Turkey Day Dancers
Three Dazzlers perform in the Thanksgiving Parade
4875 Grandiflora Road, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 33418
Theater, pool considered as possible additions
December 14, 2012
Responding well to treatment, Doane remains hopeful By Annelise Hillmann Staff Writer
Senior Randell Doane, who continues to battle the rare disease of aplastic anemia, has begun to respond to therapy and has started on the path to recovery. If Doane continues to recuperate, his medical team believes he may return to school in the spring. Aplastic anemia affects the body’s ability to produce red and white blood cells. Doane
has been receiving treatment at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital, which has been trying to find him a matching bone marrow donor. However, Doane may not need the transplant because his body has begun to again produce new, healthy cells. Three out of every one million people in the United States face the same challenge. But not all of these patients are so lucky as to find perfect matches or to respond without grafts. The National Bone Marrow
Registry has found a bone marrow donor for Doane. After a search spanning several weeks, this discovery could possibly save Doane’s life in the event that his body stops creating new cells. “The National Bone Marrow Registry reported to me ... that [it has] found a perfect twelve out of twelve match for me,” Doane said. The potential donor is a male, between twenty and thirty years old and even has Doane’s blood type. This person See Doane page A4
The Doane Diaries
Photo courtesy of Moya Photography
Doane has been in close contact with Benjamin, as he has communicated with students and teachers via email and Facebook. He has messages of support taped across his hospital room, and he faxes homework to the front office nearly every day.
Senior Randell Doane has written a series of truly touching diaries documenting his experience, which are printed beginning on page A10. You need not look any further for inspiration this holiday season.
Photo courtesy of Kristen Davis
Mr. Baucom Skyped with Doane, who has been receiving treatment in Milwaukee, during a Homecoming Week assembly.
Science Department to expand course offerings
v A wider range of topics are to be covered during both the school year and summer. By Emily Dunkel Graphics Editor
The Science Department has added a number of new courses for both the summer and school year in an effort to expand the curriculum. Beginning this year, the Summer STEM Academy will offer courses in science, technology, and mathematics to middle and upper school students. Developed by Department Chair Dr. Darryl Martino, the program will provide students with the opportunity to broaden their interests in the sciences. Each course will take place over a span of three weeks, with the exception of Physics, which is a six-week long course. The summer-only courses will include Introduction to Data Analysis, Programming, Topics in Coastal Ecosystems, and Topics in Coral Reef Ecology. The Data Analysis course
It Ain’t Easy Being Eezy A look into DJ Big Eezy, aka junior Ethan Kaslow page A16
is designed to help prepare students for AP Statistics or scientific research and covers the main concepts of statistics as well as skills for collecting and working with data. The course in programming is meant to build on the other computer programming course offered during the year and will help prepare students interested in taking AP Computer Science. Topics in Coastal Ecosystems will provide students with the opportunity to learn about the coastal systems here in Florida. The course will extend beyond the classroom by allowing students field experience like snorkeling and excursions to Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Lastly, Topics in Coral Reef Ecology will teach students about the ecology of coral reefs as well as current issues related to their survival. In taking the course, students will be required to gain
SCUBA certification and also participate in an overnight trip to Big Pine Key. By offering some courses that will only be available during the summer, Dr. Martino hopes to entice students into registering. “I am introducing these courses to give students more options and to generate interest and excitement about science, math, and technology,” he said. In addition to the courses available only during the summer, the STEM Academy will also offer courses required for graduation that are also offered during the school year. By taking these required courses over the summer, students will have more room in their school-year schedules to explore other areas of interest. Such courses include Human Systems Biology, Physics, and Computer Apps A. Unlike years past, the Summer Physics course has a new enrollment requirement
that states students must be rising seniors entering either Finite Math or Pre-Calculus. The Science Department has also added new computer courses to the curriculum. Computer science teacher Mr. Gregory Bickerman said, “The new computer curriculum will have less of a focus on learning to use existing software applications, and more on logical reasoning and problem solving skills that are at the heart of computer science.” Mr. Bickerman believes the current computer class required for graduation, Computer Apps A, needs updating. “I feel the current required computer science course is outdated and largely unnecessary,” he said. “Its goal is to familiarize students with the Microsoft suite of applications. However, the average Benjamin School freshman is already quite comfortable with Microsoft
News: A1-A5 School Life: A12-A15 Opinions: A6-A7 The Scene: A16-A17 Spotlight: A10-A11 Sports: A18-A20 Spyglass: B1 - B8
Word and proficient with Microsoft PowerPoint.” An additional course, Special Topics in Computer Science, is meant for students who have already taken all of the available computer courses. The direction of study will be determined largely by the students, who will be provided with the opportunity to explore advance computer science concepts. Mr. Bickerman’s motivation in introducing these courses is to give students an insight into what computer science is really about. “Computer science has the potential to be a fun and rewarding field of study,” he said. “Students just need to be given the chance to experience it for themselves.” With the additions to the science curriculum, Mr. Bickerman and Dr. Martino are working to increase interest in the sciences and hope that, as Mr. Bickerman said, “Students might have a chance to find their calling.” v
Student Athletes A record four baseball players commit to play in college page A18
Page A2 December 14, 2012
The Pharcyde View more news @ PHARBLOG.COM
Frequency of intolerant remarks on campus surprises administrators, diversity officials v Individual
accounts and student surveys tell a troubling tale.
By Ben Greenspan Copy Editor
A recent Pharcyde survey revealing that 124 students, or 71.4% of those who responded, said they have heard “racist, bigoted, or intolerant remarks at school” challenges the school’s claim to be a diverse and accepting community. The Pharcyde decided to conduct the survey after learning about stories from students like Derek Williams*, an AfricanAmerican who says he hears the “n-word” about once a week. “Students try to say the ‘n-word’ in a joking fashion and they say it with their peers, but it’s still not acceptable either way,” he said. “I’ve heard about 20 different people say it, and who knows how many say it behind my back.” The same survey also found that 43 students have had “intolerant remarks” directed towards them. Williams has said that he has been called the “nword” about ten times from students spanning all grade levels. “I tell them to stop, but they think if they use the less provocative form of the word that it’s better. At least, that’s what they think,” he said. The “less provocative” form that Williams referred to is ending the “n-word” with an “-a” instead of an “-er,” the former being a usage commonly said in songs and movies. In response to Williams’ claims of being the victim of numerous attacks, Assistant Advisor to the Diversity Club Sra. Ivette Casiano said, “I’m shocked. I’m truly shocked. In all my years of working here, I’ve never heard that word used. But if it is, the students need to be vocal and tell someone.” Williams did say that he had reached “the brink” and that he is about to report the attacks to the school’s administration if they do not stop very soon. The remarks, however, are not limited to race. Julie Robinson*, a Jewish student, is a vic-
KELLY MORAN / Staff Illustrator
Bigoted or otherwise intolerant remarks leave students’ mouths with the force of fire.
tim of Anti-Semitic comments. “I hear ‘Jew jokes’ about once a week,” she said. “They’re usually about money or Jews being cheap. Sometimes they’re about Jews being un-athletic. I’ve heard all of the stereotypes, and it’s really annoying.” Although most of the comments that Robinson hears are from the same student, she said that this student may be influencing the opinions of others. “[The bully] really thinks that the jokes are funny, but they’re just not true. And he says things so often that I think people are starting to think that the things he says are true.” Like Williams, Robinson has not reported any wrongdoing to the administration; however, she has refrained for different reasons. “Honestly, I don’t think [the] administration can do anything about it because they just don’t have any control over it. I mean, I could be walking down the hallway with just another person and
they could say something, and [the] administration isn’t going to hear it,” she said. “I’m not going to turn the person in because I don’t want to get him in trouble. He’s just being stupid.” Dean of Students Ms. Suzanne Ball presented a different point of view about the administration’s role in preventing racial and bigoted bullying. “The students need to help the administration because we have to hear about them. Someone has to let us know,” she said. “If some young man is hearing the ‘n-word’ on a regular basis, we need to stop that. The school does not tolerate that at all. That [bully] needs to be disciplined.” Many minority students at the school, however, do not encounter any strong racist feelings and believe that Benjamin is generally a culturally sensitive place. “No one has ever said anything involving my race or that I would consider racist towards Jews or any other religion,” freshman Will LaBo-
vick, a Jewish student who has attended Benjamin since Pre-K, said. “I haven’t even heard that someone has said something intolerant. I think our community is a very non-racist place.” LaBovick, along with other students, believes that the administration, when dealing with any racist situations, should take into account whether the comments were made in a jocular fashion. “I think the administration should approach both students and make sure it wasn’t just a joke first,” he explained. “If it is a joke, the student should be informed about why what he said was wrong and how it is not funny. [The] administration should make sure it doesn’t happen again.” One student who believes that bigoted comments are becoming more acceptable is senior Ryan Rengasawmy, a Guyanese-American student who is not only the subject of racist bullying, but also someone who, nevertheless, says insensi-
tive remarks. “The term ‘fag’ is ignorant, but the use of it really just started as a fad. It doesn’t have the same meaning it used to,” he said. “If I was homosexual, I would be pretty offended. It’s not intended to be harmful, but I’ll admit it’s ignorant.” Director of Multicultural Affairs Mr. Brad Pazant had not been aware of any racism at the Upper School campus until he was informed of the survey’s findings. “I personally have not heard of such a problem at the Upper School, and some administrators feel the same way,” he said. “However, that does not mean it’s not taking place. The school environment tends to be the first or only place where some students, teachers, counselors, principals and others encounter a diverse and varied society. That presents opportunities for enlightenment – and potential for misunderstanding.” Mr. Pazant claimed that this problem will not be easily fixed. “Figuring out what to do about the ugly reality of racism in our communities presents a difficult challenge. There is no single or easy set of instructions that will eliminate racism once and for all,” he said. “Instead, it is something we must continually work against. [The Multicultural Affairs Committee] will be proactive in finding out how to best handle this matter.” Ms. Ball also acknowledged that insensitive comments are said at school. “I’m not denying it doesn’t happen. No matter where you go, you’re going to hear comments. Is it a big problem? I don’t know because we don’t hear anyone complaining about it,” she said. “We will do something as the administration about these issues. It’s all about educating the kids. But nobody should have to feel threatened. Nobody should have to hear those words.” v
*Asterisks indicate the student’s name was changed to protect his or her privacy.
Faculty, administrators comment on student evaluations of teachers By Michael Mullery Staff Writer
Every year Benjamin students receive electronic surveys asking for feedback on their teacher’s performances, but many are unclear about why these surveys are so necessary. Sophomore Patrick Clancy said, “I’ve never completely understood why we do those surveys. I feel as if they don’t really get looked at by the teachers and we are wasting our time doing them.” Offering an answer to Clancy, Spanish teacher Mrs. Marisol Tejera-Mede said in a separate interview, “I think it is important for the students to evaluate a
teacher. [In] that way, a teacher can see how they students really feel about the class and her teaching.” Head of Upper School Mr. Latta Baucom who was asked what the school administrators use these student feedback surveys for, provided further clarity when he said, “Good teachers are always looking for ways to improve themselves and one of the best ways to do that is to seek feedback. Student feedback is particularly important to us. If students take the opportunity seriously, we can gather important observations and suggestions that serve to make our learning environment even stronger.” Mr. Baucom also noted how these sur-
veys would be helpful to him in his own role, saying, “As an administrator I am interested in the feedback as well. I get the chance to observe teachers throughout the year in their classrooms, but it is useful to read thoughtful comments by students about their experiences as well.” He finds the surveys to be very useful. “Last year, I took the opportunity to meet individually with each member of the faculty during the second semester,” he said. “In those one-on-one conversations I was able to talk with some of the teachers about various aspects of the feedback from students.” Contrary to some student’s beliefs, these surveys are not administrated in
order to seek out ‘bad’ teachers. Mr. Baucom explained by saying, “We have great teachers at The Benjamin School. In fact, our teachers are the most impressive group of professionals that I have had the opportunity to work with during my career in education.” In order to be able to continue improving teaching, Mr. Baucom urged students to, “take the opportunity to submit thoughtful and honest responses to the questions posed in the surveys.” He added, “It would be very useful to conduct a second survey at the end of the year. We did not do that last year, but I am strongly considering doing it this year.” v
December 14, 2012 Page
Dance team captains perform in Thanksgiving Parade By Ashlyn Sendler Staff Writer
This Thanksgiving’s break, seniors and captains of the dance team Emma Brooks, Julia Adle, and Sammi Schlechter, had the privilege of performing in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The girls left Nov. 17 for a weeklong trip to New York City. “It was my first time ever going to New York. I actually started crying on the plane because I was so excited,” Adle said. The minute they arrived at their hotel, they got straight to work, having only four days to learn the “Varsity Spirit Dance” routine. They rehearsed either early in the morning or during the evening. The rehearsals were different from anything they had ever experienced. “It was crazy. There were almost 800 girls all crammed into the Hilton’s grand ballroom. It tended to get hectic at times but the instructors and staff were great and managed to run well-organized rehearsals, ” Brooks said. The girls were a part of the “Spirit of America” program that included much more than just the opportunity to perform in the parade. They saw the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular; attended Bring It On: The Musical, climbed to the top of the Empire State Building, and visited the Statue of Liberty. “We also had a lot of time to go shopping and eat at a lot of the unique restaurants in the city. It was fun to live the city life for a week,” Brooks said. After four days of tedious and long rehearsals, they were finally ready for the parade. “The day of the parade we had a wakeup call at four in the morn-
Photos courtesy of Sammi Schlechter
Above: The girls spent an unorthodox Thanksgiving away from home in New York City. Right: Brooks (center), Adle (bottom right), and Schlechter (top right) huddle with their fellow dancers before the parade. It was 32 degrees during their morning performance.
ing, had to get dressed, and be out of the hotel and ready to go by five,” Schlechter said. Dressed in little red dresses, with white pompoms in hand, the girls all lined up on the street to await the beginning of the parade. “It was absolutely freezing, 32 degrees to be exact. And wearing tiny dresses was not the ideal outfit for a Floridian to be wearing in this type of weather. We all were huddled together trying to keep warm, but by the time the parade started and we performed, I couldn’t even think about
being cold,” Schlechter said. The parade started at nine and they were the first to perform. After the girls danced, they then had to walk the remaining three miles of the parade, and got to finish off the parade by accompanying and cheering for Santa Claus’ appearance. “The parade was really fun; the opportunity of getting to dance in the parade was amazing. It was a great experience that I will never forget,” Adle said. Surprisingly, their Thanksgiving had just begun. Coincidently it was
Schlechter’s 18th birthday as well, so the girls decided to celebrate by spending the day in the city. Each girl used that evening to spend time with their families. Brooks and Schlechter went with their parents and friends to Del Fresco, a fancy restaurant in the city, for dinner. Adle went to visit her aunt and cousin, at a small apartment in the city where they all cooked a nice traditional Thanksgiving dinner. “Even though it wasn’t the most traditional Thanksgiving, it was by far my favorite.” Brooks said. v
By Andy Weir
Despite the ease of collecting them, Mrs. Pierman is disappointed with the lack of pop tabs collected by students. She has been seen soliciting pop tabs from students during lunchtime in past weeks, yet she sees her efforts yielding little results. “I’ve actually been shocked by the lack of student participation in the collection.... We might extend [the drive] if students bring in more pop tabs,” Mrs. Pierman said. Facing a similar issue, the Student Council has organized a video games and electronics drive for Ronald McDonald House Charities, which distributes them to their many patients. Student Council sent a quilt composed of Benjamin related shirts to Doane in Milwaukee. “It was Student Council’s idea, in fact, it came from Ellie Jamison, who always has great ideas,” Student Council Advisor Mrs. Phyllis Wissner said. “She suggested that we collect all kinds of shirts from Benjamin: a shirt from Homecoming freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years. Glenda Donato, who works at school, does a fabulous job of making quilts, so we asked her if she could do it. She told us how many shirts to get, and it was fabulous.” The last of these drives is a collection of toys for local children with cancer and similar diseases. The drive was organized by the sophomore class under the leadership of sophomore Bobby Ferruggia in partnership with the local organization POST. Students have brought in pre-selected toys, and the drive concluded on Dec. 10. v
Holiday season marked by various charity drives Staff Writer
EMILY DUNKEL / Graphics Editor
Sophomore Bobby Ferruggia has enlisted the help of his class with a toy drive. They will be presented to local children with cancer and similar diseases.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Kathy Aiello
Student Council sent a hand-made quilt to senior Randell Doane, who is being treated for a serious illness in Milwaukee and has been out of school.
