Friday, December 14, 2012

Arts Education is Saving Students, Now They Have to Return the Favor

By Kaitlyn Kozinski

Being in school is not just about studying and getting good grades, it is about the experience and what you learn outside of a textbook that will prepare you for the real world.

While math and science can benefit a child to a certain extent, arts education goes beyond those basic classes. Every student can benefit from playing an instrument, acting in a play, painting a picture, or even building sets. Classes in music, theater, dance, and art can make a child a wellrounded individual; the skills they develop here can help in other subjects and beyond. Arts education is important and should continue to live on in schools. Without it, children would be losing valuable skills they are not be able to get anywhere else.

The current economy has caused many people to suffer and now the future of current students may be next. Schools today are losing more and more funding and with that comes harder decisions on what to cut and what not to cut. Unfortunately, arts are the first ones to go. A lot of people underestimate the arts and what benefits it can actually have on a child. Many people might think that a child devoting his or her time to learn how to play the saxophone is not developing essential skills, but a child who is learning calculus is; however, that is not the case.

In fact, most of the time, the child playing the instrument is building better skills than the child taking a math class because the skills they develop in music go beyond the classroom, they transcends into the real world.

Music Skills Boost Test Scores

The education of a student can improve by miles if they simply pick up an instrument or sing in the chorus. A study at UCLA showed that students in the arts tend to have higher academic performances and overall higher test scores. Another study by College Board showed that arts students scored nearly 100 points better on their SATs than other students. That 100 points can mean the difference between getting into their dream school and settling on a lesser school because their scores were not up to par.

Music has been known to help brain function, which can enhance a child’s ability in problem solving. It can also help with children’s critical thinking, an essential skill that everyone needs to have. In addition, their understanding and memory can become stimulated. Having the skill of memorizing songs and lines for a play can be translated into memorizing dates and facts from their notes, making studying much easier and increasing their chances of doing well on a test.

The arts can also get kids excited about school. Participating in an event that makes them happy can change their entire attitude about going to classes and studying for tests. Completing a painting or mastering a piece on the piano makes them see what it is like to concentrate on one particular task, stick with it, and finish it. It releases a sense of accomplishment in the child that can empower them to follow through on projects in their academic subjects.

Arts Skills Are Life Skills

Arts education is something that can help students in all walks of life. They develop the necessary skills while in school and then once they graduate they are able to put them to good use. These gifts will last a lifetime and succeeding in the world would be very hard without them. Students involved in the arts develop a certain amount of life skills that set them up for various careers and challenges. Students will end up having the ability to make decisions, build their self-confidence, and accept responsibility thanks to the classes they took back in school. Performing in a show, in front of an audience takes an incredible amount of confidence and once someone overcomes that challenge, anything is possible. Job interviews are easier and talking in front of a group is not as nerve racking as it used to be.

Practicing and rehearsing takes a lot of discipline and responsibility. A student who has a goal and is able to achieve it is prized in the workplace. If a employer sees that a person had the determination to learn, practice, and master the art of music, theater, or art then they would probably want to give them a job. They can tell that anything they give them to do, they will put their mind to it and complete it with 120% effort.

Playing in a band or performing in a show can also show that a person has good people skills and can work well within a group. Putting on a show does not just involve the star, everyone is important. The entire ensemble has to come together to make it sound and look amazing. Students must learn to work as a team and challenge themselves to hear other opinions and embrace new people. If the boss sees that someone is unable to get along with people then they are most likely going to get fired. Teamwork is extremely important and without it a business cannot survive.

An employer also cherishes a person who is creative and can come up with imaginative ideas to aid the business. Music and theater can lead students into a world of endless possibilities. Anyone can come up with an idea but it has to be new, fresh, and creative and arts students have that ability; their imaginations can lead them to very interesting places. Project ideas in art classes have no right and wrong answer, as long as the person stands by their decision and loves what they have come up with. The confidence and risk-taking abilities of a person can also factor into how the team will perceive the idea. Experience in theater performing enables one to appear and sound confident in what they are putting forth and team members will listen and appreciate the presentation. Confidence is a very hard quality to possess but it is essential in the workplace and gets people very far in life.

Finally, accepting criticism and harsh judgement can be taken from the stage to the office. Say the idea that was pitched didn’t work or someone goes on an interview and didn’t get the job, skills developed in the theater can help them make the best of a bad situation, similar to an audition. The director gives them constructive criticism, they take it, learn from what they did wrong, and apply it for the next time. Theater students are extremely resilient and are able to overcome harsh judgement and rejection.

The arts cannot be cut from schools. Students need these programs to show off their creativity and imagination. Not many schools have these types of outlets where children can express themselves and develop an impressive skill set in a short time. However, the arts do more than teach a student how to read music and recite lines, it helps them learn about life and that is one of the most important lessons the arts can teach. Many students would probably not be where they are today without the help and guidance of the arts throughout their middle school, high school, and college careers.

Saving Arts Education

If students want to continue to experience the benefits that music and theater have to offer, they have to get their parents, teachers, and fellow students involved and doing something for their school.

A public opinion survey found that 91% of people think that the arts are vital to a wellrounded education. It also found that 95% of people think the arts are important to creativity, self-expression, and individuality, and 87% believe the arts is important for schools to have in their curriculum and money should be raised to ensure that it stays in. Listen to these people and start raising money for your school and get music programs back and thriving.

Students will always benefit from music. The skills they learn in their formative years will last them their entire lives and their success is dependent on how they take these skills, face the world and survive in it. Arts education will help them survive and in order for them to do so it has to survive as well.

For more information on the benefits of arts education:

For information on how to help save arts education:

Kaitlyn Kozinski is a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring in Communication Arts. She loves journalism and writing but her first love is performing. She has been singing and acting her whole life. Kaitlyn is involved with the STAC Singers and the Lateare Players, performing in numerous concerts, plays, and musicals put on by the theater department. She plans on transferring to Ramapo College to further her education and get her degree in acting. Kaitlyn hopes to one day combine her loves of journalism and theater.

Life Lesson

By Kira Sherwood

In 1997, Brittany joined the PMYSL soccer league. It was there that she met her friends who changed her life. "We were bonded instantly and forever. We spent many hours together laughing, playing soccer, learning, winning, and losing. All of this as a team. All of this as friends. We stayed on the same team for almost 10 years together. Those days are over,” Brittany said.

Four years of high school brought a lot of changes into their lives. Different paths led them to different friends with different interests. “Even though we don't always see each other, we know there will always be a bond that no one will ever understand nor can we explain,” she added.

Fast forward to February 23, 2011. Brittany is awakened by her mother with tears running down her face.

"There's been an accident." My heart raced as she continued.

"Is she all right?” I cried, worried about her friend Kelly.

"She is in a coma and on life support. She wasn't wearing her seat belt."

Brittany’s thoughts that day were how could this be happening? We're supposed to celebrate our 18th birthday together. We're supposed to graduate together.

She immediately went to the hospital. “I was scared. I tried to prepare myself for what she would look like. I didn't do a very good job. It was devastating. I worked up the courage to talk to her so she could hear my voice. She couldn't talk back,” said Brittany.

A week later, Brittany went to see Kelly again. This time, she was out of a coma and breathing on her own. She smiled when Brittany came into the room. Brittany told her stories about when they were younger. Brittany talked. Kelly listened.

