School News Blog



Science Current Events


By Ester Teper

New scientific discoveries emerge every day, whether it be by accident or premeditated. One of the most commonly-referenced mistakes was the discovery of Penicillin. Alexander Fleming was culturing Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in his laboratory, looking for cures to pathogenic diseases. Upon returning from a long vacation, he not only found a moldy sandwich but also contaminated plates with the mold itself. Upon further investigation, Fleming found that Penicillin had antimicrobial properties, marking a turning point in bacteriology. It is such experiments that are worth recognition and that are worthy of widespread knowledge. Although currently, scientists might not be looking for a way to kill S. aureus, they are looking for answers to various scientific theories. The following are a few events that have occurred over the past few months.

The Solar Eclipse

The first solar eclipse in the past century happened on August 21, 2017. Starting in Oregon around 1 pm, and continuing all the way to South Carolina until 3 pm, this eclipse caused thousands of people to come out and take a look. The sky darkened, almost mimicking nighttime. Nevertheless, the proper precautions needed to be taken place to ensure people’s safety. Looking at the eclipse without any protection could cause retinal damage and possible blindness. As the retina sends signals to the brain about what it sees, most people believe that pain is registered in this way as well. This is not the case, and the eyes are actually incapable of communicating to the brain that something is painful, and thus the eyes become damaged without warning. For protection, there were special sunglasses available. Some bought glasses, and other made them out of cereal boxes. These glasses sold out within moments of being put on sale, and since the next eclipse will be happening in 2024, some people are already preparing for the next one. There will always be full solar eclipses around the world in the following years:

2019: South Pacific, Chile, Argentina

2020: South Pacific, Chile, Argentina, South Atlantic

2021: Antarctica

2026: the Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, Spain

2027: Morocco, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia

2028: Australia, New Zealand

2030: Botswana, South Africa, Australia

Back to the Past

Another large part of science and biology is using curiosity to analyze what occurred in the past. Something that scientists have recently discovered is that Neanderthals were even more similar to humans than was previously believed. Specifically, Neanderthals were found to self-medicate, trying to find a way to alleviate pain. In a study looking at dental plaques in four Neanderthals, it was found that they acquired medicinal plants to try to cure themselves. Because dental plaque is hardened bacteria, it was preserved and can still be experimented on. The four organisms were found in two parts fo the world: Spain and Belgium. Due to the variation in diet, there is more information, allowing for a more definite conclusion. They were consuming poplar, an active ingredient in aspirin. This study also allowed for a deeper understanding of the microbiomes of Neanderthals, something that is difficult to do to samples that are 50,000 years old.

Researchers of a different study were interested in determining if there was a genetic link between Ancient Egyptians and current Egyptians. The study found that Ancient Egyptian DNA matched that of people from the Near East, Anatolia, and Eastern Mediterranean Europeans. In addition, this study allowed evidence to emerge from unwrapping mummies, specifically revealing evidence of miscarriages and 3,000-year-old misconceptions. After taking 166 bone samples from 15 mummies, extracting DNA from 90 individuals, and mapping the full genomes in 3 cases, the researchers concluded that the relationship between Ancient Egyptians and people from the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, the results might be skewed. Due to a lack of genetic material in bones and contamination from incomplete sterility, as well as the high levels of humidity in the tombs, the mummy DNA was not in prime condition. This is still the most substantial evidence that scientists have been able to look at from that time period.

Another Tidbit

A new mattress has just been designed, specifically for athletes. The designers hoped to establish a space where people could fall into REM sleep faster, as this is the only time that muscles regenerate and increase coordination. Scott Paladini, the entrepreneur, created a mattress that was easily shipped, made entirely of foam, and had high quality. It is made of fibers of Celliant, which have been proven to reduce pain and sores, as well as help speed up healing processes. This mattress allows users to fall asleep 15 minutes faster and has gotten only 5-star ratings.


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The 2018-2019 SGA

By: Ester Teper, Shreya Gupta, and Andrew Miller

Every school has class councils, club presidents, and a community of leaders. At Biotech, there is an SGA: a group of students who work closely with teachers to manage school activities. On Friday, May 19th, the student body of Biotechnology High School elected its  Student Government Association for the 2018-2019 school year. These exceptional students were chosen in a variety of ways: through a school vote, teacher vote, or principal decision. Biotech, here is your next SGA:

Co-Presidents: Olivia Pasquale and Jeeshan Ahmed

Directors of Student Affairs: Jack Campanella and Amelia Jay

PSFA Representative: Chimaobi Chikezie

Club Representative: Samuel Mueller

Freshman-Junior Representative: Odhran King

Sophomore-Senior Representative: Mia Bersalona

Communications Liaison: Arya Sharma 

All of these students are ready to involve themselves in the school community, bring more people together, and make Biotech a home for everyone. We had the chance to interview our new leaders and ask them about their plans for their terms and endeavors for the upcoming year. Here’s what they had to say:

What do you hope to do in the future in your position?

