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Denebola » Rutul Patel 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 School spirit suddenly surfaces http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/south-alum-orgnaizes-japan-benefit-concerts/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/south-alum-orgnaizes-japan-benefit-concerts/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 07:55:45 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5742 On Wednesday, April 13, South pride was not just evident, but it was palpable. The students donned more than just the mundane jeans and t-shirts; they sported the Lions’ blue and orange.
It’s not that Denebola particularly likes the stereotypic perceptions of society about American high schools. It finds there is a lack of school spirit that shouldn’t exist.
Newton South has only one pep rally a year, and a shame the majority of the South students cannot unite under one cause for one hour.
Are mainstream athletics not engaging? Yet a high per centage of South students are involved in sports, at all levels, and the theater and arts productions are lively.
Is the auditorium too small to house a significant audience? but that was never its intent, and its purpose is well served in that there are so many events held in it, lecture hall and black box, that each student could acquire a ticket to at least one.
Are South students so overwhelmed by pressure-cooker Newton? Or is it that students don’t care anymore?
Football games are played to half-filled stands, and students don’t even realize that there is an enthusiastic Girls’ Hockey team.
Why does it take a remarkably concentrated display of talent – that conveniently gets students out of classes for the day – to arouse appreciation for Newton South’s overflowing well of genius on stage, at a desk, or on the court or playing fields?
This Wednesday, the school bubbled with unmatched flair and enthusiasm. The convergence of the kickoff of spring sports, the performance of Tertulia, and the quick approach of spring break were required to arouse the student body to open its eyes and realize the spectacular feats accomplished daily.
Smiles were pervasive, optimism apparent. Students were loud, active, involved – they enjoyed the day, whether it was because they spent time watching classmates sing, dance, and accomplish remarkable feats, or because they were enjoying all this with friends.
It has always been the mission of any high school newspaper, including Denebola, to offer a source in which all elements of student life are found.
With Advanced Placement tests, college admissions exams, and finals still looming large, the “window of opportunity” in which students can enjoy the high school experience within the walls of South wanes rapidly.

On Wednesday, April 13, South pride was not just evident, but it was palpable. The students donned more than just the mundane jeans and t-shirts; they sported the Lions’ blue and orange.It’s not that Denebola particularly likes the stereotypic perceptions of society about American high schools. It finds there is a lack of school spirit that shouldn’t exist.Newton South has only one pep rally a year, and a shame the majority of the South students cannot unite under one cause for one hour.Are mainstream athletics not engaging? Yet a high per centage of South students are involved in sports, at all levels, and the theater and arts productions are lively.Is the auditorium too small to house a significant audience? but that was never its intent, and its purpose is well served in that there are so many events held in it, lecture hall and black box, that each student could acquire a ticket to at least one.Are South students so overwhelmed by pressure-cooker Newton? Or is it that students don’t care anymore?Football games are played to half-filled stands, and students don’t even realize that there is an enthusiastic Girls’ Hockey team.Why does it take a remarkably concentrated display of talent – that conveniently gets students out of classes for the day – to arouse appreciation for Newton South’s overflowing well of genius on stage, at a desk, or on the court or playing fields?This Wednesday, the school bubbled with unmatched flair and enthusiasm. The convergence of the kickoff of spring sports, the performance of Tertulia, and the quick approach of spring break were required to arouse the student body to open its eyes and realize the spectacular feats accomplished daily.Smiles were pervasive, optimism apparent. Students were loud, active, involved – they enjoyed the day, whether it was because they spent time watching classmates sing, dance, and accomplish remarkable feats, or because they were enjoying all this with friends. It has always been the mission of any high school newspaper, including Denebola, to offer a source in which all elements of student life are found.With Advanced Placement tests, college admissions exams, and finals still looming large, the “window of opportunity” in which students can enjoy the high school experience within the walls of South wanes rapidly.

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South alum organizes Japan benefit concerts http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/school-spirit-suddenly-surfaces/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/school-spirit-suddenly-surfaces/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 07:50:08 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5774

Yoko Fukumura

On Friday, March 11, 2011, the great Eastern Japan Earthquake hit Japan. A tsunami that followed caused untold destruction and misery leaving homes and families torn apart. Even now the recovery effort is still in its infancy.
Along with the American Red Cross, charities and celebrities are raising money for the relief effort. On a much smaller scale, Newton South High School alum Taichi Fukumura (Class of 2010) has organized seven benefit concerts, the proceeds of which will go solely to helping the Japanese people.
An undergrad at Boston University studying violin, and a conductor of the Boston Accompanietta Orchestra, Taichi Fukumura saw no better way to help ease the suffering than to use his gift of music.
“When I was watching the videos on the news I decided that we, that everyone, need to do something to help,” Fukumura said. “Fortunately all my family was ok, but I do know some people whose relatives didn’t make it.”
Taichi, along with several other musicians and orchestra groups, used their collective background in classical music to help the people of Japan. He also enlisted the help of his younger sister and junior at South, Yoko Fukumura, and his friend and senior at South, Daniel Zhang.
Yoko Fukumura, a pianist since a young age, did a benefit concert a few years ago for an earthquake in China. “I am Japanese myself, so I feel more connected. And since my brother is organizing it, [that] further deepens my connection with this cause. I am not directly affected, but I hear stories from other people about their families and the conditions and I get scared,” Yoko said.
Zhang, a senior at South is the conductor of an orchestra group called the Boston Acompanietta and plays the violin “masterfully”.