It's been a little over two weeks since "the accident." It's amazing. Kelly can speak and walk. When Brittany walked into the room, Kelly was telling her mother that she wished she had a bracelet to wear. All of her bracelets were cut off of her when she was in the accident. Brittany pulled out the brand new friendship bracelet that I had brought with me that night to give to her without even knowing she wanted one. That's the kind of bond they have. Unexplainable.

This experience has changed Brittany’s life. “As teenagers, we think we are indestructible. We think bad things can't happen to us. We think we know everything. Here's what I know. We are wrong. Life brings experiences.” These experiences teach us lessons.

February 23, 2011. “A lesson I will never forget,” said Brittany.

Kira Sherwood is a freshman at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring in Communication Arts.

Paying Our Dues, While Cutting College Costs

By Stephen Ritter

The only thing better than an education is a cheap education. Now I know what you’re thinking, “how good could a cheap education be?” When I say cheap, I’m not talking about the institutional values or curriculum, I’m talking about the price. There are a few ways to go about this, you can earn a scholarship through athletics, you can apply for grants, or you can get an academic scholarship. In Brennan Pendergast’s case, an academic scholarship is allowing him to go to law school for less than half the original price.

“It was a no brainer, I had to take the offer to come here,” said Brennan about choosing Charlotte Law School in North Carolina. He had several schools he could have attended; however, when it came to comparing costs, the numbers didn’t add up.

“I got accepted to several law schools, but when I looked at how much it was going to cost me by the end of the process, I didn’t know if I wanted to be walking around with that much debt over my head. It made me think about the profession all together,” he said. It wasn’t till late in the process when Charlotte came through with a kicker, the Presidential Honors Program—that offered him special benefits within the school as well scholarship money to study there.

“With the other schools I got accepted to I was essentially buying a house,” said Brennan. “With Charlotte I’m buying a ‘pretty nice’ car. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up; its allowing me to go to school and learn my craft without the feeling of having a piano hanging over my head once I did finish the schooling and get a job, which I think has made my experience great so far.”

It took four years of college work for Brennan get to where he is today. After spending his freshman year at Pepperdine in Malibu, California, he transferred to Villanova in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to finish his degree in communications. “I always took pride in my school work; I just didn’t realize that it would pay off so much when it came to law school," he said. "Looking back on my academic career I am extremely thankful that I put so much time and effort into it, otherwise I might not be talking to you today as a current law student.”

In today’s economy jobs are at a premium. For students who have to pay their own way it’s even more difficult because they don’t have the luxury to wait for that “perfect” job opportunity; they need a job as soon as possible to start paying off the loans they used to get that special piece of paper to put over their desk.

So is graduate school or law school the right answer? And if so, is it worth the wait and money? Brennan believes it is. “Absolutely, I think that in today’s current job market the more academic accolades you have the better," he said. "I am in a situation where I need to go to this school in order to prepare myself for another test; there aren’t even guarantees with my situation. But I think it could only help someone to have a masters in their specific field of work; it makes you more desirable to an employer and separates you from the rest of the field.”

Will it be worth it to spend sixty grand on another two years of school that could ultimately earn you more than double that over your lifetime? Could a scholarship sway your reasoning? The bottom line never fails to put things in perspective--how much is my education worth to me? Many fear the late 20’s panic button where they are in a dead end job and have no options, except to go back to school. It’s a cruel reality of the economic situation that we are living in.

Stephen Ritter is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring in Communication Arts.

Chasing Baseball's Mt. Olympus

By Joe Grimaldi

Center field. A vast, green expanse where fly balls go to die. Where the swiftest, most athletic players thrive and make jaw dropping, awe inspiring plays on a daily basis. Just ask Vic Wertz.

On September 29, 1954, Mr. Wertz hit a prodigious drive out to center field in the Polo Grounds. It looked for sure like Wertz's drive was going to break the 2 - 2 tie between the Giants and the Indians, giving the Tribe all the momentum in Game 1 of the World Series.

But, on the eighth day, God said, "Let there be Mays." Sprinting towards the 483 foot sign on the center field wall, Willie Mays made an unbelievable basket catch. He then proceeded to spin and throw a strike to the infield to prevent Larry Doby from scoring from second. In a moment that is now simply known as "The Catch" (with all due respect to Dwight Clark) Vic Wertz was reduced to a latter day Craig Ehlo, a victim of a superhuman descending to the field. Mays, already the best player in baseball, was vaulted to the status of a god, residing comfortably on baseball's Mt. Olympus, blessing the likes of Torri Hunter and Andruw Jones.

While the Say Hey Kid's reign ended in 1973, his heir apparent was on the way. By 1989, baseball's savior had arrived at the Kingdome, as the baseball gods saw fit to give way to the second coming of Willie Mays. Simply heralded as "The Kid," Junior Griffey had a five year peak that even Mays was hard pressed to challenge.

Given Mays' phenomenal career and Griffey’s firmly in the rearview mirror as well, there is time now to compare two of the greatest players to ever step foot on a ball field.

Willie Mays (1951 - 1973)

- .302 Batting Average
- 3,283 Hits
- 2,062 Runs
- 660 Home Runs
- 1,903 RBIs
- 338 Stolen Bases
- .384 OBP
- .557 SLG
- .941 OPS
- 156 OPS+

- 1951 Rookie of the Year
- 1954, 1965 NL MVP
- 20 time All Star
- 11 Time Gold Glover
- 1954 WS Champ
Mays had one of the most illustrious careers this side of Babe Ruth. If you happen to be like me, and spend your time filling out All - Time All Star Teams, you're basically legally obligated to pencil his name in next to the center field spot (the only acceptable exception being Ty Cobb). Mays' career was marked by consistency and longevity; from 1954 to 1968 Mays played between 141 and 162 games every single year. The Say Hey kid averaged 38 homeruns, 104 RBIs, 19 steals and a rung up a .311 average, totaling 583 homers, 1,563 ribbies, and 288 steals. Those numbers alone would've made Mays a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he just had to go the extra mile and hit 77 more home runs, drive in 340 more runs, and steal 50 more bases. Show off.

Anyway, Mays won his first MVP award in 1954, and was deprived from winning another till 1965, one of baseball’s greatest travesties. On seven other occasions, Mays had numbers that surpassed or equaled those of his MVP seasons, including 1955, where he may have put up his most impressive individual effort, amassing 51 round trippers, 127 runs batted in, 24 steals, 185 hits, 123 runs scored, 79 walks to go against just 60 strikeouts, and a .319/.400/.659 slash line. With all due respect to Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, and Ernie Banks, none deserved to finish above Mays in the MVP voting that year.

No one had separated themselves from the field as much as Mays did from his competition since Ruth. A true five tool player, Mays had five years where he went 20/20 with a .300 batting average, and would have had three more if not for stolen base totals of 18, 18, and 19.

Mays Monoply on Golden Gloves

And of course, there was the fielding. Dodgers executive Fresco Thompson said it best, "Willie Mays and his glove. Where triples go to die." From 1957 to 1968 Willie Mays had a monopoly on Gold Gloves. Literally. He won every single year, and had the award been given out beginning in his rookie year (1951), it's safe to say he would've won even more. Perhaps the greatest way to sum up Mays' fielding would be to say that he was elected to the All - Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team with 23% of the vote, the most for any outfielder. As a matter of fact, the only player who got within 13% of Mays was the immortal Roberto Clemente, who received 21%.

