Page 1


DECEMBER 2013-2014



180 S. Livernois Rochester Hills, MI 48307 Volume 76

Several RHS staff members participated in the Toys for Tots charity this year, among other staff bonding events. Pages 6-7

Check out a list of music suggestions based on your interests and find out who’s listening to what when. Pages 12-13

Issue 4

Dec. 20, 2013

The Road to the Rose Bowl: After Michigan State University’s win against Ohio State University, MSU will face Standford University in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Pages 18-19




During the week of Nov. 17, RHS grade levels competed in the annual canned food drive. Over the course of the week, a total of 5,147 cans were collected and donated to the Rochester Neighborhood House who will distribute the cans to those in need. The juniors gathered the most cans out of all four grade levels, placing first with a total of 1,447 cans. Seniors took second place with 1,268 cans raised. Closely following them, the sophomores collected 1,102 cans, placing third, and freshman took last with 660 cans gathered. In addition, social studies teacher Mrs. Laura Matthews’ first hour class collected 614 cans, the most cans that were raised from one first hour class. With this accomplishment, Mrs. Matthews’ first hour received a free bagel breakfast, complementary of Student Council (STUGO). “The first day of the canned drive, no one brought cans in. The second day, no one brought cans in. 36 kids are in my first hour, so I said everyone is required to bring in at least one can,” Mrs. Matthews said. “They brought in so much more. I was really proud of them.” STUGO members who helped organize the event, seniors Nick DeLang and Micheala Smith, were pleased with the overall outcome of the drive. “We beat our total from last year and it is our highest total in the time we have been doing the can drive,” DeLang and Smith said. “It was an exciting event that we found to be very successful and it is nice to know that our cans and money are going to a good cause.”

Rochester hosted its annual Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade downtown on Dec. 8 where over 100 exhibitions marched and drove down Main Street. Among those exhibitors was RHS’s Robotics Team, the Falcon Engineering and Design Team (FEDS), who showcased their Pirate-themed float they made along with teams from Adams High School and Notre Dame Prep three weeks prior to the parade. Senior Tim Pietrzyk describes working with the other teams. “It was really cool to see that three different teams come together to build a float for a common goal,” Pietrzyk said. As a result of their hard work, the FEDS’s float took first place in the High School/College category and the Grand Marshall Award, meaning they showed great pride. “Even though it was cold, it was fun to see our hard work come together and win us the Grand Marshall’s award,” junior John Cockerill said. “Being with friends and having a good time made up for the weather.”

Photo Courtesy of Joe Philipson

Photo Courtesy of BU Interactive News

STATE A local McDonald’s restaurant in Southfield was forced to close Dec. 5 after its employees walked out and gathered outside to protest for higher wages. Currently, the minimum wage in Michigan is $7.40 an hour, and the protesters of McDonald’s have deemed this not enough to sustain a decent life. Senior Alison Friebe agrees. “McDonald’s makes a ton of money, so the workers feel it is unfair for the workers to get such remedial pay,” senior Alison Friebe said. “They deserve more pay because the company makes so much profit.” Over roughly 200 protesters crowded the restaurant, carrying signs that read “We are worth more. Strike for 15,” meaning increasing the minimum wage for $15 an hour instead of $7. Having the wage increased to $15 an hour would be about $31,000 a year for full-time employees, more than double the federal minimum wage of about $15,000 a year. “I agree that they should get paid more, but not for 15 dollars for flipping burgers and cooking fries when people who are trying to get a college degrees are earning $15 an hour,” Friebe said.


Photo Courtesy of Domenico

U.S. At the start of the new year, Jan. 1 2014, the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, will be available to the nation. First signed into law in March of 2010, the act promises affordable health care for Americans by forbidding discrimination based on previous health conditions, and ending annual limits on what insurance companies can cover. With ObamaCare, it is estimated that the average American citizen would pay between three percent and nine percent of their total income after cost assistance. Sophomore Jasvant Dosanjh is hopeful that the will work. “There is a fifty-fifty chance of it actually working, because you have to sign up through the website,” Dosanjh said. “The website does not work, but once the website is actually working correctly, it will work.” First introduced on Oct. 1, is the website that allows citizens to sign up for health care insurance for Jan.1 and avoid paying the Shared Responsibility Fee. Since its debut, however, the website has gone through numerous technical difficulties, resulting in a much lower enrollment expectancy than the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of seven million for 2014. As a result of difficulties in signing up for health care, many, like Senior Natalie Koski remains skeptical of the reform. “How do you expect people to get something on Jan. 1 when it isn’t even working?” Koski said. “I know healthcare right now is not affordable, but not everyone will get good coverage through ObamaCare because it is not really that affordable.”

WORLD Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Quna on Dec. l5 after passing away at age 95 on Dec. 5 due to a series of reoccurring lung infections. Mandela’s death hit headline news as nations around the world mourned the death of a man who, after 27 years of imprisonment, was able to lead South Africa out of the decade of apartheid and into a democratic society. Junior Matt Schira recalls the legacy Mandela has left behind. “I think he was considered a hero because he stood up against what was wrong even when everybody was saying not to,” Schira said. “I hope other people take away from his legacy that no matter the circumstances, if you see something that’s wrong and unjust in the world, you should stand up against it.” On Dec. 11 President Barack Obama televised a eulogy for Mandela in Johannesburg, classifying the South African as a man whose name will never be forgotten. “We lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on Earth,” President Obama said. “He no longer belongs to us – he belongs to the ages.”




NCA accreditation auditors return


Southern. RHS falls in the North Central Division and all Rochester On Tuesday, Jan. 14 and Community Schools participate in Wednesday, Jan. 15, five members AdvancEd accreditation. of the North Central Association Preparing for the visit is a large Commission on Accreditation and undertaking. School Improvement (NCA CASI) “We have to complete many will be touring RHS; observing different forms for them to look what’s going on in classrooms in over prior to their coming and 20-minute increments; interviewing look over all our artifacts to make students, teachers, support staff, sure we’ve included everything,” administrators and parents; checking Mrs. Harris said. “We make meal that all the paperwork has been and hotel accommodations for the properly submitted; and evaluating accreditation team members to stay the evidence that RHS has met its for the two days they’ll be here. three NCA goals before deciding We also inform staff members on whether or not to extend NCA what will be happening, as the Accreditation to RHS. This process accreditation team will briefly step occurs every five years. into classrooms throughout the day to Because of observe.” the tremendous The NCA amount of work team prepped Our school feels strongly involved with the staff at about achieving the goals preparing for the a meeting we set for ourselves and are visit, three staff on Tuesday, constantly improving our members serve a Dec. 10 after five-year term as school. They teaching. NCA committee encouraged chairs. This MRS. JULIE HARRIS, NCA CHAIR staff not to includes media be nervous center specialist because we Julie Harris and are confident science teachers Kelly Ortman and that we are a quality school. A “U.S. Erin Slomka. News and World Report” study of “Responsibilities include assisting over 21,000 schools in America with projects and initiatives for all revealed that RHS was 933 in the teachers to participate in that help us nation and 24 in the state of Mich. On meet our three school improvement the days that the NCA auditors will goals,” Mrs. Harris said. “We collect be observing, they will engage in what AdvancEd calls ‘artifacts,’ different situations in which they will which are samples of lessons, student get the opportunity to see RHS from work, and test results that have all multiple viewpoints. been used in working towards the “On the days the five members goals.” will be walking through, they will be Simply stating RHS’s goals entering classrooms, doing and accomplishments is not nearly observations for 20 minutes at a time, enough. It is also the job of the three and  speaking to students for random staff members to prove why RHS interviews,” Ms. Ortman said. “There deserves accreditation. is going to be a 45-minute student “A big huge part of what we do interview where some students are is making sure our data supports going to go down voluntarily, or what we say our self-assessment may be asked to participate in an is currently,” Ms. Ortman said. interview.” “Including where we are in regards One student who has been selected to that, if we are doing well, if we are to represent the Falcons is senior doing better or if we are doing worse, Ludovic Clavette-LaChappelle. so every year we have to reassess and “I feel the quality of education reevaluate all of our data.” is great [at RHS] and teachers are AdvancEd is the state accrediting always there for you before school organization and was created by or after school to answer questions,” the U.S. Department of Education. Clavette-LaChappelle said. “I feel The four divisions include: North like I’m really prepared for and the Central, Northwest, Western and workload I’m bound to experience


Graphic by Brian Palmer

All students should meet college readiness standards for . . .



Timed testing and timed bell work practices.

Instruction of question formats used on ACT tests.

Practice with time management skills.

Practice with and test questions written in ACT question formats.

Additional instruction with prealgebra skill set. Practice with multi-step questions. Basic geometry formulas incorporated into lessons to strengthen memorization. Practice with story problems and longer word problems. Pre-algebra and algebra story problems incorporated into daily homework.

Instruction in reading for meaning of informational text. Additional readings of informational text in a timed setting. Instruction of test-taking skills.

Lessons that require students to analyze information from various sources and conflicting theories. Presentations of data and models that support or contradict a hypothesis, prediction, or conclusion. Increased use of inquiry-based labs. Instruction and practice with evaluating models and making inferences using experimental results and data.

Instruction of mnemonic strategies.

Instruction in comprehending negative values (using math skills).

Incentives for reading participation and improvement.

Practice with extrapolating data presented in a table or graph. Practice with deriving key information from text.

Pre-algebra notes and homework that contain repetition.

Instruction of question formats used on ACT tests.

Algebra practice with both 2 and 3 variable systems.

Cross-curricular connections made throughout regular instruction.

Regular review of basic geometry vocabulary.

there.” Some students and parents were not aware that RHS was NCA accredited. “I don’t even know what that means,” junior Emma Kowal said.


