Students travel to England over April break, catch ‘Wicked’ performance

Shakespeare’s birthplace and Stonehenge were among the sites students visited during April vacation in England.

The 12 students ranged from freshmen to seniors. Chaperones English teachers Mary Buckley-Harmon and Allison Krause accompanied them. They arrived on Saturday, April 13 and departed on Friday, April 19.

“The trip was awesome! It was my first time flying out of the country, and I was with a great group of people as well,” junior Tatum Hosman said.

Upon arrival, the group greeted their tour guide, Rikke, and headed to their hotel in London.  The first full day in London included visits to Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Piccadilly Circus, and Covent Garden.

Monday consisted of more London sightseeing along with an excursion to Windsor Castle where the queen lives on the weekends. To end the day, the group caught a performance of the Broadway show “Wicked” at the Apollo Victoria Theater in London.

“My favorite part of the trip was when we toured Windsor Castle. It was really fun, and we got to see and take pictures with one of the guards,” senior Jackie Rose said.

Expeditions to see Stonehenge and the town of Bath’s Roman baths filled Tuesday’s agenda while Wednesday included trips to the Tower of London and a boat trip to Greenwich to visit the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum. A Jack the Ripper tour concluded the day.

Excursions to Oxford and Stratford to see Shakespeare’s birthplace as well as Anne Hathaway’s cottage filled the last day of the trip.

During the previous trip to London in 2011, the group stayed in Greenwich, but this time they stayed in London, which allowed for more free time.

“One special moment was getting to see Shakespeare’s gravesite. We didn’t have time to see it on the last trip. We also had time to tour the Globe Theater, which we also missed last time.

Krause agreed that the second trip was a success. “The trip was great. We had a fabulous time, and we got to see some things that Ms. Buckley-Harmon and I hadn’t seen two years ago. We had a great group of kids,” Krause said.

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Business club gives first presentation, 12 kids attend

By Fiona Davis

  Starting a new club is no easy task, according to junior Kelly Moore, who recently began the Business Speakers’ Bureau.

  “I have spent a lot of time on this… it is definitely a large time dedication,” she said.

  According to her, students can join the club to meet professionals who have careers in business.

  “Ideally people will be able to come to our presentations to gain a firsthand look at what outside companies do and to learn about the business world,” she said.

  According to Moore, she decided to start the club because of her own interest in a future business career and her goal of providing other students with helpful career information.

  In preparation for the club’s first meeting on April 10, Moore and co-founder, junior Mike Leahy, spent time putting up posters and promoting the presentation, Leahy said.

  “We have done a lot of work with Ms. Maguire who sent out an email to the community…and we have also hung up a lot of flyers,” he said.

  According to Leahy, Moore has been heading up their advertising activities and communications with speakers.

  “Kelly has definitely been leading the club…she is the one who is getting in contact and who established the group,” he said.

  The first speaker was Michael Even, the CEO of the investment company Numeric.

  Even said he was impressed by Moore’s dedicated efforts in contacting him for the presentation.

  “She has been very professional… and very consistent in reaching out to me,” he said.

  According to Moore, 12 students attended the club’s first meeting, and she was pleased with Even’s informative presentation and thought the turnout was good for the first meeting.

  “Mr. Even was a great public speaker, and he educated the whole group about the stock market and gave us some very useful advice,” she said.

  The next speaker, according to Moore, is former student Justin Sandler who founded the company Black Earth Compost. She said she hopes to have the presentation in late May.

 

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Baseball team continues to improve, shows promise

With a 2-5 opening record, the baseball team continues on a path of progress toward another shot at the State Tournament.

  Prior to the first game, juniors Kevin Carter, starting varsity left fielder; and Billy Burnham, first and third baseman and JV pitcher, commented on the relative smoothness of tryouts, noting the lack of cuts from both teams.

  The resulting varsity team, led by captains and seniors Max Nesbit, Jake Fitzgerald, and Cory Burnham, is comprised of mostly the same players from last year, except a few who really “shined” at tryouts, according to Carter.

  One such exception is freshman Brandon Bartlett, the only freshman chosen to play on varsity this year.

  To prepare further for the remaining season, both JV and varsity teams attended multiple morning practices and games over April break at their home field of Memorial Park, Essex.

