VOLUME 3, ISSUE 2 (NOVEMBER 2005)

A HIT OR MISS SITUATION

Meagan Chen

One does not expect to see a world class performance when they frequent bowling alleys and other small venues, but it is important to remember that local musical talent ranges from exceptionally good to painfully horrible. I call this the “hit or miss situation.”

One show on October 15 at Glen Cove Lanes happened to be half-hit, and half-miss. At 6:30 P.M., I got a frantic phone call from my friend and local booker Joe Caciola, who desperately needed an extra microphone for a band whose guitarist had gone away for the weekend, taking their mic. I made the decision to go, armed with a microphone and two friends. An unusual mix of hardcore, ska-punk, pop-rock, and more hardcore, this show wasn’t exactly my goodie bag, but with the bands Far From Elysium, The Vagabonds, Meridian Drive, and Days on End, Joe Caciola had advertised this as a “good concert.”

“Good” was an overstatement.

Once paying the $12 admission fee, to be donated to DirectRelief.org, my friends and I walked into the bowling alley 20 minutes early and started bowling. We heard amazingly loud sounds (not exactly music) mixed with screaming at 8 on the dot, and assumed that the band Far From Elysium was tuning, which, unfortunately, they weren’t. I began to question whether the show was actually worth $12, as were my friends, who had traveled all the way from Brooklyn to accompany me. More attention was paid to bowling technique than to the lyrics of the songs, which were screamed in such a fashion that no one could stand within 20 feet of the amps.

After Far From Elysium’s far from good set, The Vagabonds came on. I have a particular liking for ska-punk, as it is entertaining and danceable. The 13-piece ska band from various places in Long Island was everything ska is supposed to be: a mix of reggae, jazz, and punk, with trombones and trumpets. I had no objections to them playing a 35-minute set that was at least listenable. Comparatively speaking, this band was at least 15 times better than Far From Elysium. My hopes of this turning out to be a good concert with a bad opener increased with every song The Vagabonds played. Meridian Drive were supposed to have a 40-minute set after them.

I heard a lot of buzz about Meridian Drive among my friends who are scattered throughout the Queens area, and when I saw the synthesizer being set up, I had my doubts. I began to think that this was a Motion City Soundtrack-like band with a few lyrics being changed. I took a look at the EP I had just bought for three dollars, and thought “oh no”, with song titles such as, “Sophomore Year Revisited” and “I’ll Let You Be My Navigator” raising my doubts further. My doubts were proven wrong. The band perfectly balanced pop and rock, doing what they did much better than Simple Plan or Good Charlotte, and their lyrics had some meaning. They had a stage (or bowling lane) presence that is unprecedented in any other local show I’ve been to, and they were the best band of the night. This show wouldn’t have been so bad had I not stayed for the closer, Days on End, but staying was an obligation, as I would have to give the bassist, a close friend of mine, a ride home.

Days on End is a hardcore-screamo (screaming emo) band, that loves to make their audience dizzy and excited with jumping. Minus the screaming, their stage presence wasn’t too unbearable. Hardcore, in case no one could tell by now, isn’t one of my favorite genres of music. I listened to the band, just for moral support, but walked away when I realized that they had fans who were wearing tiered skirts and tight shirts, in typical Long Island fashion. If hardcore is the “scene” now, what do I have left in life to look forward to?

Overall, this show wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, but I still had a fun time dancing and bowling simultaneously. While some bowling alley shows are amazing, others absolutely unbearable, and others half-and-half, I found this one to be the latter. I stayed through all the sets, and while I didn’t feel the urge to call someone for a ride home after the first set, I think that staying was a good decision. DirectRelief aside, the show was not worth the $12 I spent, nor was it worth a lost microphone that was never returned.

 

 

EDITORIAL: LIFE DESIGN

John Loonam

When a horse-drawn carriage pulled onto the stage during the Christian Dior Fall 2005 couture fashion show, it may have shocked a few people. One thing is for certain: although the dresses replicated from 19th Century styles may have been original on designer John Galliano’s part, they weren’t confusing. Every designer in the fashion industry has been taking steps toward more conservative styles for their latest displays. So watching a ghost-like figure straight from the 1800s walk down the runway may have been just what everyone expected from Christian Dior and its eclectic designer.

