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Denebola » Centerfold 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 FAR FROM HOME http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/far-from-home/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/far-from-home/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:07:08 +0000 Craig Fujita http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5789 Editor’s Note: This article was based on a conversation with Mr Fujita, a former at Brookline High student and currently a local  Apple Store trainer.
It must have been the day of the earthquake, and it was all over the news and I was at the Apple store.
Between my wife and I, one of us was always plugged into the news. We heard about the earthquake, and then waited for the wave.
No one was prepared, in any way, for a wave of this size.
I was completely unaware. What really impacted me were the first images and the actual video of the tsunami coming into the coast of Sendai.
It was unbelievable in the sense of its mass, its obvious power.
People were making references to Hollywood movies and their special effects.
A wave that tremendous, that out of scale, was so far removed from what we had seen or heard in real life.
The power plants were not on my mind.
The first problem was: can we communicate? Are the phones working, can people reply to emails?
It took a while to appreciate that other danger.
My grandfather in California was in touch, my wife finally got a very short text from her brother- everything was OK.
[There was] panic, because [officials] didn’t think they could control it- a lot of “if,” still plenty of “if” though now we seem further away from a serious melt down.
Radiation is coming out but but the levels, beyond the plant, are not as dangerous as first imagined. [Officials] say they are within normal “background” levels of radiation at a distance- something like the equivalent of a CT scan.
We talked about Chernobyl at Brookline High School. We all had awareness; we’re not that far away from Three Mile Island.
I learned about the importance of power but I did not learn about the direct effects … we knew about radiation- it’s pretty nasty stuff.
But in Japan, Tokyo if you’ve been there, you can see the lights, you can see the power being used.
Why haven’t we collaborated in finding better sources of energy?
It highlights the point that our priorities are mixed up, at least globally.
The problem in Japan wasn’t due to a war, it was a natural disaster combined with an insecure plant.
There’s considerable blame now, [because people feel] someone has to take responsibility.
There’s not enough responsible information.
Japanese people have to get their accurate information about the energy crisis, comprised nuclear power stations, data about the reactors, emergency cooling, the dumping of radioactive gasses or water.  Important, long-term issues, have not been discussed.
Young people in Japan? Scared.
Many now realize all this could happen again.
Not  the natural disaster, but nuclear power, how dangerous it can be and how crucial [it is that] all the complicated elements be monitored much more carefully and made more public.
It brings an instability people didn’t realize before.
Perhaps not so much instability as a sense that someone was watching over, taking care as much as possible.   We are all trying to get over the little fears … that the air, the food we eat and water we drink could kill us, if not now, in the future.
All said if I could go back to Japan, I would go again this year.

Editor’s Note: This article was based on a conversation with Mr Fujita, a former at Brookline High student and currently a local  Apple Store trainer.It must have been the day of the earthquake, and it was all over the news and I was at the Apple store. Between my wife and I, one of us was always plugged into the news. We heard about the earthquake, and then waited for the wave.No one was prepared, in any way, for a wave of this size.I was completely unaware. What really impacted me were the first images and the actual video of the tsunami coming into the coast of Sendai.It was unbelievable in the sense of its mass, its obvious power.People were making references to Hollywood movies and their special effects. A wave that tremendous, that out of scale, was so far removed from what we had seen or heard in real life.The power plants were not on my mind.The first problem was: can we communicate? Are the phones working, can people reply to emails?It took a while to appreciate that other danger.My grandfather in California was in touch, my wife finally got a very short text from her brother- everything was OK.[There was] panic, because [officials] didn’t think they could control it- a lot of “if,” still plenty of “if” though now we seem further away from a serious melt down.Radiation is coming out but but the levels, beyond the plant, are not as dangerous as first imagined. [Officials] say they are within normal “background” levels of radiation at a distance- something like the equivalent of a CT scan.We talked about Chernobyl at Brookline High School. We all had awareness; we’re not that far away from Three Mile Island.I learned about the importance of power but I did not learn about the direct effects … we knew about radiation- it’s pretty nasty stuff.But in Japan, Tokyo if you’ve been there, you can see the lights, you can see the power being used.Why haven’t we collaborated in finding better sources of energy? It highlights the point that our priorities are mixed up, at least globally.The problem in Japan wasn’t due to a war, it was a natural disaster combined with an insecure plant.There’s considerable blame now, [because people feel] someone has to take responsibility.There’s not enough responsible information. Japanese people have to get their accurate information about the energy crisis, comprised nuclear power stations, data about the reactors, emergency cooling, the dumping of radioactive gasses or water.  Important, long-term issues, have not been discussed.Young people in Japan? Scared.Many now realize all this could happen again. Not  the natural disaster, but nuclear power, how dangerous it can be and how crucial [it is that] all the complicated elements be monitored much more carefully and made more public.It brings an instability people didn’t realize before.Perhaps not so much instability as a sense that someone was watching over, taking care as much as possible.   We are all trying to get over the little fears … that the air, the food we eat and water we drink could kill us, if not now, in the future.All said if I could go back to Japan, I would go again this year.

