MARS Robotics Club A look at the Mega Awesome Robotics Club and its members page 2
Smarty Pants Students play smart games, likechess, for increased fun page 11
The Art of Bracketology During March Madness, creating a bracket is a work of art page 6-7
4875 Grandiflora Road, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 33418
April 5, 2012
English teacher switches to part time By Hunter Toro Editor-in-Chief
Next fall, Mrs. Lynne Feyk will be trading stacks of ungraded papers for more dirt under her nails. Mrs. Feyk, however, is not retiring. She is becoming a part time faculty member, teaching two AP Language classes and a semester of Film Analysis in order to pursue her other love, gardening. “I think every person goes through phases in life where your interests and things you enjoy pursuing change. I’ve started to go back to my farming roots, and I now run a small farm,” she said. So when the opportunity to teach part time availed itself, Mrs. Feyk decided to take it. “I’ve kind of always wanted to homestead a little bit. And Mr. Feyk and I have always joked about that idea of setting up a little homestead and raising our own crops and things so this is a nice opportunity to do that,” she said, “I’ve been getting into business with that and I’ve expanded my flock of chicken and ducks and we’re getting goats and a lot of things that keep me very busy. So this part time opportunity looked like it might be a good chance to pursue the two things that I really like.” Mrs. Feyk believes the biggest change will come from her rooming situation. “I’m going to have to share a room with Mr. Feyk now. We’ve been joking about that, that he needs to start cleaning out his closet because it’s full of strange artifacts. When Mrs. Gage shared a room with him she was afraid of it,” she said, “It will be interesting because at home it’s one thing, but at work
I’m much much more organized person than Mr. Feyk. Students will be able to see very clearly which side of the room is mine and which is his.” Mrs. Feyk is adamant that she will remain involved in the school, while she still heads Habitat for Humanity club and artistic events such as Backdoor Café, and remains a member of the student-teacher band, PFP. She will also remain an advisor; “My advisees are going to be seniors next year, there’s obviously no way I’d give them up,” she said. While many may think switching to part time will increase her spare time, Mrs. Feyk does not believe this is the case. “Actually it will be a lot of work, including physical work on the farm. I want to see how much it can be possible to build this into a real business. Right now I’m work-
ing with about ten customers that I provide vegetables and baked goods to but I’d like to see about expanding that,” she said. She will also spend her time off from school exploring her love of writing. “I’ve written over the past few years for newspapers and magazines about gardening and I think I would like to continue to do that, writing sort of a howto about the trials of a self-sustaining lifestyle and things of that nature,” she added. Mrs. Feyk believes this opportunity can only be beneficial and allows her to pursue her two passions. “I never really want to give up teaching, because that’s a lot of who I am and what I really love, but this looked like a [possible] way to try to do both things. It’s kind of a lifestyle change,” she concluded. v
LAURA BARRY/ Executive Editor
Mrs. Feyk will be teaching part time next year in order to pursue other passions.
LIAM FINE/ Staff Photographer
Friday the boys’ varsity lacrosse team defeated Lake Highland Prep, the defending state champions, 9-8.
Potty Mouth Curse words have become more accepted in casual conversation. page 9
History dept. to commence staff search
AP US History and World History teacher Mr. Matthew Peal plans to leave Benjamin to pursue other teaching opportunities. By Juliette Mercadante Staff Writer
History teacher Mr. Matthew Peal has recently announced that he will not be returning next year, and the school has now started searching for a new teacher to fill his position. The Peals are going to the Darlington School, a boarding school in northwest Georgia. Mr. Peal will be teaching a similar course load and coaching baseball. Mrs. Lauren Peal will finally have an opportunity to coach crew, something she excelled at in college and has wanted to do for her entire career. “Our decision to leave Benjamin was rooted in family and ‘fit’. We were approached by a school this past winter and offered an opportunity that, in the end, better fit our personal family and professional needs; ultimately, that opportunity proved to be too hard to pass up,” Mr. Peal said. According to administrators the school will be doing a local and national search to find the best candidate. The school will put ads in the Palm Beach Post, and will also list the position with the Florida Council of Independent Schools and The National Association of Independent Schools. It will post the job position with two teacher placement agencies; Carney Sandoe Associates, and Southern Teachers Agency. Commenting on this process, Mr. Peal said, “I’m sure the school will do everything in its power, using the resources available to them, to find the best ‘fit’ for Benjamin. I’m sure the next history teacher will be a wonderful addition to the overall community.” School administrators said it will bring the most appealing candidates to the campus for a day-long interview with numerous groups. Visiting candidates will meet with a panel of students, individually with administrators, and with department members. The candidates will also teach a demonstration class. In addition, the school checks references before making the final offer. As the search continues for a new Benjamin teacher, Mr. Peal and his family seem to be thrilled for what the new job opportunity will bring to them. “Overall, my wife and I could not be more excited about our future,” he added. v
Prom Problems Sophomores cheating the system, frustrate upperclassmen page 3
Page 2 April 5, 2012
The Pharcyde View more news @ PHARBLOG.COM
MARS robotics club creates new interest By Andy Weir Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Olivia Loving
Alumna Olivia Loving attends NYU where she listens to Jonathan Safran Foer conduct class.
Famous writer teaches alumna By Rachel Smith Staff Writer
While Advanced Placement Language and Literature students read, analyze, and discuss Jonathan Safran Foer’s novels Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated in English, 2011 graduate Olivia Loving had a weekly class, throughout her first semester at NYU, taught by Foer himself. Loving took a collegiate seminar class called Impossible Writing with Foer. She learned about the class during summer orientation: “I heard that Jonathan [he asks his students to call him by his first name] was teaching one, and then I kind of forgot about everything else and set my mind on getting in,” she said. In order to ensure a place in the class of 16 students, she talked to her orientation leader and then met with her advisor early in the process. Once he approved her for the class, she went to register and was able to get in since she was first in line. “Part of the philosophy behind the collegiate seminar program is that the professor remains a mentor throughout your NYU career,” Loving said. She explained that the students got a new assignment each week. “He focused a lot on making your writing original, making it have meaning beyond being just a good piece of writing,” she said. Foer wanted the class to discuss each student’s work every week even if they only discussed it for a limited amount of time, which differs from the philosophy of many other teachers who will schedule two to three students to be discussed per class period. Before the class met for the first time, Foer emailed the students their first assignment which was “to create a piece of writing that can exist only in the place that it is put,” Loving said. He gave the students several examples, such as a suicide note placed on a balcony, or a letter in a coat at Goodwill. The students then spent a day searching to find everyone else’s projects with the clues they
were given. “It really reminded me of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close when Oscar was going on the search for keys and I thought it was an awesome thing; It was like being in Jonathan’s head; he was sending us on a little journey,” she said of the project, which she considers her favorite task of the semester.
“It’s different than anything you’ve ever known. ” OLIVIA LOVING class of 2011 Other assignments he has given them throughout the semester include writing a 400 word autobiography, writing an obituary, and creating museum exhibits. When Foer was scheduled to appear on “The Colbert Report,” he received six tickets and was able to provide Loving, along with five of her classmates, the opportunity to attend in front row seats. “It was really generous of him to do, and I’m grateful for the experience. I loved every second of it,” Loving said. “He’s really into having relationships with you, wanting to help you, wanting to help your writing, which I think comes out of the fact that one of the reasons he became a writer, that he believed that he could be a writer… was that he had Joyce Carol Oates as his professor at Princeton… so he kind of tries to recreate that relationship,” she said. According to Loving, he emphasized two unique mottos, “There are so many books in the world and the world doesn’t need more books; you have to write what only you can write and what no one else can,” and “You should write a book that’s someone’s favorite book somewhere on earth.”
When she first began to read his work in high school, she did not know what to make of his writing. “I was unsure about his style and then it grew on me; I really love it, it’s just the kind of thing that you’re not used to seeing all the time,” she added “It’s different than anything you’ve ever known.” Loving cites his non-fiction work, Eating Animals, as one of the reasons she decided to become a vegetarian at the beginning of this year. “I thought [the novel] was brilliant because it put down every argument against vegetarianism,” she said explaining one of the factors which contributed to her decision. She describes his personality in class as “very chill and kind” and added that he told the class that it is their prerogative whether or not to come to every class or to turn in assignments on time. Loving found that he used constructive criticism appropriately. “He was always complimentary; if something worked, he would say it, but you never felt bad because you did bad one week on a piece,” she said. After reading a sentence that was a part of her assignment one week, Foer told Loving ‘I wish I’d written that,’ and after that, she realized that “Even though he didn’t love all my pieces, that moment was gratifying.” The students continue to meet with Foer and recently had a picnic together in Washington Square Park. He is holding a class in May for those who want to participate in a workshop to edit and discuss 20 pages of writing which they have written since the class ended. Loving concluded, “Before this class, I had done what I thought was ‘enough’ to eventually be a good writer, which was that I really focused on my style and plot and characters… Jonathan did a really good job at conveying that there is more to writing than just good form …He challenged me to approach my work from an entirely different perspective.” v
As junior Randell Doane demonstrated two robots scurrying on the gym floor, little did he know that nine months later his team would be heading to national competitions One year ago, Doane, president of National Science Honor Society, joined MARS, also known as Mega Awesome Robotics Systems. After participating in the Tempest In Tampa competition, where his team of non-Benjamin students came in second out of over 40 teams, Doan felt that some Benjamin students would be interested in joining MARS, so he collaborated with some of the other team members to prepare a demonstration for the school. Following the assembly, three Benjamin students joined the team: sophomore Eric Rosen, senior Malena Ohl, and sophomore Austin Matese. “It’s fantastic to see four Benjamin students on the team, and we hope to have many more participate next year, so if anyone else is interested, clear your after-school and weekend calendars for January and February of 2013,” Doane said. Benjamin’s participation in the program came from a new initiative that the Science Department has instituted dubbed STEM. This acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The new initiative’s primary goal is to increase the presence of the four fields at Benjamin. “These four fields offer great careers that we would love to see some Benjamin students pursue,” Mr. Eric Gardner, science teacher, said. Each year, teams are assigned a task, known as a “game,” for their robot to complete. Each team receives the same predetermined parts that can be arranged in a variety of ways to construct a robot that can perform the designated task. Once the robot is complete, the teams travel to several competitions to see how their robot compares with other robots. They also distribute awards for best website and other categories.