Daniel Zhang

Taichi and Zhang created the orchestra in 2008 after the former head of the Music Department, Dr. Rossini, retired. Zhang is also in South’s official student orchestra called the Newton South Sinfonietta (NSS).
The Acompanietta is completely student run and directed, and does not play at the official school orchestra’s programs. Usually, the NSS plays a few times a day, despite having to perform in contests and shows. On the week of April 25, it will perform Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals as well as the three concerto competition winners’ pieces.
Zhang has realized the difficulties of maintaining the NSS and conducting for the Acompanietta, but during the benefit concerts he will not be conducting, but rather performing while Taichi conducts.

“[The concerts] are a wonderful cause,” Zhang said. “I think it’s really brave that a lot of different groups are willing to perform for this cause.
Six days after the earthquake struck, Taichi began planning the concerts. Originally planning to have only a couple concerts with some solo performance, Taichi’s plans reached newer heights when he got in touch with other musicians.

Taichi Fukumura

“The organization was mostly my own. I got into contact with many administrative people in BU for help. Most of the people that I found were music major students studying to become professional performers,” Taichi said.
From then on his passion project picked up speed as he began turning his small time charity event into seven full-fledged benefit concerts. Out of the seven concerts, three are held in BU, three in the Eliot Church in Newton, and one at the New England Conservatory (NEC), a concert hall in Boston.
The concerts in Newton are on Saturday, April 16 at 8 PM. and Saturday, April 30 at 5 PM. and 8 PM.
Taichi has a policy of not performing in concerts that he organizes.
“[I usually don’t like to play] when I run the concerts. There is too much managing to do and performing would take a toll on me, both physically and in terms of the quality of performance. It wouldn’t keep me in the right mindset,” Taichi said.
He, however, chose to go against his principle of not performing and managing because this charity is close to his heart and will be conducting the last concert in Newton.
All three concerts are free of charge and funding for this charity is strictly on a donations basis.
“Any donations for Japan at the events will be greatly appreciated,” Taichi said.

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Opposing Viewpoints http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/opposing-viewpoints/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/opposing-viewpoints/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:56:24 +0000 Ilana Sivachenko http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5777 The new ice cream in the cafeteria is…

Pro

…delicious and necessary.

Usually I order sushi or go out during my free lunch block; occasionally I bring a sandwich from home, but last Wednesday was different…
As I walked toward the cafeteria, I saw a freshman holding a delicious, ice cream cone.
My mind was reeling from the shock. How could a 15 year-old be holding an ice cream cone in the hallway? Did his mother drop it off? Where did this mysterious and delectable snack come from?
I decided to put my top-notch investigative skills to work, but first I wanted to grab something for lunch. As I walked through the cafeteria door, I found myself surrounded by ice cream cones, and for once, I wasn’t hallucinating.
People were really holding ice cream cones!
I consider myself an epicurean, a go hard or go home fan of fine food so my journey to find a cold ice cream cone quickly turned into a contact sport.
I pushed my way through a horde of underclassmen to find the hub of the entire operation, a cooler filled to the brim with tasty frozen snacks.
After purchasing an ice cream cone, I was met with a number of disapproving stares.
Some people may say that ice cream is bad for your teeth, or that it is bad for your health. In fact, a food that contains milk as opposed to excess sugar, like Sour Patch Kids, is preferable any day of the week. In addition to this, there is also a positive psychological aspect: people love ice cream!
In fact, the average American eats 23.2 quarts of ice cream and other frozen dairy products each year. Scientists working with ice cream don’t try to remove the sugar or the calorie count, instead, they merely try to add nutritional value.
Ice cream is far from unhealthy, in fact a bowl of ice cream has less calories than your favorite soda, compare 200 calories per serving to ice cream’s mere 40.
To all the haters that nay-say sorbet, ice cream is healthier than many of the other products in our cafeteria.
The majority of ice cream on the market is made from natural sugar and milk, but it’s also important to remember that 60% of an ice cream cone is still water.
Every food, from meat to spinach, can have an undesired effect on your body.
Adding ice cream to the menu is certainly not the most damaging decision Newton South High School will ever make, and if it brightens the days of our students, I’d say it’s worth a few extra calories.
Complaining about ice cream when there are so many scholastic and social issues that need to be solved is both counterproductive and silly.
Ice cream cones are delicious, cold, refreshing, creamy and crunchy, and most importantly, sweet, and if there is one thing a Newton South student needs on a daily basis it is a healthy mixture of sugar and caffeine.

