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Denebola » Alice Lee http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 A farewell to South; the beginnings of a new legacy http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/a-farewell-to-south-the-beginnings-of-a-new-legacy/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/a-farewell-to-south-the-beginnings-of-a-new-legacy/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 08:12:01 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4491 Barring the unforeseen, this will be the very last time my name appears in the Denebola.

What a feeling!

I hope that suffices as an introduction. I’ve never been good at introductions.

Traditionally, this editorial is meant to be an end-all, a wrap-up, a good-bye-high-school, a what-I’ve-learned, a how-I’ve-grown. But hey, I’m already breaking most of the ironclad rules I fanatically adhered to in my days as editor of this section’€use as little casual voice as possible, avoid excessive use of first person, have a clear opinion or thesis before you start writing, and for God’s sake, no navel-gazing.

And plus, I figure, golly gosh, I’m graduating. So I’m going to take some creative license.

Here’s the thing. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that nobody likes reading the works of a navel-gazer’€someone excessively introspective or self-absorbed. Teachers especially acknowledge it, considering that they’re the ones who have to grade the philosophical self-directed reflections of the student without a thesis.

But when the end of senior year rolls around, not only does navel-gazing become more acceptable, it is in fact encouraged. You’re asked to reflect on your high school career, on how you’ve grown, on what your ambitions are’€hell, you have to write a ten-paged essay on it. In some privileged circles, you can write long articles for school newspapers.

In case you couldn’t tell, I am and always have been somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of examining myself and elaborating on it in written form. I took a somewhat deist approach to it, figuring that whatever’s going on inside my head seems to be working just fine and so I should just leave it that way. Maybe it was because of the years of negative reinforcement from teachers, maybe because of self-consciousness, or maybe just because of my inherent fear of being considered a navel-gazer.

It’s funny, the term “navel-gazer wasn’t coined for the purposes of the definition we now know it by. It actually references omphaloskepsis (a word that looks suspiciously like oompa loompa and has probably been seen in print only once outside Wikipedia, and that is here), which refers to the contemplation of one’s own navel for the purposes of meditation.

According to Hindu belief, the deity Vishnu’€the “all-pervading, the protector of the world’€was contemplating the creation of humankind one fine day before the universe began, when a lotus bloomed from his navel. The lotus’s passenger was the four-headed Brahma, who would likewise become a god of creation, and the flower itself would become the sun.

In that sense, navel-gazing is something profound and beautiful. You contemplate your personal center of birth and godliness’€in fact, what an idea: that everyone should have a navel, a point of incarnation, a little button where something profound can be born.

That’s an idea with which I’m more comfortable. My deepest respect to the extant forms of omphaloskepsis, but here’s my interpretation.

Navel-gazing in the truest sense shouldn’t be about exploring the crevasses of the self, the wells of the past, the finer points of one’s own personality. It should be about potential, about what is to come, about our own four-headed god still waiting to be born.

Well, hey. That’s a familiar graduation-related theme.

Here’s the heart of the matter, which I reached in typical roundabout form. Self-examination in the purest form shouldn’t dwell on memories or on re-living the past. To be fair, acknowledgement of growth and change and the experiences that brought it about are necessary’€but necessary in the sense that they’re means. I won’t say means to an end, because the “end isn’t really a finite end, but more of an overarching idea. It’s idea of potential, the idea of what’s sitting on your own lotus flower, waiting to sprout from your navel.

Alice Lee, graduating senior, over and out.

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Post-stamps from around the world http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/post-stamps-from-around-the-world/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/post-stamps-from-around-the-world/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 05:12:28 +0000 Alex Ketabi http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4537 As indicated, this stamp celebrates the birth century of Mohammad Mossadegh, one of the most prolific, yet relatively unknown figures of 20th century. He was democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran in 1951, on the platform that he would nationalize the Iranian oil industry. Since oil was discovered in Iran in 1908, the British government chartered the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (currently BP) to monopolize the entire industry, giving only a minuscule percentage of the profits back to the Iranian people. Mossadegh declared that the British have no place seizing Iran’s natural resources while neglecting its people, and thus ousted the Anglo Iranian Oil Company. This prompted the British to get the Americans, predominantly the CIA, involved. In 1953, the CIA led a coup d’état against Mossadegh, inserting the young Shah (king) of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as the absolute leader of Iran, in turn for his allowing Iran and Britain access to Iran’s oil. Over the next quarter century, the Shah led a despotic regime and was viewed by the Iranian people as a puppet of the West, leading to the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that established the tyrannical theocracy in place today. Many view the American-led overthrow of Mossadegh as a catalyst to the rise of Anti Western sentiment and Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East.
-Alex Ketabi