While Mays' teams were never spectacular, he couldn't be blamed. Overall during his career, his teams had a .566 winning percentage making the playoffs five times, and winning once in 1954 (not coincidentally the year of his first MVP). Mays unfortunately got the short end of the stick. Had he been with the crosstown Dodgers during their excellent 1950 run, they, not the Yankees may have ended up with five consecutive championships during that time.

An anonymous SABR member once said, "There are 499 Major League Baseball players. Then there's Willie Mays." Well said, sir, well said.

Ken Griffey Jr. (1989 – 2010)

- .284 Batting Average
- 2,781 Hits
- 1,662 Runs
- 630 Home Runs
- 1,836 RBIs
- 184 Steals
- .370 OBP
- .538 SLG
- .907 OPS
- 136 OPS+

- 1997 AL MVP
- 13 time All Star
- 10 time Gold Glover

Think about this. As a nineteen year old rookie in 1989, Ken Griffey Jr. had 16 more home runs and steals than you likely ever will. True story. From then on Griffey asserted himself as the best young player in the American League from 1990 to 1992, and then in 1993 put up an outrageous 45 home run, 109 RBI, 17 steal, .309/.408/.535 line. Keep in mind, this was at the tender age of twenty three, when most kids are still trying to find a job out of college. The Kid had arrived.

Griffey: All Star, Golden Glove, Silver Slugger Era 

From 1993 to 1999, Griffey put up numbers that defied logic. During the seven year span, Griffey went yard 311 times, drove in 808 runs, scored 752, and churned out a .297/.387/.613 line. During that span he was an All Star each year, won a Gold Glove each year, and won the Silver Slugger in every year but 1995 in which he was sidelined for 73 games with a broken wrist suffered while making a home run saving catch. He led the league in home runs four times and RBIs once during that span, coming away with an MVP Award in 1997.

Griffey seemed poised to break Hank Aaron's home run record, along with his RBI record and very possibly the runs scored record. With his sweet swing, smooth gait (which gave him the illusion of a speed he never really had, with a single season high of 24 stolen bases and a career total of 184), and bright, captivating smile, he seemed to be the savior baseball was longing for. The 1994 strike had left a scar on the sport, and the Kid came and took the baseball world on his shoulders, provided the sport a much needed face, and thrived in Seattle.

However, he expressed interest in moving to Cincinnati to spend more time with his family, and his request was granted. Griffey had one spectacular, yet un Griffey-like year in 2000, posting a line of .271 40 118 .387 .556, then completely, inexplicably and unfortunately broke down. From 2001 to 2004, Griffey only played in 317 games, succumbing to a various slew of hamstring injuries. His 2005 - 2007 seasons with Cincinnati were mildly successful, yet he only managed to play in 381 games, and at midseason in 2008, he was dealt to the White Sox.

Finally Griffey returned to his (baseball) home in Seattle. His precipitous decline took him from being on pace to become the best player in baseball history to the quintessential coulda, woulda, shoulda story. Despite all of the injuries, Griffey still places fifth on the all-time home run and 16th on the all-time RBI list, a far cry from where we all thought he'd end up.

Ken Griffey Jr. played the game with such flair, such an aesthetically pleasing style, that he captivated everyone who saw him play. His swing is easily the most perfect I have ever seen. Sorry Joe Mauer. Sorry Robinson Cano. Sorry Rafael Palmiero. Sorry Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. Try again next year.

He played the outfield with such grace. He didn't run, he glided. His long, graceful strides were poetry in motion, and watching him chase down fly balls was an absolute treat. He slung the ball from a nearly three quarters arm slot, and the ball shot out of his hand like a rocket, after bringing his arm through so effortlessly. Oh yeah, and the third outfielder on the Rawlings All - Time Gold Glove team? Griffey. Griff made the game seem so easy.

As the last few grains of sand trickled down his proverbial hourglass, Griffey's illustrious career can actually be viewed as a disappointment. Not by this writer however. While Griffey may have never taken the torch from Mays (let's be honest, if he ran with it he probably would've torn his hamstring), he served as the only person who could have been a worthy successor for Mays. Griffey served admirably, but there’s only one Say Hey Kid. Just ask Vic Wertz.

Joe Grimaldi is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring in communications and a member of the college's baseball team.

Maureen Asaro: Teacher

By Laura Asaro

Can you imagine knowing what career you’d like to pursue from the time you were just seven years old?  Maureen Asaro from Bergenfield, New Jersey, can. 

According to her, she “literally woke up one day wanting to be a teacher” and when she was a child, she would gather the neighborhood children to play school in her parents’ backyard “with books and worksheet and everything.”  She also said she was always very good at explaining difficult schoolwork to her friends all throughout high school.  “Teaching just came naturally,” she said.

Maureen Asaro graduated from Saint Thomas Aquinas College in 1983 with a dual major.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in both Elementary Education and Special Education, and has put them to good use.  Mrs. Asaro teaches at St. Joseph School in Oradell, New Jersey, where she has taught for almost 30 years. 

She has been teaching first grade for the majority of her career; however, due to consolidating grades last year, she taught second grade in the 2011 - 2012 school year.  This year, she’s back teaching first grade.  When asked which grade she prefers teaching, she answered, “Second grade was very different and challenging.  There was a lot of new material I had to teach my students, like writing in script and multiplication.  It was a fun experience, and I think it helped me learn as a teacher, but first grade is where I think I belong.” 

Mrs. Asaro also shared that she loves teaching because each class she has each year presents new challenges and she likes to be able to make a difference in children who struggle in school.  She said she “can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Laura Asaro is a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring in English.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Special Report: What Happened on September 11th

By Nicolas Tirado

“On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil,” said President George W. Bush, nine days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S history. It occurred due to four teams of terrorists from the Middle East, all operating from inside the U.S. Each team had boarded an early morning flight, posing as passengers, and then forcibly commandeered the aircraft. President Bush continued to deliver the speech, designating Al-Qaida as the assailants in the September 11th attack, saying, “Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians.”

Two fully fueled jumbo jets, American Airlines Flight 11 carrying 92 people and United Airlines Flight 175 carrying 62 people, had departed Boston for Los Angeles. Both jets were diverted by hijackers to New York City where they were piloted by terrorists. The planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Bush stated that Al Qaida is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money. Its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere. President Bush wanted to make clear that Al Qaida is going to be held for their crimes against America.

“This group and its leaders, a person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” he said, Once President Bush said Osama bin Laden the crowd reacted in confusion as to who this person is. Al Qaida is a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden at some point between August 1988 and late 1989, with its origins being traceable to the Soviet War in Afghanistan. It operates as a network comprising a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad and a strict interpretation of sharia law. It has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and various other countries.

For more information:

Nicholas Tirado is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College and is pursuing a degree in Communications Arts.

The Makings of an Educator

By Gabriella Delgado

One of the most noble and admirable professions is that of being a teacher. Education is one of the most popular Bachelor’s degrees in the United States. Obtaining a job as an educator has become increasingly difficult throughout the current years. One way of making yourself more marketable as a teacher is obtaining special education certifications and furthering your education by receiving master’s degrees. These are all some of the steps Angie Orellana is taking in her plan of becoming a future educator.

Angie is a senior at Saint Thomas Aquinas College, majoring in Childhood Special Education with a concentration in Spanish. Angie was raised and is still living in the Bronx, New York. As a child she dealt with a learning disability which made it difficult for her as a student. She remembers having many difficulties in elementary school, especially in 2nd and 3rd grade. In fifth grade, however, things began to look up for Angie when she had teachers that were very supportive and encouraging.