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RUNNING OUT OF TIME TOO SOON http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/running-out-of-time-too-soon/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/running-out-of-time-too-soon/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:05:54 +0000 Melanie Erspamer http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5785 Down a long, winding road, a bleak building squats on the edge of the ocean.
A tall fence prevents anyone who does not have previously granted access to enter. Security guards patrol the area, armed with guns.
They are guarding the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
A 38 mile trip from Boston, this plant uses an isotope of uranium to supply the heat that transforms water to steam, in turn revolving a turbine that spins a generator, eventually causing the generator to work.
This method, unlike the one used by plants with fossil fuels, has the advantage of creating less pollution and thus damaging to the environment less. But it has one very big disadvantage: it creates radiation.
This factor is of great worry to some, especially following the turmoil in Japan, and many will be glad when the plant’s operating license expires in 2012.
The energy produced there is not used locally, according to a security guard at the plant. Instead, it is sold to National Grid, which distributes it to places like New York. Many do not understand why the plant was chosen to be stationed here and not in some less populated area of the country.
“It’s mostly geography,” the security guard said. “There’s water, and then the demand was high.”
The company Entergy sponsors the Pilgrim Plant, which has the same General Electric reactor as the Fukushima plant in Japan.
In recent months, the company has proposed cutting down training funds, money supplied to the plant that is used to practice safety procedures and evacuation in case of an emergency.
One person who is worried is Becky Deming, who graduated from Newton South in 1987. When first deciding where to move with her husband, the nuclear plant made her unsure about living in Plymouth.
In the end, although she did move to Plymouth, she admits she is still apprehensive about the proximity of the plant.
Some, though, are not so concerned.
“I’m sure that there are people that worry, but not me … you can’t worry about things you can’t control,” the manager at Kiskadee Coffee Company in Plymouth said.
For an attendant at a Tourist Center near the station, the conflict over the safety of Pilgrim is indeed beneficial for the tourism business.
“I don’t give it a second thought,” she said. “At least they’re paying [Plymouth] more attention.”
In fact, the uproar over the safety of the plant has caused people to pay it significantly more consideration, so much so that the plant security has been increased.
In Boston, while there is some unease, it is minimal. Most believe that Boston is too far away for harm. The manager of Kiskadee does not.
“If we’re worried, you should be too,” he said.

Down a long, winding road, a bleak building squats on the edge of the ocean. A tall fence prevents anyone who does not have previously granted access to enter. Security guards patrol the area, armed with guns. They are guarding the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts. A 38 mile trip from Boston, this plant uses an isotope of uranium to supply the heat that transforms water to steam, in turn revolving a turbine that spins a generator, eventually causing the generator to work.This method, unlike the one used by plants with fossil fuels, has the advantage of creating less pollution and thus damaging to the environment less. But it has one very big disadvantage: it creates radiation. This factor is of great worry to some, especially following the turmoil in Japan, and many will be glad when the plant’s operating license expires in 2012.The energy produced there is not used locally, according to a security guard at the plant. Instead, it is sold to National Grid, which distributes it to places like New York. Many do not understand why the plant was chosen to be stationed here and not in some less populated area of the country. “It’s mostly geography,” the security guard said. “There’s water, and then the demand was high.”The company Entergy sponsors the Pilgrim Plant, which has the same General Electric reactor as the Fukushima plant in Japan.In recent months, the company has proposed cutting down training funds, money supplied to the plant that is used to practice safety procedures and evacuation in case of an emergency. One person who is worried is Becky Deming, who graduated from Newton South in 1987. When first deciding where to move with her husband, the nuclear plant made her unsure about living in Plymouth.In the end, although she did move to Plymouth, she admits she is still apprehensive about the proximity of the plant. Some, though, are not so concerned.“I’m sure that there are people that worry, but not me … you can’t worry about things you can’t control,” the manager at Kiskadee Coffee Company in Plymouth said. For an attendant at a Tourist Center near the station, the conflict over the safety of Pilgrim is indeed beneficial for the tourism business.“I don’t give it a second thought,” she said. “At least they’re paying [Plymouth] more attention.”In fact, the uproar over the safety of the plant has caused people to pay it significantly more consideration, so much so that the plant security has been increased.In Boston, while there is some unease, it is minimal. Most believe that Boston is too far away for harm. The manager of Kiskadee does not. “If we’re worried, you should be too,” he said.

