“I have gotten the reaction before: ‘So . . . I shouldn’t commit any crimes around you.’ I’m like, ‘You're right, mostly because you shouldn’t commit crimes, but yeah, I’ll catch you, so don’t do it. I know where to look for your DNA.’”
Scaring your friends away from breaking the law is one advantage of working in forensics (forensics is using science to uncover crime)—but there are many other unusual aspects to it. For forensic DNA analyst Sarah Yearsley, the job is both exciting and intriguing. As part of her job, she is involved in everything from highly-sensitive lab work, to crime convictions, and at one point, overseas military operations. Out of graduate school, Yearsley began at the U.S. Army Defense Forensic Science Center. She spent most of her time in the U.S., processing samples from around the country and different parts of the world. But her favorite memories in that position stem from her two deployments to Afghanistan. “I absolutely love the experience of deploying,” she said. “I love living out on the base; you work 12 hours a day every day of the week.” She provided an example of what she worked with: “...someone’s attacking the base with mortars or rocket attacks and [our soldiers] find the launch site and find a cigarette butt on the ground there. They’re able to send that to us and we process it and it [matches] someone that lives in a ten-mile radius. Now we’re able to find the person who’s directly attacking U.S. soldiers and civilians.”
Though it was an intense time, Yearsley discovered that it meant a lot: “Being out there is such an awesome experience; you feel like you’re really making a difference, because you are—these guys are putting their lives on the line to collect stuff and bring it to us.
When we’re able to give them good results that can provide intel or additional leads for them, it makes a big difference.”
Landing a job back in the States, Yearsley remembers giving her first testimony in court. The case surrounded a man suspected of planting a pipe bomb on his ex-girlfriend’s doorstep, though the bomb was only detonated by the police after it was discovered, without causing any harm. Sarah and her team found the same complete DNA profile on everything—the wires, tape, box, batteries, and bag—and it matched the suspect’s. “When you have a complete profile, the statistics can be really, really high,” Yearsley explained. “The chance of finding this profile in an unrelated individual in the population is one in thirty quadrillion or something. The numbers get really, really high because DNA is so individualizing.” Yearsley testified in court, supporting the prosecution to make a very strong case. The man was convicted.
Yearsley described her role as a professional witness: “You can’t be biased as an investigator, you just give the stats as they are, and no matter what hypothetical the defense comes up with, you gotta be like, ‘Yes that’s possible, but unlikely for these reasons.’ You have to stick with the science and remain unbiased, but in this case, his DNA was all over everything.”
Media paints the field of forensics as brimming with sky-high stakes and life-and-death investigations. While this is sometimes the case, that does not always reflect the day-to-day scene of the job.
Yearsley spends most of her time in the lab, where she receives evidence, either grouped with a specific case or individual and unrelated. The evidence could be anything from firearms to arson-related weapons and explosives. She swabs the object in a high-contact area (ie. the trigger of a gun) or cuts it out and places it in a tube to process. The goal is to obtain as complete a DNA profile as possible without it being contaminated by other DNA.
“It’s grown from where you originally needed a quarter-sized spot of blood to do any sort of processing, to now, we will process a single fingerprint.” The method of processing DNA from the skin cells in a fingerprint or two is called “touch DNA,” and it means that evidence is very susceptible to contamination. “In the lab I’m like: lab coat, gloves, sleeves, another pair of gloves, I wear a mask, hair nets, and safety goggles. We look like science-y lunch ladies with our hair nets, but it works.”
Once Yearsley has a DNA profile, she writes a report, then uploads the profile to a database—in the U.S. it’s CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), which contains the DNA of anyone who has committed a crime and had their DNA processed.
To begin her career as a forensic DNA Analyst, Yearsley obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology, then her master’s in Forensic Science. However, to anyone who is interested in the field of forensics, any undergraduate science major such as biology, micro-biology, or chemistry is a good start.
Yearsley reflected, “I was very unaware [of what this job would be like] when I was in high school and I decided this was what I wanted to do, [. . . but] I’m glad I stuck with it, because I love my job.”
By Carissa Horst
As the 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, EAHS Expression asked a few knowledgeable seniors to grant some personal advice in response to a series of prompts. Answers were provided by an array of upcoming graduates, including early grads and those who chose to be a part of outside opportunities -- dual enrollment, career internship, and work experience.
What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
Don't wish high school away. Stay present in every moment: the good times and the hard times. It goes by so much faster than you think, and in the blink of an eye, you go from starting your first day of school to walking across that stage getting your diploma. Enjoy every second of freedom you have before you're forced to be an adult.” - Katie Wagner
“Just be your authentic self and you will attract the energy you want in your life!” - Briahna Williammee
What do you think you’ll miss the most from your time in high school?
