VOLUME 8, ISSUE 4 (FEBRUARY 2011)

TEACHERISMS

Dominic Veconi

Dr. Birch: “What a wonderful combination! Pumpkin pie and Plato…”

Mr. DuCett: “This is my going-to-a-funeral purple sweater.”

Dr. Schubert: “You know people try so many ways to become immortal. None of them work.”

Mr. Nashban: “And the president of the bacteria was wrong. As most presidents are.”

Student: “What do you think George Bush is doing right now?”

Dr. Freund: “Eating toast?”

Ms. Gamper: “‎Stop writing on her hand, she’s not made of papyrus.”

Dr. Cordi: “Look at these centrifuges! Aren’t they cute? They’re so cute!”

Dr. Youngren: *after drawing a circle on the board* “Any rumors about me being in a circle-drawing competition are clearly not true.”

Ms. Rowen: “This poem is a silly joke. You know, some people enjoy sitcoms. Other people, like me, enjoy really really stupid science fiction!”

Ms. Cohen: “So the lower you get on the Periodic Table, the bigger your ass gets!”

Dr. Clark: “You’re looking at this field of lambs and what’s happening? They’re turning red! They’re turning green! They’re turning yellow! They’re turning purple! We’re talking hallucinogenic lambs here.”

Mr. Mikesh: “Some people think Newton was the reincarnation of Galileo. I’m not one of those people, because I don’t believe in reincarnation. But if I did… HOLY CRAP!”

Dr. Mazie: (After a discussion about how the lighthouse is a phallic symbol) “Look at Claudia’s book. Her lighthouse is pretty substantial, whereas mine appears slightly inadequate.”

Dr. Johnson: “Here Gilgamesh peels off his clothes… That’s always what I do when I have an interesting dream.”

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 dveconi@gmail.com.

 

 

OBAMA

Jack Jenkins, ’12

The featured video on The White House website is entitled: “Winning the future” and with the subscript: “In this White House White Board, Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, explains how the President’s Budget will help then [sic] government live within its means, while still investing in America’s future.” Beyond the embarrassing typo, this is the sort of explanation that both Democrats and Republicans have been craving. Whether the debate is over health care reform, financial aid packages, or any other issue where money plays a main part, the majority of Democrats have been advocating for the pursuing of future goals, while the majority of Republicans argue that without taking heed of present economic limitations, our economy will fall below an alleged “point of no return.” That being said, a clear and simple explanation for an economic budget program that does not destroy our current economy but still holds some promise for the future is all that any reasonable person can expect in these confusing times.

Although I can only speak for myself, I was disappointed when Lew just about restated what the promo preached, his only evidence being two graphs showing the Obama administration’s prediction for the economic circumstances of the future. There was no mention of what these policies are and how in particular they will improve our economy. Of course, there’s no way that the man could teach me Economy 101 in under five minutes, so let me be clear: I’m not saying that Lew did a bad job in presenting our country’s current issues and the best chance we have of improving our chances for success. What is troubling to me, and this is not just in response to Lew’s presentation, is the amount of abstraction that is at hand in today’s politics. Reasoned discussions are being replaced with the undisciplined shout-outs that characterize CNN on the one hand and Rush Limbaugh’s uncontested rants on the other. Each kind of program confuses the average American, both in terms of what is actually being done, and what should be done.

Obama’s presidency has been incredibly productive (not to be hypocritically vague, I should say that he has negotiated with big businesses demanding that they cut wasteful spending, initiated the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, supported the Freedom of Information Act in the wake of WikiLeaks, giving funding to science departments, improved benefits for veterans and 9/11 first responders, limited credit card companies’ enigmatic contracts, and of course, supported the Stimulus Package and health care reform). But, to be frank, I could only come up with a few items on this list. I don’t consider myself politically inactive – I have listened to all of Obama’s speeches, read the New York Times somewhat frequently – but as it happened, most of the true facts of what Obama is doing and what he plans to do evaded me. Part of this is my fault for not engaging enough, but the Obama Administration takes some blame for this as well.

A disturbing thing that I’ve been hearing from a few of my peers is that Obama is not only naive but also a hypocrite to some extent, because of a few of his policies that resemble those of the last president. When Obama announced that it was time to withdraw troops, and it was exposed that there would still be many “peacekeeping” troops, I observed that many people resented Obama for this half-heartedness, as if it would have been better for him not to withdraw any troops. In some respects, following in the footsteps of the worst president of our time certainly has its advantages. For Obama, he juxtaposed Bush’s failures onto his would-be Republican successor, McCain, during the presidential election, and this was crucial in getting himself elected. But in another sense, Bush’s presidency cultivated a distrust of our central government, so that whenever Obama’s programs appear Bush-ish (for example, Obama is pro-war where the war is justified), those who previously voted for him resent his conformity.

Obama’s policies are not what fails him in the eyes of the American people. It is his way of putting forth his ideas, and certain factors that were beyond his control (the economic meltdown, the difficult-to-abandon Iraq war) that has caused controversy on his part. Although I am skeptical whether he can pull winning his second term, I am confident that history will redeem him as a bold visionary who knew exactly what his country needed and wasn’t afraid to sacrifice his career and reputation for its benefit. Besides the fact that he doesn’t like beets as much as I do, there isn’t anything wrong with him.

