Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Transformative Power of Parks

Overpeck Park dock view    photo/Danielle Pedoto

By Danielle Pedoto

Have you ever taken the time to sit back at your favorite local park and appreciate the beautiful outdoors? If not, I believe this is something everyone should do. Growing up in a town where parks were filled with graffiti and vandalism, I never got to feel that connection to nature and connection to my community that people who have beautiful parks in their neighborhoods do. If you were lucky enough to grow up in a town that is filled with clean, beautiful parks, perhaps you never took the time to really enjoy it, and take advantage of the effects something like a simple walk in the park can have on your overall attitude towards life.

In 2010 I was lucky enough to have one of these clean, beautiful parks be built close to my home. What used to be a garbage dump and an environmental hazard was cleaned up and transformed into what is today called Overpeck County Park.  Overpeck is located on Challenger Boulevard in Ridgefield Park, NJ. It’s transformation took place over many years; however, it was well worth the wait.

Overpeck has become a huge part of my community and a huge part of my life. Overpeck has so much to offer. It has a children’s playground that is filled with unique playground toys, swings, and obstacles. It has five miles of paths that can be used for walking, running, bike riding, or my personal favorite, rollerblading. It also has an observation deck and nature overlook to enjoy the beautiful lake that the park surrounds And they now made it possible to rent canoes and kayaks to take into the lake and enjoy the water! For all the sports lovers, the park also offers a softball field, a baseball field, two turf soccer fields, and six tennis courts. The park is filled with activities for people of all ages, sizes, and interests. The park is always filled with great people that are there for the same reason as you and that is to simply enjoy the day and to enjoy life.

Besides all of these fantastic amenities, the park is also a gathering place for many cultures and community events. For example, on April 14th a walk to raise money for MS (Multiple Sclerosis) was held at Overpeck Park and was a big hit. This was one of the first times in my life where I saw people I knew from all the surrounding towns come together for a good cause. This was one of the first times that I was able to say that I felt like part of a community.  Overpeck is also the place where many other community events take place such as carnivals, wine testing, car shows, and even events that you can enjoy with your furry companion in an event called “bark in the park”!

This park has brought my community together and has brought out something in me that I never knew I had. I found my love for rollerblading and passion for the outdoors. The feeling that I get when I visit Overpeck with family, friends, or even alone is indescribable. I feel at home and at peace and it has ultimately helped me choose my major field of study, Therapeutic Recreation. This park has helped me figure out my calling in life because I was able to see firsthand the way nature, creativity, play, exercise and community have a great effect on people of all ages and more importantly the effect on elders and people with special needs.

Teresa Morgana, a town local, stated “I spend a lot of time with my little cousin who has autism, and have been taking him here once a week for a little over a year and I can honestly say since taking him here, I have seen him grow physically and psychologically; he overall is most happy when he is at this park.” This goes to show just how important parks are to not only communities but individuals and their personal lives.

 Overpeck Park lake view             photo/Danielle Pedoto

When you see such a beautiful place evolve from a landfill it really makes you believe that anything is possible. I firmly believe that every community should have a place like Overpeck to grow closer to their community and grow closer to themselves. I also believe that people that already have these beautiful parks should be sure to take advantage of them and to spend more time there. The transformation from landfill to Overpeck Park was truly the transformation that transformed my life.

Danielle Pedoto is a junior at Saint Thomas Aquinas College, majoring in Therapeutic Recreation. She is very artistic and loves to express herself through painting, coloring, and writing. She also loves to be outdoors. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys rollerblading and just being outside in nature. When it comes to future plans, Danielle wants to be a recreational therapist for children with special needs.

Fatal Shooting of Texas Student Raises Second Amendment Issues

By Carlos Garcia

Guns don’t kill people but people do. A 23-year-old student is dead after he was shot by a campus police officer during a traffic stop in San Antonio, Texas. Robert Cameron Redus was said to be a honor student at the University of the Incarnate Word and portrayed as a good kid. Redus was pulled over by Cpl. Christopher Carter of the campus police. Redus was said to be driving "erratically at a high rate of speed" near the campus late at night. He then had a struggle with the police officer, according to police, which lead to the shooting and his death. The college has suspended Cpl. Carter and taken away his gun. Just like any other police officer, he had to hand it in and await investigation and possible trial.

The student was shot multiple times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A total of six shots were fired. The campus police commented that they do not know why there was a struggle or why six shots were needed to stop the victim. Currently Cpl. Carter is on temp leave and is being paid until further notice. This is a standard procedure in Texas. College officials commented that Carter has been with the school for seven years and has a strong background in law enforcement. This means that they are trying to say he would not fire without a reason.

Redus’ school friends and family described a very different kind of person. "Cameron was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest person," Redus' friend Annie Jones said. "So compassionate." Many have asked to keep Robert Cameron Redus in our prayers, that justice may be served. College officials commented they will not speak of the investigation until factual evidence is shown.

There is no allegation that the student was armed with a gun. A big question is whether the campus police officer should have been armed. In Texas the current gun laws allow you to purchase a firearm at the age of 18. A handgun purchaser must be 21 years old. This is something to be thinking about. “There is no legal statute specifically prohibiting the carry of a firearm other than a handgun, although there is debate as to whether doing so constitutes "disorderly conduct," notes an entry in Wikipedia on Texas gun laws. Many people do carry a firearm, and this should be regulated. If you have a concealed weapon you cannot enter the following: Federal buildings, schools, public sporting events, racetracks, correctional facilities such as jails, election places.

Our Second Amendment says we have the right to keep and the right to bear arms. This was created in a time where weapons were needed, due to people on call to fight for the country. This was colonial times where many would need to gather and fight for freedom. The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. So I would say that these laws do not apply to our current day. In my own opinion, I don’t think we need guns for civilians. We as a people do not face struggles where we need firearms daily. I feel as if people are afraid of the government coming to take over or a murderer entering their homes. If we crack down on weapon violence, we can save innocent lives.

These days many things can spark debate about being banned, but firearms are at the top of the debate. President Obama at one point tried very hard to ban the purchasing of automatic weapons. In recent news there have been many school shootings and deaths related to sales of a gun to people not stopped in doing background searches. Also guns have been taken from others that were not placed in safe keeping. We need to examine our lives and think, do we really need a gun. Many will go as far as saying a car is a weapon, but a firearm is something that has a greater killing capability.

Carlos Garcia is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Carlos is 21 years old, first generation Cuban American. He is majoring in Communications with a minor in Marketing. Carlos currently is dorming at the school, but lives in New Jersey. He wishes to one day work for an advertising firm or in a job where he can be creative and have input.

Creativity Is Vital Element in Education

By Kiera Farley

An English educator maintains that creativity is as important as the pillars of public education. He argues that strictly left-brain thinking education systems suppress creativity in children. Children are born creative and education systems are brainwashing them with their strict learning structures.

Sir Kenneth Robinson is an English author, speaker, and educator. Robinson focuses on two main ideas; first, we’re all born with deep natural capacities for creativity and systems of mass education tend to suppress them. Second, it is important that we cultivate these capacities and rethink the dominant approaches to education. He demonstrated that children are our hope for the future, and they are born creative.

In a TED Conference talk that has drawn a large number of viewers on Youtube, he argued that society is "educating the creativity out of children." He said that students were rewarded for academic talents, but not for talents in more creative areas, such as music and arts. Intelligence isn't just being good at math and science; it's being able to use the dynamic ability of the entire mind, being creative and not just logical.  He goes on to give a few examples of how kids are not afraid of taking chances even if they are wrong. He says "if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never be able to come up with anything original." By the time kids become adults, they lose that capacity. This is something that's bred in the corporate world and now taking form in educational systems.

"All kids have tremendous talents and we squander them pretty ruthlessly," says Robinson. The squandering comes from the hierarchy of our outdated education establishments worldwide with math and languages holding a spot at the top, followed by all humanistics, leaving the arts at the bottom. There is even a hierarchy among the arts, according to Robinson, music and painting are more valued than drama and dance in schools.

"Children are born artists"

Robinson uses a quote from Picasso who once said "All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up"--which is to say, kids do not grow into creativity, but grow out of it, or rather are educated out of it. Robinson makes a point that our own creativity has no value - so it is tossed aside as we get older, so much that we grow out of it.

Robinson gives a great case in point by using Gillian Lynne as an example. Gillian Lynne is a choreographer best known for her work in Cats and Phantom of the Opera. During an interview with her, Robinson asked how she came to be a dancer. Lynne explained that as a child, her school believed she had a learning disorder because she couldn’t sit still, she was always fidgeting. So she was taken to the doctor and after hearing all of the problems she was having, the doctor took her mother outside the room and turned on the radio for Gillian as they left. After they left, Gillian began to dance and the doctor told her mother to look. The doctor explained, “Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer, take her to a dancing school.” 

