Page 1


Where Were They Then?: Mrs. Puskar page 3 l

Prom Fashion page 4 l Hallway Horror page 3 l

The Viking Call Spring Edition

Ink it Up! page 3


UM Baseball page 7


Pippin Review page 5


Phillies Preview page 7

April 2011

Vol. 2 Issue 4

Matt Harner plays Frisbee. By Dana Wright

Seize Your Spring Break By Paige Mitchell

Spring break is the first taste of summer: warm weather, sunshine, and freedom. Unfortunately, unlike summer, spring break doesn’t last three months, and we must seize the day every day during this short holiday. Here are a few ideas to provide all the fun you need to make the most of your mini-summer, no matter which element of break you want to explore. CUTE: If you’re into all things soft and cuddly (including those adorable lions) check out the Philadelphia Zoo. The zoo is open every day during break, but from April 21st to the 23rd, the zoo is also hosting a “Spring Fling” party, which features music, games, fun, and of course cute animals. This event also focuses on ways that you can save the planet and is free with zoo admission. Admission is a little steep at $18.00, but it will be worth the splurge once you see those adorable giraffes. YUMMY: During spring break, when students can stop worrying about grabbing a Pop-Tart on the way out the door and rushing to school, many people enjoy going out to a leisurely breakfast (or a 1 pm brunch for those who aren’t so keen on waking up before noon). This area is home to many popular diners, such as Minella’s in Wayne. Also, if you’re willing to go for a drive, Shady Maple buffet in Lancaster is also a hot spot and offers an endless supply of delicious breakfast foods, for just under $10. MUSICAL: This spring, local venues are hosting a variety of musicians, both large and small, for some awesome concerts. If large stars and hip hop music is your scene, you can catch Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne this spring, but if you favor smaller artists, you can search online for smaller concert spaces to see what kind of hidden gems are performing. To find details on the exact concert that interests you, try a popular site like to give you the hookup for all of your musical desires. SPORTY: If you’re an athletic guy or gal, gather a group of friends and head to a local field for a fun and healthy game of basketball, Frisbee, or wiffle ball. This is a great way to socialize, and the price is unbeatable – FREE. Make the most of the sunshine and warm, perfect weather by arousing some healthy competition among friends. By following these suggestions, your spring break is guaranteed to be a blast. But don’t forget, you have to come back to school in a week, so make sure you get your homework done!

Caley Elementary School waits to see what will happen next, since the referendum was voted down. Photo by Michaela Kiczula.

Caley Referendum Fails to Pass By Elissa Salamy

On January 25th, the polls were open for the public to vote on a tax referendum to renovate Caley Elementary School. It lost by 151 votes. Caley is the oldest of the four elementary schools in our district, built in 1966. The school lacks a sprinkler system, smoke detectors and sufficient heating and air conditioning systems. In addition, the electrical system is out of date, and the school is largely not handicap accessible. Further, there are larger and larger numbers of students in the elementary schools, and all of the schools in our district are at or nearing capacity. In a year when the district already faces a major budget deficit, the school board has been faced with many difficult decisions that call for immediate attention; one of those is the increasing problems caused by Caley’s outdated, and potentially overcrowded, building. At a meeting in December of 2009, the school board unanimously agreed upon a referendum to renovate and expand Caley Elementary. The referendum eventually grew to include safety and energy efficiency projects for the High School and for the Upper Merion buses, which serve our six schools as well as 89 private schools, 82 of which are outside of our district. According to school board member Dr. David Karen, the reason the Caley renovation needed to part of a special referendum is that “[In 2006] the state legislature passed ‘Act One,’ which limits the amount a district can raise taxes in any given year due to the rate of inflation. Such a restriction makes it impossible for school districts to deal with growing populations and large construction projects within the normal school district budget.” The renovation of Caley Elementary and other projects around the district was set to cost around 34 million dollars, which

would raise taxes 28 dollars per household for the first year, and then 56 dollars for the remaining fourteen years. While the school board worked to mobilize the community to support the referendum, others expressed concerns. According to one source, flyers were distributed in local shopping centers that indicated that funds were not being used properly within the school district and that the cost for renovating Caley Elementary was millions of dollars too high. The Times Herald ran Robert Defelice’s letter in which urged the community to vote no because “taxpayers have not been getting what they have been paying for... And they are not going to pay anymore until changes have been made from the top of the Administration on down… Business and residents can no longer afford to pay what they did years ago.” Dr. Karen commented, “It was very easy during a down economy for people to vote ‘No’.” The Times Herald received another letter to the editor from concerned community member Ralph Volpe that explained that the reason the referendum failed was partly the fault of the school board. The timing of the election and inadequate discussion created a “lack of trust” with voters. Our own David Montalvo is concerned as a teacher and as a parent whose children attend schools in our district. “If we don’t expand Caley, where will [the students] go? Into trailers?” he wondered. Dr. Karen echoed this concern. “I believe we might be looking at having trailers outside our elementary schools,” he said. “Having seen how difficult it is to teach and learn in trailers, I fear that our children will lose many

opportunities to learn.” “The quality of the schools affects real estate prices. The value of your house depends on how willing people are to buy a house in our school district,” said Montalvo, “Spending the money on schools is a good investment in the community as well as in the kids.” Dr. Karen explained, “The larger issue of having property values in our area decline because our children are attending school in trailers was obviously less compelling to just over half the voters – so they voted no.” If Governor Corbett’s proposed budget plan, which will substantially cut government funding for public schools and state-sponsored colleges, passes, it will also affect the issue of over-crowding and renovations in schools across the state. “I worry that the governor has forgotten the constitutional requirement that the state provide a ‘thorough and efficient education,” said Dr. Karen. Montalvo said, “I think many school districts around the state will have little choice but to cut programs, staffing or both.” There has been talk around the community about a re-vote of the referendum at the regular election in November. Dr. Karen mentioned on a potential re-vote, “Many board members expressed an interest in pursuing this option.” Montalvo implored, “I hope if there’s anyone out there who agrees with us and didn’t come out to vote, that they will come out and support us in the future. The way the law is now, we need your help to maintain the quality of our schools.”

The Other Guys: Meet Upper Merion’s Support Staff By Callie Rosenfeld and Tammy Slaughter

They work behind the scenes. They are the do-ers: the security guard affectionately referred to as ‘John’, the clerk at the main desk with the awesome rain boots, and the lunch lady who serves up the fuel needed to pass our ninth period exams. Together, they form the backbone of our high school. They are the Other Guys. We sought out to find out a little more about these backstage employees at Upper Merion High School, whose hard work ensures that the day-to-day operations of the high school run smoothly and according to plan. A big undertaking for some, but security guard, John Wilson, front desk secretary Ms. Joan Fern, and attendance clerk Vickie Austin and more than manage the job. We caught the security guard fondly known as ‘John’ to students and teachers alike. Having been here for two years, John’s job is to typically, “Do anything that’s asked of [him] by teachers and staff.” We’ve all seen him on patrol, constantly on the lookout for the pass-less meandering wanderer. “We are paid to make sure that the students get their education [by] being in the classroom when they’re supposed to be,” he says. “That’s our job, their job [meaning your job as students] is to get the education.” But during his time here, John has stumbled upon more than just the occasional wanderer. “The most interesting thing with this whole job…is the way these students are intelligent. They can do things that the parents

and the general public don’t realize. They are so talented, All people see is students running around, they don’t see the intricacies of what they’re being taught here.” John’s favorite part of hallway patrol? “Getting to know the students as individuals and interacting with them too because they have something to teach me, and I hopefully have something to teach them,” he says. Next time you spot John pacing the length of E-Wing, perhaps you’ll stop for a bit of a chat. The man sees and appreciates everything here at Upper Merion. That is, until he asks to see your pass. Seated at the prime point of observation is Ms. Joan Fern, main desk clerk and owner of the fabulous rain boots I compliment on every dreary day. Ms. Fern sees everything from her perch, and her favorite part of the job is “The people. They come in and they need something and I’m able to help them.” Ms. Fern, she has plenty of opportunity too, being strategically placed inside the front entrance of our building. Just in the short time I spent with Ms. Fern, the buzzer at the door went off multiple times, and I watched, impressed. Ms. Fern juggled interacting with the school visitors and answering the phone with a finesse indicative of being a Super Secretary. But being so busy hasn’t stopped Ms. Fern from also noticing the talent brewing here at Upper Merion. “I didn’t realize how much talent the people in Upper Merion have here. There are so many smart people. You can get an answer to anything you ask, right here, right now.”

