VOLUME 7, ISSUE 3 (JANUARY 2010)

VALLADOLID, SPAIN TO NEW YORK CITY

Nika Sabasteanski ’12

From Valladolid, the Spanish province where Christopher Columbus died, Miguel de Cervantes lived, and José Zorrilla y Moral was born, comes a group of students to BHSEC as part of the Spanish exchange program. The exchange students are staying in New York for three weeks and are being housed by BHSEC students. “It’s cool because I’m an only child, she’s [Ana Fernández] like my sister for three weeks,” commented Liana Violet Ray, one of the American 10th graders participating in the program. All of the participants seem to have developed a similar rapport with their Spanish guests. Bonds are forming between the Spaniards and the New Yorkers, and two distinct cultures are merging.

Greenwich Village has been a popular destination for the Spaniards, perhaps because of its tranquil atmosphere and sprinkling of European flavor. The students plan to visit Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Natural History Museum. All of these places are enticing, but among the girls there is a unanimous desire to go shopping at Abercrombie and Aeropostale, stores that do not exist in Valladolid.

Ana Fernández described her experience in New York in a shy, unsure voice full of wonder: “I like the city because I live in a small city, this is exciting for me, the tall buildings…” she said as her voice trailed off as she looked to Ray for help with her English. Fernández said she missed her family, but that she also wasn’t ready to back to Valladolid yet.

The Spanish exchange students have all decided that school in Spain is quite different from BHSEC. To begin with, the structure of the schooling system is different. When Spanish students enter our equivalent of a secondary school they call it Educación Secundaria Obligatoria, which lasts from age 12 to 15. Afterward they begin two years of university preparatory instruction called Bachillerato. The classes they attend in Bachillerato include Math, English language, the History of Spain, Philosophy, Economics, Geography, and Spanish, which is their literature class.

Spanish classroom protocol also differs from the BHSEC model. Ana said that, “In Spain we can’t eat or stand up in class.” The Spaniards all agreed that our school is much less strict. Our small class sizes, the intimacy of our lectures, and the one-on-one attention that we receive are all unique to BHSEC, but their school boasts a graduating class of approximately 24 students.

Carmen Martín Fernández, (Ella Fornari’s exchange student), Nerea González, and María Cuadra also attended BHSEC classes with their American students. The classes included Ms. Gamper’s 10th grade Chemistry class, Dr. Vernoff’s Global History class, and Dr. Freund’s 9th grade Americas class, as well as Drama, Math, and Spanish, which, they joked, was “up to par.”

They understood little during Ms. Gamper’s class but more during Dr. Vernoff’s class. However, they enjoyed all of the courses they attended and agreed that the American students are very nice, especially when they first arrived.

The Spaniards will return to Spain with jeans, converse sneakers, iPods, and a sense of New York City’s allure. Ana spoke of the awe she felt as she crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and gazed up at the Empire State Building; Carmen teased Ella about her exhaustion when they walked to the F train to go to Park Slope.

In February, the BHSEC students will travel to Spain for two weeks to experience life in Valladolid. They will tour Valladolid’s Cathedral and San Pablo Church, the Agustiniano monastery and the Plaza Mayor, while living with their new Spanish friends.

 

 

VOLUNTEER SURPLUS IN NEW YORK’S SOUP KITCHENS

Riana Shah ’10

Over the last two years, the Bard Student Activist Network (BSAN) has tried to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. However, it has been difficult to find a date to volunteer, especially during the holidays. Volunteering at a soup kitchen has been getting harder and harder, not because people don’t want to do it, but because it has become too popular. Soup kitchens often have an overflow of volunteers, sometimes so many that they don’t know what to do with them.

When Cathy Kim, a Year II BSAN member, tried to schedule a day to volunteer in early November, she was turned away. “The Coordinator at Father’s Heart Church’s Soup Kitchen on East 11th street said that they were booked though November and December due to the increase in the volume of volunteers during the holiday season,” Kim said. “I asked for many, many dates to volunteer before they finally found one that was available at the end of January.”

Why is there such a volunteering surplus at soup kitchens across New York City? “When I volunteer at a soup kitchen, I know exactly how I am helping. However, if I give money to someone homeless on the train, I don’t know what that money is going toward,” says Amelia Holcomb, a 10th grader. Sofia Johnson, also a 10th grader, adds, “I actually feel like I am making a difference because I can see the results right in front my eyes when I volunteer at a soup kitchen.”

Salina Kalik, a Year II, believes that “It is especially important to volunteer during these difficult economic times.” The New York Coalition against Hunger states that more than 87% of soup kitchens and food pantries have seen a significant rise in the number of people volunteering their services.

The soup kitchens are filled with volunteers. “During the holidays, we get many eager volunteers and sadly enough we sometimes have to turn them away because we don’t have enough jobs for them on the floor,” says Natalie Westford, the manager of a soup kitchen in Queens. Soup kitchens only need a specific number of volunteers each day and usually they have enough. When the holiday season comes around, people want to express their gratitude for all that they have by giving back to society. Volunteering at a soup kitchen is one of the most convenient and fulfilling activities they can do.

