The More, The Merrier
By: Ava Nagata
Nothing brings people together like the holidays. You may find our sports teams playing against Quakertown High School, but UPHS Orchestra is changing the narrative through two combined concerts. On December 13th and 15th, the Orchestra will make history with Upper Perk’s first collaborative performance.
While interviewing junior violinist Autumn Alderfer, she explains that alone, Quakertown does not make up a full string orchestra. This gives Quakertown’s students the opportunity to perform in a large group and allows Upper Perk students the opportunity to perform outside of the community. Autumn expressed, “It's a nice experience for us to get out there with our instruments because that's part of who I am.”
Upper Perk’s director, Dr. Thomas said, “I, at the same time, was looking to expand the experiences for our students by giving them more opportunities to perform in more than just our winter and spring concerts.”
Dr. Thomas consistently works for his students creating a well appreciated orchestra, even outside the community. When asked if performing with another school would be a challenge, he stated, “I don’t see it so much as a challenge, but as an opportunity for all of us to become better students and performers.”
At each school, their own director will be conducting and Autumn gives praise to Quakertown’s conductor on how she caught onto Upper Perk’s style quickly. Alderfer explains how “the collaboration is unfamiliar” in how Quakertown plays and conducts differently. Dr. Thomas believes this will be a great opportunity for both schools, as they share common goals of growing their programs.
UPHS has been preparing for this concert since students returned in the fall. They will also be participating in collaborative practices with Quakertown two weeks prior to the performance.
This opportunity gives students a chance to expand their horizons and allows both communities to appreciate their hard work and talent. These two musical groups playing together created a new bond between separated communities.
Letter From the editor
By: Bryce Shanafelt
We in the Journalism class have finally found our footing for creating this publication. This time around, we have focused on getting articles written quickly so we can spend a longer time fine-tuning them. Also, the team now knows exactly what they need to do to make the Walt Street Journal successful, and has come a long way as a group since the beginning of the school year. While the second marking period is ending and so will our class, this newspaper has connected all of us, and we will continue to support not only the Walt Street Journal, but each other.
Giving Back for a Brighter Season
By: Emily Foreman
Open Link Food Drive, Photo taken by Emily Foreman
Each year, hundreds of families in the Upper Perkiomen Valley anticipate a joyous holiday season filled with family, food, gifts, and decorations. For many, giving gifts can show appreciation for loved ones, and food is a method of connecting and bringing together family and friends during the holiday season.
But, in reality, not everyone in the Upper Perkiomen community can afford to decorate their table with treats—let alone give gifts to show their love. According to a 2021 report from Data USA, over 5% of the valley residents are living in poverty. Fortunately, the Open Link offers options to these members of the community.
While some students may know them for their Drug Prevention t-shirts the week before prom, The Open Link is an agency in the Upper Perkiomen District located on Jefferson Street behind Dunkin’.
According to its website, the center “provides services and programs that help, educate, and empower” the community. These services include domestic violence resources, financial counseling, and a community food pantry that donates over 180 monthly food orders.
With the holiday season approaching, Open Link also provides programs to address the needs of many families. Specifically, parents and loved ones can "shop" for gifts for young kids and teens in the Christmas Room. Their Adopt-a-Family program also allows individuals or organizations to buy gifts for children during the holiday season, including toys and clothes.
Upper Perkiomen High School supported the Open Link with a food drive run by the National Honors Society. Students brought goods, like shampoo and canned food, to the high school. These were then donated to Open Link. The homeroom that donated the most goods was rewarded with a donut party.
According to Ms. Phillips, the NHS collected over twenty boxes of goods and counting. Although this event ended on December 21st, anyone in the community can continue to donate to the Open Link including their food pantry and Christmas room. Other ways to help include volunteering at the center to help with the food pantry, administration, and as-needed support. Donations and volunteering support the Open Link in their journey to make this Christmas a little brighter for all of our community.
Speakeasy: A Hidden Gem
By: Bryce Shanafelt
Seating inside Speakeasy Coffee Company. Photo taken by Bryce Shanafelt
Hidden away from the small businesses along Main Street, coffee lovers gather at Speakeasy Coffee Company.