In the fifth grade Angie also had a couple of pen-pals who were education majors at Saint Thomas Aquinas College. Angie and the other students were taken to STAC to meet their pen-pals. There she told one of her pen-pals, Kristen, that she wanted to be a teacher and Kristen told her to simply “go for it.” These teachers in fifth grade, along with her mother who is also a teacher, and her pen-pal were all her influencers in her decision to become a teacher. When asked the main reason why she wants to become a teacher, Angie responded, “I want to learn more about myself and kids just like myself with learning disabilities. I want to do for them what my teachers did for me.”

Since the age of 13, Angie has been volunteering at the pre-school where her mother teaches and has been tutoring other individual students. She has also been observing different teachers as part of a requirement of the education program at STAC. At STAC, Angie has learned how to improve her skills. The Education Program has taught her how to differentiate her style of teaching to the needs and readiness of the students.

When asked what she likes most about the Education Program at Saint Thomas Aquinas College she responded “They play no games! I’m joking.” She also explained how she likes how the professors get to know you on a one-on-one basis so as to make sure teaching is right for you as a student, because you will be influencing the lives of many children. It seems that the Ed. Program is difficult, but this is because “they want to weed out the bad ones from the good ones,” explains Angie.

She keeps herself motivated when facing difficult times by remembering the difficulties she had in elementary school and how her teachers helped her. These memories remind her that she wants to be that person for her students in the future and to make a difference in their lives.

Angie wants to obtain a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology at Mercy College after graduating from Saint Thomas Aquinas College with a Bachelor’s degree in childhood education with a specialization in Spanish. Angie wants to receive a masters in Speech Pathology so as to help children who are suffering from the same learning disability she had. She hopes to one day teach in the Bronx, because she likes the diversity in the schools and neighborhoods. She also likes that it is an urban area and that transportation is easier.

Gabriella Delgado is a senior at Saint Thomas Aquinas College and is going to graduate this spring with a Bachelor’s degree in marketing with a Public Relations minor. She plans to pursue a Masters in Public Affairs in Non-Profit Management this upcoming Fall.

Lessons from a Local Diner

By Paige Russell

About 82 percent of Americans eat at restaurants at least once a week, but a new study shows that not all sit-down chains are healthier than fast food joints. Out of 31,000 menu items studied, 96 percent would exceed daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat. This is definitely not the case for Hogan's Diner of Orangeburg, NY though. Hogan's Diner has been in business for twenty one years and is still going strong. Fresh produce, great prices and a welcoming staff are what make this place feel like home.

Hogan's Diner, located at 17 Orangetown Shopping Center,  is not only a favorite diner of mine but a favorite diner for a lot of people. One thing that many of people may be unaware of is that Nick Hogan, the owner of Hogan's Diner, does a lot of charitable things for not only St. Thomas Aquinas College, but for surrounding colleges as well.

This semester in September, Nick came to St. Thomas Aquinas College and sat down with our Public Relations class. He was willing to put his trust in us and give us the opportunity to learn about Public Relations while using his Diner as a project. Nick wanted us to be able to taste the food that he is proud to serve to customers and wanted our truthful feedback on how we liked it. We as a class were also able to interview Nick Hogan. We received helpful information that we were able to use for our group projects and for self assignments.

Nick Hogan entered our classroom looking stern faced and tough and made us all a little nervous. The second he spoke to us, we all let out a sigh of relief when we realized that he is just a big teddy bear! He was open and willing to answer any questions that we had about his diner, how he became established and how he pleases his customers. Not only did he answer our questions, he gave us more information than we knew what to do with.

At the end of our first meeting with Nick, he graciously invited our entire class, including our professor, to visit his diner that coming Thursday and have anything that we wanted on the menu. We all wondered...what's the catch? Surly we will all have to pay for our meal. NOPE! All of our meals were on the house because Nick wanted us all to be able to experience the food that his diner offered so that we could truthfully write what we thought about our time there. Let me tell you, the food was amazing! Not one person in our class had a complaint about their food. Nick continues to keep in touch with our professor and answers any questions that we may have. We were also able to visit the diner and speak with him.

You see, our Public Relations class is not just sitting in the classroom with our noses in our textbooks, reading about what PR is. We went out and about in the real world doing real PR things for Hogan's Diner.

Our class is very grateful to Nick for taking time out of his busy schedule to help us learn what Public Relations is really all about. If you didn't know who Nick Hogan was or about Hogan's Diner, you do now! Thanks for all of your cooperation Nick! Bon Appetit!

Paige Russell is a Junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring is Communications with a minor in Public Relations.

Spirits are lifted by Social Media after Tragic Accident in Small Town

By Ali Arduini

It was a community’s worse nightmare on Saturday night: A car holding four local high-school students was unexpectedly hit by another vehicle, pushing it through three lanes into the median and flipping it. Two students were immediately killed, while the other two suffered severe injuries. The driver of the stricken vehicle was Chris Stewart, captain of the Shenendehowa football team in Clifton Park, NY. He, along with softball player Deanna Rivers, another Shenendehowa High School student, died instantly in the collision. Matthew Hardy, also a Shenendehowa student and athlete and Rivers’ boyfriend, was immediately taken to Albany Medical Center with friend Bailey Wind, a senior at Shaker High School in Colonie, NY and Stewart’s girlfriend.

The other driver in the accident was Dennis Drue, a 22-year-old who was speeding on the Thruway before striking Stewart’s car. At the scene of the accident Drue tested positive for alcohol; however, further tests proved that he was under the legal limit. Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy says that it would be unethical for him to disclose Drue’s exact level, and tests still need to be done to see if anything else was in his system at the time of the crash. Authorities are holding off charging Drue until all the evidence and tests come back from the crash. Drue faces possibly felony charges of vehicular homicide or manslaughter.

While authorities still wait on results from the lab tests, some good news was received on Monday night, two days after the crash. Friend of Matt Hardy and a fellow Shen student, Willy Stevenson began a twitter campaign to try to get NFL football star Tim Tebow to call Hardy while he was recovering in the hospital. He tweeted at Tebow, “@TimTebow 518-XXX-XXXX My friend was in an accident and his two best friends were killed. He is your biggest fan.” He then started the hash tag “TebowCallMatt” which eventually went viral thanks the number of people in the capital district who participated in this trending topic. A new account named TebowCallMatt was even started to promote the campaign and get as many “Retweets” as possibly so that Tebow could see it and call Hardy. The topic was retweeted by so many people that it became the third most trended topic in the world, being tweeted even by Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain. Tebow, of course, saw the campaign and called the recovering student, who was more the appreciative and ecstatic to receive the call. Tebow later tweeted, “Matt truly inspired me. God bless y’all.”

Bailey Wind, recovering from the accident with Hardy, also received a surprise call from a famous athlete. After #TebowCallMatt began to trend, Wind’s friends began to hash tag #MissyCallBailey, to attempt to get Olympian Missy Franklin to call their friend. Like Hardy’s campaign, the topic eventually went viral to the point where it would have been impossible for Franklin not to see it if she was on the social media site. She did acknowledge the tweets by all of her supporters, and called Wind. Wind, being in critical condition at the time, could not directly speak with Franklin but she did listen to the encouraging voice mail left by her. Franklin tweeted shortly after the call, “Called Bailey and left her a voicemail. Would still love to talk to her. Bailey and her community are in my thoughts and prayers ‪#staystrong‬‬‬‬.” A little less than a week after Wind was finally able to call Franklin back, and they were able to speak to each other. Franklin tweeted about it after the call: “Finally got to talk to Bailey. Wow! I'm speechless. That young woman is truly a gift from God. What an inspiration. ‪#IloveBailey‬‬‬‬.”