“If students and families really wish to volunteer, I would encourage them to schedule a time in advance to come in and volunteer,” adds Westford. Also, most soup kitchens run all year round, so there’s no need to wait for the holidays to volunteer.

However, soups kitchens are not the only way people can help reduce hunger in New York City and around the world. Westford says that “Adult volunteers can offer their skilled services such as legal or technical help to make a huge difference. Monetary donations are also extremely helpful.”

Students also can make a very big difference by holding fundraisers for their local soup kitchen or food banks, holding canned food collection drives and sometimes even by clicking a button.

For every click Kraft Foods donates a box of Mac and Cheese:

http://brands.kraftfoods.com/sharealittlecomfort/

For every correct answer Free Rice donates rice to developing countries while helping you improve your vocabulary: http://www.freerice.com/

So go out there and spread some holiday cheer by volunteering for a soup kitchen, or just clicking a button.

 

 

LET’S EXCHANGE THOUGHTS

Shannon Grant ’12 and James Marlow ’12

Welcome to the fantabulous holiday edition of Let’s Exchange Thoughts! We’ve spent countless hours pondering these deep questions, and we hope our answers quench your never-ending thirst for knowledge!

I can’t concentrate in math because, well, there’s this girl. What should I do?

To put it in mathematical terms, try to solve the equation of the heart, and graph out your love and/or lust. If you don’t understand how to do this, it’s probably because you haven’t been paying attention in class. Maybe she can help you catch up on all the stuff you missed while you were busy staring at her. It will give you an opportunity to talk to her and get to know her. We’re sure your math teacher will appreciate it too.

Why can’t penguins fly?

Penguins can’t fly because they look like nuns. Ironically, there is a sitcom named The Flying Nun, but for the most part, nuns are not capable of flying.

Have you ever sleepwalked?

Jmarlow awoke one night to find himself in the bathroom holding a toothpaste tube, squeezing the contents out onto a nonexistent toothbrush. Once he awoke, he figured he should brush his teeth anyway, despite the fact that it was 3am.

Which mascot is superior, The Bardvark or The Raptor?

The Bardvark is certainly the superior mascot. Bard students are not birds of prey. Bard students do like Arthur and anteaters, making the Bardvark our perfect mascot!

Why are unicorns so amazing and majestic?

Unicorns are amazing and majestic because they permeate every corner of our universe with love and happiness, making life worth living. Don’t be fooled by narwhals though. They’re out to get us.

What is the max angle you can lean your chair back without falling?

There is no specific angle seeing as each chair is of a different design, and each person is of a different weight. We don’t suggest leaning your chair back at any angle however, because you run the risk of falling and getting a nasty boo-boo! Trust us.

What is the proper procedure for dealing with a bloody nose?

Since bloody noses tend to occur during science labs (that means you, Nika!), we asked Ms. Gamper to give her two cents regarding the proper way to deal with nosebleeds. She states (from About.com): “…sit upright, pinch your nose for 10 minutes. If you want to, place a cold compress on the bridge of your nose to alleviate the bleeding.” It’s as simple as that!

Thanks for joining us for our Christmahanukwanza edition of Let’s Exchange Thoughts! Feel free to send us questions at letsexchangethoughts@gmail.com for our next issue! We do realize that “lets exchange thoughts@gmail.com” looks like “let sex change thoughts@gmail.com.” Get your mind out of the gutter.

 

 

DR. EWING, BHSEC’S NEW DEAN

George Winn ’12

This year, there is a new Dean working in room 407. On September 16, 2009, Stuart Stritzer-Levine retired as the Dean of BHSEC, a post he has held since 2008. Dr. Levine will now serve as a Professor of Psychology at Bard College, which he first joined in 1964.

His replacement is Dr. Tabitha Ewing. Dean Ewing aims to “redefine” the dean’s position: instead of forging an administrative relationship with the students, she plans to connect with the students on the same personal level that ordinary teachers do, and to learn what students really want in their classrooms. Her office is charged with the task of linking the intellectual lives of BHSEC Manhattan and Bard College by creating institutional ties for faculty members and students.

Dean Ewing hails from Baltimore, Maryland but moved to Reston, Virginia at age ten. She went to public school in both Baltimore and Reston. As a high school student, an English teacher and mentor suggested that Ewing had “problems with authority.” She suggested that Ewing consider attending Bard College, with its de-centralized curricular structure and emphasis on students’ intellectual independence.

In 1989, Dean Ewing graduated from Bard College, distinguishing herself in the study of history. Later, she earned her doctoral degree from Princeton University.

Dr. Ewing is currently a professor at Bard College as well as a BHSEC Dean. This semester at Bard she is teaching a course entitled “Captivity and Law.”

As an academic and historian, Dean Ewing focuses on the history and culture of early modern France. She is also interested in political rumor, oral communication, and the connection between what is formally printed and recorded and the rationale behind it. This connection is one of the main focuses of her courses at Annandale.

At the conclusion of my interview with Dean Ewing, I decided to try something a little different and asked her a series of rapid-fire questions on some of her favorite things:

Food: foie gras (goose liver).

