Flash Features: news and student achievements

PHS boys soccer coach receives national recognition


photo by Alex Moravcsik
Wayne Sutcliffe, recent recipient of the Coach of the Year Award from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, looks forward to next year’s season.

PHS boys soccer coach Wayne Sutcliffe has added his own accolade to the many successes of the team. This year, Sutcliffe was named Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, an accomplishment he attributes to the work of the athletes. “I’d say the recognition is probably given as a result of the achievements of the team,” Sutcliffe said.

The son of a physical education teacher and coach, Sutcliffe had long aspired to coach after playing himself. “In [my] mid-teens I finally decided I wanted to be a coach after I couldn’t play anymore,” Sutcliffe said. “It’s hard for everyone to zero in on a target [and] a career, and there’s all this pressure to do so … I’m just happy that it worked out for me.”

As a coach, he strives to incorporate multiple styles into his technique in order to move forward. “[My coaching style has] definitely [defined me] as a progressive new school technical coach, and someone who tries to hold on to the great lessons achieved in coaching the game from the past—a little bit of the old school but mostly new school,” Sutcliffe said. “Our goal is pretty much every year to work hard in the off-season in the weight room and throughout the summer, and then get into preseason and be in a good place.”

Because of the boys soccer team’s successful history, coaching them does come with some challenges. Established as a high-ranking New Jersey team in the mid 1990s, they have remained a strong team for a little over two decades—a tough status to maintain. Sutcliffe said, “The most difficult thing is to be able to sustain that level of success and meet the expectations of the soccer community [and] local community … it’s not easy to meet those goals every single year.”

Despite these challenges, however, coaching the team has many rewards. “For me, on a personal level, [a highlight] was when the team won the Group Three state championship in 2009 … but also coupled with that, it’s to see our players develop this passion for the game and then get better at it,” Sutcliffe said. “To help them and watch them develop as young people and go on to college, [that’s what] really equals any number of championships we’ve won, for me, to see them play.”


Students accepted to national science teams

At the beginning of May, Jasper Lee ’17 and Leo Zhao ’17 made the U.S. Biology Olympiad Team and the U.S. Physics Team respectively, passing the challenging and competitive national exams to achieve these contested spots.

photo by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Keriz/" title="View all of this person's work">"Keriz</a></span> Jasper Lee ’17 prepared extensively to gain a spot on the U.S. Biology Olympiad team.

photo by Keriz Zhang
Jasper Lee ’17 prepared extensively to gain a spot on the U.S. Biology Olympiad team.

The Science Olympiads, including biology, chemistry, and physics at PHS, are competitions in which thousands of aspiring U.S. students compete for 20 spots on the national teams. These students then undergo intensive training at the University of Maryland, where four champions move on to represent the team internationally. This year, those in biology travel to Vietnam while students in physics compete in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Inspired by his courses in school, Lee began pursuing biology and Science Olympiad early in high school. “I actually got interested in formal biology [in] freshmen year when I had my bio class with Ms. Katz,” Lee said. “I kind of had a vague interest in being a doctor before then … [but] when I had this class, Ms. Katz made me really interested.”


photo by Annie Gao
Leo Zhao ’17 put in full weekends at a time to prepare for the Physics Olympiad.

Similarly, Zhao also began Science Olympiad through another STEM field. “I found Physics Olympiad through my tutor, who was teaching me math at the time,” Zhao said. “I always liked physics more than math … I’m more interested in how the world works.”

Because of the rigorous material, participants must dedicate time to prepare for the Olympiads. “I wouldn’t say it’s too stressful. It’s just very time-consuming—roughly three hours a day and then [full weekends] for around a year,” Zhao said. “It’s basically very focused preparation for long periods of time to try and remember everything.”

Moreover, students in Science Olympiad face competition. “If you want to take Physics Olympiad, don’t take it very lightly,” Zhao said. “Work hard for it. It’s not so much that I need to do better than other people; it’s that if I get all the questions right I will 100 percent make the team.”

Despite this, participation in the Olympiads has been rewarding for those like Lee, who would like to pursue scientific careers. “I want to major out of [biology],” Lee said. “I’ve spent most of high school focusing on it and [my interest] just hasn’t wavered, so I definitely want to do it for a career and in college.”

Through the efforts of students, they hope to expand the Olympiad programs at PHS. “We had nine people do [Bio Olympiad] this year, and hopefully next year we’ll have more people,” Lee said. “In chemistry and physics, we always get a few people in the semifinals. I want to make biology similar, have a lot of people, and create a really strong program here.”


Envirothon team competes at state competition

On May 4, two PHS teams competed in the annual New Jersey Envirothon, a statewide competition in May sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. At PHS, the teams are led by a PHS environmental science teacher, Timothy Anderson.

Beginning in 1979, the Pennsylvania Envirothon later grew into the broader National Envirothon, encompassing teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Canada. Today, the competition focuses on several domains of environmental science, including wildlife management, aquatic ecosystems, and forestry.

Like some events in the Science Olympiad, Envirothon teams take a test to evaluate their knowledge; however, this competition features a twist. “Five [students] as a team do the test together, on a picnic table out in the sunshine,” Anderson said. “It’s not like typical test-taking … there’s … some hands-on stuff as well, which requires identifying animal hides, stuffed birds, aquatic insects, and tree species and their lumber content: a lot of identification.”

photo courtesy: Envirothon Members of the envirothon team, Auriane Benabou ’16, Amy Lin ’17, Will Parker ’16, Marie Louise James ’16, and Maggie Welch ’16, converse at the competition.

photo courtesy: Envirothon
Members of the envirothon team, Auriane Benabou ’16, Amy Lin ’17, Will Parker ’16, Marie Louise James ’16, and Maggie Welch ’16, converse at the competition.

Because Envirothon focuses on the environmental sciences, many participants have a background in this field. “Mostly for the teams I find kids who are interested in environmental science … sometimes it’s kids on the science teams who are interested in ecology or taxonomy of organisms,” Anderson said. “It’s a lot of fun … It’s another set of things to learn other than the names of musicians or sport teams—learning the names of fish is another part of the brain.”

At the end of this year, Anderson will be leaving PHS, leaving behind a burgeoning environmental science program.

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