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Denebola » David Han 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 Students will receive free wi-fi next year http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/students-will-receive-free-wi-fi-next-year/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/students-will-receive-free-wi-fi-next-year/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 12:00:04 +0000 David Han http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4425 In an effort to allow students on to the wireless system, the administration and information technology staff has worked together over the past months to upgrade South’s wireless network. School-wide access in the library and similar common areas is expected to be available next year.

Three main wireless networks are used in the school: Teacher, Student, and Guest. Faculty has access to the Teacher network, student laptop carts are connected to the Student network, and distinguished guests like speakers are given access to the Guest network.

There currently exists no officially authorized way for students to access the wireless but each student would be given a username and password to log on with the new system.

Under the school-wide wireless system, students would have the same limitations as they would now, and despite available wireless, current regulations of electronic devices will remain the same regarding appropriate use.

“[Wireless] is not going to change our rules about what technology is acceptable in the classroom, Principal Joel Stembridge said. We are not suddenly going to allow students to use cell-phones or smart phones without more of a discussion.

The school does plan to monitor students use of the wireless on a case-by-case basis, according to Stembridge, and students should not expect privacy.

“If students are going to use [the wireless], students need to know it is a public system, he said.

The school-wide wireless hopes to offer students a more efficient method to complete schoolwork, according to Systems Specialist Greg Poulos.

Students would be able to use any services on the wireless, like printing, and online storages.

“South’s steps towards a more web based learning environment is part of a larger trend in education, Poulos said, “with the more frequent use of class websites and blogs.This is sort of where the whole education system is going, and we would like to be part of it, on the leading edge of it. We’re moving there. The move to wireless has environmental benefits, saving paper and money from printing costs, Poulos said.

In terms of education, the new wireless system could change current means of information storage.

“A kid, [who is] starting in middle school, saving their portfolio online, capturing their work whether it is writing or artwork, would benefit greatly, Poulos said.

“The ability for a student to go back and look at what you’ve done in year’s past and compare it to now is such a great help. It makes you as a student much more efficient.

A possible concern with the new wireless system is its bandwidth’s ability to support its users.

Poulos notes the importance of ensuring fast connection to potential users while still allowing ongoing operations such as attendance, grades, and communication to continue smoothly in the school.

“The ability for a student to go back and look at what you’ve done in year’s past and compare it to now is such a great help. It makes you as a student much more efficient.

A possible concern with the new wireless system is the systemís bandwidth to support its users.

Poulos notes the importance of ensuring fast connection to potential users while still allowing ongoing operations such as attendance, grades, and communication to continue smoothly in the school.

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Book Review: A reminder that we can all improve http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/03/24/book-review-a-reminder-that-we-can-all-improve/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/03/24/book-review-a-reminder-that-we-can-all-improve/#comments Wed, 24 Mar 2010 09:09:23 +0000 David Han http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3901 For those of us who wish to find cures for incurable diseases, who aspire to help others in ways most cannot, who desire to dedicate their lives for the wellbeing of others, Atul Gawande’s book Better: A Surgeon’s Notes On Performance offers a glimpse of the profession of doctors, underneath the social prestige and inside the operating room.

Written with piercing reality describing the imperfect science of medicine, Better achieves a level of journalistic authenticity that struck me from the first page.

Gawande, currently a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, organizes the book as a series of his own experiences.

Recounting the days of his residency to more recent accounts as a general surgeon, Gawande examines what he believes to be the core aspects of success in medicine: diligence, doing right, and ingenuity.

The book begins with Gawande at the final year of his medical school.

A senior resident gives him the responsibility to look after a relatively healthy patient incase of the off chance of a fever. Gawande fulfills his duties, checking her for symptoms of fever, and finds she is well except for occasional complaints of mild insomnia.

Finding no symptoms of fever and nothing remarkably out of the ordinary, Gawande gradually begins to relax, checking her less often during the day.

Gawande learns later that, although he had been delegated the task, the senior resident had been checking on her twice as many times as he had. The senior resident, apprehensive of the patient’s complaints, checked this patient only to find her with a fever of 102 degrees. The nearly graduated med student had no idea of the incident.

Gawande had not failed in what he was assigned to do, but he nonetheless learned that treating a patient and truly caring for one were different. What was required was diligence, the strive to make less and less mistakes, which, in a profession where the slightest distraction could lead to failure, could make all the difference.

Gawande explores the ethics of medicine in the second main focus of his book, “doing right. Here, he touches upon the issue of malpractice suits, even when the doctor is not at fault.

Despite the litigations of the profession and being at a crossroads between what doctors believe is the best for the patient and what the patient believes is best, Gawande considers that doctors have the responsibility to make their best decision given the circumstance regardless of the possible consequences.

Gawande also touches upon the practices of others, of the importance of doing what is right, even when it is not popular.

Much to people’s surprise, it may save someone’s life.