  Varsity tried to reload after Georgetown handed them an 8-0 loss on April 11 to start the season, according to oach Robert Garrett. Georgetown scored five runs in the first inning; Garrett said it was difficult to recover, especially on the road.

  “It was the first game for many [new] varsity players, so there were a lot of first game jitters,” he said.

  However, the Hornets battled back on April 27 when faced with Georgetown for the second time, defeating them 5-4 and giving them their first loss of the season. Bartlett pitched a complete game, and Cory Burnham scored in the bottom of the sixth inning to seal the win.

  “This is the first time Manchester Essex has beaten Georgetown in a while, [though] I don’t know the exact length of time,” Carter said.    

  The team’s remaining victory was on April 16 in a home game against Lynnfield. Prevailing with a 6-4 win, the Hornets hit in five runs to tie and eventually surpassed Lynnfield’s early 4-1 lead.

 

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Con: Is MIAA’s Zero-Tolerance Policy fair for student athletes?

Stringent rules are often met with resistance by teenagers. The MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) Zero Tolerance policy is no exception.

  According to the MIAA policy, if a student athlete is caught using drugs or alcohol at any point during the school year, he or she is suspended for 25% of the season; a second offense bumps the suspension up to 60%, and a third requires the student to attend a chemical dependency program.

  These rules should only apply to the athlete during the season during which he or she participates in a sport be it one or three seasons.

  Despite the laws in Massachusetts that limit the use of alcohol and drugs, it is naive to think that some high school students don’t drink or do drugs outside of school. Trying to enforce the Zero-Tolerance Policy, a rule that simply reiterates these state laws, throughout the entirety of the school year is both redundant and ineffective.

  Exempting student athletes from the policy during their off season would be significantly more effective because they would be more willing to make a full commitment to their team, meaning not drink or do drugs over the course of the season.

  If a student is not enrolled on a team during a given season, why should MIAA have any involvement in determining the consequences should a student get caught for using drugs or alcohol outside of school? In the case of such an incident, repercussions should be administered solely by the law, not by the state’s athletic association.

  This issue is complex, and there is plenty of “gray” area. Suppose a student is caught using drugs or alcohol at a school function or event during his or her off season. Is it then reasonable to penalize the student’s position and involvement on a team playing, though in some cases, up to six months later? Should there be a separate rule in the occurrence of this type of circumstance?

  According to Paul Murphy, high school assistant principal, the Zero Tolerance policy only occurs in the case of an official police report involving a student athlete violating rules regarding underage drinking or drug usage.

  It is still possible though, for the school to further investigate any photos, videos or overheard conversations referencing or displaying underage drinking or drug usage without a police report, which may or may not lead to a sports suspension, Murphy said.

  Since the policy only applies if the police file a report against a student athlete, the MIAA should not be responsible for implementing any repercussions off season. Law enforcers can take care of this on their own.

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Girls’ tennis team dominates with opening record, sets pace for season

  After finishing their first week of matches, the girls’ tennis team set the pace for the rest of their season by winning both matches against Boston Latin Academy and Hamilton-Wenham, maintaining a 6-0-0 record.

  Because of the late winter this year, the team had to have 5:30 am practices at the Manchester Athletic Club to practice before their first match. Although, according to tennis coach Philip Logsdon, the team’s spirit about it was great and there was very little complaining.girls tennis

  Their first match and win of the season at an away match against Boston Latin Academy. The team won the match 5-0, and the junior varsity team won most of their matches. Returning to the team this year is first singles player senior captain Brittany Collens, who will be playing at New Mexico State University next year.

  “Brittany Collens played Dede, who is another tournament level player from Boston Latin, and traded some wonderful strokes back and forth…some of those strokes were incredible to see,” coach Logsdon said.

  The following day, the tennis team played a home match against Hamilton-Wenham and won 5-0.This was the first time the tennis team played on the new courts in front of the elementary school.

  According to Logsdon, Molly Carlson was very tactical and strategic in how she placed her shots when playing first doubles with junior Rachel Daley.

  “This is one of the first years where we have both strong singles and doubles teams which will create really good results. I can see us winning States this year, especially if we beat Bedford in the North Division,” captain Rachel Daley said.