Students, parents, and faculty have organized a variety of drives to benefit Superstorm Sandy victims, the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and local children in need. Since November, four different charitable events have been held collecting video games, toys, soda pop tabs, and relief supplies. The first drive, a two-day relief drive for victims of Superstorm Sandy, occurred on November 8 and 9 at the Lower/ Middle School campus. Parents Michelle Grande and Jacqueline Weisser organized the drive with help from The Berlin Family Foundation and Driving Miss Crazy, a local not-for-profit organization. All three organizations worked with the Nassau County, Long Island foundation The INN to provide relief supplies like non-perishable food items and toiletries. Meanwhile, two upper school organizations planned two drives to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities, one of which senior Randell Doane is staying at while he undergoes chemotherapy to treat his Aplastic Anemia. In recent weeks, Club F.A.C.T. has been collecting pop tabs, the small aluminum tabs on the top of soda cans. The club is sending these pop tabs to recycling facilities where they are weighed. The facility then sends a check to the Ronald McDonald House Charity for the total value of the pop tabs. “It’s such a small thing that can make a big difference for these charities,” science teacher and drive organizer Mrs. Amanda Pierman said.
Page A4 December 14, 2012
Community comes together in support of ailing senior From Doane page A1
EMILY DUNKEL / Graphics Editor
Senior Mitch Powell donates blood after Doane sent an impassioned plea, noting that donations save lives like his. Doane said he had received more than 25 blood or platelet transfusions.
lives in the United States and was just recently put on the registry. “I can’t help but wonder if the bone marrow drive that you all held for me is where this donor is coming from,” he said. “If so, then that act of community service could very well have saved my life.” The Benjamin community has banded together this year to help Doane in a variety of ways. They have volunteered to be screened as possible bone marrow donors, send cards to decorate his walls, and hosted drives to aid children with similar life-threatening diseases. Searching for a cure to such a rare disease, Be The Match Foundation® directed the bone marrow screening for Doane in the upper school library Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, after a screening at the lower school campus on Oct. 24. The screenings accepted the approximately 200 parents and faculty members who volunteered. Doane’s English teacher Dr. John Peruggia attended the bone marrow screening because he thought that this was the right action to make while keeping in mind Doane’s big heart. After donating, Dr. Peruggia wore an “I Signed Up to Be Someone’s Cure” sticker, which many Benjamin parents noticed. While Dr. Peruggia made a deliberate effort to at-
tend the screening, others spontaneously chose to volunteer on the spur of the moment. “Maybe one or more of them actually walked over to the library and gave too – that would be a success for me,” he said hopefully. In addition to the screenings, Benjamin set in motion the plans for its 2012-2013 school-wide community service project that will benefit Doane and children who share the same disease at the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital. Director of Student Services PK 3 – 8 Mrs. Susan Poncy explained a program christened Randell’s Cart. “[This] will be well-stocked with donated DVDs, video games and books for children and teenagers. It will be rolled from room to room in the hospitals, delivering these items for the patients' entertainment,” she said. Club FACT (Fighting Against Cancer Together) is dedicated to helping cancer patients in the Benjamin community by collecting soda pop tabs until Dec. 10, 2012, to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses. Senior CoPresident of Club FACT Kristen Davis feels a personal connection to the cause, saying, “When I was diagnosed with leukemia as a kid and going through chemotherapy, I loved having support from my friends, family, and school.”
Support even continues on a more personal level as several of Doane’s friends keep in daily communication with him, sending homework and class notes via email. At the Ronald McDonald House, where families are allowed to stay with their children, Doane maintains his high GPA and turns in all of his homework on time. Keeping up grades while battling a life-threatening disease is a difficult accomplishment for any student, but he has been able to fax his homework to the front office every day. Not only does Doane find time to do schoolwork, but he also tutors younger patients at the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital who are admitted for longterm sicknesses. As he fights this disease, Doane has kept a journal in which he describes his thoughts and hopes. Within the Benjamin community, the donation of time and medical generosity shown over the past few months reflects the level of care Benjamin students and teachers show. Davis summed up the reaction of Benjamin, saying, “I think the Benjamin School is doing a wonderful job of making sure Randell knows that we have not forgotten him.” With the recent good news, Doane is hopeful that he will return to Benjamin in the spring to continue classes. v
SNAPSHOT: Pathfinder Nominees
EMILY DUNKEL / Graphics Editor
Bottom row from left: Samantha Kochman (Literature); Max Seiss (Academic Excellence); pictured: Randell Doane (Mathematics); Ben Germano (Communications); Carolyn Quigley (Foreign Language). Middle row from left: Liam Fine (History/Political Science); Jake Reitman (Forensics/Speech); Lindsey Slavin (Community Involvement); Adrienne Propp (Science); Hannah Gross (Art). Top Row from left: Michael Fishman (Computer Science); Jordi Zindel (Instrumental Music); Isabelle Haddad (Vocal Music); Noah Presser (Drama); Kody Ruedisili (Sports).
December 14, 2012 Page
Benjamin boasts best private school AP pass rate By Riley Burke Staff Writer
When it comes to 2012 AP scores, no other independent high school in the state reports a higher single-year passing rate than The Benjamin School. Benjamin students passed 91 percent of the exams taken, surpassing results earned by students at such schools as American Heritage-Plantation, Pine Crest and St. Andrews. Benjamin also had a higher passing rate in 2008-2011 than the highest performing AP programs in Palm Beach County public schools, including Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Suncoast Community High School and Atlantic Community High School. In response to such successful results, Director of College Counseling Ms. Kristen Learner said, “The scores say a lot about effort and intelligence. They also say a lot about hard work and determination from both students and teachers. It takes a great deal of time and effort from faculty and students to continually achieve excellence in the AP program. It’s another fine example of TBS living up to its motto ‘second to none.’” Of the 463 examinations taken by Benjamin students in 18 various subjects in May 2012, 91 percent earned passing scores of 3 or better. Sixty-seven percent, or 308 of those scores, were 4s or 5s. Broken down further: 166, or 36 percent, were scores of 5, and 142, or 31 percent, were scores of 4. In addition, a total of 92 Benjamin students were named AP Scholars, including: • 23 AP Scholars (students who receive a 3 or better on three or more APs) • 17 AP Scholars with Honor (students who receive an average of at least a 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on four or more exams) • 43 AP Scholars with Distinction (students who receive an average of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more exams) • 9 National AP Scholars (United States students who receive an average of at least 4.0 on all AP exams taken and
EMILY DUNKEL / Graphics Editor
TBS outperformed its competitors with its AP pass rate. Data was collected from each of the schools' websites. Asterisks indicate that 2011 was the most recent reporting date. Not all schools reported the percentage of 4's and 5's earned.
scores of 4 or higher on eight or more exams). With regard to the AP results and comparisons, Benjamin college counselor Mr. Jeffrey Wong, a former admissions officer at Brandeis University, explained that this new information helps the college counselors when they talk to admission officers from various colleges. “Every time an admissions representative comes to The Benjamin School, we talk about how well our students do on AP exams. This signals to the representatives not only that our students are prepared for college, but also for the rigor of the classes at Benjamin,” Mr. Wong said. “If so many students are doing so well on AP exams, then it's clear to these representatives that AP classes must be difficult and the grades students receive in these classes truly must be earned.” Ms. Learner added, “The college counseling office will continue to share
EMILY DUNKEL / Graphics Editor
Benjamin’s pass rate compares favorably to global and Florida averages.
the AP information with colleges and universities in the school profile and during conversations with admissions counselors. The diversity of courses of-
fered paired with the outstanding scores signals to colleges that Benjamin is a serious school with a serious and demanding college preparatory program.” v
Theater, pool, field house weighed as future building additions Staff Writer
Administrators and the Board of Trustees are considering building a theater, an aquatics center, and a field house, but a recent Pharcyde survey shows that students have a clear preference of a theater being built rather than a pool. The plans for these buildings are not new. They were drafted as part of the Upper School plan 13 years ago, but the school planned to build them at different phases. "Part of the original site development plan had a number of buildings identified that were not scheduled to be built in the first phase," Chief Financial Officer Mr. Frank Cavaliero said. Until now, Head of School Mr. Robert Goldberg has chosen to focus more on the educational programs, such as the Mandarin Chinese Program and the Video/Media Production Center. However,
the school is in the process of writing a new strategic plan that shows what direction Benjamin wants to go in in the next five years, including construction of the three projects. Students seem to want an improved campus infrastructure to be included in that plan. In a Pharcyde survey of 171 students, 60% of respondents said that Benjamin needs to improve the facilities at the Upper School to stay competitive with other schools. Between having a pool or a theater, 56% of respondents thought that a theater was more important. A field house was not included in the survey, but individual surveys of students shows that most of them do not know what it is. Some students questioned if the school has enough space for these buildings, but Mr. Cavaliero addressed those concerns. “Next to the arts building is a big grassy area,” he said. “That’s where the performing arts center is plotted out to be, and next to the gym
of students identified a theater as the most needed addition to the Upper School. is where the field house is supposed to be. And behind the bleachers of the football field there is a grassy lot; that’s where the aquatic center is supposed to be.” Each of the three buildings adds to the school, but in different ways. An auditorium would replace the gym as the meeting place for school assemblies. Students in the arts would also make use of it. A swimming pool would serve the swim team, and a field house would be used for storing athletic equipment, providing additional locker space, and offer a multi-purpose floor used for sports such as basketball and volleyball so that more simultaneous practices and games could take
place, and as a result, students could get home earlier at the end of the day. Students differ about which should get built first. Senior Jasmine Adams, a member of the Drama Club, said, “We should definitely have an auditorium. Most high schools have one and in order for us to be a more innovative campus we should have an auditorium for the Upper School." She added, “I think that an auditorium is probably more important only because it can be used by more people. I feel like only the swim team will be using the pool or maybe PE classes but an auditorium would be a lot more beneficial.” In contrast, freshman Blake Henderson, a member of the swim team, said, “Well, I think the swimming pool is more useful because the Benjamin swim team could use it for practice and it could help them with their ability to win more district meets.”
As to which of the three buildings might actually be built first, Mr. Goldberg said, “We’re trying to envision with professional assistance what these things could look like and what needs they could accommodate. Sometimes I think maybe the athletics center would have more of an impact and touch more kids. Sometimes I think the performing arts center [should be built]. They’re all of equal importance.” However, administrators are not ready to commit to answering questions about details because the developments are still up in the air. The process can be complicated, as Mr. Goldberg explained, when he said that it takes time “getting to know a family who may have a particular interest in a project the school is hoping to develop, asking for a donation for that project, and continuing to track the progress of that project with the donor family so that the donor clearly sees where his or her money has gone and where the school is, related to the progress toward completion.”
By Niki Hendi
Page A6 December 14, 2012
The extra 30 minutes on exams is great; we hope teachers don’t abuse it.
The Pharcyde Jeers
Grand Inquisitors Regimented checking of girls’ skirt lengths is an unnecessary intrusion.
The opinion of The Pharcyde
Parents: Listen Up
v Administrators should not be involved in students’ out-of-school lives, a fact parents need to remember. In exchange for a hefty tuition, families receive an array of benefits associated with a Benjamin education. One of these, however, is not an aroundthe-clock watchdog of student activity. Students and administrators seem to understand the complexities of the relationship between students’ in-school and out-of-school lives, but, by The Pharcyde’s calculation, some parents are having trouble. We urge all parents to recognize the proper role of administrators, a role that does not include monitoring students’ out-of-school behavior. We bring this up in light of a particularly undesirable occurrence during Homecoming Week that was prompted by parental interference. After receiving phone calls about an impending party after the Homecoming Dance, administrators felt they had no other choice but to call the house of the hosting student. While we do not recognize it as administrators’ role to address such a situation, we understand the phone calls put them in a difficult position. We consider it unfair to all involved: unfair to both administrators and to the student in question. The belief that administrators should do the heavy lifting regarding out-of-school incidents is misguided, regardless of the informers’ motives. Phone calls such as these serve only to belittle students in the eyes of their administrators, hardly a noble cause. Even if the informers acted only out
of concern for students, in effect, saving them from themselves, the situation can still be better handled outside of school. Parents directly confronting other parents and leaving the school out is a better option. We are not alone in our assessment. Dean of Students Ms. Sue Ball, who was personally involved in the recent Homecoming situation, said, “Parents need to call each other, especially when we’re talking about a party. If you know your kid is going to a party, then you can call those parents directly and talk about it. We try very hard not to get involved in outside activities. That’s not our business.” The Pharcyde is incredibly pleased to stand in agreement with Ms. Ball. Whistleblowing actions like these only serve to weaken the Benjamin community by putting students and administrators in positions they do not want to be in. Administrators do not want to be made aware of every student’s out-of-school activities, and students have no interest in administrators knowing the details of their free time. This is not a suggestion that either The Pharcyde or administrators condone underage drinking or other illegal endeavors. However, we promote the privacy of students to the extent of maintaining the detachment between in-school and out-of-school behavior. This is also not a suggestion that parents or stu-
dents should stand idly by if they know of students endangering themselves in their out of school pursuits; but rather, a forceful request that such a situation be addressed parent-to-parent or student-tostudent. We insist that, in the future, instances concerning out-of-school behavior be handled out of school. This ensures the entire Benjamin community will function as it should and puts students in the best possible position to succeed.
Editors’ Note Keen readers may recognize some of the language in this article from an editorial that was written two years ago in response to a similar incident. An anonymous sender mailed a letter to then Dean of Students Mr. Jimmy Clark containing pictures, presumably from Facebook, of students posing with alcohol outside of school. We argued then, as we argue now, that such a situation and others like it can be better handled by parent-to-parent or student-to-student confrontations that do not involve school administrators. The Pharcyde takes great care in crafting its editorial language, and, as such, we felt it proper to reuse portions of the previous article given the similarity of the two situations and our intention to maintain consistent editorial policy.
