VOLUME 9, ISSUE 7 (MAY 2012)


Alexi Block Gorman ’12

As Year Ones, many of us had that friend who, at regular intervals, would give us updates on the page count of his or her culmination-of-sophomore year/Year 2 final project, known in previous years as the “Senior Thesis,” but labeled our Year 2 “Inquiry Project” in the assignments handed out to us in late March/early April. “Can’t go, Part C is due next Monday,” was a common reply on the Wednesday before said impending deadline, but this year the more frequent reply is “Can’t talk, Part C is due in 10 hours.” It is certainly not accurate to think that last year’s graduating class was more proactive about deadlines, but there is a disparity of interest in making this Inquiry Project a real senior thesis between this year’s seniors and last’s.

There are marked differences to explain this: last year’s Y2s were unified by the fact that they all had semi-required reading for this project, and this year two of the well-established Y2 seminar professors, who perhaps had more experience than most with the senior thesis model and who subscribed to its value and import completely, were absent. Yet the difference in attitude, the difference in how much we pay attention to the inquiry projects of ourselves and of others, runs deeper than these adjustments. While it may simply be that different seminar professors bring different values and motivations to the table, there also seems to be a certain lethargy surrounding the Inquiry Project that even the most proactive and invested Y2s have been hard-put to evade.

Last year was, for many of those former-Year-twos, the year of science; most people, it seemed, chose to read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and the media continued recent trends of incorporating scientific explorations into its discussions of issues of social import. Seniors this year seem to be exploring just as many social issues, but often from less formal angles. A number of students are doing violence and capitalism in children’s media, others explore sexism in various forms of recreation, others still craft their own informal studies of interracial friendships at BHSEC itself. All of these by nature of their subject matter or the new Inquiry Project culture, read more like feature articles in a “life styles”-type magazine than a formal thesis concerning a scholarly issue…which seems to be the goal.

Yet perhaps it is the nature of the succeeding generation to overestimate the efforts and achievements of the preceding one. Perhaps they hammed it up for the underclassmen because they knew they had the clout to do so, and we are underwhelmed by the final effect these projects have because we are on the sweeter side of the college application process. Still, from the very beginning of the year there seemed to be a greater sense of exhaustion than our teachers professed to ever have previously witnessed, and one cannot help but wonder if ours is the year of burnt-out-by-stress. Nevertheless, we have found subjects to explore that interest us, and it has been revealing to hear about–and discuss–such a unique variety of projects in seminar class.



Isabel Seckman Gadd ‘13

Student: “Look at all those flies!”

Dr. Hernandez: “Those are not flies, those are my pets. How dare you insult my trained pets! They are trained mini chihuahuas.”

Dr. Hernandez: “You look like you drank too much orange juice. I can tell from your (red) hair. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.”

*Dr. Freund starts projector*

It says:

“How many times Dr. Freund scored a touch down: 1

All students combined: 0”

Dr. Freund: “Ohhhhh, how did that get there!? I am so embarrassed, that’s totally by accident.”

Mr. Mikesh: “Dead babies have been messing up statistics since the 1500s.”

Student: (waiting to sign in) “This line is so long! It’s like Disney World!”

Dr. Lerner: “We should put a sign that says ‘you must be this tall to ride this ride’ on Ms. Stemmer’s door”.

All Teacherisms are printed with the explicit permission from the teachers cited. If you have a funny quote you would like to submit, please post it on the Facebook Teacherisms page or email me at isabelseckmangadd@gmail.com




Isabelle St. Clair ’13

BHSEC was a blur of purple, red, green, blue, and white colors as students proudly showed their school spirit on this year’s Community Day. The smell of food and sweat permeated through the hallways full of students. The blasting music and excited chatter rebounded off the newly clean surfaces in the classrooms. Chalk dust was accidentally inhaled as teams of students drew bold pictures on the chalkboard walls. The markers went rolling from the hands of the card makers and papers flew in the air as students tried to stuff them into their appropriate files. Some students explored the rest of the Lower East Side to lend a hand to those outside the school. And while the dark clouds hovered menacingly over the whole school, Community Day was coming to life.

