By high school I had only traveled as far a Quebec City, but I loved reading books set in foreign countries. At Meadowbrook Junior High I was in the International Relations Club, and at Newton High, I joined a Senior Girl Scout troop with an international focus. My plan was to be selected for a foreign travel/study program.
Instead, a high school senior was sent to Switzerland. She went off to college and I was asked to show her slides to younger troops all over Newton.
I vowed I would someday have the opportunity to live in a foreign country. At Newton South I was a member of the AFS (American Field Service) Support Club, and my family served as a short term respite home.
I was friends with our AFS students and loved learning about life in their countries, but I never was able to have an overseas experience. On November 9, 1960, I was in my Goodwin House homeroom debating the impact of the Kennedy presidency. March 1961 the executive order which founded the Peace Corps was announced. I dreamed of joining.
I used what I thought would make me appealing to the Peace Corps to guide my selection of college majors. At that time, most volunteers were liberal arts majors. Most programs were either teaching or community development. I majored in Sociology/Anthropology, which enabled me to study other cultures. I minored in Education and English. I was trying to cover all the bases.
Learning a foreign language was a worry. Unfortunately, I had not done well in Foreign Language at South.
When I had the choice of French IV or Journalism elective, I took Journalism. The time I should have been studying French was devoted to Denebola. I had to explain this in my application letter. I wish I had put more emphasis on good grades in all subjects, not just those I liked!
I was accepted to be a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Turkey. I was assigned to be a Community Developer working with home canning. I lived in the village with no running water, no electricity, and no indoor plumbing. It was bitter cold! I spoke Turkish exclusively. I loved the people in my village and realized basic human values trump differences. The Turks loved Kennedy and valued the Peace Corps as his dream.
I volunteered for a second program. I was assigned to teach English and History in Sabah, North Borneo. Now I was on the Equator. I learned Malay but taught in English. I was able to draw on the way I had been taught in Newton.
In the Peace Corps I was able to make decisions, write teaching materials, and have experiences a beginning teacher would not have. I had to learn to think on my feet, take risks, amuse myself and make friends with people whose culture and religion was different from mine.
My Peace Corps experiences far exceeded my hopes. I believe I gained more I gave. Throughout my career I’ve continued to teach about and work with diverse cultures. The plan I formed in Goodwin House came to fruition.
One of the increasing concerns of the United States is our relations with other countries. Modern transportation and the Cold War have made us become aware of the necessity of learning to understand other peoples, their cultures and traditions, and similarities and differences. High schools across the country, realizing this need, are fostering numerous programs to further understanding and friendship between individuals of different nationalities.
Newton South is an excellent example of a high school’s role in international affairs. We participate in programs such as the American Field Service (AFS), the sponsoring of an International Relations Club, the hosting of numerous foreign educators, aid in starting a school in Nigeria, and faculty exchanges.
The AFS program includes sending students abroad, sponsoring students who come here, and hosting students who stay in nearby communities for weekend events. Currently, from Newton South, Ruth Ann Bliss is living with a family in Italy and Yvonne Baginsky is studying in Brazil.
Attending school here are Teresita Porzecanski from Uruguay and Andrew Wezeye from Uganda.
In order to raise enough money to continue this excellent program, the AFS Club sells “Shares in World Friendship” at 50 cents each. (Contributions can still be made through your AFS homeroom representative. Do not forget to purchase your shares!)
The International Club sponsors seminars with guest speakers to discuss various areas of the world and their problems. Last year, seminars were presented on the Middle East and Latin America. We are looking forward to further programs this year. The club also attends two model UN’s.
This year, visiting foreign educators have come to observe Newton South High School as a prime example of a US high school. They have been from such countries as Nigeria, India, Peru, Singapore, Pakistan, Australia, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, and Ghana, among others. We also have an exchange teacher from England here for the year.
There is, of course, a great deal more depth to these programs, and a large number of students do participate in them. We must not forget the important contribution we each can make, the experience and insight that we can gain, through participation in and support of these must vital organizations.
