By: Lexie Clayton
When asked on an everyday basis, “How are you doing?” it is common for people to just reply with, “I’m OK,'' or “I’m good.” Life sometimes gets too hectic that things that truly matter are pushed aside and forgotten about. For that reason, Challenge Day was created.
On Thurs., Oct. 10, students and faculty at Wall High School took part in Challenge Day.
Since 1987, Challenge Day is a social and emotional program that offers students a chance to explain how they are truly feeling. Furthermore, it helps people fight problems such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety and other disorders that cause people to feel alone and separated. Challenge Day is done at schools all around the world and promotes the feeling of love to everyone who is involved.
Since last school year, Challenge Day has been offered at Wall High School. Having a group of mostly 10th and 11th grade students as well as teachers open up to unfamiliar people and share the feelings and problems they deal with every day is not an easy task. Students and teachers had a chance to make students aware of real situations and see what life is really about.
“Personally, Challenge Day really opened my eyes and showed me how crucial it is to always show kindness, respect and acceptance,” said Wall junior Fiona Gill. “I felt more connected with my peers and teachers, and I felt obligated to make a change afterwards.”
Selected students from all different grades were chosen to participate in Challenge Day. It was filled with all the different emotions, starting off the day with kids cheering with happy faces and, by the end of the day, there was not a dry eye in the room, which really showed the effect the event has on students and teachers.
One activity that is presented in Challenge Day is called Cross the Line. People are asked to cross an imaginary line in the room if they have experienced any of the situations that are specifically mentioned, for example, if they know anyone who has lost a loved one to substance abuse. When students or teachers are asked about Challenge Day, that activity is one that is most remembered.
Challenge Day leaves people by the end of the day with a feeling of hope. The feeling is comforting to everyone whether it is someone who is battling something they have no control over or if someone just feels alone and like no one understands what they are going through.
“I think it really depends on the student,” said Wall High School School Family Liaison Counselor Ms. Gwen Vela. “Some students really let go and allow themselves to be vulnerable and I think that that kind of student really gets a lot out of it. I think the student who goes in with an open mind gets a lot out of it. I think, for a lot of students, it opens their minds to a lot of things they did not see before or had no idea that was happening to other people.”
Challenge Day is different for every student and each comes away with a different perspective of it. At the end of the day, however, students can all share similar lessons they took away from it.
“Sometimes when people are behaving a certain way, it is not personal; it is really about what they are going through and I would like to see more inclusion,” Ms. Vela said. “Creating a school that doesn’t allow someone to feel like they are alone because, ultimately if everyone feels included, it is safer too. It is about creating a safe emotional environment for kids.”
Many teachers at Wall participated in Challenge Day as well as students and they experienced the same feeling of closure.
“From a teacher's perspective, we are supposed to be role models and we are supposed to be believers in the school and that I see students really see students suffering and going through hard times, they can relate to them,” said Mrs. Miriam Arminio, a Spanish teacher at Wall. “But they can also look at us as leaders and see that we are not perfect either and we are all just human and trying to do the best we can.”
Overall, students and teachers understand and appreciate Challenge Day because it demonstrates real life conflicts that sometimes schools do not always focus on.
“I really think students sometimes feel alone and I think the students there at Challenge Day realize that they are not,” Mrs. Arminio said. “That’s why I feel it is so important that everyone does it. Because we are not alone. I think a lot of students think teachers don’t go through hard times too, but we do. And it’s nice to know that I will be there for students, but students can also be there for teachers.”
By Lexie Clayton
Working with students is a special and unique job that only certain people can undertake. Not many people are cut out to be an educator, let alone do it for half a century like Mr. Les Hollander has.
The beginning of the school year marked Mr. Hollander’s 50th at Wall High School.
Mr. Hollander is a music teacher as well as the band and orchestra director at Wall and has been recognized by his peers and other educators to have changed the lives of many. Throughout the years, he has impacted the experience of many students with his knowledge and leadership. His passion for music and teaching is extremely respected at Wall as he reaches the tremendous milestone of 50 years, all at Wall High School.
“I have been able to have had an opportunity to totally affect their education,” Mr. Hollander said about his students. “Sending them to the right places, making connections for them, maybe contacting colleges that had a hesitation, allowing them to apply because they missed a deadline. I guess the most rewarding thing for me is having my graduates stay in touch with me over the years.”
Doing any job for five decades is rare, yet Mr. Hollander somehow remains fresh.