Movie: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Book: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.

Favorite Music Genre: Baroque cello.

Favorite Music Artist: Biggie Smalls. She thinks that although his music may sound negative, he speaks the truth about society.

Childhood Dream: To become a molecular biologist.

Actor/Actress: Dame Judy Dench

Museum: The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

Historical Figure: David Walker, who was an abolitionist in the late 1700s to early 1800s.

 

 

SOME TEACHERISMS…

Courtesy of Dominic Veconi ’11

Dr. Brett: “I’m Canadian.”

Mr. Casey: “You can put your shoes in the oven but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.”

Dr. Brett: (later in class) “Rush and hockey have a special place in my mind BECAUSE I’M CANADIAN.”

Ms. Rowen: “I should be able to come to your house at three o’clock in the morning, knock on the door and ask you how to conjugate the present forms in your sleep, but don’t call the police.” (on memorizing verb conjugations)

Dr. Brett: (later in class) “Oh! Arcade Fire! THEY’RE CANADIAN!” (Arcade Fire is a rock band)

Dr. Brett: (later in class) “See, I was raised in Canada…”

Dr. Johnson: “I come to you as a jackass.” (accidentally combining the sentences “I come to you as a friend” and “You are acting like a jackass”)

Dr. Brett: (later in class) “Well, I have one American parent and one Canadian parent.

That’s why I was raised in CANADA.”

Dr. Birch: “Get it in your mouth! Use your whole mouth—and your lips—and your tongue—and your teeth and jaw.” (on sounding out poetry)

All Teacherisms are published with the explicit permission of the teachers quoted.

To suggest a Teacherism, you can join and post to the Facebook group “BHSEC Teacherisms: The Calendar” or send via email to dveconi@gmail.com.

 

 

BUZZ…SWAT…SQUISH…ITCH

Hannah Frishberg ’13 and Nina Chausow ’13

Mosquitoes are a nuisance. The summer insects are skilled at creating bothersome welts bigger than themselves and are able to kill creatures 50 times their own size. Yet most people are too busy scratching their bites to ask why those tiny insects make us so itchy.

In fact, only female mosquitoes bite. The blood is necessary for the development of fertile eggs, and because the males do not lay eggs, they do not need blood. This contradicts the common misconception that mosquitoes rely on blood for nutrients. In fact, a mosquito’s diet is very similar to a bee’s; both are dependent on sugar to fuel their nearly constant flight.

Mosquito bites produce swelling because of the saliva injected as the female mosquito penetrates the skin. The saliva helps stop blood from congealing in the mosquitoes’ tiny food canal and makes incursion simpler. Any itchy swelling that emerges after the mosquito departs is due to an allergic reaction to the saliva. When we scratch the bites, we only introduce the possibility of infection, as bacteria from the fingernails can get into the wounds.

As if these blood-sucking insects weren’t bad enough now, they’re getting bigger. As the amount of sewage water in America increases, so do mosquitoes’ size and speed. A study last summer, conducted by Fernando Chaves, an ecologist at Emory University in Atlanta, tested water from two streams for mosquito larvae. Mosquito larvae were discovered in every sample from the contaminated stream, while larvae appeared in less than 10 percent of samples from the clean water. Sewage water has many advantages for mosquitoes. In dirty water, there is more to eat and less to worry about, since almost none of the insects’ predators can survive the harsh conditions.

People all know that when the temperature drops, mosquitoes disappear. However, this chilly November, many people were complaining of mosquito bites. Some research uncovered the scary truth.

There are about 3,000 types of mosquitoes. Of these, only three carry diseases: the Anopheles gambiae, the Culex mosquitoes, and the Anoles mosquitoes. These live mainly in Africa and Asia and carry deadly diseases like malaria, West Nile fever and yellow fever. Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium that lives inside the mosquito. Malaria is one of the world’s most dangerous diseases, infecting almost half a billion people and killing more than a million each year. On top of that, most of the victims are children because they have no immunity to the disease, no vaccines, and no mosquito nets to protect them.

While this problem seems very distant, global warming is exacerbating it. In studies conducted as far back as 2001, scientists have noticed that mosquitoes were the first living things to mutate in response to climate change. Because the climate now stays warmer for longer periods, the mosquitoes begin hibernation later in the season, leaving more time for them to reproduce and spread. This means that if global warming keeps up, mutant mosquitoes could spread malaria across the globe.

 

 

BARDVARK HOLIDAY RECIPES

Smarlow’s Fabulous Snickerdoodles

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

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.

Jmarlow’s Amazing Pumpkin Bread

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter or margarine,

softened

3 cups sugar

3 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 (16 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.

2. Add eggs; mix well.

3. Combine dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened.

4. Stir in pumpkin.

5. Pour into two greased 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until bread tests done.

 

 

COMPOSTING IN THE CITY

Gen Fried ’13

To all you New Yorkers itching to save the environment, here’s something you can do: save your food scraps and finger nail clippings and head on down to the Compost Collection stand at the Union Square Green Market. They won’t make you pay. Instead, they’ll gladly take it down to their compost facility located on East River Park, where they compost organic materials.

