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Denebola » Sidrah Baloch 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 Senior Slump is the beginning of a bad habit http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/senior-slump-is-the-beginning-of-a-bad-habit/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/senior-slump-is-the-beginning-of-a-bad-habit/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:48:26 +0000 Sidrah Baloch http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3617 Senioritis. According to UrbanDictionary.com, the symptoms are severe (“laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants ¦ a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude), and the cure singular (graduation).

By the time we reach the halfway mark of our thirteenth year of schooling, most of us are thoroughly exhausted and ready for a well-deserved break. But while slumping may seem like the only way to survive this final semester, its negatives outweigh its positives in more ways than one.

The fundamental mindset behind Slump is that schoolwork no longer matters once first semester grades have been sent to colleges. But we shouldn’t assume that colleges will disregard our second semester grades, especially this year, when admissions officers are faced with record-setting applicant numbers that are pushing class size limits and sending fully qualified students to the wait-lists.

It may seem unlikely that a college would rescind someone’s admission based on one semester of grades, but acceptance letters warn that “your admission is contingent on your continued successful performance,  and we have no reason not to take them seriously.

Colleges accept students based on a number of things, including academic performance. It’s not fair for us to purposefully slack off when we’ve presented ourselves to them as good students and, more importantly, been rewarded for this merit. The truth is, when we slump, our grades account for it, and colleges are watching for signs of senioritis. Why risk it when we’ve worked so hard?

Even if college is not a part of your future plans, slumping can do nothing but detract from your work ethic, something that you will take with you through the rest of your life. In real life, it is never appropriate to simply stop caring or trying for four months and still expect to succeed.

You would never tell your boss or your supervisor that you’re going to take the rest of the year off and assume you will still have a job and a paycheck to show for it.

For those who do plan on going to college, maintaining good work habits for the rest of this year is a necessary part of preparing for next year.

Slumping only detracts from your work ethic, something that you will take with you through the rest of your life.

High school is when we’re supposed to develop effective study methods, and we shouldn’t sell ourselves short by giving up too early. Colleges won’t wait for us if we slump, and neither will future employers.

Finally, consider how disrespected our teachers must feel when we slack off halfway through the year. They come to school every day with lessons that they’ve taken the time and effort to plan. It’s only fair that we reciprocate their effort by coming to classes on time and doing our homework, just for a few more months.

It’s perfectly fine to want to relax. Who wouldn’t rather sit at home all day and never change out of their SEN10RS sweatpants? After all, we’ve worked hard this year’€and every year’€balancing regular schoolwork with college applications, jobs, and extracurriculars. We deserve breaks, but we don’t deserve to check out altogether.

Besides, we’re lucky. We already get out of school earlier than all the little people, and the last few weeks will undoubtedly be easy and relaxing. I’m sure we can all push through until then. So pat yourselves on the backs, SEN10RS, because you’re almost there.

You’ve attended over 2200 days of school, written essays on Romeo and Juliet and the Black Plague, and stayed up all night studying for chemistry tests. You’ve cried over grades and laughed about them later. You’ve applied to college and made plans for the future. Might as well finish this last year strong.

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Dyin’ Dawgz integrate math and music http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/dyin%e2%80%99-dawgz-integrate-math-and-music/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/dyin%e2%80%99-dawgz-integrate-math-and-music/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 07:57:38 +0000 Sidrah Baloch http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3684 Some musical groups start in basements and garages. Others have their origins somewhere a little less conventional, for example Dyin’ Dawgz, a rap group that was born in a math classroom last spring.

Created to boost the morale of South’s Math Team, Dyin’ Dawgz is comprised of senior Ted Tsien; juniors Hyun Lee, Tomer Reiter, and Tony Wang; and freshman Elena Byun. What began as just a few Math Team members trying to institute a team anthem to pump up the group during practices and meets has become a group that plays songs by Fort Minor, Linkin Park, Ozzy Osbourne, Coldplay, and Queen, incorporating the unlikely mix of rapping, singing, beat boxing, piano, and violin.