“Overall, I think it would be good for our reputation to show other districts what we are capable of doing.” The RHS staff feels strongly about the benefits of accreditation. “Our school feels strongly

about achieving the goals we set for ourselves and are constantly improving our teaching,” Mrs. Harris said. “We want that to show through and being accredited by NCA is just one way.”



ullmann Danielle K


As college tuition rises, students question whether or not a college degree will be worth it for their career path. BY DANIELLE KULLMANN “So, what are you doing after you graduate?” During his high school career, Jared Pardoski, ‘11, heard this a lot. Most of his classmates were discussing college options: where they would go, what they would study and what career they would go into. However, Pardoski wanted to do two things when he left high school: play hockey and work; he was not interested in attending college. According to a study done by “The New York Times,” the cost of a college education has been increasing since 2004, leaving nearly 37 million students with outstanding debt. However, studies done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the more education one has, the less unemployment and higher income one may receive.

Then and Now

According to retired AHS teacher Mr. Gary Inman, one used to be able to receive a high-paying job following high school. “In the early 70’s when I was coming out of high school, you had good paying career choices without going to college,” Mr. Inman said. “My first teaching contract with Rochester Community Schools was a grand total of $9,800; however, my high school classmates who didn’t attend college and worked for General Motors were making $16,000 a year. Unfortunately those unskilled jobs have disappeared for your generation.” According to, unskilled labor jobs for those with less than a high school diploma or just a high school diploma have dropped, leaving many students compelled to attend college after high school, where they are likely to incur debt, an issue that wasn’t as prevalent during Inman’s education. “My college education in the early 70’s was much more affordable and condensed,” Mr. Inman said. “Your generation faces a much higher cost and additional

requirements to finish the same degree.”

Cost v. Worth

Nick Ritz, ‘10 RHS graduate, decided that he would pursue a degree in graphic design at Oakland University. However, as he continued his degree, he came to realize that he was stuck being taught things he already knew, and paying an expensive tuition for it. “I think it [college] is way overpriced,” Ritz said. “Having a bachelors is still a must unfortunately for most jobs in my field. I don’t think it is worth it because I have learned more in community college and by teaching myself than I have at university. Sometimes I feel like I’m just going for that expensive piece of paper you get at the end and not for the sake of education.” Although Ritz is continuing with his degree, his thoughts on college are indicative of why the college drop-out rate may be increasing. Many degrees often are termed “useless” in articles done by and forbes. com. Among them are degrees such

as graphic design, language and music. MSU professor Karl Gude didn’t attend college due to poor grades, but ended up becoming a design editor at prestigious “Newsweek” magazine. However, according to Gude, this was merely the result of luck and hard work. “I was fearless. I was driven. I couldn’t not go to New York and try this [get a job in graphic design] even without a degree,” Mr. Gude said. “With no education, no experience, I wanted to be a commercial artist. I was really lucky.” In an art-related field, it is important to be able to think creatively, which many think one is born with, therefore making a college degree unnecessary. Despite having been successful without one, Mr. Gude thinks there are many advantages to receiving a college degree in an art-related field, even if the tuition may be high. “In graphic design, there’s a lot of theory. There’s a lot of technology that you don’t get on your own. You can learn all that technology on your own, “ Mr.

Gude said. “But theory is a different thing, the concepts behind design, of balance and Gestalt. It’s really great to have discussions on those things and have professors really challenge you to make those and apply those things.”

Taking a Gap Year

Jared Pardoski, ‘11 RHS graduate, left high school, and went on to play for a local hockey team. He spends his days working and playing hockey. “I chose not to go to college because I wanted to pursue hockey,” Pardoski said. “Never has a day gone by where I’ve regretted my decision.” However, Pardoski isn’t planning on staying out of school. Like the estimated 2.7 million people, according to, Pardoski is taking a “gap year.” “I’m definitely going to be going to college soon because a degree will help me or anyone in their career choice,” Pardoski said. “I just figure that since I’m only 18, what’s the rush to go to a 4-year college right away and start my life as soon as possible. I’m just in no rush.”




continued Satisfied with College



after high school in both RHS and U.S. 7%

path.” Yu believes that deciding whether a Kelly Yu, ‘13, graduated from RHS with a set goal in mind: to get a degree college degree is worth the tuition is a that would allow her to work at Pixar, personal decision. “The word ‘worth’ is a subjective a job that required the knowledge term,” Yu said. “Personally, I think and skills only a degree could equip there is a certain level of caution that her with. However, because she is needs to be taken only at the when deciding beginning whether college of her is worth it or not. degree, If you are passionate It all depends on she isn’t what you’d like to learning the about anything, no do with your life, in-depth one has the right and how practical skills she a college degree needs to to call your degree fits into that work in her worthless. plan.” field. Kelly Yu, ‘13 RHS GRAD Yu observed “Right that collegenow, I am related decisions not learning often depended specific largely on the current job market. For skills that will help me for my future example, a article stated career path,” Yu said. “Instead, I am training to think in the certain way that that technology-related fields are in high demand currently, meaning that is the foundation for more advanced degrees in those fields can possibly be courses I will take next semester that more sought after college graduation. will be relevant to my future career

However, Yu doesn’t believe that this is all that determines the worth of someone’s degree. “If you are passionate about anything, no one has any right to call your degree worthless,” Yu said. “Sure, it is easy to quantitate certain degrees as having more chance of getting a steady income based on the current job market, but it’s your life – do what you want to do, but have a plan B. We all need to strike a balance between what seems successful and what we actually enjoy doing and could do for years to come.” Yu is in support of students going to college regardless of projected “worth” or cost. Mr. Inman agrees. “Any time you can improve your education or skill set, it’s well worth the time and effort,” Mr. Inman said. “Researching the path your degree will take you and finding a cost-effective way of paying for is also time well spent.”

93% RHS students


68% All students in U.S. Enrolling Not enrolling SOURCE: National Center for Educational Statistics

Earnings and unemployment in relation to education levels Unemployment rate in 2012 (%)

Median weekly earnings in 2012 ($)


Doctoral degree 2.1

3.5 4.5 6.2 7.7


Professional degree


Master’s degree


Bachelor’s degree


Associate’s degree


Some college, no degree


727 652

High school diploma Less than high school diploma


All workers: 6.8%

471 Graphic by Edgar Sokoli

All workers: $815 SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics


FRIENDS AMONG STAFF rhs staff shows unity through social club




After the staff meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10, math teacher Mrs. Stephanie Shooks rushed up to a table loaded with gifts in the media center and hurriedly found the one with her name labeled at the top. She eagerly tore the wrapping paper and let out a shout of surprise: the present was a pink stuffed cat hugging a fuzzy blanket, two things that she absolutely loves. Each teacher drew a name and bought a toy that reflected that person’s personality; the gifts are then donated to the Toys for Tots Foundation. The increase in participation in the gift exchange this year is one more example of staff bonding that has increased this year, in part thanks to new social club coordinator Mrs. Karen Malsbury. “It’s just nice to see people with their families and [see] their children interact with one another,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “I also think [it’s great] to talk with a colleague and not feel rushed to be somewhere else because our day’s so scheduled. It’s nice to get to know someone at a different light.” English teacher Ms. Jean Wood credits the success of the newlyrevived social club to the organizational skills of its coordinators. “We’ve had some similar initiatives in the past, but this one is much better organized and seems to be embraced by more members of the staff,” Ms. Wood said. “Because there are people actively in charge of planning social events, there is better communication.” English teacher Mr. Todd Miesch thinks that the spirit of the holidays contributes to the cheerfulness between staff members. “Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, people just like to be friendly with one another,” Mr. Miesch said. “People understand that the holidays are all about love and giving and caring, and I think people’s perspective around that time changes, so everybody’s in a good mood.” Mrs. Malsbury elaborates on the camaraderie. “I think that we are pulling together a lot more because of not having a contract,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “We are basically supporting each other because it’s very difficult for people at this point; they’re not feeling valued.” Mr. Miesch concurs. “We’re all in wanting to get this contract solved: First year teachers are wanting it and teachers that have been there for thirty years want it,” Mr. Miesch said. “So we all have that camaraderie [in] being on the same team.” Mr. Miesch enjoys the staff get-togethers and activities that have been planned. “In the less professional room, we’re not all there talking about school or curriculum,” Mr. Miesch said. “When you have a casual event like that, people tend to relax and we actually talk about families or vacations or things that aren’t going to stress [us out since] it’s a less professional atmosphere.” Mr. Miesch’s favorite activity so far has been the chili cook-off competition. “It’s just fun for people to express themselves through food. The relaxing environment allows you to learn interesting quirks or tidbits about others, like who they’re a fan of: is it Michigan State is it Michigan? Are they a tailgate person? Do they like beans? Random stuff like that.” Mrs. Malsbury has gained new insights from joining the monthly teacher book club, which members of the club take turns hosting. “That’s been really cool because seeing different perspectives on a book has opened my eyes to a lot of things,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “I’m not the best reader in the world, so it’s encouraging.” Ms. Wood also finds the book club thoroughly engaging.











“I love book club,” Ms. Wood said. “I’ve never been in one and it’s really cool to hear all of the unique perspectives that come up during our discussions. Plus, I’m an English nerd and I love to read, so it forces me to make time for something I really enjoy.” English teacher Mrs. Kuslits thinks that book club helps her see other teachers as not only teachers, but as people too. “I learned to appreciate others’ perspectives on a novel,” Mrs. Kuslits said. “There, I can take my English-teacher hat off. We have great discussions and can even respectfully disagree with one another [on positions regarding] a book.” History teacher Mrs. Miesch relays the challenges that teachers face on a daily basis. “When we come to school and pour our lives into our students and then the only thing you hear in the media is how education is failing and teachers need to do more, we get discouraged,” Mrs. Miesch said.





