liked art and I started playing around with makeup and I got into it using my mom and sister’s makeup and then I started buying my own makeup and practicing on myself.”
Starting off at unblended eye shadow to a colorful cut crease, Aristizabal put her talent to good use and has become an aspiring makeup entrepreneur, bringing in clients of her own and making a profit off of her passion.“I started on my friend just by doing her brows and eye shadow. She helped me and would come in more frequently. After that, a friend paid me to do her ‘Mistletoe’ makeup. I never thought of charging, but I was like ‘okay!’” Starting off on just one friend, her work reached farther than she would have ever imagined, bringing in four other clients for next year. “I was really pleased with the way my makeup turned out,” client and good friend of Aristizabal, Ashley Pena (20), said, “I felt beautiful and glowy the entire night!”
But, this confidence didn’t stem just from anywhere. “The only person that would tell me I wasn’t good enough was myself. But that pushed me to work harder and harder.” She has proven herself to be able to persevere and conquer self-doubt, an essential strategy used by entrepreneurs themselves. She even provided some intel on how to become more confident and successful in her work, which can be applied even outside of makeup. “Well both of my parents are very supportive and support my dream to become a makeup artist, but advice I have is that you don’t need a lot of materials to start with makeup. I started off with a small palette and then grew from there. That saying, ‘practice makes perfect,' is really true.”
in a year long program called Academic Center for Exploratory Students (ACES) to get certified as a library media specialist. She returned to Stamford soon after and began her first job at Heart Magnet Elementary.
The biggest challenge working as an elementary school teacher, according to Boyd, was trying to meet the needs of all of her students, regardless what there academic level was and trying to reach every student equally based on their ability.
“I enjoyed seeing how they grew socially and emotionally from the beginning until the end,” said Boyd.
Transitioning from a school teacher to a librarian seemed daring, but it was an experience Boyd was not scared of. “I wanted a change and a challenge for something different.”
Her average day being at Brien McMahon High School as a librarian include: updating library books, advertising more popular books, helping students with research, and showing them how to find reliable sources.
“It’s not easy because its my first time working as a librarian media specialist… but I love being a librarian because I get to work with multiple teachers and students,” said Boyd.
Her favorite part about working in McMahon is the, “diversity and school spirit.”
One thing she would tell the students in this school is, “Always believe in yourself, you would be surprised in what you accomplish.” She seems to love working in a high school were the diversity is different and more challenging.
On October 15th, students in IB Film HL, a class taught by english teacher Katherine Okrentowich, experienced a large amount of difficulty in completing an online assignment.
“I had assigned an assignment for my IB Film class to go [online] and search for still images from movies, with the intention of then… analyzing components in that frame,” said Okrentowich. “It had seemed innocent and simple enough, I had assigned it, I had posted it on Google classroom, and then not five minutes had passed and students were saying that we couldn’t do this.”
The problem? District-implemented web filters, which blocks a large amount of content pertaining to films, including nearly all copyrighted material.
“In order to receive funding as a public school, we have to have web filters. It’s a governmental program. So there is a financial incentive for the school district to apply a filter, ” said Okrentowich. According to her, the filters are a part of a new program implemented by the school district.
Early in the school year, Principal Scott Hurwitz made an announcement proclaiming the use of Gaggle, a company that tracks words typed in to school accounts, whether it be in a search engine or on a Google document. In addition, the school utilizes a YouTube-based filter that prohibits access to any videos not deemed educational on the video-sharing site. Other filters implemented by the administration include “Securly,” which blocks out any web page or search result deemed inappropriate.
Securly’s website states that their objective is “Keeping kids safe wherever they’re connected.” Gaggle’s site similarly describes their goal of “Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of students and schools.” But for students in Mrs. Okrentowich’s film class, these content filters and surveillance sites were hindrances.
“The sites are blocked,” wrote Shirel Salinas (‘20) on Google classroom. The filters were “the reason why we couldn’t do our film work,” said junior Owen McClung.
