VOLUME 7, ISSUE 4 (MARCH 2010)

A FEW TEACHERISMS…

Courtesy of Dominic Veconi ’11

*Dr. Vernoff walks in with flashing 2010 glasses*

Student: “Nice glasses!”

Dr. Vernoff: “I enjoy them.”

Dr. Martin: “I’m going to give you all retrospective F’s for last year!”

*Someone’s phone rings* Dr. Hale: “I’ll get it!”

Ms. Fu: “Window will not teach you Chinese!”

Dr. Clark: “She would be a perfectly good student if not for the necrophilia.” (The teacher intended to say “narcolepsy”)

Dr. Birch: “And so Zeus was like the big daddy guy. You don’t piss him off.” (On gods’ deference towards Zeus)

Dr. Johnson: “I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to anyone, but you’re all going to die.”

Student: “Who invented math?”

Dr. Rosenberg: “Well, at some point, people realized that if you have two sheep and then three more sheep, you have five sheep. And that if you have one horse and another horse, you have two horses.”

Student: “Who invented words?”

Dr. Rosenberg: “Um… sheep.”

*later*

Student: “Dr. Rosenberg, do words really come from sheeps?”

Dr. Rosenberg: “First, the plural for sheep is not sheeps, it’s sheep. And second, well yes, some words, like BAAAA.”

 

 

PICA DISORDER

Nika Sabasteanski ‘12

We all saw the mysterious signs in the halls and staircases announcing Year 2, Q Gardere’s presentation on pica disorder. The signs introduced some of the odd symptoms of this disorder: eating chalk, ice, hair, salt, and dirt. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the sign read, than you might have pica. Enthralled listeners gathered in Dr. Kolkas’ room after school for a Future Doctors and Scientists of America meeting to listen to the presentation

Q introduced her presentation, titled “Pica—Got Dirt?” and then gave a definition: people with pica habitually eat things that aren’t meant for human consumption—anything without a significant nutritional value. There are different types of Pica disorder such as coprophagia (feces), geophagia (soil, clay, chalk), hyalophagia (glass), mucophagia (mucus), pagophagia (ice) and trichophagica (hair and wool).

While this may seem odd or ridiculous, pica is a serious psychological and organic disorder that affects children, pregnant women, people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and people in developing countries where nutritional foods are hard to come by.

When the disorder is medical in nature, the patient usually suffers from deficiency of minerals like iron and zinc, or malnutrition. Essentially, the body believes that it is eating something delicious and of high nutritional value. The body tricks the mind into eating things that most of us consider revolting.

Q broke down the disease even further. She said that 10 to 32 percent of children ages one to six and 21.8 to 25.8 percent of institutionalized patients suffer from pica disorder. In Haiti and developing parts of Africa, 63.7-74% of pregnant women who suffer from malnourishment also suffer from Pica. 8.1% of pregnant African American women who are pregnant also have the disorder.

Beyond the statistics, the side effects of pica are alarming. Side effects include lead poisoning, digesting poisonous chemicals, stomach tearing, gastro-intestinal obstruction from eating hair, and parasites. The side effects come from the materials digested by the pica patient and some require invasive treatment to correct. Treatment for pica is developing but currently the treatment depends on whether the origin is psychological or medical.

If the disorder is biological, pills like SSRI medications (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are prescribed. These pills inhibit the neurotransmitter called serotonin and are used to treat many psychological disorders. Therapy is used to help cure those who suffer from the psychological variety of pica. Therapists help create negative associations with patients’ behaviors. For instance, treatment might include making their “food” of choice smell like ammonia.

The prognosis? Pica can be treated and may be resolved in several years with proper treatment.

 

 

THE YOUNGREN

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

______________________________________________________

Pastrami, Melted Swiss, Mustard, Lettuce, and Tomato on a Hero

$5.75 (with tax)

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What is a meal? Is supposed to be nutritious? Should it be big enough to bust our guts? We would argue that for a meal to be a meal, it should do both of these things. But a pile of rice and beans and salad could meet these requirements. The Youngren, on the other hand, took our notion of a meal to an entirely new level.

