LESLIE FIEST: THE REMINDER: SOLID VOCALS AND MORE ORIGINALS MAKE FOR A STRONG AND CATCHY ALBUM
Meagan Chen ’07
Though not her best album to date, Leslie Feist’s new album “The Reminder” is certainly well-produced, well-written, and beautifully sung. While her previous album, “Let it Die,” contained mostly covers, “The Reminder” consists almost entirely of songs written by the singer, the only exception being “Sea Lion Woman”, which was originally recorded by Christine and Katherine Shipp in 1939. The songs on her newly released album are catchier and written for a more mainstream audience.
“The Reminder” opens with a bossa-nova song titled “So Sorry” in which Feist expresses her regret over mistakes that caused a lover to leave her. The next song, “I Feel It All” is upbeat––a complete turn-around from the melancholy tone of its predecessor––and is about giving that relationship a second chance, and doing things over again differently. Despite the differences between the two songs, the transition is admirably smooth.
The third track, “My Moon, My Man,” is the first single from the album, and was written to be played as a dance tune. The video for the song is reminiscent of OK Go’s video for “Here it Goes Again.” However, although the two do share similarities (i.e.: Feist walks and dances along an airport walkalator, OK Go uses treadmills), Feist’s is not a single-take video, and is filmed with more production equipment than the OK Go’s video.
There are also a few songs on the album that are more suitable for listening and relaxing than dancing, such as “The Park,” one of the album’s most moving songs. The banjo Feist uses in “The Park” sounds beautiful with her voice and, with lyrics like, “sadness so real that it populates/the city and leaves you homeless again,” it is difficult to ignore this song.
“Sea Lion Woman,” a song Nina Simon has made popular with her version, “See-Line Woman,” is especially fast-paced, with most of the song consisting of synthesizer and clapping and Feist on guitar in the bridges between verses.
On “The Reminder” the listener is able to hear the versatility in Feist’s voice. While it seems she was holding herself back on “Let it Die,” she certainly lets her voice go on her new release. Other remarkable songs include “Brandy Alexander” and “How My Heart Behaves.” “The Reminder” was released on May 1, 2007 by Cherrytree Records, a subsidiary of Interscope Records.
EARTH DAY BENEFIT AT BHSEC: ORGANIZAED BY 9TH GRADERS, RAISES MONEY AND AWARENESS
Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10
On Sunday, April 22, Abby Savitch-Lew ’10 and Diana Chao ’10 hosted a benefit concert to raise money for global warming. The concert was composed of a series of performances by students from BHSEC and LaGuardia among other high schools. The acts — singing, dancing, piano, acting — were supplemented by a guest speaker from the Carbon Fund, who gave a slide show illustrating causes and effects of global warming. She encouraged the audience to take small steps, such as buying fluorescent light bulbs to lower the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
In the intermission, crafts ranging from friendship bracelets to illustrated comic strips were sold at a table at the back of the auditorium. In the basement, volunteers sold food donated by Whole Foods and a bakery. Organizers say over $1850 was raised and will be donated to the Carbon Fund.
BHSEC STUDENTS NAVIGATE THE CHALLENGES OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: RECORD NUMBERS ACCEPTED TO TOP SCHOOLS
Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10
This spring 3.2 million students will graduate from high school — an all time record. Many of these students, the children of baby boomers, have been inundating college admissions offices all over the country and have created the fiercest competition ever. This bulge in the number of applicants will peak in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics.
This fall, top colleges received tens of thousands of applications, forcing them to turn down students with perfect or nearly perfect SAT scores and GPAs. At Harvard, the acceptance rate was 9%, and of the nearly 24,000 applicants to Stanford, about 2,500 were admitted. Of the Ivies, Columbia had the lowest acceptance rate – a mere 8.9 percent. This competition, combined with the increasing use of holistic admissions, has created a process in which even the most qualified students can be rejected from their dream schools.
The same has held true for selective liberal arts schools popular with BHSEC applicants, such as Oberlin, Bard, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, and Middlebury. According to Stephen Bonnet, Year II and a college transfer office mentor, many BHSEC students apply to either large, prestigious schools, such as the University of Chicago, or a variety of liberal arts schools similar to BHSEC. SUNY schools remain popular safeties although admission percentages to certain campuses have plummeted. Some obscure schools have suddenly emerged as popular choices through word of mouth, such as Evergreen State College in Washington.
