Education

WHRHS Hosts Discussion of "I Am Malala"

64ef083497d40d1de90b_image.jpg
A school-wide summer reading assignment, "I Am Malala," that was discussed by English and Social Studies classes on Thursday, Sept. 24. Credits: Denis J. Kelly
64ef083497d40d1de90b_image.jpg

 

WARREN, NJ -  Students in English and Social Studies classes in all four grades at Watchung Hills Regional High School participated on Thursday, Sept. 24, in an interdisciplinary discussion about the school-wide summer reading selection, “I Am Malala,” by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Malala Yousafzai, 18.

Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai appeared at the Global Citizen Festival, Saturday, Sept. 26, in New York City. Included among the many who attended the festival was Watchung Hills Junior Alayna Mocarsky of Green Brook Township, who just two days before that had participated, along with her fellow classmates, in the discussion at Watchung Hills about I Am Malala.


“The Memoir, ’I Am Malala,’ was selected as the school-wide read based on its connection to current events and its cross-curricular appeal,” said Mary Ellen Phelan, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Watchung Hills.

Sign Up for E-News

English Department supervisor Marlene Stoto and Social Studies supervisor Anita Falvo, who organized the “I Am Malala” discussions, said that in addition to mixing the different subject areas -- English and Social Studies -- classes from different years were also mixed. For instance, in some cases, freshmen were mixed with juniors, sophomores were mixed with seniors, and so on. The idea was to allow for an even greater mix of perspective.

Yousafzai is a native of Pakistan who was shot in the face by Taliban terrorists after she openly advocated for the right of young girls and women in her country and around the world to get an education. She has said she believed this should be considered a universal human right. Her family ran a chain of schools in the Swat Valley of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan. In 2009, when she was 11, and while using a pen name, she wrote a blog for the BBC that reported on the efforts of the Taliban to terrorize her region. Her report also included her views about the importance of safeguarding access to education for girls and women.

On Oct. 9, 2012, while on a school bus, she was confronted by a gunman who pointed a gun at Yousafzai, and fired three times. One bullet struck her in the side of her forehead, traveled under her skin the length of her face, damaged the left side of her brain, and then went into her shoulder. Doctors operated for five hours to respond to swelling in the brain, and to remove the bullet. The bullet had become lodged in her shoulder, near her spinal cord. By Oct. 13, doctors removed her from sedation. Doctors found that she could still move all four limbs. Yousafzai was flown on Oct. 15 to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, for surgery and intensive rehabilitation. She came out of her coma on Oct. 17, and underwent further surgeries to reconstruct her skull and to restore hearing.

By January 2013, she was discharged and by March of that year, she was attending school again, this time at her family’s temporary home in England.
News of the attack received nationwide attention in Pakistan, then international attention at the United Nations and around the world. In the United States, celebrities such as Madonna, spoke in favor of her cause, the right of girls and women to an education. U.S. political leaders, including President Barack Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also spoke out in favor of her cause and in awe of her courage.
By October 2013, a year after the attack, Yousafzai met with Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters in the Oval Office of the White House. She also published the book that Watchung Hills students read this summer. Its full title is: “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”

In 2013, she was also named among the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” by Time Magazine, and was awarded the Pakistan National Youth Peace Prize. She spoke at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, was awarded Honorary Citizenship in Canada, and received an honorary doctorate at The University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia.  

She was named co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi of India, who has advocated against oppressive child labor practices. She has been interviewed about her book, her experiences, and her advocacy for education and empowerment for girls and women on several high profile U.S. television outlets, including CNN, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The White House has announced that after the end of President Obama’s term of office, he and First Lady Michelle Obama would champion efforts to help adolescent girls around the globe through an initiative called, “Let Girl Learn.” For more information about this initiative, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/letgirlslearn.

 

Watchung Hills students viewed recordings of the interviews with Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres during their combined English and Social Studies classes on Sept. 24.
Literature and Social Studies teachers then started the students through a discussion about the book, about the story of Yousafzai’s struggle against the Taliban terrorists, and about her staunch advocacy of the right for girls and women to get an education.
The students were separated into smaller groups to facilitate discussions, and were presented with starter prompt questions and quotations from other advocates against violence, oppression and the denial of rights, including Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Margaret Mead, Elie Wiesel, Martin Niemoller and Nelson Mandela, among others.
Discussion points and opinions were captured on break-out easel sheets and posted on a student-sharing computer site, for reference and prompts during future discussions.
One of the exercises students engaged in on Thursday was to take words found in the quotes of the great leaders, Gandhi King, Wiesel, Mead, Niemoller and Mandela, and fashion them into a “sound poem.” The assignment was to write a poem that captured the feeling they had in response to the experiences they read about in the book, and the subsequent discussions about, “I Am Malala.”

