Friday, February 9, 2018

What It Means To Volunteer

By: Ryan Durling


     When someone hears the word volunteer, what comes to mind is personal gain. The idea of volunteerism is thought to be whether it looks good for college applications or creates a facade of a higher-quality human. When you look at it from my perspective, you see a whole new side to the idea of doing something without gaining anything from it.

     May of 2017 was the month in which I made a decision that I didn’t know would forever change my view of people and would allow me to realize the true meaning behind unconditional giving. At the end of May, I became a member of the Green Township Volunteer Fire Department.  This became something I would come to realize as the greatest decision I’ve made in my life.

     When I found out that I was of age to be able to join the fire department, I jumped on the opportunity and never looked back. The first thought that came to my mind when I got accepted into the department was not all the fun I was going to have, but the idea of giving back to those around me in a way that not many others could. Firefighters are pictured as the hero who saves someone from a burning building or rescues a cat that is stuck in a tree (the latter of which I have actually done), but most of the time firefighters do things as small as checking a house for dangerous gasses or cleaning a road up after a car accident to ensure the safety of other drivers on the road.

     None of us get paid to do what we do, otherwise it wouldn't be called volunteering. Most of us will gladly drop what we are doing to go and help someone else. As per our policy, we do not technically have assigned duty nights where three or four members are “on call,” but we rely on our members to respond if they can. After knowing most of the men and women on my department for the six months I have been around them, I am confident that they would give you the shirt off their back even if they didn't know you. I can tell you from personal experience that I would drop whatever I'm doing at home to respond to a call no matter what time of day it was. For most people it's the idea and the rush that comes with every call that gives them their adrenaline, but for me, it's the thought of simply helping someone that makes it all worthwhile. After joining the volunteer fire department, I began to find myself doing things I would never have imagined before. For example, I was driving down a busy road one day and saw a woman running after her dog who got loose in her front yard. I slowed down, pulled over, and turned on my blue lights to push traffic to the other side of the road and to slow down cars that were headed my way. Once the woman had grabbed her dog and put it back inside, I went on with my day. It's little things like this that make you feel so much better inside. Knowing that something as little as helping someone protect their pet from traffic can not only make your own day better but make someone else's day great.

     Our dedication to the community is unlike any other. The behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparation is unbelievable. From monthly drills to making sure the engines and tankers are 100% outfitted with the proper equipment, we make sure that if something happens, we are ready. We want to make sure that if you are ever in a situation where you need help, we will be ready and able to help you.
     So next time you think of the word ‘volunteer,’ look at it from a new perspective. Don’t look at the personal gain from doing it. Think of the satisfaction you will get from helping someone or doing something that someone else can benefit from. 

Super Bowl LII: Will History Repeat Itself?

