Going to Town on College School Considering Removing College Announcements From Final Awards Ceremony

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Editor’s note 5/3/16: A previously published version of this article contained insufficient information from the Upper School team regarding its rationale for the decision. We apologize for any bias this may have imparted.

Editor’s note 5/4/16: A previously published version of this article falsely implied that Meredith Hanamirian had commented on Andrew Karolodis’s plan for the final Meeting for Worship. We apologize for this error.

Editor’s note 5/4/16: This article previously appeared under a different headline. The headline and the content of the article now reflect recent developments.

Full disclosure: Both co-authors are themselves members of the Class of 2016 and recused themselves from the survey described in the article.

The decision to not individually announce the seniors by name and their college destination at the final award ceremony is now being reconsidered.

Administration told seniors they would not be announced individually by name and college at the conclusion of the end-of-year awards ceremony, a decision that sparked widespread discontent within the Class of 2016 and a subsequent decision by the administration to revisit the topic at an upcoming faculty meeting.

The original decision represents a departure from a long-standing MFS tradition. In past years, at the conclusion of the awards assembly, seniors stood up individually while a member of the school administration announced their name and the college that they would be attending the next year.

The change was originally proposed by the Upper School team — Upper School Director Justin Brandon, Dean of Students Mike Brunswick, Upper School Counselor Katie LuBrant, and School Psychologist Susan Batastini. It was then brought to a faculty meeting, where the consensus was that nixing the announcements was in the best interest of the students.

“It’s been a topic of discomfort for years,” said LuBrant. “We followed the Quaker process — came up with the idea in the Upper School team, then brought it to the faculty, and they made the decision.”

In his meeting with seniors to announce the original decision, Brandon mentioned “dirty looks” and other negative reactions that some seniors have received when their colleges are announced. “It adds some negativity to what should be a very positive last experience for the seniors.”

Director of College Counseling Meredith Hanamirian stated that the Class of 2015 was surveyed as to whether or not they were in favor of the individual announcements.

“The majority liked having the colleges announced, but there were some who didn’t like it,” said Hanamirian.

Though the change was intended to remain in place for future years, those most acutely affected by it are the current seniors. The decision was formally announced to them immediately following Meeting for Worship this past Wednesday and quickly became a hot topic of conversation within the grade.

In an informal survey of the entire senior class, 45 of 75 respondents said that they were opposed to the decision, while just 6 reported being in favor of it. The remaining 24 who responded were indifferent or unsure.

“Everyone should be proud of where they’re going [to college],” said Amanda Karlsson, who was vehemently against the decision. “We deserve to be recognized for our achievements.”

Rylee Fennell was also a vocal opponent of the move. “The final assembly is a time to recognize the achievements of the entire senior class, not just the few that get awards.”

“It is an honors/awards assembly, and we get that presenting the whole class individually would include them in that,” said Brandon. “Our main point in looking at … this topic was to support any of the students who may not feel comfortable during that time.”

Brandon disagreed with some students’ comments that the school is “coddling” its students in shielding 17- and 18-year-olds from “a few dirty looks.”

“It’s not necessarily coddling; it’s just we wanted to make sure [the seniors’] last big event that’s all-school is a positive one,” Brandon explained.

Those students who supported the decision all commented that they understood both sides of the situation.

“I’m lucky to have gotten into my first choice school,” said Jacob Schoifet, who was in favor of the decision. “But I know that some people applied to colleges that other people got into, and getting rejected from those colleges and then hearing that again in the assembly could possibly be hurtful to some people.”

The administration originally proposed an alternative to the individual announcements: a variant on the “Great Kids, Going Places” campaign open to all seniors. A display featuring pictures, favorite memories, and colleges of attendances of all seniors who choose to participate would be on display in Stokes Hall during senior week, the school week leading up to graduation.

“I am really excited about it,” said Hanamirian of the campaign. “I think we really do want to celebrate every student in the senior class and their accomplishments here and where they are going.”

