THE BARDVARK INDEX
Hayley Barnett ’13
A collection of facts and statistics in much the same vein as Harper’s Magazine that pertains to BHSEC and its students.
Percentage of students most BHSEC students believe play school sports: 23.8%
Actual percentage of students that play school sports: 20%
Average amount of sleep a BHSEC student gets per night: 6.45 hours.
Worst Boy’s bathroom by poll in the school (floor-wise): 2nd floor.
Worst Girl’s bathroom by poll in the school (floor-wise): 2nd floor.
Number of pieces the Litmag published in their “troubadour” last year: 77 pieces, 17 of them photographs.
Percentage of students that like the school lunch: 45%
Percentage of students that have never had or do not often have school lunch: 25%
Average amount of time a BHSEC student spends on homework per year: 535.15 hours, or 22.3 days.
Amount of homework (in hours) one student adamantly claims they have: ∞
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH GLEE?
Ella Fornari ’12
Fox’s hit show Glee, tells the story of a high school Glee club and the daily problems of the characters in it. The characters in the show are not necessarily the most relatable, but are energetic and can definitely sing. Each episode features new musical performances from the cast, which is only one reason the show’s audience is raving. Ever since the show won an Emmy last year, Glee has become all the rage with audiences of every age group. During this time, the show has gained a cult following, which is appropriately entitled: Gleeks. What is it though that makes Glee get so much positive buzz, and such a dedicated fan base?
Having never watched the show before, I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about for myself. After talking to some fans to see which episodes I should watch I realized that the show was so enticing because of the talent and the plots. After watching a few episodes I realized that it was not only the music, but also interesting writing and characters that drew people to the show. Although Glee has an overall great appeal, there were a few things that I couldn’t help but be bothered by. Perhaps my biggest problem with the show was that certain scenes seemed to be written just to include songs, and although the music itself is extremely entertaining I couldn’t help but wonder if the integrity of the show’s writing was sacrificed to include more songs. When asking “Gleeks” about this though none of them really minded because the best parts in every episode for them are the songs. Fans have noticed however, that as the show has gained popularity more songs have been included into each episode. Year 1 student Willa Collins suggested that this was intentional and that “When the producers realized the lucrative nature of the hit iTunes tracks of each episode’s songs, the number of songs per episode increased. Suddenly the hour was an unsettling conglomeration of redone pop music and video montages”.
Most would believe that acapella music is out dated (no offense carolers), but Glee takes this style to the next level. The music has a monopoly on sites like iTunes because it is so unlike anything else out today. The cast takes pop songs and transforms them into vocal performances. BHSEC student and “Gleek” Amy Zhang claims that “the harmony in their voices is so bright and alive that their songs are a lot better than the original versions”. This is of course debatable, but by having music and episodes to sell to their audience it is no wonder Glee’s popularity has been on the rise.
BHSEC’s own Dr. Rosenberg tells The Bardvark he has been a fan of the show since the beginning. His favorite episodes include Madonna and Rocky Horror, and his favorite character is Rachel. He likes the show because it’s funny, and has great writing and music.
THE DECISION: SAT VS. ACT
Isabelle St. Clair ’13
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Scribble. Sneeze. Scribble. Tick. Tock. This is the beat of both the SAT and the ACT, sounds that many dread to hear. However, it is important to be very prepared for these upcoming tests.
The SAT and ACT are college entrance exams that help colleges evaluate their applicants. These tests give colleges information about how well a student knows certain material and assist colleges in determining if the student is ready for the demanding academics at the school. So, what is the difference between the two?
Let’s start with the SAT, also known as the Scholastic Assessment Test. This standardized test is owned, published, and developed by College Board, a not-for-profit organization. A student who has taken the SAT will receive a score between 600 and 2400. This score is the combination of test results from three 800-point sections, which are math, critical reading, and writing. For every right answer the student gets a point, but there is a penalty of one fourth of a point for every wrong answer. In total, the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long and is offered seven times a year. The SAT is more of an aptitude test – it tests a student’s natural ability to solve mathematical and analytical problems. It is a
vocabulary-based test that is aimed at general reasoning and problem solving skills although for many students the SAT seems like it’s out to trick them. If the SAT seems unappealing, how about the ACT?
The ACT or American College Testing is produced by a separate organization, ACT Inc. It is a four-part test that concentrates on English, math, reading, and science, with an optional writing portion. The student can score between 1 and 36 and, unlike the SAT, there is no penalty for wrong answers. The ACT is more of an achievement test that tends to test grammar, punctuation, and syntax, and is more curriculum based. The ACT is 2 hours and 55 minutes with an extra 30 minutes for the optional writing part. Given six times a year instead of seven, the ACT has a different form, but is just as acceptable to most colleges as the SAT. The only true difference is the cost to take the test. The ACT is cheaper to take than the SAT. Also some colleges prefer the SAT over the ACT and vice versa. Therefore, the student should look into the colleges in which he or she is interested to be sure to take the college’s preferred test. Deciding the suitable test, however, is not difficult if the student goes about it the right way.
