By Praesana Danner ’19
On September 4th, the class of 2019 began their first unofficial day of school at the Pocono Valley Resort in Reeders, Pennsylvania. The seniors were able to kick off their final year of Pingry by bonding, relaxing, and beginning the college application process on their overnight Senior Retreat.
The seniors arrived by noon after an hour-and-a-half drive; they were then set free to enjoy all of the activities the camp had to offer, including zip-lining, rock climbing, volleyball, and playing on obstacle courses and inflatables. Some even took a dip in the pool! A favorite amongst the seniors was the zipline – “I went on the zipline twice. The first time I was pretty scared, and then the second time I was a pro,” said Nicole Toney (VI).
After dinner, everyone ran back to their cabins to get their costumes ready for the royalty-themed dance (inspired by the Class of 2019’s slogan “RE19N”). Tutus and glitter were everywhere as students dressed up as Disney princesses, the kings and queens on playing cards, and many other variations of the dance theme.
After the dance, the whole grade met around the campfire to make s’mores before going to bed. “It was a ton of fun hanging out with people who I had known for 4 years, as our time together is coming to an end; they feel like family for me,” said Nabeel Jan (VI).
The next morning, students were divided into three groups and shuffled between various college workshops led by college counselors Mrs. Amy Cooperman, Mrs. Meghan Finegan, Mrs. Susan Kinney, and Mr. Timothy Lear. One workshop dealt with working on college essays and crafting the perfect first line and another involved a Q&A about the truths of the college process. The third workshop dealt with leadership roles and our privileges as both students and leaders of the Pingry community, which was led by heads of diversity Ms. Alexa Lopez and Mrs. Eva Ostrowsky.
After these workshops, the seniors had one last meal before heading home, ready to ease into their first official day of school. Overall, the experience “was such a fun way to start off the year! We got to reunite with friends and relax together. It was great to get our minds off the college process,” said Ethan Malzberg (VI).
By Armani Davidson ’19
With application deadlines on the horizon, stress mounting, and college less than a year away, seniors are looking for guidance anywhere. I believe some answers for the overworked grade may be hiding in an unexpected source: here are ten reasons why the Class of 2019 should read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss in preparation for college.
- Above everything, the book is short. College is going to be full of lengthy books, but you can finish The Cat in the Hat in 10 minutes.
- The book opens with two children looking out of a window after their mother leaves; suddenly the Cat enters their house. On a metaphoric level, this is how college will be: your parents will leave and strangers will enter your life.
- The Cat asks the children to play a game with him and breaks their toys. The Cat has no remorse for his actions and ignores the children’s feelings. There will always be people that will put themselves before you and break things, whether they be physical or ideological, that you value.
- The children “did not know what to say” to the Cat because their mother was not home. When the Cat first enters the house, the Fish tells him to leave. The Fish serves as the children’s conscious; every time he speaks he references their mother’s absence. Without your parents giving you guidance or rules, you have to be able to trust your own intuition. When something does not feel right, you need to listen to your conscious, or else someone, like the Cat, will take advantage of you.
- The Cat distracts the children from the mess he created by bringing Thing 1 and Thing 2. Things 1 and 2 continue to destroy the house and ignore the children begging them to stop. Although distractions are fun at first, they can lead to destruction.
- The Fish continues to tell the Cat to leave, as the children say nothing, but the Cat ignores him because he “likes it here.” The Cat, selfishly, focuses on himself and puts his own feelings before the children’s. If someone thrives at your expense, then they’re not a true friend.
- The children speak for the first time after Thing 1 and Thing 2 use their mother’s dress as a kite. The children finally yell at the Cat and tell him to leave, which successfully causes him to clean up his mess. You have to speak up for yourself to get what you want.
- The children eventually catch Thing 1 and Thing 2 in a net and forcibly remove them from their house when they see their mother approaching the house. The children take action because they are afraid of what their mother will say. Unlike this situation, you are alone at college. You can’t wait for your parents to come to clean up your mess; you have to know your own limits.
- In the end, the mother asks the children, “What did you do?” The reader is left with a question: what would you say if this was your mother? When you come home from college, will you tell your parents everything you did?
By Natalie DeVito ’22
On the morning of August 29th, a large party of anxious freshmen and eager seniors departed from Pingry. They crowded into four buses and enjoyed a long drive across state lines, bound for the Bryn Mawr Mountain Retreat and Conference Center in Pennsylvania. Here, the freshmen would take on challenges meant to help them connect as a class.
