Former students travels to Senegal, performs

Piper Browne, class of 2011, is currently a junior at Tulane University in New Orleans. She was a member of the Soundwaves in high school and has continued to be passionate about singing while in college.

Donna O’Neill runs the Soundwaves, the a cappella group that Browne helped start. In O’Neill’s second year as a teacher here, she worked with Browne and several other students to start a small a cappella group, which eventually became the Soundwaves.

“Piper was a big part of the Soundwaves. She had an incredibly positive attitude that encouraged other students,” she said.

English teacher Daniel Koughan taught Browne and remembers performing with her in a school production of “West Side Story,” where Browne played the part of Maria as an underclassman.

“It was very clear why she got the role so young. She was a powerful performer with a beautiful voice who threw herself into the play as energetically and enthusiastically as she did in the classroom. She definitely upstaged me,” he said.

Currently, Browne is a member of an a cappella group on campus called Green Envy, whom she describes as her “best friends and [her] family.”

The group is recording a CD in Loyola New Orleans’ recording studio, and they often perform at events both on and off campus. Browne plans to run for president of the group for her senior year.

She also sings in a funk cover band that is beginning to write original songs.

“I absolutely love singing with a band, let alone a funk band. It is the most fun thing ever,” she said.

She is a double major in music and sociology with a minor in French.

Browne also sings outside of her many groups and classes, and often learns songs she likes on the guitar or collaborates with friends that are musical as well.

O’Neill said that she and Browne still keep in touch. “I think she has always been mature, and when I see her now, she looks so happy and content and full of life. She’s just boundless,” she said.

Browne spent the first semester of her junior year studying abroad in Senegal. “I cannot wait for the time when I get to go back, whenever that is. I met some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life there and saw some of the most challenging but also awesome things,” she said.

Browne performed in Senegal as well as a part of a research project that took place during the last month of the program.

“For the last month of our program we did a research project and for mine I took voice lessons with a Senegalese musician and also studied a caste of people there basically dedicated to the performing arts,” she said.

As for after college, Browne has “no idea” but hopes to find a career that is “fun, lucrative enough so that I can live happily, interesting, involving lots of different people, and something that allows me to help people who need it. I know that’s pretty broad, but that’s all I’ve got at the moment,” she said.

She also plans on staying in New Orleans. “This city is too amazing to only live here for four years. Too much to do and see and experience!” she said.


Senior lives with host family, takes classes in Grenada, Spain

Senior Lea Manzo spent the past semester in Grenada, Spain, where she stayed with a host family and took classes at the University of Grenada through the program Sol Education Abroad.

Robert Bilsbury, her Spanish teacher, is impressed with her initiative.

“I would say that any time you can immerse yourself in another culture, it’s an awesome experience. As a language teacher, it’s the best thing you can do for your brain to learn,” he said.

Bilsbury also said that her fluency is “awesome,” and he believes that living in a foreign country where you are constantly speaking with native speakers is extremely helpful.

Manzo hopes to attend Goucher College, which requires a time spent studying abroad, and this influenced her decision to spend the semester in Spain.

She was extremely happy with this decision. “It was amazing. Living in the city is so much better than living in Essex. You can just walk out your door and do so many things. There were so many people that I could meet every day when I was walking around the city,” Manzo said.

She took five classes in both English and Spanish: Spanish Culture and Civilization, Politics of the European Union, Spanish Writing and Speaking, and Spanish Grammar.

“I learned a lot, and I’m more independent. It is weird coming back to living with my parents after having total independence and having to ask them to go and do things,” Manzo said.

One of Manzo’s favorite things to do in the city was to go to cafes and eat tapas. She went to cafes almost every day that she was there, and on the weekends she would travel with her group to many places in Spain. Once, the group went to Paris.

Her Manso and her friends enjoyed attending cultural events in the city.younger sister, Nina Manzo, is a junior who remained in Essex while her sister was in Spain. “I’m glad she is home. We skyped and it was interesting—she seems more grown-up,” she said.

Bilsbury notes that it is “wonderful” to travel and “see how other people live every day.”


New adjustment counselor Holly Brabson meets high school students

By Isadora Decker-Lucke

Holly Brabson left her position as a long-term sub at Memorial School and is now the part-time school adjustment counselor, focused on helping students at a “higher, more in-depth level than the other counselors,” Sherri Lewis, director of guidance, said.

Brabson graduated from Connecticut College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. After working at the County of San Mateo job training agency helping parents on welfare find work for several years, she received her master’s in social work from Simmons College.

