Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Trills and Thrills By David McKinney Jr.

Trills and Thrills
By David McKinney Jr.   

Recently, the Island Trees Performing groups took a field trip to Neptune High School in New Jersey for a performance, and for a day at Six Flags, Great Adventure. There were amazing performances by:

  • Orchestra:
  • Band
  • Jazz Band
  • Chorus

Six Flags was a very fun time. We spent about 4 hours there, and we definitely deserved the time that we got. Although, the bus ride was long and rough, mostly because of the traffic. We were about two hours late for the performance, but it was alright because most of the groups after us had cancelled, how sad. To all the performers, good job, you were great. Since this is from an orchestra player’s perspective, this is what the orchestra played:

  1. Spirit of the American West
  2. William Tell Overture - Finale

Thank you to Mrs. McGrory, Mr. Cava, Mr. Ingenito, Mrs. Clarke, and many others for the amazing performance.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ecybermission Interview By Sheryl Lin

Ecybermission Interview
By Sheryl Lin

Hi folks! Today we’ve got an interview with the New York State winners of our Ecybermission competition, the team Algae Allies. Ecybermission is a national contest in which students decide on one community issue and try to come up with a solution, and it’s something you’ll take part in during 8th grade Science Enrichment.

Basically, you spend a period of time during the summer brainstorming about what projects you could do. Then you can either choose to do one of two things: build a device or model that could solve your problem, or perform an experiment based on a scientific inquiry. You then spend the rest of the year following a procedure, carrying out tests and creating a solution using the scientific method. Winners receive scholarship money as reward!

Q: What was Ecybermission like? How was it?
Harry: It was a fun adventure and time to elaborate with my classmates to help the community.
Anthony: It was tough but it was worth it.
John: It was hard work but it paid off in the end.

Q: What was your community problem and solution?
We wanted to fix the issue of the overuse of fossil fuels in the environment to prevent the consequences of global warming. We noticed that biofuel was becoming increasingly popular and we saw algae as a good source of the necessary oil. Our solution was finding the best way to grow algae for use in the fuel industry.

Q: What kinds of challenges did you guys face?
Anthony: Staying up late, spending lots of time to make ourselves sound scientific.
Ryan: like very late

Q: Your team chose to do a scientific inquiry. Could you explain what that is?
Ryan: A scientific inquiry is where instead of inventing something, we run tests on something that already exists.

Q: What steps did you have to take during the process? What kinds of things did you do?
Anthony: We met with a botanist to get information on how to culture algae. We also spent time after school to gather supplies and set up our algae as well as meeting at Ryan’s house to count algae and collect data.
Harry: We had to collect supplies, do conferences and interviews.

Q: What do you feel was the most important thing that made you win?
Ryan: It was definitely the group effort and constant perseverance that helped us win.
John: When we worked at late into the night we reminded ourselves of the cash reward we could win in the end and that our work could help benefit the planet.

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?
Anthony: just do all of your work and if you work hard enough you might be rewarded
Harry: Use your time very wisely.

John: If you want to win something, go out and do it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Honor Society Inductions By: Thomas Hennessy

Honor Society Inductions
By: Thomas Hennessy

The inductions for National Jr. Honor Society are occurring June 6th at the high school this year. Every year, about 120 7th and 8th graders qualify, but only 50 actually get inducted. To learn more about NJHS, I talked to my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Nieves, who has been running NJHS for 9 years with Mrs. Harouche. She told me that once accepted into NJHS, it doesn’t stop there. Once accepted, there is a system of points that inductees must earn in order to maintain their stay in National Junior Honor Society. You must obtain a minimum of 25 points before the end of the school year by doing certain things including but not limited to, the American Diabetes Walk, raising money for a local charity, and joining a number of school clubs and activities. If not, you are forced to drop out of NJHS. Thanks for reading, and good luck to all our nominees!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Horoscope Column #3: Japanese ABO Blood Types By Sheryl Lin

Horoscope Column #3: Japanese ABO Blood Types
By Sheryl Lin

Hello again! The Horoscope Column is back for another issue on Japanese ABO blood type personalities. The whole idea is that certain blood types have certain character traits and behaviors, common to that specific blood type.

Your ABO blood type is based on what types of antigens you have on your blood cells.
  • Type A has type A antigen and anti-B antibodies.
  • Type B has type B antigens and anti-A antibodies.
  • Type AB has both type A and B antigens, but no antibodies.
  • Type O has no antigens, but has both A and B antibodies.

