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Denebola » Jesse Zhang 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 Biker killed by SUV, Newton concerned http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/biker-killed-by-suv-newton-concerned/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/biker-killed-by-suv-newton-concerned/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 12:11:10 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4436 Senior Matt Ma was the last person to see Andy von Guerard alive. While dropping off library books, Ma had waved to von Guerard as he biked past.

Ma remembers Andy von Guerard as more than a colleague and friend.

“So far as male bonding goes, we were almost on a bromantic level, Ma said. “We were very close since we were the only male, non-boss employees [at our workplace].

Like many, Ma has mourned over the tragic death of 21-year-old von Guerard on May 17, who ran a red light at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Homer Street and collided with a sports utility vehicle.

It was Newton’s first bike-related fatality in three years.

Von Guerard was pronounced dead after being transported to Beth Israel Hospital by ambulance shortly after the collision. He had not been wearing a helmet.

Ma had worked with von Guerard at the Taste Coffeehouse in Newtonville for almost a year.

Ma, who often refers to von Guerard as a “space cadet, recalled how many of the regular customers would come in just to have a chat with von Guerard.

“He always gets the job done, and he always does it with a smile on his face, Ma said.

Von Guerard was originally from Grand Junction, Colorado, and has been living in Waltham since August 2009. He was an online student at Mesa State University and had turned 21 on April 30, about two weeks before his accident.

“I think everyone should learn to truly appreciate their friends every day, Ma said. “You have to let them know that you¦ appreciate them for being there and helping you out. Otherwise you would feel so mad at yourself for missing an opportunity to tell them what you always wanted to say if something happened to them.

Senior Yuji Wakimoto, like many other South students and teachers, bikes regularly to school.

“[Von Guerard's death] definitely brings awareness to paying attention on the street for both the driver and the cyclist, Wakimoto said. “You never think this situation would happen.

After von Guerard’s accident, another 40-year-old cyclist was ran over on May 27 while cycling east on Commonwealth Avenue.

According to a Newton TAB article, a red Toyota Corolla had knocked the cyclist over and pulled him under the car.

The cyclist survived, and the city is now working harder to enforce bicycle safety. Mayor Setti Warren hopes to develop a five to 10-year plan that will possibly install bicycle lanes.

Warren, BikeNewton, and the Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force said that they were attemting to increase bicycle safety even before the accidents through advocacy for bike lanes.

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Rebuilding Haiti: an engineer’s story http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/rebuilding-haiti-an-engineer%e2%80%99s-story/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/rebuilding-haiti-an-engineer%e2%80%99s-story/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:58:04 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3595 What Newton resident Marvin Davidson remembers most about his 11-day stay in Haiti are the orphans.

“It was visiting the orphanage and seeing the beautiful children and the longing looks in their eyes, Davidson said of his experience.

Nearly a month after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the island nation of Haiti, Davidson, a structural engineer, still remembers the sheer destruction he saw there.

“I’ve never seen such poverty in my life. I’ve never seen such devastation. I’ve never seen a situation that looked so hopeless, he said.

Davidson’s journey began on January 17, when he first read about an “urgent need of French-speaking structural engineers on the Engineers Without Borders website. Without hesitation, Davidson sent in a resume; he left for Haiti the following week.

“I had been meaning to volunteer my services for a couple of years already in some kind of project in Central America, Davidson said. “I’m just at a point in my life where I’m very appreciative for all I have, and I feel like I’d like to help others a bit.

Davidson grew up in Montreal, Quebec. He came to Boston to earn a Master’s Degree of science in civil engineering at the Massachusetts Institution of Technology, where he met his wife, now Goodwin guidance counselor Marcy Davidson, and fathered two children, Michael and Daniel.

He has worked as an engineer since 1982 and owns Davidson Engineering, Inc., a 15-year-old small business. Davidson focuses mostly on residential structural and foundation engineering.

Because of earthquake damage, getting to Haiti was not easy. Davidson flew at midnight to Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic, and took a five-hour bus ride before finally arriving in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti.

