By Josie Alston ’21
Led by captains Michael Sun (VI) and Chris Yu (VI), the boys’ fencing team is off to an excellent start. With preseason conditioning and footwork finally coming to a close, the team is beginning to transition into competition preparation.
As the actual season has just begun, footwork is still a routine practice. Now under the gaze of watchful coaches, including Head Coach Ted Li, the boys are beginning to practice using their weapons, along with other secondary equipment.
Last year, the boys had a very successful season as a team. They qualified to compete in the Sweet Sixteen tournament and placed third in the District Three Championships. In addition, the boys sabre squad and boys foil squad competed in their respective Squad State tournaments.
It is very exciting to see so many new fencers of all grades and experience levels join the team. In the upcoming season, épée fencer Sankar Gollapudi (III), is looking forward to “getting to know fellow épées” and establishing relationships with teammates outside of his grade.
The team is ready for a great season with their first competition against Montgomery High School on December 14th and their first tournament on December 15th.
By Josie Alston ’21
Captains Jamie Wang (V) and Georgia Liu (VI) are leading the girls’ fencing team in a strong direction this year. During preseason, they guided the team through conditioning and footwork; now, at the start of the season, they look forward to putting their bladework to the test.
Although the team is considerably smaller this year, there has been an influx of new freshmen at varying levels of familiarity with the sport. In response to the new lineup, Alison Lee (V) shared, “We have a small team this year but I’m excited to succeed this year like we did last year! Especially the foil team!”
Lee is not kidding when she mentions the success of the girls’ team last year. Not only did the team win Overall District Team Champions, but they also qualified to compete in the Sweet Sixteen Tournament, sending teams to compete at Squad States.
The team is off to a great start and is putting in a lot of effort to make this season even better than the last. On December 14th, the girls will be facing off against Montgomery High School, and, on December 15th, they are looking to compete in their first tournament.
By Noah Bergam ’21
The boys’ basketball team is off to a great start this season, having lost only four seniors to graduation. Under the leadership of Captains Nate Hefner (VI), Kyle Aanstoots (VI), and Ray Fluet (V), the team is excited to kick off the new season.
Last year, the team finished with a record of 4-20 and plans to keep working hard this year for continued improvement and success. Head Coach Jason Murdock said that, “Last season was a year of growth and development, and we are looking forward to bouncing back from our 4-20 record. This season will require a collective effort and I’m looking forward to the guys meeting the challenges ahead of them.”
Coach Murdock looks forward to creating an environment where players feel valued, can have fun with the competitive nature of the game, and, of course, enjoy a few victories.
Murdock has been coaching the team since 2007. When asked what his favorite part of
coaching basketball is, he said, “As a former player, the competition. But as a coach, it’s seeing the relationships formed by the team, and players reaching their potential by creating an
environment that is both challenging and rewarding.”
By Noah Bergam ’21
Once meant as a method to curb nicotine addiction, vaping has become an increasingly widespread practice among American youth. As the number of vaping high school students across the country rises, it has become ever more important for teens, as well as parents, to understand the health risks of the practice.
For all their flavors and attention in the media, vaping devices, also known as e-cigarettes or e-vaporizers, have had their share of controversy among Pingry’s own community in recent years. As such, all of Pingry’s health classes have already made sure to include important information about the relatively new trend in their curricula. However, until now, parents have mostly been left out of the loop. In response, the Health Department put on an informative health and wellness presentation for parents for the first time about the issue on November 28th.
Led by health teacher Mrs. Nancy Romano and Health Department Chair Mrs. Susan Marotto, the presentation was a response to a request from a number of Pingry parents who wanted to know more about the consequences of vaping devices.
“We wanted to run the meeting to tell parents about some of the risks of vaping,” said Mrs. Marotto. “We wanted to give them information about what vaping devices are, some of the dangers involved, and how they can talk to their children about it.”
