Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sparta Orchestra Students Work With A Professional

Written by: Fiona Sipple

Students in the Philharmonic and Freshman Chamber Orchestras got the amazing opportunity to work with professionals part of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra during their class period. The atmosphere in the room was as dynamic between the students and conductor as it was in the music. The rehearsal took place as any other, but the students were able to hear constructive criticism from a professional standpoint. "The conductor, Jose, gave us all a once in a lifetime experience. We learned what it was like to play under a professional and we learned how to make music, not just play it," says Freshman Jenna Bargfrede, first chair Violin in the Freshman Orchestra. The opportunity was a once in a lifetime experience as well as a great learning experience. Students earned professional help to improve their playing skills and overall performance, no one else could have asked for a better opportunity.

Members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sparta District Implements SRO Position in Schools

Written by: Elise Kerim 

Notice any additions in the school building upon return from break?

Not the art murals.

Not the water bottle station -  that's been there for awhile.

Rather, a School Resource Officer. The Sparta Board of Education has implemented the position of an SRO in schools in an effort to increase safety and security for the district starting on Monday, April 9. There are different classes of SRO positions across the nation, however, the one Sparta has is a current serving police officer, Officer David Pridham. As a result of a 'job opening' within the police department, Officer Pridham has been assigned to be the designated SRO in all five district buildings. He has been trained in the position and was picked as a result of his interest in working for young people and schools.

An efficient School Resource Officer works in three strands that work cohesively:

EDUCATION: this may include going into classrooms when asked. For example, the SRO could be a guest speaker in a history class, discussing Amendment IV with students or going into health classes and informing students on signs of drug use and abuse.

CAMPUS SAFETY: includes general and additional safety concerns of the school which a police officer would be equipped to handle, such as emergency response management.

LEGAL ISSUES: issues that go above the standard school Code of Conduct that involves the law. The SRO would be necessary when a true legal matter arises versus a suspension of a student.

The responsibility of an SRO differs from those of the security guards at the high school. Security officers at Sparta High, Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Zill, are not expected to deal with legal matters and education in the classroom.

According to Vice Principal Mr. Schels regarding the new position, he stated that there was an SRO during the time Mr. Schels was a teacher. (Previously, Mr. Schels was a teacher and then the Social Studies and World Language Superintendent before becoming one of the Vice Principals of SHS.) Nearly a decade ago, the school faced budget cuts at the state level and the SRO was cut, Schels stating that it was "one of the tough choices made by the Board of Education."

Regarding his position, Officer Pridham stated, "I'm hoping kids will feel safer in the school and feel like they can talk to me. I want to be able to point them in the right direction." In the resurgence of the position, Officer Pridham is housed in an office next to the auxiliary gym. "I get how life as a student is difficult," Pridham continues, "I had two kids in the district. Students have their home lives, they're playing a sport, working, and it can get to be a lot." The stigma of a police officer in uniform may be intimidating to some, however the position will "absolutely not" impact school climate, according to the Board of Education and school administration. "I'm always here to talk. I want to be able to point them in the right direction," Pridham proudly states.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Sun Will Come Out... To-WORO?

Written by: Kanita Tariq 

Sparta residents have experienced snow storm after snow storm this particular winter season, and for some, the unusually extreme weather has been neverending and excessive. Students had the prospect of potential snow days or delays (even delays that turned into snow days!) nearly every week in February leading into March. One thing all members of the Sparta High student body and faculty alike can relate to is checking the famous Woroworld blog for weather updates and snow day predictions at least once a period the day before an anticipated storm. However, it is an uncommonly known fact that the man behind the blog is none other than a former science teacher at Sparta High School, Mr. Mark Worobetz.

The weather had always fascinated Mr. Worobetz since he was a student himself. "Weather will always impact you. It isn't like sports - next year's quarterback doesn't affect you [personally] the way weather does," he says. The blog itself began as a tool for the classroom when he taught at Sparta High. Before Google Classroom existed, Mr. Worobetz used his blog to post supplementary materials for his classes and added snow day forecasts as a bonus feature. Although he is now retired, he decided to maintain it - getting nearly 400 to 500 hits per post, and a couple thousand when the weather gets crazy, like it had in the last few weeks. 

Mr. Worobetz now resides in Florida, but he uses a variety of sources to collect data for his predictions. He monitors the weather channel, the National Weather Service,  blogs from local meteorologists, and analyzes the situation via a security camera installed in his Sussex County home. He also factors in the timing of each storm and how bus and school schedules would be affected. His passion is clear, as the blog is extremely important to him - "I'm updating weather from the golf course! Excuse the spelling mistakes at times!" 