Like its namesake, this is not a sandwich that messes around. You don’t need to go to Katz’s and spend half of your college tuition on a pastrami sandwich, because you will devour The Youngren’s the supple, tender curves of pastrami faster than you can say ‘anti-derivative.’ The melted Swiss cheese on the sandwich not only complements the sandwich, but also evokes a warmth analogous to the way you feel when you look into Dr. Youngren’s eyes for the first time. The mustard adds an ‘aha!’ to the sandwich—the same way you feel when you realize you can simply solve a calculus problem using integration by parts.

We have to be honest; the main difference between this sandwich and its namesake is that this sandwich is not perfect. If you are not a mustard lover, this sandwich is not for you. When you take the sandwich out of its wrapping, you will see that grease has permeated the packaging. Also, make sure that you tell the Adinah’s guys to heat this sandwich up, to unleash the blended flavors of pastrami, Swiss cheese, and mustard.

We were so pleased when Adinah’s told us that they were interested in putting this sandwich on their menu. We cannot think of a better sandwich to honor Dr. Youngren. We hope that the phrase ‘have a Youngren!’ will be integrated into the BHSEC lexicon in years to come.

 

 

MS. JULIA CARIAS: PROFESSOR, JOURNALIST, HUMANITARIAN

Nika Sabasteanski ’12

On January 27, 2010 Porfirio Lobo Sosa was elected president of Honduras after years of corrupt elected officials and a coup d’état that threatened to tear the nation apart. In the United States, we have a stable democracy protected by our Constitution and enforced by Congress and a careful system of checks and balances. Yet in Honduras, a third world country in Central America, democracy hung in the balance.

Between 2006 and 2009, President Jose Manuel Zelaya, a power hungry conservative, attempted to amend the Honduran Constitution. Honduran presidents are allotted one term of four years and any additional time is illegal, but Zelaya appealed for a general vote in Congress to extend his term indefinitely. Zelaya was also caught falsifying public documents and is now accused of fraud and abuse of authority. He justified his appeal with documents from Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, who had successfully amended the constitution to extend his presidency indefinitely and is still leading the country after eleven years.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Honduras decided to expatriate Jose Zelaya to Costa Rica. The military conducted his expulsion, an undemocratic approach that caused turmoil in Honduras and in the international community. Subsequently, Zelaya covertly reentered the country and entered the Brazilian Embassy, which only increased the turbulence in the country and caused the United States to withdraw aid.

Honduras was torn asunder. Even families and small businesses were divided over the unscrupulousness of their government and the uncertainty of the future of their homeland. In the midst of this upheaval, Julia Carias, BHSEC Spanish professor and Honduran native, attempted to find the truth for the deserving citizens of Honduras. “As a native of Honduras I grew very concerned how the mainstream media was covering the political. I wasn’t very convinced with what most media outlets were reporting, as it was different many times from what family members, friends and other community members who live in Honduras were sharing with us here in the US,” Carias says.

Carias traveled to Honduras as a journalist to report for El Diario/La Prensa, which holds a reputation as the best Hispanic daily newspaper. Her assignment was to discover the facts of the 2010 election. “[I wanted to] remember that this was going to be the perfect opportunity to investigate for myself and report on the matter,” Carias says, “I always feel there are more then two sides to every story, one for each conflicting side and the outside perspective. As a country, plagued by corruption for a very long time, Honduras is no stranger to these type of challenges but I had never seen it on this magnitude.”

In addition to being immersed in the struggles of Honduras, Ms. Carias was privy to an exclusive interview with the current President, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, at the Presidential House. However, due to the President’s hectic schedule, they agreed on another, more in- depth interview, which will be published in the upcoming months.

Ms. Carias, who is not only a teacher and a journalist, but also a documentary film maker, is currently creating a documentary about the colorful, rich history of her birthplace, Honduras.

 

 

CREEPY-COOL: TIM BURTON AT THE MOMA

Nora Miller ’12

The Tim Burton Exhibit at the MoMA is so popular that the museum requires guests to buy timed tickets on the weekends and holidays. Tim Burton’s works include James and the Giant Peach, The Corpse Bride, and Sweeny Todd. His movies are ostensibly for children, but the dark humor veers away from the Disney blueprint in a way not everyone takes well to.

In the Corpse Bride, the protagonist gets lost in the woods and is forced into the underground world of the dead with his new bride, who happens to be a corpse. The necrophilia in the animated movie almost seems sweet. The bride, who pulls maggots out of her eyes and habitually rearranges her bones, is pretty cute.

