Melanie Steinhardt ’09 and James “Small” Marlow ’12

Welcome back to The Bardvark! We know your Obama high is not even close to wearing off, especially with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa so near. So, we’ve got a super-fly column this month, on topics ranging from wintry recipes to banana phones! But first, a gratuitous clarification: L.E.T. was formerly written by Sarah Marlow ’08. When she graduated, James “Small” Marlow filled his sister’s spot as resident co-advice columnist. Thus, both Marlows are referred to as Smarlow!

I’ve heard rumors that the library may soon be allowed to hold only as many people as there are chairs inside. Is this true?

The answer is most likely no. However, there is a chance that if the library continues to be overly noisy, and students continue to disregard the no eating rule, this change may take effect! Seeing as the library holds under 100 chairs, but can be filled with up to approximately 200 students, you’d all be well advised to follow the rules! Smarlow and Msteinhardt beseech you to make life easier for Ms. Walk by doing so. They are both quite fond of Ms. Walk and empathize with her difficult job!

What are your three favorite holiday recipes?

Smarlow’s favorite recipe is for Cake Batter Cookies. It’s cake, but it’s also cookie! Truly the best of both worlds. Msteinhardt loooooves peppermint brownies. The festive minty bits inside remind her of cheerful times at the winter crafts fair…sigh. And in commemoration of our fellow columnist who has passed on to the after-life called college, we republish Smarlow I’s snickerdoodle recipe. Let’s face it…the girl could bake. See our insert for full text recipes!

It’s dark and cold and miserable out. Cheer me up!

Banana Phone Lyrics:

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring

Banana phone

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring

Banana phone

I’ve got this feeling, so appealing,

for us to get together and sing. Sing!

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring banana phone

Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding donana phone

It grows in bunches, I’ve got my hunches,

It’s the best! Beats the rest!

Cellular, modular, interactivodular!

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring banana phone


Ping pong ping pong ping pong ping panana phone

It’s no baloney, it ain’t a p(h)ony

My cellular bananular phone!

We now conclude our cellular, modular, interactivodular holiday version of Let’s Exchange Thoughts! Remember to email us with any advice-necessitating questions you may have. We’ll answer anything! Have a happy New Year, and we’ll see you in 2009!


Msteinhardt (Melanie.steinhardt@verizon.net)


Smarlow (jmarlow94@gmail.com)




Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

Here’s the recipe for Peppermint Brownies, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse. Bam!


1 cup butter, plus more for greasing dish

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

2 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1 cup chopped peppermint bark, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Line the dish with a piece of parchment paper that extends up beyond the edge of the pan on the 2 wide sides of the dish and lightly grease the parchment. The paper will serve as handles when you are ready to remove the brownies from the pan.

In the top of a double boiler or in a microwave, melt the chocolate and butter until completely smooth. Add the sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla and stir to blend. Stir in the peppermint bark and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center just comes out clean – it’s ok if there are a couple of small fudgy crumbs adhering to the toothpick. It’s better to undercook these slightly than overcook them – these brownies are meant to be fudgy.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Using your hands, lift up firmly on the parchment paper pieces and transfer to a flat surface. (If the paper is stubborn, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, or loosen the brownies slightly with the help of an offset spatula.) Cut the brownies into 2 1/2-inch squares and serve at room temperature.

Peppermint Bark

12 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped

24 hard peppermint candies

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat or in a microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate.

Place the peppermints in a resealable food storage bag and, using a rolling pin, tap the candies to break into small pieces. Place the crushed candies into a strainer with medium holes and shake over another bowl – only the very large pieces should remain in the strainer. Add the melted chocolate to the small pieces and stir to combine.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and pour the chocolate-candy mixture onto the paper. Using a rubber spatula, spread smooth to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Press the large peppermint pieces onto the top of the mixture and transfer to a refrigerator to firm.

When firm, break the bark into bite-size pieces and place in an attractive serving bowl or package in airtight containers to give as gifts. Serve at room temperature.

This is best refrigerated if kept for any length of time.

