By Allie Verdesca ’18
Spring is my least favorite season. Allergies get worse and schedules get busier. What’s more, the weather has not been very cooperative in keeping me going throughout the school year. Especially with senioritis sinking in, I am finding it hard to stay on task. My main coping mechanism for these feelings has been music, and more specifically, breakup music. In my opinion, there is no song more relatable than a breakup song. Even if you haven’t been dumped (or dumped someone else), everyone can understand the sting of heartbreak. While not all of these songs are about the end of relationships, they are perfect if you’re ready to break up with the school year and move on to the bigger, better things that the summer will bring. So grab some earbuds and get ready to rock!
The first song on this list is “The Greatest” by Sia. Recently, I have been listening to many pop musicians and getting reacquainted with a more traditional pop sound. Sia’s “The Greatest” is the perfect earworm to get you through these last few draining weeks of school. The song’s driving beat and refrain of “don’t give up” provide the perfect antidote for your end-of-the-school year woes. Sia’s soprano voice and mastery of her trademark pop sound will keep you hustling through exam season and reassuring yourself that you too are “free to be the greatest here tonight.”
In a similar vein is Ingrid Michaelson’s main claim to fame, her song, “Girls Chase Boys.” Like “The Greatest,” Michaelson’s song has an upbeat and repetitive chorus, and she really knows how to sing a good breakup song. From her emotional vocals on “The Chain” to her enthusiasm on “Be Okay” and her sass on “Hell No,” Michaelson has mastered the craft of channeling sorrow into productivity. With “Girls Chase Boys,” hopefully, you too can release your disenchantment with the school year and use it to finish strong. The song’s leading verses are relatable and encouraging, and with a fun, danceable beat, “Girls Chase Boys” will have you shrugging off your setbacks and admitting that “I’m gonna be alright!”
On a different note, one of my favorite songs of all time is “Sad Song” by Scotty Sire. Not my typical type of music, “Sad Song” combines biting sarcasm with a bubbly, upbeat rap to create the ultimate feel-good, feel-bad song. The song’s lyrics carp on all the little things that can go wrong in life, and Sire’s nasal voice and accompanying whistling along to the tune of the chorus make everything seem a little easier. While this isn’t necessarily a breakup song, it embraces the self-pity and stress that come with the end of the year and reassures us that “it’ll be alright,” and sometimes, joking about your misery makes your problems easier to bear.
And finally, the epitome of breakup songs has to be Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” After performing the song with the Balladeers for our annual assembly, nothing has encapsulated my end of the year more than this iconic 1980’s single. Gaynor is the epitome of a classically trained vocal powerhouse with an amazing belt. The strength in Gaynor’s voice is undeniable, and the way she puts weight behind every word will have you singing along. The slow, dramatic piano introduction sets the stage for its pulsing chorus. The chorus will have you jumping off your feet and dancing, and will be the perfect push to get you through final exams and AP season. Knowing that “you will survive” may be the best motivation to send exhausted Pingry kids into the summer feeling accomplished and ready for a well-deserved break.
As this is my last music column for the Pingry Record, I just want to say it has been a pleasure to share my music interests with you all. I hope I have been able to provide some musical inspiration and broaden your horizons. Have a great summer!
By MIRO BERGAM ’19, NOAH BERGAM ’21, MEGHAN DURKIN ’21, VICKY GU ’20, FELICIA HO ’19, ANEESH KARUPPUR ’21, BROOKE PAN ’21, EVA SCHILLER ’21, KETAKI TAVAN ’19, BRYNN WEISHOLTZ ’20.
After completing their classes in early May, 139 seniors pursued Independent Senior Projects (ISPs). These projects ranged from translating a grandfather’s autobiography about the Korean War to studying the effects of climate change on beach towns, allowing seniors to explore their interestsin the nal months of theirhigh school careers. We break down the projectsby their general eld ofinterest.
Travel and Cultural Exchange
Interested in learning more about “Short Stories in Costa Rica,” Krish Bhavnani traveled to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica to immerse himself in Spanish culture and
develop “my own artistic voice” by writing two short stories in Spanish. In addition to writing, he also participated in frequent surf lessons to have conversations and interact with members of the Santa Teresa community.
Rachel Chen visited both cities and landmarks in China to reconnect with her roots and compare An- cient and Modern China with the Western World. Her experience culminatedin a personal re ection andseveral sketches inspired by her trip. Upon her re- turn, she shadowed several doctors at the St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livings-ton to experience rsthandthe responsibilities and realities of being a doctor.
Avery Schiffman continued her passion
for learning the Chinese language by exploring Chinese cuisine in China- town, NYC, participating in Kung Fu and Tai Chi at a nearby Shaolin Kung Fu center, and visiting various museums about the impact of Chinese artwork on Chinese communities in each dynasty. She posted several blog posts about her excursions, as well as a video documenting her experiences and interviews with Chinese immigrants.
To answer the question, “How did Paul Cézanne’s life in Aix-en-Provencein uence his artwork?” Katya Drovetsky and Ilana Lurie traveled to Aix-en-Provence in France to trace Cézanne’s artistic life. Using their AP Art History and AP European History knowledge, the pair researched and completed a travel journal recording their personal experiences in the Aix-en- Provence.
Isabel Giordano and Caroline Petrow-Cohen tackled the question of what efforts Germany and its government are making to commemorate and condemn its dark past in the Holocaust by traveling to Berlin, Germany, and visiting public monu- ments, museums, and two concentration camps. Their project concluded with a final research paper exploring their findings.
Maya Huffman, hoping to continue her Japanese studies after visiting Japan last year, and Wallace Truesdale, who has been interested in Japanese media and culture for years, spent around five hours a day learning Japanese from apps and DVDs. At the end of their project, they created worksheets and exercises to help others learn Japanese.
In the process of learning to speak and write Korean at a basic level through lessons and conversations with her great aunt, Lindsey Yu compiled a fully translated English version of her great grandfather’s autobiography about the Korean War and their family history. The autobiography included anecdotes from relatives, a family tree, and images of people and places mentioned in his work.
Galvanized by the effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and its continued struggle to recover from the storm, Sanford Ren traveled to Puerto Rico to experience the devastation firsthand. He wrote a blog, compiled a photo journal, and prepared a research paper on the economic recession plaguing Puerto Rico and proposed ways to fix it.
Technology and Mechanics
Using their knowledge of physics, computer science, and engineering, Arnav Agrawal and William Zhang constructed and programmed a 3D printer, which they used to create a working telescope. With their innovative use of cutting edge machinery, the two also managed to observe the night sky and pursued their interest in stargazing.
Namita Davey gained valuable experience working in the tech field by shadowing Marina Thottan, the Director of Network Intelligence and Control Systems at Nokia Bell Labs. She worked on projects ranging from online games to network design, all while embracing NBL’s reputation as an innovative, cross disciplinary center of computer science research.
Hoping to expand his knowledge of the tech industry and the professional world, Obi Nnaeto interned at the Google Creative Lab in New York City. Through this internship, Nnaeto observed and documented the creative process at Google, as well as the dynamics of a modern workplace.
Working under the program designer at lowMu inc., a real estate technology company, Billy Fallon and Max Sanchez aimed to centralize the communication required for a real estate transaction by programing a web application. The app’s many useful functions include an online calendar and the ability to fill out address and subject lines of emails.
Jennifer Fish and Ami Gianchandani worked towards improving the lives of Pingry students by coding a digital version of the planned absence form. By streamlining the process for both students and teachers, the pair left a legacy at Pingry as well as explored the practical uses of their computer science knowledge.
Using a motion sensing device called Microsoft Kinect, Graham Matthews programmed an interactive video game that tracks the movements of the user’s hands. In order to accomplish this, he had to learn an entirely new coding language and expand his knowledge of obscure areas of computer programming.
By taking courses online and spending time at Hanu Software, Alex Fradkin studied the connectivity of everyday objects through internet, which is generally referred to as the Internet of Things. Using what he learned, Fradkin coded a virtual reality environment that users can interact with and change.
Fulfilling “a childhood dream,” Ish McLaughlin spent his time working at the Hilltop Auto Repair in Summit and getting hands-on experience as a mechanic. In addition to performing basic service on cars, McLaughlin helped the shop harness social media as a tool to expand their customer base.
