December Club Students of the Month

January 18, 2022

Jason Feldman

Introducing Jason Feldman, a senior here at FTHS, who was selected as one of the students of the month! His dedication to the music department, specifically in band, has been remarkable throughout all of his four years in high school. His musical involvement at Freehold Township High School has also allowed his hard work, creativity, and talent to truly shine! Congratulations to Jason on this amazing achievement!

First off, I just want to say congratulations!

– Thank you!

You’re welcome! My first question for you is, why do you feel that you were picked as Student of the Month, and how did you feel when you were picked? 

– I feel that I was picked because I’ve participated in some extended opportunities within the band program, and had success there. I think that Mr. Gattsek appreciates my effort with that, which I know he did, because he told me! But, yeah, it’s pretty cool to be picked, because it’s extra recognition. Just to give specifics, I applied for the Region Band, which is kind of a high honor band that you travel down to New Providence to audition for. I actually was able to get in! 


– Thanks!

What sparked your interest in band? 

– My mother is actually a band director. 

Oh okay!

– So, I’ve grown up with music my entire life. I always knew I wanted to do band because, up until I was 10 years old, I wasn’t doing it since I was too young. And then, I got into 5th grade, and was like, “I’m totally doing this!” I started out playing percussion, and then after a couple of years, I decided to switch to playing tuba, which is what I play now. Honestly, from when I was little to now, I’ve always just been in love with band. 

Cool! Did your mom teach you to play any of the instruments you started out with? 

– Yes. So, she was actually my band director for a little bit. 


– She teaches at Eisenhower, and I went to Eisenhower. 

Me too! 

– Oh, nice!

Your mom is Mrs. Feldman? 

– Exactly! So, when I was going through middle school, she was my band director. So, I guess the answer is yes!

That’s great! Do you see this involvement in music and band being a part of your future? 

– *laughs* That’s kind of funny, because, absolutely, yes! I’m actually applying to be a music educator. 

That’s great!

– I’ve actually done one audition for college already but I have 8 more lined up. So, yeah, I really want to be playing instruments my whole life. I want to make a life in music. 

Do you have a specific college you really want to go to? 

– The only place I’ve auditioned so far is Towson University, and I have a few more. I would say the most difficult program that I’m applying to is Michigan University, because they have a really good tuba studio. 

Would you recommend being in band to any incoming freshmen or people who are thinking about joining and why? 

– I would say yes and no! I think it’s absolutely beneficial for every single type of person, but it’s the type of thing where, for some people, it’s not the right choice to fit into their life. It’s a massive time commitment. So, I think if you’re willing to alter the flow of your life, then it’s incredibly beneficial to be in band. But, you really can’t do it if it’s gonna be an “on the side, hit it once a week” type of thing, because it demands more time. But, I mean, band demanding more time among other things is why I think it’s so great. It’s really great for character building, and you’re working on a skill, so it’s just fantastic!

What do you think the most beneficial skill that you learned from being in band is? 

– I think the greatest skill that you learn is how to adapt to changes in plans. The thing is, when you go into band, there’s different “seasons,” essentially. You have marching band season, you have your concert band. But then, within yourself, if you’re going for these higher honor bands, you have to plan out how you’re going to train for those. So, you can only plan so far ahead, but, somewhere in that plan, you’re going to need to make changes along the way. The amount of times I’ve done that and seen it done with Mr. Gattsek and the musical directors we have, it’s really pretty great how you learn to deal with failure and move on and continue to push your level up. You just learn how to take a situation and always make it the best thing it can be and better yourself and reach a positive place. 

I totally understand the skill of adapting to changes since I’m a choir student myself! Concert season is always changing with schedules and rehearsals. 

– So, you were a part of the winter choir? 


– So you remember, I believe you guys were working on “Hallelujah Chorus,” and then we switched it out right near the end!

Yes, it was a last minute change, but it ended up being a great concert!

– Yeah, exactly! See, that’s the whole point!

What was your favorite piece that you played? 

– My favorite piece that I ever played is one that I’m working on right now! I never actually performed it yet, but it’s going to be one that I use when I’m auditioning for college. It’s by Vivaldi and it’s called, “Sonata No. 3 in A- Minor.” It’s originally to be played for cello, but someone adapted it for tuba, and I’m playing it!

That’s awesome! Is there any group of people or maybe teachers that contributed to your interest in band? Tell us who!