Blood types are the reason why you can’t receive blood from certain blood types; otherwise the wrong antigens and antibodies will clash and fight to the death! Resulting in your death, as well. But back to the topic - these are the personality traits tied to each blood type:

  • Type A - Type A’s are persistent, rational, cooperative hard workers. They are perfectionists and are very loyal. They are able to complete any challenge and keep everything tidy in a very efficient manner. However, they may be stubborn and are susceptible to getting stressed out.
  • Type B - Type B’s are spontaneous, motivated, independent people. They are wild, creative and optimistic. When Type B’s want something done, they will do it, and they will do it well. But they are also known to be arrogant and irresponsible.
  • Type O - Type O’s are natural leaders and are intuitive, self-reliant, and capable. They are ambitious and sociable. They aren’t afraid to start something new, to talk to people, to stand out from the crowd. But Type O’s may become jealous or overly competitive.
  • Type AB - Type AB’s are cool, controlled, and distant. They are intelligent and thoughtful, as well as being the rarest blood type. They’re the most unusual out of all the blood types, yet they’re also known to be talented. They may be indecisive and aloof.

Does your blood type match with your personality? What do you think?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Tour of the West Wing By Nicholas Isaacs

My Tour of the West Wing
By Nicholas Isaacs

Over my spring vacation, I was very lucky to get a tour of the White House. Last year I sent a picture of Abraham Lincoln to President Obama and because of that was invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll which I attended with my parents. The next day, we were supposed to get a public tour of the East Wing of the White House last but due to complications, all of the tours scheduled for that day were cancelled. But the wait was worth it, as this year we were invited back for a private West Wing tour.
The White House is divided into 3 sections: the Executive Residence in the center; the East Wing which houses additional office space; and the West Wing which is where the President’s Office, the Oval Office, is located along with several other well known and important rooms and spaces.
In order to get in, there was a month long background check on my parents before we were even given the OK. Once there, armed Secret Service guards at various checkpoints verified our ID’s, gave us special clearance badges, as well as instructions including where we could and could not take pictures. Our guide was named Sonja, who was from the Executive Office of the President (EOP).
The President was in London when we went to the White House, but when he is working there, a U.S. Marine is usually standing guard in front of the entrance, but even still, there was still plenty of security everywhere you looked. We entered through the entrance way used by dignitaries and members of Staff, not usually used by the public. When we walked in, we noticed that the ceilings were pretty low. They had a lot of pictures hanging on the walls of different events that had happened, including the Canadian Prime Minister’s recent visit to the White House. The pictures are changed very often.
We stopped by the Situation Room but weren’t allowed to look in it. The Situation Room (also known as the John F. Kennedy Conference Room) is where the President meets with cabinet members and heads of military to oversee and make critical decisions on events  unfolding live on monitors via satellite. There are advanced communication equipment so that the President has the ability to maintain and control US military all over the world. Posted outside the room there is a now famous picture of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice-President Joe Biden, and military leaders watching the Seal-6 incursion on Osama bin Laden’s Compound from the Situation Room.

The next area we saw on our tour was the office of Vice-President Joe Biden. The hallway was blocked off to visitors but we could see the office door saying ‘Vice-President’. This is not his main office, his main office is located in Dwight D. Eisenhower Office Building next door.
We were next shown the West Wing cafeteria. The surrounding hallways and this room were designed by the Navy, and had the feeling of being aboard a ship. The halls were narrow and the artwork and other decorations were definitely sea themed. There was even a takeout window for government employees on the go.
Next, we visited the famous Rose Garden. The Rose Garden is where the President holds press conferences. The garden used to be a formal garden filled with different types of flowers, but it was soon converted to lawn surrounded by shrubs and flowers so that the President would have room to hold his conferences. Today’s Rose Garden is consistent with how the Kennedy’s designed it in the 1960’s. In the distance from where we were standing, we could see the small playground President Obama installed for his two daughters after he took office so he could see them play while he worked in the Oval Office. White House Rose Garden.