Our next interviewee was just as informative. Ms. Austin of the attendance office, who, for starters, has worked in the district for over fourteen years, says of the kids at Upper Merion, “They’re refreshing. I just like their vitality.” And on the teacher side of things, Ms. Austin notes with high regard, “[the] every day occurrence [of] how the teachers interact with the kids. I have so much respect for that.” When she’s not managing attendance, a job that only gets busier as the end of the year rapidly approaches, Ms. Austin’s favorite pastimes are to, “Hang with my kid, garden, and golf.” She added. When I get a chance to [play golf], which is few and far between, I groove on it.” As has probably been made apparent, in speaking with several support staff members, a common theme has appeared. First, these people love their jobs. They love the kids, they love the faculty, and they love the school, so be sure to chat them up sometime. Secondly, they really do see everything. Although we sampled only a select few, nobody knows better than any given member of the support staff the day-to-day happenings of Upper Merion, outside of the classroom. These are the Other Guys, the unsung heroes of the Upper Merion halls, without whom we’d all be terribly lost. They lose themselves in their sense of duty, and their love of the job. But that’s because, as Ms. Austin so simply, yet elegantly said, “[I] like working for Upper Merion. I like it a lot.”

News Autism Awareness in April By Sabrina Carroll

Photo by Pooja Parekh.

Every person in the world has something unique about him or her. It may be a special talent, an interesting hobby, even a distinctive physical feature. Sometimes, what makes people stand out is their way of thinking. People with autism possess a special type of thinking. April is Autism Awareness Month. It’s a month during which people come together to promote awareness about Autism and celebrate family members or friends that have it. Many people do not understand what autism is. It is a neurological condition that affects aspects of socialization and communication. People diagnosed with autism may have challenges with speech, focusing in school, or interacting with others. It is estimated that about 1 in every 90 children is diagnosed with autism. It is not a disease, not contagious, and does not, in any manner, mean someone is stupid. A person with autism is not all that different from any other person. People with autism simply have different ways of thinking than others, which sometimes needs adaptive assistance. “Individuals on the spectrum are often misunderstood by others who do not realize how smart and talented each person with autism is,” Mrs. Kenny explains. Our school district has provided a great special education program that adapts to students with autism or any other mental disability to ensure that every student receives an excellent education, no matter what their special needs may be. Upper Merion provides teachers that assist children with autism so that they can reach their full potential at the elementary, middle, and high school level. Special education teachers often collaborate with other teachers to ensure students are progressing well in each of their classes. The staff at Upper Merion also tries to make sure that students attend school in an environment that is respectful, understanding, and caring. Unfortunately, not everyone is respectful and considerate. Many students who have autism are teased or ridiculed for a part of them that they didn’t choose to have. The word “retarded” is used too often, and it is sometimes targeted toward students who have special needs. While “retarded” was once the politically correct


way to say someone had special needs, it now has come to express a person, place, or thing is unfair or stupid. However, in context, those words are extremely hurtful, rude, and inconsiderate. Many times, students use words like these because they do not understand what mental retardation, autism, or any other mental disability is. However, people inside and outside of the district, even around the world, have been working with countless organizations to promote awareness of autism to try to end these types of unkind and insensitive comments. For example, in the Upper Merion community, we hold an event each year called Challenger Day. Challenger Day is a wonderful event where the entire Upper Merion community comes together to remove the “dis” from “disabilities.” People with disabilities, some even students we go to school with, attend to try out different sports that are adapted to their needs. A variety of sports and activities are included, such as basketball, football, cheerleading, golf, swimming, crafts, and raffles. This event always has a wonderful turnout, and the community comes together for an enjoyable day. Challenger Day is usually held in October and also presents great opportunities for community service. Even students within our school are promoting awareness of autism, one of them, senior Sarah Hosgood, is using the topic of autism awareness for her Senior Graduation Project. She explains, “I decided to study Autism because my sister has Autism and I wanted to learn more about it. I feel like a lot of people don’t know a lot about it and should because there are many people in this school with it. They sometimes go unnoticed and people need to know their story.” Sarah finds that using hurtful words and making people aware of autism is definitely an issue in the school. “When people use words, like “retarded,” I don’t think they recognize what it means,” she said. She also mentioned when people use offensive language, they do it out of habit, and it’s imperative that people become aware of how hurtful it can be. Along with using her SGP to promote Autism awareness, Sarah has supported autism by selling autism awareness ribbons, hair bows, and has also advertised at a Chili-cook off to raise money for autism at Hope Community Church. Outside of the Upper Merion Area School District, many are taking action as well. For example, a walk for autism called the C.A.N. (Cure Autism Now) Walk at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is an annual walk where people from all over the state come to advocate finding a cure for autism. Along with the walk itself and information stands, there’s a nice variety of food, fun activities for kids and teens, as well as thousands of new people to meet. The 2011 walk will take place on September 24. Another group called, ASCEND raises awareness about Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of highfunctioning Autism, in the Delaware Valley. When meetings are held, professional speakers will come in to share their knowledge and perspective on Autism. For more information, please visit One program offered in Upper Merion Township is Adaptive Basketball, which is offered numerous times throughout the year. This program focuses on the fundamentals of basketball, while having fun learning about the game. For more information, visit the Park and Recreation website, “Everyone should try to increase their awareness of autism, and understand the struggles that these children and their families face,” Mrs. Kenny explains. If you are interested in learning more about Autism, reading articles like this isn’t a bad start, and if you can, attend the many autism awareness events in our area. And this April, remember what the purpose of Autism Awareness Month is. It’s a month dedicated to ensure opportunities for everyone, no matter how they look, act, or think.

Jamie Alexander and Natalie Torrente. Photo by Greg Alfaro.

See page 4 for Prom News and Fashion!

Photo by Flickr user Ben Edward

Facebook Helps Egypt Launch a Revolution By Pamela Vega

Furious, President Mubarak shut down the In recent news, Egypt has been a major issue. As of now the country is undertaking a new constitution central communication system, including the Internet, to referendum that resulted from the protests in Tahiri end the rebellion. But within two days, the Internet was restored Square, Cairo, Egypt, during the weeks of late January. The protests took a wild turn and proved to the world and the protests continued with even more aggression. that young people can take part of their country’s politics Cairo was declared a war zone when pro-government citizens and policemen fought with the anti-government in a positive way. The chain of events started when the people of Egyptians. As a result, beatings, killings and torturing Tunisia revolted against their own government. Soon took place in Tahiri Square for several weeks. President Mubarak finally stepped down from many Egyptians then felt it was time for a change in Egypt too. They wanted an end to poverty, and also the office on February 11th, 2011. During the upheaval that Emergency Law that was put into effect by President Hosni brought about the end of his reign, 382 people died, and over 6,000 were injured from the fights Mubarak 30 years ago. This Emergency that took place. As a result, the military is Law states that constitutional rights are now in charge of the country, the protests “The Egyptian suspended, the police force is granted have subsided and Egypt is beginning to extended powers, and news and media protestors wanted return to its normal state. It remains are censored, resulting in human nothing less than the unclear if the new leadership will bring rights abuses as some police officers end of the Mubarak the country closer to democracy or not. abuse their authority over the citizens With this revolution, Egypt may have of Egypt. The Egyptian protestors reign, and they sparked more. Other countries such as wanted nothing less than the end of decided it was time Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain now have the Mubarak reign, and they decided it was time for their voices to be heard. for their voices to be the courage to stand up to their own governments. It has also affected the life The movement was helped heard.” of many Americans as gas and oil prices when Wael Ghonim, a Middle Eastern continue to rise. Google executive took matters into his In addition, the use of technology including cell own hands. Using Facebook as a way of communication, he reared a Facebook page titled “We are all Khaled phones and the Internet to organize the revolution in Egypt Saeed” which went viral on Facebook. Ghonim was later was unprecedented. This “Internet Revolution” showed arrested, but the country was already lit with rebellion. the world that young people everywhere do take part in After some careful planning via Internet Social their countries’ politics make a stand for it. It encourages Networking like Facebook and Twitter, the Egyptians us to stand up to the man when something doesn’t seem met up in Tahiri Square to protest in a peaceful right. Egypt’s revolution went down in history with more than a thousand “likes”. manner.