“Dyin’ Dawgz was created solely to fire up our members during meets and provide entertainment for the team, Lee said. “We are the motivators of Math Team, both for the members and the potential members.

Dyin’ Dawgz’ main goal is to bring energy to the Math Team and hype up team members before competitions. At last year’s New England Regionals Math Meet, the group decided to perform their theme song, Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name, as the competing teams waited for the meet to begin.

“It wasn’t a scheduled or planned thing, but we just wanted to do it so that we would be more excited and confident heading into the meet, Reiter said.

The performance was received enthusiastically by the other teams. Some people even pulled out their cell phones to take pictures and videos.

But the Dyin’ Dawgz’ primary audience is their fellow Math Team members, who appreciate the group’s unique way of motivating the team.

“Our fans consist of the rest of our Math Team, Tsien said. “They’ve always been very supportive and enthusiastic about the singing and the goofing around.

The response from fans on and off the Math Team has also been positive and at times even surprised at the band’s unassuming nature.

“People seem to be rather amused by the idea of a Math Team band, and rather surprised that we’re not bad, Lee said.

“In general, the response from people around the school has been positive, and people who comment on the actual performances generally say that we’re good, Reiter said. “Mainly, people are just sort of surprised that we would form a band like this.

The positive feedback Dyin’ Dawgz has received has inspired them to create a Facebook page for their group, and also to plan an appearance in the spring Tertulia. Still, the members agree that their goal has never been to impress their classmates or become a popular band.

“We’re just doing this to enjoy ourselves, Reiter said. We’re more interested in raising spirit within our group and Math Team than performing and growing to be a proper band. If people like it, that’s great, but¦we’re going to keep doing what we do, with positive feedback or without.

“What I love most about this band is how much fun we have when we’re together, Wang agreed. “For the future, I really don’t care about how successful we are, but only that we continue having fun.

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Faculty Focus: Paul Estin http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/faculty-focus-paul-estin/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/faculty-focus-paul-estin/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 06:15:29 +0000 Sidrah Baloch http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2952 Paul Estin didn’t always know he was going to be a teacher.

Estin, who went to the University of Chicago and has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, says he didn’t consider teaching his “calling until after he was laid off from a tech job and started teaching at Casa Isla, a Department of Youth Services system. After three and a half years at Casa Isla, Estin was hired as a Psychology teacher at Newton South.

“I realized I loved teaching teenagers, but I wanted to do so in a more stable environment, Estin said.

Now in his third year at South, he teaches A.P. Psychology and freshman World History, two courses that seem very different on the surface but that Estin believes are similar in how they both provide students with information and experiences they can apply to every aspect of life.

“It’s hard to read about a situation in everyday life or in world news and not see how it might relate back to psychological themes and/or historical patterns, he said. Estin uses these world connections to keep his classes interesting and involve both himself and his students in the topics at hand.

In addition to teaching classes, Estin advises the Conservative Student Union, which was founded last year. Estin, who self-declaredly leans libertarian, enjoys the insightful conversations that arise during group meetings.

“We can have fruitful discussions when we disagree on topics’€which we frequently do, especially on foreign policy’€while still finding points of agreement, he said.

Estin’s myriad interests outside of school include, among many others, “filk music (science fiction fan music), bicycling, cognitive science, modern fairy tales, complexity and chaos theory, and xenobiology. He also plays six instruments, primarily the guitar.

Estin hopes that his students ultimately gain the ability to “analyze and synthesize information so that they can form their own opinions and views rather than solely depending on established ideas.

“The hard thing is to recognize bias and yet still see some value in new information, Estin said. “If my students come out of my class better able to slowly build up an informed, critical view of ‘Ëœhow the world works,’ and modify it in the face of new information, that would make me happy.

Estin also wants his students to learn how to utilize clear communication skills to organize and express their thoughts.