Before making his way to Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital and the center of the earthquake, Davidson inspected many government and institutional buildings at Cap-Haïtien. During his trip, he worked with three other structural engineers. The group’s job was to inspect buildings for earthquake damage.

“[We had to] determine whether or not it would be advisable for people to go back into these buildings, based on the extent of the damage that we observed, he said.

Davidson flew via helicopter into Port-au-Prince on January 28, and his group set up camp at a United Nations (UN) base.

“It was extremely hot, extremely crowded, but it was luxury compared to what the Haitian people were experiencing, Davidson said. “We didn’t eat that well; you had to be careful about what you drink.

The UN camp was located near an airfield, and many people did not sleep well because airplanes would be flying over the camps until 4:00 am, according to Davidson.

Along with receiving Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and typhoid shots, foreigners like Davidson working in Haiti also had to watch out for malaria.

Davidson worked in Port-au-Prince until the last day of his stay on February 5. Every day, he would wake up at 4:00 am, “try to take a shower, answer emails, eat breakfast, and start work at 8:00.

“It was so hot, all we would really do was drink and eat occasional granola bars, he said. “We didn’t stop for lunch.

Davidson’s group inspected buildings that were still standing but cracked. After approaching the building, Davidson would first walk around the outside looking for signs of damage to the walls. If he found the building safe to enter, he would then inspect the inside.

“You [would] look for signs of columns separating from beams, for walls all cracked up, floors and roofs separating from walls, he said, describing the procedure.

In order to be considered safe, a building must be able to withstand two different types of forces. “Gravity loads are vertical forces caused by loads like furniture; they are supported by beams and posts. “Horizontal loads or “lateral loads are forces caused by winds or earthquakes.

Because Haiti is located in an earthquake zone and often experiences hurricanes, buildings must be able to endure lateral loads.

Unlike the buildings of Newton or Boston, buildings in Haiti have almost no wood-frame construction, Davidson said, and local building materials are primarily cement cinderblocks.

“I only saw one steel building, built in 1890 by the French, Davidson said. “[It was] still standing perfectly.

He noted that the structures that had problems in Haiti were poorly built, most likely because the citizens lacked the funding, knowledge, and building codes to construct stabler buildings.

“They just don’t have the same types of institutions that we have. It’s not an advanced society, not a well-educated society, Davidson said.

Davidson’s group inspected 15 buildings a day during the eight-day stay in Port-au-Prince, ultimately inspecting over 100 buildings and concluding that about two-thirds of the inspected buildings were safe to enter.

The group inspected several UN buildings, since many UN workers refused to enter certain buildings out of fear of the building collapsing.

“The UN lost a lot of people in collapsed buildings, Davidson said. “Because of the possibilities of aftershocks and further tremors, they didn’t want to lose more people.

What Davidson found most striking about the Haitian society was the incredible discrepancy between the lifestyles of the poor and the wealthy.  The wealthy were well-dressed, spoke French, and lived in far better homes. Some worked for the UN. The poor lived out in the street in slum-like areas. After the earthquake, many were homeless and lived in poorly-made tents.

“Unfortunately, Haiti is a society that is very divided by class and wealth, Davidson said. “Those who have money have it all.

On February 4, Davidson was asked to do a site visit for the Canadian Army. Several foreign governments had sent armies to provide humanitarian services, such as keeping roads open and providing food and water. Davidson was asked to give advice on keeping a key roadway open after an earthquake-induced landslide.

Early the next morning, Davidson flew to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, from the partially functioning Haiti Airport. He then drove for an hour to a separate airport, flew to the JFK airport in New York, and finally arrived in Boston at about 1:00 am.

After walking back into his home in Newton, Davidson could not help but feel overwhelmed by the disparity between his life and those of the earthquake victims in Haiti.

“I think many people are aware there are disparities, but when you’re actually in those poor areas walking through the streets, being within an inch of the people who have this type of life, it does something to you that no picture or movie or discussion can do to you, Davidson said.

Nevertheless, Davidson can still see hope and happiness in the hearts of the Haitians.

“These people are so used to not having [anything] that as bad as this earthquake has made things, they have a strength and a spirit to still go on, he said. “It’s eye-opening. That’s really all I can say.