BY SARAH WALWEMA A sea of used wrapping paper covers the faded blue carpet in the media center. Over 40 RHS staff members smile with delight as they examine their presents, specifically chosen to reflect their personalities. English teacher Mrs. Ashley Painter laughs with joy as she realizes that her secret Santa bought her a buzz word game and a baby doll. It is like Christmas morning, and the spirit of giving is alive, as all toys will be donated to Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots is a charity run by the United States Marine Corp Reserve, whose mission is to collect new toys to give out to less fortunate kids at Christmastime. According to, they have distributed more than 351 million toys to 166 million children over their 58 years as a charity. “Most teachers probably like kids a lot, even if they don’t have children of their own, so that probably contributes to their decision to participate,” junior Sarah Costello said. “Also, as teachers, they probably see a fair number of kids going through the system that are underprivileged and whose families could use a hand at Christmas. For someone whose job is dedicated to teaching and helping kids, donating to Toys for Tots to reach even further is probably a no-brainer.”

staff participates in Toys for Tots

This year is not the first time that the teaching staff at RHS has participated in Toys for Tots. According to Mrs. Laure Gambaro, the joy that comes with giving makes the charity fun to do. “It was fun to open the gifts,” business teacher Gambaro said. “You could see what great toys we had all bought for the kids.” Some think that organizations like Toys for Tots provides kids with more than just something to play with. “I do think toys can be beneficial to kids, whether it’s meant to be educational or not,” Costello said. “Making up stories in their heads about their stuffed animals or toys can be just as beneficial as a toy that teaches a child how to read, and there is more to learning than just what you learn in a textbook.” The most fun part of the Toys for Tots exchange is getting gifts based on another teacher’s personality. “It was great to see all the different gifts and how they related to each person, whether it was a hobby or connected to a sport that they coach,” social studies teacher Ms. Christina Larson said. “A lot of teachers participated this year and it’s great to know these gifts will go to kids who deserve them!”

This year, Mrs. Painter drew English teacher Ms. Jean Wood’s name. She had to choose between a baseball mitt and ball to represent Ms. Wood’s passion for the Tigers and a toy vacuum cleaner to represent Ms. Wood’s love for cleanliness and order; she chose the latter, because it would elicit the most laughs from colleagues and likely be more appreciated by little ones. “I got Ms. Wood a play vacuum, because she is the only person I know who loves to vacuum,” Mrs. Painter said. “It was wonderful to see how much colleagues knew about you, cared about you, and were willing to give to a needy cause.” Toys for Tots also helps recreate that irreplaceable feeling of getting presents when staff members were young. “Getting the gift I wanted on Christmas made me feel cared for,” Mrs. Painter said. “It made me feel that Santa/my parents knew my personality and saw me as a unique individual.”

(Top row) English teacher Mr. Frank Gollon got super hero action figures and a play tool set at the Toys for Tots event. Photo by Sarah Walwema

(Middle row left) Science teacher Mrs. Erin Slomka unwraps her secret santa present and reveals a pirate play set. (Right) Science teacher Brandon Shurter unwraps recycled paper beads and toy snakes. Photos by Sarah Walwema

(Bottom row left) Teachers socialize about life outside of school at the staff bowling party at North Hill Lanes on Friday, Dec. 13. Photo by Julia Satterthwaite (Middle) Physicial Education teacher Mr. Steve Fox is pictured opening his present at the Toys for Tots event. Photo by Sarah Walwema . (Right) Math teacher Mr. Nick Merlo sported a festive vest at the staff bowling party. Photo by Julia Satterthwaite

According to Mrs. Malsbury, the original idea behind the social club was to bring the staff closer for mutual support in difficult times. “I was getting very disgruntled because of the cutbacks and I [felt] overwhelmed as a teacher because I have a lot of preps and responsibilities,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “I was getting mad because I wasn’t getting the natural support from administration to do my job the way I wanted to do [it]. I decided how [I was going to] change that attitude around. I think if we are all working toward a common goal, which is to support our kids, [then] if we like each other as colleagues and can support each other, maybe our attitudes can change. Sometimes it’s

overwhelming what we have to get done and you need people to vent to.” Mr. Miesch thinks that the staff is more united as a result of the social club. “When everybody jumps on it and does it, we can have that camaraderie with one another,” Mr. Miesch said. “If a handful of people don’t do it, we’re not angry at them, but [doing so] definitely brings staff closer. You feel unity. When we all wear [spirit wear], whatever it is, there’s unity there. It’s not fun to come to work every day just wearing a tie and things like that. It’s fun to put on stupid socks or wear a costume or a hat. It relaxes the classroom a little bit and you’re able to poke fun at yourself, which in education you have to do.”





RHS parent Mrs. Safiyah Salie her daughter and senior Maahirah are South African Americans who are heartbroken about Nelson Mandela’s death. They give their thoughts about him, a man who was very close to their hearts and a man who was an inspiration for his political and humanitarian efforts. Q: DESCRIBE YOUR CONNECTION TO NELSON MANDELA. S: I feel contented with the fact that I was part of the anti-apartheid struggle. We skipped classes to participate in rallies, demonstrations and riots. I feel a deep connection to Mr. Mandela. M: Growing up, Nelson Mandela was the one man who everyone had to know. His name always graced our conversations, and South Africans were proud to be a part of the antiracism, anti-apartheid Era. My bedtime stories were unique in that they never consisted of princess stories, but rather stories that depicted the courage and magnificence of South African and Tata Madiba. He was an icon and taught me compassion instead of hatred, love instead of fear. I loved that I could boast to others that I was South African and I felt as though I had a unique connection to Madiba, although hadn’t met him. My parents grew up during the apartheid era and always spoke of their part in protesting the segregation, the police that tear gassed the students, and more. Q: WHEN DID YOU FIRST LEARN ABOUT MANDELA? WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS? S: Mr. Nelson Mandela really awakened in me when I was a little kid. He was seen as a troublemaker during my elementary school years. It was during my high school years that I was really actively participating in rallies, and singing “Free Mandela.” In 1976, it was a year of extreme danger for me as a high school student. Any student in school uniform (the schools in South Africa, all wear school uniforms) could potentially be picked up and thrown in prison. M: I learned about him when I was about 5. I actually read his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom when I was about 8 and ever since then, he was the one person I wanted to meet. I wanted to know how he had done it, how he had put all the anger and bitterness behind and took a country that was born in dissent, and made it not just a good nation, but a great nation. Q: AS YOU CONTINUED TO LEARN AND GROW, HOW DID YOUR PERCEPTION CHANGE? S: Mr. Mandela’s fearlessness, determination and confidence made me realize that he will achieve the freedom and democracy in South Africa. Q: WHY IS NELSON MANDELA CONSIDERED A HERO? EXPLAIN. S: Mr. Mandela was an erudite, dignified, graceful and selfless man. He sacrificed his life so that South Africans can live in a free, equal opportunity, democratic society. Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE LESSONS OR QUOTATIONS FROM NELSON MANDELA? S: My favorite lesson from Mr. Mandela was that forgiveness was not an issue for him. After 27 years of imprisonment, he forgave each and every one of his oppressors from the judge who sentenced him to life imprisonment to the warders who were in charge of him during his time of incarceration. He did not harbor any hatred toward the white South Africans. One of my favorite quotes was: “I knew that if I had to walk out the door of freedom and I do not forgive, even though I’m free, I would still be imprisoned.” M: My favorite quote is, “There is no passion to be found in playing small -- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Q: WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU LEARNED ABOUT HIS PASSING? HOW DID YOU REACT? S: I was at my home when my husband told me about his passing. For a moment, I wished I was presently in South Africa to be present with my fellow South Africans. It was Tuesday evening around 6 p.m., when my fellow country was in a deep slumber because of the seven hour difference. Even though it was expected because of his constant admission to the hospital, the news still shattered me. I listened to NPR to an hour documentary dedicated to Mr. Mandela. I felt very teary. M: I was sitting on the couch, watching the newest Arrow episode when my father walked in and delivered the news. I was devastated. I could barely talk about Madiba without crying. I received many condolences from friends and teachers and for that, I am forever grateful. Q: WHAT DO YOU HOPE OTHERS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM NELSON MANDELA’S LEGACY? S: In the Ideal world, I pray that the future presidents of South Africa will strive to govern South Africa with the ideals Mr. Mandela stood for: real justice, real equality, and real forgiveness to all! Q: IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD? S: My biggest fear is that legacy of Mr. Mandela will soon be forgotten. I hope and pray this will not be the case. Mr. Mandela. Even though he has passed on, he will live on and on for eons!