This South Korean postage stamp was one of a series released in 2003, “Traditional Korean Culture, which demonstrated and recognized Korean cultural and aesthetic heritage. Each stamp depicted an item of everyday life in ancestral Korea. This stamp, worth 190 won (the South Korean currency) is an example of the footwear sub-series; other sub-series included traditional headwear, furniture, and tools. Illustrated here is a pair of unhye shoes, which were traditional slippers for Korean women of royalty, the court, and the upper class, until the end of the Joseon Period. The outside of the shoe was typically silken or covered in cotton flannel, while the soles were cobbled from leather and the toes and heels embroidered. In terms of philatelic history, these stamps are remarkable as well as beautifully designed; for the first half of the 20th century, Japan controlled the Korean administration, including its postage, and after 1946, the American military administration took over the issue of Korean stamps for several years. The 2003 series embodies not only the rich history of the Republic of Korea, but national pride and a celebration of independence.
-Alice Lee

Lebanon has always been a touristic country. Some refer to it as the Paris of the Middle East. Post stamps from Lebanon illustrate many of Lebanon’s most beautiful and fascinating places. The images range in depicting different locations throughout Lebanon. One of the most popular images is the roman ruin of the Beqaa valley, Baalbek, dating back to the first century AD. The temples were excavated by a German archaeologist and have since become a major tourist attraction. Other images include a Crusader sea base built on water in the port city of Sidon, the fishing town of Byblos north of Beirut, the natural rock formation off the shores of Beirut, and an old Ottoman Palace that belonged to one of the Ottoman warlords before World War One. Before the civil war, Lebanon survived on a touristic-banking economy. These images were used to attract tourists from neighboring Arab countries and distant European countries . Lebanon has now been rebuilt to its glory of the 60′s and 70′s. Its downtown streets bustle with tourists from around the world. Lebanon showed its finest touristic locations as a means of alluring the recipient of a stamp to visit Lebanon.
-Joseph Busaba

It’s no surprise to find the face of the Father of India cover the stamps of the country. Gandhi’s involvement in India’s quest for independence not only gives him the legacy as one of the most influential people to ever live, but also set a precedent of civil disobedience and nonviolent action that set a standard for some of the world’s most revered leaders. That being said, it is to nobody’s surprise that the face of Gandhi paints not just the stamps of the nation, but the currency as well. Following India’s independence from the British in 1947, the nation has worn her independence on her sleeve. Gandhi, the leader of India’s search for freedom, essentially became the face of the nation, giving way to his presence on national products.
-Ashan Singh

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Death of an industry http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/death-of-an-industry/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/death-of-an-industry/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:43:49 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3626 You’ve most likely seen in the news, ironically, something about the decline of the newspaper industry.

As someone who comes from Colorado, I was more interested than most teenagers around here to hear that the Rocky Mountain News ceased publication in February of last year. But, as Bernie Lincicome, a Rocky Mountain sports columnist, told the Wall Street Journal, “Most of us thought it was a matter of time. No one buys newspapers.

The Rocky Mountain News is not the only newspaper that has shut down in the past three years. The list includes the Tucson Citizen, the Baltimore Examiner, the Kentucky Post, the Cincinnati Post, the King County Journal, the Albuquerque Tribune, the South Idaho Press, and the San Juan Star. To name only a few.

The cold hard facts are that newspaper subscriptions are dwindling and, consequently, the revenues they receive from advertising are in decline. In the year 2008 alone, the newspaper business lost $7.5 billion in ad revenues, leading to a $1.6 billion reduction in annual spending on journalism.