If a student is choosing between the ACT and the SAT, no one thing can tell him or her which one to take. It is entirely up to the type of student that person is and the format of the test the student may find to their liking. There is no evidence that proves one of the two tests is easier than the other, so the student should decide based on how well he or she does on the practice exams. Students take a practice test called the PSAT for the SAT and the PLAN for the ACT. If the student tends to like one better than the other and does well on one he or she should choose that one to take. However, it is ultimately up to the student to decide.
THE NEW MATH CLUB – CREDIT STYLE
Jack Jenkins ’12
Math colloquium is a one-credit class offered by the BHSEC math faculty that meets once a week, during Dean’s Hours. The premise is that each student prepares one lecture on a topic that he/she is interested in and also attends the other lectures given by classmates for the course of the semester. Dr. Rosenberg was inspired by what Professor Salwen of Reis University developed – a relaxed environment for learning and circulating ideas about math. The seminar style of the program at Reis was more of what BHSEC had in its Math Club in bygone years, but now BHSEC math enthusiasts have the opportunity to indulge…with their one-credit reward.
Dr. Rosenberg sees a lot of value in what the curriculum of the class has to offer. “It’s the ability to go out and read on your own about math, see a lot of ideas, and the ability to present to someone else, and a chance to see what others have to say.” In a way it embraces the vibe of our school, in that we are high school students who are so intrigued with our education that we feel we must go forth and learn on our own. The class is valuable to the student who has an idea that he/she will go into a career in mathematics, although learning how to research and present material properly would be vital to any career.
If presenting for an entire period appears daunting, then there is the option of taking the class without credit, which would make the student exempt from giving a lecture. Anyone can come in on the fly and sit in on the lectures, and it should be said that a poor math grade or being in less advanced math classes does not disqualify a student from taking the class, even for the credit.
This is the second year that the course has been running in BHSEC, and due to the fact that the class last year was primarily Year 2s, there aren’t as many students taking the class as there might have been. This year there were just as many students as there are weeks in the semester, which works out well, but hopefully there will be enough incoming Year 1s to replace all the outgoing Year 2s next year.
Dr. Rosenberg says that the course can head in one of two directions. It is possible that, since he suspects that students take the class just for the credit, only one credit will be given, no matter how many semesters a student participates and gives lectures. The other option is that a student receives one credit every semester, but it does not count toward his/her math credits. Since the program is a new one, Dr. Rosenberg says he doesn’t know whether Math Colloquium will be available next semester, since it all depends on his and Dr. Youngren’s schedule, and also the interest of students.
WHO’S ON THE ROAD?
Madeline Webber ’13
I just moved to New York City three months ago, at the start of this semester from Long Island and upon moving to the City I was startled by the lack teenage and adult drivers. I noticed that there is an abundance of other transportation methods– subways, buses, taxis even walking. These ways facilitate travel throughout New York City. For practically my whole life I’ve lived in a rural area out east, where cars are the only way to get around. The limit of transportation leads to the elimination of freedom or independence in ones lifestyle. Because of the lack of availability of mass or public transportation, adolescents under the age of 18 are extremely dependent on their parents or older siblings to get from place to place. On the island there are no subways, very few taxis and an infrequent bus, which seldom runs.
To qualify for a license in New York State you must be 18 years of age or older. You must pass a written test, a road test and complete 50 hours of practice driving. For the latter requirement you must have a permit, which enables you to drive– only when assisted by somebody 21 years or older, who has a valid license. Out of the 50 hours of practice driving, they suggest that 10 of those hours should be driven in heavy traffic and 15 hours should be driven at night. To get the required permit, which allows you to practice driving, you must be 16 or older. Once you are 16 you can take driver’s education and after completing that you can move on to the written and road tests.
After moving the city, I realized how many other ways there are to get around without a car. In fact, 3,286,899 people have licenses, out of the 8,391,881 people who inhabit New York City. That means that more than half of the NYC population does not have their license. Just because 3,286,899 people do have their license, does not mean that they necessarily drive, or even own a car. Having one’s license just allows that person to have the option of driving.
In the country, the statistics of inhabitants with licenses was completely the opposite of the city stats. Not including the population of New York City, there are 11,149,572 people in New York State and out of those people there are 7,997,647 with licenses. These statistics show that more than half of the people outside of the City, but still in New York State, have a license. Based on personal knowledge and experience, most of those 7,997,647 people do in fact drive due to necessity and habituation.
