By Nick Robinson (V)
The boys’ cross country team is off to a strong start this season. Despite graduating its two fastest runners last year, the team currently holds a winning record of 3-1.
Regarding the new lineup, Tom Drzik (V) said, “We lost a couple of people, but we still have a strong team.” Two newcomers to the team, Henry Wood (III) and Chris Ticas (III), have shown strong potential when it comes to racing.
The team had a disappointing loss to Philipsburg in their first meet, but they bounced back with three consecutive wins and are preparing for the rest of their season. “Coming off a great 2016 season, we hope to retain our title at the Prep Championships and win the Non-Public B title at the State Championships,” said captain Jeffery Xiao (V).
Coaches Matt Horesta and Tim Lear are pushing the team to compete as strongly as they can in preparation to defend their Prep A title at the end of October.
By Brooke Pan (III)
The girls’ cross-country team is off to a fantastic start, currently flaunting an undefeated record of 5-0.
Led by captains Anna Wood (VI) and Cathleen Parker (V), the team is supported by its strongest lineup in years. Regarding the team, Parker said, “We have so much potential on the team with a strong group of underclassmen: Nikki Vanasse (IV), Ryan Davi (III), and Alina Irvine (III). They will help us go very far and surprise the competition.”
Keeping her expectations high for the team, Wood hopes “to go undefeated in dual meets, win the Skyland Valley Division meet, and possibly win the Non Public A state championship.”
Head coach Tim Grant believes that “this team may be one of the best cross country teams that Pingry has ever had, and the best part is that they are young.”
With a solid start, Parker, along with the rest of the team, is “looking forward to a very promising season!”
By Sehyr Khan (VI)
The boys’ varsity football season is already off to a solid start with a current seasonal record of 2-3. The team has been working hard since the start of August preseason under the guidance of Head Coach Chris Shilts and Assistant Coach Jon Leef. This year, the team is looking forward to playing in a new league with new competition.
The team looks to be incredibly strong with a significantly large senior class. According to captains Obi Nnaeto (VI) and Clyde Leef (VI), the team’s strength lies within its versatility. “We have a lot of people that can play a lot of positions,” Leef said.
The team played an incredibly close game at Homecoming on October 7th against Fieldston but ultimately lost to the team 48-49. Despite their defeat, Big Blue Football is “determined as a team” and excited to redeem themselves in their upcoming games.
By Matt Stanton (VI)
This fall, Pingry co-ed water polo is in for an exciting season. Although key players graduated at the end of last year, talented underclassmen have stepped up to bring the team to a whole new level.
Regarding the new lineup, head coach Misha Klochkov said, “We are expecting to play on a higher level with returning players building on their skills and a strong cast of underclassmen supporting them.”
The team is led by captains Matt Stanton (VI), Victor Vollbrechthausen (VI), Billy Fallon (VI), and Jonathan Epifano (VI), backed by strong starters Connor Smith (VI), Kevin Ma (V), and Max Sanchez (VI). According to Vollbrechthausen, the team is looking to “maintain last year’s state title and win games at higher level tournaments this year.”
The team is coming off an impressive showing at the Beast of the East tournament in Pennsylvania. They played in flight three, a whole division above last year, and placed second. They lost to Calvert Hall, a strong team from Maryland, in the finals. Their other losses this year have all been close games against formidable out-of-state opponents.
The team has not played any non-tournament in-state games thus far, but with stronger performances than last year, the team looks to defend their state championship later this season.
By Eva Schiller (III)
Starting off the year with a winning record of 4-3, the girls’ varsity tennis team has held their own in the competitive Skyland Conference. The team’s winning matches were against Hillsborough, Bridgewater-Raritan, and Hunterdon Central. Two of those victories were sweeps, meaning that every member of the team brought in a win.
Regarding the season, Coach Marion Weber remarked, “I’m very happy with the way the season’s going. The Skyland Conference is very tough.”