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Community Initiates Response for Haiti http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/01/28/community-initiates-response-for-haiti/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/01/28/community-initiates-response-for-haiti/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2010 22:22:55 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3543 Fifteen days after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti and forever changed the lives of three million people on January 12, communities across the planet have contributed to alleviating the Haitians of their suffering.

More than a million and a half Haitians are homeless; 150 thousand are dead; and 194 thousand are injured according to CNN. Today, Haiti has received over $1.12 billion in international aid pledges. South has raised over $4600 cash for Haiti.

The South community responded to the Haitian catastrophe only two days after the earthquake. Prevention and Intervention Counselor Rich Catrambone, METCO Counselor Katani Sumner, and Housemaster Donna Gordon organized a formal meeting for students and the South Senate in the lecture hall on January 14, and students from all grades and backgrounds participated in the discussion that afternoon.

“[What struck Haiti is] not like Boston being wiped out, but like the State of California, proportionally,” Catrambone said during the meeting.

On January 15, parents dropping off their children in the morning were greeted by students carrying giant “Help Haiti” signs, who also set up a table during lunch asking for donations. The South community gathered over $3000 on the first day, according to senior Sam Hyun.

“[I'm] really impressed with the interest and energy of our student body in responding to human tragedy in Haiti,” Principal Joel Stembridge said. “It’s wonderful to see our students work together.”

Several student organizations and events have already made efforts to raise money for the cause. Water Aid International held the WAI Funny event on January 22, donating its profits to supplying water to earthquake victims. Several student music groups will perform in the Invisible Children Benefit Concert on January 29 for earthquake victims and child soldiers. The Senior and Junior Class Officers will match donations made at Winter Prom on January 30.

Students are organizing a faculty luncheon that will raise money for earthquake victims on February 4. Sudbury Farms will donate most of the food for the event, which the students will prepare themselves. A Haiti Benefit concert is set to take place within the next month and will feature musical groups from both South and North including Pajammin’, Newtones, and Vitamin Seed.

Students are also organizing less formal fundraisers outside of their activities. Senior Yong Won helped raise over $1200 through his church fundraiser.

“I learned that even if we are high schoolers and society thinks of teenagers as immature and irresponsible kids, we have some of the brightest minds,” Won said. “I think it’s pretty impressive how some groups morphed and were flexible enough to help Haiti.”

“I think it’s important that before considering ourselves as Americans, highschoolers, or anything else, we know that we are a part of the society of the people as a whole,” freshman Elena Byun said. “Acknowledging that we are one community is critical in understanding that helping those in Haiti, despite the little connection we seem to have with them, is no different than helping ourselves.”

The destination of the charity money has been a concern for many throughout fundraising efforts. In the aftermath of previous disasters, certain online groups arose claiming to collect funds towards the rescue efforts while in fact retaining all the money for themselves.

Gordon assured students that their efforts would be directed in the right direction.

“[We are] donating specifically to the Red Cross so that the money won’t go to the corrupt,” Gordon said.

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Senior class officers add new flavor to traditional pep rally http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/senior-class-officers-add-new-flavor-to-traditional-pep-rally/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/senior-class-officers-add-new-flavor-to-traditional-pep-rally/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 08:28:11 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3387 After careful planning, the senior Class Officers created what some say to be the best pep rally in years on November 25.

Classes and clubs collided in minigames during the one and a half hour pep rally that led up to the annual Powderpuff game.

Minigames included a balloon popping race where representatives of classes popped balloons while hopping in sacks, a tug-of-war between clubs and sports teams, a relay where grouped partners dropped water balloons into buckets, and a race where chains of faculty and students moved a hula-hoop from one side to the other without breaking the chain.

“I thought the change from just having everyone go in and cheer to playing games made [the pep rally] more interesting and fun, senior Celina Chan said. Chan believes that spirit is a way of representing one’s school and taking pride in what that school does.

Senior Class Officers Chantel Aaron, Liza Barnes, Hallie Boviard, Chenzhe Cao, Ben Chesler, and David Krieger had met with Principal Joel Stembridge and the four housemasters several times since the beginning of the school year while drafting pep rally plans and timelines. The Class Officers also ran through minigames before the actual event.