Inspired by his interest in data analysis and neurological disorders, Mitchell Pavlak conducted a study of how close a role genetic mutations play in migraines. Throughout the process, he also learned and documented the multiple algorithms required to sort and analyze the data.
Anna Wood helped to develop an app called Strive, which allows endurance athletes to maintain their health by tracking their heart rate, stride length, and other physical statistics. She also worked with Great Expectations to introduce healthy, easy recipes to women and children at the Center.
In order to investigate the impact of sports and athletes on culture and political movements, Zach Aanstoots and AJ Weaver researched both past and present examples of athletes asserting their voice in issues of equality. To supplement their research, they also visited the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Ben Barral interned for the New Jersey Devils’ Human Resources Manager through helping with ticket sales, the Devils Outreach Program, and marketing. While at the Prudential Center, he observed the makings of a successful organization and sought to understand how the Devils have changed their association to stay relevant in today’s society.
Through assistant coaching both Pingry’s middle school lacrosse team and his town’s youth lacrosse team, Aidan Dillon focused on improving his leadership skills. He worked with Mr. Greg Sullivan, a Pingry teacher and lacrosse coach, to plan practices and reflect on their effectiveness afterwards.
To understand how organizations maintain a healthy business model, Michael Weber interned for the Somerset Patriots, a minor league baseball team in Bridgewater Township. He worked at the ticket office both selling tickets and answering calls from potential buyers, while also exploring how the Somerset Patriots work together to build a long-lasting, successful organization.
Hoping to learn about the life and regiments of professional athletes, Malcolm Fields shadowed Kaito Streets, a coach and student at Advance Fencing and Fitness Academy preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Throughout the month, he watched Streets practice both his mental and physical approach, while Fields took classes himself to improve upon his own skills.
With an interest in sports analysis, Max Scherzer interned at Rutgers University to help collect and analyze data regarding ticket sales and potential season ticket holders in order to maximize fan turnout at sporting events. Working with Mr. Ryan Gottlieb, the Associate Athletic Director for Sales Strategy and Business Intelligence at Rutgers, he documented his new found knowledge of the world of sports analytics in a daily journal.
Apurva Memani completed an internship with Vashkevich Fencing Club, where he has trained before, as an Assistant Fencing Coach. Focusing on sports management and economics, along with fundamental communication and leadership skills, he gave individual and group lessons at the club.
To continue both her interest in playing and coaching tennis, Brooke Murphy shadowed Matt Sabo, a coach for ProSmart Tennis Academy and a former professional tennis player himself. She focused on learning how to teach young players and improving her coaching techniques by helping Sabo run clinics.
Environment and the Outdoors
Exploring the fields of marketing and public relations, Giancarlo Castillo worked as an assistant in the development department at the Summit Arboretum. He spent most of his time answering to whoever needed his help in order to benefit the arboretum’s main fundraiser, ART in the garden.
In an effort to redefine the image and stereotypes of New Jersey, Colin Edwards and Jason Lefkort created a movie from footage of beautiful scenery they recorded as they biked across the state. Everyday, they biked a different trail exposing the diverse and historically significant sights they passed by.
Mitchell Flugstad-Clarke worked for a nonprofit organization named Harding Land Trust, where he explored his interest in entrepreneurship by helping HLT develop their approaches toward social media as well as improving their website design.
Meghan Salamon traveled to Yosemite National Park with her brother, Ryan, acting as her mentor. Before she left for her trip, her enthusiasm for health and nutrition led her to plan out each day’s meal to ensure their proper caloric intake. The two of them hiked all ten trails of Yosemite Valley, taking pictures and many video logs.
Jack Proudfoot was greatly influenced by his role in the Outing Club when he decided to develop outdoor education opportunities for the students at Pingry. He completed this through creating an environmental education course for the Pingry summer camp so he can later expand his classes to fit into separate school year-long courses.
Inspired by their passion for the outdoors and their interest in Native American culture, Alexis Kinney and Mary Nussbaumer traveled to New Mexico to see the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon. Both had backpacked at the Bears Ears National Monument last March and were determined to return and tackle the question, “How does the National Park Service protect these historic landscapes while keeping them open to the public?”.
Hoping to open their eyes to the natural beauty of Northern Jersey, Téa Simon and Shea Smith traveled to four different preserves and took photos for a visual project they presented to the rest of their peers. They hope to influence their peers to further connect their day to day lives to nature and the outdoors with their work.
Sean Tan pursued his interest in protecting the environment through working at the New Jersey Audubon, where he was able to inform the community about the importance of preserving wildlife and the repercussions that society could face if they were ignored. His work at Sherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary involved tasks ranging from physical labor to data entry.
Business, Finance, and Management
Jack Schuessler pursued his interest in economics and business through an internship at Kennedy Lewis Investment Management, LLC. He studied the strategies a private credit fund uses in the real world and gained experience and understanding about his own passions along the way.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, Alexis Elliot took on the financial side of business by shadowing an established business women, Lisa Opoku. Under Opuku’s guidance, she implemented and built upon her problem-solving capabilities, all the while absorbing the ins and outs of managing a successful business.
Syd Davis expanded his knowledge of engineering, finance, and management by shadowing the President and Chief Operating Officer of Crisdel, Frank Criscola. Davis gained exposure to the various jobs and departments within the company, which he shared with the public through a blog detailing his reflections and experiences.
Jonathan Epifano, Henry Cohen, and Victor Vollbrechthausen travelled to Spain to work at Salvo Global Properties Inc. The three focused on different topics individually: Epifano centered his attention on architecture as well as financial studies; Cohen focused more on the real estate and construction aspects of the company; and Vollbrechthausen concentrated on the business side of the company.
Adam Freeman shadowed the owner at Industrial Foam Inc., where he monitored the inflows and outflows of money and learned how a small business operates. He focused particularly on the role of the owner in the business’ success and sought to understand the owner’s responsibilities and adaptation over time.
An enthusiast for community-driven events, Dhruv Govil worked at a nonprofit organization, Farnnstead Arts Inc., where he helped grow the involvement of its supporters in Basking Ridge and in the rest of the state. He proposed solutions to benefit the company’s attractions while providing fun experiences to bring the community together.
Combining his passions for sports management and economics, Jacob Gruber interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers in their DEALS practice. During his time there, he discovered how both corporations and private equity clients value and assess acquisition targets.
To gain insight into growing and maintaining a small business, Megan Horn shadowed Priscilla Vincent, owner of Priscilla’s Cafe. She learned the day-to-day routine of the owner and she used her discoveries to formulate her own business plan. Horn then travelled to Cape Cod with Millie Deak to study the effects of climate change on beach towns and discover the history and growth of now popular spots.
Phito Jean-Louis, in order to further examine his interest in business and entrepreneurship, shadowed Chike Uzoka, an entrepreneur coach and entrepreneur himself. Through watching and participating in workshops with Mr. Uzoka, Jean-Louis gained more knowledge around the field and worked to discover if the career was for him.
Emma Lombardo worked on her startup, StringFling, a customized handmade bracelet and keychain business that recently launched on the online store Etsy. She experienced the life of an entrepreneur by learning from her mentor, an entrepreneur himself, as well as buying her own materials, managing her own budget, and responding to clients.
Inspired by an internship at a financial analytics firm during the summer before his junior year, Michael Lu self-studied advanced finance and economics topics and earned a New Jersey Insurance License. In addition to researching these concepts on his own, he also shadowed a financial consultant at World Financial Group.
Neil Reddy explored the life of a trader by researching strategies for investment, watching seminars, and learning from an expert at a hedge fund on how stocks are analyzed. In a daily blog he sought answers to questions like, “How do investors choose companies to invest in?” and “How does the industry of a certain stock influence investment?”.
Drawing from his personal experiences playing lacrosse, Jason Weiss worked for a company named SwaxLax based in Summit, NJ. Through his internship at the company, he learned the basics of the sales industry such as managing invoices and becoming proficient in QuickBooks. Finally, he compiled his experience into a presentation about the business, outlining how the product “goes from production to the hands of the consumer.”
Mentored by Andy Christie on-site and Ms. Tandon at Pingry, Naiyah Atulomah decided to work at Christie’s Artisan Bread and Pastry Shop in Clinton, New Jersey. While working behind the counter and gaining an understanding of how businesses and kitchens are run, Atulomah also researched how different ingredients affect types of bread and experimented with baking her own.
