Dr. Vernoff: “So they did a full 100 degree turn.”
Mr. Gagstetter: “When you are crying, you are sad.”
Mr. Vartorella: “In fact I don’t know your parents at all. I’m sure if I met them, we’d have a fabulous time.”
Student: “There is a rumor going around you will be available 7th period.”
Dr. Johnson: *looks around* “It’s scandalous, but true.”
Dr. Rosenberg: “A C is passing, but only just barely… and a D is like… well, I give you credit for the course, but please don’t ever take a math class again.” *class laughs nervously* “…I’m just kidding.”
*Student at board screeches chalk*
Dr. Hernandez: “I will live like a spider now.”
Student: “What exactly is ‘the passion between the sexes’?”
Dr. Mazie: “Well, I’m not a certified health teacher, but when a man loves a woman and a woman loves a man…”
All Teacherisms are published and transcribed with the explicit permission of the teachers being quoted.
If you have a Teacherism and would like to submit it, join the Facebook group “BHSEC Teacherisms: The Bardvark Column,” or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUBBLE TEA: AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Ella Fornari ’12
As the weather is starting to cool down, I have been reminiscing more and more about the past summer. I am reminded of the refreshing bubble tea I would procure to beat the heat when I was stuck in the city for a few weeks this summer. Thinking back to this made me crave bubble tea even more. This craving, although very inconvenient given that the weather is too cold for such a cold drink made me want to find out more about bubble tea. To find out more about this delicious drink I interviewed BHSEC’s resident bubble tea expert, Year 1 student Melissa Leung.
Ella: What interests you about bubble tea?
Melissa: The bubbles are squishy, and sweet, and they pop in your mouth. It just makes me happy when I drink it.
Ella: What is your favorite type of bubble tea?
Melissa: Red bean Vietnamese coconut condensed milk smoothie
Ella: Wow…what does that consist of?
Melissa: Red bean, ice, coconut flavoring, and a lot of condensed milk. There’s a lot of fat in it…
Ella: Would that be for the adventurous?
Ella: What about for the less adventurous?
Melissa: Passion fruit, any fruit really
Ella: What’s a good authentic bubble tea flavor?
Melissa: Lychee is a good authentic flavor, for those that are not adventurous enough for the red bean Vietnamese coconut condensed milk smoothie, but still want to try something new.
Ella: What is your favorite bubble tea place?
Melissa: The best traditional bubble tea place is Tenren. It’s all over China Town and Hong Kong, so it’s really legit, but it’s really overpriced, like $4 for a small. Only young people drink bubble tea though.
Ella: Why is that?
Melissa: Well you know old people like to have warm soothing tea. Teenagers want the cold tea though.
Ella: Are there specific kinds of bubbles you like?
Melissa: The classic bubble is Gelatin, but I like the yogurt bubbles. The yogurt bubbles burst in your mouth and come in flavors like passion fruit, vanilla, and strawberry
Ella: So essentially you can get a passion fruit with passion fruit bubbles, have you ever gotten that before?
Ella: What was that like?
Melissa: An explosion of flavor in my mouth.
“TO CATCH A THEIF”
Daniel Moon ’13
Students and teachers believe that BHSEC fosters an overall safe learning environment. However there have been quite a number of thefts occurring in the school, which threaten the security of students and their belongings. In June 2009, Jolene Allsop, a sophomore, was both discouraged and angered when she discovered that her charging iPod in the computer lab had been stolen. She said she initially felt “furious,” but her experience of disappointment after this incident made her more aware of her belongings. Like other theft victims, Jolene suspected that students were the culprits.
More recently, in the week of October 4th 2010, there was an unusual case of three consecutive thefts. Another sophomore’s wallet was stolen, containing her metro card, keys, ID, 10 dollars, debit card, and library card. Aliza Yallin said, “I was getting on the bus and I couldn’t find my wallet!” She felt scared, violated, and upset as she emptied out everything in her bag three times hoping to find her wallet. She was not only disappointed but also bewildered as to how such a thing was possible in BHSEC’s environment. She claimed that she had stayed in school and had her bag next to her at all times, so the likeliness of someone stealing her wallet was slim. Aliza went to the lost and found but nonetheless could not find it. She believes that a sly student is behind these thefts.
