VOLUME 7, ISSUE 6 (JUNE 2010)

MGMT, CONGRATULATIONS

Hannah Frishberg ’13

Seductively melodic and danceable, Oracular Spectacular appealed to the masses. Crooning to audiences to “Shock me like an electric eel,” MGMT’s synth-driven freshman album effortlessly wove together monophonic instrumentation and funky bass lines. Singles about living fast and dying young showed MGMT’s almost self-cautioning views on the rock star dream that defines popular culture. Clearly, audiences ate it up. So when their new album, Congratulations was released earlier last month, lamenting the fame received from Oracular, audiences were split.

The album begins with the harpsichord-ridden “It’s Working” and quickly slows to reach the bemused “Someone’s Missing” (“It feels like someone’s missing,” drone band mates Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser). The core of the album, “Flash Delirium,” is a barely controlled explosion of delirium — oddly logical and simplistic despite the psychedelic sorrows. The 12-minute “Siberian Breaks” launches the album’s second half, but impatient fans will most likely skip this lengthy, psychedelic number in anticipation of the next two kooky tracks which name-drop Lady Gaga and Brian Eno. With the applause of the last seconds of the title track, “Congratulations,” MGMT feels unsure about its songs’ meaning. Or rather they understand their fame and know they feel numb to it.

In 2004 when VanWyngarden and Goldwasser were attending Wesleyan University, MGMT was known as The Management and the duo signed all their email exchanges with it as a joke. Six years later, the pair seems distressed by fame and has reportedly turned down supporting roles with Lady Gaga, U2 and Coldplay. It abandoned an idea to give Congratulations away as a free download. Yet, the new album shows growth for VanWyngarden and Goldwasser, and is much more timeless than Oracular. I find it ironic that Congratulations, a reflection on their recognition in the music community, is so much more uncontrolled and dreamlike than Oracular.

However, it doesn’t seem to matter much to VanWyngarden or Goldwasser how the album fares. “To be honest, we kind of feel a little bit out of touch with what is going on now,” VanWyngarden said in an interview to the New York Times. “[We’re] in our own little sphere of what we think is cool, and I don’t think it’s necessarily what most people think is cool.” And if Congratulations fails, they’ve got a backup plan, already having invented a future rock hagiography for themselves. Mr. VanWyngarden says, “Once we get really depressed, we’ll do the hard drugs.” Mr. Goldwasser responding, “We’ll make our heroin album. It will be all slow and depressing. It will be critically acclaimed but not sell very many copies, and then nobody will hear from us for maybe 10 years. And then we’ll make a comeback.”

So despite frosty critic reviews and a largely alienated fan base, it would appear that MGMT band mates no longer mind the critique much, and have moved on to making music for those who appreciate it. Consider this from the title track: “But damn my luck and damn these friends/That keep on combing back their smiles/I save my grace with half-assed guilt/And lay down the quilt upon the lawn/Spread my arms and soak up congratulations.”

 

STUDENTS’ FIELD RIGHTS SEVERELY LIMITED

Jack Jenkins ’12

The right of sun-loving students to spend free periods on the field has recently suffered a blow: according to a new rule from Ms. Nardone, Bardians are allowed to lollygag on the field only when P.E. classes are not in session. Although we the “safety concerns” Ms. Sawick mentioned in her email to students sounded like an overreaction, Ms. Nardone says she has other complaints.

Ms. Nardone says that there has been an unacceptable number of “hecklers” who jeer or shout out the names of their friends during her classes. She feels that Physical Education is a time for alleviating stress or working on athleticism without commentary, and should not be made into a public spectacle of strength or weakness.

As a sportsperson myself, I have to agree with Ms. Nardone that sharing field space can be difficult thing. BHSEC students play a wide variety of sports on the field, and mistakes can result in injury. Accidents can happen in both directions: I might accidentally throw a Frisbee into a throng of 9th graders learning how to handle lacrosse sticks, and a stray lacrosse ball might hit me or anyone else lounging in the field.

When the administration banned students from using the field during P.E. classes, several students met with Mr. Peterson, Ms. Nardone, and Mr. Gagstetter to renegotiate. The students accepted a compromise: when only one P.E. class is using the field, one quarter of the field is reserved for other students. When a larger class or two combined classes are using the field, lounging students have to clear out. Students have three “strikes,” including littering, playing ball or Frisbee, heckling P.E. students, and crossing into the rest of the field, before use of the quarter field is rescinded. So far, BHSEC students have one strike, for littering.

Ninth grader Lena Greenberg posted on the Facebook group “Field Matters” that “Both Mr. Peterson and the gym teachers made it clear that this compromise was set only for the remainder of this term, and next year they would ‘see.’” Mr. Peterson also warned that if students continue to litter the field, the city itself might set restrictions.

I like the field. But here’s the reality: we have two other outdoor areas perfectly that are perfectly suited for hanging out. If you want to play sports, take a hike to the east river; it’s the same kind of Astroturf you’re used to running around on. And if you simply want to lie around, basking in the sun, why not the yard? Habits are hard to break, but when I think about it, I’m looking forward to not having to dump rubber nubs out of my shoes, socks, and backpack when I get home from school every day.