The part that is hard to understand is this. Why is fashion getting progressively more conservative, and what does it mean about us? Fashion has often been seen as a reflection of our culture and our time. But do longer skirts and oversized trench coats mean we as a culture or society are getting more conservative? The fact is fashion has decided to cover it all up, all across the board. During the Akris show, by Albert Kriemler, models were covered almost from head to toe. Alexander McQueen did an entire show reminiscent of fashions that seem almost ancient to modern eyes.

McQueen decorated the runway with Alfred Hitchcock movie posters, and showed off suits that would have appealed to grandma. Alexander McQueen made clear that he was headed in the same conservative direction as everyone else. But the conservative trends are not reserved for people interested in tweeds. The design group As Four displayed pieces as equally concealing as McQueen or Galliano. Gloves were another important accessory for Fall. Rochas, by Oliver Theyskens, showed off the cream-colored gloves more prominently then the dresses themselves. And when the models weren’t wearing gloves, they wore long sleeves and high collars to go with the evening gowns.

Some designers went to more intense extremes than Galliano and McQueen. The design duo Viktor & Rolf actually wrapped their models in bed sheets and comforters, and strapped pillows to the back of their heads. One can only imagine that the models were suffocating in these constrictive outfits, which is most likely the way Viktor & Rolf wanted it. Some other designers were inspired by other things besides tweeds and bed bugs. Both Donna Karan and Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garcons) seemed to take inspiration from religious icons. Some designers even prominently displayed religious symbols as decoration for their shows. And then some designers simply took the elegant but simple approach, like Kenneth Cole.

So what does all of this mean? Are lace gloves and traditional handbags signs of the liberal world’s impending doom? Does the end of the miniskirt correspond with the end of legalized abortion? No more see-through blouses, no more social security? On the topic of whether or not we’re all wearing Republican propaganda to school, one student had this much to say. “I think that more conservative fashion is more stylish, and looks better. But I’m not sure if we’re subconsciously inclined to wear more conservative clothes because we’re becoming more conservative.”

But can fashion be that dangerous? Does wearing more conservative clothes mean we are more conservative, or does it just point to the social conditions that designers are inspired by? Not everyone who adopted a “grunge” style in the 90s stopped taking showers, not everyone who’s worn military camouflage has been in the army, and not everyone who took inspiration from ”space age” looks has walked on the moon.

When it comes to today’s fashion trends, one student put it perfectly. “Designers are getting more conservative because it’s something different, it hasn’t been done in a while.”

 

 

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE FOR LUNCH TODAY?

Rozan Abdulrahman

Chinese food? Papa Johns pizza? A chicken sandwich? The choices we have for lunch have grown dramatically this year. Along with the Year 1 and Year 2 students, the tenth graders now have the privilege to leave the building for lunch. The result is, when lunchtime comes around, flocks of friends waiting for one another, crowding the school’s front entrance. Lunch has become a time for school-wide socializing and the one chance in the day to get much needed fresh air.

The journey to lunch is made convenient by the proximity of local food chains; New Chinatown is located at 11 Avenue D, Royal Fried Chicken is right next door to the Chinese food place, and Papa Johns pizza shop is only one block further away. Groups of BHSEC students often crowd these places, providing much needed business for these establishments. Not only are the store owners delighted with the young customers, but they often befriend them. The storeowners have become a part of the BHSEC culture due to the service and companionship they provide. Yet one important question remains: How is the service?

“The Chinese place is slow,” says one tenth grader who complained that “It takes them too long to cook the simplest order.” Considering the crowds of customers that appear each day to but this affordable food, the slow service is tolerated and even expected. On the other hand, BHSEC students unanimously agree that the service at the Royal Fried Chicken store is fast. Papa Johns appears to stick by its motto: “At Papa Johns, we’re committed to quality.” They are most popular for their speedy service.