 

 

NEW AMSTERDAM

Nika Sabasteanski, ’12

“Everybody ought to have a lower East Side in their life.” Irving Berlin

When I stay with my father, he and I make it a habit to travel into school together. We take the train into the city and then he walks me up to Clinton Street where we part until the afternoon. The mornings are usually filled with my melancholy reluctance to begin yet another day and the walk up from Essex is filled with my pouting and him trying to get me to smile before my day even begins. I always give in around Rivington.

One morning, the first week back after finals, we went to the train station as usual around 8:00, which would normally leave me a significant amount of time to get to my first period class. On this particular morning, however, my father needed to refill his metro card, which is innocent sounding enough but anyone who has every tried his luck at the hands of the machines knows that it is no simple feat. Both machines refused his credit card and the woman at the ticket booth, with the charming wonderful to be alive personality, also denied the card and a receipt. He was able to pay cash however, and we were on our merry way. Three trains had come and gone while we were buying his card and as our luck would have it, the train took a good five minutes to arrive, standing room only. We entered the train and the doors shut and it didn’t move. Occasionally a crackling yet omnipotent slurred voice would silence the crowds of people still half asleep and half prepared for facing the world on that Thursday morning. “The train in front of us has its emergency brakes in effect and we are delayed as a result,” it said, although this sentence structure is giving the voice much too much credit.

I imagined a sickly old woman being carried off the car by paramedics after a noble high school student pulled the emergency brake as she fainted onto the passengers in front of her. After all, that would be the only valid time to pull the emergency brake, I thought. It dawned on me later though, that while I’m sure a teenager did pull the brake, it was not out of a heroic self-realization but rather out of an idiotic self-aggrandisement. Yes, they had fully exercised their power and ruined almost everyone’s day as documented by the groans and curses emitted from the seats around me. After five minutes and the first announcement I didn’t even think to worry. It was only 8:15 and I still had plenty of time to make it to school. After the third announcement I began to worry and at 8:25 when the fourth announcement came on, spewing the same MTA propaganda that had been floating around the car for the past 25 minutes, I began to consider climbing in between cars and jumping to the platform, until I did a rudimentary cost benefit analysis. By 8:30, the voice told us that the train was being dismissed and that we were all to exit from the newly opened doors. And so the mass exodus from the J train began half and hour before Dr. Rosenbaum’s 1st Period Calculus II class began that I needed to be in. The station was a scene directly from a World War II era train platform with European refugees and soldiers with gauze wrapped around their heads. To move forward successfully, one needed to straddle the braille line while holding onto the static train for balance until the revolving doors appeared. We pushed through the mass of confused and disillusioned people and made our way down the stairs from the elevated platform past the tops of store awnings down to the street.

Since there were no taxis to be found in this Godforsaken part of Brooklyn, we began to walk quickly back to our apartment where we could drive our car across the Williamsburg Bridge to school. As we were dissatisfied with our walking pace, we began to run downhill towards the river on treacherous scads of ice that lingered in front of us, taunting us to fall down. I imagined myself falling face forward onto the sidewalk and showing up to first period with two black eyes, a bloody nose and ripped stockings, since yes I was wearing a skirt and oxfords. With absolutely no traction and very heavy backpacks, we ran one mile back to the flat, panting and groaning, but never falling. We jumped into our car like Batman and Robin and zoomed off down the avenue towards the bridge, passing slow moving cars on ice mounds and carefully running a very inconvenient red light.

The entrance to the bridge loomed in front of us as I reminded my father to take the left most lane which never has any traffic whatsoever. “Take the left,” we repeated in soft, Gregorian like chants, over and over again until we veered in the left lane and flew down the road for about one minute. The time was now about 8:45 and the traffic had come to an utter stand still. We looked over to the right lane, which usually moves about as well as blood during a myocardial infarction, and it was flying as if it had taken ten doses of blood thinners while our lane stocked up on the saturated fats. We inched along the bridge stranded between the boroughs and as if to add insult to injury, a smug train passed us, chugging along the bridge without a problem. Inch by inch, step by step, slowly we made our way across the bridge until we were the next car scheduled to go when the light turned green. The time was now 8:50 and Delancey wasn’t moving. The potholes and lunacy that crowded the street were beginning to take their toll as I began to string my white flag onto its pole and simultaneously tuck my tie into my shirt. Down Stanton, we rolled, battling moon craters and incompetent drivers until finally East Houston appeared and I could see Mangin Street off in the distance. It was how I imagined, Fitzgerald imagined the awe of the first explorers who came upon New York, “I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world…had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent.” And finally at 8:55, I jumped out of the car and tumbled into the building, running up the three flights of stairs to my math class and sat down, and smiling to myself because I was there on time as if it were an ordinary morning. No one knew the commute that I had had, I bore no obvious battle scars, and my morning travails were undetectable to the naked eye…until my father took me home and we walked down East Houston recalling our Steve McQueen motor cycle chase scene, in which we got away.

 

 

WELCOME TO LET’S EXCHANGE THOUGHTS, BHSEC’S ONLY SPORADICALLY PUBLISHED ADVICE COLUMN!

Shannon Grant ’13 and James Marlow ’13

Q: I want to get away from it all. Where should I go?

