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Jill Treacy

Erica DePalo accused in school sex scandal

The former “Teacher of the Year” reportedly had a sexual relationship with her student.


Irony unfolded as Erica DePalo, named the 2011 Essex County, N.J. “Teacher of the Year,” was arrested last Friday after allegations of a sexual relationship with her 15-year-old male student came to light.

The 33-year-old Erica DePalo is accused of a predatory relationship with one of her advanced English students that reportedly dated from June 15 of this year to last Friday, according to the Huffington Post. DePalo, of Monteclair, N.J., was charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault as well as endangering the welfare of a child, and the West Orange Public School district has suspended her “immediately and indefinitely.” Her bail is set at $100,000.

DePalo, also the junior varsity tennis coach at West Orange, is yet another teacher in a recent and surprisingly long string of educators accused of having sexual relationships with students.

As the 2011 Teacher of the Year, Erica DePalo described herself as “merely a representative of all the hardworking dedicated teachers, especially those with whom I work at West Orange High School … teachers who are committed to their students, who consistently advocate for their students, and who exceedingly go above and beyond their everyday duties and job descriptions.”

Students at West Orange High School were “shocked” and “surprised” at the allegations against the teacher.

Cristiano Ronaldo refuses to celebrate goals

Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo reveals “sad” feelings after game.

Cristiano Ronaldo, known for being dramatic on and off the field, has surprised the soccer world with a bizarre moroseness after what should have been an exciting 3-0 win over Granada. The Real Madrid athlete refused to celebrate either of his two goals Sunday night even though the goals placed him at 10th on Real Madrid’s all time goal-scoring list with 150 goals in just over three seasons.

The 27-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo walked off the field with a strained thigh, but he went on to shock fans when he later stated he was “sad” over a “professional issue” with the club he has been with since 2009.

“I am sad because of a professional issue and the club knows why,” he said after the game. “That’s why I didn’t celebrate the goals, because I am not happy.”

The soccer star’s agent, Jorge Mendes, claimed he was aware of the feelings towards the club, stating, “Ronaldo’s comments are based on things I am aware of and he is at liberty to divulge them if he chooses.” With this said, it would appear as though Ronaldo’s comments were premeditated, and many have called it a “coded message” to Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez. Though, what that coded message is implying is still not exactly clear.

It has been speculated that Cristiano Ronaldo is upset because of anything from a sprained thigh after the Granada game to problems with people inside the club. But while Ronaldo’s frustrations grow with Real, few expect him to leave. 

Kim Clijsters ends tennis career with a loss

Belgian tennis star Kim Clijsters says goodbye to her fans after U.S. Open.


Kim Clijsters ended her singles tennis career Wednesday with a loss in the second round of the U.S. Open to British 18 year-old Laura Robson. While this is not the first time Clijsters has planned to retire, she has said with finality that now is the perfect time in her career to retire. She first announced her retirement back in 2007 due to injuries and starting a family, but came back to the sport in 2009.  This time the retirement is her decision, on her own terms.

“This completely feels like the perfect place to retire,” Kim Clijsters emotionally told spectators in an on-court interview.  But on ending her career with a loss she says “I just wish it wasn’t today.”

Even though the loss was her final match at the U.S. Open, it certainly does not reflect much on the otherwise shining Kim Clijsters career. The tennis phenom has three U.S. Open crowns, has been ranked one of the top players in the world and has won 41 titles in her professional career. Her U.S. Open win came only a month after her return from her first retirement and with a toddler, daughter Jada, in tow.

The U.S. Open is “the place that has inspired me so much to do well and to do great things,” she said, making it a fitting tournament to end her stellar career.

Mia Love gets standing ovation for RNC speech

Congressional candidate Mia Love makes a name for herself at RNC.


Mia Love received a standing ovation after her concise and hard-hitting speech Tuesday night as the Republican National Convention kicked off. Love, current mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah and congressional candidate for Utah’s 4th District, made her way to the national stage for the first time ever and rocked the house.

As she entered the stage to Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Mia Love was welcomed by an already loud and excited crowd. The speech, deemed the next step in her “GOP rise,” highlighted Love’s dismay with Obama’s promises and his “divided nation”—what the Salt Lake Tribune called a “direct challenge” to the president.

“President Obama’s version of America is a divided one—pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed,” she said. “Mr. President, I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012.”

Drawing from the stories of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Mia Love spoke of her definition of the American Dream, saying the American story is one of people taking “small steps and giant leaps.”

“From a woman on a bus to a man with a dream and the bravery of the greatest generation, to the entrepreneurs of today,” she stated. “This is the America we know because we built it.”