In the final chapters of the book, Gawande tackles the quality ingenuity in the practice of medicine and how it allows the profession to move forward. It’s the creativity to recognize diseases and removing them before they spread. The challenge is difficult, but possible nonetheless Gawande argues through his account of observing the less preferable sanitary conditions in India.

Throughout the book, Gawande takes a humbling stance on the issues of medical practice. Gawande is unafraid to acknowledge the limitations of science in the field of medicine, which to some come as a shock since they may believe medicine to be an exact science.

Where most of the general public would expect perfection, Gawande instead reveals the inexactness. His sincerity for the science is moving, a quality that pierces through the pages of his writing.

The thought that our doctors and physicians make mistakes does leave us feeling uneasy, but these imperfections are the reason why doctors perform their best each day. What science seems to lack, human nature provides, according to Gawande.

He describes how the little things, like washing hands after seeing each patient or checking on a healthy patient for the simplest of reasons, are what save lives and drastically improve performance, not the high-tech gear or scientific advancements.

Gawande notes how since the medical profession involves lives on the line, doctors must not only think rationally, but also morally, inevitably involving ethics in their decisions. It’s an obvious thought, but I feel it often goes overlooked.

Especially today, with increased competition in the race for success, students may be focusing so much on the scientific aspect of medicine that they are forgetting the moral side to it.

Gawande is not saying that the scientific aspect of medicine is worthless, but that it is not enough.

When everything in science tells you that the patient is healthy, but something about the patient concerns you, would it not be the doctor’s responsibility to do something about it, perhaps notifying other physicians or the patient? When science says one answer but your conscious screams another, what do you do?

Doctors commonly face such dilemma. Gawande believes medical practice is not just scientific, but at times irrational, at times human.

Gawande’s book also indirectly brings up a point about today’s health care debate.

In what some historians believe has become less about providing health care to America’s people and more about party politics, Gawande reminds us of the importance of the doctor-patient relationship in medical practice.

He stresses the importance of trust between the patient and doctor relationship. The doctor can know everything about the subject, but, like was said before, there is a difference between simply treating a patient and truly caring for one.

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Volume 49: That’s What She Said http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/volume-49-that%e2%80%99s-what-she-said/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/volume-49-that%e2%80%99s-what-she-said/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:50:12 +0000 Claire Pezza http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3613 Hey Ladiezzzz, we know, it’s hard to believe, but the illustrious Volume 49 has come to a close. Because every good “farewell article needs at least one cliché, we’ll say it’s been a wild ride. We wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

The volume began with that semi-awkward Article Ideas meeting at Amrita’s house where we surprised you all with your favorite flavors of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Remember, we covertly hid the ice cream flavor question in amongst other weirder ones in our first staff-wide email? “Do you sleep with a stuffed animal at night? “What’s your favorite season? and of course, “Best Ben and Jerry’s flavor? But don’t worry, we know we’ve gotten weirder since then.

Vol49 managed to produce what was arguably the first March issue in the history of Denebola that didn’t suck, and the epicness continued for all glorious eight issues afterward. So let’s recount the g00d timez, shall we?

We know that staying here past our bedtimes may seem entirely unappealing to the unseasoned outsider, but you can’t tell us that receiving 10 orders of scallion pancakes a night and the occasional ice cream cake in return for your efforts isn’t worth it. You just can’t.

No one quite knows how it happened, but we got through Grad unscathed. If anyone who’s not a Denebola veteran is reading this, we’re gonna do a little analogy, old school SAT-style. Grad is to Denebola as Wednesday is to the school week: the hump. Once you get through Grad you can do anything (though you still won’t be able to figure out what the status of the Book Review is). And now it’s time to brag a little. Not only were we unscathed, we made the biggest Grad issue in Denebola history. THE biggest (that’s what she said). And yes, Jesse, the front page did look better after you made their heads all the same size, we’ll admit it now.

The blackbird may sing in the dead of night, but he also came flying into 9202 one unassuming spring weekend paste-up when Mr. White decided to open the window. Sadly, only JSklar and JYoffe were here to see that go down, but we assure you our fearless advisor is fully capable of trapping a live, wild bird in a plastic bag.

We never used the phrase “SO THUG more than when we were copy-editing Fold, Feats wins for most cohesive section, and thanks to News for always being so prompt during Monday night send-ups (no, but we do love you guys. Seriously).

We laid pages to the rhythm of Alex’s persistent percussion and beatboxing, and Justin’s smile and BALLIN’ ad-getting were all we needed to de-stress ourselves in the midst of some classic Denebochaos, like the time the printer would only print in alien language (oh wait, it still does that. NICE!).

Now for the sappy part of our farewell (you knew it was coming, so no tears, please). The first time we had to stand up in front of the homeroom and yell at you guys to get ad$ was weird. We didn’t feel like your leaders; we were just some scrawny kids at South. But just like we grew up and learned how to run a paper, you guys grew up with us, learned how to make a paper.

