and views on theater? RN: It’s introduced me to standard styles of acting and singing opposed to the contemporary styles I’ve always done. It’s been a really cool social experience.

TW: How long have you been involved in theater? SO: I did my first show when I was six years old and I continued until I was about nine, when I stopped. When I was little, I didn’t take it seriously since I didn’t know what I was doing. But once I reached middle school I started taking acting more seriously.

TW: Why are you passionate about theater? SO: I do on average seven shows a year, so I would say I’m passionate about theater. I started doing shows because I was interested in singing for musicals. In time, I progressively got more interested in acting. Basically, I like acting because you don’t have to worry about school or anything else. You can go on stage and act out a whole different life and throw your life away for the time. I enjoy doing that.

TW: How has Fiddler on the Roof affected your experiences and views on theater? SO: Since I am one of the leads in the show I got to see how other leads work. They know their stuff, and they know what they’re doing in advance. In my drama club at Stamford High, not too many people are [prepared] like that. This affected me because I get to see how much preparation can help someone’s overall performance. Also, I’d say director Andy Knapp has affected me more then any other person in my theater community, world, and mind. He really knows how to make me do my stuff. I feel that him and I have a good connection since I really respect him and I feel that he respects me in a way that no other director has.


Limelight December 2009

Sound Off A Column by John Hoo and Ivan Arias

1. Merriweather Post Pavillion / Animal Collective

Photo Courtesy of In Armored, Iraq veteran Ty Hackett gets involved in a heist that endangers his life. Although it had an interesting plot, this new action packed film was slightly predictable.

Armored fails to impress Jon Berman Copy Editor

One of the first films that hit theaters this December was Armored, directed by Nimrod Antal. Antal shows that crime does not pay in this predictable yet entertaining heist film. Armored follows Ty Hackett, an Iraq veteran turned armored transport officer. Both of Hackett’s parents are dead, leaving him to raise his younger brother, Jimmy, by himself. Hackett faces foreclosure notices from the bank and threats from child services to force Jimmy into a foster home. In an effort to help Hackett pay off his mortgage and keep custody of his brother, Hackett’s coworker, Mike Cochrane, hatches a plan. Cochrane suggests that Hackett and the rest of his coworkers hijack their own truck, steal the $42 million that they are to transport the next day, stash it in an abandoned warehouse, and split the money among the six members of the group. This sounds like a fairly dubious plan and the robbery soon takes a wrong turn once an innocent person is shot and killed. The resulting story is predictably dynamic and makes the attempt at a plot twist uncaptivating.

Similar to the movie Reservoir Dogs, Armored involves a highstakes heist, a protagonist whose motives differ from his cohorts, and a large body count. However, Antal makes the story his own by using a single location for the majority of the film, making the story line easy to follow. Antal also brought in a famous cast, including Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne and a guest appearance by Milo Ventimiglia. Freshman Carolyn Armas said, “The acting was actually alright. I didn’t have high expectations for the film to begin with, but [the actors] did pretty well.” Students seem to have found the film fairly entertaining. “I thought that Armored was a good movie. I really felt a connection with Ty because of the struggles he had to face,” said sophomore Victor Tamayo. Although Armored has its flaws, Antal delivers this movie effectively, providing the audience with an interesting moral conflict. The plot is predictable, and you may leave the theater feeling that Antal could have done much more. Even though, Armored stole the spotlight for a while, it set the bar squarely at midpoint for other movies in the December holiday season.

Best Albums of 2009

This is it. Everything great about Animal Collective has finally been brought together into one near-perfect album. The experimental nature of the band’s early releases fused with the pop sensibilities of later albums give Animal Collective a truly original sound which has been ripped off by countless bands. Lead single “My Girls” is also possibly one of the greatest songs ever written, making Merriweather Post Pavillion a truly incredible music accomplishment for 2009. Merriweather Post Pavilion ranked number 13 on the weekly Billboard Hot 200.

2. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix / Phoenix

Phoenix has finally hit it big with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Although the severely underrated French band has been around for about 10 years, it finally reached a mass audience with singles like “1901” and “Lisztomania.” Music that is this catchy, intriguing, and all-around fun to listen to did not go unnoticed this year. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix ranked number five on the best albums of 2009, according to TIME magazine.

3. Veckatimest / Grizzly Bear

One of the more hyped releases of the year can also be considered one of the best. Veckatimest is Grizzly Bear’s masterpiece. Following 2006’s Yellow House, the band’s warmly received sophomore album, Veckatimest sounds just right and always manages to be exciting, even though the songs never reach beyond mid-tempo. Although the layered melodies, gorgeous vocal harmonies, and tight rhythm section might comes off as boring to some, if given the chance, Veckatimest will surely blow your mind. Veckatimest was ranked number eight on the weekly Billboard Hot 200.

4. Manners / Passion Pit 6

Manners is an infectious, sincere take on danceable rock music brought to you by Michael Angelakos and company. Manners is deceptively consistent with the rest of Passion Pit’s repertoire. If you like one Passion Pit album you’ll probably like them all, which means you should give Manners a listen. Although Manners was ranked number 51 on the weekly Billboard Hot 200, its unique sound and popularity within the Westhill community makes it a definite favorite this year.

5. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II / Raekwon

Four years after the original Cuban Linx, Raekwon has made a powerful comeback. Cuban Linx Pt. II features guest appearances from all remaining members of Wu-Tang Clan, except U-God. The musical chemistry between Raekwon and fellow Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah is immediately apparent from the cover and within the music as well. Their rhymes bounce perfectly off each other to form a sound that is rewarding for the listener. Simply put, the four year wait was worth it, as Cuban Linx Pt. II was the best hip-hop album of the year. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II peaked at number four on the weekly Billboard Hot 200.

Photos Courtesy of,,, galleyboy.comlib., and

31 Lagasse organizes Poetry Slam Limelight December 2009

Katie Costello Staff Writer

Sophomore Sam Lagasse is planning a Poetry Slam for the end of January. Acording to Lagasse, slam poetry is a “performance based type of poetry, written on an issue or firsthand experience where you can express your feelings. You are ‘slamming’ the issue.” In other words, slam poetry is a way to express one’s feelings or opinions on an issue that is at the forefront of one’s mind in a powerful and constructive way. “The core purpose of slam poetry is listening,” said Ms. Ginsburg, English teacher and advisor for the slam poetry contest. The initial planning meetings for this event began in late November. Lagasse never had the intention of starting a poetry club, but wanted to create a forum for the expression of this particular art form. He has opened this opportunity to anyone and everyone who wishes to tell his or her story. “Since there is not a huge focus on written arts at school, I wanted to [introduce one] in a non-traditional way,” said Lagasse. Through flyers, announcements, and word of mouth, Lagasse hopes to provide a new type

of entertainment to the community of Westhill by providing a look into the lives of classmates through a performance and competition-based event. Until a date for the poetry slam is set, Lagasse will be organizing workshops and trial performances to prepare for the actual occasion. Workshops for student poetry are scheduled for December 17 and January 7 and will be held in Ms. Ginsburg’s room afterschool. The workshops are designed to get students excited and thoroughly prepared for the event. A committee of students provides progressive input and helps raise awareness for this unique poetic event. “I became involved with the slam because I love to write. It should be a success because it lets students express their thoughts,” said sophomore Tessa Grebey. “This poetry slam is designed to help the Westhill community get involved with their peers who have similar interests. Hopefully, it will inspire students to grow closer, bond with one another, create new friendships, and share their interest in this type of expressive poetry.” said Lagasse. Sophomore Seamus Ronan said “Absolutely, [I would attend this event] I think it’s great that

Stacey Rupolo / Managing Editor Sam Lagasse and English teacher Ms. Ginsburg contemplate ideas for the Poetry Slam, which is scheduled for late January or early February. someone put more focus on poetry at our school. I know some friends in the group and I am curious to see the outcome.” The artistic talent at Westhill can certainly expand and develop with Lagasse’s forum on

the roster. Students interested in organizing or performing in the Poetry Slam can contribute their thoughts through the Facebook group titled “Westhill High School Slam Po-

etry Contest” and email ideas or questions to slampoetrywhs@ “Poetry is my passion and I hope to expose others to this exciting and different form of it,” said Lagasse.

