We recently interviewed Ms. Waters, a Spanish teacher here at Jericho Middle School. She co-advises the Gay/Straight Alliance Club with Mrs. Brill, and we had some questions for her.
1. What is the purpose of the GSA?
The purpose is to educate students and the community about issues related to the
LGBTQ community. Also, it’s a chance to provide a safe space to ask questions and
share stories and experiences. We also have lots of fun!
2. Who does it help? How does it help these students?
I believe it helps the entire school community through education and we also bring
visibility to the LGBTQ community.
3. Have you seen changes at JMS since you started the club?
Yes, more and more students and staff are open about sharing their own real world
experiences about this topic. I also feel that students feel safer and freer to be
4. How long has the GSA been in existence here at JMS?
I started the club about 13 years ago.
5. What is your favorite part about GSA?
I love to see students get to be their authentic selves with nothing to hide. As the students say, "The GSA is
more than a club, it’s a family!"
JMS performed the musical, Annie Jr. this past December. We interviewed the three teachers who started it all. First, we met with the Co-Advisors, Mrs. Scalera and Mrs. Dell'Erba. Then, we met with the Music Coordinator, Mr. Verderber.
Q: Why did you pick Annie Jr. as the play?
Mrs. Scalera: Because we knew we had a lot of talented people and we wanted a big cast.
Mrs. Dell'Erba: It's a classic that everyone likes and we knew that there were a lot of talented girls who would want to play Annie.
Q: What inspired you to become teachers?
Mrs. S: My High School English teacher inspired me and I wanted to combine my love of reading and my enjoyment of being in front of people.
Mrs. D: I love to read and write, and I wanted to show that to people.
Mr. Verderber: I've always loved singing, especially in Chorus - since I was in Elementary School. I had a great High School Chorus teacher who gave me many opportunities to sing and inspired me to be a teacher.
Q: What type of people are you looking for in order to perform in the play(s)?
Mrs. S: We are looking for people who sing well, speak clearly, and are unafraid to try new things.
Mrs. D: We are looking for people who are outgoing, who can speak clearly, and are able to act and sing.
Mr. V: When we look for students to be in the ensemble, we want students who are not only strong singers, but who can also act out what they are singing while they are on stage.
Q: What were your favorite things to do during your childhood?
Mrs. S: My favorite things to do were to read, act and travel.
Mrs. D: I loved to read, play the flute, and I loved going to Broadway shows.
Mr. V: I loved being in shows and participating in all sorts of musical events.
Q: If you couldn't be teachers, what career would you have chosen?
Mrs. S: I would have become an actress.
Mrs. D: I would have become a publisher.
Mr. V: That's tough because I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a music teacher. I guess I would have liked being a chef, because I love to cook at home.
Q: How long have you taught at Jericho?
Mrs. S: I have been teaching in Jericho for 24 years.
Mrs. D: I have been teaching in Jericho for 24 years. This is my 25th.
Mr. V: This is my 23rd year teaching in the Jericho School District.
Q: Were you ever in, or did you ever audition for any plays?
Mrs. S: Yes, I was in a lot of plays.
Mrs. D: No, unfortunately not, but I helped backstage and played in the orchestra when it was a musical.
Mr. V: Yes, in Junior High, High School, and College too.
Q: What was the greatest amount of people in a play here at Jericho?
Mrs. S and Mrs. D: 35 people
Question for Mrs. Scalera and Mrs. Dell'Erba: Which one is harder to direct, a play or a musical?
Mrs. S: A play, because students are more motivated in musicals than in plays.
Mrs. D: A play, because it's just making students more focused on their parts.
Question for Mr. Verderber: Whose job do you think is harder, yours or Mrs. Scalera's and Mrs. Dell'Erba's?
Mr. V: Mrs. Scalera and Mrs. Dell'Erba coordinate everything for the show. I just have to worry about the music. I don't think one is necessarily harder than the other, but they have many more things to keep track of for the production.