For the first time since last year’s Community Day, BHSEC was giving back to the school and the neighborhood in all the ways we thought possible. Community Day became a mixture of spring-cleaning, community service, and exciting activities as we reached out and had fun with the community we all belong to but rarely appreciate. Inside the walls of BHSEC, there were multiple cleaning crews scrubbing the dust and dirt, there were students making card for seniors which were to mailed to DOROT, and there were students making signs for the neighborhood music festival that was going to take place that Saturday. The teams of advisories that left the school went beyond BHSEC’s doors to help the community. Some groups went to the senior center, the neighborhood library, the Baruch community center, the daycare, and even the wet fields of the East River Park. Everyone was doing something to help someone else.

After the hours of cleaning, painting, and whatnot we all scrambled to eat the tons of food that came from every BHSEC student household. Those stuck at the end of the lunch line worried that there would not be enough food; the ones in the front worried about people cutting in front of them. Unfortunately, the rain prevented a group picnic on the field and we were confined to the cleaned classrooms, making them dirty once again. Although it did not rain, the school planned indoor activities ranging from a showing of Mean Girls to Scrabble to a ping-pong tournament. There were more competitions like the Frisbee toss (seniors won) and tug-of-war (9th grade and faculty dominated the field) to conclude our Community Day.

Lisa Goldenberg, the student’s activities coordinator, heralded it an “overall success, even though the weather cancelled many plans.” Although the weather was “upsetting, the Student Union and the faculty were able to make the whole day proceed.” “Everyone seemed to have a good time, but there are definite plans for next year to make it even better,” commented Lisa. She plans to have more outside activities, create a preferable rainy day schedule, and deal with the absurdity of the lunch line (such as calling one advisory at a time to come to the cafeteria in a cycle like manner). One of Lisa’s biggest goals for next year is to find a way to keep the Year 2s on campus because they all seemed to wander off after attendance was taken. She thinks it would be interesting to give the seniors more responsibilities on Community Day, where every senior and faculty alike would help run the school. In addition to these improvements, Lisa is thinking about mixing up the grades like our writing and thinking program does so everyone comes together and has a rare chance to really interact.

Community Day is a wonderful moment to help the community and it is the only opportunity for some BHSEC students to ever do community service. It is unfortunate that our school does not require community service hours because of the workload we are loaded with, but we are still missing out on something special. Lisa wonder what could happen if Community Day was very early in the year. If it were earlier, she postulated, more students would realize how rewarding it is to give their time and effort to the community. Once established early in the year, BHSEC could maintain its relationship with the senior center, the daycares, and other centers that would love to have us. We don’t really get involved in the community as in depth as we should. Community Day is a start, but there should be more to get all of BHSEC more involved.




Isabel Seckman Gadd ‘13

Last month, 14 classmates and I left for a two-week exchange trip to China. The main purpose of the trip was to heighten our Mandarin speaking skills, but of course, being a foodie, one of the more attractive experiences was the cuisine. We visited two very different areas of the nation, meaning two different styles of cooking. We spent a period of time in Changsha (長沙), the capital of Hunan (湖南) province, a southern province known for its spicy, chili-filled dishes. In addition to the Hunan province, we spent a significant amount of time in the hugely populated metropolis of Shanghai (上海), known for seafood, dishes cooked with sugar, and “red cooking” (slow braising with sugar and soy sauce). Despite a few inevitable dud meals scattered throughout my visit, my appetite was thoroughly satisfied by the diverse flavors. It was my second visit to China, and I was lucky enough to visit areas different from those I visited during my first time, meaning very new culinary experiences.

During my Chinese home stay in Changsha, my host mother delighted me with her home cooked meals. On more than one occasion, for breakfast she served me delicious, fresh, homemade steamed pork dumplings cooked to succulent perfection with spicy soy dipping sauce. Another day for breakfast, I was given a bowl with a layer of egg beneath a layer of greens beneath a layer of egg noodles, all in a warm broth. This was Eastern comfort food in its finest. For dinner I was frequently served my host sister’s favorite: sweet and sour spare ribs. I’m generally not a big meat eater, but when in China, do as the Chinese do. And I did. And it was worth it. The tender spare ribs were coated in caramelized sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and, as my host sister told me, the secret ingredient: a dash of ketchup. Never have I had such heavenly meat. My family and I also often dined on typical chili-filled Hunan dishes like spicy boiled eggplant.