Cassie Yermack (V), who plays third doubles, said, “I’m really proud of everyone so far. We have such a great team dynamic.” Second doubles player Caeley Feeny (III) agrees, saying, “The team is really close. We love playing together and supporting each other.”
On September 22nd, Pingry tennis faced off the rest of Somerset County in the counties, hosting the event on twelve new courts. “The new courts are fantastic,” said Jessica Li (VI), first doubles, “It’s definitely motivation to do well!”
Some goals for the season are to finish in the top three and hopefully win sectionals. “Most of all,” Coach Marian says, “we’re looking forward to a fun season.”
JV tennis is also doing well this season with six wins and one loss. “Their character is what stands out,” Coach George Roser stated, “There is a really positive culture, and I think the results speak for themselves.” Overall, girls’ tennis has a bright outlook for the season and will continue to fight hard to achieve their goals.
By Zara Jacob (III)
The girls’ varsity field hockey team had a rocky start to the season this fall but came back strong by winning the last three out of four games. The team now has a record of three wins and three losses.
Head coach Julie Delinsky described this growth when she said, “We are really getting better every week, which is what matters to me. We are working hard and starting to play well together.”
The team kicked off their pre-season with a trip to Holland, where they trained hard while bonding and growing as teammates. Once they returned, they hit the ground running in preparation for the upcoming season.
The team’s goals for the season include improving their standings in the league. The coaches and players also aim to develop a team where “there be nothing average about our effort,” as said by Coach Delinsky. She stated that the team hopes to uphold the values of “effort, intensity, and hard work” throughout the season.
By Ameera Ebrahim (III)
With a record of 3-3-1, the girl’s varsity soccer team is having a solid season so far. The girls started off strong with a 2-1 win against Watchung Hills. They went on to tie their next game and win their third game against Montgomery.
The team then faced three tough losses in a row. However, after a recent win against the Peddie School, the girls are optimistic for the rest of their season.
Captains Emma Lombardo (VI), Ally Pine (VI), Mairead Higgins (VI), and Alexis Elliot (VI) are determined to reach the goals they set for themselves in the beginning of the season. Regarding their performance, Elliot said, “Our season has been off to a good start. We secured an early win against Watchung Hills that set a high standard. We are confident that our hard work will pay off and we will get the results we expect and deserve.”
By Nick Robinson (V)
The boys’ soccer team has kicked off their season with their record currently sitting at 3-2-1.
They opened their season this year with a 1-1 tie against Watchung Hills. “Nobody was happy with that one,” said Coach David Fahey about the close game. However, the team went on to win its next three games against Montgomery, George, and Friends Central. It then lost its last two games against Bridgewater-Raritan and Peddie, two big rivals for the team.
Coach Fahey said that, despite losing four very strong seniors last year, the team is pushing hard to have a good season. He said their goals are “to win the county, the conference, and the state tournament.” The team is adjusting and playing well. Captain Alexy Alin-Hvidsten (VI) already scored four goals this season, and the rest of the team is also doing well.
Overall, the season is off to a decent start as the team prepares for bigger challenges at counties and states.
By Madeline Skapper (IV) and Martha Lewand (IV)
On Wednesday, September 6, the sophomore class embarked on their Form IV trip to New York City to visit the American Museum of Natural History and view the award-winning Broadway musical, Groundhog Day.
Students travelled from Pingry to New York City by bus, where they would begin their day at the museum. Shortly after arriving, advisories competed in a scavenger hunt that took them to different exhibits throughout the museum.
The scavenger hunt had clues and riddles to find objects in different exhibits of the museum. The team or advisory with the most correct answers to the riddles received the highest amount of points, enabling them to place somewhere in the top three–provided that their team name was judged worthy. Once the entire grade gathered back together, the winners received their medals in a short ceremony and everyone headed off to lunch.
