Corinne Coogan of Freehold graduated with a bachelor of science in applied physics from Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina.

Lauren Van Wie of Howell graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in exercise and sport science from Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina.

Caitlin Ramos of Manalapan has been inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta national honor society at McDaniel College, Westminster, Maryland.

Jamie Gunther of Manalapan participated in local service projects as part of the Pre-Orientation Service Program coordinated by the Landis Center at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania. Jamie is a graduate of Manalapan High School.

Melissa Rehr of Morganville was inducted into Alpha Eta, the national scholastic honor society for allied health professions, at Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut. Melissa is majoring in physical therapy.

Michael Medley of Freehold graduated with a master of science in sport management from Lasell College, Newton, Massachusetts.

Students need not be coddled on America’s college campuses



Recently, administrators at American colleges and universities have had to deal with a rather unfortunate and, depending on who you ask, scary trend. I am talking, of course, about the issues of free speech that have dominated campuses this year.

Across the nation, college students have organized protests, staged sit-ins, and used other methods to draw attention to their “cause,” if you can call it that. It seems these students feel unsafe at school and want administrations to do something about it to make their learning environment more inclusive; they want to make sure that nobody is offended by what they hear or see on campus.

Students have requested that “trigger warnings” appear in course lectures before material which might be potentially offensive is discussed; any insignificant — even unintentional — actions or phrases that might trigger some sort of offense to someone is called a “micro-aggression” and will not be tolerated by these student activists.

Instead of challenging themselves and growing intellectually, students who partake in these protests retreat into their “safe spaces” and shout down any arguments that appeal to reason.

The problems with this sort of attitude are numerous: How are professors and administrators supposed to rid their campuses of any material which might offend someone? What makes something offensive or inappropriate for a college campus? Who is to judge this material? What, then, is the purpose of spending four years (not to mention thousands of dollars) at college if someone does not allow their beliefs to be tested?

It is often stated that a lot of what a college student learns is outside the classroom. Time management, basic social and communicative skills, and other “adult” responsibilities like cooking and cleaning all come to mind as some of the things students learn while living away from mom and dad for the first time.

But if these students are being coddled and told their feelings must not be hurt and their fragile sensibilities must never be tested, what are they learning about the world? Surely, upon graduation they will have to learn the hard truth that not only will life beyond campus not cater to their every whim and fancy, but also that sometimes people will say something they disagree with or that bothers them and they won’t be able to tell them to be quiet.

College is a place for learning, opening one’s mind to new ideas, and growing to become a more mature and responsible adult. It is impossible to see how shutting out any opinion that might conflict with one’s own — especially without giving any proponents of the idea a chance to rationalize it — can help students achieve those goals.

Besides, this is an unrealistic expectation for the future; even if students succeed in placing themselves in a “safe space” bubble where nobody disagrees with them, they will soon be confronted with such opposition upon graduation and entering the work force, or really in any real-life situation.

Instances of these students arguing for a “safe space” on campus are enough to drive one crazy.

Consider, for example, Ithaca College, where students called for President Tom Rochon to be fired after he apologized for insensitive remarks made by a speaker, while also acknowledging the impossibility of university administration preventing any and all instances of hurtful speech occurring on campus.

There was also an incident at Yale University where an administrator was berated by students for sending an email saying they should engage in discussion with one another if offended by, of all things, Halloween costumes, rather than attempting to ban costumes.

Students responded by saying the administrator’s role was “not about creating an intellectual space … about creating a home.” The list of colleges and universities mired in this struggle is dizzying and shows a serious issue with the way today’s college students expect to be treated.

This has proven to be such an epidemic that even President Barack Obama has weighed in on the topic. He, thankfully, is on the side of reason.

When asked about the growing number of colleges and universities under attack by their own students, he said, “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view … Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying ‘you can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ ”

With the President’s words in mind, it is time for colleges and universities to take back their campuses and learning environments. Rather than letting students dictate curriculum out of fear of being offended, schools should encourage an intellectually challenging environment that prepares them to become competent and functioning members of society upon graduation.

Kevin Olsen of Marlboro is a senior at Providence College, Providence, R.I.

Meredith Baxter and her ‘Family Ties’ husband enjoy reunion as Christmas’ power couple

By Kellie Freeze,

In Lifetime’s holiday original movie Becoming Santa, Holly (Laura Bell Bundy) brings her boyfriend (Jesse Hutch) to meet her family and reveals that not only are her parents Santa and Mrs. Claus, but also whoever she marries will become the next Santa.

