Farah Contractor gives back with blankets

by Haniyyah Sardar, junior, Council Rock High School South

Farah Contractor, a junior at Council Rock High School South, has taken her own experiences as a childhood cancer patient and turned them into a philanthropic effort. When Farah was 12-years-old she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s B-cell Lymphoma, and at 14-years-old she was diagnosed with secondary Acute Myeloid Leukemia and spent the majority of 2010-2012 at the Cancer Center in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). While there, Farah recalls receiving blankets during her treatment and says that she loved getting them. Now, after she has completed her treatment, Farah has decided to bring other inpatients at CHOP the same joy she felt when receiving blankets.

This year, Farah started the Childhood Cancer Awareness Group at CR South, which aims to create fleece-tie blankets for in-patient children at the Cancer Center while spreading awareness for childhood cancer. According to Farah, the group is “all about making children at CHOP feel remembered and encouraged while they are dealing with the hardships of cancer treatment.” When reflecting on her own time at the Cancer Center and what these blankets meant to her she says, “It can get lonely inside of a hospital and I want [the children] to know that we are thinking about them.” She says that CHOP means a lot to her because of the “amazing staff and charities that helped relieve the stress” of her journey through cancer. Her determination to giving back in such a personal way has inspired many other students to join in on the efforts.

Although Farah is the leader of the Childhood Cancer Awareness Group and has been dedicated to giving other children the same experience she had when receiving blankets at CHOP, she insists that creating the blankets is really a group effort. She says she could have never done any of this without the help of Mrs. Karen Holloran, the group advisor, and her friends who helped spread the word about the group. Member Danielle Randall says that the Childhood Cancer Awareness Group has been “a great way to take a personal experience and turn it into something charitable.” She also thinks that the group is a great way for teenagers to give back to the community by helping out kids who are battling cancer.

The group first started fundraising for the blankets through a donation website where they raised over $900, surpassing the group’s original goal for the blankets.

The blankets were started in January, and Farah hopes that the group will complete them by April. They plan on making 40 to 50 blankets to donate to the children at CHOP.

Farah is determined to bring a little more light into the difficult lives of other childhood cancer patients and encourage them to keep fighting just like she did. Her efforts will not be forgotten by the children who receive these blankets or by the students at South who help create them.

PHOTO CAP: Farah Contractor


Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick visits CR South

by Haniyyah Sardar, junior, Council Rock High School South

On November 7th, members of CR South’s Political Science Club had the opportunity to listen to one of the nation’s Congressmen speak. Mike Fitzpatrick stopped by South to speak to the club’s members about a variety of pressing topics.

Many students came to the meeting, which led to a great turnout. The Congressman discussed many things, and everyone was able to take something away from his lecture. Mike Quaranto, president of Political Science Club, says that he found the Congressman’s discussion on the government shutdown very interesting, while Nadine Clopton, secretary of the club, was fascinated by the Congressman’s take on rising college expenses. All in all, students were exposed to many different pressing issues and were able to ask questions about them and clear up any uncertainty.

Congressman Fitzpatrick also allowed students to ask questions about what it is like to be a Congressman and work in the government. Mike says, “The meeting has impacted the club positively because no matter what our members’ political views, they now have a better understanding of what our elected officials do.” Nadine also adds that the meeting was very important to her because it “bridged the gap between the student population and the government.”

The Political Science Club at South a very important club to both Mike and Nadine, who are passionate about politics and enjoy discussing the topics in the club. Mike says that it is important for high school students to know about politics and develop their views because “they will be voters in a few years and it’s important that they are informed.”

In addition, the club is an open area where students can express their opinions freely while gaining a better understanding of the world.

Emily DeAngelis, vice president of the club, adds that the Political Science Club “offers a respectful atmosphere where we are free to teach each other, debate each other, and agree to disagree with each other.”

Nadine also adds that in the club “opinions are discussed with the hopes of furthering everyone’s understanding of our world.”

