Westlake Homecoming 2016


On Saturday October 8th, Westlake students cheered as they left the football field, winning their 6th game yet.

In the school week leading up to the big game, students all dressed up to show their school spirit in a collection of fun outfits. Wednesday was a day for all students and staff to showcase their American pride. On Thursday, freshman dressed up in cowboy boots and western clothes; sophomores dressed in their best tourist clothes; juniors dressed preppy and seniors battled in mathletes vs. athletes. These were just some of the fun outfits students wore to show their school spirit. Friday was the annual color day, representing each grade level, seniors taking the school color: blue. 

Amanda Rubeo, a photographer for the Westlake yearbook, took pictures during Friday afternoon’s pep rally. Rubeo exclaimed, “It was an amazing experience that captured the true heart of Westlake spirit.” Rubeo is right, for everyone at the pep rally was overjoyed to cheer on their school, fall sports teams and especially the football team.

Lauren Schneider, a Westlake junior, joyfully said, “I love Spirit Week! It makes school so fun and brings the students of all grades together.”

Westlake High School’s 2016 homecoming game and Spirit Week proved to all of the students that our school come together as a whole in order to support all fall athletes and showcase their school pride.

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The Road to the States


State semi-final title champions: that was a name that the Westlake Wildcats varsity football team hadn’t heard in years. Since 1983 to be exact.

All of that changed last year when the new head coach, John Castellano, lead the team of seniors and juniors, with select sophomore and freshman, to grab that title once again. The achievement was so grand it even lead the Mount Pleasant School District to dedicate a day to the Wildcats.

Now, one year later, the pressure is back on.

The Westlake High School football team is a part of Section 1, Class B.  The class ranks are relative to how many kids are in the school: Class A being the largest, Class B being the second and so on. The sections, on the other hand, are determined by which area the school is located in, with a total of 11 sections in New York state. At the very end of the season, when the state tournament game is played, is when each of the sections come together.

Back in November of 2015, our very own Wildcats made it to the state semi-finals, one step away from the state final held in Syracuse. It was a ground-breaking moment in the waiting for 33 years.

However, the varsity players can no longer shower in the glory of the past but only look ahead.

According to one of the team’s players, Nicholas Colabatistto, “We have a different team from last year, no doubt, but last year is in the past. We try to forget that so we can focus on this years goals.”

The Wildcats, as a team, hope to “win a consecutive section title, go farther than last year and win a state title.”

Being the second ranked football team in New York, making these dreams a reality are right at the players’ fingertips. The road to the state final is promising, but since it is still a while off, the team prepares to focus and take each individual game as it comes.

“We are just working extremely hard to play our best and go above and beyond,” Colabatistto adds.

With their, so far, six to zero undefeated streak, there is no doubt in the Westlake Wildcats varsity football team’s mind that they won’t only make it to state finals, but bring back home the gold with them.

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Cross Country 2016


With only a week and a half remaining of summer, the Cross Country team was already prepared for what was to come. With Coach Smith and team captains: Dean Riccio; Aiden Glendon; Manny Corona; and Brenda Servin leading the team, it was already decided that Fall 2016 would prove for a great season. 

The majority of the team ran over the summer, so the conditioning workouts ran smoothly; day after day  each and every one of the athletes left it all on the track. However, the Cross Country 2016 team experienced more than just workouts, scheduled meets and practices, they turn out to be a family. One that laughs and plays ultimate frisbee as a warm up, but still gets the job done.

Since the first day spent together on August 22nd, the team had more numbers than it has had in the past few years; they’re strong competitors with motivation and drive unlike any other. With a total of 25 members it is a fun and inspiring team.

Halfway through the season, the progress that has been made by the athletes is very noticeable. With wins tucked under their belts and medals stored away, the team is ready to tackle anything.

The girls team, consist of 9, are currently 5-0 in their dual meets with other schools, proving to be at their A game due to their devotion to the team. The guys team on the other hand isn’t doing too well on the winning scale, but they are proud of what they have accomplished and what they have become.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season and for the League meet that will be at Croton Park on Tuesday, October 18th, the girls team has a strong chance of taking the win, but there is still some work to be done and other opponents to defeat along the way. The guys team will do whatever damage they can do as a family, backing each other up and beating the runner ahead of them.

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2016 Primary Elections


Over 80 million people sat down to watch the first presidential debate of the 2016 election, held at Hofstra University in Long Island.

Republican candidate, Donald Trump, and Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, went head to head discussing three major topics: “America’s Direction;” “Achieving Prosperity;” and “Securing America.”

Polls suggest that the candidates were very closely matched; as of September 27th, there was only about a 2% margin between their respective poll averages.