Under the guidance of Dr. Marie-Pierre Jolly, Raymond Chen tackled combining basic machine learning with neuroscience. Using a vast array of resources, including online courses, online textbooks, and instructors from his Columbia University Science Honors Program, he developed a greater understanding of the computational side of machine learning.
Matt Stanton investigated the differing habits and behavior of Black Sea Bass, Striped Bass, and Fluke by fishing in Montauk, New York. During fish migration period in May, he used surfboards, kayaks, and boats to fully observe their differences, culminating in a research paper discussing his ideas for new regulations which conflict with current DEC policies.
Music and Theatre
Hoping to see how unlimited practice time would increase his skill level, Ethan Chung studied the history of music pieces and practiced instruments for at least four hours a day split between piano and cello. He also attended concerts in New York City to help build his music knowledge and decide what role music will play in his future.
Connor Smith explored photography, a course he regretted never taking at Pingry, and combined it with his love of music to produce a collection of music photography. He attended various concerts and, under the mentorship of teacher Mr. Miles Boyd and owner of RMC Records EJ Gaub, he photographed young musicians at the recording studio and other artists during their performances.
Jonathan Huang returned to the Short Hills campus to give back to the music program, as it guided him towards some of his happiest high school moments in the Buttondowns. He helped run music classes under the mentorship of Mrs. Finn and also planned Field Day and other events through the front office.
As a final farewell to the Drama Department, Megan Pan produced and directed David Auburn’s Pulitzer-winning play, Proof. Her goal was to learn about steps it takes to produce a play from beginning to end while still serving as a mentor for younger students within the drama program.
To pay homage to his tabla instructor and guru Kaumil and the Taalim School of Indian Music in Edison, NJ, Nikhil Rao spent roughly three hours a day practicing the tabla, a Northern Indian classical drum. Ultimately, he composed a ten to fifteen minute duet which he performed and videoed featuring himself and his instructor.
Brandon Rosen spent the month building his professional singing career by writing and recording songs, one of which will be released as his next single. Most of his work took place at the Mannes School of Music in New York City and at Germano Studios.
Jewell Strickland worked on the technical facets of Megan Pan’s production of David Auburn’s Pulitzer-winning play, Proof, and assisted backstage for the middle school musical technical team. For both plays, Strickland designed the lights and sets for the show and drew layouts for various scenes.
Hailey Cernuto worked with the Children’s Education Department at the Reeves Reed Arboretum. Under the mentorship of Jackie Kondel, the Director of Education at Reeves Reed, Cernuto worked to better understand what goes into creating a meaningful educational experience.
Determined to be role models for younger kids, Tommy Dugan and Cameron Wright volunteered as gym teachers at the Pingry Lower School. Under the mentorship of Leslie Miller, they planned and taught physical education classes and also helped organize the annual Lower School field day.
George Enman and Jamie Zusi worked under the mentorship of Mr. Birotte to serve underprivileged schools in Newark and Elizabethport. Building on work they had done on previous Rufus Gunther Days and with the charity Lacrosse the Nation, they helped teachers with their classes and coached a variety of sports.
Feeling that the Pingry experience had given him a limited perspective, Ryan Fuentes decided to visit five different types of schools for five days and shadow students there in order to better understand different academic experiences. For the rest of the month, he worked to document his grandfather’s stories from the Cuban Revolution and write satirical stories.
An admiration for education led Sehyr Khan to work with ECLC in Chatham to help teach special needs children. Under the mentorship of Ms. Fran Ryder, a supervisor at the school, she observed the classroom, talked to the teachers, and participated in a variety of activities. Throughout the month, she updated a blog to document student experiences at the school.
Under the mentorship of Ms. Erin Sweeney from the nonprofit organization Schools That Can, Jessica Li spent the first half of May working to help bring computer science to Newark schools. For the second half, Li focused on another large academic pursuit of hers: biological research. While shadowing Dr. Armstrong from Novartis in Morris Plains, she learned about the science and marketing aspects of drug development.
Ally Pyne volunteered at Pingry as a teachers’ assistant for the Research I Class and at the Presbyterian Church Preschool and Kindergarten. Under the mentorship of Dr. D’Ausilio for the Research Class and Ms. Maury Fryer for the preschool, Pyne was able to witness the differences and similarities between the learning styles of preschool- and high school-aged students.
After having spent a senior year at Fusion Academy, Matthew Rockoff worked on a video project that embodies the experience that current seniors at Fusion Academy have had. He also helped create and continue a peer mentorship program, similar to the Peer Leadership program at Pingry.
Inspired by past summers she spent shadowing her mother, a gastroenterologist, Sana Sheikh shadowed Dr. Tanveer A. Janjua, a dermatologist. With little prior knowledge about dermatology, Sheikh left her comfort zone to explore her ideal career choice as a physician from a new angle.
Austin Parsons shadowed orthopedic surgeon Dr. Hunt and Senior Director of Business Operations Ms. Kathryn Van Nest. For the first two weeks with Dr. Hunt, Parsons saw the work of an orthopedic surgeon and considered the field as a future career path. For the second two weeks with Ms. Van Nest, he witnessed the inner workings of the pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson.
Interested in the field of psychology and applied behavioral analysis, Jessica Carvelli interned at the Child Development and Autism Center at the Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown. She worked with clinical staff and physicians and observed the full range of developmental delays and disabilities that the patients present, as well as the therapies that the Center provides.
A volunteer EMT throughout high school, Ouarida Benatia shadowed anesthesiologist and Pingry alumnus Dr. Matthew Chow of the Morristown Medical Center to figure out what it is like in the operating room. She documented the ups and downs of her experience in a collection of poems under the mentorship of English teacher Dr. Susan Dineen.
An EMT with a longtime passion for medicine, Jackie Chang shadowed anesthesiologist Dr. Chow as well as NICU doctor Dr. Ladino. Between these two doctors, Chang was able to witness the science, emotion and workings behind both anesthesiology and neonatal care, and was even able to attend a research conference about an artificial placenta with Dr. Ladino.
Ryan Feeley shadowed Dr. Sanja Kolarov, an internist at the Morristown Medical Center. In order to learn about a variety of different medical specialties and gain a better idea of his future career path, Feeley maintained a blog to document all that he learned from his experiences.
Following her interest in the medical and dental fields, Neha Lall shadowed both a physician, Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine expert Dr. Meher Sultana, and two endodontists, Dr. Maya Prabhu and Dr. Carmen Cicalese. By exposing herself to two very different specializations, Lall could consider their differences and similarities and better understand what she wants to pursue in the future.
Colin McKinnon shadowed Dr. Marjut Kokkola-Korpela, a specialist in tropical diseases and HIV/AIDS. Interested in the future of disease prevention, McKinnon came to understand the demands of the infectious disease field, observe how diagnoses are made, and understand how different aspects such as physician work and research play into the job as a whole.
Aubrey Molloy decided to shadow two doctors: spine surgeon Dr. Mark Drzala and cardiac anesthesiologist Nimesh Patel. Inspired by a medical trip to Argentina she took the previous summer, Molloy pursued her passion for medicine and science as well as her desire to help people by witnessing and documenting life in the operating room.
History and Humanities
Alexy Alin-Hvidsten researched the geopolitical history of his ancestors as a means of better understanding his heritage and lineage. He studied the Russian Revolution, the whaling business of Norway, and primary documents such as his great aunt’s novel.
Jeremy Lister visited different museums and historical sites like the National Holocaust Museum and the Tenement Museum for inspiration for his original writing. He took what he saw and used it to write a collection of historical and realistic fiction short stories.
Lindsay Rispoli and Mariam Trichas studied and visited different commercial, culinary, and artistic centers in New York, such as the MET and the New York Stock Exchange. They photographed the city and kept a blog that recorded their observations of gentrification, innovation, and evolution in the city.
Myla Stovall visited different eateries in New York City to research the culinary histories of Little Italy, Chinatown, and Harlem. She kept a blog and wrote a paper outlining her discoveries of how heritages and immigrant histories can be traced through the food and restaurants of NYC.
Focused on exploring the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, Jordan Taylor designed and sewed a dress based on Ancient Egyptian fashion. She sought to better understand Egyptian life and culture as a means of exploring cultural appreciation as a whole.
Jared Tiggs built upon his involvement in a rap group called BOE to pursue a music career of his own. He spent the month of May writing and recording original songs to create and refine his musical body of work.
