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Denebola » Jarrett Gorin 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 Breaking News! Your essays may be plagiarized: Turnitin not foolproof http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/breaking-news-your-essays-may-be-plagiarized-turnitin-not-foolproof/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/breaking-news-your-essays-may-be-plagiarized-turnitin-not-foolproof/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:59:47 +0000 Jarrett Gorin http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5779 Plagiarism is the easiest way to fail. No ifs, ands, or buts.
There have been rumors going around—as there are each year—about so-and-so plagiarizing on his or her history paper and thus earning a zero.
Most students react in shock or disbelief. With our teachers’ numerous lectures, most onlookers are surprised that anyone would even think to try something so stupid.
Plagiarism can be unintentional, however. Scouring essays for copied work is tedious and annoying, and writers naturally assume that all their work is what it seems—entirely their own.
Accidents do happen. Certain phrases stick in our minds when we’re researching, and these turn up in our papers. We can rarely prevent this—it’s just the way our brains work.
And what if a coincidence happens? There are times when the phrasings of certain sentences can align with those of another source, even if a writer has never seen the source.
Our teachers try their best to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but using just their own intuition doesn’t seem to cut it. Now, Turnitin.com, a website that checks essays and papers against original sources for copied work, does it all for them.
Unfortunately, Turnitin has more than a few flaws.
First of all, the teachers’ settings for the site don’t include text sources. It only checks the internet and other submitted essays. Don’t many of the sources that we use for essays and such come from books? Sure, some books’ text is online, but most of the time this is not the case. This is clearly an enormous gap in the website’s ability to provide accurate assessments of work.
On top of that, Turnitin looks at everything in a paper. That means that there is not a single phrase that is omitted, even if it’s something simple, such as “The other day I went…”.
On my history paper, it said that my page numbers were plagiarized. Page numbers.
Turnitin is essentially useless. Of course, it catches some things; if you were to fob off an entire piece of work you would get caught.
However, Turnitin doesn’t catch the right things, but rather catches all the wrong things. Books are left out as sources, and citations, quotations, and even page numbers are counted. I don’t really see how anyone thought that this would help us.
Despite this, many teachers take Turnitin very seriously. My history teacher threatened to give a zero to anyone who didn’t submit their paper to the site by a certain time the night before it was due.
As for the actual issue of plagiarism, yes, it is a problem, and yes, it can be stopped.
Is Turnitin the answer to this problem? No, because it just doesn’t work.

Plagiarism is the easiest way to fail. No ifs, ands, or buts.There have been rumors going around—as there are each year—about so-and-so plagiarizing on his or her history paper and thus earning a zero. Most students react in shock or disbelief. With our teachers’ numerous lectures, most onlookers are surprised that anyone would even think to try something so stupid. Plagiarism can be unintentional, however. Scouring essays for copied work is tedious and annoying, and writers naturally assume that all their work is what it seems—entirely their own.Accidents do happen. Certain phrases stick in our minds when we’re researching, and these turn up in our papers. We can rarely prevent this—it’s just the way our brains work.And what if a coincidence happens? There are times when the phrasings of certain sentences can align with those of another source, even if a writer has never seen the source.Our teachers try their best to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but using just their own intuition doesn’t seem to cut it. Now, Turnitin.com, a website that checks essays and papers against original sources for copied work, does it all for them.Unfortunately, Turnitin has more than a few flaws.First of all, the teachers’ settings for the site don’t include text sources. It only checks the internet and other submitted essays. Don’t many of the sources that we use for essays and such come from books? Sure, some books’ text is online, but most of the time this is not the case. This is clearly an enormous gap in the website’s ability to provide accurate assessments of work.On top of that, Turnitin looks at everything in a paper. That means that there is not a single phrase that is omitted, even if it’s something simple, such as “The other day I went…”.On my history paper, it said that my page numbers were plagiarized. Page numbers. Turnitin is essentially useless. Of course, it catches some things; if you were to fob off an entire piece of work you would get caught. However, Turnitin doesn’t catch the right things, but rather catches all the wrong things. Books are left out as sources, and citations, quotations, and even page numbers are counted. I don’t really see how anyone thought that this would help us.Despite this, many teachers take Turnitin very seriously. My history teacher threatened to give a zero to anyone who didn’t submit their paper to the site by a certain time the night before it was due.As for the actual issue of plagiarism, yes, it is a problem, and yes, it can be stopped.Is Turnitin the answer to this problem? No, because it just doesn’t work.