 

BARDBARIANS REACH THE PLAYOFFS

George Winn ’13

When spring hits BHSEC, its time for the ultimate Frisbee season to get underway! The Bardbarians have always been a popular team at BHSEC, and have consistently succeeded over the years . Even as critical members of the team graduate each year, the Bardbarians have still managed to win almost every match.

Coached by literature professor Mr. Kyung Cho, the Bardbarians is one of the best and most competitive ultimate Frisbee teams in the city. During practice on Mondays and Wednesdays, and it’s obvious that the team is dedicated to nothing but winning. A typical practice includes conditioning, improving basic skills, and strategizing for future matches.

The continued success of the ultimate Frisbee team is due in part to its immense popularity throughout the school. The team consists of members from all four grades, and each incoming class has a few freshmen who are dying to play for the team.

This year, the Bardbarians achieved a winning record and made it to the playoffs. Although there are no high school ultimate Frisbee divisions in New York City, teams that show continued success over the course of a season are brought together in a tournament. The tournament not only roots out the best teams in the city, but also gives those teams opportunities to participate in larger-scale tournaments state-wide and even nation-wide. “It’s epic, exciting, and amazing. Enough said,” said sophomore tosser Jack Jenkins.

The ultimate Frisbee team is not a member of a specific league. The team schedules matches against public, private, and independent schools throughout the city. The Bardbarians have played against Stuyvesant High School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, and the Abraham Joshua Heschel School among others. The matches against Stuyvesant are rumored to be particularly exciting since the two teams are equally skilled.

 

FOR BABIES, FOUR CULTURES, ONE YEAR

Genevieve Fried ’13

Babies, produced by Alain Chabat and directed by Thomas Balmes, is an unlikely hit for the majority of American consumers. There are no killings, car chases, or steamy sex scenes—just seventy nine minutes of crying, gurgling babies. But the message is universal. The movie effortlessly conveys the universality of human experience. Despite the veneer of culture, what makes us similar runs far deeper then what separates us.

The silent documentary follows the first year of life’s milestones for four babies: Ponijao from Opuwo, Namibia, Mari from Tokyo, Japan, Bayar from Bayanchandmani, Mongolia, and Hattie from San Francisco, California. Tracking the babies from birth to their first time standing up alone, the film is provokes some laughs, many “aww”s, and even some “eww”s at the cultural differences.

The lack of narration in Babies was troubling because at times the film was too focused on the babies. Footage of the parents was limited—in most shots, the faces of the grownups were cut off. The film was weakened because it largely ignored the parents and family, who play a huge role in a baby’s life. It would have been really interesting to hear how each culture perceived the child rearing experience. For example if Balmes had included subtitles for the occasional dialogue between the parents, the audience could have had more insight into the cultures of Mongolia or Africa. Ponijao, Mari, Bayar, and Hattie could only convey so much. The movie could have created a richer experience had the Mongolian or African mothers shared their perceptions of motherhood.

On a brighter note, the audience had a laugh when Balmes poked fun at the uselessness of modern technology to the timeless human experience of child rearing. The audience has to question the importance of child-safe furniture when Bayar is left perfectly unattended as 400-pound cows surround him. Bayar’s experience is very different from Hattie’s, whose house is a temple of childproof devices courtesy of her hyper-solicitous parents.

In scene after scene, Balmes juxtaposes the timeless rituals of child rearing through the lenses of different cultures. From the San Franciscan father sharing a bath with his daughter to the African tribal mother lovingly cleaning her baby with her tongue, the point is that all parents nurture.

The popularity of Babies stems from our emotional connection to small children. The most climactic scene is when Bayar triumphantly stands up on his own. Bayar’s happiness at his accomplishment and the excitement of the music evoked palpable emotion in the audience. Never was there happiness so pure—and earned—as Bayar’s in that scene. Babies is not a revolutionary film on the wonders of human nature but rather a nice insight into the lives of four adorable children who will capture your hearts.

 

CHINESE CULTURAL CLUB HOSTS B-BALL TOURNAMENT

George Winn ’13

On April 14, 2010, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the region of Qinghai in China, leaving thousands dead or injured and hundreds missing. This prompted the Chinese Culture Club to organize the first BHSEC basketball tournament.

Soon after the earthquake occurred, flyers began popping up around the school advertising the tournament, which was scheduled to start on May 7th. After only a week, the registration sheet for the tournament was completely filled. This was a great sign for the club, which donated all of the proceeds received from the $3 entry fee to relief efforts in China.

Ten teams of three competed in the tournament. The participants were supposed to be divided as evenly as possible so that each team would have roughly the same skill level, but this was only partially achieved. The tournament will be completed over three rounds, each round taking place on a Friday from May 7th until May 29th in the schoolyard. The winning team will play against a team of teachers on May 29th and receive some sort of special prize.

According to students participating in the tournament and Chinese Culture Club members, the tournament is turning out to be a great success so far. “In addition to the students already participating in the tournament, there’s also a huge waiting list for kids who decided to sign up at the last minute but couldn’t,” said CCC member Zijian “CJ” Wang, “As the weeks go on, we will add more teams and hopefully we can finish the tournament before the end of classes shows up.”