I watched James and the Giant Peach with my kindergarten class and although it’s a twisted movie based on an even more twisted book, we loved it. Tim Burton’s magical imagination is limitless. The whimsical world Burton creates is exactly like the world of a kid’s imagination, which is why it seems so logical to children.

The exhibit, which is difficult for non-members to get into, opens with a door shaped like a giant, bloody mouth. After giving our (expensive) tickets to the collector, we entered the exhibit, as disgruntled non-members looked on from the other, slow-moving line.

Chelsea Sue, a BHSEC student and intern at the MoMA, was slightly put off by all the hype over the exhibit. “Is Tim Burton there because his art is genius?” Sue asked, “Or is it just because the MoMA needs to make more money, needs more patrons?”

The first room does live up to the hype. It is very dark, with neon lights glowing from a slowly rotating carousel that features a variety of odd-looking creatures, including a three-headed sloth. My six-year-old cousin Samantha suggested we play a game called “What’s your favorite mutated animal?”

The walls of each room are adorned with sketches. Some of them are barely penciled in, just doodles, and some are more developed. “You’re drawn in for the movies, for the props,” Sue explains, “But you also have his little-known sketches, and that’s a great thing. You come for the Beetle Juice but you stay for the alien.”

 

GODZILLA’S OLD PAD, TOKYO DOME

Maverick Cummings ’13

The last thing every New York Yankee fan wants to think about is Hideki Matsui (“Godzilla”) leaving the Yankees, but this article is a tribute to his first years as a professional ballplayer with the Japanese Yomiuri Giants. In 1998, a few years after Matsui was drafted, the Giants opened at the Tokyo Dome. Godzilla’s history of hitting baseballs off the roof changed Tokyo Dome’s reputation as just another coliseum forever. The stadium was soon nicknamed the “Big Egg” because of the white air-supported canopy that covers the field.

The stadium seems smaller than it really is because the majority of the seats are on the first level. The Tokyo Dome can only hold an estimated 42,000 screaming fans, compared to New Yankee stadium, which holds around 50,000 fans. From behind home plate, the second deck from appears to be just as large as the ground level, but as it wraps around the field the rows shrink as they approach middle left and right field. It is not clear why the stadium is designed in this fashion. The Giants might have decided that they would never fill the rest of the seats because of their league rank.

The Tokyo Dome is one of the few traditional Japanese stadiums that look more American, due to its infield arrangement of surface. The Tokyo Dome’s base path is shaped like diamond, while most parks’ base paths, covered in infield dirt, appear circular. The Tokyo Dome is also one of the few Japanese stadiums that have upper decks. The Dome is home to pro-wrestling matches, mixed martial arts events, Kick Boxing, monster truck races, and music concerts. Guest artists have included Madonna, Michael Jackson and the Backstreet Boys.

For my next article, I will be looking at the great granddaddy of all sport venues, the Roman Coliseum.

 

 

BALLROOM DANCING IN PAJAMAS

Jack Jenkins ’12

Mr. G’s Ballroom Dance class, which meets Tuesdays and Fridays, is quite similar to BHSEC’s introduction to dance program. Students follow the teachers’ instructions and focus on dancing to the rhythm of the music.

In Ballroom Dance class, there is an emphasis on learning to understand your partner’s body language and predicting where he might decide to move. What the Ballroom Dance class lacks, in comparison to the 9th grade dance module, is focus on balance.

The stumbling, pajama-clad dancers on the floor were too worried about not stepping on their partners’ feet to pay attention to the other couples around them. Even during the exercise in the beginning of the period, which was more or less a cha-cha slide, there were some nasty collisions and confusions (maybe partly because the students were all wondering why I was sitting on the stage watching them). Mr. G responded quickly to the collision, stressing the importance of both moving as one and maintaining personal space.

Surprisingly, something clicked after only a few minutes, and the dancers were able to execute the moves almost perfectly as they grew accustomed to their partners and the rhythm of the song. Of course, whenever the group switched partners or the music was changed, all fell into confusion. Mr. G kept the class fast-paced; the students stumbled and tripped as he constantly changed the exercise.

The majority of the students taking the class are hipster upperclassmen. The amateurish yet motivated feel to the class was reminiscent of a beginner yoga session, but with a focus on kinesthetic awareness and social skills.

