The Newtonite v Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 • Volume 97
Newton North High School, 457 Walnut St., Newtonville, Mass. 02460
Chromebook rollout expands student access to technology Jacques Abou-Rizk Over the last few weeks, sophomores at both North and South have received Lenovo 300e Chromebooks to use at home and in the classroom as part of the Newton Public Schools (NPS) “1:1 Technology Program.” The touchscreen, water-resistant laptops are intended to give all students equal access to technology and to simplify technology-based assignments and class activities. Instructional technology specialist Chris Murphy, who oversaw the distribution of the Chromebooks in all sophomore math classes, hopes that the laptops can help students learn in many new ways. “The new computers are connecting to the network nicely,” Murphy said. “I hope this will help both teachers and students benefit from the program.” The program, according to sophomore Arsema Kifle, is going to give equal opportunity to all students. “It’s a good resource to have, especially in class,” Kifle said. “If you don’t have a computer at home it can be really helpful.” The downside is having to bring the laptop to and from school every day, Kifle added. Many students who already have their own laptop, like sophoby
more Bruce Burba, however, said they will not benefit from the program. “I’m excited to learn more about Chromebooks,” Burba said. “But I have my own MacBook so I’m not sure I’ll use the Chromebook that much.” Sophomore Adriana Cedrone said that in the first few weeks of having her new laptop, she has found it beneficial. “I had my sophomore seminar today and we had to use the Chromebooks, and I found it very helpful,” Cedrone said. However, Cedrone is also concerned that the laptops might be susceptible to damage for students who take their backpacks to sports games and on buses. Sophomore math teacher Caroline Vuilleumier, who teaches three sophomore classes, said she is excited to use the Chromebooks in class and hopes they will save class time and aid students in their day-to-day learning. “With the Chromebook cart, it’s hard to sign them out when you need them,” Vuilleumier said. “The computer carts aren’t always available and at least now, knowing my students have laptops, it won’t force me to waste ten minutes at the beginning of class trying to get a cart.”
The program is an expansion of the pilot that took place last year with several junior classes, including the American Studies course, taught by English teacher Kate Shaughnessy. “They used our class as a sort of try-out of the program,” Shaughnessy said. “MacBook Airs were given to us in the first semester and Chromebooks in the second semester, and their goal was to try different devices to see which one worked and to get student feedback.” Principal Henry Turner added that the Chromebooks this year are expected to stay with the sophomores throughout the summer and their junior and senior years. “The rationale is that we are giving them to the grades where there is going to be MCAS,” Turner said. “MCAS is going to be online starting this year for sophomores, on their Chromebooks, and next year, for freshmen and sophomores. But we also want students to be prepared for some of the advantages that technology can provide.” According to the NPS website, the Chromebooks will make it easier for students and teachers to troubleshoot. The website also said that the laptops will provide access to technology on demand in the classroom at all times.
Junior Khalil Lofton shoots a lay-up during warm-ups for a game against Natick Tuesday, Jan. 8. “There were times where I would say ‘open up Schoology,’ and the students could take out the laptops and open it up really
quick,” Shaughnessy said. “Small tasks that I would never take out a computer cart for. It was really helpful.”
Focus groups collect feedback on prototype schedules Amy Xue Focus groups at North and South met recently to collect student responses as a part of the feedback stage for three new prototype schedules for the two schools. Each aims to address problems with the current schedule, such as irregular end times, students’ social-emotional health, transportation for Metropolitan Council for Educatioanal Opportunity (METCO) students, and limited academic support opportunities. A working group, including principal Henry Turner, vice principal Amy Winston, South principal Joel Stembridge, teachers from both schools, and district representatives designed the schedules. The prototypes were created in response to the School Committee’s attempt to institute later start times. In 2015, the School Committee created the High School Start Time (HSST) working group to look into high school start times. Studies showed that students suffer from insufficient sleep, and that early start times disrupt normal teen circadian rhythms. The committee decided to move start times later for the high schools. To facilitate later start times, the committee has chosen to rework the schedule altogether. During the process of moving back start times, the committee suggested keeping the current block schedule, while pushing the start and end times later. However, students, teachers, and community members expressed concerns that by
Action Against Gun Violence Encourage open discourse about gun violence. Page 3
later end times would interfere with students’ after-school activities and parents’ schedules. Sophomore Sydney Morgan, who is part of the METCO program, said, “I think we’d all like the later start times, except I’d get home very late if the school day ended later. By late, I mean like eight o’clock.” In the winter of 2017, the committee decided to move forward in drafting a new schedule instead of reworking the old one. According to School Committee member Ruth Goldman, the group found that to start high school later while still ending at the same time, the school day had to be more “efficient.” The three new schedules will all feature a “flex block,” which is similar to X-block but in the middle of the day. They each have a different rotation of classes, based on a fiveday, six-day, or seven-day schedule.
The prototypes have longer, more infrequent blocks and a shorter 6.5 hour schedule per day. Some students said they felt that the rotational six or seven day schedules were a step in the wrong direction. “Only one of the proposed schedules that I looked at was a five-day set schedule rather than a rotation. I felt that the best change from the Day Middle School schedule to the North schedule was the set days since it made knowing which classes you have the next day easier,” said sophomore Jocelyn Sun. According to Turner, a problem with the current schedule is finding time for academic support because there are only two X-blocks per week, and many students have commitments after school or would rather go home early. “I think it’s really hard for ath-
letes to use X-block because of games and there are definitely times where students may be avoiding teachers, but ‘flex block’ would be able to help with those problems,” said Turner. “Having more ‘flex blocks’ would actually help students to get their work done.” The “flex block” is a period built into the schedule to allow students to meet with teachers, do homework, and have club meetings, among other possibilities. Other Massachusetts high schools such as Lexington High School and Brookline High School have successfully utilized this idea. “I loved the idea of having a ‘flex block’ in the middle of the day because it gives clubs a time to meet, and also it gives people time during the day to take a break if you don’t have a free in your schedule,” said senior Dominion Emmanuel. The new schedules also have
The three proposed prototype schedules, one of which may be implemented as early as fall of 2020.
Overcrowding Growing student populations create pressures across Newton. Pages 4–5
College Sports Recruitment Student-athletes share experiences with recruitment. Page 8
more long blocks, but they occur less often. “The current schedule and the amount of classes per day makes me a little bit stressed. I would prefer longer classes but less classes per day,” said sophomore Emily Huang. Emmanuel added that longer blocks would be beneficial to teachers, particularly those who teach AP classes. “I liked the idea of having fewer classes with longer blocks because our schedule now, with the five-day schedule, moves from class to class very fast and sometimes teachers don’t have enough time.” Some teachers, however, expressed concerns about the added stress of multiple long blocks. According to chemistry teacher Tatyana Osipenko, “Longer blocks are helpful, but I’m not a big fan of having a lot of them during the week. I feel like if the block is longer, students will have to get a lot more material, so there would be more homework.” Junior Dina Gorelik added that the longer blocks themselves could also be an additional source of stress. In the prototype schedules, “all the blocks are longer and I can barely handle one long block in each class. I can’t imagine having more of them every day,” she said. One concern about the prototypes has been the shortened school days. Instead of an average day of seven hours with North’s current schedule—which is longer than those of neighboring districts—the proposals average 6.5 hours per day.
Gaming Epidemic Fortnite and other video games create new form of teen addiction. Page 10
2 v The Newtonite, Newton North
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Engage with social media as ‘conscientious users’ In the senior class, roughly 500 out of the 550 students in the class belong to the class Facebook group. They share relevant updates, announcements, and, occasionally, offbeat memes. Facebook is the only common platform for student activities. Leaders make groups for their clubs and sports teams, share events, and use it as a form of common communication. Some clubs, like this publication, even require that their members create Facebook accounts so that they can be easily reached.