“I think he does keep up with everything,” said Mr. Hollander’s wife, Mrs. Ellen Hollander, who has taught with him at Wall for the last 26 years. “He is always trying new things, new technology, new methods. He is constantly changing with the times.”
“Congratulations to Mr. Hollander as he enters his 50th year in Education at Wall High School,” said Wall High School Principal Mrs. Rosaleen Sirchio. “Mr. Hollander is a remarkable teacher who brings not only content knowledge but also energy, compassion, and dedication to his classroom each day. Mr. Hollander has received numerous awards and accolades during his tenure as a teacher at [Wall].”
Among the most prestigious awards Mr. Hollander has received is Teacher of the Year, for which he was nominated by students and staff.
Mr. Hollander has taught students who are now on Broadway, in the Philadelphia Orchestra and work for the Walt Disney Company and are extremely successful. He is responsible for initially beginning the orchestra program at the Wall elementary schools. He has seen the different changes in education, such as block scheduling, and has had the opportunity to watch students grow over time.
“I think the idea of having standards and expecting students to work towards their standards not so it’s impossible, so it’s giving them an opportunity to grow instead of just accepting the status quo,” Mr. Hollander said of his time in education.
Having taught so many students through the years, it’s not unusual for Mr. Hollander to hear from them and about the things they’ve accomplished. He explained he had recently received an email from a former student who returned to the United States after touring Europe as a musician with the likes of Cher and Nile Rodgers and was looking to catch up before performing in Rio.
“Sometimes it’s the kids that I help them with their college stuff and they end up telling me all the stuff that I taught them that isn’t really part of curriculum,” Mr. Hollander said. “I do not really want to call them values, but they were career values. They said it all helped them throughout college.”
“As a music education major, I use what Mr. Hollander has taught me every single day,” said 2019 Wall graduate Cate Pasterchick, who is attending Kutztown University and was in the marching band and vocal performance. “His teaching has made me realize that the only way students will care about learning is if you care about them. He is an example of what an incredible music teacher looks like and I hope that when I become a teacher I can inspire my students the way he’s inspired me.”
A teacher has the power to influence a child’s life and change their whole perspective and future, and Mr. Hollander has been shown to have the power to make a difference.
“Mr. Hollander constantly reminded me of the importance of artistic expression,” said 2019 graduate Jenna Iorio, who is studying education at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and was concertmaster in the orchestra at Wall. “He taught me how to appreciate beautiful art, especially that which is unique and sometimes even misunderstood. He taught me how art can impact the lives of both the performer and the listener or viewer.”
Mr. Hollander’s commitment to his craft is extremely evident, especially to his wife.
“He is happy, he walks into this building happy,” she said. “He likes to get up in the morning, he likes to come to school. He keeps up with everything. As long as he is happy and healthy, that is all that matters.”
When asked how long she thinks Mr. Hollander will continue teaching, Mrs. Hollander said she believes it will be a very long time.
“Not until his children let him retire,” she shared with a laugh.
By Ryan Sy
As part of a new initiative, all Wall High School students have been given their own Chromebook this school year.
Gone are the days students have to rely on computer carts in a classroom. This one-to-one technology is similar to what Wall Intermediate School does, but a big difference is that students at the high school students are able to take their Chromebooks home with them to do work.
“The idea was a district-wide initiative,” wrote Wall Vice Principal Mrs. Kristen Scott and Humanities supervisor Dr. Tracy Skinner in a joint statement. “The plan was rolled out over two years. The Intermediate School kids were year one, with a ‘carry’ model and the high school was year two with a ‘take-home’ model. The goal is to give students more access to technology, use the Chromebooks in classrooms to enhance student experience and allow for further student collaboration.”
The Chromebooks were distributed during gym periods and unit lunch. Students also had the option to pay $30 for insurance in case their Chromebook breaks or malfunctions. Lost or stolen Chromebooks are not covered by the insurance policy. Students should report lost or stolen Chromebooks immediately to the main office so the matter may be documented, investigated and the device potentially deactivated. Chromebook cases are labeled to avoid confusion about whose is whose.
“I think they’re a good idea but, overall, they weigh so much in backpacks and the cases are so bulky,” said Wall senior Chad Mahoney.
“I think they are very helpful because you do not have to write everything out and it easier to manage and stay organized,” said freshman Kendal Amitie, who was in eighth grade when the Intermediate School distributed school-wide Chrombooks. “I think it is a great addition, but it has its downsides because people get distracted while using Chromebooks because they could play games.”
