SING Recap: Senior Sophomore Victory!

By James Tonrey and Brandon Marks | November 27th, 2018


          “SSV! JFV!” Cheers turned to silence as the curtains opened, revealing this year’s celebrity guest. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen”, Bob Wolf greeted the audience with a booming voice. The crowd went wild. Within a few moments, the victor of this year’s SING competition would be announced. Hundreds of exhausted Techies could barely contain their excitement.

It had been a long and exhausting couple of days, filled with challenges and surprises. A winter storm hampered turnout on opening night, putting a damper on the spirit that typically surrounds the show. An unprecedented decision by the Department of Education to cancel all after-school activities on Friday completely ignored the notion that “the show must go on”. Although Friday night’s performance was rescheduled for Saturday morning, the challenge wasn’t over yet. The cast and crew would have to put on two performances in one day, a daunting task.

          Despite the unusual circumstances surrounding this year’s SING!, students remained highly motivated and enthusiastic— perhaps even more so than usual. As many were saying, “Well, the show must go on.” The Senior-Sophomore team put on a spectacular performance of “My Big Fat Greek SING!”, which followed the journey of the citizens of Clawsonopolis as they rebelled against a repressive regime of Greek gods and goddesses. Members of the audience pointed to the team’s stunning costumes, gripping plot, and perfect choreography when asked what they enjoyed about the show. The Junior-Freshman team put on an equally amazing performance of “iSpy”, which followed the story of S.P.I.E.S., a failing spy agency, as new recruits worked to bring the agency back to prominence with their enthusiasm and talents. Audience members expressed delightment at the team’s elaborate costumes and the humorous moments that characterized the show.

          We sat down with some students involved in the performance to get a behind-the-scenes look into what went into making this year’s SING as successful as it was, despite all the challenges thrown in its way. Aya Osman, a senior who played Hera in the Senior Sophomore show, commented on the sense of unity that she believes set this year apart from all of the other years she has been involved in SING. “Both teams encouraged each other even though the nature of the competition doesn’t typically foster that type of camaraderie.” This sentiment was echoed by just about everyone else we talked with. Darren Yao, a member of the Tech Crew, helped control stage operations and special effects for all three shows and said he was “most impressed by the sportsmanship exhibited by everyone involved.” This level of respect between teams was epitomized when after the Senior Sophomores were announced victors, the Junior Freshman team began to root for them, cheering “SSV! SSV! SSV!”

          Perhaps the most evident thing about this year’s SING! performance was the burning passion held by all of the students involved. When asked for comment, Meghna Wagley, the Senior-Sophomore Liaison, said “As liaison, I am lucky enough to experience both sides of the show, as a leader and as an ensemble member. Getting to know every single person in the cast allows me to confidently say that this is the most serious, focused, and committed group of SING kids I have ever worked with. I am so proud of each and every one of us.” Junior-Freshman Liaison Vincenza Deserio reflected, “Our performance truly evoked a sense of love and passion for SING, filled with intense and energetic dance numbers, hearty and humorous acting moments, and outstanding vocals. Our show came straight from the heart.”

          While the Senior-Sophomore team ultimately walked away with the trophy Saturday night, everyone involved in SING this year was a winner in some shape or form. In persisting through a few big surprises and surviving the daunting challenge of putting on two shows in one day, this year’s SING participants truly demonstrated the validity of Bob Wolf’s trademark acronym for SING: Song Inspiring Future Generations.

SING Preview

Who will prevail? SSV or JFV? Come watch SING this week for a night of entertainment and school spirit!

By James Tonrey | November 14th, 2018


          It’s that time of year again— hundreds of dedicated Tech students will put their talents together this weekend for yet another amazing SING performance! SING is arguably the largest extracurricular activity here at Tech. Each year, two teams of students compete against each other, each one striving to put on the “best” performance. The process is completely student-run— from playwriting to stage design and everything in between. Of course, the production wouldn’t be possible, though, without the unwavering dedication and support of faculty advisors, Ms. Brown (Theater), Mr. Rams (Orchestra), Mr. Ferrigno (Stage Crew), and Mr. Van Buren (Tech Crew). There’s certainly an opportunity for every student to get involved in the show, whether on stage, in the orchestra pit, or behind the scenes with Stage Crew or Tech Crew. This year, the Seniors will be paired up with the Sophomores (SSV), and the Juniors with the Freshmen (JFV).

