The Spartanite The official student news site of Oak Lawn Community High School Wed, 02 Oct 2019 20:54:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Remembering 9/11: America’s Worst Tragedy Wed, 02 Oct 2019 20:54:20 +0000 September 11, 2001 was one of the most tragic attacks in our nation’s history. A terrorist group named Al-Qaeda flew planes into the twin towers of The World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and one into a field at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 lives were lost and several thousand more injured.

We, as a nation, still remember those who were lost on September 11, 2001, and this event has been implanted in United States history forever. This year, on the anniversary of the attacks, several teachers at Oak Lawn High School spent their days teaching about September 11, and sharing their own personal experiences of what they were doing on that day.
One of those teachers was our very own Mr. Patrick DiFilippo.
“I was in my second year teaching at the time,” Mr. DiFilippo said. He recalled that he was teaching when a plane hit the first tower. “Mr.McGee came and told me about it. I thought it was a horrible tragedy, that there had maybe been fog.”
However, when a plane hit the second tower, Mr. DiFilippo knew that something was wrong.

“Mr.McGee came and told me again, and that’s when I realized it wasn’t an accident,” he said.

The North tower was hit at 8:46 AM by the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11. Twenty minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South tower at 9:03 AM. American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the western face of the Pentagon at 9:37 AM. A fourth and final flight, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03 AM.
Both of the towers eventually collapsed, killing nearly everyone trapped inside. Emergency personnel risked their lives to help others, running through the toxic dust to search for survivors.

The entire country was affected that day, with many remembering the event like it was yesterday. Several Americans lost loved ones in the attack, and more than 200 children lost a parent. Even nowadays, former police officers and firefighters are suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.

When asked how it impacted his life, Mr.DiFilippo stated, “I think it got rid of an idea that we’re always safe. I guess I was pretty naive up until this day, that a tragedy like that can happen, whether it be terrorism or these horrible school shootings. Now, I pay attention to my surroundings and am more aware.”

Observing September 11th is crucial to preserving our nation’s history. Now, every year, the entire country stands as Americans, united as one, as we remember those who lost their lives and those who risked their own to save others.

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Teens Take Over at The Field Wed, 02 Oct 2019 20:42:43 +0000

Over the summer, the Field Museum of Natural History had a very special program; several dozen local (and a few not so local) teenagers were brought in to help bring a more interactive experience to museum patrons. This was the summer Teen Volunteer Program, of which I was a part of.

The program was under the jurisdiction of Aimee Davis, the Public Learning Experience Manager and was led by this summer’s mentors, Mark and Josh, two incoming college freshmen who participated in the program in the past. The program seeks to use local teens to enrich the experiences of patrons and inspire others to eventually pursue the sciences, both physical and social. Using a rotation of carts and stations, many different experiences are provided by these Teen Volunteers.

Starting on the lower floor there are two stations in the children’s playlab, the Art Studio, in which volunteers help children and parents with a special craft, and the Dino Dig, where children can “excavate” casts of the bones of SUE, and the volunteers help them clean up for the next explorer. Outside the playlab there is the earth timeline, where guests guess where events should be placed on earth’s 4.5 billion year timeline, the shoes cart, where shoes from many different cultures and contexts are explained to passersby, and the mummy cart, where the teens go through a sped up version of the entire Egyptian process of mummification.

Upstairs there are three stations with two carts: the camouflage cart, which showcases the variety of camouflage and its uses in nature using real specimens of camouflaged animals, and the prehistoric life cart, which uses casts of fossils (and a couple real ones) to illustrate the diversity of life in earth’s past. The standalone station is the fossils in the floor, where teens go on their own to introduce guests to the museums most interesting and least known feature, the floor; embedded in the limestone tiles of the Stanley Field Hall are the remains of thousands of prehistoric invertebrates of multiple phyla, right under the feet of all the patrons.