The Congressman’s visit provided great insight into the work of a US Congressman and helped students to become more informed about the nation’s government.

PHOTO CAP: From left, Mike Quaranto, Mr. Dave Jacoby (advisor), Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, Nadine Clopton, and Emily DeAngelis


John O’Leary Presents THE POWER OF ONE

Lauren ShevchekTo Benefit the Mid-Atlantic Spinal Cord Injury Fund. Come Join Acclaimed International Speaker John O’Leary and Become One of ‘Lauren’s Angels’. Tragic accident leaves a rising star Lauren Shevchek a quadriplegic, but doesn’t weaken her spirit.

Please join us for an uplifting evening as acclaimed international speaker, John O’Leary tells his story. John’s triumph over adversity is testament to the human spirit. Visit http://rising-above.com for more information on John.

On June 10th, 2013, following the completion of her freshman year at Penn State, Lauren sustained a catastrophic spinal cord injury, which rendered her paralyzed. Lauren was actively involved as a student at both CR South and PSU. She was co-captain of the CR South swim team, a member of the National Honor and Music Societies, an avid thespian, and member of the choir. She studied classical vocals and loves to sing opera. As a freshman at PSU, she competed on the water polo club team.

Please join us in coming together to support Lauren as she once again takes the stage at CRHS South.

To register in advance on line, please visit: http://bit.ly/thepowerofonelauren.

$25 Adults ● $15 Students
Monday January 6th 7:00 PM


Claire Chu named National Merit Semi-finalist

by Haniyyah Sardar, junior, Council Rock High School South

Last month, over one million juniors across the country participated in the PSAT/NMSQT to practice for the SAT and have a shot at being recognized as a “National Merit Semi-finalist” by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Every year, about 16,000 of the 1.5 million entrants are named semi-finalists. In other words, the top 0.01% of scores qualifies for semi-finalist recognition. At Council Rock High School South, eight students have been named semi-finalists.

Claire Chu, one of the eight semi-finalists from South, shares her thoughts on achieving this incredible honor. To Claire, this achievement means that “self-motivation is really one of the more important factors for success.” She is happy to have tested this well and receive recognition for her hard work. She also believes that this accomplishment indicates that there are many more goals of hers that can be reached.

Claire reveals that she actually prepared for the SATs and saw the PSATs as an opportunity to practice. She adds that the summer before her junior year, she learned SAT vocabulary words and a few weeks before the actual test she began doing many practice problems. As someone who has already gone through the process of preparing for the PSAT and other standardized tests, Claire offers some simple yet essential advice to students preparing for standardized tests. She says that with practice, “you start to develop a feel for what the test is asking and what answers it’s looking for.”

When asked about her opinion of standardized tests, Claire says that the PSATs “don’t determine intelligence or future success.” So, it is important to not get too stressed out about these things.

Outside the world of standardized tests, Claire is an active student both inside and outside of the classroom. She is in several honor societies and is also on the debate team. Claire plays violin for and is the president of South’s orchestra. In addition, she also plays piano and has participated in Honors Audition Piano Recitals for the New Jersey Music Teachers Association for the past nine years. Claire also teaches at a Chinese Language School. She was a finalist in the Penn State Essay Contest last year, and she has also performed well on national French and mathematics exams.

Claire has interests in many different subjects, so she is still deciding what career she would like to pursue. Her recent National Merit recognition, as well as her other achievements, serve as testimony to how hard work really does pay off.

PHOTO CAP: Claire Chu


New UNICEF club plans to give back

by Haniyyah Sardar, junior, Council Rock High School South

As the school year kicks into full gear, new and exciting student endeavors are taking place. Tanya Kumar, a junior at Council Rock High School South, is taking “charity” to a whole new level. She started the UNICEF Club at South. 

