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Archive for: 2013

Year: 2013

Dear XYZ,

How can I get good grades?


X says: “Organization, tutoring and studying. Those are the main tactics that will help you succeed. Learn to be organized. This can help you learn more easily, and will make your work more legible.
Take advantage of after-school tutoring. Your teachers want to help you so you should take time out of your day to go and ask questions.
Studying is key. You need to be able to sit down, look through your notebook, and practice what you’ve learned. Using flash cards can also help to memorize key ideas. Lastly, take it easy! Many students freak out when they take a test, and then they tend to blank out. Don’t panic! In the worst situation, when you don’t do as well as you thought you could, remember that one “bad” test grade doesn`t represent who you are as a whole!”

Y says: “In order to get good grades, you need to do a lot of different things. You can’t expect to pass a class simply just by showing up. Homework is a major part of your grade and although sometimes it is not fun, you should always do it. Tests are another big part. Try to start studying early so it doesn’t become overwhelming. Waiting until the day before the test to study isn’t the best idea. Also, be organized! Knowing when there might be notebook checks, tests, and quizzes can help you be prepared, and earn those extra points.
Lastly, participating in class is important. Teachers look for students who participate, and they will remember that when they are making your grades.”

Z says: “Getting good grades can be hard in high school, but maintaining them should be a bit easier. Do all of your homework and extra credit. You should attend after school tutoring and create a study plan with your teacher.”


Dear XYZ,

What should I do about stress?


X says: “Stress is a common issue amongst many students. I find that the easiest way to control stress is to slow down; pace yourself, then do what you have to do to get things done. Don’t leave important things for the last minute because that causes more stress. Also, find an activity or a place that makes you feel calm. For some people, reading helps. Do something fun that helps you feel better.”

Y says: “Lots of people in high school deal with stress. Doing your homework, keeping your grades up, maintaining a social life, and just going through the daily tasks of being a teenager can be exhausting, and lead to a lot of stress. My advice on dealing with this is to try to organize what you have to do throughout the day and make a daily routine. Also, know that sometimes it is okay to take a break. Step back for a little while and do something that relaxes you–whether it’s listening to music or taking a walk. Doing this can help release the stress that is building up inside you.”

Z says: “Controlling stress isn’t the easiest thing to do. When you feel like you’re under a lot of pressure and may not be able to manage it, take a deep breath and take it slow. Create a list of priorities that will help keep you organized, and follow it.”


By Kiara Ventura

jamesEditor’s Note:  James Edward Leonard is a seventeen year old senior here at MCSM. As you may or may not know, James is a very interesting, honest individual who likes to “shoot from the hip” when you ask him a question! When it came time to edit his interview for publication, we had to consider whether or not to tone down his comments before they appeared in the RAMPAGE. We are not in favor of censorship, and certainly high school students can hear and see more controversial things on television every day! But print publications and non-fiction articles are held to different (and we like to think, HIGHER) standards than most television shows! James himself was sensitive to our dilemma and allowed us to present his interview here in slightly more polite language than he might ordinarily use.
RAMPAGE: How would you describe yourself?

James: “I’m just a pretty lucky guy I guess.”

RAMPAGE: “How are you lucky?”

James: “I’m lucky because I get away with a lot of things that other people wouldn`t get away with. I’m pretty blessed.”

RAMPAGE: Describe yourself in three words.

James: “Unexpected, funny, and smart.”

RAMPAGE: What kind of music do you listen to and why?

James: “I listen to every single kind of music. But if you want three of my favorites, it would be electronic, jazz, and country rock. I like all kinds of electronic music, including trance, dubstep, house… everything. Those are the first concerts I went to. My dad likes jazz, and I’ve been around jazz since I was a kid. I also like hip hop because that incorporates a jazz-like vibe. I also like country music. I mean I like Mexican music too but that’s different. I like country rock-music that makes you want to cry, but you can`t cry because you have to be strong when you’re listening to it.”
RAMPAGE: How did you discover country music?

James: “I went to a garage sale and I picked up a CD called ‘It Still Moves’ by a group named My Morning Jacket. It’s probably the most inspirational thing I`ve ever heard. There is a song on there about a prostitute who does drugs. It’s pretty sad. It’s called “Steam Engine”, you should look it up.”

RAMPAGE: What are the three things you are trying to balance out in your life at this point in time? And how do you keep that balance?

James: “Well, the three most important things in my life right now are probably my future (as in my education and what I want to do with my life); my relationship with my girlfriend Jayna; and my relationship with my parents. I don’t really value my relationship with my parents like some other people do because I don’t live with them anymore. Other people come home every day and say “Hi Mom” or “Hi Dad” but I only see my parents three or four times a month, maybe less sometimes. So I try to see my parents more and let them know I’m thankful, because the real reason I don’t live with them anymore is because I don’t like the way they work and function. So I felt that the best thing I could do for myself was to find my own place to live. Now, work and money are very important to me.”

RAMPAGE: What is your job?

James: “I work with my uncle. I am a secretary for Leonard General Construction. I mostly handle paperwork but on the weekends I`ll actually do work at job sites. It`s not really hard work because there are real construction workers who do all the work for you. But it’s not hard to make money. It’s just when you think about where it all ends up going, that’s kind of hard to believe.
“And about my girlfriend…trying to balance her with school and earning money is really hard because some days I have to go home and I have a lot of paperwork to do. On the weekends, I can’t really see her sometimes because I have things to attend to. During school and after school are really the times I get to see her, and sometimes I wish I could spend more time with her to let her know she is really important to me. Also, I just started incorporating my dad into my life again, so I’m trying to make him know he is important. For most of my childhood he was just at work trying to support my family.”

RAMPAGE: Which iconic figure (whether in history, music, or pop culture), do you have the most respect for, and why?

James: “It has to be Tyler the Creator because when I first found out about his music in 2009, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And to hear that there was a guy making music about doing nothing with his life, literally just making music about sitting around all day, going to the mall, eating chips ,and harassing women–it was kind of liberating. When I think about all his music, I think it’s not pointless as much as people might think it is. People say it’s not entertaining or good. But it’s definitely not pointless because in society you always need someone to tell you that you should be doing the wrong things. You need someone to make you do bad stuff sometimes. Now, don’t look at me like that. You need a bad guy. You always need a bad guy.”

