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Middle School Newsletter

The Falcon Times A New Species Discovered in South Africa Rebecca Thau, Staff Writer Grade 6 The cranium of Malapa Hominid 1, Holotype of Australopithecus sediba from South Africa.

Photo: Brett Eloff, courtesy Lee Berger and the University of the Witwatersrand

ON THURSDAY, April 8, scientists announced that a new species had been discovered. In 2007, Matthew Berger chased after his dog, Tau, only to find an incredible archaeological discovery. The fossil that Matthew held up for his father, Lee R. Berger, an American paleoanthropologist (a person who works in a branch of anthropology concerned with fossil hominids), was around 4 feet, 2 inches tall and a little older than Matthew himself, who at the time was nine years old. The boy and the other fossils found of the same species are an unexpected mixture of primitive and more modern anatomy. They qualified as a new species of humanoid ancestors and close relation to humans. The species has been named Australopithecus sediba. Sediba, which means fountain or wellspring in Sotho, walked straight with long legs, human hips, and a human pelvis. However, they did climb trees with arms much like an ape’s. Sediba also had relatively primitive feet. The face was similar to that of Homo, however, a genus that includes the modern human. These people have been estimated to have lived around 1.78 million years ago to 1.95 million years ago by geologists. It is believed that they lived closer to the later date, when mixes of ape and human characteristics were predominate, along with Homo themselves.


No Text Challenge


MS Musical: Annie


Clash of the Titans


You Don’t Know Me


Acinetobacter Baumannii




Dr. Berger and his team said that this new species probably came from the Australopithecus africanus, an early humanoid who lived 2 to 3 million years ago. Dr. Berger also said that the species could possibly be an ancestor of Homo erectus, a species that came right before Homo sapiens, but did not lead to modern humans. Scientists who are not involved with the investigation of the sediba are discussing whether the bones belong to the Homo or the Australopithecus genus. However, most of them agree that the discoveries of these fossils are a great advancement in the early fossil history of humanoids.

No Text Challenge: A Journal Rebecca Thau, Staff Writer Grade 6

Sunday, April 25, 2010 So far, so good. However, that does not seem to be so hard at this point because I woke up around 11:30 a.m., and it is now around noon. My phone is out of battery (which I did on purpose because I thought that it would make it easier to not text), and it is charging now––no temptations there. Nevertheless, I am very tempted to click on my bookmark for Facebook on Safari, which I must admit is one of my favorite things to do. I have realized so far that not everything has to be electronic. It may sound funny to say that I have learned something from not even an hour of no texting, iChatting, Facebooking, or videochatting. For most people not in this generation, this might seem like an easy task (especially my parents who barely know how to text, don’t have an iChat and don’t have a Facebook), but for me and my friends, I am beginning to see how this is going to become a big problem. Later: I just got back from rehearsal and got my math homework done. I think that if I had been texting and iChatting I might still be working on it, even though I had almost finished it earlier. After rehearsal ended, I called my parents to tell them that it was over, and I told them that Emma Brick was taking the Miles car home with me. Even though it seems like it is something harder to do, it was a little better, I suppose, because I could really listen to what my parents had to say. I must admit that I was tempted to text, to click on the iChat icon on my dock, and to post on Facebook that everything was going all right with the no electronic communications. But I didn’t; I am still keeping everything as personal as I can by talking on the phone and emailing. It does feel a little old-fashioned, but I guess that was also a part of this experiment. Of course when I see my brother texting I am going to feel tempted. Of course I am feeling tempted right now. But I guess the fact that I am not doing all of these things (which makes me feel pretty good) is something to be proud of. Monday, April 26, 2010 School and rehearsal are over. I still have not texted (I didn’t even reply this morning when someone texted me) or IMed or posted on Facebook. This is becoming increasingly difficult as time goes on. It really is much more convenient to text someone; not to mention people don’t really answer phone calls anymore. Reflection Texting has become the normal thing to do. It is a whole lot easier to do than calling. It is not even because one doesn’t want to speak to someone on one side of a phone conversation; it is more than that. Just picking up a phone and typing really does take less time than dialing a number (yes, even contacts or speed dials), but it can be very impersonal as well. I found myself subconsciously playing with the keys on my phone. It is true: texting is a great pastime. But it also wastes time. I finished my work much faster without texting and IMing. Have I been totally changed and will I never to text again? No, that is most certainly not going to happen. But now I know that I don’t have to rely on those things. I can go out and do other things I love instead.

The Smash Middle School Musical: Annie

As Alex Oshea, playing the role of Annie in the Middle School Musical Annie, takes her bow, the entire audience stands up and roars in approval. Annie is a musical about a little redheaded orphan in the 1930s who finds herself in the 5th Avenue mansion of Oliver Warbucks (played by Max Wellington). Although Annie had many fabulous lead characters like Eva Moskoowitz, who played the role of Grace, it was the abundance of small parts, such as Ian Blow as Annie’s trusty stray dog, Sandy, and Anabel Getz as Mrs. Greer (a servant at Warbuck’s Mansion) that really held the show together. The Annie production by the Middle School has been said to be one of the best musicals that Ms. Eastman has done, and countless people have said so, including Joe, the beloved pianist who could not musically direct the show this year. With a heartwarming plot and an all-star cast, Annie was a huge success and a perfect representation of Ms. Eastman, Head of the Drama Department.

