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Denebola » Ben Chelmow 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 The monitoring of library computers upholds their educational purposes http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/the-monitoring-of-library-computers-upholds-their-educational-purposes/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/the-monitoring-of-library-computers-upholds-their-educational-purposes/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 07:00:53 +0000 Ben Chelmow http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3176 During a free block the other day, I logged onto commonapp.com to check the status of my college applications. Seeing that all was well, I opened up a new tab to nfl.com. In a matter of seconds, the screen went dark, and I was locked out of the system.

Did I feel frustrated? Absolutely. I found it to be both oppressive and a violation of privacy. I’m sure that I am not the only student who has had this experience, and I’m sure that other students have felt similarly when it happened to them.

But before we get worked up with righteous fury, the question needs to be asked: why exactly are the computers being monitored? And the answer is that is the administration’s way of ensuring that valuable public resources are being used appropriately.

First off, the school purchased the computers in the library for the purpose of completing schoolwork. The library provides a quiet, comfortable area for students to work on homework, conduct research, study, or complete other academically related tasks.

Any other kind of activity not only disrupts the library’s academic environment, but hinders other students from staying on-task. For me, logging onto a non-academic website to check football statistics seemed like a harmless diversion, but to someone else who needed to use the computer to print an essay or access a teacher’s webpage, it must have been plain obnoxious.

In the past, students could only access sites bookmarked on each computer. Now, with more freedom to browse, it is only natural that monitoring efforts be increased and limitations be set. Students have the right to access the information they desire, but in an academic environment, the information should be relevant to school.

Second, there is the issue of privacy. Some would argue that with the new monitoring system, librarians can read students’ emails, which constitutes a violation of privacy. But that argument bases itself on the misconception that just because the system is in place, it is being used for the express purpose of “spying on students.

However, this is not the case. While librarians can view what is on each computer screen, the purpose of their monitoring is to detect inappropriate or school-irrelevant activity. The content of emails, passwords, or other personal notes is not being reviewed, much less scrutinized over.

It should also be made clear that the library is not a private place, nor is each computer a private commodity. The library and all equipment contained therein are public resources, provided for all members of the school community to use. The computers being the property of the school, the school can reserve the right to take measures that ensure that they are being used appropriately.

If the resources are otherwise taken advantage of and abused, not only are students who need to complete academic tasks put at a disadvantage, but the school system’s several-thousand-dollar investment in the technology is being put to waste. Such misuse shows disrespect not only to the library, but to other students as well.

The library is a tremendous academic resource, providing students with a place to study during the day, and its computers are some of the most valuable assets. And yet, every day, there are numerous instances of students spending time on websites unrelated to schoolwork and monopolizing computers that are sorely needed by their peers.

The monitoring system helps ensure that these situations are kept to a minimum. After all, the computers are of no benefit to the South community if they are being used for purposes other than their intended academic ones, even if innocent.

The librarians’ monitoring of the computers is fully justified and, as it is being used with discretion and for non-invasive purposes, not a violation of privacy. Personally, I am glad that they are doing what they can to ensure that educational resources remain educational.

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Colleges debate benefits of new Score Choice policy http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/colleges-debate-benefits-of-new-score-choice-policy/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/colleges-debate-benefits-of-new-score-choice-policy/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 09:39:34 +0000 Ben Chelmow http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2923 Members of the Class of 2010 will now have the option of utilizing the College Board’s decision last January to implement Score Choice, a program that gives students the freedom to choose which SAT scores they wish reported to colleges.

According to the College Board website, Score Choice is designed to “reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience.

Senior Alan Shkolnikov agrees that Score Choice not only helps alleviate a considerable amount of stress but also makes the overall standardized testing experience fairer.

“By being able to take the test numerous times, it relieves the stress of having to do well each and every time you take the test, he said.

Shkolnikov also notes that with the new policy, scores that are adversely affected by sickness and other uncontrollable factors will no longer be a problem.

Guidance Counselor Margaret Shih observed that Score Choice has evoked “mixed responses.
Shih believes that “educating students on the logistics of score reporting is paramount.

She also believes it is the responsibility of the colleges to make policies on score reporting clear.
Many colleges and universities have expressed support for Score Choice.

“The fact that test results will not automatically be part of the permanent record may help to alleviate some of the stress that pervades the college admissions process, the Harvard College Office of Admissions wrote in a statement released shortly after the announcement of the policy.

