L.E.T.: LET’S EXCHANGE THOUGHTS
Melanie Steinhardt ’09 and James Marlow ‘12
For those unfamiliar with features of The Bardvark, L.E.T. is an advice column of sorts. However, seeing as both of its authors, James “Small” Marlow (Smarlow) and Melanie “M” Steinhardt (Msteinhardt) are distant relations of mountain gurus, the questions received are not strictly asking for advice. So welcome back to BHSEC, welcome to The Bardvark, and welcome to the new year of exchanging thoughts!
Why is Mr. Peterson so tall?
Mr. Peterson is tall for many reasons. These include the fact that he (a) always ate his vegetables, (b) never drank coffee, and (c) is the son of Roald Dahl’s “mythical” character, the Big Friendly Giant. If you’ve heard that BHSEC moved from its original home in Brooklyn to its current Lower East Side location because the Brooklyn building was too cramped, you heard correctly. But that is only part of the story: the building was actually only too cramped for Mr. Peterson. The high ceilings and doorways of a former New York City elementary school were perfect for our vertically inclined principal, and now he is a happier person. And a happy principal makes for very happy students.
I want to impress a girl with my sweet dance moves, but I haven’t got any. What do I do?!
Smarlow suggests that you use the power of YouTube to learn how to dance. The inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines will show you how to dance to Thriller, Do the Hustle, Low, U Can’t Touch This, and various other dance songs, while wearing their signature neon orange jumpsuits! All of these cultural crazes are performed by the inmates with masterful choreography and utmost respect for the art of dancing. Once you master these moves, you will be UNSTOPPABLE on the dance floor! If you need further instruction, Msteinhardt strongly recommends watching the last episode of Freaks and Geeks, “Discos and Dragons,” to derive some inspiration from the always graceful Jason Segel.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop™?
This equation is impossible to solve scientifically, because of the infinite possible variables: size of Tootsie Pop™ (is it a super size?), size of mouth eating the lollipop, and amount of saliva in aforementioned mouth. However, Msteinhardt (also known as BHSEC’s resident junk food connoisseur) once counted licks for her own chocolate Tootsie Pop™. Results: about 600 to get to the center. If you’re simply lazy, you could always ask Mr. Owl, the foremost expert on Tootsie Pop studies—but we all know he just can’t resist biting into the chewy center!
While we continue to research life’s deepest dilemmas for the next month or so, we highly recommend that you send us questions! Remember, we’ll answer anything from inquiries about ecological Judaism to problems concerning Dr. Matthews’ philosophy boot camp, and everything in between. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, or even post your queries on our wildly popular Facebook group! See you next month!
FILM REVIEW “GHOST TOWN” (PG-13, 103 MINUTES)
En-Szu Hu-van Wright ‘09
The romantic comedy has gotten a pretty bad reputation in the past few years, thanks in no small part to a tide of mercilessly cheesy, excessively vulgar films flooding theaters (ninety percent of which seem to feature Matthew McConaughey). “Ghost Town”, however, manages to avoid the pitfalls of the modern-day genre thanks to phenomenal acting, a witty script, and a big dose of genuine heart that has been missing from the screen for far too long.
Written by David Koepp (of Spider-Man ¬ and Spielberg blockbuster fame) in collaboration with John Kamps, “Ghost Town” tips its hat at old-school romantic comedy. Less slapstick and more dialogue-driven, the movie flows seamlessly and is incredibly believable (perhaps because the protagonist bears an eerie resemblance to my own childhood dentist, who also had an Upper East Side office). The plot is clear and concise, allowing the actors’ talent to shine through.
Ricky Gervais (“The Office”) is convincing as Bertram Pincus, a dentist whose misanthropic antics leave him isolated by choice. When he dies for seven minutes during the middle of a routine colonoscopy, he leaves the hospital only to discover that he can see and hear the dead. These dead folks all have ‘unfinished business’ preventing them from reaching their final rest. Upon learning that Pincus can both hear and see them, they begin to follow him in hoards, trying to persuade him to settle their affairs. One such follower is Frank Herlihey (Greg Kinnear), a sleazy corporate type who was hit by a bus in an effort to avoid a falling air conditioner. He manages to weasel his way to the front of the crowd, constantly badgering Pincus to help his cause: Frank’s widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni), is about to marry a human-right’s lawyer that Frank is convinced is Mr. Wrong (even without any tangible proof). Pincus eventually gives in to Frank’s persistent nagging and attempts to help by opening up to Gwen. When Pincus begins to fall in love, however, things begin to get complicated and go awry.
