Roots & Shoots Spruces Up J-D

Brooke Taylor, Emaline Mason, and Yasmine Powers

Staff Writers

Have you ever heard of a club completely dedicated to improving campus life by environmental improvement and beautification? Well, if you’ve heard of Roots and Shoots, then you have. Roots and Shoots is a national organization that focuses on making environmental improvements at both high schools and colleges, said club adviser Jim Tuck.  The club was started seven years ago, and has been on and off through the years. Mr. Tuck only took over advising the club three years ago. Last October, the four current club officers: seniors Amanda Hamernik, Cameron Howe, Jeremy Wells and Eileen Tan approached Tuck seeking to plant a vegetable garden by the school. The officers implemented the garden on their own last April and have been taking care of it since.

Over the summer the four club officers maintained the garden. “We would come up to the high school every other day, during the summer and water the garden, and weed it out,” said Tan, the club’s president. The garden is located just outside the vice principals’ offices and can be seen from Spanish teachers Simone Pacilio’s and Henry Cline’s classrooms. Everything grown in the garden is fully organic.  The vegetables they grew over the summer were harvested three weeks ago,  and they gave the harvest to the cafeteria. In the garden, the officers grew assorted peppers, carrots, and spinach. The cafeteria staff incorporated the summer vegetables into one batch of soup, and only had a few pieces left over to put into a salad. Although the garden has only been functioning for a short time, people have tasted a positive difference from that first usage of the produce. “I definitely saw an improvement in the taste of the soup,” said Tuck, who has eaten the cafeteria food for his entire time at J-DHS.

Rita Vedsted, district manager of the cafeterias for 17 years, was quite pleased with the turnout of using the clubs’ vegetables in the school’s soup. “I made a really nice soup with all the fresh veggies, and it was a hit. The spinach they gave us was actually better than what I buy at the store. You could taste the freshness.” said Vedsted.

The cafeteria only received one batch of vegetables, so it won’t affect the budget of the cafeteria. Hamernik, the club treasurer, has very clear goals for the club. “We wanted to bring some form of fresh, good food without GMOs and pesticides into the school, and also other places if we can bring it to them, like food pantries,” said Hamernick.  

Though the harvest was successful, the club faced some struggles. “We need to make sure none of the roots of plants are attacking other plants’ roots, trying to kill them off.  Which, we had a bit of an issue with, with the lettuce, because it didn't grow that well, but other than that all of our other plants are growing pretty good,” said Hamernick. Another issue was that the garden had few people to maintain it. “The maintenance was only kept up by a couple people,” said Tan.  Fortunately, the garden only faced one incident with an animal. “There was only one pepper that got eaten by a deer, but besides that [the garden] was secluded enough so that we didn’t have a huge animal problem,” said Tan.

With winter on its way, many of the vegetables will die because it is an outdoor garden. However, not all hope is lost. “Some plants are meant to be grown during the winter time, and they come in the spring, we might grow them over the winter. But still, winter is definitely our hardest season,” said Hamernick.

Originally the Roots and Shoots members wanted to donate the fresh vegetables to the Food Bank. Although that didn’t happen with the first batch, they plan to donate parts of the crop after they expand the garden.

Despite providing enough vegetables for the school’s soup, the garden itself is only 4 feet by 8 feet. This year they’re looking to expand the garden and gain new members. “We’re trying to get (Principal Paul) Gasparini to expand the garden for years to come,” said Cameron Howe, vice president of the club. This is the garden’s first year of producing vegetables and the club officers are looking to continue growing produce in the garden. Trying to gain new members that are underclassmen has proven to be a struggle.  All of the club’s members are seniors and they’re looking for students to overtake the club after they graduate, and maintain the garden. They meet every Thursday and Friday during Activity Period in R07. “Please let us know if you’re interested because this is our biggest concern; who will maintain it after we graduate.” said Hamernick.


SPARK trip to NYC

Mara Durkin, Meghan Evans, and Zoe Potamianos

Staff Writers       



For the first time in three years the Jamesville-DeWitt High School musical group Spark went on an overnight trip to New York City from Sept. 20- Sept. 21. Spark adviser Beth Quackenbush put together a brief trip for her students so they could work with Broadway stars on Broadway and so take their performances to the next level.

There is a lot to do in the city, and the 30 Spark musicians took advantage of that to have as much fun as possible while still performing and working hard. Students had dinner the night they arrived, then saw the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. They worked in the studio the next day with performer Travis Ward-Osborn from Miss Saigon to improve their performance. After that, they explored the city.

Senior Nick Kuci enjoyed the musical; “it was amazing. It was probably one of the most visually appealing shows I’ve ever seen, which had an actual helicopter in the show.” The chorus officers, junior Hayley Quackenbush, senior Markos Petkopoulos, sophomore Alex Yoo, senior Catherine Cargian, junior Sam Burton, and senior Jeremy Wells picked the show Miss Saigon because they knew it was an emotional show and it had really good reviews. All of the students enjoyed not only the show, but the city in general. “It was really fun. We learned a lot and the show was a great experience,” said senior Kellen Mulvihill.