If They Are Jokes, They’re Not Funny
v Benjamin’s hallways are too often filled with remarks deriding minorities, and it needs to stop. The article printed on page A2 “Frequency of intolerant remarks on campus surprises administrators, diversity officials” is disturbing, to say the least. It was a painful subject for The Pharcyde to acknowledge and address, yet you must read it, and we as a whole community must take action to correct the problem. Clearly, minorities of all sorts are verbally abused by the slurs and “jokes” of fellow classmates who are ignorant at best, and racist and bigoted at worst. This unsettling reality has created an intimidating atmosphere for several students, and despite its magnitude, it is the job of our students to fix the problem. As these comments and slurs go largely unobserved by teachers and administrators, it might seem easy to push these remarks aside or deny their existence. We cannot push aside or deny the facts. In the article on page A2, Copy Editor Ben Greenspan spoke to a variety of students ranging from those who have fallen victim to such slurs and see it as a problem, to those who are not as aware. According to the report, one African-American student said that he hears the “n-word” about once a week. Another student too had been victimized by her classmates, claiming that she has been the object of many anti-Semitic comments. The igno-
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rant behavior in the student body does not stop at words, though— it has translated into actions. During Homecoming Week this year, the senior class chose as their class theme the “Señors.” Though their theme was intended to celebrate the Hispanic culture, some students resorted to bigoted demonstrations in an attempt to seek laughter and attention from classmates. On theme day, where most students either wear their class shirt or dress appropriately to match their theme, one senior student attempted to bring a leaf blower into assembly before an administrator confiscated it.
Our school is better than some of our comments would suggest. This is appalling behavior, for which we have no excuse. It is important to note that the root of the problem is within the student body. This is not a result
Editorial Board Lauren Bernick Co-Editor-in-Chief Ben Germano Co-Editor-in-Chief Emily Dunkel Graphics Editor Casey Pearce Managing Editor Ben Greenspan Copy Editor Sam Greenspan Online Editor Dean Sandquist Sports Editor
of the school’s teachings or values; several of our students simply disregard the feelings and perspectives of others. Students, the burden of common courtesy is on you. For those who may think that this does not apply to you, think again. Any derogatory statement about race, sexual orientation, gender, or religion related offends somebody nearby who hears it. Regardless of how commonplace you may think some words like “faggot,” the “n-word,” or “gay” are, these slurs, whether stated maliciously or not, are unacceptable. Yes, Benjamin is in a bubble; that is inevitable given the size and close-knit feel of our community. But students must recognize that classmates, teachers, administrators, and strangers are all people. Regardless of their identity, they all have feelings. Benjamin is not a place for alienating others; it is a place for embracing each other and encouraging one another to be successful. Though we cannot always control the actions of others, we can control their impact. Students, it is your job to look out for one another. Confront the students who are victimizing others. We know you hear these types of remarks; by ignoring them you are contributing to a problem that we cannot take lightly.
Mission Statement The Pharcyde is a student newspaper produced to foster an open dialogue about topics that relate to The Benjamin School. The issues that appear throughout our pages may be light-hearted or serious, but regardless we aim to reflect the diversity of opinion within our school that we value so deeply.
Lexi Cass, Averill Healey, Rachel Smith, Riley Burke, Jerrie James, Juliette Mercadante, Ashlyn Sendler, Paige Sode, Michael Mullery, Andy Weir, Caterina Breuer, Niki Hendi, Annelise Hillmann, Bella Ross, Kathleen Walsh
William Conran Photographer, Liam Fine Photographer, Kelly Moran Illustrator
Membership The Pharcyde is a member of the Florida Scholastic Press Association, American Scholastic Press Association, Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Asscociation. General The Pharcyde, the Upper School newspaper of The Benjamin School, is published six times a year.
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December 14, 2012 Page
Letter to the Editor Mr. Latta Baucom Head of Upper School Two years ago when my family and I were presented with the opportunity to move and join The Benjamin School community, it was a very big decision. Far beyond the professional opportunity it offered me, we were convinced that this school would be the very best place that we could bring our own children to give them the strongest possible learning experience. I can say without hesitation that this has proven to be true. The Benjamin School is a special place filled with good people. Students and teachers alike seem to realize, as I do, that we have a unique opportunity here. We are not a perfect place however. We face challenges at times that require us to work together to correct shortcomings and take this school to a higher level. In this edition of The Pharcyde there are articles and editorial pieces that address concerns about bigotry and hurtful speech by students. It is disappointing to read stories like these because they remind us of human fallibility. I do not believe that we have a school
KELLY MORAN / Staff Illustrator
Let Them Wear Stripes Ave Healey Staff Writer
To be clear, I’m all for the uniform, but it absolutely should not extend to outerwear. Chasing down students for wearing color-blocked sweaters is a waste of the faculty’s already limited time. The other day, senior Lindsey Slavin was kicking desperately on her little scooter to escape Dean of Students Ms. Sue Ball, who was trailing behind shouting something along the lines of, “That is not a solid color!” Passing students, and even the Dean herself, chuckled at the situation. Should a student really be reprimanded for wearing a fuzzy polka-dot sweater? For one, it was freezing that day, and second, Slavin’s outfit was completely un-offensive. I won’t make the argument that finding solid-colored outerwear is difficult; practically every store has a selection of plain sweaters or jackets. The point is that this extra limitation on student dress is unnecessary and inhibiting. Let’s be honest; it is clear that students are feeling constrained when they are forced to express themselves through the patterns on their socks. Not only that, but students blatant-
ly disobey the rule on a daily basis. A student wearing a striped sweater might need to shuffle past Dean Ball, but most teachers will simple turn a blind eye. It seems that the faculty are only half-heartedly committed to this part of the dress-code, but feel obligated to occasionally enforce it. If the administration’s initial goal behind the rules on outerwear was to create the appearance of a unified student body, no need. We are already wearing identical khakis, Benjamin Polo’s and (for the most part) Sperry’s. Patterned sweaters will not throw our community into a disjointed, sloppy turmoil. On the contrary, allowing just a shred more room for self-expression would create a more vibrant and authentic learning environment. That said, it is completely understandable that the school enforce some rules guiding non-uniform apparel. No one could object to a rule prohibiting inappropriate words or graphics on clothing. But as long as students look respectable, more lenient restrictions on outerwear would in no way damage Benjamin’s image. As the faculty begin to more heavily enforce the rules on skirt length, it may be a nice counter balance to move towards a laid-back approach to outerwear. Although the rule has been in place for a long time, changing this aspect of the dress code would be extremely well received by students and cause little to no injury for the school. It is something to consider.
culture that accepts bigotry. When I walk around campus and talk with students and teachers, I don’t get a sense of disharmony. I see students of diverse backgrounds studying and competing together. I watch students and teachers engaged in friendly conversations. This is a campus that promotes open dialogue and mutual respect. I realize that there are times when some students choose to use language or make comments that are insensitive or worse about other students. This is wrong and should never happen. I can assure everyone that when we become aware of these instances, appropriate corrective action will be taken. It is also unreasonable to expect the administration of the school to know every time a student uses language that is inappropriate or hurtful. We all have to hold each other accountable for our words and deeds. I support the fact that The Pharcyde staff has elevated this conversation to a more public forum. We all share an interest in exposing poor decisions and holding each other accountable. Consequences for poor decisions like these are appropriate; but the real solution to insensitivity and hurtful behavior lies in the collective decision by all of us to reject these behaviors outright. We need to hold each other accountable for the high ideals that have always been the foundation of The Benjamin School community.
Appreciate Our Unsung Heroes: The Maintenance Department Katie Walsh Staff Writer
Many believe that the maintenance staff at Benjamin are unsung heroes, and, in many ways, they are. They handle everything from washing the windows to dealing with school events, and, as I learned recently, helping individual students. I experienced first-hand how maintenance makes time for students when one staff member, Mr. Manny Rosales, helped me dig through a mountain of trash to find my accidently-discarded phone. While I may have found my phone sooner had it not been for the diligence of the staff to throw away garbage quickly, I still left the dumpster with a new-found respect for the work they do at Benjamin, especially because of the pride they take in their work. One maintenance member, Mr. Randy Rogan, said, “We enjoy doing it. We really do. I think all of us enjoy working here. I came here from the University of New York and the state university system, so I’ve worked in schools a long time. This is probably the best environment, especially for a high school. Here, as far as high school goes, it’s great.” The maintenance staff at Benjamin
work diligently in order to make sure the school looks well-kept and functions efficiently. Every day the maintenance staff spend their time cleaning, fixing and working to maintain Benjamin’s massive facilities. Their job is not limited simply to cleaning but extends to setting up for events as well as keeping the school’s sports grounds in great condition. Benjamin students often take for granted the luxury of having a full-time maintenance team that works solely for the benefit of the school by dedicating their time and energy to maintaining the school’s outer and inner appearance. When students leave trash strewn about the campus, they blatantly disregard the hard work that maintenance puts into the school. Mr. Rogan explained how students leave their garbage about the school, which means extra work for maintenance. “Manny goes through a lot picking up garbage that he shouldn’t have to. He spends a lot of extra time picking up after students who should not litter,” he said. Above all else the staff takes pride in their work, and they truly love Benjamin as much as its students do. “Overall it’s great working here. I can speak for Juan. I know he enjoys working here. I know our boss, Jim Adle, loves working here. We all appreciate it,” Mr. Rogan said. All that they ask is that students keep the trash where it belongs- in the dumpster. A friendly thank you as well would make any maintenance worker’s day.
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December 14, 2012
Artwork by Annelise Hilmann
Students struggle with online cheating By Katie Walsh Staff Writer
HC violations increase, community concerned By Jerrie James Staff Writer
The Honor Council has been unusually busy this year with cases regarding cheating and Honor Code violations; however, some cheating still seems to be going unreported. Honor Council Advisor Mrs. Nidhi McVicar did not want to be specific, but acknowledged that the Honor Council has seen significantly more cases this year.
of students say they have seen cheating These cases have mainly dealt with underclassmen cheating, according to Honor Council member junior Ally Sexton. The administration and faculty have renewed its focus concerning the honor code, which has resulted in more Honor Council cases. However, a recent Pharcyde survey showed cheating is going unnoticed; 47.3% of students that responded said they have seen cheating at Benjamin but did not report it. Of those students, 13.8% stated they regret their decision not to report it. Mrs. McVicar explained that the frequency of meetings is not only the result of the number of cases but is also an outcome of the time-intensive process Honor Council takes to insure the consequences are equivalent to the violation. The Honor Council determines the severity of each case by reviewing certain guidelines and by comparing the violation to past offenses. “In order to give everyone a fair case, if a student has violated the honor code in the past, this is also taken into consideration and makes the violation more severe,” Sexton said. Mrs. McVicar does not mind the extra cases because the faculty are just doing the right thing. “It is the expectation of the administration that all cases are handled through the Honor Council… and I think
most of our teachers respect that,” Mrs. McVicar said. Mrs. McVicar also shared her views on why it is good for teachers to send their cases to Honor Council. “I think that when a teacher sees [an Honor Code violation] in class, there are sometimes [many] emotions attached to that so it is good to give the case to the Honor Council so we can actually figure out what happened,” she said. Mrs. McVicar believes that, as the year progresses, Honor Council will start to see fewer cases. “I think our younger students are still learning and figuring out just how seriously we take the cases [because] most of the cases we’ve seen have been underclassmen,” she said. “And I think that as underclassmen get more used to the difficulty of the curriculum here and they learn to manage their time better, hopefully there should be fewer cases.” To help prevent cheating on assignments, Mrs. McVicar recommends teachers not assign work that students can easily look up on the internet. She recommends teachers give work that requires the student to think and apply the concepts they have learned in class.
“I think that our younger students are still learning and figuring out just how seriously we take the cases...” MRS. NIDHI MCVICAR Honor Council Advisor
Sexton hopes the process will help students abide by the honor code and not return to the council. “When a student is sent to Honor Council, it can be an intimidating experience that students will not want to encounter again. We believe that helping enforce the honor code helps because most students do not return to the Honor Council after their first violation.”
An increase in Internet-related cheating cases this year has resulted in a school-wide discussion about what defines cheating. While the Internet is arguably the most useful resource to students, many have asked where the lines of helpful resource meet blatant plagiarism. In most cases the cheating issue arises from student’s misperception about what constitutes cheating. In order to address this confusion, Honor Council President senior Samantha Kochman said, “The Internet is absolutely acceptable to be used as a resource, so long as the teacher hasn’t said otherwise. The issue arises when students find answers online or plagiarize the information from their sources.” “Some students feel that whatever is found on the Internet is acceptable to be used as a resource, even if that is an answer key,” Kochman said. The largest problem that comes from this confusion is that some students simply are unaware of those uses that are not permissible. The result is usually a violation of the Honor Code. The problem is also that each teacher has different parameters for cheating for different projects causing even more confusion among the student body. Freshman Alexandra Dimas describing her frustration about what defines cheating on teacher projects and homework, said, “The teachers should specifically say what is cheating and what is not before every project so that we know what is ok to look up.” Some students, however, are not confused by what is and what isn’t cheating. Sophomore Mason Manos said “I feel that using the internet to find information is appropriate, but using the internet to find answers is not. There is a difference between information and answers.” Several websites such as Yahoo and Wiki Answers have allowed students to type in direct questions from homework and projects and get exact answers. Some teachers feel very strongly about this subject, not just because it violates the Honor Code, but because they feel it demeans the purpose of Benjamin’s educational program. When asked about how he felt towards the recent trend in internet cheating, history teacher Mr. Benja-
min Harper, responding to his own experience with students who have used the internet to cheat, said that students who “apathetically or even maliciously” use the internet to cheat are “…The decision of some students who seem to either apathetically or even maliciously disregard the remarkable and unique opportunities at their fingertips and so choose to cheat, are directly spitting in the face of the entire education process.”
“Cheating is cheating whether online, off line, in school, or out of school. If you attempt to create an unfair advantage then you are cheating.” DR. TAYLOR
Director of Student Services Online translators pose another form of confusion for students. While some teachers encourage the use of translators for homework assignments, some feel that the over usage of this source is considered dishonest and is classified as cheating. The sheer number of language students who use tenses and verb forms to which they have never been introduced is baffling to teachers. Spanish teacher Mrs. Marisol Tejera-Mede said. “They have been using a translator which, for us, is very easy to tell, because when they put a phrase in they get a tense they haven’t studied.” Students rely on technology heavily at Benjamin, which has caused some teachers to question its effects on student’s ability to grasp the concept of learning. “They are more Internet dependent. It’s a good thing because you can find things faster, but it’s also a bad thing, because their process of thinking is not what it used to be,” Mrs. Tejera-Mede said. Whether students are unaware of their usage of the Internet for school or voluntarily using it to cheat, the improper usage of the Internet will continue to be a violation of the Honor Code. When asked about her thoughts on the recent online cheating epidemic, Director of Student Services Dr. Amy Taylor said, “Cheating is cheating whether online, off line, in school, or out of school. If you attempt to create an unfair advantage, then you are cheating, period.”
Advice from our Honor Council President
Honor Council President Samantha Kochman provides ways to avoid temptations to cheat on any given assignment.
If you don’t procrastinate and save assignments until the last minute, then you will be prepared and have no reason to cheat.
Ask Questions for Clarification
A lot of the time instructions from a teacher can be confusing. Instead of cheating because of a misunderstanding, ask a question. It is not worth getting sent to Honor Council because of a mix up.
Stop and Think
If the thought to cheat on something pops into your head, just remember that a question on a test or a homework assignment is not worth an Honor Code violation.
EMILY DUNKEL/Graphics Editor
The increase in Internet-related cheating incidents this year has sparked serious conversation. Teachers and administrators are trying to make the rules clearer to all students.
