The Pingry Record - March 2024

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CELEBRATING TOGETHER Students Let Loose at Snowball


On Saturday, January 24, students came together for the annual Snowball Winter Dance. This event has been much anticipated over the past few weeks; students bought tickets, picked out their outfits (many consulting the @bigbluesnowballdresses Instagram page), and asked out dates. Students spent their afternoons getting ready and snapping pictures with family and friends. At around 7:00 p.m., students arrived at the Westin Governor Morris in Morristown.

Upon checking in their coats, partygoers headed into the hallway outside the ballroom, where they found an assortment of food options. Students sampled various dishes, including pasta, dumplings, and tacos, as they greeted friends. The french fry and burger station was a fanfavorite, with many students returning for seconds. There was also a soft drink cart that

served piña coladas, soda, and the iconic Shirley Temple. After a bite to eat, the dance floor was calling. Following the directions of the DJ, students began storming the dance floor to some of the latest hits in music. An upbeat playlist including “Fe!N” by Travis Scott, “Low” by Flo Rida, and “Starships” by Nicki Minaj brought everyone to their feet. Next to the dance floor was a photo booth, where groups of students tried on different signs and struck funny poses

as strips of polaroids were printed. Students tired of dancing by the end of the event were treated to an ice cream bar with a sweet selection of toppings.

After the dance, students collected their belongings and headed out. Some went straight home while others went to afterparties or sleepovers with friends. For everyone, Snowball was an excellent way for the student body to enjoy themselves after the end of a long first semester.



Jingjing Luo (V)

Many students reported feeling closer to their peers after the dance. According to Malcom Adedjouma (V), “I felt like I bonded with those around me.” It was also a great way to de-stress: “The first semester is always so stressful, so I enjoyed being able to dance and have fun with my friends. In a way, it was like a celebration,” said Avan Khan (V). Snowball, once again, has brought our student body closer together.

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NEWS, Page 2-4
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Gabriel Raykin (IV)
Day Messages Page 12; by our community
We Should Embrace
COMMENTARY, Page 5-8 Why
2 + 2 = 5
Shah (V) Navigating the Way Through Egg Tarts
Volume CXLIX — No. III
Photo Credits (Top to Bottom, Left to Right): Lizzy Nikitin (V), Pingry Communications, Google Images

Balladeers and Buttondowns Perform at Christ Church


On January 21, the Balladeers and Buttondowns performed at Christ Church in Short Hills, serving as the church’s choir for their Sunday sermon. They performed many religious pieces, including “Praise to God,” “Zion's Walls,” and “Diraton,” some of which they also performed at the Winter Festival earlier this school year. Both groups were directed by Upper School Vocal Music and Balladeers Director Mr. Jay Winston and


On Friday, January 26, the Balladeers Music Directors, Saniya Kamat (VI) and Francesca Zarbin (VI), hosted the second annual Balladeers Karaoke CP. Students gathered in the Upper School Commons to listen to their peers sing songs ranging from Disney songs to hip-hop.

accompanied by Upper School Vocal Music and Buttondowns Director Dr. Andrew Moore.

After the sermon, the two groups performed their own individual a capella pieces at the church’s coffee hour. The Balladeers performed “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, arranged by Balladeers co-music director Saniya Kamat (VI), and the Buttondowns performed “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay with soloists Rahil Kakar (VI) and William Overdeck (IV). For many years, the performance

at the church has been a unique opportunity for the Balladeers and Buttondowns to expand their musical repertoire and style while having fun performing with their friends and peers. Kamat gave some insight regarding the performance, saying, “I enjoyed being able to share one of my last performances as a Balladeer with so many of my close friends, and I will truly miss performing together at the church.”

Mr. Winston added, “I always feel that any opportunity to participate in anything outside

of the walls of The Pingry School is beneficial to the Balladeers’ growth, as it connects you as people and musicians outside, or, rather, beyond our walls. The same can be said for our competitive trips and our caroling.” He also mentioned that when the Balladeers and Buttondowns get the opportunity to perform together as the “Pingry Glee Club,” they become a stronger ensemble, and it allows the students in both groups to connect with each other and work as a single entity.

Balladeers Karaoke CP

Some highlights of the event included Caleb Kalafer (III) on his rendition of “I’m Just Ken” from this year’s blockbuster movie Barbie, as well as Ngozi Nnaeto (VI) and Amara Emmanuel (III), who showed off their rap skills with Ice Spice’s Deli. Emanuel Masache (III) hilariously combined comedy and music with “Tequila” by

the Champs — a song whose only lyric is, unsurprisingly, “tequila.” Kamat brought one of the biggest names of 2023, Taylor Swift, to the stage with “Haunted.” She also carried on Disney’s strong representation at Karaoke CP and sang Elsa’s iconic song “Let It Go” from Frozen before duetting with Kelly Cao (VI) on “When Will My Life Begin” from Rapunzel.

Karaoke CP provided a fun break for the Pingry community amidst a busy time of year. It created a platform for students to show off their incredible singing talents in a lively setting and allowed people who were not as confident in their singing abilities to push their boundaries in a safe and casual setting.

When asked about her

Word In The Halls

What will you be doing over spring break?

Malcolm Adedjouma (V)

“I’m going to run the LA marathon for the Alzheimer’s Association on March 17th!!”

Ms. Copin

“My sister and her husband are coming to visit NY, and then I’m going to Montreal to visit my friend.”

Jada Watson (VI)

“I’m going to Singapore to see Taylor Swift and my friends!”

“Performing for and giving your talents to the community teaches you and reminds you that music is something to be shared, that music benefits community, that music creates community, and that, regardless of one’s religious affiliation, music can bring people together.” Overall, the performance at Christ Church was an incredible way for the Balladeers and Buttondowns to gain further experience with more classical repertoire and connect with people outside the school community.

favorite part of Karaoke CP, Isabelle Chen (V) responded, “I enjoy seeing people step out of their comfort zone and sing.” Even as the crowd began to dwindle, many continued to approach the microphone as last-minute entries. Students went about the rest of the day with their favorite songs running through their heads.

