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Denebola » Gabriel Schneider 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 Just how rounded is too “well rounded”? http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/just-how-rounded-is-too-well-rounded/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/just-how-rounded-is-too-well-rounded/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:40:58 +0000 Shayna Sage http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3631 For many freshmen, club fairs can generate some serious discomfort. Colorful posters and display tables line the cafeteria walls as energetic students solicit names of unsuspecting freshmen for their club emailing lists.

While some students join clubs that genuinely interest them, others join because of various parental expectations or pressure to buff up college resumes. Still, others join for free J-Block food.

Those reasons notwithstanding, this chaotic event tends to play a two-fold role in the school community. First, it allows clubs to showcase their work and recruit new members. More importantly though, club fairs allow younger students to explore interests and to get an idea of what they might want to pursue in the future. By Senior year, every student will inevitably find his or her niche. It is all a question of where to start.

“I think it is important to be involved in something you actually care about, junior Emma Schulman said. “It’s not fun if you join something that you aren’t interested in.

Schulman thinks that it is acceptable to join “a bunch of clubs, as long as it is not for the wrong reasons.

This attitude begs the question: is it better to be involved in many activities or to be dedicated to a single one?

In the typical South student’s quest for a “well rounded schedule of activities, it is often hard to see the true benefit of being involved in the community.

Sophomore Paris Caldwell believes that overbooking after-school activities has more benefits than meets the eye. “I choose to do [various clubs and athletics] because they help me manage my time and keep me on track.

Oftentimes the significant time commitment associated with clubs and sports allows students like Caldwell to better organize and manage their time. “Extracurricular activities help me release stress from school work, she said.

Others, like junior Max Clary, involve themselves in extracurricular activities simply for the thrill.

“I enjoy what I do, Clary said. “I do feel pressure to do more [at South] but I put that pressure on myself.
Senior Liza Barnes, recently voted “Most Involved by her class for senior superlatives, has found her involvement at South to be very rewarding.

“I chose activities that I thought would open the most doors for me, she said. “As Class Officer, I have had the opportunity to interact with students, faculty, and administration as well as various businesses in the Boston area.

Barnes has enjoyed her involvement in so many areas of the school community. “Dance team allows me to support other aspects of the South community such as sports games and school spirit, Barnes said. “These have allowed me to be involved in as many school events as possible and have made my high school experience what it was.

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Supporting Israel for its global importance http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/supporting-israel-for-its-global-importance/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/supporting-israel-for-its-global-importance/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 07:55:45 +0000 Gabriel Schneider http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3434 Let’s say I wanted to point out Israel’s flaws. It wouldn’t be too hard, considering that every country has its share of imperfections.

In making the case against Israel, I would probably start off by pointing out Israel’s policies concerning the Palestinian people. Maybe I’d talk about Israel’s supposed “war crimes which were detailed in the recent Goldstone report. Or I could discuss to the ubiquitous violence and ongoing war in the region.

My point is, like every country, Israel has its imperfections.

With this in mind, I won’t preach that everyone should accept Israel for its policies. That would also be asking a little too much. I understand that anti-war and humanitarian groups disagree with some of Israel’s most fundamental policies, and that from an outsider’s perspective, it could come across as a ruthless nation’€enclosing the Palestinian people and cutting off their water supply, while Israelis enjoy abundant water for their private gardens.

At times, it’s hard for some to see Israel in a good light.

That’s why I’d like to make the case for Israel to you’€why should you care for and support Israel? Why is it of importance to the world?

First, I’d like to convey just how much Israelis value life. Though sometimes the fact is obscured by the reports of violence and warfare, Israel puts an extremely high value on the lives of its citizens. For example, Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier presently being held captive in Gaza. Though Israel wouldn’t by any means suffer a strategic loss without him, Israel has dedicated itself to getting Sergeant Shalit back.

On December 1, Israel announced that it was ready to release 980 Palestinian prisoners’€450 chosen by Hamas and 530 by Isarel’€to secure the freedom of Sergeant Shalit, who was captured in June 2006. This kind of compassion for its people merits at least recognition, if not respect.

