Class of 2011 savings allow for more activities during senior week

Due to the “boatload” of money the senior class has made over the last four years, their senior week is going to be full of fun activities, many for free, according to the senior class advisor Eric Magers.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

 Due to the “boatload” of money the senior class has made over the last four years, their senior week is going to be full of fun activities, many for free, according to the senior class advisor Eric Magers.

  Most classes are advised to make around $25,000 in order to pay for things like prom and a white water rafting trip, but this year’s senior class has made more than $42,000 due to an abundance of very successful fundraisers, according to Magers.

  “It’s the most amazing fundraising this school has ever seen,” Magers said. “The parents have really united over the years, and students have always been there to help. We wouldn’t be able to do the things we are about to embark on without everyone’s help.”

  Senior week starts on Friday, May 27, with a mandatory Memorial Day assembly at 8:30 a.m. After the assembly, seniors are free to leave until 5:30 p.m., when the buses leave for prom. This year, prom will be at the New England Aquarium. Tickets are $50 for seniors and $70 for underclassmen.

  “I have been getting a lot of complaints about the pricey tickets, but we decided it was worth it for the new, more interesting and exciting venue,” Magers said.

  The senior class will travel to Prince Pizza in Saugus on Sunday, May 29 for a pizza and comedy night. The night is $25 per person and $250 for each bus, but it is all paid for with the money made by the class. Magers received good feedback about the comedy night. “I’ve heard it’s very funny and age appropriate,” he said.

  Next on May 30 through May 31, the class will be going on a white water rafting trip on the Kennebec River in Maine and will be staying at the Northern Outdoors lodge in Forks. The trip costs about $12,000.

  “It is a great way for the class to really bond. There is a lot of ‘remember when’ conversations and a time for the Manchester and Essex kids to reminisce,” Magers said.

  “I am definitely looking most forward to the white water rafting trip,” senior class vice president Molly Friedman said. “The bonding aspect is what really makes me most excited. We are all going to be a lot closer after the two days.”

  The senior class begin the day  with a mandatory graduation practice on Wednesday, June 1and then at 10 a.m., the seniors will leave for their Six Flags trip until 8 p.m. The class funds cover the cost of about $29 per person.

  A mandatory athletic and academic awards ceremony is held on Thursday, June 2. After the ceremony, seniors will attend another graduation practice and then a potluck lunch at Tucks Point, put on by the senior parents. Later that night at 7 p.m., the Baccalaureate ceremony will take place in the high school auditorium.

  Graduation will be held at the Joseph Hyland Field on Friday, June 3, from 5:50 to 7:30 p.m.

  “The time we have all been waiting for will finally be here. I cannot wait to walk across that field in my cap and gown,” senior class secretary Grace Gillette said.

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Soundwaves, band, chorus to showcase talent, songs at spring concert

Featuring an array of songs, the band, chorus, and a capella groups will perform tonight at 7 p.m. All students will showcase talent that has improved throughout the year, according to band director Joe Sokol.

By Rebecca Lynch

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  Featuring an array of songs, the band, chorus, and a capella groups will perform tonight at 7 p.m. All students will showcase talent that has improved throughout the year, according to band director Joe Sokol.

  “The band is playing better as a group now. They’ve gotten better at balancing and observing dynamics. It’s great to be able to perform when we’re playing at our highest level of the year,” he said.

  According to Sokol, the band will perform the same setlist as they did in Montreal, including “Beatles’ Gold” and “Raider’s March.”

  “We’ve added a medley from ‘Grease’ which is turning out to be really nice. I think it’s going to be a great concert. The band and chorus all have a lot of good music,” he said.

  Choral director Donna O’Neil agrees.

  “The students have been dedicated and working for excellence, and I have no doubt that it will pay off,” she said.

  According to O’Neil, the chorus will sing a “beautiful and dramatic” rendition of “There Will Be Rest.” The piece is a musical translation of the poem by Sarah Teasdale. They will also sing “Down to the River” from the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou” and “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon.

  The Soundwaves will perform “No Rain” by Blind Melon, a Billy Joel piece, and “Africa” by Toto.

  This concert marks the last major performance for many seniors.

  “Band is such a family. We’ve had so much fun, and it’s going to be really hard to say goodbye. I can’t wait to give our epic senior speech, with Mr. Sokol quotes included,” senior Grace Gillete said.

  Sokol will likewise miss this senior class.