Beth Cheikes, Director of the College Transfer Office, said that BHSEC students tend to apply to “small liberal arts schools that pride themselves in excellence in undergraduate teaching.”
One of the perennial decisions for all BHSEC students is how to use their Associate of Arts degrees. While this college credit is accepted by a number of schools, many applicants choose to apply as freshmen rather than as transfer candidates who will enter their next colleges as sophomores or juniors. Dr. Marion, who serves as a college advisor, described this as a “huge issue.” She noted that the experience of being with a group of people for four years is a valuable one and emphasized that in college one can relax and should not rush or worry about graduate school. In general, Ms. Cheikes said, “I don’t feel there is any overarching trend” regarding use of credits.
Dr. Marion said that many parents, especially those who did not go to college themselves, may have heard of only the most famous colleges, such as the Ivies, and assume that their children must attend one of these institutions in order to receive a good education. Dr. Marion holds that this belief is misguided: “Students can have an equally wonderful life if they go to hundreds of [other] schools.” She does not believe peer pressure is widespread at BHSEC: “I haven’t seen a lot of that.” Most students, she says, can be observed passing on information about schools to their peers.
Of course, the focus on the college application process can take its toll on curricular studies. Many spend their high school years in extra curricular activities or in volunteer or paid employment in order to compile a record that will impress college admissions committees. As a teacher and college adviser, Dr. Marion advises that “planning ahead is a good thing, but it can really overpower what it is you are learning in Seminar, what it is you are doing in math class.”
In the end, the college admissions process often appears to defy logic. This is largely due to colleges’ increasing reliance on multiple sources of information about their applicants. Something in one student’s essay that makes a strong impression on an admissions officer may make up for a relatively weak GPA and push her into the “admit” category, while another student with a perfect SAT score may lack a compelling extracurricular record or write a weak essay and wind up with a thin envelope in her mailbox.
Students with seemingly immaculate records are often rejected from top schools. Dr. Marion sympathizes with those who experience this shock: “If you don’t get into the school that you think will be perfect for you, it can be very difficult.” But she emphasizes that students will eventually discover that they end up in a place where they are just as happy, “What we often forget is that there are a lot of really special schools out there.”
DINOSAUR JR. BEYOND
Craig Gordon ’08
The 80s punk and underground indie movement seems determined not to fade away. Notorious and groundbreaking bands like the Pixies and the Smashing Pumpkins have reunited and in some cases set about recording brand new albums (with mixed results), while other legendary acts such as Husker Du and the Minutemen are finally receiving the documentation they deserve (check out Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad). Adding to the growing cadre of reformed punk bands is Dinosaur Jr, who toured the past two years before settling down to record a new album, Beyond. The album is the first record since Bug, featuring the original lineup of Mascis, Barlow and Murph, and the expectations of the online music nerd community were fairly high, despite the stigma attached to new albums recorded by dinosaur rock bands (The Stooges, anyone?).
Fortunately, the slackers from Massachusetts have not disappointed. Beyond is a true return to form, perhaps their best since the renowned You’re Living All Over Me. The band wisely decide to stick to their simple formula of solid rhythms with earthy and plain rocking guitar solos thrown about all over the place, though Mascis’s famed fingers never grow too indulgent. Huge guitar line after huge guitar line simply rockets through slightly sludgy though fairly standard production while Mascis drawls in his slurry, mildly indifferent voice about all the usual 80s stuff like wasting time, punk rock and getting wasted, as well as some of that sappy reminiscent stuff required by all reunited legends. That’s about it, concerning the sounds you’ll hear. The record never quite reaches the highs of songs like “Sludgefeast” but the amount of complex guitar work is pretty impressive. It’s as polished as their 90s output, and the songwriting on par with their 80s stuff. Mud and slop tends to do bands like Dino more justice than streak-free shine, but the record is far from a compromise of the band’s D.I.Y. roots.
It’s pleasing to know that some of these legendary acts are still capable of churning out solid, catchy tunes. The difference between Dino and their violent brethren is that they don’t have anything to prove – they’re just being their usual loud, lazy selves. Bands like The Stooges and The Who seem to have catered their style to fit the new pop consumerist generations; few have refused to bungle their often unique sounds. Perhaps the ethos of the 80s is indeed slowly fading away, as Dino is one of the only bands to keep true to their post-punk sound. Beyond has an authentic spirit, a bouncy spring in its step, compared to a record like The Stooges’ The Weirdness.