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First lunch places last: lunch one a chaotic mess http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/first-lunch-places-last-lunch-one-a-chaotic-mess/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/first-lunch-places-last-lunch-one-a-chaotic-mess/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 04:57:35 +0000 Jarrett Gorin http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5609 Ever since the semester started, first lunch has been uncomfortably overcrowded. When the lunch schedule changed, no one realized that the two most crowded areas of the school, the 2000’s and the 6000’s, would be eating at the same time.

Now, the first lunch line is comparable to a mob, lacking only pitchforks and burning torches.

The ensuing chaos causes some students to wait in line for the duration of lunch, forcing many to bring their lunches to class, while others choose not to eat at all because of lines.

To make matters worse, the entrance, a very small doorway, is nearly impossible to squeeze through, and it is anything but pleasant trying to navigate the various lunch counters beyond the doorway.

I’m not claustrophobic but sheer volume of people in the lunch line would likely scare King Kong, let alone hungry South students.

Two of my classes have swapped lunches to relieve crowding, yet the situation remains the same. Cancelled freshman classes take first lunch; adding at least fifty extra students to the first-lunch crowd every day.

The new policy mandating the first floor of the 6000s to take second or third lunch has yet to yield results.

The cafeteria staff have made efforts to clear the jam by moving the registers outside the doors. The tactic has allowed more space where no food exists, but doesn’t change the high concentration of students surrounding the counters.

Following the current lunch situation’s trajectory, I doubt anything will by fixed by the end of the year.

Nearing the end of the third term, there may not be enough time for a proper solution, which is unfortunate when students are forced to go without food and seek places to eat outside of the cafeteria.

The simple solution to the problem would be to rearrange the lunch schedule to reflect the traffic, which would eliminate the problems.

But seeing as there are no imminent solutions, there are only a few small things we can do to make life easier during our half-hour of culinary solace.

The first thing is frustratingly simple: pay with smaller bills. Students stand in line watching people pay with fifty dollar bills, which is ridiculous. Or, even better: put money in your lunch account!

Another solution, although it might be “retro,” would be to bring lunch from home.

Your parents would surely be happy to save at least $17, and if you still have that refrigerated Power Rangers lunchbox from third grade, you can eat a chilled lunch!

So, why complicate life when you don’t need to? Do your part to speed up the lunch lines and we’ll all be rewarded.

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Adult content in education is… http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/adult-content-in-education-is/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/adult-content-in-education-is/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 04:19:52 +0000 Jarrett Gorin http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5700 PRO
…an eye-opening experience

A debate has emerged as to whether the movies shown in Spanish class the week before February break were “appropriate” to show because the films contained some nudity and other racy situations. The question is: are the movies considered inappropriate due to the content or due to the student’s reaction of shock?
In the first movie, Manolito Gafotas, it was, of course, unexpected to see people drop their pants to go to the bathroom or go to sleep, something that one generally doesn’t see in G-rated American movies.
But was that inappropriate?
The male reproductive organs are intrinsically familiar to the male students, and females have been exposed in South’s freshman Sexual Education course; the movie should not have been such a shock.
Sex Ed. teaches students about safe sex practices and the reproductive processes, yet students do not go around complaining that Sex Ed. is inappropriate, so why be so upset about the Spanish movies?
Furthermore, much of the dialogue that shocked students actually provided a learning experience of Hispanic culture, which added another level to a film that was originally intended only to improve our language skills.
Primarily, students gained insight into the openness of conversation between family members in this culture. Students saw that if Manolito, the main character, has a question, he feels safe and open to share what is on his mind, and in response his father answers his questions without hesitation.
We learn that in Hispanic culture, they embrace curiosity, which is admirable, not improper. One might even say that this openness should be encouraged among American families, not dismissed as “inappropriate.”
In the second movie shown, La Cuarta Planta, there was a scene in which the four main characters go to the bathroom “to listen to music.”
First, let me admit that this scene was a bit shocking, and certainly not something that I’ve ever seen in school before. I should hope, however, that by now we’re mature enough to watch a scene as minor as this one in La Cuarta Planta.
It’s clear that the benefits of viewing the film outweigh whatever harm students perceive. What are the benefits? Education on the openness of Spanish culture–the original intention of our teachers when they showed us the movie.
So why are we condemning the movie if it promotes openness about natural pleasures?
Consider this: any Spaniard would come to the U.S. and call us overly-censored because we think that we should hide what embarrasses us, especially since America, being a liberal and democratic nation, should be the most understanding of all countries in the world.
Even if the scenes in the Spanish movies were slightly inappropriate, why are we, the teenagers of America, complaining? We’re always fighting for our freedom to do and see what we want, for more independence and less censorship.We always want the freedom of being an adult, but now that we’ve had our chance, we are squandering it.
Most importantly, we have been focusing on a very minor part of these movies. I thought that the screening of both Manolito Gafotas and La Cuarta Planta was valuable because it was a nice way to transition into vacation, it demonstrated the use of the Hispanic lisped accent, and it shows the common life and views of the people in Spain.
And yet, somehow there’s no sense of balance or proportion. Out of hours of informative and meaningful film, all some focused on was thirty seconds.