Photo Courtesy of Lite 92.9

Responses gathered by Camille Douglas





Graphic courtesy of Middle Tennessee State University; modified by Melanie Wong

BY COLETTE CLOUTIER There are many opportunities for high school students around the country to get involved and to embrace the cultures of different countries around the world. One such example available to the students of RHS is the foreign exchange program. Students and their families can host students from different countries or go to another country themselves. Several students at RHS have already participated in this program. Sophomore Matt Benedettini and his family are currently hosting a 15-year-old boy, Santiago ‘Santi’ Diaz Gomez from Seville, Spain. “We decided to host to expand and grow our family experiences,” Mrs. Nancy Benedettini said. “We heard there was a need for a host family from RHS Spanish teacher, Beth East, who is friends with Santi’s family. We discussed the possibility with our family and decided it would be a great opportunity for all of us.” Sophomore Kat French also is currently hosting an exchange student, sophomore Jessy Wiedemann. Wiedemann was encouraged to participate in the program by an exchange student from Australia who was attending her school in Germany. Both exchange students have been here since the end of summer 2013 and will return home in June 2014. Like the Benedettinis, the French family

Families at RHS open their homes to international students from around the world and provide them with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the American culture.

thought hosting an exchange “We wanted a boy student to student would be a beneficial add to our sons. Also, we were experience. happy he loves sports, especially “In my Spanish 2 class, a soccer, as all three of our sons woman from AYUSA (exchange play soccer,” Benedettini said. student program) came in to talk “They get along like they are to us about what it means to be real brothers; they all have a host family,” French said. “I their good and bad moments of thought it would be awesome to getting along!” learn about what living in Europe Gomez was looking for a might be like, and I was also family in northern America, very bored at home with both and based on his experiences, my brothers away at college so I has decided he wants to live figured, why not?” in America after he completes Aside from room and board college back home in Spain. which includes three meals Gomez also is happy with his a day, the cost for hosting is host family, and the fact that he reasonable. The natural parents shares common interest with of the exchange student pay for them. all travel costs and give a monthly allowance for necessities and anything I highly recommend else the student may need. Hosting is also hosting a foreign tax deductible, and exchange student. You $50 can be claimed per learn a lot about other month. Actually being cultures, and you make a an exchange student on new friend in the process. the other hand, can be considered expensive KAT FRENCH, 10 by some. In general, the process of selecting an exchange student and applying to be a host family does not take more than “We all like sports. We love a month, and is relatively quick. soccer,” Gomez said. “I think For the Benedettini family, a I am doing good with them. student from Spain was already I’m trying to be a good host interested in coming to RHS, so brother.” there was no trouble in finding a French is having a great student. experience as well and was able

to bond with Wiedemann during the RHS Girls Swim and Dive season in which they both competed. According to French, Wiedemann fits in very well with her group of friends. “We’ve been very active lately in trying new things, going places and making plans for the months ahead. We are trying to give her as many experiences as possible before she goes back home,” French said. “Jessy and I get along great! One night we were painting my ceiling glow in the dark, and it dripped all over my carpet … my parents still don’t know.” While Wiedemann and Gomez seem to fit right in with their host families, the two note differences in American culture. “They eat so much more here, but they also do more sports,” Wiedemann said. “Things like school spirit do not exist in Germany.” One specific aspect of life that’s really different for Gomez is school. “The schools are very different and bigger compared to the Spanish schools,” Gomez said. “American schools are 10 times bigger … my high school [in Spain] only has, like, 150 people.” French has noticed a few cultural differences as well. “It’s funny to try to explain words like weird, awkward and our slang words to [Jessy],” French said. “We take so many things for granted like peanut butter, tacos

and chocolate chip cookies and in Germany they don’t have those.” Both Gomez and Wiedemann experienced some homesickness at first, but were able to get past it by keeping busy with new experiences and frequent Skype chats with family. The kindness of the people they have met in their short time over in America has made an impact on both. “I like the people much more [than in Germany] because they are all so friendly,” Wiedemann said. Even after just a few months of hosting, the Benedetinni family would host again in a heartbeat, and are considering hosting Gomez’s 13-year-old brother in a few years. Gomez would also participate in an exchange program again, and encourages others to try new things and travel outside their comfort zones. “If I had to be an exchange student again, I wouldn’t be afraid of it because it is a very exciting adventure and you will make lots of friends,” Gomez said. French could not be happier with her time and experiences so far with Wiedemann as well and fully intends on keeping in touch with her after her exchange year is over, possibly even by going to visit her in Germany over the summer. “I highly recommend hosting a foreign exchange student,” French said. “You learn a lot about other cultures, and you make a new friend in the process.”


REA fights for renewed teacher contract




It’s 7:18 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, and Rochester Education Association’s (REA) President Mr. Doug Hill stands before the Board of Education to present a three-minute speech expressing frustration over the teacher contract that expired Aug. 15, 2013. Behind him and his lengthy beard that he vowed not to shave until a fair contract is in place, is a sea of red. REA members fill the Harrison Room and spill into the halls, giving Mr. Hill their full attention as he compares the last few years of teacher negotiations to Shel Silverstein’s 1964 poem, “The Giving Tree.” “It seems to the members of the REA that we are serving the role of the tree,” Mr. Hill said. “During the negotiations of 2009-2010, the REA agreed to give up its early retirement and incentive program. That concession has already saved the district nearly a $100,000 and will continue to do so well into the future. The REA gave. During that same negotiation, our group agreed to move all new hires to a 16-step salary schedule. Again, this concession will save the district hundreds and thousands of dollars annually as more new hires come online. The REA gave. During negotiations of 2012, the REA agreed to move those members on the step schedule only a half-step than then typical full step. That agreement allowed RCS to save an excess of one million dollars. The REA gave. Also, during 2012, due to the state law changes, REA members taking the RCS health benefits plan began paying 20 percent of their premium effect Jan. 1 2013. They also doubled their deductibles and co-insurance contributions. That has allowed the district to have saved two million dollars this year alone. The REA gave. During the past two years, state laws have been passed that now mandate teachers to contribute three percent of their salaries to retiree health care, and up to an additional four percent of their salaries to the pension fund. Yes, the REA gave. Is it any wonder that our membership feels like the stump of that tree?” Mr. Hill was one of eight volunteers who chose to speak their minds regarding the ongoing contract negotiation. The teacher contract is an extensive form of documentation that determines the rights of a teacher within their employment. The list of proposals the document covers includes salaries, senority, sick days, leaves, health benefits and more. More information regarding the current expired contract is on the RCS website,, under District Info: Human Resources: Current RCS Employees and Employee Contract Information: Employee Contracts. Because the new contract has not been finalized, the district is continuing to implement last year’s teacher contract. The union members have not been able to receive their step increases, and will pay the 9-13 percent health care increases come Jan. 1, in addition to the 20 percent they are currently paying.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION VS. THE REA The teacher contract is negotiated between the Board of Education and the REA each year in an attempt to renew the collective bargaining agreement. Including the REA’s Executive Director, there are five other REA representatives who negotiate with five administrators from the district. Proposals are discussed between both sides and are then determined acceptable or unacceptable. There have been a total of 22 meetings held between in the Board of Education and the REA throughout the year in terms of negotiating a contract; the most recent one was held on Dec. 6. In years past, a certified teacher contract lasted for a span of three or more years, but more recently, the contracts have been lasting for one year due to various new state laws. Both the Board of Education and REA, both sides recognized that certain legislation has furthered the already extensive process of negotiating. However, even though this may be so, the REA has more recently come to believe that the Board of Education is delaying this process from reaching a conclusion in order to save money. “What I said during my address of the Board on Oct. 14 was that the perception of many teachers is that the Board is slow-playing negotiations in order to save money,” Mr. Hill said. “Under one of the new state laws the district is not required to pay salary increases to newer teachers called Step Increases. The fact RCS is not required to pay these saves the district just under $13,000 each day of school.” Public Act No. 54, the new state law Mr. Hill mentioned, was enacted by the State of Michigan Legislature in 2011. The law states that in Section


Despite the chilling temperatures, English teachers Mr. Andre Harding and Mrs. Julie Kuslits put on smiles as they protest the REA’s cause. Photo by Melody Zhang

At a Board of Education meeting held Dec. 9, REA members dressed in red packed the Harrison Room, resulting in a standing room only crowd. Photo by Melissa Libby

15b, “after the expiration date of a collective bargaining agreement and until a successor collective bargaining agreement is in place, a public employer shall pay and provide wages and benefits at levels and amounts that are no greater than those in effect on the expiration date of the collective bargaining agreement. The prohibition in this subsection includes increases that would result from wage step increases. Employees who receive health, dental, vision, prescription, or other insurance benefits under a collective bargaining agreement shall bear any increased cost of maintaining those benefits that occurs after the expiration date.” Because of confidentiality issues, the Board of Education was unable to deny or confirm that the REA’s accusation that the law saves the district is true. However, they reason that the negotiation process of the contract is taking longer than usual is because they want to make sure they provide the district with a documentation in which both sides can agree upon. President of the Board of Education Mrs. Beth Talbert explains. “I think that everyone understands that collective bargaining is hard work, and the people who are not involved in the negotiations, it is difficult to understand the work that they do. It is hard work and resent that both teams are working really hard to try and get a contract up,” Mrs. Talbert said. “It is in all of our best interest to have a contract, and so we are just going to keep at it. There is so much that we cannot say while we are negotiating.”

THE FUND BALANCE One of the main things the REA wants to make known to the community is that Rochester Community Schools (RCS) is financially stable the way they are and that there is no reason the Board of Education needs to delay the teacher contract process in order to save additional money.

“We hope the community realizes the district is still fairly financially healthy considering it has nearly $18 million in its fund balance,” Mr. Hill said. “There are districts that are worse off financially that are finding ways to honor the work of its teachers.” The fund balance is an accumulation of revenues minus expenditures, meaning it’s the total net worth the district has received. The balance is maintained by the city and can be used in future years determined by the City Council. On Nov. 11, the Board received the district’s audit report, which showed a fund balance of $15.9 million at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. According to the Board, this balance represents 10 percent of the budget expenditures at the end of the year. In a statement released at the Board of Education meeting held Dec. 9, the Board emphasized the importance of withholding the 10 percent of the budget. “The fund balance is used by the district to cover expenditures during the period of time the district does not receive an unleashenal allowance payment from the state,” the Board statment reads. “Auditing firms recommend districts maintain a balance of 10 percent to avoid having to pay an interest on borrowing to cover these expenditures. In prior years, the balance has also been used to close the gap between revenues and expenditures in order to budget.” Director of Community Relations Department Mrs. Debra Hartman also adds how the balance came to be. “There are two main things that drive the budget: one is whatever the state is willing to give us in a foundation allowance and our enrollment,” Mrs. Hartman said. “You never know from year to year how many kids you will have, you could only make projections. You can do your best guess based on past experiences and it is the same with the state, but we don’t know from year to year what the state will give us in foundation allowance.”