Nonetheless, many people remained unconvinced. “By announcing each one of our names and college, it gives everyone that opportunity to feel not only the support of the community, but also an incredible pride in ourselves that can’t be replicated through posters on a board,” said Fennell.

After the announcement, several students met individually with Brandon to voice their opposition to the decision, prompting an email Wednesday morning to the senior class.

“Your response has warranted further dialogue,” Brandon wrote in the email. “The faculty will revisit the topic at our next Upper School Faculty meeting later this month.”

We reached out to Brandon about his email regarding the “further dialogue.”

“When we revisit it … everything is on the table. … I’m sure we will now think about the decision and see if it is the right decision, or [maybe we will decide to] go back to what we’ve done in the past and announce the names.”

Short of a reversal of the decision, senior Andrew Karolidis has an idea regarding how to implement the announcements anyway. “At the last Meeting for Worship, I’m just going to stand up and say, ‘Andrew Karolidis, University of Delaware,’ and sit back down. And then everyone else can follow.”

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Promposals 2016

Ever wonder how the great couples and pairs you see dancing at prom first got together? Well, it all started with a ‘promposal’. Whether the two want to celebrate a long standing relationship, initiate a first date, or purely just want to have a great time as friends, one of them must take the creative leap and come up with the perfect promposal for the other. And at MFS, the Senior Class of 2016 have taken the uniqueness and creativity of their promposals to a new level this year.

A Puntastic Promposal, Plus Sushi

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Andrew Karolidis asked his girlfriend to prom in a way that encapsulates his personality perfectly: high class and high wit. Besides, who could possibly say no to sushi?

Baby It’s Cold Outside

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Jake Rosvold asked his girlfriend to prom after a chilly stroll, warming both her and her heart with this hot chocolate promposal made in a homemade, personalized mug.

Eggs Before English

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Andrew Cates created this ornate setup in the middle of the Senior hallway to ask Rose Graziul to prom over homemade Eggs Benedict and fresh orange juice.

Thinking Outside the Bun

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Brad Klier got Skylar McClane’s quirky and fun personality spot on with this simple yet humorous Taco Bell promposal.

I Planned to Ask you for the Longest Time

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Edward Gelernt, along with a few friends, serenaded Margaux Vellucci with his own arrangement of “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel.

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Triple Digits: Star Lacrosse Player Katy Repholz Soars Past 100 Goals

MFS Girls Lacrosse junior midfielder Katy Repholz scored her 100th career varsity goal Tuesday, April 12th. The goal was Repholz’s third for the game, as the Foxes cruised to a 12-3 victory over Academy New Church, led by her outstanding hat-trick performance.

“I was open in the middle of the eight, and Alexis Watson had the ball behind the cage. She passed to me and it was a real quick one-cradle goal. Having my team be a huge part of the 100th goal was great,” said Repholz.

A lacrosse player since 5th grade, Katy has put in plenty of time and hard work to get to the level where she is today. In the summer and fall she plays for South Jersey Select, a club team that is filled with top players from the area, but in-season she remains focused on leading the MFS varsity squad.

Katy may be a rare talent, but she is also a team player, prioritizing MFS’s success as one of her top priorities.

“Making it to the Friends League Finals would be amazing. But I really think games like Collingswood where we battled back from a deficit and won a close game are the most rewarding,” explained Repholz. “You can just see the team improving around you, and that’s what I think high school sports is all about.”

Repholz went on to add that she would like to play lacrosse in college, but it would have to be for the right school and the right program. Regardless, the achievement of reaching one hundred varsity goals in just her junior year undoubtedly secured her high school legacy.

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MFS Wins Regional Consumer Bowl

The MFS Consumer Bowl team won the regional New Jersey Consumer Bowl finals last Thursday, April 21st, advancing to the state championship for the first time in three years.

The team, composed of juniors Alex Barrett, Alex Horn, and John Barton, and senior captain Josh Murdy, went to the Enterprise Center at the Mount Laurel campus of Rowan College to compete in a trivia competition about New Jersey Consumer Law. Topics ranged from regulations of amusement park games to the New Jersey used car auto industry.

