Community Announcements

STOP: High School Actors Tackle Tough Social Issues to Benefit Their Peers

STOP - Students Tackling Ordinary Problems - will perform at Somerville High School Tuesday, May 23 at 7 pm. Credits: Courtesy STOP
STOP - Students Rackling Ordinary Problems - will perform at Somerville High School Tuesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. Credits: Courtesy STOP
STOP - Students Rackling Ordinary Problems - will perform at Somerville High School Tuesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. Credits: Courtesy STOP
STOP - Students Rackling Ordinary Problems - will perform at Somerville High School Tuesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. Credits: Courtesy STOP


SOMERVILLE, NJ – Life is often tough and troubled for middle and high school students. Day-to-day routine in middle and high school classrooms and hallways is anything but.

Start with peer pressure.

Conflicts, crises, confrontation pop up like images in a slide show. Problems, incubate and fester; too often, young minds are ill-equipped for logic; instead, they are driven by emotion, leading to knee-jerk reactions and poor choices.

Sign Up for E-News

The pressure for some is enormous, torn between homework and heroin; geometry and gender identity; chemistry and cyber bullying; baseball and binge drinking; marching band or marijuana.

An incisive troupe of young actors and actresses who perform regularly throughout New Jersey are dealing with those issues and others with tough talk and genuine solutions.

STOP – Students Tackling Ordinary Problems - will return to the stage at Somerville High School Tuesday at 7 p.m. May 23 for a street-smart, in-your-face production that deals with a myriad of social issues that confront teens.

The performance, recommended for students 11 and older, as well as parents and families, is presented by Somerset County Youth Services, the Branchburg Recreation Department, the Igloo Collective and AT&T   Admission is free.

A question-and-answer session will follow the one-hour performance.

STOP meets a minimum of three hours per week to craft their scripts so that they are fresh, relevant and appeal to the peers in their audiences. Most of the actors have spent five years in the Branchburg Recreation Department theater program, explains founder and director Deena Meene.

Meene, an actress who graduated college with a theater degree, directed several traditional Broadway shows with the students in that program and responded to their desire to continue acting.

The STOP group formed in 2007 and has continued non-stop, with an infusion of new talent each year to replace those who graduate high school and move on to college or careers.

“We are an educational, traveling theater company that tours to high schools, middle schools and other community and religious organizations to raise awareness about current, social issues our youth faces,” Meene said.

No sugar coating, unfiltered, it’s as real as it gets.

There are no elaborate sets or staging to distract from the message being delivered by the young actors.

Mary Beth Ferris, director of the Branchburg Recreation Department, has seen the show more than a few times and likens the experience to “getting punched in the gut.”

Meene said that is a typical reaction.

“The Montville recreation director told me it was like ‘getting shot between the eyes,’ ‘’ Meene said.

“A friend of mine, a school counselor and psychologist at Voorhees High School says every time we go there, a handful of kids that are made aware through the show that they are in crisis come forward and speak to him; they might have slipped under the radar otherwise.”

Other anecdotes include that of a troubled high school senior, a girl with a bad reputation, often in trouble, cynical, involved in everything and anything that was not good, who sat through the show, and afterwards, in class, stood up and told her classmates:

“Iif I had seen that show when I was a freshmen I would have made a lot of different choices,” Meene said. “It’s good the kids on stage to hear their efforts are not for naught.”

Some of the issues tackled on stage by STOP are anecdotal, based on the experiences of the young actors, according to Meene.

Everything is well-researched; realism is a top priority.

“Our approach is very honest in the way we present each of these scenes. We do not shy away from the hard cold facts, and with that, often times comes more "colorful" language. Audience responses are consistently the same though - lots of praise, gratitude and awareness being raised which is our ultimate goal,” Meene said.

The one-hour drama draws on a list of several scenarios:

Suicide and depression; self-harm heroin & opiates; sexual assault; body Image and eating disorders; binge drinking; drinking & driving; distracted driving; bullying & cyber-bullying; inappropriate picture messaging; teen pregnancy; sex; sexuality and gender identity; school-related violence.

“The script is a constant work in progress as our goal is to keep it as current as possible,” Meene said.

She estimates the troupe has presented the show to audiences throughout the state 100 times over the past ten years. The issues haven’t changed much, but their immediacy does.

Currently at the forefront are issues dealing with heroin and bullying, according to the founder and director.

“The really big thing right now is heroin, it’s all over the place; it’s always existed, but it’s a real epidemic and it’s on the rise,” she said. “People weren’t talking about it the way they are now.”

The way kids bully each other, with technology and the social media, it’s become so dangerous.”

 Somerville High School is at 222 Davenport St. The entrance to the auditorium is off Orchard Street.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Warren Township to Collect Winter Storm Quinn Tree Debris

March 15, 2018

WARREN, NJ - The Department of Public Works of Warren Township will be collecting tree and brush debris from all Warren Township residents in the aftermath of Winter Storm Quinn.

Due to the intense effects of Storm Quinn that impacted Warren Township on March 7, the Township Committee has authorized and directed the DPW to. begin the collection process ...