Other schools in the area such as St. Catharine and St. Rose have implemented this one-to-one technology the past few years. The Chromebooks are a great addition to the high school because they minimize the use of paper and could potentially reduce the amount of books needed to be purchased and, in turn, reduce the weight in backpacks, which tend to get overstuffed. They are a helpful tool for students to become more organized as well. The Chromebooks will help advance the use of technology and be a beneficial tool for students during the school year.
By Ryan Sy
Wall High School’s Donate Life Club promoted its Give Life campaign as a part of Donate Life month, which occurred throughout April on a national scale.
The theme of the month nationally was “life is a beautiful ride” and utilized a biking motif. The whole purpose of Donate Life month is to encourage being an organ, tissue or eye donor to help those in need.
Wall’s chapter of the Donate Life club is one of the first in the state of New Jersey because the cause for organ donation has been a newer movement across the state.
One member of the club, Wall freshman Kiley Hubbard, shares a special connection to the cause, having received an organ donation to help save her life.
“When I was born, I only had one kidney, which was barely functioning, so I had to go on dialysis for five years,” she said. “Once I got my kidney transplant, my whole life changed. I could finally go to school, wasn’t as fatigued and wasn’t on dialysis anymore. Organ donation gave me a second chance at life! If I were to talk to someone about organ donation, I would tell them that there are so many people waiting for a transplant, so the more people that are aware about organ donation, the more people who could have a better quality of life.”
The club also made extensive use the Wall High School morning show as a way to convey information about Donate Life month. The messages were meant to spread positivity and bring awareness to the importance of organ donation.
“Our focus is to enlighten and educate students about the importance of organ donations,” said Wall senior Jenna Haviland. “We want students to understand that they can take tragedy and turn it into a positive situation. We want people to know that one person has the power to save many lives.”
“We are beginning to get a team together for NJ Sharing Network’s 5K at the end of May, Haviland added. “We would like to get many participants to celebrate this day with us!”
Three years ago, Wall lost a freshman named Luke Bautista who would be a senior preparing to graduate. He was a registered organ donor and his organs went to dozens of different people and saved five lives because of his donation. Bautista passed away on May 6, 2016. At the New Jersey Sharing Network 5K, the Donate Life club is going to walk the event as Team Luke in dedication.
“Students are becoming more aware about the gift of life and, because of that, there are more clubs forming around New Jersey,” said guidance counselor and Donate Life Club advisor Ms. Judith Gilberti as the sunshine beaming through the window was nature shining the light on the great things the Donate Life Club is trying to accomplish. “For people that are hesitant, I think there is more information that needs to be shared to show that it is a good thing to do because you don’t know if you’re going to be the recipient or are you going to be the giver?”
The Donate Life club currently stands at 40 members, most of which are seniors because of the connection the club has to Bautista and his impact as an organ donation. Those interested in joining can see Ms. Gilberti in Guidance.
By Ryan Sy
The Wall High School junior prom is shaping up to be much different than anything students have experienced before.
A place that is known for amusement rides and arcade games is where the junior prom will be held on Fri., April 12, from 6:30-10:30 p.m., which has surprised a lot of students and staff.
It might come to shock to some because many think that iPlay America is a place for middle schoolers and children as an indoor amusement park with an arcade, go-karts, laser tag, and 4D Theater. Many high profile events, however, have been held there, making it a more interesting choice than some may think because of its large event center.
“The feedback we got from last years Dames Ball was that the students wanted a bigger room with a bigger dance floor,” said junior class advisor Mrs. Jessica Erbe. “When Mr. [Gene] DeLutio and I looked around, we found that iPlay America had a very large ballroom. It can accommodate up to 750 people. It was a big space for the right price, so we decided to book it! I am very excited for the junior prom. I know it will be a great night and I am sure all students who attend will have fun!”
There are 259 students who are planning on attending the prom, covering all four grade levels. The theme is “A Night At the Movies” and it will feature a soda bar, appetizers and a buffet bar. The bids cost each person $80-85, depending on when the bid was purchased.
“Of course I am excited,” junior and Class of 2020 President Alex Longo said. “At the Event Center, the dance floor is based off where the tables are located. The floor of the place is the dance floor.”
The junior prom promises to be exciting and fun for the students who are attending. The night is one that is really anticipated by the people who plan it and the students who experience the annual event.
By Ryan Sy
Wall High School lost one of its longtime guidance counselors and coaches over Christmas break when former guidance counselor Mr. Thomas Winters passed away on Mon., Dec. 24. His passing came as a shock because he had substitute taught just the week before.