MOVIE BLURB Clash of the Titans

I went to this movie alone. I had a choice between this and How to Train Your Dragon. As I was deciding, I realized something: I don’t own a dragon. What I mean is: Why do I need to learn how to train my dragon if I don’t even have one? So I went to Clash of the Titans. At first, I was alone in the theater with nobody but my slushy and myself. It was kind of creepy when the new Nightmare on Elm Street trailer came on, but I have nerves of steel. I took pictures with my phone and ran around until people came and wrecked all the fun. Then the movie started. Clash of the Titans is about the Greek gods. I have seen so much of them that I’m starting to believe in them, although any group that Liam Neeson [Zeus] is the leader of is a group I definitively want to believe in. His voice is like music…if only he did audio books or GPS voiceovers! Anyway, the gods treat the mortals badly, and they get rebellious. When the mortals get rebellious, the gods feel like releasing the Kraken on them. A demigod named Perseus [Sam Worthington] (whose family was killed by the gods) and a small army go out to find a way to kill and ultimately destroy the Kraken. This is a solid premise. Simple? Incredibly, but it reminded me of a time when I didn’t care about simplicity or predictability in movies. If I were younger I definitively would have loved it. I don’t mean it in the way people say, “I would have loved The Spy Next Door if I was five years younger.” I mean it in the most sincere way I can muster. This movie really reminded me of many movies I saw when I was younger, and for that reason I liked it. But seeing that I am not six years old anymore, I have some problems with it. It was very, very predictable. Pick every single cliché you can think of, and this movie used it. Like I said before, it was also very, very simple. I was kind of annoyed how Hades sounded like a chain smoker while Liam Neeson sounded beautiful. It was a huge and annoying contrast. Speaking of Liam, I felt like the whole movie was just building up to that awesome line, “Release the Kraken!” There was some talk about “unleashing” the Kraken, there was even some about keeping the Kraken in, but we all know, it must be released. The dialogue was a bit on the weak side, but what did you expect? The action and CGI is cool and if you like giant monster battles, you will love this movie. If you’re one of those intellectual people, you should stay away from this one. But you’re probably too busy seeing Hot Tub Time Machine anyways. Two stars out of four.

John Cicco, Staff Writer Grade 6

BOOK BLURB You Don’t Know Me by David Klass Jordan Knitzer, Staff Writer Grade 6

You Don’t Know Me is about a young boy who simply feels that you have no clue about him. He thinks this because he has so many problems that you cannot understand what he is being put through. In other words, you have to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. Although it can get confusing, you start to get a basic understanding of his life. His name is actually Max. No, his name is Jason. He says, “You don’t know me. Just for example, you think I’m upstairs in my room doing my homework. Wrong. I’m not in my room. I’m not doing my homework. And even if I were up there in my room I wouldn’t be doing my homework, so you’d still be wrong….Her name’s not Mrs. Moonface, by the way. It’s really Mrs. Garlic Breath…Confused? Deal with it…You don’t know where I’m writing this from…And the only thing that stays constant is my brown eyes. Watching you.” His legitimate name is John. His father has left him, and he has been replaced by a new man, who has lost his wife as well. This new father is abusing John all of the time, for no specific reason. The mother has no idea that this is happening. Meanwhile, in John’s love life, Gloria Hallelujah is the one he wants to take to the dance. Struggling at home, in school, with girls, and his “dead frog” (John’s tuba), John manages to move on, barely. He feels that no one knows or cares at all about him. His worries are mentioned in almost every chapter. Even when the exact things he worries about don’t happen, other bad things eventually happen to him. “If my tuba can be a giant frog masquerading as a musical instrument, then it is possible that the girl of my dreams is actually not a girl at all but a hungry goat.” Will his identity be revealed? Will his father keep abusing him? What will happen with Gloria Hallelujah? Will John survive? To find out, read this confusing, yet mysterious novel and find out what happens to John.

Acinetobacter Baumannii Olivia Corn, Staff Writer Grade 7

A minor-league pitcher in his younger days, Richard Armbruster kept playing baseball recreationally into his 70s, until his right hip started bothering him. Last February, he went to a St. Louis hospital for what was to be a routine hip replacement. By late March, Mr. Armbruster, then 78, was dead. After a series of postsurgical complications, the final blow was a bloodstream infection that sent him into shock and resisted treatment with antibiotics. Not until the day Mr. Armbruster died did a laboratory culture identify the organism that had infected him: Acinetobacter baumannii. Gram-negative bacteria are bacteria that do not retain crystal violet dye in the gram staining protocol. Acinetobacter baumannii is a gram-negative bacterium, not a rare disease, and right now it is currently untreatable. This bacterium is mainly found in the intensive care units in hospitals where scientists and doctors have been trying to contain it. In a very short time, Acinetobacter baumannii will spread, and there is nothing that can help so far. Acinetobacter baumannii has a double cell membrane, and it secretes enzymes that break down antibiotics. Scientists have been trying to find a medicine so powerful that it will penetrate the double cell membrane. In some cases of diabetes, the person will eat so much sugar that the cells which take glucose out of the blood get destroyed. Scientists are trying to find a drug that will do that to the Acinetobacter baumannii cells. This is a very serious problem, so make sure you always wash your hands and if you are going to get surgery, try to find a hospital with a low-bacteria intensive care unit.


Fill in the blanks so that each row, each column, and each of the nine 3x3 grids contain one instance of each of the numbers 1 through 9. Solutions can be found in First Class under “Student Bulletins.�

Middle School Newsletter

The Falcon Times Riverdale Country School 5250 Fieldston Road Bronx, NY 10471 VOLUME 1, ISSUE 3 JUNE 2010

Staff Faculty Advisor Ms. Huggins Managing Editor Forrest Simpson Production Editor David Silverman Staff Writers Sarah Horne, Joshua Rothstein, Kirk Thaker, Rebecca Thau, Ethan Rosenthal, Anabel Getz, Jordan Knitzer, John Cicco, Olivia Corn

The Falcon Times Issue 3  
The Falcon Times Issue 3  

The Falcon Times is the newsletter of the Middle School. Printed quarterly, it aims to represent the opinions and interests of the Middle Sc...