Monday, November 20, 2017

Movie/Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Written by: Sarim Awan 

Murder on the Orient Express is murder-mystery book by Agatha Christie. The story and subsequent movie follows Hercule Poirot, a fictional world-renowned Belgian detective who seeks to solve a murder on the famous European train in the 1930s.

In the winter of 1934, Hercule Poirot looks forward to taking a break from his work after solving a theft in Jerusalem. While traveling, Poirot meets his friend, Bouc, the director of the Orient Express. Receiving a telegram from London about an impending case, Poirot must return home, with Bouc offering him a place onboard the unusually booked Express.
On the train, Samuel Ratchett, an unpleasant American businessman, asks Poirot to serve as his bodyguard for the three days that they are on the train. Ratchett has received threatening letters from an unknown person. Poirot refuses and that night, Poirot hears strange noises coming from Ratchet's compartment, and witnesses a woman in a red kimono running down. This leads to Porit hunting down his killer.

I think the book was better than the movie! The book constantly kept me engaged. If you are a murder mystery fan I fully recommend the movie, you would probably enjoy it more than me.  If you're indifferent on the genre, it's a good movie overall.

Credit: 20th Century Fox 

Chromebook Cases Are Here!

Written by: Lauren Groff

After two months of anticipation, protective covers for the student Chromebooks provided by the Sparta School District have finally arrived. This year’s distribution of the laptops to all Sparta Middle and High School students has lead to an increase in the daily usage of technology in classrooms. From their own personal laptop, students are able to access all of the homework, classwork, and supplementary materials assigned by their teachers through Google Classroom.   
The covers have tough rubber bumps for protection.

The covers provided by the district are clear with tough rubber bumpers and snap on easily to both the front and back of the computer. The protective shell allows for personalization such as stickers and pictures, and gives students a way for them to express themselves in a fun and unique way. The majority of high school students carry their backpacks with them to and from each class period, with their laptop resting inside. Setting the backpack on the floor multiple times throughout the course of the day could potentially lead to unintentionally cracking the laptop, so sturdy cases prove essential. Students will be keeping the same Chromebook that has been issued to them until they graduate unless it requires replacing, so preserving the new and expensive laptops distributed throughout the district is of high importance.

The new clear Chromebook cases allow for
personalization with stickers and more

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Process of Picking A Senior Quote

Written by: Elise Kerim 

Seniors! Before we know it, it will be June 22nd. Let’s make the most of the time we have left in high school, just remember that your senior quotes are due on November 21st. Check your school email to complete the form. That’s just five days away, but how many of us have submitted them yet? I know I haven’t because I want it to be just right - honestly, I don’t know if college applications or picking my senior quote has been more stressful! Here’s my (very relatable) thought process the past two weeks:

  1. My Personal Impact
I definitely stand out against all 276 other peers, right? Of course - I’m pretty great! I have some insightful thoughts and I must make sure no one forgets that. I’ve changed so much in the past four years! I must say I’m kinda neat, into my studies, like to have a good am I supposed to sum up the past four and my qualities in 125 characters? I got nothing.

  1. Pinterest.
Okay, forget that - it’s going to be too complicated to sum myself up, that’s what the photos and signatures are for. Let me just do a quick search of senior quotes. I’m sure there’s something that will fit me perfectly. Senior quotes have been a tradition for so long! There’s bound to be someone out there that was exactly like me as a high school senior, just more creative in their thought process. It’s not stealing. It’s borrowing.

  1. Remember when…?
How about something everyone can relate to? Bringing us back to things we have experienced as a class will sure hit us right in our feels and make everyone smirk when they get the yearbook. How about an inside joke only our grade will understand from that one assembly? Or a eulogy to Friday Special? What about an ode to silly bandz? Or that time our whole grade came out to the pep rally and had the most attendance, loudest screams, and dominated the basketball shoot-out? A pat on the back to us for surviving those great years of NJ ASK? Ugh, no, I’m definitely trying too hard. It needs to be natural. I need to rant about this. I JUST NEED A QUOTE.

  1. Mom Knows Best?
No, mom, I don’t want my senior quote to be “be yourself”. I just want something that screams me and everything I am at this, I don’t want it to be “dont worry, be happy” either. Thanks though. I’ll think of something else, something that’s not, “nothing is impossible”. Too generic.
Credit: The Artist Market's Online Blog

  1. Just Do It.
Okay, my quote is due in five days and I still haven’t submitted anything. I’m looking everywhere for inspiration - what about that Chevy commercial? I mean, I have my licence, maybe I can write about how I failed the first time? Or how about my favorite clothing brand? Just do it...I just did high school! Golden. At this point, I’m trying to twist everything to be my own personal brand. IT IS SO HARD.