This witty movie hits all the right notes, never getting too ridiculous or sappy. Gervais does a marvelous job in his big-screen debut, keeping the character of Pincus alive and believable throughout the film. Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni play the slick suit and slightly eccentric Egyptologist with zest and style. Although the chemistry between the three is nearly perfect, Kinnear really steals the show, illustrating how far he has come since him “As Good As It Gets” days.
Of course, like all films, “Ghost Town” has its flaws. One was particularly obvious: the camera work was a wreck. There were moments when I expected someone to announce we were watching not the film but a blooper reel. In addition to the microphone bobbing in and out of view throughout the entire film, characters’ faces were half cut off by the camera in certain scenes. There was even a scene in which a good three inches of nude-colored briefs covering a “naked” character were clearly showing. These imperfections ruined the effect of the movie and broke the audience’s concentration.
What it lacked in camera work, however, the film made up for in the amazing backdrop of autumnal Manhattan. The soundtrack also complemented the film perfectly with mood-setting gems such as John Mayer’s “Heart of Life.”
“Ghost Town” is a low-budget film that manages to outshine bigger productions. It was able to recapture what Hollywood has lost: a romantic comedy with sincerity.
FIGHTING THE CLICHÉ
Juliet Glazer ’12
Last Sunday I went to see the documentary “American Teen” with my friends, not expecting to return home nearly so downcast. The film, which follows the lives of five high school seniors in the Midwest, greatly lowered my expectations for my next four years of high school (though, admittedly, BHSEC is an entirely different setting).
The filmmakers chose five very different seniors from a school in Warsaw, Indiana, a tiny town in a state introduced in the beginning of the film as “a red state all the way.” Megan is the ultra-popular cheerleader who must get into the same college that her whole family has gone to. Colin, the basketball star of the town, can only go to college if he gets a basketball scholarship. There’s Jake, the nerd who plays in the marching band, is addicted to video games, and is extremely awkward with girls. Lastly, there’s Hannah, by far the most relatable character, an artsy outcast by choice who probably wouldn’t be an outcast at all at Bard. Near the end of the movie, she ends up in a relationship with one of the guys on the basketball team, Mitch, who tries unsuccessfully to bridge the social gap to be with her. The characters and their stories are all so cliché that it amazed me that they could exist in flesh and blood.
The plot line takes dark and treacherous turns for most of the characters. Megan tries to avenge her fellow-classmates for not picking her theme for prom, and almost jeopardizes everything for herself. Colin’s father puts so much pressure on him to get a scholarship that he nearly blows it. Jake breaks up with his girlfriend, but his life is so unfulfilling that it doesn’t have much of an impact. Towards the beginning of the movie, Hannah breaks up with her boyfriend of several years and falls into such a deep depression that she doesn’t come to school for almost a month. Basically, the kids are horrifyingly mean to each other, their parents don’t seem to care, and everyone is miserable. They don’t appear to be enjoying high school at all and are extremely relieved to escape at the end of senior year.
American Teen was much more main-stream than my notion of a typical documentary (the monotonous voice of a narrator droning on about a battle or a national park, set to some serious music). The plotline has been so overused (albeit this time it was real), that I could predict every twist and turn.
The movie presented a surprisingly interesting comparison between fictional teen movies and Middle American teen reality, which, according to the documentary, can be hauntingly similar. Because I saw the film just one week into freshman year of high school, I think I took away something very different than the average viewer. For most, seeing the movie was probably a chance to reminisce about their high school years, distant enough to be humorous. For me, however, it was almost frightening to see what high school actually is like for some people. I’m not too worried though – I have faith that the BHSEC experience will be very different from the teenage experience at a small-town school in the middle of nowhere.
WRITING AND THINKING, INTEGRATED
Sam Levine ‘10
The brand new floor tiling and spanking new corner classrooms weren’t the only changes awaiting students on the first day of school.
In the past, BHSEC’s annual Writing and Thinking workshop has divided the high school and college programs. But this year, students from all four grades participated together in free-writes and poetry explosions.
While the decision to integrate all four grades was prompted by a changing advisory structure and budget cuts, Writing and Thinking planners hoped that placing students from the college program and the high school program together would provide older students with an opportunity to mentor the 9th graders and take on a leading role in their groups.
“ We hoped that the Year 2’s would take on a bigger initiative in their groups and become more active in their learning,” said Mr. Peterson.