The organization that runs the program is called the Lower East Side Ecology Center, which was one of the first organizations to offer community-based recycling and composting programs in New York. The Ecology Center’s main goal is to make a “more sustainable New York City.” They provide many services such as free compost collection and environmental education. The Ecology Center also recycles electronic waste, and it is developing local stewardships of green space, working towards awareness in old and young alike.

The Ecology Center was co-founded in 1987 by Christina Datz-Romero, who began by traveling door to door with her husband on the Lower East Side, recycling cans and paper. When the city took over that job, she moved on to composting. Now, almost 1,000 people come to Union Square each week to give the Ecology Center their compostable material.

At the compost facility, an initial decomposition process is followed by curing, which uses live earthworms and takes about three months. Because they use earthworms, the finished product is sometimes referred to as vermicompost or worm castings. Once curing is done, they either create finished compost or ready-to-use potting soil mix for indoor and outdoor plants. Both products are available for purchase at their stand in Union Square.

These profits help support the Ecology Center along with other outside donations. You can help by purchasing their products and spreading the word to your friends.

To learn more about how composting works, and to find out what can and cannot be composted, visit http://www.lesecologycenter.org. There you can learn more about composting options, informational workshops, and other programs. If you are interested in composting at home, visit http://www.nyccompost.org for more information.

The Ecology Center is at Union Square on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday between 8 AM to 5 PM so be sure to check it out!

 

 

NASA FINDS WATER ON THE MOON

Hannah Frishberg ’13

In the 50 years since Neil Armstrong’s famous “small step,” six Apollo missions, all successful, have landed twelve men on the moon. Six American flags have been planted there, and on October 9, 2009, NASA discovered water on the moon. The $78 million mission involved deliberately crashing the SUV-size LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) and a 2.5 ton empty rocket motor into the Cabeus Crater, the permanently shadowed region in the moon’s south pole. The impact made by the satellite exposed materials buried deep within the moon.

The explosion created a two-part cloud; first vapor and fine dust plumed out, followed quickly by an ejection of heavier matter. Subsequent to the satellite’s collision, a rocket was sent into the debris cloud to collect samples. From these samples, NASA scientists were able to determine the quantity of water on the moon.

26 gallons of water were found during the procedure. Despite the fact that there are significant quantities of water on the moon, it’s possible that the soil of Cabeus is drier than that of our Earth’s deserts. Analysis of the data continues, but it’s too soon to guess at the specific water concentrations in the moon’s soil.

There is a wide rage of possibilities for the origins of the water. Chief lunar scientist Michael Wargo at NASA headquarters in Washington lists solar winds, giant molecular clouds, comets, some earth involvement, or the moon itself as potential sources of the water.

Despite the gravitas of such a breakthrough, amateur astronomers on earth were disappointed by the crash. Expecting a massive, watery space explosion, these onlookers were let down by the reality that the collision produced an effect far from cosmic fireworks.

As NASA said in a formal statement, “The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon”. The discovery also fuels the idea that humans might be able to survive on the moon. If the lunar ice is plentiful, it could greatly assist future moon-pioneers’ survival. Lunar ice could serve as a beverage, rocket fuel, and air to breathe (when broken apart into oxygen and hydrogen) for space settlers. Just 50 years ago, humans had yet to leave Earth, and now we’re thinking of living on the moon!

 

 

GLEE!

Hannah Frishberg ’13

Labeled “American musical comedy-drama,” Fox’s newest TV show is a hit! Topping the iTunes charts, Fox picked up the series pilot of Glee within 15 hours of receiving the script, and the truly gleeful show now has over 7.46 million viewers. Created by Ryan Murphy, Glee boasts a truly talented cast, and is relatable, hilarious, and engaging. It’s also free and updated weekly on Hulu.com or Fox’s website, which is always appealing.

Set at the fictional William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio, Glee focuses on the students enrolled in the school’s show choir, also known as a glee club. The show boasts a surprisingly diverse range of music; the choir performs both pop ballads and Broadway tunes, with the occasional mash up. It covers everything from Neil Diamond’s timeless Sweet Caroline to Kanye West’s fairly current Gold Digger and Cabaret’s classic Maybe This Time. The cast is well chosen and fully equipped for each piece, giving the songs a fresh but loyal feel. The instrumentals and choreography are quite basic, only a backdrop for the actors’ brilliant vocals.

At first, the show seemed to be a slightly more adult, TV version of High School Musical with the focus on song and dance, the stereotyped characters, and their seemingly flawless lives. Now eleven episodes in (halfway through the first season), it is clear that Glee is far from the average feel-good teen drama. As the plot continues to develop with each increasingly dramatic episode, Murphy chooses to delve into the pigeonhole personalities of the cast, expertly sifting through the perceptions and hopes of high school outcasts. His take is refreshing, a standout among the underdeveloped school misfit stories that make up a gratuitous portion of today’s pop culture.

When I entered high school this year, I mentally prepared myself for a world like the one in Glee, where differences were frowned upon, and judgment and gossip were a large part of life. So naturally I was surprised to find not only that the environment at BHSEC is exceptionally welcoming, but also that the student body consists predominantly of open-minded people happy to help you analyze Emerson or figure out your Mandarin homework.

