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Just a walk in the PARCC?

The PARCC, which stands for The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a test that all students in grades 3-11 must take to evaluate their readiness for college and the careers that will eventually take shape in their future. It was created by the well known education company Pearson and features two sections focusing on language arts and mathematics. This test replaces the former High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) and is aligned to the Common Core State standards.  In the spring of 2010, twenty- three states including Washington D.C. were planning to administer the PARCC. As of January of this year, that number has decreased by about half to only twelve.

There has been some negative reception to students taking this test from parents and educators alike. The website saveourschoolsnj.org, which is a non-partisan, volunteer- led, New Jersey based organization that works to make sure that all NJ children have access to high- quality, public education, lists twelve reasons why the over twenty thousand organization members oppose the test citing reasons such as the test is “poorly designed & confusing” and that this test and other high- stakes tests “have an enormous financial cost.” Jessica Stubs Ph.D. from the St. Tammany Parish School system in Louisiana is considering pulling her first, fifth, eighth, and twelfth grader out of testing because she is suspicious. To her understanding the PARCC test has been designed and field tested in her state. She wonders how a test that has been field tested in her own state could “possibly be comparable to the testing and achievement of children around the country in states who truly are members of the PARCC consortium?”; The consortium being the group of states that are still in for administering this test.

Mr. Concillio, a math teacher here at Southern, said that the test is a pain because there is too much class time taken away and with so much learning crammed into the year without the addition of the PARCC, it becomes crazy trying to fit everything in.  Mrs. Baker, an English teacher here at Southern, said that she recognizes the need for digital assessments, but believes that the state of New Jersey is pushing them too fast, too soon. She thinks that a new grade should be added each year, starting with third grade because they are the younger generation, which have been learning from the beginning how to incorporate technology into their learning, whereas the 11th graders have been taught the older methods because they were at that level longer ago. Despite the negative opposition that some people and educators have towards this test, the PARCC will be administered in those states that are still in the consortium and because of this, much more opposition is expected.

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Wake up With Today

The Today Show is NBC ‘s prominent morning news show and almost everyone in America has either seen or heard of it. It happens to be my favorite TV program for many reasons, the main one being that my dream job is to be an anchor for them and sit at the Today Show news desk. If you’ve seen it once or twice or haven’t seen it yet, I think you totally should start watching because who doesn’t want to know what’s going on in the country and around the world as well as check out the latest tech gadgets or get a great recipe?

The show has something for everyone and if that doesn’t appeal to you, I don’t know what will. The anchor team is lead by the two main co-anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, with Natalie Morales as news anchor and Al Roker doing the weather. Thereis also Carson Daly, who happens to host The Voice in addition to this, in theOrange Room which is the show’s social media hub, Willie Geist and Tamron Hall,who host the 9 AM hour called “Today’s Take” alongside Natalie and Al, and Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb who host the 10 AM or 4th hour of the show. My favorite part comes during the second hour around 8:15 AM called “What’s Trending”and is a summary of what’s new and popular in pop culture, whether it’s a viral video from Youtube, or a study conducted by The Huffington Post. That’s all during the week.Now what about the weekends? There’s a Today team for that as well. The weekend team consists of the two main co-anchors Lester Holt and Erica Hill, with the former also anchoring “NBC Nightly News” on weekends, Sheinelle Jones as news anchor, and Dylan Dreyer as the meteorologist. The program has been a huge success for many years, and once you start watching, you’ll see why. You can check it out on your local NBC station beginning at 7 AM Monday through Friday, and with varied start times on Saturday and Sunday. Check your local listings for those. If you can’t catch it on TV, the show has gone mobile. You can “like” them on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter, download their app, visit their website Today.com, subscribe to their Youtube channel, or listen to them on Sirius XM radio channel 108. Be sure to get in on the morning show that everyone’s talking about.

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New Jersey’s Got Talent

From the moment he appeared on screen for his Voice Audition, all the rage has been about Southern graduate, Matt McAndrew. The alumni has now made it through the most difficult rounds of the worldwide aired show with the support of Southern along with fan bases in tons of countries. Matt remains humble through all his newfound fame. McAndrew’s music has made it to the Top 10 on iTunes charts and Top 50 on Billboard’s. There’s no stopping him on his way to success.

Living in New Jersey most of us on the coast have developed a distinct liking for any Indie inspired music. Matt displays that perfectly, so if you’ve been following and downloading all his music (like you should be) there are a couple locals you’d be interested in.