After lunch at the museum, the sophomores boarded their buses to see the Broadway play Groundhog Day at the August Wilson Theatre. Students were given tickets and sat with their advisory groups to watch the matinee performance of the show.
Groundhog Day, based on the 1993 movie of the same name, focuses on a weatherman named Phil Connors (Andy Karl), who travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog. His exit from the town goes awry when all of the roads are blocked, and he is trapped in a blizzard. Waking up the next morning, he realizes he has been trapped in a constant loop of the same day. Through this ordeal, Phil gets to know associate TV producer Rita Hanson and learn the stories of the other people in the town. Through Phil’s struggle to finally get the day “right,” he grows as a character and gains a new perspective on life which would not have been possible without his tribulations on Groundhog Day.
After the performance, the students and teachers got back on the buses to return to Pingry. Overall, the sophomores enjoyed their day in New York City, reuniting with friends before the school year officially began.
By Ouarida Benatia ’18 and Calvary Dominique ’18
From August 30 to August 31, the annual Freshman Retreat was held at the Bryn Mawr Mountain Retreat and Conference Center in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
The peer leadership program, a part of the Pingry tradition for the past thirty three years, is designed to to make the middle school to high school transition less daunting for freshmen. Transitioning from middle school into high school is one of the most challenging and exciting times in one’s life. Especially at a school like Pingry, where academic and personal excellence are stressed, there is a pressure to perform perfectly in and out the classroom. Freshmen also need to learn how to manage their newfound free time wisely so that they do not fall victim to procrastination. Without a strong support system, all the pressure can seem overwhelming.
Giancarlo Castillo (VI), a peer leader, remarks that “the most special thing about peer leadership is that the class helps [everyone] grow not only as leaders but also as people.” There are thirty-six peer leaders who are split into eighteen pairs; each pair mentors a group of about eight freshmen. This year’s advisors are Mrs. Ostrowsky, Mr. Ross, and Mr. Murdock, who run the discussions and activities for the class. After the peer leaders bonded during their own retreat in June, the freshman retreat was meant to establish a strong bond between seniors and freshmen.
Upon arrival at Bryn Mawr at the start of the retreat, each peer group made a flag symbolizing their group. The first activity was generally focused on getting the everyone into the habit of working together within their groups. The rest of the day was devoted to team-building activities including making a protective device for an egg drop, building a carriage that could withstand the weight of a person for a carriage race, making a catapult, and going through the “Gauntlet,” a timed obstacle course which could only be completed with the teamwork and contribution of every person in a peer group. After dinner, it was time for the dance. As soon as the DJ played the song “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men, the peer leaders rushed out to surprise the freshmen and began engaging everyone in the dance. The spirit was truly infectious, and a lot of the freshmen began to let go of their reservations and start having fun. The next day of the trip was game day. Anxiety filled the air as the peer groups launched their catapults, dropped their eggs, raced their carriages, and heard the results of the Gauntlet race. Alex Kaplan (III) said he liked “the building part because [everyone] put their heads together and sourced [the] idea for the chariot and made it all together, which was a good time.”
In sharp contrast from that exciting atmosphere, everyone boarded the buses for a relaxing trip back to Pingry. Kayley Taylor (III) says that peer group has definitely helped her transition to the high school and that “it’s better that we have one block where we don’t have to worry about anything and we can just talk to our peer leaders and actually get things done at the same time.” The freshman retreat was a clear success, and the prospective year in peer leadership is sure to be a success as well.
By Darlene Fung (V)
On September 6, rather than visiting the Eastern State Penitentiary as juniors have done in past years, the Class of 2019 explored the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of the American Revolution.
Students spent the two-hour bus ride catching up with peers after summer vacation, and they were ready to explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art when they arrived. Once they were given their tickets, the students were free to roam the museum, exploring rooms that contained a diverse array of art installations. One favorite display was called “Arms and Armor,” a collection of full body armor, swords, and even armor for horses. Advisor and English teacher Mr. Thomas Keating said, “The museum had such a fantastic collection. I saw my favorite artists and got to enjoy time with my students.”