editorial Anyone who wants to be involved in student life has little choice but to open a Facebook account. With this account, however, unsuspecting users find themselves subscribed to Facebook’s scandalous behavior. This fall, The New York Times exposed the fact that Facebook’s public relations firm, Definers, launched a campaign to discredit critics of the company by linking them with billionaire George Soros. According to The Guardian, Soros’ support for liberal causes has made him “a target of the right, the fringes of which have recast Soros as a modern day embodiment of the classic anti-Semitic trope of a secretive Jewish cabal pulling the strings on world affairs.” Facebook’s head of communications, Elliot Schrage, said that the firm’s choice to target Soros was “completely legitimate,” according to Bloomberg Insider. This event is only the most recent in the long line of Facebook’s scandals since the 2016 election, where the company allowed Cambridge Analytica to analyze user data to create customized political advertisements and posts to appear on Facebook timelines. With the custom content, and other timeline settings the platform uses, Facebook has become a platform that encourages polarization in which each user’s feed affirms their pre-existing values. While any or all of these events could be enough to make users want to delete their Facebook accounts for good, little would come from this. One user or hundreds of users deleting their accounts
would barely make a dent in the 1.74 billion users the platform hosts. And, the Facebook-less student is left out of the loop. Facebook users at North can’t switch to another platform because sadly, one does not exist. Even if one did, no company is ever ethically perfect. Google’s sexual misconduct claims, iCloud’s frequent hacks, and the Common App’s accusations of antitrust violations doesn’t stop you from having to use them every day. In any case, adopting a new platform would not change the fundamental problem: there is no stopping a billion dollar company such as Facebook. It feels like we are powerless in this situation, but students should not write off their discontent with Facebook’s actions and use the platform blindly. Keep your profile, but learn how to become a conscientious user. Question why you aren’t seeing news of the government shutdown. Why do you keep watching those puppy videos? Ask yourself why you are always nodding in agreement with every article that pops up on Trump. Do you read beyond the headline before you share? Think about who is requesting to be your friend. Do you really have a thousand? Determine which aspects of Facebook are essential to you. Maybe your class Facebook group qualifies, but vacation photo albums do not. Cut out the unnecessary and use Facebook for what you want to, or have to, do. You have a choice in the matter even when it feels like you do not. You have a choice to push for limits to what companies like Facebook can analyze and do. You have a choice to write a letter to your congressman if you are politically minded. These are choices you can make to push back against Facebook’s increasing power and control in your life. This need to check powerful companies goes beyond Facebook. When you’re forced to sign up for anything that requires a terms of agreement check mark—whether it be for an Instagram profile, Netflix account, or Amazon order—think of it as an agreement to not only follow the company’s rules, but to make sure that they follow yours.
The Newtonite The Newtonite, founded in 1922, is the news source of Newton North High School, 457 Walnut St., Newtonville, Mass. 02460. Editors in chief — Samantha Fredberg and Sophia Zhou Managing editors — Will Kharfen, Laura Schmidt-Hong, Rose Skylstad Arts editors — Isabella Lecona, Carolyn McDonald, Amy Xue News editors — Jacques AbouRizk, Sophie Murthy, Yesha Thakkar, Helen Xiao Opinions editors — Skyler Bohnert, Zoe Goldstein, Cameron Kellstein Sports editors — Jacob Forbes, Nichol Weylman-Farwell
Graphic designer — Skyler Bohnert Business/advertisements & social media manager — Ophelia Baxter Advisers — Tom Fabian, Derek Knapp, Amanda Mazzola Blog staff — Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Mia Santagello Business staff — Isaac Tang Photo staff — Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Ella Bailey, Julia Bu, Ian Dickerman, Joel Schurgin Technology staff—Jason Figueiredo
The Newtonite staff does all its reporting and photography to post content daily to its website, thenewtonite.com. Sign up for The Newtonite’s monthly email newsletter on its website. In addition to the first day of school special, The Newtonite publishes a spring special, a graduation special, a club day special, and a midyear special. To place an advertisement in the online or print version of The Newtonite or to contact us by phone, please call 617-559-6273. Readers can also reach us at email@example.com.
Letters The Newtonite serves as a designated forum for student expression. Readers are invited to submit guest articles and letters to the firstname.lastname@example.org. The Newtonite reserves the right to edit all letters, which must have the writer’s name and a student’s class and homeroom.
Senior Rene Miller sings with Jubilee at the annual Holiday Concert Thursday, Dec. 20 in the auditorium.
Appreciate libraries’ ability to cultivate intellectual curiosity Zoe Goldstein Although my first library card is lost somewhere in the recesses of my house, I can still remember the day I walked up to the desk in the children’s section at the Newton Free Library to ask for it. My grandmother was with me, since I was only a small first-grader who loved Junie B. Jones and Harry Potter. Holding my grandmother’s hand, I stood on my tiptoes to request a library card from the librarian. “Can you write your name?” asked the familiar librarian, who I saw whenever I came to the library and wandered around, flicking through graphic novels or chapter books and plumbing the depths of the picture books room for the coziest bean bag chair.
column I nodded gravely, as the librarian handed me a blue plastic card and a pen. Grasping the pen, I slowly wrote my name on the card, overflowing with pride. My library card. I soon misplaced that card, eventually got another one, lost that one too, and then finally received a third one that, to this day, my mom protects from me in her purse. But this story is not about my tendency to lose library cards—it’s about the enduring pride of belonging to one at all, plastic card or not. It’s a pride in libraries in general, places that to me are a bastions of knowledge, equality, and the joy of reading. Yet in an age of lightning-fast screens equipped with Google, social media, and Wikipedia, the importance of libraries is sometimes underappreciated. Libraries are not showy or arrogant divas; they are humble public servants who quietly offer public access to vast swaths of information. They are not about consumption, spending, or instant gratification; their trademark is silence, searching, and connection to the perfect book. So it is perfectly understandable to sometimes forget that libraries even exist, or to just buy an e-book, or to read news on social media. But libraries are important because of that: they offer an opportunity to slow down, search, and connect in a world racing forward at the speed of light. First and foremost, in the age of the internet, libraries are a place for equal access to information. There is no fee to enter, so anyone has the
ability to locate a nearby branch and browse its selections. While some people may not have internet access, technology, or even books at home, the library offers all three while requiring nothing in return. If a student without a computer at home needs to research, type up, and print an essay, the library has their back. Libraries aren’t a perfect solution to the technological disparity, but they can help ease it; their service is essential to supplying everyone who has a well-funded nearby library with the tools they need to find what they’re looking for. As such, libraries help create equality through access to information in a world that is often skewed towards the wealthy, who can afford an assortment of electronic gadgets. For those of us who have internet access at home, which makes research relatively quick and easy, we can lose some of the satisfaction when it comes to the process of searching. At the library, it can be a journey up and down floors, through stacks, and up ladders to find the perfect source; in addition to that, it’s a journey through pages of material that aren’t important until you find the one piece that is. The process is humbling and calming, no matter how frustrating it can be. This search reminds us of all the books to read, knowledge to unearth, and the facts we may accidentally find while searching that may not be what we wanted but may spark a new idea in our heads. Despite the promise of connection available on the internet, scrolling through social media can be isolating. We are connecting with people across the globe, yes, but we are also sprawled on our beds in front of a screen, eyes glazing over. Libraries can combat this “connected” isolation with interpersonal connection and with a tactile connection to the information they provide. The purpose of going to the library is to find a book, but maybe you’ll see your neighbor there, awkwardly wave to your old history teacher grading papers at a desk hidden in the fiction section, or ask the librarian where to find a specific book, leading to a book recommendation or an invitation to a book group or just a moment of conversation. Furthermore, libraries create a real connection to books—the act of cradling a stack
of novels in my arms or sliding them under the scanner one by one reminds me how much I love to read. It takes me away from my aimless Googling and grounds me in paper and dust jacket. Libraries are nothing if not an antidote to aimlessness and internet-induced stupor. You’re forced to confront the outside world while also being able to curl up in a fantastical one. They’re a reminder of the slow process, of information equality, and of reading, all things that are often overlooked. Moreover, when I enter the library, whether it be the LLC or a small branch library, I am sometimes overcome with reminders of the awe I felt as a young child, staring up at the endless shelves of books that were miles beyond my first grade phonics and vocabulary lessons, but nevertheless books I might one day be able to read. The hushed environment of the library and the plastic card nestled in my palm constantly reassure me of the incredible fact that libraries exist— what is more noble than a public institution taxpayers vote to provide the community with, an organization built upon giving out information for free to anyone willing and supplying people with a safe space to run away to the world of books? Nothing else I can think of. We as students at North can tap into these benefits at the LLC. Behind the sometimes tense relationships with librarians and seemingly arbitrary rules, the LLC helps students succeed through its collection of books, internet and technology access, and availability as a quiet place to do work. We should take advantage of this library while we can, and strive, because of all the reasons above, to continue the tradition of libraries on into the future and keep libraries alive. This assertion does not negate the joy of finding the perfect essay source on Questia, or how vital it is to adapt to and make use of the internet. Instead, we should keep in mind the importance of libraries as an escape and a counterbalance, a reminder of our roots, an equalizer, and as a propagator of awe. And finally, as a place to read in silence, uninterrupted, with only the sound of pages turning and the librarian shushing people who are talking too loud.