This mentality is well known throughout the Middle East and thus has been taken advantage of by many of Israel’s neighbors. Just about every time an Israeli prisoner has been taken hostage, dead or alive, Israel has negotiated to get that soldier back.

Furthermore, though often overlooked, Israel is the only democratic ally of the United States in the Middle East. Israel has been a steadfast partner, militarily and politically, to America ever since it was established as an independent nation in 1948. Also, every President since Truman (who recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, 11 minutes after it declared itself a nation) has been an active supporter and friend to Israel. Why has America kept such a close alliance to Israel? Why does Israel deserve our partnership?

Maybe because Israel, approximately the size of Rhode Island, is one of the world’s largest GDP per capita producers, yet is only responsible for .3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Maybe it’s because Israel is the only country in the world that had had more trees in 2000 than it did in 1900. Or maybe because Israel pays back nearly 70 percent of the 2 billion dollars it receives annually in foreign aid from the United States, in commerce and trade.

Maybe we should support Israel because it has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world (after the United States) and the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies outside North America. Maybe because Israel has the highest literacy rate in Southwest Asia, according to the United Nations. Or maybe because Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to population in the world, as well as is on the forefront of some of the world’s greatest technological and environmental feats.

Israel has more engineers per capita than any other country. Israeli developed firewalls protect your computers and bank accounts, and Israeli-designed computer chips power your cell phones. In fact, cell phone technology was developed by MOTOROLA in Israel.

On the environmental front, Israel has embraced solar energy and its engineers are on the cutting edge of solar energy technology. Over 90 percent of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water, which is the highest per capita the world.

Israel is also the global leader in water conservation and geo-thermal energy; its development of cutting-edge technology in communications, software, and life sciences have evoked comparisons with the Silicon Valley.

Lastly, relative to population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. These immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, economic opportunity, and quality of life.

For those who don’t respect Israel for its policies or politics, I urge you to understand the vital role that Israel plays in the world. The United States has stood steadfastly by Israel, and I commend this position.

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Fueling NSHS: Can we change climate change? http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/fueling-nshs-can-we-change-climate-change/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/fueling-nshs-can-we-change-climate-change/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 06:50:44 +0000 Gabriel Schneider http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3341 The joke is that a breakthrough in renewable energy is only 30 years away– and will always be only 30 years away.

Unfortunately, our eco-system can simply no longer wait that long. From December 7–18, global leaders from around the world met in Copenhagen for the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change to discuss a plan of action for the coming years.

Though little binding legislation was produced, the conference was successful in that it set a global agenda: to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. Of the issues facing world leaders in Copenhagen, energy supply, transportation, industry, agriculture and deforestation were among the most pressing topics in the challenge to mitigate carbon emissions.

Though much forward progress has been made on a national and international scale, however, the truth is that real change must start at home.

Over the past ten years, Newton South has become much more conscious of its energy output. While a lot of progress has been made, however, there is still a lot of work to be done.

In 2003, with funding from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Solar to Market Initiative, the city of Newton’s “SUNERGY program, initiated by former Mayor David Cohen, installed solar electric panels on the roof of Newton South.

“It is obvious to me that our current energy situation is unsustainable in so many ways – economically, environmentally, and politically. But I am heartened by the fact that there is a viable alternative and that we in Newton can lead the way, said Cohen in 2003.

“While it will provide an impressive amount of clean energy, it will also be a great educational tool. And the array at the library will have an educational kiosk so that we all be able to learn more about the benefits of solar energy.

Clearly, this was not the case. Since the solar panels are presently out of use, they serve little to no functional purpose.

That being said, Newton South still utilizes many energy efficient technologies. According to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Newton South uses “daylighting sensors that dim lights when adequate ambient light is present, occupancy sensors that turn lights off when rooms are not in use, a rainwater collection system that recycles rainwater for toilet flushing, and low VOC paints and sealants that improve air quality for the building occupants.

These systems, installed over five years ago, have indeed reduced the school’s carbon footprint tremendously.