During the same week, Avery Warsing and Selin Cetinkaya, both 10th graders, had their wallets stolen. When asked how she felt about her loss, Selin bluntly said, “Tight!”
Despite students’ suspicions, Assistant Principal Camille Sawick, believes that “there is a fine line between what is lost and what is stolen.” As she was recounting the many frequent “thefts” in the past, she stated that students often mistake their lost possessions as stolen later to find their belongings in the lost and found. However, it is apparent that these recent thefts were not coincidental losses… all the stolen articles were wallets.
Although direct knowledge of the thief or thieves may be difficult to obtain, students realize that they prefer wallets. There may be more thefts to come, and Ms. Sawick stresses the importance to be vigilant of one’s own belongings and prevent opportunities for theft to arise. Even though we maintain a sheltered community at BHSEC we are in New York City and we need to keep a close eye on our valuables.
BEEN AROUND THE BLOCK: BHSEC ALUMNI TELL IT ALL
Madeleine Webber ’13
As we are all aware, BHSEC is not just another New York City public high school. It is a specialized early college that allows its students to nurture their academic potentials in a Petri dish like no other. No matter if you are in the high school program or the early college program, the workload never diminishes or becomes less stimulating. As a 10th grade transfer student to BHSEC, this is my first year here, as well as my first year in New York City. Enrolling here at BHSEC, I was not too familiar with how the early college program or the college credits earned in the last two years help you later in your academic career. Even though I have been attending BHSEC for the past two months, the whole concept still seems foreign to me; you can get college credits in high school? To find the answers to my many questions, I interviewed two inspiring BHSEC alumni: Citizen Sigmund and Tahira Khalid. When interviewing these two young women I was curious as to how the college program at BHSEC prepared them for the next chapter of their lives: university.
Citizen gave examples from her life to make the situation clearer. She attended BHSEC during its beginning years in 2001 and was part of the second graduating class. According to Citizen, BHSEC gave her a sense of direction for her academic career, such as picking a college. Like most seniors in high school, it came time to choose what major she most wanted to pursue and in her case she chose political science. To find a college that fit with her dreams she traveled across the Atlantic to St. Andrews College in Scotland majoring in their International Relations program.
Citizen remembered her college experience and said that, “The first few years of college were not challenging for me really, but keeping in mind that in Scotland the students go to college at age 17 (although to be fair it is an international school) I still think maybe the academics are tailored a bit to younger students in the beginning.” She explained how even though she may have gone to a school adapted for slightly younger students she was still academically mature…thanks to her experience at BHSEC. “I think the biggest thing I can say is that I had gotten so used to the free-thinking ideals of BHSEC. I was so used to class discussion, that going into a very structured academic environment where I was asked to write essays only using published authors to prove an argument and my only chance to give my ideas was in the conclusion, was all very strange to me,” she noted. Clearly, BHSEC provides a unique environment that cannot be found in many other schools. Even though she may have been prepared at BHSEC, she still had to acclimate herself to a her new environment.
Unlike Citizen, Tahira went to Bates, a liberal arts college, and majored in Women & Gender studies. She was part of BHSEC’s 2006 graduating class and she went on to graduate from Bates College this past May. However, Bates didn’t accept any of her college credits so she began college as any other college freshman would, looking forward to a full four years ahead of her. She assured me that not all colleges were like this, she just happened to choose one that required her to start on an equal level as her peers.
“I have no doubts that BHSEC was the best possible choice for me to go to high school and I wish that everyone could have the experience I had. And I believe that most of my graduating class would agree with me,” she told me. One quality of BHSEC, which Tahira greatly admired, is the amount of freedom, which we are given. “One of the things that shocked me most, was coming to BHSEC in 9th grade and being able to just leave the classroom to go to the bathroom. I didn’t need a hall-pass anymore,” she reflected with a smile. According to her, another wonderful aspect of BHSEC is the level of respect everyone receives, especially in student-teacher relationships. As for the early college program, Tahira says, “it helped to foster my own curiosity and bring out an academic challenge, leading to educational growth, which helped me later in college”.
Out of all the things BHSEC has to offer, both Citizen and Tahira agreed that BHSEC was an amazing experience, preparing them tremendously for their future student and professional careers. Later in the interview Tahira even said, “I am proud to call myself a BHSEC alumni”.
