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The Pitch

Walter Johnson High School

February 24, 2012

Volume 57 Issue 5

6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD 20814

Decorating, Dancing and Dating: Pennies for Patients Progresses

Photo by Steven Groobert

Photo by Julia Cinquegrani

Photo by Steven Groobert

Far left, seniors Brett Silverman, Claire Cohen, Bryn Molloy and Kate Barner display the shirts they decorated to wear to WJ GLOW; center, students party at WJ GLOW, a school-sponsored dance to raise money for Pennies for Patients; far right, seniors Jordan Krasner and Charlotte Epps participate in Speed Dating. All proceeds raised by these and other Pennies for Patients events will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. For more photos, articles and a full calendar of Pennies for Patients activities, visit

Special Ed Programs Serve Diverse Student Needs

Symphonic Orchestra Prepares to Compete in National Orchestra Cup

By Julia Cinquegrani

By Girard Bucello

igh school, with its constant testing, rigid scheduling and peer pressure, is a challenge for everyone. For students with disabilities, it can be even harder. That’s why the novels in Christine McArdle’s classroom are different from the books found in other classrooms. Her tenth grade English students, who are members of the Learning for Independence (LFI) program, read standards like The Odyssey, Frankenstein and Alice in Wonderland, but the versions they read are graphic novels with vivid illustrations. The books feature the same plot and characters as traditional editions, but they use color and artwork to enliven the stories. “Every year we read an adapted grade ten curriculum book, and graphic novels help improve comprehension,” said McArdle. Visual learning is equally important for students in math teacher Trish Cooper’s classes. When demonstrating math problems on her Promethean Board, Cooper uses a different color for each step to help her students differentiate them. “Multi-sensory teaching is really beneficial, and the Promethean board makes that really easy,” said Cooper, who teaches both special ed and general ed students. With a total of 275 special ed students in seven separate special ed programs, WJ has the largest special ed program of any school in MCPS. “Our programs kept being added on to,” said

Academic Support Center coordinator Rachel Wills, who is in charge of WJ’s special ed programs. “We’ve been doing it longer, so we know what we’re doing.” The seven programs have different structures to address the specific needs of various students. There are self-contained classes, which have approximately 10 to 15 special

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for aspiring classical musicians: the WJ Symphonic Orchestra has been invited to the National Orchestra Cup on March 10, in which only ten schools in the country can compete. The competition, which will be held at Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York City, is one of the most prestigious and selective events in high school music.This year,WJ will be participating for the first time. “We’ll represent the school well,” said Christopher Kosmaceski, the music department resource teacher and the conductor of the WJ Symphonic Orchestra. “We intend to play with pride, class and sophistication. There [are] other competitions that are held [for high school orchestras], but this one is in a whole different tier.” Helping with WJ’s preparation for the competition is the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). The BSO’s community outreach director contacted Kosmaceski to offer their support as the Symphonic Orchestra rehearsed for the competition. “I told them that we needed someone to instruct the violins and cellos,” Kosmaceski said. “I’m not a string player myself, and I thought that if we had the help of the BSO, this was the best way that they could help.” The WJ Symphonic Orchestra has participated in and won many previous invitational events. However, the National Orchestra Cup is by far the most prestigious that WJ has competed in. At least two schools competing this year have won the National Orchestra Cup in previous years, including last

Special Ed Programs continued pg. 3

Symphonic Orchestra continued pg. 4


Photo Julia Cinquegrani

Best Buddies club members Maddy Goldberg and Eugenia Rangel pose with a picture frame that they decorated at a recent club meeting. Members of the club include both special ed and general ed students, who participate in activities inside and outside school.

ial, r o t i d E -8 pgs. 5

Inside, Check Out:

Feature, pgs. 9-12

Arts & Ent., pgs. 13-16

Sports, pgs. 17-20





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FEBRUARY 24, 2012


Penny Clarke Shares Experience with Freshmen By Isaac Salant, Staff Writer On Dec. 22, a special guest visited English teacher Joanne Reynolds’ classes. Penny Clarke, an accomplished lawyer and mother of WJ freshman Sabrina Clarke, spoke about her life as an African-American woman, as Reynolds thought it would relate to her class discussion of To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. “As a black woman, and a lawyer, she was able to give [the class] some insight on the flaws in the legal system that still exist,” said Reynolds. “Also, her personal story on black issues ties into the Tom Robinson case.” Clarke was born on Dec. 5, 1969 in Liberia, and lived there until she graduated from high school at the age of 16. For her, it was easy to adjust to the U.S. because life in Liberia was similar and had the same school system.The difference is, in Liberia, after high school, students have a choice.They can go to a college in Liberia and then come to America, or they can opt out of college and come to America immediately...

To see the full article and much more, visit

Slideshow from WJ Glow

Photos by Steven Groobert

We at The Pitch hope our readers are settling well into their second semester, and as the school year presses on, this issue touches base with Dr. Garran (Page 9) and past SGA presidents (Pages 10-11). Additionally, we’re shining a light on the thriving subculture of WJ’s special needs community, with specific focuses on Bocce Ball (Page 18), special education and Best Buddies (Page 1 and 3). Corrections from last (January) issue: Page 18 – It was printed that Garrett Powell earned First Team All-Met honors, while Annie Kastler was named an All-American. In fact, both Powell and Kastler were recognized with each honor. Pages 10-11 – Contrary to what was printed in last issue’s Feature Spread, Del. Kaiser is the delegate in Maryland’s House of Delegates, not Maryland’s Congress, for the 14th district of Maryland, not the 13th.

Photo by Steven Groobert

Sincerely, Rosie Hammack, Hannah Flesch, print editorsin-chief and Ali Jawetz, online editor-in chief



FEBRUARY 24, 2012



Special Ed Programs Serve Diverse Student Needs

Photos by Julia Cinquegrani

Special Ed Programs continued from pg. 1 ed students taught by a teacher and a para-educator; co-taught classes, or classes taught by two teachers with a mix of general ed and special ed students; and supported classes, which are taught by a teacher and a para-educator and have general ed and special ed students. Many special ed students take a combination of these types of classes as well as general ed classes that have no additional support. Most students are identified as having disabilities in elementary school, between second and fifth grades. However, some students are not identified as having disabilities until high school. “We don’t want to give accommodations to kids who don’t need them,” said Wills. “But if the disability is significant enough then they’ll have different services.” Once a student is identified as having a learning disability, he or she receives an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that includes the accommodations that he or she needs for support. Accommodations include having more time to complete tests, receiving formula sheets or having questions read aloud.

Special Ed Versus General Ed Curriculum While MCPS has a standardized curriculum for general ed classes, the county does not write a modified curriculum for special ed classes. Instead, special ed teachers teach the basic elements of the county curriculum, but they go more slowly and do not delve as deeply into the material as general ed teachers do. “We teach what they really need to know and forget the fluff,” said Jacqueline Robbins, who teaches biology and matter and energy to general ed and special ed students. The classrooms in which Robbins and

Many special ed classes read graphic novel versions of The Odyssey, Frankenstein and Alice inWonderland.

Cooper teach are smaller than standard classrooms, a design feature built in during WJ’s modernization. “It creates better proximity, and it’s easier to keep students on task [in smaller classrooms],” said Cooper. Special ed teachers normally assign less homework than general ed teachers. Homework is often more challenging for special ed students than classwork because no teacher is available to help them if they get confused. Distractions can also impede homework completion. Most special ed students at WJ are able to graduate in the standard four years, but some take five years to finish. Depending on their program, special ed students can stay in high school until they are 21. Nevertheless, special ed and general ed classes have many similarities. All class periods are the same length and all special ed students who receive a diploma must pass the same county final exams and HSAs as are required for general ed students. “Teachers have been pushing for modified exams to be given to special ed students for years,” said Robbins. “It’s very frustrating.” Although the actual exams are the same for all students, special ed students can receive accommodations while taking them. The grading system is also identical for all classes. “We’re not allowed to grade any differently, but we might give students more attempts to learn the material being tested,” said Robbins. “If a kid doesn’t get it we find ways to re-teach.” Test-taking is often one of the hardest aspects for special ed students because the test formats are so rigid. “Maybe it’s hard for special ed kids to get their ideas down on paper or write an essay, but they could tell you the information,” said Wills. “Being able to show what they actually know is hard sometimes.”

Far left: Best Buddies club president Annie Zisk (second from left) organizes her materials at the beginning of a lunch-time Best Buddies meeting. Center: Buddies Rylee Genner and Clare Kearney decorate a picture frame together during the meeting. Far right: Best Buddies club members search for supplies to decorate their picture frames with.

fosters connections among general ed and special ed students. Members of the club include special ed and general ed students, and the club creates pairs of one each. During the year, the buddy pairs make weekly contact with each other. Typical activities include talking at school, eating lunch together or going to the movies. Members also attend monthly club meetings. “I like how the club promotes the idea that [special ed students] are just like us,” said senior Annie Zisk, who is president of Best Buddies. “There’s nothing wrong with them.” McArdle said that most of her students are members of Best Buddies and love how the club allows them to meet new people and make new friends. Zisk said that she appreciates how the club does not distinguish among members with disabilities and those without. She said the friendships she has made and the perspectives she has gained through Best Buddies are her favorite elements of the club. “Special ed kids have a whole different view on the world,” said Zisk. “They have their own part in the WJ community, which is awesome. They’re great people, and I have friends [through Best Buddies] that I wouldn’t have necessarily made otherwise.”

Perceptions of Students

In general, special ed teachers a n d Best Buddies members agree that WJ is an accepting place for people of all abilities. However, that does not mean that problems never arise, especially when teachers and students have to deal with unfamiliar situations. “There are some teachers who think special ed students can’t do as well, and that’s not true,” said Cooper. “Some teachers don’t understand why certain students need accommodations. Sometimes there’s a problem with understanding how the disability affects them and how the accommodations help them.” Best Buddies and said that although some peoInteraction Among Students pleCooper see accommodations as giving speJust as WJ tries to integrate general cial ed students an unfair advantage, in ed and special ed students academi- reality they are only used to help level cally, many students also reach out to the playing field. one another socially. Other special ed teachers commented WJ’s Best Buddies club is a chapter that some general ed teachers, seem to of an international organization which think that special ed operate on a lower

level than general ed teachers. “There’s a vibe among general ed teachers that special ed teachers aren’t as smart or as good with the material as regular ed teachers are,” said Robbins. But Robbins, Cooper and McArdle agree that teaching special ed students is often more rewarding than teaching students in general ed. “To see a kid who has struggled to learn the material finally understand it is very rewarding,” said Robbins. “When they finally have an ‘a-ha moment,’ your heart kind of leaps for them. I would much rather teach special ed kids. Special ed kids are more grateful and appreciative for what they learn than general ed kids are.” Robbins, however, believes that the challenges faced by special ed students are similar to those faced by all students. “Everybody has strengths and weaknesses,” said Robbins. “It’s my job to help find the strengths of students. My goal is to always tell special ed kids that they learn differently, so they just need to learn coping strategies.” While others might see students with special needs as different from general ed students, Cooper believes that most special ed students do not share that viewpoint. “They don’t want to be seen as different,” said Cooper. “Most of them do not [see themselves as different], which says s o m e t h i n g about their self-worth.” Overall, perhaps the differences between special ed students and general ed students are not as important as their similarities. “You never know who is disabled i n high school because everyone is different,” said Robbins. “I don’t always see the difference between special ed and regular ed.”

Signs in Christine McArdle’s special ed English classroom focus on displaying information visually, which aids comprehension.





FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Money Matters:

Inside Booster Club Fund Distribution By Claudia Nguyen

Photos by Steven Groobert

Above and at left: Ellen Troyer, a violinist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, helps prepare the string section of WJ’s Symphonic Orchestra for their upcoming performance in the National Orchestra Cup.

Symphonic Orchestra to Compete in National Orchestra Cup Symphonic Orchestra continued from pg. 1 year’s winner, Garfield High School in Seattle, Wash. Students in the orchestra, however, are not deterred, and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to compete on the national stage. “It’s actually really amazing,” said senior Isabel Carton, who plays the French horn in the Symphonic Orchestra. Carton underscored the differences between WJ and other schools in the competition, many of which are entirely dedicated to the performing arts. “They run their programs much differently than we do,” Carton said. “I think we still have a really good chance, though. Mr. [Kosmaceski] is a great director. There’s no reason why we don’t have as good a chance as they do.” Senior Catrina Johnson, who plays the clarinet in the orchestra, initially didn’t know about the National Orchestra Cup, but is anticipating the chance to showcase the orchestra’s skills. “I was so surprised when I heard that we would be competing,” Johnson said. “I had never heard of the National Orchestra Cup, but to know that we would be going against nine of the top orchestras in the country is amazing.” For their performance at the competition, the WJ Symphonic Orchestra is rehearsing “Comedian’s Gallop,” by Dmitri Kabalevsky, the first movement of Alexander Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 and Slavonic Dance No. 1, by Antonín Dvorák. “This isn’t child’s play,” Carton said. “This is hard stuff. And it’s not common stuff that’s been heard a thousand times. These songs are a good fit for our orchestra, and that’s what’s most important.”

The orchestra will spend the day of the competition in New York City. Despite having a tight schedule, they will be hosted at a dinner banquet on a cruise that circles the Statue of Liberty. For Kosmaceski, the competition will be a fitting end to months of hard work. “We’ve played at other invitationals, but this is the first competition that the orchestra has been in,” he said. “They’re working really hard [and] practicing a lot for this competition.” Members of the WJ Symphonic Orchestra share Kosmaceski’s enthusiasm. “I think this will be a very different experience for us,” Johnson said. “I’m not worried about stiff competition; I’m excited for the new opportunities. We’ll have a lot to learn from the orchestras there, because we’ve never been in a competition like this before.” In particular, seniors in the orchestra are celebrating the opportunity to perform in a nationally renowned competition. Carton, however, made a point to acknowledge orchestras of years past for their contributions. “We’ve been working so hard for so many years,” Carton said. “This opportunity isn’t something that just our current orchestra got. This is [for] all of the orchestras – including the seniors from years past. It’s great to represent our school, our county and our state on the national stage. It’s great to be recognized for all of our hard work.” For coverage of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s visit to WJ, visit The Pitch Online at

Each school year, the Booster Club gives thousands of dollars to various teams and clubs at WJ. During the first semester alone, the Booster Club gave out $21,363 and has continued to grant more requests these past few months. The Booster Club is a nonprofit organization that hosts several annual events to raise its funds. “We’re not about raising a lot of money, then just keeping it as a profit,” said Booster Club President Sue Christakos. “We’re all about spending it… Our whole philosophy is that we can fund it if we can afford it. If we feel like [a project is] beneficial to our students and that it’s going to enhance the extracurricular activities of our students, then we’re going to go ahead and fund it.” Most booster clubs are specific to only one activity. However, a quality that sets WJ’s Booster Club apart from those of many other schools is that it provides funding for all different types of groups and activities. Additionally, sports teams are partially funded by MCPS, but clubs do not have this advantage. The Booster Club provides the opportunity for all groups, including these clubs, to apply for funding. Christakos said for students involved at WJ, chances are that the Booster Club has funded an activity of theirs. “We really like to try and be equitable and [help] everybody at the school,” she said. Teams, clubs or groups trying to organize events for WJ can contact the Booster Club directly by filling out the online funding request form on the club website. Christakos said that when a request is received, the members of the board take into account several different factors. They look for specifications as to how the money will be used, and whether or not the purchase will be cost-effective. Additionally, it is encouraged for teams and clubs to help with Booster fundraisers, although a group has never been denied its request for

not doing so. “While it’s not an absolute prerequisite, we do like to see the teams and clubs [that request funding] help us with the book sale, help us with the concessions stand, help us with the mulch sale and [other fundraisers],” said Christakos. “It’s kind of a reciprocal relationship; we help the teams and they help us.” Other large factors the Booster Club considers include the number of WJ students benefitted and the reusability of purchased materials. “I personally like to make sure it benefits the women just as much as the men,” said Christakos. “Sometimes we get requests that seem like they’re just for the boys, and we’d like for there to be equality for [both genders].” The majority of the time, a team or club is granted the request it asks for. However, there are certain MCPS policies restricting things booster clubs cannot pay for, including teachers, coaches, uniforms, personal items or any materials that could be deemed as equipment. To determine how to distribute funds, the Booster Club asks representatives of clubs or teams to present at Booster Club meetings that occur throughout the year. For sports, a coach or team commissioner will usually come to represent the team. For clubs, however, Christakos said that she likes the students to attend the meeting. “Since most of the clubs are really run by the students... we ask for [a student representative] to come at the beginning of our meeting and present their funding request,” she said. “It’s really helpful for us to have the students come and present because there are questions that come up.” According to Christakos, student involvement is key because the Booster Club operates entirely for their benefit. “We are there for the students; that is solely why we exist… For me, that’s why it’s a really nice organization to be the head of. [For the Booster Club], it’s like, let’s see how much money we can raise so we can spend it on our kids.”

Percent of Booster Club Funds Distributed to Activities The Booster Club divides thousands of dollars each school year among the teams and clubs at WJ.


Athletics & Sports Teams Music Department Media Based Clubs Student-Run Events Intramural Clubs Competitive Clubs

21.4% 3.7%

29.7% 5.7% 3.5%

Percentages only reflect funds distributed in the first semester of the 2011-2012 school year.



FEBRUARY 24, 2012


Coping With Senioritis The Journal of a Sick Man By Cameron Keyani Ah yes. I am a second semester senior. For the past seven semesters, I’ve wondered about the nature of the spell that takes over seniors in their last semester at WJ and transforms them into lazy animals. A second semester senior is no longer tethered by the expectations of a logical high school student, who is interested in, at the very least, not LC-ing his or her classes. Something about second semester brings out the wilder side in every senior, with the knowledge that they are about to leave WJ forever and move on to bigger and better things. It brings out both a great carefree nature in people, as well as a cocky, unbearable attitude of entitlement. In order to typify my own descent into the madness of Senioritis, I have decided to make a journal chronicling my semester thus far. Day 1: Came to school filthy and dog tired, getting off the charter bus from Canada twenty minutes before first period started. My sweater is covered in crumbs and I’m soaked in sweat from the sauna-esque bus ride. In short, I’m looking sexy. I read Flannery O’Connor aloud in AP Lit in a perfect southern drawl, and made my teachers love me all over again with my boyish charm. Second semester is going to be a breeze. Day 2: Had several assignments due today. DIDN’T DO THEM. What are these teachers thinking, assigning homework on the first day of class? Don’t they know who they’re dealing

with? I am a rebel, and I can’t be tamed. Day 5: SENIORRSSSSSSSSSSSSS ONEEEEEEEE TWO Day 8: Reflected on how little work I’ve been doing, and realized that I’ve been doing no work my entire high school career.

Photo by Steven Groobert

Day 14: Uggh! My father is so unfair! How dare he try to help me make my decision between ludicrously expensive schools! Living in the suburbs is so hard! Day 22: Pennies for Patients has started. I have always hated cancer, but now that it’s my senior year I’m a veritable Cancer Crusader. I feel in no way hypocritical yelling at freshmen who aren’t putting money into the gallon jug, even though I barely donated when I was a freshman. Being a senior has its perks.

Day 25: I have a 14% in AP European History. I scoured for a plausible disease that would excuse me from doing work while having no visible symptoms, but only came up with Boogie Fever. Mr. Delello was not amused. Day 31: How can I live the life of Newland Archer from Age of Innocence, our choice reading for AP Literature? He not only does nothing all day, but is applauded as a model member of high society for it. His life is so easy; things like choosing which party to attend and which suit to wear are considered problems. If only. Day 33: I am slowly losing my grasp of proper use of the English language, so Español is in dire straits . Señora tries her best, but to no avail. In order to raise my grade in that class, I’ve decided to only speak Spanish all day, including to my parents. My friends and family have not taken it well. Lo siento, soy un monstruo de swag sin parar. Day 39: Type B Senioritis has spread to my frontal lobe. Desires to grow a beard, eat junk food, and listen to reggae have nearly overwhelmed my better judgment. I tearfully kissed my mother and father goodbye at dinner tonight, and embraced my terminal Senioritis.

The Next Level Teachers need to step it up to engage second semester students In 2010, we had Snowmageddon, a blizzard that closed down schools across the east coast for an entire week. In 2011 we had the Groudhog Day blizzard that closed down school for almost an entire week. In 2012 we got nothing but a few days of snowfall that never seemed to stick enough to even give a delay. Schools in MCPS have three or four days prepared in case we have snow days, but it seems this year we won’t need any of them. When winter comes every year we always hope there will be a blizzard that cancels school so we can catch up on sleep and just relax.This year was one of the worst years for vacations in a while since winter break lasted for only about

a week and after President’s Day weekend we have six full weeks of school. This is the time of year we students start to get tired and unmotivated, and the fact that we have a month and a half of no vacation doesn’t help either. Now in some classes you won’t feel the need to fall asleep because you’ll be doing other things, but in classes where all you are doing is taking notes or annotating some long essay it is hard for anyone to actually stay awake the entire time. It is not only torture for the student body to have to sit through all these boring classes during what could be, the hardest part of the year to stay focused, but it is also torture for the teachers who have to constantly keep their classes awake. While all this is going on teachers

Rees’s Pieces College Letters

Photo by Steven Groobert

By Anders Norberg


should make some effort to actually engage their class in something much more interesting than taking notes off a board or understanding tone in a poem. Instead they should try to make learning all this information a much more entertaining experience. People would much rather learn how our government works if they got a homework pass for showing they understand the information instead of just learning it for another test. That being said, students should also be trying to take an active part in this time of torment by suggesting some fun things to do in class instead of the same old agenda. Maybe if people actually try to make this time in school more interesting, everyone can just get through this whole quarter with as little pain as possible.

By Nathaniel Rees Print Editorial Editor When the first college letters started pouring in, I thought it was a dream come true, or an early birthday present. Obviously, if colleges from all corners of America were sending me letters, they really wanted me to attend their schools, right? However, when I received the fourth college letter from an engineering school (needless to say, technology is not my strong suit), I realized that the colleges really had no idea who I was. All they knew was that I had marked the bubble on the PSAT that gave my information and address to any college. But I could deal with the letters. They were easy to throw away, even though some days it felt like a complete deluge. But when colleges started to call and email me, it felt like complete overkill. I had shown no interest in any of these colleges, most of which I had never even heard of, so I could not comprehend why they would pursue me with such fervor. And I definetely was not recieving the gargantuan piles of letters and emails because of my PSAT scores. My math score was worse than a monkey randomly filling out the bubbles. The calls were definetely the worst, though. As I began to receive college calls, and the callers asked if I wanted information about their respective colleges, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I say no, and risk turning down a college that I could actually consider in the future, or should I give them my email address and risk getting bombarded by, not only letters, but now emails too? Always after an awkward pause, I would give the colleges my email, just so I could hang up the phone. I guess I should be grateful that I am receiving letters and emails, but only halfway through junior year, the busiest year of high school for most students, most of us are trying to fully experience interesting classes or extra-curricular activities, and don’t have the time or the emotional energy to focus on colleges right now. Colleges are a part of my future, to me still on the distant horizon. But the endless stream of college letters and emails causes students to live life in the future, always looking ahead instead of focusing on the great times junior year can bring. Don’t get me wrong. I want to go to a good college that is the right fit for me, but I’d rather start the process in due time, after I’ve had a chance to be a junior. So, all you colleges out there, please remember that we juniors will be more likely to listen to what you have say if the information comes at the end of junior year.



