Storm Watch! page 2 l Best Films of 2012 page 4 l Where Were They Then? Mr. Collins page 6
The Viking Call Gift Giving page 7 l New Year’s Resolutions page 6 l New Swimming and Track Seasons page 4
Vol. 4 Issue 2
Branden Thornton; A Story of Hope
Photo credited to Allen Thornton
By: Isabella DiPasquale
Photo credited to Dana Wright
On Sunday of September 9th around 11:00 p.m. recent Upper Merion graduate, Branden Thornton, and his friend, Anthony, decided to take a walk to their nearby Sunoco market. They began to make their way along South Gulph Rd. single file, Branden in front, due to the absence of a sidewalk along the busy street. It was here where a drunk driver sped by going 65mph in a 40mph zone with his headlights off and ran over the two boys. Branden received the initial impact of the car. He was hit with the bumper, and was thrown several feet, landing headfirst on a rock. Anthony was merely clipped and suffered minor injuries. The driver then backed up and sped away in the opposite lane so that he wouldn’t run over the injured boys. Police found him later on at a nearby Motel 6. The only witness was an off duty ambulance driver who rushed to their aid and was able to identify the severity of Branden’s condition while simultaneously calling 911 and reporting the car’s license plate number. If
And The Winner Is...
By Jackie Nikpour
In the spirit of election year, Upper Merion’s Social Studies Department, in conjunction with the Political Activism Club, held it’s fourth ever mock election, with seniors Esther Grambs and Josiah Eustace playing the roles of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively. Although Upper Merion has had mock elections before, this year was different – this is the first time our school has had a mock debate to go along with the election. “These students have worked very hard to prepare,” says Mr. Kozol, who coordinated the debate and election. “This is the first time we’ve had a debate to go along with the election”. Each candidate had a small team of students to help them prepare answers to possible questions as if they were Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney. Besides the candidates and their teams, four students had prepared questions to ask the candidates in the town-hall style debate. Seniors Joe Burkert, Sofia Montgomery, Nick Lee, and Irene Ho asked questions ranging from job creation to foreign policy in the Middle East to each candidate’s stance on affirmative action. The candidates were given a list of topics and questions that could possibly be asked in the debate. Both Obama and Romney were unaware of which specific questions would be asked. Mr. Kozol, who served as a moderator, kept the debate on tight schedule. Each candidate took the podium, decorated with the Obama and Romney logos, and gave an opening speech thanking everyone for coming out and promising to move the United States in the right direction. Burkert then asked the first question, regarding how to fix the economy. Eustace, representing Romney had the opportunity to respond first- he referenced his five-point plan to help America
it had been anyone else there that night, who didn’t have that medical experience, Branden might not have survived. Anthony refused any medical treatment. However, Branden was in severe condition and was airlifted to The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for emergency surgery. He was admitted with a severe blood clot in the brain, a bruised kidney, and a laceration to the spleen. Doctors said that the likelihood of Branden surviving was very bleak; they predicted that he would die that night. The family was in complete heartbreak, and then something astounding happened. “God spoke to me and promised that my son would be fully restored,” Branden’s mother, Tammy, said. If you had ever met Branden you would know that he wouldn’t have given up that easily. That night he survived. He lay in a coma for several days, tubes hooked up to him left and right, unable to so much as breathe on his own. They removed half of his skull so that the brain’s swelling wouldn’t cause more damage and had a feeding tube hooked up to his stomach. He was fragile, but he was alive. Doctors
then revised their prediction; Branden would live, yes, but he would be in this state for the rest of his life due to his severe brain damage. For the rest of his life he would have to rely on others, unable to comprehend what was going on around him, or possibly wouldn’t even wake up at all. But again Branden proved that he had more fight in him than they could ever imagine. Within several days he woke up, he could move his limbs and he could recognize the people around him. The Branden we all knew was in there, he was just fighting so hard to prove it to us. He was then admitted into Bryn Mawr Rehab where he performed hours of physical therapy daily. However, doctors were still pessimistic about Branden’s recuperation, ignoring the fact that he had already made leaps of recovery that didn’t even seem possible. And then, a few weeks ago he made them believers; Branden spoke. At first, only a whisper and only when he felt it was necessary, but now he has conversations, he laughs, and he’s himself again. “Branden is now expected to make a full recovery, just like God had promised our family,” Tammy proclaimed through joyful tears. His skull has been restored, and since then he has been recovering in strides. He has been walking around with some assistance and is eating solid meals on his own. As if his story wasn’t astounding enough, he recently spoke with his mother and told her that he had met and been enlightened by God. “He told me to go back home,” Branden spoke with a smile, “Heaven is beautiful.” The boy that was supposed to die by the hand of another man’s mistakes is now seen as a miracle who overcame all odds all because of his courage, his fight, and his beliefs. And in doing so he has provided us all with hope and opened the eyes of the most headstrong people. He will never know the impact he has had on all of us. And through the “Branden’s Army” Facebook page, he has reached the hearts of thousands of individuals all over with his story. A few days ago I asked him what he would like me to tell all of you. With a wide grin he responded with, “Please tell everyone to keep praying.” And this is a final message I’d like to leave you with. Whether you are a believer or not, Branden still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers so that he and his family may have as little difficulty in this journey as possible. They deserve our support and well wishes. It’s our turn to help our fellow miracle; he needs every one of us in this journey.
Photo credited to Flickr CC user DonkeyHotey
become energy-independent, have better trade, and create citizens with the skills to participate in higher-paying jobs, all of which, according to Romney, would help America out of the rescession Grambs, representing Obama, then gave her rebuttal, stating taxing the wealthy would help lower the debt and thus pull America out of the recession. From then on, panel members took turns asking questions, and candidates took turns answering as if they were in President Obama and Governor Romney’s shoes. Grambs took on Obama’s views by calling for higher taxes on the wealthy to help balance the budget, bring the to jus-
An Inside Look at The Importance of Being Earnest
tice the attacker who killed the US Ambassador in Libya, and keep affirmative action in place to promote equality in the United States. At the same time, Eustace took on Romney’s views on lowering taxes for everyone, protecting domestic interests before involving the United States abroad, and getting rid of affirmative action. As moderator, Mr. Kozol kept time and interrupted both candidates when their speaking time to answer a question was up. The debate lasted about a half hour before candidates gave their closing speeches, once again thanking their party, the panel, Mr. Kozol, and everyone who came out in
support. So- who won? According to Mr. Kozol, “Barrack Obama won by about a 3:1 ratio.” Although a formal announcement was never made, students’ votes from their social studies classes were counted, different classes represented different states of the Electoral College, and votes were counted just as they were in the actual election. On behalf of the Viking Call, congratulations to both Grambs and Eustace on their hard work in the 2012 mock debate and election.
Murder at the Marquis
Rebuilding Years Ahead for Eagles
The crowd quieted as the lights rose on a stage set with walls surrounding a room filled with couches, a dining table, a suit of armor, a grey fireplace, a grandfather clock, and a few paintings on the wall. Suddenly the audience was no longer in the Upper Merion High School auditorium, but late Victorian London, England. Director Mrs. Ebersole explains, “The Importance of Being Earnest is considered a classic theater piece.” She also says that the play’s comedic situations “have stood the test of time.” Steven Burke, who played John Worthing, states, “this show is like an 1800’s version of Seinfeld. They are cutting up the social rules we all live by, and creating humorous situations from deceptive behaviors.” This farcical comedy from the nineteenth century was shown to be just as funny today as the Upper Merion Underground Players provided an excellent adaptation, which was performed for the public on November 15, 16, and 17 at 7:30. Whether you just forgot to see the play or were too busy studying your Kozol cards, the following is an update on what you missed. The play opened when Algernon Moncrieff, played by Redmond Watson, meets his friend, John Worthing, at his house in London, where John plans on proposing to Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolyn Farifax, played by Rachel Rhindress. First, Jack admits to Algernon that he goes by John (Jack) in the country, where he speaks of his brother Ernest in London, and assumes the identity of Ernest in the city. “My favorite scene to act out in the play would have to be the cigarette case scene, in which Jack, played by Steven Burke, chases Algernon around the room in order to retrieve his cigarette case,” says Redmond. In re-
The Marquis apartment complex in King of Prussia was draped in yellow crime scene tape, Tuesday October 23. Firefighters drained the pool, police investigators searched the grounds, K-9 units surveyed the area between the apartment building and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and law enforcement continued to look into the abduction of 10-month-old Saanvi Venna and the murder of her grandmother. On Monday October 22, Saanvi was kidnapped after her paternal grandmother, 61-year-old Satyavathi Venna, was brutally beaten and murdered inside the family’s apartment at the Marquis complex between 8AM and 1PM. Nick Clairmont, student at Upper Merion, could not believe that there was such an outbreak of crime so close to home. He commented, “After hearing about it in Intro to Business from Brian [Loane], I couldn’t understand why anyone would do this to a little kid.” Authorities gave few details of either incident Tuesday, citing concern for the baby’s safety. Stated in a press release, “Investigators are attempting to identify any person with a motive to harm any member of the Venna family and Indian community.” Investigators issued an Amber Alert, part of a system designed to produce a coordinated response when a child is abducted, just before 5PM on Monday after the child’s father and the murder victim’s son, Venkata Konda Siva Venna, found his mother’s body and realized his daughter was missing. Mrs. Ebersole, English teacher at Upper Merion, stated that she was initially distressed at the news of the kidnapping and felt for the family as well as the Indian community, saying, “They are a very close-knit group and it will be interesting to see how it will effect them all socially and economically.” The Citizen’s Crime Commission of Delaware Valley gave a starting reward of $30,000 on Tuesday and raised it to $50,000 on Friday, as posted by the Upper Merion Township. Many family members spoke on behalf of Saanvi’s parents for several press conferences and releases.