This program runs from June to August, and each volunteer must devote at least ten days out of the summer for completion, though most do more than that. Overall, the Teen Volunteer Program is one of the best experiences one can have in Chicago, and I would absolutely recommend interested High Schoolers (from current freshmen to outgoing seniors) apply when applications open in January. If they get in, they may even have the opportunity to continue year round in a more limited version of the summer program.

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Cross Country Team Races to Success Wed, 18 Sep 2019 20:36:37 +0000 Every Saturday morning, while most of their classmates are still tucked into bed, Oak Lawn Cross Country runners wake up at the crack of dawn ready to tackle vigorous workouts or to compete against prevalent talent in meets that routinely exceed a dozen schools.

Last track season, the team faced instability and a lack of confidence as the program went through a slew of changes, including four new coaches in six months, but the team is now ultimately managed by Salvador Montes, a social worker at OLCHS, and the atmosphere is now stable.

“It was a difficult period. There was a lot of doubt and complaining over the new training method and it caused multiple arguments within the team”, said team captain Angel Reyes.

The new training, which Mr. Montes describes as “high intensity, high recovery, low mileage” involves 2-3 hard workouts a week, sometimes back-to-back, with a couple days of short and easy jogging in between. A frequent workout is 5xmile repeats: 4 laps around a track. 5 minutes of rest. 5 times. 5,460 lactate acid filled steps later, the boys are sprawled across the track in various expressive positions of discomfort.

“The pain you get shows the hard work and time you put in, which is what I would say I like about the sport itself,” reflects sophomore and first year runner Jacob Delk.

To push through such gut wrenching (and puke-inducing) workouts, the athletes are motivated by a variety of individual pursuits, both big and small. For the exceptionally talented Jadon Pirkl that means qualifying to the prestigious IHSA state meet, where the top 120 runners across the state compete down in Peoria.

“My main goal is to qualify to state,” Pirkl said. “This has been a goal of mine since freshman year. I think if I keep working hard and improving I can definitely qualify. If I do, I will be only the 5th runner in school history to achieve this.”

Sophomore Julian Gonzalaz is motivated to run under 20 minutes, a respectable time that even many upperclassmen struggle to break.

“My main goal is to break 20 minutes and to catch up to my friend, Cristian,” said Gonzalez. “I know that if I work hard and push through the pain, I can achieve success.”

Indeed, the pain does lead runners to success, as demonstrated last Saturday when the group of boys broke through barriers, both physical and mental at the Plainfield Central Invite. Pirkl led the charge, coming in 7th place with a blazing 3 mile time of 15:32. This time places Pirkl 9th in state for juniors and 40th overall.

“I wasn’t expecting to run that fast, it was a surprise, honestly,” said Pirkl.

Later in the day, aforementioned sophomore Cristian Zavala broke into the varsity team by shaving an unreal 4 minutes off his 3 mile time, finishing the junior varsity race in 18:53.

“My freshman year, I never thought I would even run under 20 minutes or make it onto the varsity team,” Zavala said. “So to break 19 and make varsity as a sophomore is incredible. It was a very long process and tough race, but it’s so worth it.”  

Junior Dominic Niceforo tasted the fruition of his hard work when he PR’d by 50 seconds and cemented his spot in the top 7.

“I was stuck in the 19-minute range for some of the early meets,” Niceforo said. “In order to set a new best time, it took many weeks of hard training, good recovery habits, and the right mindset.

“It took all of these pieces of the puzzle to finally break out of my shell and set a new personal record of 17:54 at the Plainfield Central Invitational.”

Many runners love the ameloraited undertones of cross country; that it represents the unending battle against one’s mind and beat yesterday.

“I love running,” said Reyes. “I love to challenge myself and see how fast I can go. I love challenging my mindset so that I can push myself harder and run further at faster paces. Most of all I love competing.

“The rush of adrenaline I get, from when I’m on the starting line and the official sets off the starting gun, to when I finish the race knowing I did my best and raced my heart out is just amazing, and to me, nothing feels better than that.”

