Page 1

inside 11

Common Sense

LADY BALLERS: Led by juniors Welch and Flinchum, the girls’ basketball team looks to improve on last year’s second-round playoff exit.


YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND: These disc-jockeying students know how to get a party started.


WORK HARD, PLAY HARD: Team building activities are meant to enhance team chemistry. But do these activities ever go too far?


CANADA, EH?: Students plan annual trip for skiing and snowboarding on chilly Canadian slopes.

inside 22

inside 7


inside 4

Volume 39 Issue 3 - Thomas S. Wootton High School - 2100 Wootton Parkway - Rockville, MD 20850 - December 9, 2009

Local mosque feels sting of FBI scrutiny Drew Endick & Azzah Ahmed editor-in-chief & managing editor On Thursday, Nov. 13, the Islamic Education Center (IEC) located on Montrose Road in Potomac, was one of several properties whose financial assets were frozen as part of an ongoing federal investigation on the New York City-run Alavi Foundation. The local mosque, K-12 school and charitable and medical center serves for a community of Shia Muslims who are predominately first or second generation United States citizens originally from Iran. IEC, run by resident Alim and expert in Islamic

Students and Coach Malling resigns staff address After five seasons, Malling cites football program’s need for change marijuana use Emily Burklow & Eleni Kessler managing editors

see MOSQUE, page 5

Students prepare for annual POTH event Aleks Timrots staff writer On Thursday, Dec. 10, Senior Planning will host Puttin’ on the Hitz (POTH) to entertain students, staff, and the Wootton community. POTH is an annual fun-filled night of dancing and lip-synching acts. Each year, POTH has a specific theme. Examples of past themes include Thursday Night Fever and Wootton’s Best Dance Crew. “The majority of Senior Planning voted on True Life: I’m Addicted to Lip-synching, or some variation of that,” Senior Planning member Jessie Rubin said. All students at the school can participate in POTH. This year one band, 11 individual acts, four class acts, the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Woottonettes will perform. All of the individual acts perform during the first half of the show, and the class see POTH, page 5

photo courtesy of Debbie Dillon

CoachGregMallingtookoverthePatriotsfootballprograminthefallof2005.Whileheadcoach,heledthe Pats to their first playoff appearance since 1991. The future of his coaching career is still unclear.

Ilana Avergun editor-in-chief Mr. Gregory Malling announced his resignation from his position as Wootton’s head football coach on Nov. 5. He has held the position for the last five years and has been the main force behind the revitalization of the football program since he took it over in 2005. He is uncertain as to what his

next career move will be. Prior to his arrival, the Patriots had not ended a season with a winning record in over ten years. Malling’s new leadership propelled Wootton to not only a successful season in 2008, but also their first playoff berth since 1991. “Coach Malling has turned Wootton into a legitimate football program in Montsee MALLING, page 14

The weekend after Halloween last year, senior Andy* decided to smoke marijuana for the first time. Many of his friends had already tried smoking, and he was looking for a new way to have fun. The first time he smoked, he did not foresee himself using the drug again. “[Smoking marijuana] was a one-time thing,” Andy said. “I wasn’t planning on doing it more than once.” After his initial encounter, Andy began to use marijuana on a more regular basis, sometimes more than once a week. For a period of time, he sold marijuana to his friends, but eventually, he stopped distributing the substance. “I thought I was too close to getting caught,” Andy said. For some high school students, the fear of being discovered in possession of an illegal substance is outweighed by the potential pleasure from marijuana. According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 38.1% of American high school students have tried marijuana at least once in their lives. This school year, multiple students have been caught by authorities in possession or under the influence of marijuana. Security guard Gregg Melvin feels there is a definite presence of the drug at Wootton. “I would say [marijuana use at Wootton] is just like any other high school in Montgomery County,” Melvin said. “I don’t think the problem has gone up.” When he finds that a student has been abusing the substance, he says he treats see MARIJUANA, page 21

Senior Jessie Rubin runs her way to national meet and a college education at Duke

Will Browning distribution manager

Competing as the only girl from Montgomery County, senior Jessie Rubin finished 42nd out of 199 runners at the Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday, Dec. 5 in Portland, Oregon. The Nike Cross Nationals is compromised of the best boys’ and girls’ cross country runners from around the country. Each runner has to get through a preliminary stage — competing with other runners from their area in a regional qualifying meet. Rubin finished in seventh place in the Nike Southeast Region Championship race, qualifying for nationals. “It was one of the best days of my life,” Rubin said. “I was on a runner’s high and was so pumped from the race.” Rubin was named the Gazette’s Girls’ Runner of the Year for cross country, an illustrious finish to her career at Wootton.

Rubin competed against 116 other runners from the southeast area in the 5K Regional championship race Nov. 28, held in Cary, North Carolina. Rubin performed better than she had throughout an undefeated Montgomery County season. “I’ve never faced such elite competition, but I’m so lucky to get this opportunity,” Rubin said. Rubin came into the meet unsure about how she would finish, but as the race progressed, she gained more confidence. After hanging with the leaders of the race throughout the first mile, Rubin dropped back slightly during the second mile. Nevertheless, as the race came to its final leg, she proceeded to move into seventh place – good enough for a spot in Oregon and a personal best time of 18 minutes, 5 seconds. “[Senior] Andrea Maxwell and I both pushed each other, running together to prepare for this race,” Rubin said. “But the real hard training was done earlier in the

season – that’s how I’ve been able to get to this position.” Maxwell finished a notable 39th in the regional race with a time of 18 minutes, 53 seconds and was an honorable mention selection on the All-Gazette girls’ cross country team. As her cross country season comes to a close, Jessie Rubin will go down as one of the greatest athletes in Wootton history, and this season is a testament to just how exceptional she has been. Finishing the regular season undefeated, Rubin settled for nothing less than first place in each race. “I’ve gained so much confidence and experience from all of this, Rubin said. “I can put everything I’ve learned to use in the next years in college and even above that.” Rubin will be attending Duke University next year and will run for their cross country team.

photo courtesy of Kevin Milsted

RubinracesintheNikeSoutheastRegionChampionshipinNorthCarolina.Shefinishedinseventhplace withatimethatqualifiedherfortheNikeCrossNationals,wheresheplaced42ndoutof199runners.



Common Sense - December 9 , 2009

Drives feed locals in need


‘Tistheseasonforcelebration.As winterbreakandthenewyearquickly approach,studentsarelookingforwardtotheirmuchneededvaction.

P.O.T .

H. Dec emb er 7 7p.m . - 10 p.m .

the e t bra embly e l e C ass s t Ar r 18 be

em Dec

Two simultaneous food drives seek to profit a local food bank in the area. Two different groups at Wootton are collecting canned food to benefit hungry families in Montgomery County. One of the food drives is being run by special education teacher Marjorie Kane. The proceeds of that drive, which lasts from Dec. 3 until Dec. 17, go to the Manna food center in Gaithersburg. This is the second themed food drive, where all of the proceeds will go to the Manna Food Bank, in Montgomery County. Last year the drive raised a total of 3,486 pounds of food. “I want to beat last year’s number and get more than 4,000 pounds,” Kane said. The cause is one that will directly go to Manna in order to support people under the poverty line in the county. Clients of Manna may pick up a 3-5 day supply of food every 30 days at one of Manna’s many distribution locations. The LFI (Learning for Independence) students also take the time to help with the drive. “The students help pass out flyers as well as [staple] the flyers onto bags,” Kane said. “If you’re fortunate enough you should give back.” The second of the two food drives is being run by Wootton’s Rotary Club to help people in the county. The proceeds of that food drive

go to the Manna food center as well. Rotary is a worldwide organization that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. “We are really proud of all the support we got from the students and teachers,” Rotary Club treasurer Paxton Misra said. Students are able to donate food in the bags that are in all the English classrooms in the building. The class that donates the most food wins a doughnut party. “It is really fun. All of the kids become competitive, and even if we don’t win [the food] still goes to a great cause,” English teacher Ms. Barbara Gatewood said. “The [food] drive does more than send money to organizations,” Principal Dr. Michael Doran said. “People don’t realize that there are families right in our area that are in need of food.” “[Donating food] is a great opportunity for everyone in school to help people within our own community that really need it,” junior Josh Evans said. “It’s the easiest thing people can to do help out.” Maryland’s 7.8 percent poverty in 2008 rate has increased to 8.3 percent in 2009. In Montgomery County alone there are an estimated 918,881 people below the poverty line. That is an estimated five percent of the people in the county who are below the poverty line. “This is a great cause, because it is a way to help people who really need it,” freshman Rebecca Jahnke

Jessica Ding news editor Senior Sonya Davey was recently recognized as a semifinalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. The Siemens Competition is a not-forprofit corporation devoted to rewarding students who have achieved a comprehensive understanding in science, math and technology, with college scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. “I was so happy when I found out I was a semifinalist. I didn’t think I had a chance because there were so many participants. I was so surprised,” Davey said. Students participating in the competition must write a research report demonstrating intensive research in a field of Math, Science, or Technology. Davey wrote her research paper on parasites. Davey has shown extensive knowledge in the field of science through both her rigorous school courses, which include AP Physics, AP Chemistry, and AP Biology, as well as her internship experience at the National Institute of Health. Davey hopes to major in Biophysics, and would like to be a lawyer or professor when she grows up.

photo by Jessica Ding


Civic Hands club to host charity masquerade ball



Bre ak Dec . 24 Jan uar thru y4

Ali Schumacher staff writer


lM oo

George Ewald staff writer

Senior excels in math and science contest

c usi


:30 A 7 D AI 7-9 @ 2:00 . Jan . 10 @ Jan

INSIDE >> Common Sense News............................................................................1-5 Op-Ed............................................................................6-7 Billboard.......................................................................8-9 Sports............................................................10-11, 14-16 Commons..................................................................12-13 Nonsense.......................................................................17 Arts...........................................................................18-19 Features....................................................................20-24

Civic Hands, a club created this year by senior Alyssa Feldstein, will hold a masquerade ball on Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 at Wootton in order to raise awareness about domestic illiteracy. The philanthropic organization centers on helping students understand different problems occurring in the world today. “I formed this club primarily to promote knowledge and change for problems affecting the globe,” Feldstein said. “I wanted people to come away from the meetings having felt like they understood problems and solutions.” Civic Hands focuses on both advocacy and implementation. While especially devoted to raising awareness about issues in the community, club members create methods to actively combat social problems in accordance to the Civic Hands mission statement. “This club is very different than other community service clubs because it focuses on current important issues around the world,” senior club member Samantha Marshall said. Currently, the club consists of about 20 members, with Feldstein as President, senior Sarah Abutaleb as Vice President and anatomy teacher Mr. Jacob Buxton as the club sponsor. “We want to do something unique that will get the attention of the student body while they enjoy themselves at a social event.” Feldstein said. The ball is primarily a culmination

photo by Vivian Chen

Alyssa Feldstein discusses plans for the Civic Hand’s masquerade ball, which is on Jan. 15.

of these ideas, including its main focus of domestic illiteracy. Club members all thought that literacy was a significant global issue. “We are relying on word of mouth and want Wootton students to bring their friends, whether they are from Wootton or elsewhere,” Feldstein said. The ball is open to any Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) student or Wootton guest. It will not be advertised at other schools. Civic Hands does recognize a few problems with the idea of the ball. Members expressed concern about the expected number of male attendees as well as supporting the costs. Rather than paying for tickets with money, the club wants students to donate books for the Invisible Children foundation. As part of their “Schools for Schools” program, the charity foundation is asking for book

donations for Ugandan schools, which were created to prevent students from being recruited into the Ugandan Army. Three books will be equivalent to one ticket to the ball. “When we all join together for a cause, we’ll make the biggest difference in another person’s way of life,” senior member Briana Rotello said. While this event focuses on domestic illiteracy, they also want to plan a fundraiser on a relevant issue. “We also really want to do one major event in the spring – Lose The Shoes Tournament to Kick AIDS,” Feldstein said. The Lose the Shoes event is a barefoot soccer tournament in conjunction with David Beckham’s Grassroot Soccer Foundation. “I like that our club does something local which can help areas around the world,” Rotello said. Despite its limited publicity, Civic Hands is optimistic about the growth of their club and the success of their planned charitable actions in the future, especially their masquerade ball. “I have great trust in Alyssa, and I think she has the ability to lead significant projects such as these,” Buxton said. “I like that club members choose particular causes that are current in the world, and important to them.” Look for more information in the upcoming weeks about the masquerade ball and how to obtain a ticket. Flyers will be hung around the school and announcements will be posted. “This is a unique chance to directly affect a child’s future,” Feldstein said.



Common Sense - December 9 , 2009

AP Lang. classes visit art museum

Speaker addresses LGBT issues

Lexi Pace staff writer On Nov. 3 and 10 the humanities sections of the 11th grade AP Language and Composition (AP Lang.) classes traveled to Washington, D.C. to explore visual rhetoric at the National Gallery of Art. A cornerstone of the AP Lang. curriculum involves deciphering effective methods of rhetoric, but is typically confined to texts that can be studied within the classroom. This field trip afforded the students and teachers alike the opportunity to study a new, less common form of rhetoric—that which is expressed through artwork, particularly paintings. “The students were able to see paint as an argument,” AP Lang. teacher Ms. Barbara Gatewood said. “Visual rhetoric is an important part of the AP Lang. exam, as well as the humanities program.” The students recognize the importance of their visit to the National Gallery of Art and were glad to have the opportunity to advance their understanding of rhetoric. “We are lucky to have access to such a good resource that perfectly fits our unit on visual rhetoric,” junior Nick Kracov said. Junior Madison Averill agreed with Kracov, as she was very deeply moved by the cultural experience they were presented. “It was inspiring,” Averill said. “Being able to view all of the artistc pieces really opened my eyes to the profession of art. There is so much that an artist has to say.” The students were led through the gallery on a tour given by a museum employee, and were then able to walk around the museum to appreciate the various works on their own. They were offered the chance to talk about the paintings and hear others’ perceptions. The students were able to receive real direction from some of the more knowledgeable tour guides, which enriched their views. “It was nice that the students were able to talk

photo courtesy of Rebecca Kelly

APLangstudentsstoptotakeapicturewithAPLangteacher Ms.AnnetteEvansduringtheirfieldtriptotheNationalGallery of Art.

through what they saw with people who actually knew what they were seeing,” Gatewood said. “However, I do wish that the tours were more standardized. The tour that I was on was excellent, but I have heard that they were not all so informative.” It was an eye-opening experience for the students who have only completed one quarter of the AP Lang. curriculum. The AP Lang. curriculum in respect to writing is broken down into the three types of essays written: rhetorical analysis, free-response and synthesis essays. The students are currently most experienced with the rhetorical analysis, but have mostly become familiar with rhetoric in the form of essay prompts and studied speeches. “I got to see rhetoric in a different form that I hadn’t ever thought about before,” junior Rebecca Kelly said. The field trip, which was judged a success by the teachers and students equally, was not made available to all AP Lang. students. Only the humanities classes taught by Gatewood, Ms. Annette Evans and Ms. Catharine Ferguson were presented the opportunity to go. According to Gatewood, it took a lot of effort to get the trip approved, involving administrative approval and other various details. “It was a real process,” Gatewood said. “We each had to take care of a different part of the [trip approval]. I’m glad we did it though; I took a lot away from it.”

Daniel Moon business manager On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Vice President of Equality Maryland Dr. Dana Beyer was invited by the Wootton Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) to talk about her life stories and issues regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual,and transgender community (LGBT). Beyer’s visit was scheduled in conjunction with The Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed Nov. 20 and created in memory of the victims of anti-transgender hatred and violence. Previously an eye surgeon who traveled around various places in the United States, Africa and Asia, Beyer has been involved in issues such as sex education and human sexuality, and was formally the Vice President of the Maryland National Organization of Women (NOW). She is a nationally known advocate for gender rights. Beyer has also advocated for many progressive steps within the Montgomery County in areas such as banning trans-fats in the county, approving the Transgender Civil Rights Law and improving human rights. Now, she is campaigning for the Maryland state delegation. Spanish teacher Mr. Derrick Ryan has been the club’s sponsor for four years. He has been an activist for the LGBT community, and has been helping Beyer’s campaign by reaching out to the community in many ways, including sending letters to local newspapers. “She is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met,” Ryan said. Senior Dana Udwin, who has been a member of the GSA throughout high school, now runs the club as the president. “Dr. Beyer is so inspiring. It’s her passion and conviction that the situation will get better for everyone,” Udwin said. The GSA not only provides room for interaction, but is also a safe place for students who want to be themselves. They share the difficulties that some of them encounter for their sexual orientation and discuss ways to improve understanding between the LGBT and the straight community. The club is open to anyone who is interested in becoming a part of the club’s effort to bring awareness and celebrate diversity. “Come as you are. Strength is in our diversity,” Udwin said. As an active organization, students invite inspirational speakers and attend local and national events. On Oct. 11, the club joined the National Equality March in support of rights for the LGBT community. “Being different is something we all have in common,” Ryan said. Although he is glad that Montgomery County has taken progressive steps to bring equality, Ryan still believes that discrimination against LGBTs poses a serious danger. Ryan said that national high school bullying based on sexual orientation grew considerably last year, and that organizations like the GSA are fighting to protect the victims of the violence. In addition to activities inside school, the club also keeps in touch with other GSA Clubs in Montgomery County. Members of the GSA Club in Richard Montgomery High School were invited to come to listen to the speaker on Nov. 18.


Student volunteers reach out to wounded veterans

Social Studies Department Sponsors Toiletry Drive

Eleni Kessler & Emily Burklow managing editors

Bring unused toiletry items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap to social studies classes. Items will be donated to the Children’s Inn at NIH.

Senior Planning Collects Toys for Needy Children

Donate your gently used toys to the bags in English classrooms until Dec. 19. Toys will be donated to children through the Montgomery County Housing Opportunity Commission.

Candy Grams for Sale Through Next Week

Candy Grams are available for purchase for $1 during all lunches in the cafeteria this week and next week. Candy Grams will be delivered on Dec. 21-22. Proceeds go to Senior Planning.

Sheets for Streets Program Collects Clothing

Operation Fly and the Spanish Honors Society ask that students donate clothing and linens to the receptacles outside the Career Center to be donated to DC families through “Sheets for Streets.”

