VOLUME 8, ISSUE 7 (JUNE 2011)

TEACHERISMS

Friday, June 03, 2011 By Isabel Gadd ’13

Dr. Mazie: “Your seminar project is like a relationship: at the beginning you’re excited by the prospect of something new, but sometimes you realize you’ve chosen the wrong mate and need to tweak your research question. Or after a while it becomes a sad marriage that has lost its spark. If you want to kindle that excitement again, perhaps you just need to go in deeper.” [Pause. Covers face with hands.] “I’m hereby forbidding myself from using metaphors ever again.”

Ms. Fu: “Pay attention to your tones. You don’t talk to dead chickens! You don’t talk to cock! You talk to taxi drivers!”

Ms. Fu: “Sometimes you want to kill somebody. You kill him a couple times, he’s still jumping! So in Chinese we use the resultative complement to make it absolutely clear that he’s dead.”

Student: “Do you watch Dora the Explorer every week?”

Dr. Hernandez: “I don’t watch Dora, Dora watches me.”

Mr. Gagstetter: “How many screwballs does it take to open a gym mat?”

Student: “Dr. Johnson, I don’t understand.”

Prof. Johnson: “I know you don’t understand.”

All Teacherisms are published and transcribed with the explicit permission of the teachers being quotes.

If you have a Teacherism and would like to submit it, join the Facebook group “BHSEC Teacherisms: The Bardvark Column,” or email them to:

isabelseckmangadd@gmail.com

 

 

TEEN ART GALLERY: CREATING TOMORROW

Nika Sabasteanski ’12

This summer, a select group of BHSEC students and other NYC kids will be presenting their artwork at the Teen Art Gallery, created by Audrey Banks, on 30th Street between Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue in the Open Center Building. Opening at 6 PM on July 7th and running through August 4th, the show will feature the art of New York City students aged 12 to 19. Audrey Banks, a Y1 student at BHSEC, will be acting as the curator of the gallery and is the director of T.A.G. T.A.G’s mission statement is, “to redefine who can be a working artist as well as provide an opportunity for talented young artists to submerge themselves in the art world early” in addition to providing them the rare and much coveted opportunity of displaying in a gallery.

Audrey has been instrumental in soliciting teens around New York City to submit their artwork and now will have the onerous task of selecting 25 pieces from the 400 submissions that T.A.G has received. As a young artist without the means or opportunity to exhibit her work, she complained to a friend that she had no where to begin her artistic career and fortunately, they contacted the Open Center which was more than willing to host their event. Audrey commented that, “I have wanted to open up a gallery like this for a very long time for I have come to find talented young artists, many of whom are already interested in exhibiting their art, who have no where to show their works simply because of their age and their lack of knowledge on how to go about this (this is a dilemma I have come upon as well).”

Yet through great ingenuity, a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, the project has now come to fruition. The laborious task of handing out fliers, advertising and networking so that they have additional contacts, has left the students in a more suitable position for their endeavor. In a clever and almost Machiavellian maneuver, Audrey decided to open the gallery with an established company’s name behind them. However, next year she plans on moving to a larger and more ambitious space off Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This new venue for teen artists is interesting and will benefit students without an outlet for their creativity and will provide them with a real world experience about showing in a gallery. The skills and responsibilities that will be attained from this experience should prove valuable not only for career-oriented students but also for artists who want to test their luck as little fish in a big pond.

 

 

SIMON’S ROCK TRIP 2011: OPED

Ella Fornari ’12

Upon seeing the schedule for the Year 1 Simon’s Rock trip all I could see was the 4:30 wake-up time. Aside from this shock I was excited to delve into the experiences with college tours and college preparation that the trip was intended to provide us with. For those who don’t know, the Simon’s Rock trip takes place every spring and takes Year 1 students to Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts where they stay for four days. Five buses then transport the 200 plus students to different college campuses around New England and upstate New York. I had been college touring prior to this trip, but was interested to see new schools that I had not previously considered and spend time with my friends in the process.

The first day of the trip we participated in mock admissions, in which we through fake applications and played the role of admissions officer. The fake candidates were ridiculous. A stand out even had the email smooth@yahoo.com, and many joked that the entire selection process should be based around the students’ wacky email addresses. This exercise didn’t help me figure out my own application, but certainly put the whole review process and difficulty of making admissions decisions into perspective. Perhaps this wasn’t the best activity to do with hyper-anxious students who are already freaking out about the college admissions process, but regardless it was definitely helpful.

Early the next morning we arose and boarded our separate buses to begin our touring. Tours included schools such as Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan, Skidmore, and Trinity, just to name a few. I was happily selected to ride on the SUNY Albany, Union, Skidmore bus. While the militaristic architecture of SUNY Albany, was not my style, I appreciated the tunnels they had beneath the classrooms so students didn’t have to be exposed the elements. The next stop at Union was fantastic. However, the tour guide’s genius decision to wear flip-flops on the tour allowed for some amusing moments. On college tours in general, the tour guide will walk backwards so that he or she can interact with the prospective students, a feat very difficult and slightly amusing when impeded by flip flops. It seemed that we were stopping every second for our guide to retrieve his shoes from the ground, or brace him as he was about to fall. Other than the slapstick routine, Union seemed to impress a lot of students. We then departed for Skidmore, which up until this point I had not even considered. Upon arriving on campus and exploring the grounds, I quickly realized how appropriate and wonderful the school was for me. If I had not visited I would not have thought twice about applying, which just goes to show how important touring a school can be.