Talent Show preview

Below are three acts that will be featured in the Westhill Talent Show, which will be held on Friday, December 18 in the Main Auditorium.

Erin Stanton / Managing Editor

Seniors Ginger MacDougall, Michelle Feghali, Alana Kasindorf, and Catie Matheny practice their performance of the “Jingle Bell Rock” skit from Mean Girls.

Photo Courtesy of Ivan Arias

Junior Ivan Arias, and seniors Will Hart, Cody DeFalco, and Dylan Levitt practice performing for the talent show. Their band, “Independent Style Band,” features influences from mathrock and punk.

Greg Cinque / Photo Editor

Junior Glorie Lottner practices singing “Home,” from Beauty and the Beast. Lottner also sings opera in her own time. Compiled by Amanda Barkin / Photographer


Limelight December 2009

Exciting events for the holiday season Check out this calendar for ideas of fun and original things to do throughout the winter. Tim Burton at the MoMA

Taking inspiration from popular culture, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City is featuring the art of movie maker Tim Burton. This exhibit explores the full range of his creative work, tracing his visual imagination from early childhood drawings through his later work in film.

The UConn Stamford Art Gallery

Teen Night at the MoMA

Every Friday from 4-8 p.m., come enjoy a free pizza dinner and a movie showing at the MoMA. While you are there you can enjoy some fun and interesting art. All you need is your student ID.

Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular

Mariah Carey Concerts

Go over to University of Connecticut (UConn) Stamford on Washington Boulevard to see the second annual Juried Photo Show, featuring over 42 different artists. The show will be on display until December 29.

This holiday season through December 30, experience the exhilaration and wonder of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City starring the world-famous Radio City Rockettes.

Don’t miss this playful musical, which is bursting with the energy of the city and the magic of a wonderland. This seasonal feature will be showing through January 3.

The New York City Ballet will be continuing its annual showing of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker through January 3. This show will be performed at the David H. Koch Theater in the Lincoln Center.

Cirque du Soliel’s Wintuk

The Nutcracker

Banana Shpeel

Cirque du Soleil’s newest production is a contemporary twist on Vauldeville theater. Classic theater is infused with modern flair to produce a truly unique show. Banana Shpeel is playing all winter long at the Beacon Theater in New York City.

Go see one of the most successful female recording artists of all time perform at Madison Square Garden on December 31 with special guest Trey Songz.

Lady Gaga

Don’t miss pop sensation Lady Gaga when she brings her “Monster Ball” to the stage of Radio City Music Hall. Special guests Kid Cudi and Jason Derulo will join Lady Gaga in her performances on January 20-24.

Information Compiled by Kim Blasnik/ Online Creative Director Laura Eber/ Head Illustrator

Jepsen starts Film Club Danny Tehrani Express Editor Film’s importance to American society is undeniable. Hollywood’s Golden Age set the standard for movie-making and influenced areas beyond film, such as celebrity and pop culture, fashion, and beauty. In fact, movies have helped spread American culture around the world. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Westhill has a club dedicated to the silver screen. Sophomore Tucker Jepsen has taken the initiative to bring back Westhill’s film club under the guidance of English teacher Mr. Vandergrift. The idea to start up the film club again came to Jepsen around the end of last year. Jepsen was inspired by movie projects he completed for classes. Since his middle school did not provide

equipment or mentors for a film program, he decided to make one himself. “When I asked around, many kids said that [a film club] would be a great idea, so I decided to see what I could put together,” said Jepsen. His eventual goal for film

“When I asked around, many kids said that [a film club] would be a great idea, so I decided to see what I could put together,” said Jepsen.

club is “to produce independent films. There are many different things around Westhill that we can make movies about, whether it is stuff going [on] around school or our own ideas,” he said.

“There are many regional film festivals that we could enter. The first project I would like to do is basically a music video of the Westhill Drumline,” said Jepsen. “There are are only two members so far but we’re trying to get a few more. We’re planning a few projects right now,” said Mr. Vandergrift. Jepsen hopes to gain more participants throughout the year. For those interested in joining the club, you can learn how to video tape, edit, light, and write or direct films. To get involved, attend one of Film Club’s weekly meetings on Tuesdays in room 405. “Movies are a great way to portray people’s feelings and entertain them as well,” said Jepsen. Movie-making combines art and enjoyment, making it a prominent form of expression that should not go unappreciated by the student body.


maxene mulford - toll free: 1866 UUESSAY - -


December 2009



Create the art, Share The Vision, Live The dream. Submit to

Myla D’Avanzo, ‘11

Nicole Taylor, ’10

From Da Vinci to Dada All too often I find myself admiring art that is nothing more than beige stripes on white paper. This art, usually deemed “modern,” is what I like to call “excessively pompous sketchings.” I heard someone use the saying, “The emperor has no clothes” in reference to modern art. This quote, inspired by the children’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” sums up many aspects of modern art. Two parts snobbery and one part child-like splatters, I have no interest in such paintings.

a Column by Josh Daube

I find that this art is better suited for self-righteous aging hipsters and not for serious fans of art. So when I heard that the “In Search of the Vernacular,” an exhibit at the Aicon Gallery (www. located at 35 Great Jones Street in New York City, displayed “post independence and revival art,” I was rather cautious. This art was created when South Asia gained independence from colonial European powers. I only had a few precious hours in New York, and I did not want to

be roped into some conversation about how this green line represents the evils of mainstream culture by those trendy fedora toting, self-proclaimed deities. Thankfully, what I found in the Aicon Gallery exhibit was rather interesting and devoid of such madness. Almost all of the featured artists were of Indian heritage and presented some interesting paintings. What I found most intriguing was the mix of traditional subject matter with western techniques of setting work on canvas. Many of

the paintings were of the organic or natural world, which generally means that the artist will be more of a realist painter. However, these artists drew on this traditional subject matter in a multitude of unconventional ways. Cubism, Art Deco, and Abstraction were some of the more common influences seen in these paintings. I couldn’t stop myself from exhibiting my excitement about what I saw despite the many disapproving glares shot at me from around the gallery. All too often artists limit themselves to standardized, overused techniques. Even more common, artists overcompensate for their obvious use of such ideas and end up being too experimental. While it might fuel the hipster’s ego, it does not make for lasting art. I feel this gallery achieves the equilibrium between these two extremes. The artists strayed from the status quo by drawing traditional scenes in funky, diverse ways.

Alexandra Pollio, ’10

They stuck to their culture’s traditional art values however by using earthy colors such as grays, greens, and browns and creating detailed paintings. The more abstract artists did tend to gravitate to brighter colors which, when used minimally, transformed a field of flowers into eye-popping fireworks. All of the art in the gallery was done in good taste and the artists never sacrificed artistic quality for “meaning.” However, all of these elements added to the embedded message. Cows were used all throughout the gallery to represent “the sacred,” and sometimes to represent India itself. I credit this sort of meaning as more legitimate than phony counter-parts seen in other less substantial works. Finding galleries like this one is a pretty rare occurrence, but often yields plenty of rewarding results. The artists hit the nail on the head, creating artwork that played perfectly to my personal taste.