For others, the thing that makes cross country so special are the unique friendships and everlasting bonds that are formed through the countless miles and repeats.

“I like how the xc team is so welcoming, said freshman Trevor Hartman. “When I first joined, they immediately accepted me and made me a part of the time. I’ve already met so many new people and made a lot of friends.”

As a team, the Spartans are working towards a feasible conference championship- the first in over a decade, and once again qualifying to sectionals as a team. “Quote”promulgates team co-captain, Jose Rios. But until then, the Spartan runners will have to continue to push through 10 mile long runs and gruesome mile repeats.


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Fighting Cancer One Step at a Time Wed, 22 May 2019 16:22:16 +0000 Relay for Life was held at our very own school on May 11th, 2019, from 6pm to 6am. This year’s Relay for Life theme was Disney! The event was a great turn out with a total of around 25 teams. Mrs. Wargin had set a goal of raising $20,000 and together, all teams had raised nearly $30,000 by the end of the event.

Relay for Life started with an indoor kick-off party by introducing cancer survivors from our community of Oak Lawn. One of our very own staff members, Mrs.Mannion, shared her story and encounter with cancer. All participants then, lined the indoor track, where they all cheered on the cancer survivors kicking off Relay with the first lap around the track.

Before Relay was officially started, there was a ceremony where each student stood in front a luminaria bag. Luminaria bags are paper bags specifically designed to honor a cancer survivor or a cancer victim. The track was lined with luminaria bags that each had a name on the bag of a cancer survivor or a cancer victim. The students were then instructed to light the glow stick that was in every luminaria bag to illuminate and honor all those who have fallen victims to cancer. As the glow sticks were lit, the students began to walk the track in silence, altogether, as the names of the cancer victims and cancer survivors were read. This ceremony was the most touching and heartfelt event of the night.

Throughout the night, at least one member from every team had to walk the track while the rest of the team was able to enjoy plenty of fun activities that were set up in the student cafeteria as well as outside. Students were able to play video games inside, play sports out on the field, and race on the blow-up obstacle course. Later in the night, a talent show was held. Many students participated in the talent show, but Abby Moore and her sister, Ella Moore, won the talent show with their beautiful duet. More competitions such as the donut eating (off a string) competition made the night very interesting and fun. In the early morning, the movie “Toy Story” was played on the side of the Performing Arts Center.

Overall, Relay for Life was a fantastic event where students were able to have fun with friends and activities, but also honor cancer victims and cancer survivors at the same time. Majority of students are hoping that Relay continues to happen not only next year but the years following. Thank you to those who donated and participated in Relay! It truly was an amazing experience!

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Girl’s Track and Field Triumph! Wed, 22 May 2019 16:20:46 +0000

The record-breaking 4×800 relay team!
L-R: Amira Jackson, Sadie Hartmann, Veronika Stelter, Abby Cafagna

The girl’s track and field team has nearly wrapped up their season, and it was certainly one of their best ones yet! The team performed at the top of their game in every meet they competed in and proved themselves by working harder at each and every practice. This hard work and dedication led to a successful finish for both the JV and Varsity teams at the conference meet, along with a school record being broken by the 4×200 relay team earlier in the season.

Led by head coach Brian Fiene, throwing coach Scott Barnas, distance coach Caitlin Glynn,pole vault coach Ryan, and jumps coach James Clendenning, the JV team took first at conference, and the varsity team took second.


From the varsity team, Franki Liberti took second and Olivia Shell took third in the two mile event. Emma McGrath placed first in the 800 meters event, and Maddie McGrath took first in pole vault.

The varsity 4×800 relay team and 4×400 relay team both captured first place.

Meanwhile, senior and team captain Alyssa Arteaga bounced back from a spine injury. “For being injured, my season went really well.Most people with my injury never recover. I was out for ten months.” She went on to perform at a top standard and represented the girl’s varsity program very well.