English Supervisor Stoto and Social Studies Supervisor Falvo said that they hoped that the Yousafzai story would yield a variety of future discussion points that went beyond merely English and Social Studies classes. There could be a science/medicine angle because of Yousafzai’s injuries and recovery. There might be angles for geography classes, for language and culture sharing classes, for art classes, for current affairs classes, and for discussions about bullying, terrorism, the empowerment of girls and women, equal rights, human rights, governmental responses, United Nations responses, and the overall importance of education.


In addition, Stoto and Falvo said that for psychology classes, there could be future discussions about the emotional impact of being bullied, of being injured in an assault, of being forced to flee one’s home and become a political refugee. Then for English classes, Stoto said there could be future discussions about non-fiction writing, about journalism, about becoming an author, and becoming internationally famous. Falvo added more discussions could be stimulated in classes talking about social activism, about communication and about community organizing.

Students were asked Thursday if they could think of an issue about which they were so passionate, they would be willing to stand up to a bully, stand up to a criminal, or stand up to a terrorist.


Teachers leading discussions reminded older students of the “Power of One,” which had been a central organizing theme at Watchung Hills for several years. Annually, Watchung Hills students hold discussions, special events, school-wide assemblies and “White Out” days against bullying.


Stoto and Falvo said that going forward, teachers will be looking for more ways to draw into their curriculum relevant references to “I AM Malala,” and what students learned and discussed about Malala Yousefzai.
 

 

Photo caption: From left, seated:  Junior Nick Ugarte of Warren Township, Freshman Victoria Pantagis of Green Brook Township, Freshman Maddie Murphy of Watchung, Sophomore Christina Chavez of Long Hill Township, and Senior Jordan Green of Stirling; and from left, standing, English Supervisor Marlene Stoto, English teacher Jana Battiloro, Social Studies teacher Jamie Lott-Jones, Social Studies teacher Cara Yuknis, English teacher Dan Larkins, Sophomore Michael Waiman of Green Brook Township, Senior Colin Cunningham of Watchung, Junior Alayna Mocarsky of Green Brook Township, and Social Studies Supervisor Anita Falvo.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Warren

It’s Official: Closings, Cancellations and Postponements and No Call in Warren, Watchung Hills Sending Districts and North Plainfield

February 7, 2018

WARREN, NJ - School is open on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The Watchung Hills girls basketball game scheduled against Phillipsburg on Wednesday has been postponed since Phillipsburg has called a snow day. 

In anticipation of inclement weather, the following senior centers operated by the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services will be closed Wednesday, ...

Warrenbrook Senior Center Closes in Anticipation of Storm, No Meals on Wheels

WARREN, NJ - In anticipation of inclement weather, the following senior centers operated by the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services will be closed Wednesday, Feb. 7: Hillsborough, Montgomery, Quail Brook, Warrenbrook and the Senior Wellness Centers in Bernards and Bridgewater.

There will be no Meals on Wheels deliveries on ...

A Celebration of Black History- Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future in North Plainfield

February 15, 2018

Councilwoman Keiona R. Miller will host the 2nd Annual North Plainfield Community Black History Month Event: ‘A Celebration of Black History.’

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  The Honorable Ronald L.  Rice, New Jersey State Senator and Chair of the New Jersey State Legislative Black Caucus.

SPECIAL ...

Watchung Student and Team Take Second in State CyberPatriot Competition

NEW JERSEY -- Three students from Scotch Plains-Fanwood -- along with others from Watchung, Edison, and Maplewood -- successfully completed the CyberPatriot (Cyber Defense) competition.

Anushka Kumar, of Watchung, is a sophomore at Watchung Hills Regional High School.

The students were  comprised of two teams: 1) high school students and 2) ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_2e2e4830042112095f66_94f09724857a937db1ac_d6404e0a-7afd-4279-b56f-19b0f9b2138c

Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House

Tue, March 13, 9:30 AM

Congregation Beth Israel , Scotch Plains

Crisis listening line volunteer listening and ...

Education Giving Back Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_ad6c3c447b5accf3e1a1_3ef0aae34bda175becfa_ptp_save_the_date_-_p1

Fri, March 16, 7:00 PM

The Grove, Cedar Grove

Susan G. Komen North Jersey

Giving Back Other

Obituaries

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

Low-Income Families Who Need Safe Cribs Have Nowhere to Go

February 16, 2018

One recent email came from a pastor in East Orange, sharing the struggles of a young couple who have no safe place for their baby to sleep.

Then, there was also a phone call from a Newark hospital, making its fourth request in two years, as well as a frantic text from Puerto Rico, for a family who lost everything in the hurricane.