“We had to make the best of it… I think that the amount of content we were left with was not enough to work with, especially at the high school level. After that initial experience, I reached out to the principal and to my colleagues, who also shared a lot of their concerns that they were facing in their classes,” said Okrentowich.
She was, however, impressed with Hurwitz’s swift response to the issues with school web filters rooting out too much academic content. He was “very quick” in getting her in touch with the people who set the school filters, who Okrentowich learned were trying to fine tune the content blockers using input from teachers.
“Thankfully, after speaking with them, there have been improvements [to the school filter system]. They didn’t just turn it off, you know, they have people to protect and content to filter… but one of the settings was changed and we have been able to access a little bit more, which I think is a very refreshing change.”
Whether you view the district’s content filters and web tracking methods as a breach of student privacy or not, it is certainly good news to hear that they are being constantly refined and updated. However, for the time being, they are certainly not going anywhere.
When the bell rings at 2:15, club members make their way to room 2051 with many creative ideas in their minds. They begin to pitch ideas of topics they‘re interested in covering. Students of Brien McMahon are on the rise to tell stories untold.
Introducing Hidden Voices, Brien McMahon’s Literary Magazine Club, which gives students a platform to showcase their creativity. The magazine was originally founded by the Literary Arts department, but eventually closed. However, Mr. Hurwitz thought it was a great idea for the students of McMahon to be able to express themselves, so he eventually contacted English teacher Juliana Stabach to start it back up.
“Our biggest accomplishment so far was to get our column renewed last year by Mr. Hurwitz. Our column was also published with many students and their talents,” said Daniela Corona, co-president of Hidden Voices (‘21).
Hidden Voices has a set goal, which is to get students to not only tell their stories through art, but to produce stories that students can relate to. One of Hidden Voices expectations was to have the magazine in every students hands. Although the magazine experienced success, they also face difficulties.
“The biggest obstacle we have encountered is submissions. Often times it is very difficult to select poems and other creative work. You don’t want to limit anyone’s creativity. We try our best to include as much work as we can, but we also have to consider what topics can be relatable to students in Brien McMahon,” said Corona.
While starting a club takes dedication, it also looks very attractive on college applications. Every club has its ups and downs but is definitely a great experience.
“I would encourage them to find people that might be interested in joining. This way they know they will have a solid foundation of members who want to come each week. Have a plan of what you want to do and find a teacher that will serve as your advisor,” said Juliana Stabach the advisor of Hidden Voices
Check out Hidden Voices! They meet every Thursday after school @ 2:30 p.m. in room 2051.
By: Bryanna Perez
Pridetime Senior Editor
“I wouldn't be able to breathe, it's a really scary feeling because you don't really know how to stop it or know when it's going to stop,” Sarah Conroy (‘19), explains after being asked what anxiety feels like to her.
According to doctor Sanne Van Rooij, fear, stress, and anxiety are ‘normal feelings and experiences,’ however, for most students, it can feel like a long-lasting time period.
Pridetime sat down with Sarah Conroy and a couple of other students at Brien McMahon High School to discuss topics of what it feels like to have anxiety.
“Iv had anxiety for as long as I could remember honestly,” Conroy explained. “I never really knew how bad it was until I got to high school.”
According to a doctor and psychologist Amy Przeworski, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Individuals inherit a predisposition to being an anxious person, [and] about 30 to 40 percent of the variability is related to genetic factors.
For Conroy, the genetic factor was in fact inherited through both of her parents.
“I’ve seen my mom have panic attacks when she’s very stressed about work, but it's not as bad as mine.”
Unfortunately for Conroy, she suffers from panic attacks more frequently due to the process of thinking about college.
“Thinking about college I began to have a lot more panic attacks. I’ve decided that I want to attend NCC so I don't have as much anxiety anymore.”
Experts Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, director of The Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Inc., and Linda Andrews, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, explained that it is important to challenge your thoughts and learn to relax.