Up Bat



FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Jean Marc Nugent Sophomore

Ms. Reynolds- “She is an amazing swimmer.”


Alex Rubin

Q: If you could be any celebrity for one day, who would you be and why?


God- “Because I could rule over everything.”

To see The Pitch editors’ celebrity crushes, visit

Tom Stavrou

Fiona Buckley



Fred Flintstone- “Cuz I be running from the PO-lice. ”

Bethany Hamilton- “She gives people faith who don’t believe in themselves anymore.”

Photo by Anders Norberg

David Zwick

Ben Berger



Bradley Cooper- “Because he is a playa.”

Rebecca Black- “That way everyday would be Friday.”

Photo by Anders Norberg

Shaila Udumalagalag

Eli Gerber



Jennifer Lopez- “Because she is hot and she can sing.”

Denard Robinson- “Because he is cool and a hero at the University of Michigan.”



Photo by Anders Norberg All photos by Steven Groobert unless otherwise noted.

Editors-in-Chief Hannah Flesch Rosie Hammack Ali Jawetz*

Arts & Entertainment Editor The Pitch is published eight times a year by the students of Walter Johnson High School, 6400 Taliah Dommerholt Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, Md. 20814. Advertising and subscription rates are available by Cameron Keyani* calling 301-803-7302. Editorial opinions represent those of The Pitch staff and do not neces-

News Editors Julia Cinquegrani Girard Bucello*

Assistant Arts & Ent. Editor Emily Cosentino

Assistant News Editor Editorial Editors Nathaniel Rees Claudia Nguyen Danielle Markowitz* Sports Editors Phillip Resnick Feature Editors Daniel Thaler* Jenny Deutsch Sari Amiel Megan Chun*

Staff Writers Anders Norberg Matthew Morris Defne Dilsiz sarily reflect the opinions of the staff, faculty, or student body. We welcome letters, articles, Ellie Jorling photographs and artwork, to be submitted to room 193 or e-mailed to eics.wjpitch@gmail. com. The Pitch is an award-winning paper that works towards providing the student body with Photo Editors Emily Cosentino accurate, as well as credible, information. Steven Groobert

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist 2009

Maryland HS Journalism Award Best Newspaper Overall Third Place 2009-2010

American Scholastic Press Association First Place 2010-2011

Photographers Anders Norberg Girard Bucello Cartoonist Michael Matthes *Online Editors

Copy Chief Sari Amiel Copy Editors Megan Chun Nathaniel Rees Claudia Nguyen Artists Anders Norberg Emily Cosentino Business/PR Manager Claudia Nguyen Advisor Sylvie Ellen



FEBRUARY 24, 2012


A True Dance Dance Revolution

By Hannah Flesch and Danielle Markowitz

One day during The Pitch class, Danielle and I were reading an edition of the ever-entertaining Seventeen magazine. A magazine that wraps the interest of teenage girls into about 140 colorful pages, Seventeen caught our attention with a laughable yet disturbing story of a girl at a high school dance. In a section named “Trauma Drama,” humiliating moments sent in to the magazine are published and one in particular concerning a school dance definitely claimed the title of “Most Awkward Story.” To sum up what happened, a girl was at her spring dance, “getting freaky,” when someone put her hand on her shoulder. She then started grinding on him, only to find out it was her history teacher coming to tell her to stop dancing inappropriately. Now, that’s an awkward story if we’ve ever heard one, but it bears the question of what the evolution of dance has come to. The girl in this story had no idea who she was dancing with, and here lies the problem with grinding. It’s totally ok to find a guy on the dance floor, but grinding means you can’t see their face, so it should be no surprise that this kind of stuff happens. So what Danielle and I decided to do was to reflect on the history of dancing among teenagers, and we picked our favorites, along with the ones we like the least. 1950s-Swing Dancing: HF: I’d have to say I like the upbeat nature of swing dancing while at the same time appreciating your partner. It’s a very free type of expression, which I think defines the idea of dancing. DM: the 1950s was a great time in the evolution of dance. Everyone knew the same steps, live bands were still popular (and cheap) and the actual dance moves were fun, classy and respectful. 1990s/early 2000s: HF: What reminds me of this era is DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). Back when the PlayStation was in style, the music in DDR correlated with the music of those of The Backstreet Boys and Jojo. It was very fast and fun. DM: Hip Hop dominated here; we see the start of a completely new dance style that was the beginning of modern dance. Pop also became popular (supplied with the beautiful tones of boy bands), so dance moves were very aerobic and synchronized. Today: HF: As mentioned earlier, I don’t like the way we dance today. We don’t even see the face of the person we are dancing with, and therefore the meaning and intent of dance has completely dropped off. It’s just not the same anymore. People grind just to grind, not for the person. DM: Dance has turned into a pure workout for a girl’s hips and thighs. For the guy, it’s just a chance to have a girl’s butt rub up on your you-know-what. It is no longer a form of expression, but rather the result of a suppressed libido.


Chomping for Charity


The Burrito Mile combines athleticism, humor and good will By Matthew Morris The whistle blows. The athletes spring into action. While many of you still have memories of the Super Bowl, I’m looking forward to the other great sporting event of February, the MidAtlantic Burrito Mile Track Classic, or the Burrito Mile for short. In 2007, during the first Burrito Mile, an article appeared in the local newspaper, The Gazette, about parents who were worried that the event was unhealthy, encouraged binge eating and could even lead to the death of students. While complaints like these aren’t heard nearly as much anymore, I still receive blank stares when I de-

Photo courtesy of Mocorunning

A participant chows down on a burrito during the Burrito Mile in 2009

scribe the event to my friends. I’m still faced with questions like, “Why would you do that?” and, “Isn’t that, um, gross?” And I’m still asked, “Why don’t you run the mile and then eat the burrito? Wouldn’t that be easier?” Though some might show disdain, the Burrito Mile is a fun way to raise money for a good cause. I have a

slight bias here. I am an avid runner, and eating is possibly one of the few things I enjoy more than running. To me, the combination of the two just makes a lot of sense. While I shouldn't have to convince you of the benefits of eating, and I won't even try to convince you of the joys of running, I feel like you don't have to like either to enjoy the Burrito Mile.

The point of the Burrito Mile is to be a challenge. The fact that no sane human would do an event like the Burrito Mile on a routine basis should be a reason to go. If it were something you knew you could easily do, then it wouldn’t be exciting. And while it’s a good challenge, it still looks tame compared to a variety of other eating contests and running races. Competitive eater Oleg Zhornitsky once ate four large bowls of mayonnaise in eight minutes. Or, if eating is not your thing, there’s the 135- mile Badwater Ultra marathon, which begins in the sweltering desert of Death Valley, Ca. and then covers three mountain ranges. What's more, it supports a good cause. Each year, WJ raises thousands of dollars in support of Pennies for Patients, an organization that helps fight leukemia and lymphoma. For the past few years, the Burrito Mile has actually been the event that raises the most funds, according to the Bethesda Patch. Finally, the Burrito Mile is just plain fun. It's probably the only event in the world that combines athleticism, humor and charity work with such suave style. If you look past that thin layer of vomit, and honestly there's a lot less than you would expect, you'll see a great big party; one that you should be a part of. It's a creative way to help others, and there’s food. The real question is, why wouldn’t you race in the Burrito Mile?

Hatin’ On the “Day of Love” Day reminded me how single I was every time I passed Being the bitter single teenage feby a Hallmale that I am, Valentine’s Day brings mark. a certain torment to my life that makes •Comme want to yell and throw pencils at ing to every couple that smugly passes by school on with their happy couple faces. Let’s be Feb. 14 is honest,Valentine’s Day is simply a good also anoth24 hours that people use to eat an uner battle controllable amount that I hate of heart-shaped chocfacing evolates and then later feel bad about it (single or not). Commercial card stores use this day as an opportunity to suck money out of desperate boyfriends who have waited until the last minute to get their beloved partner a gift to show their love and gratitude. My arguments e r y about Valentine’s Day stand y e a r. as follows: D o •Although Valentine’s Day couples originally was just a “day of rorealize mance, ”it has recently turned that their into a commercial stunt that display of afheightens the sales of corny cards fection is truly and overpriced roses. Stores hung disturbing to peosigns that commercialize things like ple, or do they find talking teddy bears and heart-shaped themselves invisible to candies with lame sayings that make me their fellow students, want to vomit. Basically, Valentine’s Photo by Steven Groobert

By Defne Dilsiz

therefore feeling free to act as they please? •Why can’t we have a day that embraces all the single ladies? Where I can send myself roses and buy myself dinner and take myself to the new Ryan Gosling flick (never disappointing)? •What is the point of Valentine’s Day? If you loved your significant other so much, you would not need a day on the calendar to show it to everyone else; this would be an ongoing factor in your relationship. •I don’t like dealing with all the relationship drama. No, I don’t care that your boyfriend forgot it was Valentine’s Day, so stop crying. I’m just trying to use the bathroom. I know what you all are thinking: “here is this bitter girl who has nothing better to do then complain about her relationship status,” and you’re all right, my friends. I’m sure that if I was in a steady relationship, I would look forward to this day too! So my advice to the lucky few who have someone to spend this glorious day with this year is that I hope you took advantage of it! And, to the ladies and gentlemen who spent their night alone with their 80-year-old grandparents, I’m sorry. I’m sure you are a beautiful person and things will get better!





FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Listserv: Drama From the Mamas and Papas By Nathaniel Rees After hearing repeated complaints about the nasty emails circulating around the listserv, I decided to subscribe to formulate my opinion about the apparently rude emails. To tell you the truth, I was shocked. The emails sent by some parents were truly appalling and downright mean, and the back- and- forth fighting seemed like the squabbling of pre- schoolers, except with a more extensive vocabulary. This apparent complete lack of respect confused me. As students, we look up to our parents, and they in turn are supposed to serve as role models who exhibit good behavior so that we can learn to do the same. However, many parents on the listserv do just the opposite, fighting over inane topics with very angry and impolite emails. The recent flurry of negative emails was sparked by an email from a parent who wanted to know the procedure for contacting teachers over incorrect grades. After one parent responded that students should be the ones to contact the teacher to learn responsibility, multiple parents shot back negative and rude emails. One parent wrote as a response, “As a professional educator, you should be ashamed of your response.” Then, in a later email, the same parent wrote, “I think we should also clarify [her] credentials. She claims to teach ESOL at Einstein High School but, in fact, she is a para educator.”

Photo by Steven Groobert

Interactions through computers provide relative anonymity to griping parents.

These disrespectful emails completely disregard the opinions of other parents and also negate the purpose of the listserv. The listserv was not created to serve as an arena for aggressive emails and rude responses. Rather, it was created to serve as a forum for parents of students at WJ to get involved in the community and for productive feedback.