Furthermore, the Harvard College Office of Admissions believes that “applicants should be free to present their own best case.

To the school’s admissions officers, Score Choice is emblematic of a student’s right to exercise freedom and responsibility.

Yale, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, however, disagree with Harvard. Yale, one of Score Choice’s preeminent critics, announced that it would not accept scores sent via the Score Choice option.

According to the Yale Daily News, Score Choice raises, rather than mitigates, the stress that accompanies college admissions.

“A student with a disappointing score–whether 1700, 2000 or 2300–may jump at the opportunity to try again, the Yale Daily News said in an opinion piece published last January.

Without the fear of having to report poor scores, students are pressured into a test retaking frenzy, pouring months into test preparation and ultimately becoming more stressed, according to the newspaper.

The Yale Daily News also notes that the new mindset puts financially needy students at a competitive disadvantage, as they may not be able to afford the expenses of test retakes.

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Roxbury exchange program increases appreciation for South’s educational rigor http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/04/15/roxbury-exchange-program-increases-appreciation-for-south%e2%80%99s-educational-rigor/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/04/15/roxbury-exchange-program-increases-appreciation-for-south%e2%80%99s-educational-rigor/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2009 09:30:34 +0000 Ben Chelmow http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2188 March 20 was a normal school day for all but 20 South students. These students were part of High School Connections, a new exchange program with the Urban Science Academy (USA), a small, science and technology-focused subset of West Roxbury Educational Complex. In addition to South’s visit to USA, 20 USA students visited South on March 23.

The idea of a Newton-Boston Public School exchange program first arose in 2006 when the Social Justice Club visited Hyde Park High School in conjunction with a Howard Zinn lecture.

South METCO counselor and Black Student Union (BSU) advisor Katani Sumner wrote a grant for the exchange earlier this year.

Sponsored by the PTSO, the BSU, and the principal’s discretionary fund, the grant called for two separate exchanges, one in October and one in March, each involving a group of 40 South and USA students.
While at USA, each South student shadowed a USA student, following and observing them throughout the day.
Many South students were shocked by the drastic differences between USA and South. At USA, students have no free time; free blocks, study halls, and open campus privileges were nonexistent. A dress code was strictly enforced that did not permit students to wear hats.

South students also remarked on how USA’s academics were far less rigorous than South’s. Standard level courses at USA were comparable to curriculum II courses at South. In addition because of the newness of AP programs, students seldom scored higher than 3′s.

“I feel that [the exchange] was an eye-opener and a good experience to be a part of because it teaches us to be grateful and appreciative of all that we already have, South senior and exchange participant Amanda Miranda said.

Following USA’s visit to South, Sumner and Anita Sutton, USA’s faculty liaison to the program, held a debriefing in the library.

The debriefing, focused largely on USA’s visit to South, serving as a forum in which students could express their reactions to the exchange. 20 South students, their USA shadows, the South students who participated in the October exchange, and the BSU officers were present at the meeting.

USA students remarked on how they found life at South surprisingly “laid back.

Compared to USA, teachers at South did not seem highly concerned with lateness or the behavior of students, and USA students pointed out that at their school, students are often forced to participate in class.

Some USA students expressed admiration for this freedom, comparing the teaching styles of teachers at South to those of college professors, yet man of them felt that their lest favorite aspect of South were the free blocks, calling them boring.

Sumner asked the USA students about how they thought South could be improved. USA students remarked on how teachers should be more “engaging; the relationship between teachers and students was noticeably “distant. They did not see many teachers talking to students about topics other than academics.
Many of them remarked that South’s overall student community seemed highly fractious.

“There are a whole bunch of separate groups. Nobody meets anyone else, USA student Isaac Weeks said. USA students agreed that something should be done to promote connectivity within the student body.
USA and South students agreed that the exchange was a valuable experience.

South senior Alex Caron remarked on how the experience of visiting another school, particularly a less privileged one, “really teaches you to appreciate your own school. Caron also suggested that students should shadow each other for an entire week rather than just one day during future exchanges.
Sumner felt that the impact of the program was “overwhelmingly positive.

“It would be great to set [the exchange] up as a partnership so that both of the schools can continue to learn and grow with the experience, Sumner said.

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