Opinion Editorial

Ink it Up! By Abbie Demcher

“Yo man, did you hear Andres got tatted up this weekend? “Dude totes, it’s a sick spider web with blood spilling out.” If you’re a teenager out there and you’ve finally reached the big eighteen or your parents are ridiculously awesome and lenient, then you have the opportunity to get yourself a tat! Talk about getting tattoos normally starts with location. Now, this is a very important matter because we all know, when it comes to tattoos, location is key. If you have one on your lower back you’re officially a “you know what,” and if you get one on your chest, you might as well be naked! These idiotic accusations are usually directed at the ladies, however men are judged at times too. Once location is established, you must consider what tattoo you want. But what exactly does a tattoo represent? What’s the big concept behind these popular marks that leave young adults gossiping for days? Current senior, Jamie Alexander, reps his tats with confidence. “I think tattoos are awesome,” he says. “I think they should mean something because they are going to be there for the rest of your life.” Mr. Alexander’s tattoo was inspired by the people he met while on a trip to Ethiopia, with a church group as a Christmas gift from his parents. While there, he “made friends he won’t forget,” so he says, his tattoo means “eternal brotherhood,” and is located on his sides of his core. Fellow student Nicole Walbridge encourages tattoos as well and wears one on her foot. Her story is one never to be forgotten. While at a concert of one of her favorite bands, she asked the lead singer to autograph her foot. After careful upkeep, eventually that life-changing signature became permanent by the drilling of a single needle. “Honestly I’ve never been a big tattoo person and I never thought that I would get one. I hate when people just go get one just for the heck of it, if they’re going to get

it, it should be meaningful,” says Nicole. The meaning of a tattoo, it seems, is all in the eye of the beholder. Senior Carrie Davidson grew up around a father and brother buried in tattoos and so she knows a thing or two on the matter. “You have to know that it’s going to be on your body for the rest of your life and it doesn’t have to mean something to be something special, it doesn’t have to represent an event in your life. It can represent a time period in your life.” It seems like meaning is the key ingredient for any tattoo, judging by these student’s stories. But when it comes down to it and you are letting a complete stranger inject ink into your skin, everyone should be aware of what they are in for. I myself am more than able to take that risk to go out there and ink up my bod, I haven’t yet taken the plunge. Don’t get me wrong, I respect tattoos above anything else, but it’s just such a huge commitment. I don’t mean to scare you; I’m just saying don’t go tattoo splurging; it’s not like shopping. You can’t just buy a bunch and be satisfied, or return them if you don’t like them. Don’t forget, tattoos are like scars, once you get them they are there forever, and I mean FOREVER. However, if you do find yourself with your ex-boyfriend’s name tattooed on your chest, they do have that extremely intensive surgery where highly specialized surgeons rip into your skin a scratch and win lottery ticket to remove an unwanted inking, or if that’s not for you, try the one where they point lasers at you like in a bad spy movie. In the end though, if it means something and you know that you won’t hate yourself for it later, go for it. But, in case you were wondering, I am not planning on sporting any angel wings, paw prints, or fluttering butterflies anywhere on my luscious body any time soon.

Hallway Horror By Tammy Slaughter I walk carefully, my eyes crossed in concentration, sweat beading on my forehead, every step a last ditch effort to dodge whatever youngster just catapulted themselves across the hallway. The hallways are such a jungle. The bell that once symbolized the sound of freedom has now become the war cry for all the slow walkers of the world to form a united front, and make the hallway commute an insurmountable obstacle worthy of playing Old Western standoff music in the background. So many things are just too typical of an everyday hallway scene. For instance, it’s all about timing. The later in the day, the more zanies are out and about. That’s not to say the morning hours don’t have their fair share, for I’m sure we can all attest to passing by at least two to three break dancing/ rapping crews before homeroom even starts on an average morning. It’s also possible that that’s just me though. But the energy in the air after all the lunches have passed is palpable. The hairs on the back on my neck at this time (usually around ninth period) stand on end as I brace myself to behold whatever horror awaits once I step outside the threshold of safety created by the classroom. Lively games of kick-the-book-bag-ofwhatever-unsuspecting-stranger-is-walking-in-front-ofme commence, and one of my personal favorites, let’sall-stop-in-the-middle-of-the-hallway-and-engage-inobnoxiously-loud-conversation. The laws of physics state that objects in motion stay in motion. Therefore, according to the sciences of the universe, if I’m already destined to walk a forward path, then I will continue to do so, regardless of whatever

What’s a Bad Day?

riveting conversation you may or may not be having in the middle of the hallway that I will then be forced to interrupt. I can’t help it; it’s science right? But then there’s the screaming, and there’s just no excuse for that. The shrill squabble of the chattering students all fades together into something so loud and unbearable that it becomes an internal dull roaring noise. Lovely ambience. And what’s with the zombie apocalypse walk? Anytime I’m stuck behind the crowd exiting the cafeteria, I feel like I’m trapped in one of those horrible nightmares where, no matter how hard I try, I can’t move. Could I potentially get a detention for being late thanks to the leisurely pace held by the crowd on the way to class? Yes. Could I potentially do anything about it? No, not really. Besides being comparable to the last fifteenminutes of a Die Hard film, when McClane (Bruce Willis) is generally strapped to a bomb or something of the like, the hallways are also a breeding ground for awkward situations. Countless times I’ve trudged along my path, so focused on my destination, that I fail to realize that all along I’ve been walking next to someone I know. Simultaneously the other person realizes, and the saidfamiliar person and I will awkwardly try to explain how we both just saw the other. Or there’s the ever-awkward interception of a ‘hello’ from someone down the hall that’s meant for someone walking behind you…ouch. Folks, be sure to check the parameter before returning the wave, it spares all three parties (the waver, the awkward wave-e, and the intended wave-e) painful embarrassment. All of this Darwinian struggle to make it down the hallway makes one quite grateful, when, finally, asylum is achieved and you’re safe for another forty-three boring minutes from the dreaded hallway commute.

Where Were They Then? Mrs. Puskar By Mounika Muttineni

By Sarah Howell

Have you ever stopped to smell the roses? Such a clichéd expression, I know. But really and truly, have you ever stepped outside of yourself, outside of your petty concerns and trivial worries, and enjoyed the life we’re living? By we, I mean most Americans today. In light of all the horrific happenings in Japan, and the civil unrest caused by a harsh regime in Libya, coming to the realization that we have a great life here at Upper Merion is more important than ever. I hate to generalize, but for the most part, when compared to the disaster brewing in Japan, where thousands remain homeless and may or may not have been poisoned by radioactive materials, we’re living the good life. A typical bad Saturday for me means I get in trouble and get mad… Oh, my friends, it’s the end of the world! I have to suffer the great injustice of being grounded and not being able to drive for a week! Injustice? Maybe it’s worth taking a closer look at what the people in Libya are dealing with. Then, when I grab my Saturday snack of soft pretzels, they are not very soft. I mean really, is this happening to me?! This is such a horrible day. Let me just go mope and be grouchy. Because I had a bad day, I’m allowed to be a brat. Meanwhile somewhere across the globe, a child in Uganda, or even here in America, is out on the streets, thinking about when and if they can get their next meal. Homeless people in Philadelphia, West Chester, Norristown, 10 minutes down the road, were freezing those cold nights that I just complained about. I complained because I was tired of not being able to lie out and burn. I complained about the cold because it was inconvenient. Still I have a house to stay in; it may not always be toasty, but I sure as heck was not out freezing on the sidewalk, wondering if this night just may be my last. In New York alone, 37,000 homeless individuals have been counted, but how many more slipped between the consensus cracks? How many more are in America? In Poland 170 homeless people were found frozen to death in January and February of this year. Yet I had the nerve