Even more welcome, though, in light of the latest wimpy indie-pop and freak-folk trends, is the presence of those slicing, unabashed guitars. Sometimes I wonder where all the guitars have gone; colorful textures and warm acoustic strumming can be nice, relaxing stuff, but I, for one, frequently have a hankering for a face melting. Psychedelic rock, especially that of Japanese origin, will often satiate this need of mine but, even then, “simple” punk songs with blistering riffs have an irreplaceable charm to them. And if you’re like me, someone who needs his daily dose of ass-kickery, this record is perfect to pop in during the summertime and plain jam to.
BACHANALIA BEDAZZLES BHSEC!: A THEATER REVIEW
Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10
On Community Day panelists spoke of the shared experience of Year I Seminar and its cohesive effect on Year Is and IIs. Although it was conceived before the discussion, the recent student production of Euripides’ The Bacchae proved to be not only a provocative extrapolation of this theme, but hilarious too.
The audience was instantly captivated by the modernized and humor-ized version of the Greek tragedy, adapted and directed by Year II students Leah Hennessey and Laura Atlas, who played Pentheus/Agave and Dionysus respectively. The blind seer Teiresias was portrayed by Year II Henry Shapiro, a daunting figure in a massive fur coat. His character, however, became less intimidating when he partook in a bag of Cheerios offered by Cadmus (Year I Max Lakner) and employed the blues to explain the strange happenings to hapless Pentheus.
The dialogue was colloquial, though faithful to Euripides in most of the important parts. Anachronism was at the perfect level, with Pentheus pulling off a wonderful cross pollination of CEO and dictator (and in doing so drawing a nice connection). The Messenger, comically portrayed by 9th grader Nathan J. Campbell, wore a “Bacchae in Black” t-shirt.
All this was framed by set decorations admirably hung about creating a mythical fantasyland. The curtains were draped in layers of brightly colored, patterned cloth and the skirt of the stage was covered in handmade flora, perfect ambience for the artsy teenager’s bedroom and Bacchants’ playground alike. One downside of the prominent curtains was too much action occurred in shadows and sometimes there appeared to be competition for floor space among actors.
Sometimes monologues didn’t seem to work so well because much of the humor came from character interaction. Indeed, each character had well developed idiosyncrasies including speech, posture, and gesticulation. The large majority of the cast did justice to the brilliantly crafted comedy, with the exception of a few who were unable to control their mirth.
The Bacchants – the female worshippers of Dionysus – were striking in their outlandish wardrobe and antics. The girls (Alex Tatarsky, Max Chan, Carey Dunne, Stella Jones, Franchesca Morel, Sarah Mount, Lila El Naggar, and Molly Segell) cavorted about the stage, dancing with fervent enthusiasm. They brought the whole play together, joining the scenes with their outrageous frolics and enchanting the audience.
The Bacchae was a kaleidoscope of talent and dedication, myth and realism. Produced solely on student initiative, it was remarkably put-together and one can only hope it will spark a legacy of future Greek tragicomedic productions.
UNCONVENTIONAL BUT UNCLEAR: A COMMENT ON STANLEY ARONOWITZ’S TALK AT BHSEC
Melanie Steinhardt ’09
On Wednesday, April 18, author Stanley Aronowitz came to BHSEC to speak to students about ways to expand one’s learning outside of the classroom. His main point was clear: teachers should incorporate lived experiences and interests into lessons in the classroom in order to make school more relevant to students’ lives. While this lesson was simple enough, Aronowitz’s lecture was based more on personal experience than on empirical observation and was frustratingly short on details.
Aronowitz began his talk with an autobiography. He was born in the Bronx, where he learned “the wisdom of the street.” He shared his experiences in school, explaining that he “was never one for classes” and read “real books instead of textbooks.” Aronowitz believes that school is only part of a person’s education—true, well-rounded knowledge comes from street smarts and the media. (His repeatedly cited example of such street knowledge was “hip hop.”) Overall, Aronitz’s arguments to support this assertion were thin. He often wandered into tangents about his own life, noting the ease with which he passed through school while skipping many of his classes. He also expressed a sentiment of disdain for most, if not all, public education.