When the freshmen emerged from the buses at Bryn Mawr, the stifling late August heat was obvious, and they realized within minutes that none of them were dressed properly for the weather! Despite this, the students pushed forward and unpacked at their cabins, ready for the first set of challenges. Working in groups consisting of two senior leaders and eight freshmen, the students collaborated to construct chariots capable of holding a freshman. Each group also decorated a banner that reflected their peer group pride!
The next obstacle peer groups faced was a stretch of woods dubbed ‘The Gauntlet,’ a trail with an array of challenges that tested their logic, strategic skills, and stamina. Everyone spread out around the course and raced to finish with the lowest time. Although we were not the fastest team by far, my peer group had a blast; we were all cracking jokes together, even though many of the students had just met. The stress of competition helped us break down barriers and trust each other more.
The biggest surprise of the trip was the impromptu dance held in the dining hall that night where the freshmen all found the energy to get on the dance floor and have fun. Adding to the surprise, the seniors, in costume, ran onto the floor when the freshmen least expected it and started dancing. Sarah Kloss (III) says, “The seniors really brightened up the dance and added excitement.” Another student enjoyed “kicking off the school year with a really happy and entertaining festival.” Others, including Evan Berger (III), were happy to share some quiet time outside the dance, but everyone found a way to enjoy the late-night festivities.
The next morning, everyone woke up early and tested their constructions from the day before, including chariots made from PVC pipe and blankets. As the “lucky” freshman who was forced into my peer group’s chariot, the chariot race was an event that I certainly won’t forget!
All too soon, it was time to depart Bryn Mawr, but not before reflecting on the trip together as we sat on the grass. My classmates came forward with their favorite moments – Samuel Henriques (III) recognized every experience in the trip as valuable, “even at night, when we suffered together in cabins with no air conditioning.” Ram Doraswamy (III) took the opportunity to get to know new members of the grade (and of course, play Heads Up) during the long bus ride. Zoe Wang (III) says, “I got to see what the Pingry community is like outside of school. As a new student, it opened up my eyes.” The freshmen class relished the chance to connect with their peers, let loose, and prepare themselves for the year ahead!
By Lauren Drzala ’21
July 23, 2018 will be a day I will always remember. After finishing my lunch for the day, I began to feel sharp pains in my stomach and immediately thought – “this is very unusual for me.” Hours passed and the pain just kept getting worse. I was becoming desperate and anxiety crept in, so naturally, I turned to Google for some reliable advice on a homemade remedy. Long story short, the apple cider vinegar nor the lemon juice with ginger did my stomach any justice. I decided to call a friend, willing to try anything. She said that her mom usually gave her warm milk with turmeric. Immediately, I was a bit hesitant because I had no idea what turmeric would taste like. Looking back on it, I should have listened to my first instinct while I was chugging down a glass of that concoction. When I thought all hope was lost, I swallowed my pride and went to the people that I should have gone to in the very beginning: my parents. My dad gave me two Motrin and told me to wait. Nothing happened. My mom didn’t even believe that there was anything wrong with me, thinking I made the pain up. As I was counting down the hours to the never-ending day, my sister Emma approached my room, thinking she could give me some insight. “Hey Lauren, where is the pain, because it might be appendicitis.” I angrily responded, “Go away, Emma. It’s not appendicitis. It isn’t that bad.” Something actually being wrong with me was the last thing on my mind. In the end, I decided the best thing to do was to go to sleep and wait for the pain to subside.
At 2 a.m., I woke up to what felt like someone stabbing me in the stomach. Immediately, I went to my parents, knowing that there something was terribly wrong. My dad, as any physician would do, asked me to describe the pain and its location. I pointed to my lower left abdomen. My mom suggested appendicitis, remarking that she had had it around my age. Once she said this, I was reminded of Emma’s earlier comment. I could just hear her saying that she was right over and over again in my head. We soon rushed to the hospital and waited until I was admitted to a room. The pain was in full force, as if there was a war going on in my stomach. Finally, the drugs that the nurse gave me kicked in. I was starting to feel a little better, and thought that this was all a mistake and that there was nothing wrong with me. After many hours of testing, nothing showed up – that is, until they tried a CAT scan.
Once the scan was complete, the nurse came back and said that it was, in fact, appendicitis. Sighing in dismay, I decided to accept my fate and prepared for the surgery. I was not on the list of surgeries that day so I did not know when I could get this little monster out of me. So, I decided to get comfortable and watch TV for the remainder of the time. I mainly enjoyed HGTV, talking to my mom about how the couples chose the wrong house. I do not think that she was as invested as I was, after seeing the concern on her face. Finally, the doctors came in and wheeled me into the operating room.