Since BHSEC is a heavily academically focused high school, this intramural basketball tournament that ends up pitting the students against the teachers is a great idea. It engages both the teachers and students and both sides have just as much fun.

 

LONDON BUILDS NEW STADIUM FOR 2012 OLYMPICS

Maverick Cummings ’13

Before the Vancouver Winter Games ended, architects in London began building seven new stadiums for its own 2012 Summer Olympics, on top of twelve existing stadiums. These new structures are notable as much for their materials as for their design: they will be constructed out of scrap iron, courtesy of the Metropolitan Police force. London police, it turns out, have a stockpile 52 tons of old keys, knives, and guns, which will be smelted down to build the new stadiums.

This move carries a message beyond that of environmental responsibility. It also highlights how many weapons lurk in Western democracies. Should guns be regarded as a legitimate tool of self-protection? Should they be banned in private homes?

Some people think banning guns is a sensible idea. When Washington DC banned handguns in 2005, yearly murders from guns dropped from a staggering 248 to 13. A few other cities have adopted weapons bans as well. But the National Rifle Association has successfully sued states for banning guns. They believe that guns are necessary for protection against criminals and cannot be prohibited without violating citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

Another controversy: the logo for the London Olympics. I could not make any sense of the symbols, until I read online that the logo is supposed to represent the year 2012. The media has reacted in a very negative way to the logo by giving it low ratings and comparing it to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It was also reported that the animated segment of the logo caused seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy.

Next fall, I will take a look at the new Minnesota Twins Stadium.

 

COLLEGE KNOWLEDGE

Naomi Boyce ’10

As Year Is begin to fret over the college process, the Year II’s (who are currently making final decisions about their own futures) have some tips to ease the Year Is’ fears. We’re ready to enlighten the Year I’s with some essential, practical, and (hopefully) calming college knowledge.

Rosie Mandel: “Interview. It is one of the most important things you can do. If you interview at the campus it shows the colleges you are dedicated and interested enough to travel there.”

Alexis Canney: “Apply early action to any school who offers it.”

Gloria Bazargan: “Don’t stress.”

Sophie Ellman-Golan:“Be willing to listen to advice on your college essay. But don’t always take it. If you feel strongly about a topic, write about it.”

Sophia Polin: “Usually the essay you feel most connected with, regardless of what anyone says, will get you what you need.”

Amelia Zecker: “Have realistic expectations.”

Andrea Belen: “Do everything one week ahead of schedule.”

Lucy Arnerich-Hatch: “As soon as you get a waitlist letter, start drafting a letter to the admissions office explaining why you could fit at that school.”

Sasha Pezenik: “Tour. It’s really the only way to see how you yourself fit in physically with a school. Think: can you imagine yourself working, growing— living here? See which campuses you connect with. A gut reaction is a very underrated part of making this choice.”

Noa Bendit-Shtull: “Don’t limit yourself to certain types of schools too quickly. You might change your mind about what size or location you want as late as April of senior year.”

 

KICK-ASS: INSPIRING NERDS EVERYWHERE

Hayley Barnett ’12

There’s no denying Batman, Superman, and Catwoman have played significant parts in our lives…but Kick-Ass? Not until April 16th, 2010 when he came fighting—or flailing—into our lives. Directed by Mathew Vaughn and co-written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, Kick-Ass tells the story of a nerdy, normal youth named Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) who describes himself as a person who “just existed.” That is, until he decides to become a superhero, though he lacks both training and superpowers. However, he does have an uncanny ability to amass injuries as if they were Boy Scout badges.

Regardless, Lizewski christens himself “Kick-Ass” and, clad in gaudy green-and-yellow wetsuit he purchased online, goes into the city seeking crime. Dave joins forces with Hit-Girl, Big Daddy, and Red Mist, and soon comes to realize that being a superhero isn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Kick-Ass is wonderfully written. The movie was rife with gruesome killing (including a gentleman heated in a giant microwave until his head explodes) and adorable romance between the protagonist and his long-time crush.

My only critique is that the movie was slightly predictable at key moments, though that comes with the territory. Otherwise, the movie was simply phenomenal, though definitely not for the faint of heart. Gruesome, hilarious, and outright adorable at times, Kick-Ass weaves a story that every comic book nerd would love to live. A phenomenal cast and crew make this movie all the better.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the infamous star of Superbad and Year One who plays Red Mist is hilarious, and plays the ridiculous superhero/villain role incredibly well. He and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) are two characters who add laughs to the already comedy-stuffed movie.

The movie mostly stays true to the print comic Kick-Ass by Mark Millar, but the ending is quite different, and significantly less complex. The movie achieves the main goal of Millar’s comic: it illustrates what would happen if anyone was crazy enough to try to become a superhero.

Frankly, if you haven’t seen this movie, you need to. Kick-Ass rivets the audience, and it’ll have you enthusiastically repeating the catchy tagline, “I can’t read your mind, but I can kick your ass!”

 

L.E.T.: LET’S EXCHANGE THOUGHTS

Jmarlow ’12 and Hfrishberg ’13

Welcome to the much-awaited, end-of school edition of Let’s Exchange Thoughts! Hfrishberg and Jmarlow are excited to share with you some fantastic questions from their readers! They have mulled these questions for days on end, over countless cups of tea and pumpkin cupcakes, in order to relieve you of your deepest questions regarding life, the universe, and microwaves.