By Joshua Colon

The 2017-18 football season has been crazy since week one. There’s been protests, injuries, upsets, and teams doing amazing things nobody thought they could ever pull off. The Bills finally separated themselves from the number one spot on the list of the current longest playoff droughts in American pro sports. Their last playoff game before this year was in 1999, 18 seasons ago. The Jaguars, finishing as part of the bottom 5 teams in all of the NFL for the last 6 seasons, made it to the AFC Championship. On top of that, they only lost on the final drive against a team that is arguably the best team in the NFL. Now, the Philadelphia Eagles have a chance to finish the season with a bang, by upsetting the New England Patriot Dynasty, in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX. 
The Eagles are still chasing their first Super Bowl win, but they have been football champions before. Since their creation in 1933, they have won two national championships before the Super Bowl Era, in 1948 and 1949. After the creation of the Super Bowl in 1967, they have made it to the championship game twice, but fell short in both games. In Super Bowl XV, they lost to the Oakland Raiders. They did not make it to the Super Bowl after that until the 2004/05 season, where they lost Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots, 21-24. 
The Patriots, on the other hand, are no stranger to success. This is going to be the Patriots’ tenth Super Bowl appearance, already winning 5 of their previous 9 Super Bowls. Four of these wins came from the duo of head coach Bill Belichick and future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. These two form one of, if not the, greatest coach-player duos ever. The Patriots will remain a serious contender for the Super Bowl as long as these two remain together in Foxborough. 
Beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl is already extremely difficult, but now the Eagles are looking to do it without their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz. After Wentz suffered from a torn ACL in week 14, the Eagles had to switch to their second string quarterback, 29 year old Nick Foles. Foles was the Eagles’ third round draft pick out of Arizona, and he bounced around from team to team before landing back in Philadelphia in 2016. He’s no Tom Brady or Carson Wentz, but Nick Foles isn’t a bad quarterback. He has a career QBR (Total Quarterback Rating) of 87.4, and really showed everyone how athletic he is in the blowout victory against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. 
Despite it being unlikely, beating the Patriots is not impossible. The Giants weren’t 2 for 2 against them in the Super Bowl because of luck. They hit Brady. Hard. They never allowed Brady to get into a groove, because in every other play, the Giants’ defensive line was pummeling him, not allowing him to get comfortable. If the Eagles can keep Brady out of a groove, they might be able to contain him enough to win. Alternatively, Nick Foles has to get himself into a groove. If he can keep the pressure onto the Patriots defense, there's a good chance he will be successful against them all game. The Patriots, on the other hand, in order to beat the Eagles, have to protect Brady. If you give Brady enough time, he will hit an open man 9 out of 10 times. As long as he has enough time, Brady should have no problem carving up the Eagles defense.
Key Players For the Eagles
Nick Foles- After only starting in 5 games all season, Foles is going to be thrown in to face an extremely dominant team. It should be interesting to see if he can get past the nerves and play like he did against the Vikings.
Ashton Jeffrey- He is third in NFL for regular season touchdown passes. He caught for 85 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Vikings. Look to see if he can remain to be the top Eagles receiver.
Chris Long-  He is a seasoned Super Bowl veteran. He had 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in regular season and 8 QB pressures in NFC title game. If he can repeat this performance against the Patriots, the Eagles will be in good shape.
Key Players For the Patriots
Tom Brady- He led NFL with 4,577 yards passing this season. He is a four-time Super Bowl MVP going for a sixth ring. He is 5-2 in Super Bowls, as well as a contender for third regular-season MVP award with 32 TD passes at age 40. If Eagles don’t find a way to bring pressure, he will pick them apart.
Rob Gronkowski- He had team-leading 69 receptions and 8 touchdowns, and is an All-Pro tight end that's nearly impossible to stop one on one. He suffered a concussion against the Jaguars, so it should to be interesting to see how he’ll bounce back.
Nate Solder- Not a household name, but he has the important role of protecting Brady’s blindside. If he can do this effectively, Brady can get very comfortable in the pocket, allowing him to carve up the defense of the Eagles

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Repeal of Net Neutrality: The End of the Internet or the Beginning of a New Era?

By: Michael Gaudiosi

You have probably  heard about the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commision) decision to repeal the 2015 Net Neutrality bill put into place by former president Barack Obama. The repeal has been the talk of the internet since Ajit Pai became chairman in January of 2017. YouTubers and other social media “celebrities” have deemed the decision as “the end of the internet as we know it” or they have said users will have to pay $20 a month to access to YouTube or Instagram. While I do think this is a serious topic that needs to be discussed, spreading these false statements is a bit radical and provides no solution to the current situation.

Before we can really delve into the problem at hand we need to define Net Neutrality and analyze its origin, usage and possibly its demise. Net Neutrality is defined as the principle that ISPs (internet service providers) must treat all data on the internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. Basically, this means that a provider such as AT&T cannot slow down a user's connection to a website such as YouTube, just because they are competitors and  would make more money.

Net Neutrality has been a part of telecommunications since the 1980s;  the government claims that phone networks and telegrams were common carriers and could not give preferential treatment. The term itself is new but the underlying idea it represents is not. The internet was first legal for public use in the late eighties but it was not viewed as a public utility, such as telecommunications, so no regulations were set by the FCC on how ISPs could allow access to websites.

By the early 2000s the internet had become common in most households and talk of neutrality was on the rise. People discussed free online trade and education access and for the next 15 years the Net Neutrality Bill would be created after a series of trial and error. In February of 2015 the Net Neutrality Bill was passed and has been in place for the past 2 years. It has allowed the government to regulate the internet and allowed them to stop ISPs from slowing down users access to certain websites just to make more profit. The bill has been compared to the first amendment by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: "This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept."

When Trump became president in 2017, changes were quickly made and Ajit Pai was appointed as the new FCC Chairman. Ajit Pai, former attorney for Verizon, has been against Net Neutrality since its passing in 2015, saying that when the government gets involved in internet matters, innovation and growth is halted and could restrict business arrangements. In April of 2017, Pai publicly promised that the FCC would be voting to roll back the Net Neutrality Bill and that this decision would be the first step in opening the market on the internet.