This translates to fewer newspapers, fewer perspectives, fewer expressions of human thought. As in Denver, a town that once benefited from two newspapers, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, regions will have to make do with a single print news source. Furthermore, the newspapers that are most likely to fold are the smallest daily papers that covered local news that would receive no attention otherwise.

It also translates to the photographers, editors, printers, writers, columnists, marketers, and the umpteen others who work in tandem with the newspapers losing their jobs. It means that newly-graduated journalism majors and current journalism students will have a hell of a time getting on their feet.

Now, if you’re still reading thus far, first of all, congratulations. You’re doing better than the 9.7 million readers who fell out of regular newspaper-readership between April 2008 and April 2009!

Second, I assume you’re wondering about digital publication.

To begin, most news blogs up and running at the moment depend on print media for information, and professional news websites rely on the manpower and revenue of their print medium to maintain their site.

The common misconception is that newspapers are being edged out by their digital counterparts’€but the truth is, the biggest factor has been the decline in advertising revenue.

If digital news is to fill the void left by print’€and, by the way, the increased readership of online news does not compensate for the decrease in print media readership’€then it’ll need money to operate. And it begs the question whether people are willing to pay for Internet news.

Even further, consider the vastness of the Internet and the facility with which anyone who understands a keyboard and a mouse can post something online. In fact, click and drag an NBC logo onto it, and it looks damn near legitimate.

You’ll get in hot water with the NBC legal team, but what I’m getting at is the fact that anyone can post anything online without any kind of requirement of proof of legitimacy. As a medium for news, the Internet is an unreliable source unless there is print media to back it.

A nation-wide’€and surely globe-wide’€trend like the decline of the newspaper is one that, as Lincicome implied, may very well be inevitable. Ultimately, America might just have to face a Götterdämmerung‘€literally, a “twilight of the gods, and figuratively, the downfall of what was once a great industry.

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Opposing Viewpoints: Barack Obama’s recent Nobel Peace Prize win is a signal of impending progress http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/opposing-viewpoints-barack-obama%e2%80%99s-recent-nobel-peace-prize-win-is-a-signal-of-impending-progress/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/opposing-viewpoints-barack-obama%e2%80%99s-recent-nobel-peace-prize-win-is-a-signal-of-impending-progress/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 08:00:45 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3410 When I first heard that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded to President Barack Obama, I can’t deny that I was surprised. Nominations for the Prize were postmarked in February 2009′€just a week or two after the President took office. And I was unaware of any extraordinary act of diplomacy that merited the Peace Prize.

According to the Nobel Committee, the Prize recognized Obama’s efforts at solving complex global problems, like nuclear warfare, with dialogue and negotiation. Unlike previous awards, the Committee focused not on any specific action but on the change in international climate that the new President has cultivated and the way that he has “given people hope for a better future.

The Committee’s decision this year is, above all, a rally for hope; in awarding the Peace Prize to a man who espouses hope above all else’€whether or not it is fully realistic’€it signals its own hope that Obama will live up to the title. The President’s preliminary efforts and inspirational rhetoric have secured him an approving nod, and he now has an obligation to put his money where his mouth is.

This is not to say that Obama has been thus far sitting on his hands. His American envoy in the Middle East, George Mitchell, is currently advocating for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in discussions with European leaders about international efforts to end Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs.

But the fact is that the President’s body of work is still to come. While some say that is grounds for why he should not receive the Peace Prize, I say that the Committee’s reasoning has some basis. Few can deny that Obama’s vision and inspiration has changed the atmosphere of global politics.

Of course, those who make the case that Obama has not pulled troops from Afghanistan’€and in fact approved a significant troop increase’€are not wrong in their facts. But they argue that these decisions make him a “man of war and thus completely disqualify him from receiving any praise as a peacemaker.

While I will pass no judgments on the troop surge, it must be acknowledged that the President’s objective is not warmongering, but stabilization and security, which he considers necessary for the health of the nation. His ultimate goal is peace, and for the time being he is taking what he believes is essential action.

Obama’s win was unexpected, that is certain. While I do believe that he deserves recognition for the hope he has inspired’€no mean feat’€whether or not it merits something so extreme as a Nobel Peace Prize is another question entirely.

But as I see it, instead of protesting or denouncing the Committee’s choice or bemoaning Obama’s short time in office, people should see the award as a signal that global peace, or efforts toward it, are soon to come.