sually I order sushi or go out during my free lunch block; occasionally I bring a sandwich from home, but last Wednesday was different…As I walked toward the cafeteria, I saw a freshman holding a delicious, ice cream cone.My mind was reeling from the shock. How could a 15 year-old be holding an ice cream cone in the hallway? Did his mother drop it off? Where did this mysterious and delectable snack come from?I decided to put my top-notch investigative skills to work, but first I wanted to grab something for lunch. As I walked through the cafeteria door, I found myself surrounded by ice cream cones, and for once, I wasn’t hallucinating. People were really holding ice cream cones!I consider myself an epicurean, a go hard or go home fan of fine food so my journey to find a cold ice cream cone quickly turned into a contact sport. I pushed my way through a horde of underclassmen to find the hub of the entire operation, a cooler filled to the brim with tasty frozen snacks.After purchasing an ice cream cone, I was met with a number of disapproving stares. Some people may say that ice cream is bad for your teeth, or that it is bad for your health. In fact, a food that contains milk as opposed to excess sugar, like Sour Patch Kids, is preferable any day of the week. In addition to this, there is also a positive psychological aspect: people love ice cream! In fact, the average American eats 23.2 quarts of ice cream and other frozen dairy products each year. Scientists working with ice cream don’t try to remove the sugar or the calorie count, instead, they merely try to add nutritional value.Ice cream is far from unhealthy, in fact a bowl of ice cream has less calories than your favorite soda, compare 200 calories per serving to ice cream’s mere 40. To all the haters that nay-say sorbet, ice cream is healthier than many of the other products in our cafeteria. The majority of ice cream on the market is made from natural sugar and milk, but it’s also important to remember that 60% of an ice cream cone is still water.Every food, from meat to spinach, can have an undesired effect on your body. Adding ice cream to the menu is certainly not the most damaging decision Newton South High School will ever make, and if it brightens the days of our students, I’d say it’s worth a few extra calories.Complaining about ice cream when there are so many scholastic and social issues that need to be solved is both counterproductive and silly. Ice cream cones are delicious, cold, refreshing, creamy and crunchy, and most importantly, sweet, and if there is one thing a Newton South student needs on a daily basis it is a healthy mixture of sugar and caffeine.\

Con

…unhealthy and excessive.

I scream. You scream. We all scream for…

Ice cream. Duh. Reading that pro over there, you probably have your wallet out ready to buy some delicious Choc-Tacos or frozen Twix bars.

But wait! Something is amiss in this picture. Imagine yourself walking into the cafeteria. All you see are posters asking you if you got milk, (we’re not cows; we don’t carry milk on us) and telling you to live healthy. So why would a cafeteria that is so fond of promoting healthy eating sell ice cream?

Maybe it’s because they realized that most of the good food is gone by the time the majority of the students go to get their lunch.

Or maybe out of the goodness of their hearts they wanted to give us some delicious goodies to eat for dessert after we have our lunch. (A pretty pricy desert might I add. Someone should mention that $2.00 for a Klondike Bar is pushing it.  But then again some people may do that for a Klondike Bar.) Or it could be that the cafeteria wants to make more money.

You have to know your demographic. If you were in a retirement home, prune juice would be the way to go. If you were selling stuff in New Jersey, then you’d need a truck filled with hair gel and spray tan. As the kids in the entrepreneurship class would say, its basic business.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with making money—capitalism all the way, otherwise the commies win. But the problem with selling ice cream in school is that you’re selling ice cream in school. What happened to healthy living?

Ice cream gets 48% of its calories from fat. And even the low fat alternative has 25% calories from fat. Giving kids that have a wallet filled with cash a virtually endless supply of ice cream is like giving Charlie Sheen the keys to Colombia’s cocaine factories.

As many of you know Charlie appreciates it, but it’s just not good for him.

There’s a reason that America is leading the world in childhood obesity. We refuse to moderate our needs.

If you eat one bar of ice cream every week, then you’d be all right. You would relish the treat while you have it, and you’d eventually work it off.

But if you had a virtually endless supply of ice cream, then guess who would gain 40 pounds and start taking the elevator instead of the stairs?

All I’m saying is that the cafeteria is hypocritical for have a slushie machine and a giant tub filled with ice cream surrounded by health posters.

If you wanted to keep kids healthy then ice cream wasn’t the best way to go. Also, the greasy food might not be the most clever way to promote good health, either. But that’s a rant for another time.

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South teen Camille Brugnara breaks free from depression http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/south-teen-camille-brugnara-breaks-free-from-depression/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/south-teen-camille-brugnara-breaks-free-from-depression/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:38:07 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5744 With the help of the Guidance Department head Shelly Borg and Goldrick Housemaster Henry Turner, South teen Camille Brugnara screened the film Breaking Free From Depression on April 5 2011 as a part of the Just Think Teens Making Smart Choices Expo.
Starting on April 4, the Expo was a week long fair held in various locations around Newton. The Expo’s highlights included seminars on students making healthy lifestyles and serious concerns such as depression.
“The [screening] was something that Camille wanted. She felt it important for the community to have access to this,” Borg said. “We know that people always have concerns about depression and this was a good way to reach them.”
After working with Doctor Naja Reily, the producer of the film, on spreading word about depression and conqueroring it, Brugnara asked to be in the film herself. She was then put into the movie.
“It felt good to [be in the film], because I felt like I could potentially make a difference in peoples lives who are suffering from mental illnesses,” Brugnara said.
85 people showed up for the film including members of the South community and faculty from other schools.
After the showing of the film, Camille and her mother gave a presentation on depression, Camille’s struggle through it, and facts and statistics. Doctors Andrew Aspel, Steven Litwack, and Naja Reily were present at the screening to give medical insight on the disease.
Breaking Free from