to complain about the winter because I wanted to wear dresses again. I had the nerve to complain that my sister bought vanilla ice cream instead of mint chocolate chip while there are people in our country, and millions in the world, who have nothing to eat; people who have to steal and sacrifice for a single meal. I complain about not having clothes that I like, when there are people who have none. I complain about my parents when there are children much younger then myself who have lost theirs due to warfare, drugs, tragic accidents, or abandonment. I complain about nothing, and I’m not alone. The horrible truth about so many of us is that we don’t realize how good our lives really are. It’s true that we all have our problems and each situation is unique. We think our issues are horrible because that is the worst it gets for us. While it is understandable, in reality, and in the large scheme of things, it won’t matter that our favorite sweater got a tear or that we got a B on that paper. What really matters is helping to better the lives of those around us who don’t have the advantages that we have. We have so much to be grateful for in our lives, and each of us is blessed in some way, but the majority of us are blind to that. We look at the negatives. We complain about being overloaded with homework, but there are people out there who want nothing more then to be able to go to school and read. So why don’t we just take a bit of our time and try to help others? You don’t have to take a mission to Africa or India – there are plenty of homeless people around who just need someone to care. Go to a shelter, serve food or just sit down and talk with them. When we walk down the street, let’s not lower our heads and drown our sorrow in music because the boy we liked didn’t pay attention to us. Instead, let’s raise our heads and give a smile and a “hello”. Let’s make someone else’s day, without expecting something in return. That is the most important thing in life, to better the lives of others, and by doing so, we’ll better ourselves.

Among other things, high school may be interminably tedious, but it’s not boring. Without it, what would we have to talk about? Would we know what we’re talking about? Would we even have anyone to talk to? For Mrs. Puskar, Upper Merion Area High School graduate (and one of our lovable security guards), those days were not much to remember. Working in a high school, she explains that she now understands what she was missing out on. Here’s what she had to say about her high school experience and life as a teenager at Upper Merion: Q: What stereotype would you say you belonged to back in school? A: I was kind of quiet and shy. I didn’t really bother anyone. My own friends were from my hometown in Bridgeport, who went to parochial schools. I’m more involved with the senior kids now than I was in my own class. Q: What other kinds of clubs were you involved in? A: Nothing really, I wasn’t involved in extracurriculars much. We didn’t have as many things to do, but we did have a bowling team at one time. Q: What else did you do outside of school?

A: In Bridgeport, there wasn’t much to do. We went to movies, went to dances, and rode around in my friend’s car sometimes. Q: What kind of music did you listen to? A: Diana Ross and the Supremes, Bobby Vinton, Patsy Klein, The Beatles. I listened to a lot of rock. Living in Bridgeport, the only concerts we had were at the Valley Forge Music Fair out on 202, across from the Gateway Shopping Center. I saw The Carpenters and Johnny Mathis there (he was so good looking). Q: What did you want to be when you were a kid? A: I wanted to be a cop, and this was the closest I could come. Several reasons I’m not a cop: One, I’m 4 foot 11. Two, I had to put it on hold for financial reasons. But now I’m doing something I love, and I have no regrets.

Continued on page 8


Student Life From left to right: Arash Kalayeh, Eric Slawter, Kelly Sfirakis,Steve Kuk, Allie Touchstone, Robert Boyk, Ryan Smith, Ali Swider, Jason Lamoreaux, Kyle Gaffney. Photo by Greg Alfaro

Look the Bomb at the Prom by Lizzie Furino

With prom season quickly approaching, you may feel overwhelmed by all the decisions that need to be made by May 13th (for Juniors) or June 3rd (for Seniors): the dress, the hair, the makeup, the accessories, and a date! Thankfully, many websites and magazines like Seventeen’s special Prom Issue and Teen Prom offer plenty of ideas in every area that you may be stressing over. Even guys can find helpful hints on how to dress well and wear the perfect tux. This year’s biggest trends are new, fun, and wearable, but still reminiscent of 2010’s trends. Sale Alert Shopping reports that sequins are in this season, as are brightly colored dresses which are “very popular this season and perfect for standing out from the crowd.” They also share that mermaid styles and empire waistlines are fashionable. Empire waistlines continue to be the most universally flattering to all body types. Devon Meneely, who rocked a fun, yellow dress at the prom fashion show, agrees that you should “find something that will be fitting for your body and accentuates your good features. Not a dress that will take away from it.” Although the name seems to denote a strictly bridal selection, Wedding Shoppe Inc. offers many prom dress brands and tells that the hottest trends are

the extremely popular one shoulder style, sweetheart necklines, and crystal embellishments. These sites, as well as many fashion magazines are happy to inform that dramatic, princess-style dresses are once again in! House of Wu director Jay Reynolds states that, “ball gowns [are] coming back, but they are funkier and fresher.” Grecian and draped dresses are always stunning and allow for more comfort. While Wedding Shoppe Inc. claims “citrus shades of lemon, lime, orange, and pink” are popular; dresses should complement and bring out your skin tone first and foremost. Dresses with an ombré effect allow you to include a few colors without it looking too busy. Although Seventeen states that floral prints are in, they can often look too casual and vacation-esque. Sarah Lorenz, who attended the senior prom last year, says she hates these “very gaudy prints.” E’s Fashion Police panel agrees that almost all prints aren’t appropriate for evening. When it comes to shoes, Sarah believes that “they definitely matter. If you’re going to buy expensive shoes, you should get ones that you like. They should match your clutch, too.” Devon adds, “If your dress has a

lot of detail, don’t go with an extremely detailed shoe.” As far as hair and makeup go, your ‘do and eye shadow should look effortless and harmonize with your dress. Teen Prom explains that a modern bun or a wrap-around braid will look adorable. A ballerina bun matches the fairy tale aspect of a princess gown, while incorporating a small French braid pulls together a Grecian dress flawlessly. If you’re set on wearing your hair down, Seventeen suggests a “super sleek” look, beach-y waves, or soft curls. Makeup should be simple and long lasting. A simple smoky eye will complement most dresses but should not overwhelm the face, especially if you’re rocking a bold lip. Tux expert Jean Yves offers plenty of useful pointers for the escorts, whose fashion choices can often be forgotten and overlooked on prom night. To ensure a classic, dapper look, choose a bow tie or skinny tie. The jacket, ideally “slim-fitting [and] cropped,” (the bottom should hit the middle of your thumb) should have only one or two buttons, but only the top should be buttoned. Yves advises to choose a vest or cummerbund, but never both. To ensure matching and to have all the other couples saying, “Oh, that’s so cute!” ask your date for a

scrap of hemmed fabric from her dress to use as a pocket square. Evan Rieger attended both the junior and senior proms of 2010 and recommends that guys shouldn’t “wear something obnoxious that would take away from your date’s dress.” While looking at dresses in magazines and websites is nice from the comfort of your couch or study hall, it’s important to go out and try dresses on (department stores are great because they have such a variety). Blush’s head designed Jodi Boser recommends “try[ing] on various silhouettes to see what looks best on [you].” You should find a dress you love and is in your price range, but be sure it’s comfortable enough to dance away the night in. Sarah agrees that you should “go for what’s comfortable” and “get what you like.” Worried someone might have the same dress? You can use the National Online Prom Registry via to try and ensure that you wont have a stolen look standoff! Spending months searching for (and your last three paychecks on) a prom dress won’t be worth it if you don’t have fun, so remember to be comfortable and enjoy the night!

DECA Takes Care of Business at State Competition By Karishma Purswani

Photo by Dana Wright

College Stress!!! By Erin Condiff Gregory Alfaro and Powell Davis make it to Nationals in the DECA competition. Photo by Michaela Kiczula.