Jmarlow and Sgrant suggest Tristan da Cunha, a small British dependency in the South Atlantic that is known for being the world’s most isolated settlement. Tristan da Cunha can only be accessed by ship, which takes a week to go to the nearest land, 1,750 miles away. The island is inhabited by 275 people, all of whom are descended from a founding population of 15. As a result, there is a high rate of asthma on the island. If you’re looking to escape the hectic nature of New York life, Tristan da Cunha might be the place for you, especially if you enjoy constant wheezing.

Q: Can I have your number?

867‒5309, although neither of us are named Jenny. If this line is busy, try 877-393-4448.

Q: Why do we call Seminar “Seminar”?

Sgrant found that the etymology for the word seminar is rooted in the Latin word for “seeding place,” meaning that Seminar is a class in which students develop and cultivate new ideas from texts.

Q: Why is Canada?

Every so often we receive a question that we just don’t know how to answer. We posed this question to Patrick Clancy, a Canadian from the Maritime province of New Brunswick. He cryptically responded “Bacon or Hockey. Always.” We have no idea what Mr. Clancy is trying to say, but we have faith that our neighbors to the north know what they’re talking about.

Q: How much swag do you have?

If you are asking how many wreaths or garlands we have in our possession, I can assure you we have plenty.

Q:Why does Brian Williams do NBC Nightly News?

Brian Williams does NBC Nightly News because he’s too funny for shows like 30 Rock. Though we both bow down to Tina Fey, Brian Williams was deemed too comedically efficient to appear on sitcoms. Executives at NBC declined to comment (as in, we had no idea how to contact them) but the word on “the plaza” is that Nightly News is a consolation prize for Mr. Williams and he is creatively satisfied by his appearances on SNL, 30 Rock and his “Slow Jammin’ the News” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Sue Simmons is extremely jealous.

Q: I’m trying to find a book that will make me laugh, to no avail. Do you have any suggestions?

Jmarlow has recently discovered “English As She Is Spoke”, a 19th century Portuguese-English dictionary written by a man who had no knowledge of English. Instead, he translated the French portion of a Portuguese-French dictionary with a French-English dictionary. The resulting translations are hilarious, with nonsensical idioms and nearly incomprehensible sentences. Instead of the straightforward phrase “This lake seems like it’s full of fish. Let’s have some fun fishing.”, the author of the dictionary wrote “That pond it seems me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing.” Regarding “English As She is Spoke”, Mark Twain wrote “Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.” Next time you need a laugh, pick up this book and remember to “craunch the marmoset”. Sgrant suggests anything by Mark Twain, particularly A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Sgrant and Jmarlow hope you have a smashing spring semester, and promise to publish LET more regularly!

 

 

STORIES FROM CHILDHOOD: WHERE OUR WRITING ALL BEGAN

Madeline Webber, ’13

Once upon a time there was a turkey school. Turkeys went to this school. They wrote stories and gobbled to each other. Gobbling was their way of talking. The teachers were also turkeys at this turkey school. They taught the turkeys how to hold pencils, and how to understand gobbling. There was one little boy turkey who had trouble gobbling, but one of the turkey teachers was very nice and gave him extra help. After the turkey teacher helped him with his gobbling and understanding gobbling, he was able to gobble as well as all of the other turkeys! THE END

-Aliza Yaillen —- from Kindergarten

(All spellings and punctuation are as they were written down)

Anna and Tommy: The First Book

Once upon a time ther was a littel girl and boy named Anna and Tommy. They lived in England were they had Britesh axends. One day they got an invetashon for a party. But it was a tea party! Anna look’et in her closet and found a dark blue plad scirt and whit colerd botten down shirt…longlseef. Her sock’s were white knee sock’s and her shoose were black patenlether shoos it had ovel’s on each side and in the midel ther wore cut out flower’s. Anna’s coat was navy blue and coverd her skirt. She had pigtail’s and bang’s and her hat was a dark green and on the hat was a black band. She carried a tin pal that carieed her…appel. Tommy was wering a red butten down shirt with a tie. His pants were navy and his coat was black and brown. He has bangs. Anna and Tommy walked up the dreary step’s of the house. Anna’s shoose clanked on the step’s. They knoked on a white door. And a young woman anserd the door. The young woman’s name was Alece Adam and her husband’s name was Coner Adam. The room had seven large chair’s. The one sofa had silver snowflakes and it was a light blue. Mrs. Adam took ther coat’s and seated them on the sofa. Anna sneezed and Tommy cophet. Mrs. Adam took ther tempater. They were sick. They got a ride home. Anna and Tommy’s mother put a cool compress on ther forheads. Anna had scarlit fever and Tommy…had the flu. Ther mother poot them to bed. Anna’s night gown was dark blue with a lase coler. Tommy’s pagaima’s was a top and boddem. The top was dark green shirt and his…bottom was the same. Anna had to take codliver oil Tommy had to tak zithrmax. THE END.

-Nika Sabasteanski ——From 1st grade (self awarded the Caldecott medal) The Anna and Tommy series went on to include five other books.

