Thursday, November 30, 2017



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.  

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, 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.



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. 

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’ 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.    

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.  



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.



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,, “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. 



As the Washingtonville’s sports teams compete year round, athletes often require some form of injury prevention to keep them as healthy as possible.  They may also need medical treatment and/or injury evaluation.  When they need this medical attention, members of the Wizard’s athletic program turn to one person: athletic trainer John Kosowicz.

Mr. Kosowicz has been the athletic trainer at Washingtonville since March of 2010.  He attended Monroe-Woodbury High School, where he graduated in 1999. He proceeded to attend Dominican College of Blauvelt, where he got his B.S. in athletic training, graduating in 2003.  He wanted to pursue his dream job: to be an athletic trainer.  John expressed, “I love being around sports and I was drawn to the unconventional nature of this profession.”

As the athletic trainer at Washingtonville, John has a very challenging task: to make sure all athletes are healthy and able to perform at their very best.  John believes that, “Each day presents me with unique situations and different challenges.  No two days are ever the same.” 

Trainer John’s day starts after the school day ends.  He fulfills different forms of injury prevention in order to benefit the teams.  He covers team practices and games keeping him extremely busy from 2:00 until every team is done practicing or competing in games.

John weighed in on the importance of being the athletic trainer at Washingtonville High School.  “To me, being at Washingtonville is extremely important because this is where I live, and it was always my dream to be working in the same school district that my kids attend.  It’s a special feeling when there is a problem and people look to you.  I feel as if I am contributing to our community.”

Trainer John is well liked among all of the student athletes at Washingtonville.  One student in particular that has been greatly affected by Trainer John is junior, Kareem Lubin.  Lubin is in his second year on varsity basketball, and he has also played soccer in his three years at Washingtonville.  He met John as a freshman, where their bond only grew from there.  Kareem expressed that, “Not only does John help me with pains and injuries, he’s actually one of my favorite people to talk to.  I can also ask him questions about the human body or my health.”

Being the athletic trainer for an athletic program does not come with the direct recognition that other members of an athletic program may receive.  An athletic trainer’s job is just as important as a coach or a player.  When Washingtonville’s teams succeed, Trainer John is one of the driving forces behind the success.



With fall sports coming to an end, students at Washingtonville High School turn their attention to winter sports and activities.  The three that most people will be attending and keeping up to date with are boys’ swimming, wrestling, and basketball.  All three teams have the promise, and the potential, to create some serious competition in and outside of the regular season.

With girls’ swimming coming to an end, it’s the boys’ turn to take a dip in the pool.  There are some very talented athletes on this team, and they will be looking look to make a big splash this year. Captains, Jack Palmer and DJ Quinones, shared their aspirations for this upcoming season.   DJ expressed, “I just want to lead the team to a fun, successful season. The more we work, the farther we’ll go in the season, so it’s important to start the year with high expectations, and then try and exceed those.”

Being more of an individual sport, there were some swimmers that made certain competitions last year that were uncommon to any other athlete.  All three captains, DJ, Jack, and Thomas Vojta made sections last season, and they fully expect to do the same this year. Jack explained, “We all have the same goal of getting the first banner for the boys’ team.  I think I, personally, will be back in sections because ever since I started swimming in my freshman year, I have been hurt, and this is my first season without an injury so I have a full season to reach my full potential.”

Like the swim team, wrestling can also be considered more of an individual sport.  Although these athletes are part of a team with players that encourage and push each other to improve and win, each person holds their own record in their own weight class, and can only match up against certain opponents. 

Coming back from major knee surgery, senior captain, Max Kissack, gave some insight on how he felt he was going to perform this year. “I feel like I will be at 99.9% this season.  I’ll need to be a little more cautious in certain positions.  My personal goal is to be a section 9 champion at my weight class this year.”

Last, but certainly not least, is basketball.  Unlike wrestling and swimming, this is a sport that requires a tremendous amount of teamwork, communication, and love for one and other.  This season, the team is very young with a total of six seniors out of fourteen athletes.  Expectations are high as the Wizards enter the season with their first game this Friday at Port Jervis.  Captains Brendan O’Leary and Ryan Johnson plan to lead this team to uncommon territory for the Wizards. 