The anchor was absolutely right when he announced, “Upper Merion is on fire this year,” as students from Upper Merion strutted across the stage at PA DECA states. UM competitors put their best foot forward while competing at the 2011 States Conference in Hershey, PA, winning 23 spots in the national tournament. During the tournament, Upper Merion DECA members were tested in the field of business as they participated in role-plays, speeches, interviews, and manuals. As the finalists were announced, the champions briskly walked up to the stage, and waited anxiously to hear their ranking and receive their award. Giddily, exuberant crowds in the audience cheered for their peers, while the finalists screamed, jumped, and brightened up with joy on stage, as they took their trophies. On the bus ride home, Upper Merion students carried a look of pride and happiness holding their trophies and medals with content. DECA Advisor, Mrs. Denise Jowett said, “This was the biggest number of winners we ever had from Upper Merion, I am proud of even those who didn’t get on stage, and I am more proud of the way we handled ourselves with professionalism, with Viking pride, and everybody cheered for each other.” Two Upper Merion seniors, Gregory Alfaro and Powell Davis, competed as a team and received first place for their overall performance at the States Conference. “It was a moment of shock when they called Upper Merion up for first place,” Greg said, who was a first time competitor in the States Conference. “I looked around just to make sure they hadn’t made a mistake.” His partner, Powell, has been a member of DECA for two years. “Being able to win felt amazing,” she said. Juniors Richie Bhuyan and Greg Roehrs also qualified for Nationals, receiving third place at the States Conference. Richie said, “Before I won, I definitely knew I was going to win, but it was still a great moment, just the fact that I was going to Orlando was pretty sick.” DECA prepares emerging leaders in the business management and marketing field of careers. Students attending such events get a feel of what actually goes on in the business world. Kush Gupta, a sophomore at Upper Merion and a second year member of DECA believes that, “DECA definitely builds your knowledge of marketing, sales, and business in general. But perhaps most valuable are the public speaking skills you gain while competing. I believe that the communication skills you develop at DECA will help you most in life, no matter where your path takes you.”


One typically enters high school a naïve, young scholar who knows next to nothing about college. It seems to be so very far away - an island somewhere out in the ocean that can barely be seen. It’s all just a fantasy, something kids dream about after school and look forward to. But soon enough, it’s all too real, and you start to realize just how serious it all is. Usually starting in the middle of junior year, you begin to question just what you’re going to do after high school. Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? Is it possible to get a 0 on the SATs? Will any college even accept you? AP Tests, SATs, ACTs, college applications, college acceptance letters, college rejection letters, essays, midnight cram sessions, the search for the right college: all of these things loom ahead of the high school junior/ senior who is looking to get into a good college. The

pressure crashes like a wave, taking its toll on you and letting you up only for short, gasping breaths of air. “I really didn’t even do all that well on the SATs,” commented one stressed out teen. “It’s not that they were hard, it was just that I was so completely stressed out about them that I lost all focus. I swear, they should be renamed the Stress and Anxiety Test.” I knew what she meant, those tests can put a lot of pressure on students these days, especially when you have so many people around you who seem to have it all together while you’re the only one who can’t juggle it all. Another student I talked to felt it was important to let everyone know that they weren’t alone with all of this pressure, “A lot of kids think that they’re the only ones stressing out over junior year, but they’re completely wrong.” I myself am having a hard time making choices

about college. There are so many key factors that go into making the decisions that need to be made, and I won’t lie, it’s scary. You have to consider your current location, the amount of money you can afford to shell out, and also what you want to major in. It helps knowing that I’m not alone in this process though, and that other people can relate to how I feel. We’re all going to have to go through this, and we’re all going to be more than a little uncertain at times. I suppose we just have to get through it in the best ways that we can, and surround ourselves with people who will lessen the pressure and cheer us up when we think we’re going to crack under the pressure. But for now, I need to get cracking and start studying for that Stress and Anxiety Test!

2011 Proms Will Light Up the Night By Courtney Smith

Once a year everyone puts on their best and goes out for a night on the town at one of the most anticipated high school events: Prom. For some, their favorite part is the dancing, or dressing up in long fancy gowns, and for others getting asked in a creative way is the favorite. “It’s one night from high school I will always remember because of my friends,” says senior Angela Rizzitiello. Between the lights and the decorations, the atmosphere of prom is completely different from any dance during the rest of the year. Glow sticks and fun hats are given out, adding to the surreal atmosphere. Depending on the theme, decorations can be classy,

dreamy, bold… the possibilities are endless. “I got an Easter basket to ask me to prom,” says Christy Lehman. From roses to puzzles, to personalized pizzas, there are a million and one ways to ask someone to prom. Some go the more traditional way by merely going up to a friend and asking them, but for others it is a special and theatric process. “I got a waitress to put a sign that I made that said ‘prom’ with her order,” reminisces Corey Cohen about his prom-asking experience. This year’s Senior Prom will be held the night of June 3 at Normandy Farm. Secretary for the class of 2011 Ali Swider hints, “I think the most interesting part

is the behind-the-scenes action.” Planning for this year’s Senior Prom will be held on Thursdays afterschool. The theme for prom is “Light Up The Night.” “We decided on a neon theme,” says Ali Swider. The night will include tons of glow sticks, flashy lights, and maybe even a black light. Junior Prom will be held on May 13, 2011. The junior class has decided on a masquerade ball theme, and decorations will be dramatic purples, greens, and golds. Masks will also factor into the decorations.

AFG - A Fresh Goal: Revised Mission, New Poster By Karen Hranek

Would you consider Upper Merion to be one of the top schools in the country? It may soon be. This year, faculty and staff at the high school have been working hard to set goals and create action plans that will make Upper Merion an even better place through the Accreditation for Growth (AFG) process. You may have noticed the new UM posters, which display our new mission statement, hanging up around the building, but the mission statement and the new posters are just part of a much larger process. The new mission statement reads, “The mission of UMAHS, a challenging, diverse, caring learning community, is to inspire excellence in every student by fostering lifelong learners who recognize and achieve

their fullest potential.” Mrs. Ebersole, a leading player in Upper Merion’s AFG committee, helped to revise the statement. “The new mission statement will add more direction to the district mission statement by highlighting the values of our school,” she says. It will guide our school towards becoming a strong academic environment that colleges will recognize as appropriately vigorous, giving an Upper Merion diploma more value in post-secondary establishments. Other objectives of the AFG include the improvement of student reading comprehension scores, increased student placement into respectable colleges and post-secondary careers, and student demonstration of integrity and responsibility.

The AFG is a plan that isn’t exclusive to this year; it sets a program for the future. In November of next year, representatives from a “Validation Team” will visit our school to observe the learning environment. Over the next seven years, we will continue monitoring our school’s growth and implementing “action plans” to achieve AFG’s objectives. After seven years’ time, the process repeats and a Validation Team again evaluates our school. The AFG will have more information available on Upper Merion’s website soon. For additional details, you can contact internal coordinators Mr. Vreeland, Dr. Hoy, and Mrs. Ebersole.


