Humans Of Manchester Essex: Week 1

Inspired by the photo project Humans Of New York by Brandon Stanton comes a new photo series captured by senior Courtney MacDougall. Humans Of Manchester Essex takes a deeper look at the lives of Manchester Essex’s students.

"I want nothing more in the world, but to farm and be humble."
“I want nothing more in the world, but to farm and be humble.”
"My least favorite thing about high school is the amount of stress that you have when your trying to manage all your work, school activities, sports and extracurriculars."
“My least favorite thing about high school is the amount of stress that you have when your trying to manage all your work, school activities, sports and extracurriculars.”
"What is your favorite part about volunteering in the library?"  "Um, hanging out with Ms.Krause. It's really fun, she talks about her new grandchild a lot."
“What is your favorite part about volunteering in the library?”
“Um, hanging out with Ms.Krause. It’s really fun, she talks about her new grandchild a lot.”
"What is your favorite book?"  "I think Soldier X."
“What is your favorite book?”
“I think Soldier X.”
"I don't know what to say."
“I don’t know what to say.”
"It's nice that I am able to walk downtown and go to the beach whenever I want to."
“It’s nice that I am able to walk downtown and go to the beach whenever I want to.”
"After I had knee surgery, I could stick a magnet to my knee and have it stay there."
“After I had knee surgery, I could stick a magnet to my knee and have it stay there.”
"What do you aspire to be?"  "A pilot."
“What do you aspire to be?”
“A pilot.”

"We have been dating for 10 months."
“We have been dating for 10 months.”


Foreign language classes attend International Week presentations

In order to educate students about cultures from across the world, the foreign language department organized International Week at the school the week of March 10 through 13.

According to foreign language department chair Michelle Magana, schools from across Massachusetts celebrate International Week in the second week of March every year.

Magana said that the purpose of International Week is to encourage students to celebrate the importance of speaking different languages, travelling, being adventurous, and learning about other cultures.

Students enjoyed the change from learning exclusively about French and Spanish countries to learning about other countries as well.

“Instead of learning about life in Spanish or French countries, I got to see what it’s like in other countries, which I liked,” sophomore David LaForge said.

To celebrate International Week, students attended presentations with their foreign language classes. Presenters included students, parents, faculty, graduates, and community members.  Presentations focused on countries including Belgium, China, and Ecuador

Magana expressed her appreciation for former students’ returns to the school to speak about their studying abroad.

“Most of our students do not know what it is like to study abroad, and this can spark their interest,” she said.

Students were also given activity packets to compete during the week. Each day of the week was dedicated to a different country, and students were encouraged to wear the colors of the country’s flag, complete a daily trivia question, and eat the country’s food from the cafeteria.

The four featured countries this year were Cuba, Greece, China and Jamaica.

“Completion of the packet varies from teacher to teacher. Some students [compete] against each other, but others may [complete] the packet for extra credit,” Magana said.

Students appreciated the efforts the foreign language department made to educate students about cultures as well as the efforts made by the cafeteria staff to prepare traditional dishes from a different country each day.

“Being able to learn about cultures through presentations [was] great, but I also enjoyed having a chance to answer trivia facts and taste foods I might not have tried otherwise,” freshman Rebecca Braimon said.


Faculty encourage females to take part in STEM classes and programs

In an effort to reduce the gap between men and women in the sciences, faculty members encourage female students to go into scientific programs and classes.

Julia Whitten, a senior who hopes to study neuroscience, said she notices that there are far fewer females in her scientific courses and programs than males.

She was the only female member of the robotics team up until this year and is the only female currently enrolled in ASR 2.

Principal Patricia Puglisi said she notices less female students in classes such as AP Physics or Computer Science.

To promote the field of science, every year a woman in a scientific profession comes and talks to students who are interested.

Puglisi said the school is partnering with Applied Materials, a manufacturing company in Gloucester, to try to encourage females to go into Engineering.

“We unfortunately had a snow day and missed the opportunity to have a panel of woman engineers come and talk about their experience in the engineering and computer science and present to students what offerings we do have here at the high school,” she said.

Puglisi hopes to reschedule this event for some time in the spring.

Science teacher Maria Burgess said she and other teachers try to demonstrate that women can be successful in scientific fields.

