Boys’ Volleyball Meets New Head Coach

By Christine Swanda

IMG_0155

Coach Jacovinich, the new coach of the Boys’ Volleyball program. Jacovinich was previously the assistant Girls’ Volleyball coach.

Woodbridge High School’s Boys’ and Girls’ Volleyball coach, Mr. Calhoun, announced his retirement from coaching in November, at the end of the 2016 Girls’ Volleyball season, after completing over 20 successful high school seasons in multiple sports at Woodbridge High.

Many applied for the newly opened position, but after much consideration, the responsibility was handed to Girls’ Volleyball assistant coach, Mr. Jacovinich.

Coach Calhoun is not worried about Coach J taking over and believes he will do a great job. “The program has been successful in improving every season, and I feel he had the knowledge and the drive to make them even better,” he said.

Coach J played two years of volleyball in high school as an outside hitter. He feels prepared to take over the program. “Coach Calhoun has helped me tremendously over the past two seasons to get me ready for this amazing opportunity,” he said.

Although the players will have to adapt to a new coach, they should find success if they work together. “It will depend on how much the players want it, during practice and matches,” said Coach Calhoun.

Senior and opposite hitter for the team, Connor Penrod, said, “I think it can be a pretty successful season. Before Coach Calhoun, we never really had a true volleyball coach, so last year we really learned how to mature as players and develop our skills. Now, we know that this year is about executing, and I think we have the talent to be successful.”

“I am looking forward to running the program the way I want to and proving I am worthy of a head coaching position,” Coach Jaconvinich said.

Between the players and the new well prepared coach, the team should be able to reach its full potential.

The Notorious M.A.C. Gets His Big Break

by Sabrina Carbone

Robert Dominguez, Ray Gross, Mayor McCormac, and Kim Huszar in the “Woodbridge DPW Recycle Rap” music video. The song and video were made to bring more attention to Woodbridge’s trash pickup programs.

Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac decided to join three Department of Public Works (DPW) workers to remind residents of the Township’s annual spring cleanup and bulk waste cleanup through the creation of a rap commercial called the “Woodbridge DPW Recycle Rap.” It was released to YouTube on January 29th, 2017.

Mayor McCormac said the main motivation for the rap was simply to “get the message out.” Many residents haven’t been taking advantage of their opportunity to have all their trash picked up at any time, after one quick phone call.

Mayor McCormac created the rap after his Chief of Staff began writing a poem on the topic. She wrote one line, and according to McCormac, he liked the idea and decided to finish writing it. The poem didn’t turn into a rap until the crew heard it.

They all decided to try it in a rap video and they were afraid to ask me, but I loved the idea,” said Mayor McCormac. Soon after, they began to produce the video.

“The rap video went viral in Woodbridge,” Mayor McCormac said. The roughly two minute long rap reached over 5,000 views on YouTube and over 400 shares on Facebook. McCormac also received positive feedback, including texts and emails.

The DPW workers from the video, Kim Huszar, Robert Dominguez, and Ray Gross, have been recognized several times throughout the Township since the video’s premiere. “My daughter told me I was a celebrity after she saw someone recognize me from the video,” Dominguez said.

Township resident, Joseph Wendolowski, a 2016 Woodbridge High School graduate, enjoyed the creative approach to keeping residents informed. “I think it was a good way to inform people, while also keeping their attention with the use of funny content,” he said.

Mayor McCormac was proud of the feedback mostly because he felt it was a sign that people are paying attention to what is going on around town, which is important to him because, as he said, he is most passionate about economic development, as well as keeping the town clean.

We brought in thousands of new jobs and cleaned up a dozen contaminated sites with new projects and we have more to do,” he said. Although the mayor does not currently have any ideas for future video projects, he is aware of the expectations in light of the Recycle Rap’s success.

“After this, it is certainly going to have to be really funny or people will be disappointed,” Mayor McCormac said.

CTE Courses Help Students Find Passions, Develop Skills

by Mark Vallaro

Basic Foods students enjoy the waffles they cooked for the class. Basic Foods was one of the first CTE courses.

In an effort to help students explore their interests and learn life lessons, Woodbridge High School has implemented Career Technical Education (CTE) courses into students’ schedules.

