Authors Posts by Sara Guagliardo

Sara Guagliardo


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lemontree entrance2Lemon tree1

    In downtown Downers Grove, small community shops line Main Street with brightly colored awnings and a variety of offerings–from candy stores to clothing boutiques. But right off of Main there is a small shop that is the focus of Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible – a television show that takes the original design of a restaurant and totally revamps its image in 48 hours. Upon hearing that Zest Bistro, a restaurant that is part of the Lemon Tree Grocer, had been redesigned, I was eager to check out their offerings and see the new corner cafe that adorned Lemon Tree.

   I visited on a Sunday, and the daily special at Zest is brunch that runs from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon. Their menu has a great mix of breakfast and lunch foods, with meals ranging from eggs benedict and pancakes to burgers and panini sandwiches.

  Sitting in the restaurant, it has a very homey feel. The casual aspect of grocery shopping on half of the store mixed with the small cafe setting in the bistro makes Zest a comfortable neighborhood place. The bistro is separated by large wooden dividers painted yellow and white that open vertically like windows, making the space more open.

  The center of the restaurant is a display of wooden crates filled with lemongrass, giving a fresh feel to the atmosphere of the cafe. Booths and tables surround this structure, and full length windows pull light into the bistro and through the spaces between crates, highlighting the springtime essence of the yellow and white walls and other accents. Overall, the restaurant makes you feel right at home.

  The host was very friendly while seating us, and our waitress was attentive to get us drinks right away, including a complimentary water carafe for the table to share. I ordered the freshly squeezed orange juice, and it definitely had a certain character that is not present in other fresh juices at different breakfast places. It was very tangy with just the right amount of pulp.

    I ended up ordering their half pound original burger, which comes with hand-cut fries. The burger was cooked exactly to my specifications (medium well) and had a generous slice of American cheese sitting on top of the perfectly seared burger. The char was just right, and the fresh tomato, lettuce and onion complemented the buttery brioche bun–which was the icing on the cake. The fries were seasoned very well, and really didn’t need any ketchup to add flavor–it was all there.

    I also sampled some meals from my family, and each was above my expectations. I tried Suzie’s lemon ricotta pancakes, which had blueberries sprinkled in the batter and was served with maple syrup on the side. The pancakes themselves were sweet enough with just blueberries, but plain portions of the pancake were served best with a topping of either lemon curd or syrup. Another dish I sampled was the chicken panini, which was topped with spinach artichoke spread that was surprisingly tasty. this dish was served with homemade potato chips, and they were a great complement.

Overall, the bistro surpassed my standards for this type of restaurant. I really enjoyed the atmosphere overall, and the selection of foods made Zest a oneof a kind experience.


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    The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been showcasing the best performers for over 80 years, from dancers and singers to traveling broadway acts and marching bands. This year, one such performer is a familiar face to DGS– junior Tyler Jankowski.

    Last May, Jankowski was chosen as one of two students from Illinois to play in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band. He will be performing with bass drum two, which is classified as the second smallest drum in the line-up.

   Although this opportunity is a significant achievement, it was not an obvious decision for Jankowski to apply.

“Last December we got a Christmas card from a family friend and their daughter made it [last year] so they were trying to convince me to do it for the upcoming year, so I was on the borderline at that moment,” Jankowski said. “I finally made a decision in February to try out and the reason was: there is nothing to loose it is just good practice at the least.”

The application process required Jankowski to stay fairly dedicated. He completed the typical written statement, but then had to make a video of himself demonstrating different skills: marching technique, foot timing, and rudiments, or playing patterns, on his drum. After applying, Jankowski had plenty of nerves and equal support for the news.

    “During the time between my audition and the day I found out I was very anxious about the result,” Jankowski said. “It was mostly the people who got me through the whole process. My parents being the first to know and the most supportive.”

Sydney Davis, senior drumline section leader and friend of Jankowski, has seen his growth and dedication to music. After finding out Jankowski’s achievement, she believed it was a no-brainer that he was given this opportunity.

“I knew that when Tyler told me he was applying for the spot in the parade that he’d have a great chance, and when the great news came in that he’d gotten a spot, I was really proud of him,” Davis said. “Tyler’s put a lot of work into music over the years and he’s very humble about his skill level, so I think that it’s great that he’s going to be recognized for his talents in such an awesome way because he most definitely deserves it.”

Band director Greg Hensel has also watched Tyler develop as a musician in the years he’s been teaching. He notes the self-accountability that separates the average musician from a player like Jankowski.