  The team has a total of 34 girls, 10 as varsity players and 24 junior varsity players. In the Hamilton-Wenham match, 18-20 girls actually got to play, some girls never having played competitively in their lives.

    “With the addition of Brittany Collens and having coach Logsdon step up, our team will be better then ever this year,” captain Michelle Fuca said.

  According to Logsdon, Fuca has a signature spin shot that was spinning better then ever during the Hamilton-Wenham match.

  “The sun was out, we were really happy, and our first week went just as well as we could have imagined it,” Logsdon said.

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Track team aspires to continue success with benefits of new coaching method

  Both girls’ and boys’ outdoor track teams are currently maintaining winning records at 2-1 and have additionally exhibited many strong individual performances, according to head coach Jeff Destino.

   After the three first meets in the season, six Gloucester athletes on the girls’ team are qualified for the state meet: Elle Wierbicky in the 200 meters, Bianca Giacalone in the 400 meters, the 4 by 100 meter relay team of Kayla Nasser, Timia Buckley, Elle Wierbicky, Bianca Giacalone, Liz McCormack in the discus and shot put; and Hannah Pastagal in the discus.

  The team has been so strong in the beginning of the season that Destino believed they could have beaten Danvers, their one loss, had all the athletes been present.

  According to Destino, the new method of coaching involving multiple specialized coaches has been very effective in the organization of the team. He added that the athletes have benefitted greatly from their individual coaches’ expertise.

  Freshman distance runner Charlie Davis said the intensive and specialized workouts at practices have helped him improve from the indoor track season.

  He, along with freshman Megan Clark, is looking forward to the upcoming Freshman-Sophomore meet on April 27 where both freshmen will be able to compete with athletes their own age from a wide array of towns.

  Clark is a newcomer to track but has enjoyed the season so far, improving her times and meeting new people. 

  Destino said they are specifically looking to improve in jumping events, which include the long, triple, and high jumps, as injuries have thinned out the number of participants in that field.

The team is looking to continue excelling at a conference level, according to Destino, as six in-league meets remain before the post-season.

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Sailing starts season with 11 wins, hopes to continue success

The sailing team is halfway through their season, which was packed with several preliminary regattas that have helped to determine how competitive they will be for the rest of the season.

   The team won a recent race, the O’Day Qualifier, by 52 points, which allows them to compete in the upcoming round of fleet race competition in Greenwich, Connecticut.

  So far, the group holds a record of 11-2. Senior captain Brady Winn said he hopes to carry this momentum to bigger victories.

  “We’re out there to sail and have fun and we have a great group which can be really accomplished. For me, I really want us to win states this year,” Winn said, adding that the team has been very close to a state title in recent years past.

  Sailing won another race at Sharon; coach Kevin Dooley said that the team used Manchester Harbor to simulate the more isolated conditions of a lake.

   Sophomore William Kiley has high expectations for the rest of the season following what he considers to be a successful first half.

  “We are fairly optimistic about the second half; however, it will be much more difficult than the first, and achieving our season goals will require a level of maturity and dedication that I feel the team is capable of producing,” Kiley said.

   Important races against Tabor, Sharon, and St. George’s happened on the weekend of April 27. The race against Tabor was a team race, not a fleet race, and Dooley said that this shifted the focus of practice while the team prepared.

  Junior captain Quinn Andersen stressed the importance of the race against Tabor.

  “I think we were all nervous to race against Tabor, especially because we embarrassed ourselves a few years ago by forfeiting and haven’t been asked back to race since,” Andersen said.

  The team lost team races to Tabor and Duxbury, and competed at the second round of the O’Day Qualifier for fleet racing against the 15 best teams in New England.

   Nonetheless, both captains confirmed that they won against Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday and hope to continue their success throughout the next of the season.

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Ultimate Frisbee concentrates more on having fun, working hard

 By Max Nesbit

  With a young group of players this year, the ultimate frisbee team is concentrating more on having fun and less on wins and losses, according to coach Eric Magers.

  “We have won some and lost some, but I really do not care about the outcome of the game. All I really care about is that everyone is improving and that everyone is having fun while they’re doing it,” Magers said.

  The team is young this year, and their goal is not to make the playoffs but to prepare the team for future runs for the playoffs, according to Magers.