December 14, 2012 Page
After dips associated with economic downturn, administrators predict enrollment rebound
v While the Upper School was largely unaffected, Lower and Middle School numbers saw a decline. By Rachel Smith Staff Writer
Like most other businesses throughout the country, Benjamin has felt the effects of the recession; however, the Upper School’s enrollment has not been affected and the Lower and Middle School are beginning to show signs of recovery. Although the recession impacted enrollment noticeably, Director of Admissions Mrs. Mary Lou Primm believes that enrollment trends are finally starting to look up again. “We are now seeing some really positive growth in the lower grade levels and some of the economic forecasters tell us that the economy is getting a little bit better. Parents are starting to be able to consider private school again even if they had not been able to think in those terms for a while,” she said. The school has had to change its enrollment goal figures in the past several years with the changing times but is now beginning to adjust these figures upward. “Mr. Goldberg, the division directors, the Chief Financial Officer, and I meet to discuss the number that we would predict for the coming school year by grade level and also by division so that in turn becomes our goal as a school and then that’s presented to the Board of Trustees for approval,” Mrs. Primm said. “In recent years we have been able to
hit that goal which is great for us as a school.” According to Mrs. Primm, the Upper School has not been affected by the recession for a variety of reasons. She believes that parents are much more likely to spend on high school because of the Upper School’s unique reputation and opportunities. “Parents are really interested in all of our Honors classes and the Advanced Placement classes, and our college counseling I think is a huge part. Parents are always going to be interested in the one-on-one college counseling that goes on at Benjamin. Not every school can offer that, but Benjamin has always really outshined the competition in that department.” Mrs. Primm attributes the decline in Lower and Middle School enrollment mainly to the many schools opening in South Florida. She has worked in her position for ten years now; her first year here was the last year that the pre-kindergarten had eighty children enrolled. “In the School's earlier days there weren’t many lower schools in the area and not many private schools. So when a family was interested in a private education, Benjamin was the only school to consider.” she said. “In recent years, lots of church schools and preschools have opened, and there are options that I think weren’t available so parents are really shop-
ping around a lot more than they used to.” “As a result, as schools, we’re all competing for the same students and the same families, and I think that’s a part of the contribution to smaller enrollment in the lower grade levels,” Mrs. Primm continued. "Some parents are attracted to ‘gifted’ programs in other schools that don't charge tuition." Head of Lower School Mrs. Robyn Quaid also attributes the enrollment changes to “The rise of gifted programs that are free out in the public setting and more lower schools in the area offering an education with fewer tuition dollars.” She stated that some people automatically assume that a gifted program in a public school is more challenging when in reality Benjamin has a similar type of program. “The School’s curriculum is geared towards the above-average intellect child and that’s been true since the school was established. That phrase actually used to be in our Mission Statement: ‘The Benjamin School is for the above-average child.’ While we no longer include those words in the Mission Statement, the programs are still set at that level of rigor at a minimum. In essence, we see each of our students as gifted and talented and expect them to strive to academic and behavioral standards reflective of
their abilities, aptitudes and values.” Mrs. Primm thinks that the enrollment is slowly beginning to rise back to where it once was because of the school’s reputation. She said, “Parents I’m talking to are very encouraged by Benjamin and what we have to offer, particularly the additions we have made to enhance our program in recent years. Parents of young children have embraced the addition of our WOW and A.C.E. programs, as well as the opportunity for their children to take 15 years of a world language, including Mandarin. Advanced classes in lower school math and middle school science have allowed us to offer additional challenge to our strongest math and science students. The Upper School currently offers 23 AP courses, including Human Geography for ninth graders. Students are very enthusiastic about the addition of video production in Middle School and the variety of TV and video production courses in the Upper School. The addition of our strings program across the divisions has reached out to those students interested in orchestra. We continue to grow our programs, which is very well received by families considering us.” Looking forward to the school’s future, Mrs. Quaid said, “I think as long as we can stay true to who we are and keep being creative and relevant-- that makes the biggest difference in keeping us strong as a school.” v
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Page A10 The Pharcyde December 14, 2012
The Doane Diarie
The school community stood in shock as senior Randell swept away to Milwaukee for treatment, where he still re experience in a truly heart-wrenching diary, which The Ph The Cut That Saved My Life
I was sitting in my usual spot during advisory period. As usual, I was daydreaming. I felt something wet on my arm. I went to wipe it off, and noticed it was red. It was a cut, which is not something extraordinary, so I went to my next class. It refused to coagulate, as small as the cut was. I remembered back to when my liver went to failure. The doctors told me that if I noticed any excess bleeding, I should immediately report it. But that was months ago, so I was not worried or prepared to make a big deal out of something so seemingly innocuous. But in the back of my mind, there was still the fear, especially because these marks were appearing on my arms that would not go away. My body refused to heal from the slightest bruising. Later that day, I went to a normal doctor’s appointment. I decided that was the time to tell someone about the cut. Immediately, the doctor shipped me off to the Children’s Emergency Room at St. Mary’s Hospital. When I arrived, they poked me with an IV, and blood gushed out at onto the floor, seemingly thinner than rubbing alcohol with red dye in it. I was later told that my platelet count was three. Anything below a count of 50 could cause a lethal brain bleed. At three, I was lucky to have survived. Had I not gotten the cut, I would not have told the doctor. A few days of such a low count or a slight jolt to my head would have ended me. I never found out how I got cut, as with most cuts, I never felt it. But it was a gift. That cut was my life.
Did you know there is a special room in the St. Mary’s emergency ward? It has nothing on the walls, a small table, and four wooden chairs. It is far away from the little cubicles that house the sick children. This special room is where they take the unlucky parents to sit and wait all alone until the doctor comes in to give them particularly bad news. Apparently, doctors cannot tell particularly bad news to parents in front of their sick children. I suppose they didn’t realize I was far more prepared to hear the bad news than my mother.
Life in the Present
At school, I think of primarily the future. I lived for my future. Everything I did was to help me start a good life. I was not able to live in the present at school, since the reward for all of my effort and studies is to be obtained far into my future. But when I arrived at the hospital, everything changed. Doctors don’t really have any predictions for my recovery in the future. They know I will get better, but they don’t know how or when. The children here in the pediatric oncology ward are not looking to get out. They are finding ways to have as much fun as possible in the hospital. Their parents are all taking time off of work to be with their sick child. There are a lot of parents playing board games, card games, and working with arts and crafts in the play room with their children. Adults who would normally not take the time out of their day to have even much of a conversation with
their child are sleeping over in their rooms, and making the most of their time with their child. There is a surprising amount of laughter. There is closeness and love. Grandparents come and go and seem to have an even keener sense of the importance of the days, hours, minutes and seconds. If I were told I would get out the next day or the next year, it would not matter right now at this moment to me. Whatever happens is going to happen, so I will enjoy the present. I have lost count of the days I have been here, as it doesn’t matter to me anymore. But I am willing to make the best of it. There is a large amount of good life going on at the St. Mary’s pediatric oncology ward. And I am now living this life in the present.
“Apparently, doctors cannot tell particularly bad news to parents in front of their sick children. I suppose they didn’t realize I was far more prepared to hear the bad news than my mother.” Not Leukemia
For the first few days of my hospitalization, I was told I either have ITP, Aplastic Anemia, or most likely Leukemia. ITP would have been the most treatable and I would have been on my way back to school quickly. Leukemia seemed to be the most common and well understood disease and was very treatable and easily cured, although it was a lengthy process. Aplastic Anemia was sort of a mystery- it did not offer as high as a survival rate as Leukemia or ITP, but very few people ever got it, and no one has actually figured out what causes it. The doctor said the hospital only saw one case three years ago. Meanwhile, the ward was full of Leukemia patients. For the most part, the doctors and I assumed what I had was Leukemia or ITP. After a couple days of testing, the two were ruled out. After my second bone marrow biopsy, my Aplastic Anemia diagnosis was confirmed. When I first was told I have one of the three diseases, I prayed it was not Leukemia- anything but Leukemia. I have learned reality is quite different from what is believed. In actuality, you are four times more likely to survive Leukemia than Aplastic Anemia. It’s funny that our fear of well known diseases (especially cancer) exceeds that of many deadlier diseases that are un-
common. It’s odd that I now wish I had Leukemia. Who knew?
Little Bald Headed Children
For the first couple of days, I stayed in my room, reluctant to go out because I felt there was no reason to and it was very inconvenient to drag around all of the pumps that were hooked up to me. But finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I left the bed. I was surrounded by little bald aliens that were indistinguishable from one another, seemingly sexless. I was pretty freaked out, wondering if this is what I would turn into. It also made me feel very sad and scared for them. They, however, were all very cheerful. Slowly and almost imperceptibly, they began having names, and I could recognize each child, even without their hair and eyebrows. In fact, I was competing with Grace, a little bald girl, in who could do the most laps around the hospital, toting our IV poles behind us. She won. She actually kicked my ass, and she let me know it, too! Little Sam next door thinks our competition is funny. Oh yes, Sam is bald too, but now I don’t even notice it. He is just “Silly Sam the Man. “ And now when I see someone new come into the hospital, I notice their door will be shut for about two days, and then they will come out and be frightened of the presence of all of the bald children. Then, slowly, they will forget the lack of hair and start seeing them as just regular children – just Grace, just Sam and just me.
The Picc Line
Needles have never really bothered me. They never hurt, they are very small, and they are designed to help you, whether by delivering medicine or vaccines, or by withdrawing your blood for testing. Either way, needles are fine. For my first week at the hospital, I had an IV stuck in my arm. Since this IV only allowed fluids in, they poked me with a large needle to draw my blood from the same spot every day. After a week of this, my veins were pretty much destroyed from all of the poking, but still I really didn’t mind. They told me they were going to replace my IV with a Picc line, which is much larger, has multiple tubes sticking out of it, and blood can be drawn from it while other fluids are going into it. Patients are usually put under general anesthesia during the Picc line procedure, but I was not to be that lucky. Instead, it was decided that I would do it wide awake. Instead of the needle being small and a mere one to two inches long like an IV, it was very large in diameter and approximately two feet long, running down my right arm across my chest and ending up right outside my heart. When I first saw that huge apparatus that was going to be inserted all the way into my body, I thought “No Freakin Way!” But it was “yes, freakin way,” and with no general anesthesia. The medical technician first poked me in my right arm just above my elbow with a needle to start the hole. He then took a scalpel to the hole. I felt it burn as it went in, and then felt and heard it pop as it broke through into the blood vessel. I kept from fainting because it was really quite fascinating. I was torn between wanting to vomit,
and yet being incredibly curious – enough so that I could tamp down the nausea. He then took a blunt pencil-sized tool, inserted it into the large gaping hole, and moved it back and forth widening the hole even more. Blood poured out and made a mess. “Thank goodness I just had received another platelet infusion,” I thought to myself. Needless to say, it was “uncomfortable.” Then the fun began. I saw two feet of wire surrounded by a large tube threaded into my arm. I felt the pressure of it pass through my arm and shoulder and chest. But worst of all, I saw it zipping through me on a live sonogram screen, placed right in front of my face at chest level. I almost passed out from the thought of it. My mother was holding my hand tightly until I noticed her grip loosen and her head fall between her legs. My father was speechless. “Done!” yelled the medical technician. Ever since the procedure, the Picc Line has not hurt me physically a bit, but it continuously hurts me mentally, and will for the next six months if I’m lucky and can get it out in that short of a time.
Survival Rate and the Private Jet
The survival rate of Aplastic Anemia in the U.S. is about 60%, and even if you do survive, unfortunately reoccurrences are very common at around 40%. Here in the Mil-
Page A11 December 14, 2012 The Pharcyde
es: Randell’s Story
Doane was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and emains. Throughout, he has chronicled the events of his harycde has received permission to print. This is his story.
Photo courtesy of Moya Photography
waukee Children’s Hospital, the survival rate is above 90%. So why don’t all patients come here? Why do so many victims of Aplastic Anemia have to die? Well, if you don’t have a solid yearly income, great medical insurance, and enough money to spend on a private jet flight, you can’t get this significantly better medical care. That is the sad truth. My family and I are lucky enough to afford these luxuries, if you can call your life a “luxury.” But so many are not as fortunate, so they lose a loved one. I know these families would give everything they had for their loved one, as my family would for me, but for so many other children, it’s simply not enough. Here is my story. I entered the St. Mary’s Hospital on Sept. 21. I was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia on Sept. 27th. On the 28th they put the picc line in me to prepare me for the upcoming chemotherapy -chemotherapy that the hospital did not even have the drugs for yet. This is not St. Mary’s fault, nor the fault of any of the doctors. They simply had not really dealt with this disorder very much, as it is extremely rare (thank goodness). They had only treated one child with Aplastic Anemia three years earlier, and I have since learned that sadly, that child died. Upon hearing the diagnosis, my mother frantically searched and read everything she could, making many calls to the National Institute
of Health, to Johns Hopkins, and finally to the Aplastic Anemia Foundation which was the only place that returned her phone call after a few days. On Tuesday morning, the Aplastic Anemia foundation told my mother that the #1 Aplastic Anemia doctor in the world was Doctor Dave Margolis of Milwaukee Wisconsin. She immediately put a call in to him wondering when he would call her back. A major miracle occurred when Dr. Margolis himself called her back within ten minutes of my Mother’s voice message. Mom tells me she knew within the first ten minutes of talking to Dr. Margolis that I had to have all of my treatment in Milwaukee under his supervision and care. This was Tuesday afternoon, October 2nd, and within 12 hours of this phone call, my mother and I were boarding a private medical jet to Milwaukee. The plane flight would have been more enjoyable had I not been tightly strapped to a pediatric gurney half my size and locked in place unable to move, but it certainly beat coach! We arrived in Wisconsin, where it was starting to dawn on me how serious my condition was. You see, my parents had not told me much about the disease, and I was quite frankly too sick and exhausted to do much research myself. It had been all I could muster up in strength to try and keep up with homework, and I wasn’t doing that well with that. I did not know the danger I was in, but I was starting to absorb some of the fear in the medical professionals’ eyes when they were first told of my diagnosis. Hell, I was being flown on a private medical jet – that must mean something is terribly wrong. My parents were acting strangely, and my mother had pretty much stopped eating, and she was shrinking before my eyes. I wanted the answers, but I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to actually hear the words yet. I was plopped in an ambulance and told about the amazing food in Milwaukee during the ambulance ride by the nurses. Finally, I was unloaded and wheeled to my new room and transferred to my new hospital bed. The nurses had told me about a pizza place called Edwardo’s Natural Pizza that I could have delivered directly to the hospital; so of course, I called in my pizza order while I chatted with the new nurses and staff. We met Dr. Dave Margolis and continued chatting. Everything seemed great. I was settling in, IV bags were being hung, and I felt fine. The phone rang, and it was Edwardo’s pizza with my delivery downstairs. I asked my Mother to go get my pizza for me. During the brief couple of minutes she was gone, I found out why Aplastic Anemia is the dangerous disease that it is. It took me about five minutes to crash and go into shock.
