By Chris Dailey
The new school year is in full swing for Wall High School and the proverbial fog that most students develop over the summer has faded away as quizzes and tests are assigned.
With the homecoming dance rapidly approaching and the football team winning the annual pink-out game big, there is a lot to be cheerful about, however, students also are starting to feel the stress of keeping up with grades and on top of their assignments.
“The school year is going great so far,” said Wall junior Stephen Mastoridis. “Math class with Mrs. Butler is pretty tough. My favorite new teacher has to be Mr. Conover. He’s the most chill teacher ever, knows what he’s doing and he’s really on top of it. It’s his first year in this school, but [he taught] forever in New Brunswick.”
Senior Nico Feng, who recently transferred from the Ranney School, works at Corner Bagelry where he made a lot of friends who already attend Wall, helping him ease into the uneasy feeling of transferring as a senior.
“I’m having a really good time,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Feng recently signed up to be a cheerleader at the upcoming Powder Puff game.
Underclassmen, meanwhile, are beginning to find their routine and footing within the school.
Donaven Kline, a freshman who moved to Wall this summer, has made friends on the soccer team and is looking forward to the winter bowling season as the older guys are excited for the young superstar to join the team. He has bowled four perfect games in his career and the sports teams have been helpful in making new friends at Wall.
“My time so far at Wall has been amazing, especially coming in as a transfer,” Kline said. “I have made a lot of new friends, most of them coming from the soccer team. The soccer season has been a great experience and, during the varsity games, the atmosphere is awesome, along with having great teammates to support me.”
As Kline embarks on new beginnings at Wall, senior Matt Remishofski is putting a close on a storied history at the school as the senior class president and the reigning Junior Prom king. Now working on the morning television show, Remishofski is enjoying the start he has had to his final year at Wall.
“My school year has been great,” he said. “I like my schedule a lot. The cross country team is doing good. I recommend everybody to join the track team when winter and spring come, but overall, the school year has been off to a good start.”
School spirit is high. A total of 541 students signed up to attend the homecoming dance. Hallway decorating groups are assigned and ready to decorate, and students are finally back in the groove.
By Chris Dailey
Ms. Marni Henry-Parks, Wall’s new athletic director, has used a fresh mindset and attitude to insert life back into the Wall athletic department when it needed it most.
She has been visible throughout the gyms, fields and hallways for the Crimson Knights after being introduced amid a hazing scandal surrounding the football team and dark days for the Wall High School.
None of it, however, fazed her.
“My philosophy coming in was I am going to meet with the interview team, see what they are looking for, and then how could I or would I fit in,” Ms. Henry-Parks said. “And when I sat down in that interview – a 9-person interview – I felt like I was at home because my strengths have always been team building, the mental and emotional component. Athletics is great, but I want kids to feel good about themselves. I want people to know their value. Mental health is a huge thing and, when I came in here, I always wanted to see how I can help, how I can promote and how I can show the awesome things the kids are doing. Leaving that interview, I was like ‘oh my gosh, this is where I’m needed and where I fit in.’ That’s how it all happened and I purposely didn’t ask for names, ask for stories, I want to come in fresh because I wanted my experience to be completely authentic.”
From team-building activities with the soccer teams to being at every basketball game possible, no matter the level, and visibility for each and every student in the program, Ms. Henry-Parks has instilled culture with the Crimson Knights.
One of her main strategies for doing this is her Twitter page she established (@wallathletics) where she live streams many games and gives reports on all the amazing athletes in the Crimson Knights’ program.
“If you are insecure or have anxiety, that’s normal,” she said. “It’s nothing to hide, it's our human experience. How can we lean on each other; that’s what athletics does. It’s a family. It’s about not just winning championships but making a family and becoming a happy, healthy individual.”
Ms. Henry-Parks cares and gives the student-athletes yet another figure they can feel comfortable talking to if need be.
“I have greatly enjoyed Ms. Henry’s time here at the high school,” said Wall junior Colin Roarty, member of the soccer, wrestling and track teams. “I believe she’s made a positive influence not only on the teams I am a part of but all of them. She goes to great lengths to help teams such as posts on Twitter and taking far drives to watch games and matches. She has made a great impact this year because athletes look forward to her coming to events and enjoy everything she has done so far.”
