VOLUME 6, ISSUE 6 (APRIL 2009)

THE GIVING TREE: THE ECO CLUB HOSTS A BENEFIT CONCERT FOR A GREENER BRAZIL

Sofia Johnson ’12

On March 20th, the BHSEC Eco Club held the second Plant a Billion Trees Benefit Concert in the auditorium. The profits from admission went toward planting trees in Brazil. One $5 ticket would give life to five trees.

A group of students opened the event with a familiar tune, the Pink Panther theme song. This first act was followed by nine others, which carried the event until 7pm. Interestingly, although the concert was hosted by the Eco Club, none of the songs performed were about the environment. The numbers ranged from classical piano pieces to eardrum-pounding hard rock, to acoustic folky songs, to hip-hop with saxophones, to goofy covers of Katy Perry. The diversity of music was refreshing, although the transition from a somber Schumann piece to an extremely fast guitar solo was a bit of a shock.

But the numbers didn’t just differ stylistically. Clearly, the benefit concert meant different things to different people. Some treated it very formally, like a recital, while others seemed like they were having band practice in someone’s garage. And then there were the people who acted like they were just hanging out with friends, telling jokes and making wisecracks. The overall mood, however, was relaxed. There was no pretension; it was no more and no less than a bunch of high school musicians showing off their talents for a good cause.

Unfortunately, the sound quality was not excellent. If there’s one thing BHSEC lacks, it’s a good team of techies. The gaps between acts made up almost half of the entire show, and the microphones rebelled once or twice. They fell over, amplified the background noises instead of the music, and as soon as one started working properly, another one broke down.

But that didn’t stop any of the students from playing. “There may have been some SNAFUs. But what are SNAFUs in the face of passion?” said Nathan Campbell, dramatically taking off his jacket and sitting down to play his next song on the piano.

All in all, the Eco Club’s Plant a Billion Trees Benefit Concert was a great musical experience. I recommend BHSEC’s student concerts to everyone, whether you know one of the musicians or just want to hear some great music. But even more importantly, you get to plant five trees in Brazil, without shelling out for an airline ticket.

 

 

BHSEC’S TALENT SHOW

George Winn ’12

The BHSEC auditorium was jam-packed on the afternoon of March 18th as the annual talent show took the school by storm. The show, which was emceed by Year IIs Lins Agokeng and Naeem Muhammed, was filled with some pretty amazing talents, from juggling batons to yo-yo tricks to a remix of Weezer!

Although all of the performances deserved a hearty round of applause, there were a select few that stood out to me.

Tenth grader Thomas Schubert dazzled the crown with his incredibly focused and skillful juggling. Nick’s father, Dr. Schubert, proudly looked on as Thomas left the stage, the crowd still awestruck, cheering loudly.

As Year II Daniel Penny took the stage with his MacBook in hand, most of the crowd was wondering what talent could require only a computer. He introduced himself, and explained that he would remix a song by the rock band Weezer. The song started out slow, but then got faster and faster as the remix developed.

Towards the second half, tenth graders Nick Gumas, Nancy Oduyela, and Bianca Lewis took to the stage to perform one of the most anticipated acts of the show: Beyonce’s Single Ladies dance. The audience cheered from the moment the trio ascended the stage clothed completely in black and white to the moment they struck their final poses. It was the most outgoing and comical talent show performance that I have ever seen.

After the Single Ladies dance finished, most of the students in the auditorium headed for the doors, but the show went on. Ninth grader Jack Lester took the stage with only a yo-yo in hand. The crowd was caught completely off-guard when he started to perform some pretty slick yo-yo tricks. Although he didn’t perform the legendary ‘walk the dog’, the crowd was satisfied when his act ended. Lester ended with a plug for his new yo-yo club; he only needs two more signatures!

As the show came to a close, Dineen Lopez, Sasha Davila, Evan Nathan and Ben Eng performed “Come Together” by The Beatles. The act was particularly enjoyable; the musicians and vocalists hit all the right notes and made the legendary song feel incredibly authentic.

I look forward to the 2010 talent show, but it’s going to be very difficult to top this one.

 

 

UNEARTHING A STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE

Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

“When I am doing research,” said Dr. Cordi, “I am a student.” The skills she uses in her research are the same skills that she strives to instill in her students: patience, time management, the willingness to seek extra help, the perseverance to struggle through problems, and, most importantly, the ability to ask new questions.

In the summers of 1999 and 2000, Dr. Cordi and a collaborator, William Stein, discovered the fossil plant of an ancient tree, over 400,000,000 years old. The Coronapteris erectus, which dates from the Devonian age, is the earliest tree-size vascular plant ever found. Cordi and Stein unearthed the fossil, which was buried deep in rocky sediment, in the Gaspé Bay in Quebec, Canada.