RAMPAGE: How did he (Tyler the Creator) motivate you into discovering what you want to do with your life?

James: “Because he makes a lot of money by just messing around. He makes music for himself. I think that he motivated me to be more of who I am today because he is a jerk and I’m a jerk. I don’t know if you could write that, but this is the only way I can explain it. We are both bad people. That’s it; we are both bad people who want to be good people.”

RAMPAGE: What is one moment you experienced while in MCSM that you will never forget?

James: “During sophomore year, this was the one moment in high school that made me think of who I was: I was with my friends at the handball court and we were “doing stuff”. My friend was really tired and not feeling well. I was just sitting there and watching them. It was 4th or 5th period. I was just watching them and thinking “My life is horrible.” That’s what I was thinking because we were a bunch of high school kids just sitting around wasting our lives, hanging out, and wasting time. You don’t really think about how much you`re losing and wasting until afterwards. Then we went to our friend`s house and we were sitting down watching TV and I just said, ‘I`m throwing my life away. We are all throwing our lives away.’ And I told them that we need to get some help and start going to class. Then we all started crying.”

RAMPAGE: So you all started crying together?

James: “We didn’t cry together. We all just started saying things like ‘Don’t look at me, man. I ain`t crying, I’m sweating from my eyes.’ We continued down a slippery slope to a point where all my friends who realized they weren’t going to graduate, ended up in satellite. I mean I was always good in school so it wasn’t hard for me. I just got my attendance back up. I mean, it wasn’t horrible. I am never going to forget how I was just part of a group of people who were at the bottom. They were like bums.”

RAMPAGE: Are they still your friends now?

James: “Yeah, they will always be my friends. It’s just they changed, we all change. Everything got positive. And that’s what makes you who you are; our negative experiences help us see the positive outcomes or possibilities. Sometimes you need bad things to happen to you, for you to see what you are missing out on and what is actually good.”

RAMPAGE: Briefly describe your journey in MCSM from freshmen year to now as a senior.

James: “My freshmen year was mostly me trying to be cool. Sophomore year, it was me making a lot of bad decisions trying to figure out what I wanted most. I made a lot of good decisions too. You know people never realize how many good decisions you make. So I did that too, but mostly bad decisions. Junior year, everything got positive. It felt like things were finally going well. Senior year, I realized that if you spend all your time in high school trying to be something you are not, you are wasting time. And if you spend all your time in high school, trying to be smart and getting good grades and stuff, you are also wasting your time. But if you somehow find a balance, you`re probably going to have a fun four years. You don’t really realize its four years until you graduate and it’s 2014.”

RAMPAGE: What are your plans for college? And what do you plan to major in?

James: “I plan to major in civil and electrical engineering because that’s where the money’s at, apparently. My dad (like other dads who are brown) feels that it’s a good profession for me. I also feel that it’s a good profession for me. I mean I chose it and he was like: ‘that’s a good idea’, so you know, why not? I want to go to a good college. I want to go to a college that when you tell people they say ‘Oooh!’, basically saying ‘Oooh, that’s a good college.’ I want to go somewhere that will make my parents proud, but I also want to go somewhere where I don’t ever have to speak to them. Because I know if I do badly, or even if I do well, I might burden them with false hope. I think it’s better if I don’t subject my parents to anything. I want to pay for it all by myself. I don’t want my parents to help me with college. They didn’t help me through elementary, middle school, or high school, so I don’t want them to start now because that is not fair to them. It’s not fair to me either, but it’s not fair to them.”

RAMPAGE: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

James: “This is a double-edged question because has positive and negative possibilities. I will either be dead or I could be moderately successful with a family. I don’t think I will ever be rich. I guess it`s fun to say “Yo, one day I will have millions,” But you have to be realistic. It’s nice to make a joke saying you want to shoot for the stars but it’s not nice when you actually try to do it and you fail. Because that leads to a lifetime of depression. I’d rather just do something I know I can do, rather than something terribly higher than that.”

RAMPAGE: If you could send a positive message to all MCSM students, what would it be?

James: “Just do you. If you want to be something other than what you are, you should do it. You should not decide to not do it just because of regular repercussions. If someone tells you it’s a bad idea, ask them why. And if they say it from experience, you should probably listen to them. But why is the question you should be asking yourself for the rest of your life. And you’re going to be asking other people why. I think you gain the most information by asking people why, so you should probably do that a lot. And become who you want to be. If you want to be successful, you need to do what will make you happy because if you are living for somebody else or for something else, then that is not living.”


TECH: Xbox One VS. PlayStation 4

———————————— By Tatyanna Morales This is the month of major league competitions, junk food, and video games. Released on November 15th the PlayStation 4 (weighing 6.1 lbs) has hooked millions of buyers because of their 1080 pixel graphics and because of Call of Duty Ghosts that came out November 5th. However SONY’s rival, Microsoft, released […]

I’m just here, hanging around, dancing with the wind. I’m white, pale, cold, and lonely. I’m here, but why? Why did this happen? Why did I do that to myself?! And then I just remembered. It is true what they say. My life passed before my eyes…

It was a Monday morning, my favorite day of the week: back to school, back to my classes, and friends. I dress just like every other day– jeans and a large sweater. It was a cold morning and I love it! My friends are not going to insist on me taking my sweater off, even if I don’t want to. The worst part of the day is getting on the bus. It`s too many people; and sometimes this makes my blood pressure rise. And if it reaches too high a level, it might also suddenly decrease, which could make me faint.

Already on the way to school, I saw him, my boyfriend. He is not the cutest boy ever, but he has the most beautiful eyes that I have ever seen–caramel brown. When our eyes meet it is like everything else disappears, and only we exist. Seeing him again was like a dream, but then my best friend appeared and ruined the moment.

“Molly! Molly! Guess what?”
She’s grabbing my hand hard, too hard, and it hurts, a lot.

I try to smile, I really try, but it hurts too much. I start taking her hand off my arm; but unfortunately, she grabs my arm harder.

“Take your hands off me!”

She does this, but she gives me a weird look, and she’s not the only one… another girl does too. This one I know is my enemy, and she gives me a strange look also, but not like she always does. She’s going to do something, but what? Well, it doesn’t really matter since everything she tries to do usually goes the opposite of how she planned it.

