Mock Primary Preview

The 14th Moorestown Friends School Mock Primary Election will take place on January 14th, 2016. A tradition that began in 1960, the Mock Primary Election is held every four years and is a school-wide event.

History teacher and MPE organizer Judy van Tijn told WordsWorth, “This year we’ll have a dual-party election, which means we’ll have candidates from both parties, and if there are any third party candidates, [they] can run.” When asked if the format will be changed at all since the 2012 MPE, van Tijn “We’re expecting to have ballot issues, the same way we usually have those. We’re still discussing the exact shape of the day, but I don’t think they’ll be any major changes to the day.”

Van Tijn also said, “It’ll be fun! I love MPE. I’m hoping that we get a lot of student involvement, the more student involvement the better. In 2008 we had a security force and voter ID and that was because students made it possible. We also had a quiz during assembly that students made possible, so it’s really beyond the basics, it’s what students want to do for the day. Hopefully we’ll get lots of student interest.”

The Mock Primary Election is a fun day that only comes around every four years. For Upper School Students, this will be the last time they’ll be able to take part in the festivities but they’ll be sure to enjoy it.



Spirit Week Planning

With only five short months left, it’s fair to say that spirit week planning is in the air.

But is it too early to start? Of course it is!

For some reason, people believe that planning for spirit week at the beginning of the summer is a good idea. This seems a little extreme considering that the airband songs end up getting picked a week before spirit week! Yet I still end up getting a Facebook invite to the “Spirit Week 2015 :)” group. To be fair, a lot can get done during this pre-planning stage, but then there can also be fights, arguing, and division between the grade itself. It often seems like the only thing people figure out during the five months of planning is who their least favorite student is, and that is the opposite of what Spirit Week is supposed to do.

With a summer full of so-called “necessary” meetings, one would think that something as simple as deciding as a hallway theme would not end in grade-wide rifts, but too often it does. Now, I’m not saying that the meetings are entirely useless, but in their current form they cause far more problems than they solve. Personally, I’m not going to take time out of my very precious summer to go to your house just so you can shoot down all of my ideas. If you don’t want them, don’t ask for them!

Spirit Week should be a time for the whole class to come together, everyone working together in the spirit of friendly competition to beat the other grades. Yet it turns out that ironically the fighting within each grade is far more harsh than the competition between the other grades. I believe that every grade should come together at the beginning of year and get all the Spirit Week stuff figured out then, as this will force people to work together to solve problems quickly, rather than leaving many months for needless problems to form. There is no need for everyone to come in on the first day hating each other.

Keep Spirit Week planning in school time!


Watch Out! New Apple Device “Most Personal” Yet

The Apple Watch, released to the public on April 24, 2015, is Apple’s most “personal device yet,” according to one of its advertising slogans. Announced in September of 2014, Apple’s latest technology includes features such as timekeeping, fitness/health tracking, and numerous iOS compatibilities, such as music, messaging, and Siri. However, not everyone seems to be as pleased as Apple is with the new tech.

While Apple is the proud new parent of this device, not all consumers are as pleased. Freshman Zachary Durr purchased the Apple Watch, but would not buy it again: “I feel it’s a little too expensive for what it does.” Prices for the new devices range from $349 to $17,000, the most expensive being an 18-karat gold watch. Another con is the fact that the watch works with your iPhone. Without an iPhone 5 or higher, things like messaging or fitness can’t work; as Durr said, “Like, if I wanted to go run on the treadmill without my phone I couldn’t. You have to have the phone for the watch to work.” Sophomore Hunter Harris agreed that the price was not worth it for a device that could not fully function without an iPhone, pointing out that the Apple Watch is simply “not necessary”.

However, there are some pros to the new watches as well; Durr’s favorite part is that “I can call and text people without having to pull out my phone.” Apple Inc. states on its website, “You’ll feel a gentle tap with each incoming message. Apple Watch also lets you connect with your favorite people in a fun, spontaneous ways- like sending a tap, a sketch, or even your heartbeat.” While Harris criticized the price point, he did commend Apple for the design and convenience of the Watch. He also said that the screen was very easy to use, and that the Watch itself was not very distracting for him as he went about his day.

