Gym requirements remain outdated and unnecessary

  Rising obesity rates, traditional scholastic values, and perceived student enjoyment are all factors that have contributed to upholding the physical education requirement in schools.

  Yet, with the changing academic landscape placing more weight on grade point averages, students becoming more athletically specialized, and the rise of alternative forms of entertainment to physical activity, gym class has come to symbolize, for many students, nothing more than an unfortunate obligation.

  A modernized approach to physical education is needed to address the changes in the lives of today’s student. Gym class reform should incorporate the needs of the physically inactive, the athletically inclined, and the scholarly student alike.

  While students who do not participate in any form of sports or exercise outside of school need to attend a gym class to maintain good health, most athletes should either be exempt from regular gym activities or allowed to partake in an alternate form of class.

  Not only can athletes become fatigued or injured during gym class, possibly affecting their performance in games, but most athletes would prefer to attend a class specifically with athletes in mind.

  For students with an interest in the field of sports science, a class centered on nutrition, health, and exercise for athletes would help engage students who are tired of the basic, traditional gym class.

  Even a normal gym class could be enhanced by using newer kinds of equipment such as exercise balls, weights, and total body resistance exercise equipment and by teaching a more stimulating health curriculum.

  Currently, gym class serves only to lower grade point averages for students in honors level classes.

  If gym were to become a more curriculum-based class where students could learn about physiology while also exercising and testing out their new knowledge, the academic credits acquired by taking gym could be raised accordingly.

  Receiving more credits while learning new information and trying out previously unexplored exercise techniques will reinvigorate students’ enthusiasm for gym class.


Co-op track

  Manchester Essex track athletes will combine with Gloucester for the second time this upcoming spring. With 12 athletes joining, Manchester Essex will have stronger representation on the team than last year. The girls’ and boys’ teams will be united, for the first time, into one coed team, according to head coach Jeff Destino. 

  Destino was the head coach for the boys’ team last year, but is looking forward to coaching both teams this year. He is not the only coach; Cary Lipovsky, Joe Brancaleone and Packy Fusco join him, specializing in girls’ distance, boys’ distance, and throwing, respectively, as Destino coaches mainly sprinters. 

  Both teams are looking to improve their records this year and possibly even win the NEC conference, according to Destino. He said the boys’ team is looking especially promising, coming off a strong indoor season. He also hopes to send as many individual athletes as possible to the Division I State Championships.  

  Junior Anna Heffernan thinks many individuals and relay teams have a good chance to qualify, including her 4×800 meter relay team.

  Both Destino and Heffernan agree that the co-op has been successful in the past, and Destino is excited about the increased participation from Manchester Essex this year. Heffernan said the program is a great way to meet and get to know new people.

  Junior Erik Rajunas, a newcomer to the outdoor track program, is looking forward to another opportunity to better his own time, coming off the indoor track season.

  Two boys’ and two girls’ captains will return this year: Matt Carpenter, Jacob Holscher, Bianca Giacolone, and Elle Wierbicky (all Gloucester seniors). According to Destino, all four bring maturity to the team and are very welcoming of new team members.

  In the beginning practices, all of the team members will be building up a fitness base and will be focusing on preparing more for the later meets in the season than the earlier ones. According to Lipovsky, as the team gets further in the season, “speed and technique will be highlighted in order to prepare for those meets.”


Reading Memorial High School assistant principal accepts new high school principal position

After a week of principal candidate site visits in both the high school and middle school, the district selected Patricia Puglisi as the new high school principal and Steven Guditis as the middle school principal.

  The school community received the announcement by email on March 8.

According to Beaudoin, Puglisi stood out for her knowledge of the classroom, ability to understand the complexity of the job of principal, and the “skill and grace” with which she does her job.

  “She is someone who really gets invested in the places that she works… she is a very collaborative person by nature who is also good at making difficult decisions when she has to,” Beaudoin said.

  Puglisi, currently an assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at Reading Memorial High School, said her background as a history teacher, student club leader, and school projects initiator has prepared her well to take on the responsibilities of a principal.

  “I think there are always new and interesting challenges facing the school community.  I believe that is important to face challenges thoughtfully and methodically,” she said.