I want to bring all of my BHSEC teachers to live with me in my dorm next year. How can I convince them to leave/find enough dorm space?

Jmarlow suggests tempting them with Sugar Sweet Sunshine banana pudding, while Hfrishberg wants you to lure them in with your literary prowess, telling them that you’re writing an epic novel about the nature of existence in your trunk.

Why didn’t you bring back Turkish Delights for the whole school?

Jmarlow would have loved to bring more AMAZING Hazelnut Turkish Delights, but Turkey simply ran out of delight!

What are your thoughts concerning the bob haircut?

Resident Fashion Consultant Hfrishberg suggests that only some people can pull it off. You must have small facial features, or else you’ll look like a gremlin.

Is wearing flats to prom taboo?

Hfrishberg thinks that if you’re short, heels can help, but it’s up to you. Arch support is a necessity; you don’t want to go flat-footed, do you? Jmarlow couldn’t care less about shoes, but agrees that arch support is a must.

Why do history curricula not go chronologically?

Some do go chronologically, such as Dr. Marion’s Global History course. Jmarlow thinks it makes more sense for history curricula to go chronologically, instead of geographically, because it shows how societies develop around the globe through cross-cultural interaction. If one teaches history geographically, it just becomes a series of facts that ignore the big picture.

Is it true that it’s unhealthy to stand in front of a microwave while it’s on?

There is some debate whether or not microwave ovens emit microwaves outside of the appliance. Although evidence points that exposure is negligible, it certainly can’t hurt to walk away from it while it is on.

Is there a legal height or weight that allows a person to sit in the front of the car? My mom says so…prove her wrong.

Always trust your mother. One must be 12 years old or 135cm tall to legally sit in the front seat of a car. The impact of the airbag can kill you if you don’t meet one of these requirements!

Hfrishberg and Jmarlow hope you will have a lovely summer, and want you to remember to wear sunscreen, so you don’t look like a lobster! See you in September! 

 

THE SOUNDS OF SUMMER

Hannah Frishberg ’13

As the days grow warmer and concentration lags (despite approaching finals), New York City music venues, dormant through the winter, increase summer anticipation with impressive set lists. NYC’s largest presenter of free arts and cultural programs in is the City Parks Foundation Summer Stage. This season, Summer Stage will be offering over 100 free performances and 8 benefit concerts for 128 days of music, dance, film, and spoken word in all five boroughs of New York City. Summer Stage is celebrating its 25th anniversary with over 2,000 artists from around the globe, and upwards of 3 million audience members in 750 parks city-wide. NYC music lovers are in good hands.

This year, Summer Stage concerts are as diverse as ever, representing every genre from R&B, electronic, and global, to gospel, Latin, hip-hop, rock, and jazz. Highlights include rap artist Jay Electronica (June 1), Latin American artists Maldita Vecindad/The Pinker Tones (July 10), indie favorites The xx, Chairlift, and Jack Peñate (August 8), and Public Enemy (August 15).

For those with summer jobs (tickets are all in the $30 range), benefit shows will feature State Radio (June 15), The Flaming Lips (sold out, but tickets are available on stubbhub.com, July 26), The Morning Benders (July 27 and July 28), Hot Chip (August 2), English new wavers The Specials (August 22) and, to end the summer with a bang, reunited favorite Pavement (September 21). For a complete line-up and specific info, go to http://www.summerstage.org/

In addition to Summer Stage, Celebrate Brooklyn is also celebrating summer down at the Prospect Park Bandshell from June 9 to August 8. Built in 1939, the Bandshell has a long history, beginning with 1950s dances, then neglect in the late sixties and seventies, and finally the “New Prospect Park” (as Celebrate Brooklyn was then called) in 1979. Now in its 32nd year, Celebrate Brooklyn will kick start the season with Norah Jones’ her Grammy award winning fusion of jazz, folk, and soul (June 9). The music continues with iconic The Roots (July 17), the dreamy, folk collaboration of The Swell Season and The Low Anthem (July 30), and Sonic Youth (July 31). Celebrate Brooklyn will close the free season with Metric’s beautifully manipulated disco, electro-rock, and psychedelia (August 5).

Benefit concerts include Passion Pit (sold out, but check stubbhub.com, June 29), the classic genius of Rufus Wainwright (July 20), and Jack White’s barely-year-old group The Dead Weather (August 3). To see all events, check out http://www.bricartsmedia.org/p erforming-arts/celebrate-brooklyn or pick up one of the free 2010 Summer Schedule pamphlets around NYC.

Other great venues include the Williamsburg Waterfront (Band of Horses and Grizzly Bear, June 20; Silversun Pickups, June 25; Modest Mouse, July 23) and The Beach at Governor’s Island (Yeasayer, June 5; She & Him, July 4; MIA, July 24).

For those traveling this summer, try to catch festivals Camp Bisco from July 15-17 in Mariaville, NY (headliners include Girl Talk, LCD Soundsystem, and Major Lazer), and Lollapalooza from August 6-8 in Chicago, IL (line-up includes MGMT, Phoenix, Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, and Matt & Kim).