A survey of BHSEC students reveals that many of the choices as to where to eat are made on the basis of cost. The expensive places are not very popular amongst the students, whereas the more affordable ones, such as New Chinatown, where an order of beef and broccoli with a side order of white rice only cost $4.75, are most frequently visited. Yet regardless of how cheap the meals are, this system of take out has its downside too.

Eating fast food day after day, BHSEC students are being put at risk for obesity and heart problems. Especially problematic is the fact that among the favorites of BHSEC students is fried chicken, the leading cause of clogged arteries. Therefore, as we satisfy our cravings and take advantage of our newly granted freedom, we must be careful. Perhaps these fast food chains are just a little too convenient.

 

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. CLARK

Rebekah Meltzer

Q: When did you first become interested in Latin?

A: In high school. I always thought Latin was interesting and mysterious, and it had lots of images of medieval monks and things like that. And Greek and Roman mythology–I was really into that when I was a small kid.

Q: How many years do you think it takes most people, to get comfortable reading Latin?

A: By the end of the first year of college, you can read texts on your own. The problem then is just increasing your speed, and that increases the more you read. The more you read the faster it gets.

Q: What do you think are the advantages of learning Latin? Because many people say it’s a dead language, so what’s the point?

A: Yeah, if your idea of learning a language is to go to Cabo San Lucas and be able to order food in Spanish then you definitely aren’t going to learn Latin, so I think it’s what you want in another language. The literature in all the languages at BHSEC (Chinese, Spanish, and Latin) is amazing, and that’s kind of my focus, reading the text. For a long time in European culture the classics were the foundation–that’s what literature was based on–so in order to be able to appreciate and understand even contemporary texts you have to have the basics. And there’s just a pleasure in the language, I think. It’s really interesting, and its really beautiful. The cool thing about all languages, especially a dead language, one that’s ancient (this sounds really corny) is when you’re reading an ancient text you are able to communicate with people that have been dead for 2000 years and there’s a thrill in doing that. With Latin you’re not just learning about a different culture, but one that hasn’t been around for 2000 years. It’s the past that people take for granted. So when you study an ancient language and the ancient literature, you kind of understand that there are some things in the past that actually may have been better than the things we have now.

Q: Is there a grammatical aspect that you like about Latin?

A: Well it’s really affected my writing. It’s made me a sharper reader. Something I’ve mentioned before is that one of the effects that you don’t get immediately but you kind of realize later in life, is that it makes you very detail oriented. So it makes your writing better. It also makes you a more critical reader, because to read Latin or Greek is a very slow process. It definitely helps your English grammar and your English vocabulary.

Q: So I wanted to know, what do you think are some of the challenges of teaching Latin?

A: Well at this school, you have to have high expectations, because you have to get the kids ready for college level Latin in what would be 11th grade, but on the other hand, you don’t want to kill the kids, and you want to keep it interesting. So the challenge of being a good Latin teacher is, you’ve got to get the work done, but you’ve got to know when to have a break and just have fun and talk about gods and goddesses. That way the kids remember that they didn’t take Latin just so they could go ‘amo, amas, amare.’

Q: What would you hope for a student, once they’ve taken the full Latin course, to be able to do?

A: I’d like them to be able to read Virgil, or Catullus, or Cicero and understand it to a certain extent. It’s still going to be hard. Those are all hard authors, but they’re worthwhile. There’s a reason they’re still around. Someone like Cicero, even though he’s not as fun as a Latin love poem–the effect of his writing is still going on. I would hope that kids would have learned enough about Latin so that if in college, they really wanted to take a Latin class, they would be prepared to do that. Also, one of the reasons some of the kids take Latin, is that they’re interested in romance languages, and they know that the grammar will be a cinch after Latin. And it is–I can vouch for that. My pronunciation of Spanish and French is criminally bad, but the grammar is no problem. So if you’re into Italian, French, Portuguese, or Spanish, and you’ve gone through the two and a half years of Latin here, it’s going to be so easy for you to pick up those languages. Not in terms of pronunciation, but the grammar, it’s going to be a cinch.

