VOLUME 5, ISSUE 5 (MAY 2008)


Sasha Pezenik ’10

When a BHSEC student’s lunchtime free period rolls around, there are a variety of culinary delights to choose from, running the gamut from A to D (avenues, that is). One of the favorites is Moon Pie’s Pizzeria, on avenue C. In the old days (before the renovations) Moon Pie’s was an exceptional hangout with large slices of pizza and talk with friends in the bright atmosphere and roomy booths.

It must be said, however, that after the long time taken for reconstruction, the results were certainly not worth waiting for. The booths are no longer; instead there is a long row of regular tables, which while still comfortable, does not give the same cozy vibe as before.

The slices are nowhere near as large as before—they used to be one-sixth of a pie—now, a slice is an eighth. The prices have also been reconstructed—one piece of pizza is $2.25, a quarter more than before. While this isn’t an overprice in the extremity, a quarter more for smaller portions is not what I look for in my pizza parlors.

The slim slices and hefty prices make for a poor pizza experience. The one question on students’ minds? What the hell is this, and what happened to the old Moon Pie?




Zina Huxley-Reicher ’09

It is the first day of BHSEC in some future year and you enter the school building through the new entrance into a grand lobby now known as the gym. Maybe you head to the second floor to spend your first period free in the double-level student lounge. Or maybe—this one takes some imagination—you’ll find a quiet, unused classroom where you can tackle your calculus homework in peace.

These are just a few of the many changes proposed by BHSEC’s recently completed master plan, which provides the school with a long term roadmap for future renovations and construction. It considers the aspirations of the school and sketches out how these goals could be met in the space available.

The architectural firm R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband designed BHSEC’s master plan after being selected by a committee of students, teachers and parents. The firm met with the school to determine our goals and priorities, and then compared our current facilities to other high schools and colleges. After assessing what is missing from our current building, the firm attempted to create a cohesive plan for the school.

If completed, the final master plan would leave BHSEC a very different place. Topping the list is the addition of new structure where the yard is now that would house a new auditorium, gym, and cafeteria.

The plan suggests the renovation of what we now call the gym into a real lobby. That odd “up-down entrance,” as one student put it, would be replaced by a double height student lounge. The plan also proposes the creation of a large number of small classrooms and more office space for teachers.

There would also be an increase in the amount of “communal space.” In addition to the dual-level student lounge, the plan includes meeting spaces in each hallway that consist of wavy or glass walls. The purpose of these walls, according to Mr. Peterson would be to “get rid of all the sharp corners” in the hopes of creating more interesting and welcoming places for students to gather.

Another proposition of the plan is the construction of a green house on the roof. The roof itself would be covered with grass, creating an appealing outside green space for students. This aspect of the plan fits neatly into the mayor’s push for schools to go green, and hopefully this will help the school accomplish some of these expensive plans.

Although students echoed many of these ideas when asked how BHSEC’s facilities could be improved, conspicuously left out was any mention of “renovat[ing] the bathrooms to make them not for five year olds.”

Despite the grandeur of the master plan, some students interviewed alluded to something about the dingy physical appearance of BHSEC that is incredibly charming—we all know how alarming it was to return from February break to find many of the hallways retiled.

As one student said, “I like Bard just the way it is.” Many cherish the quirky entrance and the disturbing color of the hallways, but few admitted they would object to a column-less gym.




Melanie Steinhardt ’09 and Sarah Marlow ’08

Whatever happened to all the actors from Freaks and Geeks?

Ah, Freaks and Geeks! One of the greatest television shows of our time met its untimely demise in 2000. But where are its great stars now?

Linda Cardellini, (Lindsay Weir) had a short stint on “Boy Meets World” as Cory Matthews’ ski-resort love interest. She was trumped by Topanga and is now a regular on TV’s “ER.”

James Franco (Daniel Desario) rose to fame as Peter Parker’s villainous best friend in the Spider-Man movies, and now has two films about to be released .

Seth Rogen (Ken Miller), Jason Segel (Nick Andopolis), and Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck) worked together on last summer’s “Knocked Up,” and each have their own projects as well.