Sensitization is the number one coping strategy for people with anxiety. Sensitizing is the act of using all five senses and using it to create a room setting that makes the individual more comfortable.
For example, one may feel more anxious in a lighter room whereas moving into a darker room would create a more relaxing state of mind. People who smell lavender or use it as an essential oil often uses sensitization as a coping strategy as lavender is supposed to relax the body.
Psychologist Michael D. Jacofsky explains that a person who sensitizes as an act of coping often more learns about, rehearses, and anticipates fearful events. This is known as a protective effort to prevent these events from occurring in the first place.
Jaeden Sanderson (‘20), who plays the trumpet for the McMahon Senators, is familiar with the sensitization mechanism.
Coming into Brien McMahon his freshman year after living at the Norwalk High School district his whole life, Sanderson explains how he first experienced anxiety being the new kid and not seeing any of his friends.
“When I first walked into McMahon, all I could think about were first impressions. I began to feel nervous and shaky and all I wanted to do was run out of the school.”
Sanderson explains how the act of sensitization has helped him get through his anxiety.
“Whenever I feel anxious, I go into my room and turn all of the lights off. I grab my headphones and listen to a specific playlist I created for myself in order to relax my head.”
Sanderson prefers to listen to Billie Ellis whenever feeling anxious.
Being that Sanderson is in the band he tends to turn to his band friends as a comfort spot because they may be going through the same things he does, but he also explains that they share the same mentality.
What most people don't understand is that it's not only the students who stress over school, or the new kids, but athletes suffer from anxiety as well.
The outfielder, Jason Thornley (‘19), experiences anxiety as soon as his cleat touches the grass.
In July of 2017, Thornley suffered from a shoulder injury that caused him to tear his labrum.
On August 14, 2017, Thornley went into surgery not knowing whether or not he was going to be able to play his senior year.
Due to the fact that he has been playing baseball for nine years, returning back to preseason workouts and the regular season gives Thornley anxiety.
Scott Goldman, a licensed psychologist who works for the NCAA, explains the perceived threat theory called, A Threat to Ego Integrity.
A threat to Ego Integrity is the future element causing anxiety for the individual that is typically a perceived threat or danger. An example of this would be a person thinking to themselves, “If I lose, then I am a loser.”
Thornley is familiar with this theory as it affects his performance during the game.
“Sometimes I think in my head that there could be a possibility I could re-tear my labrum and be done for good which makes me extremely cautious as to how hard I throw on the field, sometimes I don't play to my full 110% potential.”
Despite the social norms that are shown within these students and their anxiety, there are many ways to get help for those who are suffering from any mental health issue.
For more information go to, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
These visits are mainly for seniors, but if you’re a junior, you can make a special request to your guidance counselor. Your counselor can invite you and you’ll meet with the representative. With these privileges, come responsibilities. You can’t attend college rep visits if you have missed classes or if your grade in the class being missed is below a C. You are responsible for the work you miss. To be able to attend a visit go on naviance to sign up for the college visit you’d like.
So how exactly does it work? The guidance department sends out information inviting different college representatives from all over the country to come visit our school at various times. They encourage students to come with email reminders. According to guidance counselor, Ms. Kimmich, “When we meet with seniors we let them know that they should sign up for the college visits, but I think many students don’t sign up.”
You may be wondering if it's worth it to go. The answer is always yes. it can help you figure out what college you want to go to, what college is right for you, as well as hear about colleges you wouldn't normally hear about. It might actually interest you. Students are encouraged to ask questions. The admission process can go a lot smoother and faster if you know what colleges interest you. It’s a good chance to get information directly from the college. Kimmich also states that, “It is an opportunity for students to also present themselves to what often is a college admission representative.”
Tiana Delvalle (‘19) has been to many college visits in guidance. She takes advantage of this opportunity. She stated that, “I went to the Uconn one and the Norwalk Community College one.”