First we have Apparus, a band centered in Montclair. In the past, Apparus had been a cover band, but recently have been recording their own music.  Neal Day, the lead vocalist,  compared their music to bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Black Keys, and Jimmy Eat World. They’ll be performing at Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair on November 29th. You could also listen to them on Spotify where they will have new releases within the next few months. Definitely a band worth checking out.

Next we have The Ugly Club, who are the exact opposite of their name. This group is a group of guys from Union County, New Jersey and New York. What’s different about them that you don’t find often is they’re only in it to make the music. Like all bands they want to be successful, but creating a sound that they like is more important to them. The Ugly Club has released some Indie music on iTunes that they say has a hint of pop. Make sure you hop on this bandwagon early because these boys are going places.

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Guide To Gift Giving

Are you somebody’s Secret Santa and have no idea what to get them? Well, try and think outside of the box. A simple sale on crafts can help you conjure up various wild ideas. If you want to keep it small and cute, you can always make a hot chocolate kit with a mug to go with it. Maybe you want to blow their mind. Gluing some glass stones to a small mason jar with a candle inside can make for a fancy prism lantern. It makes for an amazing decoration and it’s as simple as that!

You may not be the crafty type which just means that maybe shopping for a gift is more your thing. Any local store will most definitely have great deals around this time of year. Black Friday deals are still available with some insane deals and perfect gifts for even your not-so-close friends. When it comes to shopping for boys, find out what they’re into. Whether it’s sports, video games, or science, there’s always a gift to get. If he’s into sports, try getting him a new football or tickets to see his favorite baseball team nearby. He’s into video games? Buy him something from a place like Game Stop where they sell used games for a cheaper price. Boys who like science may be interested in experiment kits that are fun and easy to do at home. They’ll love something that shows that you know what they’re interested in.

Girls are typically easier to shop for. Most likely, she’ll tell you exactly what she wants. But, if you’re really too scared to ask or if you just want it to be a complete surprise, there are always options. She may be into jewelry in which case, simply buy her some jewelry. You can never go wrong with a necklace and some accessories. But, when it comes to a not-so girly-girl, you can go wrong with that. In that case, find out what bands she likes or what music she listens to. An album would be a great gift. For the creative people, Pinterest has hundreds of ways to make gifts and save money. Even then if you can’t think of anything, just a gift card to their favorite shop would be perfect. Girls love to go shopping so they’ll really love it. Don’t think into it too much. It can be easier than it seems!


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Movies That are Tricks or Treats

October is here and we all know what that means… Christmas trees on display!

But that’s a topic for another time.

October is the time when the leaves change color and the wind becomes chilled. Time for Apple cider and pumpkin everything else. But most of all, it’s time for Halloween and horror movies.

Whether you love to be scared or make fun of poorly done effects, horror movies are a staple of the season. We all have our favorites of course but here are a few suggestions to broaden your horizons:


  • American Gothic – In this slasher-esq 80’s film, a group of friends are forced to land a plane on a deserted island when their vacation is detoured due to engine troubles. After setting up camp and deciding to explore the island, the friends eventually come across a house. When the owners of the house come home, the group soon realizes that something is amiss.


  • All Cheerleaders Die – Every horror movie marathon needs a cheesy tension-cutter and that is exactly what this movie is. The main character, Maddy, is harboring an understandable grudge towards Terry, the captain of her high school’s football team. She decides to infiltrate the cheerleading squad and use her new friends to get back at Terry. Her plans go awry when a mishap following a party ends with Maddy and her friends waking up dead.


  • Pumpkinhead – An 80’s horror flick that’ll made you look twice next time you head to a pumpkin patch, Pumpkinhead is a movie about a man seeking revenge. Ed Harley is grief-stricken when his young son is killed by a group of teenage campers riding motorcycles. He goes to see a witch, looking to bring his son back. The witch cannot resurrect the boy, but she can punish those responsible for his son’s death. Things go awry when Ed begins to feel remorse for his actions after revenge is served by a disfigured demon conjured up by the witch.


  • Session 9 – Set in a condemned mental institution, Session 9 is not widely known but is considered among fans and critics to be a cult film. A group of asbestos workers begin work on an asylum thanks to their team’s leader who is in a financial bind. While working, one team member finds a box filled with tapes from a doctor’s sessions with a patient suffering from multiple personality disorder. The tapes play throughout the movie as a string of horrific events unravel around the team.


