Friday, October 30, 2020

How the Mute Button Saved Not Only Americans, But the Presidential Candidates

 By: Brooke Barschat

After the first presidential debate, I believe most of us watched in horror as the countdown to the final debate began. We didn’t want another mess of constant interruptions and angry comments where no one learns anything new about the candidates; we wanted a debate that was actually productive and revealed new things about the candidates. In my opinion, this goal was actually achieved, and I believe this was due to the threat of the mute button. Even the threat of a silencing seemed enough to cause an improvement in the candidates’ behavior, The button had to be used very few times, though it did not hold back the candidates in their respective two-minute responses. 

It’s pretty obvious why this was a saving grace for Americans. We finally got the debate we deserved. We got to actually hear what the candidates had to say. Even the moderator was able to get out the questions without having to yell at one of the candidates to let the other speak. Though some of the comments said by the candidates were a bit untrue, there was still a big improvement in the amount of information we learned about the candidates’ plans and positions since the last debate. We were able to hear the clashes in the candidates’ views on the handling of COVID-19, election interference, policies in China and North Korea, healthcare coverage, economic relief, the minimum wage, immigration, race relations in America, and the environment and fracking.

So obviously, this button helped Americans get a coherent and less stress-inducing debate, but how was this button helpful for the candidates? 

For many Americans, an interrupting and belligerent candidate is not an appealing one, so by taking away the candidate’s option to interrupt also takes away the option for the candidate to make themselves look like a bumbling fool. This was especially helpful for Trump who could not seem to help himself from interrupting in the last debate and ended up making himself look less appealing.

However, interrupting is part of Trump’s strategy. His interruptions and attempts to dominate are attempts to throw his candidate off their game, thus the mute button was a saving grace for Biden as well. As Trump could not employ this strategy, he was able to focus on his actual answers instead focusing on defending himself against attacks and/or trying desperately to reclaim his time.

Ultimately, I feel this was a successful debate. I feel that this debate, much more than the previous debate, will help undecided voters make a decision and will motivate those who haven’t already to submit their ballots. Even if it doesn’t achieve this, this debate definitely instilled a lot more faith in the American people about politics, particularly after the dumpster fire that occurred last time.

My conclusion: More mute buttons at political debates.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Weekly Recipe

By: Kasandra Lechleiter

Recipe: Meatballs (No. 48) Category: Lunch or Dinner

Notes of Experience:

  • Personally, I love using salt and pepper in a lot of recipes, simple or difficult.  Salt and pepper gives basic seasoning to the dish, but gives all the difference.

  • When sprinkling the ingredient mix with salt, I suggest taking a few medium-sized pinches, depending on how salty you like your food.  If you don’t know how salty you want to make it, you’d rather underseason than overseason the meatballs.  When serving, if you find the food is less seasoned than you’d have liked, you can always add more salt.

  • When sprinkling the pepper, I suggest a few shakes, but again, don’t overseason.

  • Spread out the seasoning.  Add some salt and pepper when mixing, then again after mixing.  It makes sure everything is well seasoned.


  • 1 lb of beef (ground)

  • 1 lb of pork (ground)

  • 0.5 cup of Italian breadcrumbs

  •  1/cup of milk

  • 0.25 cup of onion, diced

  • 0.5 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

  • 1 egg

  • 0.25 cup of parsley (chopped)

  • 0.25 cup of parmesan cheese (shredded)

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400* Fahrenheit

  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients until just combined

  3. Shape the mixture into 48 meatballs, approximately 1.5 tablespoons each

  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through

Bon appetit! 


How Meme Culture Impacts the PSAT

By: Elise Stefankiewicz

High school inevitably starts every year and the first thing that comes to most Sophomores and Juniors minds is the PSAT. This is the first real stressor of the year. This is the test that starts off initial thoughts about the actual SAT and then sparks thoughts of college. The series of questions, depending on your mindset, means a lot to students because it gives them an estimate of what their SAT scores will be like. Scholarships and opportunities can come from a good PSAT score. To make the PSAT less dreadful and more comical, teenagers have taken to twitter and memes have started to develop about topics that appear on the test. 

A meme is a picture or video that has some sort of text above it symbolizing a joke that correlates with the given photo. Internet memes are virtually spread like wildfire and if you have any form of social media you will easily be introduced to the PSAT memes. The culture of creating a series of memes about the test has been a constant every year. This is simply our generation's attempt to make something stressful more humorous, and it does just that.  

