Council Rock North Orchestra tours Costa Rica

by Patrick Mulcahey, junior, Council Rock High School North

From February 8th to February 16th, the Council Rock Orchestra toured Costa Rica, giving concerts and absorbing the culture. The group traveled to San José, the capital of the country, to Arenal, a resort town located around the rainforest and an active volcano, and to Punta Leona, a beach village.

This long awaited trip was announced last year and was highly anticipated by both its members and the school community. As soon as the trip was announced, massive fundraising efforts began to try to cut the cost of the trip. The orchestra held multiple car washes, sold food products, and hosted many pancake breakfasts.

With much preparation came much excitement, and despite almost a whole week of snow days, the orchestra arrived at 2:00am sharp on February 8th at North to begin the long journey that lay ahead. The orchestra had two flights: Philadelphia to Houston and then Houston to San José. On arrival to San José, perhaps the greatest change was the weather: gone were the days of snow and cold; warm, balmy days had arrived.

San José, the capital of Costa Rica, is the major metropolitan center of the country. Here, the orchestra toured a coffee plantation to learn about the country’s most prized export, hiked on one of the local volcanoes, had a walking tour of the city, and gave two concerts. At their first concert, the orchestra had the opportunity for some local interaction when they played a piece written by a Costa Rican composer side-by-side with a Costa Rican youth orchestra comprised of high school-aged musicians.

After four days in San José, the orchestra traveled to Arenal, a town at the foot of an active volcano. In Arenal, the orchestra took a suspended bridges tour of the rainforest canopy, ziplined, and enjoyed the natural hot springs near the volcano. It was in La Fortuna, a town very close to Arenal, that the group gave its last concert of the tour in the local church whose acoustics were unsurpassed in quality.

The orchestra’s last destination was Punta Leona. It goes without saying that it was paradise there with white sand beaches, clear blue water, and warm temperatures. Here, the orchestra enjoyed the last few days of their trip. This was short-lived, as February 18th was the day to travel home, to return to school and (of course) the snow.

Senior Jason Clibanoff, primary trombone for the orchestra and three-year veteran, remembers the trip quite fondly, “I am so glad that I was able to travel with the music program again; I traveled with the band to Argentina my freshman year, and to travel with the orchestra this year was another great opportunity.” The opinions of other orchestra members are much the same. Costa Rica was a great opportunity to spread the musical passion of North and to learn about other cultures. 

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Dasia Pressley pushes ahead at state championships

by Natalie Pietrowski, freshman, Neshaminy High School

March 1st brought a new month and excitement for the overly anticipated season of spring. And this year it also produced unforgettable moments for the Neshaminy High School Winter Track team. Records were broken and dreams became reality at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) Indoor State Championships at State College, PA. 

Neshaminy’s own Dasia Pressley ran the 200-meter dash and not only placed first, capturing the title of PA State Champion, but also qualified for nationals. With a record-breaking time of 24.42 seconds, she is ranked fifth in the entire nation. It is the first time in Neshaminy history a sprinter has done this well. “It’s a great feeling and something I will never forget,” Dasia said. 

Pressure was high at the state competition, but Dasia kept calm and kept the faith. “I just prayed and remembered that I deserved to be here like every other girl. It still hasn’t really hit me how serious this is,” she said. Dasia also ran in the women’s 60-meter dash and placed third. Her time of 7.66 seconds is currently the new Winter Track record.

It wasn’t just the 200-meter champ who set new records on the track at Penn State; many other competitors gave it everything they had and left it all on the track that day. High jumper Lisa Patterson finished 15th overall, with a total height of 1.52 meters. Lisa was just a few inches shy of beating the school record. Junior Alyssa Zukowski also finished the season nicely placing seventh overall in the 60m hurdles. With a time of 9.15 seconds, Alyssa now holds the school record.

The 4×200 meter relay team made up of Dasia, Cheyenne Oswald, Alex Jackson and Saloni Hebron finished ninth overall with a time of 1 minute and 45.63 seconds.