The 4:30 wake-up the next morning somehow wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. Half asleep (possibly more than that) everyone got up and boarded their separate buses yet again only to fall sound asleep once safely on the bus. Tours were conducted for BHSECers throughout Boston and Upstate New York, depending on the assigned bus route. After the three tours in one day everyone felt like a pro at touring. The tours and specifically guides at each school became deciding factors on how people felt about the schools. For example, people didn’t feel a connection with the abrupt and hurried SUNY Albany guide after an unengaged tour and thus had a negative impression about the school. In contrast, there was not one person in my group who didn’t come away from Tufts without loving it after a tour given by a member of the school‘s Quidditch team. I was surprised by the general consensuses on a certain school by my peers, knowing they couldn’t all be interested in exactly the same elements of a college. The tours themselves were crucial in how I, along with all my peers chose which schools we liked the best.

Throughout this trip I was able to pinpoint characteristics that I wanted in a school, as well as list new schools I intend on applying to. I also found out more about what I did or didn’t like and thus discovered more about my personality and goals in life. The trip instilled a strange sense of togetherness in my grade as well, which I certainly didn’t expect. Before the trip people joked about it being a “bonding experience. ” I don’t know about bonding but I definitely saw many people breaking away from BHSEC’s somewhat rigid social groups as well as interacting with BHSEC Queens students. Of course after the four days of being together, not sleeping, and running around touring, people were more hostile than anything. Other than learning about what I wanted from a school, and what my classmates wanted I realized each school we visited had at least one thing in common: self serve soft serve ice cream in the dining hall, an absolute must when narrowing down your list.

 

 

HOPE FOR JAPAN: OP-ED REPORT

Isabelle St. Clair ’13

March 11, 2011 seemed like a regular Friday to me and probably to all of BHSEC and the entire world as well. But the Earth had other plans to keep life, as we knew it, from continuing Friday’s normality. About 6,800 miles away from New York under the swirling blue waves of the Pacific Ocean, the seabed was shifting and its plates were subducting. Erupting 75 miles east off the coast of Japan, an earthquake violently shook the ocean floor and the land immediately around it. Within the blink of an eye, this ordinary Friday transformed into a day of loss, terror, destruction, and pain.

Imagine the ground trembling and everything swaying, yet you can do absolutely nothing. Visualize walls moving uncontrollably and the ground spinning beneath you, yet you can only tightly hold onto whatever you can find. Fear builds, since you don’t know how long the shaking is going to last, how much stronger it might get, or how the rest of the world is coping with it. You are completely helpless. For me, it’s hard to understand the panic earthquakes cause and the feelings welling up inside as it hits.

The earthquake in Japan convulsed with a magnitude of 8.9 Mw for six minutes, prompting only the beginning of a domino effect of devastation. On land, the buildings quivered, the ground shuddered, and the people feared the worst. In the ocean, the sea was fighting with itself, generating tremendous waves one after the other. The quake created a tsunami, which headed toward mainland Japan at frightening speed. The waves reached 125 feet before crashing down on the towns along the Japanese eastern shore. The power of the waves and the energy of the earthquake came roaring toward Japan, demolishing everything they could touch. The forceful waves surged forward, moving cars and houses, and leaving rubble inland at least six miles. They engulfed everything within seconds, leaving nothing behind. Many millions of homes that were not destroyed were left without running water or electricity.

New threats permeated Japan as fires blazed and nuclear plants crashed. Three nuclear reactors suffered explosions due to the hydrogen gas that had built up within the outer-containment buildings after the cooling system failed. The release of radiation became a new threat and thousands were forced to evacuate. High levels of iodine were found in fish and more toxins were found in other foods making food scarce and damaging the Japanese economy. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees and a shortage of food, water, shelter, medicine, and fuel still three months after the fact. Life has taken a drastic turn for those living in Japan and the world it is apart of.

There are thousands of deaths, thousands of injured, and more missing, and these numbers grow everyday. The cost of the earthquake and tsunami is predicted to be more that $300 billion. There are 25 million tons of rubble and debris. Is our imagination big enough to understand life half way around the world? Here in New York it is hard to understand what it must be like in Japan right now and what is will be like in months to come. Sure, we wear wristbands that say, “Hope for Japan”, construct thousands of paper cranes, and donate money, but this is never going to be enough. We have to remember what has happened, but with the busy activity of everyday life I sometimes forget what is happening in Japan. It is hard to think about the rest of world when you are concentrating on the life immediately around you. We just need to acknowledge the events that have taken place, remember them, and learn from them as well. The lessons cannot be defined now, they can only be defined through the passage of time as we bear witness to Japan’s hardships and unity.

 

 

LET’S EXCHANGE THOUGHTS!

James Marlow ’12 and Shannon Grant ’12

Welcome to the last Let’s Exchange Thoughts article of the year!

Jmarlow and Sgrant are thrilled to answer your questions and would be even more thrilled if you all sent it some more questions.

“30 Rock” is over for the season. What shows should I watch to fill the void in my soul?

Have you ever considered reading a book, instead of being glued to Netflix?

The LET team suggests (re) watching “Arrested Development”, because…well there’s no excuse not to.

If I ever need a laugh whilst paroozing the web, to which sites should I go?