Pitch Opinion: Jeremy Lin In all corners of America, everybody knows his story. He has defied all odds, putting up points on opposing teams like Mohammad Ali raining punches on his opposition. His is a feel- good story, a man who went from sleeping on his brother’s couch to an NBA phenomenon in a matter of weeks. A man who went to Harvard, barely made the NBA and got cut from the Warriors because of his apparent lack of skill. His name is Jeremy Lin, and his unheralded rise to stardom is an incredible story. However, many sports fans across America have focused on the entirely wrong part of Lin’s story. They seem to think that Lin’s success story is even more spectacular because he is Asian. They believe that an Asian excelling at sports is a phenomenon in and of itself, because Lin is one of the first basketball superstars since Yao Ming who can trace his heritage to an Asian country. They seem to think that Lin defies the typical Asian, who excels in the classroom but not on the court. This focus on the Asian aspect of the story has led to some racial slurs. Not only are random sports fans posting racist comments on Lin’s recently-made Facebook page, but ESPN posted a

headline titled, “A Chink in the Armor” after the Knicks lost their first game with Lin in the starting lineup. Though Lin believed the comment to be accidental, and the journalist who wrote the headline has been fired, the possible racism is still a major discussion point. But, Lin’s story is incredible because of his random outburst of proficient scoring, not because he is Asian. Any ethnicity can be good at any activity, so some Americans need to get the image of the stereotypical Asian out of their heads. The seemingly impossible story also leads to a different set of questions. How could the coaches on three different NBA basketball teams not recognize the talent? Many coaches are so caught up with their expensive and heavily recruited players that they ignore the raw talent on their team. In the future, coaches should learn from Lin and give lesser-known players a chance to excel. Sometimes, a coach’s faith in a player can spark unforgettable results. Still in doubt? Just look at Jeremy Lin. He was given playing time, and a chance to show his talent. Suffice it to say, he did not pass up the opportunity.

However, completely disregarding other parents’ opinions and refusing to hear other parents’ suggestions is about as unproductive as you can get. In order for the listserv to actually benefit WJ, parents must realize that everyone deserves respect, regardless of whether their opinion is far from the opinions’ of others. Actually, parents should use the listserv as a chance to en-

rich their knowledge of parents’ opinions at WJ. In this day and age, interactions are becoming increasingly impersonal, as non-face-to-face conversations via computers are becoming the norm. Behind the mask of the computer screen, many people feel that they can say anything without being held accountable. However, this is not the case. Unlike verbal communication, once an email is sent there is no retracting it. Also, it is hard to interpret the tone of emails because there are no non-verbal cues present; a well-intentioned email can come across as aggressive and rude. Parents need to understand the dangers of sending an email to the multitudes of parents who are part of the listserv before they press the ‘send’ button. Recently, parents on the listserv have set up a “censor” mechanism where parents have to get their emails approved first, so email confrontations are avoided. I applaud the parents who have set up this system, but this system should not have to exist. Parents should be able to respect others’ opinions and develop arguments without an email approval system. So parents, before you send that next rude email, examine the consequences and understand the unproductiveness of aggressive emails. And remember, students are reading these emails too, and they might just formulate opinions about your immature behavior.



FEBRUARY 24, 2012


Catch-Up With Dr. Garran: Where is He Now? By Jenny Deutsch Last year, the WJ community was devastated to see beloved principal, leader and friend Christopher Garran step down as principal, to accept a new position as community superintendent. Because it would be quite difficult for county superintendent Joshua Starr to keep up with and take care of the day-to-day issues in all of the schools in the county, the system is broken up into six “clusters.” It is part of Garran’s job to oversee one of these communities, which includes WJ, Whitman, B-CC and Wheaton High Schools and all of the corresponding middle and elementary schools that feed into these schools. It is the community superintendent’s responsibility to support the schools, supervise their principals, monitor how they are doing and coach their leadership staffs. Garran has learned a lot so far, including the various system-wide initiatives that take place and things that go on at the system level. Garran, previously a principal in this cluster, finds it enjoyable to continue working with the same associates as be-

Dr. Garran keeps it classy in the main office.

fore but in a different way. “I knew I had great colleagues already, but that has really been reinforced for me,” said Garran. “We have a lot of really good people working out there.” Additionally, in his new job, Garran has found that he enjoys working with students at the elementary school level far more than he had initially expected he would. “I was always really afraid of elementa-

ry schools; I really didn’t understand those kindergartners or first graders,” said Garran. “To me they were just a bunch of runny noses and stuff, but now that I have gone into a lot of elementary schools, I realize there are amazing teachers and principals working there and great kids.” Although Garran Photo by Ali Jawetz does enjoy his new position, it has some drawbacks. “I have too many meetings I have to go to. And some of them are far too long, so I spend far too much of my life now sitting,” said Garran. “I [also] spend a lot more time in my car.” Last year, there were ample rumors circulating the WJ community that Garran would eventually try and become the superintendent of all of Montgomery County, after being prompted. This


rumor, however, proved not to be true. “It would be odd to become the superintendent of a system I’ve been part of for so many years,” said Garran, “and I’m still not sure if that’s what I want to do. There is a part of me that would like to do this for a couple years, and have this experience, but go back to being a school-based leader.” After spending a great deal of time in schools throughout the area, Garran still appreciates and admires the WJ area. “WJ is an awesome place and I hope people here are fully aware of that,” said Garran. “I think the new job is fun, but nothing compares with being at Walter Johnson.” He hopes that WJ students are also fully aware of how great it is here. “When you are part of a place, you sometimes take it for granted. Then, when you leave it, you realize how great it really is,” said Garran, “I knew [that] when I was here at WJ, I loved the students, the community and the faculty but I can say that I am even more aware of that now.”

Check out the full video interview at

Living and Learning in the Land of Israel By Claudia Nguyen This April, juniors Aylat Lifshitz and Haley Weinischke will board a plane and travel 6,000 miles. The two girls will attend a study abroad program for two months, at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI), which provides high school students the opportunity to learn about the country’s history. AMHSI is designed to broaden students’ views of the world, while focusing on the history of Israel. “After you learn about a place or event, you go there and you have your history class right there, where it happened,” she said. “That just seems so amazing to me. We sit through history class every year and we learn all the hard facts, but we usually have never been or will [never] go there in our lives, which doesn’t make it as meaningful.” Students stay in campus dorms in Hod HaSharon, a city just outside of Tel Aviv. AMHSI offers several different programs in which students can stay for six weeks, eight weeks or a full semester, which is four months long. While there, they are given the freedom to manage their own time and budget their spending money. “I hope to gain some independence and experience the world on my own, not with the security of my parents,” said Lifshitz. Both girls said the experience they hope to gain was a driving factor in their decision to attend the program. “I wanted something new and I wanted the experience,” said Weinischke. “My motivations were on a personal level because I have family and friends in Israel . . . but I have never lived there; [I] only visited, so I thought it was time

to change that.” In addition to gaining historical knowledge, high school students who attend AMHSI are also able to keep up with the same classes they would take at home.

“During the morning you have what they call the core class, which is the history of Israel,” Lifshitz explained. “Then after lunch, you have tutors for your different ‘sequentials,’ which are the [general studies] classes you are

Noteworthy Destinations of the AMHSI

These squares correspond with single locations that the class will visit during day trips that cover multiple destinations. The plans for these trips are listed below. 1. City of Gezer 2. Mt. Gilboa, Sachna Pools, Mt. Scopus 3. Sataf Springs, City of David, Western Wall 4. The Second Temple, Dead Sea, Masada 5. Bar Kochba caves 6. Galilee, Tzfat 7. Nof Avalon 8. Shomer Museum, Kineret 9. Jaffa, Tel Aviv 10. Yad Vashem: Holocaust Museum & Memorial 11. Atlit Detention Camp & Acco Prison (fromt the British Mandate) 12. Communities in the Negev Desert 13. Golan (northern Israel) 14. Israeli settlements and villages 15. Jerusalem, Western Wall

Graphic Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Kineret, the largest freshwater Masada is the site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the lake in Israel Southern District of Israel.

doing back at home. Then, every other day or so, you go on trips to where the events you’ve been studying took place.” But this program is not completely new to either girl. Each said knows other people who have attended the program, including friends and relatives. Weinischke said her aunt participated when she was in high school. In preparation for the program, however, Lifshitz and Weinishke have had different experiences. Lifshitz admitted to it being a bit hectic. “[There was] a lot of back and forth between my parents, my counselor and the regional director of admissions, in order to make sure all the forms were filled out and to ensure the credits will transfer okay,” said Lifshitz. “There have been a few miscommunications, but it went a lot smoother than I thought it would, and everything has been sorted out.” On the other hand, Weinishke said preparation for the trip has gone smoothly. “[The] planning process has been surprisingly easy,” she said. “Basically, it has been a lot of emails back and forth.” The girls leave in just a few months, and they have both expressed their feelings of nervousness and excitement. Lifshitz said she is eager to be gaining a different perspective and learning so many new things, but is anxious about going to live with a group of new people. However, Weinishke did not express any concerns. “I really am looking forward to everything,” she said. “I can’t wait to see my school and finally just be there. For the first time ever, I am not nervous about anything.”

FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Past SGA Presidents Leave By Megan Chun







FEBRUARY 24, 2012


Their Paw prints on WJ


Ben Shlesinger Class of 1999

Nearly 13 years have passed since former SGA president Ben Shlesinger graduated from WJ in 1999. Apart from its increase in size, Shlesinger says that the Photo courtesy of Seth Meyers “happy” vibe of the school hasn’t changed much since his high school days. “I would say, at the time, everything was really positive,” he said. Shlesinger recalled some of his responsibilities as president of the student body, which most notably included the planning of the homecoming dance and the festivities including hall decorations and accompanying spirit competitions. Shlesinger said the SGA was also in charge of running the elections for the following year. But while Shlesinger enjoyed his SGA position senior year, he wasn’t elected to student government when he ran during his junior year. “I ran for junior class president the year before, and I lost,” he said, “I figured I wanted to run again so I might as well run for president of the whole school instead of just the grade.”


Betsy Elzufon Class of 1977

Then Class of 1977’s SGA president Betsy Elzufon’s student government experience began during her junior year, when she was the chair of the Grievance Committee, which handled complaints and concerns of the student body. During her junior year, the SGA officers talked Elzufon into running for SGA president. The SGA sponsor was Inez Lebow, a new Spanish teacher at the time. During the mid-to late ‘70s, the women’s rights movement had also started to take effect. The Vietnam War had also ended just a few years earlier. According to Elzufon, the women’s rights movement, in particular, had an effect on the female students, encouraging them to run for student government positions. “We were more willing to put our-

selves out there and take on leadership roles,” she said. “The vice president, treasurer and secretary were all women also my year.” Given that WJ has not seen a female SGA president in years, Elzufon feels proud to have been one of the few female presidents. “I like being in charge and I like showing that women can achieve similar things to men if that is what they want,” she said. “Not to stereotype too much, but we [women] are more conditioned to want to achieve consensus and [to] get people with different points of view to work together towards a common goal.” Elzufon also noted that WJ was very academically charged at the time, as it is today. Although many students were interested in Ivy League colleges, Elzufon said that the University of Maryland (UMD) was much easier to get into than out of state and upper tier schools. In that sense, UMD, a popular option for today’s students, was, for many, a “backup school.” “[The University of] Maryland set up a table in the front hall of WJ and you could apply and get accepted on the spot if your GPA was high enough,” she said. “I am guessing it doesn’t work that way now.” In addition to her presidential responsibilities of addressing concerns and sug-

gestions of the student body, Elzufon wrote a monthly column in The Pitch, communicating important news to the school. After graduating, Elzufon went on to attend Cornell University and get her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in chemical engineering. She then made her way over to the west coast, to the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving her Masters Degree, Elzufon moved back to Maryland, where she got married. Shortly before the birth of her daughter, she and her husband moved back to California, where she has lived for the past 19 years. Elzufon currently resides in Davis, Calif., where she works as an environmental consultant on regulatory issues regarding wastewater treatment plants. Though it has been 35 years since she has graduated, Elzufon says that the SGA experience was a beneficial one. “I think [being SGA president] was an early lesson for me about the challenges of leading a group of people with strong personalities and how you can make things happen even when not everyone is in complete agreement,” she said.