So Gillian was brought to a dancing school and felt so happy. She grew up to eventually own her own dance company, be responsible for some of the most successful musical productions in history, bring pleasure to millions, and become a multimillionaire, Robinson noted. Had she gone to a different doctor, he added, perhaps she might have been put on medication and told to calm down.

He finishes with saying “we need to rethink the fundamentals principles in which we’re educating our children.”

Industrial age schools outmoded

The United States ranked 17th in an assessment of education systems in 50 countries, according to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The problem with American education systems is that they are an outdated relic of the early 20th century, where the object was to train a child to have a mindset and skills required to work in a factory job long hours of the day, as at that time when mandatory public schools were instituted, that was the main expectation of children. As the industrial age faded and the US entered the era of high tech private sector jobs, the education system failed to reflect that change, and they’re still training us to have the mindset for an industrial job, not a job in today’s job market. The education systems we have are essentially preparing our youth for jobs that do not exist anymore.

The methods that the US education systems use are detrimental to the education of our country’s youth. Children are brainwashed to believe that their intelligence is based on the scores they receive on standardized tests. Every individual learns in different ways; their abilities should not be determined solely on the marks they receive with testing. Because of this education system, students are more focused on receiving good grades than on discovery of new ways of thinking. Children are losing their creativity based on these education structures.

A 2002 study at Michigan University found that 80% of students surveyed based their self-worth on academic performance. This leaves students who are more creative in their learning techniques to believe that they are failures. It needs to be understood that some people are born with creativity as their most productive asset.  When schools take away opportunities to be creative, they are taking away a student’s opportunity to succeed.

For more information:

Kiera Farley is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring in Communication Arts.

The Confessions of Joe Jonas

By Chelsea Broughton

Most people that have heard of the Jonas Brothers know that they have a squeaky clean image. The three brothers, Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas, grew up as the sons of a pastor in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Early this month, the middle brother, Joseph, released some intimate details of his and his brother’s lives to Vulture, an entertainment news website. In this article, which originally appeared in New York Magazine, Joe revealed that he might not be the “good boy” that the public knows him to be.

The Jonas Brothers started their band at a young age. Nick was 12, Joe was 15 and Kevin was 17. It began when Nick got his own record deal, but the family came up with the idea of the three brothers being in a band together. Their journey to the top was not easy. “Those early touring years were rough … It was always a struggle because every single night we were walking into hate. Sometimes people flipped us off, threw water bottles at us,” Joe recalled. This changed when the boys signed up with Disney.

It was never obvious to the public that the Jonas Brothers were unhappy with being a part of Disney. It was Disney that gave them the fame they eventually received, but being associated with that brand made them feel restricted. “Being a part of a company like that comes with certain expectations.” Joe describes the media train that they had to go though, which he hated. The boys were so afraid of making a mistake that they felt pressure to be these perfect teen idols. “We were just kids. That’s the reality. We were frightened little kids. So you got all this responsibility that’s foisted upon you and you’re expected to be perfect.”

In the media training the Jonas Brothers were taught not to answer any risqué questions and how to change the subject. They were each assigned to answer specific categories of questions. It was a routine for them.

Being a part of Disney meant getting their own television series. The show was called “Jonas” where the boys played a version of themselves where they were high-schoolers in a famous rock band. The series aired for two seasons and Joe exposes that he was not the biggest fan of the show. “But the thing about the show was that some of the writing on it was terrible. It just ended up being some weird slapstick humor that only a 10-year-old would laugh at.”

Joe also confesses his unhappiness with experiences he has had with fans. Since their primary fan base was mainly screaming teenage girls, they were put in situations that they weren’t always comfortable with. He describes how during their concerts they would be having an intimate moment with the crowd, but they would all be screaming, which Joe felt ruined the moment. He wished they would just calm down and enjoy the moment with them. The hysteria overwhelmed him as well. “It could get scary, too: We did a meet-and-greet in Spain, and like 100,000 people showed up and we ended up being chased through a shopping mall.”

One major aspect of the Jonas Brothers’ fame was their purity rings. Joe revealed that they got the rings when they were very young and they were supposed to symbolize their promise to God that they would remain virgins until marriage. The Jonas’ did not like talking about the rings in interviews and were very uncomfortable with it. They felt that the rings were the focus of many of their interviews, when they just wanted to talk about music. Many parents loved the fact that the band their daughters were obsessed with talked about abstinence, but that was not what the Jonas Brothers wanted to be known for. They did not want to influence their fans’ decisions about their sex lives.

The rings were restricting them from being able to write music the way they wanted to. Disney would not allow them to have lyrics that could be considered remotely sexual. “It felt like we couldn’t be creative, so we stopped listening to them and just started handing shit in.”

When the boys stopped wearing their rings in 2011, the media went crazy with rumors about the reason why. Joe clears it all up. “I lost my virginity when I was 20. I did other stuff before then, but I was sexually active at 20.”

Kevin had said in a previous interview that he did wait until marriage to lose his virginity and it is unknown whether or not Nick stuck to his purity promise.

Joe also opens up about his relationships. He says he does not have any negative feelings towards any of his exes, which he has a lot of. He talks about his most talked about relationship, which was with his friend Demi Lovato. After the two broke up in 2011, Demi revealed that she had been struggling with depression, drug abuse and an eating disorder. She ended up going to a rehabilitation center where she turned her life around. Joe’s relationship with Demi was during the height of Demi’s problems. They were on tour together and Demi was acting out. She ended up punching one of the dancers on tour in the face, which is when she went away to rehab, according to Joe's account in Vulture . This is also when their relationship ended.

Another shocking confession Jonas had was about his own drug and alcohol use. “The first time I smoked weed was with Demi and Miley. I must have been 17 or 18. They kept saying, ‘Try it! Try it!’ so I gave it a shot, and it was all right.” He then expressed that he still does partake in the use of marijuana occasionally, but not very often. Before Joe turned 21, he was in another country where it was legal to drink alcohol at 16 so he did so and it caused another media uproar. On his actual 21st birthday he reveals that he might have had a little too much fun.

“My 21st birthday, I fell down a flight of stairs. I was unconscious that time, and my whole team was scared to death that somebody was going to get a picture.” Luckily for Jonas, nothing about that incident was ever released until now.

The last thing that Joe touched upon was the recent breakup of the Jonas Brothers. “We hit a place where we just weren’t jelling on the same things, and we didn’t want to become a band that was worried about the fact that people didn’t understand how cool we were,” Jonas said. “The whole situation was breaking us up as a family, and we ultimately felt like we were holding each other back.”

Though they weren’t always truthful about their ideals and opinions, the Jonas’ did truly care about their family. Moving on from the group was a hard decision for the brothers, but they ultimately believed it was the right choice, Joe said. “Now that I’m 24 and have control of my life, I’m going back to the drawing board.”

All three Jonas brothers are hopeful for their future as they go down different paths to be the individuals they have always wanted to be.

For more information:

Chelsea Broughton is a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College studying communications arts.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Alex Rodriguez: Will He Lead the League in Suspensions?

By Doug Miller

New York Yankees Third Base Alex Rodriguez was suspended through the 2014 season and All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece. On Monday, the Major League Baseball organization disciplined 13 players over drug tests, the most players punished since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago.

The hardest penalty was reserved for Rodriguez, a three-time most valuable players and baseball’s highest-paid player. His suspension covers 211 games. Rodriguez has until Thursday to appeal his case. If he does, he will remain eligible to play until a decision by the arbitrator. Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with the Texan Rangers from 2001 to 2003 but has repeatedly denied using then since. He was suspended under both the drug agreement and labor contract.

Major League Baseball said that the penalty for his drug use was performances-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years. His penalty under the labor contract was “for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstructed and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.” The other 12 players have already agreed to their 50-games penalty.

The suspensions are thought to be the most at once for off-the-field conduct since 1921, when Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned eight Chicago White Sox players for life for throwing the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati. They had been suspended by the team the previous year and were penalized by baseball even though they had been acquitted of criminal charges.

Alex Rodriguez was the lone holdout. Baseball’s drug agreement says the appeal hearing shall start no later than 20 days after the filing of the grievance, and the arbitrator’s decision will be 25 days after the hearing starts. However, the schedule can be altered by agreement of management and the union.

Should Rodriguez take the deal or appeal his case to the Major League Baseball Board and the court? If he had taken the deal, would he be only suspended for 50 games rather than 211 games? If not, did the MLB make a good decision by suspended Rodriguez for 211 games?

After Alex Rodriguez gets his suspension, what are the Yankees going to do with him? Are the Yankees going to release him or keep him on the team? Another question for the Yankees is are they going to pay him while he is not playing? If the owners of the Yankees do not pay him, he, could sue the team for not paying him. The Yankees hope that they can work a deal with Rodriguez about the money.

Doug Miller is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College and I am on the STAC Track Team. My major is Communications Arts. When I am not at school or at track practice, I am hanging out with friends and play three other sports: basketball, baseball, and soccer.