“As co-president, my biggest goal is to bring positivity, happiness, and unity to this school. I know that we all have different groups of friends and classes, but it's incredibly  important to make sure that we are all friendly with each other, especially in a small, close-knit school like Biotech. Of course, it's impossible to make everyone best friends, but it would be a huge accomplishment to  successfully create an environment in which everyone is united and can have fun at school events. So I guess that's my biggest goal - to unite everyone further and to make school events the most fun they can possibly be.”

Olivia Pasquale (Co-President) 

“I want to work on making freshman orientation less chaotic. When everyone is running around in the school, it’s kind of wild. If we mixed the Escape Room idea with the Amazing Race idea, it would make it easier and more energetic. The reason the Amazing Race is so crazy is because everyone is running around. But if we mixed the two concepts together, it wouldn’t be as cramped and it would be more fun. I also want to widen our outreach to other schools, especially Asbury Park and Red Bank.”

Amelia Jay (Director of Student Affairs)

Who specifically do you want to work with?

“I would like to work with Students of Service, Junior Statesmen of America, and Arts & Entertainment because they’re great clubs for anyone to get involved in, no matter their grade level, and they have some really cool events.”

Mia Bersalona (Sophomore-Senior Representative) 

“Mr. Evancho and Ms. Siter; they’re my favorite people in the whole school and I’m excited to get to know them better through  SGA. They’re really great and intelligent mentors  and I think we could make it a great year.”

Arya Sharma (Communications Liaison)

What is one specific project you’d like to implement and how will you do so?

“A potential fundraiser I'd like to organize is selling coffee in the mornings in our school once in awhile. This would hopefully be a very popular event with the BTHS student body and faculty and would help raise funds for our school.”

Sam Mueller (Club Representative) 

“I want to implement more events like Battle of the Classes, Mr. BTHS, End of Year Picnic, etc. Students at Biotech sometimes experience stressful working conditions and it’s nice to relax with fun events that people take a lot of joy in. ”

Jeeshan Ahmed (Co-President)

Why did you want to have the SGA position you now hold?

“Several factors went into my decision to run for the Freshman-Junior Representative position. One of the main reasons why I ran for SGA was to become more involved in the BTHS community. I believe that I offer a different mindset to many of my peers, and that difference allows for me to present different ideas that will ultimately help the SGA lead the student body more efficiently. I ran for the Freshman-Junior Representative role specifically because I feel it is the position that best suits my personality. I am most efficient when I work with others towards a common goal, and working with the Freshman and Junior student councils will allow me to really make a difference for our school.”

Odhran King (Freshman-Junior Representative)

“I ran for  DOSA because I wanted to help out with organizing the open houses and freshmen orientation as a way to give back to BTHS for all the opportunities it has given me. I also want to recreate the feeling of excitement that was shared with me during both the information sessions and the freshmen orientation.”

Jack Campanella (Director of Student Affairs)


Now that you have been elected to SGA, what is one thing you want to do to help improve this school for the students?

“Well, because of my position as Parent Student Faculty Association Representative, I want to try to improve the physical education for juniors and seniors at our school. Right now, only freshmen and sophomores get gym class and I think it’s something that the juniors and seniors are really missing out on."

Chimaobi Chikezie (PSFA Representative)


What would you like to say to fellow students? Staff? Mr. Meehan?

“There is so much I’d like to say to each individual member of Biotech if I could, since all members helped me get to this point. I’m going to just say a few general groups, though.

  • To my sophomore classmates: Thank you for smiling back at me in the hallway, and thank you for supporting me :)

  • To the freshmen, juniors, seniors…: Thank you for letting me get to know you! And if I don’t know you too well, thank you for trusting me to get to know you in the future!

  • To my teachers, Mr. Meehan, and the entire faculty: Thank you for advising me when I was unsure if I should run for Co-president. And thank you for being so approachable.

To everyone: I’m so grateful for this opportunity; thank you for electing me to be your next Co-President!”

Olivia Pasquale (Co-President)

On behalf of all the students at Biotech, we’d like to wish our officers congratulations and the very best of luck in their time in office!