Speakeasy is located behind Raw Replenish, but the only clear indication of its existence is a small sign on the side of the road. It is a tough place to find for first-timers, although the search is worth the effort.
The building has an unassuming appearance from the outside. However, when I entered, I was transported to a rustic and modern cafe with a comforting vibe. The main room is decorated with art, bags of coffee beans for sale, and local business cards on the bulletin board. Further back in the building, there is a large seating area with comfortable couches that can be shared with friends. I sat in a small niche and was quite relaxed.
Fairly priced coffee ($2.00 - $4.00) can be ordered at the bar. The drip coffee has a strong and complex flavor, and the mocha is pleasant, with notes of chocolate and espresso. Various teas are available as well. In my opinion, Speakeasy is a great place to get an after-school pick-me-up with friends and enjoy the drinks and atmosphere.
Speakeasy is special because it mainly roasts coffee rather than focusing solely on making drinks. Many other coffee shops use coffee beans from outside roasters, while Speakeasy roasts their own beans. Those coffee beans are sold to customers, other coffee shops, and used to make drinks at the bar. Through the bean-roasting business, Speakeasy is able to stay successful despite its less-than-ideal placement in town and odd hours. Because of this, it provides a unique experience that cannot be replicated.
Despite this, the hours make it very difficult for the average student to visit, mostly being open only during school hours. However, on Thursday and Friday, they are open until 4 PM. A short walk from the high school to Speakeasy makes it easy to go after school on those days to experience the unique atmosphere and coffee taste with friends. It is also open on Saturdays 8 AM to 3 PM, so consider visiting then.
Speakeasy does have its faults for students, such as its limited hours and its hidden location. However, if you have the time to go, it is worth the visit for the freshly roasted coffee and relaxing atmosphere students can enjoy.
Counter inside Speakeasy Coffee Company, Photo taken by Bryce Shanafelt
Hard Work Pays Off
By: Taylor Bieler
Maggie Milkowich on the field, photo taken by Sharon Shipe
Many students are not aware of the different opportunities at our school that can turn into careers. But, Maggie Milkowich is no stranger to this idea.
Maggie, a 6-year Cross Country runner, and 9-year lacrosse player, involves herself in multiple activities at the Upper Perk High School. After 8th grade, Maggie decided she wanted to become an athletic trainer because of her love for sports and the need to help athletes like herself.
“I decided I wanted to be an athletic trainer in early 8th grade when I began to look into the Western Center. I’ve always loved sports so I wanted to stay close to them and decided I wanted to help athletes like myself.”
The 8th-grade tour awakened Maggie to the opportunity to further her dreams at the Western Center offered by our High School. She later applied and was accepted to the athletic training program giving her great experience and knowledge allowing herself a head start.
With the opportunity to gain experience at the Western Center in athletic training, Maggie decided to ask Josh, the head school trainer, if she could help during the sports games for extra experience, and he was all for it.
This involved getting real-life experience learning how to treat injuries, asking questions to a reliable source, and restocking supplies in the training room. This opportunity helped her gain real-life experience which could be an opportunity for other interested students here at Upper Perk, whether or not they attend the Western Center.
To students struggling to decide whether to pursue an education at the Western Center, Maggie offers some guidance.“I strongly believe going to tech and becoming a student trainer opened me to new opportunities to learn more about an athletic trainer. Especially at Tech, it gives me an overview of what college courses will be like and I get a head start.” The Western Center is an opportunity to give students a head start and prepare them for their careers after school; who wouldn’t want that?
While balancing multiple extracurriculars along with her educational expectations, Maggie hasn’t found her dedication to be overwhelming or challenging but more of her own way to thrive performing at the best of her ability knowing what she is doing is only making her better.
Maggie Milkowich, Photo taken by Sharon Shipe
UPHS Girls Wrestle Their Way Towards Respect
By: Mia Ulmer
Girls wrestling practice, Photo taken by Mia Ulmer
This year the UPHS girls are taking CHARGE by adding a girl's wrestling team to their winter sports program. According to the National Wresting Coaches Association, over 50,000 girls nationwide are wrestlers, and this number has steadily risen since 1994, when only 804 girls wrestled. By participating in this empowering passion, young girls find their power and earn respect on the mat.