 

 

NINE: FROM THE STAGE TO THE SCREEN

Hayley Barnett ’12

Another of Broadway’s favorites has joined the ranks of Chicago and Fiddler on the Roof. Nine, originally written by Arthur Kopit with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, appeared on Broadway in the spring of 1982. Recently, it was revived in 2003 at the Eugene O’Neil Theater, and in two London productions and one Argentinean production.

In January, Nine appeared on the Silver Screen for the first time. Set in Italy in the 1960s, the film centers around one Guido Contini, a famous Italian movie director in the middle of his mid-life crisis. In the beginning of the film, Contini is struggling to simultaneously write his ninth movie and save his marriage to his wife, Luisa.

Nine is full of well chosen music that helps depict a man struggling to balance all of the women in his life, and revive his quickly fading fame. The film stays true to the play, from incredible music and lyrics to beautiful, haunting scenes of a depressed man behind the times.

The movie stars famous actors like Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, and Stacy Ferguson (Fergie). The big name actors richened the plot and added depth to their multi-faceted characters. Lewis captures Guido Contini perfectly, playing him as a witty yet increasingly tormented middle-aged man. Surprisingly, Ferguson committed herself to her role as the lonely prostitute of Contini’s childhood, and delivered a believable performance. Her solo “Be Italian” was captivating from the first note.

While the actors and music were fantastic, the plot was occasionally hard to follow. Some numbers, like “Cinema Italiano,” performed by Kate Hudson, added nothing to the show. The Finale was slightly confusing, but the ambiguity added an interesting level to the characters’ relationships. Although Nine the movie was excellently written, composed, and performed, it will always be a show meant for the theater.

 

 

BOYS B-BALL ENDS SEASON WITH WINNING RECORD

George Winn ’12

It was a breakout season for the BHSEC Boys Basketball team, headed by third-year coach John Avitto. For the first time in BHSEC history, the team ended the season with a winning record, 9-7, and qualified for the PSAL playoffs. Although the season ended on a low note when the team lost its opening-round playoff game to Lab Museum United 73-68, the season was marked by many important firsts for the Raptors, as well as several individual milestones.

Year II Denzil Davis became the first player in school history to break the 1,000 career-point mark. Denzil averaged over 20 points per game this year, with 305 points and 101 assists this season. He also set the single game scoring record with 36 points in a 101-94 overtime victory over Life Sciences Secondary.

Another team member, Year II Kitaka Hypolite, became the first BHSEC player to grab 500 career rebounds. Kitaka was the team’s most tenacious defender, forcing countless turnovers and blocking many shots.

10th grader Teddy Uzamere, the team’s main force in the paint, became the first player in team history to grab over 300 rebounds in one season; he leads the entire PSAL in rebounding.

During the season, Coach Avitto took a brief leave from the team to attend the birth of his first child, John Jr. During his absence, the Raptors had a crucial non-league matchup against the Bronx Academy of Letters. Ms. Maryah Nardone filled in for Coach Avitto, and propelled the team to a double-digit victory over the Bronx B Division West leader.

Year IIs Denzil Davis, Kitaka Hypolite, Joel Falcon, Fola Arowolo, and Mohammed Khan all completed their careers with a winning season. Each had had a major impact on the team’s success. “I feel that this year we were just hungry to prove to ourselves, the Bard community and the entire PSAL that we are a team that should be feared and respected,” Co-Captain Falcon said. “I just hope that this year is the first footprint in our tireless goal to becoming PSAL champions.”

 

 

MOVIE REVIEW: SHERLOCK HOLMES

Genevive Freid ’13

Guy Ritchie’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes uses Robert Downey’s creative skills, intellect and personal failings to reinvent Conan Doyle’s famous character. Gone is the wry armchair intellectual. Downey replaces him with an anti-social, bohemian, self-absorbed genius who is attracted to London’s seamier side. Downey is adept at playing himself as he would have existed 100 years ago.

This is what makes the film so gloriously original. Between cases, Holmes amuses himself with ruffian pursuits. His lifestyle is a cross between bachelor and hermit. His dimly lit flat, which would make a typical college dorm look neat, is littered with books, manuscripts, and miscellany collected in jars. The only feminine touch is a picture of Ms. Adler, Holmes’ woman friend and most difficult case, who reportedly outwitted him twice. Holmes just loves a good challenge!

