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The Newtonite v Monday, March 18, 2019 • Volume 98

Newton North High School, 457 Walnut St., Newtonville, Mass. 02460

Committee moves forward with final schedule proposal Dea Cela A committee of teachers and staff announced a new schedule proposal Feb. 4, which will be presented to the School Committee for approval and implementation in the high schools. After receiving feedback from students and teachers on the three prototype schedules this past January, teachers from both North and South in the Schedule Committee analyzed the data and created a schedule that highlights the strengths of the previous drafts. “We used the feedback and it was clear that a five-day rotation was important to a vast number of people,” said principal Henry Turner. “We had a vote to narrow it down to two, and then we all made a recommendation.” Assistant superintendent Toby Romer will present the new proposal to the School Committee April 8. Superintendent David Fleishman said that the earliest implementation would be the 2021-2022 school year. “We want the schedule to create a positive school and cultural environment,” Fleishman said. “I’m by

interested in substance and in a thoughtful and inclusive process.” The proposal maintains the current five-day cycle, but reduces the number of classes each day, lengthens the blocks, and reduces the total hours in the day to 6.75 hours. The schedule also includes a “flex block” to help students access support, collaborate with teachers, and meet with their clubs. “The structure of flex block is that it’s during the day and because right now X-block is at the end of the day, students go home and students prepare for sports. In this structure, all students will have access to it,” Turner said. Once the new schedule is implemented in both high schools, a new committee will form to evaluate flex blocks and create a new set of norms in order for the block to benefit both teachers and students, according to math department head Jennifer Letourneau, the co-chair of the committee that created the proposal. Sophomore Gabriel Sanson-Gomez believes flex block will be a good opportunity for students who have conflicting activities after

Ian Dickerman

Junior Grayson Hargens drives the lane against Lynn in the State semifinals Tuesday, March 12 at TD Garden. school. “I think it’s a good idea to have flex blocks so we can meet with teachers,” he said. Other students have voiced their concerns about the new schedule. Junior Douglas Williams expressed issues with the increased block length. “I don’t think more long blocks are necessarily beneficial,” he said. “I think it can become counterac-

tive to learning at a certain point because more homework will be assigned which is much more stressful.” Sophomore Claire Deng added that students may struggle to focus in long blocks. “I don’t really like it,” she said. “I feel like kids can’t really stay still and sit there for more than an hour at a time. Long blocks are hard for kids and kids get bored. I don’t

think it’s good for anyone.” The School Committee has worked to use student and faculty input to create a schedule that benefits everyone, according to Fleishman. However, accommodating everyone’s needs can be challenging. “No schedule is going to make everyone happy,” he said. “But it was done in a deliberate and thoughtful manner which was inclusive to everyone at the school.”

New classes present opportunities for engagement David Ren In addition to the hundreds of current course options, students have the chance to choose from seven new classes for the upcoming school year. The new courses are “Business Tech Tools Applications,” “Screen Time: The Rise of Digital Media,” “Women in Literature and Society,” “Ceramics Major 3,” “Transforming Your World: An Introduction to Community Engagement Classroom Aide,” “Intro to Psychology CP,” and “Fundamentals of Engineering Design.” History teacher Rob Greenfield, the teacher behind “Screen Time,”

was inspired to create the course after seeing the role that technology plays in daily life. “I think there’s been a lot of discussions lately about the impact of technology, particularly on students,” he said. “I thought that this issue is so profound that it deserves its own course.” The class will aim “to create awareness around how the current media environment emerged, to what extent we are exposed, to different types of media, and what messages we are receiving,” he added. Junior Andrew Shi said he thinks “Screen Time” will be in-

teresting for students who want to learn more about what technology does to teenagers. “I think it’s a good class to help kids understand both the benefits and downfalls of technology and social media,” Shi said. Interim history department head Albert Cho described the process by which a teacher can create a new course at North. “I tell them to create a proposal for why they want to teach the course and what purpose the course will have,” he said. He added that teachers are required to provide a framework and a curriculum for the prospective course. According to Cho, after teach-

ers submit their proposal for the prospective course, he passes the proposal to the Academics Standards Committee. If the committee approves the course, it becomes a course option in the following academic year. Athletic director Tom Giusti, the chairperson of the Academic Standards Committee, added that among other criteria, the committee works to ensure that the prospective course is relevant and beneficial for students. “Classroom Aide, Transforming Your World,” will give students an opportunity to work in North’s Center for Civic Engagement

and Service (CCES) to create student-driven projects and engage in community issues. Claudia Wu, co-director for the CCES added, “I had conversations with Mr. Cho and Dr. Turner about what my new class would give to students and the opportunity overall. It was then presented to the Academic Standards Committee and they approved it.” Once approved by the committee, the courses were verified by principal Henry Turner, who makes the final decision for all new classes in the course catalog, according to Meghan Smith, the Scheduler and Data Analyzer for North.

