Thursday, December 7, 2017

A CHRISTMAS THRILL IN THE ‘VILLE

By KRISTEN BOERKE

The community of Washingtonville came together on Saturday, December 2nd to celebrate the holidays in a spirited fashion.  People of all ages came to the center of town wide-eyed and excited to participate in the festivities.  Whether supporting businesses or the community by purchasing or selling items at the “Christmas in the Village” or simply watching the parade, all who attended can agree that the event was an enormous success.

KRISTEN BOERKE FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
The parade did not always take place here in the Village of Washingtonville, according to the Washingtonville/Blooming Grove Chamber of Commerce.  In fact, prior to 2011, the village had  only a quaint tree lighting ceremony followed by refreshments at Village Hall.  However, in 2011 Hurricane Irene hit and the village and surrounding towns experienced major destruction and devastation. 

After this horrific disaster, the town and community needed to come up with a plan to pick up the pieces and get the town up and running once again.  The former Chamber President, Rick Lewis, went to the then mayor, Tom DeVinko, and suggested,  “This is the year; we need to have a Christmas Parade. The residents need something to take their minds off the devastation, even if it’s just for one night.”  Hence, the Christmas Parade was born.  In December of 2011, the first ever Christmas Parade in Washingtonville took place and, to the delight of all it’s residents,   continues to be an annual tradition.

This year was the 7th annual Washingtonville Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony. According to Kevin Radday, owner of Betty’s Country Kitchen, it was unlike any other--  “Betty’s always takes a major part in the parade.  We look forward to it every year.”  Betty’s made a significant impact on the success of the event as they provided live music on their front porch to “add to the holiday theme.”  Also stationed on the porch were elves who passed out free hot chocolate with marshmallows, graham cracker crumbles and whipped cream.

Mr. Radday exclaimed that his favorite part of the event is always “seeing all the families that come here to Betty’s watching the parade.  It really lights up the kids’ faces to see the firetrucks and the cars go by.  The best part is probably the Betty’s families that I’ve become friends with over the past three and a half years that come in and enjoy the parade with my business.” 

Across the street in the municipal parking lot was “Christmas in the Village” where many vendors sold various items while spreading holiday cheer.  From 3-6 pm, community members set up their stations and showcased or sold their goods.  One of these vendors was Washingtonville High School’s very own National Art Honor Society.

Mrs. Held,  who is in charge of NAHS stated, “This fall,  NAHS students have been hard at work making hand crafted ceramic jewelry and holiday ornaments to help raise money for our NAHS chapter.”  She went on to say,  “Mrs. Laudato, along with several NAHS members, set up the table from 2-3 pm with over 100 individual items: ceramic earrings, necklaces and ornaments. From 3-6 pm various NAHS members, along with Mrs. Laudato and myself, greeted community members who visited our table and made purchases.”  The National Art Honor Society did very well during this event, selling close to half their inventory and raising over $320.
  
It was finally time for the main event: the parade followed by the tree lighting ceremony.  The parade gave the village a sense of community as firetrucks from neighboring towns, as well as our own, decked themselves out in lights and sounded their alarms.  Many cars, companies, and teams paraded down main street waving to the thousands of spectators. 

Kate Rocke, a senior at Washingtonville High School was a part of the parade with the Washingtonville Little League.  Kate recalls,  “The atmosphere was crazy. There were so many people by the time we hit the center of town.  People were cheering so loud and, from where I was, it looked like thousands of people came out.”  Rocke's favorite part of the parade was making the kids’ nights as she waved back to them saying, “Merry Christmas,” and seeing their faces light up.   “It makes you feel so good,”  Kate expressed.

Overall, The Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony united Washingtonville and got everyone into the Christmas spirit.  The successful event will continue to be a tradition for years to come.  The community can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!  

UNDERRATED WIZARDS LOOK TO UNLEASH AGAINST NEWBURGH

By BRENDAN O’LEARY

The Washingtonville boys’ varsity basketball team started their season off just as planned: winning their first game on the road against Port Jervis with a score of 65-50.  The gymnasium was packed with fans and spectators as they got their first glance at the team’s talent and effort as both teams battled hard.  Next, the Wizards have one of their toughest opponents ahead of them on Thursday December 7th  as they prepare to face off against Newburgh Free Academy. This is also the first time the Wizards will get to play on their own stomping grounds this season.