NEW ELECTRONIC MUSIC TEACHER AND BROADCASTER OF BRAINWAVES: ZACH LAYTON
Hannah Frishberg ‘13
“You can call me Zach, by the way,” said the new electronic music teacher at BHSEC, Zach Layton, at the end of the first class. So we call him Zach.
Born in Brooklyn, Zach grew up enamored with the energy and vibrancy of the concerts, museums, and culture of New York City. He recalls seeing the avant-garde jazz pianist Cecil Taylor on his prom night with friends at the Village Vangaurd, “I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world”. Although he lived briefly in Amsterdam and is well travelled, he considers New York the best city in the world for art and music, and his home.
For Zach, he didn’t choose to pursue music. Rather, music chose him. “I think it’s a pretty odd thing to do…it’s not easy, but it’s just something that has to happen in my life, whether I like it or not. But it’s so much fun so I can’t complain. It’s like a language I need to speak or I feel like I’m unable to express myself otherwise. I teach because I want to share that exuberance, that feeling of joy and that mystery that lies behind the harmonies and rhythms of being alive.”
Zach believes music is a great way for people to participate in a direct human experience with one another. It’s especially important in a world overly focused on digital technology. Zach feels that a computer screen can’t duplicate the feelings that live music generates. Playing music with other people, from improvisation to classical music to being in a rock band is indescribable for Zach, “Very good for the soul”. Everyone from John Cage, Black Sabbath, and Herman Melville to his teachers, friends, and fellow artists has influenced him.
In addition to teaching at BHSEC, Zach is also a curator, has worked at PS 1 in Long Island city, and produces concerts by internationally recognized and local or emerging artists at an experimental music performance space in Brooklyn called ISSUE Project Room, “It’s an extremely exciting place with a multichannel sound system that can move sound over the heads of the audience in as many as 15 separate channels of audio. Incredible people like Merzbow, Christian Wolff, Robert Ashley, Maryanne Amacher, Omar Souleyman, Alvin Lucier, Vito Acconci and Steve Buscemi have all performed there. You can learn more about this place here: http://www.issueprojectroom.org”. In addition, Zach is currently working on an album with drummer Bredford Reed, and has an artist’s residency through the experimental radio organization 103.9 in upstate New York, “I’m working on a project with them that involves creating music using brainwaves and then taking those brainwaves and broadcasting them over the radio. It’s an attempt to use new technologies to expand the powers of mental telepathy. A very exciting and bizarre project.”
As for the music industry, “It’s a bit weird. I think the ‘music industry’ as a system where big record companies control and distribute what people listen to is coming to an end due to the internet.” He spoke about how independent bands or solo artists have the ability to produce their own albums or singles and can tour in Europe or elsewhere if they’re extremely motivated. The accessibility of the Internet has certainly changed the dynamic of music. But he’ll miss the record stores. “I learned a lot from going to record stores and talking to record store owners about what they were interested in and what they were listening to. So this gets to the human connection in music, the communal aspect. People listen to music. People make music. People enjoy music together. The Internet is a great thing, but it’s no substitute for human interaction and community.”
Besides music, Zach is also interested in visual art and loves visiting galleries and museums to get inspired for his own work. He also makes computer generated video art, has started making films with some friends, and travels whenever possible. On what he thinks of BHSEC, “I’m very impressed with the students. Everyone seems very intelligent and motivated and genuinely interested in new ideas. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a high school like it. It’s certainly a lot more inspiring than where I went to high school. You guys are very lucky.”
Irma Thomas – Here I Am
Roxy Music – Beauty Queen
Bob Dylan – Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind
Arthur Russell – Lucky Cloud
Patti Smith – Horses
Lounge Lizards – Queen of All Ears
Amon Duul 2 – Archangels Thunderbird
Velvet Underground – Candy Says
John Cage – Ryoanji
Morton Feldman – Why Patterns
Pops Staples – Tupelo
Rhys Chatham – Guitar Trio 1977
Smog – Feather by Feather
Ajoy Chakraborty – Abhogi
Alice Coltrane – Journey in Satchidananda
Joanna Newsom – in California
John Cale and Terry Riley – The Church of Anthrax
Kraftwerk – Autobahn
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Robert Ashley – Perfect Lives
Ornette Coleman – Lonely Woman
The Shangri-Las – He Cried
Sonic Youth – Shadow of a Doubt
Skip James – Devil Got My Woman
NO COMMUNITY SERVICE REQUIREMENTS?