Her conservative message is clear and Republicans are listening. If elected, she would be the first black, Republican woman elected to Congress. Former Republican presidential candidate and Tea Party activist Herman Cain has taken notice of the Utah mayor, also a Mormon, and is impressed with her work.

Despite her Wikipedia page being vandalized with racist and sexist comments the night after her speech, Mia Love stands strong and respected at this year’s RNC.

Giuliana Rancic welcomes a baby boy!

Giuliana Rancic and husband Bill Rancic welcomed son Edward Duke Wednesday night in Denver.


Giuliana Rancic, after battling fertility issues and breast cancer, finally welcomed new born baby boy, Edward Duke, into the world alongside husband Bill Rancic. The baby, delivered via gestational surrogate, was born at 10:12 p.m. Wednesday night in Denver, according to E! News, and the proud parents have already tweeted their excitement.

Bill announced the arrival of his son saying, “The ‘Duke’ has landed! Edward Duke Rancic was welcomed into the world last night at 7lbs 4oz. G & I feel blessed beyond words…We did it!” Giuliana was more somber, tweeting, “Bill and I are blessed beyond words to welcome Edward into our lives. Thank you so much to everyone who supported us along the way. We are so in love with the little guy already!”

This is the first child for Bill and Giuliana Rancic. While Bill was the one to cut the umbilical cord, it was Giuliana who was the first to hold the baby boy. Edward Duke has arrived at a perfect time for the couple, only a few days before their fifth anniversary and a year after Giuliana announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. With an early diagnosis and a double mastectomy, she has since recovered. 

It looks like things are turning around for Bill and Giuliana Rancic. Congrats to the new parents!

Condoleezzza Rice speech captures audience at RNC

As far as RNC GOP speakers go, Condoleezza Rice is among the most popular.


Condoleeza Rice moved audiences last night during her speech at the Republican National Convention, speaking with clarity and emotion in the political territory she has said she usually likes to stay out of. Rice took a stand in her support of Mitt Romney and his presidential campaign, and heavily criticized President Obama’s past four years without even mentioning him by name. The former Secretary of State captured her audience Wednesday night with strong and personal convictions on topics such as the global and economic crisis, her pick for the upcoming election and a memory from her childhood in “Jim Crow Birmingham.” 

Rice spoke on the necessity for the U.S. to reclaim its leadership within the American community and abroad, saying, “If we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen; No one will lead and that will foster chaos, or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum[…]We do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead—and one cannot lead from behind.” She went on to make it very clear that the Republican Party and Mitt Romney are the next step to reclaiming this position. 

As a conclusion to her well-received speech, Condoleeza Rice moved into surprising territory, possibly hinting to the idea that she could be president. 

“And on a personal note: A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham—the most segregated big city in America, “she said. “Her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant, but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, she can be President of the United States. And she becomes Secretary of State.” 

Whether or not Condoleeza Rice intends to run for president is unclear, but her popularity with the GOP, despite her past working with former president George W. Bush, and a speech that doubles as a step towards revamping the Condi image points to possibilities in the future. 

U.S. Representative and nominee of the Republican Party for Vice President Paul Ryan also spoke Wednesday night, though his remarks were somewhat shadowed by the Condoleezza Rice speech, and Mitt Romney, Republican Party Presidential nominee, is set to speak Thursday night. 

Perry Hall High School reopens day after shooting

Students at Perry Hall High School return for classes the day after a shooting.


Perry Hall High School students are back at school not even 24 hours after a shooting in the Maryland school’s cafeteria. A 15 year-old student opened fire on the first day of classes this past Monday, wounding fellow 17 year-old student Daniel Borowy. Shooter, Robert Wayne Gladden, Jr., apparently pulled the gun in the cafeteria, getting off one shot before teachers grabbed him and then another shot as the teachers reached him. The victim, a special education student, was flown to the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center, where he is still in serious condition.

The 17 year-old is not thought to have been targeted by the shooter, also a student at Perry Hall High School, said Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson at a news conference. Gladden is being charged with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Students at Perry Hall High School and community members gathered Tuesday morning before classes to link hands and pray for Borowy in wake of the tragic event. Perry Hall’s Principal Deborah Bittner has called the tragedy a “reminder of vigilance.” County and school officials have praised the teacher involved in the incident for their courageous actions and reiterated that safety is a number one priority for students and staff.

“Gun violence has no place anywhere, least of all in our nation’s schools,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in reference to the Perry Hall High School shooting. “I’d like to thank the local educators and law enforcement personnel who took action to help prevent additional students from getting hurt.”

Tropical Storm Isaac is now Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac is strengthening and on its way to New Orleans.


Hurricane Isaac is heading right for the Louisiana coast now that it has reached Category 1 hurricane status on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The tropical storm turned into a hurricane late Tuesday morning according to the National Hurricane Center, with maximum sustained speeds of 75 mph pushing it into hurricane status.