Busy Phillips (Kim Kelly) has guest starred on “ER” and “How I Met Your Mother,” and is in “Made of Honor” opposite Patrick Dempsey, coming out this year.

Dave Allen (Jeff Rosso) acts for Nickelodeon’s “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” and has the film “Largo” coming out in 2008.

Sarah Hagan, (Millie Kentner) has guest starred on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Close to Home,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” She also has two films coming out in 2008.

Samm Levine (Neal Schweiber) guest starred on “Veronica Mars,” “Family Guy”, and “Entourage,” and is working on the movie “Prep School.”

John Francis Daley (Sam Weir) has also had many guest-starring roles, on “Bones,” “Judging Amy,” “Kitchen Confidential.” He starred in a sitcom which ran approximately one night before it closed.

(1) What should I wear tomorrow? (2)Where should I go to college? (3)What is my hair doing? (4) Am I a crazy person? (5) What is the meaning of life?

My my, grasshopper. What a handful of questions!

1. Clothes. We know you’ll be reading this a while after you asked this, but the answer is always clothes. We hope you were able to read our minds and opted for clothing in general. Don’t worry about looking perfect all the time.

2. Ah, college. Smarlow is going to Hearst (Major: photography ; roommate: Veronica Mars), and Msteinhardt plans to attend Beauxbatons (Major: correcting Rowling’s Latin; roommate: Fleur Delacour). Don’t worry, there is a place for everyone. College is what you make of it, which means it’s going to be TOTALLY AWESOME. If you’re still having trouble deciding, we hear there is an opening at Shale University since Bam Bam was expelled for clubbing too hard.

3. We are fairly confident that it is just being hair. It has been kind of humid, though, so it’s quite possible your hair is very Screech-like. It happens to the best of us. Sorry!

4. We don’t think you’re crazy. We do suggest limiting your coffee intake, though.

5. See Dr. Matthews.

How should I react to the Frisbee team’s new uniforms? I’m a little frightened, but don’t know what to do or how to act around them.

You’re right: the Bard Barian uniforms are a tad bit disturbing. The bloody numbers. The color scheme. The fact that the mascot is holding not just a frisbee, but a sword, too. But if your fright starts to overcome you, just remember these two things: the man on the front has one very large flipper instead of two legs, and the shirts are way too tight on every single player.

And remember, kids, if anyone starts to blather about April showers bringing May flowers, make sure to pipe up with a “And May flowers bring Pilgrims!” For more cheesy jokes, cheesy recipes, or cheesy gift ideas, we are here at your service.


Smarlow and Msteinhardt

smarlow@bhsec.net msteinhardt@bhsec.net




Sarah Marlow ’08

On April 30th, an unidentified man walked onto the stage in BHSEC’s auditorium, handcuffed. He paced for a while, muttering about getting more dope. He got his much-needed fix, and then proceeded to hang himself on the stage.

This was the dramatic prelude to the “Vision Warrior,” Scot Anthony Robinson (aka Scotty Rock). For the next three hours, Scotty Rock recounted his many troubles with drugs, starting with his first encounter with marijuana when he was eleven. Long story short, marijuana severed as a “gateway drug” for Scotty Rock, and he ended up overdosing on cocaine (and stabbing himself) while he was in college. After graduating from SUNY Purchase, Robinson became an acting coach and worked on some high profile films like Malcolm X. His drug habit worsened, and after a stint in LA he ended up spending a year on the streets of Alphabet City. After two years of rehab he emerged as the Vision Warrior, ready to lead the youth of America away from the dangers of drug and alcohol use.

Despite some novelty (“Aaaayoo…Aight!”) and repeated declarations of love for the collective student body, Scotty Rock’s message came across pretty clearly: don’t do drugs. Don’t even think about doing drugs. “Because even if you’re an ‘Xpert,’ it only takes one time to kill you.”