  According to Beaudoin, teachers and parents were impressed by Puglisi’s professionalism and experience but also by her compassion for students.

  “She really gave them a sense that she cares about kids … and will be present and involved in the community,” Beaudoin said.

  According to Puglisi, one priority in creating a successful school is safety and satisfaction of students, which depends on students feeling comfortable at school.

  “The successful school community is a collaborative community focused on what is in the best interest of kids,” Puglisi said.

  Junior Sarah Lewiecki, one of the students who served on the Principal Search Committee, said Puglisi immediately connected with students through her interest in student activities as well as her kindness.

  “She spoke so fluently, but at the same time stayed on our level and related to us,” Lewiecki said.

  Puglisi will likely become a fixture in all aspects of school life, according to Beaudoin.

  “She loves education, she loves working with high school students, and she is looking for a place where she can come and stay for a while,” she said.

  According to Beaudoin, students and parents will have the opportunity to meet Puglisi and the new middle school principal, Guditis, on March 26, from 6-7 p.m. in the high school library.


Lacrosse looks to reach postseason

After finishing last season with a record a 5-11, the boys’ lacrosse team seeks redemption and improvement through the leadership of their new coach John McCavanagh

 The team is still transitioning after losing some key players due to graduation, but junior captain Chris Dumont isn’t worried.

 “We are hoping for new guys to step up and fill those open spots,” he said.

  One of those key players, according to Dumont, is junior Alex Taliaferro, who plays goalie. Senior captain John Beardsley cites him as an important piece to the team, but he said that everyone will be depended on to execute their position.

 Not only does the team want new players to get varsity experience, but both captains expect an improvement in their record. Dumont said that a berth to the state tournament would be surreal.

 A challenge for this team will be the addition of McCavanagh, who previously coached at Boston College for five years. He understands what the team needs to improve on for this year.

 “The team needs to focus on the fundamentals of lacrosse,” he said. “If we can get that down, we can do some damage this year.”

 Beardsley is optimistic about the new coach.

 “Having a new coach is a difficult transition, but he seems like a great coach, and he knows what he’s doing,” he said. “The only challenge will be getting to know him and having him get used to the team.”

 Although he is on defense, Dumont said that the weakness of the team is on offense.

 “Our team needs to focus the most on offense and scoring,” he said. “It should come with a brand new coach.”

 McCavanagh emphasized the importance of building a foundation for years to come in order for the team to be a perennial powerhouse.


“Zero Dark Thirty” opens up Osama bin Laden death details

  Following the revelation of the U.S. execution of distinguished al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, many facts regarding the incident were concealed from the general public. Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) directed “Zero Dark Thirty” in an attempt to expose the public to select parts of what was involved in the highly secretive operative.

  Jessica Chastain (“The Help”) does an excellent job portraying Maya, a CIA agent who has devoted numerous years to the search for bin Laden. The film focuses on her perseverance and high attention to detail, two traits that eventually pay off in finally locating bin Laden. Maya is credited with much of the success of the mission.

  The amount of the movie actually based on truth is a bit controversial; many people claim the discovery of bin Laden was the result of many individuals’ hard work. However, the movie aims to shed some light on the practices of the CIA and how they elicited the intelligence necessary to hunt down bin Laden, an incredible process that took almost 10 years to complete.  

  Unlike many typical Hollywood movies that feel the need to incorporate a love story into just about any plot, “Zero Dark Thirty” refrains from adding romance for entertainment. Though a love story between Maya and one of her coworkers (played by Joel Edgerton) could easily have been developed, the producers make the conscious choice to focus on the series of events, without getting sidetracked.

  The film takes viewers through the entire progression, beginning directly after 9/11 and leading up to the night (May 2, 2011) bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in his covert Pakistan home.  

  “Zero Dark Thirty” is definitely not a movie for the weak of heart. While not exactly gory, the producers do try to keep the film realistic by depicting various torture scenes, as CIA agents try to extract information from former al-Qaeda members, one of the biggest controversies of the film.

  Though these scenes are a bit difficult to watch, they are necessary to stay true to the methods agents actually used to discover information.

  No dull moments exist in this movie, and viewers can expect to be on the edge of their seats almost the entire time. The operation truly was an amazing process, and Bigelow does an excellent job in portraying the meticulousness necessary to track down the most wanted man in the world.