According to these figures, more people drive, or at least have their license, in the more rural areas of New York State, rather than in the NYC. Personally I believe that the numerous transportation systems in the city are extremely useful and provide multiple options for the public to get around. The reliance on cars is a terrible dependency, especially for those younger than 18, who then need their parents’ aid to get from place to place. Because country kids have to wait on their parents to get around, they are stripped of their autonomy, which is so crucial at the age where all kids want to do, is to be different from their parents.
MANAGING THE BHSEC PRESSURE
Shakib Uddin ’13
Every high school encumbers students with great loads of stress and numerous assignments. However, not every student is able to cope with that pressure adequately. After consulting with a number of students, it became clear that time management was the most onerous of these pressures. Balancing the commitments to each academic course or extracurricular activity proves to be a class in and of itself. The amount of focus one places on a certain subject depends on certain conditions and values that we place in our work. These circumstances include the significance of an assignment, one’s interest in an assignment or course, when the assignment is due and consistency of homework and effort. Determining a hierarchy of priorities can help give a good idea of how you as a BHSEC student balance the time and effort you place into your academic and extracurricular duties.
The first condition is how significant one finds the assignment¬¬. It helps to have one or two objectives that you really want to accomplish and focus on the most during the day. The significance of an assignment is mostly based on its length and how it’s weighted in your final grade. It’s often necessary to question the consequences of neglecting a less important assignment until you have completed a more significant project. For example, the average student would find writing an essay more significant than completing a small textbook reading. This is because an essay is probably lengthier and more significant to one’s grades than any textbook reading.
The second condition is how interested or committed a student is to a course. Interest in class cannot be forced; therefore, the extent of interest is a key factor in how much time and effort one puts in an assignment. Our behavior and interest level in a course shapes how much commitment we show to that class.
It is also essential to consider the due date for the assignment and the amount of time one has to complete it. If an assignment is due first thing in the morning, it should be the first thing a student does. If it’s a small assignment and you have more important tasks, it can possibly be saved for last. Some BHSEC students have the ability to wake up early in the morning and finish the assignment. Although an individual who completes the homework the night before is labeled a slacker, one must acknowledge how well they know themselves and when they do work best.
One aspect that eases the pressure of schoolwork is the consistency of the work assigned. It relieves students when they understand the constant study pattern of a course. The consistency of the assignments given by a teacher affects the effort and time put in by the student. It can be aggravating when there is a sense of an unbalanced fluctuation in the difficulty, time and length in a range of assignments.
In my years as a BHSEC student, I noticed that time can be your worst enemy. Acknowledging the fact that I am only sophomore, I am fully aware that the students of Bard’s early college program face much more stress and pressure than we 9th and 10th graders do. After all, they undergo a difficult transition going from high school to college students.
Yet BHSEC is not only about committing to your academic duties. It’s also about committing to your social, leadership and extracurricular duties. It’s greatly important to place a lot of commitment to a club, sports team or organization. The truth behind commitment in BHSEC is that there will be a time in your life as a student when you have to make wise decisions and sacrifices. There will always be a moment where you will be overloaded with work and it seems like there is no way out but managing one’s pressure means seeing what you can and cannot afford to do. When it comes to sports teams or club events, the decisions you make should depend on whether you can afford to take part. Some students in BHSEC believe that you should choose your academic duties over a season game or an event, and others believe just the opposite, so it’s really up to you and what your ultimate concern is. There is a saying that goes, “Commitment during the face of conflict produces character. Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.” The decisions we make say a lot about who we are, so it’s best that we make choices that we feel confident in.
TEACHER FEATURE: DR. AVITZUR
Lauren Crawford ’12
The latest member of BHSEC’s math department, Dr. Arnon Avitzur, seems to fit in perfectly with the BHSEC way of life. As a statistics teacher, he enjoys his work because he sees statistics “as providing tools for thinking in real life”. Dr. Avitzur’s desire to teach isn’t derived merely from his love for mathematics, but out of his genuine want to be a part of other people’s developmental processes, as is clear throughout his career.
After attaining degrees in computer science and statistics in college in his native Israel, Dr. Avitzur came to America in 2007 with his job at Microsoft. He is currently a full-time PhD student at New York University where he studies mathematics education, specializing in high school mathematics. He also is a teaching assistant there, where he instructs teachers how to teach mathematics.
This is Dr. Avitzur’s first time teaching at a high school, and he already has plans for the future. He is interested in starting a critical thinking elective here at BHSEC, where he would apply the principles of mathematics to everyday problems, such as how to create the best date ever or how to manage one’s life.