With a background in sports and attributing much of her journey before becoming Wall’s athletic director to her overcoming obstacles through sports, Ms. Henry-Parks said she knows what it means to be a kid, have struggles, and use sports to navigate through them.
Apart from working with the high school’s student-athletes, Ms. Henry-Parks role as athletic director also sees her dive into other areas of health and physical education within the district.
“I’m also helping out with health and physical education, particularly with the teachers as far as supervision and doing observations,” she said. “There are a lot of different pieces, but I have two assistant ADs at the middle school that are running the day-to-day operations being able to supervise everything and oversee. I’m helping them out when bigger issues arise. They have a scoreboard that's broken. There are so many things that need to get done; number one is eligibility. Does every kid have their paperwork in? Are they cleared academically? All these other components. Then what do we need to keep the kids safe in terms of field equipment and space.
Ms. Henry-Parks was born in Toms River and spent her high school years at Toms River South before Rowan University where she played field hockey as well as lacrosse.
“I played softball, there weren’t a lot of travel club teams,” she said. “Softball was really the only thing for females. So I started playing when I was about 10 or 11, my dad was my coach, and, in high school, I played field hockey, softball and basketball. Those were my big things. In college, I played field hockey. I was kinda over with softball, burned out. Also, my head field hockey coach was the lacrosse coach, so I also played lacrosse at Rowan.”
It was her sense of belonging in sports that propelled her to work within the athletics department field.
“Growing up I knew what my experiences were and athletics gave me direction and purpose,” Ms. Henry-Parks said. “I remember my coaches and teammates every step of the way. Debbie Dietrich is the head of health and phys. ed. for the Toms River School District. She was my freshman field hockey coach and I started playing and had an older sister that was great at everything. I struggled. I hated high school, I hated middle school. The bullying. And now you guys have to deal with it every day. But my coaches and teammates were the ones that basically showed me that I matter and that me just showing up and trying is great. That’s why I went into this profession.”
For Ms. Henry-Parks, visibility and transparency are everything. She did something not many people would do, she chose to see Wall High School for the good it possesses and all of the hard-working administration, teachers and students who are trying each and every day to make it a better place.
“I look into my kids and see how their experiences with athletics helped build them and make connections,” Ms. Henry-Parks said. “As a mom, I say ‘What can I do as an AD to support them?’ When any kid comes into my office, I try to treat you not as my own child but as a mom and find out where your head is, what do you need and what is your challenge? I’m going to fail, but I know how important it is to have somebody show interest in me and see me and you guys are at such a critical time in your life.”
Located in the B hallway of the high school, the AD’s office is a safe haven for students who want to be heard, listened to and understood, and that is all a large testament to the outstanding work Ms. Henry-Parks has done in first school year at Wall.
By Madison Brody
This spring a pair of Wall High School twins were recognized for double the caring.
On March 10, seniors Kimberley and Kiley Hubbard won the Monmouth County Caring Award. Its main qualifications are showing compassion toward a group, cause or program in high school.
As devoted members of the Donate Life and D.E.L.T.A. clubs, the Hubbards were nominated by guidance counselor Ms. Judy Gilberti and student assistance counselor Mrs. Alysa Regenye, both advisors for the respective clubs, for their contributions.
“I feel like throughout my time in the Donate Life club I've shared my story to my peers because I've had a kidney transplant and I've encouraged people to sign up to become organ donors, share my story and help others,” Kiley said.
The identical twins couldn’t heap enough praise on the Donate Life club and how influential it’s been for them as students and people, especially Kiley, who found a dedicated community to a cause she knows all too well.
“I was born in renal failure,” she said. “For the first five years of my life, I was on dialysis, and it inspired me to become active and bring awareness to organ and tissue donations. I overcame my medical complications and that helped inspire me, gave me the passion to bring awareness [to the cause].”
As a result, the Hubbards turned hardship into headlines.
“If you're passionate about a certain topic, try to bring awareness to it,” Kimberly said.
But it wasn’t only the Donate Life club and D.E.L.T.A. club the sisters credit with bringing attention to their cause. Wall yearbook advisor Mrs. Janet Molicki molded them as well.