– I would say, obviously Mr. Gattsek! I’ve known him way longer than being in high school, and he’s always been around. It’s interesting because I’m actually districted for Freehold Boro High School, but because of me knowing Mr. Gattsek and how smart he is and how much I wanted to learn from him, I had the opportunity to and decided to come to school here. Specifically, to be in his band program, to be honest! I haven’t told him this, so he’ll find out, I guess! But, that’s really what it is. I also have an older sister who went through the band program, as well, and I got to watch her do it. I got to watch her throughout her performances and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I want to go there!” And then, because she was here, I got the choice: “Okay, do you want to go to Boro, or do you want to do this ‘grandfathered’ program, this sequence to go to Township?” And I thought about it a little bit, and I decided to come here! So, pretty much exclusively because of that program is why I came here, so Mr. Gattsek definitely contributed. 

That’s great how you kind of carried your family on here by taking part in the band program! If you could create and be in charge of any new club at FTHS, what would it be? 

– This is kind of out of nowhere, but it would be something martial arts related! I’ve done martial arts my whole life. I’ve trained tae- kwon- do for 15 years at this point, and I just think there’s nothing really like that here. The closest thing we have is the wrestling program, but I don’t really want it to be a sport, you know? If I were to create a tae- kwon- do program here, or any kind of general martial arts program, it wouldn’t be competition- based because I think the greatest value from training in that type of stuff is within your personal character. So, I think when you bring competition it kind of changes your ability to do that. When it’s a competition, you make it about other people in addition to yourself. I understand its place and I appreciate sports martial arts and MMA, stuff like that, but just for me, personally, competition is not what I want to get out of it. 

Do you have any passions or hobbies outside of band that you enjoy? Share your favorite one!

– Yes, I do a few things, a lot! *laughs* So, the biggest thing I do is music, of course, and then the second biggest thing is, as I said, tae- kwon- do, and I also teach tae- kwon- do. My school is called UTA, it’s in Manalapan. Through that school, I was able to be introduced to some floor gymnastics stuff, so I also do some of that. We call it “tumbling.” 

That’s awesome!

– I actually coach tumbling as well because it’s through the same organization. So, to list it, all the stuff I do: I do band, tae- kwon- do, and tumbling! Out of interest, I’m starting to get into some jujitsu, as well. 

Cool! Finally, just as a random question, what’s your favorite show? 

– Out of TV shows or marching shows? *laughs*

Either one!

– Okay, I’ll go marching show, since it’s relevant! *laughs* My favorite marching show was probably the “Harry Potter” marching show we did two years ago. I grew up with Harry Potter a lot – my family’s a bunch of nerds! We did Harry Potter World, we did all that stuff, and it was kind of a nostalgia to sprinkle in with the performance. 

That’s fun! Congratulations again on being selected!

– Thank you!

We all appreciate your commitment to the music department and band, and I’m sure Mr. Gattsek appreciates it! Thank you for letting me interview you!

– Thank you for having me!

Of course!

Here’s what Mr. Gattsek, the FTHS Band director, had to say about Jason: 

“Jason recently won his audition for Region II Band. He has been a tuba section leader for two years in our band. Jason is currently mentoring younger tuba students on a regular basis. He is a role model in our band.”

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Isabella Vitali

Isabella Vitali is a class of 2022 senior! She was awarded as December Student of the Month due to her persistent dedication to the Mysteries in Histories club. Not only is she an active member of this club, she also is the media coordinator and the podcast editor. Alongside her many responsibilities in this club, Isabella is enrolled in the Italian Honor Society, Paws for a Cause, as well as lots of outside volunteer work. Thanks to Isabella’s continuous hard work and optimism FTHS is lucky to have yet another incredible role model in the patriot family! Congratulations yet again to Isabella; applause to her for all her hard work!

Good Morning!

– Hello and good morning.

To start, congratulations on receiving this award!

– Thank you!

Just as your name was called moments ago, what was your first hand reaction to being selected as student of the month.

– I’m still in shock because my club won a student award last month so I wasn’t expecting it.

That’s so nice to hear, and congrats to the last student as well! Now, before we discuss extracurricular activities, why do you believe the FTHS staff nominated you as student of the month?

– I work really hard in my Mysteries in Histories club! I’m also involved in a few other clubs, but Mysteries is one of my main clubs. In Mysteries, I am the podcast editor, which is what I want to earn my major for in college. This is very beneficial and it really helps me become prepared! For example, during winter break, I worked on our podcast and it was one of the best ones we did so it’s just a lot of fun.