  She finally opens up to the public, at least partially, the highly covert operation that resulted in one of the most impressive U.S. triumphs against al-Qaeda to this day.


Softball welcomes new coach

 Softball, which starts on March 18, will be the team’s first season with new coach Steve Price. Price formerly coached baseball for 20 years and softball for seven years in Peabody

  Though he is new to both the team and program, according to Price, he is looking forward to starting the upcoming evaluation process.

  Senior Nicole Bradley is entering her fourth and final season of softball.

  “Being voted captain by my teammates was an honor,” she said.

  According to Bradley, she hopes to improve upon her speed and agility, as well as her throwing accuracy.

  Price said he has met with the captains and is excited to get to know the rest of the team.

  Bradley said that this year, impact players include herself at second base, senior captain Kelsi Field, center field; as well as juniors Rachael Gallagher, shortstop; and Paige Zaval and Cailey Lafferty, both pitchers.

  Field is ready for the season to begin

  “We’re all excited to get a fresh start this season and work with a new coach,” she said.

  According to Field, even though last year’s record was not particularly strong, 3-16, she hopes that all players will continue to work hard.

  Despite his prior coaching experience, Price said he is nervous upon entering the new position.

  “I’m going to have to learn about the culture of the program, which may be different than my previous philosophies,” he said. “I want honest input from the players, and hopefully I will improve the program through my positive outlook, and enthusiasm for the sport. In softball, you can be down ten runs at the bottom of the 7th inning, and the game’s not over,” he said.



Lockdown drills should be implemented in case of emergency

  Police presence a few days after the Sandy Hook Elementary incident probably caught the attention of most students, yet what new defenses will be implemented at the school to prevent such incidents in the future?

  Along with help from community representative Tom Kehoe, middle and high school faculty members, including both principals, administrative assistants Margaret Driscoll and Mary Lumsden, and the team chair of High School Student Services, Louise Vose, have collaborated to debate this question. 

  These leaders have produced a new plan for general student safety after several meetings, covering a lockdown among other widespread precautions for events such as evacuations, natural disasters, and hazardous spills, etc.

  Though promised earlier this year, a practice lockdown has yet to take place; however, Principal Sharon Maguire said that the school will indeed undergo a lockdown sometime this spring.

  “We haven’t forgotten about it,” she said. 

  Most elementary schools in the district have already started rehearsing a lockdown. Thus, all the more reason for the middle and high school to do the same.

  Another question to ponder is why the school has not exercised a lockdown previous to the Sandy Hook tragedy. Perhaps the probability of such an attack in Manchester seemed unlikely—but now people everywhere, not just in town, have realized the potential threat.

  Administrators, to their credit, have allowed the addition of new alarms at certain exits (even though they have proved more annoying than helpful, as the student body continues to exit through the prohibited doors), along with the buzzer system for admittance through the main entrance.

  The one task they should have accomplished long ago, however, is the incorporation of a lockdown drill to the school’s overall protection methods. Similar to the common fire drill in some senses, a lockdown drill should be no different in its frequent execution.

  If schools promote lockdown drills and make them a common practice of a safe learning environment, they will better protect and prepare their students for the unpredictable.


Girls’ lacrosse prepares to defeat rival team, Ipswich

Concluding last season with a 10-6 record, this year’s girls’ lacrosse team is excited to get back on the field.

  Head coach Sarah Holch predicts the team will “play a more sophisticated game” and is eager to “continue on a path of great lacrosse playing.”

  Last season the team made it to the second round of Tournament, beating Newburyport in the first round and losing to Ipswich in the second round by two goals.

  Senior captains Carolyn Helsop and Olivia Mastendino, both “terrific leaders” according to Holch, are looking forward to a re-match against their rival, Ipswich.

  “Generally, we just want to win as many games as possible, but we all really want to make it to the third round of tournament this year,” Mastendino said.

  It’s a little too soon to tell who will be impact players, but Heslop said, “Taylor Meek will obviously be amazing, along with Brittany Smith and our goalie, Katie Furber.”

  “Lacrosse is such an up-coming sport, so we have a lot of young player that we can train for the future,” she said.