The competition consisted of five teams, the winners of local Consumer Bowl competitions from different counties in South Jersey. The Foxes beat Cape May County champion Ocean City High School in the first round before beating West Deptford, representative of Gloucester County, in the final round to clinch regional victory. The other two competitors were Cedar Creek High School from Atlantic County and Gloucester City High School from Camden County.

This year marks long-time team advisor Barb Kreider’s final Consumer Bowl run, as history teacher Judy Van Tijn is slated to take over next year after Barb retires. Murdy, who will participate in his second Consumer Bowl state championship after making it to states as a member of the team his freshman year, remarked that Kreider has overseen the team for many years in spite of her open disdain for it.

“Barb hates the team,” commented Murdy. “She hates Consumer Bowl. We use that negative energy as motivation.”

The New Jersey Consumer Bowl Championships will be held on Trenton on Friday, May 27.

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Barb’s Last SEE

2015 SEE / Andrew Rowan / WordsWorth Staff

Tomorrow marks the last Science and Engineering Expo that Barb Kreider will oversee before her retirement at the end of this year.

Now in its eighteenth year, SEE has changed quite a bit since its inauguration early in her tenure as Science Department Chair.

“The first one was awful,” Kreider recalled with a laugh. “There was no candy (now a SEE staple), and the entire school was together in the same three gyms for the entire day.”

From there, she changed the format quite a few times until today’s current version. A full day expo, SEE Assemblies, and a half-day format all ran their course before the current quarter-day schedule was reached.

“Science isn’t science until someone repeats it,” said Kreider, explaining the most important aspect of SEE. The entire community is now invited to the expo, showcasing more than 200 pieces of work all produced by Middle and Upper School students. She also stressed that the use of visuals such as graphs and interactive projects is important when showcasing science work. “Developing communications skills should not rely exclusively on English.”

The current model of SEE is primarily focused to show the Lower School what the Middle and Upper School do in science. Freshman students are utilized as SEEscorts, taking Lower School students to designated balloon stops where they receive a sticker for their passport in a scavenger hunt styled game that encourages exploration. “Nobody cries, and all the kids are pretty happy, so that’s great,” commented Kreider.

Kreider reminisced about all the great projects throughout her years at MFS. “My all-time favorites … there was an amazing 8th grade ear [model] that I kept for several years, the 7th grade alternative energy projects are absolutely terrific, and the third was a physics project that was a hoverboard made out of a vacuum cleaner.”

Kreider said she hopes SEE will remain a continued tradition for years to come, since “[MFS students] are creating projects that are meaningful to adult scientists and engineers.”

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To Kill a Mockingword Spring Play's Language Inspires Multi-Divisional Discussions

The MFS Winter play, To Kill a Mockingbird, made waves during showtimes last week with the controversial decision to keep the n-word in the script.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” director Angela Wertner’s second production at MFS, introduced the recurring controversy over what is appropriate for school settings. This specifically addressed whether or not to censor the language used in the famous book, with the main focus on the n-word. Acknowledging the fact that using the n-word in the play would be a decision with an impact school-wide, Wertner started off the play process with the objective aimed to “keep the integrity of Harper Lee’s story.” She contacted administrators including Mr. Brandon, Mr. Kimberly, and Mrs.Washington, with the hope of keeping the language intact. Wertner says, “In that time it was such a commonly used phrase…and kept sort of in the context of the play the heightened feel of angst and tension, by eliminating it it would soften the message.” However, Wertner stayed open to the idea of altering the script accordingly during the decision process.

When contacted by Wertner, Mr. Brandon was immediately intrigued by the idea. Describing his initial reaction, he said, “I thought that a) it was good that she contacted me, and b) that the word or language should stay in the play.” Already leaning towards maintaining the language in the play, Brandon talked to multiple teachers and administrators in order to make a fully informed final decision. “We talked to Mrs. Washington, and then Ms. Stutz chimed in, and a couple other middle school teachers,” Brandon said.