Not unlike previous years, Newburgh is a team that is full of skilled, athletic, and very quick players.  Key returning players for NFA include forward, Sam Clark, and guard, Izzy Williams, who both score in transition efficiently and love to run up and down the court.  This year’s Newburgh team clearly displays talent, but as shown last year, was not strong enough to take down the Wizards.  In the Section 9 quarterfinal playoff game, Washingtonville held on and slightly outworked a powerful team, barely outscoring them with a final of 53-51.  

BRENDAN O'LEARY FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
When asked about how Washingtonville plans to handle the pressure and intensity Newburgh is expected to bring, Coach Todd Rose responded by stating, “We need to dictate the tempo of the game from the very start.  This will be a tightly played and close game the whole way, but I am confident that we simply have a better team than they do.”  Going into this game with confidence yet poise and composure, the Wizards have been preparing to face a Newburgh team that will bring a high level of intensity and speed that the team has been working on handling.

Going into the season underrated and overlooked, Washingtonville is looking forward to making this game a strong statement, proving that they are the team to beat in Section 9.  Important players coming off great opening performances include senior guards, Brendan O’Leary and Ryan Johnson, while junior Kareem Lubin controlled the paint down low.  O’Leary and Lubin scored efficiently while Johnson was a force on defense, turning attempted passes into steals commonly resulting in a basket for the Wizards.

Sophomore guard, Ryan Graham, surprised many by providing a spark off the bench scoring 10 points on only 5 attempts from the field.  Ryan explained, “I think we can beat NFA off basket cuts and driving to the basket since they often over deny.  If we can stop them from pushing the ball, we will be successful.”  

Expect the gym to be crowded and full of excitement as the Wizards take on the Newburgh team that is hungry for revenge and a victory.

NEED TO STUDY? FIND A BUDDY!

By MEGAN FICO 

As the school year progresses, grades gradually become more of a concern for students at Washingtonville High School.  Classes get harder and students tend to become more stressed out over their increasing workload.  Thankfully, there is a place at WHS where students can alleviate some of these stresses.  With the peer tutoring program run by the school librarian, Mrs. Richardson, students are able to get some extra help in the classes that they struggle in. 

Peer Tutoring is a program where students are able to get tutored by other students close to their own ages.  The goal of this program is to give students a way of getting extra help from a student that has already excelled in that class, rather than a teacher or a paid tutor.  This has been proven to be a successful strategy that increases students’ understanding of material.  According to an article written by the National Education Association, some benefits of peer tutoring “include higher academic achievement, improved relationships with peers, improved personal and social development as well as increased motivation.”

MEGAN FICO FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
Peer tutoring is beneficial to both the student and the tutor.  There is an old saying, “To teach is to learn twice.”  This strategy helps students learn from each other no matter what position they are in.  While one student may excel in science, another student may be at the top of his or her English class.  These students can work together to help each other understand difficult concepts and lessons, while reviewing the material themselves.

Jeremy Gutierrez, a senior who attends Washingtonville High School, has been involved in the program since his junior year.  He currently has weekly sessions with his tutor, senior Erin Wilson, who helps him out with precalculus. 

Since joining the program, Jeremy says, “The weekly sessions really help out a lot” and if it weren’t for tutoring, he could have possibly failed one of his classes last year.  His favorite part about the program is that “it’s free,” and both his tutor and Mrs. Richardson work with his schedule so the weekly sessions happen at times that work best for both of them. 

Mrs. Richardson, the school librarian, took charge of the program previously run by the National Honor Society.  She did this so she would be able to know who was involved and when sessions were going on, mainly because they would be taking place in the library and she needed to make sure there was a spot for all students.  Mrs. Richardson says that the program helps the students and she gets “great feedback from teachers of students who participate in the program.”  She also says it especially helps out parents “since the program is free, parents are saving money instead of having to pay a tutor $50 an hour.”

It is relatively easy to get involved in the peer tutoring program, and anyone can join, whether they want to be a tutor or be the one getting tutored.  Students are able to sign up for peer tutoring by either seeing Mrs. Richardson in the school library, or going onto the library website where there are forms to be a tutor or a tutee.  This program is a meaningful way to get community service hours for tutors, and a convenient way for students who need some extra help in a class to get the attention that they deserve. 