Hayao Miyazaki's Legacy

By Alex Gilmartin
In the world of animation, there are few who are as highly respected as renowned director Hayao Miyazaki. A Japanese director who makes animated films, Miyazaki is best known for films such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Considered the Japanese Walt Disney, Miyazaki’s films are among the most visually stunning any audience could experience.

Hayao Miyazaki first got his start in 1979, when he directed the film Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. But his first major hit was his anti-war film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which reflect his own pacifistic views. Miyazaki would go onto co-found Studio Ghibli, which is widely considered one of the best animation companies in all of Japan.

Like any director, Miyazaki has his own themes he conveys through his films; the most common of these themes being flight. Miyazaki believes, as humans, that flight is liberating. This theme appears in nearly all of his films, most notably in Kiki’s Delivery Service, which tells the story of a young girl who can fly. Another common theme of Miyazaki’s is childhood and children. Nearly all of Miyazaki’s protagonists are children or at the very least youths. Miyazaki believes that childhood is a time when "you're protected by your parents and unaware of the problems around you.”

In what is possibly his most iconic film, My Neighbor Totaro, the children are able to see a fantastical world while the adults are not. And Spirited Away deals with growing up in a world where good and evil are constantly battling. Miyazaki has expressed concern towards the children of today and their reliance on the virtual world and tends to model the children in his films after children near him who wish to understand the world.

His environmental nature is also reflected in many of his works. But unlike many other environmental message films, Miyazaki does not hammer in his messages, but rather lets the viewer see and feel nature through the eyes of the characters. In Princess Mononoke, the film tackles nature vs. man. But instead of villainizing man, Miyazaki weights the pros and cons of battling nature. Ultimately, the spirit of nature is destroyed and the humans must work to preserve what is left for the sake of the future.

But what may be Miyazaki’s most fascinating theme is good and evil. While Miyazaki’s early works have clear-cut villains in them, his later works have no true villain. While there are some antagonistic forces at play, they’re never evil. Spirited Away is a film about co-existing with good and evil as opposed to destroying evil. And Kiki’s Delivery Service has no antagonist at all. The film’s heroine is strong enough to engage viewers with her own journey to adulthood. Though Miyazaki is by no means an optimist, he prefers to show children a brighter side of the world.

Miyazaki is called a feminist by his coworkers. Many, if not all, of his films have female leads. Miyazaki’s female characters are not damsels in distress either. They are all strong, likeable, and fun characters that a viewer can like easily. In his films, there are workplaces filled with strong women doing all of the work, where normally one would assume the men would work. Miyazaki flips the tables on conventional gender roles common in Japanese culture and put women at the head.

Miyazaki has been directing for thirty four years and has announced that his latest film, The Wind Rises, will be his last, retiring at the age of seventy-two. Miyazaki believes it is time for him to step down and allow a new generation of talented animators to step up and make new films. He also finds that the work that goes into animation is quiet strenuous, especially for a man at his age. Though, fellow Studio Ghibli animator Isao Takahata has said that Miyazaki’s retirement may be non-permanent: "I think there is a decent chance that may change. I think so, since I've known him a long time. Don't be at all surprised if that happens."

Hayao Miyazaki is quite possibly the most famous animator since Walt Disney himself, and though his retirement saddens many of his loyal fans, they are grateful for a treasure trove of inspiring films.

Alex Gilmartin is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas College studying to become a writer. He is a fan of animation in all forms and enjoys analyzing different shows and movies. He has an identical twin who shares his interest. In his spare time, Alex and his brother Ted make parodies on the Internet.

Christmas Spirit

By Jordan Klingler

As you know, Christmas is right around the corner.  That means most of us will be seeing our family members, eating a ton of food, and exchanging gifts with one another. A lot of stress is put on people this time of the year, whether it is because of finals in school or just worried about somebody not liking a gift you purchased for them. People get so stressed they sometimes forget to enjoy the holiday season.

They forget that there are so many different things they can go see; for example, the tree in Rockefeller Center  If you are feeling stressed, nothing will help you to better relax then getting into the Christmas spirit by seeing one of the biggest trees around.

While you are in NYC you might as well go see Macy’s Christmas windows and see what they have going on in the windows this year! If you are really feeling like getting into the spirit of Christmas you can even cut down your very own Christmas tree! While in the city you might as well go see the Rockettes at Rockefeller Center.  They are all about Christmas spirit, because they decorate everything they possibly can.

Another way to get into the Christmas spirit is to watch Christmas movies such as Elf or a classic like Home Alone. A tradition my family has is to watch the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve, because there is nothing like seeing Ralphie get his Red Ryder BB Gun!

Lastly, do some Christmas shopping. Buying gifts for people is another way to get into the Christmas spirit.  Christmas is all about giving and enjoying the time you have with your family. Also, seeing the joy people get from the gifts that are given to them and remembering why we are celebrating this special day is what Christmas is about.

Jordan Klingler is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He is majoring in Communications and minoring in Marketing. Klingler is hoping to land a job doing video editing or filming when he graduates in 2015. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Big Flap in Small Town over Curbing Volunteer Fire Fighters

By Tim Tedesco

On December 4, 2013 Spring Valley, NY Mayor Demeza Delhomme prohibited village employees who are volunteer firefighters from responding to fires or emergencies during working hours, igniting a debate about whether the policy endangers lives and property. Shortly after taking office, Delhomme declared that his top priority was cleaning up the small village and instilling more efficient management. He said any serious fires — and Spring Valley firefighters’ top 1,000 calls annually — can be handled by other village volunteers or other departments can be called to provide mutual aid.

“Every five minutes we have a false alarm,” Delhomme said, according to a local newspaper, The Journal News. “We can’t have people leaving their jobs. Everybody leaves work and comes back three hours later and then they go home. There has to be controls. They work for the taxpayers. My job is to change how things are run.”

This sparked an incredibly angry response from not only the Spring Valley Fire Department, but also caught the attention of departments and blog websites nationwide. “The Fire Critic,” regarded as one of the most insightful, enjoyable, popular firefighter blog websites, called Mayor Delhomme's actions “a brand new and completely idiotic precedence.” “The Fire Critic” is a Lieutenant for a Volunteer Department in Virginia.

This action has also sparked talks about its legality. According to New York State law, there is no law that state employers must let volunteer firefighters leave work for a fire call, but there is a law that prohibits employers from firing an employee because he/she left work to respond to an emergency. So in a sense, the Mayor's action is negated. 

The public also criticized his “rely on the mutual aid towns to help” theory because all of Spring Valley’s mutual aid towns are also 100% volunteer. In fact, there is not one single fully paid staffed fire department in Rockland County. The County is made up of 26 volunteer departments. So the question that is raised is “why rely on the neighboring towns to do exactly what you don’t want your firefighters to do?”

The Mayor commented that he believes firefighting in the village will continue unaffected, despite the fact that most of the village’s volunteer firemen work at the DPW, highway department, and other local tax funded departments; the same departments that he is trying to keep firemen from leaving from. Even a fellow mayor in nearby Haverstraw called Delhomme's ban a “dumb policy.” After just three days of uproar in the town among residents and firefighters, along with firefighters nationwide, the Mayor rescinded his ban.

Tim Tedesco is a 19-year-old junior at St Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Communication Arts. He enjoys being a Volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Mahwah, NJ and also volunteers with the Sparkill Fire Department while he attends St Thomas Aquinas. His love for the fire service has opened up an interest in writing articles about the different things going on in the fire service around the country.

Life Beyond Drug Abuse

By Angela Marchese

Dan is a 22-year-old college student whose life has been affected by drug abuse. It all started when he was just 14. His older brother, who at the time was 17, had been using drugs for a while and he introduced them to Dan. Dan admitted he was open to anything and when I asked him why he was so open he said, “Can’t bash it until you try it.”   Dan told me he remembered the night like it was yesterday. They were sitting at a friend's house and they were all talking about what to do that night and the idea of smoking weed can come up. For Dan this was an unusual thing to do on a Saturday night. Dan was used to playing video games instead of getting high. From that night on Dan fell in love with the idea of enhancing his life with a stimulant. He never thought about altering his life until then.

After Dan went on about his first use, he got very quiet. He admitted that the first night he had used drugs was the best as well as the worst day of his life. His life changed from that day on. It took him away from more important things that he should have been focusing on. He started doing poorly in school, lost all focus on his future and even stopping caring about his health.  He went night and day with his drug use. His drugs were his best friends since Dan lost most of his friends. They did not like who he became, but Dan didn’t care, he had his drugs. For the nest 6 years Dan made some poor choices. He drove under the influence of drugs and totaled his car. He also started selling drugs in order to make more money. He lost his job due to the fact he showed up to work under the influence. Dan’s parents became worried as well as over-protective of him.