Mrs. Quackenbush used to bring her students every October to New York City but recently stopped doing it. She decided to do it again this year so the Spark musicians could work on Broadway with Broadway stars. “It just takes us to the next level,” said Mrs. Quackenbush. She also thinks it’s important to take a group of kids who need to perform together on a trip because they get to “spend time and bond together as a group.” Sophomore Pranathi Adhikari also agrees with Mrs. Quackenbush.  “It was really fun because we all bonded and we also got to work on our music so it made us a better group and our performances are going to be better now,” said Adhikari.


J-D Gets Spooky for Halloween

Momo LaClair and Paige Stepanian

Staff Writers

Now that the fall season has arrived, the students of Jamesville-DeWitt High School are in the Halloween spirit. From pumpkin carving to apple picking, they want to do it all. With Halloween only a couple weeks away, the students and staff are counting down the days until the spookiest night of the year.

For many, a favorite attraction during the Halloween season is Fright Night at the Fair.

Freshman Nora Prosak visited the popular event for the first time this year. “It was pretty fun, it was a new experience,” says Prosak. After traveling through three different haunted houses at the fairgrounds, Prosak said the clown-themed one was her favorite. Freshman Courtney Keough also took a trip to the Fright Night attraction. “It was really realistic. I was holding onto the person in front of me the whole time, choking them because I was so scared,” says Keough.  

Although many J-D students enjoy the spooky set up at Fright Night, some have traveled even farther to experience more terrifying haunted houses. Freshman twin sisters Olivia and Audrey Norden both have a love for haunted houses, and traveled to one in Pennsylvania this past season. Filled with hayrides, black outs, and a haunted carnival, the trip to the house was “weirdly eerie,” says Olivia Norden. “It was very very scary. They could touch you and take you and put you into cages. Fright Night couldn’t compare!” said Olivia Norden.

Several students have been taking part in fall activities outside of school, like apple picking, pumpkin carving, and baking fall desserts. “I like to do corn mazes (because) I think those are cool,” says senior Lexi Gambacorto.  For seniors like Gambacorto, finding the perfect costume for the annual Halloween Parade at school is a big deal as well. “I’m so excited, since my freshmen year it’s always been a big thing,” says senior Paige Petrell. The underclassmen are also very excited for the parade. “I can’t wait, It’s always really funny and I like to see the costumes,” says sophomore Christof Deboni.

Many are unsatisfied with the fact that Halloween is on a Tuesday this year. Since it is on a school night, some students are worried they won’t be able to stay out late due to homework and having to get up early in the morning. “It’s sad (because) I don’t feel like many people go trick or treating unless it’s on a weekend,” says junior Mark Davis. “I’m kinda excited, but kinda sad that it’s on a Tuesday this year (since) it’s a little harder to make plans,” says sophomore Andrea Sumida. However, senior Caelen Constantino says she is “so excited” for Halloween. “I’m still going to love it and it will probably still be the best day of my life,” she says.     

The students aren’t the only ones that are excited for Halloween at J-DHS. Coach Jeff Ike is very excited for the fun-filled holiday. “(I) love Halloween. It’s awesome,” says Coach Ike. This year for Halloween, he will be following his daughter around going trick or treating. Even though he’s usually not home, he always makes sure to leave out candy for trick or treaters.  Coach Walter Dodge is also gearing up for the uncanny night as well. “I have a costume in my mind that I’m working on already,” says Coach Dodge.

Red Ram Color Run

Ali Durkin and Mia Potamianos

Assistant Producers


As the autumn leaves turn bright red and orange, add a splash of even more color into your fall at this year’s second annual Red Ram Color Run on Oct. 29 at Jamesville DeWitt High School. This run consists of a 5k course around the J-DHS campus and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as a one mile walk through a wooded trail. Along with the scenic courses, this run gives runners the opportunity to be sprinkled in multicolored powder making the experience more lively.

You can sign up for this run at or you can register on the day of the event beginning at 7:30 a.m. The run that begins at 9 a.m. with all the proceeds going to the JD Booster Program and the Girls Varsity Lacrosse team. If running isn’t your cup of tea, there are also opportunities to volunteer by directing traffic, holding signs, handing out water, and throwing powder at the runners.


Senior Advice

Katie Tzivanis and Mariyana Van Arsdale

Staff Writers

After four years of Regents tests, Common Core, and late nights studying, the seniors are finally getting ready to graduate. This time has allowed seniors to contemplate what they should have done differently during their time at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, and the situations and classes we wish we had been given advice on.  

Whether it be advice on studying or procrastination, our seniors have the experience to preach on it. “I wish I had known some of these things when I was a freshman, it would have saved me a lot of time and energy,” said senior Cynthia Henchen.

If there is one thing all seniors can agree upon, it’s sleep. “If there is one thing I needed more of these last few years, it’s sleep,” said senior Gabrielle Tanksley. Getting a good amount of sleep is all about time management.

To those students who question whether all of this is worth it, senior Jake Harron has some advice, “Challenge yourself in different fields to find what your true passion is. You have to come to school anyways, you might as well take advantage of it,” said Harron. The students who end up finding their passions early on are the ones who take a wide variety of classes and actually indulge themselves.

“If I never took EDD, I would never have found my love for engineering, now, 3 years later I’m going to Syracuse University to major in civil engineering,” said senior Nate Fathers. Nathan Fathers is a perfect example of someone who took advantage of J-DHS’s course offerings and ended up finding his passion.