On a more personal level, Dr. Avitzur came to New York, after residing in Seattle, Washington, to be with his family and friends. He quoted the film Into the Wild to emphasize how much he values these two groups, saying “happiness is only real when shared”. Such a statement demonstrates his love for films; Dead Poet’s Society being his favorite. He also enjoys reading, although mostly nonfiction and history works. Even more in tune with BHSEC’s general attitude, Dr. Avitzur used to be a freestyle Frisbee champion in Israel.
Overall, Dr. Avitzur likes life in America because there are less social boundaries- meaning that “the road not taken is easier to take for an immigrant”, yet he does not quite feel a sense of belonging despite having a support system here. Hopefully, BHSEC will help solve this issue, for already Dr. Avitzur’s interests seem very similar to the ones the BHSEC community values the most.
THE DIGITAL WORLD: TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT AND LINGUAL REGRESSION AKA TDWTAALR
Daniel Moon ’13
Teenagers of the 21st century live in a new world—the digital world. Unlike our parents and their generation, who are familiar with books and interfacial conversations, we prefer text messaging, video games, television, and going on the Internet. These technological inventions act as agents for communication and entertainment, but with disadvantageous effects. Although these digital gadgets are amusing and interesting, they often interfere with academic studies; students would rather go on the computer and play video games than read a book.
The New York Times recently published an article entitled, “Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction.” The journalist describes a student in Redwood City, California who only completed forty-three pages of his assigned summer reading and spent the two months on his computer, socializing on popular websites like Facebook and Youtube. He would rather watch a six-minute video about his book than actually read the assignment. This had a devastating impact on his English grade. Digital indulgences may lead to the oversimplification of the complex thought process that occurs when reading a book. This most likely is not unique to Redwood City, but is a shared experience all over the country. Students from all over the United States squander too much time on the computer and other social gadgets, which leaves little time for analytical studies of difficult texts so that the only resort becomes sparksnotes.com.
How can this digital age’s academic problems be dealt with? Educators are not sure how to cope with a new, digital culture and the different wiring of modern students. Some integrate artificial intelligence and innovations into their schools with computers and Smart Boards. Internet websites such as turnitin.com encourage students to hand in their original work online.
Excessive text-messaging has also posed a threat to academic language. For some high school students, more than a hundred text messages a day is normal, whereas a hundred page book reading assignment would be atypical and considered difficult.
Tiara Stephen, a BHSEC student and frequent text-messager said she would rather text-message than call someone if she has little or nothing to say.
Colloquial language is reduced to a simple “gtg” (Got to go) or “Ttyl” (Talk to you later) in text-messages. She asserts that text-messages can sometimes transmit thought more succinctly than talking but admits that this form of communication makes her confuse “there”, “their”, and “they’re.”
Numerous English professors maintain that this unfamiliar and somewhat cryptic text-messaging language will deteriorate students’ English vocabulary, grammar, and the formation of organized thoughts. The Australian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” Wittgenstein knew the powerful knowledge of language because language expresses thoughts and emotions. The world of one is bound by the words that one can express about one’s state of being and environment. Ironically, the innovating technology that transmits thoughts through short letter phrases may cause a regression of language and human thought. What will happen if proper colloquy and the complex concepts linked with it is replaced by an even briefer language than Orwellian Newspeak? For many students of digital mania, the answer will be a simple “Idk.”
Interesting reading http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp
NORTH OF NEW AMSTERDAM
Nika Sabasteanski ’12
Harper and I straddle the brook that runs parallel to Hicks Road and perpendicularly to Blue Bird Hill. The water is freezing as we dip our faces into the miniature cataract and it numbs my lips. With my head between my legs I can see my nine-year-old cousin with his body bent over the water. A farm dog sounds in the distance, and the bark gets louder each second. He turns to me and we begin to run up the road towards our grandparent’s cabin. He grabs my hand as we try to beat the seemingly never-ending horizon of wheat to our left, but we can’t seem to run fast enough. The bark fades when our feet hit the gravel and I attempt to slow down but he pulls me faster into a thicket of blackberries. The thorns rip our jeans and sweaters but we keep running towards the pine trees. My grandparents began planting the pines decades ago, adding to the existing grove and now they are so plentiful, they seem like a strategic wall as we break through them and tumble onto the lawn, safe from the dog. Moss cushions our backs from the thyme that grows instead of grass around the cabin. I pluck a few twigs and hand one to Harper who chews on the leaves and tries the stem but spits it out when he discovers how unpleasant it tastes.