  “As far as leadership goes, the seniors set great examples musically. The younger players really learn from them. It’s been a blast over the years, I’m going to miss their big personalities,” he said.

  “The senior class has some amazing talent and their shoes will be very hard to fill, both musically and in spirit,” O’Neill said.

  The Soundwaves will also hold a concert on April 28 at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium to fundraise for the junior class. The event will include refreshments and multiple songs.

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ASR speaker presents on dangers of concussions

Dr. Daniel H. Daneshvar of Boston University School of Medicine visited MERHS and presented on the long term effects of brain trauma in athletes on April 14. Dr. Daneshvar is the latest speaker in the ASR Speaker Series.

ASR is a two-year class taught by science teacher Maria Burgess where students learn about what is involved in scientific research. This ranges from reading and writing scientific papers to learning the ethics of scientific research. The highlight of the ASR class takes place outside of the classroom over the summer between junior and senior years; students participate in a 4 to 6 week internship in a scientific field of their choice. After their internships, students are expected to write a paper on their experiences and their research.

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Early Prom stresses are causing unnecessary drama

Prom season has already begun, and maybe a little too early. This year more than ever, people are becoming more obsessed with what they will wear and who they will attend with.

By Ellen Burgess

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Prom season has already begun, and maybe a little too early. This year more than ever, people are becoming more obsessed with what they will wear and who they will attend with.

  Recently, there have been several situations where a boy heard that a girl he wanted to ask to prom is going to be asked in a unique way, but he decided to get to the girl first, usually asking impersonally, such as on the phone. This has created an immense amount of drama throughout the high school.

  Asking someone to prom should not be considered a race. It is not fair for a girl or boy to ask someone simply because he or she heard someone else was going to do it too. If the original person already has something planned, it is unfair to take that away from him or her just because it’s now considered a “race” to see who can ask another person to prom first.

  Along with the race to ask someone to prom, there have been numerous incidents regarding girls and their dresses. If someone wants a dress another girl already has, it is considered “off limits.”

  When it comes down to it, prom is a high school dance. Being formal could minutely change the value of the dance, but numerous people becoming stressed out is ridiculous. People should have the goal to just have fun at prom and not worry about how they are going to do their hair, which dress to wear, or who they will attend with.

  Prom is about having fun, and if someone wants to go with another person that they genuinely enjoy, it shouldn’t matter whether or not going to the dance is considered an actual date. Taking a date to prom is not the most important thing in the world. People shouldn’t consider going to prom with a friend as out of the ordinary.

  The stress about who to go to prom with, who is wearing the same dress as someone else, and how a girl is going to do her hair adds unnecessary stress to what is supposed to be a fun school event.

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Jail trip teaches seniors about consequences of bad choices

Seniors traveled to the Middleton Jail in two groups for the annual field trip that teaches students about poor choices.

By Laurel Edington

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  Seniors traveled to the Middleton Jail in two groups for the annual field trip that teaches students about poor choices.

  Chemistry teacher Keith Gray, who has chaperoned the trip for five years, said, “I think the point of students in general going is to see that they’re one bad choice away from ending up in a place like that. For seniors, I don’t see it as scared straight. I see it as more of a matter of fact: this could happen, just don’t make a bad choice.”

  The first group of students went on March 17 and the other group went on March 25.

  As each group entered the jail, every student went through the metal detector and then Deputy Jason Faro and Lt. Steve Driscoll met them to talk about the jail. They talked about the importance of showing respect to the inmates, which included not yawning, sitting up straight, and not fidgeting.

  Afterwards, the students traveled into the jail to the visitor’s center to meet with inmates.

  Two inmates, Willy and Coco, met with both groups. These two men had over 50 years of time in jail combined because of drug use.

  Each told about how their imprisonment had emotionally hurt their families and themselves. Neither can find a respectable job when they are released and they haven’t seen family members in years. Bubba also met with the second group. He was in jail because he was involved in prostitution.

  On March 17, the seniors weren’t able to go to the control center and walk through the jail because an inmate had to be removed from his cell.

  “The prison staff was going to do a forced move of an inmate, and that’s something that the general public is not allowed to see. It can become violent with the inmate and the staff,” Gray said.

  Students found the trip enlightening.

 I thought that it was a very realistic, tangible experience,” senior Christine Walder said. “The trip made everything about jail more realistic. It also showed that, unlike many TV shows that exaggerate everything, jail is just as bad as it is made out to be, if not worse.”

  Senior Noah Prince said the trip was fascinating.