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DENEBOLA sat down with Three-Mile Island survivor Sue Welchs http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/denebola-sat-down-with-three-mile-island-survivor-sue-welchs/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/denebola-sat-down-with-three-mile-island-survivor-sue-welchs/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 05:02:09 +0000 Melanie Erspamer http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5783 Denebola: How is it you were in the area of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor?
Sue Welch: I lived in central Pennsylvania near Three Mile Island. I was teaching preschool. It was my first year out of college and that was my first job.
I was teaching preschoolers, and we were within ten miles of the plant.
Denebola: What did you know about nuclear reactors and nuclear power before the incident?
Sue Welch: Not very much. I knew that there was a plant in the area. I knew that there were cooling towers because I could see them, but beyond that I really didn’t know very much.
Denebola: Were you ever worried?
Sue Welch: Living around there? No. I had no concerns because I really didn’t know much about it. I assumed it was safe and went about my business, before the incident happened.
Denebola: What attitude did other, older teachers you worked with have before the incident?
Sue Welch: It was not something we really talked about so I don’t know that they had any concerns one way or the other.
The plant was there and I hadn’t encountered anybody in the time that I was there … who had any concerns.
Denebola: What happened the day of the incident? What did you do?
Sue Welch: The kids didn’t really know anything about what was going on; you know when you’re with little kids, you tend to not share scary information.
The morning of the incident, it was the second day [of the accident] so it was March 30, I think the initial incident happened on the 29, we were at work.
The adults were concerned because we had been hearing about it on the news the night before and were following things on the radio.
It’s similar to how things have evolved in Japan; every couple hours you hear something different and not everything supports what you’ve heard before. Sometime that morning, maybe around ten or 11 o’clock, is when the governor asked for an evacuation or suggested people within ten miles, either pregnant woman or preschool children, to leave the area.
At that point we didn’t know what to do because we weren’t aware of any evacuation plans that we should follow.
It wasn’t like the people in the area as far as I knew were educated about what to do with their residence and how to plan, so we didn’t quite know what to do.
We got a directive from the main headquarters of the preschool that I was at, we were like a chain of preschools, that we should go this evacuation site that was a designated evacuation site for floods and other emergencies that we had had in the area over the years.
In retrospect we shouldn’t have left the building; we should have stayed inside, but we were thinking we had to get farther away from the plant, so we evacuated. It was like a big exposition center where they were setting up for a circus.
So the kids thought we were going on a field trip and they were entertained by watching people bring in animals and props for the show that was going to be happening there; however, [the adults] didn’t really know what to do.
Parents who had kids in the center got notification of where we were. There was certainly anxiety about what was going on but I don’t know that the kids were- as I recall they weren’t scared, they were more intrigued that there was a different routine to the day.
One of our staff members was pregnant. And so by about 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon I was the only one left in the center because I didn’t have any dependence of any kind and I stayed until the last kid was picked up.
Denebola: How old were you then?
Sue Welch: I was 21.
Denebola: Did anything prepare you for this?
Sue Welch: No. I think the closest thing that I would have had would have been … fire drills and things like that to prepare for an emergency kind of thing.
There had been floods in that area; pretty significant floods of different kinds, so we knew about packing up things and leaving because we had to leave our house. But as far as really being prepared, no.
Denebola: Were you told to evacuate the area?
Sue Welch: I think if you do any research about this you’ll see that the communication around this disaster was very jumbled and the public got different information from different sources.
I think that people at the plant and the government were trying to figure out what to do. You know, how bad was it there, and was there anything to be concerned about or not?
A search showed there was an incident: a hydrogen bubble developed inside the plant and they were concerned that it was going to explode. So they were inspecting things as the hours went by to figure out what to do and it was after Jimmy Carter came up from Washington DC with some of the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] people, and they looked at things at the plant and discussed it with the governor and that’s when the decision was made to evacuate the reactor.
It wasn’t a mandatory evacuation. It was just suggested that you should leave if you were concerned within 10 or 20 miles from the plant (I don’t remember exactly). So that was the first day and then Friday and Monday schools in the whole area were closed and a lot of people left the area.
But I think with any kind of emergency like this you always hear different things and until they really sort out what’s going on you won’t really have clear information, and it wasn’t for years after the plant disaster that they actually were able to go inside the reactor and see that things had taken damage as significantly as they had.
Denebola: When was it “over”, did you go back to your job?
Sue Welch: I left work, it would have been a Thursday, and I was back at work I think the following Tuesday. Not all the kids’ families were back in the area yet but that’s when we reopened the center and I went back to my normal life.
I think one of the things that struck me as I was leaving the area to go back to where I went to college was that if things did go very badly I would not be able to go back to that area in my lifetime.
It wasn’t a matter of if it was a fire and I could rebuild, or if it was a flood and I could clean up and go back, but if it were a bad incident like Chernobyl, [I knew I couldn’t go back].
So I was driving away in my car and anything that was part of my life I [thought I] might not ever see again. You know, it’s not only possessions but where I went to school and everything, so that was pretty traumatic.
When I came back for good it was interesting to see what kind of things the kids did with the information that they may have heard at home because families could have had their televisions on, so there were all kinds of stories and some adventures.
A few kids drew pictures of cooling towers or nuclear plants because that’s what they were hearing about and what they had seen. The bubble had gone away, so that was no longer a concern, and the plant was shut down, so at that point it was a matter of assessing what exactly had happened: how much radiation had been released and what they were going to need to do to clean up, but there were no more concerns that things were dangerous for people living in the area.
Denebola: Years have passed; you’ve had a chance to think about Three Mile Island. How do your feelings toward nuclear power now compare to your feelings before the incident?
Sue Welch: I guess I’d say I’m not really in favor of [it] because [it raises] too many questions about what to do with the waste and how to securely throw it out, and certainly the impacts that an accident would have on an area are so dramatic that it’s not something I’m really comfortable with. I wouldn’t want to live right near one, I mean we’re fairly near but not as I had before. I’m not in favor of [how much fossil fuel we use], but I’m not sure that nuclear is something I would prefer.
Denebola: How has your life changed now that you realize the gravity of the incident?
Sue Welch: One of the things that I have always made sure I do is that whatever school I’m working at I want to be on what’s called the Crisis Team, and each school has a Crisis Team to deal with any kind of incident that may happen and so I just want to know what plans there are for emergencies.
So that’s really important for me. Just really being aware of what kind of emergency information I could get hold of is something that reassures my mind.
Denebola: Hearing about the Japanese situation today must make you remember that melt down. What do you think about the nuclear power plants here in Massachusetts?
Sue Welch: The Japan incident has reminded me about how annoying traversing that kind of thing can be, especially if you’re living in the area and are very concerned.
I actually have a cousin who is in the service and has been serving and now he and his wife are coming back home to the states. I … just hope that people that live near [the Pilgrim Plant] know about an evacuation plan and that there are emergency procedures in place. I guess I feel that I’m thinking about my own sense of security.
Do I think it should be shut down tomorrow? No, but I certainly think the United States government should be concerned about their plants especially now that they’re aging, and that they should be making sure that the people who live near them are safe.
I have a colleague at my school who lives in Provincetown and she pointed out to me that where she lives is actually closer to Pilgrim than some of the people, you know, who are on the South Shore and that the people on the South Shore have iodine and other things to prepare them for an emergency but on the other coast they don’t and they’d be very stuck trying to evacuate from there.