The doctors began to give me anesthesia. In about 10 seconds, I was out like a light. I woke up being wheeled back to my room and being set on my bed. “It’s over,” I thought. Wrong. The remainder of the night consisted of doctors coming in and out of my room every single hour, checking my heart beat and asking me how I was feeling. I can certainly say that that was the worst sleep I have ever had. The following morning the doctors finally said I could go home and told me that I couldn’t do any physical activity for a while. The next few weeks consisted of me lounging around, hunching down on my stomach so it wouldn’t hurt, and watching movie after movie, including the whole Harry Potter series. I think that we can all agree that Dolores Umbridge, the “Lady in Pink,” was a far worse threat to Harry Potter than Voldemort. Fast forward to August, and I was finally starting to feel like myself again. I wish that I could say that, at the end, I learned more about myself or that I am a changed person, but I am not. I am still the same Lauren, just minus an appendix.
By Meghan Durkin ’21
Over the summer, groups of Pingry students traveled to Peru, Belize, Croatia, Bosnia, and Germany to learn about and explore these countries’ cultures outside of the classroom. Whether by meeting locals, visiting cultural sites, or exploring the sea, these travelers immersed themselves in their research. This year, for the first time, students received academic credit for their learning abroad.
Students in Belize spent most of their time exploring coral reefs in order to research how changing environmental factors have affected the reefs and the aquatic life that surrounds them. Between snorkeling and collecting data, the group worked to compile their research for a final project.
In Germany, another group traveled to discover the differences between how Germany handles immigration and the Syrian refugee crisis compared to the United States. Students immersed themselves in German culture during homestays, visited Berlin, and spent time at a local German school. Zara Jacob (IV), reflecting on her experience throughout her time in Germany, explained that she learned, “America is not the center of the world.”
In Peru, students investigated the work of nonprofit organizations and their missions of sustainability while visiting Lima, Uratari, and Machu Picchu. Working with the Denan Project, a nonprofit that assists isolated communities in countries like Peru, Ethiopia, and Mongolia, students examined these organizations while enjoying a parade in their honor, an invitation to the Peruvian Congress, and homestays.
While in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, another group of students talked with locals and explored cities to learn more about nationalism and national identity in the Balkans. Within the Croatian cities of Zagreb and Dubrovnik and Bosnian cities of Sarajevo and Mostar, they investigated the impact of the countries’ history on their state today.
Mr. Jewett, the Director of Global Education, led the cause in allowing academic credit to be given to the trip-goers in order to “increase the curricular connection between off-campus programs and on-campus ones.” He wishes to offer students “a good chance to reflect on something they learned.” Along with the academic goal of each individual trip, Mr. Jewett strongly emphasized the critical life skills that develop while students are abroad. In addition to independence, travelers “build empathy, recognizing that other people in the world have perspectives about the world that are different than yours”.
By Kristine Fu ’19
Despite this season’s dreary weather, fall fashion is as colorful and vibrant as ever. This season, pastel-colored corduroy skirts, shearling sweaters, and studded ankle boots are in vogue, while floral sundresses and denim shorts have become a distant summer memory. In women’s fashion, Brandy Melville persists as the most popular clothing brand, as students opt for flowy Tilden pants and comfortable striped tops. Zara’s stylish skirts and dresses are also seen frequently in the halls. In men’s fashion, Vineyard Vines shirts, Patagonia sweaters, and Sperry Top-Siders remain wardrobe staples.
One easy way to spice up your look is with a statement piece. A pair of tassel earrings or chunky bracelets from Francesca’s can complete almost any basic outfit. At Zara, you can find striking and creative shoe styles, such as snake-print ankle boots, tweed ballet flats, and platform sneakers.
As an eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion, thrift shopping has been making a comeback! Especially because 90’s fashion is now à la mode, shop at your local thrift store for all the latest trends: mom jeans, Tommy Hilfiger polos, and velvet tops. Don a pair of matrix-style or cat-eye sunglasses from the 90’s for a retro look, rather than a cliché and overpriced pair of Kurt Cobain clout sunglasses from Urban Outfitters. For true haute-couture lovers, many thrift stores sell designer clothing for less. I love to visit The Realreal in SoHo, New York and try on vintage Valentino dresses and Yves Saint Laurent leather jackets. Thrift stores are museums of past trends. So, keep an open mind and take your time exploring all the quirky and unique pieces.
Nia Phillips describes her look in the photo to the right: “My jacket is actually from my mom’s closet and I distressed the pocket. My pants are from a thrift store in Bound Brook. My shoes are from Nordstrom Rack, and my shirt is from GAP.” For first-time thrift shoppers, Nia recommends shopping at major cities where you can find a variety of styles.