December 2009

Artist of the Month


John Petrini

Junior John Petrini has excelled on the tennis court since he began playing the sport at age seven years old and has been awarded MVP of the Westhill boys tennis team for the past two years. The Westword decided to meet up with John and learn more about his life beyond the tennis court and his love and appreciation for art. The Westword: What type of media do you use to express yourself? John Petrini: The media I mainly use is pencil. I draw everything from still lifes to graffiti. I choose to use pencil mostly to shade and create a more 3-D effect to my drawings. Once in a while I like to use color to emphasize a certain part of the illustration I want people to notice. TW: How did you first become interested in art? JP: I first got into art around third or fourth grade when I first started taking art classes. My parents were the ones who encouraged me to keep going with it and see how good I could actually get. Art was one of my favorite subjects growing up. Although it is something that came easily to me, I still strived to get better at it while I was growing up. TW: Which artists or art forms have influenced your person-

al style? JP: Many types of well known paintings and artists influence my own drawings. A couple of my favorite modern artists are Andrew Zephyr and John Fekner because of the way they choose to [reproduce] famous paintings with a new age style. An older artist I really look up to is Leonardo da Vinci, mainly because of his wide variety of art and the realism he uses in every picture and painting he makes. But ultimately, I am influenced by all types of paintings, drawings, pictures, even tattoos. It doesn’t take much for me to get inspired and want to draw. TW: How is your art unique? JP: My artwork varies in style probably because of the experience I have in drawing so many different things. I think my artwork is unique because of all the shading I incorporate in each one of my drawings, no matter how different the subjects might be. I can draw graffiti one day and a portrait the next, both with the same shading techniques. Practicing new types of drawing styles is something that keeps me interested and motivated to learn more about all the different styles of art. TW: Is art included in your future plans? JP: Currently my future plan involving art is to possibly major in some-

thing involving art in college. Art is a big part of my life so considering it as a career is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. TW: Are there any artistic accomplishments that you are particularly proud of? JP: The artistic accomplisments I am most proud of are the art shows my drawings were featured in over the years. When I was in middle school my teacher would always choose my painting or sculpture to be featured in art shows and art galleries throughout our school, so that kept me motivated to keep drawing and take my artwork to the next level. TW: How does your experience as an accomplished tennis player affect your art? JP: Both art and tennis are two very big parts of my life, so naturally they would influence each other. Drawing and tennis are ways for me to escape my problems and focus on doing one thing perfectly. The discipline I learn on the court helps me concentrate that much more on my drawings, allowing me to focus on the details. TW: Is there a quote that you feel exemplifies your art? JP:“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” by Leonardo Da Vinci

Interview conducted by Sylvia Chun / Staff Writer

Special Report:



The origin of swine flu

Skyler Ross News Editor

The H1N1 virus is a continuation of a virus that has affected mankind for almost a century. The global pandemic that has people squirming has a long, complex history. Surprisingly, it is not a new virus. Rather, the H1N1 virus, unofficially refered to as “swine flu,” dates back to 1918, when the Spanish flu killed 50 million people worldwide. The Spanish flu, part of the H1N1 subgroup of influenza viruses, is an ancestor of most modern-day flu viruses, including the seasonal flu and the current form of swine flu. According to The History of Swine Flu Outbreaks by Rosemary Bachelor, a writer for General Medicine, the Spanish influenza was a form of the avian (bird) flu, which infected humans

and pigs. These infections have ocurred throughout history when a form of flu, normally endemic to one species, infects another. This leads to genetic recombination and the development of new virus strains. According to the timeline on, the H1N1 virus outbreak first occurred in March 2009, when a several dozen cases of a rare new virus were confirmed. While these cases were only found in North America, specifically in Mexico and the United States, it is impossible to state where the virus initially originated. Later, genetic research done on this influenza strain revealed that the virus had been circulating in humans for several months, according to “We could have been better prepared to fight the swine flu if we had known more about its origins,” said freshman Gabrielle Frieser.

According to The History of Swine Flu Outbreaks on suite101. com, however, a similar virus to the H1N1 virus has been infecting pigs in the United States since 1999. Currently, the United States does not have a system to monitor the presence of disease in pigs. This allows for the spread and mutation of diseases, including the current H1N1 virus.

The scientific name of swine flu is the H1N1 Influenza virus. This name refers to the surface proteins of the virus. The H1 protein comes from its ancestor swine viruses, while the N1 comes from human and avian flu viruses. Since March, the swine flu has infected all six habitable continents and every state in the United States. According to the Centers for

Scientists predict that this virus infecting pigs was transmitted to those who work with them. Since the virus originated with pigs, it was termed “swine flu.” While H1N1 does come from pigs and pigs are the hosts, it cannot be contracted by eating pork products.

Disease Control and Prevention, 43 states, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are reporting widespread influenza activity, with seven states (including Puerto Rico) reporting regional swine flu epidemics. The District of Columbia has only had localized cases.

The H1N1 virus, unofficially referred to as “swine flu,” dates back to 1918, when the Spanish flu killed 50 million people worldwide.

142 countries have been affected by H1N1 71 confirmed cases of H1N1 at Westhill

The World Health Organization currently considers H1N1 a pandemic, or an infectious disease that affects human populations across large regions. According to newscientist. com, on October 24, President Barack Obama declared a national state of emergency, which permits hospitals to speed flu treatment by allowing them to require less information from their patients. The State of Emergency also exempts hospitals from certain regulations that could financially inhibt them, such as the regulation that treatment tents cannot be more than 250 yards from the hospital doors. This status allows all hospitals much needed flexibility in treating this pandemic. Though no one knows where the swine flu came from, experts are saying it’s here to stay.

47 million confirmed cases of H1N1 in the US 3,727 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Connecticut

37 Stamford suffers through swine Special Report: H1N1 Virus December 2009


The H1N1 virus epidemic has infected a total of 132 residents in Stamford from April 1 through December 15, 2009. There have been several confirmed cases of swine flu in Westhill since the start of the school year, and some students and teachers are becoming increasingly nervous as the peak of the flu season approaches. The City of Stamford, in agreement with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has begun offering vaccinations for the H1N1 influenza at no cost at the Government Center and the Tully Health Center. The Stamford Public School System, under the advisement of Center for Disease Control (CDC), has not enacted preemptive dismissals so far this school year because there are not enough ill students or teachers. There is still the possibility of a reactive dismissal


if enough people become infected. This would attempt to limit the number of swine flu cases that might further develop. According to the CDC, in elementary schools, children are more prone to contract the influenza virus, especially if they have preexisting conditions such as neurodevelopmental problems or asthma. Students in the middle schools and high schools have a lower chance of becoming infected with the influenza virus, although they are still advised to receive vaccinations. Children with confirmed cases of swine flu are advised to stay home or to seek medical attention because of the increased risk of infecting other students or teachers. “This is the same strain of virus that was around in 1918; that is why our parents are, for the most part, immune to this disease. Our children, however, need to be vaccinated twice,” said Lynn Galga-

no, the Public Health Nurse who is responsible for administering vaccinations at the Stamford Government Center. Younger children are advised to receive two vaccinations, each about one month apart, to ensure their safety. There are two types of vaccines available for distribution. The first one is the live, attenuated nasal spray. Although the virus is living, parts have been removed so that a person cannot contract the disease by receiving the vaccination. This vaccine is for healthy individuals between the ages of two and 49. The second vaccine is the inactivated flu shot. This is intended for infants under the age of two, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity. I think the hype over the amount of cases of the H1N1 virus in Stamford is exaggerated. If you get enough rest, exercise, and practice good hygiene, you have a

Ways To Prevent Contracting

Swine Flu

3 Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

1 Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.