With the help of the Guidance Department head Shelly Borg and Goldrick Housemaster Henry Turner, South teen Camille Brugnara screened the film Breaking Free From Depression on April 5 2011 as a part of the Just Think Teens Making Smart Choices Expo.Starting on April 4, the Expo was a week long fair held in various locations around Newton. The Expo’s highlights included seminars on students making healthy lifestyles and serious concerns such as depression. “The [screening] was something that Camille wanted. She felt it important for the community to have access to this,” Borg said. “We know that people always have concerns about depression and this was a good way to reach them.”After working with Doctor Naja Reily, the producer of the film, on spreading word about depression and conqueroring it, Brugnara asked to be in the film herself. She was then put into the movie. “It felt good to [be in the film], because I felt like I could potentially make a difference in peoples lives who are suffering from mental illnesses,” Brugnara said. 85 people showed up for the film including members of the South community and faculty from other schools.After the showing of the film, Camille and her mother gave a presentation on depression, Camille’s struggle through it, and facts and statistics. Doctors Andrew Aspel, Steven Litwack, and Naja Reily were present at the screening to give medical insight on the disease. Breaking Free fromDepression followed teens and young adults from all different walks of life that had one indelible fact in common; they were all diagnosed with clinical depression.

Statistics show that 154 million people suffer from clinical depression, one in five teens in the US suffers through depression at least once and 80% of those kids go through this disease without being diagnosed or medically helped.

New England Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light hosted the movie. Light ushered the audience through the stories and personal accounts of teens that were dealing with depression.

“If you have an actual physical illness that people can see then they look at it differently as opposed to a mental one. It’s like I’m just sad. It’s a lot more than that,” explained Caroline Hanly, an 18-year old in the film.

Among the various teens interviewed in the film was Brugnara. Her parents saw the first signs of depression through her anger at a very young age.

“My parents noticed that I was a very angry two year old,” Brugnara said in the film.

The film then followed the signs and symptoms of depression which range from; lack of sleep, loss of appetite, withdrawal from the public, impulsive anger, mood swings.

“It felt like no matter what I did, none of my emotions would release,” Jachobie Cosom, another teen from the film, said.

The film then took a much darker turn as it examined the thoughts of suicide that most people going through depression go through.

“You feel like you’re on a cliff. You feel like you’re on a cliff and you’re ready to jump and you know no one is going to stop you,” Cosom said.

“You just want to get rid of everything that you’re feeling. And just be done with everything. You never look at the positive things,” Hanly said.

“I tried to kill myself and that’s the realest it ever got with depression and me. And then I vowed to someone I love a lot that I would never try it again,” Igor Frieire, a teen interviewed in the film, said.

“Learning from yesterday, living for today, and loving tomorrow,” is how Cosom describes his view on life after his stint with depression.

Burgnara also has had her moments of triumph over her depression. She explains in the film that after being with depression she took up the hobby of glass blowing, a form of art in which the artist morphs hot glass into what their imagination wills it to be.

“In life sometimes we try and focus on everyone else and pleasing everyone else, when sometimes we have to take time for ourselves and treat ourselves with love, kindness, and respect. A key aspect [of overcoming depression] was the importance of art and sports. Having an outlet for emotions,” Brugnara said.

Borg counted this screening as a great success and “wonderful” use of the expo. “It takes a lot of courage to talk about something you’ve suffered through,” Borg said. “It was a gift for us to hear about and for her to talk about.”

“My goal with doing and screening the movie was to let people know that you can overcome depression. And ultimately I hope that if I can help one person then they’ll help another and so on. Baby steps,” Brugnara said.

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Garber wins Nationals http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/garber-wins-nationals/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/garber-wins-nationals/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 06:40:43 +0000 Robert Wang http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5617

Ron Garber performing with partner Ashley Golman at an NDCA ballroom dancing event.

Senior Ron Garber and his partner, Ashley Golman, both 17 years old, have recently placed first in the National Dance Competition Association’s (NDCA) National Championship in Provo, Utah. Participating in one of the most prestigious ballroom dancing events in the country, Garber and Golman competed against forty other couples in their under-eighteen category.

After dancing for nine years and training with his partner for four, Garber finally began to see his work pay off, “I felt accomplished. Finally all my work paid off. For the last year we were always so close to being first. We were always second or third but never first,” he said.
Before dancing with Garber, Golman was exclusively doing ballet. When she did, however, transition to ballroom, Garber noted that “she wasn’t that advance, but picked it up really fast.”
Along with their coach Jean-Philippe Milot, a Canadian professional ballroom dancer, Garber and Golman did intense training to prepare for the event. Contending in Utah would have its physical difficulties. The higher elevation in Provo would result in difficulty in breathing.
In the NDCA championship, Garber and Golman danced in an elimination style. After each of the four rounds, couples were eliminated till only six were remaining. Those six  then danced once more for a chance to be crowned champion.
In their first dance, Golman slipped during the routine. “She was really nervous and wiped out.” Garber recalled. “But after that we calmed down and got better.” The two dancers got a boost of confidence with each subsequent round and performed increasingly better.
The NDCA used the Brigham Young University court for the competition. “The audiences were on the bleachers that went [sky high]. You count pick out anyone. Nonetheless, everyone was cheering and really excited. It motivated you to do better because not all competitions are that big,” Garber said.
While the usual and known competitors were present and performing at BYU, a lot of the couples dancing were from the West coast. “It was a different