Despite the College Board's concerns with the memes, it has motivated the students that take the test. Students want to take the test to understand the memes that are trending online. If they read the stories provided they will most likely acknowledge the memes they see online. College Board members are not happy with the outlet our generation has created on Twitter discussing the test. Students are not permitted to discuss the test but that does not stop anonymous or no name accounts on Twitter. The constant flood of memes makes it near impossible for the College Board to actually track down and cancel the scores of those who are posting memes. However, every student is taking the test and reading it's content, so memes are bound to be created, and therefore bound to go viral. 

Our generation has its own way of creating comical memes or jokes about things that stress us out. Whether it be school, a sport, a personal situation, or the PSAT. We find ways to make jokes about things that cause anxiety. This eases what we feel and creates a less tense view of taking the PSAT. Generation Z 1, College Board 0.


Things People Need to STOP Saying about Equestrians

 An Opinion By: Araya White

  “It’s not a sport.”

It’s not a sport? Then tell me, why is it in the Olympics? I go for one ride at least once a week and after my lesson I go home with my legs shaking because I work so hard.  We have to be in physical shape to ride and some people have to diet themselves to be able to ride.  Plus, I’d like to see you ride a 1,000 pound animal with your hands and legs, and doesn’t speak your language!  

“You just sit there!”

I have personally had a few people say this to me, and everytime I say “Thank you!”  Here’s why I say this; If you were to see a rider with one hand high, one low, leaning back, and legs bouncing around you would probably think that they are a bad rider.  Or seeing someone kick their horse to go faster,  or pulling their horses face off to stop.  That’s the point.  Using invisible cues to control the horse, it’s truly amazing!

“I could do that too.”

Unless you ride yourself, I don’t think you can.  Yes you can ride a horse, but can you do it properly?  Probably not, unless you take 2 horse lessons in your free time.  It takes the average rider about a year to be able to canter over a 1 foot fence correctly if you take lessons once a week.  So unless you’re doing that don’t tell me you could easily ride a horse over a 3 foot fence.

Some of My New Chill-Song Finds: by Adriana DeFuoco


Moth Man - Dirty Bynam

Pink Lemonade - Johnny Stimson

Brazil - Declan McKenna

Kilby Girl - The Backseat Lovers 

Paranormal - HumorUs

Worst Girls of All Time - Aidan Bissett

Bored - Stella Smyth

Monday, October 19, 2020

Recipe of the Week Column

By: Kasandra Lechleiter

Recipe: German Pancakes Category: Breakfast

Notes of Experience:

  • You might want to double the recipe, whether you want it to be considerably thick or just have it in a bigger pan.


  • 3 eggs (preferably large)

  • 1.5 tablespoons (tbs) of granulated sugar

  • 1 pinch of salt

  • 0.75 cup of milk (preferably warm)

  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter (not entirely melted)

  • Optional: Serve with sliced strawberries, lemon juice, and powdered sugar to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400* Fahrenheit (205* Celsius)

  2. Combine the eggs, granulated sugar, salt, milk, vanilla, flour, and melted butter in a blender and blend until smooth.  (Or I suppose you could mix them in a bowl, but if you’re really hungry, blenders will be faster.)

  3. Preheat an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  (If your oven is numbered, I suggest 5-7, the medium range)  for 3-4 minutes.

  4. Melt the butter in the skillet.

  5. Pour the batter into the heated skillet and then immediately (an carefully, for both the food’s sake, and yours) move the skillet to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    1. The pancake is done when it is a rich, amber color and the sides have risen considerably

  6. Let the pancake cool

Enjoy!  ;)

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Power TikTok Holds in our Generation

By: Elise Stefankiewicz

In the ordinary life of teenagers, it is almost instinctive to wake up and check your phone. Inevitably, you grasp that addicting device and see what you convinced yourself you missed overnight. TikTok is an app that I´m sure each one of you has. Once you tap it, you are automatically opened up to a whole new world of creators and content. As addictive as it can be, whether you are watching the videos or making them yourself, if the app wasn't on your phone, you might struggle to understand an exchange between everyday teenagers. 

According to TechAhead´s article on the app, it is known that the platform has 600 million downloads worldwide and happens to be the 4th most downloaded app in the world. The app’s popularity took off in 2019, when it became a competition among friends to go viral on the platform. The app has thrived because it is fun, that's all there is to it. The videos that you watch either make you laugh, are heartwarming, or make you get up and learn a new dance. The app is prominent because it is so widespread and honestly, has no rules. The community of people who have gone viral from the content they have put out on the app are given extreme opportunities and partnerships. Charli D'amelio is the most followed person on the app, with 91.8 million followers but that will probably change by tomorrow. She has had many brand deals with Hollister, Morphe, and Orosa Beauty. She is sponsored by Dunkin Donuts and has her own drink on the menu, and almost everyone knows who she is. But without the app TikTok, no one would.