Q: So do a lot of politicians take their speeches from classics?

A: They used to. Not that much anymore, but even those who don’t study classics were often influenced by them, like Martin Luther King’s speeches, for instance. A lot of his rhythms and a lot of the rhetorical devices he uses, come from preaching in the church. But preaching in the Christian church was ultimately based on the rhetoric of the Greeks and Romans. So there’s this conduit, all through Western history which is really interesting.

 

 

STUDENT PROFILE: PENELOPE STRAUSS

Sarah Marlow

Most students at BHSEC realize that our school is very different from other high schools (both public and private) in New York and the rest of the U.S. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why some students decide to attend BHSEC. But just how many people have ever taken the time to consider how BHSEC weighs in on an international scale? I talked to BHSEC sophomore Penelope Strauss, who previously attended school in the Western Australian city of Perth, for her take on the matter.

Our school day is obviously structured differently than “normal” school days (e.g., free periods) not only in comparison with other U.S. schools but with schools in Perth as well. Strauss says that instead of frees there are study periods complete with teacher supervision. She also says that in addition to lunch, schools in Perth also have morning and afternoon recesses.

Another point of difference, Penelope notes, between Bard and schools in Perth is their emphasis on different fields. Although she says that the schools she attended had a stronger focus on math and the sciences than the liberal arts, she stresses that schools in Perth cannot be generalized, as they all have different agendas. As with high schools in New York, Penelope says that “there’s a huge variation of quality between them.” As to which school functions better, she simply says, “It depends on what you’re planning on doing with the education.”

Another aspect of BHSEC that differs from other schools, nationally and internationally, is the unique student-teacher relationships we have here. “The teacher-student relationship is way more relaxed over here,” Penelope says. She adds that at BHSEC, “students feel comfortable talking with their teachers, instead of just sitting there feeling too embarrassed to go up to them.” This helps the student body flourish academically because they can ask for help without hesitation.

While students at BHSEC are hardly sports crazed–many of us even question how sports, mascots, cheerleaders, and spirit days contribute to school spirit–in Perth, sports are an integral part of school life and culture. “It’s compulsory,” Penelope explains, “a lot more people are involved in sports over there, so there’s a lot more competition between schools.” This creates “a need for more school spirit.”

Penelope notes that the school day is relatively the same length in Perth as it is here, but it varies, depending on the school. She also says that she can’t be exactly sure if the workload is the same in Perth, because she went to school there two years ago. However, she did say that her friends in Perth mentioned that they had a lot more work this year than in previous years.

There you have it. BHSEC differs from Australian schools in the exact ways it differs from American schools, but perhaps it’s better to look at the similarities, to put a positive spin on things. No matter where we go to school, be it in Tokyo or Los Angeles, Perth or New York, we’re all basically the same: dealing with the pressures of school assignments, friends, extra-curricular activities and college applications.

 

 

LIFE DESIGN

John Loonam

When a horse-drawn carriage pulled onto the stage during the Christian Dior Fall 2005 couture fashion show, it may have shocked a few people. One thing is for certain: although the dresses replicated from 19th Century styles may have been original on designer John Galliano’s part, they weren’t confusing. Every designer in the fashion industry has been taking steps toward more conservative styles for their latest displays. So watching a ghost-like figure straight from the 1800s walk down the runway may have been just what everyone expected from Christian Dior and its eclectic designer.

The part that is hard to understand is this. Why is fashion getting progressively more conservative, and what does it mean about us? Fashion has often been seen as a reflection of our culture and our time. But do longer skirts and oversized trench coats mean we as a culture or society are getting more conservative? The fact is fashion has decided to cover it all up, all across the board. During the Akris show, by Albert Kriemler, models were covered almost from head to toe. Alexander McQueen did an entire show reminiscent of fashions that seem almost ancient to modern eyes.