Each senior has dealt with this at one time or another, it’s the big bad disease that everyone falls victim to: procrastination. “Do your homework and especially try to do it the day it’s assigned, procrastination will get you nowhere,” said senior Adobea Addo. The pressure of a due date, if time is managed well and homework is done the day it’s assigned, can largely decrease.

As these seniors head off to graduate, they left a little wisdom for all the underclassmen. They should use it wisely, for before they know it they’ll be graduating too.

Test Taking Advice

Sofie Brutseart and Lucy Falso

Staff Writers

With AP, Regents and final exams looming, many students are beginning the process of studying in order to do as well on the tests as possible. Teachers, counselors and older students all have their own advice for underclassmen studying for the tests.

“Breathe deeply, get a lot of rest,” said guidance counselor Will Hartley. He says students should be getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Although this is not always realistic on an average school night, it is extra important the day before a big test and in the months leading up to them.


Junior Alice Woods says the first thing she does when beginning to study is to buy review books for the subjects that have them. “For a normal test I always read through all my notes in one sitting. If it’s for AP I buy a review book,” said Woods. Review books for Regents exams will soon be available to buy in the Jamesville-DeWitt High School school store, open Mondays and Wednesdays. Review books for other subjects are also available to purchase at most book stores, including Barnes and Noble. One of the most important things to do when starting to study is to give yourself plenty of time to start, so get those review books soon!


The methods of studying that work differ for most people but there are some helpful tips to get started. When working to memorize information, English teacher Terri Eaton says repetition really helps. “Say it out loud over and over. Read it, write it, say it, do it more than one way,” said Mrs. Eaton. It also can help to make personal memory devices such as acronyms or even songs or sayings. Sophomore Matt Scibilia says he also likes to make quizlets to study with. When it comes to studying for essays and short answer responses on a test, it’s important to know the format, the types of questions generally asked, and the type of responses the test makers are looking for. Mr. Hartley also recommends that students do finger exercises to prepare yourself for a long period of writing.


With most students taking exams on several different subjects, it can be difficult to manage studying for all of them. “Prioritize what the most important exams are,” said Mr. Hartley. Woods says she usually spends a couple hours a night studying each subject. “I usually go with the hardest class first,” said Scibilia. “Do chunks of it each night,” said Mrs. Eaton. “Don’t try to do like, all math one night and all something else another night. Break it up.”


The night before a test students should get a good night's sleep. In the morning, a good breakfast is important. “Drink a cup of black coffee and maybe have a couple of eggs and some wheat toast,” said Mr. Hartley.

During exam week, it’s natural for students to be stressed or nervous about their performance. According to Mr. Hartley, some good methods for relieving stress are taking walks and listening to music. He also reminds kids to put things in perspective.  “It’s not going to matter in 5 years, none of it,” said Mr. Hartley. “Just do your best,” said Mrs. Eaton. JD RamPage wishes the best of luck to students taking exams in the coming months!

New Movies Hit the Big Screen

Sofie Brutseart and Lucy Falso

Staff Writers

Disney’s newest installment in their live-action remake series, “Beauty and the Beast,” premiered on March 16. Jamesville-DeWitt High School students went to theaters to see Emma Watson star as Belle in the classic Disney movie.

Most students were impressed by how good the remake was. “It was magical,” said sophomore Sawyer Parker. In fact, some students say that the remake is better than the original. Sophomore Shannon Beaudry said the CGI was impressive; “They really brought it to life.” Sophomore Grace McGuire prefered the use of real actors over animated characters because “it felt like you were more into the movie.”

Most who saw the movie had very little criticism to offer. “They auto-tuned a lot of the songs and I didn’t think it was really necessary,” said freshman Emma DeForest. “The voices just sounded a little fake,” said junior Elijah Theus. Beaudry wanted a little extra epilogue. “Did they get married? Did they have kids?” said Beaudry. “Otherwise I was satisfied.”

Students were eager to share their favorite parts from the film. “I liked the library scene the best because it was so cute,” said sophomore Piper Markowski. Many were also impressed by the opening scene and musical number “Belle.” It introduces the audience to the show, and students thought it was very well done. In addition to the songs that are well known from the original film, and the Broadway adaptation, the film added two new songs to the “Beauty and the Beast soundtrack.” One song in particular stood out to students: “Evermore,” sang by Dan Stevens who played the Beast.

Many students enjoyed seeing Emma Watson and thought that she did the best job of portraying her character.  “Emma Watson did really well as Belle,” said freshman Katie Sizing. “I love Emma Watson,” said Constantino, “She has a beautiful singing voice.” Freshman Teddy Mulvihill also liked Emma Watson but “was disappointed with the actor who played the Beast.”

While “Beauty and the Beast” received great reviews, some people are skeptical about the next remake in the live-action series, “The Little Mermaid,” which will not be produced by Disney. “I saw the trailer, it’s nothing like the story,” said Beaudry, “I’m not excited for it.” “Two thumbs down,” said Parker. Although “Little Mermaid” remake is not being met with high expectations, many are hoping for other classic Disney films to get a remake. Both DeForest and freshmen Sophie Pro and Alex Yoo would like to see a “Mulan” remake.

