Girls’ varsity basketball team expects success in the upcoming season

Practices for the girls’ varsity basketball team started on December 1st in preparation for the regular season. Head coach Lauren DuBois said she hoped the first game on Tuesday, December 16 would mark the beginning of a long and successful season for the girls.

DuBois said this year’s team is “on the smaller side”, which poses several challenges to improving the team. She said fast breaks, rebounds, and the development of a strong defense are some of the more important aspects that the team will be focusing on.

“I’ve been really lucky. I always have a great group of girls that enjoy not only playing basketball but…playing with each other and being on the team together,” DuBois said. She said the girls’ friendships and positive attitudes help with the potential exhaustion or stress associated with a long season and late night practices.

The team went to the tournament last year and ended its season with a record of 13 wins and 9 losses including the playoff games.

Captain Fraley Morton said her long term goal for the team is to go farther than the team had gone in the previous year by making it past the semi-finals.

DuBois also said her goals included making an impact in the tournament. Although she hopes the team will work together as a holistic unit throughout the season, she said the returning varsity players will be the leaders of the team.

She named the players to watch as Senior Fraley Morton, Junior Sydney Christopher, Junior Sabrina Pallazola, Senior Phoebe Biggar, and Junior Kara Hersey.

Morton said that the returning players will bring depth and experience to the team, but was excited to bring “swing players” to play with the varsity team.

“[The team] is good so far…we only lost two seniors last year so we all work really well together and know our roles on the team and have a lot of fun,” Morton said.fraley bball captain


gymnastics cooperative team with Hamilton Wenham is preparing to improve last year’s record

The gymnastics cooperative team with Hamilton Wenham is preparing to improve last year’s record of 1-8 by at least one win.

“The season is off to a busy start,” said coach Elliot Davis.

“This year we have a lot of first-time members on the team so we hope to build a strong foundation for future seasons,” he said.

Senior Lizzie Ranger said her biggest goal for the team is to create unity and to increase participation of team members.

The junior varsity members on the team only practice and do not compete, but Ranger said they are still essential members of the team.

Ranger said she hopes the “JV kids from last year move up to varsity and get to showcase all their hard work at meets.”

“My biggest goal for us for the season is to make sure that everyone gets to compete and show off what they have learned regardless of their skill level,” she said.

Ranger’s individual goal is to “improve her records from last year.”

She said she has been working on routines and skills and is excited about displaying them this season.

Other members who are expected to excel this year are Hamilton Wenham senior captains Olivia Young and Caroline Kerringan, as well as Hamilton Wenham seniors Kirstie Keith and Phoebe Hagberg.

Students from Manchester Essex who are on the team this year had to have been on the team in previous years. The co-op is no longer open to new members.

The team’s first competition will be on January second and will take place in Winchester.

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Gymnastics team hopes to improve participation and better last year’s record

Manchester Essex coop with Hamilton Wenham looks to improve record


Robotics By the Sea starts season off with a win at its first competition

Robotics By the C took first place in the Savage Soccer Robotics Tournament at the Worchester Polytechnic Institute.

The tournament, which took place on Nov.15, included 48 teams total from all over New England.

The school’s team began meeting in early November to put the robot together.

Each team was given a kit of materials to use to construct the robot.

Robots had to pick up Ping-Pong balls and place them in sloped tubes. They could also lift the tube to a steeper angle.

The winner of each round had to have the highest positioned Ping-Pong ball in the tube.

Robots were rewarded with additional balls for accomplishing certain other tasks as well.

For example, if the robot placed a large cube in a certain section of the field, the team would receive an additional four balls in its tube.

If the robot knocked over the ball dispenser, the team would receive one additional ball.

Senior captain Sam Creighton described the team’s approach to the challenge.

“We decided to do it in large loads. We spent a lot of time trying to make it a very fluid design where things happened quickly but also with control,” he said.

The team chose only to focus on moving the balls to the tube, rather than using the alternative methods to gain balls.

The robot the constructed was “about the size of a sheet of paper,” according to senior captain Julia Whitten.

Whitten said alliances are a key factor in robotics competitions.

Each round consists of two alliances: the red team and the blue team. Each alliance has three teams from different schools, but in each round only two of those teams compete.

Each team is on the randomly selected alliance for the qualifier rounds. They then move on to elimination rounds, during which teams can choose new alliances.