Moving from ninth to fifth place in the nation in just one year takes as much motivation as it does dedication, and no one knows this the way Dasia does. She admitted that when she got comfortable she wasn’t working as hard as she wanted to. She decided to step things up and take it more seriously.  “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” she said, explaining her motivation.

The sprinter is already planning to qualify for outdoor state championships and hopes to win big again. “My goal for spring is to maybe win state champ again in the 200 and even place in the 100,” she said.

“Work hard, and never get comfortable because there is always someone out there trying to take your spot,” Dasia said, advising other athletes. “Always stay humble and never arrogant, because attitude is everything.”

PHOTO CAP: Dasia Pressley

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Bringing New Hope to Texas’ third smallest town

by Josh Searle, freshman, New Hope-Solebury High School

Mask & Zany, New Hope-Solebury High School’s renowned theater club, is taking the audience into the quaint Texas town of Tuna in their latest theatrical endeavor. Certain members of the club are currently tackling (fish pun intended) the straight play of “Greater Tuna,” a comedy following the lives of Tuna’s less than normal residents. In New Hope’s production of the play, there are only five cast members portraying Tuna’s entire population consisting of over 20 wacky characters. The cast members change costumes and personalities faster than a jackrabbit runs from a coyote in this hilarious send-up of small town morals. If satires and farces are your type of comedy, you will find endless enjoyment and hilarity in the antics of Tuna’s citizens.

[Read more...]

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Choosing the right college

by Emilie Nazario, senior, Morrisville High School

Senior year is a stressful time for some students. Many of them struggle deciding the next step toward their future. It is an important decision, which requires time to evaluate. Even though this decision can be difficult, there are steps to make the process easier.

The first step to finding the perfect college is discovering one’s passion. Whether it is becoming a doctor or the next prodigy, this is a major step. With this information a student can find colleges that have their specific major or curriculums to help them reach their goals.

The next step is to visit the colleges you have the most interest in. This will help narrow down the list of colleges to a few that are acceptable.

Next, students should apply to colleges. Once receiving acceptance letters, the tricky part begins.

Tuition is a major deciding factor when it comes to choosing a college. Every year college tuition increases, which makes it harder for families to afford. Therefore, students should consider colleges that offer good financial aid packages and scholarships. Also, students should ask their guidance counselors about additional scholarships that are available; this can make a major difference. Even though money is an important factor, it is honestly up to the student to make the decision of what they truly want.

The decision of choosing between good colleges is the most difficult. If one still has trouble deciding, they should look over the remaining colleges again and see what they have to offer. Students should visit again and see if they still prefer the living arrangements in one college as compared to the others, or if they prefer certain classes at one college, etc.

Overall, it’s all about the feeling one gets when they find the right school. For example, former MHS student Brenmarie Rentas said, “When I first visited Cairn University, I felt instantly like I belonged there.” This feeling of belonging and joy will help the students make their decision; one should trust their gut instinct.

Even though selecting a college is a tough decision, there are ways to make it easier. Every senior out there is currently struggling with this decision. However, once the decision is made, there’s nothing left to worry about. Senior year should be filled with fun and enjoyment.

Good luck to the class of 2014, and may their futures bring much success!

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Red, White, and Blue Night at CB East

by Sarah Thiroway and Erin Farrell, juniors, Central Bucks East High School

No event during the Central Bucks East High School year inspires as much interclass rivalry as the annual Red, White, and Blue Night. Placing classes against one another in traditional fashion, sophomores, juniors, and seniors went head-to-head January 30th to prove which class was truly worthy of earning the coveted Patriot Cup.

Added to the East agenda in 2010, this event has quickly become a student and faculty favorite.

Despite rumors that the competition is rigged in favor of seniors, the juniors and sophomore classes are undaunted by the upperclassmen. Prior to the event, Yelena Wermers, junior, explained,  “I love how competitive all the classes are; the atmosphere itself is awesome. I guess in sophomore year we didn’t have as much enthusiasm. This year, the juniors are going to bring it though – watch out seniors!”

Senior class president Lizzy O’Connell quickly argued, “Since sophomore year, the class of 2014 has always been a threat, so we’re ready to leave it all at our last Red, White, and Blue Night. This is our house.”