Musical Theater Spolight The Upper Merion Area High School Underground Players Present Pippin

Pippin Plays Perfect By Karishma Purswani

The audience was on its feet after Upper Merion’s Underground Players took their final bows after proudly presenting Pippin, “a play within a play.” The cast of Pippin delivered an outstanding performance from the moment the musical began. Pippin was filled with light pop music, magic and soft-shoe dances. Almost all leading actors and actresses in the musical were well fitted for their roles and showed no signs of nervousness throughout the musical. Steven Burke, who played the role of an eccentric character, Pippin, had a thoroughly naïve yet an eager, intelligent and observant personality. His expressive voice throughout the play projected Pippin’s inner aspiration and gave a reflective quality to his character. One of best musical numbers he performed was the “Corner of the Sky,” in which Steven had the whole stage to himself. This solo performance expressed the soul of Pippin, projecting every single word in the lyrics with strong emotions coming straight from his heart, along with perfect tune and voice quality. Similarly, Gwynne Richmond gave a brilliant performance, playing the exuberant and cheerful Leading Player, performing huge dance numbers and magic tricks. She moved around the stage quickly yet very gracefully, vitalizing every single step and at times using every single muscle in her body from the top of her head to the bottom of her toes, to completely engage the audience. The actors’ hands and hips portrayed unique

roles separate from the rest of the bodies, as they captivated most of the attention during the dances in the musical. Throughout the whole musical almost all the actors and actresses wore white gloves to enhance the mesmerizing and whimsical dance moves, as they smoothly moved all fingers and hands. The cast surely seemed well rehearsed and synchronized while performing the dances. One could really notice the sharp and definite steps in which every part of the body moved precisely and all at the same time, engrossing the audience’s interest. All the transitions of the set and props in the course of scenes remained polished and unnoticeable. The lights and projections clearly highlighted all parts of the stage along with the sinuous, edgy, and vibrant colored costumes worn by the actors and actresses. The story of Pippin revolves King Charles’s oldest son, Pippin, a prince who longs to discover the secret of true happiness and achievement of something desired. He tries everything from fighting on the battlefield to political power, but nothing seems to work. Finally, even after the opposition of the rest of the town, Pippin finds his true love, and realizes that the only aspects of life which fulfill him are the simple pleasures of home and family. In the end, after all the vigor and energy, we really get to know how paper-thin Pippin’s ultimate message was and that’s what made this musical a classic. Hats off to all the directors, cast and crew, and members of the Pit for such a dazzling performance.

Singing All the Way to the Top By Colleen Sullivan

After months of practice, endless auditions, and festival after festival, Evan Rieger has moved onto the All-State PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Festival. This PMEA year, Evan will be performing at Hershey for the festival with the best of the best. He is the only student from the Upper Merion Choir to move onto states, performing “college level material,” according to Brian Horoho, the Upper Merion Choral Director. Evan started out at the District 11 auditions for Bucks and Montgomery County choirs, which were held here at Upper Merion Area High School this year. There he participated in the blind a u d i t i o n s Evan is “the only w h e r e students came in with their student from the m u s i c Upper Merion played or pieces and sang to the of Choir to move backs the judges. W h e n onto states” asked about whether he was nervous for the auditions, E v a n replied, “After the first audition [for districts], I became used to the whole process, it was easier after that.” And it must have been, for from there, Evan breezed through Regionals, which adds students from Chester and Delaware Counties to the mix, and finally sang his way into the All State choir. Although Evan’s selection for All-State Choir proves his great talent as a singer, he didn’t join until his sophomore year., “Now that I am in it, I really enjoy it,” he said. Evan’s activity in Advanced Choir and his involvement with the PMEA Choir has made Evan decide that he “may major in music in college”.

Top: Sophomore Steven Burke prepares for his role as Pippin. Bottom: Seniors Ed Brosz and Alec Maksymowych worked diligently as part of the crew Photos by Rachel Berman.

Lady Gaga Apes Madonna? In this Case, It’s “Monkey See, Monkey Don’t” By Nir Shtuhl

Musicians have always been accused of stealing other musicians’ work. It’s happened since the Stone Age, when Grog first heard Klob play a beautiful melody on the chicken xylophone and decided that he had written it first. Klob got angry and said that no, it was his original composition, and the first musical rivalry was born--similar to that of The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones. It is a common story with the only difference being the players. These days though, it’s Madonna vs. Lady Gaga, Coldplay vs. Joe Satriani, and Coldplay vs. The Super Mario Bros. Theme. As an avid music listener and comparer, I am tired of these ridiculous accusations of musical theft. I have heard the songs and the supposedly copied songs, and musically they do not match up. There just aren’t enough similarities to call any of the artists out for stealing. My guess is that many people are hearing what they want to here. Perhaps they read on the the internet or hear from a friend that Lady Gaga ripped off Madonna or Joe Satriani and this makes them “hear”

similarities that aren’t really there. Even if everyone in the world were to agree that Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” copied Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” there lies a noticeable flaw in this conclusion: Would Lady Gaga, a woman who was smart enough to make herself into an international diva in the music industry, be ignorant enough to steal from Madonna? And while Lady Gaga is getting attention, why isn’t Katy Perry under fire for “California Gurls,” whose verses’ groove sounds exactly like Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok”? Does no one think that Ke$ha deserves credit? Maybe people just don’t like her enough. They are willing to feel bad for the homegrown Madonna, but not the autotuned Ke$ha. All in all, the issue of artists stealing other artists’ music shouldn’t be a big problem. Don’t worry about it; someone will always find a way to compare his or her favorite classic song to one that is currently on the radio. Artists are inspired by one another and learn from one another, but calling it “stealing” goes too far.

Evan Rieger. Photo by Steven Burke.

Capri Sun: Respect the Dress! By Lizzie Furino

Everyone remembers enjoying Capri Sun drinks as a child; they were sweet and cool and, afterwards, you could play with the empty pouch. They could be made into pretend cell phones or filled with air to appear full. Clever, eh? But now, the possibilities extend much further: In a global effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle, the emptied pouches are often used to make totes and wallets. Here at Upper Merion though, students Melanie Sweeney and Trish Perez took it to the next level making a Capri Sun dress. The girls were given this assignment by their costume design teacher, Mrs. Clifton, who “decided to do some [projects about] going green.” Trish and Melanie quickly jumped right in, taking inspiration from Lady Gaga. To start, Melanie explains, they “took a pattern of a regular prom dress and shortened it.” They made that out of a black “PVC material, which is like fake leather, so it’s kind of shiny.” Next, they constructed the fashionably asymmetrical straps with the Capri Sun pouches. The creativity doesn’t stop there. They also created a stunning belt piece that really resembles something Lady Gaga would wear. This may sound simple, but in reality it took them around two weeks and required anywhere from 60 to 100 pouches,

Mrs. Clifton recalls. With only finishing touches left, the dress is completely wearable and fits Trish perfectly. After completing this assignment, the girls were eager to begin their next project. For this, Mrs. Clifton handed “them men’s neck ties and said [to them] ‘start picking and continue your costume line.’” If given the opportunity, Melanie expresses how she would love to make a candy dress and would “probably make a Reese’s cup dress, like Christian Siriano did.” Despite the girls’ clear talent for sewing and fashion design, neither is pursuing a career in the industry. Melanie would like to teach English in Japan while Trish is considering the nursing field. She says that she likes “drawing different outfits, and just making them. For now [she’d] just rather have fun doing it.” Even though a career in fashion may not be their end goal, Melanie and Trish enjoy their costume design class and the innovative projects they’re working on. Next time you go to throw out a Capri Sun pouch, tie, candy wrapper, or anything else you think is trash, consider recycling and transforming them into a fabulous piece of clothing.

UM’s Arts Magazine Coming in the Spring



Lady Vikings Defeat Harriton Before Falling to Nazareth By Dan Yarnall and Mike Shannon

Some District swimmers (from left to right): Taylor Mateja, Courtenay Willcox, Heather Krick, and Taylor Jacobs. Photo by Michaela Kiczula.

Life in the Fast Lane: UM Swimmers Break Records at Districts; Three Swim at States By Steph Palmer

Each spring, the swim team flaunts rebellious hairstyles of weird colors, odd cuts, or simply no hair at all as they prepare for the District competition. This year was no different. Jason Lamoreaux, for example, dyed his hair electric blonde, while his teammates dabbled with other popping colors including blue and green. As an extra step before Districts, he, along with the other swimmers, Zak Elarbi; Nick Eppinger; Peter Soll; Kevin Soong; Kyle Greene; and Will Stevens, decided to cut their hair in an arrow to resemble Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. And it seemed to work, for on March 4 and 5 at the District I Meet, the Viking swim team came up big, grabbing seventh place for the girls’ and fifth place for the boys’, with every UM competitor finishing in the top eight, earning them All-District Honors. Further, UM set five new school records and sent three swimmers, Jason Lamoreaux, Taylor Mateja, and Courtenay Willcox, onto the State Championships at Bucknell University.