The Contry

When I was in the countrey I picket Blackberries and rasberries. I went to Summit lake. I bought flip flops. I ran outside. I play store and my Grampa pretended that he was a kid, he evon pretended to be a girl. We saw humming birds and I think we saw a hawk. My Grama and I played pioneers. We wachted a “Leage of ther own” and “Born Free.” They read me ooks. We went to yard sals. We had orange ice pops with cream inside. I had root beer pops. I bought flip flops for my mommy. I had Basil saws (sauce) and pasta that my Grampa made. I ate fresh mint. I played with my aunt. I had ginerale. I took a bath. I took a walk whith my Grama. I played with my toy animles. I played on my swing. I helped my Grama fix a chair. I saw wasps and yellow Jacets. I saw a spider making a web. I saw a Daddy long leg. I saw my first cousin Harper Scout, he’s 3 months old. I saw my uncle Dean. I saw minnows and at night we saw fireflies. We heard a frog, we heard cricets and grasshoppers. I saw a real bird’s nest and I saw water beetles. I saw my old dolls and I went into there celler wich is to small for gronups to stand up in. I fit perfectly. I saw my white pine tree wich my Granpa planted for me when I was 1 year old. He’ll plant one for my cosin next year.

-Nika Sabasteanski, September 7, 2001 (Age 7)

Some call it magical, some call it enchanted but I call it home. We go every summer, at least we have since I was three, but each summer the house holds new excitements. We pull into the short driveway, and the house gleams from behind a wild bush. My step-grandmother, Anne, plants the garden every year, bringing the beautiful house to life. The house is in Cape Cod, right on Black-burn Beach, letting the bay air breeze by you. The smell of low-tide whips through the short brush; being to excited to grab my luggage I run to claim my usual spot in the fish-house. The fish-house is a small one room cottage, that was placed next to the big house and includes four beds. In between the fish-house and the main house is the shed, which my uncle fills with his numerous kayaks, sailboats and random pool toys. I slam open the fragile screen door of the fish-house I try to hold back a giant smile. My rosy cheeks give up and let the edges of my lips reach across my face. The small room smells of a musty, sea cottage which only reminds me of my grandfather. The cape has never been the same with out him. Since he passed away my father and his siblings fight all the time, his Anne doesn’t come anymore, and nor do my cousins. With a deep sigh of despair, my fears and doubts are lost and my delight returns. Along the window panes of the stuffy room, are delicate jars, some are filled with sea glass and others with toe-nail shells.

-Madeleine Webber —- from Seventh grade

L’étoile:

The condensation slowly slid down the side of the washing board. Each drop rolled into the small stream; sending a pulse of ripples outward. Suddenly a tear ran down her face, burning her soft, powder skin. The hot, humid air made it hard to breathe, turning her long breaths into short wheezes. She didn’t care who was looking and began to cry. Drip. More drops began to beat the water. The ripples were increasing, and the silent stream began to form a symphony, made of her gentle breaths and the pounding, rhythmic droplets. Her fragile figure was crookedly bent over the water as she cupped her hands around her face. Her white, porcelain skin, delicate as ever, was now unwashed and covered with a thin film of dirt. The tears continued. She cleared her agitated eyes to look back into the unsettled stream. The horrid item was still there; still there to mock her. Her feeble body shivered as her hands reached into the cold stream. Her once-pudgy fingers slowly grasped around the scorned object, holding it in place. She stared at it again, it’s message way beyond her ten years left her puzzled. The wet felt wrapped around her fingers, folding weakly into her hands. The prior yellow color of the object tried to show though the build up of dirt. Its former shape, once being a star, David’s Star, still attempted to hold its appearance. Across the yellow felt lay four black letters, “JUDE”, which means Jew in German. This simple component stereotyping who she was; representing her religion. She didn’t fully comprehend it, nor would she ever fully comprehend why when she wore this, people laughed at her. She didn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to play with the other children, or while walking to school one day a police officer had let his dog after her. Her eyes, once again, swelled with unstoppable tears. Her hands tightened around the wet felt, which was no longer soft, but now ragged and frayed. Through her blurry eyes she stumbled to get up. Standing by the stream’s side she hurled the star back into the water hoping it would go as far away as possible. She caught her soft sniffles with her childish hands, and then let them fall by her sides. Confused and insecure tears came back, and she wondered if she had done the right thing. She had thought she wanted the star out of her life, not because she was ashamed, but because of what came along with it. She didn’t want dogs chasing her, or people laughing; she wanted to be able to play with other children. Turning around to leave, the soft symphony from before was now a rhapsody of harsh breaths and burning tears. The child ran as fast as she could, never returning to this small stream where her washing board still lay.

 

 

BHSEC WOMEN – OUR CHANGING ROOM IS FINALLY HERE!

Lindsay Duddy ’13

Ever try hopping around in a few square inches on a cold tile floor in a super crowded room to change for Phys. Ed.? One of the many skills that a Bard student acquires while attending this school is the skill of changing for Physical Education class in a matter of minutes while jammed in small bathroom filled with ten other students trying to achieve that same goal. This experience involves great stamina as you try not to step in large puddles of liquid or let your feet touch the cold tiled floor, dodging another student a millimeter away from you. After finding the bathroom experience too difficult to handle, some have resorted to changing in the crowded hallways. For some this has even resulted in an awkward situation, or being bombarded by traffic, or even a detention. Have you been one of those students who have wished it were otherwise? Well starting after the Finals Week, you might find this a bit easier. For those who have endured this experience, things are about to improve!