Denebola: How is it you were in the area of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor? Sue Welch: I lived in central Pennsylvania near Three Mile Island. I was teaching preschool. It was my first year out of college and that was my first job.I was teaching preschoolers, and we were within ten miles of the plant.Denebola: What did you know about nuclear reactors and nuclear power before the incident?Sue Welch: Not very much. I knew that there was a plant in the area. I knew that there were cooling towers because I could see them, but beyond that I really didn’t know very much.Denebola: Were you ever worried?Sue Welch: Living around there? No. I had no concerns because I really didn’t know much about it. I assumed it was safe and went about my business, before the incident happened.Denebola: What attitude did other, older teachers you worked with have before the incident?Sue Welch: It was not something we really talked about so I don’t know that they had any concerns one way or the other. The plant was there and I hadn’t encountered anybody in the time that I was there … who had any concerns.Denebola: What happened the day of the incident? What did you do?Sue Welch: The kids didn’t really know anything about what was going on; you know when you’re with little kids, you tend to not share scary information.The morning of the incident, it was the second day [of the accident] so it was March 30, I think the initial incident happened on the 29, we were at work. The adults were concerned because we had been hearing about it on the news the night before and were following things on the radio.It’s similar to how things have evolved in Japan; every couple hours you hear something different and not everything supports what you’ve heard before. Sometime that morning, maybe around ten or 11 o’clock, is when the governor asked for an evacuation or suggested people within ten miles, either pregnant woman or preschool children, to leave the area.At that point we didn’t know what to do because we weren’t aware of any evacuation plans that we should follow.It wasn’t like the people in the area as far as I knew were educated about what to do with their residence and how to plan, so we didn’t quite know what to do.We got a directive from the main headquarters of the preschool that I was at, we were like a chain of preschools, that we should go this evacuation site that was a designated evacuation site for floods and other emergencies that we had had in the area over the years.In retrospect we shouldn’t have left the building; we should have stayed inside, but we were thinking we had to get farther away from the plant, so we evacuated. It was like a big exposition center where they were setting up for a circus.So the kids thought we were going on a field trip and they were entertained by watching people bring in animals and props for the show that was going to be happening there; however, [the adults] didn’t really know what to do.Parents who had kids in the center got notification of where we were. There was certainly anxiety about what was going on but I don’t know that the kids were- as I recall they weren’t scared, they were more intrigued that there was a different routine to the day.One of our staff members was pregnant. And so by about 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon I was the only one left in the center because I didn’t have any dependence of any kind and I stayed until the last kid was picked up.Denebola: How old were you then?Sue Welch: I was 21.Denebola: Did anything prepare you for this?Sue Welch: No. I think the closest thing that I would have had would have been … fire drills and things like that to prepare for an emergency kind of thing.There had been floods in that area; pretty significant floods of different kinds, so we knew about packing up things and leaving because we had to leave our house. But as far as really being prepared, no.Denebola: Were you told to evacuate the area?Sue Welch: I think if you do any research about this you’ll see that the communication around this disaster was very jumbled and the public got different information from different sources.I think that people at the plant and the government were trying to figure out what to do. You know, how bad was it there, and was there anything to be concerned about or not?A search showed there was an incident: a hydrogen bubble developed inside the plant and they were concerned that it was going to explode. So they were inspecting things as the hours went by to figure out what to do and it was after Jimmy Carter came up from Washington DC with some of the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] people, and they looked at things at the plant and discussed it with the governor and that’s when the decision was made to evacuate the reactor.It wasn’t a mandatory evacuation. It was just suggested that you should leave if you were concerned within 10 or 20 miles from the plant (I don’t remember exactly). So that was the first day and then Friday and Monday schools in the whole area were closed and a lot of people left the area.But I think with any kind of emergency like this you always hear different things and until they really sort out what’s going on you won’t really have clear information, and it wasn’t for years after the plant disaster that they actually were able to go inside the reactor and see that things had taken damage as significantly as they had.Denebola: When was it “over”, did you go back to your job?Sue Welch: I left work, it would have been a Thursday, and I was back at work I think the following Tuesday. Not all the kids’ families were back in the area yet but that’s when we reopened the center and I went back to my normal life.I think one of the things that struck me as I was leaving the area to go back to where I went to college was that if things did go very badly I would not be able to go back to that area in my lifetime.It wasn’t a matter of if it was a fire and I could rebuild, or if it was a flood and I could clean up and go back, but if it were a bad incident like Chernobyl, [I knew I couldn’t go back].So I was driving away in my car and anything that was part of my life I [thought I] might not ever see again. You know, it’s not only possessions but where I went to school and everything, so that was pretty traumatic.When I came back for good it was interesting to see what kind of things the kids did with the information that they may have heard at home because families could have had their televisions on, so there were all kinds of stories and some adventures.A few kids drew pictures of cooling towers or nuclear plants because that’s what they were hearing about and what they had seen. The bubble had gone away, so that was no longer a concern, and the plant was shut down, so at that point it was a matter of assessing what exactly had happened: how much radiation had been released and what they were going to need to do to clean up, but there were no more concerns that things were dangerous for people living in the area.Denebola: Years have passed; you’ve had a chance to think about Three Mile Island. How do your feelings toward nuclear power now compare to your feelings before the incident?Sue Welch: I guess I’d say I’m not really in favor of [it] because [it raises] too many questions about what to do with the waste and how to securely throw it out, and certainly the impacts that an accident would have on an area are so dramatic that it’s not something I’m really comfortable with. I wouldn’t want to live right near one, I mean we’re fairly near but not as I had before. I’m not in favor of [how much fossil fuel we use], but I’m not sure that nuclear is something I would prefer.Denebola: How has your life changed now that you realize the gravity of the incident?Sue Welch: One of the things that I have always made sure I do is that whatever school I’m working at I want to be on what’s called the Crisis Team, and each school has a Crisis Team to deal with any kind of incident that may happen and so I just want to know what plans there are for emergencies.So that’s really important for me. Just really being aware of what kind of emergency information I could get hold of is something that reassures my mind.Denebola: Hearing about the Japanese situation today must make you remember that melt down. What do you think about the nuclear power plants here in Massachusetts?Sue Welch: The Japan incident has reminded me about how annoying traversing that kind of thing can be, especially if you’re living in the area and are very concerned.I actually have a cousin who is in the service and has been serving and now he and his wife are coming back home to the states. I … just hope that people that live near [the Pilgrim Plant] know about an evacuation plan and that there are emergency procedures in place. I guess I feel that I’m thinking about my own sense of security.Do I think it should be shut down tomorrow? No, but I certainly think the United States government should be concerned about their plants especially now that they’re aging, and that they should be making sure that the people who live near them are safe.I have a colleague at my school who lives in Provincetown and she pointed out to me that where she lives is actually closer to Pilgrim than some of the people, you know, who are on the South Shore and that the people on the South Shore have iodine and other things to prepare them for an emergency but on the other coast they don’t and they’d be very stuck trying to evacuate from there.