Estin brings to his classes a wide variety of interests and experiences that he uses to shape the way he teaches. “I expect that I’ll be reinventing my courses constantly over the years as well as trying new ones, he said.

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South Senior Masters English http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/south-senior-masters-english/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/south-senior-masters-english/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 05:15:26 +0000 Sidrah Baloch http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2998 When Yuji Wakimoto walked through the doors of Newton South for the first time as a freshman coming from Japan, he couldn’t believe how many white people he saw around him.

“It was weird meeting different people who weren’t all Japanese, Wakimoto recalls. “It was awkward for me to switch from a 100 percent Asian population to a mixed community with black people and white people.

Wakimoto, now a senior, moved to Newton in 2006. His father accepted a job offer in Massachusetts and decided to relocate his family from the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan, where Wakimoto was born, to the suburbs of Boston.

In his first few months in America, Wakimoto was struck by the many differences between his mother country and his new home. Compared to the narrow streets and small houses of Japan, all of the roads and buildings in Newton seemed huge; it snowed much more in New England than it ever had in Tokyo; and the community in Newton was much more racially and religiously diverse.

And then, of course, there was the issue of language. Although he had been studying English both in and out of school in Japan, Wakimoto remembers that at first it was difficult for him to completely understand and communicate with his new classmates.

“All these slang terms’€I just didn’t get it, he said. “I couldn’t understand parts of the conversation.

Wakimoto took his freshman History and English classes through the school’s English Language Learners (ELL) program and took mainstream Math and Science classes. For Wakimoto, having ELL classes in his schedule and being around other students who were likewise still learning the nuances of American slang made assimilating into the Newton South community less stressful.

“There was nothing to be embarrassed about, Wakimoto said about ELL. “It was easier to communicate with people who were also having trouble with their English.

It took a few months before Wakimoto began feeling more comfortable with his English and not “panicky when he couldn’t fully understand people’s accents. “[I realized that] knowing language and actually using it are completely different, he said.

ELL helped Wakimoto gain confidence in English communication, but it was his experience on the track and cross-country teams that really helped him make friends and become a part of the Newton South community.

“[Being on] track and cross-country was a good way to fit in, he said. “It was a really great community.

Since joining the teams in his freshman year, Wakimoto has enjoyed both team and personal successes. As tribute to these successes, Wakimoto is captain of the Boys’ Track and Cross Country Teams.

Wakimoto, now fluent in English, has enjoyed all that the South community has had to offer.

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Vandalism damages morale of South student body http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/04/15/vandalism-damages-morale-of-south-student-body/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/04/15/vandalism-damages-morale-of-south-student-body/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2009 11:00:22 +0000 Sidrah Baloch http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2231 Within the last few months, incidents of vandalism around Newton South have gained school-wide attention, prompting concern and frustration from both students and faculty.

Some students have expressed annoyance with bathrooms that have been locked as a result of graffiti or vandalism, and with the library study room that is still closed after student-inflicted damage last month.
According to custodian Ernie Peltier, the boys’ bathroom by the auditorium lobby was locked after somebody kicked or punched two large holes in the wall.

The school had to pay a plaster company to fix the damage, but when the bathroom was reopened, vandals broke the walls again. After that, custodians locked the bathroom for a week to reduce the chance of costly vandalism occurring again.

The girls’ bathroom by the auditorium lobby was recently closed for several days as well; however, this was due to a broken toilet that had to be fixed, not because of vandalism or graffiti.

“If something is broken or vandalized, we try to get it fixed as soon as we can, head custodian Danny Bianchi said.

Still, Bianchi pointed out that the school only has a limited amount of money that can be used to replace or repair damaged school property. This budget is renewed in July, so as it gets closer to the end of the school year, the custodians have to prioritize and focus on emergencies first. For this reason, the broken exit signs in some of the hallways have not been replaced yet.

Peltier said that he thinks most of the vandalism around South is a result of disrespect for the school environment and students’ general carelessness.