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Newton North, The Newtonite v 3
Honest dialogue aids children in processing trauma Serena Jampel I first heard about the Pittsburgh shooting on October 27 just before lunch. I was sitting at a cafeteria table in the dining hall of Camp Ramah, a wooded enclave for hundreds of Jewish young adults during the summer months. My temple had organized a retreat for B’nai Mitzvot students, who were exploring the Jewish identity and their place within it for the weekend. I was a counselor for a bunk of five girls, who most enjoyed spontaneous dance parties and late-night rendezvous in the bathroom, much to my chagrin. As I checked the news on my phone, before me sat three twelve year-old girls. We had been discussing their experiences in the sixth grade at the F.A. Day and Brown Middle Schools. by
guest writer My eyes scanned the headline, and at first, I felt nothing. Another shooting. A frustrated harumph and a short, angry tirade about the merits of gun control paired with a sad, disapproving shake of my head would have been my reaction had I not read further. “Tree of Life Synagogue.” “Hateful anti-Semite.” Then I felt cold and numb. The girls asked me what was going on, so I told them. “There has been a mass shooting at a synagogue.” “Oh no!” they said, “That’s not good.” Then they continued their conversation, as kids do, now that shootings are commonplace. The news of another shooting flickers briefly in the forefront of popular consciousness, then quickly fades into oblivion. Columbine, the first incident in this new era of school shootings, occurred in 1999, a full 20 years ago. We, the current students of Newton North, have lived our entire lives under the shadowy threat of mass shootings. I asked the supervisors, all adults, if they had heard the news. They told me it was awful, that such an act was despicable and horrific, that if I needed support I could talk to them, but under no circumstance
should I tell the sixth-graders. “We think it’d be better if we didn’t have crying kids on our hands right now” is the gist of what they said. But I had already informed three girls of the news with no fanfare nor hesitation. I had told them instinctively because, regardless of their reaction, they deserved to know. They deserved to be given the opportunity to process and to understand rather than be deprived of reality. Throughout my years of schooling, I have experienced that same censorship. When I was in fifth grade, 20 kindergarteners were shot to death in a New England elementary school in Newtown. Just one letter away from my own city’s name, the incident felt close to home. I, too, was an elementary school student at the time. My parents sat me down and reassured me that I was safe, and that school shootings are exceedingly rare. They eased the intense, cold numbness I had been feeling. This, I remember, but I do not recall any such conversation in class. I was in chorus class a month later when our principal announced a lockdown. “THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” his voice blared through the loudspeaker. My memories take on a kaleidoscopic quality, vivid fragments shattered by fear and confusion. We ran into the gym but were quickly ushered into the library because the gym doors could not lock. In the library, we huddled in the corner in dead silence. I remember seeing the colorful displays of books and the picturesque windows as vulnerabilities, places where possible danger lurked. Outside the library, we heard frantic stomping and banging on doors. Inside, we heard the quiet sobs of our classmates and the pounding of our hearts. Even afterward, when it became clear that it was a false alarm, the confusion persisted. That day is etched in my memory not because of the actual lockdown, but because of the true terror I felt. Fast forward to this past February. Seventeen high school students were gunned down at a suburban
Students walk out in support of nationwide efforts for gun control following the Parkland shooting Thursday, March 15, 2018. school just like North. Once again, it could have been me. Some of us attended school the next day, minds reeling, only to encounter business as usual from many teachers. Math class consisted of more geometry, and orbitals and electron configuration continued in chemistry. While perhaps those teachers intended to give students stability by carrying on as usual, I felt unmoored. Was the world still the same today as yesterday? And how could it possibly remain unchanged? I was once again confused, just as I was back in the fifth grade. A few days later, the fire alarm blared in the hallways, and as the alarm sounded, everyone ran to the classroom door. The unspoken thought running through our minds was that we would be targets in the hallway, just like in Parkland. Overnight, a fire evacuation, a safety measure previously performed without question, became a symbol of violence. When we returned to the building, we resumed motifs in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The administration made no announcement addressing the unspoken anxiety. So, when the three girls looked at me with questioning eyes across
the cafeteria table, I did not hesitate. I said what I would have wanted to hear: the facts, eliminating the ignorance and uncertainty, and affording them time to process. The kids were cellphone-less, tasked with spending an entire weekend unplugged. As so, they were completely in the dark until they arrived home on Sunday. Until then, we said prayers and discussed Judaism, but we did not mention that eleven people were murdered for their Jewish identity. Perhaps the supervisors were right. Kids could have been deeply disturbed by the reality of violence and persecution. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 14,637 deaths in 2018 related to gun violence. In just as many days, there have been 331 mass shootings. Pittsburgh has already become just another date on a timeline of gun violence in America. With so many mass shootings, it is difficult not to develop apathy. From what I witnessed, the girls I spoke to were apathetic. The supervisors monitored them, grilling me on how they were behaving after hearing the news. They were not distressed, overwhelmed, or inconsolable. In fact, they seemed un-
fazed as they did activities related to Torah study and their upcoming Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. Becoming a Bat Mitzvah in Judaism means becoming a daughter of “mitzvah,” or commandments. One such commandment in our faith is Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. Tikkun Olam, as I define it, means refusing to normalize and accept problems with our nation, instead facing them with the purpose of healing. If we had told the kids, we could have healed together, erased the confusion, fear, and apathy, then taught them to hope and to act in pursuit of a better future. Knowledge is power, and arming students with the knowledge of tragedies gives them the power to envision the end of gun violence. Our most effective weapon against guns and mass shootings is not more guns, nor is it metal-free fortresses disguised as schools and houses of worship. It is our voices, especially those of young people, that will repair the world. In order to cultivate the voices of future generations, we cannot censor ourselves for the sake of blissful ignorance. Only through candid conversation will we sow a new era of peace.
Broaden concept of ‘home,’ look beyond four walls
Sophia Zhou In the pitter-pattering rain, a skinny little girl named Julie led a motley crew through the muddy streets of Beijing, China. At the corner of the street, her face lit up with a shy smile and she waved at a sausage vendor up ahead. “Hi uncle!” she said, using the common term of respect for an older man. Diverting his attention from his customers, the sausage vendor responded, “Oh, Julie! I haven’t seen you in so long. Come stop by and visit when you have the chance.” Julie mostly kept to herself. On the streets, however, she shined with quiet energy I had never seen. This was the outskirts of Beijing. Not the concrete jungle of skyscrapers and the inner city, but the dusty, muddy home of thousands of migrants from all over China. Julie and her family are four of these migrants. They had moved to Beijing from a small rural town in the Eastern province of Anhui when Julie was only six years old in hopes of a better life. I met Julie this past summer when I taught English at an overnight summer camp run by Dandelion Middle School, a school for migrant children in Beijing. As a part of the program, all the teachby
ers visited one of their students for a “home visit” in order to better understand the environment they were living in. The teachers of my class visited Julie. On that rainy day, Julie led us to her house. Walking through her neighborhood, sights and sounds inundated the senses. It felt a world away from the quiet and calm of the schoolyard. It felt even further from the hushed silence of my Newton neighborhood. Grandmothers,with their grandchildren in hand, meandered in and out of the shops, chatting up a storm with the owners. Teenagers, cash in hand, crowded around the open door of a convenience store, eager to spend their pocket money on candy and ice cream. Little children, with the pee flap of their pants hanging loose, ran around in frenzied circles, shouting at the top of their lungs. Even in the heavy rain, the street hummed with life. Julie navigated this world with ease. She weaved through the various crowds, darting left and right while the rest of us followed closely on her heels, fearful of falling behind in the chaos of the road. Finally, we arrived at a short four-story building on a small street off the main road. As we entered, we bumped into Julie’s neighbor,
who was leaving to buy groceries. “Ah it’s so good to see you! Are you back already?” she exclaimed, pulling Julie in for a hug. Julie smiled, responding softly, “No, we’re just here for a home visit.” Beaming at the six of us, Julie’s neighbor ushered us quickly inside, out of the rain. We entered the building, climbing up three flights of winding stairs, past the other neighbors, up to Julie’s home. Julie’s dad greeted us at the door. As it turns out, home was not the two-story house with a nice yard that I had imagined. Nor was it the comfortable three bedroom suite that is common in China. Home was a rented apartment the size of my 160ft2 bedroom in Newton. On the right of the door was a table that served as a dining table, desk, and vanity all rolled into one. To the left was an entire wall dedicated to an assortment of hardware tools and large strips of sheet metal. This was where Julie’s father, a mechanic, stored his tools. Straight ahead was a queen-sized bed that the family of four—Julie, her parents, and her brother—all shared. At night, the four of them lay down feet to head, head to feet. Off to the side of the bed was a closet that held all of their clothes. The closet also held the stove and microwave.
