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The Sycamore Leaf Striking fences Thurs. Jan. 31, 2013|Volume LIX Issue 6|7400 Cornell Rd. Cincinnati, Ohio 45242|513.686.1770 ext. 3089|


Paul pursues goals >> Senior Jake Paul becomes the youngest member of American team in Jewish Olympics


Play breaks down barriers, showcases respect



Gun control >> Students confront gun control controversy



Snack Shack >> Aviator Express opens in Snack Shack to provide for students after school



Django Unchained >> New Tarantino film offends many



Freshmen Basketball >> Boys make successful transition from junior high to SHS

Kelsey King broadcast editor-in-chief

Sanika Vaidya

associate editor


ate. A seemingly simple four letter word. Yet combined with anger and prejudice, it has the power to move people to do horrible things. When it comes to race and especially homosexuality, the world has a rich abundance of violent controversy. Luckily, SHS can boast of its open-mindedness and, opening tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., Aves Theatre has the freedom to present “The Laramie Project,” a play about the effect that an anti-homosexuality hate crime had on a small Wyoming town. Within the halls of SHS, some students have seen excessive generosity regarding students who might experience persecution elsewhere, rather than tolerance. Several clubs emphasize SHS’ sense of openness. The Black Student Union, Asian Culture Club, and several other supportive culture-based entities join in increasing efforts to embrace diversity. Additionally, in the past year, the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA)


has been moving forward with the goal of reaching a point where, in the words of their own motto, “[they] shouldn’t have to be a club.” “In general most of the students are very open minded to accepting all kinds of diversity, but there is always going to be resistance to things that are different, and so until people can learn about differences and not be afraid of them or have negative feelings toward them, I think there is still a need for a club like this,” said Mrs. Meredith Griga, GSA advisor. One homosexual member of the SHS community in particular, who wishes to remain anonymous, has found SHS to be an accommodating environment during his struggle to come to terms with his own choices. “Sycamore is a pretty good school when you think about openness. Even if all of the students aren’t accepting, I’m still able to surround myself with friends whom I am comfortable around. If

someone can do that, he will be able to be himself,” the student said. The accepting environment was the reason that directors Mr. John Whapham and Miss Sarah Garvey felt comfortable showcasing the ideas presented in “Laramie.” “The show really has the benefit of bringing issues and ideas to the forefront of people’s minds that we think are worth sharing,” said Garvey. When it was first released, “The Laramie Project” broke grounds in the realm of pop culture because of its depiction of the antagonism directed at the homosexual community. “The neat thing about this show is that it leaves the audience the freedom to come up with their own message to take away from it,” said Rachel Handkins, 12. In Laramie, WY, in the 1990s, Matthew Shepard, an openly


e by




gay university student, was murdered by two boys who had a different view on his homosexual lifestyle. When Matthew Shepard’s case gained worldwide attention for being a hate crime, a theater company from New York decided to travel to the town to conduct interviews with the townspeople and form them into a play. The audience sees some town residents transform as they learn to open their minds to new ideas and to respect others’ opinions. “Just because you have believed something for 10 years doesn’t mean that on the 11th year it can’t change,” said Garvey. In the phrasing of the script, “Hate is not a Sycamore value,” and neither is shying away from difficult topics. Let the dialogue begin.



>>the sycamore leaf >>



Map of human dignity Isaac Harmon

Image by Ana Barros

associate editor

‘Boys will be boys’

Steubenville defends athletes’ assault


Atiya Dosani

news chief

n a town of less than 19,000 people, football is ingrained in the culture. The Big Red football stadium of the high school is perhaps the city of Steubenville’s most prized possession. The winning football team of Steubenville High School keeps the city on the map locally. However, the city has become tangled in a scandal and put in the national limelight as members of the idolized football team were accused of rape at an end of a summer party last August. The morning after, circulating videos, pictures, and tweets indicated that an unconscious girl at the party was sexually assaulted and possibly urinated on. The apparent victim did not remember anything from that night, and found out from details that unfolded through social media. Over a week after the party, two of the Big Red football players were arrested and charged with the rape and kidnapping of the 16-year-old girl. The boys spent two months in jail and are now under house arrest. While this is not the first time members of the football team have been accused of sexual assault, this case is unique due to the involvement of social media. At the time of the incident, there was no national coverage of the story. The scandal only recently resurfaced to the attention

of the public when a group leaked information online and news stations picked up the story. In late December, the hacker group, ‘Anonymous’ threatened to release names of the alleged participants. The following week, they posted a video of teenagers at the party ridiculing and making jokes and comments about what was happening to the girl. Anonymous brought this to attention because of the rumored possibility that Steubenville High School orchestrated a cover up of the incident in order to protect the student athletes involved. There was a widespread explosion of responses to the scandal that erupted after the video was brought to the public’s attention. The scandal also created strong division within Steubenville. In a town bound together by their infatuation with the Big Red football team, many citizens of Steubenville have rallied to the defense of the boys. Some accuse the girl of fabricating the story, saying she gave them consent, dismissing the term “rape.” At the same time, others speculate that the players are receiving special treatment because of their status in the town. “I do feel like they’ve had preferential treatment, and it’s unreal…What those boys did was disgusting, disgusting, and for people to stand up for them, that’s disgusting, too,” said the mother of the victim to The New York Times.

The participation of social media could also affect the situation in terms of the trial. The tentative court date is set for Feb. 15, but concerns have arisen that the boys will not receive a fair trial process because of the video and pictures that were disclosed. On Jan. 25, the judge announced that the trial will be closed to the public. Only the accused boys, the girl, all of their parents and their lawyers will be permitted in court. Perhaps one of the most prevailing issues that has emerged is determining the point when action must be taken. Over four months after the initial police report, still only two boys have been charged, and the town has no intention of charging any others. “If you could charge people for not being decent human beings, a lot of people could have been charged that night,” said William McCafferty, local police chief, to The New York Times. Does the old saying “boys will be boys” dismiss what did or did not happen? The question of where the fine line between a joke and a hazardous incident lies is still up for debate amongst the town of Steubenville, as well as the rest of the opinionated public. Although it is difficult with every eye watching them, citizens of the small Ohio town are attempting to carry on with their everyday lives as the trial date rapidly approaches.

Alexis Corcoran

opinion chief

The term ‘fiscal cliff’ has become an enigma for Americans. Everyone has heard the term, but very few understand the cloudy details of the legislation. Over the summer, the Republican majority in Congress agreed to this fiscal cliff, and in exchange Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling in a crunch for time. In effect, they set a deadline on Dec. 31, 2012 to come up with a fiscal plan to approach a balanced budget, that is, to decrease the yearly deficit. What confuses many people is that ‘falling over’ the fiscal cliff would in fact have decreased the yearly deficit by half, which seems a good outcome. The result would have been 21 percent more money coming into the government via taxes. In addition, large cuts would be made to defense as well

as social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. “I think calling this the fiscal cliff was misleading. ‘Fiscal cliff’ seems terrible, and it would have done some good things, like decrease the deficit. I wish it would have been called an ‘austerity measure,’ which is what Europe calls handling the debt load,” said Mr. Gregory Cole, economics teacher. There are several reasons why Congress did not want to fall off of the cliff. It may raise unemployment due to the cuts to Social Security and Medicaid, and it will likely decrease our gross domestic product (the amount of money companies in the U.S. make). Critics of the fiscal cliff disliked the universal tax hike. The wealthiest would have paid about 6 percent more while everyone else would pay about 2 percent more, by the expiration of several tax cuts. Congress stayed in the

Capital building all night New Year’s Eve and voted on a resolution. Tax increases were put in place for the wealthiest class, though the cut-off salary for wealthiest class increased to $400,000 from $250,000. The resolution did leave some ends untied. Congress extended a deadline until March 31 for sequestration, an automatic deficit reducer that would take the place of raising the debt ceiling. Witnesses of the midnight ‘agreement’ see the resolution as a temporary solution, and predict the delays will only continue. “It is very important that we avoid sequester permanently,” said John Little, Pentagon Press Secretary in a press release. “This can’t be a situation where we delay every two months. We hope to avoid it at all costs.” With all that being said, the

All images by Lila Englander

Fiscal solution provides short term relief

fiscal cliff was more of an example of the lack of compromise in Congress right now. The spending cuts and tax raises in the original fiscal cliff were designed so that neither Democrats nor Republicans were satisfied. Despite a resolution, that much has not changed. America has not heard the end of the fiscal cliff, but with a new House of Representatives sworn in, people hope the allnighters in the Capital building are behind them.

Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall. The alliteration of that litany made it seem obvious and inevitable, a bit of poetry just there for the taking. Just waiting to happen. But it has waited a long time. And President Barack Obama’s use of it in his speech was bold and beautiful. It spoke volumes about the progress that gay Americans have made over the past four years. It also spoke volumes about the progress that continues to elude us. Seneca Falls is a New York town where, in 1848, the women’s suffrage movement gathered momentum. Selma is an Alabama city where, in 1965, marchers amassed, blood was shed and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood his ground against the unconscionable oppression of black Americans. And Stonewall? This inclusion separated Obama’s oratory and presidency from his predecessors’. It alludes to a gay bar in Manhattan that, in 1969, was raided by police, who subjected patrons to a bullying they knew too well. After the raid came riots, and after the riots came a more determined quest by LGBT Americans for dignity they had long been denied. The causes of gay Americans and black Americans haven’t always existed in perfect harmony, and that context is critical for appreciating Obama’s reference to Stonewall alongside Selma. Blacks have sometimes questioned gays’ use of ‘civil rights’ to describe their own movement, and have noted that the historical experiences of the two groups are not identical. Obama moved beyond that, focusing on the shared aspirations of all minorities. He explicitly mentioned ‘gay’ Americans, saying a word never before uttered in inaugural remarks. What shocked me most about that was how un-shocking it was. On Nov. 6, the citizens of all three states that had the opportunity to legalize gay marriage at the ballot box did so, with clear majorities in Maryland, Maine and Washington endorsing it. And the distance traveled in the past four years impresses me more than the distance left. I’m proud of our country and president, despite their shortcomings on this front and others. Obama’s actions over the next four years could fall wholly in line with his trailblazing words. My hope is real, and grateful, and patient. For comments on this column, please write to

news >>the sycamore leaf


Taking strength from struggle:

Paul pursues Jewish Olympics Lila Englander


news chief

uccess stories are often born out of hardship. In the case of Jake Paul, 12, he was only eight years old when his twin brother, Max Paul, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Although the tumor was removed, the surgery’s complications weighed heavily on Max, including causing behavioral issues and legal blindness. However, in the face of this experience, Jake solidified his commitment to his passion—gymnastics. “When I was younger I played many different sports, but I played them all with him. They were all team sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. When he was unable to play these sports, I didn’t want to play without him so I stuck with gymnastics,” said Jake. But Jake did not stick with gymnastics in a casual way. He has been a competitive gymnast for 12 years and trains at Kids First Sports Center 17 hours a week in the school year and 22 hours a week in the summer. One of Jake’s goals for the past few years has been to compete in the Maccabiah Games or ‘Jewish Olympics,’ which are held every four years in Israel. In December, Jake travelled to Norman, Oklahoma to compete at the national trials for the Maccabiah Games. There were six spots on the team representing the United

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AFTER 12 YEARS AND countless hours spent training, Jake Paul, 12 qualified for the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel. However, this step in Paul’s gymnastics career is only part of his goals. He hopes to compete at The Ohio State University after he graduates.