Maya Demissie North will receive solar panel canopies in the parking lot on Lowell Avenue over the summer as a part of Phase Three of Newton’s Solar Project, which is working to install solar energy systems on public buildings. First proposed in the fall, Phase Three will bring solar panels to 15 different locations in Newton, including North’s Lowell Avenue parking lot. Newton City Council members approved the plan March 4. “The solar panel canopies will be over the entire parking lot on Lowell from one end to the other,” said vice principal Amy Winston. “The columns that hold them up will be along the sides. As far as I know, there won’t be columns between parking spaces.”

The canopies are scheduled to be constructed over the course of one month in the summer and will be similar to the ones installed at

South three years ago. Phase Three will save the city over $4.9 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years, according to William Fergu-

son, Newton’s energy project manager. The energy made by solar panel canopies at North will go directly to the school, Ferguson added. “The benefit of the power will be assigned to the buildings that they are attached to,” he said. “The school will be getting all of the benefits. So North will be getting the savings and the power that comes from these solar panels.” Science teacher Matt Anderson added, “They will provide renewable energy with low ecological impact, and it will keep the parking lot clear when it snows, which will save plowing costs.” According to councilor-at-large Andreae Downs, the purpose of the city-wide Solar Project is to eliminate dependency on fossil fuels. “As we use less and less, we’re

looking at greening the rest so we can get closer and closer to net zero,” she said. Phase One of the Solar Project installed four rooftop solar systems on various schools, including North, while Phase Two involved eight different locations. Two possible site locations for Phase Three, Brown Middle School and the Newton Free Library, were postponed by the city council due to pushback from city residents regarding the unattractive look of the solar panels. Freshman Sarah O’Reilly said she looks forward to the new solar panels and thinks they will help both North and Newton stay environmentally conscious. “I think it’s smart because it will save us money and it’s good for the environment,” she said.


City decides on solar panel installation for North by

Ben Gobler Gobler extends his passion for music by arranging and teaching new pieces to North a cappella group. Page 3

Jake Forbes

Newton Solar Project plans to introduce solar canopies to North’s Lowell parking lot during the summer.

‘Rock of Ages’ Students work behind the scenes to create the ’80s-inspired musical. Page 6

Boys’ Gymnastics The team looks to the future after seniors graduate. Page 7


2 v The Newtonite, Newton North

Monday, March 18, 2019

Students strive to be excellent in unfair society Next week, sophomores will take the ELA MCAS, their final required standardized test before graduation. The test is used to measure teachers, schools, school districts, and the Commonwealth itself, and to ensure that students are capable of performing to the same academic standard. At North, nearly all students meet the standard.

editorial Unlike the MCAS, college admission tests such as the ACT and SAT are viewed purely as a reflection of the individual student’s academic ability or “intelligence,” not the school’s ability to promote it. Not surprisingly, juniors and seniors taking college admissions tests strive for the highest score possible to stand out from their competition. These tests implicitly place the burden of distinction on the individual student because a higher score is presented as an indication of the skills necessary to be successful in college. That conclusion is just not the case. While it is true that doing well on standardized tests requires a certain level of academic ability, students’ final scores nearly always reflect their opportunity. Inside Higher Ed reported in 2018 that the SAT benefits students with a better education and more test prep—specifically, children from wealthier families with well-educated parents. Many families who can afford it pursue perfect test scores with an almost frenzied passion, paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars for special workshops and private tutors. Most recently, a number of wealthy parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, were even accused by the FBI of paying thousands of dollars to alter standardized test scores. Students without these privileges potentially face the crushing designation of “not ready

for college.” Those who manage to achieve “readiness” receive a random number and join the uniform ranks of American high school students all with the same dream. Solely demonstrating academic ability is no longer enough to distinguish yourself among millions. As standardized testing fails to separate students—which some colleges have recognized by going test-optional—extracurriculars offer another way to stand out. Clubs and sports often turn into just another way for students to pad their resumés. On the field and in the classroom, students vie for the coveted titles of captain or club officer to stand out as a leader. In the end, no one stands out. We become another number, another “leader,” another perfectly conditioned idea of success. When millions of students pursue the same distinctions the end result is millions of students who appear identical—at least on paper. In a feverish pursuit for distinction, most students turn to the restrictive framework of North’s Mission Statement, which encourages students to “strive for excellence in academic, vocational, athletic and artistic endeavors.” Students are conditioned to never settle, to strive for unattainable excellence. Ironically, however, the statement also claims to provide students with “the opportunity and freedom to discover and reach their potential as individuals.” North prides itself on preparing students well for life after high school, while recognizing student diversity, but this presents an impractical view of the world. The reality is that students will push themselves. They will overload on challenging courses. They will take on too many extracurriculars, obsess over their GPAs, and do all the things that the school says not to do, because even if they do not, the rest of society still will.

