New homework policy affects freshman, sophomores

During the month of March, the debate classes took part in a March Madness Tournament as a new way for the students to practice debating the month’s topic of whether or not the United States should suspend all aid to Pakistan.

“It was Mrs. Tran’s idea to do some type of tournament with the students as a fun and different way to practice the March topic,” history and public forum debate teacher Jennifer Coleman said.

The tournament was a public forum debate activity, which calls for students to work with a partner, Coleman said.

“Typically the students have the same partner through the whole year to go to tournaments, but for March Madness, since it was mad, they had to pick a different partner.”

The tournament took about six class periods, two for preliminary debating and four for the elimination round, according to Coleman. The debaters competed in two preliminary rounds, and then the teams were ranked one through 16.

After the preliminary round, the teams debated in single elimination rounds. “We started with the Sweet Sixteen and worked our way down to the Elite Eight, the Final Four, and we had our final round on April 2,” she said.

All four of the debate classes meet during A block, so they all took part in the tournament, according to Coleman.

“There are two public forum classes, which were the ones doing the actual debating, one Lincoln Douglas class and one Congress class,” she said. “We brought all the classes together and used the Lincoln Douglas and the Congress students to be our judges for the two preliminary rounds and the first elimination round.”

Senior Allie Freed was a judge from the Lincoln Douglas class.

“I think this tournament was a nice way to match up novice debaters with experienced debaters in a way so that both debaters can hone their respective skills,” Freed said. “It was also a chance for debaters who don’t do public forum to see what that realm of debate is all about.”

Sophomore Quinn Andersen thought the tournament was “fun and a good way to help kids get out of their comfort zones.”

Coleman hopes to have another March Madness Tournament next year.

“It shows all the teachers working together, it shows all the students working together, and I think it really shows the unity of the team,” she said.


Library orders new E-Books thanks to Rotary grant

After receiving $2,700 grant from the Rotary Club, the library plans to update the 2005 World Peace and Understanding Library Project with new technology, such as E-Books.

“Back in the old building, the Rotary Club gave us money and bought books, and had the shelving [located in the printer room] made especially for us,” library teacher Sue Krause said.

According to her, the shelf was part of the World Peace and Understanding Project and contains books with topics in areas such as bullying, peace, social tolerance, and conflict resolution.

“In the fall, Debbie Marcus from the Rotary contacted me and said she wanted to add to the collection of books on that shelf,” Krause said. “I suggested that instead of ordering more books, to order E-Books, and she thought it was a great idea.”

A few weeks ago, Krause received news that the Rotary grant application to provide funds to update the project had been accepted, and the library received $2,700 worth of E-Books, she said.

“The grant proposal includes that Rotarians have to be involved somehow,” according to Krause. “ So there are plans for creating an E-Book club for middle and high school students, promoting outside reading, discussion, and mentoring.”

Krause will order the E-Books and educate students about availability of these online resources.

“There are two ways students can access these E-Books,” she said. “From home computers, students can go to the high school website, go into the library website and find Follett Shelf.”

According to Krause, student can log in using the username and password, both are “hornets,” to view the library’s collection of E-Books.

“So far we have 89 E-Books,” she said. “We will be adding 146 more because of the Rotary.”

Most of the E-Books are up-to-date fiction stories that kids want to read, such as “The Hunger Games” and “The Help,” as well as books that are part of the curriculum, such as “The Scarlet Letter” and “Moby Dick,” according to Krause.

“We also have books that contribute to the topic are of social tolerance and bullying, such as “Handling Peer Pressure” and “Living with Peer pressure and Bullying,” she said.

Senior Savannah Repucci said the online access from home gives students better opportunities for outside reading and schoolwork.

“The fact that we can access books for school online on our home computers will make our lives easier,” Repucci said. “As for outside reading, if there is a book I want to read, but my local library does not have it or the price at a bookstore is too expensive, these E-Books will allow me to read them at my own pace and in my own home.”

Senior Max Gove agrees the “opportunities for future students and the easy access to the E-Books, on home and school computers, are endless.”

According to Krause, access to the E-Books on the school computer is just as simple as accessing the books on a home computer.