“[She] helped both of us gain more confidence to become leaders,” Kimberly said.
Kimberly and Kiley Hubbard are both extremely active students and continue to strive for excellence with special thanks to Ms. Gilberti, Mrs. Regenye and Mrs. Molicki.
By Chris Dailey
Wall High School reopened its doors full-time Sept. 2 as the 1,000+ student population returned to the hallways once again, although for the second straight year in masks.
While students are accustomed to the state mask mandate, many are still getting used to full days with 84-minute class blocks.
“I would rather have half days,” said Wall sophomore Colin Roarty.
Many Wall High School students enjoyed going home at noon and having hour-long blocks. Students did not eat in the building last school year, so half the school had never experienced unit lunch.
“I believe that the half day schedule was more beneficial,” said senior Carl Parcespe. “I would rather be able to go home and eat than have a lunch period.”
Not everyone agrees.
“Short days had its benefits, but I don’t feel like I’m getting the full course in during those days,” said fellow senior Joseph Gisoldi. “Eighty-four minute blocks help me perform better on tests and quizzes and allow time to ask questions to teachers if I don’t understand something we’re going over.”
While some students are happier than others, there is no denying the fact that longer school days have many benefits including adding much-needed structure back into the life of millions of students across the country ranging from first graders to high school seniors.
Longer school days provide more one-on-one opportunities for students and teachers.
As the end of the first marking period is near, many students are finally getting comfortable with the schedule.
Overall, some are happy to be back in the swing of things. At the end of the day, school is back in full swing.
By Zach Lichter
With the 2020-21 school year hitting the home stretch, Wall High School is creeping closer to normalcy.
As of Mon., April 19, the hybrid schooling environment has been eliminated. Students are now completely in school for their classes or completely virtual. With that move, the high school has also gone back to its regular alternate block schedule instead of the back-to-back A and B Days it featured for most of the year. School days, however, still end at 11:45 a.m.
The elimination of the hybrid marks the latest in a series of steps forward during the pandemic. On Feb. 8, Wall High School Principal Ms. Rosaleen Sirchio emailed all families to gauge interest in coming back into the building full time. Parents were asked to fill out a survey on Genesis choosing which learning plan their child would want to participate in beginning March 1.
Thirty-six percent of the parents who filled out the survey decided to have their children return for five-day in-person learning.
“At first, I didn’t know if I was going to go back five days,” said Wall sophomore Joseph Sambade. “My parents encouraged me to go back five days and I made the decision to go.”
As the school year has gone on, Wall High School considered ways to carefully reopen as certain conditions were met.
“The high school has a pandemic response team,” Ms. Sirchio said. “The team consists of administrators, teachers, counselors, parents, students, school nurse and the security team. The team discusses and evaluates the Health department data and recommendations and brainstorms solutions and plan recommendations for each phase of the return to school. We explored the possibility of providing families with an additional choice of the five-day-a-week learning option. After the questionnaire results came in, we analyzed the data and determined we could accommodate each student's choice.”
On Feb. 23, Ms. Sirchio emailed students announcing that five-day in-person would begin March 1. The challenge was making sure that all classrooms were safe. The custodians made sure that all students’ and teachers’ desks were safely spread apart. Teachers had to create seating charts for both groups so students would know where to sit with the increase of bodies in each classroom. Some classes were moved into bigger rooms so there was space for social distancing.
For some families, the idea of having their children learn completely in-person was a little scary. The ever-evolving mutations of the coronavirus and the U.S. surpassing half a million deaths drove the seriousness of the decision. Hybrid or all-virtual presented another option for people who are at high risk, lost a loved one to COVID or were concerned in general.
“I decided to do hybrid learning because I am just getting into a routine,” said Wall sophomore Brynn Heaney. “It was a super hard decision, but I thought it would be better to keep some sort of normalcy.”
Many students seem happy being back at school five days a week. They were able to see some of their friends in the opposite part of the alphabet in the building again for the first time since March 13, 2020, the last regular school day at Wall High School.
By Chris Dailey
It’s another week day and 19-year-old Dixie D’Amelio and her younger sister, Charli, are eating dinner in a video with other social media stars and the D’Amelio parents.