Real vaping devices were on display for parents throughout the 75-minute presentation. Overall, it was a very informative night for the community.
By Noah Bergam ’21
The co-ed wrestling team is off to a promising start this winter, hoping to improve upon their performance from last year. Led by Captains Jack Lyons (VI), Zach Dobson (VI), and Brandon Spellman (VI), as well as talented senior wrestlers like Kamal Brown (VI), Holden Shikany (VI), Max Brotman (VI), and Thomas Campbell (VI), the team has a deep lineup dedicated to making the most of their abilities.
“Wrestling features both team and individual competitions, and in past years, we have produced a number of successful individual efforts,” said Head Coach George Sullivan, referring to Frankie Dillon’s ‘17 state qualification two years ago and Spellman’s impressive state tournament last season. “We are poised to put forth several impressive individual achievements once more, but we also have the depth of talent required to be competitive as a team.”
Sophomore varsity wrestler Sean Lyons (IV) commented that, “We look to send a couple of kids to States and to get everyone to improve on the matches that they didn’t win last year. Some of the close calls we are set up to overcome.”
All in all, the wrestling team aims to push past the limits of recent individual achievements to beat the team record for wins and pull off an amazing season.
By Monica Chan ’21
On November 20th, the final day before the start of Thanksgiving break, the Buttondowns serenaded the Upper School in Hauser Auditorium at their annual Buttondowns Assembly. The elite boys’ acapella group is led this year by president Rajeev Doraswamy (VI) and vice president Ian Dugan (VI).
The assembly began with the highly anticipated Buttondowns movie, an annual tradition. The three-movie format was inspired by “Edgar Wright’s unofficial ‘Cornetto Trilogy,’ a film trilogy with the same actors, themes, and creative team,” according to Dugan.
The seniors in the Buttondowns had been planning the movie for a long time, as evidenced by clips of the seniors throughout the years. To this, Dugan elaborated, “The introduction to the film was written back when we filmed in the BAC construction site as freshmen, and we left it open ended as to be able to take whatever creative direction we wanted.”
At the end of the movie, the Buttondowns ran down the flight of stairs to the stage wearing their namesake white button down shirts, khakis, and of course, no shoes. The first song was Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” with soloists John Robertson (V), Ore Shote (IV), and Alex Kaplan (IV). “I always learn something from performing in front of crowds. In this case, I learned how to lend attention to the people behind me while still singing correctly,” Kaplan reflected.
The next song had a more R&B feel: “Juke Jam” by Chance the Rapper, with soloists James Wang (V) and Nolan Baynes (IV). This is the second year the two have paired up for a song at the annual assembly. Baynes said he enjoys performing with Wang because, “I think that chemistry between us shows when we sing together, which is really unique.”
Nabeel Jan (VI) and Dugan sang next with the 1980’s hit “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. Jan mentioned that he really enjoyed performing this particular song as both he and Charlie Malone (V) arranged the music together.
Finally, Rajeev Doraswamy (VI) and Henry Wood (IV) sang the closing song, George Erza’s “Budapest.” Wood appreciated how the song’s lyrics, “generally talk about how love is more important than anything else.”
Doraswamy spoke after the assembly about his years in the Buttondowns group, reflecting that, “It hadn’t hit me that it was my last assembly until it was over; once it did end, I felt a huge sense of gratitude to those who put countless hours in, and definitely some sadness that it was my last one.” He thanked Dr. Andrew Moore, “who was there for me all four years and has never wavered in his support for the group.” Doraswamy also thanked his fellow seniors Dugan, Jan, Thomas Campbell, and Ryan Henriques, as well as the entire class of 2019, “who have cheered us on from freshman year until now.” He also thanked Dugan for the immense effort he put into the Buttondowns movie.
The event was widely enjoyed by the whole Upper School, apparent by the loud applause. As a final note, Doraswamy said, “All in all, I’m really proud of the boys, and I’ll definitely be looking back on it with a real sense of both happiness and sadness.”