By Van Seasholes,
December 18, 1963
This year we have about 130 first formers and about 30 sixth formers. The first form, as you know, is equivalent to our seventh grade, although the competition for places in grammar schools has meant that we have a number of students who are older, having not been admitted to schools previous to this year. And there are a number of students who had to discontinue their studies after primary school because of a lack of funds.
We have a real cross section of kids in every respect. Some are from surrounding farms, while others are from towns and big cities such as Ibadan and Lagos.
We have students with a wide range of ability and facility in using English. They are much like junior high students that I have taught before—eager to please, friendly, wiggly, all sizes and shapes and abilities, full of spark and fun, and at times exasperating.
The sixth form takes a course of studies roughly equivalent to our advanced placement or first and second year of university work. They concentrate in either the arts or science, although they are all require to take a general course in English.
December As School Year End
The school year will be through the latter part of December and the new year will begin in January. At that time we shall get approximately 210 first formers and 40 sixth formers. This will mean that we shall have the largest or one of the largest schools in the Western region—over 400 students.
Nance is busy teaching the faculty children at the International Elementary School. At the recent time, she has nine students, ranging in age from five to nine.
It takes the combined efforts of Nance and one of the mothers to keep this group of delightful, bright children going. I have volunteered my services as a gym teacher twice a week and have been busy learning or relearning drop the handkerchief, freeze, the hokey-pokey, and other school favorites. The school is using many of the books that Newton sent and are very grateful for them.
Our living conditions are more than satisfactory. In fact we feel that they are downright plush (really somewhat embarrassing when communicating with people who feel that we are baring the wilds of darkest Africa).
Nigerians Prove Competence
Our Nigerian colleagues are a very competent group of people. We hope that we have been able to establish good relations with all of them. We have gotten to know some of them quite well and see them socially fairly frequently.
I hope that we can investigate various ways to develop a relationship between South High School and our school here.
There are numerous things that might be done that would be beneficial to each of the schools. Some of my random thoughts follow:
1. Have a Newton South student come here to school next summer. Our second term runs until the middle of August and I see no reason why it wouldn’t work out very well to have a mature, interested student spend the summer here. The big cost would be the plane trip, which is about 900 dollars. Perhaps the AFS or some other student group could help to raise all or part of the fare.
2. Run a scholarship program for a worthy student. It costs a boarding student 60 pounds (168 dollars) to go to our school. This is an impossible burden on our students, so any kind of scholarship help is needed.
3. Get some communication going between students in the two schools. As a starter I would appreciate your having Mr. Nye send copies of Denebola and any information that would help s to get a newspaper started.
Dave Robison, our business manager (would any school but an American one have a business manager?) and I are trying to get a paper started. Although Dave has had some experience on school papers, I’ve had none. I think that the idea of communication between schools and individuals could be a valuable one.
It would have to be handled with real thought and care, for we’ve had one nasty incident in which an Albany high school paper was inaccurate and in bad taste and has caused some problems here.
There are probably a number of other things that could be done. Nance will be trying to establish contact with elementary schools in the area and will write to Angier about possibilities at this level. The above suggestions are ones that I thought might be appropriate for South High.
Our greetings to everyone at South, We hope to be better correspondents in the future.
With best regards,
Throughout its 50-year history, South has offered a wide variety of world languages and language-related programs to its students.
Currently, in addition to Spanish and French, South offers Russian, Chinese and American Sign Language programs.
In the past, however, South has offered Italian and German in response to what was then a demographic and cultural interest, especially in the case for Italian.
“There was a significant Italian population in the neighborhood in addition to students who wanted to pursue both of these languages,” World Language Department Head Suzanne DeRobert said. “[These languages were added] in part because of a community need.”
While these programs were popular when they were first added, numbers eventually waned, and the Newton Public Schools responded as such. “The programs were unfortunately removed as numbers of students taking these languages grew smaller,” DeRobert said. “Rounds of budget cuts were made.”
Yet language classes are not the only way South students have the opportunity to pursue languages. “Clubs and after-school programs are one way to demonstrate and interest in another language,” DeRobert said. In many cases, South works in tandem with these extracurricular opportunities.
Such oppotunities in the past have included an afterschool Hebrew course, which was once discussed as a possible language course at South.
Part of the reason that new languages are not always offered at South is because there is no tangible community need or interest, as there once was with Italian and German or as there currently is with Chinese.