The Serving Our Soldiers Club paid a visit to wounded veterans in the recreational room at the Bethesda Naval hospital on Nov. 15. Club members served food and socialized with the soldiers and their families. The club makes frequent trips to the hospital in order to show their appreciation for the soldiers’ service and provide a free meal for them on the weekends. According to club president junior Robert Slatkin, the hospital provides meals for wounded warriors during the week. However, on the weekends the soldiers must pay for their own food. “Most people don’t realize that there is an issue--that the hospital doesn’t provide meals on the weekends,” club sponsor Ms. Jaclynn Rozansky said. Freshman club member Courtney Porise sees the emotional as well as financial impact the student visitors have in the clinic. “The soldiers are really grateful and thankful that we come to visit them and feed them,” Pories said. Students arrange for a different local restaurant to cater every time they visit. During this particular trip, Mamma Lucia donated food to the club. Since soldiers and their families are often living far away from home during rehabilitation, these visits also serve as a much needed morale boost. Some soldiers who do not have friends or family staying in the area value the companionship provided by the club members. “Many soldiers do not have many

people to talk to on the weekends,” Pories said. “They are very happy to see us.” The visits also emotionally impact students who attend the events. The stories that soldiers tell students leave a deep impression on students. “I feel so grateful when meeting the people who risk their lives for me,” Slatkin said. “It makes me feel lucky to live in the United States.” Slatkin’s sister, 2009 Wootton graduate Ally Slatkin, started the club when she was a junior. She approached Rozansky after having learned that hospital cafeterias are not open on weekends, and wanted to help the soldiers find free food on these days. When she graduated last year, her younger brother decided he would carry on her work. “My sister started the club two years ago and I wanted to continue what she started,” Slatkin said. He hopes to expand the club while serving as president. He wants to visit the hospital more frequently and recruit more students to join the club. Even though he does not know the soldiers personally, after the visit he feels a sincere bond with them. “When someone thinks about the war, they don’t really know how it affects the soldiers who fight,” Slatkin said. Visiting the troops causes the students to feel a individual connection to an otherwise distant war effort. Pories was also touched by her first visit to the hospital. Although she does admit that she was nervous before seeing the recovering veterans, Pories’ doubts were gone by the end of the outing. “At first I was scared [of meeting the

photo by Courtney Pories

ServingOurSoldiersmemberseatandconverseat their recent visit to Bethesda Naval Hospital.

soldiers],” Pories said. “But they were nice people, really good people.” Leaving the event, Pories felt a sense of fulfillment about her volunteering that day. “I felt good knowing that I brightened their day,” Pories said. She joined the club after seeing the booth at the activity expo in September. She felt spending time with wounded soldiers was not an opportunity most people have at such a young age. Even though the age difference between Pories and some of the soldiers is not very great, she was awestruck with their positive attitude in the face of severe obstacles. “These soldiers have experienced so much, and yet they are so hopeful,” Pories said. “It’s touching.” Slatkin realizes the significance of supporting the soldiers no matter what one’s political affiliations are or what opinions one holds about the war effort. “It’s important to support the troops and realize all that they are doing for us,” Slatkin said.



Common Sense - December 9 , 2009

Monk goes global Students anticipate ski

trip to Mont Tremblant

Annie Bleecker staff writer

The past three months have been very busy for history teacher Mrs. Liliana Monk, with trips to Atlanta, Georgia and Beijing, China in preparation for National Geography Week. Monk traveled to China on Oct. 21-31 to follow up on past observations. In 1982, Monk worked for the embassy, allowing her to travel to Beijing several times. The focus of this year’s trip, however, was for research. Monk plans to take her observations from her travels in 1982 and compare them to her observations from this last trip to design a project for the AP Human Geography students about the development of the city of Beijing. Monk visited the Beijing Agricultural University to complete her research. On Nov. 13-15 Monk gave a presentation in Atlanta, Georgia for the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS). There, she collaborated with fellow social studies teachers about the methods of teaching the large content in the AP Human Geography course. “I learned about the Pennies for Peace Charity at the conference,” Monk said. Pennies for Peace was the centerpiece for this year’s National Geography Week, which was on Nov. 15-20. The charity was designed after author Greg Mortenson traveled to Pakistan. After witnessing the living conditions there, he promised to build a school for those people. There are over 90 schools in Northern Pakistan. “By educating and empowering our students, the conditions in Pakistan should improve,” Monk said. Monk and fellow AP Human Geography teacher Mrs. Anne-Marie Steppling are still collecting pennies for Pennies for Peace in their classrooms.

Neal Lerner news editor

Through the program Ski Travel, students venture on a ski trip in January with other high schoolers from the east coast. This trip is not affiliated with or sponsored by Wootton, except for the fact that many students participate in the program every year. From Jan. 22-26, students will ski the slopes of Mont Tremblant in Canada, which is on Transworld’s top five list for best resorts in Eastern North America. Aside from Maryland, participants come from Virginia, Washington D.C., Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Village of Mont Tremblant allows the students to walk around to its restaurants, movie theatre or water park. There are a lot of opportunities for winter sports considering that the skiing and snowboarding are some of the best in the world. In fact, for the eleventh year in a row, Mont Tremblant was voted the number one Ski Resort in Eastern North America according to the Ski Travel website. “I have been skiing my whole life, so to be given the opportunity to go the Mont Tremblant again is awesome,” senior trip representative Mackie Henderson said. Henderson is one of the ski trip’s 13 representatives from Wootton. “I went last year and am looking forward to this year even more.” Henderson decided to be a representative this year since he gets more benefits from it. “The more people I get to sign up, the more money I get taken off my price,” Henderson said. However, senior representative David Musher has found another reason to become a representative for the trip. “We went to a meeting at Fuddrucker’s and were given free food,” Musher said. At the dinner, students received all of the needed forms and information. Besides recruiting people, the only other main job for the representatives is to assign the students rooms according to their roommate requests. The Ski Travel program is entering its 29th year under the Direction of Dan Callahan. According to the Ski Travel website, Callahan started Ski Travel in 1981 “to fill the need for safe, chaperoned alternatives to discontinued school sponsored ski trips.” Now that the program is well known throughout the northern east coast, over 3,000 students attend this trip annually. One of Ski Travel’s rules and policies, which can be found in the program’s “Policy Agreement” is that “possession, use or consumption of drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited.” The program strictly enforces these rules, which can be seen through their actions last year as a few Churchill students were photo courtesy of Mrs. Liliana Monk sent home for disobeying the agreement they signed. Ms. Monk poses for a picture during her travels to China in 1982. Some students break this rule by taking advantage of

(301) 309-0075

Town Square Jewlers Jewelry - Watches - Repairs - Gifts

100 Gibbs St. Unit E Rockville, Md 20850

photo courtesy of

StudentsfromfiveeastcoaststatesandtheDistrictofColumbiatravelto CanadaeveryyeartoMontTremblantonaskitriporganizedbySkiTravel.

Canadian laws. In Canada, the drinking age is 18, so some seniors may be of age by the time of the trip. “I spoke to parents who sent their children on the trip, and they said that [this trip] is a crazy party with little supervision,” parent Cindy Schwatz said. Some students who have gone on the trip do not think this is an accurate statement. “There is much more supervision than people think,” Henderson said. According to the Ski Travel website, the safety of the students is the company’s number one concern and top priority. In fact, students are always supervised by a professionally trained chaperone and never drive anywhere. Ski Travel has established a well-built chaperone policy as one chaperone is assigned to between 12 to 15 students. Chaperones range from parents to teachers or even law enforcement officers. The average age of a chaperone is 38, and chaperones are accessible at all times in buildings and through two-way radios. A major way that the chaperones keep all of the students safe is by enforcing the mandatory check-in times each day. “I am upset that my Mom is not letting me go,” sophomore Jessica Haley said. “She believes all of the rumors about the parties, but it seems safe and would give me an opportunity to become better friends with more kids at Wootton as well as other schools.” Students who have not signed up still have time to do so for a slightly higher cost. There was an early sign up for students by Nov. 11, but now there are two more sign up dates: Dec. 7 and 22. The price increases after each deadline passes. Payments can be done all at once online or through a scattered payment plan. In order to sign up, students should contact a representative and then make an account on the Ski Travel website to request their roommates and provide other personal information. “The trip is a lot of fun for several reasons, but it’s also an opportunity for us to interact with and become friends with students from different schools,” Henderson said.



Common Sense - December 9 , 2009

Senior planners prepare for POTH from POTH, page 1 acts occur after intermission. “It’s a good mix of people this year, and they are all working hard, which is sure to make a great show,” senior class president Swetha Iruku said. “SGA is doing the greatest dance of all time,” junior SGA member Derek Jensen said. “My favorite part about POTH is putting on a good show for the students.” “It’s a great way to show off your dance skills and entertain the crowd,” Rubin said. “The more interesting acts we have, the better the night will be.” Last year, there were many break-dancing groups. This year, however, Senior Planners are encouraging students to add more variety to the acts in order to avoid repetition. “Last year, people didn’t realize it’s a dance and lipsynching competition,” Rubin said. “In order to keep the crowd engaged, it’s always fun to have variety.” The crowd at POTH usually consists of energetic fans, so different acts help keep the energy flowing. There are also monetary incentives for the contestants to try their best to win. For the individual acts, first place wins $100, second place wins $50 and third place wins $25. However, there is only one $100 winner for the class competition. The class competition is just between the freshmen, sophomores and juniors. SGA and the Woottonettes participate only to support and entertain the school community, and Senior Planning cannot win since

they organize the event. “Originally we weren’t going to do it because of last year’s performance and since SGA is not allowed to win, but we want to support Senior Planning and the school community,” Jensen said. “I know I’m the best dancer at Wootton, and I want the whole school to see that in my SGA and Woottonettes performance.” Last year, the class of 2010 won the class competition. The group who won the $100 prize allotted for the individual acts last year was called “Nick Jonas.” Second place went to “Hypnosis” and third place to “The Funk.” “Nick Jonas” was made up of Adam Coyle and many other students who danced to a mix of 90’s music. Coyle’s group danced in the background on the stage as he lipsynced the songs. Last year is not the first year that a comedic act won first place instead of a more typical break-dancing group. “Adam’s dance last year was so much fun to be part of,” sophomore Pat Grant said. “I think it was a nice change in acts for the students, which is why his group won. I hope that I can just jump in another dance this year.” The main obstacle faced by participating groups each year is whether or not performers show up at the rehearsals or if they even bother to practice at all. Freshman Erin Masterman has heard much about POTH from friends and from word around the school. “I heard it is a competition between the classes,” Masterman said. “I also heard it is really fun and the dancing

photo by Vivian Chen

Somefreshmanplannerspracticetheirdancemovesandlipsyncingfor POTH, which is being hosted by senior planning this Thursday.

and singing is hilarious. “I’m looking forward to having a good time with friends and seeing all the funny acts.” Senior Jabari Welsh has been taking part in POTH since he was a sophomore. “The best part of Puttin’ On The Hitz is the fun time my group and I have rehearsing for the show,” Welsh said. Aside from himself, Welsh’s group is comprised of juniors Mario Aguilar, Kim Barger, Alexis Roffeld and Beata Globa. POTH is fun for every student. The different acts provide a range of entertainment to keep the crowd on their toes. “I think this year’s performance will be much better than last year’s,” Welsh said. “It will blow everyone away.”

Many missing out Local Mosque’s assets frozen on health care from MOSQUE, page 1

Anna Tragotsi staff writer There have been ongoing debates about health care in the United States. At least 15% of the population does not have any insurance, and the rest of the population has insurance that does not fully prepare them for future needs. Health care is provided by a collection of legal systems. Health care facilities are mostly owned and operated by private sectors, which are the ones that mainly provide the health insurance except for government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Health Administration. The high costs of health care make medical debt the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. “Two of the biggest worries are that it will be a strain on our budget, and we will be limited in our healthcare choices,” parent Dr. Inas Anderson said. “Those who are uninsured go to the emergency room for healthcare; inadvertently a visit that would have cost $40 in a co-pay costs our society up to $2000 in an E.R. visit,” Anderson said. “There’s no doubt that healthcare is beneficial, but our current system could definitely use some improvement,” senior Daniel Feldman said. The debate concerning health care deals with issues of fairness, cost, and rights. Many have argued that the system does not deliver equivalent value for money spent. “Doctors are limited in terms of the care they can give new patients,” Anderson said. “The insurance companies dictate which medicines are covered, which lab works they can order and which subspecialists they may refer to. According to President Barack Obama’s website, his health care plan promises to “end discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, and discrimination based on gender or age, and to prevent insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are sick.” Obama wants to provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance and wants to provide insurance to those who currently do not have any. Another goal of Obama’s plan is to lower the cost of health care. There is a growing number of people in Montgomery County who are losing their health insurance due to the declining economy, which is leading the the high rates of unemployment. Besides parents like Anderson, junior Ilan Simanin has also noticed the negatives about the current health care system. “There is a huge majority in America that doesn’t want the government to be involved in our health care,” Simanin said. “It puts the government between you and your doctor, which is no place for the government. It is an intrusion on our privacy, but is also bad for many workers who may be put out of business at the private insurance companies if the government takes the lead.”

of the corresponding actions against residential mosques is felt in the law, Hojatoleslam Sheikh Ahmad Potomac and Rockville area. Bahraini, is accused of having economic “I met a lot of my friends [at ties to the Alavi Foundation, a non- IEC]. We go to chill,” sophomore IEC profit organization that is considered to member Ali Jawad said. be a significant front for Iran’s National Jawad, like many other members, has Bank Melli. been a part of the mosque community The Alavi Foundation is located since he was born. in the 650 Fifth Avenue building, a The IEC not only focuses on modern Manhattan building built only maintaining a devoted congregation, 30 years ago by the late overthrown but also caters to an active childhood, Iranian Shah. hosting social events such as potlucks The creation of the foundation and sponsoring a competitive athletic was to promote Islamic culture and league. Persian language Despite the in the U.S. Part of obvious possibility [IEC] is a place of worship, a their mission is to that social activities community.” support charitable may be stopped and philanthropic -sophomore Ali Jawad because of further cause through actions of the educational, religious, and cultural FBI, members take confidence in the programs. continuation of IEC from the spiritual Alavi has been a major contributor aspect of the mosque. to Shia mosques and education centers, “We’re not really scared [of Islamic studies programs in universities accusations]. It’s a place of worship, a such as Harvard, and scholarship funds community,” Jawad said. to underprivileged Muslim students. However, Muslims and nonThe foundation abides by eight core Muslims alike agree that the Alavi program areas that help them provide foundation breaks both a 20-year-old support, montary and otherwise, to executive order that prohibits financial smaller Islamic institutions. support to the Iranian government as New York’s South District US well as nuclear disarmament policy. Attorney’s Office has filed a complaint The allegations are compounded that the foundation is siphoning by the recent shooting by Muslim billions of dollars from rent collection psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan and donations to Bank Melli, which is at a Fort Hood, Texas military base, a major contributor to Iran’s nuclear development program. Alavi employees are surprised and confused by the recent claims and federal action. “[The Alavi Foundation] is saddened by the event and is very concerned,” Alavi Foundation Campaign Executive Syed Rada said. “[Alavi’s leadership] doesn’t know what to do. They don’t know what direction to go at this point. Serving people of the US among many others shall be tremendous in justifying our current position.” The Alavi Foundation’s ability to receive and distribute donations has been suspended indefinitely, and further actions are pending. Even though federal investigations are focused in New York, the impact

photo courtesy of

The Islamic Education Center on Montrose Road (above) was recently investigated for funding the nuclear program in Iran.

which left 13 dead and 30 wounded, causing the Muslim community again to meet with a negative public image in the media. “The media has a huge role in forming perceptions,” Muslim Student Association Sponsor and Staff Development Teacher Ms. Amani Elkassabany said. “You don’t see many positive stories about Muslims.” There are Muslim fundamentalists who are considered violent and corrupt, but this small population has negatively skewed the minds of non-Muslims. Because of the widely held notions about Muslims, the public approval of restricting Muslim religious institutions such as IEC is overwhelmingly high, creating conflict based on First Amendment rights. “So often, I think that the Muslim community is portrayed as homogeneous, which is not true,” Elkassabany said. “There is a great deal of diversity, different regional backgrounds [in the Muslim community].”



Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Afghan policy adjusted

Patriot Points:

More troops will end war sooner Do teachers make themselves available to give Admittedly, the U.S. can be blamed in part for the mess in the Middle East. On Wednesday, Dec. 3, President Barack Obama their students extra help?

Common Sense Editors

Common Sense welcomes letters to the editor, but reserves the right to edit them as necessary for style, punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Letters may be submitted to the Common Sense mailbox. All letters must be signed, but requests to remain anonymous will be considered. Please contact us at


Ilana Avergun & Drew Endick

“Only some [are available during the school day]. Some don’t really care if you have to stay after school or miss practice.” - Sara Maggin, 10th grade

“Yeah, I think they try to help out.” - Rori Kameka, 11th grade

“As far as the foreign language department is concerned, there is a teacher available for tutoring every lunch period... I’d like to believe it’s the same in every department, but I don’t know.” - Matthew Salzman, Spanish teacher “Most of my teachers make themselves available...they are really willing to help out.” - Jessie Rubin, 12th grade

“Sometimes when you go for help, the teachers don’t have time to help out.” - Minsu Son, 11th grade photos by Zara Shore

photo by Danny Wadler

announced his plan for Afghanistan at an address to cadets at West Point. Although many believe that Obama’s plan to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by 2012 will abuse the United States’ military, it is the only logical and safe way to resolve conflicts in the Middle East. Since 2001, coalition forces, primarily made of United States Army Rangers and Marines, have been fighting Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization responsible for corrupted governments as well as several bombings and kidnappings in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recently, however, efforts have been focused on fighting against dedicated supporters of the late Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Although the Bush administration stated that the situation in Afghanistan had become more stable than that in Iraq, AlQaeda is now becoming a much larger threat in Afghanistan. Using the Khyber Pass, a mountain path connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan, insurgents have been funneled into the nation. The landscape has allowed Al-Qaeda terrorists to hide and receive training in Pakistan, where U.S. troops are not legally allowed to engage in battle. The results of this multinational guerilla movement are significant American casualties and the inability to find terrorist leaders, including Osama Bin Laden. The previous military approach toward this situation was the use of small special force teams made up of a total of 32,000 troops. Taliban forces, who easily go into hiding, have proven this method of small versus small futile. 30,000 more troops will nearly double the size of the Coalition task force in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda’s “hit and run” tactics will not be nearly as effective as they have been in the past. The international terrorist threat will shrink tremendously. The Obama administration realizes that there are other threats in the Middle East that will soon spiral out of control. Al-Qaeda controls nuclear power in Pakistan. The Iranian government, which is controlled by hateful radicals, has created a nuclear development program. Although more troops will be committed to battle, the Afghanistan conflict will finally end, saving American lives and allowing the military to approach weighty international issues.