    “I have no doubt that there was a lot of practice involved when it came to preparing this, but it was probably not out of the ordinary for in to put in extra time outside of band,” Hensel said. “He sought out the process and worked on his own time to audition and prepare, which not many high school musicians can consider, or even think about accomplishing. I think this honor was well earned by Tyler and his dedication to music.”

    Hensel was not the only one to notice Tyler’s dedication, as his percussion instructor Dwayne Rawl also sees the work he puts in.

“Tyler is a great player. He knows what he’s doing, and even when he doesn’t, he works through it until he does. There isn’t a challenge he can’t face,” Rawl said.

Jankowski will be performing on Thanksgiving day, but that will not be the only moment he gets to experience from this opportunity.

“The whole band will be playing “Locked out of heaven” by Bruno Mars and “Shake it off” by Taylor Swift. While I am out there, I am going to be attending a leadership camp, sightseeing, marching the 2.5 miles, and meeting a whole lot of new people from all around the country,” said Jankowski.

Watch NBC on Thanksgiving day, Nov. 27, to catch a glimpse of the Macy’s Parade and the Macy’s Great American Marching Band.



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Lockdown (3)In November Jewett Middle Academy in Winter Haven, FL was having a normal day of classes when a gunshot was heard across the campus. Students and teachers chaotically fled to their lockdown positions with students whipping out their phones in an attempt to warn their families about what was happening. However, little did the students and staff know that this was a drill lead by the local police department, known as an Active Shooter Drill. These types of drills involve police shooting off blank rounds to simulate the effect of a real armed intrusion. The lack of a warning gave the school an opportunity to have panicked reactions, and in a way almost backfiring from the drill’s intentions.

 Lockdowns have taken on a whole new meaning as we progress through school. With heightened stranger and weapon awareness, the standards of school safety continue to move up the ladder of priorities. Schools across the country are taking more steps to further the protection of students and staff, pursuing any and all means of security.

 Assistant Principal Omar Davis is the administrator for the safety of DGS. He controls the different procedures we have in order to maintain security, such as the procedures on how visitors can enter the school as well as the drills we do for tornados and earthquakes. Most significantly, he controls the lockdown procedures for DGS.

Recently, Davis has implemented a more detailed procedure referred to as ALICE.

 “ALICE is a nationwide plan designed to give staff and students more options for safety in the event of a lockdown; these procedures are not new, just built upon,” Davis said.

 The acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. These ideas help guide staff members to effectively keep their students as safe as possible. Davis explained that this plan improves our current procedures.

 “A and L stand for ‘alert’ and ‘lockdown’, which is what we have already been doing in lockdown drills. But the “inform’, ‘counter’, and ‘evacuate’ are new ways of thinking about the lockdown drills. These give people [in the building] the knowledge they need on how to proceed in the lockdown, as well as options that can be chosen for the ‘best-fit’ in the given situation.”

 Teachers got the first taste of ALICE’s protocol in a drill held without students in the building on a late arrival morning. Science teacher Michelle Sachtleben participated in this drill, and was able to see how an Active Shooter Drill worked.

 “There were blank rounds fired by a Downers Grove policeman so that faculty could have an idea of what a gun could sound like while fired,” Sachtleben said. “Then [teachers] were dispersed around the building with a few others, and we had to make decisions on how to proceed based on information given to us about the shooter; there was the option to stay in the classroom/area, or evacuate the building.”

 After the drill teachers were then debriefed on the ALICE procedures, and then their opinions were able to be shared. Sachtleben put forward one idea when it came to lockdown drills.

 “It was interesting to see how [faculty] acted in these situations. But despite all the ‘chaos’, I didn’t stop thinking about what I would be doing with students right now, even though there were none in the building. Students’ safety is part of this too,” Sachtleben said.

 It’s true that in a school, students safety is a major priority for faculty members. But despite the care that is given, students don’t always appreciate these safety measures, or take them seriously. However, sophomore Deven Ray believes there is a purpose to these drills.

 But is this always the case? Especially in the example of the Jewett Middle Academy, where the “common sense” of students was lost in the panic of a shooter in the school– because the drill did not come with a previous warning. Drills can be easy because you know that they’re drills; as soon as a more serious threat poses itself, fear can easily strike the most calm people. Senior TCD criminal justice student Jeff Heffernan stresses the drills we do in school are necessary.

“Students should take these drills seriously,” Heffernan said. “It’s pretty difficult to stay safe and think clearly if these situations really happened, so by participating in drills students can proactively keep themselves safe, as well as the people around them.”