WORRY-FREE HOLIDAY SHOPPING

By ERIN WILSON

Everyone knows how hard it can be to find valuable, yet inexpensive gifts for loved ones during the holiday season.  However, the Round Hill Parent Teacher Association (PTA) does a spectacular job making sure that people of all ages can achieve this mammoth goal.  The Round Hill Holiday Boutique gives students and their families the chance to find exceptional gifts at incredibly reasonable prices.

ERIN WILSON FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
For many years, the Round Hill PTA has been putting on a holiday boutique at the elementary school.  This event is held during the school day for the elementary school aged children and extends its hours into the night so that family members can also take advantage of the spectacular deals.  This event definitely did not fail to satisfy the families of the community. 

The Round Hill PTA made sure that money would not be a problem for their customers; the items displayed for purchase ranged from 75 cents to 15 dollars.  

It takes an immense amount of time and dedication to pull off an amazing event like this.  Elaine Perri, President of the Round Hill PTA, states that the preparation is “ongoing since September...[the PTA] has to keep in contact with vendors to get everything.”

The boutique is always an enormous hit, as the students enjoy picking out presents for their friends while also “getting things for [their] family,” as Frankie Warner, second grader, confessed.  Every present displayed is carefully picked out by the PTA, as they “make sure the gifts are not just something that will go home and be broken,” added Elaine Perri.  

From jewelry to stuffed animals, there are gifts for people of all ages to truly enjoy.  Jackson DeAlva, a preschool student in Washingtonville, proclaimed that his favorite thing to get was  “the light-up pens.”  Elaine Perri expressed that it’s amazing to see “kids looking at gifts and thinking, ‘Oh, my mom would like that!’”  This event elucidates the fact that the children are thinking about others rather than themselves.

The boutique lasted throughout the week of December 3rd, giving the children and parents more chances to buy those simple, yet important gifts for the holidays.  The Round Hill PTA organizes important events all throughout the school year, and the holiday season is a great time to see them in action.

No one should have difficulty finding or having to pay for gifts for their loved ones during the holiday season.  The Round Hill Holiday Boutique has been doing an unbelievable job making sure that no one will have to face these difficulties during such a joyful time.

NO COMPLAINTS WHEN IT’S TIME TO PAINT

By DYLAN SPAULDING

With the holiday season upon us, what's better than gathering with your family and personally making your own ornaments while being treated to free cookies and desserts and listening to traditional Christmas music?  On Saturday, December 2, the class of 2018 did just that when they hosted their first ever “Paint Your Own Ornament” fundraiser. 

DYLAN SPAULDING FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
On this chilly winter afternoon, people of all age groups attended the festive event.  From grandparents to grandchildren, it was truly a special time for community members.  In order to participate, people purchased blank ornaments at a cost of 12 dollars.  Paint and brushes were supplied along with all the bells and whistles.  If artists needed supplies, all they had to do was  ask one of Santa's helpers. 

Not only was there painting but also story time for the youngsters.  Kids filled their hands with cookies and cups of milk and gathered for a Christmas story told by one of the elves.  It was then that their parents were able to take a break and enjoy the refreshments while painting their own ornaments.  

DYLAN SPAULDING FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
All proceeds went directly to the class of 2018.  This event was a huge success according to the 2018 class Vice President, Alexa Siciliano. “This being our first time doing this, we expected at least 50 people, but the community truly came out with their families and a little more than 100 people came.”  The planning of this event began in the early days of October and took a tremendous amount of work and cooperation. 

The event raised over one thousand dollars, according to class treasurer Anthony Witte.  “All the money raised will be used on upcoming senior events like the All Night Party, Senior Banquet and what not.”  All these senior events will be happening in the upcoming months.  Anthony's main role was making sure everyone was happy and had all of their supplies. He even had to dress up for the occasion.  He expressed, “It was my goal to have the ugliest sweater there.  When I looked around, I had some competition, but I think I took first place!” 

People of all age groups attended this festive event.  Everyone who attended will be having an extra ornament on the tree this year.  When people were leaving they were already asking about next year's ornament painting,  so it's safe to say this fundraiser will be happening in the future.  


THE WIZARD SPORTS’ REPORTERS

By MICHAEL DEPAOLO

As many students at Washingtonville High continue to debate about their favorite sports teams, it couldn't be a better time to join the Sports Journalism Club.  Many people wonder what it has to offer. 