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States. Men ages 18 to 35 are allowed to vie for those spots, and Jake managed to become the youngest person ever to secure a spot on the team. More than 8,000 Jewish athletes from 50 countries will be competing at the event in July. Not surprisingly, Jake’s plans for gymnastics span beyond the games. Following high school he hopes to compete on The Ohio State University Men’s NCAA Gymnastics team. Jake also remains optimistic

about Max’s recovery. “He has needed 24/7 help ever since the surgery, but he has come a long way and will hopefully get even better in the future,” said Jake. As difficult as his experience has been, he has also taken some lessons away. “The best piece of advice I can give anyone is that they should never give up when things get hard, because when people stick with their goals, good outcomes arise,” said Jake.

things you missed in Oprah’s interview with

Lance Armstrong...


… confessed to using performanceenhancing drugs during all seven Tour-deFrance victories


… believes that it would have been impossible to win the Tour-de-France without doping

… never felt that using the banned substances was wrong; instead, he saw it as a leveling the playing field

… concedes to being a “flawed character,” an abuser of power, and a bully

… was shamed into telling his son that the accusations were true when he defended his dad on social media sites

Image by Ana Barros and Julia Mattis

Juniors explore medical opportunity Sanika Vaidya

associate editor

To many juniors, life can seem to be all about paving the road to their futures. But before diving into post-graduation freedom, students should have some vision of what they want their future to look like. The Greater Cincinnati Health Council’s TAP MD program is one option available to juniors looking to sample a career in medicine. One of the program’s goals, according to its website, is “to find ‘untapped’ and talented high school students, [and] encourage their entry into a career in medicine.” The program requires students to be strong academically, requesting GPA, standardized test scores, past and present AP courses, and character recommendations in its application process. The 2013 TAP MD class will include juniors Michael Goldenberg, Leah Grinshpun, Nicolas Kumar, Karin Oh, Rachael Sun, and Sanika Vaidya as well as 27 other juniors from local schools. Over the course of 2013, these students will have the opportunity to learn about different medical careers from doctors at various institutions around Cincinnati. The group will meet once every month, each

time to explore a different medical career. “I think it will be a great experience because medicine is such a vast subject, and we will be able to see what some different options are, and discuss them with real doctors,” said Grinshpun. Grinshpun and her peers will be exploring family medicine, trauma and emergency care, care for the homeless, medical research, diagnostic imaging, and various clinic experiences. They will also have the chance to witness a live surgery. “I am really looking forward to seeing the surgery, because you see it all the time on TV, but it must be really different with a real human being whose life is literally in the hands of the doctors. I think it will be a great experience,” said Grinshpun. After learning about their options in medicine, the students will visit the University of Cincinnati in November, when they will be told exactly what being a medical student entails. The TAP MD program’s leaders hope to help these medically inclined students choose their career path within the field of medicine, and to help them excel in it.

“Keep your skin moisturized by drinking lots of water. Have you seen what plants look like when they need water? Our skin needs hydration both inside and out.”

Guest Column Capital reflections Kennedy Harris guest columnist

On the chilly morning of Jan. 21, I bundled up in five layers to see the historic second inauguration of the U.S.’ first black president, Barack Obama. Attending this inauguration held a social and symbolic meaning to me. Socially, the thought of a black president seemed like an anomaly. Seventy years earlier blacks and whites were completely segregated, and now we have a black man running our country. Symbolically, Obama’s reelection and inauguration was really an unprecedented victory and serves as a large step toward redemption from the U.S.’ nearly 400 year old sin. However, I knew this victory was not solely made by black support. As I looked across the massive throng of people I saw so much more than black, but whites, Asians, Indians, and Latinos all gathered to support the unparalleled victory of this one man. As a black adolescent, witnessing this historic event has really made an impact on me. Some say the first election was a fluke, but electing this man for a second term illustrates to me something positive about the U.S.’ character now striving for progress, change, and a push forward.

Image by Atiya Dosani

F 4


rom registration to roses ebruary comes with fun

Lauren Glynn


staff writer

SHS & District

What: SHS performs award winning drama about a brutal death. Date: Feb. 1- Feb. 2 Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Auditorium

Curriculum Fair

What: Opportunity for parents to better understand courses at SHS Date: Feb. 7 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Commons

AP Exam Registration

What: Chance to sign up to take AP exams Date: Feb. 11 - Feb. 22 Time: Lunch Location: Commons

SEE1 Orchestra Concert What: SHS’s electric ensemble’s solo rock concert Date: Feb. 15 Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Auditorium

Pep Rally

Date: Feb. 15 Time: 1:30 p.m.

>>the sycamore leaf >>

Brenda Shen

calendar chief

Aves Theatre presents “The Laramie Project”


News in Brief


Christian Howes performance

What: World-renowned jazz violinist performs at SHS Date: Feb. 15 Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Auditorium Cost: $10

Winter Formal

StuCo City BBQ

Red out

What: A fundraiser to help fund the class of 2016 Date: Jan. 31 - Feb. 3 Location: City BBQ Time: All day

Lauren Glynn

Early Release Days Date: Feb. 20, Feb. 28

Community Penguin Days

What: King Penguins will parade through the park Date: Feb. 1 - Feb. 28 Time: 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Location: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Cost: $7.50

Dead Sea Scrolls What: A collection of ancient Israeli artifacts Date: Feb. 1 - Feb. 28 Time: 10 a.m. Location: Cincinnati Museum Center

What: Spin classes benefit research for Parkinson’s disease Date: Feb. 9 Time: 4 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. Location: Cincinnati Sports Club Cost: $50

Rose Sale

What: Chocolate roses to send on Valentine’s Day; raising money to pay for SHS prom Date: Feb. 11 - Feb. 14 Time: Lunch Location: Commons

Raffle for Autism

Skate the Summit

What: Skate on synthetic ice Date: Feb. 9 Time: 2:30 p.m. Location: Blue Ash Summit Park

What: WEBN Rockin-n-Raffle raises funds for the Autism Society of Cincinnati Date: Feb. 21 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Stonekry Resale Books Cost: $2

A+ Tutoring

Lauren Saxon

calendar chief

Pedal for Parkinson’s

Date: Feb. 16 Time: 8:30 p.m. Cost: $15 and two for $25

New York gun laws staff writer

As America’s number one killer, heart disease, has taken more than a few people. It has torn apart families and SHS wants to help it stop. “We have been doing something at all the winter sports events during the past week: girls basketball, swimming, wrestling, and hockey,” said Mrs. Paula Anstaett, PE teacher. SHS worked with the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association to fight cardiovascular disease with a slogan of “Wear red, Make a donation, and Save a life.” “Some of the things we have done are split the pot, 20132014 all-sports pass raffle, dollar shot at half time of the girls basketball game, selling sports action shot pictures, selling t-shirts and taking donations,” said Anstaett. Over the course of a week (Jan. 22 to Jan. 29), various sporting events were held to support this significant cause. Peers filed into the student section dressed in all red to raise awareness and support the teams to raise funds in the fight against heart disease.

The elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT has sparked a great deal of debate in regard to laws on gun control. On Jan. 15, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a gun-control bill that includes firearms and mental health regulations to prevent future shootings. The new law strengthens the state’s existing assault weapons ban, limits the number of bullets allowed in gun magazines, and toughens the rules governing the mentally ill by requiring citizens to report potentially harmful behavior. The following day, the law was supported by President Barack Obama when he shared his plan to reduce gun violence. The plan aims to close loopholes in background checks. His plan also embraces banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. It emphasizes making schools safer. Obama’s plan titled ‘Now is the Time’ states that while no law or set of laws will end gun violence, it is clear that Americans want action.


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Forum >>the sycamore leaf >>

Year in review Opinion >> Monthly cartoon recount of news events that occured throughout 2012

Sandy Hook, gun laws 4 4 Opinion


>> Different takes on the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and gun laws


College exams >> Are high school exams too easy compared to those in college?

The Sycamore Sycamore High School 7400 Cornell Road Cincinnati, OH 45242 Leaf

Mission Statement: The Leaf, the official newspaper of Sycamore High School, serves as an educational tool in the training of student journalists to provide information and editorial leadership concerning school, national, and world issues, to provide a public forum for the exchange of ideas and viewpoints, and to give coverage to newsworthy events directly related to the diverse school population. Editorial Policy: Although students work under the guidance of a professional faculty member, the content is ultimately determined by the student staff and should reflect all areas of student interest, including topics about which there may be dissent and controversy. Students cannot publish material that is obscene, libelous, or will cause “a substantial disruption of the educational process.” Content that may stimulate heated debate or discussion is not included in this definition. The Leaf operates as an open forum for the healthy, robust exchange of ideas. Opinions expressed in the editorials are those of The Leaf staff. Letters to the editor are encouraged. All letters must be signed. The letters, not to exceed 300 words, may be edited for clarity, spelling, and grammar. Letters may be placed in Mrs. Cheralyn Jardine’s mailbox, dropped off in room 115, or e-mailed The Leaf reserves the right to decide not to cover a death based on relevance, timeliness, and circumstances decided on by the editorial board. In cases that the editorial board decides not to cover a death, letters to the editor in regard to that death will be printed. The Leaf’s complete editorial policies can be found at For comments about content, please write to Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Editors-in-chief: Ellie Goldman, Sarah May Associate Editors: Isaac Harmon, Rachel Sun, Sanika Vaidya Managing Editors: Ana Barros, Will Gawin, Adiiti Sharma Business Managers: Atiya Dosani, Lila Englander, Shea Lothrop Editor: Kelcie Grega Broadcast Editors: Kelsey King, Tori Swart News Atiya Dosani Lila Englander Forum Alexis Corcoran Isaac Harmon Feature Joseph Ahn Rachael Sun Sanika Vaidya A&E Krittika Chatterjee Sports Nakul Narendran Michael Saxon Spotlight Aditi Sharma Kathryn Tenbarge Fun and Games Taylor Evans Ellen Martinson Events Lauren Glynn Cartoonist Lilly Lefton Web Masters Eli Seldman-Deutsch Ruochen Tang Enterprise Editors Allie Oh Lauren Saxon Staff Writers Michelle Bartlett Romina Belez Sarah Birckhead Hope Bundy Emma Burge Katie Busch Astrid Cabello Andres Cardenes Camila Cardenes Glan Carlo Vaill Michael DeMaio Max Fritzhand Zachary Fritzhand Caroline Gao