So far, the girls have had one scrimmage at Boyertown High School. They trained for two weeks and gave their all, preparing to show off new skills for their matches. After coaching 10 years of boys wrestling, Mr. Omar Porrata was exceptionally impressed with the girl's hard-working performances. “They did well for what they’ve had, but still have lots to work on,” He said. “The girls are adamant and, I want it to keep coming.”
Senior Kaylyn Adair is nowhere near a beginner wrestler. Adair was a member if the boys team for 12 years prior to the girls team. In her previous seasons, she said “I struggled with a lot of forfiets. Boys refused to wrestle me because I was a girl, and if they lost they would be ‘letting down their team.’” The girls' wrestling team allows advanced and experienced girls like Kaylyn to have their own team and time to shine.
Head Coach, Mr. Porrata, was informed of this opportunity and was “ready to overcome the obstacle.” Although girl wrestling was entirely unfamiliar to him, he was “up for a new challenge” Coaches have goals for the girls that will position the team in the direction of not only a successful season but also racking up wins in their future.. Porrata plans to “lay down a foundation for the girl's wrestling program.”. They further plan to build the team up, for a stronger future of girls wrestling.
Girls Wrestling is currently the #1 growing sport in America, and UPHS contributes to this, marking the start of UPHS history. Mr Porrata “does not doubt” that the girls are qualified for this opportunity. He describes them as “rough, tough, and always going above and beyond expectations.” Assistant Coach, Mrs. Stone was “surprised by all the fight in them”
The girls have made it clear that they are fully equipped to prove their worth and represent the possibilities of what ALL girls are capable of achieving. Adair said it best that this new team“has been a big push to boosting girls’ confidence.”
From up to down. Abigail Rowland and Kaylyn Adair. Photo taken by Mia Ulmer
The Ben Buckwalter Experience
By: Julian Lao
Ben Buckwalter posing with his parents, photo taken by Alexis Jenofsky
An incoming freshman may have many ambitions for their high school life; Perhaps they want to be involved in the school’s music groups, or be involved in some of the school’s clubs. Is it even possible to do either while keeping test grades up? For any student who asks this question, take inspiration from UPHS Senior Ben Buckwalter, the student who does all three.
Any students who wish to expand upon their musical abilities can look to Ben and see the many opportunities within their reach. Since entering high school, he has been in the school orchestra, concert band, jazz band, marching band, and even the community-run Red Hill Band. In 11th grade, he also joined the UPHS Drama club, playing a main role in the school’s adaptation of Mamma Mia!
Not only has Ben conquered the artistic arena, but he has embarked on an athletic journey. Ben quotes that he has been playing tennis “casually since 7th grade”, and he joined the UPHS Tennis team upon entering high school. Since 9th grade, he has made his way up to varsity singles. With such an accumulated list of activities, students should feel no worries in exploring these groups for themselves.
Aside from music and sports, Ben is an avid participant in other clubs, such as Club Esperanto and Leo Club. Most notably, Ben founded the Graphic Design Committee this year, stating that he “saw a need in the school for better advertisements and publicity” and took the opportunity to start a club of his own. Ben’s active involvement in clubs encourages others not only to involve themselves in extracurriculars but also to be a leader in creating new opportunities within the school.
Even while being invested in these various activities, Ben manages to maintain a distinguished academic profile. In addition to honors and AP classes, Ben stacks up his academic plate with multiple dual enrollment classes. In terms of standardized testing, he earned a perfect on the ACT. Ben’s intense academics are in pursuit of his goal to be a “civil engineer after going to college”. With the knowledge that a fellow student can perform all of this, students should strive to pursue their own academic and career-related goals.
For underclassmen beginning their high school life or even current juniors and seniors, Ben Buckwalter is a true “renaissance man” to look up to.