Senior Basketball players, Devin Lewis, Andrew Fitzpatrick, and Parker Gallacher will look to end their careers on the high road.  Devin Lewis, who is coming back from an ACL injury that happened during the offseason, is especially eager to play.  Devin gave insight on how hard he needed to work to bounce back from such an impactful injury.  “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.  At the start, I was told that I could not compete this season, however, if I worked hard, I could somehow make it back in six months, which is enough time to play this season.  What motivated me to stay on task was that I knew this was my last year to shine as a Wizard, and I really wanted to help my boys reach our goal.”

This winter includes many interesting and competitive teams and athletes that everyone should be on the look-out for.  Some individual performances along with great team play will be the driving force behind the Washingtonville Wizards’ sports teams, and fans should expect big things as the snowflakes begin to fall.

Thursday, November 16, 2017



Over the course of a student’s time at Washingtonville High School, he or she will sit in on countless presentations and assemblies.  Some may effect students for a day, maybe a week, if lucky.  This was not the case when Fall River legend, Chris Herren, came to Washingtonville to share his poignant story with the student body on November 15th.  Mr. Herren left Washingtonville students with a whole new perspective on life.

From playing in the McDonald’s All American Game and being featured on Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated magazines, to playing for his home city as a Boston Celtic in the NBA, Chris had the world at his fingertips.  Unfortunately, drug addiction got the best of the basketball stud and ended his career way too early.  Throughout his lifetime, Chris has overdosed on four different occasions along with obtaining seven drug related felonies.  However, Herren’s story was far from over.

The Durfee High School star never believed drugs would become an issue for him.  When Chris was asked if he ever thought drug addiction would become such a significant problem for him, he stated, “Never.  I think when it comes to drugs and alcohol, we talk about the worst day and not the first day.”  Chris went on to express, “I don’t think any kid goes out in the woods and drinks a few beers and thinks they’re going to suffer from it later in life.”

Herren decided to use the challenges he would eventually overcome in order to help others.  In the midst of his recovery, he decided he was going to give back to the world and make a difference. This wasn't through the actions of donating money, but by telling kids, athletes, and adults of his experiences with drug addiction. Herren travels the nation motivating kids of all ages to make smart choices. 

This courageous act is far from easy for Chris, but it seriously makes a difference to students across the world. He asserted, “The fact that I’ve witnessed so many kids over the last seven years that are able to stay away from it, lead by example, be brave enough to stay who they are, and not fall victim to social pressure is an amazing quality.”  Chris added, “We all have a beginning and no one knows how it’s going to end.”

Chris Herren’s son is following a similar path on the court earning an offer from Boston College, where, coincidentally,  Chris started out his own collegiate career.  Chris Herren Jr. is only a junior in high school, but feels a tremendous amount of pressure to make smart choices off the court and stay away from the negligent path that his father went down.  Chris exclaimed, “The beauty of sports is that there are so many highs and lows.  I just want to be a father who helps him through both.” 

As Chris Herren stated in his presentation, there are kids battling drug problems every day in Washingtonville, whether it's with themselves personally or with family and friends.  When Chris speaks, he reaches these individuals and definitely encourages them to keep fighting. 

Ryan Hendricks, a sophomore at Washingtonville High School, was especially grateful for Chris’ speech. Hendricks expressed, “Personally, I believe it helped a lot as it gave me good advice on how to figure out my own personal situation with losing my mother due to a drug overdose when I was 18 months old.” He added, “I feel as if it definitely impacted a lot of people sitting in that auditorium.” Hendricks is loved by everyone in Washingtonville and continues to get support from his friends and family along the way.

Chris Herren’s story will continue to serve as motivation for, not just students, but people of all ages across the world. For those at Washingtonville High School going through a rough time, whether it relates to drug abuse or not, Chris Herren encouraged them to feel comfortable talking about it.  Friends, teachers, guidance counselors and support staff alike would be honored to help any student that is struggling.



John is sitting alone in the lunchroom.  This is not the first time he has opted to sit by himself.  He has been sitting alone since the beginning of October ever since his brother died in a car accident.  Today, he is surrounded by a plethora of students who are sitting together, laughing and socializing.  On the other hand, John is thinking about how much he does not want to be in that cafeteria, alone among a crowd of teenagers.  He wishes someone were there for him.  John is just one example of a student who goes through the daily struggle of depression.