The guidance department as a whole, including Brabson, has been meeting with freshmen and sophomores, and connecting with students at these meetings. When students meet with Brabson one-on-one, they work on social and emotional health with school-related issues, Lewis said.

Brabson said she enjoys her work. “It’s been excellent so far. The hardest part I think is that I’m part-time. There are so many kids that I’d like to see, and there isn’t time,” she said.

Besides meeting new students and figuring out the 6-day schedule, Brabson says she has other goals as well.

“It seems like the community is really important in this district, and I want to become a part of that. If someone has something going on, I want them to feel comfortable seeing me no matter what age. I want anyone to be able to come and feel welcome here,” she said.

Gillian Polk, the new guidance counselor, has worked with Brabson in the past while they were both guidance counselors in elementary schools in the area.

“She’s very upbeat, positive, friendly and fun. She has a good sense of humor. I was excited we both ended up working here rather than staying separate. I wanted to work with her,” Polk said.

According to Lewis, Brabson was a highly-qualified candidate and is a great fit for the position.

Polk said she agrees. “I think she’s doing well. As another new person, the first month is kind of tough, but she’s already met a lot of students. She’s a very open person, and I think she’s doing fantastic,” she said.

Brabson enjoys the position thus far but has noticed several differences from working at the elementary school.

“Some of the problems are more complex than those at Memorial School, but the students are much better at communicating their problems with me. You all have such a bright sunny attitude, and I’m amazed by how involved kids are in academics and extracurriculars. Everybody has their own unique strength,” she said.

Brabson is at the school all day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. She is also at school on Friday mornings.

“I’ve seen the students leaving her office with smiles on their faces, so that’s a good sign,” Lewis said.



The Moving Forward Project reframes public idea of disability

  accessible icon 4At Gordon College, the first version of a new “accessible icon” was created; and has sparked a nationwide movement.

  The previous International Symbol of Access, which is often seen on handicapped parking spaces, looks very sedentary and immobile to many people, including Jeffrey Gentry, the Senior Director of Community Relations and Program Development at Triangle Incorporated in Malden, MA.

  Triangle Incorporated is a non-profit to which visual artist Sarah Hendren donated her design for a new, accessible icon.

  Hendren worked on her design with philosopher Brian Glenney, who works at Gordon College.

  “Sarah’s really interested in visual representation and how symbols alter the world, and she was really annoyed with the International Symbol of Access because she viewed it as very static, as basically screaming out ‘push me’ rather than indicating that people with disabilities are advocates who can access the world successfully on their own,” Gentry said.

  Glenney is also interested in the way that the perception of the world shapes our understanding of it. “I started to see people calling the International Symbol of Access the handicapped symbol. The word handicapped is a negative term for people with disabilities; it actually means cap in hand, like a beggar,” he said.

 According to, many changes have been made to the previous symbol. The head and legs are tilted forward and the arm is pointing backwards “suggesting dynamic mobility of a chair user” and indicating that the person is moving themselves rather than being moved.

  According to Gentry, the symbol is approved by the American Disabilities Association and has already been implemented in many places such as Malden, New York City, Clark Shoes National Headquarters and Talbots International Distribution Center. The City of Burlington and many retail locations in North Carolina are considering using the icon as well.

“It’s meant to reframe the idea of disability for the public. Part of our mission at Triangle is to help the world realize that we’re all equal with ability, and that’s really important… people with disabilities have a real role and a contribution to make to society, and we need to be open to and willing to perceive that,” Gentry said.

  “For only being around for eight months, we’ve made a lot of progress,” Glenney said.


Debate team creates news source to update students on current events

worldbuzzgiff88  Debate teacher Daniel Jewett and his students have created a website called World Buzz, where they summarize articles about current events in order to stay informed about what is going on in the world.

  “I have no doubt that the best way to improve students as debaters and thinkers is to have them more engaged with what’s going on in the world and the more we do that the more successful we’ll be,” Jewett said.

  Freshman Bella Mastendino, along with the rest of the debate team, has taken weekly quizzes on the information written on the website.

  “It makes me more informed on current events, but I think that it’s hard to find time to read everything and really pay attention to it,” she said. Dozens of articles are posted weekly, and students are responsible for knowing all of the information posted.

  The debate team has attempted to expand and test debaters’ knowledge of current events in the past, but according to Jewett, this has been difficult with the vast amount of information available from many different sources online.