In the field, they marked and cut the fossil into pieces for transport to SUNY Binghamton, where Stein is an Associate Professor of paleobotany and plant evolution. The pair began to reassemble the fossil, fitting together pieces that ranged from 3 to twenty centimeters and photographing the specimen with polarized lights to illuminate surface detail. They described the form of the tree—its main trunk, roots, branches, and reproductive structures—and began to raise questions.

Although the Coronapteris erectus stood at least 4.5 meters tall, and flourished in the first forests of tree size plants, it was very different from modern trees: it had no bark, leaves or even wood. How did a plant without wood grow so tall? What made up its stem? In search for answers to these questions, Dr. Cordi and her colleague began to examine the fossil, looking for cells and preserved tissues.

All of this prep work and examination took place at SUNY Binghamton, where faculty members have access to research laboratories. Dr. Cordi works at the university over the summer and during school breaks. During the remainder of the year, while she is teaching at BHSEC, she works on writing up procedures and findings. “You have a lot more time and accessibility if you’re at a university,” Dr. Cordi explained. Time management is very different for BHSEC’s faculty scholars. One year of work for a teacher at a traditional university could easily take 2 or 3 years at BHSEC.

But Dr. Cordi, who prefers to spend the bulk of her time teaching, can accept that her research will take a long time to complete. Her research, she explained, is “extremely important to my teaching of science.” While she is doing research, she “always knows what it’s like to be confused.” There are many ways to augment teaching, Dr. Cordi said. Each teacher needs to follow her passions and figure out what type of professional development works for her. Dr. Cordi loves lab work, and the process of uncovering the biological history of the earth, so research is a natural supplement to her teaching.

In June, Dr. Cordi will present her research on the Coronapteris erectus at the North American Paleontological Convention 2009—if she can get her grading done on time.

 

 

DR. KOLKAS ROCKS!

Zina Huxley-Reicher ’09

“It’s like if someone put a rock on your chest while you were sleeping, you would push it off, right? Well that is what the earth does,” Dr. Kolkas beamed as he described one of his current research projects. Our BHSEC geology teacher is currently spending time examining the effects of pumping waste products into the earth. This practice not only causes ground water pollution, but also increases the risk of earthquakes. Dr. Kolkas tests samples of earth from western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey to understand the petrophysical limit of earth’s absorption capacity and the consequences of exceeding it. This maximum capacity is defined by ground permeability, porosity, and fluid saturation; Dr. Kolkas works to find these limits by adding mercury to soil samples under various pressures. This project is only one of three that Dr. Kolkas is currently working on.

He is also working with four Year IIs, Chiara Zaccheo, Clarissa Fortier, Marjorie Kalomeris and Talia Bosco, studying the contents of the East River and the Gowanus Canal (a canal that runs through Brooklyn). They spent last semester out in canoes taking samples of the water and river silt to look for heavy metals and radioactive elements. They found alarmingly high levels of manganese and other heavy metals, especially in the Gowanus. They hope to alert the public about the contents of the waters and their environmental impact. They recently presented their findings at a geology conference in Portland, Maine.

Dr. Kolkas’ third undertaking is an interesting one. He has teamed up with professors from around the world (including professionals from the Calcutta Institute of Technology and Alexandria University, his alma mater) to try to prove that the climatic changes we are currently experiencing are part of a natural cycle. By studying the rock record and examining which isotopes of oxygen are present in the rocks (oxygen 16 or 18), they hope to pinpoint when and where various ice ages and warming periods occurred.

Dr. Kolkas is not one to deny the existence of global warming and humankind’s contribution to it, but he believes that “it has a minimum impact. The ecologic and geothermic cycles are larger [than human’s contribution to global warming]. Which one releases more CO2, a volcanic eruption or a car?” Our existence, according to Dr. Kolkas, is “very limited. We are very new visitors to this planet.” Therefore, Dr. Kolkas thinks it is important to study the rest of the earth’s history and understand that it has gone through many cycles of heating and cooling before. Humans are not the be-all and end-all; as Dr. Kolkas explains, “maybe our existence will not see everything.”

Dr. Kolkas finds time to do all of this, even while managing an incredibly busy schedule teaching at BHSEC. Why does he juggle so much? “If I am very active with research,” he says, “this will benefit the students and the school. I will be updated because I am actually doing what I am teaching.” This love of research is certainly one reason our faculty are so special; they actually carry out the techniques that they are teaching us and understand what it means to practice in their fields.

