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.]]>
Plagiarism is the easiest way to fail. No ifs, ands, or buts.There have been rumors going around—as there are each year—about so-and-so plagiarizing on his or her history paper and thus earning a zero. Most students react in shock or disbelief. With our teachers’ numerous lectures, most onlookers are surprised that anyone would even think to try something so stupid. Plagiarism can be unintentional, however. Scouring essays for copied work is tedious and annoying, and writers naturally assume that all their work is what it seems—entirely their own.Accidents do happen. Certain phrases stick in our minds when we’re researching, and these turn up in our papers. We can rarely prevent this—it’s just the way our brains work.And what if a coincidence happens? There are times when the phrasings of certain sentences can align with those of another source, even if a writer has never seen the source.Our teachers try their best to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but using just their own intuition doesn’t seem to cut it. Now, Turnitin.com, a website that checks essays and papers against original sources for copied work, does it all for them.Unfortunately, Turnitin has more than a few flaws.First of all, the teachers’ settings for the site don’t include text sources. It only checks the internet and other submitted essays. Don’t many of the sources that we use for essays and such come from books? Sure, some books’ text is online, but most of the time this is not the case. This is clearly an enormous gap in the website’s ability to provide accurate assessments of work.On top of that, Turnitin looks at everything in a paper. That means that there is not a single phrase that is omitted, even if it’s something simple, such as “The other day I went…”.On my history paper, it said that my page numbers were plagiarized. Page numbers. Turnitin is essentially useless. Of course, it catches some things; if you were to fob off an entire piece of work you would get caught. However, Turnitin doesn’t catch the right things, but rather catches all the wrong things. Books are left out as sources, and citations, quotations, and even page numbers are counted. I don’t really see how anyone thought that this would help us.Despite this, many teachers take Turnitin very seriously. My history teacher threatened to give a zero to anyone who didn’t submit their paper to the site by a certain time the night before it was due.As for the actual issue of plagiarism, yes, it is a problem, and yes, it can be stopped.Is Turnitin the answer to this problem? No, because it just doesn’t work.]]>
…delicious and necessary.
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.\
…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.]]>
At first glance—and even second, third, and fourth glance—England and Libya are polar opposites in terms of political situation. England is a democratic country—the people have a role in the government and the separation of powers within the government prevents the absolute power of any ruler, much like here in the U.S. People are allowed to speak against the government without consequence and they employ this right frequently. Conversely, Libya is ruled by mentally unstable, violent Arab supremacist Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. He bombs his citizens for protesting his rule. According to the Freedom of the Press Index, Libya is the most censored country in the Middle East and North Africa.On the surface, England and Libya have nothing in common. Let’s take a closer look, however. At the end of last month, massive protests occurred in England over public spending cuts that will limit welfare benefits for citizens, raise the retirement age to sixty-six, and slash 490,000 jobs. Over 250,000 demonstrators marched through London protesting the cuts.Unfortunately, things quickly turned violent. Flares, fireworks, and petrol and paint bombs were thrown, banks broken into, fires started, stores trashed, and police attacked. Protesters as well as five police officers were injured in the anarchy.In Libya, Colonel Gaddafi has ruled with an iron fist since 1969. 10 to 20 percent of Libyans are under surveillance to monitor for rebellion. Public executions of dissidents are broadcasted on state television. Uprising has been rare until recently.Recent protests against Gaddafi’s autocratic rule have provoked a shockingly violent reaction from the government. Gaddafi has declared all-out war on his citizens, and the death toll has already surpassed 1,000. Threats from the western world have done nothing to deter him.There is a disturbing similarity between these two situations,In Libya, people are protesting an autocratic ruler who denies them their natural rights. In England they’re protesting autocratic measures that they feel are being put in place against their rights (it’s ironically reminiscent of the idea that started the American Revolution—taxation without representation).This begs the question: how could such similar circumstances occur in both a democracy and a dictatorship? To answer that, we must look at the differences between the two situations rather than the similarities. The same problems will always occur in both abusive governments and just ones—there will always be a question of how much power a ruler should have over his or her people. The way that such crises are handled distinguishes democracies from autocracies. First of all, in England, the protesters aren’t being condemned for speaking out against the government but rather for the destructive way in which they choose to express their