“ We’re trying to shake things up and bring a new energy to writing and thinking,” added Dr. Lerner.
Both Mr. Peterson and Dr. Lerner have described the feedback from writing and thinking group leaders as “overwhelmingly positive” and say that they will continue the integrated model in next year’s workshop. Yet, while most students in the college program said that they liked the new grouping model, they were unsure if they would stick with it if given the choice.
“Last year I didn’t even get to meet the 9th graders, and now I feel really disconnected with [this year’s] 10th grade. But this year I actually got to talk to them and feel like I can relate to them a little more,” said Abe Arambolo, a Year 2. “But I felt like a lot of the workshop questions were directed at making the 9th graders feel comfortable, and I could have been doing something that really helped me as a senior, like working on my college essay.”
Gideon Salzman-Gubbay, a Year 1, also felt that the integrated groups helped him connect with younger grades, but would have liked to have spent more time becoming integrated into the college community.
“It’s important to integrate with the 9th graders, because you can relate to their uneasiness and you already start to build a sense of a school community,” he said “but on the other hand, I was really looking forward to getting to know the kids in my classes, the kids that I interact with and have discussions with on a daily basis.”
Several students suggested that next years workshop be broken up into sessions with all four grades, and then smaller sections with only college students or only high school students. This would give students the opportunity to have discussions with students across all four grades, as well as in their own intimate communities.
Julian Fox-Spector, a Year 1, said that while he was “disappointed” that he wasn’t introduced to the college program during Writing and Thinking, working with 9th graders gave him a chance to reflect on his own learning experience at BHSEC.
“ It definitely makes you realize how far you’ve come,” he said.
ELIASSON’S WATERFALLS: NATURE’S RIVALS?
Lauren Crawford ‘12
In nature, waterfalls are considered one of the most beautiful things the earth has to offer. But can an artificial waterfall measure up? In the tradition of Christo’s orange gates in Central Park, New York City has installed a new art exhibit: synthetic waterfalls flowing from an immense metal structure. The waterfalls, by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, are sponsored by the Public Art Fund, which is dedicated to showing art exhibitions in public places throughout the City for short periods of time (the waterfalls will be on exhibit from June 26- October 13, 2008). Altogether there are eight waterfalls along the East river, four on lower Manhattan, three directly across the river in Brooklyn and one on Governor’s Island.
The only resemblance these waterfalls bear to nature’s is the water cascading down from them. While nature’s waterfalls are made of stones, the artificial ones are made of scaffolding materials. Eliasson chose to work with these materials to accentuate the city’s ubiquitous construction sites. The water comes from intake filter pools in the East River, which are enclosed in a fine mesh to keep out aquatic life. From the pools, water is pumped up through a pipe into wide, slanted troughs, allowing the water to flow back into the intake filter pools. This design enables the waterfalls to churn 35,000 gallons of water per minute, or an incredible 2,100,000 gallons per hour.
Fortunately, all the energy used to move the water is generated from renewable resources. While some aspects of the design are environmentally friendly, the waterfalls still cause damage. Salt-water mist from the river has hurt the waterfront plants surrounding Eliasson’s structures. Although the Public Art Fund has taken steps to keep the plants free of salt water, such as washing the tree roots daily and installing an anemometer (wind meter) that shuts off the water as soon as the weather conditions get severe, the damage may be permanent. Eliasson’s imitation of nature is not so nature-friendly.
Due to the plant destruction, the waterfalls are not universally popular. The Brooklyn Heights Association has fought to have the waterfalls removed by Labor Day instead of October 13, the scheduled date for disassembling. Furthermore, some viewers find the structure itself unattractive: during the daytime the waterfalls look like they belong in a construction site, and the water pumped up from the river is brown and dirty.
During the night, however, the waterfalls are a spectacle to behold; the sparkling water gleams against the city horizon, rendering the daytime eye-sore magnificent. One thing is for certain; nothing can imitate nature.
BEYOND THE PALE-IN
Jack Jenkins ‘12
Did you catch Sarah’s speech at the Republican Convention? Wasn’t she just electrifying? She was so confident, and she read her speech off those Teleprompters like a pro! She took on those good old boys in the Great White North, and told Congress, “Thanks but no thanks to that Bridge to Nowhere.” She looks after us tax payers. I was so impressed by the way she sold that luxury jet on eBay; she’s such a doer.