As John Galliano famously declared, “the joy of dressing is an art.” Whether your style is inspired by the gorgeous autumn palette or by chic looks from 90’s, stay bold and creative!
By Vicky Gu ’20
On October 11, an array of guest speakers increased awareness about the realities of being LGBTQ+ by sharing their coming out stories for National Coming Out Day at Pingry. The event also included time for students and faculty to volunteer to share their past and present stories. Although the nature of the speeches and discussions was serious, there were plenty of lighthearted moments. Overall, the event was not only informative, but fun and enjoyable as well.
In addition to shared stories, the event, held in the multi-arts room, also included food and rainbow-colored desserts like cake, cookies, and cupcakes. Fun music helped to enliven the atmosphere as well. Instead of only receiving a lecture about the difficulties of being LGBTQ+, the audience received first-hand accounts of its realities. These realities were sometimes about very sensitive and difficult times, such as when a speaker was realizing for the first time that they were gay. As one student said, “the hardest part for me was coming out to myself.” However, the accounts were sometimes cheerful as well, such as when a speaker came out to their family, and they accepted them wholeheartedly. “A lot of times, we hear about only the bad side” about being LGBTQ+, says Ethan Malzberg (VI), who leads the Gay-Straight Alliance along with Veronica Williams (VI) at Pingry. “A lot of times, there are good, happy parts as well.”
This year, National Coming Out Day at Pingry emphasized this more positive aspect of being and learning about being LGBTQ+, and the atmosphere was thus extremely conducive to both learning and sharing personal experiences. “It’s a time of both learning and fun,” Ethan says. The leaders of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Pingry wanted it to be an “overall happy event”, and they were more than successful with that.
The leaders of the Gay-Straight Alliance hope that people who aren’t a part of the LGBTQ+ community will be able to be able to better sympathize with those who share their stories. To those who are LGBTQ+, they hope that the event will help remind them that they are not alone. To everyone not out of the closet yet, no matter their situation, the leaders hope they will be inspired by others who have shared their stories to someday come out when it feels appropriate for them.
The event also made clear that the LGBTQ+ affinity group is not limited to those who have come out but also welcomes those who are questioning their identities. The overarching goals of Pingry’s Gay-Straight Alliance are essentially to identify and increase the visibility of issues concerning those within the LGBTQ+ community inside and outside of Pingry. As Annaya Baynes summarized, “you just have to be who you are,” and National Coming Out Day tries to help address that struggle each year.
By Vicky Gu ’20
This fall, Dr. Ryan Johnson joins the Upper School’s Spanish Department, teaching Spanish 6 Honors and Spanish 3.
Most recently, Dr. Johnson lived in South Carolina, teaching at Hilton Head Preparatory School for two years. Before that, he taught undergraduates for five years at the University of Virginia while working on his doctorate.
Dr. Johnson first heard about Pingry from his wife, Dr. Johnson. While talking to friends who lived in New Jersey, he learned about Pingry and its “amazing reputation.” Originally from Pennsylvania, Dr. Johnson also decided that it would be nice to live near his family.
Regarding the origins of his passion for teaching Spanish, Dr. Johnson says that he first started taking Spanish in middle school and continued studying it through high school. At the time, he realized he loved learning the language and culture, and knew he wanted to keep studying Spanish in college, even if it wasn’t his major. The more Spanish classes he took, though, the more he wanted to continue learning not only the Spanish language, but the history and culture of Spanish-speaking countries.
After graduating, Dr. Johnson worked in Santiago, Chile teaching English and living with a host family for a year. He then further fulfilled his love for learning Spanish by studying Spanish Literature in graduate school. While in college, Dr. Johnson was inspired by his professors and recognized that he wanted to teach as well. He had tutored in high school and college and found that his naturally patient character suited his role as a teacher.
Though this will be his first year teaching high school students, Dr. Johnson is encouraged by the atmosphere of the Upper School at Pingry. “Students are becoming more independent and, at least at Pingry, are very self motivated and intellectually curious. I really respond to that,” he says. He finds it rewarding to “help kids on this path to developing critical thinking and an appreciation for Spanish literature and language.”
In terms of his goals for this year, Dr. Johnson hopes to make the material he teaches as engaging as possible to create enthusiasm among his students. Because Spanish 3 and 6 Honors are also new classes for him, he will strive to get a sense of the curriculum by finding what the previous level has learned and the next level’s expectations. Essentially, Dr. Johnson hopes to effectively transition students to their next level of Spanish learning.