Smarlow’s Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp baking power

8 Tbsp of cinnamon

8 Tbsp of sugar

1. Cream the butter, sugar and eggs with electric mixer until smooth.

2. Measure flour, salt, and baking powder into sifter and sift over a small bowl.

3. Add the sifted ingredients into the sugar/butter/egg mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon.

4. Add vanilla and stir again.

5. Dough should be soft and easy to handle. Add a little more flour (about a tablespoon or so) if dough sticks to your hands.

6. Preheat oven to 400F. Set out cookie sheets lined with foil .

7. Combine sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl and set aside.

8. Roll pieces of dough into the size of a jawbreaker. Roll the ball in the sugar/cinnamon mixture, and place on baking sheet.

9. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly brown, and place on cooling rack.

10. Eat, drink and be merry.

One Last Recipe For The Road

1879: Peppermints

Courtesy of the NY Times

Oil for greasing

21⁄4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon peppermint extract.

Oil a baking sheet (preferably nonstick) and set it near the stove. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and less than 1 cup water and boil over medium-high heat until the syrup caramelizes. When the syrup turns the color of a hazelnut, remove the pan from the heat and add the peppermint extract. Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet, tipping the pan to spread it evenly and thinly, and let cool. Then break it into pieces. Makes 2 to 3 cups of candies.




Nora Miller ’12

As students, we all like to be trusted. When papers are examined for plagiarism, it generally makes us feel mistrusted, especially when our work is posted on websites like turnitin.com. Turnitin is a database of papers and essays. Schools pay a fee to use it, and, teachers have their students submit their writing online. The system checks for copying by comparing the work to other works in the database. Some students resent the website because teachers use it, initially, to catch cheating. But, look past your resentment for a moment. There are two sides to every story.

The English department had a positive attitude towards Turnitin. Mr. Vartorella and Mr. Johnson generally support Turnitin as a teaching tool.

Mr. Johnson uses Turnitin not for catching cheaters but for, well, turning it in: “I like it not for its major purpose, not for catching cheating. I like it for a backup and centralized repository for papers; it’s always been very helpful in class. If a student is late, or there is confusion, they can turn it in to turnitin.com.”

Other teachers feel that the website is checking for the inevitable: it’s not just that students might plagiarize once or twice, but that unfortunately, they statistically do cheat. It’s beneficial for students to learn that cheating is not acceptable. “It helps to teach students about the importance of citing sources, and intellectual integrity,” Dr. Matthews explains, “Surveys show between 60-75 percent of college students admit to cheating at some point, and high school students generally fall in the same percentage range. Turnitin.com, given the writing intensive program we have here, is a necessary evil, and we have to use it.”

Dr. Cordi, a biology teacher, has her doubts about Turnitin. She uses it, but doesn’t like the fact that it charges money. “I think that it should be a free service,” she asserted, “a free service and available to all.” Dr. Cordi is touching on an important point—is it fair for Turnitin to charge for the usage of a database that is comprised of students’ work? Turnitin relies on an ever-expanding—and therefore increasingly reliable—database of student writing to check for plagiarism. Is it fair that we pay a company to benefit from the papers that we have written?

Maybe not, but it might be worth the cost. Mr. Vartorella believes that it’s more important to catch cheating than to be 100 percent sure that nobody has cheated. “Everybody loses when somebody plagiarizes,” he says, “America loses.”




Lauren Crawford ’12

Giorgio Morandi was an artist who preferred a quiet life to one of international celebrity—although he had the talent to achieve paparazzi status. He lived in Bologna, Italy with his two sisters, and gave a grand total of two published interviews throughout his 74-year life (1890-1964). Despite his reclusiveness, he managed to accomplish much and his work was in constant demand; his clients spanned the globe, from South America to Europe.

Currently his drawings, paintings, and etchings are being featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oddly enough, the exhibition seems to take a cue from Morandi’s habit of staying out of the spotlight; the exhibit is inconveniently located in the Robert Lehman Gallery near the cafeteria, where there is no natural light or space to move around.