Overall, the Apple Watch is a new, innovative piece of technology that has the potential to change our everyday relationship with technology. It has great features such as an easy-to-use touch screen and convenient messaging. Still, with the significant current limitations on its usability without an iPhone, along with a steep price point, it may not be for everyone.


New Year, New Clerks Clerking Controversy

This year’s decision by the Nominating Committee to elect rising juniors into two clerk positions caused controversy.

In the past, clerk positions were traditionally filled by seniors (with the notable exception of Adalberto Rosado, elected two years ago to be Diversity Committee Co-Clerk as a junior). However, this year Nominating Committee elected rising juniors Jess Ferber and Maura DiVentura as Recording Clerk and Co-Agenda Clerk, respectively.

Ms. Taylor-Williams, the Faculty advisor to Nominating Committee, spoke of the change in culture: “It is a shift… The feeling that I heard in Nominating Committee was that people within the student community are less engaged, so, there are sort of two ideas. One, to have a broader base of age level leadership… second was to make student government more accessible. It creates ways for classes to meet more often, do things that matter to the class, and also understand what’s going on.”

Rising junior and recording clerk-to-be Jess Ferber had this to say: “I think it’s a positive thing because it will allow for a wider viewpoint and age ranges… If younger grades see underclassmen applying for leadership roles in student government, they will be more likely to be active in student government.”

Josh Murdy, Clerk of 2015 Nominating Committee said: “During the beginning of Nominating Committee we made a conscious decision to expand student government. Previously, it was off putting to freshmen and sophomores who felt that only upperclassmen could participate. Bringing in rising juniors will ideally create an atmosphere that is accepting for all students, no matter what grade.”

Nominating Committee’s process for deciding next year’s clerks may have been controversial because the concept of “seniority” was not considered, but the committee certainly succeeded in their goals, not only to broaden participation in clerking roles regardless of age or grade, but to spark debate and discussion around student government policies.


“God Awful” is Anything But Ryan Dorsey premieres his last film at MFS

Dorsey stumbled upon the world of film. He never envisioned this to be his calling.

“Sophomore year I messed up and didn’t have a second elective,” said Dorsey. “I had a free period as a sophomore, which isn’t allowed, so I had to pick something, and the only the opening was film production. It sounds cheesy, but there was this opening speech [film production teacher Hezekiah Lewis] did, and it got me excited about filmmaking. We did our first film project and I just fell in love with it.”

Three years later, Dorsey has produced a plethora of films that have made him known throughout the school as a talented filmmaker. His productions have become a mainstay in the annual MFS Filmfest, and his grade’s senior airband video (a parody of The Shining) credited “visionary director Ryan Dorsey.”

Dorsey’s last film as an MFS student, God Awful, premiered publicly today at 11:00 in the MFS auditorium.

The film, Dorsey’s last production as an MFS student, stars Dorsey’s longtime friend and collaborator senior Brandon Beach, who plays a guardian angel named Gabriel. Gabriel protects a man named Adam Crowley, played by junior Jake Rosvold, whole life is filled with positive and offsetting negative occurrences. In his frustration with the negatives in his life, Crowley kills Gabriel and acquires the angel’s power to bring about anything he so chooses by writing it. However, Crowley’s greed comes back to haunt him, as the pizza he determines will arrive at his door kills him when he chokes on it.

In addition to Beach and Rosvold, the film also starred junior Natalia Queenan, who played Crowley’s coworker, and theater director Mark Gornto, who played Gabriel’s employer.

“This is actually my first comedy,” said Dorsey. “I’m really not that funny. It was weird to try to write things that other people would find funny.” The film is a dark comedy.

Sierra Mills, a junior, was Dorsey’s co-writer on the film. She has a history of film writing, as she has written two other films but this was her first time working with Ryan Dorsey.

