Friday, April 30, 2010

A Crow's Nest Video Exclusive!

We're honored to present video highlights from Port Richmond High School's Spring Musical The Wiz. Watch these scenes videotaped by Mr. Scanlon's TV Production class, and be sure to come out and see this amazing production tonight and tomorrow at 7pm
video

Wednesday, April 28, 2010





Teenager Phoebe Prince, who committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying.


A top story making headlines and enraging people across the nation involves the tragic and heart-wrenching death of Phoebe Prince. Sadly, on January 14th, Phoebe’s twelve year-old sister found her dead body hanging from a stairwell in their home in Massachusetts. Fifteen year-old Phoebe Prince’s suicide was the direct result of the despicable and merciless act of cyberbullying, for which her name has become synonymous. These cyber attacks, stemming from envy and hatred, need to be prevented and stopped all together. However, what hope exists when we live in a world with such unimaginable cruelty; when vicious human beings thrive in anonymity as they torture innocent people? Unfortunately, cyberbullying is only the beginning of a long winding road, with broken souls and tragedy waiting to swallow its victims at the end.

What has been termed “cyberbullying” is becoming more and more notorious with the public, particularly parents, who were once oblivious to its dangers. Some adolescents have manipulated the initial intention of technology, and have created a world-wide web of harassment and humiliation (no pun intended). According to a New York Times article, titled “More Teens Victimized by Cyber Bullies,” between nine and thirty-four percent of adolescents are victims of “electronic aggression.” Cell phones may be used in the act through text messaging, but the Internet is the real culprit, as the bullies are sending threatening emails/instant messages, sending private photographs or videos, and designing websites to mock their victims. The i-Safe America Research Team says, “The tradition of home as a refuge from bullies on the school playground is over. The Internet is the new playground, and there are no off hours,” meaning that the torment is never ending when teens are constantly on popular websites often affiliated with cyberbullying, such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and the most recently-made FormSpring. FormSpring is actually becoming a major concern where cyberbullying is involved, because this website allows users to ask each other questions under anonymous names. This ability angers and hurts many, including juniors Christopher Scott (who called cyber bullies “wannabe tough guys”) and Kevin Rosario, who exclaimed, “Only the weak hide behind their computers to torment others, who they feel are inferior!”

You may not think that this goes on around you, but I discovered that a fellow Port Richmond student has been subjected to cyberbullying numerous times on both FormSpring and MySpace. In confidentiality, she explained to me that another girl was sending her messages saying things like “you’re ugly” and “you need to kill yourself.” “It was really bad. I was starting to believe everything she said in the messages,” claimed the Port junior. “Cyberbullying can really hurt a person’s self-esteem.” So much for “sticks and stones.” The worst part about this dilemma is that it does not always just end in hurt feelings. The annual suicide rate of American teenagers ages 15-19 is 7 per 100,000. Other statistics say that 14.5% of high school students have considered committing suicide and 6.9% have attempted it more than once, according to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. In other words, Phoebe Prince was not alone in her act. She is joined by many others who were viciously backed into a corner with nowhere to go but out of this world…

In Prince's case, the bullying went far beyond the manipulation of electronics. She was verbally and physically abused by her attackers, who were recently indicted on several charges. This beautiful young lady came to the United States from Ireland, taking residence in Massachusetts, where she attended South Hadley High school. Witnesses and Phoebe's friends claim that she was often referred to as a "slut" and an "Irish whore" because she dated one of the star football players, and received a lot of positive attention from boys. One week prior to her death, she was "shoved into lockers, and encouraged to kill herself on Facebook," according to People magazine, and finally on the day of her death, as she walked home with tearful eyes, her attackers taunted her and threw empty cans at her. Phoebe Prince told a friend "school has been close to intolerable lately." Should that have been a sign to take action? Was it not enough for her to complain to school officials, who did not take sufficient action? Can you simply imagine the unbearable pain she had to be going through to go home and create a lethal noose out of new Christmas scarf? The nine students who have been charged with violation of civil rights, stalking, and even statutory rape have all pleaded not guilty, but I believe it is fair to say that whether guilty or not, they could not receive enough jail time to compensate for the heartbreak they have caused Phoebe's family. Ironically, not ten miles from where Phoebe once lived, eleven year-old Carl Joseph committed suicide due to the “daily taunts of being gay” according to glsen.org. He would have turned twelve on April 17, if he had not hanged himself with an extension cord in his home. In other recent related incidents, seventeen year-old Alexis Pilkington committed suicide, for which her friends blame “insulting comments posted on FormSpring.” Thirteen year-old Megan Meier committed suicide after being drastically abused on MySpace, and Ryan Patrick Halligan killed himself after being sent “disturbing” instant messages, in which the attacker was sexually harassing him. The night of his death he told a friend “tonight is the night you are going to read about in the papers.” PRHS junior Lauren Kulpowsky explained, “The internet playground (more like a jungle) is extremely frightening, as is the corrupted hearts and minds of people so young.” I agree with her, but how is an escalating problem like this supposed to be stopped?

