By Alex Kaplan ’21
On November 8th, the Jewish Affinity Group hosted a town hall in the wake of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eleven people were killed, making it the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States. While the event was hosted by the Jewish Affinity Group, it was open to the entire Pingry community, regardless of faith or culture. The event intended to create a space that was free for respectful debate so anyone could voice their thoughts without fear of retaliation or judgement. According to Ethan Malzberg (VI), co-facilitator of the Jewish Affinity Group, “any shooting inherently provokes a political response from some people, and we wanted to allow people to be political without turning what’s meant to be an emotional place into an argumentative place.” The town hall was a success, with high turnout and a great impact on those who attended.
Present at the town hall was Dr. Diana Artis, Chair of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, Mrs. Eva Ostrowsky, counselor and Peer Leadership Program Advisor, and Ms. Shelley Hartz, Director of Community and Civic Engagement, as well as a number of faculty, students, and staff. Many people came both to share and to listen. Ms. Hartz felt that the town hall was a powerful experience, saying that “seeing the students [who] came to the meeting was most impactful since these were students I don’t normally see in Affinity Group meetings.”
The viewpoints that were shared varied as well. Some shared their opinions on the recent events, whereas other shared ideas they found had affected them. Mrs. Ostrowsky, for example, shared a poem written to the baby whose naming was supposed to take place during the tragedy at the synagogue. It was an emotional moment for all who attended. Malzberg noted another affective moment, saying, “I was the first person to share, so seeing people around me stand up after me was really affirming and inspiring to everyone.” Ms. Hartz and Malzberg both noted that the community turnout was better than expected.
The high attendance and heartfelt response to the event opens the door to more events of a similar nature in the future. Ms. Hartz echoed this sentiment, noting that she hopes, “as a community we can continue to find venues where students can support each other during difficult times.”
By Aneesh Karuppur ’21
The December season is one of the most active for new technology, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday marking the beginning of the holidays. But before delving into the tech world at large, let us take a look at how the Student Technology Committee (STC) is making Pingry an even more technologically advanced school.
In early November, STC welcomed its new members for the 2018-2019 school year: Michael Sun (VI), Chris Gu (III), Lukas Strelecky (III), Jamie Wang (V), Sumant Sagar (IV), Abigail Rubino (III), Ashley Lu (V), Julian Lee (IV), Jessica Yatvitskiy (IV), Brian Li (III), Colin Wen (V), Katherine Xie (III), and Thomas Beacham (V).
Notably, STC announced that Pingry is now an Apple Authorized Service Provider that will go by the title “Pingry Bear Repair.” Students and faculty can have their Macbooks repaired and serviced at Pingry without having to drive out to the nearest Apple Store. Officially licensed and approved STC members will work carefully with Macbooks as technicians at any Apple Store would. Apple Certified Mac Technicians (ACMTs) are available during first flex and CP in the Tech Office.
STC will also be working on many other projects during the school year. For example, STC’s How Cards will provide helpful tutorials on all sorts of tech questions, conveniently arranged in the form of virtual notecards. The Virtual Reality Curriculum will be receiving many updates as well, and STC hopes to integrate the Virtual Reality headset and computer station into many more classes. The communications team will be working on providing websites to Pingry publications (an example can be found at www.students.pingry.org/record!) and any clubs that request one. The Pingry Today app will be be receiving some new features, and assorted coding projects and possible school-wide charging stations round out this exciting list of projects.
Turning back to the greater world of technology, Apple’s MacBook Air, one of the most popular and famous computers to ever be released, was finally updated after ten years. Long a staple of the Pingry 1:1 Program, the original MacBook Air was first launched in 2007 and was hailed as a light but fast machine for the ambitious student. The new MacBook Air features a brand-new processor, a memory bump, a much sharper screen, and a chassis made entirely out of recycled aluminum. The 128 Gigabytes model of the new Air starts at $1,199.