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 — Jake Forbes and Sophia Zhou Managing editors — Jacques Abou-Rizk, Zoe Goldstein, Carolyn McDonald Arts editors — Sophie Fredberg, Isabella Lecona, Arjun Shatkin, Amy Xue Features editors — James Dun Rappaport, Kathy Mitchell, Helen Xiao News editors — Dea Cela, Maya Demissie, David Feng, Sophie Murthy, David Ren, Yesha Thakkar Opinions editor — Skyler Bohnert Sports editors — Griffin Bond,

Emily Dhadly, Jeremy Frankel, Nichol Weylman-Farwell Graphics editors — Skyler Bohnert, Ruchik Trivedi Photo manager — Ian Dickerman Photo editor — Cameron Kellstein Business/advertisements manager— Isaac Tang Advisers — Tom Fabian, Derek Knapp, Amanda Mazzola Photo staff — Ella Bailey, Julia Bu, Joel Schurgin Social Media coordinator —Amy Xue

The Newtonite staff does all its reporting and photography to post content daily to its website, It makes all content choices. Sign up for The Newtonite’s monthly email newsletter on its website. In addition to the print spring special, the Newtonite publishes a special for graduation, on the first day of school, a club 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

Letters The Newtonite serves as a designated forum for student expression. Readers are invited to submit guest articles and letters to the editor. Letters should be put in The Newtonite box in the main office or emailed to The Newtonite reserves the right to edit all letters, which must have the writer’s name and a student’s class and homeroom.

Joel Schurgin

Students converse and eat lunch on Main Street during third lunch Friday, March 8.

Value people over cars, advocate for bikers’ security on the roads Dina Gorelik By 7:20 a.m. most school mornings, I have adjusted the hat under my helmet and am ready to bike to school. Each day I push down my right pedal, and I am on my way. At this time of year, I can see the sunrise, the sky turning into a pastel of purple, pink, and orange. I admire the sky and zone out until I hit West Newton Square. There, I have to focus. The chaotic square has six different roads all merging onto Washington Street and no protection for bikers, making it an absolute nightmare. I use a crosswalk signal to make a left turn on Washington for my own peace of mind. Every day, without fail, a car will try to turn right when the crosswalk light turns on. Many cars come within inches of me, and the drivers are very surprised to see me. Once I bike through that light, I cruise down Washington, a fourlane road riddled with potholes and no bike lanes. Every morning I am stuck between parked cars on my right and speeding cars on my left, putting myself in danger every time I bike to school. Fortunately, I have not been hit by a car—yet.


column However, not all cyclists are as lucky as I am. In February, a truck driver struck and killed Paula Sharaga, a Cambridge resident and Brookline librarian, who was cycling across six lanes of traffic. The crash happened at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive in Fenway. In November, Meng Jin, a Boston University graduate student, was also killed by a truck

driver while biking past the Museum of Science. I am saddened by Jin’s and Sharaga’s deaths, but they do not come as a surprise to me. Even though Boston and its environs have added miles of bike lanes in the past decade, dangerous intersections without any bike infrastructure continue to be a pressing issue facing cyclists. The lack of road space for bikers is not just a Boston phenomenon. In the United States, our roads were built for cars only. As automobiles became affordable to the average individual in the early 20th century, a car craze swept the nation. Entire industries popped up for the automobile: roadside diners, motels, and drive-ins. Cars became a symbol of the freedom that we Americans love so much. Throughout the 20th century, roads were designed to make car travel the most efficient form of transportation, disregarding alternate, more sustainable forms, such as biking, walking, and public transport. In the 1950s, millions of federal dollars were allocated to states for the construction of the Interstate Highway System, with no funding for public transportation. It should come as no surprise, then, that in 2016, 102 people were fatally killed by a car every single day in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. How did we let our nation come to this? We are just blindly following this religion of the automobile, regardless of where it takes us. In contrast to the United States, the Netherlands has it figured out. Their roads and cities are designed completely differently from ours because the Dutch view cycling as another valid form of transporta-

tion. Raised cycle pathways are built in between sidewalks and roads, and a complete separation from cars is required. The raised paths continue through intersections, and cyclists are protected from turning cars by more physical barriers. The Dutch design has physically and visually prioritized bikes over cars, causing drivers to become much more aware of cyclists on the road. This road design could have saved Sharaga and Jin. In the end, people are the ones who need to pick up their kids from school, go to doctor’s appointments, and see a movie, not cars. People are the ones that visit their families, go to museums, and eat out, not cars. By prioritizing people, not cars, in our road design, we can make the roads safer for all. While the United States’ roads are far from the Dutch ideal, individuals and advocacy groups are taking steps to promote safer streets. On Walnut Street, two former parking spots adjacent to a crosswalk have been turned into artwork by North’s Bike Club. In collaboration with Bike Newton, the Bike Club painted two murals, designed by junior Maggie Needham. The City of Newton installed a bike rack there, making Newtonville a bit more bike-friendly. Small steps, like calming traffic and installing bike parking, can also make a significant difference for bikers and pedestrians. While these small steps are important, they are not enough. I don’t want to be one of 102 people who are killed by a car each day, and I don’t want any of my friends or classmates to become statistics. It’s time to devalue cars and start valuing human life.