The marriage of research and teaching exemplified in the small-group project he conducted with those lucky Year IIs seems to be a perfect way to accomplish this goal. As Clarissa Fortier says, “Dr. Kolkas showed us how getting that involved was necessary. I have learned from one of the best not just about science, but about the work and preparation that goes behind making a scientific report.”

 

 

WORDS OF WIDSOM

STAFF

“The place that is perfect for you might not be the place you originally envisioned. Don’t be intimidated by distance or deterred by size. Keep an open mind and consider all your choices equally. You will survive!”

– Glendean

“Most people end up doing their applications late. Worry about the December 20th crunch. Don’t worry much about money.”

– Alex Murry

“Keep calling your colleges…or they create excuses not to give you money.”

– Elkema

“Visit schools. Don’t always listen to your parents.”

– Amanda

“Get as much help as possible on your college essays.”

– Jasmine

“Let your college advisor know exactly what is happening.”

–       Sharmin

 

 

THIS IS THE DAWNING

Nora Miller ’12

It is a summer night in New York City, and music from the Delacorte Theater is floating through Central Park. The cast of Hair belts out the last song in the show, “Let the sun shine in,” a grand finale that reflects the energy of the whole performance. The audience, who received free tickets after waiting on line for hours that morning, is invited to dance on the circular outdoor stage.

Hair, written in the late 1960’s, celebrates Vietnam War era counterculture. It covers everything from sexuality to burning draft cards to breaking free of the older generation, to, of course, hair.

The musical centers around Claude, a high school dropout from Flushing, Queens, who is convinced he is Aquarius, “Destined for greatness or for madness.” Claude is the main character, but the story focuses more on the group than on the individual. Claude is constantly at odds with his family, with his friends, and with himself, sometimes saying that all he ever wanted was to be invisible, so that he could perform miracles. “That’s all I have ever wanted to do on this Earth,” he proclaims.

Another important character is George Berger, “But I don’t dig George,” who drops out of high school halfway through the show and burns his draft card. Berger is boisterously funny, if heartbreaking. He starts the show by picking a female audience member (on one night in the park, he chose Hillary Clinton), and introduces her as his mom. He proceeds to take his jeans off so that he is only wearing a loincloth and asks somebody in the audience to hold his pants for him.

The audience also meets an ensemble of other characters, each of whom has a story. There’s Chrissy, whose song is simultaneously bittersweet and hilarious. She is waiting for Frank Mills, who apparently “resembles George Harrison of The Beatles, but he wears his hair tied in a small bow at the back.” There’s Sheila, a protestor and an activist who is infatuated with Berger, although he treats her like trash. There’s Wolf, a closet homosexual with a fixation on Mick Jagger and a crush on Berger which he violently denies. And then there’s Jeannie, who is pregnant and who announces with a megaphone near the end of Act I that “Anybody who says that pot is bad is full of [a substance unprintable in this review]!”

Hair in the park was relevant, laugh-out-loud funny, and especially magical because of its location. Central Park in 2008 became Central Park in 1968, and it was easy to draw connections between the current war and the war in Vietnam.

There were also controversial moments which, although brilliantly thought out, elicited distaste from the more theatrically conservative members of the crowd. For example, at the close of Act I, the entire cast save the actor who played Claude stripped naked before leaving the stage. Glorification of drug use, including a lengthy scene depicting a hallucination, was considered unnecessary by some. However, the scene captured a moment in history from the point of view of those who experienced it.

In March, seven months after the close of Hair in the park, the previews for the Broadway production of Hair began. Opening night was March 31.

The set wasn’t as great as it was in the park, but nothing will ever match the atmosphere of Hair at the Delacorte. The Broadway production had big shoes to fill. The curtain was made of strips of fabric sewn together, an image of the moon projected onto them. The production used real fire for the draft card burning scene, and the lighting was great. But the urban vibe of the brick wall in the back disagreed with the naturalism of the performance. Furthermore, a lot of the stage was covered in carpet, which gave the set an indoor feel. And there was even a tank car on stage (far before any war scenes) that described the militarism of the United States during the time, but also created a strange sense of foreboding at odds with the spirit of the show.

There were several replacement actors in the Broadway show. One actress who was markedly different from the actress in the park rendition was Caissie Levy, the woman who played Sheila. She sang Sheila’s song, Easy to be Hard, like she was a pop singer, and her acting was lacking.

Regardless, the Broadway version does capture the magic of Hair and is worth your attention. This is still the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Let the sun shine in.

 

 

WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT: THE REUBEN

Gideon Salzman-Gubbay ’10, Corey Switzer ’10, and Sam Levine ’10

Price: $5.00 + Tax.