In his free time, Dr. Johnson loves to read, run, and hike. He generally likes to be outside, and really appreciates the vast number of hiking trails that can be found throughout New Jersey, especially near Basking Ridge.
By Vicky Gu ’20
This year, Ms. Sara Hall joins the Middle School as a new teacher in the Spanish Department. She will teach Spanish levels 1A and 2.
Before coming to Pingry, Ms. Hall taught Spanish for 9 years in Illinois and Connecticut, mostly in urban public schools. She has also taught at various charter and magnet schools. Most recently, she taught Spanish at Southern Connecticut State University for two years. Ms. Hall has taught to a wide range of age groups, from kindergarten to college students. Except for one year in which she taught English Language Arts, Ms. Hall has always taught Spanish throughout her career.
Conversations with Assistant Headmaster Delvin Dinkins and World Languages Department Chair Steve Benoit first sparked Ms. Hall’s interest in working at Pingry. She found through speaking with them that Pingry matched her educational philosophy in important aspects that her last school didn’t share, such as Pingry’s goal to develop the “whole child” instead of just their academic side. She appreciates that Pingry recognizes this and teaches both character and social development to its students in addition to its curriculum.
The emphasis on diversity at Pingry further resonated with Ms. Hall. “I absolutely love the focus on diversity and inclusion,” she said. As someone in an interracial relationship with multiracial children, “it means everything to me.” Her favorite part of the rigorous interview process was talking to Dr. Artis and the Diversity and Inclusion Department, because they know “there are unconscious biases that we need to overcome. Lots of adults don’t know that they have those biases or are uncomfortable with addressing them.” She agrees that the school needs to make sure that everyone has these important conversations.
As a teaching assistant for sophomores in an English class in her senior year of high school, Ms. Hall first found her love for teaching and sparking interest in students. “It felt so natural – I knew at that moment it was for me. . . . There’s this lightbulb. Sometimes the light’s already been lit, and sometimes the light ignites later on. But being part of igniting that light is the reason,” Ms. Hall said.
Though she only started learning Spanish during her sophomore year of high school, Ms. Hall hopes to convey to her students that anyone can become good at Spanish. “My father’s from Indonesia but never taught me his language,” she said. Ms. Hall has one Mexican cousin, but she does not speak Spanish natively. She hopes to show that she is “living proof that you can come from a different language background” and still be able to love and become fluent at a language.
One of Ms. Hall’s goals this year is to focus on utilizing the Spanish language as much as possible. She realizes that some are hesitant to use the language because they’re afraid that they won’t use it correctly. Ms. Hall hopes to eliminate this barrier between different levels of proficiencies among her students. “Conference Period is a huge factor in this challenge,” she says, as it allows students to see her for extra help. Ms. Hall hopes that she will be able to teach students to be proactive about coming to see her for extra help to identify their weaknesses.
By Felicia Ho ’19
Madame Anne Changeux joins the Middle and Upper School foreign language department to teach French 1, 2, and 4 Honors in the Upper School and French 2 in the Middle School. She is also the French coordinator for the French-American global programs.
Madame Changeux has twenty-two years of experience in teaching French. She started by teaching the “language of love” to adult foreigners in France. Most recently, she taught nine years at The Peck School and nine years at Millburn High School. Her love for French has expanded beyond teaching her students basic grammar and vocabulary in a classroom. At The Peck School, she established the Lower School’s French curriculum, and at Millburn High School, Madame Changeux was the advisor for the French magazine and a chaperone for the French exchange program.
Born and raised in France, Madame Changeux naturally fell in love with her native language. Not only has she always been interested in French, but she has also wanted to become a teacher for as long as she can remember. Pursuing these two passions, Madame Changeux graduated from the University of Nanterre near Paris, France, with a Master’s in French Literature with distinction and a Master’s in Teaching of French as a Foreign Language. The University of Nanterre, or simply known as Nanterre, has a distinguished list of alumni, boasting Emmanuel Macron, the current President of France, and Nicolas Sarkozy, a former president of France.
After moving to the United States twenty years ago, Madame Changeux has enjoyed teaching French to high school students of all levels, from beginner to advanced. After teaching at The Peck School, she began to truly value the close relationships she has the opportunity to build with students in a small class size environment. This aspect is a uniquely private school experience, offering a lower teacher-to-student ratio compared to most public schools. Now at Pingry, another private institution, she is excited to embrace these connections again as she is able to spend more time with individual students helping them with everything from their French homework to how to prepare for a study abroad program in France.
In addition to teaching French, Madame Changeux loves to read French and English books every night. An avid dancer, she takes both jazz and flamenco classes every week. Looking to the year ahead, she is “very excited to join the Pingry team!”