Andrea Goldstein Isaac Goldstein Melissa Goodman Jenny Ham Britton Kemp Brooke Landrum Jacqueline Lazar Madeline Marsh Julia Mattis Ethan May Anna Moreno Casey Rayburn Ali Richter Elizabeth Rickert Orion Schosser Zoe Schlosser Lauren Shassere Brenda Shen Megan Shindler Joseph Slovin Scott Stefani Peter Tosh Alex Wittenbaum Ben Young Eli Zawatsky Anna Zhou Photographer McDaniel’s Photography Adviser Cheralyn Jardine About us Professional memberships: • Columbia Scholastic Press Association • Journalism Education Association • National Scholastic High School Press Association • Ohio Scholastic Media Association • Ohio Professional Writers (National Federation of Women Writers) • Quill & Scroll International Journalism Honorary



19 Confessions of former NRA member William Gawin

managing editor

Cartoon by Lilly Lefton

Staff Editorial

It can be uncomfortable and awkward to openly express your feelings in a high school classroom. Confronting the judgment of peers can be jarring, especially when the matter at hand involves sexuality, as it did for college student Matthew Shepard. For this reason Aves Theatre is producing “The Laramie Project,”which is a culmination of almost 300 interviews with townspeople in Laramie, WY, after the brutal murder of openly homosexual Shepard. When first released in 1998, audiences questioned the lack of antihate crime laws across America. High schools are not an obvious outlet in which to discuss issues like these. However, SHS is fortunate enough to be able to broadcast the message of “The Laramie Project”

with little inhibition. Our diverse student body provides the perfect audience for a show of this serious nature. The scripted characters are all real individuals, most of whom are currently living. The scripted words are not the product of a playwright but the candid replies of those interviewed. This sense of realism is why Laramie can motivate audiences to act on the behalf of neglected human rights. Shepard’s death - and more importantly his life - serve as a painful reminder of the importance of the dignity and acceptance in our halls at SHS and among our communities. On our own terms we come to realize that humans can sometimes do inhumane things. However, SHS offers us the opportunity to explore these issues in an uncommonly comfortable high school environment.

leafing through the masses

What is the best thing SHS does to encourage acceptance? The great teachers and administrative staff open opportunities. Also, the different sports teams and clubs allow us to meet new people. Venkateswaran Naresh, 12

There are clubs such as Gay Straight Alliance and Stepping Out club that appeal to different groups that wouldn’t typically be accepted. Nick Frankowski, 10

Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico is the National Rifle Association (NRA) Whittington Center. By providing the public with world class shooting facilities in the heart of its stunning landscape, the Whittington Center is a sportsman’s dream. In a way, it also represents everything I liked about the NRA. It stands to promote and support gun owners instead of shooting down what stands in their way. My experience at the Whittington Center is why I joined the NRA, but I chose not to renew my membership because I disagree with the way the NRA acts politically. The NRA is the largest U.S. firearm ownership organization. On one hand, it promotes marksmanship, gun safety, hunting, and selfdefense in a grassroots manner with thousands of volunteers nationwide. On the other hand, it acts as an industry backed lobbying organization, ostensibly to oppose gun control policy, pursuing the latter with a hardline fervor. Despite sportsmen and law abiding citizens having a legally well-secured right to access firearms, the NRA is well known for actively crusading against anyone who votes for legislation it sees as eroding the Second Amendment. Anyone on a national stage who opposes the NRA is frequently declared as “against freedom.” Sometimes you don’t even have to oppose the NRA to be blacklisted by the organization. During the 2012 election season the NRA spent over $1.5 million on ads attacking President Barack Obama, proclaiming “Right now. Defend freedom. Defeat Obama.” Now, what freedomsnatching gun laws did Obama sign into law? One law he signed allows people to carry concealed weapons in national parks. Another reversed a post 9/11 security measure banning firearms in checked luggage onboard intercity trains.

>>continued on The school is so big that there is a group for everybody to fit in with. Marisa Koster, 9

Scan here to read the rest online at For comments and suggestions on this column, please write to


>>the sycamore leaf >> forum



Remember Newtown Ethical controversy challenges journalistic cause Michael DeMaio


staff writer

any news outlets have recently taken advantage of their journalistic influence and ignored their responsibility to the general public, as well as to the victims of the events that they are covering. During the press coverage of the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut this past December, the media completely destroyed all boundaries of respect that should govern a reputable news outlets sensibilities. They released images of mourning families and interviews with victims. While everyone should

be informed on this tragedy, it should not have been covered in the intrusive fashion that it was. Our news outlets are irresponsible; if they put themselves into the place of the victims, they would see that images of grieving families and children after witnessing a mass murder are not theirs to release. These images are to sensationalize events; they have no value to the story and are detrimental to the families involved. While the pursuit of captivating news may be a noble one, there is a point when the need to boost network ratings and raise viewership should be put aside to protect those involved, for the good of the people.

Ana Barros

managing editor


e have the right to be safe in our persons and effects according to the fourth amendment, and many argue that this right has been violated by media sharks as they published stories of Sandy Hook victims in their most vulnerable moments. However, the media’s purpose is to spread news. The most interesting stories are those of common people – the ones we can relate to. The best stories are those that make us look into ourselves and wonder, “what if that were me?” The Sandy Hook stories are not


an invasion of privacy; they are an invasion of the deepest parts of our mind, as we unwillingly empathize with the parents, siblings, and friends. And that is not a bad thing. As journalists, we hope to inspire our readers with stories of everyday heroes and villains; newspapers function a lot like books and movies in that way. But what bothers people is that they can close a book or finish a movie knowing that at least some of it was made up. The thing about newspapers is that they tell the truth. And ultimately, people are not afraid of invasion of privacy; they are afraid of the truth. Images by Ana Barros and Alexis Corcoran

ragically forgetful

aken lives lose impact as tragedies continue

Constitutional right:

Concealed carry discourages criminals

Michelle Bartlett staff writer

The tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT opened our eyes and made many look into what will reduce the chances of it happening again. As Americans, we all have the right to bear arms. Attempting to take all weapons out of the hands of citizens would be a complete failure. Would fewer people have died in Newtown if some staff had concealed weapons with them? If the arming of teachers with guns would had one life, it would have been worth doing. Looking back at the movie

theater shooting in Aurora, CO, the shooter chose to terrorize the movie theater that was third closest to his home. Why not the closest or even the second closest? Those theaters didn’t have ‘No Guns Allowed’ signs; anyone in the theater could have had a concealed weapon to shoot back. Yet the third movie theater had a sign saying ‘No Guns Allowed,’ meaning there was no one in there to shoot him. For those who believe that citizens should not conceal and carry, here is a statistic

that may change your mind: New York is in ninth place among cities with the worst crime rates. In just one month, 77 people were shot in the city. In New York it is illegal to have a concealed weapon. When you compare this to states which are allowed to conceal carry, like Texas, the crime rate is extremely low. In general, states that already allow concealed carry permits are less likely to have high rates of gun-related felonies. Shooters are intimidated by guns in the hands of good people.

Teachers flock to gun training seminars find that this one consists of teachers not only frightens me, but is humiliating-- much I recently read an article more so than the imminent titled “Hundreds of Texas, fear I expected: How can we Ohio teachers flock to gun associate guns, a symbol of training” which reported personal and public tragedy, that over 900 teachers, with people who are meant administrators, and school to enrich our lives with employees in Ohio have knowledge and wisdom? signed up for a free gun Young children, teenagers, training seminar by the and the local community all Buckeye Firearm’s Association. look up to our educators as Of these, 51 percent work in shapers of the future. Are we a high school. willing to hand the reins of It is difficult to face any society over to a group that armed group of 900, but to turns so easily to violence as a Rachael Sun

associate editor

solution? Ghandi famously said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Guns are not shields, and they never will be. I am not accusing teachers of being violent or blind; I would most like to believe that they have their students’ safety in mind instead. But I cannot wrap my mind around the notion that possession of a gun will somehow prevent the deaths that inevitably occur in school shootings.

Taylor Evans

fun & games chief

While the disturbing numbers and facts on a page cannot begin to account for lost lives, we tend to forget victims quicker than we like to admit. It is saddening that our country only recalled the shooting in the Colorado Theater last July because of the attack at Sandy Hook. There is a national uproar for change and justice, but in a couple weeks’ time, those calls for change become mere whispers, and we forget until we must be reminded by another tragedy. Why do we allow ourselves

to grieve so ardently, and then, within a month’s time, let it slip from our minds? Above all, no matter how we act and move forward from this as a country, we must not let ourselves forget what happened at any of these tragedies. It should never have to take another crime, for us to remember the ones that had happened in the past. Our condolences will never change what happened at Columbine, Aurora, and now Sandy Hook. May we never forget the precious lives lost, as well as the lessons we learned.

Q&A with Officer Paul Payne, SHS Resource Officer

What do you think we can learn from Newtown? That it can happen here; Let’s not be so naive as to think that it can never happen here, because that school had two locked front doors. We’re vulnerable. Every school is vulnerable, meaning if a bad guy wants to get in, he’s going to find a way in.

How has this affected anything that is done here at Sycamore? I think what it’s really doing is it’s having us go over the plans that we already have in place. As you know we already do the ALICE training. We train each seventh grader every year and then we revisit all new students and staff every year. Basically what we’re doing is we’re going over crisis plans building by building and we’re giving them an assessment. We’re just fine-tooth combing everything.

Anything else you would like to add?

I am challenging our kids to be smart, know their options, evacuate first, and listen to the information. Use those same techniques at home, at work, at your worship center, or wherever you may be in life. *For an extended interview, please visit

forum >>the sycamore leaf >>



T p Gun: Gun control controversy culminates feature chief

Isaac Harmon


opinion chief

f the U.S. is ever to confront its obsession with guns, that time is now. Gun regulations are seen as an invasion of out second amendement rights, and therefore our overall freedom. “I don’t think guns should be so equated with freedom as they are, these days, machines designed for killing,” said Joseph Vaz, 10. The questions being thrown out in the media, in politics and around the dinner table include whether assault weapons should be banned, schools should have armed guards, gun purchases should require backgroud checks, and whether hould there be a limit to how many bullets a gun can hold. While these are the pragmatic queries necessary in the age of the slow, belligerent lawmaking in which we live, maybe they are not the best questions. Americans have the greatest need to hold the Constitution in our hands, read the Bill of Rights slowly, and come up with

better questions to ask. We celebrate our freedoms, which is good, but Americans need to revisit the ontology of our freedoms. We need to evaluate not only the creation of our liberties but also what they mean today, not only in our pursuit of happiness but also for the health and good of our entire country and its future. Though many accuse the mental health of individuals as the problem, not the gun themselves. “I think it’s more important to focus on the mental health aspect and societal side of the issue, as well as perhaps tougher background checks,” said Nick Frankowski, 10. The Constitution cannot be held in esteem as an infallible declaration. It protects many good things America cherishes, but creators of the Constitution could not have envisioned the many ways in which America would progress in

THE KNOTTED GUN, CREATED by pro-peace sculptor Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd after the shooting of John Lennon, stands proudly in the United Nations sculpture garden in New York City, New York. There are 16 other identical sculptures across the planet, in venues ranging from a World War II Museum in Caen, France, to a shopping center in Liverpool, England.