Members recognize that the club does takes up substantial time, in that they must attend meetings every night of the school week and the weekend while the program runs in January, February, and parts of March. “This is an extreme time commitment, but well worth it, because during those hours you are planning the new mechanical design, solving engineering problems and working with a team to design, construct and program the robot,” Doane said. MARS can lead to several career options in the fields of engineering and robotics for members. All active members receive a small amount of scholarship money to any college of their choice. “There are a lot of unique characters with interesting personalities,” sophomore Austin Matese, member of MARS, said. “There is a fabulous sense of collaboration and community not only during the build period, but also at the competition itself. We cheer on our own team’s design, but we also come to other teams’ aid if needed,” Doane said. Although the student members do most of the work, they are not alone. Many engineers and supervisors work with them and provide insight. “There are many adults in the community that come to the build site to help give guidance and there are engineers from Pratt and Whitney, and they have other various backgrounds in computer science and engineering fields,” Doane said. Members are challenged to work along with fellow members and adults to accomplish their ultimate goal of building a robot that can perform the task. “The plan is for students to work side by side with engineers and mentors as they collaborate to build the robot,” Mr. Gardner said. After coming in fourth out of 64 teams in a competition, in Orlando, the MARS robotics team continues to progress and may have the opportunity to compete in the National Championship in April. v
Badminton returns after two-year hiatus By Rachel Smith Staff Writer
After a two year hiatus, Student Council has announced that the badminton tournament is returning and will take place April 4 and April 5. The tournament will include 16 teams of two playing in a bracket with matches lasting until 21 throughout both days. The final match will be played in assembly. Each participant was required to pay five dollars to enter the tournament. “The money will go to charity
and whoever wins will decide where it goes and Student Council will match the proceeds,” Student Council President Daniel Ditaranto explained. Senior Savannah Barkdull was in the tournament her freshman year but lost after the first round. “I’m ready to go all the way this year. I’m so excited to have the tournament back again,” she said. Ditaranto spoke to all of the participants when he said, “Just get pumped and excited; it’s a great thing.” v
April 5, 2012 Page
High tuition costs influence long-term college choices By Hunter Toro Editor-in-Chief
Some students with plans to attend graduate schools are forgoing opportunities to receive their bachelors out of state and are opting to stay in-state to save money for their future schooling. Senior Andrew Roche is one such student weighing the two options. Despite Roche’s admission into the University of Texas at Austin, his top choice, he is considering attending Florida State University because of his plans to attend graduate school and eventually earn a master’s degree. “UT is $45,000 to $50,000… there’s no way I could pay for that… I don’t want to have to pay $50,000 for my first year of college when I have to pay it anyway for graduate school,” he said. Roche says his decision is being heavily influenced by his belief that graduate school is ultimately more valuable than undergraduate school. “I think grad school is more important in the long run because a good grad school can
really reinforce everything you have done throughout your college career” he said, “Since it is the most focused period of learning, it is important the graduate school is a good [one].” Similar to Roche, one anonymous senior’s decision to attend an in-state university comes from her belief that the money she would spend on out-ofstate schooling would be better spent on a highly regarded medical school. “Although I got into other great schools out of state, I thought that it made more sense economically to stay in state and spend the money [saved] on a good medical school,” she said, “The medical field is so competitive right now that you basically have to go wherever you get accepted, meaning that you don’t have as much discretion when it comes to tuition at that point.” Each year, students present Dean of College Counseling, Ms. Kristen Learner, with this situation. Ms. Learner warns against the mindset that graduate school is of much greater
Sophomores to crash prom, cheat system By Ave Healey Staff Writer
The efforts of some sophomores to attend prom has created a controversy on campus. While juniors and seniors have mixed feelings about the issue, many believe that in recent years, sophomores attempting to gain invitation to the event have bent the rules. Some 10th graders are able to attend the dance because they are dating upperclassmen. It is also common for a sophomore to be asked to prom by a junior or senior. These instances are not the problem. What has many students aggravated is that 10th graders, who are looking for a way to get into the dance, have asked juniors or seniors to be their dates. One anonymous senior, who attended prom with a sophomore last year, took no offense when she was asked by an underclassman. “I personally did not think it was a big deal. I feel it’s better to go with someone than to go alone.” However, the situation is complicated when the two students do not know each other well. Often, sophomores looking to attend prom will ask people they hardly know to the dance in order to find a date. She admits that this does actually make a big difference in one’s prom experience. “Although the Benjamin community is so tight that it is impossible to not know somebody, [not knowing your date well] can be awkward. Even though I had so much
fun dancing with my friends, I still felt indebted to that person when the slow song came on.” In a more sophisticated version of the “ask an upperclassman” approach, some 10th graders arrange to use a ticket bought by a junior or senior who already has a date. For instance, if two juniors were planning on going to prom together, they could each purchase tickets for themselves and another person, giving the spare tickets to friends in the 10th grade. In this way, sophomores are able to attend prom without even finding a date in the junior or senior class.
“I still felt indebted to that person when the slow song came on.” ANONYMOUS senior This method in particular has many upperclassmen claiming that younger students are “cheating the system.” Sophomores who have found a way to join their friends at the dance, whether it be with a date or by some other circumstance, don’t see the harm. “If a sophomore is able to go to prom, it should be allowed,” said sophomore Amanda Stevens. It seems that although a number of upperclassmen are upset, quite a few 10th graders will be in attendance this year at prom. v
importance than undergraduate school. “I think it’s important for people who are planning on attending grad school to think about the next place, but you want in each step of your life to pick the best place that allows you to be the best version of yourself,” she said, “So if you pick an undergrad school with the next piece in mind, be careful.”
“I think grad school is more important in the long run.” ANDREW ROCHE senior “Don’t pick your undergraduate school because you are thinking two steps ahead. Pick the place that allows you now, not in four years, to be the best version of yourself. Take a look, know what you’re saying
no to first,” she added. For alumni Matthew Murray, his choice of undergraduate school, The University of Central Florida, was not made because of his investment in the school itself. While Murray had been accepted to his top choice, George Washington University, Murray ultimately made the choice to stay in-state to save for graduate school. “In the end it seemed impractical to essentially waste the money on my undergraduate degree. If you have plans to go to graduate school, what becomes important is your graduate degree, because where you went for undergrad won’t really factor in to your career pursuits,” he said, “I came to UCF because I know that in the long run it would benefit me, educationally and financially speaking. I’ll, or my parents, rather, have saved close to $230,000 by the time I graduate, and that’s multiple years worth of debt that I’d be working off had I needed to accept loans from an out-of-state school.” While Murray believes his decision is the right one, he
admits that he sometimes still feels regret. “I wouldn’t say that I’m unhappy in my choice, but it’s difficult sometimes. I came into this situation with the mentality that it was not where I wanted to be and that I was not going to be happy here, but that’s not how college works,” he said. “You’re not going to be completely happy with any school you go to; it’s the friends that you make and the success that you have that garners happiness. It took me a few months time to realize that. It’s still a challenge at times. I think, I would be happier if I hadn’t done this, but truly, I know that coming to UCF will give me the best possible chance to continue on the path that I want to,” he added. Regardless of what Roche finally decides to do, he does not believe that he will come to regret his decision, but he acknowledges the importance of planning. “I always think it’s smarter to plan ahead,” he said, “If you aren’t sure about financial options and the chances of getting a good scholarship are low, it’s sometimes a necessity.” v
SAM GREENSPAN/ Online Editor
The English Department and the College Counseling office, along with a few others, will be undertaking a few projects this spring, including a Benjamin version of the famous “PostSecret.”