They all pleaded for the same thing: A safe crib for a ...

WHRHS Girls Basketball: Watchung Hills Tops East Orange, 44-40

February 12, 2018

EAST ORANGE, NJ - Julia Cunningham recorded a double-double for Watchung Hills with 21 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block to lead the Watchung Hills girls basketball team over East Orange on Monday, 44-40. 

Jayden Baltuch finished with seven points, four assists and one rebound. 

Watchung Hills is now 19-1 on the season and next plays at Newark ...

WHRHS Boys Basketball: Watchung Hills Routs Somerville, 82-54

WARREN, NJ -  Six Warriors scored in the double digits to lead the Watchung Hills boys basketball game over Somerville on Saturday, 82-54.

Mike Hopwood led Watchung Hills with 17 points, Dan Pilsbury added 14 points and eight rebounds, Steven Bressler sunk 15 points, Gavin DeFuria added 13 points, Micheal Bressler got 11 points and 10 assists and Chad Martini chipped in 10 points and ...

Somerset County Preparing for Construction of Finderne Avenue Bridge, Beginning Feb. 20

February 16, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Finderne Avenue bridge, between Union Avenue and Foothill Road, will be under construction from Feb. 20 for about nine months, according to a release from Somerset County.

The bridge will be constructed in three separate stages, with one lane northbound and one lane southbound being maintained, aside from intermittent single-day closures as required. In addition, ...

Bernards Police Locate Body of Missing Township Teen

BERNARDS TWP., NJ -  Bernards Township Police announced late Thursday afternoon that the body of a 19-year-old township resident, Lydia Comtois, had been located in a wooded area of Liberty Corner following a search by personnel and volunteers from numerous public safety organizations. 

A preliminary investigation indicated the young woman's death was not deemed to ...

SCBP Names Somerset County's Outstanding Citizen

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County Business Partnership (SCBP) has selected Alina V. Klein, vice president and senior consultant for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Bedminster as the 68th Somerset County Outstanding Citizen.

The Outstanding Citizen award recognizes a single person for their community and professional activities that have contributed to making Somerset County a special ...

SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library Branch Main Level to Close for Renovations

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The main level of SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library will be closed to patrons February 12 through March 3 for renovations. The lower level of the branch, also known as the children's area, will remain open to the public.

“This is the first phase in an effort to create a more welcome and modern library space for our patrons,” ...

From the New York Toy Fair - Travels Reveals the Toys That Will Make You the Star of Your Child’s Life - the Oscars of the Toy World - the TOTY Awards

February 19, 2018

 As you know, we are here to encourage you to travel.  Unfortunately, the New York Toy Fair is one place virtually none of you can go.  So, unless you have been tirelessly been searching the internet, you are not up to date on what toys your children will be wanting soon.

Fortunately, with Press Correspondent credentials, we were able to go in your place.

Our ...

Coast Guard Ends Search for Fishermen Lost at Sea, Fund Established to Help Family

The U.S. Coast Guard has officially ended its search for the two crew members of the fishing boat that went missing off the coast of Barnegat Light during the early morning hours of February 8.  

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and the fishing community affected by this tragic incident,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, commander of the Coast Guard's ...

Looking for Something to Do? Weekend Events in Somerset County

Things to do in Somerset County

A weekend celebrating Warmer Days!

1. Winter Market, Duke Farms

2. The Mountaintop, Theatre at RVCC - Friday featuring the Peking Acrobats.

3. State Theatre New Jersey - nothing scheduled this weekend - next show Feb 22 

4. Heritage Trail Association - Five Generals House Bus Tour - ...

Coast Guard Ends Search for Fishermen Lost at Sea, Fund Established to Help Family

February 18, 2018

The U.S. Coast Guard has officially ended its search for the two crew members of the fishing boat that went missing off the coast of Barnegat Light during the early morning hours of February 8.  

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and the fishing community affected by this tragic incident,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, commander of the Coast Guard's ...

Third Annual Long Beach Island Job Fair Set for Saturday, March 31

SURF CITY, NJ - Need a job this summer? Look no further. Shore Fire Grille again has teamed up with local businesses in the area for a special summer 2018 Job Fair event. 

The Third Annual LBI Job Fair will take place Saturday, March 31.  Employers will be looking to hire help for the summer season on busy Long Beach Island.  The event will be held at the Surf City Yacht ...

Guest Column: The Great "Wait" of the College Process

February 14, 2018

"The Great Wait" of the College Application Process

For all the high school seniors and their parents, we are in the stressful "waiting period".  We've just finished or are finishing applications to all the schools we might possibly want to attend next year and now sit and wait our fate after the $60-$80 non-refundable application fees to at least 8-13 schools and ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...