Dear Problem Solvers,
I have two close friends who I would consider to be my best friends. We have all been friends since elementary school. When we were young, we all got along and spent time together as a group of three, but since middle school there has been a lot of conflict between us.
It seems like we can never feel equally close to each other – one person always seems to feel left out by the others. No one is purposely trying to exclude anyone in our group, but it always ends up feeling that way for the person feeling like the “outsider.”
I used to love our friendship, but now it is causing me a lot of stress. This jealousy within our group is ruining our friendship and taking the fun out of everything we do. I don’t know the answer to how to make this better and wonder if a group of three will ever work. Sometimes I feel like just dropping out of this friendship group altogether but I really care about my friends. Please give me some advice – I just don’t know what to do!
“Is Three Always A Crowd?”
Dear “Is Three A Crowd”,
It sounds like this constant conflict is really stressing you out and taking the joy out of your friendship. Groups of three can be very difficult to manage if there are feelings of insecurity or jealousy.
The first thing you could try is to have an honest sit down with your friends to talk about the tension among you. Each friend would have to take an honest look at what they do to contribute to this problem instead of just blaming it on the others. All of you would have to make changes to fix this problem so that each group member can feel included and secure as part of this friendship group.
Another possibility would be to add more friends to this group to change the group dynamic. There might be someone you know in school who is looking to make new friendships, or a new student in school could be looking to connect. Sometimes having more friends in a group cuts down on those fears of being left out.
If none of these solutions seem to work for you and you continue to feel unhappy, you could consider branching out and spending some time with another group of friends. See if there is another group of students who have found a way to be friends in a more relaxed manner without so much drama. If you find yourself feeling happy and stress free, you will know that is the right group for you.
The Problem Solvers
By Eric Z.
National History Day is a competition where students can learn about events in history and can make fun projects doing it. NHD started in 1974 and has only grown into something better every year. The options for the projects are exhibits, documentaries, papers, performances, and websites. Every year there is a different theme. This year’s theme is conflict and compromise.
Past examples include women’s rights, slavery, the civil war, and so many more. I am working on this with my partner, Karam. We are doing an exhibit on Alcatraz prison reform because it has always interested us and we think it can fit well with the theme. We have a great friendship and it will bring us even closer because we are working on it together.
In conclusion, NHD is very exciting and it looks good for college. I recommend it to everyone because it is a wonderful experience.
Update: This year’s NHD was held on January 12. As usual, it was a successful event enjoyed by students, staff, and parents.
By Rishab B. and Anshul V.
Have you ever heard of Hydrodynamics? Hydrodynamics is the branch of physics that deals with the motion of fluids.
We are a part of an organization called FLL (First Lego League). FLL is a non-profit organization that encourages science, technology, and robotics to young children, as well as inspiring them to come up with solutions to ongoing conflicts in the world. Examples include food safety, electricity, and animals. For the Robotics, there are a variety of challenges concerning water, which must be completed by a lego robot on a playing field. To win, you have to score the most points in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. This year, FLL is teaching us about Hydrodynamics. We have to try and find solutions for problems relating to the transportation, sanitation, and disposal of water. One of our possible ideas are bacteria detection, dam efficiency, or tap water control.
As a part of hydrodynamics this year, we spoke to a volunteer from WaterAid. WaterAid is a non-profit organization which means all of their funding comes from donations. We also collaborated with Dr. Wilson from Brooklyn College, Brendan from the U.S. Department of Geological Survey, Nassau County Department of Water, and Suffolk County Department of Water.
As part of our core values, we also started a Water Week at JMS, where we will spread awareness about the water crisis through many activities like Wear Blue Day, Walk for Water, and QR Treasure hunt.
Going forward, we hope to continue creating new projects for water treatment and initiate community service projects in Jericho. Hydrodynamics is not just a one year thing, it is an ongoing problem in the world that will never fully be solved, only improved.