I personally do not recommend this laptop. If you are looking for a very light laptop, Apple’s normal MacBook is a better option. If you are looking to do a little more powerful work like modeling, photo and video editing, music production, and publications work, the base model MacBook Pro (without the Touch Bar) is a much better option for just a little more money and is in fact the very laptop this column was typed on. The original MacBook Air was revolutionary, but the new one has effectively become redundant in Apple’s line-up.
In other Apple news, Apple also launched its new iPad Pro. It starts at $799, and is aimed at professional artists and content creators. It is very powerful, but runs iOS (just like an iPhone) and so is not a great option to serve Pingry students as a main device.
Apple also released its long-awaited update to the Mac Mini. The Mac Mini has been the cheapest way to buy a Mac, especially because it doesn’t come with a display or a keyboard. The new Mac Mini features updated components and better upgradability down the road. Due to the fact that this is a desktop computer, I don’t recommend it for students, especially if they already have a Mac laptop for school.
By Nicole Kloss ’19
German Club consists of a group of Pingry students who are eager to learn more about German culture and language. During meetings, we discuss German traditions and holidays while enjoying traditional German food. We also learn a few German words relating to the holiday.
Some club meetings include Oktoberfest, Weihnachten (Christmas), movie night, and Fasching (Spring Fest). During Oktoberfest we enjoy bratwurst, pretzels, nutella, and apfelstrudel. For Weihnachten, we make gingerbread houses and listen to Christmas music. During movie nights, we watch German movies. For Fasching we enjoy German desserts. Each meeting also comprises a presentation about each holiday detailing the history, how it is currently celebrated, and my experience with the holiday as the president of the club.
Our German Club outing for the month of December was a trip to a Christmas market in Sparta, NJ. The trip was a great opportunity for club members to fully immerse in German culture and have a deeper connection to what I talk about during club meetings. The market is on a long boardwalk beside a lake. When we first arrived, we immediately noticed the enticing smells coming from all the food vendors as well as from pine trees decorating the market.
We headed over to a biergarten area where we had delicious Bratwurst and Heisse Schokolade (hot chocolate). Then, as a club, we walked around passing vendors that sold Christmas decorations, popcorn, clothes, German snacks, and much more. As we walked, we all snacked on some stroopwafels while Christmas songs played. There was even a wood carving area where someone was making intricate wood sculptures with an electric saw.
I began German club because I am very connected to my German heritage and visit Germany often. I wanted to share my culture with the Pingry community. It is important to note that the club is welcome to everyone, regardless of whether you take German or know anything about Germany.
By Sarah Kloss ’22 and Emma Drzala ’22
Peter and the Starcatcher is a tribute to an orphan boy’s journey to discover his identity as the now well-known Peter Pan. Peter and two other orphans find themselves on a ship known as the Neverland. Soon, a girl named Molly Aster approaches them and tells them about a secret mission that only she can fulfill. This mission leads us through several adventures that greatly influence Peter’s journey to becoming Peter Pan.
The show delivered in many unexpected ways; everything from the costumes to the lighting made the show incredibly professional. Although the cast and crew were only high-schoolers, the story they told transported the audience to another world. We embarked on an adventure with the characters, allowing our minds to reach new limits.
Although the entire cast contributed to the making of this phonomenal play, Jack Lyons (VI) stole the show. He played the Black Stache, an evil pirate with a thirst for power. With his English accent, black mustache, and great acting, he kept the audience members sitting on the edge of their seats. Lyons gave a consistently wonderful performance, and, given his character, it must have been quite a challenge.
Katerina Deliargyris’ (VI) portrayal of Molly the Starcatcher could not have been more spot on, and she enchanted us with her voice at the end of Act I. Molly taught the audience passion, love, and leadership. Deliargyris embodied the character, always impressing us.