After 9 years of trying to change for Physical Education in tiny restrooms already crowded with restroom users, a space has been finally designated to use as a Girl’s Changing Room. BHSEC students thank Dr. Lerner, Ms. Nardone, the PTA, and Eddie Badillo, our head custodian, who have all moved mountains to make this happen with the help of MDA designgroup, a design firm that volunteered their services. Once a small office, later a very full storage room, the L-shaped room was emptied and renovated over the last few weeks into a place where students can change for gym without straddling the huge water puddles and cold tiled floors.

It is a changing space, not a true locker room, but it is conveniently located near our gymnasium, freshly painted by Mr. Badillo, carpeted with great carpet tiles that were donated free of charge by Interface/Flor Carpets, and has new wood cubbies with built in benches that will help organize our shoes and non-valuables. The cubby units each have a built-in bench too! The generosity of the parents who spearheaded this, the time, donations and purchases really helped make this dream happen. And as students it is our duty to maintain this space like our homes.

 

 

THE TEENAGE DILEMMA

Amelia Holcomb ’12

On a crowded subway platform, trying to squeeze my way through to an exit, I accidentally bump into a tall woman standing with her friend. “Sorry,” I mumble, and start moving again. The woman looks at me and rolls her eyes. As I hurry off, she turns to strike up a conversation with her friend about how teenagers have no sense of personal space and no consideration for others. Inwardly, I am seething. It is a crowded subway platform; people are bumping into one another and muttering hasty “excuse me”s right and left. When I do exactly what everyone else is doing, this woman makes a huge deal out of the whole episode, assuming that I bumped into her because I am a teenager.

Once again on the subway, a man stops a few friends and me to comment on how surprised he is that a group of teenage girls is talking about something other than sex and makeup. There is a slightly awkward silence. Once again, I am enraged. Why does this surprise him? Why does he think that teenage girls are incapable of holding a discussion about anything else?

A book entitled “The Female Brain,” by Louann Brizendine, provides a chapter on the teenage girl. It begins: “Drama, drama, drama. That’s what’s happening in a teen girl’s life and a teen girl’s brain. ‘Mom, I so totally can’t go to school. I just found out Brian likes me and I have a huge zit and no concealer. OMG! How can you even think I’ll go?’ . . . This is what you get if you have the modern version of the teen girl brain living in your house” (p. 31). In November, an article appeared in Parade magazine, entitled “Inside the Teenage Brain.” It begins “‘I would rather give birth to a baby elephant than raise a teenager again. It would be less painful,’ says Renee Cassis Hoering of New York City. ‘I cannot believe that my darling, sweet little girl has turned into a 16-year-old stranger who just wants money from me all the time.'” The stereotype of the teenager—that we are all self-centered, overly dramatic, moody, sex, drug, and alcohol obsessed, inconsiderate, money-loving slobs—has grown and developed far too long. It is bolstered by many medical and statistical analyses, but also, by people’s expectations. When adults hear that teenagers are supposed to fit a stereotype, they are often on the lookout for the stereotype to be fulfilled. When I bumped into that woman on the subway platform, she already had some preconceived notion of what I, as a teenager, am like. It was easy for her to take what she saw and shape it to fit her preconceptions.

That is not to say that the medical and statistical evidence is inconsequential. It is commonly accepted medical science that teenagers’ brains are not fully developed, most significantly in the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain that processes the consequences of actions, and it is not fully developed until around age 25. Teens are also more susceptible to addiction and have stronger reactions to drugs and alcohol. Statistically speaking, 33% of teens are involved in at least one physical fight every year , 25% of people caught shoplifting are between the ages of 13 and 17 , and 13% of drunk driving incidences in 2008 involved persons under the age of 21 . While it may frustrate me that when I walk into a store the proprietor is immediately on alert for any sign that I’m shoplifting, I also can’t deny that, statistically speaking, their assumption is not entirely unreasonable.

However, I cannot bring myself to accept that it is perfectly all right for people to simply assume that I am unable to make good decisions; that I am loud and obnoxious; that I am unconscious of the fact that other people exist. BHSEC itself provides an excellent example of teens who have diverged from these fixed expectations. We need a chance and motivation to change the stereotypes that we have been burdened with. Fortunately, there are organizations such as the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) that fight for youths to be granted greater respect. Their agenda includes lowering the voting and drinking age to 16. Other than that, there seems to be little that we can do except try to defy these labels. Luckily, our education provides us with the necessary tools for us to change the frame through which modern adolescents are viewed.

1 http://www.parade.com/news/2010/11/28-inside-the-teenage-brain.html

2 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124119468

3 http://www.familyfirstaid.org/teen-anger.html

 

 

THE PRESSURE OF GETTING INTO COLLEGE! AGGGGHHHH!

Isabelle St. Clair ’13

Incoming ninth graders are not worried about college. For them it seems like a millennium away. They rather focus on the present and adjusting to BHSEC’s type of critical thinking. However, college lurks just around the corner terrifying the students as they walk blindly into the college transfer office, and for BHSEC students the idea of college comes two years earlier. It is stressful to do well at school, apply to colleges, and contemplate the future. This pressure is demanding, and the fantasy of college soon transforms into reality.