This world is about to be fractured by the imminent marriage of Dr. Watson, London physician and Holmes’ best friend and roommate, to a lady of society. (It is never explained how Holmes and Watson, an odd couple, ended up as roommates.) The fun really begins when Holmes meets Watson’s lady and expresses his jealousy by alienating her.

The movie is strongest when we watch and enjoy the bond between the two men, Holmes and Watson. What attracts them and what overcomes their obvious differences? While it is fascinating to watch these talented actors in character, their relationship is never explored. The two men are whisked into an adventure. They must uncover a secret society’s plot to take over America, while the society’s members are slowly killed off by a demonic member of the House of Lords.

The action is supported by an amazing visual realization of Industrial Revolution era England, and backed by a solid score of music that makes the period visuals more believable.

 

 

A YEAR OF PROGRESS: THE 2010 OSCARS

Hannah Frishberg ’13

On May 16, 1929, the first ever Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The ceremony was untelevised, and only 270 people attended. Janet Gaynor of the film Seventh Heaven won best actress, Emil Jannings of the Last Command won best actor, and Frank Borzage of Seventh Heaven and Lewis Milestone of Two Arabian Knights tied for best director. All of these awards were announced three months prior to the event. Eighty-two years later, both the Oscars and the Academy have grown immensely.

This year’s nominations were a narration of America’s advances in society. The nominees included movies, actors, directors and crews from a range of cultures and ethnicities.

This year, the Oscar winners truly proved how far America has come since 1929. For one, Kathryn Bigelow became the first ever woman to be awarded an Oscar for Best Director. Living in a diverse city like New York, it is easy to forget how long it took for Bigelow’s achievement to become possible. There have been only four female nominees for Best Director, and five African-American nominees, none winners, for Best Picture and Best Director. Furthermore, in 82 years of Academy Awards there have only been 27 African-American winners in all categories cumulatively, a tiny list of nominees, especially in comparison to the tally of white males.

Another significant change was made this year. The Academy decided to nominate not six but ten films for Best Picture for the first time since 1943. Most dislike the change; many believe it was made for the money.

Another first: Sandra Bullock, a member of the acting community for over twenty years, was finally recognized for her performance in The Blind Side.

 

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR BACKPACK?

George Winn ’12

Recently, my 6-year-old twin cousins Sara and Jack were given a homework assignment: If you were a refugee and had 10 minutes to fill a pillowcase with possessions, what would you take? Sara immediately packed her Bitty Baby, tiara, princess dress and sparkling shoes. Jack, on the other hand, filled his pillowcase with socks, underwear and clothing but no toys. What would you pack?

The twins’ exercise came to mind when I saw the Academy Award nominated film “Up in the Air.” The main character, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), is a part-time motivational speaker, and gives lectures around the country that he entitles “What’s In Your Backpack?” He implies that one should cut all ties with things one cares about and should not commit to anything. This can be a dangerous and unhealthy way of living; even the most isolated person needs companionship of some type at some point in his life. The speech got me thinking about what is most important in life, aside from school and all of the work and drama that comes with it.

Bingham’s lecture goes something like this (the slightly modified adolescent edition): What is most important in your life? Imagine you have a backpack. Not your school backpack filled with mostly books, pens, binders, and various other school related items. Start filling it with the small things: photos, things on shelves, jewelry. Now go bigger: your clothes, computer, your iPod, and your cell phone; make sure it’s all in there. Now imagine you have another backpack. Fill this one with the people who surround you. Start with acquaintances and casual relationships. Next, your friends and fellow students, the people you see everyday. Finally, put your family and closest friends in the backpack. Now I want you to throw one of these backpacks off the Williamsburg Bridge. The decision is yours; no one’s stopping you.

Think through this intently, however. What is more important to you: superficial items that can be replaced, or family, friends, and everyone else who is close to you. Take into account the real worth of the contents of each backpack and the responsibilities coupled with those contents – the impact these things have on your life.

Imagine how this applies to your life – what is most important to you? What’s in your backpack?

 

 

MR. WEINSTEIN TRANSFERS TO LONG ISLAND CITY

Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

This spring, Mr. Weinstein was absent during the biannual bookroom rush. During his time at BHSEC as a member of the Absent Teacher Reserve, Mr. Weinstein was working toward a license in special education. In December, he passed the state exam for the license and took a position as an English teacher at Long Island City High School. Mr. Weinstein’s two and half years at BHSEC came to an abrupt halt.

Teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve don’t have teaching positions, but are placed in public schools where they earn a full-time teacher’s salary to substitute and help with office work. “Yes, I was earning standard teacher salary,” Mr. Weinstein says, “How do I feel about that? I don’t know. My initial reaction as a taxpayer is, ‘Hey, this is ridiculous.’” Mr. Weinstein says he “was never able to reconcile that I was being paid a lot of money to not help students in the way that I thought teachers should be helping students. I personally felt as if I were the drain on the city’s fiscal situation.” Being in the ATR pool was not meaningful, so he was eager to begin work as a full teacher at LIC.

Long Island City High School is considered one of the city’s better large schools. “What that means,” Mr. Weinstein says, “is that we don’t regularly have fights. Whatever makes a school tough, we’re not a tough school.” He estimates that only 5% of the 3,300 students are “troublemakers.” Although the police report to the school very rarely, LIC’s hallway language and behavior would be a shock to BHSEC students. A BHSEC student’s initial reaction would be “this place is loud,” says Weinstein.

At LIC, Mr. Weinstein teaches freshman English 2, part of a standard Regents preparation sequence. The course was intended to be Collaborative Team Teaching, with up to 12 special education and 20-22 mainstream students, but due to confusion only the special education students were registered.

The principal, William Bassell, advertised the teaching position as less complex special education, meaning no autistic, learning-disordered, or emotionally disturbed students. Mr. Weinstein’s job would be to prepare students with motivational issues or undiagnosed learning disabilities prepare for the Regents. Although some of his students turned out to have diagnosed disabilities, Mr. Weinstein says there are no behavioral problems in the classroom.

But there are other difficulties. “I don’t have one strong reader out of those 12 students,” Weinstein explains, “Any word that is over six letters gives the kids problems. One, they can’t pronounce the word, and two, they don’t know they word.” In order to meet all of the students’ needs, teachers at LIC have to use adapted texts and differentiate instruction. Mr. Weinstein teaches an adapted version of the Canterbury Tales, and has some students work on drawings or short answers instead of essays. When he has students work in groups, some groups focus on main ideas from the texts, and others work on vocabulary.

Whatever the skill level of his students, Mr. Weinstein believes in high expectations. At LIC, he says, many teachers expect that the students won’t do the work: “What the students at BHSEC have is what the students at LIC deserve but don’t necessarily get: expectations that students will do as much work as possible.” Mr. Weinstein sees high school students on the subway doing work that is far below grade level. His time at BHSEC taught him that “we have a NYC school where things go as they should,” and reaffirmed his dedication to setting high expectations for all of his students. At LIC, a teacher with high expectations stands out; Mr. Weinstein and his like-minded co-teacher have already earned the monikers “Starsky and Hutch.”

Mr. Weinstein sets high expectations because he cares about his students. He says that when he started teaching at LIC, “The kids were shocked that the teacher would care about the students. And I was shocked that the kids were shocked that I care about the students. The kids actually took it for granted that teachers did not care.”

In addition to standard English 2, Mr. Weinstein also teaches creative writing and an alternative English class, called English 2: Theater for You, which provides a comfortable environment for nominal Regents preparation. Mr. Weinstein doesn’t know much about theater, and reports that the class was initially a fiasco, but he does his best, introducing literary terminology and working in an essay assignment.

Despite the challenges and unknowns, Mr. Weinstein says LIC is “exactly the environment I wanted… There’s something… beautiful about protecting the right to an education of the students who are most vulnerable.” Although he has worked in the New York City public school system for six years, he says that before LIC, he had no experience with a “real school.” Working at BHSEC was like working in a bubble. BHSEC students, Mr. Weinstein says, “are active rather than passive. I have students now who are passive rather than active…Bard students were the best, just a different type of best than the students I have now.”

 

 

SPEECH & DEBATE CLUB

Hannah Frishberg ’13

The BHSEC Speech and Debate Club, started just this year by freshman Avery Brown, has quickly taken off. Already, it has ten members, all with many researched debate topics under their belts. They split into two four-person teams with two judges, but they are eager to expand the club. “Debate is awesome,” freshman and debate club member Lily Starbuck says. Chloe Kekovic agrees: “Arguing is fun!”