  “The idea is to create one source in which students summarize the news and one in which they then have a common reading and learning experience that allows us to assess them,” he said.

  Sophomore Nick Albertazzi, who has written articles for World Buzz, said the website has definitely made him more aware of what is going on in the world currently.

  When everyone looks to the same place for information, the debate team can create a widespread base of knowledge that will help them in their future competitions, Jewett said.

  The information that the students summarize in articles comes mainly from major newspapers, but during fourth quarter they hope to diversify their sources by having students be responsible for specific sources or areas of the news.


Microsoft creates versatile new tablet, available in two versions

surface pro  Microsoft has recently come out with a new PC, which can be used either as a tablet or a laptop.

  Buyers can choose between the Surface Pro and Surface RT, based on which features are most important to them. There is also a variety of available add-ons such as apps and cases.

  The RT starts at $499 while the Pro starts at $899.

  To help people choose which is best for them, Microsoft asks users about the importance of weight, size, battery life, business connectivity, Microsoft Office programs, security, thinness, storage, screen and ports.

  The Pro weighs two lbs and has twice the GB, while the RT is 1.5 lbs and slightly thinner than the Pro. The devices are reminiscent of an iPad, with a magnetic keyboard that can be attached and removed at the user’s will as well as an adjustable stand that props up the tablet for use as a lap top.

  Both include stereo speakers, headset jacks and cover ports, and the same screen. The owner also has a wide range of apps to choose from, which are compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8.

  Front-facing cameras offer users the option to video chat with friends and family, and rear-facing cameras make it easy to take photographs. The screen is 10 pt. multi touch, and has an HD display for clear viewing.

  The hardware warranty lasts one year, and wireless and Bluetooth are both included. Several applications also are included, such as Windows Mail and Messaging; SkyDrive; Internet Explorer 10; Bing; Xbox Music, Video, and Games.

  For users who wish to write or draw using the touch screen, a pen with a hole for pen input is included.


Safe Haven review

  Almost every teenage girl knows who Nicholas Sparks is—not from reading his books but from seeing the movie adaptations of his novels. The most recent Sparks-based movie is “Safe Haven,” where a young woman flees Boston and lands in Southport, North Carolina—a quiet beachside town with few residents.

  After seeing the previews for “Safe Haven,” directed by Lasse Hallstrom, many people expected to see a sappy chick flick with no real substance.

  Exceeding expectations and averaging a rating on of 6.2/10, the movie opened with $21.4 million. Rather than being a dull and corny flick, the movie superfluously blended action and romance to deliver a tantalizing experience for viewers.

  The film starts off with a mysterious woman named Katie, played by Julianne Hough, who moves to a new town and meets a handsome widower. Throughout the 115-minute movie she has periodic flashbacks to her troubled past, which is not fully revealed till much later.

 The movie cuts back and forth between Hough’s new life in NC and a drunken cop in Boston, played by David Lyons, with an insane desire to find her.

  The perfect movie for a girls’ night, “Safe Haven” is full of sigh-worthy moments and romantic gestures that will make any girl swoon.

 “Safe Haven” has the best of both worlds—it is the perfect balance between love and suspense, all tied together with a heart-wrenching twist at the end.

  Although a tad predictable, except for the twist in the last few minutes of the film, viewers can easily guess at what will happen next.

  The cast also includes Josh Duhamel as Alex Wheatley and Cobie Smulders as Jo, and all actors deliver a strong performance; and even though the outcome is predictable, the action succeeds in keeping viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the movie.




Your health: Chocolate

Almost everyone loves chocolate, which is why it’s so exciting to hear that it’s actually good for you.

Chocolate is made from cacao seeds—different brands and types have different levels of cacao in them, with dark chocolate generally having the highest levels.

When trying to maximize health benefits while fulfilling chocolate cravings, shoppers should look for the percent to which their chocolate bar is enriched with cocoa powder. The higher this percentage is, the healthier it will be.

According to the Chemistry Central Journal, cacao seeds have more antioxidants than many other fruits and powders that have been deemed “super-fruits” for their high nutritive value.

Antioxidants bind to free radicals, which can clog arteries and contribute to cancer, blindness and many other conditions, according to Harvard School of Public Health.

Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are especially high in flavanols, which are strong antioxidants with many health benefits. The Chemistry Central Journal writes that these include an increase in artery elasticity, blood flow and insulin sensitivity (which can combat diabetes), decrease blood pressure, and protect skin from sun damage.