So whether you’re rockin and a-reelin with Ba Ba Ba Ba Barbara Ann, surfin’ USA, falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band down in Kokomo, or just having fun fun fun, be sure to take advantage of these great opportunities in NYC, and make summer 2010 your best yet.

 

ALL APPLAUSE FOR “NO EXIT”

Sasha Pezenik ’10

It may come as a surprise to some of us here at BHSEC that room 203 (commonly known as the Art Room) is a portal to the pits of Hell—which is sans fire and brimstone. Jean-Paul Sartre, a French philosopher and playwright, came to BHSEC through the combined effort of a group of students; No Exit was directed by year two Nick Shatan, and performed by Alessio Franko (’10), Anna Henry (’11), Jenna Goldstein (’11), and Nathan J. Campbell (’10) on May 20th and 21st. The play was also translated from its original French by Mr. Franko. This production of Sartre’sNo Exit takes minimalist scenery and earnest acting to new heights—or rather, depths.

At first we aren’t sure where the play is set. Some of the first words on stage are “So, this is what it looks like?” The audience wonders, “Where’s ‘it’?” For the entire play, the three main characters occupy a single room, decorated with three colored couches, a table, and a “Bronze from Pier 1 Imports”. The scenery never changes, reflecting an eerily stagnant existence.

But the setting is quickly clarified. There are no “racks” or “red-hot pokers” in Hell. In No Exit, people serve as instruments of torture. Garcin (played by Franko), Inez (played by Goldstein) and Estelle (played by Henry) force each other to reflect on the crimes they committed on earth.

It is very difficult to act in such limited environs. There is no change in costume, no change in set, and scant external action; everything takes place on an internal battlefield. However, the three main actors take on their characters’ inner turmoil with aplomb. Campbell is uncanny in his role as the bellhop, with his near-mechanical drawl and unblinking eyes.

Franko, Henry, and Goldstein’s disembodied voices were a brilliant addition to the production. Not once do the three protagonists utter a word. Instead, a taped recording of each actor’s entire part was played. Only Campbell, an employee in Hell, speaks with his actual voice. The audience never forgets that the three are no longer human, and the effect is eerie.

This must have been especially challenging for both Henry and Goldstein, since Shatan decided to switch their voices. Goldstein acted to Henry’s voice, and Henry to Goldstein’s. It takes a great deal of skill to time one’s actions to a recorded voice—if anything is off-kilter, the impact of the words is lost.

Silent acting might have been an obstacle for any other group of students, but it is a positive addition to this production. The disembodied voices highlight the underlying ‘thesis’ of the play—and the only line spoken aloud—“Hell is other people.”

In No Exit, the characters become an amalgam of the myriad choices between good and evil made in their lifetimes. They are the sum total of the decisions they make, and their afterlife is defined by these decisions.

Hell is not the Inferno we have feared for centuries. It is a limbo for dead souls, where men and women must drop their connections to the living world and face themselves. This is emphasized by the thematic lack of mirrors in Hell. Garcin, Inez, and Estelle must serve as mirrors, and torturers, for each other.

As the heat is turned up, the characters begin to crumble. They begin to shed their civilized facades and show their true colors: a cowardly wife abuser, a manipulative flirt and infant killer, and a cruel lesbian who thrives off others’ suffering.

 

HUMMY GETS HO-HUM REVIEW

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

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The Hummy

Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado, Hummus, in a whole grain wrap

$5.00 +Tax

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We approached the Hummy like we approached our 8th grade crushes—curiously, but full of anxiety. The Hummy was our first journey beyond standard bread, and while we hoped that our venture into wrap territory would be worth much more than 50 Cents, the sandwich didn’t quite make the cut.

Unlike most sandwiches we review, eating the Hummy didn’t make us feel like we were going to go into cardiac arrest. The wrap’s blend of avocado with a schmear of hummus is refreshing on the palate. The cucumber, lettuce, and tomato nicely complemented the rest of the sandwich with a light crunch. Yet, there was one big problem: the Hummy left us hungry and unfulfilled.

The Hummy just didn’t kick like some of its predecessors. There was nothing in it to make you get up on the table and yell “THIS IS A SANDWICH!” Instead, it merely it whetted our appetites and made us feel like we should be spending more time at the gym and less time on line at Adinah’s. The Hummy has no base; the avocado is refreshing, but it entirely overwhelms the hummus and leaves your mouth feeling goopy. At first, we thought that the Hummy might be good for a light snack, but if you’re going to spend $5.00 on a snack, you might as well buy a Ferrari.

We also struggled to master the art of devouring a wrap: at several points during our sandwich eating session the wrap disintegrated, leaving more of the Hummy in our laps than in our mouths.

Do not be deceived by this wrap’s cute name: you may want to take it home and snuggle with it, but it will not satisfy you. More hummus might have made the wrap more substantive, and several semi-reliable sources (we don’t trust anyone completely when it comes to food) have told us that the Hummy can be requested on pita bread to infinitely increase its delectability.

We thought that The Hummy was a yuppie might call a “chic burrito.” In our opinion, you can’t just shove a bunch of “Fresh Direct” into a tortilla and call it gourmet. Save your money on this one.