  • Candy Man – Candy Man is a movie set around an urban legend resembling today’s  Bloody Mary. It’s just a story… right? The film shows a woman named Helen Lyle, a skeptic of folk lures, investigating the legend of the Candy Man. The legend says that if you repeat “Candy Man” five times while looking in the mirror, he will appear. Helen lands on a downward spiral as the lure begins to take over her life.
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What is ISIS?

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham also better known as ISIS. If you’ve seen the news, it’s obvious that ISIS poses a threat to us. But there are many people who haven’t even heard of the organization, let alone the fact that our country is involved with it. So… What exactly is ISIS?

ISIS started off as a splinter group of the terror organization al-Qaeda. Lead by a man called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is something of a mystery to us, the original goal of ISIS was to achieve an Islamic state (a government ruling under religious, Islamic law) across areas of Iraq and Syria. The group is fighting with both the Syrian and Iraqi government in order to gain control of territories.

The Middle East is not the only area affected by ISIS. Many other countries have been targeted by the terror group and this includes the United States. James Foley, an American journalist who went missing while in Syria in 2012, was featured in a video that surfaced in August of this year. The video ended in his death. Another video was then released featuring another man who was said to be a captured American journalist by the name of Steven Sotloff. The video was directed toward the United States, stating that if we did not cease air strikes on ISIS, they would kill Sotloff. Shortly after, another video showed that they had followed through with their threat.

The United States began air strikes due to the obvious threat posed by the group. ISIS pushing into the formerly secure, Kurdish territory of northern-Iraq is part of the reason for the US’s involvement. Groups of Sunni (a division of Islam) rebels led by ISIS have attacked and overtaken cities in Iraq such as Mosul (the third biggest city in Iraq) and Tikrit (the city where Saddam Hussein was born) through brutal massacres and gained four hundred million dollars through their attacks. The group continues to make millions of dollars a day in oil, giving them the means to grow and continue with their plans. The other main reason for United States being involved was the fear for the Yazidi people. The Yazidi is a religious community who have been persecuted in the past by al-Qaeda and now are receiving the same treatment from ISIS. At least ten thousand Yazidi civilians have fled their homes and hidden on Mount Sinjar, fearing their inevitable execution should they make themselves known.

The situation on Mount Sinjar has deescalated but that is far from the end. Obama’s new strategy for the fight expands the war dramatically. The US air strikes are no longer limited; they will be launched all over Iraq and now Syria as well. On September 22nd, US warplanes struck ISIS and al-Qaeda targets which began America’s involvement on ISIS’s other major front. There is no clear sign of when ISIS will cease their attacks and until then, the United States and other countries will continue their attempts to force an end.

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Looking for a Good Book?

If I Stay/Where She Went Book Review

[Note: This Review contains major spoilers]

Although the major motion picture If I Stay recently made $50,000,000 while in theatres, the book is arguably worth double that! If I Stay, written by Gale Forman, is narrated by a young Mia Hall, who is an extremely gifted cellist. The story begins at the end, with her slowly dying. While she is making her decision to stay or go, Mia takes us on flashbacks of her life, which gets us to understand her family dynamic, and how she met Adam, her boyfriend and Kim, her best friend. By the end of the novel, we have heard every story that has brought her to make her final choice.

Mia Hall was born into her family rock band, but wasn’t interested in her parents’ hard core music. Ever since she was young, she was fascinated with the cello, an instrument that weighed three times more than she did. Eventually she grew to be a phenomenal musician, practicing eight hours a day, and taking independent study at her high school in order to hone her craft. However, Mia’s best friend Kim points out that a popular rocker in their school, Adam, has been watching her play.

Adam starts to make conversation with Mia, and invites her to a YO-YO MA concert, which was Mia’s favorite cellist. This is when they decide to start dating, and fall madly in love. But unfortunately, their paths start heading in different directions two years later, when Mia applies to Julliard, and Adams band ‘Shooting Star’ starts touring the country. This causes a lot of tension and frustration between the two of them, considering they hardly saw each other, and were a part of separate crowds. During this rough patch, Mia’s family is driving to visit their grandparents on a snowy day, and get in a terrible car accident. Kat and Denny, Mia’s parents, die immediately. Teddy, Mia’s younger brother is taken to the hospital, but later bleeds internally and dies as well. This leaves Mia as the only surviving member of the Hall family. Although this is tragic enough, Mia is able to exist outside of her body and observe what is happening around her during the critical 24 hours after the wreck.This leads Mia to decide whether or not she wants to die, and live on with her family, or stay with Adam, Kim, her grandma and grandpa, and her Cello. The doctors tell her that everything is up to her at this point. She runs the show. After contemplating her decision through the entire book, Adam visits her in the ICU stating that he would do anything and everything to have Mia stay. He even writes her a song and promises to quit the band to follow her to Julliard. With this, Mia decided to stay living.