“On the school computer, go into your favorites on Internet Explorer and open up the school library search. Click on middle/high school and search for any E-Book based on material type, keyword, author, etc,” she said.

If any students have questions or would like to give their input on the new E-Books, see Mrs. Krause in the library.


Dynamic duo Tatum and Hill star in comedy ’21 Jump Street’

Actor Channing Tatum reveals not only his good looks but also his ability to make audiences laugh, in his new film, “21 Jump Street.”

Starring Tatum and Jonah Hill, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s latest project is based on the 1980s television show, “21 Jump Street.” This new comedy tells the story of two underachieving cops who go undercover as high school students. While undercover, they must bring down the dealers and suppliers of a new synthetic drug before it infiltrates other schools.

Embracing their role as two under-qualified, undercover cops, Tatum and Hill manage to keep the movie both entertaining and comical throughout. Although often inappropriate, their jokes are original and cause the audience to erupt in bursts of laughter.

Even though the movie runs at a decently long time of 109 minutes, the jokes never get old and overused. Instead, the characters continue to come up with new humorous lines, and the plot remains surprisingly unpredictable. For example, the ending includes a few plot twists that are completely unexpected by the audience.

Rated R, this movie is clearly not appropriate for anyone under 17, due to the general adult theme and the language used throughout. However, for a more mature audience, the film is quite entertaining.

Although this 2012 film was written by new storywriters, Hill and Michael Bacall, it also serves as a sort of sequel to the TV series that first premiered on television in 1987. Created by Stephen J. Cannell, the original TV show starred Johnny Depp and followed the same premise of young cops who are sentenced to the police squad located at 21 Jump Street.

The writers made this film version modern, however, by incorporating current day trends of adolescents such as Facebook, texting, and the movement to stop global warming.

The film opened to theatres on March 16, 2012 and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. The total budget for the movie was around $42 million, and the box office sales exceeded just about $87 million.

Although all the scenes were shot in New Orleans, the setting was mean to be a generic city, meaning that the filmmakers specifically went out of their way to avoid any signs giving away the true location.

Overall, this movie makes the list of must-see comedies of 2012, for viewers 17 and older. With its all-star cast and original plotline, this film is sure not to disappoint.


PRO: Should grinding be banned?

By now, everyone is aware of what happened at the Winter Semi-Formal dance: kids were out of control, The Jersey Turnpike reared its ugly head, and the chaperones could not enter the cafeteria without feeling extremely uncomfortable.
The debut of this over-the-line style of grinding caused the administration to finally take charge and introduce a new rule that changed the students’ outlook on dances entirely.
Principal James Lee announced the “no grinding” regulation to each class on the day of the Highlighter Dance, Jan. 6. Students did not take the news lightly.
Most students boycotted the Highlighter Dance in order to protest this new rule; some students even went as far as standing in the parking lot until Lee told them to join the dance or get lost.
While grinding does not bother most people, the worst part of the students’ reaction to the no grinding rule is the belief that grinding is the only way to dance. If this is true, students can anticipate the release of the new game “Just Dance: Grinding Edition” or they can watch the season premiere of “Grinding with the Stars.”
The idea that the only way to dance is to stand in front of someone’s pelvis, butt out, and rock back and forth, is completely ridiculous. While grinding may result in a good leg workout, the enjoyment factor is extremely low, especially after staying like that for multiple songs. For the upcoming dance marathon that will be hosted by the senior class, what are kids going to do? Grind for 12 hours straight?
Whatever happened to simply dancing to the music;, moving every part of the body to the rhythm and drawing inspiration for future moves from friends and the feeling of the moment.
Reality shows such as “The Jersey Shore” exemplify this vulgar type of dancing that can only be described as an insult to dancing cultures around the world. There is more to dance than just the classic ballet, tap, or jazz; Broadway, Salsa, Ballroom, Hip-Hop, Latin, Country, Folk, Disco, and many more styles add to the athleticism and skill it takes to be a dancer. However, just because not everyone knows specific moves does not mean that experimenting different styles during a dance should be frowned upon.
Many kids grind because that way they do not have to face their dance partner; the intimidation factor of actually having to make eye contact with another person is too much to handle and students would rather escape the awkwardness of the situation by facing a different direction, while dancing like a bunch of hormone-crazed animals.
For the next dance, a strong piece of advice: grow up, show up, and just have fun.