Projects to publish ‘secrets’ By Ben Greenspan Staff Writer
A variety of teachers are working on two projects that will encourage students to share their most personal selves creatively. The first project will be a Benjamin version of PostSecret. PostSecret is an organization that collects homemade postcards on which people write their secrets and illustrate them in an attempt to alleviate any pressure or hardships that these secrets are causing. These cards are then posted anonymously on the website www. postsecret. com, or they are put in one of Post Secret’s books that are then sold to the public. Mr. Simon Behan and Mrs. Nidhi McVicar have been planning on doing a similar project at Benjamin since last year. “[Mrs. McVicar and I] had been touched by the candor, poignancy, insightfulness, and sometimes hilarity of the initial series of books,” Mr. Behan said. “It prompt-
ed us to think about how it might work in the Benjamin community.” Students have been responding positively to the Post Secret Project thus far. “The project at Benjamin is a great idea because it’s a way for people to understand what goes on in others’ lives,” senior Sara Forrest said. “It will give students who are struggling with something the chance to say how they really feel. The Benjamin version of PostSecret will consist of students creating art and writing secrets on one side of a notecard that will then be anonymously dropped off in front of Mr. Behan or Mrs. McVicar’s rooms. “We wanted to create a community art project and give students an opportunity for self-expression,” Mrs. McVicar said. “It is amazing to see the creativity and ideas that our students possess.” The other “secret” project is the College Essay Project which the College Counseling Depart-
ment is working on in conjunction with the English Department. Mr. Behan believes that the project will be a positive way for the senior class to remember each other. “It’s going to be a great way to look back and remember your classmates. It will be more personal than something such as a few images and a quote at the back of the yearbook,” Mr. Behan said. “In addition, future seniors can leaf through the essays of past students, possibly finding inspiration for their own creations.” Some seniors, however, are split about how they feel towards the project. “I know that as a junior, it would’ve been great for me to get my bearings. When you’re writing an essay that’s so open-ended, it would’ve been nice to see examples,” senior Mariana Zindel said. “On the other hand, it would help creatively if there wasn’t a compilation so the essays would be original.” For seniors to add to the collection of essays, they have to email the essay to Mr. Behan. “I hope students participate enthusiastically in both projects.” v
Page 4 April 5, 2012
The Pharcyde Jeers
On April 14th juniors and seniors will celebrate a ‘Night in New Orleans’
With fourth quarter just beginning, seniors have already begun to check out.
The opinion of The Pharcyde
A Demerit Dilemma
It is a basic right of every student on campus, yet administrators are actively denying it. One would think that notifying students when they receive a demerit would be a logical administrative policy, but as an article in the March issue of The Pharcyde showed, what was thought to be common sense is inexplicably up for debate. During the planning stages of the March issue, Pharcyde editors became aware of a situation troubling students that involved the demerit system. Many students were under the impression that they had not received a demerit in the first semester, but were left off an email congratulating the demerit-less. After inquiring about their situations, some students found that, unbeknownst to them, they had received a demerit, usually in situations that were too far in the past to recall or clarify. Around the same time, the school’s National Honor Society chapter inducted new members, and The Pharcyde is aware of two hopefuls who were rejected at least partly on the basis of demerits unknown to the students. We assumed these situations were the result of simple mistakes—a series of administrative oversights that left students uninformed of their demerits because they fell through the cracks—and assigned a story in an effort to bring light to the problem so it could be fixed. Our assumption was wrong. The article revealed administrators fully aware that students receive demerits without being notified and defensive of what appears to be a policy not to inform students of their demerits. “Every student should know that he or she receives demerits for being late… it’s in the handbook. I went over
that in the beginning of school during assembly, and I met with each of the classes,” Dean of Students Ms. Sue Ball said in the article. “You should know what you can do and what you can’t do,” she continued, “and if you choose to come to school not properly dressed, chewing gum, or having your cell phone out then you should understand that you’re going to be receiving demerits if you’re caught.”
Benjamin, as a community, has yet to realize how lucky we are. Beyond our stellar students, our supportive families, and our motivated teachers, we are truly lucky that Benjamin is so safe. Students know that they are out of harm’s way when on campus grounds. Despite the safety that the school provides, a level of discomfort affects some students that we have yet to recognize. In 2009, a group of students formulated a proposal for a club directed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population at Benjamin. Though this population of students was thought by many to be nonexistent in our Upper School, the truth was that these students did exist; they just feared coming out in our small private school environment. This club, Allied in Pride, was aimed at creating a comfortable outlet for these LGBT students and at proclaiming the notion that being different is acceptable. When the proposal in 2009 first came under strict scrutiny by administrators, the student body decided to show their overwhelming support. A group of 75 students marched into assembly wearing tie-died white uniform shirts and a group of 150 students wore rainbow ribbons in a peaceful effort to fight for the cause of a Gay-Straight Alliance, now called the Allied in Pride club. The club’s sponsors originally submitted the proposal to the Dean of Students, as any other club must be. It then traveled up the administrative hierarchy, eventually reaching the Board of Trustees. In the hands of the Board of Trustees is where the proposal reached its tipping point. Despite the support of students and teachers alike, the proposal was rejected because the board, in agreement with school administrators, believed that our community of parents was not ready to accept it. In the absence of administrative support, the club proposal lost momentum while LGBT students were forced back into silence. Benjamin was so close to achieving a comfortable atmosphere for all students, where being gay was looked at as nothing more than a piece of trivial information.
Though students were aware of the support coming from their peers, in the years that followed, gay and lesbian students have waited until they graduated to admit that they are gay. In almost every graduating class, one to two students have admitted to being gay after leaving Benjamin. It is not that these students did not have friends, parents, or teachers to confide in; they simply did not feel comfortable being themselves at Benjamin. In the face of failure to create this club and the knowledge that nothing had truly been done to help these students, a new group of sponsors came forward. They submitted a re-written proposal, which five advisors including administrators and teachers backed. Though Upper School administrators have had this proposal for several months, they have been unresponsive. The facts surrounding this issue are undeniable. In Sept. 2010, 18-year-old Rutger’s freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide upon discovering that his roommate had been secretly streaming videos of him and another man through a hidden camera in their dorm room. A year later, in Sept. 2011, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, committed suicide after being bullied for being gay for several years. No one of any sexual orientation should ever have to seek death as his or her only escape. How can we continue to recklessly disregard the fact that Benjamin has a status quo which inhibits students from admitting their own identity? How can we proudly post the word “acceptance��� on pillars and staircases on our campuses if we will not tolerate a club that allows for just that? The two students proposing this club have no personal agenda; they are not gay, lesbian, or bisexual. They have simply identified a need and have courageously taken appropriate initiative. They are merely the voice of those students who feel such discomfort that they are compelled to remain silent. The proposal and the conversation began in 2009, and it is now 2012. We do not have time for excuses nor can
The lack of administrative communication about demerits is both unfair and unkind. The Pharcyde disagrees, mainly because we recognize that the dynamics of receiving a demerit are not as simple as Ms. Ball puts it. While students do have an understanding of what is and is not allowed, how students get in trouble for their offenses is far less defined. Not every teacher assigns demerits after asking students to put their phones away, just as no two teachers react the same to tardiness. We appreciate the ways different teachers handle situations: it allows students to access them as real people, not just animated versions of the handbook. Because only a fraction of handbook offenses are caught,
and only a fraction of those are actually reported, it is unfair and, on a basic level, unkind to leave students guessing as to whether or not they have received demerits. Doing so only leaves students subject to an atmosphere in which they must wonder if they are in trouble. This creates an environment of presumed guilt, out of place on the Benjamin campus. Most importantly, though, one must recognize that not informing students of demerits defeats their very purpose. If demerits are awarded to discourage bad behavior, and students are not informed of their demerits, bad behavior will not be discouraged. A student who was left off National Honor Society who asked to remain unidentified illustrates this point well. “It was a big wakeup call that I needed to watch my tardiness, but it would have been helpful to hear about each demerit as it happened,” she said in the March issue. “That way I could stop them from building up to an extent that it affected my eligibility for N.H.S.” It was only after her “wakeup call” that this student knew to curb her behavior. The Pharcyde reasons that she was not in the wrong to be unaware of her demerits, since being marginally late to class is hardly an egregious offense, and her tardiness seemed to go undisciplined. The most fundamental problem we have with this entire situation, however, is that wanting students to be informed of their demerits is not too much to ask. It would require neither an extraordinary effort nor an unbearable time commitment; though, even if it did, we would still stand by the principle that it must be done.
Allied in Pride: creating a comfortable enviroment for all
we disregard the shocking statistics in the accompanying sidebar. The Benjamin School, which has always stood for understanding, acceptance, and respect, should certainly be an institution that encourages dialogue between gay and straight students on campus. Administrators have made promises to address the proposal, but we have yet to see any action. Board members or administrators who have continued to dismiss this proposal as something fiscally risky should know that this issue will not die. Students will not give up on this cause. It is not to say that Allied in Pride will solve all of these issues, but it will open doors, allow for appropriate conversation, and finally send the message to all students that it is OK to be different at Benjamin.