Although the club is a fundraising one with all of its earnings going towards the UNICEF organization, the club plans to raise money in a not-so-traditional way. It is all about fundraising in a fun and interactive way that will also raise awareness for this incredible organization. Since the club is just starting, specific fundraising events cannot be disclosed, but Tanya promises that they will be anything but ordinary.

As both the sole founder and president of the club, Tanya is looking forward to the experience of helping others. She says that she started the UNICEF club in an effort to give back to the community. She has witnessed poverty in India, which has also influenced her decision to found this club.

Tanya adds, “I still sometimes can’t get over how insanely lucky I am, and it makes me think that there are people in this world that don’t even get a sufficient amount of food per day.”

She hopes that the club will better inform South’s students of the horrors of poverty and help them see how lucky they are. She stresses that the club is not all about raising money and adds, “it`s about bettering people`s lives.”

The club’s first official meeting will be held very soon. Tanya has started a club like no other at South and students are eager to become a part of it. Many students have been signing up since the start of the school year, which is good sign. With enough committed members, the club will become officially affiliated with UNICEF. Tanya is excited to see where the club goes and hopes that it will really take off and fundraising can begin.

All in all, the UNICEF club is something unique to South, which gives students the opportunity to give back and become a part of something big. The hope is that, above all, the efforts of the club will change the way students look at the world.

PHOTO CAP: Tanya Kumar


CR South students’ summer experiences

by Haniyyah Sardar, junior, Council Rock High School South

Summer is a break from school that is welcomed with open arms; it is a time of relaxing and worry-free days. Most students go on vacation or have summer jobs to attend to; in addition, students stay active with extracurricular activities such as internships, volunteering, and various summer programs to continue learning beyond a regular school environment.

Although a number of high school students are involved with some type of summer activity, two students from Council Rock South in particular shared their own summer experiences.

May Wang, a sophomore at South, has been very busy over the summer. She has spent her summer doing scientific research through The Research and Education in Environmental Science internship, or TREES, at the University of Pennsylvania.

Through this internship, May was able to conduct an experiment of her choosing. She decided to filter Bisphenol A (BPA) from an activated charcoal. She worked in a real lab to conduct her research.

May says that taking part in this internship has been a great experience because not only has she learned new research and laboratory techniques, but has also gotten the chance to listen to professors at the university discuss their own environmental research.

Her learning experience did not stop there, however. She mentions that she also gained some insight into environmental policy and how the government deals with such issues. May also adds that participating in internships specifically is important because they make all the work one does in school worthwhile.

She explains, “When buried in the depths of teachers’ notes and worrying over upcoming tests, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees, so to speak, and wonder what the point of all this work is. Actually going out and applying concepts learned abstractly during the school year makes it all seem worth it in the end.” May feels lucky to have been able to take part in this learning experience and has definitely taken a lot from it.

Emily Liu, an incoming junior at South, has also been very active this summer by volunteering at St. Mary`s Medical Center. This is her second summer volunteering there.

Emily spent her time at the hospital this summer helping others find their way around. She says that she learned how to communicate better with others through her volunteer assignment at the hospital; moreover, she adds that she has made new friends and feels as though she has become a better person. Emily also expresses that doing different things during summer is important because it helps a person grow and learn.

Both May and Emily gained much knowledge about the world around them and about themselves this summer. They both agree that being involved in something like they have is important for a student to grow and recommend it to all students.

PHOTO CAPS: 1. Emily Liu

2. May Wang


Spanish National Honor Society welcomes new members

by Haniyyah Sardar, sophomore, Council Rock High School South

As the school year comes to a close, many students are attending end-of-year meetings for school clubs and preparing for finals. For others, however, the end of the year is the beginning of something new and exciting.

On June 4th, 33 students from Council Rock High School South were inducted into the Spanish National Honor Society, a prestigious national organization that is composed of the best and brightest Spanish students. Here at South, Spanish is the language most studied by students, but there are only a select few who meet the requirements of the honor society.