‘The Muppets’ return to big screen a success

By Caroline Wood

After 12 years, Jim Henson’s loveable marionette puppets return to the theaters in the film “The Muppets,” starring alongside Jason Segel (“How I Met Your Mother”), Amy Adams (“Enchanted”), and Chris Cooper (“Seabiscuit”).

This triumphant return of these loveable characters raised more than $25 million during its first weekend at the box office and in just five days grossed at least $41.5 million, according to

The film begins with Segel’s character, Gary, his girlfriend Mary (Adams), and his Muppet brother, Walter, as they travel to Los Angeles in order to meet Kermit and the Muppets.

Upon their arrival, the trio discover the old Muppet Theater is in danger of being demolished and dug up for oil by the film’s antagonist, Tex Richman (Cooper).

Walter persuades Kermit to get the Muppets back together in order to put on a show at the theater in order to raise the $10 million needed to save the theater.

This musical comedy is riddled with hilariously clever songs, such as “Life’s a Happy Song” and “Man or Muppet,” written by featured musical supervisor, Bret McKenzie (“Flight of the Conchords”).

Other classic Muppet songs, such as Kermit’s “Rainbow Connection,” are featured during the telethon the gang holds in order to help raise the money. Things do not go exactly as planned during the telethon when Richman, the villain, attempts to stop the telethon before the Muppets raise enough money.

Additional celebrities, such as Neil Patrick Harris, Selena Gomez, Whoopi Goldberg, and Zach Galifianakis, provide comical cameos during the Muppets’ struggle to save their theater, adding to the already fantastic cast.

Rated PG for mild, rude humor, “The Muppets” depicts a heart-warming story of perseverance, hope, and the value of true friendship that tug at the heartstrings of the Muppets faithful followers.


Seven students selected to perform in District festival concerts


By Caroline Wood

After 14 chorus and band members auditioned for the Massachusetts Northeastern District Senior Music Festival on Nov. 19, seven students were chosen to represent the school during the Festival Chorus, Band, and Jazz Band Concerts in January.

The students selected to participate in the festival are seniors Leanne Ciccone, Ian Gillis, Sam White; sophomores Vanessa Kelley, Alexandra Valenti, and Lindsey Duff, and freshman Tucker Evans.

“I’m very proud of the way the students conducted themselves at their auditions,” band director Joe Sokol said. “I’m also very happy to congratulate Sam White for making it on jazz guitar and receiving an All-State recommendation.”

According to Gillis, students prepared outside of school for their auditions; however, choral director Donna O’Neill worked with some students on their songs and all the chorus kids with their sight-singing.

“The sight-singing is a significant part of the audition,” O’Neill said. “The students have been working on sight-singing during chorus over the past 2 to 3 years.”

O’Neill was also pleased with the students’ preparation for the audition. According to her, the students were well prepared and represented the school beautifully, which is clearly indicated by the breakdown of scores the students received.

“Most of the students received a score of eight out of 10 or higher on the sight-singing,” she said. “I’m very proud of the students who auditioned and the ones who were accepted, especially Tucker Evans, who is only a freshman and received high praise from the judges and an All-State recommendation.”

The Festival Concerts will take place on Jan. 6 while White and Evans audition for All-State in Shrewsbury, Mass, at the end of January.


Online library catalogue transitions to new software

After a district-wide conversion last Friday, the school’s online library catalog switched from InfoCentre to Destiny, a web-based software that helps manage the library’s collection of books, according to librarian Sue Krause.

Destiny allows students and teachers to look up books both in the library and at home, according to Krause.
A student can search for a book based on its material type and check its availability within the school’s online catalog.