Ben Buckwalter working in class, photo taken by Julian Lao
Color and Creativity to Upper Perk
By: Logan Davis
Imagine walking down the same dull hallways that give off an uninspiring impression every day. But wait! The Graphic Design Club saves the hallway by sprucing it up with a little color and creativity that brightens up the atmosphere. Providing informational fliers and designs.
After an exclusive interview with Co-Founder Ben Buckwalter, he stated the club was created by Sarah Quinones and himself last fall after making a project for AP language. Acknowledging the need for change, they presented the idea to staff like Mr. Amsler and the future supervisor of the club, Ms. Barker. “Sarah Quinones and I created the club last spring after noticing a need for centralized advertisement designs in Upper Perk.” The Graphic Design Club or the GDC “is a student-run ad agency” that focuses on coming together to organize the production of advertisements for the school and community.
Since then the club has been a success, “garnering 16 members after having their first meeting and 18 requests so far this year.” Accumulating many submissions from the school like the Film Critics Society and the ECC, even receiving requests from businesses like US Tape. This is accomplished by members of GDC coming together once a month to determine their projects through submissions. The most common submissions are posters but the GDC also produces other graphic design requests, such as logos, t-shirt designs, and informational fliers.
Anyone in the school can submit requests by using the QR Codes hung up around the school. This includes students and staff. To sign up for the club, students can text @uphsgdc to 81010, or come to meetings that are hosted on the first Friday of each month. Applying for the club is attentive. According to Ben “All new members create a mock poster so we can gauge their artistic skills and preferences.” This makes sure that every project completed is done skillfully, meeting the standard that the GDC upholds. The Graphic Design Club archives a way to centralize advertisement while striving for quality in each project.
Getting Into the Spirit Over Holiday Break: Holiday Activities
By: Kayden Johnson
Imagine it’s winter break, and you have nothing to do leading up to the holidays. Maybe you have siblings and none of you can think of any activities to do to get in the holiday spirit, or you and your friends can’t decide on what to do together. Luckily, there are many nearby winter activities to take part in as well as many crafts and treats to make.
There are many light shows set up nearby:
Lights in the Village in Eagleville
Reading’s Christmas on the Mountain in Reading
Lights In The Parkway in Allentown
Koziar’s Christmas Village in Bernville
Christmas Spirit Light Show in Lancaster
The Lehigh Valley Zoo also does its Winter Light Spectacular, which features nearly 1.2 million lights.
In addition to light shows, there are also numerous nearby events and places to go to in order to get in the holiday spirit.
Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market in Allentown
Quakertown Farmers Market and Flea Market in Quakertown
The Grand Theatre in East Greenville
They’re playing reruns of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and accepting donations for the local ambulances.
The Farm in Quakertown
The Farm is a bakery and they will be open starting December 21st with the exclusion of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
More holiday-focused events are also taking place, such as:
Christmas Eve Brunch on Sunday, December 24th at 11 am at The Washington House in Sellersville
The Snowflake Special on Tuesday, December 26th at 1 pm at the Colebrookdale Railroad in Boyertown
Locomotive Cab Ride on Wednesday, December 27th at 1 pm at the Colebrookdale Railroad
In the chance that it ends up snowing over break and the snow sticks, some fun activities you can do outside include:
Building a snowman
Making snow forts
One of the best places to sled nearby is Green Lane Park, and there is also the big hill behind the 4&5 center.
For people who may not want to do many outside things, there are also numerous indoor activities to take part in, such as baking or even some crafts you could do that you could give people as gifts if you’re not sure what to get them.
Making and decorating cookies or gingerbread houses
Decorate or make ornaments
Decorate or make a wreath
Decorate stockings to hang up for Christmas
A small desktop or tabletop tree
Can be made with yarn, glue, and a styrofoam cone
All of these materials can be purchased at our local Dollar Tree, Walmart, Weis, and Redner’s.
WHEN SHOULD CHRISTMAS START?
‘Tis the Season
By: Emily Foreman
In such a dreary season of the year, Christmas and all the joy it brings can be a glistening light in the darkness. All the decorated classrooms make school a little more bearable and the lights make the early nights a little cheerier. So, why not start the festivities early?