The paintings themselves are a pleasure, a range of studies on basic objects such as flowers, seashells and rocks. All are painted very simply, with obvious lines and shadows and muted colors. His etchings are different; far from basic, they are filled with complex charcoal lines that create intricate scenes. One might expect an exhibition of simple subjects to become tiresome, but each of Morandi’s paintings is captivating despite its plainness. The chaotic whirls of the seashells and the varied lines in the vases and pots are enchanting. Although there is no indication of where to the exhibit starts, it is apparent how Morandi’s style changed over the years, his shapes becoming more alive as he aged.

Despite the flaws in the presentation of the art, the exhibit is worth a trip to the Met. Not only is it the first ever Giorgio Morandi show in America, but it is also unique in its calming simplicity, a rarity in New York City.




Alexi Block-Gorman ’12

From the moment Summit Entertainment announced that they would be producing the movie Twilight, the film was guaranteed a huge turn out. Twilight, a novel by Stephenie Meyer, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice teen fiction novel even before it was considered for the big screen. Before Twilight opened in theaters, the movie had die-hard fans as well as die-hard critics.  But was the movie popular with all of the books’ fans?  

There are plenty of Twilight readers who have read and enjoyed the books and who would see the movie if nothing better was playing.  On the other end of the spectrum are die-hard Twilight fans (known as Twi-hards), and book elitists who wouldn’t watch the movie if it was played in front of them while they sat tied to a chair.  Either way, because Twilight appeals to such a large audience, it has become nearly impossible to be indifferent to it—you either hate Twilight or you love it.

“[Summit Entertainment] butchered [the movie], but it was excellent,” says the younger sister of a certain Bardian Twilight movie reviewer.  Is it possible to both love and hate the movie?  There were some parts that were excellent, and some parts that were…not.

From and artist and art-appreciator’s perspective, what really makes the movie are its breathtaking scenic landscapes, shown from a bird’s eye view and dispersed throughout the film. The shots of mountain, forest and fog were Lord of the Rings-esque in their quality and in the awe that they inspired in viewers with an eye for good photography and landscape. Though the film had its shortcomings, the cinematography was enough to make me swoon.

One issue I had with the movie, considered independently as a film and not as an adaptation of a book, was that it didn’t really know whether it was a romantic drama or a thriller. I guess you could say that it was a little of both, that it tried to appeal to all audiences.  However, those who were looking for a passionate romance weren’t given enough drama, and those looking for a fast-paced action film found too much drama.

Talking about the acting in the movie is like stepping into a minefield. Everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion seems to be different.  “Some of Edward and Bella’s lines felt lifeless,” remarked one scathing reviewer, referring to the two main characters.  It is true: many viewers would say that the acting from the lead male and female actors was not up to par. But this may just be the bias of Twi-hards who didn’t like the movie because it wasn’t the book exactly as they envisioned it.   Could the actors have met the standards set for them? I don’t think so.

There were however, many aspects of the movie that were unwaveringly faithful to the book.  One critical viewer went so far as to say that the movie was merely “pandering to the fans.”

From the perspective of a Twi-hard, there were lots of things that, surprisingly, the movie got right.  Bella narrates a large quantity of the movie, as she does in the books, and in some of the narration her lines are better than the ones she says “in person.”  

The narration often was pulled almost directly for the book, but no one seemed to mind. Some of the more minor characters, such as Jacob and Charlie, were even deemed “good enough” even by devout Twi-hards.  But the biggest shout out to the fans was Stephanie Meyer’s surprise appearance in a walk-on role.




Jack Jenkins ’12

The election is over, and yet I’m not quite ready to stash away my Obama pins. As the election results were coming in, I wasn’t afraid that he would lose, but that the enthusiasm and unity surrounding his campaign would not continue past Election Day. The millions of people standing for hours in the rain waiting to vote were purely committed to setting up change.

But we haven’t actually changed anything yet. The cause was electing Barack Obama, and those voters were committed to the cause. So what is the cause now? We’ve elected our president, but have we fulfilled our duty as Americans? Should we shout, “Yes we can!” or “Yes we did?”  

Please, let it be the first! Our government has a serious problem if the main responsibility of the president is to be elected. Our work is not finished yet. In fact, it won’t even begin until January twentieth, when the man we chose will begin his work as our leader.