          The Senior-Sophomore team will be putting on a production of “My Big Fat Greek SING!”. The show takes a unique spin on the Greek gods and goddesses that we all know of by portraying them in the light of elected officials. To follow the journey of the citizens of Clawsonopolis as they rebel against the corrupt rule of the gods, you’re going to have to come see the performance for yourself. But rest assured, you won’t leave disappointed! According to many of the cast members I spoke with, this performance is going to be phenomenal. I asked SSV liaison, Meghna Wagley, why she believes her cast has what it takes to win this year’s SING event. She replied “We all care about and are devoted to SING. Getting to know every single person in the cast allows me to confidently say that this is the most serious, focused, and committed group of SING kids I have ever worked with. I am so proud of each and every one of us and I know that we have all that we need in our disposal to win.”

          The Junior-Freshman team will be performing “iSpy”. Their show follows the story of S.P.I.E.S., a failing spy agency, as new recruits attempt to bring the agency back to prominence with their enthusiasm and talents. Will S.P.I.E.S. ever be able to defeat its   rivals, Charlie and the Angles, though? Come to SING one night this weekend to find out! Cast members have repeatedly convinced me that this show will not be something you want to miss. When I asked JFV liaison, Vincenza Deserio, why she believes her cast has what it takes to ultimately win SING this year, she explained “This performance truly evokes a sense of love and passion for SING, filled with intense and energetic dance numbers, hearty and humorous acting moments and outstanding vocals. Our show comes straight from the heart.”

          SING will begin on Thursday night and the winning team will be decided by judges on Saturday night. Tickets are on sale at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3819542 for $15 per person. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door each night. Let’s band together to show our amazing students our support by selling out each performance. Months of hard work have been put into making this show a success, and no audience member is likely to leave the performance disappointed. Happy SING!

How Did Life End Up on Earth?

By Ashley Indictor

Is Earth the only planet in the universe that contains life? Scientists and philosophers for millennia have debated how life developed on Earth, coming up with several hypotheses and theories. One possible explanation is the theory of panspermia, in which a comet or other celestial body brought life to Earth (Hardy, 2014).

Figure 2. Microscopic view of a tardigrade (Pickett, 2015)

As far as we know, no other moon or planet in our solar system (i.e., the Sun, its planets, their moons, and all asteroids, comets, and rocks) has life on it. Although moons like Titan and Enceladus could harbor life (simple organic life forms), and Mars is theorized to have once supported life, Earth is the only planet in the Solar System we can call “living” (NASA, 2017). About 4 billion years ago, Earth underwent a period of heavy bombardment where it was barraged with asteroids and comets (Kaufman, 2017). The earliest evidence of life on Earth dates back 3.83 billion years, coinciding with the period of such violent event (2017). One explanation for this eerie overlap is that one or more of these millions of comets and asteroids carried life from somewhere else and brought it to Earth when it crashed on the surface (2017).

It is not too far-fetched to believe that these lifeforms survived space’s harsh climate. After all, some organisms on Earth can survive temperatures as low as -18°C and as high as 113°C, even after being preserved in liquid nitrogen at -196°C (Joshi, 2008). Tardigrades (see Figure 2), for instance, can live in these extreme temperatures, and can even survive many days at low Earth orbit while being exposed to a space vacuum and harmful radiation (Bradford, 2017). Tardigrades are living proof that life can be carried across space and survive until it reaches a celestial body. This further indicates the possibility of life coming from somewhere else.

Figure 3. Bacterial spore (National Academy of Sciences, 2018)

An additional consideration is that bacteria could have entered Earth through bacterial spores [see Figure 3], as they can survive without nutrients (Joshi, 2008). Bacterial spores have protective bodies that allow bacteria to carry DNA while withstanding conditions that would normally kill them (Cornell, n.d.). Furthermore, bacteria are famous for their ability to survive in extreme conditions and even campuses about one-third of Earth’s biomass (total mass of organisms on Earth) (Joshi, 2008). The German Aerospace Centre found that it is possible bacterial spores can travel within comets or meteorites (2008).

Overall, we still do not know the true origin of life. While the theory of panspermia is possible, more research must be conducted to reach an answer. Perhaps it will take another thousand years before we figure it out.