Isabelle St. Clair ’13
On school tours, 8th graders give quizzical looks when they are informed that BHSEC does not require its students to do community service. Even the incoming 9th graders remain puzzled for the first few weeks of school, contemplating whether or not they need volunteer hours. In most regular high schools, the school asks for a fixed number of hours in order for the student to graduate. However, we all know that BHSEC is not a “regular” school, for it encourages the growth of responsibility for the students, without fixed or rigid requirements.
Community service is one of the many responsibilities a BHSEC student must take and control for themselves. The great thing about having the community service not forced upon the already stressed student is that they can have the freedom to decide when they want to volunteer. But the responsibilities for taking action must be quickly understood in order for BHSEC students to find the right volunteer work and maintain a consistency in their grades. It is encouraged that students get involved early in their high school careers, so they can establish a good foundation in their work. Why volunteer though?
“Not only does community service act as a way to improve a community, but it builds character and educates students on the issues that are facing their neighborhoods”, says Ms. Bates, student activities and international program coordinator. She also emphasizes, “Community service and volunteer work is also looked upon favorably by college admissions offices as well as by potential employers”. It looks good on any kind of résumé, for it shows dedication and hard work in helping the community grow.
Volunteering also gives a sense of pride by making a community a more connected and a safer place. This pride reflects the work the student has done to contribute to his or her community, because there are so many ways to do it. “From visiting with seniors, to tutoring children after school, to picking up litter in a public park, there really is something out there for everyone,” exclaims Ms. Bates, highlighting the variety of community service opportunities. There are opportunities for volunteering and assisting the community in different ways, but get started and learn more. For more information visit Ms. Bates in room 406 or visit the BHSEC Connect blog at: http://bhsecconnect.edublogs.org/ and select “Volunteer” from the drop-down menu.
Community service helps students develop a relationship with the community and brings awareness to the neighborhood they live in. Whether they are concerned about their community service hours or stressed about balancing internships with the workload at BHSEC, it is important that students stay aware of the community around them.
“TALKKIN’ BOUT MY GENERATION”: THE AGE OF CYBERBULLYING
Emily Radigan ’13
Cyberbullying. This seems to happen a lot, on Facebook, on Formspring, and on the Internet in general. Cyberbullying ranges from insulting someone online, to much more serious forms such as exploiting someone’s right to privacy. Consider the tragic case of Tyler Clementi, for example. His roommate and another peer videotaped him and another male having a sexual encounter and created a live feed of it over the Internet. This was an intense, horrific example of cyberbullying. Clementi committed suicide after finding the video on the Internet. Not all forms of cyberbullying are as devastating, but they can still be very hurtful. What people forget is that the while the Internet may seem abstract, it is still part of the real world and has very real consequences that differ from its relative anonymity.
Formspring is a social networking site where many instances of cyberbullying have occurred. People have anonymously written depraved insults, rude remarks and other forms of slander on another person’s Formspring page. While many people respond with the same spite, these comments can still be very upsetting. While most of us seem to be aware that what we are writing can be injurious to the recipient, there is still a large percentage of teens that report being cyberbullied. Around 20% of teens revealed that they were being or had been cyberbullied in a recent study done by the Cyberbullying Research Center. Lately, at BHSEC there have been several cyberbullying incidents on popular social networking sites. Cyberbullying is in fact illegal as it qualifies as harassment in very serious cases, such as Clementi’s. Other, more minor, forms can lead to suspension or other serious consequences, as it should.
Different people cope with cyberbullying in different ways, depending on the gravity and ramifications of a given incident. When asked if they knew anyone who had been cyberbullied, one student replied, “Yes, she seemed to just shake it off but I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant.” This is a case, where although the bullying doesn’t seem as serious as it does to others, it can still be detrimental. The same student, when asked if she believed leaving a rude comment on Formspring/Honest Box counted as cyberbullying, she denied that it was. This was a disturbing commentary on the ignorance of the cyber age. Most likely, anyone who has Formspring accounts have seen at least one, if not more, insult about them left anonymously. Formspring seems to give people the allusion that it is condonable to write anything to that person, even if it is cruel and would not want it said to their face. While many teens seem to ignore the harassments and give a snarky reply, cyberbullying can still wound someone’s self-confidence and in extreme cases it can cause a deep depression. Next time you type out an insulting question or comment somewhere on the internet, think about what you would do if you received this and whether or not you would you like it? And then go and close your browser. We entering a new era, where electronic social interactions are replacing face-to-face encounters. What are we losing in this digital age? Some argue that not only are our social and verbal skills depleting, but we are also losing our empathy and compassion, virtues that define our humanity. Educating ourselves about cyberspace will serve as a useful tool in the decades to come. We must evolve with the times but we cannot allow society to mold our morality.
