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Denebola » Leigh Alon 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 The Tyranny of Technology http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/the-tyranny-of-technology/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/the-tyranny-of-technology/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 10:05:43 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5118 As I look down at my neurobiology notes about Attention Deficit Disorder medication, it is ironic that my own brain cannot focus on the task at hand.
Every few seconds my computer emits the popping noise with which every teenager is undoubtedly familiar, and a red icon appears alerting me I have received a new Facebook chat.
It should be easy enough to close the computer or ignore the new messages in favor of studying, but somehow the lure of constant communication is simply too hard to overcome.
And there may very well be a scientific basis for how strongly I, along with many other high school students, am drawn so strongly to my technology.
In a recent New York Times spread on the effects of growing up with technology on the minds of kids, Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Michael Rich said teenagers’ “brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing.
This constant switching of tasks, such as one between texting friends and using Facebook, fuel my frustration and addiction with technology.
“The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently, Rich said.
Indeed, I am personally guilty of pathological multitasking. I watch T.V. while doing homework and am often on Facebook, YouTube, or my latest Internet gem stuffwhitepeoplelike.com at the same time.
While I complain of lack of sleep constantly’€I get an average of about five hours a night, deep down I know neither my homework nor the college process.
I cannot count the number of times I have come home to a truly inconsequential bit of homework only to find myself scrambling to complete it at 11 PM and then having to wake up an hour early to finish it.
Even if I tear myself away from technology long enough to begin my homework at a reasonable hour, my meager bit of willpower does not stand a chance against the magnetic pull of Facebook and its myriad of features to distract me every few moments, resulting in roughly the same homework start time of 11 PM.
I am not alone. A student recently described to me how she had taken a day off from school because she had not been able to bring herself to write an essay the night before.
She did not end up beginning her essay until the morning after her day off.
Some determined students have put their lives in the hands of their friends and asked them to change their password until they have completed a crucial assignment or studied for an exam.
Others have even asked their parents to take away some of their technological distractions.
For the vast majority of students who grew up with the quick gratification Silicon Valley has bestowed upon the youth of the twenty first century, technological addiction has always been and remains a struggle.
Time of article completion: 6:23 AM.

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Art Focus: Gabe Goodman http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/art-focus-gabe-goodman/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/art-focus-gabe-goodman/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 09:00:28 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5138 When senior Gabe Goodman was a little boy, he used to bang and scream for his dad to play guitar for him.
At the age of four, his family got him a guitar of his own to “shut [him] up permanently. It worked.
“I do music because I love it. It doesn’t really have any of the dreary connotations that the word ‘Ëœcommitment’ may contain, Goodman said.
From his debut album Conundrummer to his live performances with fellow band-mates – senior Pat Walsh, and 2010 South graduates Will Radin and Cas Kaplan. Goodman’s music has always been a hit in the South community.
This past summer, Goodman wrote a lot of music, although he admits he is “constantly writing and messing around.
He draws his inspiration from a diverse array from artists, including the Dirty Projectors, Flying Lotus, The Pixies, Bon Iver, Kanye West, Grizzly Bear, and Tokyo Police Club, as well as his friends, many of which also create their own music.
At the moment, Goodman is busy starting a new band called Team Time with juniors Aaron Wolff and Aaron Davidoff, along with Radin.
The group will perform many of the songs he wrote the past six months.
Zebradome is the other band Goodman is involved in, with Walsh and senior Zachary Levine-Caleb, as well as Radin. The group is also in its infancy.
While Goodman believes Team Time to be more of a rock band, he describes Zebradome as “a bit more experimental-pop.
As for his future plans, Goodman is attending the University of Vermont next year.
While the quality of the music program did not factor into his college decision, he wanted “to be in a place where there was a lot going on in the music scene, and Burlington, Vermont is definitely a pretty lively music area.
Though Goodman certainly plans to continue playing music for the rest of his life, he admits to the industry’s competitiveness.
“If it becomes a career that’s incredible, he said, “But I’m realistic about it.