Philadelphia sports fans are naturally known for their passion and diehard desire to win, but after two straight disappointing seasons for the Eagles, fans will have to accept that expectations will be lower for both teams in the coming year as both franchises are resigned to looking for new young talent. Andy Reid is on his way out as Head Coach of the demoralized Eagles, while fans quickly have become a show of negative attitudes and blunt statements of discontent. It’s time to rebuild in the City of Brotherly Love, and fans need to accept that for what it is. New young players and new leadership are on the way. Naturally, this will mean that the Eagles will not be a playoff team next season. A frustrating piece of being a Philadelphia fan is that everyone wants to win now, which is why 2013 will be especially difficult for fans of both teams to stomach. Fans must understand that rapid change is coming to Philly in 2013, and that they a year or two of rebuilding might not be such a bad option long-term. 2012 was tough for the Eagles, and agonizing defeat after defeat is always painful for any sports fan, even more so in a city such as Philly. Once again, the team crumbled in the face of opposition; Andy Reid’s leadership was constantly questioned in the media. After fourteen years under Reid, the Eagles have flown great distances. Virtually every Eagles fan will agree that Reid is on his way out one way or another, but the man who has led the team to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl refused to quit. “I’m standing in front of the team and saying these are the things we need to do, one of which is we need to battle,” Reid said. “I think [resigning] would be a cop out.” While the fans and media have denounced Reid as an utter fail-
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By Christa Rodriguez
By Takara Richard
By Jamie Shelton
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News Murder at the Marquis
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By Takara Richard Thursday, Upper Merion investigators interviewed Raghunandan Yandamuri, whose name was on a list of people who knew the family personally. Yandamuri told police that he did not know who killed Satyavathi or kidnapped Saanvi. Yandamuri also informed police that he made a poster with two pictures of Saanvi and printed 150 to 200 of them at work and delivered them to the family for distribution. He reported that he also attended a vigil that was held Wednesday night in Heiser Park to support the family. When Saanvi Venna’s body was found in a bloody white dress beneath a bench in a basement fitness room at the Marquis early on Friday, October 26, police interviewed Yandamuri once again, charging him with killing the baby girl and her grandmother. Yandamuri confessed that he dropped the baby as he wielded a knife at the grandmother, who charged at him during a botched kidnapping. He reportedly put a handkerchief in Saanvi’s mouth to quiet her, tied a towel around her head and put her in a suitcase before he left the apartment complex. After his arrest, Yandamuri was held without bail on two counts of murder, kidnapping, robbery, and other charges pending a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial. At a brief arraignment regarding his sentence, Yandamuri did not have a lawyer and did not enter a plea. He told a judge that he is not a U.S. citizen and was required to make a private call to the Indian consulate. Yandamuri now faces charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, theft, and corpse abuse. Yandamuri is confirmed to have targeted the family for a $50,000 ransom, a number based in his belief that they had enough money to follow through. In the lengthy ransom note, one question stood out to the police, “It’s up to you to decide, do you want your 1-year-old or five months of your income?���
Weeks since the hurricane hit, America is still recovering from super storm, Sandy. Pennsylvania, one of the more fortunate east coast states, didn’t take as much damage as states like New York and New Jersey, where the famous Seaside Heights amusement park had excessive property damage, estimated to cost about $50 billion to fix. Many were killed from a variety of causes, ranging from power exhaustion on oxygen machines to drowning. The worst of the wreckage seemed to come from fallen tree limbs. “Two pine trees that were over 60 ft tall snapped right in half and fell on my home,” said Freshman Victoria Keebler’s father, Christopher Keebler, who lives in Norristown. Keebler reported that he and his family were watching television when they heard there was going to be 60 to 75 mph winds. Soon after, the pine trees fell on his front bedroom and the front corner of his house. He said also that like many families, his power had gone out for 26 hours and he had to use a gas generator capable of lasting four days to power their refrigerator. The Keebler family was further prepared with canned food to last them five days, five flashlights, nine candles, and a battery-powered radio. Two days after the trees had fallen, a crane was brought in to lift them from the roof. The trees were then cut up and run through a chipper. A roofing company came and tarred the roof. Overall, there was an insurance estimate of $9,000 in damage. Besides the Keeblers, many Upper Merion residents lost power. Some did not have power for several days, like Freshman John Wochele, who commented that, “It’s so hard living without the things we take for granted.” He considers himself one of the lucky ones, though, still having hot water to take a shower. John mentioned that his family had to make trips to Wawa in the morning just to get coffee. Every night, they
By Maddy Grater
went out to entertain themselves. One night they went out to the movies and another they all got in the car and drove around after a dinner out. He acknowledged that it was difficult to get schoolwork done without electricity. He stayed after school everyday as long as he could so he could have Internet to complete his assignments. If he had work that hadn’t been finished while at school, he completed it at home by candlelight. Many people in New Jersey are still without power and homes. Families are returning home to collect belongings that they had to leave behind. President Obama made a special stop in New Jersey days before the election to assess the damage and made it clear that the country will help them rebuild. “So we’re going to have a lot of work to. I don’t want anyone to feel that somehow
Photo credited to Flickr CC user MDGovpics
Photo credited to Flickr CC user United Nations Photo
that this is going to cleaned up over night, we want to make sure the people have realistic expectations, but what I can promise you is that the federal government will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials and we will not quit until this is done,” said Obama, reassuring the people that had been affected by the hurricane. With Sandy coming right before election day New Jersey allowed its citizens to vote by fax or email, despite the argued threat of election fraud. A week after the hurricane, the east coast was hit again with a winter storm, Athena. An estimate of 113 people lost their lives as casualties of the storms. The east coast had a rough fall, but with aid promised, and already given, by many people and organizations, it will, no doubt, be able to rebuild, and move forward.
Photo credited to Flickr CC user spleeness
By Lana Fabia
This fall Sandy became the most popular gal’ in many homes as she swept through the east coast. We all talked about her, but I doubt many of us thought twice about how this destructive super storm got her charming name. The naming of hurricanes began in the 1940s by military meteorologists who used female names. In 1950, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) adopted the system and refined it, rotating multiple name lists over the course of the years. After some complaint from European countries who have been naming all of their storms since 1954, and some statements about political correctness, male names along with French and Spanish names were added to the hurricane list. Today, there are six lists in circulation, each with twenty-one names, (excluding names for Q, U, X, Y, and Z) which alternate in gender. Names that have been used for horrific hurricanes, such as Katrina, are retired and are replaced by a new name, and when the list for a hurricane season has been exhausted, storms are named with the Greek alphabet. It’s quite a system just for naming wind and rain. Meteorologists name hurricanes hoping that it brings attention to the coming storm. They keep the names simple to reduce confusion and use them to warn people of the hurricane. Meteorologists believe that naming a storm will influence people to take action before the hurricane hits, rather than stay and witness its severity. Coming this winter season, The Weather Channel has decided to name snowstorms for the exact same reason. This has brought about much confusion in the meteorological world. The Weather Channel has hopes that naming a winter storm will encourage people to be proactive and aware of the storm by making it easier to follow, giving it personality, and making it easier to be referenced and remembered during and after the storm. Especially in social media, storms are now even easier to talk about! However, snowstorms can’t be named until three days prior to their landfall because only during that window can meteorologists determine if a snowstorm is worthy of a name, based on a predicted severity, so don’t expect Twitter feeds to be filled with hash tags about the storm until then. The notion of naming snowstorms is ridiculous to most. “It’s kind of like naming your forty cats back home,” Mr. Restad, a physics teacher, commented. “Yes, it’s possible to do, but people are going to look at you like
you’re crazy...We name hurricanes because they’re big. They’re 500 some miles across and the reason we name them is because we get more than one at once.” Hurricanes are huge and cause severe damage while snow mostly just causes power outages, which a hurricane does as well, along with pouring down rain and blasting blistering wind. Sophomore Mads Rushlau agrees, simply stating, “Snow storms happen so much and so often that they don’t need to be named.” Think how many significant snowstorms one area gets in a year. If you lived in a place where snow was always on the ground, it would be even more pointless to name snowstorm after snowstorm, or snowfall after snowfall in your perspective of an ever-white winter season. In reality, there is either a lot of snow falling down or none at all. Places where there’s hardly any at all, people tend to just call storms “Storm of ‘96”, and where there is
Photo credited to Flickr CC user Sami’
snow all year around, people may just call a snowstorm “flurries”. The relevance of a name can depend from person to person. If one were to approach a New Orleanian and mention the name “Katrina” they will likely receive a response of anger followed by a string of invectives, or grief and sadness from the remembrance of lost ones and gloomy memories. However, if one were to do the same experiment but instead say the name “Isaac” the responses may be less emotional and they would receive directions to one of the best music clubs in town. Naming snowstorms would get confusing. “If they [The Weather Channel] want to name snowstorms they can, but it won’t make that much of a difference,” sophomore Liz Bauman said. People remember snowstorms for the amount of snow they left or how many school days were cancelled. It’s like meeting someone
new for the first time. Most likely, people remember the first impressions: gregarious, the awkward pimple in the middle of the forehead, the strange laugh that sometimes comes out as a snort, etc, etc. People don’t often remember names. Despite the ridiculousness, The Weather Channel has created a list of names for this winter and has stated that the benefits will be significant. They even hope naming snowstorms will give them personality based upon the amount of snowfall, ice accumulation, and wind severity (because the name Walda screams ‘I’m a storm saturated with snow and ice and have high winds!’). People won’t remember the difference between snowstorm Jove and snowstorm Nemo. People will only remember the epic snowball fights, the sledding wipeouts, and the beauty of the white wonderland of that winter season.