Dan had been abusing drugs for 6 years before he realized how much he was hurting not only himself but also his family. His friends were going of to college and getting jobs and all Dan would do was get high and not worry about a thing. He realized that he could no longer live his life like this. He was being immature and selfish. He waned to make his parents proud as well as himself proud. He decided to quit his bad habit and apply to college, and he did so. He is now drug free as well as a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey studying accounting. I asked him if anything positive came out of his drug abuse and he replied, “it gave me the perspective of what other people could go through. If I never did it then I would never understand ... how hard quitting is and how it affects people.” Before making any choices in his life, he thinks about how it will affect his future. Dan has become a cautious human being.

It looked as if he still had more to say. I asked him if he would like to add anything and he said yes. He told me that his past drug use is still affecting him till this day. He added, “it is a part of me and it is who I am now. I don’t hold back from things because of my past, it only encourages me to improve myself and I refuse to look down on myself. ... I saw drugs as harmless because I didn’t know the effect and it never affected my brother, but now I know to think twice before doing anything because you never know how it will affect your life in the future. And I learned that just because if didn’t affect something doesn’t mean it won't affect you.”

This was the first time Dan had talked to someone about his drug use. He was happy that I got the chance to talk with him. He feels as though a weight has been lifted off his chest because now someone else knows what he went through. He asked if I judged him at all throughout the interview. I told him no because you wouldn’t be the way you are today if you had not experienced your past. He smiled and closed the interview with, “thank you for listening to me and understanding me. You have my full permission to write about anything that I said. I have no shame in who I was.”

Angela Marchese, a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College majoring in communication arts, has a passion for detail and making people smile. She has an outgoing personality that makes people feel extremely comfortable. She has been working as a wedding and event planner for 3 years. She plans to combine her love of planning events with her communications background to become involved in corporate communications as well as corporate events.

Death of a Hero: Nelson Mandela

By Gregory Cordone

Perhaps it is fitting that you name a boy Rolihlahla.  Rolihlahla translates to “troublemaker,” and is the birth name of Nelson Mandela.  Mandela was a revolutionary whose nonviolent protests had him tried and imprisoned for twenty-seven years.  Mandela’s troublemaking would lead to the collapse of apartheid and equality for millions.  His death in December, at age 95, was mourned by people around the world.

Mandela’s father Gadla was counselor to the monarch, but was removed from position by standing against the unjust demands of the magistrate.  It is the same stubbornness instilled in his son that would end racial apartheid in South Africa.

On July 18, 1918, Gadla’s third wife gave birth to Nelson Mandela.  Mandela would be privileged enough to attend Methodist school at age seven while he lived as a cattle herder with his mother and sisters in Qunu.  It was at this westernized school that he was given the English name Nelson.

At age nine Mandela was left under the watch of regent Jongintaba Dalindyebo, who raised him like a son.  Mandela continued his studies as a devoted Christian and lover of African history.  His interest in African culture persisted despite the stress of western superiority taught at the prestigious Methodist College he attended.   Mandela studied English, anthropology, politics, native administration, and Roman Dutch law at the University of Fort Hare.  Though at that point he avoided involvement with the independent South Africa movement he would represent his fellow students attempting to improve the school’s food quality.  His reform efforts got him suspended and Mandela never received a degree.

Mandela fled to Johannesburg in early 1941 to escape arranged marriage.  Mandela worked as a clerk in a law firm full of ANC (African National Congress) supporters.  He would attend communist talks and parties with them and was taken back by the racial equality and diversity amongst them.  Mandela slowly joined the ANC cause and became more political; at the same time, he continued his studies for a bachelor’s degree. 

Mandela faced racism as the only native African student at the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law.  Around this time in 1943, Mandela helped push for the creation of the African Nation Congress Youth League (ANCYL) which united young Africans to oppose their subjugation.  One year later he married his first wife, Evelyn Mase.

In 1947 Mandela was appointed ANCYL secretary.  He butted heads with the ideas of the ANCYL president, Peter Mda.  Later In 1947, Mandela was elected to the executive committee of the ANC, under regional president C.S. Ramohanoe.   After Ramohanoe acted against the Committee by working with Indians and communists, Mandela helped force his resignation.

After the 1948 general election the National party was formed.  This racialist party, born from leaders approved by white voters (the only people allowed to vote), created a system of racial segregation called apartheid. 

Mandela was appointed ANC president in 1950; He was also elected ANCYL president that same year.  Throughout the decade Mandela would take part in nonviolent defense campaigns preaching against apartheid. 

After seeing no alternative but armed resistance left, Mandela was apprehended for treason in 1956.  He had been banned from public appearances and the organizations he led received bans.  Mandela was put on a six year trial which ended in a non-guilty verdict. After attempts to plan a strike while incognito Mandela was apprehended in 1962.  He was arrested and imprisoned.  Mandela remained in prison for 27 years. 

Upon release in 1990, Mandela went on the affirmative; he toured the world pleading with world leaders to support sanctions against the apartheid government.  Mandela worked tirelessly, as if he was never gone, all without ever personally raising a gun. After two sessions, the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) would lead to the dissolving of apartheid and a democratic election was held for 1994.

From 1994 to 1999 Mandela served as the president of South Africa.  He created several programs to provide adequate sanitation, water and electricity to his people.  The Land Restitution Act of 1994 enabled people who had lost their property as a result of the Natives Land Act, 1913 to claim back their land. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997 improved the rights for all workers. In terms of foreign affairs, Mandela recommended other nations resolve problems by the South African example and his ideas of soft diplomacy. 

Mandela retired in 1999, but continued activism and philanthropy.  He appeared for and spoke for dozens of causes at international meetings, all for the betterment of man.  On December 6th 2013, he died of lung infection.  The world lost one of the greatest human rights activists of the last century and perhaps recorded time, a peaceful fighter for the people, an educated revolutionary and nationalist…our Rolihlahla.

Gregory Cordone is a 19-year-old sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College.  He is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts and is Vice-President of the STAC Communication Arts Club.  Upon graduation, Greg hopes to get into television production through his father's work connections at CBS, and would like to work more in music production and audio. Greg has been a musician for many years and hopes his passions and professions may one day be the same. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cookies for a Cause Event


Aunt Mia’s Sweets
36 Orangetown Plaza
Orangeburg, NY 10962

Business Website:

Contact: Elaine Winship 845-398-4329,                                                                                        


ORANGEBURG, N.Y., December 3, 2013 – Maria Caputo, sole owner/operator of Aunt Mia’s Sweets in Orangeburg, is hosting a holiday event called “Santa Sweet & Greet” on Thursday, December 5th  from 1-3 p.m. at her shop. Caputo is working to collect toys with the Rockland County Toys for Tots organization throughout the month of December; she will also be donating a percentage of her total cookie sales on December 5th to Toys for Tots in the “Cookies for a Cause” event.           

Local individuals and families are welcome to participate in the events, enjoy a free cookie sample, and have their picture taken with Santa from 1-3 p.m. People will be encouraged to donate gifts for children to the box provided by Toys for Tots from December 5th- 24th.

Caputo truly enjoys giving back to the community, especially around the holidays, so she was thrilled to announce her first annual “Santa Sweet & Greet,” as well as “Cookies for a Cause” events. “These events are all about making people smile. That is what the holidays are all about and by providing events that will make people happy is the least that I can do,” says Caputo, who further enjoys offering her cookie shop as a toy drive drop off location. “Any toy would be appreciated, we are not looking for anything specific, just a toy that will brighten up a child’s holiday,” says Caputo. ________________________________________________________________________________
Aunt Mia’s Gourmet Cookie Shop is located at 36 Orangetown Plaza in Orangeburg, NY. The cookie shop is owned by Maria Caputo and has been in business since February.14th, 2012. The shop is closed on Mondays, opened Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 p.m.-6 p.m, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m, Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aunt Mia’s Sweets caters corporate events, private bridal/baby showers and even birthday parties. Maria’s main objective is to make people smile and one way she does that is by allowing her customers to try her cookies and get a feel for the “Ultimate Cookie Experience.” Follow Maria on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Visit Maria’s website to see her products and to also make online orders:
-- Carlos Garcia                                                 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

News Writing Tips

By Matt Cavallo

In the book Newswriting on Deadline, there is a piece written about a reporter named Ross Markman, who is only one of three reporters for the Montana newspaper Havre Daily News. This piece on Markman is a perfect example to show young up and coming journalists what it takes to be a great reporter. It includes a story that Markman wrote about people exceeding a two-hour parking limit that was set on streets in downtown Havre. They also include Markman reflecting on the pieces he has written and the format he uses to report on a story.

Markman emphasizes that “A reporter has to do his homework before a meeting ever starts,” notes book editor Tony Rogers. To be well prepared when reporting a story, he says it is crucial to be ready beforehand so you know what’s going on in any event that you are covering.

This piece also talks about how Markman writes his story and how he prepares for a meeting or an event he has to cover. For example, Markman always finds out the agenda of the event he is covering and gets as much background information as possible. Markman sometimes writes background copy or B-copy before the meeting starts. Then when the meeting or event he is covering is over he can just top the background copy with the new information he just heard. Markman’s method is crucial for busy reporters. “There is no excuse for a reporter not doing this kind of preparation,” adds Rogers.