Reflecting on my preconceptions of Bard, it is clear that I based most of my expectations on the media, on movies about high school and not friends’ experiences. Certainly there are some schools like William McKinley, where being enrolled in the Glee club is ‘social suicide’, and students hurl soda at the social misfits. But at Bard, nobody is bombarded with any sort of beverage, no matter what their crime.

 

 

SPORTS ARENA OF THE MONTH: MOSES MABHIDA STADIUM

Maverick Cummings ’13

That Durban loves of football is evident in the extraordinary effort put into the new Moses Mabhida stadium, the futuristic structure that will be one of the key sites for the 2010 World Cup Soccer Games. There was controversy over whether Durban needed a new sporting arena when there are so many other designated venues.

Mabhida arena raised red flags, especially since it cost R2.5m ($336,252). However, the venue has been designed as a state-of-the-art dome for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and promises to house many serious soccer fans. Durban will host five “group games”, a second round game, a quarterfinal and a semi final over the course of the World Cup games.

The stadium is a three row bowl-like structure, with an enormous arch positioned over the center of the field. The arch measures about 116 yards and weighs 2600 tons. Running along this arch is cable car that carries visitors up to its mid point for spectacular views of the city. The roof is made from 46,000 square meters of Teflon-coated glass fiber membranes, and is connected to the arch by 95mm steel cables. Roughly 12 million man-hours were spent building this stadium!

There are over 70,000 seats in the stadium and each offers excellent sight lines. About 50 percent of the stadium’s seats are located on the main entrance level. There are also 150 suites with 7,500 seats that offer a range of different hospitality options. Even after the World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, which will also be hosted there, the stadium will be the ideal spot for cultural events and over 40 different sports including track, field and rugby.

On big game days, Walter Gilbert Road will be closed to commuters, creating a safe walkway for fans to the stadium. Durban’s People Mover bus will offer public transportation to the stadium, making it easy for spectators to get there. A new Kings Park Railway Station is also going to be constructed across from the stadium.

 

 

IS ‘PRECIOUS’ PRECIOUS?

Sophie Donlon ’12

The film Precious is the story of Clareese Precious Jones (played by Gabourey Sidibe), an obese teenager living in Harlem in 1987. When the story begins, she is pregnant for the second time by her father. She is abused emotionally, physically, and sexually by her mother Mary, surprisingly played by the comedian Mo’Nique. It’s hard to watch as Precious’ mother constantly demeans her, calling her stupid and useless.

Precious is kicked out of school for being pregnant and her principal refers her to an alternative school called Each One Teach One. The decision to enroll at Each One Teach One changes Precious’ life.

The main message of the story seems to be that through education you can overcome any obstacles. However, the movie also focuses on female relationships. The happiest parts of the movie come from Precious’ teacher Ms. Rain, and from the friendships she forms at Each One Teach One. The only male characters present in the film are Precious’ father, who remains a sweaty shadow in flashbacks, her friendly nurse, and her handsome, light skinned fantasy boyfriend who comes to her in moments of despair.

Precious was the best movie I’ve seen this year. Gabourey Sidibe delivers an amazing performance in her first film. Although the story is compelling, without the amazing actors it could have become a caricature of impoverished African American’s lives. Instead, because of Precious, the driving force in the film, you never for a second doubt that you are watching the life of a real girl, not just an actor on the screen. You find yourself laughing out loud one minute, and sobbing the next.

Mo’Nique and Mariah Carrey are both unrecognizable in their roles as Precious’ mother and welfare worker respectively. Mo’Nique becomes a repulsive character that is so different from her sassy comedic persona. Mariah Carrey with no make up and a slight moustache is definitely not a diva.

Lenny Kravitz as the male nurse who befriends Precious may still be a stone cold fox, but he is barely recognizable. The film reveals why he wears sunglasses all time: he looks a little crossed eyed.

There has been a lot of Oscar buzz around Precious, and every bit of it is deserved. I was confident that I was going to like the film, but I left the theater speechless and wishing I could see it again. I think anyone would appreciate the tragic beauty of Precious.

 

 

HUNKY VAMPIRES, GIGGLING GIRLS, NEW MOON

Jack Jenkins ’12

A seductive vampire ex-fiancé, a hunky werewolf love interest, an intense supernatural rivalry, a Machiavellian vampire-gangster society, plus one attractive girl in the middle of it all: that’s the recipe for the hormone flood known as New Moon, the latest movie based on the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer.

The film centers on Bella, a frustrated vampire wanna-be with a lingering desire to be with her ex-bloodsucker, the pale and undead but otherwise attractive Edward. Bella’s loneliness when Edward leaves transforms her into a nightmare-prone, boy-crazy, risk-taking teenage stereotype.

The plot is fairly simple; as the movie progresses, the romantic tension escalates into a rivalry between Bella-hungry monsters. Bella seems to be the object of everyone’s interest in one way or another; Edward and Jacob (a “normal” guy who, by some genetic mutation, has the power to shape-shift into a werewolf) both love and protect her while Laurent (a hip vampire with dreads and a thirst for blood) and Victoria (a redhead chick out for revenge) seek to harm her.