Charity Basketball Event Succeeds

Scottie O'Bryan

Staff Writer

On March 3, the Jamesville-DeWitt High School staff faced off against Niko Tamurian and the CNY Central crew in J-DHS’s Main Gymnasium. The friendly game of basketball was all in the name of charity, and though the Red Rams staff dominated the court and won the game, the real winners of the night were the two charities who received all of the night's’ proceeds: The Shamrock Animal Fund and the Central New York Autism Society.

There were many activities that night to raise money for the causes, including a 3-point shot contest, a 50/50 raffle, and a half court shot contest. The proceeds of the basketball game were divided in half among the two charities, each of which were chosen by both of the teams.

CNY Central’s portion went to the Shamrock Animal Fund, a group which helps Syracuse and Central New York pet owners that have financial limitations pay for veterinary care for their animal companions.

J-DHS selected the CNY Autism Society, an organization which is dedicated to providing services and support for people with autism, in honor of Shawna Marzella, a beloved J-D booster-club leader and teaching assistant who passed away from a heart attack in December. CNY Autism Society is also working to educate families and communities about autism awareness in efforts to make the lives of those affected by it easier.

The game itself was very entertaining. Teachers traded their ties and lap tops for jerseys and play books while Niko Tamurian, who typically is reporting on the biggest sports news in the CNY area, was trying to make the highlight reel himself along with his news crew.

J-DHS students came out in big numbers to support the event. Senior Matt Cappelletti said the game was “definitely a success.” “It was a really good time. My friends and I all went out to watch our favorite teachers play a game of basketball, and it ended up being a good game,” says Cappelletti. Junior Buddy Boeheim said it was cool to watch his varsity basketball coaches, head coach Jeff Ike and assistant coach John Barlow, playing on the court; a role reversal of sorts. “Coach Ike and Barlow were putting in the the work. I could definitely give them some pointers, though,” said Boeheim with a laugh. Junior Luke Smith, who also was a player on this year’s J-DHS varsity basketball team, enjoyed the game as well. “It was a great atmosphere and I think everyone had a lot of fun,” says Smith. “All the teachers played really well...something like that should definitely happen again in the future,” says Smith.

Junior John Bridge agrees with Smith; “the charity basketball game was a really good idea (because) it brought the J-D school and community together for a great cause.”

Those looking for further information on the Shamrock Animal Fund and CNY Autism Society, or those interested in donating or volunteering opportunities, should visit their website links below.

Students Plan for February Break

Nick Mannion and Steven Baker

Staff Writers

February break is just around the corner and Jamesville-DeWitt High School students can’t wait set down their backpacks for a week. February break starts on Feb. 18 and ends  Feb. 26. It will have been 34 school days from the end of Holiday break to the start of February break, but to senior Matt Paul it feels like it has been “a year” since the school’s last break. “I can’t wait for February break,” said freshman Luke Hobika.

Many students have plans for February break. “I plan on chilling, and hanging out with my friends over break,“ said junior Carlena Torrens. Sophomore Eric Benaroch agreed with Torrens. “I’m looking forward to chilling with my friends, and staying home,” said Benaroch.

Students at J-D are going to a variety of places for vacation over break. Sophomores Bobby Galusha and Marc Baum and junior Sydney Baum are going to Aruba together with their families over break. All three said that they can’t wait for February break. Sophomore Jordan Archer is going to Cancun, Mexico with her family. “I’m going to enjoy the warm weather over break,” said Archer.

Fun can be had in Syracuse over break. One event students are looking forward to is the Syracuse Men’s Basketball game against the Duke Blue Devils. The Syracuse Men’s Basketball team plays the Duke Blue Devils on Feb. 22. “The Duke vs Syracuse games are always awesome. I remember when they first played in the dome and we won in Overtime,” said junior Anthony Ciccone. “The Orange are 16-11 and this game against Duke is a must win if they wish to keep their tourney hopes alive,” said senior Josh Kowalczyk.

Many students at J-D are also participating in the annual week long trip to El Salvador. On this trip students will be given the chance to help out various communities in El Salvador. Senior Matt Cappelletti, who is going to El Salvador for his second time, says that the trip is really fun, and an “amazing” experience. Juniors and seniors are eligible to go on this trip, along with sophomore Tanner Gunn, who goes with his family. In total 90 students and leaders from Syracuse will be going on this trip; J-DHS students will be accompanied by students from Christian Brother’s Academy, Fayetteville Manlius, and Cazenovia. This trip is organized by Holy Cross Church and Young Life.

On the trip students will be playing with the local children, helping run clinics and doing a lot of manual labor, like digging wells and building schools. “Last year we cleared a field for irrigation, it will be cool to see what we do this year,” said sophomore Tanner Gunn. Junior Kelsey Braun is going to El Salvador for her first time this year. Braun says she is “scared” and “doesn't know what to expect.”

J-DHS English Takes on Playwriting Festival

Sofie Brutseart and Lucy Falso

Staff Writers

Jamesville-DeWitt High school students in several English classes and electives wrote their own 10-minute plays, which they submitted to the Syracuse Stage Young Playwrights Festival. Winners will get the chance to see their plays performed live.