CON
…unnecessary and inappropriate

It was the week before February Vacation. Everyone was excited, and no one wanted to be in school. Then we learn some good news. Movies all week in Spanish!
Normally, this would be a great thing, but unfortunately, there was a problem. In both of the movies, there were some “adult” themes in terms of  American cinema.
The two movies took inappropriate much too far for an “educational” setting.
Take the first movie, Manolito Gafotas. At the beginning, it appeared to be a simple movie about a simple family living in Spain.
Viewers soon saw that we had been deceived, starting with unexpected and superfluous nudity.
There was a scene in which the little brother of the main character needed to use the bathroom. I’m sure you can infer what happened next.
Needless to say, this was too much information for our uncontrollable teenaged minds. We were shocked, the room full of awkward teenagers suddenly getting very uncomfortable.
It didn’t get any better after that. I don’t think any of us had a desire to see Manolito in his underwear, or see him and his father undressing themselves—all of themselves.
The second movie, La Cuarta Planta, was worse. It was a movie about teenagers with cancer, which normally would be sad and emotional. But at the end, instead of feeling moved, I felt deeply disturbed.
The main characters would spend part of their day on the roof, trying to catch a glimpse of a girl through a window. One of the boys claims he saw the girl in a magazine and thinks that she is spectacular. The other boys don’t believe him, and the first boy feels the need to prove himself. In order to do so, he gets his hands on a poster of the half-naked woman.
By now, all of the Spanish students watching the movie had become, in a sense, desensitized. A half-naked woman? Hey, at least she’s got some clothes on.
At this point, our cheeks were bright red, our eyes were glazed over, and our mouths were hanging open. It was the definition of “system overload.” It could not, we reasoned, get any worse. It did.
Anyone who saw the movie has to remember the “bathroom music” scene. It was perhaps the most uncomfortable moment of the whole ordeal, and in addition to it being profoundly shocking it was very, very odd, seeing the boys’ facial expressions change in the mirror, in the center of the screen, and nothing else.
The themes were unsuitable for school and we could not comprehend why our teachers thought it was a good idea—or even a moderately good idea, or a passable idea, or a not bad idea—to show them.
Both of the movies were, quite frankly, inappropriate choices. Yes, they showed us life in Spain. The only problem? They didn’t leave anything out.
Was there even a point to screening the movies? Sure, they took up class time, but to what end? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t any more educated about Spain after watching them than before.
In fact, the only difference in my knowledge before and after the movies was that before I was blissfully unaware that a simple movie shown in Spanish class could cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There is a line that divides purposeful displays of adult material for educational purposes and gratuitously explicit material. The Spanish movies helped distinguish this boundary, finding themselves beyond the realm of necessary educational experiences.