While classics like Texts From Last Night and Overheard in New York (where BHSEC is featured semi-frequently) almost always bring the laughs, Yahoo! Answers also is a source of pure laughter/ horror. Questions like “Would you like to be friends with Charlie Sheen?” and even scarier ones are all over the site. It will either leave you laughing because it is hysterical or crying because you may doubt some of humanity.

Is New York City an archipelago?

Yes. Despite Sgrant’s continued reservations, Jmarlow is certain of the fact that our beloved Gotham is an archipelago. In addition to Manhattan, Long Island, and Staten Island, there are 29 other islands within city limits. Even the only borough on the mainland, The Bronx has 11 islands.

What’s a good, refreshing, summer drink?

While iced coffee is always a good choice, Sgrant personally recommends an egg cream, which contrary to its name does not contain egg, nor cream. It consists of milk, seltzer and (usually) vanilla or chocolate syrup. Jmarlow recommends Mango Lassi, a refreshing Indian drink that consists of mangoes, yogurt, milk, and sugar. It’s sweet, soothing, and absolutely delicious.

Y d0 pple 1n$1$+ 0n +yp1ng l1k3 d1$?

When Sgrant and Jmarlow text others, they insist on using proper English grammar. Nobody knows why people type like this. It’s neither functional, nor aesthetically pleasing. They may have had an excuse when most phones used number inputs for texting, but now most phones have QWERTY keyboards and autocorrect. Next time someone texts you in L337, please chastise them.

Jmarlow and Sgrant want to wish you a spectacular summer and are anxious to receive any and all of your LET questions over the summer and next year!

 

 

THE DEATH OF OSAMA BIN LADEN

Jack Jenkins ’12

On May 2nd, the most infamous criminal in America’s recent past was slain, after ten years of searching and months of CIA surveillance of his hideout in Abbatobad, a large Pakistani city. Even after bin Laden’s suspicious burial at sea, and Obama’s refusal to release his dead picture, has been laid to rest by Al Qaeda vowing revenge on internet forums, some issues still remain.

When president Obama announced the success of SEAL Team 6, the special forces team which killed bin Laden, the nation went wild. Throngs of ecstatic and “unified” citizens mobbed the white house lawn, chanting and singing the national anthem. Whether bin Laden’s death can be celebrated as a mission accomplished, or if it is better thought of as a bittersweet moment in an imprudent war on terror, whether the event will finally lay to rest the American stigma of Muslims or if it will give it more momentum, what is to come is relatively predictable. His deputy Ayman al-Zawahri will probably step in to take the dead man’s place, following the same agenda and inspired by their leader’s murder. SEAL Team 6 killed a prominent terrorist and thwarted a 9/11 anniversary attack, but, as the president maintained, the war is not over and there is still more progress to be made.

There will always be those that call extensive prima facie counter-terrorism courageous but insane, in which case Obama’s call for continued servitude and sacrifice would be appreciated. But if the death marks anything substantial on America’s foreign policy, I believe, Pakistan’s allegiance to America has been discredited. Osama was not hiding out in a cave somewhere near or past the border of Afghanistan as we were led to believe with those o so humorous political cartoons – his hideout was eight times the size of other houses in the area and protected by high walls, yet the terrorist’s presence there was not noticed by the police station across the street. It is true that Pakistan was responsible for the forty arrests of some of Osama’s colleagues and is interrogating his wives for information which would lead to further arrests, but its actions, or lack of action, has cast doubt upon its sympathy to the American cause of finding and disarming terrorism.

As we have learned in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is impossible to win a war efficiently without the total backing of the local population: A kernel of wisdom in the philosophically barren field of “USA! USA! USA!”

 

 

WHAT UP WITH ALL OF THE GRAFFITI? A LOOK AT THE CHALK BOARDS

Alyssa Freeman ’12

The first comment that I heard from students when they saw the black chalkboards covering what were previously plain white walls was, “Oh, that is so Bard!” No sooner did the students walk into school on Monday morning were chalk masterpieces lining the hallways. “The enemy of the heir beware,” one board forewarned. I think I even saw a mathematical equation.

In the spirit of creativity, Dr. Lerner supported a new project, in conjunction with Whitney Bates and other faculty members. The chalkboards are located on every floor so they could easily be used for weekly announcements. They are located near the CTO office, Attendance Office, Science Dept 5th floor and near the English office. Students are invited to write their thoughts, in any form of free association or self- expression that is acceptable: ideas, poems, messages, sketches, or graffiti. The intent of this project is to give students the opportunity to actualize their ideas through words. Whereas the new club, Bard Socially Together and Naturally Diverse Stand, or the acronym B.STAND, offers the opportunity for political activism through action and organizing, the community boards promote activism through the expression of ideas. Unlike seemingly all other BHSEC activities students do not have to come to scheduled meetings, write articles, or submit work under deadline. For the community board, a student, or faculty member simply writes whatever is on her or his mind.

The boards are literally a free speech area. In addition to free form ideas, the boards are also intended to bring the community together and are in accordance with the spirit of Community Day. The boards are made of black chalkboard paint; the surface is differentiated from the wall by its texture and color. Originally students used only white chalk, but now all colors are available for use. The boards promote communication of all sorts. Previous art pieces have included: bears, alligator, students’ names in bubble letters, mazes, and drawings of teachers. On Community Day, some students were assigned to write on the boards, as part of their advisory’s assignment. Messages celebrating BHSEC identity such as the years of upcoming graduating classes, dominated the boards.