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Senior students can always imagine graduation-the principal stammering through seemingly endless names, crying mothers (sometimes even crying graduates), proud fathers, lots of flowers, and friends sharing one last laugh at their high school before they depart to their futures. One celebration ties the whole event together: the graduation party. In the movies, you can see a few different types.

First there’s always the backyard bash with little paper lanterns adorning trees, more patio chairs in a single place than one could imagine, and a bonfire to end the night. This party is normally just the closest friends of the host, or at least just a few extended acquaintances that fill up the backyard space.

There’s also the big, I-invited-my-whole-graduating-class party, complete with the coolest DJ the internet could find, strobe lights, and dancing everywhere in a completely open house. This is the party people will be talking about until next fall.

Grandest Party of Them All

Senior Adrian Bico plans on throwing the biggest party he’s ever had for graduation, and just like any other party a teenager throws, the guest list is very important for Bico.

“I plan on having a big one I want all of my closest friends there, like anyone from marching band, and all the people who I know I’m going to miss next year,” Bico said.

As for activities, there is nothing that he hasn’t tended to.  Bico has a very relaxed structure for his party, like a “choose-your-own” adventure.

“People can just hang out and do what they want. Since it’ll be in the summer I live by a public park so people can be there, just hang in my backyard, or just hang around my house. [As always,] there will be food,” Bico said.

Keeping it Close–Family Parties

Some students don’t picture the biggest party they’ve ever had when it comes to graduation. Senior Hannah Borchardt has always imagined a family-based party.

“I have a big family and some friends so it’ll be kind of big, as in…50 people,” Borchardt said.

Borchardt did imagine her party as something a little different when she was younger, based on other parties she’d seen before.

“I imagined it with a lot of people, [a] pool party kind of thing with lots of food and fun,” Borchardt reminisced, “Which is sort of what it’s going to be– minus the pool.”

Although Borchardt wants to have a good time, she is not too concerned over the details of the event.

“I’m not really doing a whole lot [of planning], it’s going to be pretty chill [and] in my backyard, so it’s not really a big deal,” Borchardt said.

In-School Endings

One other type of party graces the senior choir students at DGS. Acapella Choir director and director of the spring musical, Laura Coster, likes to honor seniors throughout the year. However, the spring is when she plans some especially memorable moments.

“The main thing we do is sing at the graduation ceremony. Acapella choir this year is singing a really traditional song called ‘The Irish Farewell’ which they have all sung every year before either in choir or in Madrigals,” Coster shared.  “Something cool we do is when the freshman come in, we sing the Alma Mater on the very first day of school, and then sing it as the very last song at graduation.”

Coster is also very sentimental when it comes to the seniors.

“We have a special cake for all of the seniors after the musical. On the final days of school, seniors all take a photo in their [senior] shirts, which we hang up in the choir office,” Coster said.

As far as graduation parties go, students at DGS definitely have a variety of ways to celebrate. Any senior knows, there is always a bittersweet feeling as their high school career comes to a close, so the graduation party is one tool to make the departure a little sweeter.

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What impacts have you had at Downers Grove South?

Having been here a long time, I’ve seen a lot of change for the better at South…I cannot attribute all of this to me this is really a team effort. DGS has sharpened its focus over the years helping students not just get to college, but to improve their skills in every area. Over the years we’ve instituted lots of different interventions for students when they struggle, so that they come out of the other side being better prepared for school, college or for the world of work or military or whatever they choose… I really can’t say it’s been my impact, because it’s really not just me.

What has been your favorite moment at South?

I really enjoy the graduation ceremony, quite a bit. I enjoy any ceremony where students get recognized. Our Senior Awards night is a nice event, and our Academic letter ceremony in the fall is a nice event, so those are really some wonderful things. And of course it’s always good to see our teams win. I don’t think I could choose just one. I think the graduation is really a nice ceremony, so I think that’s probably my favorite.

How have you seen DGS grow?

We’ve been more diverse in our student population, and we have spent a lot of time in the past several years focusing our attention as a school on how to acknowledge that diversity better. I think that’s one thing we have grown in is our tolerance, and our desire to do the right thing. I think the Mustang Way institution, although the more mature you are as a student the less you need it because you’ve already personalized it, and internalized it. It’s been good for our students and staff to reiterate the right things to do, and grow as a school community on how to display all that. I think that it’s been a huge undertaking and a huge benefit.

What will you miss most at DGS?