High school students throughout Central New York were given the chance to participate. All plays are due February 14, Valentine's Day, and semi-finalists will have the opportunity to attend a workshop at Syracuse Stage to discuss and critique their plays. Seven finalists will also get to see their plays performed by Syracuse University drama students, in a festival. “It’s pretty cool that they get to see them come to fruition on stage,” said English teacher Courtney Romeiser who had several of her sections enter. In addition, Ms. Romeiser says every kid who participates gets a t-shirt.

Students in creative writing, AP Language and some 10 honors English classes were required to join the contest and were all given around three class periods as well as time outside of class to complete the assignment. This sparked mixed reactions.“I think it was one of the dumbest assignments he has given, especially because we got no instruction and had to do it all on our own,” said sophomore Emma Galletta. “It did not better my knowledge of the English language at all,” she said. Sophomore Eden Shiomos also did not enjoy the assignment.“It was kind of hard because we had to get to around eight to 10 pages,” said Shiomos.

However, some enjoyed the break from routine. “I liked it because it was directed less towards the AP (test), and more about having fun,” said junior Alisa Salbert who wrote her play about a murderous child. “I’ve never done anything like this before but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said freshman Abby Morgan who is writing her play about a detective who is solving a case, for her creative writing class.

“It’s pretty open with topics. They can pick anything they want to,” said Ms. Romeiser. Although participants are limited to 10 pages of script, and only four characters, they are free to write about whatever topics they choose. “Some of the stuff can get pretty edgy,” said English teacher Matt Phillips. Students also have leeway with the format they choose to write in. For example, students can choose to write monologues, or short poems. “There’s always really zany fantastical stuff,” said Mr. Phillips. “We had a girl who a number of years ago did an entire play in Dr. Seuss style rhymes. We had a monologue where a girl was breaking up with her shoes.”

Teachers in the English department have had students participating in this contest the last seven or eight years, and Mr. Phillips says he has had award winners every year. The contestants who made semi-finals should be announced about a month after Valentine’s Day, however Mr. Phillips expects there will be winners this year as well.

The Academy Awards: What You Need to Know

Tracey Edson and Katie Cappelletti

Staff Writers

The spotlight will be on all of the nominees that will walking down the runway at the Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the leading roles in the film “La La Land,” are just two of the many nominees for this year’s award ceremony.

There are nine films that are nominated for the Best Picture Award: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea,” and “Moonlight.”

Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s Reading Films teacher, Joe Goldberg, has seen six of the nine films that are nominated for Best Picture. Of the six Goldberg has seen, he thinks that “Fences” was the best. Mr. Goldberg has yet to see “La La Land,” but thinks it will be a “very strong contender,” for the Best Picture. However, computer TA Hayley Nies did see “La La Land” and liked it.“I like musicals so I liked that part of it. I thought it was kind of all over the place,” said Ms. Nies.

Most of the nominees for Best Actor and one nominee for Best Actress are leads in the Best Picture Films. One of the exceptions is Viggo Mortensen, who stared in “Captain Fantastic,” which isn’t nominated for Best Picture. Four of the five leading actress nominees didn’t have their film nominated for Best Picture. These include: Isabelle Huppert for “Elle,” Ruth Negga for “Loving,” Natalie Portman for “Jackie,” and Meryl Streep for “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Emma Stone was the only one who’s film, “La La Land,” was nominated.

English teacher Joe DeChick, was a film critic before coming to J-DHS and part of his job was to watch the Oscars. “I think these are five really fine actors and some have been nominated before. If you take all the films and all the performances and you boil it all down to five nominees, they’re all going to be good,” said DeChick about the nominee’s for Actor in Leading Role.

There are many people around the world who will be watching these award presentations on ABC, including students and teachers at J-D as they hope their favorite films, actors, and actresses win an award. Freshman Riley LaTray liked “Hidden Figures,” and hopes it will win the Best Picture award. “In Hidden Figures I really liked how the women stepped up into their roles of being brilliant minds at NASA,” said LaTray.

If you are interested in learning more about the Oscar Awards, including other categories of awards go to

GamePigeon Takes iMessage by Storm

Alex Pomeroy, Connor Ball, and Sofie Brutsaert

Staff Writers

Since Sept. 13, 2016, students at Jamesville-Dewitt High School have devoted their free time to GamePigeon, a new IOS 10 iMessage feature.

“It’s spectacular,” said freshman Joe Staples.

After it’s release, the app quickly caught on. The majority of students found out about the app from close friends and continuous game requests. Freshman Pranathi Adhikari says all her friends were playing it. Sophomore Shannon Beaudry said she was curious about the icon that appeared and decided to give it a shot. “The update came and I was like ‘what’s this sign on my keyboard,’ and then I started to figure it out and… GamePigeon.” said Beaudry.

Many students play during school during their lunch periods or free time throughout the day. Games begin with a game request through iMessage. Then the players play back and forth in turns, and each player has as long as they want to respond. Depending on the game and the skill of the players, the number of turns can be many or very few. “It can take anywhere from an hour to a week (to play a game) depending on how long the person takes to respond,” said senior Mannish Duggal. Junior Michael Anderson says he usually plays after school when all of his homework is completed.