RHS teachers participate in informational picketing, meant to better inform parents and community members about their working without a contract, every morning before school, arriving at their classrooms at their contractual start time of 7:27 a.m. Photo by Melody Zhang


While both sides are continuing to meet and discuss the teacher contract, in the meantime, the REA has become more strategic in trying to get their beliefs and concerns out to the community with actions such as wearing red every Thursday, participating in informational picketing, and entering and leaving the school at their contractual time when possible. Mr. Hill further explains the purpose of the REA’s decisions. “The REA would like the community realize the dedicated REA members, who are the primary reason for the community’s satisfaction with our schools, continue to work diligently despite having an expired contract,” Mr. Hill said. “Wearing red, informational picketing, letters to the Board, speeches before the Board, signs in our cars indicating an expired contract are a few of the ways we’re trying to accomplish this. I feel many more community members are aware of our contract situation than they were at the beginning of the school year.” The Board of Education stated they respect the teachers’ rights to express themselves. Even though a set date in regards to releasing the new contract is not existent, superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner remains optimistic that the district, because of its dedication to the community as a whole, will eventually reach a conclusion. “Since I have been in the district, it is such a community-centered district, quite unlike any other school district in Michigan considering its size, I think people care very much of their employees,” Dr. Shaner said. “To me, this isn’t the difficulty of the circumstances we are in as of the matter we aren’t caring about each other or being angry, it’s about getting to an equitable solution. I think both sides care what is going on in the classroom, what is going with the kids deeply.”

When I walk into school in the mornings, I see a majority of my teachers huddled together along the sidewalk in the unbearably cold weather while parents drop off their students at the circle drive. Together, they stand united, holding signs that say “All I want for Christmas is a new contract,” or “We care about your students; care about us.” Together, they stand united, hoping to receive support from parents and students in settling a contract that seems out of their grasp. Together, they stand united, hoping for their step increases and bracing for the 9-13% increase in health care coverage that they’ll be responsible for (in addition to the 20% they currently pay) come Jan. 1, thanks to Public Act Number 54 of 2011. Watching these teachers fight for their cause takes me back to when I was a little girl and I dreamed of becoming a special education teacher. This dream of mine, however, has changed throughout the years because of the lack of respect today’s teachers receive from politicians passing bills that make retroactive pay a thing of the past (what incentive does that leave the school board to settle the contract quickly?), from school boards allowing 3-minute speeches about taking up second jobs or moving back in with their parents at 29 to fall on deaf ears, from community members thinking teachers are underworked and overpaid, and most of all from students who treat teachers with disrespect. The cost of these issues is real. It’s going to mean great teachers in our district will leave for other career paths. It’s going to mean the younger, vibrant staff members are worn down quickly as they balance being a new teacher with waiting tables in the evenings to make ends meet. It’s going to me people like me, who are dedicated, hard-working and compassionate, never studying education in the first place. Who will be left to teach the next generation? Teaching is a profession that needs to stay alive if RCS wants to continue to uphold the reputation as an academically thriving and premiere district. If we want good teachers to want to teach here, it’s important to settle this contract. And quickly. When I look out at the crowd of teachers picketing outside in the mornings, I see the many people who I feel privileged to have worked with. They assisted me throughout my academic career and pushed me to do my best. Not one of those teachers gave up on me. Outside in the morning, they continue to smile and laugh, no matter how bitter the temperature may be. They hold up their signs with pride, and they cheer for every honk they get from supportive parents driving by. When I look at the crowd of teachers now, I aspire to be just like these remarkable people: to have the determination stand up for their freedoms, to have the willingness to help and drive their students to succeed, and to have the compassion to continue doing what they loveteaching. I want to see all my teachers stay in this district and feel supported by their community. In order for this to happen, the school board needs to settle this contract.

music to my



Luke Bryan Luke Bryan is a typical country artist. He makes some upbeat country music, but throws in a few sad tunes. Bryan was a big hit over the summer with his That’s My Kind of Night tour. The type of people who listen to Luke Bryan are the girls who are lovestruck and need sad songs to make them feel better. Many girls enjoy listening to Luke Bryan over the summer, with their windows rolled down.

If you like Luke Bryan, try:



The Killers

The Killers are an American rock band that produces music made for the type of person that loves catchy songs that are well-produced. You’re interested in rock bands if you’re listening to The Killers, but aren’t getting too deep into hardcore rock. The Killers are the perfect band to put on when you’re hanging with your friends or going for a long car ride. You find serenity when The Killers’ lyrics speak to you. They produce songs that say something meaningful while being enjoyable to listen to too. You may throw off your friends by listening to The Killers because they’ll think you only listen to indie rock or just rock in general, but you tend to listen to all sorts of music, including rap.

If you like The Killers, try:


Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino is an offstream rapper who creates beats for the type of person who loves music and genuinely enjoys all that music has to offer with variety. Those who do listen to Childish Gambino typically listen to other rappers like him, such as Chance the Rapper and Jhene Aiko. You like the rap side, but also appreciate slower songs on the same album. Childish Gambino is mistakenly thought of as an up-and-coming artist, but he has actually been around for years. You love listening to Childish while in your room doing homework or putting his new album on repeat while walking the school halls during passing time. Listening to Childish Gambino screams I love rap, but not necessarily Yeezus in-your-face rap.

If you like Childish Gambino, try:


M83 is a French band that creates an almost ominous feeling when you listened to their songs. You like music that’s different, but M83 beats feel familiar. Mixing loud, but not overpowering beats with gentle lyrics and sounds, you’re musically confused if you like pop, rock, or electronic, so M83 created all in one just for you. You listen to M83 while going to bed, waking up and while working out. When finding out about M83, you were excited and wanted to discover many more artists like them. People think they know you and the type of music you like, but they’ve got it all wrong because you’re all over the grid.

If you like M83, try:

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky is a modern rapper from Harlem, New York who is associated with A$AP MOB. His music creates a chill vibe that you can play while relaxing with friends, along with songs that can pump you up for a sports game or concert. His music says I like rap, but prefer the “chiller” variety. With songs ranging from “Purple Swag” to “Goldie,” A$AP Rocky’s music makes you grateful that artist like him have been created. A$AP listeners like you always keep it trill. You’ve been listening to A$AP all summer and you’re beyond ready for a new album release.

If you like A$AP Rocky, try:

Alice in Chains

You’re into the harder type of rock--real rock. You enjoy the sound of strumming guitars and pumping bass, plus the settling sound of drum sticks banging the drums. Nothing pumps you up more then turning on some rock music and just jamming out with your friends. You’re not much into country music because the sound of the guitar is too soft and the accent in their voices bothers you, but you do enjoy rap music now and then. You attend concerts like Warped Tour and Lollapalooza knowing that your favorite rock bands are going to be there.

If you like Alice in Chains, try:


can’t YOU


unless GO ON you’ve got these


Too Much -Drake Say Something -A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera Breathe me -Sia skinny love -Birdy Shift -Grizzly Bear When I’m Small -Phantograms Eyes on Fire -Blue Foundation Blessed -School Boy Q Twenty Eight -The Weeknd Almost Lover -A Fine Frenzy Ashamed -Jamestown Story Big Jet Place -Angus & Julia Stone Cosmic Love -Florence and The Machine Over my Dead Body -Drake


Timber -Pitbull feat. Ke$ha #GETITRIGHT -Miley Cyrus 23 -Juicy J (feat. Miley Cyrus & Wiz Khalifa) Goldie -A$AP Rocky Ready -Meek Mills (feat. Future) Problem -TurNup Pumped Up Kicks -DJ Reflex Remix (feat. Kendrick Lamar) Bounce it -Juicy J Turn Down For What -Lil’ John Goodbye -Wiz Khalifia Love Sosa (RL Grime Remix) -Chief Keef Up In It (Chopped & Skrewed by Trill Jae) -Wiz Khalifia


Purple Swag -A$AP Rocky Shaman Juice -Run DMT Crawl -Childish Gambino 2x Pills -Isaiah Rashad Jaymee Franchina &Jeremy Smith B.I.G. Flume -Juicy Deep Sleep -Wiz Khalifia So High -Ghost Loft Quick Kiss -Lapalux Favorite Song -Chance the Rapper (feat. Childish Gambino) Tennis Court -Lorde I’m In It -Kanye West It Wasn’t Me -Shaggy Drive -Miley Cyrus


what were YOU LISTENING TO TODAY? Alex McClure

:8 36am


Hamza Shaukat


Vince Piacentini

m a 0 5 : 10


Alicia Smith

m p 4 2 : 12


Carried Away -Passion Pit Live For (feat. Drake) -The Weeknd Mouthful of Diamonds -Phantograms Nightcall -Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx Toyota Music -Big Sean Palm Trees -Flatbush Zombies Out of My League -Fit & the Tantrums Jhene’ Aiko -Wrap me up Telegraph Ave- Childish Gambino Nas- You Owe Me Juice- Chance The Rapper Jaymee Franchina & Jeremy Smith B.I.G. Flume -Party Girl Anthem Death -Flatbush Zombies

Zoe Salwach


Beau Mierzwa

m a 0 0 : 11


Ahad Ruaf

m p 5 2 : 12


Matt Thiessen





THOSE WHO WORKED Social studies teacher Kevin Briski always thought that the French Revolution was an imporant part of history, so imporant that he made an album about it. BY SARAH WALWEMA

