While there, he briefly met students and teachers who had left January 21 to perform in the celebration of the school.
Newton Public Schools and the Jingshan High School have been connected for over 30 years, with at least 20 student-teacher exchanges over the years.
While numerous families in Newton have hosted students and teachers from the Beijing school, Stembridge and other Newton administrators had the chance to visit China and reverse the roles.
“It was a really amazing opportunity for me, Stembridge said. “What stood out [were] the importance of the Jingshan school in Beijing, the over-the-top celebration and performance¦ and how the Chinese government is orchestrating urban renewal.
According to Stembridge, the trip consisted of two parts: the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jingshan High School and a general tour of China, which consumed most of the trip.
After watching the celebration and performance at the high school, Stembridge had the chance to travel to the Henan province for site-seeing.
In Beijing, he visited an alumni gathering of the Newton-Jingshan exchange program, made an excursion to the Great Wall of China, attended the Intenational Education Forum, and shopped at the Pearl Market, among other activities.
His favorite part of the trip was the opportunity “to simply walk around and have a feel for how people are living now.
He also had the chance to travel to the cities of Luoyang, Anyang, and Kaifeng, where he visited several cultural sites, including the White Horse Temple, Shaolin Temple, and the National Museum of Chinese Writing.
“There was a night market in Luoyang, with food stalls and many booths with all kinds of items for sale, that was especially vibrant and authentic, he said. “The cultural sites were also amazing, but were so crowded that it was difficult for me to process and take it all in.
Stembridge will put his experience in China to good use in the school’s study of the book This I Believe 2 next fall.]]>
According to chair of the task force Emma Leslie, South is ready for deep reflection on the subject of racism, which is why she made the decision to hold this program at South.
“It began because the articles about METCO published in the Lion’s Roar in the fall sparked a lot of discussion, and it seemed that our school community was ready for some open conversation about METCO and race in general, Leslie said.
The student leaders in charge of the discussions were chosen by their teachers for their confidence and leadership ability. Called Empowering Multicultural Initiatives (EMI) leaders, they spent nearly seven hours at school in preparation for leading the discussions, engaging in ongoing lectures and activities centered around the theme of racism.
“The training took all day, but it was social and fun and all of us had the chance to engage deeply into the conversations we had, sophomore and EMI leader Yun-Hee Seol said. “Its objective was to force [us] to think about some difficult issues and to take a stand for our beliefs.
In order to provide the best environment for stimulating the most thought-provoking discussions possible, the committee in charge of Conversations About Race put considerable thought into its organization of the EMI leaders. According to Leslie, the committee members sought as equal a mix of white students and students of color as possible so that they would be able to pair up a student of color with a white student for the advisory discussions.
The EMI leaders started off their advisories with a chalk-talk, then moved on to open discussion as students became more comfortable sharing their opinions with each other.
“Obviously a forty-five minute discussion isn’t going to change everything¦ [but] by having discussions about race, students learn a lot more about racism and how it still exists and affects people today, junior and EMI leader Celia Kaufer said. “Before any sort of change can occur, we have to identify our problems and acknowledge they exist.
After watching the movie and participating in her advisory’s discussion, sophomore Neha Narula had mixed opinions on the success of the program as a whole.
“I thought it was a good thing to get to see the [movie], but it could have been better if the program told people to acknowledge [one's] skin color and embrace the culture that one has rather than to ignore the color, Narula said.
Junior Jae Rhee shared a similar view toward the program.
“It is a counterproductive process because in order to initiate a conversation, it must be stated that we are initially unequal, Rhee said.
Despite this, Leslie remains optimistic about the future success and benefits of the program.
“In the long term we are hoping to build a corps of students who can speak about issues of race whenever needed, Leslie said. “We see this as the beginning of a schoolwide commitment to discussing issues of race.]]>
“Winter Prom is continuing the tradition started last year by some of the previous senior Class Officers, senior Class President Chenzhe Cao said. “We thought it was a great idea to include smaller events this year, and Winter Prom would be a great event for all of the seniors.
The officers expected the event to have a large turn out. Because the Hyde Center has a maximum capacity of 250 people, the officers originally stated that only the first 250 people would be admitted entrance. On the Winter Prom Facebook event, over 300 people were confirmed as “attending.
Though tickets were generally $12, students who attended the Invisible Children’s Benefit Concert the night before were charged $10.
Newton North students were also welcome at the event. Though mostly juniors and seniors attended, some freshman and sophomores showed up as well.
“We heard from last year’s event that although there was a lot of hype, only 150 students had come to Winter Prom, Cao said. “We wanted the Hyde Center to be packed with students.
As with most school events, the Class Officers expressed great concern over safety at Winter Prom. Although there were no breathalyzer tests, 10 to 15 chaperones and two police officers made sure attendees were under control.
“As long as we are able to entertain and create a lively and enjoyable atmosphere, then I think that we’ve accomplished our goal, Cao said.
Winter Prom also provided North and South students the opportunity to make donations to Haiti, which was recently struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 150,000 people. Both the junior and senior classes matched every dollar donated.]]>