April 5, 2012 Page
v By all accounts, group projects result in more problems than they solve despite their good intentions Meredith Berger Copy Editor
If group projects are meant to teach above average students that they can only rely on themselves and to teach average students that they can get by without doing any work, then the group projects at Benjamin have been successful. However, I do not think that is the true purpose of these projects. In theory, group projects are meant to teach students how to interact with others in a working environment and prepare them for the “real world.” In actuality, this collaborative learning does nothing to prepare us, but rather is incredibly inaccurate and flawed in its execution. In the “real world” the people we’ll work with will be close to our caliber of work ethic, and the division of the workload will not be as disproportionate as our current high school group projects. This disproportion is a result of balancing out the groups- the teacher assigning an A student with a C student in hope that the A student will bring up the C student’s grade or teach the C student how to better manage school work. This method angers the bright students who find themselves struggling to complete all the work assigned to the group because they are afraid to rely on their C student counterpart or because their partner does not even offer to help. This scenario is not always the case though. Some classes do partnering randomly. This method is more accurate and better when put into practice—but that is not to say it is not flawed. If someone is partnered with someone he or she does not really know or someone who lives far away, meeting with that person over the weekends will be tough, especially with students’ busy sport and extracurricular schedules. However, in the “real world”, the project will be our job, and we will be able to spend time together at the workplace to complete our projects. Another problem with random partnering is that the
bulk of the work load will often fall on one person. This is inevitable because all students have different work habits, and it is difficult to align or sync those work habits, especially if someone does not know the person he or she is working with. So if one person likes waiting until the day before to complete the project, and the other person prefers getting it done ahead of time, the work habits will clash and the person who finishes his or her work weeks before the due date will do the majority of the project by him or herself. Lastly, classes exist that allow the students to choose their own partners. Although group projects are really not a necessity, if teachers insist we have them, then this method is always the best. Choosing our partners ensures that we have some knowledge of their ability and intellect and that we have a better chance to rely on them to do work. However, partnerships based on friendships can become awkward, such as when one friend is not doing enough work and the other diligent friend is afraid he or she will anger the lazy friend if confronted. Also, in the event that one of the part-
ners does something wrong or something that the other partner does not like, the other partner might find it uncomfortable to correct the friend because that person does not want to hurt the other’s feelings. Problems and tension arise as a result, and partnerships based on friendships can lead to negative effects on a relationship, such as arguing which can hinder work completion. Overall, group projects are inefficient, poorly executed and prove that working with others is a pain and that it is nearly impossible for everyone to do an equal amount of work; ultimately, it is always better to just do our work on our own. Artwork by Kelly Moran/ Staff Illustrator
Mallory Cotter Guest Column On March 29th we had an opportunity to view Miss Representation, a documentary that exposes how the image of women that is created by mainstream media and American culture puts limits on women and men. The message that our generation is receiving from the media is that a woman’s value and power lies in her youth, beauty, and sexuality rather than her intelligence and capacity as a leader. When I got to the library, I was hoping I was just early and more of my peers would be arriving soon. However, that was not the case, as I was one of about ten students to actually take advantage of the opportunity to view the film. I was extremely disappointed by the lack of student interest, as it’s a problem that exists within the student body at TBS. In many of my classes, I witness girls making
themselves appear dumber than they are in order to fit into the image of the ‘perfect’ woman that the media has created. Way too often I hear sexist jokes being made by the boys in my classes. When the issue is brought up and a girl has something to say on the matter, she is frequently met with “who cares what you think, get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich.” I was also disappointed by the low faculty attendance. Too often these sexist jokes are being made in front of teachers without the teacher intervening in the matter and letting the harassment continue. I believe that everyone at TBS should view Miss Representation. There should be a second screening of the movie at an assembly that administration makes mandatory. It is important to take this issue seriously. I encourage everyone to think critically about how the stereotypes of femininity and masculinity limit girls and boys. Examine the impact that media has on the way we think about ourselves and those around us. Say something nice and encouraging, rather than rip those around you down for not fitting the image media creates. Take the pledge at www.missrepresentation.org: “I pledge to use my voice to spread the message of Miss Representation and challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls.”
Editorial Board Online at www.PharBlog.com
Founded in 1980 as The Spectator April 5, 2012 The Benjamin School 4875 Grandiflora Road Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33418 Contact Info Phone: 561-472-3485 Fax: 561-691-8823 Advisor: Mr. Ken Didsbury firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief: Hunter Toro email@example.com
Hunter Toro Editor-in-Chief Laura Barry Executive Editor Ben Germano Co-Managing Editor Lauren Bernick Co-Managing Editor Meredith Berger Copy Editor Victoria Cribb Multimedia Editor Alana Dresner Columnist Sam Greenspan Online Editor Dean Sandquist Sports Editor Kelly Moran Staff Illustrator Liam Fine Staff Photographer
Copyright Miss Representation
Diversity club held a viewing of this movie that analyzes the misrepresentation of women in media.
Staff Writers Senior Junior
Mission Statement The Pharcyde is a student newspaper produced to foster an open dialogue about topics that relate to The Benjamin School. The issues that appear throughout our pages may be light-hearted or serious, but regardless we aim to reflect the Freshman diversity of opinion within our school that we value so deeply.
Tory Tiano Emily Dunkel Rachel Smith Averill Healey Jerrie James Casey Pearce Riley Burke Ashlyn Sendler Paige Sode Juliette Mercadante Ben Greenspan Andy Weir
Membership The Pharcyde is a member of the Florida Scholastic Press Association, American Scholastic Press Association, Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Asscociation. General The Pharcyde, the Upper School newspaper of The Benjamin School, is published six times a year.
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The Pharcyde is distributed to every student and faculty member and is availalbe in the Upper School office. If you or anyone you know would like to Each issue is mailed to every Upper School family’s place an ad in The Pharcyde, please contact home address. Laura Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Pharcyde encourages submission of Letters to the Editor. Send your feedback, criticism, or outside The opinion articles in this paper are the opinions in 150 words or less to hunter.toro12@theben- opinion of the writer and/or The Pharcyde jaminschool.org. The Pharcyde reserves the right to edit editorial staff. They are not the opinion of all letters for length, grammar, and clarity. The Benjamin School or our advertisers.
Page 6 The Pharcyde April 5, 2012
With March Madness mania coming to a close, The Pharcyde investigates the true art of creating a perfect bracket in the annual “Bracketology” contest. By Dean Sandquist Sports Editor
“I have never been so animated in front of my TV than I was during March Madness 2011,” junior Jacob Reitman said. “I found myself standing up, sweating, and screaming in my living room. It was insane.” Reitman, along with other Benjamin students and faculty members, competes in the annual “Bracketology” contest during college basketball’s March Madness. Last year, Reitman tied for the third best bracket in the world. Millions of brackets are filled out every March, and Reitman was one pick away from being number one and winning 25,000 dollars. Madness. Those at Benjamin who play “Bracketology” know that in the tournament, anything can happen. In other sports’ playoffs, only few teams have the chance to win the championship. However, in the NCAA Tourna-
ment, 68 teams battle with the title up for grabs.
“You can’t let biased opinions conflict with your bracket if you want to be a champion.” CAMERON KAPLAN senior Before the 68 team pool is selected, the 31 conferences have their annual conference tournaments where the winner of the tournament gets an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. After the final conference champion-
ship game, Selection Sunday begins. Selection Sunday takes place a week before the tournament when a committee of experts chooses the 37 teams that did not win their conference but will receive an at-large bid and compete in the tournament. Then the madness begins. The bracket contains four regions and 16 teams in each region. The one seed plays the 16 seed; the two seed plays the 15 seed and so on. Millions of basketball fans watch Selection Sunday and study the match-ups so that they can be ready to fill out their bracket. “I like watching the match-ups being announced because the experts do a great job breaking down each game, and I get a good idea on who I will pick,” senior Cameron Kaplan said. Deciphering the Bracket Physical Education teacher and JV basketball coach Christopher Nord-
land, like other Benjamin competitors, is an avid college basketball fan who cannot get enough of March Madness. “As a fan, it is always special to see the teams such as Butler, Ohio, and George Mason go from virtually unknown nationally, to the darlings of the country,” he said. “It is fun for people to be a part of some-
“I found myself standing up, sweating, and screaming in my living room.” JAKE REITMAN junior
Page 7 The Pharcyde April 5, 2012 thing bigger than themselves.” As far as the bracket goes, Nordland said, “The single most challenging task when selecting your bracket is trying to predict how teams will match up against one another. Every year it is consistently inconsistent.”
“It’s by far my favorite month of the year... Nothing is more entertaining than the NCAA tournament.” TYLER KASTEN freshman This is true. It is easy to choose a powerhouse over a “no name” team from a small liberal arts college. Then, the little program puts on its big boy pants and pulls off the unthinkable. That is why Bracketology is so tough and why it is another ingredient to the madness of March. Also, it is easy to be biased. People find it hard to pick against their beloved team. “Next year, I am picking all Ohio teams and Big 10 teams in my bracket. It seems like a good formula” Nordland said. On the other hand, Kaplan, another avid college basketball fan, said, “I throw all allegiance to a team out the window. You can’t let biased opinions conflict with your bracket if you want to be a champion.” Picking the match-ups is tough and some may lose sleep over it. “When I go with my gut and I make that pick that no one else makes and I get it right, it’s pure utopia,” Nordland said. Upset City According to Kaplan, the 5 seed vs. 12 seed games, the 6 vs. 11, and the 7 vs. 10 games are the most likely to birth upsets.
“It is fun for people to be a part of something bigger than themselves.” COACH NORDLAND JV basketball coach “Those games are very exciting,” Kaplan said. “It’s usually a small program who won its little conference tournament against a well-known program who received an at-large bid. Teams get put on the map in those games.” Last year was the year of the “Cinderella.” An 8 seed and an 11 seed met in the final four. Butler, the Horizon Conference champion from Indiana, made another run after its crazy 2010 tournament and Virginia Com-
monwealth, the Colonial Conference champion from Virginia, busted brackets last year. However, Reitman had a hunch. He said, “Butler was great in 2010 and I thought they had it in them to do it again. On the other hand, I watched VCU in their play-in game and they looked impressive. So, I put them in the elite eight.” Reitman’s final four in 2011—Kansas, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Butler—was almost perfect. He had Kansas defeating the “dark horse” VCU in the elite eight. If Reitman had thought otherwise and put VCU in the final four, he would have been the victor. “It felt amazing to have picked the championship (Connecticut over Butler) correctly,” Reitman said. “I remember vacillating between Kansas and VCU. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong team and that cost me 1st place in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge which would have made me 25,000 dollars.” Reitman, who says he only sometimes watches college basketball, had no complaints. He almost picked the first and second round completely right and his bracket was in the high 99th percentile. Reitman went with his gut and almost did something legendary; something millions of people dream of doing.
never be forgotten as the “Bracket Busters” from March Madness 2012. Never has a 16 seed beat a 1 seed in the tournament. This year, a Benjamin graduate, Quinard Jackson, and his team almost did.
heart broken; one fan goes to sleep smiling while another cries.