“We’ll keep a list of robots that failed in certain rounds and robots that were less reliable to get an idea of what kind of alliance we want to form,” Whitten said.

The team also made two different robots to allow for as many people to be involved in construction as possible.

Team adviser Joseph McDonough said that getting new members more involved is one of the team’s key goals for the season.

Whitten said the tournament served as a great “introduction for the new kids.”

She said this small-scale tournament provided the perfect opportunity to teach new members how tournaments work without overwhelming them.

The Savage Soccer tournament was a smaller precursor to the final tournament of the season that the team will begin preparing for in January.


Creating A Christmas wish list

By Courtney Fraser

Christmas is coming closer, and the wild quest for finding the perfect gift for a loved one, a friend, or someone in your family has begun.

Of all the new, trending products being released into the market, finding the ideal present may seem impossible.

One of the newest pieces of technology released this year was the Polaroid Instant Print Camera. For teenage girls, this would be a present worth waking up early to on Christmas.

The Polaroid Camera sells at a price of $92 and can be found at Urban Outfitters.

For guys, a popular item on their Christmas list may be a pair of Timberland Work Boots. These shoes are sold in various stores such as Macy’s and the Footlocker for $130.

In the subject area of footwear, many girls have shown interest in moccasin slippers found at L.L. Bean for a price of $69. Popular colors for the shoes include graphite or brown.

Stores that supply make-up, such as Sephora, are helpful in finding gifts for girls. A common item seen on many wish lists includes the NAKED Eye Shadow Palette by Urban Decay for $54.

Headphones have shown popularity in recent months among guys, too. At Best Buy, Beats Solo 2 headphones sell for $199.99 coming in a wide selection of colors.

A final present that may be ideal for most guys on Christmas morning is the Apple LifeProof iPhone case sold at Best Buy or online at for $79.99.

These cases are indestructible and protect not only your phone from cracking but also the money that could be spent trying to repair it.


Use of personal laptops by students debated in classrooms

Students’ personal laptop use in class has pros and cons. Some teachers and students find laptops a tool for learning, while others believe the distractions they offer outweigh the benefits.

The use of personal laptops in class is a many sided debate. Certain classes such as history allow laptops for note-taking and classwork, while the entire English department has adopted a no laptop policy for students.

History teacher Lauren DuBois believes that when used correctly, laptops are beneficial for students. “I think laptops provide a great opportunity to give students the ability to research in class and find information and varying sources on their own.”

However, DuBois also feels that laptops can distract and take away from students’ time in class. “The problem is when it becomes a distraction and they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. But if we can focus on proper use in the classroom, I think laptops can be educational tool.”

Many students in the high school use laptops in school daily. Junior Olivia Tyler said that laptops are a helpful tool for students. “Laptops can be very beneficial because they make it easier to quickly type out notes, access the Internet, and organize all of my work.”

Some classes lend themselves to laptop use better than others. DuBois said the history department’s curriculum lends itself well to laptop use. “We do a lot of small research projects, so to have the capacity to look at websites in class and research individually is an opportunity for interactive learning.”

The English department’s no laptop policy is designed to maximize the attention English students give their teacher, according to English teacher Debra Isensee. “I just need your attention for an hour, and I don’t want you distracted by things that quite frankly would be difficult for me not to check such as my email or social media.”

Laptops are allowed for a reason, but it is important for students to use them as a tool and not distract themselves with computer games or non school-related websites during class time.


Band, chorus members receive invitation to Senior Districts

By Courtney Fraser

Five out of nine students from band and chorus were accepted to perform at the 2015 Northeast Senior Districts Music Festival.

The Northeast Senior Districts were open to schools in Northeastern Massachusetts for students who have a strong passion for music on Nov. 15 according to Band Director Joseph Sokol.

“You are dealing with some of the finest singers and musicians who have the opportunity to represent their school districts,” Sokol said.

Junior and band member Alexi Goldsmith-Solomon was accepted as first chair snare drum player for the festival orchestra that will be held on Jan. 11 at Lowell High School.

Goldsmith-Solomon auditioned against 19 musicians at the Northeast Senior Districts. Of the 19 students, only seven were chosen to perform at the festival this winter.

Chorus members being represented at the Northeast Senior Districts include sophomore Jenny Duff, senior Tucker Evans, and juniors Sara Rhuda and Joshua Ward.