McQueen decorated the runway with Alfred Hitchcock movie posters, and showed off suits that would have appealed to grandma. Alexander McQueen made clear that he was headed in the same conservative direction as everyone else. But the conservative trends are not reserved for people interested in tweeds. The design group As Four displayed pieces as equally concealing as McQueen or Galliano. Gloves were another important accessory for Fall. Rochas, by Oliver Theyskens, showed off the cream-colored gloves more prominently then the dresses themselves. And when the models weren’t wearing gloves, they wore long sleeves and high collars to go with the evening gowns.

Some designers went to more intense extremes than Galliano and McQueen. The design duo Viktor & Rolf actually wrapped their models in bed sheets and comforters, and strapped pillows to the back of their heads. One can only imagine that the models were suffocating in these constrictive outfits, which is most likely the way Viktor & Rolf wanted it. Some other designers were inspired by other things besides tweeds and bed bugs. Both Donna Karan and Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garcons) seemed to take inspiration from religious icons. Some designers even prominently displayed religious symbols as decoration for their shows. And then some designers simply took the elegant but simple approach, like Kenneth Cole.

So what does all of this mean? Are lace gloves and traditional handbags signs of the liberal world’s impending doom? Does the end of the miniskirt correspond with the end of legalized abortion? No more see-through blouses, no more social security? On the topic of whether or not we’re all wearing Republican propaganda to school, one student had this much to say. “I think that more conservative fashion is more stylish, and looks better. But I’m not sure if we’re subconsciously inclined to wear more conservative clothes because we’re becoming more conservative.”

But can fashion be that dangerous? Does wearing more conservative clothes mean we are more conservative, or does it just point to the social conditions that designers are inspired by? Not everyone who adopted a “grunge” style in the 90s stopped taking showers, not everyone who’s worn military camouflage has been in the army, and not everyone who took inspiration from ”space age” looks has walked on the moon.

When it comes to today’s fashion trends, one student put it perfectly. “Designers are getting more conservative because it’s something different, it hasn’t been done in a while.”

 

 

NOTHING TO FEAR BUT FEAR ITSELF?

Anya Bailey

During the week of October 3rd, the New York City subways were allegedly going to be attacked by terrorists. The announcement was a long feared one, following the July bombings of three London subways and one London bus, which killed 57 people and injured 700. With such gruesome possibilities of death, one wonders how NYC teenagers dealt with the stress. Have we, the students who witnessed 9/11, become immune to such threats, or are we simply ignoring them because we have no other choice but to go on with our daily lives? Students at BHSEC say that their calm reactions to terrorist threats relate to both options.

Jesse Small, a Year 1 at BHSEC, takes a train and a bus to school. “On the day the threat about blowing up the trains came out, I was a little wary taking the train,” he said, “but after that day it was normal again.”

Other BHSEC students have looked for alternatives to the train. Year 1 student John Loonam said, “At first I tried not to take the train as much, I took the express bus, but it cost too much money–five dollars–so I started to take the train again.”

Another student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and often takes a special express van to school, said, “Kids in the city don’t have a choice but to take the subway, unless they are really rich.” This situation is analogous to the Titanic, in which the first class passengers were more likely to survive.

Parents give new warnings to their children before they leave home, which go beyond the traditional cautions of not staying out too late or using drugs. “Mine told me to stay at the back of the train for some reason,” said Jesse.

Olivia Bernard, also a Year 1 at BHSEC, said, “My mom expressed concern about my taking the subway during rush hour during the bomb scare, but she never would say something like ‘I prohibit you from taking the subway.’ The subway is how I get around most of the time.” She added, “I don’t think my mom would necessarily want the things I enjoy doing to be compromised because of some bomb scare that may or may not be legitimate.”

While some students interviewed thought that city teens live with more fear than their suburban counterparts, Emily Shrynemakers, a Year 1, disagreed, saying that “City teens become accustomed to these ideas.” Emily’s opinion illustrates the general consensus that urban teens do not panic when the media warns them about possible attacks.

