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Denebola » Connie Gong 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 Wikileaks: Treason http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/wikileaks-treason/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/wikileaks-treason/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 06:30:47 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5171 Wikileaks has made front page news once again for its recent release of thousands of pages of confidential diplomatic cables. This comes only months after the October 2010 release of over 400,000 documents regarding the Iraq War and the July 2010 release of 92,000 documents related to the War in Afghanistan.
The site’s stated goal is to ensure that whistleblowers and journalists are not jailed for releasing sensitive documents, an excuse the site has used to justify the indiscriminant release of confidential information that has thrown American diplomacy into a crisis.
In the name of transparency, Wikileaks has openly revealed intimate operational details about the United States’ military operations within Iraq and Afghanistan, including the identities of informants and undercover allies.
Every piece of information providing Americans with an uncensored glimpse into foreign policy developments also allows foreign governments and American enemies similar insight. Covers are blown, intelligence networks are disrupted, and American agents lose their ability to access information necessary to protect the lives of American citizens, at home and abroad.
The problem with Wikileaks is not the site’s attempts to promote transparency, but rather its disregard for the detrimental ramifications of the information it releases. Site founder Julian Assange has been widely criticized for his egotism, recklessness, and notorious anti-war agenda. Wikileaks, under Assange’s lead, seems to be more about self-promotion and sensational new-making than about providing the public with unbiased, prudent information.
Sometimes, secrecy is necessary for the preservation of our nation’s security and the safety of our citizens. We elect officials to represent us because we don’t have the time or knowledge or experience to deal with the complexities of international relations and diplomacy.
In doing so, we place a certain amount of trust in our government to weigh repercussions and make decisions that will create favorable outcomes. Our leaders spend their time considering the political situation of our country, and without that level of knowledge and experience, the hasty conclusions we come to may not be in our best interest.
This doesn’t mean we follow our government blindly, but it does mean we shouldn’t demand complete transparency at all levels of government operation. We allow the CIA and the military to keep secrets because complete openness would leave all of us vulnerable to the whims of radical or ignorant minorities.
Wikileaks cannot seem to determine when its revelations will have positive impacts and when they will cause irrevocable damage to the United States. In the recent leak of thousands of US diplomatic cables, many of the documents held nothing that would inform the public or lead us to make reforms to improve our policies.
Even informative documents came at a heavy cost, revealing details that deeply strained diplomatic relations, damaged alliances, damaged US prestige and endangered foreign diplomats.
Many cables contained information that amounted to no more than highly classified and damaging gossip. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was described as feckless, vain and ineffective. Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi apparently rarely travels without the companionship of his senior Ukrainian nurse, “a voluptuous blonde.
Another account mocked Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe “deep ignorance on economic issues (coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him the authority to suspend the laws of economics).
More substantial cables revealed that Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to launch air strikes on Iran to eradicate its nuclear program; the Yemeni government has been covering up US air strikes on suspected Al Qaeda militants; American diplomats to the UN were instructed to gather computer passwords, credit card numbers, and biometric information about top UN officials; China attempted to hack into Google’s servers as part of an elaborate sabatoge plan; and the US and South Korea have plans for invading North Korea after Pyongyang’s hypothetical collapse.
These revelations have the potential to disrupt American operations abroad, in ways that may be impossible to predict. One effect that is certain: America’s credibility on the world stage is collapsing, as it reveals itself incapable of protecting classified information.