“When students ruin things, it ruins it for everybody, he said. Both Bianchi and Peltier said that the amount of vandalism this year is not abnormal compared to other years.

The school library has also had its share of damage this year. Last month, one of the study rooms had to be closed indefinitely when librarians heard a loud crash and found dent in the wall and graffiti.

Librarian Ethel Downey said that they hope to reopen the study room soon, but are waiting for approval from Goodwin housemaster Charles Myette.

Other incidents of theft and vandalism in the library include stolen headphones and computer mice that have been cut from their computers.

The librarians are also disgusted by the food and trash that have been stuffed into a hole in the wall of one of the other study rooms. “I think it’s gross and nasty, Downey said. “We have put signs and tape [over the hole], and students just rip it off.

Librarian Dorothy McQuillan attributes the trash in the hole to students who do not want to get caught eating in the library and hide their trash instead of leaving the study room to throw it away. McQuillan does not, however, believe that the garbage and vandalism are part of an attack on the library or on the school. “These are just isolated incidents. I don’t think there’s any sort of crime spree, she said.

Senior Christina Amendola agrees that there isn’t a singular reason why students vandalize the school.
“I think it’s hard to pinpoint one reason, she said. “I think some kids just don’t care about the school very much, which is sad because it is giving them a lot more than they realize.

“I think kids may [vandalize] because they know they’re not allowed to. They definitely know that it is hurtful and annoying, but that’s probably the point, junior Erika Eldrenkamp said.

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Safe Rides grant life-saving options http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/25/safe-rides-grant-life-saving-options/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/25/safe-rides-grant-life-saving-options/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2009 05:40:07 +0000 Sidrah Baloch http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2007 In response to local concern about unsafe driving habits among teenagers, the Federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students Program has created a Safe Rides Task Force to discuss activating a program that would provide students from either high school a free taxi ride home if they were to find themselves in an unsafe situation.

A grant from the SS/HS has provided the Newton Public Schools with $6 million to be used over the next four years in projects promoting safety in the school environment and among students of all grade levels.

The idea for a Newton Safe Rides program was first introduced by 2008 graduate Sara Shapiro. “I decided that something had to be done to make sure everyone was safe. I was inspired to create the Safe Rides program my junior year when I saw how many of my friends and peers were drunk driving or driving home with people who had been drinking or doing drugs, she said.

Shapiro wants Newton high school students to have the option of getting a free taxi ride home as a safe alternative to being trapped in a dangerous situation.

As a result of her efforts, the SS/HS grant ultimately calls for the organization of a Safe Rides Task Force as well as a Pilot program to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the system.
The Pilot weekend is scheduled for June 5 through 9 between 10:30 pm and 3:00 am each night, encompassing both Newton North’s and South’s prom. Prior to that weekend, parents will be asked to sign an active consent form allowing their child access to the program and providing an address to be given to the taxi company. Participating students will be allowed one free ride over the course of the four-day Pilot program.

The Safe Rides Task Force hopes to use the results of the Pilot weekend to determine if there is a need for such a system in the Newton community.

Many parents, however, already feel that some sort of system is necessary to begin lowering the number of alcohol-related accidents involving high school students.

“I really do think [the Safe Rides program] is necessary in Newton, parent Jeannie Smith said. “There has been an increase in alcohol-related accidents, and Newton is such a huge community.

Principal Brian Salzer believes that it is the responsibility of the school and the community to work together to reduce teenage drunk driving. “We certainly had some unfortunate incidents this year¦and so I think we need to take some steps, he said. “This is not a bad step, but it’s not the solution.

Ideally, the “solution to teenage drunk driving would be to eliminate illegal substance abuse altogether. The leaders of the program, as well as parents and students, however, seem to agree that this expectation is unrealistic, and that as long as underage drinking remains prevalent, a child’s safety should be the number one concern.

“In a perfect world, we could say we have zero tolerance policy for drinking, and no one would drink, Shapiro said. “But the statistics and headlines are telling a different story, and in the interim, safety should be the highest priority.