“In my and Ms. Everett’s classes, we particularly note the contributions of current and past woman scientists in our bio topics,” she said.

Laurel Edington, a former graduate of Manchester and biology major and chemistry minor at Colby College, said her high school teachers supported her decision to pursue science.

“They always pushed me to succeed, helped me obtain internships, and each one took the time outside of class to talk to me about my career aspirations and offered any advice or help they could,” she said.


Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children put thousands at risk

After the recent measles outbreak in the US, there has been controversy over whether or not parents should be required to vaccinate their children.

Vaccines have been effective in preventing illnesses. According to The Centers for Disease Control, over 322 million cases of childhood illnesses have been prevented due to vaccines in the period of 1994 to 2014.

Though vaccines given to children cannot completely guarantee a child not contracting an illness, The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that most vaccines have a 90%-99% effectiveness rate.

Some parents display concerns about the safety of vaccines, but those who do often do not fully look into research done about vaccinations.

The CDC states that in order for a vaccine to be licensed, it must be tested to guarantee its safety. Testing a vaccine can sometimes take 10 years, and vaccines are still monitored for safety while they are in use.

The most common claim made against vaccines is that they lead to autism; however, this allegation has been disproven multiple times by credible researchers.

Andrew Wakefield, the gastroenterologist who first established the theory that autism and vaccines were linked, was disproven by “at least seven large studies in major medical journals,” according to

National Geographic also reports that Wakefield’s theory was disproven yet again, causing him to loose his medical license in 2010 after it was deemed that his research was “an elaborate fraud.”

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are putting both their children’s lives and the lives of others at risk.

According to, people who have certain allergies, young children, and those undergoing chemotherapy cannot receive vaccinations and are therefore put at risk of contracting a potentially fatal illness from someone who has not been vaccinated.

All parents must immunize their children and realize the benefits that vaccinations bring.


Student Governments

At the beginning of the year, each grade chose their student government leaders to fundraise and organize events for their senior year prom and Senior Week.

In the freshman class, advisers Josh Wladkowski and Kara Brown have been working with the officers Abigail Fitzgibbon, Will Cole, Faith Palermo, and Michael Conlon to raise money for the upcoming years of high school.

So far, they have raised about $3,000 in varying fundraisers, their most profitable being the candy gram fundraiser which involved the whole school buying candy canes for Christmas.

Possible fundraisers the freshmen have planned are a social with the sophomores, a car wash, more raffles, a movie night, and a neon dance, according to class president Fitzgibbon.

Since it is the first year being on student government for the freshman, they have come across a few issues. “The biggest problem that we have encountered as a group is getting everyone on the same page and coordinating ideas,” Fitzgibbon said.

The sophomore class has raised around $4,000 in the past six months through smaller fundraisers like bake sales and selling things at different events around town according to sophomore vice president Zoe Brown. The sophomores also have plans to throw a possible dance and do some raffles to wrap up the year.

“It has been great doing student government this year. I think the group of officers is really organized and we communicate really well with each other,” Brown said.

The junior class has undergone a change in their class adviser because Thomas Durfee left midway through his year to finish up his graduate degree. Coach Bryan Shields and special education teacher Jill Levine took up the positions as the new class advisers.

After three years, the junior class has raised around $22,000. This year in particular their biggest fundraisers have been the holiday gift wrapping, selling snacks at different sporting events, and the Homecoming Dance according to class president Sarah Williams.

Some future fundraisers they have planned are a highlighter dance, a babysitting night, more bakes sales, and raffles.

“Being on student government is such a great experience. I love the people in it and planning events is fun,” junior class secretary Olivia Tyler said.

With their final months of their schooling coming to an end, the senior class is wrapping up their fundraising with around $18,000.

At this point in their year, they are busy working out what they want to do for prom, which this year is being held in Tupper Manor at Endicott College. They are still trying to find a DJ, but other than that they are just finalizing a few minor touches according to class president Meghan Conway.

To get to their $18,000 the senior class officers found their most profitable fundraisers to be the student art auction and a casino night fundraiser they had last year said Conway.

Since it is her final year in student government, Conway offered advice to younger officers.