It's hard to believe, but weather (specifically climate change) has been politicized to become a national controversy. With Mr. Worobetz's dedication to weather, he has a strong opinion on the subject. "The thing about climate change is, there's a consensus in the science community about it. It's like cigarettes causing cancer - there's a consensus in the medical field. It personally upsets me that it is considered by some to be a 'hoax,' implying that there's some sort deception about it. Back when I was young, the government relied on scientists. Now, they vilify them." 

As spirited as Mr. Worobetz is, he's not interested in chasing tornadoes as one may think. "I'd be more worried it would ruin my car! I understand the adrenaline rush, but I'll just watch rocket launches from my house in Florida for now!" 

All in all, Mr. Worobetz looks back at his time as a teacher at SHS fondly. His advice to students? "As long as you have a passion for whatever you do, no matter what it is, enthusiasm gets you through a lot. You hardly ever hear of anyone getting fired for being too passionate." 

And of course, we had to ask- can we expect spring in the near future? He teases with a chuckle, "there will be rain at the end of this week."  

Kanita Tariq, Lauren Groff, Mr. Mark Worobetz (AKA Woroworld), Elise Kerim

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sparta High School Announces Top 10 Students in Senior Class

Written by: Elise Kerim 

As the 2017-2018 school year comes to its last stretch, final grade point averages have been calculated for the graduating class of 2018 and final class rankings have been released. With pride, the Sparta High School administration and Guidance department announced the Top 10 students in the senior class. These students have made an exemplary effort in their studies while balancing other activities and responsibilities. Being in the top ten is a big honor as a result of the hard work and determination that has been invested in their educations.

The ranking is as follows:
1. Alexandra Poret
2. Audrey Biss
3. Bader Al-Aydi
4. Melissa Nolan
5. Erin Walsh
6. Eileen Huhn
7. Victoria Heim
8. Paige Smith
9. Soumya Duggirala
10. Benjamin Dottinger

Speaking with Valedictorian Alex Poret on how she has been able to balance all of her responsibilities, she joked by saying, "not sleeping!"
"I've maintained an intense drive," Poret continued. "I find it helpful to beat procrastination by filling my time with binal relaxation and productivity. If I'm stressed to the point where I can't do work, I'll go for a run. I also skip around from assignments - when I can't focus on one, I'll move to something else that I have to do instead of stopping altogether and watching TV. I've been able to remove useless down time and put it into something productive."

Paige Smith, who will be attending Indiana University in the fall simply stated that she feels relieved.

Victoria Heim feels a sense of pride. "I'm happy for my other peers who ended up in the top ten. It was four years of hard work and studying!" Audrey Biss agreed with Heim, adding, "I'd say I'm thankful for the opportunities that I've had and that all of the hard work has paid off!"

Bader Al-Aydi, best known by his peers as Buddy, commented that, "Getting into the top ten took a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice, but all that hard work and sacrifice was well worth it in the end."

Similar to most of his peers, Ben Dottinger is feeling the stresses of the college admissions season. "It seems to me as though rank hasn't had much of a profound impact on my application," Dottinger started. "I know people of higher rank with seemingly better applications who have been waitlisted or denied for the same schools I've been accepted to. I'm waiting to hear back from most of my schools, but I will be attending somewhere to help me fulfill prerequisites for medical school."

Beyond the classroom, their peers know these students to be role models and friends as well as someone they can always approach for assistance as a resource before the teacher.
As students, it can be helpful to go to one of your peers when you have questions on an assignment or specific topic - especially when it's eleven in the evening and teachers won't be answering emails!

The Oracle and Sparta learning community would like to congratulate these students on their academic achievement and wish them the highest success in their future endeavors.

Credits: Sparta High School
SHS Top 10 Students, 2018. Left to right: Buddy Al-Aydi, Paige Smith, Erin Walsh, Victoria Heim, Audrey Biss, Alex Poret, Soumya Duggirala, Melissa Nolan, Eileen Huhn, Ben Dottinger

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sparta High School Participates In National School Walkout

Written by: Taylor Muse

Today, March 14, 2018, the Sparta High School student body showed their respect for the seventeen lives that were lost in the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. After discussion between the Board of Education, Student Council officers, Vice Principals and Principal Mrs. Ferraro, the administration allowed for students to participate in the national walkout. While not all of Sparta was willing to stand outside for 17 minutes, the majority of the students were passionate about what they were taking a stance on. No one should have been walking out solely to miss class - the purpose of the walkout was to remember peers who lost their lives due to the tragedy while in silence.