Another character who made a great impact on the audience was Prentiss, played by Andrew Cowen (VI). Cowen never failed to add a little humor even in the most serious scenes. From his snarky comments about leadership to his shouts while running through the jungle, he made every scene memorable. Indeed, Cowen was able to switch personas in the blink of an eye. One moment we would see the cocky, arrogant boy who justs wants to be the leader, and another moment we would see the scared, broken orphan who justs wants affection. This ability added depth to Cowen’s character that wouldn’t have been obvious otherwise.
The only actor that performed two lead roles was Lucas Vazquez (VI). Not only did he perform two roles, but his phenomenal acting allowed the audience to tell the two apart. His first role was Bill Slank, the ruthless pirate who takes the trunk meant for the Wasp. Vazquez delivered a classic “bad guy” character in this role. Bill Slank’s anxiety, nervousness, and evil behavior was hilariously portrayed by Vazquez.
Of course, we must not forget the boy himself, Peter Pan. Nicholas Grimaldi (VI) showed the audience the true Peter, and the story behind why he is forever young. Although Grimaldi is a senior, he was able to perfectly capture the innocence of a 13-year-old boy. He took the audience through quite a journey, and they clearly recognized his character development, one that only a true actor could pull off.
The show was incredible, as it unravelled a tale of how Peter Pan the orphan came to be the boy who is forever young. Pingry Drama has pulled off yet another spectacular performance, and we cannot wait to see the next production.
By Brian Li ’22
Last year’s boys’ squash team had a successful season with a 10-3 record, finishing 15th in the country. With captain Krish Bhavnani ‘18, the team achieved their goals and realized their next steps.
Mr. Ramsay Vehslage has been coaching the boys’ squash team since its inception in 2003. However, since the Bugliari Athletic Center opened in 2017, the team has experienced a surge in squash players. Previously, the team had to travel to Drew University to practice on two courts. However, with the new athletic center, the squash program has grown tremendously in the Middle and Upper School and has also created interest in the Lower School. Coach Vehslage elaborates, “Having a facility here has opened up a whole bunch of new doors for us and the team.” The eight squash courts allow many more students to play, creating a new atmosphere for the squash players. Unlike previous years, full Varsity and Junior Varsity teams will be created, allowing students of any experience to join the team. Ms. Olivia Tandon will be coaching Boys’ JV.
With captains Jeffrey Xiao (VI) and Chris Zachary (VI) leading the team this year, the squash program at Pingry has come a long way from “[Eleven] people, and, of those eleven, five had actually played squash before,” according to Mr. Vehslage. The team is excited to see how they perform throughout the season.
By Brian Li ’22
On November 8, 9, and 10, the Upper School Drama Department presented its annual fall play; this year’s play was Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice. Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, this comedy explores the backstory of Peter Pan. Directed by Mrs. Stephanie Romankow, Peter and the Starcatcher included over 40 cast members, two British ships, and a forested island full of native people.
The play begins with Molly (Katerina Deliargyris, VI) and three orphans boarding the Neverland, a British ship commanded by Bill Slank (Lucas Vazquez, VI). Her father, Lord Leonard Aster (Stuart Clark, V), boards a second ship, the Wasp. Each ship has its own trunk, one filled with sand, the other with starstuff, a magical substance that makes people what they wish to be. While Molly befriends the orphans, Black Stache (Jack Lyons, VI) and his band of pirates take over the Wasp in search of the starstuff. They leave thinking they have successfully stolen the starstuff, but when they find their trunk is filled with sand, they realize the trunks had been swapped. The Wasp pursues the Neverland, while Peter (Nicholas Grimaldi, VI) and the other orphans take the starstuff and float to an island as the Neverland breaks apart. Molly finds them, but they are captured by the natives and their king, Fighting Prawn (Lucas Vazquez, VI). The orphans manage to escape with the trunk of starstuff, but Peter falls into a starstuff-filled lake. The pirates capture Molly and the two orphans, but Peter returns and interrupts the standoff. Stache opens the orphans’ trunk only to find it empty. Realizing his plan has failed, Stache gives a farewell, noting that he and his enemy Peter will meet again. Although Molly wants to take the orphans back to England, her father realizes that Peter was affected by the starstuff and cannot go back. Peter is then permanently a boy, the one thing he always wanted to be.
