Allison Aranda Manages a Full Schedule

By Jessica Ibrahimian

Life isn’t always easy, but we try to make the best of it. We walk among almost 2,000 students at HHS but we don’t get to know how their lives go. Some people think just because life gets complicated we should give up, but that isn’t true.

Senior Allison Aranda arrived in the United States at age 11, not knowing what she wanted to do here, but ever since she volunteered to help kids with their homework after school, she fell in love with being around children. Her dream is to be an elementary school teacher.

Allison is an accomplishing student. She can easily be described as an intelligent, confident and motivated girl.

Her favorite subject is Sociology. She stated, “I like sociology because it’s about human behavior and recognizing why people act the way they do, so in the future I will understand my students better.”

Allison is also taking a Careers in Education class with her favorite teacher, Dr. Jakubik, to learn as much as she can about what a teacher needs to know to succeed in the classroom. She also takes advanced classes to get prepared for her future.

Allison has experience in child care already.  “I have a little sister, which gives me the responsibility to take her to school and back every day,” she says.  

Taking care of a person isn’t that simple. Besides babysitting her sister, Allison also has a part-time job at Dunkin Donuts after school, and yet still manages to get amazing grades.

While Allison believes she would love to get a little more time to herself, she loves everything she does. Babysitting her sister, studying lot, and working to make money for college next year are her main focuses at the moment.

The positive thing is she has the support of her parents with any decision she makes.


Her life consists of going to school, activities after school such as (Going Green, LASA, and Spanish Honor Society), then to her job, and finishing all her homework when she gets back home, a much fuller life than she may have envisioned when she first arrived here.

If she could tell her past self one thing, it would be, “To follow my dreams, to not listen to anyone but me. Some people come in your life as a blessing and some come as a lesson.”

Sepideh Shamouil Lives by a Golden Rule

By Jessica Williams

Between getting a job and turning in homework on time, the life of a student can be both tiring and eventful. While we worry about ourselves and our own future, it can be almost unheard of when we are faced with the idea of clearing our schedule to help someone else. Senior Sepideh Shamouil provides an example to students, as she not only pushes herself to the limit with her schoolwork, but she also gives back to the community whenever she can.

Sepidah is keen on completing her schoolwork. She is a firm believer in getting work done early by doing anything she needs to do to get things handed in beforehand.

Her study habits include studying for a test multiple days prior instead of pulling an all-nighter the night before. In addition, she spends a lot of time in quiet areas so she can get her work done without any distractions.

Sepideh’s study habits and steadfast attitude towards her schoolwork is highly influenced by her goal in life, which is to “never stop learning.”

In addition to the hours she spends studying and finishing schoolwork, she volunteers at the Maywood Public Library. She stacks books, and sometimes packages them to be shipped.

“It’s important to give back to the community,” she says. “It also makes you feel good about the work you do.”

She expresses interest in becoming a pharmacist in the future, as she says that she enjoys helping people with any issue they face. Sepidah states that when she becomes a pharmacist, she would like to study the human body and how it works so she can help in the search for the cures to many debilitating diseases.

Sepideh says that one of the most important things is to “keep doing the good things in life,” whether it is helping people,  animals, or anyone with a goal of their own to pursue.  

“It just feels good to help people,” she states.

Sepideh Shamouil currently has a 3.4 GPA, and plans to go to Rutgers University to study medicine.


Belah Watson Remains Positive and Busy

By Treasure Clarke

During our daily lives we face many different obstacles and challenges. We are the change in the world that we want to see. At HHS, many students welcome new things, face many challenges, and accomplish things that they don’t, at first, think they can achieve.

Belah Watson, a senior at the HHS, is great example of this. She is a pretty good student that gets a’s and b’s. Belah has a gothic style, is carefree and has fun personality. Her favorite teachers are Mr. Maselli and Mr. Colombo.

Belah says, “My high school experience so far for me has been okay.” Belah considers high school the most important part of her life because everything she does here helps her in the future.

There are many words to describes students and and how they go along their path in school. Being a student is adaptable, adventurous, ambitious, compassionate, and many more.

Belah has a great personality, wants to improve the world for the better. Belah say the world can change for the good or for the bad, but we as people have the power to make that decision.

Belah’s passions in life are art, music, and science. “I have been playing trombone (she also plays guitar) since fourth grade, drawing since five, and I love science,” she says. 

She wants to enroll in Montclair University. “The reason why I want to go to Montclair because they have a marching band and biochemistry major,” she says.

