The Chief

Written for “Seniors 2010” special issue of Massapequa High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Chief, released in June 2010. Every year, the previous year’s Editor-in-Chief writes a college advice piece after her freshman experience for the new graduating class. This year was my turn.

That was fast. I feel compelled to say it feels like just last month that last year’s senior editors and I were working on, or rather, slaving over our senior issue in good ol’ room 131. But that’s enough of my stroll down memory lane.

After re-reading past editor’s college advice pieces in preparation for writing this, I noticed their advice was missing something. Yes, the “do’s and don’ts” of freshman year are incredibly helpful—join clubs, learn how to do laundry, study what you love. Yet what I learned about myself this past year cannot be attained by auditioning for the symphony orchestra, distinguishing between the “perm press” and “bright colors” settings on the washing machine, or registering for LIT270, Transformations of Shakespeare.

Instead, the most valuable part of my freshman experience involves less of the college, more of me. On freshman move-in day at American University, August 15, 2009, I was a self-conscious and nervous girl, in disbelief that it was time to set up my cramped dorm room, a scene depicted in film and television countless times. Despite being overwhelmed, I remained unafraid and open to the new adventures of my first year of college. Soon enough the insecurities melted away and college was no longer intimidating. By May 5, 2010 I sadly packed up room 610 of Leonard Hall and came home to Massapequa a confident young woman. Cheesy? Maybe. True? Definitely.

And with that self-aware self-analysis comes the Marissa Cetin Three Thoughts for Your Freshman Year Mindset:

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Written for May 2009 issue of Massapequa High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Chief. Position at time: Editor-in-Chief

“We’re not going to get out of this quagmire we’ve built until we reduce our spending,” said NY Gov. David Paterson in a November news conference. This statement came after the governor proposed $5.2 billion in cuts to the state budget in an effort to reduce the budget deficit of $15 billion, according to the New York Times.

The loudest uproar over this proposal comes from the fact that education, along with health care, is experiencing the largest cuts in state aid of all the sectors, which has Long Islanders worried about how this will affect the students in New York State schools.

The proposal calls for each district to be charged for a “deficit reduction,” in which the state takes away aid money from each district. Instead, this money is earmarked to fill the budget gap.

Mr. Alan Adcock, assistant superintendent for business in the Massapequa School District, confirmed, “Massapequa would not receive two million in aid money.”

Since Gov. Paterson announced the proposal in November, on a Feb. 27 visit to a fellow Long Island school he said that much of the $2.9 billion that New York will receive from President Obama’s stimulus package will “take the deficit reduction to schools and restore it with the federal aid,” according to Mr. Adcock. However, Mr. Adcock added that he has yet to receive written confirmation of this in a press release, and any numbers are unknown at this point.

Despite Gov. Paterson’s assurances that the stimulus package will negate the education cuts, more than 1,000 teachers, librarians, parents and students gathered at Alan Park in Farmingdale on Feb. 28 to rally against his proposed budget. Determined to make their voices heard to the seven state senators and eight state assembly members in attendance, the crowd carried signs with assertive slogans and chanted, “We want our fair share.”

Alongside the impassioned crowd was MHS’s marching band with trumpets, flutes, and drums in hand (or on torso) to boost the energy and make the Massapequan presence and support known.

“It was a great feeling knowing that people are showing they care about the future of their students,” said senior Jackie Nelson. “I was there as drum major directing the marching band, fighting for better funding and recognition for this music department that we already fight so hard for just to get respect.”

When any school budget faces the possibility of experiencing cuts, the music and arts programs are presumed to bear the brunt of the losses. However, Dr. David Gaines, curriculum associate for music, said, “I don’t see the music department being hit differently from other departments.”

This should ease any concerns that MHS’s beloved holiday concerts and spring musical will be affected, or worries that the music theory and history classes will be diminished.

“We are not anticipating any changes,” said Dr. Gaines. “Everything should remain status quo.”

Echoing Dr. Gaines’ affirmations is Mrs. Lucille Iconis, assistant superintendent for elementary education. “The Board of Education is committed to maintaining high caliber and innovative programs that the Massapequa School District has become known for.”