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Opposing Viewpoints: The mosque at ground zero is a rightful place of worship http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/opposing-viewpoints-the-mosque-at-ground-zero-is-a-rightful-place-of-worship/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/opposing-viewpoints-the-mosque-at-ground-zero-is-a-rightful-place-of-worship/#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 09:30:42 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4958 On May 6, 2010, a unanimous vote by a New York City community board took place to approve the building of an Islamic community center two and half blocks from ground zero. That same day the New York Post covered the story under the headline “Panel Approves ‘ËœWTC’ Mosque and Pamela Geller, co-creator of the group Stop Islamization of America, titled a blog entry “Monster Mosque Pushes Ahead in Shadow of World Trade Center Islamic Death and Destruction. Nothing about this scenario would be surprising except that today seven out of ten Americans agree with Geller, who recently published a guide to “fighting the Muslim brotherhood. How do seventy percent of the people in a country where from kindergarten we are taught that unlike so many other places in the world all Americans may practice religious freedom, oppose this first amendment right?

We Americans cannot be blamed for being afraid, however. Throughout this controversy we have been bombarded with information that grossly misrepresents the mosque proposal and the intentions of its founders. On December 21, 2009, Laura Ingraham of all people, on Fox News, of all networks, interviewed Daisy Kahn, the wife of the imam of the controversial mosque. Ingraham praised Kahn for her denouncement of radical Muslims, and for the actions her new Islamic center plans to take in promoting peace and understanding. Ingraham even goes as far as to say she “can’t find many people who have a problem with [the mosque]. Indeed, Kahn and her husband Imam Feisal founded an organization advocating combining Islamic observance with the conservation of women’s rights, later renaming the group the American Society for Muslim Advancement. The Imam at one point even advised the FBI, and Kahn joined an advisory panel of the 9/11 memorial and museum. When the couple were looking to build the mosque, the sought advice from the Jewish leaders of a nearby synagogue, who advised them to allow extra space for strollers. When the board voted to approve the Muslim community center they did not imagine that they would stir such a controversy simply because the intentions of Daisy Kahn and Imam Feisal were exactly the opposite of what Geller and her colleagues claim. And yet Geller as well as other conservative groups and the conservative media (including of course Fox News), continue to protest the building of the mosque and inform their viewers of the dangers of Islam.

I am by no means understating the tragedy that occurred on 9/11 or the danger Muslim extremists and their entrenched hate for the West pose for America; it was only by chance that the Times Square bomber and the underwear bomber were both unsuccessful.

However the last people we should silence and alienate are those Muslims who seek to promote moderation and acceptance. There are those on the right who claim that since a church could not be built in Saudi Arabia or Lebanon, the United States should not allow a mosque to be built on the ground where so many lost their lives. However our country is not in a good place if we are using Saudi Arabia as a comparison for the rights we should give our citizens.

It is no secret that America’s image in the Muslim world is already less than favorable. By demonstrating to those Muslims that we do not practice the tolerance we preach, especially towards Muslims specifically, we are undermining our goals abroad and therefore indirectly endangering American citizens. The outcry against the mosque, caused by false information spread by the highly prejudiced, provides fuel for those abroad who preach violence and hate.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard and work together with Muslims who hold the same goals as we do. The media has a duty to dispel misinformation and demonstrate to Americans that the extremists who have gotten all the attention do not represent all Muslims, and demonstrate to Muslims around the world that our country is a place of tolerance.

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Teacher’s off to China http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/teacher%e2%80%99s-off-to-china/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/teacher%e2%80%99s-off-to-china/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 08:03:34 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4825 At the end of January, a familiar face will be missing from the halls of the 9000s. Music department head Benjamin Youngman will be joining six other students and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter Rosemarie Sanborn on a trip to the Jingshan school in Beijing, South’s sister school.
The impetus for Youngman’s journey was a previously planned trip, which fell through when he first came to South. Youngman had arranged to take the Madrigals, South’s chorus of juniors and seniors, to China in 2003. However, due to the SARS epidemic they were ultimately unable to go. “Everything was paid for and set to go. Ever since then I’ve been trying to make up for that. [This trip] will make good on a promise, he said.
Youngman will be teaching English, Music, and Basketball at the school. He will be utilizing the many mornings he has spent playing basketball with fellow teachers.
This is not the first time Youngman has flown across the globe to share his music. Last April he and a select few Madrigals went to India where they toured the country, sang for children, and even had a workshop with a sitar player. Youngman hopes to have similar culturally enriching experiences in Beijing.
Youngman does have some reservations about the language barrier that Chinese presents. Although he took an intensive Chinese course over the summer, Youngman explains that he will needs at least “six years more of Chinese before being ready. Youngman did add, however, that much to his amazement, he will be able to understand some Chinese conversations while in Beijing.
Youngman worries about assimilating to life in Beijing, as he and his family will be living on their own, rather than in a hotel.
Of course, Youngman’s many students will miss him while he is away. Senior Michele Goldstein takes three classes that Youngman teaches: songwriting, chorus, and AP music theory. “I feel as though he’s very involved in my high school experience and as he is leaving for the last four months, it is very disappointing, she said.