Behind this relatively simple message was his emotionally compelling personal story. “I am just like you” was an oft-repeated phrase, and Scotty Rock took pains to illustrate how a kid like him from a good family still got caught up in some bad business. He used his own descent into cocaine, heroin and despondency as evidence that one should not smoke marijuana or drink alcohol, because that is where he started. To use an imperfect analogy, it was a little like being warned not to drive by a reckless driver who had been in a near fatal accident.

When students asked what he thought about the moderate use of alcohol or drugs, Scotty Rock ignored the essence of the question and gave another anecdote about overdosing and other excesses. The response eluded the inquiry, but the message was clear: moderation is a myth.

But what is the harm in having some one tell you not to do drugs (again and again)? After all, peer pressure theorists believe that we are constantly being hounded to chug, smoke, snort, shoot—isn’t it a good thing to have the angel on our right shoulder whispering wholesome advice in our ear?

Certainly. I have no doubt that some students were touched by the Vision Warrior’s performance and will be wise about future use of drugs and alcohol as a result. What alienated other students was Scotty Rock’s narrow focus on the extremes and disregard for moderate views.

One student asked about drinking a little alcohol at family parties with parents present. He responded by taking a straw poll of how many people had ever seen a family party go bad. I’m sorry, but here at BHSEC we are taught not to allow such questionable reasoning pass for a cogent argument. Such reasoning earns “see me” comments on papers.

Maybe the Vision Warrior was somewhat inhibited by the representatives of the Partnership for a Drug Free America present in the auditorium, or maybe he earnestly believes in the strict abstinence I assume he imposes on himself today. To be sure, his message may deter the future binger from taking that umpteenth shot, but alcohol is legal once we turn twenty-one, and unless all Bardians decide to become teetotalers, we’re going to have to learn about moderation and limits sometime.




Matthew Goldman ’11

In keeping with BHSEC’s tradition of ancient plays with fanciful costumes (remember The Bacchae?), students produced a dazzling Jesus Christ Superstar, which debuted on March 14th.

To a full crowd, the chorus opened up with the first number and the show was underway. It was clear from the start that this play was well cast. The chorus could sing, Judas sounded identical to the CD version I’ve heard in the past, and between hair, voice, and charisma there couldn’t have been anyone more compelling to watch as Jesus, more engaged in the role, than 10th grader Nathan Campbell.

For a show produced and directed exclusively by students, the acting was surprisingly strong. The actors made it clear that they all took their roles very seriously, immersing themselves in their roles with ease and believability to guide even unfamiliar audience members into Nazareth.

The costumes in the play were noteworthy: I can honestly say I’ve never seen a Judas in skinny jeans before, and I can honestly say I loved it.

As far as acting, singing, and exotic dancing goes, the cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar” was certainly not short on talent. Sophomore Sonia Feigelson captivated the audience with her rich voice and range; Oliver Kalb ’10 sang the beguiling character of Judas with proficiency and dedication; and Mr. Campbell met and exceeded expectations.

A stellar chorus complemented the main actors well. From hawking goods on the streets of Jerusalem in the number “The Temple” to getting downright dirty in “Herod’s Song,” the choristers – guys and girls – superbly reflected the spirit, essence and desires of all the characters in this dynamic show. Sophomore Cory Switzer even got to show off his talent on the electric guitar, jamming a quick, powerful session in the role of God.

Occasionally, Jesus Christ Superstar showed the inevitable teenage flub. There was a minor technical mess-up, a microphone glitch that sent a searing note of white noise through the crowd.

Though Campbell, as Jesus, proclaims that it’s been “three years that feel like ninety,” this production of Jesus Christ Superstar lasted for just under two hours that felt like twenty minutes. I guess time flies when you’re having fun—watching a crucifixion on a Friday night? It doesn’t get much more fun than that.




Talor Gruenwald ’08

Ultimate Frisbee

The Bard Barians hold a strong record of 8-2, including two wins against rival Stuyvesant, the three-time New York City champion, which has secured them a spot in the New York City playoffs.

A heated game (11-15) against Beacon resulted in their Ultimate team receiving a severe warning from their principal after reports of Beacon supporters shouting racial epithets reached the administration of BHSEC. The Beacon Ultimate team was told that they would be disbanded if more reports came in. The second game was consequently very amiable, with the Barians losing.