NEW AMSTERDAM: A PORTRAIT OF MORNING
Nika Sabasteanski ’12
“There’s UFOs over New York, and I ain’t too surprised.” -John Lennon
1. When I was in 6th grade I would wake up at 5:30, put my hair into two braids, and attempt to counter the weight of my backpack by leaning forward until my torso was parallel to the ground. By 6:30 my father and I would leave the apartment and take the B for an hour and fifteen minutes to 86th Street and Central Park West. School started at 8:10 so we had time to walk through the park and stand by the edge of the reservoir. There was a fence on its perimeter so we would put our feet on the bottom rung and stare out across the expanse of water. “Gooooooood Morning New York!” my father would yell out, grinning at the ducks that swam by the algae covered rocks and solidified garbage. But only I could hear his wake up call since the throngs of people and the depth of the water absorbed his voice. We did that almost every morning when he took me to school and I would giggle when he shouted out to the other side of the pond. Sometimes I would say it, in my small baby like voice, but half way through the elongated ‘good’ I would break into laughter and resort to waving at the water until we turned around hand in hand and retreated solemnly to Columbus Avenue where I waited for school to begin reading a copy of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” and my father left until… “Gooooooood morning New York,” began again.
2. An old man gets onto the Z train and clears his shaky voice with his song. I close my eyes and increase Joni Mitchell’s volume as she attempts to sing over the clamor of the car. Her voice strains to compete with the din of ringtones, curses, and the old man singing.
Alive, alive, I want to get up and jive
I want to wreck my stockings in some juke box dive
Do you want – do you want – do you want
To dance with me baby
brakes screech as we cross the Williamsburg Bridge and Joni’s voice reaches almost the same frequency as the wheels and for a moment I think that they will reach destructive interference, and their voices will obliterate each other. I look at the old man to distract myself from the babel of the early morning train. He’s wearing a baseball cap that says, “The Forty-niners,” and the wrist of his shirt has Jamaican colored bands. His hair has patches of gray and his skin looks weathered and broken in. At first I can’t tell if he is begging, preaching or just singing so I turn down Joni as she sings,
I want to renew you again and again
Applause, applause – life is our cause
He snaps his fingers to the rhythm of the drums and shapes his hands as if they were holding the mallets for the vibes. I hold them in my hands too and press my foot down on the pedal, sighing with satisfaction when the note stays on the surface of the vibes, lingering in the air for as long as I hold my foot down, until it’s gone. My grandfather stands behind me as if I am a marionette and moves my hands across the instrument to play a scale. The man taps the floor softly with his foot and closes his eyes. Someone’s moving his hands too, but none of us can see her. We sit in the middle of the bridge, stranded in the center of the East River and he has his audience captured. I’m the only one who’s looking at him as he begins to hum and then scat and then sing. He wasn’t just singing one song but rather an overture of his past as a young man, as a lover, as a musician.
Unforgettable, that’s what you are
Unforgettable though near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
He gets off the train at Essex still singing and I can’t find his cap or his shirt as he disappears into the station.
3. When I’m walking on E. Houston in the morning, I can tell what time it is by the position of the regulars. “The regulars” include about 5 people who I see every single morning without fail. I see John and Yoko when I’m at Essex, or if I’m late at Allen. I first noticed John because he wears granny glasses and has curly brown hair like Lennon had in his New York days. Most of the time he walks with a middle aged Asian woman with long hair. Thus I have christened the couple: John and Yoko. John occasionally walks with some of my other regulars but he mostly walks with Yoko. Sometimes we smile as we pass each other, and sometimes we avert our eyes, denoting the tension of the predictable. I mostly see young Allen Ginsburg on Suffolk Street. He’s a slight man with rounded shoulders as if his torso is caving in on itself. He wears old blazers and black-framed glasses. Some mornings when he’s especially frazzled, he smokes a cigarette, and holds it between his long, thin fingers that look like they’re on the verge of death. There’s this picture of Ginsburg taken by his lover, William S. Burroughs on the roof of his apartment between Avenues B and C. He looks like he’s 30 and wonders like he’s 4. I can’t help but think of Ginsburg when I see him walking down E. Houston with the tall man wearing the jazz cap, and the curly haired woman with the smile. As our shoulders brush each other when we pass, I think I hear him whisper
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war (Howl)
But maybe he was just muttering about the long walk.