I will miss the students and staff. I’ve spent a lot of time here, and I’ve spent a lot of time at events, and working with staff themselves so I’m going to miss the teams I’ve been on and miss the classroom activities and experiences that I’ve been involved in. I think that’ll be the hardest part for me; when you leave 3,000 people and go home by yourself, you know, it will be a little weird. But I’ll miss coming to school in the fall. When I think about it, I’ve been coming to school since about the age of 5, and next year will be the first year I won’t be coming to DGS, which I think will be weird.

Do you have any words of wisdom for Mr. Schwartz?

I mention him in my June web letter. I think I know him well enough to know that he is going to really enjoy the fact that in a brand-new way, this is his school. It’s been his school since he [went] here; it’s all of our [present and past students] school. It’s a little different feeling when you officially have the title of principal; it becomes your school in a brand-new way. He gets to see things through new lens, and I think that will be exciting for him and he’s going to be a great principal.

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Melissa photo of legsThe idea of getting injured is a frightening thought alone; accepting your injury, constant doctor’s visits and having to ride the ominous and outdated elevators in school. But when an injury causes an athlete to lose their ability to play– now that’s a crippling thought.

Every 25 seconds a student athlete will visit an emergency room for a sports-related injury, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. That amounts to 1.35 million injured athletes every year.

Senior Varsity basketball power forward Melissa McLean became one of these athletes when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and medial collateral ligament (MCL); these ligaments are all part of the knee. She also moved her meniscus and slightly fractured her leg.

“It happened in a basketball game when I jump-stopped with my foot turned out on a fast break,” McLean described. “I was really scared and [went into] shock because my leg wouldn’t support any weight. I collapsed and was really panicking, but didn’t hurt anymore, so the trainers actually thought I was OK.”

McLean was taken out of the rest of the basketball season, and was told by her doctors that she would not be back to health until at least 6 months after her surgery.

Athletic trainer Jessica Blum stated that injuries to the ACL are the most common season-ending injury she’s ever dealt with, and most commonly happens in basketball and to females.

Injuries like a tear in the ACL can happen for a variety different of reasons. “It could be anything…Some people are more susceptible to tearing their ACL’s…than other [people],” Blum said.

Blum has dealt with this injury before, and has become familiar with the process of healing after an injury.

“When it first happens, you go to a [treatment] called pre-hab, where you…strengthen the muscle as much as you can before your surgery. [Otherwise] atrophy sets in and it gets smaller; [pre-hab helps] so you can come out of [the surgery]…stronger.”

McLean is in post-surgery recovery, and is in the rehabilitation process of her knee.

“I do therapy with the DGS trainers on Tuesday and Wednesdays,” McLean said. “They have been so helpful, and I go to them if I have any questions.”

Emotionally, season-ending injuries are some of the most difficult to cope with. While an athlete’s injury is difficult enough, the recovery process can cause even more stress to an athlete.

“[My injury] affects my current life because I go to physical therapy three times a week…It affected my season because…I couldn’t play anymore,” Mclean said.

Blum knows that the large impact of an injury can create some fear for athletes while getting back into their season. Even though recovery normally occurs right on schedule, “it just takes a little longer when [the athletes are not]…emotionally…ready. [The injured person is] scared that [he/she is]…going to do something to…tear it again,” Blum said.

Even though there’s the worry of becoming injured again, McLean doesn’t let that stop her from staying optimistic. She plans to play basketball when she attends Beloit College in Wisconsin next year. In the end, she believes that her injury has helped her as a player.

“[The injury] has…made me have a greater desire to play basketball, and has helped me realize how much I truly love the game,” McLean said.

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The “Shot Heard Around the World” is the common name for the gunshot that started the American Revolutionary War, but the shot that devastated the American nation can be easily pegged to the bullet that killed former President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The alleged assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot Kennedy in his motorcade from the Texas School Book Depository above Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.  Americans had lost much faith in their country when Kennedy was killed, and they had difficulty moving on from the notion that one foolish criminal could have fatally ended their beloved Kennedy’s life and administration, known as “Camelot”.

As the 50th anniversary of this fatal event passed on Nov. 22 2013, America continued to explore the conspiracy theories- and what causes them- that attempt to explain this great American tragedy.

Most people probably consider the odd similarities and comparisons between Kennedy and 16th president Abraham Lincoln to be conspiracy theories; this is definitely not the case. Conspiracy theories are a belief that a group or other organization has influence on a significant event. These are widely disputed, and they can vary from simple logic based reasoning or to in-depth research projects conducted over many years.

The most common conspiracy theory for Kennedy’s assassination is that there were multiple gunmen in the shooting, including a Secret Service agent. This perspective even comes with its own debate on exactly how many bullets were shot as well.  An example of the more far-fetched theories is that the communist Cuban government was somehow responsible for the murder of the president.