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Getting by with a little help from your friends http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/getting-by-with-a-little-help-from-your-friends/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/getting-by-with-a-little-help-from-your-friends/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 06:58:26 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3201 Every student is taught from toddlerhood that cheating is dishonest, morally reprehensible, and wholly bad. Every year, the idea is reinforced via first-day-of-school lectures, disclaimers on the syllabus describing the consequences of cheating, and periodic warnings from teachers.

Logically, the principle is simple: schoolwork should be comprised entirely of your personal effort. Cheating operates under the lie that your submitted work is yours and yours alone even though you borrowed from other sources, whether they were aware or unaware. Not only is it unfair to the possibly unwitting donors of the material, but it shows disrespect to the teacher and to your classmates that you would present such a falsehood.

In black and white, it looks straightforward. But in high school, the lines often get blurred.
What if the “victim of your cheating is actually a good friend who wants to help you out after a long week of essays and exams? What if you and a classmate are hopelessly confused by a multiple choice question that you didn’t encounter in your all-night study session and decide to discreetly compare answers? What if you sympathize with students in another block of the same class and let slip the test’s tricky essay questions before they take it? Is that so wrong?

The administration’s stance is, of course, a firm and resounding no. Anything that strays from the beaten path of completely independent study and test-work merits punishment and negative response.

The purists contend that not only is cheating dishonest, but in allowing the dishonest student an unnaturally higher grade, it makes it harder for honest classmates to do well under the curve. It demonstrates contempt toward them and toward your teachers, with whom you have a contract of mutual respect. It also suggests that in cheating, you forfeit to the race for better grades at the expense of your own integrity and self-respect.

These are all fair arguments, in an ideal world, devoid of pressure and competition.

Respect, self-directed and otherwise, and integrity are weighty matters. And the sad truth is that the high school student’s day-to-day worries do not revolve around moral fiber and strength of character. We think about term one grades and whether they’re high enough to meet the standards of our dream college. We think about how many open response questions we have to answer correctly to scrape in the grade that’ll keep our parents satisfied. We think about what we perceive is our duty as students, which is to rake in as many GPA points as possible.

And while people might raise a protest against such a definition, it is the unfortunate fact that top-level colleges, the highest level of aspiration for students our age, set a standard. They do not accept C+ students who insist that they made a spectacular effort; they accept the A students who keep their lips delicately closed about the ugly process of getting the grade.

So it stands thus: strict condemnation of cheating coinciding with increasing negative pressure to get good grades. In such a situation, the desperate student asks him or herself, which is the lesser of two evils? And when it comes down to failing a test, which guarantees negative pressure and consequences, or cheating on it, which has a fair chance of going unnoticed, the latter usually wins out.

As well, in such conditions, one has to factor in empathy. By the current system, the accomplice to cheating is just as guilty as the cheater, all benevolent motivation notwithstanding. This both discourages camaraderie and intensifies the sense of rivalry between students; Good Samaritans are not to be tolerated.

I cannot say that I advocate cheating, or that it is unequivocally good or bad. But the students who let their moral standards slip, driven into a corner by too many obligations, who only want to do well and satisfy everyone’s expectations, who haven’t slept well in weeks, are neither weak nor dishonest. They are desperate.

So the argument against cheating of the administration and other firm moralists is not wrong. On the contrary, it is perfectly valid. That is why it is so cruelly absurd that students are driven to measures that contradict those reasonable expectations.

They are made to believe that they have no other choice in the fiercely competitive and high-pressure academic environment that our society has cultivated, and in that diminished capacity of moral reasoning, they cheat to get ahead.

The analogy of the “gray area between black and white is well-known to the point of cliché. That being said, the subject of cheating and the motivation behind it’€a clear case of gray’€should not be subject to judgment that is so severely black.

It begs the question, of course, whether a revised system would not just encourage cheating in students who aren’t actually in dire situations. It certainly wouldn’t be easy for such a reform policy to be pursued, but if a fair system of appeals for offenders could be organized, maybe a balance could be achieved and student cheating could taper off.