“Duke has not been as dominant as they usually are... However, it was still very sad.”
Enjoying the Madness For any true sports fan, March is definitely up there for the best month of the year. Freshman Tyler Kasten said, “It’s by far my favorite month. As a player and a fan, nothing is more entertaining than the NCAA tournament.” The phenomenon that is March Madness has its effects on whoever watches it. A crazy fan like Kasten can root for his favorite team and enjoy the great basketball. Even one who is not a fanatic can enjoy the tournament and, of course, fall in love with the Cinderella. March Madness has a little bit of everything. One team triumphs, another is
William Shakespeare once said, “Madness is the glory of this life.” With only seconds left with the game tied up, the last shot is launched, then the buzzer! This is what the glorious realm of sports is all about; anything goes…that’s madness.
The Buccaneer Installment Quinard Jackson, who graduated from Benjamin in 2008, was the starting forward for the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs for the past two seasons. Last year, the Bulldogs won the Big South Conference and were defeated in the first round of the 2011 tournament against Pittsburgh. This season, Jackson and the Bulldogs took the Big South crown once again and were matched up with the Syracuse Orange, a number 1 seed from the Big East. “Playing in a tournament is definitely more intense than playing in a regular season game,” Jackson said. “It’s a great experience but you have to have a killer’s mentality because it’s win or go home.” Against Syracuse, the Bulldogs had that “win or go home” mindset; they were playing to win. Jackson said, “They are human beings just like us. Their court isn’t any longer
Photo courtesy of Quinard Jackson and their hoops are 10 feet, just like ours are.” Over the course of the game, Asheville looked like the better team, despite being the heavy underdog. The teams went back and forth in the second half and were deadlocked with only minutes left. After a controversial lane violation call against the Bulldogs, Syracuse took advantage. Down three with less than 30 seconds left, one of Jackson’s teammates went for a steal on an inbounds play. What looked like a deflection off the Orange was interpreted differently by the referee. The ball was given back to Syracuse, and they ended up winning the game 72-65. Despite the devastating outcome, the Bulldogs held their heads high. “It was a tough loss to say the least but, like I learned at Benjamin, I stayed mentally tough and I set a good example for my teammates,” Jackson said.
MRS. McVICAR AP economics teacher
“I picked the wrong team and that cost me 1st place in ESPN’S tournament challenge which would have made me $25,000.” JAKE REITMAN junior
This year’s tournament brought forth some crazy upsets as well; so crazy that no bracket in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge was perfect after the first round. Not since 2001 has a 15 seed defeated a 2 seed. The Norfolk State Spartans from Virginia won the MEAC conference to earn a chance to win the big dance. They were a 15 seed and were matched up with the Big 12 Champion Missouri. That did not intimidate the Spartans as they outplayed the Tigers to make history. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks from Pennsylvania were the Northeast Regional Conference victors and were matched up with the powerhouse Duke University. Again, this 15 seed did not shy away from the competition. The Mountain Hawks ran the Blue Devils up and down the court and won the game to send their opponents home. AP Econonomics teacher Mrs. Nidhi McVicar, a Duke graduate, said, “For the past two years, Duke has not been as dominant as they usually are so I was not surprised. However, it was still very sad.” Despite losing their second round games, Lehigh and Norfolk State will
April 5, 2012 View school life @ PHARBLOG.COM
Searching for roommate feels similar to online dating By Victoria Cribb Multimedia Editor
This time of year, every senior goes through a period of worrying about finding the perfect roommate. Will they be messy? Will they have frequent sleepovers? Or worst of all, will they borrow your underwear without asking?
“I felt like I was filling out an online dating application.” CLARA PARKER senior Thanks to various networking sites, prospective roommates are able to do searches and find matches. Roomsurf is the most commonly used social networking resource that helps high school and college students connect with compatible roommates. To create a basic free account, users sign up through a network such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Myspace (yes it still exists) and design a profile. Then they fill out a survey and review compatible matches. For an extra fee, users can upgrade to a premium account, which gives maximum stalking capabilities and allows users to see their matches’ personal information and connect with them. “I made a Roomsurf account and since have met a few potential roommates. When you sign up you fill out a survey that asks questions about cleanliness, religion, how often you plan to have friends over, whether or not you can study with noise, and others,” senior Lexi Altman said. “I enjoyed filling out my profile information because it gives me a better chance of finding a roommate who I will get along with and have a lot in common.”
To better understand the individual, the survey offers a variety of generic answers. “Some of the answer options were quite questionable. I feel like no sensible person would admit to the answer ‘I shower at most once a week,’” senior Kaitlyn Elliott said. “I am picky when it comes to finding a roommate, but any person would hope their roommate showers daily!” When answering the survey questions and profile information, it is common to include hobbies, personality type, and other honest and positive traits, and exclude snoring while sleeping or being a perpetual nose picker. And while it’s tempting for students to describe every quality that makes them BFF material or fabricate stories about their high school football career, students like senior Clara Parker suggest that the soon-to-be college students keep things short and sweet and always remain truthful. “You want to know that this person will get along with the real you. If you lie or act differently, then it could lead to a miserable set up with a roommate,” Parker said. While this website is successful in matching potential roommates, many users get the online dating vibe. Although nobody includes that they like long walks on the beach, through the process of having to describe themselves and find compatible matches, many compare the experience to that of eHarmony’s. “I started my search by using Room Surf and didn’t like it because I could not really see who the person was or what they looked like. I felt like I was filling out an online dating application... it was really weird. That’s why I preferred the Facebook option, because you don’t fill anything out,” Parker said. Many are also conducting their search by joining college groups where accepted and pending students can receive updates and post. “I joined the College of Charleston Class of 2016 Facebook page and loved it!
There were constantly people writing on the page about rooming together, what dorms they wanted to be in, and if anyone was visiting the campus soon,” Parker said. The ability to stalk strangers on Facebook creates the opportunity for an in-depth background search on potential roomies. “I immediately look at their pictures. I know it sounds a little shallow, but you can tell a lot about a person through their photos,” Parker said. “When I’m contacted or when I’m contacting someone, I just look through their pictures and wallposts and see if they are similar to some of my friends now,” senior Jenn Nestler said. “Weird, crazy pictures or weird comments on their wall definitely make me reconsider wanting to be their roommate.” Judging whether a potential roommate uses obnoxious phrases like “I’d vom” or posts too many mirror pictures causes many to become aware of how their own Facebook describes them. “I haven’t altered my Facebook at all, but I did publicize my tagged pictures so they can see what I do with my life. I don’t want them to just see my favorite pictures in my profile pictures because seeing tagged pictures shows what I do and what my friends are like,” senior Heather Doan said. Many find their roommates through this search, yet the majority claim that it is inevitable to talk with a few potential roomies before finding “the one.” So how do you “break up” with someone who you are not interested in rooming with? Some suggest that instead of being blunt and saying “Sorry but you’re a little too weird for me,” seniors take the little white lie approach and claim to have already found a roommate, or just allow the conversation to conclude. “If it’s not meant to be, I feel like the conversation will fizzle out mutually,” Doan said. “Or I might say that
I will definitely keep in touch. I feel like I will ultimately run into them and could possibly become friends with them, so it’s better to be friendly than to just reject them.” It may seem difficult to hit it off with a complete stranger, which is why seniors like Nestler are connecting with others through her friends who already attend the school. “I have met a few girls who have mutual friends with me, so it is comforting to think that my friends know them. I can also get my friends’ opinion before I start talking to the person,” Altman said.
the quarterly planner as a template. The app will have a main page that will consist of two parts: schedule and settings. When the app is downloaded, the user will fill out information so the app knows what the user’s personal class schedule is. Once the user has completed that, if the user presses the schedule button, the app will bring up that day’s schedule with the class rotation for that day, the time of each period, the teacher of the class the user has, and the room number. It will also have any extra events that are taking place that day i.e. assembly/advisory, and the type of lunch being served that day. The app will enable people to write notes so that they can make reminders and other memos. Even though the app will have many options, Rosen would like to make the app more versatile by enabling the app to show athletic schedules and show teacher information. “The purpose of this app is so students have an easy and quick way to access the schedule,” said Rosen. The app is still in progress; Rosen
and Fishman haven’t done any direct coding for it yet. They have only drawn out a general database and how the app will look on a basic level. “A lot of people never know their schedule or what’s going on most of the day... It’ll be a nice app to pull out
before school to know what the schedule is if you forget and see what’s going on for the day,” Rosen said, “Also, the Benjamin site is a bit confusing and hard to navigate...this will get rid of that and make it easily accessible. I hope that is it used by a lot of people and is a helpful app.”