So many students have face the harsh reality that they will not be becoming professional athletes upon graduating from high school; however those same students continue to have a love and passion for sports. They want that to be a part of their life.  The Sports Journalism club gives them that place where they can talk and debate about what their passion.  Many students who attend the club also want to pursue a career in journalism in the future. This gives them the skills they need to pursue their desired career. 

MICHAEL DEPAOLO FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
The Sports Journalism Club is run by Mr. Clough and Mr. Bruscino, along with the club presidents: Matt Benson, John Contino, and Andrew Fitzpatrick.  This club is designed not only for fun, but for learning more about the teams students are passionate about. Their meetings consist of creating and publishing articles of their choice (sports related, of course) and having a good time while doing it. 

Some of the activities members participate in are different tournaments such as Madden and NHL tournaments. The club as a whole competes against each other in a bracket system. The winner will get his or her last name on a banner which will be hung on the wall along with the banners from previous years. 

There are also many different opportunities in the club.  For instance, this week the club has invited a representative from the MLB (Major League Baseball) Network, Matt Baker.  He is one of the head researchers for the network.  In addition, he is also bringing in some examples of the work he has to complete on a daily basis to give the club members an idea of what being a part of a sports journalist team is like.  Mr. Clough stated, “I think it’s really cool that we are able to bring opportunities like this to the kids.”

President, Matt Benson, talked about how “we have a relaxed environment where you can debate and discuss sports on a weekly basis while writing articles on the topics of your choice.”  The club has a blog similar to The Washingtonville Wizard Weekly where they publish their articles for the students to read. It’s called Wizards Sports Reports, and can be found on wizards.blogspot.com.  They also publish a magazine  annually containing all of their articles. 

The students who take part in the club take great pride in their work. It has a healthy atmosphere for everyone.  Their meetings occur during the week on Thursdays in room 221 after school.  Come join them to see what it’s all about.

CAN’T SLACK, TIME FOR TRACK

By CAROLINE HART

It’s that time of year again when athletes all over the school have begun arduously preparing for their winter sports; this includes the athletes participating in indoor track.  Indoor track usually starts at the beginning of November and ends around February so, naturally, the runners and field-eventers have been consistently working hard to get prepared for their season. 

CAROLINE HART FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
Those who do not follow cross country and/or track often get them mixed up.  Cross country is a long distance sport where the runners must endure a course of 3.1 miles, also known as a 5k.   Outdoor track, on the other hand, obviously takes place outside.   When participating in outdoor track,  athletes do not only compete in running events, but also field events such as pole vault, shot put, weight throw, high jump, and long jump.  Indoor track is different than both of those sports.  It is run in  indoor field houses and athletes compete in different or modified events.

Liam Gildea, captain of the indoor track team, stated, “The two sports differ in the idea that for cross country you need a lot of endurance and not a lot of speed, but in track you need a lot of speed and not a lot of endurance.”  Though, both sports require different skillfulness, they are alike in the demand and full time and commitment required of athletes. 

The team’s first meet is this Friday, which means that the team has had a whole month to prepare for the beginning of what could be an amazing season for the Wizards.  All the athletes have been working rigorously to get to where they need to be.  Gildea expressed, “Overall we have had some good workouts these past two weeks which I think will result in good races for the team this year.”  

Being physically prepared is a tremendous part of being ready to compete, but athletes also need to to be mentally prepared.  To be physically prepared is only half the battle for any running event. Maanasa Hanubal, a sophomore runner, voiced, “If you are not in a good and positive mindset, then you will not run how you would want to.”  Without a positive mindset, reaching the goals proves to be very difficult.

The indoor track team has a big season coming up.  If they continue to work hard and have that positive mindset, then the team will achieve great things things this season.  Good luck Wizards!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

NOT JUST A JUUL

An Editorial By BROGAN JOHNSON

Washingtonville High School does an excellent job with educating students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but with new technologies constantly being created, some presentations eventually become obsolete.  The newest up and coming drug technology is the JUUL, an alternative version of cigarettes.  Unfortunately, using a JUUL has become a new trend among some of the students in WHS who are unaware of the dangers.  