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Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s unresolved injustices http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/hyatt-hotels-corporation%e2%80%99s-unresolved-injustices/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/hyatt-hotels-corporation%e2%80%99s-unresolved-injustices/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 08:38:41 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3004 Since the layoffs in late August, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation has responded to a wave of public disapproval, which included a proposed boycott on the part of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

The 98 fired housekeepers of the three Boston-area Hyatt hotels have thus been offered new jobs from an affiliate of United Service Companies at the Hyatt’s wage rates. Employees who accept will receive extended healthcare coverage through March 2010 from the Hyatt Corporation.

Those who choose not to accept the United Service jobs’€the majority of the laid-off workers’€have been offered career services and training opportunities through a partnership the Hyatt has formed with Manpower and Right Management.

At face value, the Hyatt’s conciliatory extension of benefits atones for its layoffs. But there remains the fact that the benefits were only motivated by the outraged cries of the public, and that the eight-dollars-an-hour outsourced labor that replaced the fired staff remains in the Hyatt’s employ.

Massachusetts Senate Democrats Anthony Galluccio (Cambridge), Jack Hart (South Boston), and Anthony Petruccelli (East Boston) proposed a Senate resolution on October 1 urging a boycott of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation in response to its abrupt dismissal of 98 housekeepers in late August.

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei (Malden and Melrose), however, spoke out in protest, condemning the proposed resolution as anti-business and saying that it is unprecedented for the state to urge residents to boycott a private employer. According to Tisei, the boycott would be “like throwing ice water on the economy. The message it sends out is so bad.

By Minority Leader Tisei’s reasoning, it is perfectly justifiable for a corporation that boasted a 1.3 billion dollar profit between 2004-2008 to dismiss 98 housekeepers and replace them with minimum-wage labor. The “message that such a boycott would send out is the same one that Governor Patrick has communicated, and it’s simple: what the Hyatt Corporation did was morally wrong.

Certainly, the Hyatt did no legal wrong. It broke no laws in dismissing its workers without warning; it was not illegal to mislead staff into thinking that the minimum-wage outsourced labor they trained would only be vacation fill-ins.

But such actions defy every principle of human decency and respect’€“basic fairness, in the words of Governor Patrick. The hotels abruptly threw their housekeepers out into the very same weak economy that the corporation cited as their motivation.

These workers were, of course, not the only ones to lose their jobs in the recent economic hardship. Still, that does not condone the wrongness of the Hyatt’s actions. Phil Stamm, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Boston, even admitted that “[the corporation] did not handle all parts of the transition in a way that reflects our organization’s values.

So when Governor Patrick condemned them and public reproach steadily mounted, the corporation smoothed things over, not by reinstating the 98 jobless housekeepers, but by doling out healthcare and offering jobs from the very same outsourcing firm, United Service Companies, that supplied the replacement workers’€who have received very little attention thus far. In fact, they remain in service at the three Boston-area Hyatt hotels, working for barely livable wages.

Minority Leader Tisei and likeminded senators blocked the proposition for a government boycott, but action on a smaller level is still wholly possible. While unions and workers have been staging protests and pickets as far as Chicago, students have a more limited window through which to assert that such injustices are morally reprehensible and not to be tolerated.

South should reflect on its use of the Hyatt Regency Cambridge as the common venue for its annual semi-formal. Through this event, which directly connects the school to the Hyatt and its policies, students have an opportunity to bring about change.

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Impracticality of the attendance policy http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/impracticality-of-the-attendance-policy/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/impracticality-of-the-attendance-policy/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 07:39:55 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2734 There have doubtless been many articles on this same topic before mine, and there will doubtless be more after. But it’s an issue of fundamental importance to student, teacher, and administration alike: attendance policy’€or, more specifically, tardiness.

The infamous new rule passed by the Faculty Council states that all tardies to first block will, as a rule, not be excused unless a bus was late or a doctor’s or dentist’s note proves that there was a medical reason for the tardy.

That is, guilty until proven innocent. Which in itself is not a new concept in terms of lateness, but the new policy won’t excuse a first block tardy for anything less than medical documentation.
What’s more, in another policy, teachers have been instructed not to tolerate lateness to classes during the rest of the day. Notes from parents for “bona fide reasons’€medical, legal, familial, or religious in nature’€will be accepted, but class-to-class lateness is strictly verboten. Benefit of the doubt has been wholly eradicated.