The outcome of the May 19 budget vote will be an indicator of how the Massapequa School District will be able to maintain its high caliber. Although this will be the smallest budget increase in 10 years at under 3.5 percent, Mr. Adcock said this budget is still a “good thing” for the district because “we’re able to continue all of the great programs without making any wide-scale changes.”

Over the past several years, Massapequa School District has grown increasingly more efficient in terms of rising graduation rates while maintaining a relatively low cost per student in comparison to other Nassau county school districts. Massapequa spends $18,872 per student, the fifth lowest cost per child in the county, and about $4,000 less than the country average of $22,894 per student. The school district with the highest cost per child is the Lawrence School District, spending about $31-32,000 per student.

The real value of these numbers can only be comprehended when juxtaposed with the graduation rates. In 2000, 63 percent of seniors graduated with a regents diploma, and by 2008 the number grew to 93 percent. Seventy-one percent of the class of 2008 graduated with an advanced regents diploma, up from the class of 2007’s 59 percent—close to double the state’s average of 39 percent of seniors per high school receiving an advanced regents diploma upon graduation. (Statistics of seniors graduating with an advanced regents diploma prior to 2007 were not available.)

“It is so gratifying that 68 percent of the last year’s graduating class completed one or more college-level courses and that 71 percent of that class earned a regents diploma with advanced designation,” said Mrs. Susan Woodbury, assistant superintendent for secondary education. “That means that our students are taking advantage of and are succeeding in the core instructional program, as well as in the array of career building electives that are offered in our secondary schools.”

Sentiments of confidence in Massapequa’s students were expressed across the board. “The kids have been doing really well, from the elementary students on the state exams and the secondary students on Regents exams,” Mr. Adcock said. “We don’t want to make any changes. We want our students to continue to achieve.”

Written for October 2008 special presidential election issue of Massapequa High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Chief. Position at time: Editor-in-Chief

Last month the Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson strayed from the usual playfully snarky demeanor of his opening monologues to focus on a more relevant and critical topic to America—the right to vote, and the staggering amount of who do not take advantage of the right (Ferguson states that in 2004, only 64% percent of eligible voters bothered voting). More importantly, he scolds those citizens who disregard the right which so many have fought for, boldly proclaiming “If you don’t vote, you’re a moron.”

As a recently sworn in citizen of the United States, Ferguson, a Scotland native, greatly values his newly given right, while many other natural citizens seem to not. Over thirty years since the voting age was lowered to 18, the 18-24 age range consistently has the lowest voter turnout.

The upcoming election has been dubbed various names: historic, life-changing, and insane for starters. Aside from this election putting either an African American or a woman in the top two most powerful spots in Washington, this election is revolutionary because of the increased number of impassioned voters in the usually blasé age bracket.

College campuses are swarming with political rallies and organizations dedicated to discussing and supporting the 2008 decision. High school students are incredibly educated and emotional over the election, an unexpected fact given that a very small percentage of seniors would be eligible to vote, as a current high school senior would typically not turn 18 until at least December 2008, one mere month short.

So why does the youth seem to be especially involved in this election? Read More

Written for May 2008 issue of Massapequa High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Chief. Position at time: Features editior

One glance of the crowd at a rally for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and it becomes obvious who a vast number of young people are entrusting their votes with come November. College t-shirt bearing supporters are seen in large numbers at rallies for the Illinois Senator, contrary to the crowds of the other Democratic nomination contender New York Sen. Hillary Clinton which have a strong base in the older demographic.

The question on many people’s lips seems to be why are so many of the under 30 voters drawn to Senator Obama? While it is impossible to pinpoint what exactly about Obama attracts younger voters, his personality most assuredly has something to do with it. Read More

Written for May 2008 issue of Massapequa High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Chief. Position at time: Features editior

Like many Demetri Martin fans, I settled in front of the television, ready to watch highly anticipated premiere episode of Important Things with Demetri Martin on Comedy Central, ready to think and then laugh. (Although admittedly not live—why bother with commercials when you can fast forward right through them with DVR?) Famous for his “nerd humor” with smart one-liners that need to briefly resonate before hitting you like a kid launched off a see-saw by a fat friend, paired with wide-eyed, dead-panned delivery, Martin and his “LARGE PAD” aim to please, and they succeed. Sort of. Read More