Shanghai’s cuisine was both similar and different: less spice, more sweetness, and just about the same amount of the expected soy. I was frequently confronted with the offerings from broth noodle restaurants, which were quite a delight. One of my favorite meals I experienced this time in China was a big bowl of soup with rice noodles and baby bok choy, accompanied by the famous Shanghai dish Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐), located in a tiny, dirty hole-in-the-wall restaurant that lacked any real sheen. Some of my classmates were apprehensive about going in, but we decided to give it a try anyway. We were all very delighted. My usual food mantra that appearances are not always a good indicator of food quality was yet again proven correct.

My culinary experiences in this great, flavorful nation were rarely poor. I won’t say I wasn’t beyond relieved to return to the pleasures of Italian (They don’t eat cheese in China! What is this nonsense!? Agh!), Japanese, French, and good ol’ American upon my arrival in the United States, but I still craved that smell of cooking Star Anise and those spicy soy undertones in every meal. I guess this means I have to go back again.




Nika di Liberto Sabasteanski ‘13

My one thought is to get out of New York, to experience something genuinely American – Henry Miller

When I was obtaining my driver’s permit last year, I handed my passport to the clerk in order to identify myself. After perusing the information he needed for a minute or so, as if he had just stumbled across my name, he looked up and said, bastardizing my surname in a way that does not translate to the written word, “Nika Sabasteanski! With a name like that…you could be a taxi driver.” I laughed with him, even though he was fairly serious, thanked him for the career advice and went to take my written exam. On my walk home from the truly Kafkaesque Department of Motor Vehicles, I thought about his assessment of my old world name and I realized that I, like my fellow Y2s, will be leaving this eccentric, to say the least, melting pot for a long time to come. I know that we will return for holidays and summer vacation, but for a large majority of the year, we will be living abroad, at least, that’s what the rest of America feels like.

Despite brief trips westward to California and New Mexico, the extent of my cultural connection to the United States is bounded within the northeast. I have never been south of Virginia and spend most of my time in the city I was born, quite satisfied that I have everything I need. And I do, for the most part. New York is unparalleled in every way, but I feel like I have never experienced the rest of this country. My prejudices and culturally defined arguments have rarely been challenged and I am certain that the next four years will call into question every tenet I have deemed, and which my fellow New Yorkers have affirmed to be, objective.

I will be living in Baltimore, which struggles between contrasting atmospheres: the vibe of a liberal college town and the remnants of segregation. Just five minutes out of MICA town replete with young artists and establishments like the bookstore/rebel base “Red Emma’s”, you are confronted with the shells of buildings. It appears to be a war zone, forgotten in time until someone funds the city’s memory.

I hope that I will find a home amidst Baltimore’s vibrancy and ever evolving identity, but I think that we are all eternally linked to New York. Its character has shaped my own and like a mother wishing to impart the most important lessons to her offspring, the city has enacted a tough love initiation program, for my own benefit of course. New York tested my assertiveness by having me order a knish and an egg cream at Katz’s on a rather busy day; she assessed my social skills by placing me in rush hour train cars, where your fellow passengers are your poles. She analyzed my spatial reasoning skills and innate impatience by giving me three minutes to run northwest from 32nd St. and Broadway to Penn Station to catch a train, praising me when I determined that the most efficient route was the eastbound bike lane. I should mention that I was given extra points based on the impracticality of my outfit, the heaviness of my pack, and the frequency at which I used expletives to denote my frustration with the relentlessly slow, seemingly comatose masses that occupy midtown.

Finally, New York evaluated my ability to bond with my fellow citizens by providing us opportunities to criticize her own incoherence, help each other off the ice laden sidewalks in the winter, and interact with complete strangers in relatively controlled settings. There is no other city that challenges its inhabitants so pointedly and routinely and then praises their resilience, that exposes us to so many absurd situations and then offers us no explanations except that which our imaginations can produce. We live too close to each other to turn out halfway normal and yet we take each other’s neuroses with a grain of salt. We are some of the most forgiving people, even though visitors, who are not accustomed to our pace, can’t always see our soft underbelly. New York is a microcosm of the world, stuffed rather uncomfortably but flawlessly onto a landmass barely visible on a map of the country. But we are its pulse. Willie Morris wrote:

And it was to this city, whenever I went home, that I always knew I must return, for it was mistress of one’s wildest hopes, protector of one’s deepest privacies. It was half insane with its noise, violence, and decay, but it gave one the tender security of fulfillment. On winter afternoons, from my office, there were sunsets across Manhattan when the smog itself shimmered and glowed… Despite its difficulties, which become more obvious all the time, one was constantly put to the test by this city, which finally came down to its people; no other place in America had quite such people and they would not allow you to go stale; in the end they were its triumph and its reward.