Members of the Speech and Debate Club form teams and present arguments (either for or against a given topic) to a panel of judges. In formal debates, the judges pick which debaters argue pro and con prior to the match. The judges evaluate each team based on the form, etiquette, articulation, and strength of its argument.

To succeed in Speech and Debate, as the name implies, debaters must not only be familiar with both sides of each issue but also speak eloquently and politely. Debate therefore requires a degree of maturity.

BHSEC’s team debates a wide range of topics, including flag burning, the legalization of marijuana, gay marriage, school uniforms, abortion, homework, and the legal drinking age. The team is well on its way to competing beyond 525 East Houston Street. As the club grows, the students hope to debate with other schools, and eventually participate in national debate tournaments.

Debate is a way to learn about current events in a stimulating, accessible environment. Participants practice public speaking, analytical thinking, and articulation.

 

 

BHSEC LOBBIES FOR STATE LEGISLATIVE GRANTS

Juliet Glazer ’12

On April 1st, the state budget will be released. Hopefully, it will include over 1 million dollars for BHSEC.

Every year, it seems that BHSEC’s mission is in danger of being compromised if we don’t raise the money we need. BHSEC spends about $3,000 more per student each year than the average public school does, and with good reason. Our classes are a third smaller than those at most public schools in New York City, so we have to pay for more teachers and support staff than the Board of Education allots us money for. All in all, more than 5 full-time teachers’ salaries come from the state budget (rather than the Board of Education), which is spread across three legislative grants.

When the school started, private foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave three to five year start-up grants to help fill any gaps in our budget. Now, those grants have run out. For the past two years, BHSEC parents, teachers, and students have had to lobby for state money to keep the school running smoothly.

Our task has been made harder by the economic downturn. Governor David A. Paterson has already cut his proposed education budget by $1.1 billion, which is a 5 percent decrease from last year’s budget.

At the moment, his budget only includes $460,000 of the million dollars BHSEC needs. This money, which comes from the first of the three legislative grants, is allocated to the math and science programs. It mostly pays for lab materials, textbooks, and teacher and faculty salaries.

The other two grants, which go towards faculty salaries as well, have to be added to the budget within the next month or so.

“We really have to figure out how to make up that money,” said Dean of Administration Martha Olson, who is heading up the fundraising initiative. “Unless we can raise the equivalent funds, we’ll be looking at larger class sizes and we’ll have to cut back on some of the programs.”

This year, a group of 25 parents, called the Political Advocacy Committee, joined to organize a lobbying effort to convince elected officials to restore funding to BHSEC. The committee made phone calls to other parents and organized a letter writing campaign to push Governor Paterson to include money for BHSEC in his budget. They succeeded in getting the math and science grant, and have already staged another letter-writing campaign to convince legislators to include the other two grants, and to keep the first grant in the budget.

All of the grants are split between BHSEC I and II; the two branches lobby together for the combined 1 million that they need. The Queens campus is helpful because it proves to legislators that the early college model is practical and replicable. “Politicians like the idea of early colleges,” said Dean Olson. As students, we can and should help in the fundraising initiative. After all, we’ll be the ones suffering if we can’t get the grants. Some students have already gone to Albany to talk to legislators and their assistants in person. Face-to-face contact was instrumental in proving how important the money from the grants is to BHSEC. BHSEC will run another letter-writing campaign, like the one that took place last winter during Deans Hours, so that students can contact legislators themselves.

Most of us are used to public schools that run mostly on money from the Board of Education. As Barbara Haskell, wife of Bard President Leon Botstein and head of the Political Advocacy Committee noted, “This is a public school, but it’s a different kind of public school.”

 

 

BHSEC: SCHOOL OF THE WORLD

Amani Ahmed ’11

On Wednesday, February 24th, colorful pictures decorated the walls of the BHSEC auditorium and ethnic music played loudly on the speakers. Year II Lipy Begum, a member of the BHSEC Student Activists Network (BSAN), the club that organized International Day, sold purple coupons at the door. Though a one-dollar donation was suggested to attend the International Day event or as BSAN called it, “I-Day,” students had to buy 50 cent purple coupons to participate in activities.