Mr Keating

“I’m going to Paris with my family.”

Photo Credits (Left to Right): Carolyn Zhou (V), Jingjing Luo (V), Sriya Tallpragada (V)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day


On January 11, students of all ages gathered at Pingry’s Pottersville Campus to engage in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Several nonprofit organizations and fundraising campaigns participated, spreading awareness about their missions and campaigns with help from the event’s organizer, Ms. Bianca Cabrera, Director of Service Learning and

Community Engagement. They set up tables with various activities for attendees to participate in with a goal of educating students about various causes.

Organizations that participated included Project Sweet Peas, an initiative to send support materials and care packages to Morristown Medical Center NICU families, and Gotham Scholars, which aims to provide classes and education for low-income students. Girls

Learn International, a feminist organization that advocates for women’s rights, also attended. Other participants included St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, an animal rescue center committed to saving the lives of animals and finding them loving homes, and BookSmiles, an organization dedicated to donating books to children in need.

Additionally, The Seeing Eye, an international nonprofit that trains seeing eye dogs to guide people who are blind and visually impaired, and A Birthday Wish, an organization that grants birthday wishes to children in foster care, participated. Avery Hoffman (IV), founder of A Birthday Wish, expressed her gratitude, saying, “Overall, MLK Day was a great success! Thank you to Ms. Cabrera for organizing a fun and impactful event, and thank you to everyone who contributed!”

PSPA Big Blue Pride AllSchool Community Skate

On Thursday, January 18, the PSPA hosted Pingry’s annual Big Blue Pride All-School Community Skate event at the Bridgewater Sports Arena. Students and families were encouraged to watch the girls’ and boys’ varsity ice hockey teams as they took on Westfield and Bridgewater-Raritan, respectively. The girls’ team, led by captains Alexis Glasofer (V), Charlotte Diemar (VI), Verna Mae Lange (VI), and Katie Niccolai (VI), along with Head Coach Mr. Rich Fuchs, won their game 10-2, adding another

win to their season record of 5-6-1 and placing them at #5 in the state. The boys’ team, led by captains Charlie Sherman (VI), Javi Trujillo (VI), and Evan Xie (VI), along with Head Coach Mr. Scott Garrow, also won their game with a final score of 5-1. Their season record is 8-3-1, and they are ranked #18 in the state. Snacks were given out during the games, and pizza was served afterward. The night ended on a high note as the rink was cleared for an open skate session, allowing the onlookers to skate freely for an hour and a half. Many students skated around with friends and family.


Photo Credits: Pingry Communications KEIRA CHEN (VI)
Beyoncé & Taylor albums
& Chilean exchange
points Taylor + Trey
100 points Career Day
New Year Assembly
the Woods
Bowl commercials
work on snow day
Plague Grammys
Service Alert Memos
Code violations
Lanyards Asynchronous


The United States, one of the strongest nations in the world, has higher poverty rates than any other advanced democracy. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Matthew Desmond, Professor of Sociology and founder of the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, explained the statistics and science behind America’s poverty rates when he delivered the John Hanly Lecture on Ethics and Morality on January 25.

His book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, and his latest work, Poverty, By America, is a New York Times Best Seller.

The John Hanly Lecture

He is also the recipient of various accolades including the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, and the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. In 2016, Politico listed Dr. Desmond in “The Fifty,” a list of fifty individuals “across the country who are most influencing the national political debate.”

Dr. Desmond presented several reasons for poverty’s persistence in the United States, arguing that the country had given up on its eradication. He displayed graphs which showed that poverty rates had only escalated over the past 40 years despite a steady uptick in the government's spending on anti-poverty measures. He also

pointed out that a significant amount of governmental assistance was failing to reach those in need, saying, “Part of government aid doesn’t reach the poor…There are people who could benefit, but don’t.”

He then criticized the nation's approach to subsidy, noting that the wealthy benefit from tax breaks far more than those in need, with the most affluent families receiving nearly 40% more in government subsidies, about $35,000, compared to the $25,000 received by the poorest families. Moreover, he described the segregation that occurs when communities are able to prevent the construction of affordable housing.

Dr. Desmond went on to


On February 5, 13 French students from Les Chartreux, a private school in Lyon, arrived in New Jersey after a ten-hour long flight from Munich. As part of an exchange program between the two schools, Pingry students picked up their host siblings and began building strong, intercultural relationships.

The following day, the French students accompanied their American buddies to school,

propose potential solutions, suggesting that significantly reducing the amount of government money going to the wealthiest Americans could make a substantial impact, emphasizing the nation's capability to alleviate poverty if wealth distribution were more equitable. “Our affluence is a primary reason for the extensive poverty,” he pointed out. He identified a practical measure: recovering unpaid federal income taxes from the rich, which could contribute immensely to the approximated $177 billion required to eradicate poverty. Additionally, he advocated for expanding housing options, declaring, “The walls around our communities have to go. Demolish these walls. Build affordable housing.” With that, he encouraged the audience to actively participate in local government meetings to support and defend the development of

Students Arrive From France!

“shadowing” them throughout the day. They experienced courses ranging from physics and math to English and drama and were led on a Blue Key tour of the school, exploring the pool, gyms, and outdoor areas. Throughout the day, the French students engaged with American students and faculty, and their different perspectives enlivened classroom discussions, particularly in English and history courses. Outside the classroom, the French students explored

famous landmarks around New Jersey and spent a day touring Princeton University and the surrounding town. The most anticipated trip by far was to New York City, where they visited Times Square, the Empire State Building, and went shopping. Yassara Agati, a French student, said, “I am very excited to go to New York City because I’ve never been before, and it’s like a dream because I’ve only seen the city behind my screens.” Other students expressed similar sentiments,

including Elya Selles, another exchange student, who described her vision of the city as a place “from the movies,” referring to the various Hollywood productions of life in an American high school.