Despite the loss, Co-Captain Christian Gaffney ’08 still feels very confident about this season’s prospects. When asked for comment, he opined, “The Bard Barians are the Beowulf of Ultimate Frisbee, riding a wingaling dragon down the free-love freeway to a flawless record of wins and near wins.”

The team is confident that they will perform well in the finals.

Girls’ Soccer

As newcomers to the PSAL A Division, the team is stronger than ever but, unfortunately, so are its adversaries. So far the team is 2-6, although many games have been decided by a single point. Co-Captain Mahala Greene ’09 attributed the three year-old team’s rocky season to the tougher competition. “We’re still getting adjusted to the A Division,” she said


With a 4-6 record, Captain Elliot Lopes ’09 is optimistic about the season. “Despite our record, we’ve been playing well,” he said. “We also have a young team while most of the teams we play have many seniors. Next year we won’t be losing anybody and it looks like some other teams will, so things look good for next season.”

The team is currently ranked fourth in the B Division. They had a very good match against Environmental Studies on Thursday, April 10th, though they lost. They played well despite missing their Co-Captain, Lucas Howard. Elliot felt that the match was a confidence-booster and hopes to see more wins in the future.

“It doesn’t really matter whether we win or lose,” said Elliot, “mainly that we’re playing hard and getting better.”

The Girls’ Tennis Team has unfortunately not won any matches, attributing the losses to their A Division standing.




Elizabeth Vulaj ’08

It’s not easy being green, but luckily all of us at BHSEC are getting a helping hand at it. The Eco (Environmental Conservation Organization) Club is working hard to make this school, and the neighborhood, a cleaner, greener place.

Unlike armchair extracurricular clubs that just gripe a lot (the Bardvark?), Eco members are not afraid of getting their hands dirty. During meetings members don white gloves and get down to the nitty-gritty. The club’s primary goal is simply to sort through all of the trash bins in the school during each meeting, yet it proves to be a daunting task for fifty minutes. Usually, the club gets to about two or three floors.

“If we could get a few more hands, it could take 15 minutes to get through the whole school,” says Chiara Zaccheo ’09, a club president.

Club members have spoken with the custodial staff about the lack of recycling bins at BHSEC, which they call a “long term problem” that will take time to rectify. Members want to put as many bins out for different types of trash-paper, cans, food, etc—yet they realize that will end up being more work for the custodians.

“We’re trying to get janitors to put more bins out,” Eco member Ben Goliff ’11 says.

But the Eco Club is more than a bunch of good Samaritans who aren’t afraid to sift through soda cans, printer errors and rotten apple cores. The club is coordinating with the Student Activist Network to set a day to clean up trash in a nearby park. Talia Bosco and Zaccheo are working to create a day where all interested BHSEC students can ride their bicycles to school.

“Hopefully from that experience people will begin doing more of that,” says Zaccheo.

The goal is to make people more aware of how their actions affect the environment, and how the little things we do can make a big difference. The club is also trying to get an outdoors corporation such as Eastern Mountain Sports or Paragon to sponsor each biker, with raised funds going toward environmental causes.

Earlier this the year, the club had a Supersmash Brothers tournament to raise money. “We got 25 kids to sign up and we made 85 dollars,” says member Sam Levine ’10. “We also had a bake sale that sold only all natural foods.”

The Eco Club is already making noticeable changes in BHSEC’s attitude towards the environment, yet there is always room for a few more people—and the helping hands to get through that trash.




Will Glovinsky ’08

David Kirby, author of the best-selling book Evidence of Harm, visited BHSEC on Wednesday, April 31, to discuss the vaccine-autism controversy with students enrolled in the course “Cultural Politics of Medicine.”

Mr. Kirby, a journalist, outlined the evidence suggesting that high amounts of mercury in vaccines may help trigger autism in children with certain genetic dispositions. While maintaining that vaccines remain a vital part of modern medicine, Mr. Kirby says that immunization shots for young children should be administered over a longer time period to minimize the effects of mercury on their bodies. According to current medical practice, it is not uncommon for a baby to receive up to five or six vaccinations in a single day.