By Alisa Chokshi ’19
The girls’ varsity squash team is looking to advance even further after last year’s huge successes. Last year, the girls’ team took first place overall at the New Jersey High School Squash Championships and placed 11th at the High School Nationals in Philadelphia. This was the second highest finish in the team’s history. Despite graduating three seniors, there are promising new freshmen who look to further improve the team. In order to build off of the team’s 11th-place finish, Head Coach Tina Rix-Stout has created a more challenging schedule for the regular season. Though the team has yet to face their toughest opponents (including Greenwich Academy, Lawrenceville, and Agnes Irwin), they are off to a promising start with a 6-1 victory over Hackley.
With regards to the rest of the season Captain Alisa Chokshi (VI) said, “Our goal this year is to remain undefeated in the regular season, and earn an even higher ranking at High School Nationals.” Coach Rix-Stout said this will come by building, “a good team culture—coming to practice with a good attitude, willing to really work hard, and being consistent.”
By Lauren Drzala ’21
Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie: just a few of the elements that help make a Thanksgiving feast for most people. As you all know, Thanksgiving break came to a screeching halt after five days. For me, it was not enough time to recharge my brain. Now we anxiously await winter break, hoping for one or two snow days in between. During this holiday season, family members swarm your house. And in every holiday party, I have realized there are certain categories my family members fit into when it comes to preparing any holiday event: the watchers, the cooks, the cleaners, and the guests.
The watchers. This classification of holiday participants can be described as the little pests who hang around the kitchen, waiting to strike on the innocent mashed potatoes sitting by the hot stove. I, myself, am guilty of this. Spoon in hand, they dive for the unfinished sauces and foods, being stopped by none other than the cook who prepares it. To vanquish a watcher, one must tell them they have to help clean up the mess. After this point, the watchers are nowhere to be seen, saving the remainder of the food they did not get their hands on.
The cooks. The creators of the holiday foods who feel they are the superior beings in the kitchen. They are just normal people who turn into chefs, making everyone wonder where these hidden talents just came from. Suddenly Mom and Dad turn into Alton Brown, whipping out delectable items comparable to those on Food Network. They make us wonder how these hidden talents just appear out of their ordinary lives. The cooks add some thyme here and a splash of a mysterious juice seemingly from the depths of the Amazon Jungle there. Because they are so engrossed in their cooking, a mountain of dishes begins to grow in the sink, much to the dismay of the cleaners.
The cleaners. These are the people I relate to the most. They start off as watchers, unaware of the perilous mistake they have made by sitting in the kitchen. These innocent children meet their parents’ gaze, aware of the pile of dishes in the sink. They try to escape, but are forced to help clean up. Once the cleaning begins, so does the complaining. I am personally guilty of this. “No one helps me,” is usually my go-to, but once someone like my younger sister tries to help, I say, “Get out! You are not good at cleaning up.” However, there are times when the mess is just too much to handle, and that usually leads to me ask for help.
The guests. There are many varieties of guests, including the grandparents, the cousins, the family friends, and those family members you see once every six years. Some guests are people that I have never met before. You think you hear your parents say they are friends of your third cousins, but you aren’t quite sure. There are some guests who decide to help clean up. Although I do enjoy a helping hand (when there is too much for me to handle), I don’t enjoy it when the guests begin to clean up when I am enjoying myself. This leads to a death stare from my mom, compelling me to halt my fun and start to clean up again. I then have to approach these guests and pry the soap and sponge from their hands, telling them to have a good time while I am stuck with the dishes . . . again.