 

References:

  • Bradford, A. (2017). Facts about tardigrades. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/57985-tardigrade-facts.html
  • Cornell. Bacterial endospores. (n.d.). Cornell University. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://micro.cornell.edu/research/epulopiscium/bacterial-endospores
  • Hardy, D. A., [digital image]. (2014). The Late Heavy Bombardment ends: Impact events. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/earth/earth_timeline/late_heavy_bombardment
  • Joshi, S. (2008). Northwestern University. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/origin-life-panspermia-theory
  • NASA astrobiology. (n.d.). NASA. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/news/in-search-of-panspermia/
  • Pickett, R. [digital image] (2015). National Geographic. What the world’s toughest animal is
  • really made of. Retrieved May 14, 2018, from https://news.nationalgeographic com/2015/11/151128-animals-tardigrades-water-bears-science-dna/
  • Smith, C. [digital image] (2017). National Geographic. These ‘indestructible’ animals would survive a planet-wide apocalypse. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/tardigrades-water-bears-extinction-earth-science
  • National Academy of Sciences. [digital image] (2017). National Academy of Sciences Retrieved on April 30, 2018, from http://m.pnas.org/content/106/46/19334/F1.expansion.html
  • Solar System exploration: In depth. (2017). Nasa.gov. Retrieved from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/saturn-moons/in-depth/

Dogs And Us

By Samantha Sabah via Tech Science Times

Dogs are often called man’s best friend, and there’s a good reason why. Dogs and humans share a long history together, especially since dogs are one of the first animals humans have ever domesticated (Fogle, 1995). Dogs have adapted to their “new” companionship with humans, for better or worse.

Thousands of years ago, dogs didn’t exist; the most similar animal to a dog back then was the wolf, which is now the dog’s closest relative (1995). The similarities between dogs and wolves are evident, noted in their abilities to form relationships, natural instincts to form a social hierarchy, and similar anatomical structures (1995). These features give us a hint as to why the wolves came to be domesticated by humans. Wolves hunt when they need to, but at their core, they are scavengers, and were tempted by the scraps found at prehistoric human campsites (1995). These campsites lured them to areas with less competition, fewer predators, and a more stable supply of food (1995). As wolves were increasingly drawn into the human sphere, those that were smaller and more sociable thrived, and overtime only these wolves lived around people, with each generation after them shrinking in size and being naturally friendlier (1995). These changes are considered part of natural selection, since we did not directly manipulate the genetics of these now domesticated “dogs”; they naturally evolved into the best traits based on their new environment (1995). However, after this, we took advantage of this natural process and started to selectively breed these dogs, who, over time, became more diverse from wolves and even others of their kind (1995).

The most significant differences between modern day dogs and wolves may not be apparent. Most of the time, people obtained the traits they wanted by breeding dogs who displayed them. Some traits were emphasized, phased out, or kept based on the roles people wanted their canine companions to perform. For example, the act of barking isn’t usually seen in grown wolves. This trait was extended into adulthood for dogs to warn their humans of possible dangers. Their “pack mentality,” enhanced senses, and ability to hunt in a team made them great guards and hunting companions for us. This development has occurred around the world, even in isolated areas like the Americas (1995). It can be said that dogs were seen as companions during more ancient and less modern times as well; throughout the centuries these loyal animals have provided us comfort, especially since they themselves seem to enjoy spending time with us. However, this particular behavioral trait wasn’t as important to people as it is now.

Back then, dogs weren’t typically bred for looks. They were designed for efficiency and health to get the most work out of them. It wasn’t until the 1800s with the

A diagram of the bulldog’s squished face structure (“Bruiser”, n.d.)

introduction of dog shows did people start to care about what breed of dog they acquired and what they should look like. According to The Encyclopedia of Dogs, the Kennel Club that was created in England in 1873 (1995) started to regulate the types of dogs allowed in these highly popular dog shows. This started a new precedent by specifically identifying canines by breed. After the club set up guidelines for how certain traits should look on certain dogs in order to win contests, the most severe of modern genetic defects in dogs began to take form. As a result, inbreeding for these traits then weakened breeds as a whole. If humans didn’t continue to interfere with nature, these traits would have been phased out, unable to compete with healthier specimens. Now, there is a number of dog breeds that suffer from a lack of genetic variety in more beneficial traits. The best example for this phenomenon is seen with the English bulldog (see figure 2). Bulldogs were traditionally bred to attack bulls, but the “breed-club standards emphasized the size of the head.”(1995). This led to problems during birth because their heads were unable to fit through their mother’s birth canal. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only possible problem. Its elongated palate, or roof of the mouth, causes breathing and heart problems; its crowded teeth can lead to oral diseases, and the excessive skin folds are vulnerable to infections (1995). That isn’t to say we should just let the bulldog, or any other breed, die because of possible ailments, just that breeders have to be careful while breeding since it could lead to huge health problems in the offspring. Another possible solution might include crossing these dogs with different breeds who don’t share similar diseases, thus reducing the chance of a detrimental gene getting passed on.