It was incredibly heart-warming to see such a small community deliver a message that reached astronomical heights through the use of social media and support. However, although a very inspiring experience, the victims and the families still continue to mourn the loss of two exceptional students at their school. A candle-lit vigil was held on Tuesday night to honor them and help the community to support each other. The friends of Stewart and Rivers also asked all of the schools in the capital district to wear green in honor of the victims. The other schools not only agreed to do this, but they also sent cards and flowers to Shenendehowa, and many even raised money to support the scholarships and funds formed in honor of the victims and their families. It was an extremely tragic week for the community, one that will certainly take a lot of time for people to recover from. The town may never be the same, but their support shows that if they come together they can be stronger, and help each other get through such a terrible situation.

Born and raised in Albany, NY, Ali Arduini is a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College, majoring in English and minoring in Communication Arts. She works as a tutor during the week at her college and as a waitress on the weekends. When she’s not in school she enjoys hanging out with her friends, writing, and reading Jane Austen classics. She hopes to one day make it as an editor, publisher, or writer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Surviving Sandy: Banding Together in Times of Trouble

By Kathryn Baumgartner

“I really hope the power goes out! How much fun would that be?”

These are the words I kept repeating to my suitemates the night of October 29, as the lights continued to flicker on and off. That night, my wish came true. Just as we were about to pop a movie into the DVD player, prepared to enjoy the break from homework that came with the two days we got off school, the power shut itself off for good. The clock in the cafeteria remained frozen at 7:20, the time the week without power began.

At first, it was just as much fun as I imagined it would be. My five suitemates and I - the other three had gone home for the weekend and would not be returning until after the storm passed - turned the common area into an old-fashioned entertainment center. We built a fort out of sheets, painted our nails, blasted the new Taylor Swift album, and even communicated with other stranded students via what we dubbed “flashlight Morse code.”

People came to visit us in our blanket fort, one guy even bringing us ice cream sandwiches courtesy of his roommate’s freezer. My friend grabbed her acoustic guitar and started a sing-along just as I decided it was time to head to bed. Everything seemed perfect that night - no school and an excuse to hang out with friends instead of doing work? We did not think it could get any better than that. That was before reality set in.

No Power, No Heat, No Hot Water...

The next day, we realized that no power meant no heat. More specifically, it meant no hot water. Five girls and the prospect of a cold shower did not seem promising. Then came the issue of food. The things we were keeping in the fridge were beginning to go bad and the only things the cafeteria had to offer was severely watered-down apple juice, cereal, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That was sure to get old fast. Some of my friends realized they would not be able to survive on campus, so they made plans to head elsewhere.

There were several issues with this, though. The two major ones were the fact that most of their homes also did not have power and the traffic lights were not working, making driving very treacherous. However, one of the girls had power at her home, which is approximately 40 minutes away, and parents willing to give all of us a place to stay for as long as we needed. It seemed like the perfect plan.

Despite the plans for all of us to leave on the 30th, only three of the five of us got in the car with her parents when they came to pick us up. I had called to let my parents know what was going on and they were very adamantly against me being on the road with all the traffic signals not working. Granted, they would not have been able to stop me from going, as they were an hour and a half away, but I did not feel right going against what they had told me. Upon hearing I would be staying alone in the powerless dorm, my friend Melanie also chose to stay. I will be forever grateful to her for this, as I do not know what I would have done there alone.

Staying in the Dark...or Driving on Little Gas

I learned that night, as we prepared to go to sleep, that Melanie is afraid of the dark yet chose to stay where she knew she would have to face that fear, rather than leaving me in order to go to a place with lights. After having charged our phones using the generator set up at the cafeteria, and watching the movies they were also playing there, Melanie called her parents. They lived 30 minutes away and had power. They suggested we leave the next morning - Halloween - to stay at her house for the time being. We went to sleep that night, excited at the prospect of a hot shower and the ability to do laundry. Of course nothing could ever be that simple.

Melanie’s car initially refused to start and, once it finally did, we saw that she had less than a quarter tank of gas left. Would we be able to make the half-hour drive to Bergen County on such a small amount of gas? I sure didn’t think so, but Melanie did and she was the driver. I expressed my concerns, though, and we decided to compromise - if we passed a station on the way, we would stop, but we wouldn’t go out of our way to find one. We passed one on the highway, but the line was so long - the gas crisis was already beginning - we just kept driving. Thankfully, we made it.

A Welcoming Refuge

When we got there, I learned that due to construction being done on her home, Melanie and her family were staying in the upstairs portion of her neighbor’s house. With only two bedrooms, a living room, a pantry room, and a mini kitchen, and five people plus me, her parents were still extraordinarily welcoming and more than willing to accept me into their home. I was taken aback and overwhelmed with gratefulness. I did not think such kindness was still possible in the world today.

So, we inflated an air mattress and took Melanie’s mattress from the room she shared with her siblings, placing them in the pantry room. That is where we slept for the four nights I ended up staying there. We spent our days helping with the renovations on her house, painting various rooms in the basement. We spent the nights hanging out with Melanie’s friends, watching movies and munching on snacks until 4:30 in the morning. Her friends were just as welcoming as her family.

The damage in her town was not terribly severe, but there were many downed trees and wires, blocking off entire roadways in some places. We got into the habit of walking to most of our destinations, due to the dangers on the road and the lack of gas.

When Sunday came, we got word that the school was back in operation. Melanie and I walked to the gas station to fill up gas canisters for her mom’s car, with minimal incident. One man almost started a fight on our behalf, but we assured him it was not worth the trouble it would cause.

As much fun as I had at Melanie’s house, and as much as I missed it when we left, I was happy to be back at STAC. I will never forget the kindness shown to me by her family and friends, and I am thankful neither her hometown nor mine was hit too badly.

Kathryn Baumgartner is a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College, majoring in English and minoring in Communication Arts.

The Misunderstood Breed

By Melissa Place

When you hear the word “Pit Bull,” what immediately comes to your mind? For many people, the mere thought of this creature induces a sense of fear; they feel the animal is an aggressive, ferocious, murderous, relentless, vicious beast. Pit Bulls, however, were once the most popular family dog in the beginning of the 20th century. What changed? Why do people hold such harsh stereotypes towards these innocent animals?

Social media has seriously effected the human outlook on Pit Bulls; the media relentlessly exploits the innocent animal. The ASPCA website states, “A Pit Bull bite is far more likely to draw media attention. Many dogs of other breeds bite people, but these incidents almost always go unreported. They’re just not exciting enough fodder for television and print. It is truly a shame that the media continues to portray such a warped image of this beautiful, loyal and affectionate breed.”

The infamous case of NFL quarterback Michael Vick revealed the horrid conditions some Pit Bulls lived in. According to MSNBC reports, “Officers who carried out the raid found dogs, some injured and scarred, chained to buried car axles. Forensic experts discovered remains of dogs that had been shot with a .22 caliber pistol, electrocuted, drowned, hanged or slammed to the ground for lacking a desire to fight. More than 50 American Pit Bull Terriers or pit bull mixes were gathered up. So were “parting sticks” used to open fighting dogs’ mouths, treadmills to condition them, and a “rape stand” used to restrain female dogs that did not submit willingly to breeding.”