Senior Ron Garber and his partner, Ashley Golman, both 17 years old, have recently placed first in the National Dance Competition Association’s (NDCA) National Championship in Provo, Utah. Participating in one of the most prestigious ballroom dancing events in the country, Garber and Golman competed against forty other couples in their under-eighteen category.After dancing for nine years and training with his partner for four, Garber finally began to see his work pay off, “I felt accomplished. Finally all my work paid off. For the last year we were always so close to being first. We were always second or third but never first,” he said. Before dancing with Garber, Golman was exclusively doing ballet. When she did, however, transition to ballroom, Garber noted that “she wasn’t that advance, but picked it up really fast.” Along with their coach Jean-Philippe Milot, a Canadian professional ballroom dancer, Garber and Golman did intense training to prepare for the event. Contending in Utah would have its physical difficulties. The higher elevation in Provo would result in difficulty in breathing. In the NDCA championship, Garber and Golman danced in an elimination style. After each of the four rounds, couples were eliminated till only six were remaining. Those six  then danced once more for a chance to be crowned champion.In their first dance, Golman slipped during the routine. “She was really nervous and wiped out.” Garber recalled. “But after that we calmed down and got better.” The two dancers got a boost of confidence with each subsequent round and performed increasingly better. The NDCA used the Brigham Young University court for the competition. “The audiences were on the bleachers that went [sky high]. You count pick out anyone. Nonetheless, everyone was cheering and really excited. It motivated you to do better because not all competitions are that big,” Garber said. While the usual and known competitors were present and performing at BYU, a lot of the couples dancing were from the West coast. “It was a differentexperience competing against the West Coast. They were all unknown and had their own [flare],” Garber said. “But our biggest accomplishment [that night] I think was defeating our long-time rival from New York.”

Phil Kudryavtsev, another South student who attended the NDCA competition and placed fourth overall, said, “[Garber and Golman] presented themselves well and they danced well as a couple. They give great motivation for others to perform better.”

Alair Nahebedian, another ballroom dancer from South, reciprocates Kudryavtsev’s sentiment, “I’m really happy for Garber. He’s an amazing dancer and worked really hard to get what he achieved.”

Garber and Golman danced in the youth category and after placing first with the youth, participated in the under 21 category. They placed second in the under 21 category. “I am even more proud of placing in the under 21 category. Its incredible that that happened,” Garber noted.

Next year, both dancers will be eighteen years old, and therefore they must compete in the amateur (older than 18) category of competitions. Naturally, the competition level for the amateur category is higher than the youth category.

Garber’s ultimate goal is to be an internationally ranked dancer. To stride towards his goal, Garber and Golman will be competing in another national competition in a couple months. If they place first or second in that, then the couple will be invited to the Czech Republic to compete in a global event. This would make Garber one of the youngest at that competition and one step closer to his dream.

Both of dancers also plan on attending the Black Pool International Dance Festival in May. Hundreds of couples will be attending the competition, and this is the first major competition Golman and Garber will attend together in the amateur category.