This promise came to fruition December 14 2017, when the FCC voted to repeal the Net Neutrality Bill, with a 3-2 vote across party lines. Some saw this decision as the beginning of a new online era that dictates free trade and an open market where business can thrive, while others saw it as the end to the internet they know and love. While no one knows what will happen, it is obvious that the end of Net Neutrality will only benefit large billion dollar ISPs while medium and even large sized businesses such as Amazon and Netflix will be taking a huge hit from this decision. Ajit Pai and his supporters say that most ISPs will probably not throttle websites to increase revenue and that even if they did, families could just switch internet providers. Well, there are two problems with that; one, being what happens if all ISPs decide to throttle internet speed for their benefit; or, what happens if you live in a remote area where there is access to only one ISP, such as Blairstown NJ?

Though the current situation may seem like all hope is lost, that is not the case. The fight for the internet is not over just because the FCC voted on it. The decision of 5 individuals cannot dictate our livelihood. You can still make a difference, call your congressman and demand they use the Congressional Review Act and preserve a free and open internet, accessible to all.

Visit https://www.battleforthenet.com/ to use the internet to save the internet.

Sources:

Fast Fashion - Is It Worth It?

By: Alli Meehan

What does Forever 21 have in common with Peabody Energy Company, one of the leaders in coal production and distribution? They both cause pollution and environmental problems as a result of making a profit. “Newsweek magazine ranked Peabody Energy 493rd of 500 in their 2012 Green Rankings due to their environmental impacts of extracting burning coal, and for Peabody’s dismissive attitude toward environmental stewardship.” (polluterwatch.org) Forever 21 is one of the leaders in the fast fashion industry, and is responsible for the largest surge of cheaply made clothing in history.

Who Are the Culprits?
Fast fashion is defined as the industry where production processes are expedited in order to get new trends to the market as quickly and cheaply as possible. (investopedia.com) Large companies like H&M, Forever 21, Kohl’s, ZARA, Brandy Melville, Nike, and Urban Outfitters have found themselves under that title. They, among many others, contribute to the environmental crisis of our generation, the permission and implementation of sweatshops in foreign companies, and the swindling of an entire population of consumers.

The Neverending Cycle
It is no surprise that fashion is more popular than it has ever been, as trends come and go at lightning speed with the influence of social media. As consumers purchase new clothing, they get rid of things deemed “out of style.” That seems to be the obvious cause-and-effect relationship, but often overlooked is the implications of this attitude of spending. The typical consumer, disposing of an average of 81 pounds of textiles per year, does not recycle their old clothes or resell them, and instead throws them in their trash bin, eventually getting shipped to a landfill. While this not only increases the general pollution of the planet, it expedites the decay with harmful chemicals in the product’s fibres. For clothing to be made cheaply, efficiently, and sold quickly, corners are cut. Cotton takes longer to grow than a chemical and a synthetic fabric, and are cheaper when bought in bulk. Due to the fabric being inexpensive and made from less-than-perfect material, it does not last long in a consumer’s closet. It will rip, deform, and become useless in a short time. Then, as the consumer realizes their product is unable to be worn, they repurchase the same product at a low cost. Then, rinse and repeat this process until the customer has spent hundreds on a ten dollar shirt over the course of a few years.

What’s the Solution?
The obvious response to this is to buy better quality clothing. It would save the environment and the bank accounts of the innocent customer. The only reason that more people don’t buy nice quality clothing is because of the steep price that needs to be paid upfront. Spending $100 on a nice shirt hurts the soul of a person more than spending $10 on a low-quality shirt, even if they have to spend ten times more on ten terrible shirts in the long run. But the implications of this process are severe. There are now ten more low-quality shirts in the local dump, poisoning the ground with pollutants, rather than have a great-quality shirt that stays in the wardrobe for years, and is later passed on.

Final Words

Ultimately, this is not something many customers may be doing voluntarily. Some do not even realize they are doing it. Education is the best way to change this system. Customers should be aware of what they are purchasing, where it is from, and how long it will last with them. Then, they can make any decision they like. They can purchase low-quality clothing should they desire to. But now, they will understand what it takes to have that item.



from The Exchange Column: Brazilian Geography

By: Fred Amorim

When I agreed to write an article about Brazilian geography, I was lost and confused. I have always loved the subject, but the problem is that geography can include many different themes. It could be about territory, population, politics, cultural aspects, etc. I was stuck because there’s just so much that I could write about. Since I had a really difficult time choosing my theme, I decided to give you an introduction to everything I know about Brazil.

First of all, I suggested a geography article because ever since I arrived in the U.S., I noticed that a considerable amount of people lack knowledge about not just my country, but almost about every other one that is not the United States. I understand that many people here think that this is the best country in the world and I must say that I tend to agree with that statement. I understand that the majority of this country is very nationalist and, while I respect your patriotism, you cannot close your eyes to the rest of the world. The rest of the world matters! We all need to understand that the planet works as a machine called society, and if the the world collapses, the U.S. certainly would collapse with it, so you have to respect and learn about the rest of the world.