Senior Courtenay Willcox broke not one but two school records– one each in the 200- and 500-freestyle. Before these triumphs, Courtenay expressed her “Senior thoughts on Districts: “This meet is really important to Courtenay me because Willcox broke it is my last districts and possibly my not one but meet.” As fate, last swim or rather, her undying two school m o t i v at i o n , would have it, records” she achieved far more than this by snagging a spot in the State competition. And Willcox was not the only dominating Viking. Junior Taylor Mateja also set a few new records. Mateja placed fifth in the 200 Individual Medley and second in the 100-backstroke, breaking school records

in both and setting another record in the 50-freestyle. At the State meet on March 16 and 17, Mateja competed in the 200 Individual Medley and 100-backstroke, earning All-State Honors for her topeight finish and breaking her own school record in the 100-backstroke with a time of 59.54 seconds. Willcox swam the 200-freestyle and 500-freestyle, and gained a spot in the consolation finals. She earned All-State Honorable Mention in the 500-freestyle. Lamoreaux earned similar bragging rights, clinching 24th in the 500-freestyle. The coaches were more than proud of their swimmers’ performances. “Everyone did amazing,” said Ms. Peterka, “Wherever they started, they either stayed in that place or improved.” The students of Upper Merion, along with faculty, parents, siblings, any community member, commend these athletes for representing the Viking family so boldly and victoriously.

February 23, 2011 The expressions on Coach Tom Schurtz’s face alone throughout the game could tell the story of how the Upper Merion Lady Vikings were outplaying the Harriton Lady Rams. It was the first round of the playoffs, and fans were anxious to see how their team would play. Once Jackie Van Loan scored the first points for the Lady Vikings, the fans were hooked. As the girls surged with adrenaline, so too did their Viking family in the stands. The first quarter was powerful, to say the least, and the momentum continued in Upper Merion’s favor for the second quarter. Though guard Kristina O’Sullivan, a sophomore, endured a thunderous collision with a Lady Ram, she was rewarded for taking the charge, giving the Lady Vikings’ possession. On that account, the Lady Vikings maintained their control of the game, leaving the score 24-9 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Lady Rams found a pulse and began to fight back; however, it was difficult for them to gain much footing with junior Cassidy Koenig dropping three pointers all evening long. After a few of these successful shots, Coach Schurtz cheered as his team defeated 43-33 over the Harriton Lady Rams. In the end, the Lady Vikings’ success was the result of each player’s unique skills and personal contributions to the plays of the game. On February 25 as a result of the win over Harriton, the Lady Vikings advanced to the next round of playoffs as the seventh seed. The team had a hard challenge ahead of them as they headed to Holy Ghost Prep (a neutral site) to take on the second seeded Nazareth Lady Pandas. “All I can do is ask that you play as hard as you can when you are in the game. Whatever you contribute could be the difference in the game,” Coach Schurtz explained to his players. Cassidy Koenig also had a few pointers to contribute because she had played with some of the girls on the Nazareth team” And thus the game began. The Lady Vikings jumped out to an early lead, bringing the score up nine to five with a huge play by Jackie Van Loan and Kristina O’Sullivan. In the first quarter, the Lady Pandas closely guarded Koenig to avert her threepoint bombs, but Van Loan and O’Sullivan maintained the pressure in their connections from the top of the key to down low. Upper Merion continued their dominating presence into the second quarter, as Nazareth could not find an answer for the Vikings’ sturdy defense. By the end of the first half, the scoreboard flaunted UM’s lead of 19 over Nazareth’s 11. At the start of the second half, Upper Merion knew that they needed to step up their defense to prevent any type of comeback from Nazareth. Unfortunately, the Lady Pandas returned with a newfound energy, and took advantage of holes in the Viking defense while banking three-pointers. The approach of the fourth quarter left the Vikings with only a three-point lead at 26-23. The Lady Pandas proceeded to crash the floor to increase their lead over UM until the game got out of reach with about a minute left. At this point, Coach Schurtz called his final timeout of the season to put in the seniors: Jamie Mazzi, Sam Binck, and Carrie Davidson. The Lady Pandas ran the clock out on Upper Merion’s season to end the game with a score of 42-31. Although the season ended differently from what the ladies had hoped for, they hold high expectations for next year as four out of the five starters return. These experienced veterans will also be joined by new prospects from the middle school. With these combined forces, the team aims to earn some hardware next year.

Crew Team Looking to Rebuild By Mitchell Derby

From left to right: Christina Stewart, Naim Cheeseboro, and Brooke Spence. Photos by Dana Wright and Michaela Kiczula.

Three Viking Athletes Earn College Scholarships By Bernadette Koff

We have all been told, “Follow your dreams” and “Work hard at what you enjoy doing,” but Naim Cheeseboro, Brooke Spence, and Christina Stewart have all done just that, and it has paid off big for them. Each one has been accepted and offered money to attend college in the fall in order to participate in the sport that they love. Naim Cheeseboro was accepted to attend Stony Brook University in New York, on a full football scholarship. Cheesboro feels that Stony Brook is a great fit for him, and says, “I have worked hard for and wanted to accomplish in my life. There is nothing like


going to college for four years and not paying a penny.” Senior Christina Stewart will be attending Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, next fall. She will be a thrower for shot put, discus, javelin, hammer, and weight on their track team. Shot put is her best event at Upper Merion, but she will also be throwing hammer and weight throw for the University, and she does not compete in those events at the high school level. She accepted Rider’s offer because she felt that the university felt like an excellent fit. “They are also a Division I school,” Stewart says, “which was crucial to my decision. Division I schools offer the best athletic programs, with the most recognition for work. I also

think that they have a wonderful coach, who knows what he is doing.” Brooke Spence is also weighing an offer from La Salle University in Philadelphia for crew. Brooke has not yet decided where she would like to attend school next year, because she is still waiting on admission to Temple University and Drexel University, along with the scholarship money she could receive from those schools. As these three athletes can attest, working hard at what you want to achieve is an important commitment that can pay off generously. We wish them the best of luck in all their future plans.

With the advent of spring-like weather, many Upper Merion athletes begin training for the upcoming spring sports season. The UMAHS Crew team is no different. Despite losing many would-be seniors this year, the team has a positive outlook and is expecting a great season. Currently the team has about twenty student athletes and room for growth. The team encourages students to consider rowing because “Rowing is a sport that everyone can do; there are positions and opportunities of every athletic level, and skill is not a prerequisite” explains Robert McLaughlin. Students who are looking for “a sport that everyone can do” should consider the Crew team, which will be accepting rowers all year long. Last year, Upper Merion’s crew team took home gold in the Doc White Regatta after 5 promising freshman won the Men’s Novice 4 finals. This was the boys’ last race of the season and they beat out many tough schools, including St. Joseph’s prep, to become the fastest Men’s Novice 4 in the Philadelphia region. The winning boat was comprised of Tyler Painter – Stroke, Kyle Greene – 3 seat, Rob McLaughlin – 2 seat, Natal Vidal – Bow and Taylor Buce – Coxswain. The Women’s JV 4 also had great success last year and made it to SRA Nationals in Sarasota Springs, NY. Despite the loss of some of its seniors, UM Crew is looking at this season with optimism. With hard work and determination, they are hoping to be able to make it just as far as they did last season. Best of luck UM rowers!

Photo by Flickr user somethingstartedcrazy.


Photo by Flickr user Bruce Stenberg.