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Phi Beta Kappa: Meghna Nandi http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/phi-beta-kappa-meghna-nandi/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/phi-beta-kappa-meghna-nandi/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 12:17:44 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4422 The Phi Beta Kappa Society, founded at The College of William & Mary on December 5, 1776, claims that its mission is to “celebrate and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.

The Phi Beta Kappa award is given annually to one member of every graduating class for excellence in academics.

Each year’s recipient of the award has the highest grade point average in his or her class. This year, senior Meghna Nandi has been granted this prestigious title.

Nandi’s dedication to her schoolwork is apparent through her extremely rigorous course load.

Her core classes include AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP Journalism, AP Physics, and AP Psychology.

In addition to the Phi Beta Kappa award, Nandi has been honored with the Superintendent’s Excellence Award and is also a Goldrick Marshall.

Nandi is known by her teachers and peers for her unique combination of serious study habits and a wonderful sense of humor.

Physics teacher Hema Roychowdhury has both praised Nandi’s study habits and recommended that she consider a future career as a stand-up comedian.

“She’s not satisfied until she gets it, and when she does you can read it on her face, Roychowdhury said.

Roychowdhury went on to describe Nandi as both funny and very honest.

“Honesty: she’s incapable of anything else, Roychowdhury said.

Nandi’s peers view her in very much the same light. “She dedicates a lot of her time [to studying] and she’s willing to spend a lot of time to get something done, senior Allen Li said.

However, in Li’s mind, her extreme diligence is what makes Nandi stand out the most.

“One of her best qualities would just [be] her ability to make someone laugh. She’s open, and she’ll say what’s on her mind, definitely, he said.

Senior Silong Yang appreciates Nandi’s dedication and excellent work ethic, as well as her overall attitude towards her academic achievement.

“She really wants to learn the material for her own, not just for a grade, he said. Nandi aims to be intelligent for her own sake, and has never believed in structuring her life around a college resume.

He added that Nandi has always been very humble about her schoolwork.

This fall Nandi plans on attending Washington University in St. Louis.

It is this unique combination of both talent and perseverance, as well as her humor and humility, that make Nandi an exceptional student and human being.

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Student Obsessions http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/student-obsessions/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/student-obsessions/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 09:20:27 +0000 Brittany Bishop http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4582 In a sea of students, a world of obsessions swirl through the minds of those walking down the halls. Everyone thinks of something different, from a specific boy to their favorite pasttime. Here, we’ll dive into the minds of a few students and their favorite obsessions.

Boy Bands? Can’t Get Enough
By Brittany Bishop

For me, two bands are everything. Despite the embarrassment, I can’t help but immerse myself into these groups, these seven boys, along with their bodyguards, their families, their managers, and their street team leaders, lives. I am obsessed with two bands: The Jonas Brothers and Honor Society; I know everything about them. In the last 365 days, I have gone to a Jonas Brothers concert, two Nick Jonas and the Administration concerts (two nights in a row, along with meeting Nick), five Honor Society concerts, and three rounds of promotion for the bands.

Now, I’m sure most people will turn the page upon the mere mention of these bands, but that’s because they do not understand how they make me feel.

With every concert, every picture, every live chat, and every song, a new piece of appreciation forms. It’s not just their appearance that attracts people, mostly teenage girls, to these boys, but their morals and their actions (even if they do come off slightly forced every once and a while).

Still, it’s truly difficult not to crack a smile when Joe calls a girl during a live chat and pretends to be her principal, or when Andy Lee makes jokes about Mike’s body rolls for a good ten minutes straight. It’s also hard not to feel proud to be a fan when both bands continuously raise money for important funds like diabetes, the Salvation Army, or the Special Olympics.

They use their fame for good and in the best way possible.

Most bands also do not give to the fans like these two do. Most bands don’t have meet and greets, or make funny videos, or have live chats, or go to a friend’s house to make up for leaving early from a house party two years prior. Most bands aren’t so kind.

With every song comes a new depiction into the lives of these seven boys. They speak directly from experience and, being young, allow the fans to grow up with them.

Yes, that sounds a little cheesy, but with every interview and every song, you can learn something new about them.