Monday, March 18, 2019

Newton North, The Newtonite v 3

Gobler demonstrates musical talent, leadership

Kathy Mitchell The members of the Melocotones a capella group huddled around a microphone at the FUSN Coffee House for their annual performance. As the lights dimmed, the singers appeared, wearing all black. Each voice sang different ranges of notes, and the varying harmonies wove together to create a heartfelt composition. As conductor and one of only two bass singers in the group, senior Ben Gobler made his presence felt. Gobler is co-director of the Melocotones, one of two co-ed a capella groups at North. As part of the student-run performance group, Gobler arranges the majority of the group’s music with the help of his by

co-directors, juniors Jai Khurana and Anna Weylman-Farwell. Gobler has directed the Melocotones for the past two years. “What really called to me during my transition to high school was the fact that there would be a capella groups,” Gobler said. “Singing with such big harmony and no instruments was really fascinating to me. It was a shame that the only singing opportunity offered in middle school was the chorus, so when I finally got to high school and a capella was offered, I went for it.” Gobler had no experience with a capella before high school but grew up with a piano in the house and took lessons. His growing interest in music also prompted an

Sophia Zhou

Senior Ben Gobler, co-director of the Melocotones a capella group, arranges music in the graphic communications room Friday, March 8.

involvement in theatre. The afterschool program at Cabot Elementary School put on a show every year, which contributed to Gobler’s passion for performing. Still, Gobler didn’t have much guidance while learning to sing. He considers himself self-taught in terms of arranging a capella.

“He definitely adds a different level to Melocotones, and the group won’t be the same once he leaves.” - junior Anna Weylman-Farwell “Arranging music is super fun, and it’s one of the components of being a director for me, so being able to do it is really valuable,” Gobler said. “By arranging music, you get to take charge, and doing it has allowed me to take off with the group.” Gobler has been arranging music for a capella and reworking current songs for a variety of vocal ranges after first joining The Melocotones. “It’s really cool to put something together and see it come alive,” he said. In terms of arranging pieces, reading music is helpful but is not essential for being a successful musician, according to Gobler. “Maybe your voice is an instrument,” he said “but being able to do things by

ear is more valuable and beneficial than being able to read sheet music.” According to Khurana, Gobler does not need sheet music to help him arrange—he can simply listen to the music. “He can also give notes before a gig so we don’t even need a pitch pipe.” Khurana added that Gobler’s ear allows him to arrange pieces differently than other musicians might. Khurana said he looks up to Gobler. “I admire his musical skills and ability to mix fun with learning in the group.” He added that as a sophomore, Gobler would help him learn his music and find better ways to learn it, being older and more skilled. “I really enjoyed that. He’s really helped me to transform the compositions that we were singing to a capella. He’s also taught me how to arrange music so that the pieces are easily learnable by the group,” Khurana said. Yet in addition to all of Gobler’s musical talent, his skill as a leader has helped him become an enthusiastic and successful director, ac-

Interested in arranging your own music? Scan here to read Ben’s tips for getting started!

cording to many in the group. According to Weylman-Farwell, Gobler achieves the most of the three directors, being very efficient with his time. The most valuable part about working with people and directing a group is learning how to teach, Gobler said. He added that directors should not focus on what they want, but rather on the people they are teaching. Directing Melocotones has taught Gobler cooperation skills, he said, adding that he has figured out what works best for singing in a group, especially since the necessary extra focus on rhythm that makes a capella very different than any other style of music. While Gobler said he is not interested in pursuing music professionally in college, he said that he would love to be part of an a capella group for fun. Weylman-Farwell said, “I’d say Ben almost has these quirks, and he’s a really funny guy. He definitely adds a different level to Melocotones, and the group won’t be the same once he leaves.”

4 v The Newtonite, Newton North

Stressed out

Students seek solace from stress At North, students have diverse values and experiences, yet all students have one thing in common: they all experience some sort of stress. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, the majority of high school students reported experiencing stress at levels higher than that in most other age groups. As a result, students reported feeling overwhelmed, fatigued, and depressed or sad over the school year. We on The Newtonite wanted to understand exactly where this stress comes from, what North does to help students deal with stress, and what students can do to alleviate stress and enjoy their high school experience. At its most basic level, the high school experience can be stressful for students due to in-school and out-of-school commitments as well as the looming fear of the future. Students at North spoke about the pressure to take challenging classes while balancing extracurricular activities to pursue their post-secondary plans. Since stress has a profound impact on students’ well being, it is important for students to understand where their stress comes from. Recognizing these sources can help students work to alleviate stress and make the most of their high school years.

Parental Pressures

Griffin Bond Many North parents hold their children to high standards, which can have a negative impact on students. According to physical education teacher Lauren Baugher, expectations can push students to do things that they are not interested in. Baugher added that she notices higher stress levels in students when they begin to think about classes for next year, and parents encourage them to take more challenging courses. “This community can be pretty intense when it comes to stress and the expectations that it puts on kids. I don’t think it’s really fair,” said Baugher. According to Baugher, another way parents cause stress is “the inability of parents or guardians to deal with their own stress.” From a parent’s perspective, she added, “If I don’t have good coping skills when dealing with the stress then that ends up just adding onto [their] plate and making it harder for them.” Baugher added that parents need to emphasize the work students put into school, not the final grade. Junior Tatiana Jackson-Saitz said that to reduce students’ stress, parents should “make sure they are not putting unfair expectations on their kids.” She added, “They can check in with them. They can have conversations with them and let them know that it is all going to be okay.” by

Monday, March 18, 2019

in high school...