After the planned activities ended, many French students attended sports games with their American buddies or traveled through suburban American shops. From eating açai bowls at Playa Bowls to drinking coffee from Dunkin Donuts, the French students found

affordable housing projects. Afterwards, Ethan Boroditsky (VI), Kate Marine (VI), Ally Smith (VI), and Divya Subramanian (VI) of the Honor Board, as well as David Gelber ’59 joined Dr. Desmond for a Q & A. Mr. Gelber is a former producer for CBS News’ 60 Minutes, executive producer of the climate change documentary Years of Living Dangerously, Pingry’s 2010 Letter-In-Life Award winner, and a twotime Hanly Lecture speaker. Dr. Desmond passionately conveyed that the responsibility to eliminate poverty lay with everyone, based on moral considerations linked to personal beliefs and life experiences. He made it clear that the continued existence of poverty should not be tolerated. To conclude his lecture, Dr. Desmond stated, “I want to end poverty. I don’t want to outsmart it. I want to out-hate it.”

themselves exposed to unique American cultural experiences and enjoyed observing how the bakery prices, coffee tastes, natural scenery, and cup sizes differed from those in Lyon.

French and American students formed a close-knit community through various meals together, a second trip to New York City together, and weekend dinners and events. The American students look forward to traveling to Lyon in a few weeks and completing the second half of the exchange!

Photo Credits: Pingry

Being saved by a lifeguard as a competitive swimmer is objectively one of the most mortifying events an 11-year-old can experience. Fortunately, I’ve had the unique privilege of being able to call myself one of the lucky few.

The ocean is the epitome of unpredictability, and I’ve always been simultaneously drawn to and intimidated by its waters. Considering my background as a former swimmer and current water polo player, my fear may seem counterintuitive — laughable, even. After all, I’ve always felt like the most intrepid six-year-old at the beach, ambitiously conquering the biggest and scariest of waves with my dad. I’d feel the full force of their impact just behind me as they crashed down, and the thrill of so narrowly escaping my demise only tempted me for more.


The first thing I learned in Kindergarten was the solution to a simple math problem: 2 + 2 = 4. But what if it equaled five? You may say that’s wrong, but consider statistician Kareem Carr’s stance that “our numbers, our quantitative measures, are abstractions of real underlying things in the universe, and it’s important to keep track of this when we use numbers to model the real world.” Although 2 + 2 = 4 is associated with real data, the equation itself is not concretely real, which means that relationships like this only represent the value we ascribe to them.

Figures throughout history and literature have used this equation as a fundamental truth to confirm the existence of logic

A young but fervent devotee of the RiordanVerse, the author Rick Riordan’s fantasy setting based on ancient myths from Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology, I longingly desired to be a daughter of Poseidon, dreaming up scenarios in which I’d be claimed by a glowing hologram above my head. While my bookworm fantasies may have sadly proved to be baseless, my fondness for the water never faded.

As I grew older, however, my inner caution began to catch up with my outward fearlessness, especially when navigating the ocean on my own. In A Series of Unfortunate Beach Trips, I was violently tossed around, wiped out, caught in a rip current, and, to my humiliation, even rescued by a lifeguard. As a result of these events, two things occurred: 1.) due to necessity, the ocean became a frequent place of worship, and 2.) I began to dread entering the water. Rather than admit my fear, I’d insist I liked it better in the sand. Being a self-proclaimed daredevil who proudly belonged to the Divergent faction of Dauntless, I had to keep up appearances. My tweenage reputation could not be tarnished. A summer of sandcastlebuilding and sunbathing went by, but despite my best efforts, life on the shore just wasn’t for me.

Ebb & Flow

The ocean had been my friend for as long as I could remember, and despite our quarrels, I wasn’t quite ready to let it go. I had never been one to shy away from a challenge, and I wasn’t going to start now. The next summer, thinking back to my deep-rooted love of all things water, I once again began to venture into the waves. Ignoring my racing pulse and instead choosing to breathe deeply and smile, I focused on staying calm and believing in myself. Swimming back to shore, I realized something: being in the ocean still felt mildly terrifying,

but that was part of why I loved it. The exhilaration I find in moments of thrill and uncertainty is unmatched, from roller coasters, to horror movies, to double blacks. With this same sense of GryffindorSlytherinesque ambition, I try to approach all aspects of life. Whether it’s joining the water polo team halfway through the season as a 5’1” underclassman and, not to mention, one of only two girls; signing up for BC Calculus as a junior who knows that math has historically been her worst subject; or taking on a weekend off-Broadway show in the city

during final exams and AP season I have always chosen to throw myself into adventure, even if it may initially result in failure. My ocean of a life is unpredictable and constantly changing, but that’s what makes it so exciting. I’ve learned to take on every new challenge like I do a big wave: send a prayer to the sky, put a smile on my face, and go for it. I may end up pulled by a rip current and left in the middle of the sea, but I trust that I’ll be able to figure it out in the end, even if it means needing to accept a lifeguard’s helping hand. Besides, I do know how to swim.

Why We Should Embrace 2 + 2 = 5

and reason in the universe. French philosopher René Descartes believed that this equation verified that the world around him was not simply a figment of his imagination. In George Orwell’s 1984 , the protagonist why I would reject them by positing that 2 + 2 = 5. I would argue that while rejecting reason can sometimes lead to chaos, there is a silver lining. Suddenly, “You can be anything” isn’t just a pithy statement needled onto a

thrilling. As Lord Byron once said, “I know that two and two make four — and should be glad to prove it too if I could — though I must say if by any sort of process I could convert 2 and 2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure.”

wrong. All of a sudden, just by believing that 2 + 2 = 5, we’ve rediscovered a childlike confidence and excitement that we’ve been robbed of in a 2 + 2 = 4 world.