“There were periods of time in screenwriting classes where we would sit down and try to think about it but we wouldn’t really come up with anything. Then he would quietly say, ‘I have an idea.’ and he came up with this small premise and I fell in love with it. So I kept adding bits and pieces, seeing what he liked and didn’t like, and we made notecards with plot points and put them on the board.” she said. Mills also added that working with Dorsey has inspired her to continue writing films. “I think it’s a great film. It’s my favorite that Ryan has done and I’m glad to have been a big part of it.”

“Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the past three or four years,” said Dorsey to the screening audience. “The people that were in [this film] weren’t even in [filmmaking] class, they just decided to help me out of their kindness, and I really thank them for that.”

Dorsey heads to the Big Apple this fall to continue studying film at NYU.


Varsity Night’s New Look

Members of the MFS community from all throughout the region congregated in the Westin on Wednesday night and then dispersed all throughout the Westin to celebrate the school’s athletes.

The school’s annual Varsity Night, a celebration of all its varsity athletes, took place on May 20 at the Westin. The event’s format was changed drastically from previous years; instead of one large dinner for all guests where all teams presented to the entire community, teams split up for smaller, shorter, and more intimate presentation in separate rooms. Each fall sport had its own small-group presentation, followed by a parallel format for winter and then spring sports. Instead of a full meal, guests found desserts in the lobby as well as in each small room.

These changes come in light of a survey put out by the Athletic Department three years ago, along with feedback from last year’s event. Many guests felt that the event’s large setting was impersonal and did not encourage interest in the coaches’ presentations, and this year’s changes were an effort to fix these problems.

“The kids and families…[got] an opportunity to really hear what the coach had to say,” said Athletic Director Danielle Dayton. “This way, we more than doubled our amount of time the coach had to speak with and about their program, which was important because a lot of effort goes into student athletes and a team.”

The format change greatly increased each coach’s allotted time to present his or her team while shortening the overall duration of the event. After all team presentations, all guests gathered in one room to honor senior Scholar Athletes and those who had made the Athletic Honor Roll.

“[I] thought that the new format provided a more intimate setting,” said senior and three-sport Varsity athlete Tommy Martin. “Each coach could say what they wanted to a group of people who were all interested in hearing.”

“I really like the new set up and how everyone was able to be heard and seen.” commented junior Margaux Vellucci, a member of the Varsity Cross Country team. “The benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks.”

This year’s Varsity Night had 415 guests, the most in the event’s history. The shift from a full dinner to dessert and coffee yielded a significant price drop, which, along with the more efficient format, likely drew many people who had not attended the event in the past.

“I was very pleased with the way the event ran,” reflected Dayton. “That’s due to a lot of people’s hard work. It was a fantastic display of teamwork, which is what athletics is all about. It gave our student athletes a better opportunity to enjoy the evening and be honored the way they should be.”

When asked about next year’s Varsity night being run the same way, Dayton lit up. “Yes, I sure hope so!”


Mohsen-Breen’s Prize-Winning Books

WordsWorth recently sat down with Adam Mohsen-Breen, an MFS senior and author of three books that have received wide recognition and earned him a Princeton Prize. Mohsen-Breen’s books concern post 9/11 bullying of Muslim youth, especially in the context of schools, and preach a positive message of religious tolerance.

WordsWorth: How many books did you write?

Adam Mohsen-Breen: I wrote three books [Grandfather’s Promise, Laila and Gabe, and Tarek’s Lesson], each centered on a particular aspect of classroom bullying situations that I wanted to focus on.

WW: What inspired you to write your books?

AMB: I was inspired to write my books because bullying of Muslim youth is a problem that affects my religious community, as well as my family community.

WW: What was the biggest challenge when writing each book and did they have any common problems?

AMB: The biggest challenge for each book was definitely creating a believable and unique protagonist for each book that could be likable enough to drive the action of my books, while at the same time strong enough to deal with the problems they encounter in the classroom.

WW: Rumor has it your books are being recognized all around the world. How does that feel?  Did you think that they would get lots of attention?