“Yes we can!” will always ring with the same note, and now America’s bell serves a greater importance. Yes! We can become a united United States. Yes! We can show the respect that we owe to our country by supporting our new President. Yes! We can continue to make change!

As Obama said on that fateful night, in his acceptance speech: “What began 21 months ago cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change… It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.”

We need this new spirit to continue our cause of making change in America. 




Sofia Johnson ’12

The second we entered middle school, anti-drug propaganda was shoved down our throats. Anti-drug videos and speakers all have clear messages and alarming stories about drug abuse, so why do so many teenagers disregard their advice?

Perhaps it is the stiff way in which the imperative is presented. How can the sober and often monotonous message of organizations like SADD compete with the glitzy and ‘corrupting’ messages of Hollywood and the media?

Scotty Rock’s presentation, however, was anything but boring. The presentation began with Rock’s portrayal of an abandoned and imprisoned heroin addict who ultimately commits suicide. That skit was followed by an equally melodramatic (and somewhat out of place) monologue from Julius Caesar. Rock then told his personal story about drugs, which started with his first joint at age 11 and ended in homelessness. Rock frequently interrupted his personal narrative with statistics about the number of drug-related deaths that occur per year in high school and college communities. He also frequently and ardently declared his love for the student body. Although his message was nothing new, I found myself interested in his bizarre and dramatic presentation.

Though many BHSEC-ers will tell you that Scotty Rock left them unchanged and annoyed, I liked the realistic portrayal of the issues. The information wasn’t just presented by a concerned police officer or health teacher who had no personal experience with drugs. I took the message much more seriously knowing that the entire story was true. Scotty Rock even admitted that he knew not all of us would listen: “I know not all of you are gonna take my advice to heart,” he said, “I’m not forcing you to flat out not do drugs. I just want you to pause for a second when you are confronted with drugs and think about what you are about to do and whether it is really the right thing.”




Naomi Boyce ’10

Last year’s karaoke contest, organized by the Asian Culture Club, was certainly unforgettable. Many of us fondly recall Mr. Nashban’s serenade, Dr. Budimir’s stiletto number, and Mr. Rubenstein’s bringing sexy back. Despite taking place during Dean’s Hour, the event raised over one thousand dollars for CITTA, a charity that builds and sustains schools and hospitals in developing Asian countries.

Before the karaoke concert, few of us knew what the Asian Culture club was, who was in it, or what it stood for. We may have passed by their silk clad info board on the fifth floor, or seen one of the few posters tacked up on a window or wall. After gaining so much popularity in the buildup to the Karaoke contest, the Asian culture club seemed to disappear back into the woodwork. It seemed as though the Asian culture club was simply preparing for next year’s concert.

Yet Gideon Salzman-Gubbay, a Year I and president of the Asian culture club, has a clear vision: “To increase Asian awareness around BHSEC, because the Asian population at BHSEC really is not that high.” He claims that the Asian culture club is filled with two sorts of people: those who are Asian by descent, and those who identify with Asia, but may not themselves be Asian. “Everyone expresses their own feelings about how Asian they feel,” says Year I Brenda Yee, “and we all feel Asian on the inside.”

The Asian Culture Club feels that one of its main priorities is to bring social justice and comfort to people in struggling Asian countries. They feel that they should bring the good fortune and resources we have at BHSEC to these countries. Thus, this year’s proceeds from the Karaoke Concert will go to children in India. Although the Karaoke concert functions as entertainment for BHSEC students, it is grounded in a serious and charitable purpose.

The Asian Culture Club does do more than raise money through Karaoke concerts. They discuss their Asian values, hold tastings of different authentic Asian cuisines, and work to bring Asian Culture to BHSEC. Although they meet as a group to discuss their own Asian identities, Gideon says, “We are not trying get Asian people into the club, but rather to bring the Asian out of the club to all the students at BHSEC.”




Michael Grant ’09

The boys soccer program at BHSEC has come a long way since its debut in league play four years ago. After the introduction of Coach Winston McKoy two seasons ago, the team has improved in leaps and bounds. This fall the team dominated the competition throughout the regular season.