Freshmen Advice

By: Ester Teper

Biotechnology High School is definitely an accepting place; the community is extremely diverse and comprised of numerous different cultures, helping everyone fit in and make friends. However, coming in to Biotech a freshman can still be scary and a little daunting. In this article, current Biotech students  give the class of 2021 advice on how to make the best of their high school experience.


Why did you choose Biotech?

“I chose Biotech because I went to a really small middle school with neither  diversity nor  students  who had the same passion for learning as I did. I knew some older kids from the same town as me who went to Biotech, and they loved it. I knew I wanted to spend high school in a place where the atmosphere is happy and  supportive and the teachers are helpful and friendly, so coming to Biotech was an easy choice for me.”


“I chose Biotech for the IB program. I loved the idea of learning on the same level as students from all around the world, and the sense of community that is formed from it really drew me into the school. Also, I love biology (of course).”


“I was initially set on going to MAST, but as soon as I saw how beautiful the school was and how amazingly composed and intelligent the students were, I knew I wanted to come to Biotech. Every student I talked to seemed to have something interesting to say and had a positive experience with the school. Being a highly rated high school in NJ at the time didn't hurt either…”


“I chose Biotech for the atmosphere and the student body. I knew it was a good school, but I worried if this was a place I was ready to spend the next four years at. When I went to the open house, I saw how nice and chill the students were and I really liked the atmosphere they created. Also my older brother went here and loved it, so that's another factor.”


What’s the best thing about Biotech?

“The diversity of the student body. There are so many people of different cultures and backgrounds here that everyone has an interesting story to tell. Coming from a small town where everyone tends to be pretty similar, I always find it interesting to talk about cultures with other people and to see how different cultures can contain many of the same elements.”


“The lab experience is amazing! I do so many cool things in class on a daily basis, whether it be gel electrophoresis or chemotaxis assays. Not only do I get to learn and explore lots of different lab skills, but my friends never cease to be impressed with all the cool things I'm doing!”


“I feel comfortable to be myself here. I can be loud with my friends without facing judgement, try hard in school without being labeled as a nerd,and try different things and go out of my comfort zone.”


“The general sense of community and belonging are unparalleled at this school. Friend groups are always expanding. You constantly learn more about each others' experiences, beliefs, ambitions, and hopes. In the process you'll make intimate connections with people who might be your friends for life.”



What do you wish you knew before you came here?

“I wish I knew about the gradual adjustment into the school workload, not only during freshman year, but throughout all of high school. The teachers here really do prepare you for each coming week, month, and year, so that when the greatest obstacles come, you're prepared for them already.”


“I wish I knew that the teachers aren’t out to get me, and they really do care about us. The environment is not extremely intense, and it is vital to relax sometimes. Definitely be sure to figure out how to clear your brain of any extra information, and write down things instead of keeping it in your head.”


“I came into the school thinking it'd be just like middle school and that I'd be at the top of the class academically. Going to Biotech, where everyone is in the top 5% of their middle school class, really evens the playing field. Although I'm not the best in my grade anymore, I feel like coming here has allowed me to separate my self-worth from my academic achievement. I've learned that sometimes you're not going to  understand what's going on in class and that you might fail a test, but people are always willing to help you out and no one's going to judge. We're all in the same boat here!”


“I can't afford to procrastinate, even if it’s because I'm feeling a lot of anxiety. No matter what goes on in your personal life, your academic life just has to keep moving forward if you want to do well. You cannot afford to fall back. Time management ties into this - you have to plan out your day and stick to that plan if you intend to sleep at all.”


“Make sure to manage your time, as this is what most people at Biotech struggle with at first. More than 50% of Biotech students play sports, play an instrument, or are involved in extracurricular activities. The only way to handle the academic pressure and your life outside of school is to manage your time. There’s no way around it.”



What are the advantages of going to our school?

“The students are in charge of clubs and have a lot of independence and responsibility. Also, you get to know your classmates really well considering there's only 80 students in a grade and you'll be with them for four years within a close proximity.”


“1. High ranking in NJ, so we get bragging rights
2. Fun activities like Career and Wellness Days
3. Unique opportunities for learning
4. Awesome facilities for labs
5. Great guidance program
6. Friendly and supportive people.”


“You're going to  get a great learning experience and you're going to  make friends from all over Monmouth County. If you had asked me in 8th grade where Matawan was, I'd have no idea. But now that so many of my friends come from different towns in Monmouth County, I can basically label every town on a map. The lab skills you will learn in Biology, Research, and Biotech Lab Skills will put you way ahead of the game if you're interested in working/interning as a lab assistant in the future. Also, people you meet will automatically consider you highly intelligent when you tell them you go to Biotech; that's always a plus!”