By Felicia Ho ’19
Looking for a quick bite after a long morning of running errands at Costco on Route 10 in East Hanover? Instead of reaching for a mountain of greasy fries from Five Guys, take a minute to walk just a bit further and stop by So Gong Dong (S.G.D.) Dubu Tofu and BBQ.
Once inside, you will be greeted by a simply decorated yet spacious room lined with traditional Korean brushstroke characters on all sides. At your seat, take a peek at the paper table mat to learn more about soondubu, S.G.D.’s prized tofu stew dish, and how it can reduce cancer risk—who knew you could learn so much at a restaurant?
The menu is very easy to follow as it is split into four primary components: soondubu, the tofu stew; bibimbap, a mixture of rice, kimchi, and meat or vegetables; Korean BBQ, a bowl of pork, beef, or chicken; and dishes to share. S.G.D. also gives you the power to choose how spicy your dishes will be to fit your preferences.
For those of you who are just venturing into the world of Korean cuisine, I highly recommend the vegetable bibimbap on a hot stone plate. The rice, egg, squash, mushrooms, bean curds, and kimchi will come out a little toasted on the bottom of the plate, adding a surprisingly pleasant crunch. Do not panic when your bibimbap arrives unmixed! Your job is to mix it all together and add as much gochujang, or Korean hot sauce, as you would like. Then, dig in – even if the dish may be as simple as putting white rice together with cooked vegetables, all the flavors will erupt in your mouth and truly warm you up.
The seafood pancake is a great choice to share with others. Similar to the spring onion pancake in Chinese cuisine, it is a fried pancake bursting with squid, chives, shrimp, and more. Brave the thin shimmer of oil and take a bite—you will not regret it!
Although you cannot grill your own pork, chicken, or beef at S.G.D., the Korean BBQ that is grilled in the kitchen and served in a steaming plate is fantastic. The meat is tender and chewy, melting in your mouth as you let out that sigh of happiness. Be sure to check out the onions tossed in to the plate as they have also been infused with that unique Korean spice and are super crispy.
In addition to the main plates, banchan, little cold Korean side dishes, will also be served with an egg drop soup. Banchan options range from sweet bean curds to cucumbers covered with gochujang. Even if you do not like spicy food, give the kimchi banchan a shot. Rather than numbing your mouth with an overpowering kick, the kimchi, combined with a dash of vinegar, gives more of a gentle nudge.
All items on the menu range in price from around 10 to 20 dollars, making S.G.D. an affordable place for lunch from newcomers to those who eat Korean food every day of their lives. As there are few Korean restaurants outside of Edison, Fort Lee, and K-Town in New York City, S.G.D. in East Hanover has always been a wonderful place for me to indulge in spicy kimchi without suffering in traffic. As the temperatures drop and the wind picks up, save that hot chocolate packet for later and instead look for the S.G.D. sign (indeed, it has several locations nationwide) to warm yourself up with a fresh and spicy bowl of bibimbap or tofu stew.
By Felicia Ho ’19
This fall, Mr. David Rushforth joins the Pingry community to teach the Financial Literacy curriculum. Outside of the classroom, he coaches the Upper School Boys’ third Soccer team and the Middle School Girls’ Tennis teams. He also advises the Credit Union Team, the Entrepreneurship Club, and the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Previously, Mr. Rushforth worked as a financial analyst in Fixed Income Asset Management for fifteen years, mostly at Prudential. During his time there, he was also able to spend time on the Money Market, Global/FX, Municipal Bond, and Mortgage trading desks. Most recently, he spent two years teaching as a substitute in the Bernards Township School District.
Mr. Rushforth first became interested in finance after watching how his parents reacted to and handled their family economics during the “Black Friday” stock market crash of 1989. In college, even though he was a declared History major, he found that he was enjoying many of the economics and business classes that he had originally chosen to take just for fun. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a B.A. in History, but later pursued business by graduating with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Rutgers Business School. After his then to-be wife moved to New Jersey, “everything fell into place with a job in finance.”
After spending several years in Prudential, Mr. Rushforth began to realize his love for teaching—a love that he had since his high school years. In fact, when he was asked to help in developing and implementing a training program for new associates at Prudential, he became one of the main mentors. It was in this experience that the “teaching ‘fire’ was re-started in earnest.” Soon after, he began to seriously consider and reflect on his dreams of becoming a teacher.
In his transition to teaching, Mr. Rushforth attended Bergen Community College and completed the New Pathways to Teaching program. Afterwards, he began to substitute for teachers in the Bernards Township School District.