The competition itself quickly grew heated with events like the three-legged race, tug-of-war, the dizzy bat relays, and balloon pop. Even in school the day of the event, the auxiliary gym was flooded with the sound of vuvuzelas and arms and faces covered in their class’s paint. Few students came without at least some form of patriotic attire, varying from capes to tutus.

The night did not come without hard work. Students and class councils alike stayed for hours prior and after preparing the gym, transforming it from its daily appearance into one of the most competitive, spirited atmospheres in East’s history.

Despite the fervent class rivalry, the senior class managed to defeat the two younger classes in a close victory. Each class gave a good showing in posters and decorating, providing a startling turnout – even the sophomores, a class usually too afraid to come out and compete against the intimidating older classes – had a remarkable showing.

Throughout the competition, the sophomores held their own, winning events like Limbo and the Twizzler-Marshmallow competition. Kelsey Mulholland, sophomore, explained, “I thought it was fun seeing all three classes become involved, and it was an event I am glad that I could be a part of. I’m so excited to participate again next year!”

However, the juniors edged out in front of the sophomores, taking home victories in the girls’ Tug-of-War, though certainly their eyes are trained on next year’s competition to take home the trophy.

In spite of the valiant efforts of the other classes, the seniors managed to leave with a win. Absolutely destroying the other two classes in the boys’ Tug-of-War and trivia, the seniors were merciless in pursuing the victory they’ve been chasing for the past three years, taking home the Patriot Cup.

Senior Matt Gonsiewski commented, “We won that trophy with our blood, sweat, and tears.”

Another senior, Richard Hartung, explained, “We just work harder than anyone else. Best senior class to ever do it.”

However, regardless of who won, all classes can take Red, White, and Blue Night as a chance to unite as a school and appreciate East and the high school experience.

President Pablo Padin of the junior class wisely explained, “Our generation is often cited as being unappreciative of everything we have, but I would argue that Red, White, and Blue Night proves just the opposite. Over a hundred high school students gathering together to celebrate their school spirit says to me that our generation definitely realizes the incredible opportunities we have…appreciating how blessed we are to go to school here.”

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Student Council making a difference at Pennsbury High School

by Shanzeh Khan, junior, Pennsbury High School

This year Pennsbury High School’s Student Council has worked hard to help the needy and less fortunate. This couldn’t be done if it weren’t for the four student council advisors, one for each grade, including Mrs. Catherine Callahan, Mrs. Lisa Henderson, and Mrs. Tammy Pesci, all social studies teachers, along with Mrs. Elizabeth Titano, a foreign language teacher. Student Council ran two donation drives during the first semester of the school year.

The first one was a Food Drive that took place before Thanksgiving. Student Council collected over 1,400 food items for the Bucks County Homeless Shelter. In addition to the food donations, they also gave $250 to the shelter to help people in need during Thanksgiving. Student Council has been holding this event for many years.

The other donation drive they ran during the first semester was collecting money during student lunches to donate to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and the tornados in Illinois. This time the students who are part of Student Council approached the advisors themselves and asked them to do something to help the victims of these devastating disasters. They raised $175 dollars. 

These are only a couple of the fundraising efforts they have done, with hopefully more good deeds to come from students and teachers who like to make a difference.

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CB West High School presents ‘Crazy for You’ next month

by Sami Evans, senior, Central Bucks West

“Crazy for You” “is a slapstick, exaggerated, ridiculous comedy,” says Colleen Smith, a senior at CB West and president of the Harlequin Club, the high school’s theater group. The story centers on a 1930’s banker, Bobby Child (played by senior Cayce Kolodney), whose dream in life is to dance on stage. Bobby is led to a place called Deadrock, Nevada, where it is nothing like the city he knows. He, like the star of every musical, falls for a girl, Polly Baker (played by junior Jade Hebling), who is trying to save her theater from bankruptcy – the same theater that Bobby is coming to shut down. And that is just the beginning. This high- energy comedy includes mistaken identity, plot twists, and many fabulous dance numbers.