The way I first noticed that there was a lack of knowledge, specifically about my country, was by listening to the things that people said and asked about Brazil. I’ve heard things like “I thought Brazil was in Europe,” “You guys speak Spanish right?!” or “Do you guys have monkeys as pets?” These are just a few examples. Trust me, I don’t get mad at these questions at all. I actually love when people ask me about Brazil, but what really gets my attention is that a lot of people have no idea about its basic information. So without further ado, let me give you a quick introduction about my home country.
Brazil is a massive country located in South America. We have the 5th largest territory in the world and our economy is currently the 9th largest. Our population is huge, amassing around 200 million people.

Brazil is famed for its natural beauties, and trust me, it really is a beautiful place. Our beaches are gorgeous and our famous rainforests are full of incredible creatures and cultural aspects that stem from our few remaining native tribes. It is very important to say that even though we have the biggest rainforest on the planet, the country is not just about that. We also have gigantic cities. The most famous ones are São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - but no, none of them are the capital. Our capital happens to be Brasília.

The country is divided into 5 drastically different regions: the North, where the Amazon Forest is located; the Northeast, where you can find our most amazing beaches; the Center West, where our capital is located; the South West, our most developed region, where São Paulo and Rio are located and also where I come from; and the South, the part of the county that we like to call Brazilian-Europe due to the European influence in the region’s culture, architecture, and history. These regions combined make up a large nation of 26 states and one federal district filled with rich culture and happiness, which makes us known as some of the happiest people in the world.

The entire country speaks Brazilian Portuguese - yes, it is different than Spanish - but nearly every single state and region has its own accents and words. Also, the culture changes a lot depending on the region that we’re talking about, but in general, the whole country is very proud of our soccer tradition, as our national team owns the most World Cup titles (5). We also love our very happy, colorful, and traditional holiday, the Carnaval, and our music styles; such as MPB (Brazilian Pop Music), Samba, and Bossa Nova. If you want to listen and discover the Brazilian musical universe, I totally recommend artists such as Legião Urbana, Seu Jorge and Gilberto Gil.

There’s just so much that I can tell you about Brazil that it is impossible for me to write everything down, so if you want to know anything about my country feel totally free to approach me at anytime. I really love talking about Brazil - and about anything really - and while I may seem quiet and shy, I enjoy talking to everyone very much.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit about Brazil just as much as I love discovering the United States.

Friday, December 15, 2017

NWR Basketball Season 2017-2018: Competitive & Confident

By: Chase Mlecz
        To build a strong high school basketball program, you have to start with a strong foundation.  This is what North Warren Regional High School will have to do in order to find its stride this upcoming basketball season, which is set to start in a home stance on Friday, December 15th at 7pm versus Newton High School.  After losing a handful of quality players at the end of a successful 2016-2017 season, North Warren’s rebuilding will have to start quickly by piecing together a talented young team, improving its player roster, choosing the right game-day strategies that play to the strengths of the individual players, and cultivating new talent from the freshman and JV classes since day one.  However, a team is only as good as its school’s athletic program.  Traditionally, North Warren’s Basketball program has always been more than a team of local basketball players.  It’s been a program that extends beyond the players that includes the school’s administrators, parents, student body, teachers, trainers, and staff.  And if it wasn’t for the countless hours that the coaching staff, boosters, and athletic department put in long before the season starts, the Patriots would have a much harder time building their solid foundation.  

        The 2017-2018 Patriots have some large sneakers to fill.  Last season brought NWR a conference championship, the second one in the basketball program’s history.  If the Patriots want to strive toward another trophy season, their team leaders will need to do whatever they can to build a complete and competitive basketball program.  This means focusing on the fundamentals and developing players to the best of their abilities.  Players such as Evan Carter, Evan Szkarlatiuk, Chase Mlecz, Justin Collins, Alex Close, Nick Scialla, and the rest of those contributing at the varsity level have been hard at work since November 20th as they prepare for a long but fun-filled winter season.  Leading up to the first game, Coach Tillou has said time and time again, “The Sky's the limit with this team…”.  If the players can believe in that mentality as well, they have a good chance to play with competitiveness and win with confidence.  That said, come cheer on your fellow Patriots when they take on the reigning sectional champions in Newton this Friday night at home, bring the war zone, and GET LOUD!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What It’s Like To Be Me


By: Zachary James Brounstein

I’m not like every other student at North Warren. In every possible way, everyone is different and we all have our own characteristics; but me, I consider special. A rare breed. I’m attracted to men. There’s a thousand terms and ways to say it or beat around the bush, but at the end of the day that's who I am. It doesn’t define me or change my demeanor. I play video games, watch football with my family, and love spending my time with the my guy friends on the weekends. So even though I am different, I don't want to be treated that way.