What Watson wants to study in college is Biochemistry. She loves science but most importantly biology and chemistry so putting them together is a plus for her. Watson’s future goals are to be a successful and have a lot of money.

As a student Belah has many more obstacles to face before she can make to the big leagues. Today she knocks down any walls that can stop her from achieving and being where she’s supposed to be. Belah aims to make her opportunities in life, future goals, and passions a reality.

Najerrei Thompson Balances HHS Life Well


By Celestine Aboagye

Najerrei Thompson, also known as Naj to many people, is a sophomore with aspirations and already has many achievements from the beneficial things she has done. Being a student and athlete is sometimes challenging in a student’s life, however, she has many tactics that she uses to help her balance her academic, athletic, and social life.

As a student and soccer player Najerrei encounters some difficulties along the way. Sometimes she gets anxiety from the pressure of finishing homework and having to also play a soccer game. She solves these problems by meditating and managing her time a lot.

As she is prepares for each soccer game, Najerrei usually gets very nervous about having the first touch of the ball. However, when she’s playing she feels stress free of all the heavy duty homework she might have and problems she may be dealing with outside the game.

She says, “Whenever have I have a game, I’m nervous, but I cannot wait to play. I get really excited, and when I am finally on the field playing, I love the adrenaline that pumps me to really have a great game.”

On a daily basis she looks forward to a new day, filled with positive vibes. For Najerrei, even though things can be difficult to accomplish, she gets them done. She was inspired to play soccer by watching her brother play and as well as other sports. “His dedication to his sports inspired me to start playing, especially with soccer,” she said. Najerrei models her playing style after Kelly O’ Hara.

She finds that the easiest thing for her to do is maintain her grades. “I take advantage of 10th period and go to my teachers for help if I don’t understand something,” Najerrei says.

She schedules her day specifically so that everything is as organized as possible in her life. “I make sure that I schedule the events I have so that things don’t intervene or I let people down because all of a sudden I cannot attend something,” she says. 

The things that concern her about academic life is being able in the end to get the best grades she can. She strives to have a 3.6 or 3.7 GPA that will lead her to a successful future. Najerrei also wants to attend Florida State University, and out of all the subjects and classes she takes during her school year, her favorite subject/class is math. She is a unique person by the way she carries herself in uncomfortable situations, her intelligence, and sense of humor connect with many people and make her a confident person.

By surrounding herself with people that have goals and are doing good for themselves it makes her want to do even better for herself. Having people that will always be there to support her decisions makes Najerrei even more confident, and for her, that’s a key to success.

Freshmen Advice

By Alanis Martinez, Michelle Coneo, Kimberly Pena, Chaiim Singer-Barber, and Chance McCullough

With every new school year there is an influx of wide eyed and bashful students who are easily identified as freshman. The majority have a similar face of confusion, anxiety, and hope. Many have an idea as to what they’re walking into, but in reality they don’t truly understand what the world known as high school really is. Freshmen around HHS were asked, “What advice would you like to hear as you begin your journey in high school?”

Freshman Deisha Christmas said she would like to be told “how to balance meeting new people with eight classes and the importance of extracurricular activities.”

Similarly, Victor Alarcon stated that he “would like them to give me advice about how to learn to manage my time and be prepared to realize that I’m no longer the smartest person.”

 On the other hand upperclassmen were asked, “What advice do you have for the incoming freshmen?” Senior Heather Honoret had a comedically appealing answer, stating, “Don’t ask any upperclassmen where any of the classes are.[She’s just kidding] They give out the wrong information on purpose, [so] that’s what I tell all freshmen at the beginning.”

In contrast, sophomore Miguel Peña said, “You deff lose friends freshman year so I would suggest playing a sport. You gain friends who turn into family. The homies on the team turned into my bros.”

When administrators and educators were asked the same question, one of the answers that stood out was from the head coach of the Comets Basketball Team and the longtime history teacher, Mr. Taylor, who rewarded us with, “Try to get ahead of the game, make use of the variety of the resources that the school provides and to hopefully understand how important freshman year is, because your GPA goes down quickly and doesn’t go back up fast. A lot of juniors and seniors look back and wish they could’ve done it differently. They wish they did freshman year better.”

As the questioning continued there was a realization that many answers coincide. Freshman Mariyah Martinez said, “I would want them to give me advice about making new friends and being more social,” History teacher Mr. Vesce said, “Your friends are already here, it’s your job to find them. Work hard, it pays off.”