BROGAN JOHNSON FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
According to the JUUL’s official website, a “JUUL is an easy to use vaporizer designed for adult smokers looking for a genuine alternative to smoking cigarettes.”  Equally as dangerous to a user’s health, this product is very similar to e-cigarettes and vapes.  The device contains a unique JUUL pod consisting of “JUULsalts, an e liquid formula based on nicotine salts rather than free base nicotine.”  

This product contains 5% of nicotine, serving as a “harm reducing” product when compared to cigarettes, but not a harm free one.  Dr. Lester Hartman of Westwood Mansfield Pediatrics stated that smoking one JUUL pod is equivalent to smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.  With such a high nicotine content, students are getting addicted without even realizing it.

Many think JUULing is not a dangerous habit because it only contains nicotine, but the withdrawal symptoms are nothing to joke about.  According to healthyplace.com, students going through withdrawal can face symptoms of insomnia, chest infections, lack of concentration, and  extreme irritability. 

Although this device is an alternative to smoking cigarettes, it is still not a harmless product safe for student consumption.  The JUUL’s official website exclaimed, “If you do not currently use nicotine-containing products, we recommend that you do not start,” thus proving a JUUL is not a harm free product.  

Personally, I believe my peers are blind to what they are actually doing to their bodies and need to be properly informed.  Many students rushed to get their hands on a JUUL to be a part of the trend before they took the time to research what it can do to their bodies.  Although some students claimed to have researched the JUUL before buying one, I think they used information from sites that are not reliable in an attempt to prove it is harm free.  

Two Washingtonville students who prefer to be anonymous, are both active users and do not see any issue with JUULing.  Joe believes he is the trendsetter of JUULs in Washingtonville and is “guilty, yet proud” of introducing his friends, like John, to this device.  John stated, he uses his JUUL “all the time; it’s the norm for teenagers now.”  Although both boys are fully aware of what they are ingesting,  Joe claims JUULing “doesn’t hurt me, so it doesn’t affect me.”

Joe argues, “There is no scientifically proven health dangers from using a JUUL.”  However, what Joe isn’t taking into consideration is the fact that this is only because the JUUL is only two years old.   It has not been around long enough to have an ample amount of research behind it.  Regardless of there being no direct studies to determine the effects of the JUUL itself, there are numerous cases of other nicotine based products, like vapes and e-cigarettes, that do prove the dangers of nicotine.  

Overall, I think students should not be using JUULs because of what they contain as well as the lack of research behind it.  The bottom line is that while the JUUL may be a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, they are not a harm free one.   Even though nicotine is not an illegal drug, it is illegal for minors to use nicotine products.  Remember, it’s not just a JUUL.

THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK

By NICOLETTE SMITH 

When someone reaches a point in their life where they are compelled to take their first sip of alcohol, they are not thinking of the repercussions that could follow in the future.  All they are thinking about is how it makes them feel at that very moment. When a person is consuming alcohol, the health, mental, and family issues, that are linked to alcohol, does not register until it is oftentimes too late.

In regards to health, indulging in alcohol has detrimental affects on a person’s brain, heart, liver, and pancreas.   In addition, excessive drinking can even lead to some cancers.  According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol interferes with how a person’s brain functions. It alters the communication pathways causing a person’s mood to change, to not think clearly, and it increases a lack in coordination. As for the heart, alcohol causes issues like arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), stroke, and high blood pressure.  Furthermore, excessive drinking can cause people to develop coronary heart disease. 
NICOLETTE SMITH FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY

There are several other diseases associated with alcohol abuse.  Alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.  Alcohol can cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.  It increases the risk of developing mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast cancer. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, “In a year, there are approximately 189,000 emergency room visits by persons under the age of 21 for injuries and conditions linked to alcohol.” To put that statistic into perspective, 189,000 children is equal to approximately 90 high schools.  Also, according to the CDC, “Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.” 

If the health risks aren't enough reason to think before you drink, consider the toll alcohol abuse takes on family, friends and loved ones.  Alcohol becomes a priority, a craving, and an addiction.  For those who become addicted, everything else is minuscule compared to their alcohol.  An article called, “Is Alcoholism Grounds for Divorce?” claims, “Alcohol is one of the leading reasons people give for divorce in the United States.  Alcohol can diminish relationships to the point where they can no longer be salvaged.” 