There’s no one better to play the quintessential holiday couple than Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross, who played TV’s perfect parents on Family Ties. Baxter offers a little secret about portraying Mrs. Claus. “She may be iconic, but no one knows what she really looks like!” The actress figures, “Whoever we say she is — that’s who she is!”

The actress reveals that she enjoys working on holiday films because of the strong family storylines, but the flick’s biggest draw was the opportunity to work with her good friend.

“As soon as I knew he was attached, I didn’t even bother reading the script,” she jokes.

“The interesting thing about this particular script,” muses Baxter, “is the idea that the women of the Claus family are the ones who determine who is the next Santa.” She adds, “As light as this film is, for my character there’s an undercurrent of, ‘OK, this is serious business.’”

Baxter reveals that her favorite off-set activity was reading, while Gross spent his time with his fans.

“It was very, very hot where we were shooting and Michael was wearing a big fat suit,” she recalls with a laugh. “We had a huge fan in the green room and while we weren’t working, he would just position himself in front of it. He was this large, lumpy personage, just trying to stay cool.”

As for if she remains in touch with her other Family Ties cast members, particularly her TV children, Baxter shares: “Not on a regular basis, no. That’s why I covet those times when we can get together, which is really so sweet to see them. They’re such good people and good parents. I love that we raised good children who are good parents.”

That’s the most common question she gets from fans, too. “They want to know how’s Michael Fox. They want to know if we see each other, we talk to each other. I often hear, ‘I wish you’d been my mother.’ That’s a woman who’s strong and loving and has the time to sit down and spend time with her kids the way many parents don’t have a chance to.

“The fact that all the characters seemed to have some longevity in people’s hearts and minds is just lovely. It’s rare I think that that happens, and when it does it’s really glorious. I think people liked our family because we liked each other so much.”

Lifetime airs an encore performance of Becoming Santa on Dec. 25 at 10 p.m.

Colts Neck PTO awards mini-grants to 3 schools

Staff Writer

COLTS NECK – The Colts Neck PTO is funding more than $14,000 worth of mini-grants in three schools during the 2015-16 school year.

The Colts Neck K-8 School District Board of Education recently announced the grants. The PTO will provide a total of $14,639 to be distributed among the Conover Road Primary School, the Conover Road Elementary School and the Cedar Drive Middle School.

The primary school will receive $3,100; the elementary school will receive $5,744; and the middle school will receive $4,600. Officials said an additional $1,195 will be shared by the primary and elementary schools.

According to PTO Vice President Marian

Castner, who chairs the Mini-Grant Committee, the grants for the primary school will be used to partially fund applications on an Apple TV for a world language teacher; a science presentation for kindergarten, first and second grade; and a Jungle Jumperoo, which is a piece of play equipment for the occupational therapy and physical therapy classroom.

Grant funding for the elementary school will go toward a Battle of Monmouth Trunk Show; a sensory friendly classroom; virtual learning; an icemaker and illuminated magnifier for the nurse; and a performance about Deborah Sampson, a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight for the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War.

Other funding for the elementary school will go toward a presentation for third grade pupils by Rob Aptaker that will allow the youngsters to explore the tools, clothing, games and music of the Lenape Native Americans using artifacts Aptaker brings; and science mini grants.

Also, a science and math themed quiz show; supplies for Pi Day for the fifth grade; Monmouth County Park System science programs for grades three and four; a performance from members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; and a presentation about the human body for the fifth grade.

“There will be an interactive STEAM Day (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) for the elementary and primary schools, with exhibits like ‘Humanoid Robot,’ a 3-D printer, ‘Friction Runaway,’ and stations allowing students to work cooperatively to solve puzzles and understand science and math concepts better,” Castner said.

Grant funding for the middle school will go toward the Colts Neck Heroes Project, in which sixth-graders will nominate people in their lives who are their “heroes” and several of those individuals will be selected and honored in a ceremony; Shakespeare Live, a day-long experience about Shakespeare for eighth-graders; knitting materials; and Spanish and Italian books for classrooms.

“The Colts Neck PTO is always very excited to grant as many mini-grant requests as possible to the three schools in the district,” Castner said. “The grants provide many additional experiences for our children and we always appreciate the teachers and administrators who bring us such great programs and ideas each year.”