Back inside, we passed by the Roosevelt Room, which is a conference room standing where President Theodore Roosevelt’s Office once stood and was named after him in 1969 by President Richard M. Nixon for both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. We also passed by the Cabinet Meeting Room which is where the President and members of his cabinet sit and discuss things such as the big problems in the U.S.. This room was also made by President Nixon in 1970. There is a tradition that a President will add a portrait of someone who are an inspiration to them. Early in 2009, Barack Obama added a portrait of President Harry S. Truman which joined many other portraits including ones of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
After that, we got to look at the Oval Office, the office of the President. We actually learned that the couches in the office were actually from Obama’s last home in Chicago, Illinois, and he put the couches in the office because he wanted to feel comfortable and make sure other people feel comfortable. The Secret Service agent there actually told us that something about the Seal of the President on the ceiling of the office was wrong. My mother actually guessed it right, that the stars around the seal had 8 points, instead of the usual 5. The man also said that it was an accident made by the Italian sculptor who made the design on the ceiling. We saw the Resolute Desk, which is the President’s desk. It was given to President Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria of England as a gift. The desk was actually made of wood from a shipwreck near the Arctic and there is not 1, but 2 other desks, which are copies of it from the same shipwreck, which are kept in England.  
The final room in the White House we got to see was the Press Room where they hold briefings to the press and the reporters ask questions ranging from national issues, to foreign affairs. The room used to be a swimming pool until President Richard M. Nixon filled it with concrete and turned it into the press room. The room is now named after James S. Brady who was the Press Secretary under President Ronald Reagan who was shot and critically injured during the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt.   Each chair had a label to identify where members of each news organization sits. It is probably the second best known room in the West Wing as everyone has seen a version of it in movies like “Independence Day” and “Air Force One” and in TV shows like “The West Wing” and “House of Cards.” The seemed so much in person than on TV, which makes it all the more impressive when you think about the reporters from television, newspapers, magazines, radio, and now the internet, and all the equipment that have to fit in it.
Overall, it was a magnificent experience that my family and I will never forget. If you are interested in visiting the White House, you need to contact your member of Congress at least three months in advance. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Interview with Long Island Author Jennifer McAndrews

Interview with Long Island Author Jennifer McAndrews
By Nicholas Isaacs

Long Island author Jennifer McAndrews is a family friend and she agreed to be interviewed by me on what it is like to be a writer and a published author. Below is her bio and the interview.

At 5 years old Jennifer McAndrews’ greatest achievement was becoming the person responsible for choosing which kindergarten table was the first to be dismissed at the end of the day. Drunk on power, she was sent to catholic school, where the nuns promptly turned her into a shy, skinny, no-confidence girl and (unwittingly) taught her the value of a good story over truth and the importance of only dreaming of murdering the neighbors rather than actually carrying out the deed. Thus, the author of The Stained Glass Mystery Series was born. Jennifer lives in Long Island, New York with two dogs, four cats, kids, husband, much more confidence and a lot lot lot of books.

1. Who inspired you to become an author? Is it something you wanted to do as a child or when you became an adult?

If I had to name someone who inspired me to be an author it would have to be my Dad. I credit him most for my love of books and stories and have so many memories of him choosing books from the library and reading at the kitchen table.
As a child, I don’t think I had any plans to become an author. I remember when I was in second grade wanting to be an artist, but by seventh grade I was writing stories and I never stopped.

2. How many books have you written that are published? How many are not published yet?
There are four published books that can be borrowed or bought right now. There is also one that is out of print and another coming out in June. So we’ll call that six books published. In the not published category there are, I think, seven. These are not published for reasons ranging from ‘no publisher wants to take the chance on them’ to ‘really, really, bad writing.’ Hey, we all start somewhere, right?

3. What type of genres do you usually write?
I usually write mysteries because I love a good puzzle, but I also enjoy writing adventure stories and really any genre that captures my imagination.

4. What is your most favorite book that you have written and can you tell us what it is about?
Probably my favorite would be one of those books that will never be published. It’s a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, and I had a ton of fun writing conversations between Robin and his “merry men.” (My favorite published books Deadly Farce and Death Under Glass because they both focus on how important friendships can be.)

5. What are you currently working on?
Hahaha! Currently working on a book in yet another genre: Historical fiction. This next book will be the story of a young woman living in France during the German occupation in World War II. I’ve had to do a lot of research and reading, trying to learn all I can about that time in history and I’m very excited to tell this woman’s story.

6. Do you start with the character or plot of the story?
For the most part, when I get an idea, the character and the story tickle my imagination at the same time. I can start a story if all I have is a character in the beginning, but I can’t start if all I have are plot ideas. The character is more important for me.

7. Does anything in your life make it into your books?
All the time! But in little ways. I call them my easter eggs -- little mentions of things that my family and close friends might recognize. For instance, in Deadly Farce I have a jukebox playing a song from the 1960s by a singer named Donovan. I included that because I have a dog named Donovan. In my next book, A Shattering Crime, I used a few of my friends names here and there. Adding things like that makes the writing process more enjoyable for me.