Clyde Leef and Jake Patterson combined their love for working with clay and commitment to community service. They hosted “Clay Nights” to raise money for an art-oriented charity and teach the community about creating clay pots. Individually, Leef and Patterson also created their own pots using techniques that would not be possible in the time span of a regular class.
Inspired by Chinese and Spanish techniques of throwing and glazing pottery, Ben Vasquez explored his individual style while incorporating outside influences for his ISP. Vazquez pushed his technical boundaries, such as mimicking the extreme thin quality of Chinese pottery and the post-production painting and glazing from Spanish pieces. In order to further heighten his knowledge, he worked under Mr. Freiwald’s direct guidance and visited other workshops within New Jersey.
Melissa Tungare and Lexi Brauer helped combat the speech impediment consequences of ALS. Technology Against ALS, a nonprofit organization, is currently developing technology that tracks eye movement, and Tungare and Brauer expanded its AI eye-recognition database by photographing the eyes of diverse ages, sexes, and races. In addition, they conducted research and device trainings in TA-ALS’s office, met with a lawyer to create a TA-ALS participant waiver, and distributed flyers.
Alyssa Chen pursued her love for calligraphy and hand lettering. In addition to perfecting her skills through practice, research, and mentorship, she launched an Etsy shop to sell digital and physical copies of her work. Chen used her internship in a public relations/brand advocacy department in a credit union to further understand the strategies involved in creating her own brand.
Jenny Coyne furthered her studies of Native American culture through literature and pottery. At Pingry, she researched online resources and consulted Mr. Freiwald to implement Native American symbolism and techniques into her own pottery. To explore Native American literature, Coyne read nearly 1,000 pages of novels and wrote reflections about them.
Mairead Higgins drew portraits representing her senior class and wrote passages describing individual students’ sentiments and experiences while at Pingry. Though she spent most of her time in Pingry’s art studio creating the portraits, she also interviewed corresponding and random members of her class with questions such as “What gets you up in the morning?”, “What were the best five seconds of senior year?”, and “In ten years, what will you remember about Pingry?”
Kelli Gomez merged her passions for art and music by painting based on songs. She created a piece for each track from the albums Current, by Tame Impala, and Channel Orange, by Frank Ocean on-campus as well as in Natirar, a nearby public park. In addition to visiting modern art galleries, she studied the details of studio art under Mr. Delman.
Nick Ladino utilized the translucent quality of glass as a unique canvas for his art. In his creations, he merged the worlds of physical and functional utility with mental and mind-stimulating utility. Though he first began working with glass in his Portfolio class this year, he continued to gather inspiration and techniques by visiting glass-related museums and exhibits in New York City.
Rebecca Lin pursued her love for animation by creating a storyboard animatic. Inspired by the K-Pop group BTS’s “Love Yourself” album and Unicef campaign, Lin’s animatic is about accepting one’s own mistakes and imperfections. She used traditional media to draw on-campus and planned and organized storyboards at home.
Saxon Scott expanded her artistic skill set by learning to create digital art with software and a tablet. Though her mentor, Mr. Boyd, oversaw her work, Scott mostly taught herself through a series of online tutorials for Adobe Illustrator. With her newfound proficiency in digital art, she plans on combining her love of science with graphic design in the future.
Looking to take more time in exploring her passions of drawing and painting without the busy schedule of school, Sophia Weldon visited several art galleries and the Botanical Garden in New York City. Inspired by the many works on exhibit, she created a portfolio of drawings, paintings, and photographs inspired by works currently on exhibit.
Combining his fascination with the ocean and interest in photography, Dylan Cheng traveled to Turks and Caicos for his ISP to dive and take underwater photography. In preparation for his trip, Cheng took an official PADI online course in photography. He then taught himself how to use various editing softwares to transform his photos into a gallery.
Lindsey Hogan explored her interest in photography by learning the basic principles of photo-taking and editing. Through spending time in New York City and Hunter, NY, hiking and taking pictures of the wildlife she saw, Hogan discovered how she personally sees the outdoors and what photography means to her.
Looking to push herself out of her comfort zone, Sidney Shannon’s photography work was centered around sparking thoughts and questions in the minds of her audience. She experimented with portrait work inspired by surrealism and fashion photographers as well as with using colored gels to add contrast to her work.
Owen Wolfson undertook multiple projects that all incorporated his interest in photography. He developed a webpage on the Pingry website to help the artists of the Pingry community gain exposure, spent time with Mr. Bruce Morrison to learn about sports photography, and took some of his own photography in an effort to dive deeply into his artistic identity.
George Mychajluk visited Chinatown, the Ukrainian Village, Koreatown, Little Italy, and other landmarks of New York City to photograph immigrants and learn more about their culture. He also practiced advanced techniques such as night and bulb photography.
Conor Mahoney grew as a photographer by working as an assistant to Mr. Jon DeCola, a Pingry alum. He helped Mr. DeCola with lighting set up and handled the post-production scanning of his images with specialized software and hardware. Mahoney spent the rest of his time shooting on his own in the NYC area.
Media and Communications
Josie Cummings worked with Tobias Fox, Newark Science and Sustainability founder and managing director, and Pingry’s FYI Sci club to enhance both her understanding of sustainable living as well as her film editing and production skills. Using the raw footage Tobias Fox provided, Cummings created videos about energy sources and climate change for FYI Sci.
As an intern at the TV show Younger, Calvary Dominique observed its production in the show’s office as well as in filmings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. In this way, Dominique learned more about technical and supplemental roles of filmmaking as well as the process of filming and casting a TV show.
Joei Drozjock interned on the set of the ABC television show Pyramid and followed Vincent Rubino, one of Pyramid’s head producers. Though she assisted with minor tasks dealing with logs and transcriptions, Drozjock mainly observed and created a film summarizing the development of a TV season.
By creating a set of short videos introducing and describing available languages taught at Pingry for the website, Lindsey Larson enhanced her own filming and editing skills while leaving a creative legacy at Pingry. The videos of the entire Language department and Chinese, Spanish, German, French, and Latin courses are aimed to both inform and captivate prospective parents and students.
Inspired by Ferdinand Magellan’s historic voyage around the world, Bao Pham recreated Magellan’s journey through a creative culinary experience. Pham learned, researched, and made recipes from across the globe and produced a video compilation of his progress.
Ben Ramos, an aspiring filmmaker who lacked the time to pursue as much of his passion as he wanted to, spent the month diving into the entire process of making a film. This process involved storyboarding, planning, scouting for locations, filming, and editing.
Channing Russell and Tyler Williams studied the rise of the Black Media industry during the 1980s, 1990s, and through to the present day. They analyzed films ranging from A Soldier’s Story (1985) to White Men Can’t Jump (1992) to Moonlight (2016).
During the school year, Ryan Willsey was never able to find time to make videos longer than five minutes outside of his Portfolio class. During May, he created a documentary about out-of-the-way places of significance in the New Jersey and New York City area using video footage taken through his drone.
Elle Braverman, Will Capanna, and Matt Parisi worked with the family of John Taylor Babbitt ‘07 and the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation, which works to raise awareness for sudden cardiac arrest, on Pingry’s annual Walk With Heart event. They made trips to Pingry’s Lower School, advertised with local media about the event, and secured donors for the foundation.
Alice Berndt and Olivia Virzi spent every day at the Bridges headquarters in Summit, creating a system to catalog the inventory in the facility, working on the Bridges blog, and preparing for weekly runs into NYC to serve those in need.
Shruti Sagar, Millie Deak, and Maddie Parrish worked on establishing a club and program at Pingry to support Syrian refugees called Pingry Students Organize for Syria. Sagar also worked with Mr. Tobias Fox of Newark Science and Sustainability and students from Seton Hall University to design a curriculum for Newark elementary schools.
Sara Donovan decided to connect her two loves of fashion and politics into one project during May. She spent her time touring the streets of New York City and photographing and interviewing people of different backgrounds and displayed them in a photo project.
Sophie Loesberg helped Temple Har Shalom create a library for the Temple’s Pre-K program by sorting out pre-K books from the Temple’s larger library. She also assisted in archiving and cataloging the Temple’s historical documents and records.
Through interning and shadowing colleagues of Jane Aronson, founder of Worldwide Orphans in Maplewood, Iman Khan learned how nonprofits are established and developed.
Kassidy Peterson worked with Raritan Headwaters to preserve and monitor clean water in the surrounding community. She monitored streams, helped educate younger students about clean water, and marked trails and safe places for people to enter and exit the streams in kayaks.