Though not perfectly “green, Newton South demonstrates that energy efficiency can occur regardless of national mandate. On his website, Mayor Setti Warren describes his agenda for energy efficiency in Newton as compared to the rest of the country: “While the federal government has, for many years, abandoned its responsibility to steward our environment, many great opportunities exist for us on the city level to take up that challenge. We have the ability to make a real difference.

As Mayor, Warren promises to make government operations as “green as possible, by diversifying energy sources, expanding recycling, reducing traffic and congestion, and enhancing bus, train and bike utilization.

Principal Joel Stembridge, on the other hand, is a little more realistic. “I know that South’s been interested in being green, he said, “[but] the district is probably interested most in conserving money. It’s more about doing less rather than buying more efficient systems. In order to conserve energy, it’s going to take a system of doing less.

Stembridge explained that one effective means of saving energy is sending out information by email rather than mailing it home. “We’re trying to push for more and more electronic communication and less and less paper communication, he said.

Other forms of saving energy, such as turning off the lights, aren’t that easy. Although new lights with greater longevity have been purchased, the reality is that “this is a building that’s open all the time, Stembridge said. “The idea of turning off lights is difficult because [the building] is used so late at night.

“The most important issue, Environmental Club advisor and Science teacher Sally Rosen said, “is education and awareness about climate change, energy and our environmental impact.

When all else fails, it’s the little things that count most. “Knowing where your food is coming from and using paper trays instead of Styrofoam, are both great ways to be energy conscious, she said.

The Environmental Club has subsidized the purchase of paper trays to replace plastic in the cafeteria and plans to replace plastic silverware with corn or potato based silverware next year. “I hope students remain open to being educated about their environmental impacts, Rosen said.

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A struggle for acceptance http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/a-struggle-for-acceptance/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/a-struggle-for-acceptance/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 06:00:59 +0000 Jake Palmer http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3251 “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech at Columbia University in September, 2007. Although many in the audience took this statement in jest, the truth is that Ahmadinejad didn’t have a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

“I don’t know who’s told you that we have this phenomenon, he maintained.

Unfortunately, as demonstrated by Iran, homosexuality is still not tolerated in many parts of the world. Yet, as easy as it is to condemn other countries for intolerance, it’s necessary to first scrutinize America’s own willingness to accept civil liberties for all people.

Though America was founded on the principles of equality and opportunity, gays and lesbians still fight for their inalienable rights.

“31 states have voted about gay marriage, and none have approved it, history teacher Robert Parlin said. “The US is not overall more tolerant [than other countries], but rather better educated communities tend to be more tolerant.

Even states that are often deemed more accepting toward diversity have not recently demonstrated a readiness to change through political action. California and Maine for instance, two states that successfully passed legislation to legalize gay marriage, later voted to rescind their decisions.

According to Parlin, acceptance in the US “depends on where in the country you’re looking.
“It tends to be more tolerant in liberal states, but even in liberal places like Newton, there is some intolerance, he said.

Senior Aron Milberg agrees: “It varies everywhere, even within this country. Compared to Saudi Arabia, we’re extremely progressive.

Massachusetts has proven to be an outlier of sorts in comparison to the rest of the world, let alone the country. In 2004, Massachusetts became only the sixth jurisdiction in the world, after The Netherlands, Belgium, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, to legalize same sex marriage. Although America is often viewed as on the forefront of civil rights, the truth is that Massachusetts is unique in its endeavors. The question arises: why is America so behind?
Policy makers have by no means neglected the gay rights issue. In October of this year, President Barack Obama signed a major piece of federal gay rights legislation, which many people compared to the 1960s civil rights legislation. Unfortunately, due to difficulties in passing partisan agendas through Congress, Obama has had trouble making significant progress.

Even despite gradual advancement in legislative initiatives, there remains widespread intolerance in America’€though it may not be seen to the same extent in more well educated communities such as Newton.