Controversy about the boards has emerged in terms of who should monitor what is written, and if there should be censorship. James Marlow, a Year One, feels very positive about the boards and believes that BHSEC students are mature enough to be able to judge the appropriateness of postings. Ms. Anna Azeglio, Guidance Counselor and Ms Whitney Bates, Coordinator of Student Activities, had some concerns about whether students would adhere to a reasonable code and limit offensive comments. However, there is a feeling amongst the administration that students have the right to express themselves. Juliet Glazer, another Year One, agrees with Marlow that the administration’s willingness to trust the student’s use of the board is positive and indicative of a coalescing, mature community. Esther Matthew, a 10th grader, believes that chalk boards actually makes the school look better since they simply add character and color. She commented that it is great that students are able to express themselves.

Thus far nothing posted has been challenged and it is unclear where the boundaries lie. It will be interesting to observe the changes over time: increasing timidity or boldness? Whitney Bates hopes that the boards will continue to bring out creativity and will be a presence next year.

 

 

NEW AMSTERDAM

Nika Sabasteanski ’12

There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride, and exultancy. It lays its hand upon a man’s bowels; he grows drunk with ecstasy; he grows young and full of glory, he feels that he can never die. Walt Whitman

Since I began this semester with an article about 9/11, it seemed fitting given the recent death of Osama bin Laden, to conclude the year with one on the same topic. Obama, most likely at the behest of his campaign managers which does not discredit him, but rather proves that he read The Prince, claimed that our nation was finally safe. I for one however, felt much safer the day before we checkmated their prized king. All I could think of when I boarded the F that morning was the inevitable retaliations that would once again challenge New York City and the dreaded feelings that I experienced at age seven returned with learned pungency now at age seventeen. I woke up that morning and my mother warned me to pack some water and charge my cell phone, my rudimentary escape kit, since we had killed bin Laden. There was no tone of finality in her voice, as there was in those of the newscasters though. They sat in their red white and blue polyester suits on stage in the twilight zone, interviewing people whose vengeance had finally been acted out for them by proxy through the skill of stealthy Navy seals and the covert ops of the CIA. They showed pictures of students in Washington D.C, drunk with a lethal combination of booze and American blood thirst, proudly boasting that he had it coming, that finally and apparently they knew it all along, he was dead. They showed the firemen in Time’s Square, cautiously watching the NBC newsreel displaying the ultimate conviction that they had dreamed about for ten bloody long years. But for me, the news that awoke me on that fine Monday morning was a bit anticlimactic. After all, we had been on a perpetual manhunt for a decade. No bandit in history could compete with the wanted signs that the US put up for his capture. He was the biggest, baddest opponent we had ever seen and yet until May 2, 2011 I don’t think that I had thought of him, I mean really thought of him personally, in a long time. There was no sigh of relief on anyone’s faces that morning on the train. The common expression was a humble resignation and realization that we were screwed…again.

I don’t claim to have experienced 9/11 the way that many did. I didn’t lose anyone that I loved in body, nor did I see any images that haunted me. I was hidden from the world by my parents as most of us fortunate enough to have not been personally affected, were in the second grade. For adults, I think that while they have a deeper intellectual and emotional connection to that day, they also have had to grapple with the political aspects at hand. Now at 17, I have now come to terms with the political strategies and repercussions of the attack, but at age seven I walked through that Tuesday like a dream. My memory is fragmented in the way that children’s memories often are before they turn ten, and I witnessed what I did through a lens of naïveté that I can only now covet.

Dana’s mommy comes into the room with another woman who I don’t know. The woman I don’t know is crying and so is Mrs. Ferretti, but Dana’s mommy looks angry and she says a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I think I’ve heard of it, oh wait some of the other kids are crying, maybe I should cry, but I don’t really know why, after all planes crash all the time so I try to think of a dead puppy. The mommies leave and Dana looks like she’s crying but she doesn’t know why either and then we all go down to Mr. McGary’s music class and hang our back packs on the pegs. I’m not thinking about the songs we’re singing though, I don’t even know what they are, I’m watching Mrs. Ferretti stand outside of our classroom crying, she’s still crying and her cheeks are getting black paint on them like a clown. Mr. McGary stops class and goes to see her. I’m not supposed to hear but I hear what she says anyway, something about a time and then Jim is still there and he hasn’t called, and then Mr. McGary is hugging her and telling her he doesn’t know what to do. What kind of grownup is he? Somehow or another we all go to lunch but I’m still thinking about Jim being somewhere and not calling and planes crashing into buildings that I’ve never been to, but now I have to eat my lunch and my mommy wrapped my sandwich in tinfoil and put it in my sparkly pink lunch box with flowers, that has a special secret compartment for sandwiches such as these, I have chocolate milk too and I trade someone a grape to open it up for me. But I only get a few bites in before Mr. McGary comes to my table and says Nika your mommy is here to bring you home and he packs up my lunch for me and holds my hand until I find her. She takes my hand from his and looks at him the way grownups look at each other without saying anything, like when they spell a word out so you can’t understand even though you can, but I don’t know what it means this time. We walk out into the playground and down the ramp on 2nd street and there’s this smell that makes me cough. We’re at war, she says to me and I say feeling like now I know why I should cry, will we have to move, and where will grandma and grandpa go if we move away? I don’t hear her answer because now we’re at home and I’m looking at the Venetian blinds and thinking about all the movies I’ve seen about war. In the Sound of Music they all escape in the dead of night to a convent where the nuns sabotage the Nazi’s model A and in Drums Along the Mohawk the Indians burn down the pioneers’ cabins and their wheat and they have to dodge the arrows as they run through the woods to the fortress with babies in their arms. Maybe daddy will have to go away and fight I think but his legs are crooked so maybe they’ll let him stay and grandpa’s too old, but in Over There James Cagney was pretty old, so maybe they’ll let my grandpa play drums like he did in the other war and sing to the young soldiers. No one tells me that wars aren’t like this anymore, I have to find that out for myself five years later in middle school when we do bomb drills in the hallway, and then nine years later when I finally find the newspapers that they hid from me, and then I know that this is different because the soldiers aren’t wearing uniforms on either side, so how are you supposed to know who to shoot?