The book To Kill a Mockingbird is also part of the MFS eighth grade English curriculum, and the topic of language has come up in the classroom. MFS English teacher Katie Stutz has encountered this issue when teaching the book, and makes sure to have class discussions regarding the use of the n-word, specifically. “I inform the students about the historical context of the novel, the common usage of the word during that time, and the authenticity that Harper Lee hoped to attain” said Stutz. She also addresses the importance of how usage of the word has changed over the decades, and how it impacts the reader’s perspective. Karen Washington, who previously taught 8th grade English, was also involved in the decision. “The question came up about the use of the n-word in the play, and we talked about the authenticity, but the main focus was about making sure she had a conversation with the cast,” Washington said. While these discussions may be uncomfortable, they are important to have.
The decision-making process focused on the current influence in the middle school, due to the fact that there are multiple books that are already part of the curriculum that deal with the language in question. In addition, the administration felt that it was important to credit the discussions that were already happening in the middle school because of these books, and continue these discussions on a larger basis.

With the approval of the administration, Wertner brought the message to the actors themselves. “At first it was really tricky, like allowing kids to curse in a classroom, not that it was uncomfortable. We had a talk about it.” In addition, Wertner made an announcement before the beginning of each play, addressing the fact that the language was kept authentic to the book in order to maintain essence of the play itself. Overall, the decision was based heavily on the belief that changing the language would negatively impact the integrity of the play, and chose to stick with Harper Lee’s original writing.

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New Faces, No Problem: Rookie Actors Prominent in MFS Production

The Moorestown Friends School production of To Kill a Mockingbird took place March 11-12. The show brought several new faces to the MFS stage, as a large number of the plays lead roles were filled by students who hadn’t previously been in a high school production. Seniors Michael Keller and Travis Benedict, as well as junior Matthew Knowlton all portrayed important characters and had no previous acting experience.

Keller played the lead male role of Atticus Finch. With no serious play experience,, Michael originally went out for the play as a way to spend time with his friends during his senior year.

“I wouldn’t say there was one factor in particular that made me want to take part in the show but I’ve always had in interest in the entertainment industry and since it’s my last year here I figured I might as well do something to make it more memorable.” When asked if he expected to actually land the lead role of Atticus, Keller said, “Not really I just tried to give it my all at the audition and hope for the best. It turned out well for me so I’m glad that I went in with the mindset that I could do it because that helped a lot.”

Keller also attributes much of his success to Director Angela Wertner and offered some advice to those who may be interested in acting.

“Considering this was the first production that I’ve done I really had to learn everything about theatre, all the things you have to do, and even all the words you need to know to make sure things run smoothly. She was really good at laying everything out and making things easy for a first time actor. To anybody who’s thinking about doing the play, definitely go for it. Get a group of friends together, it’s something to do after school if you’re bored. It’s really cool to be able to say that you’ve done that and it feels great to hear the applause at the end of the show.”

Travis Benedict, who played Tom Robinson, was similarly inspired by his friends to sign up for the play.

“Of course I’ve read the story before and I really like it and I wanted to be Tom Robinson, but Mike was doing it, Alexis, Natalia and a few more of my friends were too, so I decided to give it a shot.” Benedict went on to add that memorizing lines was easier than he expected. “Being my first show I felt like the memorization went pretty smoothly. I didn’t have too much to learn but it wasn’t bad. I spent a lot of time going over the book and then practicing with other people.”

Matthew Knowlton was also new to the stage.

“I always wanted to be an actor and do the school plays. But my friends that do the play really pressured me to sign up, they said it would be a fun experience and they were right.” Knowlton also spoke highly of Mrs. Wertner. “I loved working with her. She was always energetic, no matter how late it was, and she made the play fun for me. She was a big help with notes on how to improve my acting and movement. She is a great director.”