By Caroline Wood


“One of the helpful parts of the new management system is Destiny Quest, which not only shows the availability of a book but various covers of the book,” she said.
On the homepage of Destiny Quest, students can see the top 10 most popular books kids are checking out and 15 books that have recently been added to the library’s collection and where to find them, according to Krause.
“Teachers can use Destiny Quest as a resource to upload a list of books that are particular for a class,” Krause said. “When the list is online, students can have access to it from their computer at home, not just at school.”
According to Krause, the conversion from InfoCentre to Destiny took place because of a lack of updating. “Our previous management system was InfoCentre; however, we found out that it was not updating enough for our use of it and therefore would not be sufficient to use anymore,” she said.
“My hope is to work with students and teachers to help them learn how useful this new management system is,” Krause said.


DECA hosts successful highlighter dance

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

By Caroline Wood


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  The returning disk jockey, DJBJAY, entertained students.

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

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

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


Events in Egypt hit home for art teacher

Although the events in Egypt are thousands of miles away, for art teacher Tamera Burns, the recent uprisings and protests in Egypt seem closer to her due to her personal ties and history with the country.

By Caroline Wood


  Although the events in Egypt are thousands of miles away, for art teacher Tamera Burns, the recent uprisings and protests in Egypt seem closer to her due to her personal ties and history with the country.

  Although born in North Dakota, at a young age Burns and her family moved to Alexandria, Egypt, because her father worked for an oil company and it allowed him to move to Egypt. According to Burns, people would come up to her in the streets and touch her cheeks because she was so pale in comparison to the Egyptians.

  “My family has had a relationship with the Middle East since 1965, over 40 years. Throughout that time there had been few peaceful periods with a lot of violence,” she said. “Egypt is an amazing, amazing place. It’s such an important place economically and the people are very educated, but it’s also really poor. The poverty is really sad.”

  Their lifestyle correlated with the safety situations in the country. When Burns was in eighth grade, “things started deteriorating.” Huge evacuation planes came and took many Americans in the Middle East and relocated them to Athens, Greece, according to Burns.

  “That is just one of the many things that happened and affected my lifestyle growing up and my family,” she said.

Burns’ brother, Barry, and his family live in Cairo. According to Burns, her brother studied Arabic in college and later moved to Cairo as a photojournalist.

  “After graduating college, he was hired immediately by Time magazine. He went to Egypt, and it was getting really dangerous,” she said.

  During a visit home to the United States in the 1980s, “things in Egypt were heating up,” and her brother was told to cover the story for Time magazine. As he was preparing for his return to Egypt, Burns’ brother received bulletproof vests, which was a signal to Burns that her brother was going back to a dangerous place.

  “Ten days after his return to Egypt, my brother was in Beirut doing the cover story for Time magazine. While taking pictures of Israeli gunboats, they opened up fire on him. Shrapnel hit him on the face all the way down to his legs to the point where near his tibia and fibula there was an inch of bone showing. He recovered after a while, but this is just an example of the violence and danger my family has experienced with its ties to the country,” she said.

  Egypt’s recent unrest began on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, when protests erupted all over Egypt, as the Egyptian people wanted to oust President Hosni Mubarak. Inspired by a recent and successful Tunisian revolution, the protesters in Egypt sought to peacefully put an end to the police abuses, poverty, corruption, and unemployment, and force the resignation of their country’s leader.

  As the protests continued to the next day, the police began responding with violence. Beating protesters with batons, shooting water cannons at crowds, and throwing tear gas into mobs of people are just some examples of the violence. Despite a ban against protesting, people continued to shout in the streets.

  According to Burns, her nieces and nephew were out of school for at least five weeks during this time. “Life was dangerous,” she said.

  On January 27, the government cut off all means of Internet communication due to the fact that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were being used for the coordination of protests.

  As Mubarak refused to resign, on January 28, he announced that he asked the current government to step down.       

  Three days later, Mubarak swore in a new cabinet. Hope for the protesters grew when Mubarak announced that he would not run for re-election.

  Access to the Internet was restored on February 2, and just a day later, the Egyptian military began to intervene. The Egyptian people value the military more than the police force, so this was another step towards improvement.

  Finally, Mubarak gave his power to the vice president, but he did not resign. Then on February 11, Mubarak officially resigned and put the country in the hands of the military.