We filed slowly into the room. There were only two chairs in the entire house, so Julie’s dad invited us to sit on the bed. No tour of the house was needed. Everything before my eyes was everything they owned. There wasn’t even a window to look out through. Julie and her family had lived there for six years. Perched on their bed, I couldn’t help but think about my own house, which seemed like a mansion in comparison. The classic suburban two-story house with a basement and attic. Four bedrooms. Two baths. A dining room, living room, office, and a kitchen. And enough lounging room to seat an army— or at least an entire English class. In Julie’s house, lounging was a foreign concept. Nevertheless, the ease Julie exhibited on the street never left. The home visit was quite brief, however, it was merely a house visit. Walking back down the stairs, another one of Julie’s neighbor came out of the house and hugged her goodbye. On the way back, curious to know how Julie felt living in such a small house, I asked her. To my surprise, Julie was unbothered by the size of her house. She spent most of her time outside anyways. In the neighborhood,
there were friends waiting to hang out, and aunts, uncles, and grandparents eager to dote on young children. Thinking of the quiet affluent neighborhoods of Newton, I could not imagine spending most of my time outside. After all, there were Netflix shows to be watched and resting on the sofa to be done. Like my neighbors, I would much rather stay inside in the comfort of my house. Specifically, a well-worn spot on the couch next to the porch window. To spend that much time outside would mean closing out of YouTube, stepping away from the computer, and entering the empty streets. No friends, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Just the whoosh of passing cars. Julie had managed to find comfort among her neighborhood of dirty gray buildings and bustling streets outside. In the neighbors, the street vendors, the little kids running around, she found home. What we failed to recognize was that we had conducted our “home visit” in the wrong place. It does not matter that Julie’s house is small. It simply serves a very functional purpose as a place to sleep and eat. A place to keep her belongings. Her home is much bigger than any architectural cage could ever be.
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Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
As concerns mount over growing student population, district dodges potential redistricting, construction about safety revolve mainly around evacuation times. “We came into the building at 1,800 students, and now we have 2,100 students. That’s 300 more students we have to get out of the building,” said Winston. However, according to both principal Henry Turner and Winston, North is in compliance with safety regulations through the completion of its safety day and other drills. “Would I say we’re dangerous? No, but absolutely, it has had an impact on the safety of the building in an emergency situation,” Winston added. Still, this issue could have created even greater negative impacts if not for actions taken during the past few years.
Attempts to solve the issue
Students lounge on Main Street during third lunch Wednesday, Jan. 9. This activity has become common due to limited cafeteria space and a Student Faculty Administration (SFA) initiative opening the area during lunches. Helen Xiao s the clock hits 8:45 a.m., students begin flooding out of classrooms into North’s hallways. Although the five minutes between blocks may seem long enough to walk between classrooms, North’s hallways during transition periods at times resemble highways during rush hour. by
“We love that people are utilizing the space, but unfortunately, when we are overcrowded, students who want to study in the library may not be able to access some of the resources that we have.” - librarian, Erin Dalbec North’s student population has steadily increased in recent years. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education’s School and District Profiles (SDP), North’s student population has increased from 1,770 students in 2010, the year the new building opened, to 2,148 students in 2018. Yet, despite holding over 2,100 students, the current North building was originally built to accommodate no more than 1,850 students, according to the 2010 Building Committee report on the school’s construction. The 300—and growing—student difference in a building largely unequipped to handle it has created pressures around North, leading to concerns within the community.
North’s overall student population, classroom sizes have stayed largely consistent at a 21.7 student average starting in 2010, and the ratio has stayed consistent at 11.5 students per teacher since 2014, according to the district’s Enrollment Planning and Class Size Report. However, the lack of available classrooms can prove limiting in certain departments at North. For example, the school “can only offer so many sections of robotics because we only have one robotics classroom,” said vice principal Amy Winston. Still, Winston added, while larger classes have emerged, departments at North always strive to minimize class sizes, as evidenced in the steady average class size. While classroom settings remain unaffected, students and faculty add that other spaces in the building have appeared unable to fit North’s growing student population. In particular, the library can easily become overcrowded depending on teacher absences for a specific day, according to librarian Erin Dalbec. “When the library is complete-
ly filled, that’s great,” she said. “We love that people are utilizing the space, but unfortunately, when we are overcrowded, students who want to study in the library may not be able to access some of the resources that we have.” From her own experience with overcrowding in the library, senior Maya Mathews said, “during the end of the day, you cannot find a seat in the library to do work at all.” These capacity issues have spilled out into other areas of the school. The auditorium, for instance, is currently just large enough for each student class, according to Winston, having been built for roughly 600 students. Even this space faces obstacles in terms of future student accommodation, as “the current seventh graders are an incredibly large class and will not fit in the auditorium,” she said. North’s cafeteria has faced similar challenges in accommodating students, with many forced at times to use space outside of the cafeteria to eat and socialize. “Whenever I try to go during third lunch to eat, I can’t find a seat
in the lunchroom,” said sophomore Kevin Wu. “I have to go sit in the hallway next to the athletic wing, and people walking by will complain that I’m sitting in their walking space.” Overcrowding across North may pose more serious predicaments, even potentially endangering students’ safety. “I worry about the overcrowding in the cafeteria, because sometimes I think that’s a real dangerous situation—because what’s going to happen if we’re in lockdown?” said campus aide Nickole Mitchell, who regulates and oversees student behavior in the cafeteria and other areas around the school. “We’re told to go in the Career Center, but if it’s overcrowded with kids, we can’t do that.” Aside from cafeteria safety, Wu added that overcrowding may pose problems for students during evacuations. Already, “North has narrow hallways and small staircases,” he said, and the layout of the school and large student population make him concerned that there might be a fire hazard. According to Winston, concerns
Results of overcrowding Rising student populations at North manifest in different areas of the school. Despite clear increases in
Changes in the layout of the school from the old building to the current building.
The issue of overcrowding is complex, and the struggle to find a solution has been met with opposing answers. In an interview from this past spring about the state of education in Newton, superintendent David Fleishman said the issue of overcrowding can be resolved by “working internally to figure out how to have workplaces and workstations for students.” According to Winston, however, school redistricting is ultimately the most effective strategy. “At a point there’s kind of a limit to what we can do,” she said. While a more long-term solution is debated, members of the North community have proposed a number of internal solutions to lessen these burdens of overcrowding.
“Would I say we’re dangerous? No, but absolutely, it has had an impact on the safety of the building in an emergency situation.” - vice principal, Amy Winston
To address accommodation issues in the cafeteria, a student-led Student Faculty Administration (SFA) initiative opened Main Street as a lunch space during the 2017– 2018 school year and as a hangout space during the beginning of this school year. Furniture, including tables and chairs, were set out on Main Street, providing students with more space to eat lunch, hang out, and study. These actions in particular allowed students who are unable to work in the library to study and access resources. “Main Street has helped in that, although we’re a growing population, we haven’t had as many issues this year with overcrowding in the library,” said Dalbec. She added that the librarians are advocating for computers and printers to be made available on the first floor as well. “This way we don’t have to feel bad for students who may not be able to come to the library, because we know that those resources are available to them in another place,” she said. Main Street also significantly impacted student accommodation in the cafeteria, according to Mathews. ◆ continued on page 5
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 ◆ continued from page 4 “I am so grateful for the opening of Main Street because people can actually have a place to sit down with their friends and eat,” Mathews said. Sophomores’ open campus privileges were implemented as another strategy to deal with the growing population. “As we got bigger, giving second semester open campus to sophomores was a necessity,” Winston said. She added that study halls are some of the largest classes in the building. Now, when second semester starts, that large group of students no longer uses classroom space and teachers’ time for study halls.
to the public, Newton residents pushed for it to be lower. The layout plan then went through “value engineering,” a process where the design was altered to lower the price, according to Winston. Despite this value engineering, North still became the most expensive public high school in Massachusetts at the time at $197 million. One major change was that it had a smaller space than initially intended. While school-wide solutions to tackle these pressures have been made, district-wide solutions could potentially lessen the overcrowding North’s past has caused.
Construction and history
“We work to balance the enrollment of North and South to ensure that neither high school bears too large a load of high school students,” said Toby Romer, assistant superintendent for secondary education and special programs. The construction of the new North building, according to Winston, was in part intended to serve this purpose and equalize the schools’ sizes. “Back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, North had 2,400 students, and South had 1,600 students,” Winston said. “If they had equalized it effectively, then both high schools would be at 2,000. This building was built with that in mind, with the idea of trying to keep both high schools under 2,000.” Still, 1,893 students are currently enrolled at South, about 250 less than at North, according to the SDP. However, despite this difference in student populations, both high schools have experienced increases in the number of students their buildings must accommodate. “When the building was opened, the economy was taking a downturn, and so more people were pulling their kids out of private schools and into public schools, increasing student population,” said Winston. Turner added that this growth was citywide, despite some saying more students were attracted to North and its new building. “People are attracted to Newton because
These attempts to address overcrowding have proved effective in certain areas of the building, but the roots of overcrowding ultimately run far deeper, stemming from events in the building’s past. “We could have had another set of classrooms built, and our hallways are much smaller than what they were originally designed to be,” said Winston.