Our world changed that day so much so that children born after 9/11 experience an entirely different American culture. Our priorities have shifted to fighting a war on an ideological concept while protecting ourselves against an elusive biological and nuclear infantry. The children of today only know that we had a mission to kill an old bearded man in the mountains of Afghanistan or a fortress near Pakistan because from that ivory tower, he had successfully murdered over 3,000 people. They only know the paranoid New York where German Shepherds sniff out minorities in the subway stations where we walk through X-ray vision scanners at the airport and cower when a plane sounds too low. Now that bin Laden, the cause of all of this turmoil is dead, they know the America that rejoices in revenge and their New York has not changed for the better. Their world is in a permanent after stage. It’s the world that is a constant source of political material for “Saturday Night Live” and philosophical debates for NPR. The goal in a war is to protect your country: its ethos, its people and its mission statement. We sacrifice our young people so that the next generation of young people after the ones before them are all slaughtered, can live the country’s dream. We have, in political terms, defeated the head of our enemy. It follows then that they must surrender, we must have won and now our children who have only known war will know the clear-cut world that Opie Taylor lived in whistling away with his father as they went fishing. Now that we’ve won, don’t we get to set the terms? The point is we haven’t won, if that wasn’t already obvious. We have only won in theory, but in reality we haven’t even scratched the surface, which is why May 2nd was anticlimactic. His troops can apparently proceed and proliferate without their figurehead and we have just given them a new martyr to commit jihads in the name of. If it is a victory, it is not a political one, rather it is the abstract closure needed by most Americans.

I however, am scared for tomorrow and the next day and the day when I have a child and they have a child, and the same people who want us dead keep recruiting and brainwashing their children. While I do hope that it wins Obama reëlection, I cannot help but wonder what is to become of our New York City. For some reason, the extremists have chosen it as the target of their hostility and thus it can be inferred that somehow, the iconoclastic un-American metropolis that we proudly inhabit epitomizes all that is fundamentally American for them. We define ourselves as the black sheep that would secede if it weren’t for all that damn paperwork, and yet somehow they want to destroy America through New York. Perhaps it is because of our cockroach like resilience in the face of absurd odds, the fact that we unite when we are broken and have survived the apocalypse as one that they want to end us. We are their biggest challenge, because we are the only city left in the states that remembers what the country is all about.

 

 

TEACHER FEATURE: SUSAN CHEN

Daniel Moon ’13

In the fall of 2010, I was introduced to Mrs. Susan Chen, the new Chinese teacher, who would eventually teach me Chinese for the rest of the school year. When I first met her, I thought she would bring something new to BHSEC, and I thought correctly. Not only is Mrs. Chen enthusiastic but she is also genuinely concerned about her students learning Chinese. On the first day, she walked vibrantly across the classroom asking students questions in Chinese and expecting enthusiastic responses. I, and many other students, enjoy the novelty of Mrs. Chen’s method of teaching. She firmly believes that language is not only meant to be written and to be read, but also to be spoken constantly in order to master it. Not a day goes by in our Chinese class in which she does not have a lively conversation in Chinese with her students. Her method of actively conversing with students in Chinese brought me away from the mundane process of reciting dialogues in the textbook and tediously writing characters—some of which have a tedious number of strokes. On some days, Mrs. Chen would give a cultural lesson on China from her own personal knowledge. We would casually sit back and listen to her speak in an intriguing way about the development of green technology in China, watch a Chinese film, or learn how to write Chinese calligraphy. I wanted to know more about our lively Chinese teacher, so I asked her a few questions about herself.

Susan Chen was born in 1952 in Taiwan, where she and her family lived for most of her life. She attended high school and college in Taiwan and later aspired to work hard in order that she might discover what she wanted to pursue. In college she studied English, which helped her find a job. Her first position was working as a secretarial bank employee and dealing with international businesses. In 2006, Mrs. Chen retired early and found the time to finally visit her son who was studying in New York at that time. She came as a tourist but soon she fell in love with New York City and eventually studied in New York. In 2008, she finished a program called “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” (TESOL) in the graduate school at City College. She became a teacher and taught Chinese at Berlitz and other language centers. Soon, she found a job opening at BHSEC and started working here in the fall of 2011. Besides teaching, Mrs. Chen likes to go to museums, attend concerts, and to sing in a choral group. She is inspired by New Yorkers and their energetic and fast paced city lives. “They [New Yorkers] never think that they are old,” she commented with a smile. She is curious about New Yorkers and their lifestyle. I remember in class she once said, Wei shenme Niuyue ren xihuan hei se de? (Why do New Yorkers like the color black?). Our class did not exactly know why, but we like to entertain possible answers when she asks us questions like this.

During Mrs. Chen’s time at BHSEC, she plans on continuing to teach Chinese to students and trying to make the students have an “appetite and passion” for the Chinese language.