I choose to begin the holiday season on November 1st, extending the season into two full months. For some, this may seem like too much pageantry, and others may argue this strips Thanksgiving of its appreciation. But to them, I say we should reframe our conception of Christmas to be not just one single day, but rather a season that marks the beginning of winter and all the holidays that fall in it that can be celebrated together. When it comes to celebrations, the more, the merrier.
Gathering around a table on Thanksgiving surrounded by family, food, and festivities is the penultimate holiday to Christmas and should be treated as such. The anticipation for Christmas only adds to the warmth and comfort of Thanksgiving, not strip it of its joy. As we prepare for Christmas, Thanksgiving falls halfway through as a trail marker to build even more excitement. Covering my room in plastic snowflakes and taking out my snowman-themed blankets on November 1st only adds to the joy of the season. Each day is a little brighter in anticipation of the finale: Christmas Day. So let this holiday season be merry, bright, and long.
The Battle of the Season
By Taylor Bieler
Many people spend most of November arguing about when the right time to start celebrating Christmas is, which leaves us arguing, before or after Thanksgiving?
In my opinion, people get super excited for the holiday season and I could say the same. Although, we have to let Thanksgiving be its own holiday before we think of Christmas. Thanksgiving is the celebration of the family and friends in our lives and what we are thankful for bringing its importance. Christmas is the celebration of gift-giving and showing people how much you love them, leaving these two holidays to have their own months of celebration.
If people start celebrating Christmas in November, by the time Christmas comes around it will not feel the same as it once did in the very beginning of November taking away the excitement of the holidays. Starting the celebration after Thanksgiving leaves the Christmas spirit fresh and exciting after anxiously waiting in anticipation. What better way to start celebrating than on Black Friday?
A Road Less Traveled
By Emma Kelley
Photo taken by Emma Kelley
Never did I think I would have to tell my family I wasn’t going to college. When seeing my extended family over the summer the common question was, “Where are you applying?” My immediate thought was: “How am I going to tell them that I wasn’t going to college?”
Throughout high school, I have pushed myself to perform well in classes because it would look good on college applications. Although, I dreaded having to sit in an 80-minute class 4 times a day. It wasn't that I didn't like to learn, I just wasn't excited about the material.
Junior year I found myself lost and feeling like a failure because every college career path I was looking at disappointed me. I was convinced that college was the best fit for me, until one day when my mom said, “Why do you want to go to college?”
I had no answer.
I listened to my mom’s advice and took a personality test. I found out that I learn better with hands-on experience; no wonder why I didn’t like most classes I was taking. I found myself being more successful in TV production and Journalism than world history
I prioritized getting in touch with my personality type through much research. One thing in particular was that I loved working with people. I decided to pick a career path based on personal relations, landing on real estate.
I got connected with a realtor who is helping me gain hands-on experience in the real estate world. Advice I listened to was: work hard, get in touch with your personality, never lose faith, and discover your strengths. I now have a plan after graduation that doesn’t include college and I know that’s okay.
Alight your mind with knowledge, but be truthful to the way you learn. Maybe college isn’t right for you like it wasn’t for me; don’t let that discourage you. My advice is to you: research local job opportunities and get hands-on experience; you’ll be surprised how much you could learn.
New Year, New Me
By Grace Vogel
Almost everyone makes a New Year's resolution, but how many of those people actually follow through with them? About 64% of adults make a resolution but only about 20% hold themselves to it. Will you be part of the 20% this year?
Making a New Year's resolution and sticking to it can be very beneficial. A resolution can give people the drive and motivation to be the best version of themselves and start a new journey of self growth.
Self growth can be very beneficial for high schoolers to help them become more confident in themselves, which can impact their mental and physical health positively. Starting a new year on January 1st gives a clean slate to work on things that may be causing trouble or can be used as an opportunity for new ideas and habits. Some include going to the gym, joining a new sport or club, or minimizing phone usage. Resolutions have a generational stigma around them, leave it to Gen Z to turn that around.