A Hole In the System – Piercings

Ann Czecha ’10
Feature Writer

Christine Stubbs 11' displays her piercings.
Christine Stubbs 11' displays her piercings.

Sitting in a cold chair, my mother to my right, holding her breath, awaiting what is about to happen nervously. As the gun is cleaned, loaded and raised closer and closer to my head, I count my heart beats and take three deep breaths. As the woman who looks like this may hurt her more than me raises the gun and says, “okay are you ready?” I have to quickly remind myself that this is something I wanted. One, two, three. she takes the piercing gun through my cartilage as a diamond stud is placed, and I feel the cold stud in my warm skin. I have joined the masses in a time old tradition of self expression.

There are numerous ways to express yourself without saying words. This epidemic has spread through all ages, countries and peoples. It may stand for tribal ranking, a memorable experience, or just something you thought was interesting. It is performed in many different ways and shapes; it is the art of piercing.

After taking a look around, it is noticeable that our Bishop McNamara society is not excluded from this expression of self through this trend. The McNamara administration is known throughout the student body for being strict on, what and how all students present themselves through clothing on a day to day basis. But the student body has found a hole in the system (pun intended). Most girls (and quite a few boys) have their ears pierced, sometimes multiple times. Each part of the ear has a different name, such as cartilage (the upper ear), the rook (which is the outer fold of the ear) or the daith (the inner fold of the ear).

From teachers to students alike, each piercing has its own unique story. Christine Stubbs ’11 has a total of six piercings and stands out with her loud personality and personal expression. Three of them she has done herself. Her piercings started with a first hole in her lower lobe, which is typical for many girls to get as babies. Christine has pierced her own naval and cartilage. “I used a safety pin, don’t do that!” she recommended. Christine is very happy with all of her piercings, and there is no doubt she plans on getting more. This seems to be a common theme, many people say it is like an addiction.

Every piercing has a story. After interviewing different students, it was evident that some times the piercing was not only an act of expression but an act of rebellion. Randi Ayala ’11 believes, “Piercings let you express yourself and make you look attractive.” In Nov. 2008, she had badly wanted to get her belly button pierced, but her mother strongly disagreed. Randi then had her boyfriend’s mother take her to Mystics in Crofton, and sign as her guardian to get the piercing done. Her mother made Randi remove the piercing, but Randi says she fully intends on getting it redone when she is 18.

Max Allegro ’10 is one of many boys who have taken to the ear piercing trend that has become popularized during our generation. “People seem to like it,” said Max. “I got it done last spring at a pharmacy in Spain with Allison Baden and Allie Baumgartner as my chaperons.” When Max returned home, his mother was not upset but was pleased to hear when Max confirmed that it was just a way to remember Spain, and that no other piercings are in his future.

Faculty members are no exception to the craze. Few know that even principal Marco Clark wanted his ear pierced at one time. “I was at beach week my senior week of high school in Ocean City. I sat down to get my ear pierced, and at the last minute, wimped out.” Mr. Clark wants students to know that body jewelery can be a good way of expression and may look cute when you’re young, but teenagers should think about their future image too and what marks the piercings may leave.

Kari Bergman, Spanish teacher, has her cartilage pierced as well. She said she got it during her mid twenty’s in her left ear. Ms. Bergman was in Paris, France with her cousin and a friend, both who planned on getting their noses pierced. After paying, one girl chickened out. Instead of wasting the money, Ms. Bergman decided why not! “I could hardly understand the man that was piercing me! I just kept saying left ear? Yes? Cartilage? Hoping he would know what I was talking about,” she said jokingly.

Teachers Gretchen Harrison, Jenny Klimzack and Matthew Buckley also revealed that they had (or have!) naval or ear lobe piercings, but there was one teacher that stood out the most. Angela De Leonibus, chemistry teacher, has a total of seven piercings covering both her ears. Ms. D started getting them when she was a baby and as she got older saw it as a way to express herself, “you could say I’m a rebel..not really…but really,” laughed Ms. DeLeonibus. Teacher Laura Keller would love to add a piercing to her nose, maybe even eyebrow. The main thing stopping her? “Are teachers here even allowed to do that?” As the rules here and in society get stricter, teenagers and adults alike are trying to find new and creative ways to express their beliefs and who they are under the uniform.