Church should not withhold services from D.C. needy Zara Shore op-ed editor When D.C. Council member Arrington Dixon first proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia in 1975, he became the laughingstock of the area, scolded for his allegiance to a community and an idea that could never gain widespread approval. Yet just this past Tuesday, the D.C. Council finally passed a bill with this same idea in its first round of voting with an 11-2 decision. Even those who do not want this bill to become law cannot deny that this legislation is the turning point for social change in the United States. But in the midst of the celebration from gay rights activists, the Catholic Church and other religious organizations are strongly voicing their dissent, stating that if same-sex marriage is legalized in the district, they will no longer provide services to the D.C. community. Many of D.C.’s social service organizations, including homeless shelters, city-sponsored adoption centers and soup kitchens, are operated and facilitated by Catholic charities. Especially in such a terrible economy, there is more need than ever for charitable organizations to continue to offer support. For the Catholic Church, a religion that

is supposed to always be available to help its adherents, it would be inherently unethical to abandon the people who rely on their aid because of this bill. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has used their power in public relations to further their desire to stop the bill from being passed. The religious group has stated that if the D.C. Council refuses to cooperate with them, they will stop or at least severely limit the amount of resources they provide to the needy in the D.C. area. The Church is supposed to be morally stable, a foundation of high ideals that are above the political turmoil of Washington, D.C. The Church has been putting tremendous pressure upon the D.C. Council with this threat. In fact, the two voters who had dissented

with the bill on Tuesday, Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), were both only opposed to this bill becoming law because of the vast amount of complaints they heard from AfricanAmerican ministers in the D.C. area and the threats that they received from community members of losing the support they need in order to succeed government. It is certainly one thing to disagree with a bill in the midst of it being voted on and to argue your point thoroughly. But to withhold services from the needy who have nothing to do with any legislation being passed in the District government? Those in need are the people who will suffer from the sudden withdrawal of financial support from the Church, not the members of the D.C. Council.

Managing Editors Azzah Ahmed, Emily Burklow, Eleni Kessler Arts Editors Melissa Frohman & Samantha Ritwo Commons Editors Naomi Sapiro & Natalie Wainger Features Editors Allie McRae & Katy Tong News Editors Jessica Ding & Neal Lerner Opinion Editors Zara Shore & Danny Wadler Sports Editors Jared Wasserman & Jeff Zifrony Photo Editors Vivian Chen & Ira Rickman Online Editors Will Browning & Gordie Gold photos courtesy of and Business Manager Daniel Moon Distribution Manager Will Browning Avergun Family, Bob and Debra Browning, Endick Family, Fran and Harold Frohman, Alexandra Adviser and Iver Kessler, Janet and Christopher Lerner, Diana Perroots, Anne and Mike McRae, Ruth and Jaclynn Rozansky Andrew Ritwo, James Sullivan, Beth Van Wye, William and Elizabeth Wainger, Randi Zifrony

Thank you Patrons!



Common Sense - December 9, 2009


Should team-building Pranks be allowed for athletes?

No, these activities are more reckless than traditional ones Zara Shore op-ed editor Your lawn is equivalent to a box of plastic cutlery, forks sticking out in every available spot of grass. Your car is a mess, coated with plastic wrap and sticky notes – the windows covered so that it completely impairs your vision, and you end up being late to school. Sure, it was funny when your friends did this to the other group last week, but how will you explain this messy lawn to your parents? How will you explain your unexcused tardy to your first period teacher? “Friendly” team-building activities have become incredibly popular among sports teams and even groups of friends. A team will get together late at night and form a plan of attack, to hit anyone outside of their exclusive group, often a member of another sport team at the school. These activities, whether they include forking someone’s lawn, teepeeing someone’s house, or covering someone’s car in plastic wrap, are thought to unify a team, allowing them to really bond and add to their playing abilities. Athletes claim that getting together, creating a plan and seeing it through will add to the team’s cohesiveness. It excites them before their next game. While these activities may solidify the friendship of teammates, more prevalent is the damage that is done to the victims of the group’s actions. As the mischievous team of attackers gather to high-five and congratulate each other on a job well done, who is thinking about the person who has to clean up, or the angry parents, or the inability to attend school because there is no vehicle to get them there? The students who are not a part of the team did not sign up to be a part of these activities, yet they are victimized. Even though teams fulfill these

Yes, bonding events help teams learn to work well together

activities because they believe that it adds to Danny Wadler the strength of their group, it only weakens op-ed editor their connection and their ability to work A true high school sports team is more well with each other. First of all, it destroys than just a large group of athletic students. the trust that is built by a close-knit team If these students all play the same sport at working together. If the members are so the same time and place, they still do not eager to attack another person, there is no necessarily form a team. suggestion of a strong sense of loyalty to A team is a cooperative unit that can each other as teammates. successfully combine efforts to achieve Not only do teams attack other people a common goal. These students must during their activities, but they also often be communicative and friendly with one include alcohol in their bonding schedule, another in order to be called a team. even though every sports team has to sign a Team-building activities are the key contract at the beginning of the season that methods to transform a group of athletes they will not drink at all. into a true team. These activities can include “Drinking’s involved in some of our ‘get anything from passing drills to team dinners togethers’ to have a good time…we’ve just or even good-spirited practical jokes. Teams become really good friends,” an anonymous have been known to shove forks into athlete said of her sports team. each other’s yards and wrap each other’s The addition of alcohol into teamcars in toilet paper, but there have been building activities leaves the group divided, very few incidents of property damage or many members health risk serious often feeling enough to spark any pressure and torn interference from between the rules the police or school of playing the sport administration. and being a part These harmless of the close-knit pranks have to community that is a be executed for sports team. teammates to “Some people become comfortable were really opposed and friendly with photo courtesy of to [our activities],” each other, and thus, the athlete said. more compatible on a sports team. Team-building is supposed to create Teammates embark on these team a sense of unity within a group, allowing building missions with the main intention of teammates to form a cohesive bond that having fun, but they actually improve their will help them have stronger results in their ability as well. With the idea that a group activities. But through negative behavior of athletes is not really a team until they such as forking other students’ lawns or can cooperate with each other, a team can damaging other students’ cars, the only practice their cooperation skills by getting results are a lack of trust within the team together for these bonding activities. It takes and victimization of those who are not excellent communication for a group so included in the group. large to meet up at a set time, execute plans, These actions are not harmless; they’re and follow through with them fully. destructive.

Facebook obsession endangers students’ healthy study habits Danny Wadler op-ed editor As a student with a Facebook page, I find that Facebook’s many features are very helpful in most cases. I frequently send messages to fellow students, usually just to socialize, but also to communicate when projects must be completed. Facebook also is an extremely convenient way for me to keep in touch with friends that I otherwise would not be able to talk to often. Occasionally a student refuses to create his or her own Facebook page; they believe that friends drift farther apart after becoming Facebook friends. Frankly, any two friends can keep in touch with each other through Facebook if they put in real effort. Nobody really feels restricted in an anti-social virtual world because of online social networks. Nevertheless, Facebook has major negative effects on students. The only real issue that Facebook poses is an unwavering distraction from important tasks like school work. Procrastinators, socialites, gossipers and gamers are only a small handful of roles Facebook users play. They all have trouble managing time because Facebook holds so much power over their lives. I log on to Facebook to find help with homework assignments fairly often. The late evening on a school

night, when parents and teachers would hope students are just finishing their homework or preparing for a night’s sleep, is when the most students can be found online. This is the perfect time to find somebody to chat with who can explain how to approach a certain writing assignment. However, in the bottom right corner of the screen lays a small number in a red bubble: procrastination’s greatest weapon. Feeling obligated to click on this bubble, I do so and view most recent notifications. Facebook is simply doing its job; it is alerting me that a friend has posted something on my wall, or that I have been tagged in a photo. In this situation, I am compelled to view my new photos or wall posts. A more social user would even feel the need to comment or reply to their peers. At this point, I have wasted time and do not feel up to the task of returning my attention to homework. My story is that of the procrastinator. Other stories include that of the socialite, who constantly has to be chatting with one or more of their friends. If nobody worth talking to is online at any given moment, the socialite sits around, waiting for one to appear. Then there is the gossiper, who reads their news feed as an everlasting source of information regarding their peers. Another story is

of the gamer, always using the silliest applications and discovering new ones. The gamer spends hours tending to his or her virtual farm or cleaning his or her virtual aquarium. A vast majority of the student body is familiar with one of these stories or their own personalized story. Not a single one of these Facebook-obsessive roles can manage time well, which becomes more necessary as students continue their education. After Facebook throws one’s priorities out of line and wastes very valuable time, one could essentially forget all about their homework, leaving it alone and unfinished for hours or even until the following morning, periods before it is due. Procrastination lowers the quality of potentially excellent assignments, because it ultimately leads to unnecessary rushing. This rush also causes great stress for most students, as if simply having the school work was not stressful enough. While almost all students will admit to using Facebook while doing their homework late at night, most of them will deny its unhealthy effects. All students need to strive in order to complete their work as efficiently and as excellently as possible, but Facebook’s overwhelming dominance over the student body makes this habit very difficult, if not completely impossible to create.

When a center fielder receives a ground ball, and is preparing to pass it to the first baseman, whether the right fielder should act as a cut off or not must be communicated between the teammates or the play could fail. Precision planning and communication is absolutely vital to a sport team, and one of the more fun and memorable ways to practice these skills is through practical jokes. Practical jokes also bring teammates together. What many people do not understand is that these pranks are almost always played on other teams, coaches or parents, who actually find these actions humorous more than harmful. Instead of leaving the scene of a prank with feelings of guilt or anxiety, as one might after committing a crime, teams leave with feelings of accomplishment, because they have not committed any crime at all. They have each other to thank. Teammates know that without their teamwork and communication, they could not have completed their task of mischievous mayhem. Later on, they talk to each other about the incident as if it were an inside joke, or a major point of foundation in their relationship. Close friends are exactly the people that work well together on a team, as verified by scientific data and true stories portrayed in many aspects of popular culture. Some sports teams at Wootton have actually pranked other sport teams, resulting in wars between the two teams. Both parties always end up laughing about the pranks in the end, regarding it as “no big deal,” according to a former team manager. Pranks are like any other drill executed during regular practices; teammates learn to work together and form a fully functional collaborative unit. Individual skill is not enough to win games. Teams will continue to execute practical jokes, improve friendships and athletic performances, and have fun.

Monthly Mayhem

cartoon by Demetri Tzamaras


Billboard Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Billboard Common Sense - December 9, 2009




Common Sense - December 9, 2009


Indoor Track And Field girls


Boys’ Basketball


Girls’ Basketball


Swim And Dive






Indoor Track And Field boys


Experienced senior backcourt leads boys’ basketball team Gordie Gold business manager In their season opener against one of last year’s Montgomery County powerhouses, Paint Branch, who finished with a 20-5 record, hosted the Patriots, who were able to come away with a tough win by a score of 57-51. Senior forward Jack Weis led the way with 27 points. Coming off a disappointing 8-15 season, including a first-round playoff loss, the boys’ varsity basketball team is looking to show that they can get back to being one of Montgomery County’s top teams. “We have a lot of talent on our team, and we expect to make noise this year,” senior guard Freddy Vance said. Despite losing three key starters in Nitin Potarazu, Brian Hollins and Matt Canter, the team returns nine players with varsity experience. “I think one of our main photo by Jeff Zifrony problems last year was team chemistry,” Weis said. “We can SeniorguardRashawnMorrisusesascreensetbyjuniorJamesWallerstedtinawalk-throughbeforetheirfirstgameoftheseason. definitely improve on that this year because we have been playing stages, providing the Patriots with the team with a lot of inexperience on the details of the system, and tough defense and averaging 11.5 on the bench. we know what to expect from each together for a while now.” “Last year helped me learn other,” Bohlen said. Two of the returning players points per game in the final two the ins and outs of the offense and A key addition to the team that will be heavily relied upon games. “On last year’s team we really what the expectations are from my is junior center Ryan Trafton, are last year’s starters, senior guard Rashawn Morris and Vance. only had one guy [Potarazu] who teammates and coaches to play a transfer from Samuel Banks Morris is the team’s best perimeter did most of the scoring,” head varsity basketball,” junior forward High School, who is expected to have a big impact on the Patriots’ defender and one of its leading ball coach Christopher Bohlen said. James Wallerstedt said. Not only will this experience frontline. handlers. Vance was the leading “This year, we have seven guys “Ryan brings us a defensive scorer among those returning this who are ready to contribute and a enhance the players’ performance, but it also helps out from a presence and adds another season, averaging nearly 6.5 points lot more depth on the bench.” A major difference from coaching standpoint. legitimate scoring threat to our per game. Weis is also another “Having an experienced team offense,” assistant coach Dan key player returning this season. last year’s team is this squad’s Despite starting off last season experience level. Last year’s team definitely helps me as a coach O’Connor said. After last year’s underwhelming slowly, Weis emerged in the latter dressed five sophomores, leaving because we can spend more time

season, the boys’ team, which usually had a huge student fan base, lost some interest throughout the school. This year’s squad looks to get Wootton students talking about them again. “We hope to bring success back to our school and have big crowds come out like the old days,” Morris said. Based on their performance in practice, Bohlen is confident that the team’s regular season results will far surpass last season’s marks. “The team has really picked up the overall intensity from last year, especially on the defensive side,” Bohlen said. “Our team chemistry is great and the offense is executing.” The Patriots got their first chance to play together as a team in a scrimmage against Landon, a private school who was the champion of the Interstate Athletic Conference last year. Though no official score is kept in a scrimmage, the Patriots were able to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses heading into the season. The main standout in the scrimmage was Trafton, who showed off his tremendous athletic ability by grabbing rebounds and blocking shots, while contributing from both the outside and the inside on the offensive end. Along with Trafton’s overall tremendous performance, Weis and Vance showed that they were going to be leaders for the team this season, hitting three-point shots and slashing to the rim.

Wrestling team looks to build on strong 11-3 season Michael Krakower staff writer The wrestling team went 1-1 in their first tri-meet on Saturday, Dec. 5. They easily took down Northwest, but suffered a devastating loss against Damascus. The team is coming off a strong 11-3 finish last season, and maintains a determined attitude in their quest for another successful season. Senior captain Mike Barbaro, junior captain Shane Bramble and sophomore Jacob Weaver are the only players returning to the team that made the State finals last year. Bramble had the best personal results as he finished in sixth place. However, the team does not dwell on its past successes. They have specific goals that mirror their high expectations for the upcoming season. The ultimate goal for the season is to qualify for Regional Duals, which are the playoffs for high school wrestling. The team has not made Regional Duals in three years, and before that appearance, they had not attended in nearly 15 years. “We have the talent to be in the Regional Duals this year,” head coach Kevin O’Neill

said. The team plans on achieving their goals with the strong leadership of the team’s six captains: Bramble and Barbaro, along with seniors Scott Oberst, Ben Parzow, Kyle Nisson and Demetri Tzamaras. “We’re confident in the leadership of our seniors,” Bramble said. The experience of the captains, along with the skill of the underclassmen, should also enable this team to make a deep run into the playoffs. “We have a lot of kids who know what they’re doing,” Bramble said. Technique and knowledge of the sport are two qualities essential to a good wrestler. This team has a strong understanding of the discipline that is required of the sport, and looks to supplement it with their fierce athletic ability. The team showed off their tenacity and skill in a preseason scrimmage against Thomas Jefferson High School. Score was not kept because it was only a developmental match, but Wootton clearly out-performed their opponent. The match was reassuring to the team because they proved they could perform

without vital senior contributors from last year. Jeremy Rosenthal, Eric Mears and Jack Corbett were all lost to graduation. However, the incoming freshman class hopes to make up for the lost talent with hard work and dedication. “With my prior experience, I can tell our freshmen are good,” Barbaro said. “They know what they’re doing.” The incoming freshmen should minimize the steep learning curve usually associated with new wrestlers. Freshman Stephen Potemken is expected to wrestle on the varsity squad this year. He and other young players will have little time to adjust to high school wrestling, as the team’s toughest matches come at the beginning of the season. According to Bramble, Whitman, Magruder and Sherwood will be the team’s toughest opponents this year. The team faces off against these teams in three of their first four matches. The squad has mixed feelings about their difficult matches being scheduled in the beginning of the season. “I think it will be beneficial because it

photo by Alex Kelly


will be like a measuring stick for the rest of the season,” O’Neill said. “You have to beat the best to be the best.” The team is anxious to find out how this year’s team stacks up to last season’s talented group. “It’s going to be tough to live up to last year, but I think we can do it,” Barbaro said.



Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Young core of Flinchum, Welch look to swimmers and avenge second-round exit divers prepares for Metro competition Steven Fitzwilliam staff writer

Robert Logan staff writer Coming off 3-3 seasons for both the boys and the girls, the Wootton swim and dive team is looking to make a splash this season. With many returning swimmers this year, including senior captains Raymond Zhou and Sophia Wang, as well as juniors Thomas Finn, Tessa Urovsky and Derek Jensen, the Patriots will have a great chance to achieve success at Metros. “We have a very strong upper class,” Jensen said. “We are stacked like jenga blocks.” At last year’s Metros, the boys took tenth place, while the girls took 16th. The team’s strong performance last year allowed them to stay in Division I. Despite the very large team, they are all extremely close. “We have great depth,” head coach Howard Blume said. “Both boys and girls can win the division.” Alongside Blume, the Patriots have brought in a new assistant coach, former Wootton swimmer Jackie Emr. Another addition to the team is the talented core of freshmen. Allie Klatzkin, Yaly Levy, Matt Gibson and Kevin Fu have shown signs of future success this year. With many upcoming opponents such as Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Whitman and Richard Montgomery, perhaps the toughest team that the Patriots play will be Churchill, the winners of Metros last year. “There are too many great teams in our division,” Emr said. “But we have shown great potential, and everyone looks very strong.” Despite the potential of the team, there is only one senior on the boys’ squad, Zhou. The squad will look to make up for their lack of experience from the junior players, as well as increased roles from the sophomores and freshmen. Finn is one of the major standouts from the boys’ squad. At Metros last year - a tournament that is composed of every public and private high school in the Washington Metropolitan area Finn placed sixth in the 500-meter freestyle, as well as 11th in the 100-meter backstroke. “Thomas Finn is pretty much amazing at every stroke,” junior Kyle Murdock said. “He has great times in everything.” Along with Finn are juniors Sean Reinhart, Eric Woodard, and sophomore Michael Fu. “The boys have great depth; they will definitely contend this year,” Blume said. The girls’ team also looks to go far this season. With major contributors coming from senior captains Wang, Christiana Chang, junior Emily Bolek, and Urovsky, their chances are very high. “We have many girls who have been practicing hard all year,” Urovsky said. “I expect a lot of us to make Metros in February.” At the team’s meet on Dec. 5, the squad competed against Quince Orchard high school, an out-of-division opponent. The event was a scrimmage, so official score was not kept. Senior Cori Schneider finished in first place in the diving competition, while senior captain Amanda Crocker placed in second. The team’s first official meet is on Saturday, Dec. 12, against B-CC at the Germantown Swim Center.