(The bell rings.)
” ‘Bye Molly, see you later. I love you.”
“Me too. ‘Bye.”

Jonah gives me a little kiss and then leaves. He has gym now, and I have social studies. I don’t see him until chemistry, at fourth period. That was where we were first partners; where we first met and became a couple.

(Flashback to 4 months ago, our first conversation.)

“You need help with the questions?”
“Thanks, but no, Jonah, I’m alright.”
I don’t really know what happened then, but our eyes met, and between one second to another we were kissing each other.
That was our first kiss and the beginning of our relationship.

I remember that day was a Monday too, and smile to myself. Yet another reason to love Mondays.
Finally, I’m in chemistry class! Jonah is already at our desk like always, waiting for me.

“This is wrong. You didn’t learn anything, Ms. Brooks.”
The teacher’s comment was for me. He calls everyone by their last name. I stand up and I walk to the door.
“Where are you going?”
“To the bathroom.”

I didn’t wait for a response; I close the door and start running to the bathroom. I need to do something, and fast.

I get inside one of the bathroom stalls. I don’t worry about closing the door, because everyone should be in class. That turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes I could ever have made.

The day finally ends! I arrive home, and like always, nobody is there; just silence and peace.
Hmm…what’s that sound? My phone? What time is it? Oh, oh, it is my mother, her third call. Looks like I’m going to have some problems.

After I`m finished talking on the phone, I do it; making tiny cuts with the knife; one, two, three, another and another…so many that I even lose count.

The next day when I arrive at school, I notice everyone looking at me oddly. They were staring as if I had done something shameful. I found Jonah’s head in the crowd and I walked to him.

“Hi babe….”

He was talking to some guys that are with him on the swim team. They look at me, but it’s not a nice look; it’s like they don’t want me to be close to them. Jonah grabs my hand and takes me to an isolated place.

“Molly, we have to talk.”

I don`t like how that sounds, something is going to happen. And it won’t be nice.

“You’re going to break up with me right?”
“But why? I thought you loved me.”
“And I do, but…”
“But what? Is there another girl?”
“So, why?”
“Just look…”
He takes out his phone and shows me a video. And I’m in it…cutting myself.
“How did you get this?”
“Elaine sent it to every person in the school.”
“But… what does this have to do with us?”

I already know the answer but I have to hear it from him. Even though I know how much it is going to hurt.

“I can’t be the boyfriend of the crazy girl ! Do you know what people are going to think?”
I just walk away. He doesn’t love me; because if he did, he would stay with me no matter what other people thought.

I ran to greet my best friend, but she moves away when I try to hug her.
“You know about me and Jonah right? And now you’re going to do the same?”
“Why!? Why are you doing this!? You’re supposed to be my best friend! Don’t leave me! Please don’t!

But she didn’t listen; she walks away and doesn’t look back. Why do I lose all the people that I love? That’s why I didn’t say anything. I knew they were going to leave me, and now I’m alone. Everyone is looking at me, but the bell rings, and in seconds I’m alone, again.

Now I’m walking in a place that I never visited before, and nobody is going to find me here. My shirt is so wet with tears that it clings to me like a second skin. I can’t stop crying. All the people that I cannot live without have left me alone. They don’t know how much their words hurt me. Usually, it just takes me hours to get over them, to calm down, but this time, it isn’t the same. I’ve lost the only two people I cannot live without.

And that’s how I got here. I was right: no one will find a suicide here, even assuming they would look for me and not just continue with their life as if I’d never existed. I force a smile, I should be happy, here, just here, in the quiet ruins of some old building.

Where my body rests in peace…

By Yeritza Mejia



A Closer Look at the Book and the Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

  ———————————— by Minul Asgar The novel Perks of Being a Wallflower was written by Stephen Chbosky, who also directed the movie made from this book. Chbosky portrays teenage years as an awkward experience involving drugs, parties, and sex. The book revolves around Charlie, who has, incidentally, lost his best friend, Michael, and his Aunt […]


MUSIC: What Nas Means to Me

  “Pac was like Jesus; Nas wrote the Bible” -J.Cole, Let Nas Down by Roberta Nin Feliz   After Tupac and Biggie, the East Coast rapper Nasir Jones, the son of blues and jazz player Olu Dara, became one of the most respected writers/performers in hip hop history. When “Nas” is writing and rapping at […]

In case you missed the Poetry slam, here are some spoken word poems that were performed. When reading, please remember that these poems were meant to be read aloud rather than be read on a page. Any non-traditional spellings here can be understood as “poetic license.”


Class of 2014

By Nicholas Rodriguez

I was born into a generation,
Where the type of shoes you wear
Defines you more than character
A generation in which we
Confuse lust for love and
The meaning of life.
Because we sum it up with YOLO,
When it should be living each
Day as if it were your last.
But not in the sense that is
Measured by breathalyzers or drug tests,
But by the memories we leave and
The prints we have on other people’s lives.
You see, I’m torn. Because I need to
Play roles that are conflicting:
A son at home, a brother too,
A student at school, and a friend.
A teenager for a few years,
Yet an adult every day of my life.
I was born into a generation
Where we idolize rappers more
Than those who’ve changed history.
A generation that believes magazine
Articles to be too long, and
We’ve given up on literacy.
Where cutting our arms has become
More acceptable just because the
Blood that spills on those tiles will
Never tell our secrets, like people would
If we ever opened up to them.
Because, you see, I live in a
Generation where fake friends and
Fake smiles have become an art form
That has been mastered by many.
I live in a generation where
Facebook and Twitter have become
Popularity contests, just like those
Hallways in High School. I guess
They don’t realize, that they have
This fame for only four years.
That after this we only have our
Shadows to keep us company
I was born into a generation
That I wasn’t meant for, but that I am
Now a part of. A generation
That cares only of itself.
My generation: the product of society,
The Class of 2014.

– Nicholas Rodriguez


The Last Poem

By Penda Smith


If words could kill,


The silence wouldn’t be so deadly


The silence is everything but quiet.

It is death defying.

It reeks of a virulent soul dying,


A broken heart, crying.


The ghostly goodbye,

Was as loud as a,

Thunderous roar bellowing from a ferocious sky,

Butterflies that once roamed harmlessly about,

Now poison me from the inside,

It`s hard to believe everything was a lie.


I promise to tug restlessly at pages,

That remind me of you.