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Called Out: MFS Cell Phone Policy Update

After weeks of deliberation and collaboration with faculty, Agenda Committee has completed its revision of the Upper School cell phone policy and sent their final draft along to the faculty for approval.

The purpose of the new policy is to replace the outdated one currently found in the Parent-Student Handbook. Written in a time without modern cell phones or computers, the current policy frustrates many students, who claim that it does not take into account the increasing role of technology in our daily lives.

This has been the central ongoing occupation of the committee since the new year, as students have worked to identify the precise value they place on their cell phones, balance this value with the need for productivity, and incorporate input from teachers who have to consider the impact of phone use on their classes.

When asked if she would be willing to make changes to the AUP, Academic Technology Coordinator Diana Day said, “Yes, I would of course be willing to make any revisions, particularly if there’s a discrepancy between the AUP and the student handbook. That would need to be addressed.” As for whether or not Ms. Day thinks the proposed policy is reasonable, she said, “The AUP is always in favor of technology used for academic purposes, so that’s its bias. But as someone who loves technology and tech devices when used responsibly, I can totally see where the conversation is coming from.”

The consensus has been that the current policy can’t help but be improved on, as it’s become outdated to the point of not even being commonly known. More specifically, individual teachers appear to establish a separate cell phone policy for their own classrooms, due to the lack of clarity regarding the current policy. While students may learn throughout the course of the year which teachers are tolerant to cellular devices, bringing substitute teachers into the mix adds a new level of confusion.

Frequent Middle and Upper School substitute Mrs. Gregory said, “I get my directions from Mrs. Pratt. … For high school what we’ve been told is that no cell phones are allowed on the desk except if there’s a study hall, then students can listen to music,” and added that she cannot stray from this policy unless specifically noted in the teacher’s plan.

Students and faculty alike put the final draft of the policy to the test during Meeting for Business on January 28.

“We knew it was going to be a controversial topic, more so than other things, so yes, we expected a lot of discussion,” said senior Agenda Co-Clerk Travis Benedict.

Reportedly, Agenda Committee found the lengthy revision process rewarding.

“It was fun doing it, I think,” said junior Agenda Co-Clerk Jessica Ferber, “because it was something to talk about. I feel like Agenda is more fun when there’s a lot to talk about.”

Faculty have reviewed the final draft of the policy favorably and made very few changes.

“The goal of the policy should not be to punish anyone but to set up a standard to produce a better environment for students to study and have fun,” said history teacher Judy van Tijn. “I think it will be a complex process because every teacher had their own rules about cell phones before. All teachers should be sure to conduct class according to the new rules so that students won’t be confused and will take them seriously.”

The length of time that this process has taken can’t help but raise questions as to what policies may require revision in the future, and if so, how long it will take to do so. According to Ferber, “We’ve been talking about things like car policy, and whether you can go out during school, but as new things come out like Apple watches, I think eventually that might become something to consider.”

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A New Sort of Classic: MFS English Department Takes Radical Shift

Disclaimer: Debra Galler, Head of the English Department, is also one of WordsWorth’s faculty advisors, along with technology teacher Diana Day.

The MFS English Department may teach classics, but this year it has taken a sharp turn away from the traditional; announcements about new changes to the MFS English curriculum, to be put into place starting for the 2016-2017 school year, have left students excited and apprehensive in equal measure.

The changes, which most directly affect next year’s juniors and seniors, by extension change the curriculum at all levels of high school. Currently, students only have English classes with other students in their own grade—under the new system, juniors and seniors will sign up for mixed-grade classes focusing on various literary themes and topics, such as Contemporary Literature and The Supernatural and the Suppressed.

“We wanted to expand the Senior Seminar program and give all students more choice,” said Head of the English Department Debra Galler, speaking of the current English offerings for seniors. “The way the scheduling worked, integrating classes was the best way to do it. We also thought there were benefits to switching up the group of classmates that students have these [English class] discussions with, so it does not get stale.”