“To create a new world language, we would need a distinct community survey to see their interest,” DeRobert said. “There needs to be a significant interest or need, like there is with Chinese.”
Additional obstacles include simply how much South can offer, time and money-wise. “We need to be able to offer a full four-class program,” DeRobert said.
In the future, DeRobert hopes to see other languages offered at South, given the interest. “Arabic has grown immensely and is being offered at many colleges and universities,” DeRobert said. “Given an interest or capacity, I would like to see that offered.”
Still, while languages have come and gone, learning one language can be the catalyst for future learning.
“The more languages one learns, the more equipped they are to learn others,” DeRobert said. “One language can ensure an easier time learning others moving forward.”
More importantly, learning a world language displays a world perspective on a student’s part.
“Learning world language is about being open and willing to understand the world cultural through a different lens,” DeRobert said.
“It demonstrates a world view outside your own culture. It is the first step towards a new culture.”
Despite increases or decreases in the high school enrollment in the various foreign languages, the overall interest in foreign languages has remained about the same in recent years.
A report released last October by the United States Office of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) includes a section of figures pertaining to the study of foreign languages.
The report shows that Spanish is moving ahead of French as the most popular foreign language. Both languages are taught in nearly fifty percent of the high schools surveyed.
On the other hand, interest in Latin is continuing to decline and the language is offered in fewer than twenty per cent of the high schools.
Enrollment in Russian and Italian are still very small, but the number of schools offering these languages has more than doubled in the past ten years. (Russian is offered at Newton South while Italian is not. Both languages are taught at Newton North.)
The NCES statistics do not reflect a decline in foreign language enrollment that has been noted by the Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (CTFL). The Council’s figures show a very slight two per cent drop in overall enrollment between 1968 and 1970, the first decrease since 1958.
According to Mr. R. Rocco Petrillo, the Chairman of the Foreign Languages Department at Newton South, “I think that Newton South High as well as most other high schools generally reflects the NCES report. Latin and Russian are definitely faltering, but I want to make it clear that they will continue if there is sufficient demand.”
There has been a slight drop in enrollment in the Foreign Language Department at Newton South, which is in accordance with the CTFL’s figures. There was a total of 1,118 students taking a foreign language at South at the end of the first marking period a year ago while the number was down to 1,077 (a decrease of forty-one students) at the end of the first marking period this year.
However, enrollments in Spanish increased five per cent from 1970 to 1972, and twenty-five per cent from 1971 to 1972, and are expected to continue to increase. More students are beginning Spanish in the junior high schools and continuing it at Newton South and more students are beginning Spanish in high school.
There are now nineteen sections of Spanish at Newton South in two tracks—curriculum I and curriculum II, both of which are college preparatory. Both tracks carry four years of language study.
As is the case in many other high schools, Spanish has moved up in popularity at NSHS and French has dropped about five per cent. According to Mr. Petrillo, the drop in students taking French is mainly in the upper levels, where a student may decide that he really does not want that much of one foreign language.
German continues to be a small but strong program, thanks to the efforts of Frau Johanna Leisher, who goes to Meadowbrook Junior High School in the mornings to teach first-year German classes there. Unfortunately, however, Weeks Junior high recently disconnected its German program, and now offers only Spanish and French.
“Our system here is simply a reflection of our feeder junior highs,” says Frau Leisher.
The slow death of Latin is due primarily to the fact that the junior highs on our side of Newton have discontinued it, while Day Junior High, which feeds into Newton North, has a very strong Latin curriculum.
“I think the most important thing in the contemporary world is good communications, and the mastery of foreign languages helps considerably in the realization of this fact,” feels Frau Leisher. “People put up blocks thinking a language is too hard to learn.
“I think that there should be a much greater emphasis on the foreign languages despite the drop in college requirements; they are essential to the time we are in, the places we are going. Whether the students like it or not, they should take a foreign language just because they may find that, later on, they will use it and like it.”
Mr. Petrillo as well as Mrs. Leisher feels that the dropping of language requirements by more and more colleges will contribute to the incipient decline in the language electives.