Depression is a very serious issue in America, especially among children between the ages of 14-24.  According to Mental Health America, statistics have increased over the years, reaching 8.2% of teens that suffer from depression.  That is about one out of every twelve teens. Think about this: if there is a class of twenty-four people, on average, two people in that class might suffer from depression.  

Often times, students show signs of depression. According to Web.MD, some of these signs include loss of interest in daily activities, appetite or weight changes, sleep changes, anger or irritability, loss of energy, self-loathing, reckless behavior, problems with concentration, unexplained aches and pains, helplessness, hopelessness, and even thoughts of suicide.

Depression can often lead to cases of suicide among teens.  According to, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people people between the ages of 15-24.  One suicide occurs every forty seconds.  While walking in the halls from class to class in a four minute span, six people have ended their lives.  Those people could quite possibly be six students in our very own hallways.  When school is in session from 7:35 until 2:06, 23,460 seconds have gone by, meaning there have been about 587 deaths due to suicide in that span of time.  That is well over one third of Washingtonville’s high school students.  

Depression can be treated, and suicide can be prevented.  There are many ways to get help within Washingtonville High School.  Paul Saladino, a social worker at the high school, is part of a mental health team that helps the student body.  “The mental health team consists of all of the guidance counselors, two psychologists, and two social workers.  This gives students immediate in-house resources for them to use however they’d like.” 

Saladino is extremely grateful to students that he often sees helping out their peers in times of trouble.  “I have been very satisfied by all of the peer referrals that the mental health team receives. It gives us a chance to do our job and it could ultimately help out this student that suffers from mental health problems.”

As well as getting help within the school, students can also gain the help they need outside of the confines of the building.  There are two local hotlines, Mobile Mental Health (1.888.750.2266) and Text 4 Teens (1.845.391.1000).  Students can contact these hotlines and get immediate help from a representative within this organization.  There is also the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1.800.273.8255). These hotlines are available for anyone, anytime.

These issues have really hit home in Washingtonville.  An anonymous freshman at Washingtonville, who has had first hand experience with a friend who ended her life by committing suicide, understands that, “it is very important for teens to seek help when they are considering ending their lives.  People need to be more cautious about what they say to people because they may take it the wrong way and it may hurt their feelings, and it could lead to more than just sadness.”  This student also added that preventing suicide and helping aid depression is a team effort.  “Teens should seek help from their peers.  It is very important that they reach out to close friends to help them even if they get mad if they try to seek help without consent from the victim.  If the victim is acting suspiciously lately and feeling down, it is a good thing to check in on them. These little things could be the difference in saving a life.”

Depression and suicide are two issues in America that need serious attention.  If a friend is down or acting differently than usual, speak up.  This could be the difference between life and death.  If a student suffers from depression or is having thoughts of suicide, things may seem gloomy and giving up may feel like the only option.  Anyone that is depressed, or considering suicide, should remember that there will always be someone that cares and wants to help, even if the common belief is that nobody does.  

At the end of the day, people will not remember what fellow classmates said or did, they will remember how they made them feel.  The smallest act of kindness can go a long way, so make sure to treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.  



Is a text worth a life?  It seems as if teens and adults alike have developed an obsession with their cell phones and have let the apps, text messages, and phone calls engulf their everyday lives. With today's generation, people feel as if they cannot go anywhere without their cell phones, even if it that means endangering their lives and the lives of others. 

According to the United States Department of Transportation, “11 teens die a day as a result of texting while driving.  In 2013 alone, there were up to 3,154 deaths due to distracted-related crashes.”  Statistics like these are tragic and hard to swallow yet, every day teens, and even adults, are still trying to manage a phone and a vehicle at the same time.

Jessica Nimmo, senior at Washingtonville High School, expresses, “I think texting and driving is a very relevant issue in everyone's lives, especially us teenagers. We always hear presentations and are warned about the dangers but, for some reason, there's still a temptation to check your phone while driving.” 

The United States Department of Transportation also states, “According to an AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% of them admitted to doing it anyway.”  Unfortunately, many teens don’t understand the repercussions that come along with texting while driving, until they experience it firsthand. 