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Out of Africa http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/out-of-africa/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/out-of-africa/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 04:29:46 +0000 Melanie Erspamer http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5713 On the West coast of South Africa, the city of Durban lies on the edge of the Indian Ocean.
Until a while ago, Durban’s white sands and blue waters were home to Bronwynn Dehrmann, who is now a senior at South.
In October of this year, Dehrmann’s plane landed in Boston. A few days later, she was a member of the South community.
Although she came to a new school much bigger than her South African one, she was ready to meet new people, but found it harder than she had thought.
“People aren’t that friendly here,” Dehrmann said. “Whereas in South Africa, people are the nicest people ever.”
The kindness of strangers and acquaintances in South Africa is something Dehrmann longs for.
Dehrmann found that people in Newton, although more diverse than people in Durban, were at first reluctant to introduce themselves.
This is not because she is different; in fact, the “melting pot” of people is her favorite part of South.
“I enjoy [the diversity],” Dehrmann said. “In South Africa, it’s not that [diverse] and there’s a lot of separation with the different races. [At Newton South], there’s no one around that’s ever going to judge you.”
As a matter of fact, one of Dehrmann’s best friends, Olga Rapaport, was born in a different country as well.
When Rapaport first met Dehrmann, she did not make any negative judgments based on where Dehrmann came from.
“When you come from a different country, it’s hard to adjust to things,” Rapaport said. “I came to the United States when I was seven; I came from Russia.”
Although Rapaport was not born in America either, she notices a few differences in her experiences compared to Dehrmann’s.
“She calls certain things [a different name], like her cell phone she calls ‘mobile’,” Rapaport said. “I understand her, but sometimes it’s funny how she talks in her own way.”
The way Dehrmann speaks is actually what first attracted Rapaport, who liked Dehrmann’s accent.
Since the first day they were introduced each other, they have talked more and more, and are now very good friends.
In fact, Dehrmann has found many places and friends here that she loves, even though her friends from South Africa are what she misses the most.
“My favorite thing here would be Starbucks,” Dehrmann said.  “I’m just a social butterfly, so hanging out with people makes me happy.”
Acting and singing make Dehrmann happy as well. Her future and move to America are centered on those passions.
“I originally was thinking about studying acting and singing,” Dehrmann said. “It’s great in America, whereas in South Africa if you wanted to do something like that you wouldn’t get very far.”
Going along with her daughter’s interests, Dehrmann’s mother began looking around for job opportunities in the United States.
When she found one, she had a work transfer, and Dehrmann followed her mother to the U.S. where Dehrmann could pursue her ambitions.
Once at South, she quickly enrolled in acting class.
“Bronwynn fit into the advanced acting class quickly and easily, contributing opinions and being accepted almost automatically by the other students,” Jim Honeyman, her acting teacher, said. “She has adjusted extremely well, and it has been a pleasure teaching and getting to know her.”
Now, at the point in senior year where students are beginning to decide what they will do next year, Dehrmann has found a place at the New York Film Academy, where she will be able to pursue her love for singing and acting.
Dehrmann did not have to take the SAT to get accepted.
“I actually haven’t taken the SAT yet because it wasn’t required,” Dehrmann said. “But I think I’m going to take them now.”
Although there is nothing like the SAT in South Africa, Dehrmann is ready to try more “American” activities while stillholding on to her South African identity.
“She likes South Africa,” Rapaport said. “I think she’s proud of who she is.”

On the West coast of South Africa, the city of Durban lies on the edge of the Indian Ocean.  Until a while ago, Durban’s white sands and blue waters were home to Bronwynn Dehrmann, who is now a senior at South.  In October of this year, Dehrmann’s plane landed in Boston. A few days later, she was a member of the South community.  Although she came to a new school much bigger than her South African one, she was ready to meet new people, but found it harder than she had thought. “People aren’t that friendly here,” Dehrmann said. “Whereas in South Africa, people are the nicest people ever.” The kindness of strangers and acquaintances in South Africa is something Dehrmann longs for. Dehrmann found that people in Newton, although more diverse than people in Durban, were at first reluctant to introduce themselves.  This is not because she is different; in fact, the “melting pot” of people is her favorite part of South. “I enjoy [the diversity],” Dehrmann said. “In South Africa, it’s not that [diverse] and there’s a lot of separation with the different races. [At Newton South], there’s no one around that’s ever going to judge you.”   As a matter of fact, one of Dehrmann’s best friends, Olga Rapaport, was born in a different country as well. When Rapaport first met Dehrmann, she did not make any negative judgments based on where Dehrmann came from. “When you come from a different country, it’s hard to adjust to things,” Rapaport said. “I came to the United States when I was seven; I came from Russia.” Although Rapaport was not born in America either, she notices a few differences in her experiences compared to Dehrmann’s. “She calls certain things [a different name], like her cell phone she calls ‘mobile’,” Rapaport said. “I understand her, but sometimes it’s funny how she talks in her own way.” The way Dehrmann speaks is actually what first attracted Rapaport, who liked Dehrmann’s accent.  Since the first day they were introduced each other, they have talked more and more, and are now very good friends.  In fact, Dehrmann has found many places and friends here that she loves, even though her friends from South Africa are what she misses the most.  “My favorite thing here would be Starbucks,” Dehrmann said.  “I’m just a social butterfly, so hanging out with people makes me happy.”  Acting and singing make Dehrmann happy as well. Her future and move to America are centered on those passions.  “I originally was thinking about studying acting and singing,” Dehrmann said. “It’s great in America, whereas in South Africa if you wanted to do something like that you wouldn’t get very far.” Going along with her daughter’s interests, Dehrmann’s mother began looking around for job opportunities in the United States. When she found one, she had a work transfer, and Dehrmann followed her mother to the U.S. where Dehrmann could pursue her ambitions. Once at South, she quickly enrolled in acting class.  “Bronwynn fit into the advanced acting class quickly and easily, contributing opinions and being accepted almost automatically by the other students,” Jim Honeyman, her acting teacher, said. “She has adjusted extremely well, and it has been a pleasure teaching and getting to know her.” Now, at the point in senior year where students are beginning to decide what they will do next year, Dehrmann has found a place at the New York Film Academy, where she will be able to pursue her love for singing and acting. Dehrmann did not have to take the SAT to get accepted. “I actually haven’t taken the SAT yet because it wasn’t required,” Dehrmann said. “But I think I’m going to take them now.”  Although there is nothing like the SAT in South Africa, Dehrmann is ready to try more “American” activities while stillholding on to her South African identity. “She likes South Africa,” Rapaport said. “I think she’s proud of who she is.”