At Pingry, he loves to see students take initiative in making their own learning experiences as innovating and interesting as possible. He appreciates how Pingry encourages its students to go beyond the classroom to grow into exceptional leaders and citizens of the world. In reflecting upon his first few weeks at Pingry, he described it as a “whirlwind, but from the first time I walked through the front doors for an interview back in late August, I felt right at home.”
Outside of Pingry, he is a member of the Oak Street School Parents Leadership Committee, helping to develop and implement programs for students and parents that emphasize the value of leadership, and a chair of the school’s Roald Dahl Day. He loves cooking and being outdoors, whether through fishing, hiking, or biking. He is also a USA Swimming official at the Berkeley Aquatic Club, where his daughter swims. Having been raised in Plymouth, Massachusetts where he worked as a pilgrim at the Plantation as a kid, he is an avid New England sports fan.
Mr. Rushforth is excited to be joining the Pingry community, and would like to share his favorite question with students: What would you do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?.
By Zara Jacob ’21
The class of 2021 eased into their sophomore year with a trip to New York City, exploring exhibits in the Museum of Natural History and and seeing the Tony Award-winning “Best Musical,” Dear Evan Hansen.
With not a single textbook or laptop in hand, the grade split up onto four buses and headed on a 90-minute ride to the city. After reaching the museum, they were divided by advisories, perusing the various exhibits at the museum. Unlike previous years, when a scavenger hunt was assigned, the students had the freedom to pick which exhibits they wanted to visit with their advisories. Many of the students appreciated this change; Meghan Durkin (IV) explained, “I enjoyed the museum more than I anticipated because I got to see exhibits that I thought were interesting, as opposed to a plan created by our advisors.” From fossils to dioramas filled with cavemen, the first segment of the trip maintained a good balance of fun and education.
After eating lunch in the museum, the students made their way back to the buses and headed to the theater. Despite a slight accidental detour, all 150 sophomores eventually made it to the correct theater, where they watched the 2 o’clock showing of Dear Evan Hansen. As the students crowded up the stairs, many stopped for snacks, waiting anxiously for the musical to begin.
Dear Evan Hansen tackles themes of bullying, loneliness, and suicide — daunting topics that many teenagers face today. Sanjana Biswas (IV) said, “The musical was relevant to the modern times we live in, and the portrayal of social media and its platform was very accurate.”
The musical begins with showing two teenage boys who struggle with depression and anxiety. Evan, the protagonist of the musical, desperately seeks to step out of the shadows and be noticed. We see Evan’s yearning for true care and appreciation through the passionate performance of his song, “Waving Through a Window.” His mother, juggling school and work, struggles to be there for Evan, and his therapist suggests he write letters to himself to help his self-confidence (hence the name Dear Evan Hansen). The other teenage boy, Connor Murphy, is briefly introduced to the audience before committing suicide.
Through a series of unfortunate events, one of Evan’s letters to himself, which discusses his troubling thoughts and anxieties, is with Connor on the day he commits suicide, and is misconstrued as Connor’s last words being addressed to Evan. Stuck in an impossible situation, Evan hopes for everything to blow over, but ends up meeting with Connor’s family almost every day and pretends to have known Connor as a best friend. All of Evan’s dreams begin to come true – he lands the girl of his dreams, feels the warmth of a loving, present family, and becomes famous on social media. To know how Evan fares throughout the rest of the musical, you will have to go and see it. From the actors to the captivating music, it is no wonder that Dear Evan Hansen has won so many awards.
After the show, the sophomores headed back to Pingry, their first day of school having come to an end.
By Anjali Kapoor ’20
I’ve always wanted to follow in my uncle’s footsteps and become a doctor. My uncle is an orthopedic surgeon with his own hospital in India and I was always mesmerized by the dozens of patients and doctors swarming the halls. While I knew that I liked and excelled in biology, and it’s always been my childhood dream to study medicine, I didn’t exactly know what being a doctor entailed. This summer, I set out to learn more about the field – I was going to conduct hands-on research and shadow doctors.
For the first half of the summer, I worked in Dr. Pandey’s lab at Rutgers University researching Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and is spread through contaminated blood. It is the leading cause for hepatocellular carcinoma, a common form of liver cancer. While vaccines exist for the related diseases Hepatitis A and B, there is no existing vaccine for Hepatitis C. In particular, Dr. Pandey’s lab was looking at the Fuse Binding Protein 1 (FBP1) and its interaction with the p53 tumor suppressor gene, an important gene that regulates the cell cycle. In previous research, Dr. Pandey found that the FBP1 inhibits the p53 gene by binding to some part of its DNA sequence and, when p53 is inhibited, the likelihood that a cancerous tumor forms increases. Based on that research, we were trying to determine the exact portion of the DNA sequence of the p53 gene that FBP1 binds to. Dr. Pandey’s plan to solve this consisted of cutting the DNA sequence into many different pieces and testing each piece to see if it would bind to FBP1, slowly narrowing the DNA sequence to find the exact base pairs that were binding to FBP1. My role in this project was preparing and testing one of these pieces of DNA to see if it would bind to FBP1. This involved cell cultures, transformations, restriction digests, and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. While I was not able to see the project through to completion, his doctoral candidates will continue the project and Dr. Pandey hopes to publish a paper on this research by November.