Another tip that Markman gives is that a key to covering meetings and other events is figuring out how the story begins, or figuring out what is the lead. He says to determine what the lead of the story is “You have to determine what’s newsworthy, I think of issues in terms of how they affect people. …Everything they do in these meetings has an effect on somebody.”

I think this piece is very well written and will help new reporters format their style of reporting. This piece will also help new reporters correct the mistakes that they make when they cover a story. If you are a young journalist looking for some advice and looking to brush up on your reporting skills,  check out this article on Ross Markman and look up some more stories that Markman has written for the Havre Daily News.

Greek Life Is More Than Parties

By Carlos Garcia

Some amazing statistics and facts of Greek life. There are 9 million Greek members nationally. Of the 50 largest corporation heads, 43 are lead by Greek members; 85% of leaders of Fortune 500 companies belong to a fraternity or sorority and76% of all congressmen and senators belong to a fraternity. Most presidents of the United States have been a part of a fraternity.

Being in a fraternity or sorority is proven to have a higher graduation rate. I feel that these facts are really informative and really interesting. On many campuses, Greek life can truly dictate fun and entertainment.  Being Greek does not necessarily mean everything is about parties. Often there is a large amount of professionalism to each fraternity or sorority.

In my personal experience, I am a member of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity. This fraternity enabled me to experience many things and learn a lot about myself. As an individual on campus, you may be seen differently or held to a higher stander because of what you represent. Just like how a police officer must conduct him or herself differently with a uniform on. Often times people think of a fraternity as a binge drinking hangout. In reality, most college parties get like that. Fraternities and sororities have a lot more to offer than just alcohol.

As a brother, you have to learn how to work with people and how to manage a budget and have events. This is great because as a future employer you look for people with qualities that are very similar. For example, if your boss needs you to coordinate a event you may have already gained that experience in college. Often even at work, you have people you cannot get along with but need to in order to get the job done. As brothers you need to work with each person’s different personalities, so it teaches you a good lesson for the workplace.

For more information:

Remembering Summer in Spain

By Mario D’Urso

Everyone loves to go on vacation, but nobody enjoys their vacation like my brother. I interviewed my brother Nico D’Urso, asking him what was his most memorable experience, and he spoke about his last trip to Spain.

“Spain is the most beautiful country to ever visit and I’m going to need to find a new vacation spot to top this if it’s possible,” my brother said after he explained how our family will be selling our vacation house in Spain. I asked him what his most memorable part of the trip was and he sighed, smiled at me and said “It’s going to have to be between the nightlife and the beach.” He said the nightlife in Spain is incredible; “ It’s a total free for all in that country and everyone is just looking to make friends and be happy.” He enjoyed the people, the music, and the atmosphere in the clubs of Spain.

He spoke about how he loved being able to wake up and walk to a beautiful beach. Being from North Jersey, the only beaches he has are always an hour away from him, so he enjoyed the walking distance to the beach. “Waking up and being able to throw on my bathing suit and walk down the block to the beach was probably, now that I think about it, the best part of the vacation.”

To have a house that is walking distance from the beach is absolutely convenient and relaxing, he said. Spain is a beautiful vacation spot and anybody who is lucky enough to visit should soak up every minute because my brother has nothing but great memories and great things to say about his vacation. He is disappointed that the family will be selling the old house they would stay at. But later during the interview he explained to me that there may be hope for another summer in Spain.

“My dad loves going to Spain almost as much as I do and throughout the vacation I saw him checking out new houses that were for sale, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we make another visit to Spain this summer,” Nico added. “The experience of being in Europe and experiencing the culture of the people was also something I won’t forget, the difference between American culture and European culture is so different but so similar in many ways.”

Sports and the Dangers of Steroids

By Tim Tedesco

A few years ago I had the opportunity to sit in on a motivational speaker from the Taylor Hooten Foundation. The Taylor Hooten Foundation was founded in memory of Taylor Hooten, a high school baseball player from Plano, Texas. On June 15, 2003 he hung himself after a long battle of depression directly related to his use of anabolic steroids. The foundation was formed to travel the nation and speak to high school and college student athletes about the dangers of anabolic steroid use.

Many student athletes in high school and college turn to anabolic steroids in order to enhance their performance on the field. What they do not consider is the potential harm they can do to one’s body.

The speech was a mandatory event for all St Thomas Aquinas College student athletes, so that all student athletes could see the effect that anabolic steroids had a person who was their age or younger. Taylor Hooten was a tremendous pitcher and one of the stars of his varsity baseball team. After Taylor began experimenting with steroids, he saw the benefits on the field, but he always wanted more. His family’s doctor told them the depression was most likely caused from the sudden halt in his steroid use, which caused a withdrawal in his body; similar to that of a headache one would get if he/she didn’t have their morning coffee.

The mission of the Taylor Hooten Foundation is to spread the word that anabolic steroids are dangerous to our bodies and our health, and to show that there is no shortcut to success; you must work for everything you want. It is also a goal of the foundation to help any athlete that is currently using anabolic steroids to stop using and to counsel them to keep them from becoming depressed or hurting themselves. The foundation has grown over the years and has partnered with the MLB, NHL, The New York Yankees, and other major sport organizations in efforts to stop anabolic steroid use in sports.

Open Mic Night

For Immediate Release

Tamara, Event Coordinator,

Open Mic Night to Showcase Musical Talents

On December 2nd, the McNelis Commons Lounge will be holding STAC’s first Open Mic Night. Do you want to show off your amazing vocal abilities? Then Open Mic Night is right for you. If you are interested in participating, sign up with RA Tamara by contacting her by Email. There will be refreshments provided and even raffles going on! So come by for a fun time even if you weren’t blessed with the voice of an angel! It all begins at 8pm; you don’t want to miss it.

WHO:     Students and event organizers of St. Thomas Aquinas College

WHAT:   “Open Mic Night”

WHEN:   Monday, December 2, 2013

WHERE:  McNelis Commons Lounge, St. Thomas Aquinas College

WHY:      To give students the opportunity to showcase their talents and also enjoy fellow students perform.  Also, to give students a break from their studies.

Questions regarding the event should be directed to Tamara, Event Coordinator,

-- Kiera Farley

Making a PR Campaign

By Jake Bogosian

Maria Caputo, owner of the local Aunt Mia's Sweets, a gourmet cookie shop, gives neighboring college students a real life chance to use their Public Relations skills. The small business owner in Orangeburg NY worked extensively this fall with the St. Thomas Aquinas College public relations class to research, plan, and organize team work to put a real life public relations plan into play.

Maria took time out of her busy schedule of running her own business to come to the local college to explain her business plan to the students. She gave the students a chance to ask questions, creating an interview situation where she answered everything they asked, sharing her PR goals so they would know the real expectations of a PR campaign. Then the students came up with their own campaigns and pitched them to her.

By giving the students real life event planning, it gets them ready for on the job situations they will face as PR professionals. She also taught the students how to use social media platforms to coordinate all the information related to the PR campaign. This is extremely important for the seniors in the class who need this hands-on experience in the field they are hoping to get a job in, after graduating in six months. Maria really enriched the learning experience, helping the students to understand the world of Public Relations communication through a live experience.

When Maria was asked about why she would take time out of her busy schedule to help a the local students, she said, “It feels really good to give back to the community that supports me; being able to give a hand to the next generation of PR professionals is the least I could do.” When the students were asked about how much what Maria is doing for the class, one student summed it up: “Not only is this practice essential for us to succeed in the field of PR, but is a huge resume point that could get me the job over the next person.”

Finding the Sweet Spot

For Immediate Release

Aunt Mia’s Sweets
36 Orangetown Shopping Center
Orangeburg New York 10962

Sweet Shop, Students and Santa Meet Up
Whether you are a Communication Arts major, or are simply are interested in helping out the community, Aunt Mia’s Sweet Shop is leading a class from St. Thomas Aquinas College to promote their business and to give students a hands-on experience in public relations.

The owner of Aunt Mia’s, Mario Caputo is donating some of her time on Thursday, December 5th, going to Nyack Hospital, a Soup Kitchen and an Elderly Home with the Public Relations class. She is doing this because she wants to give back to the community. She is going to be donating cookies to all of the three places mentioned above, to help them out.

On December 5th, Mario Caputo is also doing a meet and greet with Santa Claus! After you have taken your picture with Santa Claus, come into Aunt Mia’s Sweet Shop and buy some of her sweets. When you buy her cookies, brownies and/or cakes, you can donate a toy to the children. She is going to bring the toys to the kids who are in need of a gift for the holidays. By promoting this to the community, she is giving back to the community and is getting her business’ name out there. She really wanted to put a smile on peoples’ faces. The only way she can do this is with your help. You can help by partnering up with the Public Relations class for this event, and help them help her give back to the community.