Although Mrs. Romankow has directed productions before, this was her first time directing the play. As a “magical” production, Mrs. Romankow said, “it embraces theater in its purest form, allowing the audience to see how the magic is made.” She appreciates that the actors are “not only a group of insanely talented students, but also students who know the importance of collaboration.”
Mr. Christopher Abbott designed and built the set, and Mr. Alan Van Antwerp served as the lighting operator. Mr. Jay Winston was the sound director, while Mary Kovacs (VI), Udochi Emeghara (VI), Grace Brown (VI), and Sonia Talarek (V) were stage managers.
This year’s fall play was drastically different from that of previous years, according to Lucas Vazquez (VI). “Last year, Antigone was an ancient Greek play with barely any movement or set changes. The cast this year was much bigger than last year’s, and we also had the songs [and] audio cues. [With] all the set changes, costume changes, and cues, it felt like we were doing a musical, or half a musical.”
The cast, along with Mrs. Romankow, agreed that the fall play was a rewarding experience. In the words of Leo Zhu (VI), “This play embodied the idea that everyone matters…I really enjoyed working with the cast and I wish I could stay at Pingry longer. It’s sad having to leave everybody behind after spending so much time with them.”
Vazquez elaborated, saying, “While I plan to do theater in college, it won’t be the same without the people I’ve known for so long. It won’t be worse, but it just won’t be the same.”
By Justin Li ’21
As they head into their season, the girls’ swim team is working hard to continue the last year’s success. Led by Head Coach Deirdre O’Mara, the team is coming off of a 6-2 season full of school- and state-record breaking. Captains Grace O’Mara (VI) and Darlene Fung (VI) know that living up to the name they’ve made for themselves will be a tough, but hopefully achievable task.
In regards to this year’s team, Grace O’Mara said, “We have a very young team so we are really hoping to have a strong season. We graduated a very high scoring senior class so we are all going to need to push ourselves this year.”
They were the Non-Public “A” and NJSIAA Prep champions last season, but placed second in the Skyland Conference Championship. The team hopes to defend their titles and bring home a third championship this season.
Key swimmer Teodora Kolarov (IV) noted, “We have a promising lineup this year, and with our new leadership, we have great chances of success.”
By Justin Li ’21
SAC has become a popular part of the Pingry community in the eyes of students and teachers alike. Students know that SAC assemblies are a perfect time to take a break and have a laugh with friends, regardless of the academic pressures during the normal school day. Under the new leadership of Ian Dugan (VI), Jack Gambello (VI), and Jack Timko (VI), the group already has a notably successful fall assembly under their belt.
We enjoy the products of SAC in the form of their comedy and performances, but how exactly does their work come to fruition? I talked to Ian Dugan about what exactly goes into an SAC assembly and how the club functions as a whole.
The preparation for an assembly usually begins with a meeting a month prior. The core team convenes, throws ideas on a whiteboard, and narrows the pool of ideas down to those that they like the most. They then assign three or four SAC members to each idea and give them a deadline to bring the idea to life. In regards to these assignments, Dugan says, “We delegate ideas to people who we think will treat them well. We’ll also have one production person with each group to make sure it’s a quality piece of art.”
After ideas are assigned, the project groups start to write, film, edit, and complete whatever else their segment entails, making sure to report back to the leaders regularly to ensure that progress is smooth and on schedule. They usually do not meet as a group again until the week of the assembly, at which point they’ll run through the script a few times. Before any joke hits the stage, it must be approved by Dean Ross and any of the students or teachers at which the joke is aimed.