Now Photos courtesy of Betsy Elzufon

Shlesinger added that he had help from his younger brother with putting up posters and handing out signs and stickers. Going into the race, Shlesinger was confident, partially due to his success on the wrestling team and in spirit contests. He also knew he could rely on his younger brother and his friends to help. “Yeah, I was pretty sure I was going to win,” he said. “I had more posters up, I had lots of people help me hand out all the stickers...I was confident I had a pretty good shot.” During the previous school year, former Principal Christopher Garran ran the leadership class. Garran left at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, and is now the community superintendent for the high school clusters that include WJ, B-CC, Walt Whitman and Wheaton high schools. When Shlesinger was SGA president, current Principal Jennifer Baker was the SGA and leadership class sponsor. During their respective years running the SGA, both Garran and Baker were also WJ teachers. Baker was Shlesinger’s math teacher during his freshman year; and this year was also Baker’s first teaching in Mont-

gomery County. Following graduation, Shlesinger attended American University for a year and a half before he transferred to Photo courtesy of Ben Schlesinger the University of Maryland, where he majored in broadcast journalism. He said that being the SGA president helped him become more outgoing and open to new people, a helpful skill in journalism. Through his work in journalism, Shlesinger became interested in politics. Currently, Shlesinger is the field director for Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s re-election campaign, where he reaches out to constituents through various ways, including events and the media. Some of his responsibilities include running the campaign Facebook account and finding different events and parades for the congressman to attend. As a WJ graduate living in Rockville, Shlesinger periodically visits the school to attend wrestling matches. Shlesinger has lived in the area for his entire life, and currently does not have plans to leave.


Seth Meyers


Class of 2000

The first SGA president in the new millennium, Seth Meyers still recalls being involved in student government throughout his high school career. He was a class officer in both his freshman and sophomore years. However, in his junior year, he jumped to a position in the SGA, which is atypical of recent SGAs in which all officers are students of the senior class. When Meyers ran for SGA president, he was the only person running for that position. Meyers said that he had felt like it was “cool to be smart” at WJ, both during his time as a student and in the present. He also fondly recalled memories of sports during his WJ years. “We actually had a winning football team in ‘99,” he said. “I know that 2000 [marked] the beginning of the drought.” But apart from reflecting on sports, Meyers recalled the work he did while in the SGA. One of the SGA’s responsibilities was keeping track of the school’s clubs and ensuring they met on a regular basis. Despite these practical responsibilities, their main goal was emphasizing school spirit, an aspect of WJ that

was very important to Meyers. “The big thing we wanted to do was really get school spirit going again,” he said. “[We] really [wanted to] empower different students who had different ideas [that] they wanted to take forward, [and] we would back them.” Another thing that Meyers’ SGA did was create T-shirts that could be thrown out to the crowd and distributed at sports games. “We just created different ones so [at] the different sporting events the whole crowd would have a green and white Tshirt [to wear],” he said. Meyers says that being in the SGA taught him important skills for the future. “It taught me how to run an organization,” he said. “When you have to put together or assist [in] putting together programs and represent the school at different levels, it teaches you how not to say the wrong things and how to do the right things.” After graduation, Meyers attended Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. as a business major. He now works at the The Capital Financial Group / H. Beck, Inc., as a Financial Advisor, which, coincidentally, is right around the corner from WJ. When Meyers looks outside his office’s lunch room, he can see the school campus. Additionally, avia-

Now Photos courtesy of Seth Meyers

tion has always been a passion for Meyers and he is an instrument rated pilot. Today, Meyers is still involved in the WJ community. He is a member of the WJ Education Foundation, which organizes and partakes in school events. Recently, the foundation raised over $38,000 in the adult carnival, an event held in the community to raise school funds.





FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Far Away from the Family By Sari Amiel

O n top of the schoolwork, activities and sports that fill the daily schedules of

many students, having a family member away from home for large portions of the year is an added burden, especially if this family member is in a dangerous environment. Nevertheless, according to John’s Hopkins University’s Military Child Initiative, there are 1.5 million children in public schools in the U.S. whose parents are in the military, including some students at WJ who also have family members deployed abroad. Senior Ashley Sawyers’ father, a doctor who works for the Naval Hospital, has been deployed three times in the past five years. He spent his first deployment overseas in 2007, staying for two months in Kuwait. After that, he spent Sawyers’ entire eighth grade year in the Persian Gulf and was deployed to Germany for four months in 2011. “[At first] it was kind of scary… because I didn’t really know what was going on,” said Sawyers, “but you get used to it.” Similarly, senior Mary Kate Macedonia’s father is a doctor who often travels overseas to work on updating medical facilities. A colonel, he has been registered in the army for 27 years. For a year, he was deployed as a deputy commander of a field hospital in Iraq. Starting in 2005, he also traveled to Afghanistan around four times a year, and worked on modernizing hospitals so they were better equipped to deal with traumatic brain injuryand

post-traumatic stress disorder. “If I knew [as] much [as] I did then I would’ve been afraid… but I was blissfully ignorant,” said Macedonia. “Our family kept preoccupied. We kind of adjusted.” Junior Molly Narkis also must frequently face the fact that her brother is deployed overseas. However, due to his

Photo Courtesy of Mary Kate Macedonia

Mary Kate Macedonia’s father embarks on one of his Gray Team missions for wounded warrior and Admiral Mullen.

position on a nuclear submarine, Narkis’s brother is not even authorized to inform the family of his exact location. “I feel better about the fact that he didn’t tell us [where he was] because it protected national security,” said Narkis. Narkis remembers a time two years ago when she woke up around 4 a.m. to the sound of her mother’s cell phone ringing. She ran to the phone and saw that her brother had tried to call multiple times from Saipan, an island in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern

Mariana Islands. “That was the first time we talked to him in months,” she said. “[Having a family member in the military] is hard because you can’t talk to them for long periods of time.” In 2004, Narkis’ brother joined the Navy, and has been sent to multiple locations since then. He first went to boot

Photo Courtesy of Ashely Sawyers

Ashley Sawyers and her father share a bonding moment.

camp in Illinois, and then trained in South Carolina and in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he received training in nuclear power and resources. After that, he began to travel overseas. For two years, he was stationed in San Diego. From there, he sailed in the Pacific Ocean and near the Persian Gulf a number of times. Narkis’ brother then decided to reenlist, and he now teaches at the Nuclear Power Command’s Prototype School in New York state. Sawyers’ father studied at the Naval Academy, as did many of her other rela-

tives. Like those of Narkis’ brother, his services overseas occur at irregular intervals and last for different amounts of time. Whenever he is gone, the family must make adjustments to their daily schedules. “I have to take on a lot more chores and I have to be responsible for myself and my sister,” said Sawyers. For holidays, Sawyers’ and Macedonia’s families visited relatives more. “I remember keeping tight with family friends and… going to see my mom’s part of the family,” said Macedonia. While Sawyers prefers that her father not be deployed at all, she would rather him be called to relief areas than to combat zones. She was worried when he was stationed on land in Kuwait, but his service on a ship in the Persian Gulf scared her the most since he was there for a longer amount of time. Reactions to military combat extend beyond those of the family members of a deployed individual, and often are voiced in society in the form of praise as well as criticism. Sawyers wishes that people who oppose the United States’ wars would not hold individual members of the military personally accountable for them. “Even if you don’t support the war, it’s still important to be there for the families and veterans,” she said. While Sawyers does not plan on enlisting, she will continue to support those who are connected to the military. “I plan on doing everything I can to help others who are in the service,” she said.

A Tale of Two Cities: The Sister Cities of the Area

By Matthew Morris

What do Rockville, Md., Pinneberg, Germany and Jiaxing, China all

According to Rockville Sister City Montgomery County also has a SisCorporation President Jim McConkey, ter Cities program. It currently is partthere are great benefits of the program nered with the county of Morazan, El for residents of both cities. Salvador and the two districts have or“The exchanges are designed Pinneburg, Germany ganized exchanges. to gain an understanding and The partnership respect of another culture and began in 2009, and lifestyle regardless of any lanhas worked well guage differences,” said Mcsince. A group Conkey. from El Salvador

have in common? They are all related; they are sisters, to be exact. A sister city is an official partnership between two cities in which each city helps to educate the other about a foreign culture. The partnership between Rockville and Pinneberg began in the 1957, when then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower created a program to help partner up American cities with World War II-ravaged towns in Europe and Japan. Rockville, MD Today, the partnership between Rockville and Pinneberg is managed by a nonprofit organization, the Rockville Sister City Corporation, which organizes exchanges, parades and even German Christmas decorations in the city mansion. Morazan, El Rockville also began a sister city Salvador partnership with Jiaxing, China in 2009. This was considered an important step forward because of the large population of Chinese-Americans in Rockville, according to the organization’s website.

has come to Montgomery County, and County Executive Ike Leggett has visited Morazan. Recently, the Montgomery County Sister Cities program has begun searching for another sister county. In 2011, the program considered the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh as a possible sister county. Although the two are not currently sisters, according to the Sister Cities program, they have had exchanges, and residents of Montgomery County have visited Beit Shemesh. Due to resistance to this partnership, negotiations to make this an official sister county were postponed. Though he says he hasn’t followed the issue closely, McConkey said he understands what the county is facing. “I don’t think any Sister City proposal can be made without some opposition,” said McConJiaxing, China key. “When Rockville proposed to partner with Jiaxing, it was protested by a group of 17 people objecting to a partnership with a Communist country.” According to the Washington Post, the Montgomery County Sister Cities program will now look further into building a sister city relationship with the city Photos Courtesy of of Gondor, Ethiopia.





FEBRURARY 24, 2012

A Continued Education in the Arts

WJ seniors express their hopes, expectations and worries about their continued education with art and music in college. WJ’s unique courses are helping students achieve their dreams.

By Emily Cosentino While some students’ dreams involve going to law or medical school, there are many students at WJ who plan on pursuing a non-academic education, in art. Throughout their high school careers many of these students have spent countless hours in the art wing and the music department of WJ, and now is the time for them to showcase their talent for colleges across the country. Some of these artists feel WJ’s art department has been helpful in the college preparation process. “AP art classes have had a tremendous impact on me, and groups like Photo Club have helped as well,” said senior Kathleen Branthover. “The art department has been awesome with helping me create the best work possible, and they have really pushed me in my four years here.” Some of the advanced courses offered at WJ can help many students achieve their artistic goals. Students can study and experiment with many different mediums of art, and then learn about them in further detail with the AP classes offered. Some students feel this varied course load adds to a competitive advantage. “I would have to say that I feel, with the four art courses I’ve taken senior year and the excellent and experienced art teachers at my fingertips, I really have an edge compared to other kids in my grade,” said senior Spencer Razick.