Most students agree that the best game available on the app is 8 Ball. In total, 33 out of 44 students said it was their favorite. “It really makes me think about how to use trajectory to get the ball in the hole,” said senior Haley White. According to junior Kelsey Braun it can be difficult to play, as many of the app’s games represent real world games, like 8 Ball and pool, giving them a different feeling from their real world counterparts.


Poetry Out Loud

By Mia Potamianos and Jenna Vespi

Poetry Out Loud is a comepition that strives to “encourage students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation,” according to their website. Students who want to participate at Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s school level are asked to select two poems from the Poetry Out Loud website to memorize and perform. From there, English teacher Matt Philips and his pannel of judges, comprised of J-DHS teachers, select two top students to move on to the regional level.

This is the 12th year the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation has partnered with the New York State Council of the Arts to put on the Poetry Out Loud 2017 Competition in New York. This is also the fifth year English teacher Matthew Phillips has organized the contest at J-DHS. On Jan. 5, five J-DHS students partook at the school level. Sophomore Sofia Liaw and junior Rebecca Teitelbaum earned first and second place, and will perform at Regionals at 6 p.m. on Feb. 10, at Onondaga Community College.

All of the students who participated had different backgrounds and reasons for their participation. “My sister [senior Melissa Gao] did it last year and it sounded like a fun event,” said sophomore Alan Gao. Teitelbaum, who won second place, approached Poetry Out Loud with a Shakespearean background. “I did the Shakespeare [monologue] competition last year and this was in my mind as a sort of continuation in the same spirit of things.” Liaw, who won first place, said she’s “enjoyed reading and writing poetry since sixth grade and recently became interested in the world of spoken world. Competing in Poetry Out Loud seemed like an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.”   

An element of the competition that caused anxiety for some was choosing which poems to recite from the Poetry Out Loud print or online anthology. “I tend to dislike older poetry, at least for the purpose of performance, because the archaic words don’t fit naturally in my mouth and the word order throws me off sometimes. So I just searched through websites until I found two I felt like I would have written, in terms of subject matter or word choice,” said Liaw. On the other hand, Teitelbaum’s method relied on luck. “I just went on the website and hit random until I found two that I liked.” Another component of the competition is that the order of the poems has to be determined beforehand. Sophomore Jo Womack used this to her advantage; “I picked two I already knew that would work well against each other.”

On the day of the competition, many participants were nervous. For Teitelbaum, “the nerves settled down after chatting with everyone.” Both she and Liaw knew each other from last year’s drama show were happy to see a friendly face. Liaw was more worried; “when we were waiting to be called, my heart must have been pounding at 120 beats per minute.” She ended up being first for both rounds of competition.

Whoever thinks Poetry Out Loud relies solely on having the poem memorized and being able to use expression would be wrong, at least as far as Teitelbaum is concerned. Her second poem, “Mirror,” by James Merrill was 44 lines long, and she performed it twice. During the middle of her recitation, the sounds of clapping and cheering could be heard from the library. “I had to sort of stop myself from laughing just out of distraction mostly,” Teitelbaum admitted. After this Teitelbaum had a few other distractions as well, but she kept going. “I was already in the zone, and I just tried to keep focus on the poem lines and try not to pay attention,” said Teitelbaum. The judges offered to allow Teitelbaum to recite the poem sans interruption this time, and she opted to do so.

Ultimately, all of the participants agreed that Poetry Out Loud was a wonderful experience and would consider doing it next year. For Regionals, Teitelbaum and Liaw are required to recite three poems at OCC.


Dance Your Way to the J-DHS Musical!

Lucy Falso and Abby Palin

Staff Writers

“Footloose” is coming to Jamesville-DeWitt High School with a modern spin on Feb. 9, 10, and 11.  This version is more in line with the 2011 remake, rather than the classic movie with Kevin Bacon, which came out in 1984.  Tickets are available for $12 per person.  They can be obtained at and in The Auditorium Lobby on Jan. 14, 18, 28, and Feb. 2.  Tickets will also be sold during lunches as the show gets closer.

The students of J-DHS are performing the musical, “Footloose,” for the second time since 2005.  The production staff of music director Elizabeth Quackenbush, director Shawn Forster, and producer Brenda Neuss are all working together to make sure that the performance runs smoothly.   

For the first time the production doesn’t have a paid choreographer and two students were asked to help.   Instead, the director Shawn Forster, is working with two experienced dancers, senior Jamie Rieger and junior Jenna Vespi. Mr. Forster finds dances online from different productions of “Footloose” and shows the steps to Vespi and Rieger. Vespi and Rieger are in charge of teaching the entire choreography to the cast.

Senior Kristina Bell is the star, Ariel in the J-DHS production and is excited to play the part.  “It has some deeper themes,” said Bell, “but also some funny, light-hearted scenes as well.”  Bell is most eager to thank her parents on opening night for being there for her throughout her four years of J-DHS productions.

Junior Colin Palladino is playing the lead character of Wren.  Originally, the part was supposed to be played by senior Nathan Fathers, but due to mono, he had to drop out of the musical because he was missing too many practices.  Palladino had to quickly learn the part due to the unexpected switch in characters.  He likes all of the dancing that is incorporated, but is very nervous about being able to learn all of his lines in time for the show.  “I think the most stressful part is being up on stage in front of all of my friends,” said Palladino.    

