Saving the Pups One Penny At A Time

Freshmen raise money to help rescue animals facing euthanasia


Across America, there are roughly 13,600 community animal shelters according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Although some shelters include "humane society" in their titles, many, especially in the south where it is legal to use gas chambers, euthanize animals.

However, most ELHS students are in love with their furry friends, so it was no wonder that when two freshmen heard about the cruel conditions of these animal shelters they decided to take  action.

Over winter break, freshman Sana Gupta began working with Friday’s Rescue Foundation, a non-profit organization based in southeastern Connecticut that focuses on rescuing dogs and cats from high-kill shelters, rehabilitating them, and finding a loving family for them.

Many of the rescued animals are older, abused, or injured dogs, who are less likely to be adopted than a young puppy.

"There are so many older dogs who are just as sweet and lovable and really deserve a home. People should want to help them out," said freshman Becca Paggioli, a friend that Gupta asked to do the project with her.

Currently, they are organizing a fundraiser to raise and donate money to the Friday’s Rescue Foundation for not only food and medicine, but also to provide a more safe and clean environment for the rescued animals.

"I always wanted to do something like this so when Sana asked me to do this project with her,

I was really happy. I have a dog, and I could not imagine life without him," Paggioli said.

Their main fundraiser will be a coin war among the grades, which will take place from Feb. 27 through March 3. The girls are also looking to organize a Jeans Day for the teachers and more.

With the help of their friends, family, and their advisor, Ms. Downing, Sana and Becca hope that fundraisers for the Friday’s Rescue Foundation will be annual.

"We hope that we can pass this along to some fifth graders, or to anyone really. They can set up more fundraisers for these animals and then it will be passed on a gain, like a chain reaction," Gupta said.

Millenials Make Impact Across the Board

ELHS graduates stand as the BOE’s newest and youngest members


Younger doesn’t mean lesser. In fact, it can even give the upper hand in many situations. ELHS grads of 2008, John Kleinhans and Leigh Gianakos, have proved the power of the millennial in their new positions on the Board of Education for East Lyme.

John Kleinhans

Mr. Kleinhans moved to East Lyme when he was 16 and completed his last two years of high school in the district. When he came in as a junior, Mr. Kleinhans was not yet used to the higher expectation of East Lyme students. However it was not long until he was very passionate in his academics.

Mr. Kleinhans graduated from Lyndon State College and went on to get a masters degree in public administration from Norwich University and work as the Executive Director of the Republican Party. He now owns a digital marketing agency out of Hartford while serving on the Board of Ed.

"Any organization gets product feedback from the consumer to make improvements. Having John on the Board brings a wider age range and the perspective of someone who has been a ‘consumer’ in the school district recently," said Rose Ann Hardy, Mr. Kleinhans former Contemporary Issues teacher at ELHS.

Mr. Kleinhans filled the vacancy in the Board when Paul Formica and Mark Nickerson brought it to his attention last year. Since then the experience has been fulfilling and eye-opening. With his background in politics and his millennial perspective, John’s place on the Board is very respected.

"If it wasn’t for ELHS I wouldn’t have taken the risks I did; that school pride made me who I am and on the Board I want to give that to all the current and future students," Mr. Kleinhans said.


Leigh Gianakos

Leigh (McNamara) Gianakos was born and raised in East Lyme. She always had a passion for education and after attending college at Northeastern University she decided to join Teach For America, a program that moves towards education equity in low-income communities. She taught sixth grade in Tennessee to students who on average read at a second grade reading level. After what she considers some of the hardest work in her life, most students gained two reading levels in one year.

Her drive to enhance literacy brought her back home where she now works for Achievement First, a group of charter schools, tasked with hiring the best teachers for Hartford schools. Ms. Gianakos’ involvement in education does not stop there. She saw the recent opening on the Board of Ed. for East Lyme and sought an interview. She is now the newest and youngest member of the Board working to better East Lyme schools universally.

"Leigh believes that every kid can learn, every kid can succeed, and every kid should have the same opportunities. Her investment in education and community brings a lot to the board," said Leigh Gianakos’ mother- in-law and WISE teacher, Freda Gianakos.