PRHS junior Ishmael King says it can’t: “There’s really no way to prevent it. When you have things like Facebook out there, anybody can go online and do anything.” However, PRHS guidance counselor Mrs. Delaney disagrees: “I think the mistake that a lot of kids make is that they feel they have to respond to every text message and email. They need to let somebody know when it [cyberbullying] is starting.” According to stopcyberbullying.org, there are plenty of ways to prevent online harassment, and informing somebody is one of these ways. Unfortunately, in a poll conducted by wiredsafety.org, only 15% of parents even know what cyberbullying is. However, children need to place more trust in their parents, so they can inform their parents about the problem and take action. Considering the severity of the situation, parents can either take it into their own hands or contact local law enforcement, for more serious action. Parents also should consider monitoring their children’s online activity. When schools get involved, it becomes complicated because they are often accused violating a student’s freedom of speech. However, schools can teach their students about the dangers of the internet and the proper behavior for online activity. The victims themselves can also be very effective in preventing cyberbullying. Prevention techniques include deleting suspicious emails/messages, not giving out personal information like passwords, addresses, etc.

Phoebe Prince’s death has become a national crisis and has had a tremendous impact on the public’s perception of cyberbullying. It is being brought into the spotlight as an issue that needs to be dealt with immediately and with force. Not all cyberbullying cases result in death, and hopefully less will end up like this as its notoriety increases. For all who have felt the effects of Phoebe’s death, all those whose lives were cut short, and for all those whose lives have been affected by this cyber abuse, just remember there is hope where there is faith. We must take action in order to put a stop to the treacherous world of cyberbullying, and appropriate steps must be taken.

Friday, April 23, 2010

To Prom... or NOT to Prom? by Tori Brando

It's spring time, and you know what that means for our seniors- prom! This year's annual senior promenade is being held on June 4th, and a lot of our seniors are looking forward to it. However, is it all what it's built up to be? Or is it all hype? Editor Tori Brando gives us both sides to the prom story in this new article: "To Prom or NOT to Prom."

And be sure to look below the article for pictures!