4 Drink water.

2 Don’t touch your eyes or face with your hands.

5 Be physically active. Compiled by Annie Cohen / News Editor, Photos by Elissa Miolene

Greg Cinque / Photo Editor H1N1 vaccinations are being offered at the Government Center and at the Tully Health Center. greater chance of staying healthy this flu season. “[Teachers] try to keep information on the down low when it is our right to know that the pandemic is going through our school and putting many people in danger,”

said junior Mike Gentile. It is unclear whether many students share this view, but what is certain is that the flu season is not yet complete, and it is probable that the swine flu may be around for some time.


and administrators coming down with the virus? NJ: There were a couple of teachers who have had it but I don’t know of any administrators who had it. TW: Do you think the Purell machines have helped and will continue to prevent the spread of the swine flu? NJ: Absolutely, as long as the kids [continue to] use them. TW: Does Purell actually help stop the spread of germs? NJ: Purell is okay. It keeps your hands temporarily clean, but you should never use it as an alternative to washing your hands. TW: In the long run, do you think that the virus will live up to the public hype? NJ: [Yes, because] it’s much more contagious than it is fatal compared to the regular flu. TW: Do you think that the virus will die down, or do you think it will mutate and become a bigger threat? NJ: Its definitely dying down now. On the week of November 23, we sent 20 kids home. The next week, so far, we’ve [only] sent two home.

Interview with Nurse Jean

The appearance of the H1N1 virus sent the student body into a frenzy late last school year. However, many students this semester have come down with the virus themselves. The virus seems to be on a decline now, but The Westword sat down with Westhill’s Nurse Jean on December 1 to get to the bottom of this feared disease. The Westword: When was the first case of swine flu diagnosed at Westhill? Nurse Jean: The first case was confirmed on November 2. TW: When did the virus become rampant? NJ: It started around the 4, 5 and 6 [of November], then calmed down, then peaked again on the 16 and 17. It’s actually been on the down swing ever since. This week its been just about non existent. TW: How many students at Westhill have had confirmed cases of swine flu? NJ: In total, there are 71 students who have had [swine flu]. TW: Have you heard of teachers


Special Report: H1N1 Virus December 2009

I had swine...but now I’m fine A personal account of an H1N1 case Kara Lewis Copy Manager The winter season is known to be synonymous with the cold and flu season, but this year it’s hard not to notice the unusually high amount of empty seats in every class. With all the hype going around, one can’t help but wonder, “Is it swine?” Swine flu, known medically as 2009 H1N1, is a new strain of the influenza virus. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the virus, which started infecting people in April 2009, may be indentified by a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Although there has been some level of speculation going around about the severity of H1N1 ever since it was declared a pandemic on June

11, 2009, the symptoms can range from mild to severe. In all actuality, it’s not much worse than what we normally refer to as “the flu.” According to the CDC, about 36,000 people per year die in the United States due to flu-related complications and over 200,000 sick people are

hospitalized for flu-related causes. Of those hospitalized, 20,000 are children younger than five years old, and 90 percent of deaths and 60 percent of hospitalization occur in people older than 65. The reason that there is so much hype surrounding the H1N1 virus is

Elissa Miolene /

because more people under the age of 25 are being infected by the virus. However, in terms of severity, swine flu is not much worse than the regular seasonal influenza virus. And, being a victim of swine flu, I can attest to this fact. The weekend of my birthday, September 20, I began to feel under the weather. I stayed in bed most of the weekend with a sore throat, congested chest, body aches, and a general run-down feeling. Basically, I felt like I had the flu. When I developed a high fever, my parents brought me to the doctor, which is rare in my family, since my parents generally lean toward natural and homeopathic healing techniques. After describing my symptoms, my doctor performed a diagnostic test, and within 30 minutes I was diagnosed with H1N1. He assured me not to worry Photo Editor and explained that swine flu

is really not all that different from the reuglar seasonal influenza. He recommended that I rest and drink a lot of fluids until the virus ran its course. Antiviral drugs are available as a treatment option for H1N1, but in mild cases like mine, they were not at all necessary. I missed two days of school (in addition to spending the entire weekend in bed), but all in all, the experience of having swine flu was pretty much uneventful. I recommend taking normal precautions (such as washing your hands often with soap and warm water) to prevent yourself from contracting or spreading the virus (or any illness for that matter), but no one should be paranoid about getting swine. In all honesty, it’s not that bad. For more information about the H1N1 virus and its prevention and treatment, visit the CDC website:

Teachers find ways to deal with H1N1 KATIE BEAULEAU Columnist

With the H1N1 virus sweeping through the halls of Westhill, it’s impossible not to notice the vast amount of students absent from school. When you have swine flu, the symptoms remain for one week after the virus’ onset. This causes students who have the virus to miss many days of school. While out sick, the students miss lectures, tests, and assignment, leaving many to wonder how teachers deal with the immense amount of absences. The majority of teachers have been lenient towards students who were out sick by allowing them a generous amount of time to catch up on their missed work. “If [the students] were out for three days, they are allowed three days after their return to turn in the assignments. For however many days they were out, that’s how long they have to make up the work. After that, it will not be accepted,” said math teacher Ms.

Burns on her personal policy on make-up work. However, there are stricter teachers who expect the work to be completed by the next day, leaving many students pressed for time. Generally, teachers expect a note from home concerning any absences, while more strict teachers require a doctor’s note in order for assignments to be made up for full credit. Large amounts of lessons are taught in one week, so missing out on them leaves students lost in their classes. Many teachers have helped their students recover from all these missed lessons, and accommodated those who desired to learn what they have missed. Some teachers have even taken class time to reteach what the absent students missed. However, this method may be unfair to those who already learned the material. A popular way for students to catch up is by going to teachers after school, where they can ask questions and learn the material

Jenn Osher / Photographer A student receives work from a teacher after missing several days of school due to having the flu. without worrying about bothering the other students. Many teachers are willing to inconvenience themselves by staying afterschool in order to get their pupils back on track. Missed tests, quizzes, and exams are being dealt with as well. Allowing the absent students to

make up the tests during class might set them back even further, but many teachers still chose to test them during class. Other teachers force their students to make time in their schedules to complete these exams. Typically, students can take the test

after school or during their free periods. The majority of faculty ask them to take the missed exam the day after their return, despite how long they were gone. Whether students are out for three days or three weeks, they have to make up all the work they missed.



A fun yet informative reflection of the Westhill student body

Have a wallet-happy holiday

danielle sChwartz Staff Writer Custom art print skins for iPods and iPhones: Imagine a picture of you and your friend on the back of your friend’s phone or iPod touch. This inexpensive and unique idea is a great choice for your tech-savvy pals. or to find out how to make these personalized technology skins. You might even be tempted to pick one up for yourself. Relaxation gift basket: With all the stress of school and work, friends and parents need time to just sit back and relax, so

In this time of economic hardship, stores across the nation will be holding sales during the holiday season in order to make a profit. This sudden decrease in prices allows for students to get their favorite gifts without emptying their pockets. As junior Elizabeth Mohen said, “Now I can get great deals without worrying too much about what I spend.” Below, we’ve outlined some different gift ideas to fit everyone’s taste and budget.

0 2 $ o t 0 $1

$5 or less lindsey simon Staff Writer

Mixed CDs: Mixed CDs are a great gift because they can be personalized with meaningful songs for whomever is receiving them. Make a CD for your parent, sibling, or friend. Picture frames: Take a plain frame and decorate it with stickers, glitter, and quotes to make it unique and attractive. Slip in a picture of yourself and the person you are giving the frame to. This will add a personal touch to the gift. Friendship bracelets:

why not put together a basket of relaxation products? This basket could include bath salts, a cute pillow, a magazine, body lotions, and anything you think that person would need to be stress-free. A cap from their favorite sports team: Guys and girls love their sports teams and show their support by wearing the team’s cap. There are great hats at very low prices online and even in some stores. It’s a great gift for any fan. Treat them to a movie: Treat your friend, parents, or sibling to a movie. There are many great movies coming out this time of year, from teen flicks like The Lovely Bones to family friendly features such as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Of course, let the other person choose the movie. Remember, the popcorn is on you.