As the school year continues the incoming freshmen will have the right support and guidance  from fellow students, administrators and people who are in their lives. High school isn’t a solo experience and allowing people in will make the journey a whole lot easier.


Favorite Movies of the Summer

By Lindsay Pacheco, Demani Eason, Treasure Clarke, Jack Taylor, and Geraldine Castro

With summer coming to an end, it is always a good time to reflect on what we did and what we saw in the theatres.

With epic thrillers like Don’t Breathe, comedies like Central Intelligence, and the reboot of Ghostbusters with an all female cast, there was a variety of films released this summer.

Teenagers not only spent their time at summer parties or at the beach;  there were still a few who actually went out and saw a movie.

Angela Vasquez, a junior, who saw Central Intelligence, explained that it was her favorite movie this summer. “It was funny as heck as soon as you met Dwayne Johnson, a character in the beginning who is portrayed as being the wrong one but is actually his partner. In the film, Kevin Hart’s character plays a major role, in highschool he was a somebody, but then that all changed once he became an adult and now he’s willing to do anything to get that feeling back.”

There are also some students who spent their summer watching classic movies like The Great Wolf of Wall Street, which was watched by Junior Jamila Smith. She exclaimed that this was her favorite summer movie because “it was funny and very inspirational.”

Lucy was another semi old favorite watched by Freshmen, Jessica Bell.

William D’elia, Junior said, “I actually thought Don’t Breathe was fantastic simply because it had such in-depth storytelling. Plus I was sort of happy when the ‘bad boy’ got shot.” William wasn’t the only one that like the epic thriller, Belah Watson, a senior, said “Don’t Breathe was the best movie of the summer. It was a really scary movie and it was exactly like the trailer made it out to be. It had my heart racing from the suspense and everything was unexpected. I was completely satisfied at the end, I was basically screaming my lungs out.”

When asked about the best movie of the summer Matthew Tieleman, sophomore, said, “I saw Purge, Suicide Squad, and Nerve. My favorite was Nerve.”

           Who can’t get enough of superheroes and villains? Ryan Morales, sophomore, said the only movie he saw was Suicide Squad.

The world has waited thirteen years for a sequel of Finding Nemo and Daniel Harrington, a sophomore, made sure he saw it. “The best movie this summer was Finding Dory by far.”

Justin Bendezu, sophomore, said, “My favorite movie was Lights Out.”

Kerri Neuman, sophomore, had a short list to chose from,“ I only saw the movie Lights Out.” she said.

Ashley Pulla, senior, said “Suicide Squad was the best movie by far and it was an awesome movie.” Her response after that, and I quote “it’s lit.”

Ashley Salinas, senior, said “the new Ghostbusters movie was a personal best movie for me. I liked it because it had my favorite band soundtrack in the movie.”

Jenny Reyes, said “Bad Moms is my favorite comedy movie of the summer. It was a very funny movie. One of my favorites actress Mila Kunis starred in it, that’s why I liked it.”

Sam Alicea, senior, said, “ Nerve, it was a good movie that’s why I liked it. Personally, Dave Franco is a hot actor.”

Kathy Zumba, a freshman said, “Suicide Squad was one of the best movies this summer.”

Herman Velazquez, also a freshman, thought Suicide Squad was a great movie.

Along with superhero and supervillain movie fans, there are horror movie fans like, Maya Tiozon, a freshman, said,“I liked Don’t Breathe.

Freshman Jessica Ball, also enjoyed the movie Lucy. Although this movie was released a few years back, she still very much enjoys this action packed thriller every time she watches it.

      Yet again another lover of  fantasy/crime films, Brianna van Rensalier, freshmen came back saying she liked the movie Suicide Squad.

Students aren’t the only people who go out to the theater to see a movie. A handful of our faculty members actually got out of the house this summer and have their own opinion.

Mr. Capone, a History teacher said, “Captain America: Civil War, because it was the right blend of action and story. The special effects were amazing and seeing the truly amazing Spider-Man on the big screen was awesome.” Even though the movie was released the beginning of May, he felt there wasn’t another movie over summer break that could  compare.

Also, Mr. Zisa, English teacher, also considered Captain America: Civil War the movie of the summer because “it was basically a summer movie.”

Teachers like to laugh too! Mrs. Ferrante, Biology teacher, said Bad Moms was her favorite movie of the summer because, “secretly every mom is just like them.” She explained it was a movie of laughter and not just mothers should see it.

Two popular movies this summer were Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters. Mr. Gaines, English teacher, didn’t think they were all that. “The only movies coming to mind are Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters. Both of those movies were a disappointment, because it was a pretty disappointing summer.”