“The best advice I could give to future class officers would be to start as early as you can and do fundraisers as often as you can. Stay organized and do things that people can be engaged in and excited about,” Conway said.


Boys Tennis

By Lydia Parker


Boys tennis players and their coach Robert Bilsbury are anticipating a successful season, with a highly competitive group of players according to the captains.

Following last year’s 16-0 record in the regular season, the team returns this spring with seven players and three captains: seniors Michael Fuca, Justin Eichenberger, and Winston Feuerbach.

At the State Tournament last year, the team lost to Bedford High School with a score of 3-2.

Though the team graduated several solid players last year, such as Jeff Durkin, the team is strong this season according to Bilsbury, who mentions junior Walter Komishane, and seniors Fuca, Eichenberger, and Feuerbach as several of the team’s impact players.

Bilsbury has many goals as the varsity coach for this tennis season. “I want to really focus on each member of the team working to improve their individual play by picking a goal and achieving it,” he said. He also stresses the importance of each player achieving his goal and focusing on the process not the end results.

“The strength and the depth of our team will be the key to our success this year,” Bilsbury said. He wants the team to work together during the preseason to solidify the lineup of a team that he describes as equal in skill and very solid.

Feuerbach hopes his team will better themselves and see success this season. “I’m looking forward to seeing the improvement of everyone on the team and seeing how everyone develops as the season progresses,” he said.

“Ultimately, our goal is to win a Division 4 State title, but in order to do that, we are going to need to keep our focus and not get complacent,” he said.

Fuca is also hopeful for the team’s success. “I am looking forward to another great season with a skilled squad, and hopefully we can go undefeated once again,” he said.

Eichenberger shares Bilsbury’s opinion of the importance of a team having depth and skill. “I’m looking forward to having a young team with a lot of depth that will make us very successful during the regular and post seasons,” he said.

Bilsbury views the entire team as collectively important, and predicts that the coming tennis season will be a competitive one, as each player will have to compete with one another.


Unusual amounts of snow warrant disposal on Singing Beach

Although it may receive criticism for its environmental harms, disposing of snow on Singing Beach in extreme cases, such as this winter, is a necessary action.

The excessive snow this year caused many problems for Manchester.

Students cannot walk to school because of covered sidewalks, causing lines of traffic to get to school in the morning. This issue has pushed the start time of school instruction back around 15 minutes most mornings.

The snow also affected commutes for residents by negatively impacting the train system and the conditions of roads.

Drivers have difficulty looking around snow banks when making turns and passing other cars on narrow snow-lined streets.

The unsafe conditions on roads also affect the safety of runners on the track team, who use the roads to train.

“[Running] is definitely more dangerous. Exiting streets and taking turns on the roads can be blind for cars, which means we have to be very careful. Running on snow also allows for slipping, which could lead to injury,” senior captain Olivia Lantz said.

Most years, the snow has been placed in the Singing Beach parking lot.

“Many times the lot has been two-thirds full or three-fourths full, with some parking still available,” Tom Kehoe, chairman of the Board of Selectmen said in an email.

This year, however, the Singing Beach parking lot is full, as well as most of the Masconomo lot. Because of this, the town was forced to place snow on Singing Beach, where the tide can wash it away.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the environmental issue with disposing of snow on the beach is that it is not just snow, but also dirt, trash, and pollutants that are swept up with it. However, the town worked to minimize this negative effect.

“The snow disposed of on the beach was clean.  There was very little salt or sand in this snow, and it had not sat long in areas where it picked up heavy metals or other contaminants from vehicles,” Carol Murray, the department of public works director, said in an email.


Online learning allows students to reduce stress before large exams

Schools across the Northeast are scrambling to make up this year’s snow days, and teachers are scrambling to teach all of the information they have to before tests like MCAS and AP exams.

Online learning doesn’t shorten the amount of days public schools have to make up. However, it prevents the struggle to finish teaching information before testing deadlines.

Schools from Virginia to New Hampshire and Vermont have begun “holding class” during snow days.

How the schools choose to relay the information to students varies by school. Some, like Peninsula Catholic High School in Virginia, according to an NPR article on the topic, give their students school-owned computers to use for instruction, but more commonly, teaches will just assign homework online and expect students to have that completed by the next class.