Hannah Frishberg ‘13

As temperatures rise and the end of school fast approaches, summer music venues around New York City are getting ready for another culture packed summer. With free shows galore and concerts scheduled in every borough, 2012 is sure to be a great summer for art and entertainment.

Music festivals are especially abundant this summer, with five happening in July alone. The earliest festival this season is Brooklyn’s Northside festival, entailing eight days of music, with sister festivals devoted to art and film, from June 14 – 21. The list of headliners is impossibly eclectic, highlights including rapper GZA (a founder of the Wu-Tang Clan), a Latin funk band called Grupo Fantasma, indie favorite Of Montreal, and over 350 other bands to be playing 25 bars and music halls around Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Next up is the annual Clearwater festival, happening June 16 – 17 in Croton Point Park in Westchester County, with a lineup including such classic folk and country bands as Arlo Guthrie, The Holmes Brothers, Josh Ritter, and Peter Yarrow. Then comes Governors Ball (ironically happening on Randall’s Island this year), expanding this year from a single day to two on June 23 and 24, with an impressive lineup with headliners spanning multiple genres, including such artists as Beck, Passion Pit, Kid Cudi, Modest Mouse, and Major Lazer (with no overlapping sets). Into July, the CBGB Festival is a new event, with four days of music planned beginning July 5, showcasing some 300 rock bands, with about 30 venues (ranging from large stages like Central Park Summerstage and Webster Hall to small clubs such as the Trash Bar in Williamsburg or the Living Room on the Lower East Side). The Brooklyn Hip-Hop festival will happen July 9 – 14 at venues around Brooklyn, with MC competitions and headliner Busta Rhymes. Tickets aren’t free, but are comparatively very cheap, ranging from $10 – $100 for general admission and depending on the event. Camp Bisco, a music festival located near Albany at the Indian Lookout Country Club happening July 12 – 14, has more of a techno-dance flavor, the lineup featuring Skrillex, Atmosphere, Crystal Castles, Simian Mobile Disco, as well as a “Silent Disco” tent. The 4Knots music festival at South Street Seaport is happening July 14; its lineup consistent with past years in its punk flavor, and it’s free. The last huge in-city music festival this summer is Catalpa//NYC, to be held on Randall’s Island the weekend of July 28 – 29, featuring the Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, Girl Talk, Cold War Kids, Matt & Kim, Matisyahu, and 32 others (tickets are pricey).

Shakespeare is quite poorly represented this summer, with the only free outdoor performances happening at the Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park. As You Like It will be showing there in June, with the Public’s second show this season being Sondheim’s Into the Woods happening in July and August (exact times available online. They’re erratic).

The Celebrate Brooklyn! lineup for this year has a definite African cultural focus, with mainly black performers. All 25 events, including six ticketed benefit concerts, will take place at the Prospect Park Bandshell. The benefit concerts consist of Childish Gambino (June 26), the Dirty Projectors (July 10), Hot Chip (July 18), Wilco (July 24), Sigur Ros (July 31), and M.Ward/Yo La Tengo (August 7); all tickets cost $35 in advance and $40 the day of the show. Highlights of the free shows include English indie folk artist Laura Marling (June 14), trombone virtuoso and funk sensation Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (June 29), and indie pop and orchestral folk bands The Head and the Heart / Lost in the Trees (July 27).

Central Park Summerstage, NYC’s largest presenter of free arts and cultural programs, does not disappoint this season, offering a plethora of performance types and styles to choose from, happening at venues scattered throughout the city. Highlights (all free) include rock band Dawes to perform at Central Park (June 16), humorous rap group Das Racist at Red Hook Park (June 19), an array of Klezmer and Eastern European bands at Yiddishfest in Central Park (June 36), and old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops also in Central Park (August 11). Highlights of the benefit concerts (all in Central Park) include Norah Jones (July 3), Foster the People/Tokyo Police Club/Kimbra (June 11), and Beirut (August 29).