“I am tremendously proud of all the students and those who auditioned for Senior Districts and All-States because I know first-hand it’s a great accomplishment,” choral director Donna O’Neill said.

Rhuda achieved a perfect score at the audition. This coming year will be her third year attending the music festival.

“We get guest directors from colleges who know what they’re doing and have a passion for music. It’s a great opportunity to do complicated music with people that want to be there and know what they’re doing,” Rhuda said.

As her teacher, O’Neill said Rhuda has improved immensely in talent over the course of several years.

“I know, personally, how hard Sara works. She has tremendous talent, a pure voice, and puts much work into her passion for music,” O’Neill said.

Of the four chorus students, Rhuda and Evans received All-State recommendations and will be auditioning for the event in January in Shrewsbury.

Acceptance into All-States gives musicians the opportunity to spend three days in Boston at the Seaport Hotel, rehearse at the World Trade Center, and perform at Symphony Hall.

“It’s a great experience for the students, musically speaking. A lot of these musicians are thinking about pursuing a career in music and going to the Northeastern Senior Districts and All-States is highly beneficial,” Sokol said.


Chorus, Soundwaves visit Boston Symphony Hall for open rehearsal

By Amber Paré

Chorus students and members of the Soundwaves took a break from preparations for upcoming performances to travel to Boston Symphony Hall to witness an open rehearsal for performers including cellist Yo Yo Ma, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

According to chorus teacher Donna O’Neill, the rehearsal was open to all high school students in Boston and surrounding areas. Students departed from the school by bus in the morning.

The performance was preceded by a pre-rehearsal conversation between Yo Yo Ma and Andris Nelsons, director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, according to sophomore Dante Lombardi.

“I loved the whole experience…I felt like I really got to know [Yo Yo Ma] even though I wasn’t directly talking to him,” he said.

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Symphony Orchestra later performed a world premiere piece written specifically for Boston’s orchestra.

“The performance of the piece with the composer himself present was a phenomenal experience. Students learned a lot about high-level ensemble rehearsals and what it is like to be a professional performer,” O’Neill said.

Students enjoyed the performance and expressed gratitude for the experience. “I am so thankful that I was able to see the performance. It was very inspiring because I am a performer and a chorus student,” senior Courtney MacDougall said.

Following the performance, O’Neill and chorus members went to Uno Chicago Grill for lunch before returning to the school.

According to O’Neill, members of the chorus and Soundwaves are continuing to prepare for upcoming performances.

The Soundwaves’ December performances include the high school concert, Manchester tree lighting, Essex holiday festival, the Council on Aging luncheon, and an event to benefit Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides Ebola aid.

O’Neill said that she is looking forward to the Soundwaves’ upcoming performances this year and believes that the A Capella group will continue to take advantage of new opportunities.

“The group is doing a phenomenal job keeping up with the performance demand, especially considering that eight of the 16 members are new this year. The group loves to perform and is continuing to work hard, maintain perspective, and have fun,” she said.


Report cards transition smoothly from a hard copy to electronic

By Avery Shaw


To save money, paper, and manpower, both the high school and middle school of Manchester Essex have changed their methods of sending out report cards from a paper copy delivered through the mail to an electronically posted copy.

High school Principal Patricia Puglisi discussed the school’s reasoning behind the change in systems.

“Printing the report cards and mailing them are not very green, which looks bad being that we are a green school, and it also takes a lot of man power and postage to do that on a regular basis. Given that Aspen has that capability for us to be able to communicate that information electronically, we just believe that’s more in line with how people do business these days,” Puglisi said.

This change was influenced by the success that other school districts have had with the electronic system, Puglisi said.

“Both the prior schools I worked at did all communication online in terms of grading and report cards and it is just a more streamlined way to do it, and students do get their report cards more quickly,” Puglisi said.

From a parent’s perspective, the new “frustrating” online system deters from parents viewing their children’s report cards, according to Mary Clunan, parent of a Manchester Essex high school student.

“It affected my motivation to check my child’s report card. Even though I eventually managed to see the report card, it ended up being time consuming. I would get frustrated because I was having trouble figuring out the website,” Clunan said.

Puglisi had anticipated flaws in the system but overall believes that the transition was smooth.

“I think one thing we could have done better is providing more explicit directions on where to find the report card on the student’s page, but overall it was pretty efficient in terms of making sure all the grades were in and getting posted. Certainly there is always room for improvement, and we continue to try to improve in our use of Aspen,”  Puglisi said.