We won’t lie. When we sat down to make the staff list last February, we had NO idea if this volume would work. What could we expect from a volume assembled primarily, and unnervingly, of first-timers? But what we found in this very same staff was a family. A weird, and really dysfunctional, but legitimate and loving family, too. We’ve definitely come a long way as a volume with regard to the paper, but also with regard to our relationships with one another.

We got to know each other so well that we could predict Tango Mango or Starbucks orders even before someone placed it and driving each other home in the middle of the night was practically expected. We knew whose phone was ringing from across the room based solely on ringtone.

So here’s to The Big Fifty coming up behind us. We’re not a track team (nor is Denebola a locker room), but we’re passing the baton. It’s been fun, but it’s time for us to go, so peace out, snitches. ILY, The SEs.

Oh, and never forget that Robbie’s soft spot is his velcro’€you will thank us for this tip later.

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Salinger dies at 91, leaves a novel for the generations http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/salinger-dies-at-91-leaves-a-novel-for-the-generations/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/salinger-dies-at-91-leaves-a-novel-for-the-generations/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 07:52:50 +0000 David Han http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3702 English teacher David Weintraub has never taught The Catcher in the Rye, but he remembers first reading the novel in his senior year of high school. It ruined his second semester.

Weintraub recalls alienating himself from his friends. The book had a profound impact not just on how he viewed the world, but on how he acted in it. He eventually grew out of his secluded behavior, but he can still recount the novel’s effect on him.

“Not many books do that, Weintraub said.

Literary recluse Jerome David Salinger, author of Catcher, died at the age of 91 in late January. The stories he left in novels such as The Catcher in the Rye will continue to touch readers since its publication date nearly 60 years ago.

Salinger holds a history of protecting his privacy. The author lived in isolation for over half of his life and even appealed to the Supreme Court to prevent writers from quoting his letters for a biography.

English teacher Alan Reinstein believes Salinger is as famous for being a recluse as he is for writing the book itself. Reinstein has taught The Catcher in the Rye for over 10 years, and he enjoys emphasizing the importance of relevance, how every sentence in the novel is intentional.

Reinstein feels Salinger’s death may change how readers read the novel.

“[Salinger,] as an author, is part of the story in The Catcher in the Rye, he said. “It is part of the context of reading the book.

English Department Head Brian Baron believes, however, that Salinger’s death will have little to no effect on the novel’s analysis.

“[Salinger] has been so distant from the world for so long that I don’t think his living has affected the way we taught the book, so I don’t think his death will, Baron said.

Senior Suzanne Lau is unsure whether the book’s study will change, but feels that Salinger  chose to include some of his own childhood memories in the novel as “a reminder that we all have a certain child within us.

Salinger’s passing, Lau believes, will bring many people to read his novels for the first time or to reread them.

“I know that I have a copy of Franny and Zooey somewhere, and I might just start that so I can get a feel of his writing style’€as a way to pay tribute for his death, she said.

Lau first heard of Salinger’s death in her English class. When she went home, she posted a short message of the author’s passing on her email’s status board.

“I did it out of respect so other people would know, she said. “I thought [Salinger's death] was pretty sad. I feel like I had some sort of connection.

Lau has told some of her friends who have never heard of Salinger about the author’s life accomplishments.

Lau and her classmates noted The Catcher in the Rye as one of the books that stood out in her high school career.

“It’s the type of book that you either hate or love, she said.

“Holden’s voice continues to feel contemporary for students, Reinstein said. “To know who Holden Caulfield is is to tap into a particular type of person. To me, it’s his naivety that I find so endearing.

Baron, who has read the book in high school, in college, and at South where he taught the book for five years, said that each time reading the novel affects him differently.

“When I read it as a sophomore, it felt like the truth, like someone was speaking to me in a way not spoken to me before. I didn’t know you could use words that way, he said.

“And when I started teaching it, I started to almost be offended by it because it struck me that Salinger was really arguing against maturity and adulthood. Salinger was really saying that there is no way out, that growing up is really a process of inevitably becoming phony.

“I just didn’t agree with that in part because I was an adult and I realized that I didn’t want to live a life that was inevitably false, inevitably phony.

Salinger is a tremendously gifted wordsmith, according to Baron. Baron has been checking the Internet to see if more of Salinger’s writing has been discovered and published posthumously.

Baron and Lau’s respective classes plan to re-read The Catcher in the Rye this semester.

Baron hopes his students, after three years of schooling, will encounter the same experience he has had with the book.

“I’m pretty excited about it, Lau said. “I’m not so certain that I personally understood everything as a 9th grader. That’s why I’m glad we might be revisiting it.

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Miscommunication hinders Spirit Week http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/miscommunication-hinders-spirit-week/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/miscommunication-hinders-spirit-week/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 08:44:29 +0000 David Han http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3142 Lack of planning time and miscommunications between the senior Class Officers and administration resulted in a final two-day Spirit Week, a modification to the senior Class Officers’ original plan for a five-day Spirit Week, which would have led up to today’s pep rally and Powderpuff game.