According to the Huffington Post, many of the health benefits of dark chocolate are due to its anti-inflammatory properties and high fiber content, which help to reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, according to the CDC. This makes chocolate even more essential as a method of preventative care.

A study done in 2011 in Sweden discovered that women who had less than nine grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent higher risk of stroke than women who ate over 45 grams.

While many people prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, the vast benefits of dark chocolate make the small sacrifice in taste worth it. Next time you’re feeling down, sit back, relax, and enjoy a not-so-guilty pleasure: chocolate.


Indoor track

With the boys’ track team currently ranked second in the Cape Ann League Small Division and both girls and boys team members qualifying for States, track plans to finish off their season strong, according to junior captain Sarah Lewiecki.

 According to junior captain Fiona Davis, some highlights so far are wins over track powerhouse Hamilton Wenham and Amesbury for the boys’ team.

  While the girls have yet to win a meet, Davis says their main focus is qualifying for the Division IV state meet on Feb. 15.

  So far over 15 team members have qualified for the state tournament. Davis qualified in the mile and two-mile; sophomore Olivia Lantz in the mile, two-mile and 1000, the 4×400 relay team, and the 4×800 relay team.

  For boys, senior captain John Beardsley has qualified in the high jump with a mark of 5ft 8in and in the 300, according to Davis. Sophomore Cam Holley has qualified in the 1000, and the boys’ 4×400 relay team has qualified as well.

  Many runners who haven’t qualified yet are extremely close to the qualifying time, such as sophomore Samantha Woodman in the 300, according to Davis.

  Junior captain Erik Rajunas is pleased with the way the team has performed overall this season.

  “I’d say having won two meets and having a better record than last year is a big thing. Also just seeing so many people set personal records and qualifying times and raising the bar for the team,” Rajunas said.

  However, according to head coach John Barbour, the season has not been without difficulties.

  “Colds and flu, mid-terms, conflicting activities like debate tournaments and a few other things have coalesced to make this a challenging period for the team, which it is handling well,” he said.

  The team has also set many personal bests this season, such as Olivia Lantz’s 11:01.46 two-mile, which was within a second of an 18-year-old meet record according to Barbour, and Cam Holley’s 2:54.43 1000, both at the MSTCA/Red Auerbach Frosh-Soph Meet on Jan. 5.

  Senior Cory McCollum set a school record in the shot put of 37-11 on Jan. 11, and high jumpers such as senior Jacob Martz, junior Sam Nesbit and senior John Beardsley all set personal bests at CAL dual meets against Amesbury and North Reading.


Spirit Week excites students, shows school pride

  Many students look forward to Spirit Week, because it gives them the opportunity to dress in ridiculous outfits and compete as a class, according to senior Student Council president Dana Filias.

  Student Council secretary senior Audrey Davis was a member of the Spirit Week committee, which helped organize Spirit Week by deciding what each day would be, making flyers and organizing the pep rally.

  “I think most of the students enjoy it, I mean we do have a lot of participation and it seems to be a lot of fun. I see a lot of kids dressed up and I really like it too. It’s funny to watch kids make fools of themselves, but it’s fun and that’s why we do it,” she said.

  Tuesday was Twin Day, where students chose a fellow classmate to dress exactly the same as them.

  Wednesday was Decades Day; seniors had ‘80s, juniors had ‘90s, sophomores had ‘70s and freshmen had ‘60s.

  On Thursday, Music Genre Day, seniors dressed as hip-hop artists; juniors dressed as country singers; sophomores dressed as rock stars; and freshmen dressed as reggae singers.

  On Friday, Spirit Day, the whole school came decked out in Manchester Essex apparel.

  Opinions differ between students about which day is the favorite, but according to Davis many seniors preferred Decades Day.

  “I think one day like ¾ of the senior class participated; I think that was ‘80s day. It was really fun to dress in all neon. A lot of kids wore roller blades, which weren’t really allowed but they did it anyway,”

  Junior Lizzi White, however, preferred Twin Day, as did juniors Charlie Hoff and Seth Cohen.

  “Everyone always likes something different, but I think Twin Day is a crowd favorite because it’s pretty easy to do, and almost everyone dresses up that day, which makes it fun,” Filias said.

  Sophomore Emily Moore liked Spirit Day the best. “It was cool to see everyone’s spirit for the school and how many people participate in sports,” she said.

  Filias thought Spirit Week was a success overall. “I think it went well, but I would have loved to see more participation from underclassmen!” she said.

 “I give a big shout out to Ms. Deluca for being in charge of Student Council!” Davis said.