Going along with that negativity on the summer movies. Mr. Wexler, History teacher, had something to say as well. “I didn’t think any movies were worth watching.” Out of all the movies released this summer and have been raved about for weeks, not one interested Mr. Wexler in any way.

Overall, with superhero movies on the rise in recent years, movies like Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad (which was a DC super villain spinoff), Suicide Squad was seen by six out of the 25 people who were surveyed and all exclaimed that it was the best summer movie except for one faculty member who disagreed (see above).

Another major film that people loved was X-Men: Apocalypse. People raved about this movie being the best. Who could forget about the original superheroes? The Ghostbusters which was recently rebooted with an all female cast. Also, comedy was one of the genres on top with the hit movie Bad Moms having everyone in tears laughing.

Whats on the Menu? Students favorite fast food

By Breeya Gandy, Tiffany Jones, Aisha Khalid, Joshua Phillips, Hailey Russo, Jessica Williams, Natasha Wilson

“Hey guys, what’s for lunch?” This question, as old as time, has kind of finally been answered. HHS’ Journalism squad asked teachers and students where they like to eat.The answers varied from fast food chains to formal restaurants.

On any given day, people consume burgers, fries, and sodas, which are, for good or ill, the staples of all-American fast food. When it is time to eat, everyone envisions food that is mouth watering and appealing to the taste buds.

When asked the question about preferred food; senior Sepideh Shamouil prefers to eat at Starbucks since she believes that the “food quality is fresh, savory, and appealing. The bagels, smoothies, and drinks are delicious. They also have a wide variety of meals and drinks to choose from.”

On the other hand, junior Austin Campbell eats at Panera “because the environment is mellow and chill and the food is amazing.”

While fast food has been established as the “go to” for the average meal some people choose different ways to receive their food for the sake of quality. The idea that taking extra time to eat a well cooked meal has been lost by some, but encouraged by others. Some people choose to visit an independent restaurant even though it will not have the speedy service similar to that of Olive Garden.

Junior Thalia Andrade chose Casual Habana which sports a mighty impressive 4 star Yelp rating. She said, “They have great Cuban food.” Like Thalia many other people in the HHS family find that alternatives to fast food are best for lunch and dinner.

Sociology and History teacher Ms.Mackey said, “My mother’s house is my favorite place to dine.” When responding to why out of all the places in the world she picked her mother’s cooking she jokingly yet sincerely replied “it’s made with love.” Although in this situation it is difficult to tell whether or not that is her real reason for eating a home cooked meal over fast food one thing is certain.

When the master of own Culinary class, Chef Callie Carroll, was asked about his favorite place to eat fast food, he said the “Casino Feeds, Tropicana Casino, and Resort in Atlantic City.” This is because they “have good service, reservation is quick, and the food is good.” Chef’s answer was very interesting because the places he likes to eat are very rare since many people do not eat that on a regular basis in this fast food nation.

In many cases a person likes to feel a connection to whoever is cooking his or her food. It may be the safety and comfort of a relative or the nostalgic feeling brought by memories of hanging out at a burger joint. Why we choose certain places over others may still be a mystery, even though some people may just enjoy chicken nuggets.  

While some may genuinely enjoy the food served at these fast food restaurants, there is a pattern of people who go to these eateries for the convenience.

For example, junior Clarissa Rodriguez says she prefers McDonald’s “because it has a dollar menu.” McDonald’s famous dollar menu attracts many consumers because of it’s low prices.

As well as this fast food chain’s cheap prices, it’s location is also beneficial to it’s customers. Sophomore Yulisay Manzueta also comments that she likes to eat at McDonald’s because “the service is good and it’s close.”

Many fast food consumers prefer McDonald’s, however, there are some that prefer their competitors for a variety of reasons.

Additionally, Senior Jessica Ibrahimian states that she also prefers Wendy’s because “the food is higher quality than Burger King or McDonald’s. It’s healthier.”

Whether it’s fast food, a fancy restaurant, or old-fashioned home-made meals, one thing everyone has in common is that we all love food.

Best Shows to Watch on Netflix

By Hope Ortiz, Samantha Alicea, Michelle Steidle, and Daniella Sanjlaj

Recently, we interviewed students and staff members here at HHS about their favorite things to watch on Netflix.

Despite the fact that people have different interests and not everybody said the same thing, a majority of people tend to prefer shows they are able to binge watch. This includes programs with several seasons or Netflix originals that put out an entire season at once, that way people can sit on their couch for hours and be content.