Aronowitz denied that school is an absolutely necessary form of learning. “Popular music is a prism, a register of what people are thinking much more than textbooks,” he said. His own experiences, such as obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree simply by writing a paper after being expelled from Brooklyn College for leading a demonstration, seem difficult to adapt to sound educational policy. Aronowitz stated that he supports individual learning and believes that group work is overrated. He acknowledged that degrees and credentials are harder to come by these days, but repeatedly emphasized that radio and television could aide in a student’s comprehensive understanding of the world.
“Once you split your home and street life from school, it will be understood as something which is detached from you,” said Aronowitz. This may be true to an extent, and every BHSEC student is familiar with teachers’ attempts to bring students’ lives to bear on lessons, particularly during the Writing and Thinking workshop. But Aronowitz underestimated the resources of many teenagers, projecting his own frustrating scholastic experiences onto everyone. He seemed unwilling to accept that students might enjoy the kind of academic learning received in school, or that a more traditional environment is necessary for kids who aren’t independently inclined towards educating themselves. While many rigorous schools push a student’s life toward school, Aronowitz called for the opposite: making school more like life. This in itself is certainly a good idea for certain students, but Aronowitz seemed to think it would benefit kids across the board.
Aronowitz’s talk lacked a unifying structure, leading many students to ask clarifying questions. One listener asked Aronowitz’s opinion of a school like BHSEC, where discussion and debate around a seminar table are encouraged over the model of lone thinkers pondering books on her own. He said he thought debate and discussion could be helpful but solitary learning skills were, too. When a Year I countered his idea that school and home should be alike, saying she viewed the dichotomy between school and home as a necessary life experience, Aronowitz became defensive. He said, as he did more than once, “I didn’t say that!” Which leads to another question: what exactly did he say?
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GREEN: WHY DON IMUS WAS REALLY KICKED OFF THE AIR
Francisco Feliz ’08
On April 12, the press, civil rights activists and anybody with a non-racist disposition let out a sigh of relief. Don Imus, the bigot, was off the air. Civility and the common goodwill of a nation had prevailed, rising to challenge a sexist and racist man and punishing him for his misdeeds.
That is half true. Imus’ disparaging remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team did receive extensive and angry press coverage and soon civil rights heavyweights like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were condemning the radio show host. Imus, however, remained on the air. Then, as a result of the media hype, several of Imus’ long-time advertisers, such as Staples, Inc., Sprint Nextel, and American Express, immediately withdrew their sponsorship on April 11. On the same day, MSNBC decided not to simulcast Imus in the Morning, and CBS cancelled Imus’ show the next day.
Obviously, the Don Imus controversy had matured and developed into one that goes beyond just the Rutgers women’s basketball team; it had sparked a larger debate on race relations. If one is able to look beyond the hype, however, one will be able to find that the removal of Imus was not a moral victory; it was an economic necessity. Many other radio show hosts have made similarly racist and sexist remarks, but they never received as much publicity as Imus. Neal Boortz, for example, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, said, “[Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)] looks like a ghetto slut.” Considering the significant media coverage Don Imus’ comments received, one would think that Neal Boortz would at least receive some media coverage. The press hardly covered it.
This is not the first time that comments have been left uncovered. Troi Torain, former host of a HOT 97 radio talk show, referred to a caller as a “dirty spic” and to another as “a nappy-headed…whore.” Notice the resemblance? While the derogatory remarks of many other celebrities have either received significantly less media attention or been forgiven, Don Imus just wasn’t lucky enough to pass under this nation’s disturbingly weak racism radar.
Do you really think that Don Imus’ advertisers abandoned him to protest his remarks? Why did it take a week of heavy publicity for CBS and MSNBC to finally decide to cancel Imus in the Morning. Both corporations knew exactly what Don Imus had said but did not decide to fire him until after a week of pressure from Al Sharpton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, the NAACP, and the National Association of Black Journalists. The real reason that Don Imus’ remarks worked so heavily against him is that green piece of paper that every American strives to earn.