Though Clinton seemed to be well-spoken and prepared, many of Trump’s supporters felt disappointed with his presentation. According to NBCNews, Trump’s campaign aids admit that he “did not do enough to prepare for the tedious, one-on-one environment against an experienced and well-prepared opponent.”

Despite the events that took place at this convention, tension continues to rise between the political parties, and the question of who will win the presidency remains a mystery.


Works Cited

“Trump Campaign Says Debate Two Must Be Better.” NBC News. NBCNews.com, 28 Sept. 2016. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

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Letrons: robot or vehicle?


Letvision a company based in Turkey has made real-life Transformers, or as close as possible.

The cars dubbed “Letrons” are remote-controlled cars that transform from a BMW into a functioning robot, according to the company’s website. As of September 2016, there are 4 different models of Letrons: Bizmut; Argon; W0lfram; and Tantal. The only aspects that differs them from one another is color and design of robot; they are all made from the same base car.

When the car is in its robot form, the head and neck can move 120 degrees in any direction. It also has camera integration which allows them to “perform speech and movement abilities in real time,” according to the site. The robots are also able to move their arms, wrists, and fingers, but are not yet able to move their legs. However, Letvision has said walking functionality will be added if “reasonable funding is provided for a new research and development project.”

In its car form, it has a working steering wheel, as well as security sensors in the front and rear of the car. However the car is not drivable in traffic because its remote control functionality. Letvision has also said that this might change in future models because it already has an electric motor.

Even though the cars are for sale, in order to buy one the buyer must “project and their reasons for use” in accordance to Letvision’s undefined criteria.

Works Cited:

Letrons. Letvision, 2016. http://www.letrons.com/index_eng.html. Accessed 13 Oct. 2016.

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Zika: Next Stop the United States


The Zika virus, whose total detriments to the human body are yet to be learned, has spread from Northern Argentina to Southern Florida as of July 2014.

According to Maggie Fox of NBC News, currently, the locally acquired cases of Zika have been contained to three locations within Florida: Miami Beach, Pinellas, and the Wynwood neighborhood, north of Miami.

More specifically, “To date, as many as 2,300 pregnant women have contracted the virus during their pregnancies, the officials said. And 22 babies in the United States and its territories have been born with microcephaly and other birth defects after they were exposed during gestation to Zika,” according to Healy of the LA Times.

Furthermore, experts believe that more outbreaks will occur in the Gulf Coast States, such as Texas and Louisiana, since these locations are home to the Aedes Aegyptus mosquito, Fox notes. However, it appears that as of right now the remaining states are relatively safe from local transmission since the Zika causing mosquito “usually travel no further than about 500 to 600 yards in their lifetimes;” however, Fox contiunes, “People, of course, travel much further.” People are more likely to be inflicted with the disease by traveling to the infected regions and have the possibility of bringing it back to their home states.

While much about Zika is still unknown, Congress has granted 1.1 billion dollars towards Zika research, Healy reports. She adds that much of the money will go towards studies researching the long-term effects of the virus on infants, including those with no obvious birth defects.

It is presently known that the effects of the Zika virus include: brain abnormalities, risk of stillbirths or death within 24 hours of birth.

However, since Congress was so late in providing funding, research groups are far behind where they should be in developing a vaccine, as well as a test for people who have traveled to these locations.

All that is left for citizens to do is to follow the preventive measures set by the CDC and hope that a vaccine is being created to protect women of childbearing age and men who are preparing to be fathers.

Works Cited:

Fox, Maggie. “Expect More U.S. Zika Virus Cases, Experts Say.” NBCNews. NCBNews.com, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Healy, Melissa. “With $1.1 billion in new funding, U.S. health officials outline plan for fighting Zika.” LATimes. tronc Inc., 3 Oct. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

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EpiPen Outrage


The pharmaceutical company Mylan has recently become the target of heavy criticism after allowing the price of the EpiPen to surge from $56.64 in 2007 to over $365 today, an increase of nearly 500%.

EpiPens administer epinephrine which can be used in emergencies to reverse the constricted breathing, hives, and other life-threatening symptoms resulting from severe allergic reactions. Approximately 3.6 million Americans were prescribed the life-saving allergy medication in 2015 alone.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, who has come under fire in recent weeks, defended the pricing of EpiPens in her testimony before the United States House of Representatives, stating that “recent Epipen price increases have not yielded the revenue to Mylan that many assume,” as recorded by The Washington Times. 

She continued, “I think many people incorrectly assume we make $600 off each pen. This is simply not true,” as noted in The Washington Post’s article, “Lawmakers grill Mylan CEO over EpiPen price hikes.”

The drug-making company also justified the price hike by stating that it invested over $1 billion dollars in product development. Meanwhile, experts argue that designing and manufacturing the upgraded EpiPen would not have cost nearly as much.

Additionally, politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have denounced the drug company for its actions. “There’s no reason an EpiPen, which costs Mylan just a few dollars to make, should cost families more than $600,” Senator Sanders tweeted.