  “It was all very interesting, and some of it was very sad or disturbing. I couldn’t really feel any connection to what they were saying, as I will almost certainly never be in their position,” he said.

  Assistant Principal Paul Murphy said that the trip is a valuable experience.

  “I think it’s important for everyone, not just students, [visit] prison because one bad decision could send any one of us there,” he said.

  Freshmen will be visiting the jail on April 8 and May 6.

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Underclassmen, seniors should take final at same time when in senior classes

Underclassmen who are either looking for a challenge or want to double up in a subject and are taking classes with seniors should be able to take the final early with the seniors before S.C.O.R.E. starts.

By Laurel Edington

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  Underclassmen who are either looking for a challenge or want to double up in a subject and are taking classes with seniors should be able to take the final early with the seniors before S.C.O.R.E. starts.

  Once the third quarter is over, seniors are no longer in school full time—they are on S.C.O.R.E. and only come back to school to take their AP classes.

  When seniors are gone, teachers either have no students to teach or very few underclassmen left in the class.

  After the seniors are on S.C.O.R.E., the other students in the class should do other educational activities for fourth quarter grades, but they should not have a final on that material at the end of the year.

  Teachers shouldn’t force these students to be tested on more than the rest of the class since these students have already chosen to push themselves intellectually.

  The underclassmen in these classes have done everything the seniors have done and should be tested as such. It’s not fair if they have to take a final on more material with more to study later in the year and have it count the same amount as the final the seniors take.

  Every student in senior classes should review at the same time and take the final at the same time. Younger students should only take the final with the seniors, however, if the class is specifically a senior class.

  For example, honors physics is a class typically for seniors that some juniors decide to take to challenge themselves. On the other hand, precalculus is an honors class for juniors, but some seniors take it based on their schedules from the past three years. The juniors in the physics class should take the final with the seniors, but the juniors in the precalculus class need to take it as a normal final.

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New salad bar provides healthier lunch options

MERHS recently added a salad bar to the dining hall. The salad bar was in the new school’s original blueprints for the kitchen, along with a pizza station, but both were not built due to lack of funding. The school recently received a grant allowing them enough money to build the salad bar […]

MERHS recently added a salad bar to the dining hall. The salad bar was in the new school’s original blueprints for the kitchen, along with a pizza station, but both were not built due to lack of funding. The school recently received a grant allowing them enough money to build the salad bar. Wondering why a salad meal is $3.00, 25 cents more than the usual main lunch? It’s because of the current food (mainly produce) inflation prices. Regardless of the price, the salad bar serves about 30 students a day.

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DECA hosts successful highlighter dance

Students wearing white shirts covered in highlighter and neon paint filled the dining hall during DECA-sponsored highlighter dance, which was held on March 26. Around 120 students attended the dance, which raised around $350, according to junior DECA student, Eliza Rohner.

By Caroline Wood

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Students wearing white shirts covered in highlighter and neon paint filled the dining hall during DECA-sponsored highlighter dance, which was held on March 26. Around 120 students attended the dance, which raised around $350, according to junior DECA student, Eliza Rohner.

  Junior Anya Ciaramentaro said the dance was held to raise money for the DECA program and was an opportunity for the students to learn business and marketing skills.

  “The reason we held the highlighter dance was because it was one of the most popular dances last year,” Ciaramentaro said.

  At the highlighter dance, students wear white or neon colors so that the black lights, or UV lights, make the colors look vibrant.

  The highlighter dance also allows students to wear casual clothes. “It was a nice change to be able to wear shorts and a T-shirt. It was more fun to dance that way,” junior Leanne Ciccone said.

  According to senior Olivia Peterson, she loved the dance because she enjoyed the casual comfort of not having to get dressed up.

  “The atmosphere was so cool it made you forget you were in the dining hall,” Ciccone said.

Student members of DECA decorated the dining hall with brightly colored balloons and covered the windows with black trash bags to make it darker in the dining hall.

  Ciccone said, she liked having the tables set up to sit at when she needed a break from dancing.

  Members of DECA also sold tickets for the dance in school, prior to the dance. “Every student could sell tickets, and if we were able to sell 10 tickets, we could go to the dance for free,” Rohner said.

  The returning disk jockey, DJBJAY, entertained students.

   “I thought DJBJAY mixed it up really well,” Peterson said. “I thought he played a lot of popular songs that the students wanted to hear.”  Songs like “S&M” by Rihanna, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, and     “Blow” by Ke$ha, were requested by the students before the dance on DJBJAY’s website or in person during the dance.