Goodbye Mittens, Hello Baseball Gloves

Upper Merion Baseball Sets Sights on District Title

Despite the wintry weather—snowstorms and hail attacks, sleet and freezing winds—spring Phever is blooming, and the Phillies are back. The pitchers and catchers of several teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as a few of their National League opponents, like the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, kicked off spring training on February 13 and began their 2011 season on March 31. As they woke from their various forms of hibernation, players gradually arrived for practice, and by February 22, all Major-League teams were back on the field. Thus began the new season. To some, it was the onset of spring, but to many, it was the return of baseball. Fans celebrated the revival of America’s pastime via the media, or, in the best of circumstances, in Clearwater, Florida, with the players themselves. The inception of spring training dates back to as early as 1870, though it was not until the 1900s that this offseason practice became a ritual of Major League Baseball. This tradition was not, however, limited to simply the conditioning players or brainstorming managers; to this day, it signifies a “save-the-date” entry on the calendars of baseball supporters across the country. Ms. Dell’Elmo, a Social Studies teacher, says that she has “watched a few of the games,” which continued throughout the month of March. Indeed, Philadelphia Phillies fanatics have much to anticipate in the upcoming season. The headliner of the season rejoined the roster as an unexpected but highly regarded addition: welcome back Cliff Lee, who successfully pitched his first regular season game on April 2. The Phillies won that game 9-4. Needless to say, the generally reliable collaboration of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt, commonly referred to as the “Big 3” or H2O, is now solidly complete. Senior Maryam Elarbi agrees, “The Phillies are so stacked that you cannot rule out the possibility of them making it far, possibly (and hopefully) to the World Series again. It will be challenging without Jayson Werth, but getting Cliff Lee back is HUGE.” So, although the absence of Werth is slightly disconcerting, the sour feelings— and female heartbreaks— resultant of his leave are alleviated by the rousing return of Lee to the City of Brotherly Love. In addition to the updated pitching rotation, and aside from Chase Utley’s knee complications, the team is emerging with a healthy stride. Though, as Ms. Dell’Elmo points out, “Our starting line-up is getting older. It’s not a rebuilding year; the players have endured some wear-and-tear, so I’m a bit worried about their batting. But (of course) I still consider them top contenders.” The Phillies began their official season on April Fools’ Day, an appropriate date for such a lighthearted and exciting affair, defeating the Houston Astros 5-4. Perhaps this is a sign that, in accordance with previous events – mainly, the 1993 season – the Phillies will make another World Series appearance. Cross your fingers.

Get ready, everyone, because Upper Merion Baseball is making a comeback this season. Despite graduating twelve seniors last spring, UM’s Viking baseball teamis optimistic about its 2011 season. The team had a 10-8 record last spring but suffered a loss in the first game of the playoffs. Coach Jason Darnell says, “We have ten seniors this year. So the experience is there, especially since most seniors have been in our program for four years.” Teamwork is forefront in the minds of our players, who hope unity and sportsmanship will be the key to a successful season. “It is important to me to remain positive and focused on our own efforts during games,” remarked Darnell, “and to that end I foster and encourage an atmosphere of sportsmanship and respect.” So far, this seems to have rubbed off on the team. Senior Kyle Gaffney says, “Coach Darnell wants[the sportsmanship award] given to his team at the conclusion of the season. We’re going to do everything in our power to get that award.” “Last year we started to focus too much on personal stats and that affected our play on the field,” says senior Alex Clark, “Winning this year will be a team effort.” “For once, we look and live as a whole,” adds Gaffney. A District I title is the main target for this spring. Darnell says, “The baseball team looks very promising this year. I believe that we have enough talent to be competitive within our league, and we all believe that a District Championship is an attainable goal.” Clark agrees. “The reason we work hard in March and April is to get to win the championship in May,” he says. For now, the team is putting their nose to the grindstone. Gaffney, Clark and their teammates have their eye on the prize. Gaffney says, “No matter what it takes I want to win. [I want to] put Upper Merion Baseball on the map again.”

By Ali Swider

Top Row (left to rgight): Sam Binck, Carrie Davidson, Amanda McAteer. Second Row (left to right): Kristina O’Sullivan, Jackie VanLoan, Nicole Priest. Bottom: Mary Jean Valeri. Photo by Dana Wright.

UM Has a Competitive Edge By Ashley Soulchin

On March 9th, students of all grades got the chance to participate in some friendly athletic competition at King of Prussia’s Competitive Edge thanks to the junior class and especially, junior class president, Jackie Van Loan. The evening included games of volleyball, basketball, and ultimate frisbee. Fourteen teams each played two games of basketball, two games of volleyball, and one game of ultimate Frisbee. The top two teams played in a final round, which consisted of a five minute round of each game. “I think students liked the variety of sports offered in one evening,” explained Mrs. Ebersole, one of the junior class sponsors. “It was great to see some students excel in one sport even though they struggled in another. With eight people on a team, students were able to highlight their players’ strengths in many ways.” Van Loan described that

she loved, “playing with [her] friends from the basketball squad and making memories that will last forever.” Mrs. Ebersole said that her highlight was, “seeing so many students having a great time. There were close to 100 students participating and nine faculty members refereeing and keeping score.” Mrs. Ebersole also commends Mr. Reagan for all the work he did, which helped make the night possible. Though all teams fought hard and had a great night, at the end of the day Team Beth Ann won it all. This team included juniors Dallas Chesky, Cassidy Koenig, Jenny Desimone, sophomores Danielle Sanfelice, Jake Keszczyk and senior Ryan McGee. The winners received gift cards, WaWa coupons, and trophies. Way to live on the competitive edge UM!

By Elissa Salamy

The team warms up. Photo by Greg Alfaro.


PRIDE ~ WEEK Organized by Malik Elarbi

Thanks for Reading

The Viking Call & Remember...

Evening Events Wednesday, April 13th:

NHS & Interact Club Dodgeball Tournament 6:30pm in the Gym

THEMED DAYS: What to Wear

Thurday, April 14th:

Thurday, April 14th: “It’s Getting Hot in Here.”

Senior Documentary for Alec Maksymowych’s SGP 6:00pm in the Auditorium Free Admission Senior-Staff Basketball Game for Ryan McGee’s SGP 7:30pm in the Gym $3.00 Admission

www. vikingcall. com

Friday, April 15th: “Braving the Elements.”

Wear your “60 Elements” Shirt or Navy Blue.

Proceeds go to Jimmy V. Foundation for Bone Cancer Research


We’ve gone digital! All your favorite Viking Call articles are now available online at

Wear your SUPERFAN Shirt or Black.

All juniors & seniors on the fields after lunch for Moe Shendge’s SGP Closing Ceremonies for Pride Week All grades at the stadium Mrs. Puskar Continued from page 3

Q: What would you say was your worst high school moment, either as a faculty member or as a student? A: 9/11. That has to be the hardest one in this period of my life. But I was proud because everyone in the school came together like a family. Q: What was your best high school moment? A: Graduation Day. Back then we graduated across the football field. After that I started a whole new world. Q: What is most different about Upper Merion then and Upper Merion now? A: First thing that comes to mind is that smoking was a big thing back then, and everywhere you went you saw kids and teachers smoking. The new technology is also a huge difference; it changed everything. I myself got a cell phone pretty late. The family forced me to get one in October 2003 after I had a heart attack. I still don’t know how to text, but I don’t care. Q: Why did you decide to come back and work at Upper Merion? A: I knew I would be so good at this job. I love the kids. I like being involved with them, and I want to try to stay active and young. Even though I wasn’t as active when I was younger, I understand now what I was missing out on.

The Viking Call EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Amanda Grace Managing Editor: Tamerah Slaughter Web Editor: Mounika Muttineni ADVISER Jenny Williams NEWS CallieRosenfeld*,MaryamElarbi, Sabrina Carroll, Pamela Vega, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NirShtuhl*,DanOates,Karishma Purswani SPORTS AshleySoulchin*,AliSwider*,Elissa Salamy,StephPalmer,Bernadette Koff OPINION EDITORIAL Tamerah Slaughter*, Abbie Demcher, Sarah Howell, STUDENT LIFE KarenHranek*,ErinVenable*,Paige Mitchell,LizzieFurino,ErinCondiff,

Courtney Smith PHOTOGRAPHERS Greg Alfaro*, Michaela Kiczula*, Pooja Parekh, Dana Wright LAYOUT Sara Symoczko* WEB MASTER David Galban INTEGRITY EDITOR Elissa Salamy BUSINESS MANAGERS Callie Rosenfeld, Powell Davis 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

Viking Call Spring 2011 Issue  

Viking Call April 2011

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