“We work to balance the enrollment of North and South to ensure that neither high school bears too large a load of high school students.” - assistant superintendent for secondary education and special programs, Toby Romer According to The Boston Globe, the city of Newton initially planned a $40 million renovation of the old building in 2000. The plan changed to a complete reconstruction of the building, raising the cost to $220 million. This price included knocking down the old building and removing oil tanks buried underneath it. After the price was released
Newton North, The Newtonite v 5
of the great schools,” Turner said. Today, this growth continues, with construction occurring in many areas of Newton. Housing built on Washington Street and construction occurring at Riverside and Needham Street apartments are currently underway, which will eventually streamline more students to North and South. While sending North students to South may seem like a viable solution, “redistricting is very political,” according to Winston. “People buy houses with the schools they will be going to in mind,” she said. “It would be a huge shock when they have to go to South instead of coming to North.”
Expectations for the future As student populations continue to increase year after year, the problem of overcrowding appears more and more pressing—and more and more unsolvable. Expanding areas of the school, like the cafeteria, through construction may seem like an obvious solution to overcrowding. However, according to Fleishman, North is not a priority. “We clearly have some issues with buildings, but many of them
around the condition of the buildings, and obviously North is in superior condition,” he said. “Adding space at North is not on the Facilities Planning list right now.” According to Turner, this decision is both complicated and costly. “Building costs a lot of money” and must “make it through the school committee, and then the community would have to agree,” he said.
“Adding space at North is not on the Facilities Planning list right now.” - superintendent, David Fleishman
While construction is out of the school’s control, Turner said looking at ways to alter the school schedule may lessen overcrowding. “Our hallways are our hallways so it’s hard to reduce hallway overcrowding. However, we can look at the schedule and passing times, which could be a possible solution.” Alterations in the school sched-
ule could also relieve pressures of overcrowding during lunch and transitions between lunch blocks, according to Winston. One solution, she said, is implementing a schedule with four lunch blocks, which would “free up some of the space in the cafeteria” and “mean fewer kids in the hallways between lunches.” Yet despite the uncomfortable problems overcrowding poses, students seem to have learned to work around these inconveniences. Even when hallways are jammed between periods, they find ways to squeeze through and reach their next classes. They utilize Main Street when possible and eat outside the cafeteria in warm weather. As a result of these adaptations, the overcrowding situation does not appear as pressing as it is. But with a community that is growing larger every year, these changes may not be sufficient in the future. Both options of redistricting and construction are controversial and complex. If student population continues to grow at the current rate beyond the forseeable future, these difficult decisions will become increasingly unavoidable.
Navigating North’s political compass
6 v The Newtonite, Newton North
Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018
Votes on statewide questions by political party
Examining the ‘liberal bubble’ When living in the political bubble of Newton, it can be hard to recognize that there is more to politics than the labels Democrat and Republican. We on The Newtonite wanted to gain an accurate view of politics at North beyond this party divide. At a basic level, we wanted to know: how liberal is North? In order to answer this question, we assembled a compass showing an alternative means to identifying political position. We gathered data assessing voting in relation to political party. We collected student comments reacting to the results of our data. Students should explore the information provided on this page not only to better understand their school, but also to recognize the complexities in their own views and identities.
Newton North, The Newtonite v 7
Popular issues by student vote
Political Compass AUTHORITARIAN
Statewide Question 1: Nursing Patient Cap
Statewide Question 2: Citizens Commission
Statewide Question 3: Transgender Rights
Graph and data collection by math teacher Charles Rooney.
Layout and design by Jake Forbes, Samantha Fredberg, Sophia Zhou Additional research by Jacques Abou-Rizk, Rose Skylstad, and Nichol Weylman-Farwell
Students react to ‘surprising’ survey results by Isabella
LIBERTARIAN The political compass reveals that differences and similarities between political figures are more complex than the assumptions created by their party affiliations. Figures on the compass are analyzed on the basis of left, right, authoritarian, and libertarian. This assessment differs from what students are used to on a liberal to conservative scale. For this graph, the left/right axis maintains a focus on economic policy, while the authoritarian/libertarian axis focuses on social policy.
For example, Joseph Stalin maps as an authoritarian leftist. As a socialist, Stalin enforced a collective, state-controlled economy, which places him on the left. He maintained the policy that the state was more important than the individual, which places him toward authoritarian. Mapping left, right, authoritarian, and libertarian positions on the political compass allows for a simple, yet more detailed analysis of certain figures’ views, even your own. Scan the QR code to find out where you stand.
To see where you map on the political compass, scan below!
Lecona At North, it is typical to refer to Newton as a “liberal bubble.” This term is used by residents to describe how the city’s seemingly left-leaning tendencies lead young people and even adults to fall into the trap of assuming that all residents think the same way. A Newtonite survey conducted in homerooms across all four grades attempts to gauge the accurate political climate at North beyond this liberal assumption. Two homerooms from each grade were selected randomly for the survey. Students anonymously answered questions regarding their political party, who they would have voted for in the midterm elections, and the citywide and statewide ballot questions. After receiving the survey results, The Newtonite interviewed another random sampling of students for their reactions to the data. The snapshot provided by this limited survey challenges the generalization that Newton is simply a community of like-minded liberals. In terms of the traditional party breakdown, 16.9 percent of the survey participants identified as Republicans, which junior Casey Weaver found “surprising.” While the Republican population is still a minority compared to the 63.4 percent of Democratic participants, “it usually appears that they are a small minority at North,” Weaver said. Gender and sexuality is an important issue to North students. Therefore, it is not surprising that survey respondents voted this issue as the most discussed topic at this school. For Question 3, voting to uphold a state law protecting transgender
people in public accommodations, results for North students closely matched those of the city with 83.1 percent voting “yes” and 16.9 percent voting “no.” Despite the similarity, this outcome surprised many students. The number of “no” votes was “a lot more than I would have thought,” said sophomore Lily Wood. “At North we have a lot of gender neutral bathrooms and a large community of people who are out as LGBTQ, so I expected the ‘yes’ votes to be way higher.” Such reactions were common in our interviews and seem to reflect a disconnect between what people see at school and what they assume people feel privately. Sophomore Dylan Fort expressed similar thoughts. “It surprised me that so many people voted ‘no,’ because I think in Newton we pretend that we are really accepting, but this survey clearly shows that we are not that accepting,” he said. The majority of self-identified Democrats voted “yes” for this question, while self-identified Republicans were relatively split in the middle. For Question One on nurse patient limits, however, there was actually little correlation between a person’s party and their opinion on whether or not there should be a maximum number of patients a nurse can serve at a time. Each party’s pool of participants was roughly split on the topic. That the outcomes on these questions were not entirely expected perhaps speaks to a lack of outspoken conservative voices in the school and recognition of the complexity of
political beliefs at North. Junior Dian-Dian Jonas-Walsh said, “While my views resonate with those in the community in general, I imagine that it could be hard for people with conservative views to express those views and have a voice in a community that seems, on the whole, liberal.” Out of the randomly selected students asked to react, seven refused to comment. Some explained that they were afraid of sharing their views because they did not match those of the liberal majority at this school. Others even expressed worry that they would be targeted or ostracized if their names were published. “Regardless of whether or not it’s a legitimate concern, I find myself often worrying that if I say the wrong things, or even just fail to say the right things, then my classmates will start viewing me in a negative light,” said senior Ethan Gahm. Senior Sarah White suggests that characterizing Newton as a “liberal bubble” only feeds a stereotype that can lead to the kind of self-censorship of which Gahm speaks. “I think that everyone at North has a chance to share their opinions, but I also recognize that it may be easier for some to share their opinions than it is for others,” said White, adding that it is important to remember “in general, there is a power in numbers. People who know that the majority of the class will support them are more likely to express their opinion, whereas the minority might not feel as secure.”
8 v The Newtonite, Newton North
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
College athletic recruitment process requires persistence
Courtesy of Ashley Wang
Senior Ashley Wang poses for a photo with members of the volleyball team on National Signing Day Thursday, Nov. 15. Jake Forbes When senior Ashley Wang sat down to sign her recruitment contract, her parents stood behind her smiling. They wore matching “Harvard Mom” and “Harvard Dad” t-shirts with their arms wrapped around their daughter. Wang’s signature finalized her decision to participate in collegiate athletics. Even though Wang, a volleyball player, is one of 49 thousand student-athletes at U.S. universities, this number is only six percent of the 7.3 million that participate in high school athletics. The path of college athletic recruitment is vastly different from a regular application process, and it is not a common or easy one either. Because it is so difficult, student-athletes often rely on others for help throughout the process. Since collegiate-level athletics are so competitive, student-athletes must complete a recruitment process so that they can select the best college that they can get into. Even though college coaches are able to watch student-athletes in either eighth grade or freshman year, NCAA regulations forbid them from actually contacting the students until junior year. While waiting to discuss recruitment with college coaches, student-athletes can attend college camps so that coaches can observe their playing abilities. Wang, who attended the Harvard volleyball recruitment camp during her freshman and sophomore years, said, “The camps allowed me to meet the coaches and let them see me play in person and see my personality.” After attending college camps, student-athletes generally develop their list of potential colleges. Throughout junior year, they begin to tour the campuses they are interested in. “I visited all of those schools throughout my junior year and last summer for unofficial visby
its,” said senior Theo Burba, a track athlete who committed to Duke University in the fall. After visiting colleges, student athletes gradually narrow down their list of colleges until two or three schools remain. The final decision concludes a year already filled with stress by making their most important athletic decision in high school. Many students struggle to balance other responsibilities with those brought on by recruitment because it is a long and strenuous process during junior year. “Many people tell me how lucky I am to get recruited, but it is so stressful. The stress just comes earlier,” said Burba. “It is difficult talking about it with your friends because they all haven’t gone through the process yet.”