You can go home again

In theaters now

Sisters lets two women we absolutely love bring their comic genius to the screen. Maura (Amy Poehler) and Kate Ellis (Tina Fey) are tasked with the responsibility of cleaning out their room at their childhood home as their parents are moving to a condo. But in rehashing the memories made there, the two decide there is only one thing to do: throw one last party with their old friends.

As the sisters dig through memories, we realize quickly that Maura has always played it safe, while free spirit Kate has always loved to party. Neither can wrap her head around why their parents want to get rid of this house, but both can agree on throwing the party.

So the sisters do all the prep and invite many of their old friends — who in no way resemble the pictures on Facebook or who they can remember them to be. They set out to be the perfect party hosts, only this time Maura gets to be the free spirit while Kate keeps everyone together.

Amy and Tina are funny. At times they are very funny as this is a raw comedy that doesn’t make any apologies. It is a pleasure seeing these amazingly talented women work and they tend to wow viewers with their quick wit and delivery.

The supporting characters, however, are a mixed bag. Some — Ike Barinholtz and John Cena in a bit role — made me laugh and enjoy the addition to the story. But roles for Bobby Moynihan and Maya Rudolph felt tired in Moynihan’s case and misguided and forced for Rudolph’s character.

The unevenness of the supporting characters does NOT take away from the fact that Amy and Tina — yes, I can just use their first names — are the real stars here. Together they are a breath of fresh air on the comic landscape with everything they do. These two sisters prove you can go home again — just be careful if you plan to throw a party there.

Rated: R
Stars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz
Director: Jason Moore

Grade: B

The Big Short
Rated: R
Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling
Director: Adam McKay

Adam McKay’s peek into the credit and housing bubble collapse shows an industry full of corruption, extravagance and the willingness to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public. A startling discovery by a number of seemingly ordinary individuals sets them up financially as they short the banks during the booming housing market of 2005.

Foundation provides grants for educational programs

Grants provided by the Foundation for the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional Schools are improving the schools’ programs, projects and resources.

Dotty Porcaro, president of the Manalapan Englishtown Regional School District Board of Education, said the grants are wonderful for the school district.

“I am always excited to see new things coming to the district that are great for the students,” Porcaro said. “The foundation has been phenomenal over the past few years for us and our students.”

Eight grants totaling $34,876 were recently made by the foundation and accepted by the school board. The grants are the following:

 Physics Day, Taylor Mills School, $450

 Lego Story Starter, Milford Brook School, $1,091

 Teaching with Reading Assistant Inspires Literacy, Wemrock Brook School, $3,500

 The Bass Project, Clark Mills School, Milford Brook School, Pine Brook School, Wemrock Brook School, $5,000

 MakerSpace, Pine Brook Space, $8,500

 ST Math, Milford Brook School, Taylor Mills School, Clark Mills School, $12,600

 Leveled Books, Lafayette Mills School, $1,500.

 MakerSpace in Media Center, Clark Mills School, $2,235

Pat Berger, the president of the Foundation for the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional Schools, said the foundation consists of parents and community members. She said principals and the superintendent of schools review the grant applications.

“Teachers, supervisors and administrators can submit grant requests for anything involving professional enrichment,” Berger said. “What we look for in a grant is a project, program or resource that will affect a large number of students in a school or in the district.”

Berger provided a brief description of each grant:

 The Lego Story Starter, applied for by Lisa Garnett, requests additional starter kits and curriculum software that serves as tools for literacy instruction. It will be used to kick start creativity and boost reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

 The MakerSpace in the media center at Clark Mills School, applied for by Gail Murray, is an effort to continue to create relevant and rigorous learning spaces where library media specialists and special subject educators can be forward thinking as they design innovative ways to offer students a means to work through real and personally meaningful experiences.

 The Teaching with Reading Assistant Inspires Literary Success project, applied for by Sari Laurence, is a reading intervention program that uses reading assistance to supplement literacy interventions already in place at Wemrock Brook School.

 The bass project, applied for by Victoria June, requests instruments for music education at the Wemrock Brook, Clark Mills, Milford Brook and Pine Brook schools.

 The MakerSpace grant, applied for by John Spalthoff, allows Pine Brook School to expand its MakerSpace classroom with items identified as worthwhile components to the educational program.

 The ST Math Program, applied for by Jodi Pepchinski, Kerry Marsala, Jayme Orlando and Gregory Schmidt, is already being successfully implemented at the Lafayette Mills and Wemrock Brook schools with exceptional results, according to the foundation.

This application focuses on expanding its use to the rest of the grade one through five schools in the district.