I love that she’s so down-to-earth. Just imagine what she and McCain will be like running this country! Watch out lobbyists and irresponsible community organizers! She’s going to sink those teeth in and never let go. And what about her husband, that super-hunky world-champion snowmobiler? That first dude is going to drive that snowmobile all the way to the capital and squash all of those corrupt Washington insiders.
But the thing that I love most about Sarah is that she’s just like me. She’s the executive of an all-American family with all-American problems. I like that. And anyway, who wants a president that’s smarter than he is? I don’t! I want somebody I can relate to.
All kidding aside, I wrote this monologue to illustrate the essence of the Republican campaign strategy. John McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis said, “This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” In other words, the Republicans have set this election up as a personality contest.
McCain’s campaign hoped that the first impression Palin made at Republican convention would drown out the questions raised in follow-up analysis and investigation of the claims she made in her speech. Did she really sell her jet on the internet? She said, “I put it on eBay.” People loved that line, so it didn’t matter when the facts came out that the plane didn’t sell initially, and that she ended up unloading it to a private buyer for half a million dollars. Not exactly the “profit” McCain imagined she made for the people of Alaska and bragged about in a stump speech. He, like many others, was misguided by Palin’s half-truth. Even Palin’s own running mate was taken in by the Republican strategy! Palin was presented as a no-nonsense moose-shooting-earmark-hating-hockey-mom maverick. And if you like that package, it’s prettier unopened.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, the financial crisis is causing voters to finally look beyond personality and into the issues. People are afraid that they will lose their jobs and homes. I hope that this wake-up call won’t just be temporary. If there’s a thin silver lining to this dark cloud of economic uncertainty, it is that, for this election, voters may reject the Republican strategy and vote for the ticket that they believe has the best chance of solving our nation’s increasingly serious problems.
ARE THE FRESHMEN STEALING OUR PLANNERS?
Mahala Greene ‘09
As BHSEC-ers lined the hallways once again for the start of a new school year, there was much murmuring about the size of the incoming freshman class. It is indeed BHSEC’s largest class, banking in at 162 students, almost 60 more than last year’s freshman class. This large number is not the result of a conscious effort made by the admissions office. Rather, every year BHSEC admits a certain number of students more than the desired class size, taking into consideration what is referred to as the melt number. Not all rising 9th graders admitted to BHSEC opt to attend. Some go to either private schools or one of the specialized high schools. The staggering number of freshman would seem to suggest that fewer and fewer students are making that decision, and that more and more are choosing BHSEC.
Mr. Peterson and Dr. Lerner attribute this phenomenon both to BHSEC’s increasing popularity and to the present state of the economy. Students who once might have gone to private schools are now deciding on the free and equally prestigious education BHSEC offers. The limited number of science classes at the beginning of the year and rumors of a dearth of student planners caused many to question how well BHSEC is handling this influx of students. However, Dr. Lerner asserts that the lack of science classes for some and the slightly larger classes for others are due to the budget cuts being felt throughout the DOE, not to the enormous ninth grade. Due to limited funding, BHSEC was unable to hire a teacher to replace science faculty member Dr. Brian Carter, resulting in a shortage of science classes. In order to absorb the need for another college biology section, one tenth grade science class was dispersed. The tenth grade, which has only 155 students, was luckily able to absorb the burden.
Though Mr. Peterson still pledges a class size average of 20 students, Dr. Lerner concedes that that number is now closer to 22. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that BHSEC is a public school and that the NYC Public School standard is 34 students per classroom, well above any class found at BHSEC. BHSEC also receives a lot of pressure from the DOE to accept more students than it currently does.
As for those planners, it wasn’t a shortage but an inadvertently misplaced box (it got shipped to Stuyvesant) that resulted in the delayed distribution.
LIFE AFTER BHSEC
Zina Huxley-Reicher ‘09
It’s the time of year when looming college application deadlines haunt every Year 2. One quarter of BHSEC’s students are frantically trying to figure out what type of school they want to go to, where they will be able to get in, and whether their education will result in massive debt. But do these months of fussing, researching, and visiting guarantee a good match between student and college?
BHSEC’s class of 2008 has successfully matriculated, and now they are finding out whether they chose wisely. The schools that last year’s seniors attend vary greatly; BHSEC has graduates at Ivies, small liberal art schools, SUNYs, and large universities. BHSEC graduates have also chosen colleges that span the country. I interviewed five students from BHSEC’s class of 2008 to see how they are adjusting to new friends, climates, and programs.