displeasure. Bob Broadhurst, the London police commander, told Reuters that it was the violence that angered him, as opposed to public sentiment against the government’s handling of the economic crisis. “It’s really just criminality. They’ve attacked buildings, broken windows, thrown paint at them, and not been afraid to attack police officers trying to protect these buildings,” he said. In Libya, on the other hand, violence escalated because of the government. Gaddafi’s bloody attempts to completely quash the public uprisings catapulted the country into civil war. Gaddafi was blatantly indifferent to what his people had to say and was concerned only with his own power, stating that he would rather die a martyr than relinquish authority.Back in England, the protesters were lent far more credibility. Many blamed banks for the shocking public spending cuts (which is why many were vandalized). The government, aware of the public hatred for banks, expressed a willingness to levy higher taxes on them and made a previously temporary tax on bank balance sheets permanent, rather than ignore the people (which they had the power to do).To put it simply, democracies care about their citizens. England isn’t taxing its people to boost their power, or to be cruel, and Libya is massacring its people to maximize the government’s power and to extinguish the free thought of the citizens. Both Libya and England may be going through a period of public dissatisfaction, but in Libya they are stifling the emotion with death whereas in England they are appeasing it with compromise.]]>
We live in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to care about death. Our brains have become so saturated with news of bloody crackdowns in Libya, bombings in Afghanistan, and nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, that we are no longer moved by extreme violence or widespread death. On the contrary, we tend to treat death like a trivial, everyday occurrence.This is not to say that death isn’t something that happens every day, because it does. But it is always essentially to remember that loss of life is terrible, common or not, and becoming desensitized to it is a serious problem.Unfortunately, that is exactly what has been happening. Throughout Newton South, discussion about the tragedies that happen each day is nearly impossible to find. Most would rather complain about teachers or talk about classes. The result? An almost callous lack of concern for the horrifying.It’s not as though we couldn’t see this coming. Newton South has a long track record of forgetting—even ignoring—terrible events seemingly as they happen.Exhibit A: The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. A little over two months ago Representative Giffords was, in broad daylight, shot in the head at point-blank range by apparently anti-authoritarian madman Jared Lee Loughner. A nine-year-old girl and a federal judge were also murdered in the killing spree. The following Monday Newton South had a moment of silence at precisely 10:45 AM.It was a nice idea, and intended to be moving. Why wasn’t it? Because of what happened after the moment of silence.Or rather, what didn’t happen after the moment.There was no further discussion of the incident in the class I was in after the moment of silence. Speaking with friends later I learned their teachers had also returned to their lessons without a word about the killings. For the rest of the day I listened to see what students’ opinions were on the matter, but no one seemed to think it was worth discussion. No one found the shooting spree disturbing, or shocking, or even sad. No one found it curious that the shooting was of a House Democrat whom Sarah Palin had put on a “target list” of twenty politicians she wanted ousted in the midterm elections (reportedly tweeting the phrase, “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!”). No one found it appalling Sarah Palin’s aide blamed Democrats because the gunman, Loughner, professed to be liberal. No one deigned to offer so much as a “that sucks”. Exhibit B: The 2010 Haiti earthquake. The disaster that killed somewhere between 100,000 to 300,000, leveled the capital, Port-au-Prince, and left 300 million in need of emergency aid happened just over a year ago, which most would argue is a sufficient amount of time before we can forget about the disaster without feeling bad about it.However, according to an Oxfam report, only 5% of the rubble from destroyed buildings has been cleared away at this point. No major reconstruction has been started. According to UNICEF, one million are still displaced, and according to Amnesty International, the displacement camps are crowded, dangerous breeding grounds for disease—rapes are common and deaths frequent. The U.S. government, as well as other donor countries, preoccupied with other concerns, are indecisive over how much aid should be given. As a result, the flow of aid to Haiti is a mere trickle in a situation that requires an ocean. Initially so ardently moved in participation or aid, the population’s interest has fallen off. Clearly, in this case, our society’s lack of sympathy has had a deadly effect.Exhibit C: Japan. The Sendai earthquake hit Japan less than a week ago. It hasn’t been quite enough time for us to forget, but, alarmingly, indifference has already started. In my physics and math classes we discussed the earthquake at length. That is, we discussed the science and mathematics of it—the ten thousand left dead and 450,000-plus displaced were, somehow, forgotten. Some talk about the disaster in the halls, but they are very few in number. Japan, it seems, is going to be the next Haiti.The difference? It has been several days, not four hundred. It’s too soon, even for we the embarrassingly short attention spans of we teenagers.I leave you with this: In a world in which death is rampant, we can only save ourselves if we care. Don’t succumb to the apathy of everyone else—save the sensitive.]]>