All images by Joseph Ahn

these 200 plus years since it was written. The Constitution is a living document. Similarly, America is not simply a country but an experiment. Experiments involve tests, pains and reconsiderations. While the Constitution was a defining step and still persists as a sturdy foundation for the freedoms needed to grow and evolve such a vast experiment, we need to start asking better questions. We need to question what is healthy, what will benefit the least among us, and how we can protect, preserve, and progress the self-evident truth that we are all created equal. As we navigate heartwrenching tragedies and the resulting difficult decisions related to the existence of firearms in America, we must make sure we are asking the best possible questions. Maybe it involves going back further and asking ourselves why and how Americans are allowed to even have guns and if the rights so many are pushing for are the most beneficial, healthy pursuits. We need to admit that we do not know everything, especially in the face of soaring homicide rates and guns flying off the shelves. Maybe that means rethinking our view of what the Constitution promises us and how it protects the American experiment. It certainly means we need to reconsider and recommit to our personal and societal responsibilities as Americans.

Gun Use

Joseph Ahn

Protection: 67%

With 88.8 firearms per 100 people, the U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world.

Target Shooting: 66%

Hunting: 58%

Since its creation, the Second Amendment giving Americans the “right to bear arms” has been one of the most disputatious clauses in American history. Both gun supporters and opposers have invoked it to support their causes. But in any case, the U.S. remains at the top of the list of gun ownership, and controversy about the Second Amendment is now stronger than ever.



Lilly Lefton

staff writer

>>the sycamore leaf >> forum

forum >>the sycamore leaf >>

Exercise program loses its hOMe Sanika Vaidya


associate editor

s a naturally reserved person, not many things inspire enough emotion from me to merit me voicing my opinions. But when it comes to denying young students a chance to relieve stress in school, I find I cannot remain silent. Recently, protests against Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School’s policy of teaching students Ashtanga yoga before classes each morning have risen to the level of national news. The protests stem from parents’ worries that this activity lends itself to immersing the young children in the Hindu religion, rather than simply being a means of

encouraging relaxation and mental calmness. I understand where this assumption comes from. I do. I myself, being a Hindu, have been surrounded by yoga for my whole life; I have fond memories of competing with my cousin to do the more difficult poses as my grandmother tried to make us feel at peace with the world. But this is what yoga is about- feeling at peace with the word. It is not about Krishna or Vishnu or a deity with the head of an elephant. One of the mothers who is firmly against yoga has stated that she believes yoga cannot be separated from its Hindu roots because during Sun Salutations students are taught to respect the sun for the life and warmth

that it brings. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe we actually learned this when we studied photosynthesis with Mrs. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus. They are Sun Salutations, not sun devotions. Honestly, they remind me more of the books I read as a child (‘Good night, Stars! Good morning, Sun! Good morning, Trees!’) than they remind me of what I have heard at the local Hindu temple. Sure, the names of some poses sound foreign, but I remember only endless giggles as a child when I tried to convince my friends that ‘Sun Salutations’ are actually ‘Surya Namaskarams.’ Giggles, not religious fury, are

Image by Sanika Vaidya

1.31.2013 the primary reaction students have to the foreign practice. “What my daughter tells me is she did ‘the pancake’ today and she lays down and then she cracks up because it’s so funny,” said Monique Cocco, a mother in the elementary school’s district, in an article on Laughter, not questions about faith. What with the level of stress that students, especially students at SHS, are currently experiencing, it is a good thing that students somewhere are being taught a healthy way to cope with it. I can personally attest to the negative effects that unhealthy amounts of school and liferelated pressures can have on a high school student. I can also attest to the relaxation and mental calmness that yoga brings. The essence of yoga is tranquility and health. Not the Ramayana. And certainly most Hindus will affirm that there is nothing Hindu in hundreds of the instructional videos made by people who are in no way affiliated with Hinduism that line store shelves next to other fitness related DVDs. America is great because it is a uniquely tangled web of innumerable cultures and beliefs. Yoga is just another perk we find on this web.

‘Learning what works best for you now is key’

SHS fails to prepare students for future exams Michael Saxon sports chief

By now, SHS students have survived their first semester exams. Aided with study guides, notes, and old tests provided by teachers, students were able to successfully tackle these assessments worth 10 percent of their grades. Hopefully. However, while these students were preparing for Christmas break by watching holiday movies on Netflix or Instagraming decorated cookies, their older peers at various universities were facing exams of their own. And these exams were no easy task; they were, according to one SHS alum, “hell.” In college, there is no such thing as the ever-so-famous statement “I can get an F on my exam and still get an A for the year.” If you fail a college exam, chances are you fail the class, as they are worth 30 to 50 percent of your final grade. More preparation prior to the exam is required as well. “The only thing your professors in college will tell you, for example, is the chapters the exam will cover, which can be a very large range of information,” said

Ryan Reid, ’12, The Ohio State University student. In college, it is your responsibility to find the best way to prepare. “You aren’t given a study guide or bullet points for what to study - figuring that out is up to you. And that’s the most important part of studying for college exams,” said SM Dipali, ’12, student at New York University. “You have to make a good guess as to what to study.” The discrepancies between high school exams and college exams prove one thing: Here at SHS, our hands are held. We are offered an immense amount of help on our exams, and then we are patted on the back for doing work that is simply averagework that probably will not prepare us for the next step in our lives. “Because students can figure out what they need on an exam to get their desired grade, I don’t necessarily think the system at Sycamore places enough emphasis on exams,” said Dipali. What good are teachers doing when they tell us exactly what to expect on the exam, if that will not be the case in college? I have definitely benefited from the extra help the teachers gave me. Furthermore, I have

definitely calculated the exact grade needed to maintain an A for the year. But I know I’m in for a rude awakening two years from now. To avoid this looming, harsh reality check, SHS students currently at universities recommend taking high school exams more seriously and begin to take them “the right way.” “Start developing good study habits now. Don’t wait until the night before to study,” said Lina Cardenas, ’12, Syracuse University student. In addition to improving study habits, Dipali also noted another strategy. “Even if you need a C or a D to get an A in a class, try and get that A anyway,” said Dipali. “Learning what works best for you now in terms of studying and memorization is key.” Students should not let their SHS’s ‘hand-holding’ hinder their success in college. Students should prepare for and take exams ‘the right way’ because it will ultimately pay dividends in the long run. We are not babies anymore. It is time to stop acting like them.


In ve n t Meant To

Future automatic cars to reduce distracted driving deaths Lila Englander

news chief

Driving is a wonderful concept—the ability to go wherever whenever. But it is also a hassle and a hazard. Twenty four classroom hours are spent primarily watching gruesome videos of accidents, which instructors hope will scare teenagers into being safe drivers. The second requirement is eight hours of driving around in circles with a ‘certified instructor,’ who, at least in my experience, was either asleep or on the phone. All this culminates in a nerve-wracking test, which, if passed, opens up a new world of dangers and anxiety. But imagine what it would be like if you never had to worry about accidents, because your car could sense approaching objects and brake for you. After a stressful hour of practicing for the maneuverability test, I am delighted to say that this technology is on the way. In our lifetime it is likely that we will see fully autonomous cars become commonplace. There will be no difference between sitting in the driver’s seat or the passenger seat and distracted driving will be safe. Some amazing features already exist. Getting sleepy? Your car will alert you. Worried about parallel parking? Your car will take care of it for you. Worried about hitting jaywalkers? Your car will detect them. Beyond legal difficulties, the main obstacle is not creating automatic cars, it’s making society comfortable with the idea of handing over control to a machine. To combat this concern, scientists are developing technology that allows a driver to alternate between automatic and mechanical drive modes. It is only a matter of time before SHS students will be able to watch a TV show or take a nap while they ‘drive’ themselves to school. And more importantly, our generation could witness a major decrease in the number of people killed in car accidents.

Donna Phelps TEL 513.489.9600

(513) 936-0400 Kenwood Road Location

FAX 513.247.0827

10796 Montgomery Road

Cincinnati, OH 45242

10 1.31.2013

>>the sycamore leaf >>




Our graduates make a difference because of the difference our education makes in them. There’s no better way to learn about Loyola than to experience it firsthand. Join us for a Saturday information session.

February 16 · March 16 · April 6 · April 27



Fun & Games

Taylor Evans

Riddle of the Month

Ellen Martinson

What English word retains the same pronunciation, even after you take away four of its five letters?

fun & games chief

fun & games chief

>>the sycamore leaf >>

2 8 7 5

1 8 3


4 5 5 6





7 2 4 5

Have a comic, game, or poem you want to appear in the next issue? Contact The Leaf at

Answer: Queue

Mind Game: Sudoku




6 9 7 8

Where in the school is this?

1 6

Thursday Morning

Most calculators are more powerful than the world’s first computer. Your eyes process more than 120 million bits of information every second.

4 2

Fill in numbers such that every row, column, and square, has exactly one of each number, one through nine.

Did you know?

The first person to submit the answer to will win an out-to-lunch pass.

Some snails can sleep for three years.

Food passes through the giant squid’s brain on the way to its stomach.

It would take a sloth one month to travel one mile.

Your skeleton has about 300 bones when you are born, but only 206 when you grow up. Source: National Geographic

Thursday Night

Thursday Afternoon

Friday Morning

Hibachi Grill & Sushi Bar

$10 off Two dinners or

hibachi entrees Cannot be combined with any other offers or happy hour specials. One per table. Expires 2/28/13.


7800 Montgomery Rd. Sycamore Plaza Across from Kenwood Towne Center

Open 7 Days A Week

Sun-Thurs 11am -10pm Fri & Sat 11am -11pm Lunch Hours Mon-Fri 11am -3:30pm

Lunch only $14.99!

Dinner o nly $24.99!