Ronit Shvarzman, a sophomore at South, was one of the students inducted this year. Ronit says, “Being inducted into the society is important because it symbolizes my hard work over the years and recognizes my commitment to Spanish.”

She understands the benefits of learning a new language and plans to show her dedication to Spanish by continuing her studies in the language for the rest of high school.

Kelsey Sattler, another inductee, thinks the society is important because it “recognizes people who work hard.” She also plans to continue studying Spanish for the rest of high school and maybe even in college.

In this time of new beginnings for the most recent additions to the Spanish Honor Society, it is important to understand the benefits of learning any foreign language and the opportunities it can open. According to Ronit, learning Spanish “opens a new passageway to a different world of both culture and communication.”

She adds that learning Spanish in particular is beneficial because of the increasing number of Spanish-speaking people in the world. Becoming a part of the Spanish Honor Society has brought her one step closer to understanding the different cultures associated with the language.

However, Spanish is not the only beneficial language. All languages are extremely helpful in many ways.

In addition to allowing people to become appreciative of different cultures, learning a foreign language in high school can also help students in the future when applying for jobs as this skill could give a candidate more value. Both Ronit and Kelsey feel that learning any language is extremely valuable and strongly recommend learning one for these reasons.

They have taken the most out of learning Spanish and have already reaped the benefits of it. Their hard work has paid off as they become part of a prominent society that encourages knowledge of foreign language.

Being a part of this society is very admirable, and both girls encourage every student to work hard to achieve the same honor they have.


CR South creates mural to show its ‘Solid Roots Branching Out to the Future’

by Amanda Molinari, Senior

After months of hard work, students and staff from Council Rock High School South have completed another beautiful mural in honor of its 10-year anniversary. The beautiful artwork displayed in front of the school’s cafeteria is called “Solid Roots, Branching Out to the Future.”

The 13-foot-long 6-foot-high mosaic consists of hundreds of tiles forming the branches of a tree and is complete with famous pictures of meaningful moments throughout South’s 10 years.

Art teachers, Mrs. Taylor, Ms. Kroberger and Madame Kohl French teacher and leader of this project, presented the concept in July 2012, but the project wasn’t finished until late December.

In order to raise enough money for such a big piece, students in the Art department and French Honor Society worked at Fall Festival, conducted bake sales, and even held a car wash despite the cold fall weather. Donations were most appreciated.

Nick Hesson, Claire Chu, Grace Chu, Tim Averianov, and Eric Gasper played key roles in creating the mosaic. These students stayed for hours after school, along with extra time on weekends, to complete the mural by its December deadline.

Along with 250 other students, as well as family members and staff, these students helped to shape and design the diptych. Up to three generations were said to take part in the monument.

This creation was far from easy. Each piece of tile was broken and puzzled together onto a wooden frame to form the branches of a tree. Students who broke the tiles were required to wear goggles to ensure their safety. Other students helped mix the grout and place the tiles accordingly.

The first tiles were placed by Principal Funk, and ninth grade Principal Cassidy.

Nick Hesson made leaves by hand out of clay to fit around the branches. Sisters, Claire and Grace Chu, hand cut and placed every blade of grass at the bottom of the mosaic. Each piece had to be handled with care and was then grouted to the wooden base.

Grouting was done on the last Saturday with a lot of hand finishing and shining to enhance each piece of tile.

To frame the mural South staff hand-selected black pebbles and placed them to perfection. When the time came to hang the diptych, CR South engineer secured the two very heavy panels on the wall.

Madame Kohl claims “South had a story to tell” and this was their way of doing so. The mural includes over 30 square tiles with pictures capturing South’s greatest moments.

Some of these memories include sports prodigies, art programs, volunteer work, sciences and mathematics, world languages, new technologies, teachers inspiring students, prom, graduation, industrial arts, pep rallies, musical groups, the theatre company, and more!

Staff and students were brought together to celebrate their school and created a masterpiece that will live on forever.