According to Razick, teachers’ expectations also serve as motivation for students to show their best work; having access to teachers who expect a lot out of their students can really have a positive effect on the quality of work produced. Going through the college application process, students have their own expectations of college. Along with these expectations, worries, hopes and anticipation fall hand in hand. “[I hope] I’ll meet tons of new people who share similar interests and create even stronger work in my next four years of school,” Branthover said. According to some students, college is a place to meet people who share similar and opposing interests. Having support from peers can help inspire and motivate students for an even greater outcome. Along with the support of students studying the same medium competition can arise. “I’m expecting art school to be highly competitive, but also inspirational because there will be so many talented people in one space,” said Razick. Razick hopes that he can experiment and learn about many different mediums to be able to better express himself. One floor up, the music department is also preparing students of all different talents to start their career in music. Many students in the music wing plan to pursue musical theatre-, instrumental-

and choir-based programs during their college years. “In my experiences the WJ music department really helped me prepare for my auditions,” said senior Isabel Carton. Carton explains how the school has taught her how to present herself with decorum and still be competitive. “I didn’t realize it until I started auditioning places, but the fact that the music teachers at WJ have such high expectations for their students makes you a lot more competitive and desirable to colleges,” she said. According to Carton, although WJ has helped her with constant support and challenges, it did not take away the nerve racking process of auditioning. She explained how no matter how much time and effort she put into practicing, in those few minutes everything boiled down to how well she performed. Despite the nervous process and the horror of the unknown future, WJ has helped students reach their dreams and overcome their fears. With advanced classes and expert teachers, students strive to represent WJ to the best of their abilities.

Top and bottom photos by senior Kathleen Branthover from her concentration about adults and children not acting their respective ages. Middle image created by senior Spencer Razick, of photography teacher Daniel Kempner.

Walter Johnson All School Booster Club We are here to support YOU! TEAMS AND CLUBS CAN EARN MONEY FROM BOOSTERS IN THESE WAYS: 1) 2) 3)

Sign up to work the concession stand at any of the events posted. All groups who work will receive $100. Sponsor, create and run a fundraising event that is co-sponsored with Booster. Take advantage of the events we already use to raise funds, or ask us to help you with your own fundraiser. Direct request for assistance. Request assistance through our Funding Request Form. TO JOIN THE BOOSTER CLUB – Look for our flier ONLINE at GOT BOOSTER?





FEBRUARY 24, 2012

The Inner Workings of Spectator Magazine words such as “forgiveness” or “the taste of blood” and allows them to use their imaginations to create a literBy Taliah Dommerholt ary work of art. “I’m glad I took creative writing this year,” said seehind-the-scenes at WJ, a tight-knit group of nior Sophie Mindes. “It made me realize that this is students dedicates a majority of their time at what I want to be doing with my life.” school each year to the production of Spectator The class is open to all students and gives them Magazine, WJ’s Literary and Art Publication. a solid period every day to create writing pieces and The magazine was founded in 1960, but only relimitless means of expression. cently, under the supervision of advisor Bill Griffiths, “The artists of this school need a mouthpiece,” said has it grown into the highly-acclaimed literary magaGriffiths. “Creative writing is the factory and Spectator zine it is today. The magazine is student-produced and is the mouthpiece. We go deep with the best work but published annually, containing a variety of literary and also offer a representation of everyone’s work.” artistic works created by students of all grade levels. Spectator also strongly values visual art. Kunkle has Spectator has proven to be very successful so far, with made it a priority to emphasize design this year, as she multiple national achievements. In 2010 alone, the is an artist herself. Throughout the first semester, she magazine was awarded the Columbia Scholastic Press focused on planning layout and getting interviews, and Association Gold Medal, the National Scholastic Press now she has to read through the influx of work from Association All American with 5 Marks of Distinction, the American Scholastic Press First Place with Special creative writing and choose which submitted pieces Merit and the American Scholastic Press Most Out- of art and photography will be incorporated in the isstanding Literary-Art Magazine award, among others. sue. After the art and literary work has been chosen, “We wanted to create a magazine that would be so Kunkle and the rest of the staff finish designing and beautiful it would make you ache,” said Griffiths. “But creating the layout for the 2012 issue. “I really want to focus on the quality of art and the so edgy that if you saw it laying there you would want presentation,” said Kunkle. “It’s about making the to steal it.” magazine the highest quality that we can. I really enjoy Spectator captures the artistic qualities of students seeing great work and putting it all together, we’re all that could otherwise go overlooked and provides a equally psyched when we’re doing something great.” means for self-expression. In addition, every year Spectator includes approxi“For me, it’s interesting because it is a collection mately two interviews with high profile people. In the of the work of peers who you maybe didn’t know past they have conducted interviews with songwriter were into that kind of thing,” said senior editor Madand recording-artist Nils Lofgren, best known as a dy Kunkle. “It’s about appreciating the work of high member of Neil Young’s band Crazy Horse and now school students.” Kunkle has worked on the magazine since her soph- with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, jazz trumpetomore year, along with a dedicated group of peers. er and singer Kermit Ruffins, Bobby Kennedy’s Press She has learned to accept all types of work and appre- Secretary Frank Mankiewicz and visionary artist Frank ciate the effort and talent that goes into all aspects of Warren of PostSecret Fame. This year, they have already interviewed actor Josh the magazine. Kunkle is excited to participate in such Gad, best known for his performance in the Broada high-quality level of journalism, in preparation for way Musical “The Book of Mormon”, and they also working on a college literary magazine. hope to include an interview with Seth Macfarlane, “Art flies under the radar and Spectator is here to an American actor, producer, comedian and screenshow it,” said Kunkle. “It’s like curating an art show.” writer, known for producing sitcoms “Family Guy”, A majority of the poetry and short stories come “American Dad!” and “The Cleveland Show.” With the from the creative writing classes taught by Griffiths. growing popularity of such interviews, Spectator hopes Griffiths gives the students inspirational phrases and to one day create another magazine entirely, focused solely on interviews. But Spectator is not only about the art—the technical aspects that go into production and the knowledge of layout, InDesign and Photoshop are all important factors in creating the magazine. And getting a solid reading base is a whole other story. Every year it is up to the business manager to ensure that Spectator is advertised and sold to as many people as possible, so that the magazine can produce sufficient revenue to keep publishing. “We needed to build desirability—people want to get it for fear that it will run out,” said Griffiths.They do this through many different means of selling and raising Photo by Steven Groobert The Spectator staff from left to right, junior Sarah Hamel, senior Danny Piccola, junior Deawareness about the content fne Dilsiz, senior Seth Gottlieb, junior Paige Cohen, senior Maddy Kunkle, senior Conor of the magazine. The magaBrodnick and senior Sofia Silva. Not pictured: senior Steven Groobert.


Pictured:A Collage of Spectator covers. Compiled by Steven Groobert

zine is a significant representation of a minority group of students at WJ, and it is the job of the staff to get the word out there that it is something worth reading. “I love selling,” said senior Business Manager Seth Gottlieb. “It’s a lot of fun. The person has no idea who you are, so you have to build this whole image for them right then and there in order to get them to buy it.” Gottlieb and senior Danny Piccola are two of the top sellers this year for Spectator, often spending evenings selling copies at WJ events and local restaurant, Black Market Bistro. As business manager, Gottlieb is in charge of raising funds, organizing sales teams and picking new places to sell the magazine. With the increase in sales over the last few years, Spectator has been able to grow from its original 36 pages to 178 pages two years ago. “I want a Spectator in every hand at every corner of every hallway at WJ,” said Gottlieb. “It is more than just the number one literary and arts magazine in the country. It is a chance for students to express themselves through a channel that school doesn’t often afford them.” Kunkle has high hopes for the 2012 magazine. Every year the staff decides on a theme for the magazine; last year’s being “Secrets.” This year possible topics include “Projections” or “Shadows and Light,” though the staff has not decided on anything yet. “Volume wise, it’s the best writing in the country,” said Griffiths. “We teach the kids to write about what’s important to them.” A guiding source of energy for the magazine is the shared goal of the entire staff and artistic contributors to produce something beautiful, and as a team they make it a priority to capture the spirit of the artistic side of WJ and make the school look good. Because of the shared pride in Spectator, the team puts an immense amount of time and effort into making their ideas for the magazine a reality. “WJ is a special place,” said Griffiths. “It has the resources without the elitism—the kids are very community and socially conscious. They are trained to work hard and enjoy their lives. It’s like teaching in Athens in 500 B.C.”



FEBRUARY 24, 2012


Tips for Pre-Summer Planning


By Taliah Dommerholt

June never seems to come fast enough, but, believe it or not, summer vacation is around the corner. To avoid spending two months in the muggy D.C. weather and falling back into the typical pool routine, now is a great time to start planning some trips. Here are just a few ideas to get your brain going. American Road Trip

Drive up to Bar Harbor, M.E., down south to Charleston, S.C., or head out west, all the way to California if time and money allow. Stop at landmarks and historical cities along the way, and, to save money, try to crash with as many friends and relatives as possible.


From hardcore backpacking to pitching a tent in the backyard, a camping trip brings friends together in the outdoors. Rocky Gap State Park, located approximately three hours away, is the prime destination for adventure seekers who want to get a taste of living in the outdoors before diving headfirst into the wilderness. Located in the rugged mountains of Allegheny County, the campground on Lake Habeeb is perfect for recreational fishing and swimming. The spacious campsites are relatively private, the facilities are clean and the pavilion by the lake is great for weekend karaoke nights. Take your bike for a bumpy spin around the lake, or if roughing it is too much for you, stop by the lodge for warm showers and an indoor pool.

Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park

Photo courtesy of

Euro Trip

Take a Hike

Hiking is a great way to get outside and enjoy the local scenery. Drive 15 minutes out to Great Falls and take a hike on the Billy Goat Trail, or make the trek to Harper’s Ferry for some local history and beautiful views of the Potomac River. If you’re feeling daring, drive down to Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, for a steady hike and then a strenuous rock scramble.

This trip can really be left up to your own creativity. Whether it’s a tour of Scandinavia, a vacation in the Mediterranean or the more traditional route through London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, by staying at youth hostels and utilizing the train systems, a trip to Europe can be an excellent opportunity to gain independence and explore other cultures.

Beach Day Trip

Leave your house before eight and drive out to Bethany or Rehoboth, stopping at farmer’s markets along the way for some fresh fruit. Get to the coast in time for lunch and spend the rest of the day tanning on the sand, jumping waves in the ocean, building sandcastles and cruising the boardwalk.


Word Search: The Oscars

Sudoku courtesy of Gnome Sudoku

Word Search by Taliah Dommerholt



See answers online at!

WORDS Brad Pitt, Dragon Tattoo, Gary Oldman, George Clooney, Glenn Close, Hugo, Jean Dujardin, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Rango, Rooney Mara, The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Tinker Tailor, War Horse

FEBRUARY 24, 2012





Third Base Wildcat Reviews The Humor Column

These critically acclaimed films all have Oscar Nominations and are films worth viewing for their unique plot lines and high cinematogrpahic qualities.