Politics and Law
Allie Verdesca took an in-depth look at art created by women during May. She observed many different works of art and determined the time period, subject matter, and representation in museums, and determined which piece she would add to the AP Art History curriculum if given the chance.
By Felicia Ho ’19
Feeling cranky after oversleeping on a beautiful Sunday morning? Looking for a great place to unwind and chat with friends and family? Tired of waiting as the minutes slowly tick by for only a bite-sized meal? Look no further than the dim sum at Chengdu 1 Palace in Green Brook Township.
When I first moved to Warren a couple of years ago and saw the sprawling lawns and open land, I was worried that there would be no spark of life in a town sheltered by towering trees. What’s more, I worried that there would be very few authentic Chinese restaurants in an area without a large Chinese community. Soon, however, I discovered the yellow brick road — Route 22 — and its emerald castle — Chengdu 1 Palace.
My family no longer had to drive forty minutes or more to Edison or Parsippany, where Asian communities have cultivated several landmark restaurants, to experience the hustle of dim sum. Having tasted traditional dim sum in China, my family had high expectations for Chengdu 1 Palace. Dim sum needs to be an experience. You have to feel the rush of the moment as carts rustle past, loaded with plate upon plate of dumplings and rice noodles and servers advertising their cargo with competing cries. You have to be bold to try all kinds of food, and, yes, that includes the chicken feet and beef tripe. Only when your table is full of plates and awash with the scent of freshly steamed buns and porridge can you truly appreciate the majestic quality of dim sum as a satisfying meal.
Chengdu 1 Palace passed these expectations with flying colors. My personal favorite, the jiu cai bao, or chive dumplings, had the right amount of crunch and texture along with a strong scent of chives that filled the air. My little brother could not get enough of the tangy sauce covering the pai gu, or steamed ribs, and my parents loved the wide selection of foods to choose from, covering not only the traditional Hong Kong-style foods associated with dim sum but also other regional specialties like ma la liang fen, cold and spicy jelly cubes. Although the boba tea was not the best, the bulk of the meal, whether it be the tender cheong fan rolled rice noodles with shrimp or the sweet red bean filled zhi ma qiu, or sesame balls, was outstanding.
What’s more, Chengdu 1 Palace is operated by a great staff who is always ready to help. While there are few vegetarian options for dim sum, you also have the opportunity to order off of the dinner menu.
Whether you have yet to be introduced to the wonders of dim sum or are already a seasoned foodie, having dim sum at Chengdu 1 Palace is a great experience, especially considering that it is local and truly delivers an authentic dim sum meal. Indeed, dim sum may help you reach new frontiers in your connoisseur career of culinary excellence as you nibble on the stomach of a cow, or it will satisfy your sweet tooth with light, airy desserts. Either way, the servers and waiters are eager to help you embark on your journey, and maybe even help you learn a little bit about Chinese culture along the way.
In a world populated with takeout boxes of orange chicken and fried rice from Panda Express, Chengdu 1 Palace offers a haven for traditional Chinese cuisine to continue to thrive in the modern suburbia. The next time you feel lost, follow Route 22 and open the gates to the Chengdu 1 Palace for a culinary experience of a lifetime.
By Alexis Elliot ’18
Netflix boasts many originals and blockbusters. In the case of shows like Black Mirror and Narcos, viewers are given a taste of what they are about to watch, obviously, from the show or movie title. However, the show Dear White People is interestingly one of the few misnomers on the network. Dear White People is based on a 2014 film of the same name, both written by Justin Simien. Season two of the show was released on May 4. With the buzz that the show got due to its misleading title and its satirical plotline, I knew I had to recap season one.
Dear White People focuses on the main character Sam, a black college student who runs a radio hotline called “Dear White People” at a predominantly white and extremely competitive fictional college called Winchester. The creation and name of her radio station receives a lot of backlash from the white students of the college. However, Simien uses Sam to address the show’s misnomer by explaining that although the radio station (and show) is addressed to white people, it is mainly focused on black people and doesn’t hesitate to criticize the black community.
Further, Simien makes each episode of Dear White People based around a different black member of the college. First there’s Sam, the headstrong activist on campus, who feels guilty about dating a white person. Then there is Lionel, an avid writer for the school newspaper who struggles to embrace his identity. There’s also Coco who comes from South Side, Chicago, but feels entitled when she is around the black community. This wide range of characters makes up the small percentage of blacks at the college. They allow Sam to use her platform to fight for and, at times, criticize her own people.
In the original movie, the main issue that Sam was broadcasting against was a “black face” party hosted by one of the notorious frats called “Pastiche.” While the party was shut down by the cops, Sam was taken aback by the fact that some members of the black community actually dressed up to attend the event. Season one of Dear White People tackles the unrest at Winchester; the non-colored students feel as though there is a “war” being waged by the colored people. For this reason, one of the donors offers to shut down a historically black house at the college and replace it with a mixed house. When students find out about it, the reaction is just as fiery as the one against blackface.
Season two leaves viewers wondering whether or not the black community will be forever rocked by the potential loss of a meaningful sanctuary for them. They have to face the fact that despite their differences and internal issues, they must band together in order to survive.
Dear White People is a show that will keep you laughing and doesn’t demand too much of your attention. The episodes are short and there are only ten in season one and eight in season two. I found myself laughing at the satire that all students, regardless of background, can somehow relate to.
The one criticism I’ve heard about the show, and I slightly agree with, is that the generalizations for the satire were overworked. The “types” of social groups at the college (based on race) seemed too cliché for some viewers. However, I think the show does a great job of explaining an aspect of college that many tend to overlook, while serving up some humor at the same time.
Outplay, Outwork, Outlast! Pingry boys’ lacrosse is certainly on their way to do all three of these things this season, which began in early March. The team has participated in eleven games so far, and has won the majority of their meets, with a record of 11-7. “We are up and down in terms of wins and losses, but the boys have steady growth in terms of skills,” says Head Coach Michael Webster. Their best game was against Hunterdon Central, in which Pingry won 8-5.
“My favorite part of the season was the Hunterdon Central game, because the team came together and rose to the occasion to beat a strong team,” says Jason Weiss (VI), one of the captains. Most of the boys’ lacrosse team members have high hopes about the rest of the season. “I am extremely optimistic about the rest of our season. We are heading into the county tournament and are trying to achieve our team mission of winning the state title after it. All eight seniors have stepped up this year trying to lead a much younger team than there has been in years passed, and the team is excited to try and win its fourth state championship in a row,” says Weiss (Fifteen freshmen have joined the team this year, with five on varsity and ten on JV). “They have been extremely helpful, with two entering into the starting lineup and others helping out as role players.”
Coach Webster also expressed high hopes for the season. “I am optimistic that we can defend our state championship from last year in the Non-Public Group ‘B’ tournament,” he says. Good luck, Pingry lacrosse.
By Aneesh Karuppur (III)
On April 15, the sixth annual Pingry Research Exhibit, organized by Dr. Colleen Kirkhart this year, featured student-led and student-performed research and engineering projects. New this year were the humanities and social sciences exhibits, which added to the already existing sciences, technology, and engineering exhibits. Overall, the event was a big hit for all, and many visiting scientists were impressed with the sheer amount of novel ideas Pingry students and faculty have come up with this past year.
Kelli Gomez (VI), the head of Journal Club, opened the exhibit with a keynote describing new developments in research on pain management and her own personal connection to this topic after witnessing her mother’s difficult battle with pain following a car accident. Afterwards, parents, siblings, teachers, and students were invited to tour the various exhibits on display in the hallways and classrooms around the school.
The Independent Research Team (IRT) groups, composed of small 4-5 person teams that work on original research projects in various areas of the sciences, sometimes in conjunction with college researchers, shared the results they have gathered in the past year. In addition to presenting posters, several teams also had interactive activities for the visitors, such as showing them how to use an in-house-assembled microscope that tracks algae movements in three dimensions, how to dye fish using tapioca pearls with different color stains, and how to differentiate fruit fly traits under a microscope. Students Modeling a Research Topic (SMART) Team displayed a 3-D printed model of the protein they would be presenting at a national conference, and FYI Sci ran several kid-friendly demonstrations about basic science concepts and played science-related movies. Journal Club, which helps prepare students and faculty to present and discuss research papers every Thursday morning at 7:30, had a few of their past student presenters explain their papers to visitors. AP Biology classes presented their Masters projects in the upper halls of the exhibit, and Research Classes displayed their projects in the lower halls of the exhibit.