“Solid roots, to recall our past; branching out, looking forward to the future.”

Another job well done, South.


‘Touch the Future’ Art Show winner


Karina Grossman, a student at Council Rock High School South, holds the project which won her an award for “Best of Category – 3D Functional” in the recent “Touch the Future” Art Show sponsored by the Mideastern Region of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and held at Arcadia University in Glenside, Montgomery County.


Holland Scout earns Eagle rank


by June Portnoy

Kevin Kauermann of Troop 280 at St. Bede The Venerable Parish, recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest award in scouting.

Kevin, currently a senior at Council Rock High School South, became a Cub Scout in third grade.

“My father, who was a Boy Scout in Troop 1 in Philadelphia, motivated me to become a Scout, recognizing all the benefits of joining,” says Kevin.

When Kevin was in sixth grade, he crossed over to become a Boy Scout, and in 2011, during his sophomore year in high school, he began preparing his project to become an Eagle Scout.

“Only two percent of Boy Scouts in the Unites States earn their Eagle Scout medal because it truly is a challenging, time-consuming process, but I knew it would be worth the hard work to earn it,” he says.

Kevin, who grew up near Tyler State Park and spent a lot of his youth bike riding through its trails, wanted to contribute something tangible to the park. He also wanted to do something constructive because he has an interest in mechanical engineering, a degree he plans to pursue in college.

Kevin met with the Manager of Maintenance at Tyler State Park, who mentioned that he had a need for somebody to assemble new picnic tables. The park had purchased these tables, but had nobody to put them together.

“I liked the idea of assembling these picnic tables because I knew I could go back to the park and see people enjoying them after they were completed,” says Kevin.

Part of Kevin’s Eagle Scout project included teaching his troop how to assemble the tables, so he initially went to the maintenance yard at the park with his father to be sure he knew how to construct the tables.

In addition to simply assembling the tables, Kevin took the project to another level by deciding to also stain them, so they wouldn’t rot and would be waterproof. He also wanted to add reinforcement to the tables so they wouldn’t sag.

“Because of these extra steps, I estimate that these tables will last about 10 years, as compared to the previous tables at the park that lasted around five years,” says Kevin.

While still at the maintenance yard, Kevin took pictures of the different steps involved in constructing the tables. He then created a user manual, which included step-by-step instructions on assembling these picnic tables, along with photos he took to visually describe how to build the tables.

“My hope was that this manual would help the scouts assemble the tables,” says Kevin.

Kevin selected 11 picnic tables in the worst condition at three of the park’s picnic areas to replace. According to Kevin, some of the tables were sagging into mud, while others had nails sticking out of them. After disposing of these tables, he needed to construct five tables at the Boat House picnic area, three at Hickory Run and three at Upper Plantation.

His project came to fruition on October 1st and 2nd, 2011 when about 20 of his troop members assisted Kevin in assembling the picnic benches.

“While watching Kevin oversee this project and delegate responsibilities to the scouts, I realized that he had developed strong leadership skills,” says his proud mom, Elizabeth. “He was very effective in getting everyone to follow his instructions.”

Says Kevin, “Today when I see people sitting at the picnic tables we built, I get a great sense of accomplishment.”

Following the construction of the tables, Kevin was required to put together a project summary, which included all the specifics of his project. This past October 15th, 2012, Kevin’s project passed the Scout’s Board of Review, meaning he became an official Eagle Scout.

He received his Eagle Scout medal during a ceremony held at St. Bede’s on November 24th.

Kevin, who plays the cello at high school, performed a musical piece with three other cellists, who coincidentally are also Boy Scouts.

“I felt so honored to receive my medal,” says Kevin. “As they say, ‘Once you’re an Eagle Scout, you’re always an Eagle Scout.’ And I plan to always live my life by the Scout law and oath.”

Kevin hopes that someday he will have a son, and like his dad, he will encourage him to become a Cub Scout.

PHOTO CAP: Kevin Kauermann