BHSEC ended up scoring 55 goals during the season, while only 2 were let in. The Raptors easily won the Manhattan B division, even though they played two games fewer than the other teams. The soccer team even received recognition from a local sports website after impressing a local reporter who attended a game. The site ranked the BHSEC boys soccer team as number 10 in all of the PSAL and predicted that the team would win the city championship. Unfortunately this prediction didn’t come true; the team lost in the quarterfinals to the lower-seated Taft team.    

The Raptors went into their quarterfinal game full of confidence after winning consecutive games against teams similar to Taft’s. However, after a tough match, the team lost by a small margin: the score was 2-1. This loss devastated the team, especially the Year IIs who felt that a win would be the best way to end their BHSEC soccer careers. Coach McKoy helped the team keep their heads up after the unlikely loss, but it was still a hard defeat to live down because it followed a long string of successes.

Despite the loss, Coach McKoy chose to stay positive in his review of the season. Not only did the Raptors beat strong A division teams (such as the Abraham Lincoln team), but they also did so while contending with internal difficulties such as varying skill levels and limited practice space.      

The season may have not ended in the most positive manner, but fans have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of years. The Raptors will only improve from here.   




Nathan Miller ’11

Feeling tired and out of breath after a seemingly endless walk to school, nothing frustrates me more than watching the M14D bus stop right at BHSEC’s doorstep.  But while I envy those who live along the M14D’s route I must admit that the long walk has truly become part of the Bard experience.  Students have become friendly with the shop owners along the way and also have their favorite snack spots.  The long trip has even become a social experience; F train riders converse to keep their minds off their tired feet.  Though the travel can certainly be looked at through an optimistic lens, there is no doubt that students would prefer to walk less.

So what actually is the fastest way to Bard?  Students who get off at the Essex and Delancey station are divided between two routes.  Some choose to take Essex to Houston and then walk along Houston to Mangin Street.  Others turn onto Rivington and then cut through the projects.  

Those who take the less conventional Rivington route swear by it—and for good reason.  Using a website called mapmyrun.com, it is quite simple to determine which route is shorter.  By simply dragging an arrow over the path you intend to travel, you can find out how far the trip is to the nearest tenth of a mile. 

After averaging the results of each route, the Rivington route is the clear victor.  The Rivington route measures in at .78 miles, which is .13 miles shorter than the Houston route (.91 miles).  Round trip this means you could save 1.3 miles of walking in a week.

However, a large portion of the student body gets off the F or V trains at 2nd avenue.  These students travel .80 miles.  To a person looking for more exercise these numbers are probably exciting. 

A week’s worth of school equals a little more than eight miles of walking.  Cumulatively in a year, train-takers walk nearly three hundred miles.

M14D kids do not know what they are missing!




Amani Ahmed ’11

For any teacher new to the profession, the first year often presents a formidable challenge. But for Chris Gagstetter, a new P.E. teacher at BHSEC, this year has been great so far. “This job’s the best,” he says.

Mr. Gagstetter (aka “Mr. G”) lives in Ballystream, Long Island where he was raised. He is happy to report that BHSEC kids are nothing like the stereotype of New York City teens that his friends cautioned him about. Mr. Gagstetters’ first three months at BHSEC have convinced him that BHSEC students are “very smart.”

Mr. G went to SUNY Cortland for his undergraduate degree, an experience that he loved. He trained to become a health teacher, taking classes in both health and education.

Health has always been a priority for Mr. G. In high school, he was a three-sport athlete, participating in football, track, and lacrosse. He decided that he wanted to work in physical education early on in his high school career. When I asked why he became a PE teacher, he laughed and replied, “I think wearing sweatpants everyday is cool.” Mr. Gagstetter went on to emphasize that his love of working with children was a big factor in his career choice.

Mr. Gagstetter prefers teaching PE to teaching health. PE is “out of the class,” he says, and allows for more freedom because students can “run around” and be active. Mr. Gagstetter himself is always physically active. He exercises primarily at Athletes in Training, a gym located on Long Island. He also works there as a strength and conditioning coach for high school and college students. In addition to resistance training with his fellow coaches, he walks five miles a day.

Mr. Gagstetter’s healthy lifestyle serves as a model to BHSEC students. Omar Grant, a BHSEC Year II student described Mr. G as knowledgeable: “He knows a lot about healthy things.”