In the five minutes my Mother was gone, my body temperature went from normal to above 103, I started shaking violently, my blood pressure dropped precipitously, and my heart rate soared. It was the sickest I have ever been. I was unable to control my muscles, but my stomach demanded that pizza, and most of it found its way into me much to the astonishment of the nurses and doctors. I
am still known now as “the boy who ate the pizza while going into shock” by the nurses, doctors and medical staff. Well, if you’re going to be known for something, I guess that’s just about as good as anything else. I ate that pizza as I was being quickly wheeled into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
“You are four times more likely to survive Leukemia than Aplastic Anemia. It’s funny that our fear of well known diseases (especially cancer) exceeds that of many deadlier diseases that are uncommon. It’s odd that I now wish I had Leukemia. Who knew?” Privacy has always been important to me, and there was a certain lack of it when I first entered the hospital. While I was being wheeled into PICU, I noticed nurses closely watching the monitors of all patients. These weren’t just EKG-type monitors showing the patients heartbeat, these were actual video cameras focused on each patient’s bed. I knew then that there wasn’t just a lack of privacy: privacy was non-existent. They hooked me up to what seemed like 300 different machines. Cameras were zoomed in on all parts of my body. I couldn’t move as I was strapped in place. Loud beeping proceeded all night, and lights were kept on. I could hardly roll to my side to urinate, and as I did, I smiled for the camera. Nurses were present most of the time anyway, checking in on me every 10 to 15 minutes. I then knew what hell was. I begged my heart to slow down, my temperature to go down, and to stop trembling, just so I could get out of there. Twelve sleepless hours later, I did. I had made it through the toughest part of my journey… so far.
To be honest, I was nervous about undergoing chemotherapy. Really nervous. Maybe downright scared. Back at St. Mary’s Medical center, they gave me an infusion of gamma globulin, or IGF, which caused me to have shivers all night, have a horrible headache, and regurgitate repeatedly for hours. And that was not supposed to be anything nearly as bad as the chemotherapy I was going to go through. The doctors here seemed concerned that I had had that bad reaction to the IGF. This chemo was going to be an 18 hour per day intravenous infusion, for
four days straight. This serum, called antithymocite globulin, or ATG, was coming straight from some poor horse that was injected with a virus that stimulated its body to attack its t-cells. The horse’s blood is then withdrawn from the horse, and prepared to be dripped into me. The hope is that if my tcells are suppressed or destroyed, then hopefully the rogue t-cells that are destroying my bone marrow stem cells will be suppressed or destroyed as well. Then, if there are any stem cells left in my bone marrow, hopefully they will start to produce red and white blood cells and platelets again. Of course, a much better course, and better survival statistics occur when you go straight to a bone marrow transplant from a perfect sibling match. The reason I had to start this chemo was because I did not have a sibling match for my bone marrow. My sister was positive she would be a match. My brother, who is a cheerleader at Notre Dame, said he would be fine missing out on one of his only opportunities to cheer at a Notre Dame football game, just to drive up here and do the transplant. For him, cheerleading has become a big deal, so it shocked me that he would sacrifice so much for me. Unfortunately, neither of them were a match. There is only a 25% chance that a sibling will match and I was not lucky with either Elizabeth or Bryan. Poor Elizabeth took the news really hard. She was positive that she was going to be my match. I found out many weeks later that she was hysterical and inconsolable all that weekend. She, of course, had been reading about Aplastic Anemia, and she knew that a sibling bone marrow match was the best chance for survival. I wondered why my Mom had to keep stepping out of my hospital room to take her barrage of telephone calls. Apparently she wanted us all to be re-tested. On the other hand, Bryan was very stoic about it, but I knew that he was really upset as well, especially when he told me that he was keeping a candle lit at the Grotto night and day for me. Bryan kept uncharacteristically calling me. He would text me many dirty jokes all that weekend. He even told me he had ordered me a special gift from the Internet that would arrive at the hospital in the next few days. Bryan – actually bought me a gift? Bryan was the one whom Mom always bought gifts for at Christmas so that he could “give” us all presents from him. When the doctors told us all on that depressing Friday, October 5th that neither sibling was a match, my whole family was shaken – not just me. Somehow, that made it easier for me to bear. I was not alone through this, and the impact of that conscious understanding was strong and comforting. Still, I was scared on many different levels. The most basic one was the fear of simply getting through the ordeal. The only thing that gave me comfort was the fact that I could not imagine anything as painful as my sickness that night at PICU. But four days straight of vomit, shivers, headaches, horrible stomach aches, and not being able to move did not sound too exciting to me. At least it was delayed a few days due to my fever and See Doane page A14
December 14, 2012
The hidden costs of applying to college By Casey Pearce Managing Editor
The skyrocketing cost of college tuition is a common topic in newspapers, at high schools and at home, but many Benjamin families have been shocked to discover the hidden cost of simply applying to college. This cost falls into five different categories: college research, school visits, test prep and registration, AP courses and tests, and applications. All together, these costs for a sample student are $8,913. When students start the college search, they may identify a couple of colleges that they would like to research, but one or two schools usually are not enough. Many students purchase the most popular books that list the top colleges in the United States. Other books have an entire list of majors that students may want to consider. If a student were to get five of these books, the cost would be about $75. Next, the family has to consider college visits. All of the prospective colleges may be in-state, but most likely at least one will be out-of-state. If a student decides to look at two colleges, each in a different state, the costs start to rise quickly. Hypothetically, both parents and the student would go on two five-day and four-night trips. When round-trip tickets, hotel room, food and rental car/taxi are added together for both of these trips, the cost is approximately $4500. Of course, this is without the cost of that very important
sweatshirt and souvenirs with the college name on it. The running tally at this point in the process is $4675. In addition to the overnight college visits requiring air travel, it is safe to assume that the student will need to drive to two more prospective colleges. The cost of gas, hotel room, souvenirs, and food adds up to $2300. The total increases at a fast rate.
“[The cost] made me want to apply to fewer colleges than I originally thought because I did not think it was worth it.” RYAN JAHN senior
Juniors also need to take the SAT and/ or ACT which add further expenses. The cost of each of these tests is $50. Most students do not take these tests just once, but if they were to only take them once, the total cost of applying would be $7075. Now add the cost of the SAT and ACT study books, an SAT tutor (for $30 an hour for a total of 7 sessions), and two SAT subject tests (SAT 2) and the total is $7511. The next category to consider is the costs of the AP courses that students have taken in their high school career so that they can prepare for the rigors of college. If a Benjamin student were to take six AP tests at $89 each, hire a tutor for one of them for seven sessions at $30 an hour, and get
an AP study book for each course, the cost of applying to colleges increases to about $8375. Last, but definitely not least, is the cost of the applications. The average cost of these applications is $38 each. This student, who visited four colleges and had decided to apply to one additional college sight unseen, would add an additional fee of $190. Including these costs the running total would be $8565. A surprise additional cost is also the expense of applying for financial aid at some schools. With everything taken in to consideration, the total cost of applying to college for this sample student is $8,913. Although these cost are very high, Director of College Counseling Ms. Kristen Learner said that some of these costs can be lowered. One way to save is by using the wide variety of college books that are available to borrow in the college counseling offices. Another way to save is by borrowing SAT and ACT practice books from friends or siblings. Some of the seniors were stunned by size of the fees involved in applying to college. “I was shocked by the cost that it takes to just apply to college. This was without even considering the amount tuition, room and board, and other expenses are going to cost once I was accepted,” senior Ryan Jahn said. “It made me want to apply to [fewer] colleges than I originally thought because I did not think it was worth it.”
COST OF APPLYING TO COLLEGE
SAT TEST ACT TEST 6 SAT/ACT Books 6 AP Books
$50.00 $50.00 $300.00
SAT/ACT Tutor 2 SAT 2s (Subject) 5 APPS College Books
$210.00 $46.00 $190.00 $75.00
3 People College Trips (2 flying, 2 driving) Souvenirs, hotel, food, rental car
AP Tutor (7 sessions) 6 AP Exams Sending SAT score 2 Interviews Applying for Financial Aid
$210.00 $534.00 $11.00 $200.00 $137.00
Several schools attract many students, top enrollment Top Four Schools of Enrollment
By Lexi Cass Staff Writer
Aspiring nurse, senior Kendall Herman described what she believed as a magical experience. She said, “People always talk about when you go to the perfect campus for you, you’ll just know. When I went to the campus last year, I fell in love, and then when I was accepted and went this year, I just stepped on campus and said, ‘I’m going here.’” Herman is talking about the feeling she got when she visited The University of Alabama, the school that over the past four years has become more popular to attend than both Florida State University and University of Central Florida and just slightly less popular than University of Florida. After narrowing her college choices, Herman decided that Alabama was the perfect school for her. “I wanted a southern, pretty brick building school and four seasons, so Alabama was in the perfect area. I’m also really into the football there, and despite how large of a school it is, they take a very personal approach to every student,” she said. It is no surprise to the college counselors that the University of Alabama has been a top application choice among seniors like Herman for the past few years. “In the class of 2009 there was a wave of eight or nine kids who went that year and absolutely loved it. That’s when some of the hype began. They kept bringing the word back of how much they enjoyed their time there,” Director of College Counseling Ms. Kristen Learner said. College Counselor Mr. Jeffrey Wong
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. Vanderbilt University 7. College of Charleston 8. Boston College 9. Wake Forest University 10. Duke University
4. Graphic by Willl Conran
also understands why so many students are drawn to Alabama. “The university is fairly similar in some ways to some of our in-state schools, but it offers students a much smaller experience. People from our school get really into spirit week and sport games and Alabama offers a lot of the same kind of environment. There’s a lot of school spirit, great teams, and on top of that you have a really great medium size university,” Mr. Wong explained. However, Alabama and Florida schools are not the only “it” schools seniors are applying to. College Counseling collects statistics and data and has produced the two lists seen on the sidebar. One lists the top application schools (TAS) and the other lists the top enrollment schools (TES). Mr. Wong noticed on the TAS what he believed to be an application trend based on “proximity and environment.” He said, “Nine of the top ten colleges by application are
Top Schools of Enrollment
1. University of Florida 2. The University of Alabama 3. Florida State University 4. University of Central Floirda 5. College of Charleston
south of the Mason- Dixon line. The furthest north is Boston College. I think [the reason for this is that] a lot of people want to have one or two options that are close to home. People want to stay in the warm weather, and some people just don’t want to go far away.” Senior Evander Copeland’s top choice is Vanderbilt University. He is also interested in both Wake Forest University and University of Florida. All three schools appear on the TAS. He said, “I think for all Benjamin students, including me, weather and proximity to home are huge factors. What I think Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Florida have a lot of is school spirit. When you’re at Wake Forest and walking through Winston Salem, every store and every restaurant showcases school spirit. I don’t think school spirit should be undervalued.” The ranking of colleges is different in the TES list. “The further you go down the
list, the further the schools get away from Florida. When you look at the attending list, there is more geographic diversity of where people are going. In the top ten you have Boston College, Washington University in St. Louis, and Southern Methodist University,” Mr. Wong said. “I think it is more diverse because I think when students look at colleges to attend, they want to have a lot of options. I like students to have a lot of options. I want students to have options that are going to reflect their possibility to change their mind. I also think a lot of people go up north because of family background. Also people might say they want to leave Florida, but just in case they want to apply to a couple schools in Florida. Once they get in, they might decide that they do want to leave Florida, but they still have those options on their application list.” Senior Jamie Hagar is applying to Boston College, the only northern school on both lists. “I like Boston College because my sister goes there, and when I went to visit her, I fell in love with it,” Hagar said. The reason she and her sister first became interested in Boston College was because of a family connection. “It’s such a nice school. It’s so pretty. But also my Dad’s side of the family is from up north,” she said. In the end, it seems that people want to go to colleges that reflect their times in high school. Mr. Wong said, “ Students love the environment and school spirit at Benjamin.” Copeland agreed, saying, “There’s something about wearing school colors and being someone that has a lot of pride in their school that is so much fun. It becomes a part of you.”
6. Boston College 7. Wash U (St. Louis) 8. Southern Methodist U 9. University of Miami 10. University of Georgia
Top Application Schools
University of Florida Florida State University University of Central Florida The University of Alabama University of Miami
December 14, 2012
Students purchase organic foods, mislead by labels By Ave Healey Staff Writer
A majority of Benjamin students claim to buy organic groceries from stores like Whole Foods, but—if a recent Pharcyde survey is to be believed—many of these students have potentially harmful misconceptions about what the label “organic” really guarantees. Many students were probably unaware, for instance, that in 2011, Whole Foods was brought before a Florida court for selling frozen vegetables imported from China that had been grown by inmates in a polluted region. Many customers were shocked that a product marked as organic was actually cultivated in what Bloomberg reported was a “forced labor camp” and possibly in contaminated soil.
“Of course not everything necessarily has to be organic...But it’s worthwhile to buy produce treated with fewer pesticides and chemicals...” ADRIENNE PROPP senior
When a consumer purchases goods that are labeled “organic,” he or she is expecting a level of pureness, quality, and even social responsibility. According to The Pharcyde survey about twenty percent of students assumed that organic goods must be grown locally. This is a common and misinformed notion, that buying organic goods will not only guarantee quality and freshness, but also support local farmers. “I think some people shop at Whole Foods because they like the idea of buying what they think is wholesome, organic food, when in reality they probably don’t even know what that means,” senior Adrienne Propp said. It is important for students to understand that nowhere in the US Department of Agriculture’s legal definition for
EMILY DUNKEL/Graphics Editor
Students opt to purchase pricey groceries that they believe to be local, or organic.
organic does it state that food must be grown in the same region or even country in which it is sold. This means that off-season organic produce has certainly traveled from a different state and likely even a foreign country before making it to the kitchen counter. In addition, the USDA allows food grown abroad to be inspected by foreign agencies that may not meet the same standards of thoroughness found in the US. So, what is the big deal? As the controversy over Whole Foods’ frozen Chinese vegetables reveals, blindly purchasing goods with the assurance that they are marked as organic is not enough to ensure environmental and social responsibility. Putting the question of purity aside,
the environmental effect of transporting produce from other countries is significant. Those wishing to reduce their carbon footprint should be cautious of where their organic goods are grown, and perhaps make an effort to seek out in-season produce that has been grown locally. While it may seem that finding a balance between naturally grown and environmentally responsible food would be a challenge, in fact it is not. The student who loves to pick up dinner from the Whole Foods on Lake Victoria after school need not worry. Organic groceries have plenty of local options, and Whole Foods even places yellow labels in front of organic produce that has been cultivated locally.
According to employees, the store has made it even easier in the past year for customers to determine the origin of products and now carries only one product from China, edamame. “Basically, the way we define local is if it was grown in the state of Florida,” a Whole Foods team leader for the produce department said. “The actual percentage of locally grown produce changes on a day-to-day basis, but we always try to buy as much from local farmers as we can.” “Of course not everything necessarily has to be organic,” Propp said. “But it’s worthwhile to buy produce treated with fewer pesticides and chemicals, and to buy locally when you can to reduce your carbon footprint.”
