By Courtney FosterWhat do Abe Lincoln, Santa Claus, and Conan O’Brien all have in common? Check their faces. Now more than ever, the latest hot fashion is: the styling of facial hair.We see celebrities and teachers alike sporting carefully and diligently shaped beards. Although the stars may have their beards masterminded by expensive stylists, the unshaven educators in Newton simply have a different opinion: the beard selects the man, not the other way around. “I can’t say that I ‘chose’ it,” Physics teacher Alexander Kraus said. “I wanted facial hair, but not a full beard.”Others, such as Fine Arts Coordinator Jeff Knoedler go as far as to personify their beards.“I didn’t really choose my beard style,” Knoedler said. “It chose me.”Still, a select few not only give their beards personalities, but, in contrast, let their beards rule over them completely.“You don’t choose your beard,” French teacher Sebastien Merle said. “Your beard chooses you, and then you comply with what it has decided for you.”These teachers also come to the consensus that a hairdresser to tame one’s beard is unnecessary.“[My beard is created solely by] my face and me,” Knoedler said, as does Merle, denoting that his beard is “all [him].”Whether a recent development or not, it is clear that once a beard is grown it stays, for one reason or another.Kraus was looking to appear wise beyond his years when he chose to grow out his facial hair.“I’ve had the beard for about four years,” Kraus said. “I originally grew it to make myself look older. As a short, young teacher, it helped distinguish me from students. In my first couple years at South, the cafeteria workers thought I was a student and would charge me the student lunch rate until I corrected them.”Merle was taken aback when he realized he had the ability to grow a beard and continues to sport one for his own personal pleasure.“For most of my twenties, I wasn’t able to grow a full beard; it was really spotty,” Merle said. “I stopped shaving during Spring break two years ago, and much to my surprise, it looked pretty full. So I decided to keep it for a while. I haven’t shaved since.”For Knoedler, the beard is a relatively new addition to his look. He did enjoy how it looked on him when he grew it out two months ago, but outside influence from a significant other was involved in his decision to stop shaving.“[I’ve had my beard] since February break. I didn’t shave over vacation, then just decided to keep it when my wife mentioned she liked it,” Knoedler said. “How can I shave it after that?”There are discrepancies over the net effects of the beard on the wearer of the beard and those experiencing it from afar. Some believe a beard can only have a positive impact on one’s character.“There are only advantages to having a beard,” Merle said, although he did not specify what those advantages are.In contrast, others will have problems with their facial hair from time to time.“If it gets long, it can get kind of itchy,” Kraus said.Although Merle’s family would rather see his chin bare and hairless, his friends find his beard amusing and appropriate considering the steryotypic image of a bearded professor.“My family hates [my facial hair] with a passion,” Merle said. “My friends seem to find it quite fitting, considering my professorial occupation.”Knoedler’s son objects to his beard, but Knoedler himself is largely a fan of it and feels that it augments his already good looks.“My son complains it pokes him when I kiss him,” Knoedler said. “[However] I think I’m incredibly handsome. My beard really pushes my handsomeness over the top. My friends are all very jealous.”Beards definitely evoke a myriad of reactions amongst the ladies. South girls in general seem to have reservations about beards, preferring that guys shave or at most leave their beards modest and well kept.“Honestly, I like the clean shaven look best, but some guys can really rock the beards,” freshman Sophie Cash said.“I don’t mind beards, but only if they are short and neat,” sophomore Gil Blume said. “[But] once it goes lumberjack-long, it’s time to shave. Mr. Merle has the perfect type of beard. Just putting it out there” Blume said.One student, when comparing her father’s facial hair perceptions living in the Northern region versus the Southern region of the United States, believes opinions regarding beards are regionally developed.“When my dad came up here from down South, he said it was harder to get a job up North with a beard,” freshman Leah Jacobson said. “Up here, large beards mean creepy.” Still, unique and original beards are appreciated.“I mostly like facial hair when it’s entertaining or weird, but not really for attractiveness’ sake,” Cash said.Freshman Natalie Silverman has a strong opinion about who should and shouldn’t have beards. She believes facial hair on South students doesn’t make the cut.“I think that facial hair on students is gross,” Silverman said. “I mean, we’re still kids, kind of, and it’s just weird seeing a fifteen year old with a full beard and mustache. ”Even Silverman, though, will admit that the right type of facial hair on the right type of person can look attractive.“With more mature and older men, beards and mustaches can look good. Not like a lumberjack-man kind of facial hair, but something subtle.”Silverman shares a similar opinion with many others about the pros and cons of facial hair. She too is quick to highlight its benefits. Both in and outside of the South community, beards are definitely in style.“Someone like Adam Levine or Joe Jonas,” Silverman said. “That look is, well… sexy.”]]>
The progression of the Art and Music programs at South has occurred in lieu of the efforts of countless people, from the parents who assist these programs to the teachers who build their foundations, and finally to the students who push these programs beyond their limits.
From within this sort of family, there is one man in particular who has seen these programs at their heights and struggles. This artist and musician is Dr. Jack Rossini, a teacher who recently re-introduced himself to the South community.
Rossini has a vast history in the Newton Public School system. His career at South began in 1983 when he directed the band, working with Choral Director Helen Taylor and Orchestra Director Gordon Duckel. This was not, however, an opportune time to start teaching at a new school.
During the 1980s, the student population in Newton began to fall increasingly lower. There came to be fewer and fewer students at South, until only several hundred spanned all the grade levels.
All student groups at South grew smaller; the school-wide band had only 25 musicians.
This decline in students led to the schools not needing as many teachers to maintain a proper student-teacher ratio, so Rossini’s first tenure ended during a series of staff cuts.
Around 1990, he taught at Brown Middle School.
According to Rossini, this was a tough time for everyone involved in the Newton Public School system, and consequently, everybody suffered.
Fortunately, the 1990’s brought a “building decade,” and the student population began to increase once more. When Newton South offered Rossini the position of orchestra director, he took the job, and what began as an 11-musician orchestra in 2003 grew to a hearty 45 musicians within six years.
The band and chorus increased in numbers as well with the arrival of Ms. Lisa Linde and Dr. Benjamin Youngman.
Beginning in 2006, Rossini headed the Fine Arts department until his retirement in 2009.
With Youngman’s leave of absence to travel to China, Rossini returned to assume Youngman’s position as the director of three choruses and as the teacher of music theory classes.
During the time in which Rossini worked at South, much has changed in the Fine Arts department. Changes in student population have largely shaped and defined the progression of the Art and Music programs.
Currently, both of these programs are grappling with the effects of limited funding, and employees are working harder than ever to accommodate for the monetary losses.
Though art and music classes continue to increase in size, Rossini believes, “the student enthusiasm is still there” and are “on the upswing.”
Numerous awards have recognized the excellence of these programs, which is always showcased in the students’ high level of performance.
These artists have Rossini to thank for helping sculpt this inspirational pathway, which will provoke creativity in young minds for generations to come.]]>