“I will find that I will miss Pep Club. Being a part of a club that wants to bring more joy to the environment and school has been exciting. I have been able to make new friends, have a say in decisions, and be a part of a mural project that will help leave a mark on the school. To also have Mrs. Rohrer as a club advisor is amazing!” - Noelia Morales
What is one part of high school you want to highlight as a part of your farewell (i.e. sports, art programs, music, etc.)?
“[I would highlight] how well both our soccer team and basketball team did. Also, show out to as many sports [as] you can.” - Jakob Power
“Winning the Lancaster-Lebanon league Section Two MVP in bowling.” - Ayden Pope
If you had the opportunity to redo high school, what would you do differently and why?
“I would take the time to choose my friends based on who makes me feel valuable, but at the same time not base my self-image on other people. I would instead have more confidence in myself, and who God made me to be.” - Sophia Rajnic
“I don’t think I would do anything differently. Everything happens for a reason, and if things didn’t happen the way they did, I wouldn’t be the same as I am now!” - Briahna Willimmee
If you participated in a career internship, work experience, or dual enrollment, what did you like most about it? Would you recommend it to other students?
“Work experience gives you the time that you need to learn about the industry in the real world. I’d recommend it to those who are looking into any field that [would] need experience.” - Nicholas Halterman
“I did dual enrollment and I loved it! It gives you the chance to manage your own time in preparation for college, and [it] gives you a sense of freedom.” - Sophia Rajnic
“I had a teaching internship . . . It really helped me [to] decide what I wanted to do in the future career-wise, so I would definitely recommend doing an internship to anyone who wants to explore potential career paths.” - Katie Wagner
By Carolyn Ulsh and Rose Manton
Andrew Scott Bell is a composer, writing original music for shows, including NBC’s Home Sweet Home, and films, including Lifetime’s Psycho Storm Chaser.
When Bell takes on a project, he first meets with the director and reviews the fully-edited film, a state called picture lock. As they go through the film, the director explains where the music will come in and what mood it should convey. This process is called a spotting session and will usually take one to two days. After Bell feels he has enough notes to perfectly capture the director's idea, he begins to compose the music. Once he is finished, he will send it back to the producer and await a confirmation or notes for changes. This part of the process can be stressful because of the possibility that he and the director are not on the same page, and he wasted his time on the wrong idea.
Bell avoids this scenario by taking many notes and asking questions during the spotting session. The approved music is then sent to an orchestrator and orchestra, who perform and record the music. Bell will be on a call with the orchestra during the recording so he can provide critiques and ensure the final version sounds right. From there, it is mixed and put into the film.
Bell’s favorite part of his job is the collaboration; he enjoys making new and original music with someone else. As he’s grown in the industry, he’s experienced more and more success, working on a variety of projects ranging in size and scope. In 2009, however, when he saw his name in the credits of a film for the first time, he remembers telling himself, “Make sure you don’t get used to this.”
One of Bell’s most memorable projects was the anthology film Deathcember, which was produced using multiple directors and composers worldwide. The lead producers were so impressed with his work in one of the pieces that they hired him to compose the main theme. An orchestra in Budapest played his work as he watched over Skype. Watching 80 people play the music he composed was an incredible experience, Bell reflected. Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Bell scored a student film titled Rocket, which went on to win a 2016 Student Academy Award, a student-submissions subdivision of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Past student winners have gone on to earn dozens of Academy Award nominations and 11 wins, so Bell feels very grateful to have been a part of the film.
To a student interested in being a film composer, “Just start,” says Bell. There are many free programs available that can be used on almost any computer. Bell reminds himself and others that “the active verb for music is to play:” enjoy practicing, experimenting, and finding your voice as a musician. There is no shortage of media that needs to be composed. Bell encourages young composers to find people around them making movies and offer to compose them.
By Lillia Alvarez
Martial arts aren’t only about fighting. Just ask Chris George, owner of Fighting Dragons, a martial arts school located here in Elizabethtown. “We want [our students] to have respect and self-confidence,” says George. Classes in Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Core-to-Force, Pound, Zumba, MMA, Aerial Yoga, W.A.V.E., and gymnastics take place in an environment George says also instills Fighting Dragon’s core values: courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance, and indomitable spirit.
George’s attitude impacts the whole building. Kayla Firestone continues to teach at Fighting Dragons “because of the environment this particular gym seems to nurture.” Instructor Randy Kuhn appreciates that he can still learn while he teaches. “Through instructing I am becoming a better martial artist,” Kuhn says. Roger Engle chose martial arts when he was young and picked on in school. Then, he was in a bike accident. “I felt I was out of shape. I enrolled in my friend’s martial arts school, and we started together. He stayed for a couple of months, but I loved it, and by six months, I [knew] I was going to be an instructor and start my own school. Within a year after [the place where I trained] closed down, I [was running] a karate school. I loved it.”