The best way to avoid a dreadful college application experience is to start evaluating strengths, weaknesses, goals, passions, learning styles, social skills, and questions. Learn more about appealing colleges and rule out those that seem unattractive. Enlist help in dealing with the pressure and the process of getting into college, whether it may be from parents, teachers, siblings, relatives, or friends. Read about colleges and search the schools online at collegboard.org to learn more about their curricula. Converse with college advisors about future plans, in order to get back good advice and be guided efficiently. Visit colleges, go on tours, and always ask pertinent questions. The key to avoiding painful pressure is to start early and learn as much as possible.

College is not far away and should not be ignored. This ignorance, usually bolstered by procrastination and denial, will affect the future and make college more stressful than it actually is. Many students already have judgments about college and give up in the hopeless pursuit to find the perfect one. Here’s a short true or false quiz students usually answer wrong (try to answer them):

True or false, “good” colleges require the SAT?

True or false, there is only one right college for every student?

True or false, taking both the SAT and the ACT exams will double the student’s chance of college acceptance?

True or false, visiting colleges is relatively a minor aspect of the college process?

True or false the selection process at all colleges are the same?

All of these answers are FALSE!!!! Students make generalizations before they fully develop their understanding of a college’s expectations. There are 2,000 four-year colleges in the United States in which 90% admit most applicants. Unrealistic snap judgments cause pressure, which leave little room for students to explore the college process. The pressure is rough leaving students crying, freaking out, and collapsing under the weight. It’s OKAY to freak out, cry, and want to give up. However, continue to persist and dream, for the pressure will soon be relieved.

Is the pressure too much? It definitely is, but it’s a learning experience. The important thing is that pressure should not get in the way of destroying one’s chance at college, ruining one’s social life, or leading to catastrophic disasters. Remember that many people have gone through this process before and many more are going to, so always look for help and seek guidance.

 

 

URBAN NOTEBOOK

Patrick Orenstein ’13

I recently witnessed an insightful altercation on my way home from BHSEC. While riding the m14D BUS westward, we stopped to take on more passengers. Patrons of the 14D bus, that vessel of scholastic virtue, will know that it stops often, perhaps too often, to pick up a new batch of tired New Yorkers on their way home.

A woman in a red coat stepped onto the bus, paid her fare, and began walking toward the back of the bus. Another woman, this time insulated by a white coat, found herself in the red-coated woman’s path of motion. What can only be described as a minor fender-bender then ensued. The white-coated woman was bumped to the side in the red-coated woman’s efforts to find an empty seat.

As the offending party continued down the aisle, the victim grumbled, “A simple ‘excuse me’ would have been a much better way to go.” At that very moment, who came down the aisle but the red- coated woman’s husband! He, in keeping with the subdued mood of the whole episode, murmured, threateningly, “I hope that wasn’t my wife you were talking to…”

How sad it is, that such a futile cry for a simple excuse me, a vague attempt at justice, a wakeup call to someone with no regard for manners, should be met with such anger and spite. What world do we live in that, instead of apologizing for his wife’s rushed insensitivity, this petulant ogre should strike back with a scarring blow.

But after surviving all this, after taking all that came at her, the white-coated woman survived. She went on with her life. In fact, she recognized a friend on the bus, and fell into a lively conversation. Meanwhile, the red-coated woman and her husband, taking seats in the accordion joint of the double bus, gossiped ceaselessly about the impunity of the white-coated woman. How dare she talk back to the red-coated woman? How dare she stand in the front of the bus? The wounds they sustained from this brief wrangle, which, from most vantage points appeared to have been started by them, were still festering when they exited the bus through the back a few stops later. The white-coated woman continued her conversation, blissfully unaware of the pain and anger felt by the red-coated woman and her husband.

The moral? I’m not sure there is one. Perhaps this occurrence supports the unspoken maxim of the New York commuter: Avoid saying anything.

 

 

BENJY’S PLAYLIST (FROM THE SOUND AND THE FURY)

Mack Cummings ’13

For those of you who were not in Professor Cho’s Freshman English class last year, let me introduce you to Benjamin Compson, one of the main characters in the book “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner. Benjy is a thirty-year old man in 1928 and cannot formulate words into simple sentences due to the fact that he is mentally disabled. He can only cry and moan for his sister, Caddy, who is very empathetic and is more affectionate towards him than anyone else that he knows. However, Benjy can comprehend when things are right and wrong with situations and people and can also sense the physical or mental states of others, such as his brother Quentin. Quentin commits suicide in Boston, Massachusetts when Benjy is in the south. I have compiled a list of songs that Benjy could listen if he came into the real world in the present day, that somehow relate to his life, but somehow I think that may be a bit difficult if we don’t bring Caddy as well. The late 60s and 70s was a bittersweet era, perhaps naïve to the intelligence age but nonetheless the people dreamt of a different world through music.

Morning: Another Morning/Tuesday Afternoon-The Moody Blues

This song symbolizes a place of nirvana where everything is right with the world; it’s a beautiful day, kids are flying kites, having picnics, watching the clouds and admiring everything around them. This best symbolizes when Benjy and his servant Luster are searching the Compson property for a quarter that Luster lost and wants to use it to pay for a ticket to a minstrel show. In this passage, Benjy makes observations using the natural surroundings (particularly the visions and smells of trees) that help him remember Caddy as playful little girl that he was fond of, for instance when he says, “Caddy smells like trees”.