All You Can Eat Fresh Made-To-Order

Sushi Rolls Nigiri (Sashimi available for dinner only) Appetizers Soup Salad Kitchen Food Dessert


Feature >>the sycamore leaf >>

Valentine’s Day >> Pick up pick-up lines and more ideas for a day of romance and fun

’t es aren Trophi gold, but I f made o you are n thi k


Passion for press >> Find out who and what goes into producing the newspaper, yearbook



Snack-lacking students, fear no more eniors in economics team with school to feed crowds

Ellie Goldman



HS’s 2:23 p.m.’s just got a makeover. Students who stay past seventh bell have often wished for alternatives to vending machine food, and this year the call has been answered. It turns out that both students and school officials wanted to address this issue, and this led to the formation of the Aviator Express. “Basically it’s an after school snack program,” said Nolan Carroll, 12, a student leader of the effort for its conception. “If students are staying for after school activities they can go through their student [lunch] accounts and buy something.” The Aviator Express operates out of the Snack Shack, whose doors are now open from 2:20 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. every school day except early release days. The program offers hot and cold entrée items, beverages, and snack items, as well as a few things that students may not have seen for awhile. “During the school day, the regulations are different than for what’s allowed to be sold after school,” said Karen Mondro, Child Nutrition Program employee, in referral to Senate Bill 210. Mondro sometimes staffs the Snack Shack, and implies that things like cookies are not taboo later in the day. “As soon as the bell rings school is technically over and those restrictions are lifted,” said senior Kayla Lawson,

a key player in developing the initiative. “We don’t go overboard with junk food, but it is nice to have some of the sweeter items and also things like Bosco sticks.” The idea originally stemmed from Mr. Greg Cole’s economics class, where a few students decided they wanted to form an Entrepreneurship Club. After tossing around possibilities, the students were put in contact with Ms. Jessica Johnson, Child Nutrition Services Manager of Sycamore Community Schools. She informed them that she was also interested in starting an after school program, and they joined forces. They had around six planning meetings, during which they hammered out staffing needs, price points, and food safety, among many other things, and sampled some possible food choices. “It was a little disappointing to not be a purely student-run organization, but it’s worked out pretty well to use their facilities and give input,” said Lawson. Johnson, too, was pleased with the student involvement. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this group of students,” she said. “They are intelligent, dedicated and hard-working students who will make fantastic future business owners.” She hopes to continue working with the entrepreneurship group in the future. Now that the program is rolling, the students take turns

Photo courtesy of Karin Oh

STUDENTS WITH COOKIE CRAVINGS after school can take advantage of the Aviator Express, which sells everything from entrées to side items in the Snack Shack daily. A group of economics students teamed up with Child Nutrition Services Manager Jessica Johnson to combat complaints about the lack of after school food options. The project’s original monetary goal was just to break even, which has not been a problem.

assisting the business, with jobs including set up, tear down, and inventory. The founding students may also apply for ‘Credit Flex’ points, presenting a report to the school board. The main goal is to serve students while still breaking even, a goal that has been achieved 95 percent of the days it has been open so far. Lawson and Carroll report

that one of the main issues at this point has been spreading the word. They are making attempts to attract student customers and employees to the program. “[They] came to my economics class and advertised it,” said John Grossheim, 11, “and I see that they have better choice of cookies than school lunches, so there is no way I


Valentine’s Day for lovers Kelcie Grega

web editor-in-chief

Every year on the 14th day of the second month of the year, couples are busy swooning over each other while being schmoozed by chalk candies and fine jewelry. As if plastering pink and red all over the place is not enough, the over emphasis on love and being in a relationship can really be a big slap to the face for those who already hate

being alone at the worst time. The media especially likes to call attention to the fact that it is not acceptable to be single on Valentine’s Day. What a drag that is. Just when one is about to watch another rerun of “House,” those darn Kay and Jared commercials just keep popping up like weeds. For those who will be alone this year on Valentine’s Day, do not fret! There are plenty of festive and amusing ways to celebrate being alone.

Take yourself on a date. Who knows how to treat you better on a date than you? You know what you want better than anyone else. Do not forget to spend a lot of money because you know you deserve it.

Get that warm and fuzzy feeling from a petting zoo. If baby animals cannot warm your heart, nothing will.

would miss that opportunity.” Students interested in staffing the store can contact Lawson at for more information. Those involved have hope that this project will soon establish itself as part of SHS’s daily routine. They encourage SHS to take the new opportunity to stay late and snack well.

Throw rocks at couples at the park just as they are about to plant a really big one on each other. This tends to annoy them a little bit so make sure you hide or runaway if you get caught.

Want to be surrounded by handsome fellas in tuxedos? Break into the penguin exhibit at the aquarium. There really is not anything more exciting than sitting behind a glass wall surrounded by penguins. Gentlemen should try this as well. Gorge yourself, stuff your face, and just eat. Everyone knows that food is the antidote of all problems. Don’t feel guilty, just pig out.

Take the time to stare at those disgusting love birds through a fork and pretend that they are in jail. That will at least put a smile on your face. Image by Kelcie Grega

feature >>the sycamore leaf


Dare to care: Lauren Saxon

staff writer

Allison Oh


staff writer

alentine’s Day is known as the national day of romance. Every Feb. 14, flowers, cards, chocolate and gifts are exchanged between friends and loved ones. This holiday dates back to 270 A.D. with St. Valentine and has been celebrated around the world ever since. There are many different stories of how Valentine’s Day came about, and the holiday has grown in popularity since the first Valentine cards were made and sent in 1849.

“This year I’m probably going to take my girlfriend out to dinner and a movie to celebrate the holiday,” said Nick Frankowski, 10.”

Gifts for your valentine Whether you are single or in a relationship, it is common to give a gift to someone you care about on Valentine’s Day. “My favorite part about

Valentine’s day is getting chocolates,” said Michaella Keyes, 11. Making your own cards and gifts is a way to avoid spending too much money and can also make the gift more meaningful. Valentine’s Day is a day dedicated to love, so remember to celebrate this Valentine’s Day with the people you care about.



Students express love in various ways

ERIN GLASS, 11, AND CHARLES FRY, 12, pose for a prom picture. The couple has been together for over a year, and Glass shares how they celebrated the holiday in the past. “For Valentine’s Day we exchanged gifts. It was funny because we got each other the exact same picture of us in a frame! We celebrated that weekend as well, and he surprised me by making a candle-lit dinner. It was very cute and very unexpected. I’m excited to spend another Valentine’s Day with the boy I love,” said Glass.

Pick-up lines for that special someone ATHLETES n’t ies are Troph old, but I of g made you are think

ORCH DORKS d me You ha o at cell

Ways to celebrate

Today, over half of the U.S. population acknowledges Valentine’s Day through greeting cards. About 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular cardsending holiday after Christmas.

MATH GEEKS were a If you you’d le, triang e one t be acu

“On Valentine’s Day I eat lots of chocolate and give flowers to my girlfriend.”

“I love Valentine’s Day because you get to spend it with your loved ones.”

“It’s the day to find out if she’s the type who’d rather have roses in her hands or diamonds on her neck.”

Wessel Blessing, 9 Olivia Wells, 10

Liam Reis,11 Anna Bailes, 12











If you are single on Valentine’s Day, like a lot of SHS students, it is not the end of the world, and you can still find fun ways to celebrate the holiday. Valentine’s Day is a day devoted to love, so find creative or funny ways to tell people in your life that you care about them. Another way to celebrate Valentine’s Day if you are single is to participate in Student Council’s rose sale, where you can send a chocolate rose and a message to your friends between Feb. 11-Feb. 14. A simple card or chocolate rose can make someone’s day, so even if don’t have a significant other, remember to share the love anyway.



iTunes Gift Card

“Valentine’s Day is one of those days that’s nice to have in the middle of a cold winter”


Percent of U.S. women who send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day


Average number of dollars men spend on cards, jewelry, flowers, and dates every year

3 189 36


Millions of roses that are sold in the U.S. on Valentine’s Day

Millions of heart shaped boxes of chocolate sold on Valentine’s Day

Source: Source:

JOURNALISM KIDS were If you age on a p s d r o e w you fin I’d call t prin

THEATER KIDS m ly drea My on eing b role is ou with y

SCIENCE NERDS look u o y , l r Gi those n i d o go genes

BAND GEEKS u Girl, yo ’# lookin

EVERYONE u have Do yo id? I -a a band y knee m d scrape for you g fallin

All images by Lauren Saxon


>>the sycamore leaf >>



‘Give your thoughts power and let them be heard’

Journalism seeks fresh voices


calendar chief

earbook Journalism is an assortment of memories, historical quotes and photos in a 400 page book designed to record, highlight, and commemorate the 2012 - 2013 school year. “Yearbook is one of those classes that really prepares you for the real world. You work on deadlines, and deal with students, faculty, clients and vendors. You get to work with some of the best and most versatile computer programs which help inside and outside of school,” said Myra Saeed, 12, co-Editor-in-Chief.

Wow factor

Being in this course can help students get involved in other electives and clubs. “[By being in yearbook], you immediately know what’s happening in so many clubs,” said Saeed. SHS’s professional photographer cannot be everywhere at once, so students may need to go out to get pictures for their pages. “I joined The Log staff my freshman year because I like taking pictures and art. I thought I might want to do something with graphic design as a career,” said Rachel Klein, 11, co-Weeks Editor.

to be able to record the year in history and earn national awards. “I took this class because I wanted to help create the yearbook. I love being a part of documenting important events throughout this year. It is upsetting that I am a senior and cannot be on yearbook staff again,” said Ishwar Natarajar, 12, staff member.

JOURNALISM CLASSES WORK WITH other companies to be able to get the job done. One example is McDaniel’s Photography who supply pictures for every event at SHS. These pictures range from sports events to fundraisers.

Lauren Glynn

Skills for future

While working on The Log, some yearbook staffers even get information about clubs they wish to be in.


Taking part in the The Log allows teenagers to be a part of documenting celebrations and unforgettable moments and writing published history of SHS. “By being a part of the yearbook staff, I get to express how I view high school. I write down memories of the year and people five, ten, 50 years from now will get to see and appreciate it,” said Saeed. Deciding to be a part of this class teaches software, design and writing skills students never would have imagined they could have learned to use. No prior experience is needed

Most classes taken throughout school make students feel like they just need to pass the course and move on, but in terms of preparing

Top 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

themselves for the future, they do not get much out of those classes in the long run. Yearbook lets students express themselves in a way that other classes cannot. “I feel extremely prepared to go to college next year because I have the skill sets to succeed in an environment like that and I attribute the skills to what I have learned while being on and leading the staff,” said Saeed. Yearbook journalism is an amazing opportunity and any student pursuing a career in graphic design should consider taking this class.

reasons to join The Log

Be published in a national award winning book Get involved at SHS

Document what people will remember for decades Work with cutting edge software

No tests or exams All Images by Lauren Glynn

Since I have been on staff for The Leaf, I have gained writing skills along with creativity.

Being a part of The Log has helped me become more efficient and work well with others to meet deadlines.

-Eli Zawatsky, 9 The Leaf staff writer

Top 1. 2. 3. 4.

-Taylor Gardner, 10 The Log Sports Editor

reasons to join The Leaf

Get published online and in an award winning newspaper Improve writing, designing and marketing skills Hands-on practice with broadcast equipment Boost your resume


Journalism has opened my eyes to so many ideas and technologies that have allowed me to see things in a new light.

I’m still learning more and more every day. I never regret joining yearbook. It has become my passion.

-Nakul Narendran, 10 The Leaf Sports Chief

onvergence Journalism is an organization of writing in which various platforms of media, print, web, and broadcast combine to create larger journalistic projects. The Leaf is SHS’s student run newspaper. “Originally I took this class for the writing, not expecting the great experience with design, marketing, and video. It has been a thrill getting to tell SHS’s stories though these media, constantly reassessing our methods,” said Ellie Goldman, 12, coEditor-in-Chief.