Of course, 2 + 2 does not equal five. In a world where logic and reason guide our lives, there are more obstacles than just imagination preventing us from realizing our dreams. Amongst heavy expectations, rules, and norms, our biggest opponents can sometimes be ourselves, as we let insecurities and self-doubt get in our way. This is where the 2 + 2 = 5 mentality can make the greatest impact. Instead of a mathematical vision of reality forcing our hand, we each can make the deliberate decision to regain that fascination we had with the world when we were young.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Google Images, Kain Wang (VI)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is undoubtedly one of the most timeless depictions of youth in film ever created. I’ve always clung to the art gallery scene, when Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron visit the Chicago Institute of Art. I believe there is something about this scene which strikes through the heart of what it means to be a teenager. I have often heard people describe their later years in high school as an awkward limbo; my mother says her senior year at a Toronto Catholic school was “full of waiting, really, for anything to happen.” But there is a beauty to this limbo, and there is an art to straddling the gap between adulthood and childhood. The main characters join hands with a group of elementary school students, grasping at

On the Art Gallery Scene

memories of first field trips and longing for a time when holding hands really meant nothing at all. They stand with their arms crossed in satirical contemplation, pretending to know the importance of Modigliani, Renoir, Picasso, and Toulouse-Lautrec, names which mean little to a child and perhaps too much to an adult.

I’ve done my version of this scene many times over. I still remember how important our family outings to New York City were to me as a child. I had given each taxidermied animal at the Museum of Natural History a name, and I had my favorite works at the Museum of Modern Art (I liked best sitting on the floor in the middle of Matisse’s Swimming Pool , mostly because it resembled something I could have done better — I did not understand it at all). As I approach adulthood, I long for the eyes of my childhood which never failed to take in the world with wonder and optimism. It never occurred to me, for example, that the animals had been gutted and stuffed with wood wool to look alive and all smelled like mothballs. I looked at works by Gauguin and saw pure

color, not postcolonial studies. When I visit the MoMA now, I try to avoid looking at Starry Night for too long in fear that viewing it at 18 will disappoint the girl in me who stumbled towards it from a half-moon crowd, lost and anxious on her third grade field trip. But as a child, I would have never been able to wander alone through the Metropolitan Museum of Art talking to strangers or playing peek-a-boo with the infant, no larger than a bundle of groceries, as her father drapes her over his shoulder to describe to her unconscious ears the papyrus scrolls which comprise the Book of the Dead. I would not have been able to appreciate the significance of these things or articulate why I find them beautiful at all.

I believe that this scene is powerful because it reveals to us a certain aspect of the human condition which we are unable to see from within our own heads and bodies. We must be reminded of it from time to time. We think to ourselves that to lose oneself to a collection of dots which are meant to resemble a small girl or to be kissed in front of the artificial moonlight of

a blue stained glass window is to be awestruck, not in the way an adult is shocked by a massive building, but in the way a child sees everything with an open heart. So, maybe the second semester of senior year is a waiting game. But this limbo is something that I am trying hard to not take for granted. To have the agency and articulation of an adult in a place where I have spent an entire childhood (and then some, considering my time at Pingry is approaching 13 years) is a blessing in its own unique way. I try every day to regain that same

sense of wonder which I am reminded of in scenes like this and find myself replaying “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want,” the song which this scene is set to, hoping to experience the same epiphanies that the protagonists experience on their day off. Of course, I know that epiphanies do not come quickly, easily, or when we want them to. But I will cherish my time here as it begins to run out, epiphany or not, and I will give Starry Night another chance to strike me through the heart with wonder once again.

The Secret to Life In People Watching

What would I be without Google Maps?

In my 17 years of life, I’ve only ever navigated New York City with my eyes glued to the blue dots on my phone that tell me to take a right past 19th Street. With a stern, no-nonsense look on my face, I count my steps and avoid sidewalk cracks (step on a crack and break your mother’s back! ), looking up only to track street signs and subway stations. This is how I, along with most New Yorkers, approach life: not only do I forget to stop and smell the roses, but I also miss the roses altogether in the hustle of everyday life.

I used to always miss the roses. That is, until the unthinkable happened. After a weak moment of forgetting my AirPods in the

hellish labyrinth of NJ Transit, I was forced to take on the subway without the latest pop hits playing in my ears. Despite my initial discomfort, I started to notice the people around me: the LaGuardia students practicing monologues for their audition, the Goldman Sachs hopeful fidgeting his fingers in his uncomfortable suit and tie, the silhouette of a Barnard girl in the corner reading Jane Austen , and the older women clicking needles together, knitting ugly sweaters. I wondered about their stories—through peoplewatching, I was offered a glimpse into a dozen different lives. As I got off the subway, I began walking with no address typed in on Google Maps and no destination in mind. Call it cliché, but through looking closer at the finer joys of life, my view of the city I had grown up close to wholly changed.

There are few things more intimate than people-watching. You get to see nameless strangers at their most vulnerable moments.

You see the little things: the way they twirl their hair when nervous, the cup of coffee they drink in their hands, the destination they have in mind. If you are close enough, you can overhear their conversations where they’ll unknowingly offer you bits and pieces from their personal lives. In just a few minutes, you can learn about the social dynamic of a person’s community and how someone presents themselves to the world—it’s a brief glimpse into an unknown life.

These glimpses are beautiful and delicate, and after I found my way back home from New York City on that fateful day, I began to wonder more about the people around me. At school, I often

keep my head down, focused only on my life and the bubble of people around me. However, what connections do I miss in the self-absorbed pursuit of high school? What joys in life evade me while I’m trapped in my world?