By Defne Dilsiz If you didn’t watch this year’s Grammys, fret not. Starting off with Nicki Minaj’s.....performance? Let me start off by saying I think Minaj is one of the most dominant women in the music industry, and she gives all male rappers a run for their money. Plus, I totally support artists expressing their artistic visions, but what Nicki did could have possibly scarred me for life. The Grammys are supposed to be a showcase and tribute for the many talented artists, including Minaj, who entertain us from day to day. Not only did Minaj fail to demonstrate her talent, but she also probably lost half of her fan base that night. What she did that night continues to puzzle me, and her screeching is still echoing in my nightmares. Chris Brown’s big return in Feb. 12’s Grammys brought in quite the buzz, and left critics and the public questioning whether he deserved the comeback spotlight. Brown’s performance was embarrassingly lip-synched and his dance moves made me uncomfortable to the point where I felt obligated to change the channel. The real question is: who even let him onstage? If I may remind everyone, three years ago he faced charges for his physical altercation with Rihanna right before the 2009 Grammys’ red carpet. What message are we trying to send through rewarding him by letting him perform in the presence of Sir Paul McCartney, Adele and Bruce Springsteen? He also won the best R&B album, which was a fact I almost came to bitterly accept until he tweeted, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY NOW!” Obviously a really mature guy. On a more uplifting note, Jennifer Hudson graced us with a beautifully bittersweet tribute to Whitney Houston, singing “I Will Always Love You”. Paul McCartney, one of the most popular musicians in the world, later serenaded everyone from ages one to 100 with the song “My Valentine”. Five minutes later, “Who is Paul McCartney?” was trending on Twitter, along with “Katy (Perry) is a legend.” Nothing odd about those two trending topics. Gaga seemed to really tone it down this year with her outfit, which was disappointing; I was waiting for her to fly in dressed as Albus Dumbledore riding a Nimbus 2000. Gaga may have foreseen that she would, after winning three last year, lose all of her nominations to the lady of the night, Adele. Everyone else pretty much bored me. I was waiting for Kanye, who was a no-show, to rush onstage and make another scene about how he thinks someone else should have won when Bon Iver (who well deserved it) snatched best new artist. But, unfortunately, no such luck.

Image courtesy of

The Descendants

By Ali Jawetz

This movie succeeded in simultaneously being one of the best and one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. My mother often calls me heartless due to the fact that I never (with only two exceptions) shed tears at movies; this movie was capable of breaking through my usual detachment. (In case you were wondering, the other movie was “Toy Story 3”…) In his role as Matt King, George Clooney is, as usual, fantastic. He dominates the movie, playing a confused husband trying to hold his family together while his wife lays in a coma as a result of a water skiing accident. The King family technically descends from the marriage between a missionary’s son and a native Polynesian princess, a union that allowed Clooney’s family to own a large share of the Hawaiian island (hence the title of the movie). The movie centers around Clooney’s character’s struggle to make a big business decision and a big family decision. Both these struggles exhibit a perfect balance between heart-wrenching and humorous moments. All the Academy Award nominations for this movie, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Film Editing, are warranted. You will love this movie even though it will make you cry. As a side note, the screenplay was written by Jim Rash, the bald guy who plays the dean in the TV show “Community,” which is a reason to see the movie in and of itself.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy By Cameron Keyani Do you love cigarettes, melancholy jazz, and closeups of Gary Oldman’s face? If not, you might have a problem with “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. To call this movie slow would be a grave understatement. This movie crawls by on turtle feet, and makes no apologies. When this movie’s internal clock turns on, it hits hard. Its comedy is hilarious. Its tragedy is heartbreaking. Its violence is realistic and brutal. But these factors are so submerged in a sea of mumbling conversations in dimly-lit rooms and the aforementioned silent shots of Oldman looking pensive, that they can be hard to appreciate. And this is coming from someone who liked the movie. Even so, “Tinker” is not for everyone. The story of George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a sacked M16 official brought out of forced retirement when a field agent (Tom Hardy) alleges the existence of a Soviet mole at the highest echelons of English Intelligence, is a very dry one, even with the acting chops of Ciaran Hinds, John Hurt, Mark Strong and 2011 Best Actor Winner Colin Firth backing it up. This movie requires close attention, which is paradoxical given how slow and sleep-inducing some parts can be. If you don’t take note of the many characters and plot developments, there is little to enjoy here, much less to understand. I have a feeling that Gary Oldman, as much as he deserves it, will not get a Best Actor Statue, due to popular favor of George Clooney and Jean Dujardin, and that this movie will go down in history as an odd little film, financially and critically successful but thoroughly out of place in the movie climate of its time.

By Ali Jawetz


This Best Picture-nominated movie deserves all its hype. Both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill gave great performances as the general managers of Oakland Athletics in 2002, and the plot, while lengthy (with a running time of 133 minutes), never ceased to grab my attention. The movie, written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (the latter wrote the award-winning screenplay of “The Social Network”) is about the restructuring of a baseball team based on statistics. This idea may seem dry, but the movie exhibits a masterful use of flashbacks, music, emotion and even suspense. The drama of the movie surrounds the entrance of Jonah Hill’s character, Peter Brand, into the Oakland Athletics’ managing team. Brand graduated from Yale with a degree in economics (not exactly an experienced baseball scout), but he creates an algorithm to determine each player’s value in terms of the number of wins they can produce. This is an entirely novel concept, given that baseball scouts typically only consider age, strength and other external factors, rather than pure numbers. The baseball world does not accept this change, and the movie illustrates the struggles of Billy Beane (Pitt) trying to improve the team to which he has dedicated his life. The film also features a poignant performance from Kerris Dorsey (“Brothers and Sisters”) as Beane’s daughter, Casey. She is talented, and the beauty of their relationship is a special treat in the movie.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By Cameron Keyani

This is a movie so good it just has to be adapted from a book series of the same name. While the screenwriting is good, they simply don’t write original scripts like this anymore.This movie is an adaptation of the late Stieg Larsson’s popular Millennium book series, but it stands alone as a film as well. The aforementioned genius plot is further augmented by masterful acting, beautiful cinematography and an awesome soundtrack, composed by 9 Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. The movie, about a disgraced journalist Michael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) hired to solve a 40-yearold murder, has so many great characters, but the one that stands out is the eponymous girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) She’s everything. She’s witty, she’s rude, she’s violent, she’s a genius, she’s pale and sickly and repulsive and pierced in all the wrong places, but she is also strangely attractive. Above all, she is incredibly well-acted. If any movie is to amaze viewers to the point that they forget they are even watching a movie, it’s this one. The acting is so good and organic, especially Mara’s, that it transports the viewer to another world, the world of mystery and sexual abuse “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” presents to the viewer. The Academy better give this movie the recognition (and the statues) it deserves. This movie is the “Clockwork Orange” of its time, a graphic, dark and crazy odyssey neatly packaged into a two-hour movie.



FEBRUARY 24, 2012



Local Matt Eiden Trains Both High School Athletes and the Pros

By Ellie Jorling

cially because of the injuries that can occur. “I have a knee problem called ‘runner’s knee,’” said Rowthorn. “Basically, it means your knees are not strong enough to support your thigh muscles. The way to cure this problem is by strengthening your knees, and this involves personal training and certain workouts.” As Eiden says, a personal trainer’s job is to teach young athletes “when to push, when to back off, how to peak at the right time. There needs to be a trained eye watching them…to see what they are doing wrong and fix it on the spot so they do not create injuries by being out of balance or not correcting their weaknesses,” said Eiden. He said that the most common problems and injuries he sees are bad posture and tendonitis in the knee, shoulder, elbow and lower back, due to overtraining or training in the wrong manner. To senior field hockey player Taylor Swift, Eiden’s training has been incredibly beneficial. “I want to play field hockey in college next year, and I felt that having a personal trainer…could only improve my abilities, both for my club teams and for college,” said Swift. Eiden, who has also trained Washington Nationals players Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, grew up in Silver Spring Photo courtesy of Matt Eiden and attended St. John’s Eiden has worked with a number of professional athletes, in- College High School in

When most people think of personal training, they typically think of professional athletes. However, with more young athletes playing year-round sports, and some even pursuing college and professional careers, personal training has become more commonplace. Matt Eiden, a personal trainer at Champions Field House in Rockville, who trains several WJ athletes, said, “there is a huge[ly] uneducated…training market with athletes of all ages today…[when] teaching in large groups [it] is very hard to give everyone the attention they need to make sure they are doing all they need to be doing their best.” Sophomore Anna Rowthorn, who plays field hockey on the varsity team and also on a travel team, believes that personal training is very important in order to play well at a high level, espe-

cluding working part time with the Washington Nationals.

Washington, D.C. “I was never extremely athletic [as a child] but I was a very hard worker,” Eiden said. “I played most all sports and tell all my clients that they should do the same as youths. Developing as many skills as possible is essential.” Both Swift and Rowthorn would recommend personal training to other young athPhoto courtesy of Matt Eiden letes looking to Eiden, above, personally trains athletes of different skill levels in a improve their variety of sports . physical abilities. “I think that it is very important to both girls say that they work very hard be physically fit and to keep it up by during their sessions with Eiden. “I’m one of the first to complain evtraining a lot,” said Rowthorn. “I recomery week about having to do Matt’s exmend that young athletes start out the ercises, but honestly, it has benefitted personal training young, and try to do me a lot. I definitely think my legs are a it consistently, like a few times a week.” lot stronger from all the squats, lunges Even though field hockey requires and weight exercises we do, even if it is some specialized training, Eiden said painful,” said Swift. “There are sport specific movements in However, Swift realizes that all of the some sports, but in most cases it comes work does come with a reward down to strength, acceleration, top “I would definitely recommend [perspeed, change of direction and reaction sonal strength training] to any athlete and the ability to do all of these skills as who wants to improve their game. As naturally as possible. [All of these skills] the saying goes, ‘no pain, no gain,’ and can be grown and developed and immy experience with having Matt as a proved.” personal trainer has been just that,” said Individualized training is not easy, and Swift.





FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Rolling Start

In just its second year of existence as a varsity sport, the WJ bocce ball team has successfully offered kids with disabilities an athletic opportunity By Daniel Thaler This winter season, WJ’s most successful team in terms of record is not one of the basketball teams or the wrestling team but rather the newest team at the school, bocce ball. Coached by Physical Education teacher Butch Worden, the bocce ball team offers a unique component in that athletes around the school who had not yet gotten a shot at high school sports finally are given the opportunity to prove their athletic worth and fulfill their competitive urges. Montgomery County bocce ball rules require that “at least 50 percent of the roster should be players with intellectual and other types of disabilities.” “In the past, these players have been kind of ostracized and now they actually have something where they can feel they’re part of the school community when it comes to athletics,” said Worden. Last year, the county began requiring each school to have a bocce ball team, and WJ created one but lacked the organized makeup of a legitimate varsity sport. Worden noticed the team didn’t have a coach and so he decided to volunteer. “There wasn’t a coach last year, which is why I said ‘that’s a travesty and I’ll do it,’” said Worden. “It’s very rewarding because you get a lot of kids who haven’t played other sports and for them this is like the greatest thing.” There are still four schools (Damascus, Einstein, Poolesville and Wootton) who aren’t able to put together a team and therefore don’t offer bocce ball, but every other school in the county does. Senior Cody Chatham and freshman

Peter Caggiano both assist Worden with the team. After being around the players, Chatham has noticed their satisfaction. “They enjoy it. It gives them the same competitive edge as players in other sports. At first I didn’t think it would be that competitive but they really get into it,” said Chatham. “Also, it’s definitely been important [to their social lives]. They always say hi to me in the hallway and I say hi back.” Senior Sean Ratnasinghe has especially relished his time playing on the Bocce ball team. “I look forward to [bocce ball] every single day,” said Ratnasinghe. Ratnasinghe first found out about Bocce ball when his English teacher passed out forms and he decided to join despite not knowing all the rules. He now attends all the practices he can and feels he has improved throughout the season. His favorite part of being on the team is that he finds it to be very sociable. Similar to Ratnasinghe, freshman Kevin Christensen feels a strong bond with his teammates. “Everyone on the team is really nice. I think everyone on the team is basically friends. It’s cool,” said Christensen. Christensen likes that he can compete despite not being extremely athletic. The team is something that will stick out in his mind when reflecting back on high school in the far future. “[My favorite thing about being on the team is that] it’s a fun game and you don’t have to be real athletic,” said Christensen. “I think I’ll always remember it just like people who play football will always remember playing football.” Junior Lora Jones has enjoyed playing

Photo by Steven Groobert

Senior Sean Ratnasinghe takes a roll in practice as his teammates and head coach Butch Worden look on.