The senior Class Officers first contacted the administration about Spirit Week on November 10, when Guidance Counselor Kristen Bixby emailed Wheeler Housemaster and senior Class Adviser Josepha Blocker the senior Class Officers’ rough schedule for a five-day Spirit Week with spirit competitions between houses.

The Class Officers and the School Spirit Club collaborated over the rough schedule.

Before receiving confirmation from the administration, the senior Class Officers sent out the first of three Facebook messages to the Class of 2010, informing seniors of a five-day Spirit Week with competition between the grades.

Blocker claims to have been notified of the first Spirit Week schedule at the end of the November 10 week, at which point she proposed the timetable to the school’s Leadership Team, an administrative group comprising of the principal, the four Housemasters, the Assistant Principals, and Director of Guidance.

Although the ideas in the initial memo were “really great ideas, the Leadership Team expressed worry about planning and logistic issues in the original plan, Blocker says.

“We needed a little more time to plan, she said. Certain dress-themes and the exact process of how competition between the grades or houses would be conducted posed logistical issues.

Notified of the administration’s request for a modified proposal for Spirit Week, the officers drafted a proposal for a three-day Spirit Week with competition between the grades.

The next day on November 16, the six senior Class Officers and the junior and freshman class presidents met with the four Housemasters to explain the edited plan.

“They [the Housemasters] seemed very excited about it, senior class Vice President David Krieger said. “They wanted to be included in it, and we took that as a sign that they wanted to do it.

After the meeting, the senior Class Officers interpreted the administration’s positive feedback as a signal to move forward with the plan. The Class Officers sent out a second Facebook message that night alerting the senior class of a three-day Spirit Week with competition.

The meeting, however, did not to finalize any decisions, according to Goodwin Housemaster Charles Myette.

The Leadership Team met on November 17 to decide what schedule to carry out. It sent an email to the senior Class Officers, disclosing a final decision for a two-day Spirit Week with no competition.

Today’s Spirit Week dress-theme is Blue and Orange; yesterday’s was Boston Sports spirit.

The senior Class Officers then sent out a third Facebook message, informing the senior class of the finalized Spirit Week.

The junior, sophomore, and freshman Class Officers also sent out messages to their respective classes during various stages of the Spirit Week planning process.

“There was just such short notice that [the officers] wanted to do three days, Goldrick Housemaster Henry Turner said. “We really support doing Spirit Week, and we’d love to see one that is excellent.

 “We thought about what constraints were likely to have the best outcomes, and how we could best concentrate our supports for an effort that would go well, Blocker said.

Chesler respects the administration’s reasoning behind the final decision.

“They have to worry about so many sides of the issues, he said. “They have to worry about safety and time whereas we only have to worry about kids having fun.

Blocker feels that not enough time was prearranged to plan Spirit Week.

“If this was brought to us a month in advance, we might have been able to work toward a solution, she said. “It’s really the time crunch.

Senior Class Officer Liza Barnes feels both parties can learn from the experience.

“We just need to plan much farther ahead than we think, she said. “We need to communicate more clearly on both ends.

Principal Joel Stembridge feels that, although the class officers could have informed the administration of a plan for Spirit Week in advance, the administration could have made expectations clearer in the planning process.

“My basic philosophy is that if we are going to do it, we are going to do it well, he said. “I want to make sure that everyone is aware and on board. It doesn’t build spirit if some student’s are involved, some students don’t know about it, and faculty does not understand what is going on.

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A Community of Learning: English Language Learners http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/a-community-of-learning-english-language-learners/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/a-community-of-learning-english-language-learners/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 05:30:26 +0000 David Han http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2993 The reasons seemed logical: better education, broader opportunity, more independence. Yet sophomore Alex Chen, who had lived in Guangzhou, China, all his life, was reluctant when his parents told him that the family was moving to America. Although he understood his family’s rationale for moving, Chen, 14 years old at the time, did not feel ready. He had never traveled before in his life, and his entire knowledge of America was based off of picture books he had read as a child.

“I had to go to a place I had never been to, he said. “I had to stay there for the rest of my life. He was given two weeks to pack his bags.

In an era of increasing cultural diversity and globalization , Chen’s story is not uncommon for students coming from foreign backgrounds. The English Language Learners (ELL) program provides support and guidance to students like Chen by helping them adapt to American culture and environment. The program offers sheltered English and History courses, as well as English pronunciation and support classes for students in the program. The courses range from beginner to advanced levels.

The Transition

ELL Director Carol McNally understands her students’ struggle of leaving their home country and entering an entirely different world.

“The kids are not here by choice, and that can make a transition period tough when you are 15 years old, she said. “It’s socially a difficult transition, and we try to help with that piece.

Junior and former ELL student Jessica Kang of South Korea remembers crying once during her first months at South because of the cultural disparity.

Having come to America only able to articulate simple expressions like her name and age at first, Kang claims the ELL program served as her central support group and “second home.