“You feel like a stalker and judgemental, but everyone is in the same bus.” HEATHER DOAN senior
While Facebook offers many outlets that allow the comfort of getting to know others, many turn to the old fashion method of getting to know a budding roommate in person. In past years seniors went to the lengths of flying to a different state solely for a roommate interview or friendly luncheon. Current seniors plan to duplicate these efforts but not to the same extent. As the excitement of attending college builds, as does the pressure to find a roommate. “The whole process is so bizarre, and you feel like a stalker and judgmental, but everyone is in the same bus. Everyone starts their conversation so hesitantly, like ‘Hey! We were a match!’” Doan said. “It’s so awkward and most people address the awkwardness of the situation, but luckily we all feel the same, so it works out in the end,” she added.
Students to create quarterly planner app for school By Jerrie James Staff Writer
Sophomore Eric Rosen, junior Michael Fishman, and Science Department Chair Dr. Darryl Martino recently announced they are building an application that will display the Benjamin quarterly planner for students, faculty, and parents to use. Rosen and Fishman are creating an app for their Advanced Research class project next year. The app will come out sometime next year. Because the Android phones do not charge for new apps, the app was originally going to be for Androids only but, Assistant Head of School for Academics, Mr. Ken Didsbury authorized The Pharcyde to buy the iPhone development package for a Pharblog app and will give the development package to Rosen and Fishman so the schedule app will be for the Android and iPhone. The purpose of this app is to provide students with an easy and quick way to access the schedule. The app will show the students their own personal schedule, using
LAURA BARRY/ Executive Editor
Rosen and Fishman will create apps to encourage efficiency within the school.
April 5, 2012 Page
Potty Mouth: cursing has become more socially acceptable By Tory Tiano Staff Writer
While many media sources censor words like #%!@ and %*#$, the dayto-day life of the Benjamin community does not have a profanity filter. Students and teachers agree that the current generation has changed the meaning of cursing, as it is something that is now commonly seen in casual conversation. “Cursing is something that is now used differently than previous generations. When my parents were growing up, cursing came with a severe punishment and wasn’t heard as often as it is now,” senior Austin Pepper said. Many students see this change as being an issue, but others willingly accept it. “I don’t think it’s a problem at the school. I hear people cursing but I don’t hear it as much as I feel like I would at other schools,” junior Alex Schepps said. Another student disagrees with Schepps and feels that cursing is very prevalent at Benjamin. “I see cursing a lot at Benjamin. Almost everyone I know does it,” senior Andrew Katzenberg said. Students explain that swearing occurs in many different situations, whether it is a casual conversation or when a student is angry. “People have started to use cursing in their casual conversation I think because it helps them explain their story,” senior Jamie Corey said. Senior Jenn Nestler notes that she finds herself cursing when she is in an infuriating situation. “I curse when I get fired up and really angry. I don’t see the point of cursing when it doesn’t slip and is used every other word,” she said. Students who are against it have even begun to substitute alternate words for curse words when they feel the need to swear. “There’s really an alternative to cursing. I like to come up with creative ways like saying son of a banana and holy pineapple,” se-
nior Ben Slavin said. Corey also shares Slavin’s method of finding other ways to say curse words. “I guess my older brothers cursed so much that I have become immune to it and think that it’s just a guy thing or something. I go for the more alternative words such as shiz and frickin’,” she said. Student Council president senior Daniel Ditaranto believes the change in language has occurred because of the addition of foul language into media. “I think our dealing with cursing is a cultural interaction, that what may have been frowned upon in the past is slowly becoming more accepted and accustomed. This is apparent in television, movies, and everyday interactions,” he said. Corey supported his statement by suggesting that hearing cursing in media encourages others to use it more. “I think that since music and TV has become more lenient to curse words that people are hearing it more and it’s kind of just accepted in society,” she said. Another reason why some students avoid cursing is that they have strong religious beliefs. “I curse sometimes but I get offended when people use the lord’s name in vain or use the “D” word after,” junior Sammi Schlecter said. Slavin avoids swearing because of the way he was raised and the discomfort it gives him while at Benjamin. “It makes me uncomfortable when cursing enters the warm nest of the Benjamin community. I just wasn’t raised that way and I don’t feel the need to curse,” he said. Mathematics teacher Mr. Christopher Casement states his personal philosophy on cursing in the classroom as being dependent on the word being used and if it was used accidentally. “If I hear something slip, I’m normally ok with it but if I hear a really bad word and it starts to happen frequently, I would bring it to their
Point-Counterpoint By Emily Dunkel Staff Writer
attention,” he said. “I don’t curse because I think it’s a gray area and it depends on the word being used. Some people are offended by a word that others aren’t,” he added. Another teacher that has experienced cursing in the classroom but doesn’t find it to be an issue at Benjamin is TV Studio and Broadcasting teacher Mr. Ken Archer. “I don’t think cursing is a problem at Benjamin. I don’t find students cursing a lot, and if I do, I would tell them to stop because I think allowing it in the class encourages it outside of the class, but
for the most part the students seem to be good about it,” he said. While students and teachers share different opinions about the existence of cursing at Benjamin, most agree that it isn’t a temporary fad and is here to stay. “I believe cursing is something that will always kind of exist as people push the line of what is accepted in society and new words or interactions will change with time. Benjamin is a school that will stand the test of time and kids will always be coming to school with new hip things to say that might be cursing,” Ditaranto said.
KELLY MORAN/ Staff Illustrator
Students and teachers have noticed a growing trend towards casual cursing.
Multiple Choice versus Free Response
A test can produce anxiety in any student. The second after a teacher mentions the word “test,” a student will undoubtedly raise his hand, ready to ask “What is the test’s format?” The teacher’s response will most always contain the words “multiple choice.” Although some may believe that multiple choice questions are just a “guessing game,” many different reasons demonstrate why they have always been a standard component of testing. Both multiple choice questions and free response test students on the information they have learned. The difference is that multiple choice do not allow students to simply regurgitate what they memorized the night before as one-sided free response do. Although they can require simple recall, when created correctly, multiple choice require students to think beyond the material, proving they have a deep understanding of the concept. This type of learning can be best demonstrated by a number of multiple choice questions asked on the AP US Government Exam. In class, we learned how people’s ideologies are formed, and what traits they possess that make them hold certain beliefs. Rather than answering a free response question that might have asked how ideologies are formed, we received multiple choice questions which had us apply the information to a new situation. The question described an individual and then asked what position he might take on an issue. We were forced to
evaluate this individual, and then apply the information we knew to his situation, providing for a much more valuable learning experience. Multiple choice questions are great in that they have the ability to jolt a student’s memory. Say a student was up studying all night and on a free response question, he could not remember the word he was looking for, even though he knew what it meant. That doesn’t seem fair. With a multiple choice question, the student would have recognized the word and been able to truly demonstrate his knowledge of the subject. Yet another favorable aspect of multiple choice is that teachers are able to grade multiple choice questions much faster than free response. This is beneficial for students because they are able to get their tests back in a timely fashion while the material is fresh in their mind. The longer students wait for a graded assignment, the more likely they are to forget the material and the less they care. By getting the test back sooner, students will be more likely to go over what they got wrong and then understand why. While free response has its merits, multiple choice builds skills that can be used later in life by going beyond the concrete material and requiring students to apply their knowledge to in alternate circumstances. As the most effective and valuable assessment, multiple choice questions enhance information learned in the classroom and helps students exhibit their knowledge of a topic’s principles.
By Casey Pearce Staff Writer
Teachers can give two types of tests: multiple choice and free response. While some people think that multiple choice exams are the better way of testing, they are no more than a guessing game. Students narrow the answers down to a few and then choose one, whereas students who take open-ended tests take them based on their comprehension and understanding of the material. To clarify my point, free response is a true examination of whether or not a student knows the information. Students answer the question to the best of their ability from the knowledge that has sunk into their heads. When test takers have an open-ended question or an essay, they study all of the information, not just the facts that may be on the test. They can show the depth of their knowledge and how what they have learned can be applied. It is a more accurate way to tell whether the student understands the true concepts behind the lesson. In math class, free response allows students to plan out an answer and write down everything that needs to be written for full credit. The teacher may see that the student knows the process and how to use it. Thus if a student makes a silly mistake like multiplying wrong, the student can be issued partial credit. In multiple choice tests, students cannot get partial credit. Free response helps the students see what they actually need to study for future exams. I have had cases where I may
not have known an answer, but guess and get it right on multiple choice. This doesn’t benefit the student. Sometimes I see that I get it correct and think to myself, “Okay, I guessed right! Lucky me!”but my answer with a free response question is “Oh, now I understand.”When the teacher gives feedback on a free response, the corrections lets me know what I need to further study for the final exam or for future tests. Another benefit to open-ended exams is that students more fully retain the information. When test takers write essays, they can take relatable information and back it up showing the depth of knowledge retained. The student is more likely to learn the information when relating it to something personal or memorable. An essay, or free response question allows the learners to see the mistake, probably get a lot of points taken off, and then never forget that mistake again. They are able to look at the corrections that the teacher has given them and process the information in a way that will help them on future tests. If information students write down is accurate and supported by data, then they will get some credit, not just a zero. Test takers must support the answer, give detailed examples, and elaborate. The case must be made clear. Students retain information for future use with open ended tests because they studied harder and applied their knowledge to the concept rather than making an educated guess and still not comprehending what has been taught in class.