Sports Competition

Griffin Bond Sports are a distinct part of the culture at North, and the community has always rallied around its variety of sports teams. Each season, over five hundred North students participate in one of the 33 sports teams North has to offer. However, because sports at North are so competitive at the state and occasionally national level, they require hundreds of hours of practice, often leading to stress among athletes. “There is practice every single day,” said junior Nadav Hoitash, a member of varsity basketball. “There is not much time to do homework.” Even though the competitive environment of North’s athletics can motivate students, the competition may lead to stress for athletes. Hoitash said, “When people are too competitive they don’t sleep at night or stress too much about the game.” Despite this, sports can help relieve student stress, according to health and wellness teacher Lauren Baugher. “Although there can be stressful situations in sports, I feel overall that sports are a big stress reliever for a lot of kids.” She added, “One of the most prescribed things for people with stress is exercise.” Jojo Silagi a varsity athlete agrees, “Sports, in particular, can be a really good stress reliever, because they Ian Dickerman are right after school, right after class. I get to move Dance performs during boys’ basketball game vs Lynn at TD around for two hours.” Gerden Tuesday, March 12. by

Social Media Anxieties

Yesha Thakkar Students often take rigorous classes and participate in extracurricular activities for their post-secondary plans. Often, the social pressure that comes with selecting colleges outweighs the stress of filling out the college application itself. College is a topic of discussion from the beginning of high school, ramping up during junior and senior year. Junior Sophia Jauniskis said that these discussions are stressful because students can be “very boastful about the colleges they apply to.” Peer pressure also extends to the application process. Senior Ethan Gahm said, “Students often compare themselves to others, but the college application process raises that to a new level.” “I think the nature of the application is that it strips you down to everything you’ve done.” Gahm added. “This makes you think, ‘Is this not enough? Am I not an interesting person?’” Senior Miki Shibuya, who applied to colleges with six-year programs in physical therapy, said that she felt the need to explain why she was not applying to “the generic elite schools in Boston.” According to school counselor Beth Swederskas, the application process has become more competitive over the past decade because students at North often apply to the same prestigious colleges, but colleges still admit the same number of applicants. Swederskas added that North provides many resources to guide students through the college application process. Students often visit the College and Career Center, schedule meetings with their counselors, and visit Naviance for information about colleges, she said. Shibuya said that North’s variety of resources were very helpful. “My counselor helped me a lot with the whole process. You just have to ask for help.” However, Gahm said that he did not find North’s resources particularly helpful, and the school did not “do an exceptionally good job of eliminating stress” around the application process. Shibuya said that students should have an open mind when considering and applying to colleges. “Everyone ends up where they should. You shouldn’t try to overachieve in the process.” Joelle Sugianto Gahm said that students should not allow the application process to “consume their life. Class of 2018 listens to commencement speakers during graduaYou’re still a student in high school, and you should enjoy your time here.” tion June 5, 2018.

Sophie Murthy Students at North often feel the need to take as many difficult courses as possible, but a rigorous course load can induce stress and make it difficult for students to have a balanced life. According to senior Sam Meiselman, the amount of homework is very time consuming. “A lot of it is work that needs to get done, but doesn’t necessarily contribute to the understanding of the curriculum.” Joelle Sugianto He added that long-term assessments and essays also Senior Sam Norwitz works at a table on Main Street Sept. 16, 2018. contribute to students’ day-to-day stress. In addition to the workload, students struggle transitioning from one grade to the next. Junior Christina Zhao said she had trouble adjusting in the beginning of the school year because she struggled with the course load. “I think it’s hard to go from sophomore year, taking no APs and having none of the responsibilities and expectations of APs to taking three at once.” Zhao added that she had to quit dancing to keep up with her classes. “Sometimes you have to be willing to make sacrifices,” she said. Although stress exists in all class levels, according to history teacher Isongesit Ibokette, “for the upper level students, the stress level would be higher, partly because of the combination between the amount of work they have and the desire to excel in every component of the work.” Regardless of the label, courses at any level can be challenging. Junior Luke Nichols said, “If I have a bunch of assignments due, even if they are in ACP classes, it can be stressful. Despite the workload, many students decide to take multiple rigorous classes. Meiselman said he took many APs because he thought it “was what you needed to do to get into colleges.” by

Griffin Bond Students at North have hundreds of options for extracurriculars, leading to a possible overload of activities. North offers 88 registered clubs, covering a wide variety of activities, ranging from Mock Trial to chess. Students have the ability to participate in one of TheatreInk’s 12 yearly productions, multiple academic teams’ trips to national competitions, or a range of performances by the school’s various musical ensembles. Extracurriculars can be time consuming, taking away time from academics. “It’s tough,” said senior Jojo Silagi, a captain of the Mock Trial club. “I definitely enjoy all of the extracurriculars I do and the sports, but it definitely puts more of a time restraint on myself and it forces me to be more efficient. It can get stressful sometimes, feeling like I have very little time to fit everything in.” However, like sports, clubs can also help alleviate stress “because they can provide a comforting environment for a student to unwind in and spend their time doing something they truly enjoy,” said Silagi. Dian Dian Jonas-Walsh, an officer of the Asian Culture Club agreed, saying, “There is work that goes into the club, Asian Culture Day, and Asian Culture Night, but it is stuff that we enjoy, which is why we are officers.” Silagi added that the best way to reduce stress is to find a balance of extracurriculars and academics. “There Joelle Sugianto are times where academics take priority but also times The Girls Achieving Leadership through Service (GALS) Club meets to when extracurriculars take priority. It’s about knowing discuss their goals for the year Sept. 16, 2018. when to put what forward.” by

Ian Dickerman Freshmen Lily Auclair and Ashley Cerone sit at a table in the cafeteria March 8.