After spending a few hours in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the students enjoyed lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, choosing from a variety of food options in the bustling market, including burgers, Chinese food, Italian food, fresh deli sandwiches, several dessert options, and of course, Philly Cheesesteaks.
After lunch, the students went to the Museum of the American Revolution, which recently opened on April 19 of this year. Groups of around fifteen students were assigned a tour guide and given an interactive worksheet to fill out during the tour. Students were also given the background information of a prominent figure during the American Revolution. As they experienced the tour, students were encouraged to imagine what the revolution would have been like for their specific character.
As students walked through the museum, they watched educational videos, touched various displays, and even smelled a piece of rope that would have been used on a ship bringing goods to the New World. One interesting artifact included a punch bowl from an old tavern, which was excavated at the very site of the museum. With its pieces glued back together, one could see a picture of the Tryphena, an English brigantine ship, painted on it.
Interacting with signs that said “Please touch” and “Please smell” throughout the museum was a unique and engaging experience compared to the “Please do not touch” signs that are in most other museums. Commenting on her experience at the Museum of the American Revolution, Veronica Williams (V) said, “I really liked the interactive Revolutionary War museum. All of the videos made it very entertaining. In general, I thought the trip was a lot of fun and a great way to start the school year.”
By Alyssa Chen (VI)
On September 5, the Class of 2018 boarded three buses to the Pocono Valley Resort in Reeders, Pennsylvania for their Senior Retreat, the annual overnight trip in which the graduating class bonds through fun activities and prepares for college admissions through workshops.
After arriving at noon and dropping off their bags in outdoor cabins, the students were given the remainder of the afternoon to relax, hang out with classmates, and take part in the numerous activities the resort had to offer. These activies included swimming in the pool, kayaking out on the scenic lake, playing sand volleyball, and completing the tree-top ropes obstacle course. Of the ropes obstacle course, Ethan Chung (VI) said, “It was challenging, but still doable and fun.”
Near the end of the afternoon, it started to rain. “We were lucky,” said Ryan Fuentes (VI), “because we had just enough time during the day to do all of the activities we wanted to before it started pouring in the evening.” Even with the downpour outside, the seniors continued to enjoy their afternoon with indoor activities like basketball, table tennis, and board games. Popular board games included Scattergories and Spot It!, while over twenty seniors partook in a friendship bracelet-making session led by Sehyr Khan (VI), who had brought more than enough bracelet-making thread.
After a delicious dinner served in the cafeteria of the resort, the seniors dressed up for a dance with the theme of “High School Stereotypes.” Seniors went as nerds, jocks, goths, and everything in between. After the dance, the students unwinded by making s’mores and snacking on pizza before heading back to the cabins and sleeping.
The morning was filled with hot breakfast followed by several college workshops led by Ms. Amy Cooperman, Ms. Meghan Finegan, Ms. Susan Kinney, and Mr. Timothy Lear of the college counseling department. The workshops were focused on various aspects of the college application process the seniors were about to begin, such as essay-writing and discussing the admissions office’s point-of-view.
“The college workshops were pretty helpful,” said Melissa Tungare (VI). “I understood more about what colleges were thinking. Also, the workshops made me feel better, because coming back from summer, I didn’t feel ready. But afterwards, I realized that we’re all in the same boat and that the college counselors are there to help us.”
One memorable activity had seniors act as the Pingry admissions committee, tasked with choosing only one student out of six prospective students to admit, while waitlisting and rejecting the five others. From the exercise, students learned how subjective and difficult admissions decisions can be, and that, unfortunately, schools can only admit a few students from a pool of qualified students.
Other workshops saw students reading and evaluating sample college essays while brainstorming for their own. Another workshop was led by Coordinator of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Dr. Diana Artis, Peer Leaders, and the Student Diversity Leadership Club, in which students read about and discussed issues relating to discrimination in their lives and in the world today.