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Caffeine Compulsion http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/caffeine-compulsion/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/caffeine-compulsion/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 10:10:15 +0000 Kirby Howell http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5114 You know you are addicted when you have perfected the art of getting to and from Starbucks during one homeroom period, you have gone to Dunkin’ Donuts twice in one long block, or Danielle from Coffee Corner knows your order and your name.
Our friendship is largely based on and supported by our mutual need for caffeine.
We have spent many a morning downing endless refills of Baker’s Best coffee and euphemistically calling it “brunch.
A good measure of how well we are currently getting along is how frequently one of us brings the other coffee from a free block jaunt.
We moved from “just friends to “best friends once we had completely memorized each other’s elaborate and convoluted coffee requests.
A coffee cup becomes just as much a part of every outfit as a pair of matching shoes.
Soon, your friends start to ask if you are okay when they see you in the hallway empty-handed.
If you are not one to put much effort into your outfits, however, a coffee cup becomes part of your outfit literally through the stains it leaves.
Often times, especially as senior slump approaches, the phrase and accompanying attitude of “I’ll just get some coffee during my free block becomes an unfortunate substitute for studying. That way, at least you are awake enough to realize how unprepared you truly are.
(And asking someone out by writing on his or her latte is not only romantic but also quite effective. Too soon?)
Now, our shared addiction has its drawbacks. If you have ever seen either of us without coffee for more than three hours, you know your best option is to run away.
Until you have personally suffered the splitting headache that is the primary symptom of caffeine-withdrawal, you cannot begin to comprehend our pain.
Kirby has been known to bite freshmans’ heads off when deprived of her daily cup, and God help the poor Cross Country team the day that David does not get his fix.
We really should tell you not to get caught in the vicious cycle.
Caffeine is not a substitute for proper sleep habits.
But who are we kidding? Coffee is great and keeps you awake and happy.
And, of course, you have something to look forward to in the dreaded months of winter, because that’s when Starbucks changes to holiday cups.

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The Tyranny of Technology http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/the-tyranny-of-technology/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/the-tyranny-of-technology/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 10:05:43 +0000 Leigh Alon http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5118 As I look down at my neurobiology notes about Attention Deficit Disorder medication, it is ironic that my own brain cannot focus on the task at hand.
Every few seconds my computer emits the popping noise with which every teenager is undoubtedly familiar, and a red icon appears alerting me I have received a new Facebook chat.
It should be easy enough to close the computer or ignore the new messages in favor of studying, but somehow the lure of constant communication is simply too hard to overcome.
And there may very well be a scientific basis for how strongly I, along with many other high school students, am drawn so strongly to my technology.
In a recent New York Times spread on the effects of growing up with technology on the minds of kids, Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Michael Rich said teenagers’ “brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing.
This constant switching of tasks, such as one between texting friends and using Facebook, fuel my frustration and addiction with technology.
“The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently, Rich said.
Indeed, I am personally guilty of pathological multitasking. I watch T.V. while doing homework and am often on Facebook, YouTube, or my latest Internet gem stuffwhitepeoplelike.com at the same time.
While I complain of lack of sleep constantly’€I get an average of about five hours a night, deep down I know neither my homework nor the college process.
I cannot count the number of times I have come home to a truly inconsequential bit of homework only to find myself scrambling to complete it at 11 PM and then having to wake up an hour early to finish it.
Even if I tear myself away from technology long enough to begin my homework at a reasonable hour, my meager bit of willpower does not stand a chance against the magnetic pull of Facebook and its myriad of features to distract me every few moments, resulting in roughly the same homework start time of 11 PM.
I am not alone. A student recently described to me how she had taken a day off from school because she had not been able to bring herself to write an essay the night before.
She did not end up beginning her essay until the morning after her day off.
Some determined students have put their lives in the hands of their friends and asked them to change their password until they have completed a crucial assignment or studied for an exam.
Others have even asked their parents to take away some of their technological distractions.
For the vast majority of students who grew up with the quick gratification Silicon Valley has bestowed upon the youth of the twenty first century, technological addiction has always been and remains a struggle.
Time of article completion: 6:23 AM.