ELL students easily relate to one another despite their cultural differences because of their shared experience in America, according to Kang. She feels more comfortable speaking in English to ELL students because of this connection.

“People get the sense that they can rely on and trust people here, regardless of what language they speak or what background they come from, ELL teacher John Conte said. “Our goal as a program is for them to get that [support] from any student in the school.

Chen also believes ELL has helped with his cultural and educational transition. He recalls that speaking out loud was a challenge for him.
The program’s use of visual aids and interactive exercises has helped him adapt. ELL teachers not only teach, but also supportively push their students to succeed, Chen said.

ELL_Fold09.001

Graphics by Chenzhe Cao

Another student in the ELL program, junior Tatiana Shallop, moved to Newton from the West African country Sierra Leone last January. While she was by no means poverty-stricken in her home country, a combination of political turmoil in the region and poor educational resources led Shallop and her family to make the move to America.

Though Shallop knew it was for the better, she was reluctant to leave.

“Africa is my home, and it is where I grew up. It was really hard for me to move to a different place, Shallop said.

Shallop came to America with a basic understanding of English from her studies in Sierra Leone. She is also fluent in Arabic and Krio (a mix of English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Jamaican). In order to excel at South, English, the last language she learned, would be crucial.
“The school that I went to offered English and Arabic’€like how South offers French and Spanish. I am happy I learned English because it made it easier to come to South and learn with my peers, Shallop said.

Shallop is thankful that she can now enjoy the opportunities and personal freedoms which America offers. “When I lived in Sierra Leone, there was a lot of pain and suffering, because of the lack of facilities we all suffered, especially when the rebels came to overthrow, Shallop said. “Suffering went on in Sierra Leone a lot, but now, thanks to God, everything is fine. There is peace, love and harmony.

Education

Both Chen and Kang, though they miss their home countries, also value the educational system offered in America.

“In Korea, the mothers bring their children to Hangwons [Korean private tutoring institutions]. Afterwards, it’s studying, studying, and studying, Kang said. “Regardless of what you want to do, you should study.

Currently a first violinist in the school’s String Orchestra and the keyboard player in her church’s youth group, she believes that there are many more activities to choose from in America than in Korea.

According to Kang, the intensely competitive nature of Korean schools did not provide a good learning environment.

“Even though I’m in a school with students, it seems like my friends are my rivals, she said. Kang remembers that her peers would pretend as though they hadn’t studied for exams to give others a false sense of confidence.

Chen shares the same concern with the Chinese educational system, where strict teachers expect students to memorize large amounts of information in short periods of time.

He also believes that the American educational system gives students more freedom to discover and pursue their interests.

“I feel privileged to teach ELL at South because students are really invested, Conte said. “They are at a place that they can get that information.

McNally agrees with Conte and believes that families usually come to America for the education opportunity, “often making great financial sacrifices to be here.

Preparing for the Future

Kang does not take ELL classes this year due to schedule conflicts and must attend mainstream History and English classes.

She credits her confidence and strong foundation in basic English to the ELL program.

“Even though mainstream classes are a lot more work than ELL classes, I feel good about challenging myself, she said.

While she no longer takes ELL classes, her former teachers are always available whenever she needs help. The ELL staff hopes that their students will gain the confidence and skills necessary to enter mainstream courses.

“The most important challenge is ensuring that students are not just learning content and language skills, but also learning to figure out the skills on their own so they can leave ELL and be successful, Conte said.

Even though Kang is not in ELL classes this year, she finds time during lunches or J-Blocks to maintain the personal relationships she formed in the program.

For now, Kang’s goal is to attend a good college, and she believes that she can do so thanks to the ELL program.

Chen, however, aims higher. “I will do something American and be successful and want to help my country, he said.

Having left behind their friends, family, and countries, Chen, Kang, and Shallop came to America to pursue their dreams.

“For most of my students here, their short-term dream is to get into a good college, Conte said. “We definitely help them get on the right road considering where they come from.

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South Football roars back on new home field http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/south-football-roars-back-on-new-home-field/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/south-football-roars-back-on-new-home-field/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 08:52:52 +0000 David Han http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2613 The Lions Varsity Football team faced a disappointing defeat on Saturday, September 26 against Concord-Carlisle. Despite holding their opponents scoreless in the second half, the Lions were unable to recover the 21 point gap. The Lions, however, fought hard and proved themselves worthy of their new home field.

After five years of debate and discussion, the first of South’s four new fields opened, hosting a close loss for the Boys’ Varsity Football Team 21-19 against Concord-Carlisle.

Independent of the game’s outcome, the football team, who trained on the questionable practice fields of Oak Hill Middle School was excited to be the first team to play on the school’s new synthetic turf field.
“We’d seen the construction going on for a while on the fields, and we were just really happy to finally get on and play on it for the first time, co-captain and senior Isaac Freedman said.