Basic Bocce Rules

Photo by Steven Groobert

Played on a court with boundariesthat are 60 ft long x 12 ft wide. A randomly selected player throws the small yellow ball called the Pallina to start a frame. Four players playing for each team at a time. Within a frame each team gets four balls so each player rolls once. Team with ball closest to Pallina at the end of the frame gets a point.

this season so much so that she’s trying to put together a team with her dad at their church. In preparation for games, the team holds practices during every lunch, in addition to Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. The players have benefited from their dedication, dominating throughout the regular season. They cruised through the first six games but had the undefeated record snatched away at the hands of a controversial ruling in a game against Northwood. With 58 seconds left and WJ within reaching distance of a one point deficit, the referee stopped the game for no apparent reason. Despite strong protest from the WJ team, Northwood was awarded the win. “I didn’t like what [the refs] did to us. They changed the rules up on us,” said Christensen. Worden was particularly unhappy with the outcome and sent out multiple complaints. All he got in response were apology emails, including one from the head of Montgomery County athletics William Beattie. “I’m still bothered by what I felt was an unfair decision by the officials,” said

Worden. “We work so hard, we accomplish so much and they’re just going to take it away from us unfairly. So that’s kind of unsettling.” Worden describes himself as always having been a competitive guy, but at the same time he’s made sure to maximize participation. Unlike some other teams, Worden cycles through every player so that everyone gets a chance in the game. “I took the approach that everyone is going to participate so it made it fun for everybody and it’s just worked out for us,” said Worden. With state championships coming up, the bocce ball team looks to finish up strong. Ratnasinghe, Christensen and Jones, alongside seniors Stephen Eure, Nicole Mercer and Brooks Sabotano, juniors Bijan Fardoust and Ashley Murphy, sophomores Rebecca Gillman, Madeleine Goldberg, Yurielis Rodriquez and Talia Skolnik, and freshmen Michael Greenan, Jose Pablo Casasola, Wuseok Choi and Mirsab Shams, and will try to get the first of possibly many banners in years to come.



FEBRUARY 24, 2012

The Winter All-Pitch Team



The Sports staff continues its seasonal installment of The All-Pitch Team, selecting 12 athletes deemed the best in the school for on-field performances and off-field leadership. The staff consulted coaches, compared statistics and referenced media outlets to compile the team.

Joshua Ellis

Laura Dally

Sr., Track and Field

Sr., Track and Field

Barry Mangold

Garrett Powell

Jr., Swim and Dive

Sr., Swim and Dive

Ryan Lynch

Kristen Larrick

Samantha Stadnik

Max McCleskey

Elad Covaliu

Sr., Wrestling

Sr., Wrestling

Brooks Sabatano

Annie Kastler

Sr., Bocce Ball

Sr., Swim and Dive

Halid Hamadi

McCleskey has had a successful season; Covaliu has been a stalwart on the wreshe consistently scored points for the tling team for the past four years and is a team and finished third in his weight state title contender again this year. class at counties.

In bocce’s first year as a county sport, Captain of the Dive Team, Kastler finSabatano emerged as the team’s leader. ished second at Metros while breaking He was the team’s highest scorer and her scoring record from last year. led the Wildcats to a winning season.

Sr., Boys Basketball

A four-year varsity contributor, Hamadi has continued his dominance in the paint this season on both ends of the floor. Photos by Steven Groobert

Fielder’s Choice

Why watching the Superbowl alone was the best thing I’ve ever done By Phillip Resnick

I am one of the biggest sports fans I know. I watch almost every Caps and Redskins game, and regularly keep up to date with the Nationals, Orioles and Wizards. I tend to know about major sports news the day that it happens and

Ellis ranks 43rd in the nation this year Dally wrapped up another successful with a 4:20.72 split and has always been season excelling in the 55m hurdles: the a top performer in the running pro- senior ranked 84th in the nation in the event. gram.

Mangold was an important member of Powell has torn through the record the team this year, breaking several in- books during his senior campaign, individual records and swimming on re- cluding smashing the 500m Freestyle cord-breaking relays. record at Metros.

Lynch was yet again one of the top of- Larrick led the team in scoring and fensive contributors for the Wildcats, dominated the paint defensively. She leading the team with 14.7 PPG. was a key factor in helping the team earn a first round playoff bye.

Sr., Boys Basketball

Jr., Girls Basketball

Stadnik was a team leader on and off the court, doing everything she could to lead the Lady Cats to their first division title since 1999. is the most visited website on my computer. And, up until this year, like every other good sports fan, I had never watched a Superbowl alone. It wasn’t by choice, but I wound up watching the Superbowl with my two new best friends for the night; a box of tissues and a hot cup of noodles. Every year, I have spent Superbowl Sunday at a party, be it with friends or family, but I had have never watched the Big Game alone. At 6 p.m., when the game started, I figured it would be one of the worst experiences of my life. Boy, was I wrong.

About 10 minutes after the game was over, I realized that watching the Superbowl alone was one of the greatest things I had have ever done. Maybe it was because I was doped up on NyQuil and sleep-deprived, but I had my reasons.When Tom Brady threw the ball away for a safety on the Patriots’ first play from scrimmage, I didn’t have 15 people jumping around and screaming that it was the right or wrong call or that Brady sucked and was an idiot. When Mario Manningham hauled in “The Catch pt. 2,” I didn’t have anyone in my ear analyzing the 20 plus instant replays

and telling me whether, based on their football expertise it was a catch or not. When Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski fell just short of catching Tom Brady’s last second Hail Mary, I didn’t have a room full of people throw plates full of food at me while jumping from their seats in jubilation or frustration. It was just me and my tissues, soaking in the moment as it happened. In hindsight, I would to have loved to go to a Superbowl party and watched the game with my friends. All I’m saying, though, is that it wasn’t that bad watching it alone.

Sr., Girls Basketball

Sports 20

What’s Inside 18 19 17 Professional trainer WJ’s newest sport: The 2012 Matt Eiden works with WJ athletes

FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Boys Basketball By Daniel Thaler

It has been an up-and-down season for the boy’s varsity basketball team. First year head coach Mark Karver has effectively utilized the team’s size and athleticism, but consistency has been a major weakness. With injuries to key players senior Harrison Gibert and junior Sean Poosson, it has been a challenge to maintain chemistry and energy throughout all four quarters. Nonetheless, the Wildcats went on a four-game winning streak in January and through 19 games held a record of 10-9. In particular, they gutted out a big win against rival B-CC. “B-CC at home was the most significant as far as to how well we played. The second half of the B-CC game was amazing and we really showed how good we could be,” said Karver. The experienced team now looks to make a deep playoff run, something they have not been able to do in recent years. Tonight the Wildcats tip off the playoffs against Wootton. They will rely on leading scorer senior Ryan Lynch’s playmaking abilities and senior Halid Hamadi’s dominance in the paint to push this team to its full potential.

Swim and Dive continued a very successful season with a great showing at Metros on Feb. 11. The boys finished as the best public school in the metropolitan area and the girls finished seventh overall. Senior Garrett Powell set multiple records and the girls side saw outstanding performances from senior diver Annie Kastler and sophomore Natsumi Horikawa. “I’ve been very happy with the season so far,” said head coach Jamie Grimes. Powell, along with junior captain Barry Mangold, has torn through the school’s record book, setting a combined five new team records this season.

Above photos courtesy of Andrew Ship

Clockwise from top left: freshman Hannah Ship, junior Barry Mangold, senior Samantha Boyd, senior Laura Dally, senior Elad Covaliu and senior Halid Hamadi

Photo courtesy of Jim Ackerman

Winter Season Wrapup

Wrestling Photo by Steven Groobert

Wrestling had one of its best seasons in years, finishing with a 25-4 record and winning its division for the first time in 24 years. The team tied for fourth in the region. The wrestling team is in the toughest division in the county, against Wootton, Whitman and Churchill, and, unlike other schools, WJ does not have a feeder program, which means the schools train the students in middle school for high school. The team is tied for fourth best wrestling team in the region. Wrestling did not start out too well by losing its first match to Damascus. The team did not have the weights solidified in the beginning. They also lost games because of coin tosses. Because the winner of a coin toss decides when

The girls side hasn’t been as successful, though they have had some standout performances from underclassmen to fill the void left after losing Sidney Drill and Elizabeth Pepper last season. “The boys team is the strongest it has been in years,” said senior captain Cara Machlin. “On the girls side, we lost a lot of strong swimmers last year, but a number of underclassmen stepped up and helped us have a successful season.” This weekend the boys team looks to sweep the playoffs and win their first ever state title while the girls look to build on a fourth place finish at regionals.

Photo by Steven Groobert

Winter All-Pitch Team Photo courtesy of Jim Ackerman

Swim and Dive

By Phillip Resnick

By Anders Norberg

Bocce Ball

Girls Basketball By Phillip Resnick

After a coaching change and the loss of All-Gazette captain Sarah Howie, there were a lot of question marks entering the 2011-2012 season. Coming off of an 8-14 season, the team had only two seniors on its roster and a number of underclassmen. All of these questions were answered, as the team finished 17-3 and tied for the division title with Churchill. “I am sure that the win against Churchill at home will be something that this team will never forget,” said first year head coach Lindsay Zegowitz. “It is exciting to know you are one of the top teams in Montgomery County.” The team was ranked sixth in the county by The Gazette last week and has only improved as the season has progressed. Zegowitz attributes the success to the strong leadership of senior captains Samantha Stadnik and Samantha Boyd. “We have really good chemistry and we all love each other so it makes leading the team really easy,” said Stadnik. The team drew a first round bye and will face the winner of Clarksburg-Kennedy on Monday, Feb. 27.

Indoor Track

Photo courtesy of

By Anders Norberg to send out their wrestler, one team’s This year’s indoor track season ended committed to practicing,” said Rogers, best wrestler may not face that of the other team’s. Even with all this, wrestling was able to persevere and win the division. “[The team is] very tight [and] very friendly, supports one another and varsity teaches JV,” said coach Tom Wheeler. Prior to this year, wrestling was more of an individual sport, but now every member cheers each other on and helps their teammates. Last year, the team did not have any seniors, but this season they have 10 seniors who all stepped up and acted like leaders. Next year, the team will lose a number of key wrestlers including Elad Covaliu and Timmy Forline. They are leaving behind a legacy that WJ will never forget.

well with some great accomplishments, such as senior Laura Dally breaking the school record in the 55 hurdles and becoming county champion. Also, senior Joshua Ellis won the Virginia Tech invitational Mile and became the third fastest indoor miler in WJ history. According to coach Tom Rogers, this year’s team didn’t have as much depth as last year’s, because there were not enough people at a higher level to be switched around for events. There also were not many new participants for the field events. Luckily, this year’s team had good weather during the season and was very devoted. “Indoor track is a hard sport because you have to run all winter and be very

one of the coaches for indoor track, “so many members of the year’s team stuck it out during the bad weather and really made a commitment to get better.” Although Rogers said there was a lack of commitment in some of the upperclassmen, several of them stepped up for the team, such as Dally, Ellis, seniors Sarah Breen and James Sauro and junior Aldo Filas. Next year, indoor track hopes for another season of good weather and some development of their field events and sprints, as well as a continuation in the tradition of great distance running.

The Pitch Feb. 24 2012  

Feb. 24, 2012 Issue of Walter Johnson HS's newspaper, The Pitch.

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