Pingry is not New York City—the people I see here today will be the same ones I see here tomorrow. Now, for the first time, I look forward to connecting more with those around me in the remainder of my high school years.

JULIA ENG (VI) Photo Credits: Google Images

Navigating the Way Through Egg Tarts


My favorite food is the egg tart that accompanies my family’s bimonthly order of Chinese takeout. The restaurant buys egg tarts from New York City every Saturday at 5:00 a.m. and then puts them onto a truck for an hour-long journey to our small town of Warren. When I eat the egg tarts, they are no longer hot and crispy but rather a bit bland in the way room-temperature foods often are. I, however, stand by the fact that they are the best desserts, even without ever getting the chance to bite into them in their freshly baked form. My mom first bought a box of these flaky, sun-yellow delicacies because she ran into a colleague while picking up dinner who ordered three boxes and strongly recommended them. Because my mom’s colleague bought so many at once and made an effort to advertise the pastry, I felt obligated to enjoy them. The colleague cared enough about my mom, and by extension, me, to the point where she felt compelled to share one of her favorite foods with us, which made me love egg tarts even more. Taking the time and energy to discuss such a personal pleasure made us feel valued and

seen, and the act of enjoying the pastries further endeared this anonymous colleague, who could surprisingly predict my food preferences, to me.

My mom once heard from a friend about the GPS application Waze. She immediately became enraptured by the cartoon depictions of road signs and the feature to notify other Waze


2/6 vs Somerville 45-41 WIN


2/7 vs Paramus 44-27 LOSS

users of hidden police cars and accidents, never again using Google Maps. Though my sister and I proved time and time again that Google Maps gave a more accurate estimation of arrival time, my mom insisted on Waze’s superiority, already having fallen deep into her “Waze phase” and becoming allies with strangers on the application

through helping them navigate the various roadblocks and fallen trees in the state of New Jersey.

Seeking positive connections with other people, whether

through egg tarts or the GPS, is a fundamental trait of humanity. We enjoy it because it feels like someone else is telling us that we matter and that they need us in the community. Yet, when we


are faced with criticism, we often are not as willing to embrace these relationships. After finally getting my permit six months after my 16th birthday, my first drive was to the library, only five minutes away. Three minutes into the ride, I had to make a left turn at a stoplight, and a lady in a black BMW honked at me at least ten times as I was turning, most likely because I was driving at turtle speed. Immediately after the incident, I went online and bought a large neon bumper sticker with the words “Student Driver, Please be Patient” and stuck it on the back of the car so no one could miss it. While it may partly be due to my lack of confidence in driving, my decision to change was influenced by the lady’s judgment. Each day, we all make hundreds of small choices affected by other people, many of whom are simply strangers to us.

When our lives are so busy and the world is so chaotic, we may wish to become outsiders to interpersonal conflicts or keep our emotions to ourselves. But I have learned that humans can never be separated from each other. Small things like egg tarts or bumper stickers are memorials honoring each interaction, some simply momentary and others profound.


2/8 vs West Windsor-Plainsboro North 15-12 WIN


2/9 vs Immaculate Heart 61-47 WIN

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Kain Wang (VI), Pingry Communications
8-0 WIN
BOYS’ ICE HOCKEY 2/8 vs North Hunterdon


The winter of freshman year was unusually snowy. At 15, I was not yet too old or too cool to go sledding, so I spent my time between remote classes on the hill behind my house. In my memories, the sledding is a blur. What I recall most vividly is the path to the summit — the frozen stream, the saplings on either side, and the stems of bushes that hurt to run into. My house was just a few hundred feet away, where The Office played every evening in the family room and my sister anxiously awaited college decisions. The hill was an alien world: comfortably silent, expansive beyond contemplation, and overlooking a sports complex fenced in with barbed wire. It was my escape from the doldrums of 2020 when all the other ones wore out.

The following winter was

Look Around

different. Classrooms replaced computer screens. Company replaced solitude. The snow was lighter and less frequent. Even so, I was out there with my sled the first time the hill was white again. The second I stepped onto the old path, I knew it wouldn’t be the same.

The sapling forest I’d walked through at eye level had become overgrown, and the old, inviting path had become a thorny nuisance. The once-annoying bush stems now formed a barrier, covering the hill to the point of unsledability. Unironically, I was shocked. This place had been so separate from the real world the year before — how could it possibly follow the same laws now? It was supposed to be waiting for me, the path cleared and groomed, the hill flushed with powder and ready to be carved up. Instead, three inches of ice were buried by what may as

well have been a bed of nails.

I didn’t take out my sled for the rest of the winter, refusing to participate in the cruel world of change and brevity.

Looking back, I should have known it was over after that first winter. I can’t count how often I walked by the young trees and stepped over the burgeoning brush, concerned only with the moment’s silence and whatever frivolous thoughts were in my head. Whether it was arrogance or ignorance, I thought I would be able to spend my winters the same way until I outgrew the essentially childish game I was playing. I never imagined it would outgrow me.

When something is allconsuming, like sledding for a cooped-up freshman, it is easy to be blind to the things that might undo it. We get so focused on the top of the hill, whose slope is glinting in the afternoon sun, that we don’t

realize we may never be able to get there again because a forest is growing at our feet. Someday, I’ll find a new place to take my sled. The path, unburdened by growth, will be wide, the sun bright, and the hill brilliant.

Sled in tow, I’ll take in every refreshing inhale of cold air and exalt in every successful descent. This time, when the snow begins to thaw, I’ll know it’s goodbye forever. I will have seen the trees on my way up.

AI: The Greatest Technological Achievement of the 21st Century or a Weapon Against Human Intellect?