“These kids sometimes receive hundreds of times the mercury limit prescribed by the EPA,” he said.

A hotly contested issue, the vaccine-autism link is not proven in existing medical literature, although Mr. Kirby and others (including some parents of children with autism) argue that there are many unexplained correlations and that the medical science community has not explored the possible connection fully.

To support the claim that increased exposure to mercury can cause autism in some children, Mr. Kirby cited a study that showed how incidence of autism increased in households closer to a mercury-emitting power plant.

“That’s a direct correlation,” said Mr. Kirby.

The possibility of a link between vaccines and autism has raised the profile of the “vaccine court,” a no-fault litigation system in which parents can receive federal dollars to help pay for special treatment, education and other autism-related expenses without proving the culpability of drug companies.

Mr. Kirby has reported extensively on parents’ suits brought before the vaccine court, including the case of Hannah Poling, who began to show autism-like symptoms after receiving nine vaccinations in one day. Her father, a neuroscientist, believes that the excessive mercury, combined with a rare mitochondrial disorder, could have triggered her autism. Poling’s case was settled out of court.

The Poling case, which Mr. Kirby described as a “perfect storm” of converging factors, has raised the possibility that the vaccine-autism link may depend on the child having the mitochondrial disorder. Mr. Kirby pointed out that if this genetic disposition were screened for at birth, children with the problematic genes could opt out of vaccination. Such a move would still preserve the 90% vaccination rate required for herd immunity.

Mr. Kirby discussed how the rise in autism in the past decades corresponds with the increased number of vaccines that children receive.

“When I was a kid,” he said, “you didn’t hear about any autistic kids.” The rate today is one in 150 American children.

Students in the audience were quick to ask if the perceived rise in autism rates could actually be better diagnostic testing and increased awareness in general of mental disorders. Mr. Kirby admitted that this was a possible explanation for some autism cases, but did not account for what he called the explosion of diagnoses.

Concluding his remarks, Mr. Kirby cautioned students to seek out the truth in matters such as autism, about which there is very little hard medical knowledge.

“People, especially the government, often want to say that these things just happen,” he said. “Sometimes these things don’t just happen.”




Will Glovinsky ’08

In 2003, Snapple Inc. paid $166 million dollars to New York City in exchange for exclusive rights to sell its beverages in city schools. Officials, worried about rising child obesity rates, praised the “sponsorship” as one more step in the city’s plan to limit students’ soft drink intake.

And so, in every New York public school, soda vending machines were carted out and replaced with Snapple machines that offered water—long a staple of automated vending—in the form of Snap2O, and assorted fruit juices from Snapple’s 100% Juiced! line.

Health conscious parents rejoiced, and students were able to toast to their health with a cool can of Green Apple, Strawberry Lime or Fruit Punch Snapple Juices.

But look no further than the Nutrition Facts box to see how a 100% Juiced! can measures up to a good ole 12 oz. of Coca-Cola: Coke has 30 fewer Calories than the Snapple. So much for stymieing childhood obesity.

Snapple also has slightly more sugar (40g) than Coke (39g) and three grams more Total Carbohydrates.

On the other hand, Snapple’s 100% Juiced! drinks have less sodium than Coke, no caffeine, and are fortified with some Vitamin A and E, calcium and a whopping full day’s dosage of Vitamin C. The 100% Juiced! drinks come from a medley of fruit juice concentrates, therefore deriving their sugar content from fruits as opposed to Coke’s high fructose corn syrup.

So which is better for you? Dr. Brian Carter, professor of chemistry at BHSEC, says that there is no clear nutritional winner. Citing Snapple’s vitamin fortification, he says, “If kids are getting no fruits or vegetables, this is better than nothing.”

“The real issue here is the caffeine; you don’t want to give caffeine to kids,” adds Dr. Carter. (Coke also comes in caffeine free varieties.) Beyond that, he says that 100% Juiced! and Coke look relatively similar nutritionally.