The JV team’s dedication led to a strong first place finish. Megan Berry placed first in the triple jump. In the pole vault event, Allysa Canales took first and Maddie Ryan placed third. Emma Garrett placed first in discus and Vanessa Carr took second in the 100 meter hurdles.


The entire team represented Oak Lawn Community High School extremely well and their performance all season is something they should be very proud of. Congratulations to all the girls and coaches on a remarkable season!


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Another Tragedy in Paris Wed, 22 May 2019 16:20:24 +0000 As of recent one of the most visited tourist destination in Paris caught on fire. The massive fire destroyed most of the roof due to the fire breaking out in the cathedral’s attic. Although the cause of the burning of the 850-year-old Notre Dame cathedral is still under investigation many officials are saying it most likely started due to an accident during the process of restoring the cathedral. The cathedral was in process of a $6.8 million renovation project.

The fire started shortly after 6:45 p.m. which is when the cathedral closes. Due to the windy conditions the fire was able to grow quickly. Around 7:50 p.m. the spire fell and less than 15 minutes later part of the roof collapsed. Due to the extensive fire the island, Paris’ Ile de la Cité, where the cathedral is located was evacuated by 8:30 p.m.

The history of this cathedral began when Pope Alexander III laid the foundation stone in 1163. The high altar was built in 1189. Many other parts of the church were later built within the next 100 years. Although the process of building this cathedral took nearly 200 years, once it was finished it experienced lots of damage. For example in the 1500’s a group of reformists known as the Huguenots destroyed the windows of the cathedral and during the 1700’s due to the French Revolution many treasures were destroyed. Before converting the cathedral into one building it was earlier known as two churches predated by a Gallo-Roman temple.

After the fire, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the landmark. The fire destroyed many parts of the cathedral, but they were able to preserve the main structures such as the outer walls and the two bell towers. Donations have started coming to fund the rebuilding costs. It took about nine hours and 400 firefighters to bring the fire under control. Although there were no deaths one firefighter was reportedly seriously injured.

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Spartist Salaam Khater Wed, 22 May 2019 16:20:02 +0000 Salaam Khater is currently a senior and is in AP Studio Art. AP Studio Art is a very rigorous and demanding class, requiring many pieces of artwork to be created in a short amount of time. For the class, throughout the year Salaam needed to make a total of 29 pieces. In the first semester she needed to make 12 pieces that exemplify her range of skill and technique for her Breadth portfolio. Then, for second semester, she needed to complete 12 pieces revolved around a theme for her Concentration Portfolio. After completing the 24 pieces, 5 pieces for the Quality Portfolio must be additionally completed or selected from the 24, of which need to be the 5 best works that show growth and skill. The AP Studio Art students recently submitted all of the work on Tuesday May 7th after a year long of hard work. Salaam hopes to expand her artistic skills at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she will be continuing her academic career.


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Everyone’s a Sucker for a JoBros Reunion Fri, 15 Mar 2019 13:46:44 +0000 Young women, and some men, everywhere are bursting with excitement. Why? The Jonas Brothers have reunited their band and released their first single in six years.

   The Jonas Brothers last released music in 2013, when Joe, Kevin, and Nick went their own professional ways. Joe went on to form dance-pop group DNCE while Kevin stepped out of the spotlight. Nick went on to have a very successful solo career.

Over the course of the first week of March, Kevin, Joe, and Nick were nightly guests on The Late Late Show with James Corden. On their first appearance, it was revealed that Nick was the reason the band split in the first place. The boys also commented that the band got back together because they already spent time together.

The single the Jonas Brother released is titled “Sucker”. Barely a week after its initial release, the song was already at the top of the Billboard charts. At the time of writing this article, the music video has over 64 million views on YouTube.

The song itself is a catchy, lighthearted tune. It combines the elements of Nick’s solo songs and DNCE’s songs. The chorus is especially catchy. The music video can be a little weird at times, but what makes it cute is the fact that Nick and Kevin have their wives featured, while Joe’s fiancée makes an appearance as well.