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“Cuts” http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/%e2%80%9ccuts%e2%80%9d/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/%e2%80%9ccuts%e2%80%9d/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 04:01:55 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5619 “The school budget is famously opaque,” former history department chair Marshall Cohen said.
March 14 marked a pivotal day for the Newton Public Schools (NPS) and their Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12). On that day, Superintendent David Fleishman presented his $171.6 million dollar budget for FY12 and gave to the NPS a budget that, if passed by the School Committee, would include cuts in the Arts, World Language, and Special Education programs, in addition to cutting 30 teaching positions district-wide.
“We may loose our jobs. But it’s the students that are losing out,” art teacher Jeff Wixon said.
Amongst the cuts and confusion is a new “user fee” policy. These new fees are projected to produce $1 million to aid in the budget gap. Upon approval, the user fee would charge students for an activities fee, and increase existing fees for transportation and building use. The current proposed student activities fee is $125.
Increase in fees include: a $200 fee per year for 5th grade music, a new $200 fee for all city bands, choruses and orchestras, a rise from $120 to $160 per sport per season with a $480 cap in athletic fees, a $60 fee for middle school non-athletic activities, an increase in the fee to participate in high school football from $210 to $400, and a new $150 fee to participate in high school plays with a four-play $450 cap per year.
“We recognize the risks in introducing and increasing fees but we believe there is greater risk in curtailing the existing opportunities for our students,” Fleishman said.
Much of the administration agrees with Fleishman’s user fee idea. “They make me uncomfortable but it is hard to disagree with them if the alternative is teacher cuts for lack of funds,” fine and performing arts department head Jeff Knoedler said.
“Fee increases wont be popular, but personally I think that in these tough financial time everybody needs to make sacrifices,” Newton Teachers Association President Mike Zilles said.
“It was somewhat of a painful choice made by the superintendent,” Mayor Setti Warren said. “We have declining revenue and state aide. Newton has to make tough choices and we have to attempt to prioritize and protect the classrooms.”
Before the budget was proposed, Fleishman and Warren spoke to parents and residents of Newton about the possible scenarios. “At a number of our Town Hall discussions we heard that the community would rather have us protect what goes on in the classroom and to keep class sizes as low as possible. They would notmind increasing fees in some areas,” Warren said.
Special Education Chair Ann Walker said, “We will restructure and reschedule, we will still provide the necessary services but in different ways.”
Walker acknowledged that Newton’s reputation for these services went beyond Newton and even Massachusetts. “I just received a phone call from California [about our programs],” Walker said.
Besides increasing fees and removing funds, a major detrimental cut was made to the Arts. The budget specified cuts at the middle school and elementary level in music, band, and art itself. Cuts included: no more elementary school recorder program, no more funding of Art in the elementary schools, and no more middle school Latin.
Cuts to programs include: eliminating Latin in middle schools, eliminating drama for 7 and 8 grades, eliminating the grade 3 recorder program, eliminating grade 4 chorus, and reducing art class time from 60 to 45 minutes.
Zilles sees the cuts as attacks on the arts and foreign language programs as a disconcerting phenomenon. “I think its sad that again we’re going at Arts programs. They are so valuable to our schools. When there’s a cut, we go around the edges. No one wants to increase class sizes. I feels like there’s an undervaluing of the Arts,” he said.
“I have some serious concerns about the quality of education we’re giving South students. If Arts are cut it tells them that having a place to be creative, to take risks, to generate ideas is not as important as say math or history. Its not a wholistic education experience,” Arts teacher Karen Sobin-Jonah said.
Zilles noticed an observable trend in the cuts. Over the last 10 years there have been slow and steady cuts in the NPS budget. Eventually the weight of the cuts piles on to the teachers that have to cover for the positions and programs that were lost.
Other teachers have also noticed this and agree with the faulty policies implemented, “You cannot expect to have a top-notch school system and at the same time chronically undertax. These so-called crises are therefore entirely predictable,” History teacher Brian Muarry said.
“I’ve been to all 22 schools [in our district], and parents, teachers, faculty and students all say we have a great school. It’s great because everyone is working hard. And next year they’ll have to work harder.
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Title IX opens sports http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/title-ix-opens-sports/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/title-ix-opens-sports/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 08:27:13 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5522 By Rutul Patel, Volume 50
February 15, 2011

Walking towards the Field House today, one sees banners and trophies proudly decorating the walls. Some of the awards, won by the boys’ teams, have been around since the school first started; however, many other awards, those won by the girls’ teams, are relatively new.
Out of the 19 sports presently offered to girls at South, only three were originally played and accepted as varsity sports.
“It started out with basketball, tennis, and field hockey. These were the only sports available to girls in the 1960s,” former girls’ coach Judy Kennedy said.
Kennedy led various girls’ teams for almost 40 years at South before she retired in 2005. Beyond the three sports mentioned above, many other athletic opportunities were not presented to girls.
Sports like girls’ gymnastics and volleyball that weren’t considered varsity sports, but more like clubs or after school activities.
It wasn’t until June 23, 1972 that gender equality was brought to the public school system. On that day, the United States Congress passed Title IX.
This amendment to the US education policy stated that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
After this amendment, drastic changes occurred in the school’s athletic programs. The walls that divided genders had been virtually torn down. If a girl had wanted to play on a boys’ team and there was no athletic equivalent for her, she could try out. The opportunities were available, but according to Kennedy, no one capitalized on the new legislation.
“After Title IX the whole landscape changed. Girls had more opportunities than ever before, but people were still skeptical. It wasn’t until the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Rigs tennis match that people believed in gender equality on the sports field,” Kennedy said.
The Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Rigs match was a world-famous

match in 1973. Bobby Rigs, a World Champion mens’ tennis player, challenged King, the women’s leader, to a match. He boasted proudly that “women could never be the players men were, they were simply too weak and they were just women.” King accepted the challenge and trounced Rigs.
“Her victory proved to the [world] that women are legitimate athletes,” Kennedy said. “After Title IX and the King vs. Rigs match people started to look at women’s sports differently. And with the help of George Winkler we began to expand.”
Winkler, the Athletic Director at the time, began programs of integration in the school. The two genders had separate gym facilities. The current Fitness Center was the girls’ gym and Gym B was the boys’ gym.
Winkler also fought for funding for the girls’ sports and brought new athletic programs for girls to South.
By the end of 1973, instead of having three sports in total, the girls had a couple sports every season. Soccer and volleyball ran in the fall, gymnastics and basketball in the winter, and tennis and softball in the spring, for instance.
“I was really lucky to have someone like Winkler. Many of my colleagues in the coaching field did not get the support I did. [South] was given liberties that were uncanny back then, and that really helped keep us ahead of the curve,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy is regarded as one of the pioneers for South’s girls’ athletics program. Coaching teams like Field Hockey, Basketball, Volleyball, and Gymnastics, she helped lead the charge for equality.
Equality isn’t clearly defined between two genders in a category likes sports. One gender, boys, is considered dominant because of supposed physical advantages. Although there are exceptions, girls competing in predominantly boys’ sports are not something seen everyday.
But strides like Title IX give girls more opportunities to shine.
“In spheres like academics, the two genders are equal. And even though they are equally good in their own right, you have to compare them individually in sports,” Girls’ Tennis Coach Robert Jampol said.
And compared to the standards and codes of 50 years ago, South has come a long way.
“I’ve noticed much more acceptance of girls. There isn’t a huge difference between the level of competitiveness between the two genders anymore and more girls are coming out to play,” said Kennedy.
With the past changed and the present at peace with itself, not much has to be changed.
“[I think the next step] would be to get girls more familiar with the sports. If there are more girls willing to do certain sports like powderpuff, then teams can start up. It’s a lot of fun being a part of something, and many girls miss opportunities to experience that fun,” Junior Chloe Jackson-Unger said.