Humanities IRT presented their research on various topics like looking at evolutionary biology through the lens of children’s stories, the evolution of Communism, Game Theory, economic self-interest, altruistic punishment, and an analysis of William Faulkner’s writings.
In the technology and engineering section, Computer Science classes used the Student Technology and Publishing Center to demonstrate their programs, which included complex concepts like Artificial Intelligence and Neural Nets. In the Hyde and Watson Gymnasium, the Robotics club set up their numerous championship-winning robots next to a drone built by the IRT Swarm Robotics team.
To close this busy and exciting day, Brooke Conti ’09 delivered a keynote discussing the importance of basic research on the lab bench and how it has helped her in pursuing her doctorate degree at Rockefeller University.
In total, the over twenty exhibits about a range of interesting topics inspired many great minds, young and old alike. It is clear indeed that research exhibit will continue to showcase the ingenuity of Pingry students and faculty in the coming years.
“Lacrosse: Turning violent personalities to world class athletes.” If this statement is true, then most of the twenty members of Pingry girls’ varsity lacrosse team must be in dire need of anger management. Their final regular season record stands at a whopping 14-6. According to Varsity Coach Carter Abbott, the team’s best game was against Hunterdon Central. “The Pingry team hadn’t been leading the game until the last four seconds. Then they really went for it, bringing the final score to 15-14.” Abbot continued, “Also, one of our players scored nine goals in this game, which was amazing.” Currently, the team is ranked fourteenth in the state on nj.com, and is currently seeded third in the Somerset County Tournament.
“This is the best we’ve done in a while, and the best rank we’ve had in about five years. It’s really exciting,” says Abbott. She attributes much of the success of the season to the leadership of the seven seniors, Mairead Higgins (VI), Shea Smith (VI), Sana Sheikh (VI), Josie Cummings (VI), Elle Braveman (VI), Tea Simon (VI), and Jenny Coyne (VI), and the other coaches, Assistant Coach Meredith Finkelstein and Goalie Coach Courtney Tierney. Abbott also says that the team’s “versatile attack” and “experienced defense” are their best weapons. “In each meet, we have four of five different people scoring, which makes us difficult to stop. Having a lot of weapons makes it difficult to stop them all.” she says. Additionally, Abbott states that the twenty-three new freshman, one of whom is on varsity, have contributed much to the team.
By Miro Bergam ’19
This year’s graduating class both applied to and will be attending a record number of colleges. The class of 2018 applied to 183 different schools, nearly matching the record 184 in 2014. The range and diversity of colleges applied to are reflected in their final decisions, as the class will be attending 72 different colleges — an all-time record for Pingry.
“This was the stat that jumped out at me,” said Director of College Counselling Mr. Tim Lear. Lear continued, “Clearly, they researched schools all over the country (and world). 72 is, to my knowledge, an all-time record high and incredibly impressive for a class of only 139 kids.”
He went on to explain how this range “helps classes in the future. It’s gone from 57 in 2008 to 72. When a school sees that they have a Pingry kid being a leader in their community — running the school paper or doing research in a lab — they’re going to want to accept more kids from Pingry.”
98% of the class applied to some form of an early program, with 87% of the class getting accepted early. Both the percentage of the class applying early and the percentage of the class getting accepted early were 10 year record highs for Pingry. 19% of the class was recruited for athletics, up from 17% last year.
Yet another record was the number of applications written per student. Students filled out the highest number of applications, averaging out to 12.4, in 10 years.
Seven students have been accepted off the waitlist from Cornell, Duke, F&M, Rice, Villanova, Wellesley, and William & Mary. Three or more students were accepted to 61 different schools and two or more members of the class were admitted to all eight Ivy League universities.
Some notable records in regards to specific colleges include Yale University accepting (6) and enrolling (5), the highest number of Pingry students in the past decade; Williams matching its highest number of Pingry acceptances (6) in the past decade; and Swarthmore admitting the highest number of Pingry students (3) in the past decade. Acceptances were at 5 year highs at schools such as Duke (7) and Washington and Lee (3). Oxford University accepted its first Pingry student since 2011 and Arizona State University, Drexel University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and George Mason University enrolled their first Pingry student in over a decade.
Lear commended the class of 2018 for being “fun and easy to work with. They were proactive with their deadlines and took constructive feedback exceptionally well.” He joked, “they were easier to work with than my own children.”
By Meghan Durkin ’21
On April 13, Pingry’s annual Holocaust Assembly brought to life critical issues of the past and their relevance in society today. Actor Marc Spiegel performed a one-man play entitled Time Capsule in a Milk Can. In 2003, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum produced the play to commemorate the the museum’s tenth year since opening.
The play follows the story of Emanuel Ringelblum, an activist and Jewish man living in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Jewish community’s genocide in Germany. He, along with fellow Jews, recognized the importance of the preservation of their words, accounts, and documents during the systematic killing of millions of Jews.
Throughout the play, Ringelblum sat at his dimly lit desk, collecting and formulating a plan to ensure the safety of the historical documents he gathered during his time in Warsaw. Ultimately, he and his fellow activists decided milk cans were the optimal method of storing and hiding the documents due to their ordinary, unassuming nature. During each phase of the plan, students were asked to read parts of the different documents, making the play a truly interactive experience.
After the performance, students lit 12 candles, representing the six million Jews killed, along with five million others in Europe who fell victim to the violent hatred. Alexandra Weber (IV), one of the students who participated in the assembly, appreciated how the play “was able to find a great balance between making the assembly educational while also making it personal and sentimental.” She believes “it is a humbling reminder of how lucky we are to live in the world that we live in today. Hearing stories of people’s courage, bravery, and perseverance through such a difficult time always inspires me and, I hope, the rest of the Pingry community.”
As the faculty member overseeing the coordination of the Holocaust Assembly, Director of Community Service Mrs. Shelley Hartz chose this play because she wanted an “interactive, more personal and real” way to remind the community what happens “when people hate and people are afraid.” Ultimately, her goal was “to have conversations after and delve into how and why it is relevant today, insuring genocides don’t occur.”
By Brynn Weisholtz ’20
On Thursday, April 19, the annual Prom was held at the Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren for the fourth year in a row. From 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, juniors, seniors, and chaperones alike danced the night away in what was described as a night to remember. Leading up to this eventful evening, the day was filled with hair and nail appointments, confirming limos, picking up corsages and boutonnieres, and pre-party preparations. Despite the chilly weather, students enjoyed their pre-parties with family and friends and eagerly headed to the main event to share a night of special memories with their classmates. The night went off without a hitch and the prom was a memorable evening for all.
As the students arrived at Stone House, they walked through the doors towards the grand ballroom. The venue was decorated with round tables covered with white tablecloths and black napkins. Purple and white floral bouquets and lit candles laid atop each table and suspended from the ceiling were elegant chandeliers casting a glow of light around the room. Purple lights on the walls and dance floor rounded out the mood lighting and created a feeling of warmth and excitement for the upperclassmen.
Throughout the night, the floor was filled with an infectious energy while students danced the night away. Aanya Lall (V) said “the music was great and I loved how everyone was constantly dancing.” There was a consensus amongst the students that the best part of the evening was the lively music and being able to dance and enjoy this special night with their high school friends.
Beyond the dance floor, students found ways to entertain themselves and enjoy each others’ company. From posing for pictures in a photo booth containing endless props to relaxing by the outdoor fire pit, the students enjoyed being together, especially the seniors, as this was one of the final times the class would convene as one until graduation. Catered by Stone House, there was a wide array of food selections to choose from. Senior Kassidy Peterson (VI) stated that “the food was delicious, especially the tacos!” In addition to the taco bar, the food options consisted of a pasta bar, paellas, smoothies, milk and cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, and more.
Chaperones included Upper School Director Ms. Ananya Chatterji, Dean of Students Mr. Jake Ross, Chair of Diversity and Inclusion Department Dr. Diana Artis, Chemistry teacher Mr. Graham Touhey, Physics teachers Mr. Bill Bourne and Ms. Jill Kehoe, and Biology teacher Mrs. Deirdre O’Mara. Mr. Ross stated that “[he] enjoyed seeing the students let loose and have so much fun.”