Economy Hits McNamara

Photo illustration by Melissa August '09
Photo illustration by Melissa August '09

By Alex Vinci ’11
Staff Reporter

We hear it on the radios. We watch President Obama talk about it on the television. It is all about the one subject that terrifies every American — the economy. As teenagers, our first thought is to presume it’s being handled by someone else. We want to think it won’t affect us, and it’ll be over before we have to deal with it.

But it is here, and it is now. We have to take responsibility and realize that even from ages 14-18, the problems of our country are still our problems.  The economy is around us every day and it is here at McNamara.

“We can feel the impact on different levels here,” said Assistant Principal for Student Life, Victor Shin. “It’s reality. We need to be aware of future results.”

The crisis is hitting our McNamara homes and it’s hurting. Our parents are losing jobs.  They are suffering from pay cuts and are being forced to cut back on their hours.  Yet, they still have to manage to pay a $9700 tuition.  Peggy Ball in the Business Office noted that she is seeing families struggle when collection is due, and parents are paying around pay-days more often. They look for a relief but instead see a $600 increase in tuition next year to $10,300.

“There are not many days in the last month where I haven’t received a phone call from a parent that has lost a job or had their hours cut back,” stated President Heather Gossart. “We work hard to attempt to help families and help the students remain here.”

Unfortunately, the story has continued for some families by having to withdrawal their child from McNamara.  Let’s say they cannot keep up with the money and the student in result now has to attend a public school or be home schooled instead. “I have a friend that goes here that almost didn’t come back this year because of money, but her mom pulled through and paid,” said Chrstine Stubbs ’11.

As registrar, part of Karen Vinci’s job is to handle withdrawals.  So far this year there have been seven withdrawals.

“Sometimes the parents are very distraught and sometimes they’re very non-committal,” said Ms. Vinci as she described the atmosphere when a parent has to take out their child.

Along with the families that have been put in financial trouble, the school is trying to avoid from going there as well. Prices of anything and everything that we use and need at McNamara seem to be going up. However, the bills still need to be paid as well as the teachers.  The administration has been working to clean up the budgets as well as making budget cuts where they’re futile. Ms. Gossart called it the “underwear program,” meaning that they will take things from where people won’t see it.

Many big projects that Mrs. Gossart and the rest of the teachers and staff had been planning on have had to be put on hold.  They were looking to have the bleachers enclosed.  Also, they wanted to put in a HVAC system in the gym.  Both of these are now on hold for an undetermined time due to financial needs.  The only projects that were given the “ok” were those that are a necessity to safety. For example, lighting will be installed into the parking lots as well as improvements to the security gates.

Other schools around the Washington DC area are also fighting the economic crisis and many are having a worse time than we are. The administration all seemed to agree that we are better off than most. However, as other schools are unable to keep up, their teachers have been forced to take pay-cuts or pay freezes.  The common percent increase to a teacher’s salary is normally around 1-2%.  Fortunately, for our teachers, Ms. Ball confirmed that next year the salaries will increase.

However, the salaries are not the only thing changing next year.

“We are going to have to look toward the public schools more to fill part of our student population,” said Mr. Shin.  Susanne Mendiola, Administrative Assistant (Guidance), gathered an estimation from her records that currently, 143 students that attend McNamara came from a public school. Admissions Director Patricia Garber expressed that the admissions office looks for the most qualified students, not their financial situation. Unfortunately, the financial status of our future applicants could affect their decision in attending McNamara or not.

Along with the budget analysis, all of the departments have been cleaned up and some have had budget cuts.  Next year, to keep with the changes, some of the electives will be cut.  “Some won’t like it, unfortunately, but that’s the reality,” said Academic Dean Mindi DeDuclos.  “Unfortunately, a class that someone had been waiting to take since freshmen year may not be there for their senior year.” The reality is that to battle against the economy, cutting classes is necessary, and the administration believes that it’s smarter to take away from what is extra than from the essential college preparatory education.