After the educational college workshops, the seniors ate one last meal at the resort, packed their bags, and boarded the buses back to school. The Class of 2018 arrived at Pingry, relaxed, excited, and ready for the first day of school and their final year of high school. As Fuentes said, “It was a great bonding experience and I thought it was a perfect end to the summer.”
By Felicia Ho (V)
Returning to school after the dog days of summer can be difficult for students, having to settle back into their routine of meeting deadlines, finishing homework, writing papers, and studying for tests. However, one student this year faces the greatest challenge in adjusting to the new school year: Asja Alispahic, Pingry’s new AFS (American Field Service) student who will be joining Form V.
Through offering international exchange programs, AFS gives students around the world the opportunity to spend a school year in a foreign country to immerse themselves in another culture and become fluent in a foreign language. Pingry has been an AFS member school since 1960, hosting students from countries such as Sweden, Turkey, Lebanon, Germany, France, and most recently Italy and Spain.
A native of Tuzla, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alispahic is visiting the United States for the first time. In order to apply for AFS exchange to the United States, Alispahic wrote several essays, took standardized tests and quizzes, and had many interviews. From the seven hundred people who applied from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alispahic was one of only ten people selected to come to the US.
Although she did not have the option to choose the city or school she wanted to attend in the U.S., Alispahic explained that she “likes suburban New Jersey because of its relaxed atmosphere and the polite locals.” With her host family, the Jan family, she has already been to several Jersey diners and other small towns in New Jersey.
Compared to her hometown, she said, getting around New Jersey is less convenient. In Tuzla, she could take a taxi or walk nearly everywhere. In New Jersey, however, she needs to be driven everywhere. Alispahic has also recently visited New York City and Toronto, Canada. She especially loves Brooklyn.
When asked what the biggest difference is between Pingry and her school in Tuzla, Alispahic said, “At Pingry, there is more freedom in choosing classes. At my school in Tuzla, I am assigned thirty required subjects to take throughout my high school career, and there is usually no choice involved. At Pingry, I can choose six courses with few requirements.” Also, Alispahic, a talented swimmer, said she “loves that sports are incorporated into the school day at Pingry, resulting in more team spirit.”
When asked what she loves the most about Pingry so far, Alispahic said, “People seem so relaxed and optimistic, even though most people have packed schedules and many responsibilities.” In the year ahead, Alispahic said she hopes to “continue to make new friends and to take advantage of the many academic and extracurricular opportunities available at Pingry.”
By Ketaki Tavan (V)
Dr. Delvin Dinkins, who joins the community as the new Assistant Headmaster, previously worked at Episcopal Academy Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, serving as the Head of the Upper School and teaching English.
Dr. Dinkins received his B.A. in English from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He then received his M.A. in Literacy and English Education from the University of Michigan and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.
When asked what activities he was involved in as a student, Dr. Dinkins said, “I really loved running in college—it was my main activity.” He also sang for an a cappella group and was involved with the gospel choir, literary magazine, and different affinity clubs. “I love the deep connections I made with my colleagues,” he said. “I have enormous affection for the schools, the experiences I had there, and the people I met.”
When asked about his first impressions of Pingry, Dr. Dinkins commented, “I love it! Even if every day or every moment isn’t a home run, I know this is a magnificent place that prides itself on being thoughtful and intentional across all aspects of the school environment.
“The club fair was a great example of the kind of autonomy and agency students here are afforded,” he said.
Dr. Dinkins’ goals for the year include trying to get to know as many people as he can and developing an intimate understanding of the Pingry environment. “Before the year is over,” he said, “I hope to have interacted with everyone at some point and to use those interactions as an opportunity to get to know what Pingry is all about.”
Although Dr. Dinkins is especially excited about big events like Homecoming, he also wants to “appreciate the magic of the everyday,” which includes small moments in classrooms and the hallways. “I look forward to learning more about what makes this place special to students, to faculty and staff, to families, and to alums,” he added.