Now, what I have also learned from continuous holiday parties and guest after guest is that hosting a holiday party is a pain, but it is all worth the trouble. Everyone special in your life comes together for one glorious party. Yes, it can be exhausting, but you are doing it for the people that you love. I am very glad to spend my holidays with my family; they really do make me happy at the end of the day, and I do not say that enough. To quote Michael J. Fox, “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”
By Meghan Durkin ’21
As the winter season begins, the ski racing team, led by captains Annie Leithead (VI), Brian Kaplan (VI), Matt Dispenza (V), and Rosemary Collins (IV), looks to build on last year’s strong performance. Last winter, Leithead, Dispenza, and Collins all qualified individually for the Race of Champions, in which they finished 15th, 13th, and 3rd, respectively. Collins and Dispenza also went on to become the first Pingry skiers to compete at the Eastern High School Alpine Championships.
This year, the team is thrilled to get back on the slopes. The team hopes the “girl’s team will do better at States and the boy’s team will qualify,” according to Collins. She and the other captains believe “that’s a very achievable goal if we work hard.”
Leithead and the rest of the team are “happy the weather finally cooled down and are hopeful for a cold and snowy winter. We are really excited to see how we perform and ready to get on snow and see some new talent.”
By Kristine Fu ’19
With the end of winter break, we are reminded that the annual Snowball Dance is approaching! This year, Snowball is on Saturday, January 26th. It is a night to relax, hang out with friends, and take pictures in our beautiful dresses and handsome suits. For some, dress shopping can be overwhelming; there are dozens of dress websites and endless choices for cut, color, decals, etc. If you don’t know where to start, I would recommend perusing through the Revolve website or the Nordstrom site, both of which have a wide variety of options and brands. H&M ($) offers a wide range of styles, from elegant crushed-velvet dresses to eye-catching sequin dresses. For monochromatic bodycon dresses, check out Lulus ($$). Their wrap and skater dresses are typically solid colors, without flashy details. On the other hand, Zara is your go-to for avant-garde styles, such as studded dresses, snake print, and silk chain-print. Free People ($$$) is known for its unique designs with ruffles, lace, jacquard fabrics, and classy floral prints. Consider Rent the Runway ($-$$$) if you are interested in wearing haute couture like Chanel or Versace for less. This company is also a practical option since you will likely only wear the accessories and dress once a year.
The final recommendations for finding the perfect outfit: 1) For those who shop online, be sure to buy your dress early! Avoid the panic when your dress arrives the day before January 26th and ends up not fitting right. 2) Dress for confidence! Your dress is a form of self-expression, so you should feel confident and comfortable in whatever you choose.
By Vicky Gu ’20
On November 14, Pingry’s advanced Upper School visual arts students took their annual field trip to the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. There, they visited many diverse art galleries, each displaying various media, such as paints, prints, sculptures, films, photographs, and other installation-type pieces. Because the art shown in the galleries is constantly changing, the students have a chance to become inspired by and learn from the trip each year even if they are visiting the same locations.
Students were split up into rough groups based on the art class they are enrolled in, so as not to overcrowd any one particular gallery at a time. Though they visited many of the same galleries, some groups viewed galleries tailored to their classes that others did not. For example, a group of junior and senior photographers visited the David Zwirner Gallery, which showed small, figurative paintings by Lisa Yuskavage. Other places students visited included the Albertz Benda, James Cohan, Agora, Asya Geisberg, and Mary Boone galleries.
Reactions to the artists’ works varied from admiration to surprise, from confusion to quiet contemplation. When visiting the Gagosian Gallery, the students examined the very messily linear works of Mark Grotjahn. “It looked like swathes of toothpaste were put on it. Tubes of white toothpaste with green and red stripes in it,” said Victoria Gu (V). Another classmate noticed that one of the swatches had fallen off, leaving behind a pale, white imprint. Many quickly dismissed it as another incomprehensible example of contemporary art and gathered in the gallery’s atrium to be led to the next one. Ms. Rebecca Sullivan, who teaches both the drawing and painting and film classes, then revealed some confusing and controversial news: each one of the 75 by 60-inch paintings was worth at least $5 million dollars. The larger ones were worth closer to $10 million. In awe, the group filed back into the gallery to reexamine the paintings, wondering how they could be worth more than several houses.