Leigh is grateful for her East Lyme education and she hopes that by joining the Board, she can ensure the same outstanding preparation for life to East Lyme’s next generation of students. East Lyme’s high expectations of students and sense of community make it stand out among school systems across the nation. Ms. Gianakos hopes to serve for a long time on the Board, ensuring that East Lyme priorities their students and teachers.

"East Lyme is my home. This is my investment and working on the Board allows me to give back and be involved in a school system that gave me so much," Ms. Gianakos said.

Police Warn Residents to Lock Up After Recent Break-Ins

How crime is affecting the towns


A picture perfect beach town and rural area thought to only have cows must be safe. There is no need to lock doors when in a middle class town. This exact mindset has only fed into the crimes that have recently taken place in East Lyme.

"In the past few years the amount of burglary in residences has increased and has become one of the more common crimes committed here. This would be linked to the use of heroin and crack or really any drug addicts trying to obtain money for their drug habits," Sergeant Bruce Babcock said.

In some respect, CT might seem to be getting safer, as from 2014 to 2015 there was just over an 8 percent decrease in violent crime, from 8,575 violent crimes being committed to 7,845. However, according to the FBI Uniform Reporting, during this same time frame the amount of motor vehicle theft, rape, and property crime all increased. A violent crime has to involve force or threat of force, so even though most cases that deal with burglaries or other crimes have force, there was a large increase in other types of violent crime, including murder.

"I didn’t think I would ever feel so scared and unsafe while in my house in Salem, but I felt exactly like that after my house was broken into. Even after taking more precautions and putting extra locks on the doors and checking that the windows were closed every night, I now realized that this could affect anyone," sophomore Hannah Anthony said.

Anthony’s home had a signifigant amount of jewelry stolen in September. Like many burglars, this person was targeting houses in Salem, East Lyme, Montville, and Waterford. He broke in through the back door when no one was home. By the time this robber was convicted two months after breaking into Anthony’s home, they had accumulated six warrants for their arrest.

"It felt like a violation of our privacy and our safe place because it happened in our home. It is one of those things that you never feel is going to happen to you personally," said senior Laura London whose home was robbed this January, while she was inside.

Laura’s home was broken into through the garage and the robber went through the basement then stole a laptop, purse, watch, backpack, camera, two pairs of headphones, and cash. Since the burglary more features were added to the previous security system, such as cameras.

In order to prevent these kinds of crimes people should use common sense to do simple things to ensure safety, for example locking all doors and hiding things that could be in plain sight in a car. In addition, residents can tell the police when they are going away on vacation and for how long to help prevent crime from occurring.

I'm Dreaming of a Politically Correct Christmas

The chilling touch of freshly fallen snow, the pleasuring taste of freshly baked sugar cookies, the sight of vibrant lights draped over doorways, the smell of a freshly cut pine tree, and the low hum of familiar Christmas carols. It is hard to argue that your senses are not stimulated by these aspects of Christmas during December. However, this common description sharply contradicts what one would feel, taste, see, touch, and hear during December in public schools.

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Strarting a Conversation on Mental Health

Mental illness affects one-third of the American population and one-fifth of the American youth population (13-18). Yet despite these alarming statistics, mental health is continuously stigmatized and even ridiculed in American culture. Those who seek out help are seen as dramatic or weak. The youth population, especially those who grew up in the 2000s, are experiencing an increasing number of mental health cases. Social media, the everyday stressors of school, and living in an era of social and economic turmoil may contribute to a notably fragile and overwhelmed generation.

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Hoops to Heroin to Hope

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, students filed into the North Gym expecting another boring lecture about why drugs and alcohol are bad. Instead, they were in for a shock when former NBA star Chris Herren spoke about his experiences with addiction, and managed to keep every student mesmerized for 60 minutes.

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New Teacherz on Da Block

by Paul Chang and Peter Tauro

Stephanie Smith

Department: Science

Teaches: Chemistry A, Chemistry Com.