I Promise to unmercifully burn them,

Take the ashes and discern them.

I will erase memories and

unlearn malicious repugnant melodies,

that endlessly put marks on parts of my heart.


I wonder if this poem was fated.


It was already written in a future that awaited.

You promised to give my heart a break—

Not break it.

I hate it cause I genuinely believed we would make it.

You said you’d always be waiting.

So c`mon Cherie,

Where are you now?


I guess you`re with her,

The answer is inevitable,

The ebb and flow of my blood,

In my veins,

Turned into a turbulent wave

It resembles flames spewing from,

A volcano’s rage.

So I breathe fire into this pen,

And burn this page.


If you ever decide to hold her,

Will you tell her the same lies you told her,

And her, and her—and me.


I remember looking into warm eyes,

They were just a disguise.

I told them that I was falling,

And that I was falling fast.

My heart was composed of fragile glass,

And one more drop,

Might be my last.


You said you could hold my weight,

But I should’ve known,

Cause you can’t even hold your own.


I just want you to know,

That this is your last poem,

I will rip your name out every line,

I’m tired of wasting rhymes

On people who don’t deserve my time.


You ravaged my heart like a savage.

Your hands clutched the distorted pieces

And I am left speechless …..


If words could kill,

Perhaps the silence wouldn’t be so deadly.

-Penda Smith




If only I could move this pen on paper without having thoughts about my parents, college, and money fly across my mind

If only I could take a deep breath of serenity, comfy couches, warm tea, and spoonfuls of nutella

But instead I take deep breaths of the cigarettes my grandmother smokes in the kitchen, the yells of my mother ordering me to mop the bathroom floor, and court trails

These same thoughts press the walls of my mind as I took my AB Calc quiz today

The walls of my mind are pressed by the same bars my family squeezes their hands on, the same papers my mother sorts out at her job, and loud screams of satisfaction and disappointment

The deeper the pain the wider the smile

My mind is being pressed as I press my pen to this paper, as I press my fingers to each page of the book “Frankenstein” that I turn, and press each button on my laptop while filling out my Common App

And so I press on…

Not knowing which train stop is coming next, just waiting to be blessed, and wishing the same for the rest

Despite every mountain I`ve climbed and the moments I`ve experienced through time…

All the dishes I washed

All the classes I passed

The one pair of ungrateful lips that I kissed

All the hands I shook

All the eye contact I made

And all the memories in mind that won`t fade

This is me now….

The girl who is still finding herself and discovering different aspect of her personality while avoiding the search for love

“A work under construction” that would take a lifetime to finish

A seventeen year old girl who is trying out which products work best on her wild curly hair and passions that wouldn`t tear

So yes…

My eye is on the prize and these eyes will never see demise

Like a phoenix from ashes, I will rise

Through the intense heat of the fight and binding pressure,

I will form into a diamond whose worth cannot be measured.






By Aimée Capellan

Let’s be honest.  When people inquire about our perception of oatmeal, most of us will respond with a “Yuck!” or “Uhm, how about: no?” But the truth is that many of us have never even tried to make it ourselves. We’ve only tasted it as made by our moms, grandmas, or some random chef in the kitchen of a restaurant. What most of us don’t know, or care to learn, is that oatmeal can totally be manipulated to suit your taste buds. Too mushy? Add less water. Too dry? Add more water. It’s simple.
The following recipe is quite basic but it can be customized, and will give you some ideas on how to start.  As an added plus, this recipe is super-quick so you’ll probably be deducting about 5-10 minutes off your morning schedule.

½ cup of instant oatmeal.
1- ½ cup of water or milk (amount depends on the desired consistency).
¼ (approx.) cup of granola.
Fruit of your choice (sliced apples, bananas, and peaches go great with this).
Sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

Add the oatmeal and water into a bowl. Place in the microwave for 1 minute (plus or minus 30 seconds). Add cut up fruit and granola then sprinkle your cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

Feeling adventurous? If prepared with water rather than milk, oatmeal tastes great with a ¼ cup of your favorite yogurt or cottage cheese (Yes, cheese.  Just trust me, okay?)
Wanna go nuts?! Add some nut butter and /or raw nuts to your oatmeal at the end of microwave preparation.

Health benefits:
1) Oatmeal is a great source of whole grains and protein.
2) Nuts provide a great amount of protein and good fats.
3) Milk, as we all know, is a great source of calcium.

    Although it might not be “the most important meal of the day”, having lunch becomes essential when 5 to 4 classes are left in the school day. That means 4 to 5 hours in which we must focus and think critically, which is a intense brain workout!  And remember, just like a sports workout, mental effort needs food as fuel. In this case, that fuel would be a good lunch.

The following lunch idea will have the classic sandwich as the “entrée”. However, this one will be composed of ingredients designed to keep you full and concentrated all throughout your next classes.

Two slices of 100% whole wheat bread* (see below).
Lettuce** (see below).
2-4 slices of Turkey (depending on how thick the slices are).
Cheese*** (see below).

Sides (pick two): (Because a sandwich is not a complete lunch…).
1 cup of baby carrots.
Fruit of your choice.
1 oz. or a handful of wholesome “chips” (ex. natural popcorn or lightly salted/unsalted pretzels).
Celery sticks.
Handful of nuts (unsalted).

Preparation: I’m pretty sure you guys know how to make a sandwich!

*You can be very versatile with breads. You can find whole wheat bagel thins, pita bread, and wraps.

** I recommended going with darker veggies such as spinach or kale. Lettuce is good, but the darker green the veggie is, the more rich it is in nutrients.
*** I recommend Swiss, Monterey Jack, and Ricotta cheese.

Health Benefits:
1) 100% Whole wheat bread and wholesome chips will provide you with good energizing carbohydrates and fiber.
2) The leafy greens (specially the darker ones) and all the veggies have an abundance of vitamins and some even contain protein!
3) Nuts are high in protein and have good fats.
4) Cheese is a good source of protein (select cheeses are low in sodium have moderate amounts of fat, like the ones mentioned).

These meals are deliciously nutritious and your body should respond to them positively.  Why not switch your usual pizza and fries for one of these meals for a couple of days? Why not try these recipes and feel satisfied that you have made the right choice? After trying these meals, you can make them your own and before you know it, eating healthy will become natural. Remember, being healthy starts with the mind then your diet.