Layout and design by Jai Khurana and Sophia Zhou

Loads of Courses

Club Commitments

Griffin Bond Social media allows people from all across the world to connect. But for students, it has also led to an increase in stress. According to a study published by the Association for Physiological Science, “Adolescents who spent more time on new media were more likely to report mental health issues.” Health teacher Lauren Baugher sees student obsession over Instagram posts as a major cause. “They’re comparing themselves to other kids, which significantly affects their mental health when they see kids doing things, or people on vacation,” she said. Sophomore Ryan Chu said, “If you see all these really beautiful people online all the time, it can cause you stress if you don’t think you look as good as them.” He added, “That could cause you to want to change yourself to look more like them.” Despite the possible side effects of social media, students still choose to use it. “You don’t want to be outside the social bubble. There is stress to stay in it,” said senior Benjamin Goor-Aryeh. by

College and Career Planning

Newton North, The Newtonite v 5

Alleviating Stress In School

Sophie Murthy To alleviate academic stresses, students can choose a balanced schedule and find outlets to de-stress. Sophomore Kate Ellison said that free blocks are a nice break in her schedule that she can use to de-stress and relax. For many students, this time to do homework, hang out with friends and relieve stress is a very important and helpful part of the day. Another way to help reduce stress is to think about class choices carefully, according to junior Emily Pan. “If you’re taking a lot of APs or honors classes, I would definitely say take classes you’re interested in mostly because those are the classes that contribute to your stress level positively.” Counselor Beth Swederskas said the counseling department and faculty at North want to lower student stress. “To do this, we discourage students from taking more than three honors or AP classes, so that they can have a balanced school year and be able to enjoy their classes.” North also offers the stress management techniques class, which is designed specifically to target and alleviate student stress. According to Pan, the class is a very helpful course for all students, especially those who have difficult schedules. “It’s more about learning how to become more efficient and save time by learning strategies to relax,” she said. Ellison, who also takes the course, said it has taught her how to better manage her stress and workload. “It has helped me understand stress a little bit better because we’ve been doing a lot of activities involving talking and thinking about stress,” she said. Pan said she relies on extracurricular activities to alleviate stress. “I personally use swimming. Swimming is two to three hours of my day where I don’t think about school.” She added, “I make sure that I get enough sleep, at least on the weekends, and I don’t let my schoolwork take over my weekends.” by


6 v The Newtonite, Newton North

Monday, March 18, 2019

Curtain rises on ’80s big bands in ‘Rock of Ages’ I sabella L econa and A rjun Shatkin For the past several months, the theatre wing has bustled with frenetic activity as students prepared for Rock of Ages: High School Edition. On the stage, cast members recited their lines and practiced dance numbers. Behind the scenes, the costume design team sprayed wigs with hairspray. The lighting team bathed the stage in purple and pink lights, separating it from the black sea of the auditorium. Aided by both the actors on the stage and the stage crew, the characters’ paths connected in a strange world of catchy songs, outlandish costumes, and bold acting choices. This hard work culminated with curtains rising on performances on March 14, 15, and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and March 17 at 2:00 p.m. in the auditorium. Kevin Kline, who has been directing for 21 years, directed the show. The musical is a rowdy story of


budding rock stars trying to make it big in Hollywood. Featuring the songs of hit 80’s rock bands such as Styx and Journey, it chronicles a romance between Sherrie Christian, played by senior Téa Baum, and Drew Boley, played by junior Josh Lev. Sherrie moves to Los Angeles to become an actress, where she meets aspiring musician Drew. Yet, because the demolition of music venues in the area challenges Drew’s musical hopes. Drew, Sherrie, and their peers soon find themselves in a race to save the Sunset Strip. Pulling back the curtains on this story of stardom and song reveals teams of student designers for both set and costume design. These students worked countless hours leading up to production week, setting up everything from lighting and backdrops to wigs and props. To portray the eccentric nature of ’80s rock culture, the actors in Rock of Ages intentionally exaggerated their characters’ traits and at times

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were even “borderline cartoony,” Kline said. According to Baum, the cast embodied their characters’ “dramatic and bold” attributes. She added that they worked “on making our characters larger than life.” Characters also broke the fourth wall and interacted with audience members, according to Kline. “What’s really great is that they’re all aware they’re in the musical, so they talk to the audience as if they realize they’re on a stage and they’re acting.” The set design team put in months of construction work to recreate the setup of an ’80s rock concert. According to sophomore Ethan Rensing, the assistant set designer, the crew was inspired by famous clubs, live performances of ’80s bands, and sets from various musicals such as Rent. One noteworthy piece of the set was an addition to the stage that jutted into the audience, allowing actors to move closer to viewers. According to junior Alex Wymer, a cast member, the add-on intensified the usual challenges of putting on a show. “There are multiple levels, which is completely new,” he said. A challenge for the team was building a huge, curved metal structure typical of rock shows in the ’80s. The structure hung above the stage, creating an arch with various colored lights and spotlights dangling from it. The actors could navigate the area with ease and still be visible at all times. Freshman Daniel Borhegyi, a stage crew member, said, “We have a bunch of mechanical lights that are going to move, and we have lights hidden under the set.”