“Race you to the clearing,” he yells. We run down the hill to the shore of the forest where both time and people have cleared a path to a dell of ferns and apple trees. At the beginning of the trail, my pine tree grows taller than the others. When we were born, my grandparents planted a pine tree for each of us, to grow with us. My tree was smaller than me for a long time but now, three of me stacked vertically wouldn’t reach its highest branch. My pine seems to watch over his when we were away from the mountain. When I was small, my mother and I built a stone oven in the clearing for my dolls. I would cook them flowers and sour apples, sitting underneath a canopy of young saplings. We made a bed for the same dolls from twigs and twine and they slept next to me in the loft of the cabin, near the top of the wood-burning stove. Harper races to climb a tree in the distance and I follow behind him, afraid that I will lose him in the maze of weeds and evergreens. The sun begins to set and I remind him that it’s the gloaming. When I was a little girl, I would watch for fairies at dusk and build them little tables with acorn bowls and pebble chairs. Not even the hummingbirds come out at twilight to drink from my grandmother’s feeder, so I suppose fairies were a long shot at that time of night, but I looked for them anyway.
Harper fetches his pellet gun from the porch and we climb over the stonewall, like the one from Leo Lionni’s book about Frederick the mouse. We can barely make out ten trees ahead of us but nonetheless he holds the gun to his cheek and shoots at a tin can hanging from a branch. He hands the gun to me and moves my fingers so that they hold the trigger correctly. Now he counts down and yells shoot! It seems that I missed the can by a good few inches but he refuses to recognize my failure. “You hit it,” he yells running over the brambles to the can to find the hole my bullet had made. He brings it back as proof of my marksmanship. “See,” he says with the pride of a teacher and the enthusiasm of a nine-year-old boy, “I told you, you hit it.” It seems to be more of triumph for him, but I thank him for teaching me and we retreat to the porch swing until dinner is ready.
When Harper was in his archery phase we would climb to the top of the apple tree that stands alone in the field, as if it were on a savannah. He would play Robin Hood and I would be Maid Marion. He would draw the string and release the arrow into a sack of peat moss on the ground. For you see, children are masters of illusion and artists of mastery. When Robin Hood died from his repertoire, he became a pirate and we paddled underneath fallen arms of pine trees on the lake, a soldier who shot pellets into the sky or a knight in shining armor who slashed the grass with his sword swiping the wings off a sweat bee. I found it harder and harder to have a good time when I traveled upstate as I grew older. Swimming in the lake became less enjoyable as mermaids became rarer, climbing the apple tree became less of a daring adventure as I grew taller, and I no longer imagined wood nymphs dancing around mushrooms after I had fallen asleep. In “Finding Neverland” J.M Barrie places orphans between the adults in the audience of “Peter Pan.” When Peter tells the audience to clap their hands if they believe in fairies, the children clap and clap, wearing their arms out to keep Tink alive. Even the oldest and stodgiest of the grown ups, begins to clap his hands, and soon the entire audience, young and old, is clapping and laughing together. So like J.M Barrie, I place a young child beside me when I sit in the audience of grandeur and childhood. For who better to remind me of my youth than a small boy? When I simply can’t find joy in tumbling down the lawn, he does it first and I follow, laughing until I can’t breathe, remembering how to be little when I am stuck in the limbo of immature maturity.
BHSEC GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALL: RETURN TO DOMINANCE
George Winn ’12
BHSEC athletics continued to flourish in the Public School’s Athletic League this year with the Girls’ volleyball team, as they streaked through regular season play to a 9-3 record, earning their second playoff berth in the last three seasons. With leadership by coach Irma Munoz as well as support from BHSEC students, the team played a hard 12 games this season, coming to an end in a thriller match against Staten Island’s New Dorp High School in the first round of the playoffs.
Over the course of the season, the BHSEC Girls’ Volleyball team established themselves as one of the premier teams in Manhattan’s A4 Division, shutting out their opponents in each of their nine wins. Although they lost both matchups against undefeated Stuyvesant High School, the girls’ volleyball team was the only team in the division to win a set (26-24) against Stuy. This was thanks to the immense talent that developed over the course of the season. Last season, the girls finished with an even record of 6-6. This year, Coach Munoz looked to expand on last season’s success. Many of the players on this year’s squad came into pre-season practices with little or no experience in the sport. With the leadership of Coach Munoz as well as the guidance of seniors Karen Cantor, Avital Mandil, Veronica Rodriguez, Katherine Gibbel, and Mariah Widman, the girls established themselves as one of the best teams in the division, and their record and game results testify to this.
As one of the best squads in the city, they even broke into the leader boards in individual stats for the season. Freshman Alessandra Arguelles placed #5 on the leader board in aces with 58, #12 on the leader board in service points with 99, and #29 on the leader board in digs with 62. Junior Galina Majstorovic finished #20 on the leader board in kills with 75. Sophomore Kinga Kaziolka finished #27 on the leader board in assists with 99. Finally, Senior Karen Cantor placed #24 in the city in digs with 66.