$5 to $10 danielle sChwartz Staff Writer

Coffee Travel Mug: Often, students wake up so early in the morning that they don’t have time to drink their coffee at home. Why not get a friend a great travel mug for the holidays? This is a perfect gift for a friend, sibling, or parent. Purchase one at any local coffee shop. Scarf: It’s winter, and it’s getting chilly outside. A scarf is easy to find and is a great gift for you to get all of your friends. Get them in different colors and patterns and give them to your

Make a friendship bracelet using your friend’s favorite colors. Appropriate for both boys and girls, a bracelet shows your friend that you put effort into making a present that he or she can wear every day. Baked goods: Baked goods can warm anyone’s heart for the holidays. Make holiday-themed treats such as gingerbread cookies, tree-shaped cookies, or brownies with red and green sprinkles. Slideshow: Make an online scrapbook for you and your friends to watch and enjoy together. Put pictures, songs, and videos onto slides to make a PowerPoint presentation that your friend can enjoy long after the holidays are over. Go or to make an online slideshow you can share with your friends that they will never forget.

entire group of mates. Personalized Calendar: This is a great gift to get that special someone. Collect pictures of the two of you together and choose a picture for each season. It’s an inexpensive gift considering how thoughtful it is, especially with the new year around the corner. You can order a calendar at or at Metal water bottles: Trying to be eco-friendly? Reusable water bottles come in different colors and styles and are now very inexpensive. A metal water bottle is a great gift for just about anyone and can be purchased at Eastern Mountain or any local wholesale store, such as Target. Introduction by Dan O’Brien / Limelight Editor Illustrations by Laura Eber / Head Illustrator

Licking a stamp leads to the consumption of 1/10 of a calorie. Every second, Americans in total eat 100 lbs of chocolate.

December 2009

You’d Only Believe It If Your Mother Told You A Column by Andrew Masi

dures.” No kidding. If these Secret Service agents can’t seem to check names off a list correctly, next week we’ll find balloon boy’s parents playing “hide and go seek” in Barack Obama’s bathroom. Although I was always too short to be a Secret Service agent, I do enjoy playing and following golf. I was completely shocked when I heard that Tiger Woods was involved in what at first looked like a car accident and later turned into a domestic disaster. At 2:30 a.m. on November 27, Woods ran his Cadillac SUV right into a tree in his neighbor’s yard after he pulled out of his driveway. Original reports stated that his wife helped him escape the car by breaking his rear windshield with a golf club. However, no shattered glass was found at the scene. I think we learned once before, that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck. Soon after, several tabloids reported that the golfing superstar was involved in multiple extramarital affairs. Already two of Tiger’s sponsors have dropped his endorsements and more than nine woman have confessed to being intimately involved with the golfer. Sounds to me like Mrs. Woods caught wind of her husband’s extracurricular activities and chased her husband out of the house with a nine iron. Of course, Tiger has already apologized and begged for forgiveness. However, the White House party crashers continue to stick to their story and have every intention of extending their 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately, the Secret Service and the TSA both have a great deal of explaining to do. Quite frankly, the respect I had for the TSA, Secret Service, and Tiger Woods has been irrevocably tarnished.

o th: d To mon t x ne



Over the holidays, we go to my grandparents’ house. We throw rocks at the roof to make the little kids think that Santa’s reindeer are on the roof. Sometimes, my grandpa climbs up on the roof and shines a flashlight down the chimney to make it seem like Rudolph’s nose. The kids really believe it [is Santa].

—Alex Duggan, ’11 When my two cousins come down and stay for a few nights during the Christmas season, we do the grocery shopping for my mom. Since their visit is limited and we don’t see each other that often, it’s a perfect opportunity to hang out and find things on the list that our parents give us for our Christmas Eve dinner. We joke around in the store and try to add some snacks to the list. A few years back, our parents weren’t keen on the idea, because they thought we wouldn’t be able to find certain items and get the right amount. But with their trust and support, we now do it annually. ­­

—Morgan Tanacea, ’11


Take this time to return to all of your tacky holiday presents before it’s too late. Use the money to stock up on winter clothing of your own choice.

On January 1, New Year’s Day, begin to follow through with your New Year’s resolutions.

—Sean Young, ’10

Quotes compiled by Jenny Raymond / Staff Writer Illustrations by mallory hart / Scatterbrain Editor

Don’t wait until the January 15 to start studying! Midterms are from January 19 through the 22 and we all know that procrastination is not the way to go.

For all those dedicated American Idol fans, yet another season is just around the corner. On January 12, the two-night season 9 premiere of American Idol will be showed on FOX.

After holding on to the Christmas spirit for a couple of extra weeks, the middle of January signifies that its time to take down those holiday decorations.

On January 15, Westhill’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins its showings. Catch the play before your stressful week of midterms.



During the holiday season, my family makes a challah tree because it combines my mother’s Catholic customs of celebrating Christmas and having a tree [with my father’s Jewish customs]. Cut up pieces of challah serve as ornaments that represent my father’s Jewish faith. When I was little, my parents used to try and brainstorm ideas for a decoration we could put in our living room that signified both holidays. My mom found a convenient pine tree at a store, and my dad thought of hanging the bread on it with lights.


I’m beginning to lose a lot of respect for some seriously legitimate and wellknown figures in the United States. Practically every day, we find another person on CBS apologizing for some ridiculously poor decision or idiotic blunder. To tell you the truth, I’m sick of it. On December 9, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) leaked its handbook for airport security screening on the Internet. TSA officials claim the handbook has been updated six times since the leak and therefore the security of the American people has not been jeopardized. That’s what they think! It seems to me like they were just asking for a new group of terrorists to pay us a visit. The document was immediately removed from the Internet. Currently, the event is under investigation. On November 24, Tareq and Michaele Salahi crashed the White House state dinner. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you read that correctly—they crashed a party at the White House. The stunt was undertaken in hopes of securing the couple a spot in an upcoming reality TV show. The couple claims to have been on the guest list for the event even though White House reports suggest that an invitation was never sent to them. You might ask, how in the world did this former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader and her husband sneak past three lines of Secret Service Agents and into a room full of United States government officials? To make matters even worse, the couple managed to take pictures with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, mayor of Washington D.C. Adrian M. Fenty, and even Katie Couric. Edwin M. Donovan, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, said, “Initial findings identified a Secret Service checkpoint which did not follow proper proce-

HEARD IT ON THE HILL: Wacky Holiday Traditions


January 21 is recognized as National Hugging Day. Spread the love and hug a friend.




January 18 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Take the day to appreciate how King’s inspiring leadership helped us to obtain the equality we enjoy today.

Compiled by katie zabronsky / Supplement Editor

Honey is used sometimes as antifreeze mixtures and in the center of golf balls. Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.

Scatterbrain December 2009

Page of Fun:


Optical Illusions

Can you count the black dots in this picture?

Which middle dot is larger?

Which line is longer?

Photo courtesy of

What’s wrong with this cube?

Photo courtesy of

* They are all the same size!

Photo courtesy of

Can you see this picture moving?