The plotline of New Moon could be interpreted as sexist; a bunch of ripped magical creatures fighting over a girl’s “delicious blood” qualifies as disrespectful. I can’t blame the movie for Meyer’s plot, but the directors certainly made an effort to sexualize the concept of Bella’s ‘blood virginity.’

The first few books of the Twilight series, Twilight and New Moon, are really just the story of regular teenagers’ lives: girl gets guy, girl looses guy, girl hooks up with sympathetic other guy, guy number one comes back, and after a test of commitment from the girl, they get back together. With the vampires and werewolves edited out, the story would have little appeal; the addition of powerful and manly mythical beasts intensified the emotional relationships and successfully attracted a predominantly female audience.

Whether or not New Moon serves up sexism to smitten teenagers, the makers of the movie accurately captured the vibe of the books. The movie boasts excellent animation, powerful acting, and crickets chirping in the background for every kiss. No matter what I say, people who enjoyed the books and the first movie will (if they haven’t already) flock to see it. But personally, the most entertaining moments weren’t onscreen, but in the audience, where the girls seated behind me burst into giggles whenever a half-naked hunk appeared onscreen. Need I say more?

 

 

SKINS CROSSES THE ATLANTIC

Juliet Glazer ’12

Characters that sport British accents and drive on the left side of the road aren’t the only things that make the British BBC show Skins distinctly un-American. The show follows the life of a group of teenagers in Bristol, England. Like many real teenagers on both sides of the pond, they do a lot of drugs, have a lot of sex, and don’t get along with their parents. However, Skins shows more of this than most American Prime-Time TV channels would allow: plenty of nudity, drug use, sex, and—god forbid—an abortion.

Nevertheless, MTV announced this summer that they would develop an American version of the show, set in Baltimore. Staying true their British counterparts, who casted teenagers who had never acted professionally before, the producers held an open casting call in November in Manhattan. An announcement from the casting company encouraged “brave, charismatic, genuinely edgy teens” to audition, including those with no acting experience.

At the auditions, prospective actors, ages 15 to 18 (IDs were necessary) were taken in groups of four. They were given prompts with scenes, ranging from having a conversation while getting high to sex tape scandal. The aspiring actors were assigned characters, and they had to act out the scenes for a given amount of time. Then, a lucky few got call-backs.

BHSEC sophomore Hayley Barnett was the 79th person to audition out of what she said was easily five hundred lined up on the Bowery at only nine in the morning. “We were given a scene where one guy and his girlfriend made a sex tape, and he posted it on YouTube without her knowing,” Barnett said, adding that the scene went well. “It was actually interesting to improv a scene that was really different from those one experiences in theatre classes.”

Skins was developed by father and son team Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain. All of the writers are in their twenties or younger, which gives the show a more realistic perspective. MTV will try to stay true to this model by using young, untested screen writers, and will work with the British team as well.

Barnett said that all types of people were at the auditions, and clearly not all were experienced actors. “The reason I went wasn’t to get ‘discovered’ or anything like that,” she said. “I really just wanted to go to have some fun, and it certainly delivered.”

 

 

SANDWICH REVIEW: THE ‘AVENUE C’

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

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Spiced turkey, Muenster cheese, Tomato, lettuce, and a hot pepper on 7-grain bread

$5.50 + Tax

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Choosing the right sandwich these days at Adinah’s Farm is almost as difficult as navigating the Common Application website. The Adinah’s menu has expanded to include so many options that we wonder how management can include so many things without thoroughly exceeding a word limit.

The Avenue C is the type of sandwich that you expect to find smushed in a brown bag at the bottom of your backpack and wolf down as you rush to finish an assignment due at the start of the next period. Since the sandwich is made on 7-grain bread rather than the hero bread that most Adinah’s sandwiches are made on, it is considerably smaller than Adinah’s other sandwiches. The turkey, muenster cheese, tomato, lettuce, and peppers are all nearly stacked between the two layers of bread, giving the sandwich an unassuming feel that screams ‘thanksgiving leftovers.’

While it doesn’t look like much, the sandwich packs a formidable punch. The turkey provides a good base for the flavor of the tomato and the hot peppers give it that extra kick (not too much though). There’s a nice blend of flavors and, unlike some of Adinah’s other sandwiches, it isn’t so overloaded with stuff that it’s hard to eat. The muenster cheese is nice as well, but unfortunately there isn’t quite enough of it.

The sandwich gets a little soggy and could benefit from a bit of warming up. Overall though, it’s good. Not excellent, but pretty close. Don’t expect this sandwich to appear on Top Chef anytime soon, but it will give you the extra energy you need to make it through the rest of the day, or those last college applications.

 

 

SANDWICH MANIFESTO

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

Our monthly sandwich review was missing from last month’s issue of the Bardvark for a good reason. After an incident at Adinah’s Farm we retreated to the caves of our minds in order to solidify our new philosophy: The Sandwich Politíc.