“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.” – Hippocrates


Ready, Set, Rhyme: MCSM’S Fall Poetry Slam

      Ready, Set, Rhyme: MCSM’S Fall Poetry Slam By Minul Asgar Whether poets choose to rhyme their verses or not, they usually recite their work in public Poetry Slams to express themselves in powerful metaphors whose deeper meanings they hope a live audience will decipher. A Poetry Slam is an opportunity to open up your […]


  drought_cover_lowresIn this fantasy-thriller, a young girl thirsts for love and freedom, but at what cost? Ruby dreams of escaping the Congregation. Escape from slaver Darwin West and his cruel Overseers. Escape from the backbreaking work of gathering Water. Escape from living as if it is still 1812, the year they were all enslaved. When Ruby meets Ford—an irresistible, kind, forbidden new Overseer—she longs to run away with him to the modern world where she could live a normal teenage life. Escape with Ford would be so simple. But if Ruby leaves, her community is condemned to certain death. She, alone, possesses the secret ingredient that makes the Water so special—her blood!—which is the one thing that the Congregation cannot live without.


My Opinion

I really enjoyed this book. It was one of the best Young-Adult novels that I ever read.

One of the main characters, Ruby, was my favorite. She was strong; she was a fighter, and a survivor. The story examines the horrible conditions of her life, and the oppressive way she’s treated. I keep wondering what the taste of her blood is? It couldn’t be the same as others because it has healing powers. And I can’t blame her for how she reacts at the end, because I thought that she was a teenage girl until I realized that she was 200 years old, and she’s the youngest in the congregation!!!

Sula, Ruby’s mother, also has special qualities.  Although she does much to help the other slaves, I hate her reluctance to fight for her own freedom.  Instead she’s always waiting for Otto to free them. I admire her trying to protect Ruby, but my question is, does she protect Ruby because she loves her daughter or only because she possesses healing blood? I really think that it is because of her blood, and that’s cruel.

Ford, the co-lead character is in love with Ruby. The romance between them is compelling, but sometimes I got angry with him because he refuses to accept that people believe in gods other than the one he believes in. Also he maintains a rude attitude in some scenes that I didn’t appreciate, and sometimes he seems selfish. But at the end his actions are justified, and make him a pivotal character.

Like I mentioned before, there were some sections that I didn’t like: some scenes were really cruel, too realistic and in rare cases stupid. But the end of this book really impressed me. I even held my breath during the last paragraphs because that kind of ending never ,ever passed through my mind.

I recommend it for sure!!!

                                                                                                                             By Yeritza Mejia


Kiara Ventura- Founder/Editor in Chief/Writer

Kiara_FromKameronSeventeen year old Kiara Ventura is a young aspiring journalist who was raised in the Bronx and is currently a senior at Manhattan Center. In 2011, she wrote for YCteen magazine in which her article called Username:Hater was featured in the book ,Vicious. Her aim as a journalist is to tell stories that make people think about social issues, and then view the world differently once they are done reading. In the summer of 2012, she worked with the NYU Urban Journalism Workshop, where she won the “Best Enterprising Award” on her articles involving the LGBTQ community. With determination and passion, Kiara Ventura strived to start her school’s first online newspaper and is now tackling her senior year with that same energy. Along with her big curly hair and a pen in hand, Kiara plans to climb up the slippery ladder of life’s challenges to ultimately reach everlasting success.




Carol Cooper- PEN Adviser/Editor
Carol best pic (2)Carol Cooper co-advises the MCSM Newspaper Club with Assistant Principal Winchester.
​Miss Cooper has been a professional journalist since 1979. She is an Associate Member of the international writer’s organization PEN America, which runs the yearly World Voices Literary Festival in New York City. Living in Harlem, she has written critical and investigative essays for various publications, including: Rolling Stone, Latin New York, Essence Magazine, Elle, The New York Times, Newsday, and The Village Voice.








Beverly Danquah- Upcoming Editor in Chief/Writer  

_MG_5318       My name is Yaa Beverly Danquah. I particularly love broadcast journalism, and engage in various aspects of it on a daily basis.
I am already studio and field reporting certified by the  Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN). With MNN, I have produced and filmed movies, documentaries and events. I host my own show with the Youth Channel called: “90° with Beverly: Where We Look at the News from a Different Angle.”  I also work behind the scenes and as a host for BronxNet’s “Open 2.0” show, which is a live weekly program.  During the fall I also report for the New York Association of Black Journalist’s “First Take” workshop.
One of my biggest accomplishments thus far is being recognized for my journalistic professionalism during a workshop run by television news anchor Sade Baderinwa.  I am equally proud of receiving an award from NYU’s Urban Journalism Workshop for Most Enterprising Reporter; and being offered the job of Editor-in-Chief for this newspaper.
On a more personal note,  I’m a very happy person by nature, someone who always likes to make others smile and laugh. I question everything, because I don’t believe in taking anything for granted. A lot of people are scared of change so they keep their mouths shut and settle for less.  I prefer to ask questions that allow me to explore all my options.




Roberta Nin Feliz – Copy Editor/Writer
_MG_4947My name is Roberta Nin Feliz and I’m a sophomore. I’m Dominican but I was born on the small Caribbean island of Curacao. I’m really into philosophy and feminism. When I grow up, I want to be a journalist or a college professor.







Vinzente Fedele- Copy Editor

I am a copy editor of MCSM RamPage and part of the graduating class of 2016. I edit for the RamPage because I love grammar, and I wanted something interesting to do with my time other than school work. As a member of the Advanced Science Research (ASR) Program, I am very interested in neuroscience, and I look forward to working with a mentor who shares the same fascination for the brain as I do.

Rebeca Mora- Lifestyle Writer/ Freelancer
_MG_4959Rebeca writes lifestyle articles that appeal to her generation and the social struggles they face. She loves being a social butterfly and speaking out to make others feel welcome. This is her last year in MCSM, which means it is her last year on the Varsity Softball team. Rebeca aspires to be an early-childhood special education teacher. She enjoys hanging out with her friends, laughing, and most of all eating!