Mr. Petrillo has recently been working with aide Mrs. Bernstein to come up with some ways of encouraging students to take another language, preferably Russian or Latin. In the next syllabus of courses, the Foreign Language Department will offer to anyone who is interested a second language on a pass-fail basis.
Many students have told Mr. Petrillo that they would really like to take another language, but, because of other heavier subjects plus the demands of already having one graded language, they could not meet the demands of more grade pressure. Mr. Petrillo’s idea may prove to be a viable solution to this problem.
Mr. Petrillo emphasizes that the decline in the Foreign Language Department has only been slight. “I wish that the prophets of doom would stop talking about the demise of foreign languages and just let us get on with the job,” he says.
What! No homework for Mr. Petrillo’s 1-1 section of Spanish! “You see,” he replied, “The students are learning to speak and understand oral Spanish before they attempt to write or learn the formal grammar of it.”
This method consists of listening to tapes in the language laboratory at least three times a week. Each student, among the 13 participating, has a book which shows pictures of the new vocabulary.
First they learn the pronunciation of the vowels.
Next, several are combined into simple words. After repeating the word, the student uses it in a simple phrase. He has been actively participating all the time, however, by taping his voice after the teacher’s and replaying the tapes.
Starting with one-syllable words, the tapes present questions, answers, possessives, numbers, and other points of grammar.
Because each person proceeds from lesson to lesson at his own rate, his is more able to thoroughly grasp each lesson. In this way, the program enables some students to go farther ahead while others are able to proceed at a slower pace.
On the fourth day Mr. Petrillo sees the students. During this time they can ask questions and he can check their progress. And, occasionally, the period is used for inviting foreign students to talk to the class about the Spanish-speaking countries and their cultures.
The students enter the room and calmly take their assigned cubicles. They wear a headset which allows them to hear their teacher’s commands. Every cubicle is fitted with a video screen that enables the students to watch as well as listen to his lesson. They proceed to study prerecorded educational tapes. During all of this, the teacher simply maintains discipline.
No, this scene does not come from Steven Spielberg’s next movie. Rather, it describes Newton South’s new language lab. The new lab has been equipped with entirely new tape consoles, along with video monitors.
The new lab has been greatly updated and currently utilizes technology greatly advanced over that of the previous lab.
Language lab supervisor Betty Earle spoke enthusiastically about the new lab. She stressed the importance of the video images to the learning process.
The old lab consoles were too unreliable to be used in administering tests, according to Earle. However, students had to use the lab for the foreign language AP exams.
Using the old equipment often resulted in distracting buzzing noises which have detrimental effects on the test-taker’s comprehension.
The new lab not only eliminates the buzzing noises, but is also capable of analyzing multiple-choice exams automatically.
Although Earle stressed the importance of the video component of the new lab, she said that it has been excessively difficult to find Spanish videos. This limits the usefulness of the new lab for Spanish students.
Many French videos, however, have been acquired, mostly from the public television program French In Action. The new equipment enables students to create their own narrations for each episode.
In this exercise, the tape is played several times, so that the student can gain familiarity with it, and eventually the student is allowed to narrate the program. This narration is recorded on tape, and can be played back simultaneously with the video.
The new lab also is much easier for teachers to use. It can be used to create oral exams, in which the teacher does not need to manage the console at all. The exam is controlled entirely by the main lab unit.
Earle said that on the whole, “the system was a little hard to learn at first but everyone is basically happy with it.”
The new lab is also equipped with many new computers, including fourteen Apple IIgs units and several Apple Macintoshes.
The computers are mostly used by entirely classes but are also available for individual work during J block. Students use these computers largely to drill new vocabulary, although several new programs are also available.
Student opinions on the new lab have not been entirely positive.
“It looks real neat, but I think that it was a waste of money,” sophomore Steve Finkel said. Finkel went on to say that he felt that the money would have been put to better use in improving the auditorium.
However, he admitted that he had never used the video screen of the new lab. He said that his Spanish class did not have access to any appropriate videos.
Sophomore Steven Telio, on the other hand, said that going to the lab is “better than class.” He also said that the new lab is better than the old lab because “the teachers don’t have to run around to figure out what they’re doing.”