I also happen to be lucky, already having the chance to meet Honor Society countless times, spending time with them exclusively because of one of my friends. Having met them first hand and being able to joke with them in person changes my outlook on them. Being familiar with them makes me proud to say that they are truly who they make themselves to be: honest, funny, amazing gentleman.

Finally, half of the fun of the bands is the friends you make. Going to concerts, or even talking online, allows fans to make an endless amount of friends, all of who connect and understand each other just because of one or two common interests.

The Jonas Brothers and Honor Society are binding factors for teenage girls, and maybe the rare guy fan.

Madonna: The One and Only
By Justin Quinn

Madonna. It is more than a name. It is an attitude, a way of life. And I have been living it since I was eight years old. It all started at summer camp in music class when we played freeze dance.

The counselor put on Madonna’s then new “Music album, and it all went downhill from there. That year for my birthday, I asked my parents to buy me the album, which I overplayed on my portable CD player for the following months.

While still young, I bought “American Life when it was released a few years later, but my major Madonna-awakening was in 2005, when I discovered the masterpiece that is “Confessions on a Dance Floor.

Fast forward to July 2006, the best day of my life, the first time I saw Madonna live. The Confessions Tour was magical.

From the time I bought my ticket to the night of the show, Madonna was all I talked about (ask anyone who knew me in seventh grade).

I still remember the rush I felt as the giant disco ball descended from the ceiling of the Banknorth Garden, and the video projections of horses were so loud, the floor shook. When the disco ball opened and Madonna emerged, I was lost in a Madonna-induced bliss. I saw Madonna again in 2008 during her Sticky and Sweet Tour, another amazing, unforgettable experience.

I still get goose bumps thinking about the image of the whole arena jumping to “Like a Prayer.

I spent a long time immersing myself in Madonna’s back catalogue to find a world of music spanning from the 1980s to right now. I have since bought all her albums (in multiple editions) and seen all her tour DVDs and movies she has acted in (and I attest that Madonna is in fact a good actress). Currently, I have 492 Madonna songs on my iPod, including studio albums, concerts, remixes, and unreleased tracks.

The thing I discovered about Madonna is that she is more than just the music.

I fell in love with her music, but I have grown to respect and admire the person behind it as well.

Madonna tells us never to go for second best, become better than we are today, and save the world, which are all qualities that she demonstrates herself and inspires other to do. She is a self-determined woman, and I hold a great amount of respect for her.

She knows what she wants and this value is apparent in her music, motivating me as I get pumped for a big day, dig through the last mile of my run, or am in need of inspiration.

This may seem crazy but Madonna, her music, and her message is an integral part of my life.

She is inspirational to fans across the world and although universally accessible, her music is undeniably personal.

I feel lucky to be a fan and, to quote Madonna, “you can love me or leave me, but I’m never going to stop.

Lost in a World of TV
By Gabe Feldstein

It’s 9:00 pm. The screen is black. Boom! All of a sudden, an eye is staring at you.

Whose eye is this? It’s Jack Shepard’s eye. He is covered in blood, his own blood.

He is in a jungle. A woman is screaming. Who is this woman and why is she screaming?

It doesn’t matter because you are experiencing the first few moments of one of the greatest network television shows ever.

You are experiencing the first few moments of Lost.

On September 22, 2004, Oceanic Flight 815 departed from Sydney Australia, headed for Los Angeles.

Oceanic 815 never got there. The plane crashed landed on an island in the middle of the ocean, where a bunch of confused strangers would have to make do with this new fate that some higher power had granted them.

Now, this is not a story with a happy ending. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island, this isn’t Survivor, and nobody is going to get a million bucks after a month.

This is reality. People live, people love, and people die.

Now, what is it about Lost that is so good? Personally, I can’t really describe it, but I can say that since I was admitted into college, I have watched an absurd amount of that show in all my new free time.

I probably watch so much of it for one of two reasons. The first potential reason is that it is genuinely one of the best shows of all time, and to not watch it would be missing out on a part of television history.

The second potential reason is that I am an idiot, susceptible to the juvenile ploys and hooks the show uses to pull me in every time I watch.

Honestly, it is probably the latter. Lost pulls out all the stops: eerie music, seeing dead people, a fat guy; you really can’t help but buy in to such a catchy show.

Everything about the show is done knowing exactly what effect it will have on the viewer, except in the most recent season, which is simply putrid television.

When there is a close-up on John Locke’s face as he stares at what either may be a ghost, monster, or strange combination of both, and then the show suddenly cuts to commercial, the people who make the show know that the viewer is going to be sitting through that commercial break heart pounding with bated breath.