Page 10 April 5, 2012 View more scene @ PHARBLOG.COM
Facebook encourages transparency in relationships As mentioned in the March issue of The Pharcyde, the dystopias that Benjamin students read describe the dehumanizing aspects of technology, yet as students and faculty have discovered, these tools enable them to reach out and communicate in intimate and powerful ways. In the first part of this three-part series, we featured the ways in which media sources such as YouTube and Skype have surpassed their intended entertainment and communicative purposes; working instead as a way of life. In the following article we explore the ways in which students share the truth about their lives through Facebook. In the final part of the series which will appear in the May issue of The Pharcyde, we explore the ways in which students utilize technology, specifically Facebook, as a significant aid in the grieving process after losing a loved one.
By Lauren Bernick Co-Managing Editor
Within minutes of updating his status on Facebook, graduate Matt Murray received 38 “likes,” inquisitive text messages, and several comments from friends. Murray had not posted a funny status or an intriguing photograph; he had become openly gay on his Facebook profile. Though his 400 plus Facebook friends were unaware of the news, Murray became “In a relationship” with another male, confidently. When Murray became openly gay, he told the people in his life who mattered most—his close friends and his family. He felt no obligation to inform the extra hundreds of people associated with him on Facebook. Facebook provides many ways in which one can categorize his or herself in terms of one’s relationship. The options are single, in a relationship, engaged, married, it’s complicated, in an open relationship, widowed,
separated, divorced, in a civil union, or in a domestic partnership. This option is just another way to keep one’s Facebook profile in its most accurate form. For Murray, this public change was a decision that he had thought over previously to
“It’s only the opinions of your actual friends or family that you care about.” MATTHEW MURRAY class of 2011 actually being in a relationship. He said, “I had thought about it a lot before it actually happened and before we were even official. But when the time to physically change my status came, I thought about it for a minute or two, and then it was more of just a casual decision.” Upon changing his status, friends and family took it upon themselves to contact Murray sharing their opinions. “It was funny actually. Within minutes of it happening my phone was buzzing off the hook. I also received numerous ‘likes’ on the post,” he said. “There was no bad feedback. It was mostly positive, but there was some inquisitive feedback.” Though Murray is comfortable with himself and his new relationship, sharing this information with people who play no role in his life, other than their presence on his Facebook newsfeed, was an unsettling concept at first. “There was that initial concern of people seeing it who I wouldn’t want to see it, but I
decided it did not matter to me that the rest of the people who I am ‘friends’ with on Facebook were informed. It’s not like I talk to half of them anyways,” he said. “I realized that it shouldn’t matter what they thought about me.” For Murray, becoming “Facebook official” had no impact on his relationship and will continue to remain that way. “Posting my relationship status on Facebook was only a big deal to people who didn’t know because they wanted to feel shocked by it,” he said. “The most important thing is that you recognize the level of being official with yourself and your significant other. Posting it to Facebook is just what it’s supposed to be, which is letting other people know,” he said. Murray realizes that though his decision was not crucial for him, for some people revealing personal information can cause uproar or concern. “It’s kind of unfortunate. Making a relationship status on Facebook should not have a play in anyone’s actual relationship, but I guess that’s just the way it is now,” he said. “I also think that many people make posts that they know will attract negative attention, and that’s just immature.” For those who may feel uncomfortable with posting their personal information onto Facebook, Murray shared some advice. “I wouldn’t post anything publicly if I’m uncomfortable with the majority of my Facebook friends seeing it. But at a certain point you realize that it’s only the opinions of your actual friends or family that you care about, and that diffuses the nerves.” When it comes to Facebook, Murray recognizes that Facebook allow users to create an ideal identity. “I was
recently talking with a friend about my profile and she made a comment along the lines of, ‘your pictures make it look like you have so much fun all the time.’ Realistically I’m an introvert and don’t really do many ‘fun’ things,” he said. “We network on Facebook by creating online identities for ourselves based on the ideal we want to exist as
in reality. It’s like virtual reality in that sense,” he said. “Our Facebooks have become our secondary selves.” “The overwhelming positivity of the responses relinquished any fear I could have had about negative reactions. But more importantly, it made me ultimately more comfortable in being open about who I am,” Murray concluded.
Where would you like technology to go?
“I would love a hologram projector that comes out of my cell phone so I could basically call someone and have them standing right next to me or right in front of me.” – Andrew Katzenberg ‘12
“It would be nice to... [have] technology that is able to transport health kits and food; possibly through cell phones... We need a way to physically get things to people in need.” – Alex Kaye ‘13
“I believe that in the future there will be a way to properly communicate sarcasm via texting.” – Michael Fishman‘13
Twisted triangles: movie version of books creates bias By Laura Barry Executive Editor
What do the Twilight series and Hunger Games series have in common? Well, besides having disappointing movie versions of the best-selling novels, they both have heart-breaking love triangles. These love triangles become depressing because readers have an extreme emotional stake in the outcomes, often loving both characters, but ultimately having to decide what “team” they are on. After taking a quick inventory of Benjamin students, it is clear that most people have chosen vampire Edward Cullen, the passionate romantic, over werewolf Jacob Black, the unconditionally-loving best friend, and Peeta Mellark, the butterflyinducing sweetheart, over Gale
Hawthorne, the rebellious yet loyal hunting partner. Once our hearts have finally accepted our decisions after reading the books, the movies come along and ruin everything. In Twilight for instance, the directors cast heartthrob Taylor Lautner to play Jacob, and the painfully awkward Robert Pattinson to play Edward. It’s just not even fair. Not only is Jacob’s body temperature balmy, but his character is much warmer towards Bella and his constant shirtlessness reminds us of just how much hotter he is. Lautner rips his shirt off approximately five seconds into the most recent Twilight movie, which not only left every girl in the midnight premiere screaming, but it immediately reminded me of why exactly I am Team
Jacob when it comes to the movies. The Hunger Games is no different. While the books put a lot of focus on Katniss’ relationships with Peeta and Gale, the directors made a fatal error by leaving out a large portion of the character development, forcing us as viewers to judge largely based on appearances. Josh Hutcherson, who was cast to play Peeta, is definitely a cutie, but he simply cannot compete with Liam Hemsworth, the Australian hottie chosen to play Gale. Not only is Hemsworth a much better actor, but his stares are so heart-swooning that it makes moviegoers forget just how much they loved Peeta in the books. So what team am I on? It is not longer fair to say that I am “Team Edward” or “Team Pee-
ta” simply because the movie producers have completely altered the way that I view their
characters; leaving my heart in too many love triangles to keep straight.
SAM GREENSPAN/ Online Editor
Movie versions often pick the wrong guy to make the cutest.
April 5, 2012
Spring Cleaning: unkempt Facebook causes potential roomie rejection
v While seniors stalk Facebook for roommates, Alana’s profile might turn away potential roomies
By Alana Dresner Columnist
Like most college-bound seniors this year, I recently embarked on a seemingly neverending journey to find a roommate. Everyone knows that the best way to get to know someone is to judge everything she does on Facebook: what pictures she uploads, what pages she “likes,” her type of humor, etc. It was only a few weeks ago when it hit me: my Facebook is the perfect reflection of my weirdness, and not even I would want to be my own roommate based on the strangeness level of my profile. Go figure. Everyone has heard the
phrase “Pictures are worth 1,000 words.” My pictures, on the other hand, are worth 2,000. When looking at a potential roommate’s pictures, you look for pictures of her at parties so you can evaluate how social and fun she seems. Because of school policies, you won’t find any pictures of me at your average high school parties. Instead, I can thank eight different spirit weeks for a plethora of embarrassing pictures of me dressed like everything from a homeless person to a goth girl to a gorilla. What’s worse is that I condone posting these humiliating photos. Who would want to be roommates with a girl whose
profile picture is of her and her shirtless dad dressed like a pilgrim and an Indian on Thanksgiving? Let’s be real, nobody would. People always want goodlooking roommates, but not too good-looking to the point where they make you seem ugly. Girls are always un-tagging pictures of themselves when they look remotely unattractive, yet I don’t think I’ve un-tagged more than three pictures of myself throughout my entire Facebook career. If you searched my tagged pictures, you’d find slightly disturbing images of me with braces in my middle school years and other pictures where I just look plain horrendous. Why do I never un-tag these pictures? I really don’t know. Marilyn Monroe said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you certainly don’t deserve me at my best.” I guess I agree with her, but then again she did grace the cover of Playboy three times, so I’m sure her “worst” can’t compare to mine. Some of the pages I “like” would be confusing to any Facebook stalker. Most teenage girls like “Justin Bieber” and are fans of “makeup.” I’m a fan of
“Chivalry Six Feet Under,” my own faux-music group that only has about 40 fans. I like “cloth napkins,” “Menemsha Texaco” (a gas station in Martha’s Vineyard), and “The Palm Beach County Library System.” My Facebook makes me seem like a grungy nerd who remains semihygienic using cloth napkins. I’m sure someone with chronic schizophrenia has a more cohesive set of pages than I do. While “spring cleaning” for some means cleaning up their Facebooks to seem more room-
mate-friendly, I sit looking at my Facebook without a clue in the world as to how to change my Facebook appearance. Should I start by un-tagging the early pictures of me in my awkward stages? Perhaps I should update my defaults and delete the one of me and my dad sitting comfortably in our Snuggies? Maybe I won’t change my Facebook at all! I want a roommate who likes me for who I am, even if that mindset lands me alone in a single.