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Lebensraum explores unconventional hypothetical http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/lebensraum-explores-unconventional-hypothetical/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/lebensraum-explores-unconventional-hypothetical/#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 08:20:50 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4979 Lebensraum, literally “living space, was a major component of Nazi ideology.
Formulated by Adolf Hitler, this political idea served as motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide more land for the German people and encourage the growth of the German nation.
Confronting a sensitive and emotionally charged subject matter, the play Lebensraum is powerful and compelling.
It considers the complex and contradictory feelings surrounding the Holocaust and its aftermath.
Though Lebensraum takes its name from the Nazi policy, it uses the moniker ironically.
The play begins with a proclamation by Rudolph Stroiber, chancellor of Germany. The chancellor extends an open invitation to six million Jews from all around the world, inviting them to with full citizenship and privileges. Stroiber seeks to atone for the atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II.
Stroiber’s announcement is met with both joy and anger. An old woman curses the Nazis and vows never to forget.
An old Australian man considers returning to the home he has not seen since he was a boy. A planted actor rises from the middle of the audience to cry “Heil Hitler!
Black-shrouded actors storm in from the back of the auditorium to beat the Nazi-sympathizer to death.
He is left in the middle of a silent stage, a river of blood flowing from his skull in the form of a long, red handkerchief.
We are abruptly introduced several intertwined story lines. Over 50 characters and narrators are portrayed by 22 black-clad actors, who slip in and out of character by donning sweaters, hats, scarves and jackets.
The stage cues are clever, fluid, and initially confusing. The narrators, speaking directly to the audience, introduce a myriad of characters with only a few lines each.
But as the play narrows in on a few, major storylines, several characters become easily recognizable by distinguishing costume pieces.
The first Jews to arrive for the internationally televised Project Homecoming are a pair of flamboyant, gay Frenchmen (Daniel Bender Stern and Raphael Kasobel).
They are quickly carted off for the sake of appearances. The world is introduced to the Linskys, an all-American, half-Jewish, working class family from Boston.
Mike Linsky (Jake Light), is an out-of-work dock worker with a penchant for jean jackets and a thirst for adventure. His wife, Lizzy (Sarah Wanger) is a cheerful home-maker; their son, Sammy (Sam Dorfman), just wants to go back to America.
Mike Linsky, poster-boy for Project Homecoming, gets promoted quickly through the ranks at his new dock job, and is proclaimed a major success. However, not everyone is happy with this turn of events. Resentment grows from native-born Germans who are pushed from their jobs as new Jews are welcomed to the country. Gustav Geisling (Conrad Buys), is fired from his foreman position and organizes other dock workers to strike, protesting the rapid influx of Jews into the country.
Meanwhile, Max Zylberstein (Allegra Borak), a Holocaust survivor who has been living in Australia for over 60 years, also takes the invitation to return to Germany.
Returning to Berlin, he tracks down the woman who turned his family in to the police, now bedridden and unable to speak.
Instead of killing her, he has himself hired as her caretaker and merely sits by her bed every single day, inflicting a painfully exquisite torture by virtue of his presence.
Max Zylberstein is compellingly portrayed by Allegra Borak, whose mannerisms are nuanced and riveting. The portrayal of the sinister yet piteous Zylberstein is haunting.
Back in the Geisling household, Gustav’s teenage daughter Anna (Madeline Schulman) is slowly gaining awareness of how Germany is viewed by the world, for the apparent complicity of ordinary citizens during the Holocaust.
In a not-unpredictable twist, Anna Geisling and Sammy Linsky fall in love, in spite of polarizing cultural differences.
Anna teaches Sammy German; Sammy introduces Anna to the American notions of love. The romance between the two teens is endearingly portrayed by Dorfman and Schulman. They are both likeable and charming as two fresh-faced teenagers, in love for the first time.As the relationship between the star-crossed lovers blossoms, so does the tension between Jewish and German workers.
As the play reaches its climax, a violent standoff between dock workers arises just as Anna and Sammy are having a romantic moment alone across the water. Anna is shot by a stray bullet.
The standoff across the stage quickly dissolves, and again we are left with a silence stage. This time, it is a young girl lying alone beneath the spotlight, red handkerchief streaming from her hair.
The storylines are quickly raveled up after Anna’s death. Zylberstein’s ward dies, and he too passes away. Project Homecoming fades from the front page. At Anna’s funeral, the actors come forward one by one, paying their respects by dropping white roses on her grave.
As they run out of flowers, they shed their characters, dropping the costumes in the pile at center stage.
The pile grows and the lights dim. Slowly, a whispered refrain is taken up by all the actors, slowly growing in strength and volume.
A single, flickering candle is brought to stage center.
The play ends with actors linking hands, the chanting growing to a fever pitch: “Never again. Never again. NEVER AGAIN.