  “We definitely have a young team, but it is a team filled with talent. In every grade we have someone who can be a star in the future, reaching all the way down to the middle school. This year we have some really talented seniors as well, but our main focus is on the future at this point,” junior captain Sam Nesbit said.

  Although the team has been successful in accomplishing their goals, there are still many aspects that Magers wants to improve.

  “I would really like to make sure that our program is organized a little better and that we have a more defined A and B team. This is something that can easily be fixed, but other than that this season has been a success,” Magers said.

  Senior captain Alex Walder said, “This is my last year of disk, and I really could not have asked for anything more. I love playing every day with everybody on the team, and we play hard and have fun every day.”

  According to Magers, the team is young, and some key players that have stepped up for the team are eighth-grader David LaForge and senior Audrey Davis..

  “They really stepped up into a key role when the team needed them, and I couldn’t have asked for more from them,” Walder said.

  “Of course my captains have been the real leaders of this team, and I hope that they can only push us more into the right direction as the season continues,” Magers said.

 

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Group travels to France for week-long school trip

  Fourteen French speaking students and their three chaperones took a trip to France during April vacation.

  According to senior Allyson Conway, the group consisted of all French speaking students: four seniors, six juniors, and four sophomores.

  Chaperoning the trip were French teachers Erin Fortunato and Julia Gross, as well as Gross’s daughter, Adelaide, Conway said.   

  Despite the fact that it was rainy and the group was suffering from jet-lag, on the first day the students still managed to see Eiffel Tower and tour around Paris, junior Jeff Durkin said.

  “After staying in Paris for the first two days, we then went to the Loire Valley in Southern France and then north to the town of Bayeux in Normandy,” Durkin said. “My favorite part of the trip was staying in and touring around the cool town of Bayeux.”

  Conway said that some of the landmarks they visited included the Normandy Beaches, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Le Louve, and Leonardo De Vinci’s house. 

  French teacher and chaperone Erin Fortunato said that one of her favorite sights was Mount St. Michelle, which is a little island that, at high tide, can only be reached from a narrow path extending from shore.

  Conway said that she too enjoyed the both famous and historic sites that were toured on the trip, but she also just enjoyed the travelling and exploring new locations.

  “I really enjoyed walking around Paris, as it is so different from U.S. cities such as Boston and New York,” Conway said. “The culture is extremely rich, and there is always something to see or do; one day we watched a street performer do tricks with a soccer ball as he climbed a lamp post.”

  According to Fortunato, in addition to getting a fun and cultural experience, the students were also there to practice their French speaking skills.

  “We had one day where we spoke no English at all, and if a student did speak English he/she had to put 20 cents into a sock,” Fortunato said. “At the end of the day, all that sock money was distributed to people on the streets.”

  Conway said that overall the language barrier didn’t cause them to have any trouble getting around; in contrast, it became a little frustrating when the native speakers would switch over to English simply because it was obvious that the students were tourists.

  Fortunato said that she would like to try and continue this trip for students in future years, as she had such an amazing experience both travelling France itself and getting to know her students in a different way.

  “I thought it was awesome that we were able to implement what we are learning in the classroom to a ‘real world’ situation,” Durkin said.

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Majority of students believe consuming alcohol, marijuana does not affect health, academics

By Maggie Lehar

According to a survey of 398 out of 484 MERHS students conducted to analyze the student body’s views and practices regarding alcohol and marijuana use, 50% of students have consumed alcohol and 41% of students have smoked marijuana.

Seventy percent of students do not think that using alcohol or marijuana negatively affects their health or academic success; however, according to the Center for Disease Control, there are a multitude of risks associated with both drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana that can affect many aspects of the lives of students.

Use of Alcohol

The first question asked students whether or not they have drunk alcohol recreationally; the majority (50%) of students responded that they have drunk alcohol at least once. This percentage is consistent with the results of the national 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, which stated that 51% of high school students have drunk alcohol at least once in their life.

There was disparity between the results from students of different grades in regards to their consumption of alcohol. Less than a quarter of freshman students have drunk alcohol (24%), less that half of sophomore students have drunk alcohol (44%), and a majority of both juniors students (71%) and seniors students (71%) have drunk alcohol.