Chances to be taken

Being a part of the convergence class gives students many opportunities. Students gain an English elective credit. “Today I look back and I am proud of what I accomplished in this class. Not only have I picked up skills that help me stand out from others, but I have learned how to communicate with others and create lasting relationships,” said Aditi Sharma, 12, Managing Editor.

-Nikita Tandon, 11 The Log Weeks Editor

Students that decide to take advantage of this course will improve their journalistic and writing skills and have multiple ways to enter contests to earn money for college. “I joined journalism because I knew it would open doors for me, but I did not expect that it would offer so much that I would have never known about if I was not in this course,” said Astrid Cabello, 9, staff writer.


Contributing to The Leaf is partially about the reporting and writing and also about designing pages using Adobe software programs. “I joined my freshman year because it sounded interesting. Plus I enjoyed writing, but I soon learned that the class had so much more to offer. It just got better the more involved I got,” said Kathryn Lothrop, 11, Business Manager. Having the knowledge of these programs will make any student stand out when applying for college. “Being sports chief for The Leaf is great for me. I get to work with the thing I love the most, and practice some leadership skills that will help me in future,” said Michael Saxon, 11, Sports Chief.

Journalism is a great way to give your thoughts power and let them be heard. Plus you get free candy. -Sanika Vaidya, 11 The Leaf Associate Editor

Being a part of the website is another way to get SHS’s stories out there. is used to get adolescents from SHS published online. Some convergence students even have blogs, while others write current news on sports, clubs, and other SHS related content. If students do not want to be a part of the newspaper, they can work as a webmaster and help run The last platform of Convergence is broadcast. Students have the chance to write scripts, use prompters and create news reports and public service announcements.

Coming together

Every week of the school year students are required to write a story of about 150 to 300 words. These are called beats. In convergence, beats are posted online and made into videos and even pages for the paper. “This class has benefited me more than any other class I have taken,” said Kelsey King, 12, Broadcast Editor-inChief. Convergence Journalism has so much to offer, whether it is looking at the graphic design or the writing aspect. Students are invited to assist the the strengthening of the student voice.

A&E >>the sycamore leaf >>

Upcoming local events:

1.31.2013 Poetry Out Loud Poetry recitation/ performance SHS Feb. 8 @ 7 p.m.

‘Django’ just right: Michael Saxon


sports chief

s I was driving with my family to Rave Cinemas in West Chester to see “Django Unchained,” my mom began pulling up comments on her smart phone about the film that already seemed to be making headlines within its first week of being released. My family was told, according to Spike Lee, that we should all hate Quentin Tarantino’s controversial film because it was “disrespectful to [our] ancestors.” Because of this, I went into the film with a negative attitude. I was ready to despise it, ready to spit on it, ready to call it “disrespectful,” as Lee did. But, I could not. One of the main reasons why Spike Lee took such an aggressive stance against the film was its use of the n-word, said over 100 times in the film. This, partnered with the cruel depiction of slavery, made for an unpleasant 165 minutes for some moviegoers. “The way Tarantino threw around the n-word made me uncomfortable, especially since I was sitting next to an African – American girl in the theater. I felt like the feeling was somewhat mutual too. It restricted me from enjoying the whole movie,” said Brian Cleary, 11. However, it is not as if the n-word was uncommon back in the antebellum South. In my opinion, Tarantino would be doing more of an injustice to slavery by limiting the number of times it is used. The fact that it is not, generates a more accurate depiction of the times back then. My only problem, however, is that this

Abigail/1702 Play Playhouse in the Park Jan. 31 @ 8 p.m.

Josh Groban Live: All That Echoes Concert Newport on the Levee 20 Feb. 4, 7 pm

Michael DeMaio

staff writer

Sing for an early spring

COMING OUT ON CHRISTMAS Day, “Django Unchained” has already generated an immense amount of controversy. The film’s depiction of slavery and its use of the n-word offended many, including acclaimed film director, Spike Lee. Lee called the film that was nominated for five Oscars, “disrespectful to [his] ancestors.” Image by Krittika Chatterjee

‘A good life need not be a long one’

Death brings character life Alexis Corcoran

opinion chief

Strings smash stage again Caroline Gao

staff writer

After stunning audience members twice, members of the Sycamore Electric Ensemble 1 (SEE1) are at it again. SEE1 is the first electric ensemble in the state of Ohio. It consists of members who enjoy making music on nontraditional instruments. “It really is a great experience. You can hang out with your friends while doing something you truly enjoy, creating new music with new types of instruments,” said Won Choi, 10. SEE1 performs using electrical string instruments, rather than ordinary instruments, and performs rock and pop as opposed to classical music. Members also have a chance to improvise as they are playing. SEE1 has performed twice, the first time during SHS’s Variety Show, and the second at SHS Orchestra’s annual Winter Concert. Players are looking forwards to their main performance taking place on Feb. 22.

“When I feel the spotlight on me it makes my whole body excited. I am always eager to perform and can’t wait for our big show in February, and even more shows after that,” said Jessica Wei, 9. There are a total of 13 members, in the positions of violinists, violists, cellists, drummers, guitarists, base players, and keyboard players. Members also vary in grade level from freshman to senior. “Watching SEE1 perform felt like a fantasy. Hearing all the different sounds made it really interesting to listen to, not something you would be able to hear any other day,” said Priscilla Wu, 9. SEE1 has evolved over the past years, improving visually and containing a better group atmosphere. Players meet once a week to practice songs for their concerts, although members also practice on their own. “You will have to hear it in person to truly understand how amazing SEE1 really is,” said Wu.

Overture Awards Final competitions The Aronoff Center - Joseph Vaz, 10 - Jacqueline Tso, 11 - Elliot Handkins, 12

Film impresses diverse audience despite controversy

accuracy was not maintained throughout the entire movie. The main character, Django, played by Jamie Foxx, is characterized as a slave-gone-wild. He breaks from the confinements of slavery and tries to free his wife by spilling as much blood of slave-owners as possible. While this makes for an entertaining and action packed movie, it is just not realistic. At the beginning of the film, it was rather hard for me to wrap my head around this: a gun-slinging slave? Yeah, right. But, once I accepted it, it was easier to enjoy the movie and really take in all the different aspects of it. “Django Unchained” is your typical western. It has it all – romance, action, suspense, gore, and comedy (see Samuel L. Jackson). The soundtrack even features music from Rick Ross, James Brown, and 2Pac. I would close this with the cliché that “Django” is a movie that everyone will enjoy, but I would be lying. This movie is not for everybody. I can see why people would be offended, and the film does have its flaws. But, when Tarantino was making this movie, he did not intend for it to be a history lesson; viewers should not take it as such. In society today, we like to assume that everything is done for some deeper reason, even a western film. Tarantino made “Django Unchained” for one reason: enjoyment. And he definitely accomplished this task.

Photo courtesy of McDaniel’s Photography

WHY? Concert Taft Theatre Feb. 8 @ 10 p.m. $15 ($12 in advance)


It was probably the 70th time I watched the movie trailer for “Now is Good” starring Dakota Fanning unveiling her British accent and Jeremy Irvine when I stumbled across the novel that inspired the film available only in the UK. “Before I Die” by Jenny Downham is the story of terminal cancer victim, Tessa, making a list of things to do before she dies. Tessa finds out through the people closest to her that the things that defined our lives are not what she had always believed. I can honestly say this novel was not what I expected. It was much less of an oozing romance novel so much as a cancer victim book. I generalize this genre intentionally. As a John Green fan, it was hard not to compare “Before I Die” to his most recent book “The Fault in Our Stars.” Both novels portray nonglorified teenagers with cancer. Green often says in interviews that full lives do not have to be long ones, and that he wrote “The Fault in our Stars,” to portray such a life. “I wanted to argue that a good life need not be a long

one,” said Green on his website. Tessa also talks a lot about living a full life. One of the ways she discovers fulfillment in life is through Adam, her neighbor and lover. Adam barely appears in the first half of the book; I read the entire book on Thanksgiving, and it frustrated me that this romance novel took so long to realize its romance. Now I see that Downham was very deliberate with her introduction of Adam. Each character imparts in Tessa one aspect of life’s fulfillment. Adam introduces romantic love. As for the romance, Downham confronted the teenage romance without gagging readers with clichés. The highlight of this novel from a literary perspective is the dying days of our narrator Tessa. She falls in and out of consciousness to record the last ideas of her brother and Adam. Downham writes in abrupt sentences and leaves half-pages blank. Tessa is alive but cannot quite narrate her life anymore. I finished this book in one day. The middle of the novel becomes more difficult to read because Tessa is tired and moody, but readers should stick around until the beautiful ending.

January has proven painfully cold, making it seem like the darkest winter in a while. However, warmer temperatures are ahead and with them comes a different vibe in life and in music. It seems as if Mother Nature is confused about the seasons and will be sending us 52 degree days with only slightly colder mornings. And, in light of this oddly timed spring awakening, I would like to suggest some music that may help to ease the transition. The New Originals, a Chicago based band, have been making their own wonderful brand of indie rock for quite some time now and definitely deserve your attention. Their newest EP “Good Fences Good Neighbors” will have you dancing for spring in no time. The new Toro Y Moi album recently leaked and will definitely put a hop in your step. I would definitely suggest hopping over to your favorite place to download leaked music and grabbing it. Jai Paul’s two singles “BTSU” and “Jasmine” are both very likeable and will assist you in bringing the funk back into your life. Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky, Jeremiah Jae, and The Underachievers are really bringing something new to the hip hop world, and are truly pushing it into this new year. I have also started appreciating Tame Impala, Atlas Sound, and Animal Collective a lot more than usual. And, if the cold does finally set in, I would really suggest some Erik Satie or Debussy to compliment the cold until spring actually comes. Hopefully this will hold you over until next month, talk to you then.