The fact is that the majority of Adinah’s Farm’s income comes from BHSEC students and it has occurred to us that they are able to exploit us because they are the only half-decent food proprietor in the vicinity of our school. Why should we pay between five and six dollars for a sandwich that the Pioneer Supermarket used to make for only three dollars? Why do we give them so much of our money to eat items that have been on display for several days (take a look at their paninis)? We have always been conscious of the fact that Adinah’s Farm does not treat us very well but it is time for us to realize that they need us.

We are not asking you to boycott Adinah’s Farm, we just think that maybe we should all reflect on what exactly they contribute to our community.

We will continue to review Adinah’s Farm’s products, but with a new focus: how to get the best value meal. It’s easy to find a worthy meal, but it’s time to ask ourselves whether or not the meal was worth it.

 

 

REFORMING THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM THROUGH NOVIOLENT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Aya Abdelaziz ’12

On the morning of Thursday, October 15th 2009 my mother was arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience. She had been protesting on the private property of United Health Care, against what she felt was an inefficient and exploitive health care system, and for a “single payer system” that would provide only government funded healthcare for all citizens, like Medicare. With 13 other people, she refused the command of federal authority when asked to leave the premises and was taken to the 6th precinct at West 10th Street.

That morning my mother contemplated risking arrest. She had responsibilities; as a professor at LaGuardia Community College, she had students waiting for her in the research lab. Nonetheless, my mother made the decision that her responsibilities as a citizen in a democratic society were as important as her responsibilities as a teacher. While I prepared myself for another day of school, she prepared herself for her first day behind bars, contacting her students and colleagues to inform them of her decision.

It was raining that day so I had a hard time making my way over to meet my father after school. When I finally arrived to the waiting area of the small, boxy building, I was greeted by at least eight others. There were lawyers, witnesses, and other activists all waiting in support of the fourteen detainees. I tried to peer at my mom through the small rectangular window of the cell, but I only saw an occasional bobbing head of orange hair.

My mother didn’t come home until the next evening. She had always spent late nights at the lab or on conference trips, but this was different. I wasn’t sure how long she would be away, or how her trial would conclude. When I finally saw her, I wanted to know what it was like to choose nonviolent civil disobedience as a mean of protest. I also wanted to know why she was willing to spend 32 hours on the bench of a prison cell. She told me that nonviolent civil disobedience is “a way of re-capturing democracy, which has been stolen by the money of the health care industry.”

I wanted to know exactly what she meant. She threw names at me: Max Baucus and Joseph Lieberman, both Democratic senators with key roles in the newly proposed health care bill. They are also senators who oppose the “public option”. A public option is a government-funded health care plan that would provide low cost health care to citizens unable to afford insurance provided by for-profit, private insurers. This is not an alien system; quite a few countries have government health care plans, sometimes along with private options.

These countries include Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Trinidad, Panama, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Tobago, Venezuela, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and many more.

Max Baucus is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and the lead author of the healthcare reform bill. His bill proposes that over a span of ten years, citizens contribute $856 billion dollars to a plan that will prevent private health care companies from turning down customers with pre-existing conditions, and set up non-profit, consumer-owned insurance organizations to compete with private companies. Although this bill is a step closer to a free public plan, it does not cater to the immediate needs of those desperate for, but unable to afford, medical care.

In fact, it requires almost all uninsured to put their money into private companies that would hopefully begin to lower their prices because of competition with non-profit cooperatives. Max Baucus may be hesitant to promote a single payer plan that abolishes all private insurers because he is personally funded by the healthcare industry. According to The Nation, 2.8 million in total has been awarded to Senator Baucus over the life of his campaign by the healthcare industry. $464,850 of that $2.8 million came from private insurance companies alone.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, who was the only Democratic senator pledged to oppose Max Baucus’ healthcare reform bill (which vaguely advocates for an alternative to private insurers) stated that he was against a public option of any kind. Lieberman has also been provided with large sums of money from the healthcare industry. During his 20-year career in the senate, Lieberman has received a total of $2.4 million, $225,417 from private insurance companies, including $56,200 donated by the various wealthy employees of the Aetna insurance company.

During my research I began to understand the motivation behind my mother’s nonviolent acts of civil disobedience. The people in charge of controlling the healthcare industry are already controlled by it. We live in a society where people who have the least are targeted the most by an exploitive industry. People are forced to rely on companies that take advantage of their desperation to make a profit. Money should not be the focus in providing medical care for our citizens.

Maybe it is time to unite in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. The people need care now, not in one year and not in ten years. We cannot rely on our senators or even our president, who openly stated in 2003 that he was for a single payer plan, but once in office claimed that his words were taken out of context. If we want change then we must enforce it. It is our duty as citizens to educate and act for our country.

 

 

THEATER PRACTICUM PUTS THE ‘HEAT’ BACK IN THEATER

Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

On December 15, 16, and 17, the College Theater Practicum class performed “Anna in the Tropics,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama written by Nilo Cruz. Spanish music greeted the audience members as they filed through the auditorium’s double doors into 1929 Tampa, Florida.

