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Teacher Spotlight - Dr. Unger 






Dr. Nikolaus Unger is a history teacher at Preston High School who has been teaching sophomores, juniors, and seniors for the past 10 years.  

He teaches not only regents, honors, AP, and senior elective courses, but also serves as the moderator of the National Honor Society. This society promotes student leadership and service throughout the Preston community. Through NHS he works with students to create projects that will have a positive impact and inspire the student body to become the generation that achieves their goals and aspirations while becoming independent women of the future.


Interviewer: What lead you to come up with the Peer Compliment Box/Mirror Project?

Dr. Unger: At the beginning of the school year, a meeting with all of the teachers and student council leaders was held. During this meeting, the principal, Mrs.Grendell, encouraged us to think about different ways to improve the school culture. I also looked at a gender equality study that’s used for my Women’s History class and learned that women often check their appearance mainly to see how other people will look at them. I thought that perhaps there could be a project that could help people feel better about themselves. I also discussed with students about adjectives that make them feel good and created the mirror. Some other students came up with the idea of the Peer Compliment Box and decided to put that together as well.


Interviewer: Who helped you bring this idea to life?

Dr. Unger: Many different people helped us including NHS members and sophomores.


Interviewer: How long did it take to create these projects?

Dr. Unger: The ideas took a week or two, but it took about 10 hours in total to physically make them.


Interviewer: How do you think these projects will benefit Preston as a community?

Dr. Unger: I’ve seen it impact Preston immediately. Many people use the mirror, not only to feel good about themselves but also to avoid running into people turning down the hallway which was an unexpected bonus. 


Interviewer: What is your overall view on the project and do you have any new projects in the works?

Dr. Unger: I’m really proud of the way everything turned out and the positive effect it has had on the students. I do have a project that I am working on right now which will be out in due time. Mainly the whole idea is to make Preston more positive and in the process more beautiful every day.

Writer: Taylor McPartland

Photographer: Briana Hall

Two Pens on Notebook

Student Spotlight

Catrina Porter




Preston’s National English Honor Society recently hosted an essay contest based on a picture from one of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories.  The winner was freshmen Catrina Porter. 

Recently we interviewed Catrina about her essay, here is what she said:


Interviewer: What inspired you to write the story the way you did?

Catrina: “The picture inspired me to want to make the person in the window a villain. I thought I could make the antagonist creepy and make the story scary. Also, I wanted to include a small amount of dialogue.” 


Interviewer: Can you give a brief summary of your essay?

Catrina: “‘Witch Way Did He Go?’ is about a group of siblings and their one friend who goes on an adventure. They discover a witch living in their town, and decide to go on a mission to defeat her and keep everyone safe.”


Interviewer: After you submitted your essay, did you want to change anything?  If not, if you had the chance to change something would you? And if you do, what would it be?

Catrina: “After submitting the story, I realized there were a few things I could’ve changed to make the story better. For example, looking back, I would’ve wanted to make the story more descriptive by adding more details, especially regarding the setting. I think more details could have improved the overall story. Thank you for this opportunity!”

Writer: Briana Schroeder


Maria Terzulli

Miss Columbus




A time-honored tradition, the Columbus Day Parade, holds a special place in the hearts of the Throggs Neck community. 

Its annual dinner is one that unites leading figures in the community and 

introduces the upstanding young woman that is Miss Columbus. In the past, Preston has had its fair share of winners, and this year the event celebrated our very own senior Maria Terzulli, awarding her the Generoso Pope college scholarship. During our recent interview, I had the chance to speak with her about what Miss Columbus means to her and the process it took to get there. As we discussed the award, the influence her family and faculty members had in the process, and her ties to her heritage, the following questions simply scratch the surface of the pride and dignity Terzulli addressed this role with.


Interviewer: How does it feel to be the recipient of such an award? 

Maria: “ It’s definitely the biggest honor I’ve received so far. I always considered being honored in such a grand way foreign, but I’m really happy I got to experience it for myself. There were so many qualified candidates, so I’m just glad I got to be among them and share my experience.”


Interviewer: Did you feel a sense of pride in representing your community? 

Maria: “ I definitely did. My grandparents and parents really worked to give me experiences like these, so I’m grateful I could make their sacrifices worth it. I’m really a product of my family’s way of life, and I’m glad I could share that with those who aren’t Italian in a positive way.” 


Apart from speaking with Miss Columbus herself, I also had the chance to talk to Ms. DeMaio, whom Terzulli describes as essential to helping her with this process. She supported and motivated her, filling her in on all the necessary academic requirements. Ms. DeMaio helped Maria see this honor as more about serving the community than about beating the competition.


Interviewer: Describe the process behind this experience. Was it challenging? How so? 

Maria: “ I was initially encouraged by Ms. DeMaio to apply for this scholarship. I actually wasn’t going to, because I felt there were better candidates than me, but she really persuaded me to. Ms. DeMaio is really a blessing. The written application focused on my grades and heritage, and how they played a role in my life. The interview process was more challenging because it’s not always easy to talk about yourself on the spot. The committee did a very good job of asking questions that were thoughtful and relevant. I was nervous about not sounding confident in my experiences because deep down I was and am. I owe a huge thanks to Ms. DeMaio because she helped me put together my paperwork and essay. She made this process a hundred times easier for me. Overall, I’m happy I went through it because I know this experience will benefit me in the future.” 

Interviewer: How did winning this award and earning this scholarship strengthen the connection you have with your heritage?

Maria: “ Most of all, I think it allowed me to show others I was connected to my heritage, because I feel I always have been. However, I was introduced to many members of the community I had never met before, including our representatives, so I’m really honored I had this opportunity. I felt like I was learning more about where I come from, community-wise, by meeting others that share both similar and different beliefs. I feel closer to the people around me and happy that I can claim my heritage openly.”


Overall, as Preston’s Miss Columbus this year, Terzulli’s sense of service and leadership were what really shined as she spoke about the connection she has to her culture. Her example of personal achievement and representation of her heritage was also the highlight of what she brought to being Miss Columbus, and I hope the entire Preston community finds this as inspirational as I do.

Writer: Nicole Perez