If I Stay has a perfect ending, leaving you to assume that they dealt with their grief together, and became a stronger couple than ever. Therefore, Where She Went, is a punch in the face to the reader.

This time, Adam narrates the story, and a lot has changed in the last three years. The sequel is told in the same format, starting at the end. However, he tells all of the missing pieces of what happened after the accident through flashbacks. We learn that Adam broke up with Mia. Once she was rehabilitated, she went off to Julliard, and insisted that Adam go continue Shooting Stars tours and recordings. She led him on to believe that they would stay together, but she eventually cut off all communication with him. Adam was devastated, and sat in his room, depressed, for almost a full year. He tried to contact her in every way, but she refused. Finally enough was enough, and Adam took his anger out in his music. He wrote ten brilliant songs all in one night, about Mia leaving him like a ghost. It was as if she died. These songs turned out to be the bands biggest hits, taking them from a college band, to world wide famous rock stars. Yet Adam is still miserable. He starts drinking, doing drugs, and taking far too many pills. His life is so empty without Mia, and the fact that all of the songs written about her made them famous drove him crazy! But one night, before Adam was flown out of the country to start his tour, he sees a poster in New York City, advertising Mia Hall, the classical music extraordinaire. She is having a one night only concert. Adam gets one of the last tickets available, and watches her perform. He figures just hearing her play may give him closure. She somehow spots him in the audience, and asks for him to meet her backstage. This leads to them seeing each other for the first time in three years.


They spend the whole night together, sight seeing, and catching up on lost time. Eventually Adam gets the courage to ask why she abandoned him out of the blue. This leads to a blow out fight, where Mia says that she hated Adam, because he made her stay. It would have been so much easier for her to die with her family, but she didn’t. He was the person she loved the most, and so all of the blame had to land on him.

You will need to pick up the book to find out how this saga ends.

I would give this book series an eight out of ten. Although it is written very basically, the storyline is beautiful, and the flashbacks are complex. I learned a lot from both novels, and was overly emotional while reading them. I would suggest If I Stay and Where She Went to anyone. They are fantastic novels that will make you appreciate your life. You will regret not reading them!

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Help Wanted?

As the temperature rises and students’ focus on schoolwork lowers, it is clear that we are nearing that magical time of year; a season incomparable to springtime or even the holidays. It is a season where the nights get longer and our list of worries gets shorter. Yes, day by day, hour by grueling hour, we are working our way closer to the glorious summer of 2014. And, while most of us (myself included) are busy planning how we will spend these 10 weeks of freedom, the last thing on our minds is employment. Therefore, your dedicated staff at the Rampage has worked tirelessly to compile this guide for summer employment opportunities best suited for Southern’s exceptional students.

As residents in proximity to a resort town we students have been given a unique opportunity that many other teens struggle with; an abundance of summer jobs. With all the different openings on and around LBI it can be a little daunting to some, so allow us to break them down into a few, bite-sized categories to allow you to decide which job you are best suited for.


Food Service:  Starting off with one of the most plentiful opportunities for employment is foodservice. This includes bussing and waiting tables, hosting/hostessing, cooking, and any kitchen work associated with working in a restaurant or eatery. In addition, more specialized eateries such as ice cream shops or snack stands are always seeking summer employees. Minimal to no training is needed depending on the equipment used. Hours are flexible due to large numbers or workers employed, and wages vary. For bussers/waiters, wages are minimal and most money is earned based on tips rather than solely a set hourly wage for a cook. This means that if you are interested in a job in this field, it is best to select an eatery that has a steady flow of customers to ensure you will be making decent tips.


Retail: Most summertime retail workers are employed at larger retail shops such as Wal-Mart or in smaller local clothing and niche tourist stores along the island. Tasks include stocking shelves, managing inventory, and helping customers. Again, little to no training is needed. This field is a bit slower paced for those who don’t want to work in the hectic, sweltering environment that is a restaurant in the summertime. Wages are fixed and are usually minimum wage at best for entry-level workers. Despite this, you would be wise to apply at stores you frequently shop at as they more often than not give out employee discounts that can make up for the pay drop.