Although living with terrorist threats is yet another stress city teens must deal with, all of the BHSEC students interviewed for this article indicated that such dangers do not stop them from taking the train. A person is more likely to be harassed or injured on the train by an unstable passenger than by a terrorist. Public transportation is one of the highlights of our great city, and New Yorkers know how to ride the subway, streetwise but cool.

 

 

HOMESCHOOLING, THE NEW THING

Claire Ross

Can you imagine being taught by your parents, spending all your time with them? You may not be able to, but homeschooled children certainly can. Parents of homeschooled children can rarely afford to spend thousands of dollars on tutors. In fact, they often get the job done themselves in addition to full- or part-time careers. Every year in the U.S., more and more parents put their time and effort into homeschooling their children.

The decision to homeschool cannot be done on a whim. It requires enormous determination from the parents as well as cooperation from the children. The parents must also be approved as homeschool teachers by the state Department of Education. There are regulations imposed by the Dept. of Ed which are used to confirm that the homeschooled student is receiving a valid education. This verification is done through quarterly reports submitted by the parents and by annual assessments. Despite popular belief, even homeschooled students sometimes take exams.

However, Zoe Baumgardner, homeschooled from five through twelve and currently a year 2 student at BHSEC, claims that “There were no exams given by my parents but I managed to stay motivated to get the work done anyway.” Paula Morell, a mother of several homeschooled children, says that “Child cooperation is sometimes difficult when they are being taught by their very own parents, but I would set a few project or work deadlines and if they were not fulfilled, I would punish my children in some way-for example, no TV, no computer, or no allowance for the week.” Two of her children are currently attending Stuyvesant and her eldest recently graduated from Stuy. Zoe Baumgardner began high school at Bard at the age of twelve, and is therefore, two years ahead of her classmates. Clearly, homeschooling could be the key to success.

You would think that there is some sort of flaw in the system, but both Zoe and Paula are absolutely confident about this educational method. When asked how her children stayed socially adept, Paula answered that they were involved in many sports and extracurricular activities and sometimes even “homeschooling groups” which are socializing groups in which homeschoolers get together. Zoe stayed socially active in similar ways. When asked whether the switch from homeschooling to high school was difficult, Paula says “The switch went pretty smoothly. The only slight problem was that it was difficult for my children to have full days of several one period classes as opposed to whole days devoted to larger blocks of material.” This may have been the one flaw in homeschooling but, to the contrary, Zoe admits “It became difficult to deal with my father, and that’s part of the reason I started high school”. She continues, “But I think it (homeschooling) actually brought me closer to my mother.”

In addition to all this, Paula Morell confesses that she probably taught her children less than six hour days, thus giving them more free time. Finally, she adds “Homeschooling allowed my children to go deeper into the subjects they were into and focus on them. My oldest son, for example, was very interested in science, notably bugs.” It’s no surprise that he is now attending MIT.

By this point, Paula Morell and Zoe Baumgardner have fully convinced this reporter that she missed out on an ideal education. Being taught more, faster, and in a more comfortable situation is a paradise of learning. Why stop? Zoe explains that she had been teaching herself during the last two years with the help of a few tutors (she mentions a Latin tutor) and the Stanford program over the internet. This was getting increasingly difficult for her so she applied to BHSEC, which seemed to be a welcoming social environment. Also, for obvious reasons, parents are rarely qualified to teach past middle school level.

Surveys tell us that 2.2% of the U.S. population was being homeschooled in 2003 and that the number has recently been increasing. The reasons given for homeschooling children included the safety of the school environment, the lack of moral or religious instruction, and the dissatisfaction with instructional methods.

In terms of the learning process the amount of personal attention given to the student appears to be the most important aspect. However, we must not forget that Zoe Baunmgardner and Paula Morell’s children were lucky to be taught by a pair of motivated and competent parents. Their exposure to other children through extracurriculars was also crucial. Some homeschoolers are not as fortunate. Zoe implies this: “I attended a few homeschooling groups where most of the children were pretty weird”.