 

 

JANE EYRE, REINVENTED

Madeleine Webber ’13

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will- Brontë

Everyone always says, “the book is better than the movie,” however in the case of Jane Eyre I surprisingly found that the movie surpassed my expectations. I would not go all the way to say that it was superior to the book but it was definitely better than I anticipated. The casting was perfect with Mia Wasikowska (from Alice in Wonderland) playing Jane Eyre and Michael Fassbender as the brooding Mr. Rochester. The movie captured each character’s persona perfectly and proved their timelessness through their contemporary relevance. While several characters were omitted and some roles were exaggerated, these were insignificant differences and did not make the movie any less pleasurable or authentic.

The movie as a whole was pleasurable, but when comparing and contrasting it with the book there were a few noticeable deviations. For starters, the layout of the movie was completely different from that of the book. The movie begins with an adult Jane, destitute and wandering through a field while the book starts with Jane as a child living with her aunt, Mrs. Reed. This inventive structure of the movie is a minor difference, but nonetheless a tangible one that changes how the audience perceives Jane. Quite honestly, I actually preferred the layout of the movie since it made the plot feel more mysterious and uncertain, whereas the actions in the book felt much more predictable.

Other, more significant differences included the exaggerated role of Mrs. Fairfax, Thornfield Hall’s housekeeper. In Brontë’s romantic novel, Mrs. Fairfax is of little significance and at most has three or four lines. However, in the movie she becomes a notable character who constantly provides Jane with advice and misinformed gossip. Another difference is the portrayal of the River family. In Brontë’s novel, St. John Rivers and his sisters are much more reclusive and pious than the film expresses. Furthermore, in the novel, the Rivers are also Jane’s only blood relatives besides Mrs. Reed—a vital piece of information in the book. However, in the movie this relation was never mentioned.

With the exception of these differences, the movie ultimately followed the book accurately. The characters were the same despite the elaboration of Mrs. Fairfax and the exclusion of a few insignificant characters. The most enjoyable similarity was the movie’s script, which followed the book’s dialogue with precision.

Regardless of the differences, I found this movie very enjoyable. The director Cary Joji Fukunaga captures the desire, destitution, and secrecy of Charlotte Brontë’s Gothic romance. As well as preserving the themes of the beloved novel, Fukunaga’s cast perfectly portrays Brontë’s characters. Mia Wasikowska, 21, embodies Jane’s passion, honesty and devotion with perfection. Wasikowska’s small figure, tightly parted hair and reticence fulfill the essential plainness and frailty of Jane Eyre. As for Michael Fassbender, he impeccably fulfilled the dark, mysterious Mr. Rochester who has timelessly captured the hearts of readers.

The film is wonderful for both Jane Eyre diehards and first timers who are just dipping their toes into the world of English aristocracy. It was an astute portrayal of the ageless romance by Charlotte Brontë complimented by an avante garde approach by Fukunaga and Mia Wasikowska’s haunting portrayal of Jane Eyre.

 

 

SUMMER IN THE CITY

Hannah Frishberg ’13

As the school year winds down, summer venues are gearing up for another culture-packed summer in New York City. From punk rock to Shakespeare and Manhattan’s Rumsey Playfield to the Bronx’s Soundview Park, the five boroughs are sure to be an explosion of art and entertainment this 2011 season.

Schedules could be filled entirely by Shakespeare performances alone this summer! The Public Theatre will be showing the two classic “problem” plays “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “Measure for Measure” at its beloved Shakespeare in the Park showcase at the Delacorte Theatre. Entirely free, tickets for Shakespeare in the Park are given out the morning of each performance and potential theatre-goers wait in line outside the Delacorte. This year, lines should be relatively shorter than those previous due to the absence of any major celebrities in either cast. The dates for the shows are quiet sporadic, though, with “All’s Well That Ends Well” showing on June 11-12, 16-17, 19-21, 23-25, and July 2-3, 5-7, 13-15, 20, 25-27, while “Measure for Measure” can be seen on June 6-7, 13, 15, 18, 26-30, and July 8-9, 11-12, 16, 18-19, 22-23, 28-30. For a more formal experience, The Lincoln Center Festival will be offering a six-week residency of the Royal Shakespeare Company (July 6 – August 14) at the armory. The company will present five plays, “As You Like It”, “Julius Caesar”, “King Lear”, “Romeo and Juliet,” and “The Winter’s Tale”, tickets range from $40 – $200. Finally, the Classical Theatre of Harlem will be performing “Henry V” for free at Marcus Garvey Park (August 5 – 6), and at East River Park (August 27 – 29).

In addition to Shakespeare, an abundance of film festivals will also be happening in the city this summer. With 24 screenings in June and July, Rooftop Films shows underground movies and live music outdoors and all over the city, with the majority of venues in Brooklyn. Tickets are reasonably priced (mainly under $20), with the occasional free show. Go to http://rooftopfilms.com/2011/schedule/ for more info and a complete list of films. For last year’s blockbusters, from The Social Network to The Town, Hudson River Park will also be screening movies outdoors for its annual River Flicks Thursday movie nights (July 6 – August 17), completely free.