At times, Lost is more than a TV show, it is a way of life. For seniors, getting home after a long day of sleeping through classes and barely paying attention, nothing is better than coming home to an episode of Lost. It’s refreshing; Lost is a source of drama and mystery in the monotony of everyday second semester life.

Wizarding Wonder
By Lily Fein

The premiere of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was a week earlier, and even though I had gone to the midnight showing in full costume, I still wasn’t satisfied. To fulfill my Harry Potter needs, I saw it for a second time, again in full costume.

It’s moments like this that define my obsession with Harry Potter. Since 1997 when the first book was published, Harry Potter has been a major part of my life. At first, I just listened to the audio books in the car with my family on long drives, but soon I would immerse myself even further into Harry Potter’s world.

From Hogwarts to Hogsmeade, Dumbledore to the Dursleys, every essence of the Harry Potter series intrigues me. Rowling’s quirky writing style and complex story line sucks me into a magical world. I can’t count how many times I’ve read the series and every time, it gets better and better.

Maybe I love the stories so much because no matter what is going on in reality, Harry Potter is always there. Maybe it’s because Harry kicks so much butt. Maybe it’s because when I was little, I was desperate to become a witch myself. For whatever reason, I have fallen hopelessly in love with the Harry Potter books.

Dumbledore is like my second dad. The countless morals he passed to Harry, I have also taken to heart. He has taught me that it is the choices I make that define me, to not fear death, and to give everyone a chance to redeem themselves. The lessons he has taught me prove that Harry Potter isn’t just another silly kid’s book.

However, the aspects that make it so youthful and fun for kids to read also entice me. Every book is full of laughs and comic relief that contrasts with the dark magic threatening Harry’s world. Whether it’s Dumbledore exclaiming, “Alas, earwax! or Molly Weasley screaming “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU B****, I know that J. K. Rowling will mix humor perfectly with the increasing intensity of Harry’s world.

My friends think I’m crazy, and I can understand it. They love to laugh at the video on Facebook of me crying about the death of one of the characters. But in the end, it’s so worth it; I wouldn’t trade my obsession with Harry Potter for anything.

After all of these years, I know this isn’t just a phase. Ten years from now, I’m sure I’ll still be dreaming about throwing back butterbeers with Rubeus Hagrid.

No matter how many times I relive Harry’s seven years fighting Voldemort, I want to know more and more.

Even though all of the books have come out, I still embrace every Harry Potter related opportunity I get.

Like just this year, I went to a Harry Potter concert with musicians in the Wizard Rock genre. It was totally dorky, but the love for Harry Potter was immense. In the end, I don’t care how dorky it is.

I’ll love Harry Potter for the rest of my life, and I don’t care what anybody thinks about it.

The Power of Magic
By Leigh Alon

Imagine a world of creatures, sorceries, enchantments, artifacts, spells, and mythical beings. No, not Hogwarts, but rather Magic the Gathering, a card game which has kept some students around South occupied for endless hours.

While the intricacies of the rules are nearly impossible to understand without some experience, the basic idea is that one has a deck of 60 cards, 20-24 of which are mana, or resources. Resources are spent by casting spells upon an opponent until they lose the game. Cards vary greatly in rarity and value, with the most sought after card being the Black Lotus, with a limited print run, originating 15 years ago.

Although this may seem like merely another run-of-the-mill diversion, the competitiveness and environment in which Magic the Gathering is played in is quite unique and offers to its players much more than a temporary alleviation of boredom.

Players attend tournaments where they advance upon continuously winning matches against opponents they are pitted against.

After nine 50-minute rounds, only the top eight players remain, and they play in a final match. Even obtaining cards is an experience, as magic players attend drafts, called Friday Night Magic, in which each player opens a pack of cards, picks one, and passes it on in a circle until all the cards are taken.

There are indeed many around the world who have found this game intriguing, and therefore, some major tournaments have attracted hundreds and even thousands.

Senior Jason Gens attended one such event when he went to a tournament hosted at the Hynes Convention Center, where over 1500 magic enthusiasts from around the world attended, including many professional magic players who have gained much notoriety in the magic community.

Gens also placed 16th out of 259 people when he attended magic nationals. It’s these big tournaments and the interaction with other players that make magic so fulfilling for him.

“Magic is so much fun for me because I get to travel around the country and meet new people. Because Magic is also a strategy game, I work with other people to improve my play and decision making, Gens said.