On The Run-Pink Floyd

This song best represents suspense, and fear, which drives someone to run, but also a scary change from a relaxed state of mind to fast pace of thinking (“Breathe/Speak To Me” to “On The Run). When Benjy remembers the time when he went to Caddy’s room and saw that she was putting on perfume, she no longer smelled like trees, and Caddy’s change into a woman destroys Benjy’s way of remember Caddy and her loving ways. Although Caddy still cares for Benjy, he cannot comprehend that she is becoming a woman and will soon marry and love her husband.

River Man-Nick Drake

This song explores the idea of when people sometimes loose something important and can cope with their problems, which drives them to insanity or perhaps suicide. Although Benjy does not kill himself, this song represents the sadness Benjy feels when Caddy leaves the Compson family and he does not know what to do without her.

Helpless-Neil Young

This song reflects how Benjy acted when he realized Caddy had left the family. He noticed everything around him, but cannot find Caddy, which is similar to the way Neil Young feels when he can’t find his friend. The way that Benjy moves on from Caddy is through his fondest memories of her, which is the same way Neil Young thinks when he says there is “…a dream comfort memory to spare” in his town. For instance, when Benjy gets stuck in a hole in a fence he is climbing through, he remembers when Caddy helped him through that same hole years ago which gave him the strength to calm down and crawl through the space the same way he was showed.

 

 

TEENAGE PAPARAZZO

Ella Fornari ’12

Adrian Grenier, star of HBO’s hit show “Entourage” visited BHSEC Thursday December 16th to present his new documentary “Teenage Paparazzo”. In true BHSEC fashion, the event started with a focused free write. Adrian, having gone to Bard College and familiar with the level of thinking at BHSEC wanted to present his movie as a complete and intellectually stimulating viewing experience. The free write helped students to examine themes of the documentary before the viewing and put them in a thoughtful frame of mind for the provocative picture. As incentive, Adrian generously donated ten dollars per free write sheet collected after the movie. Along with the free writes, Adrian brought artwork inspired by his documentary to further the celebratory viewing. Students expected to see a movie and meet a celebrity, but pleasantly found themselves questioning their beliefs and assumptions towards celebrity culture in the process. “Teenage Paparazzo” explores the obsession with celebrities in the modern world by telling the story of 14-year-old paparazzi Austin Visschedyk. As Adrian’s fame grew, so did his encounters with the paparazzi. It is in these encounters with the paparazzi that Adrian meets Austin and their relationship begins. Spending time with Austin allows Adrian to see the excitement and reward in being paparazzi. Austin is an obnoxious kid, who seems to have little to no regards concerning his parents and the celebrities he is photographing. He, like most people in the world today does not see celebrities as real people, but rather views them as figures he can exploit. Through his relationship with Adrian, Austin encounters fame of his own. With Austin’s newfound fame, he is able to come to terms with his past behavior as a paparazzi. Adrian uses his relationship with Austin as a mechanism to further explore celebrity culture. The documentary takes the viewer backstage to not only the world of the paparazzi, but to the magazines, readers, and celebrities that the film centers around.

After the film, Adrian opened up the floor to questions from the audience. He seemed excited and challenged by the questions the inquisitive and feisty BHSEC students posed. The best question to sum up the event was, “What do you think about your visit to BHSEC being advertised with posters of your head shot, when your movie’s purpose is to show how the world is too centered on celebrity culture”. Adrian was surprisingly not taken aback from this. He responded that his documentary shines light on the way society has become over obsessed with celebrities, but did not vouch for the disposal of this culture completely. He claimed that although this celebrity cultural industry has blown up in the past few years, it is slowly on the decline. Through social mediums like twitter and facebook celebs are able to communicate directly with fans. Because of these personal interactions with fans becoming so common stars are no longer placed on such high pedestals. Hopefully because of this accessibility, celeb gossip magazines’ intrusive nature will be a thing of the past, and instead people will be able to understand that megastars are humans as well.

 

 

I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD

Hannah Frishberg ‘13

243.3 hours a month, 121.6 days each year or approximately one third of our lives is spent sleeping. Yet, despite the mass amount of time we spend unconscious, we know surprisingly little about sleep. Sleep deprivation has been proven to weaken our immune systems, memory, and energy. Without sleep, we eventually die. In other words sleep cannot be conquered. Fatal familial insomnia, a very rare disease effecting roughly 100 people worldwide, stops the affected from sleeping. incurable, most victims die between 7 and 36 months from onset, suffering from insomnia and resulting paranoia, panic attacks, phobias, and hallucinations, followed by a complete inability to sleep, rapid weight loss, dementia, and then death. 17 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .05, and after 24 hours awake, you’re legally drunk. Randy Gardner holds the record for the longest period of time a human being has intentionally gone without sleep not using stimulants of any kind, having stayed awake for 264 hours (11 days) in 1964, experiencing paranoia, delusions, and issues with short term memory, but no lasting problems. Sleep has been a fascination, fixation, and obsession of humans since the beginning of time, linked directly with immortality, religion, and strength in some cultures. Nonetheless, over 500 million years after the first sleeping creatures evolved on this earth, we still have few answers regarding sleep.