One of the last galleries the groups visited was the HG Contemporary Gallery, featuring artist Susan J. Barron. Her exhibition, titled “Depicting the Invisible,” is a series of portraits of veterans suffering from PTSD surrounded by quotes about their wishes and laments. All observers were silent as they read her pieces. Many students cited that exhibition in their subsequent reflections as one of the most moving and eye-opening things they saw on the trip.
The student artists visited nearly a dozen galleries before boarding the bus for lunch. Rather than bagged lunches, students enjoyed exploring the diverse options of Chelsea Market. The previous year, the field trip had brought the students to lunch in Little Italy, and most students agreed that while Chelsea Market had fewer formal dining options, the change was welcomed because it was much less crowded.
Overall, even though the trip featured some of the same places as last year, the artists and works within the galleries had changed and the students were able to learn new things from the experience. They also got to witness the artists’ new inspirations and further survey the present-day artistic landscape.
By Hannah Guglin ’20
On Saturday, November 17th, Pingry’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) travelled to Middletown High School South to attend the 2018 New Jersey GSA Forum. The GSA Forum is an annual gathering of GSAs across the state to discuss LGBTQ+ issues. The forum allows members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community to come together.
This year, the conference began with a speech from keynote speaker Gavin Grimm. Grimm, a transgender rights activist, is currently involved in a legal case involving transgender bathroom laws after he was rejected from using the bathroom of his choice at his local school. During his speech, Grimm discussed the court case and also his process of coming out and his resilience throughout those experiences. Ethan Malzberg (VI) recalls that, “hearing the legal aspects of his story was super interesting, but also having the opportunity to hear the emotional battles he had to go through for recognition within his own family was even more enlightening.”
After the speech, there were three workshops. The workshops included, “Language Matters: The big impact of ‘little’ things,” where students discussed the impact of microaggressions and the importance of language, as well as, “Make it happen at your school: GLSEN Days of Action,” in which they talked about how to implement ideas, such as Ally Week or Day of Silence, into schools. At Pingry, the Day of Silence is observed within the community. On this day, students proceed without speaking to show solidarity for LGBTQ+ issues.
When discussing her experience at the forum, Ms. Stephanie Mygas said, “It’s nice to be able to see groups of students who are so civically engaged getting together. It was also nice to see other teachers that are involved in GSAs and hear from the community about what’s happening outside of Pingry.”
At the forum, many resources were given to those who attended. Upon arrival, folders containing a list of the different resources specific to the LGBTQ+ community were handed out. This list included ones for education and advocacy; youth groups and resource centers; parent and family support groups; and more. These provide aid not only to those looking to become more involved in the community but also to those struggling through their journey as a member.
Overall, the forum was informative and demonstrated the ability for a community to unite behind a common cause.
By Felicia Ho ’19
Winter is brutal. Icy winds blow through your useless coat, chilling you to the bone. Your car might be smothered under a thick layer of snow, and your hands, already numb from shoveling snow off the driveway, will be as frozen as the icicles hanging down from your roof. When the world succumbs to darkness at 5:00 PM, where do you turn to for some warmth and light?
Here’s some advice based on my own experience living in this post-apocalyptic nightmare: step inside Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in Edison, NJ.
Soft, acoustic pop song covers blend in with quiet chatter from large and small families alike, creating a cozy atmosphere inside. When you arrive at your table, you might be surprised to see a black, rectangular stove top sitting in the center. You may think, “am I actually at Benihana?”
No – this is where the magic of hot pot happens.
Hot pot is a traditional Chinese dish typically enjoyed during the winter, and involves preparing a simmering pot of soup and placing all kinds of foods, from lamb meat to fish dumplings, into the pot to cook at the table.