AMB: I am incredibly grateful to everyone that’s helped me so far along the process, and I would never have received this type of attention without the support of all my advisors and overseers. When I saw the first articles start to come out, I was obviously extremely excited, especially because the articles for the most part were very faithful to the intended message of my books. I never expected my books to receive any kind of recognition outside of our own, school community, but the Princeton Prize really served as a catalyst for the increased media attention, which was really exciting for me.


Ahead of his Time Freshman Submits AP Art Portfolio


Robie Driscoll has proven himself a truly impressive young artist.

Driscoll, a freshman, submitted an AP 3D Design portfolio for the 2014-15 school year. Although AP courses are not available to freshmen, Driscoll found no problem in completing his work outside of class time. Unlike the students enrolled in the course, who have been working on art since September, Driscoll began working on his portfolio a mere three months ago.

Driscoll picked “line and linear exploration” as the focus for his artwork. “I’m so glad to be done; it was really stressful,” said Driscoll regarding his portfolio.

Teachers have begun to notice his work as well. “His work is amazing,” commented Upper School Director Justin Brandon. “Robie has a great vision and he clearly has a great sense of what he wants to do. His concentration is extremely impressive, and shows how talented he is.”

“Robie has a good eye for design,” said Studio Art teacher Michael Webster. “He’s very good at manipulating materials to make interesting objects. His portfolio turned out very good, and phenomenal for a freshman.”

See Driscoll’s artwork here.


New Peer Leaders 2015-16 Seniors to Take Over Peer Leadership Elective

The peer leaders for the 2015-16 school year have been chosen.

Selected as male peer leaders were David Borne, Mitchell Mullock, Zach Day, Kieran McMenamin, Matt Mullock, Dylan Eni, Jake Rosvold, and Jacob Schoifet. The girls selected were Erin Chen, Amanda Karlsson, Andayah Sams, Margaux Vellucci, Marirose Aleardi, Gabriela Montes, Nia Francis, and Mia Zayas.

Mr. Brandon, Ms. Taylor-Williams, and Mrs. Hanamirian interviewed over 30 junior applicants for peer leader positions as part of the program’s second year. The process was challenging for the administration,  as the 30 applicants were vying for just 16 spots (8 boys and 8 girls).

The group interviews posed each applicant with several situations that might arise in a peer leadership class to see probe how he/she might handle it. Scenarios included handling of plagiarism and offensive or awkward comments by students.

Newly chosen peer leader Zach Day was fond of the interview protocol. “[It] was the best way to show who would be best for the position, as it allowed each interviewee to have their voice heard on the potential topics that may come up in the peer leadership setting.”

Over the course of the 2014-15 school year, the peer leadership program has already become a vital part of the MFS high school community. The program allows for the seniors and freshmen to get to know each other, and allows the newest high schoolers to become better prepared for high school life. The program is helpful for educating the freshmen on the academic and social ways of high school.


2015-16 Class Officers Finalized

The class officers for the 2015-2016 MFS school year are listed below.

Class of 2016
President: Alexis Tsapralis
Vice President: David Borne
Secretary: Zachary Day
Treasurer: Marirose Aleardi

Class of 2017
President: Isaac Muñoz
Vice President: Julia Giordano
Secretary: John Barton
Treasurer: Hunter Harris

Class of 2018
President: Libby Meyer
Vice President: Ian Millstein
Secretary: Caroline Cook
Treasurer: Sujin Kim

This year, instead of filling out paper ballots in advisor, students cast their votes via Google Forms. “[Online voting] makes [the process] just a lot smoother,” said Dean of Students Mike Brunswick about the new system. “It makes it more like a real election, and takes a lot of the stress off of the advisors to collect the votes, and then to send them to me.”

Even with the strict 9 PM deadline, voting turnout was not significantly lower than usual. “Probably five or six students per grade, less than ten percent, didn’t vote,” said Brunswick.

Because of the success of the new online system, it is likely that this will be the process moving forward.