If you think that it’s too late to visit more colleges, it’s not. Check your naviance out and sign yourselves into the ones you want to go to. Give each college a chance and remember that it always helps out with the college process. Take advantage of this opportunity.
Brien McMahon teacher Molly Kelly has a unique connection to McMahon. From 2000 to 2002, Kelly was a student here. “When I went here it was still the old building, so it was not nearly as nice. [It had] leaks and it was kind of getting too small, but they were planning to rebuild.” Brien McMahon went through a drastic renovation in 2003 to build the curved building that holds CGS, the science and language classes and eventually finish renovating the original building.
McMahon has always had many fun events, teams and clubs. When Kelly attended McMahon, “There was a lot of school spirit when I went here, the sports teams were really really good so pep rallies were really huge and it was a huge thing to make sure you had McMahon gear. There was a lot of school spirit and camaraderie around the athletes.” Kelly heavily participated in rowing (a sport outside of McMahon) with other Senators and ran indoor track during the winter.
On Climate Day, McMahon held a pep rally in the gym. “When we did the pep rally inside on Climate Day and Mr. Hurwitz said this is the first one we've done [in the gym] in 14 years that's where they did them when I was in school so it reminded me a lot of it.”
When she was a student here, Mr. Hurwitz was her freshman year homeroom teacher and and honors sophomore English teacher. Mr. Kane and Mr. Annunziato were also there. When asked if it is ever weird to be working with your teachers she responded, “Yes and no; I think it's been long enough and it was weird the first time I walked in to work, but I think because it's a different building it really kind of lessened that effect.”
Kelly talked about how small the space was, “The cafeteria was … getting too small so they kind of knocked down a wall in this hallway so when you were going to classes you would … cut through the cafeteria- which is now the library and media center [there were still posts] to get from the art section back over to the other hallways so that was kind of bizarre.”
Kelly believes that there is an advantage of growing up similar to students. She went through Norwalk Public Schools and attended both McMahon and Norwalk High. But, she says “Don't hold it against me. I'm all McMahon now.”
As he puts on his custodial uniform and packs his lunch to prepare himself for an unpredictable day at Brien Mcmahon, he comes with a big bright smile to complete the job to his highest ability: making our school a better place.
Meet Alfred Gautrau, one of Brien Mcmahon custodian workers. Before McMahon, Alfred worked at West Rocks Middle school for 10 years. Since transferring, he has worked here for 3 years and witnessed the changes in the Brien Mcmahon community. He mostly spends his time in the cafeteria working all 4 lunch shifts.
“I love my job, I love interacting with the many kids at this school,” says Gautrau.
Alfred always arrives at Brien McMahon High school ready to work. Everyday is a routine.
“I come in at 11 A.M., and I work all 4 lunch shifts, and then at 3 P.M.. I clean the special Ed area, clean the 2 bathrooms, and mop any mess,” says Gautrau.
Working with high schoolers is something that he enjoys, even though it may be harsh dealing with a greater amount of student body. A big student body means he encounters different personalities.
“I interact with both the janitors and lunch ladies. It’s simple to just saying, ‘hi,’ or asking ‘how was your day?’ They seem very happy when I greet them,” says Daine Bolivar (‘12).
Whether you are a student or a staff member at Brien McMahon, you are encouraged to promote inclusion with everyone. Gautrau believes that everyone has a job to do here, so he may not encounter every single person, but every staff member that he comes across greets him and shows him absolute respect.
“Mrs. Koroshetz, the Former Principal, was really nice. She made me feel included, as well as office staff and teachers,” Gautrau said.
Gautrau believes that work is not just getting required task done, but to also to get to know the people around you. Being able to greet the kids that he comes across makes him feel happy because it could make their day better.
“I try to speak to all the kids I come across, I know for a fact if I speak to one kid it will put a smile on their face, which makes me happy,” Gautreau said.
