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North Kitsap students take bite from Big Apple

"POULSBO - Ah, New York. The streets are safe, the Statue of Liberty is small, and the celebrities are friendly and accessible. Doesn't sound right? It does to four North Kitsap High School students and one advisor who recently visited the Big Apple during a conference at Columbia University. The students were Trevor Beslanwitch, Angela Stickle, Bittina Larson, and Landon Acohido, and the teacher was Theresa Aubin-Ahrens. All five took part in a conference sponsored by the National Press Association and were there five days. Stickle and Beslanwitch will be the yearbook editors next year, while Larson and Acohido, who are both on the yearbook staff, designed a teen abstinence ad campaign that has gone on to win regional awards. The idea began when Aubin-Ahrens received a request to speak at the conference. She was asked because the NKHS yearbook staff has won top prize in the Columbia Scholastic Press Association yearbook contest five years in a row. With that kind of a resumé, the association decided that Aubin-Ahrens deserved an invitation. She and the students stayed at a hotel in Times Square. Right in Times Square. Really - you go downstairs, and there's Times Square, Beslanwitch said. There were flashing lights, craziness. It was crazy, Acohido added. All the NKHS attendees agreed that the conference was useful. Aubin-Ahrens spoke about digital camera use and the work Acohido and Larson did with their ad campaign. Acohido and Larson also made a presentation and all the students attended workshops. More than 1,700 high school students from around the country attended the conference. What we really learned, Larson said, is that Ms. Aubin-Ahrens is an advanced teacher. A lot of what they talked about was stuff she'd taught us, stuff we've touched on or learned about. It reassured us, Beslanwitch said. The students were also reassured by Times Square. Despite New York's reputation as a den of crime, Aubin-Ahrens reported that there was a cop on every street corner, going as far as to add, I felt safer in Times Square than I do in downtown Seattle. Acohido brought along enough equipment to do a documentary on Times Square, along with help from his classmates. The most memorable time, according to the group, was a walk through the famous square during St. Patrick's Day. As he worked on his documentary, Acohido asked some New Yorkers who St. Patrick was. We got some interesting answers, Larson reports. It needs to be edited, I think. The most interesting answer, Acohido said, was the person who thought St. Patrick protected sailors. The students also went to two Broadway shows; Rent, and Jane Eyre, a musical update of the Victorian novel. They traveled to the Statue of Liberty (which was smaller than expected and too crowded to go inside). They became experts on New York's unique traffic flow. There's no such thing as a lane, Beslanwitch said. As long as a car fits, it's a lane, Stickle added. It's insane. When it comes to the automobiles of New York, the students did get one typical New York welcome - they got drenched when a speeding taxicab threw a sheet of water into the sidewalk. The students also took a tour of NBC studios (and saw Saturday Night Live in rehearsals), sat in on Good Morning America, and toured the set of Nightline. I touched Tom Brokaw's desk, Acohido said. The trip was a success in all respects, Aubin-Ahrens said. The students' yearbook drew compliments, as did the posters Acohido and Larson made; several students asked for copies. It's always good when you can go to a conference and learn something, Aubin-Ahrens said. They learned they're doing things right and it will give them confidence to know that they're training kids the right way. Well, Aubin-Ahrens admitted, maybe one thing could have been better, specifically during the filming of Good Morning America. I wish Diane Sawyer had been there, she said. But those are the breaks. "

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