The Bowery Presents, a collection of major indoor music venues with shows year round, also has quite the offering this summer season (and a few already scheduled for the fall as well). Pop sensation Fun. will play at Terminal5 June 16 – 17, Bon Iver is scheduled for Radio City Music Hall September 19th, and up at their CMAC venue in Canandaigua, NY, old classic bands like Meat Loaf (July 21), Journey (August 15) and Pat Benatar (August 15), Train (August 24), and some favorites from the early 2000s like The Fray and Kelly Clarkson (August 29) will be playing throughout the summer.

Other notable events this summer include the Pier54 dances and the Good Morning America Summer Concert Series (a free series of concerts which have included such artists in the past as Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, and Niki Minaj). A new indoor venue which can allegedly hold 7,000 people has opened at 50 Kent in Brooklyn, called Williamsburg Park, and has a substantial lineup scheduled, including a free show featuring Eugene Mirman and OK Go (July 19), Cake (August 10), My Morning Jacket and Shabazz Palaces (August 19), and Sublime with Rome and Cypress Hill (August 24). The Big Apple BBQ, two days of rock and soul music as well as food at Madison Square Park, is happening this year June 9 – 10. The New York Philharmonic has announced they will continue their concerts in the park series, performing for free in parks in every borough (dates available online). Lastly, the Governors Island Art Fair will be happening again this year on weekends in September, for free, featuring large scale art productions all over Governors Island. Although this may seem to be an extensive list of events, not all NYC venues have released their summer schedules yet, so be sure to check in on the websites of Williamsburg Waterfront, the Highline Ballroom, and Rooftop Films (independent films shown for free on rooftops throughout the city!). Ohmyrockness.com is also a great asset for finding shows.

So before you cry your eyes out over missing Coachella, realize that there are literally thousands of bands coming into NYC this summer, and with over eight major festivals, and more than 50 different venues mentioned in this write-up alone, everyone should be able to find something they like this 2012 season.




Mack Cummings ’13

I did not know what to expect from Porgy and Bess, but I do know that “Oh, I got plenty o’ nuttin’, An’ nuttin’s plenty for me…” was just one of the many unique lyrical masterpieces from the musical and I was anxious to see it performed live. Porgy and Bess was said to be an innovative yet unrecognized masterpiece when performed here in New York City almost eighty years ago. The Gershwin Twins, Ira and George, already renowned for Rhapsody in Blue and An American Paris collaborated with the original writer, DuBose Heyward, of what was then the book titled Porgy. George Gershwin, who read the book and was inspired to write the music to the play, made what was referred to as an American folk opera. The music was an intriguing mix of a European orchestra sound blended smoothly with jazz and folk to give the audience the familiar classic sound of Broadway with all of its grandeur. Yet, it also transported the audience to our setting: Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. The story is about a woman named Bess (Audra McDonald) caught in the middle of a murder in Catfish Row that involved her lover Crown (Phillip Boykin) killing a local resident. She then relies on the only person in the community to take her in before the police show up to arrest. This man happens to be the town beggar and a cripple named Porgy (Norm Lewis). Bess and Porgy begin to fall in love with each other, as Porgy struggles with attaining his image of masculinity and Bess struggles with her addiction to cocaine.

Although many critics, audience members and the BHSEC students who attended thoroughly enjoyed the play, in its heyday, many disagreed. They felt that the opera was giant racial slur against the African American community and did not deserve to be on stage because of the racial issues that were prominent during the time of the opera’s first performance in Carnegie Hall. The opera’s controversial appearance of an all black cast using stereotypical idioms and lingo caused controversy with the public and especially the black community, which repelled most theater companies and even schools from performing the opera. Years later, Porgy and Bess was performed in 1976 with the Houston Grand Opera, and then in 1985 with the Metropolitan Opera. Both performances were presented at times once the misconceptions about the Gershwin’s intentions. People once again gave Porgy and Bess a chance to see how truly great it really it is. Soon the play spawned several covers of some of its most memorable songs with artists like Janis Joplin, Brian Wilson and Bob Dylan performing. Looking at the production of Porgy and Bess with other students, I was blown away. The voices of the entire ensemble in this production were fantastic all around, the set was creative and gave me the sense of community, and the musical arrangement was stellar. From what I could see and looking at the older scripts, not a lot has changed except for a few outdated idioms. The dialect was also rewritten to cater to the contemporary audience member. A lot of the themes from the 1930s still apply to our world today and did not need to be edited. During the talk back Audra McDonald mentioned some of the issues that have transcended eras include Bess and Porgy’s co-dependence on each other due to their respective vulnerabilities: physical limitations and substance abuse. There was also the issue of Porgy’s attempts to claim his manhood by trying to take care of and love Bess better than Crown who is a strong and passionate man, whereas Porgy was born with a limp and is more sympathetic. The opera’s only flaw is that there are a couple with of scenes with Porgy and Bess that go on a little longer than necessary to make the scene significant, but besides that, this play was fantastic and I would not mind to go and see it again.