According to Baum, the set design of the show is “something that Newton North Theater has never done before.” She added, “I think the tech really stands out.” Another important process of the show was costume design and creation. According to senior Carolann Leger, a costume designer, Rock of Ages is “a period piece” with a “modern edge.” She said, “The ’80s are making a comeback, but in a different way” and “there’s a difference between the actual ’80s and the modern ’80s.” She added that the costume designers steered away from the stereotypical neon jazzercise leg warmers of the ’80s, as well as trends like “mom jeans” which are making a comeback; instead, they focused on emphasizing the lesser known Rock ‘n’ Roll elements of the era. The costume design team focused on replicating real outfits worn by celebrities from the ’80s, including reconstructing a green jumpsuit worn by Farrah Fawcett, an American actress who starred in many early ’80s movies. Costume designers created it from scratch, while also using recycled costumes from past shows and other pieces they pulled from Theatre Ink’s expansive costume collection. The team used leather, band logos, and denim to replicate the fashion of ’80s rock, even giving the clothes frayed edges and acid washes to create a more worn-in feel. According to senior Harper Stein, a costume designer, compared to last year’s musical, Cinderella, Rock of Ages’ costumes were easier to create because costume designers could “use the clothes that we already have, and only shop and construct a little bit,” she said. The hair and makeup team had

their hands full creating the bold hallmark looks of the ‘80s. Seniors Celia Friedman and Maya Lozinsky, the heads of hair and makeup design, were in charge of designing a hair and makeup look for 50 cast members. According to Lozinsky, they styled over 50 wigs by hand to create the sky-high hairstyles. “It’s a tedious process that involves us coming in almost every day after school for months, coming into school over February break to style wigs, and countless hours of breathing in hairspray,” she said. Friedman and Lozinsky’s team spent months researching before the show, and the hair and makeup of Bon Jovi, Kiss, David Bowie, and ’80s drag culture were their biggest sources of inspiration. In one scene, called “Metal Video Stars,” the entire cast sings “I Wanna Rock” by the band Twisted Sister. The team put the ensemble in makeup inspired by the band Kiss, who were known for their stark white makeup look complete with deep black designs surrounding their eyes. Another example of the team’s best work was the Bowie-inspired makeup for senior Andy Bean, who played Lonny. In the musical, Bean sported Bowie’s famous bright orange mullet from his “Ziggy Stardust” days, with a blue and purple eyeshadow look, complete with red lipstick to emulate the androgynous nature of the ’80s rock scene. The look channeled Bowie’s bold and energetic stage presence. In anticipation of opening night, Wymer said, “there’s a line in the show that opens it up that says, ‘prepare to have your face melted.’” He added, “I would say this will sufficiently melt your face off.”

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Left: The costume department set wigs and hair pieces in ’80’s hairstyles for ‘Rock of Ages.’ Above: Senior Leah Lakomski works to create a set piece for ‘Rock of Ages’ Wednesday, March 6.


Monday, March 18, 2019

Newton North, The Newtonite v 7

Champion boys’ gymnastics ushers in new era Nichol Weylman-Farwell Gathered in a teammate’s basement, the Newton co-op gymnasts shared laughs and stories well past midnight while reliving the memories of their successful season. The previous night, the team had won its fifth straight State Championship in a dominating fashion. “We had a really stacked team this year, but we’re also losing some talented guys, so hopefully our dynasty will continue,” said senior Michael Mitelman, a captain with senior Steven Tan, junior Jake Forbes, and South senior Sam Arber. With this year’s championship by

win, the team furthered its status as a dynasty. It would have been impossible for the team to achieve such high standards without the efforts of its eight seniors. “The reason this team has been so successful for the last five to six years is because of its depth. It’s strong right down the lineup,” said Tom Steeves, a coach with Bill Martin. However, with over half of its members graduating this year, the team may not have enough gymnasts to defend its title. According to Steeves, only six members of the current squad are returning. “You need three or four gym-

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Sophomore Matthew Hassan performs on floor during North’s boys gymnastics meet against Burlington in the final home meet of the season Friday, Jan. 4.