Ms.Smith has been teaching for five years. In her time as a middle school teacher and a teacher at Morgan High School, she has been dedicated to sharing her passion for math with her students and encourage them to enjoy it as much as her. Ms.Smith is an avid kayaker and recalls the highlight of her summer as hurtling down a Vermont river with her whole family. She is excited to be part of the ELHS  community.

Lisa Marie Miodonka

Department: Science

Teaches: Integrated Science

Ms. Miodonka is an Integrated Science teacher. Before coming to East Lyme she was an Environmental Science teacher at the Marine Bio School in Groton. One of her favorite activities is going for a run. Over the summer Ms. Miodonka went kayaking with friends and also, became an aunt. "I look forward to when you see students get something and the light goes on," said Ms.  Miodonka.

Mark Kuhlwein

Department: Science

Teaches: Chemistry A, Chemistry Com.

Mr. K is a Chemistry A and Chem Com teacher in his first year. He taught in Massachusetts for five years before arriving at ELHS. Mr. K enjoys hiking, and over the summer enjoyed a camping trip on Fire Island in New York. "I can’t wait to get to know everyone, and am eager to get involved with the school and students," said Mr. Kuhlwein. "I enjoy meeting new people so please feel free to introduce yourself!"

Kelly Nelson

Department: Math

Teaches: Algebra II A, Algebra II B

To say Ms. Nelson is a multi-faceted individual is an understatement. She is equally handy at crocheting as playing Splatoon on the Wii U. Ms.Nelson is looking forward to both seeing her students growth in the classroom as well as getting to know them outside the classroom. She fondly recalls watching the Boston Pops play on the 4th of July this past summer and is looking forward to similarly exciting events here at ELHS.

Caroline Harper

Department: Math

Teaches: Algebra II A, Geometry B

Ms. Harper moved from Maryland this past June with her newlywed husband. After enjoying a lovely honeymoon, the couple decided to set down their roots in East Lyme. Ms.Harper has been a teacher for four and a half years. She enjoys coaching gymnastics and doing crossfit in her free time. She lives for the ‘ah hah’ moments in her students and is very excited to get to know the community. her students progress.

ELHS Cleans Up Niantic Beaches

Teachers and Students Join Forces to Clean the Town

by Sean Heaney

On Sep 17, around 50 volunteers participated in a community clean up event, picking up trash around our beaches.

Science teachers Laura Ashburn and Holly Buckley have been Captains of the "Save the Sound" beach cleanups of the three beaches in Niantic for over 10 years.

The volunteers collected 130 pounds of trash this year, which, impressively, is nothing out of the ordinary.

Save the Sound, according to their website, "is working for a cleaner, healthier, and more vibrant Long Island Sound, where humans and marine life can prosper year-round."

"It started as just Ms. Buckley and I going out to other beaches regionally and volunteering [for the thing], but eventually we joined forces and decided to become Captains," said  Ashburn.

This experience had a positive impact on the students who went as well. While they clean the beach, they are getting a sense of pride and appreciation for the beautiful town (and world) they live in.

"I enjoyed cleaning the environment because we only have one earth," said junior volunteer Ryan Quelle.

Citizens of East Lyme may think that their town is garbage free, but that is far from the  truth.

"You would be amazed at how much we find," said Ashburn.

Students can testify to this point.

"I learned that there is a lot more trash on this beach area than you’d think. Just between two people, we picked up over 150 pieces of garbage," said Quelle.

The beach cleanup can be seen as a beautiful display outside Ms. Buckley’s room, in a glass  case.

"It’s important to be eco-friendly as it helps our health and keeps the planet clean for future generations and the other animals and people," said Quelle.

Everyone can agree that the work that these teachers and students are putting in is noble, and greatly beneficial to our planet’s health, and community’s well being. This is the kind of event that should be encouraged and rewarded, yet these volunteers expect no thanks in return. The greatest thanks would be for everyone to be environmentally conscience moving forward by doing their part in keeping the earth clean.