Denmark and Canada for example, lead the world in civil rights awareness by allowing the unhindered right of gay marriage; also, much of the European Union preaches tolerance.
On the other side of the spectrum, many Middle Eastern and Asian countries still condemn and actively repudiate homosexuality.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, hundreds of gay Iraqi men have been tortured and murdered in recent months.

“Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate, Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said in a CNN interview. “Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.

Injustices like those in Iraq are evident in many parts of the world’€even though they often go unnoticed by the public.

Latent suppression of civil rights also exists in Asian countries such as China, where, according to Parlin, homosexuality is considered unacceptable.

Parlin suggests that this problem of intolerance stems from a lack of education about peoples’ differences.

“In many schools across the globe, homosexuality is not even discussed, he said. “Through education, comes empathy.

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Whatever happened to “family friendly?” http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/whatever-happened-to-%e2%80%9cfamily-friendly%e2%80%9d/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/whatever-happened-to-%e2%80%9cfamily-friendly%e2%80%9d/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 05:59:24 +0000 Shayna Sage http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3253 American media culture has no doubt changed since the days when TV first started out. In 1956, for instance, Elvis Presley was only shown waist-up on the Ed Sullivan show because his provocative dancing, deemed too inappropriate for the public, caused much discussion and concern. Only 50 years later, TV shows are exploring topics such as sexuality, teenage pregnancy and homosexuality, and viewers have certainly been affected by these unorthodox themes.

For a long time, TV producers were reluctant to include homosexual characters in their shows due to widespread discomfort with the subject. In 1997, however, when Ellen Degeneres “came out on her sitcom, she undeniably paved the way for homosexuality in mainstream media.

In following years, shows such as Dawson’s Creek and Will & Grace began to incorporate gay characters into their plots, and more recently, TV shows aimed at teenagers such as Glee, Gossip Girl, Degrassi, The OC, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager have further explored such issues by focusing on the individual struggles and triumphs of the realistic characters.

A recent survey taken by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation found that out of those who say their feelings toward homosexuality have become more favorable in the past five years, about one-third credited characters from TV.

“I think that the portrayal of homosexuality in TV shows can have either a very negative effect or a very positive effect, depending mostly upon the TV show and its content, junior and Gay-Straight Alliance president Rebecca Penzias said. “Some TV shows just show sexuality as something that is very fluid, which I think is generally very positive.

Shows that portray gay characters, such as the recent TV hit, Glee, can arguably influence viewers in a positive way by allowing them to gain a new perspective on those with different sexual orientations.

“It makes people more confident about who they are and unafraid to be themselves because they see that in these shows, they are readily accepted, junior Anastasia Lymer said. “Seeing this kind of diversity on TV makes people feel more accepted.

Junior Phoebe Huth feels that though the new trend has some positive aspects, there could be other ways of portraying the idea of sexual diversity on teenaged based shows. “I feel like homosexuality isn’t positively portrayed in teen shows because they always have the ‘Ëœtoken gay guy’ or a character like that, she said.

“They feel like they need each type of person to fit a stereotype instead of just portraying the teen experience. 

Penzias agrees that TV shows tend to highlight stereotypes. “The biggest issue that I have with TV shows and their portrayals of homosexuality is that the characters tend to perpetuate stereotypes of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, she said. “I think the media should be using its advantage to conquer stereotypes and promote acceptance, not put additional pressure on LGBT teens to conform.

Senior Jamie Brotsky believes, however, that exposure to controversial subjects on TV can only be beneficial.

“I think people are becoming more comfortable with different sexualities and TV is trying to put it out there, Brotsky said. “That it isn’t such a bad thing.

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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.


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.


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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An Unparalleled Impact http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/an-unparalleled-impact/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/an-unparalleled-impact/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 05:03:05 +0000 Gabriel Schneider http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2642 “An important chapter in our history has come to an end, President Obama said, regarding Ted Kennedy’s recent passing. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

Indeed, during Ted Kennedy’s tenure in the Senate, he stood among all others as a legislative giant.

“He has been the de facto leader of the Democratic Party for the past forty years or so, senior Alex Ketabi said, “probably the most influential and powerful figure.