CTE courses are divided into three categories: technology, family sciences, and industrial art. Course titles include “Advancing with Apple R” and “Basic Foods S”, each teaching life skills to students. For example, “Basic Foods S” is designed to establish a firm platform of culinary skills and an understanding of foods.

The courses hope to “prepare students for post-secondary education and/or careers that they may have in their future,” said guidance counselor Ms. Ferrara. If a student has an idea of what they want to pursue as a career, guidance counselors recommend students to take a related course.

Currently, only freshmen and juniors are required to take a CTE course: College/Career Readiness/Google Docs for freshmen, and Financial Literacy for juniors. However, it is possible that a life skill course will be required of all students each year at some point in the future, as the requirements can be changed by the Board of Education.

Ms. Ferrara has seen “really good feedback from this freshman class” regarding the College/Career Readiness,/Google Docs course this year. So far, students and faculty alike have responded positively to the inclusion of CTE courses to the curriculum.

Despite the benefits, it is not a yearly requirement, which Vice Principal Mr. Connelly said allows students the “freedom and independence to choose what their credits are going to be over the course of their four years here.” This allows the flexibility for students to also challenge themselves academically in rigorous courses, such as those at the AP level.

AP courses try to prepare students academically for college and CTE courses are for “all aspects of career and college readiness,” said Mr. Kane, the head of the Guidance Department.

For now, the Guidance Department is satisfied with the enrollment in CTE courses, including two of the newest, Advancing with Apple R and Principles of Marketing, which have been very popular with students and have had a good start, according to Mr. Kane.

However, the administration is not complacent and is working to further prepare students for college and careers. They are even considering Naviance, a program designed to implement the interests of students in their studies, according to Mr. Connelly.

For now, the success of CTE courses is something for the administration to be proud of as they look forward to expanding the program in the future.

A full list of courses can be found on course offering sheets, which are available on the school’s website under the Guidance tab, or in the Guidance Office.

Ben Returns to School After Battle with Cancer

by Nigel Pala

Ben Lepisto, now a sophomore at Woodbridge High School. Ben recently returned to WHS after undergoing cancer treatment.

In November 2015, the Woodbridge High School community, as well as the Township at large, was made aware of then-freshman Ben Lepisto, whose life took an unfortunate turn when doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. The story united the school in support of their fellow classmate, which resulted in multiple successful fundraisers to help the Lepisto family with the costly treatment.

Ben has made extreme steps in progressing past his condition in the last 14 months. “Although it hasn’t been confirmed by my doctors,” he said, “I currently believe I am cancer free and am just waiting for confirmation.”

Ben was restricted to home instruction last year while he received treatment for a Medulloblastoma, a large malignant brain tumor, and persevered through a very strict health schedule.

After a year of rigorous treatment, Ben has made remarkable progress, according to his doctors, and has now returned to school.

“I was super excited to get back to school. I missed my friends and peers the most. Chilling at home and visits to the doctors and the hospital aren’t really very fun. Seeing my friends daily again is just a good feeling to have again,” Ben said.

Ben is currently taking 10th grade English, Visual Arts 2D, Driver’s Education, Gym, and US History 1. He said he likes all of his teachers, who are helping him ease back into school life.

Although there was a lot for Ben to gain by coming back to school, he wasn’t shy about he hasn’t missed during his time on home instruction. “Like most students, I don’t miss homework and testing very much, but aside from that, I’m glad to be back in school.”

Ben has been moving ahead of schedule in his recovery and even said his doctors regard his progress as a miracle. “I’m glad everything has settled down,” Ben said, “and I can get back to school and living like I did before this.”

Social Justice Club Promotes Peace at WHS

By Olivia Williams

The Social Justice Club will host their annual Peace Week from April 3-7, 2017, during lunch periods, to promote peace at Woodbridge High School.

Past Peace Weeks have included outdoor games and activities from blowing bubbles, hula hooping, and tye dying shirts to meditating. The most popular activity the club instituted was lunchtime yoga, which sparked such an interest that a yoga club was started under the direction of physical education instructor Ms. Vuksanovich.