Sophomore Peter Szpytek has his own ideas on the origin of conspiracy theories.

“People make conspiracy theories in order to feel like they know more than they actually do. They want to feel like they have control over things that they don’t have control over,” Szpytek said.

Although the idea Szpytek has is reasonable, neuroscientist at Cardiff University, Dean Burnett has studied the psychology behind how conspiracy theories come about. “With constant revelations about government surveillance and possible impending war, this must be a fertile time for conspiracy theories,” Burnett said.

Imagine the possibilities of conspiracy theories in 1963, when the Cuban Missile Crisis was looming over America with threats of nuclear bombing and the end of life as we knew it. The paranoia in that situation alone would be overbearing to citizens. Now add in the assassination of the most charismatic leader of the time to the mix, thus the beginning conspiracy theories.

Burnett sees conspiracies as a form of comfort, he thinks of it as a way to ease the pain of a difficult situation by coming up with your own rationalization for its occurrence.

“Just as some people turn to God or the supernatural to fend off this possibility, perhaps some turn to conspiracy theories,” Burnett explains.

The creation of conspiracies also fit the basic needs of humans based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Right after the survival essentials of food, water and shelter, the Hierarchy states the need for security and the lack of fear. Conspiracy theories are able to fill the void of the unknown that comes with fear by creating a better-understood explanation for the world around you. This is opposed to being forced to consider that the world is a bunch of random uncontrollable events run by unthinking forces.

Even though conspiracy theories provide stability in a not so stable world, Szpytek doesn’t see the value in the theories that people fabricate.

“I think that they don’t do much but attract our attention and fascination. They’re nothing to do except pass time,” Szpytek said.

Someone could believe that Oswald is the cold hard killer, the Secret Service had planned this murder all along, or that the Castro wanted to show Kennedy who was boss, and they would most definitely not be alone. Thousands of people either theorize or follow conspiracy theories not only about Kennedy’s death, but also about Area 51’s existence, the moon landing, 9/11 and many other historical events.

No matter what opinions conspiracy theories create in one another, one can happily live by the objective words of Kennedy himself, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

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When it comes to the success of the Boys’ Soccer team this year, coach Jon Stapleton said he “doesn’t think anything is really a surprise.”

The season consisted of eight regular season wins and qualification into the Illinois High School Association regional semi-finals tournament against DGN on October 22. Junior Eric Diaz was able to triumphantly score the game-winning goal and end the game with a 1-0 win, allowing the team to advance to the regional final.

Diaz described how he could sense that the game against DGN was going to be an impressive one.

“It felt great scoring against our cross-town rival especially during playoffs, my adrenaline was high, and the team overall played an amazing game,” Diaz said.

Although it was a tough regional game for DGS at Lyons Township High School ending in a 0-3 loss, Diaz says the success of the team this season “is any athlete’s goal.”

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This year, DGS Mustang football had a pretty rough start with the losses of the first two games, but made a complete comeback at Addison Trail with a 41-20 win, boosting the school’s student and team spirit. The season progressed from there, with another five wins with DGS scoring in the 20s each game.

Senior captain Alec Arvanitakis shared his inspiration from new head coach Mark Molinari, “Coach (Molinari) really made this football program as ‘one team’, ‘one family’…coming into this season with what he imagined a mind-set for us to accomplish as a team and program has been successful.”

The team advanced on into the first round of the Illinois High School Association playoffs Nov. 1 at Naperville Central High School. The game proved to be a challenge for the Mustangs with a 36-0 loss, but Arvanitakis still appreciated the time he got on the field with his team.

“It’s a completely different environment; you are playing with the big boys now. It’s the time where your school comes out and supports you under the Friday night lights, and it’s just a feeling that can’t even be described.”


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This year, the Girls’ Varsity volleyball team had an extremely difficult season, with back and forth wins and losses each game. Junior Megan Muench explains that there were difficulties the team has overcome.

“We’re a really young team so there was a lot to work with,” Muench said. “We all just learned the game a lot better and had good things come with time and practice.”

The girls were able to make it to the Illinois High School Association regional semi-finals on Oct. 29, against Lyons Township High School. The girls came back from a loss the first match, and took the LTHS Lions to a third game. It was neck and neck the whole match, but ended in a close 25-22 loss.

Freshman Renee Kryk is “looking forward to watching the team grow and develop.” Kryk elaborates, “being on varsity means losing seniors every season, but it also means watching the team constantly change and evolve as new players join the team each year.”