Zohura Choudhury – Fashion Writer
ZOHURAAAAAAAAAAAZohura Choudhury, is her name. She took her first breath on January 5, 1995 at 2:30 a.m., so technically she was born on January 6th, 1995 at 2:30 a.m. She was left back in 1st grade, but she’s glad that she was because she has great friends and couldn’t ask for anything better.
She enjoys playing sports, especially volleyball. She likes to create her own outfits, and fashion is one of her favorite pastimes. She loves to venture out to try new things, and go to new places. But if she were permitted to do only one thing all day long, she would just watch movies and TV shows!
Her favorite film series is Harry Potter, which basically sums up her childhood. When she was eleven she hoped with all her heart that she would get an invitation from Hogwarts School of Witch Craft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, she never received one until her seventeenth birthday. One of her closest friends handcrafted an invitation and acceptance letter to Hogwarts. This was ironic because when you are seventeen you graduate from Hogwarts! But she thought that this was the best present she ever received.
She is also a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and its prequel, The Hobbit. This is because when she first bought an Xbox, LOTR was her first game. It was probably also the best video game she ever played. Unfortunately, she gave her Xbox along with the game to her younger cousin in London out of the kindness of her heart; she regrets it to this day. But it was for her cousin and she hopes he likes the game as much as she did.

Her favorite TV series of all time is Gossip Girl. New York is everything to her; she believes that it truly is the greatest city in the world. She has a younger brother, an older sister, and loves her parents.
Well, that is all you need to know about her! If you want to know more, add her on facebook!





Larry Castellanos- Photographer

_MG_5185Good things do come in small packages! Larry Castellanos, a senior at MCSM is a well rounded young adult who stands slightly above 5 feet. Easily distinguishable by his preppy style and pompadour hairdo, he can indeed be noticed even amongst the tallest of crowds. He plays piano in his free time and enjoys jogging. Founder of Humans of MCSM on Instagram, Larry is into photography and is a featured photographer on the RamPage.






Aimee Capellan – Health and Wellness Writer
Aimee99% of the time, if you see Aimee, she is racing to class or trying to finish up homework. Her introverted personality influences others to believe that’s what she’s all about–academics. In reality, this native Dominican is passionate about the sciences and physical well-being.
Aimee has had a love for Chemistry since she took her first course in sophomore year. She aspires to major in Chemistry and pursue a career that puts it into practice. She is also a health enthusiast; you might see her carrying around homemade lunches, heading to Track and Field, going to Cross Country practice, or brainstorming recipe ideas to post on the MCSM rampage. Her other interests include listening to old rock music and worshipping a band named Nirvana.





Tatyanna Morales- Writer/Freelancer
_MG_5021Tatyanna Morales is a dedicated writer who wants to spread her ideas to others through literature. As a senior in Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, she writes articles for her peers, and hopes to graduate leaving something behind as an inspiration for others to explore the creativity of writing.
Along with wanting to become an author, she wants to pursue a career as a veterinarian because she has a great passion for animals. She is active in the Glee Club and the Botanical Gardens Internship. During her free time, she enjoys singing, reading, and listening to music.
Oswego is her dream school, because there she will be able to work hands-on with what she loves (or rather with those she loves), which are animals.



Nakib Kabir- Sports Writer

_MG_5017Nakib Kabir is a writer for the Rampage at MCSM who enjoys sports and American politics. He is a member of the Varsity Baseball team at MCSM and loves all the sports Manhattan Center takes part in. He is interested in majoring in Political Science or Journalism with the hope of becoming a journalist when he gets older.





Minul Asgar- Writer/ Freelancer
_MG_4944Minul Asgar is a round-headed junior who is a general reporter on MCSM’s newspaper staff. Minul does not know what he wishes to pursue in his near future, but he hopes to figure it out someday; in or out of school. Although Minul does not reveal all of his habits, he does show his interest in the arts and in literature. He has two hands, two feet, two ears, two eyes, one mouth, one nose but one too many states of mind!
Favorite quote:
“If you are happy, then you are successful. “




Yeritza Mejia- Book Reviewer/ Freelancer
IMG_0027Yeritza Mejia is a sophomore at MCSM. She is a book and movie reviewer, and sometimes she contributes to the creative writing section of the newspaper. Her middle name is Esperanza and her last name is Reyes. Both last names come from her mother, but her middle name came from the mother of her father. She loves writing and her dream is to someday find one of her novels in a library or book store. One of her idols is the novelist Alexandra Adornetto who wrote her first novel at 14 years old! One of her hobbies is modeling. She studies at Mundo Hispano Modeling Academy of New York and will graduate in March 2014 from the advanced class after almost 2 years of training.




Oguljennet Kurbandurdyyeva- Freelancer/ Short Story Writer

photoMy name is Jennet. I traveled from Europe ,to here in New York . I am a fiction writer. I usually write my stories about psychology, love and World War 2. The way Americans think is way different from mine. So I decided to share my ideas with you guys. I love to write because when I write, I feel like I am the most freest and happiest person. Classical music is my best friend while I am writing. I hope my stories will give you guys a great way of thinking  from my point of  view.





 Louis-Henri -Website Designer

Louis-Henri, July 2013 (3)Louis-Henri is currently a junior at MCSM. He is an avid programmer. He enjoys programming from website development and apps to robotics. Louis-Henri wants to become a computer engineer.











Cristianel Gil- Photographer 

IMG_0016My name is Cristianel and I`m sophomore at MCSM. I try to help everyone as much as I can so no one would get left out from what they can learn. I am the photographer for MCSM RamPage and I have been taking pictures since January 2014. I have a lot more to learn in the art of photography but I keep getting better every day.






Penda Smith-Poet

photo (2)

Hey there! My name is Penda Smith and I am currently in the 10th Grade. I was born and raised in Manhattan. Poetry has always been a passionate way of life for me. It is one of the vital factors that have helped me overcome obstacles that hinder me from achieving my goals. I really hope you enjoy reading my poems as much as I enjoyed writing them.
P.S : If you are a writer, don’t be afraid to submit your work so all can view it! I love hearing and reading new poems.

SPORTS: MCSM Varsity Basketball Team`s Past and Future

“Hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard”                                                        -Kevin Durant READY! (This Is Just the Beginning…) GET SET! (Is it Possible?) GO!          The following photo essay asks members of our basketball team to offer personal insight into their preparations for the upcoming season. Our regular sports correspondent has high hopes for a winning […]

“Dear XYZ” is an advice column started by three students; each letter represents a different person. They answer questions regarding student life. Each advisor has their own opinion on how to best answer your question, resulting in a variety of ways to help you.