This platform holds an extreme amount of power in our generation and on social media. Influencers, huge brands, and well known celebrities have also joined in on putting out content on the app, which makes fans want to go on TikTok to see more of them. Trends and creators have changed what we do on our phones and how we go about our everyday lives. The dances are probably the biggest trends on the app. 31.3 million videos have been made under the sound, which shows that not only are the dances causing a huge trend, but so are music artists' streams. Other than a new dance trending every week, the app's audience and creators also do other trends like tie dye, the ghost trend, the mirror trend, pranks, and reaction videos. 

All of these things that stream the “for you” page have shaped our generation into what it is today. For some TikTok is a news source, used to keep track of what is going on in the world. For some, it is a fun way to get up and learn a new dance. TikTok is an outlet, a new way to express yourself and has shaped our world into what it is today. 


“How TikTok Has Changed the Social Media Game.” TechAhead, 11 Sept. 2020, 

The Book Corner with Ava Tanis: The Sun is Also a Star

When romantic, Daniel Bae and fate-skeptical, Natasha Kingsley meet accidentally during what’s supposed to be Natasha’s last day in the U.S., it feels less significant than it turns out to be. They have a seemingly undeniable connection, but Natasha’s adherence to fact doesn’t allow her to truly believe in love or the power of circumstance. Daniel bets her that he can make her fall in love with him in one day, and the game is afoot. 

Exploring the stress of deportation and being forced down what feels like the wrong career path–among many other troubles of modern teenhood–The Sun Is Also a Star has potential to resonate with a variety of demographics. If you love love and beautifully-written literature, it is a charming contemporary novel that you will surely enjoy. Nicola Yoon’s writing is rich in detail and easy to follow.

Repeated coincidences that always seem too good to be true make the book feel less realistic, but nonetheless losing yourself in Yoon’s dreamy narration is an effortless process. Themes of love and fate make this book relatable to many others, but in comparison to classic love stories, it is unique for its representation of mixed race couples and immigrants as well as for bringing light to many current events and issues. 

If you are a fan of Yoon’s other novel, Everything, Everything, or of similar literary works–Call Me By Your Name, for example–you may like this sweet, romantic novel. One thing is for sure; by the end of the novel, Natasha believes in fate, and you will too. 

The Vice Presidential Debate Aftermath: What You Need to Know

By: John Stracco

Last week, vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris met for their one and only debate for a last ditch effort to convince Americans why their candidate is better, even though plenty of voters have already made up their minds. When asked who won last week’s contest it is quite arguable that it was a tie. Both candidates were well put and articulate, and unlike the in presidential debates, were equally respectful of each other. They both also equally dodged as many questions as possible on issues that would make them look bad. With that said, Kamala Harris probably won last night purely because her opponent, current Vice President Mike Pence, is associated with the cataclysmic presidency of Donald Trump and was left to defend actions that cost 200 thousand and counting American lives.

Both candidates had their moments though. Senator Harris came off particularly strong on issues such as the coronavirus and racial or social issues. It seemed given however, considering Pence’s running mate, Donald Trump, is known to have immense disapproval on those issues. Pence did equally well on issues like the economy, taxes, and the supreme court, most notably calling out Harris on her refusal to answer the question asking if she and Biden would pack the supreme court following the nomination and anticipated confirmation of Amy Coney Barret.

Candidates also consistently changed topics and used their time to answer questions from previous sessions. Questions about the environment were quickly turned to taxes and questions about healthcare, which Senator Harris seemed to win at, were intertwined with the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Both also took to the habit of straight up not answering the questions. One of the most glaring examples of this was when each candidate was asked about the ages of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Kamala Harris simply explained her entire life story when she was asked about the possibility of a vacancy in office during the next term, and Mike Pence gave little to none evidence of an answer either. This also happened on many other occasions where candidates danced around questions because they knew the answers would make them look bad. Mike Pence struggled to give straight answers about the pandemic because of the failure his administration took during it, and Kamala Harris seemed to use Trump as a scapegoat on the issues of taxes. Instead of talking about her and Biden’s tax plan she took fire at the President for his own tax records, and Mike Pence noted she refused to answer because her plan would raise taxes.

While there were a plethora of issues last week, it was overall a good night for American Politics. For the first time in forever, it seemed that two political rivals were able to have civil discourse and respect each other while also providing a decent amount of policy and substance for the American people, though the bar for this was set incredibly low. Not only that but the candidates towards the latter end of last night provided hope for American unity in one of the most decisive, and important times in our nation's history. They each told Americans of the beauty that can come from disagreement, which was shown through their debate all night; a sign of hope for the Americans of the future. And we cannot forget about the fly on Mike Pence’s head.