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Why We’re Addicts http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/why-were-addicts/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/why-were-addicts/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 10:00:58 +0000 Brittany Bishop http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5131 Almost everyone has a compulsion. Whether it’s obsessive cleaning, nail-biting, or even chewing gum, compulsions are a natural aspect of human life. While many urges result from harmful and chemically addicting drugs, an ever-growing epidemic of psychophysical ‘€and sometimes unnoticeable’€compulsive disorders exist in everyday life.
While observing a compulsion, one must look at both the emotional connection to the act and any sections of the brain that are unusually abnormal centers for certain activities.
Every habit has an emotional origin. When we find ourselves in situations that make us nervous or scared, we develop compulsions. Even though most of us dislike and want to cease our habits, we are inclined to repeat them due to the relief the action has brought us in the past.
Sometimes even the guilt of performing the habit increases your stress level and drives you to repeat it again.
No matter what we do, whether it’s ridding ourselves of all germs or checking Facebook, we relieve stress in the most addicting and inescapable manners.
Although many compulsions result from nervousness, compulsions can become more serious and become routine activities, turning into an unmanageable burden in a person’s life.
For instance, one may need to touch a door handle three times before allowing oneself to pass through, while another may have to carry around hand sanitizer and use purifying wipes on objects before touching them.
According to neurobiology teacher Jordan Kraus, obsessive-compulsive behavior is definitely neurologically based.
“The disorder is the result of differences in how someone’s brain is wired and the amount of neurotransmitters their brain makes or how those neurotransmitters bind to receptors in their brain, Kraus said.
In patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), areas of the brain associated with anxiety, habit formation, skill learning, and irregular chemical levels in the brain are affiliated with the condition.
The chemical abnormality causes specific circuits in the brain to stimulate the same reaction by continuous triggering.
Whether these chemicals cause or correlate with OCD is still unknown, but once the affects take place, they aid in the continuation of the compulsive behavior.
Many of these compulsions can result from genetic encoding that naturally creates very apprehensive and tense people.
“Certainly biting your nails would be signs that one was anxious or uptight, Kraus said. “Absolutely everything is encoded in our DNA, even [traits like biting your nails].
Along with genetics, these urges may stem from uneasiness or the effects of past events.
Some last a few years while others last a lifetime.
Adolescents tend to maintain habits until they reach the point in their lives when they feel stable, or when they finally conquer their fears.
“Many of the addictions among adolescents, like caffeine and nail biting, are anxiety-induced, and so it’s an OCD also, but [resulting from] the pressure of life or school, psychology teacher Lily Eng said.
Contrarily, when young children are subjected to highly stressful situations, the neurotransmitters released can physically change their brains permanently.
These high levels of stress usually result in diagnosable medical disorders such as multiple personality disorder or abusive behavior, but they can also result in subconscious fears that trigger compulsions.
The real issue with these compulsions is how to rid oneself of them. If you have an anxiety disorder, like OCD, psychiatrists can easily prescribe medication that corrects imbalances in the brain.
If the habits are stress-related, relieving stress with meditation or working to face your fears can solve the problem.

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Technology at its worst http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/technology-at-its-worst/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/technology-at-its-worst/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:02:29 +0000 Amanda Sands http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4801 While we were all enjoying our Wednesday two weeks ago, perhaps sitting through long-block math or realizing there were actually three classes left instead of two, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River and died.

Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, had gone to his RA complaining of his roommate, Dharun Ravi, who had used his webcam to record Clementi’s intimate activity with another man days prior to the suicide. Ravi and another Rutgers student, Molly Wei, watched the encounter from another room.

Ravi reportedly frequently updated gossip about Clementi via Twitter, including an invitation to “anyone with iChat to videochat him regarding a second public streaming of Clementi’s romantic engagement: “Yes it’s happening again, he Tweeted.

Then, the next day, police found Clementi’s wallet and cell phone on the George Washington Bridge. The day after that, a body washed up near the Columbia University boathouse and was identified as Tyler Clementi.

Gay rights activists, friends of Ravi and Wei, law enforcement officials, and University spokespeople all assessed the tragedy slightly differently. But for those of us who didn’t know Clementi, who maybe don’t belong to any of these groups’€how are we affected?
There’s an aspect of the story that connects us all, regardless of where our sympathies lie: technology. How is new media culture transforming us? Is the ability to, say, secretly video someone and then broadcast the footage on the Internet, destroying our moral compass?

Many people enthusiastically shout YES, with the fear that if we don’t do something soon, generations that grew up with this technology will begin to use it for evil. Others pin youths’ unethical behavior on human flaw’€technology is powerful, and we have the choice to use it either as a helpful tool or as a vicious weapon.

Here at South, students’ witness cyber bullying all across the web.

More specifically, kids use Facebook as a tool to create an unsafe environment with cruel comments and untruthful claims. According to senior Joe Step, childish jokes online can be misinterpreted and lead to hurt feelings. “[Poking fun] can often be misconstrued and people can get offended, Step said.

“People are targeted by statuses, senior Kirby Howell said. “I’ve seen full out fights on [Facebook] photos.

According to research company Pear Analytics, “pointless babble and “conversational Tweets make up almost 80% of all Tweets originating from the United States, or written in English. Among those is Ravi’s string of Tweets about his roommate.
This begs the question: How many other Tweets out there are as potentially harmful as Ravi’s were? It’s a free country; there is no limit to what can be revealed over the Internet.

But if some things, like Ravi’s Tweets and his webcam footage, cause so much harm, it becomes difficult to confidently support the original intention of sites like Twitter, applications like iChat, or inventions like the webcam.

New Jersey officials are investigating the nature of the incident; privacy charges against Ravi and Wei carry up to five years in jail, and the case still remains to be classified as a hate crime.

Regardless, the events leading up to Clementi’s death have shed light on some uses of modern technology that have yet to be managed.

If nothing else, Clementi taught us a lesson when he died. Just hours prior to his suicide, Clementi updated his Facebook status: “jumping off the gw bridge sorry.