THE VALUE OF TURNITIN.COM
Lindsay Duddy ’13
Written on the blackboard is a list of names, and in bold above them is the word “Turnitin”. “These people,” the teacher says, “have failed to turn their papers to Turnitin.com, and without submitting them, these students are at risk of getting a zero on their essay”.
It is common at BHSEC that students find themselves not only handing in hard copies of essays but also having to take an extra step to submit their essays to Turnitin. Turnitin is a website that exposes common threads, such as similar sentences or phrases, between students’ work and an already published work. What students don’t know is why their teachers choose to use this website at the end of the essay process; perhaps it might be an even more useful tool to spot-check your work during the writing process. Turnitin presents itself with the slogan “Prevent plagiarism, engage students.” Do teachers truly feel that Turnitin is standing up to these standards that are displayed proudly on the front of the website? These questions can all be answered by observing the reactions of teachers and students to Turnitin.com, and what they believe are its strengths and weaknesses.
Dr. Matthews, a tenth-grade global history teacher and college program teacher, believes that Turnitin.com is a vital tool for high schools. He began with a statistic that says that 60-75% of students admit to cheating or plagiarism at one point or another. He explains, “Plagiarism is widespread but intellectual integrity is a key value and Turnitin is a tool that maintains this integrity.” He goes on to explain how this is a constant problem at any school, and Turnitin is the tool that allows him as well as his colleagues to regulate submissions and make sure that this problem stays under control.
Before Turnitin.com, teachers who suspected a student of plagiarizing had to do research to find if his/her inference was correct. Turnitin brings all these sources together and does the tedious work for the teachers.
Mr. Vartorella and Mr. Johnson both use Turnitin as a tool in their classrooms. Both teachers used the exact same word to describe their outlook on Turnitin; they both believe Turnitin to be a deterrent to plagiarism. Both teachers believe that if students know that all of their work must be submitted to Turnitin then the students will be less likely to commit plagiarism. Mr. Vartorella said, “It does not matter the student, plagiarism always happens and that is why Turnitin is a useful tool to prevent this from happening as much as possible.” Turnitin remains a touchy and unclear subject within the school but it is clear that our teachers use Turnitin.com due to strong moral convictions.
CLASSES DURING DEAN’S HOUR?
Nora Claire Miller ’12
With school a few months underway, many things are similar in BHSEC curriculum. High school advisory is still 6th period on Wednesdays and college advisory is 5th on Fridays. The setup of school days is largely similar, with freshman lunching 3rd period and sophomore lunching 4th. But there’s one crucial difference in the scheduling this term, and that is the change of Dean’s Hour.
In past years, Dean’s Hour has been a time for clubs to meet, for students to speak with teachers, for students to go to tutoring or study and for presentations and movies in the auditorium. The entire student body sharing this free period was extremely useful—anyone could meet because no one had class (save students in recitation classes).
This year, however, many 9th and 10th grade students have class during Dean’s Hour, even some students in the college program. This has been subject to some complaints, because many of us relied on Dean’s Hour for club meetings and study sessions with other students as well as teachers. Clubs are no longer allowed to meet during Dean’s Hour, however, to accommodate for the fact that many students have class. Not only are there required classes for many students but there are also mandatory lectures for Y1s every other week. While the talks are extremely thought provoking, BHSEC students need a breather.
The loss of Dean’s Hour reflects, in my opinion, a huge blow to the dynamic of BHSEC. In a school with such huge differences between the work and free periods in different grades, Dean’s Hour connected us for fifty minutes every Wednesday. Its demise signifies a growing gap between the schedules of different grades, a rift that has always been fairly palpable. I can rarely eat lunch with my friends from other grades, because our free periods rarely coincide. Every year I looked forward to being able to say for certain that I have a free with everyone—not just one or two people. Rather than scrambling through our schedules to come up with a mutual availability, this one common time was an anchor for meetings.