These five students represent wide range of colleges; I spoke to graduates at Swarthmore (a small liberal arts college), SUNY Purchase, Bard, and Brown. They were happy to discuss their classes, college social scenes, and relate their college lives to their BHSEC experiences.
All five students emphasized college academics in their responses. The graduates really value the small discussion-based classes that they were spoiled with at BHSEC. Everyone I spoke to has at least one seminar style class. In general the seminars seem to be going well, but all of the graduates (except for Will Glovinsky at Swarthmore) express slight dissatisfaction with the way the rooms are set up. They also noted that it is more difficult to develop a close relationship with a professor when the classes are large.
However, these problems aren’t past reconciliation; Tara Noble (Brown) has found that “if you sit in the front you barely notice it.” Will Glovinsky described the students in his classes as, “all of the talkers at BHSEC…put into a room” and emphasized that everyone at Swarthmore takes academics very seriously.
Our graduates also seem to be acclimating to the new social scene. They all agree that there are myriad opportunities and chances to do interesting things. Lila El Nagar (SUNY Purchase) listed her extra-curriculars: “Interning at the Purchase television station, radio station sessions, and student government.” Getting involved in new activities is one way BHSEC students are easing into college life.
Everyone commented on the college reading load, and compared it to BHSEC’s. As Will Glovinsky put it, “What we read at BHSEC in two weeks, we read here in two or three classes.” While this seems daunting, it is important to remember that college students take fewer classes than BHSECers, and they do not have to contend with long commutes every morning and afternoon.
College is never exactly what you expect, and the surprises can be positive or negative. For Will Glovinsky, the surprises at Swarthmore were positive. The guide books described a student body full of “passive book worms and no one with any muscle tone”. Will says that many students are actually interested in sports and that everyone knows how to have a good time.
Unfortunately, the surprises for Zoe Noyes (Bard) were not as welcome. She expressed discontent with the community’s lack of diversity: “The people are really white, and I didn’t really realize how much a diverse community is important to me”. Zoe also feels that BHSEC’s community is much more open- minded and intellectually supportive than that of Bard College.
Overall, graduates seem to be enjoying college. Across the board the students I talked to felt that BHSEC had done its duty as an early college; “I got used to college very quickly,” Zane Smith (SUNY Purchase) says. The students all expressed sadness at not returning to BHSEC for another school year. BHSEC is certainly a tough act to follow.
THE MERITS OF A GAP YEAR
Zoe Chaves ‘09
Autumn is an immensely trying time of year for high school seniors. Along with a hefty workload, seniors need to think about applying to colleges, financial aid programs, and scholarships. Even if a students love the subjects they are taking, many start to feel as though they are merely going through the motions, struggling to attain mediocre results.
Tzvi Prochnik, BHSEC class of 2008, began to feel as though he had lost his sense of direction and zeal for learning during the fall of his senior year. “I had no real idea where I wanted to go [to college] and what I wanted to do with my life. I had some subjects I was interested in like writing and history but I wasn´t really passionate about either of them,” he said.
Tzvi didn’t want to waste $40,000 on a year of college if he wasn’t going to make the most of it. This notion, along with his disconnect, inspired him to consider a taking
a gap year before college.
“Both my parents were really supportive of my decision to take a year off coming from a school like Bard which is so based on studying, they agreed that I should take a break” Tzvi related. While they want him to pursue a higher education, Tvzi’s parents recognized that real-life experience might restore his interest in work and give him
direction in his studies.
Tzvi also hopes for these things, but even more, he wants time that is his for the spending: “BHSEC… made me waste a lot of time studying and stressing when I could have been having a great time … I may be more knowledgeable … But I wasn´t really appreciating as much as I could have been had I studied it later in life. I mean in BHSEC … I wanted to party and not do work. Like honestly, when are you gonna have a chance to do that if not in high school? College you will, but you´re paying tons of money, and so if you waste it all partying you´re basically wasting your time there.”
To combat these pressures, Tzvi organized his gap year very loosely. He is currently in Cusco, Peru, where he takes Spanish classes in the mornings and then heads over to a local orpganage to teach English. He expects to spend about five months in Cusco.
Beyond Peru, Tzvi doesn’t know where the year will take him. He didn’t schedule the latter half of his time so that he could have the Freedom to either travel on his own, work for another South American community service program, or work on a farm in Europe.
Tzvi also wants to return to New York City in time to hold a paying job before heading to Lewis and Clark College in Oregon next fall.