Photo credited to Flickr CC user Kakela
News Elmo’s Sex Scandal
By Alina Lewandowski
Photo credited to Flickr CC user 92YTribeca
In 1984, actor Kevin Clash became the voice of Elmo on the popular children’s show, Sesame Street. In the nearly three decades since, Elmo has become an icon of American childhood, appearing as various children’s toys and even having his image stamped on infant diapers. It comes as quite a shock, then, that a 23-year-old man recently alleged that Clash had engaged in a sexual relationship with him while he was still a minor. Though no official charges were filed, and the man’s claims were eventually revoked, Clash’s reputation as a wholesome, child-friendly actor has been damaged. Sheldon Stephens issued his claims anonymously through an article on the gossip site TMZ on November 12th, despite attempts by the Sesame Workshop to stop it. He brought up evidence of an explicit email sent from Clash’s work email account. It contained the sentence, “I’m sorry that I keep talking about sex with you, it’s driving me insane.” Stephens alleged that he was 16 at the time that the email was sent, and therefore underage. Clash’s law firm stated in an interview later that day that, “he wants it to be known that their sexual relationship was an adult consensual relationship. He will have to further comment on the matter.” Clash took a leave shortly after, stating, “I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.” Clash also faced disciplinary action from the Sesame Workshop for “violating company policy regarding Internet usage.” On November 13th, the claims against Clash were found to be false, and Stephens recanted his state-
In the third debate of the 2012 presidential decision on Tuesday, October 16, 2012, the presidential candidates, democratic President Barack Obama and republican Governor Mitt Romney officially faced off for the second time. After the last debate, various undecided voters agreed that, “Romney came off as a little mean while Obama seemed to be off his game and was not as well-spoken as usual.” Interested voters looked to Tuesday night’s town-hall-styled debate for clarity on some more specific issues. A twenty-year-old college student asked the first question, about unemployment, particularly for individuals graduating college. Romney began the discussion of this issue by promising more jobs and mentioning his five point plan, which he did not explain, and later pointed out that although Obama’s administration has created many jobs, unemployment has risen since 2009 when he took office. Obama presented his solution, saying that he wanted to build up manufacturing in America along with the private sector. Obama also tried to appeal to student voters concerned with unemployment, saying, “I want everybody to get a good education,” then opposed Romney’s plan to declare bankruptcy on the Detroit automobile industry. Other domestic issues discussed in the debate were energy, taxes, job equality, and gun control: On energy, Obama stated his support for clean energy initiatives with lower oil imports while Romney sided more with the use of fossil fuels and argued that gas prices have gone up as a product of Obama’s preventing drilling in America to protect ecology. Obama responded by suggesting that gas prices have gone up because of the recession, which was left behind by former president George W. Bush. The tax discussion started off with Romney claiming that he wanted to simplify and lower taxes for everyone. He claimed he would not tax any capital gain investments held by middle-income families and would close loopholes so taxes would not be any lower than they currently are on the Americans with the top 5% income. Romney also took this opportunity to accuse Obama of “spending and borrowing” too much from the American people and “doubling the nation’s debt” (it was increased by about 50% according to the Treasury Department). Obama said he, too, would cut taxes for the middle class and small businesses and would restore taxes on the 2% of Americans who qualify as upper class back to where they were during former President Bill Clinton’s administration. Obama accused Romney of wanting to spend $8 trillion and said that Romney supports a top-down economy while he believes the only way for the economy to prosper is from the roots and letting rich people have more money to spend is not enough to pull America out of the recession. Job equality was a less heated topic and neither candidate had as much to say. Obama said the key for women to have equal opportunity in the job market was to enable more education and crack down on employer discrimination. He also argued a bit in favor of his healthcare plan that provides coverage for working women to have contraceptives as well as other medical exams and contrasted Romney’s opposition to Planned Parenthood. Romney responded with an anecdote
By Molly Cooke
Photo credited to Flickr CC user USAG-Humphreys
ments. Stephens was also found to have a history of criminal activity, including an arrest for stealing $250,000 in jewelry at knifepoint. For a while, the world believed that Kevin Clash was innocent. However, a week later, two other men accused him of having underage sex with them. Cecil Singleton, 24, filed a $5 million lawsuit against the puppeteer for sexual relations when he was 15. Later that same day an anonymous accuser calling himself ‘John Doe’ claimed that Clash had plied him with alcohol and had sex with him when he was 16. These claims still stand though Clash’s lawyers have said, “Mr. Clash believes this lawsuit has no merit.” Understandably, there is concern among parents of children who watch Sesame Street. They worry about young kids watching a show featuring a man who was accused of breaking the law, especially through child abuse. Though the claims against Clash are not yet proven to be true, many parents are still concerned about possible messages the incident will send to their children. Some Upper Merion students feel that the scandal does affect their view of Elmo. Senior Esther Grambs says, “It’s creepy… I feel weird thinking of Elmo and sex together.” However, others are skeptical about the truth of these claims. “Why now?” says senior Melissa Reinbold. “Why didn’t these men come out with this before?” Kevin Clash has fully resigned from his post at Sesame Workshop. Should he have resigned? And will Elmo continue to be a beloved children’s character in the wake of such a large scandal?
Americans waited with anxiety on Tuesday night, November 6, 2012 to learn who had won the election for President of the United States. Map visuals on virtually every news platform blinked, with varying shades of blue and red, to indicate the state’s political allegiance as reports of vote counts streamed in from precincts throughout the country. At first, Mitt Romney seemed to be winning, but as the night went on, the colors blinked back and forth, especially in swing states like Ohio and Florida where disputes over vote counts would last up until four days after the election, and states like New Jersey that had been badly affected by Hurricane Sandy, causing confusion with voter absenteeism and precinct closings. By about 11PM EST, it was clear that President Obama would be in office for a second term. Both candidates had been campaigning hard right up until the election, participating in debates, airing ads on television, and touring the country to gain support. All of this resulted in a tightly locked race that had pre-election stats tied up and voters anxious for Election Day. Josiah Eustace, Upper Merion Senior Class Secretary, who played the role of Mitt Romney in the school’s mock election, described the weeks leading up to the election, “It was kind of stressful. This was the first time I could vote so this was the first year I paid extreme attention to the election. I had many heated debates and discussions about the pros and cons of both candidates, but in the end I was really proud to have taken part in the election.” Senior, and president of Upper Merion’s Political Activism Club, who played President Barack Obama in the mock election, Esther Grambs, agreed, recalling, “Leading up to the election, it felt as though we were approaching a day that would decide the fate of the world, which, in a sense, is true.”
Now that Obama has been elected for a second term, the public’s opinions are differing on what his goals should be for the next four years. Mike Marquez, Sophomore Class President, believes the executive should first and foremost deal with finances. “Economy, simple as that,” Mike stated. “Obama needs to create jobs, and decrease the unemployment rate in our country.” Esther differed, citing social issues, “What specifically I’d love to see Barack Obama do in the next four years is sign into federal law a bill that makes marriage discrimination illegal, or a bill that fights back restrictions on abortion, or provides more money to places like Planned Parenthood, or makes it illegal for employers to deny contraceptive services to their workers.” Most seem to agree that the next four years may be rough, but will produce great progress. “I feel like the next four years won’t be any magical wonderland like some people are hoping for,” Josiah stated. “They will be rough. They will be hard. However, I feel like there will be progress. Our nation is in too big of a hole to climb out of in the next four years. With such division in Congress, compromise doesn’t seem likely so progress will be slow, but I trust that President Obama knows what he’s doing and will put us on the right track.” Obama himself, in his acceptance speech, recognized the same fact, “As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.”