According to senior class adviser Josepha Blocker, the Class Officers had been planning the pep rally for at least two months.

“The officers did a really good job talking and trying to be inclusive of everyone, Stembridge said. “It takes a lot of time and effort.

“It seemed like there was actual spirit, senior Jacob Liverman said. “The students seemed to be happy to be a part of South and the pep rally.

Barnes agreed, noting that the students, especially the seniors, were very spirited.
“People were much more involved this year, Barnes said, “and it was a happier and crazier environment.

Originally, the senior Class Officers had planned on using shaving cream and baby oil during some minigames. After communicating with Athletic Director Scott Perrin, they were informed that both the above products would damage the Field House floors.

Stembridge, who has been attempting to understand what “spirit means to the school, feels that the pep rally was successful. “I don’t judge spirit by how loud we were, but I do judge our sense of community by whether or not people are willing to come to school just to hang out with each other, he said.

Stembridge also noted how more students have come to Saturday football games to hang out and watch the game.

Barnes feels spirit makes students and teachers excited about being part of the school.
“It makes the school a more friendly and inviting environment, she said.

Liverman believes that unlike in his freshman year, spirit is no longer forced.

“It is something that has to come organically, Liverman said. “Everyone wearing blue and orange made it feel like the school was one unit.

Administration also cracked down on inappropriate behavior at the Powderpuff game this year, announcing the day before that students were not allowed to leave school grounds, were subject to breathalyzer tests, and were not allowed to use inappropriate substances during the game.

“Last year, some students made some regrettable choices, Blocker said. “We wanted to make sure everything was good.

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Senior commons reopened http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/senior-commons-reopened/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/senior-commons-reopened/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 08:26:25 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3415 Wheeler Housemaster Josepha Blocker reopened the Wheeler commons on December 11 after temporarily closing them for two days due to loud and disruptive behavior.

“I had been talking to seniors for months prior about language, keeping the commons clean, and volume, Blocker said. “Over time it got increasingly worse.

Because Blocker’s office is located in close vicinity to the senior commons, loud background noise hindered her ability to work.

Before closing down the commons, Blocker recalls walking into the room and seeing the contents of wastebaskets dumped on the floor and skittles scattered on the ground. 

The sugar from the skittles had stuck to the ground, and the custodians spent a great deal of effort cleaning the mess up, according to Blocker.

“We couldn’t figure out who had done it, Blocker said. “I just wanted it clean.

After Blocker closed down the commons, a group of seniors led by seniors Che Perry and Ashley Santoes agreed to keep the commons clean and monitor themselves.

“It’s gotten better since, Blocker said. “They’ve done a good job. I appreciate the [seniors'] maturity.

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School Committee replaces 3 members http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/school-committee-replaces-3-members/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/school-committee-replaces-3-members/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 08:40:27 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3171 Three new candidates and all three incumbents won the School Committee elections on November 3. Six of the eight seats, which are open once every two years, were contested during this year’s School Committee election.

Incumbent Claire Sokoloff beat Olivia Matthews 9,112 votes to 6,659 votes in Ward 6; incumbent Reenie Murphy came ahead of Margaret Albright at 8,523 votes to 6,118 votes in Ward 2; incumbent Jonathan Yeo defeated Dan Proskauer 8,590 votes to 6,163 votes in Ward 4. 

Margie Ross Decter beat Tom Mountain 11,964 votes to 4,719 votes in Ward 8; Matt Hills defeated Susan Flicop 8,301 votes to 6,543 votes in Ward 7; and Susan Rosenbaum defeated Steven Siegel 7,487 votes to 6,935 votes in Ward 5.

Ross Decter, Hills, and Rosenbaum will replace outgoing School Committee members Dori Zaleznik, Marc Laredo, and Susan Heyman, respectively. v
Incumbents Geoff Epstein of Ward 1 and Kurt Kusiak of Ward 3 had no opponents and won their seats by default.