-- Doug Miller

New York Comic Con

By Alex Gilmartin
It would seem as if “geek” culture is becoming more and more mainstream. That’s how it feels like whenever one attends events such as the New York Comic Con. Comic Con is an event thought to be a place solely for the socially introverted and fans of geek culture. But in reality, it is much more than that. Taking place from October 9th through October 12th, in the New York Jacob K. Javits Center, Comic Con celebrates anime fans, gamers, comic readers, cosplayers, and pop culture nuts love. But it is not as odd as you may think.

Emmy Award-winning actors and producers attend conventions such as these to unveil the first trailer for the next season of shows such as Walking Dead and Doctor Who, announce new video game titles, and show sneak peaks of films such as The Hobbit or Marvel’s Avengers. It may also be the place to be among the first to pick up discount prices on some new movies or video games. It is also a great place to talk to some of your favorite actors and ask them questions. Some actors, writers, and directors will just sit in a room and lead a question and answer discussion with his or her fans. They will also sign autographs. It is not uncommon for Internet celebrities to appear at these events as well.

At a con, you will be entertained. Comic Con is a sight to behold, mostly because of the people attending. You can sit in a single place and be amazed by the creative and accurate costumes that pass you by in the hall. Cosplay is a common event at conventions. Fans will dress up as their favorite characters and take photos with fans. One can see simple costumes; such as something you would see in a costume store, to more elaborate suits such as Halo armor or a Storm Trooper.

Comic Con is a special event where nerds can prove they are as cool as any body else. They express their fandom openly and without shame. These same people volunteer to help plan these events and attend as guides and assistance. It is a community where fans help other fans to enjoy what they all love. Events such as these are held all around the world. Geeks have finally risen above their social stigma and have taken their place at the cool kid’s table.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday

By Jordan Klingler

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is one of the most anticipated days of the year by Christmas shoppers simply because people get some outrageous deals on products they otherwise would not be able to afford.  Many people gear up in the early morning ready to attack the stores.  Some people are even ready to attack other shoppers if they want something bad enough. 

Personally, I will not be traveling out to the stores on Black Friday.  I will just wait for Cyber Monday, where I know I am safe while still getting awesome deals. 

According to, in 2011, 226 million Americans traveled out on Black Friday and spent around $52 billion on merchandise.  People spend weeks trying to find the best deals and planning out what stores they are going to hit.  Many people do not realize that most stores only get a limited quantity of items, therefore if you are not first in line you are more than likely not going to get the item you want.  If you want tips on Black Friday shopping go to Google and search, “Black Friday Shopping tips.”  There you will get all of the information you will need to have a successful day of shopping.

Art of the Interview

By Tim Tedesco

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching legendary baseball analyst and radio talk show host Ed Randall interview Omar Minaya, the current Senior Vice President of baseball operations for the San Diego Padres. Minaya is known the New York/ New Jersey area for being the assistant general manager, as well as the general manager a few years later for the New York Mets. Minaya was born in the Dominican Republic but moved to Queens with his family at a very young age, where he lived out his childhood.

The interview, conducted before an audience at St. Thomas Aquinas College in a program called "Art of the Interview," started with Minaya’s background, his short lived playing days, how he got into the front office of organizations, his time with the Mets, and his time with the Expos, as well as his current position with the Padres. Minaya talked about his experiences and hardships he faced as a young general manager with the Texas Rangers, saying that the baseball business can be the most rewarding, satisfying, enjoyable thing you could possibly do, but at the same time it is the hardest business to get into and will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not putting the work in.

He faced the inevitable question of steroids, his opinion on the matter, along with specific players in regards to their alleged use. He said he was obviously against them, and wished they were never discovered. “It’s unfortunate that you young people grew up in such an era. An era that has become known as “the steroid era” . it’s a terrible thing, and a tremendous black eye for such a great game” ,he said. This coming from the man who brought Sammy Sosa, one of the most controversial players in “the steroid era” to America. Minaya signed Sammy Sosa was Sosa was just sixteen years old for the price of 3,000 dollars.

He talked about the 2006,2007,2008 seasons with the New York Mets, saying they were the most enjoyable, devastating, and heart wrenching seasons in that order. He explained that the 2006 season was so perfect because of the acquisition of Hall Of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez. He felt without signing Martinez, players like outfielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Carlos Delgado, and closer Billy Wagner would not have come to the Mets. Pairing these perennial all-stars with the young electric talent of David Wright and Jose Reyes, it was a perfect match. Though the infamous collapse of 2007, losing a 7 game lead with just 17 games to play, still weighs heavy on Minaya and Met fans across the nation.

Minaya showed no regrets about his time with the team, and admits to still rooting for the Mets. “I root for the Mets and follow the Mets because I am a New Yorker at heart," he said. "I was raised in Queens, I rode my bike to Shea Stadium with my friends, I pretended to be Tug McGraw, and Tom Seaver while playing stickball in the street with my friends. I left the Mets because it was time for a change, but I still love New York and would absolutely love to go back before I retire.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The World of Shoenice22

By Michael Benedetto
“Get on your mark, get set, Shoenice.” These are the famous words of  of YouTube sensation Christopher Schewe, better known as Shoenice22. He dreams of one day ending world hunger as well as winning a Emmy Award in what he refers to as a “field in comedy.”

His first YouTube video was published on April 11, 2008, called Shoenice22's First YouTube Video, where he talks in depth about his family of “pot heads.”

Schewe was born May 30, 1969 in Denver, Colorado, where he earned his fame around his small suburban town by eating non edible objects as well as chugging large quantities of alcohol in seconds, enough to kill someone. “When I was young I would eat grass and then it progressed to eating baking soda and eating all the ingredients in my home economics classes, the teachers always knew my group would never finish because I always ate the ingredients,” he stated.

Over a decade later, at the age of 27 Schewe found himself coping with an emotional divorce and was forced to move out of his home where he lost custody of his son. “The hardest part of it all was knowing I wasn't going to tuck my son in at night,” explained Schewe. He was then injured during a construction project that left him unemployed and unable to work. “I was bored sitting around my apartment all day with nothing to do,” he explained. “So I decided it was worth trying to make money with this talent that I have.”

“Basically I have built a very high tolerance for alcohol over many years,” said Schewe. “My stomach can go through anything.”

Schewe currently has over 100 uploaded videos on YouTube, each video has over a million views. He came very close to earning the title “King of the Web” through his amazing ability to eat and drink almost anything. “I have videos of me eating crayons, rubber cement, rolls of toilet paper, tampons, pencils, deodorant, condoms, I drink full bottles of liquor in 15 seconds or less; I basically can eat or drink anything without dying,” he said excitedly. “Not a single video is fake.”

Schewe calls himself “the professional idiot.” He makes money from all the videos he has uploaded. “I basically have people sending me free bottles of liquor and checks from YouTube, many people are jealous of me and my talent and wish they could sit in their house doing what I do,” he said.

One angry fan started a rumor that he died from ingesting rat poison. “Shoenice can't die,” Schewe said with a strong sense of confidence.

In 2011 Schewe was banned from uploading any videos and his YouTube account was deactivated by YouTube. It was reported that he was insisting that in order to be accepted as his Friend on Facebook, individuals had to pay 10 dollars. It was also believed that Schewe was trying to persuade fans to wire him large amounts of money. “All that is bull shit, I didn't do any of that,” said Schewe. “I get lots of money from my videos, Shoenice ain’t like that,” he stated in a funny voice. 

Schewe hopes to move to New York City within the year to host his very own television show. “I am done with entertaining people on Youtube, I wanna move on to bigger and better things; I was made for  TV, I want to do stand up comedy, and win a f****ing Emmy,” Schewe shouted. “It's not about the money, it's about ending world hunger doing what I do best,” and that is the legacy Schewe wants to be remembered for.

Perils of Indifference

By Chelsea Broughton

The word indifference is defined as “lack of interest or concern,” but on April 12, 1999, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel brought a deeper meaning to the word and how dangerous it can be to be indifferent. His speech was part of the Millennium Lecture series that was hosted by President Bill Clinton at the White House.

Wiesel is most well known for his many books that he has authored, especially Night, which is a memoir about his time as a Jewish teenager during the Holocaust. He was the only one of his immediate family members who survived the Nazi camps and was eventually freed by American troops.

Wiesel starts out his speech by addressing the President and the company he is in and goes right into his last experience of the Holocaust, which is when he was rescued by American soldiers and expresses his gratitude. He says, “Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being.”

Wiesel then begins to question what the legacy for the passing millennium will be as the world enters a new one. He lists all the horrible wars and tragedies that identify with the 1900’s, such as the World Wars, the assassinations of people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and all of the violence. This is where he brings in the word “indifference,” saying “so much violence, so much indifference.”

Wiesel explains that being indifferent to something tragic is supporting that tragedy: “indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim,” he states. This is because ignoring a problem just makes it larger. In his speech Wiesel addresses the fact that indifference is obviously the easy choice, but it is what allows horrible things, such as the Holocaust, to occur and continue occurring. The fact that the world was indifferent to the Holocaust for so long has affected Wiesel’s life tremendously.