Chloe Bavaro, a sophomore attending Sparta High, quickly shut down the people who weren’t considerate of the others who had silenced their voices in solidarity. “We are here to honor 17 people who had lost their lives. If you don’t respect that, then please go inside,” she pronounced to a group of students who were speaking for a prolonged period of time and didn’t have the sufficient amount of education on the issue. The remaining minutes were observed in silence as students reflected on what they can do, as the future of this country, to create change.

Students walking in after the conclusion of the seventeen minutes.

Immediately following the walkout and into the student lunch period, there was a meeting between students, administrators, and police officers that took place in the auditorium. This allowed for students to ask as many questions as they wanted to the panel get some clarification on the new safety adjustments made to the school.  

Members of the safety panel whom answered questions from
concerned students.

Here is some of what went down:

Chloe Bavaro, Sophomore: “Regarding the drill in which we go down to the track (evacuation/bomb threat drill), what will happen in the case that there is an active shooter?“

Sparta PD: “We will sweep the area before sending any kids there. Each threat and action that happens may have to give us a different movement”.

Officer Hannam answers a question asked by a student.

“Are you thinking of putting metal detectors in all 42 doors at this school?”

Sparta PD, administration: "There is a Safety and Security program being held on Saturday, May 19 in which a list of safety measures will be discussed. This will discuss changing infrastructure, adding fences, etc. However, to have metal detectors everywhere will mean a patrol must be at every door. That’s something that will be discussed.”

Taylor Brady, Junior: “As far as noticing unusual behavior, if a student comes to administration about another student acting strange, would it be handled in any particular way?”

Sparta PD: “We believe that every piece of information should be attacked viciously.”

Emily Vreeland, Sophomore: “I have noticed that since the (Parkland, FL) shooting there has been a patrol car on campus. How will that benefit us? How do you feel that changes up the security?”

Administration (Mrs.Ferraro), Sparta PD: “We want to show any type of option or plan, we want to show that we are here for the students. As far as security goes, this is to stay on top of suspicious activity. However, this is not new after the Parkland shooting. Sparta PD comes in at least three times a week to the school and the patrol car has been coming to the school at some point during the week for the past four years."

Jade Criso, Sophomore: “Speaking from what I would do in the case of an active shooter being in the school... I can say that I would run to my nearest exit and go into the woods to be safe. I wouldn’t stay put in a classroom. If you have kids, what would you expect of them?”

Sparta PD: “I can respect that. We are changing the way that we do lockdowns. We are changing how certain rooms evacuate. If we knew that the shooter was somewhere in the hall, we would get everyone else out as soon as possible, however the kids in that hall would stay there safe and huddled. Keep in mind though, in that situation, if you were trying to flee the school, and I as an officer was coming in, you would most likely be put on the ground, held at gunpoint and handcuffed because we don’t know who you are. That would also take time away from the officers to actually do their job (in handcuffing the appropriate person). They are trying to catch their targets, unfortunately though, if someone got in their way it’s just taking that time away to make sure that that person isn’t the one they’re looking for. The safest bet is to stay in the school and stay covered.”

Elise Kerim, Senior: “If we were to evacuate in the case of a school shooter, where are we going? The shooter can hear us moving and is simply  able to run to the area where we are fleeing to - how would that work? How fast can we get emergency buses?” (This was in regards to the administration proposing a grid system. With this system, when a section, or “grid” of the building is clear, students and teachers that are in classrooms of the given area are able to evacuate the building.)

Sparta PD: “Stay in the area that we clear out for your safety. You will not be released until the shooter, or whatever the scenario may be, is taken under control. We have access to all the buses available at the time. Most of the time, since we all have our phones, mom and dad come rushing through. We will move you to a different, safe location. Of course, we don’t want everyone in a chaotic scene, our response time will be extremely fast - within a minute. It will all be under control.”

Sawsan Srour, Freshman: “First, thank you for letting us participate in this walkout. (The federal government) is in debate of teachers with firearms. How do you feel?”

Administration: “I personally do not endorse having teachers with firearms. Teachers have a job to do. That’s to teach and instruct. They aren’t experts on fire arms, and taking a course to train still won’t make them experts. Let the officers handle it. Teachers need to be channeling and huddling students at that point.”