During practice, Freedman noticed his teammates were more focused and determined to succeed, partly attributing the shift in mind-set to the possession of a new home field.

“The turf provides a sense of unity for our team, he said. “We take pride in our field. Now, we want to defend our home turf.

Athletic Director Scott Perrin hopes that, with the completed installation of two synthetic turf fields and two grass fields, athletes will develop a greater sense of pride. He notes, however, that a team’s playing environment should not significantly influence a team’s competitiveness unless field conditions prove to be safety concerns.

“It’s not about the field or track you play on, senior and Cross Country runner Alex Pearce said. “It’s what you bring to the game and the pride your team builds that matters.

Freedman expects the team to perform better now that the synthetic turf cleared the original field of unsafe playing conditions like divots and uneven areas of land.

Perrin believes the opening of the first synthetic turf field is the first step toward success after years of dispute.

Alderman Guive Mirfendereski, a chief opponent of synthetic turf, led an opposition group and issued an appeal to the Department of Environmental Protection on the completion of the first synthetic turf field, where the Lions played last Saturday.

Because the far end of the stadium is a buffer zone of wetlands, the appeal questions the synthetic turf’s effects on the environment. The delays in construction inhibit South’s soccer and track teams from playing on the field.

Mirfendereski, who vouches for natural grass fields, is also concerned with athletes’ health if they play on possibly dangerous field material.

“The ultimate question is not whether real grass is good enough for our kids; it’s whether our kids are worth real grass, Mirfendereski said.

Perrin, a proponent of synthetic turf, does not believe synthetic turf poses a threat to athletes’ health.
“When you want to talk about health issues, we should maybe examine the stuff we clean the floors with, the amount of food with preservatives that we eat, the amount of time we spend on our cell phones, the amount of time we stare at computer monitors, and so forth, he said.

Synthetic turf leaves behind a “huge and often unmitigated carbon footprint as well as other chemical hazards, according to Mirfendereski.

Whether such claims hold true, Perrin is confident that all four fields will be fully completed.“We’ve won the battles, we’ve continued to win the battles, and we’ll win the war, Perrin said. The other synthetic turf field will be in use this week, and all construction will end in at most a month, according to Perrin.

In regards to South being named the best athletics program by Sports Illustrated in the 2008-2009 year, Perrin believes the new turf fields are “facilities deserving of the programs that we have here.

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Admission prices to games raised from $3 to $5 http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/admission-prices-to-games-raised-from-3-to-5/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/admission-prices-to-games-raised-from-3-to-5/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 05:20:59 +0000 David Han http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2648 A league-wide decision by the Dual County League raised admission prices to games from $3 to $5 for students and from $5 to $7 for adults.

According to Boys’ Varsity Football captain Isaac Freedman, the money directly supports the school’s athletics program.

Despite the increase in admission price, junior and senator Jackie Horowitz noticed an increase in the crowd’s dynamic during Saturday’s football game, South’s first home game on its newly built synthetic turf field.

“People had a lot more spirit and enthusiasm this time, she said. “The stands were pretty full, and there were a ton of people standing around the fence.

Horowitz was nonetheless surprised when she noticed the $2 increase in the admissions fee.

“It might discourage people who were hesitant about attending in the first place, she said.

Freedman is also concerned whether the new fee will affect student attendance in future games.

“$2 isn’t that much money of an increase, but $5 compared to $3 is a lot, he said. “I really hope it doesn’t affect [crowd turnout], but it’s quite possible that it might.

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Wellness requirements generate concern http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/wellness-requirements-generate-concern/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/wellness-requirements-generate-concern/#comments Wed, 13 May 2009 08:00:53 +0000 David Han http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2286 Due to budgetary constraints, the School Committee voted to lower South’s Wellness graduation requirements from seven credits to five, entailing possible class reductions and a 3.25 reduction in Wellness Department teaching positions from the current eight. To meet state Wellness requirements, the required five semesters of Wellness will extend across all four years of high school, including two core classes for the freshman class, one core class for sophomores, and one obligatory semester each for juniors and seniors.

Additional classes aside from the mandatory five will be offered as electives; however, some may be cut because of low enrollment. According to Wellness teacher Michelle Coppola, the Yoga/Pilates and Centered Self classes are most likely to be cut from the Wellness curriculum.

To preserve already existing courses, the Wellness Department has asked students to encourage underclassmen to enroll in the courses.

The purpose of the reduction of graduation requirements was to give students “the option to take other electives in their schedule in place of the extra Wellness courses, School Committee Vice Chair Claire Sokoloff said.
“It gives [students] more flexibility. It allows them to take as much Wellness as they are taking now, if that’s what they want to do”, Sokoloff said.

Wellness teacher Todd Elwell, in his 11th year at South, feels that the students choosing to take Wellness electives are those that need them the least.

“I’m concerned about the whole student body, not just the whole student”, Elwell said.

School Committee Chair Marc Laredo believes that the Wellness program will continue to succeed as it has in the past. Laredo maintains that the primary difference in the curriculum will be that students will not be required to take as many Wellness classes.