Students at WHS have personally experienced the ravaging affects of this terrible disease. Miguel Dela Cruz, a senior at Washingtonville High School expressed, “Alcohol has affected my life in ways you wouldn’t imagine. My dad was a really big drinker, and it caused our family to tear and split up.  My family and I moved out of our country, the Philippines, and left my father there.  I don’t even talk to him anymore.”

Talking to teenagers about the affects and dangers of underage drinking is crucial.   Mrs. Connolly, who has a 14 year old daughter, expressed, “I have begun to have conversations with my daughter about the dangers of drinking. I’m not worried about her feeling the pressure to drink just yet. However, I am not blind to the fact that teenagers do drink.  My husband and I have developed a plan with her in case she is ever at a friend’s house and she finds herself in a situation where she is not comfortable.” 

If a family member or a friend is developing a drinking problem, there are ways to help fight their addiction.  An alcohol rehab center called Narconon, informs that in order to help  someone who is suffering, at first, give them the chance to change their lifestyle on their own; give them the power back that the alcohol stole from them.  The person should tell their loved one how they feel and how their actions are affecting them; they could give suggestions on how to diminish the situation. 

If that person doesn’t choose to revive their life on their own and their drinking is out of control, then it is time to go to a rehabilitation center to receive professional help.  There are programs like Alcoholics Anonymous that benefit the lives of people struggling with a drinking problem. 

End the cycle of underage drinking before it gets out of hand.  Put down the drink and think. 


“IDECIDE” TO BE A ROLE MODEL

By CLAUDIAN FRANCIS

‘iDecide’ began as an anti-drug and alcohol program based in the Washingtonville School District.   The program was designed by former guidance counselor, Ms.  Cooney, and is currently led by Mrs. Losquardo, the student assistance counselor at WMS, and Mr. Saladino, the district-wide social worker.  Driven by the purpose of educating and enriching the youth in our community, the program has been running for over ten years.  Since then, ‘iDecide’ has been continuously committed to instilling the value of living a responsible, drug-free lifestyle in elementary school students.    

CLAUDIAN FRANCIS FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
The ‘iDecide’ title itself was originally based on the cornerstone message: “I (the student) decide what my behavior is going to be.   I decide to be drug free.”  Since then, the program has expanded to touch base on more than substance abuse alone.   Today, the program focuses on leading fifth graders into responsible lifestyles by talking about the importance of being responsible online and tackling peer pressure.

Mr. Saladino, one of the program’s advisors, reflected on this shift in focus.   He expressed that the pressures of smoking and drinking are not the primary issues affecting the youth today—that lies within social media.   He noted, “Fifth graders are very different today than they were many years ago due to the pressures of social media and their peers.   The whole culture of fifth grade is completely evolving.”  

Many people have noticed that a growing number of fifth graders today have smart phones, and multiple social media accounts.  As a result of this trend, they are exposed to a whole new medium of peer pressure.  Even at ten or eleven years old, it is so important to teach children about responsibility while they are still young in order to help lead them into making smart decisions.

Every fifth grade student is given the opportunity to participate in the program during the school day.   Originally, this program only took place at one of the school district’s elementary schools, Little Britain, considering Taft and Round Hill participated in the D.A.R.E.  program.   Due to the recent absence of D.A.R.E. and its success in Little Britain, iDecide has expanded to all three elementary schools including Round Hill and Taft.   

Though the program is run by teachers, the lessons themselves are taught by select high school students interested in being role models and leaders for their community.   There are about 64 students each year interested in the program and, from there, they disperse into groups to receive specific training.   Through several engaging methods, the fifth graders are able to learn from iDecide mentors through presentations, skits and exercises.

The mentors are a vital element in the iDecide program; they must be willing to work hands on with the elementary students and be someone the kids can look up to.   They  should reflect what it truly means to be an inspiring mentor to the youth in the community and lead by example more than anything.   Mr.  Saladino noted that “the voice of the high school is beyond what you can imagine.  The kids truly absorb everything and are mesmerized by the fact that high schoolers came to teach them.”

The kids involved in the iDecide program really look up to the mentors, and it is important for those who want to be a leader in the program, to keep in mind the responsibilities it takes in order to have a positive effect inside the classroom.   

Just as the kids gain a lot from the program, the mentors gain a lot of experience and skills they can take with them outside the program.   Both advisors noticed a change before and after the mentors participate in the program.  The mentors gain immense experience in developing interpersonal skills, presentation skills, and teaching skills.   