This process has evidently worked well for SAC, as they have received particularly positive reception for their latest assembly. Dugan remarked, “I had teachers email me and say that it was the funniest SAC assembly that they’ve been to, and I really appreciate that because it makes me feel like we were successful. Overall, it’s been positive feedback about the assembly. When comments about the assembly are as specific as: ‘I think this idea went on for a little too long,’ or ‘I didn’t like this one joke,’ then that means as a whole, it was a good assembly.”
A large reason behind the quality of SAC’s events lies in the diversity of their ranks; their jokes must appeal to the entire audience, rather than a select few. Dugan and the rest of leaders have made it an effort to make sure that students from all over the school have a voice in the club. This school year, they’ve achieved the most equal gender ratio in recent memory and have increased the number of sophomore and junior members by a sizable measure as well. Dugan said, “Generally, SAC has been one group of friends making jokes for their group of friends, but this year, we’ve tried to find the funniest people in different social groups who may have not been included in SAC in previous years.” The Meme of the Week has also doubled as a way to find out “who’s funny, who has potential, and who we want on SAC.”
SAC’s process of taking on new members is also unlike that of most other clubs at Pingry. There is no sign-up sheet or application where you present your most guffaw-inducing jokes; instead, it is up to the leaders to decide who deserves a spot on the team. During the summer, they meet and compile a list of candidates who they think would be great additions to the team and reach out to them when school starts. In some rare cases, students who demonstrate persistent interest may also be considered and admitted into the group. This method of selecting new members is one reason why SAC has been successful.
The next thing we can look forward to from SAC is their annual winter assembly, which the team has not yet begun preparing. The winter assembly, held in the senior commons, distinguishes itself from its fall counterpart in that is entirely live, a factor that makes Ian describes as a “challenge” and “a whole different territory” for the group. However, he also sees it as “another opportunity to diversify by getting Pingry’s actors and actresses on board.” It is evident that even with the changes the club has made this year, they have remained true to the spirit of SAC that the Pingry community has loved. All in all, there is a lot more behind their jokes than it may seem.
By Ethan Malzberg ’19
The news broke for me on Twitter. It was Saturday, October 27. While taking a break from college essays, I never expected to scroll past frantic headlines announcing a massacre against my community.
The Monday following the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I immediately went to Ms. Hartz’s office to discuss how we could act. As co-leader of Jewish Affinity Group, I was unsure what my role should be in the healing process of the Jewish community and the greater Pingry community.
Together, we decided that the Jewish Affinity Group should host a Town Hall. There, anyone from the community — regardless of religious identification — could share their reaction to the events in Pittsburgh. Aside from Pingry’s usual norms, we added an additional one for this town hall: attendees were welcome to stand up and share their reactions, but no one was allowed to respond to someone else’s reaction. Our intention in setting this norm was to create a space solely for reaction and support, not debate. It was important for me to allow people to react in whatever way they desired — and given the political intertwinings of any mass shooting, that might mean politics — without allowing something as emotional as this to turn into a place for heated argument.
The Town Hall took place on November 8 during CP. All members of the Pingry community were invited. Teachers, students, and administrators attended the event. Many attendees shared one or multiple responses to the shooting; others simply listened and observed for the duration of the event. Personally, I shared my newfound fear as an American and as a Jew, my distaste for the manner in which our President and Vice President addressed the shooting, and my guilt for not giving myself enough time to process the events immediately after they occurred because I was so busy with schoolwork and college applications.
Mrs. Ostrowsky, one of the school counselors, shared a particularly poignant poem written by Zev Steinberg that brought many at the event to tears. The following is an excerpt from the poem:
“Little boy, what’s your name – do you have one?
Sweet baby, just eight days, what should we call you?
I have heard the sacred circumcision postponed for jaundiced yellow, but never before for bloodshed red.
Is your name Shalom? We long for peace in this troubled world. I hope you are Shalom.
Is your name Nachum? Oh, how we need to be comforted in our grief. I hope you are Nachum.