As a joke, their private chef, who is on the joke alongside the D’Amelio family, give Dixie a snail to eat, saying it’s a mushroom to get her to eat it, as they know she is prone to freak out when she eats certain foods.
Dixie throws up after she eats the snail and millions of people online cancel the D’Amelios in the next wave of what is known as ‘cancel culture.’
Cancel culture (or call-out culture) is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles -- either online on social media, in the real world, or both. Those who are subject to such ostracism are said to be "canceled."
Following the snail event, Charli, who was on her way to reaching 100 million TikTok followers, lost over 3 million.
Eventually, the ‘cancellation process’ came to a halt and people moved on. It is a prime example of what cancel culture can do. And in many cases, it can lead to even more severe consequences.
Sometimes, cancel culture is good, as stars who do bad things are faced with consequences for doing so.
“Personally, I think cancel culture has pros and cons,” said Wall High School junior Micah Rubin. “On one hand, it makes people more conscientious about the things they say online. However, cancel culture can have negative implications as people’s lives and careers can be ruined over rather insignificant posts and comments.”
Another prime recent example of the cancel culture in effect is Ken Jennings, who was set to become the next host of “Jepoardy!” after the passing of longtime host, Alex Trebek. Jennings had an old inappropriate tweet that was found, people “canceled” him and questions were raised as if he should be the host.
Weeks later, the story died down, but Jennings was certainly worried for the few weeks he was being stared at by the public eye for his past comments.
“It’s overused, for some things I guess it could be good for some things, but getting canceled for something said years ago when everyone wasn’t so sensitive is outrageous,” said Wall freshman Matt Krokosz.
The majority of students when asked seemed to not be in favor of cancel culture. It can change your life, most times for the worse.
Cancel culture is certainly making headlines across the Internet day by day and every month a new celebrity is canceled, some for severe sins, others for minuscule things.
The internet is a place where everything can be kept and tracked, almost like a giant storage unit of all of your past words. If anybody can take a lesson from the acts of cancel culture it’s to be careful of what you say and do as it can, and most times will, come back to bite you.
By Zach Lichter
As Wall High School entered the 2020-21 school year with a lot of uncertainty. It was no doubt that the student council and the class advisors wanted to find a way to hold pep week safely.
Many of the events such as hall decorating, powder puff football and the pep rally have been postponed in the hope they will be feasible in the spring. But there were still plenty of other events that students were able to participate in like the car decorating contest, virtual painting night, the “Why I Love Wall High School” Contest and trivia about the school and town.
“The students that took part in the virtual painting night told me they really liked it,” said Wall assistant principal Mrs. Kristen Scott. “Many of our students also appreciated the prizes they won for Wall trivia and dressing up for spirit days. I like how students who were all virtual also won prizes so it kept them tied to the spirit week as well.”
Plans for the spring pep week are being closely considered for some of the traditional activities Wall High School has every year. Mrs. Scott is hoping that students will be able to participate in powder puff, hall decorating and the pep rally as a vaccine is distributed and the world returns to some kind of normalcy.
“I am working with the student advisory to determine some alternatives for the spring,” she said. “For example, if we can't do hallway decorating because there are still indoor restrictions that are greater than the outdoor restrictions, then we are looking at doing floats. For some of the activities, we would need to look exactly at the restrictions and best practice so we could make an informed decision on what type of alternative there is. We all hope that we won't need alternatives and we can simply have all activities planned safely, but only time will tell!”
With powder puff and the pep rally being moved to the spring, the traditional pep week was held this fall and that included the homecoming ceremony. This year’s homecoming nominees were seniors Cassandra Betz, Alexa Clayton, Casey Larkin, Austin Lord, Elizabeth Miller, Grace Penkethman, Logan Peters and Brett Tidwell. The ceremony took place at halftime during the football game between Wall and Manasquan.
All eight members of the homecoming court removed their masks but did not lock arms with their partners. They were socially distanced on the yard markers so their pictures could be taken.
“The administrators did a very nice job of making sure the court was comfortable and happy with what they decided for us to do,” Betz said.
The school still voted for the homecoming king and queen during the fall pep week. This year’s homecoming king is Logan Peters and this year’s homecoming queen is Betz.