Classes often start with stretching and warm ups, then proceed into technique instruction. Staff develop plans for each class based on Fighting Dragon’s curriculum. “What we do well is blending traditional techniques with a practical approach to self defense,” says Firestone.
“I am very proud of the staff,” George says. “I think we are more of a martial family than a school.”
By Makenzi McFeaters
Photo credit: Makenzi McFeaters
2021 was a fantastic year for films, as the stark competition in this year’s Academy Awards proved. Hosted by Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, and Amy Schumer, this prestigious awards show was certainly memorable.
The show began with Ariana DeBose winning her first Oscar for her role as Anita in West Side Story. This comes exactly sixty years after Rita Moreno won Best Supporting Actress for the same role in the original film. DeBose was the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar for acting. Another historic win came for Tony Kotsur, who won Best Supporting Actor. He played Frank Rossi in Apple TV’s CODA. Kotsur is the first deaf man and second deaf actor to receive an Academy Award for acting.
Dune proved to be the most successful in terms of numbers, taking home six awards for cinematography, original score, sound, film editing, production design, and visual effects. This came as no surprise considering that Dune has been praised for these very accomplishments throughout the awards season. Cruella took home the award for Best Costume Design for work done by Jenny Beavan, while Best Makeup and Hairstyling went to The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
After being pushed to popularity by its catchy soundtrack and emotional story, Disney’s Encanto won Best Animated Feature. Belfast won for original screenplay, while CODA took the award for adapted screenplay. There was much competition for original song, including songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Beyoncé, Van Morrison, and Diane Warren. However, the award went to Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell for No Time to Die, from the film of the same name.
Drive My Car took International Film Feature, which is no surprise considering the film also got a nod for best picture. Best Documentary went to Summer of Soul (Or When the Revolution Could Not be Televised).
Best Actor went to Will Smith for his role in King Richard as the father of Venus and Serena Williams. His tearful acceptance came only minutes after he stormed the stage to slap Chris Rock. This year provided no shortage of strong candidates for Best Actress, including Kristen Stewart, Olivia Colman, Nicole Kidman, and Penelope Cruz. The competitive race came to an end with Jessica Chastain’s win for The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
Best Director went to Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog, making this the second year in a row that a woman has won this category, and making Campion only the third woman to win a best directing Oscar.
Finally, the most anticipated award of the night, Best Picture. The nominees were The Power of the Dog, Drive My Car, Dune, King Richard, Belfast, CODA, West Side Story, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza, and Nightmare Alley. The award went to CODA, a film detailing the struggles of a child of deaf parents who wishes to pursue music, in a huge win for the deaf community, as well as families everywhere. It is a story about resilience and an ode to the art of music, a fitting choice for this year’s Academy Awards.
By: Julia Laszakovits
Since 2005, local dance studio e-dance has put on an annual recital at the end of the school year showcasing their students. This year, the talent of dancers from all around Lancaster County will be on display June 11th and 12th at the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center at Elizabethtown College. Dancers of all ages will perform a wide variety of styles: hip-hop, tap, broadway tap, musical theater, pointe, ballet, lyrical, jazz, and modern. Dancers will also perform to a variety of songs, ranging from Latin chart-toppers like “Gasolina” to broadway hits like “America,” heard in West Side Story.
If you love dance, you can support the studio and the many E-town students who dance there by buying a ticket to a show that represents their year of hard work. Tickets will be available for purchase at e-dancecenter.com starting May 7th. If you want to join in on the fun, browse the website for classes you might be interested in taking yourself; summer classes are open for registration through June 1st. Take the opportunity to make new friends, get exercise, or sweat away any worries you may have. Dance offers a sense of catharsis; it’s a way to relieve stress, keeping you mentally and physically healthy. The experienced instructors and teacher assistants at e-dance have helped their students grow as dancers and move on to big things following their high school careers.
Whether you take class yourself or buy a ticket to see those who worked hard in their classes, e-dance is ready to welcome you.
By Meadow Winters
Mrs. Dalemar joined Elizabethtown Area High School for the 2021-2022 school year as a world language teacher teaching French in the middle and high schools. She has had a long and varied educational journey since she earned her degree in French from Temple University. While in college, Mrs. Dalemar spent a semester studying abroad at the University of Nantes. She received her teaching certification from Millersville University, and she is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Middlebury College. Mrs. Dalemar hopes to grow the French program in her time at Elizabethtown and incorporate a trip abroad. In her free time, she enjoys binging on Netflix, crochet/cross-stitch, and playing the piano. If she were not a teacher, she would be a professional traveler, blogger, or TikTok star. We wish the best for Mrs. Dalemar at Elizabethtown.
By: Selina Tang