And what’s summer without some music? This year, Central Park SummerStage will be holding over 100 free performances in addition to its benefit shows. Some highlights of the extensive list of free concerts include Latin American group Xcstacy (July 13), rapper Slick Rick (July 12), indie bands We Are Scientists (June 23), Friendly Fires / The Naked and Famous / Cults (August 7), and Wavves (August 25), the annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (August 27), and pioneers of rap music The Sugarhill Gang (August 2). To support these events, benefit concerts will be held throughout the summer, tickets pricing in the $30 – $40 range (for sold out concerts, check stubhub.com for tickets). Benefit shows include The Script (June 4), Florence + the Machine (June 24), Wiz Khalifa (July 25), Lykke Li (August 1), Guster (August 8), and Sara Bareilles (August 31). For a full list of concerts, dates, and venues, go to http://www.summerstage.org/

On top of SummerStage’s diverse lineup, Celebrate Brooklyn! has also prepared a sundry program for this summer’s concert-goers. Highlights of this year’s list of free shows include Andrew Bird (June 10), Los Lobos (July 8), and Ra Ra Riot (August 5). Like SummerStage, there will also be benefit concerts to support the free events, all tickets $35 (if sold out, again, check stubhub.com for tickets). Benefit shows include The Decembrists / Best Coast (June 14), Animal Collective (July 12), Sufjan Stevens (August 2), Bon Iver (August 10), and Cut Copy (August 11). All shows are at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn.

Although SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn! dominate the summer music scene with the

largest quantity of performances, tons of other organizations have also booked bands to make sure this summer is one of the noisiest yet. Bowery Presents has Portugal. The Man (June 3), Against Me! (June 7), Architecture in Helisnki (June 16), Marina & the Diamonds (June 21), Yes / Styx (August 7), Mötley Crüe Poison (July 20), and Further featuring Phil Lesh & Bob Weir (August 26). Bowery Presents shows span a large array of venues in the city as well as upstate and New Jersey and tickets are anywhere from $35 – $75; for a full list of concerts, dates, and venues see their website http://www.bowerypresents.com. Williamsburg Waterfront also has a great lineup this year, planning on hosting both its annual benefit concerts and Free Sunday Pool Parties. Benefit concerts include Thievery Corporation (June 24), Kid Cudi (July 6), Death Cab for Cutie (August 2), and Sonic Youth (August 12). While no specifics have yet been released for the Free Sunday Pool Parties, they will most likely be posted by the end of June on the Waterfront’s site: http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/listings/h2oshows. While Governor’s Island has not yet released its lineup for either the Beach or Colonel’s Row, tickets are now available for the annual Governor’s Ball, with a lineup including Girl Talk, Passion Pit, Pretty Lights, Empire of the Sun, and Neon Indian (June 18). The full concert schedule should be released soon at http://www.thebeachconcerts.com/. In addition to River Flicks, Hudson River Park will also be supporting River Rocks at Pier 54, with three free shows, Tune Yards / Austra (July 14), Metronomy / Class Actress (July 28), and Deer Tick (August 11). In addition, guitar man David Ippolito will play acoustic in the park every Friday at sunset from June 10 – August 19 (excluding July 1), and the annual Blues BBQ will perform 7 hours of live blues music (August 21), both events entirely free. Finally, The Black Eyed Peas will be performing a free concert in Central Park (June 9).

As for festivals, the Clearwater Festival on the east-shore of the Hudson River (June 18 – 19) this year includes Josh Ritter, Suzanne Vega, Pete Seeger, the Low Anthem, and the Indigo Girls. The Siren Festival in Coney Land has not yet released its lineup, but last year it included such acts as Matt & Kim and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists.

For those who’d prefer Broadway or classical music, check out http://nyphil.org/attend/summer/index.cfm?page=parks for information on the New York Philharmonic in the Parks free performances, and http://www.bryantpark.org/plan-your-visit/broadway.html for free Broadway performances in Bryant Park on Thursdays throughout the summer.

So as the temperatures rise and AC units kick in, put on your dancing shoes, because neither Phish nor Sonic Youth are touring California this summer, and New York City is where it’s at.

 

 

BHSEC-MANHATTAN’S DWINDLING DIVERSITY

Alexi Block Gorman ’12

“Oh, there’s definitely a difference,” said one tenth grader at BHSEC Queens who wished to remain anonymous. “I didn’t want to go to Bard One ’cause I’d heard that they weren’t at all diverse,” she continued. The implicit statement was that while BHSEC Manhattan is too racially polarized, BHSEC Queens is racially diverse enough to make a person of any ethnicity feel comfortable. In fact, it was only this school year that the percentage of white students at BHSEC Manhattan rose above the percent of Hispanic students. Since the Queens campus first opened, it seems BHSEC Manhattan has consistently had about twice as many white students as they did, and our numbers continue to rise.

There has been an undeniable increase in the percentage of white students at both campuses, however less drastic it may be for the Queens campus. What makes this not-so-gradual shift away from diversity more prevalent this year from years before when the trend just began to emerge, is that the 2010-11 school year marks the first year for BHSEC Manhattan where the number of white students is over half of the student population. While this may have only come to the attention of admissions officers now, who have always boasted of our past years’ favorable demographics, it may also have been affecting students’ choices between Queens and Manhattan for years now.

While to the 53% majority of our school the hallways would appear diverse, if you ask your friends in the 47% minority who aren’t white, many will inform you, without any melodrama or fanfare, that it feels very polarized, even isolating, to be black, Hispanic, or even Asian at our school. Some of those friends will explain to you that they feel like they are being “caucasianized.” They struggle with two worlds: one which they associate with their ethnicity, and one in which they must adapt and coexist with the white majority. Our school does not have much social stratification (that is, we don’t really have a “food chain”) but we are acknowledged to be “clique-y” and those cliques are often racially organized.