Sophomore Charlie Otterbein appreciated the modern approach to the report card system.

“I like the accessibility of the report cards. I no longer have to wait to see my grades. Considering how everything else is online now, I think it is appropriate to have our grades there too,” Otterbein said.


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Spaulding Education Fund hosts annual Night of Star talent show fundraiser

By Maddie Conway

In order to raise money for the Spaulding Education Fund, the annual A Night of Stars talent show was held in the high school auditorium in front of a full house. This evening of performances took place on Nov. 23.

According to the Spaulding Education Fund’s website, their mission is to “enhance the school’s curriculum beyond the scope of tax-supported budgets.” Spaulding funds programs such as the artist in residence and the various speakers who come to talk to the students and staff throughout the year.

In order to provide the money for such programs, Spaulding hosts fundraisers such as A Night of Stars, which is a display of local talent. A Night of Stars raises a significant amount of the money that Spaulding uses to fund its programs.

The program gives students an opportunity to share their talents publicly and for a cause directly benefitting them.

Led by Master of Ceremonies sophomore Robert Carter, performances ranged from dance routines to duets and piano pieces. Some of the performances that have appeared for many years are the Soundwaves and a troupe of Irish step dancers. Soundwaves sang the songs “No Rain” and “Lonesome Road,” and the step dancers danced a treble reel.

“It is tradition for the Soundwaves to perform at A Night of Stars, and we were representing the school,” said sophomore Jenny Duff.

A Night of Stars is directed by Karen Strating, who used to be an elementary teacher at Memorial School, and Elizabeth Edgerton, an English teacher at the high school. Auditions are held for people wishing to perform; the show this year was narrowed down to 27 individual acts.

“The show is always really well thought-out. The auditions ensure that no one is screwing around,” said sophomore Annabelle Lord-Patey, who has been in the audience for A Night of Stars many times.

According to performers and people in the audience, A Night of Stars is so popular because it uses the talent of students and other people in the area to raise funds.

“When students perform, their relatives and friends want to come see [that student].  Those relatives and friends might invite others to come, and so on, so the amount of people who turn out for A Night of Stars increases exponentially,” said sophomore Nellie Boling, who volunteered as a technical supervisor.

“I think it attracts people because it is so diverse in the acts with so many different kinds of performances,” Duff said.

“I had a lot of fun,” said freshman Caroline Francoeur, who sang John Legend’s “All of Me” with her sister Lily.


Naviance creates competitive, stressful environment for students

Every student entering junior and senior year is introduced to what will quickly become his or her new best friend and simultaneously his or her worst enemy: Naviance.

This program is designed to help students prepare for post-secondary goals. Whether the student hopes to  attend a college or enter the workforce, Naviance is always there whether they like it or not.

Working solely with data from graduated students within the school district and the student’s GPA,  Naviance pairs teens up with possible schools that would be within their reach. Later on in the college process, students can enter the schools they are applying to into Naviance. With this information the program is able to configure a list of how many students are applying to which schools.

Though it sounds convenient for teens to have all the statistics right at their fingertips, Naviance can cause students excess, unneeded stress.

As many juniors and seniors already know, the dreaded college process is truly a beast.

From scheduling visits to grueling applications, college is a massive stressor for teens who already are carrying enough on their shoulders. The high standards set on them to get perfect grades, be star athletes, and spend their limited free time volunteering or studying, students are breaking under the immense pressure. Teens need something that will help them tackle notoriously overwhelming college process in a productive way.

Naviance is meant to be the place that can help teens stay organized and feel comfortable with the college process, but it has proven to have the opposite effect.

Instead of helping students by providing useful information, Naviance creates a competitive and stressful environment.

Though all statistics on the site are anonymous, simply seeing how many students are competing to get into schools adds unneeded anxiety. In a time that teens are already under so much stress, websites like Naviance should be dedicated to eradicating any unnecessary worry.

For students, knowing how many other kids are applying to the same schools as them can be interesting, but it is ultimately nonessential information that only adds another layer of stress to students’ psyche.

This calls into question whether programs like Naviance are actually effective in aiding juniors and seniors with the college process or just causing extra anxiety. When embarking on the treacherous journey of applying to college students shouldn’t pay too much attention to the information on Naviance; their energies are better spent elsewhere.