He started this speech by saying that gratitude is what makes us human, but then later says that indifference is what makes us inhuman. The speech is called “The Perils of Indifference.” Perils means dangers and he explains that “Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative […] Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response.”

This speech is basically to persuade the audience and people everywhere that indifference is not the answer when something is going wrong. He asks Americans and those around the world to refrain from indifference and let the new millennium be a time where we help others and do not allow horrible things to continue on once we know about them.

This was a very compelling speech by an extremely intelligent man. Those who were there to hear it in person and the people who still read it today must feel obligated to take action when something goes wrong instead of ignoring it, which is the natural and easy response.

He ends the speech by saying, “And so, once again, I think of the young Jewish boy from the Carpathian Mountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout these years of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium, carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.” Wiesel has hope for a brighter future and a millennium with a more positive legacy, one without indifference.

Art and Mindfulness

By Angela Marchese

An Art Therapy Conference was held in the Romano Center at St. Thomas Aquinas College on Wednesday, November 6. A professional art therapist, Dr. K, spoke to students about her experience and how we can apply her techniques to our studies as well as our everyday life. 

She began the conference with an exercise. She had us practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is focusing your awareness on the present moment while you try and acknowledge your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. We all had to walk up to the front of the room and grab a piece of paper while practicing mindfulness. She made us become aware of our feet hitting the floor and how the paper felt when we grabbed it. For many, this was a tough challenge. In our fast-paced society we don’t have the time to be aware of our surroundings. For us be calm and aware is not part of our comfort zone.

She then asked us if being mindful was something we practiced in our everyday life; out of the 30 people that were there only one person practiced it. This person happened to be a therapist as well. We practiced some more on being mindful, but this time we using breathing techniques.

Breathing comes natural to us so we never stop and ask ourselves, “Am I breathing?” She had us close our eyes and breath in when she said ”one” and breath out when she said ”one” again and the same thing until we got to 10. The group of people was very diverse in age. The students had a harder time with this breathing technique because of how quickly they get distracted, while the adults were a lot more focused. She proceeded to ask us why the students and even some of the older people got distracted. The most common answer was because we felt embarrassed and uncomfortable breathing very hard in front of new people.

This feeling of being embarrassed and uncomfortable led into our final project of the night. We got to work hands-on with clay and other tactile material to create the voice inside our head that makes us feel uncomfortable or makes us do things we aren’t supposed to do. For the next 20 minutes we sculpted our little creations, but in silence. We were not allowed to talk, that way the voice inside our head would come out and be expressed through the clay.

Some people did not want to focus on the bad voice inside their head so they made something happy to try and distract from the bad voice. We closed the night by going around talking about our voice inside of our head. This art exercise was part of teaching us that by practicing mindfulness daily we can over-power that voice and come out stronger, so we can get a lot more done and feel better about ourselves. 

Two Ways of Reporting

By Kiera Farley

Lillian Ross and Ross Markman both are journalists; however, they fit into two separate classifications of reporting. Lillian Ross has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and reports on people, situations, and events that she finds appealing. Ross Markman reports for the Havre Daily News in Montana and focuses on reporting news that meets a tight deadline. These two journalists have vastly different reporting methods and each have specific strategies that fit the needs of their particular approach.

Throughout her years of journalism, Lillian Ross has created her own set of techniques that guide her through all of her newsgathering. Ross has an interesting way of generating her stories. In her memoir, Reporting Back: Notes on Journalism, she explains, “when I write my stories, it feels a bit like creating a short story, but it’s more difficult because I’m working with facts.”

Conforming to Lillian Ross’s ideas, this type of reporting is a lot more than merely getting the information and putting it into words; it’s more of taking this reported information, visualizing the scenes and stitching them together to create a story.  Ross instills a lot of heart and effort into all of her pieces, she forms a friendship with the person she is reporting, giving them the comfort to open up to her and trust in her to present them genuinely.

In the article “Real Reporter: Ross Markman” in Newswriting on Deadline, Ross Markman gives many informative tips on municipal reporting. He depicts a variety of approaches that are helpful to a reporter in meeting a tight deadline. Markman believes that you have to determine what is newsworthy in order to get a good amount of information into a report that people find interesting. He explains, “if you are writing on deadline, get background material ahead of time on the issues being discussed.”

This is a good strategy when it comes to municipal reporting, because you will already have the source information of the story arranged so you won’t have to worry about getting it in while working on the remainder of the story. Markman was willing to take on every challenge that came his way. He also has experience in writing up to ten articles a week. Markman emphasizes that work experience benefits a person in attaining a job even more than a degree does. Experience aids you with knowing how to put these particular skills to the test and improve your ability in doing so, which I feel is very important for acquiring a job.

Lillian Ross and Ross Markman do two very different types of journalism and each employ their own techniques that help them with their newsgathering. Through years of experience, they have come up with their own personal steps in achieving their journalism goals successfully. Every person has their individual method that enables them to be efficient in whatever they are doing. Ross and Markman have set out effective guidelines to assist fellow journalists to accomplish their projects.

Aftermath of a Super Storm

By Jordan Klingler

Hurricane Sandy hit the tri-state area about this time last year.  The storm touched down in Cuba and worked its way up toward the US and as it made its way up it only became bigger and stronger.  The storm was 1,100 miles long and was one of the most destructive storms in a long time.  Hurricane Sandy hit 24 states, including every single one along the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine.  Sandy was first declared a hurricane, but soon became known as a superstorm, which was the largest storm to ever touch the Atlantic coast.  The damage totaled $68 billion and we still see a lot of the damage a year later.  Many people were stranded in their homes,  did not have power for weeks if not longer, and many lost their homes.

My grandparents who live in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, were very afraid that their home would be destroyed by the hurricane.  They were told to evacuate the barrier island because if they stayed they might be stuck there for a long time with no help or access to help.  Thankfully, their home survived and only had three feet of water in their basement/garage.  Other homes in Long Beach Island were not so lucky.  For instance, many homes along the shore line were swepped off of the pilings and washed into the ocean.  As you drive down the boulevard in Long Beach Island, you can see where homes used to be because all that is left are the pilings which the houses sat upon.

People who stayed in their homes on the barrier island say they will evacuate next time and it is not something they ever want to experience again.  A lot of businesses on the island were also very affected.  Many of them will not reopen because the storm destroyed their buildings.  The storm also affected a lot of the summer business, because many people were not able to go to the houses that they rented or they figured that the island was so affected that they went to vacation somewhere else.

As we come up on the year anniversary, many people see the damage that was done.  We can now see how far we have come as well as see how strong the tristate area is because we were able to recover from a superstorm.  Many areas are still recovering and many people have yet to move back into their homes, but the progression that has been made is astronomical.  Hurricane Sandy was a storm nobody will forget and no one wishes to see another one for a very long time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

STAC Students Get Exclusive Look at Fast Money

By Gregory Cordone

STAC Business and Communication Arts Club members were treated to an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at CNBC’s stock trading talk show "Fast Money."  The trip was organized by Professors Mihall and Kahill, and marked the second trip to the Time Square studio by a St. Thomas Aquinas College group. 

Students arrived on West 42nd Street at 4:15 pm.  After parking and a taking a quick browse through some surrounding streets and stores, the group entered the studio in time for countdown at 5 pm sharp. 

Business-interested students were assured a worthwhile viewing by Senior Producer Lydia Thew, who stated, “Tesla is down…It’s going to be an interesting show.”

Watching Lydia work was good insight for the production-enthused students, as they were able to see her communicate with the control room and floor to control questions, call for graphics on screen, and follow the script to ensure perfect timing in the show’s running length.  The studio floor also demonstrated the six-camera shooting pattern and cutting between them, which created the fluent, professional appearance of the program. 

Intense discussions over serious stock drops in Tesla Motors, which social media stocks to buy and sell, the sinking gas prices, and the fate of the Art market made the trip meaningful to business majors, who got to see professional opinions unfold before them. 

“(We) love getting students, having them tuning in…I wish I started at that age,” said Tim Seymour, Cohost and founder of Triogem Asset Management.

After production ceased, students were brought onto the set for pictures and interviews with the panelists.  Several students inquired about how to become an investor.  “Everyone should put fifty bucks in some stocks with money they can afford to lose,” advised Tim. 

Copies of the day’s script for the program were given to students before leaving.  These served as professional templates for the show’s basic production in the eyes of Communication Arts club members.  The parting gift also helped business students who could assess and study each question and answer the show offered on its finance topics that day.

The trip was rounded off with dinner a short walk away at Heartland Brewery, following the wrap up of the show.  The restaurant is famous for its homemade beers and fountain sodas, as well as gourmet burgers. The STAC van returned to campus around 8 pm.  All nine attendees discussed their unanimous satisfaction with the trip and what they learned as they traversed to their individual cars or dorms. 