This week we wanted to see how Adinah’s tackled a delicatessen legend: The Reuben. With a name that boasts it’s Jewish-New York character, The Reuben is an entree that is close to our hearts (maybe a little too close for our mothers’ liking). The sandwich is crammed with corned beef, layered with melted swiss, heaped with sauerkraut and topped off with a dollop of Russian dressing. Devouring too many Reubens would inevitably lead to a coronary catastrophe, which is a shame considering that it is one of the most divine creations ever assembled by human hands.

The melted swiss cheese flows over the stacked corn beef and the sweet dressing mellows the tang of the sauerkraut. At your request Adinah’s will crisp the bread, giving the sandwich a nice crunch before you reach its soft innards.

A note for the squeamish: Don’t be turned off by the sandwich’s humble appearance, suck in your gut and go for it—the Adinah’s guys have done this legend justice.

 

 

THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME COMES TO SOHO

George Winn ’12

Can’t make it to Cleveland to see the real Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? That’s all right, because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has just opened its newest addition: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex, right here in New York City, in the heart of SoHo.

Upon entering the annex, rock lovers will find themselves in a large room lined with metal plaques. These plates display the signatures of every inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including members of The Beatles, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and many more. Every so often, each group of signatures lights up and a famous song by the illuminated musicians briefly plays. Tour guides herd visitors into a larger room with chairs and a projection screen. A 10-minute video guides listeners through the many phases of rock history.

More rock history awaits in the next section of the annex, which highlights three influential artists from each main rock era. Song clips by each featured artist emanate from the audio headsets given to each guest at the entrance. Handwritten song lyrics by Bob Dylan and other fantastic memorabilia are showcased in the next room. The final room of the annex houses an entire exhibit dedicated to The Clash, featuring guitars used by the band members as well as other artifacts.

I strongly recommend the annex to any rock and roll lover. It will illuminate the rich history of one of the most enduring musical genres, and change the way you think about rocking.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC

Hours:

Thursday & Sunday: 11am-7pm

Friday & Saturday: 11am-9pm

Last Admission is sold 1 hour before closing time

 

 

BHSEC PRESENTS “THE CHILDREN’S HOUR”

Lauren Crawford ’12

Although BHSEC is not a theatre school, the Drama Club’s recent performance of Lillian Hellman’s “The Children’s Hour” has dispelled any notions that BHSECers can’t act. The play is a drama about an all-girls boarding school run by two women, Karen Wright (played by Naomi Boyce) and Martha Dobie (played by Aya Abdelaziz). These womens’ lives and careers are destroyed by one of their students, Mary Tilford (played by Sophie Lilla), who accuses them of being lovers. Act 1 and 2 take place during the accusations; Act 3 shows how Wright’s and Dobie’s lives have been affected.

The play opens to the students memorizing Latin, while their overdramatic teacher Mrs. Mortar (Sonia Feigelson, also the director) yells at them. Mrs. Mortar is a vain, foolish woman, and Feigelson keeps her character consistent throughout the play; the audience never sees a softer, less greedy side of Mortar.

The audience’s focus is automatically drawn to Sophie Lilla in the role of Mary Tilford, a conniving girl who causes a ruckus with her malicious lies. Lilla appears innocent at first, but as the play unfolds she manipulates everyone around her to get what she wants. Lilla does a phenomenal job of playing a character who is ostensibly innocent but is really an evil genius. Lilla never falters. She becomes Mary Tilford, simultaneously puerile and manipulative. After the performance, a ninth grader was overheard muttering that he would never think of Lilla as sweet and innocent again.

Abdelaziz and Boyce add a nice touch to the play’s leading roles. Abdelaziz gives a spine-chilling performance of a woman watching her life fall apart at the hands of a child. What really made Abdelaziz stand out as an actor was the fierce intensity with which she delivered each line. She managed to capture the hearts of the audience watching her slow destruction. Boyce played the other lead, co-headmistress of the boarding school and Abdelaziz’s best friend. Although Boyce gave a good, convincing performance, there were times when she seemed distant from the audience. She remained stable throughout the performance, losing some of the emotion that might have enhanced her character.

Kai Wallace-Krueger, Soren Dudley and Noa Bricklin also gave notable performances as Doctor Joseph Cardin, Mrs. Amelia Tilford, and Rosalie Wells respectively.

The play was a little long at two hours, and although Acts 1 and 2 were powerful, the cast seemed to lose steam during Act 3. Maybe this can be attributed to the playwrights and not the actors, since the roles were difficult to play. What ultimately made the play a success was its ability to make the audience squirm in their seats out of outrage or pity.

The actors did an exemplary job of projecting their emotions, leaving no doubt that the BHSEC student’s self-expression is not limited to the written word.

 
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