Photo credited to Flickr CC user Renegade98
By Molly Cooke
Photo credited to Flickr CC user Talk Radio News Service
Photo credited to Flickr CC user jurvetson
Photo credited to Flickr CC user __LakwatserO__
about searching for female representation in his governing office (mentioning ‘binders full of women’, much disliked by voters according to a CNN poll) and said that the job market needed to be more ‘flexible’ with employing women. With gun control, both candidates seemed to agree for once. They wanted to enforce more gun control after the shooting in Aurora, Colorado over the summer and had varying vague statements about education, banning automatic weapons, and family values. Obama, after acknowledging reasons for gun possession, said, “There have been too many instances during the course of my presidency where I have had to comfort families who’ve lost somebody, most recently out in Aurora.” Along with general foreign policy, the candidates debated immigration and outsourcing: The discussion of foreign policy was centered around Obama’s response to the killings of American diplomats in Libya earlier this year. He accepted guilt and
responsibility and declared that it was important to him to strengthen protection for diplomats. Romney followed up, criticizing Obama for not reacting to the news of the deaths quicker and was later corrected by the moderator, Candy Crowley who pointed out that Obama responded immediately, but the United Nations took days of investigation before making a statement. Immigration was another area where both candidates seemed to agree on important details. They both suggested ‘streamlined immigration law’ which would make legal immigration easier. Romney explained his beliefs about making immigration easier for the educated and enforcing laws against illegal immigration saying, “This is a country of immigrants.” Obama differed slightly, saying that he wanted to enforce the border more and specifically go after illegal immigrants who are dangerous and have more respect for those who moved to have better lives for their families. Obama pointed out Romney’s support for the Arizona law (which allows law enforce-
ment to investigate people who look like they might be illegal immigrants), which Romney later denied. Outsourcing was a big topic for Romney. He promised to hold China accountable for currency manipulation and stated that he would put tariffs on products from China. Romney also proclaimed his desire attract entrepreneurs from around the world and convince them to come to America. Obama had less of a clear plan on this issue and mentioned convincing American companies to bring manufacturing back home and creating high wage, high skill jobs. In the last few minutes of the debate, both candidates were asked to make statements about their character to correct common misconceptions. Romney went first, saying that he cared about all Americans and wanted people to know that he was strong in his faith and morals. Obama closed out by saying that he believes in self-reliance and fairness.
Sports Splashing into a New Season By Bernadette Koff
Photo credited to Taylor Mateja
This year, Upper Merion swimming and diving team is excited and prepared to handle their newest change: entering the next level of high school swimming leagues, AAA league. Both coaches and players alike are excited for this new season and its new challenges. This year the swimming and diving team is proud to house their biggest team in years. “33 girls and 21 boys have come out for the team,” said Coach Bugenhagen, “The team is spirited, talented, and young, which means almost all of them will be able to return next year.” With the increased competition this year everyone is encouraged to see excited new faces and confident returning veterans. “There are a lot of new freshmen this year which is always good to see,” said Coach Rabold, “I’m always interested in who as continued to drop their times during the off season as well.” The team is mostly just eager to get back in the pool and not worried about moving up. Number one priority for individual swimmers is
improvement in their times and hopefully each one will be able to contribute their best for the benefit of the whole team. “I believe that [the coaches] are more interested in personal times and improvement than competitiveness with the other schools,” coach Rabold explained, “that being said we expect to be able to send a handful of swimmers to districts [this year].” Each year swimmers look forward to improving their times and helping others do the same. “We lost a lot of veterans on the team, but we gained a lot of new swimmers as well. This season will have its challenges, but I believe the team will persevere,” said senior and captain Michael Shuster. The swimmers are confident in themselves and their fellow teammates about-facing the new competition of AAA League. Junior Helen Loung agreed, “I’m very excited for the upcoming season. In the last year the team has changed a lot, there are many new faces among the old ones.” Nerves seem to be at a minimum in
Rebuilding Years Ahead for Eagles continued from page 1 By Jamie Shelton
Photo credited to Flickr CC user Matthew Straubmuller
ure and have placed the blame on him, players have continued to support their coach. Tight End Brent Celek said of Reid, “He’s in a horrible situation in a town that’s critical and rightly so. But I don’t see Andy as the problem. I think it’s us.” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is sympathetic to
preparation for the new season, everyone is ready to get started. In regards to changes in preparation for districts this year the coaches are not extraordinary worried about changes in practice, they believe the team is physically prepared for tougher competition; team attitude and positivity is what they are focused on. Coach Rabold explained, “we are hoping for positive team spirit from our captains this year. We want every one to improve personal times and enjoy swimming.” Coach Bugenhagen agreed, “The team will focus on individual improvement, and strong performances in our dual meet season.” With the understood added pressure to perform at a higher level for the team, individual times and team spirit are everyone’s first concern this season. Senior and captain Will Stevens said, “I have always been on the diving team but I’m excited for the ex-
Racing into Winter: The Start of a New Track Season By Megan Hendricks
Reid but unrelenting in his expectations. At the beginning of the season, Lurie said that an 8-8 record would be “unacceptable” for a second straight season, implying that Reid’s tenure would end if the Eagles did not make the playoffs. The message here is clear: Reid’s time is over. Michael Vick is no longer the long-term option at quarterback. The Eagles need to scrap the so-called “Dream Team” and rebuild around new players. This group of players is not performing, so the coaches will no doubt be making many changes in the offseason. Jason Babin’s release has already begun this process, and more players are sure to follow. Young players that the team can build around are what the Eagles need now. The question remains: how will the franchise accomplish this? Unfortunately for the Birds, the 2013 NFL draft will not feature a fantastic quarterback class like it did in 2012. There are no Robert Griffin IIIs or Andrew Lucks this time around. Since 2012 will be finishing with a poor record, the Eagles will most likely go into April with a high draft pick. Fans and experts will be doing plenty of speculating over how the Eagles will use their draft picks and possible players they can acquire. As the team transitions to a new era, fans must remember to be patient with a team that has no choice but to rebuild. Success will not come overnight, but in time, the Eagles will be contenders again. The question is: when will that be?
A Fresh Start By Joe Mintzer
The Upper Merion Girls Basketball team is hoping to build off of last year’s success as they go into the 2012-13 season. There will undoubtedly be a new-look team as they cope with losing some of their most impactful players from last season, including Cassidy Koenig, Jackie Van Loan, and Mary Jean Valeri. Despite the losses, the Vikings have maintained a strong core of talented players, most notably senior guard Kristina O’Sullivan, who heads into the season as the team’s leader and most effective scorer. When asked about this season’s outlook, Kristina said, “I am super excited for the season. We have been really working on putting new plays in and figuring out our offense. We are a taller team this year and a very fast paced team this year, which will help.” No matter the school or program, losing a group of talented players is a struggle. The coaches will have a tough job on their hands, as they definitely lost some firepower. However, Kristina is unfazed about the season. She stated that she has the utmost confidence in the coaching staff, saying, “They always come up with great plans for each season and really work on utilizing each assets that we have on the team. They are great coaches and I honestly wouldn’t want to have any other coaches.” Athletes’ confidence in their coaches is an aspect that is often overlooked. A team that does not want to play for their coach will go nowhere. The confidence in the coaching staff is something that will undoubtedly play a role in the Vikings’ success in 2012. Not ignoring the challenges that the team will face, Kristina said, “Our team will have to come to play every day and work as hard as possible. I think that if we do that we will be successful.” She went on to say that she believes that there are several new players willing to step up and make an impact. Among them are “Anna [Davis], and Tatiana [Pleasant] who are really going to have to step right into form.” Another player
tra challenge that swimming will present. Now that we’re in the AAA league, we will have to work even harder to make it to districts.” The team isn’t worried about the added competition at districts and states this season. Everyone is confident that the team will be able to compete at the higher level this year. “With a talented group, we should be able to perform well in our League and at our League Championships –with the goal of sending some swimmers to District level competition,” said Coach Bugenhagen. The swimming and diving team understands the extra work that will be needed this year to qualify for districts but everyone is excited for the new obstacle they must overcome. Changes, especially when it makes competition more difficult, can be unwelcomed and intimidating, but both coaches and swimmers are confident and excited about the new challenges the upcoming season will bring.
Photo credited to Dana Wright
worth watching is Regie Robinson, who displayed a wide range of skills as a freshman last year. She appears to be ready to step into an even more prominent role on the team, and could very well be one of the team’s best options both offensively and defensively in 2012. With a group of devoted players and coaches, the Vikings should experience success in their 2012 campaign. Despite the loss of talent, it appears that the team is quite ready to move on and start anew with their new core. They’re a young team with a very high ceiling, and they should be fun to watch this year.