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MSF; perks of globalization http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/msf-perks-of-globalization/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/msf-perks-of-globalization/#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 05:30:33 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5022 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, humanitarian organization that provides medical care and other aid to people struggling for survival.
MSF operates in nearly 60 war torn regions and developing countries, where armed conflict, malnutrition, epidemics, natural disaster, or poverty prevents inhabitants from obtaining health care.
Established in 1971 by a group of French doctors and journalists, MSF was created to respond to the Biafra Secession.
The southeastern providences of Nigeria attempted to withdraw from the country and establish independence as the Republic of Biafra.
The resulting civil war caused widespread genocide, starvation, and disease.
When the war reached a stalemate, Biafra remained blockaded, restricting the access of humanitarian organizations.
In the war’s aftermath, a group of volunteer doctors who had worked to bring aid into the country created MSF, a neutral organization providing impartial assistance.
MSF continues that tradition of impartiality today. Aid is provided regardless of race, class, gender, religion, or political affiliation.
MSF operates independently of any governmental organization or political agenda.
90 percent of MSF’s funding comes from private sources, enabling it to retain independence.
This neutrality gives MSF more access in regions of the world where partisan humanitarian organizations might be turned away. It takes no side in armed conflicts, offering aid on the basis of need alone.
Driven by the idea of medical ethics, MSF shoulders the responsibility of providing medical aid wherever it is needed.
In fact, MSF’s only agenda is to increase access for humanitarian organizations to victims of conflict worldwide.
More than half of MSF’s programs are in response to armed conflict or political instability.
MSF provides medical care to people caught in war zones, including those who may have been injured by knife or gunshot wounds, bombings, or sexual violence.
Medical care is also provided to refugees or displaced people who have fled to camps or temporary shelters. Field teams offer vaccinations, clean water, basic supplies, and shelter.
Mobile clinics are also set up to treat malnutrition and infectious disease.
MSF also responds to natural disasters, which can overwhelm local or national health structures.
MSF teams are often already present in regions where natural disasters have occurred and are able to quickly respond and set up refugee camps.
Over the past decade, MSF has been vital in the treatment for devastating epidemic diseases.
In addition to responding to outbreaks of cholera, meningitis, measles, and malaria, MSF also works in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment of tuberculosis, the number one killer of those with HIV/AIDS carriers.
HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects the poorest inhabitants of Africa, where 92 percent of all AIDS deaths occurred in recently years.
MSF’s efforts have been invaluable throughout many historical times of crisis.
MSF has responded to disasters like the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, the 1996 meningitis epidemic in Nigeria, the South Asian tsunami, Hurricane Mitch, and famine in Ethiopia, North Korea, Angola, and Southern Sudan.
Currently MSF employs over 27,000 individuals from over 19 offices around the world, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Qualified medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, logisticians, and sanitation experts work in the field to provide medical expertise worldwide.
Doctors who work with MSF are entirely volunteers, receiving only minimal compensation for living expenses.
Despite this, MSF employs qualified and expert aid workers, providing high quality care from knowledgeable staff.
Recruits include surgeons, physicians, epidemiologists, pharmacists, HIV/AIDS specialists, midwives, nurses, and obstetricians.
Last year, MSF medical teams provided over 9 million outpatient consultations, hospitalized half a million, delivered 99,000 babies, treated 1.8 million people for malaria, treated 150,000 malnourished children, vaccinated 1.8 million people, and conducted 64,000 surgeries.
Though entirely dependent on the goodwill of medical professionals and the generosity of private donations, it is astounding how much MSF is able to accomplish.
In 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its ability to provide medical care during crises, as well as raising awareness of humanitarian disasters.
It continues these humanitarian efforts today.