“Many people tell me how lucky I am to get recruited, but it is so stressful.” - senior Theo Burba Specifically, student-athletes can be particularly stressed about communicating with dozens of college coaches during the recruitment process. According to senior Ariana Bunch, a soccer player who committed to American International College, the direct communication between a single student-athlete and the many coaches they contact can get complicated. “I went to a clinic for UNH, and they loved me, but I emailed them and they never responded,” she said. “It was really difficult not to hear back from a college, especially since I struggled with confidence throughout the process.” Wang also faced challenges while communicating with coaches in the early part of her recruitment
process. “I had a hard time contacting coaches because there are a lot of rules, which made it a lot more stressful.” She added, “You have to keep emailing and calling coaches, and make sure that both of you are on the same page.” Persistence in contacting college coaches is only one of the many obstacles student-athletes encounter when navigating the process. While their athletic talent catches the eye of college recruiters, it’s the aid from coaches and parents that help with the specifics of the process. Coaches help develop players’ athletic abilities, aid athletes in contacting coaches, and act as an emotional backbone throughout the process. Many student-athletes take advantage of the benefits provided by club programs in order to better their athletic abilities. Wang is a member of SMASH Volleyball, an elite club program. According to Wang, SMASH head coach Kai Yuen has helped her “become a better player.” “He would give me private lessons to help improve on different skills,” said Wang. “He knows the game and his players so well that he knows how to coach players to their best ability.” While Burba no longer trains with a club coach, he has previously worked closely with girls’ track coach Joe Tranchita at Waltham Track Club. “He taught me how to run efficiently when I was younger,” said Burba. Like Burba, senior Emma MacLean, a softball player who committed to Roger Williams University, worked closely with her club coach, Mark Hernandez. “His program is based around getting girls into college,” she said. “Having been a coach in this business for over 20 years, we have sent a lot of players on to play at the next level,” said Hernandez. “We pride ourselves in giving hon-
est, truthful feedback to coaches in regards to players. That keeps them coming back in my opinion.” According to MacLean, Hernandez acted “like a college counselor.” She added, “We sat down, and he asked me what I wanted to do, where I want to go, and what I wanted to study. He would give me ideas on what the coaches were like at each college.” During the season, high school coaches develop special bonds with student-athletes because they spend several hours a day with each other. For MacLean, it was physical education teacher Lauren Baugher, head coach of the softball team, who helped her contact college coaches. “She helped contact Endicott College for me, which is a school I was looking at for a long time,” MacLean said. Burba received help from math teacher Shawn Wallace, the head coach of the boys’ indoor track team. “Coach Wallace made it clear to me that it was my decision, but he would help me if I needed any guidance. Some coaches would email him asking about me, but he always asked me if I wanted him to reply,” Burba said.
“I try to provide a sense of reality and remind students that they should go to a school where they really want to be.” - athletic director Tom Giusti
Even though coaches can do a lot to help student-athletes through the process, it is important for them to allow the student to figure things out themselves as well. Wallace believes that the responsibility falls on the student to move the progress foward. “I think the kids should be making the decision for themselves,” said Wallace. “I was there as someone that he could bounce ideas off
of, but I never tried to interject my opinion or persuade him in any way.” In addition to receiving support from Wallace, Burba relied heavily on the help of his parents. They were able to help him with the logistics of the process that must be dealt with on a daily basis. “Both my parents ran track in college, so they somewhat knew what it was like to go through the recruitment process,” he said. “My dad was really involved in the process and did a lot of research about the coaches and their backgrounds, but also the academics and how I needed to perform on my tests. He also helped plan for my visits.” Bunch said that athletic director Tom Giusti was another supportive and helpful figure in the process. “I talked to Giusti a lot, especially afterward, because he helped to reassure me that I had made the right decision. He’s a really good guy to talk to,” she said. “I try to provide a sense of reality and remind students that they should go to a school where they really want to be,” said Giusti. Even with influential figures such as coaches, parents, and athletic directors to help student-athletes throughout recruitment, Burba said that the process ultimately requires timeliness and commitment from the student-athletes themselves. “Everything in the process for recruiting happens a year earlier than the normal college process,” he said. “You just need to get it done early. Keep in touch with coaches and stay up to date with your tests.” The college recruitment process is not filled with butterflies and rainbows. It is known as a process because of the various steps it entails, which includes hours of behind the scenes work. While many high school athletes dream of playing collegiate sports, few take the path of athletic recruitment. For roughly six percent, everything falls into place. “I love the sport and I honestly don’t think I would be happy without playing it,” said Wang.
Courtesy of Theo Burba
Math teacher Shawn Wallace, head coach of boys’ indoor track, speaks about senior Theo Burba on National Signing Day Thursday, Nov. 15.
Community weighs costs, benefits of proposed schedules ◆ continued from page 1 “As a parent, I am troubled by the proposed schedule,” said North parent Jeffrey Pontiff. “Forty-four minutes per school day is cut, which adds up to 132 hours cut per year.” Pontiff and other parents wrote letters to Newton community members in December urging them to contact Mayor Ruthanne Fuller with an active stance
against the schedule change. However, all the plans largely surpass the Massachusetts requirement of at least 990 hours of academic learning time per year. For many students, the shorter school day is not a point of concern. “I’m not too worried about shortened education time because, as many of our teachers have drilled into our heads, length does not equate to quality,” said Sun.
“I was told that there would be a change in curriculum to fit the new schedules. This could mean that classes would be more concise rather than long-winded, so it would be higher quality classes.” Sun added that shorter school days would give students more time to finish homework, participate in extracurriculars and catch up on much needed sleep. As some students from South
take career and technology programs at North, they currently have to miss three blocks in order to attend a class at North because South starts ten minutes earlier than North. The new schedules would be instituted in both high schools, putting North and South on the same schedule. Despite the potential problems with the new schedule, there is still some time to work them out be-
fore it is implemented. According to Winston, once the current feedback stage is over, the School Committee will select a prototype to present to superintendent David Fleishman, who will approve or veto the proposal. If approved, the teacher’s union and the School Committee will negotiate new working hours. The earliest the schedule will be implemented is 2020.
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Newton North, The Newtonite v 9
Adams leaves lasting impact on boys’ lacrosse team Jacques Abou-Rizk “Newton North lacrosse is Bussy Adams,” says athletic director Tom Giusti. After three state championships, six eastern mass championships, and over 39 years of dedication, boys’ lacrosse head coach Bussy Adams will retire, although he plans to continue watching games from the stands as a parent and fan. Adams graduated from North in 1975 and played lacrosse at Boston State College (now UMass Boston). Soon after, he became the assistant boys’ lacrosse coach at North in 1980. Seven years later, he was appointed head coach and has held the position for the last 32 years. “He has been the face of Newton North lacrosse,” Giusti said. “Those two names, lacrosse and Bussy, are synonymous.” Adams began his lacrosse career as a player at North, joining the junior varsity team as a sophomore, and making the varsity team his junior and senior year. He continued playing the sport throughout college. In 2004, he was inducted into the Newton North Hall of Fame. Aside from coaching at North, Adams runs several youth programs including a Newton recreational indoor program, a winter program, and a summer camp through Newton Community Education. “The game of lacrosse has become more highly skilled,” Giusti said. “As Bussy always said, ‘it’s the fastest game on two feet,’ so he is able to coach those skills and develop those skills with his young players. As lacrosse developed more and more, he has had a tremendous amount to do with it.” by
As head coach, Adams brought North’s team to victory at the state championships in 1993, 1995, and 1996. He said that he still considers every year one to remember. “I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to teach in the high school that I went to, and, in 39 years, I’ve met with thousands of kids, many of which I still keep in contact with,” Adams said. “It was all about the life lessons that kids learned, that hard work pays off.” Former North lacrosse player Mike Engels, ‘95, played under Adams for three years, winning two state championships with him. Everything was always for the good of the team, according to Engels. “I think of Bussy’s legacy as selflessness. He expected a lot, but he also gave a lot in return,” Engels said. “It was all about the program and the team. He never made it about him. He worked for the team and worked for the championships for all of us.” Senior Jared Perrin, a varsity lacrosse player whom Adams coached in the youth program and in high school, added that despite the tough practices, Adams always strived to be there for his players. “He was very vocal about what he wanted,” Perrin said. “He was vocal if we weren’t doing what he wanted, but no matter how much he yelled at you, we knew that we could go up and talk with him after practices or games.” Senior Hunter Adams, Adams’ son and a varsity lacrosse player at North, believes these messages are exactly what makes his father such a good coach. “He’s been the coach for so
Boys’ lacrosse coach Bussy Adams speaks to his players while coaching a youth winter lacrosse clinic Sunday, Jan. 13. many years,” Hunter Adams said. “He’s left a legacy and has definitely set people in the right direction. He would tell us before games just to play our hardest and have fun. He cares a lot about the game but also cares a lot about having fun.” Former North lacrosse player Brian Vona, ‘87, played in the professional league after high school and then coached various teams for 25 years. He added that Adams is still one of his biggest influences. “I think him and Rick Clark, the head coach at the time, together impacted hundreds of kids’ lives,” Vona said. “I’ve been coaching for 25 years—trying to pay Bussy and Rick back for what they did for me.