“Those Who Worked” sings the woes of the French Revolution. Originally, the Bends started off as the Brodown Shodown, a group of lifelong friends who wanted to play cover songs together. After writing a few original songs and going through a name change, the three-year-old band decided to record an album of original music. According to member and social studies teacher Kevin Briski, the album follows the French Revolution, specifically the Third Estate. With the First Estate being clergy members and the Second Estate being nobleman, the largest and poorest Third Estate toiled and labored without food, land or any form of representation in the gluttonous monarchy they worked under. Vexed and emaciated, the Third Estate launched a revolution that would inspire the American Revolution and an album created by The Bends. The pain and sacrifice that accompany revolution are felt in the first track that bares the same name is the album title. “I couldn’t tell you, for the life of me, what happened to all of my time” is the first line of the first track. This line introduce the track as a song about what happens after a revolution starts. At first, the commoners’ only thoughts were those of the freedom that they would finally win. No one thought of the lives lost or the immense forces that they were up against. The slow tempo and the the melody coming from a single electric guitar paint a picture of a lone survivor reflecting on the life that he’s led. Whether it’s because of different opinions or death, the man living in “Those Who Worked” laments that “anyone [he’s] ever cared for has gone away.” The vocals fit perfectly with the theme of the instrumental aspect of the song to make a great first track. The “Flight to Varennes” was a day in the French Revolution when the Royal Family tried to flee the castle surrounded by rebels and revolutionaries and ended up failing spectacularly. It’s also the title of the third track off of “Those Who Worked.” The song looks at the Revolution from the perspective of its own instigators, the royal family. “I tried to write you a love song, but you hardened my heart” is part of the refrain. The city that the king once loved is now a prison that has “hardened his heart.” He desperately tries to escape. “Flight to Varennes” has the same sound to the rest of the album, but it emits an eerie mood that acts as a parallel to the blame that will haunt the French king. The Bends end their album on a happier note with “Those Who Prayed,” which also features a cute little bonus track. The last track is about having the end in reach and having “all the pain you’ve gone through to see eye-to-eye” be worth it. Featuring a banjo and a chorus of voices makes this song perfect for rebuilding the morale of the Third Estate, the commoners who started the French Revolution. When first listening to the album in full, it would be easy to say that the instrumental part of the album can get repetitive. All the songs keep a pretty slow tempo and because the album is about such a serious subject, there wasn’t much wiggle room when it comes to certain aspects of the songs. But, after really listening to the album, one can see that the continuity in the songs only make it easier for the audience to really listen to the lyrics and understand how important they are. If the instrumentality of the album was more dynamic, the reader would be more inclined to forget about the lyrics. Overall, the album is a great listen for people who like Jack White and the Black Keys, and it also serves as a great listen and lesson for history buffs.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Briski

4 HIDDEN GEMS FOR THE HOLIDAYS GINGERBREAD HOUSE AT THE ROYAL PARK HOTEL This life-size gingerbread house is perfect to visit to get into the holiday mood. The intricate design and build has been created by the finest of architects. The design has been known to be updated annually, so if you think you’ve seen it, think again! The elegant ambiance of the Royal Park Hotel combined with the festive holiday cheer is a sight to see with friends and family. All can come to take pictures through Christmas free of charge.

Photo Courtesy of Royal Park Hotel




Photo Courtesy of

This hidden gem is a little far from Rochester Hills, but all gems take some digging to find. This store located in Lake Orion is stuck in Christmas cheer year round. There are elaborate toy train setups, walls and walls of ornaments, Christmas trees, and other odds and ends related to anything related to winter holidays. Check out the detailed displays with your family and friends, and don’t forget to check out the rest of the vintage stores in the Canterbury Village such as the Tea Boutique, the Ye Olde Book Shoppe, and the Celtic Cottage.

8/10 8/10

MEADOW BROOK’S HOLIDAY WORK AT OAKLAND UNIVERSITY This year’s exhibit for the holiday walk is “Treasures of Travel.” The Dodge-Wilson family’s travels will be shared with all who dare. There will be sipping tea in Morocco, riding elephants in India, and the opportunity to find rare gems in Africa. Read the postcards and letters as you journey through time and a family’s travels. There is no better way to get into the holiday spirit than learning and appreciating another family’s experiences. Come one, come all!

Photo Courtesy of My Fox Detroit


Photo Courtesy of Midwest Quest

The big, bright light show is not exactly a hidden gem, but it is a classic experience all Rochester Hills residents should experience. It will light Main Street every evening through January 6th, so the cheer lasts even past the New Year. Blankets of beautiful colored lights sparkle in the darkness as people laugh and walk down the streets. It is free of charge, but hot chocolate or coffee from Dessert Oasis or Bean and Leaf is a must. Get a friend and a warm drink with cinnamon, and walk the surreal streets of the city block.




the top 5


Ever feeling tired of eating the same bland and mundane type of food every day? Why not try something a bit different that will make those taste buds tingle? Broaden your taste palate by exploring the deliciously exotic flavors of various ethnic restaurants in the area.







The desire for an authentic taste of savory Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food can be fulfilled by a visit to Rochester’s very own Lebanese Grill. With a broad menu of distinct entrées from the region, there is a wide variety to choose from, whether it be the succulent chicken shawarma or the refreshing tabouli salad, any hankering for Middle Eastern food will be satisfied. The welcoming wait staff is always available to cater an endless amount of warm, chewy pita bread with pungent garlic sauce and offer suggestions on delicious dishes that may be exotic to the taste buds.

For a taste of delectable Indian cuisine, Rangoli is a great restaurant to go to for a tangy experience that will make your taste buds pop. The wide selections to choose from on the menu cater to those who have an appetite for something spicy and those who prefer to dine on a milder meal. Tasty dishes such as the tender chicken tikka masala and the hot, crispy samosas (fried pastries with filling) are popular items that can be shared with a small group or eaten by oneself without the sense of feeling selfish. Waiters are constantly available to serve fresh bread with chutney and recommend great dishes for an authentic taste of Indian cuisine.

By providing two distinct Asian cuisines on a single menu, Soho caters to a variety of different tastes with the fusion of Korean and Japanese food. The vast selection of ethnic food on the menu allows for the craving for both fresh sushi and sweetly marinated Bulgogi (Korean grilled beef ) to be satisfied in one dining experience. For a truly delectably exotic taste, the tempura cheesecake is a heavenly dessert with a smooth, creamy and crisp texture that will top the end to a filling meal. With friendly waiters and a soothing atmosphere, Soho is the perfect restaurant to explore and indulge in the different tastes of Korean and Japanese cuisine.

The traditional and zesty tastes of Mexican cuisine can be found at the authentic restaurant, El Charro. Some classic dishes such as the soft flour tortilla quesadillas and the crunchy tacos may be familiar to some food dilettantes while other entrées like the botana (tortilla chips loaded with a variety of toppings) and the carne asada (grilled beef ) may not be as well known, but should be given a try for a uniquely tasteful experience. The menu offers a sufficient amount of items that cater to both connoisseurs and amateurs of the Mexican cuisine, as well as providing a few American dishes on the side. A pleasant waiter is always on hand to bring out hot, crispy tortilla chips with refreshingly mild salsa as you relish the flavors of this fine, gourmet cooking.

With a trendy vibe and exquisite food, Blackbird Bistro is the ideal place to dine at for a romantic date or a simple outing with friends and family. Although the menu is limited to a number of items, the considerable portions and savory flavor of the entrées are enough to leave a great impression on your taste buds and in your stomach. Dishes such as the mac & cheese and the freshly-made pizzas are served with a special tangy twist to change up the flavor of these traditional foods and make them deliciously unique. With a kind wait staff and peaceful atmosphere, this little restaurant is on its way to becoming a big hit in town.

Address: 2783 S. Rochester Rd Rochester Hills, MI 48307 Price range: $$ Vegetarian food: Yes

Address: 3055 E Walton Blvd. Auburn Hills, MI 48326 Price range: $$ Vegetarian food: Yes

Address: 2943 S. Rochester Rd. Rochester Hills, MI 48307 Price range: $$--$$$ Vegetarian food: Yes

Address: 3651 Rochester Rd. Troy, MI 48083 Price range: $$ Vegetarian food: Yes

Address: 334 S. Main Street, Rochester, MI 48307 Price range: $$ Vegetarian food: Yes

Photo by Melanie Wong



Photo Courtesy of Kelly A.

Photo by Melanie Wong

Photo Courtesy of Eddie M.

Photo Courtesy of Blackbird Bistro Management





The Talon Staff

Six lessons YOU should take away from Nelson Mandela’s legacy Let’s examine this resume for a moment. Nelson Mandela ... *was the first in his family to attend school *was married three times, had five kids and 20 grandkids *started a black law firm to help those who violated apartheid law in South Africa *served 27 years in prison for encouraging people to overthrow the government, even with force *helped eliminate apartheid *was elected the first black president of South Africa and served from May 1994-June 1999 *saved South Africa from civil war by creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses *brought his country together for the 1995 World Cup victory *established the Nelson Mandela Foundation to combat poverty and HIV/AIDS *received more than 250 honors including: -1993 Nobel Peace Prize -U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom -Soviet Order of Lenin -Bharat Ratna -Over 60 honorary degrees from universities around the world *has a holiday named after him thanks to the United Nations: July 18 (his birthday) is Nelson Mandela International Day *lived to be 95 (July 18, 1918 December 5, 2013) It’s a lot to take in. While we can pretty much all agree that Nelson Mandela was one of a kind, it’s hard to imagine the application of

Mrs. Julia Satterthwaite, Adviser

Camille Douglas, Editor-in-Chief Danielle Kullmann, Web/Design Editor Sydney Bammel, News Editor Sarah Walwema, Feature Editor Olivia Bennett, Lifestyles Editor A.J. Prisciandaro, Entertainment Editor Melody Zhang, Opinion/Photo Editor Zach Libby, Sports Editor

His philosophies of life inspired people of all ages, ethnicities and genders to be more open-minded to others and to do what they are passionate about and what is right, even if it challenges societal standards.