Photo courtesy of

In Chinese, Coca-Cola means “To make mouth happy.” 35% of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

S ports Scoring goals and setting new ones 42

Girls soccer reflects on historic State final win

Photo Courtesy of Allie Souza

The girls Varsity soccer team finished off the season with a record of 16-2-2, compared to 7-9-0 last season. The girls made history several times this fall, and became the first soccer team from Stamford to ever win a Class LL State Championship. With only 36 seconds left in the championship game against Glastonbury on November 20, the Vikings scored to win the match 2-1. Below, coach Dave Flower and three players reflect on their historic season and look ahead to next year.


ooking back over the season, I couldn’t be happier with the way it went. It was a great way for the seniors to finish their high school careers and just an unforgettable season for everyone involved. Looking forward, we have a lot of talent returning and I am very excited to see the current freshmen coming back as sophomores. Our current juniors and sophomores will come back stronger and we will do all we can to repeat this year’s amazing run. It is a huge task, though, as there are a lot of things that need to happen; I think winning the LL State title or even getting close [next year] will be even harder as people will be expecting it of us. —Coach Flower


his was the last season I would ever play with some of these girls; along the way we became more than teammates [and we] are now sisters. There’s nothing more you can hope for as a senior and captain of a Varsity team than to play a sport that you love and to win the State Championship. Next year, I know this team will do just as well, if not better, than this year. I have faith in the leaders on this team and the chemistry between all the players. They’re not only playing the game they love for their school and for themselves, but they are playing for each other and that is what is going to give them the success they deserve next year. This season was a memory I will never forget. —Co-captain Meghan Caldwell, ’10


ooking back to the start of the season, we had no idea we would go nearly as far as we did. But after winning so many games, reality started hitting us and we knew that we had so much more within reach than we had thought. We learned to give our heart for every game, which eventually won us the State Championship. Although we’re losing key senior players, I think our team [next year] will be just as good or even better than it was this year [because] our team consists of many juniors, but the seniors will definitely be missed [next year]. We really became close as a team this year and I think that played a great part in our victory. In the end, we really had the drive and spirit to win. —Julia Busto, ’12


think that our team exceeded everyone’s expectations this year. [For] all those who doubted us, we proved them wrong. [For] all of those who supported us, we made [their support] worth their while. But it wasn’t for them. Everything we did, we did for each other, for our coaches, and for Westhill in general. We were a family this year, both on and off the field, and that really made us get to where we did. Next year, it will be the same thing; people can expect us to come out with a bang. We have a lot of great players that are juniors and sophomores that will still be here and we are prepared to go all the way. Hopefully, [next year,] we can get the FCIAC title, too. —Tessa Dunster, ’11 Quotes Compiled by Alex Lewis / Associate Editor


A professional edge

December 2009


New gymnastics coach brings experience to team Michael Masiarz and Klaudia Olbrys Staff Writers

The gymnastics team has an exciting year ahead and hopes that its new coach can help it achieve success. Ellie Southworth, the new head gymnastics coach, is a former preelite gymnast, who competed when she was younger in the East division at levels eight and nine out of 10. From ages 10 to 15, Southworth competed and practiced gymnastics year-round. For four of those years, she was on the Arena travel team in Stamford. Coach Southworth has also coached four- to 10-year-olds at the Darien YMCA. Her daughter is a gymnast at Darien High School. As soon as she heard about the job at Westhill, Southworth knew she was interested. “I have learned a lot through [my daughter], and that gave me the confidence to do this,” she said. She added that she’s excited to be returning to gymnastics, this

time as a coach. “It’s neat to be a part of all this after such a long time,” she said. Jim DeCarlo is the team’s assistant coach. He has been with the girls for a while now and is helping the new coach adjust to the program. The gymnastics team has not won a title since the 2000/2001 season under former coach Ro Carlucci. Ms. Carlucci passed away in 2007 and the gymnastics team has been doing its best to recover after its loss. It hopes this year will be an effective rebuilding season that will teach new gymnasts the basics and help the veterans improve. This year, the team has seven returning players and 11 new ones. Senior captain Jordan Schechtman hopes that the team’s young talent will be an asset. “We hope to see some of the newer members step up this season,” she said. Despite the lack of seniority on the gymnastics team, Schechtman has kept her head held high for the season. She understands

that the competition in the FCIAC is not easy with schools such as Darien, Staples, and Wilton as competitors, but she believes that Westhill can win a title, either in States or FCIACs. “[Westhill is] hosting FCIACs this year [on] February 12, which is very exciting,” Southworth said. “We’re looking forward to doing the best we can.” The gymnasts are all incredibly appreciative of Southworth’s dedication and caring nature. Sophomore Blair Downey said, “She’s really nice. She wants to help everyone. Yesterday, I hurt my foot and she was the first one to make sure I was okay.” Both coaches are strongly encouraging the girls to work together and to support each other as much as possible. According to Decarlo, “Gymnasts are usually very close. They teach other new tricks, spot each other, and help each other gain confidence.” With Coach Southworth guiding the team this year, this confidence in each other and love for the sport will surely grow.

Going Big A Column by Luca Casinelli

Friends are often the key to success in the sports world. No matter which sport you choose, friends and teammates can be the motivating factors in your game. Whether you're playing mini-golf with a used neon orange ball and a bent putter or you're fully committed to the biggest pipeline on your freshly waxed surfboard, the people who you surround yourself with often hold the key to your sports future. You might not think that teammates play a major role in the world of extreme sports, where acrobatic soloists hit the ramps and carve down the mountainside on new pairs of Rossignols. However, buddies are the fuel to the fire when it comes to extreme sports.

After all, who would the Nitro Circus athletes be without group members Streetbike Tommy or Andy Bell? It would just be member Travis Pastrana attempting ri-

us achieve our goals in life. For example, just think of a day at the slopes. There are hardly ever any people slicing the snow by themselves. I have been skiing many

Elissa Miolene / Photo Editor New gymnastics coach Ellie Southworth spots sophomore gymnast Christina Zendman as she performs a flip. However, having too many people around isn't fun either; there needs to be a balance of people creating an equilibrium within the core of “dudes.” If not, you will end the day with a sour taste in your mouth. I enjoy going out to the track or trails with a group of buds and hanging out all day just riding dirt bikes. To many people, it might sound boring and they would rather be doing other things, but in reality, doing something you are

“Friends can transform you and they really have the potential to become a positive influence on your life, especially in the world of sports. The people you surround yourself with make you who you are as an athlete.” diculous stunts alone. That show would not be pleasing without all the daredevils running around, jumping tricycles off mega ramps, and base jumping out of hotel rooms in Las Vegas. Most of our brains are not hardwired to be independent all of the time; we rely on people to help

times, and it is usually with groups of five or more family members and friends. And the skateparks? You will never see an empty skatepark. Even if people go there on their own, they usually mingle with random individuals they rip around with.

truly passionate about with friends around can't get any better. Not only does riding with friends increase the serotonin levels in your brain, upping the fun factor flowing through you, but it allows you to become the best person you can possibly be. Riding partners push me to

limits that I could not achieve without a Jimmney Cricket in my ear telling me to wish upon a star. Friends also help me become faster, because nobody wants to lose to a good friend. Winning carries bragging rights, and even if it's just once, you can always snap back at friends and remind them of that time you beat them in a race. My friends push me to jump farther, corner harder, and become an overall better motocross racer. Friends can transform you and they really have the potential to become a positive influence on your life, especially in the world of sports. The people you surround yourself with make you who you are as an athlete. They give you that signature move, your trademark, such as Jeremy McGrath’s Nac-nac, a trick he does on the last lap of every race over the last triple jump. In sports, especially extreme sports, staying isolated and independent from others isn't the right answer because you need to be pushed in order to succeed.



Tales of a tryout

December 2009

Over the past few weeks, students have been weeded out to participate in upcoming winter sports. The Westword spoke to captains and freshmen alike who shared their perspectives on the whole tryout process.