The newly elected members chose Sokoloff as Chair and Murphy the new Vice Chair on November 16.
Laredo and Zaleznik’s seats could not run again because they had each served for four terms, the maximum allowed for School Committee members. Heyman had served for eight years, left for two years, and then came back for six years before this election.

According to Murphy, the outgoing members provided the committee with a lot of experience. “They have all worked very hard, Murphy said, “but I have every reason to believe that the new members will work hard [as well].

“There’s mixed feelings, Yeo said. “You lose a lot of experience and dedication and knowledge about how the school system works. The good side is that you’re bringing in new blood, new energy. 

Despite the loss of experienced members, Yeo feels that the three new members’ backgrounds will be valuable to the School Committee. Rosenbaum has a Ph. D. in biology; Hills has a finance background; and, unlike the other members of the committee, Ross Dector has young children in the Newton Public School system. 

“All of those skills are definitely needed and welcomed, Murphy said. 

Under the old School Committee chaired by Marc Laredo, the group completed the Strategic plan, maintained a strong school system in light of budget cuts, and has moved into hiring a new superintendent. 

In the upcoming school year, the committee will focus on hiring a new superintendent. Although a superintendent search committee consisting of teacher, parent, and student representatives will search nationwide for candidates, the School Committee will make the final decision. 

Sokoloff, currently the Vice Chair of the School Committee, believes that because the budget is so tight, the next School Committee members will have to make the most out of their resources. 

“We don’t have the same financial resources, Murphy said. “We have to figure out how to deliver the same amount of service.

The School Committee is also increasing cooperation with local universities, such as Boston University and Northeastern University, in terms of bringing interns and graduate students into the school system.  

According to Yeo, the committee is also examining the possibility of implementing a new food system that would use interns or a private contractor. The food system lost about $1,000,000 last year. 

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Minga Day raises teen awareness http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/minga-day-raises-teen-awareness/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/minga-day-raises-teen-awareness/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 08:37:54 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3191 South’s chapter of Minga, a group dedicated to fighting the global child sex trade, hosted Minga Day on November 12.

Minga is defined as “the coming together of the community as a whole for the greater good, according to senior and Minga member Taryn Valley.

During the blocks of the day, Minga members held presentations to raise awareness about the issue. Characteristics of the child sex trade include child prostitution, child sex tourism, child pornography, and child sex trafficking.

According to the presentation, children from age nine to 14 have the largest risk of becoming part of the sex trade, which exists even in the United States.

“We tend to think this only happens in foreign countries, senior and Minga member Zeba Race said. “That’s not true.

Unlike popular misconception, not all child prostitutes are female; 51 percent of New York child prostitutes, for example, are male.

Studies have shown that about 325,000 children in the United States are trapped in “the life, which is slang for the child sex trade. Other slang words used in the child sex trade include “pimp, a person who sells girls for sex, and “john, a customer of prostitution.

Race believes that teens can bring change more effectively than other age groups.

“We’re trying to talk to as many people as we can, Race said, mentioning Minga’s desire to create a “big response to the global sex trade.

The South branch of Minga meets Monday J-Blocks in Room 2308.

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Dream on: South students’ sleep takes a heavy hit http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/dream-on-south-students%e2%80%99-sleep-takes-a-heavy-hit/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/dream-on-south-students%e2%80%99-sleep-takes-a-heavy-hit/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 06:25:26 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3132 As the clock quickly approaches midnight, senior Naveen Sridhar can hear his parents head to bed. Lying quietly on his bed, he has his parents fooled–they think he’s asleep.
What they don’t realize is that their son is actually awake and working on an AP European History project by nightlight.

Sridhar will work until 2 am, perhaps, and catch a few hours of sleep before he wakes up at 6 am. His sleeping habits do not distress him, however; he has long since gotten used to such a routine.

With “homework, a lot of commitments, and general procrastination, Sridhar averages three to five hours of sleep a night during weekdays of the school year.

“I think it’s worth it, Sridhar said. “Everyone else seems to have the same sleep issues, so it’s not that big of a deal in macrocosmic terms.

Like Sridhar, many students at South suffer from sleep-deprivation.