“Mr. G constantly supports the Bard athletics program,” says Year II Michael Grant. Birch Lubman, a 10th grader, enjoys Mr. G’s health class. She says that Mr. Gagstetter has “gotten progressively funnier” as the semester has continued.

Mr. G is approachable, not only because of his sense of humor, but also because he can relate to students. He was once a busy high school student just like BHSECers are. Gagstetter was part of the National Honors Society and the Athletic National Honors Society. He also participated in his high school’s all-county and all-state bands. He played the trumpet and trombone in school musicals and concerts.

When he’s not teaching or exercising, Mr. G enjoys movies, T.V. and listening to music. During Mr. G’s daily five-mile walk he often listens to Kanye West’s new album, “808 and Heartbreak.” After working out at Athletes in Training, Mr. G relaxes by watching his favorite T.V. shows—the popular HBO series “Entourage” or “Friday Night Lights.”




Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

It is certainly getting cold out, but it’s not quite time for eggnog and hot chocolate. So what will fill our mugs for the time being? Apple cider!

But not all apple ciders are created equal. I scoured the green markets and supermarkets of Manhattan to find an apple cider that puts the rest to shame. I assembled a panel of testers to pass judgment on a variety of ciders.

At Fairway, I bought a jug of Fowler Farms apple cider. At $2.49 for 64 ounces, it is the cheapest per volume. The cider has a very sweet aroma and flavor, but it is a little thin. One tester said that the cider verges on “watery”. The label says that the cider is ‘pasteurized’ which means that it was heated to about 160 degrees to kill pathogens. This makes it safer to drink and increases its shelf life, but the pasteurization process also compromises the cider’s flavor. Perhaps as a result, Fowler Farms cider doesn’t have the rich taste associated with traditional cider.

The pint of cider I bought at the Union Square Farmers’ Market evokes more New England nostalgia. The cider is fuller, spicier and a little acidic. It produces a slight, but not unpleasant “burning sensation,” as one tester described it. This cider, from Terhune Orchards, is the most expensive; it costs $1.50 for 16 ounces.

R.W. Knudsen’s Cider and Spice was the most disappointing by far. It smells strongly of cinnamon, and its flavor is no different. One tester said that it tastes like “cinnamon with water.” Another said that Cider and Spice is just plain “gross.” The bitter spices sink to the bottom of the mug, as though the manufacturer forgot to strain the mixture. The bottle, 32 fluid ounces, costs $1.90 at Whole Foods Market in Union Square.

The fourth and final apple cider I tested was Zeigler’s Old Fashioned Apple Cider. It costs $2.99 for 64 ounces, and according to the label, it is made from 5 lbs of fresh apples.  It has a rich cider flavor, like the Terhune Orchards version, but is not as spicy. The testers loved the apple-y aftertaste and said that it “goes down easily.” Overall, Zeigler’s is a terrific take on an autumn favorite—sweet, easy to drink, and mild but not watery.

After tasting two terrific ciders, a decent one, and a cider that was downright disgusting, I decided to see if I could make my own. What we call ‘apple cider’ is unfermented, unfiltered juice from pressed apples.  Apple cider’s brownish tint comes from oxidized apple pulp left in the juice. Alcoholic cider, which is fermented, is called ‘hard cider.’ After a few Google searches, I discovered that making apple cider or hard cider from scratch is a long, complicated process.

But you can get creative with flavoring store-bought apple cider. This process of heating and spicing is called mulling. Pour cider into a saucepan and add flavors of your choice. Try the traditional combination of allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and brown sugar, or add some red hot candies (1 cup per gallon). You can mix in ginger ale, maple syrup, cranberry juice, orange juice concentrate, or even pomegranate juice. If you want a citrusy tang, try adding a few pieces of orange or lemon peel. Heat your cider to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to strain your cider before serving!




Sam Levine ’10

Worried that the old integrated science curriculum was not providing students with a strong enough foundation in physics, the BHSEC science department has decided to institute a new curriculum that provides an in-depth study of the three fundamental sciences.