Bluntly, keeping Don Imus would be bad for business. If Staples, Sprint Nextel and all of Imus’ supporters had continued to advertise him, the corporations would have probably lost business because customers would have inferred that Imus’ supporters condone his remarks. Don’t get me wrong; Imus’ comments were “unconscionable,” as Stringer put it, and he should be disciplined. But, if we are going to do so, let us be consistent. Why did not Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson focus on Neal Boortz’s or Torain’s comments as much as they did Imus’? This issue has only been blown up because Sharpton has been “ratcheting up the rhetoric” and holding Imus to a “higher standard” than he would have judged others, African American columnist Armstrong Williams complains. Further, Don Imus has been making pointed quips and degrading slurs since 1977! Why has he not ever been disciplined before now? In the end, one should remember that CBS and MSNBC are not attached to this issue and neither are Imus’ advertisers. They all left Don Imus behind because of the bad name keeping him would give their businesses. Thinking about what was best for business, they had to let the Radio Hall of Fame inductee go for good. Don’t blame them. We should know that, for businesses, it’s all about the green.
RECYCLING PROGRAM MATURES DESPITE OBSTACLES
Gloria Bazargan ’10
With environmental issues finally permeating the nation’s collective consciousness, BHSEC is doing its part to conserve natural resources by implementing a recycling program. But while proponents have labored to set up a program they have been hindered by many setbacks, including lack of funds, bins and student participation.
There are currently several bins throughout the building that are designated for recyclable materials. According to Admissions Coordinator Olga Carmona, who played a significant role in establishing the recycling program at BHSEC, many strategies have been employed to increase efficiency but a shortage of materials has given the program a slow start.
Recycling materials — including extra bins and stickers to specify the materials that correspond to each bin — were requested from the Department of Education but were never delivered, ostensibly due to lack of funding. There was even an attempt to use the custodial budget to purchase materials, though this too was unsuccessful.
With the DOE unable to help, Bard College was appealed to and spared several bins from its own well developed program. Three yellow bins were brought from Bard College by Dean Stuart Levine and have been placed around the building as paper receptacles. In certain offices, trash cans with clear plastic bags are used to recycle paper.
Despite the difficulties our recycling program has encountered, BHSEC is doing better than most other high schools. Ms. Carmona pointed out that some high schools do not recycle at all.
BHSEC tried entering a recycling contest against other high schools. The three categories were most creative program, best new program, and best program that involved the surrounding neighborhood. Informational materials were requested from the Department of Sanitation, and stickers and magnets were sent to BHSEC and distributed at the last Town Hall meeting. Unfortunately, our school did not have enough bins or labels to push the recycling program further.
Despite the challenges BHSEC’s program has faced, Ms. Carmona describes our program as “well set up.” The custodians are aware of the proper manners of disposal for recyclables. The next concern is whether the students and faculty of BHSEC understand how to dispose of recyclables. Without some form of education or labels on the bins, it has been difficult for members of the BHSEC community to know which materials are recyclable, and which bins they belong in.
When asked whether she thought students were active enough in the recycling program, Ms. Carmona said, “I would say no, not enough, but it’s not their fault.” If the students are not fully aware of all aspects of the recycling program, she said, they will not be able to follow it.
Recently more attempts have been made to increase BHSEC’s environmental awareness. There have been screenings of movies that discuss environmental issues, and the faculty is still pushing for more recycling bins for the building.
As this year comes to an end, the recycling program will most likely not see any significant changes until the fall. But that doesn’t mean the wheels will stop turning. Ms. Carmona said, “Over the summer getting those bins is going to be my main priority.”
MODEL UN CLUB SPREADS THE WORD AND WINS AWARDS: BHSEC STUDENT CAPTURES TOP HONOR AT CARNEGIE MELLON CONFERENCE
Genevieve Sico ’09
When Hannah Ensler-Rivel entered BHSEC, she had so particular interest in foreign affairs. She tried to join the debate team, only to discover that it did not exist. So she settled for Model UN, and was hooked.
“Someone told me that Model UN is the closest club to [debate]. So I joined and I just fell in love with it,” said Hannah, a graduating Year II and president of the club. Model UN, according to Hannah, encourages participants to “care about what’s going on in the world today.”
The Model United Nations Club, part of an international organization, increases awareness of global issues through conference simulations in which each student represents one country. It is one of the most decorated of BHSEC’s clubs, having garnered many awards since its inception four years ago. Some topics covered recently include Nuclear Weapon Proliferation, AIDS, Humans Rights, and Women’s Civil Service. “Other than being able to write arguments,” said Hannah, “the club is all about speaking and standing on your own toes. Each member should know the country he or she is representing very well and be able to stand up and talk about it.”