Kennedy’s nickname “Lion of the Senate was not only a tribute to his formidable voice on the national scene, but also to his unyielding ability to bridge discord in the name of progress.

Before Kennedy’s funeral, the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston held a “Celebration of Life ceremony, where both friends and political foes alike spoke about their experiences with Kennedy. Figures like John McCain and Oren Hatch, both Republicans, attested to Kennedy’s unparalleled ability to compromise.

“When we were agreed on an issue and worked together to make a little progress for the country on an important issue, he was the best ally you could have, McCain said. “You never had even a small doubt that once his word was given and a course of action decided, he would honor the letter and spirit of the agreement.

History teacher Alan Chaney admired Kennedy’s flexibility in working with legislators of other viewpoints. “If the means were just, he would work with anybody, Chaney said.

Kennedy was well respected in the Senate and was thus able to influence an unprecedented amount of legislation. He championed such laws as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Immigration Act of 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1982, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007.

Even though Kennedy came from a wealthy family, he believed in a better America for all people.

“Kennedy wasn’t poor, he wasn’t handicapped, he wasn’t black, and he wasn’t gay’€and yet he fought for all those things anyway, Chaney said.

“He was a pragmatist, senior Ben Chesler said, “He knew how to get things done. He knew what direction to go in, but he was willing to take baby steps to get there.

Kennedy’s passing marks the end of a chapter in this country’s history and evokes a feeling of loss in government officials and common citizens alike. “There’s certainly a void there, Cheney said, “but that’s what happens.

As for his life, “Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections, Obama said. “It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding.


“I don’t think there’s a more powerful and important group in our society than the young people of this nation… But if they’re going to sit out the problems and issues that we face at this time, I can tell there are many groups that are prepared to move into this vacuum and to take advantage of the times. This is the real issue…. That is why I am hopeful and confident that this generation is going to be as involved and as effective in the great issues of our time as was the past generation.­’€Senator Kennedy, March 24, 1975 at NNHS

“With Ted Kennedy, it wasn’t about the ‘Ëœvote for me’ mentality.’€Erika Stern

“Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding.’€Barack Obama

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A Small Gesture Goes a Long Way http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/a-small-gesture-goes-a-long-way/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/a-small-gesture-goes-a-long-way/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 05:01:10 +0000 Gabriel Schneider http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/a-small-gesture-goes-a-long-way/ Ted Kennedy, known for his work in the Senate as well as for his prominent family name, was a personable, trustworthy and articulate man whose larger-than-life traits led him to prominence in the Senate for over four decades.

Regardless of his high esteem in government, however, Kennedy always found time to reach out to common people’€even if only in the smallest of ways.

Kennedy became well known for his unyielding decency and humility, regardless of his popularity for the upcoming election. Donald and Erika Stern, Newton residents and parents of former Denebola Editor-in-Chief Ben Stern, both knew Kennedy as a man who was always willing to go out of his way for a small gesture of acknowledgment or a simple note.
While neither Donald nor Erika Stern knew or worked with Kennedy closely enough to call him a colleague, he always showed them the utmost kindness and respect.
Erika Stern got to know Kennedy during her career as the first director of the Profile in Courage Award at the John F. Kennedy Library. When she was a finalist nominee for the position at the JFK Library, Kennedy insisted on meeting individually with each candidate.

So, one afternoon in Copley Square, Erika sat down with Kennedy for tea. “It was so comfortable, she said. “He was genuinely interested in what I had to say.

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is considered the nation’s most prestigious honor for elected public servants who demonstrate an outstanding quality of political courage. Erika recalls Kennedy’s enthusiasm about the emergence of this particular award: “This piece of his family history and this particular award meant so much to him.

“He had the ability to be passionate about his policies but he knew when to compromise.
‘€Donald Stern

During her time at the JFK Library, Erika caught a glimpse into the life of the Senator through her own work with him.

“He cared a lot about his staff, she said.

“It always amazed me, his broad capacity for handling all those things swirling around in the legislative world and then still dedicating time to the library.