“When are we going to go experience the real world if studying is all we do?” Tzvi asks. If this question resonates with you, you may want to consider taking a gap year after BHSEC.
Mahala Greene ’09
BHSEC is renowned for many of its attributes, from its rigorous academic program to its diverse student body. However, one of its hidden secrets is the sports program that has developed primarily through student activism. My goal is to try and shed light on the many athletic teams and clubs that are taking BHSEC’s reputation past academia.
Boys Soccer – Looking to be PSAL Champs!
The boys’ soccer team has gotten off to a great start, winning its first four games, three of which were crushing shutout victories. The Raptors are in first place above Bayard Rustin, and it looks like nothing will slow them down. The turnaround in the past two seasons is attributed both to Coach Winston Mckoy and to the four starting freshmen the team picked up last year, three of which are on the New York State team. Those players, along with talented goaltender Sam Embry, who has only let in one goal this season, have expectations running high. As Ian Henderson-Charnau, a senior on the team, has promised, “we are winning city [championships].”
Girls Volleyball –Bumping Up and Striking Hard
New coach Irma Munoz has the Girl’s Volleyball team on the path to success. She has revamped their practices, working hard to teach the Raptors the essential skills that will increase their success on the court. As Erika Inwald puts it, “we actually know how to bump set and spike!” Irma Munoz has also initiated some new policies ensuring that the girls attend practices and work on their conditioning. So far it seems to be working, as the team took a 2-1 victory over Murry Bergtraum. With only two returning players from last year, the team has a completely new look and feel to it. Erika believes that “our current team has the skills and spirit to win many games [this season].” The girls’ volleyball season started in September and ends at the beginning of November. They play against Stuyvesant, Baruch, Seward Park, Washington Irving, Norton Thomas and Murry Bergtraum.
Track and Field – Newest Bard Team is Looking to Grow
The track season starts in the spring, but the team currently trains at the East River Park track or in Nest’s weight room if weather forces them inside. The track team competes against all 5 boroughs and although last year was their first season, they achieved several significant rankings. Linnea LaMon (Year 2) came in third in the City Championships for long jump. Nathan Miller (10th grade) almost qualified for City championships in the 3200 meter run and Elizabeth Linton (Year 1) qualified for the Manhattan Borough Championships in the 100m and 200m sprints. According to Linnea, the biggest misconception about track and field is “that it is just running all the time, but it’s actually Track AND Field. If people want to do high jump, pole vault, shot put, discus, etc., they can.” Think you might want to don your running shoes or learn more about discus? The team is small and mainly comprised of sophomores, so anyone interested is welcome. Keep your eyes peeled for flyers for a meeting, speak to Ms. Nardone or e-mail coach Nolia Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or Linnea at email@example.com .
Girls Soccer- Looking to Duplicate Past Successes
The Girls Soccer Team is entering its fourth season this year and is aiming to win. After great success in 2007, the team was boosted to the A Division. While the jump to the A Division coupled with the loss of many strong seniors made last year a tough transition year, the team is hoping to go big this spring. Last year there were many new faces and a lot of new talent. After an entire season of working hard together, the girls are jumping into the new year full stride. Tryouts are being held October 20th and 21st; both days are mandatory. 15 girls will be chosen to fill a roster of 20. Five more girls will be chosen at another tryout closer to the start of the season. The girls’ season begins in the spring, when they play LAB, Stuyvesant, LaGuardia and Julia Richman among other schools. In order to prepare for tryouts, the team is also hosting practices Tuesday, Thursday and Friday after school which are open to anyone interested in playing. More questions? Contact Coach Jenna Volpi at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Boys and Girls Tennis – Open for Business and Optimistic for Upcoming Season
Both the Boys and Girls Tennis teams are open to all interested in playing, whether beginners or veteran players. As Elliot Lopes, senior and co- captain of the boys team, put it: “if anyone is interested in learning tennis, they can join as well. One doesn’t necessarily need experience because coach and all the team members are willing to teach.”
The boys team, headed by captains Elliot Lopes and Lucas Howard, has 5 returning seniors and is optimistic about this upcoming season. The team has a strong foundation of experience and is poised for a successful year. Elliot was quick to point out that freshmen should not be discouraged from joining, “I am sure there are some good ones [freshmen] who could possibly give any of us a run for our money.” A team that spans all four grades is essential to compensate for the loss of graduated seniors each year. Practices start in March and the season starts in April. The team faces off against teams in the B division such as Frederick Douglass Academy, Manhattan Center, Food and Finance High School, and the High School of Environmental Studies. If you are interested in joining the team, contact Lucas or Elliot and keep an eye out for posters as the tennis season approaches.