Overall, “Sucker” is a great kickboard for a reunited band. Here’s to more exciting things to come from the Jonas Brothers.

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Subway, Rope, Bleach, and Jussie Smollett Fri, 15 Mar 2019 13:44:44 +0000 Actors, press, and gala events, show the life a famous person faces, but on January 22nd of 2019, Jussie Smollett claimed he was attacked by two strangers, who choked him with a rope and poured a chemical substance on him in Chicago. He claimed they did it because they were racist and homophobic.

“Smollett was allegedly unhappy with his salary, and the attack was staged for his own benefit. This isn’t right we wasted our time and he wasted his,” stated Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to Chicago Tribune.

Moreover, Smollett filed a police report that allegedly stated that he had been attacked and soon after the police began to investigate, when sources began to spread rumors about the crime being false. After carefully evaluation police had discovered that Smollett paid off two men to perform the attack.

“I am forever changed, and I believe I can make something meaningful out of this. …I think people need to hear the truth, because everyone has their own idea, some are healing and are hurtful,” stated Jussie Smollett to ABC’s Robin Roberts on an interview.

In addition, Smollett also included that he fought back, but police were unable to find the video because the camera had been turned north when the attack was south bound. The camera did pick up two individuals, who were later discovered as Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo.

“We have the check that he used to pay them. He was dissatisfied with his salary, that’s why he was allegedly attacked.” stated Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Furthermore, Police had discovered he had paid the brothers thirty-five hundred dollars to stage the crime and on top of that cameras had caught the brothers purchasing skis masks and rope three days prior to the attack. The brother also confessed that Smollett did this because the threatening letter he had received didn’t get the attention he wanted.

“As I look into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention,” Stated Superintendent Johnson to a press Conference concerning the issue of Smollett.

In conclusion, Smollett turned himself in February and was released on a Hundred-thousand bond. Smollett will be in court for sentencing later in the month of March as he’s being charged on sixteen accounts for disorderly conduct as to filing a false police report that he allegedly staged.

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Tensions On High Between India And Pakistan Fri, 15 Mar 2019 13:44:06 +0000 Since the British partition of India in 1947, tensions have always been high between India and Pakistan, but over the last few weeks, the two nations have been on the brink of all out war.

It started with a suicide bombing in Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan over which three wars have been fought, which killed almost fifty security personnel from India. Jaish-e-Muhammad, a terrorist group based in Pakistan and closely tied to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

In response, India sent an air strike over the line of control into Pakistan for the first time either nation has breached it in decades, serving to escalate tensions even further. What followed was a series of escalations between the two nations, culminating in an Indian plane being shot down in a dogfight between the two nations, and it’s pilot being captured. The pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was released on March 1st, but tensions still remain high. Pakistan describes this as a gesture for peace, but in India, Pakistan following Geneva conventions has not been viewed as any spectacular favor. In situations like these, where both powers possess nuclear weapons, de-escalation is of prime importance.

One of the major points of conflict is Pakistan’s perceived support of the numerous terrorist groups that call the country home. At the urging of India, Britain and France pushed a proposal to declare Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Muhammad, a terrorist. China, a staunch ally of Pakistan, blocked the proposal.

Amid this period of heightened tensions, India and Pakistan have had their first peaceful meeting, its purpose, to discuss a proposed road link between India and a significant Sikh temple in Pakistan. While it sounds minor, the shrine is of great importance to members of the Sikh faith, who number 21 million, and in the current climate, it is very difficult for Sikhs to make the pilgrimage to the shrine. If the proposal is accepted the long and difficult journey will be shortened to a 3 mile trip down a road. Such a deal between the two nations would be far more important than just its significance to Sikhs, as a peaceful agreement allowing travel between the two countries would be a welcome signifier of approaching peace.

However this works out, one would hope the two nations can find a peaceful solution to their grievances with each other, even if it seems quite distant.

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