Students who are interested in mentoring should attend the general interest meeting on Dec.  7th in the auditorium.   Those selected to participate in the program leave a great contribution to the community, and it’s an overall powerful way to get involved and make a difference.  



STUDENT COALITION ADOPTS A FAMILY

By DEVIN LEWIS

DEVIN LEWIS FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
As the holidays approach, there is an abundance of excitement streaming throughout the community.  Unfortunately, not all families in our area are able to share in this excitement.   This year, a group of benevolent students at Washingtonville High School were determined to change that.  As they surged through Target they had one goal in mind: to help out families in need by shopping for gifts that would significantly help them have a jolly Christmas.

These are not just ordinary Washingtonville students; these students are a part of the Student Coalition Club. Each year, members of Student Coalition participate in an event where they strive to help out the school and community during the holiday season.  This event is called “Adopt a Family.”  This is always  a major deal for the town since many families do not have the luxury of buying each other gifts.   This is just one of many acts of kindness that the club participates in throughout the year.   The Student Coalition Club never fails to give back to the community.

For the Adopt a Family event, members of the club were split into groups with their close friends and were each designated a family to shop for.  Each family member had a $125 limit which ended up being no problem as the students were able to get their families' needs and wants with no issues. 

One of the volunteers, Tarek Abu-Zeid, stated, “I love making other people happy. I wanted to help put a smile on the faces of those in need during the holidays.”

What makes Student Coalition so special is that it helps develop students into great leaders in their communities for years to come.  Tarek asserted, “I am always going to try and give back to those in need. It helps make our society a better place when everyone is thoughtful of others and not just themselves.” Tarek, along with the rest of the boys, had great success shopping as they purchased warm clothes for the father and son of the family, and a new bike for the nine year old son.

Alexa Kraiza, a senior volunteer, was asked what her motives were for going out shopping with her friends. Alexa asserted, “My motive was that everybody deserves to have a nice holiday, especially the people that are struggling.” She went on to express that this is something she would love to continue to do because it is a great way to help the community.

The Student Coalition members went back to the high school later that night to wrap all the gifts together and get them ready to be delivered to the families.  

The holidays are no time for families to struggle. With the help of Washingtonville’s Student Coalition, families around the area are receiving new gifts that will certainly lead to happy holidays.

AS EASY AS CHILD'S PLAY

By KAITLYN METICHECCHIA

KAITLYN METICHECCIA FOR THE WIZARD WEEKLY
A highly anticipated event is quickly approaching.  Child's Play is an annual charity game night hosted by the eSports club.  It is a night of gaming and fun that brings the community of Washingtonville together.  There will be a variety of games available, ranging from video games to fighting games, which means there will never be a dull moment.  If a night of friends, family and gaming isn't enough, the eSports team will also be holding competitions with prizes to give away. 

Whether an avid gamer or one just looking for a night of fun there is something to do for everyone.  Co-Coach of the Overwatch Team, Cassidy DeLeon, expressed, “People can expect a high energy environment full of gamers and non-gamers alike coming together for a night full of fun, treats and an overall good time.  There is also the added benefit of giving proceeds of the night to charity.”

Not only is this event a night of fun, but it supports a good cause as well.  The money raised at this event will go to the Child's Play Charity. According to their official website, childsplaycharity.org, “Child's Play seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals and domestic abuse shelters through the generosity and kindness of the video game industry and the power of play.”  Child's Play is a game industry charity that works to improve the lives of children in over one hundred hospitals.  This organization works with hospitals to set up wish lists for games, toys, books and necessities for kids.  They also take donations to purchase new consoles, games, toys, more hospitals and therapy facilities. 

When speaking about the importance of the Charity Games Night, Mr. Calderin, advisor of the eSports team, explained, “Child's Play is a charity event that started four years ago.  The purpose for this was to give back, by helping families in need.  For me, personally, it's the illness of my brother.  My brother was hospitalized at a young age.  He managed to recover, but was disabled. We bonded through games.  I got to see the healing power of games first hand.  For the club, we want to use our numbers to give back.”

Child's Play Charity Game Night will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, December 1st.  This event will take place in the high school’s cafeterias.  To sign up, see Mr. Calderin, or visit the eSports table at lunch.  Everyone is encouraged to attend, but anyone under the age of fourteen must be accompanied by an adult chaperone.