This may seem hyperbolic, and I’m sure many students don’t miss the crowded hallways and library during 7th period on Wednesdays. Scheduling is difficult, and to have to work around the weekly gap had to have been inconvenient for administrative purposes. That said, there is little that unifies the grades together anymore, nothing every student in BHSEC partakes in (except, maybe, fire drills). I think I speak for a large percentage of the school when I say that Dean’s Hour is sorely missed.
THIS “SOCIAL GENERATION”
Hannah Frishberg ’13
Aaron Sorkin’s “The Social Network” may be the greatest business film of all time. The fast-paced yet perfectly smooth ebb and flow of the picture tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. The film effortlessly transitions between the scenes of Zuckerbergs’s lawsuits after Facebook’s creation, and Zuckerberg’s sophomore year at Harvard, tracing the parties, connections, algorithms, and pre-Facebook social networking sites that led up to the immanent invention of Facebook. Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg), his roommate and original business manager Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), and fellow Harvard students the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer) have a seemingly constant dialogue that adds an appropriately fascinating but inhumanly perfect eloquence to the film’s perpetual college life. The movie is captivating from beginning to end, an impressive feat for 121 minutes of programming nerds starting a business.
Yet, what truly makes “The Social Network” so enthralling is its relevance. With over 500 million members, Facebook is the largest social networking site on the internet, and also perhaps the biggest time drain out there. A website offering the ability to interact with people from across time and space through a computer, no wonder Facebook is so addictive. It is not Facebook’s allure that is in question however, but its effect on culture and the human psyche. With instant messaging conversations and video chatting so accessible, it is almost as though they make face-to-face conversations inconvenient. Certainly it would be premature to say that such online communication has of yet replaced genuine contact, but it cannot be denied that many people use their computers to socialize instead of leaving their bedroom for their un-pixilated friends in reality. Could social networking sites like Facebook permanently inhibit human socializing skills? It is far too soon to know. Will such websites eventually change the concept of socializing? They already have.
Over the past 50 years, mainstream culture has steadily downgraded. With so many diverse and increasingly specific subcultures, it is nearly impossible that a group with such universal appeal as the Beatles will ever form again. Moreover, the internet has enabled anyone to become an instant celebrity overnight, talent or no. The World Wide Web has compacted the human race into the small screen of a computer, and in doing so the web has shattered the necessity of quality. Illegal downloading via the Internet has killed the music industry, quantity has replaced quality in television shows, and many youths and adults alike worldwide find their computers far more entertaining than the outdoors. Everyone can be an expert on anything. In further, the web shows a strong connection with loneliness and has created “internet addicts”, people who waste inordinate amounts of time online each day.
Nothing like the internet has ever been seen before. Free and immense, it only grows, and files travel through it like water particles, spreading fast and unable to be deleted. Our grandchildren will most likely think Facebook old school compared to whatever new electronic socializing device they use. In this quickly expanding world of cyberspace, the current online network can only be the tip of what’s to come, or rather what the internet and other modern devices will transform into. Creating novel issues with personal privacy, identity, and copyrighted materials, the internet directly affects the physical and mental behavior of the quarter of the world with access to it, and has an iron grip on the social lives of many. As a member of the internet generation and the first to grow up with the web I ask, is it necessary?
Alexi Block Gorman ’12
With narratives, tests, papers, and early decision applications all converging around the same time, we often wonder how our students find time to do everything. However, the question we should be asking is how our teachers can manage all these onerous tasks, and more. With high expectations for both BHSEC students and teachers, we ought to wonder how writing us excellent recommendations affects our teachers and their workloads. During the frenzied season of Early Decision and Early Action, how much do teachers allow their recommendation writing to compromise their other duties at school? How much should they allow it to? Now, with more students than ever, do teachers need to start refusing students’ recommendations?
In a poll of fifteen teachers, ten said that writing recommendations can make it harder to focus on the needs of other students or on their classes. Although, many teachers did clarify that this a “transient phenomenon.” In the same poll, ten of the teachers also said writing recommendations can make it harder for them to grade and return student work in a timely manner. Admittedly, this year is harder than most because this year’s senior class is larger than its predecessors, and faculty cuts have been worse this year than almost ever before, narrowing student’s resources for this requirement. Faculty cuts can make it harder for students to find teachers with whom they have developed a close relationship, a responsibility, which new members of the faculty cannot undertake.