Even from a young age my family knew. It seemed that everyone knew but me, and that wasn’t so easy. Before I went into elementary school my parents had noticed a change in me. I would say things like, “Something's wrong, I’m not supposed to be born this way” or “Why aren’t I like the other kids?”

My parents didn’t know what to do. My father, being a Jewish man, and my mother, being a Catholic woman, called a specialist who said it was either a phase I would grow out of or I would figure myself out. My aunts and uncles would tell my parents that they couldn’t fuel the fire. If I wanted a barbie doll they had to say no and teach me the ways of being like a boy, as sad as that is. But one Christmas, my parents listened to their advice and got me cars and a baseball with a glove and bat, but I cried. I personally don’t remember the details, but my mother and father agreed that it was a day that made them feel like they failed as parents. Apparently I cried so hard and asked my mother, “Why would Santa do this to me? He is supposed to know what I want.” After that Christmas my parents swore to let me be whoever I was, and I know I was an accident, but their decision wasn’t.  

In Blairstown Elementary I was bullied for how I dressed, how I acted, and for being different. I would come home every day in tears crying to my mom, “Why do they judge me? Why are they so mean?” And she would hold me to her chest and let me cry. I hated waking up and heading to a place where I wasn’t welcomed. The problem was I didn’t know why. I was not old enough to know anything about sexual attraction and true love. I dated a girl for almost three years, but you know about elementary school relationships, they don't really count, it's just what kids do. Whilst being with a girl, I never felt attracted to her and we were best friends. She didn’t judge me or question me. After we ‘broke up’ in sixth grade, I came to North Warren with a fresh start. I was sick of the tears and over with the mean kids who ridiculed me day by day.

But seventh grade wasn’t all too easy. I still was not a friend to many, which was good I guess, but truthfully I felt lonely. Even now, four years since seventh grade, I feel lonely. There wasn’t much going on for me during middle school, but the bullies were still around, lurking, their words damaging. Whomever came up with that saying that words don’t hurt you was dumb. Words sting like a burn from a hot surface, or maybe even a fire; either way the feeling can go away, but the memory remains. A scar forms. And I am covered in scars now, each word like a cut, but I know that the people who brought me down are the only reason I learned to stand up. I told people who I was.

There was never an ‘aha’ moment for me, I just thought about it, and I liked boys. That's just how it is, and almost five years later, I am proud I came out. I told friends, few and far, and my family, who were for the most part accepting. I can’t control minds and make people understand. Living in a somewhat conservative area like Blairstown, word travels fast and not everyone is supportive.

I had guy friends; they vanished. I had bullies; they vanished. And I’m glad I lost the bullies and the close-minded folk because they wouldn’t see me for who I am. Being gay is a big part of my life, but it is no defining feature or characteristic, it's my sexual orientation and that's all. Those guy friends I lost left because they couldn’t bear the thought of me near them and that's not okay. Everyone has a right to speak their mind and follow their beliefs, but there is a fear among heterosexual males of homosexual males. I do not know if it is because they cannot comprehend the idea or if they think I will make a move on them.

To the heterosexual males, I am not going to hit on you, I am not going to make moves on you because the truth to it all is I’m not attracted to you. Just because I like boys doesn’t mean I like you. I understand you’re heterosexual and I don’t like you, for that very reason. It's the same reason you aren’t attracted to every girl you see, because you have a type, mine just happens to be homosexuals.

To the close-minded, I know you are among the student body and I’ve met many close-minded individuals, and whatever I say will not change your thoughts. You’ve never been malicious or made comments to my face and if you say things behind my back, you’re behind my back for a reason. Freedom of speech is an amendment and I know that. I accept that, I just wish you’d accept me.

All I desire at the end of the day is acceptance from my peers at North Warren. And many individuals are kind and honest and I have made many friends that I love so dearly. Being gay at North Warren isn’t scary, and it isn’t something that truly bothers me. In all honesty, it's lonely. And I do not expect everyone to read this article and think Oh wow, Zach is so lonely, I want to be his friend, but instead think about the people around you. Everyone is fighting battles and we all have reasons for the way we act and think, and you should reach out, be open-minded, and do not be afraid of someone who isn’t you.