Photo credited to Ariel Chui
Just as the end of Thanksgiving marks the countdown to the start of the upcoming holiday season, the end of this year’s fall sports season marks the start of preparations for athletes in the countdown to the winter track season. With cold intensifying, the runners are gearing up and preparing to take-off as they race into a muchanticipated season. With the winter track season underway as of Friday, November 16th, the entire team finds itself preparing for its first meet, set to take place in early December. Using the advantage of the preseason, the track team is taking individual steps in readying themselves as a whole. Having much to look forward to this season, the team is poised for nothing less than success. Austin Cooper, a junior who runs the 800, 1600, and sometimes the 400 or 3000-meter events, stated that he is “looking forward to a fun season that isn’t as intense as the other two running seasons but still just as competitive.” Cooper has made it his mission to personally improve his speed and racing ability, in hopes of attaining a few individual medals and qualifying for States. Similarly, junior Ashley Anderson, a participant in the 400 and 800-meter events expects to qualify for Districts individually and as part of team. “I look forward to spending time with my teammates at the late night Friday meets, as well as competing with all the girls from the other teams who beat me in cross country previous times,” Ashley chirped when referring to what excites her about this season. Yet Anderson is not the only one looking forward to the competition ahead. Anecia Alexaki, a pole-vaulter, started the event her freshman year after her coach, Mr. Symmonds, suggested the sport to her because of her daring nature. Now a junior, Alexaki hopes to hone her abilities this year by developing more stable techniques, gaining more experience in competition, improving her state of mind, and cultivating her arising talents. “I’m ready to test my limits,” Alexaki stated with determination, “this year, I have so much more experience in my event (pole vault), and I’m excited to see how far I can take myself, whether it be
Districts or Nationals. I’m going to work as hard as I can to go as far as my mind will take me.” Also determined to get a good run out of the season is senior, Esther Grambs. For the first two years of track, Grambs ran the 4x800 relay, but she sat out last year due an injury. Grambs wants to the run the one and two mile, but she will wait on the coaches’ final decision. Optimistic for her senior year, Grambs “really just wants to have a good time, and hopefully, as captain, encourage the new girls on the team to stay with the program through spring track.” Surrounding this year’s Winter Track season are determination, excitement, and a genuine fondness for the sport itself. After all, it takes true commitment and dedication to be able to run willingly with only an inner drive and your own stamina. “If you don’t have enough energy left in you to stand after the race, you did it right,” Cooper said, a humorous but genuine truth. Overall, the majority of the team’s goals lie in personal improvements on exercising their abilities to perfection, with a great teaching staff to help them do so. “We’ve got great coaches who are going to do their best to get us ready,” commented an optimistic Anderson. If this year’s fall season is any indication of this years winter track season, then it is sure to be a great year for the runners. As Mother Nature races into winter, the runners take their mark for the race into the winter track season.
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Best Films of 2012
A Must See
By Alex Froehlich
By Anna Bahn
that Andrew Garfield is a far more likable Spider-Man than his predecessor Tobey Maguire. The romance component in this Spider-Man was also more believable than the one of the last film. Finally, while Sam Raimi (director of the original series) had a great emphasis on technicality and sets, Marc Webb emphasizes everything on the characters. The absence of Peter’s parents played a bigger 5. Project X part in his life and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) made us Superbad was the day leading up to the world’s realize that he is the only father figure Peter has, making best party, and The Hangover was the night after that his death in this more heart breaking than in any other party. Project X, however, is that night that we’ve been adaption. fantasizing about since those movies. Like A Clockwork Orange and Fight Club, this is a movie that critics don’t, 2. Ted or may never at all, understand. Lots of comedies have On paper, the story of a 35 year-old guy with tried to show us the best party ever, and they more than a walking, talking teddy bear sounds like a pretty stuusually fail. Project X fulfills that promise like none oth- pid movie. But, if there’s anyone who could have pulled er. After seeing it all my friends and I could talk about off this novel idea, it’s Seth MacFarlane. His work with was how crazy it was. Many critics have pointed Costa Family Guy shows that he has the credentials as well as (Oliver Cooper) out as the most annoying character the credibility to do this. Ted is a laugh-a-minute, wacky, since Jar Jar Binks, but he’s what keeps the movie going heartfelt experience that will be enjoyed for a long time. It whether you like him or not. Unlike Jar Jar, the story takes shots at everyone from celebrities to people in Floractually needs him. Project X isn’t a comedy, it’s youth- ida and leaves no one short of laughing pains. Granted ful rebellion caught on camera. It’s misogynistic, mean- some of the jokes are a miss, but the rest of the film makes spirited, and self-destructive. In other words, everything those forgivable. The best part was seeing MacFarlane’s a teenage audience needs in one movie. first movie be so good. Ted surpassed The Hangover as the most successful original R-rated comedy of all-time 4. Looper with 500 million dollars in worldwide grosses, a testa For those that felt let down by Prometheus, ment to Seth’s hard work in show business. Looper is the way to go. It boasts originality and innovation as much as it does thrills. Admittedly, this can 1. The Avengers get very confusing, but you have to sit through it and One of the biggest movies of all-time, and well trust that the movie will explain itself. Joseph Gordon- deserved, The Avengers competes with The Dark Knight Levitt never ceases to bring 110% to any performance he as the greatest comic book films ever made. It blends todoes. Whether he’s in love in (500) Days of Summer, or gether humor, heart, action, thrills, and characters in an an anarchist in Hesher, he always delivers. Bruce Willis astonishing way. Let me start off by saying this - it’s very shows his brilliant talent as well. He perfectly conveys easy to mess something like this up. It’s one thing to make the emotion of a distraught man coming back in time an Iron Man or a Hulk, but this has all of them in one to set things right. You actually feel his pain throughout movie. There’s enormous pressure to balance the charthe movie, and his disgust with his younger, mistaken acters, make sure there’s chemistry between them, and self. Willis tried to do something like this with Surro- make sure it’s better than any of the others. The writers, gates, and despite how bad that was, this makes up for it. however, made this look easy, as they seamlessly accomLooper has one of the best blends of humor, action, and plished everything on that list. The thing that I haven’t human emotion in a movie this year and sci-fi nerds will heard anyone point out is how well they tied in all the be singing its praises for years to come. character’s films. I don’t want to spoil anything, but every movie in the Marvel Universe leading up to this has hap3. The Amazing Spider-Man pened for a reason. Whether it’s Hulk’s gamma radiation The announcement of a Spider-Man reboot or Thor’s inter-dimensional travels, they’ve all had a purwas met with a mixed-to-negative reception from fans. pose. The Avengers is the best of the year and is a proper It seemed unnecessary to remake a franchise that was introduction to Joss Whedon for those who don’t know five years old, but all. Director Mark Web makes the him. smart choice to pave a new path with this film, rather than simply follow the old one. First off, it is arguable 2012 was no different from any other year. There were terrible movies (John Carter, The Devil Inside, This Means War), some good movies (The Dictator, The Hunger Games, Sinister), and some great movies that will not be forgotten for years to come.
Photo credited to Flickr CC user cuttlefish
Imagine a young hero of a pure heart off to fight an evil villain, save the day, and get the girl. Now imagine that young hero having a monkey and a mantis for best friends, a sultan for a father-in-law, and a corrupt carnival owner for a villain. Add a man in a dress and you might have People’s Light Theatre’s Holiday Pantomime. People’s Light and Theatre is famous for the holiday pantos they produce and write every winter season. This year’s play was directed and written by Pete Pryor and Samantha Bellomo, both company members and directors of the theatre company. People’s Light and Theatre, a playhouse in Malvern, performs wonderful musicals called ‘pantos’ or ‘pantomimes.’ In previous years, People’s Light has parodied stories such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Treasure Island, but this year they have graced the community with their wonderful telling of Aladdin: A Musical Panto. A panto is a British form of comedic theatre, usually slapstick comedy based on a well-known fairy tale. Pantos are usually created for children, but always connect with audiences of all ages. Anna South (10th grader of West Chester Rustin High School) says, “It was a funny and entertaining story no matter what age you were, from 102 to 15 to 6 years old, you were laughing at the jokes and creative cultural references.” Aladdin was the wonderful twist on the classic story we know and love. Based in the 16th century town of Paolistein, Aladdin is about “a young ne’er, his animal friends and the zany adventure that ensues after discoveries by the evil FU. There is a beautiful princess, dangerous minions and ninjas, a ridiculous Sultan, a powerful Genie, and, of course, a flying carpet,” as described by the choreographer, co-writer, and assistant director, Sam Bellomo. This funny story made numerous and clever references to Romeo and Juliet, hilarious additions of modern songs sang by talented actors, and men dressed as women. Sam Bellomo, speaking of what her favorite scene would have to be, says, “I really enjoy the Shakespearean nurse. Mai Tai and the Sultan are so fun. Love Fu and his Minions. I wouldn’t say that it is my favorite scene but I still get tickled when I watch the scene from The Empire Strikes Back. And it was really fun to incorporate all the Shakespeare references into the script.” Bex Livingston (11th grader of the Crefeld School) wishes, “everyone at my school had seen the panto, so I wouldn’t have to explain how awesome it was!” The musical was amazing, and other teenagers agree. Jessie Brain (Downingtown) explains, “It was one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen!” Lexie Pyne (9th grader of Conestoga High School) informs, “HILARIOUS!! It made me pee!” and Marykate Santalucia, also a freshman of Conestoga, puts it simply by saying, “It was brilliant.” I highly suggest this musical to anyone who wants a laugh, or anyone for that matter! It was jocular, hilarious, and utterly priceless! Everyone must see Aladdin before it ends on January 6th!