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Global Focus: Idun Klakegg http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/global-focus-idun-klakegg/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/global-focus-idun-klakegg/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 06:03:24 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4918 According to Klakegg, nationality has always been a large influence in her life. “Separating myself from my nationality is almost impossible, so pinpointing a specific way being Norwegian contributes to my life is difficult, Klakegg said, when asked about the impact of her background.
Klakegg’s American mother and Norwegian father met in Norway after college. She was born in Oslo and moved to the United States at the age of 8.
“Norwegian culture is a very integral part of me, to the point where it’s hard to say how it influences me, Klakegg said. “I wouldn’t really say being Norwegian ‘Ëœmeans something’ to me, it’s more a basic part of me, like being 5’6 and having blonde hair and blue eyes.
After attending South her freshman year, Klakegg wanted to spend a year abroad. She decided to spend her sophomore year living with her father in Norway. She spent the year studying at a Norwegian high school.
“The school system was very different. There, you can choose a ‘Ëœmajor’ of sorts, which will influence what your electives are. Academically, the school was much, much easier than South.
Norwegian schools give the option of following a strictly academic course but also have specialized options such as carpentry, media and technology, art, and design. Klakegg was given the option of applying to a music, dance, or drama program. She chose and was admitted to the Music program, which she enjoyed immensely.
“It was also a very valuable experience musically. As part of the program, 45 minutes of private lessons in your main instrument, 20 minutes for each of two secondary instruments, two hours of theory, four hours of chorus, one hour of dance, and one hour of drama, and one hour of listening class were incorporated into our weekday in addition to academic subjects.
Klakegg praises the government, a social democracy, which offers very good social welfare programs allowing a high standard of living. She describes daily life as different and more laid back than her experience in Newton.
“I would say people are generally more relaxed there, which I think stems from the general feeling of security. There’s a general sense that you will be taken care of there, which I think both promotes both a general well-being and a certain lack of drive.
She notes that there are some differences in the level of awareness Norwegian youth have of their surroundings.
“As a very wide generalization, people are slightly more aware of what is happening in the world, and especially youth are more active and engaged in social activism.
Overall, she describes the experience as positive and eye opening.
“I would quite honestly say it’s given me a much wider perspective. Living in Norway is wonderful because of the relaxed attitude people have there.

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Commonwealth Games tension http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/commonwealth-games-tension/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/commonwealth-games-tension/#comments Thu, 30 Sep 2010 05:02:56 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4693 Everyone’s heard of the Olympics. But the Commonwealth Games, an international, multi-sport event, get far less media coverage in the United States.
Like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games are held every four years, with a rotating host nation. However, participant nations must be part of the Commonwealth of Nations, a federation of countries that were formerly British colonies.
By all accounts, the United States should be a participant in these games. Nearly all former British colonies, including now sovereign nations, take part in the Games.
America’s pride in her independence, however, has kept us from ever competing, which explains the lack of mainstream media coverage of the event.
This year’s Commonwealth Games are scheduled to begin on October 3, and are hosted in New Delhi, India.
Much like the Beijing Olympics did for China, the Commonwealth Games are supposed to reinvent India’s image and celebrate India’s emergence into the 21st century.
But from the very start, the Games have been plagued with one crisis after another.
Participant nations are threatening to pull out of the even because of unsafe conditions for athletes. Rumors of graft and corruption, an outbreak of dengue fever, heavy monsoon rains, and traffic chaos all threaten to derail the Games.
Scotland, New Zealand, England, and Canada have voiced concerns over the standard of living for the more the 6,000 athletes prepared to participate in the Games.
Portions of the sporting village have been declared uninhabitable, lacking furnishings, covered in rubble, and infested with vermin.
India is attempting, in a frenzy of last minute preparation, to finish construction of various athletic and housing facilities. The rush, however, is imposing dangerous conditions on workers.
On September 21, 23 people, mainly construction workers, were injured by the collapse of a footbridge under construction to the main Games stadium collapsed. Another disaster followed immediately, when a portion of the ceiling caved in on the main Commonwealth Games stadium the next day.
With the deadline on October 3 looming, it remains to be seen if India can improve conditions and pull through with negotiations to keep big ticket athletes in the Games.
If last minute preparations are unsuccessful, it is possible that the event may have to be cancelled, which would be a heavy blow to India’s image and world standing.