“We have a great facility, amazing teachers, extremely intelligent and hard working people, and overall an environment that promotes academic pursuit and success. We have a lot of very cool scientific equipment that other schools do not, thus giving us a deeper and more comprehensive education in the STEM fields.”



What are the disadvantages of going to our school?

“Heavy workload and early start times. If you're the type of person that needs 10 hours of sleep a day, not managing your time will have drastic consequences for you.”


“There can be a lot of work that builds up, and there are periods of stress that can really test you (like when five different teachers each assign a test within the span of two or three days). On top of that, you have a large project due and  you have to study, do homework and participate in whatever other activities you're in. The key to these times is to find the calm within the storm and keep pushing through.”


“Biotech is really open to new ideas for clubs, projects, events, and more. But because it's a small school, there's only so much effort and attention to go around. On top of that, everyone here is motivated to make a positive and lasting impact on the school, leading to some competition. Both of these factors make it difficult to get ideas approved and implemented sometimes.
But, if you're persistent and your idea is truly meaningful, then the problems above shouldn't stop you from doing what you love here.”


“Students with interests in subjects other than science don't really get to excel and further their interests. We're a science school which makes sense why everything is heavily science based, but it would be nice if there were possibly electives that are non-science based to let people explore other avenues. I'm not a super a sciency person, but I still loved going to Biotech.”



As a student of Biotech, what would you recommend to the incoming freshmen?

“Do not expect to pass any exam regarding somewhat difficult topics without studying. Work hard, BUT GET SLEEP. As the year goes on, don't expect that it will get easier, because it never does. However, you become a better student in the process; if you have the motivation, you will power through and achieve what you want :)”


“Try hard! The classes are going to get MUCH more challenging to juggle Junior year and your GPA will greatly benefit in the long run from top notch freshman year grades. Also, don't stress if you feel lost in class. Everyone comes from different middle school backgrounds and different amounts of schooling, so it might not be your fault if you don't quite know what's going on. Also, don't assume you're going to get straight A's like you did in middle school. Most the kids here were straight A students in middle school, so the classes are all more challenging to even the playing field a bit. It's kind of like the SAT: it has to be super hard or else EVERYONE would get a perfect score. Also, LIVE YOUR LIFE! Don't study too long, you've got the whole next 3 years (maybe 7+ if you're going to college/post graduate studies in the future) to work hard. Everyone who goes to Biotech is a bright kid and you're probably going to turn out alright, even if you don't do well on a couple tests. Take the time to go out and make friends and socialize. It's an important part of being a kid. Don't let the academic rigor hold you back from happiness.”


“Come into Biotech prepared to work harder than you ever have before. Biotech is not an extremely hard school. If you manage your time, study for every assessment, do homework when it's assigned, and sleep well regularly, academic success in Biotech is easy to achieve. In terms of extracurriculars, get involved! There are so many different clubs and groups within our school that meet, and you should take full advantage of them. Although there can be stress and a lot of work, it's all manageable and you develop a great work ethic and unique perspective by going to this school.”


“Try different things, such as fun clubs, events and classes. Also, don't break down when you receive your first low grade; you will recover and be fine. Try to be as organized as possible and get as much sleep as possible because it's no fun pulling an all-nighter on an assignment you had 2 weeks to complete. Make sure you hang with friends and do fun activities on the weekend instead of stay home and do homework; you need to have a fun high school experience. Learn from failed tests/assignments instead of putting yourself down and don't be afraid to ask for help from teachers or find a tutor. Also befriend the teachers and try to have conversations with them because the teachers are super cool and interesting and conversations with them are probably one of the best things to have at Biotech.”


“In the coming years when you find obstacles to your desired path, use those experiences to improve yourself. Failing a test, falling behind on a project, not getting the results you want, not getting the club position you want, and not getting your project approved are all obstacles that you could very easily encounter over the next four years. If you're able to develop new studying strategies, time managements skills, and so forth, then none of your efforts will have been in vain. Make sure to take time to reflect on your experiences. Life at Biotech is all about following through.”



Is there anything you wish you had done differently freshmen year?

“I wish I had signed up for more clubs and gotten more involved in extracurriculars. Now that I'm a junior, it's difficult to find leadership positions in clubs that I haven't created a strong reputation in over the last 2.5 years. I also wish I had asked teachers for help sooner. At first, I felt really uneasy all the time because everyone seemed so smart. I felt embarrassed asking questions during class. I just let myself fall behind in class instead of asking for extra help, which ended up helping me a lot once I did ask.”