Just imagine a world where a computer program can write your school essay. Wait, no need to imagine. That’s already the case. Then instead imagine a world where a computer algorithm can diagnose and successfully treat medical conditions. Where it can create artwork, write music, and even play sports. Where it can cure diseases, prevent global conflicts, and solve environmental problems. There is no need to strain our imagination to see such a world. We are standing at the precipice of its existence with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although we may not yet know the full potential of AI, we at least have a basic understanding that it has the potential to completely transform humanity. To make our lives easier, better, and potentially healthier. Indeed, there could come a time when we might not have to do anything at all. It would all be done for us.

Just imagine that world. That is the future – or at least potentially the future – of a world fully integrated with AI. Is this a future we should embrace and accept as inevitable? Or is this the beginning of the end of humanity? Throughout history, generations have struggled with the advent of new technologies and debated the ethics surrounding their use. During the 15th century, the printing press was met with

fear and opposition because it was viewed as undermining the authority of the Church. In many ways it did. But looking back, it also allowed for the creation and dissemination of books and information to many people. So not an entirely bad thing after all. In the 20th century, people viewed the invention of cars with skepticism. They caused pollution, were noisy, and raised safety

drawn buggy. You would have to come out during flex to feed your horse. Needless to say, cars had an overall positive impact on society, and with the development of yet even newer technology, electric cars will hopefully solve many of these concerns. The same arguments can be made about television (which replaced radio) and the internet (which, well, replaced everything).

derived from their development? I would argue none. They serve no legitimate purpose other than to intimidate and to raise fear of a disastrous world war. What about PFAS? Have you heard of them? They were chemicals added to firefighting foam in order to extinguish difficult fires. These chemicals were so successful that they started being used in a variety of household

concerns. They weren’t wrong. All those concerns were legitimate, and, in fact, remain concerns today (Tesla aside). But without them, we might still be riding a horse-drawn buggy to school. Imagine trying to pass the driver’s test or trying to find a spot in the school parking lot with a horse-

Not all technological advancements, however, have resulted in a positive benefit to society. Nuclear weapons, for example, were considered a significant technological and scientific advancement at the time they were created.

What positive outcome has been

items -- non-stick pans, makeup, shampoo, and detergents. Sounds useful, right? The problem is that they are now linked to many forms of cancer, are literally in everything and everywhere, and are nearly impossible to destroy. Yet another great technological breakthrough that, in retrospect,

has caused more harm than good. So where does that leave AI? Will future generations look back at AI and deem it the nuclear weapon of humanity’s intellect? There is something to be said about intellectual struggle, about making mistakes, about lessons learned, and about faltering and then striving to succeed. The use of AI may alter our ability to experience these essential building blocks of the human experience. It provides immediate answers to all our questions – whether accurate or not – and gives us a clear road map to follow in response to our prompts. In doing so, whether we like to admit it or not, it may prevent us from growing through hardship and through struggle. Yet perhaps the answer is not that AI has absolutely no purpose or future in our lives, but instead that we must learn how and when to use it while, at the same time, recognizing its risks.

Ironically, there is no better place to start a discussion about the benefits and risks of AI and to strive to develop the parameters and ethical guidelines for its use than in schools. In the coming years, our generation will be the most affected by AI as it becomes more and more part of our world. Let’s be the generation that figures out ways to allow for its use in a responsible and ethical manner without hindering intellectual development, individual freedom or human growth.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Kain Wang (VI), Google Images

They Called Us Exceptional, by Prachi Gupta

I was first introduced to They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us, by Prachi Gupta, through the South Asian Diaspora HIRT, an affinity-like space that focuses on exploring and discussing South Asian literature. As a group, we search for novels that provoke a sense of connection and understanding between the reader and the protagonist through shared experiences, struggles, and emotions. The book presented a complex and intense memoir that described the challenges faced by an immigrant family, the consequences and truths of the model minority myth, and the costly need to be exceptional.

Gupta grew up in a seemingly hardworking, high-achieving, and close-knit family. No family, however, is flawless. The model minority myth acted as the foundation for her family’s disguise. As Gupta questioned her understanding of cultural expectations, gender roles, and her complete identity, she started shifting away from her family’s indoctrinating

Musicals: some love them, some hate them. Over the years they’ve become quite a polarizing genre with their movie counterparts either being well-received faithful adaptations or widely criticized messes. The most recent attempt at cinematizing one of these shows is the 2024 Mean Girls musical movie, which is based on the 2017 Broadway musical, which is based on the original 2004 movie.

The movie attempted to be a remake of the 2004 movie, not the actual stage musical it was based on. This made for an awkward combination of the original movie’s dialogue, cinematography, and design, but with the occasional song inserted. Many scenes are a shot-for-shot recreation of the 2004 movie but watered down and half as funny. Musical movies often seem to be afraid to embrace the campy elements of theater. Even when Mean Girls was advertised, its musical aspect was severely downplayed, leading many viewers to not even know there would be singing in the film.

I believe this does a disservice to

beliefs and recognized the cost of fitting into a box to meet the expectations of others.

Throughout the memoir, Gupta recalls an inner desire to achieve success. She describes how she was taught the importance of success at a young age and how she witnessed her grandfather’s achievements as a Canadian immigrant from India who started over to provide a better life for his wife and children. She also discusses her father’s experiences as a first-generation IndianAmerican growing up in Canada and how he overcame racism to become a successful doctor. The pressure Gupta received from her father to achieve success transformed into the only thing that defined her. Without excellence, she was worth nothing; without success, she was a failure.

Formatted as a letter to her mother, Gupta accomplishes a deep level of connection through the intimacy of her writing. At times, the story is so personal and her emotions so raw and vulnerable that I felt the need to look away. Though I was not able to relate to every aspect of her story, I felt my own emotions

drawn into the book as Gupta articulated feelings of rejection and belonging, whether it was through her Indian culture or her experiences in the predominantly white community surrounding her.