And let’s not forget the girls! The girls are lead by Glendean Hamilton and Alex Murry, who are also looking for a good year and new recruits. Like Elliot, Glendean is looking for commitment and not experience. “If you are willing to learn we’ll teach you.” There are no tryouts for the team, and they start conditioning in February, making it onto the courts by early March. The girl’s team is currently in the Bronx/Manhattan A division and plays Lab Museum United, Stuyvesant, Hunter, and the High School of Science at Lehman. The girls team is confident about this upcoming season since they did not lose any players. Despite a tough season last year, they are excited about facing the best competition in the city. In preparation for the upcoming season, the team plans on doing some team bonding activities. Glendean wants all potential players to know that the team is a warm environment: âgœIf you’re willing to try hard you’ll be welcome.” If you have any more questions, be sure to contact Glendean at email@example.com.
Step Team- Accomplished and Welcoming!
If you ever happen to venture into the cafeteria or auditorium after school, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear a staccato rhythm as you approach. Raven C, a senior and team captain, is insistent in her belief that “everyone has the ability to step.” In keeping with this principle, the team looks for energy and enthusiasm first and foremost at tryouts. Beginners with positive attitudes are welcome. The team has been on BET and has performed at Madison Square Garden for high school basketball games. They use both original and existing material in routines and steps. Watch out—you might see the BHSEC step team performing in an unlikely place.
Fencing- Nothing Can Foil Their Fun!
Though not a PSAL team, the Fencing club is the newest addition to BHSEC’s sports program. The team meets after school on Tuesdays starting in the spring, but they may start earlier this year due to the team’s overwhelming desire to resume fencing. Each practice session lasts about two hours. Ida Li (Y2) says that a big part of Fencing is learning the basics and that the club is committed to teaching new fencers. While this commitment to novices has made it difficult for them to reach the skill level required for competition, it has in no way diminished the team’s love of the sport. Practices are “always a massive sweaty blast” according to Ida. So, if you’re interested in learning an Olympic sport in a low-key atmosphere, head down to the gym on Tuesdays and grab a mask and epée!
WHO IS DR. AMY WRIGHT?
Nick Shatan ’10
Dr. Amy Elizabeth Wright, the newest addition to BHSEC’s foreign language faculty, is fitting in well at BHSEC, and it is no wonder: she is an intellectual and fun-loving woman with a few idiosyncrasies and an appreciation for the antics of David Clark and Rick Vartorella. Mr. Vartorella calls her “wild, impetuous, a will o’ the wisp!”
Dr. Wright, who says that she is “thirty-something,” is an eccentric
Aquarius with introspect and a rebellious spirit. Her age gives her a very energetic yet thoughtful air. Despite her energy, she describes herself as “relatively calm.” She has an endearing habit of closing her eyes and feeling the air in front of her when she says something deep. She loves to try new things; just last week she tried Capoeira.
She hails from Raeford, N.C., home of the North Carolina Turkey Festival. Though she is a Southern woman, her accent is barely noticeable. But she does have some remnant colloquialisms; when the air conditioning malfunctions, she will exclaim, “The air is broken.”
She wears rimless glasses and her hair is short but not too, pulled back and adorned with a pencil. Her I-pod mini is filled with Arcade Fire, the Avett Brothers, Bright Eyes, David Bowie, Julieta Venegas, Nina Simone and Wyclef Jean. She has a dog, Ella, named after the jazz singer Fitzgerald.
In high school, Dr. Wright traveled from her town of 3,000 to Hiroshima, Japan for a summer. Her favorite moment abroad was participating in a parade, blending in with the Japanese girls. She also acted as a Peace emissary for our country on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
She has traveled to many countries, including Italy, Spain, France and India, and has studied Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian and Portuguese.
She spent a lot of time in Spain, where she honed her Spanish skills after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill. The Tar Heel Dr. Wright spent the most time in Madrid and Santiago de Compostela. Her favorite city in Spain is the capital, Madrid. She loved the “night culture,” the music and the museums.
Dr. Wright can be found in the Foreign Language Department. She teaches Spanish, and has been studying the language for so long that she occasionally dreams in it. She also teaches Year 1 Seminar. In class, she likes to have chairs without desks or tables in a circle to best accommodate discussion; a cozy twist on the BHSEC seminar-style classroom. The Iliad is her favorite text in the curriculum.