 

 

A LOOK AT THE POLITICS BEHIND HURRICANE KATRINA

Francisco Feliz

On Tuesday, August 30, 2005, Hurricane Katrina mercilessly devastated the region the hip hop community refers to as the “Dirty South.” The region includes the states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi–the three states hit the hardest by this natural disaster. The residents of these areas are being done “dirty” or being cheated, and here are the reasons why.

The lifestyle in New Orleans, Louisiana has undergone a dramatic downgrade ever since Katrina’s departure. The rate of violence has increased along with the death rate. Immediately after the disaster occurred the media focused predominantly on “looting.” The rapper Kanye West criticized the media’s portrayal of the African American community in contrast to that of the whites living in the same area: “You see a black family, it says, ‘they’re looting.’ You see a white family, it says, ‘They’re looking for food.’” Now, if you were living in such dire and unimaginable conditions as the people in New Orleans wouldn’t you also be “looking for food?” According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, ‘looting’ means “to rob especially on a large scale and usually by violence or corruption.” When it comes to this so-called looting, was any violence present? No, the only violence that the media covered was the attempted sniper attacks during evacuations and completely inaccurate stories about what happened in the Dome. I do not condone this reckless and unnecessary behavior, but clearly desperation took its toll on the people of New Orleans.

I must now emphasize an aspect of this disaster that is not given enough stress: the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Who are they? They are the poverty-stricken, lower-class, African Americans who had no means by which to evacuate. This is a topic for which the media has avoided serious coverage until Kanye West spoke his mind. Before his statements there had been silence on this important issue. Mr. West broke that silence with an opinion that is still resounding in people’s ears today: “George Bush does not care about black people.” Personally, I must say that Kanye took that statement a bit too far. I feel that West’s anger and outrage was speaking for him. I wouldn’t take it so far as to say that George W. Bush, our incumbent president, is racist, but I will say that when describing him, Mr. West was in the right ballpark.

We all know that this was a natural disaster and could not be prevented. However, it escalated to a catastrophe of enormous proportions when our nation’s ‘leader’ was not there to lead. Did you know that our president was vacationing on a ranch in Texas when the storm hit Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama? We can only hope that the president was not so oblivious to everything that he was not aware that Katrina was on its way. Now, a responsible president–one who embodies leadership and prudence–would have taken it upon himself to cut his vacation short and head to the White House immediately. Instead, our president stayed at his ranch and showed up for duties two whole days AFTER the hurricane struck land.

He is not a leader! Why would you follow him? Of course, he IS ‘working hard’ to get the troops, supplies, and aid there. Mr. Bush, we understand that this is going to be a long process but please stop emphasizing that. Like Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana said, referring to the absence of assistance in the affected areas, “For God’s sake, shut up and send us somebody!” Mr. Bush, you should stop making statements about how much money will be used to help the victims of Katrina and discuss instead, why it took so long for the Federal Emergency Management Agency directors to get to the hurricane zone–about three days AFTER Katrina hit. In that time, babies died of dehydration and the elderly perished on account of the absence of medicine and medical attention.

FEMA is a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, which is not independent of the president. In other words, it cannot function on its own. It is only on the president’s orders that it may act. Therefore, due to the president’s absence from the White House, it was not able to act in a prompt manner to the crisis.

In order for FEMA to be a more effective organization it needs, according to Broussard, more congressional funding and more presidential support. He says that FEMA needs to be an “independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments across America.” In order for FEMA to do what it was created to do, it needs to be free of the bureaucracy which cripples it at present.