I owe a lot of what I have to them. He and Rick may be the two men who affected my life the most.” Engels added that Adams has and will always be someone he can look up to. “He’s still a major part of my life,” Engels said. “He’s still a role model and someone I can turn to if I need advice or just need to talk to a friend.” Perrin agreed that Adams has taught many life lessons that not only help in games, but throughout their school and social life as well. “He’s taught me many lessons that have impacted me outside of the lacrosse setting,” Perrin said. After 45 years of playing and coaching lacrosse, Bussy said he
will not forget the game or the players he coached. “I’m going to watch a lot of games between my two boys,” Bussy said, now that he is retired. “And over the years, I’ve had several of my players go onto college lacrosse, so I plan to travel to see those kids play.” Adams also plans to continue running lacrosse camps throughout the summer and winter, contributing to the youth programs in any way he can. “I’ll see what the summer brings, but I’ll be involved in some camp over the summer,” he said. “The sport is, and always will be, a large part of my life.”
Sophomores prepare for new electronic MCAS test Sophie Murthy The grueling pain of handwriting long essays and the difficulty of editing work that comes with paper-and-pencil MCAS testing will soon be over. In its place will be a fully electronic MCAS test that comes with its own host of challenges, from navigating a new interface to simultaneously connecting 500 kids to the Wi-Fi. Starting in the spring, all high schools in Massachusetts will switch to being fully electronic for MCAS. According to vice principal Amy Winston, it was former Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s idea that by 2019, all MCAS tests would be electronic. The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education started the process of switching to fully electronic MCAS three years ago. The elementary school and middle school tests were switched first.
Because the middle school test is already fully electronic, sophomores and freshmen at North have taken the online version before high school. According to Winston, the high school MCAS is the last to switch because passing the tests is a graduation requirement, making it higher stakes than the elementary or middle school tests. Sophomores will take the online test for English MCAS on March 26 and 27, and the math MCAS on May 21 and 22. The freshman physics MCAS in June will not transition to electronic until next year. Instructional technology specialist Chris Murphy said sophomores will be using the chromebooks they were issued to take MCAS. “The test is one of the reasons why sophomores are being issued Chromebooks. Everyone will have a device they can take the test on,” said Winston. According to Winston, sophomores will learn how to access the
Math teacher Jennifer Letourneau and sophomore Link Carpenter use a Chromebook that will be used for the elctronic MCAS during class Monday, Jan. 7.
test during their English and math classes this year. She said that she thinks the electronic MCAS test will be better for students because it will help them during the testing process. “It allows us to provide students with more universal support. You are able to do things like highlight and block out things which you wouldn’t be able to do, or would be hard to do, on paper,” said Winston. “It allows for a greater variety of test items. With a computer-based test, there are more questions you can ask,” said Winston. She added that computers open up a new range of question formats that would be impossible on paper. English teacher Kate Shaughnessy said teaching students how to use the new test may be difficult. “It presents a new challenge in making sure students are prepared for the test. We need to make sure they are prepared with reading and writing, and navigating the tests and tools.” She added, “Teachers of sophomores have been preparing students for years for the paper test. Now, there is the electronic test which teachers are seeing for the first time. Usually we are way ahead, but now we are only a little ahead.” Sophomore Dani Imperato, who took the electronic MCAS in eighth grade, said navigating the online test was easy to learn, but she preferred not to use it. “It wasn’t difficult. It was just annoying to use and I preferred to use the paper MCAS because it’s what I’m used to.” Others, however, said that they think the electronic test will be an improvement because it is easier to use. “I think that it is a good idea because it is easier to edit your work during the English MCAS instead
of handwriting the essay,” said freshman Olivia Evans. Sophomore Stella Magni added that there are several benefits to making MCAS fully electronic. “Choosing answers for multiple choice may be easier for students, as it’s harder to lose track of which question they’re on, on the answer sheet. Grading may be easier electronically as well because there is no fuss with handwriting,” said Magni. She added, “The English section goes by fast when you have the ability to type whatever you’d like and you can go back and fix whatever you’d like. We are very accustomed to using the computer in our everyday life, so it may relieve stress instead of writing everything.” Although students might find the format familiar, it will be an adjustment for teachers, according to Winston. “For teachers, there will be a lot of proctor training because the role as a proctor is changing. Teachers used to have to pass out all the papers, but now they have to log onto their computer and can control other tests from there,” she said. Despite the test’s potential benefits for students, there will also be some issues, according to Winston. She said the school’s Wi-Fi was one of the biggest concerns. According to Winston, having so many computers connect to the Wi-Fi simultaneously could be problematic. “It will be difficult for students who need extra time,” said Winston. “Before, students would have to take their papers and walk to the film lecture hall to finish testing. With a computer, you can’t walk through the school with your Chromebook open without losing
Wi-Fi.” Sophomore David Genis said the Wi-Fi issues make electronic MCAS time-consuming. “Although it does save a lot of paper, the previous attempts at a digital MCAS show how much time it wastes. It’s just inefficient.” To combat this issue, the school will have a practice test on February 14 to try out the Wi-Fi, according to Winston. North and South will take the practice test on the same day, at the same time. “Similar to how students who are not taking the test get to sleep in, we will have students who aren’t taking the test come in a little later. We want to give ourselves enough time to buffer. If any issues arise, there is plenty of time to address them,” said Winston. She said, “We are doing the practice test as soon as humanly possible. In the six weeks we have between the practice test and the real test, I believe the IT department will be able to work out the problems.” In addition to the concerns about technology issues, some students expressed their dislike for the change in the type of MCAS testing. “I would not like a fully electronic MCAS,” said Imperato. “I think that I work better when I write out my ideas and show work that way. Because we will have a fully electronic MCAS, I feel that I might do worse than if it was on paper.” Sophomore Charlotte Holland said the math section is difficult to do electronically. “I don’t like how the MCAS is going to be fully electronic. It may save paper, but it’s annoying to type math equations on a computer.”