Is your name Raphael? Our broken hearts and bleeding souls need healing. I hope you are Raphael.
You should have been carried high into the congregation on Shabbat morning – past from loving hands to loving hands – on a cushioned pillow to receive your Jewish name.
Instead your elders fell and were carried out on stretchers in plastic bags. Their names on tags.
Is your name Moshe? Our unbearable anguish and rage demands justice. I hope you are Moshe.
Is your name Ariel? We need the ferocious strength of lions to protect our people. I hope you are Ariel.
Is your name Barak? We need courageous warriors to vanquish our enemies. I hope you are Barak.
The blood on Shabbat morning was supposed to be covenantal not sacrilegious, sacramental not sacrificial, sacred not unholy. The tears were supposed to be of boundless joy not bottomless sorrow.
The cries were supposed to be ‘mazel tov’ not the mourner’s kaddish.”
For those who do not know, a baby’s naming ceremony is considered, by Jews, to be one of the most important moments in life. This is supposed to take place within eight days of birth. As the poem mentioned, postponement of the ceremony is a rarity; the fact that this occurred speaks to the gravity of the Pittsburgh tragedy.
Personally, I was brought to tears by this poem. It made me aware of just how unpresent I had been. It was so easy to hear “9 dead, 10 dead, now 11 dead” in the headlines that eventually, I tuned the news out. It was so easy to fear for my own safety (for the first time in recent memory) and immediately tune out. It was so easy to immerse myself in school work that I tuned my own pain out. Despite having planned this event, I had been so numb that I never processed everything that occurred until I heard this poem: the shooting happened at a baby’s naming ceremony, it wasn’t “just” a normal Saturday morning service.
What happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue is so much bigger than me. Still, I learned that self-awareness and emotional awareness are necessary if I want to help other people heal. I need to take care of myself before I can try to help anyone else.
Burke Pagano ’20
On the afternoon of November 13, juniors and seniors gathered on the sideline of Parson’s Field, ready to compete in new, unfamiliar ways. The annual Powderpuff Games had finally arrived. This event, organized and run by SMAC, Student Movement Against Cancer, features two games: a field hockey game among the boys and a football game among the girls. The event, originally scheduled for November 2 for the culmination of breast cancer awareness month, was postponed due to inclement weather, resulting in a steep drop in attendance. Nonetheless, the games continued with minor alterations. The senior boys played against the junior boys in the field hockey game first. The juniors dominated the first half and opened up a strong 2-0 lead; the seniors brought themselves back into the game with a quick goal at the beginning of the second half, but ultimately the juniors pulled a 3-2 win. Patrick Birotte (V) said, “It was a great community event and I really enjoyed playing field hockey for the first time.” After the completion of field hockey, the girls gathered for a game of two-hand touch football. Unfortunately no junior girls attended the event, and as a result, the football game was converted to a co-ed game with the junior boys taking on all the senior girls.
Although the Powderpuff Games served as a fun way to compete for the upperclassmen, the event stands for a greater cause. Every year, in promotion of the games, the SMAC leaders sell pink and white shirts to the juniors and seniors to raise both money and awareness for breast cancer. This year, the three leaders of SMAC, Jack Gambello (VI), Margot Present (VI), and Lauren Shelby (VI), decided it would be a great idea not to limit shirts to upperclassmen, but instead design a shirt for the sophomores and freshmen as well. Present said, “This year, we really wanted to include the entire Pingry community in the fight against cancer and contribute to the cause.” Each shirt was twenty dollars and in total they sold 115 shirts and raised over $800 for a great cause.