As part of the plan to mitigate the effects of the FY12 budget cuts, the Superintendent is proposing a $125 student activities fee. This fee, intended for middle school Triple E programs and high school clubs, would help the district to counteract the consequences of insufficient funds to maintain and grow the programs and services provided district-wide.Denebola recognizes the gravity of this year’s budget dilemmas and commends the central office for seeking creative solutions to a difficult situation. But as students who devote significant time to an extra-curricular activity – the school newspaper – we fear that the proposed activities fee will negatively affect student activities – and the students involved in them – throughout the city.It’s long been common practice to charge such fees for athletics, so it may seem fitting to impose similar fees for other after school programs. The proposed fee concerns us, however, since there does not seem to be a correlation between the addition of fees and an increase in funds available to support activities, like advisor, coach, and director stipends. Nor does this fee account for the varying degrees of interest, participation, and time-commitment in different clubs.For example, some clubs meet during Wednesday J-Blocks, but others – like theatre and publications – work into the evening and on weekends. Why should a student’s family be obligated to pay the same amount to participate in a once-a-week club as for a clearly more intense and involved activity? For us it is a problem that the proposed plan for the FY12 fees do not address what is effectively inequity.Furthermore, we worry that an activities fee – even with a mechanism for addressing special financial circumstances – will discourage students from joining activities that would end up being beneficial to them. We know firsthand the positive impact of activities like Denebola – activities that not only provide us with an important community of friends and colleagues, but are also key to defining who we are as learners and as people.The $125, no matter how logical a fee or how fundamental to maintaining Newton’s high academic standards, will likely stand between a student with potential interest and the activity he or she wants to participate in. If we were freshmen with interest in joining Denebola, this fee would certainly influence our enthusiasm to join the newspaper – and we can only imagine this is the same case with prospective speech, theatre, mock trial, and student union participants.Denebola is, for the reasons outlined, opposed to the implementation of a student activities fee.But we appreciate the financial climate in which this idea was proposed, as well as the central office’s effort to maintain as many academic programs as possible. We nevertheless stress that this type of fee will almost certainly impact the ways in which students think about extracurricular participation – commitments that, in our experience, are a significant part of a Newton South education.]]>
Now, the first lunch line is comparable to a mob, lacking only pitchforks and burning torches.
The ensuing chaos causes some students to wait in line for the duration of lunch, forcing many to bring their lunches to class, while others choose not to eat at all because of lines.
To make matters worse, the entrance, a very small doorway, is nearly impossible to squeeze through, and it is anything but pleasant trying to navigate the various lunch counters beyond the doorway.
I’m not claustrophobic but sheer volume of people in the lunch line would likely scare King Kong, let alone hungry South students.
Two of my classes have swapped lunches to relieve crowding, yet the situation remains the same. Cancelled freshman classes take first lunch; adding at least fifty extra students to the first-lunch crowd every day.
The new policy mandating the first floor of the 6000s to take second or third lunch has yet to yield results.
The cafeteria staff have made efforts to clear the jam by moving the registers outside the doors. The tactic has allowed more space where no food exists, but doesn’t change the high concentration of students surrounding the counters.
Following the current lunch situation’s trajectory, I doubt anything will by fixed by the end of the year.
Nearing the end of the third term, there may not be enough time for a proper solution, which is unfortunate when students are forced to go without food and seek places to eat outside of the cafeteria.
The simple solution to the problem would be to rearrange the lunch schedule to reflect the traffic, which would eliminate the problems.
But seeing as there are no imminent solutions, there are only a few small things we can do to make life easier during our half-hour of culinary solace.
The first thing is frustratingly simple: pay with smaller bills. Students stand in line watching people pay with fifty dollar bills, which is ridiculous. Or, even better: put money in your lunch account!
Another solution, although it might be “retro,” would be to bring lunch from home.
Your parents would surely be happy to save at least $17, and if you still have that refrigerated Power Rangers lunchbox from third grade, you can eat a chilled lunch!
So, why complicate life when you don’t need to? Do your part to speed up the lunch lines and we’ll all be rewarded.]]>