It was because of him that the impossible could become the inevitable: it took most countries decades to achieve the peace that Mandela was able to bring in a matter of a few years.

MELANIE WONG, 12 his philosophies in Rochester. Well, here’s a breakdown for you based on some of Mandela’s most inspirational quotes: 1. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Stop complaining about school. Figure out what you’re passionate about. Find a way to do that for the rest of your life. 2. “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.” Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to voice your own opinion, hang out with people who interest and challenge you, listen to what you want, dress how you choose and let your freak flag fly. The sooner you realize that figuring out who YOU are and doing what YOU love is important, the easier the transition to the “real world” will go as you leave the Rochester bubble. 3. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate

BILQEES SALIE, 11 about what they do.” While we all like to think of ourselves (and our problems) as the center of the universe, that simply is not the case. Grow up. Stop complaining. Do your work. Rise above the crappy things that have happened to you and make your future what you want. 4. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Stop holding grudges. Instead of spending energy clinging to negative thoughts about those who have made you angry, focus on others. What’s good about those around you? Hang on to those thoughts as you go to sleep each night. 5. “I hate race discrimination most intensely and it all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.” Stop making assumptions based on race. We all know the stereotypes - they’re old, tired and boring. Maybe spend some time getting to know

After losing a significant part of his life, being labeled as a terrorist by the country that claims that it supports freedom and equality for all, he chose to focus on the task he had at hand: uniting a divided country.

SARAH WALWEMA, 12 people before making judgments. Think about ways you are similar to others instead of focusing the outward appearance that makes you different. 6. “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Aspire to be the guy or girl who is so kind that when others speak of you, they describe you as a “kind soul,” “sweetheart” or someone with a “heart of gold.” This will never work against you. Be that guy or girl who everyone who admires for posessing intelligence, kindness AND a generous spirit. Bonus: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” This bonus lesson is for the administrators, teachers and support staff at RHS. Treat us as equals. Get to know us. Stop assuming we are all apathetic, immature and worthless. Engage us. Find out what makes us tick and generate lessons and activities that don’t just make us THINK, but make us FEEL.

Colette Cloutier, Staff Reporter Paige Farnsworth, Staff Reporter Kailie Fowler, Staff Reporter Erin Eyler, Staff Reporter Maura Losh, Staff Reporter Grant McPherson, Staff Reporter Aubrey Ritz, Staff Reporter Bilqees Salie, Staff Reporter Emberly Skaggs, Staff Reporter Edgar Sokoli, Business Manager Ambika Vohra, Staff Reporter Melanie Wong, Staff Reporter

The Talon Policy

The Talon presents an open forum for student expression to be used by the Rochester High School community to promote and express thought and action. The stories, opinions and bylined content in The Talon do not necessarily represent and should not be interpreted as the views of the Rochester Community School Board of Education or any of its staff, faculty or employees. The Talon is devoted to professional journalism and fairness in all reporting. The Talon will adhere to a standard of responsible journalism and will refrain from publishing material which is legally libelous, obscene or could disrupt the operation of the school.

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If something annoys you about us, school or life in general, write a letter to the editor. If something amuses you about us, school or life in general, write a letter to the editor. If we got something wrong, write a letter to the editor. If it’s coherent and under 300 words, we’ll run it. Drop signed letters off in B123 before or during 1st Hour, email them to Mrs. Satterthwaite:, tweet a link to us @rhstalon, post them to The Talon’s Facebook page or any other form of 21st Century communication you prefer. We look forward to hearing from you.



Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) and National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA)

Comic by David Martin



Varsity girls basketball start season with confidence BY ZACH LIBBY

The Varsity girls basketball team will begin the 2013-14 with a different look on paper compared to last season. Six seniors have graduated, which means 90 percent of the shooting will be gone as well, according to’s Matt Mowery. The Falcons are bringing back seniors Alexa Haupt, Maddie Williams and Monica Williamson, but only Haupt and Williams played a majority of last season’s 13-8 finish. “We lost a close district game against Utica Ford who went on to win the district and play in the Regional finals,” head coach Mr. Adam Sheldon said. “We were playing our best basketball at the end of the season and as a coach that is exactly what you want.” According to Mowery, Mr. Sheldon describes the trio of seniors as “three of the most competitive girls we have ever had in our program” during his tenure with RHS. “Our captains will lead us for the most part this season,” Williams said. “Monica [Williamson] is very vocal and positive during practice and Alexa [Haupt] is one of the hardest working players on the team.” Haupt describes Williams as the one to watch out for this season. Her work during the offseason will give Maddie [Williams] an advantage. “She played in an AAU team in addition to the workouts and such which gave her a step ahead of everyone else,” Haupt said. “She also improved her shot and her confidence has risen through the roof in comparison with previous years.” Although the Falcons will be led by their experienced seniors, the sophomore and junior class will also contribute greatly for the team, according to Coach Sheldon. “We have two sophomores that will be on our team this year, Zo Schultz and Delaney Norgrove. They will both play a large role on our team this year,” Coach Sheldon said. “Schultz will start for us this year and Norgrove could very well end up starting for us at some point as well. We also have a great group of juniors including Dana Pienta who will help us as well.” Coach Sheldon agrees that the loss of six seniors last season will be a huge weakness, but he also describes this year’s team as very gritty and hard

Coach Adam Shelton talks strategy with the girls varsity basketball against Waterford Mott. Photo by Brian Palmer

Senior Alexa Haupt attempts a free throw. Photo by Brian Palmer

Senior Maddie Williams prepares to drive to the basket. Photo by Brian Palmer

working you ladies who take pride in playing defense. “We will definitely be a defensive minded team that will use our defensive energy to transition into scoring opportunities for us,” Coach Sheldon said. “We lost a large part of our offense in the group that graduated last season. We have girls that will step up and fill those roles. It will take some time, but I am confident we will get there as a team. “I can promise you that our girls will work very hard, compete every night and will represent our school and our city with respect, pride and in a manner that would make everyone connected to Rochester High proud,” Sheldon added. This season, the Falcons will compete in the OAA White, which consists of Bloomfield Hills, Oxford, Troy, Lake Orion, Birmingham Groves, Farmington and Rochester Adams. According to Mowery, Wayne State-bound Shannon Wilson and the newly formed Bloomfield

Hills BlackHawks will be the team to beat this year in the White, followed by Rochester Adams and Oxford. He also has Rochester finishing sixth at the league at the end of the season. With Rochester Adams in the same league as the Falcons this year, the annual Crosstown Showdown will take place at Oakland University in the O’Rena once again. Adams managed to pull off a convincing win over the Falcons last season 43-33. “It’s our most popular games against our rival and we get a lot of support,” Haupt said. “Plus, we might have a pep rally before the game which will fire everyone up even more. It also helps that we have good chances against Adams this year.” “I cant wait until the crosstown showdown; that game is like no other,” Williams said in agreement to Haupt. “We work at practice everyday at practice everyday to work towards the goal of beating Adams. I don’t want to experience last year again.”


BY ZACH LIBBY Detroit began the 2014 offseason by hiring their new manager in former Tiger catcher Brad Ausmus to a three-year deal. Despite Ausmus not having any prior managerial experience, he will have plenty of help from his assistant coaches, as Gene Lamont and Jeff Jones will return as the bench and pitcher coach respectively. 3x All-Star and 11x Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel has also been named to the staff as the new first base coach. General Manager Dave Dombrowski shocked the league earlier this month by trading power hitter Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler. Despite the nine-year, $214 million contract hung over Fielder’s head, Dombrowski managed to clear salary cap room for the next seven years, as well as adding a full time second baseman for the 2014 season. In 136 games played with the Rangers last season, Kinsler batted .277 with 13 home-runs and 72 RBIs. The Tigers fought their way to the ALCS due to one of the most dominant pitching rotations in the MLB last season, in terms of ERA (3.44) innings pitched (1,023), and WAR (25.3). But after trading pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals, they will not have the same staff the Tigers used in the regular season and the playoffs. The blockbuster trade gives Drew Smyly the opportunity to take over as the No. 5 starter, while Rick Porcello will replace Fister in the lineup as the No. 4 starter. With a focus on long term flexibility, the Tigers received lefty reliever Ian Krol, infielder/outfielder Steve Lombardozzi and lefty starting prospect Robbie Ray. One of the biggest concerns for the Tigers was upgrading their bullpen, after a turmoil 2013 campaign which featured closer Jose Valverde resigning with the team, shortly before being designated for assignment after consecutive meltdowns on the mound. It also saw Octavio Dotel missing most of the season due to injury and the sky rocketing 5.40 ERA of Phil Coke. Joaquin Benoit helped solidify the closer spot for the remainder of the season after Balverde was released, but now finds himself on the free agent market. So for two years-$20 million, the Tigers signed one of the most highly regarded closers in the free agent market in Joe Nathan. The 39-year-old leads all active closers in saves, as well as coming off the second-best ERA (1.39) and the best ERA+ (2.97) last season of his career. With the excess amount of money available from the Prince Fielder trade, the Tiger could manage to resign Joaquin Benoit to a similar contract. According to, the projected contract for Benoit is two-years, $16 million. Other transactions made buy the Tigers were signing former New York Yankee reliever, Joba Chamberlain, and platoon outfielder Rajai Davis to increase speed.