Junior Jacob Tepper also enjoys being part of the unique combination of people that magic tournaments attract. “You’ll find mainly nerds, but there are kids who are ‘Ëœnormal’ like us. It’s interesting to see all the different types of people, and I would normally never interact with these people, but they play magic and I play so it’s something to converse about, he said.

As fun as it may be, Magic the Gathering does carry a social stigma that many of its most avid fans acknowledge.

“I never bring up that I play magic unless someone asks me. It’s not that I’m a closet magic player or anything like that. Most of my friends already know that I play magic and so it’s not a problem, but it’s just not something I would bring up in conversation, Gens said. 

Tepper is also affected by the stigma as people often pass judgments because of his involvement with magic. He, however, believes Magic the Gathering’s reputation is unjustified.

“Most people are surprised probably because it seems like only nerds play magic and I’m not a “nerd, but that’s not really true. It’s basically the same as playing video games but for some reason not nearly as accepted, he said.

As Magic fans continue to be lured by the game, many will undoubtedly attend an upcoming tournament in Hartford, Connecticut next week. Whether it’s the close knit community or the complicated strategies that keeps magic fans hooked, Tepper sums up the sentiment of many magic addicts with a simple statement: “it’s just a really fun game, that can be absurdly complex, which is probably why I love it.

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Opposing Viewpoints: ParentConnect is a harmful infringement http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/opposing-viewpoints-parentconnect-is-a-harmful-infringement/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/opposing-viewpoints-parentconnect-is-a-harmful-infringement/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 07:12:09 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4574 In an age when the term “helicopter parents was coined, and universities constantly receive essays that were clearly written by frantic parents with English degrees, ParentConnect is yet another system that strips teenagers of independence and responsibility.

As a part of the new student information system, Chancery SMS, that was implemented this year, the ParentConnect feature would alert parents of a child’s major grades, such as on a midyear, missing assignments, and any skips he or she accumulates.

While at first this new opportunity for parents to keep track of their kids may seem insignificant, the precedent and the message it sends is dangerous.

As high school students, we are on the cusp of making one of the most important decisions of our lives and leaving the sheltered life of our parents’ home in Newton.

If we are expected to ever be remotely prepared for this big step we must be able to make our own judgments and bare the responsibility for any mistakes we make.

Our teenage years are a time of transition, a time when we are supposed to make mistakes, and when the consequences of these mistakes are not as severe because we have our parents to fall back on.

If a student decides that skipping a class or not taking the time to do a homework assignment is in his/her best interest, he or she should be able to make that judgment and face the repercussions.

Learning right from wrong from personal experience, rather than being told by an adult, is an important part of growing up.

In addition, in the ultra high stress environment that South can often be, sometimes skipping a class to keep sane and complete some work is not the worst thing in the world.

In fact, if a student is skipping excessively or not handing in a sufficient number of assignments to ensure they are learning the course material, the side affects of these actions will inevitably show up in locations parents do have access to.

These kids will have poorer grades and will receive an N in a class that they do not attend enough.

Therefore, this micromanagement of our lives is unnecessary because as soon as students are seriously hurt by the decisions they are making, the system already in place assures parents are notified.

ParentConnect can only take away a freedom that most students handle responsibly, and has allowed stressed out students to learn how to prioritize their time.

By not handing in every single homework assignment and skipping a select number of classes, many have been able to perform at their best while still maintaining good mental health.

As for those students who continuously do not do their work and don’t attend class, their poor choices are reflected in a number of other places, namely their grades.

As we grow older, and the prospect of leaving home looms closer and closer, we must begin to make some of our own choices, however small they may be.

In college and elsewhere we will not be constantly monitored and without experience in managing our own lives we may find ourselves lost in the very near future.

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Opposing Viewpoints: Winning money for prom was a selfish indulgence http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/con-winning-money-for-prom-was-an-effort-to-make-it-unforgettable/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/con-winning-money-for-prom-was-an-effort-to-make-it-unforgettable/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 06:28:13 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4023 Every senior looks forward to his or her senior prom. Sure, some people may belittle it or put it down as just another contrived school event, but there’s no denying that prom is a fundamental part of senior year and high school.

Recently South seniors competed in a voting contest to win money to support funding for our prom. Students visited a designated website and typed in a passcode, thereby voting to support Newton South. By the end of the assigned time period whichever school received the most votes won the prize money. Guess who won? We did.