Environmental Club President senior Adrienne Propp said, “I often see individuals show blatant disrespect for the environment. I think that as a whole the Benjamin community is willing to protect the environment, but individuals either do not know how or do not care enough to do the little things like turn off lights or pick up a piece of trash. I don’t think that we can continue to overlook the environment. I know that the school has taken several steps towards conservation, but I think that students and faculty in general need to be a bit more conscious of their carbon footprint.” The Environmental Club has plans to try to increase student recycling. They will replace recycling bins in classrooms where they have been removed and put up signs near the trash saying what should and should not go in the recycling bins. The environmental club is supporting Sierra Club’s efforts to get a Bottle Bill passed in Florida, which, according to Propp, will “significantly increase the efficiency of Florida’s recycling program.” However, even if the Environmental Club does get students to recycle more, these efforts may not actually be affecting our recycling. Rumors among the students and teachers say that the maintenance staff does not actually recycle what is in the recycling bins and just puts it in with the
regular garbage. Ms. Learner said, “I was here one night and towards the front of the school, I saw some of the maintenance people take the lid off the recycling bin, and take the bottles and cans from that, and mix it in with the regular trash. It was really disappointing to see.” In response to these accusations, Mr. Adle said, “The rumors are old beliefs and are inaccurate. We have blue recycling bins for plastic and yellow recycling bins for paper outside and they are emptied on a regular basis and the refuse is brought to a local recycle center.” Although the school makes efforts to be eco-friendly and recycle, students are clearly not taking advantage of this. Propp said, “There are some people who don’t believe in global warming and don’t care about the environment, which is understandable, but that doesn’t justify wastefulness,” she said. “As far as we know, Earth is the only option we have as far as living is con-
cerned, and if we continue to destroy it, then we are only making things tougher for successive generations.”
Community fails to recycle despite readily available bins By Bella Ross Staff Writer
Although a recent Pharcyde survey shows the vast majority of students say that recycling bins are readily available and clearly marked, numerous students and teachers say that students are not conscientious about recycling, and that even the maintenance staff is not making efforts to be environmentally friendly. Maintenance Supervisor Mr. Jim Adle said that the school has no official environmental policies, but the school recycles all of its paper, cardboard and plastic bottles. The Pharcyde gave out a survey to find out if students recycle on a regular basis at school, and out of the 170 students surveyed, 80.6% answered that they do. However, many think that the students do not properly throw out their trash and recycling. Director of College Counseling Ms. Kristen Learner said, “I see a lot of paper in the trash and lot of trash in the paper recycling.” Chinese teacher Mrs. Lei Cohen, who personally tries to be environmentally friendly and recycles, is especially disappointed by some students’ habits. “There’s so much trash left around after lunch. I’m so mad. Every lunch time we have two teachers on lunch duty, and we ask the students to please recycle, but students so far are not doing a good job.”
Artwork by Annelise Hilmann
Page A14 December 14, 2012
The Doane diaries: A continuation from pages 10-11 From Doane page A11
shock at PICU, but it could not be put off very long, because each day it was postponed meant that it potentially would not work. If this chemo does not work, and I don’t have a sibling match or an unrelated donor match, then I really don’t stand much of a chance to survive.
Chemo HAS TO work.
The weekend before I started my chemo was an extremely long one. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. The nurses seemed to buzz around my bed anxiously. I knew that they were all making sure that I was still going to be healthy enough to start the chemo on Monday. I had a huge set of math problems for my Multivariable Calculus class, which ended up to be the best gift of all, because for most of that nerve wracking weekend, I sat at the children’s tables next to the nurse’s station on the HOT unit, and was able to lose myself in the math.
It was time to Rock and Roll! My family was frantically worried, and trying so hard not to show their worry to me. I did not have a bone marrow match, and this was my only other hope. The first hour of chemo was the most frightening. I was scheduled to start the drip at around noon on Monday, October 8th. The fear is because some people are allergic to the ATG. This allergic reaction is violent, and causes anaphylactic shock, and it occurs within the first hour of the drip. I prayed that I would not have this allergic reaction. If I did, then I would not be able to have the ATG treatment. If I did react in the first hour, which was not uncommon, I would have no other hope and I would not make it. I was not too worried, as I had not been living in fear of the future, but in hope and in the present. That first day went flawlessly. My mom was there with me, and she was very reluctant to leave until really early the next morning, but she finally left. The second day was very similar. On the third day, I was doing so well my mom left by 10:00 pm to go back to her room at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital. That night, right after she left, I experience stomach and chest pains so intense I slipped in and out of consciousness. I tried to beg the nurse to do something about it, but I was hardly able to function under the intense pain. I thought to myself, if giving birth is any more painful than this, how could there be any children? The nurse gave me a heat pad and a bunch of meds, and loaded me up with Benadryl. People react very differently to Benadryl, but for me, injecting me with Benadryl is like injecting me with a bunch of anesthesia. It knocks me out instantly. After hours of searing intense pain that was indescribable, I was artificially put to sleep. It was a great way to end the suffering. The next day, I continued to sit in the bed, with only slight discomfort. When my Mom made it back
over to the hospital from the Ronald McDonald House early the next morning, she was upset to hear of my reaction. I wondered if she would argue with the doctors to have them stop the chemo, or if she would argue with them to make them continue it anyways. Instead, she just stood silent, waiting for the doctors to make the decision. Her tremendous faith in their judgment gave me great faith as well. At rounds that morning the doctors all decided to continue the treatment anyways. I was not going to get a break, unfortunately. I had a very long frightening 18 hours left.
“I heard the constant cheering and friends waiving to me and telling me to get better from of all four grades. This was the best pep rally ever! I could even enjoy it from the comfort of my bed while all others were sitting on those uncomfortable, backless bleachers.” I heard my Mom on the phone telling someone at The Benjamin School that today would NOT be a good day to Skype me into a homecoming assembly. Boy was that an understatement. I hadn’t showered, eaten, or made it out of bed for almost four days, and I figured that I’d be doubled over in pain for most of the next 18 hours. I heard her say that tomorrow I would be done with my chemo treatments, and then maybe I’d like to be Skyped into the assembly. I hoped that I would be able to simply sit up by then. The thought of school and the homecoming assembly now seemed like a different universe to me. Like it was back over the rainbow in Florida techni-color, and I was stuck in the black and white Milwaukee version of my life. I couldn’t remember how long I had been here, or even what day it was. Just one more day, I thought. Put me to sleep with Benadryl, and let’s just get on with it. Then it was over. Somewhere in the morning on Friday – maybe 9 or 10:00 am, I finished that last bag of ATG. I had made it through the chemo! I had only that one bad incident, but everything went better than I thought
it would. It’s funny how everything seemed much better, now that it was over. At least I thought it was over. Later, I would find out that I would have a horrible reaction to the chemo… days later.
I was asked by Mr. Baucom, the Principal of the Upper School, if I wanted to participate in the Homecoming Pep Rally via Skype. That sounded really neat to get to see what was going on back at home, until I was told that everyone would be able to see me. This led me to believe that I would be projected onto the big screen with my face blown up for everyone to see. I was quite scared of this. I didn’t want to be the sick kid on the giant TV screen. I wanted to be no different from the rest. I was very scared to do it. If I made any dumb expressions or comments it would be in front of the entire school. But I had been missing home, my friends and teachers so much that I made the decision to do it anyway. The Pep Rally day was the very last day of my chemo treatments. I finished at around 10:00am that Friday morning, and the Skype call was supposed to occur at around 12:00 Milwaukee time. That gave me just enough time to get unplugged and have my PICC line bagged to finally get up and get in the shower. I really didn’t have time to eat, and I certainly didn’t feel like it anyways. Before showering I looked in the mirror and was a bit surprised by my puffy face and somewhat greenish skin color. I was also starting to develop a rash from the steroids all over my face and body. Maybe no one will notice on the screen, I hoped. I got out of my legendarily lengthy shower right as Mr. Baucom Skyped me. I nervously picked up. It took me a few moments to realize that I was not on the big screen; I was only on his iPad screen. I was SO relieved! I thought this was the perfect way for me to Skype in to the school. Mr. Baucom was either a genius or a mind reader. There was a significant amount of lag, and I couldn’t see what was going on very well, but it didn’t matter. I was connected with the Benjamin family, and I was cheering my Senior class on. At the beginning I heard the entire gymnasium chanting RANDELL! RANDELL! RANDELL!!!! I was so embarrassed and happy! I was blushing, and chanting GO SENIORS! I heard the constant cheering and friends waiving to me and telling me to get better from of all four grades. This was the best pep rally ever! I could even enjoy it from the comfort of my bed while all others were sitting on those uncomfortable backless bleachers. As I was walked around on the little screen, I saw many of my peers jump up and say “Hi Randell!” And I was able to wave and even say “Hi” back to them! It made me smile and feel so good to see everyone. Mr. Baucom was constantly making sure I was still connected, as the hospital internet was very slow and unreliable. After the rally and the assurance that the Seniors had kicked butt,
Mr. Baucom and I signed off. No one ever knew that two hours before I was finishing up a 72 hour regimen of chemo therapy. Maybe nobody even noticed how I looked – an iPad screen is thankfully pretty small. What a perfect way to celebrate not only the TBS homecoming, but my deliverance through the week of chemo. Right at that moment that I was signing off, I felt a strong pain in my right lung. I wondered if I was already experiencing school withdraw, or if it was something else. It lasted about a minute and was excruciating. It went away and I didn’t let anyone know as I didn’t want to bother the busy nurses that were buzzing around. I thought it was nothing. It turns out I was wrong.
“Although I am parted from my home, my school, my friends and pretty much every aspect of life that I have ever known, I do have faith and hope that there will be an answer.“ Let It Be
My English teacher, Mr. Behan, has given me an assignment to find the poetic devices and deeper meaning in the lyrics of a song of my choice. I am a major British Invasion fan, so it would come as no surprise that I have had the Beatle’s song “Let It Be” stuck in my head throughout much of my ordeal. It has kept me calm and has reminded me to live in the present without fearing too much what I might have to go through in the future. It is also no surprise that this song is the hymn of comfort and hope for anybody going through a difficult time. The surprise is what the song was actually written about. Paul McCartney’s mother was named Mary. She died when Paul was only 14 years old. When Paul was much older, and the Beatles were starting to fight with each other, he had a dream one night. His mother, Mary, came to him and gave him a tremendous feeling of love and comfort. When he woke up, he couldn’t believe how real the dream was, and he immediately composed the song about his dream. John Lennon was an atheist, and he really didn’t like the song at all, because he rightfully believed that everyone that heard it would relate “mother Mary” to Jesus’ Mother, Mary. He believed that those words made the song too religious in nature. There was even an argument between the two as to the naming of the album “Let It Be.” Fortunately, in the end, Paul won.
The “Let It Be” album was the last one the Beatles ever made together. It was released in May of 1970. The song’s strikes everyone with its universal theme of comfort during difficult times, as well as nudging us all to remember our faith especially when we have no ability to control the outcome of our fate. When my siblings weren’t a bone marrow match, I was comforted with my faith that God hast a reason for everything, and I knew the best course of action was to let go of my emotions and just let it be. When I was going through chemo and had searing stomach pain, I thought to myself, if I just let it be, it will be over eventually. I know I can make it through anything, because almost everything is temporary, even our lives on this earth, but our soul goes on forever. God, and the good forces of the world, are in control of this now, and there is a reason for everything, so I must let it be. This song is meant for those who are currently suffering and reminds them that there is always faith and hope. When broken down, there are many poetic devices in this song used to make it deep and powerful. This song has 8 line stanzas, each line having rhyming lines ending with either me, be, agree, or see. It continually repeats the lines “let it be” and “speaking words of wisdom.” At one point, that line is changed to the comforting alliteration: “Whisper Words of Wisdom.” The very most important line in the entire song for me is the metaphor for hope, “And though there may be darkness, there is still a light that shines on me.” Light is the hope that will never become dimmer. My light is that I will graduate with my senior class and have part of a normal senior year with them. I know almost all of the seniors, and many of them I have spent most of my life with. Although I am parted from my home, my school, my friends and pretty much every aspect of life that I have ever known, I do have faith and hope that there will be an answer to my Aplastic Anemia. The wisdom is in learning to be accepting, and letting the doctors do what they have to do. The doctors tell me how surprised they are that I am so cooperative with them and never complain. They say that many patients will refuse to take all of the pills, get their blood drawn, temperature taken, blood pressure taken, and drink all of the fluids they are supposed to. I always stick my arms out to make it easier for the nurses to take my blood and blood pressure. I drink and eat everything the medical team tells me to. I do the disgusting mouthwash four times a day, without having to be cajoled or reminded, and I don’t fight the miserable pentamidine inhaler. The wisdom is to let it be, as the doctors are in charge of me physically, and God is in charge of the rest, and that is all good. The light is still there, and it shines brightly on me. v
December 14, 2012 Page
Students unsure about future college majors By Caterina Breuer Staff Writer
According to a recent survey taken by The Pharcyde, the majority of the 251 respondents at the Benjamin Upper School are undecided about their college major, a fact which is of varying levels of concern to administrators. In the ninth grade class, 57% of the respondents and in the tenth grade class, 64% of the respondents were unsure of their major. Sixtysix percent of the eleventh grade class were not able to identify their potential majors, and in the twelfth grade class, 34% of the respondents were unsure of their major. Director of Marketing, Branding and Alumni Relations, Mrs. Jesse Padon, was shocked by this statistic and said that although they are likely to change their minds once in college, students should be considering potential majors while they are in still in high school. College counselors, Mrs. Kristen Learner and Mr. Wong, believe the opposite of what Mrs. Padon believes. “Being undecided is just fine
and is actually great, because college is an exploratory time. There is a vocabulary of majors out there that you guys don’t even know just yet.” Ms. Kristen Learner said. “Until you get to college, you don’t necessarily have the exposure to all the majors that are out there. College is a great time to figure that out. So, I think there are lots of kids that come in here thinking that they want things, but until they get the core, they aren’t really certain of what they actually want to do.” College counselor, Mr. Jeffery Wong, agrees with Mrs. Learner. He believes that a student doesn’t absolutely need to know what he/she wants to major while still in high school. “For students who know [their major] by the time they leave high school, that’s great, and can definitely help in choosing a college. However, there are hundreds of colleges that want students to explore the curriculum during their first two years in college, and decide on a major at the end of their sophomore year of college,” Mr. Wong said. “So if high school students
don’t know what they want to major in, there are still plenty of options for them.” Mrs. Padon thinks it is important to at least think about what students would like to do in the future. For students who are undecided on what they should do, she encourages students to consider what areas are most interesting to them and to reach out to family members or friends’ parents in those fields to learn more. “High school is the perfect time to experiment with different subjects and to explore particular interests. I encourage any student who hasn’t yet decided on a college major to speak with friends and family about what aspects of their career they enjoy most and what challenges they have faced along the way,” Mrs. Padon said. However, Mr. Wong has another suggestion. “They should think about what subjects they love studying and what they like to do outside of school. Most of all though, they should relax and realize that it can be a lengthy process. They don’t have to make the decision im-
Artwork by Annelise Hilmann
mediately,” Mr. Wong said. Naviance, an online college counseling resource, is a very helpful tool for high school students according to Mr. Wong. Designed for college and career preparation in order to enhance student success for the future, Naviance has three different aptitude tests that help students figure out what occupation is best for them.
-“I think it’s a great tool for students, families, and the college counseling office to use in helping students learn more about schools, keep track of their applications, and get information on the whole college process,” Mr. Wong said. “It has so many resources that it’d be tough to find the time to use all of them, yet they’re all incredibly helpful.”