Eliza Fawcett ’15

The appeal of the college experience relies on the fact that once there, “there’s enough material…for a lifetime of social work.” Or at least that’s how it seems to Violet, the main character of Whit Stillman’s newest film, “Damsels in Distress”, and the head of the Suicide Prevention Center at her college, Seven Oaks. Violet, played by Greta Gerwig, is attractive, contemplative, and in an amusing yet somewhat frustrating way, determinedly frank. In many ways, she’s the old-fashioned, preppy patron saint of reform in a college where, as she states, “an atmosphere of male barbarism predominates.” She and her friends Rose and Heather resolve to change that by helping the helplessly dim frat boys, and providing counseling to depressed classmates by means of doughnuts, coffee, and tap dance classes. But the girls, especially Violet, are more concerned with their social work ideals than with scientifically effective remedies; the movie isn’t a heartwarming crusade through the trials and tribulations of university, but rather a light-hearted, clever comedy.

In an imitation of the Ivy League, the girls’ college is part of the “Select Seven”. Furthermore, fraternities are named by Roman numerals rather than by Greek letters. In the Roman tradition, the school has their own gladiator day, which further cements Violet’s point of “male barbarism.”

Violet, Rose and Heather pick up Lily, a new transfer student, along the way, and educate her about the workings of the school. The habits of the original trio are at times absurd: body odor induces anxiety-like attacks; but Lily, portrayed as more ‘normal’ than her new friends, refreshingly points out the others’ ridiculous customs. Lily, played by Analeigh Tripton, is skeptical, sympathetically contrarian, and a bit more daring than the others. As in Metropolitan (1990), Stillman’s first film, which centers around a group of elite Manhattan college students as they discuss the woes of their time amid various debutante balls, there’s the character of the middle-class outsider, who steps into a highly developed world to provide much-needed insight. That seems to be exactly Lily’s role.

Violet claims that, aside from the depression clinic, “Our aspirations are pretty basic: take a guy who hasn’t realized his full potential, or doesn’t even have much, and to help him realize it or find more.” That’s why she and her friends make an effort to associate with the frat boys, the “doufi” (a word play on “doufus”). There’s Frank, who feels emotionally stable only with his bouncy ball, and Thor, who never learned his colors, so almost leaps out windows in excitement when he finally recognizes the colors in the rainbow. These two seem to have no true intelligence—a point that is sometimes overdone—and are morally clueless. But you end up enjoying their ignorance anyway. The other men in the movie are perhaps more normal, more sleek, more of the “playboy operator” type, which Rose, played by Megalyn Echikunwoke, incessantly reminds us.

While “Damsels in Distress” deals with complex topics—depression, romance, and various social trends—it remains quite consistently humorous. The dialogue is probably the highlight of the film: it’s witty, sometimes surprising, and thoroughly enjoyable. “Damsels in Distress” is at once eccentric yet endearing, serious yet self-consciously twinky.

Ultimately, Stillman never seems to satisfyingly tie up the loose ends of the film-an out-of-place dance scene, as if from a musical, all but concludes the film on a somewhat tacky note. But “Damsels in Distress” is definitely worth a viewing, perhaps simply on account of its excellent dialogue and all-around charm.




Danya Levy ’15

Starting at four o’clock on the afternoon of May 2, 150 eighth graders and their families trudged through the entrance and up the stairs into the BHSEC Manhattan school building. They were greeted by student volunteers and walked into the auditorium, where they signed in, received paperwork to fill out, and found a seat. They asked BHSEC students questions about the school and chatted with their peers. At four thirty, they settled down for an introduction to BHSEC life and a question-and-answer session with an array of students from different grades.