When asked what obstacles he thinks he might encounter this year, Dr. Dinkins said, “Not knowing what I don’t know. I’m a person who likes names and faces, but it’s daunting to think about the 1000-or-so names and faces I want to get to know when I’m not interacting with them in the classroom every day.” Nevertheless, he does not believe this obstacle is insurmountable and looks forward to tackling it.
Dr. Dinkins wants the Pingry community to know that he is “a man of enormous principle” and that he “believes wholeheartedly in Pingry’s core values.”
“I believe in and embrace these values,” he said, “and it’s important for everyone to know that you’ll find me to be someone who’s optimistic, approachable, and friendly. I want to know what’s on the hearts and minds of people, and I believe in everyone’s inherent goodness. I don’t believe in judging people based on single stories, and my door is always open!”
By Caroline Santoro ’19
On Friday, September 22, the community gathered in Hauser Auditorium for the Fall Awards ceremony. This annual event brings the school together and recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of Pingry students.
The ceremony began with recognition for high PSAT scores, awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Program. The program honored thirty-eight students, including twenty-two as Commended Scholars and twelve as National Merit Semi-finalists. Four high-scoring students of Hispanic backgrounds received praise from the National Hispanic Recognition Program.
Following the PSAT awards, Headmaster Nat Conard presented two character awards to a member of each grade: the Citizenship Prize and the Faculty Award. This year the citizenship prize was awarded to freshman Ore Shote, sophomore Hannah Dillon, junior Ketaki Tevan, and senior Jacqueline Chang. The Faculty Prize was awarded to freshman Chloe Mason, sophomore Rita Harrobin, junior Rashida Mohammed, and senior Brandon Rosen. The prestige of these faculty-determined awards epitomizes the value Pingry students place on being well-respected, ethical citizens. Mr. Conard also awarded the Scholarship Prize to the valedictorian of each grade: freshmen Rhea Kapur, Julian Lee, and Justin Li, sophomore Brian Li, junior Andrew Beckmen, and senior Alyssa Chen.
Students who excel in math and science were then presented a variety of awards, including the Bausch & Lomb Science Award, which was presented to Senior Jennifer Fish, and the Rensselaer Mathematics & Science Award, which was presented to Senior Raymond Chen.
Following those honors, Dr. Dinkins presented the college book awards, a tradition that is highly anticipated each year. A college book award is presented to the member of the senior class who embodies the values of the associated college. With the award, the recipient receives a book given to them by the college. This year the colleges represented were Brown (Megan Pan), Columbia (Ethan Chung), Cornell (Clyde Leef), Dartmouth (Jennifer Coyne), Mount Holyoke (Alexis Elliot), Penn (Jared Lefkort), Princeton (Jacqueline Chang), Smith (Madeleine Parrish), Wellesley (Rachel Chen), Williams (Alexandra Pyne), and Yale (Wallace Truesdale).
The Justin Society awarded students for their writing competition honors in the categories of fiction, poetry, memoir, and flash fiction. First place winners of these awards went up on the stage to receive their award from Dr. Cottingham.
The ceremony always concludes with the fall induction of seniors to the Pingry chapter of the Cum Laude Society. President Mrs. Lydia Geacintov explained the difficult requirements for induction eligibility: students must maintain an A- (Honor Roll) average, take a full college preparatory course load, and receive a minimum of half of the votes from the chapter’s electing members. Nine students were presented with this great honor, and they were met with praise from their classmates and teachers. Those students were seniors Naiyah Atulomah, Alyssa Chen, Rachel Chen, Jennifer Coyne, Josie Cummings, Clyde Leef, Megan Pan, Jackson Proudfoot, and Ally Pyne.
The Pingry community congratulations all of this year’s award recipients and looks forward to celebrating the academic successes of a new set of students next year.