Also, to help improve our financial stability, staff members have been helping out individually by helping save the school significant amounts of money.  Librarian Elizabeth Hill has discovered a new program that can do just that.  As of now, our school computers are subscribed to Proquest, a learning database.  But next year,  Ms. Hill has seen to it that we will switch to the MD Digital Library learning database.  This program is set up so that the more students are at the school, the less amount of money is paid.  Next year we will only have to pay $2000 with this new database saving McNamara $5,000.

Another interesting penny-saver was presented by Mr. Shin.  Next year we will also be switching our agenda books. They are slightly bigger but by no means a downgrade from this year’s model.  It will actually have some improvements made to it.  It will have the same resources as well as the school calendar will be incorporated into it.  (Calendars will still be available but sold instead for a fundraiser.)  Along with being a very useful aide to the students, these agenda books will also help McNamara save $4000.

Mr. Shin was very humble about his contribution and also made it clear that there was one thing he didn’t want to change next year.  This was our call to give back to the community. As  he said, “It is still important to give back, even more now because of the economy.  We will still run our food drive, blood drive, coin drive etc.  It is part of who we are as a school.”

Although the going can get rough for us, it can always be worse, and it is always worse for someone else. Therefore, we still need to work to help those that have it the worst.

It is important to be aware that the problems don’t just lie in the hands of the White House.  Mrs. Gossart believes that “We’re going to come out stronger from the experience.” We are being affected here at our school and in the homes of those we love.  But if we work to come up with solutions and not stand by idly to watch our peers suffer, we can come out of this widespread crisis stronger.

Make the Grade or Miss the Game

**Update DEC. 2009 — This story won Honorable Mention for Sports News or Feature Writing in the Maryland-District of Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 2009 Individual Writing and Editing Contest Awards, Newspaper Division.

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Joshua Crockett ’10
SPORTS EDITOR

“You are academically ineligible.” Variations of this phrase are spoken all across the nation to very talented athletes. Countless seasons have been derailed by intricate players not meeting the expectations of the school’s academic standards.

In the past, those that couldn’t make the grade in private school resorted to continuing their careers in a less rigorous public school academic requirement. Now, due to the “no E” policy put in place by public school, there is no escaping fulfilling a certain requirement in order to enjoy the privilege of participating in extra curricular activities.

Ironically, private school standards have become easier to maintain academic eligibility. Many of the schools within the conference, including the Mustangs, allow up to two failing grades on the report card as long as the student’s GPA has met a certain standard. These college preparatory schools have come to realize that the pressures and abundance of responsibility placed on these students could be overwhelming and in turn cause slightly uncharacteristic, academic performance. However, they never lose sight of the first priority which is educating the mind. That is why an academic probation system is put in place. Regardless of how entertaining, and in some cases profitable, the success of the team could be for the school, there is an always present interest in being able to perform in the classroom. This interest is often forgotten by the fans that enjoy seeing their favorite high school athletes.

Student athlete Brandon Coleman ‘10 illustrates the struggle between the gymnasium and the classroom.

McNamara requires a 2.0 grade point average with no more than two failing grades. When a student has not met these requirements, they are prohibited from participating in practices and games for the next four weeks. If an individual’s grades have improved after the probational period, they are cleared to begin playing and practicing with the team.

What about those students that fail to meet the academic standards during playoffs? Principal Marco Clark says, “There are definitely exceptions. He or she has played the whole season long and it would really hurt the team.” However, these players are not off the hook that easy. They must display commitment to improving and maintaining their grades even after the season has come to an end.

All around the WCAC, the academic standards differ. Some have adopted the “no failing grades” policy similar to PG. public schools. Others have lowered the minimum grade point average for freshman and have made it easier for the students to raise their grades as they progress in years and academic maturity.

This raises the question, should freshmen be expected to perform at the same level as a senior? It is sure that everyone has experienced or is currently experiencing the huge change from high school to middle school. Freshman athletes usually have a tendency to lose sight of the goal, which is education. A junior or senior has experienced the pressures of a full season and know what they must do in order to remain available to their team mates.