These seminar-style classes vary between honors and regular status, with all of them being only a semester long, allowing students to take two different English classes per year. The only exception to this rule is Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition, which will remain a senior-exclusive, all-year class.

Student reaction to these changes have been mixed, with both positive and negative reactions to nearly every aspect of the changes. Jess Ferber (‘17) expressed skepticism that mixed-grade classes will be a positive change, saying, “I think in a class like English where it’s discussion-based, it’s useful to be with people you’re more familiar with.”

Brad Geyer (‘17) questioned the need for the changes, calling them “unnecessary,” but nonetheless supported the idea of mixed-grade English classes. “I don’t have a problem with having class with juniors. . . I have that in Chemistry already.”

While many students remain skeptical of some or all of the changes, others clearly see the English Department’s logic. “I like it. It gives people more options earlier. I don’t mind the mixed classes” said Jacob Desman (‘17).

While the seminar classes will only be available to juniors and seniors, the change in upperclassmen classes will have ripple effects on the freshman and sophomore English curriculum, as different books are chosen in these early classes to accommodate the changes.

By pure coincidence, these changes to the English department come in concert with other changes to the MFS schedule for 2016-2017, including school starting five minutes earlier at 8:00, new religion-based course requirements, and an overhaul of the advisor system. “[The two changes happening simultaneously] wasn’t intentional,” said Galler, laughing. “It threw us off a little bit too, having it all at the same time. But maybe it’s better to get all the changes done at once, so people get used to them quickly.”

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Mad in March: NCAA Tournament Faces Familiar Controversy

Selection Sunday is the annual kickoff to March Madness—this year, that auspicious event occurred on March 13, 2016. It is a day of elation for the teams selected to the 68 team bracket, and heartbreak for those that miss the cut. Every year the decisions are met with widespread controversy and spirited debate as disappointed teams and fans protest their grievances. This year teams like Monmouth University, St. Bonaventure, and South Carolina are left frustrated as they head to the NIT while Vanderbilt, Tulsa and Syracuse are thanking their lucky stars.

Syracuse went 19-13 this season including a first round exit from the ACC tournament. Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for the first nine games of the season. NCAA Tournament Selection Committee Chair Joe Castiglione said on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, “We take [Boeheim’s absence] into consideration, just like we take into consideration the availability of players. We discuss that as a factor. We are considering it without prejudice.”

Castiglione’s comments seem troubling. Boeheim was off the court for breaking NCAA rules, including serious academic infringements. A postseason ban was not part of their punishment; however, the suspension should not be a mitigating factor for their losses. Otherwise, the punishment carries no weight, and more importantly than letting the team off the hook for five losses, it lets Boeheim off for academic dishonesty.

Monmouth and South Carolina both may have legitimate complaints. South Carolina, for example, beat Tulsa 83-75 early in the season, and had a significantly better record than them. Monmouth, at 27-7 also had much better record than Tulsa, played a strong nonconference schedule, and won their conference regular season championship. South Carolina also had a stronger record than fellow SEC member Vanderbilt. Yet, both Tulsa and Vanderbilt were selected over South Carolina. Monmouth’s rejection has me worried about conference bias. While Michigan (Big 10), Syracuse (ACC), and Vanderbilt (SEC) were selected, Monmouth from the MAAC was rejected.

University of Kentucky coach John Calipari also criticized the seeding of the brackets. Kentucky beat Texas A&M in the SEC championship game on Selection Sunday, only to find out later than A&M received a 3 seed while Kentucky was given a 4 seed. Calipari complained about the lack of transparency in the selection committee’s criteria for ranking and selecting the teams.

The controversy is nothing new; every year the teams that missed a spot will disagree, while the teams that squeezed in will say that they belong. The upsets will probably not be new either, unless a No. 16 seed pulls it off. Since the unbelievable is the normal in March Madness, it is easy to believe that we have seen just about everything there is to see. Still you can be all-but sure that this year’s tournament will produce yet another unbelievable Cinderella story for an underdog team—and while fantastic stories like these may be familiar, fans never seem to tire of them.

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