 

THE HISTORY OF THE BARDVARK

Juliet Glazer ’12

BHSEC has a number of mascots—three, to be exact. The sports teams claim the Raptor and the Bardbarian, but Principal Ray Peterson’s favorite is the mythical and elusive Baardvark, after which this newspaper is named.

Six years ago on community day, a group of students decided to draw the school its first mascot, a bow-tied and bespectacled creature that resembled an armadillo more than an aardvark. A lightbulb was drawn over the Baardvark’s head to show that it was thinking, as all BHSEC students do.

The students brought the drawing to Mr. Peterson, who showed it to Luke Butler, an artist and family friend. After researching the habits of the aardvark (a solitary, nocturnal, African animal that eats ants and termites), he revised the students’ drawing and created the first rendition of the Baardvark that we now all know and love.

Over the years, Butler, who now lives and shows in Los Angeles, has drawn many versions of the Baardvark. At one point, Butler worked as a bartender and drew the Baardvark sitting at a bar, drinking. Another shows the Baardvark reading a book about ants and licking his lips with a long red tongue.

When the school received a C on its report card, Butler drew the Baardvark as superman, proudly revealing a C on his chest, book and glasses on the ground. The grade was eventually raised to a B, so he replaced the C with a B. The image is printed on the school’s BHSEC bookmarks.

The athletic teams wanted a mascot, so Mr. Peterson suggested that they adopt the Baardvark. Going for something a bit more vicious, they chose the raptor instead, which Mr. Peterson characterized as “some foul-smelling beast from the locker room.”

When Dr. Steven Mazie became the advisor for the newspaper, he held a contest to come up with a new name. Mr. Peterson suggested that it be named the Baardvark. “The Baardvark is literate, it reads text,” Mr. Peterson proposed. In return for thinking of the name, he got a lifetime subscription to the Baardvark.

Much to our Principal’s chagrin, however, the Baardvark isn’t even mentioned as one of the school mascots in BHSEC’s Wikipedia entry. But he said he liked that BHSEC has multiple mascots, because the school has many sides.

The Baardvark represents many characteristics of BHSEC. It’s intellectual, it reads, it thinks, and it wears a bow-tie. Mr. Peterson has other suspicions about the animal as well: “It may do freewrites, it may keep dialectical notebooks, we’re not sure.”

 

DIA: WHAT ART OUGHT TO BE

Sam Levine ’10

If Donald Judd’s simple, plywood box sculptures were sitting on a curb on Houston Street, a sanitation worker would have no problem throwing them in the back of garbage truck. Instead, Judd’s work is sitting in its own gallery in the Dia: Beacon Riggio Galleries, where people from all around the world come to see it.

No, the museum’s curators are not playing a joke on visitors. Judd’s work is part of Dia: Beacon’s minimalist art collection. Like Judd’s sculptures, all of the minimalist pieces in the museum are things that we do not typically think of as art, like a room of crushed cars or a series of scrawny lines on a gallery wall. The artists invite the viewer to become a part of the art instead of passively looking at it. Minimalist art forces us to throw away our preconceptions and redefine our notions of what constitutes art.

This reconsideration of the value of art fits nicely into the postmodern theme of the spring semester of Year II seminar, and the two-hour trip to Dia: Beacon has become a rite of passage for the graduating class.

The most difficult notion to let go of at Dia: Beacon is that “easy” art does not belong in a museum. We shouldn’t dismiss art that doesn’t require exceptional skill as meaningless. Rather, we should ask ourselves a more important question: why do we go to museums expecting to see pieces produced by artists who are masters of their crafts?

Instead of forcing one particular artistic interpretation on the viewer, minimalist art is ambiguous and invites a multiplicity of interpretations. Depending on where you stand in the gallery, the same sculpture can look entirely different.

Many of the pieces at Dia: Beacon are challenging and conceptually intriguing. The most difficult piece to deal with is Robert Ryman’s “White on White” series, a collection of canvases entirely covered with white paint. Although Ryman’s white canvases are easy to discuss in the context of Year II seminar, the series can be inaccessible to those unfamiliar with postmodernism. Inaccessibility has its downsides, but it also stimulates a new conversation about what art ought to be.

 

COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT GRADUATES TO A BIGGER SPACE

Juliet Glazer ’12

June 24, 2010 will mark the eighth commencement of BHSEC Manhattan and the first for BHSEC Queens. For the past 7 years, BHSEC’s college commencement ceremony has been held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. Built in 1858, the Great Hall has been host to many presidential and campaign speeches, as well as Women’s Rights and NAACP speakers. Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, to name a few, have all delivered speeches there.

This year, the commencement ceremony will be held at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. This change was made because the Great Hall at Cooper Union isn’t big enough to fit all the graduates from both BHSEC Manhattan and BHSEC Queens.

This year, for the first time, BHSEC Queens graduates will be sharing the stage with BHSEC Manhattan. Martha Olsen, Dean of Administration, explained that although there are two campuses, the two schools are really one.“It’s one BHSEC, we are the same diploma program,” Dean Olsen said. She compared the joint commencement to the way that different departments at a university share graduation.

There are about 50 students from BHSEC Queens and approximately 120 from BHSEC Manhattan. Year II Cassie Seltman said that she thought the ceremony would be less personal if both schools were involved. “We have a community here,” she said. “I don’t want to graduate with a school we didn’t learn and grow with,” she added.