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“Don’t ask don’t tell”: Reflecting on civil rights http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/dont-ask-dont-tell-reflecting-on-civil-rights/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/dont-ask-dont-tell-reflecting-on-civil-rights/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 11:45:01 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5099 After almost 17 years of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, the US senate voted on December 18 to repeal the policy which bans open gays and lesbians from serving in the Armed Forces.

“[The United States] is a working progress moving towards [its] ideals. I’m disappointed it took a while, but now we are [one step closer], history department head Robert Parlin said.

At one point in Newton there were no openly gay teachers and openly gay students were rare. But as the years progressed, with concentrated efforts to promote acceptance, homophobia and hatred dissolved, and gay teachers and students began to feel more comfortable in the community.

Parlin has been teaching at South for the last 25 years and has been openly gay for 19 of them. His friends and family thought that the general public would have a hard time dealing with an openly gay teacher.

“[At first,] people told me not to come out. They were worried for me, Parlin said “ Actually the exact opposite happened. I got closer to my students and parents were very supportive.

Now, with the help of eight Republicans, the Democrats removed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in a 65-31 vote.

“[The repeal] gives me more pride and hope for the rest of the LGBT community and for the legal rights of LGBT individuals, bisexual senior Rebecca Penzias said.

The future for gay rights looks as it did after same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, bright and full of progress.

“Although I was too young to appreciate it at the time, when Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, I remember excited family members discussing it because my lesbian aunts now had the right to marry in Massachusetts, Penzias said.

But the path to success was filled with obstacles. When South Stage performed the Laramie Project in 2005, recounting the murder of a gay university student in Wyoming, the Newton community faced the challenge of embracing new perspectives on homosexuality.

Meanwhile, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas, a group infamous for its vocal hatred of homosexuality, got wind of South’s production and threatened to protest it. Though the WBC never followed through, the Newton community came together, ready to back South up.

The police, Representative Barney Frank, and counter-protesters were present in support of the play and the LGBT community. The audience wore yellow armbands in support of the equality message and decorated the school with banners that read “Love Happens and “Accept All.

“It was a wonderful thing that the community came together against homophobia. In a way, the church people are doing a service to help the community unite, Parlin said.

As the years passed gay tolerance reached new heights, culminating with both high schools hiring openly gay principals: Jennifer Price at North and Brian Salzer at South.

“This was just another example why sexual orientation doesn’t matter and that we hired two people who were lesbian and gay, respectively, but made great candidates nevertheless, Parlin said.

In 1992 a newly open Parlin and senior Matt Flinn started Newton’s first ever Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). The group planned activities that educated and enlightened people on gay rights.

People of all orientations in the community coming together was the grand vision of this GSA.

Transexual Bisexual Gay and Lesbian Awareness Day, the Day of Silence, Gay Pride Marches, and Transgender Remembrance day are just a few events that the GSA takes part in to promote gay rights. From year to year ,the number of members in the GSA varies but its message of equality, acceptance, and tolerance remains strong.

Both Parlin and members of the GSA agree that the next steps for gay rights would be the repeal of the defense of marriage act (DOMA as well as the passing of non-discrimination laws and a transgender rights act. DOMA is the act that if passed would make marriage legal solely between a man and woman.

“The federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage and so there are [unfair anti-gay] laws pressed upon us, Parlin said. Non-discrimination laws would make sure that people do not get fired from their jobs for their sexual orientation. It would make it illegal to discriminate against someone if they are part of the LGBT community.

“It would be nice just got over other people’s sexual preferences, said bisexual Senior Rachel Feynman. The transgender rights act would help to stop the harassment of transgender people.

“In some states it is not [criminally] illegal to harass transgender people, and that is wrong, Parlin said.

Seeing the progression of gay rights over many years, Parlin is ultimately happy with the results.

“It’s nice to know that this repeal wasn’t forced upon anyone. The study conducted showed that it’s not a problem. One of the coolest things is that 8 in 10 Americans think gays should be allowed to serve, he said.