Price gouging is certainly not unheard of in the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, the EpiPen outrage is reminiscent of a similar incident last year when Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, increased the price of the HIV drug Daraprim by more than 5000%. This scam elicited a similar response, with Shkreli ultimately resigning from his position as CEO after being charged with accusations of security fraud unrelated to Turing Pharmaceuticals

Shkreli weighed in on the controversial EpiPen price increase in a phone interview with NBC News, even he denounced the move, stating, “These guys are really vultures. What drives this company’s moral compass?”

Works Cited

Egan, Matt. “How EpiPen Came to Symbolize Corporate Greed.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

Howell, Tom. “Mylan CEO called before Congress, defends price hikes for lifesaving EpiPens.” The Washington Times. The Washington Times, LLC, 21 Sept. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Johnson, Carolyn. ““Lawmakers grill Mylan CEO over EpiPen price hikes.” The Washington Post. The WP Company LLC, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Popken, Ben. “Martin Shkreli Weighs in on EpiPen Scandal, Calls Drug Makers ‘Vultures’.” NBC News. NBCNews.com, 19 Aug. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

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Hard Work Pays Off


It’s 7:45 and the school day is about to start. Ms. Janet Matthews is ready to start teaching English yet another day at Westlake High School.

When Matthews started teaching, she was “learning the ropes;” but the longer she taught, the more natural it became. She knew that it was a career she wanted to continue because it was her calling.

Matthews has taught at Westlake for 30 years. Within those 30 years, she has created endless successful programs that run in the school, including English 9 Honors and Creative Writing. “I think those two programs define my character,” Matthews states.

She has made an impact on every teacher in the building, specifically her fellow English teachers. Vincent Iovane, English 11 and AP Literature teacher, states that Matthews has inspired him in every aspect of teaching: “She helped me become a better teacher and a better person.”

Lauren Muller, English 9 and Journalism teacher, states, “she is always willing and ready to learn something new. Many teachers in her position would be content with the amount of knowledge that they have acquired over the years; however, Mrs. Matthews continues to look for new experiences and ways to acquire more knowledge. She travels, takes courses, reads and then reads some more, attends conferences, all with the intention of bringing whatever she learns to her students. It is truly remarkable that every ounce of culture and knowledge she learns outside of the classroom she works into her lesson plans to make them more engaging for students. I admire that.”

Although she inspires many everyday, she is also inspired by the people around her.

Her students inspire her everyday. “Some of them still keep in touch with me,” Matthews states, and “they are so hard working.”

Students look up to Matthews more and more everyday, including one of her Creative Writing students, Jessica Kaplan.

Kaplan, from the Class of 2017, states that Matthews has “inspired [her] to become a writer by teaching [Matthews’s] Creative Writing students how writing can act as a form of expression as well as a career. Writing is art that can be for yourself or for an audience.”

Kaplan loves reading and writing. That’s why her and Matthews work so well together.

Kaplan adds that Matthews is “one of the only teachers [she’s] ever had who has challenged and pushed [her] more than [she’s] ever been pushed before. What was different about having Ms. Matthews as a teacher was that in her class it was never just about the grades. Ms. Matthews challenged her students to think differently, to step out of their comfort zones, to try new things and to achieve what they might not have thought possible.”

Without Matthews, Kaplan wouldn’t be the writer she is today. One lesson Kaplan will remember forever is “you cannot be afraid to take risks.” This is also how Matthews lives her own life.

Matthews isn’t afraid to take risks. She takes risks with her writing and the way she teaches, including dressing up and having parties, mostly with her 9H students.

In Kaplan’s eyes, Matthews is a teacher who is “challenging, brilliant, and enthusiastic.”

Muller notes Matthews’s “moxie” defines her most as a teacher. Her “passion, dedication, work ethic and endless optimism don’t hurt either,” Muller adds.

Iovane believes that Matthews’s sense of humor is most fitting to her teaching style. He adds, “How she’s willing to come into school dressed up as Beowulf shows how she wants to get students interested in what they’re reading.”

After all the years of teaching, her career is sadly coming to an end. Matthews has inspired many students and teachers throughout her career. She’s impacted many lives with her knowledge of life and literature.

“She helps students find their own love for English,” Muller states. “There is always one teacher in high school who has impacted a student’s appreciation for a subject area. In this case, she is the teacher who has aided students in finding their appreciation for English.”

Matthews will be missed at Westlake. She has done so much for the English Department and curriculum, but most notably for students. Westlake will not be the same after she leaves for new endeavors. “Her classes were always an adventure, and something different,” Kaplan states.

Matthews should be remembered for “her passion and ability to bring English to life,” Muller says.