Photo credited to Flickr CC user helloitserica
By Kathryn DelCollo
The latest installment of the Halo Franchise was released worldwide on November 6. So far the launching of Halo 4 has been the most successful in the games history, the largest entertainment launch of the year, and is among one of the top-rated videogames of 2012. The game’s developers, 343 Industries, announced that Halo 4 was in the works back in June 2011. In a later announced in September 2012 the game’s development process was finally complete. Fans were certainly excited over this new installment, considering Halo 3 was released four years ago As per usual, Halo 4 can either be played single player or with others through Xbox Live. The real difference between Halo 3 and Halo 4 is the player’s point of view. In Halo 3 the player could choose their character, while in Halo 4 the player can only be Master Chief. Master Chief is a relatively quiet faceless super soldier. The quiet nature of Chief allows the players to better assume his role. Until now, he has never been seen without his armor and helmet. Earlier on in the games production phases, the development director, Frank O’Conner, informed fans that Cortana and Chief would have strikingly different appearances from those of the prior Halo games. The new looks for the two characters are due to a progression in the story line and enhanced graphics. The Halo franchise focuses in on a war between humanity and aliens (The Covenant) in the year 2557. The games main characters are Master Chief John-117
Photo credited to Flickr CC user SpicaGames
and his Artificial Intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana. The game begins by Cortana waking Master Chief up and warning him of Covenant forces attempting to invade their ship. The two are close to a Forerunner planet, Requiem; most of the game will take place on Requiem. As the game progresses, Cortana is not as reliable as usual. She later reveals that the average lifespan of an AI is supposed to be seven years; Cortana reveals to Chief that she is on her eighth year. This is a fairly unexpected revelation to Chief and to the player because it means Cortana will soon die. Chief wants to try to find Cortana’s creator, Dr. Halsey, and see if he can fix her. As they are traveling, Cortana receives signals from an unknown source. She finds that the source of the signal was from UNSC Infinity – a human vessel commissioned into the UNSC’s Navy after the Human-Covenant war in 2553. Infinity is under attack from The Didact – the supreme leader of the Forerunner military. Chief attempts to defeat The Didact, but fails. The game ends by Cortana dying and Chief being stripped of his armor. The game’s multiplayer setting is better than ever due to new weapons and ten new maps. The graphics are nothing short of astounding with intricate details on each character that brings them to life. The sound effects have been completely redone to sound as realistic as possible to add to the game’s experience. Over all the game has exceeded the fan base’s expectations.
Photo credited to Flickr CC user TonyFelgueiras
Christmas Music for Everybody
An Inside Look at The Importance of Being Earnest continued from page 1 Christina Rodriguez
sponse to Jack’s confession, Algernon also confesses to do something similar, saying that he pretends to have a friend named Bunbury in the country. When Gwendolyn and her mother, Lady Bracknell, played by Annina Baker, enter the scene, Algernon distracts Lady Bracknell, while Jack proposes to Gwendolyn, who believes Jack’s name is Ernest. She accepts the proposal, even though, “she doesn’t actually like him, she just likes his name. She’s attracted to his name,” describes Rachel Rhindress. Lady Bracknell disapproves of the engagement when she discovers that Jack was adopted after being found as a baby in a handbag. In the second act, the setting changes to Jack’s house in the country. Jack’s ward, Cecily Cardew, played by Megan McGee, is studying with her governess, Miss Prism, played by Melissa Reinbold. Algernon, claiming to be Ernest Worthing, comes and meets Cecily and they become engaged. When Jack returns, he announces that his brother Ernest had died, which turns out to be untrue when he learns of Algernon’s scheme. Redmond explains, “Algernon is there to make Jack’s life miserable, and he is very good at it too.” Gwendolyn goes to visit Jack and she talks with Cecily, when they learn they are both engaged to the same man. This exposes Jack and Algernon’s deceptions to the two ladies. The play concludes in the third act as Jack and Algernon try to reconcile their engagements and receive approval from Lady Bracknell as they realize the importance of being earnest. Steven comments that his favorite scene would be “at the end of the play when my character, John Worthing, figures out his real identity. It’s where all the pieces come together, and the part of the show where the audience is cracking up.” Mrs. Ebersole agrees, commenting on the final act, “I love all of act three. It really highlights all the eccentricities of the characters with humorous results.” Other actors who should be credited for their contribution to the show include Nick Loschiavo, who played Dr. Chasuble, as well as Tyler Kontra and Jimmy Pishock, who played butlers Lane and Merriman. Besides acting, multiple things went into making this play work. The costumes, make-up, and hair were another aspect that was particularly focused on for this show. A few students were credited with taking on this responsibility. Rachel explains, “I was able to go and get the costumes with Mrs. Ebersole in Philadelphia and the place there was really awesome. I think everyone’s costumes looked really great.” Megan McGee comments on the costumes, saying, “I think all the costumes were really fun to wear,” and “ I felt it [my costume] really resembled my character.” Another aspect that required effort from the whole cast was the British accents. Redmond says, “A British accent is something that I was looking forward to. Anything that helps me become a better actor with a wider variety of skills and abilities is always exciting.” Megan described it as “a challenge at first for me, but it took lots of practice and patience to get it down.” Rachel says of the accent that, “I’ve been doing it for a very long time so it wasn’t really hard.” Although she admits, “the language was a little hard because sometimes you would skip over a word or add in a little article that isn’t necessary.” There are multiple other challenges that the cast and crew faced individually and as a whole. Steven Burke describes his personal challenges with this play, saying, “The play is all words. The material is not spoon-fed to you, and you can’t just say the lines, so I guess the biggest challenge was translating the text on stage to help the audience understand what is going on.” As a director, Mrs. Ebersole acknowledged the challenges of “learning British accents, understanding difficult vocabulary, adjusting schedules around Hurricane Sandy, and combating an aging light system that limits our abilities to light the stage adequately. Overall, I feel the cast and crew met these challenges with grace.” All the hard work and dedication seems to have paid off as the cast and crew of The Importance of Being Earnest performed another great show for the Upper Merion Underground Players.
Lisa Kuttothara Chances are, by now, you’ve become sick of Christmas music, as it seems to be the only thing playing on the radio. But I promise even the most skeptical among you will find a Christmas song suited for you in this holiday season. Why not venture into the past with some great Christmas classics? Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” embodies the meaning of the perfect Christmas, the ground blanketed in a layer of snow as you open presents with delight. “A Christmas Song” by Nate King Cole is a classic, evoking childhood memories of decorating the tree and eating sweets till you are full. Frank Sinatra enchants with “ Its Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas” taking us back to a time of simplicity and an exquisite melody. These songs have been sung for decades and covered by numerous artists. However, the originals always triumph and if you are looking for songs to help reminisce your youth I suggest these three. Classics are great, but what if you want some rock? For those into a rockier sound, Bruce Springsteen’s electrifying “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” may be in your taste. The more recent band Jimmy Eat World strays from their usual alternative beat with the endearing “Last Christmas.” “Jingle Bell Rock” may have the word rock in it but it’s only a classic if sung by Bobby Helms. Is modern music what’s on your Ipod? If these songs aren’t what you’re looking for maybe your taste is in more modern music. *NYSNC’s “Home for Christmas” is a great album full of classics with a 90’s twist added to them. The Frank Sinatra of our generation, Michael Buble, mesmerizes with his album “Christmas,” while capturing the essence of the warm, happy holiday. If a touch of the exotic is what you fancy, than I suggest “A La Nanita Nana,” the Spanish lullaby. Adam Sandler brings humor this holiday season with the “The Chanukah Song.” So this holiday season revel in the fact that tests, and papers have been put on hold for a week. Snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a piping cup of hot chocolate and bask in the perfect harmonies of your favorite Christmas music.