Dr. Carter was quick to point out, however, how the Snapple packaging makes the consumer, especially the student consumer, believe in Snapple’s wholesomeness. “It’s all marketing, of course,” he says of the Snapple can’s friendly, fruit-filled graphics. “But people often forget how much sugar is in juice.”

Of course, no nutritionist would recommend Coca-Cola, but given the higher caloric content of 100% Juiced!, it seems absurd to promote Snapple’s products instead. Hopefully the future will offer healthier alternatives for thirsty students. If not, there are water fountains located on each floor.




Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

In April, the Department of Education announced that BHSEC would receive a final grade of B in the citywide school report card. Students, parents and staff were unsure whether to rejoice at the good news—BHSEC received a tentative C earlier this year—or deplore the altogether unrepresentative grading system.

“Whatever yardstick you use for one [school] won’t work for the others,” said Mr. Peterson, BHSEC’s principal.

The citywide grading system grades schools on three criteria: school environment, student performance, and student progress. BHSEC received the highest rating in school environment, but this accounts for only 15% of the grade.

BHSEC, like other top schools, had trouble with the DOE’s emphasis on student improvement. These high-performing schools, such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, were allowed to scrape up bonus points by counting the large numbers of Regents exams and Advanced Placement courses that their students take. BHSEC only requires five regents exams and offers no AP courses as the college program is a rough equivalent to an all AP curriculum except that instructors are generally college professors.

“We don’t care about regents exams. They’re meaningless. They don’t measure what we do here,” Mr. Peterson said.

BHSEC also has a slightly low average GPA. The school’s rigorous curriculum challenges 9th and 10th graders who have all received various amounts of middle school preparation, and around 10-15 percent of students transfer to a different school before BHSEC’s college program.

Attendance could have been better. BHSEC has a lower documented attendance rate than its peer schools, 91 percent versus 97 percent. (BHSEC’s peer schools, including the Lab School, Stuyvesant, and Eleanor Roosevelt, make up its “peer horizon,” a group of schools with similar student bodies.)

Nevertheless, BHSEC students generally do very well throughout their four years, making the crux of the grading controversy the DOE’s refusal to recognize the Associate of Arts as a more than satisfactory substitute for Regents and AP credits. That is the “ironic, sad part of the assessment,” said Mr. Peterson, “How can you show progress if you’re doing well already?”

According to BHSEC’s Quality Review Report for 2006-2007, the school needs to “develop a systematic and sustainable approach to self-evaluation to help identify and build strategies for implementation and improvement.” The DOE’s advice: improve our improvement strategy.

Mr. Peterson stressed the need for a new grading system. He said that BHSEC should be measured based on student’s success after they graduate, and whether students complete college programs. “You know how to write papers when you come out of here,” said Mr. Peterson. “The ability to synthesize, analyze…edit, organize” is the most important component of college readiness.

BHSEC is open to different forms of rankings. The school does welcome the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a college rating team that writes narratives and consistently gives BHSEC high marks. Additionally, 9th grade students periodically do writing exercises which are used to assess improvement in their writing skills and to collect other useful data. The Inquiry Committee, composed of BHSEC staff, assesses the writing and applies number values to the narratives based on their own rubric. The number values are given to the DOE for data crunching.

BHSEC has also tried to create a follow-up tool that measures how well alumnae perform in four year colleges. In the past, only 70 percent of students have responded to the surveys BHSEC sends out, rendering the data incomplete. However, all BHSEC graduates who attend CUNY or SUNY schools can be tracked through their transcripts.

When asked whether the B grade would have an impact on admissions, Mr. Peterson replied, “It might have an effect on families that come from backgrounds where they don’t understand the meaninglessness of [the DOE’s] progress reports.” Less savvy parents, especially non-English speakers, might not be able to navigate the maze of contradictory information that obfuscates the admissions process.

Many students dismissed the grading system altogether. “You couldn’t really put a grade on Bard, because it’s so different,” said Sam Levine, a 10th grader. Angus Hamilton, an 8th grader who will be attending BHSEC next year, said he didn’t know about the letter grade, and that it makes no difference in his opinion of the school.


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