Thanksgiving’s Day Alana
Two pictures that could change a potential roomate’s mind
Gleeks sing, dance, learn, live vicariously By Ashlyn Sendler Staff Writer
“A gleek is someone who really follows the show Glee, knows all the characters and has seen every episode. Some people say they are gleeks but haven’t seen all of the episodes, I mean I’ve seen every episode at least once and most of them twice so nobody can really question my gleek-hood,” said sophomore McKenna Johnston.
“I’ve seen every episode at least once... nobody can doubt my gleek-hood.” M. JOHNSTON sophomore
The term “gleek” comes from the popular musical drama TV series Glee; it is a mix of the words Glee and geek. Those who are obsessed with the show refer to themselves as “gleeks”. Many students like to consider themselves gleeks. The trend is becoming more and more popular as the seasons progress. Students have become so gaga for Glee that they own all sorts of Glee paraphernalia such as socks, shirts, sweatshirts, bracelets, phone cases, lip-gloss, notebooks, necklaces, bookmarks, and posters. Multiple students even kept a pair of the 3-D glasses from the 3-D Glee movie musical. The show attracts two different types of audiences, students who love to perform and watch the show to relate and learn from
the characters, and students who aren’t into the performing arts and look to Glee as a dream or inspiration. Junior Emma Brooks, who is a gleek and a performing arts student, said, “Being a dancer and all, I like to watch Glee because I can relate to the different styles of dance that they do on the show. And I like to watch how each dancer dances differently and pick up their different styles.” Other students who do not see themselves as artistically talented, also are motivated by the show. Johnston, a varsity lacrosse and football player, said “I’m inspired to sing and dance, but I don’t have the ability like some of the people in the show do. I wish I could sing like Finn or Arty or dance like Mike, but I can’t do either really.” Glee has even made an impact on school performances. The Variety Show these past two years has had Glee inspired numbers such as “Time Warp,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” and “Valerie.” Many gleeks even buy the Glee version of songs on their Itunes. “Most of their songs are on my I-pod. My sisters buy them. It’s not my fault if they’re good,” said Johnston. Students say they are obsessed with the show because they simply fall in love with the characters and the plot, while others just love it because the songs are catchy. Sophomore Ellie Jamison jokingly admitted, “I dance and sing in the shower and even in my mirror sometimes, but I wish more than anything that a group of my friends and I could break out into song during lunch one day and look as good as they do on the show.”
LAURA BARRY/ Executive Editor
‘Smart’ games gain popularity ‘Smart’ games, like chess and Scramble, have been a growing trend among students of all ages.
By Paige Sode Staff Writer
He wipes the sweat off his brow; he’s physically and emotionally drained, yet senior Austin Pepper knows that desperate times call for desperate measures. Perhaps he will be late for AP Calculus, and he’ll possibly be sacrificing his rook too, but according to Pepper, a chess victory in his study hall brings a man the greatest of life’s pleasures. Two-player educational games likes Chess, Words With Friends, and Scramble With Friends, have recently dominated the attention of students, generating a fierce knowledge-based competition like none other. Playing chess in study hall has become a new trend, and having been an avid chess player his whole life, Pepper continues to display passion towards the sport. “Whereas I’d rather be playing in my house for home court advantage, the library provides a fun atmosphere for all Benjamin students to play against each other,”
he said. “Chess is a game that really relies on critical thinking. It teaches players to think ahead, for every move brings out a different consequence. It is a game that parallels real life: think before you act.” Rather than playing apps on the iPhone that require no intellectual ability, like Temple Run or Angry Birds, apps that involve a challenge in which one has to demonstrate knowledge against another individual, seem to be gaining popularity. Words With Friends is essentially an Android and iPhone alternative to the classic game Scrabble. Just as in the standard board game, players receive seven lettered tiles to create words vertically and horizontally. The goal, with the help of scattered bonus squares, is to score more points than the opponent before the tiles run out. “The fact that you have the opportunity to be so competitive with your own friends, while improving vocabulary and learning
new words makes the game that much more addicting,” sophomore JB Thompson said. “When I play Danny Borislow, he manages to make me feel like a genius because despite his cheating app, I still manage to beat him.” Another iPhone app that continues to rise in popularity is Scramble With Friends. In this game, letters are arranged in a 4-by-4 grid, and players have to find words by connecting adjacent tiles. Users can choose opponents from their Facebook friends or contact list, or play with any random user. Sophomore Arden Sanford, who previously purchased the app, continues to see positive results in her academics due to her intense “Scramble time.” “This game has taught me words that I have never seen in my whole entire life. I am acknowledging Scramble, as well as all the other educational apps, [because they have] increased my English grade, so thank you Apple,” she said.
Page 12 April 5, 2012
Senior track star to run at Wake Forest University By Ben Greenspan Staff Writer
In light of her recent success, The Pharcyde has selected senior track and field runner Meredith Anderson as the female athlete of the issue. Anderson specializes in the 4x800m relay, 1600m, 3200m, and 5000m. Her season accomplishments thus far include first place in the 1600m in four meets and first and second place finishes in the 3200m with best times of 5:28.49 in the 1600m as well as a 12:02.00 in the 3200m. Her fastest time in the 3200m, however, came in 2009 when she broke the Benjamin School girl’s record with a time of 11:29, a record that still stands. Known for her strong motivational attitude, she is described by her teammates as “first one on the track and last one to leave.” “Mere has a very good work ethic,” senior Meg Downey, Anderson’s teammate, said. “She will always do the warm-up, workout, and cool down. Her hard-work pro-
vides good results for her, so I think it’s an inspiration for those who want to succeed in track. She really works hard and plays hard,” she added. Anderson’s talent was most recently recognized when was named Benjamin’s Pathfinder nominee for athletics. “We were very proud and honored to have selected Meredith Anderson as our nomination for the Pathfinder Awards,” Head of the Athletic Department Mr. Ryan Smith said about the decision. “Meredith has competed at the top of her level in her respective sports ever since she joined the teams in middle school,” he added. “It’s an honor to have been nominated,” Anderson said. “Regardless of whether or not I win, the Pathfinder process has been an enriching experience,” she added. Anderson claims that her commitment to running outside of school makes her the athlete that she is. “A lot of girls don’t do weekend work, but I do and that probably puts me a step ahead of them,” Anderson
said whilst stretching. “I just know how to run and compete, but I couldn’t do it without my team because running can get a bit boring at times.” Anderson said she is “thrilled” to be running the 800m and the 1600m for Wake Forest University next year. “I’ve wanted to apply solely for academics since junior year,” Anderson said. “I really decided to start looking into their track program in November.” Anderson met with both the Wake Forest Coach and girl’s track members on a recent tour, who showed her around the track facilities. “It was awesome,” Anderson said. “They had a whole athlete library, and a weight room; there was practically everything.” Girl’s track coach, Mr. Hohnadel, is continuously impressed by Anderson, who is ranked first in the 1600m and the 3200m. “This year she has done some good work and run some great races,” Mr. Hohnadel said, “Nobody works harder than Meredith Anderson,” she added.
ALANA DRESNER/ Columnist
Anderson plans to run for Wake Forest University next year.
Senior baseball player succeeds despite injuries By Sam Greenspan Online Editor
The Pharcyde has selected senior A.J. Alevizos as the male Athlete of the Issue because of his resurgence at the plate and in the field for the varsity baseball team. Alevizos, a four-year varsity baseball player, is having his best season yet, as he has hit for a .300 average and maintained an on-base percentage of over .400. On defense, junior catcher Brian Dolan thinks Alevizos “makes every play, even the ones you do not expect him to.” Teammates credit Alevizos’ play at the plate and in the field for propelling the Bucs to the top of their district and a 14-4 record thus far. His success has not come without having to overcome obstacles. He has had to recover from significant injuries that have plagued him throughout his high school career. As a sophomore, Alevizos suffered a broken hand; and during his junior year, he had
season-ending surgery to repair torn cartilage in his elbow. Even after Alevizos missed his whole junior season, head baseball coach Mr. Brian Kaplan is not surprised by Alevizos’ success. “A.J. would come out to all of the games and just observe what was going on. You could tell he was itching to get back out there,” Kaplan said. “Obviously being injured isn’t beneficial, but I do think A.J. learned a lot and has shown that by the way he has played since he recovered from his injury,” he added. A varsity captain, Alevizos turned last season’s injury into motivation to push himself even harder to improve. “The injury last season was just a chip on my shoulder,” Alevizos said. He improved his game by working on his swing throughout the offseason with Benjamin alumnus and current minor league baseball player Spencer Dickinson. Dolan noted that Alevizos’ energy and determination has
rubbed off on the rest of the team. “He brings so much leadership and energy to the game that everyone listens to him and follows his lead,” Dolan said. “He is a sparkplug. When he gets going, the whole team gets going,” he added. Although Alevizos has been succeeding individually, he believes the team’s record reflects everyone’s willingness to win. “I think we are doing so well this year because everybody is chipping in. Even kids who don’t play every day contribute to creating a winning atmosphere,” Alevizos said. Despite his personal achievements, his main concern is about ending his high school career on a winning note. “For my last season, I would love to keep playing the way I have been so far.” “My real goal is to do everything I can to take our team to states,” he concluded.
DEAN SANDQUIST/ Sports Editor
Despite injuries, Alevizos has lead his team to many victories.