“Being chosen for homecoming queen means that my fellow classmates notice all my hard work, whether that be in school, sports or clubs,” Betz said. “Winning something like homecoming queen also helps keep me motivated to continue to be involved within our school and community. I like to be involved and lead by example, and I am very glad that my classmates at Wall High School see those qualities in me as well!”
The 2020 fall pep week was unlike any other at Wall High School, but the students and staff were able to make the most of it as everybody is continuing to navigate through this unusual school year.
By Zach Lichter
Novel coronaviruses call for novel solutions and, even in a pandemic, Wall High School’s pep week will go on.
Pep week 2020 kicks off with Mon., Oct. 26, and will be much different than recent years.
“There will be two pep weeks: one in the fall and one in the spring,” said Wall assistant principal Mrs. Kristen Scott. “The main events will be moved to the spring, like the pep rally and powder puff.”
The fall will still feature dress-up days and the naming of a homecoming king, queen and court. But COVID-19 has forced some creativity to come up with new events, chief among them a virtual painting night on Wed., Oct. 28. There will also be Wall High School and community trivia all week for prizes. This year’s theme is U.S. City Knights.
“Hall decorating will be moved to the spring and we might do floats if we’re not in some kind of normalcy,” Mrs. Scott said. “There will be a few backup plans that will be made if we’re still in the pandemic.”
Mrs. Scott met with the members of the student council and the class advisors to figure out how they would have pep week. The dates for the spring pep week haven’t been decided yet. But they are closely monitoring the pandemic based on what they planned for.
Wall started back to school Sept. 16 on a hybrid schedule. Students were given designated days on when they would learn in-person and virtually.
In the first phase, students who are in Group 1 with last names from A-K went to school on Mondays and Thursdays and students in Group 2 (last names L-Z) on Tuesdays and Fridays. Students also had the option to do all virtual learning if they didn’t feel comfortable going to school. On Wednesdays, all students stayed home and attend virtual classes so the custodians can disinfect the hallways.
Wall moved into Phase 2, eliminating the virtual Wednesdays, the week of Oct. 19.
“I like some of the structure that the school provides. I used to look forward to seeing certain friends,” said Wall sophomore Joey Sambade. “But with group scheduling, I can’t. I do miss summer, but I do like being back in school.”
Before the coronavirus lockdown, classes at the high school met every other day and were 84 minutes long. With the shortened school day, the blocks are now reduced to 60 minutes and there is currently no Unit Lunch. Students still have five minutes between blocks to go to their next class, but they must practice social distancing and remain six feet apart in the hallway.
2020 has definitely been an interesting year and one year we will certainly remember, but Wall High School has managed to try to strike a balance between safety and a sense of routine.
By Ryan Sy
A time of important decision-making and celebration for high school seniors including those at Wall High School became a lot tougher than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.
May 1, known to many high school seniors as Decision Day, had never been virtual. Each year at Wall, the seniors head out into the Courtyard during lunch and take pictures with all of their classmates and celebrate the accomplishments that everyone has achieved on this special day.
Also during May, Advanced Placement exams are administered and, for the first time, were completed online and taken from home as the College Board had to adjust the plan because of the pandemic.
Having sat for the paper exams as a junior and online versions this spring, I thought it was a tough and strange environment taking the exams this year because it did not feel like a major exam at all. To me it felt similar to a Google Form type of assessment. Also, the test was considerably shorter this year: 50-minute exams and only two open-ended items compared to over three hours of testing with multiple choice and open-ended.
“I was definitely nervous about the exams not having any multiple-choice sections and was worried that only two [free-response questions] would be hard to score well on if they were on topics I was not familiar with,” said Wall senior Seraphina Plewa. “However, I think I actually preferred the online testing because the exam is a lot shorter and it seemed a lot more manageable to take a test for an hour instead of the usual exams that are two to three hours long.”
The 2020 AP exams had many concerns about the online transition. Questions about academic integrity were the most pressing. The College Board has said that there were measures in place before and during the exams to help it ensure that the individual registered was the actual person taking the test. I thought that the online pre-testing requirements were much easier and less time-consuming than in person. The opportunity to achieve college credit in these circumstances was appreciated by students enrolled in AP classes.
“It was crazy to go through a Stat(istics) exam last year for four hours to having to complete my exams in about an hour,” said Wall junior Jack Alexander.