Additionally, the Social Justice Club has held a number of fundraisers and spread awareness for a variety of causes. Most recently, they circulated a peace petition aimed at promoting a peaceful and safe environment in the school. A bulletin board in the main hallway displays how many students and teachers have signed and promise to contribute to peace.

Club members are happy with what they have accomplished in the past, but many look optimistically to the future to see what else they can conquer.

One of the program supervisors, Ms. Zadigian, hopes to advance on the progress made in previous years concerning the promotion of peace and unity within the entire student body and community.

Club president Pierrelee Claude, senior, mentions that Peace Week’s main goal is to bring students and teachers together to show “that we are all one community, and we respect one another.”  

This year’s Peace Week will have similar activities to previous years, with yoga, meditation, outdoor recess games, and, of course, lots of free stickers and other items. There will be opportunities to tie-dye shirts for five dollars, and a silk screen option also available for an additional two dollars.

Peace Week is another way for the club to spread awareness–especially with the recent stream of current events, Ms. Zadigian adds. She hopes that students will come out energetically as they have before and use the opportunity to express peace and happiness between one another. Any students or faculty with questions should contact Ms. Zadigian.

VP Chiera Completes First Semester at Woodbridge High School

By Jessie McLaughlin

Woodbridge High School’s new vice principal, Mr. Chiera. Mr. Chiera graduated from Colonia High School and taught there for years.

Since becoming a vice principal at Woodbridge High School this fall, Mr. Chiera has found himself settling into a new role, surrounded by new colleagues and students who have welcomed him into the Barron family.

“Well, I do have to say the color change was a little difficult at first. My whole life–attending Colonia High School, teaching and coaching there for years–but I have invited the color change to red and black, which I like,” Mr Chiera said.

Despite the rivalry between Colonia and Woodbridge, Mr.Chiera has said the students, staff, and environment of Woodbridge High School met his high expectations.

“I know the great reputation that Woodbridge High School has, not only academically, but athletically, as well. I’ve always been local, but I’ve but never been around the school… and it was enlightening to become a part of the traditions.”

Those traditions include the school’s strong sense of pride and spirit. “I’ve enjoyed my first couple of sports banquets that I’ve gone to attend. Just the community, parents, athletes, together commemorating a season,” said Mr. Chiera. “Our pep rallies have also been really cool. I’ve never experienced that, so that has been, again, just another situation where the students and staff get together to celebrate our school.”

As spring approaches, and the school year is coming to an end, Mr. Chiera said he is most excited about watching the seniors come closer and closer to graduation, as well as all of the upcoming spring sports and activities WHS has to offer.

“Everyone likes, sort of, the end of something, but also knowing that next year–for those who are coming back–, there will be a renewal of a school year,” said Mr. Chiera. “And just to see our different extra curricular activities, our sports teams perform, this spring will also be an exciting time.”

Cheer Team Wins Big in Texas

by Adam Godfrey

The Woodbridge High School Competition Cheer team went to Texas in January to compete in the National tournament. The team came home winners.

Coach Roderick, who is in her fourth year of teaching and coaching, said she and the team felt very positive on their way to Nationals. “It is a very different experience compared to local competitions on weekends. The atmosphere is a mix between nerves and excitement.”

Coach Roderick wasn’t the only one who felt positive heading into Nationals. Seniors Adriana Josifoska and Mackenzie Thomas, who have both been cheering for the team for four years, felt confident heading into the big competition.

“We knew that if we went out and put the best routine out there, we had a very, very good chance of winning.” Mackenzie said. She said she would describe her team as focused because “no matter what the situation, we knew we needed to do whatever it takes to win.”

When Woodbridge was announced the winner, Adriana said she felt relieved. “There was a sense of relief going through my body. I was emotional and beyond happy.” She described her team as a family and said, “We do absolutely everything together and we are so comfortable around each other.”

“Even when I thought I was doing the most I could, [Coach Gulicks] still pushed me to become better. She has taught me to be determined on and off the mat.” Adriana said.

Mackenzie added that her coach is amazing because, “she has taught me so much, not only as a cheerleader but, as a person. She has pushed me and the team to the best of our abilities and that is why we have won a State championship and a National title.”

Athletic Director Mr. Ward is “extremely proud” of the cheer team’s success, attributing it to the “hard work and dedication” of everyone involved.