By Eva Schiller ’21
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I was dragged out of my room to watch the opening skit of Saturday Night Live. It was a rerun commenting on Kavanaugh’s election by the Senate, and depicted Republican senators partying after the judge was confirmed to the Supreme Court. While I did enjoy the skit, I recognized that it was designed to make the viewer think as well as laugh. So, what part resonated with me? I managed to pinpoint a quote by Cecily Strong, who played senator Susan Collins in the skit: “I think it’s important to believe women until it’s time to stop. But…you know, I’m a guy’s gal, okay?” While it was intended to mock Collins for not supporting her own gender, this quote brings up a more serious question: why would anyone support a cause that damages their own ‘people’? Why root against the progress of your own team?
To me, it seems similar to a Pingry student rooting for the other team during a sports event. You may ask yourself why any Pingry student would do such a thing. The answer is simple: they must feel a stronger affiliation with the other school than they do with Pingry. Perhaps they are indifferent and throw their support behind the opponent, seemingly more deserving of it. Maybe they choose to root for a friend on the other team.
But is this really why people vote against causes that could potentially benefit them? For instance, it seems hard to believe that any woman could feel a stronger affiliation with “sexist” policies or actions than they do with “feminist” ones. It seems even harder for me to believe that a woman could outright dislike feminism. There must be some reason why some people are able to forsake a group that they are expected to support, much like our hypothetical student who decided not to root for Pingry.
It is important to remember that many people will simply disagree with me; causes that I deem harmful to the progress of women or other groups may seem beneficial to some. However, there are others who recognize a cause as damaging to their ‘team,’ yet still support it. I have decided that the root of this decision is the selfishness ingrained in our society. This may seem paradoxical– wouldn’t selfish people support a cause that benefits them? Well, they do. Selfish people support causes that benefit them as individuals, not the groups with which they identify. For example, many believe that our current national leadership is opposed to causes that benefit women, but this does not seem to quell support from some women who remain unaffected. If a Pingry sports team wins or loses, the average student is unaffected and is at liberty to root for either side. As long as people care more about what affects them, we will continue to vote based on personal interest rather than the interest of our political, racial, and sexual groups.
The problem that we, as a society, then face is how to encourage stronger affiliation with one’s various groups. According to Alexander Hamilton, humans are inherently selfish, but I am unconvinced that persuading people to vote for the good of their “team” is a lost cause. Since it is more selfish than voting strictly for the good of society, while still less selfish than voting for individual gain, I find voting for one’s societal groups to be a middle ground that many should tend towards. It may even help people make better decisions that benefit themselves. For instance, if I considered my identity as an American, a woman, a student, a daughter, etc. while voting, I would likely end up making a choice that was best for both me personally and for everyone who shares those qualities with me.
So, let’s summarize. We support causes that are potentially damaging to our own societal groups based on our own intrinsic, inevitable selfishness, and the only solution is to entirely reimagine what we should see as important. A bit extreme, I know. But, the best place to start is within ourselves: remember to take others into consideration when making decisions that affect them.
By Avidan Shah ’21
The swim season has just kicked into full gear, and the Pingry boys’ swim team is ready for another promising season. Although some fast swimmers graduated last year, the team is still very strong and has a lot of potential. Both captains Leighton Mayers (VI) and Kevin Ma (VI) are ambitious in their goals for the 2018-19 season, looking for the team “to be ranked first in the state as we were last year and continue our undefeated record,” Ma says. Last year was one of the best seasons for Pingry swimming in all of Pingry history, going completely undefeated throughout the season and even placing 3rd in the country in our school division. The team hopes to once again defeat their rivals, Bridgewater Raritan High School, another formidable team. One event to anticipate will be their specialty 200 medley relay, which is an event divided among 4 swimmers, each swimming 50 meters. The event starts with backstroke, then breaststroke and butterfly, and finishes with an explosive freestyle sprint. They hope to have a victorious season no matter what, and most importantly to have fun!
Brynn Weisholtz ’20
With last year’s record of 8-9, the girls’ ice hockey team is ready to begin another exciting season led by Captains Clare Hall (VI) and Sophia Smith (VI).