Although I was only able to attend the final game of the season, I can say that I’m glad I did. The final result was not what BHSEC students and team members hoped for, but it was still one of the most thrilling matches of the season. BHSEC’s Girls’ Volleyball team has shown hard work throughout the season, and showed the rest of the PSAL that BHSEC Girls’ Volleyball is one of the best. Congratulations to this year’s seniors Karen Cantor, Avital Mandil, Mariah Widman, Katherine Gibbel, and Veronica Rodriguez on a successful final season of play and an amazing victory lap.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: THE BEATLES!”
Maverick Cummings ’13
The time has come to finally rejoice because the Beatles are on iTunes. However, there are a few things you should consider before you click the download button for some of those legendary songs.
Let’s examine further shall we? For starters, iTunes released only thirteen of their albums with a Box Set and three compilation albums which would be wonderful except that almost none of their singles are available to purchase and iTunes is missing hits like “Hey Jude”, “Get Back” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
Then there is the issue of iTunes noticeably ripping us off. Each regular album excluding the White Album costs $12.99 and the average price of a regular re-mastered CD at Barnes and Noble is around $12.99. The problem I have with the pricing for an iTunes album is that you are paying the same amount for both a CD and an MP3, but the MP3 version has a lower fidelity or sound quality. However, all of the iTunes albums include a short documentary, which would be satisfactory except that it is about five minutes long and can be only be viewed if you buy the entire album. The compilation albums are $19.99 and the Box Set is $149.00 and from a Beatle fan perspective, the best deal here is probably the Box Set because you are getting every Beatles album for around $26 less if you were to buy them separately.
But I suggest that you save your money and invest in their CDs, which are roughly the same prices as the iTunes albums. In addition to this, re-mastered albums usually include bonus tracks or artwork with liner notes about the album and the band. Although iTunes is convenient, we are forgetting the tradition of “the hunt” when finding that one coveted CD in the store and physically holding it while sampling the songs with a beat up over-sized pair of head phones in the middle of a bustling store. When you become a music collector or just a lover of music you appreciate how simplistic CDs or even LP’s are, and yet there is that simple satisfaction of adding individually to your collection. When listening to The Beatles music, we immerse ourselves through the journey of their groundbreaking rock tunes that spanned a decade. Now when thinking about CDs, they have higher quality sound because when they are transferred on iTunes, the music is compressed and therefore the fidelity is lower and you miss out on very subtle but significant sound bytes.
So is it still okay to rejoice that The Beatles are on iTunes? It’s quite acceptable because we are in experiencing a new era of The Beatles in which they can be fully worshipped by 21st century music fans all over the world by having their music accessible to everyone on iTunes. Although time travel has not been invented yet, we can all gather around singing “Please Please Me” trying to imagine the suspense in the air when the Beatles walked on to the stage of the Washington Coliseum.
BHSEC QUEENS: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
Clara Olshansky ’14
On Thomson Avenue in Long Island City, there is another BHSEC, known as BHSEC II or BHSEC Queens. Its goal is much the same as BHSEC Manhattan’s—to challenge students by allowing them to complete two years of college after tenth grade. Like BHSEC Manhattan, it seeks to develop students’ thinking processes and writing skills. However, it is by no means the same school.
BHSEC Manhattan has a strong focus on the humanities. It is not uncommon to hear students complaining in the halls about their upcoming Faulkner paper, or wracking their brains for a thesis on the rise of domesticity in 19th century England. BHSEC Queens, however, challenges students more in the math and science departments.
Anna Arnade, a freshman at BHSEC II complained that, “[Science is] very hard, everyone says the same. We either get no homework or tons of homework… There doesn’t seem to be a main focus [of the school], but the Science/Math department does seem to be slightly harder and more emphasized. It is good for History/English though as well.” This emphasis on math and science is not surprising, as BHSEC II’s principle, Valeri Thomson, has a background in Sciences, while Principle Lerner’s background is in Urban History. Likewise, Ray Peterson, BHSEC Manhattan’s principal until this year, had a background in writing and American studies, which also supports a focus on humanities.
Another major difference between the schools is the physical facilities. Arnade commented that BHSEC Queens, “is shiny and new and pretty friendly feeling. Not too intimidating, it’s small in a good way.” Similarly, BHSEC Manhattan has a small, friendly atmosphere. However, with red brick, small, old bathrooms, narrow hallways, large window arches, and a long history of hosting public school students, one would be hard-pressed to say that it felt “shiny and new.” Rather, BHSEC Manhattan has a quaint, old world charm, standing alone on East Houston between civilization and the river. BHSEC II is part of a larger, white building, with a glass awning and tiled floors, giving it a very different feeling, than the turn of the century architecture that our school boasts.