8. What inspires you to write?
There’s nothing specific, really. Long car rides, train rides, walks, listening to music -- things where my mind relaxes. When my thoughts are quiet the ideas bubble up and I can’t wait to get back to my writing.

9. What time of day do you usually write? And for how long?
I have a full time, Monday through Friday job, so I’ve gotten used to writing in small bursts. I write during my lunch break -- that’s one hour -- and for a couple of hours Saturday and Sunday morning. If I’m very excited about a project, or have a deadline to meet, I’ll also write for an hour or hour and a half after dinner.

10. Do you ever get "writer's block"? And how do you deal with it?
I don’t get writer’s block, isn’t that funny? I don’t ever seem to have a lack of ideas that most writers call “blocks.” But I do get stuck! I’ll be happily telling a story and suddenly don’t know what should come next. When that happens, I go back and read from the beginning of the story, because I find that there are clues in the already written parts that show what should happen next. Once I find them--or am reminded of them--I can get back to writing.

11. How many rejection letters did you get before you sold your first book? Can you give advice on how to deal with rejection?
This is actually a tricky question to answer because unless you’ve signed a legal contract with a publisher for a series of books, every book can get rejections. For each of my published books I’ve had between zero and twenty rejections. Each book is different!
How to deal with rejections...also a tricky question. Everyone always says “don’t take it personally.” And they’re right. A rejection is not about YOU the writer. But I never found that advice to be really helpful :)  The one I like the best is: If you get a rejection and it makes you sad, that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad and spend the day watching your favorite television shows or rereading your favorite book or doing whatever you do when you’re sad. The day the rejection arrives is your one day to be sad. ONE day. That’s all you get. Go ahead and be really really sad on your sad day. Be as sad as sad could be...and then be done. No more sadness. The day after, get back to work on your story.
Hey, works for me ;)

12. What was your most successful book?
I had to go look this up and the answer surprised me!  To date my most successful book is Deadly Farce.

13. What has surprised you since becoming published?
[decline to answer -- cuz I don’t have a good answer for this one]

14. What are some of the challenges you face in writing?
Apart from making enough time to write and knowing when to stop researching and start writing, the biggest challenge for me is one of confidence. I doubt myself a lot. A lot. I doubt anyone will want to read what I write, doubt I’m telling a good story, doubt I will ever get from “page one” to “the end”, doubt if I’m “good enough”. Lots of doubt! Luckily, the fun of writing overcomes the doubt at some point or I’d never get anything done.

15. Who is your favorite author of all time? What is your favorite book of all time?
My favorite author of all time is Cormac McCarthy. He’s another author that doesn’t stick to one genre. I like his westerns best.
Favorite book? Wow. That’s like asking what is my favorite kind of chocolate -- how can I choose just one? I can tell you that my favorite Cormac McCarthy book is called Cities of the Plain (a western), and the book I tell anyone I meet to read is called Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (a book about true friendship during wartime). And for something familiar, my favorite book in the past year was The Martian -- but don’t read until you’re older it because it has a lot of profanity!

16. What authors do you think young writers should be reading?
Read the author you love. Then ask your librarian what other books they can recommend that are similar to that author and then read that author. Repeat as necessary :)
It’s not important whose books you read right now (outside of for school, that is) it’s only important that you find books that make you want to keep reading. You could have a favorite author or you could have a favorite genre or you could just love reading about current events. As long as you’re reading!

17. What general advice do you have for us young aspiring writers?
I’ll give you a classic piece of advice that comes from Diana Gabaldon (who wrote the “Outlander” series of books that’s now on Starz TV): Read. Write. Repeat.
That’s the bottom line. To be a writer you have to write. Reading gives you a sort of osmosis learning about how a story is structured, and I would argue you can learn similar lessons about story from watching movies (if you can ignore the special effects and costumes and cool scenery and focus on the characters). But being a writer is about writing. So write!
And for the love of hot dogs, don’t let other people tell you what you should or shouldn’t be writing. Write stories for yourself, the kind you want to read, the kind that make you happy to create.

Above all else, my favorite piece of advice ever:

Never give up! Never surrender!

Books By Jennifer McAndrews

Death Under Glass-Stained Glass Mystery #2, available from Berkley Prime Crime

Ill Gotten Panes-Stained Glass Mystery #1, available from Berkley Prime Crime

Deadly Farce-available from Thomas and Mercer