Last year, after a large fundraising campaign, the club attended a conference in Washington D.C and performed very well. This past March, the club attended another conference at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “It was really exciting for us because last time we just rode a bus to our destination but, now, we actually flew there,” said Hannah. The number of BHSEC delegates attending the Carnegie Mellon conference doubled from the previous trip, reflecting the club’s rising popularity and fundraising prowess. The Model UN of BHSEC was part of the New York delegation that competed with over 200 delegates from Connecticut, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
BHSEC has fared very well in these competitions. In addition to three outstanding delegate awards and four delegate awards, it recently won four additional delegate awards at a conference at Stuyvesant High School. At the Carnegie Mellon conference, Alex Tatarsky won the best delegate award, the highest honor awarded at a conference, and John Iselin received an honorable mention.
Besides developing their research, public speaking, debating, and negotiating skills, the delegates are also afforded the opportunity to show off their moves during Model UN dances. Hannah notes that “seeing the suburban kids from Ohio roll their heads and take their way to the dance floor is just amazing.”
Dr. Brian Carter, the adviser of the club and a Model UN participant during his own high school years, loves being involved with the club. He believes in the club’s mission and feels fulfilled as he helps encourage the students to become more active participants in the global community. Dr. Carter says some members were very quiet students who, after joining the club, have become active speakers in and out of the classroom. “At first, I was not talking at all,” said 10th grader Deborah Osafo. “But as the conference progressed, I had the courage to actively participate because I know what’s going on in my country really well and I have something to say about it.”
Many schools have Model UN as a curricular activity, which means that other delegates have more time to research and prepare arguments. “We’re very proud whenever the BHSEC Model UN wins against these schools,” Dr. Carter said. Some members speculate that the emphasis on discussion and debate in BHSEC’s curriculum indirectly prepares delegates for conferences.
Hopes are high for next year’s Model UN team, despite the departure of several key members who are graduating in June. The club plans to take their show on the road to several national conferences, and will try to expand its reach to international events as well.
LIKE A SCHOOL SHOOTER?: REVISTITING OUR CONCEPTIONS OF A SCHOOL SHOOTER
Will Glovinsky ’08
Just as the Unabomber could have been any thug with aviators and a neat mustache, the media has etched into the public mind an image of the archetypal school shooter: friendless, bullied, underachieving, and very false.
In response to a 1998 school shooting at Thurston High in Springfield, Oregon, President Clinton ordered that a guidebook of early warning signs be distributed to every school in the country. The resulting guidebook, and the many other versions published by non-governmental organizations, created a profile of the school shooter that is still believed today despite its falseness.
These lists of common characteristics tend to create a profile of the archetypal “shooter” that is largely incorrect. Extensive media coverage of the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, with their attendant reports of introverted and bullied kids, has imprinted in the public mind an oversimplified image of a school shooter.
One such early warning checklist, entitled “Checklist of Characteristics of Youth Who Have Caused School-Associated Violent Deaths” and produced by the president-appointed National School Safety Center, includes the items: “Is on the fringe of his/her peer group with few or no close friends,” and “Is involved with a gang or an antisocial group on the fringe of peer acceptance.”
Another checklist, published by the American Psychological Association, says that a youth has a potential for violence when he or she withdraws from friends and usual activities, feel “alone or rejected,” has poor grades, or has a history of bully victimization.
Some schools have even begun using software called Mosaic 2000 that claims to detect students who may be on the verge of violence by inputting huge datasets including, and searching for, characteristics such as those listed above.
Although many of these characteristics seem intuitive, evidence indicates that the school shooter profile is a myth. A comprehensive 2002 report prepared by the Secret Service Safe School Initiative studied school shootings from 1974 to 2000 (comprising 37 attacks) and found that “students who carried out the attacks differed from one another in numerous ways.”
The study also disproved the theory that most perpetrators are maladjusted social rejects with troubled backgrounds. Two-thirds came from families with two parents, 41 percent had As and Bs in school and only 5 percent were failing. Eighty-eight percent reported having close friends and only one in three was described as a “loner.”