With long days due to practices and away games, is there a realistic opportunity for student athletes to perform on and off the playing field? Men’s Head Varsity Basketball Coach, Marty Keithline says,”Time management is important.” When asked how academic probation alters his team’s chemistry, he said, “It doesn’t affect the kids that do their homework and study in study hall at all.” As a teacher and a Coach, he understands the importance of getting homework done. You wouldn’t find him making excuses for any player that falls below the school’s standards, saying bluntly, “This is a college preparatory high school, when work is given they [students] are expected to do it.”

Mr. Clark says, “I think there has to be an acceptable standard to enjoy the privileges of participating in extra curricular activities. The standard we have here at Bishop McNamara is [for the student athlete] acceptable, not perfect or great but acceptable.” Despite what many students feel, the teachers have an overwhelming amount of confidence in the academic capabilities here at McNamara. When I asked if he thought he would ever lower the standard, he says, “It is human nature to rise to the occasion. If we set the bar lower they will go lower.” He goes on to say, “If we raised the bar to a 2.5 GPA, I truly believe that our students will rise to the occasion.”

Comic: Bailout

Comic by Alex Vinci ’11, Staff Writer

Click for Full Size
Click for Full Size

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**Update Dec. 2009 — This comic won 1st Place for Editorial Cartoon in the Maryland-District of Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 2009 Individual Writing and Editing Contest Awards, Newspaper Division.

Comic: Bad Puns

Story by Alex Vinci ’11, Staff Writer
Illustration by Colleen Fleming ’10, Special to The Stampede

BAD PUNS
Click for Full Size

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**Update Dec. 2009 — This comic won Honorable Mention for Comics in the Maryland-District of Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 2009 Individual Writing and Editing Contest Awards, Newspaper Division.

Obama Speaks in Virginia Before Election (Photos)

Photos by Melissa August ’09 and Marli Washington ’10, Design Chief and Staff Photographer

BMHS students were in the crowd that gathered in Manassas, Virginia when President Obama spoke the night before the election. Near the end of his speech, he said “Here’s my point, Virginia. That’s how this thing started. It shows you what one voice can do. That one voice can change a room. And if a voice can change a room, it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it can change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world.”
Crowd in Manassas, Virginia when President Obama spoke the night before the election.
PHOTOS BY MELISSA AUGUST '09 and MARLI WASHINGTON '10 for THE STAMPEDE

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**Update DEC. 2009 — The lead photo in this series won Honorable Mention for Photography in the Maryland-District of Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 2009 Individual Writing and Editing Contest Awards, Newspaper Division.

Jaron (J.J.) Henderson, music producer

There really is not a clear definition of what a Music Producer is, but there are two types. One is someone who develops an artist’s sound and image, and helps them grow into a marketable product. This column focuses on the other type — an Audio Producer, like Jaron Henderson ’10. Audio producers are responsible for conducting musicians, engineers, and artists during recording sessions. It is their job to compose, arrange, mix, and master the music into a final audio product. Some notable producers that may come to mind are Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, The Neptunes, and Timbaland.

Interview by Soleil Grant ’10 | Special to The Stampede

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BMHS STAR: Jaron (J.J.) Henderson
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a great artist in our midst, right here at Bishop McNamara. He is a talented music producer aspiring to break into the music industry. If you have not yet gotten to know this month’s BMHS Music Star, Jaron “J.J.” Henderson, you should definitely add it to your “to do” list.jaron1
You might not know him, but if you attended Sankofa Night or BMHS’s Talent Show you’ve certainly heard him. One of his beats was used in a rap performance. Also, he performed himself, playing the piano, alongside a singing act. Now he still drums in Afican Dance III and IV. Most recently, his outgoing personality charmed the Class of 2010 to vote him as their Homecoming Prince.