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Christmas for the kids http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/christmas-for-the-kids/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/christmas-for-the-kids/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 11:30:57 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5106 Donning their favorite Pokémon, Teletubbies, and clown costumes, 45 South volunteers from Newton Athletes Serving Community (ASC) spent the weekend of December 17 entertaining homeless children at Christmas in the City at the Boston Convention Center.
Christmas in the City, an event created over 20 years ago, offers homeless children living in shelters a Christmas celebration and a new toy that they specifically requested.
“It’s essentially a holiday party for kids in the homeless shelters, ASC Co-President Yoonchan Choi said. “The setup is very similar to an event like Southfest.
Volunteers from South attend this annual charity nearly ever year, but this year, an unusually high number of South students volunteered.
“We got about 45 kids from South to come- about 25 sophomores, ten juniors, seven seniors and two freshmen, “ ASC Co-President Noah Rivkin said.
ASC is a community service group composed of a combination of North students, South students, and Newton parents.
Outside of the group of volunteers from South, past volunteers of ASC such as 2010 South graduates Cora Visnick, Jenn Mountain, and Madeleine Reed and North graduate Maicen Young all returned to help out with the charity event.
“They had all done ASC and Christmas in the City in the past and for most of the years of their high school careers, so they really wanted to come and help while they were at home from college, sophomore volunteer Kyra Visnick said.
Each student took on different responsibilities, and helped the event run smoothly.
“I wore a variety of different costumes to make the less fortunate kids smile and remember Christmas positively, North freshman Jack Boucher said. “The kids were [ecstatic] to see the characters from their favorite cartoons come to life.
Reed and sophomore Sydney Rubinstein helped out in other ways.
“I greeted the parents and the children as they came in, Rubinstein said, while Reed “helped control a moon bounce to make sure that the kids didn’t trample each other and that everyone got a turn.
While helping others, students and volunteers greatly enjoyed the celebration and took away personal lessons from it.
“Christmas is the time of year where everyone deserves to be happy, sophomore Marini Lopci said. “I have always been able to have a happy Christmas, so [this experience] allowed me to give back to the people and allow them to have a happy Christmastime too, without the troubles of housing or financial problems.
Visnick agreed. “Christmas in the City is always a time where we’re reminded of what is important, and it’s also a time where we are brought closer together, she said.
Dressed as a clown during the event, Rivkin said he discovered what some might call the “the true meaning of Christmas.
“The event is always somewhat of a reality check for me, he said. “It’s a chance to realize that Christmas is a time to be thankful for our gifts, but also thoughtful about what other people who aren’t as lucky as us are not getting.

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Staffing Strains on Library, School http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/staffing-strains-on-library-school/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/staffing-strains-on-library-school/#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 10:35:43 +0000 Rutul Patel http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4939 Due to Newton’s ongoing fiscal deficit, South staffing has suffered several cuts, forcing the library to close during Monday J Blocks. Principal Joel Stembridge noted that this is not an isolated incident and believes it is only a matter of time until budget cuts hit the classroom.
Though financial troubles have already begun to put a strain on staffing, Stembridge is committed to minimizing their impact on students and teachers.
“Both North principal Jennifer Price and I are determined to have the [budget] cuts impact the classroom as little as possible, he said.
Following up on this promise, Stembridge made departmental cuts instead of possible course and teacher cuts; the secretarial and library departments and the administration took the heaviest hits.
One assistant principal position was cut, leaving Mary Scott to fill the role of Vice Principal, as well as one secretary position was from the main office. The library also had about $6,000 cut from its budget.
As a result of these cuts, the library now has no department head and has one part-time librarian, Marnie Bolstad. With less staffing and an increased number of students, the librarians were forced to initially keep the library closed during Monday J Blocks.
“The problem was that staffing was reduced, so as a result of that there wasn’t enough supervision, Stembridge said.
“We have almost 250 kids in the library on an average J Block, and we just don’t have enough librarians to cover all the kids, Head Librarian Dorothy McQuillan said.
South budget cuts come as a result of a citywide financial crisis. Mayor Setti Warren’s office released a statement on October 18 predicting a deficit of as much as $8 million by fiscal year 2012. This deficit would result in cuts to the school system, among other city needs.
Stembridge attests that though this is nothing new, improvements are a long way off.
“You’ll see that there are less staffing positions at South than years before, and going forward, the budget looks bleak, he said.
The school system has been hit hard due to cutbacks for several years now. Two years ago, the Wellness Department suffered a large cut which dropped both teachers and courses. This year, the administration is looking to cut more positions, the exact number of which is yet to be made clear.
The librarians, however, are making ends meet with the resources they have available. After being relieved of their advisory duties, which were transferred to other teachers, they have more time in their schedules for other work.
“The librarians don’t just manage the library floor– they have curriculums that they [collaborate on] with teachers, like the freshman history papers, Vice Principal Mary Scott said. “They don’t just tell the kids what to do. They’ll demonstrate how to work everything, from the search engines, to the online textbooks and the physical materials, and [are responsible for] managing the website.
To alleviate the staffing burden, the administration transferred campus aide hours to the library in hopes of reopening it for student use Monday afternoons.
“We have to ensure enough supervision; it took us a while to find a way to do that. We took a few aide hours from other areas and added eight hours to the library, Stembridge said.
Monday J Blocks in the library are expected to return in the near future as soon as all the final adjustments are made. Beyond these J Blocks, however, the library is also planning to open earlier in the morning.
“We are hiring the aide to make the library available at 7:10 AM in the second semester, Scott said.

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