Unlike students of 30 or even 20 years ago, students of today take heavier courseloads and participate in more extracurricular activities. They have to work harder to get into their schools of choice, which are becoming more selective as applicant pools continue to grow.
Modern students are also spending more time using products of modern technology according to South psychologist Andrew Aspel, and studies have shown that students are staying up until 3 am or later because of texting friends, watching TV, or surfing the Internet.

From his four-year experience working with South students, Aspel says that the average student gets fewer than seven hours of sleep a night, which may affect students’ attentions, memories, moods, production levels, and stress levels.

“[Teenage life] may have been more balanced years ago. The pressure has increased [since then], Aspel said. “What kids are doing to get into colleges may be misperceptive of what they need to do. Kids are looking for whatever edge they need.

Psychology Today recently reported that teenagers naturally require more sleep than both adults and children. Teenagers likewise have a delayed sleeping phase, which causes them to stay up later at night. 

Teens need at least nine hours of sleep per night to avoid sleep-deprivation-associated behaviors such as fatigue, oversleeping on weekends, tendency to take naps, and falling asleep in class, according to adoption.com.

Science Daily also reported earlier this year that sleep-deprivation may also lead to depression and stress, which can lead to problems such as drug and alcohol usage.
History Department Head Marshall Cohen, who has worked at South since 1971, says that more Americans want to go to college today than they did 30 years ago, causing increased levels of competition and less sleep.

“Before, smaller, less well-known colleges were not as selective as they are today, Cohen said. “Now students are more competitive. Applicants are having to work harder.

Cohen, who has taught both Advanced Placement and Curriculum II courses, feels that as a teacher, he does not want his students to be deprived of sleep, but must nevertheless cover the required curriculum.

“It’s about being healthy. [Being sleep-deprived] is not good for you, Cohen said.

In an attempt to fight sleep deprivation, Principal Joel Stembridge wants to look at the choices students are making.

“I want us to make sure we have the educational programs to make sure students know how their body responds to [sleep-deprivation], Stembridge said. “[Fighting sleep-deprivation] is more about time management.

Stembridge notes that the school offers stress-management Wellness courses to help students cope with their lack of sleep.

Although Sridhar feels that an all-encompassing solution does not exist, he believes that starting school at a later time may alleviate sleep-deprivation.

Several high schools across the nation have already pushed back the time school starts to help teens fight sleep deprivation.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota studied 7,000 high school students whose school district switched the time school starts in 1997 from 7:15 am to 8:40 am.

After the time change, students have received more sleep, experienced less fatigue during the day, earned slightly higher grades, and experienced less depression.

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Students fight for nation-wide equality http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/students-fight-for-nation-wide-equality/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/students-fight-for-nation-wide-equality/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 09:45:19 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2878 Five South students left Massachusetts on the evening of October 10, enduring a nine-hour bus ride to Washington D.C. before joining 200,000 people in the National Equality March on October 11. Although labeled “Equality, the march specifically focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) rights.

The approximately three-hour march started at noon as participants marched past the White House and the National Mall before finally arriving at the Capitol Building, where a rally took place for several hours. Rally speakers included recording artist Lady Gaga, actress Cynthia Nixon, and infantry officer Dan Choi.

Student participants included seniors Ben Chesler and Sarah Pincus, juniors Rachel Feynman, and sophomores Karen Shibuya and Ilana Sivachenco. Senior Jacob Liverman and History teachers Robert Parlin and Michael Kozuch joined the five students at the March later that day.

“Marches energize people to get involved in local campaigns, lobby legislature, and donate money to gay rights causes, Parlin said.

Parlin has participated in approximately 20 marches since 1987, the same year he became a South faculty member. He estimates that about 70 percent of marchers were under the age of 30, the most “young people he has ever seen at one march.

According to Parlin, the march intended to energize Americans, draw attention to the lack of action on the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996.

The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military; the Defense of Marriage Act states that no state needs to treat a relationship between homosexuals as a marriage and that the federal government does not recognize marriages between homosexuals.

Chesler and junior and Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) president Rebecca Penzias tried to motivate South students to take part in the march by putting up several posters in hallways.