It’s easy to forget to show appreciation to those who are the foundation to the school, from lunch ladies to the custodians.
“I think just like we have teacher appreciation day, we should have janitor appreciation day as well as lunch lady appreciation day. You don’t want them to come hating their job; reassurance is key,” says Bolivar (‘12).
Starting several weeks ago, students on their way to the cafeteria found something new. Located on the center wall of the cafeteria - a collection of scattered flyers.
The bulletin board is covered in custom posters with information regarding nearly every club in the school, and business teacher, Mr. Scalise, believes that it is a solution to the issue of communicating club information.
“I just thought that it was strange that we just have all this wall space, in a place like the cafeteria, where everyone goes… and I thought it was a way to improve the school, basically.”
Mr. Scalise hopes that the bulletin board will be a source of information for students looking to participate in extracurricular activities.
One facet of communication that the school has struggled with, according to Scalise, is the ability to inform students of extracurricular clubs. Scalise found the school’s website to be “somewhat outdated and not user friendly.” Because of this, he decided to take action.
“I have an intuitive feeling that about a third of our students are just not involved… [and] I think that school involvement is important.”
Here at McMahon, the administration attempts to reach students and staff through several methods of communication, rather than focus on one central form of messaging. According to Principal Scott Hurwitz, school announcements, made both in the cafeteria and during second block are the main ways to communicate events, accolades, and other general information.
“Occasionally, we’ll send emails to the whole student body, important information, links, or things like that… sometimes there are posters on the wall… We think that maybe emailing students is good, just because they are on google classroom... so they might be checking their email,” said Hurwitz.
Despite the attempts by the school to disseminate information, students, such as senior Jeff Thiersaint (‘19), who do listen to the morning announcements, still struggle to provide advice for where to get information. “Probably announcements, or… word of mouth… it is kinda hard [to get information]... if it is something really important, maybe I’ll listen.”
When discussing possible solutions, Thiersaint acknowledges that “[School] Emails are not gonna work, nobody logs in…” and that if he was in charge of the school, he would “have some type of phone number mass message system… like once a week, on a Monday.”
Junior, Tatyanna Kelly believes that an older form of communication would be sufficient. “I think flyers would be a really good way to get people aware of things… they would at least be inclined to read what is handed to them.”
Students are not the only ones with ideas regarding ways to improve communication. Both Mr. Scalise and Mr. Hurwitz think that electric signs around the school would be a potential solution.
“We had this at Stamford High in the 80s,” said Scalise, “Everybody goes in the cafeteria, and if you have 20 announcements, you type them in, and they keep going across.”
Ultimately, Mr. Scalise believes that the school’s communication has to be centralized. “If we have five different ways to communicate with students, kids are going to figure out that not all the information is there, and they’re gonna be frustrated, where as if you pick one way… every single kid, and every single adult knows…”
Although social studies teacher Daniel Wagenberg agrees that the communication could be improved with electronic signs, he believes the school is correct in its approach of having multiple forms of communication. “They do everything else that’s possible, and I don’t know how they can improve on that,” Wagenberg acknowledged, disagreeing with Mr. Scalise’s idea to put all communicated information in one place.
Whether you are a student, staff member or administrator, it is clear that there are concerns among all regarding the effectiveness of the communication.
When asked if the communication as it currently stands is sufficient, Mr. Hurwitz said that “I don’t know… There are just so many different forms of communication that you never know what will hit the mark. I also know this, we don’t have one person in the school whose job it is to communicate with kids, so I think we do our best with what we have.”
Students of McMahon are plagued with anxiety and the stress of their deadlines as the first quarter comes to a quick end on Monday, November 5. Hallways reek of declining curiosity and stress, and it’s only the beginning of the year. Students drown in their stress on a daily basis, and it leaves them wondering if the struggle will ever end.
However, what if the solution lies inside the simple flick of a switch in the classroom and the exclusive reliance on daylight to do what it does best: provide the light?