For the second half of the summer, I shadowed three different types of doctors: a general/vascular surgeon, a dermatologist, and a plastic surgeon. It was really interesting to learn about the three different careers, and from the doctor’s perspective rather than the patient’s. When I shadowed the general/vascular surgeon, I saw generally older patients with varicose veins, hernias, and gallstones. I learned about vein stripping procedures, angioplasties, and colonoscopies – it’s amazing how so many of these procedures can be done robotically! Next, I shadowed a dermatologist for a few days and saw people of all ages with dozens of skin issues ranging from common acne to severe skin cancers. I also was able to watch multiple skin cancer surgeries (I definitely learned the importance of sunscreen!) and got to cut my first stitch. He also showed me cosmetic procedures such as how to inject botox and fillers, along with how a new machine trims fat. Lastly, I shadowed a plastic surgeon who focuses on hand reconstructions. I saw many people who had sliced their hand or gotten it stuck in a door and required surgery. All three doctors were very encouraging and gave me advice on how to choose a field and pursue medicine.
Overall, both research and shadowing were great experiences that helped me gain exposure into the world of biology and medicine. It was especially interesting as I got to see both sides of medicine: the scientists doing the early cell research and the doctors treating the diseases based on what the scientists find. While it’s clear becoming a doctor will take many years of studying, learning more about the field and their day-to-day lives has only strengthened my resolve to someday join their profession!
By Rhea Kapur ’21
On September 7th, Upper and Middle School students and faculty came together in Hauser Auditorium to commemorate the beginning of the new school year with the annual Convocation ceremony. A traditional, deeply-valued event in the community, Convocation allows all students and faculty to formally recognize the Honor Code and set the tone for the upcoming school year with a number of speeches.
The ceremony was led by senior faculty member Mr. Miller Bugliari ‘52 with the Invocation where he encouraged students and faculty to have “the ability to see the big picture” and to “anticipate outcomes so you are able to make good decisions” this year. He was followed by Student Body President Andrew Cowen (VI) who emphasized his strong belief in the collective community and his desire to contribute, as well as his driving motivations to be a student leader. Acknowledging the many amazing figures who have addressed the community on Hauser’s stage before and recognizing his own relative standing, Cowen shared his reasons for and thoughts on his place on stage. He spoke to how every one of us “want[s] to be a part of something bigger than ourselves,” namely, the Pingry community. He also encouraged students and faculty to “think about what we can accomplish” during this upcoming school year.
Next, Honor Board Chairperson Drew Beckmen (VI) spoke to the immeasurable support, comfort, and guidance a strong community can offer. He used a story about how a group of complete strangers had remained by his side when his bike broke down during a 24-kilometer bike tour, emphasizing the value of a supportive community. He encouraged students to “have the courage to ask questions” and remember that “the Honor Code represents a promise to support those around you. By lifting each other up, we realize our own potential.”
Board of Trustees Chairperson Mr. Jeffrey Edwards ‘78, P ‘12, P ‘14, P ‘18 began his speech by asking the audience about whether our large variety of perspectives on a plastic water bottle shed light onto our personalities. He spoke to how there will be many different viewpoints for students to consider this academic year, but he advised that “when interacting with people, and in your academics, consider possibilities, perspectives, and nuance.”
Lastly, Headmaster Mr. Nathaniel Conard P ‘09, P ‘11 spoke about and connected the lives of John McCain and Aretha Franklin, two unforgettable icons that had different views on the world and recently passed away. Mr. Conard spoke to our own tendency to surround ourselves with those whose opinions are similar to ours. He encouraged the community to “walk out of any echo chamber in which you find yourself, to engage with each other and with each other’s ideas in a respectful manner, to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong, and to assume good intentions on the part of others.”
New student Zoe Wang (III) offered her take on the event, saying it was “a memorable start to the school year and a wonderful tradition that I’ll look forward to for the next three years.” The ceremony closed with a rendition of “Old John Pingry” to establish a thoughtful and energetic start to this school year.