  1. Shoutout
Okay, it’s not about me. Let’s think of someone who has helped me throughout high school and give them some props. Without them, who knows if I would even be graduating! “Hi Mom”? Or thanks to that one teacher for reviewing my essays, Ms. Deluccia for aiding with my constant technical issues. Who are we kidding, they’re great, but Google is the real MVP.

  1. Take A Stand
Well, what better way to remember my senior year then to take a stand on an issue I’m passionate about? It’ll remind me of what was important to me and a great way to be remembered and to see if that same passion followed me.
Credit: Haefrl 


  1. I’ll just quote my favorite movie/book/show.
I’ve definitely read something that sticks out to me and is the epitome of exactly how I feel about my own ambition. Or hey, what about my go-to movie every time I’m up late writing my English essays? Perfect.

Remember to order your yearbook online! Make your senior quote something that’s true to you, something great for us to look back on. Now holds the anticipation of reading everyone’s quotes! Teachers and staff - what were your senior quotes? Let us know in the comments section!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Don't Be Scared... She's Just A Snake!

Written by: Sara Collver

This week, I interviewed Mr. Phillips on the newest addition to Sparta High School, a snake named Miss Wiggles (named by his 7 year old son). Here are some things you should know about our new scaly friend. Miss. Wiggles may live up to twenty years and in that time, she will grow to be approximately three to five feet. The new albino corn snake will help the students make connections to the environment. Feeling brave? Mr. Phillips may let you hold her!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Veterans Day Program at Sparta High

Written by: Elise Kerim 

Grateful we are that they’ve given their service to the United States of America, we are further grateful that veterans have given their time to speak to Sparta students. On November 7th, Sparta High hosted its annual Veterans Day Program for veterans in the area to share their stories and for students to express compassion.

A common theme between the veterans was that they have enjoyed their experience in the military, which veteran Doyle wholeheartedly called “a great organization.” If they could, they would do it again. Donald Kimble (Army) encouraged those who were thinking about going into the military to do so, and to consider special skills they have to help them excel. Some of the veterans became visibly upset when they were sharing their stories, even stating that they were not proud of some of the things they did. This program instantly takes them back to being a 20-something year old young adults putting their lives on the line. Jack Tripp, whom served from 1966-1970 enlisted in the Air Force because he knew he would be drafted and wanted to control his own destiny. In a related manner, Elio Deluccia, an Italian immigrant, was a typical senior in high school applying to colleges. He could not attend a state college since he was not yet an American citizen - so he became one. Then after graduation, he was drafted into the Army and served for four years. Douglas Nobile, who is a Sparta High School alum (the first class to graduate all four years at SHS!) served along his peers; he even had to face seeing five of his classmates die in Vietnam.

The stories shared by the veterans are stuff we can never find in our history books. We are extremely grateful for this program to give us further insight from a soldier’s perspective, making students even more appreciative of their bravery. When asked what the most thrilling experience was during their time serving, the veterans went back and forth between the things they’ve faced - the remarks of “....jumping out of airplanes in a foreign country...getting out of a fire and still being alive, there’s no drug known to man that’ll give you a greater high than that,” were some of the most highlighted ones. The long years of service are followed by immense joy and pride - one of the younger veterans even said while he was serving in the USMC he was given the option to came home, but he refused. He felt that, “If I came home, then many other guys wouldn’t. It was the best four years of my life.” Henry Kaplan learned a lot about himself and taught himself a lot in his three years with the army. There was a moment of silence initiated by Kaplan for veteran Charlie Hearn. Hearn had earned the bronze star and previously spoke at the Veterans Day Program, but unfortunately passed away. “It just takes about two seconds to say ‘thank you for your service’ to a vet,” Kaplan began, “but it goes a long way for us to hear those words.”
So, thank you for your service. Thank you to the following for speaking to our school:
  • Tony Gallopo
  • Jack Tripp
  • Peter Weckenman
  • Doug Nobile
  • Jack Schwartz
  • Donald Kimble
  • Rudi Bethman
  • Elio Deluccia
  • Joe Horfman

Thank you to our very own:
  • Tony Lombardo
  • William Brennan
  • Dan Zill
  • Jerry Carter
  • Thomas Valleau
  • Eric Hood
  • Christopher Dugan

To all of our veterans, thank you for your service and bravery. Signing off with a quote from President George Bush: “Throughout the course of American history, courageous men and women have taken up arms to secure, defend, and maintain these core principles upon which our Nation’s freedoms depend.”