ST Math is a web-based software program created by Mind Research and it presents a “unique math education process that engages the learner’s spatial temporal reasoning abilities to explain, understand and solve multi-step problems.”

 The Physics Day grant, applied for by Sharyn Fisher, allows Taylor Mills School to rent an inflatable slide which serves as a hands-on experiment regarding friction and speed.

 The leveled books proposal, applied for by Allison Rogers and Mindy Musillo, requests funds to purchase leveled fiction and nonfiction books for the Lafayette Mills book room.

Pupil’s project draws response from ballerina


 MEMS pupil Sydney Block is a dancer who created a project about Arantxa Ochoa, a celebrated ballerina in the Pennsylvania ballet. MEMS pupil Sydney Block is a dancer who created a project about Arantxa Ochoa, a celebrated ballerina in the Pennsylvania ballet. A girl who studies Spanish at the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School (MEMS) recently had an exciting encounter.

To celebrate Hispanic American Heritage Month, Spanish teacher Chandler Oliphant asked her eighth grade pupils to conduct research and design a poster to honor the life and accomplishments of a famous Hispanic American.

“One of my students, Sydney Block, is a serious dancer, so she decided to research Arantxa Ochoa, an accomplished Spanish ballerina who currently practices her art in the United States,” Oliphant said.

Sydney, 13, who is the daughter of Elly and Doug Block, said she was half joking when she told her mom she wanted to share her project with Ochoa, who is a celebrated dancer in the Pennsylvania ballet.

“My mom said it was actually a great idea,” Sydney said. “Then the next day she sent (an email) to her.”

In her email, Elly Block told Ochoa that Sydney is taking honors Spanish and chose to reflect how Ochoa is a hero.

“My daughter is a dancer, and although your name was not on the teacher’s list, she asked if she could do her project/poster on your life,” she wrote to Ochoa. “We thought you might be interested in seeing her finished project.”

Ochoa responded with a sincere thank you note in which she said, “This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with me. Please tell (Sydney) that I feel honored she has chosen me and that I would love to meet her sometime. You mentioned that Sydney dances … is this something she would like to do as a career, what kind of dancer is she?”

Sydney said at first, she did not believe it when her mom told her that Ochoa had responded.

“I was very excited,” the young woman said. “I didn’t think someone like Arantxa would even have time to open her email, let alone respond.”

Oliphant said her supervisor, Paul De- Marco, believed it would be nice to share the news because it demonstrates how the World Language Department at MEMS is able to make connections with Spanish communities outside the middle school. Sydney said she picked Ochoa because she seemed like an interesting person. The project surpassed her expectations and Sydney found Ochoa to be inspirational.

“I realized I have a lot in common with her,” she said. “She says she does not have a perfect ballet body and I don’t either. For example, my feet pronate (the inward roll of the foot). I also have flat feet. I have to work a little harder because of my imperfections.” Sydney thanked her parents for their support. “My parents were just as excited for me as I was,” she said. “I want to thank them for all their support with dance. They know how much I love it and how important dancing is to me.”

Sydney has been dancing for 10 years. Ballet is one of her favorite dance forms, but she does many other kinds as well. She is a competitive dancer at Center Stage Dance and Theater School, Marlboro and East Brunswick.

In the future, Sydney said, she hopes to participate in a ballet company and would love to have any job in the dance field. Appearing on Broadway is one of her many goals.

“I would love to keep in touch with Arantxa,” the young woman said. “Arantxa gave me some hope because she worked through her imperfections and ended up becoming the principal dancer in a ballet company.”

Grateful for service to the community

We wish to make all the readership of the News Transcript aware of the superlative contribution made by Dr. Lawrence Weiner and Dr. Gregory Jewell and all their associates and staff at Town and Country Veterinary Services in Manalapan.

The best way we can describe how they work is tirelessly, efficiently, sensitively and neighborly. They seem that way no matter what new hire joins their team, no matter what task they take on. They take a personal interest in your pet’s welfare. They take care to be thorough about your pet’s needs and delicate as to how your pet care experience affects you.

They make those little, but significant gestures beyond the expected that endears them to you enough that you want them as your neighbors. They know why they are there and you come away all the more grateful for their contribution to the community. For 15 years we have seen all that we have stated about them to be true.

We highly recommend you stop in and give these folks the chance to show you how wonderful an experience pet care can be for you and your pets. You will get great pet care, but also likely make great friends there. Thank you, Town and Country Veterinary Services.

Lance and Leslie Cox
Freehold Township