“Our director and choreographer have great ambitions for this show, and the cast thus far has done an excellent job working to meet their expectations,” Colleen comments. The cast has been rehearsing two to five times a week since before winter break, while even holding their own student-run rehearsals to review dance numbers.

The show is full of non-stop dancing – mostly tap – which requires the cast to put in more work than they might have put into previous shows. Even the boys have learned how to tap dance, and they have impressed the director immensely.

“Harlequin Club is like my second home,” cast member and senior Dylan Burke remarks. “I’ve never met a crazier group of people, and I’ve never been so proud. ‘Crazy for You’ is one of the most intensified and jaw-dropping performances that I have ever had the pleasure of performing in.”

Colleen agrees. “I know the audience will love it!” Come and see “Crazy for You” at CB West on March 20th, 21st, and 22nd! For more details visit the Harlequin Club webpage at http://cbsd.org/domain/478.

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The story behind the Storytellers Campaign

by Emily Schlotter, senior, Central Bucks West High School

So many people throughout the school day write homework pages and appointment times on their hands, but if we focused on writing love on our arms, the world of mental illness would not be so isolating. Recently, a group of seniors have brought the Storytellers Campaign to CB West, symbolizing the passion they have to make a difference. As this campaign allows people struggling with mental illnesses to express their own stories, I interviewed Sami Minneroff, one of the students who brought the campaign to West, to tell us the story behind the storytellers:

Q. Who helped to start the Storytellers Club?

A. The Storytellers Campaign was something that seniors, Megan Leahy, Paige Taylor and I really wanted to bring to West. In order to do that, we needed the assistance of Mrs. Lisa Corr, Mr. Brian Caughie, and Mr. Jason Bucher.

Q. How did you get the idea to start the club and what does it support?

A. One day in class, I saw Megan wearing a t-shirt promoting “To Write Love on Her Arms.” I asked her about it and she gave me the link to their site. This worldwide organization raises money, awareness, hope and help for those struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and more. It also strives to get rid of the stigmas associated with mental illnesses and provides the help (such as therapy and medication) that people need.

Q. What has the club accomplished so far?

A. We’ve raised almost $2,000 through online donations and fundraisers.

Q. What can people do to help Storytellers?

A. We’ve had so many people help us out during the duration of this campaign, including seniors Madison Schaffer and Jenna Peters to name a few. Even though the campaign ends soon, we are always looking for people to help us spread awareness. We plan to continue to spread awareness even after the campaign ends, possibly holding meetings after school or discussing this serious, but important topic in homeroom.

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CR North artists chase their dreams

by Elise Evinski and Julia Righter, Council Rock High School North

Awash with talented artists and creative minds, Council Rock High School North’s Art Forum has many ideas pouring in to help the school become a beautifully decorated learning environment. This year, the club is focusing on a few large projects, including a massive and ornate dream-catcher that will be displayed in North’s lobby. Complete with handmade ceramic beads and an intricately woven net, the dream-catcher will be a symbol of North pride.

The dream catcher project originally began with a few students and Mr. Ed McAdams, a current North employee.  “It started out as a graduation project,” says senior Maddy Tate, vice president of Art Forum. “Eventually, it turned into more than just a required school project, and it became something we really wanted to see hanging in the school.”

The students who began the project originally wanted to incorporate natural reds, browns, and oranges into the dream-catcher to create an organic, Native American vibe and tie in the history of the school. However, it was later agreed that the use of blue and white colors would be a better decision to help represent North and to show school spirit.

The beautiful piece of art is still under construction and in the capable hands of North’s artists. Art Forum members meet once a month to weave and shape the detailed web and to create and glaze delicate ceramic beads, which will adorn the project.

The dream-catcher is not only pleasing to the eye, but it also holds a deep message for all students and staff at North. “We hope that the dream-catcher will be a hit,” says Maddy, “and that it will remind everyone at North to always chase his or her dreams.”

With a history of exquisite work, Art Forum will without a doubt create a piece of art that the students and staff at North will appreciate.

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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

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