Like BHSEC Manhattan, the student body at BHSEC Queens is highly tolerant, and there is almost no bullying. Activities are friendly to all, and the school is a close community. The two BHSECs do put emphasis on different subject matters, and are physically very different, but both have a strong, supportive atmosphere and an open and accepting student body, and both share the definitive BHSEC qualities that have been maintained in our recent transition.
ON DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
Juliet Glazer ’12
Looking back over my two years and a few months at BHSEC, I can definitely say I’m worlds away from who I was as a freshman. I’m interested in different subjects. I read different books, and when I read them, I read differently. I write differently. I talk differently. I dress differently. I listen to different music, and fill my free time in different ways. Most upperclassmen have probably experienced at least a few similar changes. Are these changes just a product of growing up, or has BHSEC changed us? These thoughts were on my mind when I was assigned to write a piece about drugs and alcohol for the Bardvark. How and for what reasons have our attitudes towards drugs and alcohol changed since coming to BHSEC?
I started to think about BHSEC’s culture and values. BHSEC promotes intellectualism, non-conformism, and creativity – values that some would term, either with a smile or a smirk, hipster values. Along with intellectualism, though, most would say hipster culture includes drugs and cigarettes.
It would seem, at least according to this stereotype, that BHSEC students might use drugs more than at other comparable high schools such as at Stuyvesant or Lab. So I wanted to see how much BHSEC’s – I’ll just say it – hipster culture –influences students’ attitudes towards drugs and alcohol.
I decided to conduct a survey, comparing freshmen opinions and experiences with Year 1s’, to quantitatively observe how students’ attitudes towards marijuana and alcohol use have changed since coming to BHSEC. The survey doesn’t directly show cause, but it does show change over time.
I surveyed about 60% of the freshman class, and about 40% of the Year 1 class and my results showed a lot of change over time. 77% of Year 1s had drunk alcohol, and 56% recalled having drunk alcohol at some point during freshman year. However, only 21% of freshman professed to have drunk alcohol three months into their first year at BHSEC.
Either one group is not being entirely truthful, or there is a drastic change that happens at some point during freshman year. One freshman, who wished to remain anonymous, told me “I haven’t seen a lot of people drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, but I know that there are a lot more [freshmen] who’ve done it outside of school.” Regardless of the accuracy of the survey, it makes sense that there would be some change in alcohol use from the beginning of freshman year to the end. Changing schools means meeting all kinds of new people and trying all sorts of new things, and for the most part, there’s nothing wrong with this.
My survey showed a similar increase in marijuana use from freshmen to Year 1s. 16% of freshmen said they had smoked marijuana, while 54% of juniors had. Despite the change in marijuana and alcohol use from 9th grade to Year 1, the survey doesn’t show that BHSEC is a druggy school – in fact, I’d argue that it shows the opposite.
Alcohol is a big part of American culture, and it permeates every aspect of the media, from story lines and songs to advertisements. According to almost every high school movie, it’s a relatively normal part of high school life. One Year 2, who wished to remain anonymous, told me that “teenagers are teenagers, and they are going to do teenage things wherever they go.” For the most part, I think this attitude explains drug and alcohol use at BHSEC.
This doesn’t mean that alcohol can’t become a problem. “If kids feel like they need to get drunk to get through the school day, what’s going on?” Ms. Azeglio, the current freshman and Year 1 guidance counselor, questioned. “Is that a cry for help?”
In my survey, I included a question about alcohol use on school grounds. Only 7% of Year 1s said they had ever drunk on school grounds, and 65% said they would never consider it. I think this shows that, for the most part, students at BHSEC are responsible about drinking alcohol. Most have drunk outside of school, but aside from the occasional isolated incident, it would be hard to say from the survey that students have alcohol problems, or that alcohol use interferes with academics.
Marijuana use on school grounds is slightly more prevalent, according to the survey. 22% of Year 1s said they had smoked marijuana on school grounds. However, it’s clearly still the exception, and not the rule.
BHSEC follows the Department of Education policies on drugs and alcohol. According to the student planner, BHSEC can suspend students, put them on academic probation, or even expel them for possession, distribution, or use of drugs or alcohol on the school grounds. Technically, the school grounds only include the block directly on the perimeter of the building, and not the field across the street. However, according to Ms. Azeglio, the school can still notify the police about anything that happens on the field. Most students who said they had smoked marijuana in school probably did so on the field. However, the field is close enough to our school that it hardly matters if it is technically not on school grounds.