It was obvious through pictures and shared memories that both students and faculty truly enjoyed Prom 2018. Coordinator Ms. Kehoe summed up the evening when she said “it was a success because of the many smiles I saw and the laughter I heard throughout the night. I loved seeing everyone dressed up and looking like adults.
Student Body President: Andrew Cowen
Class President: Ethan Malzberg
Vice President: Matthew Keller
Class President: Burke Pagano
Vice President: Brian Li
Class President: Nolan Baynes
Vice President: Rohan Pande
By Michael Weber ’18
Wow… it’s over. One whirlwind year as Student Body President and four total years on Student Government, all done as of two weeks ago. The more time I’ve had to reflect on the past year in particular, the more I’ve come to appreciate just how fantastic it was. I’ve made many speeches to various groups, sat in on Board of Trustees meetings, and most importantly, collaborated with students in both the Middle and Upper School. My favorite part about the job was interacting with so many different people in the Pingry community, because it highlighted just how incredible the people in this very community are. Here are just a few examples to demonstrate just how unique Pingry is in being such a close community.
You have to form a relationship with your teachers. You see each other almost everyday for nine months, making it impossible to not have at least some type of relationship (the nature of which I can’t assume). This student-teacher dynamic, at its most fundamental level, is not unique to Pingry, although the strength of it is. What is special about Pingry is just how many teachers you will form lasting relationships with who never actually taught you. We all have at least a handful of adults scattered throughout the school who we never interacted with in an academic, athletic, or art setting with whom we are still friendly. For me, Mr. Burns, Mr. Coe, and Mr. Keating stand out as just three of the many teachers who never actually taught me but still interact with me as if we’ve been in class together for four years. It is easy for teachers to completely ignore students they’ve never had in class, because those students aren’t part of their job description. But at Pingry, teachers usually don’t make anything easy for themselves. They go out of their way to know most of the students, having taught them or not, and be cordial to everyone who they see in the halls. That is a testament to the kind of human beings that comprise our faculty.
Another element of Pingry that I’ve taken great pride in over my thirteen years as a student here is the Honor Code. The Honor Code is written, but its effects are felt far past the borders of the 8×10 piece of paper we sign at the beginning of each year. The Honor Code is why the Middle School can have no locks on lockers. It is why students can forget a laptop in their respective area in the high school and return confidently the next morning knowing it will be exactly where they left it. It is why a teacher can leave the room in the middle of an assessment. These are all things we take for granted because it is so ingrained in us as members of the community, but these things are not normal; they are unique to our community. The presence of the Honor Code is stitched into our moral fabric. I can’t tell you exact sentences or phrases written in its original document, but I can tell you that the thought of cheating on an assessment has never even crossed my mind, thanks to its constant, looming presence. For me, it was not because I was afraid of getting in trouble with the administration if I had violated the Honor Code. It was because I was afraid of violating the almost one hundred years of the Code, as well as the thousands of students before me that abided by that Code that strings generations of Pingry students together.
Most unique about the Pingry School is, of course, the students. At Pingry you have an all-star golf player who is an excellent student and is also on the very successful robotics team (Ami Gianchandani). You have an actor, Politics club president, and a member of the Glee Club (Calvary Dominique). You have a softball player, captain, and student government representative (Maddie Parrish). I could go on with 135 other seniors and their various impressive titles and achievements, and that is great. But what is truly different about Pingry students is their humility and grace. If a stranger walks into the school and begins to interact with the students, that person would never guess just how accomplished each of the students he or she is interacting with are. And the best part is, we are all always hungry for more. Ami, Cal, and Maddie, I’m sure, are happy with the many accomplishments they have accrued in high school, but they are in no way content. The same can be said for every other student in the school, and the success is contagious.
I consider myself extremely lucky to be around such talented, caring, and incredible people over the past thirteen years. Everything starts at home and with the family unit, but the Pingry community has been a close second in the formation of the person I am today.
It has been an honor getting to know all of you, and I look forward to seeing all the great that is done by the class of 2018 and beyond. I don’t know when, how, or under what circumstances, but we will meet again, and I know it will be just as if we never left. God Bless.
By Rachel Chen ’18
If I had a penny for every article or piece of advice I’ve heard about getting into college, I’d be rich enough to actually pay my college tuition.
And what I’ve gleaned from them is this:
- Good grades and test scores are a must, supplemented by
- extracurriculars, leadership, and service, along with
- interpersonal skills, preferably practiced on teachers who you can charm into writing great recommendations.
It’s as if everyone and their dentist agrees that these are the ingredients for an Ivy League pie—serving size: 1, best served without sleep or social life. And to be sure, there is definitely some truth to these prerequisites. But in my opinion, they’re all simply symptoms of what colleges are really looking for: passion. Passion for learning, for meaningful activities, and for connecting with and serving other people.
But the problem is, college prep becomes a kind of fake process. We start believing we need to show colleges a certain persona, even when we’re not that person at all. Colleges want extracurriculars? Sure, I’ll join Extracurricular Club. They like leadership? Let me check if Leadership Club needs help. They expect community service? I heard Community Service Club is running a fundraiser this month.
So in the process of turning passion into little boxes on a checklist, we start to think of college less as a four-year opportunity to learn and grow, and more of a “prize.” It becomes the ultimate measure of our character and careers and something that we can and should “earn.”
But if there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that the system is not fair. It’s not a machine where you input your accomplishments and it spits out a college you “deserve.” Any troll with the time to browse College Confidential will realize that brilliant people—geniuses who post outstanding resumes and flawless scores—get rejected all the time.
So what’s the point of changing your character into someone fake and different when the system is flawed anyway? Why devote your time to things you may not even care about when another troll out there is doing the same things to create the same fake persona to show colleges?
In my opinion, the only way you can really win in this often zero-sum game is to actually be passionate. To find things that you really, truly love, and study and practice those instead. Love hiking? Outing Club is looking for leaders. Enjoy cartoons or astrophysics or video games? Join a club and turn it into something meaningful. In short, be real.
I am lucky enough to say that I have really, truly loved most of what I’ve done at Pingry. This school allowed me to break from my parents’ idea of college prep activities and pursue things I really enjoyed. When I quit piano after years of competition and picked up squash, they didn’t even think squash was a real sport. Squash became a source of confidence; my vegetable sport brought fitness into my life and taught me that I can push myself just as hard as everyone else. Instead of the math and Science Olympiad competitions they thought I needed to participate in, I chose journalism and feminist poetry.
However, there were also things I applied for simply because of their prestige or the pressure I felt to pursue them. One that comes to mind is iRT. Don’t get me wrong, I have grown to love the team and the big picture of our project even when I want to scream from the frustration of constant failure. But sometimes I wonder if I would have applied in the first place if I hadn’t thought that iRT was the most elite institution to join to demonstrate interest in science to colleges. Nevermind that I hated analyzing data and troubleshooting experiments; research felt like a necessity for my college resume which, in retrospect, I had to actively choose to enjoy.
Sidenote: as many classes and clubs Pingry offered me, it gave me tenfold in faculty support. A huge factor in developing my appreciation for science research (alongside other passions) was Dr. Kirkhart. Besides keeping the Ladies of the Lateral Line on track, she discusses books about feminism with me and reminds me that life exists beyond high school. Listen up: your teachers are so much more than a grade-arbiter or a rec letter. They are your friends, and they will ground you in the tumultuous journey of high school.
Making the decision to actively love what I did made me ultimately so much happier. Some of the most rewarding and defining experiences of my life have come out of things that were not planned for “success”; those CP talks with teachers and a casual rant turned Lebow speech are just a few that come to mind. When you choose to actively, earnestly give your all to something you care about, suddenly life is not just about getting into college anymore. It’s meaningful. It’s fun. It’s good.
We worry about how colleges perceive us, but if we are truly what we say we are, then I doubt our characters will get lost in translation. Ultimately, this concept stretches far beyond college admissions—to meeting people, making friends, and forming real relationships—because college is such a short blip in the timeline in your life. Be a real person. Don’t fake love, but feel it—deeply, generously, with an open mind and ready heart. Why go through life trying to create a different image of yourself when you can make the real thing so much better?