Looking around at all the dogs that have filled a niche in our society, every single one of them has had their lives shaped by humans. Dogs rely on us, and we love them, but is breeding them for “special” features that ultimately can make them very sick properly conveying our love? Does breeding have to contain the risk of genetic defects? Humans have been breeding healthy canines for millennia, and our growing understanding of DNA can only aide what we know is beneficial. We can help our furry brethren long into the future.

References

  • Andrews, B. J. (n.d). [digital image]. How dogs changed human evolution. Evolution of Meat Eaters. Retrieved December 4, 2017, from http://www.thedogplace.org/Genetics/Dogs-Changed Evolution_Andrews-08.asp
  • Wysong, M. & Wysong, E. (n.d). [digital image]. Why the overdone, heavy wrinkled bulldog is killing the breed. BruiserBullDogs.com. Retrieved December 4, 2017, from http://bruiserbulldogs.com/why-the-overdone-heavy-wrinkled-bulldog-is-killing-the-breed/
  • Fogle, B. (1995). The encyclopedia of the dog. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.

Painting with a Punch!

Written by Pamela Stark

This past Saturday, Mrs. Sanguinedo and Mrs. Sokolovski of Staten Island Technical High School coordinated Tech’s first ever “Painting with a Punch” event. As a partnership between the school and the arts program at Sundog Theatre, “Painting with a Punch” brought together students, parents, and faculty alike in an evening full of laughs, food, painting, and, of course, punch.

“These kinds of events are becoming more and more popular,” commented Mrs. Sokolovski, the advisor of the Art Club and one of the event organizers, “You spend time with friends and loved ones, and at the end, you get to take home a beautiful painting to serve as a memory or a gift.”

Indeed, the spirits at Tech’s painting extravaganza were high: the cafeteria was filled with joyous chatter as the guests, sipping on their hot chocolate, attempted to recreate a winter wonderland scene with the direction of Samuel Vega. A look at the works of art, despite the similar subject matter, revealed very distinct scenes and art styles. One student’s painting featured a lime green sky contrasting a foreground of vivid blue pines. When asked to comment on her painting, she replied, “Something went very wrong.”

 

A unique illustration – Photo Credits: Pamela Stark

But, as in the words of Victoria Colella, the Arts and Education Manager at Sundog Theatre, there is no right way to art.

“Art really allows you to tap into your creative side,” Victoria explained, referring to the dozens of unique works-in-progress. “It is entirely subjective. It looks like how you want it to look- there is no right or wrong.”

It is with this mindset that the original founders of Sundog Theatre created their nonprofit organization. Their purpose? To bring art in all forms to the schools of Staten Island. Sundog Theatre provides enrichment programs in dance, theater, playwriting, and the fine arts to schools all over the island. As stated by Samuel Vega, their program attempts to rejuvenate the art scene and keep people involved in art.

“Events like this are important because access to art isn’t as widespread as it once was,” noted Vega. “We are trying to keep people involved and passionate about the arts. We want people to enrich themselves and pursue more creative endeavors in their life.”

Beyond providing the participants with a way to tap into their creative side, the event functioned as a fundraiser for Staten Island Tech’s Art Club. Over the last couple of years, the art program has lost some of its funding. Previously, the after school art program in Tech was able to welcome a professional artist to provide instruction for the members of the program. This year, however, the program lost its grant for a teaching artist.

“We’re doing all we can to bring back the program to Staten Island Tech,” explains Mrs. Sanguinedo. “Between this event and the Bake Sale later this year, we’re hoping that we will be able to reintroduce this essential part of the program.”

Thankfully, the evening ends in high hopes for the Art Club, as “Painting with a Punch” seems to have been wildly successful. As the event draws to a close, people come together to admire each other’s work and to take pictures with one another. It is evident that the evening’s experiences will long be engraved in the minds of all those who attended.

The Sundog Theatre representatives – Photo Courtesy of Pamela Stark

Mrs. Sokolovski comments: “I am incredibly happy with how the event turned out, and I hope we are able to bring it back next year. This has been an amazing experience for everyone, and I hope it brings more people to our Art Club meetings after school.”

For more information about the art program at Tech, contact Mrs. Sanguinedo and Mrs. Sokolovski. For more information about Sundog Theatre and their programs, visit www.sundogtheatre.org.