By Mackenzie Reilly
The Wall High School Environmental Club has achieved Green Flag Certification from EcoSchools USA, the highest offered level of certification from the nation’s largest ‘green school’ program, an accomplishment many years in the making.
The groundwork of the process was laid by the founding members of the club. Across multiple different graduating classes, the Environmental Club worked to mitigate the impact of the school district on the environment: taking account of waste production and energy consumption, planting native species on school grounds to promote biodiversity as well as educating peers on issues. The journey to this point, says club officer and Wall senior Maxim Ilin, was complex.
“The process was difficult… There was a lot of paperwork,” he said.
In order to achieve its level of certification, the club had to complete three different pathways within the program, including the mandatory energy pathway necessary for certification. The other two chosen were Climate Change (Biodiversity) and Consumption & Waste. The work done for the Biodiversity pathway also earned the club recognition from the State of New Jersey when they came third in the New Jersey Student Climate Challenge and traveled to the Drumthwacket Foundation in Princeton to accept a grant for their work. Club advisor Mr. Josh Tennant, who teaches biology and environmental science, thanked the numerous students and staff involved in bringing the project to fruition.
“There were so many people that were involved in getting us to this point that weren’t necessarily publicly recognized… so in case they read this, I’d like to acknowledge their hard work,” he said.
Mr. Tennant and the club’s officers were recently invited to give a presentation on their work to the Wall Board of Education. The officers gave a brief explantion of the process involved in completing each pathway, including initiatives such as community cleanups, waste and energy audits, and restoring native habitats. Each of these initiatives saw participation across many different groups and communities within the school.
“It really was from a diverse group of students… students in the environmental [science] class, students in biology class, students who I’ve never had in class who helped with artwork,” Mr. Tennant explained. “That’s how you get projects like this done. It’s all hands on deck.”
The presentation was followed by an in-school ceremony in which a representative from EcoSchools USA and Principal Mr. Kevin Davis awarded the students certificates in recognition of their efforts. They were joined by alumni Riya Ajmera and David Roberts, who helped to start the club on the road to the award when they were students at Wall. Roberts now serves on the Wall Township Environmental Advisory Committee and they both continue to advocate for environmental issues in their studies and careers. At the end of the ceremony, the officers, alumni and Mr. Tennant were photographed in front of the Green Flag, which hangs in a showcase in the E hallway of the high school.
Despite their recent successes, the club is taking no time to rest. It continues to pursue further certifications through Sustainable Jersey for Schools and looks forward to expanding their efforts beyond the scope of the student body.
“My hope is that it can take the momentum we’ve started and bring it more towards a building level… we want to get some of the adults more involved because that expands our reach to things that can have… more of an impact,” Mr. Tennant said.
The officers have been joined this year by a team of club interns, who will shadow them and take over their positions when the officers graduate at the end of this year. Through this continuity of leadership, the club hopes to maintain their momentum in the coming years through the tremendous enthusiasm of the soon-to-be officers.
“I’m pretty excited to begin research on what we can do to improve and find other activities that we can partake in… like [ways to] perpetuate awareness about the environment, and why it’s crucial,” said intern and sophomore Skyla Bicca.
The club continues to plan new initiatives to mitigate the school’s impact on the environment, including upcoming cleanups and consumption audits.
“Everyone’s really passionate about the work they’re doing, really focused,” Bicca added.
By Zach Lichter
2020 has taken a toll on our daily lives. It has affected many physically, mentally and, most of all, financially.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit back in March, unemployment rose dramatically. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that New Jersey had the highest unemployment rate in the country as late as November 2020. Many people who were non-essential workers were scared about being laid off because they didn´t know when they would ever go back to work.
Across the country, people have been helping struggling families by volunteering at food banks and having people donate gift cards so struggling families can buy essential goods. One of the ways Wall High School got involved was with its student-run fundraiser, Project Snowflake. It has proven more important than ever because there have been a lot of Wall families who are in need during the holidays and the school year.
“Project Snowflake is special every year. Ms. Lucas and I were a bit worried that we wouldn't be able to help as many families as we did in the past prior to COVID,” said Wall Family Liaison Counselor Mr. Ivan Goldenberg. “Fortunately, people really were generous and actually reached out to us looking to donate to those less fortunate in Wall.”
In November, the Wall High School Peer Leaders ran a Be Kind fundraiser. They wanted to spread the message to being kind while actually helping with a true act of kindness. Students and staff members had the opportunity of purchasing a “Wall Be Kind” mask or a plain “Be Kind” mask on the Wall High School Be Kind store through RKE Athletic. The masks cost $10 and all the proceeds went towards Project Snowflake.
“We did have the Be Kind mask fundraiser which did provide some additional funds. We are very grateful as some local businesses, staff members, students, community members, the Township of Wall and Recreation department, our own families and friends have all helped with donations and to get the word out,” said Wall High School Psychologist Ms. Danielle Lucas. “Therefore we have been very humbled by and grateful for the gift cards and funds that have been donated and donations still keep coming in.”