By Shruti Sagar ’18
A couple weeks ago, we had our final peer group meeting, and hidden in between a few different side conversations, I heard one of my peer groupies quietly ask how bad junior year really is. I started to talk to him about junior year a bit, and eventually all the side conversations died down and the whole group started to listen. I crave order more than anyone else I know, so I couldn’t just explain junior year without giving them my perspective on the rest of high school. I did just that—I sat down for around twenty minutes and took eight freshmen through my high school experience. I let myself be extremely vulnerable, which is probably why I remember none of what I said, except for what I said about senior year. I told them that above everything else, senior year is the year you realize things.
I think high school is one of the strangest concepts in the world. You enter as a scrawny but bright-eyed fourteen-year-old and you graduate as an adult, and the amount of experiences, opportunities, memories, and failures that happen in between those two milestones are so much more concentrated than those that people have prior to life before their first day of high school. Movies and TV shows paint high school as some sort of a quintessential coming-of-age experience full of drama, locker decorations, football games, and boring classes. The problem with that depiction is that a typical high school experience doesn’t actually exist. These fictional adaptations often forget to include the long nights where you can hardly keep your eyes open, the moments that you think are going to break you, or the unexplainable weight that comes from carrying constant stress. In other words, stereotypes of the high school experience often forget about the hardships because it makes the experience sound less frightening and more enticing, but I have realized that it is out of difficult times that a person grows, and how a person handles hardship says more about their character than any big win, good grade, or prom date ever could.
Pingry can be the worst sometimes. The rigorous environment we create for each other results in so many of these hardships in the first place because so many of us think that we need to be on top in every sense of the word—that we need to create that nonexistent “high school experience” for ourselves. For me, the college process was such a slap in the face because it made me realize how much is out of our control and that “normal” truly does not exist. So many Pingry students, myself included, push ourselves to beyond our maximum because we believe that every failure or success we experience is our responsibility, when in reality, it’s all just a part of life.
I mean it when I say that I’m nothing but grateful I didn’t get into the college I applied to early. Sure, it meant months of waiting, agonizing, and hoping, but more than all that, it made me step back, look at the bigger picture, and recognize that if being deferred from an incredible school was something to cry about, then my life is nothing but a blessing. It made me realize that when all is said and done, when I’m going through the motions of my freshman year of college, I’m not going to remember the statistics of the schools I applied to or the results I got from each, but rather the people who stood by my side—the ones who listened to me for hours and the ones that I listened to for hours. I became close this year with incredible people for several reasons, and a big one was because I didn’t get into college. I learned to check in on others, to put situations into perspective, and most importantly, to recognize that my life isn’t supposed to be a movie. We’re going to mess up, or life is going to mess us up, but it is how we emerge from these situations, and more importantly, how we support our peers and help others stay afloat that speaks to the way we carry ourselves.
Now that I’ve ended a paragraph I started with “Pingry can be the worst,” I think it’s only fair I address how this school has shaped my character and influenced me for the better. In the first few lines of Jack Garratt’s song “Surprise Yourself,” he sings: “Speak and open up your mind/It’s something you should do all the time/Keep exploring, seek and find/You know you might surprise yourself.” I promised myself I would try not to be tacky, but here I am quoting song lyrics, so I think I’ll just keep going with that theme.
Like I said before, I openly think high school is the weirdest concept ever, and I will never understand it. I always tell people that I don’t necessarily think high school is the place I am meant to “thrive,” but at the same time, I’m incredibly grateful for Pingry and all the opportunities and experiences that came with it. I’ll miss it so much because of the little things. I’ll miss the fact that I’ve slept in a tent on Pingry’s campus multiple times, that teachers want to have genuine conversations about things that actually matter and don’t discount your opinion, and that I can walk anywhere in the school at any time and find someone who wants to have a conversation. I’ll miss the field hockey team, peer leadership, and my IRT group—all groups of people brought together by common interests yet bonded together by so much more than just an extracurricular.
I encourage any underclassmen reading this to think about the lyrics I quoted above. The little things that make me love Pingry so much became such big parts of my life, but that wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t learn to approach conversations with an open mind, get to know as many people as I can, and most importantly, listen to what other people have to say. I’ve realized that by doing so, I have, in fact, surprised myself—and I know this because, again, senior year is the year you realize things.
By Megan Pan ’18
Since perhaps as early as the beginning of the year, I have been thinking about what to write for my last editorial. There are so many things I would want to say about my time here at Pingry that it became impossible to choose one aspect that could fathomably capture it all. Ultimately, I decided to simply share the following excerpts from an exchange between myself and Mr. Keating—not necessarily to showcase its content, per se (though it still might prove applicable nonetheless), but more so because I believe it highlights the most essential and valuable aspect of the Pingry experience: the meaningful relationships developed between students and teachers.
from my final journal for Mr. Keating’s freedom class, dated May 2, 2018:
“Going into college, I can’t help but feel a sort of dread of what’s to come. It’s like I’ve jumped out of one high-pressure cooker to land into another, and I honestly don’t know if I’m mentally fit to last. Somehow, this kismet of mine feels both like a blessing and a curse—a curse in the sense that I feel like I’ve ushered myself down a path that is only going to make it harder and harder for me to come to terms with myself and be happy. As long as I walk down this path, it is going to be a matter of another challenge to surmount, another person to compete against, all of it a desperate and lonely claw to the top in search of the elusive validation of academic success. Is that what my whole life is going to be, my fate and my happiness never within my own reach?
… When I first read over the final journal prompt, my initial reaction was, ‘Of course, I can find equilibrium and contentment. Of course, I can succeed where Chris McCandless failed and be satisfied with the outcome of my life.’ But now that I’ve reflected on it a bit, I realize that I’m not so sure. Over the course of the past thirteen years, I’ve given so much of myself to a system that now it’s hard to delineate where the influence of the system ends and my genuine self begins. I can’t help but wonder if all I’ll ever think of myself and my life as is a list of accomplishments that can never reach a length I’ll be satisfied with. How can I be happy like that?
Going forward, I think I have some real work to do when it comes to analyzing what I enjoy doing and what makes me truly happy. I think the first step I plan on taking is removing the emphasis I’ve placed on school for the past how-many-years of my life. During the summer transitioning between high school and college, I hope to be able to explore many of the things that I’d like to try that I haven’t had the chance to fully enjoy in-depth before.
… But before then and even after the summer passes, I hope to be able to focus more on the people in my life and who will come into my life in the future. I really do think it’s true that ‘happiness [is] only real when shared,’ and by putting more effort into the relationships I have with the people around me, I think it’ll help to take a load off the exhausting and lonely burden of existing. I never asked to be born into this world, but at the end of the day, neither did anybody else, and we’re all here to make the best of it. And I’m sure, wherever happiness decides to fly on elusive wings, we’ll be better able to find it together than alone.”
from Mr. Keating’s response to my final freedom journal, dated May 12, 2018:
“You’re right: we do not ask for the life we are born into (Sophocles actually said that the greatest boon may be never to have been born at all), but we are given the chance to make the most of it we can, and that possibility, a blank page or canvas, a bare stage, a college acceptance, draws from us the resolve to muster all we can from who we are, and I simply cannot imagine that your chance will end in self-defeat and disappointment.
I have read and heard countless stories of people who struggled through adolescence only to find themselves as adults. Oscar Wilde called his formative years ‘vaguely detestable’ and he became a celebrated playwright, novelist, and aesthete. Come to think of it, that’s a terrible example because Wilde ended up disgraced and imprisoned, but I think you know what I mean. I grew up with plenty of encouragement from my folks, but when I told them I wanted to be a high school English teacher, they told me I should teach at the college level; I was settling for less, they said, and not tapping my full potential. This criticism went on for years, even as I became a good teacher and got recognized for it by just about everyone except my parents. But they did come around eventually, and when I won a yearbook dedication in 1994, they threw me a big party. And when my mom died three years later, the very last thing she said to me was how proud she was that I had become a teacher. That was sixteen years after I began my career, which is a long time, but it meant the world to me, and I am still inspired by it to be the best teacher I can be.
It may take a while, Megan, but you will find yourself and gain your freedom. And it is my sincere hope that in ten years, or sooner, you will return, a simultaneous translator, a banker, a veterinarian, or whatever, and share your good fortune with your old (as in former) teacher. Nothing would please me more.”
With this final sendoff, I would like to thank you all for having known me and supported me throughout the past four years. Undoubtedly, it was the people that came into my life that made my time at Pingry worth it, and the experiences I’ve had at this school, particularly the people in it, are not ones that I would trade for any other. I wish you all the greatest happiness in your lives, and it is my hope that our paths will one day cross again.