The logic behind strict punctuality is evident and fair enough. A set time of commencement and ending promotes the order of the schoolroom; time in class should be maximized for optimal learning time; punctuality is a prized quality in potential job candidates, and we should get into the habit early; the list goes on.

As with most things in life, however, strict application of logic isn’t sufficient criteria for the issue of tardiness. The elementary reasoning behind strict enforcement of A-Block attendance is, I assume, that students have unlimited time before school begins. That we have a vast expanse of hours before 7:40′€uninterrupted by sleep, breakfast, personal hygiene, parents’ schedules, traffic, or parking’€whose sole purpose is getting us to school.

Punishing students for situations beyond their control will naturally
breed resent.

Regretfully, this reasoning must be refuted on the grounds that traffic patterns can admittedly be forecasted but not predicted down to the minute, that some students rely for transportation on others who are just as human as the rest of us, and that family or other non-medical emergencies often have the audacity to happen in the morning and not conveniently after A-Block.

It needs to be understood that there’s a world outside the school in which time-consuming variables over which students have no control can and will appear in the morning’€time-consuming variables that are not necessarily limited to the medical category.

As for class-to-class lateness’€seeing as teachers reserve the right to hold students after class, that running is highly unwise, and that the second floor of Goodwin isn’t connected to the second floor of Goldrick (meaning that travel between the two entails stumbling down the stairs at breakneck speed, race-walking through the 9000s, down the breezeway, through Wheeler House, and sprinting up more stairs), I should think that a little understanding is in order.

Students in general are perfectly aware that there are good reasons behind the enforcement of punctuality. It is, after all, a principle that’s drilled into everyone’s mind from a tender age: be on time, or suffer the consequences.

But when there are unavoidable obstacles of which the administration is perfectly aware’€such as the sheer size of Newton South, the insistence of some teachers on continuing past the bell, the length of passing period’€one is forced to break the rules.

Punishing students for situations beyond their control will naturally breed resent, which has no place in a classroom. And antagonizing a roomful of teenagers with whom a teacher spends as much as four hours a week is an overall poor decision.

It’s true that compassion on the part of the administration towards some of the examples I’ve given will probably result in a few opportunists who will take advantage of the leniency and worm their way out of a deserved unexcused tardy.

There will always be a minority. You can crack down and punish a few innocents who have good reasons for their lateness along with the guilty, or you can relax the reins a little and let a few get away along with letting the innocent go.

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100 days and still strong http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/27/100-days-and-still-strong/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/27/100-days-and-still-strong/#comments Wed, 27 May 2009 20:14:39 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2328 Like most presidential campaigns, Barack Obama’s run for the presidency sparked a huge surge of interest in the American people. For the most part, the younger generation of America was excited by the prospect of such a charismatic and optimistic new leader.

The rhetoric of Obama’s presidential campaign catalyzed this excitement with an emphasis on progress and change. His now famous “Yes, we can came to symbolize the dynamic, forward-looking aspect of his vision.

His inspirational speeches and attitude captured the enthusiasm of the American public, especially among American youth. But on a national scale, the sentiment seems to have died down, and the current attitude towards Obama’s presidency is not quite the same as the initial fervor.

While this does not necessarily mean that those who supported Obama in his initial campaign have changed their opinions, the fire, for some, seems to have died down.

Nevertheless, sentiment for Obama remains high among South students, even 100 days after the election.

Senior Emily Kline, who cast her vote for the Democratic candidate in the 2008 election, has maintained her interest in Obama throughout his tenure so far: “I’ve been pro-Obama for over two years¦ now that he’s president, I’ve been equally as interested. Kline remains optimistic that Obama will live up to the energy and enthusiasm that characterized his campaign.

“I don’t know if you can expect someone to fulfill all of their campaign promises in the first 100 days, but I think [Obama] will¦ I trust him, Kline said.

In a CNN survey conducted across the country, nearly six in ten Americans said that they approve of how Obama is handling the economy. Very few people blame the president for the country’s economic struggles and challenges.
Junior Ben Chelmow, who has been following the Obama administration, is generally supportive of the new president. “He needs to be ambitious’€that’s the mindset we need to have, Chelmow said.