If you would like to submit a question for the advice column, please drop off your question in the red box in the counselor’s office, or email XYZ at dearxyzrampage@gmail.com.

Please keep your questions appropriate and state your name in your message. If you`d like, you can state your identity as “anonymous”.

XYZ is looking forward to answering your questions!

Mr. Brooks Interview

By Roberta Nin Feliz

Mr. Noel Brooks is an English teacher here at MCSM. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his life and role as a teacher for our curious readers!

BroQ: What’s one thing about teenagers you will never seem to understand, and why?

A: Well, I suppose mostly it’s when kids are in denial about their grades. When they have a really bad grade and I ask them “How are you going to improve this?” and they just respond “I’m going improve it.” I don’t understand how they don’t seem to notice that they’re not doing the work… they’re not doing the reading, or not passing the quizzes. So it’s sort of like a state of denial. I mean I suppose that’s true for people in general because a lot of people live in denial, it’s not just teenagers.

Q: When have you been most satisfied with your life?

A: I think when I’m doing something that’s creative. I feel the most satisfied with my life when I’m able to express something that has a strong creative component to it. It could be anything, like sometimes teaching is creative, or sometimes drawing is creative. It depends on the moment but those are the most satisfying moments for me–the creative moments.

Q: What’s the hardest part about being a teacher?

A: The hardest part is giving grades. That’s true for a lot of teachers, it’s really tough.

Q: Why?

A: Because you want to be fair. I don’t know what kids think but I don’t like to fail students. It’s very hard when students fail, it makes me feel bad.

Q: Do you think that the “numbers” on students’ report cards accurately represent a student’s true intelligence?

A: No. They have nothing to do with intelligence. I don’t think it has anything to do with it.

Q: If you could go back in time and relive a moment, what moment would it be?

A: The moment when I dropped out of school.

Q: Why?

A: I wish I hadn’t dropped out. I wish I had stayed in college. It was dumb

Q: Really?

A: Yeah, yeah it was really dumb, but whatever.

Q: Do you think it’s possible to know the truth without challenging it first? And why?

A: Boy, that’s a heavy question. I don’t know quite what it means to challenge the truth. I know what it means to challenge authority. [*chuckles*] But I don’t know what it means to challenge the truth. I don’t know how you challenge the truth. It is the lies which you challenge. You challenge lies, not truth.

Q: What if you think the “truth” is a lie?

A: Well if you think the truth is a lie then I guess you’re just mistaken, you don’t know what’s real. I think most of us go through a process of trying to figure out what the truth is and very often we’re mistaken. We make mistakes and we think something is maybe a lie and it turns out to be the truth…but that’s the process of growing. I mean it depends on what you mean by truth and lies. Truth is a very relative concept. Whether truth even exists, I’m not totally sure. I don’t know whether it exists, it might or it might not. But truth is relative to a large degree, and truth is also an abstraction that’s pretty hard to pin down. When you say something is true, I don’t know what you mean by that. I mean we could fill a library, and people have, with what you mean by truth. It’s a philosophical question: What is the truth? This is called essentially, epistemology. This is an epistemological question: what can you know? What is it possible to know? Truth is one of the things that you don’t know if you can know it or not.

Q: To what degree do you feel you’ve controlled the course your life has taken?

A: I feel like I’ve made a lot choices, and I suppose in the end I’m probably what is known as an existentialist. An existentialist more or less believes that you’re responsible for most of the choices in your life. I think most us are responsible one way or another. Again that’s a pretty heavy philosophical question because there are things in our life we don’t control. We don’t control our death, we don’t control our birth or sex. We don’t control many things about what we are or where we’re born. But we definitely do make a lot of choices and every choice takes you down a different road.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read Robert Frost’s poem where he wrote, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” It’s about the choices we make in life. He has to decide which one he’s going to take, which road am I going to take? That’s the way life is. We constantly have to take one road or the other, so you choose. Robert Frost says ,”Way leads on to way” and it’s about the various different ways you can go. I think we are responsible in that sense and yeah there are certainly many things in our lives that we don’t control. For example, we don’t control the weather, we don’t control other people, and we don’t control all kinds of things. I can walk out of here tomorrow, a brick could fall on my head, and that’s not under my control.

Q: What was your major in college and what made you want to pursue it?

A: I had a double major in English and Philosophy. I pursued English because I like literature a lot. I actually did an English writing major because I like to write. I pursued philosophy because I think philosophy is just one of the most important subjects. I think everybody should study philosophy. I think if we studied more philosophy our lives would be more enlightened. We would make decisions more carefully, and think more about what we did if we thought more about things in a philosophical way.

Q: What was the hardest part of high school for you?

A: Staying there. I hated high school.

Q: Why?

A: Because I thought it was a bunch of crap, I thought most of what we learned was useless and I didn’t see the point of it. I didn’t understand what the purpose of education was. I didn’t know why I was there and I didn’t like the atmosphere. I didn’t like that it seemed very confining and very limiting. I believed there was a lot of petty stuff in social life, and the process through which we try to figure things out about males, females, and life. It was a very confusing time for me. I hated high school. I really did.

Q: So do you understand the purpose of high school, now that you’re a teacher?

A: Do I understand it? Not entirely. I have mixed feelings about high school. Sometimes I think high school is not such a great thing. Sometimes I feel like high school does a lot to get children to conform to certain standards that may not necessarily help them in their lives but may make them more sort of like robots. Sometimes I think that schooling in general–but particularly maybe high school–is aimed at making kids into conformists rather than individuals. I think that a lot of the whole emphasis on grades very often takes students down that road where they’re too worried about grades and not worried enough about themselves. For example, people who make moral choices are individuals who have to decide the difficult problems in life. Grades are, in my view, not that important. I don’t think they ultimately mean that much in life. I think the important things in life have to do with who you are as a person and what your values are.

Q: What do you think is the most distinctive trait of the MCSM community?

A: The most distinctive trait I think is the student body. I think the students are generally really good students, they’re nice and they’re smart. I think that’s a really distinctive thing about the school, that it has really good students.












Dear XYZ,

How can I become healthy?