Gangs and individuals who partake in dog fighting events mistreat their dogs and train them to fight and become malicious; they are placed in an environment where if they do not fight, they die. The dogs, once exposed to this cruel environment, understandably have trust issues, and need an abundance of love and patience to overcome the tragedies they have been forced to endure.

Pit Bull Myths Don't Match Reality

The Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center created a website in which they report the facts and myths about the Pit Bull breed. First and foremost, they confirm Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws. It is often believed Pit Bulls have the ability to lock their jaw when they bite, causing their bites to inflict more damage than other breeds. This belief, however, is false; the jaw of a Pit Bull is structurally identical to that of a Chihuahua, with the exception of the size.

The website also proves that the wide-held belief that Pit Bulls are unpredictable and more likely to bite than other dogs is false: “Pit Bulls are no more vicious than Golden Retrievers, Beagles or other popular dogs! In a recent study of 122 dog breeds by the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), Pit Bulls achieved a passing rate of 83.9%. That's as good or better than Beagles: 78.2%, and Golden Retrievers: 83.2%.”

Pit Bulls did not always have a terrible reputation. Many years ago, the Pit Bull was a symbol of American bravery and nationalism and was posted on propaganda ads. One Pit Bull named Stubby was a popular war dog that was awarded several medals during World War I and was even honored at the White House. According to the ASPCA, “During duty, he warned soldiers of gas attacks, found wounded men in need of help and listened for oncoming artillery rounds.” In addition to the respected image Pit Bulls once had, many famous people were Pit Bull owners. The ASPCA reports that, “Many famous figures, including Helen Keller, President Theodore Roosevelt, General George Patton, President Woodrow Wilson, Fred Astaire and Humphrey Bogart, shared their lives and homes with pit bulls.”

Pit Bulls are a strangely misunderstood breed; Pit Bulls are not genetically cruel and malicious animals. Pit Bulls are compassionate and loyal dogs looking to please their owner in every way they can. Criminals and gangs take advantage of the admirable qualities of the Pit Bulls and use them in cruel ways. Pit Bull advocates feel nurture plays a vital role in the outcome of an animal’s personality– if a Pit Bull, or any other breed for that matter, is beaten, starved, and placed in life threatening circumstances, it will develop an excessively defensive personality. Viciousness is not part of a Pit Bull’s genetic make-up.

Melissa Place is a sophomore at Saint Thomas Aquinas College and is majoring in English.

Online Dating: Success or Failure?

By Rebekka Slate

“Have you ever thought online dating won’t work because your soul mate is on a different website?” laughs college student Taylor Krigsman. Despite this possibility, online dating seems to be a growing trend for the younger generation. In this age of technology it allows simpler access to this new way of dating. In a sense it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “blind date.” Someone could spend hours typing away on a computer or texting on their phone to a person that they have never actually met.

Whoever is on the other end of that so-called “line” could be anybody. Some people are true to their word of what their profile reads about them, while others may be the complete opposite. The person could be everything you hoped for until something goes drastically wrong. There are so many fine details that could change a person’s whole perspective in one second. A simple quality such as the sound of a person’s voice is something that is often overlooked and taken for granted. Yes, they may seem great on paper but one phone call and it’s all over.

When it comes to dating websites there may be failures, but there are also successes. In perspective, online dating is the exact same process as real life dating. Sure there are some breakups but in other cases the relationship works out.

Jennifer and Erik Pioselli
(photo/Shutter Crazy Photography)
Jennifer Brynt joined the dating website in the spring of 2002. Little did she know that the first profile she viewed would someday become her future husband. After talking to Erik Pioselli for several months, they went on their first date in October 2002. 10 years later, Jennifer is happily married, with two children ages 6 and 1. Without the use of that dating website, this family would not even exist. This is just one scenario of many couples that have succeeded in a relationship that began by talking online.

Steps to Improve Success

There are certain steps an online user can take to improve their success of meeting the right people. When answering questions or writing information on a profile, it is best to stick to the reality of who they truly are as a person. By expressing true details about one’s personality, users will be more likely to find better matches. Better matches equals better people that will suit their lifestyle, simple as that.

Another factor to keep in consideration is, numbers are not everything. Sure, a 99.8% match may seem great but who wants to date themselves? Although, when the “enemy” percentage is extremely high, the person should not even bother wasting their time checking out that profile. After all, if a member is looking for a match what would be the point in talking to the wrong people anyway? Why waste valuable time when the right person might be somewhere else on the website.

Some may say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so do not waste time photoshopping appearance. What if the two members of the website meet and one person looks nothing like their photograph. If they lied about their appearance, who knows what else might not be true. Just a simple thing to keep in mind, allow appearance to speak for itself, do not edit it. To ensure that a person is true to their photograph and profile, using Skype to videochat will definitely help. This is a way to communicate on a more personal level without giving too much information like a phone number. It also provides physical proof that the person is the reality of their profile.

One thing that may cause confusion is talking to multiple members at the same time. The good thing about talking online is if you become bored with the conversation you can simply tell the person that you are no longer interested. When talking to a group of people it may be difficult to keep track of important details. By talking through messages you can look back on the past conversations. You can even look at the person’s profile if necessary. The profiles allow users to check out someone’s page without even having to contact them. This helps to keep options open to meet more people and to keep the facts straight.

Long Distance Relationships and Other Things to Consider

One possible downfall is location of the website’s members. The sites allow people to connect from anywhere in the United States. Users must keep this in mind when talking to others. If a person connects with someone in another state they are going to have to go the extra mile, so to speak, to work out a long distance relationship. When you are unable to meet it makes the situation more complicated. As much as two people talk online their full personality is not portrayed completely without meeting face to face. College student Andrew Browne, a member of states, “You don’t really know the person behind the computer screen.” This does not necessarily rule out the possibility of a long-distance relationship, it is simply something to keep in mind when viewing a profile.

In today’s society everything is so fast paced that there is barely anytime to stop and communicate face to face. Between classes, work and house hold chores it is hard to simply take five minutes to talk to someone. Dating websites allow members to communicate whenever they are online. So you can start a conversation and just come back to it when you have a free moment. This is very helpful for students that are constantly busy between class, work and what ever else needs to get done. They may not have time to actually go out and meet new people, so the websites allow them the opportunity to connect online.

Dating websites create a constant excitement of talking to new individuals. Members are able to connect with people from all walks of life. Sometimes people are on the site because they are new to an area. Members are able to meet anyone from an average college student, a firefighter, a photographer to an artist. Dating websites allow the chance to meet out of the ordinary people that you would not have met otherwise.

Every person’s experience on a dating website is different. Like many aspects of life, a person has to take a chance to try online dating. It may not work for everybody but the process should not be judged without even trying it. The same applies to looking at a person’s profile, do not create opinions about them just by their photographs and match percentages. Give them a chance and read what they have to say about themselves. Good luck to anybody searching for their soul mate; if you can’t seem to find him or her, check another website.

Rebekka Slate is a sophomore at St.Thomas Aquinas College majoring in Journalism. Rebekka enjoys turning real life experiences into articles for others to learn from. She has a strong interest in photography and hopes to someday put her skills to use.