Assignments given to students on the snow days include videos to watch and take notes on, which is similar to the practice of flipped-classroom learning.

In all schools where “e-learning days” have been on trial, anybody who has Internet connection issues is exempted from the work, but they must make up the work.

Students argue against instruction during snow days, often complaining that the online class time ruins the day off, which must still be made up at the end of the year.

However, cramming information into students’ brains a week before standardized tests places more stress on teachers and students than a day of online learning.

Some standardized tests have flexible schedules that allow for changes due to inclement weather, but most do not.

Schools that have not been affected by inclement weather have more days to prepare for standardized tests.


March Nutrition Month

March Nutrition Month offers an opportunity to focus on healthy eating and physical activity at home and at school. The cafeteria especially focuses on emphasizing healthy eating during this time.

Originally March Nutrition Month was started in 1973 by the American Dietetic Association to bring awareness to healthier lifestyles in a time when processed foods were becoming more commonplace in the average American household. The school started participating in the event about 10 years ago, according to the school nutrition director Sheila Parisien.

One way the cafeteria attempted to encourage people to choose healthy breakfast options was to put on a breakfast raffle where every time a student ate breakfast, his or her name was entered into a raffle for March 6, and there was a drawing for a winner for a week of free breakfast, one for the middle school and one for the high school.

The cafeteria also served healthy International Week meals. Throughout the month the cafeteria staff will be focused on stressing what the students are eating. Whether it is a sandwich with whole grain bread or real fruit and Greek yogurt in the smoothies served at breakfast, the staff will encourage healthy eating.

“We just want to help kids grow up healthy so they don’t have issues later on in life. Teenagers think they’re invincible and that they can eat whatever they want,” Parisien said.

Although the cafeteria does add more emphasis during March about nutrition, the cafeteria tries to focus on a having a healthy menu year round as well, Parisien said.

New regulations state that the cafeteria must offer certain fruits and vegetables year round, but Parisien wants the kids to have a choice in what they are eating as long as it’s a healthy option, and she encourages students to voice their opinion about what they want to see in the lunchroom.

Junior Lydia Parker is one student who has an idea on how to improve cafeteria eating and create a healthy eating experience.

“I think it would be really cool if they started selling bottled smoothies at lunch during the nutrition month,” Parker said.


ACT, SAT tests key differences, similarities


With more and more colleges accepting the ACT as well as the SAT, it can be difficult to decide which test will capitalize on a student’s strengths. Both tests are costly to take and difficult to prepare for, therefore it is important to know which test is a better fit in order to maximize the outcomes.

The ACT or American College Test contains four sections; Math, Science, Reading and an optional writing section.

The Princeton Review explains that the three required sections are made up of multiple choice questions while the science as well as the reading sections tests purely comprehension.

The SAT or Scholastic Aptitude Test has four sections; Critical Reading, Mathematics, English, and a required writing section.

According to the Kaplan Test Prep, the Critical Reading contains questions regarding comprehension and sentence completion. The English part of the test also has a sub section for vocabulary.

In principal, the ACT tests what people learn in school while the SAT tests reasoning and verbal abilities. While the ACT test is more straightforward and concrete, the SAT is more abstract and broad.

The ACT is taken in four separate sections while the SAT is comprised of ten sections that switch off between Mathematics, Critical Reading and English.

College Board explains that while the ACT is scored by the number of correct answers, making it worthwhile to guess, the SAT penalizes test takers for wrong answers, allowing students to skip questions with no harm or benefit.

Another key difference between the two tests is their approach to the math sections. Both tests include arithmetic, geometry, algebra and algebra two. The ACT, however, also includes trigonometry. This doesn’t make the ACT math inherently more difficult, just more comprehensive.

Aside from the differences in the math section, the tests also vary in their reporting of scores. The SAT is scored by section on a scale of 200-800. Adding up the point value of each section gives students a total score out of 2400. Essays are scored from 0-12 and influence the total score.

The ACT is scored by section as well. Each section is scored from 1-36 and section scores, except for the writing score are averaged to create a composite score also out of 36. The essay is also scored from 0-12 and does not affect the composite score.

According to the Princeton Review, admissions officers are more interested in a student’s composite ACT score but more heavily weigh individual section scores when looking at a student’s SAT score.