For more of Michael’s work, visit michael-demaio/beats/ For comments and suggestions on this column, please write to



Boys swimming 4 >> Team strives for fourth straight GMC championship


Freshman basketball Girls swimming 4 4 Opinion >> Team powered >> Boys adjust to by new swimmers in high school pace, quest for GMC title look to finish season


History repeats itself in Te’O’s girlfriend scandal Michael Saxon

sports chief

When I learned of the Manti Te’O hoax, my first impulse was to laugh. A fake girlfriend? Really? I continued to laugh when I saw pictures of the new trend, “Te’O-ing,” a gesture which involves extending your arm around an invisible girlfriend. I still laughed when I heard rumors that Te’O faked his girlfriend in order to keep up with the girls of college quarterbacks Collin Klein and AJ McCarron. Then I saw how Notre Dame rushed to defend their star linebacker amidst the hoax. I stopped laughing. Regardless as to whether I view Te’O as the perpetrator or the victim of a ‘catfish’ scandal (I’m still not sure, actually), I must admit how awful it was to see the school practically trip over itself calling a lastminute press conference and hiring a private investigator beforehand. Many feel that Notre Dame was doing the right thing because they were protecting one of their athletes. That’s giving the school way too much credit. They were not protecting their athletes; they were protecting the football program, and the millions of dollars it brings to the school. The mentality sounds familiar, does it not? (Cough, cough Penn State). While a pseudo–girlfriend will never be as serious as child abuse, the hoax is still strikingly similar. And the mindset of “athletes first” is not a unique trait for Notre Dame or Penn State. More recently, Steubenville released two high school football players who were accused of rape. Just sickening if you ask me. Sports are not everything, despite our believing that they are. We cannot keep putting athletes and athletic programs on a pedestal only to watch them come tumbling down time after time. I’m not suggesting that we boycott sports. To do so would be impossible, especially for me. But, we need to be careful not to place too much emphasis on sports, especially in towns or areas where there is an inordinate amount of support for a particular sport or program. Notre Dame refused to learn from the mistakes of Penn State. I hope the rest of us don’t do the same. For comments on this column, please email

All images by Michael Saxon


MOLLY GEARIN, 10, ELEVATES off the balance beam during one of her competitions. Gearin, being the only member of the SHS gymnastics team, must travel to Cincinnati Country Day to practice with a team over there. “I’m pretty sure some people don’t even know we have a gymnastics team,” said Gearin.

Flying solo Lone gymnast represents SHS, has high hopes of qualifying for State

flipping yourself over the table. kind of like my team in a way,” It’s also my best event, which said Gearin. makes it even better,” said So far, Gearin has represented Gearin. SHS well. At the first meet of Although Gearin does not the season, Gearin placed third have SHS teammates, she is on vault, and was among the supported by many, especially top 15 in beam and floor out of her coach and parents. Gearin’s 160 participants. friends have even come to her Gearin will continue to work Ellen Martinson meets. until Districts in February. fun & games chief “Instead of me just talking At Districts, gymnasts add in about it, my friends finally got the skills that they have been ne athlete has to see me in action, which I working on throughout the the success of an was really happy about,” said season. Gearin can qualify for entire SHS athletic Gearin. State by placing in any of the program riding on Along with local supporters, events, or all-around. her shoulders. Molly Gearin, Gearin also has the support “My main goal this year is 10, is one of a kind at SHS; she of fellow competitors. As to make it to State. Last year I is the only athlete on the entire a previous club gymnast only missed it by a little, and gymnastics team. at Queen City Gymnastics, this year I’m really motivated. “I’m pretty sure some people Gearin’s old My best chance to make it is for don’t even teammates floor,” said Gearin. know we are now Whether or not she makes it My main goal this year is to have a some of to State, Gearin has definitely gymnastics make it to State. Last year I her current made the most of her oneteam,” said only missed it by a little, and competitors. woman team. Gearin. “Seeing this year I’m really motivated. Solo Scan here with a old smartphone for gymnastics Molly Gearin, 10 teammates more information teams are at meets on Molly Gearin’s nothing and seeing how far they’ve season new to SHS, as there has always progressed is really fun. We all been a lack of participants. Like cheer each other on, and they’re Gearin, Sara Wesselkamper, ’12, competed alone during her junior year. Since SHS does not have a gymnastics gym, Gearin travels to Cincinnati Country Day on a daily basis to practice with their team. There, she is trained by Coach Steve Connor, who encourages Gearin to be the best gymnast possible. “I’m really excited to be working with Coach Connor again this year. As a former gymnast he knows what he’s talking about, and with his help I think the rest of the season will go well,” said Gearin. The gymnastics season lasts from December to the beginning of March, although practices are held year round. Gymnasts compete in four events: vault, floor, beam, and uneven bars. Gearin’s favorite is vault. MOLLY GEARIN SMILES AS she finishes one of her floor routines. In “Vault is pretty simple, which addition to a floor routine, Gearin also practices beam, uneven bars, and I like. There’s not a whole lot vault. Gearin said of the vault event, “There’s not a whole lot to it other to it other than the skill and


than the skill and flipping yourself over the table.”

Sports >>the sycamore leaf >>

Upcoming SHS Sporting Events Feb. 1 Boys basketball @ Mason 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 Girls basketball vs. Oak Hills 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 Wrestling @ Oak Hills *GMC Championships* 7:00 a.m. Feb. 5 Boys basketball vs. Lakota East 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 5 Girls bowling @ CHCA 3:30 p.m.

Feb. 6 Girls basketball @ Anderson 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 7 Boys bowling vs. Summit 3:30 p.m. Feb. 8 Boys swimming @ Mason *Sectionals* 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 Boys basketball vs. Oak Hills 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 Girls swimming @ Mason *Sectionals* 9:30 a.m. Feb. 21 Girls diving @ Canton *State* 9:00 a.m. Feb. 22 Wrestling @ Fairfield *Districts* 12:00 p.m. Feb. 23 Diving @ Canton *State* 9:00 a.m. Events according to GMC Sports site or respective online schedules

sports >>the sycamore leaf >>

‘May the fourth be with them’

1.31.2013 17

Boys swimming prepares to win fourth consecutive GMC Ethan May


staff writer

t has been three years since any school other than SHS has won the GMC Championship in mens swimming. On Feb. 2, the boys Varsity swim team will attempt to win the GMC Championship for the fourth year in a row. Winning for the fourth consecutive time does not look too far off for the team, considering they are going into the meet ranked first in seven different events. Many of those first places are from leading swimmer Charles Fry, 12. “I am really pumped for the meet. The guys are all doing really well and I know we will step up, do our jobs, and bring home the trophy once again,” he said. Another senior, Xavier Jimenez, is a returning GMC champion in the 100 yard backstroke and is seeded to win for a second year in a row. “There is a lot more pressure this year than there was last year, but I am going in with a clear and focused head. I will give my competition a great race,” said Jimenez. The team has many other swimmers who may not win, but can score and have an impact on whether the team will win or lose. Rick Niu, 10, Aaron Abraham, 12 and Venkaat Naresh, 12 are all returning GMC placers and are expected to score points, helping the team to victory.

“As a sophomore, I am excited to get to swim at GMC Championships for a second time. I am looking forward to seeing what I can do, and hopefully I will be able to score in the top eight to help lead my team to a fourth straight GMC Championship,” said Niu. SHS will go into the GMC as the top team, which can be looked at from both a positive and a negative stand point. On one end, the team is expected to win. However, being in first means the

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swimmers will essentially have targets on their backs, meaning other swimmers will want to beat them even more. “As the top team in the GMC for three years running, everyone will be gunning for us, but I think we have what it takes to pull off a victory,” said Fry. The boys will go for their fourth GMC championship in a row on Feb. 2. After that they will swim in the Sectional meet. This decides who will go to Districts, then from Districts on to State. AARON ABRAHAM, 12, SWIMS the breastroke during a meet against Turpin High School. Abraham swam the 100 yard breastroke, the 200 yard medley relay, and the 200 freestyle relay. Abraham has swam at Districts every year, and is training to make the state tournament,which will be held Feb. 22 and 23.

Photo courtesy of McDaniel’s Photography

Reality Check

Who is your pick to win the Super Bowl, and why? Michael Saxon

Alexander Wittenbaum

sports chief

I’m getting tired of Ray Lewis’ drama. It seems that after every game, he puts on a show and starts crying. It’s getting to be a bit excessive, and I can’t believe people are actually buying into it. The Ravens are a good team, but they’re not good enough to beat the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick has proven that he can handle the pressure, something that I originally thought he was incapable of. He has given the 49ers multiple ways to score. His play, complemented by the running game of Frank Gore, will prove to be too much for the Ravens. The Harbaugh Bowl will be a bashing identical to the BCS National Championship. The 49ers will be champs. Nakul Narendran sports chief

This year belongs to Ray Lewis, Ravens linebacker. The Baltimore Ravens will play a high-intensity, high-scoring game against another talented team in the San Francisco 49ers, and they will come out flying on top. Lewis has led his team against three of the top quarterbacks in the league, including future hallof-famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. As a Bengals fan, obviously I’m not too overjoyed about one of our rivals winning it this year, but there is some AFC North pride involved. Lewis has got to be one of my favorite players, and I strongly believe this year was meant to be his.

staff writer

I think that the 49ers will win the battle of the Harbaughs. Going into the Super bowl, they have the biggest weapons to help them secure a victory. Starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, leads an explosive offense with the help of Frank Gore, the running back. Throughout the postseason alone, he has completed 64 percent of his passes, and has thrown for five touchdowns, not to mention rushing for another two. On defense, the team is led by linebacker, Patrick Willis, who has 19 total tackles and one sack this postseason. Jim Harbaugh will lead his team over his brother’s, the Baltimore Ravens. I am predicting the final score to be 24-10, Niners. Easy. Elizabeth Rickert staff writer

It’s rare that you will see a better match up of two strong offenses than in this Super Bowl. Both the Ravens and the 49ers have strong offenses, but the Ravens have something the 49ers do not. They have a defense to support their offense. The veterans along the line will help to keep Colin Kaepernick, 49ers quarterback, inside the pocket at all times. Ray Rice, Ravens running back, is extremely talented, and he’s going to be able to find gaps in the defensive line of the 49ers. I want the Ravens to win so badly; I want to see Ray Lewis, leader and motivator of the Ravens, cry one last time before he goes into retirement. I want to see him go out with a bang.

For suggestions on what should be debated in the next Reality Check, please email

Frustrated fan Joey Slovin staff writer

Immediately following the Bengals’ heartbreaking playoff loss just a few weeks ago, the city of Cincinnati simply dumped their sorrows on quarterback Andy Dalton, in a sad attempt to move on with their lives after the conclusion of football season. The following statement is extremely blunt, and I warn all kind-hearted sports souls to stop reading immediately: The Bengals have awful fans. Terrible people, they are. I’m not saying that Cincinnati is the home to all bad sports fans, but when your destination is Paul Brown Stadium, you know that you are headed for misery. Let me be clear about this. That last Bengals game was not Dalton’s fault. Tight end Jermaine Gresham should have hauled in several of the passes that Dalton delivered perfectly to him. Anyone who says Dalton is to blame is an uneducated fan, and probably also the same type of person who believes Marvin Lewis is actually a good head coach. Which brings me to my next point. I hate Lewis’s coaching style. He is the reason why the Bengals are not winning. And don’t try to tell me that he is the winningest coach in Bengals history. He also has a losing record as the head coach. Let that sink in for a little bit. The winningest coach in Bengals history has a losing record. Why does he still have a job, you ask? If you ask me, it’s because, in the words of Buzz Lightyear, “There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere,” (at least within the Bengals organization). No, in all seriousness. The reason for the delay in Lewis’s firing is because of team owner Mike Brown. That guy has about as much football intelligence in his entire body as Dalton has in a single one of those bright red hairs. Dalton is a very footballsmart guy, despite his critics’ ignorant claims. Brown is the team owner merely because his daddy, Paul Brown, practically invented football in Ohio (You may have heard of him, ever been to the Bengals’ stadium?) You want an answer, Cincinnati? Here’s your answer. As unrealistic as it may be, promote Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to head coach, and demote Lewis to defensive coordinator. Lewis has some experience at that position. After a few years as defensive coordinator, reevaluate his performance, and then ponder giving him the axe. For comments on this column, please write to

F 18

>>the sycamore leaf >> sports

resh start, fresh men


reshman basketball team ready to finish season strong

Andrew Cardenas staff writer

Eli Zawatsky

staff writer


ost people have been in a position in their lives where it looks as if they do not have much hope left. That is how the freshman basketball team started out this year, with a losing record. However, they are far from giving up. “The reason we didn’t have successful games early on in the season was because we didn’t have chemistry with each other,” said Paul Kellar, 9. Due to the separation of the teams at Sycamore Junior High School, this is the first time that many of the freshman players have played on a team together.