Worsening this situation are the president’s cuts in funding for the maintenance of the levees in New Orleans. A leader would never do that. Neither would he provide a financial aid package to another country more rapidly than he would for his own country. A “leader” would instead clean his own backyard before cleaning his neighbor’s backyard. It is rather curious that the president reacted so quickly to the October 8th earthquake that struck Pakistan and India. Nonetheless, as the American people, we should not ask why our president responded so quickly to that disaster but why he did not respond promptly to hurricane Katrina. It may be, however, that he did in fact take action speedily but just not in the areas that experienced the greatest destruction. I have a brother that lives in LaPlace, Louisiana in a relatively affluent neighborhood highly populated by whites. His neighborhood had running water and electricity three days after the hurricane hit. Couldn’t we have provided aid just as quickly to poor non-white neighborhoods that needed the assistance even more than the rich white neighborhoods did? Whether Bush says it or not, whether the media says it or not, whether you like it or not, this disaster comes down to a matter of class.

It may be far-fetched to claim “George Bush does not care about black people,” but the value of life in the Dirty South was de-emphasized and this is evident in the president’s tardy response to this tragedy. This de-emphasis entirely contradicts his policy of “homeland security.” He constantly discusses how he must secure the American people from a terrorist threat, from nuclear war, from this and from that. However, homeland security is at the very core of this issue. This is loss of life on American soil. This is exactly what homeland security is supposed to protect against. Bush is a hypocrite because he waited three days, after many people died unnecessarily, before he called this a ‘national tragedy.’

This disaster was your time to act, Mr. President, and you did so in an extremely inappropriate fashion because you were too busy vacationing. You were in your fancy ranch as hundreds of corpses were floating on the rising waters. You were watching the news as the residents of these three states did not have electricity. You were getting fed by your servants while impoverished citizens had to ‘loot’ stores in order to survive. It took you an S.O.S. from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and a lachrymal message of distress from Aaron Broussard, the President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana for you to finally respond to this ‘national tragedy.’ These poor African Americans had no means to escape the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, and you knew that very well but overlooked it. There are no excuses for your behavior. You should be ashamed of your actions, what you stand for, and most importantly of yourself because we definitely are and forever will be.

 

 

TRADITION OF THE NEW

Will Glovinsky

As America debates the mandates of federal and local government, a similar tension prevails here on East Houston Street at Bard High School Early College. While some members of the BHSEC community have expressed their discontent with the loose structure of Bard, others revere the informality and individual freedom of the school. Since Bard is still young, and nothing is etched in stone yet, this debate is an important one.

Overall, Bard can be categorized as having a loose structure that has met with little controversy. Considered to be an integral characteristic of the school, teachers are allowed to approach their subject as they wish. Although it seems unlikely that this practice will change anytime soon, there are more subtle instances that suggest a possible administrative shift is occurring. During the initial months of this school year, new confrontations have sprung up, which are chipping away at the former improvisational, laissez-faire environment of Bard.

In the past teachers distributed books. The recording of who received books was done at the classroom level. However, this year books are being handed out by Ms. Sawick in the book room off the gym. A BHSEC ID card must be presented before the book’s barcode is zapped and the book is handed over. This system proves inconvenient because a student who has misplaced or not yet received an ID card is unable to collect his or her books. Further, many students have complained about this system because of the long lines it entails.

In addition, a more watchful administrative eye now fixes itself on the ever-controversial issue of bulletin board real estate. While boards were once free-for-alls of tacks, paper, staples and flashy fonts, they are now assigned official numbers and an application must be submitted to acquire one.

Clubs too are finding that they must conform to certain standards if they wish to continue operating. To obtain status as a club those involved must write bylaws, find adult advisors, and describe and get approval for it.

So far it is unclear as to the source of these initiatives. It can only be expected that as Bard grows, precedents will be set and more formalized systems will replace antiquated and inefficient ones. But how to interpret what has happened so far becomes a central question. Are these little details insignificant or are they harbingers of things to come?

If anything, these new policies tell us that life at Bard is changing, even if only slightly. It is becoming more institutional, more structured, and more efficient. While many of these practices may seem unnecessarily complicated or impersonal, it is important that the student body accepts these alterations to Bard’s young traditions as not only inevitable but justified.

Bard can maintain its special qualities of rigorous and varied classes, liberalism, and teacher freedom, even if the administrative side has to become a little more like that of a–and I know we all hate this term–”traditional high school.” So let’s not worry.

 
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