On Saturday, March 16, the “Greater Boston High School Committee To End The War in Vietnam,” held a rally on the Boston Common.
The Committee’s platform is “end the war, the draft, and high school complicity with them.”
The Committee’s political position is set forth in its newspaper by arguments for and against the two Socialist Workers Party candidates.
It opposes the war and the draft, and supports Castro and “the colonial revolution” in Vietnam. It favors separate black schools and political parties, and calls Senator Eugene McCarthy a racist, like George Wallace. The Socialist Workers Party and its affiliate, the Young Socialists, directed the marchers.
At 12:50, some of the marchers arrived with the signs. Between 25 and 30 people started marching in a circle in front of the Park Street station. By actual count, 25 NSHSers took part, with others looking on.
A Young Socialist girl came over to us and said that the U.S. economy functions only through “exploitation of the masses in foreign countries,” and “by dropping napalm on Guatemala.”
We discussed this for about five minutes; she then went back to marching.
Present everywhere were distributors of Socialist Worker publications, and, of course, AVATAR. With about 180 students, the march left the Common and proceeded down Boylston Street, well-surrounded by police, to the Community Church.
There were relatively few hecklers, none particularly loud. Inside the church, five speakers discussed “What high school students can do against the war.”
The first speaker, Jeffrey Brown (not from South) told the audience that the draft is “just another control over human life in the United States,” and “another step toward 1984.” It is “raising a new breed of people brought up with a guilty conscience.”
Stuart Rose of Newton High stated that (a) we support racist and fascist dictatorships in South Africa, Greece and Latin America, (b) we are in Vietnam, as in Korea and everywhere else, because our big businesses need cheap labor and the raw materials, (c) that a negotiated end to the war would be bad, as it would force United States domination over Vietnamese, as it has in Korea, and that we “go to college to help enslave people.”
SDS’er Aaron Cohen said that if peace comes, so will widespread unemployment; therefore, the government will not stop the draft.
He encouraged students to rebel against high school complicity with the draft in any way they can. He suggested that students start by disobeying the dress codes, which are just school administration attempts to “indoctrinate” people.
“The system stinks,” he added, and it, not Lyndon Johnson, produced Vietnam and will produce others. He also stated that we herd South Vietnamese into concentration camps.
After two other speakers described Committee activities, the rally ended, and everyone slowly drifted out of the church.
On Friday of last week, one of the several Iranian students attending Newton South was verbally and physically assaulted in Cutler house.
While the incident was relatively minor, this act shows an insensitivity and level of immaturity uncharacteristic of Newton South’s student body. Furthermore, it was unprovoked and a nonconstructive reaction to the current situation in Iran.
Unfortunately the attack was representative of a wave of anger that is sweeping the U.S. in response to the capture of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the subsequent kidnapping of 62 Americans by Iranian students on Nov. 4.
The students are demanding the return of the Shah to stand trial for crimes committed while in power. The students have since eased their demands first by releasing three hostages, and than by releasing an additional ten hostages.
A major source of confusion to U.S. policy makers was the nature of the support the students were receiving from the Iranian government. It was later learned that the attack was both supported and encouraged by Ayatollah Khomeini, the recognized leader of Iran. Consequently, President Carter made the decision to hold the Iranian government wholly responsible for the safety of the hostages.
This confusion was echoed by the U.S. public with the beating of Iranian students who protested the Shah’s presence in the U.S. and demanded his death. Across the country American citizens responded with flag burnings and other anti-Iranian activities.
Last Monday, President Carter ordered the cessation of importation of Iranian oil. This oil accounted for 4% of U.S. consumption. In addition, Carter called for more stringent enforcement of visa violations by Iranian students. Furthermore, Carter ordered all Iranian assets held in American banks to be frozen. This move was in anticipation of a planned withdrawal of these assets by Khomeni.
While the reactions were in a large part due to the initial sense of helplessness and outrage, this period is over. Even during adversity we should not overlook the freedoms elaborated in the Constitution. The Iranian students have a right to free speech as do all Americans. It is unquestionable that the demonstrations against the Shah are compounding a tense situation, yet the students have a right to voice their grievances.
It must also be kept in perspective that the U.S. supported the Shah’s administration; consequently, the U.S. must face the complications caused by this aid.