Ms. Azeglio summed up BHSEC’s attitude towards substance abuse, saying, “We don’t turn a blind eye, but we’re not a jail.” Fortunately, unlike some schools, BHSEC doesn’t need to be a jail. “I’ve worked in schools where they had to do scanning and random searches, because [drug use] was so rampant,” Ms. Azeglio said. BHSEC is worlds away from that.
BHSEC has a unique set of values, and I think one of these values is trust. If BHSEC wants to give us a college experience, it has to treat us like college students, and, in many ways, it does. BHSEC gives us far more responsibility and freedom than other schools. Free periods are unsupervised. In Year 1 and Year 2, we can organize our own schedules. No one is forced to go to tutoring. Our education is our own responsibility, and most of us can handle it, even in regards to knowing when not to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana.
If BHSEC does have a “druggy” reputation, it’s grounded in a stereotype and a skewed view. That a few students smoke marijuana on school grounds doesn’t mean that most of the BHSEC population does. A population cannot and should not be defined by the actions of only a few people.
GROWING UP POTTER
Hannah Frishberg ’13
Dreamed up by J.K. Rowling on a delayed train in 1990, the original draft of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was written on napkins and rejected by its first several publishers. Now a worldwide phenomenon, the Harry Potter series has been translated into 67 languages (including Ancient Greek and Latin), made Rowling richer than the Queen of England (and the only billionaire author thus far), earned the word Muggle a place in the Oxford English Dictionary, and created an entirely new genre of music called Wizard Rock. The final four installments have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, and so far every film adaption has been placed in the top 30 highest grossing films of all time, with a cumulative worldwide gross of well over $5 billion. The series has attracted countless devoted fans universally of all ages, briefly transforming middle-aged and elderly readers into children, as well as maturing alongside its younger audience. The Boy Who Lived has defined a generation, drawing enthusiasts away from technology and engulfing them in a world of magic
The bar for the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was set exceptionally high. Presented in two parts, the first installment chronicles Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s retreat from society as Voldemort gains control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts and the only hope to regain order lies in their quest to destroy Horcruxes (bits of Voldemort’s soul) and unravel the secrets of the Deathly Hallows. Moderately paced and strewn with scenic landscapes as the trio searches for Horcruxes, the film’s excellent cinematography keeps the mainly dialogue filled 146 minutes of movie enthralling, despite the characters’ steadily worsening demeanors. Perhaps the most mature of the adaptions yet, director David Yate’s first half of the epic finale should please die-hard fans, and the quicker of non-readers. Staying true to the plot, the picture gives no recap of the past six installments, but clearly introduces new concepts and characters like the Deathly Hallows, Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans), and Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy). All grown up, the classic trio of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) must rely on one another more than ever. Long past Quidditch games and Hogwarts, the three have virtually no adult supervision with Albus Dumbledore dead and a refusal to include or contact anyone else for fear of their safety. While Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a transitional movie and the first in the series unable to stand alone without its successors, it shows a higher caliber of acting from the protagonists, and gives an attention to detail not seen since Chris Columbus’s Chamber of Secrets.
As the phenomenon draws to a close, it is difficult not to feel nostalgic. From the midnight bookstore signings to the video games, the fan fiction, the movies, the disappointment of not receiving an invitation to Hogwarts when we turned 11, the house quizzes, and the general mania, Harry Potter has become a community. Of course there are always those-who-must-not-be-named Harry-Potter-haters, squibs who simply failed to read the series, and muggles that just don’t care, but for the most part the love runs deep within Harry Potter’s extensive fan-base. The digression from reality without harsh language or technology, makes Harry Potter real for many people. For many, never before has the death of fictional characters been so affecting, and no future generations of Potter-fans will be able to grow up beside the bespectacled, lightning bolt scarred protagonist, aging with the books as we did. Who knows how time will age Harry Potter: classic or forgotten. But certainly this generation will always have a bit of Potter in us, and growing up alongside the boy wizard has given everyone a little more magic in their lives. And while Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson have given a face to the phenomenon, the heart and soul of the magic comes from J.K. Rowling’s treasured novels. 10 years, 4,195 pages, and 400 million book sales after Hagrid came crashing into the Dursley’s shack on the sea to announce “You’re a wizard, Harry”, the beloved young trio still holds much comfort and security for devoted fans, a bit of childhood that stayed with us, filled with magic and friendship and love. He was the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, our connection to the wizarding world, and our friend. All grown up, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II will be released this July, marking the end to a decade of Potter-mania, but as Dumbledore once wisely said to Harry “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” The magic will live on as fans re-read and re-watch the films countless time, but it is sad to know that Harry is all grown up and we soon will follow. Goodbye, Harry.