Prior to retiring and becoming a substitute, Mr. Winters was the track coach and cross country coach along with being a guidance counselor at Wall for 33 years. Before coming to the High School, Mr. Winters was the director of guidance at Antwerp International School in Ekeren, Belgium.
“He was focused of you, the person he was spending time with and he was a very and kind person.” said guidance counselor Mrs. Judith Gilberti, who worked with Mr. Winters during his tenure. “He had a wonderful working relationship with families and he has had many students who have come back to visit him and they were in college and grown adults coming back to say hello and to say thank you to him for his contributions to their education.”
Mr. Winters attended Seton Hall University on a full athletic scholarship for running. He still holds the cross country record for the 6-mile run there. Then he coached both girls and boys track and cross country team at Wall. He even took a girls team to a national meet down in Walt Disney World for track. He also trained Olympic runners at his home in the Italian Alps. His legacy on the track and cross country program is so extensive there is a bench dedicated to him outside of the school at the athletic entrance. The bench originally sat at the front entrance of the school but was moved to the athletic entrance as a more proper spot around the school.
This tragic news saddened the Wall High School community and especially the students and staff who knew him when he was a part of the faculty. Mr. Winters always referenced the guidance department as his second family because of its tight-knit nature during his tenure.
Mr. Winters impact on Wall was great and he will be remembered for his personality, dedication and love for Wall and has left a unforgettable legacy on the school.
By Catherine Prasad
On the first day of school, the students of Wall High School were greeted by a new installment to previously-average water fountains: a water bottle-refilling station.
Wall High School’s Environmental Club contributed to the funding and purchase of the water bottle-refilling station, commemorated by a plaque above the eco-friendly device. The station was installed over the summer for the new school year. It is a part of the school’s progress in becoming more environmentally-friendly and producing less waste.
“We literally spent some days after school picking through the trash can to see how much of the stuff in there actually should have been recycling,” said Mr. Joshua Tennant, the advisor of the Environmental Club.
The officers of the club noticed that most of the waste in the garbage was plastic water bottles and wanted a solution to the problem of excess waste. They saw other schools had water bottle-refillers and looked into the idea. The purchase was significant, approximately $1,000, so the officers decided to start a donation page on Kickstarter.com for people to give money to the cause.
“We pushed it out to the whole school and said: here’s what we want to do, we want to reduce our waste, we want to give students clean-filtered clean water to stay hydrated,” Mr. Tennant explained. “Club members, parents, relatives from even out of state all helped contribute and some companies even donated.”
The water bottle-refilling station has a digital counter that tracks how many disposable plastic bottles it has prevented. As of Nov. 29, over 19,000 water bottles have been saved.
The water bottle-refilling station is only the first step in turning Wall High School green. There are future plans for more stations throughout the building as well as other methods to recycle and conserve energy.
“We are currently working on Eco-Schools, which is an energy audit,” said David Roberts, a senior officer of the Environmental Club. “It works with conserving energy in schools.”
The club plans on installing LED lights as a more environmentally-friendly replacement for the current lights used throughout the building. Also, they have looked into implementing automatic lights in certain parts of the school that turn on when they sense movement and off when no one is in the room. They will save the school a sufficient amount of energy, as many lights are left on in rooms that people are not in.
There are also plans in the works for promoting the abandonment of plastic water bottles altogether. The Environmental Club wants to limit the amount of plastic bottles used by the student body as much as possible and it is doing all it can to achieve the goal.
“I am currently designing water bottles to use as a fundraiser for the club and as a fundraiser for a possible additional refilling station,” said senior Grace Gamborany, an officer of the club, disclosed about the alternative to purchasing plastic bottles. The reusable bottles will be customized with the Wall ‘W’ and be available to the entire school.
By Ryan Sy
At Wall High School, the month of October is the “Month of Good Vibes,” which promotes a healthy and safe school environment.
Each week in the month of October has a different meaning. The different themes for each are the Week of Respect, Week of Violence & Vandalism Awareness, and Red Ribbon Week. These weeks all contribute to the “Month of Good Vibes” at Wall.
“Throughout Red Ribbon Week, students will learn that you should never turn to drugs or alcohol to resolve or help you with anything,” said sophomore Renee Grunwald, the president of the DELTA club at Wall. “They will also become more knowledgeable about how harmful drugs and alcohol are and the ways they can negatively affect you. DELTA Club has an impact on Red Ribbon Week through spreading awareness about substance abuse and its prevention. We are holding a game event in the library every Friday for the rest of October, so the students may have the opportunity to participate in playing the Wheel of Misfortune.”