“In any budget, particularly in difficult financial times, you need to constantly be looking at your programs and requirements to see if you need to modify any changes”, he said.

Upon reviewing possible alternative cuts before the vote, the School Committee realized that programs such as Close-Up would have to be cut if the Wellness graduation requirement remained at seven credits.

“When you weighed the list of cuts, the five-credit Wellness requirement seemed like the logical choice”, School Committee member Reenie Murphy said.

15 years ago, the South Wellness Department had eight teachers for 1000 students. Next year, the department will have 4.75 teachers instructing 1700 students.

Coppola finds the 40% reduction in staff concerning, especially since the department must accommodate national and state requirements.

“It’s a huge cut for any department”, Coppola said. “It changes entirely what we teach, and we have a solid curriculum, a nationally renowned curriculum”.

Elwell likewise feels that Southís Wellness program has been eroding over the past four or five years and will no longer be able to compare to those of other schools.

Murphy believes that the lowered graduation requirement will bring the curriculum down from an “extremely high” standard of Wellness.

“It sounds like we have had, until now, a much stronger commitment on Wellness than [many] towns have,” Murphy said.

It’s completely backwards to the philosophy. “We have always considered and held ourselves with pride about being different and being ahead of everybody else”, Wellness teacher Alan Rotatori said.

Attributing stress as the primary problem of South students, Rotatori, who has worked at South for 20 years, believes cutting stress management courses such as Yoga/Pilates and Centered Self may lead to an increase in dangerous decisions, such as drinking and driving, relationship abuse, and pregnancies.
ÒThose are all signs of stress,” he said, “and we have the ability to offer courses and opportunities to help them deal with that.”

Coppola, who teaches both the Yoga/Pilates and Centered Self classes, understands the importance of stress management and is dismayed by the loss of the courses. Over her six years at South, many of her students have mentioned how useful the classes were to them.

“It’s emotionally hard knowing that [these classes] might not be here next year. You have to know some stress management for any situation that you’re in,” Coppola said.

Sokoloff hopes that stress management classes will continue to be offered in the revised curriculum and supports the idea of having students encourage their peers to enroll in Wellness courses next year.

“I hope that younger kids take classes like Yoga/Pilates so that they take full advantage of these Wellness electives,” she said. “It’s great if kids are promoting classes to other kids because they found them valuable.”

Girls Varsity Tennis Team member and junior Katherine Man believes that the Centered Self class has helped her over the season. “It’s a valuable class,” she said. “[Coppola has] given really helpful messages to help deal with stressful situations.”

Although Man is unsure about how much she can influence her peers’ decisions, she has spoken to some underclassmen about the issue.

Boys Varsity Track Team member and junior Xhulio Uruci, who is currently enrolled in the Global Games class, likes the option of having free blocks next year instead of another semester of Wellness. “After sophomore year, there really isn’t much you learn in Wellness,” Uruci said.

Uruci believes, however, that the graduation requirement should not be any lower than five credits.
Elwell hopes that students will appreciate the Wellness program offered at South and that their support will affect future administrative decisions towards the department.

ÒIf the students decide this is important, and the parents support the students, then [the situation] will swing the other way. As a former personal trainer who made a living off of Newton parents who didn’t have the education that they needed, it’s a shame that their students [may not choose to get] the education they deserve,” Elwell said. The School Committee voted to lower South’s Wellness graduation requirements from seven credits to five, entailing possible class reductions and a 3.25 reduction in Wellness Department teaching positions from the current eight.

To meet state Wellness requirements, the required five semesters of Wellness will extend across all four years of high school and include two core classes for the freshman class, one core class for sophomores, and one obligatory semester each for juniors and seniors.

Additional classes, aside from the mandatory five, will be offered as electives; however, some may be cut because of low enrollment. According to Wellness teacher Michelle Coppola, the Yoga/Pilates and Centered Self classes are most likely to be cut.

To preserve already existing courses, the Wellness Department has asked students to encourage underclassmen to enroll in the courses.

The purpose of the reduction of graduation requirements was to give students “the option to take other electives in their schedule in place of the extra Wellness courses,” School Committee Vice Chair Claire Sokoloff said.

“It gives [students] more flexibility. It allows them to take as much Wellness as they are taking now, if thatís what they want to do, Sokoloff said.

Wellness teacher Todd Elwell, in his 11th year at South, feels that the students choosing to take Wellness electives are those that need them the least.

“I’m concerned about the whole student body, not just the whole student,” Elwell said.

School Committee Chair Marc Laredo believes that the Wellness program will continue to succeed as it has in the past. Laredo maintains that the primary difference in the curriculum will be that students will not be required to take as many Wellness classes.

“In any budget, particularly in difficult financial times, you need to constantly be looking at your programs and requirements to see if you need to modify any changes,” he said.