The Year of Faith: Celebrating Fifty Years of Vatican II

By Philip John Catalanotto

“I am calling an ecumenical council so that the human sojourn may be less lonely.”
--Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII  (photo/Wikipedia)
In October 1962, Pope John XXIII announced that he was calling together an ecumenical council. This came as a surprise to many Catholics, considering the Pope’s age. The Pope, who was nearly 81, did not want to be seen as just as a “placeholder Pope.” All Catholics remember Pope John’s actions today. Pope John XXIII hoped to thrust the windows open and let some fresh air in. He wanted to modernize the Catholic Church, which he did. Because of Vatican II the Mass is in the vernacular, the Bible is in an approved English translation, and the priest faces the people during the consecration of the Eucharist.

Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a Year of Faith celebrating the fifty years of Vatican II. The Year of Faith would be from October 11, 2012 until November 2, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Second Vatican Council changed the way that many people have understood the Church. Vatican II changed the way people worshiped and promoted people to be active in the Church. These changes, many Catholics believe, came about because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These changes were met with enthusiasm.

Pope Benedict XVI  (photo/Wikipedia)
As described by Pope Benedict XVI, “The Year of Faith will be a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to straighten our faith in Him, and to proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time.”

The first step is to understand what faith is. Faith is an extremely broad term that is open to interpretation. In its most simplistic terms, faith is believing and doing what is right even if you are the only one who knows it. It is trusting and believing. Faith is what Jesus and God has in all of us.

The Year of Faith is about thrusting open the window of our souls and letting the fresh air in. It is also about the deepening of faith in Jesus Christ. This is a time for Catholics to modernize, to bring their faith up to date.

According to Father Tom Haggerty, the pastor of St. Raphael’s Church in East Meadow, New York, “The Year of Faith is about putting our trust in God’s word which enlarges us, in God’s compassion which frees us, in God’s wisdom which guides us, and in God’s love which embraces us.”

The Year of Faith is a time when all are encouraged to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and to recognize that through God all things are possible.

Philip John Catalanotto is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He is majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies, with a minor in Communication Arts. He is the editor of the Thomist yearbook. Philip hopes to use his education at St. Thomas as a springboard for graduate school and, eventually, the seminary.

Secret of Success

By Stephen Ritter

There are very few opportunities in life where all you need to do is sit down and listen to gain perspective that will change your whole entire outlook on the world. I was fortunate enough to listen to Eric Thomas speak on a Youtube video about success and what success means to him and I left my seat with a brand new view of the word. Although the speech was only about five minutes long, the words he used spoke volumes about what really defines the word and how the word can define you.

Eric told a story about a young man and a guru. The young man wanted success and all of the perks that came with it, however the guru needed to show the young man how much he needed to want success before he could attain success. The guru brought the young man to the ocean and made him walk into the water until it got up to his neck, then the guru held the man’s head under water until he almost passed out. The young man was gasping for air; the guru told him “when all you want to do is succeed as badly as you want to breathe, that is when you will be successful.”

Eric goes on to speak about the commitment it takes to be successful, going days without sleep or eating because the will to succeed is so great that one forgets about all the necessities in their own life. “A lot of people say they want to be successful, but not everybody is doing what they have to get there,” said Eric, who is also known as the Hip Hop Preacher, who makes everyone question their own view of the world. In today’s society everyone is judged on their success whether it be in the office or out on the playing field, but more often than not what we see is only the finished product. The blood, sweat, and tears that were put into the outcome is what everyone doesn’t see, and is the most important. We are slowly becoming a society with a lackluster work ethic; anything that needs to be done now has a short cut, which is why I personally believe sport is as great as it is, because it’s the only profession where there are still no shortcuts.

I am sure that I wasn’t the only person to hear that talk with chills, because there is no way the message that Eric delivered didn’t hit home with someone in some way. There is a part of every one of us that would have liked to do something different; some may have experiences that haunt us whereever we go. What Eric made everyone realize is that no matter what you try to do, there is only one real way to succeed, and if you think you found a different way of doing it, you are probably doing it the wrong way and you aren’t going to get the results that you hope for.

To see the video of this talk:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ellen DeGeneres Delivers Humor and Inspiration to College Grads

By Ali Arduini

Although it could hardly be considered a traditional commencement speech, Ellen DeGeneres nevertheless effectively delivered her thought-provoking words to the graduating class of 2009 at Tulane University in New Orleans. Not only did the actress and comedian be sure to add many jokes to her speech, but she also ended it by dancing in the audience—this not only captivated her audience but also brought some fun and humor to an otherwise serious ceremony.

DeGeneres began her speech by thanking the audience for their applause: “Thank you President Cowan, Mrs. President Cowan, distinguished guests, undistinguished guests—you know who you are, honored faculty, and creepy Spanish teacher.” DeGeneres used comedy to address her audience, and then went on to make a joke about how the graduating class was probably hungover, but they still had to listen to her speech to graduate.

DeGeneres began the essence of her speech by talking about some of the goals she had at their age. She said she was very content with the idea of settling and had no ambition or goals for herself. DeGeneres, an out gay woman, made her point by saying, “When I was your age I thought I knew who I was but I had no idea. Like, for example, I was dating men.” DeGeneres incorporated humor into the elements of her speech whenever she could; even during her serious topics and points she would find a way to make her audience laugh.

One of these more serious topics was when she spoke about some of her soul-searching, and how she finally gained the drive she needed to land her own television show. After years of denial the actress decided that her character on the show would come out, and that would be how she herself would reveal her true character. She knew that this was a risky move and she was right; after coming out DeGeneres lost everything—sponsor deals, show offers, and essentially everything that was helping her career to move forward. However, she also said that after the incident she received many letters from gay kids saying thank you for preventing themselves from committing suicide. DeGeneres does not regret losing everything because she was able to help others cope, and finally live without fear of who she was.

After sharing her poignant story, DeGeneres went on to tell the students to aim for success, but success that will make themselves happy; she was adamant about the importance of them following their passion, and not letting anyone try to convince them otherwise.

DeGeneres ended her speech with the statement, “Life is like one big Mardi Gras, but instead of showing your boobs show your brain. And if they like what they see you’ll have more beads then you know what to do with.” With that last point, Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” came on and DeGeneres skipped downstage into the crowd where she began to dance with the graduating class. It certainly was an entertaining commencement speech, and one that will always remain memorable for its listeners.

To see the speech:

Boutique Noel Reprises Christmas Spirit

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ali Arduini

Annual Boutique Noel is Set to Come to Holy Names

Academy of the Holy Names in Albany, NY will again hold their annual Boutique Noel Craft fair on Saturday, December 8. Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to come for unique Christmas gifts, crafts, baked goods, games, food, and of course, the opportunity to meet Santa! Craft tables from local businesses and stores will be set up all through the hallways for patrons to browse and try one-of-a-kind items. The vendors vary from homemade jam makers to custom jewelry to organic soaps and lotion.

And the crafts are not the only thing to look forward to at this event. The cafeteria will offer the opportunity to get dessert from “Mrs. Claus’s bakery” and also to try some local food favorites. They will offer samplings from popular, luxury restaurants including Mezza Notte, Jack’s, Creo, and 677 Prime. Raffles are also present in the cafeteria where patrons can choose to try to win one or two of the amazing gift baskets donated by students, parents, and alumni.