Lending a Helping Hand

Three Rivers Community College re-establishes the College Pathway

by Joyce Lin

At the start of the school year, students are faced with not only the stress of academics, extracurricular, and sports, but also choosing and getting into a college. Then there is more added stress over student loans and the college classes that must be taken. But, with the help of Three Rivers Community College, many students can get the stress off their backs.

This year, East Lyme High School is once again partnering up with Three Rivers Community College for the College Career Pathway (CCP) Program.

The CCP Program is a dual enrollment program administered by Three Rivers College, which allows students to learn in their familiar high school environment, while gaining the college course experience and receiving both credit and a college transcript after successfully completing the  course.

This program offers college credit for certain classes, such as: Algebra 2H, Algebra 2A, Algebra 2B, Chemistry H, Anatomy & Physiology H, Marine Biology 1, Physics, and Pre-Kindergarten Lab. These classes are completely free of charge, and as long as students maintain a grade of 73 or higher, they can earn college credit for that class.

"It’s a great opportunity that has an added benefit of college credits," said guidance counselor, Elizabeth Maise, who has been working along with Three Rivers on the CCP program for five years. "I strongly push this program because you’re not committing to anything new; why wouldn’t you do it."

Not only is this program beneficial to students but, it also gives many teachers who are instructing the offered courses the chance to become certified Three Rivers Community College adjunct instructors.

Furethermore, students will be able to save money on college tuition, reduce the classes taken in college, and can even graduate from college early.

"Taking the free Three Rivers courses would mean that I could get out of taking a Chemistry class in college. That would save money because I wouldn’t have to pay for that class or a textbook. Plus, if I do decently, it will go on my transcript and hopefully help my GPA in college," said junior Nathan am Ende.

While the CCP Program does offer immediate acceptance to Three Rivers Community College, it does not mean the student is requried to attend Three Rivers. Students can transfer their CCP Credits to any two or four year institution that accepts the credits.

Unfortunately, the deadline for the registration was Sept. 28, but this is a great program to keep in mind for upcoming years. Most students apply sophomore year and then take CCP courses junior or senior year. However, students are welcome to take the courses earlier in their high school career.

REACHing For a Better Community

How REACH became the new goal for East Lyme High School

by Hannah Belleville

For most of the student body, REACH is a program they were introduced to on the first day of school through a video starring the one and only Matt Spang, an East Lyme High School alumni. The point of the video was to influence people to treat the school and their classmates with respect and  kindness.

REACH is a way to establish positive expectations. It stands for Responsibility, Empathy, Achievement, Collaboration, and Honesty. A rubric was put together to demonstrate what each of these would like look in the hall, classroom, and as an audience  member.

"The main reason we created REACH is we want our school to be successful in all aspects of education meaning not only academics, but also the social behavioral component, our climate and culture in essence," said Principal Michael Susi.

For a long time, teachers and the administration have been talking about school climate and what could be done to improve it. Last year’s racial incident during Spirit Week was the last  straw.

"[Spirit Week] forced us to take a hard look at our community and recognize we have a lot of work to do," said Mr. Susi. REACH is a tool that ELHS has implemented to help establish expectations of  students.

"We are a good school with great kids and great faculty. I think there is a lot of kindness and caring that happens every day here, but these behaviors sometimes detract from that," said Mr. Susi.

Last year, before the Spirit Week incident, a five year committee was started to determine what ELHS will look like in five years. Twenty five teachers are currently on the committee and have identified some major topics that should be focused on for the next five years. One of the areas is school climate. From this committee evolved the REACH program. Some members received feedback from the rest of the group and created REACH and what it means as a way of bettering school climate. The video was a way to get a peer talking to a peer, rather than administration telling students what to do; connecting to the student body more effectively.

The point of REACH is to set a positive tone without minimizing last year’s event. REACH is not a punishment, but a tool to help make ELHS a better place and make the students even better citizens.

"We are a good school with great kids and great faculty. I think there is a lot of kindness and caring that happens every day here, but these behaviors sometimes detract from that," said Mr. Susi.

While there is still work to be done around racism, bigotry, and being unkind to one another, REACH is the way that ELHS will be able to not just improve the school climate, but also improve the world that we are living in today which is dealing with the same issues.