Chelmow also expressed his belief that it is necessary for the president to exert “strong effort to solve the problems plaguing our nation.

In terms of Obama’s recent legislation, Chelmow said that he has “been following the Recovery Act, but he “[doesn't] know too much about it. This does not worry him, however; he is reassured that “in hindsight, it will be a lot more clear¦ at the moment, [Obama's] doing his job by inspiring people.

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South students enjoy French culture over April break http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/south-students-enjoy-french-culture-over-april-break/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/south-students-enjoy-french-culture-over-april-break/#comments Wed, 13 May 2009 17:52:30 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2378 From April 19 to April 28, 15 South students became French.

Of course, we weren’t repatriated and naturalized as citizens of the Republic of France, but for a week and a half, we were immersed in French language and culture.

Those interested in the trip registered in May 2008 through Vistas in Education, a company that organizes programs to France. The program consisted of two days in Paris, five days of a family homestay in Toulouse, and then one last day in Paris.

During the six months preceding departure, the group met once to twice a month with French teachers Sébastien Merle and Suzanne DeRoberts, who chaperoned the trip, to prepare for the cultural experience.

On April 9 we met at Logan Airport, packed and prepared. We took a six-hour red-eye flight on Air France, which served a surprisingly gourmet meal (chicken fricassee with bulgur and slivered squash with a side of salmon couscous, served with bread, cheese, and rice pudding for dessert) and a delightfully French breakfast (chocolate croissants).

In Paris, we wasted no time traveling the city on foot, morning to night, from the Eiffel Tower to the Palace of Versailles to the Musée D’Orsay to the Cathédrale Notre Dame.

When we weren’t seeing the sights, we enjoyed the gastronomic delight that is France. In the mornings, we enjoyed croissants and toast with coffee or hot chocolate. Lunches were just quick sandwiches from cafés, but for dinner, we ate in style.

On the first night, we had fondue that involved a giant wheel of cheese, a metal spike, a heat lamp, potatoes, and various deli meats.

Dinner the second night consisted of crêpes stuffed with cheese, meat, and vegetables, then dessert crêpes with blueberries or chocolate and whipped cream.

A one-hour flight south on Wednesday took us to Toulouse, where the group split up to meet our host families. Each family had a teenager between 16 and 18 years old, and every teen hosting an American student attended the same school, the Lycée Pierre d’Aragon.

We Americans accompanied our host siblings to school on Thursday and Friday and got to see French teens in action.

We learned that boredom in class is universal, that French boys have impeccable fashion sense, that girls plan out their “Nexts (their next boyfriend after they break up with the one they have), and that a two-hour lunch break is absolutely heavenly.

Over the weekend, our host families entertained us in various ways; some students went to discothèques (dance clubs), some to museums and famous landmarks, and some shopping in the city.

On Monday morning, we bade a sad farewell to our host families, and laden down with gifts, we took another one-hour flight to Paris.

We toured the Louvre, climbed the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed a delicious dinner on the second floor (shredded crab salad, chicken in creamy mustard sauce on a bed of sautéed vegetables, and molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream), and finished our trip with a nighttime boat ride down the Seine River.

The next morning, we were back on Air France, enjoying another quality meal (spinach lasagna with egg salad, served with bread, cheese, and hazelnut cake).

Eight hours later we were back in Newton’€jetlagged, nostalgic, and thoroughly Frenchified.

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Fashion advice, with a modern twist http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/fashion-advice-with-a-modern-twist/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/fashion-advice-with-a-modern-twist/#comments Wed, 13 May 2009 16:53:50 +0000 Alice Lee http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2343 Web logs, better known as “blogs, are one of the many new phenomena hitting our generation.

A type of website, blogs consist of regular entries by the blogger, either addressing a particular subject or simply acting as a diary.

To be wholly diplomatic, most, if not all, blogs are interesting in their own ways; but my personal favorite by far is the fashion blog.

Now, when I say “fashion blog, I don’t mean the corporate-maintained blogs that promote designer products with glossy picture after glossy picture of the hottest new trends, and nary a price in sight.
The blogs I mean are the semi-diaries maintained by young people around the world, centered on the fashion they wear and observe.