Thus, apart from the stigma and stereotyping that profiling engenders, it is plain old inaccurate. Why should we label kids who have trouble fitting in as potential threats? Some say that the stakes are too high to ignore any patterns, no matter how unreliably they describe past perpetrators. But how emotionally destabilizing is it to know that you fit into the description of a school shooter? Worse, might that knowledge actually cause a student to carry out an act of violence?
Profiling is a temptation that promises much and delivers next to nothing. No matter how close to home a threat may be, just remember that nobody is predisposed to bringing a gun to school. Nobody is like a school shooter.
CLASSIC POST-PUNK ALBUM
Craig Gordon ’08
In a musical era when political rebellion in audio form dominated the underground airwaves, a group of agitated yet intelligent youths from Bristol formed a band in the midst of the punk revolution. This band released only two albums and a couple of singles. They mixed rebellious punk, funk, dub reggae, free jazz ideas and the eccentric sensibilities of Captain Beefheart into a nihilistic, chaotic and groovy whole. The band was called The Pop Group.
They released the critically acclaimed album Y in 1979, just as post-punk and hardcore were coming into the fore. Hardly a commercially successful release, it nevertheless garnered heaps of praise from forward-thinking critics and music-lovers, and remains to this day a cult classic, inspiring countless creative punk-funk and alternative bands. Previously out of print, the album has been remastered and re-released, making it much easier to obtain. In addition to the songs on the original release, the two tracks from their single She Is Beyond Good and Evil/3:38 are included as bonus tracks as well as a comprehensive booklet with instructive liner notes, lyrics and artwork.
The album begins with a sound similar to a sine wave frequency and immediately explodes into Gang of Four-like guitar slices. “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” is the only song that could possibly disparage the irony of the band’s name, yet is still more off-kilter than almost anything the punks before them had produced. Singer Mark Stewart’s howling yet ephemeral vocals mesh with a surprisingly tight rhythm section and angular guitars. The rest of the album explores territory as diverse as atmospheric avant-punk, raucous and boisterous free jazz horn squealing, electric free-form improvisation, aggressive, galloping dub-punk, jagged blues rock and haunting, somber piano dirges. At any particular moment it might seem as if all the instruments are going off in completely different sonic directions that somehow converge into a wholesome, satisfying aggregate. While blizzards of piano fury assail listeners from all sides in “Snow Girl,” Stewart manically grumbles darkly humorous lyrics (snow girl/I touch you/I burn you/I melt you), spontaneous saber-like guitars cut through the sonic mess, cleverly inventive woodblocks skip along and the bass maintains its clean and steady groove.
“We Are Time,” the centerpiece of the album and arguably the most memorable song title/lyric, starts out as a somewhat “standard” bass-heavy punk tune, but quickly evolves and converges into a nightmare of swirling vocals shouting “WE ARE WE ARE WE ARE TIME” and buzzing, razor-sharp clouds of guitar noise that cut down to the soul. The effect is unsettling for a first-time listener, but as he becomes accustomed to the nihilistic chaos and sudden sharp turns in musical direction, a picture emerges of The Pop Group’s unique vision, one that isn’t pretty but still quite tantalizing. The sheer capriciousness of these “songs” first bewilders the listener, but after the shock wears off all that’s left are surprisingly delightful-sounding slabs of edgy jazz-funk-punk.
Unfortunately it seems the folks in the remastering studio did a hasty job. While the album still has its boundless and cosmic atmosphere, it does not sound much noticeably different than previous versions. The bass is cranked up slightly and it sounds a bit more polished, but all but the most perceptive listeners wouldn’t notice any concrete differences. Still, the package is well worth the price, as the music is mind-opening and the liner notes similarly enlightening. Y will provide adventurous appreciators of creative music hours of delight and many revisits. You just need to keep one thing in mind when listening – we are time.
COMMUNITY COUNCIL REFLECTS ON A SUCCESFUL YEAR: HAS ANYONE NOTICED?
Elizabeth Vulaj ’08
Are BHSECers a little apathetic? If you were to ask the Community Council, you would probably receive a very diplomatic yes.
While Community Council has always been a rather thankless undertaking, some members have expressed that they are disappointed that their efforts are mainly taken for granted. It is the little things, like procuring a pencil sharpener for the Lounge, or raising awareness of the state of the coffee machine, that escape unnoticed. But they are not after gratitude: they want you to come to the next meeting.