While interviewing the students,we’ve noticed that many thought the best shows were One Tree Hill, the Flash, and Arrow. Sophomore Sneha Kafle said she likes the show Arrow because “it teaches a lot of life lessons and I just like watching the show.”           

Evernae Smith, also a sophomore, said she likes to watch The Flash because “it’s entertaining and interesting.”

We also interviewed a few freshman boys who like The Flash and Arrow, such as Michael Campoverde and Tony Utan. Stephanie Ross, another sophomore, said she likes to watch the show One Tree Hill  “because it’s engaging” along with another junior, Arianna Young who also claimed she liked One Tree Hill because “my friends forced me to watch it and I ended up really liking it.”

Likewise, junior Lauren Steidle thought the same and said “One Tree Hill, because they incorporate real issues into the show and I think that’s really interesting.”

However, we found out not everyone watches Netflix when we interviewed a Junior, Jessica Sanzo who stated, “I don’t have Netflix, although I like the show Backstage. It’s about dancers.”

There are some students who think other shows are worth watching.

Freshman George Losch stated he enjoys to watch Marco Polo.

Julia Morrone, another freshman, said she loves to watch Gilmore Girls.

Daniel Chi, a freshman stated he loved the movie The Admiral because “it’s intense and a very historical yet epic movie and it’s about history that we don’t learn here in the US which adds more excitement.”

We also interviewed seniors Samantha McElroy and Sarah Tufts who said they love watching Stranger Things because it’s mysterious and the characters and plot just interest them.

Two other seniors, Samuel Ashbury and Lee Taveras, enjoy watching How I Met Your Mother because it’s “relatable” and “realistically problematic.”

Students are not the only ones who binge watch shows on Netflix. Recently, we’ve interviewed teachers who work here at HHS to find out what their binge worthy shows are.

Ms. Durso, who teaches AP World History, claimed that the best show to watch on Netflix is The Office because “it’s funny and it is a something you can have on in the background while you’re doing work.” She also stated that it is “something that keeps the environment happy” which is very true.

AP Literature and Composition teacher Mr. Zisa and he said the program Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is his favorite show because “it’s hilarious, well written and uncomfortably real.” He also claimed that it’s the “most unshameful feminist thing I have watched in a long time.”

A Chemistry teacher, Mr. Rosenthal had more of a science based answer where he said his favorite show was Good Eats because “it explains the science about cooking.”

Mrs. Ferrante, who teaches Biology, claimed that The Walking Dead was her favorite show because “all of the seasons were there so I was able to catch up.”

Lastly, Ms. Krueger, who teaches AP Language, had a very thorough answer where she claimed that Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black are both her favorite shows. She thinks they were “so well done and intelligent”. Also she “loves how books turn into shows and twists the understandings of the characters, along with the interaction of the characters.”

All in all, no matter what their interests or their age, people love to binge watch. There’s something about sitting down to watch a show and never having to stop that really appeals to people.

Could it be that they won’t have to wait to find out what happened? Or do they just enjoy the pure fact that they now have an acceptable excuse to lay in bed all day? Whatever the case is, Netflix originals like Stranger Things, and classics like One Tree Hill, and How I Met Your Mother continue to grace the screens of Netflix junkies.

Special Focus: The Shaming Issue

As we approach the end of a long and very negative presidential campaign, it seems appropriate for us to look at potential sources for the negativity and divisiveness that permeates our country right now.

One of the biggest problems we have is that we as a nation are accusatory and judgmental.  We seemingly live to shame each other.

Certainly the presidential candidates are guilty of this. And so are far too many of us.

So this issue, first written last year, looks at the ways we hurt each other, in hopes that we will be more aware of the harm we cause and be more humane moving forward.

If we do it, maybe politicians will learn from our example.

We do not support the ways we can casually alienate each other, cut each other down, cause each other pain. We call this negative treatment shaming.

We believe that our culture’s casual shaming of individuals for so many different reasons contributes to the chaos we are suffering today. We believe giving such behavior a name and focusing on how it occurs may improve how we treat each other moving forward.

So in this issue we are focusing on several ways we see people shaming each other and why it is not okay to behave this way.

We are better than this, and we hope the following articles and editorials will help others treat each other and be treated with more acceptance and respect.

With this issue of The Hackensack Comet we are doing what we can do to address the kind of behavior that pushes us apart and isolates individuals, rather than joining us all together. We hope you will join us in our efforts to make our country a better, healthier place to live.