Picking a college and major is not an easy choice for anyone. In the last few critical months before the deadline, the pandemic halted campus visits and accepted-students' days as well as the rest of the spring semester for college students. Those events are designed for students to view each school one last time and offer a chance for each school to try to make a good impression on each student who attends the sessions to potentially earn their commitment. Students in 2020 have been forced to use prior visits and online sessions to make their decisions without viewing the school in-person to ensure it is the right fit for them.
“I feel that it is more important now to stick out amongst other students through college,” said Alexander, who plans to double major in architecture and civil engineering. “This has definitely made me prioritize schools with great programs in both fields as opposed to just looking at top architecture institutions.”
Not only is making the decision on attending a school based on photos and virtual meetings difficult, it is compounded by the financial hardship felt by most as the country's unemployment has skyrocketed past the grim numbers of the Great Depression. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the situation, students are considering attending community college or taking a gap year since paying for college has become as difficult as ever. Under normal circumstances, college is an expensive price tag in the first place but these unprecedented times place the price of college completely out of reach for some.
By Ryan Sy
The annual Wall High School senior trip is a time for graduating students to have a fun-filled week in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., however, this year’s trip marked the last time the seniors saw each other in person before the end of the school year as COVID-19 created complications to senior celebrations such as the Decision Day, prom and commencement.
The COVID-19 or coronavirus was known to have entered the United States about a month before the trip took place. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on the trip. I had my fears about the virus, but I was not going to let my worries dampen the experience.
As the trip approached, plans did not change but extra precautions were put in place. These precautions included wiping down seats in the airport or at Disney. The trip, however, ended abruptly. The final day was cut out due to concerns of flights coming back home to New Jersey since the trip was on the last flight out of Orlando. This is the first occasion that the senior trip was cut short. It did not affect the time in Disney World as the night before was the final day in Disney itself. The seniors’ visit to Universal Studios was the only part of the trip affected.
“The coronavirus was a minor detail when looking at the trip overall,” said Wall senior Julia Fischer. “We may have had to leave a day early, but the coronavirus did not affect our time in Disney World.”
“It wasn't until Thursday where we had to make some adjustments,” said Class of 2020 co-advisor and math teacher Mrs. Jessica Erbe via email. “You could see that some of the kids had questions towards the end of the trip, since they were hearing all different stories from their friends at WHS. Thursday night was our first meeting where we addressed the issue of COVID-19 and ensured all students that they were safe!”
“In all of my eight years chaperoning the trip this was the second time we had ever made a major adjustment to our plans,” Mrs. Erbe added. “I am extremely grateful to each of our students and chaperones who took the news so well. [Co-advisor and fellow math teacher] Mr. [Eugene] DeLutio and I felt that this was a wonderful trip, and an amazing experience for the Class of 2020, and we are so happy that each student who went will have these memories forever.”
The seniors on the trip had four days of Disney World magic. During those days, there was no sense that there was a pandemic unfolding, rather, happiness and fun. The parks were busy because of the long lines and crowds of people entering the park. I remember the line waiting to get into Hollywood Studios because of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride.
“I think that overall the trip was a blast,” said Wall senior Peter Gacos. “It is really tough not to have a fun time in Disney as it is truly one of the happiest places on earth. I think that the coronavirus did not play too big of a part because it was easy to get caught up in being in Disney itself.”
As one of the last groups to experience the still-shuttered Disney World, this Wall class trip will forever have a place in history. Like many communities across America, Wall Township has transitioned to an online learning environment with virtual classes and discussion.
“I miss having a structured learning environment and seeing my friends,” Fischer added.
Currently, we are all in self-isolation and hoping for a return to normalcy in the near future. Roads are empty and boardwalks are closed. But, in making these sacrifices, the Wall community is helping those on the front lines and also saving lives by staying home.
Families are being brought closer together since they are spending more time together, time that was lacking within our daily lives before this pandemic. They are eating meals together again along with watching movies and reigniting relationships with each other.
There is no question that the impact of this pandemic will forever alter our lives. That Wall’s seniors were able to get almost all of their trip in before the coronavirus closure of the theme parks punctuates their time at the high school in this unusual point in history.