There are many events scheduled throughout the month. One is the daily words of wisdom on the morning show. Many events are planned during Red Ribbon Week such as the annuel planting of the the red ribbon flags, faculty outreach day and Red shirt day. The color red symbolizes the awareness brought to the destruction that drugs causes to thousands of victims and their families each year.
Also, doors throughout the school were covered with blue paper because a door-decorating contest. The doors are designed to relay a message of respect, anti-bullying as well as foster a positive school climate. The winners of the door-decorating contest are Mrs. Jill Alexander and Ms. Joi Iocano (Room A-4), Ms. Joanna Fierro (B-7), Mrs. Rachel Miller (C-8), Mrs. Weiner (D-9), and Ms. Erin Wajda and Ms. Lisa Hyland (E-3).
“Well, I actually named the month,” said junior Michelle Fox, the co-president of the Be-Well club at Wall, which is advised by Ms. Kendall Petschauer and Ms. Gwen Vela. The club hosted a Chip Away Violence event where it handed out snack chips outside of the auditorium during unit lunch.
An event for art students is the Peace of Art Contest. It allows students to make art representing one of the weekly themes during the month. The pieces will be judged on Oct. 29 and will be displayed in the glass cabinets at the front entrance.
By Madison Clayton
This year vibrant, colorful and artistic paintings occupy 40 senior parking spots art Wall High School, allowing students to customize their very own parking spot in the senior lot.
Last year Senior Class President Dave Roberts and Junior Class President Alex Longo came up with a fundraising idea to have customized parking spots in the senior lot. The custom parking spot option was presented this year to the senior class in July through an email from assistant principal Mrs. Kristen Scott. The price of each parking spot was $40 and a maximum of 60 spots were available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The students interested in partaking in the fundraiser had to send in their design for approval. Once approved, they were given specific days for which they could go and paint their spot. The Class of 2019 raised $1,600.
“Last season during track Alex and I noticed that a couple of other schools had their parking lots painted,” Roberts explained. “We found out that these were senior class spots and thought, what a great idea, we should do that at Wall.”
The student advisory committee, senior Courtney Carduner specifically, presented the idea to Mrs. Scott for students to purchase spots and design them. Mrs. Scott approved the idea and set the price.
“There were a couple of hurdles, but everyone was on board,” Mrs. Scott said. “We have had no problems so far. I really feel that because the students paid and painted the spots themselves it really shows peer-on-peer respect.”
“A reason why I wanted to paint a parking spot was because I knew it would be easier to reserve one than to find one every morning. It saves me time in the morning from driving around, searching for a spot.” said Cate Pasterchick who painted a parking spot.
“I feel like the fundraiser was a total success,” Roberts said. “We plan on this becoming a tradition at Wall, with the underclassman designing their own spots one day.”
For the future Mrs. Scott said she intends to keep the idea and is open to the possibility of expanding it to the junior lot.
Pictured here is one of 60 painted senior parking spots at Wall High School.
By Ryan Sy
Bullying is not a new phenomenon, however, ways it can be thwarted continue to evolve.
A new app introduced to Wall Township School District called STOP!T allows students the opportunity to anonymously report concerns. That power does not come without school consequences and potentially legal action if claims are determined untrue.
The app allows students to report threats or any type of behavior anonymously. It is a safety measure and a way to protect students from potential violence towards them or the school community.
“The STOP!T app, by design, was actually created in an anti-bullying situation where kids were not comfortable for some reason reporting it or maybe call them a bystander not in a negative way and really made for kids to become an ‘upstander’ to report that,” said Wall High School vice principal Mrs. Kristen Scott. “I think kids are pretty clear now that our digital footprint is there. Hopefully kids use it for the right reasons.”
The goal for the app is the make the school environment safer. It is designed for students to be able to speak up without having to put their name to it and end the fear that some students might have of telling an adult about a situation face to face.
In the app, there is a hotline called 2nd Floor. This is a 24-hour service that students will be able to access if they need help with something emotionally during their time in high school and beyond.
“The app makes it easier for students to report bullying,” said sophomore Fred DiPaola, member of the Heroes and Cool Kids Club at Wall. “It will make students feel safer because they might think less about possibly being bullied.”
If the accusations that is proven to be untrue, however, then school disciplinary actions will be taken and, depending on the severity, there will be legal action taken. That should make students think twice before making a false claim due to the punishment that comes along with it.
STOP!T does not discourage face-to-face reports about bullying or other threats to the school and is just another way to help keep the school environment safer.