Starting goalie Emma Barrison (V) said, “I think the season will be really good because we have improved a lot since last year. We have a slightly smaller team this year, so we have to rely on each other to become stronger and that has put a lot of pressure on us to become better as a team.” This growth is evident: in their first game against Chatham they lost only by one point as opposed to last year’s nine.
The team looks promising, but the hardest is yet to come: some of their toughest competitors (Princeton Day School, Immaculate Heart, and Morristown Beard) are scheduled to play the girls soon. Pingry supporters are looking forward to cheering the on the girls throughout the season.
By Brynn Weisholtz ’20
From November 28th to December 1st, Ethan Malzberg (VI), Nia Phillips (VI), and Noelle Mullins (V) and 19 faculty members attended the annual People of Color Conference (PoCC)/Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Nashville, Tennessee. The mission of PoCC is to “provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools,” whereas SDLC “focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community.” The conferences are run by the National Association of Independent Schools.
Surrounded by activists, teachers, and fellow students from around the country, Malzberg, Phillips, and Mullins attended lectures, took part in group discussions, and shared their opinions on the issues that face our society today. The regularly engaged in activities with their family groups, which were smaller breakaway groups of 50 students meant to serve as a microcosm of the conference at large. The three students also attended affinity groups – larger meetings that brought together all attendees of certain identifiers – including Black/African, Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ+. Finally, the conference pulled in a handful of high profile keynote speakers, including CNN journalist Lisa Ling and former white extremist turned author Christian Piccolini.
Near the end of the conference, Malzberg, Phillips, and Mullins created their own activity based on what they had learned at the conference and presented it to the Pingry faculty who attended. While presenting, “many of the teachers were able to open up and speak about their personal struggles and experiences dealing with identity in their lives. It was so impactful for me to delve deeper into my teachers and their lives, but to also see how diverse and interesting our teachers are,” said Mullins.
The students, attending PoCC to initiate their work on the Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC) at Pingry, were pushed out of their comfort zones in a deeply diverse community. According to Mullins, “I had never in my life been around so many people who were as committed to activism as I am. It was amazing.”
Not only did the event influence the students, but the teachers were also greatly affected by this experience. Dr. Megan Jones said her biggest takeaway came from the topics the workshops presented. “One workshop discussed how the faculty can foster respectful dialogue between people with different points of view concerning contentious issues. Another workshop leader discussed how one can determine the differences between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. The workshops were really helpful and thought-provoking,” said Dr. Jones. Dr. Delvin Dinkins noted that his biggest takeaway reflected the themes – “harmony, discord, and the notes in between,” and that to “achieve harmony you have to recognize that there are going to be a lot of bumps, twists, and turns on the journey there. Something harmonious might be fleeting for a very finite period of time and then it becomes discordant and then you have to go through the process again.”
While talking about the student’s presentation, Ms. Meghan Finegan said, “Ethan, Nia, and Noelle posed questions that forced us to reflect and really talk about our feelings related to everything we’d been learning over the past few days. They led it beautifully and it was very emotional; many of us were in tears with our heightened awareness and gratitude for being there.”
Overall, Malzberg said, “PoCC answered so many questions I never knew I had. As a white person, I had always accepted the notion that politics are life-threatening for people of color without understanding why; hearing the experiences of the diverse array of fifty students in my ‘family group’ gave me the context and the ‘why’ to this question.”
By Andrew Wong ’22
The boys’ winter track team has now been renamed to the boys’ indoor track team. Despite losing many seniors after a strong season last year, the team is back, being led by Captain Nick Robinson (VI). This year, although comprising a small roster, the boys are determined to push through the harsh winter weather and build a strong core of runners over the course of the season.
With training sessions every day in the cold weather, Head Coach Chris Shilts said, “Despite the weather not being in our favor, we are going to work hard so we can to improve as much as we can.” With new freshmen to fill in the gaps left by the seniors, Robinson said, “My hope is to be able to put together at least a couple of very competitive relay teams with our small roster, and win big at our State Championship on February 16th.”