With a new season now underway, the girls’ varsity basketball team looks to continue its dominance over the 4A West division by winning its fourth division title in a row. In the season and home opener, the Lady Patriots lost to Paint Branch 5768. Junior center Gabby Flinchum came up strong under the basket and managed to muscle up an impressive 16 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. In addition, junior guard Jess Welch put on a show while dropping 12 points in the disappointing loss. A main issue for the squad is their free throw shooting and turnovers. As a team, the Patriots turned the ball over 19 times and missed 11 free throws. The lack of focus proved to be the difference in the loss. Paint Branch is known as an elite force throughout the county. Last year, the Panthers captured a division title and lived up to the hype this season in their game against Wootton. “Opening up against a better program is tough, but it’s a good thing,” head coach Ms. Maggie Dyer said. Last year the team started off their season with a ten-game winning streak, culminating in a 17-3 regular season record and their third division title in as many years. However, their season was cut short with a loss to Northwest in the second round of the playoffs. “Last season I felt that we were a really strong team that had a lot of potential to

go far, so naturally, I was disappointed with the way our playoff run ended so quickly,” Welch said. “I really thought that our team was capable of winning states.” The team is now looking to build off last year’s early playoff exit with a long playoff run and a possible state final appearance. “I think everyone thought we could’ve done better [last season], but it’s a new season now, and we need to focus on this one,” junior center Gabby Flinchum said. “Every year, as a team, we have the same goals: win the division, win the region and go to states.” However, the road back to the playoffs will not come that easily. The team lost six of their 11 players to graduation last year. Among the six were Sarah Bolmer, Kara Vetrano and Chelsea Craig, who led the team in three-pointers, assists, and rebounds, respectively. Even with these key losses and despite only having one senior on its roster, the team boasts experience. Welch was the team’s second leading scorer last year, averaging just over nine points a game. She also tallied 34 steals and 55 assists over the season, second on the team in both categories. Flinchum is also looking to improve on an outstanding sophomore year. She was the team’s leading scorer last year, averaging 12 points per game, and the team’s leading shot blocker, racking up 70 blocks in 23 games. Flinchum was also second in the rebounding category with an average of 11.3 rebounds per game. Even though the team has Welch and Flinchum to depend upon, seven of the 12

photo by Ira Rickman


players this year are new to the team. “We need to come together…as a team,” Dyer said. “Getting everyone on the same page takes time.” The team has been working towards this season for a while now. Many of the players have been playing basketball year-round in summer and fall leagues. Conditioning sessions have also been utilized in the offseason to prepare for this upcoming season. “We now practice every day, and we have a few scrimmages coming up,” Flinchum said. “But we’re just taking it one day and one practice at a time.” The Patriots will face the Colonels at Magruder tomorrow at 7 p.m. * Tuesday night’s game against Urbana took place too late for this edition.

Cheer takes fifth place at County Competition Costly 25-point reduction proves detrimental in overall standings Katie McKenna staff writer The Wootton Patriots’ varsity cheerleading team competed in the Montgomery County Public Schools Division I Varsity Cheerleading competition on Saturday, Nov. 21. The Patriots were in good position at the start of the competition, sitting in third place just before their final routine. However, a major 25-point safety reduction hurt the Patriots and left them sitting in fifth place. “I think our overall performance was phenomenal,” senior captain Savannah Yokley said. “We received many comments about how clean and creative our routine was.” Overall, the Patriots looked solid, but little mistakes cost them at the end of the day. The competitions are scored with deductions of points for bad execution or unsafe stunts and rewarded for good execution and clean, safe routines. Cheerleaders are scored on execution and technique of stunts, tumbling, jumps, motions, spirit and choreography. There are generally slim margins between the first and last place teams, meaning that every mistake and every deduction counts. “Unfortunately, we had a safety violation which is a 25-point deduction. This took us out of the running for placing in the top three, but we were still able to place fifth which is very impressive,” Yokley said. Such a big deduction is difficult to recover from considering falling in a stunt is only a three-point deduction. “In no way does fifth place change how proud the captains and coaches are of the team’s hard work,” Yokley said. “I expected us to perform a clean and perfected routine that was entertaining and fun to watch,” head coach Kristen Daugherity said. There was strong competition at the tournament with Sherwood, Churchill, and Clarksburg holding the top three positions. There were a total of eight teams at the competition including Gaithersburg, Magruder, Northwest and Watkins Mill.

photo by Katie McKenna

Thevarsitycheerleadingteamcameinfifth attheMCPSDiv.ICompetition.

“I expect us to place at our next competition because we will be adding more difficulty,” junior co-captain Jessica Lewis said. “Division I is the hardest and most elite division, so most of the teams in our division have very good routines,” Daugherity said. Although the Patriots did not place in the competition, they were competing against the best. “I know that we will be more competitive at our next competition — we will work harder on our timing and stunts,” Lewis said. “I’m excited for a more relaxed environment [after football season].” “We still have a lot more of the season ahead of us with basketball and wrestling [seasons] starting,” Yokley said. The Patriots will be attending the Maryland High School Cheerleading Championships at University of Maryland, College Park on Saturday, Feb. 13. “Right now we are focusing on supporting and cheering on our basketball, wrestling and poms teams, and no safety violations!” Daugherity said.

Revving up

Behind the Wootton


“My favorite thing about Wootton is the spirit and traditions that have been going on for so many years. You feel like you are a part of the Patriot family.” -Jillian Greenbaum Wootton poms captain

careful not to allow one to be dominant”. Unfortunately, for many years, Cabin John students did not have the same mentality. Since Doran’s arrival in July 2003, Cabin John’s students had predominantly gone on to attend Wootton. “In the earlier years, some [Cabin John] teachers taught at Churchill and would post scores to games. They were missing Wootton stuff and it was an issue,” Doran said. It took assertive parents to help resolve the issue which Doran feels no longer exists. While Wootton and Churchill students share a high degree of school spirit, they express their pride differently at athletic events. “When it comes to Churchill-Wootton match ups, they are pretty equal athletically,” senior Jonny Heiber said. “But when it comes to overall spirit toward sports, Wootton always has fans at every event, every basketball game, girls’ and boys’. Churchill [fans] only show up to the big games.” Regan, sees similarity in the quality of athletics at each school, but senses that sports supporters at Wootton and Churchill have different levels of pride. “In the past, I think our sports have been equal and competitive with each other and our spirit similar,” Regan said. “I think our crowd and spirit this year has been at an all time high—incomparable to any other school.” Churchill’s loud fans are allegedly notorious across the county. “Every year when the principals of the county meet, Churchill is named the most rowdy, unsportsmanlike and rude crowd. I think we take pride in that,” Regan said. Once freshmen arrive at Wootton, the pressure to perform better than Churchill rivals on the court and the field is immediate. While some had played on teams with kids from neighboring schools, the majority of the competition was unknown.

Pom Captains

Heard in the Halls:

BulldogsandPatriots face off

Close in geographical locations and similar in both academics and athletics, Wootton and Churchill have shared a notorious rivalry since Wootton first opened in 1970. Cabin John’s position as a middle school that feeds students to both Wootton and Churchill has intensified the rivalry. Cabin John initially opened as a middle school feeder for Churchill but, due to underenrollment, the school was temporarily closed in 1987. In 1989, Cabin John was reopened as a result of a sharp rise in students living in the Cabin John neighborhood. At the reopening, Cabin John became a feeder for both Churchill and Wootton. The split began a new chapter in the Wootton-Churchill rivalry. The split forces some students to form almost completely new friend groups, while others feel more comfortable with the class division. “For me, it was easy to leave half of my friends. I was friends with mostly kids whose elementary schools go to [Churchill],” Churchill senior class president Liam Regan said. He feels that he dealt with the situation easily because he spent only two years at Cabin John instead of the typical three years. For Wootton students, staying in touch with friends from Churchill poses a challenge. “I keep in touch with as many [Churchill students] as I can, but it’s just not the same as it used to be. There is just not much to talk about because they are no longer your schoolmates,” Wootton freshman Mike Avergun said. “They were some of my best friends throughout middle school, and now I barely ever see them.” While a middle school principal in Fairfax, Virginia, Dr. Michael Doran saw his students split into different high schools like those at Cabin John. “I stayed focused on the time the students had at Luther Jackson [Middle School], not on whether they were going to Falls Church or Oakton [high schools] after,” Doran said. “I was

“The best part about being a Churchill Bulldog is that our school is really spirited.” -Jackie Kleban Churchill poms captain


“I had heard a few names, b personally,” senior lacrosse playe said. While the athletic rivalry has gotten out of control on occasion. Churchill and Wootton students allowed things to get out of hand. “I saw a big fight that broke ou 2008-2009 season]. And there a games,” Shepard said. Fortunately empty. “Very few kids go beyond fu but [the rivalry] has escalated in been expressed on the internet,” students continue to remember Churchill on the field than with yo About three years ago, Doran a step further. During the schoo Wootton property dressed as Wo yearbook staff recording video f asked Wootton opinions on Chur the Churchill announcements. “This is an inappropriate way can be misused,” Doran said. “Rea is having the rivalry stirred up be rivalry as a means of adding int sports. Even with the intensity of the pride in their friends who do well attend.

“My favorite thing about being a Wootton Patriot is wearing red, white and blue at the pep rallies.” -Swetha Iruku Wootton senior class president

Other Famou

p the rivalry:

n vs. Churchill battle

but I didn’t know any of the kids er and team leader Reid Shepard

remained mostly friendly, it has . Fights in public places that both s visit after sports events have . ut after the football game [in the are always threats after lacrosse y, most of the threats have been

un and appropriate trash talking, nto fights and shouting and has ” Doran said. He hopes Wootton r that it means more to beat our fists. recalls, Churchill took the rivalry ol day, Churchill kids came onto Wootton students. Claiming to be for the spring supplement, they rchill and then broadcasted it on

y of keeping a rivalry going that al rivals are natural. My only fear eyond necessary.” Doran sees the terest and excitement to school

e competition, students still take l, regardless of which school they

“I like to hear when my friends do well, especially against other teams, but when it comes to Wootton-Churchill it’s all business,” Heiber said. Neighborhoods such as Fox Hills, parts of the Willows, and other neighborhoods surrounding the Travilah- North Potomac area belong to both Wootton and Churchill High School causing many students to collide with each other outside of the school setting. Students from Churchill are very likely to be found hanging out at the Cabin John Mall strip, and Wootton students are likely to be seen at Fallsgrove, but due to the close proximity of the schools and neighborhoods, students often run into each other. The rivalry is more likely to be seen at sporting events rather than in one-on-one student interactions. Senior Shira Moskowitz finds this to be the case, for part of her freshmen year she attended Churchill, and then switched to Wootton. “I am torn between the two schools, because I have friends at both, but I definitely feel the unspoken awkwardness when seeing a former Churchill classmate,” Moskowitz said. Moskowitz recalls a recent experience she had with Churchill students. “At my internship I am the only Wootton student amongst six other Churchill students. At times I feel that the rivalry is very apparent; if I answer a question wrong the other students jump to conclusions and laugh it off because I go to Wootton,” Moskowitz said. Moskowitz adds that her experience attending both Churchill and Wootton provides her with a unique and balanced perspective on the schools’ rivalries. “Education-wise, I feel that I am given a better opportunity to excel at Wootton. The faculty and students create a conducive

educational environment, which significantly differs from the one I received at Churchill,” Moskowitz said. Moskowitz feels that, compared to Churchill staff, the faculty at Wootton are more involved in student life. Churchill and Wootton are also very similar in academics. Both schools have received the Blue Ribbon Awards and recognition for being leading high schools in the nation. In 2009 Wootton was ranked 34th by the US News and World Report for the Best High Schools in America, and Churchill was ranked 42nd out of the top 100 U.S. high schools. Both schools have about the same number of students; Churchill with 2,118 and Wootton with 2,470. Churchill and Wootton are both known for offering rigorous academic programs. Wootton is known for its two signature programs: Humanities & Arts Program, and STARS, as well as offering classes through Montgomery College for high school seniors known as College Institute. Churchill is known for its Signature Academy programs known as Arts, MTS, and IS Academy.  Both schools offer internships for their seniors. Churchill and Wootton also share the prestige of having distinguished alumni. Wootton has a wide range of alumni such as members of the band O.A.R., and the founder and DJ of Elliot in the morning. Churchill’s alumni also include famous athletes and the creator and writer for the hit TV series “Beverly Hills 90210,” Darren Star. For the most part, Doran considers the Wootton-Churchill rivalry an expression of a healthy competitive spirit. “The healthy aspect [of the rivalry] has always outweighed the negative one,” Doran said. -Naomi Sapiro & Natalie Wainger Commons editors

Churchill photos courtesy of Frank Connors

“The best part about being a Churchill Bulldog is not being a Wootton Patriot.” -Liam Regan Churchill senior class president

us Rivalries

“My favorite thing about being a Wootton Patriot is that I could see Dr. Doran on a daily basis if I wanted to.” -Jenay McNeil Wootton drama “queen”


Leading Ladies

Class Presidents

Wootton photos courtesy of Lifetouch/Yearbook

“My favorite thing about being a Churchill Bulldog is that we have a lot of great extracurricular activities for the students.” -Nina Katz Churchill drama “queen”




Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Two-time defending state champions continue winning streak to open season Jared Wasserman sports editor The back-to-back state champion hockey team has outscored its opponents 28-2 in its first three regular season contests, reaffirming its place amongst Montgomery County’s elite. In the team’s first action since their 5-2 victory over Linganore high school in last year’s title game, the Patriots defeated Damascus, 11-1 on Nov. 13. Junior defender Josh Bretner had three first period goals, and the team’s only goal allowed was a short-handed score with 3:54 remaining in the third period. The Patriots followed that dominating performance with a 12-1 win over Poolesville on Nov. 20. Damascus punched in the game’s first goal with 9:50 left in the first, but Wootton scored twelve unanswered to secure the victory in convincing fashion. “If we play the way we’re capable of, I’m confident we can put these teams away early,” senior defender Alex Greenfest said. In their most recent contest on Dec. 4, the Patriots took on rival Walter Johnson. Two first period goals by junior Matt Greenblatt jumpstarted the offense as they finished the first period with a 4-0

lead. A tally late in the third period by junior PJ Hall sealed the 5-0 win and 3-0 start to the regular season. Bretner leads the state with eleven points and eight goals in just two games played, with senior captains Neofytos Panagos (four goals, five assists) and Steven Rubin (seven goals) also producing for this high-scoring offense. The trio must account for the production lost from graduated All-Gazette Player of the Year Dylan Skarupa (18 goals, 27 assists) and All-Gazette Honorable Mention forward Jon Cohen. “We will have to rely on more teamwork,” Panagos said. There has also been a transition in goal this season. The team graduated All-Gazette Honorable Mention goalkeeper Chris Hogan, and has attempted to fill the void with freshman Zack Reiswig and junior Sam Reiswig, brothers who transferred to Wootton prior to the season. Zack has drawn one start thus far, relinquishing just one goal in 45 minutes of play, while Sam has started two games, letting up just one goal in the contests. “We have complete trust in them and it is a good feeling that we have two really good goalies,” Panagos said. Although the Patriots’

photo by David Hartzman


supremacy over Montgomery County opponents remains, the team did not fare nearly as well in its exhibitions against private schools Landon and Georgetown Prep. In a highly touted matchup, Landon overpowered Wootton by a score of 12-1, smothering the Patriots’ electrifying attack just four days after the team turned in a 12-goal performance of its own. The absence of Bretner and Panagos from the game left the back-line vulnerable and the team’s scoring opportunities few and far between. Then, on Nov. 30, Wootton

had a stronger offensive showing but fell to Prep, 6-5. “It made us realize that we are not invincible and that we need to work hard to three-peat,” senior forward Alex Markenson said. The losses do not count against the team’s regular season record, but serve as a measuring stick to see how the Patriots stack up against the best teams Maryland has to offer. They are also taken into consideration when the Washington Post ranks the state’s top teams, undoubtedly affecting the Patriots’ previous number one standing. With four teams still

undefeated in Montgomery County and the Whitman Vikings having outscored their opponents 33-1 in its first three contests, Wootton’s quest for a third consecutive state championship will be a greater challenge than in year’s past. However, with a solid pairing in goal, a fortified defense led by Bretner, Panagos, and senior Jonah Guiton, as well as the play-making ability of the team’s experienced leaders, the team remains confident about its title prospects this season.

Head Football Coach Greg Malling resigns after five-year tenure from MALLING, page 1 gomery County,” said Eddie Tolliver Sr., Wootton’s defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach. Not only has Coach Malling impacted the program in terms of wins and losses, but he has changed the mentality of Wootton football as well. With the implementation of “B-11,” a slogan encouraging players to always strive to be an eleven on a scale from one to ten, Malling has transformed the team from where he found it five years ago. “He has completely changed the face of Wootton Football,” Athletic Director Christopher Thompson said. “He has

instilled a confidence and a work ethic that has probably never been seen in the football team.” Malling’s resignation came as a surprise to members of the coaching staff and students alike. “It took a while for it to actually sink in that Coach Malling was not going to be here as head coach,” Tolliver said. “I was extremely surprised,” senior team member Matt Gordon said. “I figured that he was going to stay with the program for a while, and when I found out I was just completely shocked.” Malling’s resignation was not driven by

• In 2008, led Patriots to a 7-4 record and first playoff appearance since 1991 • Implemented a spread offense, led to quarterback Mike Mooney’s 451-yard record setting passing performance • Helped wide receiver Stephane N’goumou sign with the Big 10 powerhouse Iowa Hawkeyes • Led seven other 2008 players onto college teams • Has team’s motto, “B11,” tattooed on his leg • To B11, is to do everything to the best of your ability, to expect more from yourself. Be Bigger, Faster, and Stronger. • Named the Washington Redskins’ High School Coach of the Week for November 3, 2008 • 18-33 record with program

dissatisfaction with the program or players, but by his personal need for an adjustment. “There wasn’t a moment [I decided to resign] as much of an understanding that there was a time for change,” Malling said. I was motivated by the recognition that for me and the program to continue developing it needed that change. The best people for turning around a program aren’t always the best for sustaining that success.” Thompson is currently in the process of reviewing about six applicants from around the state and hopes to designate a head coach replacement by the middle of January. “We are losing a positive, motivating, team player who really cares about all of the Wootton sports,” Thompson said. “I think he has instituted a system that the future coach can certainly benefit from.”  Malling has made a lasting impact on both the coaching system and the players that he has worked with. 13 former team photo by Evan Pappas members are now on college rosters, and HeadfootballcoachGregMallingstrategizesduringa Malling has influenced countless others home football game last season. what opportunities he will pursue next. throughout their high school careers. “I wanted to make this decision “Coach Malling has defined football for me,” senior Nate Baruch said. “He made independent of everything else,” Malling me the best player I can possibly be, and I said. “I didn’t want to choose something cannot even imagine what it would be like else over this to be sure that it was the right to have played under anyone else. Having move. I’ll figure out the rest later.” Coach Malling altered the Wootton Coach Malling as the leader of the program was truly unique. Before freshman year I football program for the better throughout had never met anyone with such a relentless the course of his run as head coach, but hunger to win, and it is obvious that some of Wootton football also impacted him. “I will miss the kids, the players, the his views have become instilled in me over most,” said Malling. “It was humbling to the last four years.” work with guys that have a better grasp on Malling has no confirmed plans as to things then most adults have.”



Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Boys’ Player Profile: Jack Weis Jeff Zifrony sports editor With an experienced backcourt and a plethora of young talent, there are high expectations for the varsity basketball team this year. One of the team’s main assets is senior guard Jack Weis. Weis’s passion for basketball started at a very young age. “I started playing when I was five years old at a camp when I lived in Chicago, and I’ve been playing ever since,” Weis said. Weis’s aggressive play has turned scouts’ heads from several division III schools such as Elizabethtown College, Salisbury University, Hood College, and Coast Guard. “I think I bring a sense of toughness that a lot of people don’t correlate with Wootton,” Weis said. “If there is a loose ball or an opponent talking trash I will be there every time.” While it is his tenacity and uncanny shooting ability that the senior guard is most known for, head coach Chris Bohlen believes that Weis boasts other qualities that make him a threat on the court. “Jack is probably the hardest worker on the team,” Bohlen said. “He really understands the game and what is expected of him and does a phenomenal job as a role model for the other players in the program.” To improve his game, Weis has played on a number of select basketball teams and continues his workout regimen year round. “My typical workout involves agility drills such as jump ropes

and agility ladders and weightlifting exercises such as benching and squatting,” Weis said. “In addition, I take shots from different sports on the floor and mix it up between pull-up jumpers, regular jumpers, and driving to the basket. I practice like this six times a week because I know it helps me improve on my weaknesses and fine tune my game.” As a junior, Weis saw a limited amount of floor time due to the amount of talented seniors that were on the squad. With the graduation of guards Jason Korth and Brian Hollins along with forwards Nitin Potaratzu and Matthew Canter, Weis is

projected to be one of the team’s leading scorers this year. Weis believes that this year’s team definitely has more potential than Wootton teams in the past, particularly coming off a disappointing 8-15 campaign last year. “Winning the state championship this year is a definite possibility,” Weis said. “With our experienced guard play coupled with a bunch of talented underclassmen, we could do big things in the playoffs this year.” In the first game of the regular season, Weis lived up to the hype and contributed 27 points to the Patriots’ win against Paint Branch High School.

photo by Jeff Zifrony


Girls’ Player Profile: Gillian Sissman Sam Morse staff writer The frame of junior Gillian Sissman is not that of your typical star athlete. At 5’2”, Sissman has not been short of aggressive. In the winter athletic season, Sissman can be found on the soccer field, where she specializes in defense. The transition to the fall season, however fast, has not been proven difficult, as Sissman immediately throws her cleats away and picks up the basketball. Sissman began playing basketball during first grade and has worked her way to being the astonishingly quick starting guard for the Lady Patriots. As the Lady Pats look to improve upon last year’s record, the guard will be looked upon as one of the returning star players. “We expect a lot from Gillian this year,” head coach Maggie Dyer said. Even though the team lacks experience, Sissman notices that the team’s strong sense of bonding will complement the Coaches’ infallible strategy. “I love our team dinners, secret sisters, and going to Panera after Saturday morning practices,” Sissman said. In the home opener last week, Sissman struggled both defensivly and offensivly. Sissmans three point performance and single steal were overshadowed by her five turnovers in the game. Even through the rough start to this season, Dyer is assured that Gillian will become more dominant and

photo by Ira Rickman

Sissman(#5) directs the offense during the team’s first game against Paint Branch.

comfortable on the court. “[Gillian] is a very good player who can penetrate the basket.” Last year as a sophomore, Sissman averaged only 2.2 points per game for the varsity squad. This year, however, Gillian is expected to produce on the offensive end. “[Gillian] really improved during the off season.” Dyer said. These improvements are what the team is hoping will win them games this year. After major contributor, junior guard Iris Cheng sustained an injury, other players will be needed to compensate for the hole in the offense. “[The loss of Iris] shook the team up a little bit,” Dyer said. Sissman will be expected to step up and fill the void. Sissman who is called “an excellent teammate,” by both Coach Dyer

and other players has lived up to the compliment thus far. “Gillian is really talented when it comes to basketball, but she is also just a fun person to have around.” Junior guard Colby Wright said. As far as college level play is concerned Sissman has no immidiate plans to compete. “Theres always a chance I play in college, but I’d rather play on a club team,” Sissman said. Even though Sissman would like to focus on the present, she does realize that her chance of becoming next year’s team captain will be competitive. “There are 8 juniors including me,” Sissman said, referring to the lack of clear leadership for next year’s team. For now, Sissman is focusing on improving her skills and the ensuring that the team will not fall short of a long playoff run.

What’s Good in Sports Each issue, sports editors Jeff Zifrony and Jared Wasserman break down the who, what, when, where, and why of the sports world. On virtually every television and radio station for the past week, all you’ve been hearing about is Tiger Woods’ infidelity. The public is shocked at what went down at 3:30 in the morning at the Woods’ residence. Why? Are we really surprised about the Tiger Woods secret life? As former NBA superstar Charles Barkley put it in a Nike commercial, “Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” And he’s right. Extraordinary athletic ability does not make you a saint. But regardless, the golf club incident got us thinking about the biggest slip-ups among professional athletes. 4. Kobe Bryant. Weeks after the superstar was accused of raping a hotel worker in Colorado, Bryant publicly denounced NBA player Karl Malone for “coming on” to his wife. Bryant was disgruntled that Malone upset his spouse and treated her disrespectfully. Ironically, Bryant admittedly cheated on his wife weeks before, and almost certainly “hurt her feelings” along the way. 3. Tom Cable. The football coach compiled an 1135 record at Idaho before being hired by UCLA as a coordinator. By some miracle, Cable became the offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons before moving to Oakland and eventually landing the head coaching job. He has a .304 winning percentage as the leading man. More embarrassing then his record is Cable’s history of violence. In training camp this past summer, he added to a lengthy list of accusations that include beating two exwives and an ex-girlfriend by allegedly punching assistant coach Randy Hanson in the face, fracturing his jaw. On Nov. 5, The National Organization for Women called on the Raiders to suspend Cable. No action has been taken. 2. Baseball. Not only has the steroid era tarnished the present state of the game, it has diminished the accomplishments of past greats who notched 600 plus home runs on nothing more than talent and a hangover. Mantle, Williams, Aaron, Mays, Ruth… the list goes on and on. Among those mythical names atop the home run list are Sosa, Rodriguez, McGuire, and Palmeiro. All are known steroid users at one point in their careers. You hear the argument that this era brought excitement back to a dull and uneventful pastime. However, to those who truly appreciate the game, the respect and adoration that we as fans feel for our sports heroes can no longer come without a hint of skepticism, thanks to the unethical practices of a generation. Sure, Adrian Peterson is a beast, but can a guy that big, really be that fast? These are the questions that the steroid era has created. 1. Orenthal James Simpson. Surprised to see him on this list? That’s because O.J. has become so infamous for his off-field issues that his illustrious football career is largely forgotten by the public. Simpson was the 1968 Heisman Trophy winner at USC, having rushed for 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was the first overall pick in the subsequent draft, finished his career as the second leading rusher in NFL history, and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1985. It is a difficult task to commit such atrocities off the field that these accomplishments become an afterthought, but Simpson did his best. In 1995, we all know O.J. was acquitted (not sure how, though) of the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goodman. Seemingly ungrateful for his second chance at a normal life, Simpson was arrested in September of 2007 and charged with conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, burglary, assault, and weapons related crimes. An unbiased jury found Simpson guilty on all charges and he is currently serving at least nine years in prison. You can try to emulate these athletes on the field, but it may not be wise to do so off of it.



Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Not your typical high school athlete

Jeff Zifrony sports editor

Ask any player or coach in the Wootton basketball system who the hardest working individual in the program, is and the answer will be the same: Ashkan Geramifar. The senior has an extremely uncommon and remarkable passion for basketball. “I play seven days a week, once or twice a day, in addition to running every morning and going to the gym often,” Geramifar said. “My love for the game and the desire to better myself is what keeps me going.” Geramifar, who was confined to a halo in eighth grade after his C1 and C2 vertebrae were separated, continued to play basketball despite the severity of his injury. “Any slight jerk would have basically snapped my neck,” Geramifar said. “But I played regardless.” It is that toughness that carried the guard through his athletic career. After failing to make the junior varsity squad his freshman year, Geramifar continued to work at his game and made the team as a sophomore. “I decreased my mile time by about

twenty seconds and increased my bench press by almost 50 pounds,” Geramifar said. “My goal was always to make the varsity team.” Unfortunately, the senior made it to the final round of tryouts before being cut. However, Geramifar was not discouraged and is currently involved in the basketball program as a manager and assistant.      “I’m learning the game as an understudy to [head] coach [Chris] Bohlen,” Geramifar said. “I want to coach at some point in my career, and he’s helping me learn the principles of coaching. Every drill he sets up or technique he teaches, I learn and observe. It helps me formulate how I want to coach when I decide to.” Bohlen believes that Geramifar possess certain qualities that will help him coach the game. “Ashkan is a great kid to be around and has a passion for learning the game,” Bohlen said. “He understands the X’s and O’s and notices things on the court before they’ve even developed — he sees the bigger picture.”

photo by Jeff Zifrony


It is not just Bohlen who has noticed his work ethic and love for the game. Senior guard Jack Weis is one of the many individuals who have taken note of Ashkan’s improvement. “I have played basketball with Ashkan for years now, as have some of the other players on our team, and his work ethic

>>>>COACH’S <<<< >>>> CORNER <<<<

Girls’ basketball varsity head coach Maggie Dyer talked with staff writer Steven Fitzwilliam

What are your goals for this year?

How are you going to go about achieving this?

Our number one goal is to win the region. The girls’ team has never won the region or been to a State final. Obviously we’d like to win States, but getting there comes first. This year we have five returning girls and seven new girls. The biggest thing we have to do is come together and gel as a team. With over 50 percent of the team being new, getting everyone on the same page takes time. We have some team building workshops coming up that will help.

What has the team been doing in the offseason? Some girls have played in both fall and December leagues. We have also held conditioning three times a week focusing on lifting, running and plyometrics. Which returning player(s) will have the biggest impact this year? Gabby Flinchum led the team in points and blocks last year, and is returning this year as a junior. Jessica Welch was our second leading scorer, so we are also expecting a lot from her. Iris Cheng came off the bench for us last year and contributed greatly as well. And Danielle Khattar, our only returning senior, worked really hard in the offseason and has showed great leadership abilities.

Which new player do you expect to step up this season?

How would you describe your coaching style?

What do you think of the Ladies Men?

It’s tough to say at this point. Sophomore Evelyn Ting is new to the program this year and has played strong. Right now I’m still waiting to see who emerges. I’m definitely intense. I have a huge passion for the game. Each practice is a competition, and they’re all run at game speed. I also like to think that I’m democratic in that I let the team make a lot of decisions. I let the players set the goals for the season and pretty much run the team, and then I hold them accountable. It’s as much their team as it is mine. I absolutely love them. They make a huge difference. They become that “Sixth Man,” they energize the game, and they really give us that home court advantage. I’m lucky to have them. It’s great for the program, the school, and athletics in general.

rubs off on all of us,” Weis said. “He is the hardest working athlete I’ve played with ,and it’s pretty amazing how much he has improved.” Geramifar is a unique individual whose perserverance and determination are unmatched.

With young talent, Indoor Track looks to build on last year’s success Will Browning staff writer With over 100 participants each season, indoor track is able to maintain solid leadership, while keeping an excellent foundation built of underclassmen. “We have a strong team this year, with strong senior leadership,” sprinting coach Barbara Gatewood said. “Leadership roles come at a premium, but many seniors have grasped every opportunity.” With the girls seeking to maintain their title as county champions, the boys look for another successful season to build on. “All the seniors that groomed us last year are gone,” junior Earl Lee said. “There’s going to be a lot of runners coming into their own, and we’ll have to cope with the losses.” The departure of graduated sprinters Aaron Fagon and Andrew Van Haren as well as distance runners Kevin Butts and Jake Danoff will be felt. However, a strong group of underclassmen hope to keep the Patriots running strong and give the boys’ team an extra boost. Field events will be vital to the team’s success this year. Senior Matt Gordon will anchor the squad this season by leading the shot put event. Sophomores Will Severynse and Daniel Nozick also look to build upon their success last year on the varsity team. They have much to offer the team in field events. Despite star junior Olivia Ekpone’s transfer to Northwest last season, the girls’ team looks to be in good shape this year with a strong core of underclassmen. Senior runner Corinne Duvall believes the team is just as strong without Ekpone. “[Olivia’s loss] doesn’t really matter,” Duvall said. “[The team] gained a lot more strong sprinters to fill her spot.” Valuable sophomores include Grace Corbett and Casey Dowling. Both Corbett and Dowling were vital contributors during last year’s girls’ County Championship. Dowling looks particularly strong this year in both the 55- and 300-meter dash, along with the long jump. Corbett excels in the 500-meter dash and the 800-meter run. Both are expected to be serious contenders to place in their respective events. Seniors Andrea Maxwell, Annie Munro and Katie Falk and junior Maya Walsh also need to have fast starts if the Lady Pats want to achieve early success. Still, the Lady Patriots were ranked third on a pre-season Indoor Track poll on The team’s first meet, scheduled for Dec. 5 at the PG Sports & Learning Complex, was canceled. The Patriots look for future meets to showcase their fresh, young talent. “We have been working with freshmen and sophomores on the relays,” Duvall said. “We think they will be able to contribute a lot.”



Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Student leaves ID at home, eats Air Force Ones for lunch Demetri Tzamaras blippoty blop Controversy was sparked among Wootton students and cafeteria staff Wednesday when sophomore John Kraggle did not have his student ID with him as he attempted to buy lunch. “I got to the register with my french fries and chocolate milk, but the lady wouldn’t let me pay,” Kraggle said, as he let tears flow down his face. Kraggle begged and pleaded with the cafeteria worker on duty to simply let him punch in his ID number on the pad, but the worker would not let him. “I’m just not allowed to do that,” Ms Judy Woo later commented. “It’s an administrative policy, and I don’t have any say in it.” Desperate for food and water, Kraggle wandered the cafeteria, asking his fellow classmates for morsels of their lunches. “He came up to me, and he was deprived of all energy. His figure was thin and emaciated,” senior Anne Trogden said. “He asked me for some carrots from my lunch, but I hadn’t eaten all day, so I didn’t give him anything.” Kraggle had eaten nothing all day, and his fifth period lunch would eventually come to an end. He knew he had to eat something, because school rules prohibit eating in class. “I was really hungry,” Kraggle said. Without much time to spare, Kraggle took off his shoes and grabbed a knife and fork. Kraggle was seen biting at the tongue of his right shoe and cutting up the soles with his knife. “I saw him sitting by himself and he was slurping up his shoelaces like spaghetti, so I pointed him out to my friends and we all laughed him,” junior Brian Macintosh said. Kraggle, desperate for any sort of nutrition, chewed away at his $135 Nike Air Force Ones. He gnawed up the clean white leather, tore up the sole, and swallowed the tongue in one bite. “It was a sacrifice I had to make,” Kraggle said with tears in his eyes. As the bell rang to end fifth period, Kraggle was finishing his shoes. “They weren’t that bad, but I got really thirsty,” Kraggle said. His now unquenchable thirst was all he could feel. “I really

wanted chocolate milk, but I couldn’t get any without my ID, so I went to the water fountain,” Kraggle added. As soon as the fountain water hit his lips, Kraggle knew he was making a mistake. “That was the worst water I’ve ever had, but I drank it because I was so thirsty,” Kraggle said. The toxic-tasting water left an aftertaste in his mouth that seemed spawned from the darkest depths of Hades. Kraggle’s shoe-eating dilemma left him barefoot for the rest of the day. He was mocked and ridiculed by all his peers, who showed no mercy. “That kid John Kraggle is so antisocial and lame,” freshman mathlete Zachary Hallows said. “You’d have to be a weirdo to walk around without shoes,” sophomore Betty Salzano said as she attempted to signal aliens. Kraggle’s mother is furious. “Who let him eat his shoes? The school is supposed to watch my son! And the water! The children should have the cleanest, most crystal clear water that nature and modern technology has to offer,” Mrs. Kraggle said. Mrs. Kraggle is meeting with Principal Dr. Michael Doran on Friday. Kraggle has since gotten over the traumatizing experience that occurred on Wednesday, but he still does not understand why he could not purchase his French fries and chocolate milk without his ID. “I have the money in my account…isn’t the money what they want?” Kraggle asked. “It’s not like someone would memorize my ID number and use it to steal food from me each and every day. That’s just cruel,” Kraggle said.