A 1992 study by Rikard Küller and Carin Lindsten compared students exposed to direct sunlight through windows and students under only to fluorescent lights.
“Work in classrooms without daylight may upset the basic hormonal pattern, and this in turn may influence the children’s ability to concentrate or cooperate,” researchers concluded in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Another study conducted in 2004 by Akdeniz University students on Turkish nurses concluded that, “Half of 141 nurses had more than three hours of daylight exposure per day… those with more than three hours were less stressed and more satisfied with their work.”
It’s not just those in the working in the medical field or children from overseas; it is a preference even felt at McMahon.
“You’re in school, and you do feel like you’re in prison… but then when you see the daylight, it’s like there’s an outside. For me, it’s like a breath of reality, and there’s a world besides school… like this isn’t my life,” said Tommy Carrano (‘21).
Being under the pressure of five honors classes, Carrano thoroughly believes in a physiological difference in a classroom with windows and natural light.
“I prefer natural lights, even in my house. I turn off all the lights and try to use the sunlight. I usually try to use natural light for as long as I can,” said Niamh Linehan (‘21).
Before interrupting her, Linehan was in the middle of looking at primary sources, embraced by the soft hue of light emitting only from the open ceiling of Choir teacher Acari’s room.
English teacher Juliana Stabach consistently practices the reliance on natural sunlight herself and limits her use of fluorescent lights as much as she can.
“I rely heavily on daylight… instead of any artificial light because it creates… not such an artificial office feeling. It creates more of a cozy, comfortable feeling, and that's essentially what you want your students to feel like in your classroom: comfortable and not stressed out.”
With McMahon being home to many anxious hearts, there is no harm in implementing such practices that could help improve the overall mental health of the school.
All week people around school you could see freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors all decked out in jerseys, hawaiian shirts, matching outfits, throwback outfits, and lots of red white and blue showing pride for all the success McMahons team have recently been sharing.
McMahon’s teams were full of excitement and pride all throughout the week because for the most part every team won majority of their home games. Field Hockey beat Trumbull 2-0, Girls Soccer beat Norwalk high 4-0 and tied 1-1 with Wilton, Boys Soccer beat St. Joes and Wilton 4-1, Volleyball beat Norwalk High 3-1 and almost beat St. Joes 2-3, and then Football beat Central 41-0 ending in a forfeit.
Senior Field Hockey player Lexi said that “I feel like us having more spirit during the week brought the whole team together.” McMahon needed this win to qualify for states and getting made it so much sweeter for them because it was on their turf. Making states was awesome for those girls because they made history again and they made themselves proud and their coach.
Volleyball hasn’t the best record this season, but they played their hearts out against Norwalk High last week because the traditional trophy has been at McMahon for 4 years before this one. The girls played really hard against St. Joes because there was still hope for states then and they wanted it, it reflected in their playing and the way they communicated on the court.
According to Senior Volleyball player Michelle Menard “It made me feel more in tuned to my school and created more of a connection between me and my teammates and my school.” Michelle gives credit to spirit week for a little bit of the chemistry that occurred during the volleyball games last week because seeing everyone dressed up and all the fun it brought made everything seem a little lighter.
Both Girls soccer and Boys soccer have been on an amazing roll, Girls soccer has qualified for States and Fciacs this year and Boys soccer has qualified for Fciacs and States this year and to celebrate all the boys are dying their hair blonde, and the girls team is trying to get a fan bus for fciacs.
Senior varsity player Jorge Garcia stated “Playing home games was more enjoyable because more people came to the games and it was just overall more enjoyable.” He also mentioned that since more people came to the game the team was a little bit more eager to win because they had actual support in the stands.
Last but not least Football took a win against Central completing Homecoming and Spirit week with a bang. Senior Malik Goethe commented saying “Winning felt good because it felt like for once we really had an impact on the school.” He thinks that their hard work paid off and it was nice to win homecoming his last year on the team.