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It ain’t easy being Eezy: Kaslow, TBS’ resident DJ By Paige Sode Staff Writer
You may know him as the boy who transformed himself into a glamorous woman during this year’s most recent musical, Hairspray. You might even recognize him as that one kid in male cheer who performed a toe touch so high, that students debated whether or not he was a professional cheerleader. Throughout the Benjamin community, junior Ethan Kaslow clearly has created a name for himself, and he is perhaps best known as the one and only DJ Big Eezy. For the past three years, Kaslow has continuously pursued his hobby of DJing, and students are well aware that he is open for business. Having been booked more than thirty times by students, as well as appearing at last year’s Chillin’ and Grillin’ barbeque, Kaslow can be classified as Benjamin’s very own celebrity. One of Eezy’s true fans, junior Amanda Stevens, was interested in booking him for a job in the future after seeing him perform for the first time. “I was completely in awe at how talented he was, and I then realized how great of an asset he would be at my next birthday party,” she said. What started out as his sister asking a simple favor, eventually led to the beginning of Kaslow’s attraction to DJing. “I first began DJing in eighth grade, when my sister had asked me if I could make a cheerleading mix for one of their halftime performances,” Kaslow said. “So once I started working with the music and learning how to use different DJing programs on my computer, that’s when I really started to take a fascination in it.” While DJing at various types of parties, ranging from middle school birthday parties to sweet sixteen’s, Kaslow has been able to experience many memorable moments that allow him to un-
derstand music and how it affects certain people. “When I was DJing at a sweet sixteen, there were about 200 kids sitting on the floor completely silent because the birthday girl was making a speech. Right when she ended the speech, I threw on a song by Nicki Minaj, and all of a sudden the 200 kids popped up and started to dance right away,” he said. “It really impressed me because whenever the music is off, everyone is down, but when the music comes on, it’s a whole different story.” Students perhaps assume that Kaslow made up his the name DJ Big Eezy; but to eliminate all rumors, Kaslow is willing to share the story behind his true DJ identity. “I got the name DJ Big Eezy my sophomore year, during one of the many male cheerleading practices, by one of guys, not quite sure who though. Yes I am a DJ, the first letter of my name is E, and I also happen to be a bigger kid on campus, so I was awarded with the nickname of DJ Big Eezy,” he said. “At first I wasn’t so sure about it, but then I realized I didn’t want to be that guy who makes up his own DJ name, so, I kept it.” Many students have claimed to be exceptionally proud of the work by DJ Big Eezy, including the DJ’s younger sister, freshman Naomi Kaslow. Some siblings have the tendency to not support one another when it comes to careers, but according to these siblings, the complete opposite is true. “I take Ethan completely serious just because he enjoys DJing and it’s something that keeps him off the couch. I’m extremely proud of the progress he’s made with being a DJ, and he continues to get better and better each day,” she said. Another student, senior Phillip Benz, also describes DJ Big Eezy as someone who has a great amount of enthusiasm for what
EMILY DUNKEL/Graphics Editor
With his diverse music selection and the help of his multi-colored light show, Kaslow can brighten any event.
he loves. “I think that it’s awesome Ethan has turned his passion for music into an entrepreneurship in which both parties are satisfied,” he said. “It’s not love for music, it’s a passion. It goes beyond a hobby; it’s about a way of living. Music is essential for Ethan’s life.” When behind his turn tables, Kaslow has a specific way of getting the crowd pumped, as well as certain songs that has everyone on their feet. “One song that always gets the people going is ‘We Hit Turbulence’ by Steve Aoki and Lil’ John. Also, I love playing Pitbull at parties because he has that Spanish flow to all of his songs, which creates a different atmosphere in the room,” he said. When asked what advice he would give to a teenager who has an interest in DJing, Kaslow said, “You should never ever limit yourself to the abilities you have. DJing is not just playing music through a couple of speakers; there is a lot more technique than most people assume. If it’s
EMILY DUNKEL/Graphics Editor
Though DJing may seem like an easy past time, Kaslow has come to learn that it takes a specific beat to liven a crowd.
something you really want, be prepared to work for it.” DJ Big Eezy says that he will continue to work hard and move forward with DJing, and it has allowed him to not only branch out as an individual, but also has allowed him to express himself through the music he plays. “Eezy is one of the most unselfish kids I have ever met. His
willingness to sacrifice his time at all of the social events, just to play music and entertain, is really awesome,” junior JB Thompson said. “DJ Big Eezy will for sure go down in history.” If you are looking to book DJ Big Eezy for your next event, tweet him @EthanKaslow #Itain’teasybeingeezy
Behind the scenes look: Variety Show preparation By Juliette Mercadante Staff Writer
Adapting from the basketball court to the fine arts stage, senior Austin Rosenthal is taking on an unfamiliar task as he commits his time and effort to the Variety Show this winter. Students are taking part in a range of acts: dancing, singing, acting, and Rosenthal is dedicating his effort to a boy-girl dance in which the Upper School Dazzlers will accompany him and seven other boys as they dance to a mix tape of rock music. Like the Dazzler-choreographed boy-girl dance, every number highlights the development of rock music, which lead to the show’s name “Rock On,” which focuses on the development of rock and roll. Performing Arts Department Chair Mrs. Sara Salivar said, “Usually the students are
the ones narrating live, but this year it will be done professionally by students in our video productions class, which will be really cool and different.” TV Production teacher Mr. Ken Archer explained by saying, “The audience will see screens that change during the show on each side of the stage, which is all done by our TV Studio Class.” Along with the video production students, senior Jordi Zindel seems to be fully committed towards the development of the show. Zindel is a part of eight different acts which require practices for four hours each week. He said, “As the show gets closer, I will probably have to practice three, four, or even five times a week for a few hours each, depending on how much practice we need before the show.” Not only is the upper school community greatly involved in
the winter show, but 23 students from the Lower School and 52 middle school students are also committing their time and effort to make the show the best it can be. “A lot of people think the show consists of only upper school students, but many acts have middle school and lower school students in them as well,” Mrs. Salivar said. “Students in second grade through seventh grade practice with their fathers for an hour and a half every other week, to put on the Daddies’ Daughter act.” Fine Arts Department Chair of the Middle School Ms. Nancy McAllister further described the involvement of the young participants by saying, “The middle school dancers, along with dance ensemble and the dance team, will be performing five numbers this year. The large number of dance performers from the
middle school is very thrilling.” The students and parents “play a large part in this production, but many people may not know that others, such as the alumni and faculty, also dedicate their time to the Variety Show,” Mrs. Salivar said. “We’re all working together.” Junior Ethan Kaslow shares the same excitement as Mrs. Salivar. He said, “Being president of Drama Club this year has really allowed me to be a leader for the students contributing to the show. It’s allowed me to put a more creative input into the choreography.” The participants will “work together,” as Mrs. Salivar said, until Saturday, January 19th at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, when the cast, producers, and staff will join at the Eissey Theater for this annual production. “A lot of recognition should
Courtesy of Mrs. Salivar
be given to the directors and people participating in the show because of the hard work they bring to it,” Kaslow concluded. “I can’t wait to see how many people come out and support the 2013 Variety Show.”
December 14, 2012
Recent alum featured in upcoming Hollywood film By Lexi Cass Staff Writer
Winter in Florida: Excessive yet classic trends
Winter in Florida is without question the best time of the year. I honestly don’t blame the snow birds for their annual migration; this is paradise. However, some students treat winter the same way that people do in the frozen tundras of the north. We similarly drink unimaginable amounts of hot coffee and wear Uggs and jackets, but unlike our friends up north, we live in 60 degree weather! I was in Chicago about four years ago during winter break. My father and I spent one Sunday watching our beloved Bears play against the Green Bay Packers, their bitter rivals, at Soldier Field. The Bears won by a considerable amount, but it was not fun at all. One of the toughest guys in NFL history, Packers quarterback Brett Favre, said in the post game press conference, “I have never played in worse conditions. I couldn’t feel the ball leaving my hands on some throws. It was almost too cold to play.” To add insult to injury (literally), a gust of wind came through on our way out of the stadium and knocked me right on my butt. For the first and last time of my life, I truly empathized with Brett Favre. Since then, I haven’t complained about the winter climate in Florida. I now embrace it, and even find comic relief through it. I’ve seen jackets and even blankets brought to school on cool mornings. Actual winter jackets. Really? It’s only a matter of time before these students realize that this apparel is not necessary and that they will suffer from heat exhaustion and possible dehydration by the end of lunch. Let me make this clear. I am all about winter trends. I wear sweaters, and I enjoy an occasional hot Chai Tea Latte. I even consider Christmas my favorite holiday, and I’m Jewish! But that does not give me an excuse to run around in my entire North Face collection. I’ll wait until Isaac or Sandy returns for a freakish round two and drops some snow on the Sunshine State. Then, when the Benjamin administration gives
us three months off, I’ll strut around town in my winter clothing. One of the funniest of all winter trends is the Facebook and Instagram posts. During a week when the weather is slightly sweater worthy in the AM, I’ll see multiple “selfies” replete with college sweaters, sweatpants or leggings, Uggs, and red venti cups with the caption, “OMG! Winter! Starbucks on Starbucks! #frozen.” The next week, when the usual Florida weather returns, the same people will be taking pictures of themselves lathered in Banana Boat with the ocean in the background captioned, “Perfect beach day! Love this weather! #nofilter.” Wait…the beach? Where is the coffee? Where are the quarter zips? I thought it was winter! I’m confused. The point is: Winter in south Florida is too fickle for declaring these mild temperatures “sweater season” or wearing scarves and blankets to school. The last time I’ve experienced a full month of 24/7 cold weather was when I lived in Illinois. Heck, the last time I experienced a full day of cold weather was back in the Midwest. So put the brand new, overpriced winter jacket back on a hanger in your closet. It isn’t needed in this temperate climate of ours. Just don’t forget to pack it for spring break when daddy takes the family to Aspen for the annual ski trip!
Brittany Bigelow, who started chasing her dreams as a toddler, is surprised at how many opportunities have knocked on her door since she graduated Benjamin in 2011. In the past two years she has been studying at Pace University, a New York City school that is allowing her to continue her passion for the arts while giving her the chance to meet people that have connections in the entertainment industry. She recently got her first taste of stardom when she starred in her first film as a featured extra in The Delivery Man,(2013) starring Vince Vaughn. Bigelow, 20, began school at Benjamin in 2nd grade. She is majoring in BFA Commercial Dance, which is the first degree of its kind in the country. On top of that, she is minoring in Arts and Entertainment Management. She spends most of her days going to academic classes in the morning and then takes dance, voice lessons, acting, or tech classes all day up until her rehearsals at 5 pm. Her dream is to become as successful as she can be while being as creative as she can be. Bigelow has never wanted to do anything else. “My parents put me in dance classes at 2 years old and from there I continued to train up until the end of middle school. I decided I loved to dance, but I was really interested in continuing my acting and singing training,” she said. Through high school she was a Dazzler and was Drama Club president for two years. Outside of school she trained at Starstruck Performing Arts Center. There, she said, “I was able to refine my skills as a musical performer and performed in two musicals a semester. I trained every single week day and sometimes on the weekends.” She was put in front of a camera for the first time last month when she scored her first movie role, thanks to one of her teachers at Pace. “My teacher, Lauren Gaul, who just finished ten years as a Radio City Rockette, is friends with the assistant casting director for The Delivery Man,” Bigelow said. “The story requires a good amount of 18-21 year olds to play children and when they needed people to play the roles, they reached out to Lauren, who reached out to the kids in my program. I sent in my information and received information the next day about filming. It all happened really quickly. I think these opportunities are a result of picking the right school and the right location. If I didn’t pick Pace and live in NYC, I would miss four years’ worth of opportunities to get noticed by people within the industry,” she explained. Although the opportunities came fast
Photo courtesy of Brittany Bigelow
for Bigelow, it took an enormous amount of dedication and training to get to where she is. “I think I got this far by working extremely hard. When I walked into Starstruck during my sophomore year, I was easily the most inexperienced person. I dedicated almost all of my weeknights to refining my craft and a lot of time giving up other opportunities in order to do so. When senior year rolled around, I started preparing for my college auditions. While a lot of my friends were studying for their SATs or ACTs, studying for AP exams, and applying for colleges, I was doing all of that plus preparing two songs, two monologues, and traveling to over ten colleges to audition for their programs along with thousands of other girls and boys my age.” A teacher and mentor she knew well at Benjamin, drama and dance teacher Sra. Sara Salivar, saw her passion from the beginning and knew Bigelow had what it took to become a star one day. “Brittany started off with me in lower school. She has always been a performer and someone who loved the stage. She has always been involved. She has a great background and she has always had a tremendous passion for theatre. She holds the record for the person in the most acts in the variety show. She’s pursuing her passion, and she is so happy and where she needs to be,” she said. Bigelow says the thing that keeps her going is her self-determination; she is unwilling to fail. “No one is going to tell you good job and no one is going to be your cheerleader,” she said. She knows there is a lot more in store for her. “I am anxious to see what my future has in store, and I am looking forward to an amazing journey,” she said.
EMILY DUNKEL/Graphics Editor
Must see movies this holiday season 1. This popular Broadway show turned movie stars Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Amanda Seyfried, is based on the world’s longest running musical, Les Miserables will hit the big screen with a renewed flair on Christmas Day. Set in France during the 1830 French Revolution, it tells a story of love, betrayal, and how a dream can actually come true.
2. Zero Dark Thirty showcases the hunt and killing of Osama bin Laden. This film tracks SEAL Teams Six, the special-ops team who eventually brought down this terrorist leader.
3. This upcoming comedy starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand portrays the road trip of a lifetime. Andy Brewster’s (Rogen) adventure begins at his overbearing mother’s (Streisand) house with a twist that leads him to bring his mother along for the ride.
Graphic by Lauren Bernick Content by Casey Pearce
December 14, 2012
Football team reflects on first season in the SFC By Sam Greenspan Online Editor
After winning the championship in the inaugural season of the independent Southeastern Football Conference, the Bucs’ success raises questions as to whether or not other Benjamin sports teams will join independent conferences. The SFC is a conference made up of 16 “like-minded” schools that put an emphasis on academics first. Some within the Benjamin community suspected that the quality of competition would decrease in the new league. In 2011, the Bucs had a losing season, but in the new conference the Bucs went on to have a record of 101. Junior Garrett Donaldson does not see the Bucs’ success this year as a result of a decrease in competition. “There were some games last year that we just could not win like against American Heritage. They were too big for us to compete,” Donaldson said. “This year I think that our turnaround was a result of our talent increasing, not our competition decreasing.” Head football coach Mr. Ron Ream reflected on the reasoning for last year’s switch into the independent league. “We felt that there were enough schools that were trying to develop their program with their own kids like we were,” he said. “Our goal was to have an
LIAM FINE/Staff Photographer
Although they entered a smaller league, the Bucs still played a challenging season.
even playing field and at least have a chance to win every time we took the field.” Mr. Ream remembers when the former district was even. “It was a lot of fun in years past. There were years we didn’t win our district or even finish runner-up but we had a chance to do so and so did everyone else,” he said. Athletic Director and Assistant Football Coach Mr. Ryan Smith played on the Bucs’ state championship football team in 1992 and acknowledged that things have changed in Florida football since then. “We were good and I loved those guys, but if we were in that district today we wouldn’t have had a chance,” Mr. Smith said. The Florida High School Athletic Association district
the Bucs were members of became a “football powerhouse,” according to Mr. Smith. Schools in the district consisted of teams that had been nationally ranked in recent years, such as Pahokee and American Heritage. Mr. Ream says that the Bucs are not “married” to the SFC. “If the state steps in and tries to scrutinize the schools that are becoming these superpowers, we may jump back to an FHSAA district,” he said. Mr. Smith thinks that the Bucs made the right choice to go to an independent conference, but does not see any other teams switching into an independent league in the near future. “We are competitive in every other sport and quite successful also. In football, size is essential to have a chance. In
LIAM FINE/Staff Photographer
The Bucs brought their talent from their homefield to Florida Atlantic University’s stadium where they won the championship game.
other sports, skill can make up for a lack of size,” he said. Mr. Ream is content with the way the first season in the
SFC turned out. “We may not win every year,” he said. “We will have a chance though, and that is important.”