Sarah Dioneda, Junior: “What do you plan on doing to change the future of our safety drills and our new laws? Are we the students supposed to just wait until we can vote?”

Sparta PD, administration: “We are working on safety and security. We are hoping to expand security around campus. We can vote, but the student voice has proven to be stronger than those of us who have been voting for many years. The message from the student is very powerful. We have been trying to change for a long time and we haven’t been able to do so. If every eighteen year old who can vote does, we can change any law. We can’t share what we would do personally (when voting). We need to educate ourselves about the laws. That’s the best we can do.”

Principal Mrs. Ferraro addresses a student

Kevin Moran, Sophomore: “Can we participate in the walkout April 20th all day?”

Mrs. Ferraro: “It will be counted as an absence. There are many safety concerns when it comes to this because technically it’s a walk. Students would be walking to the police department, municipal building, etc. Therefore, once off campus students will be cutting because it’s not encouraged due to the safety issue. It will have to be discussed.”

Next school year, outsiders will only be allowed to enter the building if they have made an appointment. Additionally, all schools in the Sparta Township Public School system will be implementing the "lobby guard" system, which requires visitors to get their picture taken and scan their licenses before entering the building - any red flags that come up will be subject to investigation and denied entry to the building.

 Spartans, there you have it. Today’s walkout was successful. In your view, were your questions answered? Any more questions you want answered? If so, leave your comments in this blog post and/or email administration regarding your concerns and get your answers. We want you to feel safe. Thank you to all who participated and thanks to administration for allowing this to all go down with no penalty.

Be the change you want to see.

Students gather for the panel to have their voices heard.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Why Media Representation Is So Important

Written by: Kanita Tariq

With Black Panther, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, breaking box office records across the nation, it’s important to think of why this particular stand-alone superhero film was such a phenomenon. Since its release on February 16th caused a frenzy with fans of the Marvel Universe and otherwise, it has become vital to address the importance of representation in the media to viewing audiences.

Hollywood has remained a racial battleground since its existence - with a slight yet crucial increase in diversity in the 2017 Oscar nominees and winners.

So why is Black Panther introducing such a mania amongst audiences- more so than any other superhero film released to date? How is it single-handedly initiating cultural conversations between people of all ages?

The answer is simple but complex. Black Panther’s success should not be a surprise. With minority-led film ideas often left on the back-burner, many audiences yearn for some form of representation. When millions of people can see themselves mirrored on the big screen with a variety of roles to identify with, films are bound to have such a profound impact.

With Black Panther’s positive depiction of life on the African continent, black heroes and villains, and well-executed portrayal of human complexity, its success is well-earned, and a strong reminder that everyone’s story deserves to be told.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Curtain Closes for Mary Poppins the Musical

Written by: Lauren Groff

The lights are down, the curtain is closed, and Sparta High School's production of Mary Poppins is finished. The dazzling production filled with singing, dancing - and yes, even flying - appeared “practically perfect” on stage, but not without the help of many people behind the scenes. Aside from just the actors and actresses on stage, multiple stage crew members and volunteers gave their time to help create the set, decorate the auditorium, control the lighting, organize the props, sell and bake concessions, and so much more.

The musical, which was set to showcase March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, landed right in the middle of the recent nor'easter snow storm that brought cold temperatures and snow barreling towards the east coast. However, the cast and crew did not let a little difficult weather get in the way. The Friday March 2nd show was promptly rescheduled for Sunday March 4, which drew many young children and their families into the packed SHS auditorium. All three performances drew exceptionally large crowds, and lit up the faces of audience members of all ages. Erin Vreeland, an SHS senior who portrayed the role of the Banks family house maid Mrs. Brill, spoke fondly of the experience. “Having Mary Poppins be my fourth and last musical at Sparta was the best experience of my high school career. This year's show was one to never forget and I`m so thankful for every second of it!”

Left to right: Claire Riley as George Banks, Sara Vincelette as Winifred Banks,
Steven Sullivan as Michael Banks, Lauren Groff as Jane Banks 

Featured dancers twirl away. Left to right: Esha Iyer, Sofia Cook, Noelle Valario

Mary Poppins (Nina Strowe) and Mrs. Corry (Tessa Gori) immerse the Banks children
into the magic of the Talking Shop

Burt (Henry Silberstein) flies high above rooftops with chimney sweeps below.

Mary Poppins may have left the SHS stage, but the happiness it brought to hundreds still remains. With every year comes a new musical, but this year's production was certainly one not to be forgotten.