The Veterans

“This season, tryouts consisted of about 30-35 girls. The majority of the girls were cheerleaders from football season, but there was a good amount of girls that were new as well. Out of the 30 plus girls who tried out, only about 21 made the team. This year, with a smaller team, there will only be 16 girls on the mat competing. As a retuning cheerleader, I didn’t know whether I was going to be on the mat or not. It’s all about who is strongest in stunting, rumbling, jumping, etc. Seniority isn’t a big factor on whether you’re competing or not. There are some freshmen who are competing while sophomores and juniors aren’t. But everyone on the team is really good and I’m very proud of the team so far.” —Cheerleader Faith Santos, ’11 “Every year on the first day of indoor track, all of the participants (new and old) are forced to undergo a series of time trials to determine what events they will specialize in. These time trials, which consist of the long jump, vertical jump, 50 yard dash, and the 400, are the bane of my existence. Even though this is my third year on the track team, the coaches still feel it is necessary to have me make a fool of myself in front of everyone. When I step up to the starting line, my stomach clenches up, and I frantically try to come up with excuses to leave. Unfortunately, my excuses never work, and I’m forced to muddle through time trials. But it doesn’t matter how well I do, because every year I end up running middle distance.” —Girls indoor track runner Regan Downey, ’11

The Captains

“We have been conditioning as a team, had a successful finish to the preseason, and are looking forward to the start of the season. My roll as captain is to keep everyone in line and set a good example for everyone. We are looking forward to this season and have expectations to make States, FCIACs, and win a city championship. Last year was a learning experience that will hopefully turn into a winning season this year. Our coach, Gary McGrath, has a no-cut policy unless your grades or actions are not acceptable.” —Boys hockey co-captain Scott Valenzano, ’10

“My tryout experience was fun for the most part. In wrestling, I knew most of the people, but now I’m getting to know them a lot better. You do a lot of running in tryouts so that’s just about the worst part. I feel that I did [a good job of] making myself stand out and pushing myself as hard as I could to attempt to impress the coaches. I’ve never really had to try out for anything in the past, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there wasn’t too much pressure. The only pressure I had was that I didn’t know exactly what the coaches thought of me and how it would affect me. I was trying to find a good spot on the team and give the coaches a good impression of me. Overall, I think tryouts are good, especially for the team because from the tryouts come the group of people that you know can last the season and be successful.” —Wrestler Nick Jimenez, ’13 “When I found out that basketball tryouts were coming up, I realized I had to get back into shape. I started running long distance and doing short sprints for conditioning. I also went outside to shoot some hoops and did some one-on-one with my brother. However, when tryouts came and I entered the gym, my confidence level shifted. Being a freshman, [I found] the older and returning players on the team intimidating. However, they turned out to be very helpful and supportive. Tryouts were hard and tested your endurance. These were like no other basketball tryouts I’ve been through before; this high school team meant business. Nonetheless, I did well and made [the] first cut, which I was thrilled about. The next day, when they made their final cut, my name was on the list. I am very glad that I practiced and worked hard for these tryouts. Only a few freshmen made the cut for this team and I feel honored and excited to be a part of this team. When I graduate, I will look back on my four years on the team and be happy I made the team starting as a freshman.” ­ —Girls basketball player Margo Teeters, ‘13

The Former Player

“I swim for Westhill every year and for the past two years I have [also] played basketball. I decided to stop playing basketball this year to concentrate on my main sport, swimming. It’s sad to stop playing basketball, but I want to focus and become better at swimming. As much fun as basketball has been for me, I know I made the right decision to focus solely on swimming. I made some great friendships playing basketball that hopefully I will keep forever. I’ll never forget the first day of basketball tryouts my freshman year because I was so nervous about impressing the coaches and playing with girls much older than me. The day went well except that I learned about an infamous drill that we eventually did every single practice that involved a lot of running. To this day, I know the team still dreads and does this drill. Little did I know back then that I would make the team and go on to have a fun two years at practice, games and especially bus rides.” —Danielle Bagwin, ’11 Quotes compiled by Suzanne Cohen, Amanda Barkin, Lindsey Morgulis, and James Forde

“Going into the season, the coach should basically know his roster with the exception of one or two guys that might stand out in a single tryout. The coach always has the final say when putting together the roster, yet the captains could step up and offer their opinion if they have seen a player in the past. No one was cut from the Varsity hockey team this year partly because we have just enough guys to fill a roster, but also because we have talent all across the board. The picture-perfect athlete is the one who shows effort and determination. [We are looking for] athletes who want to have fun but at the same time come to practice ready to work all the time. Overall, I believe a coach can’t make a perfect selection in a two or three day tryout. It doesn’t show enough about a player’s character or ability.” —Boys hockey co-captain Tyler Rich, ’10 Elissa Miolene / Photo Editor

The Freshmen


December 2009


Winter Guard program cancelled Anika Advani and Vicki Rybl Page Editor and Staff Writer

This year, some changes are being made to the winter sports program at Westhill. Unfortunately, one such change is that the winter guard program was cut. The winter guard team, which participates in several events including Stamford’s annual parades, has always been a part of the extracurricular program. With a successful color guard season in the fall, the cut of the winter guard program was unfortunate. Mr. Miner, the band teacher and head of the winter and color guard program at Westhill, said, “[Unfortunately] there were not enough participants and the usual instructor was unavailable on Saturdays, the only day when winter guard prac-

tices. This has also happened at Stamford High and is a trend across the state.” Senior Kia Valkonen, the former winter guard captain, was upset with the decision but had known that the team might be cut. Valkonen said, “Last year, our winter guard

group was obviously really hurt by this— many of us have been working at [winter] guard for multiple seasons, and it is awful not to have it [this year]. This would’ve, for example, been my eighth and final season with the guard. I personally love the activity, and I feel cheated

“I really loved being part of that group, and I hope next year’s seniors get to finish their year with this program back in place,” said senior Kia Valkonen. was a combined program with Stamford High because we didn’t have the numbers in each individual school to compete separately. This combined team worked out really well, and all of the members really loved being part of this group. Our

out of it, although I guess the situation is out of anyone’s control.” Those who wanted to be part of the winter guard team still have the opportunity to get involved. “The guard will be involved with winter percussion, as dancers and actors,

and they [will have] guard-like roles. Many winter guards around the state, including Stamford High’s, are also joining together with winter percussion groups,” said Mr. Miner. Although the guard team has this alternative, Valkonen feels it is not enough to make up for everything the winter guard team would have been able to do. She said, “Winter guard was a really unique activity at Westhill, and while we do appreciate the percussion opening their arms to us, it was a massive let down. Hopefully next year there will be something done to get the guard going again. Fall color guard sets up the basics for winter color guard, and in turn winter color guard makes the group stronger for the next fall season. Without a winter season, next year’s group is going [to go] into marching band

without having practiced all winter, which could be a struggle.” In the meantime, the group has come up with an alternate solution. Valkonen said, “Right now, our weapon line is practicing in the main lobby after school as an alternative, which is a huge step down from having a winter program [since] only four of the 11 of us decided to do it from the fall guard.” Although the team was small, it will be sincerely missed by the Westhill community. “I wish more students were interested in [color guard] and more instructors were available [for it] I think that people will miss the program,” Valkonen said. She added, “I really loved being part of that group, and I hope next year’s seniors get to finish their year with this program back in place.”

Photos Courtesy of Jainee DiDonato and Brittany Tarantino Members of fall color guard march in the Veteran’s Day Parade in Stamford. Guard members were extremely disappointed to find that winter guard was cancelled because there were not enough students to form a team.