A senior at WHS, who prefers to stay anonymous, received a ticket for using his phone while behind the wheel of the car.  This resulted in his having to pay a fine for the ticket, but the effects of this action could have been much more detrimental.  “I was not mad at the time I got the ticket, but then realizing the consequences and how bad they were, and could have been, I started to stress over the situation.  Now, I keep my phone hidden in the car, so I'm not tempted to use it at all while I'm driving.” 

Instead of choosing to drive distracted and put a life on the line, there are other options to create a safer situation for everyone. People could use the hands free option if their car is equipped with that feature. This option connects drivers’ phones to bluetooth so that when they receive a text or a phone call, the car will read it out loud or put the call over the speaker.   This ensures that the driver will not need to touch the phone. 

There have also been apps created to prevent texting and driving.  One app is called live2txt. This app is useful in the prevention of texting while driving in that when a driver's phone receives an incoming call or text it, it silences the cell phone and sends a text to the person trying to reach the driver.  The text informs the caller that the driver can not come to the phone because they are driving.  These alternative options are what keeps the roads just a little safer.  

Eleven teens die a day and more than 3,000 die a year because of texting while driving.  Don't be a part of those statistics.  The text can wait. 



Throughout the halls of Washingtonville High School, there are numerous stories that many people might believe to be fairy tales.  Every single person has a story that is unique.  Perhaps one of the most intriguing stories at WHS belongs to a senior named Neftali Gomez.

Nef values a healthy lifestyle more than your average teenage boy.  He is considered to be a role model due to his willpower to always make the right choices even when he is hanging out with friends.  When it comes to nutrition, Neftali always makes sure to consume only what benefits him and his body, even if the people he surrounds himself with are not doing the same.

It is no wonder that with Nef’s disciplined attitude he is also an impressive athlete.   In the past, he was an avid football player and wrestler.   In his junior year, he played football for  the Wizards.  Due to injury, he was unable to participate in these sports, yet he was hopeful that he would, once again, return to perform well during his senior year.  Unfortunately, this would not be the case.  In the middle of his junior year, his football career ended due to a tragic occurrence.

On September 7th, 2016, Nef’s mother passed away at the age of 51 from a stroke that happened due to a traumatic brain injury.  Although Neftali was hurt more than anyone else, this tragedy was heartbreaking to so many people, as the death of his mother had an effect on the entire community of Washingtonville.  His mom was an active part of the football program and helped raise money for the Wizards.  She was well-known and loved by many people.  To show support for Nef, the entire football team travelled to New York City for his mother’s wake, which was a very emotional time for everyone in attendance.

Not long after the shocking and unfortunate passing, Nef was pulled from the football team and was also ordered to stop competing in wrestling.  When asked why this was the case, he explained, “I had a prior history of concussions, and in the beginning of my junior year of football I had gotten my third concussion.  I decided to stop playing football, to protect myself and my future.  Also, it was a little scary considering my mom had just died from a brain injury.  Afterwards, I dedicated everything I could towards wrestling until I suffered my fourth concussion which also made me lose consciousness.  After this, I decided to stop all contact sports completely.”

With his wrestling career being over, he was offered a job from Coach Lee, the head coach of the wrestling team, to become the strength and conditioning coach.  He emphasized how much he values this dignified position and knows that this is only offered to special people.  “I earned this.  I always prided myself on being the hardest working person out there.  After my last concussion, I decided to dedicate the entirety of my time to working out.  I was always lifting, but this time I built a program, a way of eating and so on.  Before I knew it, I had reached new heights when it came to my weight and strength.”  

Coach Lee has always been in Neftali’s corner.  Nef expressed, “Once I explained to Coach Lee what I was doing, and we both knew the direction the program was going, he presented me with a challenge: coming up with 10-15 different 30 minute workouts for the team.  After I completed that, he offered me the job as strength and conditioning coach and I couldn’t have been more happy to accept that responsibility.”

It is obvious that Nef has come a long way over the past year.  With the support of his family, friends, coaches, teammates, and others, everyone expects him to continue to thrive and have a completely successful life.  Neftali’s story is unique and miraculous.  It is truly unbelievable to see how far he has come.   The future holds nothing but incredible things for such a remarkable individual.