The Skirball Center has plenty of space, so each graduate will be able to bring at least three people to the ceremony. Dean Olsen affirmed that the seating would be much better, and, unlike at Cooper Union, everyone would be able to see the stage clearly.

Deborah Bial, the founder and executive director of the Posse foundation and winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, will deliver the commencement speech for the class of 2010. Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, will also speak. State Senator Daniel Squadron and State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan may be present as well.

In Dean Olsen’s view, the only drawback to moving graduation and sharing it with BHSEC II is that the space won’t have as much historical significance. “We don’t get to say that our speaker stands at the same podium Abraham Lincoln stood at,” she said.

 

HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS MIX-UP

Mariko Sredojev ’13

We all remember the day we got our high school acceptance letters and were immediately filled with joy and relief to see that we had received an offer of admission from BHSEC.

This year, however, only one eighth grader who did not take the specialized high school exam experienced this feeling.

The high school admissions process in New York City is broken up into two rounds: the specialized round and the main round. The specialized round consists of the SHSAT test for New York City’s seven specialized high schools.

Students who receive an offer from a specialized school find out whether they were accepted by any non-specialized public high schools earlier than students who either did not take the SHSAT or were not accepted to a specialized high school. Since students who take the SHSAT receive their admissions results earlier, many eighth graders believe that if they want to get into BHSEC, they need to take the SHSAT. However, Olga Carmona, the admissions coordinator at BHSEC, has been informing worried parents that this is not the case, because “Bard isn’t that kind of school.”

Regardless, more and more students have been taking the SHSAT solely to receive their results earlier. As a result, nearly eighty percent of incoming ninth graders are students who were accepted in the specialized round. Usually, BHSEC accepts roughly equal the numbers of students in the specialized round and in the main round.

Principal Ray Peterson expressed regret that the SHSAT unintentionally played such a big role in forming the class of 2015 “Specialized admissions should not determine our class,” he said.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for BHSEC to determine which students take the SHSAT. After BHSEC’s own exam and interviews, the admissions office ranks students it would like to offer admission from 1 to 700. However, there is no way for BHSEC to know which other schools these students have applied to, whether or not they took the SHSAT, and if they are still interested in coming to Bard. Because there were many more people admitted in the first round this year, there was not enough room for those who may have been ranked even lower than those who were accepted in the main round.

This year, approximately eighty percent of the available 155 seats were filled up in the specialized round, only leaving about 30 seats left for students who did not take the SHSAT. But due to a technical error at the DOE, only one of the 30 students was notified of his acceptance. The other 29 students were admitted to other schools that had perhaps been their second or third choices. The admissions office at BHSEC immediately tried to inform these students of their acceptance, but some had already accepted offers from other public high schools or private/parochial schools. BHSEC is encouraging students who are still interested in attending BHSEC this fall to appeal their decision through the Department of Education.

 

HUNDREDS ATTEND WU LAO SHI’S MEMORIAL

Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

Wynne Wu, founder of BHSEC’s Chinese language program, passed away in her sleep on April 23rd after an eight year struggle with stage IV, or metastatic, breast cancer. Hundreds of family members, friends, coworkers, and students gathered on Sunday, May 2 for a walk through Prospect Park and a memorial service at Congregation Beth Elohim. Ms. Wu leaves her husband Steven and daughter Helen, who was born this past December.

Ms. Wynne Wen-Ren Wu was born in 1975 in Queens and raised on the Lower East Side with her older brother. After graduating from Stuyvesant High School in 1993, she studied piano performance and East Asian studies at Oberlin College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. Ms. Wu then studied Music Education at New York University, where she received her master’s degree, and taught at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Greenwich Village before coming to BHSEC in 2002.

The memorial was a celebration of life; according to Ms. Wu’s wishes, none of the guests wore black. The service included a photo montage of Ms. Wu’s life, a video clip from her wedding to Steven Horowitz in 2007, a poem composed by her father, and music ranging from John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves” to classical pieces. Principal Ray Peterson, Dr. David Clark and Year I Dominic Veconi spoke on behalf of the BHSEC community; Year IIs Gwen Weston and Katharine Glanbock sang a song that Ms. Wu encouraged them to submit to a Chinese karaoke competition.

Ms. Wu’s memorial concluded with the mourner’s Kaddish from her husband’s Jewish tradition and incense offerings from her family’s Chinese tradition. A potluck followed the service, including, as Ms. Wu requested, “a favorite dish of each participant.” Ms. Wu had a love for cooking, swimming, running, knitting, singing, piano and travel.

The service was a reflection of Wynne Wu’s passions and the profound influence she had on the people around her. “She was the first voice I heard from BHSEC,” said Chinese teacher Fang Fu, “She was sort of like a founding mother of this program. This program was expanded in her hands.” When Ms. Fu took over as the Introduction to Chinese teacher, she realized how skillfully Ms. Wu managed a 9th grade classroom: “I realized how hard it is…she did all of these different jobs without complaining.”