Completing Tryouts

At the high school level, tryouts are a part of sports. One can not just decide to play a sport and immediately play at the top level. Basketball is no exception. Tryouts are an especially nerve-wracking experience for freshmen, who are trying to begin their high school careers. They must learn new drills, play with new players, and discover a whole different game of basketball, a rough transition

from their eighth grade season. “Tryouts were at a faster pace compared to last year’s. We had to do a lot more running and it was more intense,” said Tariq Bawazir, 9. For the freshmen that made JV, adjusting to just being regular part of the team was difficult. They were used to taking the shots and being the superstars of their former teams.

Comparing SJHS and SHS basketball

“We definitely have to work a lot harder and pay more attention [than we did last year] to really understand the drills,” said Kenneth Wead, 9. The game at the high school level is definitely faster paced than any level the freshmen have played before. There are a few reasons for this: At the high school level, players are taller, stronger, faster, and more motivated. At SJHS, a lot of the players say they played to have fun and win, but mostly to socialize with their friends. In high school, most of the players agree that it is not mostly concentrated on the social part but instead the focus is on winning.

Looking ahead

“I think that we are going to get a lot better and become more familiarized with each others playing styles as we get older.

When we are seniors we will be really good because we have a lot of players who play for elite AAU teams and raise the standards for everyone at practice,” said Paul Stucker, 9. Coaches expect big things to come from the class of 2016. The freshman class has four players on JV. Many of the players participate on year round teams to improve their skills and to be able to compete with upperclassmen for spots on Varsity next season.

JOSEPH MATTIS, 9, DRIBBLES the ball during a game against Mason. Mattis has contributed to the team’s success by being a leader on the court and always getting his job done. “One of the things that makes Mattis successful is his brain. He makes quick on-the-spot decisions to get his team out of tough situations. He’s good at finding the open man and getting him the ball,” said Alan Carr, 9.


last time SHS won the GMC

Now that they are in high school, there are players better than them. It takes time to adjust from being the star, to being the player who is learning everyday, and who looks up to the upperclassmen on the team. “It goes without saying that every freshman hopes to one day be like the upperclasmen. When we are seniors, we hope that the freshmen will also look up to us,” Jack Gruden, 9.

6’3’’ average height

Scan here with smartphone for more information on the freshmen basketball team

of high school basketball players

Q&A with Ross Sferra, freshman basketball Head Coach What kind of qualities do you look for in your individual players and the team as a whole? We focus on attitude and effort. Those two things are pretty much the only thing you can control. If we take care of those two things I can deal with the outcome of the game. I want a player that’s going to work hard everyday, take interest in the team, and wants to continue to get better.

Neil Fountain, F

Alan Carr, C

Kevin Cochran, F

percentage of high school players go on to play in NCAA

Do you feel like you have a close relationship with past players? I am really fortunate to have great relationships with past players. I like watching them go on to the next levels and enjoy seeing them when they come back after graduation. At the end of the day, being a positive influence in each players life is what makes coaching great.

What kinds of things can you expect from a practice with your team? The players want to have fun but continue to improve. Keeping the players interested through a two hour practice is difficult, especially at the freshman level. For the most part, they come ready to go.

Why did you start coaching high school basketball? I love sports, love Sycamore, and had the chance to come on board.

Joseph Mattis, F

Jack Gruden, G

Johnathan Clay, G

Meet the team G=Guard



What are the different emotions that you feel during a game? You go from excited, to frustrated, to excited again. Sometimes you feel like you’re watching a team that’s not very well coached and sometimes you feel like the players are getting it. As the year goes on they start to understand what you want to see them do and the light bulb goes off. The key is to get to that point as quickly as possible. Hopefully, it at least happens before the final game.

Brandon Evans, G

Jovezz Ramsey, G

Paul Kellar, F


percentage of NCAA players who play in the NBA


Since your team is made up of all freshmen, is it hard having to get to know new kids every year and shaping them into a team? One of the interesting aspects of coaching the freshmen team is not really knowing how you will be going into the year.You have players still getting used to the high school as well as adjusting to playing sports at the high school level. Getting to know the kids is fairly easy. I definitely enjoy watching them grow on and off the court and continuing to develop for the years to come.


Kevin Kohmescher, F

Chi’kah Washinton, C

Paul Stucker, F All images by Eli Zawatsky

number of high school players that have gone directly to the NBA Source:

sports >>the sycamore leaf >>


Girls swim team dives into training


Preparation for GMC title motivates girls inside, outside of pool

practices with the team. They train at St. Xavier High School with assistant coach Mike Wenert and Marlins head coach Chris Wolford. Time in the pool is not the only thing strengthening the Varsity team. They have been getting together after practice and on weekends for pasta dinners, pancake breakfasts, Secret Santa parties, and other bonding activities. All this time spent together in and out of the pool has created an extremely cohesive group. “We just finished winter training, and the practices were tough. But at the end of the season, I think all that work will pay off. We spend so much time together as a team and I have so much fun,” said Jory Gould, 9, a key member of several relays. The girls came up short in the 2012 season. They were a close second in the GMC behind Mason High School. With the addition of several new freshman swimmers to an already strong roster, this may be the group’s year to win the championship. “At big meets, it can be intimidating at times because there are so many great swimmers that I race against. In the end, I think it is fun to race upperclassmen and see how well I do,” said Gould. The GMC swim championships for the Varsity girls and boys swim teams will be held Feb. 2 at Mason High School.

Anna Moreno


staff writer

he Varsity girls swim team has been working hard to win the GMC championship. The team practices six days a week with additional morning practices that include weight lifting sessions and stroke work. “The girls are really training hard. Their relays look especially good. They are a committed group and are focused on swimming fast and winning the GMC,” said Joe Moreno, 10. Most of the girls on the team train at the SHS pool with Dr. Daniel Carl, head coach. A few girls swim with the Cincinnati Marlins and cannot make

1 2

1.) JORDAN ELDER, 11, HAS been swimming for Varsity since she was a freshman. Her specialty is freestyle.


2.)Katie Caldwell, 12, is a backstroker on the Varsity team. She is known for her leadership and team spirit. 3.) Jory Gould, 9, swims with the Varsity team. She has been a great addition to the team and is on two of the three ‘A’ relays that are expected to make State.


4.) (Pictured from left to right) Priscilla Wu, 9, Mary Frye, 9, Jory Gould, 9, Cara Norris, 10, and Annie Moreno, 9, are all teammates on the SHS Varsity swim team. Although they are all underclassmen, they are some of the fastest swimmers on Varsity.

Images by McDaniels Photography

p e ACT r p

Past haunts players’ futures Nakul Narendran sports chief

For the first time since 1965, there will be no living inductees into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame due to the outcome of the 2013 voting results. My reaction? To be honest, I don’t really pay attention to baseball. But, I go to Reds games, I know who Pete Rose is, and I’m aware of the drug scandals of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens due to my countless hours of watching Sports Center. It does interest me, however, that such measures are taken to increase a player’s success. If you care about winning enough to outright cheat in such a manner, just quit the sport. It only shows that you aren’t good enough to win on your own, and don’t have the drive to improve. Bonds and Clemens, two of the most famous players of their time, were both involved in scandals involving performance-enhancing drugs, preventing them from being inducted into the renowned HOF. Receiving under 75 percent of the vote was just what they deserved. Members of the HOF should not only be talented on the field, but good-hearted off the field as well. If anyone deserved to be elected in, it was Craig Biggio. But it’s all about making the right choices, and sadly Bonds and Clemens failed to do so.

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20 1.31.2013

‘I honestly cannot choose between them’ Spotlight Kramer revels in horseback riding, performing arts Kathryn Tenbarge


spotlight chief

ince she was five, horseback riding felt like an intrinsic part of Kayla Kramer’s life. “My aunt in Arizona runs a horse farm with programs for kids with special needs. When I was little, I used to visit her and she would teach me about riding and horses,” said the freshman. Later in her life, when Kramer’s Girl Scout troop visited Green Acres in Indian Hill, she learned that summer riding camp was available there. Five years later, she continues to ride and compete. “There’s a big competition I go to in June called Mega Rally. The competitions are actually a lot harder than people think,” said Kramer. Not only do competitors need to have riding skill, they must also possess knowledge about the horses themselves, including diet, how to treat injuries, and maintenance.

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While she has not played a role in an SHS performance yet, Kramer continues to act at The Children’s Theatre of Mason. Coincidentally, their latest production is also “The Little Mermaid.” “What I love about acting and singing is performing in front of a crowd. That’s what I tell people with stage fright-- they can see you, but you can’t see them,” said Kramer. With such a busy schedule, Kramer has had to make sacrifices in order to keep up with the activities she loves. “However, if I had to choose between acting and horseback riding, I honestly don’t think I could. They are both huge parts of my life,” said Kramer.

WHILE AT SYCAMORE JUNIOR High School, Kramer had a major role as Kim McAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie” (top). She has also performed with The Children’s Theatre of Mason, with parts such as Plato in “Cats” (top right). Other performances with Sycamore include playing Tweedledum in “Alice in Wonderland” with her younger sister playing Tweedledee, and the role of Kendra in “13.” At Green Acres in Indian Hill, Kramer leases and rides a thoroughbred, Johnny (left). The image was taken during the warm-up for a competition. Kramer competes in various categories, including jumping and dressage.

Sharing expertise

Kramer often exchanges her riding crop for costumes. Even though she is no longer able to perform with the Sycamore Junior High School theater department, Kramer is still able to participate. “After performing in the musical ‘13’ at the Junior High, Ms. [Kylie] Parks, who’s in charge of the theater program, asked me to come back next year and be a student director for the next production,” said Kramer. She agreed to take the job and is currently working with the cast and crew of “The Little Mermaid.” The position includes helping with make-up, costumes, and tech, as well as assisting the cast with their roles. “I’ve learned so much even though I’m not acting. I just help out with anything and everything,” said Kramer.

All images by Kathryn Tenbarge

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January 2013 Issue of The Sycamore Leaf  
January 2013 Issue of The Sycamore Leaf  

January 2013 Issue of The Sycamore Leaf