For children, the gym will offer a visit with Santa Claus, where kids can grab a candy cane and tell Santa what they want for Christmas. There will also be different tables set up around the gymnasium for kids make their own crafts and exercise their creativity; the tables will be run and supervised by the art students in the school.

The Boutique Noel is a sure way to not only get some holiday shopping done, but also have a great time and get in the Christmas Spirit. It is always appropriately a very merry event, with everyone speaking so highly of their experience. Staffers never fail to impress its supporters, gaining their trust and giving them a reason to come back. This Christmas should be done right—and coming to the Boutique Noel will achieve that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wall Art Points the Way in Bergenfield

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Asaro

New Murals and Improvements at Cinema in Bergenfield

The murals recently painted on the side wall of the Clearview Cinema 5 on South Washington Avenue in Bergenfield, New Jersey were put up by the Borough of Bergenfield and the Bergenfield Special Improvement District. The murals display the goals of the business community in Bergenfield and also draw attention to the newly upgraded public parking lot behind the cinema. This is good for shoppers, visitors, and local business.

Walter Johnson, President of the Bergenfield Special Improvement District, was pleased that the SID board members and the Cinema 5 management were able to review, agree on, and authorize the concept for the murals. He said that cooperation from everyone involved allowed the murals to be painted before daytime temperatures dropped below 50 degrees, because then the project would have had to be delayed until spring.

The murals also coordinate with the colors used in Bergenfield’s new parking signs, which was organized by Mark Gordon, the project manager for the SID who worked with the Borough on the project. The murals also indicate the newly designated Parking Lots A and B, behind and across the street next to the cinema, respectively. The parking lots themselves were also fixed up and reorganized to provide more parking for patrons, and all outside walls of the cinema were repainted.

Holiday Hockey Tournament in Hackensack

For Immediate Release

Contact: Stephen Ritter

Ice House is Hosting Christmas Tournament

Continuing in their aim to bring the best hockey to Bergen County, the Ice House on 111 Midtown Approach in Hackensack will be holding the Christmas Shootout from December 26th to the 29th. Teams from around the New England area as well as local teams will be participating in this eagerly awaited tournament.

The head of the Ice House hockey department, Dan May, is extremely excited about the event. “Not only do we get to bring in the top talent from the area into our facility, but we will be getting some of tomorrow’s superstars from other regions of the United States, which is always our goal when hosting these events,” said May, who’s squirt AAA minor team will be participating in the festivities.

The Ice House has been on the hockey map since hosting the USA nationals in 2010. The combination of the four ice sheets as well as having the backdrop of New York City has now made Hackensack an ice hockey mecca. With teams ranging from 8 years old to 16 years old, there will be a lot of hockey played after all of the gifts are unwrapped, and hopefully there will be more gifts handed out after the finals.

“There will be a lot of scouts in the stands,” says May. “These kids are coming to the age where scholarships are a very realistic possibility and you can see from the level of play on the ice that failure is not an option, which makes every game extremely exciting to watch.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lady Gaga Coming to New York

For Immediate Release

Born This Way Ball
Madison Square Garden 

7th Ave & 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001


Lady Gaga's "Born this Way Ball" to Light Up  New York

Lady Gaga is known all around the world for her music, bizarre outfits, and sold out shows. The Grammy Award winner is currently touring the "Born This Way Ball" around the world and will be heading to New York in the near future. Lady Gaga will be performing at Madison Square Garden on February 22 and 23, 2013. Tickets are available from prices ranging $69.90 to $234.80. There are also packaged deals available at a greater cost, including merchandise and pre-show events.

According to Lady Gaga’s official website, her first album titled “The Fame” has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. The song “Born This Way” set a record of fastest selling single in history, reaching 1 million copies in only five days after it’s release date. Gaga was also listed in TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world as of 2010. Lady Gaga also joined with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, to create the Born This Way Foundation in 2011.

Seating ranges from Ground Floor to Balcony level, and wheelchair accessibility is available. The concert will also be featuring Madeon and Lady Starlight.

--Rebekka Slate

Monday, December 3, 2012

Victoria's Secret Show

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kira Sherwood

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2012

Ladies, Thanksgiving is over, which means grubbing over the left overs guilt free you should probably reconsider. To slap you in the face back to reality is the famous annual lingerie extravaganza. That’s right, I’m talking about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show of 2012.

Tuesday night, December 4, be sure to tune in to CBS television at 10 pm /9 pm central to watch not only the beautiful women but also hip artists such as Rihanna and Justin Bieber perform live.

Last year the broadcast drew over 10 million viewers. Be sure you’re not missing out on the upcoming talk of the month.

Morrissey to Sing in New York

For immediate release

Contact: Kathryn Baumgartner

Two Chances to See Morrissey Live

Steven Patrick Morrissey, former lead singer of The Smiths, will appear on Long Island and in New York City, on January 9 and 11, respectively. Both shows begin at 8:00 p.m.

The first show is in Greenvale, a hamlet in Nassau County. The venue is the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, at 720 Northern Boulevard. Tickets range from $79 to $396, depending on the area of seating. The second show is at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater - Playwrights Horizon at 416 West 42nd Street. Tickets for that show range from $125 to $364.

Morrissey, as the singer most often goes by, was born on May 22, 1959 in Lancashire, England. He is a singer, pianist, and lyricist, having written and performed songs for the once-popular British group The Smiths, which broke up in 1987. He then pursued a solo career, releasing albums such as “Viva Hate” and “Southpaw Grammar.”

Seen as an innovator in the indie music genre, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, Morrissey’s music has a universal quality that has been able to reach many, from the lonely and broken-hearted to political activists. His vegetarianism, animal rights activism, and particularly his song titled “Meat is Murder,” have inspired many to follow in his footsteps and cut meat from their diets.

Ticket and seating information may be found at

Though tickets are costly, this is not a show people will want to miss.

Hogan's Diner Grand Re-Opening

For Immediate Release

Hogan’s Diner
17 Orangetown Shopping Center
Orangeburg, NY 10962

Contact: Nick Hogan
Day Phone: (845) 365–3166

Hogan’s Diner Grand Re-Opening:
Same Great Food and Quality, with a Brand New Look

On Friday December 7th, Hogan’s Diner in Orangeburg will be hosting a grand re-opening to introduce new and loyal customers to their new renovations and promotions. The grand re-opening will be all day from 7 am to 8:30 pm. Hogan’s Diner has recently made $200,000 in renovations to improve their customers’ dining experience and would like to invite the community to enjoy some quality food and take in the atmosphere.

Hogan’s Diner also wants to invite Saint Thomas Aquinas College students to take advantage of the new promotions that have been organized to create a new and lasting relationship between them and Hogan’s Diner. The owner of Hogan’s Diner, Nick Hogan, has been working with students of Saint Thomas Aquinas College’s Public Relations course on several new campaigns to benefit the Saint Thomas Aquinas College community. If students show their SpartanCards they will receive 10% off their purchase but if they pay with their SpartanCards they will receive 15% off instead.

Hogan’s Diner is located at 17 Orangetown Shopping Center, Orangeburg, New York. It serves classic American diner cuisine that is fresh and made to order for dining in and take out. The hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 7 am -8 pm, Friday through Saturday 7 am -8:30 pm, and Sunday 7 am – 2:30 pm.

For further information, contact Nick Hogan during the hours of operation at (845) 365- 3166.

--Gabriella Delgado