While percentages like 14%, 16%, and 13% as demographics for African American, Hispanic, and Asian, respectively, make us uneasy, especially when at Queens their white and Asian populations round up to about 30% each, and their Black and Hispanic demographic to about 20% each, opinion about how and whether to take action is varied. In ninth grade, many of us debated affirmative action in Dr.Mazie’s Americas class, and the outcome of such debates could not be easily predicted. While few of us took Fredrick Douglass’ position on personal strength and independence to heart, for some an admissions policy focused on racial diversity seems at odds with our equal-opportunity acceptance mission. However, no one at BHSEC wishes to see a racial majority change the school’s dynamics or student interactions. Perhaps what we can do, other than voice our opinions to the administration about affirmative action, is when students select either campus as an option to place them at the campus in most need of their ethnicity. Perhaps this is too crude a measure, but something must be done if we do not wish to see further racial polarization at such an egalitarian and liberal minded school.

 

 

BHSEC’S NEWEST SIBLING: BHSEC NEWARK TO OPEN IN FALL 2011

Juliet Glazer ’12

Next fall, Bard High School Early College III will open Newark, joining 5 other new schools in the troubled city schools system. Though BHSEC Newark will follow the same model as the first two BHSECs, it will face challenges unique to Newark.

After riots in 1967, much of the middle class population moved out of Newark into the surrounding suburbs. In 1996, Money Magazine listed Newark as the most dangerous city in the nation, where the violent crime rate was six times the national average. Crime did not stop in the streets. Newark has had a succession of corrupt mayors. The last three mayors were indicted on criminal charges. The school district has historically performed badly, and the Newark Public School system has been under state control since 1995.

Now, changes are coming to Newark. Mayor Corey Booker has lowered the violent crime rate by 21 percent, according to the New York Times. In September of 2010, Mayor Booker announced that he had regained control of the Newark School System. In addition, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of facebook, donated 100 million dollars to the Newark schools this year.

Newark’s school system serves 40,000 students with 75 schools, as opposed to New York City’s 1.1 million students and 1,700 schools. The city and school district are predominantly Latino and African American. In addition, 10% of the students in the district are white, and less than 1% are Asian. A large percentage of the population is below the poverty line, and Newark’s high school graduation rate is strikingly low.

Leon Botstein is joining the force to revitalize Newark. Despite the different challenges in Newark, the school will be based on the same model as BHSEC Manhattan and Queens. Dr. Ween will leave BHSEC Manhattan next fall to become the Dean of Studies at BHSEC Newark. “In my mind, I would like for us to do what we do here,” said Dr. Ween. “There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.” In addition, Dr. Seth Halvorson will be a Y1 seminar teacher there in the fall, after just one semester at BHSEC Manhattan. He commented that he is excited, “to build a new school” since he has worked on similar projects in the past.

“You need a place to go if you’re a motivated student,” she said. Newark does not have enough schools that can provide this. Currently, Newark only has 5 magnet schools, so there are few options for motivated students other than private and charter schools. BHSEC will be the only early college in Newark.

The Newark public transportation system is less extensive than the MTA, but BHSEC Newark will be centrally located, near all the transportation lines. The school will be located in a large building that was once a middle school. Though BHSEC will share the building with two or three other schools in its first year, Dr. Ween said she thinks that BHSEC will most likely stay in the building and expand as the other schools leave.

With a principal and just two deans, the administration at BHSEC Newark will be slightly different from BHSEC Manhattan’s. As Dean of Studies, Dr. Ween will have responsibilities similar to those of a vice principal, as well as coordinating scheduling and making academic decisions.

John Weinstein, who currently teaches at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, will be the principal. Mr. Weinstein has a Ph.D. in comic Chinese drama and currently teaches Chinese and theater at Simon’s Rock. He taught both subjects at BHSEC Manhattan in its first year.

The Dean of Students will be Dumaine Williams, a Bard College graduate with a Ph.D. in biology. Both Former BHSEC Principal Raymond Peterson and Dean Martha Olson have also been helping to set up the new school in its first year.

BHSEC Newark will begin this fall with 100 9th graders and 60 Year 1s. The school will reach full enrollment in 2014, with 400 students. The admissions process at BHSEC Newark is similar to BHSEC Manhattan’s process. Students must interview and show proficiency and potential in math and writing.

Dr. Ween said she thought that the students would probably be less prepared than rising freshman at BHSEC Manhattan are, but that she had already met some “fantastic kids.” “I’m very excited to work with them,” she commented.

They will be taught by teachers both with and without PhDs. The school is considering integrating both college teachers and teachers already in the Newark system. Dr. Ween said that she was committed to creating a balance of high school and college teachers so that there will be teachers who “understand the mind of the 14-year old” as well as those who teach on the college level. Some prospective teachers have taught sample classes at BHSEC Manhattan.

Dr. Ween hopes BHSEC Manhattan and Queens will have close ties with their new sibling in Newark. “I hope it will be close in different ways,” said Dr. Ween, referring to the somewhat forced connection between BHSEC Manhattan and Queens. She hopes BHSEC Newark will have a more organic relationship with the two schools, and cited possible distance learning in the virtual classroom, and taking trips together.

Dr. Ween hopes that BHSEC Newark “will give an opportunity to a city that really needs opportunities.”

 

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