A sample of this kind of blog is “Childhood Flames, maintained by a 16-year-old from Oregon.

Almost daily, the teen, who refers to herself as Camille, posts photos of her outfit that day’€usually something minimal, hip, and mind-bogglingly stylish’€along with descriptions of each piece of clothing and a few details of her day.

One of her typical posts reads: “selfmade cape/poncho, Paige Premium Denim Jeans, altered vera wang for kohl’s boots, cynthia rowley bag¦ I’m off to meet up with friends! Hope you all are having a lovely weekend! :)
Every now and then, Camille comments on runway and designer fashion with the eye of an expert. Her critique is, for me, more relatable than Vogue’s, because it is written from the perspective of someone who, though knowledgeable about fashion, fully realizes that it isn’t something she’ll go out and buy to wear to school.

In Camille’s blog, I get to see the insider’s opinion on top designers without the sickening sense of envy I would have for someone who could actually buy 1,169 dollar leather boots.

Camille’s style of personal-fashion blogging gives a more realistic perspective to fashion in terms of price, size, and all-around wear-ability (because some of those runway fashions simply cannot be worn off the catwalk).
The amateur fashionistas who maintain this kind of blog are usually young, ranging from teens to early 20s, and, for the most part, have the same budget limitations as I do.

Furthermore, their style is usually more street-friendly (i.e. no feathery black 5-inch heels, like the ones we saw in Toni Maticevski’s Spring 2009 collection), and can be worn by non-models with realistically-sized hips. Another type of fashion blog is the professionally-maintained but non-corporate blog, a term more confusing than it should be.

In essence, I mean “The Sartorialist, a blog maintained by Scott Schuman, who once worked as director of men’s fashion for Bergdorf Goodman and has since moved on to fashion media.

The photoblog captures the style of real people on the street whose fashion Schuman finds striking or noteworthy. For instance, a recent posting, labeled, “On the Streets¦Legs, Paris, consists of photographs of Parisians wearing leg-baring skirts and tunics to welcome the spring season.

While I can still appreciate “The Sartorialist’s prêt-a-porter (ready-to-wear), “real people quality, it lacks the relatability of amateur blogs. The fashion that Schuman photographs and comments on is real enough, but is mostly worn by mid-twenties to middle-aged young urban professionals on the streets of large cities’€not something a high schooler in Newton can really connect with.

Then, there are the blogs that I so cruelly satirized in the second paragraph, the ones with the glossy photographs of designer products. But in all fairness, corporate-maintained fashion blogs are perfectly legitimate and are, in fact, becoming a lucrative part of mainstream fashion media.

My previous and perhaps rather exaggerated characterization of such blogs, however, accurately reflects my opinion of them.

While they are certainly a way for the public to follow the newest collections and designs, they represent a lifestyle completely out of reach for me, the average teenager, as they focus mainly on what’s new on the runway and what the celebrities are sporting.

Furthermore, this kind of blogging is simply another medium for mass advertisement; it is basically the publication of online magazines without printed counterparts.

An example is “Coutorture, a fashion blog network purchased in 2007 by Sugar Publishing.

The main page currently reads: “Fall 2009 Trend Report: Over-The-Knee, Please, over a photo of a runway model clad in the thigh-high leather boots that were “all over the Fall 2009 catwalks, in styles that ranged from stocking-like to trouser-like in their appearance.

The site also boasts several photo galleries (currently, Japanese Fashion Week for Fall 2009 collections), articles about fashion and couture news, photo editorials, and lifestyle articles (“Events: Dinner In Honor of Gucci’s Frida Giannini’€clearly part of my lifestyle).

In sum, there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of different fashion blogs in the blogosphere.
From the categories I named above to accessory-focused blogs to celebrity fashion blogs to blogs exclusively on runway fashion, there are infinite choices for the computer-savvy fashionista to browse through.
My personal preference, though, will always be the amateur, anti-elitist, less label-conscious sites maintained by people in my own age group. Upbeat, aesthetic, and frankly addicting, these blogs are a way to find fresh ideas about fashion, style, elegance, and sartorial creativity.

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