Numerous staff members have been able to find other ways that they can still support Project Snowflake even though it’s difficult to hold fundraisers. Students and staff members can donate gift cards in any amount. The most-needed gift cards are from Visa, Walmart and Target. ShopRite, Foodtown and Acme gift cards are also needed as well.
This year, approximately 90 students have been helping out with Project Snowflake by assisting during the holidays. Now more than ever people have been helping out as this is a year when many people are in need.
“It is so great to see the spirit of giving that is represented through Project Snowflake,” Mr. Goldenberg said. “I like that people still think about others less fortunate during a time where you would expect the vast majority of folks concerned about their own well being (rightfully so) during this pandemic. I am honored to work in a town where empathy and generosity exist.”
This holiday Wall High School has been grateful for many people’s support. The people at Project Snowflake said they wish to truly thank everybody for helping them make a difference and also spreading some kindness as they help struggling Wall families navigate through a difficult year.
By Ryan Sy
Wall High School achieved outstanding Advanced Placement test scores last school year that well exceed the national average.
Wall ranks high and above average compared to schools around the country. In the 2018-19 school year, 184 students took one or more AP tests and 173 of those students received at least one 3, which is a 94-percent passage rate as a 3 or better is considered proficient in each respective subject.
“I do believe that this has been the highest average since I've been here or at least since 2010 when I became the Director [of Guidance],” said Mrs. Kathryn Misa. “I used to get an overall global score, but this year they reported that in AP Biology our school had 95.6 percent of the students pass the exam and the global average was 64.7 percent.”
Wall had a 100-percent passage rate in AP Chemistry, which was way above the national average of 54.6. These are great examples of how Wall is stacking up against other schools across the nation.
The social studies department saw some success as well. In AP U.S. History and AP Human Geography, Wall had a 100-percent passage rate in both classes while the national average was 56 percent and 49.1 percent, respectfully. The AP Human Geography national scores were the lowest this decade and because of that, College Board changed the curriculum and the exam for this school year.
“The biggest skill that stood out during the AP exams was definitely the time management and an understanding the wording of the AP questions,” said senior Sean White. “The preparations for AP exams are quite thorough and often you understand your weak and strong topics well before taking the exam as well as about what you will get on the exam at your current level without any additional studying.”
Because of factors like its AP success, U.S. News and World Report currently ranks Wall 130th in the state among high schools.
By Ryan Sy
Wall High School for the first time ever released a survey to the students to see which classes they are interested in taking for the 2018-19 school year and potentially beyond next year as electives.
The survey was designed to see what classes students are interested in as electives next year and years to come. It included new classes and updated descriptions for classes for next year to make it more clear to students when they are scheduling their classes for next school year.
“To see the courses you want to take,” said Ms. Kathryn Misa, the Director of Guidance at Wall High School, emphasizing the word ‘you.’ “We also wanted feedback from the teachers.”
A new class which is going to be added to the elective list is American Sign Language. The class will be a half-year course for students. It will be added because of the interest that was shown in the class.
Some classes which were requested are going to be rolled into other classes like photography and social media are going to go into TV media classes and nursing is going to be with anatomy. Also, the class descriptions will be clearer than years past so students can get a full understanding of what each elective has to offer.
“It gives a message that the school is willing to make classes in order to give the student body a wider range of classes in order to expand our knowledge regarding our interests,” said junior David Roberts. The survey will directly impact this year’s junior class since next year will be their senior year at Wall.
The survey consists of combination of feedback from students and teachers. That is to ensure the maximum amount of feedback possible for potential new classes next year. It also gives two different points of view coming from students and teachers. The survey’s goal was to get as much feedback as possible to ensure people’s requests are fulfilled to the best ability.
The survey overall got a positive reaction and will return in following years to get feedback from both the faculty and the students. It is a way to reach out to students and staff to get their views on certain courses that should be incorporated into the school curriculum.
By Ryan Sy
The 2017-18 school has begun at Wall High School. The new year brings in new teachers and staff to almost every school in the country. This year at Wall High School is no different.
There are seven new faces this year. One staff member is Mr. David Pitts, a Science teacher. Another is Mr. Victor Rivera, who is a Physical Education/Health teacher. Some other staff members include Mr. Daniel Pearce, Technology education teacher, Ms. Gretchen Reinhardt, a secretary for Assistant Principal Kristen Scott, Mr. Brendan McDermott, athletic trainer, Ms. Jenna Rutsky, a leave replacement teacher in the Social Studies department, and Mr. Stephen Plunkett, a new paraprofessional helping out in the hallways. All of the new staff members are trying to make a good impression on the students and other staff members.
“I could not think of a better place,” said Mr. Pitts when asked about the High School. “The students are super friendly.”
This year, Mr. Pitts is teaching Honors Physics, Conceptual Physics and Chemistry. He taught in Savannah, Ga., ands at Rumson-Fair Haven before coming to Wall. Prior to that, Mr. Pitts worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years.
“He is not too strict but likes to get stuff done,” said Jack Wolter, a sophomore in Mr. Pitts’ Chemistry class.
“I love Wall,” said Ms. Rutsky, who taught at North Brunswick High School before coming to Wall to teach U.S. History I & II.