In addition, Erika admired Kennedy’s insatiable desire to continue his education about the legislative process.

Even during his tenure as Senator, Kennedy would attend meetings with scholars, journalists and other legislators to master various esoteric legal opportunities to help him pass legislation.

“His success was in part his legislative knowledge as it was his incredible relations with people in the Senate to find common ground and work across party lines, Erika said.

Most touching, however, was Kennedy’s genuine gratitude to those on his staff. After Erika oversaw the first Profile in Courage Award, she received a letter from Kennedy in thanks. Less than a week later, however, she unexpectedly received another letter from Kennedy in the mail’€apologizing for not signing the original letter himself. He enclosed another letter with an authentic signature.

“I would have never known the difference, Erika said, “and that’s the measure of a really decent person. He was a real mensch who wanted things done right.
Kennedy simply never needed public praise or media attention to guide his actions.

“With Ted Kennedy, it wasn’t about the ‘Ëœvote for me’ mentality, Erika said, “He was a man who deeply cared about the welfare of the people he served, she said.

Erika’s husband Donald Stern, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts from 1993 to 2001, admits that he had only met Kennedy “once or twice. Yet while working in the public sector, Donald came in contact with Kennedy various times during his career.

Kennedy played a role in Donald’s appointment as U.S. attorney and was also present when Donald was sworn in to office.

Like Erika, Donald received “one of those famous notes with a pendant at the bottom and a signature, when his father died about two years ago.

“He didn’t have to do it, Donald said, “and what was most touching was that it didn’t have to be big or important or anything.

Donald recognizes Kennedy’s work as monumental in a time when passion rarely sculpts policy.

“He really is irreplaceable. His ability to combine his passion with his job was really unique, Donald said. “I don’t think anybody can combine those traits like Kennedy did. He had the ability to be passionate about his policies but he knew when to compromise.

With Kennedy’s passing comes the important realization that great politicians are hard to come by.

Kennedy was able to combine his passion with his intellect, his affability with his humor, and his thoughtfulness with his humility to establish himself as an effective legislator and a great man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Obama’s 100 days in office http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/obamas-100-days-in-office/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/obamas-100-days-in-office/#comments Wed, 13 May 2009 23:00:59 +0000 Gabriel Schneider http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2326 In 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office as President of the United States, the country was in utter turmoil; banks failed across the board, unemployment soared and industry as a whole collapsed.
Today, although bread lines aren’t exactly lining street corners, America is facing a strikingly similar situation to that of the 1930s.

In Obama’s victory speech at Grant Park, he struck a chord in the American people by deliberately referencing the Great Depression: “When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

With his prose came a sense of stability; a sense that the country has already made it through hard times before, and can do it again.

FDR accomplished an unprecedented amount of reform in his presidency. As part of his acclaimed New Deal, he created more than a dozen major pieces of legislature in his first hundred days as president.

In Obama’s hundred days, his ambitions have been almost equally as impressive. He passed the $787 billion economic stimulus plan, signed into law the Ledbetter law which requires equal pay for women, and has broken from the Bush administration on a number of international policies including climate change.

FDR was also able to communicate with the average person through his “fireside chats. Like Obama today, FDR inspired the average citizen and was able to communicate his hopes for a better future.

In Obama’s hundred days as president, the country has gotten a taste of his work as Commander in Chief.

There are some truly striking similarities between the two presidents. For one, Both Obama and FDR took advantage of the economic emergencies at hand to pass massive spending bills. With little time to reflect upon, let alone read the entire $787 billion “stimulus package, congress passed the bill in fear of immediate economic turmoil. This strategy was taken from the successful “emergency banking bill of the Roosevelt administration, which was passed in roughly 30 minutes.

Both presidents have also stretched the limits on the powers of the presidency. Obama, like FDR, can work a crowd and inspire the average person. Furthermore, as FDR used his powder for reform, Obama has also already provided strong leadership that will bring the country in a new direction.

Obama described such an ability to change in his speech following his presidential victory: “For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

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