Photo credited to
This Year Will Be Different
The inevitable New Years is coming full force ahead and you can’t seem to dodge the bullet. Whether you are planning on setting a New Years Resolution or not, the unbearable voices of what you should change intrude your thoughts without your permission. This year I’d like to make a clear new start. To feel like I’m really starting over. I’d like to keep overused corny clichéd quotes on my wall, in my pocket, tattooed on my left forearm to for inspiration. I’d like to enjoy the little things before I end up regretful like a grumpy old person. I’d like to get around to those books I said I’ve been wanting to read. I’d like to detach myself from the past, connect to the present, and not even glance at the future. I’d like to be quick on my feet. I’d like to not forget stupid little things. I’d like to not take myself so seriously. And not be so paranoid. Or critical. And I should especially stop being so hard on myself. Because the truth of the matter is most people are not going to keep their resolutions. Maybe give it a month, a week, a day. At first we liberated, going full force ahead but we get lost somewhere along the way. Why is that? Social physiologist at Florida State University, Roy F. Baumeristes says this is due to “ego depletion”, a state of mental fatigue. The study concluded that the best way to keep your resolution is to anticipate the limits of your willpower. Those with better self-control tend to use less will power. You’ve known yourself for quite some time now. You must have a good idea of what your weaknesses are. The mental preparation, whether it be losing weight or getting better grades is just as important as the actual exercise or studying. Although I am no expert on keeping New Years resolutions, I do notice that there are many similar practices that go into setting a goal as there are in making a
continued from page 1 By Shannon Wall
resolution. Let’s face it, a resolution is only a fancy way of saying goal. 1.Set a single clear Resolution. Don’t make it unattainable, but still dream big. Also set smaller goals along the way. You can’t run a marathon without training first. Run five miles one week and slowly increase your distance and time. Of course, other factors go into this
such a diet and mental capacity. 2.Pre-commit yourself. Both mentally and physically. If you are not full devoted, than what are you striving for? Ask the “what if ’s”, but then follow it up with what will I do. “What if I don’t have enough time to study? How will I make the time? Perhaps I could skip that episode of American Horror Story and wait for the weekend.” These
Photo credited to Tiffany Cheng
internal negotiations with yourself will help you fell more assured of how to go about the resolution. 3.Keep track of your progress and don’t look back. Once you see improvement, you’ll be hungry for more. It may be hard to see a certain number on the test or scale, but use the failure to encourage you to try harder next time.
UM Orchestra Takes Part in Montgomery County Honors String Orchestra By Sofia Montgomery
Photo credited to Flickrr CC user crazybobbles
Upper Merion High School recently held the annual Montgomery County Honors String Orchestra this fall. Auditions took place on October 18, 2012. MCHSO is a “community orchestra where multiple schools cooperate and have a chance to play music that most high school
Photo credited to Sam Garzillo
orchestras don’t get,” says Rebecca Skaf, a senior who has participated in MCHSO for the past two years. Eight different schools from the area participated in the MCHSO ranging from North Penn HS to Upper Dublin HS with Upper Merion HS hosting it for 2012.
Yoon Jae Lee, the conductor, orchestrator, and arranger of MCHSO 2012 is the founder and artistic director of the Ensemble 212 in New York City, music director and conductor for the Old York Road Symphony Orchestra, conductor of the City College Symphony Or-
chestra, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the City College of NY. After the first auditions, a group of talented students from across the different schools are selected Compromised of three rehearsals, the Honors String Orchestra starts out with a few hours rehearsing the selected music as a group, getting to know the conductor (Yoon Jae Lee),, getting used to the surroundings and meeting musicians from other schools. Moving into the second rehearsal made up of eight hours, blind auditions are held for anyone who wants to be first, second, and third chairs for each instrumental part. After auditions, seats are rearranged according to the judges’ scores and the group continues to perform the selected music. The final concert was held at Upper Merion on Friday, November 9. “The concert was a bit unorthodox,” says Skaf, who described how many rehearsals were cancelled due to weather conditions, especially with Hurricane Sandy. “By the time the concert came around, we weren’t really ready… So the conductor decided to have an open rehearsal; we would stop songs and he would talk to us like it was a rehearsal. It was an interesting experience, especially because I’ve seen the Philadelphia orchestra do open rehearsals before.” Despite the unusual nature of the concert, Upper Merion was very well represented at MCHSO with many talented individuals: Samantha Garzillo, Vicky Ung, Abby Nolan, Kaitlyn Lutz, Thomas Ryan, Christian Ryan, and Ram Iyer. Notably, Upper Merion also had students who placed quite well: freshman Ben Lee was 2nd chair for 1st violin, while Jordan Cabahugalmont played 2nd chair for 2nd violin. Additionally, Rebecca Skaf, was 1st chair viola; senior Deanna Cantello, took 2nd chair Viola, and freshman Wendy Bae took 3rd chair viola.
Where Were They Then? Mr. Collins Natalie DiNenno
You may know him as the math teacher with daily jokes on the side of his chalkboard, but there’s a lot more to Mr. Collins than humor and Pre-Calculus. Mr. Collins grew up a few hours from here near Scranton, Pennsylvania, and only came to our area when he attended St. Joes University. Besides math, Mr. Collins loved language in high school and even had a strong baseball career in college. - What high school did you attend? I went to Scranton Prep in Scranton, PA. It was a Jesuit co-ed high school. I had to wear a tie every day for 4 years. Besides weddings and funerals I haven’t worn a tie since. - What activities were you involved in during high school? In high school all I really cared about was sports, baseball in particular. I was also in the chess club to satisfy my nerdy side. - What was your favorite subject? I guess my favorite subject was math. I liked that there was always an answer. I was good at English and I enjoyed reading but I didn’t like writing papers. I’d spend hours writing a paper and I was a bit of a perfectionist, so I would do second drafts, third drafts, etc. With math you solved the problem and that was it. - What were you like as a student? I was a good student but I didn’t worry about grades that much. There was no ‘grade portal’ (or Internet for that matter) so you never really knew what your grade was until you actually got your report card. I just did my best to learn. At UM I think the grade portal puts too much of an emphasis on grades, when the focus should be on learning. - Who was your favorite teacher and why? I had Fr. McGrath for Latin class. He was an old Jesuit priest who scared the heck out of everyone. He had unbelievable discipline. When you walked into his room you had to walk single file and walk around his desk before you took your seat. If you failed a test he moved you to the row of seats next to the radiator. He called this “Radiator Row” and he said he sat students there to get them ready for the heat of Summer School. Despite his craziness he Photo credited to Dana Wright and Mr. Collins told some great stories and was pretty funny. He was extremely motivating as a teacher and I learned Latin well. I don’t know if I did win a superlative. I suppose most likely to keep playing baseball. I ended up playing D1 If I ever meet a dead Roman it’ll pay off for me. baseball in college. - What was your favorite year of high school? Probably my Junior year. Our baseball team made it to - Do you miss high school? Do you wish you had done anything differently? the State Quarterfinals that year. I wish I kept playing football. I played my freshman year - Did you ever win any superlatives? If not, and then I stopped playing my sophomore year to play fall baseball and focus on one sport. Looking back at it, what do you think would have been a I think if I played a second sport it would have made me good one for you?
better at both sports. - When did you know you wanted to be a math teacher? I got an ‘A’ in my Freshman year of Calculus at St. Joe’s University. When the course ended the tutoring center offered me a math tutoring job at $10/hr when all the other subjects made $5.50/hr. It was the first time that I realized that math skills were in high demand. I really liked helping others understand math and I started to realize that it was a subject that a lot of people struggled with. This was
the first time that teaching ever entered my mind. After I graduated I didn’t teach right away. I tried to hang on to my baseball career and I even bar tended to make money. Eventually one of the waitresses at the restaurant I worked at told me about a math teacher opening in Delaware. I was sick of the restaurant industry so I interviewed for the job, and I was shocked that they actually hired me with little teaching experience. I came to Upper Merion three years later.
By now, you’ve surely seen some of the massive changes that the King of Prussia Mall is going through. At the forefront of this mall-makeover is the relocation and complete revamping of the popular women’s clothing store, Forever 21. With it’s two-story, floor to ceiling glass walls, and seemingly endless length from across the Rite-Aid to halfway down the next hall, the new upgrades are nearly impossible to miss.. And just in time for the holidays: at 38,000 square feet, the new Forever 21 is more than twice the size of the original store, complete with an escalator between floors, upgraded dressing rooms on each floor, and two sets of cash registers to help shorten lines. What’s more, the new store is much more organized than the original Forever 21 next to Wet Seal and across from American Eagle. There’s even separate rooms: besides the traditional women’s clothing, this Forever 21 now includes a room for plus-size clothes, as well as rooms for men’s clothing, kid’s clothing, and even shoes and accessories. Do you love it yet? The new upgrades have certainly increased the store’s already high popularity. Lines were out the door on Black Friday, November 23, as the store gave away scratch-off gift cards to the first few hundred customers waiting outside at midnight. Forever 21 is not the only store expanding and upgrading in the mall, though. The H&M store in the plaza also recently opened up their new, two-story shop in place of the previously cramped store. The Apple Store plans to relocate and expand their floor plan by 10,000 feet, and six other merchants are opening. These include Athleta, which sells women’s athletic gear, Burton, which sells snowboards and related gear, Marmot, famous for their outdoor gear, Spanx, selling men and women’s shape-wear, Tommy Bahama, which sells casual where, and Arhaus, a furniture retailer. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the King of Prussia Mall has opened 22 retailers in only the past 18 months. “We’re excited to add stores exclusive to the Philadelphia market as well as the area’s largest retail store space for powerhouse brands,” said King of Prussia Mall General Manager Bob Hart to the Pottstown Mercury. “The attraction of both established and dynamic new retail shopping experiences is further proof that King of Prussia Mall continues to evolve to meet the needs of shoppers of every age and taste.” Whether you’re a fan of Forever 21 or not, there is bound to be something new for you at the newand-improving King of Prussia Mall. Just in time for the holidays.