Four seniors commit to college for baseball By Sam Greenspan Online Editor
Four current seniors on the varsity baseball team have always planned to play baseball at the next level, but now their hopes have become a reality, as four of them will officially play baseball in college next year. Three of the four seniors, Dominic Paone, Matt Harris and Kody Ruedisili, began playing baseball together in middle school. The fourth senior and Union College commit, Brian Dolan, joined the Benjamin community during his sophomore year.
“I presented them with opportunities and a little bit of guidance on how to gain attention from college scouts, and they took it.” MR. BRIAN KAPLAN Head Baseball Coach
“We are all great friends and we feed off of each other’s energy,” explained Ruedisili, who will play at Wofford College next year. “We are competitive and that helps us play well in front of college coaches.” Seniors Matt Harris and Dominic Paone will continue to play together, for they have both committed to Elon University. Paone chose to play for the Phoenix after he attended a recruiting
camp at the school during his sophomore year. He and Harris will be joining Paone’s older brother and Benjamin alumni Sam Paone, who walked onto to the Elon baseball team two years ago. “Sam set an example for us when we were freshman and he was a senior,” Paone said. “I think his work ethic sort of left a mark on us.” That work ethic caught the eye of head baseball coach Mr. Brian Kaplan. “I presented them with opportunities and a little bit of guidance on how to gain attention from college scouts, and they took it,” Mr. Kaplan said. “In years past, I cannot say if the talent was not as great or the kids just were not aware of how to get recruited.” Director of athletics Mr. Ryan Smith gives Mr. Kaplan, who replaced Mr. Mark Holbert as head baseball coach three years ago, credit for networking and communicating with college coaches and instructing players on how to become noticed. No student-athlete from Benjamin had previously committed to playing baseball in college at any point during the current seniors’ high school tenure. “Unless you are the best player in the country, the student-athlete needs to take initiative and send e-mails to college coaches,” Mr. Smith said. “The baseball players did a really nice job with that.” Ruedisili also stressed the importance of academics in the recruitment process. “When you send an e-mail to a college coach and they see that your grades are
EMILY DUNKEL/Graphics Editor
Four senior baseball players officially commited to different universities this fall.
good, it makes recruiting players easier because they know you will be able to handle the workload at their school,” he said. “They [the coaches] know that at a school like Benjamin, we are used to balancing studies and baseball.”
“We are all great friends and we feed off of each other’s energy.” KODY RUEDISILI senior
Mr. Kaplan noted that sometimes students are only offered scholarship money for baseball, but not for academics. “The biggest issue with going to the next level is there are very few scholarships available for baseball players in
college,” Mr. Kaplan said. “There are about 11.5 scholarships available for essentially a 35 player roster. If you do the math, that’s only about one third of a scholarship per player.” However, if a student does have strong academic credentials, a school can package the baseball scholarship money and academic scholarship money in order to make it financially feasible to attend a college. The four seniors have done everything right in order to make it feasible to play baseball at the next level. Paone thinks that the competitive nature that the baseball players have always had will carry on into next season. “I am excited for Matt and me to play against Kody at Wofford because Wofford and Elon are rivals.”
December 14, 2012 Page
Junior offered position on professional soccer team By Michael Mullery Staff Writer
Most people imagine working a lifetime towards a dream that they will ultimately pursue after finishing high school and college. This past summer, a team in England, Stevenage FC, offered junior Kevin Byrne his dream job of playing professional soccer at 16 years of age, but Byrne turned the offer down, for the moment, in order to continue his high school education. Stevenage F.C., a ‘League One’ soccer club in England, offered Byrne a contract this summer after just a few days of training with them. Mr. Ian Bishop, Byrne’s travel coach who played professionally in England, organized a tryout with the club for Byrne. One condition of the contract required Byrne to play center back for the club’s under 18 academy team for a year. In effect, by age 17, Byrne would have had to make a major life decision that few kids his age would ever have to face. In the midst of all this excitement, Byrne decided he had to come back home to Florida in order to sort out his schooling. For the past two years Byrne has been a student at Seminole Ridge High School in Loxahatchee. Being offered his dream job at such a young age made the decision of whether or not to stay in America to finish high school or to live in England, a difficult one. However, because of the more challenging curriculum offered at Benjamin, Byrne believed becoming a Buc would be in his best interest. Since joining the Benjamin community at the beginning of the school year, Byrne has looked to Varsity Soccer Coach William Whittaker for advice, saying “Coach Whitt has told me that an option would be to go over to England af-
ter high school and get some experience, then come back to college if things don’t work out.” This seems to have turned out to be a good decision, as Byrne is enjoying his time at Benjamin. “Benjamin is going well. Getting used to the school took some time, but I have adapted well,” he said. “I feel like I am managing my time very well, and I know if I ever need help, my teachers are here for me.” When asked about his future plans in regards to schooling, the soccer star said, “I’m leaning towards leaving the states for England once I complete my junior year and then finishing high school online. The soccer here just doesn’t compare to England.” Byrne has some very influential advisors to help him with his decision. Bryne’s mom, understandably, does not want to lose ‘her baby,’ and is concerned that Byrne will have to live in England by himself. On the other hand, Mr.Byrne and Byrne’s travel coach, Mr. Bishop, believe that Byrne should not wait to live out his dream. High school soccer in Florida may not be quite as competitive as professional soccer in England, but Byrne believes the competition will still be challenging, “Playing teams such as American Heritage, North Broward Prep and King’s Academy, I feel like the competition will be at a very high level. We have a really tough schedule, but with the ability we have, I believe we will hang with the competition and may even become the team to beat.” Although Byrne is faced with many difficult decisions, he remains positive about his future, “Right now I have no regrets, for I am still young and will probably change my mind a lot on this situ-
ation. But as time elapses, I think about it more and more because the decision I
make will have a drastic impact on my life, hopefully for the better.”
LIAM FINE/Staff Photographer
Although Byrne must make several difficult decisions, he is focused on having a succesful academic year and soccer season.
Boys, girls lacrosse teams prepare with pre-season training, tournaments By Annelise Hilmann Staff Writer
The Benjamin lacrosse teams this year have made changes to their season schedules to intensify and improve the programs. The Jupiter Storm, the boy’s lacrosse club, kicked off its season with a series of games in new venues such as New Jersey and Palm Coast, Florida. The team, comprised mostly of Benjamin varsity players and a few from different schools, will travel to Virginia to play another outof-state game during spring break. “I do like traveling because it allows us to play talent and teams that we would usually not face down here in Florida,” senior Colby Kempe, a mid-fielder on the boys’ varsity team, said. “I believe it is beneficial to travel, because it gets our players out there to be seen by other schools over the country and inevitably by college coaches, too.” Kempe hopes that the travel team will become known “as a team that can handle any team from any state.” This goal seems achievable for the Benjamin players after they performed well in the New Jersey showcase and Palm Coast tournament, both of which took place in November. The showcase resulted in the team advancing to the finals, where they lost by one point in overtime. Af-
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Erdman
Senior Philip Benz goes in for a check during a summer Storm tournament game.
ter Storm won the Palm Coast tournament, many colleges approached the players to discuss college recruitment. Not only did travelling to schools across the country present an opportunity for the team to compete with the former Virginia champions Langley High School and powerhouse St. Mary’s High School, two contenders in the region, but it also offered the boys an opportunity to create bonds. “Win or lose, I hope we all grow, not only closer as friends, but also as teammates,” senior Ryan Rengaswamy, a defenseman, said. “The guys on the team this year are guys I will never forget.” Kempe attributes the success of the team to “great talent and coaching but also the will to win and be better than
we were last year.” A similar attitude seems to have affected the girls lacrosse teams. Like the boys’ varsity team, girls lacrosse is bringing the heat early this year to the field. Conditioning for the 2013 spring season has already begun, three months prior to the beginning of the season. Since Nov. 19, a rigorous regimen of three hours a week, spent on the track and in the weight room, has toned the female lacrosse players into fighting shape. In comparison to previous years, this season’s preparations have commenced much earlier and more intensely. Players do not seem to mind the change, the general consensus being that it helps them achieve more in the long run. Junior Ivy Missen said,
EMILY DUNKEL/Graphics Editor
Junior Hayley Ciklin faces off in the draw during a pre-season Fall Ball tournament game.
“Personally, I don’t think it is ever too early to start conditioning. In an ideal world, I’m sure the coaches would love to have conditioning year round to keep us in shape. Conditioning before the season starts is also helpful for the girls, including myself,
who are not in a fall or winter sport and are out of shape compared to their multi-sport teammates.” Both the girls’ and boys’ lacrosse teams are upping their game this year in hopes of an even more successful victory rate.
Page A20 December 14, 2012
Boys, girls soccer seasons off to strong start By Dean Sandquist Sports Editor
The girls and boys varsity soccer teams are off to undefeated starts in their respective seasons. With both teams having all wins and only one tie, expectations are high for these young “footballers.” Senior captain on the boys squad, Alex Schepps, said, “We have the ability to make a state run this year. Coach Whittaker has us working harder than ever, and it has paid off significantly so far.” Attesting to Schepps’ remarks, the boys took on American Heritage in a recent match at Theofolis Field. Heritage, one of the highest ranked soccer programs in the state, could not find the net against the resilient Bucs as the game ended in a 0-0 draw. “Our team chemistry is higher than I’ve ever this season,” Schepps said. “Our young guys have meshed well with the upper classmen and it has shown on the field. We hope the momentum can continue down the stretch and into the postseason.” As for the girls team, a roster chalk full of young, new faces provides a spark for head coach Ed Chaplin. However, with only one senior, Kali Chaplin, the team’s lack of experience poses some questions for some spectators around the Benjamin community. Avid soccer fan, junior Anthony Cicio, said, “The loaded underclassmen talent provides a fresh slap in our opponents’ face. However, the question remains. Can our youth
hold up in such a demanding region? Only time will tell.” Junior defender Alex Zapata embraces her team’s youthfulness and sees the advantages of having such a young squad. “Our team is very young and raw this season. But, every starter has a history with travel and club soccer, which allows us to feed off of each other’s particular skill set,” she said. After tying Cardinal Newman, their arch rivals, in the beginning of the season, the girls returned with vengeance and dominated the Crusaders 7-0 in the teams’ second match. “We allowed Newman back into the game the first time we played them,” junior Hayley Ciklin said. “We vowed to control the game and finish them off in our second match with them. It was a statement win.” Since their draw with Newman, the team has improved its record to 12-0-1. “We’re really excited about the young talent this year. After playing with them so far this season, I know we will be successful this year and years to come,” Ciklin said. Both the boys and girls continue to look promising as the season progresses. “As 2013 approaches, the drive towards districts, regionals, and states intensifies considerably,” Schepps said. “We have to remain focused on one common goal: win the state title. If we can play like a true team throughout the rest of the season, the sky is the limit.”
WILLIAM CONRAN/Staff Photographer
Captain Alex Schepps (#12) is optimistic about his senior year season.
9 Wins, 0 Losses, 2 Ties Bucs v. American Heritage (Home) Bucs v. Berean Christian (Home) Bucs v. John Carroll (Home) Bucs at Lincoln Park (Away) Bucs v. Okeechobee H.S.(Home) Bucs v. Glades Central (Home) Bucs v. Yeshiva Academy (Home) Bucs at Palm Beach Central (Away) Bucs v. Jupiter H.S. (Home) Bucs v. The Pine School (Home) Bucs vs. Dwyer (Home)
T - 0-0 W - 3-0 W - 7-3 T - 1-1 W - 3-1 W - 3-2 W - 3-2 W - 4-2 W - 3-1 W - 2-1 W - 3-0
11 Wins, 0 Losses, 1 Tie Bucs v. Glades Day (Home) Bucs v. Cardinal Newman (Home) Bucs v. King’s Academy Bucs v. Lincoln Park (Home) Bucs v. John Carroll (Away) Bucs v. Glades Day (Away) Bucs v. Cardinal Newman (Away) Bucs v. Dwyer H.S. (Home) Bucs v. Jupiter Christian (Home) Bucs v. Lake Worth H.S. (Away) Bucs v. John Carroll (Home)
W - 7-3 W - 7-0 W - 3-2 W - 4-1 W - 8-0 W - 6-0 T - 4-4 W - 11-2 W - 8-0 W - 10-0 W - 8-0
Boys basketball has high hopes for challenging season By Andy Weir Staff Writer
This week the Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team dropped out of The Palm Beach Post’s top ten after three recent losses, yet two wins in the last week offer promise. Although the team still has their eyes set on the state championships, the team realizes that they still have much to achieve since their first game, a preseason game versus Seminole Ridge High School.
“We have a long way to go but we can definitely bring home a state title this season.” MIKE WILSON senior
“We have a long way to go but we can definitely bring home a state title this season,” senior Michael Wilson said. “The new players are kind of lost just like I was when I was new to the team but they’re paramount to the team’s success; I have no concerns or doubts, though,” he continued. Preparation for this season, though, actually began at the end of the last season, when Head Coach Jeffery Cavallo and Assistant Coaches Joseph Bonikowski and Derek Harse conducted exit interviews with all of last season’s teammates. The trio categorized the game results into three primary groups: preseason, regular season, and postseason. Later, they analyzed the information and looked for both tactical
and ethical ways to improve the whole team and the players. Their ultimate goal has been to teach every aspect of the game of basketball in the most efficient way possible. Beyond that, Coach Cavallo would not release any additional information but added “we structure each phase of the program with a distinct purpose in mind.” After much preparation and several preseason games, the team kicked off their season with a game versus Palm Beach Central High School where they won 70 to 66. They proceeded to win their second game, versus Treasure Coast High School, with a score of 54 to 46. The following Monday, the team played against Florida Air Academy, a school whom they have never played before, where they lost 51 to 60. Florida Air Academy is one of several schools the team will be playing for the first time. Many have taken note of this year’s schedule changes, but Coach Cavallo believes this is the approach the team has always taken. “We try to create a challenging schedule each year and many things contribute to the final schedule. The regular season schedule should prepare the team for tournament play,” Coach Cavallo said. The team’s season continued with a victory over Pope John Paul II High School. The final score was 79 to 58. Their victory was followed by losses to St. Edward’s Academy, Pahokee High School, and Pine Crest High School Despite these losses, the team still seems to be confident regarding winning a state championship but admits
In their first pre-season game against Seminole Ridge the Buccaneers prevailed.
they need much improvement. Wilson views the new players similarly to how he felt during his first year on the team.
“This team has been afforded great talent, but it is up to us to use it correctly.” AUSTIN ROSENTHAL senior
Wilson is just one of five seniors on this year’s team. Senior Austin Rosenthal is also hoping for a state title and recognizes that he and his fellow senior, as team leaders, will be mostly responsible for the team’s success or failure.
“I will continue to encourage the team to get better but to also enjoy the road. I want this team to feel like a family. In order to achieve the high level of success we desire, we must have each other’s backs. We have so much talent and depth on this team that I have never been associated with before,” Rosenthal said. As they continue to build their skills and teamwork, the team prepares for their next game on Friday in the Healy Athletic Complex, versus Lake Worth Christian. “This team has been afforded great talent, but it is up to us to use it correctly. I’m so proud to be a leader of the Boys’ Basketball team,” Rosenthal concluded.