Chesler first heard about the march in August from former graduate Madeline Burrows and participated in a meeting in late September discussing what community members can do to make a difference for the LGBTQI community.

The meeting was organized by Join the Impact, an organization fighting for full LGBTQI equality through outreach, education, and demonstration.

Chesler believes that many students are supportive of LGBTQI rights but do not have the opportunity to make a difference nationally.

“This will be the civil rights fight of our generation, he said.

Parlin feels the greatest challenge for students wanting to attend was to get permission from parents, who may have had safety concerns.

Pincus thought the march was successful by the sheer number of supporters who fought for LGBTQI rights. Pincus believes that an important aspect of the march was energizing participants to further spread the movement in their own communities.

“The youth got to lead the march, Pincus said. “It’s our generation that is going to make a difference; it’s up to us to decide what the future will look like.

A phone bank will take place during J-Block today where students can help convince voters to vote “No on Maine’s Proposition 1, which may repeal LGBTQI marriage equality.

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South administration cracks down on tardy students http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/south-administration-cracks-down-on-tardy-students/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/south-administration-cracks-down-on-tardy-students/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 05:58:17 +0000 Jesse Zhang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2625 South has adopted a new attendance policy in an attempt to encourage students to arrive to class on time.

An A-Block lateness pilot, stating that lateness to first block classes will only be excused by a note from a doctor or dentist or tardiness of a school bus, will last until the end of the first semester. Lateness later in the day will only be excused by a bona fide note, phone call, or email from a parent.

According to Faculty Council member and English Teacher Robert Jampol, the Faculty Council, a group of 12 teachers led by History Teacher Robert Parlin, met with the Housemasters last year to clarify a proposal to crack down on students who are habitually arriving to school late. The policy met widespread approbation in an all-faculty meeting, and Principal Joel Stembridge adopted it as school policy at the beginning of the 2009-2010 year.

The Faculty Council, which filters issues sent by faculty members, has been receiving several complaints regarding late students. Wheeler Housemaster Josepha Blocker said that Housemasters had investigated the issue at the time but thought it would be unfair to implement a rule in the middle of the school year.

“[The attendance policy] had grown looser and looser [over the years]. More and more students started showing up late for the first block of the day, Jampol said; he has worked at South for 29 years.

Jampol, who teaches both A and B clocks, believes punctuality is better for a student’s education. The policy, he notes, has consequences only for students who show consistent tardiness.

“The policy has been fantastic so far, Jampol said. “Almost none of my first-block students show up late anymore.

Blocker remembers how some students often came in late with an excuse from parents before the policy was in place. She found excuses harder to believe, however, when students came in with Dunkin Donuts.

According to Blocker, students also tended to leave in the middle of the day and parents would call in later to excuse their child. The school’s new policy reinforces the rule that students must check out of their house office before leaving the school.

“Our ultimate goal is that kids are here to take advantage to the educational opportunities here, Blocker said.

Housemaster Henry Turner believes that the policy is working for “frequent offenders, but he is unsure how well it’s working for the school as a whole.

Housemasters have the right to overrule or excuse absences if the student or parent provides a legitimate reason.

School administration has also expressed concern over how students will be affected by the new A-Block tardiness policy.

“We want to make sure [the new SMS system] is actually working before we start putting N’s on people’s transcripts, Stembridge said.

In previous years, students tended to have parents excuse them from classes’€or even school’€to finish homework, study for tests, or catch up on sleep. With the new policy, students who choose to make such calculated decisions will be more heavily penalized, and students who are ill need to provide a doctor’s note to their house offices.

“The N policy is fair because school starts at the same time every day, senior Abby Needleman said. “It makes no sense for someone to be late every single day.

Needleman feels that an occasional tardy due to inconveniences such as traffic is understandable, but in general there is no reason a student should be late to first block all the time.

Some students feel that the inevitable traffic in the morning makes getting to class on time difficult.

“We are expected to stay up late working on homework every night after getting home late from extracurriculars, junior Brooks Remy said. “Then we have to wake up extremely early and wait in traffic because of the terrible layout of the school’s roads.

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