X says:

​        Drink water! Replacing soda and juice with water is the easiest way to improve your health. I always carry a water bottle with me and fill it in the morning, so I have something to drink during school. Also, instead of taking the bus to school, you should walk. It’s a couple of blocks from the train to the school, and if you walk every day, those few blocks will help you stay fit. Little things like that can help you be and stay healthy.

Y says:

             Well there are many ways someone can get healthy; eating right is probably the main one. Moderate portion sizes and eating healthy foods, as opposed to eating unhealthy/junk food, are good choices to make. You have to know what foods are good for your body and watch the amount of sugar, calories, sodium, and cholesterol you consume each day.

            Another thing you can do to stay healthy is get enough sleep. Surprisingly, sleeping eight hours a night, as opposed to the five or six hours of sleep we teenagers are used to, can be a huge factor in how you feel and act throughout the day. Someone who has eight hours of sleep can focus better in school than someone running on five hours of sleep.

           Lastly, you can exercise. Exercising seems not to appeal to everyone, however walking at least 30 minutes a day can be a significant factor in achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Z says:

          The number one key to become healthy in school is to bring your own lunch. By doing this, you will ultimately save money and you have the benefit of knowing exactly what you’re eating. If you know you are a person who generally eats chips, make sure you replace them by eating a granola bar or trail mix.

           To stay physically active, join a sports team or work out with your friends. Exercising with your friends is much more fun than exercising by yourself and it can be more efficient.

Dear XYZ,

How can I be more organized?


X says:

​        A way to stay organized is by having a folder for each class. Folders are affordable and practical; they fit anywhere. Have an agenda! This will make your life a lot easier and it’s very helpful. It will be the center of your world if you use this agenda on a daily basis. Another way to be organized is to have a place for all your school stuff at home. Choose either a table or desk as a regular place to put your textbooks so you won’t lose them.

Y says:

      Organization is something that I’ve also had to work on, so I’m going share the techniques that I’ve learned through my years of high school.

       Number one, have a certain place for everything. Knowing where you are going to put your papers and important worksheets makes them easier to find later on. I would also suggest making a folder for each class.

        Number two, have a daily planner. This helps when you have appointments, meetings, tests, or even just basic tasks that you need to remember. It makes things much easier when you are able to see everything written down.

        Number three, time management! Distributing your time evenly and knowing when you need extra time is a huge advantage in high school life. Because you have so much going on, you might find yourself staying up late to finish everything you need for tomorrow. Once you get the hang of your classes and the workload, distributing your time will become easier.

Z says:

         Make sure you have appropriate folders for every class. Have a school planner out and ready to make notes at the end of every class! I suggest you write every homework assignment down and make additional small reminders to yourself. Keep your class notes neat and clean! If you can, rewrite your class notes when you get home; it’s also a great way to study.

How would the government shutdown affect students?

How would the government shutdown affect students?

               For the past couple of weeks, the whole country has been buzzing about the government shutdown. Although the term is used so often on Meems and Facebook, most don`t know what a government shutdown really means. Initially, when I started this article I realized that it would be in the best interest of readers to abandon partisanship, which I have to admit is difficult.

What is the government shutdown?

The whole country has been groaning since October 1st, as if our world was going to end, using this ‘government shutdown’ term. Well, because of a couple of knuckleheads in Congress, this entire body of legislators upset the American people by halting the flow of operating funds to government agencies. As a result approximately 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, while 1.3 million employees were forced to work without pay. In simpler terms, Congress was so obsessed with bickering that they ignored their responsibilities to those they were elected to represent. Countless agencies like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and Department of Homeland Security were either partially opened or completely closed. This left our country and its citizens susceptible to any sort of attack, might it be a terrorist bombing or a food-borne disease outbreak leading to deaths. So frankly, the government shutting down does seem pre-apocalyptic.
What happened to the workers who were furloughed? When one gets “furloughed”, do they receive pay? Who ran these partially open agencies when they were open, and were they compensated? Being furloughed means a worker is granted a temporary layoff by their employer for an indefinite amount of time, which is what happened in the case of our federal workers. In this circumstance, furloughed federal workers might or might not have gotten paid after they returned to work fifteen days later when the government reopened. According to CNN Money, the amount of money these employees may be owed could be as much as $115 million a day collectively. But this is only if furloughed workers are granted retroactive pay. This decision is left up to our “wonderful” and “productive” legislature.

Those lucky federal workers that didn’t get furloughed suddenly discovered how important they were. Those agencies affected by the shutdown furloughed workers based on their level of importance. If your job was considered crucial you got to keep it, if it was deemed unimportant you were furloughed.

How does the government shutdown affect the students of Manhattan Center?

Now, you may wonder, how does all this affect the students of Manhattan Center? It is quite understandable if students don’t believe they were affected by the government shutdown because the after-effects of the shutdown haven’t “trickled down” (as Republicans might say) yet. However, here are some ways that the shutdown did affect us. Those of us with younger siblings in daycare programs (such as Headstart), might have noticed that they stayed home every day from the 1st to the 16th of October. Tourist sites, specifically the Statue of Liberty, were closed; so for those fifteen days vendors selling overpriced goods to impressionable tourists were silently furloughed too, losing income needed to support their families. If “grandma” or “grandpa”, received social security payments that came late, they couldn’t pay bills on time, and Medicare payments (elderly health benefits) were either paid later than usual or not at all. New York is home to 26,696 federal employees, which means 26,696 families in this great state of ours were affected by this mess and any of their children could be attending our school.

Government shutdown ended on October 17, 2013, what happens now?

We hold hands, “sing kumbaya”, and hope that Congress never does this again…I wish! What happens from now onward is that since Congress was finally able to reach a short term agreement to reopen the government and even raise the debt ceiling, they will go back to arguing over a new budget due in eight weeks. If they can’t work it out, we will be back to that pre-apocalyptic scenario again, in which everybody loses. Since this is a money matter, the government shutdown cost American taxpayers (your parents) $24 billion in lost economic output, or 0.6 percent of projected annualized GDP (Gross Domestic Product) development, according to Standard and Poors (a wealthy credit agency). Yay! Let’s thank our elected officials once again for riding us roughshod over the fiscal cliff and losing more of our economy, no matter what political excuse they use to justify causing this loss.
On a serious note, it has been a privilege explaining the terms of the government shutdown. Just remember that decisions made on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. do affect us in our homes wherever we live.