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Crew long overdue http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/crew-long-overdue/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/crew-long-overdue/#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 09:15:52 +0000 Jarrett Gorin http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4965 Why is lacrosse such a popular sport at South? Why football? Why basketball?
All of these sports have one thing in common: they are accessible to everyone. Practice is right here at school.
There is even a swim team, despite South’s lack of a swimming pool. And yet with all this variety we are still lacking one team we should not be: a crew team.
One of the most well-known regattas, the Head of the Charles is held every year in Boston as a featured boat race which is attended by teams around the world.
Crew is a well-known sport that very few people at South play’€it’s extremely popular, especially in Boston. Not to mention that many high schools in the area, both public and private, have crew teams.
So why don’t we have a crew team here at South?
Crew would be beneficial to South not only because it is fun and interesting, but also because it will give more people who aren’t interested in the current sports offered an opportunity to try something new. Crew is also a great way to stay in shape.
Crew also has many psychological benfits. First of all, it teaches rowers to focus.
They need to be alert and attentive so they don’t run into anything on the water. If one person is not paying attention, the boat could capsize or hit something.
Second of all, rowing also teaches teamwork and cooperation. Crew requires the entire team to be in sync with each other.
Each individual knows the strengths and weaknesses of the others and balances them out by placing people where they would be most suited.
Everyone must cooperate. These values can be applied in everyday life, which I have experienced firsthand.
It’s easier for me to work as a group in classes now than it was before I started rowing.
Because there is no closer option, I have to row at a boathouse along the Charles River called Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI).
It’s a great building and a great place to row, but driving back and forth takes a lot of time, time that I end up losing in sleep because of South’s infamously heavy workload.
It would be great not to have to go to CRI. It is an inconvenient trip, and because of traffic, getting in and out always takes forever.
If there was a team at South, a bus could take us to row, and a bus could take us back. Then getting home from South would be a piece of cake.
Other students at South who also row at CRI feel the same way about a crew team.
“It would be awesome to have a crew team at South because it’s a great sport, freshman rower Richard DeNitto said.
Crew at South would be convenient and fun. It is also not a sport that everyone knows how to do. It’s unique.
Even students who don’t row competitively would enjoy a crew team.
“It would cost a lot of money, but . . . it would be worth it, freshman George Sangiolo said.
Students at South want a crew team.
It would help those who don’t have time to drive to CRI and those who don’t row would have fun trying something new. In other words, South needs a crew team.
The more students are able to try their hand at new sports, the better off we’ll be.

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Starbucks: to pay, or not to pay? http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/starbucks-to-pay-or-not-to-pay/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/starbucks-to-pay-or-not-to-pay/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 10:01:42 +0000 Hattie Gawande http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4795 The other day we walked into a Starbucks for a little overpriced, overrated goodness and came up short. We were flabbergasted.
Our formerly modestly populated Waban Starbucks was packed with South students, most of whom were not from the area, implying that they were there because they genuinely wanted to, and not just for the convenience.
We were bewildered and then suspicious: what was our little neighborhood café chain doing to attract teenagers?
We knew they had to be up to something. After all, as they say, “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
In other words, if Starbucks looked like it was using underhanded tactics to lure teenagers’ wallets to their dooms, then it probably was.
Now, it probably sounds like we’re jumping to conclusions. We teenagers like sugary drinks, and we like to hang out with friends.
Throw in a little background music, maybe a sofa or two, and we’re in heaven. Why wouldn’t Starbucks be the place for us?
Well, there is one main reason: Starbucks is expensive with a capital ‘ËœE’.
And, in our experience, teenagers usually have less money than more.
Going out with friends is a serious drain on the savings. Since not going out is simply not an option, one should think that students would try to conserve their funds and go somewhere cheaper’€Dunkin Donuts, for example. Why, then, are they crowding their local Starbucks’?
We, knowing that it was our patent duty to get to the bottom of this, decided to find out.
Our theory was that the Starbucks logo essentially functions like the Apple logo: one look and you need whatever it is they’re advertising. It’s like hypnotism.
Thousand dollar laptop? No sweat. Five buck coffee? Not a problem. Take one look at all the people sitting in the windows of Starbucks with their MacBooks and cappuccinos and you know that there’s a link between the two companies.
So, we did a little research, conducted a few interviews, and found out that we were… wrong. However, the results were still interesting.
Among the people that we talked to, there are two main factors in Starbucks’ popularity.
The first is atmosphere. Starbucks is the master of creating an atmosphere that lures you in’€and keeps you there.
Instead of the garish color schemes of Dunkin Donuts (magenta? orange?!) they go for relaxed colors. Wood floors and a thankful lack of fluorescent lighting complete the picture.
If that doesn’t say “Come in, buy some expensive coffee, and stay awhile, we don’t know what does.
Second is that you can order almost whatever you want at Starbucks.
In all seriousness, you can order anything from a regular coffee to a double ristretto venti nonfat organic chocolate brownie frappuccino extra hot with foam and whipped cream upside down double blended.
Or a cookie or a sandwich.
You don’t even have to like coffee, you just have to be willing to shell out too much money, which everyone does.
Basically, our findings told us that Starbucks is duping teenagers not with quality, but by imitating a European café, which hypnotizes them into Starbucks-obsessed freaks.
They’re too awed by the fact that they’re ordering a coffee in a size so coolly (and, in our opinion, annoyingly) called ‘Ëœventi’ that they don’t even realize that they’re paying more than they should to get it.
Wake up, South. And don’t smell the coffee.

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