The room quieted as theater teacher and director Jenny Tibbles-Jordan stepped into the spotlight shining on the drawn stage curtains. She explained that lectors were storytellers who read aloud from novels and newspapers to divert and educate factory workers.

Max Botstein, dapper in a jacket and Panama hat, played the lector in question, Juan Julian.

Newly employed at Santiago (Denzil Davis) and Ofelia’s (Maya Osborne) cigar factory, he decides to introduce the workers to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The story (along with Julian’s magnificently moussed hair) arouses the imaginations and desires of Ofelia and Santiago’s two daughters, played by Naomi Boyce and Sonia Feigelson.

Feigelson’s acting was strong as usual, despite a jarring switch midway through the performance. Her character, Marela, who began as a vivacious little girl, transformed into a coquettish young woman enthralled by the factory lector.

Year II Alessio Franko played Cheche, the brother who is desperate to modernize the factory and get rid of the lector, whose stories and antics remind him of his adulterous wife. Franko was expressive and extremely convincing. He left BHSEC’s Alessio backstage and skillfully played a dual role; Cheche sometimes serves as a faceless villain, but he is also a bitter and neglected, but passionate man. As Conchita (Naomi Boyce) says to her husband (Alex Haviland), Franko did “as actors do…They stop playing themselves and they give in.”

Although the plot is beautifully entwined with the story of Anna Karenina, and explores the diversity of love, some of the themes in the play were not fully developed. Although Cheche fought to mechanize the factory (and thus make the lector obsolete), it was unclear how modernity informed the rest of the characters.

The costumes (Loren Shaw), lighting (Derek Wright and Jonathan Mallozzi), and set (Gian Marco Lo Forte) were all fantastic. Two folding screens and a string of paper lanterns set the mood, transforming the dusty stage into small town Ybor City. It was clear how much time and energy went into every aspect of the production.

“Anna in the Tropics” was meticulously rehearsed. The characters were well developed, and the actors related to each other believably. The blocking and the transitions between scenes were flawless. Bravo, Theater Practicum!

 

 

YOU’RE APPLYING EARLY? WAIT, YOU TOO?

Nadiyah Ford ’10

“You’re applying early? Wait, you too?” If you’ve recently taken a stroll down the BHSEC halls, you’ve probably overheard this conversation. This year, a surprising amount of seniors have chosen to apply early decision or early action to college. Overall about a third of the class of 2010 has chosen to apply early to colleges. Year IIs are stressed, counselors’ desks are packed, and it’s not even January yet.

For those of you unfamiliar with the college application process, applying early is a chance to submit your application to colleges in November to early December and receive a decision around December 15th. There are generally two types of early application plans: early action (EA) is a non-binding commitment, whereas early decision (ED) is a promise to attend the school if you’re accepted. The process is the same as applying regular decision, but with earlier deadlines.

Applying early can be stressful. While teachers can be very understanding, the workload is not any lighter in Year II, and typing up supplements along with midterm papers can be overwhelming.

Although rushing to fill out applications is stressful, waiting until spring might make students even more nervous. “Students are anxious about waiting,” said Dean of Studies and CTO advisor Michael Lerner. By the first semester of Year II, it’s not enough to just have a college list; seniors want to be enrolled already. Dr Marion, another CTO advisor, agrees. “It’s a competitive market,” she said. “Students are nervous about competition from other students. They also apply early decision so they can set the rest of their list. Once they’re enrolled in a school they won’t have to apply to their safety school and can apply to more of their reaches.”

Corey Switzer is a case in point. After posting his early acceptance to the University of Edinburgh on the college acceptance board in the Dean’s room, he says he won’t be applying to any of his safety schools.

Along with anxiety, there are other factors encouraging students to applying early. Students who don’t qualify for application and SAT fee waivers would rather apply to fewer schools to save money. There is also a rumor that students who apply early have better chance of getting accepted and receiving better financial aid packages than the students who apply regular decision. “Word got out,” said Ms. Azeglio, “that applying early can get rid of some worries.”

Rumors aside, applying early has its benefits. Leah Gesoff, also a CTO advisor, feels that “it’s a good thing because it encourages students to get their applications out quickly” and it gets her started on her paperwork.

But don’t fret if you’re a senior who hasn’t. CTO director Beth Cheikes said: “You should not be stressed out. Peers who applied earlier don’t have an advantage; only a reassuring decision earlier.” While it may seem that there are more early applicants than there were in last year’s graduating class, CTO advisor Sara Haberman says that “It fluctuates every year. There are so many unique factors for the individual student.”

Year II Marla Bazan applied early to Kalamazoo College and College of Wooster because “the process was very simple and straightforward,” although she said that it was still frustrating. Nathan Campbell didn’t feel as rushed; in fact he was relaxed about applying early to Yale University. “I’m one of the few students from our school who applied early to Yale so I might seem a bit more interested. If I don’t get into Yale, I’ll just have to apply regular to my other choices.” And he’s right. If you don’t get in early, you can be one of the thousands of high school students applying regular decision and your chances are just as good.

Second semester marks the end of Year II college advisory. Soon, all the Year IIs will have left to do is wait.

 

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