Under the new system, 9th graders will take a year-long physics course. As 10th graders, they will have the option of taking either biology or chemistry, and as Year Is they will take the college level science that they did not complete in 10th grade. This is radically different from the old integrated curriculum, in which all of the essential sciences were combined into two year-long courses and crammed into the high school program.

“There was so little time to teach all three of the sciences in a single semester. In the end, what wound up happening was that teachers were just barely able to scrape the surface on each subject and students were just getting confused,” said Dr. Budimir. “Every teacher in the science department agrees that by the time a student graduates they should have a firm grounding in each of the fundamental sciences,” she added.

While all the teachers in the science department agree that the new curriculum is an improvement from the integrated one, they are also quick to point out that it is not perfect.

By requiring all students to take physics, biology, and chemistry within the first three years, the science department has limited opportunities to take college- level science electives such as physics with calculus, geology, and immunology. A student who becomes interested in physics in 9th grade won’t have an opportunity to study the subject again until their senior year, which is surely going to be problematic for those students considering careers in engineering and the physical sciences.

Ms. Gamper said that “while one of the biggest downfalls that the new curriculum has is that no electives are offered until Year II, in a way we’re giving students an earlier taste of the college program by allowing them to choose their science earlier, in 10th grade.”

In this new curriculum, students might actually want to hold off taking their ‘favorite’ scientific discipline until they reach the college program.

“It makes more sense for a student really interested in chemistry at the end of 9th grade to put it off for a year and instead take biology in 10th grade. That way, when they get to Year I, they’ll have the opportunity to go much more in-depth at the college level,” Dr. Budimir said.




Nora Miller ’12

November 12th, sixth period,  and BHSEC’s auditorium is silent. Any whisper between members of the 37 competing teams is quickly silenced by the proctors, all BHSEC teachers.  A timer flashes orange onstage as the seconds tick down; pens scribble faster as the remaining time decreases rapidly. Finally a proctor announces pens down; there are cheers from a select few, and groans from the rest.

Fast-forward a week: same time, same place. Three giant whiteboards lined up in front of the stage display the final puzzle. Once again, the atmosphere is tense. In the front of the packed room, 10th grader Caleb Madison picks up the microphone from its place between two shiny trophies. The Bard High School Early College Crossword Tournament was proposed and organized by Caleb, crossword writer for both The Bardvark and The New York Times. Caleb authored all puzzles for the BHSEC competition. Will Shortz, the New York Times crossword puzzle editor says that, “Caleb is the youngest crossword puzzle writer I’ve seen in all of my 15 years editing them.”

Dozens of BHSEC’s young crossword puzzlers participated in the first round of the tournament to test their skills. Every entry (entries consisted of one or two participants) received a puzzle to fill out within 20 minutes. Participants were seated in clusters with their backs to each other to prevent cheating. BHSEC teachers served as judges, collecting sheets and recording times. At the end of the 20 minutes, a second puzzle was handed out, also to be completed within 20 minutes.

The puzzles were reviewed in the following week and the finalists decided; and the auditorium filled up once more with the six finalists and a plethora of onlookers. Mayumi Kohiyama and Marina Molarsky-Beck, Mariah Widman and Ben Steele, and Alessio Franko and Nick Shatan were competing in this final round. Zina Huxley-Reicher and Ruth Solow were originally lined up to compete, but both were unable to attend school on the scheduled day and were therefore forced to forfeit their spot in the top three. “I am so bitter,” said Ruth.

When the time was up, the answers were reviewed and the results were announced. “In third place” Caleb read “with one letter wrong, Alessio Franko and Nick Shatan. In second place Mayumi Kohiyama and Marina Molarsky-Beck, with one letter missing. In first place: Ben Steel and Mariah Widman!” Applause thundered through the auditorium as the final names were announced.

Editor Will Shortz was called up to present the awards, two shiny trophies for the winning team, and books for the other finalists. Will said later that he thinks it’s, “wonderful crosswords can appeal to all generations.”  Language teacher Dr. Clark commented on Shortz’s demeanor: “he’s just like he was in The Simpsons”.  

Caleb MadIson said in closing that he hopes to repeat this contest, since it seemed like a great success. So take out your newspapers and practice your crosswords!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s