   DJBJAY also gave out party gifts such as glow stick necklaces, plastic hats, and shutter shades.

   “The dance was a huge hit for me and my friends. We enjoyed the whole casual atmosphere about it,” Ciccone said.

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Enrichment Fund provides technologies to younger classrooms

In addition to funding Humanities Week and the sustainable garden at the high school, the Enrichment Fund granted classroom technology in district elementary schools, according to advisory board chair Susan Beckman.

By Kyle Marsh

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  In addition to funding Humanities Week and the sustainable garden at the high school, the Enrichment Fund granted classroom technology in district elementary schools, according to advisory board chair Susan Beckman.

  The Enrichment Fund approved a grant for $40,000 in December 2010 to purchase interactive whiteboards for first, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms, according to Beckman. The boards were installed in January 2011.

  The whiteboards, called ActivBoards, are interactive learning systems that allow students to answer teachers’ questions using a cell-phone sized clicker, according to advisory board member Sandy Marsh.

Fourth-grade teacher Laurie Colpoys added that the clicker system is extremely efficient because teachers can create lessons and questions on the spot, compared to the old system where clicker lessons had to be predesigned.

  The boards also allow teachers to manipulate images and words, customize text, and view videos using the “ActivPen.” The goal of the technology is to access all learning styles for students, according to Beckman.

  “When you look at the 21st century skills, people clearly need to know how to utilize technologies. It engages all the learners and leaves no kids behind,” Beckman said.

  “It is enticing and interesting. It brings learning in front of kids in the classroom the way they are used to looking at a computer at home,” Marsh said.

Beckman said the feedback from teachers has been positive.

  “They say it has really invigorated them. It has gotten teachers that have been teaching for a while excited about teaching again,” she said.

  “[The boards] are unbelievable. They definitely have increased the kids’ attention and interest. Everything is so efficient now,” Colpoys said.

  “All my lessons are right there; it really moves the lesson along quickly. I can’t imagine teaching without it now,” she said.

  The boards are part of the Enrichment Fund’s main plan to fund long term goals for the district through strategic initiatives in humanities, sciences, technology, engineering, and math, according to the Enrichment Fund’s website.

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NAHS students reach out to Japanese citizens

In wake of the destruction the 23-foot tsunami and 9.0 Richter scale earthquake caused, National Art Honor Society members decided to raise money for the devastated residents of Northeastern Japan by selling cards.

By Marian Siljehom

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  In wake of the destruction the 23-foot tsunami and 9.0 Richter scale earthquake caused, National Art Honor Society members decided to raise money for the devastated residents of Northeastern Japan by selling cards.

  Currently the death toll stands at 10,102, with 17,053 still missing, Of the homes still standing, 4.4 million do not have electricity or access to clean water   

  Despite this destruction, Japan is no stranger to earthquakes. For centuries the island nation has suffered the consequences of residing directly on top of the junction of three major tectonic plates.

  After the 1923 earthquake, which destroyed 570,000 homes and lives as a result of insufficient building practices, the Japanese began instituting stringent building regulations, which saved thousands in the recent disaster according to Japanese authorities. 

  In addition to destroying several villages, the tsunami’s path covered a region that is home to several active nuclear power plants. At Fukushima, one of the three reactors at the Tokyo Electric Power Company plant failed to complete the necessary self-cooling process.

  Faced with the possibility of nuclear meltdown and further irrevocable environmental damage, the Japanese government has sent workers to attempt to pump water into the reactors to cool them long enough fix the damage.

  With each day the environmental cost rises as radioactive toxic wastewater from this cooling process is constantly being released, poisoning the scarce available drinking water.

  These nuclear risks, combined with devastation from the quake and tsunami, have made Japan an obvious target for aid.

  In terms of assistance, Japan’s situation is unique in that the amount and type of aid needed is a complex and debatable issue. Officials want to avoid a situation similar to Haiti’s in which donations piled up, creating the need for a massive task force to sort and distribute goods.

  In light of the devastation, members of the NAHS decided to take action. “We wanted to find a way to help those in need while involving art, because NAHS is an art based group,” senor member Alyssa Fabyan said.

  At a recent meeting, the members each designed their own card to represent Japan. Members then sold hundreds cards during the school day.

  Not only has the initiative raised over $300 for Japan, but the cards have “raised awareness by having those who purchased them wear them around on their clothing or backpacks,” Fabyan said.

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