Upon reviewing possible alternative cuts before the vote, the School Committee realized that programs such as Close-Up would have to be cut if the Wellness graduation requirement remained at seven credits.
ÒWhen you weighed the list of cuts, the five-credit Wellness requirement seemed like the logical choice,î School Committee member Reenie Murphy said.

15 years ago, the South Wellness Department had eight teachers for 1000 students. Next year, the department will have 4.75 teachers instructing 1700 students.

Coppola finds the 40% reduction in staff concerning, especially since the department must accommodate national and state requirements.

ÒItís a huge cut for any department,” Coppola said. ÒIt changes entirely what we teach, and we have a solid curriculum, a nationally renowned curriculum.”
Elwell likewise feels that South’s Wellness program has been eroding over the past four or five years and will no longer be able to compare to those of other schools.

Murphy believes that the lowered graduation requirement will bring the curriculum down from an “extremely high standard of Wellness.”

“It sounds like we have had, until now, a much stronger commitment on Wellness than [many] towns have,” Murphy said.

“It’s completely backwards to the philosophy. We have always considered and held ourselves with pride about being different and being ahead of everybody else,” Wellness teacher Alan Rotatori said.

Attributing stress as the primary problem of South students, Rotatori, who has worked at South for 20 years, believes cutting stress management courses such as Yoga/Pilates and Centered Self may lead to an increase in dangerous decisions, such as drinking and driving, relationship abuse, and pregnancies.

“Those are all signs of stress,” he said, “and we have the ability to offer courses and opportunities to help them deal with that.”

Coppola, who teaches both the Yoga/Pilates and Centered Self classes, understands the importance of stress management and is dismayed by the loss of the courses. Over her six years at South, many of her students have mentioned how useful the classes were to them.

“It’s emotionally hard knowing that [these classes] might not be here next year. You have to know some stress management for any situation that you’re in,” Coppola said.

Sokoloff hopes that stress management classes will continue to be offered in the revised curriculum and supports the idea of having students encourage their peers to enroll in Wellness courses next year.

“I hope that younger kids take classes like Yoga/Pilates so that they take full advantage of these Wellness electives,” she said. “It’s great if kids are promoting classes to other kids because they found them valuable.”

Girls Varsity Tennis Team member and junior Katherine Man believes that the Centered Self class has helped her over the season. “It’s a valuable class,” she said. “[Coppola has] given really helpful messages to help deal with stressful situations.”

Although Man is unsure about how much she can influence her peers’ decisions, she has spoken to some underclassmen about the issue.

Boys Varsity Track Team member and junior Xhulio Uruci, who is currently enrolled in the Global Games class, likes the option of having free blocks next year instead of another semester of Wellness. “After sophomore year, there really isn’t much you learn in Wellness,” Uruci said.

Uruci believes, however, that the graduation requirement should not be any lower than five credits.

Elwell hopes that students will appreciate the Wellness program offered at South and that their support will affect future administrative decisions towards the department.

“If the students decide this is important, and the parents support the students, then [the situation] will swing the other way. As a former personal trainer who made a living off of Newton parents who didn’t have the education that they needed, it’s a shame that their students [may not choose to get] the education they deserve,” Elwell said.

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Extended Advisory addresses tolerance http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/25/extended-advisory-addresses-tolerance/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/25/extended-advisory-addresses-tolerance/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2009 05:45:17 +0000 David Han http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2015 South’s Committee on Programming (COP) encouraged the support of yesterday’s extended Advisory to address issues of homophobia in light of recent incidents.

In a meeting during last Thursday’s professional development, Principal Brian Salzer made sure that the entire faculty was informed as to the nature of recent events. He ensured that the faculty was well-prepared to address the issue with their Advisories.

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) founder and history teacher Robert Parlin believes that the much-needed meeting united the faculty in addressing homophobia at South.

The extended Advisory centered on building a safe environment for all students. Statistics were presented concerning harassment toward high school lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) students.

Science teacher Alex Kraus feels that creating dialogue between faculty and students is a good start in confronting homophobia and intolerance.

“It’s important that there is an ongoing conversation that provides a venue for safe discussion on a sensitive issue, as well as a chance for students to voice their own beliefs and concerns, he said.

Although Kraus is glad that South has taken initiative to raise awareness about the issue, he feels that homophobia should be discussed daily.

Parlin feels that people can at the very least be aware of what happened and become more supportive of students who struggle with their sexuality.

Spanish teacher Viviana Planine suggests incorporating discussion on this topic into teaching.
“You need to be aware of what you are hearing all the time, Planine said. “I know sometimes for younger people, it’s really hard to say ‘ËœI don’t like that.’ We should try to empower students to say that.

Planine, who leads an Advisory of freshman students, worries about how issues like homophobia undermine the safety of the school.

Parlin feels that although South has come very far in issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia, such issues can never be completely eliminated.

“It’s hard to know what exactly to do, Parlin said. “I hope there will be more straight allies in the building taking action and speaking up. It should be the majority groups that take the lead.

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