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Rocketry Club Shoots for the Stars, While Local Groups Pay It Forward

West Essex students take part in rocketry challenge, Stop and Shop donates to locals, and cub scouts serve up spaghetti.

It is Rocket Science!

The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the rockets were launching in Mountain Avenue Park, North Caldwell, when a team of  students and their instructor/advisor set out to qualify for the 2011 Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC).  

After months of preparation, the West Essex team of Emmanuel Douranakis, Brian Dusinberre, Ryan Heinz, Matthew Innarone, Anthony Intintola, David Jesch, Dorian Mock, Michael Spano, Michael Stefano, Mark Traverso, and Travis Trent, with advisor and teacher Richard Bettini, headed to the park on Mountain Ave., North Caldwell, to meet official TARC mentor and rocket enthusiast Hose Andrade-Cora. Six of the team members attended the launching, each with their personally designed and built rocket. 

To compete in TARC, teams follow a strict set of rules and guidelines, with a deviation from any one of the requirements resulting in an automatic disqualification. For example, the rockets may be any size, but cannot weigh more than 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds), cannot be made from a commercial kit, and must have an altimeter to measure the altitude of the rocket at its highest point. To qualify, a rocket must reach an altitude of 750 feet, carry and safely return a large egg with parachute, and return to the ground in 45 seconds. Each team is given only two chances to qualify.

After qualifying, TARC representatives review the results for rockets from teams throughout the U.S., comparing the altitude, time and safety results. The 100 rockets with results closest to the actual specification numbers are entered into the final TARC Challenge held on May 14 in Virginia. Last year's TARC winners hailed from Penn Manor High School, P.A., and met President Barack Obama, while exhibiting their champion rocket at the White House Science Fair.

Although the West Essex team launched several test runs, including a flawless test of Mock’s yellow, red and black rocket, it was unable to meet the requirements within the two qualifying trials, reaching a maximum altitude of just 349 feet versus the 750 required. 

“We worked hard, but this is our first year trying to qualify for TARC, and we just didn’t make it work,” said Bettin.

In the meantime, the club members will go back to the drawing board, preparing for next year’s qualifying round. Added Bettin, “There’s always next year.”     

For more information on TARC, visit their website.

Paying It Forward

When , West Caldwell, donated money to the  for their outreach programs, little did they know their efforts would help things very close to home. After receiving the check for $1,150.20 from Stop and Shop, the United Methodist Church in Caldwell returned to the store to purchase gift cards and donate the cards to the , helping local families within their new hometown and beyond. Maria Burak, Director of the Caldwell Food Pantry accepted the donation from the church, and can now pay it forward one more time, distributing the cards to local families in need. 

Something for Nothing

The new guys in town are offering something for nothing to local residents. , is holding a series of free information sessions presented by owner, Dr. Geno Mayes, in his clinic. The interactive sessions will cover some of the most common orthopedic challenges including hip/knee replacement, back pain, and injury prevention. The sessions start Saturday, March 26, with Considering a Hip or Knee Replacement? from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Future sessions include A Healthy Back for All Ages on Tuesday, April 19, 7:30 to 8 p.m., and Injury Prevention Secrets for Runners on Saturday, May 7, from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

“Educating the community about health and wellness is an important part of my mission,” said Dr. Mayes. “My goal is to provide personalized healthcare where the patient comes first.” 

To attend one or more sessions, or for more information on , contact livewell@ironpt.com or call 973-228-3708. 

Dinner and ….

Looking for a casual, inexpensive dinner out? Like to do things that help the young people of our towns? Consider stopping by the Cub Scouts of Pack 9’s pasta dinner. On Saturday, March 26, from 4 to 8 p.m., the scouts will serve pasta, meatballs, salad, bread, dessert and beverages at the . Adult meals are $7 per person in advance or $8 at door. Children 10 and under are $4 in advance and $5 at door, and senior citizens are $5 each. For more information, contact Marlene Farnese, 16 Francis Place, Caldwell.

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