nasts in each graduating class, so theoretically we have 12-16 kids on any given cycle. We currently have one freshman performing and another on the disabled list,” said Steeves. He attributed the struggle with recruitment to a “lack of advocacy” within the school system. “Since neither of us [coaches] are working in the building, we are outsiders, and don’t have any real advocates here, which is something we really need,” he said. “Whether it be the athletic department or the physical education department, they need to shout us out to the freshmen and sophomores and give us some more exposure.” Another issue plaguing the team is the lack of a “pipeline” in the middle schools, according to Martin. Brown and F.A. Day Middle Schools had gymnastics programs during the winter, but due to budgetary restrictions, the city cut both programs, Martin said. Steeves added, “It was like a three-week program between winter and spring sports for the middle schools. It was good, and from that program we were able to get several gymnasts every year, which is what we need.” Without programs at the middle schools, the only way for students to gain exposure to the sport is through the small programs offered at several of Newton’s elementary schools, Martin said. However, he added that many of the athletes have forgotten about gymnastics by the time they’ve reached the high school or have chosen other sports. “Basically we need people that are unattached in the winter and not involved in extracurriculars, and would like to give gymnastics a try,” Steeves said. “We need them to have some basic interest in the idea of becoming a gymnast, because it isn’t easy.” For next season, Steeves said he hopes recruited athletes will be dedicated to helping the team bring

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Senior Josh Castleman performs on pommel horse during North’s boys gymnastics meet against Burlington in the final home meet of the season Friday, Jan. 4. home another trophy However, Steeves said he believes that his young “core” of Forbes, sophomore Matthew Hassan, and South freshman Adrian Michael will help the team continue their success moving forward.

Martin added, “I’m expecting them to carry on the success that Newton gymnastics has experienced the last several years. I’m relying on their leadership and experience to help guide the newer members.”

Blackburn encourages perseverance in athletes

James Dun Rappaport As a high school track star, Jim Blackburn was the New England Champion in the 100m three years in a row. As a coach, Jim Blackburn led North’s track teams to a total of 12 State Championships. As a mentor, Jim Blackburn has helped guide thousands of athletes into adulthood. Whether he was on the track or on the sidelines, Jim Blackburn was always a force for good at North. After his own high school and collegiate running career, Blackburn spent nearly 30 years as the head coach of the cross country team and both the indoor and outdoor track teams at North, from 1989 until the beginning of the 2017 indoor track season, when he retired. On Jan. 27, he became the first person to be inducted into the Massachusetts Track Hall of Fame as both an athlete and coach. Blackburn’s great success earned him respect among both worldclass and student athletes alike. According to senior Theo Burba, a captain of the track team, an Olympian once asked Blackburn for a training plan. Blackburn’s plan included 50 half-lappers, “which is crazy,” said Burba. But, he added, “The guy just did it no questions asked. That’s how much he respected Blackburn.” It was this kind of intensity which resulted in the success of his athletes on the track at North. According to math teacher Shawn by

Wallace, the current head coach of boys’ track, Blackburn’s athletes “know it is hard to be good, but they know that if they follow him, they will be successful too.” According to senior Forrest Kaplan, another captain of the track team, whenever runners on the team complained about how hard they were working, Blackburn would describe his track experience. “He told us that he once had an important meet that he had to run in, but he had a broken leg—he got second or third,” said Kaplan.

“As we always say in sports, go the extra yard, give 110 percent. That was Jim.” - athletic director Tom Giusti

Blackburn demanded a high level of commitment from his athletes, and he expected them to push themselves to their limits during every practice. “He is a very intimidating person if you don’t know him personally,” said Wallace. In addition to winning dozens of running awards, Blackburn was frequently honored for his coaching success. He won so many awards that, according to Burba, “for the Boston Globe All-Scholastics, he

wouldn’t attend the events, and just told them to use his picture from the last time.” While Blackburn always maintained a serious mentality on the track, he had a good sense of humor off of it. According to Kaplan, one student constantly missed practices, claiming he was at the dentist. “Blackburn kept making jokes about [the student’s] teeth for the rest of the season,” said Kaplan. Throughout his time at North, Blackburn maintained a close relationship with the boys on his team. At the start of the 2005 season, Blackburn promised his athletes that if they won the three State Championships­—cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track— he would tattoo the words “Triple Crown” on his arm. Former North track athlete, Jed Carpenter, ‘05, said, “We won all of the State Championships and we started outlining the tattoo on his arm.” However, when the athletic director threatened to fire Blackburn if he went through with the tatoo, Blackburn decided against the idea. Following the incident, Carpenter said he was glad that Blackburn didn’t follow through with the tattoo, but he felt the gesture was meaningful. “It meant something to us to see how committed he was to winning those three championships that season,” said Carpenter. According to athletic director Tom Giusti, “Jim would be there with one or two of his athletes,

almost every day. He was very committed to the kids.” Giusti added, “As we always say in sports, go the extra yard, give 110 percent. That was Jim.” As a result of this hard work, his athletes improved—Burba said, “You can see a direct return on your investment in terms of the work you put in.” Blackburn himself began his running career at Somerville High School. He continued running at Villanova University, where his record as a part of the mile relay at the Penn Relays remains after 63 years.

In the early part of his career, coaching the boys’ track team at North, Blackburn also worked in the counseling department. Through exemplary motivational skills, dedication, and a passion for track, Blackburn secured his legacy both as an athlete and as a coach. While he has left North, the mark he made on his runners will last forever. As Giusti said, “Everyone loves to improve and everyone loves to win. Those two things are not mutually exclusive and Jim knew how to cultivate that mentality in his athletes.”

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Monday, March 18, 2019

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