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New bits and bytes for South computers http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/new-bits-and-bytes-for-south-computers/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/new-bits-and-bytes-for-south-computers/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:01:11 +0000 Dayun Keum http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4803 In an effort to foster 21st century skills and ensure that students have access to adequate technology resources, the Information Technology (IT) Department worked on a significant technology upgrade over the summer.
This upgrade resulted, in part, from a greater discussion about equity between North and South, given the wide range of resources that North will enjoy because of new construction funding. In particular, administrators noted that North received a number of new technology-related resources, including desktop and laptop computers, interactive whiteboards, and other instructional resources.
As a result, the School Committee voted to fund approximately $200,000 to upgrade South’s aging technology resources, which were installed nearly a decade ago during the school’s renovation. These funds are surplus from the FY10 budget.
A discussion about South’s technology needs and priorities began last spring, when the school’s Technology Committee examined the existing technology at South. Out of this discussion came a list of priorities for getting South up-to-date, including replacing old computer labs and introducing new equipment like document cameras.
With the increasing use of digital tools in South teachers’ curricula, it was clear to the Technology Committee that the old computers – which frequently froze and broke down – and obsolete software was not conducive to fostering students’ 21st century skills.
Before school started, the IT Department installed all new hardware and software in the Cutler Lab, Arts Lab, and one of the library’s laptop carts. These improvements will allow each set of computers to be utilized in a way not possible with the previous technology.
The Cutler Lab is now used as a main component of computer science and statistics classes.
“The new Cutler lab has allowed me to have a computer science class in a lab instead of using an old set of laptops on a cart, calculus and computer science teacher Margery Waldron said. “Last year students were very frustrated by the slowness of the laptops and lack of internet access¦ and [were] frequently losing all their work when the laptop batteries died.  This year, students can securely save their work using their Active Directory accounts.
Music, photo, and theatre classes now use the Arts Lab, previously known as the Music Lab. This lab, in addition to having new computers, also received updated USB piano keyboards and a variety of specialty software for writing and recording music, digital photo editing, and theatre production design.
“Now I spend very little time fixing computer problems and a whole lot of time teaching students. Our software has many more sounds and [is] overall easier for students to learn and to [easily] make really authentic sounding music, said music teacher Ben Youngman. “I think the students are having a better experience and I know that I am having a better experience.
The new library laptop cart came as a huge relief to the librarians, who recognized that students were at a clear disadvantage using the old laptops that were in the two library classrooms. When students came with their classes to do research, slow and malfunctioning computers made it difficult to access online resources and create final projects.
 “The new laptops are 50 times faster and allow me not to deal with other students messing up the computers used collectively by all students and faculty, senior David Itkin said. “They allow me to make the most out of my library experience.
Instructional Technology Specialist Brian Hammel believes that these laptop carts are “useful and convenient, allowing students to use technology without leaving the classroom.
Over the next month, new computers will also be installed in the Goldrick Lab, the second library laptop cart, and the History department laptop cart. The Goldrick Lab and History cart will feature special software that complements the U.S. and world history curriculums.
In addition to upgrading computer labs and carts, a number of document cameras were purchased for math and science classrooms, and will be installed shortly. These cameras, which are modern versions of the overhead projectors used to project images and text, are capable of zooming in very close without deteriorating image quality. They can also be connected to a computer for further scanning and saving options.
Hammel noted that, with these cameras, teachers will be able to “take pictures [of course material]¦and put the pictures up on their websites.
In addition to the purchase and installation of new equipment, the IT Department has also introduced a new computer access system, allowing students to log in with their own “Active Directory usernames and passwords on all new computers.
Students now cannot change or delete other students’ work. Also, students are able to securely save their documents from one computer and then access them on any other computer in the building using “StudentHome. This eliminates the need to save files on a flash drive or in e-mails.
“I think the new [login and saving system] is¦easy to follow, junior Masha Uglova said. “[It] is a very efficient way to do schoolwork without having to worry about losing it on a computer that anyone has access to.

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Tech Ed reboots http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/tech-ed-reboots/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/tech-ed-reboots/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:00:08 +0000 Aspa Akylas http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4808 Until the beginning of this year, Newton South students enrolled in career and tech ed classes relied on bulky, prehistoric computers from 1999 running on Windows 98 for their projects. In November, a fresh batch of computers will be set up and ready for student use. Say goodbye to old, overweight computers and floppy disks.
As technology and engineering electives do not appear the most popular at Newton South, students in these classes certainly represent a minority group.
Graphics and technical education teacher Matt Briggs, stated his frustration: “I have been [teaching] here for almost twenty years, and all the time I watch teachers and students pass by my classroom and I hear them say, ‘ËœI thought that was a closet.’
According to Briggs, the concealed location of the technology classroom (back of the school by the auditorium) plays a big role in ensuring small class sizes. Before the renovation eight years ago, the entrance by the auditorium was Newton South’s main entrance, daily exposing the technology classroom to the student body.
In addition to the classroom’s hidden location, Briggs suspects that the outdated technology in the engineering lab also encouraged students to shy away from taking his course.
The Career and Tech Ed Department has attempted to upgrade the computers for a while, but without a department head, it was difficult to crusade for the expensive needs of the department.
After years of struggling to purchase new computers and software, Briggs and fellow tech ed teacher Jennifer Stephens, are excited about to break in the new technology with their students.
The updated technology and engineering lab will house 22 computers in total: twelve newly purchased, and ten imported from Newton North. Though not in mint condition, the ten used computers will exceed the capabilities of their elderly counterparts.
All of the computers in the lab will be fully equipped with Adobe CS5 Design Premium, the latest and finest graphics software available. Next year, career and tech ed hopes to inherit additional iMacs from Newton North.
Costly and sophisticated, the Adobe design software offers unlimited possibilities for technology and engineering students. The benefits of this software range from remarkable art features, ideal for designing standout projects, to numerous shortcuts crafted to significantly increase efficiency.
Components include realistic painting effects, easy 3D extrusions, and fluid vector painting. This flashy software will include Truer Edge selection technology, simplified object selection, convenient asset handling, and more efficient CSS-based layouts.
And with professional-quality graphic software, who needs a 200 million dollar renovation?

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