  On February 18, many Egyptians, including Burns’ brother and family, peacefully walked in Tahrir Square in order to remember the events that had taken place the days before.

Burns is wondering what the government will be after this is all over. “Possibly there will be a coalition of different factions of the government; I really don’t know. It’s a wait-and-see type of situation right now,” she said.

  Burns still keeps hope despite the uncertainty of the future. “There are no assurances, but hopefully the country will be able to get it together. Although the country has a lot ahead of them; I just have such hope for the country,” she said.


School hosts preliminary round of Drama Festival, advances to Semifinals

For the first time in school history, Manchester-Essex was a host school to seven other schools in the preliminary round of the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild High School Drama Festival. The school’s production of “The Complete History of America (Abridged),” the only comedy of the day, advanced to the next round and will perform on March 19 at St. John’s Prep. Thirty-six out of the 111 competing schools were chosen to be semi-finalists.

By Caroline Wood


  For the first time in school history, Manchester-Essex was a host school to seven other schools in the preliminary round of the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild High School Drama Festival. The school’s production of   “The Complete History of America (Abridged),” the only comedy of the day, advanced to the next round and will perform on March 19 at St. John’s Prep. Thirty-six out of the 111 competing schools were chosen to be semi-finalists.

  The school hosted productions from Salem High School, Lynnfield High School, Malden High School, Melrose High School, Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, Gloucester High School, and Wellesley High School.

   Peabody’s “The Love of the Nightingale” and Malden’s original show, “American Land,” also advanced.

   At the end of the day, the four judges presented awards and announced the three shows that would be moving on.     

  Among the All-Star cast and crewmember were Morgan Kennedy, Connor Hoff, and Maura Driscoll, who all received Outstanding Acting Performances, and Daria Shnider, who received the Stage Manager Award.

  Festival Manager Margaret Henry also received the David Dooley award. The preliminary round at Manchester-Essex was dedicated to David Dooley, a foreign language teacher who passed away and who was an active member in the METG.

  According to Henry, this award began last year and is given to someone from the host school who showed dedication and put in many hours of effort towards the festival.

  According to co-director, Elizabeth Edgerton, “The drama kids were so excited when we found out that we would be hosting prelims here at the school. We were so happy to be able to share our amazing space with the other schools!”

  During the first week of March, each school had a tech hour where they set up their set, practiced some of their show on the stage, and were given a tour of the building. “During the tech week all the students from the other schools were really nice and cooperative,” stage manager Daria Shnider said.

  On March 5, starting at 7 in the morning, schools started to arrive to prepare for the day. Throughout the day of Dramafest, each school performed a 40-minute show, with 5 minutes allowed for setting up and 5 minutes allowed for striking the set. All the drama kids ate lunch and dinner together, discussed the shows in discussion groups, and danced together at a dance on the stage after all the performances.

   Junior Leanne Ciccone, one of the emcees of the show, said that the atmosphere of the day was absolutely amazing.

  Director Gloria Tanner echoed those sentiments, saying, “My favorite part of Dramafest was how magical our school felt that day.”

  According to member of the tech and costume crew, Savannah Repucci, “Dramafest is such a fun experience because we get to meet kids that we would never meet otherwise and drama kids are very friendly, so it’s easy to make new friends.”

  “I don’t think the day could have turned out any better. Seeing the students from the eight different schools  (including our own) share their love of drama, form friendships, and celebrate live theatre was an experience I won’t ever forget,” Edgerton said.

  The cast and crew are all very excited to be moving on to semifinals. “When the judges said we were moving on, I was thrilled,” Repucci said. “Everyone in our show worked so hard, and we put on a very good show.”

  Actress Olivia Peterson is just as excited for the show’s advancement. “We’re all feeling pumped because of the great and unexpected responses that we’ve gotten from the audiences. We’re working really hard to tweak the small parts to make it tighter, and we hope everyone comes out to support us!” she said.

  According to Edgerton, the cast and crew are certainly looking forward to performing at the Prep. “The wonderful thing is that our cast and crew really love our show and we are thrilled that we get to do it again!”