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Written by: Brandon Drapeau 

I recently fathomed the idea of having the opportunity to move to Mars. I decided to write my thoughts down, because I can’t be the only one.

What if I were to be able to live on Mars? Well, it would be incredible. I would be able to create a new civilization on a whole new planet and make discoveries. I would go down in history as the first man to live on Mars. I could be the leader of civilization, the first civilization on Mars. I would go places where no human has ever gone before. At first glance, having the ability to live on Mars would be pretty cool, and if you were given the option to tag along, your first thought would be “yes!” But there’s a deeper aspect to the question - would you be able to handle leaving your friends and family behind? Would you be able to live on your own, alone, left to fend for yourself? Even if you were provided technology to assure your survival, and you would have enough food, would you be able to leave everything behind?

Personally, I wouldn’t be able to. I like my life the way it is. I like going to school and seeing my friends. Soon I will be able to drive, and I have a full life ahead of me to live with my family and friends. I would miss birthdays, holidays, going to college, getting married, having kids. While it sounds amazing, frankly, I don’t want to throw my life away just to live on a new planet. I would discover incredible things, but where I am now is good for me, and I love my family and friends more than the idea of living on Mars. Everything we have ever known is on Earth - our family, our friends, our memories - yet we still treat it like garbage. We should treat our planet much better than we do, may it as complicated as buying an electric car, or as simple as recycling a water bottle, because in the long run, Earth is all we have.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

AP Government and Politics Takes on Election Day

Written by: Elise Kerim 

Connecting a new class and a new election season makes for great discussion on the mind behind the future of the world. In its second year of launch, Ms. Scott’s AP U.S. Government and Politics class is on a roll - whether they’re discussing the founding of our country or debating modern issues they are passionate about, this class offers something relevant to every single student. Without doubt, the gubernatorial election has been a hot topic in this class, its relevance being brought up nearly every day. Most adult Americans don’t know enough about the politics that affect our day-to-day lives, so it’s amazing to see how much the young voters and leaders of the world know. When asked how taking AP Government and Politics is beneficial especially in a time where the nation is so divided by politics, Ms. Scott said, “We need to come back together politically because the divisiveness doesn’t produce results for us.  A step in that process is understanding how government works and how to become an active and informed citizen who participates regularly in the political process. We need to learn that listening to each other and finding common ground is the basis of a functioning government.”
To educate themselves from here on out as they begin to register to vote, the AP GOPO students familiarized themselves with the format of the ballot - not only the candidates that would be running, but especially the two ballot questions included with every election. This time around, both referendums were important to the students: one being adding an amendment to an environmental protection law and the other to provide bonds to public libraries across the state.
With the last governor having the lowest approval rating, students in AP Government came to a consensus that this election would be an important one. But besides their beliefs, local politics is important. National politics always takes center stage, yet our state and local politics illustrates the issues that are close to home and affect us more directly. Local elections have the “my vote doesn’t count” stigma surrounding it - but in fact, in these smaller elections, your vote counts more. The mentality in the past few years has been to heavily consider the presidential elections but discount state and local elections as being important in our lives. Comprised of juniors and seniors, if the laws and officeholders aren’t affecting them already, they sure will soon after they exit high school. It’s amazing to see students, some of whom cannot even vote, looking deeply into the candidates and the issues surrounding this election. It’s more than a class requirement - Ms. Scott agrees that the students go above and beyond in their research. If they were voting, the students would consider these important issues, just as much as adults do: where taxpayer money is going, tax reform, quality education, and environmental reform. During discussion, senior Serena Calafati says, “I feel like if I wasn’t in this class, I wouldn’t be aware of the issues.” Ms. Scott retaliates with, “even with all the lawn signs?” “Yeah,” Serena began, “it’s so strange. We’re driving, you know, we’re on the go. And there’s fewer ads in general - but for the presidential race, it’s everywhere.”
How do we stop ignorance in politics? Students in AP Government and Politics are there because they want to be - but should civics be taught from a young age and made mandatory through the years? We learn United States history various times - in elementary school, in 8th grade, 10th and 11th grade. But when do we learn civics? In 7th grade … then the rest is up to you. These students believe civics should be taught from a young age: being taught to what voting is, going into the Constitution, and following up with it throughout high school as it becomes more relevant.

Signing off, voting for the first time today! Will you be doing the same?