Though written from her own perspective, Gupta’s ability to justly analyze the people in her life allows the reader to empathize with other characters as well. I found it remarkable that, despite the hurt they inflicted upon her, she was able to reflect on her relationships in a manner that portrayed the characters from plain surface level to their raw core. Each character had attributes, flaws, a reason for their actions, and consequences. Each character was, therefore, human.

They Called Us Exceptional highlights that the world isn’t black and white and that no person is solely good or evil, villain or hero. Humans are complex and layered, each with vulnerabilities and flaws — some of which, as Gupta reflects, stem from toxic aspects of culture and tradition. The result is a cycle of generational trauma, one that she became a victim of. As Gupta reflects on her experiences and

struggles, she emphasizes how all members of her family — her father, mother, and brother — sacrificed their own mental health and well-being to fit into a role dictated by others. Through her incredibly vulnerable and honest memoir, Gupta demonstrates the resilience, compassion, and acceptance that underlie the complexities of love and dysfunction within a family.

Mean Girls: The Musical: The Movie

the musical which was nominated for twelve Tony Awards and has been an all-around fan favorite.

The most grating part of the movie, though, is the terrible music. How can you have a musical movie without a good soundtrack? Many of the songs, which were exuberant performances on stage, ended up as soulless remakes washed out with aggressive instrumentals. Musical movies can struggle with casting as they need well-known celebrities to bring in the money but also musically trained actors who can perform the numbers authentically.

The most obvious instance of this is the lead, Angourie Rice, whose Cady has neither the comedy chops of Lindsey Lohan’s original portrayal nor the endearing enthusiasm of Erika Henningsen’s Broadway performance. One of the show’s most upbeat numbers, “Stupid With Love,” which was supposed to convey the lust of young adult love, ended up as a flat, low-energy number that could sing an audience to sleep.

The movie also struggles costume-wise, going on a route of modernizing the 2000s fashion instead of recreating it. Yet, with the

speed at which trends change these days, many of the film’s design choices had already gone out of style by the time it was released. There was also a push to incorporate some more recent teenage references, including the use of social media which would’ve given the movie the uniqueness it needed were it not driven into the ground by overuse and awkward placement.

However, there are a few bright spots. Auli’i Cravalho’s Janis and Jaquel Spivey’s Damien are the two characters who manage to be elevated from the original movie, embodying the campiness of their musical counterparts while bringing vocal and comedic skills. Renee Rapp, whose career has been rightfully taking off, also delivers in the singing category (after all, she did spend a stint as Regina on Broadway), but is failed by the costuming and awkward mixing and dialogue which take away the sting of Regina George as a character.

So, is there a solution for all these adaptation flaws? After all, film remakes of stage musicals are important in preserving their existence and giving greater accessibility to theater.

One alternative could be to just release recordings of the actual Broadway show, as they did with Hamilton . Still, it is possible to create adaptations that fuse both the musical and movie aspects

seamlessly, like Hairspray, West

Side Story, Mamma Mia, and Rocky Horror. It just takes a while to get the formula right. On the musical movie spectrum, Mean Girls ends up falling smack in the middle. But hey, at least it’s better than Cats.

Photo Credits: Google Images

A Return to Pink Skirts and Ballet Slippers


From a viral video of ribbons tied onto floating ice cubes to Simone Rocha’s whimsical haute couture designs for Jean Paul Gaultier at the iconic Paris Couture Fashion Week, the world has slowly been turning away from the once beloved minimalist neutrals. Styles traditionally reserved for elementary school girls are making waves in the mainstream. One year ago, I would never have considered


Just on the edge of the bustling Warren downtown, Zaytin Turkish Cuisine is a familyfriendly restaurant that aims to bring high-quality, home-cooked Turkish food to the area. Deriving its name from the Turkish word for “olive,” the restaurant is well-lit and elegantly decorated from head to toe with traditional Turkish artwork and glass pieces, as well as flowery walls and neon signs that make it an Instaworthy spot. Zaytin is halal and vegetarian friendly, offering delivery, takeout, dine-in, and catering for parties. I was inspired to try it out because it served many of the dishes I consumed during a trip to Turkey, which

wearing shoes modeled after my seven-year-old ballet flats; now, wearing kindergartenesque bows and light pink sets in your hair is more than socially acceptable. News outlets such as Elle and NPR proclaimed 2023 the “year of the girl,” citing cultural moments such as Barbie (which allowed millions to watch dolls from their elementary school days come to life in the movie theater) and Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour (where thousands gathered at a time to scream lyrics to childhood favorite songs loud enough to cause seismic disturbances). Although I was one of the unfortunate fans who never got tickets to the Eras Tour, the rise of so-called “girlhood” was not lost on me. But what’s so attractive about hyper-femininity and youthfulness? Don’t adolescents want to grow up as fast as possible? In February 2024, the trend of embracing “girlhood,” which has had a far greater lifespan than most trends, still persists and

remains at the front of many minds. Upon showing my aunt Sandy Liang’s collections, my aunt was surprised to discover that Liang was one of the world’s leading modern designers. When I scrolled to the uniform section of her website, which featured shirts with giant bows and pleated skirts, my aunt was unimpressed, saying, “That’s so overpriced for something I wore to school in the 80s.” These scathing critiques ironically provide insights into why girlhood is so popular. We often use nostalgia as a coping mechanism to escape the pressures of everyday life and manage negative emotions like sadness or loneliness. Looking back at the past, which always seems better in our eyes than the tumultuous present and uncertain future, we can find something that will help us navigate our current situation as flawlessly as we think we did back then. This “girlhood” subculture is attractive because it lets us step beyond nostalgia. It allows

us to romanticize our stressfree childhoods through rosecolored glasses and encourages us to transport elements of our past directly to the present. Our world is full of stressors; most of us are bombarded with work and constant streams of emails and tragic news articles. We are so attached to our devices that checking notifications is often more of an obligation than a privilege. Especially for the younger generation, everything seems to get harder every year, the

Warren’s Insta-worthy Anatolian Meal

truly has some amazing allaround foods — most notably some of the best-grilled meats and mild yet flavorful seasoning.