December 2009

Cosmo Iadanza excels in three sports

Athletes of the Month




Senior Cosmo Iadanza is one of Westhill’s rare upperclassmen who is a three-season athlete. Iadanza is a devoted football player, wrestler, and lacrosse player. He has been on the football team for all four years of high school and recently completed his final season as captain of the Varsity team. This year, he is also a Varsity wrestling captain. Athletic Department Head Mr. King said, “Cosmo is one of the best players I have seen. He is always on time to practice and since I have known him, he has worked continuously very hard.” Iadanza does not waste time once the football season is finished. Soon after putting away his football pads, Iadanza takes out his wrestling pads. Iadanza’s teammates clearly admire his athletic skill. Senior wrestler Horace Harriot said, “[Cosmo] is the most talented

athlete I have seen. His strategies and techniques are very well thought out, and that’s why he [always] has a good season.” Iadanza is a very dedicated athlete and sacrifices much of his spare time to participate in school sports. “[There is] not a lot of free time to spend with my friends unless they do the sport I participate in, but at the same time, [playing sports is] also fun [since] I can help my sports team excel to the best of my ability,” he said. Iadanza successfully balances his multiple sports despite their differences. In regard to the transition between football and wrestling, he said, “It is more of a mental than physical [switch] from football [to wrestling], because [for wrestling] you train during practice and you face an opponent all by yourself instead of with a team. When you step on a mat you’re all alone out there, but on a football field you have your teammates by your side.” According to history teacher and wrestling coach Mr. Pereira,

Iadanza has grown tremendously as an athlete over the past seasons. “He definitely improved to be someone I can depend on. He’s grown to be a leader. He is hardworking, coachable [and is] willing to go the extra mile for the team.” Iadanza agrees that his athletic skills have improved during his time at Westhill. “[Since freshman year I have] definitely improved; in football I went from not starting to starting in [my] junior and senior [years],” he said. “In wrestling, I went from JV (Junior Varsity) to getting the Most Improved Award [last year]. In lacrosse, JV was a lot of fun as a freshman and sophomore, but at the end of sophomore year I got pulled up to Varsity and in junior year I got a lot of Varsity time.” Cosmo has helped Westhill progress in the sports arena for the past four years. He has led the football team this season and will surely prove to be an equally strong leader in wrestling and lacrosse.

Elissa Miolene / Photo Editor Three-season athlete senior Cosmo Iadanza demonsrates his skill on the wrestling mat.

field. Her energy allows us to get pumped and do well,” said senior co-captain Sarah Hartford. Osher, however, doesn’t let this get to her head. “My team is excellent and prevents the ball from coming back down here. Without [my teammates], I would not be the player that I am,” she said. Osher’s last game of the season against Glastonbury, the previously ranked number one team in the state, proved that Osher has no need for such modesty. Glastonbury outshot Westhill 27-10, yet Westhill was still able to take the gold. “She definitely was the MVP for the State finals game. She kept us in and we knew that we were safe with her in the net,” said junior Tessa Dunster, who assisted the game winning goal against Glastonbury. Osher says that that last game, where she had fans cheering her on throughout the match, was probably her best game of the season.

Although Osher clearly demonstrates talent on the field, she is also successful academically. Osher manages three AP and two honors classes. Teachers have caught on to her strong balance of soccer and school. Mrs. Costa-Weller, Osher’s Spanish teacher, said, “She’s a bright student who is able to do well even with her various responsibilites.” Osher has an interest in photography and works for both The Westword and Westhill’s yearbook, Saga. Despite her tight schedule, Osher still manages to play soccer year-round. This training has helped her develop the skills needed for a successful season. For anyone who thinks that defense is the best offense, it is good to know that Osher will be back next year as the Viking’s goalie. With her talent and hard work, the girls soccer team has the chance to come back to the State tournament and win it all again.

Photo courtesy of Allie Souza Osher celebrates with the state championsip trophy after the girls soccer victory in the State Championship.

Jenn Osher helps capture State title martha masiarz Staff Writer

When Julie Osipow, the starting goalie for the girls Varsity soccer team, graduated last year, fans may have been concerned. Osipow had four years of Varsity experience and knew the net well. Yet it wasn’t long before the other J.O.­, junior Jenn Osher, took Osipow’s place in the net. Osher has lived up to her predecessor and helped lead the team to State victory. From the start of this year’s season, Osher knew that it would be difficult playing for the Varsity team. She said, “It was hard coming in. However my coach, Dave Flower, helped me a lot.” Indeed, Osher caught on quickly and helped her team achieve its 16-2-2 record. Her optimistic and teamoriented attitude is another benefit for the team. “She is always positive and encourages us from the back of the


December 2009


Boys hockey freezes at Jamboree On Saturday December 12, the Westhill ice hockey team participated in the annual jamboree at Terry Connors Ice Rink. Local schools including Trinity Catholic, Stamford High, and New Canaan joined Westhill in this round-robin tournament. Each round was 15 minutes long. Westhill lost all three rounds by narrow margins. The only goal of the night for Westhill was scored against FCIAC powerhouse New Canaan by senior Tyler Rich on a rising wrist shot. Regardless of their losses, the players played well and provided entertainment for hundreds of cheering fans.

King of the Court Since the time when basketball hoops were breadbaskets, baseball bats were water-logged sticks, and soccer balls were nothing more than rocks, a common misconception has been that males dominate the world of sports in almost every aspect. For decades, many believed that male athletes jumped higher and ran faster. The women, meanwhile, were supposed to cheer them on. Until recent years, most SportsCenter highlights were of men slam-dunking, hitting homeruns, throwing touchdown passes or scoring a goal in the wide-open net. Now, however, when you turn on ESPN, you can see women performing these same spectacular plays at the exact same level

A Column by Jordan Meyer

as men. In April of 1996, a major accomplishment for women’s sports took place when the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was founded. This league gave female athletes who played basketball either overseas or at the collegiate level the chance to take their skills to the professional level. Men have had the chance to play basketball at the professional level since the 1940s, and the creation of a league strictly for women gave them the same opportunities. Similarly, professional golfer Annika Sorenstam has played in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) for 15 years and has compiled 90 professional wins. So-

renstam has also made a mark in the history of the sport by competing on the greens where the men play. The founding of the WNBA and Sorenstam’s success in golf are only two examples of how females have impacted the world of sports. High school sports have also been affected by female athletes. Young female teenagers were not always allowed to play on high school teams and those girls who were athletically gifted could not show off their talent. It wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that women were allowed to play high school sports and have their own teams. Up until that point, the skilled young females played on the boys teams, and more likely then not, these few girls who made the team were just benchwarmers for the boys. As part of the Title IX Education Amendments of 1982, no school that receives federal funding may discriminate based on sex. This means that no person who has the ability to play a certain sport

Jenn Osher and Zach Eisen / Photographers

may be excluded from doing so based on gender. For example, if a boy seriously wants to play field hockey, he has every right to play and can join the girls team. If there is enough male interest, he can even start a boys team. Recently at Westhill, there has

Both of these accomplishments are firsts for any team in Stamford. If you give a specific group the opportunity to succeed, the sky is often the limit, and these girls have proved that. When Annika Sorenstam was given the opportunity to compete with the men, she

“Until recent years, most SportsCenter highlights were of men slam-dunking...or scoring a goal in the wide-open net. Now, however, when you turn on ESPN, you can see women performing these same spectacular plays at the exact same level as men.” been a specific girls team that has made major noise on the playing field. In November, the girls soccer team won the Class LL State Championship. These girls made history that no other boys team has made in Stamford; this group of girls was the first to make it to the semifinals match and win. Then the girls topped it off with a magical State championship victory.

too proved that she could keep up with the guys. When only males were allowed to play basketball and the WNBA was created, female players across the nation also proved that they could compete at the same level. As more doors are opened for females, the world of sports is constantly changing, and it’s only getting better and more exciting.

Viking Sports

A difficult defeat Hockey faces upsetting loss at Jamboree See page 47

Athletes of the Month

Cosmo Iadanza and Jennifer Osher



See page 46

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December 2009  

The December 2009 print edition of The Westword