Kaplan states that Matthews should be remembered for “being an incredible teacher. She should be remembered for changing the way her students think, for challenging [them] to achieve things [they] never thought possible, and for inspiring her students to overall be better writers and people.”

Matthews notes that what she’ll miss most is “definitely the students and my wonderful work family, especially my close friends and supportive colleagues in the English Department.  I have at least four boxes of letters and cards I have saved from my students; their notes continue to be a source of warmth and inspiration.”

Matthews “lives every moment to its fullest” and doesn’t want her teaching career to end. After she officially retires, she hopes to travel the world and visit the continents she hasn’t visited yet. She will be traveling to Croatia, and in 2017, she will be taking on Antarctica.

“I hope to read every back issue of the Smithsonian and The New Yorker that is on my coffee table; improve my forehand in tennis; master my yogic breathing; spend more time with my family; find the right color streak for my hair; continue my volunteer work; write, write, and write more; and welcome any adventure that comes my way!”

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Growing up in the “Boogie-down Bronx”


Adriana Aloia, Foreign Language teacher at Westlake High School, lived in the South Bronx from birth up until the age of 24; despite the trivial conditions living in one of the five boroughs of New York, she was able to reach high standards and gain many academic achievements.

Aloia, at the age of five, moved from Morris Avenue to Arthur Avenue and had “…only spoken Italian…up until first grade.” This was due to the rich Italian culture within Arthur Avenue. Aloia explains this area as “a little Italy in the Bronx…everyone in the neighborhood spoke Italian as well as my relatives.”  Although Aloia did not speak much English before she started school, she still managed to do her best.

“I am the product of public school education all the way,” Aloia says, and mentions that attending school was rough because of the racial strikes in the late 60s and early 70s. Also, growing up in the Bronx “you kind of had to toughen up and be assertive in most ways.”

Despite this, Aloia recalls that her teachers nonetheless “were very hardworking and pushed us to work to the best of our ability.” Thanks to her positive influences, she developed a very strong work ethic and valued her education, earning her way to the title of “a super achiever… always in the honors classes.”

Aloia has demonstrated her capability to exceed average expectations all throughout her life based on the environment she was exposed to at a very young age. Aloia says, “I grew up always living around immigrant families… I observed them always working hard, even when they were home they were supposed to be relaxing, but they’d be working in the garden, cooking, or cleaning… it seemed like they never stopped.”

Her dedication to hard work is clearly noted in her personality as Claudia Papazian, Aloia’s colleague and friend of 23 years, states that when she first met Aloia, she thought of her as the “consummate professional.” Papazian also mentions that for as long as she has known Aloia, Aloia has always proven to “not only go above and beyond, but go way way beyond…she is somebody who has a work ethic that is unmatched.”

Aloia has noted that her greatest academic achievements were only possible through all of the time and effort she has put into building her career. Aloia was the first one to receive a college education in her family. Her involvement in many academic foreign language communities has earned her the title of “President of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica for the past four years,” an honor society for high school students enrolled in Spanish.

Ironically, Aloia never planned to become a teacher; when she was younger, she actually wanted to become a stewardess thanks to her love of traveling the world. Instead, Aloia has granted the countless amount of students she has taught with the gift of travel through learning different cultures associated with the languages she has taught.

Aloia says, “I never would have thought I would have accomplished what I did in my career as a teacher.”  

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Goodbye, Mr. Ferguson


Mr. Ferguson, Westlake High School Assistant Principal, will retire after 14 years at Westlake and 21 years in total of dedication to learning and bettering students’ lives.

Ferguson is planning to retire at the end of the 2016 school year and expresses that he will certainly miss the atmosphere here, at Westlake. Ferguson says that what he will miss the most about working here is “ the interaction with you guys,” referencing his close, personal relationship with the students and “the interaction that I have with the faculty.”

Teachers new and old, English teacher Mr. D’Ippolito and Physical Education teacher Mrs. Groat, express that they will both miss the security and sense of safety that Mr. Ferguson brings to Westlake.

Mr. D’Ippolito said how he appreciates when Ferguson, “stops by to check in on the classrooms” and how “on the first day of school he came up to my classroom just to ensure that everything was okay.”

He adds, “Ferguson is supportive of kids and supportive of teachers,” two essential qualities of an assistant principal.

Mrs. Groat captures Ferguson’s best qualities as kind, caring, and really dedicated to doing what he thinks is right for kids here. Groat also says what she’ll miss most about Ferguson is “his availability and just knowing someone so well.”

Faculty and students alike believe that when Ferguson leaves this coming summer, Westlake will always remember his presence.

The qualities Mr. Ferguson wants to be recognized for most when he leaves Westlake are: “as someone who was always there, helpful, upbeat and positive; I guess I’d like to be remembered as the guy who helped out a student, the guy that helped me out of a jam one time.”

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