Walkin’ In A Shopping Wonderland Jackie Nikpour
Photo credited to Emily Wu
Opinion Editorial Winter Fashion By Natalie O’Neil
Winter can be one of the toughest seasons to dress for. Between the freezing cold and those hazy gray days, it can be particularly easy to simply dress down in your sweats and sneaks. Instead of giving into winter’s gloomy atmosphere, follow these upcoming trends for a whole new look. There are a number of new winter trends for this holiday season, but some of the must-haves include, peplums, military, and everyone’s favorite, leather. With these fresh new styles, winter will be a breeze. The first fashion you will see this season is the peplum. Though peplums were extremely popular throughout the summer months, they will also reappear during this frosty spell. In the past, the peplum has been displayed on tank tops with bright, extravagant colors, but now there is a new way to pull off the peplum. To work the peplum this season, find it in darker, classier colors such as emerald or black. Peplums will also start to appear on dresses and skirts rather than shirts. Another trend making an appearance this winter will be the “military” look. Combat boots and buckles first made their entrance as a trend last year, but this time around military is in full swing. Olives and deep purples are to be found on this year’s chic military finds such as button-up jackets, high-collared tops, and combat boots.
Photo credited to Flickr CC user Idhren
This season, look for leather as well. When buying a new jacket or skirt, keep your eye out for leather garments. Flare leather skirts and jackets are everywhere this season and not without rhinestones and spikes of course. Gothic and leathery looks are popular as the cold weather moves in, so don’t miss out on this marvelous style. We all understand that winter can drag on, but it doesn’t have to be a bore. With these new styles, the season will be exciting and edgy. Don’t miss the upcoming fashions as they hit the racks this winter!
A Public Press By Molly Cooke
The primary purpose of American journalism is to protect the rights of citizens given in the First Amendment by embodying them. This argument can be made about pretty much every form of expression. By expressing, one is, to a certain extent, preserving expression. Journalism is different, though, in that through documenting noteworthy events in the world, it empowers everyday people to think for themselves and recognize what they believe to be good or evil. This carries over to cover laws protecting any aspect of life, whether it’s an artist’s right to paint on the wall of a building, or a woman’s right to have an abortion. For this reason, the press is censored in many oppressive countries. Media is so powerful and its very existence enables rights that extremist rulers don’t want people to have. Historically, the rights given to Americans in the First Amendment are the ones most adamantly discouraged by overbearing governments. If someone was allowed to publish news, they could portray the country in a bad light, organize a meeting, meet privately, and maybe even plan a revolution. Often, these governments also have a lot to hide. China, for
Photo credited to Flickr CC user NS Newsflash
example, has a secret police force dedicated to punishing journalists who document the brutality of the regular police force. On theoretical principle, this makes a lot of sense. In the modern age, where more than 80% of our information is taken from Internet media, it could take less than 5 seconds of connection to tear down an oppressive government. Cell phone videos of police and army brutality during the Arab Spring circulated on Youtube like wildfire, stimulating global sympathy. The Arab world was restless, and information technology provided the spark and organization it needed to fight back against its tormentors. American journalism began similarly with pamphlet writers like Thomas Paine inspiring nationalism during the Revolution. It seems that exposure is like kryptonite to oppression. This is why an overall freer government ends out being more powerful. A refrigerator is bigger and heavier than a 30 pound sandbag, but it is easier to move because it has a predictable shape and you can tip it on its edges, while a sandbag has tiny particles that constantly move, one by one, to maintain equal weight distribution so the job of moving them never gets easier. In a free country, these sand particles are each and every individual citizen. With the expansion of the Internet in the past few years, the ‘free world’ is now beginning to encompass even the most remote areas of captive society. In countries where injustice plagues every day life, citizen journalism has become a sandbag, collecting individuals to stand against oppression on a global scale. Citizen journalism thrives on the true nature of journalism and finds niches in captive areas to expose corruption that official press is prohibited from publishing about. It is the ultimate loophole because the digital world is progressing so quickly that governments are struggling to make laws fast enough to control or suppress it. The press seems to be going in a completely new direction, but the jury is still out on whether this is a good change. Information is now more raw and unfinished. The citizen journalist does not have sponsors and is not given a paycheck for tying the news up in a neat little bow. When the average person posts online, there is no editor checking to make sure the copy is ready for the global stage. This provides a shocking, new outlook on reality and truth, but is the world ready for it?
Photo credited to Flickr CC user triplyksis
You’ve Given Me an Obligation By Ashley Soulchin
A few years back I found myself relating particularly well to The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper on the show’s Christmas special. For those of you who aren’t avid Big Bang Theory fans like myself, the socially awkward main character, Sheldon, struggles to buy his neighbor and friend, Penny, a gift for Christmas after she announces that she has already purchased one for him. As he points out on this classic episode, “Oh, Penny. I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift. You’ve given me an obligation.” And that is my exact opinion on what gift giving is these days; it’s turned into nothing more than an obligation. Though I love the holiday season with every fiber in my being, I always find that the act of gift giving is a flaw in the beautiful atmosphere of the season, as it makes me, and others, so very anxious. Who is buying me a gift? Who do I have to buy a gift for? How much are said gifts going to cost me? Then there’s always the issue of not spending too much or too little. If you spend too much the person receiving your gift feels as though they didn’t give you enough, and if you don’t spend enough then you’re sick with guilt. My Sheldon Cooper tendencies here are a pretty big problem, but the larger issue here is, gift giving shouldn’t give you, Sheldon Cooper, or me, this anxious feeling. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, or none of the above, the holiday season isn’t supposed to be about making people feel nervous about giving the people they love gifts. The holiday season, in my humble opinion, is about reminding the people who are closest to you how much you care about them, and if that’s through a gift so be it. If you care about somebody give him a gift, regardless of whether or not you think you’re going to get something in return. If somebody gives you a gift just smile and say “thank you,” and don’t worry about the fact that you don’t have something for him sitting underneath your Christmas tree. If money’s short, make presents, as tacky is it sounds, something from the heart can mean the most to somebody. Pinterest it up; crafting is cool these days, and there’s certainly something that can be made for every friend, parent, teacher, special someone, or dog. If your group of friends is all running short on funds agree not
Photo credited to Tiffany Cheng
to buy presents this year and just spend a day together. We’re all so busy during the school year, especially during this time of the year; time spent together can be the best gift you can possibly give. This holiday season let’s not make gift giving an obligation that keeps us up at night and drains our wallets. This year let’s all go back to the basics of gift giving; let’s simply remind the people we love that we love them, and not care about all the baggage that gifts seem to come with lately.
Answers at the bottom of the page
Fill in numbers 1-9 in such a way that no number repeats in any given row, column, or outlined 9x9 block
The Viking Call would like to issue a formal apology to photographer Tiffany Cheng for incorrectly crediting someone else with her photo that accompanied the front page article, “Upper Merion Overcomes Losing Streak, Routes Springfield.” We appreciate the hard work of all our staff and editors.
The Viking Call
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Ashley Soulchin FACULTY ADVISOR: Jason Darnell NEWS Molly Cooke, Lana Fabia, Takara Richard, Alina Lewandowski, Maddy Grater
STUDENT LIFE Jackie Nikpour, Bernadette Koff, Shannon Wall, Madhuwani Rojulpote, Natalie DiNenno
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Sabrina Carroll, Christa Roderiguez, Alex Froehlich, Grace Eppinger,
PHOTOGRAPHERS Dana Wright, Nick Lee, Mitchell Derby, Tiffany Cheng
SPORTS Jamie Shelton, Ashley Soulchin, Joe Mintzer
ART & EXTRAS Ashley Soulchin, Catherine Krawiec
OPINION EDITORIAL Isabella DiPasquale
Italics denote editor
Answers: Movies of 2012 - 3:Spiderman, 6:Perry, 9: Only, 10:Fall, 1:Carter, 2:Hunger, 4:Perfect, 5:Dawn, 7:Rises, 8:Ralph
Editorials reflect the view of the writer and not that of the staff. Letters to the editor are welcomed and can be directed to The Viking Call at: Upper Merion Area High School 435 Crossfield Road King of Prussia, PA 19406
LAYOUT Catherine Krawiec WEB MASTER Caroline Woodside www.vikingcall.com