Today, sleep is but a symptom of caffeine deprivation, a poor substitute for coffee. Studies show that teens should be getting 8.5 – 9.25 hours of sleep a night, yet the average amount of sleep a BHSEC student gets per night is a measly 6.45 hours, despite the fact that BHSEC’s first period classes begin at 9:00AM, later than any other public high school in New York City. Beginning each day to the sound of an alarm clock, artificial light, electronic distractions, and an increasingly competitive and stressful society, the amount of sleep Americans get each night only shrinks. While surveys by the American Cancer Society found that 2% of participants reported getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night in 1960, a similar survey taken in 2004 by the National Health Interview Survey showed that a whopping 30% of participants reported getting 6 hours or less sleep per night. It would seem that time is becoming more valuable to humans and we have higher standards for life, or maybe we have evolved to the point of immortality, defeating death and bridging the gap between human and gods by overcoming sleep.

To some, consciousness is an annoying time between naps. To others, sleep is an obstacle to be mastered. To all, sleep is a necessity vital to life and sanity. A universal custom, humans and animals alike are united in sleep. Sleep has an extensive influence: the less we sleep, the more we do. In this way, sleep affects progress exponentially. While it may seem a minor decision when choosing to go to bed or finish an assignment, when applied to an architect working his men two hours later to finish a job, it gains a much larger influence. If every architect and construction worker, starting now, sleep two hours less each night, and work two hours more each day, buildings would take far shorter to construct, and architects could move on to new projects, new styles, new developments and new technologies. Seven billion people are on this earth, and with each hour we stay awake we strain the earth’s resources more and more. Innovation is like a snowball rolling down a mountain, getting larger and larger as it gains snow, and while previously sleep only inhibited it, restricting inspiration to the daylight hours, without sleep it is unrestrained. The pace of human life has only gotten faster as time has gone on, and though by sleeping less we can accomplish more, it is doubtful the planet could take the strain of 7 billion sleepless people.

A Sleep Inspired Playlist:

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream – Simon & Garfunkel

No Sleep Till Brooklyn – The Beastie Boys

Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare – Matt & Kim

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead – Warren Zevon

Losing My Religion – R.E.M.

Sleep the Clock Around – Belle & Sebastian

 

 

THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD: FROM LOTTO TO “PREFERENCE SHEETS”

Alexi Block Gorman, ‘12

Are college students miffed about this strange twist on how we select classes? Not particularly, no. Our reverent belief in the miraculous power of Add/Drop week sufficiently prevents us from worrying too much. Yet, change is change, so it has been widely noted, and questioned as well, albeit to a minimal extent. Still, the question has been posed and therefore shall be answered: “Why preference sheets? What was wrong with the lottery system, what caused this radical change?”

In fact, the change is not so radical. This was the method used for quite a while until a few years back when someone else decided to mix things up and switch to the not-so-beloved lottery system. The lottery system essentially worked like this: all college students were assigned a “lotto number” at random, and then in order of lotto number, students would be sent into the library to sign up for classes on a single day. If a student had a number from one to twenty, he or she was almost guaranteed to get all the desired classes, assuming one did not accidentally create a scheduling conflict. With each number, the likelihood of getting mostly first choices, or even second choices, got progressively worse. Final schedules were fully devised on the basis of lotto numbers as well.

That all changed when Dr. Brutsaert was made the new Academic Dean at the end of last year. I sat down with the maverick of scheduling myself for an explanation of the new system. Returning to this system was all her idea.

Dean Brutsaert explained that this method avoids a lot of stress and disruption of the library, which had to be shut down for half the day under the lotto system. This use of the library was also very inconvenient for the staff who were commonly recruited to be part of the grueling library sign-up system. Additionally, it seemed unfair to Dean Brutsaert that lottery numbers one through twenty got all the classes they wanted while so many others were turned away. She wanted there to be more equality in the system.

The process she now uses is approximately as follows: first, Dean Brutsaert rolls over all students’ seminar classes. Some students’ seminar classes will later be changed to accommodate electives if the student indicates that it is a priority, but to start out with, she rolls over seminar, language and year-long science courses. Having taken care of that, the she enters all the students’ top preferences into excel, which she then uploads onto what is called the “HSST application,”which she describes as a “scheduling machine.” This application puts students into their preferred classes at random, and then reports which students can be fully scheduled, and which are “irresolvable.” The ones that are “irresolvable” Dean Brutsaert must deal with and fully consider herself —yes, just her— for approximately three hundred plus schedules. “Irresolvables” are when two classes within a schedule conflict and can be the result of a student mistakenly signing up for the wrong class and creating an unintentional conflict, or it can be the result of a class being dropped or moved to a different time.

Dean Brutsaert says that while the process is in some ways as complicated as ever, preference sheets help her manage it in numerous ways. One of the most prevalent ways is math classes. By this system, now she can actually know how many students are interested in, for example, Calculus 2. She can then do whatever is necessary to sections and students’ schedules to give the greatest number of students that class without letting things get too complicated.

Whether we choose classes based on preference sheets or lottery, it is the people, the administration, the teachers, and, of course, the Deans who make our schedules possible. Therefore, the system needs to make their convenience optimal for our schedules to be done right and to our greatest advantage.

 

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