There was a host of activities to choose from. Origami was worth one coupon; Year II Allegra Rosenbaum taught students and faculty how to make an origami bunny or a Spanish box. Students were eager to learn but cautious about each fold they made. Sam Levine, Year II, was apologetic: “I’m a slow folder, it’s not perfect though.”

Along one wall of the auditorium, bilingual students wrote people’s names in Arabic, Chinese, and Hebrew in exchange for one coupon. Jacob Raymond, a 9th grader, had his name written in Arabic by Marie Ponsot, a Year II. Jacob also had his name written in calligraphy by Year II Lucy Arnerich-Hatch who had a calligraphy pen and ink at her station. Ms. Powell was eager to have her name written in Chinese by 10th grader Winnie Liu.

Probably the most popular corner of the auditorium was the “Photo Booth.” For three coupons, students could dress up in an Indian sari, a Korean dress or a Chinese mask (or all three!) and get their pictures taken. Students took photos with friends in front of a painting of the Taj Mahal. Gabe Zimmerman(9th grade) and Sophie Lilla (10th grade) had fun dressing up in Indian clothes. Sophie was happy with her Photo Booth session. “It’s really fun because I like to be silly with my friends,” she said.

A world map on the wall titled, “Where’s your family from?” was filled with red dots nearly coloring in some countries. Freshmen Avery Warsing, Maya Petkoevich, and Emma Tilden were excited to show off the many countries their families come from.

Many students came for the food in the cafeteria. Dr. Vernoff described the Kung pao chicken as “very good.” Chinese pork dumplings were another favorite.

Year IIs Carlos Valdez, Andrea Belen, and Rosangela Molina performed a series of Hispanic dances, the Cumbia, the Bachata, and the Durangeunse. Carlos was the leading man, dancing with each girl for a portion of each song. The audience, including professors Dr. Birch, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Vartorella, and Dr. Hernandez, clapped along to the music.

The last, and best, part of International Day was the Bollywood dance lesson led by Year II Riana Shah. About fifteen students learned Shah’s choreography to “Jai Ho,” a popular Indian Bollywood song featured in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. BSAN members filmed the final performance and the dancers each wore a piece of international clothing from the photo booth.

Year I Birch Lubman described it the dance class as “the best two dollars I ever spent!” International Day ended with a photo of all the BHSEC Bollywood dancers in front of the Taj Mahal. Ava Robinson, a Year I, was thrilled after the performance. “It was a fantastic time,” she said, “Riana was a fantastic teacher.”

Shah, co-president of BSAN with Year II Claire Fishman, explained that BSAN planned International Day because “There are so many people at BHSEC with such assorted interests and talents local and international. I-Day was a way to acknowledge the incredible amount of diversity at BHSEC.”

 

 

YEARBOOK TIGHTENS ITS BELT

Sam Levine ’10

Operating on a small budget, a delayed start, and an even smaller window to meet deadlines, the 2010 Yearbook Committee has begun assembling the 2010 BHSEC yearbook.

In the past, the yearbook publishing company has been generous about any debt owed to them at the end of the year, hoping to maintain good business with our school.

While this year’s Yearbook Committee is not responsible for making up the accumulated debt from years past, the committee has decided to tighten its belt on spending to prevent the deficit from growing. Due to budget cuts, this year’s yearbook will be condensed.

In order to stick to its budget, “we’re definitely going to have to economize,” said Special Projects Coordinator Kristi Powell, the Committee’s administrative advisor. “We’re not going to cut out any of the features from previous yearbooks, but things that might have gotten two pages in years past might only get one,” she added.

While Powell acknowledged that this year’s Yearbook might be a little bit slimmer than those of previous years, she emphasized that the Yearbook budget is largely determined by how much revenue is generated from advertisements purchased by families and local businesses. Powell hopes that the Yearbook’s new online layout will make it easier for students to sell advertisements.

“The most important thing I can stress right now is for people to sell advertisements,” Powell said. “The more advertisements we sell, the more elaborate the yearbook is.”

Unlike previous committees, the 2010 Yearbook Committee is making a strong effort to include 9th grade, 10th grade, and Year I students both in the final Yearbook itself, and in the yearbook development process. The committee hopes that by appealing to a wider audience it will generate more sales and foster a core yearbook staff that can carry over into the following years.

Powell is committed to working toward this new model. “We’re trying to turn something that is traditionally only a graduating class venture into something that everyone can be a part of,” she said.

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