Exactly how much of our teachers’ time does this consume, though? In a fifteen-teacher poll, the average amount of time spent on a single recommendation, as estimated only by these teachers, is one hour and forty minutes. Altogether, these teachers estimated that they spend approximately thirty hours and twenty minutes total for all the recommendations they must write within one school year. This includes taking the time to do background research interviews, reviews and some intensive writing. If a teacher can only donate so much time to each student and classes keep getting bigger and bigger, what will it mean for our classes’ recommendation letters?
For some teachers this issue may cause them to wonder: to refuse or not to refuse— that is the question. When asked in the poll how well they generally knew the students who asked them for recommendations, there were many answers, but the most popular one was “very well.” However, not all follow a strict code, and some teachers may be more willing and more lenient than others. Though Dr. Rosenbaum expressed the importance of being able to write about the student who asks for a recommendation, he also admitted that he has “never rejected” anyone. He agreed that there are “somee students you don’t know very well.” This call hasn’t been too challenging for teachers to make, though. Most say that if they feel they are unable to properly recommend they will strongly suggest a student to look elsewhere. Certainly as Dr. Birch asserts, it is “unethical to agree to write a recommendation if it is not to help them.” Indeed, this is a judgment call that our teachers have, on the whole, found themselves able to make.
Less faculty, more students, high expectations for both, how should we be handling it? Some will admit that recommendations are just a necessary evil, while others argue there is no higher honor than writing students’ recommendations, and that for the most part it can be a true pleasure. Can we continue this tenuous balance like we always have, students and teachers alike?
DR. LERNER: OUR NEW PRINCIPAL
George Winn ’12
For the first time in its nine-year history, BHSEC changed principals this fall with the retirement of the original principal, Mr. Raymond Peterson, and the promotion of Dr. Michael A. Lerner. Dr. Lerner was the former Dean of Studies, a post he had held for the last five years. In a recent interview, he stated that he envisions his new position as an opportunity to tackle new issues and interact with students.
A native of Los Angeles, Dr. Lerner earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and doctorate from New York University. His special interest is in History, particularly that of New York City, American reform movements, American/Pacific relations, and the twentieth century.
In addition to his career as an academic, Dr. Lerner is also a successful author. In his 2007 book entitled “Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City,” he chronicled the effect that the nineteenth amendment to the constitution (which generally barred the sale and distribution of liquor) had on the life and politics of the city. Ratified in 1920, the amendment split the country into two factions, the “wets” (those who opposed the amendment) and the “drys” (those who favored it). The amendment was later repealed in 1933. According to the book, during the thirteen years that Prohibition reigned, New York City was decidedly “wet.” When New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt was elected President in 1932, his administration led the effort to repeal.
As the BHSEC Dean Of Studies, Dr. Lerner led the college program and tracked the academic progress of students to make sure that they were in good academic standing. He also taught history courses such as The Americas to ninth graders. Currently, he teaches a seminar class to Y2s, which he says is similar to Y1 seminar, “only better!”
As principal, Dr. Lerner is now the face of the school to the outside world. The job requires him to play many important roles, including supervisor, diplomat, counselor, administrator, and fund-raiser. In addition to being the school’s primary liaison with administrators at the New York City Board Of Education, he is also the school’s main contact with Bard College. Dr. Lerner also supervises the faculty and staff, monitors all student activities, interacts with parents, and performs many other duties to ensure that BHSEC maintains a healthy learning environment and its excellent reputation.
Asked about BHSEC’s uniqueness, Dr. Lerner proudly mentioned the early college model,which he was instrumental in implementing and improving over the years. He also spoke proudly of the school’s individuality, dedication of the faculty, and enthusiasm of the students to learn.
Dr. Lerner is always looking to find opportunities in issues presented to him. The ability to leap on those opportunities as well as successfully take advantage of them is what will make BHSEC the best that it can be. He attempts to pass this onto students as well as instill this philosophy in the visitors who venture through BHSEC’s halls.
Dr. Lerner has some big shoes to fill, but I, as well as countless others at BHSEC, have immense faith he can maintain BHSEC’s standing as one of the best high schools in New York City. Kudos to you, Dr. Lerner, and best wishes as you continue to lead BHSEC.