This data is also consistent with the findings of the national 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey that reported that 7 out of every 10 students (70%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school.

Students were also asked about their habits in regards to alcohol. Out of the students surveyed, 20% of students drink alcohol a few times a year, 30% drink alcohol once a month, and 11% of students drink alcohol every weekend. Less than 1% of students surveyed reported drinking alcohol more than once a week, and no students responded that they drink alcohol every day.

The data showed that out of the students who have drunk alcohol, the majority of students (79%) obtain alcohol through their friends. The other ways of obtaining alcohol students reported were from a parent (9%), stealing (8%), or from a sibling (5%).

The survey also contained questions concerning parents’ views of their children’s drinking. The majority of students (69%) answered that their parents are aware of their consumption of alcohol, and out of the parents who know about their students alcohol consumption, 61% disapprove of it and 39% accept it. Less than 1% of students answered that their parents encouraged them to drink alcohol.

Use of Marijuana

Students were also surveyed about their use of marijuana, with 41% of students saying they have smoked marijuana. In the national 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, only 31% of high school students had smoked marijuana, but the study also explained that this number was increasing each year. The junior class had the largest majority of students who have smoked marijuana, with 56% of students responding that they have. A majority of seniors surveyed (51%) also answered that they have smoked marijuana. Out of sophomore and freshmen students surveyed, 39% and 22% respectively reported having smoked marijuana.

Out of students surveyed, 10% of students smoked marijuana a few times a year, 10% smoke marijuana once a month, 11% smoke marijuana every weekend, 5% smoke marijuana more than once a week, and 2% smoke marijuana every day. This is less than the 4% of high school students that reported smoking marijuana every day in the national 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey.

Most students who have smoked marijuana reported obtaining it from their friends (64%). The next most common source of marijuana for students was dealers, with 35% of students who have smoked marijuana obtaining it in this way. No students reported obtaining marijuana through stealing or parents.

Risks associated with Drinking and Smoking

Seventy percent of students who responded to the survey answered that they do not think that using alcohol or drugs negatively affect their health or academic success; however, according to the Center for Disease Control, there are a multitude of risks associated with drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

According to the Center for Disease Control, youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years. Seventy-five out of the 198 students who reported drinking alcohol said that they began drinking at age 14 or younger.

Other risks associated with drinking alcohol include school problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades, social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities, unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity, disruption of normal growth and sexual development, higher risk for suicide and homicide, and changes in brain development that may have life-long effects, according to the CDC.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, smoking marijuana poses many risks to high school students, including legal problems, problems with memory and concentration, decreased motivation or interest, and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, anger, and moodiness.

According to director of guidance Sherri Lewis-Sholler, the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse in adolescents are apparent in school.

 “Your brains are just now developing so [drug use] affects your ability to focus and concentrate. I find the same thing with students who use alcohol excessively; it impacts brain function as well as other body functions and grades drop,” she said.

According to the survey, 6% of students have come to school under the influence of alcohol or marijuana and 13% have come to a school event under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.

Another major risk associated with drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana is alcohol or marijuana related car crashes according to the AACAP. Fifteen percent of students answered that they have driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and 39% of students answered that they have been a passenger in a car while the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Students who think they might have a problem with drug or alcohol use should let their parents or someone at the school know, Lewis-Sholler said.

 “[Students should] seek out Ms. Aldrich or a guidance counselor so we can get treatment for them as soon as possible,” she said.

Perception

According to the results of the survey, students ideas regarding what percentage of students drink alcohol or smoke marijuana vary greatly. In the survey, students were asked to estimate what percentage of MERHS students drink alcohol: 13% thought less than 25% of students drink, 30% thought 25-50% of students drink, 40% thought 50-75% of students drink, and 18% thought more than 75% of students drink. Students were also asked what percentage of MERHS students they think smoke marijuana. The most common answer was 50-75%, with 47% of students selecting this response. 10% of students estimated less that 25% of students smoke marijuana, 27% estimated 25-50% of students smoke marijuana, and 16% estimated more that 75% of students smoke marijuana.

Of the students who have smoked marijuana or drunk alcohol, the majority of students (77%) said that their main reason for doing so was to have fun.

 

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