U.S. Mint Runs out of Gold Coin, Fingers Point at Lucky the Leprechaun Drew Endick Hermit and numismatist In recent weeks, the stockpile of Bald Eagle gold coins at U.S. Mint offices has shrunk dramatically, forcing prices of the trademark coin to sky rocket and U.S . demand for gold to increase. Despite widespread rumor that the Mint simply sold out, allegations of a mysterious thief have been proven true by security footage. Federal Bureau of Investigation chief video examiner, special agent, Edward McClay, has accused Lucky Charms mascot, Lucky the Leprechaun, of armed robbery. According to McClay’s report, Lucky broke through one of the Philadelphia Mint Office’s front windows, and continued to throw several thousand of the gold Bald Eagle coins into his seemingly small yet endless pot. “To be honest, I was not surprised to see Lucky in the video. What I was surprised at, however; his pot remained empty of any sort of charm or prize the entire time,” McClay said. Lucky was summoned by the FBI early next morning and was immediately put to trial and found guilty. He is set to serve twenty year sentence in Guantanamo Bay. “Lucky’s pot of gold is rather blunt, and magical, an unstoppable and potentially deadly force,” McClay said referring to Lucky’s startlingly long sentence. “We do not consider mystical beings citizens; we had no choice but to put him in Gitmo.” Even though the leprechaun was arrested and admitted the crime was his own, he denied several

questions about the mysterious disappearance of the coins into his pot and where they may be located. “My client cannot and never will respond to the public demand for returning the coins,” defense attorney and Lucky’s advisor Mark Rigington said. “They are his lucky charms now.” In result to the first cooperation between federal agents and cereal mascots, a search team has been formed in hopes of finding the coins, which are worth over one billion dollars. “Usually I follow my nose wherever it goes,” head of investigation, Toucan Sam said. “But gold just isn’t fruit loops.” Sam’s team consists of McClay’s men and contractors from the private sector such as Tony the Tiger and Captain Crunch. Despite the obvious skill of the team, no progress has been made by any member. Both the search team and the public, however, remain optimistic about the lost currency. “[The FBI’s] public approval is good right now,” McClay said. “Requests from the public to join the search are pouring in by the hundreds.” The defendant, however, remains content and assured that his gold, like always, will remain where he left it. “They’re always after me lucky charms,” Lucky said. IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: NonSENSE is Wootton’s premier page forhumor,absurdism,andotherrandom musings.Hopefully,littleinthesearticles is factual. Please direct comments to

New Moon: Money well-spent or Homewrecker?

Why can’t my life be this awesome? My boyfried is lame and could never fulfill my wants. Not only are Jacob and Edward smokin’ hot, but they have many of the traits I’m looking for in a future lifetime mate. They’re witty, gentle, protective, chivalrous, handy and alluring. But what’s up with Bella? She just whines the entire movie about how much her life sucks, because she has two guys that are in love with her. Well, maybe Bella would like to trade places with me. I spend my nights doing homework and hanging out with this loser sitting next to me. I bet Edward doesn’t wear the cheap cologne he does.

This movie explains why girlfriends suck. She owes me for sitting through this crap. I am almost glad that the screaming audience has blocked out the terrible dialogue. Why do girls want us men to be vampires anyway? Can vampires even climb trees? This whole idea does not make any sense to me. If I were to be a mythical creature, I would definitely be a centuar. Those things are freaking half horse and half man. That’s sexy to me. Well, at least I know how to feed the fire tonight: the Twilight series I gave to my girlfriend. It hasn’t left her night stand since our anniversary...from two years ago :’(



Common Sense - December 9, 2009

SPOTLIGHT ON: Singing sensation Jenay McNeil Samantha Ritwo arts editor

Although “Aida” tells the tragic story of two star-crossed lovers, the cast is able to keep their hopes up and spirits high thanks to the bubbly and lively aura of senior, electric-bluemascara-wearing, PS3-playing, Virgo Jenay McNeil, who is playing the role of title character Aida. “She’s always very excited and energetic,” senior and assistant stage manager Aaron Fensterheim said. “I think Jenay is mega-magnificent.” McNeil, born in Detroit but raised in Maryland, is known in the Wootton theater world for her fun quirks and positive attitude. “I think Jenay is really fun-loving, and she really enjoys whatever she does. She can work hard when she needs to, but also she knows how to have fun,” junior ensemble member Gavin Kramar said. “I love the fact that she wears her glasses on a chain like a grandma,” senior and props girl Julie Arbit said. McNeil is not only fun to work with, but also extremely talented vocally, already receiving praise and recognition. “She has an incredible voice, and hearing her, I could’ve seen her on Broadway doing this,” co-director Ms. Jacqueline Serratore said. “The audience is going to be in for a real treat, seeing those little glimpses.” McNeil started her Wootton career off strong as only one of three freshmen cast in musical “Children of Eden.” Since then, McNeil has also been in “Sweeney Todd” as an ensemble member, “Honk!” as the bullfrog, “My Favorite Year” as an ensemble member, “Grease” as Jan, and “Beauty and the Beast” as a “silly girl.” “It’s a small part, but you know what? You make the

photo by Vivian Chen

Ensemblemembers lookon as McNeil practices her lines.

most of the parts you have onstage,” co-director Mr. Adam Graham said, reminiscing about the most recent show he has done with Jenay, “Beauty and the Beast.” “She made the most of it. They were funny, those three girls. A lot of that was Jenay, too.” McNeil does not have a favorite show, but she does have fond memories from them all. She does have a favorite role. “I really loved being the bullfrog. That was fun. It was like short, sweet, to the point,” McNeil said. “I had a really cute costume. It was like a little green tux.” McNeil has already played the role of Aida this summer through the Summer Musical Theater Institute at Blake High School’s production. “It was kind of like the dream role since I was a freshman,” McNeil said. With former choral director Carla Ingram’s departure, McNeil doubted that she would get her chance to play the role. “I did it there [at Blake], and you know had a good time, but completely forgot that it was even a possibility here,” McNeil said. McNeil heard the good news during the summer from junior T’Ziano D’Affuso. Although rumors were circulating that McNeil was a shoe-in for the lead role, she still took her audition seriously and professionally. “I think it’s a really great opportunity for her,” Graham said, regarding McNeil having already played the part. “She gets to work with two different directing teams on the same role. That sort of input, that sort of involvement, and that sort of take on one role I think is a great and rare opportunity.” Despite her previous work, McNeil does not let it get to her head, and she is still receptive of any advice she is given. “She’s very easy to work with,” Graham said. “She doesn’t assume she has all the answers, but she’s not afraid to make the choice, and that’s really good.” Serratore agrees. “She takes the blocking and takes the critiques and improves and works on it,” Serratore said. “It shows a mature performer and not somebody that I would think is high-school level.” McNeil discovered that she could sing when she was trying to impress a friend in the third grade. When she was younger, she did not want to be a performer, but rather an ice cream scooper because of the free ice cream. However, McNeil kept seeing shows, both on the high school and Broadway level, and they continued to attract her to the theater community. “I just want to be like everyone on Broadway, like everyone who sings,” McNeil said. “I [also] saw ‘Seussical’ [at Wootton], and I was like, ‘That looks like so much fun,’ and I had to be a part of it somehow.” Another source of inspiration for McNeil is her uncle. “My uncle is an amazing singer. Hearing his voice at a funeral was really moving,” McNeil said. “I really wanted to be able to use my voice like he did.” Since discovering her passion, theater has been a constant part of McNeil’s life. In sixth grade, Jenay played Ms. Hannigan in the Creative Theater Workshop’s production of “Annie Jr.,” and she also participated in her middle school’s

photo by Vivian Chen

The ensemble surrounds McNeil during “Aida” rehearsals.

annual show “Dessert Theater.” The summer before “Aida,” she played Angela in Wildwood Summer Theater’s production of “Parade.” McNeil also took voice lessons at MTC for a year and improvisation classes at Roundhouse Theater in sixth grade. Now, theater is an undeniable part of McNeil’s life, and it is not something she intends to give up. “I still want to do [theater] no matter what,” McNeil said. “No matter what, I’m going to do it somehow, even if it’s not a profession.” In terms of future plans, McNeil is not quite sure what lies ahead with college, but this does not seem to faze her. “Honestly, I haven’t known what I’ve wanted to do ever, like in college at least. I kind of just want to go with the flow and see where it gets me,” McNeil said. Although McNeil is very dedicated to theater, she also manages to find the time to commit to other extracurricular activities. She is a member of National Honor Society, Tri-M, Hindu Culture Club, the all-female a capella group Acabellas, and the Drama Club (of which she is President). McNeil helps teach music to her fellow Acabellas, and last year at the Wootton A Capella Festival, McNeil won an award for best solo during a cover of Rihanna’s “Disturbia” with the Acabellas. McNeil also emceed last year’s International Night, and she formed a step team her sophomore year. McNeil learned to step at her church, where she is a member of the choir. “I like singing gospel, because you can just do whatever you want,” McNeil said. McNeil also has her share of unique activities; she knows how to do Brazilian Jujitsu, and she is still a Girl Scout. She can also beatbox and sing at the same time. “My favorite part about working with Jenay is that she is awesome. I mean she’s just the best type of person to be around,” fellow troop member senior Caroline Canter said. McNeil’s schedule may be overbooked, but at the end of the day, the general consensus is that she is the perfect choice for her part. “Jenay has a lot of energy when she’s on stage, and she always has a lot of fun at rehearsals. She’s a lot of fun to interact with, and she always brings a lot of life to the stage,” Kramar said. “I’ve watched Jenay’s growth; I’ve watched her confidence; I’ve listened to her voice as it has progressed, and I think that all of that comes together through this role,” Graham said.

You actually can take it with you: School play provides laughs all around Azzah Ahmed managing editor In this year’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You,” the Wootton Arts department astounded crowds with an amazing performance once again. With outstanding actors, “You Can’t Take It With You” is a show that took the audience along for an enjoyable and compelling ride. The story follows the lives of the members of the Sycamore family, living in New York City. The patriarch of the family is Martin Vanderhoff, played by senior Alex Garretson. Vanderhoff encourages his family to live by their own rules. His goal is for his family to live however they please without worrying about society’s scrutiny. For example, his granddaughter Essie (senior Claire Mauro) has been training to be a ballerina for eight years. Despite her perseverance, her improvement has been minimal. However, oblivious to the demands of her pressuring family, Essie remains blissfully unaware of her lack of skill, and remains enthralled with dancing. The plot thickens when Vanderhoff ’s other granddaughter Alice (junior Helena

Farhi) falls in love with Tony Kirby (junior Gavin Kramar). Kirby is the son of the very wealthy owner of Kirby and Co., Anthony Kirby (junior Devin Goodman), and his wife Miriam Kirby (senior Faith Nelson). As the story proceeds, Tony proposes to Alice, and they plan for their families to meet each other before the wedding. Alice convinces her family to put a hold on their eccentric ways for an evening to entertain the Kirbys and ensure that the marriage will go on as planned without scaring the Kirbys away. However, when the Kirbys arrive a day early the Sycamore family is caught unprepared. Seeing the Kirbys, Alice’s mother Penelope Sycamore (senior Mikaela Katz) jumps into action. She pulls together dinner with some help from the family maid and cook Rehba (junior Lauren Fagan) and her boyfriend Donald (sophomore Mitchell Myers) and tries to create a ‘normal’ atmosphere for the families to mingle. While the families wait, they play a word association game that exposes the true nature of each of the families; the Sycamores are the content ones, while the Kirbys are really the ones with problems.

This leads to tension between the families, resulting in the Kirbys’ disapproval of the marriage. However, in the end, Tony and Alice reunite, and the Kirbys accept the unconventional manner of the Sycamores’ lifestyle. “The audience really loved it, and we have had so much performing for them,” Farhi said. Overall, “You Can’t Take It with You” provided an entertaining show filled with laughter and fun that is great for the whole family. The actors delivered an amusing performance and kept the audience in stitches. “I think that we had a lot of energy. We really fed off the crowd’s reactions to what we were doing,” Kramar said. “We were really able to get into the characters and enjoy ourselves on stage.” The students casted for their individual roles worked harmoniously to deliver a great show and keep the audience entertained from the beginning to end. “I think that this show was perfectly casted; there was no one that had a flawed performance, and everyone was great,” Garretson said.

This production features incredible acting by all members of the cast from junior Divya Mouli’s portrayal of a drunk, washed-up actress to senior Andre Silva’s acting as the ballet instructor Boris Kolenkhov. Garretson shines as Vanderhoff, and as a veteran of Wootton productions, he convincingly depicts the role of the lovable “Grandpa.” “It was probably one of the most fun plays I have ever performed. It was really a great experience,” Garretson said. “You Can’t Take It With You” was performed on a high level not only on stage, but technically as well. “I think the show was really good. It was an interesting show, and the set turned out really well,” senior stage manager Dahlia Ting said. “The cast had a lot of fun with it and a lot of energy.” “Overall, we did really well; for some reason we had one moment when one of the microphones kicked off, and other than that it went well,” senior head of sound Wolfgang Devine said. “The actors did a really phenomenal job; they had a couple of little mix ups, but they covered it up really well with the improv.”



Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Students prepare with high hopes for “Aida” Samantha Ritwo arts editor For anyone who loves romance and love triangles, fight scenes and evil schemes, rock’n’roll with an African flare, classmates performing dances in ancient attire, or any combination of the above, the upcoming school musical “Aida” promises to entice from the beginning. This “timeless love story” takes place in a time where the Nubians are at war with the Egyptians. The Egyptians capture several Nubians, including Nubian princess Aida, although she keeps her identity a secret. The captain of the Egyptian army, Radames, immediately sees something “special” in Aida. However, not only is their love forbidden, but to make matters worse, Radames is betrothed to the Pharaoh’s daughter Amneris. Radames’ father, Zoser, is so determined to ensure his son’s immediate marriage that he will do whatever it takes, with dire consequences. Upon discovering the capture of their princess, the Nubians turn to her for hope of freedom. The story line progresses as Aida and Radames fall in love, but the question becomes, is this another happily ever after? Senior Jenay McNeil plays title character Aida. Starring alongside McNeil in the show are seniors Jonathan Helwig as Radames and

image courtesy of Andrew Consroe


Jordan Smilan-Goldstein as Amneris, and juniors Joey Horwitz as Zoser and Jeffrey Popkin as Mereb, a Nubian slave who tries to be loyal to both Radames and the Nubians. “It’s all J’s,” co-director Ms. Jacqueline Serratore joked, pointing out that all the lead actors’ names begin with the letter “J.” “They work together well. They balance well together. Their voices mesh, so they do really well singing wise, and then acting [wise], a lot of the parts just fit them kind of perfectly with their personalities.” Serratore has been co-directing alongside Mr. Adam Graham. While Graham was working on the recent play “You Can’t Take it With You,” Serratore was focused on teaching all of the music to the cast. Now, the directors are more concerned with blocking and smoothing out the scenes. “This is a dramatic piece; it’s an acting piece, and these people…really suited their parts well,” Graham said. “Since we have such strong singers in the show, it sounds great.” “Aida” is a modern take on an old Italian opera with the same name. The music was all composed by Elton John, and all the lyrics were written by Tim Rice. “It’s all very rock based,” sophomore Evan Rindler said, “but it tries to do different things. There’s sort of like a Motown piece, there’s a reggae piece…every piece has a little bit of something Egyptian in it, because it’s an Egyptian play, but it goes over a wide range of different rock types, rock ballads, things like that.” Rindler is a member of the pit, playing the drum set. The pit for this show, unlike the cast of approximately 30 people, is much smaller, with around 10 students participating. “It seems small, but we sound good,” Rindler said. In 2000 “Aida” won a Tony award for Best Score.

“I like the music a lot in general, because it’s very contemporary,” Graham said. McNeil agrees. “I could listen to the soundtrack forever,” McNeil said. The set for the show is relatively straightforward with a block-like layout, and it is primarily stationary, except for a couple of smaller set pieces. “There are multiple platforms with multiple levels in order to give depth to the set as well as give lead roles a chance to stand out from the other characters,” junior Andrew Consroe said. “The set is very versatile in that it doesn’t insinuate a very specific setting, so we use it when they’re in Egypt itself, and when they’re in a museum…it’s very multi-purpose.” Consroe is master carpenter for the stage crew, and he works first-hand with the set plans, even using a computer program called Sketch-Up to create a 3-D model. “You can look at how the set is actually going to look before we build it, which is a cool feature,” Consroe said. A unique challenge the production teams faces this year is that “Aida” opens the weekend after winter break, making that first week back to school “tech week.” Tech week is the time when cast, crew, and pit come together to rehearse the show all the way through multiple times, often staying at school at least until 8 p.m. “It’s not an ideal situation,” Graham said, “but I think we’ll be able to make it work.” Graham’s goal is to have the week before winter break serve as a “mini tech-week,” so that everyone will be fully prepared after winter break.“It’s a pretty intense rehearsal schedule,” McNeil said. “We’ll be ready.” Originally, Graham had already chosen “Little Shop of Horrors” to be the fall musical. However, due to the scheduling conflicts, it seemed a difficult choice. Then,

photo by Vivian Chen


a professional company in Washington, D.C. contracted the show, restricting any nonprofit productions. “When ‘Little Shop [of Horrors]’ fell through, [Aida] seemed like an obvious fit,” Graham said. Despite any obstacles in their way, the cast is working hard and having fun. “It’s a lot more work than I’ve done for any of the other shows,” junior and ensemble member Matt Cho said, “[but] it’s definitely going to be worth it.” Graham just hopes that the enthusiasm spreads to the other students. “I feel like we always do shows with a mind that we want to appeal to our own students, and yet I don’t think that a lot of them take the chance of coming and seeing why we’re doing a show,” Graham said. “This is one of those shows that if kids like things like the ‘Twilight’ series coming out, there’s no way they wouldn’t enjoy this. This is about two young people who are in love and the odds are in their way, and it’s very dramatic. The music is great, so [the students] should come and see it.” “Aida” will run Jan. 7-10 in the auditorium. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $12 for reserved seating. “It’s just a really catchy, fun show with great numbers, and it just really has a great feel for especially a fall musical,” Serratore said.