Members are further perplexed by the feeble student interest because they have endeavored this year to make the Council more active and visible. “I think we’ve done exponentially more this year than others past,” says Year I member Bryan Wudeen. “Last year we could count on one hand how much we had done.” The Council, as a whole, agrees that more support from the school would be a very good thing, and it would love to see more enthusiasm from the students. Stephen Bonnett, Year II member, notes that the community “doesn’t see why they should care.”
Composed of students from all grades, the Community Council is an organized group that appoints specific tasks for each member. The Council has been discussing many issues, both new and old, including the blood drive, getting a locker room near the gym, and putting more recycling bins in hallways. However, at this point, most of the members agree that their main focus is Community Day, which this year was mainly planned and executed by the Council.
New to this year’s Community Day, held on May 9, were panel discussions, an emphasis on developing practical plans for the school and — the motto on the new BHSEC T-shirt notwithstanding — a total absence of freewrites. The Council hopes that the student body will begin to think about the topics discussed, including inter-grade tension and changing admissions standards, and what they say about the atmosphere of the school. “I’m just hoping that the topics discussed will have more lasting effects,” says Stephen.
Beyond organizing Community Day and developing the Student Commons (Lounge), the Council has several “onerous tasks” on its agenda. These proposals, such as a tentative plan for a darkroom, often drag out for months because the Council must win over both staff and students in order get things done.
The Council has also been involved in organizing functions such as the S-Word Dance in April. While the eponymous club did much of the planning and advertising, the Community Council did much of the work behind the scenes. “We put in a lot of work for funding the DJ and the decorations, and I don’t know if anyone really realized that,” says Bryan.
The members have high expectations for next year’s batch of 9th graders who may be enticed to join the council. Although there were not enough candidates during this past year to hold a proper election, the members are hoping that more people will want to join. John Iselin, 9th grade member, emphasizes that one need not be a member to attend a meeting and voice an opinion. “It would be good for other students, who can’t really join, to come to the meetings and share their ideas,” he says.
But in the meantime the Community Council continues to labor out of sight and, largely, out of mind. While Community Day drew positive reviews from students, members continue to fret. Emily Edahl, Year I member, adds, “I don’t know if anyone takes this section of school that seriously.”
EDGIES TEEN CENTER GETS HIGH MARKS: BHSEC STUDENTS ATTEND COLLEGE PREP CLASS AND TRIP
Francisco Feliz ’08
As BHSEC students filter out of the building and make their way to various after-school activities, some go to the Edgies Teen Center located on East Broadway. About a fifteen-minute walk from BHSEC, “Edgies,” as it is commonly known, is a program made possible by the Boys and Girls Club that does much more than keep kids off the street. Initially attracting BHSEC students with its free Kaplan SAT prep course, the program has continued to draw more and more BHSEC students, as it motivates them to attend college and helps them navigate the college process.
Open only a year, Edgies has made remarkable strides. Whether it is the warm welcomes from program director Chino Okonkwo and assistant Amarilis Perez, the free snacks, the computer lab, or the basketball court that lures you in, Edgies Teen Center is a great way to relax after a BHSEC school day. Several students from BHSEC, however, go there not only to hango out with friends, but rather to attend Edgies’ College Prep class.
Offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 PM – 6 PM, College Prep helps to make the college applications process more manageable. Each of the students in the class has already written at least one college essay that has been revised by Chino, Amarilis, and a Fordham University volunteer. Students are able to bring their concerns and questions to the class and Chino and Amarilis have lent their help to answer them.
On April 5th, Chino and Amarilis took twenty Edgies students on a three-day college tour. Along with six students from School of the Future, fourteen Edgies members visited Northeastern, Harvard, Brown, Yale, and University of Hartford. The trip was an effective way to show students what university life is like. Teens toured with college students, dined with them, and spoke with admissions officers. If you ask the BHSEC students who went, most will tell you that the trip was a life-changing experience.
After only a year, Chino and Amarilis have proven that their program has much to offer, as evidenced by the increasing interest it has managed to generate. Events planned for the near future include a HSBC Honor Roll Trip, a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure, and an Edgies Field Day, just to name a few.
If you would like to learn more about the Edgies Teen Center or get an application to attend, speak to Leah Graniela in Room 228.