“Freshmen year is about learning who you are as a friend, student, scientist, athlete, and so on. In the past I've looked back on freshmen year and thought about what I should have done differently, but near the end of senior year everything is put into perspective. Now I look back on freshmen year and see it as a learning experience more than anything else. It's not that you *have to do this or that*. You can do whatever you'd like freshmen year as long as you leave your stigmas behind and try to get the largest range of experience possible through clubs, talking to new people, and more.”


“I would have recognized the opportunities to spend more time with my classmates. I put all of my time into making sure that I was doing well in school, and while this is definitely important too, there's a lot you can gain from your friends freshman year.”


“I wish I managed my sleep schedule and drank a lot more water (it really helps with concentration and falling asleep).”


What are some fun times you’ve had at Biotech?

“In Forensics (my junior year elective), we were doing a fingerprint analysis lab using a black dust/charcoal material to capture the print. My friends and I thought it would be funny to use the charcoal dust as face paint and drew mustaches and funny shapes on our faces. We went to wash it off in the bathroom and learned the stuff does not come off easily. So the rest of the day we had faint charcoal shaped mustaches on our faces. It was a fun day.”


“Waffle parties, the idiom game, and watching cartoons with Mr. Dannen.
When Alvin Liu played "Careless Whisper" on the saxophone in the middle of the MPR during lunch.
Making video projects with friends for biology, Spanish, Digital Literacy, and other classes.
Unofficial roast wars with Mr. Martin every class. No one wants to admit it, but efforts to weaken Mr. Martin via roast are in vain. He is too savage for such trivial matters.
Ayush U and Ayush K, the real Ayush2 battle. Always ongoing.
Mr. Shafaie, always willing to help out in class and at lunch! His Pooh bears give freshmen life.”





Biotech Students March for Science

By: Karolina Szenkiel


Biotech students at the March for Science in NYC.


Science: it’s a universally beneficial and crucial endeavor for any nation hoping to advance and make its way in the world.  Whether scientists are creating medications for diseases, monitoring climate change, or creating the technology powers our smartphones, everyone benefits from the growing pool of knowledge that science gives us.  That’s why many Americans found themselves shocked and confused when President Trump made moves to discredit climate science and cut research funding earlier in 2017.  Inspired by the Women’s March in late January, science enthusiasts began to organize and assemble a similar march to take place in Washington D.C. to protest for science backed policy.  On April 22nd, Earth Day, the March for Science took place along with 600 other sister marches globally, amassing hundreds of thousands of protesters walking in the name of science.  Some of these were Biotech students.  Given the fact that the average Biotech student will have finished six different science courses by the end of sophomore year, it’s no surprise that BTHS students flocked to march in the name of science.  Through their words, it is clear to see that Biotech students care deeply about the role of science in politics.

Sophomore Kelli Valentini went to the March for Science in New York City hoping to show her support for the prevention of climate change.  Although she does not consider herself the most politically active person, she says she felt compelled to join because, “It is imperative to support science, especially in the wake of recent efforts by the Trump Administration to ignore facts and instead favor short-term profit regarding issues like climate change.”  She strongly believes that the government should fund scientific research as well.  “The discoveries that are absolutely crucial to the betterment of society and our world as a whole would never occur without funded research. These advancements can save lives and money in the long run, with improvements in areas like medicine, energy efficiency, agriculture, and hundreds of other essential fields we typically don’t even consider.”

Sophomore Christina Noel was also proud to be at the March for Science along with other Biotech students in New York City.  “I'm so glad that I was able to be a part of this, and it was great to see so many people involved and passionate about science!”

Social media was buzzing with photos from the march too.  Photos of colorful, creative, and sometimes comical signs filled people’s dashboards and feeds.  “There was a big group of kids marching and they held signs that were cut into flowers and penguins, and they were all following an adult holding this huge butterfly, which I thought was adorable,” said Christina.  Kelli sported her own punny sign, which read “Don’t mess with our field,” along with an illustration of electrical fields, which Biotech students learn about in physics sophomore year.

“The March for Science is a celebration of science.  It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world,” proclaims the March for Science website.  Although the Trump Administration has yet to acknowledge the real dangers of scientifically proven climate change, one thing’s for sure: Biotech students will continue to champion science and fight for an administration that acknowledges climate change and other environmental issues.  

Sophomore Kelli Valentini holds her sign at the March for Science in NYC.