At 350 miles-wide and moving at the speed of 10 mph, according to the LA Times, Hurricane Isaac is monstrous and slow-moving. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for southeastern Louisiana and coastal Mississippi eastward to the Florida Panhandle. But New Orleans is expecting to get hit the hardest.

Even though New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “We fully expect that we will get the brunt of it” at a briefing on Tuesday, the city should stand firm against Hurricane Isaac. Preparations for the incoming hurricane include a new levee and pump station system that allows operators to remain on site during an oncoming storm. Levees have also been raised from only four feet tall to 16 feet tall, and some flood walls now stand 30 feet tall. Hopefully such preparation will prove successful when the city, warned to have six to 12 feet storm surges and 20 inch rainfalls, is hit.

President Obama warns not to “tempt fate” with the slowly approaching Hurricane Isaac in a statement made at the White House and urged residents to listen to warnings and evacuate if necessary.

Hurricane Isaac is expected to reach land along the southeastern Louisiana coast by nightfall Tuesday. 

Mars rover sends pictures and congratulations

The Mars rover Curiosity landed Aug. 5 and already has scientists excited.


The Mars rover Curiosity has NASA and researchers alike sitting on the edge of their seats as the car-sized robotic explorer traipses across Mars’ Gale Crater. The $2.5 billion NASA creation has landed on the Red Planet, playing a pre-recorded congratulatory message from NASA administrator Charlie Bolden, and already has some spectacular views to share. The mission team released a 360-degree panorama of the Mars rover Curiosity landing site, sharing images of the Gale Crater foothills and a Martian sky.

Curiosity landed Aug. 5 and will be exploring Gale Crater for the next two years, with hopes of finding signs of life on Mars. According to Fox News, the Mars rover will ultimately be exploring the base of Gale Crater’s Mount Sharp, where a Mars-orbiting spacecraft has eyed evidence of previous exposure to liquid water. Though John Grotzinger, Curiosty lead scientist, says reaching Mount Sharp is still a year away, he expressed excitement over the promising landing site.

“I think when those of us on the science team looked at this image for the first time, you get the feeling, ‘That’s what I’m talking about,” Grotzinger said, according to Fox News. “That is why we picked this landing site.”

The Mars rover Curiosity tracks have made scientists reminisce over Neil Armstrong’s memorable footprints made on the moon over 40 years ago. Neil Armstrong, who passed away last Saturday at the age of 82, and Buzz Aldrin were the first to leave human footprints (bootprints, to be exact) on the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969. The tracks of the rover are the robotic version of Armstrong and Aldrin’s groundbreaking marks and resemble the same hope of continuing exploration and discovery.

Bolden remarks, “Since the beginning of time, humankind’s curiosity has led us to constantly seek new life possibilities just beyond the horizon.” Mars rover Curiosity, appropriately named, is doing just that. 

Gabby Douglas talks of racism at ex-gym

Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas reveals rough memories at Virginia Beach gym.


Gabby Douglas, America’s Olympic sweetheart, admitted to heartache behind that big smile on the Oprah Winfrey show Oprah’s Next Chapter this past Sunday. The 16 year-old Olympic gold medalist recently returned to the US after the London Summer Olympics 2012 and while making her celebrity rounds, Douglas sat down with Oprah to discuss her rocky training past.

During the Olympic games, Gabby Douglas had admitted moving to Des Moines, Iowa only two years ago to train in Liang Chow’s gym, where Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson also trained. She claimed she was unhappy training in her gym in Virginia Beach, Va., her mom and sister have talked of how Douglas begged to move to a new facility.

But, why?

Gabby Douglas, the first African American to win the All-Around gold medal for gymnastic, revealed particularly painful memories of bullying teammates and racial slurs.

“One of my teammates was like, ‘Can you scrape the bar?’ And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’” she told Winfrey. “I definitely felt isolated, I felt ‘why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black?’”

Her mother, Natalie Hawks, remembered her daughter coming home upset over the comments, saying “She said, ‘I’d rather quit—if I can’t move and train and get another coach, I’d rather quit the sport.’”

The move to Iowa proved a good idea as Douglas went on to win two gold medals at this summer’s Olympics, one with the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Team and the other in the All-Around category.

CEO of Excalibur Gymnastics Gustavo Maure has called her comments “hurtful and without merit,” according to E! News. Maure claims of Exaclibur, Douglas’ previous training facility in Virginia Beach, that “Thousands of gymnasts and families have supported our good conduct and our professionalism the last 30 years.”

Either way, Gabby Douglas has nothing to look forward to if not a bright future following her Olympic glory.