Camps:  For the teen more interested in spending their summer outdoors than cooped inside, camp counselor may be for you. This job allows you to spend time outdoors, mentor younger kids and help them to develop new skills. Needless to say, patience and skill working with children is a must. Another pro of this job aside from all the time being paid to work outdoors is that it teaches many useful life skills such as conflict resolution as well as communication with other. Wages are also flexible, as well as hours, and some training may be required such as CPR.


Lifeguarding: The final job on our list (and my personal favorite) is lifeguarding at a pool or on the beach. Once again living near LBI gives us access to the six beach patrols that protect its beaches as well as several local swimming pools. Both positions require extensive training, a high maturity level and people skills, and most of all a level head. The tradeoff is the opportunity to protect the lives of thousands of people; a truly rewarding experience. Also, being paid to be on the beach for eight hours a day doesn’t hurt either. For ocean lifeguards, wages vary by patrol, but are set at a minimum and increase each continuous summer until the max is reached. Obviously much training is required including but not limited to; CPR, Emergency Response training, rescue techniques, and ocean safety courses.

In short, it is easy to see that there is no shortage of employment opportunities in our area for the summer. No matter what your personality or skillset, there is a job out there that is a good fit for you. But remember, it is not a career, just a summer job to help pay the bills, so don’t feel as though you’re there for life. We at the Rampage hope this guide has helped a bit in your search for summertime employment, and wish you the reader the best of luck in all your dog day endeavors.



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Console Wars v2: Xbox One vx. PS4

  With the holiday season rapidly approaching, one hot item on many Christmas lists is sure to be one of the next-gen gaming consoles that have recently hit stores worldwide.  Sony released its next line of their flagship console, the PlayStation 4, November 15. Microsoft followed suit one week later with their Xbox One. It seems that the burning question on everyone’s minds will be: which console do I buy?! The two are very similar, and we here at the Rampage have the facts to help you decide which system is right for you. First off is the price point. Systems won’t come cheap, the PS4 retails at $399.99 and the Xbox One will set you back a whopping $499.99. At first glance the price difference seems drastic; however, this is due to the Xbox One being bundled with its motion sensor, the Kinect. As far as technical specs go, the PS4 is running on an 8-core, single-chip x86 AMD “Jaguar” processor, with 8GB of RAM and 500GB of internal storage. Comparatively, the Xbox one runs on an 8 Core Microsoft custom CPU, with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive as well. Xbox one supports external storage in the form of a USB, but the PS4 is compatible with a removable Hard Drive that must be at least 160 GB. Both consoles also have storage capabilities on the Cloud.

In addition, much to the dismay of many gamers, neither console is backwards compatible with games from the previous generation (PS3 and Xbox 360). Other features include motion control:  supported by PS4’s “Eye” camera and Xbox One’s Kinect motion sensor. As far as online play is concerned, Sony offers PlayStation Plus which is comparable to Microsoft’s Xbox Live, both of which require a paid subscription. Both consoles, it seems, have much to offer in the realm of entertainment to the user; be it games, movies, music, and much, much more. What it eventually comes down to, is what suits your needs as a gamer better. We here at the Rampage hope this guide is of some aid to you in your tough decision.  Happy Gaming!

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Unique Gift Ideas for your Friends

It’s the Holidays Again….

…and you still haven’t gotten your best bud a gift! Well, here’s a list of some cool stuff you can get with $25 for your pal!

Bacon Beans Candy: Do you like Bacon? Do you like jelly beans?  Then how about some bacon beans? $5 from Urban Outfitters

Bubble Wrap Costume: A hooded jacket and pants made of bubble wrap. $20 from Urban Outfitters

World’s Smallest Walkie Talkie: A conveniently sized walkie talkie set of two is the perfect gift for anyone! $10 from Urban Outfitters

Henna Kit: Get artsy with this DIY henna tattoo kit. $10 from Urban Outfitters

Goateesaver: An adjustable shaving template used to create perfect goatees. $19.99 from Amazon

Bag of Zen: Om m g! Contains five charms to help you feel more zen. $15 from uncommongoods.com

Mini Terrarium Kit: Ah, the beauty of nature in a jar! So verde.  $16 from Anthropologie

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