What usually comes to many mind when you think of prom is an elegant dress, sleek up-do, tailored tuxedos, lavish limousines, fashionable pumps, cute couples and memorable after parties. Prom is meant to be a lush and sophisticated celebration for high school seniors to take a break, relax and look back at all the hard work that brought them to where they are now: approaching graduation and the end of their high school careers. Prom is notorious for being the “last big party” of your high school experience and the last chance for you and your closest friends to spend one more exciting night together before parting ways after graduation and the start of college. But is prom really all it’s cracked up to be, or is it just an overrated party that puts pressure on seniors to be perfect and popular?
“I think prom is very important. It’s something I’ve looked forward to ever since I was a freshman,” exclaims Port Senior Didem Yilmaz, one of many Port seniors who believe prom is an important event in commemorating one’s high school achievements, and a good excuse for glamorizing yourself and indulging in a luxurious party. Port Senior Amina Sattar agrees: “It’s something I’ve looked forward to ever since I was in the sixth grade.” Prom is special for many seniors for several obvious reasons. It’s one of the first and few times in a person’s life when they get to dress up like a prince or princess and have all of the focus and attention on them. Prom is one of two times (the other being graduation) in your long four-year high school life when everybody praises and dotes on you for all of the studying and hard work you’ve accomplished. The agony of Regents, the anguish of SATs, the torture of the college application process and the misery of non-stop homework, tests, report cards and endless summer reading lists are all finally vindicated by the glamour and exuberance of prom. Girls get to dress up and select from dozens of fabulous and elaborate dresses and have their hair, nails and make-up done by professionals. They truly are the princess of the night, with all eyes on them. Guys get to look suave and debonair in their form-fitting tuxes and swish loafers. Dressed-up guys possess a new sense of glamour, and once they arrive, they are the eye candy of the night. The right guy can be a girl’s best accessory. Prom Night truly marks the fairy tale ending for many seniors.
However, is all of the above a total load of hype? According to Port Senior Chris Donohue, “prom is a factor of your senior year, but it’s very overrated.” Even though prom may be a fairy tale for many, for others it’s nothing but a stress-inducing, wallet- bursting, pressure-filled anxiety attack waiting to happen. Donahue goes on to say, “There is so much pressure… you have to have a limo and you have to look the best.” We can’t say the man is wrong. Prom is one of the most pressured times for a senior. There is so much anxiety to look the best, have the best date, have the most friends, have the nicest limo and to be noticed that it could drive even the most stable of specimens to insanity. Nobody wants to be the girl standing in the corner next to the coats or the guy hovering over the snack table by himself.
Girls have the coronary artery blocking-inducing pressure of having the best dress and shoes, having the perfect hairstyle and having flawless make-up and nails. They are forced to look petite, perfect, primped and precise. One strand of hair out of place or misplaced ruffle can lead to non-stop scrutiny the following Monday. Girls also have the heart-stopping stress of finding a date. Every girl wants Prince Charming to ask her to the prom; God forbid a girl goes to the prom alone. There is also pressure for girls to arrive with and be a part of the biggest and most popular social groups. Seen in this light, prom is the epitome of social pressure. Guys also face difficulty; they must work up the nerve to ask the perfect girl to the prom, hoping she says yes. No one wants to be rejected when asking a girl to the prom. Guys must also look smooth and polished in their tuxes, shoes and gelled-back hair.
Figuring the financial burden for attending the prom is enough to put anyone into a frenzied panic. One prom ticket goes for $135, and if a guy is nice enough to pay for his date’s ticket also, that’s almost $300. I wonder how much overtime at McDonald’s it takes to be able to afford that. But the ticket is just the tip of the iceberg. The average prom dress goes for $150 to an upwards of $500. A Seventeen Magazine poll discovered that 94% of girls planning to attend the prom spent approximately $195 on their dresses. Add to that the cost of professional hairstyling, make-up, manicures/pedicures, shoes and accessories, we’re talking almost or even more than $1,000. It’s almost as bad for the guys too. Tuxedo rentals can range anywhere from $50 to upwards of $200 (and let’s not forget about those $300 tickets). Limo rentals are also a killer. The average prom night limo rental for four to eight hours will cost you anywhere from $400 to $800. It’s hard to imagine all that money for a night where you’ll end up in Wildwood anyway, drunk and partying on the beach looking every bit like a disheveled and hung over mess…
Which brings me to my next issue: the social pressures of prom. Prom Night is notorious for placing impressionable and naive teenagers in awkward and potentially dangerous social situations. We’ve all heard the term before, and we all usually roll our eyes when adults lecture us about it: peer pressure. But the truth is it does exist, and chances are we’ve all fallen prey to it once or twice, and will again in our young adulthood. Prom is notorious for underage drinking, drunk driving, drug experimentation and sexual pressure. Statistics show that Prom-Graduation season (April-June) is the most dangerous driving time for teenagers. One-third of alcohol related motor vehicle fatalities involving teens happen during this time of year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2005 Prom-Graduation season, 676 students under 21 were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Prom after parties are notorious for drugs and sex (including date rape). For many high schools, it’s hard to tell the difference between a prom after party and a Motley Crue backstage bash. Girls are often pressured to lose their virginity on prom night, and it isn’t that hard. Port Richmond’s prom is held after all at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn, a nice and lavish hotel. Several rooms are available for you and your date just a few floors up. Wildwood, the hot post-prom go-to, is known for it. Guys are often pressured by their other male friends to “do it” after prom if they want to be “cool.” Prom after parties are also infamous for drugs like marijuana, acid and ecstasy. Several guys under the influence of these drugs try to force sex with their dates; several girls who are under the influence of these drugs are taken advantage of by their dates due to their weak states. If and when you attend prom, make sure you know you can trust your date and are wary of dangerous and sometimes fatal after parties. I’m not completely debunking prom after parties, just make sure you attend them with a good head on your shoulders and a date you know you can trust.
All in all, prom has been a hot topic among seniors for decades. For some it’s the fairy tale ending they’ve been waiting for four years, a magical night to look beautiful, relax, reminisce and party with friends before parting in just a couple of months. For others, it’s an over-hyped, glorified party that only leads to social out casting, pressure, stress, empty wallets and potential danger. Many seniors have conflicting opinions about the merits of this age-old tradition. To prom or not to prom? It’s your call.



Dan "Wolfie" Aliotta will be attending prom because "I only get one. I don't want to regret not going."


Veronica Cruz (pictured left) will be going to prom to have a huge celebration with her closest friends.


Why is Mike Scalera going to prom? "Because... I am!" he laughs.


Mike Mojica will not be going to prom. Why not, you ask? "Because I don't want to."


Another senior, Michael Tighe, will not be going to prom. "It's not my thing- I'm not into it."



Marc Dietrich will be going "because someone asked [me]."


Mara Langholtz gives her opinion on why is she going to prom: "It's the one time that most of the seniors are together, all done up, and even though I'm more stressed than ever [because of] planning everything, I know the outcome will be an unforgettable night! I mean come on- who doesn't want a prom to remember? And if you're not going, what is there to remember?"


Meanwhile, Josue Cabrera is not going, because he "doesn't want to pay that much."


Jasmine Gary is attending the prom to spend a final night with her friends.


David Winnick is going mainly because "[he has] nothing else to do that weekend."


Why is Beleah Kollue (pictured right) going to prom? "To be with my friends, duh."



Well, whether or not you're going to prom, be sure to have a safe and fun weekend, seniors. Remember- this is your night to shine.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The 2nd Print Edition!

The Crow's Nest Print Issue # 2 is HERE! Check out this year's second print edition of The Crow's Nest, now available from your English teacher or the English Office. You can also pick up a copy at the library, in the General Office, or in Principal Gannon's office.

And be sure to check back and look for more new stories right here on the online edition of The Crow's Nest.