Somerset County Opens Emergency Shelter for Storm Victims at RVCC

BRANCHBURG, NJ – Due to the extended power outages in Somerset County as a result of Winter Storm Quinn and the expected cold temperatures over the next few days, the Somerset County Office of Emergency Management has partnered with the American Red Cross to open a shelter for county residents at Raritan Valley Community College.

The shelter opened as of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, ...

Update from Warren Office of Emergency Management on Saturday, Mar. 10

WARREN, NJ - The Warren Township Office of Emergency Management has provided a timeline and Jane Asch at Warren’s Office of Emergency Management has updated storm recovery information as of 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10 with the following:



The most pressing issue is restoration of power. It may be helpful to understand the triage system both JCP&L and ...

Storm Watch: Closings, Cancellations and Postponements

WARREN, NJ - The snow has started to fall. The National Weather Service is forecasting as much as 8 to 12 inches of snow to accumulate across the northern half of New Jersey and Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency.

The Warren Township Municipal Building and the Warren Library are closed today, Wednesday, Mar. 7 due to the storm. Watchung Borough offices and ...

North Plainfield High School Alumni Association 2018 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Set for April 21,

March 18, 2018

The North Plainfield High School Alumni Association is holding its 2018 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday April 21, 2018 at North Plainfield High School from 2:00-5:00 p.m.

The 2018 Hall of Fame inductees include:

• Frederick Sheeler, Class of ’63 – Community Service

• Robert Kirchberger, Class of ’65 – ...

Center for Great Expectations Celebrating 20th Anniversary

SOMERSET, NJ - The Center for Great Expectations, a non-profit organization, is celebrating 20 years of providing substance use and mental health treatment for women and adolescents who are homeless, pregnant or parenting.

According to a release, the goals of the program are to guide women through their pregnancies, ensure proper care, increase the likelihood of a healthy baby and provide the ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, March 19, 7:15 PM

WHRHS Media Center, Warren

WHRHS PTO meeting



Sat, April 14, 7:00 PM


Support Watchung Hills Project Graduation: SIP ...


South Plainfield – Joanne Gallo, 68, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Warren, NJ, passed away ...
Read more

AAA Cautions: Daylight Saving Could Affect Daily Commute

March 10, 2018

WARREN, NJ - AAA is reminding drivers that the change to Daylight Saving Time may create distractions on the roadway and challenges for drivers who lost an hour of sleep. Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday at 2 a.m.

“As we spring forward, drivers should be aware that the time change will also mean changes to driving habits,” said Robert Sinclair, Manager of Media ...

Fairytale Marriage Proposal Takes Center Stage at St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 17, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – A surprise engagement took center stage at last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Somerville. In the midst of the March 11 festivities, Piscataway resident Steven Verardi boarded a float and popped the question to his girlfriend Elise Latona, marking the first known engagement to take place at the parade in 27 years.

Since opening The Beauty Bar ...

Somerset County Student Escorted from School; Loaded Gun Found in Backpack

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - A 17-year-old high school student was escorted from school yesterday by police who found a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol in his back pack along with narcotics, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Robertson said the initial investigation by law enforcement revealed that there were no known threats to the students or faculty; he commended the ...

Somerville: Students Make a Statement about School Safety and Eulogize Florida Shooting Victims

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Hundreds of Somerville High School students participated in the National School Walkout Wednesday morning to pay their respects to the 17 victims of last month’s mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. and to draw attention to the issue of students' safety while in school.

The students gathered outdoors on the track in front ...

Danielsen Holds First in Series of Marijuana Hearings

SOMERSET COUNTY, NJ - Lifelong Franklin resident, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17 Middlesex/Somerset), chairman of the Assembly Oversight, Reform, and Federal Relations Committee is leading discussions regarding legalized marijuana in New Jersey. 

Danielsen's committee heard testimony for several hours regarding the impact of expanding legalized marijuana Monday, March 5.

Local Travel Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day - Calm Family Events to Drinking Shots from...Nevermind

March 17, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day is coming upon us even faster than St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.  Here are some of the areas great events to celebrate Irish pride.

March 17 Events

Hoboken - The Nerds at Willie McBride’s (see poster up in the slide show)

Newton - Sober St. Patrick’s Day Gathering

Newton (parade) - Sussex County St. Patrick's Day ...

After a Couple Painful Travel Days the New York City Area Airports Are Returning to Normal

After a couple of difficult travel days, the local airports are returning to normal.  The FAA is reportin only 10 to 15 minute delays.  Allow extra times for the commute to the airport and you should be fine.

Just keep these ideas and links fresh in mind for future travels.  You may even want to bookmark the page for future reference.

Most Airlines now offer ...

Air Travel Disruptions - Newark and Laguardia Airports Are Reporting Delays of 1 to 2 Hours.

The weather continues to play havoc on local air travel.  Newark is reporting average delays of 1 hour 41 minutes and LaGuardia is experiencing 59 minute delays.

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight delays.  Make sure to sign up for them.  That will be your fastest way to get notifications. Also, make sure to ...

St. Patrick’s Day Sobriety Check in Belmar/Neptune Area on Tap by State Police

March 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Giving no details on location and time, New Jersey State Police plans to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, March 17 in the area of Belmar and Neptune Township,

The state police made the announcement on its Facebook page, alerting motorists that state troopers will be pulling over vehicles at this undisclosed location and time  “looking for signs of ...