10 v The Newtonite, Newton North
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Abandon video games, go outside for ‘Victory Royale’
Players jump from Fortnite’s “Battle Bus” at the start of each game. They then compete until there is only one player left. Corey Donovan In fifth-grade, I was forbidden from playing dodgeball during school because it was “too dangerous.” My fifth grade class begged the gym teacher to let us play dodgeball all year to no avail. But when the bell rang on the last day of school, summer came and so did dodgeball. My summers were spent at YMCA camps. I ran around, enjoying the warm weather in New England while trying to escape the dodgeballs directed at my head. by
guest writer This past summer, I worked as a camp counselor at a day camp in Newton for elementary school kids. On the first day of camp, dodgeballs whizzed across the gym. With the fling of an arm, another ball flew through the air and struck the face of a ten-year-old boy. Rather than displaying compassion for their injured campmate, the other kids made references to “medkits” from the popular video game Fortnite. The video game controlled
children’s minds enough to distract them amid a dodgeball game. Video games are addictive, and children need to be aware of the consequences of addiction even to something so seemingly harmless. Fortnite was released on July 25, 2017, and has expanded to the point that its creator, Epic Games, reported having 78.3 million players this past August. The game is based around the concept of “Battle Royale,” similar to The Hunger Games. Players fight each other to the death in a virtual world until there is only one left who is then declared the winner. The competitive atmosphere is addictive and draws the millions of players back into the game. I have played Fortnite for countless hours, and it remains one of my favorite video games, but I couldn’t help but notice that many of the players were children as young as six years old. These kids are much too young to manage their habit of playing video games to avoid addiction. Video game addiction, or gaming disorder, according to the World Health Organization is seen
as “impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” Previously, video game addiction was not considered a “legitimate” disorder, but has risen to prominence. Now, since health professionals recognized it as a serious problem, children need to become aware of its existence and symptoms. Psychologists warn of the physical impacts on a child’s brain when they play video games. For example, Victoria Dunckley, a renowned psychologist, claims that “Parents need to learn the science behind how screen-time overstimulates the nervous system, how this manifests as an array of symptoms and dysfunction.” Many parents likely struggle to contextualize scientific findings like those of Dunckley. In order for parents to understand the problem, it must be stated in simple terms, based on observation and personal experience. Video games are addictive and young children are espe-
cially susceptible to this addiction. One of my strengths is working with children and entertaining them, but for the first week of my job, I struggled to keep my campers entertained. Video games clogged their thoughts. None of them could let loose and enjoy the moment. They awaited going home to turn on their TVs to play video games for hours. My campers were too addicted to video games for them to do anything else. For a few weeks in eighth grade, video games turned me into a zombie. They barraged my mind with constant thoughts. They distracted me from important tasks such as homework or chores. I felt tired because they threw off my sleep schedule by tricking my brain into believing the light from the TV screen was sunshine through a window. I felt compelled to go home straight after school to play video games instead of spending quality time with my friends. Overall, excessive playing of video games made me act lazy, antisocial, and drowsy until I realized my problem and cut back. Other students should learn from my mistakes. This epidemic of video game addiction is affecting a vulnerable part of American society: the children. One day in second grade, I was talking to my friends about his favorite video games, and he mentioned that he had an extra Nintendo DS: the most popular gaming system at the time. He offered it to me as a gift. I smiled as I accepted his offer. When I walked home with my mother that day, I bragged about the gift. My smile disappeared when my mother said, “You are too young for video games. You need to go back to school and give it back.” I started to sob. My new toy excited me, and my parents taking it came as a shock to me. Looking back, I am grateful. My parents forced me to entertain myself without technology. They endured my whining to avoid me becoming reliant on video games for entertainment as a young child. Later, when I was online an unhealthy amount, I was able to recognize it and put a stop to it. When I am bored on a summer afternoon, I turn on my Xbox, and play video games with my friends
for hours. They act as windows into a hyperbolized world, contrary to my own ordinary life. Even after babysitting kids for a day, I become so worn out that video games become a tempting method to avert the kids’ attention away from myself. Children must take the initiative to avoid the addiction themselves. They need to learn to entertain themselves without video games, or they will become too reliant on them for entertainment over physical activities like dodgeball. My generation is the first one to grow up with our childhood revolving around the internet. The rise of technology as a form of entertainment and communication coincided with my growing up. I understand intricate functions of technology and its uses, while also being aware of its possible dangers from firsthand experience. I am seventeen years old. I own an iPhone 8, an Xbox, and a laptop that I am writing on right now. Technology makes my life so much easier, and I spend over an hour a day texting my friends and playing video games. But, after learning how to entertain myself without becoming too reliant on technology, I developed healthy screen time habits. My parents made a choice to restrict my use of video games and when I had access to technological devices. Previous generations never needed to make that choice. My friends can never focus on homework because they are reliant on technology. My grandparents, and many other people’s grandparents too, complain about how everyone they see around my age is always on their phone, yet the responsibility for keeping children safe from a technology addiction falls upon the parents who are wise enough to notice the signs of addiction children may struggle to notice. Children will never ask for that restriction, but like me, they will be grateful for it in the future when they are not as reliant on technology for entertainment and communication. Kids need to encourage this treatment by their parents and recognize that their parents have the best intentions and possess a knowledge that can only come from experience.
Engage in new STEM topics beyond school textbooks Yesha Thakkar I listened to the rustling of my lab coat, the clinking of the test tubes, the sound of the keyboard, the familiar hum of the vent in the lab muffling the hustle-bustle of the crowd on the beach just a block away. I spent the summer learning the way any student should—five, six, sometimes seven hours a day in a lab coat and safety goggles, measuring neurotoxins and observing trends in the medial prefrontal cortex activity in different age groups. Confusion prompted me to spend my summer in a lab rather than on a beach. While I’ve been confused many times in several classes, I distinctly remember learning how to write electron configurations during a long-block lecture. As we took notes, I tried to understand exactly why learning something so abstract was so important. At the end of the lecture, I was tempted to raise my hand and ask, “So what? Why should I care about electron configurations?” It seemed to me that electron configurations had little to do with the real world. This probably isn’t the first time that any of us have experienced by
such confusion. Many of us are taught to memorize scientific formulas and understand abstract concepts in classrooms. Many of us have also heard that scientific developments in the future will change the world, but we do not learn how. The science that we learn in classrooms teaches us concepts, but it does not bridge the gap between abstract concepts and the real world. Part of the problem is that our current education system is not tailored to accommodate people who want to explore a topic beyond the depths of the tightly-knit fabrics of the curriculum. The purpose of high school science is to provide a backbone of understanding, so the emphasis is on breadth, not depth. The focus of my chemistry class was to teach students what electron configurations are rather than why they are imperative to real-world science situations. That’s simply because not all students are particularly interested in learning about electron configurations. In a school with more than 2,000 students, tailoring the curriculum to fit every individual’s interests seems to be an impossible task.
Moreover, outside internships expect applicants to have much more background knowledge than students learn in high school. For my internship, I had to read three college neurology textbooks and take 214 pages of notes to have enough background knowledge to conduct further research over the summer. Even so, internships often favor college students because they have more experience than do high schoolers. Some larger corporations favor college students as well because they are viewed as potential future employees. Perhaps the biggest issue is not with the high school curriculum or lack of opportunities but with our mindsets. Even though I was confused about the importance of learning electron configurations, I originally chose not to take the initiative to learn more about them. The very thought of spending an entire summer in an unairconditioned lab with safety goggles that left marks around my eyes was mortifying; I, too, thought that I would eventually learn everything that I needed to know later in life. We are convinced that high school
teaches us everything, and attempting to explore outside the realm of the classroom seems unnecessary and boring, especially in the summer. But to understand a concept, it’s critical to know how it works in the real world, not just on paper. It isn’t really in our power to change the high school curriculum, nor is it our ability to propose more research opportunities for high school students. The only factor in our control, then, is initiative. Rather than relying on high school science alone, we need to look for opportunities outside the classroom that help us better understand concepts and develop a deeper interest for the subject as a whole. Will signing up for a summer program or an internship entail losing a significant portion of the summer? Possibly. I spent about six weeks of my summer in the lab. Was it worth it? Definitely. At the end of the internship, I had learned so much more about neuroscience than any textbook could teach me. During my internship, I actually learned that electron configurations are incredibly important not only to chemistry but also to biology and
the neurological system. As I continued measuring and noting down the names of neurotoxins in the tiny test tubes on the fourth floor of the lab, I noticed two distinct neurotoxins with similar skeletal structures. When I asked the professor about this, he told me that the structures contain different R groups. The elements in the R groups had different valence electrons, so they bonded differently. It occurred to me then that perhaps that chemistry lecture was not pointless; rather, electron configurations are the foundation of a variety of scientific concepts such as neuroscience. It was experimentation rather than theory that taught me to understand the significance of an abstract concept. Now I look at my surroundings and apply electron configurations to every minuscule thing I see. I don’t stare at the board in confusion as my teacher explains a scientific concept. I notice what I wouldn’t have ordinarily seen, think about what I wouldn’t have ordinarily thought about, and learn what I wouldn’t have ordinarily learned. And that’s worth every summer.
Newton North, The Newtonite v 11
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
January Word Search S R G E W M S E C O N D T E R M H Y
B Q H D E M M T E R H B X D P G Z A
X D T T G Y P F Y V O J B P K K G D
K M M B N I Y O A G T S R R B C W P
L C W R F E S U D C C V Q W S O B N
T N O W E S U M W C H W G I H V P M
K O C S N T I C O Z O K T N P N Y L
X N X T P K D E N Z C Y J T K C L S
A D X Q V T F R S Y O Q G E Z E M S
O F V A B Y J I I W L F O R D J N H
Q T O L T R C S D H A V D H Q A C Z
M N E W Y E A R U J T C N W R A D I
U A N Z N T Z U T W E Y O F D Z J N
I P Z D Y S P D D X A U R L G A Q O
W B V Z O E U E Q I E C H A D D R P
N B C Q R M E I A M H O G R P Q U X
G H M B O E M L K D A Y F D Z H O U
M N F G V S A Y P X Z B Z A E H M A
9 8 7
4 9 2
1 2 8 5 3
3 1 2 6 7
Words: Second Term, Third Term, Semester, Snow Day, Hot Chocolate, Winter, MLK Day
12 v The Newtonite, Newton North
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019