Soleil: Hey Jaron!
Jaron: Hey Soleil-lay! Wussup!
Soleil: Nothing, How are you?
Jaron: Good
Soleil: Okay, so let’s get this started…Where are you from?
Jaron: I was born in D.C. When I was two I moved to Clinton, MD, and I’ve lived there ever since.
Soleil: What producers inspire you?
Jaron: I have a top three, with no specific order: Timbaland, Kanye West, and the Neptunes.
Soleil : Why are these people inspring to you?
Jaron: They are all on their own level. They are unique, They branch out to all genres, and they have a lot of experience in the game. (Music industry)
Soleil: Do remember the time, place, how old you were, etc. of your life when you decided that producing is what you want to do?
Jaron: I was in the 5th grade and school just got out, and I heard “Grindin’” by the Clipse for the first time. That was when I decided to make beats. (“Grindin” was produced by the Neptunes)
Soleil: How much of your daily time do you devote to producing?
Jaron: When I get home and finish all my homework, I’m just at it until late at night.
Soleil: I know this type of commitment can be a costly one. How much money have you invested into studio equipment, etc.?
Jaron: All together, about $935.00.
Soleil: Wow! Is it hard to persuade your parents into letting you spend this kind of money?
Jaron: Yes, very hard. They would rather me do things more practical.
Soleil: Like what?
Jaron: Like business, something that I can fall back on if the music doesn’t work out.
Soleil: I remember you telling me about a manager and studio time. So what’s going on with that?
Jaron: I am waiting to find the right people who will spend money and time to pay for studio time, people who are dedicated to putting projects together.
Soleil: On average, how much does studio time cost at studios that you look at?
Jaron: Like $60.00 an hour. I don’t always go to the same studio, though. It’s different everytime.
Soleil: At home on your computer, that’s where you work right?
Jaron: Yeah.

Jaron Henderson talks about his passion for music.
"Determination" says Jaron, about what a producer needs to be succesful.

Soleil: What software do you use?
Jaron: I use a combination. They’re called Reason 4 and FL Studio 8.
Soleil: How do you find the softwares you use and how do you know if they’re good or not before you buy them?
Jaron: I get demos of the software from friends of mine, and then I go on the internet and research on the stuff I’m looking at to know if it’s good or not.
Soleil: How much does the software cost?
Jaron: Reason 4 was about $300.00 and the same for FL Studio 8.
Soleil: In general, how do your parents feel about you devoting so much time and money into this? Do they support you?
Jaron: They like it because it’s something constructive. It keeps me out of trouble and it keeps me busy. They like jammin’ to my stuff, my mom likes the stuff.
Soleil: Who would be your dream artist to work with? You can give more than one…
Jaron: Right now, definitely Lupe Fiasco.
Soleil: Why?
Jaron: because his style of lyricism is completely different from everything else that you’re hearing.
Soleil: Anybody else?
Jaron: T.I. and Jay-Z.
Soleil: (Laughs)
Jaron: The reason for Jay-z is because, he’s Jay-z. He’s timeless!
Soleil: Yayyyyy!!! Ok, so who would be your dream producer to apprentice?
Jaron: Timbaland.
Soleil: Why?
Jaron: Because he’s been around it all. He’s worked with Missy Elliot, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake, T.I., he’s worked with everybody.
Soleil: What instruments can you play?
Jaron: I basically just play the piano.
Soleil: Can you describe your style?
Jaron: It varies, but most of the time it’s dark.
Soleil: What do you mean by dark?
Jaron: Like an ugly, like ugly face beats.
Soleil: (Laughs) OK, so give 5 adjectives that describe your style of production.
Jaron: I don’t have beats in my head like some people, I just sit down and go. Whatever happens happens. One word I can think of is complex: you hear a lot of sounds in my beats, I use a lot of different sounds, and you notice new sounds the more you listen to them.
Soleil: Cool. So, have you ever heard a beat and tried to make a beat that basically mimicked the one you heard?
Jaron: Oh man, I remade “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” in like forty five minutes. And I remade “Foolish” by Shawty Lo.
Soleil: In your opinion what skills set does a person need to be a good producer?
Jaron: Determination definitely. When I first started out I was pretty bad. But now I’m at a pretty decent level, for my age and everything. Also, they need an ear for what sounds good.
Soleil: This is all so cool. Lastly where can people hear your beats?
Jaron: www.myspace.com/bassmentbeatz The “base” part of “basement” is spelled “bass”, like the sound in music…

It’s obvious, that Jaron is passionate about his dreams, and that making music is more than just a hobby. He is not stingy when it comes to sharing his music. So after you listen to his sound on his Myspace page, ask him for a demo. It would be best to get a hold of his beats now before he becomes grammy award winning, because then, he’ll be getting paid thousands of dollars just to make one!

by Soliel Grant