Ready to get started? First, choose a soup base. In addition being a well-known chain in China that has now expanded to over 30 different locations in the U.S., Little Sheep celebrates central Mongolian traditional cuisine by offering two different soups: a simple broth with goji berries, jujubes, black cardamom pods, ginseng, and herbs; or a spicy red broth with chili oil and peppercorns. If this is your first time, I recommend the half and half pot with both soups. Now, it’s time to pick what you will be cooking inside of the pot. There is a wide variety of meats, vegetables, seafood, and noodles — don’t be afraid to try new things and order away! As a four-person family, we typically order lamb, beef, the seafood combo, fish balls with roe stuffed inside, fish tofu, beef tripe, spinach, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, crab sticks, pumpkin, taro, glass noodles (long, silky noodles that dissolve in your mouth), and egg dumplings. You can also order sides like the sesame pancake, which is satisfyingly crunchy on the outside and has layers of fluffy, soft bread inside, or the sesame balls, filled with my absolute favorite — sweet red bean paste — for dessert.
After you order, head over to the sauce bar. The sauce is a key component to eating hot pot, as the food cooked in hot pot typically lacks in flavor. There are several sauces available; the most popular being sesame paste and sha cha sauce, which has the tang of barbeque sauce and the hearty base of Italian meat sauce. Feel free to mix and match, and sprinkle a few green onions on top at the end.
By this time, the broth should be boiling and ready to cook all the delicious food you ordered. As a few general guidelines, Little Sheep recommends 10-15 seconds in the pot for thin sliced meat, 1-2 minutes for green vegetables, and 3-5 minutes for all other ingredients. Here’s a tip: the spicy broth cooks faster than the regular one.
As you savor the last bits of a taro that dissolve in your mouth or break open a fish ball filled with roe, you’ll watch everyone, from your annoying five-year-old little brother to your beloved 75-year-old grandmother, join in on the fun of cooking their own food.
Don’t worry if you have a “food baby” by the end of your hot pot journey; treat this meal as a reward that you deserve after all your hard work studying for tests, writing papers, and preparing presentations during these last few weeks leading up to winter break.
By Felicia Ho ’19
The girls’ basketball team is ready to start off its season with a swish. Coach Courtney Tierney’s hope is that the girls will “learn as a team daily, play with a fast-paced style, and be competitive in the Skyland Conference and the Prep Tournament.”
Captains Ally Hosler (VI), Alyson Feeley (V), and Solape Fakorede (VI) are optimistic about the upcoming season. Fakorede said her main goal for the team this season “is for us to just be the best that we can be.” Rather than focusing on winning just one specific game, Fakorede hopes to “put our all in every game, and fight for the W.”
Coach Tierney notes that Aly Feeley (V) and Olivia Volpe (IV) are two key players to watch for in the upcoming games.
In the end, the captains hope to foster a team that is supportive of each other, because “even though we want to win,” as Fakorede says, “it’s also about having fun.”
The team faces their first scrimmage of the season away against Oak Knoll on December 6.
By Josie Jahng ’19
Led by captain Matthew Keller (VI) and assistant captains Daniel Schnack (VI) and Michael Vessa (VI), the boys’ varsity ice hockey team is ready for another great season. Coming off a solid 14-5-1 record last year, the team is “expecting big things to happen during this season,” Head Coach Scott Garrow noted.
19 players are returning from last year’s lineup, including a strong senior class and leading scorers Eric Bush (IV) and Jared Kordonsky (IV). The only factor that remains unknown heading into the season is the goalie situation: after losing the starting goalkeeper, Kevin Parnham (IV) and Jake Friedman (IV) will vie for the starting spot between the pipes. However, Coach Garrow has “no doubt that they will step up in the net and play well.”
The team has already shown strong potential after opening the season with a 4-1 win against Watchung Hills. However, the hardest is yet to come, with the team soon playing against conference rival Ridge. Of the five games that the team lost last season, three were to Ridge, including a tough loss in the conference championship. The team looks to start this season strong, avenge their losses to Ridge, and prepare for the conference and state tournaments that start later in the year.