Awesome! Let’s move on to details about your club involvement! On the subject of extracurricular activities, are you enrolled in any clubs or sports? If so, can you describe your participation in each one?

– I’ve been in the yearbook club since my freshman year. I’ve also been involved in the Mysteries and Histories club since my junior year. I’m also in Paws for a cause. Along with these clubs, I’m a part of the Italian National Honor Society. Overall I just do a lot around the school, a lot of volunteer activities especially.

Wow, that’s a lot of fun activities! To continue, what would you say was your rationale towards entering the Mysteries in History club?

–  I had Mr. Grimes as my teacher in junior year and we connected really well, even despite having like a covid bearers. I wanted to start being in Mysteries actually in my freshman year, which I was going to join but I just didn’t have the time to do. Eventually when I was actually able to join, I realized that it was a fun club filled with people I could really connect with. Besides that, every topic for every meeting held is always so interesting and I’m never bored of the club.

And to further build this topic, what are some of your responsibilities as a Mysteries in History club member?

– So I actually have a principal role in the club. I’m the media coordinator which basically means I am in charge of our social media pages. I help with Club announcements, and I am in  charge of our monthly podcasts. We do a different topic every month! For example, in the month of December our club topic was that Santa is real. This included an entire conspiracy theory that Mr. Grimes made. In November we did one about the truth of Thanksgiving and I reported them with the professor and then we all liked to send them in and I added the whole thing.

It’s great to hear your dedication to this club! Now, to discuss the club a little further, what would you say is the overall motive of this club? And why do you believe it’s a good club to be a part of?

– This is a really good club because it gives you a certain view of history and kind of delve into the weirder, possibly darker side. In general, we kind of just talk and deeply discuss what you don’t learn about in your history classes. I could do the ghost of Jamestown and just kind of like the fun stuff that people are interested in. I think it’s a good club to join because honestly I just have so much fun when we’re together and there’s never a dull moment. Mr. Grimes is just so much fun to be around, he’s so funny and every club meeting is always a surprise you never know you’re walking into. 

This club sounds so fun! To continue, what types of skills or personal qualities do you believe you pertained after being a part of Mysteries in History? How do you feel these factors will impact your future?

– Definitely editing the podcast gave me a lot of insight into what I’m going to major in at college. I’m going to be a film major, so using an editing app that I’m really not familiar with is very helpful. With that, I touch a little bit on my video editing classes and the knowledge I have from that. It really furthers my knowledge on the end of the website and also tells me how to edit just audio rather than audio to video, which is going to help me tremendously with my future.

It’s awesome to hear how beneficial this club has been in your life! To further add to your club discussion, what are some of the activities that take place during your club meetings/events? 

– So every club meeting, you have a different presentation and they’re usually student-run. I did one in December about Krampus, which is kind of evil Santa and the students make a mission that’s approved by Mr Grimes. Then they talk about the entire presentation with their cited sources and it’s kind of like you’re discussing it. Also about every single meeting is a different presentation and they don’t have the following a specific order. The next presentation coming up is going to be about the Terracotta Warriors. Actually, it was kind of just what people were interested in talking about and we just talked about that part of history and you learn something new every meeting. For example, I didn’t know much about Krampus before I did the presentation and now I can say I guess I’m a little bit of an expert.

These activities sound so cool! Now, to refrain from the original topic, how do you personally manage your time between school work, clubs, and sports alongside leaving time for personal hobbies? 

– I think it’s just because I enjoy every single club I’m in so much that I make sure I put my full potential into it. I also keep time for my academics because my academics are very important to me as well as my extracurriculars. I’ve been a competitive dancer for about 15 years so while I do enjoy all my school clubs, I really do make sure I do my best at practices and go to all my club meetings because I love both so much.

That’s a very organized strategy, and it really expresses your time management skills! To close off our discussion, is there anything remaining that you would like to say to your fellow students and staff?

– Honestly if you’re thinking of joining a club for students just do it. I regret not joining my freshman year and I really wish I did because I’m having so much fun. I had so much fun this year and last year that I would have loved to do it all 4 years and if you really think about joining a  club just do it. I would like to thank all of my teachers for really pushing me and telling me to do my best.

 Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me! It was so nice talking to you. Congratulations on being the FTHS December Student of The Month! 

– Thank you so much! I enjoyed talking to you as well!

Here’s what Mr. Grimes, Mysteries in History’s advisor, had to say about Isabella:

“Isabella is our club’s Media Coordinator. Isabella has created a club Instagram account and is the editor of our podcast. She has edited two podcasts so far this year!”

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