But these were not just any eighth graders. This was the incoming BHSEC Manhattan class of 2016. As all BHSEC students know, these eighth graders have been through a lot, to say the least. They all studied hard throughout middle school, earning superb grades and scoring high on their city and statewide math and writing exams. During their eighth grade year, they attended open houses at high schools and worked through test after test and interview after interview.

Eventually, all their hard work throughout the application process paid off. In the beginning of March, they all received the news that they had been accepted to BHSEC Manhattan. Only 273 students out of 4000 were admitted.

But some of these lucky students still had a choice to make: many of them had been accepted to a specialized school or La Guardia High School, and needed to make the difficult decision of where to go.

All of these students attended an orientation for accepted students, in which they learned more about the school. The faculty made the case for why they should come to BHSEC and, on March 2, the 165 eighth graders who still remained after this long, arduous process came to the high school where they would be spending the next four years for the New Student Orientation.

In the auditorium, the future BHSEC freshmen listened to presentations by Dr. Lerner, Carol Turitz, Lisa Goldenberg, and other members of the faculty. They learned about the types of courses they would be taking, the specifics of the high school and college programs, school sports teams and physical education courses, and many others aspects of BHSEC life. The teachers emphasized that being a BHSEC student wasn’t going to be easy, and that, in order to succeed, the incoming freshmen needed support from their families and friends.

After the presentations, the students asked several current pupils from various grades questions about the school. These queries varied from “What time is lunch?” to “What is the theater program like?” The student volunteers all answered the questions articulately and with enthusiasm. There did seem, however, to be many less questions than at the previous orientations and open houses. After so many visits to the school, many of these middle school students seemed to know all they possibly could about BHSEC without actually going there.

Throughout the presentations, many of the future 9th graders also seemed restless. Quite a few of them were always looking around to see what their future classmates looked like. Their faces showed a wide range of emotions, from confusion and nervousness to excitement and anticipation. The idea that they will be spending the next four years of their lives here, was beginning to dawn on them.

But the orientation did help to quell some anxieties. One student said that she had been anxious before, but the orientation had helped to quiet most of her fears. “I’m kind of nervous, because it does sound like a lot of work,” she noted, adding that mostly, she just felt excited to start high school.

Many of the student volunteers who assisted the admissions office in running the orientation agreed that the BHSEC class of 2016 seemed like a diverse, bright group of kids that would flourish in the school environment. One volunteer said that she had really enjoyed showing students from the incoming freshman class around the school. “I got to actually welcome them,” she said, adding that “I got a new sense of who they were…I knew that they were going to fit in.”




Micaela Beigel ’14

We’re all used to seeing a lot of flyers hanging in the halls of BHSEC, the stairwell, the library, or even bulletin boards. Traditionally these flyers have advertised almost anything, from school functions including at the student/teacher step-off or teacher karaoke, to a student who desires to find a homeless cat a good home, or even something as odd as a “Doctor Who” advertisement urging students to join a club related to the beloved cult series; these are all fairly expected. However, there is one type of sign has been displayed more frequently in the past few weeks then most: those announcing missing electronics and other personal items and warnings to keep your personal belongings with you at all times. Whether it is something simple like a USB drive accidentally left in the computer lab, to the serious theft of money or even a cell phone, throughout my time at BHSEC there has almost always been one of these signs hanging in various locations throughout our building. Maybe it’s the commonality of these flyers or the fact that many of these items were simply lost, but it seems like students are ignoring this distressing message: we have thieves at BHSEC, and recently the number and gravity of the thefts has reached an all time high.

In general, students know that when they leave their stuff in certain locations there is always a possibility that it could go missing. However, the prospect of someone deliberately robbing students is not something many people actually consider as something that could happen to them at BHSEC. Not only does robbery seem impossible in such a safe environment, but it goes against the very nature of the our philosophy and the vibe of the student body. Usually leaving personal items in the girls’ locker room, or in the care of a friend in the library doesn’t seem like an opening for someone looking to apply a five-finger discount on their classmates’ belongings, but recently that has unfortunately been the case.