Ms. Wu’s students also appreciate what a supportive, creative, and dedicated teacher she was. On a Facebook group in memory of Ms, Wu, Silvia Galis-Menendez, who graduated from BHSEC in 2009, wrote, “I fell in love with Chinese language and culture because of her passion and knowledge. Even after I graduated from BHSEC, Ms. Wu still cared about how I was doing. She touched so many lives and inspired so many people.” Year II Abigail Savitch-Lew added, “Wu lao shi was an incredibly supportive teacher and was the teacher who encouraged me and prepared me to go to China, a life changing experience.”

In honor of Ms. Wu’s contribution to the BHSEC community, the Wynne Wu Fund was established to support BHSEC students’ Chinese language study. The Wynne Wu Fund supplements the Wu Travel Scholarship for BHSEC’s China Exchange and provides funding for BHSEC students to participate in summer Chinese language programs.

 

PRINCIPAL PETERSON RETIRES, LEAVES BHSEC WITH “FAITH IN ADOLESCENTS”

Nika Sabasteanski ’12 and Noa Bendit-Shtull ’10

On September 1, 2010, Principal Ray Peterson will retire after nine years at BHSEC Manhattan. Although Mr. Peterson has mixed emotions, he emphasizes that BHSEC has been his favorite place to teach. Although he planned to retire earlier, he was convinced to stay, and he has “very few regrets.”

A collective gasp echoed through the BHSEC auditorium when Mr. Peterson announced his retirement. Although our school would not exist without the effort that Mr. Peterson has put into its growth, he made it clear that BHSEC’s inception would not have been possible without the help of Pat Sharpe of Bard College and Ba Win at Simon’s Rock. Running BHSEC is also a team effort. BHSEC is different from the typical Department of Education High school in that staff and professors have a voice. Every morning, Mr. Peterson meets with a group of faculty that will create continuity after his departure and help the transition run smoothly.

BHSEC is different from the standard New York City public school, largely because of Mr. Peterson’s painstaking work. BHSEC was founded on writing and thinking workshops that Mr. Peterson spearheaded based on his experience at Bard College. These workshops have been central to the school as a model for other high schools.

Perhaps what distinguishes him from other principals is his ability to connect with students by teaching a ninth grade American Literature class.10th grader Amelia Holcomb remembers that “I could often see him in the cafeteria during lunch, finding a student or waiting in line like everybody else for food. No other principal I’ve ever had has been so in touch with the students in that way. I often see him walking the halls in one of his celebrated bow ties, stopping to chat with students, most of whom he knows by name.”

Dr. David Clark says that Mr. Peterson has, “an ungodly amount of energy. I don’t think he ever sleeps.”

“He’s a gentle giant,” says physics professor Dr. Ben Mikesh, trying to sum up all of his feelings about Mr. Peterson in one sentence. Mr. Cho observes that Mr. Peterson is “protective of the faculty and students…he lets us run ourselves.”

A transfer student, Liana Violet Ray, says that Mr. Peterson made her transition to a new atmosphere easier and that “He changed my attitude towards education and learning. He made it more open and encouraging, if that makes sense. He just made Bard so much better for me.”

BHSEC was a bigger success than Mr. Peterson had ever imagined it would be and, with the help of a brilliant faculty, he has gained a greater “faith in adolescents and belief in what is possible.” He believes that Bard is a model for a “democratic approach in education” that will continue to provide guidance for other early colleges.

Next year, Mr. Peterson plans to do consulting work with Bard College on an early college program in Israel. He will continue to work on “how to turn a rote curriculum into something more based on inquiry and writing and thinking.” When he’s not working, Mr. Peterson hopes to have more time to spend time with his family and children, who live in the city. “It would be nice to read the New York Times over coffee in the morning,” he said.

In early May, BHSEC went through the Board of Education process for selecting a new principal according to the C-30 Process Implementation Guide. The students, parents, and teachers of the School Leadership Team, which is called the “Level I Committee” in the C-30 Process, evaluated applications for Mr. Peterson’s position. After a Hiring Manger conducts Level II interviews, the School Superintendent, the Chancellor, and the School Leadership Team must approve the Hiring Manager’s selection.

Although the position is open to candidates from inside and outside the school, Mr. Peterson said that “It’s a strong possibility that we would turn to someone from within.” Dean of Studies Michael Lerner, one of the candidates for principal, has gone through Level I and Level II interviews. Dean Lerner says that he isn’t aware of any other candidates for Mr. Peterson’s position. Dean Lerner says that no matter who is chosen, “Thankfully this is not a situation where big changes are needed.” A principal will be chosen before the end of the school year, and will work with Mr. Peterson and the faculty throughout the summer to prepare for the 2010-2011 school year.

Mr. Peterson has been a catalyst for a new type of education. He believes in our visions and in the possibilities of our excellence. No matter what he does after BHSEC, he has helped create a school with higher order of learning, where students are not treated like teenagers, and are held to high standards. He made it clear on the first day of freshman year that we would not be treated like high school students; we would be given a choice and an unwritten honor code: he would treat us like adults as long as we proved that we were responsible. He has prepared hundreds of young people for college and for life. As one of his favorite authors, William Faulkner, said, “He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

Mr. Peterson says that his time working at BHSEC with “amazingly inventive, innovative people” gave him a new perspective on education; “It’s been the most wonderful job I’ve ever had.”

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