road to the



SPARTANS SMELL ROSES Math teacher Mrs. Lisa Gotko was glued to the screen on Saturday, Dec. 7 near midnight as the seconds ticked down to zero and the #10 Spartans beat the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes 34-24 in the Big Ten Title Championship Game in Indianapolis. Within minutes, Mrs. Gotko was on the computer looking up packages from the MSU Alumni association to attend the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 1 with her family. “My reaction to the victory was jumping up and down screaming!” Mrs. Gotko said. “The last time the Spartans went to the Rose Bowl was Jan. 1, 1988. I know this because I had recently gotten engaged to be married. We debated going then, but didn’t because we were saving our money to pay for our wedding. But, we said that we would go the next time. Well, I just celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary last week and I’m going to the Rosebowl! My


husband and I are taking our two daughters, and there are 14 other family members going with us.” English teacher Mrs. Ashley Painter and social studies teacher Mrs. Megan Pierce attended the MSU vs. OSU game in Indianapolis. “The experience in Indianapolis was great,” Mrs. Painter said. “There were so many fans, and the excitement before the game was palpable. People were so proud to be Spartans. We had a much smaller cheering section than OSU, but we were loud and supportive of our team the entire game. When it was clear they were going to win, older people started sharing memories of their last Rose Bowl trip.” Mrs. Pierce described the atmosphere in Indianapolis. “At each touchdown there were explosions of cheers and high fives and hugs with strangers all around you,” Mrs. Pierce said. “When they won, there was much celebration in the same manner. No one moved from their seats as all wanted to see the presentation of the trophies and the formal invitation to the Rose Bowl. It means so much to have won against OSU and that particular game because

now there is no arguing – MSU has a great football team!” University of Michigan graduate and English teacher Mrs. Julie Kuslits was also happy to see MSU beat OSU. “Seeing MSU win over OSU was enjoyable for me since the Buckeyes are my new ‘Public Enemy Number One’ after their disgusting lack of class as evidenced by the Michigan game when an ejected player flipped off the crowd on national television,” Mrs. Kuslits said. “The Ohio State University seems to celebrate the crudeness of its players—marketing it as ‘toughness.’ There was nothing too tough about that team this year. They were overrated frauds, and I was glad to see both Michigan teams expose them as such. Michigan State has earned this Rose Bowl opportunity and I hope they continue to win and represent the Big Ten with honor.” BLEEDING GREEN ON GAME DAY Mrs. Gotko’s family bleeds green. She and her three siblings went to MSU. Her daughter is a current freshman there. She has four nieces and nephews there and one nephew graduate of MSU. She describes what it’s like at Spartan stadium on gameday.

“The atmosphere in the stadium is electric,” Mrs. Gotko said. “The student section never sits throughout the game.” English teacher Mr. Chris Guyor also enjoys attending a couple of Spartan football games each season. “Going to East Lansing is going home,” Mr. Guyor said. “The atmosphere is always awesome - it’s like a reunion of all the things you love.” Mrs. Painter agrees. “MSU has a beautiful campus, and there is nothing like spending the day outside and remembering some of your best moments on game day,” Mrs. Painter said. “Spartans feel like one big family as we cheer together to help our team win.” SEASON HIGHLIGHTS Spartan fans got to enjoy several highs this season that put them on track to make it to the Rose Bowl. “Beating Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship,” Mrs. Gotko said of her favorite moment. “Getting ahead in the game by 17 points, then losing the lead, but having enough confidence and composure to come back and beat them by 10.”












My prediction [for the Rose Bowl] is a victory of course; we won in 1988 and we are going to win this year! The challenge in beating Stanford is that it is practically a home game for them. MRS. LISA GOTKO, MATH TEACHER

Ohio State fan and English teacher Mr. Andre Harding was not so pleased with MSU’s victory over his Buckeyes. “Being that I was born and raised in the state of Ohio, I’ve been a fan of OSU since I can remember,” Mr. Harding said. “I married a Wolverine and many of my friends and colleagues are Spartans. I think rivalries are important and the banter amongst all of us keep life spicy, but it cuts like a knife when I have to eat crow and get taunted by every ‘Goshdarndohickeyheck’ Buckeye hater who has to cut me and then pour salt on the gash.” Another highlight for Mrs. Painter was beating rival University of Michigan. “The win over Michigan is always fun,” Mrs. Painter said. “It is such a good rivalry, so there are lots of opportunities to trade wellintentioned jabs at one another and gloat over all the Michigan fans who for so long had so much success against us.” Mrs. Kuslits wasn’t thrilled with the Wolverine loss. “Obviously I was disappointed to see the loss to MSU, but I predicted it and knew we didn’t stand much of a chance with our play of late,” Mrs. Kuslits said. “MSU has a fabulous program this year, and they played a good, clean game. Such a talented defense and quarterback was the winning combination for their undefeated season in conference play.” SEASON LOW Though the Spartans are celebrating now, they certainly were not happy after MSU’s loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 21. Mrs. Gotko cites that game as her low this season. “Watching the referees throw so many flags in our only loss of the season to Notre Dame [was frustrating,]” Mrs. Gotko said. “MSU got called for several pass interference plays, and if you listen to the commentators talk at any of the recent games, they all reference those pass interference calls as unwarranted.” Mrs. Painter agrees with Mrs. Gotko’s low. “The bad pass interference calls in the Notre Dame loss were awful,” Mrs. Painter said. “They are especially bad now that it is clear we could have been in the national title game!” COACH DANTONIO AND QUARTERBACK COOK HONORED WITH AWARDS Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for 2013. “I love Coach Dantonio,” Mrs. Gotko said. “He has formed a real bond with his players. He has faith in them and truly believed all season that the Rose Bowl was a real possibility.” Mrs. Painter thinks “Coach D” is wonderful and even had the opportunity to meet him.

rosebowl cont.

English teacher Mrs. Ashley Painter and social studies teacher Mrs. Meg Pierce pose with former MSU player Kirk Cousins. Mrs. Painter poses at Spartan stadium with her husband Chad. Mrs. Painter and Mrs. Pierce support each other at a MSU game, clad heavily in Spartan gear. Photos Courtesy of Ashley Painter “I believe he is a person of principle who cares about setting a good example and being good role models in the community,” Mrs. Painter said. “He is a wonderful coach who always gets his players to play their best and rise to meet challenges.” Mrs. Pierce also sings Dantonio’s praises. “He is an amazing coach and educator,” Mrs. Pierce said. “He has built up the Spartan team and Spartan Nation to be something it hasn’t been in many years. I love that he has brought back historical traditions, like tossing a good luck penny at the Spartan Statue on the way to the stadium on game day, and that he has started new ones, like the countdown clock to the U of M game in the locker rooms and all over the practice facility. He has become a fixture to MSU. I can’t imagine Spartan Football without him.” Another surprise for the Spartans this season was sophomore Connor Cook’s rise from third string quarterback in August to Big Ten Championship Game MVP. “I wanted us to play Andrew Maxwell at the

beginning of the year,” Mrs. Painter said. “But Cook has really improved, become a leader, and I think he embodies this team. He was an underdog who has continued to work hard, get better, and earn people’s respect.” Mrs. Gotko agrees. “Cook has gained confidence as a quarterback all season,” Mrs. Gotko said. “His decision-making and passing accuracy has improved over the season. The team also has a lot of confidence in him as well.” PREDICTIONS FOR THE ROSE BOWL Spartan fans are hoping to pull off a victory against #5 ranked Stanford. “My prediction is a victory of course; we won in 1988 and we are going to win this year!,” Mrs. Gotko said. “The challenge in beating Stanford is that it is practically a home game for them.” Mrs. Painter and her husband are also going to be in Pasadena for the game. “We would not normally be able to afford this, but some things worked out for us,” Mrs. Painter said. “I think it will be a close game, but

the Spartans will win by a field goal. We are very similar teams. We both like to run the ball, control the line of scrimmage, and have good defenses. It will be interesting to see their great running backs and offensive line against our run defense.” Mr. Guyor agrees that the Spartans will win. “I gotta go 27-21, MSU,” Mr. Guyor said. “To win, State has to be State and not panic. Use the same game plan as against OSU. Adjust, attack, persevere!” While Mr. Harding was disappointed in MSU’s victory over Ohio State, he hopes to see the Spartans come home with a victory. “MSU is a … gulp … darn good team (even painful to admit the truth),” Mr. Harding said. “I do hope they can get the best of Stanford.” Mrs. Gotko is making a (packing) list and checking it twice. She’ll find out if she gets her Christmas wish for a Spartan Rose Bowl victory on Jan. 1. “I’m just really excited about going to California and hope the Spartans play well,” Mrs. Gotko said. “I would love it if they won!”



HOMETOWN CHRISTMAS PARADE DRAWS CROWD 1. Santa sings Christmas carols while riding his sleigh through town. Santa has been the last float in the parade since it started in 1951. Photo by Emberly Skaggs

2. Oakland University Dance team member Danielle Dymond dances with her team down Main Street. The Oakland University Dance and Cheer team has been a part of the parade since 2004. Photo by Emberly Skaggs

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3. A gymnast from Rhythm Pointe Dance Academy shows off her talent by cartwheeling throughout the majority of the parade. Rhythm Pointe Dance Academy took top honors during the parade for the drill team portion. Photo by Emberly Skaggs



4. The Falcon Marching Band marches proudly while representing RHS in the Hometown Christmas Parade. The band has been actively participating in the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade since 1953. In addition to the Rochester parade, the band has also played in Detroit’s America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Sarnia Parade of lights in Canada since 1993. Photo by Emberly Skaggs 5. Future Falcons from Reuther Middle School walk or skateboard in the parade in their Christmas gear while flaunting their school colors. Photo by Emberly Skaggs 6. Surviving and fallen veterans are honored by Ex-Army soldiers who volunteer to walk in the parade every year. Photo by Melody Zhang

* First Robotics Team also took first place in the parade for best high school float, as well as being granted the Grand Marshall Award.


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