Dr. Wright wants to stay in New York for a while. She enjoys roaming the streets on the road to finding herself.
THE NEW BHSEC
Sasha Pezenik ’10
Another year begins at Bard High School Early College. The leaves begin to fall, and students dust off last year’s writing and thinking notebooks. But we are not returning to the same BHSEC. Over the summer, the building was given a makeover; the walls were painted a light grey and an entirely new set of classrooms was added to the south side of the building.
We spent all of last year anticipating the architectural renovations expected to revolutionize BHSEC for the better. After months of watching construction workers haul piles of rubble in and out of a blocked-off corner of the building, the newest facet of the master architectural plan has finally been unveiled, to tepid reviews by BHSEC students. “The new rooms are too small” stated one Year 1. Though useful and practical in theory, it seems that the spatial limitations of the new rooms render them ineffective.
The new paint-job has not been received warmly either. “We now go to school in an insane asylum” said another Year 1. Many BHSEC students share this sentiment. Were these two architectural ventures worth the time, money, and inconvenience?
Furthermore, what has become of the promised elevator? What about the passageway connecting the cafeteria and the gym? Although the elevator will be solely for service use, the passageway for common use seems to be closed indefinitely. “I think the idea sounds good,” one student mused, “But I can’t really pass a fair judgment until we use it. But I didn’t even have any idea there was an elevator yet. They [the administration] presented it like it would be student-friendly. But…it wasn’t worth it if only a few people use it.”
Myths have been surfacing concerning various construction projects. Said librarian Ms. Walk, “I think the passageway idea may have folded in the long term plan”.
As the year progresses, the BHSEC population is growing more and more cynical about the renovations: “It’s all grand ambitions to make Bard bigger,” said one dubious student, “but none of it will actually ever happen”.
A VIEW FROM THE NEW
Alexi Block Gorman and Nora Claire Miller ’12
As an extremely tall Year 2 tries to explain to me how to get to the gym from the cafeteria, I feel like a calculator asked to find the prime factorization of an impossibly large number. Syntax error.
We are the freshmen. We’re the ones who mutter angrily about not being placed the same class as a friend, who will ask you to repeat directions to the cafeteria, and who will bump you with book bags in an attempt to be on time. Though upperclassmen may be familiar with our breed, we are unfamiliar with theirs. From the point of view of a freshman, it still seems remarkable to have peers who have published crossword puzzles in the New York Times, are masters with an epee, or who can quote literature far beyond our comprehension level. “I thought it was awesome my writing and thinking class was comprised of all four years,” says ninth grader Nika Sabastienski, who hails from Middle School 51 in Brooklyn. “The seniors from my class now say ‘hi’ to me in the hall and it makes me feel very comfortable.” It seems that at BHSEC, upperclassmen are an encouraging rather than intimidating presence.
Freshman can also identify with older students. “All the other kids like to dominate the conversation as much as I do, so I don’t have to worry about reining myself in,” one passionate freshman says. While the student body must ultimately bring passion and intelligence to discussions, teachers form the foundation of BHSEC’s stimulating atmosphere.
The Bard faculty provides a warm environment free of ageism and pretense. Many of us are amazed by the accomplishments of our teachers. “The teachers here are really demanding, but they know their subjects better than any I’ve had in my entire life,” gushed ninth grader Amelia Holcomb. Their teaching goes beyond mere indoctrination; their enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious. Sitting in a discussion-based American literature class, hearing about the Euclidian Algorithm in Algebra, and testing the speed of a ball rolling on the floor, we understand why our teachers’ eyes light up when they talk about their fields.
That is not to say that Bard is perfect for everyone. While most are happy with their high school choice, some BHSEC freshmen see more faults than others. “Sometimes I feel that Bard pushes you to overanalyze things so much that you forget what you’re analyzing,” remarks Aya Abdelaziz, from School of the Future. Some feel this to a greater degree: “Bard is the home of America’s future generation of armchair critics,” remarks Willa Collins, freshman and former student of Middle School 104. Is there truth in this criticism? Bardians have been known to stretch an issue too far, sometimes fixating on minor details. BHSEC certainly has a specific educational methodology, and those who dislike our brand of pedagogy seem to struggle.
But as I flash my ID at the security guard, I realize that I am slipping comfortably into the BHSEC mindset. I’m beginning to grasp the reality of the situation in a way that I couldn’t on the first day, when I walked into BHSEC and my future with my insecurities on my sleeve.