Mrs. Quackenbush chose “Footloose” because she thought it would be fun and upbeat for the kids and there would be a lot of opportunities to have the students involved.  She is enjoying the process of getting the musical to where it needs to be for opening night.  “I like those rehearsals when we get to review what we’ve already done,” said Mrs. Quackenbush, “but we get to go in and clean it and take it all apart and put it back together.”

Tickets for the musical can be purchased on the following website:


New Movie Reviews from J-D Students

Steven Baker and Nick Mannion

Staff Writers

Caution*****:These reviews may contain spoilers

The months of December and January have been very productive for the film industry. One movie that people have been raving about is “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. This movie is apart of one of the most popular movie series of all time: “Star Wars.” “This is one of my favorite ‘Star Wars’ movies,” said junior Markos Pektopolous. Besides “Rogue One” there have been many other movies that have come out, including “Why Him?”

In a not so long time ago, in a movie theater that is not that far away, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” premiered. This blockbuster has been a very anticipated movie,  “I was looking forward to seeing ‘Rogue One’ for a very long time, (and) I enjoyed it,” said junior Anthony Ciccone. “Rogue One” is a little different than the other films in the “Star Wars” saga because it takes place in between two movies, “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Episode IV: A New Hope”. Having “Rogue One” be a prequel to the original movies sparked some people's interest, including sophomore Pat Murad. “I really liked the timing of the movie, it helped keep the plot interesting,” said Murad.

This new entry to the “Star Wars” saga features an all new cast and characters, with a few exceptions. They brought back James Earl Jones to voice the iconic movie character Darth Vader.  “I loved how they brought him back he has a very intimidating voice, that is perfect for Darth Vader,” said sophomore Haleigh Summers. Some people enjoyed the new cast including junior Corey Rinaldi; “I like the new characters including the blind guy (Chirrut Imwe played by Donnie Yen).”

With every “Star Wars” movie there are surprises, plot twists, and absolutely unexpected scenes, and Rogue One definitely delivered on this. Many people were surprised with Rogue One ending with essentially all the main characters in the movie dying. “I thought it was a little ridiculous that by the end of the movie essentially all the main characters were killed off. I knew that the this was a prequel movie but, I didn’t think it was necessary for them all to die,” said sophomore Ben Wright.      

Along with “Rogue One” many new movies premeired in December. One new movie students at Jamesville-DeWitt High School have been raving about is “Why Him?”, staring James Franco and Brian Cranston. This movie is about a father (Brian Cranston) that is visiting his daughter (Zoey Deutch) at Stanford University. While there, he meets his daughter’s wild billionaire boyfriend (James Franco). The father, Ned disapproves of the boyfriend, Laird’s free spirited, crazy ways, and becomes even more concerned when he finds out Laird plans to ask his daughter to marry him. “This is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time,” said senior Mikey Yonta, “James Franco does an awesome job with his character.” Sophomore Darien Oliva agreed with Yonta. “I loved this movie, I would definitely recommend it to people who like funny movies,” said Oliva.

What's in Your Lunch?

Katie Tzivanis

Staff Writer

As you’re shoveling those mashed potatoes in your mouth, probably worrying about a test you have next week, or the big game on Friday, do you ever wonder where exactly those potatoes come from?

It’s a curious thought. Some suppress the idea, to avoid confronting reality: that the food they’re eating is actually coming from a factory a thousand miles away.

According to cafeteria worker Joanne Cacchione the meat and other core products that make up our school meals are provided mostly by Sysco. Some items are also purchased from Deliboy. The snacks are provided by Renzi Food Products. All companies are located within an hour of Syracuse. Sysco is located in Warners, Deliboy is located in Baldwinsville, and Renzi is located in Watertown. Even though they’re all local distributors our food is still being shipped from all over the country.

Seventeen percent of all carbon emissions are caused by transporting food across the world, according to Our carbon footprint has grown immensely in the last 20 years, making it more important than ever to start buying meats and other food from local farms. This will help your local economy as well as reduce the amount of pollution that is continuously being added to global warming.

Each company that provides the food to Jamesville-DeWitt High School, most specifically Sysco, follows governmental nutritional guidelines, and has approval from the USDA. But that doesn’t mean the food doesn’t contain a lot preservatives, which is then keeping them “fresh” while traveling halfway across the country to your plate.

“I care where my food comes from,” said junior Cameron Daley, “because I want to know what I’m putting in my body.”

According to Sysco’s website, they have over 100 professionals maintaining the standard of the food, while also monitoring the product quality. White Marble Farms, located in the Midwest is one of the many farms that supply their meat to Sysco. They participate in the “We Care” initiative, which is a public promise to stay true to engaging in and promoting ethical practices.

District cook manager Rita Vedsted has our best interest in mind. If Ms. Vedsted and the other cafeteria workers are not pleased with the quality or the look of the food, they won’t serve it to the students. “You guys are customers, if you don’t like the food, and you’re not happy with it, you’re not going to come back,” said Ms. Vedsted.

Many students have been skeptical of the cafeteria food, “I care about my food, which is why I go through the salad line,” said senior Kate Salvo. It’s nice to know that people do care about their health and where there food comes from. It isn’t as nice knowing the hamburgers eaten today were shipped from Colorado, two weeks ago.