According to Deena David, a South parent and member of the Safe Rides Task Force, the Safe Rides program in itself doesn’t condone drinking. “The program is really designed simply to find a safe way to transport the kids who do drink safely to their homes at the end of the night, David said.

Still, David and the Safe Ride Task Force’s acting chair Nancy Holczer have expressed the concern that some parents and students will think that the program excuses illegal underage drinking. David and Holczer addressed this issue when they met with the South Senate in February, but most of the Senators agreed that safety was the priority.

Junior Taichi Fukumura believes that the Safe Rides program will give students the impression that drinking is not a problem. “[The Safe Rides program] encourages and gives people the idea that it’s okay to drink¦It says, ‘Ëœdon’t worry, you will always have a ride home,’ he said.
Fukumura also noted that the program is at risk for abuse. “People shouldn’t get drunk in the first place, and if they are, they probably aren’t responsible enough to bother calling the taxi anyways, he said. “It’s open to abuse¦people can simply use it as a free transportation method for selfish reasons, not safety.

The Pilot weekend in June will partially serve to assess whether or not students will misuse the system.

Students can only vouch for a free ride if they are in a legitimately unsafe situation. This does not necessarily imply that the students themselves are drunk; it could mean that they feel uncomfortable riding with an intoxicated friend, or even that they need to find a way to escape an aggressive boyfriend or girlfriend. The only requisite is that the student is seriously concerned about his or her safety and has no other safe means of getting home. “High school students, parents, staff and the Newton police are all concerned about students who feel they have no choice but to get a ride from someone they do not feel safe with. Holczer said.

David said that the Task Force will hold educational sessions and community meetings to raise awareness about the goals of the program and also to ensure that students understand what constitutes misuse of the service. David also hopes that discussion about the program will stimulate dialog between parents and children.

“I’m hoping that the Safer Schools grant will¦give students and parents more ways to think about how to speak to one another [about drinking], she said.

If the Pilot weekend proves successful, then the Task Force will move ahead with finalizing the Safe Rides program and producing a long-term system. Until then, the Task Force is still addressing some of the logistics of the service, inviting input from students, parents, and members of the community.

Some technicalities still up for discussion include which days the program would operate, how many taxi cabs would be in use, and whether students should have a maximum number of free rides available.

The Task Force has also debated about whether students who get a Safe Ride should only be dropped off at their own house, or whether there should be a list of other parent-approved houses where they can go.

The Task Force has also made decisions about how to ensure that whichever taxi company they ultimately choose is appropriate for the Safe Rides program. All of the drivers involved in the program will be CORI checked and CPR certified.

Members of the Task Force will also discuss the idea of having a female taxi driver available for female students traveling alone.

This should ease some parents’ doubts about the program. One parent said that although her own child would probably feel uncomfortable riding alone in a taxi with a stranger, the service is “absolutely a good option.

The Task Force decided after some deliberation that parents will not be notified if their child uses the Safe Rides service. Parents who choose to sign the consent form will also be signing an anonymity clause, essentially allowing their child to use the service without parental notification. Theoretically, this will make the Safe Rides option more appealing to students who would not use the service if they felt they would get in trouble for doing so. The police will also not be notified.

“It has to be confidential in order to work because kids don’t want to be judged, parent Mindy Scharlin said.

Junior Josh Penzias said that he would want to participate in the Safe Rides program to avoid potential accidents, but that he would prefer if his parents were not notified.

“It would feel like an invasion of privacy, he said.

Penzias, along with many other students, however, said that his parents would want him to have the option of getting home safely if he were in a dangerous situation.

“My parents would support anything that would prevent me from getting hurt or would get me out of a dangerous situation, sophomore senator Jackie Horowitz said.

“My parents expect me and my friends to ‘Ëœexperiment’ and I know that they would prefer if there was a responsible way to be irresponsible, an anonymous senior said. “It’s an all around helpful program. It’s helpful in easing pressure in stressful situations for students and their parents.

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