For any student interested in stocks and trading, but was unable to attend the club expedition, Guy Adami, a founding "Fast Money" panelist, will be speaking at St. Thomas on Thursday, November 14, at 2:30 pm in Sullivan Theater. All students are welcome to attend and ask questions.  

Bingo at STAC!

By Danielle Pedoto
With the holidays coming up, no one is willing to go out and spend a lot of money. Everyone is going to try and save as much money as possible so they can purchase gifts for their family and friends.  But with the temperatures dropping, everyone is going to want some new winter clothes. What if you were told it was possible to win free stuff? Would you want to try? If so, Saint Thomas Aquinas College is holding bingo on Tuesday, November 19th.

Bingo at STAC, is the perfect opportunity to win free stuff, while at the same time, enjoy a fun night out with your closest friends. You get to sit and relax in the warm Romano Center from 8-9 pm with your friends and enjoy a few fun games of bingo. The prizes that come along with bingo at STAC are great.

You can win anything from a mug to drink hot chocolate in during the winter months, to a warm STAC blanket that you can cuddle up in. The prizes at STAC’s bingo also can be T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and hats. All of these items can be given as gifts for your loved ones, so you can save yourself some money on their gifts! You can also of course, keep the prizes for yourself and enjoy them. The other great part about STAC bingo is that if you win something that is not your size, you can take your prize item up to the bookstore and they will exchange the item for one that is in your size.

Even though not everyone wins, it is still worth a try. It is a fun night out with friends and only lasts about an hour. Besides, someone has to win! Who knows, it could be you.  The other good part about STAC bingo is that it usually held every Tuesday at the same time in the Romano Center, so if you cannot make it one week try the next week; just be sure to check STACTIVITIES in your STAC E-Mail to confirm it is happening that night. So, come out on Tuesday night to STAC bingo and give your luck a chance.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Peace Corps: A Post-Collegiate Option to Consider

By Faye Forman 

President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961 with the intention of “promoting world peace and friendship.” With three simple, yet sustainable goals the Peace Corps has grown into the largest federally funded volunteer program for citizens in the United States. 

Its mission aims to provide service to developing countries, help promote a better understanding of Americans, and to encourage a better understanding of citizens in developing countries. With over 8,000 volunteers and trainees serving in 76 countries around the world (since 1961, 200,000 volunteers have served in 139 countries), the Peace Corps is an especially popular option for college graduates.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, it is a common practice to continue on to graduate school or go job hunting. Although these are the more popular options, it’s also important to consider alternative opportunities that can enhance your resume as well as give back to others. The Peace Corps has a variety of options for recent grads, returned volunteers and professionals. They’ve even recently implemented “short-term” placements (as opposed to a traditional 2 year term) for returning Peace Corps volunteers, consisting of 3-12 month jobs.

Placement locations can vary depending on where service is requested. A volunteer can be placed anywhere from North Africa to Asia to Europe. The actual service that the foreign country requests can be under six categories: Education, Youth and Community Development, Health Issues (HIV/AIDS Awareness), Business and Information & Communication Technology, Agriculture, and Environmental Impact Awareness. 

There is a three-month long cultural integration period where the volunteer is trained in the country’s language, educated in its culture, and prepared to spend 27 months in the foreign country. Student volunteers also reap great benefits such as student loan assistance (even deferment or cancelation), language and technical training, full medical and dental coverage, paid vacation days, a monthly living and housing allowance, and much more.

To get a glimpse of what the life of a volunteer is like, here is a recollection by Donna E. Shalala, who was placed in Iran as a Peace Corps volunteer and later was appointed by President Clinton to be the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1993:

“The day that I remember most vividly in the Peace Corps was the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. Depressed, some friends and I were not in the mood to deal with the local beggar when he approached us. But then with a sad smile, he said, ’No money. I want to tell you how sad we all are that your young president was assassinated.’ There, in a remote town halfway around the world, a distraught young Peace Corps Volunteer and a beggar embraced and cried together over the death of President Kennedy. Years later, looking back at my Peace Corps service, I realized that a wise ’mullah,’ an insensitive Dean, and students struggling to preserve a traditional society in a modern age had changed me forever. I had become a citizen of the world. Because of the Peace Corps, I was sensitive to cultural differences, comfortable sitting on mud floors and talking to tribal leaders, respectful of the role of religion, and in awe of the struggles of desperately poor people who manage to maintain their dignity and care for their children.”
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Faye Forman is a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She plays tennis on the Women’s Tennis Team at STAC and is a member of APO, a co-ed community service fraternity. Faye plans to transfer to Bard College to major in Human Rights & International Relations, and eventually become a Peace Corp Volunteer herself.

Spartan Strong: 2013 STAC Baseball Year in Review

2013 STAC Baseball Team

By Ken Kirshner

The St. Thomas Aquinas baseball team is on the verge of its best season in its long and storied history. Under the tutelage of Coach Scott Muscat and assistant John Garvey, the Spartans have already broken the record for most conference wins in a series, 18, set by the 2012 St. Thomas Aquinas baseball squad. Another record is also set up to be broken by the 2013 group by season’s end; most wins in a season in program history, 34, also set by the 2012 team. The team sits at 32-11 with three non-conference games remaining on the slate vs. Dominican College and a doubleheader against Concordia College this upcoming weekend.

The 2013 campaign started off hot for the Spartans with two impressive and signature Eastern Regional victories against Wilmington University (Del.) in a three game set. It took a game tying double by Ken Kirshner in the 8th inning and a Frank Salerno walk off a single in the 11th inning to seal the victory on opening day. The Spartans were aided by a huge opening day performance from junior lefty Eric Cooper, who worked into the 7th inning, allowing 5 hits and only 1 run before handing the ball to closer CJ Ferrigi, who shut the door.

After a tough 3-2 defeat in game two, the Spartans came back to take the series in the finale, behind junior Robert Franke, who gave the Spartans six solid innings of work, scattering 3 hits and 5 runs. The Spartans got a big performance from senior catcher Mike Russo, who slugged 3 hits while driving in 3 runs. Why were these victories so significant? If the Spartans fail to win the East Coast Conference Tournament on May 11th, they could still receive an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament because of those two wins. Wilmington currently sits at 9th in the NCAA D2 baseball rankings, 1st in the Eastern Regional, while the Spartans sit in 5th in the regional rankings.
The 2013 team is led by junior standout ace pitcher, Robert Franke, senior catcher Mike Russo, junior transfer Ken Kirshner, and freshman pitcher Robert Naughton.

Franke is having a breakout campaign for the Spartans. On April 24th, Robert Franke was named NCBWA East Region Pitcher of the Week along with ECC pitcher of the week for his performance against LIU Post in which he threw a complete game shutout, allowing just 4 hits and no walks. Franke currently sits with a record of 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA, allowing only 25 hits in over 50 innings of work. In his past four conference outings, Franke is 3-1 with an astounding ERA of 0.62. Franke received one of D2 baseball’s most prominent weekly awards, National Pitcher of the Week, something STAC has never seen in its existence.

Senior catcher Mike Russo is coming off arguably the best season a STAC hitter has ever had. Russo’s 2012 campaign consisted of winning the ECC Triple Crown Award and receiving a spot on the All-American team. Russo led the ECC in batting average, runs batted in, and home runs. He hit an incredible .381 with 44 RBI’s and 6 long balls. In 2013, Russo has already surpassed his last year’s mark of 44 RBI’s and 6 homers. Currently he is hitting .342 with 8 home runs and 49 runs batted in.
Freshman right handed pitcher Robert Naughton is on track to capture St. Thomas Aquinas’ second consecutive ECC Rookie of the Year award (won by Stanley Susana in 2012). Naughton is a perfect 5-0 on the year, posting a 1.63 earned run average in over 49 innings of work, with one complete game to his name. Just this past week, Naughton was named ECC Rookie of the Week, the second time he has captured this award in his rookie year.

Junior first baseman Ken Kirshner is also having a breakout year for the club. Kirshner got off to a nice start, hitting a game tying double down the left field line to tie the game vs. #9 Wilmington on opening night. He hasn’t looked back since. Kirshner currently leads the Spartans in hits and batting average. He is hitting .360 with 30 RBI and 16 stolen bases. He currently leads the East Coast Conference in hits with 59. In over 400 chances at first base, Ken has only committed 6 errors on the year, posting a .985 fielding percentage.

The STAC baseball team looks to close out the season on a strong note, trying to capture the ECC title for the first time in school history. They came into the 2012 tournament as the heavy favorite to take the conference, only to be upset by Dowling College on their own field. The record for wins in a single season is in their thoughts, but seizing an ECC title is what’s first on their minds.

Ken Kirshner is a Junior baseball player at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He is a transfer student from Siena College in Loudonville, NY.  Ken is expected to graduate in the Spring of 2014 with a degree in History with a minor in Communication Arts. He hopes to pursue a career in Sports Journalism or Sports Broadcasting.