Holiday Hype at J-DHS

Alex Pomeroy and Connor Ball

Staff Writers

While the first half of the year is wrapping up, the students and faculty of Jamesville-DeWitt High School eagerly await the holiday season. J-DHS students were forced to impatiently wait until winter break during the four weeks separating Thanksgiving break and Winter break. Now that the break and holidays are here, the students agree that the holidays is the time of cherishing precious moments with the ones you love most.

The holiday seasons is known as a time of receiving many gifts and spending time with family. However, many students also spend time giving back to the community. “It’s Christmas time and it’s important to give back to people who don’t have the same opportunities,” said sophomore Ana Dieroff who volunteers at the Salvation Army. “If you have the time, go out of your way and volunteer,” said senior Tate Horan who spends his free time tutoring kids at Ed Smith.

The Holiday season is not more about the presents you receive yet what you do to give back to the community. “I volunteer at PetSmart, and I work for the cats, finding them good homes, taking them off the street and giving them a good place to stay,” said junior Milena Romano. Freshman Haberle Conlon has an inspirational view on volunteering; “it’s really the experience that matters and giving back to the community is a feeling that is awarding.”

The holiday season thrives on family traditions newly made and ones that have been around for decades. “The night before Christmas my family always sings the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas,’ and my sister and I always wake up early in the middle of the night to go check the presents,” said senior Nikki O’Hara. Not everyone’s traditions include singing songs; for junior Mary Austin it’s making Christmas cookies every year with her family. Austin enjoys Christmas with her family while everyone is happy and hanging out together.

Trying to fulfill every tradition and spend time with family has never been so hard to fit in. This year, the holiday break was shortened to seven days opposed to nine days last year. Students are frustrated for the new change. Voicing their frustration for the shortened break, junior Sarah Pritts said “I’m disappointed, because we used to have longer breaks.” Pritts says she would spend more time with her family, and freshman Ethan Jaglal thinks we should have more time off for such an important time of the year.

J-DHS is preparing to celebrate many holidays in the upcoming weeks, the most celebrated being Christmas on Dec. 25 and Hanukkah beginning on Dec. 24. With students creating hefty wish lists it’s inevitable there will be empty wallets. Junior Somil Aggarwal is hoping for “money, lots of it.” Unlike Aggarwal, freshman Abby Morgan said “I want a Northface jacket, new Converse, and a makeup palette.”

From the JD Rampage, have a happy and safe holiday!

Alex Catanzarite: Senior spotlight

Mia Potamianos and Jenna Vespi 

Editors of Production 

The soccer season has come and gone, and for her achievements during that season, Jamesville-DeWitt High School senior Alex Catanzarite was named All-American and All-CNY Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Catanzarite, who started playing soccer at the age of 5, sees every moment she’s on the field as a chance to improve. In the fall, the J-D Varsity Girls Soccer team finished as Class A state runner-ups for the second year in a row. Through it all, Catanzarite stayed positive. “Unfortunately we lost, but we got to meet a lot of new people, and it was a fun experience!”

Catanzarite’s perseverance has inspired many over the course of her soccer career. “She's never gonna stop: she's never satisfied with her skill set and she's always looking to better herself,” said J-DHS senior Angela Bussone. J-DHS Varsity Girls Soccer Head Coach Hayley Nies said “she's the ultimate teammate: she's very unselfish.” Catanzarite is said to be very high energy and as Coach Nies confirms; “she is always doing her best.” When reflecting on where her inspiration comes from, Catanzarite gives credit to her dad, Richard Catanzarite. Alex Catanzarite said that her dad “always motivates and pushes me to do my best and always work hard.”

In the eyes of her teammates, Catanzarite is more than just a star soccer player. As Bussone put it, “she's one of the most hard working players I’ve ever gotten to play with, it's very exciting being on her team.” These lifelong friends have been able to grow up together; both through grade school and on the soccer field. “Our moms were roommates in college so we’ve basically been best friends our whole lives,” said Bussone. Freshman Grace Dimkopoulos, who played with Catanzarite on the Varsity Girls Soccer team for the first time this year said, “being a freshman on the team, Alex was always making jokes and making us feel welcome. I’m sad she’s moving on, but she’ll definitely go far with her future.”

Throughout Catanzarite soccer career, she has always balanced her school soccer with club soccer- playing on Syracuse Soccer Academy and Syracuse Development Academy, which is where she currently plays, Olympic Development Program, Fusion and Soccer Central and she also plays on the high school team since her freshman year. Outside of soccer, Catanzarite participates in many other activities, including drum and piano lessons, Crossfit workouts, and she also likes to ice skate. “As a person, she's funny and always joking around with her teammates. She's high energy, but is always doing her best on the field,” said Coach Nies. 

In May 2016, Catanzarite committed to play soccer for Bucknell University as a class of 2021 Bison. After talking to the coaches and visiting the campus, Catanzarite made the decision to pursue soccer after high school. “I really liked the coaching staff which makes me super excited to play next year and see how I can improve more,” said Catanzarite. She enters undecided on her major, but is sure to put her drive and talent into good use in her future.