  “We have an amazing group of seniors and juniors who have been key players for past seasons. Our sophomores are extremely athletic and enthusiastic as well as some freshmen. Specifically, our captains, Carolyn and Olivia, will probably be key players,” Holch said.

  The beginning of this season will be focused on re-building the team and regaining the team’s cohesiveness since two out of the three starting defense players graduated last year, Heslop said.


Freshmen Rhuda, Buck star in ‘The Sound of Music’

By Landon Komishane

Freshmen Sara Rhuda and Alex Buck, who performed in Hamilton Community House Theater’s “The Sound of Music” this past month, had a new experience performing outside of Manchester.

 Rhuda, who played Liesl, the oldest of the Von Trapp children, said that the audition process was more critical than other plays.

 “The director, Myriam Cyr, had more input in my singing and line reading than other director I’ve worked with,” she said. “She would stop me in the middle of a scene and tell me how to deliver a specific line, then make me do it all again.”

 According to Buck, who played Friedrich, the production started at the end of October, and the actual performances were March 1-3 and March 8-10.

 Rhuda and Buck are both veterans of Manchester Summerstage, a non-profit theater organization, so they both feel that their experience paid off in their production.

 “[Manchester Summerstage and Community House Theater] are just too different to even begin to compare,” Rhuda said. “I was working with mostly adults at the Community House, and [Cyr] had a totally different method than [Summerstage director] Carol Gambino did. [Cyr] has worked mostly in film, so she knows a little bit less about staging musicals.”

 Buck and Rhuda both have different viewpoints on what they focus on during a musical.

 “Production-wise, I focus on learning the choreography because that doesn’t exactly come naturally to me,” Buck said.

 “During rehearsal, I really try to embody the director’s vision of the play,” Rhuda said. “And when I’m onstage, I try and embody the character that I’m playing as much as I can.”

 Buck said that his experience with this production was surreal.

 “I’ve loved every moment of rehearsal with my cast members, and I’m not really looking forward to it being over,” he said before the performances.

 “It has been really incredible to work with such talented and experienced adults,” Rhuda said. “All the actors were so nice to me and were a joy to work with.”



Teen drivers’ overconfidence can lead to deadly consequences

  Each year, the problem of texting and driving becomes more prevalent, especially among teenagers who are the most inexperienced drivers on the road. Though legislation that has been passed by 39 states making it illegal to text and drive, there has yet to be an effective method of implementing the laws and regulating drivers.

  According to CBS, 24% of all vehicle accidents are attributed to drivers using their phones.

Despite numerous ads, commercials, and even deaths that should raise further awareness of the issue, according to SolarPoweredDriving, 77% of young adults feel confident in their ability to safely text and drive.

  That’s the problem. Until a person gets into an accident as a result of texting and driving, the possibility of an accident ever happening seems distant.

  The truth is, no matter how long a person’s been driving for, all drivers are equally vulnerable to the dangers of texting while driving.

  A person who drives under the influence of alcohol and kills another person on the road can be charged with manslaughter and sentenced to many years in prison. He/she has made a conscious decision to put him/herself and others at risk.

  Texters should be treated no differently. Such accidents are completely preventable and only require the self control of a person to not look at his/her phone. Realistically, how important is the text? Can it wait 10 minutes? Is it worth putting oneself and others at danger for the sake of a text that says LOL or Kk?

  While such heavy penalties are incredibly harsh, fear can often be a wakeup call to people who take the issue of texting and driving lightly.

  An article by Jena Kehoe, published in Web2Carz online magazine, covers the car accident involving Aaron Deveau, an 18 year-old boy from Massachusetts charged with vehicular homicide. He killed a 55 year-old man who was the father of three children. Deveau was sentenced to two years in jail and faced 15 years of license suspension.

  Though two years in jail is not comparable to the jail time sentenced to people charged with first and second degree murder, for an 18 year-old, this penalty can be life-changing. And not only does Deveau face his charges, he is forced to live with the guilt of his actions just as he is entering his adult life.

  While taking those few seconds to look at one’s cell phone after it beeps is incredibly tempting, the prospect of steering off the road or hitting another car should be enough to make a person want to wait until the car is stopped to read or respond to the text.