“For a while it seemed like we were getting reports every day for at least a month,” Dr. Lerner informed me when I posed the question of how many reported thefts the school had seen recently. This semester has seen a serious spike in thefts at BHSEC. Items like wallets, phones, iPods, cash, and personal credit cards were the common objects of these crimes. Students and administrators alike seemed shocked at the serious and frequent natures of the offenses.

For Y2, Emma King, the theft came as a major shock. On a day in mid-April, during fourth period, a common lunch period for multiple grades, she and a friend left their bags in the library and ran out to get some food. This is something that they, and many other students of the school, have done multiple times with no consequences. Neither noticed anything missing when they first returned, and they went about their day regularly. However, later the Emma received a call from her bank, informing her that a large sum of money had been spent on her credit card, (it ended up being 100+ dollars) at establishments such as Best Buy and McDonalds. This is just one case in dozens, although recently after this incident two BHSEC students were arrested. Students have experienced thefts in the hallways, the computer labs, and even while they were participating in a PE class.

On the bright side Dr. Lerner and other faculty members have dealt with this situation quite adequately. According to Dr. Lerner, the theft rate has shrunk back down dramatically in recent weeks. He also confirms that though the administration cannot divulge any specific details; the people responsible for the majority of these recent thefts have been punished. Dr. Lerner sent an email home to parents in his weekly update that included the message: “I now need to report that two BHSEC students were arrested at school on Monday in connection with these thefts…The 7th Precinct has taken a strong interest in the case given the volume of thefts that have been reported here.” He also clearly expressed that these sort of things did not happen often, but when they do they are usually the result of one or two thieves working individually, who the school works very hard to apprehend. He would like to assure kids that this is not something that students ought to feel worried about, but that it would be wise for them to be aware of their possessions at all times and to refrain from leaving it in places like the halls or the library. Furthermore, if you are the victim of a theft please report it to either Dr. Lerner or Ms. Sawick.




Hayley Barnett ‘12

Another year is coming to a close at BHSEC, and another senior class is leaving. But where are they going? Apparently, the difference between the Class of 2012 and the previous classes is that we’re going abroad. According to Ms. Cheikes, the CTO Director and college guru, six students are headed abroad (all to Europe), an unprecedented number. “The most we’ve ever had go abroad is four students” she says, “and usually if someone’s going abroad they have family there.” What else makes the class of 2012 different from the other classes? “This year we’ve had the biggest amount of applications to SUNY Binghamton, over 50” Ms. Cheikes tells me. Another SUNY, SUNY Stony Brook, got over 30 applications; however no senior plans to attend next year.

Syracuse University also received 30 applications, and St. Johns received 20. Indeed, there are groups of 2-4 students going to certain schools, including Grinnell College, NYU Poly, Alfred University, and Hunter College. Regardless of similarities between students in application and acceptance, there is still a wide variety of schools the Class of 2012 is attending, 58 colleges and universities to be exact! Some of those schools include Yale, Johns Hopkins University, Wellesley, Cooper Union, Bard, Swarthmore, Union, Princeton, NYU and UCLA.

So how was the college process for this year’s graduating class? According to Ms. Cheikes, certain schools were harder on their applicants this year, adding different plans and becoming more selective in their Early Decision plans and even Regular Decision plans. Naa Addico, the very first BHSEC Questbridge Scholarship winner (she’ll be attending Vassar College in the fall), says it was very hectic and very fast, as she applied early and most of her applications were due late October.

Conversely, Jonathan Donovan stated that the process was relatively stress-free until the day all of the applications were due. Chris Rivera agrees, saying that he wished he would have paced himself with all of his supplements and his college essay. Nya Thompson went into the process very nervous from everything she had heard from previous Y2s, but realized it really wasn’t that strenuous a process. She does, however, have a piece of advice for future Y2s that her peers seemed to echo; “Start early”, she says, “And ask questions. There are a lot of opportunities you could miss by not speaking up.”

As each Y2 class forges their way to colleges, new connections are made and schools that have never heard of BHSEC begin to take an interest. Schools like the University of Chicago, which has always had a special fondness for us, are joined in their respect for our students by new schools. BHSEC graduates continue to stand out once they reach university level. Take a pit stop in the CTO to see all of the amazing schools BHSEC’s 10th graduating class, the Class of 2012, got into!


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