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Opposing Viewpoints: Globalization – Benefits of a connected world http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/opposing-viewpoints-globalization-benefits-of-a-connected-world/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/opposing-viewpoints-globalization-benefits-of-a-connected-world/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 05:07:40 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4522 Through the integration of international economies, societies and cultures, globalization has made the world more connected. Driven by economic, technological and political factors, the globalization of our world has huge positive ramifications for us all.

In an economic context, globalization has led to the reduction and removal of barriers between countries’ borders, facilitating more free trade. The creation of this free trade zone with minimal or no tariffs, results in reduction of transportation costs, reduction of capital controls, subsidies of global corporations, and universal recognition of intellectual property laws.

The emergence of a global market has given countries more options when it comes to buying and selling goods. People are able to choose from products from many different nations, and competition among global markets spurs competition in cost, keeping inflation and prices down. The flexibility of corporations to operate across borders increases, allowing the rise of multinational corporations.

These lowered trade barriers are extremely beneficial for less developed nations. Not only are huge international markets opened to them, but the lower cost of production in these countries allows them an advantage when competing in the global market. The cash flow into developing countries decreases dollar differences around the world, improving the standard of living in these countries. Furthermore, as liquidity of capital increases, developed countries are able to invest in developing ones.

A global market also increases the exchange of ideas. An open economy spurs fresh ideas and innovation in a way that increases the quality and quantity of goods and services. Growth easily spreads between regions as trades burden, effectively creating a domino chain in which neighboring economies prosper as they grow dependent on each others’ support. Productivity also increases as countries are able to increase their comparative advantages and specialize to produce goods and services more efficiently.

Economic benefit, the most tangible advantage, leads to many more social and cultural benefits. The interdependence of the world economy reduces the likelihood of hostility and war; countries are less likely to attack or antagonize each other if they have established friendly trade relations, or depend on each others’ economic success.

A gradual world power is being created, as many of the most important political decisions today must be approved by multiple countries.

Soon, no country will be the sole power head and global decisions will be weighed in on by all countries, ensuring that decisions regarding the future of our world will have input from everyone living in it.

Intermingling of cultural preferences is another advantage. Many countries are being exposed to the more liberal Western culture, leading to benefits as the ideas of democracy and social equality spread. Western societies are also benefiting from exposure to foreign ideas, creating a more diverse and accepting society.

The standardization of cultural identity creates shared cultural values, allowing people from all over the world to have a better understanding of each other. This helps promote peace and harmony among different cultures and ethnicities.

This process, known as homogenization, has created somewhat of a multicultural identity. Trans-border data flow such as communication satellites, the internet and wireless telephones allow popular culture and entertainment to become widely available to anyone, anywhere.

Copyright laws, patents and trade agreements can be extended globally, as well as international enforcement and criminal systems.

Cooperation among many nations allows countries to address global environmental problems such as cross-boundary pollution, over fishing inoceans, and the issue of climate change. The input of countries throughout the world is necessary to address global problems.

Through technology, cultural exchange, and the economy, the world is being made into a much smaller place, not in terms of size, but in terms of cohesion. The development of a global hegemony can only be a benefit for us, bringing people of all different creeds together under the single banner of humanity.

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PTSO fights cultural differences to get parents involved http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/05/21/ptso-fights-cultural-differences-to-get-parents-involved/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/05/21/ptso-fights-cultural-differences-to-get-parents-involved/#comments Fri, 21 May 2010 04:01:06 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4328 Newton South’s PTSO is looking for more participation from Asian and other minority parents. Julie Sall, Newton South’s PTSO president, suggested this initiative. Sall has helped structure and improve the organization of Newton’s elementary, middle, and high schools.

The PTSO has a hand in a wide range of school programs, supporting teachers and students at all grade levels. The PTSO organizes several school events, such as graduation, South Stage, South Fest, and music at South. Many events are supported by parents who work on a volunteer basis.

Currently, the PTSO is not getting volunteers in the same balance as the population of the school. “When we look for volunteers, we tend to see there aren’t the same balance of parents involved, Sall said.