Orchestra concert hits all the right notes Asian American dance Anna Agarunova staff writer What better way to start off the winter season than with the beautiful musical stylings of the Wootton Concert, Symphonic, and Chamber Orchestra? Last Thursday, Dec. 3, students, staff, and teachers had the opportunity to enjoy assorted classical and modern masterpieces, in an annual concert held in the auditorium at 7 p.m. “We [did] a lot of folk music at this concert,” orchestra director Ms. Carolyn Herman said. “Not American folk–the themes and composers are from the early 20th century, so it’s nationalistic music. It’s a period of time in the arts where people were creating music that they felt represented their country or was of a certain origin.” The concert began with a beautiful classical piece by the concert orchestra, captivating audience members from the first note. The first song performed was stylistically impressive and pleasing. According to Herman, their music a romantic Paganini variation, and a contemporary piece called “The Odyssey,” which is based on the epic poem of the same name. Another piece performed was a beautiful melody titled “October,” which as the name suggests, was meant to be played in the fall, but unfortunately the Wootton Orchestra was unable to perform the piece as they had intended a few months ago. Despite the out-of-season performance, “October” was a hit in December. “I’m really impressed by how well the students mastered the music,” parent Sandy Boyson said. “It’s not just the technical quality, but it’s the emotional quality of the pieces. I think that they really express so much emotion in the music. I just listened to the “October” piece, and it just brought back all the feelings of autumn, changing fall leaves, and life moving into a different time. It was wonderful.” Symphonic orchestra continued the concert with a more contemporary piece, written by a composer Eric Witacre. According to Herman, Witacre originally wrote choral music, and toyed with the idea of writing string literature on an assignment. His first attempt at orchestral

music was a piece titled, “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas.” The symphonic orchestra performed one of his later works, a 3-movement song called “Choreography.” Solos by senior Cally Deppen and freshman Jeffrey Yang especially received praise from audience members for impressive skill and mastery. “Cally had a more substantial viola solo in Symphonic orchestra,” Herman said. The Chamber orchestra has two pieces of nationalistic folk music, one by Gustav Holst and the other by William Grant Still, who was actually one of the most prolific African American composers in the era. Their second piece had a Celtic flavor, like an Irish jig. The pieces are very different, and beautifully performed Thursday evening. At the end of the concert there were two combined pieces with the orchestras, one being a Mendelssohn symphony, and the other combining Symphonic and Chamber orchestra, and some wind players in Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, which is based on the life of Count Egmont. “The music is very bold, very loud, very Beethoven,” Herman said. “It’s very in your face, and in the end Egmont is actually killed, so there’s a segment in the music where you can tell that’s where the story takes you.” The shows preparation included constant rehearsal and student practice at home, in order to perfect the sound quality and overall precision of the pieces performed. students practiced for weeks in the orchestra room, learning their respective parts and memorizing the classical works they performed. “We rehearsed since the beginning of school, and most of the classes knew more music the what was performed,” Herman said. “Some of the pieces we’ve looked at since day one, and others are really knew - like one piece I just passed out to the concert orchestra 3 weeks ago. The music is pretty challenging.” “It was complicated getting everyone in and out because we had so many people playing in one night,” senior violist Alexander Boyson said. “It was quite difficult, but I’d say the concert went really well, all things considered. We had a great show.”

“bursts” through with style

Melissa Frohman arts editor Wootton’s Asian American Club (AAC) hosted their ninth annual dance, “Burst,” on Friday, Nov. 20 in the Wootton gym. AAC is known around the county to host this event every year and welcomes students of all nationalities and from different schools between the ages of 14 and 19. “Think of it as homecoming on a much smaller scale,” senior vice president Christian Ko said. AAC was established in 1997 to enable students of all races to come together to have a good time and escape their hectic schedules. The club, sponsored by Guidance Counselor Wendy Kiang-Spray, usually meets once a month, and information regarding upcoming events is discussed. “This is a ‘feel good’ kind of club, it is very relaxed and fun,” AAC senior president Amie Park said. Ko and Park agree that the club is open to all students, even if they are not of Asian heritage. AAC’s annual dance is the biggest event of the year for the club. Profits from the tickets, as well as food sold at the dance, will be evenly distributed between two Wootton clubs dedicated to Asian relief. Ai Xin helps raise money for impoverished children due to disaster in China, and Liberty in North Korea (LINK) raises money for North Korean Refugees and to raises awareness about the human rights crisis in the country. This year, about 78 students attended the dance. In previous years, the turnout has been greater. A pre-planned dance competition between five groups of two to five students took place at the dance. Each group was judged by AAC officers and rewarded based on their performance. Additionally, prizes were rewarded to those students who were the “best dressed” and the “best dancer.” After the groups performed, the dance floor was opened to all students. AAC treasurer senior Austin Lee came up with the name “Burst.” AAC chooses a new name inspired by motion or movement each year. In past years, the dance has been called “Rush” (2008) and “Impulse” (2007). AAC hopes to continue their tradition of hosting the dance each year in November. Meanwhile, they will continue their charitable mindset by sponsoring other events once a month. This winter, AAC plans to invite its members to go bowling and lasertagging, followed by a trip to Six Flags in the spring.


Features Common Sense - December 9, 2009

photo courtesy of Operation Fly, Inc.


Operation Fly combats regional homelessness

Allie McRae features editor

What started as a simple concept to help the less fortunate has grown into a multi-branched student-run organization, Operation Fly, Inc. Senior and President Tim Hwang and senior and Chief Event Management Officer Minsoo Han founded the organization in 2007 when they realized they shared a common interest in helping the underprivileged. “I came from a family that did not have access to amenities that most members of the Wootton community are able to enjoy,” Han said. “My first-hand experiences with poverty

prompted me to do something about the issue.” “We started by going to DC in small groups to help the homeless, and then it eventually grew into an organization,” Hwang said. Since its beginning in 2007, Operation Fly has hosted many fundraisers. The Backs for Packs fundraiser includes backpack donations from corporations or individuals to the organization for distribution in Washington D.C. Also, in partnership with an organization called Byte Back, the company teaches the homeless community basic computer skills, and is also planning to help them with drafting job

applications. Members of Operation Fly regularly visit shelters to help out. Last year the organization collected over 4,000 articles of clothing through the various fundraisers. “We get the majority of our things through donations where people directly give us blankets, sheets, etc.” Hwang said. The organization has expanded across the nation. Operation Fly is now located in Chicago, Baltimore, New York and Washington D.C. and hopes to expand further to Detroit, Los Angeles and Houston. “We’ve put a heavy emphasis on expansion this past year, and we’ve been working really hard to stabilize these other branches,” senior and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Ma said. “It’s really exciting to work with new students around the country in order to battle poverty in inner cities.” Expansion and success are more difficult because the organization is completely student-run. “Because Operation Fly is solely student-led, we make all the decisions and decide the future of the organization,” Ma said. “It’s a breath of fresh air in a world full of rules, and I am always excited to work with my peers to come up with creative ideas for the organization.” Organization can be difficult because Operation Fly is run only by students. Nonetheless, Operation Fly is divided into departments such as Human Resources, Event Management and Public Relations, each with their own responsibilities. Generally, each subgroup meets weekly with monthly meetings for the entire organization. “Every time the organization succeeds, we are overjoyed because we plan and execute the programs ourselves from beginning to end,” Han said. Operation Fly is now planning for their annual Sheets for Streets program, a national clothes drive. All of the collected items will be passed out to the homeless. “It’s really rewarding when you pass out the food and clothing to the homeless and see how happy you make them,” Ma said. “After talking to them, you get this feeling of satisfaction that you are really making an impact on others’ lives.”


Tim Hwang

Allie McRae spoke with Student Member of the Board and Operation Fly president, Tim Hwang, in a candid interview. Hwang was elected SMOB this April and must balance his time carefully so he can complete all of his tasks. What is one thing people don’t know about you? The one thing most people don’t know about me is that when I’m not working, I’m just a normal kid who likes to hang out with his friends. I’m not some superhuman that churns out work 24/7. That and the fact that I’m not too great of a driver. What is your schedule this school year? This year I take Anatomy, Senior Seminar and AP Biology. I took over 22 AP Exams: two freshman year, nine sophomore year, and 11 junior year. I took 15 in school, two online and self studied five. This year I take five classes at Montgomery College this year. Since college classes are very flexible, when I am not going to classes, I go to meetings and am sometimes invited to go to schools to speak during their lunch.

How do you balance your schedule? At the Board of Education, I have a couple of secretaries who help me out, but I do the majority of the scheduling by myself on my computer. Personally, I have a specific calendar that I use. I put everything on my computer and connect it to my phone, which calls me when I have a meeting. How did you get interested in running for SMOB? I became very involved in the Democratic Party. I was Regional Director of Students for Barack Obama and was serving as Vice President to the County SGA. I realized that becoming Student Member of the Board could really help achieve students’ interests. Do you have any plans as SMOB? Right now, I only have two main goals: 1. To create a two-way communication street for students and the SMOB 2. To get the SMOB the right to have their vote counted on issues like the Budget, Boundaries, Union Contracts, and school closings. I’ve worked very hard to create something called the SMOB 2.0 Initiative, where we have one representative from every high school and middle school and a central staff communicating it. I’ll be fighting very hard to maintain our current budget to protect programs, and I’ll be looking towards expanding cell phone use during lunches. What are your responsibilities? I have to attend Board functions to vote on policies, appeals, union contracts, etc. To be able to vote on these things you have to keep up with the news constantly, so MCPS comes to my house everyday with a thick packet of briefing notes and memos that I have to read every night. I also get between 80 and 200 emails a day on issues from the community so I have to respond to those. I am required to be a voice for my constituents so I have to meet with them constantly and hear their concerns. Upcoming SMOB meetings: December 16, 2009: 7 PM SMOB 2.0 Town Hall March 17, 2010: 7 PM SMOB 2.0 Town Hall March 26, 2010: 7 PM SMOB 2.0 Town Hall At 850 Hungerford Dr Rockville, MD

Hwang’s Favorite Things Food: Pizza Band: Relient K

Song: Down by Jay Sean, Pressing On by Relient K Movie: V for Vendetta, National Treasure TV show: The West Wing, The Office Activity: Watching Movies, Listening to music Book: Dante’s Inferno, Audacity of Hope Subject in school: Government and History


Features Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Wootton divided over role of marijuana from MARIJUANA, page 1

them without judgment. “I treat it like they made a mistake,” Melvin said. “Everyone makes mistakes. [What matters] is if they learn from their mistakes or keep repeating them.” Senior Elena* feels that marijuana use is more prevalent in the Wootton social scene than other sources acknowledge. She believes that at least half of juniors and seniors have at least experimented with the drug. “I mean, [overly studious] people may not have [used it],” Elena said. “But everyone else has tried.” She is also under the impression that some students smoke at Giant or in the woods near school premises. Elena started using marijuana while in New York during her sophomore year. She started using the drug on a regular basis last winter. Over the summer, she was smoking four or five times a day. This year she smokes once or twice a month. “[Getting high] isn’t exciting anymore,” Elena said. “There’s a high cost, and when you get high you get hungry like crazy. You eat everything.” Due to her parents’ lack of experience with the drug, Elena was able to smoke freely in her room, because her parents did not recognize the smell. She told her parents the unfamiliar aroma was incense. She funded her habit using money her parents gave her for good grades and meals at lunch. Elena estimates that she has spent around $800 funding the habit and has only made between $200 and $300 selling marijuana. While Elena was learning to drive with a permit, she also taught herself to drive under the influence. “I would never drink and drive, but I learned to drive stoned while my dad was [in the car with me],” Elena said. Now when she is stoned, Elena drives once around her neighborhood to determine if she feels fit to drive longer distances. Andy, who has also driven after smoking marijuana, is usually unfazed by possible consequences when getting behind the wheel. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 4-14% of drivers who sustained injuries or died in traffic accidents tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Another senior, who has only smoked four times since leaving middle school, John,* waited four hours for the drug to wear off before driving. John felt that the negative effects of marijuana use have prevented him from consistently seeking it as a source of entertainment.

“[Smoking marijuana] was kind of fun, but it messed up my lungs,” John said. “I ran the day after, and it didn’t work well while running. I couldn’t finish practice.” Although John sees the real consequences that can arise with smoking, he remains nonchalant about his experimentation with marijuana. “I didn’t know about [marijuana], and my dad always said try everything and find out what you like,” John joked. Andy believes marijuana poses less of a threat than other drugs. “[Marijuana] is nowhere near as addictive as any other drug,” Andy said. “It can’t kill you unless you do something while under the influence. I would not push anyone to use it.” Melvin feels that one of the major risks that come from marijuana use is the shortness of breath experienced by John, along with other, more serious consequences. “You may think you’ll just smoke a little weed, but it can lead to something worse. [Marijuana] kills lung cells,” Melvin said. Twelfth grade administrator Ms. Renee Negin recognizes the potential for unique health risks for different students, such as John’s difficulty exercising. “You never want to consume anything when you don’t know how it’s going to react in your system. I have seen students who have been affected negatively by using marijuana,” Negin said. “I don’t think [students] can learn or succeed to their highest potential when under the influence.” Senior Malida Tadesse has several friends who both smoke marijuana sparsely and use it on a more regular basis. For her, the negative consequences of using the drugs have kept her from experimenting with it. “[Marijuana] is just not worth the time,” Tadesse said. She also has seen the lifestyle that friends often adopt after they start smoking. “Once they started, they moved on to harder drugs,” Tadesse said. “There are no positive consequences of [using marijuana].” Melvin echoes the concern that marijuana often acts as a gateway drug. “Students keep smoking until they want something else,” Melvin said. Wootton provides many resources to prevent students from making the mistakes Melvin alludes to. Negin feels that the Student Assistant Program (SAP) and health classes provide students with valuable information regarding the consequences of drug use. “Health teachers do a good job teaching about risks,” Negin said. “[Faculty] certainly counsel students if we believe there is a problem.” *Names have been changed.


By The Numbers

According to a 2008 Monitoring the Future study by the University of Michigan: ~ 32.4% of high school seniors reported that they had used marijuana in the past 12 months ~ 42.6% of seniors reported that they have used marijuana at least once ~ The past-month use of marijuana of high school seniors increased from 12% to 19% from 1992 to 2008 ~ The reported past-month use of marijana reached a peak of 37% in 1978 and was a low of 12% in 1992. According to a study by the United States Bureau of Justice Services jointly with the Department of Education, 83.9% of seniors reported that they could obtain marijuana easily In 2006, Drug Abuse Warning Network reported that marijuana use was involved in 290,563 emergency room visits based on information from the US Department of Health and Human Services In the Surgeon General’s Warning against marijuana use, it is reported that the drug causes: ~ short term memory loss ~ slowness of learning ~ impaired immune response ~ possible adverse effects on heart function ~ decreased sperm count and motility The surgeon general says that children and adolescents are more vunerable to the drug’s behavioral and psychological effects.


Features Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Spin that record, Mr. Disc Jockey

Wootton DJs mix it up at parties for students Demetri Tzamaras staff writer

All Grown Up

Emily Burklow and Eleni Kessler managing editors The holidays should be a time of joy, not a time of sorrow. Students should be home with their families chasing that warm fuzzy feeling so familiar to us during December. They should be baking sugary treats with their mothers or watching Claymation films on ABC Family. They should not be doing 20 projects all due within 48 hours of each other. It’s ironic how every year during what is supposed to be a season of peace and love, the universe conspires to ruin your life in the most slow, thorough and utterly painful manner possible. Teachers assign projects that may require very little brainpower but are so tedious that they consume all of your time and energy. Cutting and pasting pictures onto poster board. Traveling for an hour and a half to photograph animals that you can see on the Internet. Sitting at your computer coming up with that perfect color scheme for your PowerPoint presentation. All completely pointless. All failing to demonstrate any knowledge we actually have. Teachers think they are doing us a favor by giving us a “creative outlet.” We’d rather write that in-class essay or take a measly quiz. The academic torture of these tasks may be brutal, but at least it’s quick. Those projects are like malicious boa constrictors wrapping themselves around you until they squeeze out every breath of life you have in you. We hesitate even to begin to mention stress from colleges. Those admissions boards must have something against Santa Claus, because they really like to steal his thunder. December 15 is decision day (a new kind of D-Day). This is the day that some students are finding out about the schools of their dreams. These are schools to which they have applied early decision, signing financially binding contracts. This day, buried in the midst of holiday bliss, has the potential to make or break a student’s year. While decorating your Christmas tree or lighting the menorah, how would you like to receive an e-mail that reads, “Sorry. You’re not good enough?” For those students who have applied early, the idea of this letter hanging over their heads this holiday season can drive them to insanity. People talk about saving for college or a nice car. Little do these modern wise men know, this economic recession applies to teenagers too. Let’s just say the babysitting market has been a bit dry this season. Now, we’re just as broke as Fannie and Freddie. Here we are being tantalized by the media, not by stick-thin models (self-consciousness is so last year), but by the charms of the newest iPod or flashy cell phone. As we watch those suave yuppies frolicking around to the latest indie tune chosen by Apple, we ache to join them. Then we cry. Retail therapy is a thing of the past. During more prosperous times, we always thought we were above material goods. Well, we’re not. We don’t mean to complain in this most holy of seasons. Of course, we’re still thankful for our loved ones, our health and the advantages that we do have. In the face of adversity, sometimes the only medicine left is a cup of hot chocolate, a plate of latkes and a precious little gingerbread man. ‘Tis the season.

Hundreds of students at Wootton have jobs. Most kids work at restaurants or grocery stores to make some spending money. Some students tutor their peers and babysit younger children for extra cash. However, a handful of students take a unique approach to making money: disc jockeying at parties and events. Seniors Aaron Fensterheim and Wolfgang Devine work as disc jockeys (DJs) and they love it. “It’s fun,” Fensterheim said. He enjoys being able to do something that not many kids can do. “It involves music, and photo courtesy of Wolfgang Devine not many kids get the chance to do it,” SeniorWolfgangDevineusesup-to-datetechnologytocreatemixesforhisjobasadiscjockey. Fensterheim said. his friend. When that friend stopped as it sounds. “I like music a lot, and so it’s a DJ-ing, Fensterheim bought all the “It’s not that complicated,” great way to share music with people,” equipment from his friend because he Devine said. “You have to engage and Devine said. Music is a strong influence thought it was a sound investment. watch people’s reactions and gauge for both of them. Being a DJ requires a good their taste.” Devine particularly enjoys the amount of equipment. “You’ve got Being able to give people the music fact that disc jockeying is a live a PA, a couple speakers and an amp, they want to hear is an important activity. “The performance aspect a computer, and I use this controller aspect of a DJ’s career. is nice because you’re out there called Xponent and a software called Fensterheim enjoys being able to performing, but you’re not at the Torq,” Devine said. Xponent is a two- play the music he likes, but says clients center of everything like at a play or a channel DJ mixer that allows the DJ can sometimes be difficult to deal concert,” Devine said. Performing and to access digital files, and Torq is a with. “People go crazy about it and try projecting a “DJ persona” allows the software that offers creative options, to make it go exactly how they see it in DJ to express himself creatively and to such as music mixing, to the DJ in real their eyes, and it doesn’t it always work put on a show. time. like that,” Fensterheim said. The DJ Disc jockeying keeps the two Devine works from his computer has creative control and plays what he busy as well as satisfied. Fensterheim without CDs or records, which was feels is appropriate. works an event almost every other until now an untraditional way of According to Devine, catering week and sometimes multiple times storing music. Devine commented that to the clients is still very important. per week. The workload does not the technology DJs use to perform is “You’ve got to play music everybody bother him though, because being a shifting. In fact, renowned DJ Tiësto else likes,” Devine added. While DJ is profitable. “It’s a nice source of recently switched from CDs to an all- he likes to play the music that he income,” Devine said. digital format. “It’s just a lot easier,” personally enjoys, pleasing the client Fensterheim has been jockeying Devine added. is crucial because the client is the one discs since 2005. At that point, he Despite all the equipment needed who pays the DJ, after all. got a job at a local school DJ-ing with to be a DJ, disc jockeying is not as hard

Take a peek inside the Wootton lunch box Azzah Ahmed managing editor Every day from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. the Wootton cafeteria is packed with students, taking 45 minutes off from their hectic, jam-packed school days. During this time many students catch up with friends, finish up homework, and most importantly eat lunch. The option between bringing a lunch or buying a school lunch is a choice most students make every day. While both hold different merits, many students categorize themselves solidly, into one group or another.