We outvoted Danvers High School. We worked hard to beat them. It took hundreds of Facebook messages and prolonged procrastination. We deserved to win, but Danvers deserved to win more.

As students at Newton South High School, few of us have ever been exposed to real economic hardship. Single-mother, welfare, and food stamps are almost unheard of. Keep in mind that I am making vast generalizations. There are, to be sure, some South students who face these issues on a day-to-day basis. The majority, however, myself included, has been sheltered from real economic strife. We groan if we can’t have the car for the week; we kick and scream if we are unable to make a weeklong service trip to Timbuktu; and we’d die if anyone else were to wear the same designer prom dress.
Senior class officers, including Chenzhe Cao who even committed to bleaching his hair to motivate kids to vote, worked extremely hard to get the senior class behind the competition. They were very committed and succeeded in effecting a positive change.

Without a doubt the competition as a whole became and advertised event that ultimately was able to bring the whole school together. Through countless Facebook messages, little post-its by the library computer reminding everyone to vote, and the constant nagging from multiple seniors, the class of 2010 was able to gather the whole school in an intercity competition in order to give Newton South additional funds to buy decorations from prom. We definitely had the right to compete.

According to the census of 2000, the median income for a family in Danvers was $70,565. The median income for a family in Newton, however, was a whopping $104,493. Families in Danvers are in no way impoverished, but relatively, we seem undeserving of extra money. And what about all the other schools that competed for the money? Was it just tough luck for them too?

Personally, I think that it is our responsibility to be helping out these other schools that aren’t as well funded as our own. Of course, free stuff is good, and yes, people are reluctant to compensate for what we can’t earn though freebies like this competition through the form of donations and additional fundraising, but in reality, we have one up on most of the schools we beat out.

Had we not won the competition, no we would not have had an extra $1,000 to splurge on and already exorbitant prom, but we would have had the resources to reimburse what we could have potentially earned from the voting contest. On the contrary, many of the other competing schools do not even have the resources to pay for a prom.

If we really wanted to bring together our school and our community, we would have everyone help out in fundraising for the prom. In reality, we don’t need the $1,000 offered by the competition: other schools do. Sure these competitions are a fun and quick way to earn big money, but it really just isn’t fair to the other schools.

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Defying the norm http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/defying-the-norm/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/defying-the-norm/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 04:24:59 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4065 South’s student body is known for being heavily involved in extracurricular activities, whether it is for a college resume or because of an inherent passion.

Students’ commitment to their interests and the time they spend pursuing them often create social groups that are completely comprised of participants in certain activities.
However, as with just about any social norm, there are those that choose to break the barriers.

The Dyin’ Dawgz, a band which has impressed many after their jaw dropping performance during the Tertulia, is comprised of four members of the math team, a group of kids who few around South would expect to express themselves through music as they have.

They combine the classical elements of junior Hyun Lee’s violin, the melodic voice freshman Elena Byun, as well as the rhythmic elements of junior Tony Wang’s rhythmic, and junior Tomer Reiter’s rapping. Their catchiness of their songs was unexpected by many, especially as their name came about because of one person’s comment they sounded like “dying dogs.
However, Dyin’ Dawgz has allowed its members to expand not only their musical talents. “I was generally a little shy to sing solo lines before, but being in a group with only four or five members means that each person really has to bring out their parts. I was extremely nervous for the Tertulia performance, too, but I think Dyin’ Dawgz have made it easier for me to sing without being so afraid of people judging me, Byun said.

Wang believes that Dyin’ Dawgz’s members’ reputation as being involved in math and science has created for an especially pleased and excited audience. “The fact that we, math team members, could also rap and perform surprised everyone. Tertulia was a great opportunity for us to reach out to the school in this sense, he said.

Junior Jeff Alkins continuously defies the status quo as he participates in both dancing and football. Alkins realized his passion for both activities at a very young age.

He started playing football when he was seven, and joined an all boys dance team at 11. While football is a game, with set rules and guidelines, dance is an art form, and a way of expression, which can be interpreted in many different ways. Alkins appreciates the multifaceted lessons he learns from doing such different activities.

“When I play football I feel validation and accomplishment; when I dance I feel satisfaction and vulnerability. I like doing contrasting activities because it makes me well rounded, gives me a form of understanding, and helps me in real life situations, he said.