18.9 percent of South’s students identify themselves as Asian, but a far smaller percentage of parent volunteers are Asian. This is not to say, however, that all Asian parents are uninvolved.

“My parents are pretty involved in what I do¦they email my teachers when certain school things are happening and they help out the band by bringing food to all of the concerts, senior John Chan said.

Nevertheless, the PTSO still struggles to get more parents on the committee.

“It’s not even just time or money, Sall said. “We get a lot of monetary support and extra hands, but we want to be sure we are doing a good job communicating to everybody…We can’t understand what we need to do unless people are involved.

There are many factors that play into this lack of involvement.

In some cases, the language barrier plays a role, as some first generation immigrants do not speak English as their first language. Another problem is getting in contact with families.

The school does not have email information from many Asian parents, which creates a difficulty given the amount of communication that is now sent out electronically.

Junior Tony Wang also notes that many Asian parents hesitate when interfering when their children are doing well.

“My parents don’t really pay attention to what’s happening at school unless I’m doing badly¦I think a lot Asian parents are used to the idea of only getting involved when I’m not doing well, Wang said.

This could reflect wider cultural differences. Some Asian parents hesitate to get involved simply because they are unused to a level of such cooperation between parents and the school system.

They are accustomed to only interfering when their child preforms badly, and the parents don’t feel the need to involve themselves when all their child is doing well in school.

This lack of participation hurts both students and the school. The PTSO is not getting the input it needs so that all constitudents of the parent teacher body are represented.

The goal of the PTSO is to include as many members of its constituents as possible in order to fully represent the population of students at South. To foster a more diverse and all-encompassing learning environment, it is vital that parents from diverse background participate and contribute feedback.

“I’m interested in a way for getting greater participation and finding people who might be leaders in different communities…so that we get a greater perspective and bring new insight into the school, Sall said.

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How does South compare? http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/how-does-south-compare/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/how-does-south-compare/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 04:20:12 +0000 Connie Gong http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4085 In general, I am a fair representative of an average student at this predominantly upper-middle class, liberal, suburban community of South. I feel the pressure of academic achievement, the stress of an honors-loaded schedule, and the expectations my parents and peers have for me.

Growing up in Newton has been a huge influence on who I am.

I feel lucky to be living in Newton. It is true that the population at South is in some sense homogenous, white and Jewish.

However, the environment at South is extremely accepting of diversity; in fact, much emphasis is put on celebrating our differences.

It is okay to be an individual: black, white, Latino or Asian, gay or straight, or anything in between. Cultural and ethnic differences are very much accepted at South. We may not be perfect, but we recognize the importance of acceptance.

Despite all our diversity and differences, there are very many pressures and influences that affect most South students. South is an academically prestigious school and there is a strong pressure to succeed. Being a relatively wealthy community with an emphasis on education, Newton spent an average of $14,254 on each student in 2008, higher than almost every other district in Massachusetts and the nation.

As a result, the Newton school district regularly performs better across all grade levels and all subjects on the MCAS than the state average.

High achievement only continues to create high expectations. It’s a common stereotype that South students take lots of honors and AP’s. We strive for straight A’s, perfect SAT scores and 5′s on AP tests.

For many students at South, there is the expectation that they will be academically successful, attend a top college, get a good job, and continue the tradition of an upper-middle class life.

A perfect example of this is the Wall of Shame. Students are encouraged to post up their rejection letters, obstensibly in order to create a less stressful environment.

This often backfires, however, because looking at the rejection letters received by seniors both emphasizes the caliber of colleges students at this school apply to, and creates even more pressure from fear of failure.

While I acknowledge that some of this pressure is self-induced, I must say that circumstances might be very different if I attended a different high school.

Newton South is filled to the brim with students who are so academically oriented that the pressure from those at the top gets passed down.

Of course, I think a high pressure environment has created the conditions for success for many. Because we are expected to do well, we push ourselves more than we otherwise might have.

Because we are put in situations where success is almost required, we do succeed. I am very grateful that South is the school it is, because I know without the environment of South, without the classes and encourage and expectations of the school, I would not have been given the opportunities that I have.

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