While the raid was the irrational and ill-advised product of a frustrated people, it has forced the most powerful country in the world to choose between an obligation to a former ally, and to the hostages. Blackmail should not be tolerated, but if a rational settlement of the situation is to be attained, then some sort of compromise will have to be worked out.
Before August 2, 1990, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was only a topic for World History students at South. But the world has changed tremendously in the last year, and out of the birthplace of Western Civilization comes a new enemy. Students at South are not talking about Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, but about Saddam Hussein and the Persian Gulf Crisis.
Opinions at Newton South have proven to be a microcosm of national opinion. The views expressed run the gamut from absolute isolationism, to favoring cautious negotiation, to advocating immediate confrontation. While there is no consensus, clearly the topic is on everyone’s mind.
History teacher Cary Holmes is distressed by our nation’s reasons for getting involved in the Mideast. “If this is being done just for oil and protecting the government’s selfish interests, then these are shallow reasons. I’d like to think this is being done for moral values,” he said.
Holmes hopes that the situation will be resolved peacefully. “I’d like to see the nations of the world work together, but that takes a lot of patience, and patience is in short supply in a media-saturated society such as ours.”
Foreign language department head Claire Jackson agrees with Holmes’ contention that the United States’ foreign policy in the Mideast should be based on patience.
“What has become clear to me is that while Saddam Hussein is mad, he is also incredibly ingenious and intelligent. It seems to me that he has strategized each step of this confict in such a way that is has been difficult for Americans to achieve consensus on the issue of patience versus non-patience. I hope we’re patient,” Jackson said.
Senior Stephanie White’s desire to see this situation settled without our country going to war stems from reasons close to home. “I have a cousin who is in the Gulf, so of course I want the situation to resolve peacefully,” White said.
Music teacher Gordon Duckel is not only opposed to war, but opposed to the build up of American troops. “Basically I don’t think we have any business there. I’m not sure the United States is the preserver of the universe.”
Duckel is opposed to the United States’ involvement for economic reasons as well. “We’re spending billions of dollars a month [on Desert Shield] while people are starving to death on the streets,” he said.
Holmes, however, does not consider the Middle East crisis anything to laugh at. “It is a tragedy because we could not prevent this incedent before it occurred. There was nothing any country could do until after it had happened. No one could read Saddam Hussein’s mind,” she said.
History teacher Dr. Edward Jackson believes the U.S. could have been more prepared for Hussein’s invasion of Iraq even without the ability to read minds. “Why didn’t our intelligence know what was going on? Why were we unprepared? Why didn’t we listen to the Israelis?…[They] have been warning us about Hussein for years,” Jackson said.
Duckel also believes that this crisis may been prevented had the United States been more responsible in the past. “I feel the United States should have done something in the seventies about the oil crisis. If American cars ran thirty miles per gallon of gas, we wouldn’t need foreign oil,” Duckel said. “I haven’t been able to figure out why, other than greed, the U.S. never worked to produce quality cars with better gas mileage.”
Junior Anne Kimball pins much of the blame for the Gulf situation on President George Bush. “I think Bush is being much too hawkish about the whole thing. We should try to be as non-aggressive as possible and monitor the reactions of the other European nations [who are] our allies.”
Sophomore Christopher Riely is also dissatisfied with the way Bush has handled the situation. “I think Bush has to take a firm stand on the matter for the U.S. to gain anything. He’s drifted from an aggressive position to a conservative position,” Riely said. “I think Bush is attempting to warn Hussein that if he doesn’t compromise, we will declare war. If we do conduct war, it should be succinct and orderly, unlike the mess we had when Bush was trying to capture Noriega.”
English teacher Ernest Chamberlain advises more aggressive tactics in the Mideast. “I’m usually not a war-monger, but I think we should get it over with. It’s a matter of practicality. We have all those people over there,” Chamberlain said. He does not believe that Iraqis pose a real threat to the American troops. “I don’t think they’re real fighters.
Senior Evan Pisick agrees: “I believe that we should just go over there and bomb Iraq. What’s the point of having troops over there if they aren’t going to do anything? This way we can bring the troops home for Christmas.”