Alkins does acknowledge however, that there is a price to spreading oneself too thin. “I was initially afraid about dancing while being a football player. When I would go to football practice late because of dance, instead of saying I was at rehersal I would say I was at practice so they would think I was doing another sport. After a while though, dance taught me self-esteem and confidence and I realized it was cool, and people were more accepting of my dancing than I thought they would be, he said.

At any given time, junior Lily Fein may be found in just about any of the school’s wings, from the artsy 9000′s, to the sweaty locker room of the 4000′s.

She enjoys drawing and pottery, and even has her own jewelry company called Lilypad.
She has expanded on her artistic talents by taking many art classes at South.

Fein is also notorious for her obsession with all things Harry Potter and magic related, and is appropriately an avid member of the Harry Potter club.

On top of these, Fein has played softball for many years and physical activity has become an integral and essential part of her life.

“I like having interests in different areas because it keeps me busy and I could never just choose one, she said.

South is a diverse community, filled with students with varying interests and talents.

But all too often this diversity has led to sharp divisions between the different departments.
Students like these, who reach across lines few care to cross, tie the student body together and benefit from all that the school has to offer.

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What are colleges looking for? http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/what-are-colleges-looking-for/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/what-are-colleges-looking-for/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:39:39 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3633 Newton South students are notorious for their skewed view of college, often resulting in long sleepless nights spent completing piles of homework. What these high-strung insomniacs may be surprised to hear, is that the “straight A student they are giving up so much to be, isn’t necessarily what colleges are looking for.

College and career counselor Barbara Brown emphasizes the importance of individuals maintaining their mental state and leaving free time. Indeed, balance is the key, as it is with so many other aspects of life.

“Staying balanced is the most important thing. Colleges look at what else students have in their lives and the rest of their activities [¦] it’s about making time for something that makes you feel good. In the end most kids just do what they like doing, Brown said.

As a self-described competitive and active person, junior David Melly chooses to do sports, which actually helps him get through the school year. “If I didn’t have sports in addition to academics I would feel like there was something missing. In a weird way having less time for homework forces me to make better use of my limited time, Melly said.

Junior Rina Friedberg also chooses her extra curricular activities based on interest, rather than what may look good on a college transcript. “I do extra curricular activities because I like them. I have been into theater since third grade. I would rather be involved and do activities I like rather than sit at home with too much free time on my hands, Freidberg said.

In addition to balancing time, the college admission process also involves balancing checkbooks. According to Brown, while an expensive community service trip to Costa Rica may help one grow as a person, it is not something to be used to pad up a resume.

“It’s helpful for colleges to see you are productive, but if you prefer to spend your summer at a beach house that’s fine too, Brown said.

Junior Jaclyn Horowitz, is in the process of planning a trip to Fiji, however; it is for thrill of the trip, not to have colleges notice  her.

Another financial dilemma anxious parents of college bound kids face are the various SAT/ACT prep options available, some personalized programs costing upwards of $3,000. “There is no proof that expensive courses raise SAT scores more than low cost options such as Newton Community Ed, the College Board online course, or even a book. You can spend thousands and not do the work and see no results, Brown said.

Junior Sarah Geist took a course at the Princeton Review, and found that the individualized attention she received in the classroom was sufficient for her needs. However, the course did equip her with skills she may not have developed on her own. “It taught me test-taking skills and ways to do as many questions as possible in the given time, Geist said.

Junior Max Ezekiel, on the other hand, finds that reviewing on his own is a more efficient use of his time. “[The prep classes] are over-expensive and time-consuming and boring if you don’t have a close friend taking it with you, Ezekiel said.

One of the most challenging balancing acts of the college process is the degree to which parents should be involved.

“There is a role for parents. In some families, however, there is so much friction that parents and kids can’t work together. But in the end parents are paying the bills. It’s again about finding the right balance. Kids have to realize that it is hard for parents to think of their family changing, Brown said.

Senior Samantha Mankin’s parents allowed her to be largely independent. “After holding my brother’s hand throughout the college process they decided to let go when it came to me, Mankin said. In the end Mankin did get accepted to one of her first choice colleges and appreciated the experience of accomplishing it on her own.

Senior Arthur Mescon’s parents also remained largely uninvolved. “I’m glad they were just there to support my decisions, and considering I ended up getting into one of my top choices it worked out well, Mescon said.

Walking down the hallway of Newton South one can find kids carrying an infinitely high pile of textbooks and lugging an impossibly heavy backpack, while others can’t recall the last time they unzipped their largely empty bag. However, the key to getting into a school that is the right match is all about finding the perfect balance.

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