Some students, however, switch between bringing lunch from home, and buying lunch from school. “Some days I don’t like to make my food at night, so I just buy it, but most days I make it,” sophomore Karishma Mathur said. “I always make sandwiches, but usually different kinds of sandwiches.” Many students prefer the variety of making their own lunch, and opt out of the constant cafeteria food. However, others would rather enjoy the pre-prepared food that the school offers, without the hassle of making their own lunch every morning.

photo by Azzah Ahmed

Students enjoy their brown bagged lunches during a typical school lunch in the cafeteria.

“I don’t like to wait in long lines, so I bring a lunch,” Mathur said. The extensive lines in the cafeteria prevent certain students from buying a school lunch, while others choose to wait. Some have even found methods to obtain their school lunch without the delay of long lines, by avoiding the beginning of lunch rush. “Because of the really long lines, the best time to buy it is towards the middle of the period,” senior Chris Fann said. Aside from long lines, many students choose to bring a lunch from home for the dietary value that a home packed lunch provides. Instead of eating french fries, burgers, pizza or ice cream, students who bring lunch from home can bring sandwiches, fresh fruits and vegetables, and salads. “When I bring lunch from home, I feel like I pack a more nutritious lunch,” sophomore Jhansi Kata said. Other students would prefer to enjoy a hot meal that can provide nutrition in itself. “I buy lunch at school so I can get a hot lunch,” Fann said. While underclassmen are prohibited from leaving grounds during lunch periods, seniors with internships or those who are students of College Institute have the unique opportunity to leave school grounds and get their lunch elsewhere.


Features Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Teachers pregnant with perseverence

teachers have supplied me with much-needed chocolate. Ike Onley recently hand-delivered chocolate with bacon. Genius!” Price said. Price said that her pregnancy brought various comments in the hallways. Some of them include “You were born to breed,” “You’re showing signs of the pregnancy waddle,” and “What’s in the English Department water?” Social studies teacher Mrs. Amy Pollin, who gave birth to now five-month old Ella, remembers the hardship that she dealt with throughout her pregnancy. “You’re up there teaching, and if you’re not feeling well, you can’t just go to the office,” Pollin said. After her baby was born this year, Pollin took leave from teaching during the first marking period to take care of her newborn. She still kept in contact with her classes by exchanging e-mails with her substitute. “Because I knew it was going to be a short period, I photo by Daniel Moon could enjoy the time with my Shelbie Webb, six months daughter and look forward to pregnant,preparestowelcome her first child, AustenWarner coming back,” Pollin said. Biology teacher Dr. Rebecca Webb. Firoved left the school last year when her child Evan was born. Before she left school, eating more and spending more time in bathroom were some of the main issues she dealt with. But unlike Pollin, she was only gone for eight weeks because she gave birth during the summer. “[Having the baby during the summer] gives you a chance to bond with your child, along with giving you time for physical recovery,” Firoved said. The H1N1 virus is another problem that pregnant teachers have to deal with. With the flu circulating around the school community, pregnant teachers have to be extra cautious in order to avoid getting the virus. Pregnant women are known to be more susceptible to becoming sick, which can do damage to an unborn child. Despite the difficulties and potential dangers, however, these teachers enjoy overwhelming support from both the students and the other teachers. Some help with naming the child, while others give tips about how to take care of the pregnant body. “I think it’s helpful to be in a work environment where people understand the demands and challenges of pregnancy and motherhood,” Price said. The help from the school, will power, and of course, photo courtesy of Amy Pollin love for their children and students propel the teachers to do AftertakingleavetospendtimewithElla(above)Pollinreturnedtoschool. their best at both jobs. Daniel Moon business manager t is hard enough to be a teacher, spending hours teaching hundreds of kids, grading assessments, and planning for classes. It is another thing to be pregnant, which makes completing day-to-day activities harder, while teaching. Together, the factors create a tough, laborious job that only those who are devoted and persistent can handle. The job is not impossible, though, as the teachers of Wootton prove every day. Social studies teacher Mrs. Shelbie Webb was thrilled when she first found out that she was pregnant. “I was just so excited, but freaked out at the same time,” Webb said. Webb is now six months pregnant and will see her first child, Austen Warner Webb, when he arrives next March. Teaching two AP Government and three Sociology classes, Webb admits that it is hard to keep up with her duties as a teacher while pregnant–especially because she has four class periods in a row. From rushing to bathrooms to simply standing during classes, pregnant teachers have to cope with everyday physical difficulties that other expecting mothers may deal with more easily. When the baby is born, it will become nearly impossible for a teacher to complete her job, since the child needs roundthe-clock care. That is why there is the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides unpaid but job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks after a child is born. Though she enjoys being a part of the school community, Webb plans to leave school for a while to look after Austen. “The students get excited and are very supportive,” Webb said. “I’m going to miss the interaction.” English teacher Mrs. Krista Price, who is now seven months into pregnancy, does not believe that there has been much change in her life at school. However, she remarked that with a “25-pound-boy” in her body, it takes far longer to walk up the stairs. The supportive and enthusiastic school community has helped her in many ways. “Several brilliant (or scared)


Dr. Love With Hanukkah, Christmas, Administrative Professionals Day, Kwanzaa and Secretary’s Day all quickly approaching, I have been getting lots of questions regarding what to get for that “special someone.” Since it is the season of giving, I have decided that I will share with you the secrets of my God-given talent of gifting. Now there are exactly two types of gifts in this world: gifts for men and gifts for ladies. The rest of the information in this installation of my column has been scientifically tested for your enjoyment. The use of this advice has resulted in slaps, break-ups, pinching, screaming, crying, death and tonsil hockey; hopefully your experiences will leave you with the last result (no guarantees). ADVICE FOR CHAPS There are a couple of bulletproof gifts: jewelry, chocolate, and flowers. Using techniques similar to James Bond and Frank Sinatra, find out her favorite types in the flewelate (flowers, jewelry, and chocolate) plan--and “expensive” is not a type. Once you figure that out, it becomes all about presentation. Below are a couple ways to arrange these three objects of desire for your female: 1) The first approach involves flowers on top of a box of chocolate with the jewelry hidden inside. Pro: You get to eat some of the chocolate to make room for the bling. Con: It gets messy, and no one likes a dirt-colored ring. 2) The second approach is all about timing. Give the flowers first, then the chocolate, and just as she becomes a little disappointed that your whole gift cost you $5.25 (LIMITED TIME SPECIAL AT GIANT), you spring the jewelry on her. Pro: If timed correctly, this is the most effective way to have a good holiday. Con: Most of you will screw this up. Period. Just as there are some surefire gifts that you can’t go wrong with, there are some gifts that you will never, ever recover from. Here are just a few: -Cash (really thoughtful). -Any type of homemade certificate -Diet books, fitness equipment, or anything to do with a gym. This will lead directly to, “So, you think I’m fat?” ADVICE FOR GALS Although in 98% of relationships, the guy is a pain, when it comes to gifts, he is pretty straightforward. My first piece of advice is to keep it simple, and my second is to buy him something he can use. The occasional non-tangible gift is never a bad thing for a woman. Wear something you know he likes, and if he doesn’t quite love what you just bought him for Christmas, plant a sloppy one on him to calm the storm. Here are a couple of ideas that shouldn’t require physical contact: -2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur ($202,500). -Tickets to Jay-Z’s Upcoming Tour ($1,001) -Cash For males, gift size does matter, so get something expensive (the more you spend, the more you care). My final thoughts on gifts are rather simple. Ladies, there is no pressure on you, so don’t stress it. For my brethren on the other hand, you have absolutely everything riding on this gift so do not screw it up. Keep on loving, DR. LOVE

Team bonding boosts athletic morale Alisa Sonsev staff writer As a sports team, it is important to have chemistry between players off the field to have them play well on the field. At Wootton, team bonding has been practiced for quite some time and is still carried on through the many students who play sports today. Team bonding ranges from traditional events to new and creative rituals. The most common kind of bonding is team dinners. Team dinners are typically held before or after games. Junior varsity (JV) boys soccer, like many other teams, holds team dinners before every game. “We all learned more about each other and that led to us working better as a team,” sophomore Max Katz said. Along with the usual team dinners, varsity football has their own ways of bonding as well. They have seven-onseven games and tournaments on the weekends in the spring and summer,

football camp in the summer, and gatherings before and after the games. “All of that makes us closer on the field, and it also helps us get to know each other better,” junior Jake Bradley said. Besides simple intentions to improve interpersonal relations, some teams use different methods to better their chemistry. The rituals can even get creative with the hockey team, according to junior Josh Bretner. “We listen to Taylor Swift before every game,” Bretner said. Some of the more original rituals belong to the varsity girls’ soccer team. They have regular team dinners and watch movies, but they have also started a new practice called “Dare Night.” Captains give out different dares to mini teams formed by the girls, and each team has to complete the tasks within a certain amount of time. “Stuff like Dare Night and team dinners makes for really good

chemistry,” junior Kayla Murray said. “We’re really close on and off the field.” The poms squad also dines together before home games and even sometimes has sleepovers as well. More interesting is their use of secret sisters. Every girl on the squad has one or two sisters to whom she gives gifts before all competitions and some home football games. Last year, the poms lost their coach two weeks before their competition. However, bonding off the field proved effective to their success as a team. “Our squad pulled through, and the only way it was possible was because we all love each other and work together. This year, I think it will really benefit us because the closer we are, the easier it is to pump each other up to push through and be the best we can be,” junior pom Marissa Schreiber said.




Common Sense - December 9, 2009

Highlights of Twilight: New Moon leaves little room for compromise Jeanie Kim staff writer “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” the vampire versus werewolf novel-turnedmovie by Stephanie Myer, came to life in theaters on Nov. 20 at the hand of director Chris Weitz. The movie follows the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), an ordinary girl who carries a possibly fatal secret: her boyfriend, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is a vampire. Although Edward never ceases to remind Bella that she deserves a better human than him with overly cheesy yet poetic lines, all is well in their romantic lives until Swan’s 18th birthday party, where while unwrapping a present, Swan gets a bloody paper cut that sets Cullen’s adopted “brother,” Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone) into a violent blood- craving fit. At that moment, Bella finally recognizes the danger behind their relationship that could leave her dead—duh, Edward’s a vampire. The story continues with Bella pictured as the damsel in distress until Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) comes to rescue her from her sorrow. The two grow close through building motorcycles to the point that one cannot help but feel jealous of their bond. That soon changes as Jacob begins to distance himself, leaving Bella alone once again. But unlike Edward, Ja-

cob has a legitimate excuse—he is a new werewolf in unstable condition. The real “fun” starts, though, when Alice, (Ashley Greene) Edward’s semipsychic sister sees a vision of Bella jumping off a cliff. Upon hearing, Edward sets off for Italy to commit vampire suicide at the hands of the Volturi, the closest thing to vampire royalty. Now it is a race against time for Bella to go to Italy to prove to Edward that she is still alive. Following a storyline following a combination of the plots of Romeo and Juliet, Withering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, the movie left the viewers in my theater either screaming their heads off in support of either “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob,” or barely awake as bored spectators. One thing is certain: the movie leaves room for no compromise. For the fans and wanna-be-Bellas, the movie proves to be a true hit, for not a second went by without either Jacob or Edward ripping off their shirts and sending the girls in the first three rows screaming for more—which they get, again and again and again. The movie, however, proves to be a waste of money for others. With a slowpaced storyline and unbelievably fake graphics, the movie is worth sleeping through. Looks aren’t everything when overly dramatic acting, like Pattinson’s, brings on more laughter than sympathy. Whether due to the acting or the plot, the movie is way too predictable and clichéd, copying every cheesy idea of stereotypical fairytales featuring star-crossed lovers saving each other’s souls: OMG, Edward is about to get killed, what does Bella do?! While I am skeptical about dullness of the film, others may call it depressing. Viewers are forced to spend almost half the movie watching Bella wallowing in self-pity, whining non-stop about how life sucks without her vampire sweet- heart. “New Moon” retells the typical high school break-up story stretched over the

photos courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Man on the Moon

Yes, I am a guy, and yes, I saw “Twilight Saga: New Moon.” It was an awful experience for me. I hated “New Moon” mostly was because it is the perfect example of bad filmmaking. What really disturbed me, however, was the fact that the audience didn’t really watch the movie. The title came on screen, and the theatre full of girls let out little gasps of excitement, which I thought was cute. But when girls began to shout at Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner to take their shirts off, I realized that these girls didn’t care at all about any theatre-goers who Ilana Avergun might have actually wanted to watch the editor-in-chief film; they didn’t care about the film itEvery convenience store is fully self, either. What I’m getting at is this: Is stocked with a variety of chocolate Santa film etiquette dead? Is it now okay to shout at the screen options. A half dozen radio stations are and to text and talk to your friends dur- playing carols 24 hours a day. Most TV ing a movie? You go to a movie to watch stations are in the midst of their Christmas a movie. What’s the point of sitting in a countdowns, and we are hard pressed dark room with a giant screen in it if you to find a commercial that isn’t about are going to ignore the giant screen? And it’s not just teenage girls; I have a few Christmas presents or Christmas sales guy friends who like to chat during mov- or Christmas specials. So Christmas is 16 ies, and I have to warn them before a days away. We get it. movie starts that they cannot talk. MovNow don’t get me wrong, I think ies are something to be respected. People that the Christmas season is “the most spend millions of dollars and years of wonderful time of the year” too. The carols their lives to make something that you can watch. If they wanted you to talk, and cards and cooking and commercials are all well warranted, but my countdown they wouldn’t make movies at all.

My Life is Average Avergun

-Demetri Tzamaras

period of about a year. “New Moon” is a battlefield pinning lovers against haters with no one in the middle. One can only hope that the tension between Team Jacob, Team Edward and “Twilight” haters can be settled quietly and peacefully in the mean time until the release of “Eclipse” where fans and haters alike will welcome (spoiler alert!) not a Ms. Swan but a soon-to-be Mrs. Bella Cullen.

“Battle Studies” is a musical wonderland of textures

Katy Tong features editor Given his tabloid fixture relationships, lively Twitter account, and dabbling in fashion and journalism, John Mayer is the all-American media Renaissance man. It should come as no surprise, then, that Mayer’s latest release, Battlefield Studies, is not only—as its title suggests—a heartbreak handbook of fallen romances, but also a study in technical craftsmanship that follows effortlessly from his 2006’s bluescentric Continuum. Clocking in at a little over 45 minutes, Battle Studies is chiefly an exploration through gorgeous textual landscapes. Blending cool retro beats and his famed virtuosity in guitar-playing, Mayer sheds light on universal themes without resorting to the cheesy pop pamperings that so many of his musical peers indulge in. On “Half of My Heart,” Mayer sings an elegant duet with Taylor Swift that deftly combines a modicum of country twang with more popular sensibilities. Though, for all of her own musical success, Swift is clearly underemployed in the song, relegated to providing mere harmonies to Mayer’s blue-eyed croons. For a concept album based loosely on

photo courtesy of MCT

the tired comparison of relationships as a form of physical confrontation, however, Mayer’s innovation as a songwriter is only lackluster. When he recalls the aftermath of a failed tryst in the quasi-ballad “Friends, Lovers or Nothing,” broadcasting that “the streets all flood with the blood of those who felt the same” may be overstretching the already-lightweight metaphor. Still, Mayer’s sentiments appear to be whole-hearted as he soulfully sings in neardesperation, “‘Friends, lovers or nothing, they’ll never be an in-between, so give it

up.” (Presumably, the collapse of his highprofile relationship with Jennifer Aniston had launched the creative spark behind this record.) More interestingly, with his own acknowledgement in “All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye”—“I love you more than songs can say”—Mayer seems to recognize his shortcomings with a tinge of irony. Much better is Mayer’s folk-pop confession of a pot-smoker “Who Says,” where Mayer admits to an unfortunate girl: “I don’t remember you looking any better/ But then again, I don’t remember you.” With delicately plucked acoustic guitar and a feather-light beat, the single is ultimately the classic Mayer experience. Among the other highlights in the album is “Assassin,” one of Mayer’s wittier depictions of love’s battlefield—“I’m an assassin and I had a job to do/ Little did I know that girl was an assassin too.” In his one-man cover of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” Mayer excels at balancing the hard-knocks grit of the blues standard with a sly smoothness that makes it more fitting for Top 40 radio. For the starry-eyed melodies of “Edge of Desire,” Mayer expertly rounds out the set and leaves much to be desired.

clock is just not set to 16. There is no need for me to look past the end of the week because my “happiest season of all” starts this Friday! As studly as Mr. Claus and his stunning red jumpsuit suit are, I am a Hanukkah Harry man myself, and we are just two tiny days away from the annual debut of latkes, lights, and lots of p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s. But come December, Hanukkah seems to fall by the wayside and slip through the cracks of the holiday season. Even though it’s a minor religious holiday, it’s still majorly fun, and majorly forgotten. The latkes and lights are left out of all the season’s greetings and cheer. I don’t know about you, but I would think that a holiday that is eight times as long as Christmas would get eight times the attention. However, that logic just doesn’t seem to stick to the population like Christmas cookies stick to people’s hearts. Check it out. There are currently almost 5,000 Hanukkah videos on YouTube. That doesn’t hold a candle, not even eight, to the 969,000 videos about Christmas. However, there are a few miraculous digital moments that highlight the holiday. Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song, the South Park Hanukkah Carol, and a parody of “Fergalicious” titled “Latkelicious” have all done well in giving the festival of lights its fifteen minutes of fame. I’m not suggesting that Hanukkah is going to catch up with Christmas, but I’m just trying to get the holiday of lights some illumination. So whether your countdown stands at two, sixteen, or your “most wonderful time of the year” comes at a different number, Happy Holidays!

Vol. 39 Issue 3  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you