Start your meal with special Turkish tea, served in a tulipshaped glass called ince belli , which allows the crimson drink to be consumed hot. Or maybe Turkish coffee is more your style, consisting of finely ground, unfiltered coffee prepared in a cezve, a small, long-handled pot. Appetizers include my dad’s personal favorite, lahmacun, a flatbread topped with minced meat, vegetables, and herbs — (we consumed so many of these on our last day). If you’re feeling adventurous, reviews have also touted their liver dishes, although you may prefer the red lentil soup

or the all-encompassing mixed cold appetizers (hummus, spicy veggie, eggplant with sauce, baba ganoush, and labneh).

For the main meal, you can’t go wrong with any gyro or kebab meats. We had the chicken kebab, which was juicy, tender, and well-seasoned, but lamb is also quite a staple. The portions are large, making for delightful, filling meals that are served with warm pita bread, delicious buttery bulgur (cracked wheat, similar to rice), and fresh vegetables. If you’re unsure of where to start, there is also a mixed grill option that comes with chicken shish, lamb shish, adana kebab, and gyro, so you can experience the full spread. My favorite dish from my trip was manti , a creamy Turkish ravioli filled with lamb, and while the restaurant's version wasn’t nearly as good as I had remembered, it was still a filling and quite delicious meal. They also serve fluffy oven-to-table pide , a flattened wheat dough that is thicker than lahmacun and boat-shaped. It can be topped with tomatoes, cheese, veggies, and minced meats, or, if you’re indecisive like me, there is a mixed platter option that allows you to try all of the various options.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and luckily, Turkish cuisine has some of my favorites. There is the most well-

known, baklava, made of thin phyllo dough layers, filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with syrup. We tried the kunefe, a decadent dessert made of a crispy spun pastry soaked in sugar syrup and layered with sweet cheese and nuts. Other options include rice pudding or chocolate souffle. While the prices may run a little high, I believe Zaytin is a worthwhile

wheel of fate turning too quickly to follow. We struggle with finding jobs, balancing hobbies with schoolwork, managing relationships with friends and family, and even getting more than four hours of sleep. With all of this tumult, it’s only natural that we would want to take a step back and embrace the parts of ourselves that society has thus far deemed too childish. Even when “girlhood” inevitably fades, we will not forget the underlying message of returning to our youth.

restaurant experience for a delicious, well-rounded meal and a menu boasting strong dishes all around. The restaurant itself was simply gorgeous in its decor and had friendly staff who attended to all our needs. After all, even if you get too much, your money won’t be put to waste as the dishes can be taken to go and enjoyed further from the comfort of your own home.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Google Images, Zaytin Restaurant

Community Valentine’s Messages

To: Jingjing

To: Yassara

Merci beaucoup, for being the most amazinggg and incroyable french buddy!!! I’ll be so so sad when you go home, mais à bientôt!

From: Jingjing

To: Alex Ege

I hope u like the candy

From: Manny

Helloooo when you read this I’ll be at Lyon and depressed because my trip was AMAZING. Jingjing meet you was an incredible thing because you are an incredible person. I hope you will like Lyon and see you soon!!!!

From: Yassara

To: the gang

thanks for sticking by me. you’re my rock. love ya!

From: sarah gu

To: Mr. Bourne!

Thank you for making our class so much fun!

From: Your block 5 physics class

To: Mr. Burkhart

I love the discussions we have in American Modernism hIRT- It is so much fun and I have really grown to love Faulkner. Thank you for taking the time to create this space!

From: anonymous

To: Ms. Sees

i’m so so happy to have you as a teacher!!

From: your #1fan

To: Dr. Johnson

Thank you for coordinating the French Exchange program!

From: The French exchange hosts

To: Ms. Davlin

You are the best advisor! Thank you for being there for us :)

From: your advisory

To: Mr. Keating

I really appreciate all of our conversations and how you take time out of your day to simply get to know your students. Thank you for believing in me and supporting me throughout everything!

From: Anonymous

To: Serena Lin

Thank you for the valentines treats! You are the sweetest person I know. I’m so happy we got closer this year <3

From: Carolyn Zhou

To: Ava Khan

You rock :)

From: Sriya Tallapragada

To: jingjing

hi JJ youre the best valentine ever and you’re cool ig

From: nat

To: Mr. Coe

you’re the best physics teacher of all time

From: Leon Zhou

Credits (Top to Bottom): Kain Wang (VI), Pingry Communications
Community In Pictures Photo

Solve the crossword for this issue! Email back your responses to when you are done. If you are the first one to respond, we will be in touch about a prize! No spaces should be included in the answers.

Crossword Puzzle - Crossword Labs Valentine's Day Crossword Puzzle
1. A thorny flower 2. Two people going out 3. The color of Valentine's Day 4. The month of Valentine's Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 2/8/24,
Across Something to wear on your finger Valentine's party for friends and (blank) shoots arrows of love shape of love Down
Valentine's Day Crossword Puzzle - Crossword Labs Valentine's Day Crossword Puzzle
1. A thorny flower 2. Two people going out 3. The color of Valentine's Day 4. The month of Valentine's Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Across 1. Something to wear on your finger 5. A Valentine's party for friends 6. Hugs and (blank) 7. He shoots arrows of love 8. The shape of love Down
Eng Saniya Kamat
Assistant Editors
Marine Gabriel Raykin
Sara Courtney
Trivedi Layout Editors Saniya Kamat
Tallapragada Volume CXLIX — No. III
Valentine’s Day Crossword <3 Editors-in-Chief Julia
Sriya Tallapragada Carolyn Zhou Cartoon
Ms. Lynne

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