The Eight States That Will Decide the Election: And Why Yours Doesn’t Matter

By: John Stracco

     Americans will make one of the most important decisions with regards to the future of the country, the Presidential election. Under our democratic values, we believe that our system of government accounts for each individual to be able to vote equally; however is it possible that your vote doesn’t matter?

        Since the ratification of the Constitution, the United States has used a system called the electoral college, where state electors carry out voter preference for their respective state. This system has come under fire quite recently, most notably in the 2000 and 2016 Presidential elections. Current President, Donald Trump, was able to win the election, but not the popular vote which called into question if the electoral college really works. 

Under the system, electors carry out the desire of the popular vote in each state, so if a majority of New Jersey voters were to choose Joe Biden, New Jersey's 14 electoral votes would go to Joe Biden. The same would work on the other side where if a majority of voters in Texas chose Donald Trump, he would receive all 35 electoral votes from the state. Most states' populations swing to one side; for example: New Jersey, New York, or California nearly 99% expected to vote for the Democrat, while states like Kansas, Wyoming, and Alabama expected to vote for Republican.

There are a small number of states called swing states, which consist of roughly an equal amount of voters and can swing to one party or another, depending on the election and which candidate they believe will do a better job leading the country. Unfortunately only eight states really do have a say, and the direction they swing will decide the election. They include Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Georgia. This is the main reason why these states are campaigned in the most, candidates making almost weekly visits to them.


        For us voters in New Jersey,  will we be able to say that a Presidential candidate paid serious attention to the state and its outcome? Voters in states that are traditionally one sided often feel ignored, almost like the two party system failed them. This is especially true if you are a red voter in a blue state or vice versa. 

For example, Republican voters in New Jersey may as well throw their vote down the metaphorical drain. We all know that Joe Biden will carry the 14 electoral votes from the state and bearing those circumstances, the President doesn’t stand a chance in the Garden State. 

This could also play into the greater picture of the dilemma behind third party candidates. In a state like New Jersey, where the winner can be decided as soon as the polls close, voters may be more encouraged to use their vote on a candidate they actually believe in who may not necessarily be a Republican or Democrat. However, in a state like Pennsylvania that was decided by thousands of votes in 2016, voters do not have the same luxury. The Keystone State could very well hold the state of the country in its hand. In Pennsylvania every vote counts, and many consider a vote for a third party candidate to be a waste.

So how does America find its way out of this entwined political dilemma? Well, many argue that the abolition of the electoral college would suffice, but some states are taking a different approach. Maine will conduct its election via rank choice voting this year with the hope that it will encourage voters to choose candidates who represent their values instead of a party. But will it work? The very foundation of our democracy will lay within the results of this groundbreaking election.

The Political Implications Of President Trump’s Covid-19 Case

By: John Stracco


On the morning of Friday, October 2nd, Americans woke up to yet another disaster plaguing the year of 2020. Early Friday morning, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, announced via twitter that he and the first lady had tested positive for the Coronavirus. Obviously, this news is devastating and sad, as it is for any who contract the deadly disease; but with Trump being the oldest and definitely the most influential world leader to contract the virus so far, there are certain political implications that are unavoidable, with only 22 days before the election.

A simple place to start is with Trump’s strategy for reelection. It is obvious, the numbers don’t lie, that the US has the most Covid-19 cases in the world, and many lay the responsibility for that on the President. It has been abundantly clear that Trump is steering his campaign towards the economic recovery, “law and order”, and the supreme court. For a clear path to victory Trump would most likely hope to keep the coronavirus on the downplay during his campaign. However, his diagnosis does the exact opposite of this. For the next few weeks voters in swing states will focus on Trump's dealing with the virus, and his own immune response could be very influential in the outcome of the election. 

The best possible outcome for the President is that he has a quick and speedy recovery.To start, is the best possible outcome for the President in which he has a quick and speedy recovery. Three consequences came of Trump’s case.

 First, some voters were stirred by Trump’s positive test and may have decided he is not the man to lead the country. The second is that the President talked of how easy his run with the virus was, proving his point that many people contract the virus with mild to no symptoms.

Either way, Trump will have to self-isolate for at least 10 days which halts all campaign events and gives an advantage to his opponent, Joe Biden, who is beginning on the ground events in swing states this week. Biden will be able to speak directly to voters, while the President is stuck in a hospital. This also brings into question the second presidential debate, which is supposed to happen when he is done isolating. And after Trump’s performance during the first debate, he could certainly use another chance to appeal to voters. However, this will be substantially harder after his run with the Coronavirus.

Just like the death of legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump’s positive test provides yet another shake up just weeks before the election that will weigh on the minds of the American people for the weeks to come; as well as swing voters  who are most likely to vote closer to the election and in person. These are some of the most influential voters on the future of the country and outcome of the election.